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Today, we will be releasing our latest show called “The Moral Math of Climate Change” with Bill McKibben. He’s an environmentalist who has been studying and writing about issues of global warming and sustainability for more than 20 years. Most recently he founded 350.org, aimed at raising awareness about climate change and ground-up solutions around the world.

During Krista’s interview with McKibben, she asked if he could give her a better understanding of the history of climate change and how climate scientists have arrived at their conclusions. I wasn’t able to listen to the conversation while it was happening, but the first thing Krista mentioned when she emerged from the studio was how helpful his “four-minute” explanation was.

Although McKibben’s explanation isn’t a complete, comprehensive history, he provides a good overview and a basis for discussion. And, he leaves a lot of space for asking more questions.

I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply invested in this topic, and many others who are struggling to understand and better talk about sustainability issues in moral and spiritual terms. Perhaps this is a place to continue this discussion, this exploration and what it means to move forward conscientiously and culturally. Or, share this mp3 with your friends, family, and neighbors. I’d love to hear where you take this dialogue.

As the Copenhagen conference takes place and then recedes — and with it the news coverage, to a degree — that’s when we here at SOF would like to pick up our coverage and extend this conversation by recording and retelling your stories for others to hear:

  • What would it feel like to live in a world that — spiritually, psychologically, philosophically — meant something different?
  • How has climate change affected your “moral imagination?” And, in turn, how has it also changed the way you live your life on a day-to-day basis?
  • Do your family, cultural, and spiritual backgrounds factor into this understanding?

These are some of the questions were asking. Perhaps you have others that you’ve explored and thought about. Share your thoughts with us using our traditional form; and, we’re experimenting with our Google Voice number and widget to capture more audio, more voices of those who are actually thinking about the story. Click the widget below and talk to us using your phone.


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41 Comments

I'm glad to hear the suggestion that care for the earth is a spiritual issue. Now that we know what the problem is, what has caused it, and what can be done to begin to mend it, the failure to do what is necessary is a moral failure, a failure of compassion. And, as with all moral failures, ultimately, we will not be able to avoid reaping what we sow. What would the world's climate be like if everyone obeyed the simple command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves?

yes steven let's love that child molester living next door...must not have been your child.
go read that crazy book you take with you on sundays, that has all kinds of great stuff in it. lots and lots of incest, killing of your own children, and of course that god taking sides in human battles. destroying cities becasue they were sinful. I'm sure the children of 3 years or less were all sinning to some great degree.
give me a break

It looks as though, once again, no actions will actually be taken because corporatocracies own (and rule) the world. Read Johann Hari's article in The Indpendent today
(http://www.independent.co.uk/o... to see that the resolutions to the real thing (global warming) will actually be a fraud. It is time for we, the people, to speak with our own money and not buy anything that isn't locally grown or made. It is our only power against corporate greed and power. Our buying power can make or break them - it's time to take back our power and break them. If we don't buy, they will stop making money and lose their power. Let's take back the world for community living and self sustainability.
http://www.independent.co.uk/o...

Thank you for this link, and you might also be interested in this:
http://www.storyofstuff.com/ca... - a playful, engaging, and highly informative video for anyone not already aware of the "devil in the details" of emissions trading (a.k.a cap and trade).

Yes, sandra let's all go back to living in teepee's and using our feet to get to work and home and the kids to school. We'll have to stop busing, the kids would be walking anytime they are not in school. The peoples of poor nations can just fin for themselves, as we'd not be able to send them any food...no ships, planes, etc.
I'm not sure what we'd burn to keep warm, it would have to suit the enviroment. I assume that you walk everywhere, don't have any trash, and are just generally sitting in your teepee waiting for death or whatever you think is coming. Why don't we just all pray to some god wandering around in the skies...heck he'd be able to solve it. I mean he made the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. By the way, he's god...why did he need to rest? Get a grip, climate has changed ever since this planet was formed and evolution began. How they can figure this climate change crap in with a god is beyond me. Which god, oh yeah, the sun god, the water god, and mother nature.joeanderson

Though I am not an un-spiritual being, I view this climate change issue pragmatically. The powerful (and corrupt) forces opposed to taking urgent action love money and power more than they love their grandchildren. They can be overtly cynical about it or can be in denial, but that's what it boils down to. To me, it's so very simple: If we take urgent action now, and turn out to be wrong, what's been lost? Only the money possibly lost by the forces opposed to action.(And if they had any sense and initiative, they would find ways to make money out of stopping/reversing climate change!)

