“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”
Sometimes you have to give your head a shake. This week an interesting discussion took place in the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee regarding Obama’s goal to fight climate change. It happened between Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and the White House Science Adviser John Holdren. Which one of these two do you think denies the science behind climate change? The science advisor? Or the staunch Republican?
Here’s what’s interesting: the reason Dr. Buchson—he’s also a physician—doesn’t accept the science behind climate change is because—wait for it—the scientists who write about climate change need global warming to be a reality in order to get paid.
“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
For those of us grumbling about how chilly August was, it can be difficult to remember that we’re only one tiny patch of the entire planet. Whenever local temperatures seem extreme on either end, even I have to remind myself that it’s what’s happening globally that counts.
So what happened for the month of August globally while Ontario Canada seemed unusually cool? Despite our local experience, last month was still the warmest August globally since accurate records began back in 1880, this according to NASA. The globe just keeps warming (just not in my backyard…yet!)
What surprised me a bit about the data is that what I perceived as a cool August was really just closer to the normal average temperatures as defined by the period 1951-1980. Seems I got used to the “new normal” just like everyone else has.
“The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”
An important new book is being released on Tuesday, September 16. It’s written by Naomi Klein who previously wrote an international bestseller by the name of The Shock Doctrine. That book provided an explanation of why the climate crisis means that we can’t continue to use the unchecked free-market form of economics so treasured by modern society, particularly those on the right wing of the political spectrum. Its radical conclusion was that we need to restructure our global economy and build a new political system. Radical but not necessarily misplaced if we want a livable planet for future generations. Otherwise the alternative of continuing with business-as-usual would radically alter our planet and our lives. Either way, something radical is going to happen, either by us or to us.
Klein’s new book is entitled This Changes Everything, available in Chapters and Amazon. In this book, Klein argues that climate change isn’t simply another political issue like taxes and health care. It’s a warning to us all that we need to repair our economic system because it’s not working. She provides good evidence that by substantially reducing our greenhouse emissions, we have the best chance to repair things besides our climate. We can also reduce inequalities so prevalent in society, fix our broken democracy, and rebuild struggling local economies.
She is able to point out the desperation of those who deny the science of climate change and the fractured thinking of those who believe we can combat the problem through geoengineering. Most importantly, she explains why the free market hasn’t—nor will it ever—fix the climate crisis, but in fact will only make things worse through more extreme methods of obtaining fossil fuels and capitalism run wild. Continue reading →
In keeping with this week’s theme, I think I should round it out with another one of my science heroes who have helped shape my attitudes toward global warming and our planet. James Hansen was the first climatologist to take this issue on seriously, talking to government officials about the situation more than a quarter of a century ago.
This clip is longer than the ones I usually show, but it’s an important message and helps to explain why someone like Dr. Hansen continues to fight this fight.
It only makes sense to follow up a video of Neil deGrasse Tyson with a video of my other hero, his predecessor Dr. Carl Sagan. The words Dr. Sagan speaks in these few minutes are some of the most important I’ve ever experienced, and to hear them in his voice has an even greater impact. I was impressed enough with them that I obtained permission from his wife Ann Druyan—she handles his estate—to use them at the end of my book. (You can find them in the epilogue.)
If you’ve never read these words from Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot or heard them before in this video, be prepared to look at our planet in an entirely new way.