Climate: It’s Not Just a Metaphor

Hope you can read my Climate: It's Not Just a Metaphor op-ed, published this Sunday in the Ventura County Starhere with links.

"Something a little strange has happened in our national conversation
about the economic crisis. Our economic experts frequently speak and
write of the fiscal climate as if it were the physical climate. By
chance or design, they are stealing the thunder of the scientists
warning us of an overheating planet.

Probably, these experts are not conscious of the distraction they’re
creating, but, nonetheless, this rhetorical thievery misleads. It helps
us overlook a threat to the planet and our lives far more dangerous
than an economic downturn.

In the most recent minutes of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market
Committee, for example, can be found repeated references to the
difficulty of attaining “sustainable rates” of employment and output,
and of the dangers of “adverse feedback loops.” This is the phrase
climate scientists use to describe natural processes such as the
shrinking of the polar ice caps, a powerful amplifier for global
warming.

But it’s not just the government. A just-published book called “The
Lords of Finance
” profiles the financial experts who “broke the world”
— again, as if the economy was the physical planet. And New York
University professor Nouriel Roubini, sometimes known as “Dr. Doom,”
wrote recently in the Washington Post of “a tipping point” to the
economic collapse, sounding an awful lot like Al Gore speaking of the
tipping points to a climate catastrophe.

The more we discuss the economic crisis in terms of the physical
world, the less we discuss the climate crisis itself, even though
restoring balance in the atmosphere will be far more difficult than
reviving the faltering economy. It’s an alarming irony. As we worry
about our melting savings and our vanishing jobs, we forget about
melting icecaps and vanishing species.

Opinion surveys say that most people believe that climate change is
under way, with the potential to threaten our way of life. Yet, a new
poll from the Pew Research Center shows that the public considers
global warming a matter of less urgency than issues such as moral
decline, immigration and lobbyists. It’s as if we simply cannot believe
that we, as a species, could change the atmosphere, even though all
around us we see evidence we can change the face of the Earth.

Venus Syndrome

In an effort to break through our complacency, our leading
scientific Cassandras are cranking up their rhetoric. Last month, James
Hansen, the outspoken physicist the Bush administration attempted to
muzzle in 2004, coined a new term — “The Venus Syndrome” — to describe
runaway global warming that leads to an evaporation of the oceans and
atmospheric temperatures in the hundreds of degrees, which is what
happened on Venus. Last month, James Lovelock, whose discovery of the
damaging effect of chlorofluorocarbons helped the world avoid a
disastrous expansion of the ozone hole, warned that this century we
will likely see the deaths of billions of people due to starvation.

Does that sound alarmist? A couple of years ago, Lovelock predicted
the Arctic could be ice-free by the summer of 2025, which, at the time,
was considered a far-fetched scenario. Now it’s beginning to look a bit
rosy.

The pessimists are projecting the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer by 2016.

Without minimizing the pain of the unemployed, economic history
tells us that, within a decade, the economy will recover, once again
producing more jobs and income. Both the Great Depression and Japan’s
recent liquidity crisis were but a flick of an eyelash in planetary
history.

Atmospheric history will play out differently. Last month, a new
study led by atmospheric chemist Susan Solomon, one of this nation’s
most distinguished scientists, showed that even if we were to stop
emitting carbon dioxide forever, starting today, the climate would not
stabilize for a thousand years. The change is now irreversible.

Worse, we are currently emitting greenhouse gases at a rate
comparable to what happened during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal
Maximum
, one of the fastest atmospheric changes in Earth history.
Scientists aren’t sure what caused the global warming of 6 degrees
centigrade tens of millions of years ago, but the leading suspect is
the release of methane deposits into the atmosphere.

Something to keep in mind

Ominously, warming permafrost in the Arctic is once again
threatening to release this natural gas by the gigaton, and create a
vastly different and less-habitable planet. Paleontologists tell us
that this temperature rise led to an “extinction event” for a vast
number of dominant species on the planet at the time.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you hear an economist
reference the current “climate.” Our economy will recover. Global
warming will not be so easily reversed, unfortunately, and the
potential for utter disaster is far greater."

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

One thought on “Climate: It’s Not Just a Metaphor

  1. Get up to speed. The theory was wrong and that reality is growing every day by the experts. You know darn well who those experts are; the media. At some point in the future all heads of the warmie world will be ridiculed, cursed and shown publicly that they only had the pay check in mind.
    You know that old saying; there is a thread of truth in everything so while CO2 IS a greenhouse gas, it has very little effect on the climate as a whole if anything. 23 years. 23 YEARS!!!
    Times up warmies. We won’t wait another 23 years so eventually that train of truth is heading your way.
    Every ideology has it’s own WMD scam. Global warming is environmentalism’s WMD.

    CO2 is life, it comes out of my SUV and my baby daughter’s breath. Our effect on the planet at this point in progressive environmentalism is like farting in a tornado. We can’t move mountains, steer storms, make it rain or anything even close to that not to mention melting freakin planets.
    This is insane!!!!
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/na.html

    2006 – 2008 Trend = -44.25 degF / Decade COOLING
    2005 – 2008 Trend = -16.35 degF / Decade COOLING
    2004 – 2008 Trend = -1.50 degF / Decade COOLING
    2003 – 2008 Trend = -0.69 degF / Decade COOLING
    2002 – 2008 Trend = -2.47 degF / Decade COOLING
    2001 – 2008 Trend = -0.17 degF / Decade COOLING
    2000 – 2008 Trend = -0.74 degF / Decade COOLING
    1999 – 2008 Trend = -1.08 degF / Decade COOLING
    1998 – 2008 Trend = -1.77 degF / Decade COOLING
    1997 – 2008 Trend = -0.15 degF / Decade COOLING

    ***1996 – 2008 Trend = 0.92 degF / Decade*** WARMING

    Like

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