Educating Children about Global Climate Change

A quick assemblage of resources for children and teens

...News about teaching kids about global climate change...

Posting in MotherJones.

...Specific sites and videos for kids .... Build-A-Bear Global warming is real 1/3

2012-03-11_1814.png Build-A-Bear  2 of 3  Build-A-Bear Under North Star 3/ 3   Spongebob Squarepants and global warming   Enthusiastic animation

cartoonAni.png  light fantasy  simple computer voice

....Children's Books....

The Glaciers are Melting

The Magic School Bus And The Climate Challenge  by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

The Polar Bears' Home: A Story About Global Warming (Little Green Books) by Lara Bergen and Vincent Nguyen Gary Braasch and Lynne Cherry

How We Know What We Know about Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming

Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?: The Dangers of Global Warming (Let's-Read-and-Find... Science 2) by Anne Rockwell and Paul Meisel

What are Global Warming and Climate Change?: Answers for Young Readers (Worlds of Wonder)

....Youth and teens....

Climate 101 Bill Nye the Science Guy says it in 4 mins.

NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd in this superb 5 part animated cartoon series

on the atom at the heart of global warming: carbon

...Youth Activism...

Teen ager Alec Loorz,

Youth Activists Unite! Empowering you to lead the Green Revolution

Youth leaders from the movement to stop global warming and to build a more just and sustainable future

Youths involved in global climate change activism & the UNFCCC negotiation process use online media as their key communication and organisation tool.  and

World Kids News December 2010 bulletin:  Climate Change at COP 16 in Mexico

Ben & Jerry's Climate Change College - illustrates the impacts of global warming in the Arctic and encourages young people to enroll in the college.

....Lists of other Resources....  

US Geological Survey - Science for a changing world

USGS Science Resources for Primary Grades (K-6)

USGS Educational Resources for Secondary Grades (7-12)

USGS Science Resources for Undergraduate Education

....Parents and facilitators guides....

How to Teach Your Children About Climate Change -- Without Scaring Them

DVD:  Simon Says "Let's Stop Climate Change!"


Video: Talking to your kids about Climate Change:

1. Be Honest

2. Actions Speak Louder then Words

3.. Don't be Afraid

Kids to Feds: See You In Court

Emergencies and children all purpose site from the Red Cross

....Teachers curricula....

Teachers' Guide to High Quality Educational Materials on Climate Change and Global Warming

Portal Web Site Dedicated to: Global Warming Education

Climate Change Science Education

Science, Solutions

Directory of Vetted Resources & Programs

Red Cross emergency worker training

....Scholarly papers....

Climate of Concern - A Search for Effective Strategies for Teaching Children about Global Warming

Taber & Taylor

This study was also concerned with the 'worry factor' that children identified and it appeared that while more children felt they could have a positive influence over global warming by the conclusion of the study, participants also stated that increased awareness had resulted in increased concern. However, this need not be viewed as a negative. Increased concern, when tempered with good knowledge levels and a belief that change is possible, may lead to high levels of motivation. Jensen and Schnack (1997) argue that even before teaching intervention children may already be worried, so explicit teaching about this issue may actually bring these concerns out into the open where they can be dealt with constructively. Furthermore, teaching environmental education with an action component as recommended by Jensen (2002), can help give students a sense of empowerment and reduce feelings of paralysis, but this often requires a supportive school community, a suitable project and sufficient time for students to see the results of their work.  Similarly, attitude is likely to be highly influenced by factors such as peers, media and family. Any change in attitude or behaviour was self-reported and unsubstantiated and as such, must remain an indication only. However, it can be argued that an increased understanding about the issue of global warming can allow children to make more informed choices, especially within the ever growing field of 'green consumerism'. Even at the age of 11 or 12, children are consumers and as Strong (1998) discovered, they hold considerable influence over what their parents purchase. It is possible that the knowledge gained during this study may allow children to participate constructively in decisions that may affect their families' ecological footprint.

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Sources and resources for investigating climate denialism

The links here can help one better understand climate denialism and science arguments.

Recent postings at the blog of Anarchist6[zero]6 demonstrate a superb understanding of the psychology of climate denialism in Understanding the Mind of the Denialist.   It follows up with The Ratchet Hypothesis.   and supporting articles like the Purpose of Conspiracy Theories.

Greenfyre has perhaps the best discussion and collection of links on the subject  The reasons for using the term “skeptics” to identify those who question climate science and “deniers” for all others are discussed at:

Greenfyre maintains a listing of the more prominent deniers  



The science site of RealClimate hosts a wiki that names the deniers   it Includes links to other debunking sites as well as lists of individual climate deniers     Well reasoned and crafted responses to common contrarian Arguments.

Wikipedia on Climate Change Denial

Denial campaigns have been attributed to individuals or groups that are funded by special interest groups whose financial interests are challenged by efforts to combat climate change, and have in particular been attributed to those associated with the energy lobby.  Journalists and newspaper columnists including George Monbiot and Ellen Goodman, among others, have described climate change denial as a form of denialism.   As a pejorative, other commentators have criticized the term as an attempt to delegitimize skeptical views, and for injecting morality into the discussion about climate change.

Note that there is extensive discussion on this issue.. and a serious investigation should include reviewing the Wikipedia History of the article edits.   No matter what your search, Wikipedia remains an excellent source.  It is now clear that man-made greenhouse gases are causing climate change.   The rate of change began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long-term

England’s Met Office asks: Do climate scientists really agree about climate change?   Yes.  The overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree on the fundamentals of climate change — that climate change is happening and has recently been caused by increased greenhouse gases from human activities.
The core climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was written by 152 scientists from more than 30 countries and reviewed by more than 600 experts.  It concluded that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in man-made greenhouse gas concentrations.

Getting Skeptical about global warming skepticism   A summary of what the science says on each skeptic argument.


DesmogBlog’s Disinformation Database   An extensive database of individuals involved in the global warming denial industry.
DeSmogBlog thoroughly investigates the academic and industry backgrounds of those involved in the PR spin campaigns that are confusing the public and stalling action on global warming.   If there’s anyone or any organization,  ( i.e. scientist, self-professed “expert,” think tank, industry association, company) that you would like to see researched and reported on DeSmogBlog, please contact us here and we will try our best.

Myths vs. Facts in Global Warming: This news and analysis section addresses substance of arguments…   The main fallacy noted is that most arguments are facts out of context while others are simply false representations.   When the facts pertaining to the arguments are viewed in context relevance becomes obvious.   Global warming is happening and it is human caused.

Anti-global heating claims - a reasonably thorough debunking

Classic essays

How to talk to a Climate Sceptic   They have been divided and subdivided along 4 seperate lines: Stages of Denial, Scientific Topics, Types of Argument, Levels of Sophistication. This should facilitate quick retrieval of specific entries. Individual articles will appear under multiple headings and may even appear in multiple subcategories in the same heading.

In the politics of denialism we should remember the late Johnny Rook’s essay: Why Climate Denialists are Blind to Facts and Reason: The Role of Ideology

Don’t forget the videos Naomi Oreskes PhD….


Scientist and renowned historian Naomi Oreskes describes her investigation into the reasons for widespread mistrust and misunderstanding of scientific consensus.   She probes the history of organized campaigns designed to create public doubt and confusion about science.

Global TV News segment on the PR efforts by the oil and gas industry and the junk scientists that support the climate change denial lobby in Canada and the US.  Also features


Global warming messages for children of all ages

Preparing our children for their future is the most awesome responsibility we can bear.   As we discuss global warming, the first thing we can do is listen.   It is they who are preparing us - if we choose to hear.

Build-A-Bearville presented a controversial video for kids at Christmas time.   It plays in the background as children play the RPG style game at   Perhaps because it is telling your kids that global warming is going to melt the north pole, kill Santa and all the polar bears, it was deemed too political for including in their library.


Asking a few mothers about global warming, I learned no matter how old their children, there is some anxiety about climate change.  Some mothers are quite careful about bringing up the subject.   Karen Hall in Seattle advises “Be careful about feeding them obsessions.  I would not say anything, just put off talking about it because kids can care too much about things and you don’t want them to carry collective guilt.   With pre-teens, we just don’t want to add to their emotional burdens.  I don’t say anything.”   She prefers to listen, but later in conversations she told her teenagers that limiting human population is key.   “The people who have the most children are often the least able to properly raise children”.   And later her son wants to talk of solar power and federal energy buybacks, and the cost of electricity at different times of the day.

The conversational finesse happens during those teaching moments.  The informed dialog can include phrases like “I have no idea”, and “I am not sure how to answer that” and “we don’t know right now”.   Honesty is key.

Right now I want to say something like:

I’m sorry… we are all sorry that our climate is gradually getting warmer.  This means stronger weather.   People and industry are the biggest cause.   We have been putting too much pollution into the air.   We are trying to fix it and clean it up, but it is very hard to stop.  The best we can do is try to make it less bad and try to adjust to the changes.  As you grow up, the world will look a little different than today - you might see the sea levels rise, it may be warmer, or wetter or dryer.   Sometimes we may have some really bad weather.   You are very smart and adaptable.  And you will have some good ideas about what to do about it.   We want you to be happy and healthy and do what ever you can to find some solutions.

Like any important subject, we must honor the emotions without feeding fear.  It should be an authentic dialog using simple, positive words.   We want to exchange concerns and useful advice.  Kids are worried, and they already know there are not clear solutions.   And they need all the support we can give.  I am happy that schools are doing all they can - but it is distressing to learn that the influential Texas State Board of education is pushing textbooks that offer “different views on the existence of global warming” and are suppressing the science that “that our climate is warming and that humans are responsible”

Our media is a battleground for the hearts and minds of our children - just like the Joe Camel tobacco campaign…now it is Clean Coal, and pushing out science from common view this is a message war.   Popular media disappoints us by ignoring and denying this problem.   But the importance of the global warming message is right up there with “look both ways”, “wash your hands”, “cover your cough”.  Perhaps we should just add a phrase like “just try to adjust to it”.

Every parent will decide what to say and when.   Kim McGilivray in Seattle says “the one story I would want my kids to know to help them face the future is simple: believe your instincts, and let nothing deter you from following them”. We should encourage them only “to grow and expand in the best directions to nourish their souls.”

Julie in Boston says about her grandchildren ( twin toddlers ): “I don’t know whether being wild, smart, etc., will cut it under the circumstances that will exist.”

Pamela, a Seattle mother of 3 young adults - just advises them to “don’t have babies. Get conscious and be aware”.

Laurie, a mother of two teens in Massachusetts advises, “moms get your kids to stop being doped up on their flat screen tv’s and get them into the real 3D world.”

