Tuesday, February 06, 2007

good news & bad guys


The upsurge of climate news has been truly amazing. Record temperatures in Northern Europe and North America. Record droughts in Australia. Record glacier melts from the Alps to the Kilimanjaro. And then, ka-pow, the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change, released 10/30/06 in the UK. And now the United Nations have declared that evidence of human-caused global warming is "unequivocal" -- so says the UN ICPP Report, released 2/2/07 in France, with a summary here, and the full text forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

The good news is that now we know. The fog is lifting! The issue is settled. There is no more controversy. The fight's over. Reason prevails.

But never underestimate the power of oil money. The "we" in "now we know" needs qualification. While there is no more controversy for honest people, resistance to the global "we" persists in ye olde USA. After the UN Report, members of US Congress were polled with this simple yes-or-no question. "Do you think it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems?" Only thirteen percent (that's 13%) of Republicans concede the fact and said yes. Funny about this poll is that the number of Congressional Republicans admitting to anthropogenic climate change, as compared to last year, is actually down. In April 2006, 26% of US Republicans answered with yes. In February 2007, 13% of US Republicans answered with yes.

Spin it to your heart's desire. But allow me to put this in perspective. Three factoids are uncontroversial no matter how we slice them.

First, climate change is bad for food productivity and biodiversity.

Second, climate change, in terms of CO2 emissions & ecological footprints, is disproportionally the fault of the USA.

Third, nothing is more repugnant than perpetrators in denial. This will earn the US a black mark in future history books.

Meanwhile the great American car commute goes on, and bullets and bombs are traded for barrels of oil. Welcome to the future.


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