Tackling Climate Change: What We Need to Do.

Via Rolly Montpellier
on Mar 12, 2013
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Common Sense
Common Sense

A “Common Sense Revolution”

Common Sense is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine.

It was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolution.

The phrase “Common Sense Revolution has been used as a political slogan to describe “common sense conservative” platforms in Australia and the state of New Jersey in the 1990s. However, it is most widely known as the name of the political movement which caught fire under the leadership of Mike Harris, the Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario from 1995 to 2002.

It was a time for people to be introspective and take a sober look at the politics of the day, government waste, the role of government, taxation, social services and public debt. There was a sense of urgency about setting the clock back to a more rational approach, about doing things right and doing the right things. Change was in the air! Change was needed!

Crisis of Confidence

We see that same level of urgency in the United States of America. A return to common sense—a Common Sense Revolution—is imminent. The most powerful empire in the world is being challenged from within. And maybe like Rome, the U.S. empire will fail and collapse. There are signs of domestic systemic failure— inequality, economic collapse, chronic unemployment, stagnation, political ineptitude and gridlock. America’s international problems are equally daunting— chronically at war, instability of oil supplies, target for terrorists, loss of credibility and the growth of China.

There’s a crisis of confidence in the heart of Americans. U.S. Citizens have lost faith in their politicians and their leaders. They no longer believe what mainstream media are telling them. They know fundamentally that something is not right. Their democracy is broken; their liberties are curtailed by an overzealous Homeland Security behemoth and the 1 percent own more than the bottom 100 million Americans combined.

Summer of Discontent—the Turning Point

Wildfires
Wildfires

Adding to current political and economic crises is the emerging realization that climate change is a very real threat that can no longer be ignored. Last summer, much of the country witnessed a heat wave never felt by anyone.

The disastrous Colorado fires, the unrelentingly scorching heat and widespread droughts have now convinced dozens of millions of Americans that climate change is real.

The summer of 2012 has done more to galvanize public opinion that climate change has already started than the world-wide campaigns by activists, organizations, scientists, climatologists and environmentalists combined.

Consumers are also feeling it with rising corn and soy prices which are sure to lead to much higher food costs in the future. Climate change is becoming an issue of far greater concern than that of terrorism, war, the economy, gay marriage, abortion, education and gun control. It’s the only issue that truly affects every single living thing on the planet.

Fred Krupp (Environmental Defense Fund and co-author of “Earth: The Sequel”) says that:

One scorching summer doesn’t confirm that climate change is real… what matters is the trend—a decades-long march toward hotter and wilder weather. But with more than 26,000 heat records broken in the last 12 months and pervasive drought turning nearly half of all U.S. into disaster areas, many climate skeptics are reassessing the issue.

According to a recent report in Bloomberg Business Week, a poll taken in July 2012 by UT Energy  shows that 70 percent of respondents now believe that climate change is real compared with 52 percent in 2010. Climate change deniers who say it’s not taking place fell to 15 percent from 22 percent.

Feeling the Fear

Fear is a powerful and primitive human emotion. It alerts us to the presence of danger and was critical in keeping our ancestors alive. The long trends are ominous! For the first time ever, Americans fear the effects of climate change. They wonder if the droughts will persist year after year; they muse over the crop failures, depleting water supplies and aquifers; they’re asking questions about how their children and grandchildren will deal with these conditions as they worsen.

Americans are seeing and feeling the symptoms of global warming like never before in recorded history. In recent years, interest in warming statistics has been overshadowed by more immediate concerns such as terrorism, war and a poor economy. Americans now are starting to feel the fear.

Scott Stenholm reports in Huffington Post that:

this summer has marked the dawn of a new era where a poor economic climate will not only pale in comparison to, but will be exacerbated by, actual climate. Global warming is literally cooking our lakes, rivers and oceans as evident when it was recently reported that hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of fish have died as a result of water temperatures reaching as high as 100 degrees in Iowa and Illinois at an enormous cost to the fishing industry there.

Fear is a great motivator, it’s the ultimate motivator. As reported by Bill McKibben, in an email sent to subscribers of 350.org:

Just last week, the U.S. climate movement showed us just what it means to organize with courage, even when faced with foes like the fossil fuel industry. Across the country, protests rumbled the industry, and it looks like it’s just the beginning… doesn’t sound like a movement that is paralyzed by its fear. In fact, that sounds like a movement that is ready to end business as usual for the fossil fuel industry.

