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Weekend Reader: Overheated: The Human Cost Of Climate Change

February 16, 2013 12:25 am Category: Memo Pad 24 Comments A+ / A-
Weekend Reader: <em>Overheated: The Human Cost Of Climate Change</em>

The following is excerpted from Andrew T. Guzman’s new book, Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change. You can purchase it here.

“KerPlunk! And Planet Earth”

This book’s lesson is easy to state and is worth making explicit up front. As we make decisions about how to respond to climate change, we must not lose sight of the very real possibility that it will have a cataclysmic impact on the way we live. I do not mean that there will be serious economic effects or that there will be modest numbers of additional deaths—these impacts are already happening. I mean that we should be worried that climate change may kill tens of millions or hundreds of millions and severely disrupt the lives of perhaps billions.

This all sounds alarmist, and I suppose it is. But that is because we should be alarmed. Nobody knows with certainty (or with great confidence, for that matter) exactly what the impact of climate change will be, and I am no exception. We do know some things, however, and they are not comforting. We know that the expected changes in our climate are significant, and the projections seem to grow more dire with each passing year. We know that the oceans are rising and will continue to do so for at least the next century, causing deadly flooding in many parts of the world. We know that agriculture will be disrupted as temperature and precipitation patterns change and as mountain glaciers melt. We know that the stresses generated by climate change will increase tensions in many parts of the world and are likely to trigger violent conflict. We know that rising temperatures will increase the incidence of disease and illness around the world. We know that even if the changes turn out to be on the mild end of existing projections, there will be great suffering—and that is if we are lucky. If fate is unkind and climate change is on the severe end of our best predictions, then we are all in deep, deep trouble.

Whether or not we are lucky, the consequences of climate change will be felt by billions of people around the world. This is obvious, but it is also often ignored in our public debates. We talk about environmental changes, scientific evidence, ice sheets, ocean levels, and droughts, but we do not always get around to talking about people. In writing this book, I have tried hard not to fall into this familiar trap. I have written it with the human impact of climate change in mind. The book is about how people will be affected by climate change, rather than how science and climate interact.

A focus on the human cost of climate change is critical, because that is what will persuade people to act. Scientific debates are important, but acknowledging the science is not, by itself, enough to get our political systems to react. Discussing possible policy  responses to climate is important, but these responses will happen only if people are persuaded that something must be done. I am convinced that the most important barrier to a sensible and determined response to climate change is a lack of public understanding about the ways in which our lives and the lives of our children will be affected. Hearing that global average temperatures will increase by a couple of degrees is not enough for most people to support aggressive government action in response. Recognizing that this change in climate will lead to tens of millions or hundreds of millions of deaths and that it will harm billions of people, on the other hand, may motivate people to demand action from their political leaders.

There is no way to avoid  a discussion about science entirely, but I have tried to keep that material to a minimum. I ask that you bear with me for a few pages in this introduction as I address the predictions of scientists just enough to get the ball rolling. Chapter 2 then explains the basic science of climate change, because some understanding of the science is necessary to appreciate the con- sequences for humans. The remainder of the book, however, is focused on how human beings, our communities, and our social structures face a threat unlike any we have ever seen before.

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Weekend Reader: Overheated: The Human Cost Of Climate Change Reviewed by on . The following is excerpted from Andrew T. Guzman's new book, Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change. You can purchase it here. "KerPlunk! And Planet Earth The following is excerpted from Andrew T. Guzman's new book, Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change. You can purchase it here. "KerPlunk! And Planet Earth Rating:

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  • ObozoMustGo

    For all of you Chicken Littles out there who think the sky is falling, let’s take a brief look at a history of leftist freak predictions of doom and gloom. It’s a pathetic record. Hat tip David Mustard, professor of economics at Univ. of GA.

    Economics 2200
    Economic Development of the US
    David B. Mustard
    Exhaustion of Resources
    “Indeed it is certain, it is clear to see, that the earth itself is currently more cultivated and developed than in earlier times. Now all places are accessible, all are documented, all are full of business. The most charming farms obliterate empty places, ploughed fields vanquish forests, herds drive out wild beasts, sandy places are planted with crops, stones are fixed, swamps drained, and there are such great cities where formerly hardly a hut… everywhere there is a dwelling, everywhere a multitude, everywhere a government, everywhere there is life. The greatest evidence of the large number of people: we are burdensome to the world, the resources are scarcely adequate to us; and our needs straiten us and complaints are everywhere while already nature does not sustain us.”

