Climate Denial Is Not Affordable

While dirty energy continues to rake in record profits, the rest of us are going to be paying a higher and higher price for our governments’ inaction on climate change. Up here in Canada recently we’ve had the worst flooding on record in both Calgary and Toronto. And in Colorado the Black Forest wildfire has cost insurers $292.8 million and ruined a record 486 structures, making it the second-most costly fire in the state’s history. So what did you hear about addressing climate change being too expensive? Only fossil fools believe that.


colorado's expensive fires*


Icebergs, Ice Hockey, and Other News

It’s been an eventful weekend.  On Saturday, Chile experienced an earthquake that registered 8.8 on the Richter scale and left more than700 people dead, and the country’s second largest city without electricity and water. News of giant chunks of Antarctic ice floating towards Australia was also in the headlines the past few days. And, as the Olympics in Vancouver wrapped up, Canada won gold in the men’s hockey final against the U.S. in a nail-biter of a game – Go Canada!!

Here’s some discussion from the blogosphere on these, and other,  issues of interest:

  • NPR has an interesting discussion about how one’s response to climate change is dependent the world view one holds going into the discussion:

Over the past few months, polls show that fewer Americans say they believe humans are making the planet dangerously warmer, despite a raft of scientific reports that say otherwise.

This puzzles many climate scientists — but not some social scientists, whose research suggests that facts may not be as important as one’s beliefs. 

Click here for more on the NPR discussion, Belief in Climate Change Hinges on Worldview.

  • Senator Al Gore responded to anti-science climate skeptics in an op-ed piece in the New York Times on Saturday entitled We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change:

It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it.

Of course, we would still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil. And we would still trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy — the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century.

But what a burden would be lifted! We would no longer have to worry that our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands. We could instead celebrate the naysayers who had doggedly persisted in proving that every major National Academy of Sciences report on climate change had simply made a huge mistake.

Click here to read the entire column.

  • In relation to natural disasters and climate change, the bloggers at Make Wealth have a recent post on this subject that includes two graphs from the insurance company Munich Re which track the pattern of natural disasters around the world for the past 50 years.  As the graph below indicates, the increase in disasters closely tracks the rise in global temperatures, which rose most sharply in the 1990s and continued to rise, but more gradually, in the past decade.

    Great weather catastrophes 1950 – 2009. Munich Re Insurance Company

Click here to read the article Climate Change and Natural Disasters or here to go right to the Munich Re website.

  • In response the icebergs breaking off the Antarctic ice sheet and floating towards Australia, Andy Russell’s weather-related blog examines the general climate situation in the South Pole region, with great pictures and links to peer-reviewed articles.  Check it out the posting, Antarctic Climate Change – The Exception That Proves the Rule? here.
  • And, finally, a picture from yesterday’s gold medal hockey game. Click here to watch the gold medal moment on YouTube.

    Canadian men's hockey teams wins Olympic gold. (MATT SLOCUM / The Associated Press)

Would You Let Climate Science Skeptics Perform Brain Surgery On You?

Who among us, if told by 9 out of 10 neurosurgeons consulted that we had a malignant brain tumour, would go home and start surfing the internet trying to figure out how the experts (each with more than a decade of education and training in brain surgery)  might be wrong?  If we found a website where a dentist or a plumber offered “proof” with statistics that the odds of us actually having a tumour are very low, would we pay any attention to it?  Would we then agree to have that plumber or dentist actually perform the surgery?

Not likely!  So why is anyone paying attention to the non-qualified climate change denialists – backed by dubious “stink-tanks” – that proliferate on the internet and in the media these days? As Richard Somerville, a distinguished professor emeritus and research professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, recently said:

Science…does not work by unqualified people making claims on television or the Internet,…The first thing that the world needs to do if it is going to confront the challenge of climate change wisely is to learn about what science has discovered and accept it.”

Rather than focusing on the divisive scientific debate (and I’ll listen to the contrarians that say NASA is wrong when they can prove to me that they can send a person into space),  how about examining the risks?  We all buy insurance for our house or cars on the off-chance that something bad will happen.  When there’s a LOT of qualified people telling us that there is a VERY good chance that something VERY bad will happen, why wouldn’t we decrease the risk?  Here’s what the small “c” conservative newspaper “The Economist” says about it:

Although the benefits of averting that sort of catastrophe are incalculably large, the costs of doing so should not be enormous – as little as 1% of global output, if policy is well designed (see our special report).  This newspaper reckons that the world should fork out, rather as householders spend similar proportions of their income on insuring their homes against disaster.”

I’m reposting high school science teacher Greg Craven’s video where he sets aside the contentious debate over the science, and asks “what’s the worst that could happen”?