New Scientist Special Report: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’

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"New Scientist Special Report: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’"

The NY Times isn’t the only major publication going apocalyptic on climate change. New Scientist has a new dedicated issue that makes the Times’ stories seem down-right Pollyannish.

Nearly 3 years ago, the late William R. Freudenburg discussed in a AAAS presentation how new scientific findings since the 2007 IPCC report are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is “worse than previously expected,” rather than “not as bad as previously expected.” As he said at the time:

Reporters need to learn that, if they wish to discuss ‘both sides’ of the climate issue, the scientifically legitimate ‘other side’ is that, if anything, global climate disruption is likely to be significantly worse than has been suggested in scientific consensus estimates to date.

So it’s good to see New Scientist make just that point in its special issue on climate change:

Five years ago, the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change painted a gloomy picture of our planet’s future. As climate scientists gather evidence for the next report, due in 2014, Michael Le Page gives seven reasons why things are looking even grimmer

The 7 reasons are below, with links to their respective articles. Since they are all behind a paywall, I’ll provide links to Climate Progress articles on the same subject:

  1. The thick sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was not expected to melt until the end of the century. If current trends continue, summer ice could be gone in a decade or two. Read more (or see “Death Spiral Watch: Experts Warn ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue“).
  2. We knew global warming was going to make the weather more extreme. But it’s becoming even more extreme than anyone predicted. Read more (or see “NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather“).
  3. Global warming was expected to boost food production. Instead, food prices are soaring as the effects of extreme weather kick inRead more (or see “Oxfam Warns Climate Change And Extreme Weather Will Cause Food Prices To Soar” and links therein).
  4. Greenland’s rapid loss of ice mean we’re in for a rise of at least 1 metre by 2100, and possibly much more. Read more (or see “Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’” and links therein).
  5. The planet currently absorbs half our CO2emissions. All the signs are it won’t for much longer. Read more (or see “Carbon Feedback From Thawing Permafrost Will Likely Add 0.4°F – 1.5°F To Total Global Warming By 2100” and “Drying Peatlands and Intensifying Wildfires Boost Carbon Release Ninefold“).
  6. If we stopped emitting CO2 tomorrow, we might be able to avoid climate disaster. In fact we are still increasing emissionsRead more (or see “The IEA And Others Warn Of Some 11°F Warming by 2100 on current emissions path”)
  7. If the worst climate predictions are realised, vast swathes of the globe could become too hot for humans to survive. Read more (or see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts“)

Actual New Scientist image accompanying bullet #7!

And people say Climate Progress has too much gloom and doom! Still, if we didn’t add that all of the above impacts will be happening simultaneously and largely irreversible for 1000 years, then we wouldn’t be true to our name, would we? [Note to self: Look up "progress" in dictionary.]

It’s too bad the articles are behind a paywall, but at least the accompanying editorial plea, “Obama should fulfil his 2008 climate promises,” isn’t. The editors’ bottom line is inarguable:

What’s needed is very clear: emissions cuts, and soon. The best way to do that is to change our economic systems to reflect the true long-term cost of fossil fuels. That means ending the $1 trillion of annual subsidies for fossil fuels and imposing carbon taxes instead.

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65 Responses to New Scientist Special Report: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’

  1. Paul Klinkman says:

    Summer ice gone in a decade or two? That long!

    Look at the rate of ice decline on a graph, draw a line and extrapolate until the line hits zero.

  2. Aaron Lewis says:

    The immediate issue is moisture for industrial agriculture. (Not enough in some places and too much in other places.) Without good crops on a regular basis, sea level rise decades in the future is academic. This is not Arctic sea ice, this is wheat for noodles and soybeans for protein. We are past the days when we had a carryover to help us through a short crop. If we have too much or too little rain, more people will go hungry next year.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      This is precisely where the collapse will really begin in earnest. Massive agricultural failure caused by worldwide climate derangement seems, to me, inevitable. One food bowl after another hit by too much rain, or too little or at the wrong time, or by too much heat, or humidity, or some new insect pest. Add to the production problem the wicked insanity of speculation in food commodities where the parasitic elite seek mega-profits at the expense of the poor, and you have a recipe for disaster, a disaster that is not being averted but towards which we are careering full steam ahead.

