Senate Votes on Climate Change

Today the U.S. Senate voted that climate change was real, not a hoax. The vote was 98 – 1. Even Senator Inhofe, who I often ridicule here, voted affirmative. The lone nay vote was Roger Wicker (R–MS).

It is hard for me to swallow that people can still say that “climate change” is a hoax. What evidence do they need? Fourteen of the fifteen hottest years in history were in this century. We went over 400 ppm for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, measured on Mauna Kea. This is the highest reading in 800,000 years. There are people that say this is all coincidence.

Inhofe says that “man is arrogant” for thinking he can change the climate. Man doesn’t need to be arrogant to mess things up. Man messes things up by accident and ignorance alone. Look at the great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast swirling vortex north of Hawaii.

During his first 1,000-mile crossing of the gyre, Moore calculated half a pound for every 100 square meters of debris on the surface, and arrived at 3 million tons of plastic. His estimate, it turned out, was corroborated by U.S. Navy calculations. It was the first of many staggering figures he would encounter. And it only represented visible plastic: an indeterminate amount of larger fragments get fouled by enough algae and barnacles to sink. In 1998, Moore returned with a trawling device, such as Sir Alistair Hardy had employed to sample krill, and found, incredibly, more plastic by weight than plankton on the ocean’s surface.

Weisman, Alan (2007-07-10). The World Without Us (p. 123). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

So man can foul up the ocean by dumping stuff into it, from ships, through rivers, through leaking landfills.

What stunned Charles Moore most was learning where it came from. In 1975, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences had estimated that all oceangoing vessels together dumped 8 million pounds of plastic annually. More recent research showed the world’s merchant fleet alone shamelessly tossing around 639,000 plastic containers every day. But littering by all the commercial ships and navies, Moore discovered, amounted to mere polymer crumbs in the ocean compared to what was pouring from the shore.

Weisman, Alan (2007-07-10). The World Without Us (pp. 121-123). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

639,000 plastic containers dumped into the ocean every day! Senator Inhofe, I would think you agree that we are definitely fouling up the ocean. What makes you think we’re not fouling up the atmosphere as well? Is it because you can see plastic floating, but you can’t see the carbon dioxide? You believe in God, right, so you do believe in things you can’t see.

We’re messing with the planet big time, and it’s about time our leadership recognizes it and takes responsibility for it on our behalf. After all, they represent us. It was refreshing to see Obama stand up for science yesterday in the State of the Union Address, and it was encouraging to see the Senate vote today.

Pretty soon the deniers will simply look ridiculous in their affirmations, as  ridiculous as a medical doctor in a 1955 commercial telling us we should smoke Camel cigarettes.

Opinion of Global Warming by Congressional District

Below is the map of how people responded to the question: “Is global warming a threat to the environment?”

The deeper the red, the more the answer was Yes. The deeper the blue and purple, the more No.

What I take away from that is:

In the cities, in the large metropolitan areas and where most of the universities are, we are leaning to the red, to the Yes. In the coal and oil states we’re in the deep No. And then there is Texas and the South.

Global Warming by Congressional District
Global Warming by Congressional District [click to enlarge]
This link gets you to the actual map, where you can search for your own zip code, and scan for results by county, zip code, congressional district, senatorial district and other filters. You can zoom in and out, and pan the map around.

The most important point I took away from this poll is this: The question was not: “Do you think that global warming is man-made?” Whether it is man-made or not is not part of the question. It was: “Is global warming a threat to the environment?”

It’s pretty hard for me to come up with a scenario where an educated person will say “Well, no, cranking up the Earth’s temperature by 2 degrees Celsius is not a problem at all. Let’s go and melt to Antarctic ice sheet and flood Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Go right ahead.”

That would be the essence of saying No as an answer to this question.



Global Warming in 15 Seconds

This color-coded map in Robinson projection displays a progression of changing global surface temperatures anomalies from 1880 through 2013. Higher than normal temperatures are shown in red and lower then normal temperatures are shown in blue.The final frame represents global temperature anomalies averaged from 2009 through 2013. For more info check this NASA site.

