Are We Toast?

Or, Do We Have The Time And Wisdom To Protect Our Planet's Climate?

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20 Years

Twenty years ago, June 23, 1988,  the Director of a relatively obscure U.S. government research institute (the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA) James E. Hansen appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to testify about Global Climate Change. He testified that Global Climate Change was: real; a threat; human caused; and, that it was already underway. Today Dr. Hansen, now widely recognized as a leading climate change researcher, will testify before a House Committee that mankind has only a short time to reverse the "Global Warming Time Bomb". It is expected that he will call for a rapid shift from fossil fuels and carbon emissions, and the development of alternate energy sources and distribution systems.

In the 20 years since Dr. Hansen's initial appearance, the U.S. Congress has not passed a single piece of legislation regulating the emission of greenhouse gases, or otherwise reduce Climate Change, or to  address the consequences of Climate Change on upon the US. economy, agriculture, nor the health and safety of it's citizenry.  Also during the past 20 years the U.S. emissions of CO2 have increased 18%, 21 new coal-fired power plants are in operation and 151 are in various stages of development, the EPA reports that U.S. auto mileage has actually decreased 5%, and the US energy consuming population has increased by 23%.

During the past 20 years a global scientific program of unprecedented scope and scale has been undertaken by the world scientists.  Under the auspices of the United Nations the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has produced a massive body of scientific reports on Global Climate Change.  The work of the IPCC has been truly remarkable for the the degree of agreement on the magnitude,  causes, and consequences of Climate Change. 

In the United States, on May 29, 2008 acting under Court order, the Office of the President released the oft-delayed report:  U.S. Climate Change Science Program Scientific Assessment of the Effects of Global Change on the United States.  The report was prepared by the little-known US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) which was established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990.  The USGCRP  includes scientists from 13 U.S. Government agencies and from Universities and the private sector.  The USGCRP has produced a massive body of scientific information and has issued over 21 reports which provide comprehensive overview of the impacts of Global Climate Change on the North American continent. 

The findings and reports of the USGCRP are in complete accord with those of the IPCC.  And significantly, the findings of the US Global Climate Change Program are also in accord with 1988 testimony of Dr. Hansen - Global Climate Change is real, it is (very like due to) human caused, it is getting worse, and it is a direct threat to the American economy, agriculture, safety, health and well-being of the citizenry. 

Will the Congress of the United States listen to the 2008 testimony of Dr. Hansen, heed the past two decades of international and national science, and finally initiate action to address Climate Change?  If not, we are indeed Toast!

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