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      Aaron, in this context two issues seem worth noting.

      Obama’s hiking of the ethanol mandate to 40% from Bush’s 30% was plainly not driven by a motive of saving emissions or of extending fossil fuel supply (mandating gas-to-liquids would have gained far more). Even the combination of extreme drought pushing farmers’ feed costs beyond affordable, and doing so during the election campaign, PLUS two former democrat presidents breaking protocol to publicly demand he suspend the mandate – on grounds that it is spiking world food prices and increasing starvation – were not enough to change his mind.

      Also, the evil speculation on food commodities got enough bad press last winter for the White House to react – so a new regulation is coming in, which is so stringent that after next March it will be illegal for an individual to hold more than 1/4th of any particular contract . . .

      Obama’s interest in exacerbating world food insecurity seems increasingly clear to me. How about you ?

      Regards,

      Lewis

  3. prokaryotes says:

    Precautionary principle DEMANDS that we start cutting Co2 emissions immediately and go aggressively after the deniers.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Climate Progress readers are in a bit of a bubble, and the New York Times Weekly Review readers are in only a slightly bigger one.

    It’s critical that the public read this piece, or one of the similar ones such as the Price Waterhouse analysis that has appeared lately. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be linked in the newspapers, nor mentioned at all on television.

    This is convenient and rational for those media companies, so the dwindling ad money keeps coming in. It is also borderline criminally negligent.

    • Joe Romm says:

      The bubble is growing!

      • Mike Roddy says:

        You are right about that! Nobody has worked harder or more effectively on this than you. I thank you on behalf of everyone, including future generations.

      • Joan Savage says:

        Yes indeed.

        Cover story or section header articles on climate change have appeared recently in:

        New Scientist, circulation 137,805 (2011)
        New York Times – Sunday, circulation 2,003,247 (2012)
        Bloomberg Business Week, circulation 995,267 (2012)

        Circulation numbers from wikipedia

      • Lore says:

        You’re right Joe, NBC Nightly News picked up the NY Times piece tonight and ran a segment of their own.

        • Mike Roddy says:

          The NBC piece ran for about three minutes (I watched it, too), and was based on a NYT piece that hedged a bit. New Scientist won’t get any love from the networks.

          I watched the other two networks, too. Nothing on climate, since more important news was at hand- the tax/spending negotiations in Congress (rigged, of course), lottery results, Oprah’s new phase, etc.

          Praising them when they give us a few minutes a week is the action of a battered spouse. We need to raise the bar about five feet.

          • David Goldstein says:

            The organization that seems to be doing the most effective ‘on the ground’ mobilizing is 350.org. They are calling for mass protest in Wash DC on Presidents Day Feb 18th. Bill Mckibben called for 20,000 with any willing to be arrested thru non-violent civil disobedience. Some are organizing and intending to draw many more than 20,000. Perhaps it is time for a watershed gathering for the climate movement. Perhaps it is time to simply start putting our bodies in way?- this becomes necessary in every movement of import.

          • Lewis Cleverdon says:

            Mike -
            “Praising them when they give us a few minutes a week is the action of a battered spouse. We need to raise the bar about five feet.”

            Well said. Very quotable !

            Regards,

            Lewis

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      This is a nice bubble because the denialist riff-raff are kept out. But go to The Guardian’s CiF blogs, supposedly a ‘liberal’ voice, and the place is infested with rabid denialists, and that is true across the MSM. We are kidding ourselves that the tide is turning, because, although most people now see the truth, to varying degrees, the Rightwing propaganda remains relentless, and the denialist fraction, full of passionate and demented intensity, are never going to give up. That would be too humiliating for these gross egotists.

