Mark Hertsgaard names Generation Hot: Living through the next fifty years on earth

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"Mark Hertsgaard names Generation Hot: Living through the next fifty years on earth"

UPDATE:  Hertsgaard responds to comments here.

Mark Hertsgaard, the terrific environment correspondent for The Nation (and author of a lot of great books), has a new book coming in January, “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.” He previews it on HuffPost, reprinted here with his permission.

HotMy daughter Chiara, age five, is a member. So is my goddaughter Emily, age twenty-two. So are the thousands of Pakistani children now suffering after record monsoon rains left 20 percent of their country — an area the size of Great Britain — under water.

In fact, every child on earth born after June 23, 1988 belongs to what I call Generation Hot. This generation includes some two billion young people, all of whom have grown up under global warming and are fated to spend the rest of their lives confronting its mounting impacts.

For Generation Hot, the brutal summer of 2010 is not an anomaly; it’s the new normal.

One wouldn’t know it from most media coverage, but the world’s leading climate scientists have concluded that last summer’s rash of extreme weather — including record heat across much of Europe (especially Russia) and the United States — was driven in no small part by man-made global warming. Of course no single event can ever be definitively attributed to global warming; weather results from many factors. But according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, the extraordinary heat, rains, drought and flooding that occurred this summer fit the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s projections of “more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.” In other words, dangerous climate change is no longer tomorrow’s problem; it is here today.  But for most of us, the other scientific shoe has yet to drop. Aside from a fundamentalist few, most people around the world, in rich and poor countries alike, accept that climate change is real and has already begun to occur. Nevertheless, many non-specialists still do not grasp the most fiendish aspect of the climate problem: we can’t turn it off.

No matter how many solar panels, electric cars and other green technologies we humans may embrace, the fact remains that more severe climate change is locked in for decades to come. The reason is the physical inertia of the climate system: the fact that carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for centuries. Even if global greenhouse gas emissions were magically halted overnight, sheer physical inertia would keep average global temperatures rising for another thirty years at least, scientists say.

[JR:  Again, while the world is obviously not going to halt GHG emissions overnight, doing so might well keep average global temperatures relatively flat, according to one recent analysis — and certainly noticeably keep them far lower than staying on our current path of ever-rising emissions — as I discussed here.]

Not every future summer will be as punishing as 2010 was, but more and more will be. Members of Generation Hot who live in New York City, for example, will endure roughly twice as many extremely hot summer days in the 2020s as they do today, according to the New York City Panel on Climate Panel, a group of scientific, government and business leaders advising the city government.

Growing enough food will also be a challenge. Corn, one of the world’s key staple crops, does not reproduce at temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. During the 20th century, the breadbasket state of Iowa experienced three straight days of 95 F temperatures once per decade–not a big problem. By 2040 Iowa is projected to experience such hot spells in three summers out of four.

It’s not that we weren’t warned. I date the beginning of Generation Hot to June 23, 1988 because that is when humanity was put on notice that greenhouse gas emissions were raising the temperatures on this planet. The warning came from NASA scientist James Hansen’s testimony to the U.S. Senate and, crucially, the decision by the New York Times to print the news on page 1, which in turn made global warming a household phrase in news bureaus, living rooms and government offices the world over.

As the father of a five year old, it infuriates me that Hansen’s warning, and countless subsequent ones, has gone unheeded. As a journalist, I have helped expose some of the tactics that energy companies and their allies employed to block action. Often the cynicism has been breathtaking. For example, the science advisers to the corporate-funded Global Climate Coalition privately told the group’s board of directors — way back in 1995! — that the science behind climate change was “well established and cannot be denied,” a fact the board then censored from the group’s public outreach materials. Last July, lawmakers in Washington refused to pass modest climate legislation even as the northern hemisphere sizzled under what will likely be the hottest summer on record.

“This was a crime,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the climate adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told me, referring to the past two decades of global inaction. But the wrong people are being punished. My daughter and her peers in Generation Hot have been given a life sentence for a crime they didn’t commit; they will spend the rest of their lives coping with a climate that will be hotter and more volatile than ever before in our civilization’s history. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of this crime continue to reap record corporate profits, win political re-elections and get invited onto national TV and radio programs.

The battle to prevent climate change, feeble as it was, is over. Now the race to survive it has begun. If humanity is to win this race, we must change the way we think about the climate problem. Humanity has left behind what I call the first era of global warming — when we argued about whether it was real and how to stop it — and entered a new, second era of the problem, where the paradigm has shifted in a fundamental but still largely unrecognized way.

In the second era of global warming, the traditional goal of climate policy — limiting global emissions — is more important than ever but no longer sufficient. To be sure, we need to reverse global warming, and quickly — before the earth passes tipping points that could trigger irreversible climate change. At the same time, however, we must now prepare our societies for the many impacts already in the pipeline. In short, we face a double imperative: we must live through global warming even as we halt and reverse it.

A handful of cutting-edge leaders around the world have taken this lesson to heart and begun to put in place protections against the projected impacts, including better sea defenses, more efficient water supplies and improved emergency and health care systems. Probably the most far-sighted work is taking place in the Netherlands, which has launched a well-funded, politically tough-minded 200 Year Plan to adapt to climate change. (No, 200 is not a typo.) Most countries, however, like most private companies and local communities, are doing little or nothing to prepare for the storm bearing down upon them.

