A Shot Heard ‘Round the World

James Hansen

Image via Wikipedia


I just returned from a presentation at the University of Oregon’s Law Center given by James Hansen, head of Nasa’s Goddard Institute forSpace Studies in New York City. Hansen has been dubbed the ‘Grandfather of Global Warming’ though he demurs the moniker. He shows pictures of his Grandkids and says that the title is at least half right but that there have been plenty of others who have previously warned of human influenced climate change or anthropogenic global warming (AGW), often referred to informally as just global warming.

It was a very interesting talk and Dr. Hansen presented very clear and concise data gathered from recent and historical climatology studies (many 538ers have heard me make some of these points before but they bear repeating). Warming and cooling IS anatural phenomenon. The problem has to do with scale and time. Prior to the industrial revolution warming or cooling took place at an infinitesimal rates spanning hundreds of centuries allowing for life on earth to adapt. The amount of natural carbon released in the atmosphere was .0001 parts per million (ppm) annually. Post industrial revolution and the massive increase in use of fossil fuels combined with exponential population growth and technological advancement and we now release 2 ppm/year. That’s a 10,000 times faster than natural change.

Why is that problematic (I ask rhetorically)? Because it pushes us towards a tipping point of catastrophic failure. It also means that there are considerable warming consequences already in the pipeline. Our atmosphere can only realistically tolerate 350 ppm total in any given moment. We are currently at 389 ppm and rising. And there is no shortage of fossil fuels (about half the oil is gone, but there is plenty of coal and natural gas left).

The effects are already evident. The arctic ice cap will be gone in a few decades. Glaciers have retreated far too rapidly. Greenland’s ice cap is diminishing rapidly and the Antarctic ice shelf is breaking off in greater succession. Add to this the frozen methane hydrates being released by the melting of permafrost in the arctic tundra and you have a cocktail of disaster waiting to happen. Climate zones are already shifting northward at 35 miles per year.

But enough of the doom and gloom. The key political problem is the knowledge gap between what is understood by science and what is known by the public. This allows for false conjecture of climate change deniers. And the denial extends from a selfish adherence to unbridled capitalistic beliefs (this is an argument I’ll wade into in a later article).

If the public understood the science better they would appreciate the consequences of their behaviours or their complicity in the actions of the whole system. This is why Al Gore won so many awards for ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. He uncomplicated the science. I urge anyone and everyone to check it out for yourself. Do a Wikipedia search on climate change for a good summary. Here are a couple of other related places.



I don’t entirely agree with Dr. Hansen’s solution (also for a later debate) but I do agree that drastic steps need to be taken. The good news is that there are many people, organizations, and even nations doing so. In particular: China. China has far more people than we do yet we emit 10 times more carbon per capita than they do.

This is a shot across the bow that we need to heed. The window of opportunity to avoid the deleterious effects of climate change will not remain open for long. You owe it to yourself to find out all you can about AGW. More to the point, you owe it to my Grandchildren.

About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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27 Responses to A Shot Heard ‘Round the World

  1. filistro says:

    For all those pious Republicans among us… would you perhaps be able to understand what Mr U is saying if we translated it into Bible verses?Like, for instance, Jeremiah 2:7And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. Or, even more apropos of the times we live in… Isaiah 24:4-64: The earth mourns and withers, the world fades and withers, the exalted of the people of the earth fade away.5: The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant.6: Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.

  2. shiloh says:

    “Then the Lord God placed man in the Garden of Eden to Cultivate it and Guard it and Keep it” ~ Genesis 2:15″Lord God Almighty, who is and who was! We thank you that you have taken your great power and have begun to rule! … The time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth!” ~ Revelation 11:17,18~~~~~So it shall be written, so it shall be done! …>and Bartles, take solace knowing God is also a loving and forgiving Creator! for those who error in their righteousness!

  3. GROG says:

    James Hansen was exposed as a GW fraud several years ago. His extremely lucrative, tax payer funded livelihood depends on perpetrating the fraud, exagerating the data, and flat out lying.

  4. shiloh says:

    err not error ~ did I mention god is forgiving.