      • Lewis Cleverdon says:

        I wish Joe would repost an item on the firms supplying synthetic-personality software for mass website comments – or better still do a follow up.

        I’m pretty certain that we’re seeing a lot of auto-bot comments on leading open sites such as the Guardian CIF & HuffPost and also stalking target individuals such as Gore, not least becease they are occasionally missing en masse when some major impact means their use could embarrass their cause.

        As I recall, beside Heartland (?) the US govt was inviting tenders for a version of that software for use in Kabul –

        Regards,

        Lewis

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Astroturfing is a real growth industry. It’s hardly surprising that the Bosses were never going to allow real debate to break out on the interweb. After gaining total, oligopolistic, control of the MSM, and turning them all into Rightwing echo-chambers and venues for Groupthink, and redefining ‘journalism’ as agitprop in the service of power and wealth, they were not going to allow Thought Crime to flourish. One tactic, widely used, in my personal experience, at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, is direct and crude censorship. Various opinions simply do not see the light, Comments are not published and others are later ‘disappeared’ when some droog comes across them. And, with CiF an example, the Rightists who proliferate there are notably misanthropic and vicious, which I see as a demoralising tactic, one designed to dispirit those unused to Rightwing maliciousness. The untruthfulness, hypocrisy and dissembling are hideously familiar.

    • Lionel A says:

      Indeed Mike, some media seem to be going out of their way right now here in the UK to minimise the impact in the public mind of the current bought of extensive, and repeated flooding across the UK where new flood defences have been overwhelmed.

      The BBC in their 6 o’clock evening news yesterday rolled out mention of specific floodings in 1939, 1950s and the 1970s with cherry picked events which betrayed the present trend of more frequent and wider spread heavy rains with more extensive flooding events.

      To be sure urban developments, developments along the banks of water courses and changes in agricultural methods have all taken place with nary a thought to the wider impact of same.

      The media will not be able to keep this up much longer no matter how much pressure the incumbent government is bringing to bear on the BBC where a witch hunt (Savile) has been stirred I am sure in part so that the true implications of policy reported here flies under the public’s radar.

      • Lionel A says:

        The BBC report that I alluded to earlier at least one or two comments were on the right track.

        For sure I can remember torrential rain and floods in Somerset in the Summer of 1968, which washed away a bridge at Pensford which happened to be on my route home from the Naval Air Station at Yeovilton. One of our Sea Vixen fighters encountered a violent hail storm being lucky to get home with dents in wing leading edges and intake skins and a mushed radome which was on the point of disintegrating. The size of the dents was astonishing hinting at very large tennis ball sized hail.

        But this year is very different, as have many years since the turn of the century.

  5. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Parts of Queensland having 44C again today and it’s still only Nov. Who needs El Nino, ME

  6. Jack Burton says:

    This just confirms what we people living in the upper Midwest have been seeing for a decade now. For those of us getting on towards retirement, we are old enough to remember the climate of the 60′s and 70′s. The changing 80′s and then the onset of undeniable warming in the 90′s to the extreme warming of the 2000′s. Now in 2012 we are so far off the charts of what we and our parents remember that there is no doubt we are already IN a climate shift situation.
    When the north of Minnesota gets a 20 inch 24 hour rain event, a Hurricane level rainfall, well, what more do you need to say.
    Though the local climate change deniers are out in force now because we finally had two cold days in a row, and three inches of snow.
    They grasp at any straw, after 6 months of relentless heat, and a day of 82 degrees in MARCH, they grasp for 2 days of 10-20 degree days as proof all is well! Fools!

  7. Henry says:

    I know this comment won’t get posted but I sincerely hope that Joe sees it.
    Joe, it is clear that turning up the volume on the rhetoric is clearly NOT working! People just turn a deaf ear after a while because even the casual observer knows that reality can’t possibly live up to all the hype.
    It simply can’t be bad news 24/7 if you want to affect change. You know it in your heart, you’re too intelligent not to, I just don’t get your strategy here.

