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Published on November 20th, 2012 | by Bob Higgins


We’re In The Record Books, But There’s No Trophy

November 20th, 2012 by  


Greenland surface melt measurements from three satellites on July 8 (left panel) and July 12 (right panel), 2012. Source: NASA, 2012

We set another record last year, but not for the fastest mile, the most home runs, or a quintuple axel, so don’t call Guinness. We may want to keep this one quiet. The record is for blithely pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at alarming rates in spite of four decades of increasingly dire warnings from the very people most qualified to recognize this type of threat, climate scientists.

The World Meteorological Orginazation (WMO) says that last year we reached 390.9 parts per million of CO2, which is 40 percent above the pre-industrial level. It’s been increasing by 2 ppm for the last ten years.

That may not sound like much, but neither does gaining weight at the rate of five or ten pounds per year. That, too, seems reasonably innocuous, but after a year or two you don’t fit your clothes and after twenty you’re voiding the warranty on the wife’s pickup truck.

Yesterday, the World Bank, a strange source for climate change warnings, issued a gloomy projection of where we might be in 2100 with the continued increase in atmospheric CO2 and a worldwide average temperature increase of 4°C (7°F). There’s nothing comforting in the report, it’s not a forecast for a walk in the park or a day at the beach, especially when the park is a withered tangle of noxious weeds and the beach is forty miles inland.

World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim commented about the report:

“It is my hope that this report shocks us into action. Even for those of us already committed to fighting climate change, I hope it causes us to work with much more urgency. This report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists are nearly unanimously predicting by the end of the century, without serious policy changes.”

I hope it shocks us, too, but I’m not expecting much. We’ve been warned by nearly every credible climate scientist; by one of the largest reinsurance companies, Munich Re, which is likely worried about the claims; by the US Department of Defense, which tells us that warming and its effects are a principle threat to national security; and by more Nobel Laureates than you can fit in the Kennedy Center.

I hope that the obvious increase in severe weather incidents and patterns, wildfires, drought, crop failures, and the appearance of tropical diseases in Saskatchewan will arouse public opinion to incite leadership to lead from the front rather than listening to the political winds in the rear.

But again, I’m not expecting much. If we continue with our environmental denial and energy profligacy, the oceans will continue to warm and acidify, the coral will steadily die, food sources (both flora and fauna) will diminish and disappear, and we will create a planet where we are no longer at the top of the food ladder and the critters on the lower rungs will survive by feeding on our scattered carcasses. But have a Happy Thanksgiving. 
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About the Author

Lifelong liberal of the Tom Paine wing. Marine Vietnam vet. Have worked as a photographer, cab driver, bartender, carpenter, cabinetmaker, writer and editor. Now retired on a Veterans Disability program I spend my time writing, and complaining about politics and the environment.

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