Posted by: ericgrimsrud | March 26, 2020

We need more brains, not egos, in the White House

In order to effectively meet the environmental challenges we are faced with today, we simply must get President Trump completely out of his high office as soon as possible and let some grown-ups and first-class scientists back into positions of leadership. This step, if taken immediately, would provide an appropriate beginning to our upcoming presidential election this fall in which Republicans could then also have time to choose another candidate who is not a complete scientific and public health novice. During the critically important months of January and February, 2020, President Trump assured Americans that the coronavirus was merely a common flu that would pass soon without requiring special actions on our part. While health alarms are now blinking red, our president still hesitates in taking the now even more drastic actions that are belatedly required. Such actions can be effectively addressed only by the overall direction and coordination of our federal government.

Every day we drift closer to the precipices of both the corona pandemic and the irreversible tipping points of global warming, while our president focuses only on damage control related to his now shredded personal reputation.

While Donald Trump has managed to fool a lot of Americans, he has met his match with Mother Nature. And, She is, indeed, one tough Mother when challenged by those who don’t know how She does things (that field is called science, of course). She always wins and does things one way – Her way.

During WWII, several efforts were made by the citizens of Germany to remove Adolf Hitler from his high office after it became clear in 1943 that the war would be eventually won by the Russians and their allies and, furthermore, that Germany’s persistence in that war was then being driven primarily by Hitler’s irrational ego. Since all of those removal attempts failed, Hitler’s Germany continued its downward spiral until it was literally reduced to ashes. Let’s hope that we can manage to successfully remove our self-proclaimed “genius” much more quickly by legal means before a large fraction of our population finds itself in body bags.

make Am intelligent

 

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | March 15, 2020

The virus and our intergenerational responsibilities

As the coronavirus spreads throughout the world, I suspect that the elderly among us (say those over 60; I am 76) are feeling a bit more threatened than the younger segments of society who we have learned are less vulnerable to its worst effects. While I am not suggesting that this is a beneficial aspect of the epidemic, it does carry with it an appropriate and useful message for us elderly.  That message is, how do we like being subjected to a human-facilitated phenomenon that specifically targets our older portion of the population? Our collective response to that question, I suspect, is that we do not like it at all, thank you very much, and, furthermore, are totally in favor all international efforts that can be made to solve this problem – no matter how much the required solutions make life inconvenient for the rest of the human population. For example, while the infection rates of children by this virus are very low, we are substantially disrupting the educations of those children so that their viruses are not passed on to the total population and especially we elderly.

When their time came, I understand that the elderly of some Eskimo communities used to be put out on the ice for whatever fate waited them there – preferably a return to the food chain via their consumption by a passing scavenger. The prevailing belief was that this provided a net benefit to the viability of their community.  In our culture we tend to do the opposite – prolonging the lives of our elderly as much as possible.  At my age, I happen to like that attitude, of course.

There is, however, something that bothers me a great deal about the collective attitudes of our elderly generations.  That is, our elderly have not shown sufficient understanding and commitment to the future of those children I mentioned above and to all non-elderly human beings. What I am talking about now, of course, is the “virus” of global warming. For the last 30 years, we have had the capability and knowledge required for the prevention of this menace but lacked the will and determination to bring that action to fruition. As a result of my generation’s preference for a cheap, but poisonous source of energy, we have created a carbon-overdosed world that will prove to be far more difficult to cure than that created by biological viruses. While we can learn how to kill viruses, we can’t do that to CO2 molecules. Hopefully, we elderly will learn from the upcoming battle against the corona epidemic what it will feel like for today’s non-elderly to be facing a climate change calamity that is tuned to the destruction of their generation.

My generation was fortunate to live during a “Goldilocks” period of the USA in which almost everything was “just right”.  The Great Depression and WWII were over by the 40’s and carpets of opportunity were then laid out for us in all directions.  We are now also being well taken care of during our senior years by myriad benefits including an extensive government-subsidized medical program. In return, we now owe it to all people younger than us, to do much better than we have on the preservation of our planet’s assets for our descendant’s use in the coming decades. This will have to be both an international and intergenerational effort that will require considerable sacrifice and support by all of us.

