Thom interviews Marc Morano and talks about the latest IPCC report.
[Thom]: Well, the UN has come out with a rather startling report which, by the way, has been signed off on by the Bush Administration. The United States is in agreement with the conclusions of this report, that disaster may be just around the corner as a consequence of global warming; in fact, is already on our heels, is already starting to happen. And so, given this and the fact that there is some legislation coming down the road that may make some little tiny chink in this, it's sort of like trying to, you know, reduce the volume of the great lakes with a teacup, but nonetheless.
Marc Morano is with us. He is the communications director for Senator James Inhofe, the senator from Oklahoma, and the communications director in the senate environmental public works GOP Committee. The web site epw.senate.gov. Marc Marano, welcome to the program, Marc.
[Marc]: Thank you Thom, I'm always happy to be the resident climate skeptic on the program.
[Thom]: Well, you know, I just don't get it. It's like if I was to mortgage my entire home and take a hundred percent of that money and go to Las Vegas and set it on the roulette table, I'm assuming that you would tell me that either I'm Bill Bennett, or I'm nuts. And yet that's what, you know, Senator Inhofe seems to be doing, you guys seem to be doing, is I mean, they're talking, the UN is talking about a, you know, a third to a half of all species going extinct. Here we have now this ten year study showing that the CO2 uptake in the North Atlantic has been, which is the only ocean they looked at, 90,000 measurements, has been cut in half. The oceans are no longer sinking out carbon dioxide; the oceans are becoming acidic. This could, because they've absorbed more than half the CO2 that we've produced, over 8,000 gigatons, 8,000 million tons a year, and it's, and they're losing their ability to absorb more, and in the process they're no longer cycling calcium they way they used to, so that all the sea life could be dying. I mean, we're killing off the planet, and you guys are calling yourselves skeptics? I don't get it.
[Marc]: Well, there's a lot of environmental problems, but to say that rising sea activity, first of all the UN report is deliberately a lead off; there are 52 scientists did the previous 3 summary for policymakers. I'm not sure of the exact number. I think it's the same 52. The rest of them are hundreds of political delegates and bureaucrats. This is like a Democrat or Republican Party convention. For you to act all excited like this is some new scientific revelation, it's the same reports that they've recycled, except they're just making the spin stronger and stronger. Pachauri, the head of the IPCC...
[Thom]: That's because it's, they've been right all along. Of course they're recycling the science.
[Marc]: No, because, but of the exact point of the oceans, a peer reviewed study just came out a couple of weeks ago saying the oceans are nowhere near saturation point of their ability.
[Thom]: Well, that's like 'saying when I'm gambling at the roulette wheel in Las Vegas, 'hey, I've only lost 70 percent of the value of my house so far. You know, this next spin, I may get it all back!'
[Marc]: Well, that would make sense if someone in the last two decades had proposed any actual legislation to make a difference in this. Kyoto would have no impact. The Lieberman Warner bill would have no impact. It's all symbolism for the climate. All the bills being talked about right now for absolutely no...
[Thom]: I agree with you. We need substantial and serious legislation. But it's not going to happen as long as people like Senator Inhofe are running around saying, and by the way, our quote for the day, from James Inhofe, "Much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science". I say, it should be predicated on fear, you know, having a third of all life on Earth wiped out is something that, frankly, frightens me.
[Marc]: You know this is, we have biologists on record, they're coming out of the woodwork now. We have them actually at epw.senate.gov. A warmer world increases biodiversity. The whole idea that everything negative happens if we were causes...
[Thom]: A warmer world might, but but acidic oceans don't. And we're talking about, we're looking at levels of carbon dioxide right now that we haven't seen in 250,000 years, Marc.
[Marc]: The whole entire United Nations, a very political body, they love to extrapolate; you just...
[Thom]: It's not a political body; they're not running for office.
