Activism Discussion: It's Climate Change, As Forecast

It's Climate Change, As Forecast
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I*@economicdemocracy.org
2005-11-01 19:57:36 EST
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 12:03:29 -0800

It's climate change, as forecast

By Geoff Strong
October 31, 2005
Page 1 of 2

A year of climatic disasters is now persuading politicians to accept
the warnings of 20 years ago, writes Geoff Strong.

IF WAR is said to be a means of teaching Americans geography, what then
is needed to teach them and fossil-fuel profligate sidekicks like
ourselves about global warming? After the US has faced death and
massive economic loss from two large hurricanes, and after Wilma gave
the area another kicking last week, it seems the message is starting to
register.

In one of the greatest of shocks, in Australia federal Environment
Minister Ian Campbell has conceded the debate is over: humans have to
accept their actions are warming the planet and the consequences will
probably be disastrous.

But why have we taken so long to take the problem seriously and do
something about it? Scientists who know about the greenhouse effect
have been, by any reasonable standard, certain for two decades.

One of the problems appears to be that the scientific definition of
certainty sounds like equivocation to the ordinary public, particularly
to their elected and often scientifically ignorant representatives.

It is nearly 20 years since I wrote my first report about greenhouse
gas global warming for the now defunct National Times. I remember
asking scientists how certain they were of their predictions and I got
an answer often repeated over the subsequent years: "Well, we are not
100 per cent certain, but we think the consequences will be ..."

In science-speak, that means they could have been 95 to 99 per cent
certain but were leaving the 1 per cent margin for error in case
somebody ripped them apart in a scientific paper.

The world's greatest gamblers, the insurance industry, didn't need that
level

of certainty. It had been banking on scenarios being right since at
least 1995.

In March that year, the world's biggest re-insurer, Munich Re of
Germany, stunned the industry by saying manmade warming was increasing
natural disasters. The head of the company's geoscientific research
group, Dr Gerhard Berz, said: "Today there can be no doubt the growing
number and intensity of windstorms, thunderstorms and floods all over
the world are attributable to the rapid increase of air and sea
temperatures."

Despite many years of research using supercomputers to model climate,
the list

of consequences climate change scientists rattled off in 1986 have
turned out to be pretty well on target: temperature changes, extreme
events and predictions on hydrology, snow cover and ecology are holding
up and some changes are now being observed.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/its-climate-change-as-forecast/2005/10/30/1130607148560.html#

It's climate change, as forecast

By Geoff Strong
October 31, 2005
Page 2 of 2

The boffins
[chiefly British slang for scientist engaged in research
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/boffin ]
at our own CSIRO division of atmospheric research at Aspendale even got
the timing right of when the impact would first be showing against
background noise. They said it would appear after 2000 and it has.

I have gone back to some of the scientists interviewed then, such as
the former head of the division, Dr Graeme Pearman, and scientific
adviser Dr Willem Bouma. Pearman said the present level of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere had not been higher in 20 million years.
"What we didn't know 20 years ago was how long CO2 lasts when it is in
the atmosphere. We now know the residence time is 80 years."

What's more, we have a world of more than 6 billion people, population
pressure the planet has never before had to endure.

Bouma says that, in hindsight, perhaps scientists should have worded
their predictions differently and conveyed more certainty to the public
because two decades have been lost. By appearing uncertain, they might
have protected their backsides, but allowed a whole army of vested
interest groups such as the fossil-fuel lobby and right-wing think
tanks to attempt to lever apart the argument and create 20 years of
delay.

The think tank apparatchiks who hate government involvement in anything
except deregulation [and, we might add, government subsidy, and
government
guaranteed-market for their products e.g. via armament spending, we
might
also add -ED] paint climate scientists as creating fear to carve out
well-paid government-funded careers.

The flaws in this argument: first, no one really wanted to see it
happen and, second, anyone who could disprove it would win the Nobel
prize [and
the cover of Time on top of their Nobel Prize, we might add -ED]

Journalists who wrote what scientists believed were pilloried too. I
was taken to the press council in 1999 by a reader for writing about
global warming a decade on. My alleged crime was I hadn't given oxygen
to those who didn't believe.

The complaint was dismissed.

A problem is global warming's complexity. This makes it a blessing that
someone who is able to simplify science, such as Tim Flannery, has
become a convert.

We can make a difference. One of the simplest and least painful ways
would be to make it mandatory for all new houses to have solar
hot-water systems. Hot water is 25per cent of household energy use and
solar systems reduce this by 80 per cent. Any extra capital cost is
paid back by reduced energy bills.

The value of such measures is emphasised with the National Climate
Centre saying Victoria is likely to be hotter
than average causing a blow-out in greenhouse unfriendly
air-conditioner use this summer [remember that November-February is
around summertime for Australia, where The Age
is based -ED]

As the hurricanes demonstrated, the earth's atmosphere is capable of
destroying the structures and institutions humans have so carefully
crafted into civilisation. The rapid initial breakdown of law and order
in New Orleans after Katrina should be proof of its fragility. I think
the battle with the weather in future will make our war against
jihadist terrorism pale into insignificance.

When I wrote that first report, one of the primary concerns was about
sea levels rising and the National Times editors ran a cartoon of the
Opera House being swamped. Now climatologists concede sea level rises
were one area they initially over-estimated and are likely to be at the
lower end of predictions.
[until the greenland ice melts adding 6-7 meters to ocean levels, that
is..
something that scientists believe may already be an inevitable
'locked into place' outcome once we reach 450 or 500 ppm in CO2,
some 30-60 years away assuming our present rates of increases do
not even accelerate from the current 2ppm per year -ED]

The Opera House will probably be safe*. Pity about Bangladesh, Tuvalu
and Kiribati.