 

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | February 9, 2020

Heat content of the Earth is rising by 5 Hiros per second!

As the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere continuously increase, additional heat is being forced into our planet by the insulating effect of those gases (even though they are minor constituents).  Since most of that heat goes into our oceans, we can get a good approximation of the rate of the Earth’s heat increase simply by observations of the total heat content of our oceans (which is given by the known mass and heat capacity of the oceans times the temperatures measured at all locations.  Since the proper scientific unit used for expressing the magnitude of that heat energy (zettajoules per year) is difficult for the non-scientist to envision, an equivalent term is often used instead.  That term is the “Hiro” and is equal to the heat energy released by one Hiroshima-type atomic bomb.

When I have previously used that term in presentations to the public, the magnitude of heat energy increase was then estimated to be about 4 Hiros per second.  More recently, it has increased to 5 Hiros per second and shows no sign of decreasing.  There is absolutely no doubt that the warming of our planet is occurring and is doing so on a massive scale.

For more detail on the subject of the Earth’s increasing total heat content, see skepticalscience.com/earth-warming-5-atomic-bombs-per-sec.html

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | January 12, 2020

Carbon offsets do not help reduce global warming

Carbon offsets are increasingly being paid by individuals and organizations in order to compensate for their carbon emissions when indulging in various carbon-intensive activities.  This method of offsetting one’s CO2 emissions is becoming especially popular for the compensation of the carbon emissions invariably produced by aircraft travel.  A large scale example of this was provided on this website in a July post called “Rick Steves needs to reconsider”.  These schemes rarely compensate for the warming effect of the original activity, however.  And, in many cases, have net effects that are worse than doing nothing.  The main driving force behind carbon offsets appears to be merely the soothing the carbon emitter’s conscience.

Kevin Anderson, an international leader of climate change research has thoroughly explained all of this in a recent article which I’ll simply refer you to here:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/223987421_The_inconvenient_Truth_of_Carbon_Offsets

In the next two paragraphs, I have provided a specific example he cites which clearly conveys his message.

“Assume I broke my (self-imposed) seven-year refusal to fly, paid my £35 offset and boarded a plane from Manchester to London for the conference. In doing so, I add to the already severe congestion at airports, causing delays and allowing politicians to argue for greater airport capacity, arguments only reinforced by the rise in passengers turning to offsets. To meet increasing demand, airlines are encouraged to order new aircraft, which they promise will be more efficient. Feeling pressure, a future government approves new runways, but the extra flights and emissions swamp efficiency gains from the cleaner engines.

Meanwhile, in an Indian village where my offset money has helped to fund a wind turbine, the villagers now have the (low-carbon) electricity to watch television, which provides advertisers of a petrol-fueled moped with more viewers, and customers. A fuel depot follows, to meet the new demand, and encourages others to invest in old trucks to transport goods between villages. Within 30 years, the village and surroundings have new roads and many more petrol-fueled mopeds, cars and trucks. Meanwhile, the emissions from my original flight are still having a warming impact, and will do for another 100 years or so.

Where is the offset in that?” Anderson then asks.  The answer, of course, is that there is none.

I will add that an additional concern in using carbon offsets would be that extensive monitoring of the subsequent effects of the original offset payment would be required in order to ensure that each offset would not be misused leading to additional warming – as suggested in Anderson’s example.

 

 

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | August 6, 2019

Climate Science and Religion

The relationship between science, in general, and religion has been pondered continuously since and probably before the development of human civilizations several thousand years ago. Therefore, what I am about to say concerning the relationship between climate science specifically and religion will certainly not be new. It will simply be my own personal feelings about what I think this relationship should be. At the same time, I believe my thoughts are of a “common sense” nature and are possibly shared by many religions and cultures.

