Bruce Anderson’s Sustainable Community Solutions blog

sustainableCS-sshot Bruce Anderson, Northfield
Bruce Anderson has been a blogger for a while, starting back in 2005 with RENew Northfield and for the past year on his Sustainable Community Solutions blog/web site. We’re now aggregating his RSS feed into our lower right sidebar.

Bruce is also a member of the Nonmotorized Transportation Task Force and the Energy Task Force for the City of Northfield.

32 thoughts on “Bruce Anderson’s Sustainable Community Solutions blog”

  1. nick,
    If you asked 100 different people who are interested in sustainability issues “what a “sustainable community” is, I imagine you would get 100 different answers. Though you might get 100 different answers from a theoretical group of 100 sustainability advocates concerning what a “sustainable community” is, I don’t think it’s a meaningless term. Here’s a working definition I use:

    “A sustainable community is one that provides opportunities for its citizens in ways that do not compromise opportunities for future generations.

    Sustainability is a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that
    * society, its members and its economies are able to meet their needs and
    express their greatest potential in the present
    * while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and
    * planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals in the very
    long term.”

    Many people (perhaps yourself included) think that sustainability is some kind of airy-fairy, hippy-dippy notion. I don’t. I think it’s all about leading a good, meaningful life now in a way that doesn’t diminish the ability of future generations to lead a good, meaningful life. I did a blog post entitled “What is a sustainable community?” on my web site January 12th, 2007. You can read it in full at http://www.sustainablecommunitysolutions.com/index.php/2007/01/12/what-is-a-sustainable-community/.

    I’d be interested in knowing what others think a “sustainable community” is. I know that some view “sustainability” or “sustainable” as a red flag, which I view as kinda puzzling.

  2. I never thought I would get sucked into one of these blogs, but here I go. I went to your link and looked at the PDF you have there. My biggest problem is the global warming fear. I do not believe it. I do not believe we are headed for disaster because we (humans) are destroying the Earth. That is not to say that I think polluting is ok. I like organic food (I’m glad Target sells it because I can afford it there). We should not dump toxic waste into our rivers and lakes etc….. So, the red flag, yes it raises a red flag for me. I am not attacking you here. I truly want to understand the thinking of sustainability, and now that I brought it up the logic behind global warming. Now that I have lit the fuse, I will watch the fireworks.

  3. A while back I blogged about sustainability, but my definition was more targeted at the economic side of sustainability, though I really want a balanced (economic and environmental) sustainability. Now that I find myself running for the Bridgewater township board, I hope these posts are read and understood by everyone, because apparently I have a bad rep. with respect to farming in the township (probably because of my concerns about feedlots).

  4. Tracy, you pointed to a science geek’s web site that makes a variant of “Pascal’s wager” to say that action is needed regardless of whether you believe in global climate change or what the cause is. Me, I just like to be able to enjoy clean air and water, so I am willing to (in effect) tax city dwellers (those locusts) to keep my country neighborhood clean and livable.

  5. nick (et al.),
    I don’t want to dive back into the “my experts are better than your experts” trap that Tracy references in post #7. However… on the issue of global warming: yes, it is true that one is able to find a relative handful of scientists who don’t agree that human activity is leading to global warming (which I prefer to refer to as global climate instability or global climate chaos, because I, and many climatologists, believe that there are many likely results of the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, not nice, uniform warming).

    However, essentially ALL of the world’s pertinent leading scientific organizations (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change for a full discussion) agree with the core findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including the statement that
    “An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system… There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”

    Now, if you don’t trust those pointy-headed scientists, nothing I can say will change your mind. However, it should be noted that the findings of the IPCC are generally regarded as quite conservative, and many leading climate change experts think they don’t go nearly far enough. In addition, while our recently-departed state senator (and now judge) Tom Neuville was a global warming skeptic, it is worth noting that the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, calling for 80% greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2050 among other strong elements, was introduced and strongly promoted by that flaming liberal Governor Tim Pawlenty, and passed overwhelmingly in both the Minnesota House and Senate.

    Addressing global climate instability (and the related issue of peak oil) must take place on ALL levels, from the individual to the international, and must be taken into account in any community that hopes to thrive and be “sustainable” over the long haul.

