Debating How Much Time We Have to Avert Climate Disaster is a Waste of Time

The UN’s warnings are dire, but they are still likely overestimating the time we have to act, writes Arn Menconi.

Megafires in Canada’s Northwest Territories in 2014 scorched more than 7 million acres of forest, releasing half as much carbon back into the atmosphere as all the plants and trees in Canada typically absorb in an entire year. (NASA/Peter Griffith)

By Arn Menconi
Special to Consortium News

The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released a report earlier this month regarding the effects of the rise in global temperatures on land and agriculture and found that 25 percent of the rise in CO2 emissions comes from deforestation and farming.

A consensus of some 700 scientists from around the world agreed that 1.5 degrees Celsius has already baked into the land. They said the earth is dangerously heating up as a result of feeding ourselves in the most inefficient ways (wasting 25 percent of the food produced).

The IPCC is expected to release another report in September on the effects of man-made CO2 emissions on the oceans. We get 50 percent of our oxygen from oceans, and oceans have thus far absorbed 93 percent of human CO2 emissions.

In October of 2018 the IPCC advised that to avoid irreversible changes to the environment,  “human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.”  The 2016 Paris Climate Conference was based on holding global temperatures to an increase of no more than at 2 degrees Celsius, but the 2018 report showed that we need to cap the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

From Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. (IPCC)

(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 

Missing Factors

These IPCC findings, while alarming, still don’t take many things into account.

For instance, none of the IPCC studies consider how much methane gas is being released from fracking sites in the U.S. and elsewhere. And methane gas is 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide.

Scientists are reporting that Arctic ice is melting at faster rates than projected and we can see the disappearance of Arctic ice in the next few years. The result will be the release of massive quantities of CO2 & methane gas from the land beneath the ice, which is not being calculated into the 1.5 degree Celsius goal; therefore, tightening the IPCC deadlines.

China is moving ahead to build 300 coal plants in Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines. To put this in perspective, 175 coal-fired power plants were retired in the United States between 2011-2017.

As the world’s population grows to 10 billion by 2050 from the 7.53 billion today, we will see more and more release of CO2 gases from fossil fuels, deforestation and agriculture that has not been incorporated into the IPCC predictions.

None of this new information has been included in the IPCC estimates, according to an exchange I had on Twitter with climate scientist Michael Mann.

We do not have until 2030 to reduce emissions by 45 percent, as the IPCC’s 2018 report concludes. Mark Jacobson, director of Stanford University’s  Atmosphere/Energy Program, calls for an 80 percent reduction in CO2 output by 2030Many scientists and economists are stating that we have less than five years, or have already passed the point of no return. Paul Hawken, the highly regarded author of “Drawdown; The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming,” told an audience at the Aspen Institute this summer, “Even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, we would pass the 1.5 degree Celsius mark.”

Scientists have begun using the term adaptation instead of mitigation. How will we adapt to the new normal of global climatic devastation? This doesn’t mean hopelessness. This means action. We need to talk realistically and embrace solutions to slow the process and mitigate the full effects of climate change. And we need to focus on proven remedies already underway around the world.  

Solutions Needed

Stages of reforestation: Top two photos show severely degraded hills in South Korea. Third is taken five years after restoration began; fourth 20 years after. (IPCC/Korea Forest Service)

We need political, religious, business, social and individual solutions. This is the greatest crisis that mankind has ever faced and climate is changing much more rapidly than even the most aggressive models have predicted.

Here are some of the top solutions that could be implemented:

  1. Get rid of government handouts to the fossil fuel industry.
  2. Give incentives to renewable energy instead.
  3. Start a works corps to build renewables programs.
  4. Enact a carbon tax to raise funds to invest in renewables and slow the growth of fossil fuels.
  5. Stop future fossil-fuel development through banning drilling, fracking and phase out their use by getting off black carbon by 2030 and net neutral carbon by 2050.
  6. Require utilities to produce all their electricity from zero-carbon sources — such as wind and solar.
  7. Set energy efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings.
  8. Stop methane emissions from oil-and-gas operations.
  9. End the use of hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases used in air-conditioners, refrigerators and foams.
  10. In the U.S. a special effort must be made to reign in the military behemoth, which has fought endless wars for oil. Cut the 800 U.S. military bases and trillion-dollar-a-year budget by a third and redirect the spending to renewables, clean jobs, electric transportation and research and innovation.

It’s Not New

Climate change science goes back decades, to the 1950s. Exxon Mobil and other petro producers, in the intervening years, have made numerous efforts to hide the effects of man-made CO2 emissions.  U.S. administrations either hid or ignored the warnings and continued to expand fossil fuel development and allowed destructive forms of agriculture and deforestation to expand.

What is different now is that we are seeing the effects of the rise in temperatures, which include increased catastrophic flooding, fires, melting ice caps, extinction of species, climate refugees, water shortages and desertification.

We have faced enormous problems before, but this time history provides no guide. It’s up to us to develop new economic and political paradigms. Life on our entire planet depends upon it.

If we are to find never-been-tried-before solutions we need to be clear about the carbon facts. The U.S., with 4.29 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for 14.75 percent of global CO2 emissions. China, with 18.20 percent of the population, produces 27.51 percent of the total. Clearly the U.S. must take a leadership role in reducing CO2 emissions if we expect the world to follow.

