Climate Change Is Undeniable and Must Be Addressed Now, Says Former U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman

Ted Kaufman, former Delaware Senator, is exasperated by lack of climate action.

by Ted Kaufman, reposted from HuffPost

We are beginning a new year, and the silence in Congress is still deafening. Will there ever be a debate about what should be done to deal with climate change?

Oh, you don’t “believe” in it? If you do not, please, suspend that belief system for just a few minutes and take a look at what the major scientific organizations in this country say. Go to their webpages. Examine the mountain of evidence that has convinced 97 to 98 percent of climate researchers that climate change is a stark reality, and that human behavior has been a contributing factor to it.

NASA: The startling timeline chart on the first page leads you directly into a summary of why the evidence for rapid climate change is compelling. There are extensive sections documenting sea level rise, global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, declining arctic sea ice, glacial retreat, extreme events and ocean acidification.

Variation in carbon dioxide concentration during the past 400,000 years (historical data from the Vostock ice core).

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: NOAA)

National Academy of Sciences: There are more than forty reports on this web page, each of them supporting the Academy’s conclusion that “climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities and poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science: The world’s largest general-scientific society also offers more than forty reports on climate change on its web site. AAAS sums them up by “reaffirming the position of its Board of Directors and the leaders of 18 respected organizations, who concluded based on multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change caused by human activities is now underway and it is a growing threat to society.”

The American Chemical Society says, “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems.”

The American Geophysical Union says:

Human responsibility for most of the well-documented increase in global average temperatures over the last half century is well established. Further greenhouse gas emissions, particularly of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, will almost certainly contribute to additional widespread climate changes that can be expected to cause major negative consequences for most nations.

The American Institute of Physics, says:

Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth’s climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth’s history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.

The Geological Society of America says:

GSA concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science, the National Research Council, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse‐gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s.

Even the American Medical Association says, “scientific evidence shows that the world’s climate is changing and that the results have public health consequences.”

I could list hundreds more. Virtually every reputable organization of scientists in the world has reached the same basic conclusion. Climate change is real and poses a threat to every living thing on the earth. To not take climate change seriously, you must somehow believe there is a gigantic international conspiracy involving the world’s top scientists, all of whom have agreed to distort their data. Come on.

I realize that people on both sides of the political spectrum can twist themselves into pretzels to reach an ideological result, but that’s way beyond improbable. I believe that scientists, as they have down through history, are basing their conclusions on unbiased scientific inquiry.

The debate we need now is not about whether climate change is a reality. It is. The massive and complex problems it poses are among the most difficult human beings have ever faced. Hopefully, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, 2012 will be the year our leaders finally listen to the scientific community and begin to fashion solutions to protect the world we will leave them.

This piece first appeared in the “Wilmington News Journal” and the Huffington Post.

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19 Responses to Climate Change Is Undeniable and Must Be Addressed Now, Says Former U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman

  1. Start Loving says:

    FABULOUS article, until this madness: ‘Hopefully, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, 2012 will be the year our leaders finally listen…’ Huh? Oh My God, this is insanity. WE, WE THE PEOPLE, WE THE 300M AMERICANS, WE, WE WE need to ‘listen!!!!’ If we did, no one and nothing could stop us from implementing sanity. If we do NOT, THERE IS NO WAY ‘OUR LEADERS’ CAN OVERCOME THE WEALTH OF THE OIL AND GAS COMPANIES AND OUR CITIZEN INSANE APATHY / AFFLOHOLISTIC DENIAL. If I’m incorrect here,, then FDR didn’t need we citizens to defeat the army he faced, the Nazi army. We just needed to convince him do do our job for us. God man, get real! Please!

  2. prokaryotes says:

    The debate we need now is, what it means to our every day live (short/long term impacts) and what we can do about it.

    On the bottom line we need to transistion to a clean economy because this is good for businesses.

  3. Zach says:

    How are we ever going to get sufficient action on climate change in the U.S. when most people in this country do not see it as a major threat? This belief does not inspire people to pressure their government into action. I fear that, as mentioned on this blog recently, it will take a “Pearl Harbor” event to get people to wake up. However, by the time something that eye-opening happens, it will likely be too late to do anything. I know this blog posts many studies that show that most Americans believe the earth is warming, but frankly that means nothing. If you polled that same “majority” and asked them if they think it’s caused by us, that percentage shrinks further (to 50%), and if you poll THAT percentage to ask them if they think climate change is a major threat that will negatively affect their way of life, it shrinks even further (a mere 32%!). The real moral dilemma is the amount of Americans who are comfortable with a scenario where their children and grandchildren will bare the consequences of their inaction. Fucking sickening if you ask me. That’s coming from a 23 yr old.

    32% of Americans think climate change will be a significant threat to their way of life in their lifetime. Compare that to 40% 3 yrs ago.

    This isn’t cutting it. The message is not getting out. Frankly, the only people who view this blog are people who already agree with what’s said in it. This blog likely isn’t winning many new converts.

