Peter Sinclair on Climate Chage and Deniers

Quote of the day

Renfrey Clarke wrote:

If the limits for adaptation to climate change of natural systems are crossed, ecosystems must soon collapse. If modern industrial capitalism were a person, he or she would be on suicide watch.

The system that has brought us quantum physics and reality television, modern medicine and the columns of Andrew Bolt is set on a course which, by all the best reckoning, points directly to its doing itself in.

If capitalism goes on — everything goes. Climate, coastlines, most living species, food supplies, the great bulk of humanity. And certainly, the preconditions for advanced civilisation, perhaps forever.

Moreover, we’re not just talking risk, in the sense of an off-chance. These are the most likely outcomes for capitalism’s current policies and performance in the area of climate change.

Having read Clarke’s article, one might conclude that the author merely made hyperbolic claims in order to serve a survivalist position. That assessment presumes that any prediction of a global ecological catastrophe — and a great extinction — overstates the case. Does it? I think not. Radical action is needed, but such action is rarely on the agenda. Rather, more of the same defines our age. This is why revolution today entails pulling hard on the emergency break (Walter Benjamin) while hoping against hope that we engaged the emergency break in time.


John Oliver lampoons ‘fair and balanced’ journalism

Quote of the day

Mark Fischetti of Scientific American addressed the question of the hour:

If you’ve followed the U.S. news and weather in the past 24 hours you have no doubt run across a journalist or blogger explaining why it’s difficult to say that climate change could be causing big storms like Sandy. Well, no doubt here: it is.

The hedge expressed by journalists is that many variables go into creating a big storm, so the size of Hurricane Sandy, or any specific storm, cannot be attributed to climate change. That’s true, and it’s based on good science. However, that statement does not mean that we cannot say that climate change is making storms bigger. It is doing just that — a statement also based on good science, and one that the insurance industry is embracing, by the way.

Drill, baby, drill….

A once-in-a-generation storm

Avenue C in Lower Manhattan

This was a claim made by the New York Times. I suspect the writers and editors were befuddled by wishful thinking. The reason, of course, is the existence of global warming. Storms of this kind and magnitude may become common events as the globe stores greater and greater amounts of energy. We can expect longstanding weather patterns to pass away along with a greater and greater number of extreme weather events.

Drill, baby, drill….

Progress in enlightenment comes slowly

According to a new Pew Research Center study, a strong majority of Americans are once again willing to consider the reality of global warming. Unfortunately fewer Americans are willing to attribute recent warming trends to human activities.

Republicans are the laggards in this matter, as any sentient person would expect:

Americans also misjudge the degree of consensus among scientists over the global warming hypothesis.

Climate scientists have achieved a remarkably strong consensus (.pdf) on the reality and causes of global warming.

Quote of the day

A beleaguered Kathy Deacon looks forward, not backward:

So I suppose I’ll get used to the mysterious noise, just as I’ve adapted to everything else — the odors from old Exxon MTBE spills, the onslaught of drunken yachters whose number seems to multiply exponentially each year — and struggling to breathe from time to time. I guess it’s no big deal in the scheme of things. Maybe these troubles are all a bit quaint and nostalgic anyway — even petty, as my friend here seems to think. The world we know is getting fairly uncomfortable and may be at the dawn of something really bad, runaway global warming — with a hundred million or so dead by 2030, according to informed reports — will we just have to get used to that?

Yes, I do believe we’ll adapt to the horrific death tolls now sitting on the horizon line — we’ll adapt if we’re among the lucky ones who actually survive the holocaust. What choice would the living have save for suicide? We’re programmed to carry on. We’ve survived volcanic supereruptions, ebbing and flowing ice ages, modern warfare and much else. Our existence is and always was improbable, so too our continued existence. We can thank the Industrial Revolution for our probable demise, a cause greatly strengthened by our inability to recognize in a meaningful way our common humanity and our true place in nature.