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Durban Dithers: As Climate Changes With Costly and Ruinous Fallout, Obama Chills

| December 4, 2011

Actually, yes. (piblet)

By Janet Redman

I’m not out to Grinch anybody’s holiday cheer, but we’ve got a serious situation here.

A tsunami of scientific studies is showing that global warming isn’t only real, it’s happening faster than we thought and our window of opportunity to act is shrinking. This is very scary stuff.

Janet Redman global warming

Janet Redman


The Live Commentary



Even die-hard climate change deniers had to take their heads out of the sand briefly this fall, when a study commissioned in part by the ultra-conservative Charles Koch Charitable Foundation found that the average global temperature has risen by 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-1950s.

This may seem like chump change, but the UN’s climate scientists have warned that if we add just a mere 2 degrees Celsius to pre-industrial temperatures, we’ll see ecological catastrophe across the planet.

And what’s really alarming is that instead of reducing the pollution that changes the climate, we’re increasing it. The volume of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere in 2010 leapt a record 6 percent from the year before. Planetary pollution is now worse than what scientists predicted as the worst-case scenario four years ago. That means global warming will be correspondingly worse than previous worst-case scenarios, too.

Please don’t break out the champagne glasses — a warmer world doesn’t mean more New Year’s Eve beach parties.

UN scientists released a report in November explaining that a jump in global emissions and temperatures means that sweltering heat waves like we saw last summer are going to become routine. According to the study, “a 1-in-20 year hottest day is likely to become a 1-in-2 year event by the end of the…century.” Ouch.

Those researchers also said that heavier rainfall, more floods, stronger cyclones, more landslides, and increasingly frequent droughts are also likely to accompany the warmer climate. Here’s why: Hotter air holds more moisture, meaning that more water will be sucked out of the soil and oceans and then dumped back to earth in more intense storms.

Sound familiar? By the middle of this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was already calling 2011 one of the most extreme-weather years in U.S. history.

A: They all try to, but it’s harder than you think. Pricing is as much art as science; failure to master it is one of the chief factors that send young, promising firms into bankruptcy.


If freaky weather doesn’t convince you that it’s time to get serious about curbing climate change, the price tag might. Americans took a hit of more than $53 billion in damages from extreme weather-related disasters this year.

But we can do something about it.

We can tax polluters and scrap antiquated subsidies for Big Oil to discourage dinosaur technologies and raise $197 billion for a clean energy revolution. We can stop the most destructive projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, which would haul dirty tar-sands oil across North America. Agencies like the EPA can step up the implementation of hard-fought safeguards like the Clean Air Act.

And at the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, Washington can stop trying to derail global negotiations for a binding solution. It will take a quantum leap in political will on the part of the Obama administration to champion a climate deal. But according to Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, “if we do not have an international agreement whose effect is put in place by 2017, the door will be closed forever.”

If you want to get your grandkids something they’ll be really thankful for this holiday season, fight for their future. Fight to stop climate change.

Janet Redman is co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, where she provides analysis of the international financial institutions’ energy investment and carbon finance activities. Her recent studies on the World Bank’s climate activities include World Bank: Climate Profiteer, and Dirty is the New Clean: A critique of the World Bank’s strategic framework for development and climate change. Reach her at janet@ips-dc.org.

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12 Responses for “Durban Dithers: As Climate Changes With Costly and Ruinous Fallout, Obama Chills”

  1. Mary says:

    Good Article. Unfortunately, the persons whose lives this will most effect don’t have a voice in our current political system. This is a nation and a world run by baby boomers who may love their grandchildren but don’t really give a damn about leaving this world much worse off than the world they inherited.

    • Mike says:

      The baby boomers just take whatever Fox News feeds them as gospel and continue their lives in ignorance of what’s really happening out there. If we really want to get serious about this stuff, it’s going to take a fundamental restructuring of our society. To continue a high quality of life, we need to look to how European cities are built and model our cities after them. There’s a reason these cities existed successfully for hundreds of years before the automobile. If we took a city like Orlando and compacted it to a similarly populated Valencia, Spain size, our cities would be much more sustainable. Check out Jim Kunstler, he talks about how important the built environment is going to be to our survival in the coming decades.

