Capitalism Versus the Climate

By Jim Carey

The American Exchange Legislative Council [ALEC], the big polluters and the Koch-funded think tanks have attacked our environmental regulations and supported the denial of climate change.

Film and discussion
Occupy San Miguel will view a DVD of Naomi Klein discussing her new book: This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate
Mon, Oct 27, 1pm
TV Room
Hotel Quinta Loreto
Loreto 15

Let’s take a few minutes to look at what 97 percent of all scientists, NASA, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveal—a planet accumulating heat at a rate actually accelerating over the past 16 years. Scientists know, from analyzing the isotopes of the carbon in the atmosphere, that the increase in atmospheric CO2 (90 million tons a day) is the result of burning fossil fuels and forests, and not the result of natural processes. By analyzing air bubbles trapped in the ice of Antarctica and Greenland, scientists have been able to determine that over the past 650,000 or so years, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) varied between 180 and 300 parts per million (ppm), and in the years immediately prior to the Industrial Revolution in the mid-eighteenth century stood at approximately 280 ppm. Since then, however, that figure has steadily increased well above 310 and is now closing in on 400.

Globally each day 2,300 coal-fired power stations (7,000 individual units); a billion-plus  passenger cars [by 2050, US$2.5 billion] cruising the earth, and 30,000 airplane flights add even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. At the current rate, the average temperature around the world could increase by about 4 degrees to 12°F by the year 2100. Unless policy dramatically changes, some cities will be as hot as the Middle Eastern desert.

The oceans continue to become more acidic and warmer, affecting weather patterns, causing more powerful tropical storms. A warming ocean, while actually making it more difficult for hurricanes to form, is leading to stronger hurricanes when they do form. When major storms do strike, higher sea levels will result in greater storm surges and coastal flooding. On average, since 1993, the sea has been rising by 3.18 mm per year. Since 2011 sea level has accelerated to approximately 10 mm a year. Over the past 100 years, the average sea level around the world rose by nearly seven inches. By 2030, many coastal communities and cities in the US will be faced with routine flooding. Island countries will gradually disappear.

A final cautionary note. Climate change is different from weather. Weather is short-term and highly variable. There are always storms and heat waves. However, climate creates the conditions in which weather takes place—as one expert has explained it, “climate trains the boxer, but weather throws the punches.” Changing climate will make certain weather events more likely and others more extreme. Naomi Klein’s view of all of this is worth hearing. The meeting is open to all at no charge.


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