By Richard Smith, Truthout | Opinion
When, on May 10, 2013, scientists at Mauna Loa Observatory on the big island of Hawaii announced that global CO2 emissions had crossed a threshold at 400 parts per million for the first time in millions of years, a sense of dread spread around the world - not only among climate scientists.
Michael T. Klare writes at Tomdispatch.com:
A week after the most powerful “super typhoon” ever recorded pummeled the Philippines, killing thousands in a single province, and three weeks after the northern Chinese city of Harbin suffered a devastating “airpocalypse,” suffocating the city with coal-plant pollution, government leaders beware! Although individual events like these cannot be attributed with absolute certainty to increased fossil fuel use and climate change, they are the type of disasters that, scientists tell us, will become a pervasive part of life on a planet being transformed by the massive consumption of carbon-based fuels. If, as is now the case, governments across the planet back an extension of the carbon age and ever increasing reliance on “unconventional” fossil fuels like tar sands and shale gas, we should all expect trouble. In fact, we should expect mass upheavals leading to a green energy revolution.
None of us can predict the future, but when it comes to a mass rebellion against the perpetrators of global destruction, we can see a glimmer of the coming upheaval in events of the present moment. Take a look and you will see that the assorted environmental protests that have long bedeviled politicians are gaining in strength and support. With an awareness of climate change growing and as intensifying floods, fires, droughts, and storms become an inescapable feature of daily life across the planet, more people are joining environmental groups and engaging in increasingly bold protest actions. Sooner or later, government leaders are likely to face multiple eruptions of mass public anger and may, in the end, be forced to make radical adjustments in energy policy or risk being swept aside.
In fact, it is possible to imagine such a green energy revolution erupting in one part of the world and spreading like wildfire to others. Because climate change is going to inflict increasingly severe harm on human populations, the impulse to rebel is only likely to gain in strength across the planet. While circumstances may vary, the ultimate goal of these uprisings will be to terminate the reign of fossil fuels while emphasizing investment in and reliance upon renewable forms of energy. And a success in any one location is bound to invite imitation in others.
A wave of serial eruptions of this sort would not be without precedent. In the early years of twentieth-first century, for example, one government after another in disparate parts of the former Soviet Union was swept away in what were called the “color revolutions” — populist upheavals against old-style authoritarian regimes. These included the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia (2003), the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine (2004), and the “Pink” or “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan (2005). In 2011, a similar wave of protests erupted in North Africa, culminating in what we call the Arab Spring.
Like these earlier upheavals, a “green revolution” is unlikely to arise from a highly structured political campaign with clearly identified leaders. In all likelihood, it will erupt spontaneously, after a cascade of climate-change induced disasters provokes an outpouring of public fury. Once ignited, however, it will undoubtedly ratchet up the pressure for governments to seek broad-ranging, systemic transformations of their energy and climate policies. In this sense, any such upheaval — whatever form it takes — will prove “revolutionary” by seeking policy shifts of such magnitude as to challenge the survival of incumbent governments or force them to enact measures with transformative implications.
Foreshadowings of such a process can already be found around the globe. Take the mass environmental protests that erupted in Turkey this June. Though sparked by a far smaller concern than planetary devastation via climate change, for a time they actually posed a significant threat to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his governing party. Although his forces eventually succeeded in crushing the protests — leaving four dead, 8,000 injured, and 11 blinded by tear-gas canisters — his reputation as a moderate Islamist was badly damaged by the episode.
Like so many surprising upheavals on this planet, the Turkish uprising had the most modest of beginnings: on May 27th, a handful of environmental activists blocked bulldozers sent by the government to level Gezi Park, a tiny oasis of greenery in the heart of Istanbul, and prepare the way for the construction of an upscale mall. The government responded to this small-scale, non-violent action by sending in riot police and clearing the area, a move that enraged many Turks and prompted tens of thousands of them to occupy nearby Taksim Square. This move, in turn, led to an even more brutal police crackdown and then to huge demonstrations in Istanbul and around the country. In the end, mass protests erupted in 70 cities, the largest display of anti-government sentiment since Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002.