It’s now September, the end of summer, and my five year old has started kindergarten. It’s a huge transition, as every parent knows. Meanwhile, the oldest members of Generation Hot are embarking on their own huge transition. Now 21- or 22-years-old, they are leaving childhood behind for the adult world of work, marriage and children.

But a third transition, just as huge, awaits each and every member of Generation Hot. One of the key facts of the 21st century is that climate change is going to get worse, perhaps a lot worse, before it gets better. Like it or not, the kids of Generation Hot will have to learn how to cope with the consequences — not only for their health and economic prospects but their emotional well-being.

Many members of Generation Hot are active in the climate fight, but they cannot succeed without much more help from their elders. The threat of nuclear annihilation — the other great peril of the last fifty years — called forth a powerful movement of parents, especially mothers, that eventually helped convince the superpowers to choose a safer course. Now, parents across the country and around the world should mount a similar campaign to preserve a livable future for our children, the precious young people of Generation Hot.

– Mark Hertsgaard

JR:  I would just clarify that we can’t (easily) turn off most of the warming and climate change we face through 2040, but Generation Hot certainly could avoid the multiple unimaginable catastrophes it faces post-2040 if their parents sharply reduce emissions asap — see Irreversible does not mean unstoppable: “Why show me this, if I am past all hope?”

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64 Responses to Mark Hertsgaard names Generation Hot: Living through the next fifty years on earth

  1. Dear Mr. Hertsgaard,

    Thank you for this post and for your book which tells what needs to be told. I fear greatly for my 24-year-old daughter. My generation was and continues to be the “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” Generation while the world burns. I fully agree with Dr. Schellnhuber that lack of legislation is a crime. But I also fully agree with Dr. Hansen that the CEOs who are financing delays in action are also criminals.

    I hope your book has an impact.

    Thank you, again.

  2. John McCormick says:

    Damn. This book had to be written.

    Parents have so many challenges facing them as they (we) try to set examples for our children while covering all the expenses.

    When it comes to helping our children understand the real and frightening implications of climate change on their young lives it becomes a counter-intuitive effort. Why would any rational person, much less a parent, try to rob children of a hope for a better life than we have and are enjoying.

    Maybe this book will help children and young adults come to terms with their future and fate. God, this is depressing.

    Parents who believe what they read and hear about the future of the planet’s climate should accept a new responsibility for their childrens’ development. Gradually help them to see the reality of climate change (I suspect they are way ahead of most of us)and how it will change their lives and how they will have to be prepared for that: where they choose to live; how they stay healthy and enlightened about the world around them; and, even become politically active.

    What else to say this morning.

    Thanks Mark. But, damn, this book should never have been needed.

    John McCormick

  3. NeilT says:

    Let’s hope that this helps us get people out of “boiled frog” syndrome and into some stage of awareness…..

  4. Peter M says:

    I responded to this at the HP A few days ago

    my response again

    “There will be no reduction in emissions for at least 10 years-real reductions instead of pledges which are broken and cheated on. And even those reductions will not be enough to stop a 3 degree rise C of global temperatures by 2050.

    So we have the ‘children’ of the Heat- but also dust, drought and floods. Children who will learn to see the climatic stability that their parents knew gone- and for that matter humankind going back 12,000 years.

    These children will grow up in an increasingly violent and unstable environment- that the Governments of the world have done little to stop. The United States will have to answer for much of the future chaos these kids are going to face.

    It has been a remarkably stable time in earths climatic history- buts that’s now ending- due to humans and their massive outpouring of CO2 into the sky.”

  5. matto says:

    “every child on earth born after June 23, 1988 belongs to what I call Generation Hot”

    And all the anti-science, disinformer, denialists belong to what I call “Generation Not”.

  6. Deborah Stark says:

    I have observed for several years now that children born after, say, 1999, are also going to think that skies regularly strafed with aviation emissions are perfectly normal.

    When I was growing up, cirrus cloud was a relatively rare and interesting treat observed primarily during the colder months of the year. Now it’s a common sight at all times of the year, the result of dissipating aviation emissions that our water vapor burdened atmosphere can no longer keep up with processing.

    Frankly, over the last few months my thinking has been going in the direction of how to adapt to this situation. Seriously. I don’t think there’s a hell of a lot we can do about it. This is definitely not to say that I think we should give up. But in my opinion it’s probably a good idea to face reality as best we can and conduct ourselves accordingly.

    I swear I cannot believe this is happening in my lifetime. I look at my granddaughters and I cannot even begin to imagine what they’re going to be dealing with 20 years out. I can’t think about it too much or I’ll go nuts…

  7. Deborah Stark says:

    Re: Tenney Naumer Post #1:

    “…..But I also fully agree with Dr. Hansen that the CEOs who are financing delays in action are also criminals…..”

    Yes. They are. And they know exactly what they’re doing.

  8. Leif says:

    At what point does obstruction and willful denial become premeditated murder?

  9. John McCormick says:

    What is our tipping point for direct action?

    I am pondering this in a serious way.

    John McCormick

  10. mike roddy says:

    Thanks for this, Mark and Joe, and the journalists from prior posts need to be alerted: This is what journalism looks like. Start acting accordingly, and stop providing excuses.

    Gail, thanks for the video from the junior high kids, quite inspiring.

