Category: "Global Warming"
To: Nancy McFadden March, 6, 2015
Executive Secretary to Governor Brown
State Capital, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Ms. McFadden,
Perhaps it was not the right place and time at the joyful Steinberg Gala to talk briefly with you about Climate Change. But I had to take that opportunity because of the extreme severity and time-urgency of this subject.
I am attaching an old letterhead as an introduction. Please note the list of outstanding people. I used it when we developed grassroots pressure on swing Congresspersons in several states during President Reagan's nuclear arms escalation. Ever since I resigned my senior position at the CA Energy Commission Solar and Wind Energy Office, all of my work has been pro bono. I have devoted the last decade attempting to understand the implications of CC to the sustainability of our world. With my combination of environmental science and two decades of electronic engineering work, plus willingness to face the difficult reality of CC, I have come to grasp the enormity of what humanity is facing with the rapid, unprecedented impacts of CC.
Briefly, the nature of our society is such that CC turned into a political issue and, in addition, the majority of scientists involved in CC research are not willing to endanger their positions by stating clearly and forcefully the grave nature of CC. Therefore, even supporters of the fight against this danger are not fully aware how little time is left to make any serious impact on the progress of CC. More and more evidence indicates that humanity probably lacks the ability to stop or significantly slow CC. We have already emitted so many billion tons of greenhouse gases that it is no longer possible to stop at the so called "safe" two degrees C rise in global average temperatures. We are now on our way toward four degrees and beyond. These values are not compatible with the life of civil society according to several panels of experts.
California has been a leader in what meager efforts have been made worldwide to cut GHG. But as much as we have done and plan to do, it is not enough to make any significant impact on global CC. That is the reason I urged you to put all possible emphasis and urgency on mitigating the bad consequences that are sure to come. The state is facing an enormous effort to protect as many people as possible from the certainty of sea level rise and increasing aridity of our state.
You said that the governor is advocating such mitigation to all state agencies but that it is a slow process. The reality is that it takes many years to design and install mitigation measures on a state-wide scale. For example, we probably will need many desalination plants near major cities. These take a long time and large power plants to build and run. We cannot wait until the danger is facing us. By then, the competition for resources and specialized materials will be global and millions of our citizens could well be facing danger to their very lives.
I suggest that California create an Office of Climate Mitigation, reporting to the Governor, and select the best people you can get to start the process ASAP. Even if we start very soon, it will be a long and extremely hard struggle.
Dr. of Environmental Science & Engineering
B.S., M. S. Electrical Engineering
Evan Hughes, Ph.D. (Physics)
30 Rondo Way
Menlo Park, CA
Prev.Mgr.CA Energy Comm.(1975-78), and EPRI (1978-2003)
Ten years ago David Gergen, a renowned public servant, warned us (below) about the serious danger of global warming. All the accumulated effort to curtail GW since then amounts to nothing of any significance! Global greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly growing and no US or international actions have been taken that even minutely have reduced the severe and steadily worsening impacts of our climate.
I am focusing on the US because we are the key: we generated the most cumulative greenhouse gases to date, some 35 to 40%, and we are in the best economic position to reduce GHG here and globally. But we want our comfortable lives, use all the energy we want, and hope that minor measures will make serious impacts.
Nonsense. It can not be done. GW has immense disruptive impact on the global climate and immense, painful measures are necessary to reduce meaningfully future impacts of GW.
The main problem is not that US Republican leaders are stone walling any effort: it is that the liberals, people who already say GW is here and serious, are not actually believing it.
If they believed the seriousness that they state, why are they are not acting on it in the depth and scale required?
Almost no one with scientific knowledge, of public stature, from scientists, to politicians, to religious and environmental leaders, is willing to risk their comfortable positions and raise such a public outcry that it will finally reach the American people and global leaders too.
Almost every article on GW is sugar coated, if we just do this or that all will be well. Look how meekly they present the danger of GW:
1. "Climate change is occurring, is very likely (my emphasis) caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities, and poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems. Each additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted commits us to further change and greater risk."
-The national Research Council Committee on America's climatic Choices, in its fifth and FINAL report to the United States Congress on Climate Change."
This statement is so weak that most Congress members on the sideline will not be motivated to act. That committee could not even eliminate: "very likely". Do these committee members still have doubts about GW? Just eliminate very likely and see how different the impact is.
