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The Salt Lake Tribune Editorializes ‘A Killing Climate: Global Warming Unchecked’

By Joe Romm

"The Salt Lake Tribune Editorializes ‘A Killing Climate: Global Warming Unchecked’"

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The global response to climate change is incapable of addressing the catastrophic consequences to a planet dependent on burning fossil fuels for energy, spewing greater volumes of the greenhouse gases that are boosting temperatures at an accelerating rate.

This gloomy assessment is based on new scientific studies that describe, with increasing certainty, the arrival of severe climate disruption sooner and with greater intensity than scientists had predicted even a few years ago.

Another day, another U.S. media outlet wakes up to the grim reality of a world where the climate deniers and delayers reign. This time it’s the The Salt Lake Tribune, with it’s powerfully headlined editorial:

A killing climate: Global warming unchecked

Nothing really new for Climate Progress readers, but it is always good to see reality taking hold in more places — especially in a state whose House of Representatives actually passed a resolution doubting climate science in 2010 (see also “Utah: Still the right wing place“).

The World Bank and the International Energy Agency are warning that if current climate trends continue unabated, the rate of global warming will increase temperatures by an alarming 4C to 6C, with rising sea levels swamping coastlines, and widespread famine, storms and heat waves forcing widespread human migrations….

A study published Thursday in the journal Science found that the polar ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are losing three times as much ice as 20 years ago, threatening low-lying coastal areas with rising sea levels. Julie Brigham Grette at the University of Massachusetts Amherst told The Washington Post that as the oceans warm and expand, and polar ice melts, sea level is expected to rise by about 40 inches before the end of the century. “It’s not like it’s going to happen in the future,” she said, “it’s happening now.”

And they quote the World Meteorological Organization on its annual state of the climate statement:

Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so as a result of concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records,” Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization, said in a statement Wednesday.

He pointed to the dramatic rate of melting of Arctic ice over the summer to its lowest level since satellite records have been available. “The trend is not only continuing but accelerating. The more it melts, the faster it will melt,” Jarraud said in a New York Times report.

Sea levels rise as the ice melts, and are almost 8 inches higher than a century ago, when a deadly storm such as Hurricane Sandy would not have carried the same destructive punch, he said.

And the Utah news outlet even points some fingers at the deniers who tend to dominate Utah politics:

Sadly, far too often in Utah government leaders and others dismiss global warming as a scare tactic by environmental activists with agendas that include cleaner energy sources and mass transit as substitutes for the fossil fuels that power the state and national economies.

Such ignorance, blind or willful, has transformed climate change into a political issue rather than the global threat it clearly is proving to be. Somehow, achieving American oil independence is seen as an imperative far more compelling than reducing carbon emissions that, at their current rate of production, will profoundly alter the lives of our grandchildren and their posterity.

Hear! Hear!

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35 Responses to The Salt Lake Tribune Editorializes ‘A Killing Climate: Global Warming Unchecked’

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    I talked to two Republican climate science communicators at AGU, Catherine Hayhoe and John Riesman. Each claims an 80% success rate in converting conservative global warming deniers, far higher than most of us here could achieve.

    Radiative forcing is not Democratic or Republican. There is a window here, maybe not in Fort Worth, but certainly in more independent minded Red states like Utah and Nebraska. Someone needs to develop a strategy to communicate to the many good Americans in these places that are being fed the wrong information.

    • John McCormick says:

      I remember that scene in “China Syndrome” where Jack Lemon is spread eagle on the metal floor and feels, again, that vibration in the cooling system valve. May be other tremors here and about but the AGW issue has move a notch.

      • Nounce says:

        Nah, we’re fried. Never mind what could be done or what might have been accomplished in the past, the super-human exertion necessary at this late date is nowhere evident. So kiss optimism goodbye and put it away. Farewell civilization, you were always just around the corner anyway.

        • Mark E says:

          I am excited to see this sort of pessimism, because it means the denialist machine that wants to prevent us from taking ANY action is down to its last gambit.

          • Superman1 says:

            Nounce is correct. The ‘denialists’ are given far more credit than they deserve; they are functionally irrelevant to the discussion.

            Read Kevin Anderson’s papers, and fully understand what he is saying. No more fossil fuel use for three or four decades, until we are on the downside of the temperature peak! In practice, we will have to live like the Pennsylvania Amish or indiginous Native Americans for at least that period. It means a world-wide Depression (given the existing economic system) on a scale we have never even imagined.