Photo: Jenna Pope | Forward on Climate Rally
Photo: Jenna Pope | Forward on Climate Rally

We’re slowly accepting that new thinking, combined with courageous political determination, rational bipartisan solutions and American willpower, will be essential to win the war on climate change. Nothing less than the American ingenuity typified by the Manhattan Project, in which the U.S. beat the Germans to the bomb and eventually won the war setting off an unprecedented economic boom, is required. A return to commonsensical solutions that address both climate change and its effects on economic health is fundamentally critical for success.

The Link to Common Sense

To ignite the forces of revolution you need to light a match. Occupy Wall Street provided that spark. Occupy has exposed corporate greed, lawless bankers, massive campaign donations choking the political process, a broken dysfunctional democracy, rising inequalities between the rich and the middle class, and an unsustainable debt load that will be passed on to future generations.

But to sustain a revolution, you need to build a fire. Fear of climate change may just be the fuel that feeds that fire. When fear is present, common sense solutions are sure to follow. One can either be immobilized by fear or motivated to take action. And a growing number of people are recognizing that the warming of the planet is caused by human activity. Fear can be quite paralyzing but can also lead to extraordinary courage in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.

Seeking solutions that are logical and rational and making decisions that will have a positive impact on our environment is common sense. Rampant economic growth must be replaced by sustainable activities that will not rob future generations of their right to the same opportunities we have enjoyed. That too is common sense.

green peace extreme weather

Emerging Consensus

The recent emergent conservative view is evidence that common sense has a chance to succeed. In the same article, A New Climate-Change Consensus, Krupp establishes the emerging consensus:

Respected Republican leaders have spoken out about the reality of climate change… these views may turn out to be a welcome turning point. For too long, the U.S. has had two camps… one camp tended to preach about climate science … the other camp claimed that climate science was an academic scam designed to get more funding, and to strangle economic growth… constructive conversation rarely occurred. If both sides can now begin to agree on some basic propositions, maybe we can restart the discussion.

Proposition 1 – uncomfortable for skeptics, but it is unfortunately true: Dramatic alterations to the climate are here and likely to get worse—with profound damage to the economy—unless sustained action is taken. As the Economist recently editorialized about the melting Arctic: “It is a stunning illustration of global warming, the cause of the melt. It also contains grave warnings of its dangers. The world would be mad to ignore them.”

Proposition 2 – uncomfortable for supporters of climate action, but it is also true: Some proposed climate solutions, if not well designed or thoughtfully implemented, could damage the economy and stifle short-term growth. As much as environmentalists feel a justifiable urgency to solve this problem, we cannot ignore the economic impact of any proposed action, especially on those at the bottom of the pyramid. For any policy to succeed, it must work with the market, not against it.

Richard Muller, Berkeley Physicist
Richard Muller, Berkeley Physicist

In a 2011 study, funded by climate-skeptical industrialists David and Charles Koch, University of California, Berkeley physicist Richard Muller (also a climate skeptic) confirmed that temperatures have been climbing over the past five decades.  His conclusion:

“You should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.”

A more recent analysis by Muller’s Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature research team has produced a new analysis of global temperatures over the past 250 years. The conclusion is that “climate change is ‘almost entirely’ due to greenhouse-gas pollution.”

Are we witnessing the beginning of an intellectual revolution?

Can we hope to see the emergence of common sense in our politics and economic systems now focused on perpetual growth? The fear of annihilation, our responsibility to future generations, the threat to survival are basic rudiments of the human species… Humans have been adapting to a changing planet for thousands of years but can we adapt to massive global climate change?

The successful revolution in the final analysis requires conviction of the need for change in attitudes and values. We are not there yet. But it might be a beginning.

In the words of the great Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi:

“The quintessential revolution is that of the spirit, born of an intellectual conviction of the need for change in those mental attitudes and values which shape the course of a nation’s development. A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success.”

 

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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

 


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About Rolly Montpellier

Rolly Montpellier is a blogger, writer, activist and the founder of BoomerWarrior.Org. BoomerWarrior is for the socially aware and politically conscious; for the change-makers and thought-provokers; for the light and young at heart; for anyone willing and courageous enough to move forward.

