Friday, August 6, 2010

The politics of climate change

At 61, I pretty much figured I might die of old age before the really serious consequences of climate change kicked in.  Since I have been essentially convinced by the science of climate change since James Hansen explained it in 1989, I must have thought I was going to die young.

Living in Minnesota, the reality of climate change is obvious.  And in many ways, it has been pretty benign--reducing the length of our nasty winters by about five weeks in the last 30 years.  And while Russia burns, we are having the best growing season in our history this year.  But the storms have become frightening and we are seeing the beginnings of persistent droughts.
We’re Hot as Hell and We’re Not Going to Take It Any More 
Three Steps to Establish a Politics of Global Warming 
By Bill McKibben
Try to fit these facts together:
* According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months, the warmest six months, and the warmest April, May, and June on record.
* A “staggering” new study from Canadian researchers has shown that warmer seawater has reduced phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain, by 40% since 1950.
* Nine nations have so far set their all-time temperature records in 2010, including Russia (111 degrees), Niger (118), Sudan (121), Saudi Arabia and Iraq (126 apiece), and Pakistan, which also set the new all-time Asia record in May: a hair under 130 degrees. I can turn my oven to 130 degrees.
* And then, in late July, the U.S. Senate decided to do exactly nothing about climate change. They didn’t do less than they could have -- they did nothing, preserving a perfect two-decade bipartisan record of no action. Senate majority leader Harry Reid decided not even to schedule a vote on legislation that would have capped carbon emissions.
I wrote the first book for a general audience on global warming back in 1989, and I’ve spent the subsequent 21 years working on the issue. I’m a mild-mannered guy, a Methodist Sunday School teacher. Not quick to anger. So what I want to say is: this is fucked up. The time has come to get mad, and then to get busy. more

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