Thursday, April 09, 2015

Finding a Serious Approach to Global Warming

I've been reading about global warming since the early 1970s. I started taking it seriously in the late 1970s but I assumed there was still plenty of time. By the late 1980s, I began to realize we needed to take it much more seriously. It is now 2015 and the hour is getting late. I am proud that I voted for President Barack Obama and I am glad that he takes global warming seriously. But he will be in office only two more years and today's Republicans prefer to live in an alternate universe. These are not the pragmatic Republicans of my parents' generation or my grandparents' generation who believed in science and took on the serious problems of their age.

Now I happen to be a liberal Democrat but I occasionally come across Republicans who take global warming seriously. You can find them in business, in the military, in science and other places, but you won't find them often in today's politics, though some of these rational Republicans I just mentioned were once in politics in a more sane era.

Today's politics are saturated with money from conservatives in the fossil fuel industries. These conservatives are dangerous and put all of us in danger. The funny thing is, I happen to believe in free enterprise and economic competition. But I also believe in a strong role for government. For me, one of the roles of government is to make sure capitalists play fair and don't try to rig the game to the point of endangering the populations they supposedly serve. Today fossil fuel corporations are endangering every person on Earth. I still believe a balance of government and business is the best way to move forward but we have drifted far from that formula. Now I happen to be sympathetic to environmentalists as well as those who talk about sustainability, but I'm not certain they have the best solutions either, though they are often sources of important ideas and information. I'm a pragmatist and a liberal. I want solutions that mesh with the real world in real time.

Tonight I read an article published by The Guardian that is close to my own position and that I strongly recommend. It is called: Can the World Survive Without Fossil Fuels by Larry Elliott, the economics editor for The Guardian.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Melting Glaciers: The Reality of Global Warming

There are many ways to measure global warming. One way to remind yourself that global warming is real is to drive in California on 395 from Mono Lake to Lone Pine. For much of the way, you can look west and see the backside of the Sierras and many of the highest peaks. On the east side of the mountains are the glaciers that have been there for ages, at least until recently. There are still glaciers, but they're considerably smaller than they used to be and large patches of bare rock are now exposed. Many long-time Californians remember what the east side of the Sierras were like in the 1960s.

Another way to measure global warming is to drive by Mount Shasta from time to time on Interstate 5 on your way to Oregon. The last time I went by, a year ago, in early May, there was barely any snow and the permanent ice is a shadow of what it once was. Mount Shasta used to be called the ghost of the North because of its year long coat of white.

In today's world, California is one battlefield among many, and global warming is winning. But there are other places where the battles are not only fierce but majestic on a scale that was once hard to imagine. That's one of the problems of global warming. It's hard to conceive. That's something most people don't understand: warming the planet Earth just one degree takes a hellish amount of energy. The sun pours a huge amount of heat into the Earth. Most of that heat is reflected back into space. The growing overcoat of CO2 and other greenhouse gases prevents a large amount of the sun's heat to escape back into space and reflects that heat right back into the ground.

In North America, the far north is sometimes 30 degrees above normal for days at a time. This is happening even when daylight in winter is very brief. Things are happening that ought not to be ignored. Some of these things are happening faraway and are seen by few people.

The Daily Kos has a video that shows a large glacier collapse. The video also shows the power of unchecked global warming.

President Obama takes global warming seriously but he needs help. Let your representatives and senators know that the debate is over. It's time to take serious action on global warming.