A Call to End the Conspiracy of Silence on Climate Change

The climate clock is ticking
Drought via Shutterstock

Environmental scientist Robert J. Brulle has an op-ed in the Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists, calling for the environmental movement to redouble its efforts to move climate change onto the presidential agenda, and criticizing the irresponsible behavior of both candidates as the climate continues to heat up: Conspiracy of Silence: The Irresponsible Politics of Climate Change.

In a summer dominated by heat waves and a devastating nationwide drought, it would seem that climate change would be a major issue in the US presidential campaign. However, quite the opposite is happening. Neither President Barack Obama nor the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, has focused any attention on this critical issue. In a recent speech on the Senate floor, Senator John Kerry characterized the political discourse in the United States as a “conspiracy of silence … a story of disgraceful denial, back-pedaling, and delay that has brought us perilously close to a climate change catastrophe.” This silence means that we can expect further delays in addressing climate change, delays that we cannot afford.

A very sobering passage on where the problem already stands, and what’s at stake if the inaction continues:

The consequence of this inattention is an irreversible commitment to dangerous climate change. Twenty years ago, the United States signed, and the Senate ratified, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The objective of this treaty was to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” which was defined in the Copenhagen Accord of 2009 as limiting the overall temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius. There are three reasons why that goal is now unobtainable. First, even if greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere could be held steady at 2005 levels, scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have calculated that global temperature would rise by 2.4 degrees Celsius if not for the air pollution that is masking the warming by blocking some of the sun’s rays. Second, as a 2011 paper by British climate researchers explains, emissions reductions that are constrained to levels thought to be compatible with economic growth are not sufficient to stay below 2 degrees Celsius. Only a period of planned austerity and an intensive effort to build a carbon-free energy system could now achieve the goal of avoiding dangerous climate change. Finally, the International Energy Agency has estimated that the carbon-emitting energy infrastructure that will push global temperature rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius is already 80 percent complete, and will be fully installed by 2017. This will lock in future emissions unless capital equipment is retired earlier than anticipated. The best we can now hope for is to avoid catastrophic global warming in excess of 4 degrees Celsius, which will require an aggressive response by governments around the world.

Listening to the presidential campaign, you would be hard pressed to find any inkling of this situation. The official statements still maintain that there is no reason for alarm, and that we can still avoid dangerous climate change. While ignoring climate change might be a good political strategy, both the Obama and Romney approaches are intellectually disingenuous and morally irresponsible. Romney’s position is ridiculous, as it ignores the enormous scientific literature on anthropogenic climate change. But is Obama’s position any better? Any delay increases the probability of reaching a tipping point beyond which mitigation measures will be too little and too late to avoid catastrophic consequences. Yet the Obama administration has ignored this threat, offering instead a thin and uncompelling case for developing clean energy.

Dealing effectively with greenhouse gas emissions will require substantial transformations of both our economic and energy systems, and adoption of politically unpopular measures such as a carbon tax. Rather than attempting to build a public consensus to address climate change, the Obama administration is perpetuating the cultural delusion that we can continue business as usual, and that climate change does not require substantial and politically painful actions. While this strategy might prove to be advantageous in the short term, it saddles future administrations and generations with a heavy political, economic, and environmental burden. Even if Obama wins, he will have built no mandate for action during his second term.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Recent PagesClick to refresh
Austria Far-Right Candidate Norbert Hofer Defeated in Presidential Poll Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer has lost Austria's presidential election. On Facebook, he described himself as "infinitely sad" and congratulated Alexander Van der Bellen, former head of the Greens, on his victory. The elections had been seen as a sign ...
Thanos
17 hours, 3 minutes ago
Views: 145 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 3
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Teaser Trailer It’s showtime. Watch the brand new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 teaser trailer. Obviously. In theaters May 2017. ► Subscribe to Marvel: bit.ly Follow Marvel on Twitter: ‪twitter.comLike Marvel on FaceBook: ‪facebook.com For even more news, stay tuned ...
Thanos
17 hours, 55 minutes ago
Views: 143 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Blueberry Pie Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients For the crust: 2 ½ cups or 300 grams all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon or 3 grams kosher salt 1 ¼ cups or 285 grams unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes 8-10 tablespoons or 120 to 150 grams ...
The Vicious Babushka
1 day, 9 hours ago
Views: 143 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Political Donor Pleads Guilty to Investment Fraud Scheme ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A political donor and cable news commentator pleaded guilty Friday to federal criminal charges in what prosecutors described as a $30 million investment fraud scheme tied to his health-technology company. Sreedhar Potarazu, 51, an ophthalmogist ...
Thanos
1 day, 22 hours ago
Views: 198 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Joe Bonamassa - ‘The Valley Runs Low’ - Official Music VIdeo► FREE ALBUM DOWNLOAD - goo.gl ● Official Tickets ●jbonamassa.com ● Official Social Links ●facebook.comTweets by JBONAMASSA instagram.compinterest.com ● Official Merchandise ●shop.jbonamassa.com
Thanos
2 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 150 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Former Special Forces Officer: Gen. ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis Left ‘My Men to Die’ Mattis has not commented publicly on the incident, which was chronicled in a 2011 New York Times bestselling book, "The Only Thing Worth Dying For," by Eric Blehm. The book portrays Mattis as stubbornly unwilling to help the Green ...
Thanos
2 days, 14 hours ago
Views: 667 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 89 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 6
Comments: 0
: 6
US Unemployment Rate Falls to Nine-Year Low Figures from the Labor Department showed the US economy created 178,000 jobs in November, while the jobless rate fell to 4.6% from 4.9% in October. The data adds to recent evidence of healthy growth in the economy, although wage ...
Thanos
2 days, 19 hours ago
Views: 284 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 2
Comments: 0
: 2
Simple Crusty Bread Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients 1 ½ tablespoons yeast 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt 6 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough Cornmeal Nutritional Information Nutritional analysis per serving (10 servings) 301 calories; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 ...
The Vicious Babushka
3 days, 14 hours ago
Views: 654 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 6
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Live From Daryl’s House - ‘She’s Gone’ On this episode of Live From Daryl's House, Daryl Hall enlists Anderson East, the southern singer/songwriter, up to the northeast. East's unique fusion of soul, R&B, gospel, and early rock, in conjunction with Daryl, will surely leave you wanting ...
Thanos
3 days, 19 hours ago
Views: 601 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Chocolate Silk Pie Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients For the crust 1 ½ cups ground chocolate wafers (from about 30 cookies) ⅓ cup sugar 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted For the filling ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 ¼ cups sugar ¼ teaspoon kosher ...
The Vicious Babushka
3 days, 20 hours ago
Views: 847 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 4
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0