Category Archives: Global Warming
Seen at Earth Day / Science march
Finally! A “monumental triumph,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Nearly 200 countries agreed to combat climate change after two weeks of tense negotiations and more than of 20 years of debate and dispute and failure to stabilize, let alone slow, global warming.
Climate change “requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries,” because it “represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet,” reads the agreement. The cap it sets on global warming is below 2˚ C., which is still not enough, according to many scientists.
“This agreement won’t save the planet, not even close,” climate activist and advocate Bill McKibben wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. It doesn’t include, for example, a specific timeline for phasing out fossil fuels.
But it is a giant step forward nonetheless. It is “the best chance to save the one planet we’ve got,” President Obama said in his remarks to the nation on Saturday.
“Big Oil’s long history with climate change,” posted September 19 on this blog, asserted that “Exxon Mobil has known for almost 40 years that fossil fuels pose a lethal threat to Earth and all its inhabitants.”
“Exxon’s Climate Concealment” was published today in the NY Times. The article deals with the same scandalous campaign of deceit, disinformation and denial by Exxon and other industry leaders that climate change is real and caused by burning fossil fuels. The Times clearly used the same source as VBI did, Inside Climate News, a nonprofit news organization with a Pulitzer-Prize-winning web-site, because the two articles are substantially the same.
Despite the satisfaction of “scooping” the Times by three weeks, I’m glad they eventually deemed the story worthy of publication. Their readership is (obviously) orders of magnitude greater than VBI’s, and the story is important. (No) thanks to Exxon we have wasted too much precious time trying to clean up their mess and switching to alternate forms of non-polluting energy. But petrodollars talk — very loudly — and there still remains a steep uphill climb to counteract Big Oil’s propaganda.
Was anyone really surprised last Wednesday when InsideClimateNews (ICN) revealed documents confirming that Exxon Mobil has known for almost 40 years that fossil fuels pose a lethal threat to Earth and all its inhabitants? ICN, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning web-site, published the first installment of an exposé of Exxon’s role in suppressing research on climate change and disseminating disinformation. (Exxon [then Esso] and Mobil merged in 1999.)
In 1977, James Black, a top technical expert at Exxon, informed a group of top-level oilmen at Exxon headquarters that
[T]here is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.
The following year Black persisted. Speaking to a wider audience, he warned that the percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continued to increase and would raise temperatures everywhere, but especially at the poles. Continue reading
The Chamber Society of Lincoln Center opened its season tonight. The concert, all Mozart, was as delightful as we have come to expect. But what totally knocked my sox off was a little story in the back of the Playbill.
I was thrilled to read that the buildings on the main campus of Lincoln Center are powered by renewable energy. Avery Fisher (philharmonic), Alice Tully (chamber music), the Film Center, the Lincoln restaurant, the Atrium, all of Juilliard, the heating and cooling plants for the Metropolitan Opera and the other theaters— all these use energy derived from the wind.
Solar panels, which should lower fuel bills further, are due to be installed on the roof of the Rose Building. It is estimated that as a result of these initiatives, Lincoln Center’s CO2 emissions will be more than 100 million pounds less over three years than they would have been with fossil fuel-based electricity.
If this large performing arts complex in the middle of Manhattan can go green, it stands to reason that all new buildings can incorporate similar measures.
What will you and your descendants eat in 2050? Will you enjoy a t-bone steak, a slice of swordfish, a chicken drumstick?
Not because you wouldn’t like to, but because that kind of food — animal flesh — will have become very rare. The developing world is clamoring for meat, but it doesn’t have the resources to enrich its diet with a fraction of the meat now consumed by the developed world. (You don’t have to go to Africa to see hunger. Fifteen percent of American households don’t have enough to eat.)
Even now, the earth doesn’t have enough freshwater or arable land to grow the crops necessary to feed its entire population of seven billion adequately. The additional two billion people projected by mid-century will remove more land from cultivation for housing and require a great deal more water.
The oceans, expansive as they are, won’t yield the same food they do currently. Overfishing is pushing large fish like swordfish and tuna to the edge of extinction. Climate change and the increasing acidification of the oceans is resulting in changed habitats on land and in the sea that are no longer hospitable to the same species. Fish, land animals, birds and plants are responding to the changes in temperature on land and in the sea by migrating away from the equator and towards the poles in both hemispheres. They will not find the conditions that allowed them to thrive in their native habitats.
What then will humans eat? Where will we find a source of protein? The answer has a large yuck factor: