Opinion: Vote for anyone who will tackle climate change

Thursday, December 15, 2011
 
By Wes Rolley, Green Party activist and blogger
Published in the Morgan Hill Times
 
All who read this column must know by now that I've written about the political failure in dealing with our changing climate. I have read what scientists have told us. I now have to admit that much of what these climate scientists have made public has proven to be inaccurate.
 
In any human endeavor error is a possibility. Climate science deals with the changes in our atmosphere and the effects that this is having on our climate. Many had been expecting to see them all proven wrong. In fact one U.S. Senator (James Inhofe, Republican - Okla.) has labeled global warming to be the "greatest hoax" ever.
 
Unfortunately for us, the general error that plagues climate science has been to underestimate the rate of climate change. In fact, greenhouse gas emissions are growing faster than anticipated. Many of the common measures of climate change, average temperatures of our atmosphere, the rate of ice melt in the polar regions, etc. are proceeding at a faster pace than the climate models predicted.
 
One of the errors comes from the fact that, up till now, those climate models did not describe the amplification of warming that comes from the melting permafrost in the Arctic climates. In early 2011 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a stunning report on the permafrost carbon feedback (PCF).
 
"We predict that the PCF will change the arctic from a carbon sink to a source after the mid-2020s and is strong enough to cancel 42 to 88 percent of the total global land sink. The thaw and decay of permafrost carbon is irreversible and accounting for the PCF will require larger reductions in fossil fuel emissions to reach a target atmospheric CO2 concentration."
 
There remains as much carbon in the permafrost as there is in the atmosphere today.
 
I think that I could understand a charlatan like Sen. Inhofe. But, it is now the case the almost any Republican who admits to "believing" in global warming will lose their next primary fight. This is almost universal among Republicans members of Congress. And pay attention to the Republican presidential debates where both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have switched their rhetoric to become climate skeptics if not deniers.
 
This all makes me wonder about two things. How is it that those who "know" the truth of their religion find that they must "believe" in the facts of science. Then, how is it that there can be so much unanimity in Republican positions on climate change when the same Republicans show a lot of diversity in their religious views.
 
One organization, Americans for Prosperity, is attempting to claim responsibility for the near total anti-science stance of key Republican politicians. Americans for Prosperity president, Tim Phillips, claims a share of the credit. "What it means for the candidates on the Republican side, is if you ... buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril. ... And that's our influence. Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it."
 
Americans for Prosperity is funded by David and Charles Koch, owners of the largest privately held oil and gas company. This is one great example of the corporate power that has enraged many and fueled the Occupy Movement.
 
Some hail this month's United Nations Climate meeting in Durban, South Africa as being a triumph for the sole reason that it did not fail completely. I am not so sure about that. Anjali Appadurai, a young student from the College of the Atlantic, spoke at the conclusion of the conference.
 
"I speak for more than half the world's population. We are the silent majority. You've given us a seat in this hall, but our interests are not on the table. What does it take to get a stake in this game? Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money? You've been negotiating all my life. In that time, you've failed to meet pledges, you've missed targets, and you've broken promises. But you've heard this all before."
 
Then she get to the crux of this matter. "The International Energy Agency tells us we have five years until the window to avoid irreversible climate change closes. The science tells us that we have five years maximum. You're saying, ‘Give us 10.'"
 
I will vote for anyone, Green, Democrat, Republican, who will look at climate facts, and puts the future of Anjali Appadurai ahead of their own career. We have five years. Just "get it done."
 
Tim Phillips - Americans for Prosperity quoted here: http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/12/08/383676/koch-americans-for-prosp....
 
Anjali Appadurai's speech (video and text) is here: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/12/9/get_it_done_urging_climate_justice.
 

 

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