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.


  1. Asa Hopkins says

    China is calling for a 40% cut below 1990 for the developed world, including the US and Europe. Of course, they’re unwilling to make any binding commitments about their own emissions, so this is clearly just a bargaining point. Of course, we should take them up on it (call their bluff?), but it should be understood in context.

  2. wayne-o says

    flawed – doesn’t take into account the necessity to bring third world countries upto speed. what do you want to do with them? leave them in the vic age?!

    • says

      Wayne, why flawed? Who’s to say we can’t bring developing countries “upto speed” using non-carbon polluting technologies? Leapfrog the mistakes of the “developed world”.

  3. says

    I completely agree that we can’t afford backpedaling on these issues.

    What I don’t get is why MDI’s AirCar and the likes aren’t considered as a viable solution?
    How are we going to dispose 143milion car batteries (that’s just for US) in 10 years.
    To me it doesn’t seem a sustainable solution (disclaimer: I don’t have any data about the sustainability factors of the proposed batteries. Carbon footprint for production, and disposal. I am basing my critique on similar tech, see: laptop batteries) Doesn’t seem to be a myopic solution?

    The aircar seems to work, I haven’t seen any proof that it doesn’t. I am actually planning a trip to France just to test-drive it.
    Am I missing something?

    • says

      Diego, the batteries in electric vehicles will be very valuable even when they are 10 years old and only capable of storing 80% of their original capacity. At that time, they won’t be of high enough quality to power cars but they would be perfect for home energy storage and I confidently predict the emergence of a market in second-hand car batteries in 10-15 yrs time for just that purpose.

  4. says

    Tom, understood. But wouldn’t a car that runs on compressed air be better? There aren’t big batteries to swap, or disposed.
    Again, unless I am missing something, it seems that we are betting on an already obsolete tech. Until the batteries are close to 100% recyclable or biodegradable we are just applying a patch on the problem, a pretty good one, but just a patch.
    What about in 20 years from now, how would you dispose of those batteries.
    Don’t get me wrong, when I the ev1 and the likes where out I tried to buy/lease one, but being in Florida I couldn’t.
    Nowaday, I think the aircar is a better alternative.

  5. Elisabeth says

    We must must must reduce the earth’s population. That’s the only way we’re going to be successful in a reasonable time period. If every woman, starting today, had only one baby we’d reduce the global population almost by half by 2075. Please, let’s start talking seriously about population reduction!


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