Top 10 global warming stories of 2007

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"Top 10 global warming stories of 2007"

What events or actions had the most positive or negative impact on the likelihood that the nation and the world will act in time to avoid catastrophic warming? Here are my picks:

#10. Over a barrel: Oil nearing $100. Technically not a global warming story — but who can doubt that part of the renewed interest in energy policy in general and alternatives/efficiency in particular is due to record oil prices? Certainly OPEC is a bit worried. And if, as many believe, this is evidence that we are nearing peak oil — then this story foreshadows even more dramatic changes in the future.

#9. Australian denier bites the dust — literally: Conservative Prime Minister John Howard of drought-riddled Australia lost perhaps the first national election in which global warming was a pivotal issue. The immediate impact was Australia signing the Kyoto protocol — further isolating this country. But a much bigger impact may be felt if U.S. progressives come to see that fighting global warming is not just the morally right thing to do — it is winning politics.

#8. The climate, it is a changin’: The painful reality of global warming is becoming obvious to more and more people in 2007, as the weather gets more and more extreme. Australians reversed their thinking in large part because of the brutal multi-year drought they are now in (see here and here and here). Then we have the brutal droughts in this country (see here), which are increasingly being linked to global warming. Same for the record-breaking wildfires. The Brits know climate change is behind their record flooding. Same for the Chinese.

#7. Delayers/Deniers Double Down. In spite of the painful obviousness of climate change, the incontrovertible science linking it to human activity, and the graver and graver warnings of potential catastrophe — many Deniers, like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), just continue putting out the same old disinformation in new packages or obsessing over meaningless NASA data revisions. A lot of people seem simply impervious to the facts and to science — and desperate to cling to any media stories or studies, however inaccurate, that seem to undermine the overwhelming body of evidence. And then we have the emergence of the Delayers, who say they believe in global warming but show that they really don’t get it by embracing only voluntary technological strategies, which can’t get us to 550 ppm, let alone the 450 or less we need to avert catastrophe. Remember, only 41 Senators representing a small fraction of the American people, can stop serious domestic action — if they so choose. Heck, they stopped a measly 15% renewable electricity requirement and a shift of money from unneeded oil subsidies to vital clean energy technologies — imagine what they’ll do with a serious climate bill. And 34 Senators can stop this country from ratifying any international treaty. The mindless — and self-destructive — implacability of conservatives could easily be the top story of the year and — spoiler alert – in some sense it is.

#6. Fewer fools on the Hill. While the deniers/delayers remain locked in the past, those who believe in action took control of both houses of Congress this year, a key reason we got tougher fuel economy standards passed and a real climate bill out of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. The only way we’ll get serious enough climate action domestically to give us the credibility needed to bring China and other countries along is if we have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Let’s hope 2008 Congressional elections continue the trend.

#5. A Convenient Truth: Outside of the Washington DC Beltway, most people, politicians, businesses, and even the media are open to the facts and the science. Inspired by Al Gore and climate scientists — who shared a well-deserved Nobel Prize — we’ve seen a sea-change in thinking and action on global warming. States have taken the lead in climate action, accelerating clean energy, and shunning new coal plants, while businesses have embraced carbon regulations and many have begun spending serious dollars on clean tech. Eventually, political leaders will have to catch up with everyone else.

#4. The China Syndrome: China’s rapacious construction of coal power plants continues unabated, driving global CO2 emissions to much faster growth than even the IPCC had projected in its worst-case scenario. And the Wall Street Journal just reported “In the last two years, China has built nearly 20 plants that convert coal into a gas that can be used to make such things as plastic and pharmaceuticals.” 2007 may be the year China passed this country in total carbon dioxide emissions. If China won’t agree to cap emissions in the not too distant future, say, 2020, then it can, by itself, make any global climate deal unworkable and kill any chance of stabilizing below 450 ppm (or 550, for that matter).

#3. Ice, Ice maybe not: Shocking Arctic ice loss this year, coupled with further evidence that the great ice sheets are losing mass a century earlier than the IPCC had predicted — and two major studies saying sea level rise by 2100 may exceed one meter. The most dramatic evidence of global warming is what happened to Arctic ice this summer, which itself has direct implications for drought in the Western U.S. (subs. req’d). Probably the most serious threat humanity faces is rapid sea level rise from the disintigration of the ice sheets (and loss of the inland glaciers that provide hundreds of millions with fresh water). If the planet becomes motivated to act in time, I think ice — or the lack of it — will be a major driving force. Certainly it has alarmed some of the top climate scientists in the world….

