Archive for Bill McKibben

What Does It Take Dep't: Yet another report confirms man-made climate change, and it's not pretty


gulp bigger

As I said in my post, Climate change won’t wait; it’s “a fight between human beings and physics… The less you do, the worse it gets”:

I wish there were about 100 more Bill McKibbens (scroll). This post is a good introduction to him if you don’t know who he is: Maher VIDEO: Hey climate change deniers: “What are we gonna develop that replaces Iowa?” Oceans, marine life, seafood industry now at risk. So are the many videos at the McKibben link above, all illustrating his excellent arguments for immediate, effective action on the climate change crisis.

I urge you to link over and read what McKibben has to say. And as you'll see further down in this post, he has even more to tell us. But first, take a look at what's being reported by a federal advisory committee that was written by 240 scientists, business leaders and other experts. The L.A. Times has the story, and the story is, we're already there. Climate change is no longer some future threat, we're already feeling the pain, and it's only going to get worse. But I'm betting you already knew that:

The impacts of climate change driven by human activity are spreading through the United States faster than had been predicted, increasingly threatening infrastructure, water supplies, crops and shorelines, according to a federal advisory committee.

The draft Third National Climate Assessment, issued every four years, delivers a bracing picture of environmental changes and natural disasters that mounting scientific evidence indicates is fostered by climate change: heavier rains in the Northeast, Midwest and Plains that have overwhelmed storm drains and led to flooding and erosion; sea level rise that has battered coastal communities; drought that has turned much of the West into a tinderbox.

"Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," the report says. "Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer."


And guess what they say is the main driver of climate change. You guessed right: consumption of fossil fuels by humans. Drill, baby, drill!

Now back to Bill McKibben. After reading that report and coming out from under the bed, I toddled over to the Times' letters to the editor page, and there was a hefty postscript to a reaction to the McKibben article I referred to at the top of this post.

In in a letter published previously, a reader asked "How much would [McKibben's ideas] slow the pace of climate change? Would it make a significant difference, or would it simply be destroying modern economies for the sake of doing something? What will be the result if we don't do it?" McKibben had proposed cutting emissions "globally at a sensational rate, by something like 5% a year."

McKibben was grateful for the questions and responded, in part, this way:

A 2-degree increase, it should be noted, is no picnic. So far we've raised the temperature 1 degree, and that's been enough to melt much of the Arctic ice, so most scientists are horrified by the thought of a 2-degree rise. But on our current path, we're headed for 6 degrees, which is a planet out of science fiction. [...]

[Y]es, this will cost money. It would also indicate that the newly rebuilt economy will be far more efficient and productive — think back and compare the prewar economy of the 1930s and the postwar one of the 1950s.

As for "destroying modern economies," the real danger lies in not doing anything about climate change. [...]

[T]he cost of unchecked global warming could pass the combined cost of both world wars and the Depression. To understand how such a thing might happen, consider the costs of this year's drought and Superstorm Sandy: $100 billion price tags start to add up (and of course the biggest price was born by poor consumers around the world, many of whom saw the price of their daily bread rise painfully out of reach).

Bottom line: not easy or cheap, but easier and cheaper than the alternative of a hopelessly overheating world.

Of course, per Wonkette, Fox News Does Its Part In War On Science, Demands ‘Recount’ Of Weather Temperatures.

ClusterFox strikes again. Apparently, they have no children or grandchildren.


Climate change won't wait; it's "a fight between human beings and physics... The less you do, the worse it gets."


too little too late

I wish there were about 100 more Bill McKibbens (scroll). This post is a good introduction to him if you don't know who he is: Maher VIDEO: Hey climate change deniers: “What are we gonna develop that replaces Iowa?” Oceans, marine life, seafood industry now at risk. So are the many videos at the McKibben link above, all illustrating his excellent arguments for immediate, effective action on the climate change crisis.

Today he had an op-ed in the L.A. Times that I urge everyone to read in full. He makes the point that there is no time to waste and reminds us of the urgency of this worrisome global issue. Unlike some issues like gay rights and women's rights for which change takes time while public opinion evolves, he writes, the threats of climate change wait for nobody. It's not a matter of conflicting opinions, it's "a fight between human beings and physics... The less you do, the worse it gets."

He's so right, it only gets worse, and that's why doing so little about it is so unnerving, especially considering Congress's track record of doing nothing until we teeter on crisis after crisis, doing nothing at all, or starting to do something but at a snail's pace. And don't get me started on climate change deniers.

McKibben explains that had we postponed health care reform, it would have been no picnic, but once we were finally to get around to it, the problem "would be about the same size." But with climate change, if we don't act now, it won't wait around for us, it will turn into a growing disaster of immense proportions chugging along on its own time table.

Meantime, he goes on to say, President Obama still encourages fossil fuel development, an "all of the above" approach to energy. He supports conservation and clean energy, too, but continues to be hampered by Congress, or himself, when it comes to projects like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline or drilling in the Arctic.

We can't let this become a matter of too little too late. The life of the planet is at stake:

The president must be pressed to do all he can — and more. But there's another possibility we need to consider: Perhaps he's simply not up to this task, and we're going to have to do it for him, as best we can.

Those of us in the growing grass-roots climate movement are moving as fast and hard as we know how (though not, I fear, as fast as physics demands). Thousands of us will descend on Washington on Presidents Day weekend for the largest environmental demonstration in years. And young people from 190 nations will gather in Istanbul, Turkey, in June in an effort to shame the United Nations into action.

We also need you. Maybe if we move fast enough, even this all-too-patient president will get caught up in the draft. But we're not waiting for him. We can't.

climate change polluters protest


Maher VIDEO: Hey climate change deniers: "What are we gonna develop that replaces Iowa?" Oceans, marine life, seafood industry now at risk.


Bill McKibben: "What are we gonna develop that replaces Iowa?"

Maher: "I never understand why people with kids feel that way... You can stick your head in the sand all you want."

 Will Cain: "I don't think the science is settled."

Maher: "'In the Bible...' Now that I know that your sourcing this back to the old book of Jewish fairy tales, I am SO down with whatever's gonna come out of your mouth..."

McKibben to Mark Foley: "...Every month for the last 330 it's been warmer than it was in the last century. Saying on this day in Florida it was cooler than that day in Chicago doesn't even begin to be an argument."


Bill McKibben appears on Real Time with Bill Maher, Oct 5-2012.
Fox News's Frank Luntz and Ex-Republican Rep Mark Foley try to put forth some sort of logical sounding arguments to McKibben, but look like children when Maher and McKibben put them squarely in their place. Children vs Adults here. Global Warming is a crisis unequaled in human history.

A new report by the Organization DARA says 100 Million deaths could be caused by Global Warming by 2030.

As I watched Will Cain and Mark Foley's completely meaningless arguments, as I watched their feeble attempts to outargue Bill McKibben of all people, I had to laugh. But this is so damned serious, climate change is such an enormous threat, I also have to cry as I observe those who live in their own profits-over-people world of denial insist on making the planet unsafe for the rest of us, and for their own children.

How can they continue to ignore what is visibly, tangibly happening around them?

Via the L.A. Times:

"There's no debating it," said Barton, who manages Whiskey Creek, which supplies three-quarters of the oyster seed to independent shellfish farms from Washington to California. "We're changing the chemistry of the oceans."

Rising acidity doesn't just imperil the West Coast's $110-million oyster industry. It ultimately will threaten other marine animals, the seafood industry and even the health of humans who eat affected shellfish, scientists say.

The world's oceans have become 30% more acidic since the Industrial Revolution began more than two centuries ago. In that time, the seas have absorbed 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide that has built up in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels. [...]

By the end of the century, said French biological oceanographer Jean-Pierre Gattuso, "The oceans will become hot, sour and breathless."... [S]cientists say the only sure way to avoid the worst is to significantly reduce carbon emissions. [...]

At extremely high levels of acidity, laboratory experiments show, seawater no longer provides this material and indeed . [...]can cause existing shells of corals, snails and other animals to dissolve

[I]ncreasing acidity could melt away the bottom rungs of the food chain, such as pteropods, the button-sized marine snails that nourish salmon and other fish.

The chemical changes are then projected to spread to temperate waters. [...] [A]cidified waters trigger these microscopic plants to produce more toxins that contaminate clams and mussels. These shellfish, in turn, can sicken or kill humans who eat them.

Later this century, the rising acidity is projected to reach tropical waters. That will put coral reefs, already in peril, under even more pressure.... For island nations, the disappearance of coral reefs could prove disastrous.

You were saying, Mr. Foley, Mr. Cain?


Activism works: Van Jones on delay of Tar Sands Pipeline


The jaded me is wondering if President Obama put off this decision until after 2012 so that he'd have no re-election pressures to contend with once a final decision has to be made. The optimist in me is cheering wildly and hoping he will dump this godawful "game over" environmental disaster-in-waiting once and for all in 2013.

Here is what Van Jones had to say today:

The people have won a great victory today. The federal government announced a hold on the Keystone XL pipeline, the fuse that would light the Alberta Tar Sands carbon bomb, for the immediate future.

This victory wouldn’t have been possible if not for thousands of climate change activists joining with farmers, ranchers, suburban moms, domestic workers, and students to speak out with a loud united voice against the pipeline. But for now, it’s only a respite for a couple of years. If we are going to convert this into a permanent win, we need to continue to reach out to the broader public with the same urgency and creativity that got the notice of the Obama Administration and state governments in the Midwest.

I said earlier this week that we have a duty to support President Obama when he is in the right, and an equal duty to oppose him if he is wrong. I’m heartened to find out that he came down on the right side of history today. I’m hopeful that when the federal government makes a more permanent decision in 2013, the people can continue to exercise their veto over the harmful and wasteful Keystone XL pipeline.

Of course, there's hope that the delay means the end of this reckless, potentially deadly corporate wet dream.

Bill McKibben, who has been an activist and leader in efforts to kill the pipeline, published this statement.

All our previous posts on the subject here.