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Is Al (Gore Not Roker) Your Weatherman?

Is Al (Gore Not Roker) Your Weatherman?

As tens of thousands of Mississippi Delta residents set up retaining walls, dig moats, pile sand bags and evacuate, and as the spillways open and small towns and farmlands in the deep south flood, all in advance of the Mississippi’s extraordinarily high cresting later this week, acolytes of Al Gore’s  An Inconvenient Truth may be experiencing yet another grim “I told you so”moment. Epic tsunamis (just had one), tornadoes (just had them) and floods (here it comes) are highlights of Gore’s forecast of dire weather caused by global warming.

Fact check: Although climate scientists agree that global warming will increase the intensity of tsunamis and of tornado and flood seasons, the recent tsunami in Japan was not the kind caused by global warming, and scientists don’t yet have proof that climate change brought about these particular tornadoes or this particular flood. But awfully inconvenient weather does seem to be upon us. Using compact florescent bulbs and buying food locally and all the other small things we do to help feels more and more right but also less and less important. A binding international emissions treaty would be significant, but after the meeting of 17 countries (including the top two polluters, China and the United States) on energy and climate in Brussels last month, European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said such a signed treaty is “not doable” this year.

Freaked out?

One of the books published last month to celebrate Earth Day, the paperback of Jeff Goodell’s How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate (Mariner, $14.95), may lower your blood pressure. This is not a “how to” book; it’s a terrific narrative of Goodell’s reporting on scientists who are devising ways to cool the planet through geoengineering. After writing Big Coal: the Dirty Secret behind America’s Energy Future, his book about the environmental price of burning coal for energy, Goodell came to believe that humans are not going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to avoid a climate catastrophe, so he turned his attention to the work of top environmentally-minded geoengineers. One of these scientists, David Keith, is designing and building huge machines that can suck CO2 out of the air. Another, Stephen Salter, is pursuing ways to shoot particles into the atmosphere as a way of deflecting sunlight. None of the scientific gambits in the book is without risk, but Goodell makes a good case that the benefits of these strategies may soon enough outweigh the risks.

From its first sentence (“I grew up in California, where human ingenuity is a force of nature”) through its final paragraph, about the quality of adult life Goodell is now able to imagine for his three young children, How to Cool the Planet informs, connects and entertains. It’s a fact-packed reminder that humans can be brilliant as well as greedy — and that even almost unimaginable feats are doable.

This post was originally published by the Progressive Book Club.


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Photo from lagohsep via flickr
Written by Barbara Jones, a Progressive Book Club blogger

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5:19AM PDT on May 31, 2011

Can we really blame global warming for increased intensity of tornadoes? How do we know if geo-engineering isn't to blame? Reflective particulates are already being sprayed into the skies. As usual our government is messing up by not spraying the entire planet and only spraying over nato countries and not the entire planet. This causes an uneven cooling which increases temp. differences which in turn increases tornado intensity. The government suspects this what caused the increase of tornadoes in the south this past April because they stopped their spraying for 1 week after the devastation for the 1st time in a decade. But now they aren't letting the disasters stop geo-engineering. After the Joplin, MO damage they continue to spray. Messing with mother nature is never a good idea.

6:05AM PDT on May 29, 2011


2:24PM PDT on May 28, 2011

Two more trees to my yard this weekend.

8:00AM PDT on May 27, 2011

IF we keep poluting like we do then it will only get worse....LESS people.....less garbadge.....less polution!!!!!!

11:01PM PDT on May 26, 2011

Check out the cars that are being built in Europe that run on AIR!!!!...That would halt most all further Global Warming!!!...So why isn't it in the news!!??!!...(I know.)

10:46PM PDT on May 26, 2011

We shouldn't be freaked out but look at this whole thing very coolly (so to speak).

It's a long-term problem that demands long-term solutions. The Earth's climate envelope has enormous elasticity, if you look at any of the NOAA models, but it could eventually collapse into a runaway greenhouse and then we'd be cooked-we'd have to implement those risky emergency measures. Particles into the atmosphere sounds bad but at that point what would be the choice?

(Runaway greenhouse is where the heat creates a global cloud layer that lets energy in-you can get sunburned on a cloudy day-but doesn't let infrared out-clouds trap heat, which is why cloudy winter nights are warmer, and why Venus is 800 degrees.)

The short-term phenomena of increased cooling in some areas and increased warming in others is part of that rebound elasticity engineers know any large system has. Extra heat means more moisture than normal will be sucked up by the jet streams and Rossby Waves (drying/burning some areas) and will have to come down somewhere (flooding/freezing others). Sea levels will rise and low countries like Holland and Bangladesh will lose half their land. There will be mass migration/refugee problems and fights over water.

The U.S. military, advised by the Rand Corp. (a conservative think tank), has been planning for this since the 90s. Those who don't realize scientists figured out global warming 20 years ago are off their (Al) Roker.

3:51PM PDT on May 26, 2011

thanks for the article

9:17AM PDT on May 26, 2011

Engineers are putting there efforts into development of products which will make a positive environmental difference. But, why wait for engineers to do what the population can do collectively and that is change the way we shop and buy products. We need to be far more resourceful and I frankly am encouraged by not only people becoming much more pro-active in fighting for our planet, but in how they will vote in future elections as well.

8:40AM PDT on May 26, 2011

noted with thanks

5:12AM PDT on May 26, 2011

i hope so because we need change and we need it now

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