2. National Geographic had a major article about the damage to the oceans recently (The Acid Sea, April 2011). I read it with hope. In the past National Geographic warned us clearly and openly about the danger of GW. This article was so weak; you could not sense real urgency in it. The words were too mild to capture our attention. NG leadership is reducing their courage and thinks now more about public acceptance and readership than the future of humankind.
I know it is hard to grasp deeply, personally, the profound danger of GW. It has taken me several painful years of personal struggle to overcome my resistance. We must overcome our fears of personal discomfort. I have talked to GW scientists, environmental leaders, key heads of governmental environmental departments, key staff members in Congress, but none were willing to take any risk to fight more effectively against GW.
We do not have real leaders to fight GW. The inability of liberal leaders from scientists, religious and political leaders, business persons, to environmentalists to overcome their own personal fear for their professional status, loss of face or livelihood, hinders our ability to fight GW effectively.
WARMING TO THE TASK
E D I T O R I A L
By DAVID GERGEN • EDITOR AT LARGE
TO BE RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS, WE MUST REDUCE THE FUMES AND GASES OVERHEATING OUR PLANET.
Do you remember all those years when scientists argued that smoking would kill us but the doubters insisted that we didn't know for sure? That the evidence was inconclusive, the science uncertain? That the antismoking lobby was out to destroy our way of life and the government should stay out of the way? Lots of Americans bought that malarkey, and over three decades, some 10 million smokers went to early graves.
There are eerie parallels today, as scientists in one wave after another try to awaken us to the growing threat of global warming. The latest was a panel from the National Academy of Sciences, enlisted by the Bush administration, to tell us that the Earth's atmosphere is definitely warming and that the problem is largely man‑made. The clear message is that we should get moving to protect ourselves. The president of the National Academy, Bruce Alberts, added this key point in a preamble to the panel's report: "Science never has all the answers. But science does provide us with the best available guide to the future, and it is critical that our nation and the world base important policies on the best judgments that science can provide concerning the future consequences of present actions."
Paralysis by analysis. Just as on smoking, voices now come from many quarters insisting that the science about global warming is incomplete, that it's OK to keep pouring fumes into the air until we know for sure. This is a dangerous game: By the time 100 percent of the evidence is in, it maybe too late. With the risks obvious and growing, a prudent people would take out an insurance policy now.
Fortunately, the Bush administration is starting to pay attention. But it's obvious that a majority of the president's advisers still don't take global warming seriously. Instead of a plan of action, they continue to press for more research‑a classic case of "paralysis by analysis." The president does have good arguments on his side. He explained to European leaders last week that the Kyoto protocol they favor cannot serve as the international framework for environmental action. Its goals and timetables for reducing U.S. greenhouse emissions? percent below 1990 levels by 2012 are indeed "unrealistic"; the U.S. emissions are currently running some 12 percent above those 1990 levels. To ratchet down so far and so quickly would dampen an economy already too weak.
But we should listen closely to the Europeans and their environmental allies. They correctly say that by trying to blow up the Kyoto protocol and start all over again the United States will encourage lengthy, unacceptable delays in anyone's doing anything. To paraphrase from another context, we should amend Kyoto, not end it.
Other nations are also right to look to the United States for leadership. It cannot be said too often that WE ARE THE WORLD'S WORST POLLUTER. We have less than 5 percent of the world's population and produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide. EMISSIONS FROM OUR POWER PLANTS ALONE EXCEED THE TOTAL EMISSIONS OF 146 OTHER NATIONS COMBINED, WHICH REPRESENT 75 PERCENT OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION. It is said in defense that our proportion of emissions is roughly equal to our proportion of the world's economy. True, but nations like Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom produce fewer emissions than their economic share. We just aren't as energy‑efficient as we should be.
To serve as responsible stewards of the planet, we must press forward on deeper atmospheric and oceanic research. But research alone is inadequate. If the administration won't take the legislative initiative, Congress should step into the breach to begin fashioning conservation measures. A bill by Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, which would offer financial incentives for private industry, is a promising start. Many see that the country is getting ready to build lots of new power plants to meet our energy needs. If we are ever going to protect the atmosphere, it is crucial that those new plants be environmentally sound.
Meanwhile, the administration must aggressively put ideas on the table that bring Europeans, Japanese, and others into negotiations for a follow‑on treaty to Kyoto. The world urgently needs a commitment from all governments to reduce emissions. Relying upon voluntary restraints in a free market is not an answer; it is an excuse.
We must be serious about these fumes pouring into the air.
