Streams

Environmentalism in the 112th Congress

Monday, November 29, 2010

With the state of the economy dominating the political agenda, and Congress divided along party lines, many are concerned that environmental legislation will be put aside. Darren Samuelsohn, senior energy and environment reporter for PoliticoOrrin Pilkey, Professor Emeritus of Geology at Duke University, and Gary Gero, president of the Climate Action Reserve, discuss the prospects for environmentalism in the 112th Congress. 

Guests:

Gary Gero, Orrin Pilkey and Darren Samuelsohn

Comments [29]

geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

Hate when this happens:

http://www.thelocal.se/30516/20101130/

Nov. 30 2010 09:00 PM
g.e.Taylor from Bklyn., NY

I hate having to answer my own questions;
OTOH, if you want to have something done, it's best to do it yourself (or something like that):

http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/39313.html
" . . . Higher sea level: Measured at tidal gauges in New York Harbor, sea level today is more than 15 inches higher than it was 150 years ago. Some of this change is due to geological forces. The remainder comes from the expansion of ocean water as it warms, and from the melting of glaciers and polar ice sheets.
"With so many forces at work, it is difficult to predict future sea level rise. Instead, scientists offer a range of possible levels, depending in part on whether CO2 emissions are stabilized or continue to increase. By mid-century, a conservative projection puts global sea level between 2.5 and 13 inches higher than today. By the end of the century, scientists estimate a rise of between 4 and 33 inches, or even higher if glaciers and ice sheets melt more rapidly than projected. . . . "

(cards on the table - I'm a skeptic as to the policy demands of the global warming alarmists and the know-nothing deniers: as to the former,
see: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFLDE6AL0YT20101122?sp=true )

It seems that the historical record supports an expectation of a sea level rise of 1 inch per decade.

We have time.

Nov. 29 2010 10:58 PM
g.e.Taylor from Bklyn., NY

Still waiting for that status report on the sea level in New York Harbor - meanwhile:

I want to second the suggestion that we take note of the historical example of the Great Wall of the Chinese; not only did that wall create jobs and subsidize the cement industry, which enabled it to exist today, it also protected the Chinese from the rising oceans and the invasion of foreign powers.
I suggest we learn another lesson from the wise Chinese and build a Terracotta Army to defend our country without the tragic loss of life we now endure.

Nov. 29 2010 09:04 PM

Wow, that first caller was really pathetic. He lives in an epistemically closed world.

Nov. 29 2010 06:40 PM
Dave from Piscataway

Two points:

1) Even if climate change's effects are minimal on humanity, I don't know why people don't argue more for fossil fuel alternatives on simply strategic grounds: we are largely dependent on politically unfriendly regions of the world for our energy needs (i.e. Venezuela) or on damaging methods of resource extraction (i.e. Gulf oil spill, mountaintop removal).

2) While a carbon tax (cap/trade) would indeed increase the price of energy, that money does not disappear into a void. That money can be used to diminish, say, income tax burden. The main idea is to price a cost that is already being shared by society (namely, air pollution). As a result, this system would reward innovators and businesses that operate more cleanly/efficiently. Isn't this what we as a country need to do: push innovation to make a better tomorrow?

Nov. 29 2010 04:50 PM
g.e.Taylor from Bklyn., NY


Also, of possible interest:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth

Nov. 29 2010 01:39 PM
Patrick from NJ

A point which Orrin Pilkey made, in his response to the caller who doubts the reality of human caused climate change, was that it does not matter what the cause is because it is indisputable that sea level rise is happening and will continue throughout the 21st century. While I do not doubt that sea level rise will continue the fact that it is human caused is the whole point. For a civil engineer it does not matter, in the short run, but in the long run in so far as the predictions being made regarding sea level rise and other impacts which will ultimately be more important, it does very much matter what the causality is. Knowing the human causality implies two things: One the ability to confidently predict climate change impacts, and Two the ability to do something to halt those impacts.

For my own part I am satisfied that the statements of the NAS, the AAAS, the American Inst. of Physics, the Geophysical Society, the Royal Society, and every professional scientific organization worth its salt, that human activities are having and will have a harmful effect on the worlds climate, are trustworthy. The conclusion that we should act to replace the fossil fuel technologies which are the cause of the problem seems self evident.