Gail in New Jersey says it with an elegant photo in her blog WitsEnd

Finally, the concluding words to gifted high school students from climate journalist Ross Gelbspan: to Brookline High School observing the International Day of Climate Action.

If you let yourself be paralyzed by fear, then you will be forfeiting your sense of future - as well as your responsibilities as citizens of the global community. But if you view the climate crisis as the overriding challenge of your generation, it leaves you with two tasks - one to finish and one to begin.  If you put your efforts into rewiring the world with clean energy, you will win that battle.  The trends are in your favor.  And if, in the process, you can take back some of the political power of the coal and oil industries, that will give you the kind of empowerment that is critical to your second task - which is helping create a new kind of society out of the rubble. 

You will encounter some chaos and some breakdowns in the future. Some may be frightening.  But it is precisely those breakdowns that will create the space for people who can help reconstruct a society which is truly based on principles of social justice.  The crisis will be giving you the opportunity to help shape a global society in which exploitation is replaced by much more equality between rich and poor, in which of all the planet’s inhabitants have the right to participate in a truly democratized world and, ultimately, in laying the groundwork for a whole new era of peace - peace among people and peace between people and nature.

But do remember this.  You will be pioneers at the leading edge of history.  But you will also be flying blind.  There is no body of expertise — no authoritative answers — for this challenge. We are crossing a threshold into uncharted territory.   And since there is no precedent to guide us, we are left with only our own hearts to consult, whatever courage we can muster, the intellectual integrity to look reality in the eye and an uncompromising dedication to a human future that reflects the combined hopes and ideals of every single person in this room. 

         — Ross Gelbspan (2009)

It is really not helpful to ignore or suppress the problem.  The only thing we should withhold from children is our anxiety — but not withhold our concern.   Sharing our thoughts, and speaking to the issue is an expression of our love and our faith in them and their future. Denying facts, avoiding the issue, and steering them away only makes their lives more difficult.   This is an important choice.

RP 1-10

Wonderful messages aimed at kids:

Site helping inform children of climate change:
   Family Science Days during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).   A teenager’s view of Global Warming. 14 year- old film-maker Ruby Reynolds explores what we’re doing to the planet and what we should be doing, now to slow down the process of global warming.



Government assuages existentialist climate anxiety

We certainly have seen it coming.   We have known about global warming for decades.  You can, and should find excellent science papers, government reports and planning scenarios.


In the last few years we have been shocked to see it unfold faster than predicted.   Almost daily there are palpable indications and new science studies on the increasing rate-of-change.   We had better pay attention closely.   The inevitable sea level rise, drought, floods, biological disruption, species extinctions, and heatwaves that will lead to social disruptions and conflicts over diminishing resources.  Expect millions of climate refugees.

To those of us who read and listen and follow this, it gives us worry and general anxiety.   We who like to think we have both knowledge and civility prefer to carefully evaluate a next move.   But the world population may not.   People will soon discover the explanation for their inexorable suffering from drought, heat, flood and famine.   They will hear predictions of more of the same to come - unfolding as the climate destabilizes.   This is real global anxiety.   It is easy to see why complete denial of global warming is so comfortable.  The reality is far too disturbing.


Greenhouse warming and climate destabilization does not halt magically in the year 2100.  That’s just a convenient calendar benchmark.  It will continue for many hundreds of years hence.   Today, humans forced to plan 20 or 30 years ahead will have to adjust and adapt in ways we never expected.   Back then, we were calm about our climate future; whereas now, you and they - will be - should be - very anxious.   To predict that within a few generations our species will completely perish - is not only possible, it is scientifically plausible.  Barring a technological breakthrough, an alien invasion or colossal volcanism, it is certain that young children today will face serious climate survival struggles in their adulthood.  No one wants that, and we might be able to mitigate the damage, but even a prediction of minimal climate calamities ahead cannot be avoided.

This means that our geography, agriculture and infrastructure will be changing radically and we will cling desperately to what remains of our civil society.   Worldwide hardship.  Curiously, the developed world may face the greater challenge, if only because we lack experience in simple, sustainable living.   In any case, future climate victims - with no resources, will seek survival, safety, food and water, from nations and people that have resources.   Many may wither and die, and many may panic to survive.   Those who have sufficient wealth and assets to insulate themselves from other human suffering, will be forced to manage and defend their wealth and resources from attacks by those seeking survival.   This may apply to many conflicts today: Darfur, Somalia, and Peru with it’s loss of fresh water glacier melt.   Increasingly, desperate people will conflict with the affluent in boundary squabbles.   Within any nation state, social destabilization is inevitable as climate destabilization moves forward.  Again, we do not know the rate of change.

GENEVA, June 23 (Reuters) - Global warming must be seen as an economic and security threat, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday, calling on poorer countries to speak louder about their climate change needs.
In an interview, Annan said he chose to focus his retirement energies on environmental risks because he believes that left unchecked, they could destabilize both rich and poor countries.

Over the millennia, humans have been blessed with a rich, stepped history of advancing civilizations - including Rome, Greece, the Mayans, the Incas, the Egyptians and China.   Measured culturally, legally, medically, socially, architecturally, scientifically, techno engineering, exploration and even by self-actualization or military conquest, we are at the peak of global civilization.   In an increasingly warming world with many feet of sea level rise, heat waves, disease, famine and climate strife, clearly not all these peaks of humanity will continue to rise.   Whether measuring a future in years or decades, the rate of social decline will be consistent with increasing climate destabilization.   It is hard to imagine many great, sustaining breakthroughs in Western civilization soon.   Or for many centuries.


I would be thrilled to be proven wrong, but it seems prudent to face facts and plan appropriately.

We come together under our brand of social contract to serve our common interests, to abjure political violence, and protect peaceful interests of citizens.   Justice and law cement the social order.   Continuously escalating climate destabilization will severely test any social structure as humans strive to adapt.  Climate adaption is by definition is a local action, a social effort that serves the present moment.   Whereas, mitigating climate change requires a globally unified, shared effort.   In the slow chemistry of climate, acts of mitigation require up to a half-century for effects to be seen.   Without external political pressure, it is difficult to image any nation/state/organized society wanting to apply resources toward meeting a 50 year goal.

Governments are crucial to helping with local adaptation, and a world government is crucial to driving serious mitigation efforts.

Google Timeline reveals triumph of denialism


You can see it with your own eyes - a quick history of global warming news stories.

Google Search is a tremendously powerful tool for online research.   Google engineers devised a way to display search results in a timeline layout.  This is a great way of visualizing a search term across time.  You will see a list of news stories for the time section you choose.  Then you can see your report displayed over days, months or years.

An easy first search is to enter “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” over a year range and see just how far back the story of global warming goes.   I found global warming news stories in 1967, 1968 and 69 and beyond.   The timeline display shows a handful of news stories for each year.  Each with the top news headlines as a hotspot to click for further information.   It was startling to see global warming news stories published 30 and 40 years ago.  And alarming to see a 1988 news story with much the same phrasing as global warming news story today.


This suggests that the news media - mostly newspapers, have been stuck in relative ignorance for decades, or it suggests that advertiser interests and paid professional PR challenges to science has been wildly successful.  It is as if we are stuck in the 1980’s.   Look back and see the same discussions; we have not moved beyond these basic issues.   In your Timeline search be sure to check the dates of these articles and photo images.   A cursory review of these news reports show decades of inaction.  To me this reads like a triumph of professional skeptics and denialism movements.  The manipulated delay has been diabolically successful.   Coal now provides fully half our electrical energy, carbon fuels are widely used, and even the simplest alternative transportation is crippled and marginalized - from trains to bicycles, to electric cars.  We are stuck in the 60’s

One article from 1977. Jul 25, Washington Post

Burning of coal could alter climate
by Margot Hornblower Washington Post
If industrial nations continue to burn oil and coal for energy, the world’s average temprerature could increase more than six degrees centigrat (11 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next 200 years, the National Academy of Sciences warns…

It is difficult to know whether this news flurry triggered a PR campaign by the coal industry consortium.

News story from 1979

21st century disasters predicted by scientist

NEW YORK (UPI) Dust bowls over large areas of North America, Asia and Africa and a rapid rise in th global sea level are possible early in 21st century, a scientist warned Monday

And from April 4 1980
Scientist warns of serious threat from carbon dioxide pollution

WASHINGTON, The concentration of polluting carbon dioxide the atmosphere “poses a serious threat to climatic, economic and political stability over the next 50 years” a scientinst told a congressional panel Thursday…


Article from the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

By Debera Carlton P-I Reporter
TUESDAY, October 28, 1986

In 50 years, Seattleites may not have to travel to Southern California for warm, sunny weather.

Scientists say the Puget Sound region could one day be as balmy as Baja because of the pollution-caused trend in global warming known as the greenhouse effect.

The trouble is, by the time we have year-round tanning weather there may not be any beaches, due to a predicted 5-foot rise in sea level.

“Short of nuclear war, the greenhouse effect is the largest global change people will experience in the next century - and there’s no going back,” said Richard Gammon, an oceanographer with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle.

“The 100-year forecast is for a warmer, wetter world,” said Gammon, echoing other scie quite possible that in 50 years Seattle will be more like Los Angeles.  However, there may not be many beaches because of a global sea- level rise.”

Scientists, even those who eschew a doomsday outlook on global warming, say that 100 or even 50 years from now there may be big changes worldwide in coastlines, fisheries, forests, rainfall patterns, agriculture and the oceans.   They just don’t know how big…

The Google Timeline display can really help one visualize data.  We can do a study of press coverage of skeptical, denial and the anti-science challenges.   I am guessing we would see a strong rise of news stories around the 1980s and 90’s.   What have we learned in four decades?   Does this portend how fast we will learn the next lesson?   Who is controlling information?

The Precautionary Principle

Global Warming denialists have lost the ethical battle.

It’s fascinating to see people newly awaken to the issue of global warming.  They often stand with wide open eyes, stammering about the enormity of the problem.  Each seems to harbor an unstated foundation: the Precautionary Principle - Every mother tells her young child  “If you are ever unsure about whether something might hurt you - then don’t do it.” 


  This rule applies to gathering wild mushrooms, using chemical insecticides, and talking with strangers.  Now mother’s rule can also apply to global warming: when our activities threaten to harm human health or the environment, then precautionary measures should be taken.  Even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not scientifically fully established.

