Environmentalist/Climate Catastrophe activist Bill McKibben’s campaign and web site www.350.org has a very specific, vital mission:
“350 means climate safety. To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm. But 350 is more than a number—it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.”
That goal of keeping CO2 emissions below 350 ppm (parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere) was once thought of as a reasonable and reachable one.
Above that level of 350 ppm of CO2, life for most species on earth, especially humans, becomes more and more tenuous and threatened as these greenhouse gases change the climate in ways we have never encountered before.
But now, as of today, May 10, 2013, the most up-to-date reports about accelerating Climate Catastrophe show that CO2 levels have already reached 400 ppm, much sooner than climate scientists once predicted (Climate Collision Course: CO2 Levels About to Hit 400 PPM | Common Dreams and In ‘March Toward Disaster,’ World Hits 400 PPM Milestone | Common Dreams), meaning all life on earth is seriously threatened in the next 30 years.
As the first article linked above states,
“The last time the greenhouse gases were at 400 ppm was likely the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago. The current reading is at 399.72 ppm — far past the 350 ppm level many, including noted climate scientist James Hansen, have warned is the upper safe limit before the planet hits a tipping point.”
This level of CO2 at 400 ppm means much higher average temperatures in summer, more droughts, more melting glaciers and ice caps, more rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes and other extreme weather, more famines, rising food prices, increased scarcity of clean water, more climate refugees, more species extinctions, wider spreads of tropical diseases into temperate zones, and more civil unrest.
Yet no world leaders are seriously addressing this coming catastrophe, let alone proposing effective policies to mitigate its disastrous consequences. And “mitigate” is the appropriate word, because we are not going to avoid this catastrophe, nor reverse it.
In fact, many leaders, such as President Obama, are extolling more drilling for oil, more oil from tar sands, more gas from fracking, and more mountain-top removal for coal, as though the burning of all this additional fossil fuel will have no effect on Catastrophic Climate Chaos. Their energy advisors and corporate funders, all solidly part of the fossil fuel lobby, ignore science in favor of more obscenely-high profits for themselves and their shareholders, as though more money will somehow insulate them on an unlivable planet. And an unlivable planet, for humans and many other species, is exactly what we are headed for in the next decades.
Most analogies are far from perfect, but indulge this one: all of us, including non-human species, are on a runaway train heading for a cliff’s edge. The engineers in the cab (world political and corporate leaders), instead of applying the brakes, are feverishly shoveling more coal and wood into the engine, carelessly ignoring the increasing speed as the train rushes faster and faster to the cliff’s edge. Meanwhile, too many of us in the passenger cars are preoccupied and distracted to pay much attention, and the train’s p.a. system (corporate media) continues to focus our attention on stories about celebrity and political scandals and more products to buy and “reality” TV and sports, while this accelerating threat to our existence is almost completely ignored.
At levels of CO2 beyond 400 ppm, there is the added danger of permafrost melting, releasing methane, another greenhouse gas, which would then multiply the already-dangerous effects of high CO2 levels, further speeding up global warming and Catastrophic Climate Chaos. In very literal ways, all hell will have broken loose on this, our only planet.
The future will be very bleak, as billions of people will suffer and die, in addition to most other species. For those who manage to survive, life will be extremely difficult and so different than what we now experience that they will think they are living on another planet. And, in a sense, they will be. It will be a planet humans have never known.
Future historians, if there are any, will look back at the last decades of the 20th century and the first decades of this century and wonder how and why we allowed this once-avoidable catastrophe to occur. They will also wonder how we could have all but destroyed the futures of our children and grandchildren so carelessly and selfishly.
We already know the answers to those questions, and the answers indict us as a species still arrogant and foolish enough to call ourselves “homo sapiens sapiens”.
[DS added the videos.]
The evidence for climate change WITHOUT computer models or the IPCC
potholer54 on May 9, 2013
Predictable posts are answered here. Please spend your time and effort in addressing the evidence presented in the video:
“This is a straw man argument. Of course skeptics [sic] accept that CO2 warms the atmosphere. We just don’t think the warming will be catastrophic.”
Answer: “Skeptics” have all kinds of positions on climate science, depending on their personal beliefs and feelings. This video addresses those critics who claim there is no evidence for the link between CO2 and global temperature. Whether you want to call such changes “catastrophic” or benign, or terrible, or bad, or good is your feeling, and therefore outside the scope of the science.
“Correlation does not mean causation.”
Answer: It is still consistent with the theory. And where a mechanism has been shown that should produce a correlation, then the correlation is yet more confirmation that a theory is correct.