#2. Desperate Scientists: The world’s top climate scientists beg for action. First, we saw the IPCC’s bleak Fourth Assessment Report (summarized here), which warns that human emissions, left unchecked, could lead to rapid, multi-meter sea level rise; loss of most species; and widespread drought and desertification. Second, we heard IPCC head, Rajendra Pachauri, warn, “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.” Finally, more than 200 scientists signed a statement asserting that, to avoid catastrophic impacts, global greenhouse gas emissions “must peak and decline in the next 10 to 15 years, so there is no time to lose.” (And this isn’t even counting the repeated dire warnings of our nation’s top climate scientist, James Hansen, such as here and here and here, for instance.) Any sane person would be listening to our climate scientists — and an increasing number are, but not everyone….

#1. Bushwhacked: Thanks to the misleadership of our President, the world took no action at Bali to reduce emissions, we had a sham international “climate summit,” the country continues to take no national action on greenhouse gas emissions, Congress was forced to drop almost all non-oil-related provisions to cut GHGs from the energy bill, the EPA blocked California and other major states from regulating tailpipe GHGs on their own, the Administration keeps muzzling climate scientists, and it keeps misallocating scarce clean tech dollars to hydrogen fuel cell vehicle research at the expense of real and timely solutions like energy efficiency and renewables — and that’s just the stuff we know about for sure!

Thanks to Cheney Bush and his henchmen (and henchwomen), the nation and the world have lost another crucial year — and are almost certain to lose another one next year — when, in fact, “What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future.” Our person of the year, who mistakes inflexibility for leadership, and consistency for wisdom, has also made the story of the year: President George W. Bush doesn’t just fiddle while the planet burns, he actively fans the flames and thwarts the fire-fighters.

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41 Responses to Top 10 global warming stories of 2007

  1. Ronald says:

    That’s a great and worried roundup to the year. To bad it doesn’t get out to the Mainstream Media.

    The weather channel had its top ten global warming doers on a few days ago. Joe, you weren’t in the top ten. But the New York Times Andy Revkin and Thomas Freidman were 3 and 4 on their top ten list. Most of the others were community activists.

  2. Abhijeet says:

    A technical (web) suggestion. You might want to use a blue (web standard) font for all links embedded in the blogs. They currently appear black and don’t stand out. Many more people would click more readily on them if the links were more obvious. Hopefully, it will be a simple CSS change.

    Other than that – been following this site for some time now. Thanks for keeping this extremely important topic on the radar. Hats off to you for all your work. Can’t say enough about the importance of this site and your work.

  3. Joe says:

    Abhijeet — thx. Both my browsers, Firefox and IE, show links in green. Do you not have a color screen?

  4. John Mashey says:

    Joe & Abijheet:

    1) it is green on:
    a) Deskside Dell Linux PC, Firefox.
    b) Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop, WinXP.
    c) iPhone, Safari

    However, the green in a) is pretty obvious, but especially at smaller font sizes (ctrl+, ctrl- to explore), the green in b) and c) needs very close examiniation to see that it’s green, which is why a lot of people use underlined links. I.e., the contrast between dark green and black is not high, especially in smaller font sizes.

    2) Abhijeet: you may want to check this by zooming sizes in your browser, and also, looking at other computers to make sure there isn’t something about your system’s display.

    Finally, if you haven’t before, you may want to check for a touch of red-green color blindness.
    Google: color blindness
    Google: web-safe color palette color blindness

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_blindness :
    ‘For example, in the evening, dark green cars appear to be black to Deuteranomalous people”

    Since ~6% of males have some degree of this, it’s really a good idea to use the underlines.

  5. Ron says:

    RE #3,

    You left out the part of the story about the ‘unusual winds’ that strongly contributed to the melt. They have not been linked to AGW. And you left out the part of it re-freezing in record time.

    And what also is usually overlooked is that Arctic ice thickness has only been recorded and studied since 1978.

    Roald Amundsen sailed the Northwest Passage in 1903-05. Harry Larsen did it in 1940-42, and then again in 1944.

    We don’t even know for sure if what we are seeing is unusual.

    And you link to your recent post on sea level rise

    http://climateprogress.org/2007/12/31/sea-levels-may-rise-5-feet-by-2100/

    But exactly what does Arctic ice melting have to do with sea level rise?

    Re #4 -

    If you can’t depend on our government, why do you think China’s government can be depended on?