    In 1865, Stanley Jevons (one of the most recognized 19th century economists) predicted that England would run out of coal by 1900, and that England’s factories would grind to a standstill.
    In 1885, the US Geological Survey announced that there was “little or no chance” of oil being discovered in California.
    In 1891, it said the same thing about Kansas and Texas. (See Osterfeld, David. Prosperity Versus Planning : How Government Stifles Economic Growth. New York : Oxford University Press, 1992.)
    In 1939 the US Department of the Interior said that American oil supplies would last only another 13 years.
    1944 federal government review predicted that by now the US would have exhausted its reserves of 21 of 41 commodities it examined. Among them were tin, nickel, zinc, lead and manganese.
    In 1949 the Secretary of the Interior announced that the end of US oil was in sight.
    Claim: In 1952 the US President’s Materials Policy Commission concluded that by the mid-1970s copper production in the US could not exceed 800,000 tons and that lead production would be at most 300,000 tons per year.
    Data: But copper production in 1973 was 1.6 million tons, and by 1974 lead production had reached 614,000 tons – 100% higher than predicted.
    Claims: In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb and declared that the battle to feed humanity had been lost and that there would be a major food shortage in the US. “In the 1970s … hundreds of millions are going to starve to death,” and by the 1980s most of the world’s important resources would be depleted. He forecast that 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980-1989 and that by 1999, the US population would decline to 22.6 million. The problems in the US would be relatively minor compared to those in the rest of the world. (Ehrlich, Paul R. The Population Bomb. New York, Ballantine Books, 1968.) New Scientist magazine underscored his speech in an editorial titled “In Praise of Prophets.”
    Claim: “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” Paul Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971.

    Claim: Ehrlich wrote in 1968, “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971, if ever.”
    Data: Yet in a only few years India was exporting food and significantly changed its food production capacity. Ehrlich must have noted this because in the 1971 version of his book this commented is delted (Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource, Princeton: Princeton Univesity Press, 1981, p. 64).
    The Limits to Growth (1972) – projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and natural gas by 1993. It also stated that the world had only 33-49 years of aluminum resources left, which means we should run out sometime between 2005-2021. (See Donella Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: New American Library, 1972.
    Claim: In 1974, the US Geological Survey announced “at 1974 technology and 1974 price” the US had only a 10-year supply of natural gas.
    Data: The American Gas Association said that gas supplies were sufficient for the next 1,000-2,500 years. (Julian Simon, Population Matters. New Jersey: Transaction Publications, 1990): p. 90.

