Climate Change Leaders On the Defensive: How Did We Get Here?

It was an interesting weekend for the climate movement. On Saturday, Al Gore published on Op Ed piece in the New York Times entitled “We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change, and The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a statement that they intend to establish an independent committee to review IPCC procedures. Clearly, some of the most visible players in the climate movement are on the defensive. With only 35% of Americans now convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, it’s no wonder.

But how did we get here? Gore points to three causes:

1. Mistakes were made.
The Op Ed piece acknowledges that “scientific enterprise will never be completely free of mistakes”, and alludes to both the climategate emails and errors in reporting on the threat to the Himalayas that I blogged about a few weeks ago. Worse than the mistakes, however has been the IPCC’s refusal to take responsibility. The statement by the IPCC acknowledges criticism without admitting error, maintaining the aura of immaturity surrounding the organization. As Gore points out, “What is important is that the overwhelming consensus on global warming remains unchanged” (which my organization agrees with.) The IPCC should more openly admit to, learn from, and respond to errors.

2. Opposition is getting organized. 
The last few years of discussion on the solutions to the climate problem have made it clear that the heaviest emitting industries are going to feel some negative impact through regulation or caps. As Gore says, “some industries and companies whose business plans are dependent on unrestrained pollution of the atmospheric commons have become ever more entrenched. They are ferociously fighting against the mildest regulation — just as tobacco companies blocked constraints on the marketing of cigarettes for four decades after science confirmed the link of cigarettes to diseases of the lung and the heart.” This is a common tactic, and many of these firms have sizable war chests to fund both explicit public opinion campaigns, as well as dubiously ethical stealth efforts.  

3. Right wing media is gaining influence. 
I’m not sure I agree with this point, but Gore points out that “changes in America’s political system — including the replacement of newspapers and magazines by television as the dominant medium of communication — conferred powerful advantages on wealthy advocates of unrestrained markets and weakened advocates of legal and regulatory reforms. Some news media organizations now present showmen masquerading as political thinkers who package hatred and divisiveness as entertainment. And as in times past, that has proved to be a potent drug in the veins of the body politic. Their most consistent theme is to label as “socialist” any proposal to reform exploitive behavior in the marketplace.” He is giving FOX News far too much credit.

Looking at the issue from a consumer and populist perspective, I suspect that there is simply a massive underestimation of what it will take to undo decades of messaging and behavior reinforcing that cheap energy is an unlimited resource, international cooperation should automatically take a back seat to corporate profits, and that unrestrained consumerism is both a right and a virtue. It is more than just an inconvenient truth to discover that the old way is the wrong way. Change to deeply ingrained social institutions is seldom easy, and often generational.

Senator Lindsey Graham seems to understand this. As he told Thomas Friedman, “I have been to enough college campuses to know if you are 30 or younger this climate issue is not a debate. It’s a value. These young people grew up with recycling and a sensitivity to the environment — and the world will be better off for it.”  The rest of us need to join in.

 

Gore and Bono, photo copyright: http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

379 comments

LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you for article.

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LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you for article.

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LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you for article.

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LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you for article.

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Daniel M.
Past Member 9 years ago

Fuel
Planting only 6 percent of the continental United States with biomass crops such as hemp would supply all current domestic demands for oil and gas.
Did you know the average American spends 33 of 40 working hours to support their need for energy? It's true; 80 percent of the total monetary living expense for everything we do is ultimately wrapped up in energy costs; from the energy it takes to make the food we eat, to fuel for the cars we drive, to the manufacturing, storage and transportation of the products we buy. And 80 percent of solid and airborne pollution in our environment can be blamed on fossil energy sources. It is estimated that America has already exhausted 80 percent of its fossil fuel reserves.
Industrial hemp is the number one biomass producer on earth, meaning an actual contender for an economically competitive, clean burning fuel. Hemp has four times the biomass and cellulose potential and eight times the methanol potential of its closest competing crop - corn. Burning coal and oil are the greatest sources of acid rain; biomass fuels burn clean and contain no sulphur and produce no ash during combustion. The cycle of growing and burning biomass crops keeps the world s carbon dioxide level at perfect equilibrium, which means that we are less likely to experience the global climactic changes (greenhouse effect) brought about by excess carbon dioxide and water vapors after burning fossil fuels.