    I suppose the only encouraging point is the speed in which people’s minds can change. This is evident from the polls. Thankfully we have groups like that are out there helping to do this.

  4. Amoeba says:

    It’s much more complicated than just presenting evidence. The history of science denial shows that such simplistic ideas won’t work against a well-funded disinformation campaign.

    Unfortunately, many of the men-in-the street either don’t care, or don’t want to believe it’s true; or believe the ludicrous political conspiracy / funding scam arguments; and the ones that do think they know aren’t going to be persuaded by trivial things like mere scientific evidence.

    There needs to be a restriction on self-expression, especially via the media. The right to lie through one’s teeth about what the science says and claim it’s the scientific truth needs to be curbed. Likewise, the monstrous campaigns of malicious accusations levelled by the agents of the denial industry at certain well-known scientists has been the second biggest scandal, second-only to the laundering of bogus science by think-tanks funded by Koch and Exxon, etc.

    It would really help if the US population’s ability to apply critical thinking were increased.

  5. prokaryotes says:

    Most people’s action require the government to act.

  6. Rob Honeycutt says:

    The problem is that so many elected officials’ campaign money is coming from sources that expect them to “not believe” global warming is real. If they shift that position they’ll never get re-elected and the wrath of their party will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

    The only way to solve this is for voters to show representatives that denying GW is not a free ticket into office.

  7. William Lehan says:

    In Charlotte, North Carolina, where I’m writing this, it was about 65 degrees out today. In January. I read an article last night remarking that In Milwaukee, 25 of 26 consecutive days recently had temperatures higher than normal; the same article mentioned that lakes normally frozen over with 10 inches of ice have thin-ice warnings posted in the Midwest. A pond ice-hockey tournament in Buffalo was cancelled for the first time EVER.

    Last summer, as most people know, Texans suffered through over a MONTH of TRIPLE DIGIT temperatures, and correspondingly, a drought that people were struggling to classify as a 100-year, 500-year, or 1000-year phenomenon.

    The remarkable thing, the eerie, bone-chilling thing, the thing that is starting to make this all seem like a freaking TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE is that in NONE of the Internet and magazine articles that I read was global warming/climate change MENTIONED as a contributing factor at all. AT ALL.

    Actually that’s not true. In the TIME magazine article I read last year about the Texas drought, global warming was acknowledged in passing, in a single sentence as a POSSIBLE CONTRIBUTING factor. Most of the rest of the article was just hand-wringing: “What, oh what, could possibly be causing this? It’s just a big mystery!”

    The reporting of extreme temperatures and extreme weather events without mentioning or acknowledging global warming as a PROBABLE factor, or, more commonly, at all, is the norm; has been the norm in all the articles I’ve read over the last seven years, ever since photo documentation of melting arctic ice and glaciers began to appear on the Internet. There are some things to be said for not throwing masses of people into a panic, but it’s long past time that public acknowledgement of the changing climate became commonplace, and that a national discussion about climate change took place (to be continued).

  8. B Waterhouse says:

    Loss of all summer arctic ice may be a wake up call ( but also may mean passing a huge tipping point). Wondering if drought and crop failures in the rural midwestern states may bring a poltical change for big ag interests?

  9. jEREMY says:

    I can hear it now….”It is a hoax by those liberal/socialist scientists to extract grant money and get rich and control the world economy to destroy free market capitalism.
    Really, no joke…this IS OUT THERE and folks stand by it….really.

  10. fj says:

    great idea!

    post a complete contact list of all deniers and lagards in congress on every available web site, billboard, town square, bulletin board, at water coolers, schools, train & bus stations, sign posts etc. etc. etc. worldwide and let the barrage begin: “stop accelerating climate change with wartime speed!”

  11. Geoff Beacon says:

    In the past day I remember seeing one Republican hopeful deny climate change and quickly touch his nose.

    Did I imagine it?

    Anyone read those body language books – I rather liked the one by non-academic Alan Pease.

  12. scas says:

    People will only listen when we tell them the full truth: The Arctic is melting down much faster than expected, the methane hydrates are rapidly destabilizing, and we’re entering a period of abrupt global warming that will destroy agriculture and bring about a hydrogen sulfide mass extinction.

    If the primary solution proposed to renewable energy, then the scale of the disaster appears not a problem to the public. If we tell people we need SRM geoeng, carbon burial, synthetic food, and a rapid buildup of all carbon-free sources including nuclear, they’re more likely to accept what a serious near term threat global warming is. They’re also more likely to take personal action through growing food and discarding materialism.

  13. yogi-one says:

    Congress is broken, and the parasites that don’t want it fixed rule the day and have all the money. Thanks to Citizens United and the award of corporate money as a kind of “free speech’ by the Supreme Court, any legislator that wants to do anything positive at all is going to be crushed under barrage of greasy hate attack ads brought to yo by invisible money sources.

    What the people of this country actually want never mattered less than it does today.