[Marc]: They looked at one sea, and now they're extrapolating that that's the end of the world. The bottom line is, if we reduce, according to Robert Giegengack, the geologist from the University of Pennsylvania, voted for Gore by the way, he said even if we reduce man-made CO2, which, by the way, is only equivalent to a layer of linoleum on the first floor of a 100 story building, the CO2 would come out of the reservoirs, it would come out of the ocean, it would come out of the permafrost soil. In essence, even if we reduced CO2, the CO2 level in the atmosphere would not change, ultimately, because temperature, he said temperature is driving the CO2 level.
[Thom]: In other words, you're saying that we're past the tipping point;
we're already screwed.
[Marc]: Oh, I think we have passed the tipping point. If you look at the peer reviewed studies, and the UN is actually on record, we have
John Christy recently came out and talked about UN scientists behind the scenes, and he was the lead author, conspiring to how to make the report so alarming that the US will have to sign on.
[Thom]: If we're past the tipping point, Marc Morano, then why don't you and Senator James Inhofe, for whom you work, propose legislation to have a Manhattan style project where we spend hundreds of billions of dollars, hang on, I'm not going where you think I'm going.
[Thom]: Where we spend hundreds of billions of dollars not just on alternative fuels and getting off fossil fuels, but developing technology to sink the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. We're looking at the possibility of an atmosphere and an ocean acidification that will be equivalent to that of 65 million years ago when this, when the Yucatan peninsula was hit by this asteroid and it threw all that sulfur into the atmosphere that rained sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, into the oceans and it took, you know, for a 2 million year period there's no evidence of any calcium-based life in the oceans. It took 20 million years after that for calcium based life, vertebrates and invertebrates, to return to the oceans.
[Marc]: You know, yes, this is just a wild speculation. In the 1960s...
[Thom]: No, this is history.
[Marc]: No, but I mean, you're projecting that now. I'm not arguing with your history; I'm saying you're speculating that we're...
[Thom]: Acidity of the oceans is up 30 percent now over 20 years ago. That's not history, that's science.
[Marc]: The rising of...
[Thom]: It's killing off the reefs.
[Marc]: Right, but what the rising levels of CO2, if you look, we already know right now that moose in northern Europe, that cow emissions, dwarf all the emissions from man-made transportation; airplanes, planes, everything else. You're arguing...
[Thom]: Those emissions are just normal cycling of carbon dioxide. You know, the plants pull it out of the atmosphere, the moose eat it, they poop it back out. That's a normal cycle. That's very different than taking carbon that was pulled out of the atmosphere 500 million years ago during the carboniferous period, is now stored as oil and coal, and burning that stuff. It's a completely different thing.
[Marc]: Yeah, but in terms of its impact on greenhouse gases, if you look at even how much, wild moose in northern Europe had more impact than the average person driving their car.
[Thom]: Moose have always been farting, Marc.
[Thom]: We can do something about driving cars.
[Marc]: But my point, though, is that even if you eliminated all transportation sectors it wouldn't have an impact. You're putting up...
[Thom]: Sure it would.
[Marc]: You're putting up, my point is, it's not going to have any measurable impact.
[Thom]: The oceans have become more acidic by 30 percent as a consequence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is above the concentrations that these oceans have been used to for over 250,000 years.
[Marc]: Again, you're basing this on the recent UN study?
[Thom]: Yes, well, and the science that they based their study on, yeah.
[Marc]: Well, as I mentioned, a new peer-reviewed study showing that the oceans are nowhere near any kind of "tipping point" as you say, in terms of absorbing CO2, and then the question is, the rise of CO2 as I said, there's a whole new school of thought: doubling of CO2 would be the same as spitting. And these are new peer-reviewed studies by scientists who believe, like you do, personally believe in global warming, but they're finding that the UN has been way out of line in terms of their CO2 sensitivity.
[Thom]: Then why are all the major scientists in the world saying...
[Marc]: Well, now you're getting into politics now, because they're not. The UN has a...
[Thom]: Scientists are not political.
