Sunday, February 28, 2010

If Al Gore Campaigns Against John Barrow Will It Help Our Society To Deal With Climate Change?


My doctor's always trying to persuade me to use these radical-- and often deadly-- treatments that Western medicine pushes on unsuspecting patients that fall into their clutches. He always tells me how young I am and how I can live to be 100. I'll pass. I was just reading Thom Hartmann's book this morning, Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture. So far hasn't has gotten into the relative attributes of Mozart and Lady Gaga. But I did read about what the world would be like if my doctor was right and I lived to be 100. Boris Worm is a scientist at Dalhousie University in Canada. In 2006, the NY Times reported on findings he and colleagues from all over the world made pointing to the unraveling of marine ecosystems and a global collapse of all species currently fished.
In an interview, Dr. Worm said, “We looked at absolutely everything-- all the fish, shellfish, invertebrates, everything that people consume that comes from the ocean, all of it, globally.”

The researchers found that 29 percent of species had been fished so heavily or were so affected by pollution or habitat loss that they were down to 10 percent of previous levels, their definition of “collapse.”

This loss of biodiversity seems to leave marine ecosystems as a whole more vulnerable to overfishing and less able to recover from its effects, Dr. Worm said. It results in an acceleration of environmental decay, and further loss of fish.

Dr. Worm said he analyzed the data for the first time on his laptop while he was overseeing a roomful of students taking an exam. What he saw, he said, was “just a smooth line going down.” And when he extrapolated the data into the future “to see where it ends at 100 percent collapse, you arrive at 2048.”

“The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I said, ‘This cannot be true,’ ” he recalled. He said he ran the data through his computer again, then did the calculations by hand. The results were the same.

“I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t know what the future will bring, but this is a clear trend,” he said. “There is an end in sight, and it is within our lifetimes.”

You might not care about the invertebrates-- or even the traif or the sharks-- but Hartmann is quite persuasive in explaining how whole ecological systems work and how you can't pull out pieces here and there and expect the whole thing to continue functioning. No more salmon, tuna, seabass, cod, monkfish, talapia, mahi mahi, anchovies, herring, trout, sole, flounder, snapper... Hartmann:
With a human population pushing seven billion and the number of humans who eat a meat/fish-rich diet (versus mostly a plant-rich diet) moving from under a billion to more than three billion (each consuming between ten and thirty times the basic protein necessary to feed the livestock, and each producing between ten and thirty times the waste upstream as the result of factory and fish farming), the capacity of the planet to carry this huge burden of human flesh is rapidly becoming exhausted.

As with wild fish, wild areas are vanishing, along with their incredibly species-rich habitats, leading to the loss of more than a hundred species a day worldwide. Rain forests-- the richest source of biodiversity on land, the source of 20 percent of the planet's oxygen, and a major regulator of the world's weather-- once covered 14 percent of the planet's land surface; they now cover a mere 6 percent and, without major interventions, may be entirely gone (or thinned to the point of practical uselessness) within thirty to forty years.

They already make that imitation crabmeat out of pollock, sugar, sorbitol, wheat or tapioca starch, egg whites, and vegetable or soybean oil (as well as the carmine, caramel, paprika, and annatto extract to give it a realistic reddish color) but with the pollock scheduled to be out of stock by 2048 too, they'll have to revise the recipe. More tapioca starch? And even if they come up with some kind of fish substitutes we can consume as pills or liquids... well, it just won't be the same and, what are they going to do about the damn oxygen?

Yesterday Al Gore came up with a radical approach in a NY Times OpEd: defeat all the politicians who are burying their heads-- and our future viability-- in the sand. Sounds rationale.
It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it.

Of course, we would still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil. And we would still trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy-- the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century.

But what a burden would be lifted! We would no longer have to worry that our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands. We could instead celebrate the naysayers who had doggedly persisted in proving that every major National Academy of Sciences report on climate change had simply made a huge mistake.

...[E]ven though climate deniers have speciously argued for several years that there has been no warming in the last decade, scientists confirmed last month that the last 10 years were the hottest decade since modern records have been kept.

The heavy snowfalls this month have been used as fodder for ridicule by those who argue that global warming is a myth, yet scientists have long pointed out that warmer global temperatures have been increasing the rate of evaporation from the oceans, putting significantly more moisture into the atmosphere — thus causing heavier downfalls of both rain and snow in particular regions, including the Northeastern United States. Just as it’s important not to miss the forest for the trees, neither should we miss the climate for the snowstorm.

