February 3, 2007

Talking to my red brother

Sigh. I called my brother tonight. A little background: he's a Baptist preacher (this is my fault - a confession for a later time) and he lives in rural Oklahoma. Firmly Republican. During our conversation tonight we got to talking about the weather. Gosh, that seemed harmless enough. I talked about our recent cold weather and he talked about ice snapping branches and being without power and then he heads into the old "Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth" snark. I said my bit about the melting polar ice caps and the drowning polar bears, and eventually we moved on to other things. But I couldn't shake it and so penned this email to him. Will let you know what he has to say.

Hey big brother, it was good talking to you tonight. Hope you all enjoyed the movie.

Got a question for you based on something you said tonight because I noted some snarkiness in your voice when you mentioned his name.

Here’s my question: Have you even SEEN “An Inconvenient Truth”? If not, I highly recommend it. Put aside that the messenger is Al Gore for a moment (if you can - I realize that you are a Bush Republican), and realize that Al Gore didn’t come up with this idea of global warming on his own, and that he has been studying the environment for over thirty years. The movie is quite good and quite the eye opener.

Global warming doesn’t mean it gets consistently warm all over, it means if the overall average temperature of the earth continues to rise, that things like ocean currents that control our global climate change, that the polar ice caps start to melt (you do know that the “permafrost” is turning into a bog don’t you?). As a result you get weird weather, rising ocean levels, melting ice caps and ice sheets. It’s not the ice that’s already floating on the ocean that’s the problem; it’s the ice that is sitting atop land masses (like Greenland) that will be the issue. Ocean levels will rise as the water that was held in the ice sheets above sea level melt and pour into the sea. And it’s not just the melting of the ice caps, it will be the wholesale shift of temperate zones, farming will be disrupted as warmer climes creep northward.

Just today
this study was released. From the AP article:

"It's later than we think," said panel co-chair Susan Solomon, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist who helped push through the document's strong language.

Solomon, who remains optimistic about the future, said it's close to too late to alter the future for her children — but maybe it's not too late for her grandchildren.
The report was the first of four to be released this year by the panel, which was created by the United Nations in 1988. It found:
  • Global warming is "very likely" caused by man, meaning more than 90 percent certain. That's the strongest expression of certainty to date from the panel.
  • If nothing is done to change current emissions patterns of greenhouse gases, global temperature could increase as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
  • But if the world does get greenhouse gas emissions under control — something scientists say they hope can be done — the best estimate is about 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sea levels are projected to rise 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century. Add another 4 to 8 inches if recent, surprising melting of polar ice sheets continues.
Heck, even Rick Warren and other evangelicals are getting on board and have issued a statement to that effect. From the preamble of Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action:
…Over the last several years many of us have engaged in study, reflection, and prayer related to the issue of climate change (often called "global warming"). For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority. Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough to offer the following moral argument related to the matter of human-induced climate change. We commend the four simple but urgent claims offered in this document to all who will listen, beginning with our brothers and sisters in the Christian community, and urge all to take the appropriate actions that follow from them.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen the movie, I would be happy to buy the DVD for you, if you promise to watch it. I am positive that it is not what you think. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.

With love...

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