At the very top of this web site, under the tab called Scientific Basics, I have provided a brief account of what I think are the basic and most important scientific points regarding global warming. Therefore, for that scientific information, I will simply refer you to that tab. How religion is related to this subject requires some additional basic assumptions, however, to be made concerning the tenets of the specific religion chosen for this comparison. While there are perhaps hundreds of different religions to choose from, I am going to take the author’s privilege here of choosing the one that I was raised under – that of Christianity as it was typically offered to the descendants of Norwegian immigrants to the midwestern states of America when I was a young man. A convenience of this choice is that the basic tenets of the American Lutheran Church were then and still are very similar to those of many other American synods, including those of the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Congregationalists and Baptists.

So, what were those messages that are still pertinent to the subject of climate change that I received from my religious instructions? First of all, those messages were not limited to issues concerning my own personal benefit. That is, “it’s not all about me” was a central theme. Any religion whose beliefs are limited to “self” would obviously be of no assistance to a “community” problem such as global warming and, I am glad to say, my religion was not of that variety.

In addition, I will clearly state at the onset that the messages I received did not suggest that we should leave complex global phenomena – especially if partially caused by mankind – in the hands of the Lord – with the excuse that those issues are just too complex and too far beyond our comprehension to deal with. To that suggestion, I say “no way!”, that is also not the religion I signed on to. Instead, I was taught that the problems we create in our lives are ours to solve – with God’s assistance, hopefully, and not simply by watching “God’s will be done”. There was much more to the lessons I was learned than that.

I did learn, for example, that God is likely to help those who do their best to help themselves and their fellow man (note that this statement carries essentially the same meaning as that promoted by Charles Darwin, the survival of the fittest species).  And just think for a moment about the fantastic tool He has given mankind specifically for addressing difficult tasks. That tool, of course is, our remarkable brain – that has been shown to be capable of understanding and addressing exceedingly difficult problems many of which have been more scientifically difficult than those affecting our climate. In view of the enormity of this gift of human intelligence, in my book, at least, it would be nothing short of a monumental Sin to not use that gift for preserving another great gift, that is our planet Earth – as opposed to letting it degrade by scientifically ill-advised misuse.

And, we now know that we are on the very edge of committing that unforgivable Sin. We are, indeed, about to hand off to succeeding generations a planet that is horribly damaged, at the very least, and might not even be sustainable for our grandchildren and their families.

The most unforgivable part of this Sin is that we did, in fact, know better. The science associated with climate has been steadily revealed for about two centuries culminating in 1988 with the testimony by leading American scientist, Dr. James Hansen, before the US Senate concerning evidence for the rapid warming of our planet by the combustion of fossil fuels. While Hansen’s testimony prompted extensive additional research which consistently supported and enhanced Hansen’s dire predictions, that science has also been largely unheeded by the leaders of our country, who have continuously succumbed to the appeals of our business-as-usual commercial interests and the fossil fuel industries.

Thus, for the last 30 years since Hansen’s testimony, we have used our brains appropriately to understand what’s happening to our planet, but not for responding to that information. That is, we continued to sell out the interests of future human beings so that we could enjoy ever more material extravagances. Thus, our two unforgivable Sins have been the misuse of our God-given gift of intelligence and our shameful disregard of our intergenerational responsibilities.

Therefore, according to the mores instilled in me by my religious training, the inhabitants of our special planet don’t deserve God’s assistance in cleaning up the mess we’ve made of it – because we have made such abysmal use of those two great gifts he has given us. We have paid insufficient attention to the only means – scientific knowledge – we have of avoiding our environmental predicament. In fact, we have done our best to marginalize the messages provided by the most gifted of our scientifically-inclined minds.

The only remaining question is: can our “ship of fools” be overtaken and turned around immediately in the nick of time by our still suspect set of passengers. Not even my religious training provides an answer to that one. One thing I do believe, however, is that the God I envision is not going to do the job for us while the people said to have been made in his image continue to misuse their brains for the trivial purpose of increasing their material comfort well beyond the necessary and points of sustainability .

