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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Friday, May 14, 2010

    National Acadamy of Sciences to Global Warming Deniers: "DELAY MUST NOT BE AN OPTION!"

    Members of one of the most prestigious scientific organizations, the National Academy of Sciences has come out with a scathing statement aimed at global warming deniers, particularly politicians (mostly Republican I might add) who are trying to make global warming denial into policy.

    Here is the press release:

    255 members of the National Academy of Sciences defend climate science integrity

    Science journal publishes letter supporting accuracy of climate science

    Two hundred fifty-five members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel Prize laureates, have joined together to defend the rigor and objectivity of climate science. Their statement, "Climate Change and the Integrity of Science," will be published in the journal Science on May 7, 2010 as the Lead Letter, along with a supporting editorial.

    This statement, signed by 255 of the world's leading scientists, explains the scientific research process and confirms the fundamental conclusions about climate change based on the work of thousands of scientists worldwide. It specifically reaffirms the "compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend," and highlights that there is nothing identified in recent events that has changed the fundamental conclusions about climate change.

    The statement also condemns recent political attacks on climate scientists, many of which are driven by special interests or dogma and not an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that satisfies the evidence we see around us. The evidence shows that the planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, and that warming the planet causes complex climate changes that affect people and the environment.

    Scientists from 53 different disciplines, like environmental sciences and ecology, chemistry, geology, geophysics, plant and microbial biology, and more, all members of the National Academy of Sciences but signing on as individuals, came together in agreement to reiterate an urgent call to action: "Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively."


    Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute and member of the National Academy of Sciences, is the corresponding author for this Science piece. He can be reached at 510.251.1600 x106.

    Please write to nross@pacinst.org or call or Nancy Ross at 510-251-1600 x106 to speak with the following scientists who have signed the statement:

    * Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, MacArthur Fellow, and a leading authority on water and climate change

    * Dr. Donald Kennedy, former editor of Science magazine, former FDA Commissioner, and former president of Stanford University

    * Dr. Stephen Schneider, Stanford professor, editor of Climatic Change, and one of the world's leading climate scientists

    * Dr. Paul Falkowski, director of the Rutgers Energy Institute

    For those with access to the journal Science, here is the link to the full statement. And here are some excerpts:

    Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

    (i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

    (ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

    (iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

    (iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

    (v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

    Much more can be, and has been, said by the world's scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business-as-usual practices. We urge our policy-makers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the un restrained burning of fossil fuels.

    We also call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: We can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option

    Let me add just a handful of the statements made in the past by other scientific organizations regarding climate change.


    Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles (IPCC, 2007). There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.

    The reality of global warming, its current serious and potentially disastrous impacts on Earth system properties, and the key role emissions from human activities play in driving these phenomena have been recognized by earlier versions of this ACS policy statement (ACS, 2004), by other major scientific societies, including the American Geophysical Union (AGU, 2003), the American Meteorological Society (AMS, 2007) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, 2007), and by the U. S. National Academies and ten other leading national academies of science (NA, 2005). This statement reviews key global climate change impacts and recommends actions required to mitigate or adapt to currently anticipated consequences.

    Among the recommendations of the American Chemical Society are:

    Recommendation 2a – The U.S. should immediately adopt nationwide goals for rapid and deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and develop effective economic drivers to achieve these goals. Options such as emission cap and trade regimes, carbon taxes, or emissions taxes need to be devised, tested and implemented on a national basis. The U.S. should work closely with all major greenhouse gas emitter nations to secure their commitment to similar greenhouse gas emission reductions.

    Recommendation 2b – The U.S. should significantly raise its public and private sector investments in technologies to mitigate climate change through economically viable energy conservation, biomass fuel substitution for fossil fuels, carbon sequestration and non-fossil fuel based energy sources. Key actions include

    * Federal government revaluation of subsidies and incentives to allow advanced energy technologies to operate on an even playing field with the current, heavily subsidized energy sources.
    * Enhanced federal R&D funding to develop both innovative energy sources with low net greenhouse gas emission and energy-efficient technologies and processes for the industrial, agricultural and transportation sectors.
    * Business and industry should be encouraged to use private sector funding for development of enhanced low-emission, energy technologies and energy-efficient processes. Additional venture funding must be provided to commercialize new energy-efficient technologies. The growing international demand for advanced, sustainable energy and energy-efficient process technologies in both developed and developing countries represents a major market that U.S. based companies should make every effort to serve, reaping economic benefits for themselves and environmental benefits for everyone.
    * Comprehensive evaluation of the life cycle environmental, health, safety, economic and social impacts of new technologies and processes before and during their implementation to ensure they help solve climate change issues without creating unanticipated societal and environmental problems.


