Category Archives: skeptics

Why Should We Care?

Annette del Sur publicizing salvage campaign, 1942. Taken from
Annette del Sur publicizing salvage campaign, 1942. Taken from

There were a lot of comments to my last post (many thanks) and since only some are offered in the Comments section I would like to share some good points with you.

“Those of us who try to avoid using plastic or paper bags at the grocery store, walk or bike whenever possible, recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and food items that can be mulched, sometimes feel as if it is hopeless because of the millions who don’t…and don’t care either.”

I hear you. And I feel your pain. But herein lies the challenge. I agree that we are not going to beat this by going bagless, hybrid or organic. No amount of bus rides, CFLs or tap water is going to turn this thing around. It is bigger than all of us and requires international action. But it also requires a new consciousness of our interconnectedness and our relationship with the planet. Humankind must emerge from its so self-involved adolescence. So, as you lug your reuseable bags while biking to the store after turning off all the lights and unplugging your cell phone charger and shutting down your computer–remember that you are modeling behavior that is the new standard of the right way to be.

“…nothing will be done until the rich nations of this world begin to suffer and the situation is almost too late to reverse. That’s if we’re lucky. Otherwise, be glad that you are living your life now and that you won’t be around to see what the future has in store.”

My sister would reply that in fact, she plans on being back so she’ll pay attention to the now, thank you very much. I can’t count on that but I care when I look at my grandchildren and try to imagine what life will be like for them. Supposedly, with enough political will, we can demand that our leaders address the issue of global warming. I understand your skepticism, however; as a student of political science I know that there are many forces pushing in many directions. I console myself with the stories of World War II and how the US pulled together–and did some remarkable things! So many examples! Because canned goods were needed to supply troops overseas, Americans turned to Victory Gardens, planting 20 million of them to provide vegetables for their families. Drivers received coupons for 3 gallons of gas per week…not to save gasoline but to save on automobile tires and the supply of rubber.

And, as the 1942 poster above depicts, the people were asked to conserve, collect and recycle everything from rags, metal, rubber and paper.

“…There are lots of people with their heads in the sand about what we humans have unconsciously been doing to our earth. This is not a liberal vs conservative matter and getting into stereotypes clouds serious issues for our survival…This is an ethical matter and ignoring evidence worldwide is unconscionable.”

It will take some time to bring some into the fold but overall I am hopeful. And that’s why I’m here.

Weatherman Calls Warming a Scam

John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel made the news rounds when he wrote an article the other day:

“It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming.”

In short, global warming is a hoax cooked up by scientists to garner themselves huge research grants. I’m not going to argue with John; some would say simply ignore such rantings. Or, as Jay Leno says: “My thing with the green situation is: Even if you don’t believe in global warming, don’t you want to screw the oil company or gas company or utility company?”

My curiousity is piqued, however, about just why there is such a vociferous backlash to something that is rapidly moving mainstream. Clearly, we don’t know everything; some of the prognosticators and their predictions will be shown to be wrong, but so much of the thinking, speaking and writing on climate change makes a certain sense. Or am I just being brainwashed?

Yesterday I read the entire text of James Hansen’s recent testimony before the Iowa State Utilities Board. He was an expert witness to argue against a new coal plant opening up. I did skim the technical parts but overall I found his arguments very convincing.

He holds some rather radical ideas, one being that an immediate moratorium on coal plants (any that do not carbon sequester, or recapture released emissions) is necessary before “feedbacks” resulting from the release of CO2 emissions will cause an acceleration of climate change impacts (somewhat like my earlier discussion of tipping points) and that developing countries with increasing coal use, such as China and India, should be given 10 years before they should be required to curb their coal plant emissions, mainly because cumulatively, we (US, Canada and Europe) have been responsible for the most CO2 emissions over time–regardless of the fact that China’s current emissions now surpass those of the US. This sounds tremendously fair and his calculations bear out his sense that the planet can handle that along with increased efficiencies, etc.

The public policy and politics of all of this is tremendously complex and we all need to pay attention and educate ourselves. I hope to help through this blog. But back to the Grand Disagreement.

Hansen concludes his testimony with this personal observation:

“Based on experience, I believe that the difficulty in communication about global warming and the lack of success in obtaining actions needed to reduce global warming are, at least in part, a consequence of the role of special interests
who seem to place inordinate priority on short-term profits. Although global warming has received much attention of late, there remains a large gap between what is understood by the relevant scientific community and what is known by those who need to know, the public and policy-makers. I find it puzzling that conservatives, and I consider myself to be a moderate conservative, are not more concerned about preserving creation…”

So…global warming is a hoax to tap into lucrative research grants and… special interests are spreading disinformation and disbelief to protect their short-term profits. Enough already.