28 June 2009
The Copenhagen Climate Conference report is now out. In it, the consensus opinion is that we must hold CO2 levels to 400 ppm, IF we are to stay below 2 degrees Celsius of warming. The current CO2 level is 385 ppm and rising at 2 ppm per year. You should read this report. It’s an excellent summary of the current knowledge.
The House of Representatives here in the U.S. passed the Waxman-Markey climate bill. It faces a huge hurdle in the Senate before becoming law.
IF it becomes law.
It barely passed the House, in spite of the dire straits we are now in.
You will see almost nothing in my previous posts about this legislation and for good reason. When it comes to climate change, I write about the science, and avoid the politics. What I can comment on is this. The science is overwhelming. It’s very clear that we are running out of time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Is the Waxman Markey approach the best policy??
I DON’T KNOW.
Your guess is as good as mine, and perhaps better! Converting science to policy is a very messy process.
I just returned from Portland in Oregon where I presented at a short course on Climate Change. The course was part of the 37th annual Conference on Broadcast Meteorology sponsored by the AMS. In my talk, I made the point that since those of us who do weather on TV are the only science person the average person sees each day, we should avoid the policy, and stick with explaining the science.
I’ve written before about the fact that many on air weather folks have been skeptical about the IPCC conclusions. I came away from Portland with a much different feel. I think that the pendulum has begun to swing big time. (At least among those of us who have a college level background in atmospheric science. Read my previous post for more info on why there was so much skepticism.)
I expected some intense questions from the audience, and really the questions were more in the vein of understanding the science better, instead of the usual claims that have long since been dismissed.
Without doubt, the policy IS important. I can highly recommend reading Joe Romm’s Climate Progress, and Only in it for the Gold by Micheal Tobis. They have an excellent discussion about the pros and cons.
Different views on how we solve the emissions problem are natural, and we should respect them. It should be intensely debated. The issue is one that will impact us and our descendants.
What I have little patience for is the absolutely silly, and even ignorant statements made during the debate by two elected officials. Those members of Congress who called Climate Change a hoax should be ashamed of themselves.
So lets be clear here. When Jim Inhofe (and others in the Senate and House) say climate change is the greatest hoax in history perpetrated on the American public, they are showing ignorance of basic science. This is nothing less than an embarrassment to the people of Oklahoma he represents.
I grew up in Oklahoma, and we are not ignorant. (We just talk with a funny twang!). Is it time for the people of Oklahoma to tell their senator to clean up his act, and quit making a fool of himself?
Talking with the scientists at the seminar last week, it was very clear, that since the last IPCC report in 2007, the science has shown that we have less time than we thought. The greenhouse gas levels are rising even more rapidly than the worst case scenario envisioned by the IPCC in 2007. Sea level is also rising more rapidly than predicted. You likely already know about the Arctic Ice.
Imagine the frustration of a solar physicist like Dr. Judith Lean of the Naval Research laboratory. She, and others like Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National labs have produced conclusive science that the sun is not to blame for the warming we have seen in the last 50 years. Make no mistake, this kind of research is very difficult and time consuming. Their science has been published and lauded in the top peer reviewed journals in the world. Yet, elected officials still stand up on the floor of the Senate, and House and proclaim silly statements like “It’s the sun stupid”.
Dr. Mark Serreze the director of the National Snow Ice Data Center was right when he called these kind of statements “Breathtaking Ignorance”.
Perhaps the best way to fix climate change is to elect representatives based on intelligence, not party.
So my opinion, pro or con, on Waxman Markey is not the subject matter of this post. Nor will it be in a future post. What to do about climate change is a policy issue, but the science should not be. I will stick with the science here, and on air. It’s fascinating, and also rather alarming. I still believe that if we can educate the world on the real science, the planet will collectively make the right decisions.
Am I naive??
Perhaps, but it’s not because I’m an Okie.