In the dark

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Hurricane season is approaching. This would not typically be a concern for Newfoundland and Labrador. We’re used to those big blows in the fall as southern hurricanes move north and then lose steam as they veer out into the Atlantic.

In the past decade, however, we’ve had enough full-force winds and rains to make us especially nervous. A scattered hurricane is one thing; a steady string of destructive storms signals something else is afoot.

By now, there should be little doubt among rational observers that climate change is a reality, and that human activity is the primary cause. The essential scientific evidence has remained unchanged for decades. And now, it’s more certain than ever.

This month, a draft of the fifth assessment report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was leaked to the media. Although it has not gone through the final review process, the report’s findings are sobering.

The level of certainty about human-caused warming has gone from 90 per cent to 95 per cent since the last report in 2007.

The Washington Post this week listed 10 of the report’s most alarming findings. Among them:

• The Antarctic Ice Sheet lost mass nearly five times faster between 2002-2011 compared to the period from 1992-2001.

• The Greenland Ice Sheet lost mass about six times faster between 2002-2011 compared to the period from 1992-2001.

• The global average sea level is projected to rise by (an average of) 16 to 24 inches by 2100, depending on future greenhouse gas emissions and climate sensitivity.

The latter statistic, in fact, may be conservative. Penn State climatologist Michael Mann told the Huffington Post that many estimates suggest the sea level could rise by as much as six feet.

“This fits a pattern of the IPCC tending to err on the side of conservative,” Mann said, “in part — I believe — because of fear of being attacked by the climate change denial machine.”

It’s sad to think scientists actually feel forced to water down their findings to avoid the railings of deniers and ignoramuses.

Perhaps they are tired of responding to the likes of Rep. Michelle Bachmann, when she says things like, “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.”

(It’s not the gas itself, congresswoman. It’s the fact that excess CO2 is an agent for warming.)

What’s more troubling is that such ill-informed attitudes are showing up in bills tabled in state legislatures. No longer content to push creationism into school curricula, some rogue U.S. politicians are trying to push climate science out.

North Carolina, once a bastion of climate change preparedness, even tried last year to pass a law banning state agencies from applying global warming research.

So far, these bills have died on the vine. But the prospect of even one of them getting a foothold is frightening.

It’s not like we’re going to literally bury scientists alive, as the ancient Qin Dynasty did to its Confucian scholars.

But this demonization of science seems truly unprecedented, and could well foreshadow a dark age in our history.

Organizations: International Panel on Climate Change, Washington Post, Huffington Post

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Penn, U.S. North Carolina

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Roger
    August 24, 2013 - 23:40

    Warming has been negligible to non-existent for 15 years now.

  • JamesW.
    August 23, 2013 - 19:28

    There's an easy solution to global warming. Stop taking all the natural coolant (OIL) out of the globe. Problem solved. NEXT!

  • Winston Adams
    August 23, 2013 - 12:58

    Here we go again...point out the obvious,,, that global warming is real and a danger, but do nothing to help reverse the trend. 1. we signed on to a plan to reduce energy 20 percent over 10 years, but have no tqrgets to achieve it. Jurisdictions in the USA are spending 5 times more and achieving 5 times more in efficieny savings, and keeps electricity costs down, but here we opt for new Muskrat Falls power that will cost the ratepayer a 50 percent jump in electricity costs. And I have seen not one editorial to suggest we emulate what other jurisdictions are doing in efficiency and conservation! Our government and power companies use the phrase "culture of Conservation" while we continue on a path of a culture of waste. We spend 10 billion on new generation when the 8 percent HST rebate program could have funded a 50 million a year efficiency rebate program for consumers, self financed by energy savings, at no cost from the public purse. This editorial points out what science tells us, but offers nothing to suggest policy to allow us to help avert or reduce the damage from the path we are on. Why is that?

  • Cynic
    August 23, 2013 - 08:28

    Oh, for God sake! How paranoid are you? Yes, yes, we know, the Evil Hell Bound Liberals are trying to destroy everything that's good and decent in Western society. Harper has you by the nose, doesn't he? He invents some liberal elite somewhere in "the East", and gets you all frightened of what "they" are going to do. Frightened people get angry. And angry frightened people are easy to manipulate. Certainly seems to have worked with you. Why is it Canadian conservatives are so keen to import the worst, most bizarre ideas from the Tea Party? I mean, we're Canadians, that kind of mindless paranoia and anger aren't a part of Canadian politics, at least not until Manning and his Reformers started trying to turn this country into the 51st state. Then all of a sudden, instead of sensible Canadian political debate, we have political attack ads, divisiveness, and fear mongering. I am sick of Americans Under the Maple Leaf trying to tell the rest of us what Canadian values are. We know what Canadian values are, and the right in Canada as it is currently structured doesn't share those values. it used to, but not since a few years after Manning's minions took over. Then things went south. Literally. I think you ought to think about becoming a sensible Canadian conservative again and leave the Americans to do whatever nuttiness they want.

  • wildrose
    August 23, 2013 - 06:47

    Global warming is the biggest left wing hoax. Suzuky and Goar are getting rich and they want to tax us to death.

    • Tony Rockel
      August 23, 2013 - 11:53

      Ah yes! More scientific wisdom from our resident genius!

    • realconservative
      August 23, 2013 - 14:54

      As Wildrose shows quite clearly, there is a perfect inverse correlation between climate change denial and intelligence and/or critical thinking. Stay in s-c-h-o-o-l, learn how to s-p-e-l-l, understand s-c-i-e-n-c-e.

    • mk
      August 23, 2013 - 20:51

      Why is it that all deniers offer such blatantly fallacious and false arguments?

  • Bruno Marcocchio
    August 23, 2013 - 06:43

    Dark Age understates the issue. Lights out for life as we know it is more to the point. A 6 foot rise in sea level and NL seeming to be in the crosshairs of the intensifying storms will make for wild and expensive times in NL the next few decades. Batten down the hatches!