  6. Tracy – I did watch the video. Here is my video link: http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=10094626
    (I wish I knew how to embed video into this post, and link stuff) I have a problem with the “we should do something just in case”. If the global warming people followed that rational, then we should have gone into Iraq anyway, just to be sure. To me that also says “well your right, global warming isn’t caused by humans, but Hey! we should do something anyway” There has been a whole industry of “green” wrapped around the global warming scare. To have it be a scam would cost a lot of people money, control all these colleges kids would have no cause to fight for. It would be like finding out Jesse James was never in northfield. Wholly crap, then what…. we always have winter walk. I did not try to come off too abrasive, that is not my goal.

  7. “sustainability”

    I think I get what you’re saying. But, people have been doing this since….. there were people. To provide a better life for yourself and others, and building a better future for the generation to follow is what we are about. I don’t see the need to put some fancy term to what I would just call survival. Help me out some more please. I really mean it. I want to understand this stuff.

  8. Bruce – reducing greenhouse gas by 80% is silly. I’m sure you know that water vapor constitutes about 95% of Earth’s greenhouse gases. CO2 only makes up about 3.5% of all total greenhouse gases, of that 3.5 only 0.117% are man-made. So we need to reduce water vapor by 80% ? All of this stuff is what makes me say that I have problem with man-made global warming.

  9. Hi Nick,
    No one is talking about eliminating water vapor. It’s that other stuff we’re worrying about. Water vapor has been fairly constant. The climate has not – particularly recently.

    We have observational data showing that the rate of climate change over the last 100 years (and especially the last couple decades) has been out of proportion to anything we have seen in hundreds of millenia. We have experimental data that show that CO2 and the other gases you belittle can cause the retention of heat that we have observed. No other hypothesis has risen to the level of evidence which supports this model.

    The scientific community has spoken clearly, because the evidence is overwhelming that global warming is real, and that it is caused by greenhouse gases. Even George W. Bush has finally admitted it. Of the few “scientists” who still dissent, an awful lot of them have been paid to spread disinformation, much like the scientists who were paid to claim that tobacco doesn’t cause cancer.

  10. Nick, I’m taking your questions and objections at face value, because it doesn’t sound like you’re arguing just for its own sake. Here’s another angle:

    You can imagine global warming this way: all those pools of oil and beds of coal beneath our feet are being drilled and dug. . . For a brief moment, the resulting energy burns and does something useful: moves your car, heats your shower. But after that instant of combustion, most of the carbon in the coal or oil mixes with oxygen in the air to form the gas carbon dioxide, which drifts into the atmosphere. (A gallon of gasoline weighs about six pounds, and when you burn it you release about five pounds of carbon in the atmosphere.) It accumulates in the atmosphere, creating almost a mirror image of the reservoir you drilled it from in the first place. Which is a problem, because the molecular structure of carbon dioxide traps heat from the sun that would otherwise radiate back out to space. That’s all global warming is — the gaseous remains of oil fields and coal beds acting like an insulating blanket.

    – from Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, by Bill McKibben

    McKibben’s book, which is very interesting and is not about climate change, starts out with a chapter entitled “After Growth”, which touches on the environmental and climatic aspects of the “if some is good, more is better” approach to economic growth; he asserts that extending that philosophy almost to the point of absurdity is what’s happened in re the growth generated by cheap, abundant fossil fuel.

    But anyway, what I’ve heard from even the dissenting scientists indicates that yes, there is a human contribution (e.g. carbon emissions) that is altering the environment; where the debate seems to be focused is on exactly how much climate change can be attributed to these human contributions, and how serious or severe the results are likely to be.

    I think it just makes sense to attempt to take better care of managing our resources, regardless of hype, and small steps are better than no steps at all….

  11. Nick- Thanks for another voice on climate destablization. I was beginning to think that I was the only one questioning the sky is falling position. No one has brought up that the warmest period on record for the planet was during the middle ages. The mean temperature was higher than now. Of course, world exploration had not come into existence, so no one knows whether there was a mile thick ice cap on Greenland or if there were polar ice caps. I think we give ourselves too much credit for what we see happening. I believe the evidence of what we actually contribute to the atmosphere supports that position.