Comments

217 Responses to “Tackling Climate Change: What We Need to Do.”

  1. samitee says:

    I must take issue with several false statements in this article. Please set the record straight and research these talking points before spreading disinformation. "Last summer, much of the country witnessed a heat wave never felt by anyone." This is patently false. The heatwaves and droughts of the 1930s and 1950s were MUCH worse than anything we've seen in the last few decades. The drought of 1988 was much worse than any drought of 2012. Please research this.

    While the fires of Colorado last summer were certainly disastrous, they were not unprecedented like the media claims. The fire of 1898 alone was much more disastrous than last year's fires. That fire burned almost the entire northwest of the state of Colorado. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res… Please also see the fires of June 1890 (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wZ5XAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wvMDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6365,3344604&dq=fire+sangre+de+cristo&hl=en).

    There were something like 48,000 forest fires in 2012. That is the smallest total since the National Interagency Fire Center started tracking it in 2003. It is almost 25% below the mean and about one fourth of the 1938 total. And please don't argue about acres burned, that has nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions and much more to do with fire suppression.

    You quoted Fred Krupp in the article – "One scorching summer doesn’t confirm that climate change is real… what matters is the trend—a decades-long march toward hotter and wilder weather. But with more than 26,000 heat records broken in the last 12 months and pervasive drought turning nearly half of all U.S. into disaster areas, many climate skeptics are reassessing the issue." This is nothing but fear based propaganda. The idea that there were more than 26.000 heat records broken means nothing when analyzing how these temperatures were taken and also asking how many cold records were broken? Pervasive drought? Take a look at a map right now and look at all the record cold and snow the country is having. Droughts come and go, there is nothing record breaking about any of this, the facts say otherwise.

    "Americans are seeing and feeling the symptoms of global warming like never before in recorded history." This is more fear based propaganda. Quoting activists like Bill Mckibben who is wrong on almost every prediction he makes and silences debate at every corner is not helping your cause. Please re-examine your position and do some more research because this article is full of misinformation. "Emerging consensus" and "majority rule" is not how science is conducted.

    Stop scaring the children by engaging in irresponsible journalism and please check your facts before posting false information.

  2. Thank you for posting your comment and the link to the 1898 NYT article. The other link provided does not work.

    In the same way that I have quoted from newspaper articles, you seem to put a lot of emphasis on a report from 1898 to dispute the fact that global warming is happening. While it is true that one cannot look at specific events – a drought, a flood, wildfires, super storms – to claim that we are heading for an unparalleled climate crisis, the frequency and intensity of such events are undeniable. To pretend this is not happening is having one's head in the sand.

    When 99% of scientists and climatologists agree what we are facing a warming of the planet and that an increase of 2 degrees will have disastrous impacts for our planet, then what you call fear-based propaganda is in fact factual and realistic. The denial industry spends millions annually to discredit scientific findings and generating misinformation. And you claim that what Bill Mckibben, James Hansen and many others are doing as nothing but propaganda.

    As for the children and grandchildren, what will you tell them in a few decades when they face the dire consequences of our inaction?

  3. samitee says:

    Once again, science is not done by consensus. The claim that 99% of scientists and climatologists agree that we are facing a warming of the planet and that an increase of 2 degrees will have disastrous impacts for our planet is dubious. Do you have a source for that claim? You speak of the "Denial Industry", what about the "Fear Industry" ? It goes both ways. Mckibben, Hansen et al have no data to back up their claims. They continue to move the goalposts when their claims fall flat on their face. Are you aware that the IPCC has recently admitted (finally) that there has been no warming on the planet for the last 16 years? As for the children and grandchildren … again with the fear based propaganda? Do it for the children? Come on, don't you see how laced with fear all of this is?

    Finally, regarding the 2 articles I posted, I posted them to specifically counter your claim about Colorado Fires. I did not post those articles to prove that global warming isn't happening. Nobody needs to prove that such a claim isn't happening, only the scientists who put forth that theory are responsible for proving it's actually happening. Based on their own standards, they've failed and proven their own null hypothesis. Are you aware of this? The articles I posted were in specific reference to your false claims about Colorado Fires. We are not having more or worse fires, droughts, hurricanes, tornados, cold/snow etc. than we have in the past. Sea levels are not rising. The Arctic has more ice today than it did 5 years ago at the same time. Antarctica has more ice than it has ever had in the satellite era. These are EASILY proven facts. Of course there has been some natural warming in recent decades but nobody has even come close to proving that it has anything to do with carbon dioxide. The claim itself is pretty silly when examined closely. These scientists ignore things such as UHI in their calculations. They don't take other factors into account with any reasonable measurements either (such as cloud systems, cosmic rays, or even the sun). Please research some of these facts before spreading more CAGW propaganda.