GOOGLE HEMP, GO TO WIKIPIDIA

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Daniel M.
Past Member 9 years ago

1) Ever wonder why tree paper is so cheap? It's because we are subsidizing the true costs of production by borrowing from our own future and that of our children: imagine a world without trees and you'll realize the full impact, significance, and costs of cheap paper from trees. Hemp, unlike trees, grows to maturity in 6-8 months. There is no need to cut down 100 year old trees to make paper! Not only can hemp provide us with top-quality archival paper that's beautiful & strong and leaves a light footprint on this fragile planet of ours, it can also single-handedly put a stop to Greenhouse Effect, soil erosion, dependence on fertilizers and toxic chemicals, blue baby syndrome, pollution of the air, water, and soil, and so much more!
Hemp can easily replace wood fiber and save forests. Saving natural wildlife habitat as well as producing protection against global warming by absorbing greenhouse gases. Hemps yield is four times what an average forest can yield.
Hemp can be grown organically (it must be certified to the USDA/NOP.) It is naturally resistant to most pests, eliminating the need for pesticides. It grows tightly spaced, out-competing any weeds. It also leaves a weed-free field for the following crop. Because of its unique ability to suppress weeds alone, hemp is an excellent rotation crop, especially in sustainable and organic farming systems.

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Daniel M.
Past Member 9 years ago

2) Hemp can be used as part of the environmental remediation process to clear impurities out of wastewater, such as sewage effluent, or other areas of land that have been contaminated with toxic chemicals.
The Opportunity
Currently more hemp is exported to the United States than to any other country. There is something quite amiss with that picture. We are importing an incredibly valued renewable resource that at one time in our nation's history it was mandatory that our farmers cultivate, and that and we relied upon for sustenance.
An important step in turning the American economy around will be to support H.R. 1866 the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009" introduced by Representative Ron Paul. This Bill seeks "To amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes."
Let's get our American farmers back in the business of hemp, an efficient and economically viable crop. Let's also give businesses the opportunity to expand their Sustainability programs with products using U.S. grown hemp.
Can hemp solve the planets social, economic, and environmental woes? I don't know if any one single crop can do that, I do know that hemp is renewable, fast-growing and could allow the U.S. to reduce our dependence on nonrenewable, constrained resources and move us toward sustainable economic development. GOOGLE HEMP, GO TO WIKIPIDIA

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Daniel M.
Past Member 9 years ago

THE TWO MAIN REASONS WE ARE IN SUCH AN ENVIROMENTAL MESS TODAY
1) The decision of the United States Congress to pass the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was based in part on testimony derived from articles in newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst, who, some authorsTemplate:Http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAhearst.htm stress, had significant financial interests in the forest industry, which manufactured his newsprint.
2) Hemp paper threatened DuPont's monopoly on the necessary chemicals for manufacturing paper from trees and hemp fiber cloth would compete with Nylon, a synthetic fibre, that was patented in 1938, the year hemp was made illegal It is often asserted in pro-cannabis publications that DuPont actively supported the criminalization of the production of hemp in the US in 1937 through private and government intermediates, and alleged that this was done to eliminate hemp as a source of fiber—one of DuPont's biggest markets at the time. DuPont denies allegations that it influenced hemp regulation.

3)Hemp for Victory is a black-and-white United States government film made during World War II, explaining the uses of hemp, encouraging farmers to grow as much as possible.

THE GOVERNMENT MUST KNOW THE REAL VALUE OF USING HEMP IT HELPED SAVE THIS COUNTRY DURING WW2!!

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Heinz K.
.9 years ago

Founder of weather channel John Coleman about greatest scam in history:
http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/reprint/alt_explanation.html
http://www.kusi.com/weather/colemanscorner/84165942.html
veritas vos liberabit
Heinz Ketchup, Maturheilt

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Linda M.
Linda M9 years ago

i'm sure that must be it, gunter!

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