“The greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people!”
-Senator James Inhofe
Thanks to an outspoken American Senator, the world is being set straight on climate change. Working tirelessly to block Al Gore’s Capitol Hill celebration as part of a seven-continent “Live Earth” concert tour intended to rally the planet in cheerfully addressing runaway global warming, Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe speaks with the conviction of a Holocaust denier when he calls climate change “The greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people!”
A least since the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, WMD in Iraq, the Iranian threat, Bush’s Terror War On Terror, and the constitutional curtain-closing Patriot Acts 1, 2 and 3. [The Hill Mar 28/07]
Apparently unafraid of facing future Nuremberg-style environmental trials, Climate Change Deniers such as the National Science Teachers Association have refused 50,000 free DVDs of Gore’s Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth” in fear of alienating heavy corporate funders like Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute, which publishes expensive ads in newspapers ridiculing melting glaciers, while also helpfully providing “teaching aids” such as coal coloring books and classroom videos asserting, “You Can’t Be Cool Without Fuel.”
That means you, Mr. and Mrs. Penguin.
Still, it’s hard to debate a destabilizing 10,000-foot thick glacier. With sea levels and melting polar ice-sheets already at the upper limits of 30 year projections, another 500,000 square miles of Arctic sea ice melted, and Alaska’s glaciers threatening to turn off the winter-warming Gulf Stream by decanting more than 13 trillion gallons of meltwater into the world ocean each year, and Greenland’s fast-melting 2,000 kilometres of solid ice increasing its melting rate over the past five years from a metre a year to a metre a month, and polar bears drowning a hundred miles offshore while looking for ice floes retreating another 300 miles out, and thousands of Canadian harp seal pups experiencing 100% mortality from the same lack of ice, and with the first month of 2007 3.4°F hotter than the any January ever recorded, and the snowpack serving drinking water to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest shrinking toward bare rock, and more than a quarter of the American West in either severe or exceptionally severe drought and Arizona cactus dying from lack of water… it is undeniably clear that the Inhofe is right: the planet can’t be heating up! [Reuters Mar 23/07; CBC Aug 3; Aug 20/04; BBC Radio 4 Aug 7/05; Independent Oct 2/05; Knight Ridder News Service July31/03; New York Times Mar 10/06; www.cejnewsviews.blogspot.com; www.realclimate.org]
On the other hand, an 18-inch rise in sea level would see salt water flowing into the Sacramento River Delta, destroying the drinking water for 23 million Californians. A 20-foot ocean level rise will put half of Florida under water— including Miami, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville—along with the new WTC memorial in Manhattan, and much of Washington DC, where Senator Inhofe is busily blocking climate change-inspired discourse, dancing and music. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer Mar 11/07; BBC July28/04]
In more than 180 countries, one out of every ten people on the planet could soon be chuckling over the climate change hoax while swimming inland. Fortunately for U.S. legislators like Inhofe, only one of these countries is the United States. The rest—China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, Thailand and the Philippines have mostly expendable non-white populations who don’t buy much stuff from the United States, which today primarily produces bullshit, weapons and wars. [Inter Press Service Mar 28/07]
Meanwhile, the rapidly melting and slip-sliding Greenland ice sheet does not know it is a hoax and is set to raise world sea levels 20 to 30 feet, while far to the south, inland Western Antarctic glaciers uncorked by the calving Larson ice shelf are rushing to add another 20-feet or so to the rising sea level hoax. As for the melting Eastern Antarctic… think about relocating to a mountaintop with a dock in your front yard.
OCEANS ‘R’ US
Onboard a planet that is much more Ocean than Earth, the gigantic saltwater buffer covering 70% of its surface is absorbing half of our carbon folly every day. This is not so good, because all this hot water is helping to create vast fishless Dead Zones off the coast of California and Oregon every year for the last five years. Dead zones are also blooming in the waters off Chile, Namibia and South Africa. Nearly 50% of the world’s fisheries are in these areas. [BBC News Feb 17/07]
Even worse, in contributing to a 25 million ton carbon deposit into the One World Ocean every day, we are seeing a resulting carbonic reaction that is rapidly turning this whole big watery wilderness acidic. [www.earthfiles.com Aug 13/04; Agence France-Presse July 20/05]
And those 25 million daily acid-making tons are increasing rapidly.
