What events, actions, and findings had the most positive or negative impact on the likelihood that the nation and the world will act in time to avoid catastrophic warming?
Since the #1 story is way too obvious to generate any drama, I will start there and then go back and count down from 10 to 2.
1. Team Without Rivals. A year ago, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri, desperately warned, “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” That means the next president and his cabinet, more than any other group, will determine my future and your future and our children’s future, and perhaps the future of the next 50 generations to walk the earth. Fortunately, the American people rejected the old greenwasher and new denier nominated by the Drill, baby, Drill crowd — and now we will be led by the greenest, most scientifically informed, radical pragmatists in the history of the Republic:
- Obama: “The science is beyond dispute… Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”
- Why Biden is such an important pick for those who care about the climate
- SOS trumps NSA (Hillary Clinton trumps Gen. Jones)
- Carol Browner to oversee energy and climate at the White House
- Top 5 reasons Chu is a great energy pick — #1: “It’s not guaranteed we have a solution for coal”
- Obama picks a green jobs leader for Labor Secretary: Hilda Solis
- For NOAA head, Obama appoints yet another scientist who gets climate
- Obama’s strongest message on climate yet: John Holdren to be named Science Adviser
Back to the countdown:
10. Gas Pains. As NOAA reported, levels of methane rose sharply in 2007 for the first time since 1998. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, especially over the near term. And the tundra has as much carbon locked away in it as the atmosphere contains today. Scientific analysis suggests the rise in 2007 methane levels came from Arctic wetlands. The tundra melting is probably the most worrisome of all the climate-carbon-cycle amplifying feedbacks — and it could easily take us to the unmitigated catastrophe of 1000 ppm. Though you should also worry that the methane might be coming the underwater permafrost, which is also thawing and releasing methane. Or from the drying of the Northern peatlands (bogs, moors, and mires). If methane rises again in 2008 — and NASA reported another brutally hot year for the Siberian tundra — then that will probably be among the top three global warming stories of 2008.
9. The Thrilla in Vanilla. OK, it wasn’t Ali-Frazier, but Henry Waxman’s smackdown of John Dingell for chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee was high drama with high consequences. Finally, we have a champion of serious action and strong regulation, someone who gets the dire nature of global warming, in charge of the crucial committee for climate and energy.
8. Ice, Ice maybe not. Everywhere scientists look, ice is disappearing: