Climate fight is a street fight

Illustration by Jen Oaks


Prolonged warm-weather droughts seem a normal part of California life, but the intensity of drought impacts — shrinking snowpack, intense wildfires, crop failures, and the devastation of wildlife habitat and fisheries — is likely accentuated by global warming.

So it's not enough to simply save water. In this drought, our sense of urgency about global warming should be ramped up. The science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, respected scientists like James Hansen, and even the World Bank (historically no friend to radical ecologists) all stress that droughts will get worse unless greenhouse gas emissions peak in the next decade.

The science is clear. If we are to avoid a disastrous future of ecological upheaval, violence, and forced mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people (many of whom produce the least amount of carbon emissions) then we must dramatically reduce emissions now, and we must do it in a globally fair and equitable way. And to be fair and equitable, we must reduce driving. Here's why.

Globally, transportation is the fastest growing sector of greenhouse emissions, owing in large measure to the expansion of global automobility. Presently 500 million passenger cars are in use (approximately one-third of them in the United States), but by 2030, this figure is expected to reach 1 billion worldwide.

This increase in automobility will contribute substantially to the "trillionth ton" of cumulative carbon emissions, which is an emissions threshold signaling global climate catastrophe. Today we are more than halfway there (556 billion tons). At current rates of consumption, including America's ownership of 800 cars and trucks per 1,000 persons, we hit the trillionth ton in 28 years.

To avoid this, we must keep as much fossil fuel as possible in the ground. Because the United States is disproportionately responsible for at least 27 percent of the cumulative carbon emissions since industrialization, and has a disproportionate number of cars compared to the rest of the world, we in the United States have a particular responsibility to keep carbon in the ground.

If China, which has produced 10 percent of global emissions so far, had the same per capita car ownership rate as the United States, there would be over 500 million more cars, doubling the current worldwide rate. This would be madness. It would be worse than building the Keystone pipeline, which is what Hansen called "game over" for the global climate because it's a spigot into the sticky, tarlike oils in Alberta which, if fully tapped, would be a carbon time bomb.

Ask yourself this: If China (and possibly India) successfully copy American-style driving, how much tar sands would that require? What kind of world would that look like? And if Americans (and especially environmentalists) expect the global middle class in China and India to stand aside while we keep on driving, that is stark, crass, and inequitable.

Many well-meaning environmentalists and progressives think that driving a Prius or buying an electric car will be adequate in mitigating this conundrum. They must reconsider. There is no "green" car when a global middle class replicates American driving patterns.

If the world's fleet of gasoline-powered automobiles magically shifts to electric, hydrogen fuel cells, or biofuels, the change will draw resources away from industrial, residential, and food systems, or it will have to involve an entirely new layer of energy production (more tar sands). Massive quantities of coal and petroleum will be needed to scale-up to wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear, and other arrays of energy, as well as for all the new "clean cars."

Are environmentalists still planning to drive around the Bay Area while waiting for this magic? I sure hope not.


We see it as another cheap attempt to undermine american competitiveness, thereby helping our communist rivals

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

You can't be serious. I just laughed so hard at this piece of wingnut idiocy that I almost fell out of my chair.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 6:21 pm

Where's the proof?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 6:49 pm
Posted by Honestly on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 7:03 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 8:13 am

Now look here, @Guest, we're paying you people good money to hop onto every comment board and deny global warming, but you're going to have to do better than this. Drag in the usual long-debunked arguments, jazz them up a bit. Repeating Fox News talking points only works to some extent.

Remember our motto: People Do.

Posted by John Watson on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

very happy to refute it. But so far you have not.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

In 8 minutes enough solar energy hits SF to power the whole city for one year. Solar energy is free, safe, quiet, unlimited & clean.

Oil is strangling us, increasing lung cancer, causing this 20 year drought by forcing the jet stream up over Canada, & dropping our rain in England.

Gas fracking is making our water toxic & destroying our land.
Fracking wells only last for 2 years.
The damage fracking does lasts for 50 years, or longer.

Oil prices & costs keep going up every year.
Solar panel prices keep falling every year.
Solar is now cheaper than gas or any fossil fuel.

If you want to see the future, Google Wildpoldsried, Germany, where one small village makes 333% more solar than it uses.
Germany is now the greenest nation on earth.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 9:45 pm

Much worse than what we're experiencing today. That proves global warming has been going on now for over 600 years.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

"Oh, we just had some weather. Obviously it's global warming".


Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 6:57 pm

Not being drenched with rain over the past year = global warming. Rainy period in 2004 = global warming. Normal rain in 2007 = global warming. Drought in 1560 = global warming. Little ice age = global warming. Dinosaur extinction = global warming.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 7:20 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 8:14 am

Leading climate change scientists and meteorologists around the world have successfully proven that climate change is indeed a crisis and a threat to our species and our planet.

