My tour along the coasts of Oregon and Washington was an unqualified success, and I was able to interact directly with several hundred people. Thanks to the eclectic combination of generous people who provided local transportation, housing, food, venues, interviews, and fiat currency for air fare, and especially to Holly for organizing the trip on my behalf.
I delivered a presentation at Traditions Cafe in Olympia, Washington on Friday, 28 February 2014. Video is embedded below.
From the ether comes a series of messages. I’ve summarized them into this single, short essay. My responses to the questions are shown in italics.
I’ve shared your presentations/material with a few people and it did not get through to them. This is what they told me:
1. He mentions studies but does not explain the studies or how they were conducted. How do we know the studies he quotes are more legitimate than other studies that show climate change is far in the future?
Please read my essay, “Picking cherries.” It’s here.
2. He mentions 3.5 C by the 2030’s means extinction but does not explain very well why or by what manner. People want to know exactly (and specifically) what events will cause extinction, not just that humans have not been around at those temperatures in the past. That is not sufficient explanation. They feel we’re more advanced so we could develop technologies to survive higher temperatures than our ancestors.
It’s about habitat for humans, not about temperature per se. As I’ve explained frequently, we need food. Our food comes from two sources: oceans and land. We’ve lost half the phytoplankton in the ocean at 0.85 C above baseline. At 3.5 C above baseline, we’ll lose all or nearly all the phytoplankton, the base of the marine food web. Also at 3.5 C, we’ll lose habitat for all or nearly all land plants because of temperature fluctuations and denaturing of proteins.
3. To most people 3.5 C (or even 6 C) does not sound like a big deal. They may live in the mountains or a place where average temperatures are 50 to 60 F. Something that could raise their temperatures to 70 or 80 F should be no big deal. They feel it could make it easier to grow food, not harder. I’ve heard people say Canada will thrive with climate change and become a wine growing region. You should adequately explain why this is not so.
See above, or starters. And then consider the particular combination of soils and climate required to grow food. When temperatures increase in non-linear fashion in Canada, there’ll be no opportunity for plants to migrate. And the soils that dominate Canada do not support growth of food crops for very many humans.
4. People who live on the coasts want to know when they will see significant sea level rise. They hear it could be 50 meters if Greenland goes but there has been major melting already and everyone on the coast is more or less fine. If the arctic and glaciers have melted so much why have no coastal cities been lost under the sea? On the 2030’s timeline you mention, when would major coastal cities need to be evacuated (not due to storms) but to actual overall sea level rise? Could it happen fast and if so, how fast?
I doubt sea-level rise will kill many people. Unless Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Shelf collapse very quickly, we’ll run out of habitat for humans long before seas rise sufficiently to remove habitat. A few exceptions are already evident, particularly in small island nations and the coastal Arctic.
5. They were not convinced because they wanted the dots to be connected in a linear fashion. They wanted to know what the temperatures were before this started, what they are now, where they are going and why (and how fast). They want to know why it does not feel warmer and why just 1 C could set all this in motion. They want to know more about how the ocean is absorbing the heat because they’ve read that there has been no warming for the last 12-15 years.
Your acquaintances should get in touch with an internet search engine. Global-average temperature before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was slightly greater than 14 C. We’re at about 15 C now, a rise in temperature that has triggered (1) methane release from the Arctic and permafrost, (2) rapid decomposition of peat, (3) death and decomposition of woody plants (i.e., trees and shrubs), and (4) numerous other self-reinforcing feedback loops about which I speak and write.
Contrary to the contrarian myth, which matches what people actually want to hear, warming has not paused. It’s paused on land, but the heat is still ratcheting up. Again, visit my oft-updated essay for details and links.
6. On a personal level, they want to know more about what the “powers that be” know. You mentioned all politicians know that extinction is near but that was hard for them to believe. They were dubious that a large group of people could keep a secret of that magnitude. You mentioned a rich and famous individual. If it’s true that billionaires are buying land in South America they want to know more about it so they could possibly make the move themselves if it buys another decade of life for their children.
I mention many politicians know, not all of them. Surely the Obama administration knows what I know. Ditto for the many people in the world who make a lot of money because they have access to information, and profit from that information. Please check out the following article: “According to Daniel Ellsburg, ‘Secrets … Can Be Kept Reliably … For Decades … Even Though They Are Known to THOUSANDS of Insiders.'”
I’m mentioned in this essay at Huffington Post.