Liberals hindering GW fight
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
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