published Monday, May 16th, 2011

Call to action on warming

The public perception of climate change has shifted considerably in recent years from one of significant doubt about the role heat-trapping gases play in global warming to one of general acceptance. Still, there are enough doubters extant to challenge any major effort to reduce the emissions blamed for the phenomenon. A report released by the National Research Council on Thursday makes a persuasive argument that continued reluctance to address the issue exposes current and future generations to considerable risk.

The report, “America’s Climate Choice,” was requested by Congress in 2008 when Democrats were in the majority. The mission was to develop “action-oriented advice” on how the United States should react to the possible consequences of climate change. The report was prepared by a group that included scientists, engineers, economists and businessmen from diverse backgrounds. The goal, which seems to have been met, was to provide sound, fact-based information in a manner free of the partisan taint that for too long clouded any investigation or discussion of climate change.

‘Pressing’ need

The report’s conclusion is straightforward. Global warming, it concludes, is real, and its effects are already apparent. Moreover, there is what the group uniformly agreed was a “pressing” need for new policies at the national level to limit emissions of the harmful gases, especially carbon monoxide, the primary greenhouse gas. The initial political response to the report and the advice it proffers, unfortunately, was mixed. That’s hardly a surprise given the deep political divisions on the topic in Washington.

Despite growing, indeed overwhelming proof that climate change is happening and that it is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, there are those who continue to challenge the science that provides and supports such evidence. That’s the view of many of the Republicans who hold the majority in the U.S. House. In addition to those who doubt the science, there are others, including some Democrats, who accept the fact of climate change, but are reluctant to address it through policy and legislative changes because they fear either or both would hurt a fragile economy through increases in already high energy prices. Those beliefs are short-sighted.

Take action now

The report was careful to avoid endorsement of specific changes in policy or law, but it did say that failure to take action now could lead to disastrous problems later. “The risks associated with doing business as usual are a much greater concern than the risks associated with engaging in ambitious but measured response efforts,” the authors of the report wrote. “This is because many aspects of an ‘overly ambitious’ policy response could be reversed or otherwise addressed, if needed, through subsequent policy change, whereas adverse changes in the climate system are much more difficult (indeed, on the time scale of our lifetimes, may be impossible) to ‘undo.’” In other words, if action to reduce emissions is not instituted now, it might be too late to take such steps in the future.

Temperatures rising

The report provides ample evidence for the need to act promptly. The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by about 1.4 degrees in the last century. About one degree of that increase has come in the last 30 years, the report indicates. In the United States, average temperatures have increased by more than two degrees in the last 50 years. The report indicated that a “preponderance” of scientific evidence shows that the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases is the most likely cause of warming during those 50 years.

The result of such warming is increasingly evident to those who care to examine carefully compiled statistics without bias. Melting ice in the cold regions of the globe has caused a rise in average sea levels around the globe. Rising temperatures have spawned an increase in extreme weather conditions — widespread drought or floods in some places, heavy and more violent storms in others. The council did not offer a specific antidote, but indicated that any useful policy to reduce emissions of gases ideally should include putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions. That’s not a new idea, but it is a sound one.

“Putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions, either through a cap-and-trade program or a tax, is a critical step in addressing climate change,” said Albert Carnesale, chairman of the panel and chancellor emeritus of the University of California, Los Angeles. That implies that the federal government should act responsibly and quickly to take such regulatory action. That’s sensible. Without federal leadership, any effort to reduce emissions through a combination of state, local and industry programs is likely to fail. Still, there are those who doubt the need to address the increasingly pressing issue.

Foe not impressed

Rep. Joe L. Barton, R-Texas and a staunch opponent of additional regulation of carbon emissions, didn’t think much of the council’s report. “I see nothing substantive in this report that adds to the knowledge base necessary to make an informed decision about what steps — if any — should be taken to address climate change,” he said. That mindset, shared by many others, will be difficult to overcome.

Still, the effort to limit greenhouse gases must move forward — and promptly. As the research council report so clearly indicates, failure to develop strong new national policies to limit emissions of greenhouses gases poses a clear and present danger and exposes future generations to profound and irreversible change.

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GThreepwood said...

Wow, . Global warming believers are not exactly known for their scientific literacy, but this is embarrassing!

‘limit emissions of the harmful gases, especially carbon monoxide, the primary greenhouse gas.’

The GHG in question is Co2 - Carbon Dioxide, not monoxide. But this is still not the primary GHG which is in fact water vapor by a LONG way. Co2 is not 'dirty pollution', it is a product of natural respiration which is the main source of 'emissions', it's main role is in photosythesis, most plants evolved with Co2 levels far higher and still prefer levels around 3 or 4 times higher than today.

