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.

Donate with
PayPal
Square Cash Shop at amazon
as an LGF Associate!
Recent PagesClick to refresh
Portugal. The Man - Tidal Wave (Lyric Video)Portugal. the Man - TIdal Wave WOODSTOCK available now!atlantic.lnk.to Follow Portugal. The Manportugaltheman.comfacebook.com instagram.com@portugalthemanSoundCloudportugaltheman.tumblr.com Animations by Sam Binkowsammybinkow.cominstagram.com
Thanos
1 week ago
Views: 386 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
The US Army Is Quietly Discharging Immigrant Recruits Martha Mendoza, Garance Burke, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO — Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged, the Associated Press has learned. The AP was ...
Cheechako
1 week, 3 days ago
Views: 363 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Dave Alvin - the 4th of July Every year, I find this song, with it's melancholia speaks more to me and every year I've been here, I've shared a version of the song. This year I thought I'd page it as well. Best known as a ...
William Lewis
1 week, 4 days ago
Views: 275 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio - Al Greenery (Live on KEXP)kexp.org presents Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio performing "Al Greenery" live in the KEXP studio. Recorded April 5, 2018. Host: Kevin ColeAudio Engineer: Kevin SuggsCameras: Jim Beckmann, Scott Holpainen & Justin WilmoreEditor: Jim Beckmann kexp.orgdlo3music.com
Thanos
1 week, 4 days ago
Views: 302 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Khruangbin - Maria También (Live on KEXP)kexp.org presents Khruangbin performing "Maria También" live in the KEXP studio. Recorded April 26, 2018. Host: Cheryl WatersAudio Engineers: Tim Iseler & Kevin Suggs Cameras: Alaia D'Alessandro, Scott Holpainen & Justin WilmoreEditor: Justin Wilmore kexp.orgkhruangbin.com
Thanos
1 week, 4 days ago
Views: 405 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Dessa - Velodrome (Live on KEXP)kexp.org presents Dessa performing "Velodrome" live in the KEXP studio. Recorded April 27, 2018. Host: Kevin ColeAudio Engineer: Kevin SuggsCameras: Alaia D'Alessandro, Kendall Rock & Justin WilmoreEditor: Scott Holpainen kexp.orgdoomtree.net
Thanos
1 week, 6 days ago
Views: 373 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Paramore: Caught in the Middle [OFFICIAL VIDEO] We're doing it LIVE! Get your tickets to see Paramore on tour now with Foster The People at paramore.net Paramore's music video for 'Caught In The Middle' from the album, After Laughter - available now on Fueled By Ramen. ...
Thanos
1 week, 6 days ago
Views: 397 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
‘Westworld’ Accused in Court of Ripping Off ‘Fallout Shelter’ BALTIMORE (CN) — Coinciding with the official release of the “Westworld” mobile game, Warner Bros. was hit with a federal complaint Thursday that says the game is a wholesale imitation, down to its bugs, of the mega-hit “Fallout Shelter.” ...
Thanos
2 weeks, 6 days ago
Views: 1,269 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0