            Most people won’t go for that, and that’s why the situation appears hopeless. The real problem is most advocates like yourself won’t even admit that’s the level of sacrifice required.

    • “Someone needs to develop a strategy to communicate to the many good Americans in these places that are being fed the wrong information.”

      I nominate a very well-informed, good writer named Mike Roddy for the specific niche of communicating climate-change reality to the misinformed of America. Putting the facts in terms that people can understand and relate to is an art, and requires dedication, and the nation’s communicators need leadership, Who better?

    • Superman1 says:

      “Each claims an 80% success rate in converting conservative global warming deniers, far higher than most of us here could achieve.”

      And, what does that translate into action? I have neighbors and relatives who talk about their climate change concern, and believe man-made climate change is real, but they haven’t altered their lifestyle one iota to reduce their carbon footprint. Until I see oil rigs/refineries et al closing voluntarily or involuntarily, and airlines dying for lack of customers, these polls and statements of belief are just words, nothing more.

    • Will Fox says:

      There are Republicans who acknowledge climate change? I didn’t think such a thing existed.

    • Brooks Bridges says:

      I’m very interested in their techniques. I googled and found responses for both related to climate change but neither mentioned AGU

      Are these for sure the people? (web sites without the dot com)

      katharinehayhoe

      johnreisman

      Is Hayhoe Canadian moved to Texas?

      • Mike Roddy says:

        Yeah, those were the people, Brooks. I spoke to each in informal settings in San Francisco during AGU. I don’t think they delivered presentations.

  2. Esop says:

    Good to see some clear talk from the Tribune. Lots of reasonable folks out in Salt Lake. I lived there through most of the 90′s. Awesome place. The percentage of hard core deniers is now much higher over here in Northern Europe than it is in Utah. The reason is that we are now entering the 4th winter in a row with ice cold temperatures due to negative NAO triggered by record low Arctic ice. The disinformers are dancing in the streets and basically rule the press. You would never see an article like the one in the Tribune in one of the major papers over here. Lots of denier lies/drivel, though.

  3. Joan Savage says:

    This Salt Lake Tribune editorial didn’t press for a more local Utah understanding of climate change. They may have done so previously.

    In October the SLT published on a Utah Rivers Council’s report. The report projects that with an 8 degree (probably Fahrenheit) regional increase by the end of the century, Utah’s snow pack would be half what it is today, and therefore the state would have 40% less water supply.

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55148513-78/utah-report-climate-state.html.csp

    • Paul Magnus says:

      Ambassador Ronny Jumeau, leader of the Seychelles poses the question to the US.

    • prokaryotes says:

      The problem is that we are commited to 1-2 meter of SLR already. There are 115 Seychelles islands and the highest point of them is 10 meteres above sea level, though maybe that is just some rock where nobody wants to live. In the long term these people probably have to move somewhere else :(

      But even for the USA 1-2 meters is a catastrophe. Just take Florida for instance, maybe the biggest economy of the nation, froum tourism. This will very likley shrink considerably. Not acting is plain and simple dumb. What if we get a sudden rise in SL from ice sheet disintegration? That could mean a really large impact, globally. And because the sea water is not distributed equally, at the US coast it rises 25% faster then in the rest of the world (accordign to some recent studies).

      Salt water intrusion, more flooding, faster – more dangerous tides, property just gone and worthless….

  4. Paul Magnus says:

    “When Superstorm Sandy hit the US coast last month, it blew millions of New Yorkers back into the nineteenth century. ”

    Adapting to a warmer world: No going back
    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=300282183422589&id=139434822741700

  5. Paul Magnus says:

    We are in big trouble. This appears to be a ME event in full flow…

    World’s Oldest Trees Dying At Alarming Rate: Study (VIDEO)
    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=272249256231150&id=187700434593711

  6. BillD says:

    All that we need to win this debate is for the media to report the science and to ignore (or crticize) the anti-science voices. If the general public understood the scientific consensus, there would be an out cry for action. Of course, it would be nice to have a voice contrary to the Fossil fuel advertising, about how safe and fine and economically beneficial is the natural gas and oil that we are fracking out of the ground. Also, it would be really great if the President would speak out. In my view, speaking out more frequently and with some detail, would be much better than proposing legislation.

  7. Brian says:

    Yes, hear, hear; but we need to stop putting this in terms of “our grandchildren.” It’s happening now. It’s happening to us. Many of us are not in our 70s (as are a lot of the politicians and most of the billionaires who profit from our apathy). We will be here for a while yet, and WE are the ones who are going to be dealing with this. Those who don’t have much of a future and quite obviously don’t care about it have got to quit setting the agenda. WE are the ones to be living it. Perhaps acknowledgment of that would drive a bigger sense of urgency.

    • Superman1 says:

      There are 65 million people in the 15-30 demographic in the USA. They will bear the brunt of much of the suffering and premature death from climate change, unlike most of us in our 70s. One would expect to see millions of these young people out in the streets literally demonstrating for their lives. Not once a year, or twice a year, but every week!

      Where are they? McKibben will hold a demonstration on 18 February, and his target is 20,000. 20,000! We had more than ten times that many at anti-Vietnam demonstrations, and it wasn’t enough. Well, if they don’t do today’s equivalent of stopping the trains from going to the ‘camps’, no one will do it for them. They need to have demonstrations of millions, and well beyond, to have any effect. The clock is ticking, and I’m not sure it hasn’t already passed the midnight hour.

      • Esop says:

        Superman1: I’m not sure about the 25-30 dempgraphic, but a majority of the 15-25 age group could not care less about climate change, at least the ones over here in northern Europe. The only thing that would get them worried about a 6 degree world would be if that world meant an end to Facebook and Iphone. Devolution is currently taking place.
        Another thing is that many of these people have no recollection of a stable climate, as the major change happended in the late 80′s (especially the change to winter climate) when global average temp increased rapidly due to lower emissions of aerosols and sulphates (Clean Air Act, etc)

        • Superman1 says:

          Your comments are equally applicable to the USA. However, it is becoming clear that the standard adult-based approaches are going nowhere. The recent climate talks are basically that, just talks. They resulted in no action.

          What is needed is the type of non-violent (and perhaps violent) action that requires people with a lot of energy to pursue. It’s not going to come from people in the 70s and 80s, who first of all don’t have those levels of energy, and second of all won’t bear the brunt from climate change that the younger generation will. The only source of energy that is required to effect the changes needed has to come from these younger people. I agree; there is no evidence that they have any interest in manning the barricades to solve the problem. That’s why my highest probability scenario is the IEA’s prediction of 4 C by mid-century.

  8. I proposed to Katherine Hayhoe that she sit down with James Inhofe. If anyone could turn him, she could, with her singular credentials as a fundamentalist Christian and a climate scientist. She demurred, saying that her husband has been trying to get a meeting with Inhofe for years but he’s not open to it.

    She worries that her attempts to persuade him would just drive him deeper into his intransigence. Given that, I’m surprised by the 80% success quote. But good for her.

    I think religion is probably the only way to get through to the hard-core deniers. They are inimical to reason. Moral suasion is the only pathway. They have to see that they are contravening God’s will by destroying His creation.

    Of course, most of these people think that whatever happens to the climate is God’s will, and WE’RE the ones interfering with that. So it’s quite a trap.

  9. rollin says:

    Just think about a world with 50% of all species gone or more. We don’t even know what species existed , let alone what went extinct. It will be a fragmented and lonely world to be born into.
    Can it be avoided? Up to you.

  10. John Paily says:

    A change in thinking and awakening to survive on planet earth can happen provided humanity stops and steps beyond his self to observe nature and understand the principle and design on which she works – She is designed as parallel worlds and works to sustain certain energy to matter ratio and thus balance the system and sustain it within some limit- http://www.scribd.com/doc/114273537/Climate-Change-and-Its-Relation-to-Energy

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    More bullets :

    I was thinking of writing a lengthy post about climate change denial being completely unscientific nonsense, but then geochemist and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell wrote a post that is basically a slam-dunk of debunking. His premise was simple: If global warming isn’t real and there’s an actual scientific debate about it, that should be reflected in the scientific journals.

    He looked up how many peer-reviewed scientific papers were published in professional journals about global warming, and compared the ones supporting the idea that we’re heating up compared to those that don’t. What did he find? This:
    Oh my. Powell looked at 13,950 articles. Out of all those reams of scientific results, how many disputed the reality of climate change?

    Twenty-four. Yup. Two dozen. Out of nearly 14,000.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2012/12/11/climate_change_denial_why_don_t_they_publish_scientific_papers.html