This was, in the most literal sense possible, a “green” revolution, ignited by the government’s assault on the last piece of greenery in central Istanbul. But once the police intervened in full strength, it became a wide-ranging rebuke to Erdogan’s authoritarian impulses and his drive to remake the city as a neo-Ottoman showplace — replete with fancy malls and high-priced condominiums — while eliminating poor neighborhoods and freewheeling public spaces like Taksim Square. “It’s all about superiority, and ruling over the people like sultans,” declared one protestor. It’s not just about the trees in Gezi Park, said another: “We are here to stand up against those who are trying to make a profit from our land.”
The Ningbo Rebellion
The same trajectory of events — a small-scale environmental protest evolving into a full-scale challenge to governmental authority — can be seen in other mass protests of recent years.
Take a Chinese example: in October 2012, students and middle class people joined with poor farmers to protest the construction of an $8.8 billion petrochemical facility in Ningbo, a city of 3.4 million people south of Shanghai. In a country where environmental pollution has reached nearly unprecedented levels, these protests were touched off by fears that the plant, to be built by the state-owned energy company Sinopec with local government support, would produce paraxylene, a toxic substance used in plastics, paints, and cleaning solvents.
Here, too, the initial spark that led to the protests was small-scale. On October 22nd, some 200 farmers obstructed a road near the district government’s office in an attempt to block the plant’s construction. After the police were called in to clear the blockade, students from nearby Ningbo University joined the protests. Using social media, the protestors quickly enlisted support from middle-class residents of the city who converged in their thousands on downtown Ningbo. When riot police moved in to break up the crowds, the protestors fought back, attacking police cars and throwing bricks and water bottles. While the police eventually gained the upper hand after several days of pitched battles, the Chinese government concluded that mass action of this sort, occurring in the heart of a major city and featuring an alliance of students, farmers, and young professionals, was too great a threat. After five days of fighting, the government gave in, announcing the cancellation of the petrochemical project.
The Ningbo demonstrations were hardly the first such upheavals to erupt in China. They did, however, highlight a growing governmental vulnerability to mass environmental protest. For decades, the reigning Chinese Communist Party has justified its monopolistic hold on power by citing its success in generating rapid economic growth. But that growth means the use of ever more fossil fuels and petrochemicals, which, in turn, means increased carbon emissions and disastrous atmospheric pollution, including one “airpocalypse” after another.
Until recently, most Chinese seemed to accept such conditions as the inevitable consequences of growth, but it seems that tolerance of environmental degradation is rapidly diminishing. As a result, the party finds itself in a terrible bind: it can slow development as a step toward cleaning up the environment, incurring a risk of growing economic discontent, or it can continue its growth-at-all-costs policy, and find itself embroiled in a firestorm of Ningbo-style environmental protests.
This dilemma — the environment versus the economy — has proven to be at the heart of similar mass eruptions elsewhere on the planet.
Two of the largest protests of this sort were sparked by the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants on March 11, 2011, after a massive tsunami struck northern Japan. In both of these actions — the first in Germany, the second in Japan — the future of nuclear power and the survival of governments were placed in doubt.
The biggest protests occurred in Germany. On March 26th, 15 days after the Fukushima explosions, an estimated 250,000 people participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations across the country — 100,000 in Berlin, and up to 40,000 each in Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne. “Today’s demonstrations are just the prelude to a new, strong, anti-nuclear movement,” declared Jochen Stay, a protest leader. “We’re not going to let up until the plants are finally mothballed.”
At issue was the fate of Germany’s remaining nuclear power plants. Although touted as an attractive alternative to fossil fuels, nuclear power is seen by most Germans as a dangerous and unwelcome energy option. Several months prior to Fukushima, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted that Germany would keep its 17 operating reactors until 2040, allowing a smooth transition from the country’s historic reliance on coal to renewable energy for generating electricity. Immediately after Fukushima, she ordered a temporary shutdown of Germany’s seven oldest reactors for safety inspections but refused to close the others, provoking an outpouring of protest.
Witnessing the scale of the demonstrations, and after suffering an electoral defeat in the key state of Baden-Württemberg, Merkel evidently came to the conclusion that clinging to her position would be the equivalent of political suicide. On May 30th, she announced that the seven reactors undergoing inspections would be closed permanently and the remaining 10 would be phased out by 2022, almost 20 years earlier than in her original plan.
By all accounts, the decision to phase out nuclear power almost two decades early will have significant repercussions for the German economy. Shutting down the reactors and replacing them with wind and solar energy will cost an estimated $735 billion and take several decades, producing soaring electricity bills and periodic energy shortages. However, such is the strength of anti-nuclear sentiment in Germany that Merkel felt she had no choice but to close the reactors anyway.
The anti-nuclear protests in Japan occurred considerably later, but were no less momentous. On July 16, 2012, 16 months after the Fukushima disaster, an estimated 170,000 people assembled in Tokyo to protest a government plan to restart the country’s nuclear reactors, idled after the disaster. This was not only Japan’s largest antinuclear demonstration in many years, but the largest of any sort to occur in recent memory.
For the government, the July 16th action was particularly significant. Prior to Fukushima, most Japanese had embraced the country’s growing reliance on nuclear power, putting their trust in the government to ensure its safety. After Fukushima and the disastrous attempts of the reactors’ owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), to deal with the situation, public support for nuclear power plummeted. As it became increasingly evident that the government had mishandled the crisis, people lost faith in its ability to exercise effective control over the nuclear industry. Repeated promises that nuclear reactors could be made safe lost all credibility when it became known that government officials had long collaborated with TEPCO executives in covering up safety concerns at Fukushima and, once the meltdowns occurred, in concealing information about the true scale of the disaster and its medical implications.
The July 16th protest and others like it should be seen as a public vote against the government’s energy policy and oversight capabilities. “Japanese have not spoken out against the national government,” said one protestor, a 29-year-old homemaker who brought her one-year-old son. “Now, we have to speak out, or the government will endanger us all.”
Skepticism about the government, rare for twenty-first-century Japan, has proved a major obstacle to its desire to restart the country’s 50 idled reactors. While most Japanese oppose nuclear power, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remains determined to get the rectors running again in order to reduce Japan’s heavy reliance on imported energy and promote economic growth. “I think it is impossible to promise zero [nuclear power plants] at this stage,” he declared this October. “From the government’s standpoint, [nuclear plants] are extremely important for a stable energy supply and economic activities.”
Despite such sentiments, Abe is finding it extremely difficult to garner support for his plans, and it is doubtful that significant numbers of those reactors will be coming online anytime soon.
The Explosions Ahead
What these episodes tell us is that people around the world are becoming ever more concerned about energy policy as it affects their lives and are prepared — often on short notice — to engage in mass protests. At the same time, governments globally, with rare exceptions, are deeply wedded to existing energy policies. These almost invariably turn them into targets, no matter what the original spark for mass opposition. As the results of climate change become ever more disruptive, government officials will find themselves repeatedly choosing between long-held energy plans and the possibility of losing their grip on power.
Because few governments are as yet prepared to launch the sorts of efforts that might even begin to effectively address the peril of climate change, they will increasingly be seen as obstacles to essential action and so as entities that need to be removed. In short, climate rebellion — spontaneous protests that may at any moment evolve into unquenchable mass movements — is on the horizon. Faced with such rebellions, recalcitrant governments will respond with some combination of accommodation to popular demands and harsh repression.
Many governments will be at risk from such developments, but the Chinese leadership appears to be especially vulnerable. The ruling party has staked its future viability on an endless carbon-fueled growth agenda that is steadily destroying the country’s environment. It has already faced half-a-dozen environmental upheavals like the one in Ningbo, and has responded to them by agreeing to protestors’ demands or by employing brute force. The question is: How long can this go on?
Environmental conditions are bound to worsen, especially as China continues to rely on coal for home heating and electrical power, and yet there is no indication that the ruling Communist Party is prepared to take the radical steps required to significantly reduce domestic coal consumption. This translates into the possibility of mass protests erupting at any time and on a potentially unprecedented scale. And these, in turn, could bring the Party’s very survival into question — a scenario guaranteed to produce immense anxiety among the country’s top leaders.
And what about the United States? At this point, it would be ludicrous to say that, as a result of popular disturbances, the nation’s political leadership is at any risk of being swept away or even forced to take serious steps to scale back reliance on fossil fuels. There are, however, certainly signs of a growing nationwide campaign against aspects of fossil fuel reliance, including vigorous protests against hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
For environmental activist and writer Bill McKibben, all this adds up to an incipient mass movement against the continued consumption of fossil fuels. “In the last few years,” he has written, this movement “has blocked the construction of dozens of coal-fired power plants, fought the oil industry to a draw on the Keystone pipeline, convinced a wide swath of American institutions to divest themselves of their fossil fuel stocks, and challenged practices like mountaintop-removal coal mining and fracking for natural gas.” It may not have achieved the success of the drive for gay marriage, he observed, but it “continues to grow quickly, and it’s starting to claim some victories.”
