Poll: Majority of Americans Understand Global Warming Worsens Extreme Weather and Want Nation to Act

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"Poll: Majority of Americans Understand Global Warming Worsens Extreme Weather and Want Nation to Act"

Yale released the above chart in November (which I posted at the time).  Now they have released “the second and third reports from our latest national survey on Americans’ climate change and energy beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behavior.”  Key findings:

  • Public understanding that global warming is happening stayed at 63 percent, while belief that it is caused mostly by human activities increased three points since May 2011, to 50 percent.
  • A majority of Americans (57%) now disagree with the statement, “With the economy in such bad shape, the US can’t afford to reduce global warming” – an 8 point increase in disagreement since May 2011.
  • 65 percent said that global warming is affecting weather in the United States.
  • 58 percent of Americans said that the record heat waves last summer strengthened their belief that global warming is occurring, up 4 points since May 2011.
  • 38 percent of Americans said they have personally experienced the effects of global warming, up 4 points since May of 2011.
  • Americans trust “climate scientists” (74%) as a source of information about global warming more than any other group, including “other kinds of scientists” (65%) and the mainstream media (38%)

This matches September polling by ecoAmerica, which found:

  • 69% of Americans Know “Weather Conditions (Such as Heat Waves and Droughts) Are Made Worse by Climate Change
  • 57% of Americans understand “If we don’t do something about climate change now, we can end up having our farmland turned to desert.”

That public understanding certainly matches the science:

We know from a major 2011 study that “human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas.”

As predicted, the warming has put more water vapor in the air, making deluges more intense.  Climatologist Kevin Trenberth explains:

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE OR COMMENT


There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms,

Obviously, since it’s getting hotter, we’re worsening extreme heat waves — both in intensity and duration and scale (the area the heat wave covers).  For the same reason, we know humans are making droughts worse — in intensity, duration, and scale.

Actual observations reveal that since 1950, the global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74% of global land area per decade (see here).  Heck, our best scientists are already using global warming to help them predict dangerous extreme weather (see “USGS Expert Explains How Global Warming Likely Contributes to East Africa’s Brutal Drought“).

The reinsurance industry understands all this (see Munich Re: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change”).

The American public can’t miss the extreme weather because it is everywhere now and increasingly off the charts — see NOAA Chief: U.S. Record of a Dozen Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in One Year Is “a Harbinger of Things to Come.”

Of course, what’s to come is the real issue, since we still have control over that.  We’re facing 5 to 10 times the warming this century that we’ve seen in the past half century.

The time to act was a long time ago, but further delay is suicidal  — see IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy”

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42 Responses to Poll: Majority of Americans Understand Global Warming Worsens Extreme Weather and Want Nation to Act

  1. Peter Mizla says:

    Lets hope this trend continues

    local news from Weather Underground

    Yearly rainfall record set at Hartford…

    After Wednesday/S storm… with a total of 2.61 inches… the yearly
    rainfall for 2011 reached 66.97 inches at Bradley International
    Airport. This sets an all time yearly rainfall record for the
    Hartford area. The previous record was 65.35 inches set in 2008.

    Three very rainy months helped to establish this record. The ninth
    wettest June occurred with 6.75 inches… followed by the second
    wettest August at 11.67 inches… then 9.65 inches of rain fell in
    September for the fifth wettest on record.

    There are still about three more weeks left for 2011… so more
    rainfall will only add to this record. Once the year is complete…
    this report will be updated with the final 2011 yearly rainfall.

    Records for the Hartford area date back to 1905.

    all that extra energy= water vapor- more precip-

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    One thing I’ve always wanted to see is a scale , a yardstick . on how our burning stacked up against all the other forcing events in the record. We got it this week -

    The human-caused release of increased carbon dioxide into the atmosphere also presents climate scientists with something they’ve never seen in the 65 million year record of carbon dioxide levels – a drastic rate of increase that makes it difficult to predict how rapidly the Earth will respond. In periods when carbon dioxide has increased due to natural causes, the rate of increase averaged about .0001 parts per million per year – in other words, one hundred parts per million every million years. Fossil fuel burning is now causing carbon dioxide concentrations to increase at two parts per million per year.