    And yes, Tenney, the CEO’s who are paying to subvert the public discourse- and who often know the facts themselves- are evil and cynical beyond our imaginations. There should be a two pronged effort: a public one, to expose them and their PR teams as the monsters that they are, and demands from stockholders at annual meetings who are troubled about enabling catastrophe.

    “Hot” is a better descriptor than “warm”. Suggestion: Let’s call it Global Heating, not Global Warming.

  11. valdosta says:

    Great work. I am going to bookmark this page and keep coming back for more.

  12. Jeff Huggins says:

    A Few Thoughts

    Sounds like a great — and needed — book. Thanks to Mark Hertsgaard! Bravo!

    I have two great sons who are on the early edge of so-called Generation Hot. The oldest was born in 1989.

    FYI, on April 3, 1980, while Walter Cronkite himself was still anchoring the CBS Evening News, and just before the days of cable news, and while CBS News still had the highest ratings of the main network news shows, Cronkite introduced an amazingly on-target segment about global warming. Yes, on nationwide network news. Way back in 1980. There apparently had been a hearing that day — there’s footage of it in the segment. Again, this was the CBS Evening News . . . the highest-rated evening news program of that period! I’m not quite sure why that date seems to have dropped out of the history books whenever someone talks about the first time(s) we were warned on a credible and national basis? If you’d like to see the segment, with Cronkite himself, you can get a copy from the Vanderbilt TV News Archive. Indeed, it would be great if Climate Progress could get a copy and get permission from Vanderbilt to show it on Climate Progress. Too few people have seen it. It would be “in the public good” for more people to see it, so hopefully Vanderbilt and/or CBS News would agree to permit Climate Progress to show it (link to it).

    (And thanks to a Climate Progress commenter for first pointing that out to me. I can’t recall who it was, but it was a great find.)

    Moving on . . .

    I too am Very Frustrated that we are mucking things up for Generation Hot and for future generations. We need to be honest with each other and get Active. Writing a polite note to your Senator is fine but will not nearly be sufficient. It is time for million-person boycotts of the companies most at fault, million-person marches, students en masse speaking out on campuses, and so forth. Indeed, although I agree that we parents and others in our generations should get with it and be active, and start to remedy the situation, if I were a young person in Generation Hot, I would not trust us to address the matter un-prompted: I think the young people should be standing up for their rights and for their future, en masse. I can’t fathom the relative silence that we seem to be experiencing, at least judging from the normal everyday activities in the cities and towns and also by what the media cover. Students seem to be studying for their GMATs and LSATs and MCATs and so forth, all while we continue to much of their climate. Enough!

    That said, the only thing I’d say to express any “concern” about the present excerpt, above, is that at times it gets dangerously close to implying that there is no hope and that there’s nothing that can be done. If you understand the nature of human motivation, that’s NOT a message that we want . . . and such a message can be created (from excerpts) with sound bites and so forth. It’s vitally important that we always say what can be done, how it will benefit matters, what difference it WILL make, and why we should feel compelled to do it.

    All in all, though, the book sounds great.

    Given that 10/10/10 is coming up — and I’ll be there! — it will be interesting to see how that goes. Although I hope it goes well, and I applaud the 350 folks, nevertheless, my bet is that it will leave us (more than ever) with the clear and in-our-face realization that Much, Much, Much more activity — of new and different sorts — will be needed. If we stick to the pattern of doing single themed events, and taking pictures of them, every nine months or so, and then going home, the status quo will be alive and well and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere five years from now, and ten, and so forth. Sorry to say this, but Much More will be needed to move the needle.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  13. Lore says:

    “For Generation Hot, the brutal summer of 2010 is not an anomaly; it’s the new normal.”

    Except that the new normal won’t be the normal in a few years, or until we reach a point at which the climate discovers a new equilibrium.

    Hopefully, I’m going to find this book an interesting read. While we busy ourselves with warning one another about the implications of our current actions, not much is being said about what is already baked into the cake and what will be necessary to do to survive it.

  14. Lewis C says:

    Mark – congratulations on both the outlook and the excellent focus of your book, which I look forward to reading. If ‘Generation Hot’ are not awoken to the jeopardy being imposed on them, there seems little prospect of older generations achieving the vital changes.

    One small point that is worth remarking: the sentence above – “Of course no single event can ever be definitively attributed to global warming; weather results from many factors” – would be both more accurate and far more potent if the word ‘solely’ were added to read “. . . can ever be definitively attributed solely to global warming.” — No doubt you’re as aware and as furious as any at the complacency and delay the standard version has served since ’88. So what are the chances of getting this pivotal amendment into the book at proofreading stage ?

    Unlike Joe Romm (for whose seminal output and stunning work ethic I have a profound respect) I’m not convinced by the paper that claims to overturn the widely endorsed descriptions of the 30 to 40 year timelag on GHG outputs’ warming impacts, as it requires too neat a coincidence of marine heat retention for my taste.

    That said, the timelags issue is plainly not open to resolution by overnight emissions termination – all nations begin starving within three weeks of the diesel trucks being parked up. Yet even with the radical target of 98% cut by 2040, it is not simply timelagged emissions’ impacts we’ll face once the ‘active’ CO2 ppmv rises from ~330 to ~390. – There are also the impacts both of current ongoing anthro emissions and accelerating feedback emissions that will start to take effect during the 2040s. Moreover, the termination of anthro GHGs will end the output of coolant aerosols, adding another significant boost to the global heat intake.