Anyone who has watched a parent die from smoking will understand.
U.S.NEWS & WORLD REPORT, JUNE 25, 2001
Dr. Joseph Romm, on his widely popular and educational blog Climate Progress questioned today many of Bill Gates views on energy and global warming. With all due respect to Dr. Romm, I think he is not seeing the full meaning of Bill Gates points. Here are some of the comments I wrote today on his blog:
Listen to Bill Gates!
I have been an environmental scientist for several decades and made significant contributions to the commercialization of wind energy when I was the manager of the solar office and the wind energy program for the California Energy Commission. I tried to look at reality and not mislead myself by wishful thinking. Bill Gates is a wise man and we must listen to him; he has a lot of logical things to say we do not wish to listen to because they are against our dreams. But facts are facts, even if we ignore them.
Many of the points Bill Gates discussed are valid:
First, he did not say efficiency is useless, but that it is limited. I have been advocating energy efficiency and conservation strongly for half a century. Almost no progress was achieved to date. It is not sexy like PV and people do not want to use conservation. Only strict national mandatory laws stronger than California may make a difference. It is not that the efficiency and conservation are not important, they are critically desirable and important, it is the difficulty in spreading them fast and widely to make a difference.
Read: Conservation can cut 30 times more CO2 per dollar, on my blog.
Bill Gates is correct on PV. First he is correct that unless the technology can be widely used in China and India it is essentially useless. PV is too expensive by a significant factor to be use on a large scale in these critical countries. No matter how much we cut GHG these two countries will continue to pass us with GHG by increasing amounts. They are the key to cutting GHG!
The PV global industry is in the order of $20 billion a year! This is a huge industry, not in infancy with starting pain. Why does it need more government support? Only to maintain and increase the profit of the PV industry. The cost of the panels went down a little, but it is not passing on to the consumer. The system price has to drop by ten to one according to Dr. Steven Chu to be significant. Not this expensive PV technology! Panels are less than 35% of system cost!
Without government support PV would have died a long time ago, as it should since it has made less than negligible contribution to reducing GHG. Also, too many supporters are dreaming about a world covered with PV panels and do not do other, more important things such as conservation and efficiency. Current PV technology inherently can't do it. Environmentalists often give Germany as a champion on PV we should emulate. Wrong! Germany spent over $70 B on PV by last year and got less than one half a percent of its electricity from that huge investment. At the same time wind produce 7% of their electricity, but worst of all, Germany has been increasing their dependence on coal power by considerably larger percentage that all the green technologies combined. Let's look at facts as they are, rather as we wish them to be.
Using this money for conservation and efficiency would have reduced GHG by 20 times or more.
The basis fact is that flat panel silicon technology demands very highly refined silicon which demands a lot of electricity to refined which is produced by coal power plants in Germany and China. We have also the several years of energy payback to consider.
It will take too long to demonstrate all the sensible points Bill Gates made. Let's listen to him and review carefully what we are proposing.
BTW, yes, nuclear power is more promising BECAUSE little innovations and improvement were made to date. There are so many new improvements that could be introduced. Without nuclear our green technologies are too erratic and even the promising wind energy may be degraded since future weather patterns would be changing and be less predictable with increasing GW.
Read www.ginosaronglobalwarming.org to understand why PV is not any part of the answer with current technology. R&D is critical to find new more practical solar technologies of converting sun energy to electricity.
There are several suggested plans to reduce energy consumption of our U.S. housing stock. All these weatherization plans are appealing and useful, but ineffective when we want to slow down global warming. They are too small in number to make any impact. We do not have decades to play with these ideas and wait for impact.
To make impact by conservation, efficiency, weatherization, any of these plans must be on a mass scale all across the country and most important- MANDATORY.
We will be employing a lot of construction workers and low skill workers too. Very rapid way of building up the economy and helping the millions of unemployed.
There are some 105 million residential units in the US, from private homes to mobile homes. Most are built with minimal insulation and consume a lot of needless heating and cooling power.
It is time to do the following:
1. Make a national law that all new construction must satisfy standards tailored to specific climatic regions. See California building standards example. Good but not stringent enough for the nation under GW situation.
2. All housing units at sale or modification must be undated for some conservation standards, depending on locations.
3. Dictating Conservation/weatherization of all existing housing stock when practical and satisfy some techno-economic conditions.
All owners partially compensated, i.e. getting government grants of some percentage between 25% to 50%/ get low interest, or no interest loans, spread the cost over the life of the building.