    Population and Poverty
    In the mid 1970s the US government sponsored a travelling exhibit for schoolchildren titled, “Population: The Problem is Us.” (Jacqueline Kasun, The War Against Population, San Francisco: CA, Ignatius, 1988, p. 21.)
    In 1973, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s vote in Roe v. Wade was influenced by this idea, according to Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong: “As Stewart saw it, abortion was becoming one reasonable solution to population control” (quoted in Newsweek of September 14, 1987, p. 33.).
    In 1989, when the US Supreme Court was hearing the Webster case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor brought the idea of overpopulation into a hypothetical question she asked of Charles Fried, former solicitor-general, “Do you think that the state has the right to, if in a future century we had a serious overpopulation problem, has a right to require women to have abortions after so many children?”
    World Bank president Barber Conable calls for population control because “poverty and rapid population growth reinforce each other” (Washington Post, July 16, 1990, p. A13)
    Prince Philip advises us that “It must be obvious by now that further population growth in any country is undesirable” (Washington Post, May 8, 1990, p. A26)
    37 Senators wrote President Bush in support of funding for population control (Washington Post, April 1, 1990, p. H1)
    The Trilateral Commission and the American Assembly call for reduction in population growth (U. S. News and World Report, May 7, 1990)
    Newsweek’s year-ending cover story concluded that “Foremost of the new realities is the world’s population problem” (December 25, 1990, p.44)
    The president of NOW warns that continued population growth would be a “catastrophe” (Nat Hentoff in the Washington Post, July 29, 1989, p. A17)
    Ted Turner (Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wed. Dec. 2, 1998) in an address to the Society of Environmental Journalists in Chattanooga – blamed Christianity for overpopulation and environmental degradation, and argued that the people who disagree with him are “dummies.” He stated in part, “The Judeo-Christian religion says man was given dominion over everything, and his salvation was that he was to go out and increase and multiply. Well, we have done that … to the point where in Calcutta, it’s a hellhole. So it’s not an environmentally friendly religion.”
    Ellen Goodman laments “People Pollution” (Washington Post, March 3, 1990, p. A25)
    Herblock cartoon shows that the U. S. neglecting the “world population explosion” (Washington Post, July 19, 1990, p. A22)
    Hobart Rowen likens population growth to “the pond weed [which] grows in huge leaps” (Washington Post, April 1, 1990, p. H8).
    A Newsweek “My Turn” suggests giving every teen-age girl a check for up to $1200 each year that she does not have a baby “in order to stop the relentless increase of humanity” (Noel Perrin. “A Nonbearing Account”, April 2, 1990, p. 9).
    Climate Change
    Claim Jan. 1970: “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” Life Magazine, January 1970. Life Magazine also noted that some people disagree, “but scientists have solid experimental and historical evidence to support each of the predictions.”
    Data: Air quality has actually improved since 1970. Studies find that sunlight reaching the Earth fell by somewhere between 3 and 5 percent over the period in question.
    Claim April 1970: “If present trends continue, the world will be … eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” Kenneth E.F. Watt, in Earth Day, 1970.
    Data: According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1970.
    Claim 1970: “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.” Paul Ehrlich, speech during Earth Day, 1970.
    Claim 1972: “Artic specialist Bernt Balchen says a general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.” Christian Science Monitor, June 8, 1972.
    Data: Ice coverage has fallen, though as of last month, the Arctic Ocean had 3.82 million square miles of ice cover — an area larger than the continental United States — according to The National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    Claims 1974: “… when metereologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age. Telltale signs are everywhere–from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice int eh waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data fro the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadia Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.”
    Later in the article, “Whatever the cause of the cooling trend, its effects could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic. Scientists figure that only a 1% decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth’s surface could tip teh climatic balance, and cool the planet enough to send it sliding down the road to another ice age within only a few hundred years.”
    Source: “Another Ice Age,” Time Magazine, June 24, 1974.

    Claim 1989: “Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010.” Associated Press, May 15, 1989.
    Data: According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1989. And U.S. temperature has increased even less over the same period.

    Claims: “Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.”
    “Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and … are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture, as warmer winters–which scientists are attributing to global climate change–produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.”
    “London’s last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.” “Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community.”
    According to Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years “children just aren’t going to know what snow is” and winter snowfall will be “a very rare and exciting event.” Interviewed by the UK Independent, March 20, 2000.
    “David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow.”
    See “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.” The Independent. March 20, 2000.
    Data: “Coldest December Since records began as temperatures plummet to minus 10 C bringing travel chaos across Britain.” Mailonline. Dec. 18, 2010.

    Claim: “[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots … [By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” Michel Oppenheimer and Robert H. Boyle, Dead Heat, St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. He is the Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Wilson School. He was formerly a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, the largest non-governmental organization in the U.S. that examines problems and solutions to greenhouse gases.
    Data: When asked about these old predictions Oppenheimer stated, “On the whole I would stand by these predictions — not predictions, sorry, scenarios — as having at least in a general way actually come true,” he said. “There’s been extensive drought, devastating drought, in significant parts of the world. The fraction of the world that’s in drought has increased over that period.”
    However, that claim is not obviously true. Data from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center show that precipitation — rain and snow — has increased slightly over the century.

    How could scientists have made such off-base claims? Dr. Paul Ehrlich, author of “The Population Bomb” and president of Stanford University’s Center for Conservation Biology, told FoxNews(dot)com that ideas about climate science changed a great deal in the the ’70s and ’80s.
    Ehrlich told FoxNews(dot)com that the consequences of future warming could be dire.

