Year 4, Month 12, Day 16: Coming Down The Home Stretch

The Denver Post discusses the need for more and better science:

Government-backed U.S. scientists on Tuesday urged for the creation of a warning system to help people anticipate the impact of climate change on food, water and cities.

Early warnings would give more time to adapt, but they will require much closer monitoring of warming oceans, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and extinctions of plants and animals, according to the scientists and a report unveiled by a National Research Council committee.

There are too many blind spots to be able to anticipate change and its impacts, said Jim White, the University of Colorado-based committee chairman.

Ocean temperatures should be monitored near the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, he said. And the number of points where the heat-trapping greenhouse gas methane is measured is inadequate, with funding for global monitoring networks cut by 30 percent since 2007, he said.

“We’re not watching closely enough,” he said. “Think about walking in a dark cave. You need a candle. This monitoring is our candle.”

Scientists in their report said surprises resulting from climate change are inevitable and that a warning system could allow mitigation before impacts are severe.

The comments are depressing. December 4:

A phrase we hear often from conservative politicians is “nobody anticipated.” For example, “nobody anticipated” New Orleans’ failing levees, or the Iraq invasion’s mishandling, or the failure rates of oil pipelines, or that slashing public works funding leads to major infrastructure collapses. And nobody anticipated pine beetle infestations, crop failures, flooding, drought, newly resurgent tropical diseases, or any of global climate change’s other repercussions around the world.

“Nobody,” but climate scientists, whose reputations (unlike those of politicians and media figures) hinge on the accuracy and reliability of their predictions. Climatologists have been warning us for decades that our fossil-fuel addiction would bring disastrous results, and they’ve only erred in underestimating just how disastrous those results would be. If we are to survive and prosper as a society, as a civilization, and as a species, we need to put less energy into ideological posturing and more into research, analysis, and forecasting.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 6, Day 16: Summer In The City — Back Of My Neck Feeling Dirt And Gritty

Damn. I wonder how the hell this happened:

Major U.S. cities are among the world’s wealthiest and technologically advanced, but they lag behind their counterparts in Latin America in preparing for climate change, a survey finds.

Nearly all, or 95%, of major cities in Latin America are making plans to deal with the adverse impact of climate change, compared to 59% of such cities in the United States. according to a survey of 468 cities worldwide released this week by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The most prepared cities are often those facing the greatest changes in temperature or rainfall, the survey finds. For example, officials in Equador’s mountainous capitol of Quito have been studying the effects of global warming on nearby melting glaciers, developing ways to handle potential water shortages and organizing regional conferences on climate change.

U.S.A.!!!! U.S.A.!!!! U.S.A.!!!! U.S.A.!!!!


Because Shut Up, That’s Why.

Sent June 6:

It’s puzzling. The United States has been a world leader in science and technology for decades. Our record in innovation is unrivaled; our capacity for responding to crises is second to none.

Or so we claim, anyway. The news that cities in Latin America are far further along than those in the USA when it comes preparing for the inevitable effects of global climate should have a sobering effect on American exceptionalists. It should, but it won’t — because the folks who insist that our country is Number One in Everything are the same ones who’ve swallowed the convenient falsehood that the burgeoning climate crisis is actually a conspiracy fabricated by a secret cabal of scientists and liberals.

Maybe Latin America’s cities are ahead of us in preparation because they aren’t distracted by a clamor of media voices promulgating a false equivalency between climate science and corporate mendacity. Maybe.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 1, Day 14: Do The Right Thing?

County legislators in New York are scared to do the right thing, because they might look like they’re agreeing with (gasp!) hippies:

CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators liked much of what they heard Monday about saving money through energy changes, but stopped short of wanting the projects included in a Climate Action Plan that was shelved earlier for discussion until at least February.

Legislators voted 7-7, with Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, absent, not to refer the draft county Climate Action Plan back to staff for revision and then disagreed over whether that meant they wanted to proceed with some of the measures.


Some legislators who voted against revising the climate plan — which has been tabled twice — said that the county would be wise to move ahead with cost-saving proposals but that they did not need to be part of a plan they find over-reaching.

The breakdown of the vote was almost exactly along party lines. Sent January 10:

The Republican party’s incessant politicization of science over the past four decades has led to a lot of bad policy decisions. It’s also made it harder to implement good policies. St. Lawrence county lawmakers’ unwillingness to include energy saving strategies under a rubric of climate change adaptation is an excellent example of this phenomenon.

On the face of it, energy efficiency is about the least objectionable policy goal imaginable. But because the word “conservation” has become anathema to conservative legislators and media figures, any move to increase efficiency and reduce waste must be framed in purely financial terms if it is to have any hope of success. Furthermore, any suggestion that such a fiscally sensible policy is in fact consistent with climate change response strategies is ipso facto a kiss of death in the electoral arena.

On the grand scale, Monday’s dispute in Canton may seem small — but it is symptomatic of our broader national inability to act in our own best interests for fear of political consequences.

Warren Senders