    RE #8 -

    Yep, all sorts of things are being ‘linked to global warming’, but not much really being scientifically linked. It sure has been a year of hype, hasn’t it?

  6. trucker says:

    Last time I checked Greenland was in the Arctic.

  7. Ron says:

    trucker,

    You are correct. Greenland melting would have an effect on sea level. I stand corrected. I was not thinking about Greenland.

    So I also forgot about the discovery of the other reason for at least some observed Greenland melt. The magma under Greenland. Joe left that out too.

    These ‘other factors’ may not interest those only looking for stories to hype, but they do matter to scientists. The ‘unusual winds’ and the magma might rank up there somewhere as important science stories of 2007.

  8. trucker says:

    One hot spot…northeast corner.
    Majority of Greenland melt…southern 1/3 and west coast.

  9. Dano says:

    US Navy has data older than 1970s on sea ice thickness. It shows thinning – their observations started the whole thing.

    Best,

    D

  10. Ron says:

    Dano,

    Could you post a link? The articles I’ve seen so far haven’t mentioned US Navy records.

  11. Abhijeet says:

    Joe: I mostly use the laptop display (Dell LCD), and am forced to use IE (company authentication software makes Firefox problematic). The green appears almost black. I tried a CRT monitor and it looks pretty green. I’ve always noticed that (cheap) LCD monitors don’t reproduce colors as well as CRTs. Guess Dell used a cheap one (surprise!).

    John: I’ll ignore your sarcasm and agree with your suggestion to use underlines. As far as I know, I have 20/20 vision with no color-blindedness, but (as Joseph Heller would have written) that’s only as far as I know. You might want to perform the same tests with your dyslexia, though. Or you may want to ignore it because dyslexic people are supposed to be pretty gifted (intellectually). No offence intended or taken :) Peace.

    To Ron and all his co-believers: Even if one accepts for a callous and uneducated moment that all the “global warming hype” as you call is were really hype, wouldn’t you rather have people working on this “hype” and in the process improving air quality and thereby improving health for all denizens of this polluted planet, reducing international tensions resulting from the oil supply-and-demand disparity and thereby saving lives of innocent victims of oil-producing countries too weak to protect its citizens from the attack of both the pipeline-protecting-team-of-combatants called the US army and the pipeline-destroying-team-of-combatants called Al-Qaeda, utilizing lost solar and wind energy instead of burning anything and everything they can burn and therby ensuring that generations to come will have access to fossil fuels that should actually be the last reserve we use instead of the first source we burn, instead of wasting their time on dangerous and/or fascist hypes like “Kill all Muslims” or “Buy that Hummer, Bubba” or “It’s a Hemi” or “We will impose our philosophy on all countries that don’t agree with us” or “Kill all communists”… Oh, there are so many of these “hypes” you’d rather succumb to than the “hype” of global warming. Or is it that “I want world peace” is only meant for the evening-gown-clad sexy supermodel just about to cover her mouth after winning the Miss Whatever contest and “Love thy neighbor” is only meant for Sunday School, but none of these are to be practiced – only preached? Which “hype” would you rather subscribe to? Do you inspect all the propaganda your government has been feeding you for decades with the same amount of detail as you dissect each and every phrase of each and every report that qualified scientists have been coming up with time and again? You do not believe that your own politicians had anything to do with 9/11. You do not believe that everything leading to the last two terms of the Bush administration has been a systematic set-up to rob the American taxpayer and kill the poor Iraqi, Irani, Syrian, and North Korean child-or-woman-or-man-on-the-street only so that narcissist Weapons Manufacturers can make profit. But you do believe everything Bill O’Rielly blabbers in his conceited, uneducated, narrow-minded, arrogant, and despicable (read as Stupid White Man) attitude about how the “Global Warming Hoax” is only about Hippy and Gay Liberals trying to save polar bears. Why don’t you use your intelligence and education to dissect, inspect, scrutinize, and expose the criminal actions of your totalitarian and fascist government which has now become the “executive” arm of a congolerate of narcissist corporations who are nothing but officers of the “Fourth Reich” who should all be taken to some Nuremberg, tried, and hung for crimes against humanity just like the officers of the Third Reich were? Why don’t you really “think”. Why don’t you read some George Orwell? Why don’t you read some history? Why don’t you read some Geography? Why don’t you remove the flaps that have been put around your eyes and, for one moment, actually LOOK around?

    I do not digress when I say all this. It’s all related. You cannot inspect one problem without looking at all allied problems and going to their common root – Ignorance.

