Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Even Fiercely Determined Pollyannas Eventually Allow Reality to Intrude
Perhaps after it's too late, but at least another denialist publicly recants.
It's amazing that a country that pours hundreds of billions of dollars into preemptive wars and phony "missile shields" worries about overspending on preventing global climate catastrophe.
(This piece is not behind the NYTimes pay wall so you can read the whole thing at the link below.)
Finally Feeling the Heat
By GREGG EASTERBROOK
TODAY "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's movie about the greenhouse effect, opens in New York and California. Many who already believe global warming is a menace will flock to the film; many who scoff at the notion will opt for Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks. But has anything happened in recent years that should cause a reasonable person to switch sides in the global-warming debate?
Yes: the science has changed from ambiguous to near-unanimous. As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert. . . .
That research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger:
The American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society in 2003 both declared that signs of global warming had become compelling.
In 2004 the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that there was no longer any "substantive disagreement in the scientific community" that artificial global warming is happening.
In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences joined the science academies of Britain, China, Germany, Japan and other nations in a joint statement saying, "There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring."
This year Mr. Karl of the climatic data center said research now supports "a substantial human impact on global temperature increases."
And this month the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system."
Case closed. Earth's surface, atmosphere and seas are warming; ocean currents are slowing; ice shelves are melting faster than projected; spring is coming ever sooner; rainfall patterns are changing; North American migratory birds are ranging father north; the ability of the earth to self-regulate to resist warming appears to be waning. While natural variation may play roles in climatic trends, overwhelming evidence points to the accumulation of greenhouse gases, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, as the key. . . .
The greatest worry is that climate change will harm the agricultural system on which civilization is based. Suppose climate change shifted precipitation away from breadbasket regions, sending rain clouds instead to the world's deserts. Over generations, society would adjust — but years of global food shortages might occur during the adjustment, likely causing chaos in poor countries and armies of desperate refugees at the borders of wealthy nations.
President Bush was right to withdraw the United States from the cumbersome Kyoto greenhouse treaty, which even most signatories are ignoring. [?!?!?!] But Mr. Bush should speak to history by proposing a binding greenhouse-credit trading system within the United States. Waiting for science no longer justifies delay, as results are now in.