Archive for 2016 October

How do we break the silence on climate?

Sam Wang, a pollster affiliated and professor at Princeton, who has a painful-but-no-doubt-true essay on why in these politically polarized times Donald Trump’s support does not flag no matter how outrageous his conduct in today’s Times also sent out an almost hilarious tweet today on a related subject:

Almost, of course, because despite great progress around the world in getting our arms around climate as a problem, including the Paris accord and impressive commitments to reduce emissions from China and even India, we have a presidential issue in which no one is talking about climate. Not even during the debates.

Andrew Revkin blogged about this at Dot Earth after the failure to ask a single question about climate during any of the debates, He cited research from a pollster affiliated with Yale showing that the failure to ask a single question about climate during the debates echoes the fact that people in this country don’t talk about climate much if at all.

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How will we change this pattern? Is it even possible?

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Earth will become like Mars: Discoverer of Global Warming

The great science reporter Andrew Revkin has been posting early newspaper stories about global warming (as we call it today). These stories go back a hundred years and more.

From his Twitter account, here’s an interesting example, featuring a talk given at a Midwestern college by the Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius, who first calculated the consequences of adding vast amounts of a trace gas, carbon dioxide, to the atmosphere.

In an Illinois paper focusing on a talk Arrhenius gave in May of 1911, the story is headlined:

EARTH LIKE MARS?

The subheadlines (characteristic of the era) read:

Dr. Arrhenius of Sweden says Change is Gradually Taking Place

WILL NOT SUSTAIN LIFE

However, It May be 10,000 Years or More Before Carbon Di-Oxide Is Exhausted. 

The first lines of the story (sent by a reader and excerpted by Revkin) read:

“That this earth will become like the planet Mars, incapable of sustaining life, was the prediction made by Dr. Svante A. Arrhenius, Stockholm, Sweden, in a lecture at Augustana college on the subject, “The Development of the Atmosphere of Planets,” Saturday night. Dr. Arrhenius, who won the Nobel prize in chemistry in l903 because of his electrolytical dissociation theory, is regarded as the world’s foremost authority on cosmogony.”

Arrhenius may have been too optimistic by 9795 years, argues Matt Davies, a Pulitizer Prize winning editorial cartoonist for Newsday.

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Baked Alaska

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From The New Yorker, of course, in today’s daily cartoon.

It’s worth noting that in earth’s long history yes, evidence of the existence of palm trees and other tropical plants living at the North Pole has been documented. A tropical Arctic existed for over a million years. Runaway global warming is not only possible, it’s already happened.

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