United States of Climate Change, Sightline
There are some in the Senate who insist that global warming is nothing more than science fiction. These are the same kind of voices who said that the world was flat, cigarettes were safe and cars didn't need airbags - long after the rest of us knew the truth.
The fact is that the overwhelming majority of scientists say that the earth is in peril if we don't act now. They've told us clearly that more than 40 percent of God's creatures could face extinction if we don't act now. They've told us of more intense weather events if we don't act now. Health experts have told us that infectious diseases will increase due to warmer waters. And military leaders have told us that unchecked global warming will lead to severe conflict and war as droughts, floods and rising sea levels create huge numbers of desperate refugees. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Democratic Radio Address, 5-31-08
Climate Crisis Update: As 1,700 Prominent US Scientists & Economists Call for Urgent & Sweeping Action, the US Senate Begins to Debate How Little It Can Get Away With
By Richard Power
With the assistance of its enablers in the US mainstream news media and political establishment, and despite the valiant efforts of a handful of enlightened leaders, such as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Bush-Cheney regime has succeeded in stalling any meaningful national action on the planetary climate crisis for eight years.
Only now has debate on legislation begun: The epic debate over global warming enters a new chapter today: The U.S. Senate will take up landmark legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It won't become law while George Bush is president, but it will lay a foundation for the next administration. John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton all have supported mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. San Jose Mercury, 6-2-08
Only now is the US federal government officially acknowledging this grave threat: The Bush administration, bowing to a court order, has released a fresh summary of federal and independent research pointing to large, and mainly harmful, impact of human-caused global warming in the United States. New York Times, 5-30-08
Of course, the legislation being proposed is insufficient, and the facts being acknowledged do not tell the whole story. But at least it is a beginning.
The problem is for the sake of the planet, the beginning needed to come years ago. And, even now, instead of acting with the urgency of those who understand that they are way behind in the race against time, the climate crisis is still being treated as if it were just one among several major issues -- as opposed to what it is, the defining challenge of our time.
Unlike most of the US mainstream news media and political establishment, the scientific and economic communities are articulating vital truths and calling for significant actions:
More than 1,700 of the nation's most prominent scientists and economists ... released a joint statement calling on policymakers to require immediate, deep reductions in heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming. Issued just days before the Senate begins debate on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill, the statement marks the first time leading U.S. scientists and economists have joined together to make such an appeal. ...
The statement stresses that implementing policies to achieve swift and substantial cuts is both economically sound and necessary to limit the worst consequences of climate change.
"There is a strong consensus that we must do something about reducing the emissions that cause global warming," said James McCarthy, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and one of the statement's authors. "The debate right now is about how much we need to cut. The fact that so many scientists and economists have spoken out and signed this letter should give policymakers the confidence that we can avert serious adverse climate impacts."
Besides McCarthy, the statement authors include Mario Molina, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry; Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead author; Stephen Schneider, a Stanford University climatologist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS); and Geoff Heal, an economist at Columbia University's Business School. The signatories, compiled by UCS, include six Nobel Prize winners in science or economics, 31 NAS members, and more than 100 IPCC authors and editors, who all shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. ...
The statement concludes that the United States should reduce global warming pollution "on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050" and that the first step should be reductions of 15 to 20 percent below 2000 levels by 2020. The statement calls on the United States to set an example and bring nations together to meet the climate challenge.
Columbia University economist Heal said the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of addressing climate change. The costs of cutting emissions to safe levels would be between 1 and 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), he said, while the costs of allowing climate change to proceed unabated would be on the order of 10 to 20 percent of GDP.
Heal sees the challenge of reducing global warming emissions as an economic opportunity. "Limiting global warming emissions is a great investment," he said. "When you compare the cost of acting to the cost of not acting, cutting emissions would give the world a return of 10 to 1. That's attractive even to a venture capitalist." Union of Concerned Scientists, 5-29-08
Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.
For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.
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For analysis of the US mainstream news media's failure to treat global warming and climate change with accuracy or appropriae urgency, click here for Media Matters' compilation of "Myths and Falsehoods about Global Warming".
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Center for American Progress Action Fund's Mic Check Radio has released a witty and compelling compilation on the Top 100 Effects of Global Warming, organized into sections like "Global Warming Wrecks All the Fun" (e.g., "Goodbye to Pinot Noir," "Goodbye to Baseball," "Goodbye to Salmon Dinners," "Goodbye to Ski Vacations," etc.), "Global Warming Kills the Animals" (e.g., "Death March of the Penguins," "Dying Grey Whales," "Farewell to Frogs," etc.) and yes, "Global Warming Threatens Our National Security" (e.g., "Famine," "Drought," "Large-Scale Migrations," "The World's Checkbook," etc.) I urge you to utilize Top 100 Effects of Global Warming in your dialogues with friends, family and colleagues.
Barbara Boxer, Global Warming, Energy Security, Environmental Security, Alternate Energy, Sustainability, Green Power, Renewable Resources, Climate Change, Human Rights, Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth,Laurie David, Stop Global Warming!, The Eleventh Hour, Organic Gardening, Richard Power, Words of Power