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. steven mann says:

    Interesting how you cite a data source that employs someone you accuse of being not credible, Jeff Masters, when it suits you.

  2. steven mann says:

    Perhaps you should consider the possibility that you are the one not trying hard enough.

  3. samitee says:

    I cited whether underground because YOU consider Masters credible.

  4. steven mann says:

    But you don't trust the scientists who actually do the field work and data compilation?

  5. samitee says:

    Whether or not I trust them is

    a) a complex question that's impossible to answer in such a short space on this website. It's not a simple yes or no.
    b) irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

    I just showed you that the section of Antarctica which NASA and Hansen claimed is the fastest warming place on the planet has seen 1 degree cooling since 2004 from a source that YOU consider credible. Antarctica is breaking all sorts of ice records this year. It has the most ice it has ever seen in the satellite era. And yet you cling to some idea that it's melting rapidly, for some unknown reason.

  6. samitee says:

    Once again. The raw data which you continue to conveniently ignore shows that Global Sea Ice Area as of April 10th is the 8TH LARGEST ON RECORD. Save the file and plot the graph for yourself.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/timeserie

  7. "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.

  8. 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.

  9. hmmann says:

    PIOMAS has been thoroughly validated through comparisons with observations from US-Navy submarines, oceanographic moorings, and satellites.

  10. Steven Mann says:

    I provided data back to 1953 ( http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/sotc/images/mean_anom… ) which showed that 1974, the year you claimed was the same as 2012 in sea ice extent (samitee's quote from 4 weeks ago: "The fact is if you go back to 1974, you'll find just about the same amount of summer ice as existed in the summer of 2012. I challenge you to dispute this fact."), in fact had far greater sea ice extent than 2012. You are dead wrong but cannot admit it!

  11. Steven Mann says:

    The historical records you posted showed the sea ice minimum in the Arctic to be far greater than what we are seeing now.

  12. Steven Mann says:

    It is pretty easy to see that ice less than one year old, the newest and thinnest and easiest to melt and break up and transport out of the Arctic, has been pretty steadily gaining as a percent of the total ice in the Arctic Ocean. Yes, there is an uptick in ice older than 4 years, much as there have been brief upticks before, only to continue the long decline, which looks to me to be a pretty definable trend. During a 20-year span, mean thickness of ice over the Arctic Ocean thinned from 2.6 meters in March 1987 to 2.0 meters in 2007 (Stroeve 2008). And according to Polyak et al., 2010 http://bprc.osu.edu/geo/publications/polyak_etal_… the recent losses in Arctic sea ice have no parallel going back many thousands of years. This follows closely to other articles I have referenced for you, articles that base their conclusions on observable data. There are several hundred indicators described and data cited in the Polyak et al. article.

  13. Steven Mann says:

    I accept your apology, and I apologize for making statements earlier that could be construed as ad hominem. I will say you have brought up many legitimate questions that I have striven to explain or answer. You say I resort to unreliable information such as PIOMAS. I maintain that PIOMAS has been substantiated with naval submarine observations and oceanographic moorings. You say that I have provided mostly scientific articles and not actual data. But those articles are based on analysis of data collected in the field.

  14. Steven Mann says:

    Samitee, here is what I suggest for natural variation of polar climate. To some degree there is a see saw effect (http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/igsoc/agl/2002/00000035/00000001/art00073 and http://www.sciencemag.org/content/282/5386/61.sho… ) in that when the Arctic goes through a warming period, the Antarctic experiences a cooling period, and vice versa. This could be due to changes in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) http://www.lanl.gov/source/orgs/ees/ees14/pdfs/09… and http://www.climate.unibe.ch/~stocker/papers/clark… a phenomenon I have already mentioned and have provided references. Currently, the AMO could be in a relatively strong period where more heat is transferred from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere by thermohaline circulation (THC) than when it is in a weak period, although there is much noise in the data and the signal might be subtle. In addition, data is largely proxy data before continuous measurements provided by an array of floats.
    In a weak period, the Antarctic is relatively warm and the Arctic is relatively cool, because less heat is transported north by the THC. There is evidence that when the Arctic was going through a relatively cooler period during the 1940s through the 1970s, the Antarctic was going through a relatively warmer period where southern hemisphere sea ice extent was relatively low https://data.aad.gov.au/analysis/crc/eceawiki/fil… . What I believe is happening is that since the onset of AGW, in each cycle the climate is warmer than the cycle before, the warm phases are warmer and the cool phases are less cool with each succeeding cycle. The sea ice extent in the current warm phase of the cycle in the Arctic is lower than any past sea ice extent, and with warming waters flowing into the Arctic, sea ice could well vanish completely during the late summer season. I must admit however, that it is also possible that we might transition into the cooler phase of the Arctic cycle in the coming years. Having said that, I believe that warming is intense enough now that even the cool phase of the Arctic cycle will have lower sea ice extent than preceding warm phase.
    This situation has interrupted the long-term decline in global temperatures that are being induced by the Milankovitich eccentricity and obliquity cycles. http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/glob… These momentum of these cycles have acted to push the globe into the next glacial phase due to the earth’s orbital changes around the sun, but the strength of the anthropogenically induced increase in greenhouse gases has interrupted the natural process.
    So, as anyone somewhat knowledgeable of climate science, I acknowledge natural variation in the highs and lows of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent. However, you cannot explain away the fact that planktic ratios and Mg/Ca ratios indicate an unprecedented warming of Atlantic waters flowing into the Arctic http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6016/450 , and that the earth was gradually cooling before this interruption. That is observational data, not just some scientist waving his/her arms, and you cannot just wish away this data. There is too much evidence supporting the idea that the planet has been cooling for the past few thousand years, since the Holocene Climate Optimum, but that cooling has been interrupted by the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which are now warming the atmosphere. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6124/1198.a

  15. Steven Mann says:

    samitee, I thought this blog post might be of interest to you:
    http://climatecrocks.com/2013/04/11/pesky-reality

  16. Steven Mann says:

    And this article by Kinnard et al,. 2011 – http://labs.ceazamet.cl/ceaza/docs/1343273271.pdf

    Quote:

    "Arctic sea ice extent is now more than two million square kilometres
    less than it was in the late twentieth century…"

    And this reconstructed sea ice extent for the last 1,450 years:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/1-kinnard201

  17. Steven Mann says:

    Here is an overlay of the August 28, 2012 sea ice extent on the August 1938 sea ice extent:
    http://img803.imageshack.us/img803/7694/asiaug201

    Notice any differences?