    Here is a link to the original that has links to the backup and sources of information:
    terry(dot)uga(dot)edu/~mustard/courses/e2200/pop(dot)htm
    ———————————————————–

    Don’t worry all you Chicken Little leftist freaks, the sky is NOT falling.

    Have a nice day!

    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency…Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.” – Czech Republic newspaper Prager Zeitung

    • teddah

      How can you breathe when your head is in such a dark and smelly place?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Myers/100001512942781 Jim Myers

        Replying to teddah -

        Don’t fret about Bozo. After all, he is his own worst enemy – a TURD PARTY REPUBLICAN.

        • lana ward

          Stop global whining, you dumbasscrat

          • mrbeenie

            Wow Lana! You just near blew them away with your perfect, flawlessly logical argument! That must be why all of the smart people are Republicans. Right?

          • lana ward

            Some Omuslim voters thought Sarah Palin was his running mate, some thought Romney is black– how smart is that!!!LOL

          • mrbeenie

            ???

      • midway54

        He and his fellow crackpot dupes all are in this universal posture contemplating why it is that all the rest of us must admire and cheer for plutocrats.

    • dtgraham

      I’ll E-mail Glenn Beck and give him the good news Obozo. He’s selling survival seeds and dried foods for that Kenyan Muslim Socialist’s post apocalyptic, Mad Max, America that’s sure to come.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1362702462 Madelaine Ayers Henne

      Tell that to Glen Beck! Obviously he is also a chicken little!!! You are so simple minded Obozo!!

    • latebloomingrandma

      Great copy and paste job. I like to keep things simpler. If we continue to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer, the atmosphere automatically follows the laws of physics.
      The “I just don’t belive anything at all is wrong” explanation is not unlike an alcoholic who is creating havoc to himself and family, but denies that he (or she) has a problem.
      To find the answer to why anything is done or not done—-follow the money.

      • ObozoMustGo

        late… it is a history of leftist predictions of doom and gloom, and the reality of what actually came to be. Studying historical predictions against actual facts IS a very good thing to do. Since Prof. Mustard did it, why should I reinvent the wheel? And the leftist freak predictions of doom and gloom and man-made global warming are no different than any other prediction of the past. And no one is treating the atmosphere like an open sewer. Get over it. Go find another boogie man to awaken. The global warming thing is drifting away as more and more of us wake up to the truth.

        Have a nice day!

        “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.” — Mark Twain

    • RobertCHastings

      I see you have found another source like Stephen Gutowski, who will tell you what you want to hear. David Mustard is an ECONOMIST, and not a very good one, at that. He has no expertise in the area of climate change, nor does he, apparently, have any understanding of its economic consequences, which is sort of strange considering he is an economist.

      • ObozoMustGo

        classic leftist freak strategy, Robbie. When you cannot criticize the content, criticize the source. Mustard did an honest review of the history of leftist doom and gloom predictions. Use the link I posted. They are all footnoted with FACTS. Reality is that none of the doom and gloom leftist freak predictions ever come true. Man-made global warming will be no different. More and more are waking up to the fact that it’s a hoax.

        Have a nice day!

        “In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.” — Voltaire (1764)

        • RobertCHastings

          Never, in the history of THIS country has there been such a spate of violent weather in our Northeast, beginning with hurricane Irene last year, hurricane Sandy this year, and a revolving door of winter storms that are leaving, weekly, record amounts of snow and flooding in the area. Sure,the area has been hit over the years by significant storms, but NEVER with the frequency and ferocity of the past two years. What do Barber and Gutowski have to say about that or, like most neocons, does it just not fit their view of the world and they simply choose to ignore it? If you live in an area of this country that has not seen unusualweather patterns in the past five years, you simply are not on the planet. The same is occuring all over the planet. Just put your globe out there (oh, I’m sorry, have you not heard the world is round?), throw a dart at it, and wherever it lands check the climate charts. Things have happened around the world, if you just had the courage to open your eyes and see them. We have all heard of and seen dust storms in the Southwest, but not as frequently nor as violent as over the past five years. We have all watched the coverage of tornadoes, from Oklahoma to the Northeast over the past five years, or haven’t you? No, I guess you just see stuff flying through the air and assume something just blew up.
          Do you have any idea what Voltaire was saying? Check it out and see which he was, a revolutionary or a loyalist. Did he support the crown, or was he for the commoner? Then apply that to what he said, and come up with your own assumptions.

