January 6, 2013

Climate-change consensus and a call to 'photovoltaic' arms

What is the answer? 

So what is the question?

It is hard to formulate a response to either when the body politic does not allow, or encourage, any dialogue on the issue of climate change. But “nature” is speaking to us loud and clear: Consider the tens of thousands of high temperature records and extreme weather events experienced in the past several years.

Science is also speaking clearly, although perhaps not as loudly as it should. But as the diagram below indicates, there is no debate among scientists in the peer-reviewed literature about what is happening to Earth’s climate system.

Dr. Powell (Figure 1) used the Web of Science, an online science publication tool, to check publications starting Jan. 1, 1991, through Nov. 9, 2012, in the peer-reviewed literature, the gold standard of science.

Of the almost 14,000 research papers on “global warming” or “global climate change,” only 24 could be found that reject global warming (Science Progress Nov.15, 2012.) This minority view is less than 0.2 percent of the total.

Not much of a dispute among scientists who publish in the field.

Meanwhile in the United States, it is pretty much business as usual: Burn lots of fossil fuels to generate the energy needed by our civilization today.

The following graph through 2011 shows that the large portion of energy we generate comes mostly from “fossil fuels,” with smaller amounts from “renewables” and “nuclear.” The energy units used here on the left scale are in “quads (1015 BTU)”, a very large number indeed.

That “renewables” registers at all on this graph is mostly a result of individual, local and state efforts to develop and install renewable energy.

On the national scene, we are beginning to see some modest progress. What has been accomplished still represents a small percentage of our energy requirements, however, and lots more needs to be done.

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