‘The public perception of climate change has shifted considerably in recent years from one of significant doubt about the role heat-trapping gases play in global warming to one of general acceptance’

This sounds like something written 15 years ago, before global warming was the subject of satire. Actually the more people have become educated, the more faith in global warming has plummeted. Look up any poll you like

‘Melting ice in the cold regions of the globe has caused a rise in average sea levels around the globe’

Actually, sea levels have been rising since the last interglacial maximum some 19,000 years ago. Pray this does not stop or reverse in our lifetimes! No acceleration has been detected since ‘industrialization’

In 2007, IPCC notes “Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 [1.3 to 2.3] mm per year over 1961 to 2003 (IPCC) concluded that “No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected

This is actually the IPCC interpretation of ‘a slight deceleration’

‘widespread drought or floods in some places, heavy and more violent storms in others’

IN fact, global warming would reduce the overall strength of weather systems. Weather is powered by temp contrast, not heat alone. Consider the greatest storms we know of are on Jupiter and Saturn which are far colder. Likewise Venus has an atmos. of some 97% Co2. Temps of 700 degrees and hardly a breath of wind- because of the even heating. .

Global warming would warm the poles disproportionately, creating a more evenly heated and hence more stable climate. .

These basic facts are known by 10's of thousands of qualified skeptical scientists who consider catastrophic AGW a humiliation to science. This versus a handful of discredited political activist groups . So what’s this all about? .

“Putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions, either through a cap-and-trade program or a tax, is a critical step in addressing climate change,”

Bingo!- you can’t tax natural phenomena that have occurred for 100's of millions of years, but the by-product of all economic activity on Earth? It would be very surprising if politicians were not trying to tax that!

May 16, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.
bowensky said...

This sounds like a term paper written by a student with a predetermined agenda, and a bad one at that. Yes we have climate change. Always have. Always will. Sometimes cooling. Sometimes warming. We had both before human "contributions."

I always ask the global warming alarmists what they would do if we had global cooling. Would they proceed to recommend that we burn as much fossil fuel as possible to warm up the climate. Of course they wouldn't!

Global warming is a political religion.

May 16, 2011 at 11:37 p.m.
nucanuck said...

The Koch koolaid drinkers find comfort in the pseudo-science debunking the human impact on climate and warming. America's anti-science bias fits right in with the rapid decline we are experiencing as nation after nation passes us by while we wallow in our past successes.

Gripped by the "me factor", we have become the world's problem instead of the world's problem solver.

The two prior posts reflect the earnestness of the misdirected, taking us away from reasonable policies for planetary health in order to justify continuation of a ruinous unsustainable pillaging of earth, sea, and air.

May 17, 2011 at 1:08 a.m.
jackiej said...

Agreed, we have not been given any specifics here, you can't just say "we need to change" bring this back to the table when you can tell us the specific changes that need to be implemented.

May 17, 2011 at 1:58 p.m.

Reasonable polices, nucanuck? Get a grip, man. Next thing from you will be the prediction of canabalism due to overpopulation and inability to grow crops. Or have you already covered that?

May 17, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.
nucanuck said...


Would you like to explain to us how our current environmental practices are even slightly sustainable for planet earth going forward a century or two?

After your explanation, we can discuss reasonable policies.

May 17, 2011 at 3:06 p.m.
nucanuck said...


Rather than argue about climate and it's causes, focusing on what man is doing to, land, and water should be of primary interest to us all.

Our current consumption rates are said to require five earths to continue on as we now do. We all see signs of stress everywhere, if we look. Energy availability is beginning to become price prohibitive. Our oceans shows multiple signs of degradation. We are stripping away the planets resources leaving little for the future.

When do we say...Enough! We must take resposibility for our actions, or do you see it differently?

May 17, 2011 at 3:35 p.m.
Plato said...

I have never seen an important issue where ignorance is more abundant than Global Climate Change:

"Human-induced global warming is real, according to a recent U.S. survey based on the opinions of 3,146 scientists. However there remains divisions between climatologists and scientists from other areas of earth sciences as to the extent of human responsibility. A survey of more than 3,000 scientists found that the vast majority believe humans cause global warming. . . . .

. . . . . The study released today was conducted by academics from the University of Illinois, who used an online questionnaire of nine questions. The scientists approached were listed in the 2007 edition of the American Geological Institute's Directory of Geoscience Departments.

This is from 2009, and there are other reports since then that further confirm this problem.

To date despite all the smoke and mirrors created by the dissenters to confuse the issue, largely funded by EXXON and other polluters, there isn't one single pear reviewed study that disputes the reality of human induced global warming.

May 17, 2011 at 7:20 p.m.
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