Global Warming Rides Again

I love my employer.

I work at the Salt Lake City library(main branch), and I absolutely love the place. Spectacular building. Wonderful atmosphere. Well-designed children’s area. Great staff. And a commitment to providing terrific and stimulating programs for the community.

Among these programs are a number of lectures on a variety of topics, usually by visiting authors. In the last year or so, I’ve attended lectures by such speakers as Joel S. Hirschhorn, author of Sprawl Kills; and Joe Wilson, of the “Valerie Plame Leak” fiasco (and who, incidentally, told us he had purchased a house in Utah, and was now to be at least a part-time resident. Cool).

Last Thursday I attended the latest of the library’s lectures: Tim Flannery, author of the recent book The Weather Makers : How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth. Flannery, a renowned paleontologist, examined how humanity has impacted the world, and is driving a very dangerous climate change.

I’ve been very concerned about the environment for several years now. I do what I can to recycle, reduce consumption, etc, and supported legislative action on the subject. But for most of that time, I’ve been ambivalent about “global warming.” I don’t have the science background to evaluate the claims on both sides of the issue. The point seems moot to me anyway—there are enough more local concerns (at any given locality) to lead one to be more environmentally conscious.

But my opinion has become more firm over the last few years. Despite the protestations of those on the Right, there is a virtual consensus among the scientific community about the reality of global climate change. While there have always been fluctuations in the earth’s average temperature, the changes over the past several years have followed the model established by those who proposed the theory of global warming. Really the only scientists who reject the idea of global warming are those who are paid by the corporate world not to believe in global warming.

Flannery’s lecture was pretty persuasive in its presentation of the evidence of global warming (or “global climate change,” as he likes to call it—he thinks people are lulled into a false sense of security when we use friendly terms like “warming”). And he made clear that global climate change would likely reach a critical level within our lifetime if things go unchanged. This is no distant danger—we are speeding headlong towards the tipping point from which there may be no return.

The lecture was fascinating. I’m adding the book to my list of books to read.

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8 Responses to “Global Warming Rides Again”

  1. Brian Says:

    Does the library ever have conservative lecturers? I didn’t see any on the schedule.

    I heard a news report about 6 to 9 months ago that said we had already exceeded the tipping point. I hear about the “virtual consensus” but from my view they are supported by liberal leaning educational systems, the same as those paid by the corporate world lean the other way.

    How can you say “Really the only scientists who reject the idea of global warming are those who are paid by the corporate world not to believe in global warming.”? I don’t believe that.

    I look forward to reading more of your postings. By the way, your RSS feed doesn’t work.

  2. The Unknown Commenter Says:

    I like what you’ve done here so far. As a Latter-day Saint, what do you make of the view, common among many who share your faith, that environmental concerns are of secondary importance because (to oversimplify the argument) the Earth will be cleansed, purified, healed, whatever you want to call it, by a direct and immediate heavenly intervention at the time of the Second Coming? The point being, essentially, that if Jesus can snap his fingers (so to speak) and regrow an old-growth forest, for example, then why, in the here and now, should I bother with anyone’s concerns about clear-cutting (global warming, wilderness preservation, hazardous waste disposal, pollution, species extinction, etc.)?

  3. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Thanks, Brian. I’ll see what I can find out about the RSS feed.

    Joe Wilson voted for Bush I twice. But other than that, I’m not aware of any speaker who would be considered conservative.

    Our education system, particularly in the hard sciences (geology, physics, biology, et al) is liberal only to the extent that they are trying to deal with empirical facts and reality, and the conservative perspective is not as consistent with facts and reality.
    😉

    Name some scientists NOT employed by the corporate world who are critical of the theory of global climate change.

    You probably could dig some up, given enough time. But I’d be willing to bet that over 90% agree with the theory.

    That doesn’t in itself prove the theory. But it should at the very least make us give the idea some careful consideration.

    At worst, we’d be denying ourselves some material conveniences (shouldn’t we avoid materialism if we believe in the Gospel anyway?). At best, we may stave off some serious global catastrophies. Why not err on the safe side?

  4. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Thank-you, unidentified person;)

    I think that you give a fairly accurate portrayal of the view of a great many within LDS culture. There is certainly a strong millenarian strain among Mormons.

    I believe that such a view is inconsistent with LDS teachings. I plan to more completely explore the issue of environmentalism and the LDS Gospel in a full essay. For now, let it suffice to say that LDS doctrine tells us that we don’t truly own anything, but are stewards of our resources and of this earth. We hold them on behalf of the Lord. A good steward does not deplete, pollute, or contaminate that with which they were entrusted. A good steward rather will judiciously and wisely use his stewardship for the benefit of all, including future generations—even if the Lord may soon come relieve the steward of his responsibilities (ie, the second coming, the rapture, whatever you want to call it).

  5. Roger The Okcitykid Says:

    I’m an inactive Mormon – I was baptized 20 years ago while in the Navy. The missionarys have found me recently and getting me to come back, but there are some things that really bother me, and that is global warming and church’s silence about it.

    I learned about global warming in middle school while taking environmental I and II they taught us about the green house effect, that was about 1972/1973 – We knew about this for a long time and so has our government – didn’t the prophet know?

  6. L Says:

    You may want to check out the book “Stewardship and the Creation LDS Perspectives on the Environment” edited by George B. Handley, Terry B. Ball, and Steven L. Peck

  7. Jim Moyer Says:

    Dear Sir, I am sadly adverse to the opinion that you present. I understand that the federal grants are basicly pushing young enthusiastic persons in the education field to become swayed into pushing this apparent political aggenda. Point one: 78% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen leaves only 1% for all other gasses combined in the atmosphere. Now I could get technical and leave everyone out of the conversation. But as a previouse atmosphere control technician and prior regional nuclear program coordinator for the navy I do have some understanding. Only a meager 3-1/2% of 1% of the amosphere is CO2. Point two: Water vapor with a massive presence in the atmosphere has a massive affect on the temperature and CO2 with a miniscule presence has almost no, I will repeat NO affect on the global temperature of the earth. Point in fact check out the temperature during the winter at your house when the sky is cloudy and when it is a clear night. Point three: There is massive intelligent opposition to this theory. This is the first time that the scientific process has been stymied and any intelligent discussion has been dismissed with statement of “it’s settled” or “only intelligent opinions need be presented”. I am sorry but this world is being herded by political agenda into a government control system, one which your religion would normally oppose. How is it that Al Gore has financial interest in this non-existant carbon credit economy? Are you aware that there is a chemical (monoethanolamine) that absorbs CO2 when cold and gives it off when warm. This offers the ability for man to develope systems to harvest and sequester CO2 without any other problems experienced. I dread the direction this country is headed (so fast) with very little debate, always told there’s no time to discuss this. 90% of the stimulus held in accounts to influence the future election, and we know this, they admit it. Cap and Trade, huge detriment to the American economy with no science applied in its application. The Government taking over sectors of the economy with little opposition. What are we thinking? Respectfully Jim – Marine Engineer

  8. abdur-rahman rastall Says:

    Great post. Interesting read. I read something similar yesterday but for the life of me I can’t remember what the site was though. It’ll come to me – it must be old age 🙂

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