Climate of Global Warming
The United States is overwhelmingly
responsible for global warming, and the Republican Party is
overwhelmingly responsible for preventing the US from reducing its
carbon emissions. Future generations will refer to the climatic chaos
of a globally-warmed world as the " Republican Climate."
The facts of global warming have been very well established. In a
few cases, extremists present it as something so bad that it will make
us all fall over dead. Of course, global warming will not happen this
way. But it doesn’t have to. Because our entire world civilization is
tied closely to the stability of the climate, even just a few degrees
of global warming will cause social and economic collapse. Global
warming won’t make us fall over dead, but it might cause civilization
to enter a period of chaos and start wars.
And the Republican Party has been the major force in the entire world
for suppressing the science of global warming and even the smallest
steps toward doing something to prevent it.
Here follows a very brief overview of the problem. Do not expect this
web page to answer all of your questions. The purpose of this web page
is to show how the Republican leadership is principally to blame for
it. More information can be obtained at some of these links. I have
chosen links from respected scientific organizations:
The International Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations (IPCC)
represents the best international scientific and governmental consensus
understanding of the problem. The Fourth Assessment Report (in four
parts) is available for free download at their site, plus information
about their upcoming Fifth Assessment Report. It is a conservative
document, representing a consensus rather than any one person’s
possibly biased views. If anything, the IPCC has underestimated the
problem; a paper published by the American Association for the
Advancement of Science showed that the actual changes now occurring in,
for example, sea level rise are right at the top of the range that IPCC
Causes of global warming
The principal cause of global warming is the accumulation of carbon
dioxide gas in the atmosphere. All organisms produce carbon dioxide
naturally. Many release it into the air. Plants remove carbon dioxide
from the air in the process of making food from sunlight. But the main
reason that carbon dioxide levels are increasing in the atmosphere is
the burning of fossil fuels by humans, for the production of energy
(e.g., power plants), transportation (e.g., cars) and industry. Carbon
dioxide prevents heat from being radiated from the Earth into outer
space; it acts somewhat like a sweater or a greenhouse roof in this
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels
in the atmosphere have increased from 280 to 380 parts per million,
which is about one-third. During that time, global temperatures have
increased by about a degree C (over a degree F). A 100-ppm increase in
carbon dioxide is enough to cause more than a one-degree increase in
temperature, however. This means that the amount of carbon dioxide that
has already accumulated has only now begun to cause global warming. A
lot more global warming awaits us, as the Earth holds in more and more
heat—even if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide right now, which is not
Direct measurements of global temperature have been possible only since
about 1850, when there were weather stations all around the world.
About a thousand stations have been recording temperatures since the
late nineteenth century. During that time, both global temperature and
atmospheric carbon dioxide have been increasing:
Global warming has occurred during the last century and a half. More
information can be found here.
Climatologists can estimate global temperatures prior to 1850 by
studying tree rings, sediments, etc. Numerous independent
reconstructions of global temperatures show that global temperatures
and atmospheric carbon dioxide are as high as or higher than at any
time in the past millennium:
More information can be found here.
Climatologists can study ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica, which
allows them to estimate global temperatures, and to directly measure
atmospheric carbon dioxide, for the last half million years. These
measurements clearly show that the Earth is hotter whenever atmospheric
carbon dioxide is high. They also show that, for the last half million
years, global carbon dioxide levels have never exceeded 300 parts per
This information comes from the Pew
Global temperatures are now as high as they have been at any time
during the last half million years, but carbon dioxide levels are MUCH
higher now than any time during the last half million years.
Consequences of global
Global warming has occurred in prehistoric times to an even greater
extent than it is happening today. But that doesn’t matter. The end of
the last Ice Age was a period of intense global warming. Plants,
animals, and people could just migrate away from where it was too hot
to new locations where the temperature was better suited to them. This
option is not open to us today. Animals cannot simply migrate to new
habitats with suitable temperature, because most of their habitats have
been transformed into cities, farms, and roads. Ten thousand years ago,
they just moved; today they are trapped. And so are humans.
Global warming is already causing sea levels to rise, causing stronger
storms, and causing changes in the climate of major agricultural areas.
