Hottest year on record

January 31, 2011 | By | 10 Replies More

From IPS:

The year 2010 was the hottest ever measured since the beginning of the recordings, 130 years ago,” Anders Levermann, professor of climate system dynamics at the Physics Institute of the Potsdam University told IPS.

Over at Common Dreams, Sandy LeonVest despairs that this monumental finding doesn’t even make a blip in the national news. Nor is there any national concern about this:

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), in its annual projections for 2011, announced that it still expects fossil fuels to supply over three quarters of US energy consumption in 2035. The share of fossil fuels is expected to decline by only 5 percentage points — from 83 percent in 2009 to 78 percent in 2035.

I can’t get rid of that thought in my head – – that we will get what we deserve. It’s just the natural order of things.

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Category: global warming

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (10)

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  1. MikeFitz17 says:

    When I read articles like the ones above, I react with astonishment at the yawning gap between the American public's apathy/ignorance about climate change and the dire predictions of the scientists concerning the consequences of inaction. What will it take to get the public to listen? I suppose it will take environmental disasters akin to the historic flooding in Australia, or the wild fires surrounding Moscow last summer. By then, will it be too late for us?

    Inevitably, I feel a profound sense of helplessness. How should I respond? Write more letters to my Congressman? Pray? Act like everything's going to be OK, no matter what?

    If you believe the scientists (which I do), such as the ones who sat on the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are headed for many decades of epic environmental catastrophes unless we cut carbon emissions drastically right now. Ultimately, the planet will recover. But it's the human beings I worry about. Ideas, anyone?

  2. MikeFitz17 says:

    Erich: I'm really glad you posted these articles. But I had to address your concluding comment: "I can’t get rid of that thought in my head – – that we will get what we deserve. It’s just the natural order of things."

    If only life were so. But it ain't.

    In the case of anthropogenic global warming, those who are the least responsible for the fix we're in — the poorest people living in the poorest nations, which are the lowest emitters of carbon-dioxide — will be paying the heaviest price in terms of food and water shortages, flooding, severe hurricanes, lost coastlines, droughts and other calamities associated with global climate change.

    Meanwhile, those most culpable, the industrial world, led by the United States, the worst carbon-emitter per capita, will be paying the lowest price for their recklessness, ignorance, negligence and cowardice.

    And on an individual basis, those who've reaped the biggest rewards from carbon pollution, such as the billionaire Koch Brothers and the executives of Exxon — who have spent lavishly on publicity campaigns to deny global warming and to muddy the debate — continue to be richly rewarded for their sins.

    Based on what I've seen, you can make a strong case for the idea that very seldom do people get what they deserve, especially the worst amongst us.

    Cases in point: The Wall Street bankers who raked in billions for wrecking the American economy. The scoundrels who fabricated the case for the United States invasion of Iraq, and who kept the United States in Vietnam long after we should've left, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. The last time I checked, Dr.Kissinger still has his Nobel Peace Prize, along with the esteem of the Washington establishment.

    I have found that when it comes to global problems, seldom does any person or group get what they deserve. In other words, the rich get richer, and the poor get crumbs.

    This is what makes me so angry about the powerful people in government and business who are denying global warming and preventing meaningful efforts to mitigate it. They're not going to be around in the decades ahead, when the really bad stuff happens, to answer for their negligence, ignorance and arrogance. And by then, finger-pointing will be moot anyway.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mike: I agree. I meant the collective "we" are going to get what we deserve, but the brunt of the pain is going to fall on those who have very little to do with the bone-headed energy policies we are pursuing.

  3. MikeFitz17 says:

    Whenever I think about the problems of global warming/global climate change, I imagine myself on a big airliner flying over the Pacific Ocean.

    The airliner is experiencing obvious problems. Big, cinder-black plumes of smoke are trailing the engines on each wing as the aircraft steadily loses altitude. No doubt about it, this airplane is in trouble. I notice that a few the passengers around me have reached the same conclusion. Which is why they are acting so agitated. They grip the arm rests of their seats, they talk in worried tones with their seatmates. Every few minutes they ask the flight attendants what's going on and what is the flight crew going to do about it?

    In contrast, the great majority of the other passengers act with total nonchalance. They seem utterly oblivious to the engine smoke or altitude loss. Instead, they continue playing games on their smart phones, watching movies on their iPods or reading People magazine stories about the latest antics of Snooki, Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan.

    A few minutes pass, and now things are looking really ugly. The engine smoke has become a thick wall. Huge sparks are flying out of one of the engines. The ocean waters appear terrifyingly close. In desperation, I bolt from my seat and pop open the door to the flight cabin. There a horrifying scene confronts me: the navigator is surfing porn on his laptop computer; the co-pilot is drinking from a bottle of Jack Daniels; and the pilot is on his own laptop, watching a rerun of "Friends." All seem indifferent to their impending demise.