  4. I suppose I could spend a lot of time providing sources for my claims about climate change risks but you will simply counter with facts of your own to disprove what I'm saying. But that is the nature of debate is it not? There are enough facts and statistics to allow anyone to make a case for or against any issue.

    That said, I will simply dispute your false claim that sea levels are not rising. Sea levels in California – "California's sea levels could be a foot higher in the next 20 years, two feet higher by 2050 and over five feet higher by the end of this century, according to a National Research Council report."

    "Sea levels on the East Coast, from North Carolina to Boston, are rising much faster than the rest of the world, according to the US Geological Survey."

    On Arctic ice, your claim that there is more ice is ludicrous. There are dozens of report and photographic evidence about summer ice melt being the most extensive ever seen. "According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) summer melts on the Arctic ice sheet have been recently breaking records and once the glaciers are gone, they're unlikely to come back."

    The evidence is there for you to see.

  5. Thank You Samitee for posting your points-of-view. I was debating on whether or not I wanted to walk into this one, and was gratified that yours is the first reply.

    Not only do I fully agree with you, I also feel there is a VERY strong likelihood that we are actually on the verge of going into a new mini-Ice Age. (Let's hope it's mini, anyway!) There are RECORD cold, snow and ice events in many places around the world, yet the media in the USA reports little if anything about it. And we are actually late for the 11,500 year ice-age cycle, to boot. My favorite website on this issue, http://www.iceagenow.info, documents this kind of stuff extensively and daily.

    The figure of 99% of scientists agreeing on global warming has been thrown around for years. Yet there are several HUNDRED climatologists and astrophysicists who disagree, and either way we have been neutral or on the way down in temperatures., just like the latest reports from the British Meteorological group and ASA have had to publicly admit. And the United Nations, I believe, said there are only 2,500 scientists in the world who are fully focused on these issues. So even if it's only a couple of hundred are "skeptics", that's WAY more than 1 percent!

    And DOZENS of climate related scientists have reported that when they started to speak out against the human caused global warming theory, they were threatened with loss of funding or jobs. (That's if they worked for a government agency, university or company receiving funds from government.)

    Everyone loves to point their fingers at oil companies having profit motives, and yes, oil companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to study global climate change. Yet the governments of the world have spent nearly 80 BILLION dollars, and with the overt agenda of proving global warming, not for finding the truth from a neutral starting point. PLUS, the oil companies have vested interests in what real and true, because they are the ones who are investing many billions of dollars in infrastructures. If they are too far wrong in their conclusions, they will lose a lot of money.

    Even though I think the oil companies deserve a lot of blame for having bought out the political processes at the federal & state levels back in the 1920s and 1930s, and insulated themselves from TRUE market forces (which have NOT been in significant operation in decades in our country when it comes to big business) by securing government protection.

    But a LOT of scientists, researchers, and so forth are going to have to get a new line of work if the global warming thing is not pursued. So they have a vested interest in keeping the tax payer-funded gravy train going. More so than oil companies. The interesting thing is, most of the privately employed climate scientists I know of who actually make a living selling their data to businesses who MUST have accurate forecasting to stay in business, are mostly predicting far lower temperatures for at least a few years, maybe decades.

    Even Tom Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel, claims that the human caused global warming theory is a total scam. But he left The Weather Channel long ago, so they stick with the party line.

    Plus, Al Gore owns an consulting firm that will make HUGE amounts of money if the carbon trading treaty & tax goes through. That's why some of the so-called right wing business people have started talking about climate change, because they figured out how to make a lot of money off of it, some of them by becoming clients of Al Gore. …

    And his movie, Inconvenient Truth, was so full of half truths and un-truths it is NOT funny. This is why Al Gore will NOT publicly debate ANY one who does not believe in global arming, because he can NOT win. Courts in England found nine major untruths in the movie, and I have a document describing, in detail, about 35 significant inaccuracies in the movie.

