published Sunday, April 6th, 2014

It’s our blue planet, and we can save it

Climate change is not a conspiracy — at least not a political one.

It is a confluence of stupidity. Our own. And it is the result of our own inability to take personal responsibility even for the simple act of turning on or off a light, or for demanding that our governments insist on smart industry — not just productive, but power-heavy, manufacturing.

By not paying attention we are making our world consistently more difficult to live in. We’re being penny-wise and pound-foolish. And ridiculously selfish.

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be urgent, and that the window to do something about it is closing.

“The evidence is overwhelming: Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising,” says the report. “Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Sea level is rising. The patterns of rainfall and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse, as is extreme precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.”

Yes, the daffodils are lovely this year, and they’re right on time. So how can this be so dire?

Because these changes are, at the moment, too spread out for most of us to be shocked.

And they have been gradual — but not gradual enough. Not unless we care to write off life as we now live it. Not unless we don’t care whether our children and our grandchildren have the same normal safe and well-fed lives that we have come to know.

“Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot-spots of hunger,” the report declares.

There also is high possibility of violent conflict over land, water or other resources, to which climate change might contribute indirectly “by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”

The report paints a disconcerting picture of the consequences of a warming planet.

Already, parts of the Mediterranean region are drying out and experts believe droughts there have contributed to political destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa.

In much of the American West, mountain snow pack is declining, threatening water supplies for the region. In Alaska, the collapse of sea ice is allowing huge waves to strike the coast, causing erosion so rapid that it is already forcing entire communities to relocate.

Globally, sea levels have risen eight to 10 inches since 1880, and several studies show that trend accelerating. If carbon emissions continue unchecked, a recent survey of experts concluded, sea levels may rise about three feet by 2100.

Remember Newton’s laws of motion from elementary science: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And remember, what great naturalist and conservationist John Muir said: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

We (millions of us) flip our light switches, and that makes power plants around the planet crank into higher gear. They belch coal or gas pollution. Nuclear plants billow no carbon plumes, but they heat up and hum alongside the cooling waters of the rivers and oceans — even while sea levels rise and ever-more-fierce storms threaten torrential rains and potential flooding. The world already has seen nuclear plants swamped into danger, including two in the United States. The Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska became an island in the Missouri River in June 2011 thanks to a combination of heavy spring rains and Rocky Mountain snow melt. In October 2012, flooding from Hurricane Sandy threatened two New Jersey nuclear plants, Salem and Oyster Creek.

Another way to think about the “everything is connected” or the “actions and reactions” adages is cake baking. When you mix together flour, eggs, sugar, salt, soda and milk you get a cake if you bake it at 350 degrees for a half hour or so. But if you put in too much salt, your cake is inedible. If your oven thermostat sticks, you can have charcoal, not cake.

These are things we can control. We can measure more carefully. We can replace the stove thermostat.

Climate change, too, is something we can control. The risk doesn’t come just from changing climate, but also from our own lack of preparedness, our tendency to leave people and assets in harm’s way, and of course our natural inclination toward denial that we might need to do anything differently.

It’s all about behavior. We already are controlling climate change — just not the way we need to.

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conservative said...

"Climate change is not a conspiracy — at least not a political one.

It is a confluence of stupidity"

Exactly! Exactly! Exactly!

For anyone to actually believe they are causing global warming/climate change is stupidity!

Those who try to bamboozle the frail of mind with this stupid nonsense use fossil fuels.

How?

Well the hypocrites drive.

The hypocrites use air conditioning.

The hypocrites use heat generated by fossil fuels.

The hypocrites use hot water generated by fossil fuels.

The hypocrites use refrigeration generated by fossil fuels.

The hypocrites use lighting generated by fossil fuels.

The hypocrites use electricity in general, generated by fossil fuels.

The bigger hypocrites burn a lot .jet fuel to go to conferences to tell the frail of mind that they are causing global warming/climate change

April 6, 2014 at 1:49 p.m.

Sad, lonely,and miserable Christian hypocrites make long lists.