    • prokaryotes says:

      Please share with us, where you have 24/7 climate coverage? It’s quiet the opposite of what you allege. Ofc, here at CP we have this kind of information, but we are just a tiny group of people concerned with the security of our planet habitability.

      However, we could discuss what approach in messaging would generate the best outcome. But as long the media is ignoring the climate crisis…

      For instance i would not suggest to use “shocking” images, like we have above. Instead i would focus on the solution + clear message and national security.

      • Lore says:

        If you’ve been in the military, then you’d understand that they prepare you for shock because reality is often many times worse. The message sinks in better when followed by example, as in S.S. Sandy.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Prok, I hope you don’t get caught up in any disasters because wandering around amidst ruins and bodies is far more shocking than a photo of a few coffins which is nothing but a very restrained metaphor. It can crack up the toughest soldiers or SES and unfortunately, the truth is that an increasing number of citizens will have that experience, ME

    • Joe Romm says:

      Actually the strategy of telling people the truth is the only one that has ever worked, and it is working now again, to go by polling. But in any case my blog is written for my (growing) readership, which isn’t the general public. Given that this blog his more page views and more followers on social media or by email than any other climate blog, and is growing pretty fast, I’d say our strategy of focusing on the science, solution, and politics is working.

      • I wish it were that simple, Joe. Goebbles & Co. did pretty well with the BIG LIE for a decade or so. And a decade or so is all we’ve got left.

        Of course we keep telling it like it is — truth to power is all we have. But we must keep in mind that the denial propagandists have already managed to delay climate action for at least two decades.

      • Martin Gisser says:

        One truth isn’t told often enough: The epidemic of mental and moral corruption of the Late Homo S “Sapiens”. And the worst of all places seems to be the U.S. Where else in the 1st and 2nd world would polit puppets like senator Inhofe be tolerated. Or this Romney clown.

        It seems good that the climate crisis comes quicker and harder than expected. How else will they learn (or look stupid enough to not even get tolerated by U.S. standards of truth)? And they need to learn quick.

    • John McCormick says:

      Henry, I get it. You’d warn people to roll up their pant legs because the tsunami is approaching.

    • Alteredstory says:

      It’s pretty clear you don’t actually read this blog, since much of it ISN’T bad news – there’s an awful lot about solutions, things that are going well, and so on.

      As far as I can tell, you’re concern trolling, ’cause it’s obvious you don’t actually have any idea what an average week of posting looks like here.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Telling the truth is not a ‘strategy’. Denying the wretched facts and the hideous danger in which we now exist, now that is a strategy. The strategy of denialism, or one of its tactics, to be more precise.

  8. Nell says:

    I suggest commenters read Wool Omnibus Edition

    Powers that be might believe that keeping the masses ignorant of what is in store for us is a good idea… the book I recommend above argues effectively against that theory… and is a damned good scifi read to boot.

  9. fj says:

    Actually, a 1000 mile storm seems pretty apocalyptic to me; and the 500 mile one last year was also apocalytic in a cute way; especially the NASA pix.

    And, climate panic wouldn’t be a bad thing if it steels the resolve to act on this thing at wartime speed as much worse seems likely for decades to come.

    • Resolve can only be steeled with leadership, and I’m not sure we’ll see much of that until Obama is out of office and replaced, we can hope and pray, by a President who actually gets global warming.

      We need a Churchill of climate change. Maybe s/he will make Joe Romm Climate Czar.

    • fj says:

      And to make it stop we will have to throw every thing we have at it in the smartest ways to find the things that work . . .

      Play natural systems as our greatest friends; understand them as much as possible to best work with them with just the smallest changes for our benefit and our survival. And, commune with the totality of humanity as we must depend on each other and we are all in this together

  10. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Henry – regarding:
    “People just turn a deaf ear after a while because even the casual observer knows that reality can’t possibly live up to all the hype.”

