Nothing is more aggravating than a condescending network news anchor
scoffing at the latest global warming news story as a piped-in bimbo
‘meteorologist’ stands on location, waist deep in snow, with a bloody
silly grin on her face. That just bugs the hell out of me.
I live in Chicago, where this February has had the coldest opening
in 112 years! The first eight days have averaged only 4.4° Fahrenheit -
which is 20° below the 137-year ‘average’ February temperatures for
this Midwest city. So I don’t need some glib TV hack with a
teleprompter and warm TV studio lights guffawing over ‘yet another
doomsday’ news story.
today’s crack-of-doom news item is about an amazing multi-billionaire
who’s as admired for his business acumen as his eccentricities.
Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, the highly successful multiple
entrepreneur of activities ranging from airlines to trains, record
companies to hotels, mobile communications to space travel, today
$25 million price for the first person to come up with a way of
scrubbing greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere in the battle to beat
In a Reuters story
released this morning - Branson and a plethora of climate change
experts - including Al Gore and esteemed climate-change scientists -
effectively challenged inventors, industry and academics alike to
devise a solution to the ‘established scientific fact’ that the world
is experiencing rapid climate change.
The report suggests, “The winner will have to come up with a way of
removing one billion metric tons of carbon gases a year from the
atmosphere for 10 years — with $5 million of the prize being paid at
the start and the remaining $20 million at the end.”
The U.N. sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
would be one of the first to admit that predicting the world climate is
a crapshoot. The most the IPCC have been able to do is measure man’s
impact on the plan via carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse
gases, ozone depletion, man’s impact on surface albedo (reflecting
solar radiation) through land-use, and the sun’s spiky solar activity.
They through all these numbers into a sexy spreadsheet report and they’ve determined the net effect (’total net anthropogenic’) impact on the planet due to man.
When it comes to the ’so what?’ the scientific community seems as
torn on the implications of man’s selfish environmental abuse as the
meanest of any congressional committee hearings (name calling and all)
- but the bottom line is the same, they all agree wholeheartedly that
something has to be done regardless of the blame!
with surreptitious and wholly corporate-inspired agendas suggest global
warming is nothing to get worked up about! They say we should embrace
the benefits and relax!
Dr. Thomas Gale Moore, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute, wrote a book entitled “Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn’t Worry about Global Warming” published by the Cato Institute. Both institutions are beacons for right-wing policy initiatives and corporate aspirations.
The Doc cheerily describes the benefits of global warming with these optimistic bubbles of laughter:
- “warmer winters are good! … will produce less and snow to
torment drivers. families will have less need to invest in heavy
parkas, … mittens, and snow boots.”
- “most economic activities will be unaffected by climate change.”
- “warmer is healthier, too. … a warmer world would be a
healthier one for Americans and would cut the number of deaths in the
U.S. by about 40,000 per year, roughly the number killed on the
- “plants also prefer warmer winters and nights. Given a rising
world population longer growing seasons, greater rainfall, and en
enriched atmosphere could be just the ticket to starve off famine and
The fine fella - almost like someone’s Granddad, puffing on a cigar
in the parlor room after a hefty roast dinner, rumpled newspaper in one
hand and a fine glass of bourbon on the other - concludes, “Let’s not
rush into costly programs to starve off something that we may like if
it occurs. Warmer is better; richer is healthier; acting now is
The silly old bugger is unfortunately contradicted on so many levels
by a group of slightly less cheery and rather more cataclysmic folks at
In their report - dated October 2003 - and entitled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security” - they paint a wholly different consequence for the planet of rapid climate change.
“There is substantial evidence to indicate that significant global
warming will occur during the 21st century. Because changes have been
gradual so far, and are predicted to be similarly gradual in the
future, the effects of global warming have the potential to be
manageable for most nations.”
That’s not too bad! Unfortunately Greenpeace goes on to say:
“Recent research, however, suggests that there is a possibility that
this gradual global warming could lead to a relatively abrupt slowing
of the ocean’s thermohaline conveyor,
which could lead to harsher winter weather conditions, sharply reduced
soil moisture, and more intense winds in certain regions that currently
provide a significant fraction of the world’s food production. With
inadequate preparation, the result could be a significant drop in the
human carrying capacity of the Earth’s environment.”
In other words, the warm waters pushed towards the the North Eastern
coast of the United States and across the North Atlantic towards Europe
and Scandinavia could slow down or shut down totally.
A total shutdown of the Thermohaline Conveyor would cause a mini-ice-age such as the ‘Younger Dryas‘ over 12,700 years ago that lasted for 1,000 years!
The Greenpeace report suggests even a mild slowing of the warm
currents - the Thermohaline Converyor - would bring significantly
colder, dryer and windier conditions to the United States, Europe and
parts of Asia. This would cause food shortages, reduce access to
freshwater, bring colder dryer conditions and disrupt access to energy
supplies with drought conditions across the plain states.
Once again the Bush administration appears inept at recognizing the
problem, tackling the cause or delivering a solution. I say ‘appears’
because President Bush is so absolutely crap at marketing any ‘good
deeds’ his administration brings to the table - once in the blue moon
that he does!
In June of 2001 - less than six months into President George W
Bush’s first term of office - and some four months before the heinous
actions of 9/11 steered this nation into a whole new timeline of war
and terror - he announced the formation of a ‘National Climate Change Technology Initiative‘.
President Bush suggested, “America is a leader in technology and
innovation. We all believe technology offers great promise to
significantly reduce emissions. So we are creating the ‘National
Climate Change Technology Initiative.’ ”
The Department of Energy released a detailed report on ways in which
the Government can encourage private enterprise and federally-sponsored
research to find alternative energy solutions and ‘clean air’ business
practices for all Government departments and facilities.
These are lofty words for a new administration less than six months in office and feeling its way on policy.
The objectives of the initiative were proudly listed as:
* Evaluate the current state of U.S. climate change technology research
and development and make recommendations for improvements.
* Provide guidance on strengthening basic research at
universities and national laboratories, including the development of
the advanced mitigation technologies that offer the greatest promise
for low-cost reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
* Develop opportunities to enhance private-public partnerships
in applied research and development to expedite innovative and
cost-effective approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
* Make recommendations for funding demonstration projects for cutting-edge technologies.
* Develop improved technologies for measuring and monitoring gross and net greenhouse gas emissions.
So the political recognition for the problem of climate change did
appear to exist in this country some six years ago! And yet in 2007 the
U.S. stands on the world stage as an environmental pirate - an
industrial and wholly greedy pariah - that produces over 20% of the
world’s carbon dioxide emissions and consumes the vast majority of the
world’s energy supplies.
Enough said of that the better it seems.
So as Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson challenges the world’s smartest
technologists, inventors, academics and thinkers-alike to “attempt
deliberate planetary engineering” to remove “200 metric gigatons of
carbon accumulated in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution”
Chicagoans can try to shiver a nod and a wink as we endure another week
of record-breaking frigid weather.
This is a wacky world and we’re just living in it!