Letterman rages on global warming: “We are so screwed!”

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"Letterman rages on global warming: “We are so screwed!”"

I am (slightly) less pessimistic than David Letterman. If, however, it is indeed “too late” as he says, then he has certainly nailed the reason: “We have had no leadership.”

But I’m going to view the glass as one-tenth full and take it as a hopeful sign that somebody relatively mainstream like Letterman would break out of his normally uber-ironic mindset to tell it like it is on global warming.

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17 Responses to Letterman rages on global warming: “We are so screwed!”

  1. paulm says:

    Letterman for President!

    I think the line “We are dead meat” is probably more accurate.

    More like cooked meat….
    Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb

    Arctic ‘methane chimneys’ raise fears of runaway climate change

    Time for direct action….
    What You and I Can Do

  2. Lou Grinzo says:

    The problem is not just lack of leadership, it’s the hyper-polarized nature of the discussion about global warming (and peak oil, for that matter). Look around the online world and see how insanely “us vs. them” these discussions have become, or listen to almost any talk radio show, for as long as you can stand it. We’ve segregated ourselves into the willfully ignorant and hyperconnected, and the latter group tends to listen to nothing but those people they agree with. We’ve forgotten how to shut the **** up and LISTEN to each other, and we treat real life like a bad parody of the talking heads political shows with people trying to score cheap points by yelling over each other.

    Thanks to blogs and the ability of the hyperconnected to flood discussions with half(or less)-truths, the biggest single road block to effective communication could very well be the Internet.

    If that’s not irony on steroids, I don’t know what is.

  3. Zan Ottaway says:


    Thanks for this wonderful blog!
    The part on Pickens was helpful to me recently.

  4. Zan Ottaway says:


    Joe could you please comment on this article?

    In the Opinion section of the WSJ: “Gore’s REbellion”

    Apparently he’s advocating that young people do civil disobedience to prevent new coal facilities being built. Can you please fact-check their argument for us?


  5. rpauli says:

    I know that gubernator Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a fine champion for this cause.

    It looks like he is smart enough to know where his leadership is needed. Perhaps his greatest role ever.


  6. rjm says:

    so it’s a western leadership problem rather than a massive Asian growth problem where they have a huge population and are ramping up concrete and coal as fast as they can?

    the west is not in the drivers seat anymore. We’re just along for the ride.

  7. David B. Benson says:

    Well, we could start seqquestering carbon in the form of biochar. Put it deep underground.

  8. Bob Wallace says:

    rjm, we Americans create a lot more greenhouse gas per person than do Asians.

    We need to quit our bitchin’ about others and clean up our own house first.

    We can set an example, create solutions, make significant headway and then we can assume the role of Great Navigator.

    So much more useful than Great Hypocrite.

  9. gaiasdaughter says:

    rjm, part of the huge growth in Chinese emissions is due to the fact that Americans (as well as others) have exported a huge portion of their carbon footprint to Asia. When was the last time you bought anything ‘made in America’? Items manufactured in China were most likely made with power from dirty coal fired plants and possibly with ‘conscripted’ labor. It’s time we quit pointing fingers at the rest of the world and do our part!

  10. Hmpf says:

    The surreal thing about this is how the audience keeps laughing all through. Scary.

    Also, while it is quite refreshing to see someone actually getting as worked up about the issue as it deserves, I’m not sure that it’s such a good idea to hammer it into people’s heads that we are completely and irrevocably screwed already…

  11. Eric Roston says:

    Jay Hakes has a terrific line in his new book, _A Declaration of Energy Independence_ (Paraphrase): To those who would say that the train has left the station, and we shouldn’t act, it might be pointed out that /there are many more trains poised to leave the station/.

  12. Environmental policy = energy policy
    Energy policy = environmental policy
    because Global Warming
    can lead to Hydrogen Sulfide gas coming out of the oceans.

    Hydrogen Sulfide gas will Kill all people. Homo Sap will go
    EXTINCT unless drastic action is taken.

    October 2006 Scientific American

    Impact from the Deep
    Strangling heat and gases emanating from the earth and sea, not
    asteroids, most likely caused several ancient mass extinctions.
    Could the same killer-greenhouse conditions build once again?
    By Peter D. Ward
    downloaded from:
    ………………..Most of the article omitted………………….
    But with atmospheric carbon climbing at an annual rate of 2 ppm
    and expected to accelerate to 3 ppm, levels could approach 900
    ppm by the end of the next century, and conditions that bring
    about the beginnings of ocean anoxia may be in place. How soon
    after that could there be a new greenhouse extinction? That is
    something our society should never find out.”

    Press Release
    Pennsylvania State University
    Monday, Nov. 3, 2003
    downloaded from:
    “In the end-Permian, as the levels of atmospheric oxygen fell and
    the levels of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide rose, the upper
    levels of the oceans could have become rich in hydrogen sulfide
    catastrophically. This would kill most of the oceanic plants and
    animals. The hydrogen sulfide dispersing in the atmosphere would
    kill most terrestrial life.”

    http://www.astrobio.net is a NASA web zine. See:





    These articles agree with the first 2. They all say 6 degrees C or
    1000 parts per million CO2 is the extinction point.

    The global warming is already 1.3 degree Farenheit. 11 degrees
    Farenheit is about 6 degrees Celsius. The book “Six Degrees” by
    Mark Lynas agrees. If the global warming is 6 degrees
    centigrade, we humans go extinct. See:

    “Under a Green Sky” by Peter D. Ward, Ph.D., 2007.
    Paleontologist discusses mass extinctions of the past and the one
    we are doing to ourselves.

    THE EXTINCTION OF US HUMANS. 32 countries have
    nuclear power plants. Only 9 have the bomb. The top 3
    producers of CO2 all have nuclear power plants, coal fired power
    plants and nuclear bombs. They are the USA, China and India.
    Reducing CO2 production by 90% by 2050 requires drastic action
    in the USA, China and India. King Coal has to be demoted to a
    commoner. Coal must be left in the earth. If you own any coal
    stock, NOW is the time to dump it, regardless of loss, because it
    will soon be worthless.
    I have no financial connection to the nuclear power industry.

  13. Robert says:

    Makes you wonder why he runs a racing team.


  14. Blog On Smog says:

    With both presidential candidates promoting their environmental plans, it will be interesting to see if the election winner will actually follow through with the promises. With global warming, we will soon find out if western democratic nations can actually accomplish what needs to be done.

  15. shop says:

    But I’m going to view the glass as one-tenth full and take it as a hopeful sign that somebody relatively mainstream like Letterman would break

  16. söve says:

    Also, while it is quite refreshing to see someone actually getting as worked up about the issue as it deserves, I’m not sure that it’s such a good idea to hammer it into people’s heads that we are completely and irrevocably screwed already…