    Our sun has moved into a period of greatly reduced solar activity. During these periods, the Earth always warms up. Also, Mt. St. Helens belched more CO2 and particles into the atmosphere in that one event than mankind contributes in about a decade. We are seeing more volcanic activity world wide around the Pacific ring of fire. This has got to have an effect. The one thing I see man doing that has a very negative effect is burning off great chunks of the rainforest. The photosynthesis process takes gaseous carbon out of the atmosphere and returns it to solid form, releasing oxygen. This is one area that I believe change would really help.

    There is also a Biblical explanation for what we see happening, but I’m not sure anyone on this thread wants to hear about that, so I won’t trouble you with it. I believe all the observable evidence so far would support that theory, though.

    All this being said, I have no problem with recycling, cutting polution and changing our way of living to be better stewards of where we live. I just don’t put any stock into this bringing about any great changes in the atmospheric phenomina that we are seeing.

  12. John, I am tending to agreee with you. Human beings usually do have to have someone to blame. Oh, we mustn’t forget the brown cloud over India, caused by cooking food. No, we mustn’t forget that.

    During the last ten years, my health has been very poor and continues to be, so I have spent more time resting than researching. I would like to know what the bible says about it and petition you to be the messenger.
    If you want, email me at bright@beautywood.com or doug@beautywood.com

  13. Tracy- I agree we should take care of our resources and keep our environment clean. My Problem is this warming scare. I am reading over and over that CO2 is not causing the earth to warm up, publications such as “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” by A. B. Robinson, N. E. Robinson, and W. Soon, (2007) and “The Myth of Dangerous Human-Caused Climate Change” by R M Carter. ( I don’t mean to play the my expert is better game, I just want to show you that I did indeed read something) So, back to square one, we (humans) are not causing a problem. One might say that if we can’t agree, then we should take action just in case…. like the video you had posted. Ok, but wait. Just like there are consequences to not taking action (which again, i do not see the need to take action), there are also consequences to taking action.

    What does taking action mean? Reducing co2 emissions by 80% would hurt our economy (yes I am a capitalist). Production would fall and people would lose their jobs. Which is great for the socialists because then the government could come in and save the day. If we hurt , just imagine the developing countries around the world who are just getting their S%^& together. They need to utilize industry that emits co2, it cost way less and is more efficient than your windmills or solar panels. If we ration or limit production in the name of saving our planet from a scam, we are basically telling these third world counties that there is no hope. They will fall into famine, people will die, wars will start over resources, Satan will come from beneath the earth and …….. Sorry I got carried away, nix the Satan bit.

    well, these are some of my thoughts. I do enjoy this conversation though. I am learning a lot.

  14. Patrick –
    The climate has not been constant. Do you mean like back around 800-1300 A.d. during the Medieval Climate Optimum when the temperatures were much higher than today, and even higher than the alarmist predict. Or do you mean the Little Ice age around 1500. My point is, of course the climate has not been constant, so why would it occur to you that we are the cause of any change now?

    You mention the rate of climate change over the past 100 years. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think humans were putting out too much co2 in 1900. And when we really did start to produce co2, the temperature dropped, and even caused a global cooling scare (please make up your mind, hot or cold, pick one) Sorry, I’m getting sassy, it’s getting late and I’m tired.

    Another thing. Don’t plants need co2 to survive and grow?

    And another, you keep saying “greenhouse gases”. Remember, 95% of that is water vapor. If greenhouse gases are pollutants then water must be as well? Just a thought. again sorry for being so sassy. I like that word…… sassy.

  15. John (comment #18 ) and Nick (comments #6 , 12, 13 and 21):
    I applaud your skepticism. I am always encouraged by people who question orthodoxy and authority. Authority and orthodoxy generally deserve skepticism and questioning. However, in this case, I have to agree with the

    Nick-Regarding your 19,000 scientific signatories to the petition questioning the legitimacy of human-caused global climate change at http://www.oism.org/pproject/. OISM is the Oregon Insitute of Science and Medicine: “The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is a non-profit research institute established in 1980 to conduct basic and applied research in subjects immediately applicable to increasing the quality, quantity, and length of human life.” Nowhere on their website do they provide any evidence of the identity or scientific credentials of the signatories. They do have extensive information on the website on surviving nuclear warfare, homeland civil defense, etc. Peculiar, but there it is.