All of these ideas are open to discussion and finalization as more details are available. However, the final plans must be mandatory, not optional.
Most proposed cuts of Greenhouse Gases, GHG, proposed in Congress and internationally, are based on Intergovernmetal Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, AR4. However, we can not rely on the AR4 to set limits to GHG emissions since it was very constrained politically, ignored potential catastrophic events - tipping points- and some of its negative predictions were already exceeded. We already have more relevant data and more insight.
A. The starting point for most regulatory activities against global warming are based on the 2007, IPCC-AR4 findings and recommendations. We owe thanks to IPCC and especially the many excellent scientists that worked with great dedication to discover the data and develop this information for the IPCC to analyze. (The IPCC did not develop original climate information, but evaluated data developed by others.) Both the original scientists and the scientists at IPCC did a good job alerting us to the danger of GW. Just reading carefully the details of AR4-SPM - should wake us up to realize the severity of coming impacts of GW. However, now the situation seems even graver than depicted in AR4.
During 2009, some three years after the cutoff date of inputs, we need to rethink our reliance on AR4 because the recommendations were:
Soften down severely by politics,
Did not include some relevant data,
Disagreed by scientists inside IPCC,
Ignored potential catastrophic events,
Some climatic projections have been already exceeded.
And most important - we have more information and insight now.
Some of the limitations of AR4:
1. The latest data for AR4 was 2006, some much earlier.
2. China data was before 2001, before the latest explosion of growth and its vast energy use.
3. AR4 modeling did not include some known negative climatic events. For example: "Note: CO2 emissions in most models do not include emissions from decay of above ground biomass that remains after logging and deforestation, and from peat fires and drained peat soils." AR4 SMP p21
Above decays can be significant contributors to GHG. Deforestation emits 20% of GHG and is right behind the emissions of China and US.
4. AR4 did not cover potential catastrophic climatic events of mass release of stored GHG. They should not be ignored.
5. AR4 was a politically controlled document and was soften by several governments, including the previous US administration, China and Saudia. Several IPCC scientists fought hard against the constrained climatic predictions. Compromises forced.
6. Some of the AR4 negative predictions have already been greatly exceeded*. That means that in a very brief time it is already obvious that AR4 underestimated some noticeable negative impacts of GHG. And if these short term predictions are already in error so quickly, some longer term impacts may be underestimated even more severely. Longer term predictions, by their nature, have wider range of possibilities.
7. AR4 used scientific information that was well researched, peer reviewed and dismissed unproven, although logical issues such as catastrophic events.
The IPCC was: "too little, and too late."
It is the nature of scientists to seek verifiable data, scrutinize it to understand, seek independent confirmation, and submit to peer review. This is admirable but not possible and even dangerous when dealing with GW. We do not have the ability or the time to experiment. We can not draw on previous experience.
Science failed humanity intolerably regarding global warming.
The desire for peer respect, and sometimes fear of being considered "An Advocate" slowed down considerably alerting decision makers to the magnitude and urgency of GW. This is continuing even now. Also, no scientist wants to be considered "an alarmist" either. So most save themselves from embaresssment rather than alert us to the danger.
B. Note item 6 above. Here is a clear example of AR4 mistaken prediction: Rapid contraction of North Pole (NP) ice. The NP minimal ice coverage shrunk from 3.01 Million square miles in 1980, to 1.81 M sq. miles, in 2008, a 42% drop, decades ahead of AR4 projection.
To visualize the significance of this let's look at the dimensions involved: The minimal ice coverage of the NP in 1980 was 3.01 million square miles, nearly identical to the area of the contiguous US - 3.1 million square miles. The minimal NP ice coverage shrunk to 1.81 million square miles by 2008. Picture it, the ice coverage that disappeared is almost half the size of theUnited States!
That means that during some of the summer, a reflective surface almost half the size of the US is now blue sea that absorbs sunlight, while reviously it reflected most sunlight energy back into space.
This ice-free zone is now in a natural positive feedback mode, self-amplifying the ice shrinkage. More sun energy absorption by the blue ocean increases the region's temperatures and melts more ice, and the melting continues even without any increase in GHG.
Please pay attention to the date: January 2009. Our National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists (NOAA) wrote this report during President Bush administration. This is significant since you may assume that some political pressure was put on them to tone it down. However, as you read it you are likely to see clarity and openness, rather than political constrains. If anything, it is a conservative assessment. Therefore, even skeptics should be willing, I hope, to open their eyes to the gravity of the situation.