I do hope that Mr Leher will do follow up on this most important and interesting topic.

Nov. 29 2010 01:31 PM
g.e.Taylor from Bklyn., NY

Can someone please tell me how much the sea level has risen in New York Harbor over the last 25 or 50 or 100 years?
If no one can, when will a measurable increase be observable?
If neither of those questions are answerable, what is the justification for the carbon footprint being generated by broadcasting, web-casting on this topic?

For those of "Little Faith":
http://io9.com/5464810/the-earth-revolves-around-the-sun--prove-it

"Science" is not a democracy - while the widest participation can be argued for, the validity of its discovered "knowledge" is not determined by a majority vote, The "science" of the earth revolving around the sun was settled long before it was the popular, or even majority, point of view.

Nov. 29 2010 01:23 PM
The Great Wall - from U.S.


A couple thousand years ago, China
started building a wall that would
surround their country. Hundreds of miles
of it was built - in 10 years - with a population a fraction of the current U.S. population - and without the availability of modern technology.

Are you saying that in 80 - 90 years, the
U.S. can't build an equivalent sea wall
(or perhaps a few concentric sea walls
say 20 feet high) ? Perhaps, people who
are fortunate and wealthy enough to be able to own sea front property should be taxed a little bit every year on their property to pay for it.

While we are building this U.S. Great Wall -
and renewing our ability to do large scale
construction, improving our construction technology, increasing employment and stimulating our economy - we could also
simultaneously build extensive TIDAL
and WAVE power generation infrastructure
(since much of the cost is merely building a sea wall with a channel to suspend the turbines or to mount the springs for wave power). This would supply green energy that would make us largely independent
from foreign energy sources.

When the delegates come back from their
comfortably warm beachfront resort conference location of Cancun, perhaps
cooler heads will prevail in the cold winters of Washington and elsewhere and we
will focus on solving the consequences of
global warming - something we can directly
control - and that will provide direct and immediate benefit to our economy without depending on the good will of strangers.

U.S. : Build our Great Wall.

(Some typos from the previous posting have been corrected here).

Nov. 29 2010 12:35 PM
The Great Wall from US


A couple thousand years ago, China
started building a wall that would
surround their country. Hundreds of mile
of it was built in 10 years with a population
a fraction of the current U.S. population and without the availability of modern technology.

Are you saying that in 80 - 90 years the
U.S. can't build an equivalent sea wall
(or perhaps a few concentric sea walls
say 20 feet high) ? Perhaps, people who
are fortunate and wealthy enough to be able to own sea front property should be taxes a little bit every year on their property to pay for it.

While we are building this wall - and renewing our ability to do large scale
construction, improving our construction technology, increasing employment and stimulating our economy - we could also
simultaneously build extensive TIDAL
and WAVE power generation infrastructure
(since much of the cost is merely building the wall with a channel to suspend the turbines or to mount the springs for wave power). This would supply green energy that would make us largely independent
from foreign energy sources.

When the delegates come back from their
comfortably warm beachfront resort conference location of Cancun, perhaps
cooler heads will prevail in the cold winters of Washington and elsewhere and we
will focus on solving the consequences of
global warming - something we can directly
control - and that will provide direct and immediate benefit to our economy without depending on the good will of strangers.

U.S. : Build our Great Wall.

Nov. 29 2010 12:29 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ gary from queens -

1. _Sen Inhof(with and "e")'s website has a list of several hundred climatologists._ Several hundred out of several thousand. No wonder the pittance of a mere several hundred climate scientists that don't FULLY agree with climate change doesn't raise an eyebrow because they are part of that negligible 3% (many fossil fuel funded scientists). They are outliers.

2. _Peg from NY: the answer is that environmentalism has become a religion, with facts not phasing it. look at those stolen emails from GW scientists._ Typical refrain from the right wing; environmentalism has become a religion! Never mind that scientists can only report observable, repeatable data for the world to see, making your point a cultural one which has nothing to do with observed data reported by professional scientists. You can blame climate change on "wacko environmentalists," just as you can evolution and gravity.