    For me, since I've been reading about this stuff since 1981 or so, when the national news magazines like Time and Newsweek were warning us that we were all going to die of global … COOLING! … the other side of the story has always been significantly censored out of the mainstream media, depending on what is Politically Correct at the time. Like when it was discovered that the hockey stick chart in Al Gore's movie showing skyrocketing temperatures was shown — by amateur mathematicians to start! — to be a complete fraud. Or the Climate-gate e-mails that were leaked showing that the pro-global warming scientists were admitting to each other that they had to hide the actual data to keep the story line going their way.

    And as you know, Samitee, ALL of this is heavily documented, but is not reported in the mainstream media or from the mouths of most politicians, who stand to gain a LOT from their financial sources if the carbon tax treaties & taxes get passed.

    I could go on and on for hours, because there is SO MUCH evidence that the media and our politicians ignore or are in denial about, but I have to get back to work.

    Thanks Again for Posting
    David Scott Lynn

  6. samitee says:

    Thank you David for your thoughtful response. Naturally, I agree with everything you said with one exception which is the prediction of a new Ice Age. I don't think scientists can predict anything of the sort related to the climate, any better than they could in the 1970s. That decade saw massive propaganda regarding "A New Ice Age". Google a June 1974 article from Time Magazine entitled "A New Ice Age" as one of many examples. This fear based climate propaganda has been going on for over a century. I can point to dozens and dozens of newspaper articles from the early 20th century warning mankind of the rapid ice melt of the Arctic, death to the animals, melting of glaciers, rise of sea level, etc, etc… Today's fear based propaganda from the media and scientific community or anyone who claims that "the debate is over" is no different. People like Tom Coleman who you mentioned (and others) are shunned and ostracized if they don't tow the party line but thankfully we have credible scientists that are working hard to show the public the truth on such matters and not rely on government entities with clear agendas to push. Climategate 3.0 e-mails were released today, coincidentally. More nails in the coffin for this ridiculous theory. But yet the public at large is still very ignorant when it comes to climate change and I'm afraid the media is the main reason. I believe it's important to challenge journalists and writers who assume they understand the issue but are really just victims of propaganda.

    I'd like to add a point number 4) since it was brought up earlier and I missed it in my rebuttal.

    4) "Sea levels on the East Coast, from North Carolina to Boston, are rising much faster than the rest of the world, according to the US Geological Survey."

    Why do the tide gauges not confirm the USGS study? The short answer is the because the USGS study is B.S. Let's use North Carolina as an example (since you mentioned it).

    According to University of Colorado data, <a href="http://(http://sealevel.colorado.edu/)” target=”_blank”>(http://sealevel.colorado.edu/) sea level along the NC coast is rising at a rate of approximately 1.4 mm/year. This is less than one half of the measured global rate of 3.1 mm/year. At this rate, over the next 88 years, sea level would be expected to rise five inches in North Carolina (assuming the rate stays constant of course). But the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission released a report which says that NC will experience ONE METER of sea level rise over the next century. Now, let's be realistic here. You do not have to be a scientist to understand that this would require an acceleration of 800% over the current rate of sea level rise. Unless an asteroid hits Greenland, this is simply not going to happen. It's basically impossible. It should be straightforward that there are vested interests in reporting misleading information such as this. Keep in mind that this doesn't account for any change in land level movements either.

    Rather than relying on what government entities are stating and then publishing those statements as fact which readers believe, perhaps an attempt to analyze actual station data would be a more responsible form of journalism. Repeating information from government sources without checking the data or questioning methods of biased studies is not real journalism. I'm not trying to engage in any mudslinging but almost every point in this article supporting climate change can be easily demonstrated as false and certainly debated fiercely with science and real world evidence.

