The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery
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QUOTATIONS - CLIMATE CHANGE

Averting catastrophic global warming requires completely overturning the status quo, changing every aspect of how we use energy -- and doing so in under four decades. Failure to do so means humanity's self-destruction.
- Joe Romm, Straight Up, 2010

If the climate was a bank, they would already have saved it.
- Hugo Chavez, from Copenhagen, December 2001

If you think the partisan divide over healthcare reform is ugly, take a look at the animus in the Senate as debate continues on a key climate change bill. So wide is the gulf that long-held Senate traditions on decorum are breaking down. And as Washington fiddles, the Earth burns.
- New York Times Editorial, November 2009

One would have to be blind not to see what the photographs show us of climate change. And where does this lead? I think there can be no other answer than a cutback, either voluntarily or enforced, in our material culture. It is going to come as a great shock to Americans who have grown up with SUVs, cheap gasoline, uninsulated houses, and rampant consumerism.
- William R. Polk, 2009

A warming and drying climate across the southwestern United States could eventually make major cities in the region uninhabitable.... With severe drought from California to Oklahoma, a broad swath of the Southwest is basically robbed of having a sustainable lifestyle.
- Earthweek, March 7, 2009

Oh Lord, make me carbon-neutral, but not yet.
- Carl Mortished, Times online, May 2009

Climate change is one of a number of stresses we're facing, but it's overshadowed by global population growth and the amount of water, land and energy needed to grow food to meet the projected increase in population. We are facing a world population crisis.
- Shahbaz Khan, UNESCO chief of sustainable water resources development, July 2008

Damn! I think we just passed the last exit for the Holocene!
I'm sorry, honey, I wasn't looking.
We have to get off this highway. What's the next exit?
It's a long way ahead. Goes to somewhere called Perdition.
(Ragged chorus from the back seat) Are we there yet, Daddy?

- Gwynn Dyar, July 8, 2008

I disagree with people who say "the [climate change] science is settled." But that's where the agreement ends. The science isn't settled - it's unsettling, and getting more so every year as the scientific community learns more about the catastrophic consequences of uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions. The big difference I have with the doubters is that they believe the IPCC reports seriously overstate the impact of human emissions on the climate - whereas the actual observed climate data clearly show they dramatically understate the impact.
- Joseph Romm, Grist, 2/27/08

The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming. Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.
- Jay Zwally, NASA climate scientist, December 2007

We have failed to meet nature's deadline. In the next few years, this world will experience progressively more ominous and destabilizing changes. We will soon be confronted by water shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather events, collapsing infrastructures, and, potentially, breakdowns in the democratic process itself.
- Ross Gelbspan, Grist, December 2007

Parents who have more than two children should be charged a lifelong climate change tax to offset the effect of their extra greenhouse gas emissions. They should pay 5,000 dollars a head for each extra child and up to 800 dollars every year thereafter. In contrast, contraceptives and sterilisation procedures would be eligible for carbon credits.
- Professor Barry Walters, King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth Australia, December 2007

If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains - no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species
- James Hansen, testimony to the Iowa Public Utilities Board, November 2007

The Arctic Ocean opens up because of our profligate use of fossil fuels, and what's the first thing we think about? Going up there and looking for more fossil fuels.
- Thomas Homer-Dixon, George Ignatieff Chair in Peace and Conflict Studies, November 2007

No company will make carbon-neutral cement any time soon. The manufacturing process depends on burning vast amounts of cheap coal to heat kilns to more than 1,500C. It also relies on the decomposition of limestone, a chemical change which frees carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Cement plants and factories across the world are projected to churn out almost 5bn tonnes of carbon dioxide annually by 2050. Concrete is the second most used product on the planet, after water, and almost half of it is produced in China.
- David Adam, The Guardian, October 12, 2007

Last night, the Yankees lost a playoff game because of mayflies. Mayflies in October?
- Leanan, The Oil Drum, October 6, 2007

The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change, and the disease is the capitalist development model.
- Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Republic de Bolivia, September 24, 2007

For all this talk, we are still heading steadfastly in the direction of an avoidable climate catastrophe.
- Kevin Watkins, The Guardian, September 26, 2007

Climate Change is not just another issue in this complicated world of proliferating issues. It is the issue that, unchecked, will swamp all other issues.
- Ross Gelbspan, The Heat Is On

Birds, animals, insects and even plants are on the move around the Earth, trying to flee new and increasingly inhospitable local weather conditions. For some, including alpine species and polar bears, there is nowhere to go. And many others, like plants, lack the mobility to stay ahead of changing climatic conditions.
- Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service, May 2007, reporting on an open letter to Canada by 1,500 scientists asking that deforestation of Canada's boreal forests cease, May 2007

Even if we have not yet reached the tipping point, the vast momentum of industrial society will soon carry us crashing through it and dash any hope of arresting a deadly planetary heat wave that will wreck civilization as we know it.
- James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia: Earth's Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity

If the glaciers disappear, then the oases will also disappear.
- Yao Tandong, Director Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, May 2007

[Members of G-8] pledge to limit the global temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit...and agree to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. (removed)
- Draft proposal for a Group of Eight (G-8) summit climate change declaration; deletion sought by the United States, May 2007