Arn Menconi, a former Colorado County commissioner, has run for both U.S. Senate and Congress in Colorado. He is a peace & climate change activist. Follow him at on Twitter @arnmenconi.

If you value this original article, please consider making a donation  to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment Policy. Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed.

52 comments for “Debating How Much Time We Have to Avert Climate Disaster is a Waste of Time

  1. Brockland
    September 9, 2019 at 04:03

    Uh, no the great climate threat is the Elite decision to thaw the poles and end the Ice Ages and pretend its a ‘bad humanity’ accident. The powers that presume to be are in full and deadly disaster capitalism mode, taking out the Ice Ages and human overpopulation with one dumb stone. However, there is no human population problem either; most of the billions predicted by 2050 will not be breeding pairs, but elderly. We face the great Depopulation Bomb as billions die of old age with no replacements.

    Recall that in the 1970s the scientists of the day were warning of the return of the ice ages, or rather, the return of a glacial maximum. One of the solutions proposed was to increase CO2 in the atmosphere. Industrialization was already doing this, and the fossil fuel boom of the last forty years since the Energy Crisis finished the job. There is nothing the West can do to stop other nations’ rising carbon emissions, and the elites know this. The loss of political freedoms is likely tied to anticipated social unrest from climate change as well as the usual warmaking.

    We are, or perhaps were, in an Ice Age enjoying a particularly balmy interglacial. As of 2019 we are entering a solar minimum and a magnetic pole wobble, which should contribute to lowering global temperatures. So for a time, global warming will be offset by forced cooling. We can control CO2 levels and indirectly global temperatures like a switch using inexpensive ocean fertilization.

    Oceanographer John Martin’s Iron Hypothesis was proven to work in two small publicly funded expeditions off the Galapagos and one privately funded experiment off the Canadian West Coast led by private researcher Russ George and local Canadian Haida. Essentially, all excess CO2 can ultimately absorbed by ocean phytoplankton. Martin even joked that he could bring on a glacial maximum with a tanker of iron sulfate, not necessarily something Global North elites would find particularly funny.

    A Canadian activist, Debbie Mackenzie, highlighted that not only do we have starving oceans, we have to let the oceans fill with life, another living store of carbon. Ocean life that dies and sinks to the deep ocean is sequestered.

    Elevated CO2 levels greened the land but limited the amount of dust blown into the oceans, starving the base of the food chain, phytoplankton. And everything else on up. We risk losing many irreplaceable keystone ocean species by letting the oceans fry.

    No special taxes or laws are needed to regulate CO2, just fertilize the deep ocean pastures every few years with iron sulfate at the cost of a few million dollars. If the oceans continue to be starved, we lose not only fish but oxygen producing phytoplankton, which generate most of the O2 the planet needs.

  2. August 31, 2019 at 10:09

    As some said in comments, overpopulation is the issue. Humans have trashed the planet, created how many landfills (billions?), keep overconsuming, wiping out plants and animals–even the large predators–and still the argument is theoretical CO2! How long till the late Stephen Hawking’s prediction for 100 more years till human extinction, and I don’t remember him talking about CO2?

  3. Robert
    August 30, 2019 at 11:17

    Despite rhetoric, governments continue allowing corporate freedom-to-pollute and treat the issue as local rather than world-wide
    – The WTO and free trade agreements have forced manufacturers to move production from developed countries to countries with low wages, no pollution controls and dirty energy sources, and of course no carbon tax.
    – Oil producers are still shipping the dirtiest of regular and tar sands crude to Asian markets.
    – China is still building (and countries buying) coal-fired plants using dirty technology
    – Brazil and other South American countries, encouraged by buyers of their products, continue their deliberate replacement (burning) of the Amazon jungle with farm land

  4. lizzie dw
    August 29, 2019 at 19:55

    It is not getting warmer; it is getting cooler. Please check out the sun. Also, about CO2 – increased taxes are not as effective as planting trees. Remember photosynthesis? We can plant millions of trees. And…..we can stop exhaling, since everyone exhales CO2. Really, it’s not you; it’s to CO2; it’s the sun.

  5. George Prudent
    August 29, 2019 at 10:53

    The author should study Drwdown in more detail. It is clearly a scam designed to distract us from the necessity of eliminating fossil fuels. They list refrigerant gases as number one solution (less than 2% GHG and treat to eliminate in force). Drawdown advocates only 10% electric vehicle transition, and their other solutions are very weak. Then to top it all off, Hawken et al have a private equity fund run my a former Bian executive so they can profit off their “solutions”. PR firm created group, what a cruel joke.

  6. gcw919
    August 28, 2019 at 22:03

    Reading through the “Solutions Needed” segment ( and all the solutions are sorely needed), one searches in vain for any proposal addressing overpopulation. Why thus subject is so frequently ignored by climate advocates is something of a mystery.

    • Alex
      August 31, 2019 at 08:12

      Exactly! (the biggest elephant in the room very few dare talk about)
      Ignoring or denying that humanity is a plague that requires containment or culling renders all lofty exalted resolutions moot. Even the most environmentally friendly policies/behaviors, including those suggested in the article, will prove to be ineffective and utterly meaningless in view of the disproportionate share of the available lebensraum humans take up.
      Amongst the tiny minority of people, who do take the ongoing climate collapse seriously, I found almost no one
      willing to contemplate, let alone acknowledge, the biggest underlying problem – over population. That is why we are f@%#ed.
      I feel sorry for the animals.