…The principle implies that there is a responsibility to intervene and protect the public from exposure to harm where scientific investigation discovers a plausible risk in the course of having screened for other suspected causes.  The protections that mitigate suspected risks can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that more robustly support an alternative explanation. In some legal systems, as in the law of the European Union, the precautionary principle is also a general and compulsory principle of law.   from Wikipedia

This strongly ethical statement elegantly applies to global warming as seen in the introductory video to the Manpollo project.  It asks   “Given the risks and uncertainties of global warming, what is the best action to take?” 

Concluding that since the stakes are so high, we need to act appropriately despite any uncertainty.  Why is there anything less than full agreement?

  Intentional commercial pressures stifle unified action on global warming and feed the ideological resistance.  It is easy to blame the persistent but effective PR campaign pushing global warming denial , producing bad science and promoting the false notion that the problem is not really serious and humans cannot do anything about it.  Such blather - funded and promoted by the carbon fuel industry - is readily accepted by the carbon devoted public.  But cheerleading for carbon loyalty is so far outside of ethical principles that it amounts to encouraging species suicide.  Professional denialism is a short term business tactic.   By contrast, the insurance industry deeply understands global warming and expects to profit from it.  They follow the science closely in order to stay in business.  Carbon fuel companies feel compelled to do the opposite.

This is why professional global warming deniers are beginning to be so reviled, because beyond denial, they reject the precautionary principle - hence losing the ethical battle and reveal their ideological and corporate colors.  This was expressed recently by Patrick Michaels of the CATO institute who has been promoting the business-as-usual line “Nothing to worry about here, move along”.  The CATO institute is a paid messenger of the Coal Industry.

One prefers to see the well-behaved skeptic/denier retain some human ethics while expressing doubts about global warming.  It seems wise to add a phrase like “since the stakes are so high, we better proceed with caution and act prudently no matter what the science says”.   When the CATO institute treats us to the blatant advocacy of carbon capitalism then it touches the twin evils of scientific duplicity and amoral actions.   

The newest denialist tactic is to demand a change in terminology. Some global warming treaties have had to abandon the term: ‘precautionary principle’ changing instead to the ‘precautionary approach’.   Possibly because a principle can be a legal foundation for law, whereas approach is diffuse and carries no commitment.  My mother would never have allowed her edict to be called an approach, and I hope all mothers will stick with principle.

Up until now our civilization has thrived on high risk innovation that ignores principles of precaution.  Risk has been the essence of Western capitalist growth.  And it is no longer working, either in matters of finance or atmosphere.  Risk should be managed, controlled or insured.  We have either ignored or strategically ignored the fundamental axiom of respect for the future of human life.

Today, all the basic questions about global warming science are sufficiently settled to make public policy.  This is not rocket science. So much has been written by universities and science foundations that any reasonably dedicated person can come to understand the basic science.   Today, no sane and sober scientist will deny global warming

or that it is is caused by greenhouse gasses.  However public opinion remains vulnerable to mass media marketing schemes, and humans maybe hardwired to ignore the threat. And very big and serious lobbyists have redoubled their efforts.   But now we enter an era where the real impacts of global warming will directly touch all populations and denialist challenges will mean little before real heat, real melting, real privation and sea level rise.

The Precautionary Principle continues to guide us as we grow to understand that the cost of mitigating climate change is far less than the cost of adapting to change .  Denial, or to refuse to act on either is a short-sighted, immoral choice.

Dangerous minimization of climate news events

We depend on news media to pass along important information about global warming.  Like the real news event of a breach in the huge wall of ice in the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

It is not very often that we see a discrete event that’s clearly due to global warming.  Melting ice is usually slow and uninteresting.  But these days we have glaciers moving at many feet per day - where my childhood lessons said they moved at inches per year.

It was disappointing to see the MSNBC reporter mess up a simple news story of an ice event with comments from a notorious political ideologue funded by the coal industry.

It could have been a traffic accident, a fire, an earthquake or even a tsunami.  Just give us the important news please:   In Antarctica a giant wall of ice broke and released vast areas of the Wilkins ice shelf to further destruction.

But why would NBC reporter Tracy Potts decide to bring in the most contentious climate denial spokesperson Patrick Michaels to comment on this event?  See the story for yourself


Reporter Potts labeled him a climatologist and researcher - but he works as a spokesperson for the Libertarian CATO Institute.  Columnist George Monbiot numbered him as 8th in the ten worst climate warming deniers.

I know reporters are over-worked and pressured by assignment editors, but work like this should not be allowed to stand.   MSNBC editors are at fault here.

The stakes are too much, too serious to even consider comments from such a science shill as Patrick Michaels who is heavily funded by the coal industry.  For her complicity, reporter Tracy Potts risks being labeled a PR tool; if she is unaware, then she risks being called inept.   Perhaps this will be an education.

Journalists have some terrific resources available.  When an expert comment is required, they can first check the excellent List of Global Warming and Climate Change Experts for Media.

Before interviewing that expert, the professional journalist can find some background briefings on the subject from their own professional organization: The Society of Environmental Journalists.   They offer introductory essays, science briefings, as well as overviews of government, agency and organizations.  Most interesting is they also discuss skeptics and contrarians - including Patrick Michaels with a description saying how he has changed from “denying human-induced greenhouse warming to downplaying its importance.”   Gosh, when we next do a story asking whether global warming is important, we shall be sure to call on Michaels for a comment.   But we should pass on asking him about science.

MSNBC and all (remaining) news organizations would do well to keep their reporters briefed and well connected to worthwhile sources.  I hope that Tracy Potts is a member of a professional organization.  My local NBC affiliate KING-TV chose to air that story unedited - and so local news editors could do better handling these stories too

Meanwhile, individuals will continue to watch big news media with a critical eye, continuing to search for better sources for news.

Royalty shows how it is done

Britain’s Prince Charles knows how it is done:   Step forward, say what needs to be said, demonstrate leadership through tough-love.   He breeds admiration and loyalty.

By speaking up, royalty calls out the power and the money of the world to do the right thing.   Our modern Captains of Capitalism need to ascend to a new role of nobility at least.  And they are not good at it.  Capitalism lacks a future, has no leaders and is rapidly losing it’s foundation and following.


The Fresh Prince of Clean Air
Prince Charles says financial crisis is ‘nothing’ compared to climate change

RIO DE JANEIRO — The current global financial crisis is “nothing” compared to the impact of climate change, Britain’s Prince Charles warned Thursday as he called for urgent environmental protection measures.   “We are, I fear, at a defining moment in the world’s history,” he told a meeting of Brazilian business leaders and officials in Rio deJaneiro half-way through a Latin America tour. “The global recession is far worse than any seen for generations,” he said, adding that growing demand for energy and food created the potential for “political uncertainty in every continent.”  But, worse, he said, was that “the threat of catastrophic climate change calls into question humanity’s continued survival on the planet.”

He stressed: “Any difficulties which the world faces today will be as nothing compared to the full effects which global warming will have on the world-wide economy.”

The US has (or used to have) vast wealth and the most power held by individuals and institutions.  But what we lack is nobility or a royal class.   I am not asking for a return to the King George, I am asking our economic leaders to stop the denial, halt the squabbling and step up an attitude that reflects care and respect for their subjects.   People, subjects and markets are crucial to the future of their markets.

It is sad that we have to plead with the captains of our corporatocracy to preserve the very class of people responsible for their wealth and power.   What short-sighted, narrow minded idiocy this is - that we must petition the corporatocracy to halt the destruction of our people and our mutual future.  Off with their heads!

After WWII - then Princess Elizabeth, in her first trip overseas said  “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

That is royalty.  Serve your subjects.  Even in business this is a common goal; “partnerships” is the jargon.  Instead, our rapacious idiot corporatocracy has plundered our future.   Now they are losing the campaign and desperate for change.

Now they need to be reborn, be reformed or die.   They might take a lesson from the multigenerational monarchy.   It is a small request to ask our leaders to take charge and take a lead and act like a caring monarch.


Thanks goes out to a prince of a man, Joe Romm for his link — his is the key to staying current about global warming and the political change surrounding the issue.   Recently Joe ran parallel pieces on his site and in Salon about the Gates Foundation and its failure to acknowledge global warming.

Prodding the Sacred Cow


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropy, has overlooked the biggest threat to human health and human future - the increasing rate of climate destabilization from global warming.

**********   UPDATE   ***********

Failure To Tackle Climate Change Spells A Global Health Catastrophe, Experts Warn
ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2009) — An editorial and letter, published simultaneously by the BMJ and Lancet, warn that failure to agree radical cuts in carbon dioxide emissions at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen this December spells a global health catastrophe.

Last year the Foundation co-chairman said about Global Warming:  “The fact of the matter is we don’t think about it”.   I urge you to change that immediately to state:  “Every individual, organization and state should be thinking about climate change now”.

For too long the Gates Foundation ignored extensive research that concludes global warming and climate destabilization has extended and amplified disease and other human health problems .  Your science advisers can tell you that global warming is caused, enhanced and accelerated by carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by industrial civilization.  The biggest danger to our future is that we may fail to regulate CO2 output  Continued global warming causes sea levels to rise which will increase disease vector populations

If eradicating malaria is the goal then you must regard the compelling data and devastating forces of a changing climate.  All of the awesomely great works by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can be undone by the horrible realities of Global Warming to come.  If you truly want to support human health and nurture prosperity, then you need to refocus and modify priorities in a way that respects climate change.
The investment policy for the Foundation Trust forbids trading in tobacco stock since that industry so obviously harms health.  Similarly, I ask you to halt investments in carbon fuel companies and other polluting industries.  You may derive revenue from over $1 billion invested in oil company stocks, but the resulting greenhouse gas emissions will further increase the rate of warming.  Until you decide how best to be part of the solution, please don’t be part of the problem.  You should completely divest from any hydro-carbon energy company stock holdings.

We all praise the Gates Foundation for generosity and laudatory good works saving lives and giving hope for the future.  But gradually, inexorably, everyone is beginning to feel the aggravation, pain and real suffering from our destabilizing climate.  To further ignore the problem is misguided, shortsighted and squanders the opportunity for change. 

At the very least, you should accept climate change as a real cause of suffering, and include it when evaluating the global health metrics that underlie your good works.  With such an honest view, others can share in your objective: for all people to have healthy and productive lives.

Failure to act is the biggest sin. Knowledgeable people of wealth and power should take a stand - because it is right, because it is needed and because inaction brings harm to us all

     Richard Pauli    February 2009

Cross posted in the Seattle PI First Person opinion March 2, 2009

Recent email from the Gates Foundation on Global Warming

Update: The World Health Organization report on malaria.

