So you think climate change is not quite yet the premier issue of our time?This is a timely piece on Lynas’s 2008 book Six Degrees: Our Future On A Hotter Planet. Timely because our friend Paul Krugman posted a must read article only a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times “Loading the Climate Dice”, (title courtesy of James Hansen, the NASA scientist who did more than anyone to put climate change on the agenda, suggested the analogy of loaded dice.)
The post raises the salient point: how are we going to come together as a species and face the obvious?
The American discourse about anthropogenic (human-made) global warming is flawed. Even, sometimes, the discourse here. Putting the denialists to the side, the debate is cast as a choice between “the planet” and economic interests. As if the planet were some abstraction. As if it were some other planet, not the one we’re living on. As if the choice were polar bears vs. jobs.
Further lament towards the end of his post: “You don’t have to give a damn about polar bears. You don’t have to believe that coral reefs have inherent value. It doesn’t matter if you care about the Costa Rican golden toad, and it’s too late if you do; global warming has caused it to go extinct. You don’t have to think of the grandchildren, your own or someone else’s. Pure self-interest is enough!”
Bill McKibben proposes a way forward as he identifies the real enemies of our planet, the oil & gas industry. The quick overview: this plan is feasible if everyone cooperates, from the politicians who will have to drastically reduce subsidies to the non-renewable energy companies, to a mandatory carbon tax for all, as well as the immediate implementation of a comprehensive conservation program of all natural resources. In addition to this all countries will have to adopt a rapid transition to a renewable and clean energy future, something that may be achieved through tax breaks and political will. This won’t be easy, we are warned, as the powerful energy companies will not simply stop coal mining and oil & gas drilling but continue to use their known reserves even though it is becoming obvious that our world is overheating.
Then we have the rapidly melting arctic sea ice. This post is quite alarming, and rightly so: the jet stream has gone north of Greenland this summer meaning its circulation pattern is leading to record ice melt across the Arctic and unprecedented melting in Greenland. The accompanying photographs from NASA are shocking, clearly showing the extent of the melt.
Still on the Arctic, shooting across the bow Frances Hunt introduces a guest column from Dan Ritzman, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club:
Over the past 10 days I have been floating down the Canning River which forms the western boundary of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. During my trip I encountered wolves, river otters, the rare yellow billed loon and thousands of caribou that were hanging out in the Canning River delta at the edge of the Arctic Ocean — like me they were enjoying the stiff breeze that kept the millions of mosquitoes at bay. When I left on the trip I knew that Shell’s drill ships, the Kulluk and Nobel Discoverer, were on their way north and that when I reached the end of my float I would only be a few miles away from the spot Shell plans to drill some of their exploratory wells this summer. While I was sitting on the edge of North America looking off into the still frozen Beaufort Sea it saddened me to think that in a few weeks Shell could begin drilling out there, placing all that I was looking at and all of the wildlife I had seen at risk from oil spills and other pollution.
So we have Shell who is going to drill in the Arctic! Of course we have heard from Shell and its well oiled public relation, yammering at length on how much we really should trust them with their safe drilling operations and pollution free extraction. Naturally, they will be ready to clean up oil spills in the Arctic region should they occur. Yes, they will, you betcha!
And finally, in a little noticed piece cheekily titled “Climate change is a hoax?” a poster named arlandbaee wonders what has happened to America’s belief in Science and why do people refuse to believe in climate change. This excellent post explains our dependency on climate cycles, on the regularity of precipitation to grow crops. And these are the parting words:
Nearly every multicellular life form on this planet lives and dies according to their adaption to their climate. When that climate changes too quickly for a species to adapt, that species dies. This will be no different for us.
Indeed, The Times, They-Are-A-Climate-Changing!