Post Tipping Point
Regular readers know that I believe that America and the world passed a tipping point last year regarding Global Warming. I have written about it here and here. Every week I continue to see evidence that verifies this viewpoint. Two weeks ago I shared with you my conversation with an executive at GM who not only agreed, but was working to create cars that the post-tipping point public wants to drive. In the past week I have seen even more evidence that we as a society have moved beyond debating about global warming to a place where much of what we do, think and act, is now based upon the reality of global warming.
In just one day the Business Day section of the New York Times had several articles tied to global warming. This would not have been the case 5 years ago, let alone 1 year ago. One article was about cleaner coal technologies. Environmentalists support the gasification of coal before burning, as this process separates the carbon. The coal industry say that this process is too expensive and that their old tried and true method, know as pulverized coal can be equipped to capture the carbon. While costs will continue to be debated, there is no longer any question but that carbon must be captured.
Another article highlighted a debate between two scientists, Nicholas Stern, the author of the same named global warming report discussed earlier in this blog, and William Nordhaus a distinguished professor at Princeton. The debate was not about whether the report was generally accurate, but about the economic methodology that Stern utilized. In other words, does global warming make our future dire or extremely dire and are the economic consequences detrimental or dire. Global warming was not debated, but rather how dire the consequences might be and by what date.
The third article this day was about the new initiative in Australia to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian environment minister said he wanted to work with the states of Australia to get rid of incandescent bulbs by 2009 or 2010. Get rid of the incandescent light bulb! The most well know invention of Thomas Edison! Do you think a national politician would have announced that 5 years ago? Of course not, but now that we have past the tipping point in consciousness about global warming, it sounds like what politicians do, tell the electorate what they want to hear. Of course there are the questions about scaling up production and lowering the cost of the compact fluorescent bulbs, but economic history tells us that will happen.
A few days later I read the article about President Bush putting on an alternative energy car show on the south lawn of the White House. He showed off a Toyota Prius that had been rigged with a battery pack to allow the car to run more on electricity. He also showed off a Korean sport utility truck that had been modified by a small company in California to run entirely on batteries. This is President Bush, the Texas oil man President whose administration has, until recently denied the existence of global warming, cozies up to Saudi Arabia, and has refused to sign the Kyoto accord.!! Do you think we have crossed the tipping point?
Incidentally, A123 Systems of Watertown Massachusetts, the company that modified the Prius, said the battery would power it for 40 miles between overnight charges, would currently cost $10,000 and would last through 7,000 charges, which would be longer that the life of the vehicle. Phoenix Motorcars of Ontario California, the company that modified the truck said that they already had orders for 75 of them at $45,000 each and hopes to sell 500 of them this year and 6,000 next year.
Since I write the phrase global warming a lot in this blog, I enjoyed an interview of Drew Shindell, the NASA scientist whose reports on the phenomenon had been watered down by his Bush appointed political bureaucrats a couple of years ago. When asked what he thought of the phrase global warming he suggested that it was a bad name as it sounded â€˜cozy and comfortableâ€™. Instead he is happier with global climate change as it was the phrase that scientists used. He suggested â€˜climate meltdownâ€™ as it sounds more ominous.For those of us who understand the huge and impending danger of global warming, the phrase means something. If you encounter people who still donâ€™t get it, why not use the phrase climate meltdown, or come up with ones of your own like â€˜the rising oceansâ€™ (for those with beach homes) or the death of the polar bear (for animal lovers). Names can mean a lot. Use the one that will work to wake up those still asleep.
Have we experienced a tipping point regarding global warming? You bet.