“The Uncertain Headline” Dec. 2010

WAMC audio for “The Uncertain Headline”

Steven A. Leibo professor of international history & politics

I must say this is getting discouraging. For months now I have been saying that by the first week in January the international media would be reporting that 2010 was the hottest year in modern recorded history.  indeed, I have been telling students and WAMC listeners alike that they most probably would be doing so given that every month since January has been making some sort of heat record, 2010  looked very likely to pass 2005, as the hottest year on record.

But now, it is not at all certain, that we will get that all important headline. Sure, the national climatic data center says that thus far 2010 was the hottest year on record. And NASA says we have had the hottest January to November on record.  But it still seems less than certain that 2010 will beat 2005 overall as the hottest year ever recorded. O.k. maybe it seems like I am nit picking here. But we really do need an easy to understand headline that papers might print in headline banners.

Oh, it’s not that I want humanity to move even deeper into the catastrophe of manmade climate change — with its greater storms, drying lands…and tropical diseases flowing ever further north.  But our problem right now is not climate change but people, especially Americans  just not getting it. Just not understanding how serious the threat is. And in the face of all this freezing snow in parts of the northern hemisphere    —  we especially need that headline.

We need that headline because all this obvious cold seems so contradictory to the idea of global warming   even if the complexities of earth’s atmospheric forces makes such regional cold snaps even more likely with a warming world. Tom Friedman of the NY times does not call all this “global weirding” for nothing, a point even Hollywood tried to explain with that wonderfully fun film a few years ago, “The Day After Tomorrow”  as our main characters froze in a world of global warming.

But, realistically, who after all, is going to buy that explanation without a least a seminar on climate science under their belt. No we need that headline,  that simple wake up newspaper headline;

“Hottest Year in Recorded History”

to move the ball forward on confronting this humanities greatest global challenge. And especially so as the suicidal republican/tea party types arrive in congress next week ready to drag our nation deeper into yet another period  of McCarthy like red scare baiting; only this time attacking the integrity of climate scientists for their temerity  in trying to warn us of the impending dangers.

Yes, the suicidal republican party, suicidal because they are dragging all of us closer to the abyss with their naïve whole sale swallowing of the  fossil fuel industry’s denial campaign.

And the party’s suicidal embrace of a policy that will see the younger voters among us turning away from the grand old party in their millions as the full impact of humanities build up of green house gases starts hitting America even harder. Even as the republicans soon find themselves  tarred as the party that made the situation even worse.

No, for all those who care about our future and those of our children. And even for those who care about the long term viability of the America’s venerable, if somewhat gullible conservative wing. It’s going to be a really pity if we don’t end up sometime after New Years with that all important motivational headline:

‘Hottest Year In Recorded History”


p.s  by January eleventh we learned that 2010 had tied 2005 as the hottest year. Unfortunately, we did not get many useful headlines out of that!

About Steven Leibo

This entry was posted in American Politics, The Climate Crisis, WAMC Northeast Public Radio Commentaries. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “The Uncertain Headline” Dec. 2010

  1. Dan Tagliento says:

    At the first sounding of heads up warnings of pending changes of Global Weather Patterns, the predictions called out wild and extremes happening in weekly conditions. Specificly that regional weather would be going from extremes in temperatures, hot to cold, cold to hot within a matter of days, which would be out of the norm. The intensity of these storms would set records. That seems to be the case of what we are experiencing. Our experiening 8 of the hottest 10 hottest years of world temperatures in the current decade, does support a major change.

    Could they, those ‘Non-Believers’ provide an opinion of the socialistic-like re-distrubution of North America’s surface potable water quanities to various parts of the world going on presently?

    So many detractors dismiss all these events as naturally occurences which visit the Planet on a regular timetable. Good for them, they have nothing at all to worry about! Maybe they can at least start work on improving the taste of a “New and Improved” ‘Solvent Green’ and a condensed potable water!

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