After I viewed this, I violated my own rule to NEVER read comments below YouTube videos lest the inanity crush me, and I found this comment by Dee Jordan:


To use her works, I find it “truly hilarious” that she didn’t have enough insight and reading skills to figure out that this was not an absolute map, but a map showing deviation from the norm.

The problem is that most people don’t have enough sense of science to know the difference and they suck up drivel like this and teach their children — not well.

Humanity’s Elephants in the Room

Korean Concentration Camps

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea estimates that North Korea holds as many as 120,000 people in its system of concentration and detention camps, and that 400,000 people have died in these camps from torture, starvation, disease, and execution.

Some reports indicate that they also practice generational imprisonment:

Many prisoners of the camp were born there under North Korea’s “three generations of punishment”. This means anyone found guilty of committing a crime, which could be as simple as trying to escape North Korea, would be sent to the camp along with that person’s entire family. The subsequent two generations of family members would be born in the camp and must also live their entire lives and die there.

Source Wikipidia

See this Wikipedia article for more details and links.

If you are unlucky enough to be born the grandchild of a person who tried to escape the country, you will serve slave labor for your entire life. Imagine the world-view you would have under those circumstances?

And we, in 2014, allow this to go on, while the baby face dictator gets media coverage.

Bees are Dying

In North America alone, the National Agriculture Statistics Service reported that there were 2.44 million honey-producing hives in the United States in February 2008, down from 4.5 million in 1980, and 5.9 million in 1947. This is also happening in similar proportions in Europe and the rest of the world. We don’t exactly know what is causing it, but we suspect pesticides. Our agriculture depends on bees to a large degree, and entire crops are in peril without sufficient numbers of bees available.

Overfishing the Oceans

Faced with the collapse of large-fish populations, commercial fleets are going deeper in the ocean and father down the food chain for viable catches. This so-called “fishing down” is triggering a chain reaction that is upsetting the ancient and delicate balance of the sea’s biologic system.

A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.

National Geographic

Anthropogenic Climate Change

97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing climate change.  We are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at rates that will result in global warming to a degree that the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica will melt, causing a rise of sea levels and overall changed in weather, resulting in droughts and many other climate related disasters, all within the next 100 years.

Most of the educated world agrees with this assessment. In the United States, however, there is a strong movement of “climate deniers” particularly in the conservative population that is well-funded by the oil and coal industries, putting the general consensus in question. Since the U.S. is by far the largest polluter in the world, this strong anti-climate-change sentiment has global implications. One of the arguments of deniers is that since China and India are just starting to pump pollution into the air, whatever we do will not offset that, so we might as well not even try. A significant percentage of the U.S. population seems to have bought into this philosophy.

We didn’t want to face that smoking was dangerous to our health, until the first generations of smokers started dying early in the millions in the 1960s and 1970, so the inevitable evidence eventually came and changed our attitude. This will happen with climate change, but the nature of the problem is much more calamitous in the event that climate scientists are right. We could ruin the planet for centuries or millennia – before it can recover again.

We are playing a big-stakes game of dice. Our conservatives are not even willing to hedge their bets – they’re betting the planet in exchange of jobs and profits.

Mass Extinction

Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue, one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species,
and climate change.

Source Link Here

Depletion of Fossil Fuels

Oil companies are making record profits, and did so during the hard years of 2007, 2008 and 2009. Right now, the United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer in the world. Oil companies are raking it in while they can, because they know the gravy train is coming to an end. The International Energy Agency announced in 2006 that the world had hit “Peak Oil” meaning that oil production worldwide had hit the maximum. Going forward from Peak Oil, it will be harder and more expensive to extract and deliver oil, and new supplies will lag behind new demand.

The evidence for is, of course, is the price we are now paying at the pump, which is more than twice what it was just five years ago. The free market speaks the ultimate truth here. Oil is in more demand than can be fulfilled.

There is a lot of controversy about the Peak Oil theory. People argue that the Peak Oil crowd does not know what they are talking about. So, for a moment, let’s put aside all studies and all science, and especially all American politics.