  7. George Galee
    August 28, 2019 at 22:03

    Another freakin Idiot

    • Richard Ong
      September 2, 2019 at 01:17

      Amen. Sad to see CN publish the usual hysteria.

  8. August 28, 2019 at 21:15

    Why should we continue to burn Fossil fuels when there are much cleaner and higher energy flux density sources available namely hyro electric, nuclear both fissionable and fusion in the near future and widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells. Ever hear of the NAWAPA ( North American water and power alliance,). Look it up, had we started building it back when Kennedy proposed it in the early sixties we would now have plentiful and cheap fresh water for the next 250 years. Of course it is apparently far more important to promote such so called green boondoggles like ethanol which are even worse than burning petroleum.

  9. August 28, 2019 at 20:39

    To the surprise of almost everyone, any engine can soon be converted cheaply and easily to running on water, taken from humidity and saving most adult individuals the annual cost of fuel. That will get universal attention. Since vehicles that run on water can be power plants when suitably parked – providing a new source of income, that icing on the cake will insure enthusiasm. Millions of vehicles selling electricity can replace any need for central power plants using coal, natural gas or nuclear. This is a cost effective way to insure massive public support for wise approaches to the climate emergency.

    Water as fuel is a Green Swan, a highly improbable innovation with huge impact potential. Learn more about this and a few others at Green Swans in energy and economics can change the world – at a cost voters across the political spectrum will find acceptable. A Green Swan Movement can mobilize students of all ages. The time is ripe to launch that unrecognized possibility. Millions of students have recognized the fact that their lives are at hazard. They have accepted the climate science that underlines that reality. Anyone with an interest in learning not yet generally accepted new science may find they can change the world – faster than most assume is possible. Imagine!

    • Tom Kath
      September 1, 2019 at 01:00

      There are many cheap, safe, and sensible ways, like the ones you mention and Thorium nuclear, hydrogen, and more efficient use of current sources. NONE of them will get the necessary funding and support, simply because there is not enough money in it compared to the frenzied expenditure of the climate change fear.

    August 28, 2019 at 19:29

    Referring to the Republican Party`s policy of Climate Disaster Denial—-Noam Chomsky said–” The Republican Party is the most dangerous organization in human history “.

    • Smedley Butler
      August 29, 2019 at 16:37

      Guess Noam has not heard of the Democrat party.

  11. Amanda
    August 28, 2019 at 19:07

    The Club of Rome and 1001 Trust

    In 1968, an organization was formed known as the Club of Rome led by two misanthropes named Aurelio Peccei and Sir Alexander King. The organization quickly set up branches across the Anglo-Saxon world with members ranging from select ideologues from the political, business, and scientific community who all agreed that society’s best form of governance was a scientific dictatorship. Sir Alexander wrote: “In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill…All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”

    This October the Club of Rome will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The elite responsible for the Club of Rome and its Malthusian philosophy have long used the fear of external enemies and the Hegelian dialectic of problem, reaction, solution to impose a political and social agenda on humanity. For the Club of Rome, you are the problem. We’re told if we don’t act now rising temperatures and seas along with increasing weather anomalies and crop failures will end humanity in the next twenty or so years. According to this doomsday scenario, the final chapter of humanity will be mega-droughts, famine, and widespread civil unrest. The global warming thesis is designed to control, depopulate, and rollback civilization. An Anthropocene endgame was designed to elicit fear in populations and ensure their compliance and complicity as a global totalitarian system micromanaged by a banker and corporate elite.

    • September 10, 2019 at 00:34

      Amanda: Your comment is RIGHT-WING PROPAGANDA & UTTER NONSENSE designed to INVALIDATE FACTS of Climate Change so that the Oligarchy/the 1% can continue their massive PROFITEERING off of environmental destruction, pollution & extraction industries. The FALSE “concern” for humanity threatened by your designated “global totalitarian system” hides the THREAT facing humanity by Climate Change! Sad to see such destructive drivel posted on Consortium News.

  12. R.A.
    August 28, 2019 at 17:13

    I have copied below an excerpt from an article by Dr. Roy Spencer, former NASA scientist. Dr. Spencer probably knows more about how to measure atmospheric temperature via satellite-mounted instruments than anyone else. Starting in the 1980’s, he and his colleague John Christy basically wrote the book on how to do that. According to Dr. Spencer, we have seen little, if any, warming of the global climate, and the current computer models of climate change are inaccurate and biased. His article is titled, “How the Media Help to Destroy Rational Climate Debate”. Here is an excerpt:

    “It’s fine to present the possibility that human-caused global warming could be very damaging, which is indeed theoretically possible. But to claim that large and damaging changes have already occurred due to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is shoddy journalism. Some reporters get around the problem by saying that the latest hurricane might not be blamed on global warming directly, but it represents what we can expect more of in a warming world. Except that, even the UN IPCC is equivocal on the subject.?

    Sea level rise stories in the media, as far as I can tell, never mention that sea level has been rising naturally for as long as we have had global tide gauge measurements (since the 1850s). Maybe humans are responsible for a portion of the recent rise, but as is the case for essentially all climate reporting, the role of nature is seldom mentioned, and the size of the problem is almost always exaggerated. That worsening periodic tidal flooding in Miami Beach is about 50% due to sinking of reclaimed swampland is never mentioned.
    There are no human fingerprints of global warming. None. Climate change is simply assumed to be mostly human-caused (which is indeed possible), while our knowledge of natural climate change is almost non-existent.