April 6, 2014 at 2:05 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

There is NOTHING hypocritical about using the energy sources that exist today while drawing attention to how those very energy sources are killing us. There are a number of people who are doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint but the fact is that it takes a good deal of money to install and utilize the renewable energy sources presently available to us. One has to be extremely well-to-do to buy an electric car or install solar panels or build housing with the latest in renewable energy technology. Most of us have to rely on cars that still use gas and oil, houses heated and cooled by electricity, and we have jobs for which we need cars (and sometimes even planes) to carry us back and forth. The only alternative for most people who want to cease any and all polluting activities would be to stop being socially and economically active and live in a cave or ramshackle house with no plumbing or electricity. And that would accomplish nothing unless we had massive participation in such a drastic lifestyle change. And even then, nothing would be gained without equal proactive expansion of renewable energy technology.

We all like our modern-day conveniences, many of which have become necessities, and nobody wants to do away with them, or even curtail them. But we have it within our grasp as a nation to create a life and a society based on renewable energy that will provide the same conveniences and in fact create as yet unimagined ones, without destroying our planet and in fact will be clean and infinitely renewable. It is in no way hypocritical to speak out against the dinosaur of fossil fuels (and yet still use them - because at present we are stuck with them) while speaking up FOR the need to hasten our transformation to clean, renewable energy sources. Only a fool such as con-man would call that hypocrisy.

April 6, 2014 at 3:17 p.m.
conservative said...

Now, look at my short list again. Hypocrites by definition don't practice what they demand of others.

These hypocrites will not stop using fossil fuels.

Can you even imagine one of these kooks not using air conditioning or not driving?

April 6, 2014 at 4:55 p.m.
RShultz210 said...

There are 2 reasons why the Democrats will call you ignorant and stupid if you don’t believe their explanation and question it. 1) That’s just the way liberals argue, and 2)Not every science that has something to do with it is being used to argue the cause of climate change. Climatology, while a respectable science, is not the only science that helps explain climate change. Astrophysics, which deals in part with change in the motions of the sun and all the major planets is just as likely a candidate, but it is ignored. If it matters at ALL, it happens that I am neither a right-winger or a leftist. I am actually a rational anarchist who feels that the truth is more important by far than politics. “Greenhouse” gasses have been in our atmosphere over the history of this planet as has been shown in ice core samples. And the figures we get from these that approximate temperature before direct measurement began don't always correlate with the amounts of these gasses at any particular time. If you look at astrophysics, you find that Newton's work doesn’t quite cover the motions of the sun or the planets as observed. The reason is that the center of the sun is NOT the center of mass of the solar system. A point known as the "barycenter" is the actual point that all the planets and moons orbit. The barycenter is the point between two objects where they balance each other. It is the center of mass where a moon orbits a planet or a planet orbits a star. Both bodies actually orbit around a point that lies outside the center of the larger body. The moon doesn’t orbit the exact center of the Earth. It actually orbits a point on a line between the center of the Earth and the Moon that’s about 1,710 km below Earth’s surface. The solar system also has a barycenter and, depending on the current locations and masses of all the planets, the barycenter of the solar system is either below the surface of the sun or more than twice the sun’s diameter outside it. So the sun does a wobble around it. If you’d like to see it, go to: http://astro.unl.edu/classaction/animations/extrasolarplanets/ca_extrasolarplanets_starwobble.html This results in cycles of changing irradiance of all the planets, including Earth, which has several cycles one of which is a 30 year cycle in which the heat the side facing the sun gets is changing by about 3% which doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize that’s about 40 watts per square meter. That comes out to a total of 1.0305 x 10 to the 10th power MEGAWATTS of heat;an amount which could not be added to the atmosphere by any human activity including what the GAIA worshippers add in hot air.

Richard W. Shultz

April 6, 2014 at 4:59 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Solar cycles are not ignored. Astrophysics has not demonstrated to date that solar cycles are tied to more than regional effects.