3. If you don't know the science, then either do more research or defer to the experts; again, virtually all of which understand the observable facts that there is a correlation between human activity (GHG emissions) and the more rapid warming of our climate, thus climate change.

4. First of all, you realize that the measures used are in Centigrade (not F) and that even a stopping a 1/4 rise in global temperature increase is immense, although not enough to avoid the already occurring serious consequences.

Second of all, Kyoto was just an initial step in uniting a hodgepodge group of international countries with their various governmental bodies and rules to adopt some kind of coherent GHG emissions targets. Do you think in 100 years the "kyoto-level measures" would be the only ones deployed? Surely not as standards are being set higher in virtually all countries (even China and India, even though far below what would make a dramatic change) just as a the meeting on the Copenhagen round is being worked out in Mexico this week>

gary, you and the rest of the deniers are going to have a chance to test your theories against real science soon, and I can't wait for it to happen! Bully for you!

Nov. 29 2010 12:27 PM
Peg Kennedy from NY

To gary - See answer about climategate from 'amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night'. Climatologists and Oceanographers are not trying to hoax us. They are calmly trying to report results of their extensive studies. Check out U Cal television website for real scientists reporting real data from real studies for more information.

Nov. 29 2010 12:17 PM
Phil Henshaw from way uptown

The oddest of the oddities is that in all the disruptive blather there's a very unexpected ray of hope....

The deeper dilemma of climate change is people are doing nothing whatever about the main human contribution to it, our mysterious economic reliance on endless multiplying energy use. All the government led plans to halt climate change, devised by the "thinking people", include continuing to accelerate that main cause of the problem forever.

The "grain of hope" in the face of that bleak reality, oddly, is in the completely screwball dysfunctional belief systems of the new Republicans, who are effectively doing anything they can to throw a monkey wrench in the economic system, and seeming to succeed. It was, after all, throwing ever more money at the rich that caused the economic collapse, and that is still the favorite Republican cure for everything... That and their "anti-science" are almost the only practical things likely to actually shut down the economy's relentless growing destruction of habitat around the world, however. Granted, it's *less than ideal* to manage our impacts that way, in a kind of fit of frustration, making the economy sure to fail financially. But hey, that may be the level of strategy Gaia has found necessary with people turning out to be such a sorry bunch of self-delusionists we turned out to be... ;-)

see also:
http://synapse9.com/blog/2010/11/27/why-finance-has-a-bigger-appetite-than-the-earth/

Nov. 29 2010 12:07 PM
aaron from harlem

ocean acidification could turn out to be a far more serious problem than sea level rise. Increasing acidification means less productive oceans, which means far fewer fish and other marine resources.

Nov. 29 2010 11:35 AM
re

my brother-in-law is a skeptic, and I have had lengthy discussions with him. He believes that Gore is in cahoots to profit from carbon trading, and that the UN is suspect (he works at the UN). He looks to environmentalists to prove that global warming exists, before action is taken, and accepts without feeling the need to check up on the assertion that the science is flawed - he accepts the reports that have been floating around the net that 30,000 scientsts say global warming is a hoax - despite the fact that I can't easily find the names.

My point is that not that this is reasonable, but that this is what people think - this reality...

A question to your hosts: what are the sources of data that can be used to argue?

Nov. 29 2010 11:31 AM

Sometimes the counterpoint is ignorance and willfull denial of observable evidence. What if the topic was about proving that earth revolves around the sun? Would you demand reasoned debate on the opposite -- that actually the sun revolves around the earth. Welcome to the 12th century.

Nov. 29 2010 11:29 AM
gary from queens


1. Sen Inhof's website has a list of several hundred climatologists.

2. Peg from NY: the answer is that environmentalism has become a religion, with facts not phasing it. look at those stolen emails from GW scientists.

3. Most people don't really know the science, including me. That is why there requires continued debate, as opposed to strategizing-----as this segment on BL is only about.

4. For example, it has been determined by the UN that kyoto-level measures would have reduced the average global temp by only a quarter of a degree, after 100 years.

Nov. 29 2010 11:28 AM
superf88

Shouldn't conservatives just assume that if there is a chance that man has an effect, then we should act as if it is so?

