Year 1, Month 1, Day 15: Chastising the Washington Post

Daughter announced this morning that she wanted to stay home, and “make up a school at home.” I agreed, with the caveat that she would have to spend a bunch of time alone, as I had work to do and some students later in the morning. In a minute or so I’m going to make some calls for the Coakley campaign. Today’s letter is a remix of several earlier items; I’m now at the point where I have enough material to dissect and reassemble my output in multiple combinations. It’s less work, or it would be if the prose wasn’t on such a harrowing topic.

Each day brings new news about the magnitude of the looming climate crisis; most recently we learn that the Pine Island Glacier, largest of the glaciers making up the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet, has passed a “tipping point” and is now inexorably melting. Simultaneously levels of atmospheric methane over the Siberian Shelf in the Arctic Ocean now range between a hundred and a thousand times normal, indicating that gigatonnes of this powerful greenhouse gas which have been frozen under the tundra for tens of thousands of years are now starting to enter the atmosphere. The most significant thing about the predictions of climatologists is that they are without exception too conservative; tipping points projected for the end of this century now loom at the end of this decade.

The best-case scenarios for runaway global warming lead to terrifying dystopias, with millions of displaced climate refugees, worldwide food and water shortages, resource wars and devastatingly unpredictable weather patterns. The worst-case scenarios could lead to global temperatures soaring to levels inhospitable to any life at all. Venus, in short. And the scientific evidence (again, based on conservative projections) suggests that the probability of bad-to-worst-case outcomes is statistically significant. This country’s rush to war in 2002 was based on evidence far less robust than that for human causes of global climate change: if the evidence of Iraqi WMD’s was as strong as that for anthropogenic global warming, our troops would have found stacks of nuclear weapons freely sold in the bazaars of Baghdad.

And where is the Washington Post in all this? Firmly ignoring science and continuing to publish the glib (albeit erudite) misinformation propagated by George Will. The Post should correct this shortsighted policy immediately; there has never been a time in human history when enabling ignorance could have such devastating consequences.

Warren Senders

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