      • klem says:

        “To continue a high quality of life, we need to look to how European cities are built and model our cities after them”

        Most of them were built just after WWII, after they had spend the previous five years trying to exterminate one another. I would never look to Europe for anything, except as an example of what not to do. Europe, Oy!

        cheers

  2. Kip Durocher says:

    I think there are as many baby boomers on one side of this issue as the other. But we must definitely work ~ to educate those that are on the fence and on the other side.
    The stakes are too high to exclude any group for any reason.
    When one talks of what is necessary for changing this around unpleasant things come up.
    As Mike says “going to take a fundamental restructuring of our society” and that statement scares hell out of people. But it must be done. We don’t need to ration electricity or any of that craziness that the far right spouts to obstruct anything but we must give a little. New technologies will come along to help ~ but there is no magic bullet coming along as industry lobbies would have us believe.
    The far left needs to tone down their guilt and disaster rhetoric and get a little more instructive and helpful. Each side throwing missives at each other is kind of like 2 Neros
    fiddling while Rome burned.
    We have allowed Germany to get a 10 year jump on us in solar technology and China a 10 year jump in wind. This should have never been allowed to happen. People need to get more involved in their government and demand that elected officials do what the people requested not what ever the hell they want. Cooperation is essential ~ these problems are too huge for bipartisan bickering.

    • klem says:

      “We have allowed Germany to get a 10 year jump on us in solar technology and China a 10 year jump in wind. This should have never been allowed to happen. ”

      A 10 year jump alright, jump backwards. They can have it.

      • Mike says:

        Klem, your arguments are invalid. I’m suspecting ou’re one of those forum trolls that decided to comment on FlaglerLive. You’re saying most of the building in European cities was after WWII? That’s simply not true. Most of their building stock is at least 100 years old with many of the city centers dating back to the 1200’s. You also say we shouldn’t look to Europe for anything because of their political past? I’m just saying their city structure would be more sustainable, not their ideals. Then you argue that Germany’s progress with solar energy is a jump backwards. Yep, definitely a troll.

  3. Anonymous says:

    is not all the added “green house gas” comeing from countrys other then the US???

    • klem says:

      Yup pretty much. The USA emits about 20% of all human derived CO2, but that only amounts to 3% of all CO2 emitted globally from all sources. That’s about .6% of CO2 comes from the USA. But heres the best part, all CO2 in the atmosphere contributes only about 20% of the earths total greenhouse effect, the greenhouse gas called water vapour delivers almost all of the remainder. So now the US is down to about .12% of the greenhouse effect. That leaves 99.88% of the greenhouse effect is not USA derived.

      With the entire human CO2 emissions amounting to only 3%, no one has ever been able to explain how our 3% dominates the other 97%.

      Climate science works for the denier side.

  4. Mike says:

    Yes anonymous, greenhouse gas comes from other countries as well. The U.S. per capita pollution, however, is higher than most other countries in the world.

  5. Sherry Epley says:

    How about some facts here:
    Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Country

    Carbon Dioxide (equivalent) Emissions (in tonnes) per capita from fuel consumption.

    Country

    CO2e t/person/year

    Albania (all regions)

    1.27

    Algeria (all regions)

    2.53

    Angola (all regions)

    0.63

    Argentina (all regions)

    4.12

    Armenia (all regions)

    1.6

    Australia (all regions)

    18.75

    Austria (all regions)

    8.38

    Azerbaijan (all regions)

    3.22

    Bahrain (all regions)

    28.23

    Bangladesh (all regions)

    0.25

    Belarus (all regions)

    6.46

    Belgium (all regions)

    9.97

    Benin (all regions)

    0.35

    Bolivia (all regions)

    1.29

    Bosnia And Herzegovina (all regions)

    4.77

    Botswana (all regions)

    2.53

    Brazil (all regions)

    1.81

    Brunei Darussalam (all regions)

    14.97

    Bulgaria (all regions)

    6.57

    Cambodia (all regions)

    0.31

    Cameroon (all regions)

    0.25

    Canada (all regions)

    17.37

    Chile (all regions)

    4.28

    China (all regions)

    4.57

    Colombia (all regions)

    1.21

    Congo (all regions)

    0.34

    Congo, Democratic Republic Of The (all regions)

    0.04

    Costa Rica (all regions)

    1.47

    CÔte D’ivoire (all regions)

    0.26

    Croatia (all regions)

    4.96

    Cuba (all regions)

    2.32

    Cyprus (all regions)

    9.34

    Czech Republic (all regions)

    11.83

    Denmark (all regions)

    9.24

    Dominican Republic (all regions)

    1.98

    Ecuador (all regions)

    2.02

    Egypt (all regions)

    2.24

    El Salvador (all regions)

    0.91

    Eritrea (all regions)

    0.11

    Estonia (all regions)

    13.45

    Ethiopia (all regions)

    0.08

    Finland (all regions)

    12.19

    France (all regions)

    5.81

    Gabon (all regions)

    1.92

    Georgia (all regions)

    1.17

    Germany (all regions)

    9.71

    Ghana (all regions)

