Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


June 15, 2015: The President Has Already Decided on Global Warming for Us

By Rob Tenery, MD on June 15, 2015

The debate over global warming rages on. The questions raised are two: Is global warming really happening? If the answer to this first question is yes, then are the variances related to normal cyclical climatic changes, as seen down through the ages, or are they anthropogenic (manmade)?

There seems to be a consensus against pollution. But when the subject is linked to global climate changes, arguments heat up on both sides. The controversy seems to center on the ‘greenhouse effect’, where warming occurs when heat from the earth is trapped in the atmosphere by the greenhouse gases--- water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.  When their levels increase, the ocean temperatures rise, leading to a cascade of erratic weather patterns.

Chinese scientists warn that their country’s air pollution resembles a ‘nuclear winter’ by slowing plant photosynthesis that can severely damage their country’s food supply, as well as raising respiratory health concerns. The Chinese air pollution has already created problems in their economy by, at times, grounding flights, closing highways and discouraging tourism.

Historically, India is an agricultural nation that has created major water pollution issues. Discharge of untreated sewage is the single most important cause for pollution of surface and ground water in India. Additionally, their air pollution is worse than China’s.

The oppressive smog in Mexico City, due to its high population density and unique geographic boundaries is legendary. Although not as severe as in many other countries, examples abound here in the United States. The pollution of heavy algae growth of the Great Lakes, caused by chemical runoff into surface water by commercial farming in the Midwestern and Northeastern states around the lakes, is still an ongoing problem.

“The entire climate change situation has become politicized. Those on the right, and those on the left, hanging out in “echo chambers”, listening to those with similar world views refusing to believe anything else could be true.The debate involves the anthropogenic impact.

Many professional meteorologists feel like we are fighting a losing battle when it comes to national media and social media hype and disinformation. They will be sure to let you know that weather events they are reporting on are ‘unprecedented’, there are ‘millions and millions in the path’, it is caused by a ‘monster storm’, and ‘the worst is yet to come’ since these events are becoming more ‘frequent’.

You will never hear about the low tornado count in recent years, the lack of major hurricane landfalls on U.S. coasts over the past 10 years, or the low number of wildfires this year. It doesn’t fit their story. But, never let facts get in the way of a good story…. there will ALWAYS be a heat wave, flood, wildfire, tornado, typhoon, cold wave, and snow storm somewhere.”

James Spann AMS                                    Host of Weather Blog

The supporters of anthropogenic climate changes fall into two categories: local changes only and the cumulative effects worldwide. Those addressing the local or regional effects of pollution should fall under local or state ordinances, but in progressively more situations, the Environmental Protection Agency has taken over. Recently, President Obama issued another Executive Order to create more government control on properties that are covered by water.

As his tenure in the White House draws to a close, President Obama has moved this subject to his top priority, claiming that enforcing climate change regulations will indeed be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership--- the Obamatrade pact that he is currently negotiating with Malaysia and 10 other countries.  He is quoted as saying, “If we want to solve something like climate change, then I’ve got to be able to get into places like Malaysia, and say to them, this is in your best interest. What leverage do I have to get them to stop deforestation? Well part of the leverage is if I’m in a trade relationship with them that allows me to raise standards.”

The President is also framing the challenges of climate change as a matter of national security that threatens to aggravate poverty and political instability around the globe, and jeopardizes the readiness of U.S. forces. In an address to the U.S. Coastguard graduates, he tells them, "Make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. So we need to act and we need to act now... Climate change is not just a problem for countries on the coast or for certain regions of the world. Climate change impacts every country on the planet."

According to Howard Richman of the American Thinker, the daily online magazine that deals with American politics, President Obama would not need to get Congress to approve the unfair climate change treaty terms that he negotiates.  Instead, he could get the Commission set up by the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to add those terms to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In December, Obama will negotiate a multi-country climate agreement in Paris that will commit the United States to a huge reduction in carbon emissions of 26%-28% from 2005 levels, but he will let China, already a much larger carbon emitter, continue to expand its carbon emissions until 2030.

As the world’s population density grows, bringing with it more commercial transportation, industrialization and large-scale agriculture, pollution becomes an increasing threat to the environment. The scientific community is still in heated debate over whether this growth affects only the local environment or cumulative changes to our planet.

It seems President Obama, single-handedly, has already made up our minds for us!





Leave a Comment

"I agree with the quote from James Spann, as far as it goes. But I respectfully disagree with the way you’ve framed the issue, in a subtle but I think critical way. (1) As a scientist I’ve seen enough data and even basic arguments that make it clear: Putting more CO2 (and methane) in the air as we’ve all done for a century or more and as we continue to do worldwide, will cause the Earth to trap more heat and get “warmer". You don’t have to believe the models are that precise or accurate to know that’s a scientific certainty. (2) WHERE that heat will go, models are currently imperfect at predicting. But even if more goes into the deep ocean rather than the air, that’s still a human “push” to the ocean ecosystems (and ocean circulation currents, like those that keep Europe warmer than Labrador) that we understand imperfectly at best, and we may not like the result. And, we don’t know if that partition of where the heat goes will persist—or change. Yes, climate does and will change on its own. BUT this is a pretty substantial “shove” and it will IF NOT ADDRESSED cause disruptions in human (and other) life. How far down the road is still a bit of a guess, but probably not as far as we’d like for our grandkids or great grandkids. (3) Therefore, we SHOULD take it seriously. But the question and challenge should be how, and with what balance between ‘prevention’ (greenhouse gas emission reduction) and mitigation (for example, policies that help populations adapt to changing growing seasons or sea level rise.) This is where I would challenge thinking and have the debate…not on ‘whether’ man is affecting the climate. (4) Unfortunately the media often takes too literal a turn on trying to tie every unusual weather event to climate change…only in a few rare cases are most climate scientists willing to cautiously suggest possible causality. A scientist saying “models suggest climate change may make it more likely for (insert your favorite weather story here…CA drought, TX floods, etc.)" is just that, a bombastic assessment from models that may not quite have it right. While I’m not an expert in the field, I don’t think it’s clear that we can yet trust the models to predict detailed outcomes at the decade-by-decade level or by region….yet. (5) So critique Obama for picking “how and when” we’d address climate change. And I don’t know to what extent it WILL be addressed in any final TPP agreement (I think most of that talk is still speculation). But not for whether we should, somehow. Spann is right…that debate’s gotten too politicized on both sides. We’re having the wrong conversation, and missing the right one. Also, I think you’ve fallen a bit into the left-and right-wing trap on TPP and Trade Promotion Authority (fast track). TPA only gives a President the authority to negotiate a deal….NOT to have it ratified, which still sits with Congress. It makes it an up or down vote, not a sure thing. Without TPA, there is no way a President can negotiate any trade deal since any negotiating partner knows they re not negotiating with the US, but with the “Cloud” of Congress. In a Parliamentary system where the government forms from the majority of Parliament, that’s usually less of an issue, but the US system isn’t built that way. Give Obama TPA. Then decide when he brings the deal back whether on not to approve it. No deal will be perfect. But pursuit of perfection by allowing Congress to amend indefinitely after multi-party negotiation will result in nothing…a vacuum of US influence others will continue to happily fill. 'Anonymous scientist'" - Rob Tenery


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