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Beach Flooding

Flooding of coastal beaches like this one are almost certainly going to be an ongoing phenomenon in the coming decades as warming oceans expand and more landlocked glaciers melt, specially on Greenland. Rising sea levels will displace tens of millions of people, rich and poor alike.

Come Hell & High Water

A conversation author Dr. Joe Romm on the stormy politics of global warming.

By Bill Moore

Dr. Joseph Romm, whom I have meet on several occasions, generously provided me with a review copy of his new book Hell and High Water. But to be perfectly candid, I had a hard time getting through it because it seemed every paragraph, every page revealed some new outrage that just got my dander up.

If it doesn't do the same to you, I'll really be surprised. Not that there are all that many blockbuster revolutions. You can find similar allegations in Ross Gelbspan's global warming books. The difference is the timing, I guess. The problem of global warming seems so much more relevant and the consequences so much more imminent than they did in 2002 when interviewed Gelbspan after he published his first book, The Heat Is On.

My first impression after getting through the opening chapters of Hell and High Water, which deals with the science of global warming -- Romm's PhD is in oceanography, so he knows whereof he speaks -- is how utterly without integrity the "Deniers and Delayers" are, as Romm refers to global warming skeptics. It seems unconscionable that human beings would be so callous and mercenary as to willingly "throw sand in the face of the American public" on this mounting environmental crisis. That obfuscation includes the current American Administration even muzzling its chief climate scientists in order to keep them from telling the facts of global warming.

While Romm doesn't like to impugn others motives, and he concedes that some may genuinely believe that global warming isn't a threat, he said that he has a hard time understanding their stance given the preponderance of evidence against them. It's his view that many of the skeptics don't want to accept the facts because philosophically they are opposed to the solution: government regulation.

[In a recent interview, Senator James Inhofe's press secretary defended global warming skeptics like his boss who see what they consider the hysteria surrounding global warming as a conspiracy by the socialist left to implement one-world government.]

"They don't believe government can solve our problems," Romm stated. "So, when you come to a problem only government can solve, which is to say greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from energy use across the economy. If only government can solve the problem and you don't believe government can solve our problems, then you are much more likely to believe there isn't a problem. That's.. where a lot of them come from. They dislike government more than they worry about the future climate."

He noted that the skeptics "tend to believe the future will take care of itself."

"It's been true for a lot of environmental , that we could wait until we were smarter and could go back and clean-up lake Erie or the Hudson River near where I grew up, but with the climate, the changes may be irreversible, so you can't wait for future generations to fix the problem because you may have crossed the tipping point or a point of no return."

That tipping point might be as little as ten years away, Romm said, though by the time a new Administration takes office in 2009, that decade would, in effect, have shrunk to maybe three or four years in terms of actionable policy and technology. He pointed out that energy consumption infrastructures like cars and power plants can last from 20-80 years.

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