On Climate…Notables and Quotables

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A few of many memorable comments uttered over the past few weeks relative to climate change, admittedly unscientific and by no means all-inclusive.

The government requires industries to acquire enough permits to equal their emissions. Companies that need permits buy them, either from the government or on a commodity market, with the value set by supply and demand. Over time, the government reduces the cap and the number of permits, driving up their value.

“The system is intended to ensure that polluters reduce their emissions, but do it in a way that makes the most financial sense. A company might spend money to upgrade to more efficient equipment, for instance, if that is less expensive than buying permits at the market price at that time. The sale of permits also creates a flow of funds to reduce emissions in economic sectors not covered by the permit system, such as farming or forestry.”

  Justin Gillis front-page New York Times article, “A Price Tag on Carbon as Climate Rescue Plan,” explaining cap-and-trade and anticipating Monday, June 3, Obama administration proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

Once upon a time, it was possible to take climate change seriously while remaining a Republican in good standing. Today, listening to climate scientists gets you excommunicated.”

  New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman in “Points of No Return,” May 16, 2014.

We are very used to windy, very hot and dry conditions, but not in May…It’s really unprecedented to have these conditions this early….And everything is just going to get drier and hotter — just like a tinderbox….This year, the fire season never ended in Southern California.”

  California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesperson Daniel Berlant. NYtimes.com

Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing.”

  Victor Hugo. Goodreads.com

As if the Winter Olympics did not have enough existential problems with concerns about rising temperatures and melting glaciers, it now seems that nobody is much interested in hosting them even while the planet still has snow.”

  Opening sentence of Christopher Clarey’s “On the Olympics” report — “Bidders are Melting Away” — on sports page of The New York Times on May 29,2014.

What this does is creates what we in the PR world would call a third-party endorsement of your cause. It was a very, very clever and effective communications strategy.”

  Larry Parnell, George Washington University director of strategic public relations, commenting on White House involvement of local TV meteorologists, through brief exclusive interviews with President Obama, in rollout of National Climate Assessment. As quoted in “Greenwire,” published by E&E Publishing Service, May 15, 2014.

From the perspective of catalyzing a proportionate political and public response to climate change, the [IPCC] reports have had limited impact….public opinion is no further advanced than it was when IPCC first started producing its reports….IPCC reports must be coupled with human stories and powerful narratives which can bring science to life.”

  Adam Corner of the Climate Outreach & Information Network, writing in The Guardian, May 14, 2014.

I get the news I need from the weather report. I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.”

  Simon and Garfunkel, “The Only Living Boy in New York,” from “Bridge over Troubled Waters” album.

Climate change will increase security risks over much of the planet. It will not only increase threats to developing nations in resource-challenged parts of the world, but it will also test the security of nations with robust capacity, including significant element of our National Power here at home….actions to build resistance against the projected impacts of climate change are required today. We no longer have the option to wait and see.”

  Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security, and Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense, in “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change.”

During the past 40 years, climate change in Cook County [Ill.} has caused rains to be of greater volume, greater intensity and greater duration than pre-1970 rainfall history evidenced.”

  Suit filed by Farmers Insurance Co. on behalf of itself and other insurance companies and customers with property damages from storm water surge and sewage overflow, alleging Chicago and other area municipalities failed to act reasonably to prevent flooding despite their having earlier adopted plans pointing to links between climate change and increased landfall.

The moment to salvage something of the Holocene is passing fast. But it hasn’’t passed yet, which is why September is so important….The next great moment is late September in New York. See you there.”

  Author and climate activist Bill McKibben, in a Rolling StoneCall to Arms” for climate action through a massive September 20-21 demonstration in New York City.
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2 Responses to On Climate…Notables and Quotables

  1. Bob Bingham says:

    This is my comment Plants and Wildlife.
    The last time the world had today’s level of 400 part per million of CO2 was four million years ago and the trees and plants at that time were adapted to the climate that went with it. Those trees had taken thousands or years to evolve to match those conditions. The trees we have today are adapted to a CO2 level of 280 PPM and a climate 0.8C cooler than today and are rapidly going into conditions 2C warmer and with dramatical changed rainfall conditions of either drought or flood.
    We can expect to see much large numbers of trees and other plant life dying in the coming years.
    http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/blog

    • Nullius in Verba says:

      It would appear that most plants are still adapted to CO2 levels far higher than they are today. When farmers grow crops in greenhouses (because the climate is too cold) they commonly pump in extra CO2. (See here for more.)

      It is certainly true that trees do have a broad range of temperatures over which they thrive, and a change in temperature will shift the latitude and altitude bands in which the different species will dominate somewhat.

      The United States, for example, varies about 20 C in average temperature from its northern to its southern border, a distance of about 1500 miles. So that’s about 1500/20 = 75 miles/C, or about 150 miles for a 2 C change. (Thus, in many places in the United States, you could easily see what life would be like in a 2 C warmer world by traveling 150 miles south.)

      I expect that most tree species can thrive in bands considerably wider than that, or can spread into new territory very quickly. (It is difficult to see how they could have survived events like the Younger Dryas if they couldn’t. Or even just normal year-to-year weather variation.) But I expect that if there are any that can’t they could be given artificial assistance, with replanting programs.

      This is something we could do experiments on fairly easily, with greenhouses, or just by planting trees in a warmer climate to see what happens. Is anyone working to develop the conservation techniques that might be needed, do you think?

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