    What if we look at other intervals? If you look at station data from Wilmington, NC as an example, you will see rising and falling sea levels since 1962 but there is no long term trend in either direction, certainly not in the order described by alarmists. Sea levels have been falling since 1998 and only rising at .5mm since 1990 (Wilmington station). To claim otherwise is to either be ignorant of the facts or engaging in poor journalism. Take a look at the NOAA's own chart from Wilmington and you will see that sea level is not rapidly rising, but apparently facts don't matter when you're trying to save the world from carbon dioxide. http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrend

    Furthermore, the BEST Muller/Muller study has all sorts of problems with it and has been discredited, debunked and rebutted thoroughly. It is clearly a case of poor data used and incorrect assumptions made. This has been written about all over the web. A simple Google search will provide a lot of information regarding the problems with the BEST study. Even one of the authors of that study has since come out to explain the problems with the assumptions made and conclusions reached. It should not be relied on as any sort of authority on the matter. I'll gladly provide some info on this if anyone is interested…continued in next post…

  7. samitee – My first reaction is to want to disbelieve what you're saying because I really do believe that our planet is in peril. However, I will not just ignore your response to my article. I will review your comments and follow the links you have provided. I too am searching for the truth.

    I am not able to do that for a few days. So please be patient. I will return to this. Can I ask you what your background is – researcher, scientist, ????? In other words, what are your credentials. (If you don't mind sharing that information)

    Thanks for your comments.

  8. Auki says:

    Samitee is in denial. Her (his?) arguments are fear based and she is using her shrewd intellect to try and convince herself and other ej readers that climate change isn't real.

    Climate change and the dire threats of climate change are all to real… but I'm not going to waste my time and energy trying to convince the likes of Samitee and other climate change deniers. It would be like trying to convince an alcoholic that they are an alcoholic. Only hitting rock bottom will break the denial patterns of an alcoholic, or for that matter, a climate change denier.

    Those of us who aren't in denial about the reality of climate change need to get on with learning how best to adapt and cope with the increasing perilous situation that is unfolding on this planet.

  9. Auki – I appreciate your supporting comment and I agree with your analogy to the alcoholic. But I have checked the data sources provided in the links by samitee and will get back to him/her in due course.

    The evidence is all around us – you're right.

  10. samitee says:

    TODAY – Arctic ice area is at a ten year high for the date, and has blown away the previous record for ice growth by more than half a million km^2 (in the modern satellite era).

    You can see the raw data here – http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/timeserie

    Obviously, this means nothing when comparing to the average, we are still below the mean. But remember, that is with 1979 (the year of peak ice and the coldest year in the United States in the last 80 years) as the starting point. Convenient for showing warming trends and keeping averages where you want them, no? :)

    It also shows that last year's summer melt was extreme (thus winter ice growth is so high). But if you go back further than 1979, you will find plenty of years with similar summers and similar Arctic melt conditions as we see today.

  11. @LazarLA says:

    Rolly, Your article is excellent, thank you.

    I always appreciate a fact based, well-sourced and thoughtful analysis and I share your sentiments and concerns about our inaction on what is likely the greatest challenge humankind will face.

    I'm not so impressed, however, with the arguments submitted by some of your responders. They appear to be straight off of well-known climate denier blog WUWT (operated by a former TV weather personality) There are far too many arguments for me to respond to here, so I'll just stick to 5 main points, listing my sources at the bottom.

    I'll provide my response in a separate post.

  12. @LazarLA says:

    Response continued.

    1. IT'S REAL: Carbon Dioxide is a heat trapping gas, acting like a blanket over the earth. More carbon dioxide = a thicker blanket. Right now, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are the highest in at least 650,000 years, and perhaps even 5 million years. Temperatures are also high, and increasing. The rate of increase is higher than they have over the past 11,000 years, and as a result fo the increasing temperatures, glaciers and icecaps are melting and sea levels are rising.

    2. IT"S US: Humans burn oil, coal and gas for energy – and we burn a LOT of it. Burning fossil fuels takes carbon that was safely underground and puts it into the atmosphere. So far, we have added about a trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

  13. @LazarLA says:

    5. We CAN FIX IT (if we act now): We have to get off of fossil fuels and move to a clean energy system. The sooner we do it, the better for our climate system, our health, our economies and our national security.

    re the deniers above, I'll simply repost the words of Ethics Professor Donald Brown:

    "Words fail us about how to characterize the magnitude of the harm that is being done in the name of ideology. It is too absurd on its face to think that any reasonable observer can seriously conclude that climate change science is a hoax or that the consensus view that humans are causing climate change has been debunked.: in fact we are looking for the right metaphors to simply describe the sheer harmfulness of what has been happening.. We would appreciate ideas on this issue. Only poets can approach this task until we come up with the right metaphor.”