Geoff Strong is a staff writer.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/its-climate-change-as-forecast/2005/10/30/1130607148560.html?page=2

*Until the lock-in causes the Greenland melt and then
the opera house isn't so safe. Pity also 1/3 of humanity as Monbiot's
short letter to the editor reminds us about the already
melting Himalayan glaciers:



Costing the Earth

Bjorn Lomborg's climate change calculus is profoundly flawed. Letter
to The Times from George Monbiot, 18th May 2004

Dear Sir,

Bjorn Lomborg challenges me to respond to his contention that the cost
of curbing carbon emissions is comparable to the cost of global warming
itself, and that the money would be better spent elsewhere. He hardly
makes it difficult. His methodology and his presentation of the figures
are both profoundly flawed.

Lomborg begins by deliberately choosing the most optimistic assessment
of the likely damage caused by climate change, and the most pessimistic
estimate of the expense of minimising it. This latter figure appears to
count the costs but not the economic benefits of investment in new
energy sources and energy-efficient technology. Some estimates suggest
that the transition to energy efficiency could result in a net gain
rather than a net loss to the global economy.

But Lomborg's more important mistake is to assume that we can attach
a single, meaningful figure to the costs incurred by global warming. If
there is one thing we know about climate change, it's that it is a
non-linear process, whose likely impacts simply cannot be totted up
like the expenses for a works outing to the seaside. Even those
outcomes we can predict are almost impossible to cost. We now know, for
example, that the Himalayan glaciers which feed the Ganges, the
Bramaputra, the Mekong, the Yangtze and the other great Asian rivers
are likely to disappear within 30 or 40 years. If these rivers dry up
during the irrigation season, then the rice production which currently
feeds over one third of humanity ceases to be viable, and the world
goes into net food deficit. If Lomborg believes he can put a price on
that, he has plainly spent too much of his life with his calculator,
and not enough with human beings.

Reading Lomborg's work, it is hard to reach any conclusion other than
that he is telling the powerful what they want to hear, irrespective of
the real costs to everyone else.

Yours Sincerely,

George Monbiot


http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2004/05/18/costing-the-earth/

=============

DON'T MOURN, ACT! WEBSITES FOR ACTION:

http://www.earthshare.org/get_involved/involved.html
http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/climate.asp (not working, 05 apr)
http://www.greenhousenet.org/
http://www.solarcatalyst.com/
http://www.campaignearth.org/buy_green_nativeenergy.asp

Overview and local actions you can take: http://www.PostCarbon.org
=============

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STILL FEELING LIKE THE MAINSTREAM U.S. CORPORATE MEDIA
IS GIVING A FULL HONEST PICTURE OF WHAT'S GOING ON?
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Daily online radio show, news reporting: www.DemocracyNow.org
More news: UseNet's misc.activism.progressive (moderated)
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Sorry, we cannot read/reply to most usenet posts but welcome email
For more information: http://EconomicDemocracy.org/wtc/ (peace)
And http://EconomicDemocracy.org/ (general)

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Beebs
2005-11-01 21:42:11 EST
i*o@economicdemocracy.org wrote:
> Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 12:03:29 -0800
> It's climate change, as forecast
> By Geoff Strong> October 31, 2005
>
> A year of climatic disasters is now persuading politicians
> to accept the warnings of 20 years ago, writes Geoff Strong.

Solar power is not the solution.
We need to build nukes, and plenty
of them. There isn't any other
energy source that gets there.

And the US could "carbon bank" using
trees and switchgrass.

beebs


*@dan.com
2005-11-01 22:33:12 EST
"beebs" <beebs79@softhome.net> wrote in message
news:1130899331.580074.124750@g49g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
> info@economicdemocracy.org wrote:
>> Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 12:03:29 -0800
>> It's climate change, as forecast
>> By Geoff Strong> October 31, 2005
>>
>> A year of climatic disasters is now persuading politicians
>> to accept the warnings of 20 years ago, writes Geoff Strong.
>
> Solar power is not the solution.
> We need to build nukes, and plenty
> of them. There isn't any other
> energy source that gets there.
>
> And the US could "carbon bank" using
> trees and switchgrass.
>
> beebs

Why in the world does it have to just be one energy source?



Beebs
2005-11-02 01:07:41 EST
Could be many, you are right.

But we need dense sources of energy for transport and living.

beebs


Z
2005-11-02 01:37:32 EST

beebs wrote:
> Could be many, you are right.
>
> But we need dense sources of energy for transport and living.
>
> beebs

Only some. Why can't lots of your home electricity and heat come from
solar panels on your roof, for instance? And a big chunk of a farm's
energy come from a windmill? Etc.? Of course it won't replace fossil
fuel, but it will sure as hell make a big dent in it.


OptionARMpopeye
2005-11-02 09:28:18 EST
If global warming is the problem.

Nuclear power and electrification is the answer.

Wind and Solar will not power the grid because.
A.) There are too many fluctuations.

2.) The voltage levels required for High Tension Transmission are to
high, 115KV minimum not to lose most of what is generated to
transformation and transmission.

C.) You can not start and stop commercial power plants at the whim of
the wind and the sun.

Nukes produce no Co2. If we store it in the 1 million year facility in
Yucca Mountain and begin reprocessing it as the French do, we have a
300 year supply without mining another ounce.

Support the earth, Support Nuclear power.

Unfounded fear is not a source of alternate energy.

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