But if we turn out to be right, the crash of world civilization will have been averted. Note that
Lester Brown, one of the earliest and most influential environmentalists, recently said that
dealing with climate change isn't "saving the planet"; the planet will do just fine with (or maybe better WITHOUT us). It is world civilization that threatens to disintegrate, as the have-nots try to save themselves, and the haves try to keep them out.

The behavior of the corporate and political leaders who are resisting the evidence seems to suggest what I term "limbic thinking" - that is, they think only in terms of tribalism, territorialism, and short-term gains. The higher brain functions of the cerebral cortex are barely evident.

EXCELLENT!

As an A) ecologist, B) conservation activist, and C) evaluator for CPB's Climate Literacy Project, I cannot say how much I loved hearing this explanation during the broadcast. It is absolutely vital that we [the scientific community] communicate the severity of climate change to the general public in clear terms.

However, I did feel the intro of the broadcast was a bit misleading. While a few European countries do politically debate what to do about climate change, none of them debate its existance other than the US.

In a 2006 poll, in 23 of 30 countries the majority of the population (averaging 65%) agreed with the scientific community that global warming was a “very serious” problem. The only countries where this was not the majority position held were the six developing countries of China (39%), Indonesia (44%), Kenya (44%), South Africa (44%), the Philippines (46%), Nigeria (47%), and the United States (49%) (WPO 2006).

However, there are indications that the American population is beginning to internalize the realities of climate change. Before 2005, 58% of Americans felt that “extreme weather patterns, including violent storms, flooding, and drought” were “part of a natural pattern.” After the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Americans changed their opinions; now 59% of Americans think these weather patterns are unusual (WPO 2006).

This broadcast was timely because the American population is ripe to receive political, corporate, and educational initiatives to reduce climate change. Brava/o!

Very informative response: thank you!

As a 60-year old who has been environmentally aware for a long time, I appreciated Krista and Bill’s conversation. It’s one of the first times that a broadcast about climate change and not added to my “catastrophe exhaustion”. I have felt so despondent by constant bombardment of stories about contributing components like corporate greed, American rationalization and disbelief of global warming, toxic food sources, & campaigns for population-economic growth. But mostly I am depressed by those people close to me being unconscious about ramifications of their ways of living – like wasting water, avoiding recycling, ignoring mass transit.

Bill’s comments helped me back to a middle path, realizing that my 80-year old neighbor is a learning conservationist, that my local nature center is teaching the public about the issue, about my town that has more than the usual percentage of activists, and about my little neighborhood book club that enjoys occasional books and conversations about environmental issues and then makes behavioral changes.

So my question to the blog-o-sphere: Is there a current book that deals with the topic of global climate change is as clear and non-depressing way as Bill McKibben’s 4-minute explanation? What is it?

I am deeply grateful that there is a "Speaking of Faith" and likewise very thankful for the efforts of Krista Tippett and her producer and staff who make the show happen, and the organizations who empower it financially.

But...

The excellence of knowledge in this morning’s Speaking of Faith (about Global Warming) was matched only by the guest’s (Bill McKibben) excellence in arrogance when recommending that people think smaller and find greater comfort and inner gratification in the place they live … and Googling (yes: using Google) to visit places that might otherwise enrich their lives … rather than burning carbon fuel (directly or indirectly) to go there.

That kind of solution is both shameful and the ultimate intellectual cop-out.

It may work great for the fortunate few living in Middlebury Vermont who by the luck of the draw were born into families and social networks that allowed them to understand and acquire the essential tools for making smart choices on how to enrich their life. I’m just as lucky (live in Washington, D.C., though).

In point of fact, McKibben’s solution, so logical in its wording, is SO out of touch with the lives of people living in Anacostia or East St Louis or parts of Oakland - and in so many other places in America no less the world - as to defy any notion that its roots lie in REALISTIC rational, thoughtful, and empathetic thinking.

Perhaps Mr. McKibben should live with a broken family in East St Louis or Detroit for a year … on the same budget they do. He might then better meet the moral and ethical challenge of formulating a cognitive solution that works for more than just us well-off, too-often-white select few.

Global warming is SUCH a critical issue, one that cries out for multiple solutions big (Copenhagen) and small (how the interests of real live people living in my city will be served directly). Those tasks may be very hard to do, especially the second one. But a solution that fails to solve the toughest objective and instead revels in solving the easier ones (no matter how "tough" they are) is no solution at all.