    I’m afraid you’re sadly mistaken if you think Joe is hyping the issue. Far from it,
    there are a number of critical factors that have yet to be put together into a synthesis to evaluate just what the current ‘Best Case’ of emissions control would actually achieve. These include the near doubling of the fraction of our emissions staying in the atmosphere as the natural carbon sinks decline, and the doubling of warming due to the loss of our cooling fossil sulphur emissions as fossil fuels are phased out. And then there are the six out of seven interactive mega-feedbacks that are already observed to be accelerating, several of which have the potential to dwarf anthropogenic GHG emissions.

    These matters are not hype; they are the result of extremely painstaking highly competitive scientific research over the last couple of centuries. Quite how “Even the casual observer knows” better than the consensus of the world’s great scientific academies is a matter you really should give some careful thought.

    As to the idea that “reality can’t possibly live up to all the hype” you might care to look at the scientists’ warnings to NYC authorities in the last few years, which have now been proved accurate by the deaths of 113 Americans and the loss of between fifty and a hundred billion dollars in damages across the region.

    Given the reality of the ~30yr timelag on past emissions’ warming effect (due to the oceans’ thermal inertia) as well as our inevitable future emissions even under a ‘best case’ of emissions control, to see Superstorm Sandy in context means seeing it as as a relatively minor but telegenic impact this early in the curve of accelerating climate destabilization.

    Your appeal to ‘tone it down’ and to give good news instead is precisely the outlook that has wasted the last thirty-year opportunity to resolve AGW relatively easily. By ceding to political pressures for acceptable forecasts and ‘goals’, the scientific establishment has failed to inform society of its predicament, apparently assuming that it had the right to abdicate that duty to the politicians.

    The upshot is that a few of the most senior are breaking ranks and going public – Prof. Kevin Anderson is one such who has a quite candid public lecture now posted at
    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2012-11-15/kevin-anderson-what-they-won-t-tell-you-about-climate-catastrophe
    which you may find informative. (For background he is a world-class scientist and deputy director of the UK’s premier Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research ).

    The point you are missing is that until the public is aware of the actual degree of threat there is little or no prospect of the commensurate responses – that are probably still capable of resolving it – being even formally considered at the requisite international fora, let alone negotiated, agreed, researched and implemented. That said, I’d be the first to agree that in identifying a threat there have to be credible solutions proposed in parallel if we are to avoid merely feeding the rising indulgence in apathy and defeatism.

    Regards,

    Lewis

    • Bernard J. says:

      Henry:

      People just turn a deaf ear after a while because even the casual observer knows that reality can’t possibly live up to all the hype.

      As Lewis said, you are sadly mistaken. The simple fact is that reality can and will be far worse than people imagine, purely because those people are ignorance of the extent of scientific fact, or of circumstances outside of their coddled Western consumer nursery, or both.

      To illustrate, I suspect that there are many East Coast residents who now have a different view to climate change than they did six months ago, simply because they had no previous experience of the slow-motion train wreck that we’ve initiated, and because they’re only now starting to pay attention to the clarion warnings of science.

  11. Fred Bentler says:

    What’s happening to the world is serious, a major threat our well-being, and it’s appropriate that scientists and science journalists act like it. Little by little, earnest press like New Scientist’s make the problem easier to understand and discuss for non-scientists in public policy meetings, conference rooms, boardrooms and other important places where teams form and our future is decided.

    • Bernard J. says:

      …earnest press like New Scientist’s…

      It’s worth pointing out that for the last few years New Scientists has been giving a whole lot of oxygen to the idea of uncertainty in climate change science, spearheaded in large part by the efforts of Fred Pearce. Ten to fifteen years ago I used to recommend NS to my first year undergraduate uni students as a medium for maintaining a good broadbrush perspective in the arc of scientific endeavour – about six or seven years ago I stopped my subscription because it was becoming a tedious rag promoting pseudoscientific notions and techno-fantasy excursions into silliness.