  5. shiloh says:

    grog thanx for sharing and for giving us source reference verifiable/certifiable evidence re: your opinion.A convincing argument to be sure …take care

  6. GROG says:

    Plenty of data in this article which is just one of many.http://www.rangemagazine.com/features/summer-10/su10-range-climate_fraud.pdf

  7. shiloh says:

    grog life is full of data, but doesn’t mean any of it is true or applicable to said discussion.And if you’re too lazy to post what is contained in your link as evidence, then I’ll reciprocate by being too lazy to read any of it …take care

  8. Realist says:

    Dr. Michael S. Coffman is an anti-environmentalist who has consistently spoken out against government involvement in any environmental actions.He worked in a lobbying role for the paper industry.From an online bio: “Dr. Coffman is currently President of Environmental Perspectives, Inc. (EPI), and Executive Director of Sovereignty International. EPI focuses on providing professional guidance and training in defining environmental problems and solutions based on Judeo-Christian principles of stewardship as contrasted with pantheistically-based environmentalism.”Currently, he publishes “Discerning the Times Digest, a highly focused monthly newsletter designed to help busy Christians understand world events as related to the Bible and their Christian lives.” (quote from the same bio)Hardly someone I’d consider to be any less biased than GROG claims James Hanson to be.

  9. GROG says:

    Biased why? Because he believes in God or because he worked in the private sector?

  10. mclever says:

    No, GROG, because the other of your article obviously wears his agenda on his sleeve.I read Dr. Coffman’s article and found it to be filled with distortions of how scientific evidence is gathered, analyzed, and presented. Several of his charts were blatant misrepresentations. Just like most climate change deniers, he’s taken slices of apparently damning evidence out of context and presented them in isolation. You can find the counter-evidence as nasa.gov and even Wikipedia. So, I didn’t find his “debunking” very convincing. Sorry.Got someone else, more scientifically credible?

  11. mclever says:

    “other” = “author” in my previous post… Grr, no delete/edit!

  12. GROG says:

    @mclever,Hansen’s entire body of work “filled with distortions of how scientific evidence is gathered”. Got someone else, more scientifically credible?

  13. shrinkers says:

    So, on the one hand are scientists. On the other we have people basing their view of the environment “on Judeo-Christian principles of stewardship as contrasted with pantheistically-based environmentalism.”Sorry, I’m going with the scientists. GROG, your guy’s not credible because he assumes scientific questions can and should be answered by an application of his religious principles. This forces him to distort the facts, and makes him incapable of objectively evaluating them.

  14. mclever says:

    I suggested NASA:climate.nasa.govNASA EvidenceNASA GCMDYou can follow the footnotes on any of these links for the actual science behind the overview.I also suggested Wikipedia as a good launching site.Wiki: Scientific Opinion on Climate ChangeThe Wikipedia article provides several links to scientific communities around the world and their current research into global climate change. Have fun perusing them.Or you can look at peer-reviewed scientific information from these sites:Ritter’s Introduction to Physical Geographyhttp://www.environment.nsw.gov.auPublished articles at solutions-siteI apologize if any of my hrefs get broken in my hurried post…:-)

  15. GROG says:

    “This forces him to distort the facts, and makes him incapable of objectively evaluating them.“And Hansen’s government subsidized wealth makes him incapable of objectively evaluating the facts.

  16. Mule Rider says:

    “The good news is that there are many people, organizations, and even nations doing so. In particular: China. China has far more people than we do yet we emit 10 times more carbon per capita than they do.”This is very misleading and illustrates right way the author has very little understanding of the correlation between carbon emissions and economic development. China emits 1/10th of the carbon we do NOT because they are environmentally conscious but because their economy is still far less developed than ours.In other words, it’s not for lack of effort. Their economy is rapidly growing and they will not be so welcoming of calls for restraint on that growth and development just for the sake of reducing carbon emissions.

  17. shortchain says:

    GROG,I skimmed the “evidence” you provided. Odd that such important information, if factual, would be published in an obscure, third-rate magazine dedicated, apparently, to life on the “range” — and, we note, entirely free from anything remotely approaching peer review, which would catch a few of the falsehoods printed in it.For one thing, McKitrick’s paper has been debunked over and over, yet Coffman simply quotes it as gospel. For another Coffman cites Phil Jones as admitting that “no statistical warming has been seen since 1995”. Only problem is that that is a blatant, open lie. Or, for more background, see here.

  18. shrinkers says:

    “This forces him to distort the facts, and makes him incapable of objectively evaluating them.”And Hansen’s government subsidized wealth makes him incapable of objectively evaluating the facts.The difference is that your fellow is attempting to make a religious point, not a scientific one. Hanson at least is actually following the rules of science, and has not decided his conclusions beforehand out of religious conviction.The science of global climate disruption is absolutely sound. The religious conviction of the deniers is not in doubt. The problem is when science is deemed as subservient to religion, as Coffman intends. That, unavoidably, produces false results.Hanson is peer-reviewed, and any errors (intentional or not) are corrected over time through the scientific method. Coffman is preaching to an echo chamber, in which the errors (intentional or not) are reinforced and magnified.

  19. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    China will run out of domestic coal <40 yrs at their present rate of consumption (3x US). Their rate of consumption is increasing. They know this. That is why they are simultaneously developing the largest wind and solar programs on earth. Their investment is greater than all other countries combined. Coal will develop China, while wind and solar from China will leap frog their economy past the west. The pieces are in place. Institutionalized western economies missed the boat. It sailed approximately 6 yr ago and we had a 3-5 decade warning depending on who you cite. The ~18% global GDP derived from producing heat and power from coal, oil, and natural gas will slowly shift from western economies into China. China will be a net exporter of energy, allowing them to command the global economy.China Development Bank recently loaned 9 billion US to one single solar company to expand from about 2.3 pGW/yr to ~4 GW/yr. What was the total US investment in PV in 2009? In ~3 years, this one company will be producing the equivalent of 4 nuclear reactors each year. How long does it take to build a conventional nuclear plant? How long does it take to build a modern IGCC fossil fuel plant? By 2015 China will be shipping panels for <$1/pW. Global production is ~12-14 pGW/yr and growing in excess of 30% annually. Today solar output is equivalent of 12-14 large nuclear reactors worth of peak power each year at about $1.34/W today. This power production will run virtually maintenance free for 20-30 yr with a net output exceeding 85% of nameplate after that time.IMO, green energy has never been about AGW or peak fossil fuel theory. Its about economics. It’s about the largest industry on earth, resisting the inevitable. The next decade will be described by the reactionary policy of the west, particularly the US, in response to cheap, foreign clean energy. Either that or we’ll slap tariffs on Chinese PV (see house legislation) and keep burning our infinite reserves of low quality coal to our own economic and environmental detriment. LOL.

  20. shiloh says:

    @Eusebio DunkleEusebio, please don’t tell Bartles, Jeffrey, grog et al that China is a Socialist country as their heads may explode!

  21. shiloh says:

    Eusebio, don’t tell Bartles, Jeffrey, grog and other trolls that China is a Socialist country as their heads may explode!

  22. Mule Rider says:

    No offense, Eusebio, but you don’t strike me as someone with a very strong grasp on reality or who knows very much about what he’s talking about.

  23. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    @ MR.That’s fine. In fact, its my favored position. Out of curiosity, is it my style, the facts of the present state of energy, or my predictions that reflect poorly on my sanity?

  24. Realist says:

    It seems to me that Eusebio’s analysis of China’s energy policy is in line with their behavior.The highly centralized control over the economy makes it much easier for them to do this. Not that I endorse the Chinese government model; it just happens to be advantageous in this one area.

  25. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    I was not implicitly endorsing a command economy either, but these are the realities of global competition. Look at the Chinese roll out of high speed rail to see a successful blueprint.There is nothing really provocative about the rise of solar or wind. In fact, it’s remarkable how reliably cost projections have materialized. Maybe the most provocative reality is how neglected solar remains in the mainstream (business, public, investment communities) despite these fast approaching inevitabilities.

  26. shortchain says:

    I agree. Eusebio’s data appears to me to be in line with what I’ve read of China’s recent actions and apparent policies.

  27. shiloh says:

    Don’t anyone tell Bart/Jeffrey et al China is a Socialist country …

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