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On Climate Change, Obama Lays Down a Scientific Gauntlet for Trump Administration


On Climate Change, Obama Lays Down a Scientific Gauntlet for Trump Administration

John H. Cushman

As if parading its best evidence against an expected onslaught of climate denial, the Obama Administration released on Thursday an updated compendium of the accepted science about global warming.

The science review is intended to guide the preparation of the government's next National Climate Assessment, a periodic comprehensive report scheduled to be released in in 2018. The last assessment was published in 2014.


Obama thought balloon: "Oh, jeez, Trump got elected - that means Democrats can't blackmail progressives by doing nothing because 'You know what will happen if the right gets in.' They got in! Nothing to lose - might as well do some decent, piddling thing before I'm out the door..."


"Humanity is conducting an unprecedented experiment with the Earth's climate system," it declares. "There is a significant potential for our planetary experiment to result in unanticipated surprises, and a broad consensus that the further and the faster the Earth's climate system is pushed towards warming, the greater the risk of such surprises."
- from the link at the bottom of the article

These "unanticipated surprises" can be thought of as Nassim Taleb's "black swans".

For me - as I try and understand the situation - it is the rate of injection of CO2 into the atmosphere that is of most concern - thought by several top flight scientists, such as Lee Kump and Richard Alley, to be perhaps an order of magnitude (x 10) greater than anything seen in several hundred million years - perhaps even greater than one order of magnitude.

Risk management is something a decent mountaineer breathes like air - and believe me, the alarm bells are all ringing off the hook - or, to put it another way, all lights are red.

I cannot conceive of a situation where these risks, which we are undoubtedly incurring as we speak, are in any possible way acceptable - zero -zilch :


Bifurcation - mathematics - tipping points - point of no return - death to uncounted millions, perhaps billions - what is it going to take to wake people all over the world up - WHAT !


Yes, I am finally motivated to become a gun owner, but not for defense.


I don't think it is a question of people waking up. Just about every country in the world signed on to the Paris climate agreement. It is more about overcoming obstacles to action, and there are many obstacles. The most difficult obstacles to overcome are political. In the US we have the Republican Party which for the most part denies there is a problem. Lack of money is a major obstacle in developing countries. Lack of technology is an obstacle, particularly when it comes to aviation and shipping. Also, battery technology should be better. A major obstacle is what it takes to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency on a large scale. The list goes on.


Too Little, Too Late. Desperately trying to salvage his useless reputation.

Never mind that this fraud Obama, built more coal plants in the third world with US aid than anyone in history. Yeah, he kinda forgot to mention that little fact. Musta slipped his mind.


Well - I think there is a vast difference between people and their governments.

True - people have always needed and followed leaders, and I do not realistically expect even a majority of the world's population to suddenly become world class scientists - or their moral equivalents.

But Abe was largely correct I think - 'with people - nothing can fail - without - nothing can succeed'.

Somehow - probably natural disasters - war - the four horsemen type thing - people will come to realize, each in their own way - that survival depends on massive change.

It looks like a bloodbath to me - rather than a soft landing.

I just get so frustrated - it would be so simple - every sizable city buys a prototype direct air capture machine - I don't give a damn if the thing even works - and turns their engineers loose - to make it work.

A gesture - a symbol - that all is not well - that's all it would take.

People may not all be rocket scientists - but they are all mortal, and love their children.


Every time i read comments like yours, I just shake my head. Do you think that presidents are dictators who can just bark-out decrees? In the face of a hostile congress that made any new legislation about impossible as impossible can get. Obama bent the authority of existing laws, or political relations with congress and industry to the breaking point to finally classify CO2 as a CAA pollutant, allowing greatly toughened CAFE standards, CO2 and other pollutant emissions requirements for power plants that were closing coal power plants everywhere. The Clean Power Plan would have imposed tough requirements on the states to meet the Paris Agreement commitments.

But what about "stopping all fracking and pipelines"? With just a few exceptions, there is no legal authority to do that - and I don't think you would like result such as $10 per gallon gasoline and rationing. CO2 emissions are produced by the consumer and have to cut by the consumer, not the supplier.

Absent a coup d'etat, dissolution of Congress and installation of the president as an absolute dictator, Obama did pretty much all he could politically do.


But in the USA most of the people are strongly against any action on climate - so how are these "people" going to lead us anywhere except in the opposite direction? Now it is true that a minority with morally compelling message has managed to effort change in the past - but unlike, say civil rights, making a moral cause of global warming is not going to work when a majority don't even think it s a problem, or a very minor one compared to the affordability of gasoline in our absurd private-car-dependent labor economy. (I assume you live out in the Canadian Rockies and use a big 4-wheel drive car a lot yourself).