    All of which indicates that ending our emissions, even at a radical rate, is a necessary but insufficient response to the problem. From this perspective I guess you may agree that Carbon Recovery on a massive global scale would of course help, but its establishment period and the feasible recovery rate imply that it cannot do nearly enough within a time frame to prevent the feedbacks replacing, and then dwarfing, our current annual GHG outputs.

    So I wonder where you stand on the option of the additional deployment of the most prudent of effective ‘Albido Restoration’ techniques, as the necessary and sufficient complement, in order to reduce global temperature and thereby decelerate the feedbacks while Carbon Recovery takes effect ?

    Regards,

    Lewis

  15. Lewis C says:

    John at 10 –

    With regard to a tipping point for direct action, the US stonewalling at Copenhagen, the 15,000yr heatwave in Moscow, and the evident collapse of the Arctic Ice Cap, each has merits as a candidate.

    The philosophy and conduct of that direct action are of course critical to its effectiveness – Thus I’d point out that we lack the three factors that gave both India’s independence movement and the US civil rights movement their power:
    – a significant fraction of the relevant media being actively sympathetic;
    – the establishment’s knowledge of a war threat for which mass recruitment would be required; and
    – the leadership of an exceptionally inspirational, charismatic and strategically astute figurehead.

    It might be said that if the climate defence movement had enjoyed these advantages, then its pacifism would not have been such an utter failure to date and we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    My own favourite borderline-legal tactic is ‘guerrilla postering,’ using graphics, humour and indictment, put up on A3 paper with Elmers glue where young people will read them. If the media have been suborned, we have to develop our own communications !

    Regards,

    Lewis

  16. When I sent my daughter off to the U.S. to college in May 2008, I gave her very specific instructions — marry a guy who is a structural engineer who works on things like ports or a tenured professor in the same area. I admit it, this is what I did. I know my daughter — she is the artistic type — what sort of room will there be in 10 or 20 years for people like her? I also tried to think of which country she should go to — she also has Dutch citizenship. Well, at least Holland has a 200-year plan and is a country where the citizenry are highly educated and will pull together to fight this thing — but can Holland survive 2 meters of sea level rise?

    She is well aware that her world is not going to be easy, but thankfully she does not have the age and experience to really imagine what lies ahead, because it will be Hell and High Water as Joe has so often said.

    And where are all the Americans going to go who live in the Southeast and the lower Midwest where the heat waves are going to scorch the land into nothing?

    Oh, yeah, and the people in the Southwest who will no longer have enough water to support the cities? Is everyone going to move to Wisconsin and Minnesota?

    The Koch brothers have been using their billions to manipulate policy and politics in our country since 1986 — they have a vast, well-organized infrastructure of bogus think tanks that have hung in there so long that they appear to be “legitimate” organizations when in fact they are a danger to our democracy.

    In the coming years, no one is going to forget what they have done. They should be publicly shamed.

  17. Wit'sEnd says:

    Direct Action:

    On 10/10, I am going to Washington with a big banner with painted red caps: KOCH KILLS.

    I am going to wear my tuxedo tee-shirt, a top hat, and zombi makeup. I’ll hand out big phony 100 bills that say on the back:

    Climate Zombies bought YOUR vote! and a link to the New Yorker article about the Koch demons.

    If anybody wants to join me, let me know – I’ll get you a tuxedo tee and top hat!

  18. Damn, Gail, I wish I could be there with you!

  19. mike roddy says:

    Go get ‘em, Gail!

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    Intense cover …

  21. I, like many others, see this time as an opportunity to be heroes.
    We’re not doing very well as a whole, but there are groups and individuals who are working the problem… ala Costner.
    I hope technology will prevent us from going over the magic 2C… while we work at kicking the fossil fuel habit.
    In the end, if we don’t become people who see ma nature, and love and cherish her enough to live in harmony with her, it will be at best a siege.
    We’ll be in the history books folks… as heroes or fools. The choice is ours.

  22. john atcheson says:

    I think we’re missing something important about feedbacks. When we say “…before the earth passes tipping points that could trigger irreversible climate change…” we overlook the worst part of such tipping points — to wit: It’s not just that they’re irreversible, it’s that they are far more catastrophic. Feedbacks increase concentrations of GHG by a factor of two. In the Permian Die-off, where we lost as much as 90% of the marine fossil record and a comparable per cent of the terrestrial biodiversity, it took several hundred million years for the earth to recover the same level of biodiversity as it had prior to the feedbacks.

  23. Some European says:

    This is absolutely wonderful! 6 stars for this post!
    No way I could ever formulate better how I feel.
    I’m 25 and I consider myself part of generation Hot.
    I will send it to lots of people, my dad to start with.
    I hope it helps…

  24. Mike says:

    I think I just found my niece’s birthday present.

  25. Dear John,

    By some magical means could you please pound that information into President Obama’s head and into all the puddin’ heads in the Senate and Congress?

  26. Alan Grayson for President!!!!!!!!

  27. espiritwater says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you’ll but this makes me extremely angry at the ruling elite who don’t give a crap’s ass about our situation. They sit with their heads in the sands while our planet goes up in smoke and little children today will have to pay the price.

  28. espiritwater says:

    What time are you going, Wit’s End? We should ALL go.

  29. John McCormick says:

    I am getting a strong signal from some of these comments that we have entered a new dimension of climate destruction realization and public commenting.

