Fighting to keep our eyes on stuff that matters, on today's BradCast we cover several new concerns for voters in upcoming Presidential primary elections in WI, NY and D.C., as well as some surprising new poll numbers, before moving on to the most important story of our time. [Audio link to complete show at bottom of article.]
Climate scientist and author Dr. Michael E. Mann joins us to discuss, among other related matters, the new temperature records that have stunned even folks like him, as new data was released this month on an increase in global heat that scientists are describing as "staggering", "astronomical" and like "something out of a sci-fi movie".
Professor Mann, who heads up the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, tells me that, with this year's El Niño event finally subsiding, scientists had expected global temperatures to decline along with it. "But, instead, the February numbers came in and not only did we not see a cooling off, we saw unprecedented warmth. It was the largest departure from the average for a given month that we've ever seen."
"What was so surprising was just the magnitude of that warmth, basically taking us now into the territory of more than 2 degrees Celsius warming," years earlier than expected, he says, referencing the amount of warming that scientists, worldwide, believe to be a threshold for dangerous and potentially irreversible impacts on humanity and our climate systems. "We're still on track for the globe to exceed that permanently in a matter of decades. What we didn't expect was that we'd actually cross that threshold so soon."
The creator of the infamous "hockey stick graph", and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines explains the new "warning sign" represented by the latest data which, he says, looks like "maybe we accidentally took a temperature from February 2030 from a climate model simulation."
Mann goes on to explain the details of another stunning new report finding that the amount of carbon now being introduced by man into the atmosphere by no parallel on Earth, even going back 66 million years when the planet was 5 degrees Celsius warmer than it is now. That was due to a still-unexplained yet massive carbon release of about 1 billion tons each year for some 4,000 years, resulting in 100,000 years of warming. Now, however, humans are emitting about 10 billion tons of carbon annually and changing the planet much more quickly than during that Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (or PETM) period some 56 million years ago.
"You can think about it as a medical experiment," says Mann, "where a dose was given to a set of patients, and that dose led to near-death. The biosphere nearly died in the sense that we had mass extinctions during the PETM. That was for a dose of one unit. What we're doing now is we're giving the patient ten times that dose. And to expect that we're not going to see similarly bad things happen as a result would be foolhardy. We are literally hitting the system harder than Nature, to our knowledge, has ever hit it."
The good professor, who has long been personally targeted by the Rightwing climate denialist industry also offers a few thoughts on the "bad faith" arguments on climate change by the Koch Brothers and the various Republican Presidential candidates, as well as the corporate mainstream media's (lack of) coverage of this existential threat. And, I'm happy to add, he also shares "a little bit of good news" along with all of this, including details of some tentative new studies suggesting our ability to overcome the looming disasters may not be "as bleak as we once thought."
So there's that, before we finish up today's show with some rather encouraging news about electric cars that might just help a bit with all of the above...
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