This report states in simple language the reality of global warming impact on the U.S. However, it is similar to the coming impacts on the rest of the world. Without understanding what in this report your understanding of the essential elements of global warming could be superficial.
This is 5 pages Executive Summary. I urge you to study it since it says what we normally do not accept and mostly unable to respond to intellectually and especially emotionally. It is too difficult to acknowledge that our current environment would change so much in such a short time.
NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program
The lead US agency on Global Warming.
Draft final Report. January 2009
Observations show that warming of the climate system is now unequivocal. The global warming observed over the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. These emissions come primarily from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), with additional major contributions from the clearing of forests and agricultural activities.
Warming over this century is projected to be considerably greater than over the last century. The global average temperature since 1900 has risen by about 1.5°F. By 2100, it is projected to rise another 2 to 10°F. Temperatures in the United States have risen by a comparable amount and are very likely to rise more than the global average over this century. Several factors will determine future temperature increases. Increases at the lower end of this range are more likely if global heat-trapping gas emissions are cut substantially, and at the upper end if emissions continue to rise at or near current rates. Other important factors that affect the range are related to the strength of the response of the climate system to human influences. Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide would reduce warming over this century and beyond. Reducing emissions of some shorter-lived greenhouse gases, such as methane, and some types of particles, such as soot, would begin to reduce warming within decades. Volcanic eruptions or other natural variations could temporarily mask human-induced warming, but these effects would be short-lived.
Climate-related changes already have been observed globally and in the United States. These include increases in air and water temperatures, reduced frost days, increased frequency and intensity of heavy downpours, a rise in sea level, and reduced snow cover, glaciers, and sea ice. A longer ice-free period on lakes and rivers, lengthening of the growing season, and increased water vapor in the atmosphere has also been observed. These changes are expected to increase and will impact human health, water supply, agriculture, coastal areas, and many other aspects of society and the natural environment. Some changes are likely for the United States and surrounding coastal waters including more intense hurricanes and related increases in wind, rain, and storm surges (but not necessarily an increase in the number of storms that make landfall), as well as drier conditions in the Southwest and Caribbean.
This Report synthesizes information from a wide variety of scientific assessments (see page 7) and recently published research to summarize what is known about the observed and projected consequences of climate change on the United States. It combines analysis of impacts on various sectors such as energy, water, and transportation at the national level with an assessment of key impacts on specific regions of the United States. For example, sea-level rise will increase risks of erosion and flooding for coastal communities, especially in the Southeast and parts of Alaska. Reduced snowpack will alter the timing and amount of water supplies, exacerbating water shortages in the West.
Society and ecosystems today are generally adapted to recent climate. For this reason, the projected rapid rate and large amount of climate change over this century will challenge the ability of society and natural systems to adjust. For example, it is difficult and expensive to alter or replace long-lived infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, airports, reservoirs, and ports, in response to continuous and/ or abrupt climate change. Impacts are expected to become increasingly severe for more people and places as the amount of warming increases. And some of the impacts of climate change will be irreversible, such as species extinctions and coastal land lost to rising seas.
Unanticipated impacts of climate change have already occurred and more are likely in the future. These future impacts might stem from unforeseen changes in the climate system, such as major alterations in oceans, ice, or storms; and unpredicted consequences of ecological changes, such as massive dislocations of species or pest outbreaks. Unexpected social or economic changes, including major shifts in wealth, technology, or societal priorities would affect our ability to respond to climate change. Both anticipated and unanticipated impacts become more likely with increased warming. Projections of future climate change come from careful analyses of outputs from global climate models run on the world's most advanced computers.
The model simulations analyzed in this Report used plausible scenarios of human activity that lead generally to further increases in heat-trapping emissions. None of the scenarios used in this Report assume any policies explicitly designed to address climate change. However, the level of emissions varies from one scenario to the next because of differences in population, economic activity, and energy technologies. Scenarios cover a range of emissions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that lower emissions result in less climate change and thus reduced impacts over this century.
Under all scenarios considered in this Report, however, relatively large and sustained changes in many aspects of climate are projected by the middle of this century, with even larger changes by the end of this century under higher emission scenarios. In projecting future conditions, there is always some level of uncertainty. For example, there is a high degree of confidence in projections of future temperature increases that are greatest nearer the poles and in the middle of continents. For precipitation, there is high confidence in continued increases in the Arctic and sub-Arctic (including Alaska) and decreases in the tropical regions, but the precise location of the transition zone between these is less certain. On smaller time and space scales, natural climate variations can be relatively large and can temporarily mask the progressive nature of global climate change. However, the science of making skillful projections at smaller scales has progressed considerably, allowing useful information to be drawn from regional climate studies such as those highlighted in this Report.