    “Humans have overwhelmed the natural, slow changes that occur on geologic timescales,” Hansen said.

    http://www.sciencecodex.com/read/paleoclimate_record_points_toward_potential_rapid_climate_changes-82848

    • Leif says:

      One thing for sure, because the earth and especially the oceans, is a huge heat sink the climatic disruption will be a lot slower than than the forcing induced. This works in the ecocidal fossil industries favor, unfortunately not humanity’s or Earth’s life support systems. However, Nature bats last…

    • Colorado Bob says:

      2010 Spike in Greenland Ice Loss Lifted Bedrock, GPS Reveals
      ScienceDaily (Dec. 9, 2011) — An unusually hot melting season in 2010 accelerated ice loss in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons — and large portions of the island’s bedrock rose an additional quarter of an inch in response.
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111209123214.htm

      • Colorado Bob says:

        ” In a presentation December 9 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, Bevis described the study’s implications for climate change.

        “Pulses of extra melting and uplift imply that we’ll experience pulses of extra sea level rise,” he said. “The process is not really a steady process.” “

        • Lionel A says:

          Along with pulses of tectonic activity.

          The fools that run the GOP, and wishy-washy Dems, understand these links not.

          The oceans expand with heat and melting glacier ice, the recent pause will surely reverse, wind strength increases wave heights and strong storms batter coasts more frequently, as Scotland has just experienced with unusually strong winds that swept over the Hebrides again with the last as recent as 2005 .

          The chances of a tectonic readjustment causing a sea-floor land slip adding to these problems, I think, are not that slim.

          The law of unintended consequences writ large.

    • Peter Mizla says:

      This is what is truly amazing- the amount of forcing- of C02 Into the Atmosphere- now 2ppm on average a year. The PETM and the End Permian events where fast geologically- but this is off the scale.

      We will we begin to see even more strange anomalies this decade? Will the transition we are in now from the stable Holocene to a more chaotic climatic future be far more rapid?

  3. Peter Capen says:

    Dear Joe,

    While public opinion polls are all fine and good, they are essentially meaningless if their results do not translate into voter response at election time. Unless the 2012 elections bring a stunning rebuke to Republicans and their “head in the sand” policies when it comes to accepting the scientific consensus on the threat of global warming and start working on meaningful solutions to confronting its challenge, there is little hope we can change the alarming trajectory the planet is now on. Ultimately, it is less the fault of the ignorant, self-serving officials we put in office and the useless mainstream press coverage on such critical issues than it is that of the electorate, which seems incapable of demanding real change in government policies. Moreover, no matter which party comes to power in Washington, it is the electorate that must hold politicians “feet to the fire” to move quickly to address the crisis we face from a rapidly warming climate. What is at stake in no less than the horrific future our children and grandchildren will face if we continue in denial of scientific reality. The longer we wait to confront the challenge of global warming, the more costly and painful it will be and the less likely we are to be able to solve it.

    Sincerely,

    Peter Capen

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Another illustration of how democracy in a capitalist economy inevitably become ‘demo-crazy’. Real power belongs to money. It buys and sells politicians, whole parties and policies. In the US the candidate that spends the most almost invariably prevails. The vast bulk of contributions come from the rich, who do not undermine their class, economic or tribal interests. Voting is voluntary, so the determined zealots of the ‘religious’ Right are ahead from the start. Each vote is of equal value, even if the voter be a dullard, an ignoramus or a bigot. Not a recipe for enlightened policy. Oh, and the MSM is entirely Rightwing, often insanely so, and acts as a crude and unapologetic brainwashing system for the interests, economic and ideological, of its owners. Is it any wonder that we are stuffed?

  4. Lazarus says:

    Interesting that they also recognised snowfall as a possible consequence to global warming.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    The Point

    A rather famous philosopher (mentioning his name would distract us from the present point) said something to this effect: the point is not to merely understand the world, but to change it.

    One question is, what can and will we do in order to try to inject climate change into (more into) the forefront of discussion?

