Climate change compendium: tracking our planetary calamity [UPDATED]

November 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This post is a chronological compilation of news and opinion on our ever-worsening climate calamity.

To set the stage, watch this video: 131 years of global warming in 26 seconds

Then read this essential piece explaining why the climate story is beyond anything the media has ever reported.

Yahoo News (1/31/14)

Prince Charles has called people who deny human-made climate change a “headless chicken brigade” who are ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence.

NBC News (12/13/13)

By the time today’s preschoolers are babysitting their grandkids, global sea levels are likely to be pushing 2 feet higher than they are now and on the way to topping 8 feet above current levels by the year 2200, according to a new study.

USA Today (12/5/13)

Valley Fever is one of multiple diseases experts say are spreading in part because of climate change. They include a brain-eating amoeba showing up in northern lakes that were once too cold to harbor it and several illnesses carried by ticks whose range is increasing.

Guardian (11/20/13)

The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.

Think Progress (11/3/13)

NASA released global temperature data showing that this September tied with 2005 for the warmest September on record.

New York Times (11/1/13)

Climate change will pose sharp risks to the world’s food supply in coming decades, potentially undermining crop production and driving up prices at a time when the demand for food is expected to soar, scientists have found.

New York Times (10/9/13)

If greenhouse emissions continue their steady escalation, temperatures across most of the earth will rise to levels with no recorded precedent by the middle of this century.

CNN (9/27/13)

Climate scientists are 95% confident — that is to say, surer than ever — that humans are responsible for at least “half of the observed increase in global average surface temperatures since the 1950s.” …weather events that have previously been classified as “storms of the century” could become the storm of “every 20 years or less.”

TCK (9/19/13)

Sea ice cover in the Arctic has shrunk to the sixth lowest extent on record, according to figures from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Think Progress (8/18/13)

Every climate scientist I’ve spoken to has said we will blow past 550 ppm [carbon dioxide concentrations] if we continue to put off action. Indeed, we’re on track for well past 800 ppm. Continued inaction on climate change risks the end of modern civilization as we know it.

TIME (8/15/13)

Northeast Asia is on fire. Yesterday temperatures in Shanghai hit an all-time high of 105.4ºF (40.8ºC), the hottest day in the coastal megacity since Chinese officials began keeping records some 140 years ago — during the Qing dynasty.

Read more

GOP radicals and the end of American exceptionalism

August 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Last November, Karen Tumulty wrote an interesting article titled American exceptionalism: an old idea and a new political battle:

[T]he idea that the United States is inherently superior to the world’s other nations has become the battle cry from a new front in the ongoing culture wars. Lately, it seems to be on the lips of just about every Republican who is giving any thought to running for president in 2012.

The proposition of American exceptionalism, which goes at least as far back as the writing of French aristocrat and historian Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1830s, asserts that this country has a unique character. It is also rooted in religious belief. A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution found that 58 percent of Americans agreed with the statement: “God has granted America a special role in human history.

Read more

GOP “Pledge” in the Age of Denial

September 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

David Corn has an excellent post on the GOP’s new pledge:

The House Republicans on Thursday released a manifesto outlining what they intend to do should they triumph in the coming congressional elections. The glossy document, which is adorned with photographs of the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, and cowboys, is high-mindedly titled “A Pledge to America: A New Governing Agenda Built on the Priorities of Our Nation, the Principles We Stand For & America’s Founding Values.” And it offers few surprises … Below is a list of words and phrases and the number of times they are each mentioned in the 45-page “Pledge.”

Climate change: 0
Environment: 1 (“political environment”)
Alternative energy: 0
Renewable: 0
Green: 0

This comports with the right’s stunningly irresponsible and dangerous tendency to deny a threat that dwarfs virtually anything humanity faces.

A bad year for environmentalists is a bad year for everyone

August 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

WaPo looks at a horrible year for environmentalists:

Environmental groups have won some victories in recent years, opposing individual coal-fired power plants and pressuring banks to stop funding “mountaintop removal” coal mines.

But for the green movement, this year’s defeat was more than a loss; it was a reckoning, a signal that it had overestimated its influence.

Even in the hottest year on record, even with a historic oil spill polluting the Gulf of Mexico, even with a Democratic Congress and a friendly White House, it couldn’t win the fight it had picked. In fact, in the Senate it couldn’t even start it.

Here’s my take, from last week:

This has been a dreadful year for environmentalists — and for the environment.

Climate deniers are winning the public opinion battle, even though evidence of warming is piling up astonishingly and alarmingly fast.

A historic oil spill that could have spurred major action has been excised from the national psyche with fairy tales.