Obama pretty much sacrificed his relationship with great swaths of the US populace in doing what he did. You wouldn't believe the screaming about "Obama's War On Coal" down here.


"Americans are taking global warming more seriously than at any time in the past eight years, according to several measures in Gallup's annual environment poll." --March 2016


Hello there Yunzer !

Actually, we haven't had a car in some ten years now - public transit in the city (Calgary, Alberta , pop ~ 1 million), and ride sharing to get to the mountains.

When I climbed full time, between 1997 and 2004, I owned a Ford half-ton which I had rigged to sleep in the extra space behind the bench front seat - I got a 4 inch medium density foam made to measure for the folding back bench seat, installed a simple box sleeping bag and pillow - on my many trips to your American southwest I would just pull over, maybe at a big rig truck stop - hop over the backrest - lights, music, heat - good times !

Then I sold my condo to continue climbing - eventually I sold the truck - you guessed it - to keep climbing - finally I was down to a six cylinder Camry, which I drove all the way to southern Mexico to climb down there (high altitude).

Then I met Underacanoe (wife), also a climber - we married - Cloudrunner (son) is now twelve and a bit. The Camry was stolen around 2006 - it was falling apart by then - we used the insurance money to rent a car and go visit the southwest with our one and a half year old - visit friends (retired master-sergeant, United States Marines) - I had met near J-Tree and 29 Palms on my first trip down that way - great trip !

Soon we may be riding horses ! (just kidding - no hitching rails in Calgary).

Life as a precariat is interesting - it reminds me of the many hobos I have encountered on the road - some were as intelligent and thoughtful, and human - as any people I've ever met.

Just now I'm at a coffee shop - home soon to Turkey !!

And I'm reading the April 2016 publication:

"Trillion Dollar Trainwreck: Out of control U.S. nuclear weapons programs accelerate spending, proliferation, health and safety risks." (A Report from the Weapons Communities of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability).

They're talking about your institution, the Department of Energy - a lot !

Interesting reading - I know a lot about nuclear - too much really - it's depressing - whether its exploration, expoitation, commercial power, or thermo-nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.

Good thing that electricity is 'too cheap to meter', cause there are quite few expenses associated with minor problems like waste disposal, Fukushima core meltdowns, recalcitrant older problems like Chernobl and the like - some 440 nuclear reactors on Earth we will probably never be able to 'safe'. Too bad France went whole hog on breeders - they will go the way of the Dodo bird because of them if Marine Le Pen doesn't do them in first.

I don't expect "the people" to lead us anywhere - it's not human nature.

But "the people" will eventually come to see that they have no future - none at all - unless we change course.

That's what I'm waiting for - but I'm not holding my breath or anything like that - just trying to do a bit, here and there, to expedite things I suppose.


Say Yunzer - it's me again - and it's Christmas Eve.

So much down talk - so much !

How if I try and convey to you (perhaps others), what climbing can be all about.

Here, from in my opinion the finest all-round climber of the twentieth century - Reinhold Messner - a true artist - "by fair means":

This is who we are:


Thank-you for the reply and I apologize (is it "apologise" in Canada?) for my "accusation" I would not have guessed you were a city dweller as I was until my job forced me to the suburbs - but I use an electric motor scooter for commuting and errands except in winter weather.

At least Canadian cities have better public transit.

I fully understand the life in a pickup. Back in the days when me and my wife lived to go hang gliding, we had a Toyota pickup with a topper - a foam bed and camping gear in the back and gliders on top.

Being as I am an engineer involved in occupational safety and health and live in the Appalachians and and see the sheer destructiveness and human cost of coal mining, I am going to have to disagree with you about nuclear power.


Interesting you and your wife hang-gliders !

As for nuclear - no worries. James Hansen & George Monbiot and I think even James Lovelock are all for nuclear, so you have lots of company on that score. I am sure the intentions are good for yourself and those mentioned.


Republicans are not in denial. They're bloody, effing liars who are deliberately manipulating the gullible for profit at the expense of ALL LIFE ON EARTH. They're effing insane. I really don't know what hole they crawled out of...but we've got to find it and see that every last one of them crawls back in and then seal it off for all eternity. Doctors, slap a diagnosis on these crazies so the rest of the human race can clean up the mess and get on with LIFE!