It took about 450 million years to make all the oil in the world. Oil is basically the end-result of millions of years of sunshine (solar energy) being trapped in organic material, mostly plants. The earth is not making any more of the stuff at an appreciable rate. About a hundred years ago we started using it up by burning it and as ingredients for manufacturing, and we have made a measurable dent in our supply. If you trust the doom-sayers, we have about 20 years of oil left at the current consumption. Some say 20 to 50 years. Wild and crazy optimists say 100 years. But it’s limited, very limited, and we will run out.

The question is not if Peak Oil is real. The only question we may ask is if it really happened in 2006, or if it’s still off in the future, perhaps in 2016 or 2026.

I once calculated [see formula here] that roughly every day we are using up as much fuel as it took nature 5,000 years to create.

We. Will. Run. Out. Of. Oil.

When the time finally comes, perhaps centuries hence, our descendants will have figured out how to make do without it. But there are legitimate uses of fossil fuels in reasonable amounts, and they will wish we had not squandered it to make plastic grocery bags or plastic forks for one time use; or for teenagers to drive to the mall. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, and when they are all gone, we’ll have to wait another 450 million years to get more, and haul them here from another planet with life on it.

Our strategy is pretty weird, isn’t it?


There are more people in slavery today than any time in previous history. Slavery has many faces. Keeping people trapped in sweatshops in Bangladesh so we can buy cheap shirts at the mall in the United States is a form of slavery. Holding young girls as sex objects is a form of slavery. Bringing laborers from Pakistan to work in construction in Dubai and taking away their passports is a form of slavery.

We are making it possible and we let it happen by our willingness to consume the products of the various forms of slavery – at Wal-Mart and all the other retail stores in our neighborhoods. Go to the mall and try to find a shirt made in the United States, and you will recognize what I mean.

Wars over Religion

It’s 2014 and we are still bickering and shooting each other over whose god is right and whose is wrong. It’s been going on for thousands of years, and we’re still willing to die for stuff written in books in the bronze age or in medieval times. I know people in and from Israel, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. They are all good human beings, people who only want to make their lives and the lives of their children better. That’s what everybody wants. If we just stopped bringing gods into the picture, we’d all get along just fine.

The gods are propped up by those that get fat off of them. The religious leaders wearing Rolexes and driving Bentleys. The politicians who build palaces. The kings who tax the rest of their countrymen. And the whole religious food chain below them, all the way down to the basket that’s passed down the rows of pews on Sunday morning.

I say we just abolish religion and save humanity in the process. But I am naïve.



Politician Brandon Smith Makes Moronic Statement

The most moronic statement I ever heard a politician make about climate change – here is Kentucky State Senator Brandon Smith:

As you (Energy & Environment Cabinet official) sit there in your chair with your data, we sit up here in ours with our data and our constituents and stuff behind us. I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.

— Sen. Brandon Smith

If you don’t believe this is what he actually said, hear for yourself:

I can’t even figure out what his statement is supposed to mean or what his point is.

On Earth, the average temperature is about 58 degrees F, the average temperature on Mars is  -80 degrees F. Depending on the time of day and the direction of the sun, Mars temperatures can reach a high of 70 degrees F and a low of -225 degrees F. The atmosphere on Mars is of an entirely different chemical composition and density. Mars has a different mass and size than Earth, and has no molten core and thus no magnetic field. This results in lethal levels of high energy radiation at the surface.

This man is a senator sitting on the bench of some hearing, so he looks important. There are people in our country that think he knows what he is talking about. People listen to him. He has power over people’s lives.

He sounds really smart when he says the doesn’t “want to get into the debate about climate change.”

Yes, I don’t think I’d want to get into a scientific debate if I were Brandon Smith.


Chevron CEO Watson in AP Interview

Climate change activists decry Chevron CEO Watson’s statements in an interview by AP for shirking responsibility for climate change:

AP: Do fossil fuel producers bear the responsibility for curbing greenhouse gas emissions?

WATSON: We have the responsibility to deliver our energy in an  environmentally sound fashion. The greatest advancements in living  standards in recorded history have taken place in the modern hydrocarbon  era.  I don’t think that’s coincidental. Our leaders have to make a  decision. Do they want that to continue or do they have a better  solution for us? So it’s not my call.