[Marc]: When they say a thousand scientists in the UN, you are literally talking 52.
[Thom]: It's 2,300.
[Marc]: Right, 52 wrote the summary, and then if you look at the comments...
[Thom]: Right, the best of the best.
[Marc]: The best of the best.
[Thom]: Well, that's who scientists, I mean, you're going to have to have a small committee, right? It's like Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin wrote the Declaration of Independence.
[Marc]: Right, the UN.
[Thom]: You're saying because it was the consensus report it's valueless?
[Marc]: No, the UN literally exists, it's a self- fulfilling organization. If it doesn't issue these reports, it loses the reason for its existence.
[Thom]: Oh, come on.
[Marc]: We like to say that if we were facing a climate catastrophe...
[Thom]: The UN was created to prevent war, Marc; not to save the environment.
[Marc]: We're talking about the IPCC which was created late 1988 and the first report was 1990, and has been riddled with politics, accusations of bias, resignations. As I mentioned, I actually debated Pachauri, the Indian climatologist in Kenya last year, and we confronted him with his quotes. He actually said, we will make these reports so alarming that people will have to pay attention.
[Thom]: That's what we need to do!
[Marc]: Well, right.
[Thom]: God bless him.
[Marc]: But that's not science; that's politics, that's activism, that's, that's distorting science.
[Thom]: If the world is on fire we need to be political and active.
[Marc]: The world is not on fire, that's what so funny. look at the latest...
[Thom]: You haven't been to San Diego recently.
[Marc]: And even the LA Times headline "wildfires not linked to global warming". The LA times is no climate skeptic newspaper. They quote ? scientists.
[Thom]: But look...
[Marc]: The point, no, but just to find an area of agreement. Nobody's arguing, you mentioned, you know, a plan for new technology and to come up with ways to deal, the bottom line is, yes, we want to get away from carbon based energy for a lot of reasons; geopolitical, and we're supporting all the way. The way to do it is technology; not impoverishing people, not penalizing poor people through higher energy bills.
[Thom]: OK, we can agree on that. Marc Morano.
[Marc]: Thank you.
[Thom]: Marc Morano, James Inhofe's staff, epw.senate.gov. Thanks Marc.
Climate Mash, Bobby "Boris" Pickett.
We were hiking past the White House late one night ...
When our eyes beheld an eerie sight ...
The president appeared, with folks very strange
The zombies and vampires of global climate change.
'Its not global warming,' say oil company disciples
‘According to our math, its natural weather cycles.'
Claims from these and other industry heavies let
The president rest behind his own protective levees
(the climate mash)
they're doing the climate mash
(the climate mash)
Real science is bashed
(the climate mash)
solutions are trashed
(the climate mash)
and they do it for the cash
The creatures were having fun
Our congress was overrun
We couldn't tell the mindless zombies
From the elected ones.
Now we do know how to stop this, we have the technology
But first we have to get past industry ideology.
We need your help, I'm glad to show you how;
Tell your leaders in Washington to save our climate now.
You tell them, Boris.
There you go, Boris Pickett the actual Boris Pickett.
"Humanity is rapidly turning the seas acid". Article in the Independent. This was somewhat covered in the American press, but really not dealt with the way it was in the European Press, as the huge story of the month. This UN report, it was embargoed until Saturday, today is Monday, it officially came out the day before yesterday, but it had been leaked out in bits and pieces over the last month or so. Everybody pretty much knew what was coming, but, and as I said, according to the Independent anyway, the US government even signed off on it. Basically, all the parties to the IPCC said yes, this is right; we agree with the consensus statement. All the countries.
"Humanity is rapidly turning the seas acid through the same pollution that causes global warming, the world's governments and top scientists agreed yesterday. The process – thought to be the most profound change in the chemistry of the oceans for 20 million years – is expected both to disrupt the entire web of life of the oceans and to make climate change worse."
