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
Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Apologizes for Promoting Comet Ping Pong ‘Pizzagate’ Fabrication Don't worry, Alex's future is assured because enough rubes will continue to follow this far right dirtbag's ravings that this apology just doesn't matter. Indeed while he was making this apology there was a rally in DC to investigate ...
Tarkloon
4 hours, 6 minutes ago
Views: 74 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Behind Neil Gorsuch’s Non-Answers Having come of age in Alaska I take particular umbrage with Gorsuch's dissent in the truck driver case - it demonstrates that he values property over life, and is willing to support draconian measures and decisions in favor of ...
Tarkloon
4 hours, 22 minutes ago
Views: 68 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
While Gorsuch Was Testifying, the Supreme Court Unanimously Said He Was Wrong About 40 minutes after Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch began his second day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, all eight of the justices he hopes to join said a major disability decision Gorsuch wrote in 2008 was ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 10 hours ago
Views: 183 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Black & Missing in America - a Short Film Published on May 7, 2015 From OSCAR® and 16-time EMMY award-winning producer Arnold Shapiro and Director/Producer Marlene McCurtis - a short film that highlights the work of the Black and Missing Foundation, and their quest to provide a voice ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 10 hours ago
Views: 158 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
500 Missing — Why You Should Pay Attention to DC’s Missing Girls if You Attended the Women’s March Though months have passed since the Women's March united women around the nation in January, its mission to stand up for the rights of those who are most vulnerable cannot afford to slip into the background. And this applies ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 10 hours ago
Views: 200 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Rewire -‘Issues in Law & Medicine’: A One-Stop Journal for Anti-Vaccine, Anti-Abortion PseudoscienceUnsurprisingly creationists aren't the only ones who produce fake academic journals. It turns out that anti abortion, and anti vaccination ideologues do the same thing, only in the case of "Issues in Law & Medicine," the people behind it, arguably ...
CriticalDragon1177
1 day, 11 hours ago
Views: 250 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Trump Did to Merkel What Men Do to Women All the Time Tuesday 21 March 2017 06.00 EDT Last modified on Wednesday 22 March 2017 11.22 EDT A few years ago, my husband and I ran into a mutual acquaintance at a restaurant. This young man – a person who would ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 11 hours ago
Views: 296 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
RNC Paid Intel Firm for Clinton Dirt As the general election was taking shape last summer, the Republican National Committee initiated a series of payments to a low-profile firm started by retired CIA officers that worked closely with an ex-Russian spy. The payments attracted attention in ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 18 hours ago
Views: 458 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Whatever You Do, Don’t Say Yes When This Chatbot Asks, ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Another in my irregular series on privacy in our era, and how to defend yourself in digital venues. For your cell phone-Get TruCaller or some other good robo call screener/blocker. If you have an Ooma phone, set your virtual ...
Unshaken Defiance
1 day, 20 hours ago
Views: 724 • Comments: 2 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 117 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 3
Comments: 0
: 3
NOT ONE WOMAN: What’s Missing From This Photo of Politicians Deciding the Future of Women’s Health? President Donald Trump met with the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus at the White House Thursday to try to hammer out a deal on Obamacare repeal. A major question in the final negotiations? Whether or not maternity care and mammograms ...
Birth Control Works
2 days ago
Views: 367 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0