Opinion

The Great Debate

A new look at climate change

By Mike Honda and Michael Shank
December 9, 2013

The annual United Nations climate change talks, which concluded last month in Warsaw, unfortunately found little common ground on carbon. The talks broke down over the world’s richest nations’ inability to agree with the poorest on how to address the financial costs of global climate change.

While disappointing, it’s not surprising. Developed countries like the United States and the nations of the European Union, which have wielded the largest carbon footprints over the past decades, are not as often the victims of climate-related disasters. In fact, the countries facing the most severe effects of climate change are often the poorest and most under-developed. They are forced to confront not only natural destruction but economic ruin.

Consider the Philippines, now recovering from Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the country last month. The rate of sea-level rise in the Philippine Sea is one of the fastest in the world — nearly 12 millimeters per year. Yet the Philippines contributes less than 1 percent of the total CO2 emitted in the world annually. This demonstrates the stunning inequality of climate change.

Haiyan’s Category 5 storm conditions lasted 48 hours, with sustained winds of 195 miles per hour and gusts in excess of 220 miles per hour. Few buildings anywhere can withstand that kind of force. The typhoon is estimated to have cost the Philippine economy $14 billion; to say nothing of the tragic human cost, now estimated to be at least 5,000 lives.

Something must to be done to lessen the destructive impact of climate change.

As the planet warms and the international community slows in their response to climate change, these “super typhoons” will only become more common and more severe. Scientists believe that storms like Haiyan will come to represent the norm for typhoons and hurricanes.

If we hope to make any headway meeting our goals for mitigating the effects of climate change, we must act now. The urgency was reinforced by last month’s World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency, which predicted that CO2 emissions will continue to rise by a total of 20 percent by 2035.  We will exceed the international target of a 2 degrees Celsius temperature increase by more than 1.5 degrees, the agency reported.

This is unacceptable. We are already facing the real effects of climate change with rising sea levels, which make any storm’s destruction greater with increased water surge and erosion.

Going forward, the United States should look to the Montreal Protocol — one of the most successful international treaties dealing with a planet-wide environmental issue — as a model for tackling CO2 emissions that lead to global warming. The Montreal Protocol successfully limited the release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the atmosphere and has largely stopped the hole in the ozone layer from growing larger.

Carbon dioxide and CFCs do not adhere to international boundaries once they enter the atmosphere. This is why we need innovative technologies to begin making strategic climate choices.

This is easier than many may think.

In fact, Washington can do something now to help cool the earth. Representative Mike Honda (a co-author of this piece), has co-sponsored several major bills regarding climate change. One would end federal tax cuts for the fossil fuel industry, another would fund students who develop, operate, and maintain clean-energy infrastructure. We have the talent and ingenuity to find ways to use technology to move toward a greener future, and these bills are a start.

As we help the Philippines recover from Super Typhoon Haiyan, we must remember that its impact was worsened by climate change. Those effects will only become greater and more widespread unless we act now, before another abnormal weather catastrophe wreaks incalculable damage.

 

PHOTO (TOP): Survivors stay in makeshift shelters amid debris and the remains of a residential neighborhood devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban city in central Philippines, November 21, 2013. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

PHOTO (INSERT 1): Houses near the sea devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan are seen in Tacloban city, central Philippines. November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

PHOT (INSERT 2): Residents cover their noses as they walk past devastated houses after Super Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban city, central Philippines, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Comments
24 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

“The rate of sea-level rise in the Philippine Sea is one of the fastest in the world — nearly 12 millimeters per year.” This kind of makes it sound like their little piece of the ocean is rising faster that others piece of the ocean? That seems a bit foolish. I fail to see how 12 millimeters per year would cause terrible problems. Are we all frogs that sit in one spot until the water boils? I don’t mean to deny the event, but overstating and dramatization don’t help credibility.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

The IEA, is this the same organization that predicted that we would see temps rise 1 degree over the last decade and it actually rose zero.

From the Vostock ice cores taken at the tune of the century we are in a global warming trend that has lasted twice as long as previous trends. It also showed higher temps were recorded in previous warming periods, I might add without human help.

A lot of countries have ulterior motives when they yell global warming. Primarily looking for re-distribution of wealth.

Posted by rlm328 | Report as abusive
 

IF you bother to learn anything about climate change, you will know that the change is going to be faster once it begins due to permafrost melting and releasing methane, among lots of other factors. acidification of the ocean seems to be even more dangerous than the temperature rise. I don’t think we would fare very well if we were to disrupt the ecosystem of the largest area of the planet, do you?