Sources for my last video “Evidence for Climate Change WITHOUT computer models….”
potholer54 on May 10, 2013
There was no room for sources in the video description of my last video (“Evidence for climate change….”) So I am putting them here, and in the video description of this video:
02:17 “On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground” — S Arrhenius, Philosophical Magazine 1896
02:32 “The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature”
G. S. Callendar, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
“Infra-red absorbtion by carbon dioxide, with special reference to atmospheric radiation”
— G. Callendar, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meterological Society 1941
02:53 “The Unchained Goddess” 1958
05:05 “Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications”
James Hansen, Science 2005
05:24 My video “Monckton Bunkum Part 2 — Sensitivity”
06:07 Graph from http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Car…
06:13 Tim Ball interviewed by Michael Coren
07:01 “Climate Sensitivity during the Phanerozoic: Lessons for the Future” — DL Royer, Oral presentation at AAPG Annual Convention, Denver, Colorado, 2009
07:15 My video “Monckton Bunkum Part 3 – Correlations and Himalayan glaciers”
09:12 My video “The 800-year lag unravelled”
10:11 Graph from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/rele…
10:44 “Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content” — Magdalena A. Balmaseda1 et al, Geophysical Research Letters, 2013
10:59 “Earth’s energy balance and implications” — Hansen et al, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2011
11:25 “Does the Earth have an adaptive infra-red iris?” Richard Lindzen et al., Bulletin of the American Met. Soc., 2001
Time to Wake Up: The Campaign to Mislead the Public on Climate Change
SenatorWhitehouse on Apr 18, 2013
As delivered on the Senate floor
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Thank you, Madam President. We are gathered here in the Senate in the somber shadow of the events in Boston at the marathon. And I guess I will start by conveying my sympathies to the individuals and their families who were killed or hurt in that terrible act. I share the determination of so many people that our law enforcement folks will indeed get to the bottom of this, and will get the resources they need, and we will have answers and justice for the families that are affected.
I rise again though, on the subject I come to the floor every week we are in session to discuss, which is the need for this body to wake up to the reality of the clear scientific consensus that human activity is driving serious changes in our climate and oceans.
For more than two decades, the fossil fuel companies and certain right-wing extremists have cooked up a well-organized campaign to call into question the scientific evidence of climate change. The paid-for deniers then manufacture an interesting product, they manufacture uncertainty so the polluters who are doing the paying can also keep polluting, because a sufficient atmosphere of uncertainty has been created to inhibit progress.
This is not a new strategy. We have seen this played before. Industries eager to drown out scientific evidence to maximize profit is not a new story. They questioned the merits of requiring seatbelts in automobiles. They questioned the toxic effects of lead exposure. And they questioned whether tobacco was really bad for people.
Well, they were wrong then and they’re wrong now about climate. Interestingly, they do not actually care. It is not their purpose to be accurate. They just want to create doubt; to sow enough of a question to stop progress. So these sophisticated campaigns are launched to give the public the false impression that there actually is a real scientific debate over climate change. And here in the Senate, regrettably, some of my colleagues even promote this view.
But, let’s be practical here. Which is the more likely case?
Are a handful of nonprofit environmental groups using their limited funding to pay off literally hundreds and hundreds of climate scientists in an internationally coordinated hoax to falsify complicated climate research? Really?
Or is it more likely that fossil-fuel corporations are using a slice of their immense profits to float front groups to protect their immense profits?
Well, the answer to that question is obvious I think, just from the logic. But we don’t have to apply logic. We can follow the money and look at evidence.
According to an analysis by the Checks and Balances Project, a self-described pro-clean-energy government and industry watchdog group, from 2006 to 2010, four sources of fossil-fuel money, just 4 of them, contributed more than $16 million to a group of conservative think tanks that go about the business of being publicly critical of climate science and clean energy. Those four sources are the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and oil giant ExxonMobil. On the receiving end is a lengthy roster of well-known and often-cited rightward-leaning outfits: The top 10 (we’ll just talk about the top 10 in this set of remarks):
- American Enterprise Institute
- Cato Institute
- Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Heartland Institute
- Heritage Foundation
- Hudson Institute
- Institute for Energy Research
- George C. Marshall Institute
- Manhattan Institute
- Mercatus Center
Who’s giving? Well, Charles Koch is chairman and CEO of Koch Industries and he is the 6th-richest person on the planet. Koch Industries is the second-largest privately held company in the United States. Koch companies include the Koch Pipeline Company, and Flint Hills Resources, which operates refineries with a combined crude oil processing capacity of more than 292 million barrels per year. That much oil accounts for 126 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year—as much as 35 coal-fired power plants produce or 26 million cars. So to put it mildly, this fellow has got some skin in the game.
Between 2006 and 2010, the Charles G. Koch Foundation gave almost $8 million to think tanks and institutes, including $7.6 million to the Mercatus Center, and $100,000 to the American Enterprise Institute.