          • ObozoMustGo

            Robbie… use the link I provided and then click on the back up info to each and every prediction that never came true. This includes NASA data that shows the earth has NOT been warming since 1998. It just hasn’t. And for you to think that the weather patterns on the planet were always static and predictable in the past until we started driving SUVs is nothing short of breathtakingly stupid and ignorant. Weather patterns have never been static and are constantly changing. It’s just the way it is. The only difference is that you leftist freaks have another boogieman in mind that makes you conform what you see to fit into your fantasy. That’s all it is, Chicken Little. The sky is not falling. Sorry!

            Whether or not Voltare supported the commoner or the crown is of no consequence to the accuracy of his observation.

            Have a nice day!

            “It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville

          • RobertCHastings

            Voltaire’s point of view, apropos the side of the arguement he supported, has EVERYTHING to do with what he actually meant and what you interpret his intent to be. de Tocqueville was absolutely right, and the focus of HIS statement was that a democracy will only be as wise as those who make the choices, not just those who govern but also those who CHOOSE who governs. Glad to see you are using your book of quotations, too bad you don’t have enough sense to understand what they mean, as both are quite appropriate to the discussion. As for your total lack of understanding of the term “climate”, look it up and you will see that, yes, annual patterns will change, and, yes, there are patterns, but “climate” refers to long-term, not just a year or two.

    • jnap

      So some people are wrong most of the time, just like you. We discount these people just like we discount you.

  • teddah

    How can you breathe when your head is in such a dark and smelly place?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC4BGWVYXV76PHZBPSPOOU5GA Independent1

    By resisting the science of climate change, the GOP is only proving two things: 1) that Money is the single most important factor in making any decision and 2) that the GOP’s promises are hollow. There is only one drawback to believing that global warming is real, it will require the investment of Money to mitigate global warming’s potential damages to the planet and everyone’s lives. What the GOP is missing, is that there is a significant upside to believing that global warming is real (whether or not it really is), the vast potential for entrepreneurs to find new sources of energy and to find new ways to mitigate the damages that global warming will inevitably create on the world’s shorelines and many other facets of our environment and lives, that is, the creation of many new businesses and sources of incomes for millions of Americans.

    By making MONEY the single most important factor in deciding whether or not global warming is real, while at the same time denying entrepreneurs the ability to pursue new technologies, the GOP is proving just how hollow their claims are about being truely supportive of business. The GOP is really only supportive of historical business; the many large already established multinational corporations who can pay big bucks to get subsidies and preferencial treatment whenever legislation is crafted. Apparently to the GOP, small businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking to develop new enterprises, can flounder by the wayside.

    The GOP is handling global warming the same way that George Bush and Dick Cheney handled the 7 warnings they received from the CIA back in 2001 about al Qaeda planning an imminent attack on the homeland. George and Dick apparently couldn’t see that there was any money in it for them to try and prevent what they may well have assumed would be some small terrorist effort to inflict some damage on America. And just like with George and Dick, the GOP today is drastically underesttimating in their own minds the eventual devistation that may befall America and the world if nothing is done about global warming (whether it’s man created or not).

    So whether or not humans actually have as much influence on the increasing temperatures that the world has seen over the past decade, really is of little significance with respect to whether or not mankind should strive to do something about keeping temperatures from rising too high. What is significant is that there is only one downside to insisting on not doing anything – the love of MONEY; while there are huge upsides to doing something to mitigate the rise in temperatures: the money that many entrepreneurs may well be able to make by finding new energy sources, new ways to combat the rising oceans, and on and on. While creating a much better country and planet for us and future generations to inhabit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/commserver Jim Lou

    The problem is the deniers say that there is no proof of climate change. The earth is just experiencing a periodic change.