If it’s still too early to gauge the future of this anti-carbon movement, it does seem, at least, to be gaining momentum. In the 2013 elections, for example, three cities in energy-rich Colorado — Boulder, Fort Collins, and Lafayette — voted to ban or place moratoriums on fracking within their boundaries, while protests against Keystone XL and similar projects are on the rise.
Nobody can say that a green energy revolution is a sure thing, but who can deny that energy-oriented environmental protests in the U.S. and elsewhere have the potential to expand into something far greater? Like China, the United States will experience genuine damage from climate change and its unwavering commitment to fossil fuels in the years ahead. Americans are not, for the most part, passive people. Expect them, like the Chinese, to respond to these perils with increased ire and a determination to alter government policy.
So don’t be surprised if that green energy revolution erupts in your neighborhood as part of humanity’s response to the greatest danger we’ve ever faced. If governments won’t take the lead on an imperiled planet, someone will.
Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and conflict studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left. A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars — The Untold Story.
Copyright 2013 Michael T. Klare
Mirrored from Tomdispatch.com
By Babs McHugh
The ocean temperature off the west coast of Australia has risen by five degrees and it's killing off large numbers of valuable seafood stocks.
The marine heatwave that started a year ago is an extreme event that took scientists by surprise, and is causing pain for commercial fishers during the peak summer period.
Dr Rick Fletcher of the Fisheries Department of Western Australia says the increase in temperature came about by a confluence of factors.
"About two years ago we had an event where the Leeuwin current, which flows down the west coast of Western Australia, which brings hot water from the tropics, was flowing quite strongly.
"That was coinciding with some very hot air temperatures and very calm conditions, so that allowed the water temperature to increase substantially, up to five degrees hotter in some areas."
Although warming of ocean waters does occur, Dr Fletcher says the increase is the most extreme ever recorded off the WA coast.
The oceans have been warming up on both the western and eastern seaboard, but that's been more long term.
"On the east coast there's been a general increase in the water temperatures over the last 20 to 30 years, the same as the west coast, but not an extreme event like the rapid increase of five per cent like we're seeing off the coast of WA."
The impact has been devastating on several marine species.
"Abalone in the north part of the west coast, up near Kalbarri, we had over a 90 per cent mortality which happened immediately.
"But what we've seen is some other species have been affected over a longer period of time, we've had a much lower level of scallop recruitment in Shark Bay and the Abrolhos Islands (key commercial fishing areas)
"We've also had much low recruitment of crabs in shark bay, and that's to both adults and juveniles.
"Some of the effects have taken a little longer to occur."
"The number of crayfish - correctly known as the Western Rock lobster - weren't as affected as others species by the marine heatwave, but the general warming we've had over the last five to 10 years has definitely resulted in lower numbers."
Not only is the world not moving to green energy fast enough to avoid very severe future effects of climate change, its nations are still massively subsidizing the poisonous hydrocarbons that are dooming our great-grandchildren– to the tune of $58 billion a year. The US subsidies to Big Oil and Big Coal are $13 billion a year. At least, lets stop encouraging bad behavior.
AP (link above) points out that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels would lower emission by some 10 percent by 2050! Plus, abolishing the subsidies would raise government revenue, helping reduce deficits. Here is a painless way to deal with 1/10th of the problem!
It is among the silliest things in public policy, but wealthy countries are actually giving some foreign aid to poor countries to help them deal with the effects of climate change largely caused by the rich countries. But they’re only offering around $11 bn a year for this purpose while they go on giving Big Oil, Big Gas and Big Coal $58 bn in subsidies! If the rich countries would reduce their emissions, the developing countries wouldn’t need as much aid to deal with the problems caused by climate change!
Although history has often revealed itself to be cyclical, this is one cirsumstance humanity should hope to never repeat. A new paper presented last week at the Geological Society of America uncovered why plants and animals did not quickly recover from the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history.
The era passed 250 million years ago, but the culprit was a familiar offender: global warming.
The environmental impact of rising temperatures stagnated species recovery for 5 million years.
The Early Triassic period was marked by a surge in global volcanic activity. The era, now called the “Great Dying” offers cautionary clues as to how climate change might impact life today, said Ohio State University PhD candidate Alexa Sedlacek, lead author of the paper.
