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
Schools Implement Hair Policies That Punish Black Girls for Wearing Braids (And for Being Black) If you are female in this society, you get used to having your appearance critiqued. And if you are black and female—because of the intersecting nature of racism and sexism, it seems as if you are forever being policed ...
Birth Control Works
1 minute ago
Views: 84 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Massive Big Sur Slide May Keep Highway 1 Closed for a Year “It’s definitely breathtaking, it’s definitely massive,” she said of the landslide caused by millions of tons of dirt and rock tumbling down the coastal hillside. Officials say the slide created a new 16-acre land mass sticking out from the ...
Tarkloon
6 hours, 46 minutes ago
Views: 164 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
The Major’s #MemorialDay Message (Especially for #Millenials) for 2017 Well, The Major’s meat-space doppelganger has FINALLY, after decades, gotten the proper medication to treat his ailment! And the best part? It feels like it’s actually working! (Say Hallelujia!) It’s almost like “The Sleeper Has Awakened!”… Now by now, ...
The Major
14 hours, 58 minutes ago
Views: 218 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 9 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
YOUR TAX DOLLARS at HATE: ICE Has Made Over 41,000 Arrests in Trump’s First 100 Days  n the first 100 days that Donald Trump has been in office, arrests for immigration violations have increased 38 percent over to the same period in 2016, according to figures Immigration and Customs Enforcement released Wednesday. More than ...
Birth Control Works
23 hours, 17 minutes ago
Views: 419 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Mike Pence and the Delicate Art of Protest.blog.timesunion.comHOFFMAN FILESMike Pence and the delicate art of protest.By Rob Hoffman on May 25, 2017 at 5:30 AM3Is there a right that is more fundamental to being an American than the right to peaceably assemble? Its prominence in the Bill ...
rhoffman
2 days, 7 hours ago
Views: 473 • Comments: 3 • Rating: -5
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
READ THE WHOLE THING: Sexual Violence Is a Hate Crime - National Organization for Women I strongly believe violence against women, and particularly sexual violence, is a hate crime – and that may surprise people, even feminists. On October 2, 2006 a man walked into an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster, County Pennsylvania and shot ...
Birth Control Works
2 days, 7 hours ago
Views: 374 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
What I Learned After My Study on Men Secretly Removing Condoms Went Viral But it struck a chord, and somehow managed to trigger an international conversation about assholes who remove condoms during sex without their partners' permission. (Some people call this "stealthing," but I think the term trivializes the harm.) The paper ...
Birth Control Works
2 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 438 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
‘Racist’ Flyers Urge Black Chicagoans to Help Deport Latino Neighbors - Pilsen - DNAinfo Chicago CHICAGO — A South Side alderman is slamming a flyer found in neighborhoods around the city asking black Chicagoans to report suspected undocumented residents to immigration agents. The flyer says that "Sanctuary city Policies endanger the lively hood[sic] of ...
Birth Control Works
2 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 335 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
You Have One Last Chance to Repent, Sean Hannity….Help me force Sean Hannity to repent. If he doesn't, The Major will bring incredible the damage to Mr. Hannity using the new weapons of The Internet. I tried to warn you, Sean. You didn't listen then. If you choose ...
The Major
3 days, 15 hours ago
Views: 477 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Doctors Argue That Female Genital Mutilation Is Protected Under First Amendment Two doctors in Detroit, along with one of their wives, are about to take the first religious defense of female genital mutilation to a US Federal court. The case stems from a FBI investigation into Dr. Jumana Nagarwala after ...
Birth Control Works
3 days, 17 hours ago
Views: 608 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 3
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1