I tend to agree with Watson. It really ISN’T the responsibility of the oil companies to do something about climate change. Their job is to maximize shareholder return by exploring and selling petroleum products to retail customers. What makes us think that Chevron or the other oil companies are going to take steps that will erode their business?

It’s a silly thought.

It is the responsibility of all of us, and our political leaders eventually, to find scalable and effective alternative energy sources. In the same interview Watson also states that the only other scalable energy source is nuclear. That may be the case right now, but it will change, as pressure to find other sources increases. It’s a copout to just say nothing else is scalable. Oil wasn’t scalable either when it was first found. Governments subsidized oil heavily in the early years, just like they subsidize wind and solar now.

Many years ago, when the tobacco companies were still a strong in the U.S., and smoking ads were still allowed, it wasn’t the tobacco companies that curbed smoking in our country. Their job was to produce and sell tobacco. It was the public, it was public education and health awareness that curbed smoking. If somebody had told us then that smoking would not be allowed in any public building or work place anymore, we would not have believed it. But it happened, because it was healthy and good.

Curbing the use of fossil fuel will also happen, and it won’t be initiated by the oil companies. Get used to that.

Chevron is not shirking responsibility for climate change. It’s not responsible for it. It’s just that its product has many problems, including generation of greenhouse gases as it gets burned, but last and not least, that there is only a limited amount of it on earth. Despite Watson’s statements that oil will be around for generations, it is going to run out, we just don’t know exactly how soon.

It is we, the people, that are responsible.

The Greenland Ice Sheet

Photo by Hannes Grobe, AWI

This is the village of Ittoqqortoormiit in Greenland, photo by Hannes Grobe. Not much growing going on. No wonder the people paint their houses colorfully. Things would be pretty bleak otherwise.

Greenland is the largest island in the world, located in the North Atlantic.

Greenland B

It is mostly covered by an ice sheet, which melts back in the summers and is replenished in the winters.

Greenland A

If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt completely, the sea level around the world would rise by 23 feet. Hundreds of coastal cities around the world would be abandoned. The rice-growing river deltas of Asia would be under water. Here in the U.S., most of Florida would be gone, Manhattan would be largely under water, and many of our great cities like Boston, Washington, Houston, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles,  San Francisco and Honolulu would be severely affected. I cannot imagine that civilization as we know it would be able to continue.

I think it’s safe to say that if we cannot mobilize and motivate ourselves to save the Greenland ice sheet we probably cannot save our civilization.

The U.S. climate change obfuscation movement still argues that it’s not humans that are changing the climate. It’s nature all by itself, and therefore we can just go on burning fossil fuels without worry.

According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data, U.S. coal mining was responsible for 154,000 direct jobs and over 400,000 indirect jobs in 2008.

Interestingly, the same people in the U.S. Congress arguing that global warming is a hoax are also the ones that call it immoral that we leave debt to our descendants.

What is more immoral?

  • Not to curb coal burning and jeopardize some of the 550,000 jobs dependent on coal?
  • Directly cause the annihilation of all major U.S. coastal cities, displacing over 100 million people all within the current century?

I am sure it is hard to transition from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy. It too will create jobs, it’s not like the jobs go away, they are being moved around.

But it is harder to relocate 100 million people when our cities are flooded.

The only counter-argument the deniers have is that it’s not humans that are causing the warming, it’s nature alone. We just have to deal with the results.

Is it worth the bet?

I agree that it is immoral to leave impossible levels of debt to future generations.

I think that it is more immoral to trash the global ecosystem so far that sea levels rise by dozens of feet, if it indeed is avoidable.

I do not think it is immoral to transition jobs from fossil fuel burning to renewable energies, even if it comes with a short-term cost. It is an investment in our children’s future.

I agree we cannot do this alone. We need China, Russia, India, Brazil and Indonesia to go along with it. Note that I didn’t include Europe on that list. It seems there are very few deniers left in Europe. Somehow they “got it” already.

Maybe it’s because they’re all socialists, though.

Is There Proof that Climate Change is Human-Made?

