Friedman on climate inaction: Were Gonna Be Sorry

For any first time visitors here because of Tom Friedman’s column in the Sunday NY Times, “We’re Gonna Be Sorry,” you might start with “An Introduction to Climate Progress.”

When I first heard on Thursday that Senate Democrats were abandoning the effort to pass an energy/climate bill that would begin to cap greenhouse gases that cause global warming and promote renewable energy that could diminish our addiction to oil, I remembered something that Joe Romm, the blogger, once said: The best thing about improvements in health care is that all the climate-change deniers are now going to live long enough to see how wrong they were.

We’ll always have gallows humor!

For some reason, the NYT is home to a large fraction of the U.S. opinion columnists who get global warming.   Nicholas Kristof had a terrific piece last week, “Our Beaker Is Starting to Boil,” on global warming and the work of David Breashears to document “stunning declines in glaciers on the roof of the world.”

Yes, Kristof cited, too —  but Kristof and Friedman and Krugman don’t care about global warming because they read this blog, they read this blog because they care about global warming.  Kristof concludes:

The retreat of the glaciers threatens agriculture downstream. A study published last month in Science magazine indicated that glacier melt is essential for the Indus and Brahmaputra rivers, while less important a component of the Ganges, Yellow and Yangtze rivers. The potential disappearance of the glaciers, the report said, is “threatening the food security of an estimated 60 million people” in the Indus and Brahmaputra basins.

We Americans have been galvanized by the oil spill on our gulf coast, because we see tar balls and dead sea birds as visceral reminders of our hubris in deep sea drilling. The melting glaciers should be a similar warning of our hubris “” and of the consequences that the earth will face for centuries unless we address carbon emissions today.

Friedman’s piece is a must read, too.  After spreading the blame around, including “President Obama for his disappearing act on energy,” he writes:

We’ve basically decided to keep pumping greenhouse gases into Mother Nature’s operating system and take our chances that the results will be benign “” even though a vast majority of scientists warn that this will not be so. Fasten your seat belts. As the environmentalist Rob Watson likes to say: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.” You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000,” says Watson. Do not mess with Mother Nature. But that is just what we’re doing.

Since I don’t have anything else to say, I will just fill out this column with a few news stories and e-mails that came across my desk in the past few days:

“¢  Just as the U.S. Senate was abandoning plans for a U.S. cap-and-trade system, this article ran in The China Daily: “BEIJING “” The country is set to begin domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to help it meet its 2020 carbon intensity target. The decision was made at a closed-door meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission … Putting a price on carbon is a crucial step for the country to employ the market to reduce its carbon emissions and genuinely shift to a low-carbon economy, industry analysts said.”

“¢  As we East Coasters know, it’s been extremely hot here this summer, with records broken. But, hey, you could be living in Russia, where ABC News recently reported that a “heat wave, which has lasted for weeks, has Russia suffering its worst drought in 130 years. In some parts of the country, temperatures have reached 105 degrees.” Moscow’s high the other day was 93 degrees. The average temperature in July for the city is 76 degrees. The BBC reported that to keep cool “at lakes and rivers around Moscow, groups of revelers can be seen knocking back vodka and then plunging into the water. The result is predictable “” 233 people have drowned in the last week alone.”

“¢  A day before the climate bill went down, Lew Hay, the C.E.O. of NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Power & Light, one of the nation’s biggest utilities, e-mailed to say that if the Senate would set a price on carbon and requirements for renewal energy, utilities like his would have the price certainty they need to make the big next-generation investments, including nuclear. “If we invest an additional $3 billion a year or so on clean energy, that’s roughly 50,000 jobs over the next five years,” said Hay. (Say goodbye to that.)

“¢  Making our country more energy efficient is not some green feel-good thing. Retired Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson, who was Gen. David Petraeus’s senior logistician in Iraq, e-mailed to say that “over 1,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan hauling fuel to air-condition tents and buildings. If our military would simply insulate their structures, it would save billions of dollars and, more importantly, save lives of truck drivers and escorts. … And will take lots of big fuel trucks (a k a Taliban Targets) off the road, expediting the end of the conflict.”