    The orthodox position that human activities (the largest single cause being the burning of millions of years worth of accumulated fossil carbon in the form of fossil fuels over the couple of centuries since coal-burning started in the late 18th century, ramping up dramatically since the mid-20th century) are changing the composition of the atmosphere, trapping more heat in the atmosphere, and causing climate destabilization, is so well documented and supported that very few reputable scientists question it. While you can find, as I said, “a relative handful” of dissenting voices (and yes, I would say 400 scientists worldwide as cited in the Senate committee minority report you link to above at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.SenateReport constitute a relative handful compared to the rest of the worldwide scientific community), the overwhelmingly supported view is that human-caused global climate change is real and should be addressed vigorously NOW.

    This overwhelming scientific support is described in Wikipedia in the following way:

    “The majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is primarily caused by human activities such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation.[17][18][19] The conclusion that global warming is mainly caused by human activity and will continue if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced has been endorsed by at least 30 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences,[20] the American Association for the Advancement of Science,[21] and the Joint Science Academies of the major industrialized and developing nations[22] explicitly use the word “consensus” when referring to this conclusion.”

    I encourage you to read the Wikipedia entry on the “global warming controversy” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_controversy#Existence_of_a_scientific_consensus) carefully. It goes into much greater depth than I ever could, and addresses the views of skeptics very thoroughly. It talks explicitly about the OISM, for example.

    Finally, Nick, regarding your comment #14 regarding sustainability being a fancy term for survival: sustainability refers to living in an abundant way NOW, in a way that does not affect the ability of FUTURE generations to live abundantly. The way we as a society are living in the US in 2008 gravely threatens the ability of future generations to live a decent life. I feel we need to dramatically change the way we live NOW so that future generations can also have a fighting chance of living a good life. The status quo ain’t good enough. This isn’t about present survival; it’s all about living well in a way that can be SUSTAINED indefinitely.

  16. During the 80s and 90s I was a wtaer quality environmentalist, worked with the Great Lakes initiatives with the EPA and many other organizations, so I tend not to believe everything I read, knowing that orgs and people often overstate their cases for many personal and strange reasons.

    Having said that, I try to reason out a few things. At first glance, I don’t think we could maintain any part of how we live now unless we get some sort of
    miraculous-no-negative effects energy source without moving to a more
    hospitable climate either on earth or elsewhere. I have Zurich Switzerland
    temperature on my computer desk top and I see why they don’t use much
    energy…they do not have the temp extremes we do here in the USA.

    No one stays out much up here during those cold and sort of cold snaps.
    IN Tulsa, you will never see anyone walking when the temps are past 90 and 95 and 100 like they are all summer long pretty much, and the nights are btw very hot too, not like here. Yes, we do adjust to some degree, as the blood thins and thickens. We can go to 120 degrees like they do in Afghanistan, but believe me they aren’t building any bridges or any major undertakings, and very few minor ones. Life there is completely different.

    In India, even before any commercialization, the brown cloud from cooking that I have mentioned before existed and is every bit the threat to the environment that our clouds are. They would have to go back to a raw diet. I don’t know if that is possible, but if they had to, so would we. A lot of people cannot do that without some serious repercusions.

    In Australia, the natural fires that occur are major source of pollution. Burning wood is not a clean thing to do by any stretch of the imagination,
    yet the fires will continue.

    Any volcano will create much pollution; http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002105397_volcano01m.html

    Any thoughts?

  17. Bruce- In your comment #22, you refered to the burning of millions of years of fosilized carbon over the period of a couple centuries. This is a premise you make that you cannot prove and that I don’t believe- the old earth theory. There is evidence on the other side from the non-evolutionist scientists that would conclude that the earth is possibly only 10,000 years old. if this is true, then the cycle of changing carbon from solid to gaseous to solid again could be duplicated in lab experiments. This has actually been done, so I lean toward believing the young earth theory. There is no way of proving in a labratory the long cycle, unfortunately.

    Since carbon can be changed back into solid form by the simple process of photosynthesis, is there any reaseach going on to develope this industry, asside from the ethaol plants springing up like mushrooms? I still believe that focusing all our resources on just reducing the use of carbon based fuels rather than recovering the existing gaseous carbon is a misapplication of financial resources. I also still do not believe that the climactic changes we see going on can be produced by mans’ mere 3.5% contribution. And, I don’t put a lot of stock in Wikipedia as a reliable source of information. Sorry.

