Climate: Time's Up

We will always have "10 years" to solve climate crisis

Why Al Gore won't admit the time for easy mitigation is long past
Time used as a weapon to keep the concerned quiescent

"it’s probably too late for pro-active measures on climate change now anyhow. A thorough collapse of the US economy, with people no longer able to afford cars and gas to drive them, might do more to slow the global heating cycle than any measures that a Democratic Congress and administration might pass."
-- Dave Lindorff, Why Not Let the Republicans Deal with This Mess?, August 23 / 4, 2008

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance of our neglect. "The moving finger write, and having writ moves on ..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967

"If we talk about climate change in a way that makes it appear that there’s nothing we can do anymore about it, that it’s too late, that it’s happening, it’s going to be devastating on a global scale, without giving people the option and making the solutions clear to act, then I think we’re going to turn people off. So it’s part of some research and a long-running project that we’re engaged with to try to find ways of simulating climate-friendly behavior amongst the public."
September 14, 2007
“Climate Porn”–Simon Retallack on the Dangers of Using Alarmist Language to Talk About Climate Change

[In reality, it is late, and it is happening - but we need to understand the political and psychological reasons why decades of warnings were ignored if there is a possibility to mitigate the damage that lies in front of us.]


related pages:


from the advertising for the film "An Inconvenient Truth"

Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced. (2006)


"It took us 15 years to see what we have done to the atmosphere. We cannot afford to wait another 15 years to clean it up."
-- Senator Al Gore, February 1989, foreword to Sharon L. Roan, "Ozone Crisis: The 15 Year Evolution of a Sudden Global Emergency," John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1989


A Gorey Timeline


"The most likely way the climate could be influenced by either natural or artificial means seems to be through a trigger mechanism that ultimately changes the radiation balance .... Still another possibility would be a change in the relative proportion of atmospheric gases ... the burning of fossil fuels would presumably lead to more absorption of long-wave terrestrial radiation in the atmosphere and consequently to greater heating."
-- Abraham Oort, "The Energy Cycle of the Earth," Scientific American, September 1970

1973: Nobel Prize awarded to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for allegedly stopping the War on Viet Nam. Le Duc Tho declined to accept the prize since the war was still underway.

1979: Representative Al Gore votes to exempt the Snail Darter from the Endangered Species Act (a law signed by President Nixon) to get the Tellico Dam built in Tennessee.

1988: Senator Gore holds Congressional hearings on global warming with NASA scientist James Hansen

1988: Corporate funded environmental groups (NRDC, EDF) agree with Bush administration to deregulate certain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and rename them HCFCs not covered by restriction on ozone layer destroying substances.

1989: Senator Gore writes

"It took us 15 years to see what we have done to the atmosphere. We cannot afford to wait another 15 years to clean it up."
-- foreword to Sharon L. Roan, "Ozone Crisis: The 15 Year Evolution of a Sudden Global Emergency," John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1989

1990: United Nations Environmental Program warns we have a decade to address the environmental crisis. Smithsonian Institution's Thomas Lovejoy, Jacques Cousteau make similar warnings.

Last November, Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau warned that we have only one decade left in which to radically alter industrial society before the damage to the air and oceans from pollution and climate change becomes irreversible. In 1990, Mostafa K. Tolba, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, also warned that humanity had only ten years left to effect fundamental economic and life-style changes to avert an unparalleled global catastrophe.
-- Earth Island Journal, Winter 1992, p. 2

Most of the great environmental struggles will be either won or lost in the 1990s and … by the next century it will be too late.
-- Thomas E. Lovejoy, Smithsonian Institution
cited in “Real Goods Alternative Energy Sourcebook,” Seventh Edition: February 1993, Real Goods Trading Corporation, p. 5
from 1991

