Year 3, Month 12, Day 3: Red, White and Bullshit…

The Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN) runs an AP article about America’s attempt to greenwash our record at Doha.

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Anticipating an onslaught of criticism from poor nations, the United States claimed “enormous” strides in reducing greenhouse emissions at the opening of U.N. climate talks Monday, despite failing to join other industrialized nations in committing to binding cuts.

The pre-emptive U.S. approach underscores one of the major showdowns expected at the two-week conference as China pushes developed countries to take an even greater role in tackling global warming.

Speaking for a coalition of developed nations known as the G77, China’s delegate, Su Wei, said rich nations should become party to an extended Kyoto Protocol — an emissions deal for some industrialized countries that the Americans long ago rejected — or at least make “comparable mitigation commitments.”

The United States rejected Kyoto because it didn’t impose any binding commitments on major developing countries such as India and China, which is now the world’s No. 1 carbon emitter.

American delegate Jonathan Pershing offered no new sweeteners to the poor countries, only reiterating what the United States has done to tackle global warming: investing heavily in clean energy, doubling fuel efficiency standards and reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. Pershing also said the United States would not increase its earlier commitment of cutting emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. It is half way to that target.

Mendacity, mendacity, it makes the world go ’round. Sent November 27:

The United States’ attempt to defuse criticism of its profligate greenhouse emissions on the eve of the Doha climate conference is a fine demonstration of how truth and deception can be interwoven. It’s beyond dispute that America has made enormous strides in reducing future consumption of fossil fuels. Whether it’s stricter mileage standards for new cars, tougher EPA regulations, or increased investments in renewable energy, the Obama administration has done remarkably well — especially given the relentless opposition they’ve faced from Republican lawmakers who’ve done everything possible to derail environmentally responsible policy initiatives.

But these strides are only possible because our country’s approach to energy is astonishingly wasteful. Per capita, America’s CO2 emissions are far higher than those of India and China, whose carbon footprints are larger than ours only because of their far greater populations. For the USA to tout its record on climate change without taking these factors into account is grossly misleading — a poor stance for any nation, let alone one asserting a leadership role in the international community. When it comes to a robust and responsible approach to the planetary climate crisis, America (and Americans) will have to do far better than this.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 8, Day 4: In This Issue Of Tiger Beat: Meet Stephen Hawking!

The New York Daily News reports on a finding from the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. Hence the headline. Note:

Copenhagen, July 24 — The greatest climate change ever recorded by the world over the last 100,000 years has been the transition from the ice age to the warm interglacial period.

New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen indicates that, contrary to previous opinion, the rise in temperature and the rise in the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) follow each other closely in terms of time.

In the warmer climate, the atmospheric content of CO2 is naturally higher. CO2 is a green-house gas that absorbs heat radiation from the Earth and thus keeps the planet warm. In the shift between ice ages and interglacial periods the atmospheric content of CO2 helps to intensify the natural climate variations, the journal Climate of the Past reports.

Too many big words for the Daily News, I suppose. Sent July 24:

The close correlation between a warming planet and increased levels of atmospheric CO2 should surprise no one who’s paid attention to the past several decades of climate science — no one, that is, who hasn’t entirely swallowed the zany paranoid fantasy that the world’s climatologists are part of a massive planet-wide plot to confiscate our SUVs.

Research from the Neils Bohr Institute confirms that in the past, CO2 levels have followed planetary warming — a reversal of the present-day situation, in which our industrialized civilization has dumped gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere in a geological instant, putting the Earth on a drastic and potentially devastating course towards climate chaos as the greenhouse effect makes temperatures rise.

There’s no longer any possible excuse for inaction. To reject science on the grounds that it is ideologically inconvenient is to sacrifice the future of our nation on the altar of electoral exigency.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 6, Day 11: We Are The Great Four Hundred

The Columbus (IA) Republic, on hitting 400:

For more than 60 years, readings have been in the 300s, except in urban areas, where levels are skewed. The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal for electricity and oil for gasoline, has caused the overwhelming bulk of the man-made increase in carbon in the air, scientists say.