    Computerized climate models are programmed based upon the assumption of human causation. The models produce human-caused climate change because they are forced to produce no warming (be in a state of ‘energy balance’) unless CO2 is added to them….

    ….When you dig into the details, what the experts agree upon in their official pronouncements is rather unremarkable. The Earth has warmed a little since the 1950s, a date chosen because before that humans had not produced enough CO2 to really matter. Not enough warming for most people to actually feel, but enough for thermometers to pick up the signal buried in the noise of natural weather swings of many tens of degrees and spurious warming from urbanization effects. The UN consensus is that most of that warming is probably due to increasing atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel use (but we really don’t know for sure).
    For now, I tend to agree with this consensus.

    And still I am widely considered a climate denier.
    Why? Because I am not willing to exaggerate and make claims that cannot be supported by data.”

    Here is a link to the complete article:

    I strongly urge everyone to go read what Dr. Spencer has to say. He is the real deal–a top climate scientist with unimpeachable credentials, who can back up everything he says.

    • L. Vincent Anderson
      August 29, 2019 at 11:29

      Spencer is another backbencher supported by climate change denialist Heartland Institute!

      My earlier commentary on Heartland’s brand of science on this thread is below [August 28, 2019 at 11:24] One might subtitle the referenced Ryan Grim article ‘how the media help focus the climate change debate,’ namely on the real economic forces that drive the process.

      Here, note that both Spencer and his co-inventor colleague John Christy have been tagged as indulging in the very ‘modeling’ they claim to disdain, and that their above referenced ‘book’ on satellite temperature measurements has been found scientifically inaccurate:

      Without trying to decide the scientific facts of the matter in this forum, here is a popular link, to contextualize some Spencer related commentary. Enjoy!

      At least the real commentary does not mix metaphors and suggest ‘nuking’ the latest hurricane off the coast of Africa, as did our commander in chief.

      • R.A.
        September 2, 2019 at 01:35

        L. Vincent Anderson attacked Dr. Roy Spencer for appearing on a Heartland Institute video. But what Spencer had to say on the video was unremarkable, unless you believe that participating in debate about climate change is not permitted. Rather than pursue accusations of guilt-by-association, I prefer to consider what someone actually says and judge that on the merits.

        Anderson also refers to an article in Media Matters that criticizes an opinion article Spencer wrote in USA Today about hurricanes and global warming. The Media Matters article makes a big deal about how Spencer did not mention sea level rise in his opinion piece, going on about how sea level rise could make the effects of storm surges worse. The article claims, “ALL coastal storms are now worse due to sea level rise caused by human activities that are warming the climate.”
        This is in fact a grotesque exaggeration. Sea level rise during most of the 20th century has been measured at about 1.5 millimeters per year and shows no sign of accelerating. As Dr. Spencer remarked in the article I quoted in my previous post:

        “Sea level rise stories in the media, as far as I can tell, never mention that sea level has been rising naturally for as long as we have had global tide gauge measurements (since the 1850s). Maybe humans are responsible for a portion of the recent rise, but as is the case for essentially all climate reporting, the role of nature is seldom mentioned, and the size of the problem is almost always exaggerated. That worsening periodic tidal flooding in Miami Beach is about 50% due to sinking of reclaimed swampland is never mentioned.”

        As for Spencer’s 2018 article in USA Today, here is what he has to say about the severity of recent hurricanes:

        “Well, aren’t we being told these storms are getting stronger on average? The answer is no. The 30 most costly hurricanes in U.S. history (according to federal data from January) show no increase in intensity over time. The monetary cost of damages has increased dramatically in recent decades, but that is due to increasing population, wealth and the amount of vulnerable infrastructure. It’s not due to stronger storms.

        If humans have any influence on hurricanes at all, it probably won’t be evident for many decades to come. Natural variability is simply too large. This should not be surprising given that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions have caused only a 1 percent change in the natural energy flows coursing through the climate system.”

        I could go on, but I think my point is clear. Rather than link to people who try and smear Roy Spencer, I suggest you consider what he actually says and writes, and judge that for yourself.

  13. Smedley Butler
    August 28, 2019 at 16:54

    Climate change, originally called global warming, is a nonsense term invented b/c global warming was too easy to disprove. Miami is still not under water. Even though we’ve been told since the 1980s that it would be under water by the year 2000.
    Climate change is just another farce being used to consolidate power and control into fewer hands. Want to start a business? Well, you need to pay Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan their cut so they can issue you “carbon credits”. Notice how ALL the supposed solutions for this absurd term include controlling behavior. And, forcing you to live how someone else wants you to live. I even read one ridiculous comment in here pushing single child policy.

    I laugh everytime I hear this nonsense term invoked as the biggest threat to mankind. Pfffft!

    The biggest threat to mankind are the 430+ light water nuclear reactors we currently have here on earth. Another Carrington type event and most of them melt down. That’s it. World destroyed. The sun is currently way overdue for one of these events.

    The solution to what is really ailing the world is safe nuclear molten salt thorium reactors.