    As I commented under a slightly earlier post — the one about China — tomorrow is the next Republican debate, hosted by ABC. I’m hoping that ClimateProgress will do a post today, or tomorrow AM, addressed and directed to ABC News and, ideally, to the specific ABC Newsperson who will be moderating the debate. I explain the idea and point in my earlier comment.

    Again, the point is not merely to understand the world, but to change it. There are things we CAN do. Will we do them?

    (Too, where is Curtis Brainard on this? Has he written anything recently about the dismal lack of discussion about climate change in the Repub debates, and has he done anything to encourage and prompt the news media, including the particular hosts of the debates, to pose climate change questions? Perhaps Joe and Curtis could team up with the major scientific organizations to do something tactical, and effective, to prompt the news media to pose the critical climate change questions to the Repub candidates?)

    Be Well,

    Jeff

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      That unnameable philosopher was also remarkably prescient about capitalism’s ability to destroy nature, as well as all heretofore existing social arrangements. His theory of ‘metabolic rift’ between the city and the country presaged, by about 100 years, the stirrings of the environmental movement, which, in the decades since, has achieved so very, very, little.

      • John McCormick says:

        Mulga, Karl Marx?

        He believed that: ““Man lives from nature, i.e., nature is his body, and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it if he is not to die. To say that man’s physical and mental life is linked to nature simply means that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.”

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Excellent quote, John. But Marx was merely stating the bleeding obvious, what was plain to every enlightened thinker since the dawn of human history. It was the arrival of the religiously sanctified (subdue the earth)lunacy of Man the Creator of God in His own image, perverted into the insatiable greedy lunacy of capitalist destructiveness that set us on our path to self-destruction, a journey now nearing its terminus.

    • FedUpWithDenial says:

      Pose critical climate change questions to the Repub candidates? Really?

      It would be like posing questions about the convergence of infinite series to people who don’t accept the reality of the number system.

    • FedUpWithDenial says:

      Jeff, I’ve been reading your commentary posts since approximately the end of the last ice age, and I agree with almost everything you say. But…

      Do you think ClimateProgress could do a post today, or tomorrow, or anytime at all, addressed and directed to ABC News (and, ideally, to the specific ABC Newsperson who will be moderating such-and-such debate) and have it actually heard and acted upon?

      ClimateProgress broadcasts (if you will) all the time, day in and day out, in an omnidirectional mode, to the entire world, including ABC News and its newspersons, and if the latter are not getting the message after all these years, it’s because (like the mainstream media generally) they’re not interested in hearing it. With their heads in the sand, keen to do the bidding of their corporate masters, ever obedient to the will of the Kochtopus, they’ve turned a deaf ear to science and reason. Exactly whose doors are we supposed to beat down to get the message across?

      To address specific posts or comments to ABC News in particular, to Republican candidates for President, to Congress, or even to the White House (which, after all, is mostly on our side anyway) would be, I suspect, to undertake a fool’s errand.

      Great comments, though, that you write, and many of us are beating our brains out to figure out how we might accomplish what you’re pointing toward.

      Here we’re faced with somewhat of a cart-and-horse problem. Said famous philosopher, I suspect, would interject that correct understanding of the world is absolutely basic and must precede any attempts to seriously change anything. Science and reason are indispensable to that understanding. Virtually the entire U.S. Republican Party, about half of Congress, and almost 50 percent of the American people reject science in favor of standard-brand (i.e. loony-tunes) religious fundamentalism and associated harebrained ideologies including a belief in the magic power of the unregulated (i.e. “free”) market to correct all ills and stimulate unending economic growth and prosperity. These ideas are crazier than trying to fly an airplane without wings. Most Americans won’t wake up to how crazy they are until, in fact, the airplane crashes…

      I’m talking about both the people and the ideas.

      So we’ve got a lot of work to do as far as getting at least fifty-five percent of the human race to understand how the world (principally the climate system including atmosphere, oceans, ice sheets, and biosphere) actually works. Ignorantly and foolishly adding CO2 to the atmosphere until the entire system crashes is not, of course, the way to do it, as you well know.