It’s been at least 800,000 years — probably more — since Earth saw carbon dioxide levels in the 400s, Butler and other climate scientists said.

Until now.

Readings are coming in at 400 and higher all over the Arctic. They’ve been recorded in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Iceland and even Mongolia. But levels change with the seasons and will drop a bit in the summer, when plants suck up carbon dioxide, NOAA scientists said.

So the yearly average for those northern stations likely will be lower and so will the global number.

Globally, the average carbon dioxide level is about 395 parts per million but will pass the 400 mark within a few years, scientists said.

The Arctic is the leading indicator in global warming, both in carbon dioxide in the air and effects, said Pieter Tans, a senior NOAA scientist.

“This is the first time the entire Arctic is that high,” he said.

A rehash of yesterday’s letter. Sent June 1:

I vividly remember the excitement we experienced as kids when our station wagon’s odometer turned over; on the day we passed 100,000 miles, Dad decelerated a bit and my brother and I called off the tenths of a mile until all the zeroes lined up on the dashboard and the family broke out in cheers. We did a lot of driving in those days — unwittingly, it turns out, making our contribution to a far more ominous numerical landmark.

400 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 is nothing to celebrate. We long ago passed the critical level of 350 ppm, the concentration climatologists consider the maximum level consistent with the continued survival of our civilization, and even if we stopped burning fossil fuels completely, things would still keep getting hotter for decades. The next few centuries are going to be a rough ride for life on Earth. Why are the climate-change denialists in media and politics working hard to keep us from buckling up our seat belts?

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 6, Day 10: You Thought Y2K Was Gonna Be Bad? Try CO24C.

Yay, us:

The world’s air has reached what scientists call a troubling new milestone for carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant.

Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn’t quite a surprise, because it’s been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350 ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395.

So far, only the Arctic has reached that 400 level, but the rest of the world will follow soon.

Upfucked ungood. Sorry, kids. Good luck with your lives; you’re gonna need it. Sent May 31:

As kids, we clustered around the driver’s seat when the odometer on our family car turned over; Dad would decelerate a bit and we’d call off fractions of a mile. All those zeros were tangible proof of how far we’d traveled. Sometimes we’d celebrate (ice-cream!).

Now we get to watch as another and considerably more ominous number scrolls by. When CO2 is measured at 400 parts per million in the atmosphere over the Arctic, though, it’s nothing to celebrate. Scientists agree that the survival of our civilization hinges on keeping concentrations of this greenhouse gas below 350 ppm, a landmark we crossed decades ago.

While we always came home at the end of a family drive, it now looks as though industrial humans may have driven too far. The Earth we grew up on is irreversibly behind us, thanks to the past century’s profligate consumption of fossil fuels. No cheering this time.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 30: Wheeeeee!

The Chicago Tribune introduces us to the new “normal”:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Heavy rains, deep snowfalls, monster floods and killing droughts are signs of a “new normal” of extreme U.S. weather events fueled by climate change, scientists and government planners said on Wednesday.

“It’s a new normal and I really do think that global weirding is the best way to describe what we’re seeing,” climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University told reporters.

“We are used to certain conditions and there’s a lot going on these days that is not what we’re used to, that is outside our current frame of reference,” Hayhoe said on a conference call with other experts, organized by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists.

Sent May 18:

Colder colds, hotter hots. Rainier rains and drier droughts. Stormier storms, disrupting more lives, more and more often. Welcome to the twenty-first century. And the twenty-second. And the twenty-third. Unlike the climate humanity’s been accustomed to for the past ten or twelve thousand years, our new “normal” is the environmental equivalent of a self-destructive alcoholic bender. Atmospheric CO2 will contribute to the greenhouse effect for centuries, which means that even if we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, we’d feel the effects of climate change for a long time to come. Is the inevitability of catastrophic weather events a rationale for inaction? Hardly. Rather, we’re faced with a crucial choice: every step we take towards reducing our consumption of oil and coal will mitigate the storms of future generations. Will we continue our profligate ways, or wake up and address the greatest threat humanity’s ever faced since the dawn of civilization?

Warren Senders