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Transcript
Tim Pelton
SOLVE Office / Civic Engagement Center
The End of the World
(as we know it)
 The end of the world by fire
or extreme heat can be
found in some of the
worlds earliest writings and
continues today as the
subject of newspapers
documentaries, movies,
radio broadcasts, on the
internet and more.
Earliest Writings – 1800s
Awareness of Climate Effects
 In 1827 Jean-Baptiste Fourier
predicts that atmospheric effects
can keep the Earth warm using a
greenhouse analogy and in 1863
John Tyndal publishes a paper
showing water vapor to be a
greenhouse gas. Scientists also
begin to believe fossil fuel
burning can cause warming.
 In the 1800s and Early 1900s
stories about climatology begin
to appear in newspapers.
 An awareness of
industrialization and its effects
begins to appear in the press.
1800s & Early 1900s
Notice of Warming
 The 1930s brings the
depression to the USA and the
Dust Bowl. Scientists believe it
is a sign of greenhouse activity.
From the 189os to 1940 global
temperature rises about ½ of
one degree F.
 The Dust Bowl’s effects widely
reported in the press and on
the radio.
 Guy Stewart Callendar
connects temperature rise to
CO2 levels in 1938.
1900s
Environmental Awareness
 The popular press begins to
report warming trends.
 Scientists warn that global
warming could bring
significant increases in
temperature and are tied to
CO2 levels, but it goes largely
unnoticed by the press.
 The late 1960s bring with them
new awareness of the
environment and the word,
“ecology” becomes widely used
due to exposure in the media.
1950s & 1960s
Earth Day
 Senator Gaylord Nelson begins
in the 1960s to believe that an
annual day to recognize the
importance of a clean
environment is a way to increase
awareness of the problems of
pollution.
 April 22, 1970 is designated as
Earth Day, the beginning of the
annual U.S. observance of the
importance of the environment.
Activities are widely reported in
the media.
April 22, 1970
Climate Change Concerns Grow
 Studies in the 1970s continue
to indicate that warming is
occurring and scientific
conferences are held to
discuss the problem with
some press coverage.
 The 1970s bring a U.S. energy
crisis to the forefront.
 By the 1980s the media begins
more intense scrutiny.
Dissenting scientists question
the reality of climate change
dangers .
1970s & 1980s
Coral Reef Changes
 Coral bleaching becomes a
concern to scientists who
determine it is caused by warming
waters.
 Coral polyps expel Zooxanthellae,
a single cell algae that works
symbiotically to keep the coral
functioning.
 Scientists later learn that the
corals expel the algae so that new
species of algae that can endure
warmer waters can replace it. But
sometimes no such replacement
exists and the corals die.
1980s
Sea Level Rise Concerns
 Along with changes in coral
reefs concerns about the
possible rise of sea level from
the melting of polar ice caps
begins to appear in news
stories.
 Congressional hearings on
warming make headlines in the
1980s as scientists learn that the
decade shows the highest
temperatures on record. The
Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, the IPCC, is
established.
1980s
Warming at the Movies & on TV
 Climate change becomes the
subject of television
documentaries.
 Sea level rise becomes the
subject of “Waterworld,” an
over-budget science fiction
film about Earth with nearly
no land remaining.
 Later “The Day After
Tomorrow” portrays global
climate change run amok in
an impossible scenario.
1980s, 1990s & Beyond
Global Conferences & Treaties
 The first report of the IPCC is
released showing that the planet has
warmed nearly one full degree
Fahrenheit in 100 years, and warns
that serious warming will result
without action.
 In 1992 Climate Change Convention
is signed by 154 nations in Rio de
Janeiro. Vice President Al Gore
attends for the U.S. The Rio
conference receives extensive press
coverage.
 By mid decade island states have
demanded a decrease in greenhouse
gasses to prevent sea level rise and
in 1997 the Kyoto Protocol calls for
over 5% cut in emissions by
industrialized nations.
1990s
Energy Producers’ Opposition
 Energy producers begin to worry
about how public perception
might negatively affect future
profits and governmental
regulation.
 The American Petroleum Institute
hosts a meeting and a plan is
drafted. An effort is launched to
downplay the dangers of global
climate change and the
contribution of human activity
including burning of fossil fuels.