This Report focuses on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on the United States. However, a discussion of these issues would be incomplete without mentioning some of the actions society can take to respond to the climate challenge. The first major category of action is "mitigation," or options for reducing heat-trapping emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and halocarbons. With respect to carbon dioxide, mitigation options include improving energy efficiency, using energy sources that don't produce carbon dioxide or produce less of it, capturing and storing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use, and so on. While mitigation is not directly addressed in this Report, it is a critical component of a comprehensive strategy to address climate change. Mitigation options have been the subject of previous assessments and are being actively considered in current research (see page 8).
The second category is "adaptation," which refers to changes made to better respond to present or future climate and other environmental conditions. Mitigation and adaptation are both essential parts of a climate change response strategy. Effective mitigation measures reduce the need for adaptation. No matter how aggressively heat-trapping emissions are reduced, the world will still experience some continued climate change and resulting impacts. This is true for several reasons. First, because some of these gases are long-lived, they lead to elevated levels of atmospheric heat-trapping gases for hundreds of years. Second, Earth's vast oceans have absorbed much of the heat added to the climate system due to the increase in heat-trapping gases, and they will retain the heat and sustain global warming for many decades, even after human-induced emissions are substantially reduced. And third, the factors that determine emissions, such as energy-supply systems, cannot be changed overnight. Consequently, there also is a need for adaptation.
Adaptation involves deliberately adjusting to observed or anticipated changes to avoid or reduce detrimental impacts or to take advantage of beneficial ones. For example, a farmer might switch to growing a different crop variety better suited to warmer or drier conditions. A company might relocate key business centers away from coastal areas vulnerable to sea-level rise and hurricanes. A community might alter its zoning and building codes to place fewer structures in harm's way and make buildings less vulnerable to damage from floods, fires, and other extreme events. Some adaptation options that are currently being pursued in various regions and sectors are identified in this Report. However, it is clear that there are limits to how much adaptation can achieve.
Humans have adapted to changing conditions in the past. What will make adaptations particularly challenging in the future is that society won't be adapting to a new steady state but rather to a moving target. Climate will be continually changing, moving outside the range to which society is adapted, at a relatively rapid rate; the precise amounts and timing of these changes will not be known with certainty.
In an increasingly interdependent world, U.S. vulnerability to climate change is linked to the fates of other nations. For example, conflicts or mass migrations of people resulting from resource limits, health, or environmental stresses in other parts of the world could threaten national security. It is thus difficult to fully evaluate the impacts of climate change on the United States without considering the consequences of climate change elsewhere. However, such analysis is beyond the scope of this Report.
Finally, this Assessment identifies a number of areas in which inadequate information or understanding hampers our ability to estimate likely future climate change and its impacts. For example, our knowledge of changes in tornadoes, hail, and ice storms is quite limited, making it difficult to know if and how such events have changed as climate has warmed, and how they might change in the future. Research on ecological responses to climate change also is limited, as is our understanding of social responses. The section Recommendations for Future Work at the end of this Report identifies some of the most important gaps in knowledge and offers some thoughts on how to address those gaps. Results from such efforts would inform future assessments that continue building our understanding of humanity's impacts on climate, and climate's impacts on us.
1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced. There is no question that global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.
2. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow. Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in temperature, sea level, and heavy downpours, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow larger.
3. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase. Climate changes are already affecting water, energy, transportation, agriculture, ecosystems, and health. These impacts are different from region to region and will grow under projected climate change.
4. Climate change will stress water resources. Water is an issue in every region, but the nature of the potential impacts varies. Drought, related to reduced precipitation and increases in evapotranspiration, is an important issue in many regions, especially in the West. Floods and water quality problems are likely to be amplified by climate change in most regions. Declines in mountain snowpack are important in the Northwest, Southwest, and Alaska where snowpack provides vital natural water storage.
5. Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged. Agriculture is considered one of the sectors most able to adapt to climate change. However, increased heat, pests, diseases, and weather extremes will pose adaptation challenges for crop and livestock production.
6. Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise and storm surge. Sea-level rise and storm surge place many U.S. coastal regions at increasing risk of erosion and flooding, especially along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Pacific Islands, and parts of Alaska. Energy and transportation infrastructure in coastal cities is very likely to be adversely affected.
7. Threats to human health will increase. Health impacts of climate change are related to heat stress, water-borne diseases, reduced air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents. Robust public health infrastructure can reduce the potential for negative impacts.
8. Climate change will interact with many social and environmental stresses. Climate change will combine with pollution, population growth, overuse of resources, urbanization, and other social, economic, and environmental stresses to create larger impacts than any one of these alone.
9. Rapid, irreversible, and unanticipated changes are likely as a result of crossing key thresholds. Some aspects of climate change and its impacts are likely to be unanticipated as complex systems respond to ongoing changes in unforeseen ways. Such changes have already been observed. Some changes in climate and associated ecological responses are likely to be rapid and irreversible as tipping points are reached.
10. Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today. The amount and rate of future climate change depends primarily on current and future human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases and airborne particles. Responses involve reducing emissions to limit future warming, and adapting to the changes that are unavoidable. Adaptation examples include water conservation and modified landuse planning in areas with high flood and fire risks.
The total draft report is at:
Too often when we try to solve serious problems we express our opinions, we do not discuss the issues.
I often observed "discussion" between educated, intelligent, professionals that in reality were just opinion sharing.
When we are working as a team to solve a problem seldom are questions asked of the underling reasons or facts for the opinions expressed. There is no interchange of ideas, just expression of opinions. Almost every one try to show how smart he is or how much he/she knows.
These opinions are not been challenged by a back and forth discussion, nor by questions of sources, validity, or any thing else that may separate valid facts from just beliefs or personal opinions. I am more aware of this American habit since I was university trained to find and counteract this habit and also spent a number of very rewarding years countering narrow business thinking of this nature.
This American habit of not challenging opinions leads us astray much of the time. In the past when we were extremely wealthy country, with no serious national debt, and no critical issues were threatening us, waste and mistakes were not too critical as now. However, in the case of global warming we can't afford to base our actions on opinions. Not only that, too often these erroneous opinions are very popular and we follow them blindly.
Just look at the following popular illusions: Wind turbines kill lots of birds (half a billion birds are killed by buildings and cars annually in the US); "clean coal" (the dirtiest fuel and CCS is a future promise); solar energy is inexpensive (very expensive - but others pay for it, so it is not my problem); put wind turbines on top of buildings (blades fall on people);corn-ethanol is green (it has a larger CO2 footprint than gasoline).
[Read elsewhere on this web answers to the above misconceptions].
Why do we behave in this mistaken way? Because we consider it impolite to question the opinion of others.
"You don't trust me?" "You think I am not smart enough to distinguish between facts or fictions?" "I would not question you, so do not question me."
These are just some of the unexpressed thoughts and feelings guiding the so-called "discussion" in most cases.
This is especially noticeable if there is a chain of command such as in a business or a government agency. You would not dare question the rationale, the reasons people above you expresses. The US military is a good example: follow your orders and do no ask questions. In the battlefield most of the time you must follow orders, but in the planning stages and in non-combat situation you need to think before you act. Only recently the US military started to develop counter-thinking groups of officers that are not only allowed to challenge the conventional wisdom but their duty is to seek loopholes, mistakes, errors and find better ways of developing solutions to a specific military situation.
In my decades in business, government and even voluntary organizations I rarely observed, or heard any one else observe, a willingness to question direction from above, or challenge popular opinions.
Our inability to open ourselves to new ways of thinking, our fear of being exposed as not as smart or as capable as we think we should be, deteriorate our national ability and organizational ability to solve many of our problems, from poverty to military strategy to better building construction.
Most of the time we are more concerned about how we are perceived than how to improve the operation we are hired to do.
We educate our youngsters not for independent thinking, not for courage and not for determination, but to be fearful of ridicule. Just look at a university setting. Rarely will a student ask questions, challenge the views of others. Privately they will tell you, I do you want the professor to think that I cannot understand him. I do not want other students to think that I am dumb.
Knowledge, reality, are not important. Face-saving is.
Our worry how people perceive us is our Achilles heal.
We must reduce our need for face-saving, concerned for our image. We must challenge ourselves to face reality. We should challenge our elected officials to face the reality of global warming. We must question the conventional wisdom that if it is green energy it is good. No. Some of the "green" paths offered to us are not good for the country. Do learn, analyze, question, find facts, and act on this new knowledge.
