Category: global warming
On May 8, 2013, the Wall Street Journal trotted out former astronaut Harrison Schmitt and physics professor William Happer to proclaim that 400 ppm of CO2 is no big deal. In fact, they exclaim that this extra CO2 is good for us because it is good for plants.
Media Matters harpooned the WSJ article, citing scientific research indicating:
- That the increased CO2 puts 20-30% of plant and animal species at increased risk.
- That climate change is leading to more floods and droughts, hurting agriculture and severe crop reduction.
- That climate change is “driving a multitude of related and interacting changes in the Earth system, including decreases in the amounts of ice stored in mountain glaciers and polar regions, increases in sea level, changes in ocean chemistry, and changes in the frequency and intensity of heat waves, precipitation events, and droughts.”
- That the WSJ article is wrong to claim that current CO2 levels are historically low, because they’ve only been higher during periods of mass extinction. For the past 800,000 years prior to the industrial revolution, the rate of CO2 never exceeded 300 ppm. Further, the problem is not simply the rate, but the rate of increase of the rate.
- That most species alive today have “never existed in a world with CO2 levels substantially higher than today’s”.
- That the WSJ article is factually incorrect to claim that carbon dioxide levels have “little correlation” with temperatures.
Media Matters also points out that neither of the two authors of the WSJ article has ever written a peer-reviewed article on climate change. Happer is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the George C. Marshall Institute, which accepts funding from the Exxon Education Foundation and the Koch brothers. Schmitt was a director at the industry-funded Heartland Institute. Schmitt has been a member of the Heartland Institute’s board of directors, which received more than $600,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2006 and still receives funding from the Charles Koch Foundation.
Media Matters also points out that the WSJ has made a habit of publishing misleading and outright false information regarding climate change (see citations). In fact the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded that 81% of the information regarding climate change published by the WSJ during 2011-2012 is misleading.
For those who are courageous enough to trust their eyes, these images will shock.
What is sick about the fact that we are destroying our only planet is that there ARE alternatives–sustainable sources of energy and conservation. There’s not as much mega-corporate money to be made with these alternatives and many people (led by corporate mass-media spin) see conservation as weakness and lack of freedom when it is actually the opposite. While these money and culture wars rage, we continue to permanently destroy areas of Earth so large that these time-lapse satellite images serves as a shocking lie detector: It is a huge lie that our continued rate of extraction of fossil fuels is consistent with a high-quality future lifestyle.
In Canada, big corporate money is funding the environmentally horrific tar sands project and the equally despicable effort to muzzle scientists who would otherwise be reporting on the environmental disaster. IO9 reports:
Big money muzzles truth-tellers. “The Canadian government is currently under investigation for its efforts to obstruct the right of the media and public to speak to government scientists. These policies are widely believed to be a part of the government’s unspoken campaign to ensure that oil keeps flowing from the Athabasca tar sands — even if it’s at the cost of free scientific inquiry, the environment, and by consequence, democracy itself.”
Was this blizzard or that hurricane or that drought “caused” by human-caused global warming? Michael Mann, a climatologist who directs the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, used this basketball analogy to illustrate this causation issue:
If you take the basketball court and raise it a foot, you’re going to see more slam-dunks,” Mann said. “Not every dunk is due to raising the floor, but you’ll start seeing them happen more often then they ought to.
At the recent Doha climate talks, Philippine climate change commissioner, Naderev M. Sano, appealed to his fellow negotiators at a session deciding the contours of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The context is as follows:
“Please let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around,” he said as he choked back tears.
Just days before, Typhoon Bopha had hit the Philippines, killing hundreds of people. The typhoon, having been both unusually forceful and out of season, was deemed — like Hurricane Sandy — to be an extreme weather event, exacerbated by climate change.
This is an extremely powerful moment. It plays into my frustration with those around me, and my frustration with myself. With a few extraordinary exceptions, Americans rolling along, not treating the use of fossil fuels as a weapon. We are all going to need to take this problem seriously, and I’m afraid deep down, that we won’t, and millions of people by the sea (and many of those far from the sea) are going to suffer horribly, and we will all take the result as “natural disasters.” I don’t mean to sound preachy. I’m about to get on a plane with my family and burn lots of fossil fuel to travel to see relatives during the Christmas holiday. If I were serious, I would not get on that plane, right? I’d make a statement by not traveling. All of that bicycle riding I do for commuting is for naught with one pleasure trip during the holidays. Further, I don’t know how most of us will face down the temptation to exploit the earth unsustainably when this exhaustion of resources described in detail by Geoffrey Miller is intimately tied to our sense of self-worth and our craving to display our worthiness to those around us.
My mood was captured by James Taylor in a haunting song from his 1997 Hourglass album, a song titled “Gaia”:
The sky was light and the land all dark
The sun rose up over Central Park
I was walking home from work
The petal sky and the rosy dawn
The world turning on the burning sun
Sacred wet green one we live on
Run run run run said the automobile and we ran
Run for your life take to your heels
Foolish school of fish on wheels
Turn away from your animal kind
Try to leave your body just to live in your mind
Leave your cold cruel mother earth behind
As if you were your own creation
As if you were the chosen nation
And the world around you just a rude and
Someone`s got to stop us now
Save us from us Gaia
No one`s gonna stop us now
We thought we ought to walk awhile
So we left that town in a single file
Up and up and up mile after mile after mile
We reached the tree line and I dropped my pack
Sat down on my haunches and I looked back down
Over the mountain
Helpless and speechless and breathless
Pray for the forest pray to the tree
Pray for the fish in the deep blue sea
Pray for yourself and for God`s sake
Say one for me
Poor wretched unbeliever
Someone`s got to stop us now
Save us from us Gaia
No one`s gonna stop us now
Go to 6:15 of this youtube clip and you’ll see Mitt Romney mocking Barack Obama on the issue of climate change at the Republican national convention. As Amy Goodman then points out, however, neither candidate (and none of the moderators) bothered to mention climate change at the debates. This is an incredibly sad state of affairs.
Today, Amy Goodman interviewed Richard Muller:
The following excerpt is from Democracy Now:
After years of denying global warming, physicist Richard Muller now says “global warming is real and humans are almost entirely the cause.” The admission by Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley and founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, has gained additional attention because some of his research has been funded by Charles Koch of the Koch Brothers, the right-wing billionaire known for funding climate skeptic groups like the Heartland Institute. “We can make the scientific case more solidly than had been made in the past,” Muller claims. “I think this does say we do need to take action, we do need to do something about it.”