Yale University Environment 360 The Spread of New Diseases: The Climate Connection Oct 2009

Gates Foundation email response

The following is the Gates Foundation response to questions about global warming.  Rec'd  Feb.16, 2009

Subject: RE: Quick questions about Global Warming - Climate Destabilization

Dear Richard,

Thank you for reaching out to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Early on, Bill and Melinda Gates agreed to focus on a few areas of giving, choosing where to place their money by asking two questions: Which problems affect the most people? And which have been neglected in the past? With that in mind, they decided that the three areas where we can make the greatest difference are improving global health, giving people a chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty, and strengthening education in the United States. (Read more at:

The foundation believes that climate change is a major issue facing all of us. The implications, however, are especially dire for people in developing countries because they are primarily in tropical areas and rely heavily on agriculture and other sectors most vulnerable to changes in their environment. They also have the fewest resources to adapt to these changes.

While the foundation is not directly involved in climate change efforts, our work in global health and development-including efforts to cultivate drought-resistant crops and strengthen health systems-helps communities adapt to changes in the environment. Ultimately, we take action, including our global health and development work, to empower people to make their communities more resilient to all the challenges they face, including climate change.

The following web links should also be useful to you:

• Information about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation trust:

• Financial information about both the foundation and the asset trust:

• Investment policy information:

• Frequently Asked Questions:

• Bill Gates' annual letter (in which he discusses the effects of climate change on agricultural development):

Foundation Media Team
From: Richard Pauli []
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 12:40 PM
To: Media
Subject: Quick questions about Global Warming - Climate Destabilization

To the Media Relations Dept,

I hope you can help me with a few questions about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As a blogger and citizen journalist with a very small readership to, I have been looking into the issue of global warming and changes ahead.

If you will permit a few questions, I hope these are simple enough to respond with links.

Regarding the foundation asset trust investments:
Do you have a current list of stock holdings?
As the Trust will not invest in tobacco stocks; are there other categories of stocks that are forbidden? Such as military weaponry, coal companies, etc?

Does the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have any stated policy on
global climate change or climate destabilization or global warming?

Does the Foundation make any grants directly related to adaptation or mitigation of climate change?

Thank you so much for your response,


Richard Pauli

Gates Foundation ignores global warming - 1/3

“The last temptation is the greatest treason, to do the right thing for the wrong reason”.          - T.S Eliot

Before a gathering of Techno-elites Bill Gates released mosquitoes into the audience as a way of forcing empathy for malaria vaccine research.  But at the same time, Bill Gates may be doing far more harm to the world than his foundation could possibly balance in good deeds.   To ignore global warming harms our future.

Last year the Gates Foundation said about Global Warming:  “The fact of the matter is we don’t think about it. We haven’t paid a lot of attention to environmental issue.”

It is clear that they have been thinking about it quite a bit and have crafted carefully calculated stances that work to delay climate action, work to influence public policy to allow massive carbon dioxide releases to continue. 


Global warming can no longer be ignored.  Any business related to generating CO2 is hastening our demise.  That means all carbon fuel companies - oil, coal, gas and related industries automotive - are active or passive enablers.

Climate warming worsens disease.   Even if the Gates Foundation confines its works only to malaria, it cannot ignore global warming.   The WHO Technical Report Series on Malaria Vector Control and Personal Protection says:

Climate change has potential effects on coastal malaria.  Firstly, more frequent cyclones and floods will increase vector density and the risk of malaria.  Past epidemics were often associated with above average rainfall.  Second, flooding of low-lying areas, due to raised sea levels will expand breeding areas.  Within the Asia-Pacific region, many such areas are malarious and refugees from them could provide a large reservoir of infection.  Emergency relocation of refugees, particularly if aircraft, trains and/or buses are used, will increase the possibility of introducing exotic vectors into malaria-free countries.  Parasites resistant to antimalarials will add to the difficulties of treatment.  More than direct land loss due to seas rising, indirect factors are generally listed as the main difficulties associated with the rise in sea level.  These include erosion patterns and damage to coastal infrastructure, salinization of wells, suboptimal functioning of the sewerage and drainage systems of coastal cities, with resulting health impacts, loss of littoral ecosystems and loss of biotic resources.

Microsoft has been making billions selling computer operating systems so vital for expanding business.  An operating system is like a form of government for computers,  it is a way of handling all the complexity of a computer and put it to work.  An operating system handles every event in the computer, every detail, every obscure piece of data.  And the operating system prevents any misbehaving object from interfering with the whole system.  It must know how everything interconnects.  His statement “We don’t think about it” is like an operating system that is totally unaware of its power supply.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet - two of the world’s richest men, lead the way:  promising entire fortunes to find a cure for the diseases that kill millions of children in the poorest countries in the world.

They had better start paying attention to global warming.  The World Health Organization has been paying attention
Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said: “Global warming has already impacted lives and health, and this problem will pose an even greater threat to mankind in coming decades if we fail to act now.”

The UN, the Union of Concerned Scientists, economists, the insurance industry, all are sounding an alarm.  Anthropogenic global warming is like the Blue Screen of Death to our atmospheric system.   Something that should not be ignored, should not be denied.

I suggest The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation immediately change their statement to:
“Every individual, organization and state should be thinking about climate change right now” They should do this because of the science , because of the ethics, and most of all because to do otherwise shows they are misinformed and it will soon be horrendously embarrassed.   Gates, who made his fortune on operating systems, should think like a systems developer; he should know that such an unstable and changing part of the system cannot be ignored.  It affects everything else.  It is as if he built a computer operating system and ignored the power requirements.   By ignoring the climate system it suggests he is playing only with financial systems  - and along with many businesses is paying the price for short-sighted business decisions.   A philanthropic organization should be skilled in associated reasoning - knowing that help and investments here will do the most good over there.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done so much, saved so many millions of lives, and its work will help save many more.  It is a wonderful and remarkable and shining example of gracious and enlightened capitalism.  Many, many thanks go to that foundation for the work they do, and will be doing.

See chart:   Climate change and vector-borne diseases. (2000). In UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. Retrieved 22:57, July 17, 2009 from

About a year ago, the Gates foundation had a tiff with the World Health Organization.  The WHO has published many studies concluding that global warming will cause horrendous problems with world health - including a 322 page tome Climate change and human health - risks and responses.   But Gates ignores global warming as a cause of any health problems .  The public part of the tiff was over the malaria funding.  Gates is doing great research and may have a cure or fix for malaria… we will know soon. 

The Gates foundation really did not want to rely on data from the WHO saying that Anthropogenic Global Warming is serious, and we should do something about it.  So the Gates Foundation built their own instituion to do the research — the Seattle based,  Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE)  whose sole purpose is to gather data about health problems in the world.  It does much the same thing as the WHO does, even has snagged some WHO executives.  They deliver tremendously useful data on the state of disease globally.  The only difference is they do no projections on future threats - no global warming issues.  They segregate data on disease, and health problems from global warming.  After all few deaths from global warming, rather it is famine, disease, thirst, or fire or any precisely definable cause.  The WHO has dozens and dozens of serious science peer reviewed reports and studies on the subject of human disease and global warming .  But the IHME has none.  But they are not in business for that purpose  And so the Gates Foundation has been using them as a data source and so can ignore global warming.

Well the Emperor has no clothes, and the Foundation has its head in the sand   Now can you guys wake up and look around?


Given all the information available, how can the Gates Foundation ask us to ignore global warming?

This year the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be spending 7% of its multi-billion dollar endowment on hundreds of efforts to fund research, knocking out polio, malaria and other noble efforts. 

Very soon (and starting now), climate changes from global warming will be the top health danger, the greatest stressor to humans, the biggest killer of population and productivity.  Millions will be dying from starvation, thirst, flood, storms and fires.  With sea level rise, expect to see millions of climate refugees - and with refugees expect to see climate wars

More than two-thirds of the world’s large cities are in areas vulnerable to global warming and rising sea levels, and millions of people are at risk of being swamped by flooding and intense storms, according to a new study released Wednesday.

In all, 634 million people live in the threatened coastal areas worldwide — defined as those lying at less than 33 feet above sea level — and the number is growing, said the study published in the journal Environment and Urbanization.

More than 180 countries have populations in low-elevation coastal zones, and about 70 percent of those have urban areas of more than 5 million people that are under threat. Among them: Tokyo; New York; Mumbai, India; Shanghai, China; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Gwynne Dyer - Military analyst and producer of “Climate Wars”

… I did start to look into this idea that global warming could lead to wars. It turned into a year-long trek talking to scientists, soldiers and politicians in a dozen different countries. I have come back from that trip seriously worried, and there are four things I learned that I think you ought to know.

The first is that a lot of the scientists who study climate change are in a state of suppressed panic these days. Things seem to be moving much faster than their models predicted.

The second thing is that the military strategists are right. Global warming is going to cause wars, because some countries will suffer a lot more than others. That will make dealing with the global problem of climate change a lot harder.

The third is that we are probably not going to meet the deadlines. The world’s countries will probably not cut their greenhouse gas emissions enough, in time, to keep the warming from going past 2 degrees celsius. That is very serious.

And the fourth thing is that it may be possible to cheat on the deadlines. I think we will need a way to cheat, at least for a while, in order to avoid a global disaster

Bangladesh faces 5 feet of sea level rise by 2100.   “As many as 30 million people would become refugees in their own land, many of them subsistence farmers with nothing to subsist on any longer.”

James Lovelock, the originator of the notion of Gaia - predicts a global population decimation.   An earth population of nearly 9 billion humans, will soon be reduced to 1 billion.  And not many climate scientists can say that’s impossible.

United Nations studies, recent NOAA reports, Union of Concerned Scientists, NRDC, Pentagon studies, even the Bush administration reports serious danger ahead.  The Gates Foundation is located near the highly respected University of Washington Atmospherics department. Even your local journalist has a science overview They have no excuse for such paltry attention.

The most dangerous denial is that of the tipping point feedback events - such as methane releases - a greenhouse gas 25 times more active than carbon dioxide - that can accelerate warming beyond all anticipated levels. We are playing with fire.

The writer Bruce Sterling thinks this year 2009 - will be a Year of Panic.  He says:

The climate.  People still behave as if it’s okay.  Every scientist in the world who isn’t the late Michael Crichton knows that it’s not.  The climate is in terrible shape; something’s gone wrong with the sky.  The bone-chilling implications haven’t soaked into the populace, even though Al Gore put together a PowerPoint about it that won him a Nobel.  Al was soft-peddling the problem.