  14. hmmann says:

    The rate of increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide has dramatically increased during the last 150 years. During the last ice age, the fastest rate of CO2 change was on the order of 30 parts per million by volume per millennium (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5314592.stm; http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conten…t/291/5501…. The current rate is approximately 1.8 ppmv per year, or approximately 1,800 ppmv per millennium. So the current rate exceeds fastest natural rates of CO2 change by about 60 times.

    In addition, since Charles Keeling began recording CO2 concentrations in 1958, the rate of CO2 increase has increased from about 0.7 ppmv per year to the current rate of about 1.8 ppmv per year.

  15. hmmann says:

    On top of the isotopic evidence, we also know from historical records of human activities. From the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have been burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests at a rate that far exceeds anything before. Scientists know that the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests injects CO2 into the atmosphere. The amount of fossil fuel burning and the amount of land deforested is well accounted for. The rate of CO2 production from these processes injects CO2 into the air faster than natural sinks for CO2 can remove it.

  16. rabiddoomsayer says:

    It is warming, that we are getting record global temperatures in a non El Nino period should scare us all. It is us, based on the natural cycles we should be cooling we should be entering a mini ice age. It is going to be bad, 2 degrees is not safe but we will not be able to keep within a two degrees of preindustrial temperatures.

    You can cherry pick data, change measurements, but that does not change the reality. Take the number of fires you need to know how that statistic is prepared, go look it up, merged fires count as one fire. Then consider the area burned, worst ever? Looking at one thing can give misconceptions, look at the total picture.

    Consilience is where different lines of evidence point to the same conclusion. It is not only the tens of thousands of scientist working directly on climate, there are the many related fields where climate change is obvious. There is still real debate, on how bad it will be.

    Expect the picture to get worse. We have changed climate forcing well over an order of magnitude faster than anything in the paleo climatic record and yet we expect the resultant changes to be slower. There are very worrying signs that the rate of change will be faster than important parts of the biosphere will be able to cope with.

  17. Judy Anderson says:

    Thank you for the post. I think we can keep it quite simple. Data are coming regularly from around the world confirming this this is a significant warming. Check out NOAA too. The good news is that conserving energy will help the US and we know that coal is hugely polluting even if you don't care about the climate. It's health and the economy.

  18. grmcpherson says:

    We've triggered ten self-reinforcing feedback loops, nine of which are irreversible. They lead us straight to near-term human extinction. Study the evidence: http://guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-su

  19. Judy – you're right about the data. As years go by, the supporting data is overwhelmingly showing the environmental degradation of the planet. And even if all the data turned out to be wrong, does it not make sense to want to improve the air we breathe, the water we drink, the oceans from which we eat the fish. It's not just about the climate as you say. There is a huge economic potential in moving to the next generation of energy to replace our dependency on destructive fossil fuels.

    Thanks for the comment

  20. samitee says:

    The millions of man hours, field work and research at the massive effort you speak of is irrelevant. What is relevant is what the IPCC said in its reports, the computer models, their predictions and then what actually happened. If one takes the time to study the information in length, one will find that nearly all of the IPCC’s predictions as well as Hansen’s scenarios A, B, and C have fallen flat on their face and proven to be massive failures. Even their own leader admits there has been no warming for 16-17 years, a fact you continue to conveniently ignore.

  21. steven mann says:

    Oh, and the cosmic ray hypothesis doesn't explain those phenomena either.

  22. "Their own leader?" Whom might that be?

    Read my lips: Global warming is real. It's man-made. And it's the worst threat civilization has ever faced outside of nuclear war.

  23. Nick Palmer says:

    “Even their own leader admits there has been no warming for 16-17 years”

    There has been no surface warming since the giant El Nino pulse of 1998 put a lot of ocean heat into the atmosphere, thus creating a surface temperature high point for deniers/sceptics to cherry pick so they can claim there has been no warming for 16 years or so.

    What there has been is a continued, and roughly as expected quantitavely, trend upwards in global warming which aggregates ocean, land and atmosphere temperatures.

    Only the dishonest would point at 1998 and edit out any other considerations of heat gain elsewhere, apart from the surface records, to construct their misleading propaganda that “global warming has stalled for 16 years”. Unfortunately, there are too many dishonest and/or ignorant types around.

    Samitee. Check out what Pachauri actually said in context, rather than what was reported.

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