Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sen. Inhofe was right?

Did I really write that? That Sen. James Inhofe, über climate denier was right about something? I guess that I did, and as much as I hate to admit it, his criticism of climate change science has an element of truth in it… though not exactly as he intended.

Faced with an unrelenting attack from those who would profit from the continuation of our energy status quo, many scientists have under reported their findings, emphasized the low end of their estimates of the rate of climate change and, in fact, have just plain missed some of the data. The problem for Sen. Inhofe is that the direction of their error is just the opposite from that which he proclaims.

As reported in just the last week, scientists completely missed the effects of a warming climate on the East Antarctic ice sheet. While that is a long distance away and most of us will never go there, we will all have to deal with an ocean that is rising faster and will rise higher given our general tendency to do nothing until trouble hits like a Hurricane Katrina, full of intensity, overwhelming our resources and easily managed had we only done what we should have.

This is the effect that Inhofe and his ilk have had. We had concrete evidence of that effect in April, when the U.K. Guardian published this.
Far from over-playing their hand to swell their research coffers, scientists have been toning down their message in an attempt to avoid public despair and inaction.
So we have been lulled into inaction, fueled by a sense that there is always time enough to act and an arrogance about our own technological capabilities. Now we let the half-truthers warn us of catastrophe fatigue while they hope that we just sit down and shut up.

We we are not going to sit down and shut up. And the scientists are becoming more forceful, as noted on Yale Univ.'s Environment 360 blog today.
Ahead of talks in Copenhagen, a group of leading climate scientists has issued a new report summarizing the most recent research findings from around the world and concluding that scientists have underestimated the pace and extent of global warming.
For California, perhaps the most important effect is the under-estimation of sea level rise. That will be the subject of a subsequent post, since it tears at the very fabric of the recently passed water legislation in California. Suffice it to say that the bond issue is already out of date before it is even put to a vote.

If Greens are to be relevant in the determination of our future, then Greens need to increase our level of participation in all aspects of the climate debate and to become leaders in climate action. The time has passed when only polite reasoned debated will carry the day and save mankind. Let's take this to the streets with the same intensity that we have done over the Iraq War. The moral issues, the ecological justice questions are of a scope that far exceed anything that we thought about Bush's folly. We are not referring to the thousands who died by the action of the US, but of the millions who will die due to the inaction of the US and moral hypocrisy of U.S. Senators like Inhofe.

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