    Position Statement
    Decades of scientific research have shown that climate can change from both natural and anthropogenic causes. The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse‐gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s. If current trends continue, the projected increase in global temperature by the end of the twentyfirst century will result in large impacts on humans and other species. Addressing the challenges posed by climate change will require a combination of adaptation to the changes that are likely to occur and global reductions of CO2 emissions from anthropogenic sources...

    Public Policy Aspects

    Recent scientific investigations have strengthened the case for policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to unavoidable climate change. To strengthen the consensus for action, this statement from the Geological Society of America is intended to inform policymakers about improved knowledge of Earth’s climate system based on advances in climate science. Recent scientific investigations have contributed to this improved understanding of the climate system and supplied strong evidence for human-induced global warming, providing policy makers with a unique perspective on which to base mitigation and adaptation strategies. Carefully researched and tested adaptation strategies can both reduce and limit negative impacts and explore potential positive impacts. Future climate change will pose societal, biological, economic, and strategic challenges that will require a combination of national and international emissions reductions and adaptations. These challenges will also require balanced and thoughtful national and international discussions leading to careful long-term planning and sustained policy actions.

    * Public policy should include effective strategies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Cost-effective investments to improve the efficient use of Earth’s energy resources can reduce the economic impacts of future adaptation efforts. Strategies for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions should be evaluated based on their impacts on climate, on costs to global and national economies, and on positive and negative impacts on the health, safety and welfare of humans and ecosystems.
    * Comprehensive local, state, national and international planning is needed to address challenges posed by future climate change. Near-, mid-, and long-term strategies for mitigation of, and adaptation to climate change should be developed, based in part on knowledge gained from studies of previous environmental changes.
    * Public investment is needed to improve our understanding of how climate change affects society, including on local and regional scales, and to formulate adaptation measures. Sustained support of climate-related research to advance understanding of the past and present operation of the climate system is needed, with particular focus on the major remaining uncertainties in understanding and predicting Earth’s future climate at regional and global scales. Research is needed to improve our ability to assess the response and resilience of natural and human systems to past, present, and future changes in the climate system.


    Human Impacts on Climate

    Adopted by Council December 2003
    Revised and Reaffirmed December 2007

    The Earth's climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century. Global average surface temperatures increased on average by about 0.6°C over the period 1956–2006. As of 2006, eleven of the previous twelve years were warmer than any others since 1850. The observed rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice is expected to continue and lead to the disappearance of summertime ice within this century. Evidence from most oceans and all continents except Antarctica shows warming attributable to human activities. Recent changes in many physical and biological systems are linked with this regional climate change. A sustained research effort, involving many AGU members and summarized in the 2007 assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, continues to improve our scientific understanding of the climate.

    During recent millennia of relatively stable climate, civilization became established and populations have grown rapidly. In the next 50 years, even the lower limit of impending climate change—an additional global mean warming of 1°C above the last decade—is far beyond the range of climate variability experienced during the past thousand years and poses global problems in planning for and adapting to it. Warming greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in sea level of several meters. If this 2°C warming is to be avoided, then our net annual emissions of CO2 must be reduced by more than 50 percent within this century. With such projections, there are many sources of scientific uncertainty, but none are known that could make the impact of climate change inconsequential. Given the uncertainty in climate projections, there can be surprises that may cause more dramatic disruptions than anticipated from the most probable model projections.

    With climate change, as with ozone depletion, the human footprint on Earth is apparent. The cause of disruptive climate change, unlike ozone depletion, is tied to energy use and runs through modern society. Solutions will necessarily involve all aspects of society. Mitigation strategies and adaptation responses will call for collaborations across science, technology, industry, and government. Members of the AGU, as part of the scientific community, collectively have special responsibilities: to pursue research needed to understand it; to educate the public on the causes, risks, and hazards; and to communicate clearly and objectively with those who can implement policies to shape future climate.


    National Policy

    (Adopted by Council on November 18, 2007)

    Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

    The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

    Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

    These societies represent some of the best and brightest scientists in the world. And yet the Republican Party seems to think fools like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck know more about global warming that the best scientists in the world.

    It is time for the Republican Party to stop pushing anti-science bullshit and start listening to people who know more than they do.


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