“¢  The last word goes to the contrarian hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham, who in his July letter to investors, noted: “Conspiracy theorists claim to believe that global warming is a carefully constructed hoax driven by scientists desperate for … what? Being needled by nonscientific newspaper reports, by blogs and by right-wing politicians and think tanks? I have a much simpler but plausible ‘conspiracy theory’: the fossil energy companies, driven by the need to protect hundreds of billions of dollars of profits, encourage obfuscation of the inconvenient scientific results. I, for one, admire them for their P.R. skills, while wondering, as always: “Have they no grandchildren?”

Hear!  Hear!  Grantham’s must-read piece is here.

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56 Responses to Friedman on climate inaction: Were Gonna Be Sorry

  1. Notice that people are now starting to get it – not because of the science – but because the real experiential pain is beginning.

    Governments will fund weather forecasting because it is vital to commerce. But climate forecasting has been actively suppressed for decades because it threatens carbon energy industries.

    We are left to interpret climate models and outdated scenarios. Now that our attitude is starting to change, we are reacting, it is harder to calmly look at the science to set policy.

  2. Fredo says:

    Now if only the NYTimes newsroom took climate change as seriously as their columnists. Seriously, how can any serious journalist write a story these days about the increasingly freakish weather and NOT get a quote in about what’s on everyone’s mind when such weather happens– climate change? Just today ran three or four such weather stories on their front page. It’s like they work to avoid it. Really, it’s not that hard– just get a couple local laypeople to put their fears, speculations, or denialist fantasies into words, then just call up any serious climatologist and get a stock quote explaining that extreme heat and precipitation events are part of an increasing trend that’s totally consistent with AGW theory, and more should be expected with each extra ton of carbon pollution.

  3. Peter Mizla says:

    The Planet is reacting now to the current level of CO2 – its going to become worse- and quickly.

    Thomas Friedman writes an honest and direct opinion- we can hope the rest of the media begins to do the same.

  4. Esop says:

    Yes, people need to literally feel the heat in order to grasp what is going on. The very fact that the global average temperature is at record level despite natural drivers being turned to cool is not nearly enough. Example: Temperatures in Northern Europe is still somewhat below average this summer, and denialism is at an all time high. Public opinion went from pretty much universal acceptance of AGW after a 20 year period where extremely mild winters dominated, to widespread hard core denial after just one winter season with below normal temperatures (triggered by the extreme AO/NAO).

  5. Sue in NH says:

    In so many of these editorials there are statements made to the effect that “if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels the warming will continue…” The implication is that if we do Stop burning fossil fuels, the warming will cease.

    This gives people the idea that “all” we have to do is stop our oil addiction and the earth will return to normal, as if we have control of the climate. There is also perhaps the suggestion that we can decide to do this anytime, although there is urgency, and then things will be OK.

    The fact is we have already lost control of the climate, or to put it more accurately, we are only able to influence how fast it gets worse, but we cannot make it better. We have driven our car over the crest of the hill and gravity has taken over in the form of positive feedback loops such as melting ice and thawing permafrost. We still have our foot on the gas pedal, but even if we take it off, there are no brakes in this car.

    If CO2 levels in the 380’s and rising are causing glaciers to melt, how can we fool ourselves that merely slowing down on emissions will stop the melting? The CO2 that is already in the atmosphere is not going away in any sort of time frame that applies to human experience.

    Maybe this level of understanding of reality would just cause people to throw up their hands and give up. I don’t know if that would be the case, but it seems the public discourse lags a certain distance behind scientific understanding. Maybe a dose of this truth would move the discussion forward to somewhere concerted action can begin.

  6. Wit'sEnd says:

    Well said, Sue in NH! I do not think we should give up in despair – although that might be the reaction most people have when they become enlightened about the inevitable trajectory of amplifying feedbacks – any more than a person diagnosed with a fatal disease should squander their remaining time.

    On the contrary, the response often is, and should be, to make every effort to triumph, and to make the most of the things that are really important – not amassing more stuff, but making deeper connections to friends and family, and being the best possible person you can be.