We would not progress much as a nation, we would not be able to fight global warming effectively if we continue to be more concerned about our individual image instead of the result of our effort against global warming.
My brief free-style selective notes of Dr. Holdren presentation from the Web video of the MIT Energy conference 4/13/09, (All dimensions are metric)
Present, Congressman Ed Markey, Chair of House select Comm. On Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Dr. Holdren comments:
All negative impacts of GW are rising at or above the rates predicted by IPCC
Tipping points could occur rather sooner than later
Increase rise in desertification, more intense fires and timber loss
Increase ocean temperature
Business as usual: 2degrees C rise by 2050 and 3 C degrees by 2100
Arctic ice disappears faster than expected.
One to 2 meter rise in sea level in a century
Permafrost degradation increasing
More acidification of the oceans
GHG 515 ppm by 2065
We have three avenues:
1. Mitigation, reduce GHG,
3. Suffering, when the two above fail
There is no possible way that we can mitigate GW. We have to adapt, GW is here, now.
Adaptation becomes more difficult and costly with time
If we stabilize GHG at 500 ppm there is a 50% chance that we may stay below 3 degrees rise, and unlikely to avoid unknown critical events
At 450 ppm, we have a 50% chance of staying below 2 C degrees. A much more prudent approach but not guaranteed.
We need for US and other industrial countries to level off GHG by 2015 and reduce to 80% BELOW 2000 levels by 2050
To be below 450 ppm CO2 equivalent the world need to reduce its release by some 7 to 9 billion tonnes below current levels. It is a reduction of 20-25 % of current emission level.
Examples how to reduce one billion tonnes:
1. Two Billion cars fleet at 60 mpg
2. CCS on 800 One GW size coal power plants
3. 700 new wind farms with one million, 1 MW wind machines each
4. 2000 one MW photovoltaic stations
5. Deforestation cut by one half
If By 2030 we will be still in business as usual mode, all the more economical approaches to reduce GHG will be gone.
First - Improve efficiency- the fruits on the ground, After that cost rise. All other avenues are more costly to do.
1. First remove barriers to conservation
2. Incentives to overcome resistance
Cap & Trade
3. Supporting R&D by $150 billions over 10 years for energy and environment
Q & A of Dr. Holdren:
Congressman Markey Q to Holdren:
We should do it similar to President Kennedy and The Moon mission.
In 1961 I was a freshmen at MIT and remember the period.
This is a more difficult effort, more than Apollo, more than Manhattan project. More complex and vast technology.
From 1970 to 2005 we cut our energy use per GDP by half
Must have CCS - many think it is sure to work - we must have low leak rate and capacity for immense amount of CO2.
We need cheaper PV cells, cheap as paint.
Nuclear energy should be used.
Fusion is always 40 years away.
There is a very strong desire to "convert" deniers of global warming to supporters. Many believe that our political problems is that not enough people are against GW. I do not beleive so.
I firmly beleive that it is a waste of time and energy to attempt to influece deniers to become supporters, and that besides giving momentary personal satisfaction by this effort, it chieves nothing.
Scientific studies shows that people basically remain in their own comfort zones and do not change. In the case of GW it is quite understandable that many people ignore the accumulated scientific facts since the danger to our globe is high and it is easier to deny this very harsh reality. Most are not “bad” people, they are either fearful or unable to grasp the danger.
Even if they respond positively to your “education,” most drift back to their past position.
This was also proven in extensive field work on liberal issues. I spent nine years developing national grassroots pressure on Congress to reduce nuclear weapons. My staff and I spent thousands of hours talking to all kind of people. Only people who already were liberals and leaning in our direction, listened.
They listened but did not act, since most of the time knowledge does not lead to action.
The essential problem we are facing nationally is that despite the fact that millions of liberal people, including true blue environmentalists, are grasping that GW is dangerous to the global climate, they are doing nothing effective to impact the situation. They may feel good by reducing their energy use, they may talk/read a lot about the subject, they may be even active members of liberal/environmental organizations, but that has an insignificant impact on GW!
These good people do not create any noticeable pressure on their members of Congress, or support them when needed, and only Congress can make a national difference. Everything else is self-pleasing window dressing. The occasional preformatted emails some send are useless too.
So, I suggest that the time we spent should be directed to move people already with us to create pressure on their three Congress members.
To do it effectively is not simple, nor easy, but without effective grassroots pressure what Congress does on GW will be marginal at best.