What do I think, What can I do?

Posts tagged ‘joe romm’


Book cover, Image from Wikipedia

I recently finished reading this wonderful book, located 199 years from now, more or less. This science fiction novel describes a solar system vastly colonized and terraformed with many new worlds (Mars, Saturn league, Venus) starting to compete with an overpopulated and at the same time desastrous Earth planet. In many senses it is a continuation of the famous and successful Mars Trilogy from the same author: Kim Stanley Robinson. Many of the future trends are similar in both as the flourishing solar system colonies with a decadent but still strong Earth, the differences between spacers and terrans, the struggle between Earths capitalism and new Mondragon based cooperative economies, the longevity treatments and consequent change of living ages, relationships, social structures,… But there is an important difference, at least from this blog point of view, in Mars trilogy the Earths disaster explodes due to a volcano eruption in Antarctica, in 2312 it is climate change the main factor for social unrest and hunger in Earth due to sea level rise, loose of arable land, ocean acidification, extreme weather,…

Each time the book action closes to Earth the explicit climate change mentions are clear and countless (I have noted more than 15), for example:

  • Description of fife in the new Manhattan built over flooded streets is spectacular.
  • Same situation in other cities as Shanghai is mentioned.
  • Africa is suffocated by heat waves.
  • A terraforming project in Greenland is explained to stop ice cap melt.
  • The reanimation mentioned in the book consists of reintroducing several wild animals extinguished for loose of their habitats (animals struggling to survive nowadays).

This could be a the great book explicit and scientifically sound in climate change as Joe Romm asked, even if there are others from the same author more focused on that, I cannot talk about them because I have not read them, for the moment. This one is very clear and precise, considering what current scientific consensus thinks, and it is a great novel, already awarded a Nebula and nominated for the Hugo. And shows the importance gained by climate change challenge in the well informed Kim-Stanley-Robinson-future-world-prespective from the mid-nineties up to know (Mars trilogy was described as hiperealistic science fiction).


Climate Wars: The war on books.

This battle is not a real battle as the stolen email case (climategates vs. Herathland institute). It is
a different fight mostly dialectic but a fight after all. It is about books. One month ago a german book was considered a great success in skeptic blogs: Die Kalte Sonne. Two were the main reasons for skeptic joy, one of the authors had been an important environmentalist in Germany and the book was quite successful in Amazon Germany, at least before selling. Climate Hawks did not mention this too much except the answer in SKS, explaining the links of the author with energy industry and the mistakes contained in the book.

A bit later the most mentioned climatologists Michael Mann published a book about climate science and its wars. This book was harshly criticized by most famous skeptic blog WUWT as it uses to be anything Mann does. But this campaign reached again Amazon (definitively a battlefield) following the WUWT recommendation to vote it negatively. The defense came from Joe Romm in a nice to read post thinking about Amazons review system but at the same time taking care about ethics limits. In my opinion contrary to the emails one, this was a victorious battle, at least in the weapon choice. I bought Mann’s book for Kindle (I hope to read it someday).

At the same time this kind of books are not only interesting for their readers, the presentation of the book is a great opportunity for general media to remember climate change and say something meaningful and more effective than the book itself (I really have to put it in this year full list). And maybe someone will be interested enough to read it and get more conscious of climate change challenges.

Climate Wars: stolen emails

War , source: libcom.org

The discussion about climate change has many fronts. Last week one of the main issues was the stolen emails from Heartland Institute. It was in fact a kind of answer to the previous climategate1 and climategate2. The climategates were a series of emails stolen to East Anglia University climate scientists that skeptic blogs considered were probing the climate change failure. They just show discussion and reasonable doubt about climatologists and all the ingestisgations have found them no-gilty of fraud. The responsible of the theft is unkonwn.

In this last case, the Heartland Institute is a skeptic institution and the stolen emails show what was easy to suppose, that they are founded by big companies close to fossil fuels. There is a strong arguing about the veracity of one of the documents but everybody accepts that most are real. However, one of the main differences was that in this case the author of the theft has revealed himself and it is a known scientists and climate activist, Gleick.

The skeptic blogs have not stopped to mention this issue once and again, to say they knew it, to show that this probes climate science is a fake, to say that many others are like him,… Just a simple data, in the 6 days from February the 20th to February 26th it is the main topic for 20 posts in WUWT. More than 3 per day, I would not be able to make even 3!!! Really prolific. The rest of skeptic blogosphere follows the same behavior of course. In climate hawks blogosphere it is mentioned and even source of discussions between David Appell and Joe Romm.

One curious aspect is that Heartland Institute was very active using climategate emails to criticize many scientists, while now it is claiming that stolen emails should not be used against themand even send strong emails to many bloggers. The letter of many of the climatologists explaining this contradiction in first person is one of the few positive things of all this issue.

Because stealing those emails has not revealed too many new things but has situated this war in the battlefield wanted by skeptics, because the question here is not who has done it more ethically or who has stronger ethical reasons in this war, the question is that credibility is one of the biggest treasures in this war and the one who owns it (the science) is the one who can loose it in this kind of battlefield. We can not forget that we are saying to our fellow citizens: we have a big problem and we will have to change many things in our lives to cope with it. The skeptics are saying: forget about it, they are trying to lie. For this reason this action of Gleick is not only ethically acceptable because this is a war, it has even lead to a lost battle in the battlefield of credibility.

This way, we are discussing about what email was stolen or who wrote a document instead of thinking about what can we do to reduce our emissions and mitigate climate change.

Climate Change solved without sacrifice?

I read this news and I felt unconfortable. The original paper mentions some ways that should be quite effective to reduce black carbon production in the 3rd world. It says it would cause a double benefit: current generation people health improvement and reduction of climate change for future generations without the sacrifices derived from CO2 reduction policies. It refers to a science paper I have not read, so my views can be too superficial but I don’t like the idea behind, because I consider it dangerous.

It would be wonderful to solve the climate change problem with a technical advance or uniquely a win-win solution like this. It was done with the ozone layer problem by eliminating the CFCs, but I am afraid this time it is not so easy. Saying that any solution that involves economic sacrifice will not be implemented drives us to a dark future. I find it much more hopeful to say that short term economic sacrifice will lead us to a long term gain, as proposed by Tony Blair. In the other hand, selling the fantasy of an easy solution without sacrifice maybe dangerous and even counteracting, because we can loose a valuable time and we are running out of time.

By contrast, I like the approach of Joe Romm to combine this short term strategy with a long term CO2 reduction one. In some cases we do not have to choose, just take the best from each one.