A few weeks ago I posted a movie review on Chasing Ice. A reader posted the following comment:

I’ve seen this documentary, they are beautiful and astonishing videos, everyone should see how glaciers calve in time-lapse. These videos document how glaciers calve but they are not evidence that CO2 is the cause. Suggesting that they are calving faster than ever before, or that they will never regrow, or that this has never happened before is pure bunk.

Still, everyone should see these videos, they are compelling.

The comment is complimentary enough, but it appears to discredit the content of my post entirely. Several things have happened here that warrant some contemplation:

  • The movie Chasing Ice simply documents facts, in this case receding of glaciers. The movie does not imply this is man-made, nor it is trying to be proof of such. The movie is a documentary showing the years of relentless, dangerous, painstaking work by a dedicated leader and an entire team of assistants.
  • In my post reviewing the movie I also didn’t offer it up as proof, but I did make insinuations appealing to the reader’s common sense. The commenter, I hope, was trying to discount me, not the creators of the movie.
  • I must have been provocative enough to elicit that response, and I take that as a positive outcome.

It occurred to me that it is very easy to discredit the hard, sometimes life-long work of dedicated people with very simple, general statements. This happens a lot when an “expert” gets on television and debunks some study, outcome, book, opinion or sometimes life-work.

In this particular case, the commenter is right. The movies showing glaciers receding at a rapid rate are not evidence that CO2 is the cause. Suggesting that they are calving faster than ever before, or that they will never regrow, or that this has never happened before, is not quite pure bunk in my opinion, but the commenter is right.

We know that only approximately 11,000 years ago there was so much ice bound over land in the northern hemisphere that glaciers reached down to Minnesota and Montana in the United States, and the Bering Straight was dry so people could walk from Asia to America. Yes, these glaciers are not here today, and the oceans are high again, so it certainly has happened before (we don’t know quite exactly how fast).

However, we do know that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is now higher than it has been for 80,000 years, with the possible exception of very short spikes during major volcano eruptions.

The vast majority of climate scientists do agree that humans are the cause of the high CO2 levels in the atmosphere. I am too old now to go back to school for five more years for a Ph.D. in a climate science so I can personally contribute scientifically to this debate. I also don’t personally know anyone who actually has such an education. Therefore I must rely on what I can read about both sides of the argument, discuss the topic with as many people as possible, and come to a conclusion based on all this personal analysis.

Can a climate scientist then pick up my post that results from this study and burn a huge hole in it in just a few sentences? Yes, sure, and there is nothing I can do about it.

However, there are some interesting and telling voices out there:

Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.

— Øystein Dahle, former Vice President of Exxon for Norway

Of course, we all know that half the Republican members of Congress do not believe that global warming is real, or that, if it is, it’s caused by human activity.

Fly over any part of the world today and look down. Or check out a YouTube made from the international space station using time-lapse photography:

Do you see the massive scars humans left on the planet? Do you think that humans could make those scars and not leave the equivalent scars in the atmosphere?

The burning of fossil fuels on this planet started in earnest about 100 years ago and is now happening on such a massive scale that we’re predicting that we’ll run out of oil and gas in 20 years, 50 years, 100 years, 200 years? Whatever. We’ll run out very soon, on a geological time scale.

  • Do I have personal experience as a climate scientist? No.
  • Do I have evidence that man is causing global warming? No.
  • Do I have proof that the high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere come from our burning of fossil fuels? No.
  • Do I have proof that there is no god? No.
  • Do I have proof that there is a god? No.

Let me just bring in the philosophical concept of Occam’s Razor, which speculates that if there is a problem, the simplest solution or answer is the most likely one to be right:

If it walks like a duck, if it looks like a duck, it if quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

I’ll go with that for a moment, and starting with January 1, 2013, let me turn the tables:

  • Prove to me that the high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere does not come from human activities.
  • Prove to me that human activities are not the major cause why our glaciers are melting at an unprecedented speed.
  • Prove to me that we could not stop this process and turn things around to get the balance back into the atmosphere that was there in 1800, by simple changes on how we live and travel.

Those on the high horse of “it’s immoral to leave this debt to our children” ought to join me in the conviction that it is more than immoral to leave a broken planet to our children, it’s criminal. Quite frankly, if we break the planet enough, the debt simply won’t matter.

