Lots of activity in Copenhagen happened during the past two days. As expected, results in the form of agreements or pacts haven’t come yet – that will happen next week. So here are some more climate-related news items to digest while negotiators do their job. I’ll add them throughout the day as they come out.
The 2000′s will be the hottest decade on record. Read that again: the 2000′s will be the hottest decade on record. Both the World Meteorological Organization and NOAA have come out with separate but agreeing analyses on this topic. Expect NASA to say the same thing when they release their update in the next week. We’ll have to wait until a little while into 2010 to get additional confirmation, but climate change is occurring today, period, end of story. What’s left to debate and decide? How fast and how much we act in the next 5 years. After that, it becomes how do we react, because a great deal of change will have been locked into the climate system.
The EPA declared that scientific evidence shows greenhouse gases contribute to health and environmental safety yesterday. This is one method that President Obama and his administration has at their disposal to actually do something about energy and climate policy. They wanted Congress to take the lead and enact legislation doing something. The U.S. House responded, passing H.R. 2454 (ACES) earlier this year. The Senate is trying its hardest to prove to Americans that it is the most useless portion of our federal government. Being a slow, deliberative body is one thing. Purposefully doing as little as possible is yet another. Health care, energy and climate, and financial industry legislation should have been passed already. Throwing their middle finger to Americans, they’re not even done with the first one. The Copenhagen Summit is happening now. We needed to act yesterday. If the Senate wants to drag its feet on everything, fine. The President has options at his disposal. He did and should continue to exercise them. The Senate is welcome to join the discussion whenever they’re ready.
NYT article on some discussion of costs associated with acting to mitigate and adapt to climate change. You can read the article to get a WAG on what it might cost. I’m going to share what the cost of inaction, which no denier wants to talk about, would be:
“People often ask about the costs,” said Kevin Parker, the global head of Deutsche Bank Asset Management, who tracks climate policy for the bank. “But the figures people tend to cite don’t take into account conservation and efficiency measures that are easily available. And they don’t look at the cost of inaction, which is the extinction of the human race. Period.”
Personally, I don’t think $8 billion should be the top limit on assistance the U.S. provides to developing countries. On this side of extinction, costs will run into trillions of dollars. We put the pollution into the system. We’re responsible for the lion’s share of the results. In terms of climate justice, the U.S. is proposing what it’s always done: privatize profit and socialize costs.
Normally, Sen. Mark Udall has been rightfully commended on environmental issues. Things got a little less impressive when he started running for the Senate. This might not be the biggest thing on others’ radars, but this comment about the pine beetle epidemic hitting the West U.S. is, in my mind, inexcusable:
Udall has called the beetle outbreak “one of the biggest natural disasters we face in the West.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, Senator. The beetle outbreak has been linked, by scientists, to warmer winter conditions and drier summer conditions – the same thing predicted by climatologists running simulations with human greenhouse gas emissions. The outbreak has been aided and abetted by anthropogenic climate change. Its human component outweighs the natural component. Using language like this aids climate change deniers.
The article is in reference to an additional $40 million heading to Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota to help deal with the pine beetle outbreak. I doubt that’s enough – there were 2 million affected acres through the end of 2008 in Colorado alone. The Forest Service and BLM has been underfunded and overtasked for years. $40 million, while better than nothing, isn’t likely to go very far. Just sayin’.
My 12/7/2009 summary is here.
Cross-posted at SquareState.