Climate Conversations : Economics and climate disaster

Clyde Burnett, Peak to Peak.  Question: Where can one study a reliable overview of this climate situation?


Answer: Get your teenager to tap in to for the latest Climate Science Special Report of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. (Our Boulder NOAA’s Dave Fahey was one of the coordinating lead authors.)


Read Highlights include page 10, regarding global temperature, sea level, extreme weather, etc; Chapter 14 Perspectives on Mitigation: Key Findings (page 404), and chapter 15: Potential Surprises: Compound Extremes and Tipping Elements (page 411). You will learn about thawing permafrost and methane hydrates in the Arctic and modifications of the AMOC (the Gulf Stream).


Question: Why are we the only government in the world that refuses to face the dangers of climate change?


Answer: We have failed our democratic duty as an intelligent electorate. Voters have given priority to economy over ecology. This is largely due to emphasis on capitalism over science. Certain voters are happy with cheap power and the complete neglect of predictions of future climate disaster. This is due to the failure of intelligent analysis demonstrating that it is their taxes that subsidize the selfish industries who have no interest in tomorrow’s climate.


Additionally, those whose education has made them scientifically aware and have actively moved to renewable energy have largely failed in their democratic duty to get out the vote and elect a government guided by ecology over economics.


Question: How have all other governments succeeded in convincing their leadership to adopt the Paris Accord?


Answer: Their leaders have had the support, perhaps kicking and screaming, to adopt the Paris Accord. For example, China’s early emphasis was on moving to capitalism until their leaders recognized the pollution dangers and the advantages of renewables.


Question: Many of our voters used the uncertainty of science as an excuse; ‘it’s so confusing!’ Our extreme weather from the 90% trapped heat going into the oceans covering 70% of the Earth’s surface increases evaporation and precipitation with a period of about 10 days (so we don’t get runaway heating), but there is water feedback. First evaporation, then vapor warms, then more evaporation, then more vapor warms, et cetera. We also have CO2 feedback that controls water vapor warming, more warming, wildfires with more CO2 and less photosynthetic sequestering. Warming increases the release of stronger absorbing methane from permafrost and ocean clathrate, followed by increased methane infrared trapping with warming and more methane release from permafrost and clathrate, and it all feeds into the immense water feedback and trapping!


Answer: It’s true, the science of the atmospheric greenhouse effect is not obvious every day, it’s somewhat abstract. The choice can be simply to trust the scientists over the politicians.


Or one can also make a diligent search for the scientific fundamentals of those computer predictions. It’s not trivial; the atmospheric greenhouse effect is responsible for our average global temperature of 59 F rather than 0 F! Our human activities in power production and transport are steadily increasing the infrared absorbing greenhouse gas emissions. So, you can’t see the trapped infrared; but you spend hours with TV or Internet radiation!


The climate change that follows the science has become obvious. Our planet is responding to the global warming with melting glaciers and polar ice, rising seas, and extreme weather. Intelligent analysis demonstrates that the adaptation costs are becoming much greater than the cost of mitigation to renewables. A tragedy is that our citizens in southern states are working frantically to get back to yesterday’s normal. Our government’s continued support of a fossil fuel economy means that there must be further warming, and Nature must respond. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!