    To quote somebody who must be indeed a great thinker:

    “Only after the last tree has been cut down.
    Only after the last river has been poisoned.
    Only after the last fish has been caught.
    Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

    It’s so simple, Bubba!

  12. Ron says:

    Apparently, the Navy data is sonar records from 37 submarine cruises between 1958 and the late 90s. That pushes the records back to about 50 years. And we know a few intrepid explorers had sailed the Arctic previously. But 50 years isn’t much of a sample in the time scales climate operates on.

  13. Ron says:

    Abhijeet,

    I can’t tell which side you’re on, but I really enjoyed your post.

    Have any ideas where this is going to lead us, say over the next 40 years or so?

    http://climateprogress.org/2007/11/30/global-warming-prediction-presidential-politics/

  14. Dano says:

    But 50 years isn’t much of a sample in the time scales climate operates on.

    Ah, well. It’s good enough to make decisions on.

    Otherwise, we’d have analysis paralysis, and I’m sure denialists wouldn’t want that, would they?

    Best,

    D

  15. No doubt that global warming is very debated. I, however, have never heard that man is causing global cooling. For this – all I can say is that I hope that the people that believe this is natural are not wrong. But if man is causing at least part of the problem then why not do all we can. One thing not in dispute is that we cannot continue to use non-renewable sources on energy forever.
    Are you familiar with the ground floor movement to take solar to the masses by a company called Citizenre? They are trying market solar with an approach similar to satellite TV, cellular telephones, and alarm systems. That is to provide the customer a complete solar system with no upfront charges and make money from a service contract. In this case the service contract would be a rent agreement. They intend to put a complete solar system on clients home. When the system produces electricity, it will lower the bill from the current utility provider. In most cases the savings from the lower bill will more than cover the rent fee that the company intends to charge. The company currently has no product available but intends to deploy in the middle of 2008. They are currently taking reservations and have over 26,000 takers so far. I have written several articles on this company in my blog and even have a couple of videos that I have recorded at http://www.solarjoules.com. Feel free to take a look. I welcome comments. As in any start up business, a chance exists that they may never get off the ground and fulfill any preorders, but if this is the case – the potential client has not lost anything. If you cannot afford the upfront cost of solar today, this may turn out to be a great alternative. This solution would mean that we could produce at least a little less pollution and would be a great step “just in case”. And hey, the fact that you will save money on your electricity bill over time is a pretty good reason to look into it as well.
    If anyone would like company information you can go to http://www.jointhesolution.com/razmataz.

  16. bryan says:

    It took about 400 years of trying before the Northwest Passage was ‘conquered’. Those explorers knew that year to year variability is extreme. One year 1 ship saw more than everyone else and still made it home in one season. (sorry, I have no reference material here). But I’m pretty sure there are no observations in that time that would correspond to this year’s satellite data.

    Still, the fact that the passage has been used in the past by tiny boats doing multi-year trips has little to do with this year’s opening. Not many people will bother when they expect to freeze in for a winter or two.

    However, If I owned a big ship and satellite data showed the passage was clear for a couple of weeks I might consider it.

    Unfortunately nobody know where the rocks are yet, but if the ice leaves even seasonally there is no reason why it won’t in the future be as busy as the Panama Canal. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

  17. Pooja Sethi says:

    You blog is really good….I have also a blog on global warming which give information about global warming effects, what is global warming, global warming causes, prevent global warming, global warming hoax, global warming articles, fight global warming, global warming news, stop global warming.

  18. Patrick M says:

    “Even if one accepts for a callous and uneducated moment that all the “global warming hype” as you call is were really hype, wouldn’t you rather have people working on this “hype” and in the process improving air quality and thereby improving health for all denizens of this polluted planet,”

    Sounds good, except now we are discovering that biofuels, encouraged in part due to AGW hype, has serious environmental and economic downsides. Deforeestation in tropics and higher food prices.
    Nothing is ‘free’.

  19. Bob B says:

    So climate modelers finally discover the PDO can control climate–global cooling for 10-20yrs–you idiots!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/04/30/eaclimate130.xml

  20. John Johnson says:

    This is all hog wash. Wind, Geothermal, Hydro Thermal are all viable sources of energy especially at the current prices of oil. However this is all about exaggeration, and fraud. Global warming is not being caused by cars, or trucks. Volcanoes spew out more carbon dioxide that all the cars in the world combined. The sun is in a solar cycle, and is heating up. All the planets in the solar system have increases in temperature. The surface is heating not the atmosphere. This is all about money. How can we fool the people into accepting a new tax, and governance. The IEA (i.e. UN is pushing Global Warming along with a number of environmental groups on “computer models” that model whatever data you put in. This data is highly subjective – meaning you have to guess what you think the number should be, not what they actually are.