Nor is delivering up prescriptions that work in the abstract but not where the rubber meets the road for most people.

Such remedies are instead no more than a slap in the face of not-so-lucky people who WOULD respond, if only they were offered (or made a part of designing) tools that were realistically relevant to their actual lives.

I highly recommend Greg Craven's book "What's the Worst That Could Happen? A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate". He models the scientific method of seeking out those who disagree with us and asking them to persuade us otherwise. Meanwhile, he asks people who are climate change skeptics if they really want to take the risk that they're wrong, and drag humanity along with them over the cliff. You can order his book and watch his great videos at his website: www.gregcraven.org. If you know a skeptic, they might even be open to checking out what he has to say. Because he is a high school chemistry teacher, his work is also very appealing to the youthful and young at heart, being laced with humor.

Once again, public radio does not disappoint. The four minute explanation of 350 ppm that gave Krista an apparent tingle up her spine (and caused her to recommend that we send it to everyone we know) failed to make the case that there is any material causal relationship between CO2 and warming. Is there any possibility that a warmer earth increases CO2 concentrations vs. the other way around?

Bill McKibbin gets the equivalent of a Larry King interview and we hear nothing from people who have a thoughtful but different view. I keep hoping public radio will become a true forum for different perspectives so I can learn from both sides. Instead it continues to be a slobber fest over greenies. You are not helping those of us who want to learn.

Our natural environment is a remarkable gift to all of us - I love it and I support sensible stewardship. There are lots of people like me who want to hear the whole story and not the Public Radio slant. Expand your world a little.

McKibbon is a good fit for the show though - his cause has become a religion and heaven (or perhaps mother earth) help the heretic.

There aren't that many people that *have* a different view. There is virtual consensus in the scientific community that global warming is occurring (that is very rare--to give you an idea, there are only really 3 things scientists agree on, gravity, thermodynamics, and evolution).

I won't go into the details here, but instead refer you to the wikipedia entry, which does a balanced job of detailing those that don't agree that the climate is changing and why.

(As for who I am, I refer you to my earlier posting for my qualifications.)

I believe you are incorrect. I suggest you read and critique the December 9, 2009 letter sent to the UN Secretary-General from 141 scientists qualified in the field and from across the globe. You can read it here: http://www.copenhagenclimatech....

Your assertion that there "aren't that many people" who disagree is both incorrect and irrelevant in any case. Only one person needs question it if the basis of questioning is sound and the questioner competent. Nearly everyone was convinced the world was flat at one point.

These 141 scientists are not lightweights. I hope you'll read their letter and see who they are. Here are the assertions they wish to see proven that have yet to be:

1. Variations in global climate in the last hundred years are significantly outside the natural range experienced in previous centuries;
2. Humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ (GHG) are having a dangerous impact on global climate;
3. Computer-based models can meaningfully replicate the impact of all of the natural factors that may significantly influence climate;
4. Sea levels are rising dangerously at a rate that has accelerated with increasing human GHG emissions, thereby threatening small islands and coastal communities;
5. The incidence of malaria is increasing due to recent climate changes;
6. Human society and natural ecosystems cannot adapt to foreseeable climate change as they have done in the past;
7. Worldwide glacier retreat, and sea ice melting in Polar Regions , is unusual and related to increases in human GHG emissions;
8. Polar bears and other Arctic and Antarctic wildlife are unable to adapt to anticipated local climate change effects, independent of the causes of those changes;
9. Hurricanes, other tropical cyclones and associated extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency;
10. Data recorded by ground-based stations are a reliable indicator of surface temperature trends.

Scientists can't even predict tomorrows weather but are sure they know what the climate will do years from now and why. Remarkable.

I was resolved to act on hearing this morning's (12/13/09) interview. I am in my 80s, and my legacy to the younger members of my family will be that I will pay for them to instal solar panels on their roofs.

Brava!

Education and culture/science, religion, governance, economics: I wonder if there are writers for children who are working out stories, parables, that redirect us to the kind of values McKibben sees as needed. I don't know where he found out that people have half as many friends when using automobiles, but where I live I find I have to explain that if you're getting around in a steel case you won't be using that time socially, though the one driving around in the steel case would be able to attend meetings farther afield.
I feel the need to explain to Washington DC in general all the time. In listening to Summers and Geithner and legislators, they think in terms of heating up the economy, with all the concomitant elements that are ruinous in terms of environment. Of roads, some legislator or economist on the Sunday morning talk shows today said. "Don't you know road-work is square one in any recovery?"
To listen to McKibben, there may not be time to educate a generation to see a better future without basing it on ginning up the destructive parts of the past economy (and its corresponding social independence). Let alone bring that vision to fruition. Be that as it may, children exist.
How can a declaration of dependence (McKibben's phrase) be put on the table as centerpiece?
But I suspect publishers, teachers, and school boards would view new parables askance. Maybe not. I ask you. Actually, lots of children's classics do proffer McKibben's values, partly because children are already downsized. In some basic way, they know they are not in charge, and value themselves regardless, and put trust and collaboration right at the center.
But education has this spiritual aspect to it, and maybe you have addressed it in a show already. McKibben spoke of 16- to 25-year-olds at his home and as students at Middlebury College, how they reassure him, reinspire him. How did they get so savvy, so wise?

I was happy to hear McKibben's joy in the generation that is now 16 to 25. I'm not willing to take that for granted. I understand why his daughter would understand where the world has to be headed, socially and economically, in new values and methods. I'm not so sure about the rest of that generation. What are children learning, here and in other countries? Children are born with a lot of the right perspective: wanting to be collaborative, accepting their limits.
I especially ask because the five American young men from a mosque near Washington, D.C., who were arrested in Pakistan for seeking to make common cause with jihad, as I understand it, were reported by their religioius community as specifically NOT having "politics" discussed at all at the mosque. Afterschool activities are centered on things like sports, to keep them occupied. That is safe. But was it adequate?
Americans (including our Muslims) are maybe too afraid to discuss politics and religion, to become "educated" communicators in these matters, I'm thinking.
In short, there is space for curious and passionate young people to get snapped up by, um, "enthusiasms." What can I say?
Speaking of Faith (for example) is broadcast where I live at 6:00 AM on Sunday, a "safe" time, but a start.

“The Moral Math of Climate Change” did not impress me. I have always listened to SOF, and really enjoy most of the interviews. This one, however, left me cold.
I don't feel morally responsible for an increase of deaths caused by mosquitos whose population has increased because of "global warming." McKibben has not made his case. I feel responsible in a general sense, because I live in an advanced society which may not be doing enough to prevent tropical illnesses through the erradication of mosquitos. But the guilt trip just does not apply.
McKibben also states that because of evaporation Africa is getting drier. This seems straight out of the flat earth society.
The Sahara Desert alone is expanding southwards at an average of 0.8 km (½ mile) a month, and has been doing this for centuries, much longer than our impact on the earth's atmosphere.
Furthermore, if there is more water in the atmosphere through evaporation, then there should be more rain, not more draught.
The glaciars are melting in one part of the Antartica, but the ice pack in the Antartica is growing, and new glaciars are expanding (example the Perito Moreno in Argentina or the Hubbard glacier in Alaska.)
The claim concerning the saturation of CO2 in salt water needs some verification. I am not a chemical scientist, and my search did not reveal the result. But I doubt the claim. There have been large changes in the temperature of the earth in the past, these were not caused by human activity, was CO2 not involved in these?
In any case, the 20 minutes that I heard (while running) did not convince me. I look forward to another 20 minutes tomorrow.
I am disturbed by the lack of pointed questions. The assumption by Ms Tippet that she is being told the truth bother's me. In religion, understanding is important. In science, probing is necessary.
In any case, I love to listen, and will continue.
Leon

As you say, probing is important - so, I'd like to know where your facts come from too. For instance, where did you find the information you cite about the Antarctic ice pack increasing? I'd like to read that myself.

Ah! I think I know the source of confusion here :)

Did you know there are 3 types of ice in Antarctica? Ice shelves attach to land, but jut out over the sea. Then you have land-ice (glaciers and the like, which are constantly moving, but very slowly), and of course sea ice, which is free floating in the ocean.

The ice we are concerned with are *ice shelves*. When ice shelves break apart and fall into the sea, sea level rises, because this is now *new ice* (and eventually new water) that the ocean is supporting. Melting sea and land ice (while problematic indicators for other reasons) aren't as bad because they don't change sea levels. Gigantic ice shelves, breaking into the ocean are VERY VERY BAD.

What can happen? Not just changing sea levels, but changing sea temperatures and therefore changing sea circulation. If the ocean doesn't circulate, we won't have currents, and you can imagine what a disaster that would be (ecologically, for trade routes, etc).

If ice interests you, (or if you just want information on how Antarctica is linked to climate change), I point you to ANDRILL's (ANtarctic geological DRILLing) website:

http://www.andrill.org

They've got great educational resources there, including short video clips in addition to text and pictures.

Your point is not really germane. If global warming means a re-distribution of the ice in the world, that simply eliminates the argument for drowned cities by mitigating the rise of water around the continents. If it also means that the sea temperature will be lowered in some places (as it moves), it means that the sea temperature will grow warmer where it has been. We need a very accurate thermal simulation of the earth. Where will we get such a simulation, given that all our data is less than 70 years old, is spotty, and we need to cover millions of years to see if the simulation is accurate?
In any case, this looks very much like having a model of the stock market (where we have a huge amount of information). If you know of such a simulation, and it has predicted highs and lows accurately withn say $10, then I'll probably believe that we can guess at the temperature of the world in 100 years to the accuracy of 1 degree.
I'll look at adrill.org. I hope you don't see me as an anti green extremist.
Leon

I sent you what you requested in my previous email. I was upset by the lack of depth in the area of climate change, but I enjoyed most of his opinions on why we should conserve, and how a greener world is one in which we will in closer contact (physical and spiritual) with one another.
He stated that Africa is going dry because of global warming. That does not make sense. This world is 3/5 or more water. Water evaporates, and then condenses. Just like there is CO2 saturation, there is water saturation. Water does not just stay suspended in the air, and we are too heavy a planet for it to achieve orbital or better velocity and be gone from the world. The impact of water vapor and heat differences will affect global water currents (I hear that the Japanese current in Northern California has changed a bit, making Southern California drier), and this may influence the weather. The mathematics, and the simulation of weather is a very difficult thing to achieve. I know, since I have been involved in simulations and computer models most of my life.

We also know the world has seen heat waves and cold waves much wider than we are observing prior to the advent of the world. DNA gets lost, and recreated throughout the history of the world. Where are the myriad of Dinosaurs that once inhabited the earth? So just saying platitudes and generalizations may convince those who wish to be convinced, but it is not a "scientific" or "mathematical" approach.

Sincerely
Leon Rogson

I am so encouraged when i read that other listeners also found this show disturbing. The hostess takes McKibbon's presentation as unquestionably true without probing at all. What kind of journalism is this?

Question that demand to be answered:

1. If Man caused Global Warming is a survival issue, why did the Kyoto Protocol allow developing countries to limitlessly pollute?

2. How does carbon trading set in place by Kyoto Protocol reduce pollution with a net reduction of Zero? +1-1=0

3. How is CO2 production connected to religion? CO2 is not mentioned in my Bible.

4. Why does the Kyoto Protocol only deal with the relationship of fossil fuels and CO2? Does not the burning of any renewable energy also produce CO2 ie wood, dried dung, etc?

5. What is the planet Earths major heat source? Why is it not figured in on the Global Warming models?

6. List "Global Warming scientist" predictions which have come true in the past 60 years.

7. How many people would lose their jobs if Al Gore were to announce that he had made a terrible mistake, he is wrong, and he is terribly sorry for all the stress he has put the world through? (refer to Hadley research e-mail hacking) Politicians, scientists, NASA, geologist....... etc

8. I have more practical questions but if these do not raise more questions, you have indeed drank the CoolAid

Regarding burning materials like dried dung or wood does release carbon but does not contribute to increased atmospheric CO2 because the carbon in those materials have only recently become sequestered. Unlike fossil fuels in which the carbon has been sequestered for centuries. The recently sequestered carbon is part of the cycling of elements through the normal life-cycle of birth, growth, death, decay wherein elements are constantly bound up, released, and re-used. That's life and death in an ordinary way. Burning fossil fuels rapidly releases carbon that was bound up in a very long term way and overloads our system. Now, hypothetically, if we planted tropical rain forests at the same rate we burned fossil fuel, perhaps it would even out. I'm not smart enough to design a model to calculate that. someone is though, and maybe it has been calculated.

1. Developing countries theoretically didn't have the means to adapt to newer, cleaner, more technologically advanced (= expensive) technologies. Since developed countries supposedly do, they were supposed to take the lead on this one and "set a good example." Considering that developed countries consume more fossil fuels per capita, its not a bad idea, really. (I mean, for a start at least!)

2. You got me! I'm not really sure!

3. Well, I'm just guessing since you mentioned the Bible that you're Christian, so there are a few Christian arguments I'll guide you towards:
--The Earth is the Lord's: (Genesis 1:3, Psalms 24:1, etc.)
--God has made covenants with not just man, but all the animals and plants of the Earth before: (Gen. 1:30, Gen. 9:8-17)
--You are supposed to care for what God gave you: (Col. 1:16-20)
--The Bible repeatedly tells us to be good stewards: (I Peter 4:10-11, parables in Luke and Mark, I forget where)

4. Cynthia answered this well, but I'll add that the other fuels you mentioned are (literally) a fraction of a percent of the emissions of what fossil fuels emit into the atmosphere. They're not big contributers at all. Also, I'd like to add that it takes closer to hundreds of thousands of years if not millions to make fossil fuels, not just centuries--we're talking a *really long time* to make fossil fuels. We're literally burning dead dinosaurs.

5. I'm not sure what you mean--I think you're talking to the "green house effect" which is something different, its why we have life here on Earth at all (why we're not Venus or Mars, actually). Because we have an atmosphere, we lock in the sun's rays (our main source of heat, which I think is what you meant). Because we have CO2, those rays keep bouncing around inside our atmosphere; they get trapped "under" the lid of our atmosphere, warming us up to a nice room temperature (or thereabouts). This is similar to how your car heats up when it sits in the sun. Global warming is this process gone haywire--we can't control the sun, but we can control our atmosphere.

6. You'd have to google this, I'm running low on time ;) I'll just cite current weather patterns, increased drought, hurricanes, adn extreme weather.

7. Not that many--probably just a few talking heads, maybe? Some talkshow hosts? Scientists are comfortable with error because we divulge all of our methods and data, so its a full-transparency atmosphere. The scientific community thrives on self-correction, so people don't get in trouble for being "wrong," there's just "new data." Since virtually all of the data points in the same direction, this seems a moot point, though.

I found it ironic Bill McKibben appeared on this show right after the hacking incident of University of East Anglia emails which revealed that climate change is no longer an scientific issue, but rather political. For some people like Mr. McKibben, it is a religion. (That's probably why he appeared on this show!) I always thought the 20th century's biggest religion was communism. Environmentalism is the top candidate for that of the 21st century. I am deeply disturbed by how much suffering the environmental activism is causing especially among developing countries. We all know much disastrous communism was. I hope this earth-worshipping religion collapses before it produces as many victims as communism.

I have tremendous respect for McKibben, but am profoundly frustrated that the conversation about climate change never moves beyond the dubious aspects of the science to the clear and stunning solutions. Some of McKibben's ideas about humans needing to cooperate more in order to solve global warming are right on the mark, but to make that clear we must have a better understanding of what can and must be done.

Energy efficiency is the only technology which is available in sufficient quantity today at a sufficiently low cost to get us on the path to a carbon free economy. Tripling 2008 U.S. utility efficiency spending would cost $9 billion and save $27 billion. That is merely raising all states to the level of the best states already running such programs. Raising 2008 electric utility efficiency spending five times saves $45 billion, and allocating a third of that to renewables gets us to zero coal in about 20 years, and zero electric sector emissions in about 25 years.

It also creates millions of jobs, stimulates the economy, and repairs and improves most homes and commercial buildings. The electric sector must be pursued aggressively because the natural gas sector can also be brought to zero in about the same time, but depends on renewable electricity to heat buildings which cannot be fully retrofitted with insulation, and replacement of the 18% of natural gas which generates electricty.

Further, the best petroleum response is electric vehicles, and while something better may emerge soon, it is a good bet that we will need electric generation to avoid fueling those cars with coal.

Taking this set of scenarios to their conclusion could take pages. But climate change is literally the first time the human race has run into the physical limits of our environment. We will either learn to behave as a species, as opposed to behaving as individuals, or we will suffer the consequences. Warming is probably of secondary importance to ocean pH change. Warming threatens global hydrology and the ability to feed billions of people. Those who make light of the threats are simply not good students. But warming is complex. Ocean pH change is pretty simple, and we're changing the precise chemical balance in the ocean which most aquatic life manipulates in order to form their bodies. Carbon enters the ocean and becomes carbonic acid, a weak acid, but one which is strong enough to be biologically significant at the levels we currently have caused. Over this century the prospects are deeply disturbing to those who understand this part of the science.

But the best question for this forum is "If there are such strong concerns, and the solutions are so attractive, why do we have such an incredibly difficult time thinking about and discussing response strategies?" Some states save tens of billions of dollars each year, and yet most people dismiss efficiency as a trivial side-show. In fact we can't build enough renewables fast enough unless we find a dramatic funding source, and efficiency savings provide that. But we still can't seem to have that conversation.