It’s become an item of fundamentalist faith to maintain that the climate crisis is a weird leftist hoax.  Yet, since the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, an honest fear of the consequences will prove hard to repress.  Since the fear has been methodically obscured, its emergence from the mists of superstition will be all the more powerful.  Unlike mere shibboleths of finance, this is a situation that’s objectively terrifying and likely to remain so indefinitely.

It is an old American saying “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is easy to forget that your original goal was to drain the swamp”   The Gates Foundation is heroically smiting the ferocious alligators of disease and low productivity.  Thanks for that.  Really.  But the swamp waters are rising.  The seas literally rising - and within the next few generations we can expect at least a few feet of sea level rise and as much as twenty feet within a century.  Children alive today will witness tremendous chaos.

In Part 2  Why is the Gates Foundation in denial?

Why the Gates Foundation ignores global warming 2/3

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Many scientists have given up trying to warn the world of global warming.  They think their work is done, the science is done, and now they are leaving it to human political will to effect necessary change.  A comparatively small effort put into mitigation, would yield tremendous payoffs in the form of reduced warming problems.  And conversely, ignoring the problem now will make it much worse later. 

The Gates Foundation must have very smart scientists, brilliant financial advisers (if there are any these days), sharp administrators and good-hearted visionaries.  They list some powerfully smart guiding principles  Including “We are in it for the long haul.”

But they are strangely silent on the one issue that trumps all biological threats - the one issue that will be responsible for decimating human population.  Failure to acknowledge, failure to act means they must be misinformed, or shortsighted, or misdirected.  They seem to be acting contrary to their stated goals, and the interests of everyone.

It can’t possibly be because they don’t know that These two things aren’t disconnected.   Global climate change directly affects human health outcomes whether through disease distribution or agricultural productivity and food security.  …the U.S. is a leader in countering infectious diseases and other public health concerns…. climate change and the spread of such diseases are connected.”

Could it be that the enthusiastic fight of infectious diseases is a way of tacitly supporting the industries that enhance global warming?   I want to believe there is no conscious decision.  But again this year Exxon had the greatest profit year ever  - $45 Billion.  Exxon and other carbon fuel companies make up over $1 billion in the foundation trust investments.
Why would the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation consciously decide to ignore global warming?   
The carbon fuel industry is quite serious about keeping carbon fuel sales moving - last year spending over $200 million on influencing public opinion on global warming.    Carbon industries such as oil companies, automobile, coal, all know that influence on the Gates Foundation is a necessary part of doing business.   A few years ago, the Gates Foundation Trust listed investments  (as of this writing the 2008 list is not released) -  they were heavily into ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies.  Over $1 billion invested must have generated much revenue but also generated millions of tons of CO2 yearly. 

ExxonMobil, as the prime source of financial support for global warming denier PR campaigns, is now facing a suit for their part in causing global warming in Kivalina v Exxon.   Now this case is still in the courts, and it is only $400 million - not much for Exxon, but I would think the Gates Foundation would want to divest from such a company.  CO2 emissions cause greater and greater global warming.  As one scientist said about further carbon dioxide emissions, “this is just piling on, this is just running up the score”


Or do they want to avoid the subject of global warming because it is a business negative, or economically depressive stance for such a business related foundation?

Develop strategy … The foundation will be a adjusting the strategy as it sees fit; by CEO decision then input from Bill and Melinda.  The key danger is the full support of  BAU  “Business As Usual”   Because one goal of the Gates Foundation is to enhance productivity - which could mean business-as-usual. 
Does the Foundation see anthropogenic global warming as essentially constrictive to business and hence bad for underlying funding sources?

The elephant in the room is not static. Climate continues to destabilize and grow warmer, change is happening faster than scientists had expected. So it must be increasingly difficult for the Gates Foundation to keep ignoring global warming.   Dr James Hansen says that we have horrible realities to face , sooner rather than later, and humans now should act to mitigate the damage.  No matter what we do, there will be increased warming for the next 40 years.

At present, the Gates Foundation invests solely around trying to maximize returns, arguing that the more it makes, the more worthy projects it can fund.  That means it has steered its dollars toward a number of companies that contradict the best of its values. Exxon/Mobil, for instance, has been the prime funder of think tanks and individuals denying global warming.  The Foundation invested in mortgage companies, like Ameriquest, that have been accused in lawsuits or by government officials of making it easier for thousands of people to lose their homes, even as it also supported nonprofits that helped victims of predatory lending. It put money into Tenet Healthcare, which has paid over $1.5 billion in settlements for fraud, kickbacks, and patient-care lapses.  The only category of corporations the Foundation excluded was tobacco companies, and Gates Foundation CEO Patty Stonesifer defended their approach by saying it would be naïve to suggest that an individual stockholder can stop the human suffering blamed on the practices of companies in which it invests. “Changes in our investment practices would have little or no impact on these issues.”   Paul Loeb,0,6827615.story

Last year… “a Times investigation has found, the foundation reaps vast financial gains every year from investments that contravene its good works.”…   Like most philanthropies, the Gates Foundation gives away at least 5% of its worth every year, to avoid paying most taxes.  In 2005, it granted nearly $1.4 billion.  It awards grants mainly in support of global health initiatives, for efforts to improve public education in the United States, and for social welfare programs in the Pacific Northwest…  …It invests the other 95% of its worth.  This endowment is managed by Bill Gates Investments, which handles Gates’ personal fortune.  Monica Harrington, a senior policy officer at the foundation, said the investment managers had one goal: returns “that will allow for the continued funding of foundation programs and grant making.” …   …at least $8.7 billion, or 41% of its assets, not including U.S. and foreign government securities — have been in companies that countered the foundation’s charitable goals or socially concerned philosophy…  …The Gates Foundation is a major shareholder in the companies that own both of the polluting plants.  As of September, the foundation held $295 million worth of stock in BP, a co-owner of Sapref.  As of 2005, it held $35 million worth of stock in Royal Dutch Shell, Sapref’s other owner.  The foundation also held a $39-million investment in Anglo American, which owns the Mondi paper mill.   The foundation has held large investments in all three companies since at least 2002. Since then, the worth of BP shares has shot up by about 83%, Royal Dutch Shell shares by 77% and Anglo American shares about 255%. Dividends have padded the foundation’s assets by additional millions of dollars.

This is a tremendous problem.  Global warming is a Gordian Knot that cannot have a good solution.

Possibly the Gates Foundation thinks that the required paradigm shift would be too great for people to face, even for the Gates Foundation.   Their web site lists hundreds of helpful projects they currently fund world-wide. Certainly mitigating warming would require a direct frontal attack on the carbon dioxide generation that is such a part of our industrialized civilization.  This will greatly disturb the global economy.

I hope the Gates foundation is getting ready to make a decisive move.  Because climate is changing, warming and destabilizing - and they will need to change, or be left behind.

In the last few years, the language in global warming policy papers stopped using the more hopeful term “fix” or “solve” the global warming problem.  It is beyond fixing.  Unless we revert to a pre-industrial state for 1000 years , it is too late to fix.  The the recently released NOAA report says “how changes in surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions are completely stopped”. 

Now the language has changed.  According to the Annual Review of Public Health society has three basic options for responding to human-caused climate change:  

Mitigateby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy and land use or capturing them from the atmosphere to retard or, perhaps, reverse the extra heating of Earth caused by GHG build-up in the atmosphere.

Adapt by reducing the negative effects of climate change through such measures as protecting coastlines, moving populations away from impacted areas, increasing efforts to control climate-related vector-borne diseases, and insulating cities from heat stress.

Suffer because climate changes already seem to be underway and that efforts in the first two arenas above are moving slowly. Even with major mitigation and adaptation efforts, suffering will likely increase, perhaps considerably in poorer parts of the world, because of the climate change committed already.

This is the perfect realm for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.   They are poised to have a tremendous effect.  Even by stating a policy stance that respects climate change, they can do tremendous good.

part 3  Recommending specific actions

Suggestions for Gates Foundation pt 3 of 3

Climates destabilize, temperatures change, sea levels rise, and the Gates Foundation can change too. 

The Annual Review of Public Health offers a conclusion:

Perhaps the most telling simple definition of public health is that it is the science and art of making people healthy before they are wealthy (and then keeping them that way). Although altering both the rules and the stakes in as yet uncertain ways, the emergence of climate change on the world stage reinforces this vision of public health’s mission. The profession will need new infusions of methods, strategies, and resources to prevent climate change from slowing or reversing progress toward acceptable standards of global population health.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Trust should make some specific changes:

Recognize and Accept

Speaking Out is the greatest action that Bill Gates and the B&M Foundation could take… and its free.  Their reputation is their greatest asset, misusing it squanders good will.

All accomplished by the strength of status - the smartest, richest builder of operating systems… Recognize the greatest stressor to human health and productivity for a human future is Global warming  

Accept the science from the UN, NOAA, Union of Concerned Scientists, even from the University of Washington Atmospherics Dept.  Even watch local Seattle TV news for an education on Global Warming.  Examine the IPCC models and scenarios, including time lines for change.  Let sciencedrive policy.  Openly promote accepted mitigation strategies.   For the BMGF to decare this danger would do more to validate the direction of struggle.

Get some climatologists on staff to layout models and scenarios.

Many events were long predicted, melting Arctic ice, and many more will be easily predicted.  But everything is happening sooner than predicted.  And new tipping points will trigger feedback loops that need careful scrutiny.

It is likely your science advisers will say the crucial step is to halt CO2 emissions.  Plenty of projects for converting from fossil fuel to wind, solar, wave.  Learning carbon sequestratn.  For the Gates Foundation this means the oil investments will have to stop… and the various 300 million dollar investments each in Exxon and BP should stop.  Fossil fuels endanger our very future.

Establish and Appoint a Climate Relations Czar

Appoint Al Gore - or someone like him - to head up your Global warming action wing.  Change your goal to define the specific actions to adapt with disbursements, and mitigate with selected investments.

Political pressure to demand Mitigation

Lobby to lessen the impact of global warming by halting CO2 production.   “We are in it for the long Haul”  It will take 50 years before the effects of reduced CO2 are felt in the atmosphere.,0,6827615.story

Climate change is something that is on the minds of many major non-governmental organizations and international think tanks.  It has certainly not escaped the attention of the Organisation For Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which has had a climate change group as part of their environment directorate for a number of years.  Their work is meant “to assist countries to implement effective and efficient policies to address climate change by conducting policy-relevant research and analysis.”  Near the top of their homepage, visitors will find two particularly helpful sections: “Publications & Documents” and “Information By Country”.  The “Publications & Documents” are divided into sections that include news releases, policy briefs, case studies, and best practices.  The “Don’t Miss” area found on the right hand side of the homepage brings together some of their key works, including “Climate Change Mitigation: What Do We Do?” and “Ranking Port Cities with High Exposure and Vulnerability to Climate Extremes.”