Throughout the development of the Christian religion a point of discussion has revolved around the question of whether good works or faith is more important in being accepted into the community of God. For those that have preferred the teachings of the Apostle Paul, faith has been considered to be the more important of the two. Unfortunately, this choice might lead some self-professed Christians to put less importance on the preservation of Earth because he or she might consider faith alone to be sufficient to be “saved”. But, not so by my understanding of the Christian Religion. If good works are not considered to be of primary importance by an individual, good works are still expected to follow naturally from of a faith-based conversion – if that person is truly committed to the tenets of Christianity set forth by the example of Jesus of Nazareth. That is, one cannot claim to be a true Christion simply by “talking the talk” of one’s beliefs. One must also “walk the walk” of good works and these, of course, include the fulfilment of our responsibilities to our planet and its future inhabitants. If preserving our planet for its future inhabitants isn’t the most important of unresolved deeds before us, I don’t know what is.

The science of global warming is now essentially complete.  Thus, global warming is now primarily a moral issue to be determined by our collective concern for others. This means that where this issue goes from here on resides more in the domains of religion and philosophy than science.  So yes, indeed, religion and climate are intimately related.

 

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | July 27, 2019

Denier’s claim concerning natural climate cycles demolished

The deniers of man-caused warming have made a major issue out of the unusual climates observed in specific regions of the northern hemisphere during the last millennium and have claimed that these unusual climates of the past prove that natural variations of climate are more important than any man-caused changes and are responsible for recently observed warming trends.

As shown in the figure below, two of these periods are known as the Medieval Warm Period (MWP)and the Little Ice Age (LIA) occurring over the years indicated in the figure. Also shown are the temperatures observed over the Modern Period (approximately the last two centuries).

T over 2000 years

The deniers have claimed that some of these measurements prove that the temperature variations observed recently during in the Modern Period are very likely due to natural variations such as those that caused the MWP and the LIA, both of which occurred long before large amounts of greenhouse gases were emitted by mankind beginning with the onset of the Industrial Age in about 1850. The blue line, showing the temperatures observed specifically in London region of central England, provided the evidence used by the deniers to argue for the existence of large natural cycles. Note however that the measurements of the average annual temperatures observed over the entire Northern Hemisphere (red line) do not show unusual temperatures during either the MWP or the LIA. Thus, a remaining question has been: do the MWP and the LIA represent periods of total global warming and cooling or were they caused merely by regional weather patterns along with no net changes in the average total global climate.

Three new research papers have very recently been published that directly address this question and each of them provide strong evidence for no anomalous periods of unusually low or unusually high average global temperatures over an extended period from 2,000 years ago up to the beginning of the Industrial Age. That is, these new measurements of total Northern and Southern Hemispheric annual average temperatures most closely resemble those of the red line shown above for the last millennium and also showed no such anomalous periods during the previous millennium. This new research suggests that there have been no significant natural cycles of global climate for the last 2,000 years and that the warming observed throughout our planet during the recent Modern Period is due to a new and different, unnatural phenomenon, such as that caused by the emission of greenhouse gases by mankind.

For an account of and references to the three new research papers that has provided this new insight, I will refer you to an article in the Science News magazine.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/global-warming-today-unlike-last-2000-years-climate-shifts?mode=pick&context=121

 

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | July 21, 2019

Understanding our not so representative government

In trying to address any issue of national importance, including climate change, it is essential to understand what our present political system is and where it came from. In particular, it is necessary to understand why, in a country that claims to have a one-person, one-vote electoral process, aren’t the interests of the low-to-middle income citizens more evident. Afterall, the low-to-middle income groups constitute the vast majority of Americans. So why, for example, would the bulk of workers have salaries and benefits that are typically much less than 1% of those of the CEO’s and upper management class. And since the extremely wealthy constitutes less than a few percent of our total population, why are our tax laws so disproportionally favorable to them. And why does the sum total of the bottom 50% of our population makes so much less than that of the top 5% while that bottom 50% struggles to secure basic amenities, such as health care and university educations for their children. While some might think these enormous differences are justified, it is nevertheless an enigma to ponder how we came go have this contradictory system – a one-person, one-vote electoral system along with vast differences in personal incomes and benefits. I will give that explanation my best shot here.