Matthew Saltzman, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State and Sedlacek’s academic advisor offered his perspective: ”The lesson is, life doesn’t just snap back. We’ve long known from the fossil record that there was a long period with very little recovery right after the Great Dying. It’s as if life had a 5-million-year hangover. Now we know why.”
Sedimentary rock that formed on a tropical ocean floor 250 million years ago, were among the samples Sedlacek and Saltzman analyzed. After the volcanic eruptions of the Great Dying, chemicals they found in the rock confirm that massive amounts of the Earth’s surface were being weathered away by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The planet’s climate was chemically altered for millions of years after and the ocean remained highly acidic.
“People are understandably interested in the Great Dying because 90 percent of marine species went extinct,” Sedlacek said. “But the recovery from that event is equally important, because the survivors determined what kind of life we have on Earth today.”
Chemical elements in samples of limestone were gathered from northern Iran, which was a tropical ocean during the Early Triassic period, 252 to 248 million years ago.
”If you want to know what’s going to happen in the future, looking at the past provides an important perspective,” said Saltzman. “Global warming has happened before, and in some cases the consequences were severe.”
Sedlacek, A. Saltzman, M. Algeo, TJ. Horace, M. Richoz, S. Brandner, R. & Foland, K. (2012). Coupled C and SR Isotope Stratigraphy of the Early Triassic of Zal, Iran: A Record of Increased Weathering GSA 2012 Annual Meeting & Exposition
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record 390.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, according to a report released Tuesday by the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO). That's a 40 percent increase over levels in 1750, before humans began burning fossil fuels in earnest.
Although CO2 is still the most significant long-lived greenhouse gas, levels of other heat-trapping gases have also climbed to record levels, according to the report. Methane, for example hit 1813 parts per billion (ppb) in 2011, and nitrous oxide rose to 324.2 ppb. All told, the amount of excess heat prevented from escaping into outer space was 30 percent higher in 2011 than it was as recently as 1990.
The Science is clear; We should waste no more time on that debate. I have seen with my own eyes, from the Arctic to Antarctica, from the Andes to Asia, the melting glaciers, the encroaching deserts, the gathering impacts on urban and rural areas alike. But instead of seeing this as a prohibitively costly burden, let us look at the opportunities - the immense opportunities of building a job-rich green economy
UN Secretary General
to students at Yale
A World Bank-commissioned report says the world is headed for a 4.0 degree Celsius rise in world temperatures by the end of the century – compared to pre-industrial levels – unless it took on a renewed commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Lack of ambitious action on climate change threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development," said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at its unveiling. The report says that even if all current climate change reduction promises are fulfilled there is a 20 percent chance that the four degree rise would still occur.
November 18, 2012 – Like summer’s satellite image of the melting Greenland ice sheet, a new report suggests time may be running out to temper the rising risks of climate change.
"Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided," (pdf) (eBook version) warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.
Moreover, adverse effects of a warming climate are “tilted against many of the world's poorest regions” and likely to undermine development efforts and global development goals, says the study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, on behalf of the World Bank. The report, urges "further mitigation action as the best insurance against an uncertain future."
"A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. "Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest."
The report, reviewed by some of the world’s top scientists, is being released ahead of the next comprehensive studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013/14, and follows the Bank’s own Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change in 2008 and the World Development Report on climate change in 2010. "Turn Down the Heat" combines a synthesis of recent scientific literature with new analysis of likely impacts and risks, focusing on developing countries. It chronicles already observed climate change and impacts, such as heat waves and other extreme events, and offers projections for the 21st century for droughts, heat waves, sea level rise, food, water, ecosystems and human health.
The report says today’s climate could warm from the current global mean temperature of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels, to as high as 4°C by 2100, even if countries fulfill current emissions-reduction pledges.
"This report reinforces the reality that today’s climate volatility affects everything we do," said Rachel Kyte, the Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development. "We will redouble our efforts to build adaptive capacity and resilience, as well as find solutions to the climate challenge."
The World Bank doubled lending for climate change adaptation last year and plans to step up efforts to support countries’ initiatives to mitigate carbon emissions and promote inclusive green growth and climate-smart development. Among other measures, the Bank administers the $7.2 billion Climate Investment Funds now operating in 48 countries and leveraging an additional $43 billion in clean investment and climate resilience.