Make transformative investments 

Not just grants, but investments can make change.   Isn’t investment a form of devotion and faith?  Now they invest in hundreds of companies, funding.  It seems obvious that some industrial sectors need investment and will return greatly on that… electrical grid, trains, solar power, wind power, electric car, pharma research.  They invest in many of these sectors now.  Drop the oil company stocks.

How long you want humans to be around;  30, 50 or 100 years?   The best future investments would be for non-carbon energy companies, low carbon industrials, and then low carbon housing and transportation.

Battleground of Ideas 

The world’s largest philanthropic organization needs to take the lead. There are no good choices, only the least bad.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation must get away from old thinking.  Humanity is in acar, in a blinding the fog, racing toward a cliff, and we don’t need people selling us more gas. We need global economies to become zero carbon as soon as possible.  The Gates foundation is in the unique position of fostering trust.  It cannot afford to be fostering CO2 capitalism.

Take up the banner of truth

Oil and coal companies are spending over $200 million per year to influence public opinion.
Gates has a free podium of status and adulation that he squanders by ignoring the seriousness of the problem. 

Making change happen

The world will be facing increasingly serious global warming problems.  Everywhere.  The Gates Foundation is trapped by endowments that are heavily connected to carbon fuel industries.  CO2 makes warming worse.  CO2 cannot even be capped.  All humans must radically reduce CO2.   And that sure will harm our business-as-usual.  And harm carbon investments.  This is plain old monetary denialism.  They don’t want global warming to affect their investment returns.   So  “We don’t think about it.”  So their soft denial, the shunting aside facing up to the problem will surely tarnish their reputation.   And beyond their philanthropy, their reputation as the vanguard  …..  They are the Mother Teresa of Foundations.   And they are about to squander this good will to become the Benedict Arnold

The problem of global warming is astoundingly momentous.  Hard to apprehend.  The Gates Foundation should be acting smarter.   Why save a million people when you can save 8 Billion?  Maybe that is the unintentional answer - the goal is to save only the oligarchy  - if that is so they risk misjudging this maneuver.

Bill Gates needs to realize that he is regarded as a great innovator leader, not just to top of the worlds wealthiest list, but as someone who can guide and influence both business and philanthropic thinking.   Global warming issue is moving to the top of the list, top priority.  And those who do not watch carefully will be surprised.   It is not too late to speak up now.

When does an error become a blunder?   When does the wrong choice become folly?   Both Bill and Melinda Gates - at the very top of the philanthropic world - are running the risk of plunging to the bottom. 

How much influence do contributors have in fund disbursements?
How would an open source foundation work?
How would a Google “Do no evil” run a foundation that works differently?
How would a foundation work that strictly followed the science of climate change?
   Or how would it work to follow an actuarial list of risks to human health.

The Foundation has to decide what they are doing: protecting wealth short term, or long term protection to humans.  It is time to grow up, get responsible and ask global industry to wake up and change. 

It appears they are an investment organization that gives away 7% of its funds as grants.  I would want the greatest philanthropic organization in the world to change the world in smart ways and use the strength of its endowment to invest in change as well as derive the resources to do its good work.

It is a real-world lip service to fund a malaria cure, while encouraging, enabling and enhancing flooding and warming.  It is the height of cynical action to improve the plight of the poor, but invest in Shell, Exxon and BP - companies that heavily pollute the communities they work in and contribute tons of CO2 emission into the air.  This is a time when we need to develop and deploy carbon-free energy systems. 

They are one of the big institutions that can do much save civilization.  In a perfect world, I would not publicly criticize as it is impolite.  I would work from within, and wait and perhaps whisper with my donation, and praise any positive work in that direction.  But I fear world climate is changing faster than foundation bureaucracy can move to face it.   Perhaps words from blogs and growing public opinion might move them in that direction.

We can buy time through conservation, carbon free energy usage or geo-engineering.   The first step in mitigation and adaptation is to secure the politics and then push for global unification to meet this overaching multi-nation effort.  

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing the right thing, helping to alleviate suffering, but possibly doing it for the wrong reason, hiding truth, protecting profit over people, unintentionally promoting heavy carbon emission.   As climate change marches forward, they risk losing all respect and credibility as they stand increasingly alone in denial or ignorance.  Soon to be up to their ankles in rising waters of change. 

The world will be looking for guidance and heros and help.   What an opportunity.

Richard Pauli
February 2009

Full disclosure - I now live in Seattle, for 7 years I worked at Microsoft, and later was part of the permatemp lawsuit against Microsoft.  Other than helping Microsoft generate massive profit, I have no dealings with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I would be happy to post a response from the Gates Foundation either as a comment or a fully formatted guest blog entry.

Gates Foundation policy on Global warming

The Ultimatum Game in the Garden of Eden

… behavioral economics, game theory, and neuroscience have confirmed that human behavior is … “irrational” … the standard economic approach to climate change policy, with its almost exclusive emphasis on rational responses to monetary incentives, is seriously flawed. In fact, monetary incentives may actually be counter-productive.”
— John M. Gowdy

So completely settled is the science of global warming that arguments among climatologists are now mostly about the “when?” and the “how bad?”     DawnCityCrspp.jpg
No one wants the climate to destabilize, few want to hear much more about global warming, and damn few want to make the necessary changes to face the problem.   It’s necessary to move beyond the hard sciences if our goal is to discover how to best mitigate and adapt.   We must engage other disciplines in our effort.

Even though reacting to climate change requires a colossal and unified crusade, there is no assurance - neither scientific, nor human - that we will prevail.   We may all agree that we must survive, but the hard science says survival could go either way.   The most active variable in the equation is the human one.   Now, more than any other time, our future depends on controlling our output of greenhouse gases.

To build the necessary world-wide campaign we must expand our studies to include political science, public policy, law, marketing, persuasion, and other soft sciences.   In order to build, sustain and enforce cooperative efforts, both the leaders and participants in this campaign need a prerequisite understanding of human psychology, economics, game theory, and behavioral psychology.

Ultimatum2.jpg The fields of behavioral economics and behavioral finance attempt to integrate psychology with economic theory.   Researchers use a range of observations and surveys, but may draw upon one deceptively simple experiment to measure the satisfaction, trust and the fairness of simple economic transactions.   It is called the Ultimatum Game.

The experiment goes like this:   With only two subjects, one receives a sum of money that both will agree on how to split.   One decides how much to give to the other - the other person may accept or reject the offer.   If accepted then both keep whatever money they hold.   However, if the other person rejects the offer - then by refusing - prevents both of them from getting any cash.   Game over; the test only is given once.

Results differ; many test subjects settle on a 50%-50% split.   Some accept a smaller percentage - but rarely less than 20%.   Interestingly, the data for Western subjects measures slightly more - 30-40%… suggesting a greater willingness to cut off all wealth gain until reaching a higher fairness level.   It is important to remember that recipients know the rules of the game, know the total cash amount in the game and know the consequence of their decision to accept or reject. 


When pondering ramifications, economists prefer to think of humans as rational actors who would logically choose the best deal in any situation.   Rational actions are easier to formulate and model.   However, an irrational choice - like rejecting all money and ending play with nothing tangible - is harder to understand.   Does the player have an irrational sense of fairness?   Or do players expect a certain level of shared suffering or shared reward?

Because the Ultimatum Game uses real money, it may connect with reality in ways that other games might not.   Depending on the weight of the irrational, players of the Ultimatum Game finish with cash or with nothing .   Every day in the real world, the owners and consumers of carbon based energy grow richer or poorer, stronger or weaker, healthier or ill, depending on their energy transactions.   It may be fueling transportation, heating homes, or providing electricity for manufacturing.   Slowly, as these consumers begin to understand that all fossil fuels increase CO2 and contribute to global warming, this means their daily energy transactions get a new variable to consider.   The rational benefit of energy begins to take on the taint of the irrational burden of knowing this is causing real damage.

Our civilization is in the midst of a real-world experimental play of the Ultimatum Game.   One player redistributes great carbon energy wealth pulled from the earth, and the other player receives the benefit of that offer.   Our incredibly cheap energy from coal, oil, and natural gas combustion all release CO2 into the atmosphere.   CO2 reacts slowly, but directly contributes to greenhouse heating in the atmosphere.   The effects of CO2, not obvious at first, is very real - it slowly traps heat, warms the atmosphere globally which destabilizes climate.   We are killing ourselves.  We can no longer exclude this fact from considered commercial transactions

Behavioral economists have another test - a related game called the Dictator game.  Here the player with cash keeps as much as they wish - whether or not an offer to share is accepted.   Predictably, dictators offer far less money to the other player, keeping a larger share of the cash.   With no real choice, the recipient player most always accepts unequal money in any amount.

In the marketplace of energy, the ultimatum and the dictator analogies apply because in our civilization game, energy is a vital element required of both commerce and survival.   The recipient player can assume both attitudes - the player demanding a fair share - at other times the player accepting whatever is offered.

Typically, fossil fuel commerce might include a privileged holder of energy wealth, sharing or selling to a less privileged player.   The less privileged ones may accept a dictated market price, favorably received until the deal changes unacceptably, the player refuses and it the becomes an ultimatum game.   Perhaps the privileged one goes too far in crossing some personally defined line.   Maybe the player senses a deceit, some manipulation, denial, an ethical transgression or other irrational motive.   Now, with new information, players must include future ramifications of any energy deal.

Both the Ultimatum and the Dictator games seem to fit into scenarios of the market play of Big Coal and Big Oil in our economy.   Carbon fuel industries - with a monopolistic lock on the market - will sell energy and heavily promote full consumption of all they can deliver.

50 Years Before the Turn

"There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting" - George Carlin

There is climate change ahead, no matter what we hear, or what we say.

Skepticism and denialism delay the perception of the climate problem, not the actual events.  Words have no direct effect.  When it comes to actually attacking the problem,  political speeches, songs, votes, wailing, advertisements, or teeth gnashing all - do nothing to delay the inevitable unfolding of climate destabilization.   Change requires physical effort.

bridgefogs.jpgWe have the science; we lack the political will.  Politics and Science are the oil and water that will never mix.  Scientists - thousands of them - study and model and track data on the rate of climate change.  There is solid data, clear causes and clear solutions.

Political stances, economic allegiances, or even skepticism mean absolutely nothing -and will not affect greenhouse gasses and climate change at all.  Political will is totally subservient to physical sciences.  You cannot repeal the law of gravity - same with climatology laws.  It is a pity that politics refuses to accept science in this matter.