  6. Solar Jim says:

    In a corrupted plutocracy (one that may even be ecocidal) it does not matter what the majority thinks. Polls have consistently shown over the past quarter century most citizens favor renewable energy (or “clean,” sustainable, alternative, solar, safe, distributed, domestic, secure, non-polluting, ecologically sound or any other terms of language used to describe what we are not doing).

    If the public truly desires this outcome then we should revert back to true representative democracy by eliminating ALL government influence by centralized money, including financed lobbying by concentrated domestic and foreign “vested interests,” or from transnational corporatism.

    Nothing less than our future survival is at stake, whether its food or increasing activity of plate tectonics from human melting of polar ice caps, not to mention democracy, liberty, and justice.

    It is no secret who the richest transnationals are. They provide fuels of war, and now perversely our sustenance via a corrupted concept of “energy.” Along with the corrupt construct of “investment banking,” and central banking enablers, these entities control much of global public policy, including hundreds of billions of dollars of annual, fossil, government subsidies.

    Government by money is death of representative democracy. Yet representative democracy may be the only force conceivable for addressing numerous present threats from economic and ecologic decline.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Jim, you are, in my opinion, quite right, but nothing will be achieved until the great concentrations of money are broken up and redistributed to the 99% from whom they were stolen. The 1% will resist that with every deadly trick in their arsenal. But unless and until that redistribution occurs, and money power is replaced with moral power, humanity is doomed.

      • David Smith says:

        I don’t think one needs to actively redistribute wealth. What we need to do is create “no-wealth” zones. The big one right now is the government. Buying government in a democracy should be an act of treason; it shifts the government against the will of the people in an artificial, un-democratic way.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          So what do you do with the entirely business owned MSM? How do you stop them brainwashing the public? What do you do about capital flight, or bond market attacks on countries whose policies the rich do not approve of? What do you do about union-busting, wage cuts and ‘off-shoring’ of jobs to slave wage regimes? The concentration of wealth, mostly hereditary, all un-’earned’ in any meaningful sense, is the root of most of our problems. In fact a market economy can only work decently and to humanity’s benefit if wealth and therefore market power and access is far more egalitarianly distributed, otherwise the rich simply pervert the supply and demand mechanism to their advantage and the detriment of all others.

    • CW says:

      I could not agree more – the influence of money is hugely negative.

      I would add though that the two-party system is also a barrier to progress. It is the filter through which all these polls and all voter intentions are sifted.

      A significant fraction of those who said that warming made weather events worse will still vote for a Republican or a conservative Democrat due to other priorities of those voters and a lack of options, including the option of a party that might be socially or fiscally conservative but who will support aggressive environmental policies.

      On the other end of the spectrum, those who strongly agree (the navy blue in the chart above), don’t have the option of an even more progressive party. They have to vote for co-opted, confused and cowardly Dems.

      A multi-party system also holds the promise of reducing the stakes. If nobody can “win it all”, then politics becomes all about compromise.

      The money issue is related to the two-party issue of course. If you can fix the electoral and party funding model, you can create the opportunity for multiple parties.

  7. Michael T says:

    Climatologist Michael Mann recently gave a TED talk at PSU:

    http://climatecrocks.com/2011/12/07/michael-manns-ted-talk/

  8. Michael T says:

    NOAA released their November climate analysis report:

    State of the Climate National Overview – November 2011

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2011/11

    Three states, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts had their warmest fall (Sep-Nov) on record:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/national/Statewidetrank/201109-201111.gif

    • John McCormick says:

      North Atlantic Oscillation at work here early in the 2011 winter.

      Lots to read about North Atlantic, Eastern Arctic dynamic. Fascinating, really.

      Start with Jeff Masters’ blog on Dr. Overland’s 2010 talk on NOA.

    • Peter Mizla says:

      The Autumn in New England was very mild. My allergies are driving me into a new state of misery.

      The Pre- Halloween snowstorm was a brief anomaly.

      The trees are bare here now in Connecticut- but the damage done from that aforementioned storm is eerie-

      is this the ‘New Future’

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The pluto-kleptocrats are granting us the opportunity to witness thousands of years of climate change in but one lifetime.