  14. bardamu
    August 28, 2019 at 16:34

    There are many partial solutions not listed. They pertain to actions by individuals and small groups. Obviously, a lot of action has to happen, so one might wish that large and powerful entities were involved in some positive way. However, governments and large businesses are with few exceptions at best paralyzed by their ancient and existential assumptions, and more often actively destructive.

    We need to move. and we can.

    We need to put regenerative agricultural practices to work in urban and suburban centers and outside of them. This has been done successfully in Cuba during the period especial after the fall of the Soviet Union by the organoponics movement. Havana was able to feed itself.

    There is a learning curve, but methodologies appropriate to climate, topography, and human need are methodically organized in what is called permaculture, and also by various other related movements.

    By all indications, we will see drastic impact. But you don’t take your foot off the brakes because there will be a collision ahead. That just hurts.

  15. ML2
    August 28, 2019 at 15:05

    Dissenting opinion: CO2 is not a poison. I assume that many of the people reading this article are environmentally-inclined. I suggest going out and trying to get an idea of what the plant kingdom thinks of the CO2 levels in our atmosphere – hint: the world is greening up.

    The relationship between CO2 and temperature is very poorly understood. There is a considerable amount of evidence that CO2 lags temperature increases. Briefly, as temperatures warm, oceans can release more CO2.

    CO2 is 0.04% of atmospheric gases
    CN (methane) is 0.00017%
    stating that these 2 gases are main drivers of climate change is problematic.
    H2O – 4% – is the main greenhouse component. And we don’t know jack about clouds.

    Michael Mann has falsified data. He is an excellent example of a hyperbolic generator of climate information.

    I agree with you and others here – radically decrease the size of the military. It would solve many problems, not the least of which is their wasteful usage of precious resources. I radically disagree with your suggestions. Totalitarianism from the left is equally as abhorrent as it is from the right.

    • D Fitts
      August 30, 2019 at 23:08

      New papers are showing that the Climate is not that sensitive to humans as IPCC claims. 450Myrs ago, CO2 was many times higher and we went into an ice age. Many new papers are proving with evidence (not computer models like those IPCC rely on 100%) that the Svensmark effect is the primary driver of Climate Change. The sun activity modulates whether cosmic rays from the Milky Way hit the earth. Weak sun activity causes more rays to hit earths low atmosphere which creates nuclei for Low Clouds which is the primary driver of climate.

      If CO2 doubles, only a .5 to 1.5% rise is avg temps. is predicted by Nir Shaviv, Chairman of Physics Dept. at Hebrew U, not the dire predictions that has us believe that cow farts are extremely dangerous. IPCC is trying to ignore him. Forbes outright censored his interview just this month for no reason given.

      Still, I like the idea of green and cleaner better ways but reducing CO2 won’t actually lower temps as it is not the primary forcing element like the IPCC claims.

  16. DH Fabian
    August 28, 2019 at 13:47

    While Democrats chose “climate” as their 2020 campaign theme, is a debate even relevant? Regardless, the focus will remain on climate change until after the 2020 election. We’ve been talking about this issue for decades, and many nations actually have made progress on reducing their contribution to climate change (i.e., pollution caused by burning fossil fuels). The US reduced its contribution as well, albeit by shutting down/shipping out millions of our mfg. jobs in recent decades, with no “Plan B” to address the resulting rise in poverty. Some scientists say that it’s too late, anyway, while many believe we’re more likely to go out by nuclear war.

    August 28, 2019 at 12:31

    You mention population as one of the drivers though you make no mention of what fuels population growth.

    Daniel Quinn addresses this issue on this important conversation.

  18. Vera Gottlieb
    August 28, 2019 at 11:54

    What we most certainly DO NOT need is more politics meddling in this. After all, it is thanks to so many corrupt politicians that we are where we are.

  19. Truth first
    August 28, 2019 at 11:33

    Saying that China is producing more CO2 emissions that the US is misleading. The US has put more CO2 emissions into the atmosphere than China. It is the total amount of emissions that is important.

    • August 28, 2019 at 14:22

      Whatever was done in the past is irrelevant now. China is going to produce way more then the US in the future so that’s where we have the best change to making changes.

      • Josep
        August 28, 2019 at 17:13

        This lends food for thought on how all these cheap products Westerners, especially USians, consume are made in China. Because Chinese labor is cheaper, manufacturing costs become cheaper and the price is lower. Add currency inflation to the mix, and the price appears to remain unchanged. The unwashed consumer then buys the product without suspecting a damn thing. Many of these products tend to be licensed toys based on kids’ TV shows and movies, an excuse for owners to make arseloads of money at the expense of the source materials themselves.
        This is one reason China’s emission levels* are as high as they are: Western** toy companies use China as a dumping ground, if not a scapegoat. As a result, due to the relatively lax safety standards, there have been recalls associated with products, especially toys, made in China.

        Moving production of USian products back to the US will not only raise the price of said goods (which is why they refuse to do so), but also inform USians of their overconsumption. They’ll wake up and smell the smog.

        * The rest of the emissions generated by China is possibly their own undoing, but that’s another story.

        ** Not every Western country has mostly sold its manufacturing sector to China; if I’m not mistaken, Germany is one such country that still has a manufacturing sector, so there are still some German companies that manufacture e.g. toys there instead of China. Another example: Lego is still manufactured in Denmark, with the exception of certain components made in other countries, including China.

      • Tom Kath
        August 28, 2019 at 18:49

        Surely the significant and relevant point would be the amount of pollution PER PERSON !! If all people in the world were as “clean” as the Chinese (let alone India) , all emission targets would be long met.