Meanwhile, the global warming hoax so stridently opposed by Senator Inhofe means that temperatures in Eastern Europe are not averaging 8° Fahrenheit above normal, even though they are. Canada on average is more than 5 degrees warmer than normal, and hoax-ridden Siberia is 9°F hotter than usual. [Agence France-Presse Feb 16/07; AP Feb 16/07]
THE HEAT IN PEAT
This is a scream because the world’s largest frozen peat bog stretches for a million square kilometres across western Siberia’s once permanently frosty permafrost. Warming faster than almost anywhere else on Earth, this time bomb tundra contains several hundred billion tons of methane that—if thawed by a few more cheap flights to Mexico—could be burped like a giant cow fart into an atmosphere already dangerously overloaded with fast-food bovine flatulence. [NewScientist.com Aug 11/05]
Thing is, each teeny molecule of methane released into the atmosphere destroys millions of sunshielding ozone molecules. And despite the hoax of ozone layer depletion, last year’s 11 million square miles ozone hole over the Antarctic was the biggest ever recorded, with local ozone absence often reaching 99%. No more ozone means no more plankton means no more oxygen and no more fishies. [National Science Foundation Press Release Dec 17/03; www.greenguerrilla.com/om.htm; Agence France-Presse Dec 26/06]
Another thing is, one molecule of methane also traps 21 times more heat than a measly molecule of carbon dioxide. [EPA]
Suddenly—hopefully—that next drive to Burger King may not seem as urgent as leaving the key unturned in the aptly-named ignition. Because about another two or three degrees rise in global temperatures could release more heat-trapping tundra methane all at once than all the carbon released over the past 100 years. [Baltimore Sun Dec 16/04]
THE IPCC HOAX
But as Inhofe urges, relax and throw another log on the fire. The good news is that the latest alarming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections showing an “upper range” temperature increase of about 11°F by this century’s end based on carbon burning trends in places like the USA, Canada and China turn out to be baloney.
The bad news is that 1,200 of the world’s best atmospheric scientists at the IPCC forgot to factor in land-based methane releases, which are “emptying at an alarming rate,” according to Chris Freeman of the University of Wales. Apparently uninformed that methane levels already rising three-times faster than CO2 are a hoax, a frightened Freeman exclaims, “It’s a vicious circle. The problem gets worse and worse, faster and faster” as more methane heats the atmosphere releasing more methane and so on. [National Science Foundation Press Release Dec 17/03; NewScientist.com Aug 11/05]
Even with the terrible tundra factored in, panicked oceanographers are warning that just a few degrees more ocean warming could release another 2,000 billion tons of methane gas into the atmosphere. That’s a lot. In fact it’s enough to trigger a sudden “destabilization event” even worse than a jilted spouse.
We won’t like it. A NASA study confirmed that 55 million years ago a similarly tremendous underwater methane burp instantly heated Earth’s atmosphere by up to 13° F within a few decades. This messed up a lot of finned, feathered and furred lives, disrupting climate worldwide for more than 100,000 years.
Some 200 million years before that, another series of methane releases came close to wiping out all life on a lone space colony called Earth. As oxygen levels plummeted and organic life teeter-tottered on the brink of extinction, more than 94% of marine species headed for off-planet dimensions. It took between 25 and 100 million years for coral reefs and forests to regrow into their former diversity.
For those of us who don’t like waiting for anything, such an interruption could be extremely aggravating.
NOT ALL CYCLES ARE BICYCLES
These Big Extinction Events—and other periodic warming and cooling episodes—are what people like Inhofe and your neighbors and coworkers mean when they say that climate change is “cyclical”. They’re right. But not in the way they mean.