    0.38

    Gibraltar (all regions)

    16.79

    Greece (all regions)

    8.74

    Guatemala (all regions)

    0.88

    Haiti (all regions)

    0.24

    Honduras (all regions)

    1.15

    Hong Kong (all regions)

    6.26

    Hungary (all regions)

    5.36

    Iceland (all regions)

    7.53

    India (all regions)

    1.18

    Indonesia (all regions)

    1.67

    Iran, Islamic Republic Of (all regions)

    6.56

    Iraq (all regions)

    3.33

    Ireland (all regions)

    10.13

    Israel (all regions)

    9.19

    Italy (all regions)

    7.38

    Jamaica (all regions)

    4.74

    Japan (all regions)

    9.68

    Jordan (all regions)

    3.35

    Kazakhstan (all regions)

    12.3

    Kenya (all regions)

    0.3

    Korea, Democratic People’s Republic Of (all regions)

    2.62

    Korea, Republic Of (all regions)

    10.09

    Kuwait (all regions)

    25.09

    Kyrgyzstan (all regions)

    1.09

    Latvia (all regions)

    3.66

    Lebanon (all regions)

    2.77

    Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (all regions)

    7.01

    Lithuania (all regions)

    4.28

    Luxembourg (all regions)

    22.35

    Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic Of (all regions)

    4.48

    Malaysia (all regions)

    6.68

    Malta (all regions)

    6.65

    Mexico (all regions)

    4.14

    Moldova, Republic Of (all regions)

    1.98

    Mongolia (all regions)

    4.32

    Morocco (all regions)

    1.32

    Mozambique (all regions)

    0.09

    Myanmar (all regions)

    0.25

    Namibia (all regions)

    1.54

    Nepal (all regions)

    0.11

    Netherlands (all regions)

    11.13

    Netherlands Antilles (all regions)

    23.57

    New Zealand (all regions)

    8.48

    Nicaragua (all regions)

    0.79

    Nigeria (all regions)

    0.35

    Norway (all regions)

    7.85

    Oman (all regions)

    13.79

    Pakistan (all regions)

    0.85

    Panama (all regions)

    1.94

    Paraguay (all regions)

    0.6

    Peru (all regions)

    1.09

    Philippines (all regions)

    0.82

    Poland (all regions)

    7.99

    Portugal (all regions)

    5.2

    Qatar (all regions)

    58.01

    Romania (all regions)

    4.27

    Russian Federation (all regions)

    11.21

    Saudi Arabia (all regions)

    14.79

    Senegal (all regions)

    0.34

    Serbia (all regions)

    6.73

    Singapore (all regions)

    9.8

    Slovakia (all regions)

    6.82

    Slovenia (all regions)

    7.89

    South Africa (all regions)

    7.27

    Spain (all regions)

    7.68

    Sri Lanka (all regions)

    0.64

    Sudan (all regions)

    0.28

    Sweden (all regions)

    5.05

    Switzerland (all regions)

    5.62

    Syrian Arab Republic (all regions)

    2.7

    Tajikistan (all regions)

    1.02

    Tanzania, United Republic Of (all regions)

    0.13

    Thailand (all regions)

    3.54

    Togo (all regions)

    0.14

    Trinidad And Tobago (all regions)

    21.85

    Tunisia (all regions)

    2.0

    Turkey (all regions)

    3.59

    Turkmenistan (all regions)

    9.13

    Ukraine (all regions)

    6.77

    United Arab Emirates (all regions)

    29.91

    United Kingdom (all regions)

    8.6

    United States (all regions)

    19.1

    Uruguay (all regions)

    1.73

    Uzbekistan (all regions)

    4.22

    Venezuela (all regions)

    5.24

    Viet Nam (all regions)

    1.1

    Yemen (all regions)

    0.92

    Zambia (all regions)

    0.2

    Zimbabwe (all regions)

    0.7

    Source: International Energy Agency.
    CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion 2009 – Highlights
    “CO2 emissions / population” (2007)
    http://www.iea.org/Textbase/publications/free

    • klem says:

      And all of them combined amount to 3% of the earths total co2 emissions, and all co2 emissions are still dwarfed by water vaour and clouds which contribute five times the greenhouse effect than all co2 combined.

      And after 200 years to emitting co2 into the air, CO2 still only amounts to four tenths of one percent of the atmosphere.

      Face it folks, CO2 is just not the devil you’d hoped and preyed hoped it would be.

      • klem says:

        Oops sorry, I missed a decimal there, let me redo:

        And after 200 years to emitting co2 into the air, CO2 still only amounts to less than four one hundredth of one percent of the atmosphere.

        Needed to make that correction.

        cheers

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