  20. triekc
    August 28, 2019 at 09:28

    This writer’s top ten things we could do right now excluded some of the easiest ones! Phase out wars and militarism. World wide one child policy, with generous incentives for people to adopt existing or have no children. Women need to be educated, birth control, abortions, encouraged and made readily available, ignorant religious dogma promoting huge families needs needs to be ended. Phase out meat, dairy, fishing industries. Heavily incentivize vegetable diet made up of MANY different items. Petroleum based fertilizers need to be phased out replaced natural fertilizers. Wasted food needs greatly reduced, captured and used to feed the hungry. Development on new land needs to be phased out, existing wild areas and remaining life need to be restored and protected as though our lives depend on it, BECAUSE THEY DO. Change social/religious customs and/or passed down habits as to how we vacation and celebrate holidays from requiring travel and consumption to remaining close to home and performing acts of kindness and good deeds rather than buying shit that ends up in landfill. Air, sea, space transport needs to be heavily costed. End capitalism infinite growth myth, replace it with reality based, conservation and sustainability economy. Humans need to stop what we currently consider normal, assess our behavior, attitudes, customs, economies, and re-start only activities that are sustainable, treats earth as a living organism, in which humans are just one part. While most of these are easy to do, and would likely increase our quality of life, this is too much to ask, humans will not consider these common sense actions until the first mass die off provides the wake up call to the those left living to take action … humankind is addicted to fossil and destruction of the biosphere for our pleasure, normal for addicts, we must hit rock bottom, only then will we accept that we cannot continue to live as we do now

  21. August 28, 2019 at 08:48

    The Green New Deals presented by AOC and recently by Bernie are at least a good foundation from which to start making this a better country. Doubt these New Deals will save us but isn’t it worth giving something other than oligarchy a try?

    • Paora
      August 29, 2019 at 03:47

      Absolutely. Telling a working class whose living standards have more than halved under neoliberalism (two incomes now provide a worse standard of living than a single income did under postwar social democracy) that they have to give up still more to save the planet is not a winning strategy.

      Just what a ‘Green New Deal’ entails is contested but a restoration of the 40hr week, full employment, plus universal health and education would more than compensate for the reduction in consumerism required.

  22. Antonio Costa
    August 28, 2019 at 08:22

    While the metrics seem fairly clear, the question remains: are we measuring the right thing? Or better still should we be measuring at all? I sometimes think we’re the proverbial person who in the dead of night lost his keys and goes to the lamp post to search just because there’s light there. CO2 seems to be the lamp post.

    My sense is that for 5,000 years “our” humanly contrived civilization moved from hunter/gather to top-down governance “we” set about destroying the planet’s ecosystem in the name of domination and rule. Nature became a commodity and utility. We made ourselves separate from the natural world which happens to sustain life on the planet. We know that top-down governance marked the time when war, conquests and utter destruction became the norm.

    Much of what’s described in this post are symptoms not fundamental causes of climate disruptions. CO2 is an issue to be sure, but it is also a distraction. Shifting from fossil to renewables will not solve the underlying problem. Currently we have an economic and political system that thrives on more. That more comes at a cost to the living planet. (Think about it, with out full integration into nature, what purpose who 100% renewables serve in a growth based economy? I contend would have been a problem had we moderated its use – but we DIDN’T – and we won’t with renewables which bring their own set of ecological problems.

    As we’ve been killing the living planet over the last 5,000 (exacerbated by full throttle industrialization and fossil energy) we have undone the capacity of the planet to stabilize the living ecosystem. Our solutions ignore the fundamental causes, are excessively mechanistic and thus doomed to failure even IF we kept 100% of fossil in the ground by 2035!!!

    The Green New Deal, which seems to be the author’s underlying theme, is really about “how do we keep what we have while adapting to climate changes?” I would argue we need to refocus our efforts, on living within the natural world, being of it, not simply stewards, but co-creators of our natural world of which we are but one species among many.

  23. CitizenOne
    August 27, 2019 at 23:27

    Great article. I have long believed that few of the potential forcing factors and positive feedback loops for worsening climate change have been incorporated in the official models of global warming trends. Scientists love to endlessly speculate about “what if?” scenarios such as what if all the methane hydrates on the seafloor melted or what if all the permafrost melted?

    Getting that into the models is an entirely different conversation. To do that one needs proof that these things are happening and also at what rate, where is it happening, is the rate changing etc. In other words, a big chunk of time and data needs to be collected,analyzed, formed into a cogent presentation for the case, published, peer reviewed, challenged, defended, accepted as legitimate science with all of the pedigrees and degrees of the highest caliber scientists signing on before a global model that incorporates new phenomenon can even be created. We are talking years. Many years.

    It is not that science or scientists are slow or stupid. This is the process and it is slow. Right now scientists are racing around the planet measuring methane seeps from permafrost and using high tech satellites to image changes in permafrost regions measuring subsidence which is a big clue to melting happening. The scientists are using every last resource available to rapidly gather evidence to make their cases for why new forcing events are happening based on tons of data. This then needs to be digested and understood by the scientific community and its leaders before the new evidence is going to be incorporated into official models of global warming.