    The WWII moment is clearly on the horizon. The bottom of the food chains are collapsing in the oceans (coral reefs, small calcium based shellfish from CO2 acidification) and simultaneously on land (vegetation dying back from acid rain, fog, dry deposition, and ozone). Top predators, including humans, will soon run out of food. Indeed, they already are suffering shortages which will rapidly become acute.

    I continue to believe this is a more compelling reason than melting ice for the average person to understand the necessity to make substantial changes, and scientists should turn some of their attention to explaining why.

  7. Jeff Huggins says:

    Defining Big

    According to Forbes’ latest listing of The World’s Leading Companies, five of the six most profitable companies in the world are oil and gas companies.

    The six most profitable companies in the world are:

    Gazprom (Russia)
    ExxonMobil (US)
    China Mobile (Hong Kong, and the only one of the top six that is not an oil or gas company)
    PetroChina (China)
    Petrobras (Brazil)
    BP (United Kingdom)

    FYI, Royal Dutch Shell is 17 on the list (of profit), Total is 21, Chevron is 27, and so forth.

    Also, an interesting puzzle to contemplate: The New York Times recently wrote that one out of every four cars GM sells these days is sold in China, which is a great growth market for GM. But aren’t we supposed to be trying to convince the Chinese, and trying to work with them, to reduce GHG emissions? How does pushing conventional cars at them show them that we are serious (well, these days I guess we aren’t!) about the need to reduce GHG emissions? And, it’s also interesting to note that the Chairman of GM is on the Board of Directors of ExxonMobil. I ask, how does that help matters?

    People, although I appreciate the stances and writings of Krugman, Friedman, and etc. regarding climate change, we’re gonna need a lot more than that. The oil companies are laughing their ways to the bank. (I once worked for Chevron, and I also had offers from Exxon and Shell at the time.)

    On a related note, Andy Revkin (of The New York Times) has indicated that he will try to write an open letter to the news media covering his own assessment of the quality of the news media’s coverage of climate change as well as the things he thinks that the news media should do better (if anything), based on his many years of experience on the beat. He has asked to be reminded near the end of the month — so here is a reminder. I do think Andy SHOULD have a lot to say, and perhaps the real question is whether he will allow himself to say it candidly and with due concern and accurate criticism. Will Andy be a key journalist who follows in the footsteps of Murrow, Cronkite, and rare others who can be straightforward and tell it like it is when it comes to appropriately and necessarily criticizing the media? In any case, we should look forward to Andy’s open letter. Hopefully it will offer the public, and the news media, a solid and clear sense of what the media should be doing in order to genuinely and responsibly and effectively provide the public with the necessary information and wisdom to understand the problem we face and to actually take action in order to truly achieve “the public good” and (somehow) become a much better informed democracy.

    By the way, although I appreciate the pieces by Krugman and Friedman, and applaud them, I do NOT see The New York Times lifting even a baby finger in order to provide the public with the straight scoop on ExxonMobil, who has been one of The Times’ largest advertisers in the last couple of years and who has used The Times to spread confusion and misleading information, willy nilly. If you ask me, The Times’ coverage of climate change has been dismal, for the most part, aside from the occasional opinion pieces, given the great stakes involved. Indeed, the very best thing that Krugman and Friedman and etc. could probably do, at this point, before writing another column, is to join together and march up to Bill Keller’s office and insist that The Times dramatically improve its news coverage of the climate and energy problems, pronto, or else (if they are serious about it), they’ll leave and go elsewhere. Emerson once wrote, “Your goodness must have some edge to it — else it is none.” (Self-Reliance) Perhaps Andy will make the march with you, Paul and Tom?

    The oil guys are BIG, and we haven’t even mentioned the coal guys. Will the media step up to the plate, or not? That is the question.

    Be Well,


  8. Peter Mizla says:

    Nice thoughts Sue up in NH

    The climate has warmed here in CT over 4 degrees F since 1970.

    Yet despite the changes we are having- I meet those who say its ‘just a cycle’. Blind people, blind world.

  9. Lou Grinzo says:

    Sue is exactly right about the timing of our situation, and I’m relieved to see that this detail is finally getting some more attention.