"2,500 of the world's top scientists and their governments, and agreed last week by representatives of all its national governments, the report also predicts that nearly a third of the world's species could be driven to extinction as the world warms up, and that harvests will be cut dramatically across the world..."
This, you know, the question, I guess, ultimately, if we want to look at it in the most selfish way, is 'what happens to the top predator in the food chain?' Because whenever there's a big die off, and look at the dinosaurs; they were the top predator in the food chain 65 million years ago when the Yucatan Peninsula got hit by that asteroid, and it threw up all that sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, all that volcanic activity, which acidified the oceans and basically killed off all the foundational stuff. All the bottom of the food chain died off. And what happened? The top predator well, the top predator is us. It was the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Now it's us. The conclusion of the study?
"Emissions of carbon dioxide – the main cause of global warming – have already increased the acidity of ocean surface water by 30 per cent, and threaten to treble it by the end of the century..."
"The threat is immense as it can fundamentally alter the life of the seas, reducing the productivity of the oceans, while reinforcing global warming".
Now this comes on top of other studies that show that more than 90 percent of the world's large fish, ocean fish, are gone - that as a consequence of over fishing, but now we might be seeing the life of the seas collapsing as a consequence of the acidification of the seas. And what is causing the seas to become more acid? Because they absorb carbon dioxide and that carbon dioxide bonds with other, particularly sulfur, but other compounds and produces dilute carbonic acid and sulfuric acid, primarily carbonic acid which sours the sea water.
Sea water is normally alkaline, which is why it's a good cycler of calcium, which is what, you know, becomes the shells of clams and mollusks and becomes the bones of fish and eels and things. This dilute carbonic acid is mopping up carbon, calcium carbonate. This is the very plentiful source of calcium in the sea. Corals use it to build their reefs, marine creatures use it to make their shells, plankton at the base of the chain on which all fish and other marine mammals, whales, porpoises, everything, all of them depend on this, on this available calcium. And it's vanishing because of this dilute carbonic acid.
The report says the consequences for life in the seas are incalculable. Every single species that uses calcium in this way that has so far been studied has been found to be affected now, by the levels now, as a consequence of the last 50 years.
And the seas are most acid near the surface where most of the life is concentrated.
Britain's premier scientific body, the Royal Society, concluded in a separate report that "the world's oceans are probably now more acidic that they have ever been in 'hundreds of millennia', and that even if emissions stopped now, the waters would take 'tens of thousands of years to return to normal'."
By the end of the century, "the seas will reach a condition unprecedented in the last 20 million years". I mean, this is incredible. Professor Ulf Reibesell of the Leibnitz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, Germany, he's one of the leading experts and he wrote an article that's in the United Nations magazine, "Our Planet", the UNEP's magazine, and he says this is like when the comet hit the Yucatan Peninsula. He says, "Two million years went by before corals reappeared in the fossil record... A further 20 million years" before the diversity of species that use calcium returned to its former levels.
Are we looking at a 20 million year species loss if we don't do something now? Most likely.
Bumper Music: Royally Oily, Colleen Kattau.
So we formed an opposition, like a rainbow coalition
a sane voice in the wilderness of war
and we were winning as dissenters when we called our representers
but they fixed the game and lied about the score.
Well this I know, this I know
well humanity may've never sunk so low
well there might be a solution,
let's bring on a revolution
‘cause the royally oilygarchy's gotta go!
Indeed. The good news in all this, the IPCC is saying, as bad as all this sounds, and as bad as all this is, if - it's a huge if - if we take radical and dramatic steps to change the amount of carbon dioxide we're throwing into the atmosphere over the next 15 to 20 years, we may be able to reverse, to at least pause this and even reverse it over future generations and the resilience of life is extraordinary. I mean, even after the asteroid 65 million years ago wiped out well over 90 percent of life on Earth, it came back. Life came back. Here we are. And we can do something about this, but it's going to require some serious, serious effort by all the nations of the world.