    "Do something!" I shout.

    In response, the crew members look up at me with a quizzical look and then ignore me. One of them even laughs. "Everything's fine," he mutters.

    So it is with the global warming debate. The science is settled. We know what we're facing. We know what the price of continued denial and inaction will be. Yet the leading governments of the world refuse to do anything, except to talk and to agree to talk some more.

    I think the airliner metaphor is apt because the virtuous behavior of individual passengers won't make any difference in preventing the airliner's crash. The only meaningful action can come when the leading governments act together, and very soon, to take dramatic steps that place a price on carbon emissions and that drastically scale back the amounts of carbon entering the atmosphere.

    But the political will is entirely absent, and I realize now that it might not ever materialize no matter how terrifying the warning signs become.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mike: Great illustration of the malaise. That's how I see it too. The science is settled, and requires us to act. And yes, most of us go on with the day-to-day path of least resistance: life as usual. We prefer to think that we life on an amoral oasis where we don't need to consider whether local actions have national consequences.

      When I watched inconvenient truth, I was stunned when Al Gore assured the audience that we can still do something to change our ways, and that resignation is not the intended purpose of his film. Most people I know (me included, much of the time) are resigned to re-arrange those deck chairs on the Titanic. My nightmare is that it might need to get a lot worse before people will be goaded into action, yet that might be too late to do anything to reverse course meaningfully.

      There are real actions that we can take, individually, but many of them require mental and physical work. Most of us are just too busy with things that seem more important things at the moment. Steven Covey's 2 x 2 matrix of urgent versus important things seems apropos. http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/10/05/the-t

  4. Martin says:

    Erich said: "I can’t get rid of that thought in my head – – that we will get what we deserve. It’s just the natural order of things".

    This has always been true Erich. There has long been a belief that we get what we deserve. We get the government we deserve because we voted for them and must suffer the consequences when their policies fail, or they fail to initiate the policies we thought we were voting for. We get the TV we deserve because we watch dross in our millions so the indefinite "they" decide that since dross is cheaper to produce than quality they will give us dross in indigestible chunks. We also get the press we deserve; when they dress up an economic disaster with the double-speak of a Wall Street banker we see through their deception and accuse them of trying to pull the wool over our eyes but when they speak it like it is and shoot from the hip we degenerate into a chaotic panic and stuff our life savings under our mattress in case the sky falls in. Whichever way they call it they're bound to be wrong; a bail out induces panic but an economic recovery is a suspicious cover-up. So why should they even bother trying to be right? And since we know they are not being honest, we don't believe them. It's a logical loop that feeds back on itself, a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    So maybe we can also draw a more general conclusion that we get the society we deserve, the government, the TV, the press, the education, the environment, the healthcare, and yes the economy we deserve. So if the world's economy is sliding into a sewer then maybe I, as a part of that society – I am after all one of those "we" whose fault it is – am just as much to blame as everyone else?

    Maybe, instead of looking to them, those others, the rude people, the racists and the bigots for solutions, maybe I should be looking inwardly to make myself a better person instead of always pointing the finger of blame elsewhere. Maybe the route to a happier society is found not by banding together and protesting with banners down Constitution Avenue, pretending we can bring about change, but by diligently working on self-improvement, personal education, personal morality, personal awareness, personal understanding and empathy for others?

    This, however, will never catch on. For this to work people would have to be responsible for the consequences of their own actions. Which is the irony of a welfare society; we cannot be made responsible for our own self improvement because we are not responsible for what happens if it goes wrong.

  5. thethinkingman says:

    Why is it that conservatives always blame the liberals and say Its all a conspiracy to take our money? From a buddy:

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/falla

    I find it pretty fishy but he swears by it…

    • Erich Vieth says:

      thethinkingman – I can help but notice the incessant self-citations. SPPI bolsters its arguments by constantly citing to itself. The "About" and "Personnel" pages are empty.

      DC-based SPPI has all the stink of a fossil fuel industry funded propaganda machine. Where is it that SPPI connects up its conclusions with real scientists doing real science?

  6. MikeFitz17 says:

    TheThinkingMan and Erich: Your suspicions about SPPI are on-target. It's a rightwing front group set up to downplay global warming. Its executive director is Robert "Bob" Ferguson, the former chief of staff for ex-U.S. Rep. Jack Fields, R-Texas. Its chief policy adviser is Christopher Monckton, a former special adviser to Margaret Thatcher, according to Wikipedia.

    Do with this information what you will.

    I always get a kick out of how the conservatives like to tout the superiority of "their" anti-global warming scientists versus the many eminent scientists, including Nobel Prize laureates, who served on the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Let's face it: the choice comes down to whom are you going to believe: Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck, on one hand, versus 2,000 of the world's most respected scientists who, as IPCC members, spent years taking countless precision measurements. Not much of a choice, is it?

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