Monday, February 26, 2007

Global Warming

Good overview with the conclusion that it is already too late unless China, soon to overtake the United States as the biggest polluter, agrees to virtually stop its industrial expansion, and running close behind China is, of course, India.

Since it is too late, perhaps we are left then with the one human response to natural issues that has seemed to work; technological innovation.

Warning on Warming
By Bill McKibben
Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Summary for Policymakers
Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, 18 pp., available at

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest report in early February, it was greeted with shock: "World Wakes to Climate Catastrophe," reported an Australian paper. But global warming is by now a scientific field with a fairly extensive history, and that history helps set the new findings in context— a context that makes the new report no less terrifying but much more telling for its unstated political implications.

Although atmospheric scientists had studied the problem for decades, global warming first emerged as a public issue in 1988 when James Hansen, a NASA scientist, told Congress that his research, and the work of a handful of other scientists, indicated that human beings were dangerously heating the planet, particularly through the use of fossil fuels. This bold announcement set off a scientific and political furor: many physicists and chemists played down the possibility of serious harm, and many governments, though feeling pressure to react, did little to restrain the use of fossil fuel. "More research" was the mantra everyone adopted, and funding for it flowed freely from governments and foundations. Under the auspices of the United Nations, scientists and governments set up a curious hybrid, the IPCC, to track and report on the progress of that research.