Meanwhile:

Thousands of fish have turned up dead at the mouth of Mississippi River, prompting authorities to check whether oil was the cause of mass death, local media reports said Monday. The fish were found Sunday floating on the surface of the water and collected in booms that had been deployed to contain oil that leaked from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Times-Picayune reported. “By our estimates there were thousands, and I’m talking about 5,000 to 15,000 dead fish,” St Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro was quoted as saying in a statement. He said crabs, sting rays, eel, drum, speckled trout and red fish were among the species that turned up dead.

And now this:

The Obama Administration has decided to side with polluters when it comes to the Clean Air Act (CAA), providing a brief to the Court arguing that Federal administrative and regulatory action obviates any standing for states or private entities to use CAA “nuisance” provisions to act in protection of their citizens’ or their own interests.

Over the past century, nuisance law provisions have proved a powerful tool for dealing with polluters who, for whichever set of reasons, are falling outside serious governmental action to curb the damage their “externalities” are causing others.

The Obama team’s action is almost incomprehensible. As Joe Romm notes

“As with the decision to embrace offshore drilling, we’ll no doubt eventually learn that this decision — which lies somewhere on the scale between between unproductive and counter-productive — was made without serious input from those in the administration who represent science or the environment. … I couldn’t find anyone who thinks this moves makes much sense. NRDC’s David Donger told the WSJ, “We are appalled.”

More from the NYT:

Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and his colleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meeting with more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general’s office on June 24, it seemed they had “a lot of friends in the room,” he said.

“We feel stabbed in the back,” Pawa said. “This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?”

Top attorneys at environmental advocacy groups are buzzing about the brief, sources say. Some feel betrayed by a White House that has generally been more amenable to environmental regulation than its predecessor.

“This reads as if it were cut and pasted from the Bush administration’s briefing in Massachusetts,” said David Bookbinder, who served as the Sierra Club’s chief climate counsel until his resignation in May.

With the right ascendant, and with Democrats in full election panic mode, I fear this dreadful year for environmentalists — and for the environment — will only get worse.

The critical point here is that environmentalists are fighting for all of us, not just themselves, so a bad year for them is a bad year for everyone. Including the deniers.

A dreadful year for environmentalists

August 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This has been a dreadful year for environmentalists — and for the environment.

Climate deniers are winning the public opinion battle, even though evidence of warming is piling up astonishingly and alarmingly fast.

A historic oil spill that could have spurred major action has been excised from the national psyche with fairy tales. Meanwhile:

Thousands of fish have turned up dead at the mouth of Mississippi River, prompting authorities to check whether oil was the cause of mass death, local media reports said Monday. The fish were found Sunday floating on the surface of the water and collected in booms that had been deployed to contain oil that leaked from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Times-Picayune reported. “By our estimates there were thousands, and I’m talking about 5,000 to 15,000 dead fish,” St Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro was quoted as saying in a statement. He said crabs, sting rays, eel, drum, speckled trout and red fish were among the species that turned up dead.

And now this:

The Obama Administration has decided to side with polluters when it comes to the Clean Air Act (CAA), providing a brief to the Court arguing that Federal administrative and regulatory action obviates any standing for states or private entities to use CAA “nuisance” provisions to act in protection of their citizens’ or their own interests.

Over the past century, nuisance law provisions have proved a powerful tool for dealing with polluters who, for whichever set of reasons, are falling outside serious governmental action to curb the damage their “externalities” are causing others.

The Obama team’s action is almost incomprehensible. As Joe Romm notes

“As with the decision to embrace offshore drilling, we’ll no doubt eventually learn that this decision — which lies somewhere on the scale between between unproductive and counter-productive — was made without serious input from those in the administration who represent science or the environment. … I couldn’t find anyone who thinks this moves makes much sense. NRDC’s David Donger told the WSJ, “We are appalled.”

More from the NYT:

Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and his colleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meeting with more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general’s office on June 24, it seemed they had “a lot of friends in the room,” he said.

“We feel stabbed in the back,” Pawa said. “This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?”

Top attorneys at environmental advocacy groups are buzzing about the brief, sources say. Some feel betrayed by a White House that has generally been more amenable to environmental regulation than its predecessor.

“This reads as if it were cut and pasted from the Bush administration’s briefing in Massachusetts,” said David Bookbinder, who served as the Sierra Club’s chief climate counsel until his resignation in May.

With the right ascendant, and with Democrats in full election panic mode, I fear this dreadful year for environmentalists — and for the environment — will only get worse.

James Cameron calls global warming skeptics “swine”

August 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Director James Cameron called global warming skeptics “swine” at a renewable energy conference in Aspen.

That’s the blunt approach.

Here’s another way of looking at it: what odds are deniers willing to accept that alarmists are right and they’re wrong? How willing are they to play Russian roulette with their children’s future? Are they so convinced of their position that they don’t even entertain the possibility they might be wrong? If so, they are delusional. There’s no certitude on what the next day might bring, let alone the next century.

If they do realize they’re gambling with their children’s future, then “swine” is too polite a term.