Happy New Year!

Do We Need Wind and Solar Power?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled Do We Need Subsidies for Solar and Wind Power? caught my attention. It is a useful article,  and the Comments section itself is worth equal to a whole book of information, pro and con.

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Kreuzer, a research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation:

There is nearly universal agreement that an all-out carbon-cutting policy in the U.S.—of which wind and solar subsidies are only a small part—would do next to nothing to moderate any global warming. This is because future carbon emissions will come overwhelmingly from the developing world, which shows little appetite for squeezing economic growth to cut a few inches from sea level.

Whether Dr. Kreuzer is right or not I leave up to the reader. However, it seems to project an attitude of: why us, if the other guys don’t follow along?

My answer to that is simple: The world has looked to the United States for global leadership for over a century now. The world copies what we do. Our groundbreaking attitude about smoking has taken foothold in many other countries, and will continue to in the coming decades. On the less favorable side, our consumerism is being copied the world over. Countries that knew nothing about Halloween are now trick-or-treating. There are thousands of examples.

If the United States throws up its hands on carbon, because China, India, Indonesia and Brazil are out of our control, those very countries and their people will get the message that cutting carbon is not very important.

With leadership comes responsibility. It’s not always cheap and easy.

For example, the United States could have stayed out of World War II (assuming Pearl Harbor hadn’t happened, which is a stretch). But it could have. Hitler would then have conquered Europe, including England, and we would be living in a completely different world – and not a better one. The United States did the right thing, at great cost to it, to its people and to those thousands who lost their lives on Europe’s beaches and battle fields. A terrible cost.

But the cost of leadership.

Volcanos and CO2 Emissions – Truth or Hoax?

Fact Check:

When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted in March 2010, I received this mass email:

VOLCANOES – MAKING LIBERALS LOOK STUPID…NATURALLY! *FOOD FOR THOUGHT ….. this was sent to me by a friend, thought I would pass it along.  *

*Are you sitting down? *Okay, here’s the bombshell. The current volcanic eruption going on in Iceland, since it first started spewing volcanic ash a week ago, has, to this point, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet.  Not only that, this single act of God has added emissions to the earth estimated to be 42 times more than can be corrected by the extreme human regulations proposed for annual reductions.

I know, I know…. (have a group hug)…it’s very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up til midnight to finish your kid’s “The Green Revolution” science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, going on vacation to a city park instead of Yosemite, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your $1 light bulbs with $10 light bulbs …well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just the past week. The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere in the past week has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon.  And, those hundreds of thousands of American jobs you helped move to Asia with expensive emissions demands on businesses… you know, the ones that are creating even more emissions than when they were creating American jobs, well that must seem really worthwhile now. I’m so sorry. And I do wish that there was some kind of a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the brush fire season across the western U.S.A. will start in about two months and those fires will negate your efforts to reduce carbon emissions in our world for the next two years.

So, grab a Coke, give the world a hug, and have a nice day!


So what is really going on?

According to FactCheck:

It’s true that erupting volcanoes do emit some carbon dioxide, one of the “greenhouse gases” that contributes to global climate change. But according to USGS, human activities release at least a hundred times more CO2 every year than all the world’s volcanoes combined. Published estimates of the gas emissions from all volcanoes in the world range from 123 million to 378 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Humans haven’t produced that little since the 19th century.

The problem is that when a denier tells you the content of the email above at a cocktail party, and you don’t just happen to be a climatologist who specializes in the study of the atmosphere, you probably don’t have the facts at your fingertips and can’t successfully argue against this outrageous, completely made-up, claim.

Fact check goes on documenting that the standstill of European air travel during that time, due to ash in the atmosphere, provided a significant offset of the CO2 emissions by the volcano:

Carbon dioxide isn’t a major output of volcanic eruptions. In the case of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which began erupting in March 2010 and entered an explosive phase in April 2010, one study found that less than 15 percent of the gas given off in the pre-explosive phase was CO2 – the majority was water vapor. For some other volcanoes, the proportion of CO2 is even lower.