    David Archer talked a lot about this in his excellent book, “The Long Thaw”, and the issue is dealt with in considerable detail in the recently released report published by the National Academies Press, “Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millenia” (the prepublication version is still a free PDF download at That report makes the point that to stabilize at any given level of CO2 we would need a greater than 80% reduction in emissions, and we’re already close to locking in a very different future for not just centuries but millenia. I suspect readers of this site know what “very different” means….

    I’ve been yelling about this bizarre fetish we have over the year 2100, as if all we have to do is get emissions low enough before then and we’re home free. As David Archer points out, 40% of the warming from the CO2 we emit up to that date will happen after 2100. We acted out of ignorance for centuries to create this problem and now we’re still struggling to overcome not just greedy and ideologically driven deniers but counterproductive world views even among those who “get” climate change.

  10. Lore says:

    Sue in NH:

    Indeed this is the conundrum;… the choice may ultimately be, how do you like your frog, parboiled or fried?

  11. Robert says:

    This experiment in home rule clearly isn’t working. You need to be careful, otherwise we might pass a bill to return power to Westminster.

    Seriously, the problem in the US seems to be that political power now rests almost entirely with corporate interests. Corporations are legally forbidden from addressing an issue like climate change because solutions invariably divert them from their primary goal of making a huge pile of money ever huger. At least in the UK it is one man – one vote. We vote in a party and the party carries out the manifesto on which it was elected. In the US it seems that no-one is really in charge and that votes are bought and sold to the highest bidder at every stage.

    Joe – if I were you I would step back a bit and try and redefine the problem. Particularly in the US this revolves around your constitution rather than any lack of will, understanding or lack of solutions.

  12. Gary says:

    The Democratic clowns to the left of me offer “white paint”….Republican
    jokers to the right “cling to denial”….we are stuck in the middle!

  13. Raul M. says:

    Is that radiant barrier paint for free?

  14. fj2 says:

    Should post projected yes and no votes per senator under the Deutche Bank CO2 emissions sign at Madison Square Garden in New York City; also on the web.

  15. TiLMAR says:

    thanks yo very goods

  16. Dean says:

    I would be reluctant to press the mainstream media to talk about this issue, unless the outlet has a clear record of respecting the science. Most such articles are going to ask a denier for a quote for balance and they have shown themselves very adept at manipulating the media. And as to TV news, more people watch local news than national, and those stations are bound to ask their meteorologist to pass judgment.

    Anybody who follows news and issues even modestly has heard of global warming. If they haven’t already found the science, but their minds are open, then the actual experience is probably what will convince them. In other words, this summer is convincing more people than newspapers would.

  17. Ben Lieberman says:

    Friedman’s piece is excellent–so what is the next step to address the crisis? Is devising the perfect policy any use if the Senate will not consider any bill? Is local grass roots activity remotely likely to get a great deal of attention in the media or to bring about change at the necessary rate? Are technology improvements at all likely to outweigh increased consumption? What is the approach that will actually work?

  18. fj2 says:

    17. Ben Lieberman, ” . . . what is the next step . . ?”

    This is a moral issue, a highly practical issue, and something to the benefit of all — of extreme self-interest — and everything you mention will work especially when the scale of the problems and potential solutions remain in our sights.

  19. mark says:

    “Should post projected yes and no votes per senator under the Deutche Bank CO2 emissions sign at Madison Square Garden in New York City; also on the web.”

    I was thinking this. I don’t know if there are many politicians that feel any shame about anything,

    but it’s well worth trying.

    Publicly Shame them.

  20. NFJM says:

    Maybe just a little remark

    THE US is going to be sorry. Think about who will have been responsible for blocking progress on climate action. Think about what the result might be of 9 billion of people angry over 20 generations at a nation of 300 million people… think about.

  21. Colorado Bob says:

    ” Men argue, nature acts ”

    Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

  22. SecularAnimist says:

    Ben Lieberman: “What is the approach that will actually work?”

    We know what needs to be done:

    1. End ALL anthropogenic CO2 emissions now (which as a practical matter, means within 10 years, with the steepest reductions occurring within 5 years).

    2. Begin a worldwide program to draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of CO2 through organic agriculture and reforestation.

    3. Meanwhile, hope that we have not already warmed the Earth beyond “tipping points” such that self-reinforcing carbon feedbacks will continue to warm the planet regardless of what we do.

