Enough of the half-measures

I’m worried. I’m very worried.

The recent report by MIT on Climate Change was the

most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century

It found that

without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago – and could be even worse than that.

Specifically the peer-reviewed study projects a 90% probability range of a global warming of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees Celsius by 2100 with a median probability of surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius.

To put that in context, John Holdren, Barack Obama’s Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, says that the last time the earth was 3 degrees Celsius warmer was 120 million years ago. At that time there were palm trees in Wyoming, crocodiles swimming off the coast of Greenland and sea levels were 20-30m higher. Note – that was 3 degrees Celsius warmer, not the 3.5 degrees which is at the low end of the 90% probability the MIT paper.

The planet and more importantly, all life on it has had 120m years to adapt to the 3 degree cooling which has occurred since then and we have adapted well. However, a rise of 3 degrees in less than 100 years would have catastrophic consequences for most plant and animal species on the planet who are designed to adapt to changes in geological timeframes, not generational ones.

Against this backdrop you have the Barack Obama administration back-pedalling furiously on their climate commitments. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said he is no longer willing to block the construction of new coal-powered electricity plants in the US, despite the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff recently announcing no new nuclear or coal plants may ever be needed in the United States!

Further, the current climate bill working its way through the system in the US calls for a 17% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the 2005 figure. Compare that to the much more ambitious 40% reduction on 1990 emissions that the Chinese are calling for and you start to see just how uninspired the US position appears to be.

People need to watch the video above, grow a pair and act decisively on the problem. Enough of the half-measures.


John Holdren on Global Climatic Disruption

John Holdren has been appointed by Barack Obama as as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

From his bio on Wikipedia

Holdren earned a bachelor’s degree from MIT in 1965 and a PhD in plasma physics[3] from Stanford University in 1970. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley for more than two decades. His work has focused on global environmental change, energy technologies and policies, nuclear proliferation, and science and technology policy[4]. Dr. Holdren served as chairman of the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from February 2007 until February 2008[5](AAAS) and is director of the Woods Hole Research Center.

Dr. Holdren is the author of some 300 articles and papers[citation needed], and he has co-authored and co-edited some 20 books and book-length reports, such as Energy (1971), Human Ecology (1973), Ecoscience (1977), Energy in Transition (1980), Earth and the Human Future (1986), Strategic Defences and the Future of the Arms Race (1987), Building Global Security Through Cooperation (1990), Conversion of Military R&D (1998), and Ending the Energy Stalemate (2004).

Last year he gave this talk about climate change (or Global Climatic Disruption as he prefers to call it) at the American Response to Climate Change Conference at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake New York – June 25 & 26, 2008.

That such a highly qualified and passionate climate aware scientist has been chosen to be the president’s science advisor gives me great hope for the presidency of Barack Obama.

I contacted The Wild Center after seeing the video to ask if they had any problem with my reproducing the talk on this site fully accredited and very graciously, they said they’d be delighted!

The copyright of the video obviously remains with The Wild Center – please do not reproduce this video without explicit permission of The Wild Center.