Why do you hate success so much?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 10:03 am

have come to the conclusion that global warming exists? I guess they do not want to lose their jobs.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 10:20 am

Global average temperatures increasing = global warming. I can't figure out how that truism can be debunked.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:25 am

the human race showed up. but humans love to see patterns where there is randomness. Especially if there is a political agenda associated with it.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:45 am

Perhaps because global average temperatures aren't increasing?

That why they shifted their rhetoric from "global warming" to "climate change" - because "global warming" seemed to indicate that the planet was, in fact, warming, which it currently isn't.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:49 am

because then they can use confirmation bias to claim that every time we have "weather" or any kind of natural phenomenon, it is evidence for the climate change hypothesis.

Like we haven't always had changing weather.,

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 10:05 am

Psst, we're backing off that talking point. People have been publicizing the fact that the alleged renaming is a Republican strategy:

Posted by Frank Luntz on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 5:08 pm

I find it so funny (also scary though) that people still use the threat of communism as a bogey - I refer to first comment on this page - 60 years after Mac Carthy's not to be proud of hunt; this to deny a demonstrated fact: average temperature is rising, thereof mankind is at least partially responsible, even if some other causes may exist. If you have any respect to the future generations (and ancient ones who let earth a chance), just apply to yourself the precaution principle and start to change your destructive habits and way of thinking. People from occidental countries think they will not suffer from global warming because they have technology to face it. This is selfish. And they are wrong. They are not Gods.

Posted by newguest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:25 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

Go ahead and disprove it instead of spouting rhetoric and then we'll talk.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 10:03 am

You're the one with the hypothesis, so the burden of proof is on you, else the default is that it is a myth.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 10:12 am

Here's the thing about climate change denial.
First, let's reflect on the fact that "97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC (Anthropogenic Climate Change) outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change".
OK, so if you're going to take a stance opposite to the scientific consensus, then you have to explain why the scientific consensus is wrong, or why you have a better explanation than the current scientific consensus.
In doing so, you have to make what I can see as being one of two claims (if this is a false dichotomy please actually provide an alternative explanation).
These two claims are as follows.
1) The scientific community is unwittingly misleading the public. Their analysis is wrong but they don't know it's wrong.
2) The scientific community is willingly misleading the public. They know their conclusions aren't solid but they are pushing these claims as part of a wider agenda.
Let's look at statement 1) first.
If you're making this assertion, you're claiming that a huge majority of climate scientists, essentially, don't know what they're doing. They are so incapable of reading the data in a reasonable way that they have all come to an incorrect conclusion.
In other words, you're claiming that institutions ranging from 32 National Science Academies, to the Royal Meteorological Society, to the American Medical Association and hundreds of others are so incompetent at performing and interpreting scientific experiments that they have just gotten this one way, way wrong.
Now, the scientific community has been largely wrong before. Previously held scientific views that have been rigidly defended by the scientific majority have turned out to be incorrect. There is no reason to say this won't be the case when it comes to anthropocentric climate change.
But you have to consider the relative likelihood of almost the world's entire scientific community being completely wrong. Far more large scientific principles turn out to be largely correct than those that turn out to be almost completely wrong.
Pointing to previous failures of the scientific majority to see clearly does not make the case that such a situation is in any way likely when it comes to climate change, because those instances are far, far more rare than the cases where science successfully builds on itself and shows prior predictions to be true.
To claim that, with a few exceptions, our complete scientific system is completely wrong on a major issue is to make claims about the credibility of some of the largest and most stringently perfectionist institutions on the planet. Scientists take science very, very seriously and being right is the prize that the vast majority of them are seeking.
Which leads to statement 2).
To make this claim you are asserting that scientists the world over are participating in one of the largest and most elaborate shams in the history of the planet.
You are asserting that hundreds of huge scientific institutions, and thousands upon thousands on individual scientists who stake their careers on being accurate and credible, are taking part in a deceptive sham.
You are essentially asserting that the entire global scientific institution has managed to keep the biggest lie in history completely under wraps.
This is conspiracy thinking on a level that is pretty much unheard of. And it leads to the obvious question of why?
What possible reason could most of the world's largest and most well-respected scientific institutions have to stake their credibility (which, in science, means your very existence) on a lie?
The only explanation given is for "more grant money", as if the hundreds of billions of dollars invested in science are worth risking for a government loan in one particular field.
And that raises the related question that, if the scientific community is capable of a conspiracy as spectacularly successful as this, why aren't other scientific fields predicting similarly apocalyptic scenarios as a way to secure grant money themselves? Why is this the standalone conspiracy in an institution that is otherwise shown to be incredibly accurate and reliable throughout its modern history?