First, try to imagine the challenge presented to the Republican Party in preparing for  elections. Their main objective today is to keep as much money as possible in the pockets of the top 5% via the passage of legislation favorable to them. In order to do that they need to gain control of much of congress and the Presidency. But how can they do that if their main issues benefit only the top 5% of the voting public? If they were honest in expressing their real objective, they would be hammered at the polls.

The GOP’s answer to this has been to get as many votes as they can from various splinter groups in the country by endorsing the fringe issues that are of central importance to those groups. Thus, we find the Republicans leading the charge on various controversial side issues that are of little importance to the wealthy. These issues might concern abortion, religion, gender and racial inequality, gun control, and immigration policies, for examples. Some of these are hot button issues and have great potential for securing votes from the so-called “base” of our new-age Republican Party.  Thus, this new Republican Party now consists of a few multimillionaires and a massive collection of oddball, single-issue enthusiasts.

Then President Trump enters this scene and becomes a superstar within the Republican Party – because he is so widely admired by “his base” who bring in those old ball votes. While his antics in presenting himself and the phony issues of his party are viewed as deplorable by Democrats and Independents, they are a source of delight for the Republicans. The worse Trump behaves and the more irresponsible his views, the more his base loves him. In his way, Donald Trump has helped the Republicans win offices throughout the USA during the last several years and has simultaneously made our country appear to be that “basket of deplorables”, indeed. In addition, he has caused his base to vote against issues that are actually of great importance to them, such as basic health care and education for their children.

While you might wish that the traditional Republicans would be more than a little ashamed of their new President, there has been very little evidence of that, so far. After all, Trump has helped them win votes and secure offices in DC, all of which allows the main objective of the top 5% to be achieved. Thus, the traditional Republicans are hesitant to criticize this “golden goose” who provides for them the misplaced and irresponsible votes of Trump’s base.

Without use of real information, Trump has skillfully fooled his base supporters with falsehoods and one-liners repeated endlessly and with great assurance. He has perhaps not yet raised himself to the lever of our planet’s very best spellbinding BSer, Adolf Hitler, but he appears to be getting there. His mesmerized audiences do resemble those of the Fuhrer in the 1930’s and while Hitler required considerable police and military assistance to achieve the highest offices in Germany, Trump has done this merely by BSing.

In summary, our government is the way it is largely because of one well-organized political party whose main interests are merely the maintenance of the status quo and wealth for the top 5%. All of this has been accomplished by getting the votes of a vulnerable fraction of lower income Americans that don’t’ realize they are being taken for a ride by a President who cares less about them and our country than he does the maintenance of his own ill-begotten wealth and reputation.

OK, but what’s wrong with this if the Republicans have done it by totally legal means? The leaders of the Republican Party have accomplished this without landing in jail, although a few Trump facilitators have been tried and convicted. Thus, the strategy of the Republicans and Trump described would appear to have been a resounding success within our democratic system. All of this adds credence to Winston Churchill’s quotation: “The best argument against a democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter” and to that of Will Rogers who added: “we have the best government money can buy”. Fortunately, Churchill also thought: “democracy is the worst form of government there is – except for all the others” and that: “Americans will find the best course of action – after they have tried all the others.”

Putting all of the above together, we should hope that someday soon we will have a representative government that is easier to understand and is facilitated by the advantages of credibility and common sense. Only if people understand and support their government can great challenges be successfully addressed. Concerning the most important issue of climate change, the only way the present Republican Party would ever support it would be if the wealthy 5% figures out a way to make a lot of money from it. Because they are so deeply invested in our fossil-fuel-saturated business-as-usual economy, however, that outcome seems very unlikely. Therefore, it presently appears that the Democrats, only, offer any hope of addressing this issue in a timely manner and we should all wish them well in 2020.

In the upcoming debates among the Democratic candidates for 2020, we should dedicate at least one of them to the single issue of climate change.