  18. John,
    If you put more stock in a young-Earth theory than in the kind of peer-reviewed science that is summarized in the Wikipedia link I provided regarding the global warming “controversy,” nothing I can say will have any influence on you. If your world-view is entirely Biblically informed, and you reject the findings of modern science, you and I will have to agree to disagree on this issue (and I’m sure many others).

    I am not a naive believer in whatever I read on the Internet. The Wikipedia link I provided regarding global warming has many, many credible references and can be dismissed if you wish, but I daresay no amount of scientific evidence can sway you if you are convinced the world may only be 10,000 or less years old.

  19. ****GLOBAL WARNING****

    Shameless Plug For My Writing Ahead!

    I weighed in on this many months back. I hope it makes you laugh:
    http://bleeet.blogspot.com/2007/05/convincing-arguments-politicians-use-to.html

    If that one didn’t give you a giggle, perhaps this one will supply a snicker:
    http://bleeet.blogspot.com/2007/10/what-i-am-doing-to-make-this-blog-more.html

    Or, perchance this post might provide potential pleasantness:
    http://bleeet.blogspot.com/2007/06/radical-steps-for-lessening-my-carbon.html

  20. Bruce- You are correct on your discription of our differences. I do put more stock in the young earth theory. I really don’t care how many peer reviews of a given topic are given, if no one questions the basis from which these theories are assumed to be true, then there is no value in the review. I appreciate anyone who questions where I come from. I hope to stimulate some discussion and consideration. If I wasn’t comfortable in someone challenging my assumptions, I certainly would not be participating here. If I wanted to only stay within the peer group that I identify with, I would be concerned about being decieved.

    It is interesting that the two camps can examine the same evidence and come up with two different conclusions. This just proves to me that there are some non-provable standards that must be assumed and believed. There is a difference to me of being Bibically “informed” and Biblically “based.” The Biblically “informed” tag would suggest to me that my conclusions are based only on what I read in the Bible. The Biblically “based” tag suggests that I can evaluate observable facts from a viewpoint of a creating God. The greatest problem with taking a Biblical view is that you open yourself up to the moral side of God, also. This is a sticky wicket unless a person doesn’t mind being hypocritical. In other words, it is ok to believe that God set everything in motion, but that is as far as He goes in His interraction with mankind. I just don’t happen to believe this. It raises the question of what part of the Bible is true and what part isn’t. I happen to believe it is all true and applicable to our lives today. This kind of puts me out on the radical edge of Christianity, but I believe I have some good company out here.

    Back to our discussion, I again appreciate where you come from and that you seem to be willing to discuss these issues with me without shutting me out. That takes courage on both sides. I would suggest reading some articles from “AIG- Answers In Genesis” scientists. There are some pretty impresive credentials on these men. It would appear that there are some reactions from the scientific community against these men and their research simply because they do not embrace evolution as a basis for their conclusions. I would be interested in your opinions on some of these writings. You can e-mail me direct at jkgeorge0976@msn.com if you want to carry on the discussion away from this blog. Also, I would really like to get together with you over coffee sometime.

  21. Young earth or old earth, oil companies have to keep track of new oil discoveries and of estimates regarding how much oil is left. There’s a range of opinion regarding peak oil, but many agree that if we have not already used up most of the * recoverable * oil (as we now understand that), we will soon have done so within a decade or two.

    However, this doesn’t mean we have as many years of oil left as we had getting to the halfway mark. Demand was much less on the uphill slope of the bell curve than it will be on the downhill side, with India and China and other countries, and their growing middle class. If an exponentially greater number of consumers are using oil, we’ll use up most of the rest of the earth’s recoverable oil in an exponentially shorter amount of time.

    So it doesn’t matter that much whether the earth is 400,000 years old (and if God stuck some fossils in to test our faith, as some claim), or if it’s far older (as others, including other Christians, believe).

    And from a Christian viewpoint, bad stewardship based on materialism and greed is still bad stewardship. There is great potential for common ground between environmentalists and good-steward Christians, so we shouldn’t split hairs over timelines.

    Regarding sustainability, last December I read a NYTimes article called “Our Decrepit Food Factories” by Michael Pollan (author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma) — about symptoms of unsustainability in agriculture, including the antibiotic-resistant bacteria (MRSA) resulting from overuse of antibiotics in large livestock feedlots, and “Bee Colony Collapse Disorder.” Pollan’s approach to sustainability in the article seems to be this: Can we keep doing things the way we’re doing them now, or is there, built into the way we do things now, some seed of our own future demise? Some metaphors come to mind: Frankenstein, Strega Nona, or the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (technological innovation leads to undesirable consequences).