    For example, a multinational effort costing millions of dollars is happening to examine one troubling glacier in Antarctica called the Thwaites Glacier. While small compared to the total landmass of Antarctica this one single glacier has the potential to raise global sea levels by feet not inches if it falters on its “grounding line”. The grounding line is like the cork in a bottle. It is the submerged terminal moraine or rock pile that at the present time seems to be losing the battle to hold back this glacier keeping it on dry land. The scientists are hoping to find a “ghost ridge” around 50 miles inland which might delay the collapse for some time perhaps a hundred years. The possibility exists however for this glacier to actually become unmoored from the current grounding line holding it back from sliding into the ocean which would cause significant rise in sea levels. There are no involved scientists at present that think that the eventual collapse of this one single glacier will never happen. All those involved in the study of this one glacier agree it is a matter of time. How much time is the current investigation’s objective. There is also no way to stop it from happening.

    Science is a data driven process but the data collected by these scientific missions of understanding also has to be affirmed by layers of scientific bureaucracy which takes years to form consensus that this phenomenon or that phenomenon published by this or that scientific publisher and researcher has merit before it gains enough traction to warrant serious consideration and inclusion into the generally accepted model of global warming.

    Scientists are meticulous in the collection of their data to test their hypotheses, which takes lots of time. Scientists most of the time err on the side of claiming the least disruptive outcomes based on their research. It is not surprising that global warming trends and observations in the real world seem to be outpacing predictions by cautious scientists.

    Recent observations of accelerating climate change outpacing scientific predictions may be troubling in themselves but there are yet more surprise s which are currently not in the models like the phenomenon of “Global Dimming” or the reduction of sunlight reaching the Earth. The emissions of aerosols released into the atmosphere by polluting industries like coal fired power plants creates a haze over much of the planet high up in the stratosphere that reflects incoming sunlight and bounces it off into outer space. Other factors like jet contrails, wildfires, volcanic eruptions and weird weather patterns also have a contributing effect on the phenomenon of Global Dimming. It is astonishing that there is little scientific agreement on the masking effect that Global Dimming contributes to global climate patterns by suppressing the effects of global warming which also has the handy dandy effect that it makes us feel good today like global warming is not real but just some made up joke.

  24. jadan
    August 27, 2019 at 23:03

    There was a pop song very popular about 1965 called “The Eve of Destruction” that nicely expressed the existential anxiety of the Boomers, but this was just a translation of the deeper underlying anxiety of End Times Christianity itself. Climate Change is a narrative of the End Times, which is well expressed by David Wallace-Wells in “the Uninhabitable Earth”, a timely polemic to raise the temperature of the 2020 election debates. The climate debate is for scientists who have mastered jargon and data and created climate models understandable chiefly among themselves, while the rest of us stand by and try to decipher headlines they generate, but are stunned into silence. Only an ignoramus like Donald Trump will stand up an declare that what he knows in his “gut” is the truth. Climate change is fake news to him. It is a known unknown to most of us who have gotten so used to our ever present existential anxiety about the future that we don’t know what it is to truly relax. Things are bad and will likely get worse sooner than we think. That’s the point of this article, in spite of what uncertainty there is about interpretation of data and the accuracy of global models. But here’s a certainty we can all embrace if we are rational beings not on drugs: if there were 3 billion people on the planet instead of 7.5, there would be no IPCC and no general fear about climate change. The awareness of climatological disaster has grown in direct proportion with the population growth because it is overpopulation that has created the profound disruption of the planetary ecosphere. The mother of all problems, to use the late Saddam Hussein’s locution, is overpopulation. Climate change is but a symptom, friends & neighbors. The third rail for every public intellectual is overpopulation. Excuse me, I’m going to commit Seppuku, and good-bye to all you fools!

  25. Walter
    August 27, 2019 at 21:40

    Jevons’ “Paradox” applied to coal. But it operates on all extractive activities. “.Jevons observed that England’s consumption of coal soared after James Watt introduced the Watt steam engine, which greatly improved the efficiency of the coal-fired steam engine from Thomas Newcomen’s earlier design”

    The implication taken in context today suggests catastrophic correction. This in turn implies that people do not have the power to do anything about climate change. Rather, by improving efficiencies, they’ll make it worse.

    Of course an atomic war might cause a disruption or two… Or a large asteroid… Stuff happens.

  26. Steve
    August 27, 2019 at 21:33

    I will steer clear of this warning…

    “Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed.”

    …by stating a pure fact.

    There is a book I read recently that makes me feel much better: Gregory Wrightstone’s “Inconvenient Facts”. I now refuse to believe that the world is coming to an end!

    • L. Vincent Anderson
      August 28, 2019 at 11:24

      The ‘pure facts’ are about you: you now ‘feel better’ because the Heartland Institute’s amateur climatologist convinced you to ‘refuse to believe that the world is coming to an end!’

      Step 1 to the cure: Check Wikileaks’ FUNDING section for Heartland’s cadre of unlicensed science guys:

      Step 2: Check the real monies ( = policies) behind the current Amazon crisis. Your true Heartland looks a lot like Blackstone, the biggest funder of both Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, the respective silent and blathering do-nothing partners of our historical moment. Per Ryan Grim:

    • Joe Wallace
      August 28, 2019 at 13:46


      I have not read Gregory Wrightstone’s “Inconvenient Facts.” Of what consolation will it be, however, if the world continues to exist long after humans and innumerable other species have disappeared?