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive
 

Today was colder than normal – literal proof that global warming is a made up thing by Democrats, hippies and gays. Anyone know how to enable the sarcasm font?

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive
 

I actually had a mental image of these guys periodically getting up from their chair, and running around the room in circles, with their hands flailing in the air, as they wrote this.

So I guess we are now tying the direct blame of specific storms, to specific nations? LOL

Still waiting to have somebody explain to me how it is that the PPM C02 count in past eras was in the thousands, and nothing significant happened… but a count today of just 300+, is allegedly spelling our doom. Also still waiting to hear how it is that water vapor, which comprises 90+% of the greenhouse effect, is something that nobody seems to care about, or even mention… while 1/4 of a percent of man-made C02 is supposedly going to change the world.

Posted by dd606 | Report as abusive
 

@dd606
“Still waiting to have somebody explain to me how…”

Every action has a consequence. If we emit extensive amounts of varied chemicals into the atmosphere and cut the trees down on a mass scale; it greatly changes the chemical composition of OUR atmosphere that was initially balanced to sustain life on Earth. CO2 emissions is one cause of many with regards to Rapid Accelerated Climate Change.

Truth be known, the largest contributing factor to RACC is the over abundance of man-made electro-magnetic energy in every level of OUR atmospheres and beyond.
The over abundance of man-made EME is distorting the “natural” flow of EME (from OUR Sun), literally electrifying the atmosphere and decreasing the electro-magnetic field that surrounds and protects OUR fragile Earth.

So the electro-magnetic field is weakened, the ozone layer is depleted and the atmosphere is unable to correct these maladies due to it’s “unbalanced condition.

Currently, because of OUR planets weakened condition flash droughts, floods, storms, earthquakes…… mass amphibian, fish (minnows-whales), bird, bat, bee…die-offs are occurring every time there is Earth directed solar activity.
Given a short time (with the ever increasing man-made EME), as OUR electro-magnetic field continues to weaken, humans will become victim and will be unable to stand due to electrolyte failure, as is the primary cause of the other species die-offs. We won’t be able to stand! Get a mental image of that.

The “Good News” is that we have the resolve (innovation) to correct OUR RACC condition and to jump start the economy at the same time.
If only there was Peace on Earth; and the oil and other industries (and political factions) would stop suppressing the technology that Will enable us to evolve beyond the RACC threat to humanity.

God Love us All.
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive
 

Agreed you need to learn about global warming not just be a shill to the special interest groups on either side. The Vostock Ice COres cover 400,000 years of climate change over the last 4 glaciation cycles.

If you read the works by:

“Hubertus Fischer, Martin Wahlen, Jesse Smith, Derek Mastroianni, Bruce Deck”

You will see that CO2 concentrations continued to increase even after glaciation had recommenced. The CO2 increases have been connected to the increase in life forms as more and more area became inhabitable to larger numbers of fauna.

Posted by rlm328 | Report as abusive
 

@Lovetwo, Just because something makes perfect sense and seems quite logical does not mean it is true or factual. Remember, bumble bees CAN fly.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

As I understand it the intensity of storm that hit the Philippines is quite common in the area. It’s just that this time it happened to hit the islands rather than out at sea. It was probably somewhat unusual for one to make a direct impact on the islands, but in all likelihood this has happened before, so in the greater scheme of things it is not that unusual. What is different is the number of people around and the amount of coverage these things are getting.

Posted by Calfri | Report as abusive
 

@tmc

As one example of how man-made EME inflicts death: It is very predictable that in a few weeks on New Years 2014, when everyone uses their cell phones to call, in some areas birds will drop dead out of the sky due to electrolyte failure as has been the case for the last few New Years. In these same areas bee keepers will note that their bees have dropped dead for the same reason. You can count on this one example.
There are many other examples of mass species die-offs related to the over abundance of Man-made EME.

We live in a cause and effect world where every action has a consequence. Humans are not benign exception to this rule.

True and factual.

As I stated:
The “Good News” is that we have the resolve (innovation) to correct OUR RACC condition and to jump start the economy at the same time.
If only there was Peace on Earth; and the oil and other industries (and political factions) would stop suppressing the technology that Will enable us to evolve beyond the RACC threat to humanity.

God Love us All.
Omega

BTW when “something makes perfect sense and seems quite logical” and you don’t believe your own sensibilities; you are lying to yourself, in this case at the peril of the planet that sustains you.
Denial: Psychology An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.