Charles Koch, along with his brother David, also established the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation – those two have the same source – and they direct that foundation’s giving as well. This foundation provided almost $5 million to climate denying think tanks and institutes, including over $1 million to the Cato Institute, and more than $2 million to the Heritage Foundation.
The Earhart Foundation was started by Henry Boyd Earhart using funds from his oil business, White Star Refining Company—now a part of, you guessed it, ExxonMobil. The Earhart Foundation has donated almost $1.5 million to climate denier groups: $370,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, $330,000 to the Cato Institute, and another $195,000 for the George C. Marshall Institute.
That leaves us, of course, ExxonMobil itself, , is the second largest corporation in the world, and among the most profitable. Ranked number one among Fortune 500 companies, its total revenues reached nearly half a trillion dollars in 2012, and their profits were nearly $45 billion. ExxonMobil produces over 6 million barrels of oil per day at its 36 refineries in 20 countries, so it’s the world’s largest oil producer. From 2006 to 2010, the petroleum giant gave institutes more than $2.3 million: $1.2 million for the American Enterprise Institute, $220,000 for the Heritage Foundation, $160,000 for the Institute for Energy Research, and $115,000 for the Heartland Institute.
So what did the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and ExxonMobil get for all of that so-called charitable giving? Well, the Checks and Balances Project found that from 2007 to 2011, these ten organizations that I cited, the top 10, were quoted, cited, or had articles published over 1000 times, over 1000 times in 60 mainstream newspapers and print publications, and invariably they were promoting fossil fuels, undermining renewable energy, or attacking environmental policies.
That’s good investing. Spend millions of dollars on a handful of think tanks to protect billions of dollars in profits; really a thousand-to-one return. But here’s the problem: the public is unaware of the connection, usually. Only a handful of these attacks were accompanied by any explanation by the media that the fossil-fuel industry was involved in them.
Here’s one prime example. Last summer, when the Navy displayed its Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group that runs on a 50-50 blend of biodiesel and petroleum, Institute for Energy Research president Thomas Pyle wrote a column for U.S. News and World Report, calling that initiative “ridiculous,” and “a costly and pointless exercise.”
Never mind that our defense and intelligence communities have repeatedly warned of the threats posed by climate change to national security and international stability, and of their own need to secure a reliable and secure fuel supply. What’s misleading here is that U.S. News and World Report in publishing that article attributed the column simply thus: “Thomas Pyle is the president of the Institute for Energy Research,” with no mention that the Institute for Energy Research is a front for big donors like the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation and ExxonMobil.
This is one example of this misleading practice in the media.
[Show Media Description Chart]
More than half of the time, media outlets do nothing more than state the name of the publishing organization, like Thomas Pyle and the Institute for Energy Research, or they may add a functional description, like “think-tank” or “non-partisan group.”
The instances when the publication described the basic ideology of the group, for example as a “free-market” or “conservative” think tank, amount to less than a third.
In all of the media outlets reviewed between 2007 and 2011, the financial ties between the authors and the fossil-fuel industry were mentioned a mere 6 percent of the time. 94% of the time, the fossil fuel industry funders got away with it. This chart shows some examples:
[Show Anonymity Chart]
- The Washington Post ignored the financial connection 88 percent of the time;
- POLITICO – ignored the financial connection 95 percent of the time;
- Christian Science Monitor – ignored it every time;
- USA Today – ignored it 98 percent of the time;
- The New York Times – ignored it 90 percent.
So the scam of laundering money through independent-sounding organizations works. The media lets it work. The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring, but a recent Gallup poll revealed that only 62 percent of Americans believe the vast majority of scientists agree global warming is occurring.
Well over 90 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and that humans are the main cause. The only uncertainty is about how bad it is going to be. And the leading research predicts warmer air and seas, rising sea levels, stronger storms, and more acidic oceans.
Most major players in the private sector actually get it. While the big fossil fuel polluters try to confuse the public to boost their bottom line and prolong their pollution, hundreds of leading corporations understand that climate change ultimately undermines our entire economy. Let me think of, let me mention some of the examples: Ford; Coca-Cola; GE; Walmart; the insurance giant Munich Re; Alcoa, the great aluminum maker; Maersk; Proctor and Gamble; Fedex; and the so-called BICEP Group which includes EBay, Intel, Starbucks, Adidas, and Nike. So this notion that this is a hoax, that there is doubt, is belied by some of the most respected names in the private sector. And those companies join the National Academies, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Government Accountability Office, the American Public Health Association, and yes, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as the majority of Americans, in understanding that it is time to wake up, to end the faux controversy that has been cooked up by the fossil fuel industry, and to do the work here in Congress that needs to be done to protect Americans from the harms of carbon pollution.
I thank the presiding officer and I yield the floor.