For example, about 12,700 years ago average temperatures in North Atlantic region abruptly plummeted nearly 5°C and remained that way for 1,300 years. The Younger Dryas is named after a cold-loving Arctic wildflower that flourished during this era in the US and European regions, where icebergs extended as far south as the coast of present day Portugal.
Another abrupt warming took place about 1,000 years ago that allowed Norse voyagers to settle a northern green land. Three centuries later, the Norse abandoned their Greenland settlements when the climate chilled abruptly—with even more profound agricultural, economic, and political impacts in Europe. In the USA, the American revolution was nearly aborted by rapid climate shift as Washington struggled to get his thinly-clad troops across the icebound Delaware.
“Rapid changes in ocean circulation are linked to these abrupt climate changes,” Robert Gagosian, President and Director Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution told the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland in January 2003. “A growing body of evidence demonstrating linkages among ocean-related climate shifts, ‘megadroughts’ and precipitous collapses of civilizations, including the Akkadian empire in Mesopotamia 4,200 years ago, the Mayan empire in central America 1,500 years ago, and the Anasazi in the American Southwest in the late 13th century.”
Now a lot more people could experience that excitement again. In May 2005, climate change researcher Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, aimed sonar upwards beneath the Arctic ice cap from Royal Navy submarines and correlated ships’ measurements across the Greenland Sea to detect that one of the two “heat pumps” driving the Gulf Stream had weakened to less than a quarter of its former strength.
“Until recently we would find giant ‘chimneys’ in the sea where columns of cold, dense water were sinking from the surface to the seabed 3,000 metres below, but now they have almost disappeared,” Wadhams said. “As the water sank it was replaced by warm water flowing in from the south, which kept the circulation going. If that mechanism is slowing, it will mean less heat reaching Europe.”
Today, the powerful Gulf Stream that bathes Britain and northern Europe in warm waters conveyed from the tropics has slowed by 30% in the last dozen years. According to UK newspapers, “The Gulf Stream delivers the equivalent of 1 million power stations-worth of energy to northern Europe, propping up temperatures by 10C in some regions. Ireland, Britain and northwestern Europe lie on the same latitude as Siberia.” The shut down of this Gulf Stream “radiator” could lead to a century or more of no frost-free days on the northern European, UK and US Atlantic seaboards—at a time when the end of cheap oil sends fuel oil and food transport costs skyrocketing. [Sunday Times (Ireland) May 8/05; Guardian Dec 1/05]
While unusually violent solar flares are not linked to these major climatic events, cold northern meltwater and methane releases caused by mass volcanic eruptions are. On a Gaian world driven by intricately interconnected feedback mechanisms to maintain narrow margins of mammalian habitability, volcanism may somehow be cyclical.
But humans are cynical. And our denial is much more dangerous. As U.S. government geologist John Atcheson observes, “Humans appear to be capable of emitting carbon dioxide in quantities comparable to the volcanic activity that started these chain reactions.” According to the U.S. Geological Survey, burning fossil fuels in cars, jets, ships, wood stoves and power plants releases more than 150 times the amount of volcanic carbon dioxide—”the equivalent of nearly 17,000 additional volcanoes the size of Hawaii’s Kilauea.” [Baltimore Sun Dec 16/04]
Inhofe says that more than 700 million cars and trucks running their motors an eggshell-thin atmosphere as enclosed as any garage are not affecting anything. [Independent Dec 6/03; Globe and Mail Apr11/98]
Atcheson, says, “Once these methane releases really get cooking, it’s likely to play out all the way.” [Independent Dec 6/03]
BUY LOCAL—HELP OIL TANKERS RETIRE NOW
Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping are increasing at an alarming rate and could rise by as much as 75% in the next 15 years unless we stop shopping for cheap junk at Wal-Mart and similar Chinese coal-plant prodding consumption emporiums. All this shipping traffic to deliver consumer toys and oil is nearly double Britain’s total emissions and more than all African countries combined.