      As much as I applaud them for coming back toward rationality in publishing this latest piece, it’s nothing new under the sun for anyone who keeps up with science through the professional literature. Indeed, the articles are only marginally better than breathlessly reporting on the discoveries of fire and the wheel.

      In my opinion New Scientist warrants a D-, with a “could try much harder” comment to accompany.

  12. Tami Kennedy says:

    Listening to Morning Joe this AM both sides of U.S. government are drooling at national carbon fuel capacity and taking over global supply leadership from Saudi Arabia by 2020. Little chance any climate leadership to be expected. U.S. will commit nothing substantive at Doha.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Unfortunately the fracking boom is pure bunkum, a real scam by the usual suspects. It is useful, and will be for a few years, as an excuse to subvert renewables to the advantage of the real fossil fuel interests.

  13. Brooks Bridges says:

    Wen Stephenson, editorial director of TheAtlantic.com among other things, quit the MSM to become a climate activist. The article reveals his experience on the “inside” and is “conversion”. A powerful piece.

    http://thephoenix.com/Boston/news/146647-convenient-excuse/

  14. Alteredstory says:

    “Global warming was expected to boost food production.”

    Since when? I can’t recall any point in the last decade (about how long I’ve been paying attention) at which anybody but deniers thought that.

  15. Icarus62 says:

    The rate of global warming found by Levitus 2012 supports James Hansen’s view that we would need to reduce atmospheric CO2 to about 350ppm just to eliminate the current planetary energy imbalance of 0.6W/m². Given the rapid decline of ice all over the planet, the order of magnitude increase in extreme weather and other ominous signs of a rapid excursion from Holocene climate, even this looks a bit rash… and yet we’re going rapidly in the opposite direction, at 2ppm per year. We would have to sequester about 350 billion tons of CO2, plus another 30 billion tons every year to offset emissions, just to get to 350ppm. Do we have the technology, or indeed the energy, to do that?

    • Alteredstory says:

      We have what it takes to reduce the level of CO2, but not quickly enough to prevent a certain amount of warming, and probably not quickly enough, even if we started today, to avoid positive feedback loops.

      We’re in this for the long haul, which is why many of us are now focused on simultaneous adaptation and mitigation, while looking into ways to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere.

      We have to do everything at once, but all that’s lacking is the will to do it. We’ve got everything else we need, ESPECIALLY if you consider that the more we implement the various technologies required, the better we know them, and the more we find better ways to use them.

  16. Albatross says:

    There’s another alternative: we could fail to act, and the climate change could hit, and humanity could die back to almost nothing.

    Either we take care of Nature, or Nature will take care of us.

  17. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Excellent post on NewScientist CLIMATE CHANGE Report. Yes. Climate Change is hot topic now.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

  18. Liz Calkins says:

    What frustrates me is that it would be really easy to at least mitigate, if not fix, these issues, at least here in the US. All it would take is a campaign of energy conservation methods on the part of consumers, and programs to get renewable energy and more efficient vehicles and appliances into the hands of the poor and middle class that need it and would benefit from it the most but can’t afford the up-front costs.

    My household uses 226 kWh per month (not counting heat, since our landlord handles that) after the mitigation methods we could afford, and we would use even less if we could afford to do things like replace our aging refrigerator. But can we get our deadbeat landlord to do it, or get the money needed from anywhere to do it ourselves? Nope.

    Or how about our car; my mom and I would be prime users of an electric car, since we do only minimal driving within the city itself. Again, can we get money to replace our old inefficient car? Again, nope.

    For that matter, we could easily save even more energy with solar panels on our roof, solar heaters in the windows, efficient water heater, etc. You guessed it, no money.

    Now imagine my mother and I getting the money to make all those changes, plus things like better insulation, multiplied by all the households in America who could do the same. Not only would we be saving the planet, but all those households would be saving $50+ per month in electric and fuel bills.