Carefully modeled and predicted climate destabilization events are happening sooner than predicted.  The increase to the rate of change means calendar predictions are no longer possible.  The Arctic has turned from ice to open water - yet the summer prediction was supposed to be not until 2040, and up until very recently, the totally ice free scenario was scheduled for the turn of the century.  Expect it very soon. 

Now the Northwest passage is open, and permafrost is melting and Greenland and the Antarctic are losing mass.  The latest predictions on sea level change exceeds both time and height of previous predictions. The venerable UN IPCC report, only a few years old, is still valuable, but outdated.

The essence of the human conundrum is that when and if we decide to wrangle concrete, direct change, it may be too late.   Only actual physical interaction works - and it works slowly and very slightly.

Since our planet is so large, the oceans so deep, the skies so vast - the physics of applying change to the climate works very slowly.  Any human stimulus designed to cause a change - whether good change or bad - will have a long wait before it is seen. The lag is huge.  It is as if we are steering a boat in which we must apply rudder 50 years before the turn.  Or we can turn off the engine, but it will be 500 miles more before we slow to a stop. 

Since we have never seen or done such a grand effort before, few of us believe it, and few want to spend effort to turn the wheel. And no one wants to turn off the engine, especially if our efforts will not bear fruit in our life times.

Quite a pickle here.  In the words of an unnamed, distinguished, scholarly, award-winning biology professor: "We're fucked"

Update:  Climate scientists: it's time for 'Plan B'  Poll of international experts by The Independent reveals consensus that CO2 cuts have failed - and their growing support for technological intervention. 

The Bliss of Denial

The bliss of our Daybreak world has been so pleasant that no one dares to disrupt it.  What could possibly intrude?

Sic transit gloria mundi  
"Thus passes the glory of the world"

This 1922 print by Maxfield Parrish captured the essence of Western American Romanticism. 
Who would want to disturb this perfect moment?  We are in a dream state, and we do not want to be awakened - certainly not by the bad news that our perfect world is in danger.

As this painting worked to draw in so many, what painting could awaken us?.


That would be my Indian name.   Argues-with-Idiots. 

I am tilting at the windmill of human denial about the danger of global warming.   

                                                                   illustration from

And AGW is worse than ever. Even TIME magazine thinks we should wake up to the the dangerous misunderstanding of climate change.  This article ran just a few days before the election.

"... carbon emissions would need to be cut drastically from current
levels. Yet almost all of the subjects in Sterman's study failed to
realize that, assuming instead that you could stabilize carbon
concentration simply by capping carbon emissions at their current
level. That's not the case -- and in fact, pursuing such a plan for
the future would virtually guarantee that global warming could spin
out of control. It may seem to many like good common sense to
wait until we see proof of the serious damage global warming is
doing before we take action. But it's not -- we can't "wait and see"
on global warming because the climate has a momentum all its
own, and if we wait for decades to finally act to reduce carbon
emissions, it could well be too late. Yet this simply isn't
understood. Someone as smart as Bill Gates doesn't seem to get it.
"Fortunately climate change, although it's a huge challenge, it's a
challenge that happens over a long period of time," he said at a
forum in Beijing last year. "You know, we have time to work on it."
But the truth is we don't. "

I think I am gradually growing to accept this human deficiency - we are unable to see, unwilling to act on far off dangers - no matter how certain.  The future of global warming becomes clearer... and the ONLY global survival solution requires a total unified human effort - with 100% support.. which is, of course, impossible.  The differing opinions and different thoughts and actions - quintessentially human - is a trait that best preserves our species by having sizeable factions in disputed survival judgements and errant thinkers taking different actions.    So whole populations with one trait may thrive, while those with another trait will fail.  It seems like a nice way to design a species: to allow groupings with individual differences to best adapt to a changing future.  This assures that random changes may still act to allow the species to change. 

hotsuns.jpgWe are not ants.  But in this case it may bite us back, for the errant few with denialist tunnel vision are working to constrain any unified effort to change.  And that spells doom. 

They may no longer deny, they may only want to delay. That delay will kill us, the delay means tipping points are passed and runaway global warming cannot be stopped, no matter how strong the human will and effort.   And a destabilized climate will continue to wreak havoc, and the predicted increase in temperature (11 degrees C ) can extinguish most animal life at sea level.   With less heat increase, perhaps better survival.

First comes the decimation of our species -  it will take a few decades, disease, drought, storm floods and the attendant wars and violent struggles to survive - met with violent defense.  Eventually the chaos will wean out the weak and the unwilling and the remaining population will have full commitment to survive - but almost no capability to affect global cascading events.  Then in a hot and changing age the struggle will be to survive amidst dwinding resources and scarce living places - perhaps limited to mountainous areas near the poles.   Pretty grim future.  Even though that struggle may be a few generations out - it may be good that people don't realize this just now.  How does one tell a young person about this?

And so I am not going to argue with idiots anymore because the ship is now hitting the iceberg and no change of direction can prevent it.  Now the discussion is about how to best deploy the lifeboats and figure out how best to slow the sinking. Bush was the captain that crashed the boat, Obama is the new captain.  So this is a change of attitude.   The science and the projections remain the same.   I realize this is dystopic - but it is not implausible, and it conforms to IPCC climate predictions.


Cross posted to

"Humankind cannot bear very much reality"

...said T.S. Eliot

Let's call denialism a form of delusion. 

It is a self-protecting and understandable psychological reaction to the overwhelming stress of perceiving very bad, possibly bleak information.   Information describing threats to our lives and future.

The human political reaction to climate destabilization must be swift and certainly will be painful.  And no matter how much we sacrifice, we can only mitigate and adapt to warming - not fix it.
This is a horrible conclusion.  No one wants this.  We all prefer that it go away, we all want to put it out of mind.  And we all have some degrees of denial - no one can absorb the stark truth and constantly hold it in our minds. The inevitable climate destabilization should be at the front of our thinking and should influence every decision in our day.  It does not.  Each of us is imperfect.

Some of us will always have tunnel vision preventing us from seeing the looming danger ahead.

We shoulder the added challenge to be polite and tolerant to those denialists while continuing to attack the problem.  We should also be ruthless toward any professional PR denialist  funded by carbon fuel industries.

Professional Denial or Benign Dismissal

I can forgive those who deny climate change.  It is horrible to look directly into the face of an ugly future.  To survive, thrive and keep our social structure requires lots of privation and work.  And we may be unable to summon the willpower necessary.   Humans may really not want to do all that work and sacrifice - and so may choose to ignore it.  In this case, a typical reaction is not to deny facts, but rather to ignore them.  

"Yes, yes, looming global climate instability - So?"

Not fighting to stay ignorant, just passively giving up.

This is the opposite side of the spectrum from denial - because here we actually accept and know that AGW is real, and that there a globally serious challenges.  This is way over on the other side - the side that just wants to ignore the bad news.  Like an ostrich putting its head in the sand.  Dismissing danger.  

I have met them - usually they appear to be very happy, doing what they want. And they accept even the most dire predictions - but they refuse to be bothered.  There is very little written by these folks...after all, why bother?   And they don't do blogs.  

These are people I meet face-to-face.  I have no new information for them, since they are relatively current and completely accepting of the science.

This may be the classic "out of sight - out-of-mind" attitude.  And these people are almost as difficult as denialists.  The only difference is there is no obstruction and they demand little.  But this attitude is no beneficial value to our future.  This problem requires full engagement by the entire population. 

Two groups are missing: the professional denialist on one side and the benignly dismissive on the other.


Skepticism is not Denial - FAQ

Skepticism is a necessary component of the scientific process. 

Denial is a required task of the carbon fuel industry's PR campaign.  

A skeptic can be informed, a denialist is rigidly dogmatic.

Grist offers an excellent lesson in How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic.   They list about 250 common questions with a succinct answer for each.

Un-Deniable Summary Statements 2008

I am grateful to a dear acquaintance who requested a brief update on global warming. She wanted a current problem summary.   I rise to the task and offer this one page overview.   The following is a distillation of a year spent reading, studying and ranting. Statements footnoted with links.

Most all scientists will agree that:

1. Global warming is real; is made much worse by human civilization; and is accelerating.

Weather channel has the message

2. We can no longer fix it.  We can only adapt, mitigate and suffer the consequences.

Adaptation: Wikipedia
Public Health perspective

3. We have begun to act.  But over the next few decades - if we do little or nothing - humans will go the way of the dinosaurs.

Given Continued Inaction, Climate Future of Hellish Wildfires
Melting of methane ice triggered long-ago warming surge: study
Beyond the Point of No Return

4. Actions taken now require 30 to 50 years for effects to begin — and thousands of years to completely revert to a healthy atmosphere.

How long will global warming last?
EPA U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports

5. Model scenarios do not exclude a prediction of horrible calamity.   We do not know the time-line for anticipated changes.   Farther out in time is much harder to predict.—
Keep in mind these are pretty optimistic scenarios
How Bad? and When? Graph view:
Special Report on Emissions Scenarios
The costs of inaction

6. Climate change is dangerous because of “tipping points” - an important concept to know - where one event triggers another.  Like connected, amplified teeter-totters.   Science has a hard time with tipping points, because they lead to greater complexity and runaway impacts

Tipping points discussed
NASA says we are close
Permafrost tipping point

7. Currently, scientists are disturbed to note the rate of change is picking up.—
Research shows rapid changes in the past
Oceans warmed 50% faster over the last 40 years to climate change

8. For decades the fossil fuel industry has funded huge PR campaigns to discount the science and restrict legislative reactions that would stifle their business.   These have been very effective.   The Executive branch has actively suppressed government studies on global warming.  Seemingly intelligent people will often deny brutal truths.