    Rational people who believe what they read and hear about the ramping change in the earth’s climate realize, as does Dr. Solomon, shutting down civilization’s engines will not reverse climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions for a thousand years. (See her NOAA 2009 report). Thus, Mark’s book is more than predictive; it is prophetic.

    The developed world has about a decade to prepare. Maldives has no time to save its nation.

    Meanwhile, NCAA football is playing its annual fest and most TV commercials are trying to sell me a big car or truck.

    Building arks for our children is preposterous. But, helping them to prepare is the responsibility of parents, teachers and guardians.

    John McCormick

  30. Wit'sEnd says:

    I’m planning to go to this event (note, our own JRomm will be speaking!):

    *White House Work Party and Solar Delivery*

    10 October 2010 – 1:00pm – 2:30pm

    Come one, come all! Let’s give President Obama a hand in making the White House green. This will be a BIG job, and we’ll need a lot of help from other concerned global citizens who care about Earth’s (or “Eaarth’s”) future. On Sunday, October 10th, 2010 at 1pm, GWEN* will be helping to coordinate a national White House work party and solar delivery in Washington, DC. We are working with a coalition of more than 30 climate-concerned groups.

    We are inviting local, national and international climate organizations and concerned citizens to symbolically help President and Michelle Obama “green up” the White House. We’ll be bringing insulation, CF and LED light bulbs, solar panels (like President Carter once had), and a wind turbine. We’ll be suggesting bike racks, more bike lanes, geothermal power and more to President and Michelle Obama. Suggestions are welcome.

    NEW! Among the climate heroes speaking at this event are famed climatologist Dr. James Hansen, illustrious Bush Administration climate science whistle blower Rick Piltz, celebrated Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm, and acclaimed “Plan B 4.0″ author Lester Brown.

    While one goal is making the White House green, to serve as an example for other Americans, our key request of President Obama is to please be a strong, protective, proactive leader. We want him to tell misinformed citizens about the real, serious and urgent need to deal with climate change. In a democracy, citizens must understand why we need to rapidly shift to non-fossil fuels in order to forestall devestating consequences for us all in the coming years. You can also encourage President Obama to lead by signing our petition at http://www.change.org/global_warming_education_network. Our goal is 10,000 signatures by 10.10.10!

  31. Edward says:

    Terminal [the last] Generation.

    Under BAU we have 41 years until agriculture/civilization collapse.

  32. joyce says:

    Wit’s End–Will you be at the Lafayette Park Rally? It’s confusing just what time it will be. I’ve read 10 -11 on one website, 2 – 6PM on another–and another with another time I can’t remember at the moment. I’d love to meet up with you. I will happen to be there, coming cross country for a reunion that weekend.
    Don’t have any zombie costume, though. Maybe I can dress like a burned up tree…
    And for those who liked the video she linked–that’s Severn Suzuki (yes–David’s daughter) when she was 12, talking to the Earth Summit in Rio. She raised the $ through an environmental group she started at school, and went there to deliver the message. She’s just as amazing now.

  33. richard pauli says:

    We could also start in 1965 with the science report to President Johnson. Then later reports to Nixon, Carter, Bush etc… we knew long ago. Only in the late 80’s did the serious PR denialist campaign begin.

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=27355
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/31/AR2007013101808.html

    Anyone born after 1960 basically inherited a problem that we made for them, and they can never fix. The bigger question for our grandchildren will be “Can you share some food with us?”

  34. Tom Bennion says:

    Gail

    I recently had a similar impulse. I walked the streets in an elephant costume with a sign, “its time to stop flying”. The idea was that climate change is the ‘elephant in the room’ that no one seems to want to talk about. You can see it here:

    http://www.stopflying.org/

    I believe its time to make the necessary sacrifices for our kids, and we have to model them right away. Besides, I am terrified that, when my three young kids are teenagers, they are going to ask ‘what did you do’?

    And the kids love the costume.

    I will be out and about again on 10 October.

  35. Wit'sEnd says:

    Yay Joyce! I would love to do the whole day!

    10 October 2010 – 10:00am – 6:00pm

    Over 30 years ago President Jimmy Carter brought solar to the White House. This October 10th – the day of the 350 Campaign’s 10/10/10 global work party – we’re determined to bring it back.

    No leaders need to get to work on climate change more quickly than our leaders in Washington. That’s why the DC 10/10 Coalition – a partnership of over a dozen organizations – have united to organize a city-wide series of projects showcasing the range of ways DC is getting to work on climate solutions – namely clean energy, energy efficiency, public transit, and local agriculture.

    The centerpiece of the day will be a press conference and delivery of solar panels to the White House. In conjunction with the Global Work Party, the 350 campaign is working on the “Put Solar on It” campaign – an effort to get the world’s leaders to show their commitment to fighting climate change by putting solar panels on their residence. President Obama has yet to take up the challenge. So as we get to work in DC on October 10th, we’ll challenge the president to join us, and we’ll even bring him the materials.

    But we need a compelling messenger to help us issue the challenge. And who better to do that than the man who originally put solar on the White House, President Jimmy Carter. In addition to President Carter, invited speakers include Al Gore, Van Jones, Phaedra Ellis Lamkins, Reverend Lennox Yearwood.