    So the fact that we refuse to make these sorts of simple changes, whose costs would be recouped easily within a few decades, to stay on our path of destruction… it’s frustrating and not understandable.

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      Liz – most people seem to ask these questions as if climate was a national issue – when in fact it is a, or rather The, global issue.

      Looked at globally, letting climate change rip is one part of the US rivalry with China, which is now within a few years of taking the US’ most treasured status of global economic dominance. By the US refusal to take relevant action on climate and its blocking of a global treaty, worsening impacts on global agriculture are advancing the day when civil unrest in China due to food price protests potentially destabilize its government – thus ending its bid for global economic dominance.

      I note that despite the priority the US attaches to its pre-eminent status, it has made no other notable preparations to see off China. What is effectively a bipartisan climate policy of a ‘Brinkmanship of Inaction’ with China is now the US’ only non-military option for maintaining its dominance.

      Alternative explanations of Obama’s conduct are that this dynamic is just a fluke and a coincidence, when the real fact is that:
      - he’s been corrupted by fossil lobby money – which simply doesn’t ring true to me -
      - or that he’s appallingly badly informed of the threat – which is patently untrue -
      - or that he’s just too stupid to comprehend the threat – which is plainly nonsense -
      - Or does he actually have a paramount policy priority that demands his weird lack of action and that overrides even the scale of threat the climate issue poses, and that is also too deeply discreditable to be acknowledged ?

      For an explanation, we pick from these four choices – unless anyone can provide any others that are plausible and mesh with the evidence of his conduct.

      Regards,

      Lewis

      • John McCormick says:

        Lewis, take a moment and think of the 2012 election taking down climate hawk President Obama to such a degree that the Senate Democrats lose their majority. Then, project that scenario to the 113th Congress controlled by the rethugs and sending death warrants to the poor and lower middle class for Romney to sign.

        We did not give President Obama the votes he needed because too many of us believed voting was a waste of their time. Yes, Dems controlled the Senate in his first two years but there were not enough of them to vote for Waxman-Markey.

        Now, President Obama is free to be a hawk if he chooses.

        • Lewis Cleverdon says:

          John – thanks for your response.
          With respect I have to differ with your proposed explanation, because it explains scarcely any of POTUS’ conduct on climate since 2008, in particular the following points:

          - After the 2008 election he addressed a Joint Govenors’ Climate Summit and gave a ringing adamant endorsement of action on climate, but, by March 2009, he reversed and adopted both Bush’s refusal to present Kyoto for ratification and his unilateral 2005 emissions baseline instead of the UN 1990 baseline, thereby reneging on the US signature of the UNFCCC mandate and sending the global diplomatic community the clear signal that previous obstructive US climate policy would be maintained. This was his unforced choice.

          Later in 2009 he crushed any serious negotiation at Kyoto by demanding a ‘deal’ whereby each American would still have about three times the emissions rights of each Chinese in 2050. This was plainly calculated to insult and to be rejected.

          While maximizing diplomatic offence by hyping the pathetic US pledge at Cancun as 17% cut off 2005 by 2020, when it is actually ~3.67% cut off 1990, he went on to try to prevent the House climate bill being tabled and to brazenly derail the passage of the Senate climate bill, thereby minimizing the prospect of the Cancun pledge being honoured. (If you’ve not studied it these events were detailed in the forensic New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza, “While the World Burns”, which Joe did a post on at the time).

          Obama’s hiking of the ethanol mandate to 40% of the US corn crop from Bush’s hike to 30% helped to reverse the decline of record global food prices after the 2008 peak. They have since risen to near that level again. Pleas to suspend the mandate – from desperate drought-hit farmers who can’t afford record livestock feed prices, and from two ex-presidents breaking protocol to demand it on global humanitarian grounds – were simply ignored. Similarly new regs on food commodity speculation are so lax as to be ineffective. World food price inflation looks set to worsen, with China’s govt in the cross-hairs. Again, Obama’s conduct contributing to this position was unforced.