The people whose homes are buried by the sea or destroyed by storms, or
who are hungry because their farmlands have experienced drought, cannot
just move to new places, because there are already people living in
those places, which are frequently on the other side of an
international border. What are millions of environmental refugees from
Bangladesh supposed to do—go to India? India doesn’t think so. For
reasons such as this, United States intelligence agencies have
identified global warming as a threat to global military security
Also, who is going to pay for the damage? Insurance companies, and the
re-insurers who insure them. The largest insurance corporations suspect
that they will not have enough money to pay for all the damage that
global warming will cause. And all of this, without global warming
actually killing anybody directly.
It gets worse. Global warming feeds on itself. As global temperatures
increase, soils and bogs get warmer, and their rate of decomposition
increases. Soils and bogs then release carbon dioxide and methane into
the atmosphere—methane is bubbling up from Siberian lakes right now.
Therefore, people burning fossil fuels makes global warming worse, but
global warming itself makes global warming worse—a cycle that feeds on
Global warming is caused principally by the overuse of fossil fuels. In
response, many people have decided to cut back on the use of fossil
fuels—by driving smaller cars, driving less, buying less, using their
air conditioning less, etc. The biggest and most profitable
corporations in the world are fossil fuel corporations, with Exxon
Mobil leading the pack. They have an obvious interest in getting people
to keep using as much fossil fuel as possible. They have funded
(usually indirectly, through private think tanks) attempts to discredit
the scientific data about global warming. There are extremely few
scientists, and almost no published data, that discredit global warming
science. “Denialism” of global warming is almost entirely the product
of conservative politically-motivated websites. Some
same people who tried to discredit the smoking-cancer link,
while being paid by tobacco companies, are now denying global warming,
while being paid by oil companies.
The financial motivation of the fossil fuel industry is easy to see.
Legal limits to carbon emission would cost them millions in profits.
But global warming scientists and activists have no comparable
financial motivation. I have written one of the books that contains
global warming science, and I can tell you that the total amount of
money I will receive from this book amounts to only a couple of hours’
worth of money taken home by the CEO of Exxon Mobil. I could earn a lot
more money being a spokesperson for the denialists—which, with my
credentials, would help them a lot. Even Al Gore, including his portion
of the Nobel Prize (which he gave away), did not earn as much as a
typical vice president of an oil company, and that was only for a
couple of years (when he released his movie and received his prize).
Fossil fuel companies have a virtual monopoly on their product. In
contrast, alternative sources of energy are numerous and decentralized.
No one can have a monopoly on sunlight or wind. There are indeed
corporations waiting to profit from a decarbonized economy—lots of
them, and none of them even a hundredth the size of Exxon Mobil.
The denialists use reasoning that is obviously incorrect. They say, for
example, that we have nothing to worry about, because plants will
absorb the extra carbon dioxide from the air. Carbon dioxide will just
make the Earth greener, they say. But this is not what is happening.
Global warming (as well as continued human destruction of rainforests
and other natural environments) is causing plants to absorb less, not
more, carbon from the air.
The principal source of power for the denialists, aside from oil
company money, is the Republican Party. Nearly all Republican
congressional representatives totally reject global warming science and
any steps that could be taken to reduce carbon emissions. Such people
as Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe are notorious all around the world for
boastful ignorance about global warming science. It is entirely the
fault of the Republican Party that a national response to the problem
cannot be coordinated. One scientific suggestion has been to establish
a cap and trade system, which would allow private corporations to
figure out ways to reduce carbon emissions, rather than for the
government to tell them how to do so. But the Republican Party has
staunchly insisted that the federal government continue its support
(including tax subsidies) of fossil fuel monopolies, rather than
enabling hundreds of smaller corporations to begin solving the problem.
The Republican Party has also ruined any possibility of international
cooperation to reduce carbon emissions. Under Bush, it was even a joke.
Bush left the 2008 meeting of leading economic powers while saying, “Goodbye
world’s biggest polluter!” Very funny. Today, Senate
Republicans block any possibility of carbon emission limits or
Whoever publicly denies global warming and blocks action to prevent it
is bringing suffering upon generations of the future—even the near
future. The biggest offenders are Republican leaders of government and
business. Their names are a matter of public record. It may be
inevitable that future generations of global warming victims may look
to the descendants of the global warming deniers, many of whom will
have inherited a great amount of fossil fuel wealth, for financial
compensation. The victims of the future may blame, and expect payment
from, the heirs of the people who have caused the problem. Whether this
is just or not, it may be inevitable.
The people of the world will refer to the disastrous and chaotic
temperatures, floods, and droughts that they experience as “The
Republican Climate.” This is the future that the United States, and its
Republican Party, is forcing upon the world.
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