    I would submit that points 1 and 2 above are actually FAR EASIER to accomplish, both technically and economically, than most people realize, and will have numerous extremely positive and beneficial “side effects” for human society.

    So, the question then becomes what political approach will get us going on that path?

    And that’s a tough one — because of the ruthless and reckless greed of the fossil fuel corporations for the BILLION DOLLARS PER DAY IN PROFIT that they rake in from business-as-usual consumption of their products, and their death-grip on US energy policy.

  23. peter whitehead says:

    Carbon credits, reduction targets etc won’t work in the time available. The problem with CFCs and the ozone layer was sorted by setting dates to stop using CFCs. Lead was taken out of petrol(gas) by a fixed date to stop putting it in.

    We need cut-off dates for using fossil fuels for each use – eg no road vehicle using fossil fuel may be sold new after 2020, no electricity may be generated by FF after 2025.

    Cut-off dates concentrate the minds of industry.

  24. Michael T says:

    “Floods Throughout Midwest”

    The rain has stopped but in many states water still rages.

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    peter whitehead, #24 “The problem with CFCs and the ozone layer was sorted”

    It is believed that if the international agreement is adhered to, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050

  26. Leif says:

    Raul@ 13 asks: “Is that radiant barrier paint for free?” It should be bought and distributed by BIG OIL & COAL-and out of the divided side of the equation, not an added cost to the consumer. In reality, if it happens, it will be an oil based product produced by EXXON & ALL and applied with a no bid contract to Hallburton. (After all they have become the new “too big to fail”.)

    Welcome to GOBP LAND everyone.

  27. Leif says:

    Colorado Bob @22: Good Video: One thought. Could you super impose the same scale Gulf spill on the melting Arctic? Black or gray shadow? Why leave anything to the imagination? This is Anti-Science folks you are talking to.

    Great comments ALL.

  28. Raul M. says:

    I was anti-science till my dad explained to me the
    sky wasn’t falling. But, now with the rain making
    new type of scum on places that are petro based
    and puddle water, I still say be careful.
    Please be careful.

  29. Raul M. says:

    Yes, I first started noticing a different kind
    of slime on the riding mower seat after a rain
    back after the 2005 hurricane season.
    Painted surfaces also seemed to be more slippery.
    So still I say please be careful. No hurry.
    As far a white pavement, the pavement could
    appear to be mostly white if cars etc. had cool roofs
    in large metro areas.

  30. Bob Wright says:

    Any chance the Senate democrats will go after it during a got nothing to lose lame duck session?

  31. David B. Benson says:

    If you must have an automobile, buy a white one.

  32. catman306 says:

    I have yet to read a dollar amount for a carbon tax. How many dollars for a ton of CO2 emitted?

    #11 Robert is spot on.

    #24 Peter Whitehead, firm cut-off dates for various fuels make the most sense.

    Climate is average weather.. Climate change is really climate failure because weather averages from years ago mean almost nothing today and even less tomorrow. Welcome to our new world. Be brave.

    Encourage smaller families for the next several generations. One child per couple might even be too many.

  33. David B. Benson says:

    catman306@33 — Around $150 per ton of CO2 for fossil carbon ought to be enough to sequester it.

  34. Bill W says:

    So, if the climate bill in the Senate is dead, can the EPA please go ahead with command-and-control regulations now?

  35. Wit'sEnd says:

    Is it really necessary to point out that white surfaces, while they may helpfully reflect unwanted excess heating, will do NOTHING to save us from the mass extinction of sea creatures from ocean acidification (keeping in mind that much of our food, and oxygen to breathe, comes from life in the sea)…

    not to mention it will accomplish ZERO to stop the acidification of the atmosphere, from the other greenhouse gas pollutants, which are destroying the terrestrial vegetation (trees and crops) that just so happens to be the base of our food chain?

  36. Unfortunately, the failure of the United States to address the global warming issue in 2010 means that it will likely be a very long time before the country gets another opportunity to do something.

    Thomas Friedman is right to say that this is no longer a political issue. It is now Nature’s problem to solve and Nature’s tools are harsh, unmerciful and unresponsive to human suffering.

