On Sunday, NBC’s Meet the Press presented the Climate Change Exercise Wheel … or as they called it, a debate between Bill “The Science Guy” Nye and Rep. Marsha Blackburn. (More)
I live in Árbol Squirrel, so I don’t need an exercise wheel. Chef has a treadmill and she seems to enjoy it, but the idea of running and running and never getting anywhere seems boring to me.
That’s why I didn’t watch NBC’s climate change ‘debate’ between Bill Nye and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). But you can if you’d like:
The Wire’s Philip Bump fact-checked both NBC’s set-up and the claims made by Nye and Rep. Blackburn, and the National Journal’s Ben Geman explained that NBC wanted the debate focus on policy rather than whether climate change is real and caused by human activity. If Geman’s reporting is accurate, then NBC failed. It was the same old Climate Change Exercise Wheel … and it was a waste of time.
Back in November, a United Nations University report found that climate change is already happening. The 96-page report documents climate change damage already underway in Burkhina Faso, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Nepal, and summarizes similar findings from Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Gambia, Kenya, and Micronesia. The National Wildlife Federation also documents changes both worldwide and in the U.S.
This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years. Among illustrative irreversible impacts that should be expected if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase from current levels near 385 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to a peak of 450–600 ppmv over the coming century are irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the “dust bowl” era and inexorable sea level rise.
Yes, future CO2 emissions will impact future climate change trends. And yes, fossil fuels pose other risks, such as China’s deadly smog and water pollution caused by fracking for natural gas and sludge spills. Yes, CO2-intensive companies should pay for their environmental and climate risks. But the higher costs of fossil fuels and other CO2-intensive products would hit lower-income families hardest, so progressives should demand that Congress buffer that impact.
Copenhagen has a plan to be carbon-neutral by 2025, and that is when China’s emissions could peak. But both of those plans are called “ambitious” … and even if the entire world were carbon-neutral by 2025 that would not undo the damage of the last 150 years.
So let’s stop debating whether climate change is happening and whether we can prevent it. That ship sailed at least a couple of decades ago.
Instead, let’s discuss how to mitigate the damages. We can apply the 2% solution to conserve energy. We can innovate on to make better use of resources in a more crowded world. We can restore natural defenses against storms and coastal erosion. We can build more resilient communities that can better handle extreme weather. And we can cooperate to assist in the large-scale human migrations that climate change will bring.
Humans can stay in the Climate Change Exercise Wheel, going round and round with people who deny science … or hop out of that wheel and focus a debate that can actually go somewhere.
I know what a squirrel would choose.
Good day and good nuts.