          Over the last four years, Obama’s use of the word climate has diminished almost to nothing – and he has made no use whatsoever of his capacity to encourage popular demand for action and rising pressure on the opposition. On the contrary, he has repeatedly talked down the issue in occasional offhand remarks. Meanwhile from a back office in the White House an official (whose role and name Joe discussed a while back) has been tasked with curtailing and postponing such climate-relevant regulation as was moving forward. Obama’s signing for the second half of the tarsands pipeline fitted exactly with this trend of conduct.

          Not until Bloomberg’s response to Sandy was climate policy restored to a level to be addressed in a press conference (and every government plants any question it wants to answer) and then Obama gave a brief and calculated statement, in which, apart from a little climate lip-service, I counted three ‘hype-the-controversies’, two ‘talking-down-the-issues’, and three plain lies. These I’ll be happy to detail if you wish.

          In short, there has been a whole spread of conduct that is not remotely explained by a limited support for action in the legislature. Nor does the re-elected Obama now behave as if he wishes to take action – on the contrary, his recent statement makes clear that he won’t take action without bipartisan support – meaning that he hands a veto to those who publicly oppose action and seeks to abdicate his responsibility.

          If Obama were both very badly advised and very dumb, some parts of the above might not affirm the operation of the bipartisan policy of a Brinkmanship of Inaction with China – but since he isn’t, then for want of a cogent alternative explanation, the evidence surely points directly to that conclusion ?

          Regards,

          Lewis

          • Lewis Cleverdon says:

            John – my apologies for a typo in para 3 line 1, which should read:
            “Later in 2009 he crushed any serious negotiation at Copenhagen”

            Must get more sleep.
            L

  19. Lisa Barth says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else find the photo at the top of this story misleading? It appears to be 3 nuke plant cooling towers with smoke billowing from each. Next to it are 2 regular smokestacks that don’t seem to have anything coming out. Why were cooling towers used to illustrate a story on global warming? I can think of many other photos that could be used. Maybe the smog in downtown L.A, or even worse the skyline of Mexico City, or the industrial pollution around Monterrey, Mexico to name a couple. It just seems to be wrong, associating global warming with cooling towers. Or maybe it’s just my perception.

  20. Prospace Environmentalist says:

    Here are a couple of articles on *current* climate impacts.

    One is about the Great Lakes. I didn’t pay attention to that until now. This is not good…..
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GREAT_LAKES_LOW_WATER_ILOL-?SITE=ILBLO&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    Here is an update on Mississippi river situation that was reported by Climate Progress earlier. Does Pres. Obama care or we have to *make* him care?
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_DROUGHT_RIVER_SHIPPING_ILOL-?SITE=ILBLO&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    This is getting very depressing….

  21. Anony Mous says:

    While I agree that we need to decrease emissions, we’re already on a path to destruction regardless of whether or not those emissions are decreased.

    So why aren’t people talking about methods of removing our emissions from the atmosphere? I’m not well versed in the technologies or sciences necessary to do something like this, so I have no idea whether or not it’s possible, feasible, etc. But you’d think SOMEONE would have said this by now.

    The planet is being harmed just by what’s been produced. Why not start taking on methods of reducing what’s already there, as well as methods of reducing emissions?

  22. Rick says:

    Personally, I don’t see anything being done to end Co2 emissions. And I don’t how it can be done, with 7 billion + on this planet. I’m not a doomer, but I think we’re now past the point of no return.

    I leave in the Midwest, and anyone who has half a brain can see it’s been getting warmer, or wetter – both of which are bad for crops. Yet weathermen like Tom Skilling, are AGW deniers, and spin their forecast, so it appears things are okay. This kind of reporting does nothing to help our planet. It just promotes the status quo.

    PS – WGN is NOT my source for weather. :)

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