    If there is some boundary between survival and extinction beyond which our species should not cross it is quite evident that our species has already crossed the boundary and continues to accelerate along the path to its ultimate tragic end. There’s no stopping humankind. All of those human traits that have destroyed the planet so far have become malignant and won’t respond to treatment. The illness afflicting the planet has gone terminal and won’t stop until our species has finished exterminating itself.

    In addition to the climate problem, it is worthwhile to point out that China’s demand for oil is growing at a rate that would lead it to consume 20 million barrels of oil a day by the 2020’s. This is a really big problem since Peak Oil has already occurred and it is impossible for both the United States and China to consume more than half of the world’s daily oil production without dreadful consequences.

    The price of oil will skyrocket in the years ahead and this double-dip depression will become a global economic collapse from which our civilization will not recover.

    Yet humankind cannot repond to any of these problems. Our species has locked itself into a myth of perpetual economic growth combined by perpetual human population growth.

    This story isn’t going to have a happy ending.

  37. Prokaryotes says:

    The situation will just deteriorate further and further. Future missions have to focus on disaster management, food supply, construction, education and stuff like this. As long we hunt for fossil energy – any nation, we are doomed. We need to replace existing technology with green technologies and help the developing world to help us in removing greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere – BECCS.

    This is the only way to create a new economy and to sustain current life-style. We need to focus on key priorities like negative carbon actions. Because even if we stop today all emissions worldwide – the planet will keep warming! There is no business and consumer market in a world choked by catastrophic events.

    Beside this at certain points it will happen in large magnitudes. Why wait till we reach a point of no return and irreversible climate changes?

  38. James Newberry says:

    Politically, I suggest advocating something like the following:

    1) No person shall lobby Congress (or any member of the government) who is paid to do so. (Money as speech is a corrupt concept that has destroyed America’s leadership, treasury and reputation).

    2) No person shall be elected to office who: has purchased time on electronic media (return to Fairness Doctrine and public requirements of ownership), has received over (one thousand dollars?) from any entity/source, who has spent over (one million?) of their own funds for their campaign.

    It’s a start. We must be rid of corrupted, plutocratic oligopoly resulting from the financialization of the government AND the economy. Then we might start serious examination of hundreds of billions of dollars annually of perverse subsidies (like petroleum extraction and atomic fission) and other poor planning and system designs, including those with built-in conflicts of interest.

  39. Prokaryotes says:

    David Mathews, #37 “perpetual human population growth.”

    We are on a path to a planet which can just feed 1-2 billion people and this is still a positive scenario (Lovelock et al.).
    Catastrophic climate change has the potential to kill more people in a short period of time than any human technology. And this is why people like Stephen Hawking, Dr Lovelock, Frank Fenner etc warn of human extinction. The simple evolutionary solution for population growth is space colonization.

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    The science of climate change is alive and well

    While the skeptics will likely continue their attacks, climate science is alive and well, and the public is smarter than we think. All we need now is the political will to take action.–the-science-of-climate-change-is-alive-and-well

  41. David B. Benson says:

    Prokaryotes@40 — Won’t work; we are wedded to this planet.

  42. fj2 says:

    There won’t be much fight left when the president decides to make his pitch.

  43. Raul M. says:

    Could be some are spending about all they can on
    mitigation while others don’t have any idea what
    that is beside turning on the A/C or heat.
    Might be some who know what it is are thinking
    that what ever monies are available will have to
    be saved for repairs day.

  44. catman306 says:

    Thanks David B. Benson.

    Poor Tony Hayward. Huff says he’s leaving before Tuesday. Personally responsible, he is. But I could live comfortably on just one string of his golden parachute..

    With the superstar salary must come superstar responsibility. So be sure to think long and hard about that personal responsibility before accepting a job with that kind of salary.

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    It’s not too late …

    AFTER the recent spate of torrential rains and the floods that followed, many questioned the Public Utilities Board’s ability to handle large amounts of rainfall and whether more could be done to improve Singapore’s drainage system.

    But while the PUB certainly has much work to do, we should not forget we can do something about the root of the problem: The rain.

    Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew last week called the rain and floods an “act of God”. I would call it “a reaction of God to the actions of men”.