Here is what scientists have found is happening to our climate: man-made global-warming pollution traps heat from the sun and increases atmospheric temperatures. These pollutants-- especially carbon dioxide-- have been increasing rapidly with the growth in the burning of coal, oil, natural gas and forests, and temperatures have increased over the same period. Almost all of the ice-covered regions of the Earth are melting-- and seas are rising. Hurricanes are predicted to grow stronger and more destructive, though their number is expected to decrease. Droughts are getting longer and deeper in many mid-continent regions, even as the severity of flooding increases. The seasonal predictability of rainfall and temperatures is being disrupted, posing serious threats to agriculture. The rate of species extinction is accelerating to dangerous levels.

Though there have been impressive efforts by many business leaders, hundreds of millions of individuals and families throughout the world and many national, regional and local governments, our civilization is still failing miserably to slow the rate at which these emissions are increasing-- much less reduce them... The political paralysis that is now so painfully evident in Washington has thus far prevented action by the Senate — not only on climate and energy legislation, but also on health care reform, financial regulatory reform and a host of other pressing issues.

This comes with painful costs. China, now the world’s largest and fastest-growing source of global-warming pollution, had privately signaled early last year that if the United States passed meaningful legislation, it would join in serious efforts to produce an effective treaty. When the Senate failed to follow the lead of the House of Representatives, forcing the president to go to Copenhagen without a new law in hand, the Chinese balked. With the two largest polluters refusing to act, the world community was paralyzed.

...From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption. After all has been said and so little done, the truth about the climate crisis — inconvenient as ever — must still be faced.
The pathway to success is still open, though it tracks the outer boundary of what we are capable of doing. It begins with a choice by the United States to pass a law establishing a cost for global warming pollution. The House of Representatives has already passed legislation, with some Republican support, to take the first halting steps for pricing greenhouse gas emissions.

Later this week, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman are expected to present for consideration similar cap-and-trade legislation.

I hope that it will place a true cap on carbon emissions and stimulate the rapid development of low-carbon sources of energy.

We have overcome existential threats before. Winston Churchill is widely quoted as having said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes, you must do what is required.” Now is that time. Public officials must rise to this challenge by doing what is required; and the public must demand that they do so-- or must replace them.

Great OpEd. But has Gore or anyone else convinced voters in Oklahoma who are set to re-elect climate change denier Tom Coburn? Has Gore or anyone else convinced voters in North Carolina who may be set to re-elect climate change denier Richard Burr? Has Gore or anyone else convinced voters in Louisiana who are set to either re-elect climate change denier David Vitter or replace him with climate change denier Charlie Melancon? Yes, Melancon, a putative Democrat-- same party as Gore-- and he's part of the problem, not part of the solution. Only eight-- yes, 8-- House Republicans voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act on June 26, 2009: Mary Bono Mack (CA) who was unwilling or unable to even persuade her husband, Connie, that this was important and nonpartisan, Mike Castle (DE), Mark Kirk (IL), Leonard Lance (NJ), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), John McHugh (NY), Dave Reichert (WA) and Chris Smith (NJ). It passed, barely, 219-212, with 44 Democrats, mostly Blue Dogs, joining the pave-over-the-planet crowd led by John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Will Al Gore help Blue America defeat John Barrow and replace him with an environmental leader (Regina Thomas)? The Indiana Democratic Party machine is about to saddle us with anti-environmental fanatic Brad Ellsworth, guaranteeing that Indiana voters concerned about these same issues Gore claims are so essential for the very survival of humanity, will have no choice whatsoever on election day, since the two Republicans running, a sleazy lobbyist in the pocket of every special interest under the sun (Dan Coats) and a certifiably insane apocalypticist whose only policy agenda-- aside from bothering gay people-- is to bring on the Rapture (John Hostettler), are actually worse than Ellsworth (who is already an "F" on these issues!

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At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Mark E. Gillar said...

Gore and The UN IPCC should be forced to give back their Nobel Peace Prize. The flaws in Gore's film and the errors in the 2007 UN IPCC Report that have been discovered since the award was given should disqualify both parties. Irena Sendler who risked her life daily during World War II to save the lives of over 2,500 Jewish children is much more deserving. Please sign the petition to demand that Gore and the UN IPCC have their award taken away.


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