In Sunday’s New York Times, the paper’s departing prophet of environmental doom, er– reporter, Justin Gillis answered 17 questions under the heading “Your Questions About Climate Change, Answered.” Here’s a slice of Gillis’s confidently alarmist Q&A with himself that took up a full page of the paper, with leading questions answered with unjustified certitude — just like in his previous “climate change” articles.
Gillis answered “Climate change? Global warming? What do we call it?” with a predictable dig at President Trump.
….You can think of global warming as one type of climate change. The broader term covers changes beyond warmer temperatures, such as shifting rainfall patterns. President Trump has claimed that scientists stopped referring to global warming and started calling it climate change because ‘the weather has been so cold’ in winter. But the claim is false. Scientists have used both terms for decades.
Perhaps most scientists have been consistent in their terminology, but anecdotal evidence suggests that as temperatures stubbornly refused to warm for years, “global warming” transformed into the more generic “climate change,” which in the press came to mean any weather event.
Answering the hypothetical, “How much is the Earth heating up?” Gillis went further than virtually anyone else in his apocalyptic prophesizing:
Two degrees is more significant than it sounds. As of early 2017, the Earth had warmed by roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (more than 1 degree Celsius) since 1880, when records began at a global scale. The number may sound low, but as an average over the surface of an entire planet, it is actually high, which explains why much of the world’s land ice is starting to melt and the oceans are rising at an accelerating pace. If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, scientists say, the global warming could ultimately exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would undermine the planet’s capacity to support a large human population.
“Could natural factors be the cause of the warming?” Gillis asked himself. His blunt response:
Nope. In theory, they could be. If the sun were to start putting out more radiation, for instance, that would definitely warm the Earth. But scientists have looked carefully at the natural factors known to influence planetary temperature and found that they are not changing nearly enough. The warming is extremely rapid on the geologic time scale, and no other factor can explain it as well as human emissions of greenhouse gases.
He got smug over conservative deniers when he asked himself “Why do people deny the science of climate change?” He responded:
Mostly because of ideology. Instead of negotiating over climate change policies and trying to make them more market-oriented, some political conservatives have taken the approach of blocking them by trying to undermine the science….The climate denialists’ arguments have become so strained that even oil and coal companies have distanced themselves publicly, though some still help to finance the campaigns of politicians who espouse such views.
Gillis posed the loaded question “How much trouble are we in?” His loaded answer:
Big trouble. Over the coming 25 or 30 years, scientists say, the climate is likely to gradually warm, with more extreme weather. Coral reefs and other sensitive habitats are already starting to die. Longer term, if emissions rise unchecked, scientists fear climate effects so severe that they might destabilize governments, produce waves of refugees, precipitate the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in the Earth’s history, and melt the polar ice caps, causing the seas to rise high enough to flood most of the world’s coastal cities. The emissions that create those risks are happening now, raising deep moral questions for our generation.
He answered “Are there any realistic solutions to the problem?” with “Yes, but change is happening too slowly. Society has put off action for so long that the risks are now severe, scientists say….”
He evaded giving a straight answer to “Does clean energy help or hurt the economy?” In his response:
Job growth in renewable energy is strong. The energy sources with the lowest emissions include wind turbines, solar panels, hydroelectric dams and nuclear power stations….The transition to cleaner energy certainly produces losers, like coal companies, but it also creates jobs. The solar industry in the United States now employs more than twice as many people as coal mining.
Responding to “Climate change seems so overwhelming. What can I personally do about it?” Gillis made a call to arms (and page clicks):
Start by sharing this with 50 of your friends. Experts say the problem can only be solved by large-scale, collective action. Entire states and nations have to decide to clean up their energy systems, using every tool available and moving as quickly as they can. So the most important thing you can do is to exercise your rights as a citizen, speaking up and demanding change. You can also take direct personal action to reduce your carbon footprint in simple ways that will save you money. You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off unused lights, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food, and eat less meat. Taking one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined….
After that cri de coeur, I’m sure the Hollywood environmentalists will be downsizing their mansions, cease their wasteful international jet-setting, and stop making movies any day now.
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