Glacial Melting Accelerates

Here’s some good news:

Greenland’s glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, the result of a warming trend that renders obsolete predictions of how quickly the Earth’s oceans will rise over the next century, scientists said yesterday.

Well, it’s always good to read something like that. The article continues:

The scientists said they do not yet understand the precise mechanism causing glaciers to flow and melt more rapidly, but they said the changes in Greenland were unambiguous — and accelerating

Incidentally, the first bit of that quote is where the Republicans will most likely focus. In their playbook, any time scientists do not know the reason for something, that means the thing may as well not be occurring. They fail to differentiate between, on the one hand, observing evidence, and, on the other, formulating a theory that coherently accounts for that evidence while making testable and accurate predictions about future results. Even though what is happening is abundantly, painfully clear:

The Greenland study is the latest of several in recent months that have found evidence that rising temperatures are affecting not only Earth’s ice sheets but also such things as plant and animal habitats, the health of coral reefs, hurricane severity, droughts, and globe-girdling currents that drive regional climates.

These types of things ought to be of concern to our leaders, don’t you think? And you are wrong. From the President, we get this totally insane approach to dealing with climate change:

Addressing global climate change will require a sustained effort, over many generations. My approach recognizes that sustained economic growth is the solution, not the problem–because a nation that grows its economy is a nation that can afford investments in efficiency, new technologies, and a cleaner environment.

Right. The solution is definitely not to stop putting so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Who could disagree with growing our domestic economy as a way of limiting our impact on the planet? You know, besides literally anyone with a functioning brain. In case we forget, the Washington Post article cited above reminds us that

Most climate scientists believe a major cause for Earth’s warming climate is increased emissions of greenhouse gases as a result of burning fossil fuels, largely in the United States and other wealthy, industrialized nations such as those of western Europe but increasingly in rapidly developing nations such as China and India as well. Carbon dioxide and several other gases trap the sun’s heat and raise atmospheric temperature.

So, the White House approach seems to be exactly wrong. What else is new? How does the White House justify this ridiculousness? With a weird piece of invented jargon:

The President’s Yardstick “Greenhouse Gas Intensity” is a Better Way to Measure Progress Without Hurting Growth. A goal expressed in terms of declining greenhouse gas intensity, measuring greenhouse gas emissions relative to economic activity, quantifies our effort to reduce emissions through conservation, adoption of cleaner, more efficient, and emission-reducing technologies, and sequestration. At the same time, an intensity goal accommodates economic growth.

Translation: We don’t want to prevent people from doing anything they want in the quest for more money. Read the quote again if your head didn’t explode. This is how we measure our greenhouse gas output? In relation to economic growth? I wonder if those glaciers care how our economy is doing. How convenient that, by this standard, as long as our emissions were increasing at a slower rate than our economy, we are doing a great job! I guess we can all sleep tight.


The data highlight the lack of meaningful U.S. policy, [Vicki Arroyo] added: “This is the kind of study that should make people stay awake at night wondering what we’re doing to the climate, how we’re shaping the planet for future generations and, especially, what we can do about it.”

Well darn. I guess it might be a good idea to do a little something about it then.

7 Replies to “Glacial Melting Accelerates”

  1. You know, it’s not often this moderate finds himself agreeing with a shrill liberal full of snarky things to say. Lines such as “We don?t want to prevent people from doing anything they want in the quest for more money” smack of the resentfulness of the have-nots, or something like that.

    So it kind of worries me that I agree with that statement, and many others of yours, 100%. The notion that we can set sustained economic growth as a precondition to any action on global warning is “insane” — that word describes it perfectly — in light of our increasing understanding of the situation, which seems to be continually worse and more urgent than we thought in any previous month. Are we going to negotiate with the environment to hold off on the global warming until our economy gets to a state where we’re ready to start tackling the problem? Maybe offer it some tax breaks…

    Am I becoming some sort of left-winger?

  2. I wouldn’t say you are becoming “some sort of left-winger” at all. I wouldn’t say that because the term seems only to have meaning in a pejorative sense these days, so I think it is not terribly useful in a serious discussion. It is perfectly respectable to be a moderate who thinks some policies of the administration are silly. Every administration has silly policies.

    Though I’m having a hard time thinking of another one as silly as this ridiculous standard for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. As you say, I don’t think paying off the environment with our extra money will accomplish much.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. “Am I becoming some sort of left-winger?”

    I don’t like being boxed in – I’m left on some issues, right on others, up on some and down on others.

    But you don’t have to be left or right to accept the evidence that man-made global warming is occuring. Just open to the facts.

Comments are closed.