Climate Connections

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

For the last year, NPR and National Geographic have collaborated on Climate Connections, a series about global warming. Reporters traveled around the world, to Antarctica, New Orleans, Amsterdam, and beyond.

Today is Earth Day, and two of NPR's science correspondents, Richard Harris and Christopher Joyce, will join us, to reflect on the year-long series. What have you learned about climate change? What questions do you have about global warming? Did a particular piece stand out to you? Did it change your mind?

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Is there any way to determine how many Greenhouse Gases humans have produced [say, in the years since the harnessing of fire] in the effort to gain the technology that has allowed us to determine such things as the existence of Greenhouse Gases? Also, why aren't humans and human activities considered to be PART OF (as opposed to DESTROYERS OF) The Environment, in exactly the same way that every single other form of life on Earth and their activities are? Finally, what exactly are the Goldilocks-style "just right" temperature and Greenhouse Gas concentrations for the planet and how are those figures determined - and how easy will it be to micromanage the Earth's climate in order to maintain those "just right" numbers?

Sent by David | 2:32 PM | 4-22-2008

I believe current Government policies toward environment & population control can be largely traced to 1980's Reagan Economic adviser Julian Simon (he who called Al Gore "The shallowest intellect in the Congress), author of "The Ultimate Resource" & "Ultimate Resource II" and long time detractor of population control. His 'ultimate resource' was the human intellect, and he maintained that 70's, 80's & 90's predictions of future problems due to, e.g. high price of oil, or running out of oil, or over-population, or global warming, would not be problems because there would be incentive for humans to solve the problems, and the more people there were, the more people there would be working to solve the problem.
HOWEVER, Simon was primarily a population economist, and while he maintained there would be 'problems' in the 'short term,' I can't find where he ever defined just what he meant by 'short term.' He had other unexamined assumptions, also. As a population economist, he would have been used to thinking in terms of many, many generations as the long term, and perhaps 3 - 5 generations as a short term. In other words, problems - like what we're seeing now with food shortages, negative impact on US economy due to high price of oil, resource wars, etc, would be expected to last for 75 - 125 years. He was writing in the mid 1980's, so we're already 1 generation into the problems he predicted. Only 100 years to go!
I think he would have agreed with that ultimate Darwinian, Seven of Nine, and her frequent comment, "They WILL adapt!"

Sent by Janice L. Messer | 3:06 PM | 4-22-2008

Aren't people who say global warming is God's will and whatever happens happens ignoring the concept of free will? We usually have the choice to either not care about our impact on other people and Earth's life systems, or to be good stewards so that a greater power gets to decide when the show is over. Which would a sentient, loving God expect of us?

What this issue boils down to is rapid change, and the risk of acceleration, during a relatively stable, populous, and biodiverse interglacial period. We're lucky to be alive during the holocene, when global-scale climate variability has been modest. Or maybe luck had little to do with it. Let's not screw it up.

Sent by Alex J | 3:06 PM | 4-22-2008

I was sad to hear the final Climate Connections program this afternoon. Amid all the gloom and doom stories that prevail on conventional media-- this program has been bringing us some welcome editorial sunshine (through enviro-friendly UV-filtered NPR interviews)for the past year. Thank you for this thoughtful and thought-provoking look into how the world is experiencing and coming to grips with climate change.

Sent by Patrick | 5:21 PM | 4-28-2008