Shouldn't businesspeople simply measure the risk according to the position of waterfront property insurance underwriters?

If this is a debate about what we should debate, then my comments seem to about cover it...

Nov. 29 2010 11:27 AM

That clip you played from the religious member of congress who beleives that global warming cannot be true because of his theological believes was so sad. Even if it is true that the world will not be destroyed by "god", then it is still possible that we'd have big problems caused by our own actions (pollution). Global warming scientists aren't warning of a biblical event; they're telling us about real, measurable phenomena happening right now.

Nov. 29 2010 11:27 AM
Nona Reuter from brooklyn

Okay so those people in Congress don't want to believe in Climate Change, maybe they should be paying attention to the pollution in the air and the sea which will be here for ages if we don't do something about it now. I just think the climate change issue is always argued as to who should pay for it, so people want to argue it away, but you cannot argue away the pollution issue.

Nov. 29 2010 11:27 AM
Douglas Bennett from East Harlem

There is for sure some who may have lost some confidence per what the caller is saying..but the truth is that most who reject climate change and progressive movements to prevent it are doing so based on their religious or political associations. Conservatives have anchored their voting base in the evangelical and conservative christian base. Just as the congressman from illinois quoted the bible for his political view base so do many who do not "buy into" climate change. It seems insane to me for people to reject efforts to protect the earth and its citizens based on the writings of ancient faith in the light of modern science. Maybe god wants us to take the initiative to save the earth from climate change...or maybe we don't have time to wait for miraculous intervention.

Nov. 29 2010 11:26 AM
michael from brooklyn

you know what? i'm just gonna build a boat and move inland. and just watch as all the moronic bible quoting disbelievers and their clueless offspring drown in the next century cause they don't want to hurt industry.

The earth changes, the plates move, poles melt and freeze, but you know what? we were nomadic before, and before that we we're around. so this is going to affect us and affect our children. It doesn't matter what you believe is the cause, it's happening and we have to do something about it. Hearing that congressman quoting the bible saying god will never flood us again made me sick.

Nov. 29 2010 11:26 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

30,000 "scientists", of whom virtually NONE are climate scientists (mainly engineers).

They don't count. PERIOD.

Report: 97 percent of scientists say man-made climate change is real
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/06/scientists-overwhelmingly-believe-in-man-made-climate-change/1

ALL 9 committees looking at the so-called "Climategate" debacle was exonerated the scientists. I guess laymen should learn a bit more about scientific jargon, such as "tricks." Get with it.

Nov. 29 2010 11:25 AM
rob@manhattan

he was reffering to oregon petition. which is a BS.

Nov. 29 2010 11:21 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

I can't believe the lies Faux News types are spreading

Nov. 29 2010 11:21 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ gary from queens -

Yes, legitimate question: Where are the "dissidents"? Oh yes, there are no credible dissidents.

Nov. 29 2010 11:19 AM
gary from queens

where are the Global warming dissidents?
Where is Sen James Inhof?
Where is the counterpoint on this show?
Is it solely about liberals and only their concerns and agenda?
Please dont remove this question again.
It's a legitimate question adressed to a publicly supported media station.

Nov. 29 2010 11:17 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

It's not just a Congress "unsympathetic" to the environment, it is one that is actively hostile towards science-based information on the grounds that it hurts the economy (without admitting that the economy itself is where life and the economy reside) and that the cultural aspects of the environment do not fit with the spirit of neo-Manifest Destiny currently espoused with conservative ideology (barbarism).

Bring the theologians to the scientific debate on the puffed up "Climategate" debate which is actually a best practices/PR debacle and not one of science at all. It will become the Scopes Monkey trial of the 21st Century pitting the deniers' doubts of science, in general, against real climate scientists - who actually MEASURE and OBSERVE - from around the world. Observation, data, facts will eventually trump this anti-science "denier" sentiment.

Nov. 29 2010 11:16 AM
Peg from NY

Why would 95%+ of climate scientists try to HOAX us? What would be their benefit in tricking us??????

Who would benefit from denial of climate change????

Nov. 29 2010 11:16 AM

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