TwitterFacebook

A Call to End the Conspiracy of Silence on Climate Change

The climate clock is ticking
Environment • Views: 26,012
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.

^ back to top ^

TwitterFacebook

Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing!
For about 33 cents a day (per month) or 22 cents a day (per year), our subscription option turns off all advertisements at LGF!
Read more...

► LGF Headlines

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Articles

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Pages

  • Loading...

► Top 10 Comments

  • Loading...

► Bottom Comments

  • Loading...

► Recent Comments

  • Loading...

► Tools/Info

► Tag Cloud

► Contact

You must have Javascript enabled to use the contact form.
Your email:

Subject:

Message:


Messages may be published unless you request otherwise.
Tech Note:
Using the Contact Form
LGF Pages

This button leads to the main index of LGF Pages, our user-submitted articles. You can post your own LGF Pages simply by registering a free account with us.

Create a Page

This 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: 2014-03-07 2:19 pm PST

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
team_fukit
Obama Presidency Outperforming Reagan’s on Jobs, Growth and Investing
Yeah, it's sort of like comparing apples with oranges since each Prez had to deal with unique challenges, but this is a decent article from Forbes to argue with anyone who is just stuck on the Gospel of St. Ronnie. ...

2 hours, 52 minutes ago
Views: 48 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
philosophus invidius
Scottish Referendum: Scotland Votes No to Independence
Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence. With 31 out of the country's 32 council areas having declared after Thursday's vote, the 'No' side has an unassailable lead of 1,914,187 votes to ...

2 hours, 54 minutes ago
Views: 44 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
FemNaziBitch
Is Politics Beyond Cosmopolitan’s Purview?
One of the reasons we started #CosmoVotes was because we saw how regularly young female voters are derided, condescended to, and insulted. Women hear so often that we're dumb and uninformed that even the most politically savvy among us ...

11 hours, 38 minutes ago
Views: 85 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Randall Gross
The 9/11 Truth Movement: The Top Conspiracy Theory, a Decade Later - CSI
The conspiracy theories started flying just days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC. Over the decade since, several technically elaborate claims have been refined by the "9/11 Truth" movement. Do these intricate ...

18 hours, 48 minutes ago
Views: 322 • Comments: 3
Tweets: 44 • Rating: 1
theliel
AEI Decides to Weigh in on #GamersGate
So Polygon showcases the AEI's anti-femminist response to #gamergate talking about how games are for dudes and dudes need that space to continue being dudes and bitches should get back in that kitchen where they belong. Link is to Polygon ...

1 day, 13 hours ago
Views: 155 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
CriticalDragon1177
Alternet - Nicholas Wade’s Flawed Book Rewrites the History of Scientific Racism
Jon Phillips takes on Nicholas Wade's claims, and proves once again that so called "scientific" racism is little more than a pseudoscience. This was originally posted in September 2014 edition of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, ( ...

2 days, 7 hours ago
Views: 308 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 2
Lumberhead
Angry Letters to the One Member of Congress Who Voted Against the War on Terror - the Atlantic
My first attempt at a page - so here we go: The article is a little long but well worth while. I found it to be nicely balanced with interesting excerpts from supporters as well as detractors. Barbara Lee was ...

3 days, 10 hours ago
Views: 365 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 5
The War TARDIS
Doctor Who “Listen” Open Thread
I'm back. Last week, I couldn't do this thread, as something more important was going on. One of my best friends, a sweet, and very devout Christian, is going to the UK to help a Christian Group in Oxford, and ...

5 days, 8 hours ago
Views: 326 • Comments: 42
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 3
Rightwingconspirator
Are Higher Frame Rates Really a Better Moving Image in Cinema?
As a guy who scratches the surface of this medium with humble indy efforts and some industrial video experience I have to watch carefully. If I commit to the wrong camera or format, it can hurt financially. Once I had ...

6 days, 11 hours ago
Views: 522 • Comments: 7
Tweets: 25 • Rating: 7
Slap
For guitar fans…
I suppose one needs to be a guitar freak of a certain age to recognize both of these guys. Gabrels' work might be familiar to fans of Bowie/Tin Machine. Nelson's work? I believe him to be one of the most ...

6 days, 14 hours ago
Views: 378 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
 Frank says:

I have a message to deliver to the cute people of the world...if you're cute, or maybe you're beautiful...there's MORE OF US UGLY MOTHERF*CKERS OUT THERE! So watch out.