Ram Dass: When I think about where the culture is, what's feeding the continuity of the culture we're in that denies this reality, the whole urban power of the intellect kind of preoccupation--will it take incredible crisis to awaken that consciousness or can you see it seeping in from the edges?
John Seed: I think the problem with trauma is that at the moment things seem so precarious for the Earth that if the traumas that we've already had aren't sufficient, then I'm afraid that any trauma that would be sufficient would also be lethal. For instance, the Director General of the United Nations Environment Program, Dr. Mostafa Tolba, says in his introduction to World Conservation Strategy that at the current rate of destruction, "we face by the turn of this century an environmental catastrophe as complete and as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust."
And this is echoed by many scientists. So if this is true, that in the next ten years or so this will take place, it's hard to imagine any trauma sufficient to turn the huge inertia of this whole way of being around that wouldn't also just be a death blow to the planet. So then if not that, what can we hope for? And the only thing is something that I sort of feel ... It seems I have been evolving on this planet for four thousand million years. I've looked at the evidence, and it seems that as a creation myth this has advantages over an old man with a white beard creating everything six thousand years ago, or even a turtle with all of this growing on its back. The composition of my blood, and the relationship of that to the composition of sea water four hundred million years ago when we left the oceans, the whole growth of the human fetus with the vestigial tail and the gills, so, so many clues indicate that this is actually a true story of where we came from. And if that's the case, then I have been successful through all of that time. That whole road is littered with the bones of those who couldn't adapt, who couldn't adjust to the crisis of their time, whatever it was. But somehow I feel like we have this perfect pedigree, and that we must have some hidden resources that we're not aware of yet. And what could trigger us off so that we begin to identify with that larger body of ourselves rather than merely this tunnel vision that we have now, looking only at this very immediate time? So in the end nothing but a miracle would be of any use at this time. When you look at the rate of destruction, whether it's of the rainforest or the ozone layer, the climate, all of these things that are happening, and if you were to multiply all of the efforts of conservationists by a factor of ten or even a hundred, it wouldn't be enough. So there's nothing on the horizon that can help us, you know.
And so then you think well, what kind of a miracle would that be? Well, it would be a very simple one, really. All that it would need would be for human beings to wake up one day different than they were the day before and realizing that this is the end unless we make these changes, and then deciding to make the change. That doesn't seem like a very likely thing to happen, but on the other hand the whole road that we've traveled is so littered with miracles that it's only our strange kind of modern psyche that refuses to see it. I mean the miracle of being descended from a fish that chose to leave the water and walk on the land--well, anyone with a pedigree like that, you can't lose hope.


1992: Union of Concerned Scientists World Scientists' Warning to Humanity states "no more than one or a few more decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost."
Scientist Statement
World Scientists' Warning to Humanity (1992)

Some 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this appeal in November 1992. The World Scientists' Warning to Humanity was written and spearheaded by the late Henry Kendall, former chair of UCS's board of directors.

No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.

1992: Al Gore published "Earth in the Balance," which states "Modern industrial civilization, as presently organized, is colliding violently with our planet's ecological system. .... we must take bold and unequivocal action: we must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization."

1992: Al Gore elected Vice President, first promise after election is to block the opening of the Waste Technologies Industries (WTI) toxic waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio.

1993: Al Gore becomes Vice President, allows WTI incinerator to be turned on (March), promotes NAFTA Treaty.

1993 (November): Environmental groups picket White House, chant "Al Gore, Read Your Book" to protest Gore sell-out about WTI toxic waste incinerator

1994: Clinton / Gore administration declines to promote environmental agenda while Democrats control both houses of Congress. A bill to protect the largest private old growth redwood forest passes overwhelmingly in the House, but is blocked by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in the Senate. This bill would have protected all six old growth groves in the "Headwaters" forest, about 40,000 acres of second growth and clearcuts, and had money to hire unemployed loggers for reforestation and restoration.

1996: Before the election, Clinton / Gore made a deal with Charles Hurwitz, the corporate raider who owned Headwaters Forest (via his buy out of the Pacific Lumber Company). The Clinton/Gore Headwaters deal only protected two of the six old growth groves, a few thousand acres of buffer around the old forest, and no money for reforestation and restoration. Pacific Lumber was granted exemptions to environmental laws to destroy the rest of "their" forest.

Delaney Clause, a food safety law passed in 1958 by the Eisenhower administration, is overturned by Clinton / Gore. The Delaney Clause had prohibited adding carcinogens to food and had required that all new

1997: Vice President Al Gore attended Kyoto Treaty negotiations, refused to push the United States to enact requirements to reduce pollutants.

1998: Clinton / Gore opened up the Naval Petroleum Reserve on the Alaska North Slope to oil extraction (just west of Prudhoe Bay). Clinton/Gore passed the "TEA-21" transportation bill, the largest expansion of the interstate highway system since Eisenhower.

2000: Presidential candidate Al Gore declined to stress environmental concerns during Presidential campaign, challenged vote counting in Florida but declined to demand a statewide recount and disenfrachisement of African American voters.

2001: Vice President Al Gore tells Congressional Democrats not to challenge fraudulent "Electors" from Florida, endorses the Bush / Cheney coup d'etat.

2005: Department of Energy contracted "Hirsch Report" states industrial civilization would need two decades to be able to mitigate the impacts of Peak Oil. 2005 was the peak for "conventional" oil.

Hurricane Katrina causes severe flooding in New Orleans and massive destruction along the coastal areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. News footage of the damage and the callous non-response of the US federal government causes shock and outrage around the world. Katrina (and to a lesser extent the similarly powerful Hurricane Rita) catalyzes public awareness of the threat of climate change.

2006: Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" states "we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe" from climate change.

2007: Al Gore awarded Nobel Peace Prize

2008: Greenpeace forest campaigners say we still have "ten years" to address the climate issue.

note the quote from a Greenpeace spokesperson that we have to change this in 10 years.
Al Gore's movie two years ago said we have 10 years, so do we really have 8 years?
Gore said in 1989 (19 years ago) that we didn't have 15 years.

Rain forests fall at 'alarming' rate
By EDWARD HARRIS, Associated Press Writer Sat Feb 2, 3:49 PM ET

ABO EBAM, Nigeria - In the gloomy shade deep in Africa's rain forest, the noontime silence was pierced by the whine of a far-off chain saw. It was the sound of destruction, echoed from wood to wood, continent to continent, in the tropical belt that circles the globe.

From Brazil to central Africa to once-lush islands in Asia's archipelagos, human encroachment is shrinking the world's rain forests.

The alarm was sounded decades ago by environmentalists — and was little heeded. The picture, meanwhile, has changed: Africa is now a leader in destructiveness. The numbers have changed: U.N. specialists estimate 60 acres of tropical forest are felled worldwide every minute, up from 50 a generation back. And the fears have changed.

Experts still warn of extinction of animal and plant life, of the loss of forest peoples' livelihoods, of soil erosion and other damage. But scientists today worry urgently about something else: the fateful feedback link of trees and climate.

Global warming is expected to dry up and kill off vast tracts of rain forest, and dying forests will feed global warming.

"If we lose forests, we lose the fight against climate change," declared more than 300 scientists, conservation groups, religious leaders and others in an appeal for action at December's climate conference in Bali, Indonesia.

The burning or rotting of trees that comes with deforestation -- at the hands of ranchers, farmers, timbermen -- sends more heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all the world's planes, trains, trucks and automobiles. Forest destruction accounts for about 20 percent of manmade emissions, second only to burning of fossil fuels for electricity and heat. Conversely, healthy forests absorb carbon dioxide and store carbon.

"The stakes are so dire that if we don't start turning this around in the next 10 years, the extinction crisis and the climate crisis will begin to spiral out of control," said Roman Paul Czebiniak, a forest expert with Greenpeace International. "It's a very big deal."

The December U.N. session in Bali may have been a turning point, endorsing negotiations in which nations may fashion the first global financial plan for compensating developing countries for preserving their forests.
Flying High, Swooping Low
Assessing the Environmental Movement--at the Close of the "E Decade"
by Jim Motavalli
E Magazine, January/February 2000

"The 1990s were the decade of decision for our species, and we didn't take the steps necessary to ensure our survival."
-- Gar Smith, editor of Earth Island Journal

Many informed commentators, such as World Watch president Lester Brown and NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen have declared that the 1990s must be the decade when humanity seizes the initiative to reverse ecologically destructive practices and build an ecological society or the collapse of the biosphere becomes inevitable.
-- Jan Lundberg, "Ecostroika -- Restructuring American Society for Environmental Survival," Earth Island Journal, Spring 1990, p. 39

“The Smithsonian Institute recently informed us that one-third to one-half of all existing species will become extinct in the next few decades. The Earth, in plain terms, is dying. The battle over environmental issues is not about logging jobs versus hiking trails, as our captains of industry would have us believe. It is about the continued existence of life forms higher than the cockroach on the planet.
We are losing. .... those who seek to stop the brutal assault on our shared home are condemned as radicals by men whose self-proclaimed conservatism is really nothing more than a demand to be allowed to enrich themselves at any cost.
.... The dying classically progress through certain easily recognizable stages on their journey. Denial is first, followed by bargaining, anger, and finally, for those fortunate enough to reach it, peace and acceptance. We are, as a culture and a species, mostly in the denial stage, with a tentative reach into bargaining as we grudgingly accept the need to recycle a very few of the most convenient items we demand from our industries. Denial seldom solves anything, but it does allow an extended period of pretend well-being and good feelings. Our cultural denial is reinforced by an economy that is structured in such a way that survival can only be assured by growth. .... Anyone who says aloud that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible is ridiculed. Denial has become official policy.”-- Mark Davis, Earth First!

Clearly, the conservation battle is not one of merely protecting outdoor recreation opportunities, not a matter of elitist aesthetics, nor 'wise management and use' of natural resources. It is a battle for life itself, for the continued flow of evolution.
We--this generation of humans--are at our most important juncture since we came out of the trees six million years ago. It is our decision, ours today, whether Earth continues to be the marvelously living, diverse oasis in the blackness of space which it is now, or whether the charismatic megafauna of the future will consist of Norway rats and cockroaches.
-- Earth First!, Don't Just Sit There on Your Butt, Do Something!” 1992, p. 1