For anyone who still believes in leaving their personal responsibility and children’s’ future to governments governed by corporate interests, more than 200 million tons of carbon emissions from 70,000 perpetually steaming ships do not come under the Kyoto agreement or any proposed European legislation. Few studies have been made of the vehicles that transport 90% of our not-so-goods over thousands of sea miles.
“Buying local” takes on new urgency and appropriateness with 20,000 new ships on order and shipboard emissions heading toward more than a million tons a day by 2020. [Guardian Mar 3/07]
STATES OF UNION
Apparently still clueless that climate change is a hoax, 409 mayors have signed a climate-protection agreement requiring cities to reduce greenhouse emissions, and 29 states have already passed legislation limiting greenhouse gases. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is also seeking to terminate global; warming by imposes the first state cap on greenhouse gas emissions that will reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Last Monday, the governors of Washington, California, Oregon, Arizona and New Mexico announced a regional agreement on climate change.
On Thursday—as temperatures rose to the highest level ever for March at 11 locations across Japan—Senate hearings examined these state and local programs as models for federal legislation. [Kyodo news Mar 30/07]
On Sunday, Vice President Al Gore won an Academy Award for his must-see documentary on global warming.
As astonished Japanese hauled out their Saki for cherry blossom-viewing in a Tokyo sweltering under July-like temperatures, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “We are making tough choices. We are investing our taxpayers’ money. We are transforming our cities into laboratories for climate protection. In short, we are making a difference, and laying the groundwork for strong federal policies and programs.”
Calling on Congress to pass a plan “that calls for a hard and declining cap on emissions,” Nickels insisted that cities and states should be eligible for federal grants that underwrite innovative programs and research. “We need the federal government to take on a leadership role now so that we move beyond the grass-roots innovation that is blossoming in every state in the country,” he said.
But blowing up Iraq and Afghanistan, and getting ready to blow up Iran, Syria, North Korea and possibly Canada if we don’t fork over the rest of our natural gas, oil and fresh water for SUVs and desert golf courses, continues to vacuum nearly every shekel—er, dollar—from the U.S. economy. As Truthout’s Environmental Editor Kelpie Wilson points out, the anticipated cost of the Iraq slaughter “will be at least a trillion dollars. The installed cost of solar power is currently about $9 a watt, so $20,000 would buy a 2.2 kilowatt solar power system. That is enough power for a household with modest needs to spin the meter backward a good portion of the time. A trillion dollars would put a system like that on 50 million roofs.” [Truthout.com Mar 29/07]
With the real surge taking place not in Baghdad but across the globe, as current levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere leaped higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years and worldwide carbon fuel emissions surged past 900 tons each second, the doughty Senator Inhofe said he would fight any proposal based on California’s model that is already reducing traffic, de-stressing people’s lives and putting more saved fuel dollars in their pockets.
“Let’s be honest about what these programs, and their companion proposals here in Congress, really are,” Inhofe said. “They are the biggest tax increase in U.S. history. In fact, they are worse than taxes.” [Seattle Post-Intelligencer Mar 2/07]
Was the Oklahoma senator perpetrating his own hoax? By becoming the first local government in the United States to deal with climate change back in 1993, the city of Portland has already achieved stunning reductions in carbon emissions below 1990 levels—while booming in smiles, improved health and cash savings.
“People have looked at it the wrong way, as a drain,” Mayor Tom Potter patiently explained after parking his Prius hybrid. “Actually it’s something that attracts people. It’s economical. It makes sense in dollars.”
Portland has led the way into a more fun, less carbon future by installing two light rail lines and a streetcar system, and 750 miles of bicycle paths. As a result, another 10 out of every hundred residents have left their dangerous cars chained up and are happily commuting by foot or on bicycle. [Guardian Mar 5/07; Washington Post Feb 27/07]
FLIPPING THE OTHER SWITCH
The “DO NOT CROSS” threshold of a further two degree temperature rise must be avoided at all costs—even if it means turning off computers, TVs and other appliances in tens of thousands of showrooms—and similar gadgets not actually in productive use in the office or at home.