    Confirmed Speakers include climatologist Dr. James Hansen, Joe Romm, Lester Brown, DC Councilmember Mary Cheh, Reverend Lennox Yearwood and Bush Administration climate whistle blower Rick Piltz.

    Here’ the schedule of the day’s events:

    10AM – 4PM – City Wide Climate Service Projects and Solutions Fairs – Click HERE for more info and to RSVP
    ***1PM – White House Solar Panel Delivery** – Open to Public (Lafayette Park) – Click HERE for more info and to RSVP
    5PM – Community Potluck – Click HERE for more info and to RSVP

  36. Wit'sEnd says:

    Tom, great idea, I loved the picture! I think we should all get elephant costumes and wear them to the airport. I totally agree – we should stop flying. When I was growing up, only politicians and movie stars flew regularly. It worked out okay. It should work even better now that people can confer online. We should ration fuel. Fuel (and a lot of other things) were rationed during WWII and people were okay with it, because it served a common purpose.

  37. Matt J. says:

    I am glad to see people taking the problem seriously. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is only the energy companies and their PR minions who are at fault. It is also the fault of those people highlighted in the shale oil ad so ironically displayed alongside this blog: the people who call themselves “rig friendly community”, supporting the raising of CO2 emissions for the sake of jobs.

    But the situation is even worse overseas. We see Russia ready to fight against Canada and Denmark for the right to drill oil in the Arctic, and China building a new coal-fired power plant every week. And both will insist they must do it.

  38. Matt J. says:

    “Generation Hot” is going to face much more trouble than described in this article. Just as men failed to get together to do the right thing and cut CO2 emissions, they will fail to do the right thing to mitigate the damage. Instead, it will be war, pestilence and famine that do it.

    It could be so bad, that people will view the disaster as the final proof that a socio-political system based on “free speech” cannot survive, as it was free speech the PR people so grossly abused to inflict war, pestilence and famine on their grandchildren.

  39. John McCormick says:

    RE # 33
    Richard, are you banking on the last day or can you imagine a steady decline in global food production and availability.

    Give me your timeline?

    John McCormick

  40. catman306 says:

    Here’s proof that about 40 years ago musicians and other early adopters understood the coming climate/pollution/environmental degradation/overpopulation problem that we are now experiencing.

    Nature’s Way Spirit 1970
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsTK2LHZKPQ

    What About Me? Quicksilver Messenger Service 1970
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENi04LAdmLY

    I’m developing a long video/song playlist called ‘Earth Fail Warnings’ which will include oldish songs warning of climate disruption and other environmental concerns. Any suggestions will be appreciated and can be made there since it is a work in progress.

    http://www.youtube.com/my_playlists?p=F021912A3436BA08

    Yes, ecocide is a criminal/act of war against man and Nature.

  41. Tom Bennion says:

    Protestors have just shut down the world’s largest coal port in Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/09/26/3022149.htm?section=business

    No elephants spotted.

  42. Deborah Stark says:

    catman:

    After the Gold Rush / Neil Young 1970
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FbFxuqk-Xw

    Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology) / Marvin Gaye 1971
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9BA6fFGMjI

  43. Edward says:

    41 John McCormick: I tried to post the whole thing but it didn’t work. Barton Paul Levenson did the math. He got the data from Dr. Aiguo Dai. Bart got a cubic equation for the % of land covered by desert. It reaches 70% desert in 2051. Bart wants to publish it as a peer reviewed paper but needs help. Sorry I haven’t seen the equation either. I’m waiting for the paper. I can try again in another comment, but pasted things seem to fail. It was in the comments to 2 articles at Real Climate.

  44. Edward says:

    John McCormick: Pasting doesn’t work. Here is the first URL:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/08/monckton-makes-it-up/comment-page-6/#comments
    comment # 253
    and here is the second:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/08/doing-it-yourselves/comment-page-2/#comments
    Comment 74
    I hope it works this time.

  45. Roger says:

    Appreciation: Thank you, Mark, for writing this sad but necessary book. Bravo!
    Thank you, Joe, for bringing it to our attention. Excellent, as usual!
    Thank you, WIT’S END for putting words into ACTION on 10.10.10!

    As John, Jeff, Tenney, Mike, espiritwater, and others have indicated above, it’s time that all of us begin to think seriously about direct action, IN UNISON, to stop a few greedy people from destroying the civilization that we have worked so hard, so long, to build!

    It’s time for some good old-fashioned human heroism—the demonstration of great courage in a time of need—to help humanity preserve a livable climate for the future.

    Who among us has the courage to go to our elected leader, President Obama, to ask for his help? We need his help to alert fellow citizens. We need his help to guide us to a sustainable future in cooperation with fellow humans in distant lands. We need his help…

    There are many people on my growing list of climate heroes—people who have worked hard to alert citizens who have been lulled into a false sense of serenity by the public relations efforts of the wealthy few and the relative level of inaction by our leaders.

    Heroes such as Bill McKibben, Ross Gelbspan, Jim Hansen, and the man who blew the whistle on W’s attempt to deep six billions of dollars of climate research, Rick Piltz, all deserve our deepest gratitude. But they can only do so much. It’s time to step things up!

    So, for all who are able, please join us on Sunday, October 10th at 1PM in front of the White House, as we work to ask President Obama to step up his climate leadership. For those who can’t come to Washington, please sign our petition to the president, asking him to educate and lead on climate. More information can be found at http://www.gwenet.org.

    It’s time for all readers of Climate Progress to ACT. Join the ranks of climate heroes now!

    Warm regards,

    Roger

  46. Richard Brenne says:

    My daughter Sarah was born in a Class 5 hurricane (yes, like Jumpin’ Jack Flash), just as Hurricane Andrew was slamming into Florida on August 24, 1992 (fortunately 2000 miles away).

    She grew up in Boulder, Colorado hearing about climate change from top scientists, often attending the panels I produced and moderated with them. Her summation about the validity of climate change science: Du-uh.

    One of her favorite events was “An Evening with Al Bartlett,” who doesn’t give any specific dates but who’s been preaching limits to growth in almost 1700 talks in all states and to Congress since 1969. Even though Al’s prognosis is about as dire as those mentioned above, somehow Sarah and her friends found it invigorating, that their generation could matter more than any other, even if it is the terminal generation as Edward (#33) suggests. (Que Sera, Sarah.)

    Right now Sarah is bicycling from Seattle back to her college in Squamish, British Columbia (and getting hammered by rain, but she has an excellent tent that weighs less than three pounds). It is a new college called Quest that asked all the students to read Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse” before this new school year.

    Sarah has vowed to never own or drive a car, and her summer job is selling bikes and this bicycling lifestyle to children and adults in one of America’s top independently-owned bike shops.

    Sarah’s done many things like hand out condoms in some of the world’s poorest communities, build trails and campgrounds in national parks, and volunteer to help developmentally disabled adults and the homeless for over a decade (her ideas, not mine). She’s seen glaciers disappear under her skis on three continents (her mother teaching at universities in Kathmandu and Moscow) since she was seven.

    When Bill O’Reilly and the country’s most notorious conservative hate group protested gay students at Boulder High School, she organized a completely positive event where all were welcome on the other side of the school. Hate was not met with hate, but was just allowed to shrivel up with no fuel left to ignite it.

    Sarah and all other young people are the source of my passion to help change what I can, and it is she and young people like her who most give me hope.

    And she regularly out-argues me about many issues, something I love.

  47. C. Vink says:

    Mark Hertsgaard is too kind for the Netherlands. The past ten years have been wasted by my country’s government with regard to the transition form fossil to solar.
    At the moment things are looking even worse: a very conservative-right minority coalition, depending on the support of a xenofobic, far-right party which doesn’t even believe in AGW (Geert Wilders’ PVV), will do extremely little to move things in the right direction; funds will be used to build more nuclear reactors, not for greening the tax system and economy.

    A pity and a shame for the ‘Lowlands’ of Europe. The coastal zone, with its densely populated and heavily industrialized southern part, will probably have to be abandoned in the long run, not to speak of the possibility that more than half of Holland will turn into Atlantis – and the Dutch are doing less and less to prevent this national drama and mega-loss of capital and cultural heritage of historical proportions looming on the horizon of the North-Sea…

  48. John McCormick says:

    RE #46

    Edward thank you for the links to RealClimate and Barton’s calculations.

    It will be all about food availability, won’t it.

    Sea level rise is real and slow motion. Starvation is a matter of months, a few years and certainly days. Hard to fathom all that here in America but I have traveled to very poor countries and learned a bit about the politics of hunger. Now, we’ll be schooling ourselves on the climate of hunger.

    John McCormick

  49. Paulm says:

    Directt Climate Action Now

    Anyone seen the latest Robin Hood
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0955308/

  50. paulm says:

    So Canada to gain from warming climate. A rude awaking. MSM getting there…CBC radio headline news this morning….

    >>>
    “Climate change is affecting communities right across Canada….”

    East coast…
    “Military set to aid communities struck by Igor”
    “Harper shocked by damage-‘I have never seen anything like this,’ PM says”

    West coast….
    “Storm pummels Vancouver Island, B.C. coast”

    Central….
    “Saskatchewan still struggling from massive floods earlier in the month…”

  51. Some European says:

    I’d like to coin this term: generacide.
    It sounds particularly well in French.
    Dear parents of the world (older than about 35), don’t take it personal. My generation is and will be very angry at your generation. You’ve left us no choice.
    You’ve committed a generacide.

    I agree with other commenters that something is definitely in the making here at CP. Revolutionary forces are being attracted. It looks like we are mutually convincing each other.
    Let’s make it happen, everybody!

  52. John Mason says:

    Richard #48,

    Your daughter Sarah is someone to justifiably be very proud of indeed. What a fantastic lass!

    Cheers – John

  53. Windsong says:

    Wit’s End, there are groups here in Delaware who are very, very concerned about Global Warming (finally!!) Please share the information concerning the 10/10 event with them. (I will also try to get in touch with them about it). This is their names/email addresses, etc: Chad Tolman at chadtolman@verizon.net (He’s a retired scientist who is passionate about this issue!). Also, http://www.lwv.org I will try to find information on other groups also. Good luck!

  54. Marc Hudson says:

    The Cronkite story so interested me I googled it and ended up back at Climate Progress.

    btw, Climate Progress is an absolutely crucial resource. Massive props to Joe and all the phenomenally well-informed and intelligent commenters, who I know are spending the most of their time trying to DO something about this godawful mess our species wants to wallow in.