Naomi Oreskes video lecture about the organized campaigns to create public doubt and confusion about science.
Dr James Hansen testimony before Congress
Article:;jsessionid=anjGFkx1cf95IxGn6P?article=the_manufacture_of_uncertainty - “The Manufacture of Uncertainty - How American industries have purchased “scientists” to undermine scientific verities when those verities threaten their profits.”
Scientists are far more concerned than is reflected by public opinion; they have very little voice in this issue, business has much.
Exxon still funds denialist groups
Read the original Exxon memo
Systematic suppression of science - George Monbiot
“…the problem is not that people aren’t hearing about climate change, but that they don’t want to know. The professional classes have the most freedom to lose and the least to gain from an attempt to restrain it.  Those who are most responsible for carbon pollution are - being insulated by their money - the least likely to suffer its effects. “
…we all have our self-justifying myths.  We tell ourselves a story of our lives in which we almost always appear as the heroes. These myths prevent us from engaging with climate change…
…The most powerful story of all, endlessly narrated by the hired hands of the fossil fuel industry, just as it was once told by the sugar slavers, is that we are both all-important and utterly insignificant.  We are too important to be denied any of the delights we crave, but too insignificant to exert any impact on planetary processes.  We fill the whole frame of the story when it suits us and shrink to a dot when that scale is more convenient. We are capable of occupying both niches simultaneously…
…It is not just because (the movie) The Great Global Warming Swindle is at odds with the entire body of scientific knowledge on this subject that I have bothered to contest it. It is also because it is consonant with the entire body of human self-deception. We want to be misled, we crave it; and we will bend our minds into whatever shape they need to take in order not to face our brutal truths.   - George Monbiot 7-22-08

9. Europe and other nations seem to better understand the problem than the US.  Most humans will not really get it until they feel the sea level rise and experience more storms, floods, heat waves, bio changes, crop losses, etc.

10. Dramatic and painful climate problems happening sooner will better work to stimulate change.   Any changes made now are more effective than the same change enacted in the future.   The longer we wait, the harder it gets. (8 years have been wasted)

Tracking Extreme Weather Events
Austrialia heat waves by 2010


11. Most adults alive today will see more and increasingly intense global warming problems; Children growing into a very unpredictable world will need all the preparation we can give them.  Philosophically: we should learn the dangers, still enjoy life, educate the kids, and push change as fast as we can.   No engagement is more important.

Specific solutions
Spirituality and Hope
Spend 1% to halve greenhouse gas by 2050:
Vatican calls it a sin
Babtists on climate change

To stay fairly current, a minimal information task is to subscribe to an email newsletter like Grist’s

For background see the movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ - remembering that the science in that movie is now about 5 years old.

Prepared by Richard Pauli July 2008

Scientific Complexity, Not Uncertainty


Global warming issues are moving into litigation - and before they move into the courts, the backroom battles and law school squabbles are yielding legal opinions just as fierce as public opinion.   The Berkeley-based Ecology Law Quarterly published a paper declaring these global warming nuisance cases as hopeless to win in the courts.   This opinion is authored by lawyers representing the automobile industry. I admit that I had trouble following all the legal language - because right off the bat I got stuck and fired up about one simple phrase: scientific complexity.  To me this is denialist language designed to dismiss this crucially important area of litigation.

So I sent the following to:

To the Editor, and to the authors,

I must take serious issue with one simple phrase in the foundation arguments of your important paper on Global Warming Tort Litigation  Volume 35 Number 2  of Ecology Law Currents.

“Whatever one thinks about global warming and its causes, it cannot be denied that it is an issue of public and foreign policy fraught with scientific complexity, as well as profound political, social, and economic consequences.”

Who let you get away with that statement?  This most certainly is NOT fraught with scientific complexity. 

Any high school chemistry student or first year student in physics can have a confident understanding of the science of anthropogenic global warming.  A quick review of vetted and accepted science can impart an understanding sufficient to reach fundamental conclusions.

And certainly any dedicated citizen can understand the essentials.  I am sure that effort by a second-chair legal team could yield a full understanding sufficient to sway a jury.  One can find more scientific complexity in IP and contract law - especially involving subjects like nuclear energy, military contracts, aeronautics, the chemical industry, and issues in the computer and biopharmaceutical industries.   By comparison, anthropogenic global warming appears straightforward and easily comprehensible.

I am astounded that any lawyer would fall into such a trap.   I will resist thinking that your representation of automobile makers (GM) in any way clouds your objectivity in writing this paper.

One point of the Kivalina nuisance suit is to clearly describe the multi-decade and well-funded effort to influence public opinion.  The goals of this campaign are to deny anthropogenic global warming, to delay any public policy reaction, and promote fear of the science by encouraging skepticism and doubt.   These PR tactics are directly borrowed from, and implemented by the same PR firms that well served the tobacco industry in the “we can’t be sure cigarettes cause cancer” campaigns that extended that industry market for decades.   This organized dilatory denialism is well documented from original sources ranging from Exxon-Mobil, to university studies, to formal studies of media influence, to sources mentioned in the Kivalina suit.

The science is significantly less complex than you would expect - or perhaps want. It seems that the “scientific complexity” issue is a central foundation to your entire argument.   And with well-established scientific certainty much of your argument crumbles.  I am further dismayed that any attorney worth his or her billables would shrug at the prospect of both public-interest litigation and deep pockets, claiming that the underlying issue is just “too hard” to understand.   Were that true, there would never be a successful insider trading suit. It is also the kind of excuse we do not accept when our pre-teens complain about difficulties with Algebra homework.

I can refer you to many sources for assistance with the science - any university can help. Here in Seattle, the University of Washington has a Department of Atmospheric Sciences.   Also you might try the web sites of Scientific American, Union of Concerned Scientists, NOAA, and other US government sites.  Most have excellent presentations.   Perhaps the most current and respected site is which is fully dedicated to anthropogenic global warming discussions between the scientist and the layperson.

Presuming you know how to vet proper and acceptable information sources, I estimate that a few hours of study is enough to garner a fundamental scientific understanding of global warming science.

Finally, even though the science behind anthropogenic global warming remains solid, measurements on the rates of change in these processes is constantly scrutinized - and the rate of change is increasing.   What science measures is uncomfortable to see, and points to a future that is unsettling to ponder.  I ask you to note that most all your case law precedent comes from an age of relatively pleasant climate stability. We are inexorably marching toward predicted global changes described by scientific modeling; including sea level rise, desertification, fresh water problems, heat waves, drought, flooding, species extinction, increased opportunistic diseases, climate refugees, and weather anomalies that will be both stronger and more common.

In a too-near future, domestic and international law will be called upon to support social civility in increasingly stressful times.   The courts must have current, precise, and understandable scientific observations to engage with these issues.  Courts can and will understand the science necessary to properly adjudicate; it is up to the lawyers to find the right experts for the issues, and bring them forward.

Since there may be other legal points in the paper that could be challenged, I hope after an appropriate scientific review you can solicit another opinion.

Richard Pauli is a citizen troublemaker with no legal training - living in Seattle, Washington  He has been following global warming issues for the last few years, and blogs at

Fear and Danger // Anxiety and Alarm

| 1 Comment

I am hypervigilant.  Once it served me well, but now, nurtured by the study of human-caused-global-climate-destabilization, it just aggravates my blood.

We genuinely have much to fear.  Anxiety-a-plenty.   Clear dangers.

Once we validate an approaching threat, then fear and foreboding should move on to something else: decisive action, focused motion, or even stoic acceptance - but the decisive and dynamic is far more appropriate.  More human.

Think of the soldier facing an enemy threat with very real fears and anxiety - but with the attack and the battle engaged, ideally the well-trained professional soldier, and skilled warrior works so well in the frenzy of battle. 

Our globe hosts a biosystem of interconnected life; we are connected with - and influenced by - everything - including our own systemic stupidity. 

There is no guarantee that we will emerge victorious.  No guarantee of survival.

If there is true peril and we brandish confusion and fear, then we are defeated.  

If we stand before the precipice and we have only anxiety, then we fall to our doom.

Feel anxiety but heed the alarm; taste fear but react to danger; observe change but fight for control.

Mischief, Crime or just Business ?

To purposefully deny climate change amounts to hiding a looming danger.

The Charles Addams cartoon says it all.  We are in the family station wagon, on a blind curve, and someone in front tells us every thing is OK. 

Uncle Festor is adorable, but only because he does not harm us directly.   What do we think of someone who invites us to step into danger?   This is beyond danger denial, this is exhorting us to crash into the oncoming car of climate destabilization.

And I am afraid it is business motivated, takes a disposition of mischief, and should be a crime. 


Denialism vs Alarmism

When Discussing the Either/Or of human caused Climate Destabilization, I land on the anxious side. I have been labeled a hypervigilant, alarmist, Jeremiah, Cassandra and my favorite: a doomster. After following climate destabilization science and related issues for years, I noticed a recent change in language: time to drop "global warming" - scientists think that is too warm and fuzzy - better terms might be climate destabilization or disruption or instability. And don't forget the adjective 'anthropogenic' or human caused.

Alarmist speech should be like a loud bell, the fire alarm and the emergency broadcast. An alarm is a very clear call for action. And unlike classical communications, the receiver of the alarm may not be listening, care to listen or even know the sender. It is a communications channel aimed at anyone who hears the call. No discrimination. Not sure whether one can actually be a calm alarmist? But the anxiety and panic are certainly the wrong response. Scientists seem to be knowing and strident.

Because the science is all there. How should the alarmist message get delivered? Imaging your TV Climate/Weather Man coming on local news with a 5 decade forecast.

"Well Janet, look for partly messy Disruptions to continue for this decade, with Violent Change and sea level rises the next decade, and beyond that serious storms, but we have a hard time predicting that far ahead.- but stay tuned because we will update the forecast tonite at 11. Back to you Janet."

I once interviewed a climate scientist — actually he is my neighbor and he was just walking his dog. He's a retired professor of climate science at the University of Washington, and he summed up what his climate colleagues are saying, "We have done the science, we've told you what is coming, your turn, time for the world to mobilize"
Clearly meaning that there is no dispute - among scientists - about whether and how bad… the only discussions left are about new tipping points and when they will be uncovered.

Just what's holding up that unified effort? Confusion, doubt, and momentum. Most all of it is purposefully cultivated. Thousands of scientists and millions of citizens know this problem and can point to solutions. What's the big hold up? Cultivated doubt by denialists - whose early campaign was to cast doubt into whether global climate change was real. Now that change is becoming the huge elephant in the room, the recent shift is to denying that we can do anything about it.

So the latest denial skirmish is over the "human caused" climate instability. The carbon fuel industries nurture the false challenge that there is not a human cause. "We are just not sure" Until we know, we need to keep burning coal. "Well the science is not done, we don't know for sure" Those words come directly from the tobacco wars ""There is still doubt whether tobacco really causes cancer". And the same PR agency has moved to the carbon fuel industry message - to influence policy, plug up legislation, support PR, fund psuedo-science, pander to the media, etc.

I cannot avoid a horrible prognosis: an inevitable crucible of climate chaos will decimate our population. If there are any long term survivors it will be the ruthless and the clever. Among the abandoned and passed over will be the geographically unfortunate, the poor, ill, old, weak, the usual. Whether this is 100 or 200 years hence, this is happening today.