Why not switch off global warming now?
And put the cash savings in your jeans?
And maybe not work so hard to keep all these machines turned on. Even when you think they’re turned off. Which could be the biggest hoax of all.
“Number one is to turn things off when they are not in use,” Wilson suggests. “Seventy-five percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Across the US, this equals the annual output of 12 power plants and costs consumers over $1 billion each year. Buy some power strips so you can take back control over these ‘vampire loads.’ Light bulbs are also crucial. Lighting is about 25 percent of US electricity use. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about one-third the energy of incandescent bulbs. [Truthout.com Mar 29/07]
Another big blind spot is that we in North America are too often locked by our media mesmerizers and cultural conditioning into thinking that what we see and hear around us is the way things are everywhere.
Flip on the Internet, buy a copy of the New Economist, chat up a visitor and the great and joyous news is that 95% of global humanity do not live here—and are not subjected to the ignorant bleating of Senators like I’m-a-foe, and presidential pretenders like Cheney, I mean Wolfowitz, I mean Perle, I mean JINSA, I mean Bush.
Europe is moving fast fast fast to wean itself off a species limiting carbon addiction. So is Scandinavia. Even Big Bad China, in the midst of its coal-fired-power-plant-a-week frenzy, is acknowledging planetary peril and attempting to put on the carbon brakes while rolling out windmills, electric bicycles and paradigm-changing Lithium Ion batteries in truly Chinese quantities.
Across the warming ocean in the other direction, to avoid a further 2 degrees centigrade temperature rise, further polar melting, and catastrophic methane releases—the woman-led German government is calling on industrialised countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 20% by 2020, and 60% by 2050. [Independent Dec 6/03]
That would help. A rapid 90% low-carbon diet might stave off calamity.
With targets—and incentives—like this, the opportunities for personal creativity, long wished for lifestyle changes, and entrepreneurship are boggling!
“Now is our chance to develop the American low-energy lifestyle. The Japanese use half the energy we do, yet still maintain an affluent lifestyle. Many European countries do the same. We can look to Japan and Europe for models, but we can also do it our own way,” Kelpie Wilson says—while powering her family’s fully but carefully equipped Oregon home with solar panels and a micro-stream generator for 11 months of the year.
REURGENCE AND REBIRTH
After thousands of hours of meticulous research, this writer can say definitively that climate change is not happening.
Forget “climate change”. The gradual warming of the Earth—which actually sounds inviting to shivering Northern Hemispherians—is nonsense.
We are actually well past climate change. We are now experiencing rapid Climate Shift.
And if we don’t flip off unneeded car and plane trips, appliances, light switches, deadbeat politicians, and consumption-driven network television right now—we could trip the switch on Climate Flip.
This means us, Mr. and Mrs. North America. As Flavia Nunes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California points out, the key finding from ice core samples and the geological record is that “the Earth is a system that can change very rapidly”—once an enclosed, recirculating atmosphere is saturated with the heat-trapping effluence of our affluence. [Christian Science Monitor Jan 26/06]
The heartening news is that Climate Shift is causing a concomitant Consciousness Shift. A lifeboat mentality is beginning to displace our misplaced “me first” conditioning as the realization sinks in that we could all sink down if our spaceship Earth founders on the reefs not of carbon and methane, but our own denial.
The answer to the biggest motivator for transformation yet enjoyed by challenge-loving and ultimately cooperative hominids is as simple—and immediate—as changing our minds.
So why not pull those plugs, jump on your bike, and visit a friend or your local farmer’s market right now? The liberating lesson of climate shift is that we can move just as quickly away from fear, guilt, loneliness, and the treadmill stress of credit card serfdom to enjoy true “freedom” as masters of our destiny in a supportive and approving community.
[The author has clicked off his nonessential electrical power bars, scrapped his old pickup, and is converting his recumbent bike to electric power.]