April 6, 2014 at 8:11 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Mr.Shultz, the term "rational anarchist" is an oxymoron. I thought that anarchy was a philosophy, purview, or attitude that teenagers going through the "goth" phase latched on to while struggling with their identity. I honestly don't know how a mature person of any intelligence can think that little or no government is going to solve anything. I hear people say that our country it too big to be controlled by a centralized government but I don't see how an anarchistic system of 300 million individuals or even 50 individual states, without a centralized government at the helm, could possibly be a good thing. The anarchy that you anarchists (libertarians) like to think of as "individual freedom" would be utter chaos. Left up to our individual choices most people do not or will not do the right thing, especially in a capitalistic system that has greed and self-interest built into it. That is why we must have laws and regulations. And the purpose of our elected representatives is to enact those laws and regulations that serve the interests of those who have elected them. The problem with our government today is not some innate flaw in government itself but the fact that our government is not democratic. It is plutocratic. It needs to be taken out of the hands of the rich and big business and our politicians need to stop being beholden to their filthy-rich benefactors and puppet masters who have rigged the system entirely in their favor.

As for the stale hot air you are blowing about climate science being only one of many other sciences that study climatology, no other group of scientists has studied it for as long and in such depth as the climate scientists have. And you act as if they have completely ignored things like solar cycles, natural cycles of climate change, the natural buildup of greenhouse gases as opposed to man-made greenhouse gases, etc. But they have indeed taken all of those things into consideration and still they come to the overwhelming consensus that anthropogenic global warming is a reality and is happening at an even faster clip than had been formerly predicted.

I find it interesting and baffling that you deniers bend over backward to believe the pseudo-scientists, shills for big oil and the polluting industries, and the TV and radio right-wing pundits and know-nothings while discrediting and denigrating the very group of scientists who are the most knowledgeable in their field.

April 6, 2014 at 9:25 p.m.
Plato said...

Our Right Wing Ideologues have come up with a new one: "Climate Scientists, aren't the real experts on climate science"

Steven Colbert' needs to dive into this one :)

April 6, 2014 at 10:13 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Humans could have controlled carbon induced climate change, but no longer. Our window of opportunity has passed and we are now feeling the impacts of carbon creation from 40 years back. By 2030 exponential climate change will have brought us to 3.5C above the 1850 baseline, at a minimum. Habitat for food will have shrunk enormously and our own extinction will be underway.

Those aren't my thoughts, but rather a small bit of the well researched scientific synthesis gathered by Guy McPherson and accessible on his website at Nature Bats Last. His climate summary is updated regularly and has an active comment board following. His videos tell the story in a more colorful way. No matter what your beliefs might be regarding climate change, you will learn many (well footnoted) facts about which you were probably unaware before accessing this site.

Caution: The information can be disturbing. I found myself in a quiet introspective period for several days after my first exposure.

Note: Denial is one of the stages of grief.

April 7, 2014 at 1:11 a.m.
conservative said...

Hey nucanuck, are you still consuming 2.3 earths?

You have yet to give any details on your eco criminal behavior.

April 7, 2014 at 7:42 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Conservative, give it a rest. Everyone just ignores your stupidity. Talking to you about anything scientific is akin to trying to explain Ohm's law to a pre-schooler. Besides, you calling someone a "hypocrite" is just pot calling kettle black.

April 7, 2014 at 11:53 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Interesting that the burning of fossil fuels that enabled the industrial revolution, today's modernity, and an explosion in world population, could now be causing the reversal of all those trends through the bi-product of fossil fuels, CO2.

We will have come full circle in less than 200 years.

April 7, 2014 at 2:21 p.m.
conservative said...

Gauss:

Well your words are getting kinder but you have diminished your personhood.

April 7, 2014 at 3:12 p.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck:

Even at your consumption rate of 2.3 earths there is still more than enough fossil fuels to last past your lifetime.

April 7, 2014 at 3:17 p.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck:

I usually just have some fun with you without reading what you say. I made an exception this time. Unbelievable! You seem to be a follower of the self professed "militant atheist" and gloom and doomer, Guy MacPherson.