        • Colorado Bob says:

          The global temperature has risen by 0.56 degrees Celsius since 1950. Without the cooling effect of atmospheric aerosols – particles, such as soot, suspended in the air – it is estimated that it would have risen by 0.85 degrees.

          The new method of balancing incomings and outgoings confirms to a high degree of certainty that human activity has had a dominant influence – at least 74 per cent – on climate warming, Knutti said.

          “Changes in solar activity, which are always being cited as an argument, only played a small part.”

          He describes the results of his global energy balance sheet as “a large piece of the puzzle, that fits in very neatly, and completes the picture we had up to now of human influence on the climate”.

          “Scientifically, the high degree of consistency in the picture of the amounts of energy coming in from outside and those taken up by the oceans, is enormously important.“

          http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/specials/climate_change/energy/Energy_balance_sheet_gives_new_climate_clues.html?cid=31709410

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Those numbers are certainly going in the right direction and perhaps the two to watch are the 38% who say they have personally experienced the results and the 74% who most trust climate scientists.

    The 38% means reality is starting to exercise its power and the 74% means that a lot of all those billions of denier $$$ has been wasted. What a terrible shame!

    But the really mind boggling question here is why any Republican candidate who wants to be President of the USA would be appealing to a MINORITY, ME

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      It all depends who turns up to vote, and where the balance of money spent falls.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Mulga, I agree with your first proposition but not the second. There is more than money involved here. Why spend your money appealing to a minority when you could woo the majority or the centre and attract a broader base of support?

        I suspect some serious cases of megalomania where people like the Koch brothers and the candidates genuinely believe they can change the beliefs of others or force them to deny the climate reality in front of their eyes. The longitudinal data says it is an irrational, and certainly unsucessful, endeavour ME

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          I hope that you are correct, Merrelyn, but I’ve seen no evidence that the money power does not win every time. They buy acquiescence to elite rule, through incessant PR and MSM brainwashing. It works. And, if required, they carry out clever PR ‘false flag’ operations like Plan Obama, where a populace tired of the excesses of the Bush II regime were conned into returning Bush III.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            Look at the data Mulga.

            I’ll back the data before dogmatism any time. As I wrote above, those billions of funding to reinforce the denier stance achieved only a small blip downwards in common sense in USA and it is now returning to something approaching what we would expect from a normally diverse population.

            I’m sure the $ loss is no skin off their backs but the big pushers must be wondering what to try next.

            As for calling Obama the Bush III, I would again consult the actual data. Given the political situation in which he found himself over the last 2 years, compare his achievements with those of Bush II.

            Yep, he’s not perfect and has not been perfect and the debacle at Durban has not helped him in any way. In fact the whole thing has been an indictment of the USA, its ambitions and the way in which it conducts its so-called diplomacy and negotiations. You can blame Obama if you want but any USA President is so enmeshed in his country’s history and culture he has little room to act radically but Bush III he is not.

            The current structure of the UN and the distrustful, if not paranoid, climate of the times have brought us to this dire situation and speaking personally, the whole thing makes me sick.

            It would help if we could all stop individualizing our problems, the blame game as Sou puts it, and start putting the whole climate catastrophe into its proper context, that which contains more variables than I have space for here. I just don’t think black and white thinking is going to help anybody, ME

          • adelady says:

            Merrelyn, I think that Australians tend to underestimate the power of the merchants of fear, uncertainty, doubt in the USA.

            With comfortable compulsory voting, we might _say_ ‘a pox on on both your houses’ as we irritably grab the pencil stub to fill in those pesky ballot papers. But we vote anyway.

            For the US, FUD can keep people from turning up at all. They can be kept from the polling booths by the feeling that it’s not worth the effort. And the ‘comfort’ issue of handy neighbourhood polling stations staffed by neutral, polite, well-trained professionals doesn’t apply to far too many regions in the US. And that keeps a whole heap of others away.