Hi folks,
One of the things that I have found so interesting, and confusing, about the climate "debate" is how polarized so much of the discussion tends to be. I don't believe that either "side" is religious about their beliefs, but there is a kind of stridency that gets amped up awfully quick. I came across an approach to thinking about (and acting on) this issue today that struck me because it is such a creative way to cut through the distraction of who is right and who is wrong.

This is an economist's proposal that suggests an approach that is tied to what is actually happening temperature-wise on the planet as we go forward. He says basically that it is an approach that ought to appeal to the skeptics and the believers. Please take a look at the links if this sounds interesting, and see what you think.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12...
http://sites.google.com/site/r...

By the way, I'm an environmental scientist who works with air quality models - though not global climate models - so I have some understanding of how difficult it is to get clear direction from these tools. I have also been following the global warming news and literature for about 20 years. Personally I don't think the scientific process has been subverted at all. I think whenever the stakes are as high as they are in this debate it is difficult for all of us to remember that things may be, and may turn out, very different than we may think.

I would appreciate global warming believers to provide their commentary on the December 9, 2009 letter sent to the UN Secretary-General from 141 scientists qualified in the field and from across the globe. You can read it here: http://www.copenhagenclimatech....

In response to a comment I made a few days ago, Christine said that there "aren't that many people" who disagree. That is not correct but is irrelevant in any case. Only one person needs question it if the basis of questioning is sound and the questioner competent. Nearly everyone was convinced the world was flat at one point.

These 141 scientists are not lightweights. I hope you'll read their letter and see who they are. Here are the assertions they wish to see proven that have yet to be:

1. Variations in global climate in the last hundred years are significantly outside the natural range experienced in previous centuries;
2. Humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ (GHG) are having a dangerous impact on global climate;
3. Computer-based models can meaningfully replicate the impact of all of the natural factors that may significantly influence climate;
4. Sea levels are rising dangerously at a rate that has accelerated with increasing human GHG emissions, thereby threatening small islands and coastal communities;
5. The incidence of malaria is increasing due to recent climate changes;
6. Human society and natural ecosystems cannot adapt to foreseeable climate change as they have done in the past;
7. Worldwide glacier retreat, and sea ice melting in Polar Regions , is unusual and related to increases in human GHG emissions;
8. Polar bears and other Arctic and Antarctic wildlife are unable to adapt to anticipated local climate change effects, independent of the causes of those changes;
9. Hurricanes, other tropical cyclones and associated extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency;
10. Data recorded by ground-based stations are a reliable indicator of surface temperature trends.

Scientists can't even predict tomorrow's weather or hurricane activity but are sure they know what the climate will do years from now and why. I don't believe it is sound science.

I hear this go from "drop dead" to "heart attack" to a "bad sign" :)

Q/ Why do scientists call a journalist in a panic..in the middle of the night ?

A/ Well, they couldn't wait until morning, could they ?

My personal belief is that climate change is real, and as such, it carries huge implications.
I also believe Christ is real. Talk about implications! As a human, I will always fall short.
God makes up the difference in my relationship with Him through Grace.
The climate may not be so forgiving.

I have not and I know of no one - liberal or otherwise - who has given up driving a car, heating their homes with gas, using electricity from a coal powered plant. No one. And I know no one [at least in America] who would tolerate government interference to the degree necessary to change that. So whether or not you think human activity is causing global warming, it does not really matter. It is what it is. We can't change the changing, and all our conservative angst to keep the world the way it "always was" has little or no hope of turning into adequately productive action. As the tundra thaws and releases its greenhouse gases, the tipping point will pass. That point it too near to avoid, if it hasn't passed already.

But some things will stay the same: The Earth will still orbit the sun, and through infinite adaptability, biological life (and probably human life and civilization in some form) will go on. Knowing what will happen and where it will lead (however imprecisely) gives us some sense of control - and thereby, some comfort. Other than that, we inevitably move forward into the inevitable. Debating the details will not help. Will anxiety help the lilies of the field avoid their fate or we ours? And given that we can't really know what we haven't experienced, we truly can't relate to the change that is coming, except in abstract - that it is change and that it is coming.