    They have figured out how to make your vote meaningless, and to neuter your paltry $100 donation with their unlimited anonymous funding sources.

    This chapter in American history will not end well, mark my words.

  14. Brad Arnold says:

    Mankind is about to cut their GHG emissions both fast and drastically to save money big-time, considering the following new clean energy technology:

    There is a new clean energy technology that is one tenth the cost of coal. LENR using nickel. Incredibly: Ni+H(heated under pressure)=Cu+lots of heat. This phenomenon (LENR) has been confirmed in hundreds of published scientific papers:

    “Over 2 decades with over 100 experiments worldwide indicate LENR is real, much greater than chemical…” –Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center

    “Energy density many orders of magnitude over chemical.” Michael A. Nelson, NASA

    “Total replacement of fossil fuels for everything but synthetic organic chemistry.” –Dr. Joseph M. Zawodny, NASA

    According to Forbes, electricity will be “too cheap to meter” if Rossi’s Oct 28 demonstration succeeds:

    Here’s the latest, according to MSNBC it passed the test:

    By the way, here is a current survey of all the companies that are bringing LENR to commercialization:

  15. BBHY says:

    I have found that the drought and heatwave in Texas and Oklahoma last summer is an effective tool to use against the deniers.

    What makes it especially effective is that it was correctly predicted by climate science thirty years before it happened, in Hansen’s 1981 climate paper.

    This lies in stark contrast to the denier predictions that increasing CO2 “helps plants grow better”. If that were true, then Texas farmers would have had a bumper crop, not burned fields and dead cattle.

    The deniers will then claim that last summer was normal for Texas, and cite the 1950’s drought as a precedent. But so many, many records for heat and drought and wildfires were set in Texas that it is clearly a whole different phenomena that has never been experienced before.

    The huge costs of the wildfires and drought negate the deniers argument that addressing climate change is “too expensive”. It becomes very clear that not doing anything is even more expensive.

    The final kicker, that seals the deal, is that the same people who correctly predicted the present conditions thirty years ago are saying that what we are seeing now is only 10% of the climate change we will see in the future. They have a proven record, so we ignore those predictions at our own peril. Can we possibly withstand 10 times the brutal conditions that Texas saw last summer?

  16. Start Loving says:

    With all due respect friend, we are going to die by debate. Debate has never brought massive social change or movement – a small group of people seeing and Living the Truth has always been and will always be the spark, when there is one.

    Everyone realizes that the debate with the Right is a scam. Right? RIGHT? To them the science, the Truth is at best irrelevant, and more usually, the enemy to be buried. Their only truth is the next quarterly profit statement. This isn’t cynical, or mean on my part, but the obvious truth, right?

    If there is ANY room for debate, it is with the undecided middle, and the lip-service left, the risk-nothing-personal progressives. But here too, debate, more words, will simply kill time. Why in heavens name would anyone now still ignorant, or misled, or on-the-fence be convinced by more words, from folks that themselves are not living as though their words are true – that soon irreparable environmental armageddon is upon us? They would be fools to believe anyone not LIVING as though there is a planetary emergency – AND NO ONE IS!!! The Egyptian revolutionaries did. Nelson Mandela did, and Steve Biko. The suffragists did….

    We’ll die by debate. We don’t have a debate problem, or an information problem, a science problem, a technology problem or a finance problem. We have a courage problem; a Heart problem; a Sanity problem – an ACTION problem. When your daughter, or niece needs emergency medical care and folks are not responding – you don’t debate, you act, and you escalate your action, taking ever increasing personal risks in line with the emergency.

    The man of infinite talents, Albert Schweitzer, had this to say on the matter – “Example is not the major thing in influencing people; it is the only thing.”

    ‘They debated, wrote, talked, talked, talked… earth to death,’ will be Creation’s obituary.

  17. Solar Jim says:

    BBHY, right you are concerning ten times coming at us. You could call it an exponential planetary response to massive carbonic acid contamination. In addition, today’s biogeochemical response is from emissions circa 1970’s. “Clear and present dangers” which corrupt (oligarchic, plutocratic, dictatorial) governments actually finance via tax code and national fiscal policy (the budget).

    Unfortunately, the foundation of western (and now global) finance is built on mining fossil material precursors to carbonic acid, not to mention the military “projection of power” by these fossil carbon and uranium substances (yet another massive unsustainable contaminant in the name of public service, made possible only by nation-state edicts, such as Insurance Indemnification).

  18. prokaryotes says:

    It is a addiction problem, though people need to get of their addiction to fossil energy consumption.

  19. A Jessen says:

    More cold fusion stuff? Mostly looks like the same ol’ same ol’ to me. Beyond some conditional papers in the late 80’s, it’s a bunch of people issuing vague assertions on commercial viability (perhaps to attract “investment” $). But still, “Whether these results can be translated into commercial success, however, is still to be seen“. Contrast that with “Mankind is about to cut their GHG emissions both fast and drastically“. This stuff has been circulating awhile, and yet nothing authoritative.