            In Australia, ‘disenfranchisement’ is just an uncomfortable feeling. In the US, it’s a too common reality. And the money? In that poisonous environment, money can be focused on enthusing certain minorities in a way that keeps others befuddled or disengaged, often both. The first lot turn up in droves. The others stay away in even bigger numbers.

            Why do you think it’s the representatives of the well-heeled groups that are the agitators for ‘voluntary’ voting in Australia?

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    Joe -
    This week in melting -
    For the first time, GPS confirms the melt :
    2010 Spike in Greenland Ice Loss Lifted Bedrock, GPS Reveals

    ScienceDaily (Dec. 9, 2011) — An unusually hot melting season in 2010 accelerated ice loss in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons — and large portions of the island’s bedrock rose an additional quarter of an inch in response.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111209123214.htm

    That 1/4 of an inch happened in just 5 months.

    Rapid retreat of Chile glacier captured in images

    “We see steady but accelerating retreat of glaciers” in the tropical Andes, Barer said. His calculations show that those glaciers are losing 1 percent of their water a year.

    According to a recent study by British and Swedish scientists who analyzed about 350 glaciers in Patagonia, all but two of the glaciers have receded significantly since the late 1800s and have been shrinking at a faster rate during the past three decades. The study was published in April in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    Neil Glasser, a British glaciologist and one of the authors of the study, said he has also noticed in satellite images over the years that the Jorge Montt Glacier has been shrinking unusually quickly.

    http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2011/12/07/9279813-rapid-retreat-of-chile-glacier-captured-in-images?threadId=3291195&commentId=60614868#c60614868

    French Alpine glaciers in retreat

    In the late 1960s/early 1970s, the ice fields slipping down Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains of the European range covered some 375 sq km.

    By the late 2000s, this area had fallen to about 275 sq km.

    The research has been presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the world’s largest annual gathering of Earth scientists.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16025568

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    Back to that Greenland bounce last year, here’s 8:00 mins. of that exact spot, shot from the air as the 1/4 inch rise was getting underway. -

    VLJ Embraer Phenom 100 Landing at Narsarsuaq Airport in Greenland (BGBW)

    At the same time .

    Uploaded by CorporateFlightMgt on Jul 8, 2010

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUpCQsP5ijg

  12. jcwinnie says:

    Hey! No one asked me. I’m glad to know the majority in the survey recognize the consequences of ignoring our carbon footprint.

  13. FedUpWithDenial says:

    If we can safely conclude from these poll numbers that a solid majority of Americans finally do grasp the climate/severe-weather link, and also the connection between the observed climate changes and anthropogenic CO2 emissions (implied by the call for “action”), this is practically a revolution.

    Before anyone declares victory in this war, though, we might want to consider the enormity of the task humanity now faces. It’s doubtful whether more than a small minority of Americans understand the scale of the action required to seriously combat global warming. Truly, we are at war with ourselves, and half-measures will not be enough. The worsening extremes of today’s climate are taking us beyond anything in our historical experience and are threatening our capacity to feed ourselves and maintain stable societies. Heroic efforts will be needed just to prevent rapid further deterioration of the climate, let alone reverse the changes in the sense of restoring the cool, moist, and generally mild climatic conditions of the Holocene, now becoming history.

    The first difficulty is the great power of CO2 itself as a global-warming gas, including its long atmospheric lifetime; while the second is the sheer amount of the gas that we have added to the atmosphere in the past and are adding now at current rates of fossil-fuel usage, which are accelerating due to the industrialization of countries like China and India. The amount of CO2 we have added thus far is enough, when all the feedbacks are considered, to kick the climate system into an entirely different and much hotter state that could be inhospitable to the global civilization, with the world’s croplands and breadbaskets transformed into nonproductive dust bowls and seas some tens of meters higher than at present.