    Folks like Bruce A., Lance Norgaard, and others who talk about peak oil and climate change are really approaching sustainability from a very different angle than some. For those who want to see us prepare well for the future, things like bikes and sidewalks, community gardening, and urban design in which people can live near where they shop, work and go to school — all these things are important.

    For others, sustainability seems to mean letting the housing industry keep building the same kinds of homes and cul-de-sacs forever, in larger and larger concentric rings (and developments therein) around urban areas — protecting economic growth and the status quo as it’s been for decades (with some adjustments in building code and efficiency). Please correct me if I’m way off and over-simplifying.

    If you go to the US gubmit EPA web site, when they define sustainability, once piece of the puzzle is, necessarily, economic sustainability (on an Environmental Protection web site?), which for some, trumps all else. The economic sustainability folks sometimes claim they want to see a certain percent growth in the economy, and that this is their first priority. Then once you can achieve that, fine, plant a tree, or tweak the gas mileage standards, use as many compact fluorescent bulbs as you want, but don’t mess with economic growth. (Am I way off here?)

    Some business leaders are waking up to the idea that conservation can save corporations money and increase profits. A little progress on that front.

    But still, the idea that current practices might do great environmental damage and that this could lead to loss of life — along with loss of profits — on this point, there’s still great skepticism among many economic conservatives. They’re doubting Thomases: Show us the coming environmental Armageddon first, and then we’ll believe. Till then, we’ll see if someone can make a killing on new shipping lanes that will open up when the arctic ice melts. So we go on playing a game of dare.

    To their credit, some corporate leaders anticipate that new environmental standards, and perhaps carbon taxes or credit trading, are on the way, so they’re going to politicians and asking: OK, so if this is coming, let me know what it might look like, because I need to have a plan. I won’t build a certain kind of building, or make certain investments, if environmental standards, etc., will move in a direction contrary to my business plans.

    Meanwhile, the lobbyists for coal and oil companies work their magic to save their tax breaks, and it seems we’re rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic instead of changing course. Some of my students follow these kinds of issues, and while many are becoming informed, I don’t notice many who are optimists. They’re very skeptical about corporate greed, and also about the chances of governments turning things around. (Maybe students in Sweden, weaning itself from fossil fuels, are more hopeful?)

  22. Those interested in these issues are invited to view a videotape of J. Drake Hamilton’s speech at the Carleton College Colloquium earlier this month. The videotape will be shown at the United Methodist Church of Northfield, 1401 So. Maple St., this Sunday, Feb. 24, at 9:45 am, with a brief discussion afterward.

    J. Drake Hamilton is the Science Policy Director at Fresh Energy, an energy non-profit in St. Paul. Her talk is a review of events of the last year or so and the many changes that have occurred in our response to global warming, specifically the solidying of the scientific case that global warming is happening and is caused by human activity, as well as the political response by various levels of government.

    I was encouraged by her talk. With the right policies in place soon, particularly a cap and trade system for carbon emissions, we can make great strides. But many challenging choices lie ahead.

    I second everything Bruce Anderson has said and add only a few comments:

    I like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s analogy with regard to global warming: if 99 doctors say that your child needs surgery to save her life and one says that she does not need surgery, whose recommendation are you going to follow? Which decision is likely to pose the greater risk to your child?

    Scientists have been debating these issues for decades and have come to a hard-won consensus. We ignore that consensus at our peril.

    Scientists and policy folks seem to have directed most of their energy at convincing leaders of the need to take action: thus even Republicans such as John Warner, Schwarzenegger, McCain, and Pawlenty have come to see global warming as a crisis. Less energy seems to have gone into spreading the word to regular folks like us. But that has been changing with Al Gore’s movie and other media representations.

    Scientists need to speak to us regular folks too.

  23. Nick, I too was a skeptic about “global warming”. But I am not a skeptic about the need for societies to be sustainable within their sphere of influence (we cannot invade China to tell them to quit building polluting coal-fired power plants). As it happens, this week’s Politics and a Pint topic at the Contented Cow is:

    Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed … next on Politics and a Pint (24 Feb ‘08)

    Read all about it at the link.

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