We underline that tackling climate change is an imperative, not a choice. We firmly agree that resolute and concerted international action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and sustain our common basis of living. (removed)
- Draft proposal for a Group of Eight (G-8) summit climate change declaration; deletion sought by the United States, May 2007

Though the United States is the world's top producer of greenhouse gases, only 13 percent of congressional Republicans believe in human-caused global warming, and 13 percent of Americans have never even heard of the phenomenon. One might wonder what planet these folks are on. Unfortunately, it's the one we all share.
- Marilyn Berlin Snell, Sierra Magazine, May 8, 2007

You can't talk to the ocean and tell him, "You're a loser." Because it's got more power, I guess, than we've got in our heads.
- Daniel Iyatunguk Mayor of Shishmaref, quoted by Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2001 [re. ocean encroachment on the town of Shishmaref resulting from global warming]

Four countries whose governments are dominated by corporate interests - the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Japan - managed to reduce a conversation about the fate of the world and the future of energy into concepts like "restrictions" and "protecting our way of life." These four countries, which were acting as surrogates for mining, oil, gas, and car companies, managed to stop a worldwide environmental agreement dead in its tracks.
- Paul Hawken, re. the 2000 meeting on climate change at the Hague, from an interview with Paul Hawken by Renee Lertzman, quoted in The Sun, April 2002, 6

Journalist Mickey Kaus summed up the attitude of the White House to global warming as: It's not true! It's not true! And we can't do anything about it!
- From Matthew Engel, The Guardian, October 24, 2003

Global warming threatens our health, our economy, our natural resources, and our children's future. It is clear we must act.
- Eliot Spitzer, New York Attorney General, July 2004, quoted by John Carey and S.R. Shapiro, "Global Warming," Business Week, August 16, 2004

Ultimately, the labor movement in this country needs to become positively engaged in efforts to address climate change. They need to recognize that, if done properly, reducing greenhouse gases will not be detrimental to labor. On the contrary, it will spawn industries and create jobs that we don't have now.
- Josh Reichert, Pew Foundation [Note it is the responsibility of the environmental community to make this connection, not labor]

The deep oceans are warming, the tundra is thawing, the Glaciers are melting, infectious diseases are migrating, and the timing of the seasons has changed. All that has resulted from only one degree [Fahrenheit] of warming.
- Ross Gelbspan, Toward a Global Energy Transition (2003)

We are as a society in denial over the toxic sludge pool where climate change (or global warming) meets Middle Eastern energy dependence. On this, our future rests. If someone doesn't get to the frontlines of planetary security soon, we may be living not just with one feral city [New Orleans], but on a feral continent, part of a feral world.
- "At the Front of Nowhere at All," "The Perfect Storm and the Feral City" By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, September 4, 2005

We're all in the same global boat - racing the rapids of capatilism, low on fuel and overheating.
- Colin Tudge, The Guardian Review, 2006

It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.
- Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (2006)

Climate change isn't in the future; it's in the right now.
- Lisa Hymas, report on the 4th IPCC report, April 2007

If we don't cure cancer, the world will stay the same. If we don't cure AIDS, the world will stay the same. But if we don't solve this problem [global warming] in the next 20 years, from a scientific viewpoint, the world is not ever going to be the same.
- Nathan Lewis, Emerging Technologies Conference, September 2006

Climate change not only raises ethical questions, but the most profound ones - literally matters of life and death, who's going to survive, the fate of nation states, obligations of one nation to another, of the rich and the poor, and who is to be involved in the decisions.
- Donald Brown, Coordinator, Collaborative Program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change (EDCC), November 2006

This time we've pushed the earth too far. It's going too fast, we will burn. Our global furnace is out of control. By 2020, 2025, you will be able to sail a sailboat to the North Pole. The Amazon will become a desert, and the forests of Siberia will burn and release more methane and plagues will return.
- James Lovelock, September 2006

It's the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit [by climate change].
- Rajendra Pachauri, chairman, International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 4th report, April 2007

The most important question about global warming right now is: what do I do once I've changed the damned lightbulbs?
- Bill McKibben, Grist Magazine, 2007

The greatest climate threat we face may be coming from alarmist computer models.
- Senator James Inhofe (R, Oklahoma), October 2006

Carbon storage is not risk-free but we think the risks are manageable.
- Dr. Philippe Lacour-Gayet

Exxonmobil is a global vandal. They've invested millions of dollars in to trying to confuse the public and muddy the science on climate change. They're a big global greenhouse polluter and they have ruthlessly pursued short-term profits at the expense of the planet.
- Don Henry, Australian Conservation Foundation, September 2006

We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.
- Science and Environmental Policy Project, the Oregon Petition, Chairman, Frederick Seiz 1998

We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of the carbon dioxide increase. Our children will enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed. This is a wonderful and unexpected gift from the Industrial Revolution.
- Science and Environmental Policy Project, the Oregon Petition, Chairman, Frederick Seiz, 1998

THE BOOK

The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery

The American West At Risk summarizes the dominant human-generated environmental challenges in the 11 contiguous arid western United States - America's legendary, even mythical, frontier.

It now faces depletion of many of these resources, and potentially serious threats to its few "renewable" resources.
read more...

Purchase Here at Oxford Press

   

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Dr. Howard G. Wilshire, Geologist; Dr. Jane E. Nielson, Geologist; Richard W. Hazlett, Geologist


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