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | July 10, 2019

Rick Steves needs to think again

Rick Steves has just announced his new idea for making up for the negative environmental effects of the air travel prompted by his popular PBS program, “Rick Steves’ Europe”.

His new idea can be seen at https://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/clim,,ate-smart-commitment/

Starting this year, Rick Steves’ Europe will invest $1 million a year in a portfolio of nonprofits that fight climate change and help the people it’s hitting the hardest. They figure it takes about $30 of careful investment in environmental initiatives in the developing world to mitigate the carbon emissions created by one tourist traveling from the United States to Europe and back. About 30,000 people travel on tours sponsored by Rick Steves each year. Therefore, they believe that their $1 mlllion donations will make up for the damage to our atmosphere done by their travelling customers.

Steves’ explains the rational of this program as follows: “Travelers face a dilemma: While international travel is one of the best ways to become a better global citizen, every flight emits damaging carbon into the atmosphere. Fortunately, it’s possible to mitigate this environmental toll. Each year, Rick Steves’ Europe invests $1 million in a portfolio of nonprofits that are making a big difference. That means that each traveler who takes a Rick Steves’ Europe tour can enjoy the peace of mind that they are traveling climate smart.”

Unfortunately, Steves’ logic needs at lot of work. It is not, in fact, possible to effectively mitigate enormous additional emissions of CO2. The world is on the brink of catastrophic global warming and it needs to cut global emission now! period. Steves is trying to sooth the consciences of his travelling customers while he is promoting more travel and more emissions of carbon. In addition, the carbon footprint of poor people in third world countries is already very low relative to the more developed countries. Steves’ new program will not lower the C foot prints of those poor folks. Thus, global CO2 emissions will not thereby be diminished by his program and, instead, they are more likely to be increased as more travelers learn from Steves how to overcome their consciences.

I am therefore disappointed by Steves’ witless proposal. I had hoped that he would adopt a much better plan such as the following. Rick Steves’ Europe already provides the public with many “trips” of sorts to all places in Europe. His existing TV programs provide a virtual visit to places that I am not likely to travel to because of my own interest in low C emissions. I can stay home and still undergo the virtual visits he provides in each of his programs.

So, the question I have is why is Steves doing this and why does he end each of his programs with his “keep on travelling” directive to his audience? He is doing a good job of “taking us along” via his existing PBS programs. So why is it necessary for him to encourage his multitude of listeners to literally duplicate in person the virtual trips he is providing?

Sadly, I suspect that the main reason for this is that Steves’ PBS programs are at the very least partially financed by our extensive airline and travel industries which desperately needs to keep the American public “on the move”. While I have some sympathy for industries that have painted themselves into a corner by their addiction to fossil fuels, I have much more sympathy for the rights of future generations to not have to bear the mistakes of their predecessors. Steves would do us all a great favor by releasing himself from the death grip of our fossil-fuel and travel industries and think again about how he can better serve the present needs of society.

 

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | June 14, 2019

Some overdue criticism of the airlines

The article referred to below is a “must read” for the multitude of Americans that are so in love with and/or dependent on travel by aircraft that they ignore its great contribution to global warming.  See it at:

http://www.politico.eu/article/the-popular-revolt-against-flying-climate-european-airlines-carbon-emissions/

This article explains why air travel is not about to be rescued by any of the technological developments that have been envisioned, to date.  So, if you or your institution of employment are “frequent flyers”, you will be one of the major contributors to future global warming and there is no remedy for that offense that is either in the works or in the planning stage.

Sorry, but the Earth is, indeed, a finite place that does not have the ability to rid itself of all pollutants.  Concerning that of CO2, we are already well past that limit with little chance of its removal. In case you don’t know, travel by aircraft produces a lot of CO2 and is doing so more every year. Surface transport alternatives are much better with respect to addressing this problem but, of course, that would require changes in lifestyles that might not be considered worthwhile for many.