    Climate change has wreaked havoc on weather patterns the world over. Japan is battling a heatwave with temperatures hitting 40.9°C, while China is facing deadly floods. Singapore’s average annual temperature has risen in recent years, reports tell us.

    So, what does this mean to us? Simply: We should do our part by trying to save the environment. This can be done in small increments, in many simple ways, like lessening the use of air-conditioners or turning lights off when not in use.

    They may seem like insignificant acts, but clearly, we’re already seeing the effects of mankind’s environmental callousness.,,,

  46. paul says:

    Freeman Dyson says

    “My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.”

    release the hounds joe

  47. Eleanor Holt says:

    At a meeting of the Union of Concerned Scientists (, held in Cleveland Ohio, we were provided with handouts containing extensive information on “Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Midwest: Ohio and what to expect if the status quo remains. The same materials are available for every region and every state with timelines, graphs, and how to get to clean energy.

    For example, I had no idea that Ohio is the fourth largest producer of global warming emissions among all states. That per capita emission are nearly 19% higher than the national average, mainly because 87% of Ohio’s energy comes from coal fired power plants (compared with the national average of 50%). And if that isn’t enough, Ohio imported nearly three-quarters of the coal its power plants used in 2008, To pay for the imports, we sent 1.87 billion dollars out-of-state. Instate mines suppled the rest of Ohio’s coal and we exported $381 million to other states. The state thus spent a net $1.49 billion on imported coal. Do you know what is going on in your state? (By the way, the top four coal dependent state starts with Georgia spending $2.6 billion, followed by North Carolin $2.3 billion, Texas $1.9 billion and Florida 1.6 billion.)

    In Friedman’s New York Times article today he fingered the most important sector not yet involved. The Electorate. They have remained unengaged because they have had no real information. The deniers message has echoed around the media, blogs, internet mags so often people may think it is global warming is a slogan.

    We must cut to the chase and put forth the scientific issues to the Electorate so they completely and throughly undrstand what is at stake. Not rumors or implications or overreaching or socialism or the deficit. We need a strong comprehensive climate bill before we restore tax cuts for the wealthy. Your children and grandchildren are going to ask: Isn’t there anything you could have done?”

    The last three sentences in Rhomm’s excellent book, Straight Up, makes it clear: “..the fight in 2010 and beyond is not Democrat versus Republican or progressive versus conservative. It is science versus anti-science. Science will eventually prevail. It always does.” Thanks for that.

    Congress will not act without public support.

  48. homunq says:

    It’s the bottom of the ninth, and we’re down by 3, with one man on base and two outs. There’s every chance that we’re going to lose*. But it’s time to fight, not time to give up.

    Up at bat is US climate legislation. The best chance to pass it is filibuster reform. To switch metaphors, it’s time for all hands on deck.

    *I think that Prokaryotes’ (#40) apocalyptic numbers of 1-2 billion people on earth are plausible, though his implication that we’ll have even a million people living in space by end of century is lunatic.

  49. dbmetzger says:

    an interesting video on the possibilities of recycling. Ship Made of Plastic Bottles Crosses Pacific
    The Plastiki, which is made from 12,500 recycled bottles, arrives in Sydney after crossing the Pacific.

  50. DC says:

    It about jobs and new technology. Even if you think global warming is a hoax, how do you deny the job creation and profitability of going green? Can’t we get anybody with politcal courage anymore?

  51. David Smith says:

    There is a lot of talk about solar and wind power… not working at scale. It occurred to me recently that the problems we are facing with AGW are because oil and coal do not work at scale. Everyone in those industries act as if they do, but the scale they work at is if only 6% of the world (or some relatively small percentage) has electricity and cars.

    The problems we face now is because we have nothing that works at current scale. Just a thought.

  52. Chris Winter says:

    Prokaryotes wrote: “The simple evolutionary solution for population growth is space colonization.”

    Simple in concept, yes (and conceptually unassailable), but very difficult in practice. It will be a long time before significant numbers of humans are living anywhere but on Earth.

  53. Prokaryotes says:

    Chris Winter, #55 “It will be a long time before significant numbers of humans are living anywhere but on Earth”

    You have to start somewhere and in the last decades there wasn’t a lot of affords.