Species are dying a mass world wide.
People, due to adverse weather are dying a mass.
This is true and factual.

Any other questions?

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive
 

“As the planet warms and the international community slows in their response to climate change, these “super typhoons” will only become more common and more severe. Scientists believe that storms like Haiyan will come to represent the norm for typhoons and hurricanes.”

And yet, neither is the case. The data shows that surface temperatures have not risen in at least a decade, and that there’s no statistical increase in the frequency or severity of typhoons and hurricanes. You’d never know it from the media’s coverage of the issue, which routinely cherry-picks the available data, and ignores any which doesn’t fit their preferred narrative.

Posted by Yashmak | Report as abusive
 

@Lovetwo, I can’t seem to find any information on cell phones killing birds any where. Could you provide links?
Nor on Bees. But here is a very reputable TED talk on the Bees. You’ll find it interesting I’m sure. http://www.ted.com/talks/marla_spivak_wh y_bees_are_disappearing.html
Global warming has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry. So as with any industry I ensure I listen to all sides as every story has at least two and the truth lies somewhere in-between. I believe the climate is changing, but why and how severely is still not clear.
Thanks for your comment though.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

@tmc

Re: Birds dropping from the sky, dead. Wait for it.

The real question is: Who Will Stand?.. Evidently it won’t be you.

Enjoy, in the near future, being on your back paralyzed due to electrolyte failure.
And it may make you happy to hear that children Will be most affected.

Again, enjoy.

Like it; Or not “The Wrath” is on.

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive
 

BTW tmc when 1% of sociopath oil company (a multi-billion dollar industry) paid scientist disagree; vs 99% of consciences scientist agree that RACC is a threat to humanity, this hardy equate to “both sides”.

Lying to yourself again? Do the math and figure it out.

And thank you for your comments.

God bless you All.

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive
 

I had hoped to help you All, with the innovation (“God’s Gift To Humanity”; “The Great Work”) to overcome this major threat to humanity, however my “democratic” government has threatened to arrest me if I pursue this constitutional right.

Signed,
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive
 

Yashmak, you are quite simply wrong.
If you take the time to look at NOAA data: All of the top ten warmest years in the record have occurred since the last major El Niño event, in 1998.
The global 2012 surface temperature ranked among the top 10 warmest years on record. Over land and ocean combined, 2012 was between 0.14° and 0.17° Celsius (0.25°and 0.31° Fahrenheit) above the 1981–2010 average, depending on the analysis. The globally averaged annual temperature over land was 0.24°–0.29°C (0.43°-0.52°F) above average. And averaged globally, the 2012 ocean temperature was 0.10°–0.14°C (0.18°-0.25°F) above average.

Posted by Andvari | Report as abusive
 

dd606 and rlm328 and other deniers,
If you are talking about the Ordovician-Silurian levels:

Recent research has uncovered evidence for lower ocean temperatures during the Ordovician than previously thought, creating ideal conditions for a huge spurt in marine biodiversity and correspondingly large drawdown of CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon burial in the ocean. A period of mountain-building was also underway (the so-called Taconic orogeny) increasing the amount of rock weathering taking place and subsequently lowering CO2 levels even further. The evidence is definitely there for a short-term disruption of the carbon cycle.

Widespread indeed is the notion that very high CO2 in geologic past coincided with glaciation and that somehow negates today’s relatively paltry 370 ppm CO2.

Ordovician CO2 over 4000 ppm and glaciation proves CO2 doesn’t matter! Nope: Look at the distribution of continental landmasses of the Ordovician (~450 MY). Those “glaciers” were the south-polar ice cap.

CO2 variation is natural! Sure, there are natural cycles. But something very important and very obvious changed over the geologic time scales involved that makes such simple comparison irrelevant: Plants. Lots of plants. Gymnosperms (conifers etc) originated in the late Devonian-early Carboniferous (380-300 Mya) and angiosperms (flowering plants) in the Cretaceous (100 Mya). All that carbon in the Carboniferous coalbeds? Dead plants that took CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Posted by Andvari | Report as abusive
 

Andvari

I do not see where looking at actual imperical data of the last 400,000 years and what it actual shows of the climatic ups and downs can be defined as denial. The Ordovician time period you are speaking of is 1000 times older than the Holocene which we are in now. The Ordovician saw a lot of volacaniztion thus the extremely high CO2 as compared to now.

The earth goes through glaciation cycles with a duration of approximately 100,000 years. The warming trend is normally about 5,000 years long. We happen to be in an unusually long warming period that has lasted about 10,000 years so far. If you look at the warming and cooling trends the change from one to the other is rather abrupt over a matter of a few hundred years.

