The story has recently broken through the MSM that we’ve reached 400 parts Per Million of carbon dioxide in Mister atmosphere. The thing we breathe. We’d hit the number before but we hadn’t stayed at it for a month the way we did in April. 400 is the new normal. 350 is so ‘last century’.
The story hit a number of mainstream websites including Huffington Post, but what’s missing in all the stories is why this matters. Depending on who you talk to in the science community, the planet hasn’t been at 400 since well before humans were here (perhaps several million years ago). And 400 PPM goes hand in hand with some other dire truths–the last time we had sustained rates of 400 PPM, sea level was a few dozen meters higher (Arctic ice was gone) and temperatures were upwards of 3c warmer on average. The heating has come tremendously fast, but the rest of the world’s mechanisms will ultimately catch up.
Moreover, there’s nobody in the science biz telling us we can shrink that 400 PPM anytime soon. Absent some amazing technology breakthrough, we’re stuck with that for centuries. And (saving the worst for last) there are precious few people in the science community coming out and saying what people like Guy McPherson have been saying for nearly a decade. Mainly, if we’re looking at 3c higher temperatures and much higher sea levels, we’re facing extinction of big mammals. Google ‘wet bulb temperature’, when heat is so intense in humid climates that people can’t cool off through sweating. That would be true of many other places in the planet. And what would happen to the fur-bearing mammals, who can’t thermo-regulate through sweat? Would they be eaten by the bus-sized reptiles that would thrive in such an environment?
but if 400 PPM is an extinction level number for humans, you wouldn’t know it per the NASA roundup of scientists. None of them lay out what we’re facing at these numbers. And none of the articles use the dreaded E word, either. Heck, they’re even shying away from ‘climate change’ these days. It’s like an old David Letterman Top Ten good things about Climate Change–“hotter babes, fewer clothes, No problem.”
And yet, we’re still using that ‘climate change’ phrase, something that was invented by a Republican strategist named Frank Luntz. Now why would the GOP want to invent a term like ‘Climate Change’? Because in 2002 (per Luntz’ polling) the Repubs were taking huge heat (pardon the pun) over their responsibility for global warming.
The memo, by the leading Republican consultant Frank Luntz, concedes the party has “lost the environmental communications battle” and urges its politicians to encourage the public in the view that there is no scientific consensus on the dangers of greenhouse gases. “The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science,” Mr Luntz writes in the memo, obtained by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based campaigning organisation. You can read the memo here. The key point is that Luntz uses the memo to call for the GOP to change the operative phrase for global warming to ‘climate change’. Focus groups found the latter much less frightening than the more ominous ‘global warming. And it worked–the non-Inhofe’s of the Republican party who were dealing with voters who believed changes were coming could retreat behind ‘climate change’. And it was perfect–“Of course climate is changing–it’s always changing! no big news there!”
But here’s the point of this whole flippin’ post. And it’s not about the total denialist folks I listed above. And it’s not about word play–‘climate change’ vs ‘global warming’ or even (seen recently) global climate collapse. If you’re a credentialed scientist and you understand the biology of the clever ape, why are you resorting to euphemisms? If you’re putting out a warning that global temperature is on track to go up past 3c over baseline, why aren’t you using the word ‘extinction’? If you picked an evolutionary biologist at random and woke him up late at night, he’d be furious. But then you’d ask the question–can humans (and human habitat) survive average temperatures that are higher than they’ve been at for at least three million years? And then you’d wait for the answer. And as long as the scientist was being honest with you (and not humoring you while he/she called 911), the variables do add up to extinction.
I leave you with news from Fukushima, where (as I’ve mentioned recently) the E word is becoming more and more appropriate. A recent video posted about the lack of honesty by the Japanese government carried the claim that an honest assessment of the radiation output from the plants starting back in 2011 would necessitate the evacuation of some 35 million Japanese from Tokyo. No government in the industrialized world has the capacity to evacuate that many people in an orderly fashion, and Japan’s already claustrophobic islands leave open the question ‘evacuate them where?’. Some reporters are now writing that the decision has been made to prevaricate and protect the status quo, even as the truth worms its way out. Since there’s no solution to Japan’s dilemma, what else would they do?
And is that the thought process behind the media’s willingness to not call out bad climate news as a portent for human extinction? If one accepts the idea that people in charge surely know what’s going on, is the goal here to avoid any news that is transparent and open about our flirtation with extinction?
Good night. Drive safe.