Still, that accounted for 150,000 to 300,000 tons of CO2 per day at the height of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, according to wire reports. But the European Union’s air travel, which was shut down for days during the eruption, accounts for 3 percent of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, which according to the European Environment Agency was about 4,089 billion tons in 2008. That means air travel in Europe gives off about 340,000 tons of CO2 per day. The shutdown of air travel in much of Europe during the first week of the explosive eruption would have offset, if not greatly outpaced, the CO2 Eyjafjallajokull produced during that time.

The amount of misinformation spewed on the American public, driven by purposeful and targeted campaigns to dumb us down, is alarming.

Insinuating, after sprewing this volcano of garbage, that Al Gore somehow made up this “hoax” to get rich, is unforgivable. I would like to get a chance to compare the life-work of the writer of that email, who in cowardice wrote anonymously, to that of Al Gore. Then let’s have this argument again.

Now for the most important question: Who can pronounce Eyjafjallajokull?

Book Review: World on the Edge – by Lester R. Brown

World on the EdgeRemember when you were in college and you read a text-book. You started  with a highlighter and marked the sections that were important, that you would need to or want to remember, either for the test, or better, for your life? If you did this with  World on the Edge, the whole book would be yellow. You’d realize that there isn’t a sentence that you didn’t want to highlight, and double highlight.

Every now and then a powerful non-fiction book comes along that slaps you in the face and completely wakes you up.

World on the Edge is such a book.

Lester Brown takes on all our global challenges at once in this succinct and easy to read book. He covers falling water tables and shrinking harvests, world desertification, climate change, hunger, disease, overpopulation, financial demise of nations, failing states and sustainable energy supply.

The first seven chapters state the problem, the last five chapters provide a workable solution, which he calls Plan B.

Not only is the book a wake-up call for the reader, but it represents a great reference work. Full of statistics, details, references to studies, other books and general information, World on the Edge is very useful as a study guide to the problems of the world. Pick any of the topics discussed, and be careful which you pick, because you can make a life-time career out of studying any one of those in-depth.

The challenges we face in our world on a global scale are staggering. Rather than doomsday trumpeting, the author presents workable solutions with funding requirements that could be put underway right now, to make a change within years, not generations.

The question is: Are we willing to listen?

Rating: ****

Movie Review: Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice

National Geographic photographer James Balog was once a skeptic about climate change. After years of work on the Extreme Ice Survey, he discovers undeniable evidence of our changing planet.

In the documentary film, Chasing Ice, Balog deploys revolutionary time-lapse cameras to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. By compressing years of change by stringing up thousands of photographs at a rapid rate, like frames of film, Balog tells the story of the glaciers, as if the glaciers themselves were talking.

Medieval thinkers like Rove, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Hannity may have large megaphones through which to blast their dumbed-down soundbites at millions of people, but they obviously have no science education.

They certainly do disservice and insult to just about every serious climatologist who knows, not speculates, that the world climate is changing at a rapid rate, right in front of our eyes.

Yes. Some glaciers have actually grown in the last few years. In the Yukon Territory, out of the 1,500 glaciers, four (yes 4) have grown in the last few decades. About 300 have disappeared altogether. And the remaining approximately 1,200 have all receded significantly.

The CO2 level in the atmosphere was always between 180 and 300 parts per million (ppm) over the last in 800,000 years, never above 300 ppm. On Mauna Loa in October 2011, it was 388 ppm, in October 2012, it was 391 ppm. This dramatic rise has occurred just over the last few decades and is off the charts for the last 800,000 years. Arguing that this is normal fluctuation of the earth’s cycle is ludicrous. The last time levels were in the current range was 15 – 20 million years ago, when the earth was an entirely different eco-system with much higher sea levels. The only significant massive change on earth to bring this on is the spread of humanity and industrialization.

In my opionion, watching Chasing Ice should be mandatory for any educated person. Skeptics might come out changed. Alarmists might be more alarmed.

I felt pensive, restless, and not quite in balance when I left the theater and got into my 25 mpg fossil-fuel-burning car to drive the 25 miles home.

Something’s got to change.

Rating: ****

For my readers in San Diego: Chasing Ice in playing at the Ken in Kensington.