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Home > Politics
Global Warming Denial
by Bob Powell, 4/6/15
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Submitted to the Colorado Springs Independent 4/6/15. This is much longer than the specified 300 words. They did not print it, but here it is:

Summary:
What's called "common sense" is making it unsafe for life on earth.

At current emissions rates, CO2 is released into the atmosphere nearly twice as fast as it’s removed. Our "atmospheric bathtub" is filling with CO2. We must stop and reverse this because, at current CO2 levels, more energy is absorbed from the sun than is emitted back into space. 

That's why the planet is warming and regional climates are changing! To prevent further warming we must cut CO2 emissions at least in half, not just halt increases.

Despite flawed "common sense" thinking used by global warming deniers, global warming is an existential threat to life on earth. Billions will die, more species extinct. The physics of the system tells us that waiting for "direct, incontrovertible" proof sufficient to convince deniers is not an option.

Those who deny this reality are an existential threat to life on earth. If aliens were doing this to the planet, we'd be out to kill every damn one of them. Sounds harsh, but it's true.

They are making a "death bet" as described in The Death of Capitalism by Ian Welsh, 1/25/16. They bet they would be dead before the worst results of climate change happened.

I describe the physics of the system at Global Warming: The Carbon Bathtub.

 

Global Warming Denial

John Wark is certain that "climate science is questionable because the climate industry has been dishonest." ("Not so hot," Colorado Springs Independent Letters, 4/1/15)

He states the "climate industry" is "big business" just like the "military-industrial complex, Big Pharma, GMO food" industries. Funny, the fossil fuel industry didn't make the list.

There's no "climate industry," much less one that makes even a tiny fraction of the profits the big five oil corporations made in 2013: $93 billion with $2.4 billion/yr of U.S. tax breaks. Why? There’s little, if any, profit in working for the common good.

Global warming deniers apply "common sense" to dynamically complex problems; it doesn't apply because humans have pervasive cognitive reasoning limitations. It makes issues like global warming incredibly easy to obfuscate.

John Sterman, Director of MIT's System Dynamics Group, has found MIT graduate students don't understand a system as simple as a bathtub. See "The Carbon Bathtub," National Geographic, Dec 2009 (tinyurl.com/yjdkozd). Also see "Understanding complacency about climate change," MIT Sloan School of Management, 2007 (tinyurl.com/676bcu).

Mr. Wark cites the "infinitesimal" amount of CO2 emitted from coal use every year by Colorado Springs. Irrelevant. What's relevant: at the current emissions rates, CO2 is released into the atmosphere nearly twice as fast as it’s removed.

Our "atmospheric bathtub" is filling with CO2. We must stop and reverse this because, at current CO2 levels, more energy is absorbed from the sun than is emitted back into space.

That's why the planet is warming and regional climates are changing! To prevent further warming we must cut CO2 emissions at least in half, not just halt increases.

Some deniers say, "Well, CO2 may be higher than over the last 800,000 years, but levels have been even higher before that. It's all natural variation." What they don't mention is what sea levels were.

National Geographic (“If all the Ice Melted,” Sept. 2013, tinyurl.com/qembjpf): "If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we'll likely create an ice-free planet with an average temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58." Sea level will increase by 216 feet! Goodbye Florida.

Mr. Wark: "None of this (i.e., Hazlehurst's 'disingenuous propaganda' in "Climate change: Deal with it," City Sage, March 25) proves 'direct, incontrovertible' truth that fossil-fuel use is key. This disaster rhetoric is so contrived it should throw up flags for any thinker."

Despite such flawed thinking, global warming is an existential threat to life on earth. Billions will die, more species extinct. The physics of the system tells us that waiting for "direct, incontrovertible" proof sufficient to convince deniers is not an option.

Sterman: "Once people understand that we're pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere far faster than they are removed, they understand why we can't wait and see — why we have to reduce our emissions today to protect the world we will pass on to our children, and their children."

I hope so.

Bob Powell, Ph.D. physics
Colorado Springs

Another letter responding to Mr. Wark's: Homemade ignorance


URL: http://www.exponentialimprovement.com/cms/globalwarmingdenial.shtml

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