Fucking idiot trolls make me sick.

Posted by Tim Daw on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 8:55 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:11 am

They get paid to research the climate. There is no bonus for specific conclusions.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:29 am

"They get paid to research the climate. There is no bonus for specific conclusions."

LOL. No global warming, no grants.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:38 am

but for the obsessional idea that global warming exists.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:45 am

Arguments from authority carry less weight than you think.

For a scientific hypothesis to be valid, it has to be refutable. There has been no appreciable global warming for sixteen years now.

What evidence would be enough to invalidate the AGW scientific hypothesis?

Twenty-five years of no appreciable global warming?


A century?

Please indicate what evidence would be sufficient to refute AGW - if the hypothesis cannot be refuted, it is not science.

If this is "science", this is "science" in the spirit of Trofim Lysenko (google him).

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:38 am

The scientific panel ( IPCC : International Panel on Climate Change) made a very detailed report; their summary can be found @ url:
Extract: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished..."

If anyone is denying that there is global warming, then he claims that scientists did not know how to use a thermometer (or infra-red measurements from satellites...) 60 years long, which is ridiculous. Even the most skeptical honest scientists do not deny warming itself, they are just doubtful that warming is related to human activity.
So I consider being a waste of time to debate with people who deny the most obvious facts. Those people do not seek the truth, they seek the arguments to keep on living with their good old comfortable habits, with a fake clear conscience.

Posted by newguest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

biased about whether it exists?

Is that your point?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

This is just a mole barrier. It is used to indicate when denialist trolls (whether paid or missing a paycheck) attempt to bait people into a game of whack-a-mole.

Posted by Mole Burier on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

You are that certain you are right?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

obedience and adherence to doctrine. Anything even slightly contrarian is viewed with deep suspicion and hostility.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

And tell them to stop driving. BTW - California has already reduced fossil fuel usage over the last 2 decades. Meanwhile, China's auto fleet is growing, and there are no devices on their cars to reduce emissisons. Global warming is a problem - a global problem.

Posted by Richmondman on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

The Climate Change ship has sailed; future generations will have to contend with it.

Meanwhile, in the People Republic of San Franistan, people have to get to work, take their kids to school, and go grocery shopping. Uber, Lyft, ZipCar, employer shuttles and City Car Share popularity have surged as alternatives to suffering on Muni.

Muni is not only unpleasant, but it doesn't serve the needs of professionals, families, seniors, or disabled; or simply those whose work hours don't coincide with Muni's spotty service.

Giving part of Muni's general fund to Free Rides for Youth only undermines reliability and further disincentivises use. Floating "fix the roads" bonds, gouging for parking and fines, then using ALL the money for Bike lanes (used by a tiny minority of residents), and traffic lane and parking removal, will ensure future funding is voted down.

But I see no real incentives for taking Muni. Facilities are slow, crowded, dirty, smelly, noisy, and unreliable. Nothing has really improved in the last 25 years. Light Rail lines are slow. We should have a city-wide subway system, just like all the great cities of the world have had for decades.

Yet we continue to destroy business along Market St., and create artificial congestion along most major thoroughfares, increasing air pollution. Octavia Boulevard is an enormous and expensive failure, with dangerous and confusing intersections, and 24/7 traffic jams in both directions. Embarcadero isn't timed, except for creating more congestion. And now we want to tear down I-280?

YOU CANNOT PUNISH PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR CARS. Not without viable, convenient, reliable and PLEASANT alternatives. Yet there's no discussion of WHY people must drive, or how we could potentially accommodate them.

Case in point, SFMTA aka "Motorist Torment Authority" has no representation for the over 70% of residents who must drive.

We should think BIG here. Fund city-wide subway facilities. Incentivize green vehicle ownership and use. Cease destroying roadway facilities as a failed policy to disincentivize driving.

Posted by Rlrcoaster on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

@Rlrcoaster - Bikes everywhere, all the time. Forced upon you, personally. Be afwaid, be vewwy afwaid.

Posted by Selfish Fascist Bully Coalition on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

of transport. Even a car can carry other people.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

well written on re-purposing over built land uses to mitigate climate change. Parking must be priced to boost lower ridership runs and lower the cost of using of transit.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2014 @ 7:12 pm

We can't wait for the next decade, the problems are already here from 0.8 Deg average warming with a commitment to 1.5. Cascade impacts in lost snow packs, increased drought cycles, temperature extremes and larger fires are already impacting California from the modified state of water. The risk profiles must be built into the destructive land uses.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2014 @ 7:28 pm

Right now it sounds like Drupal is the best blogging platform available right
now. (from what I've read) Is that what you're using on your blog?

Posted by www on May. 13, 2014 @ 6:54 pm

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