Posted by rlm328 | Report as abusive
 

I guess the authors do not read the IPCC reports. It is acknowledged that these weather events are not related to any kind of global climate change. And a simple check of the records reveals that the recent typhoon was not abnormally large, or even the largest. Despite what folks will say, there has been no warming for the past 15 years as measured by satellites, and even the “warming” climate scientists are now predicting that the current “pause” in warming will probably continue until the 2030s or so – the sun is entering a solar minimum cycle.

But these are facts, and don’t make a difference to those who are in the grip of “climate” religious fervor. Yep, it is true, these “scientists” have turned their concepts into a religion, and thus are no longer practicing science, in my opinion. Therefore their predictions are worthless. I think Galileo proved that science and religion don’t mix well, but people seem to forget it all the time.

This whole hysteria over man made global warming is the product of faulty computer models that cannot even reliably account for the past century of actual data, much less predict into the future.

Let us hope that global warming is real; global cooling would likely cost at least a billion lives due to starvation, as the breadbaskets of the world get too cold to produce well.

At any rate, there is nothing that can be done that would work, according to these same computer models. The suggested changes would devastate the world economy for a theoretical return of less than .01 percent reduction of the projected warming. That means billions of people would have poorer lives because they cannot live in a more developed society. If these theories are true, then funds need to be turned to mitigation.

Posted by stevedebi | Report as abusive
 

@stevedebi, it’s not religion, it’s an industry. No scientist can get grants without being tied to global warming. If they denounce it, no more money. Simple as that. So you are right. We can’t trust any of the information anymore. We’ll just have to wait and see and ignored all the scientist and media hype.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

@stevedebi “Let us hope that global warming is real; global cooling would likely cost at least a billion lives due to starvation, as the breadbaskets of the world get too cold to produce well.

Apparently you know little on the subject, so I will teach you.

Rapid Accelerated Climate Change has many causes and many related effects.

One of the effects is a widening of temperature differentials.

What this means is that the temperatures around the world are getting warmer and colder simultaneously.

This effect of warmer and colder air fronts is what causes more intensified storms, be it hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, straight line winds, thunderstorms…

As the years past these temperature differentials are consistently becoming wider. Increasingly warmer fronts and colder fronts clashing = ever increasing storm intensification season to season, hence RACC.

So yes, billions could die soon, by heat/ freeze and starvation due to crop failure.

As I said there are many causes and effects related to RACC. Widening temperature differentials is one.

You are wrong. The technology is available in every industry to remedy the problem with more then 98% efficiency with the use of quantum physics/ mechanics. It’s called The Model of The Theory of Everything and it was discovered in 2009.

Although the “Wrath” is on, Our Earth can still repair itself (given reconciliation) with the full commercial use of technology (revealed in the model of ToE) that is 98+% more energy efficient then what we use today.

Oil companies… and associated governments are suppressing the technology.

Do you understand?

Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive
 

Climate change always brings out very emotional arguments as we can see here too.
I don’t even dare to dive in, most of all since I do not have the necessary factual knowledge about it.
But the climate, or other environmental changes, negative events for example “Lovetwo” made references to are only parts of the whole picture.
Even if we totally forget about climate, the environment we see how the global crisis is spreading everywhere, involving every facet of human life from economics to financial institutions, from social inequality, social tensions, unemployment to education, health services, culture, including classical sciences, the family structure and so on. And these are systems, structures we ourselves built, still today we are standing helplessly as they slip through our fingers.
We are living and excessive, unnatural life within a closed and finite natural system.
We stubbornly try to maintain “free”, “individual” lifestyle, polarized worldview while we evolved into a global and integral human network.
Whether we want or not something will have to give.
And since we are simply parts of the vast natural system we evolved from and still exist in only we can change the system will not.
And here no technology, invention can help us until we change the human being itself.

Posted by ZGHerm | Report as abusive
 

Pretty well said @ZGHerm. I think we have front row seats to the largest evolutionary change in mankind’s history, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

“As one example of how man-made EME inflicts death: It is very predictable that in a few weeks on New Years 2014, when everyone uses their cell phones to call, in some areas birds will drop dead out of the sky due to electrolyte failure as has been the case for the last few New Years.”

Up-date.

http://beforeitsnews.com/mass-animal-dea th/2014/01/18-million-birds-dead-in-arka nsas-what-caused-this-extinction-event-p icture-2432310.html

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •