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Sat Jul 21, 2012, 08:41 AM

Rolling Stone: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math


Global Warming's Terrifying New Math
Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe - and that make clear who the real enemy is

By Bill McKibben
July 19, 2012 9:35 AM ET


If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven't convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the "largest temperature departure from average of any season on record." The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet's history.


Not that our leaders seemed to notice. Last month the world's nations, meeting in Rio for the 20th-anniversary reprise of a massive 1992 environmental summit, accomplished nothing. Unlike George H.W. Bush, who flew in for the first conclave, Barack Obama didn't even attend. It was "a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago," the British journalist George Monbiot wrote; no one paid it much attention, footsteps echoing through the halls "once thronged by multitudes." Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I've spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.

When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn't yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless position with three simple numbers.

more...

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 09:41 AM

1. Great article. K&R

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Response to cyberswede (Reply #1)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 09:47 AM

2. Excellent article

One question - how does anyone know how many stars are in the universe?

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:20 AM

3. The ignorance in the comments section is astounding. nt

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Response to Mnemosyne (Reply #3)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 11:10 AM

5. The nutters are out in force in the comments section. That tells me

that the corporations are and are increasing their supply of operatives.

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Response to truth2power (Reply #5)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 11:24 AM

6. Not all deniers are corporate operatives

To quote George Monbiot: "The vast majority of people who believe {the deniers' claims} have not been paid. They have been duped".

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Response to truth2power (Reply #5)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 07:53 PM

14. That was seriously stomach churning. I actually hope it is paid posters, would hate to know

there are really that many hateful people out there.

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Response to Mnemosyne (Reply #14)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:10 PM

15. I was about to say something similar to the poster above. I can't believe

there are that many people who are that stupid.



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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 11:00 AM

4. It's too late

In all honesty it's probably too late to do anything. GHG levels are already close to the point of no return, at least for most of the ice sheets. Unfortunately most of us reading this will not be around to see the fruits of our folly.

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Response to modrepub (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 02:45 PM

10. "most of us reading this will not be around to see the fruits of our folly."

but my sons will.
Fortunately, they wisely, years and years ago, made a firm decision to not have children.

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Response to modrepub (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 02:54 PM

11. I think many of us will see a lot of the destruction.

It is too late.

I think things are going to compound much faster and harsher than the models point out. We're seeing everything already manifest, but in a more damaging rate than even our worst models predicted. The problem is worse than they predicted, not good.

It is simply too late. The money tied into the cause of the problem can not be overcome. Period.

A mass die off from the changing planet will be the only thing that will stop it. By then it will be far too late.

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Response to obxhead (Reply #11)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 05:00 PM

12. "The earth is an organism, and that organism has a skin; that skin has diseases...

...and one of these diseases is man." -- Nietzsche

We are so far beyond fucked now that the light from fucked won't reach us for 10,000 years. -- Roseanne Barr





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Response to alterfurz (Reply #12)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 05:10 PM

13. That second cartoon explains my argument for the last 15 years.

Even if we find that everything we do won't change it at least we'll have clean air. It can't possibly hurt to clean up the air.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 11:32 AM

7. It's all about the money



If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn't pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet. John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan who now runs the Capital Institute, calculates that at today's market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you'd be writing off $20 trillion in assets. The numbers aren't exact, of course, but that carbon bubble makes the housing bubble look small by comparison. It won't necessarily burst we might well burn all that carbon, in which case investors will do fine. But if we do, the planet will crater. You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet but now that we know the numbers, it looks like you can't have both. Do the math: 2,795 is five times 565. That's how the story ends.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 12:51 PM

8. I read this earlier in the week. Very well done article. Thanks for posting it. nt

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 01:06 PM

9. no longer any place for denial and yet big energy pays for bad info to be spread



I had a debate w/ somebody last week who told me that man made climate change
was a hoax ..... mice guy be he goes to a fundy church where the pastor tells the
people that if you believe in global warming you aren'e "good with God"

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 02:06 AM

16. k&r n/t

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