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/07/17/walter-cronkite-the-last-journalist-dies-at-92/#comment-99547

  55. catman306 says:

    Sorry about my mistake with the URL for the old ecology song playlist. This should work:

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F021912A3436BA08

    catman 306 at gmail dot com (spelled out to thwart the bots) to send suggestions for songs to be added this playlist. They will be appreciated by many, I hope.

    Ecology by marvin gaye will be added momentarily.

  56. Wit'sEnd says:

    Thank you Windsong, will do!

  57. re: #48

    Dear Richard,

    How blessed you are to have such a great daughter.
    It is so sad that we are not able to leave them the marvelous planet we had when we were their age.

  58. catman306 says:

    The draft during the Viet Nam war united many dissimilar groups of people to protest and finally cause, or at least contribute to the outcome. I suggest that concern for the environment can be raised to that level of a uniter. Everyone needs a healthy environment. Rich, poor, old, young, people of all races and religions, everyone loses if the climate continues to go to hell.

    Sooner of later, everyone will get drafted into this fight to save a living planet. They need to know that ‘later’ isn’t that far off.

  59. Sime says:

    Gail, Tom

    I rather suspect most readers here will totally agree with your stance visa vie aviation.

    I collect quotes from individuals with regard to climate change as these individuals (particularly those in positions of power) should be held accountable in the future for what they said, particularly when their chosen stance is tantamount to genocide.

    Below are quotes from a single individual within the aviation industry that demonstrate the problems we have to overcome, in this case total ignorance (or pretend ignorance which amounts to the same thing).

    “Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it’s all a load of bullshit. But it’s amazing the way the whole fucking eco-warriors and the media have changed. It used to be global warming, but now, when global temperatures haven’t risen in the past 12 years, they say ‘climate change’.”

    – Michael O’Leary – (Foul mouthed) CEO Ryan Air – 12/09/20

    “… the United Nations as “one of the world’s most useless organizations”, its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as “utter tosh”, and US politician Al Gore as someone who “couldn’t even get fucking re-elected” after a boom.”

    – Michael O’Leary – (Foul mouthed) CEO Ryan Air – 12/09/2010

    “The scientific community has nearly always been wrong in history anyway. In the Middle Ages, they were going to excommunicate Galileo because the entire scientific community said the Earth was flat… I mean, it is absolutely bizarre that the people who can’t tell us what the fucking weather is next Tuesday can predict with absolute precision what the fucking global temperatures will be in 100 years’ time. It’s horseshit.”

    – Michael O’Leary – (Foul mouthed) CEO Ryan Air – 12/09/2010

    Original article here:

    http://www.desmogblog.com/ryan-air-ceo-global-warming-bullst

    This individual is of course spouting total BS, but there will be members of the general public will nod in agreement with this type of garbage…

    Until such individuals are firmly dealt with by society at large and put firmly in their place with regards to this kind of blatant political posturing and outright lying this nonsense will continue to the detriment of us all.

    It’s quite an insite into the mind of O’Leary, it would appear to be such that he would probably fit right in with the “Genocide Only Party” in the US.

  60. John McCormick says:

    Michael O’Leary…an underdeveloped monkey gone wrong. Should have never left the tree.

    John McCormick

  61. Bob Doublin says:

    http://www.prestoregister.com/link.php/EarthatRisk/1

    An upcoming event in San Francisco. This will be videotaped and the DVD made available for sale. Also the book Deep Green Resistance will be published in Feb 2011. The Beltway is not the default position of humanity.

  62. Many thanks to Joe Romm for posting my article and also to the many readers who offered comments. There was so much thoughtful and socially engaged commentary offered in response to “Meet Generation Hot” that I can’t try to respond to every point, but one in particular I do want to address: the suggestion that I may have conveyed a sense of hopelessness by pointing out that a substantial amount of climate change is now locked in for the coming fifty years, even if humanity were to slash greenhouse gas emissions starting today. I hope that is not the case; it certainly was not my intention.

    I wrestled with this question throughout my four years of researching and writing my book, HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth. How to portray the scientific reality faithfully without leaving people paralyzed by despair? My solution, as you’ll see if you read HOT, was to focus most of the book on how we can best respond to the circumstances now facing us. That is, I devoted the bulk of HOT to my eyewitness reporting on how certain cutting-edge leaders around the world are already putting in place wise protections against sea level rise and the near-certainty of harsher heat waves, stronger storms, deeper droughts and so on.

    Frankly, I was surprised by how many practical success stories there are–not only in the Netherlands, which I mention in the article, but in west Africa, where some of the poorest farmers in the world have begun adapting to climate change (though they don’t know the term) by growing trees amidst their fields of sorghum and millet, thus shading their crops and boosting productivity while also increasing fertility and water retention. The fact is, there is a lot we can do to protect our societies from the coming onslaught of climate change, but first we have to grasp that this is essential, and feasible.

    Of course, we also have to re-double our efforts to halt and reverse global warming, or even the most ambitious adaptation measures will soon be overwhelmed. That’s what I call the new “double imperative” of the second era of global warming in which we now find ourselves. I wish things were different, of course; who doesn’t? But we make history under conditions not of our choosing. In any case, as I write in my column for The Nation this week, the surest antidote to despair over our climate change predicament is to join with others to take action against it. Which is why I’m especially glad to see how many commenters plan to be part of the Global Work Party against climate change on October 10. Getting active, pushing the envelope, pressing our politicians to do their utmost or be voted out–that’s the best course of action on behalf of my daughter and the rest of Generation Hot.