I wouldn't be doing my job as a good citizen, much less as your faithful blogger on all things slow love, if I didn't from time to time alert you to important posts from the global warming front. For those of you who have mentioned that this sort of thing is depressing, I agree. It is. I have trained myself not to start reading about climate change before bedtime. It gives me awful nightmares. But it is important to be aware of what is happening. So read this in the clear light of day. And it is important to know that there is hope. We can avert disaster, but we have to push for change. This post from one of my favorite climate science sites, Joe Romm's Climate Progress, contains an excellent explanation of positive feedback, as well as a sobering message from Ohio State University scientist Lonnie Thomson: "Global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization."


Anonymous said...

Amen, and you know Prince Charles has been interested in this for the last 20 years and has been put down for it. Yes Dominique, it is very important. Hugs, Joyce

Dominique said...

Yes, and as well the organics lines he has created is also wonderful--and was ahead of its time. Bravo to Prince Charles.

Vicky Brandt said...

I second Anonymous's amen. Thank you for peppering Slow Love Life with environmental concerns along with all your other delightful reflections; I love your monthly column at EDF, too, and Joe Romm's site is superb.

I do think, though, that our society places so much emphasis on science & technology that we forget there are other valid approaches to analyzing information -- such as the study of history. There was a terrific article in Harper's Magazine November 2009 by Steven Stoll called "The Cold We Caused." Basically, when the Black Death killed off a substantial portion of the human population, there was significant global _cooling_. Stoll discusses Ruddiman's model that humans have been affecting the climate for thousands of years, since the advent of agriculture, not just since the 18th century and the Industrial Revolution. I think that circumventing the detailed mathematical debates over current climate models can only help most people, who are likely not conversant in the sophisticated statistics involved in the high-dimensional data analyses.

I think we also ought to take some lessons from the Right, which has been very skilled at dominating public discourse. First, they rely heavily on visual imagery/manipulation. By comparison, most environmentalists I encounter have never even heard of the Pacific Gyre, one of the most visually arresting (and sickening) examples of the effects of our rapacious consumption. Second, the Right is very good at making abstract issues practical and immediate. Climate change is a little too theoretical for many people, and the seemingly small numbers (.3 degrees here and there) can be misleading, but I've yet to meet a staunch de-regulation proponent who doesn't recoil a bit when I ask how they'd feel if their neighbor simply dumped all their waste into their house. (Which is basically what we're doing on a global scale.) Third, the Right are very unified. Sometimes I wish that, just for the time being, all my favorite wildlife, ocean, earth, pet and plant protection societies would decide to band together and with one voice educate the public and pressure politicians for change. If everyone got behind reducing CO2 to 350 ppm, for example, it would take care of polar bears and forests and issues of third-world poverty, famine, drought, economic collapse.....We need to be connecting the dots, over and over again.

Perhaps you can lead the charge, Dominique?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bravo to Prince Charles, he does much more than he is ever given credit for. Thank you Dominique. Best, CW

Doreen said...

I second Vicky Brandt. Dominique conSider starting with a petition. Let's start connecting the people dots. There is power in numbers! This petition can be signed by many and disparate organizations, some only in the states and others global. It can become a means to pressure politicians and policies and regulations both here and abroad. With sufficient numbers and a little media and social networking it could be a very real and viable first step toward positive change.

c said...

I think it is well understood by your blog followers D, that environmental issues are of great importance to you (and a few of us too), so no need to apologize or explain why you post what you post.

And as one who is "not conversant in the sophisticated statistics involved in the high-dimensional data analyses." (no offense, really), my take is that our arrogance is what will eventually get us.

I agree, and believe, we can all do more, much more, to minimize the damage to our environment. We can all do a little bit, which eventually amounts to something. We can consume less, dispose of less garbage, we should shun chemically laden products and therefore pollute less, etc, etc. But to think we humans can stop cyclical climate changes is much too arrogant for me.

I am too awed by the beauty and power of Nature. Too conscious of forces beyond any human's control.

Sorry! I do my part, but I do not think "we" call the shots here.

The Architect said...

From a recent paper in the journal Energy & Environment:

"Abstract - Sensor measurement uncertainty has never been fully considered in prior appraisals of global average surface air temperatures. The estimated average +/- 0.2 C station error has been incorrectly assessed as random, and the systematic error from uncontrolled variables has been invariable neglected. The systematic error in measurements from three ideally sited and maintained temperature sensors are calculated herein. Combined with the +/- 0.2 C station error, a representative lower-limit uncertainty of +/- 0.46 C was found for any annual global surface air temperature anomaly. This +/- 0.46 C reveals that the global surface air temperature anomaly trend from 1880 to 2000 is statistically indistinguishable from 0 C, and represents a lower limit of calibration uncertainty for climate models and for any prospective physically justifiable proxy reconstruction of paleo-temperature. The rate and magnitude of 20th century warming are thus unknowable, and suggestions of an unprecedented trend in 20th century global air temperature are unsustainable."

Source: Energy and Environment, Vol. 21, No. 8, 2010

"Anthropogenic Global Warming" is nonsense. Worry about something real for a change.

Dominique said...

Sorry, Architect, but you are wrong. Your excerpt does nothing to explain relative changes year over year over a long period of time. There is nothing nonsensical about AGW, but if you would seriously like to learn more about it, I recommend you log into Climate Progress.

Vicky and Doreen: I've been thinking about starting a new blog around climate and pollution issues...

And to c, you are right. I think I will stop apologizing. I am oversensitive to people's negative remarks. OK, done with that. Re calling the shots; no, we don't. But our actions have consequences. We're well beyond cyclical climate changes. Forget about global warming for a moment. Just look at the levels of pollution we are causing--the plastic trash, the toxins in the air and in the stuff we have, etc. We have definitely had an impact on the planet.

Here's the thing about the power of Nature: Nature doesn't care if humans are here. Only we do. It is up to us to curtail the ways in which we are making Nature more inhospitable to us--ways that were started in innocence of their consequences, but that we now know are harmful.

Dominique said...

Re Boehmer-Christiansen denier journal:

c said...

something about being brought up in that era (i'm 57 years old) makes us want to always apologize when we are about to say something that MIGHT offend someone. I get it, I do the same thing.

I'm finally learning to NOT apologize for my beliefs, which of course I consider to be right, ;-) especially when it comes to an issue that is so central to all humans. And protecting our environment is one such issue.

I agree 100% with your statement about the power of Nature, and about the consequences of our behaviour - that's what I meant by our arrogance. We think we can do as we want, no consequences? Arrogant.

I remember George Carlin's routine about plastic. It was so clever, so funny, and also quite true. We are way too arrogant if we think we can kill the planet.

I agree: we are incredibly irresponsible in our collective behavior, and we would be better serve if we consumed less, destroyed fewer forests, weaned ourselves from fossil fuel use, and generally be more mindful of the legacy we are leaving future generations. As I posted before, I do my part, however little it might contribute to a better tomorrow, but I do what I can.

You have a voice that is heard by many more. Keep up the good work. Thank you for doing so.