Perhaps we need to spend time thinking about this situation from a different perspective:
Is the biologically inevitable, by definition, the Creator's will for his biologically-based creation?
Didn't God anticipate global warming when He created humans with the potential to cause it?
If so to what purpose?
Or, by chance, did we throw off His plans when we failed at Nuclear Holocaust, Plan A?
Could Climate Change be His fail-safe, Plan B?
If we don't annihilate ourselves with this one, what's Plan C? Have we any doubt there is one?

Our control got us into this mess. Our anxiety about it betrays our underlying belief that more control is the answer to it. Maybe we do not need to learn more about how to change the world we were given and have abused, but instead learn more about how to be changed by it - how to grow as God's people. Even in situations where there is no opportunity for action, there is often an opportunity for insight. Perhaps this is one.

Well, just look at how the climate scientists are being so deceptive. Michael Mann's big claims are dependent on sleight of hand...
BIG press release "A skillful EIV reconstruction without tree-ring data is possible even further back, over at least the past 1,300 years, for NH combined land plus ocean temperature (see SI Text). This achievement represents a significant development relative to earlier studies with sparser proxy networks (4) where it was not possible to obtain skillful long-term reconstructions without tree-ring data."
Because he was refuted on the validity of his tree ring use to produce the Hockey Stick.
That was 2008. Finally after much war, the admission is wrung out his RealClimate colleague, NASA's Gavin Schmidt
" Question: Under either method (CPS or EIV) it is not possible to get a validated reconstruction to before 1500 without the use of tree rings, or the Tiljander sediments.
Answer: That appears to be the case with the Mann et al 2008 network."

Mike Mann before public exposure
"We place greatest confidence in the EIV reconstructions, particularly back to A.D. 700, when a skillful reconstruction as noted earlier is possible without using tree-ring data at all "…
Recent warmth exceeds that reconstructed for at least the past 1,800 years in the EIV reconstructions, and this conclusion extends back at least 1,500 years without using tree-ring data."

all the claims of 1998 Hottest year and Hottest Decade, and Hotter than ever, are invalid claims, as admitted now.

A skillful EIV reconstruction without tree-ring data is possible even further back, over at least the past 1,300 years, for NH combined land plus ocean temperature (see SI Text). This achievement represents a significant development relative to earlier studies with sparser proxy networks (4) where it was not possible to obtain skillful long-term reconstructions without tree-ring data.
To what is now admitted by NASA's Gavin Schmidt, Mann's colleage at RealClimate. Question: Under either method (CPS or EIV) it is not possible to get a validated reconstruction to before 1500 without the use of tree rings, or the Tijlander sediments.
Answer: That appears to be the case with the Mann et al 2008 network.

It's fascinating, Ex..warming or no warming.

Mike Mann before public exposure We place greatest confidence in the EIV reconstructions, particularly back to A.D. 700, when a skillful reconstruction as noted earlier is possible without using tree-ring data at all "…
Recent warmth exceeds that reconstructed for at least the past 1,800 years in the EIV reconstructions, and this conclusion extends back at least 1,500 years without using tree-ring data.

Very well put. But, since this phenomena is well understood and has been for quite a while (I had to calculate these Greenhouse numbers in my Environmental Chemistry class in 1976), what we have is not a problem with understanding it. What we have is a crisis of leadership!

Greg, you say "this phenomena is well understood". If you are speaking of the Greenhouse phenomenon, singular, yes, it's simple and understood that certain things will "trap heat".

That's not enough to support everything being said, and the immense upheaval being demanded of our economies and way of life.
Responsible climate scientists are quite clearly saying now that it's young science and very ltittle is known about large parts of the whole.

take Amazongate ... the huge claims about it's vulnerability to a small reduction in rain are found to be only based on WWF type pamphleteering...and the best new studies say quite the opposite. suer, if one projects that wildfires from endles drought comparable to one very bad year's drought, there would be big loss.
But projections are simply what would happen If "such and such were true". Prediction is different.
IPCC expanded an original non scientific claim of 40 % of Brazil's forest being vulnerable, to 40% of all Amazon's forest being at risk from small drop in rainfall.
It's just not true according to the latest science.

these folks need to calm down. Gavin Schmidt, NASA scientist/RealClimate mouth, activist, got arrested for stopping a DEATH TRAIN...loaded with DEATH COAL.
c'mon, guys. give us a break.

Bill McKibben is a hero. I am sharing this interview far and wide.

Janet Ward

Climate change has been an old story, but the real increase in concerns related to environment threats accelerated after the growth in pace of mining and oil drilling industry. However the Mining Water Treatment and Water Recycling industry has brought solutions and hopefully they will resolve the problems.