  • RobertCHastings

    My former mother-in-law experienced one of the worst storms in history to strike the north-east coast, in 1933 (I think). Since that time, the northeast has seen others, occasionally, like the one upon which the movie “The Perfect Storm” is based. And They occasionally have been hit by some serious winter storms. Never, in this country’s recorded history(a qualifier) has the north-east been hit in successive years by two serious hurricanes (Irene and Sandy) and a winter as severe as the one they are now experiencing to boot. Over this past summer and fall, in this country we have seen records numbers of extreme high and low temperatures, a severe drought that is already affecting the cost of our groceries and impacting the availability of food around the world, one of the worst forest-fire seasons on record, flooding in areas that normally don’t see it, tornadoes in places they don’t normally appear in numbers we haven’t normally seen, except in the past two years, etc. Deviations in climatic patterns have been intense, and, of course, the deniers continue to – deny. There IS, believe it or not, a quantifiable limit to the fossil fuels we have addicted ourselves to, and, while we still have many years before those reserves are exhausted, the exhaustion of those resources is not the issue. The issue is, basically, what the use of these fuels is doing to the atmosphere. Those who wish to believe there is, essentially, no effect, definitely have a right to their beliefs. But, let me ask this. If the coal industry has found all the reserves in this country (which they have), have laid claim to it and made plans for its exploitation (which they have) at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, why would they pursue a course that will deprive them of the potential income? Can’t come up with an answer that makes sense, can you? Why would ANYONE throw away the potential of trillions in profit, especially if they can market their product by claiming that they have “clean coal technology” and that they are creating thousands of jobs and generating billions in tax revenue? Beats me! Why would a hamburger company admit that its burgers are laced with something that isn’t even hamburger? I just can’t figure that one out.

    • sigrid28

      I find your example, the coal industry, refreshing and helpful, more helpful than the generalizations in Obozo’s cut-and-paste job meant to obfuscate the issue of climate change (on behalf of wealthy individuals everywhere) or the equally obtuse, though possibly scarier, generalizations in the selection from Guzman’s book (which probably offers insightful examples like your own in later chapters).

      The Climate Change Deniers will never see the need to change the status quo. Even if they were to read Guzman’s book, I don’t think they would believe that the human consequences Guzman points to have anything to do with them. They can no longer be counted on to contribute usefully to solving this problem, unless they do so unwittingly.

      My sense of it is that those who accept the premise that climate change is occurring are already past scare tactics like those Guzman resorts to in his book. For the Climate Change Believers, outlining the dire consequences may not offer any greater motivation than would a consensus about what they can do, themselves, to change the world. They want to think globally and act locally in attacking climate change, as they know that their lives are the only ones they can sufficiently control.

      The problem of immanent climate change does bring into focus another effect of legislative gridlock in Washington, D.C.: many of us no longer have the conviction that the U.S. government will be able to offer any effective solution to this problem. We used to think the government COULD act in such matters; in fact, we used to think that only governments had the global outreach to attack situations rife with such complexity. Republicans have shown us that as long as this party exists, there can be no effective governmental action applied to saving our planet. It is up to you and me. As Voltaire said, when faced with a world spinning out of the control of kings and armies, “We must cultivate our gardens.”

      • RobertCHastings

        Interestingly apropos to your comments, the billions the coal industry has spent on their “clean coal technology” were mandated by the government, in order to clean up the pollutionaround coal-fired power plants. The “scrubbers” do have some minor effect, as the steam coming from these giants of technology “appears” to be clean. And here is another issue regarding sequestration, that is the sequestration of the residue from such scrubbing activities. Where does all this carbon go?
        I doubt that “Obozo” has ever heard of the “butterfly effect”, and I am not referring to the movie with Ashton Kuchar (if that is the correct spelling). Our current temps where we live may not appear to be abnormal, but that butterfly who is flapping his wings somewhere around the world is having an effect, if not now, then some time in the future. The area where I live, the mid-Atlantic coastal region, is brushed by the Gulf Stream current, which brings warm water up from the Gulf, brushing the entire Atlantic seaboard, crossing the North Atlantic to Great Britain. A small change in the average water temperature of this current WILL and DOES affect weather in this area – witness the recent fierce weather activity in our Northeast (including hurricanes Irene and Sandy). For those who will not look, there is nothing to be seen; for those who will see, there is much to be done.

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