Unfortunately, this message applies to everyone, even the extensive Studies Abroad Programs of St. Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota, for example, that apparently thinks their CO2 emissions are of an ethical type that don’t matter. It is most distressing that even our institutions of higher education need to be told this.  The reaches of the airline travel and the fossil fuel industries are, indeed, long and strong constituting a literal “death grip” on American society.

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | June 6, 2019

Arresting the advance of global warming in 2020

The sorry state of our planet today with respect to its continuous heating by man-made atmospheric greenhouse gases can be attributed to the lack of attention given this problem by all administrations of the USA since 1988 when the scientific case for troubles ahead was clearly spelled out to the administration of George H. W. Bush by America’s leading climate scientist, James Hansen.  If action against climate had been begun then, we would have been able to avoid the worst consequences of warming. Most unfortunately for all of us and our decedents, that did not happen.

While professing concern about global warming in 1988, the first Bush administration decided to take no action at that time – that is, to “wait and see” seemed to be the prudent thing to do to George H.W.  It is also true that John Sununu, Bush’s Chief of Staff had inappropriately assumed the role of in-house science expert and believed that Hansen’s view was fraught with error (which time has shown not to be the case).  Unfortunately, the President tended to defer to Sununu’s view in this matter.

It was also most unfortunate that at that time the major oil companies, who up until then had provided some of the best research concerning greenhouse gas warming, decided to stop doing that research because it was suggesting troubles ahead for the use of their products. So, instead, they decided to use their resources for spreading doubt concerning the science being undertaken on this topic by others.  As a result of these events in that critical year of 1988, the world lost its best chance to take effective and timely action.

The following Clinton administration also expressed some concern but provided little, if any, action – in spite of the fact that Al Gore was the Vice President at that time.  The next President, George W. Bush got elected by claiming to be just as concerned as his competitor, Al Gore, but then pulled the rug from under his progressive new head of the EPA, Christine Todd Whitman, as soon as the fossil fuel industries pushed back on the initial actions of Ms. Whitman.

Thus, during the first critical decade of the 21st Century, essentially nothing was done to arrest the alarming increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Sad to say that during the following administration of the Democrat, Barack Obama, very little, other than talk, also occurred. Obama’s first priority was to institute a national health care system and the Republican’s opposition to that issue seemed to consume almost all national attention during Obama’s two terms.

And now we presently have a president, Donald Trump, who is probably the most ill-focused and least progressive US president of all times. One of the few things we know for sure about this man is that he is one of the world’s strongest deniers of the science behind global warming and is one of the fossil fuels industry’s greatest supporters, strongly advocating more oil and gas exploration and extraction.

Because of the above, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has now risen to about 410 part per millions – which is about 50% higher than it was prior to the fossil-fuel-driven Industrial Age.  Life as we know it today cannot be sustained with that level of atmospheric CO2 and still, we are adding an additional 2-3 ppm CO2 to it ever year. While the best science tells us that we need to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level to about 350 ppm within the next few decades, we haven’t even managed to level off man-caused annual emissions yet, much less reduce them.

So, what should be the greatest priority of a new Democratic administration should we manage to get one after the upcoming elections of 2020. In my opinion, it is obvious that it has to include very strong action against the further advance of global warming. If we are not successful in that endeavor, which now has indeed become a very formidable task, no other issues of humanity will matter within a very few decades.

Some good news is that, finally, the issue has become one of highest priorities for one of our political parties – the Democrats. Most of their candidates for the 2020 presidency appear to be of that opinion.  As usual, however, the Republicans will not be supportive and are sure to hammer the democrats for supporting the great system changes that will be required.  It is true that success in the battle against climate change will require major changes to the fossil-fuel-drenched business- as-usual system that we have become so addicted to.

So, even though this battle is sure to be very difficult, it appears, at least, that the issue will now finally be put to the electorate in the primary and national elections of 2020.  Note that in the present year, the issue of climate change will be front and center, as opposed to it not even being mentioned in the candidate debates prior to 2016. Thus, what we do about this all-important issue will finally be up to the voting public.  Hopefully, they will prove to be more responsible than their elected officials have been for the last 30 years.

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