NOW DO YOU BELIEVE?
Less than two weeks ago it was noted that for the first time in a generation – since 1988 – climate change was not mentioned in any of the three U.S. presidential debates.
Now, in the aftermath of the monster Hurricane Sandy, the topic has come into stark and terrifying focus for Americans.
Image by Gerry Broome via AP Photo.
Does it seem indelicate to be talking climate change while families are grieving and displaced, emergency crews are on the road and the power is out?
There are no such qualms for George Lakoff who writes in the Huffington Post: “Global warming is real, and it is here. It is causing – yes, causing – death, destruction, and vast economic loss. And the causal effects are getting greater with time. We cannot merely adapt to it. The costs are incalculable. What we are facing is huge.”
He urges readers to come to grips with the words “systematic causation” – that it is aberration in a number of natural systems, combined, that bring us the “perfect storm”.
It was, he says, global warming that caused the raising of the temperature of the waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. “When that happens, extremely energetic and wet storms occur more frequently and ferociously. These systemic effects of global warming came together to produce the ferocity and magnitude of Hurricane Sandy.”
That the atmosphere is warming because of the profligate burning of fossil fuels?
Indisputable, says Lakoff. The science is in.
A flooded car park of cabs in New York. Image via AP/smh.com.au.
One stat he offers: If Exxon burned all the oil it has already drilled and stored? The temperature of the earth would increase by 2.0 degrees Celcius. That increase, climate scientists agree is a “prescription for disaster” says Scientific American.
“Email your media whenever you see reporting on extreme weather that doesn’t ask scientists if it was systemically caused by global warming,” advises Lakoff.
And yet, one of the first comments on his post?
“This article is ridiculous. I suppose we could also say that global warming caused the other great hurricane that hit New York in the 1820s.”
What will it take for us to come to grips with the magnitude of the problem we are facing?
Australia is one of the most coal-dependent countries in the world. In 2000 we were the highest emitters of greenhouse gases, per capita, on earth.
A recent study shows that the Queensland government, for one, has handed out $7 billion in subsidies to coal and coal seam gas in the past five years. Without those subsidies, the fossil-fuel industry would be dead – unable to compete with wind and solar energy companies which face unfair barriers to competition.
Last week, NSW MP, Joel Fitzgibbon ( who represents the coal-producing region of the Hunter) suggested we abandon our Renewable Energy Targets – a modest 20% of renewables by the year 2020. He declared he was in favour of action on climate change, but added: “but I’m also determined that we take the least-cost approach”.
“Forget the ideology,” said the man the Greens call “Coal Fitzgibbon”. “Of course, it is our abundance of fossil fuels which in part makes us economically competitive.”
It’s the economy, stupid.
No, it’s the environment, numbskull.
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