Saturday, December 16, 2017

Are the climate scientists finally "getting it" about conferences


There are many reasons why a lot people (not all of them drooling morons) believe that climate science is a hoax. But at the head of any list of reasons is the perfect example�the vast majority of climate scientists live their own lives as if there isn't really a problem so why should anyone heed their warnings. The following is the tale of one climate scientist who decided he wasn't going to, by his actions, continue to discredit his scientific conclusions. Of course, the blindingly obvious didn't occur to him until he had flown 50,000 MILES (80,000 km) in ONE year.

To suggest that I don't understand why people fly long distances to conferences in order to present papers that could EASILY be posted and discussed online, is to belabor the obvious. I understand that these get-togethers have something to do with personal professional marketing but like door-knocking in politics, I am not sure what. And since only insiders can possibly understand the significance of the typical CV entry of those presenting papers, I would suggest that the climate change community start out by highlighting more relevant qualifications. And they could start by insisting that the minimum qualification to be taken seriously by anyone, especially outside of the clique of paper and speechmaking climate change experts, is that their CVs BEGIN by listing the efforts they have made to make their own homes and offices Net-Zero when it comes to carbon emissions.

And yes, I AM quite serious about this. I remember my reaction to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. The first half of the movie was a splendid presentation of the current facts of how the climate was changing and then Al, looking as serious as a heart attack, starts suggesting ways we can all help avoid the catastrophe. The suggestions were so lame I personally felt embarrassed for him. I wanted to yell, "Al baby, didn't you even watch your own movie?" Suggesting that we should all hang our clothes out to dry was just so meaningless after watching the evidence that the polar ice caps are melting. Of course, it was soon discovered that Gore had recently built a McMansion that used energy at approximately 10x the rate of a standard family dwelling, that he was now carrying his message around on a Gulfstream, and that his most "serious" proposal was for Wall Street to sell more carbon offsets. If Al Gore's new house had been a demonstration of the incredible possibilities of Net-Zero constructions practices, it is unlikely he would have become a lightening rod for critics of climate science and scientists.

Anyway, my dream CV entry for a climate scientist would include:
  • Before and after pictures of his or her dwelling,
  • A detailed expense accounting for how much their efforts cost,
  • A discussion of the problems of financing,
  • An analysis of what methods were especially effective,
  • A table of what sources of advice actually helped the project,
  • A timeline of how long this took,
  • And maybe some additional relevant details like how many times some family member sobbed about how unhappy living in a construction zone had made them.
And why would this be helpful / important? My guess is that if 25,000 scientists had actually gone to the trouble of reducing part of their carbon footprint to zero, there would a greater awareness about how something symbolic (and mostly useless) "actions" such as like passing a resolution at a climate conference really is. After all climate change will only be meaningfully addressed when people make significant changes in their lifestyles. If arguably the best-informed people on the subject cannot at least give up their goofy carbon disaster conferences, what is the prospect of cooperation when others are asked to make changes.

Just a thought.

Why did climate scientists emit 30,000 tonnes of C02 this weekend?

Peter Kalmus, 11 December 2017

Around 25,000 of my colleagues flew to a conference, leaving a colossal carbon footprint in their wake. This makes our warnings less credible to the public

�Most scientists burn more than the average American, simply because they fly more.�

This weekend, 25,000 Earth, Sun, and planetary scientists from across the US and abroad flew to New Orleans for the annual American Geophysical Union�s Fall Meeting. These scientists study the impact global warming is having on Earth. Unfortunately, their air travel to and from the meeting will contribute to that warming by emitting around 30,000 tonnes of CO2.

As an Earth scientist and AGU member myself, I know the importance of their work. Still, there�s something wrong with this picture. As scientists, our work informs us � with dreadful clarity and urgency � that burning fossil fuel is destroying the life support systems on our planet. There�s already more than enough science to know we need to stop. Yet most scientists burn more than the average American, simply because they fly more.

I haven�t flown since 2012, nor have I wanted to

Few people know how harmful it is to fly in planes, including scientists. In 2010, I sat down and estimated my climate emissions. It turns out that, hour for hour, there�s no better way to warm the planet than to fly. I�d flown 50,000 miles during the year, mostly to scientific meetings. Those flights accounted for 3/4 of my annual emissions. Over the next two years, I gradually decreased my flying.

Eventually, there came a day when I was on the runway about to take off and felt an overwhelming desire not to be on the plane. I saw too clearly the harm it was doing to the world�s children, to all the beings on our planet. I haven�t flown since 2012, nor have I wanted to.

Climate activists tend to fly a lot. This sends its own contradictory message

Today, while I know that my career could progress slightly faster if I flew, I find it hard to imagine a scenario that would make flying seem worthwhile to me. (If I really want to attend a conference in person, I take the train.) And I�ve realized that the main impact of reducing our emissions isn�t the emissions reduction itself: by modeling change, we tell a new story of what�s possible, shifting the culture and opening space for large-scale change.

In becoming scientists, we didn�t sign up to burn less fossil fuel or to be activists. But in the case of Earth science, we have front row seats to an unfolding catastrophe. Because of this, the public takes our temperature: if the experts don�t seem worried, how bad can it be?

When we make a conscious effort to contribute less to global warming, we can better communicate the urgency of the Earth system changes we�re seeing. As a citizen and a father, I know I feel a responsibility to sound the alarm. Not to do so, for me, would be a kind of denial.

I�m not alone. Over 400 academics have signed a petition at flyingless.org, and a few Earth scientists have joined me in telling their stories at noflyclimatesci.org. Together, we�re pushing for increased use of web-based and regional meetings, more remote support from the AGU, and more support from our academic institutions, which ostensibly exist to make the world a better place.

Like academics, climate activists also tend to fly a lot. This sends its own contradictory message: if the people urging us to burn less can�t even do it, then it must be impossible. But in reality, many of us could cut our emissions in half with little effort.

People who�ve gone even further than this report that their lives become more abundant and satisfying as a result, not less.

I�d love to see what would happen if prominent climate activists and outspoken celebrities would consciously, publicly, and radically reduce their own fossil fuel use. They could begin by flying less.

Burning fossil fuel causes real harm, and will become socially unacceptable sooner or later. Those of us who know the seriousness of global warming must do everything we can to stop it, and like it or not, AGU scientists play a key role. Once this shift gains momentum, policy and systems-level change will follow more quickly than we can imagine.

Peter Kalmus is an atmospheric scientist at Nasa�s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but is writing in a personal capacity. He is the author of
Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution

more

No comments:

Post a Comment

Climate Grief

Below is a pretty good description of what the author calls "climate grief"�the crushing realization that everything at all lovely...