    • triekc
      August 29, 2019 at 06:50

      No one says world is coming to an end, just humans and most other life forms, the earth will continue to exist for billions of years. Reviewing Wrightstone’s website, same rebuttals of climate change we have seen for years, it is a con, there is uncertainty, etc. Most or all of his arguments are addressed on with links peer reviewed scientific reports, as well as thousands of other independent science websites. Wrightsone focuses only on human carbon pollution ignoring other science that is equally or more frightening. For example, 6th mass extinction of ALL life on earth is accelerating, every major remaining fauna on earth is endangered. Ocean heating and acidification is killing life in the oceans. Nuclear and chemical pollution is poisoning the environment. Fossil fertilizers are killing life in rivers and oceans. Mono crops and industrial meat,dairy, agriculture are killing and eroding top soil. Deforrestation and other destruction of remaining natural habitat, see 6th mass extinction. Fresh water is becoming more scarce. Human population overshoot occurred several billion humans ago, yet we continue to add 250K a day, see 6th mass extinction and habitat destruction. So, when are the Wrightstone’s in the science community going to address these other human caused, accelerating biosphere destroying disasters that will lead to human mass die off or extinction in near term? And we have the fact that global wars for resources to feed capitalism triggering a world / nuclear war is becoming more likely. We are to believe it is just coincidence the only scientist accused of being the worse cons or liars imaginable, are those whose findings threaten global fossil energy corporations. We have seen these disinformation campaigns before with uncertainty tobacco causes cancer, uncertainty leaded gasoline causes lead poisoning, the water is safe to drink, exposure to nuclear radiation is safe, etc. This time, when the disinformation campaign is finally accepted as the real con by the masses, it will be far too late to do anything about it.

  27. August 27, 2019 at 21:12

    “In the U.S. a special effort must be made to reign in the military behemoth, which has fought endless wars for oil. Cut the 800 U.S. military bases and trillion-dollar-a-year budget by a third and redirect the spending to renewables, clean jobs, electric transportation and research and innovation.”

    Glad to see the US military brought in, which, of course, is the biggest polluter on the planet.

  28. IvyMike
    August 27, 2019 at 21:10

    There are over a billion people in Africa, but everybody ignores Africa in the climate debate. Has it already been decided African economies will never be allowed to modernize and kick in their proper share of Carbon and Methane?
    And it bothers me that Climate Change is assumed to be Climate Devastation. Rational people who are also honest admit that the human race is going to burn every molecule of carbon we can extract from the planet. We’ll adapt, that’s what we do, we’ll rule the planet with the roaches and rats and everything will be fine.

    • August 28, 2019 at 21:13

      Why should we continue to burn Fossil fuels when there are much cleaner and higher energy flux density sources available namely hyro electric, nuclear both fissionable and fusion in the near future and widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells. Ever hear of the NAWAPA ( North American water and power alliance,). Look it up, had we started building it back when Kennedy proposed it in the early sixties we would now have plentiful and cheap fresh water for the next 250 years. Of course it is apparently far more important to promote such so called green boondoggles like ethanol which are even worse than burning petroleum.

  29. TomG
    August 27, 2019 at 20:54

    Mr. Menconi’s post is not worthy of the content that generally is found here at CN. With his one focus on fossil fuels broken into 9 (#10 at least diverges into some broader aspects) so called solutions he might as well achieve that goal of a seat in congress where he can pretend to do something while doing nothing. Like all our politicians, conservation isn’t even a consideration. The carbon impact of the buildout of a renewable infrastructure is ignored completely. The sequestration possible from the work of the Savory Institute in addressing desertification not even on the radar. I could make a long list of things perpetually ignored in the MSM and political parties, but suffice to say the solutions never come close to a full accounting of the costs, risks and possible mistakes along the way. It is little wonder that most find it hard to have anything more than a high level ‘green new deal’ mentality to the greed and destruction that we continue to wreak on this beautiful blue orb. Sadly, this narrative is what passes as leadership.

  30. Tom Kath
    August 27, 2019 at 20:41

    Look at it from a financier’s point of view. Thorium nuclear power is by far the best, cleanest, safest, method, but it is “too cheap”. (there’s no money in it!) Fossil fuels have been good, lots of money made. Wind and solar are by far the most difficult and expensive. (There’s a lot more money in it!)
    Financiers do not care who pays, but only how much.

    • Truth first
      August 28, 2019 at 11:37

      Wind and solar are by far the LEAST difficult and expensive sources of electricity!!!

  31. michael
    August 27, 2019 at 18:09
  32. Brent Anderson
    August 27, 2019 at 16:16

    Look on the bright side Arn, the people in America who throw food out and have multiple cars, rvs, snowmobiles, homes etc are the baby boomer, hippie generation and they will start dying out fast. They are the so called “enlightened” group of Americans who in reality turned out to be the most selfish, low down filthy mongrels of all time.

    • August 27, 2019 at 19:44

      Stereotypes never prosper

    • ML
      August 27, 2019 at 22:33

      I take exception to that comment, Brent. I was born at the tail end of the baby boom and I have always been a conscientious, committed steward of our air, water, wildlife, forests and lands. Please don’t paint all of us with the same brush. Intergenerational warfare of words helps no one and hurts us all. Love and respect your elders. I know I sure do love the younger generations. Let’s keep working together to clean up all the many mistakes we have made as a human family. Peace.

Comments are closed.