While scientific research continues to indicate the frequency of megastorms and hurricanes like Sandy are on the rise as a result of climate change and global warming, politicians from both sides of the aisle have been loathe to discuss the issue in recent years. On the presidential campaign trail, it's been virtually ignored by both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Global warming skeptics on the Republican side have pushed many candidates to disagree with the notion that climate change is occurring or that humans have contributed to it. Democrats, who tried and failed to pass so-called cap-and-trade legislation aimed at reducing the carbon emissions thought to cause global warming, have seen no electoral benefit in bringing up the issue, particularly in the face of the floundering economy.
By Joel Huberman
When I’m out walking, I frequently notice that birds in front of me respond unintelligently to my advance. Instead of flying to the side or flying behind me, they fly a bit further ahead, with the inevitable result that within a few seconds I’m once more alarmingly close to them. Instead of learning from their first mistake, they again fly on ahead, repeating the same behavior over and over again.
We human beings sometimes behave as stupidly as birds. We sense an approaching danger, but we don’t respond effectively. We try to take the familiar way out, even if it doesn’t prove effective. And we do it over and over again.
Fortunately, unlike birds, we have a powerful tool, science, that can show us effective escape routes.
Science is now pointing to an alarmingly close danger – global climate disruption – that has the potential to make the Earth as hot as in the age of dinosaurs, when warm-blooded mammals larger than rats did not survive.
Science is clear and unambiguous regarding the cause of this problem: human emissions of greenhouse gases as a consequence of burning fossil fuels. These gases make our Earth heat up, just like a greenhouse. And just as greenhouse heat can become unpleasant, a hotter planet can – indeed, will, if we don’t do something about – produce an environment unfit for human beings and for most other life.
How can we avoid this approaching catastrophe? Stop burning fossil fuels.
“But,” I hear you saying, “we can’t do that. Our economy and way of life depend on fossil fuels.” Fortunately, science and human inventiveness have already provided a solution – energy from renewable resources – solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass and biogas.
In deciding whether to permit hydrofracking (a process for recovering natural gas from difficult locations) in New York State, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said, “Let’s make the decision on the facts. Let the science dictate the conclusion.” The facts and the science are clear: to avoid catastrophic climate disruption, we must stop burning fossil fuels. Whether hydrofracking can be conducted safely and responsibly is not relevant; natural gas is a fossil fuel, and it should be left in the ground.
Fortunately, leaving fossil fuels in the ground need not create an energy shortage. Feed-in-tariffs (fair prices for renewable energy fed into the grid) have been demonstrated worldwide to stimulate rapid development of renewable energy and large new business investments and robust job growth. Thus, feed-in-tariffs could cure our economic as well as our climate problems.
The science is clear. Let’s hope Cuomo and other decision-makers will follow the guidelines of science to avoid climate disruption, instead of repeating the mistakes of the past over and over again in bird-brained fashion.
Joel Huberman is a retired scientist and a member of the Energy Committee of the Niagara Group of the Sierra Club.
James Lovelock says Global Warming is now at point of no return. Other top climate scientists are more hopeful but say we only have less than 10 years before it's irreversible and time is running out.
Bush Administrations been accused of asking top climate scientists at NASA to STOP speaking out about the climate crisis and of altering scientific journals reporting on the phenomenon.
We all need to speak up NOW or the Human Race will join the MILLIONS of other Species that will be extinct by 2050 from Global Warming.
The world is on the brink of irreversible climate change, according to a report released on Wednesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Called the World Energy Outlook 2011, the analysis is the most thorough ever produced on the effects of releasing fossil fuels into the atmosphere. According to the research, in five years global warming will hit a point of no return after which it will be impossible to reverse the process.
The report warns that the global economy is building a raft of energy-inefficient factories and power stations that will pump carbon into the air for decades to come. And without a rapid change to this infrastructure within the next five years, the climate will continue to heat up, regardless of what measures are taken to combat it.
"We are going in the wrong direction in terms of climate change," Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, told the Associated Press ahead of the report's official release.
Scientist believe that the globe must stay below 2C of warming, with emissions not exceeding 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.
"After 2017, we will lose the chance to limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius," said Birol.
The planet is already dangerously close to the carbon emissions limit (80%), which will be past within five years if current trends continue.
The report said that current reduction plans would lead to an increase of more than 3.5 degrees Celsius, which would prove "catastrophic".
Recent figures released by the US Department Of Energy suggest that the level of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere has reached record levels.