He wrote on Tuesday July 29, 2008:

"I believe the collapse of civilization will be complete, in this country, within five years, and will be accompanied by suffering that is unimaginable to most of us."

It is 8 April, 2014. Do the math. Do you or have sent this fool any money?

Ask for a refund!

April 8, 2014 at 10:07 a.m.
RShultz210 said...

Rickaroo I will not argue my political philosophy with you as it is apparent from your statements that you have the same knee jerk reaction full of preconceptions as to what anarchy is or is not that almost everyone has. It useless to argue with anyone who has already made up his mind and I don't do it.

April 8, 2014 at 11:19 a.m.
RShultz210 said...

lkeithlu:

I will answer your argument because you are not political and/or outright insulting as are all the other commenters in this forum. I respect you for your politeness and civility. I think you may have misunderstood my use of the term "cycle" or "cyclic". When I use this term in my post I am simply referring to periods of time and not to periods of change in the radiation or heat output of the Sun due to solar storms, coronal mass ejections, or sunspots. These have not been ignored, but have been taken into account. What I refer to is changes in irradiance resulting ONLY from movement of the sun and planets in relation to each other, and the fact that the center of mass of the whole system does NOT remain in the same place due to the movement of the sun around the point defined in my post as the 'barycenter'. I also refer to irradiance in the sense of the heat that the WHOLE portion of a planet which faces the sun receives. There are MANY cycles of change in irradiance for EACH planet, but the 30 year cycle which relates only to Earth involves a 3% change in irradiance over that 30 year period that amounts to 1.0305 x 10 to the 10th power MEGAWATTS of heat(or half the area of Earth in Square meters times 40 watts)and this is a HUGE amount of heat that is NOT accounted for by the climate change alarmists. I hope this clarifies things a bit.

April 8, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

I disagree that it has not been taken into consideration fully, is all. It has as far as I can tell, and although is a factor, it is not as great as the combination of greenhouse gases and loss of albedo. Curious to know your source that says this either has not been seriously considered or that it is of a magnitude that should be competitive with CO2.

April 8, 2014 at 1:11 p.m.
RShultz210 said...

I don't quite know how to answer because I think that we are still not "on the same page" so far as the cycle I am talking about. Let me try a slightly different way here. I would be the first to agree that the 11 year cycle of solar activity has been thoroughly taken into consideration by climatologists. They are intelligent people but I think their viewpoint on the significance of the MILLIONS of MEGAWATTS of heat that is being added over the 30 year cycle that I speak of isn't being given the consideration it SHOULD be given because of the political view of climatologists who are allowing their acceptance and consideration of data that should be given more weight to be affected by their agenda. I think we could agree here that both sides are likely guilty of this to some extent. I definitely don't blame JUST the left for this. But they ARE one of the two biggest groups involved. In addition, there are more cycles involved in this than just the 30 year 3% cycle. There are in fact several more of differing lengths that go all the way out to 2000 years. The 30 year cycle simply happens to be the one whose effect is most easily seen because of its short length and the large amount of heat involved. My sources for the number and length of the cycles are the calculations of several different astrophysicists at several different institutions. I hope this has been helpful.

April 8, 2014 at 7:46 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Thanks. Will look further.

April 8, 2014 at 8:44 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Shultz, are you basically dismissing the rapid C02 rise from 280 to 400 ppm (and climbing) as irrelevant to the projected temperature rise to 3.5C above baseline by 2100? Do you also assert that the current warming is not at the point of causing large methane releases that may compound the heat gain several times over?

If you are and if you can sustain your argument, you could save seven billion people from a very warm ending. You might become the new Einstein on steroids. And I would be able to leave feeling far better about the prospects for my grandchildren.

April 9, 2014 at 1:23 a.m.

Climate change: Why is the public so confused when the science is so certain?

http://www.theinternational.org/articles/525-climate-change-why-is-the-public-so-conf

Science vs creationists, special interests, and heads-stuck-in-sand

April 9, 2014 at 4:25 p.m.
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