    CO2 is the earth’s fundamental greenhouse gas—“the principal control knob determining Earth’s temperature”—extremely potent in trace atmospheric concentrations, without which nearly all water vapor would freeze out and Earth would be a lifeless frozen snowball at about the mean temperature of central Antarctica today. (The snowball-Earth temperature is fixed by the Stefan-Boltzmann Radiation Law—a consequence of the earth’s high reflectivity [albedo 0.8 to 0.95] in the icebound condition.) Humans have now added sufficient CO2 to the atmosphere to boost the atmospheric concentration by about 40% relative to pre-industrial times—a huge increase. As of 2010 the global CO2 emissions rate was a staggering 90 million metric tons a day, adding enough of the gas to the atmosphere in about 17 days’ time to make a solid cubic kilometer of dry ice! (Hint: In the metric system, one cubic centimeter of water weighs one gram by definition, so we say that the density of water is 1 gram per cubic centimeter. By extension, one cubic meter of water weighs one metric ton, and one cubic kilometer of water weighs one gigaton. Since the density of frozen carbon dioxide [dry ice] is about 1.5 grams per cubic centimeter, one cubic kilometer of dry ice weighs approximately 1.5 gigatons.)

    So in other words: a CO2 emissions rate of 90 million metric tons a day times just 17 days equals 1,530,000,000 metric tons or ~1.5 gigatons, sufficient to make a new dry ice cube one cubic kilometer in size about every two and one-half weeks. That’s the equivalent of a cubic mile of frozen carbon dioxide about every 10 weeks, or more than five cubic miles of the stuff in a year’s time. Over the next 25 years, at this rate, humans will pump enough additional CO2 into the atmosphere to make a dry-ice cube more than 500 cubic kilometers (120 cubic miles) in size, weighing in excess of 750 gigatons. What did you think all those mountains of coal were ultimately turning into—besides the emitted smoke, PAHs and other carcinogens, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and ozone along with aerosolized toxic mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and radioactive heavy metals to give you cancer, asthma, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, and brain damage? (Cf. brain rot; See: Rick Perry, James Inhofe, Freeman Dyson, Hal Lewis, Richard S. Lindzen, etc. It gets worse in over-55 age group.)

    Due to the very long atmospheric lifetime of CO2, yesterday’s CO2 emissions are heating the planet today and will continue to do so far into the future, making the historical U.S. contribution (amounting to 29.46 percent of the world total between 1900 and 2004, or about 314,000 million tons) a major factor in current and future global warming. That’s enough CO2 from America alone during the twentieth century to make a dry-ice cube more than 200 cubic kilometers (48 cubic miles) in size. Thousands of years from now, about one-fifth of that (the equivalent of a dry-ice cube of volume equal to 40 cubic kilometers or 9.6 cubic miles) will still be in the atmosphere—America’s dark legacy to a damaged world, if the long-suffering human race survives the resultant crisis of climate destabilization at all.

  14. People who are skeptical of the threats of climate change and may think it is a liberal plot spearheaded by Al Gore should visit the website of “Republicans for Environmental Protection” (REP.org). This is a conservative group that only endorses Republican candidates. Because so many Republicans are in denial about climate change, the group was only able to endorse 4% of the Republican candidates in the 2010 elections. The group is trying to convince Republican politicians to be concerned about climate change and to promote steps to reduce it.

    On tonight’s NBC News there was a segment discussing that 2011 is going to go down as a record year for severe weather events and for the loss of lives due to these events.

    The polar ice caps and glaciers are melting faster than eve the worst case scenarios of climate scientists.

    How many wake-up calls do we need before we start taking action.

    While Lester Brown, who has written many books about current climate and other threats, recently argued that we need an 80% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, there was a 6% increase last year. The chances of averting an unprecedented climate catastrophe are becoming very slim.

  15. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Adelady under #9, I am hardly some naieve spring chicken. I have also lived on the boundary of the black and white sections of Philadelphia where we watched the black Dems in big trucks driving the streets with megaphones yelling “Get out the vote”.

    My point was that while Mulga makes great debating points about the intentions of the Right as he calls them, the longitudinal data indicates that they haven’t been very successful.

    When you deal with the reality of human affairs on the ground as I do, you find that they do not come in black and white nor only in all shades of grey, they also come in a veritable range of brilliant colours, ME

  16. rjs says:

    i really wish my neighbors would stop driving their cars & heating their houses…there oughtta be a law…