    What science does this article refer to? Is the science UN report of non-scientist? Is it the report of a “scientist with a skewed objective – i.e. funding. I am sorry, but “scientist” are not necessarily the smartest group of people. They are supposed to be concentrated in a specific field, but offered suffer the same corruption of their work as in any industry. The mighty dollar skews result of many reports. If you remember scientist used to be railing about sea level rise. Funny it has not happened yet. I guess that theory waned after a number of geologists (real scientist – what is a climate scientist – who gives that degree away?) reported that tectonic plate movement was the cause of sea level rise not polar melt.

    This discussion on Global Warming is crazy. It seems that you are offering “scientific data”, but in reality it is not accurate. The Earth is always changing there have been cycles of warmth, and cold throughout this planets history. Everything is not centered on the earth. The biggest generator of heat is the sun. The oceans if you can believe compromise 75% of the earth’s surface. It takes a significant amount of energy to raise, or lower the temperature of the earth’s oceans. Can you imagine heating water at a depth of 4000 feet or greater. This all has an impact on the atmosphere. The current “global warming movement” is really a political movement to control people. Look at the price of gas, food, and energy. For years the powers that be have been trying to convince people to move closer to the cities, and develop public transportation. Humm – looks like the mew tactic is working. The theme seems to center it self around live in an agrarian society, but let me keep my 30,000 sq ft mansion with all the amenities.

  21. Chris says:

    lol. the contrast between dark green and black is not high, especially in smaller font sizes..
    regaards

  22. denier says:

    Global warming is destroying your web font colors!!!!!

  23. For those of you thinking that if they implement this it will eliminate some of the waiting and lines…

  24. Abhijeet — thx. Both my browsers, Firefox and IE, show links in green. Do you not have a color screen?

  25. Estetik says:

    Thanks, for this information and news it was very useful to me

  26. Ok, I have an inkling (pun not intended) to modify that book image to the right to say “Schneier on Squid.”

    “The closest the squid industry has to a rock star.”

  27. bayanlar says:

    There are working fine now! Thanks.

  28. oyun says:

    ı have followed your writing for a long time.really you have given very successful information.
    In spite of my english trouale,I am trying to read and understand your writing.
    And ı am following frequently.I hope that you will be with us together with much more scharings.
    I hope that your success will go on.

  29. Estetik says:

    thanks for you. nice working.

  30. boğaz turu says:

    it is nice ı expect like this information

  31. Ajans says:

    They are trying market solar with an approach similar to satellite TV, cellular telephones, and alarm systems. That is to provide the customer a complete solar system with no upfront charges and make money from a service contract. In this case the service contract would be a rent agreement. They intend to put a complete solar system on clients home. When the system produces electricity, it will lower the bill from the current utility provider. In most cases the savings from the lower bill will more than cover the rent fee that the company intends to charge. The company currently has no product available but intends to deploy in the middle of 2008. They are currently taking reservations and have over 26,000 takers so far. I have written several articles on this company in my blog and even have a couple of videos that I have recorded at http://www.solarjoules.com. Feel free to take a look.

  32. Apparently, the Navy data is sonar records from 37 submarine cruises between 1958 and the late 90s. That pushes the records back to about 50 years. And we know a few intrepid explorers had sailed the Arctic previously. But 50 years isn’t much of a sample in the time scales climate operates on.

    İlhami ÇAKMAK

  33. söve says:

    thanks for you. nice working.

  34. Apparently, the Navy data is sonar records from 37 submarine cruises between 1958 and the late 90s. That pushes the records back to about 50 years. And we know a few intrepid explorers had sailed the Arctic previously. But 50 years isn’t much of a sample in the time scales climate operates on.

  35. You blog is really good….I have also a blog on global warming

  36. medyum says:

    You are correct. Greenland melting would have an effect on sea level. I stand corrected. I was not thinking about Greenland.

    So I also forgot about the discovery of the other reason for at least some observed Greenland melt. The magma under Greenland. Joe left that out too.

    These ‘other factors’ may not interest those only looking for stories to hype, but they do matter to scientists. The ‘unusual winds’ and the magma might rank up there somewhere as important science stories of 2007.

    Medyum