 The project is funded by Exxon
and other corporations. The effort
does not get reported in the press
for several years.
The 1990s & A New Millennium
Bush Administration & Global Changes
 A new president is elected after a
historically narrow victory.
Dangers of global climate change
are downplayed officially.
 President George W. Bush
renounces the Kyoto Protocol
because he believes it will damage
the U.S. Economy. The press
covers developments as the White
House denies that climate change
is caused by human activity.
 By 2004 enough industrialized
nations have ratified Kyoto to put
the treaty into effect with out the
U.S. as part of the effort.
A New Millennium
Political Revisions to Scientific Findings
 NASA climate change expert, Dr. James
Hansen, claims he is being pressured by
Bush public relations personnel to
downplay his findings about global
climate change when discussing them
publicly.
 In other federal agencies similar
complaints surface at times when
scientific findings conflict with Bush
Administration political views.
 Congressional hearings confirm Hansen
complaints and NASA spokesman
George C. Deutsch resigns when it is
learned that he had lied about his
credentials and had never completed
college. The 24-year-old from Texas had
been appointed after working on the Bush
election campaign.
A New Millennium
National Security Concerns
 While the Bush administration
officially downplays the dangers of
climate change the intelligence
community begins to recognize the
dangers that it could bring as
nations come to grips with failing
crops, catastrophic weather
changes, and disappearing
resources.
 Global climate change becomes part
of the National Intelligence
Assessment, an official report of the
threats to the security of the United
States. Dr. Thomas Fingar reports to
Congress in 2008. The hearings are
covered by the press.
A New Millennium
An “Inconvenient” Awakening
 Vice President Al Gore begins to
lecture on the topic of global
climate change and is asked if his
presentation might be incorporated
by a filmmaker into a documentary.
 “An Inconvenient Truth” is released
in 2006 and becomes a hit. The film
wins an Academy Award for Best
Documentary.
 Al Gore and the IPCC jointly win the
Nobel Peace Prize for efforts in
brining global climate change to
public awareness and international
action.
 President Bush acknowledges that
human activity may contribute to
global warming.
A New Millennium
A New Political Landscape
 The presidential elections of 2008
become a race for change.
 Senator Barak Obama focuses on
climate change and alternatives to
fossil fuels as the key to success for
America.
 Senator John McCain agrees but
chooses to emphasize additional fossil
fuel development. “Drill baby drill”
becomes a common chant at McCainPalin rallies.
 Gasoline tops $4 and even oil
billionaire T. Boone Pickens sets forth
plans for energy alternatives.
A New Millennium
A New Administration and Awareness
 Economic disaster in the U.S. becomes
the focus of political campaigns and
Sen. Barack Obama is elected decisively.
 At his inauguration Obama pledges to
support development of new
technologies that will lead to energy
independence and a decrease in CO2
emissions in the United States – more
difficult to justify as oil prices drop.
 Kenneth Cohen, Exxon's vice president
of public affairs says "there is no
question that human activity is the
source of carbon dioxide emissions." He
emphasizes that Exxon will work with
policy groups and universities to find
new ways to lower greenhouse gases
while producing energy.
A New Millennium
New Directions
 Congress begins deliberations on
economic bill to begin to address
economic concerns.
 Funding for alternative energy
development is included in house version
of stimulus package.
 As international talks continue 190 square
miles of ice shelf on the Antarctic coast
breaks away into the sea.
 New York Times columnist, economist
Tom Friedman, and others warn of global
weather impacts from global “weirding.”
He calls for a green revolution to develop
new technologies to solve the problem and
revive the U.S. economy.
A New Millennium
New Opinions and Lost Ground
 Rasmussen Reports, a political polling firm
that monitors public opinion about the
causes of global climate change. In July
2006, 46% of voters said global warming is
caused primarily by human activities, while
just 35% of voters said they believe it is due
to long term planetary trends.
 On January 19th the group released its most
recent findings on public opinion about
global climate change. It found that now
more voters believe that warming is a result
of normal planetary fluctuations than from
human causes. Those who believe it is
caused by people dropped to 41% while
those who believe the converse rose to 44%.
A New Millennium