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Speaker addresses Climate Denial at GVSU

October 19, 2011

Yesterday, as part of their Sustainability Week, GVSU hosted Michigan native Peter Sinclair, who talked about the issue of global warming.

Sinclair stated that several years ago he became increasingly bothered by the amount of bad and misleading information on global warming. With an interest in media, Sinclair started a video blog called Climate Crocks of the Week.

Here is an example of one of his videos:

As a response to his videos, now numbering around 80, Sinclair says that he knows that many climate scientists and educators are using his videos and several have stepped forward to be advisors for the media work he is doing.

Sinclair then provided some basic data to support the global scientific community’s claim that humans are causing the planet to warm in such a way that it is causing tremendous ecological stress and unnecessary human suffering.

One of the claims of the climate deniers is that not only is the planet not warming, but we are entering into a global cooling period. It is true, as Sinclair noted, that because of the historical cycles of planetary orbiting we should be in a cooling period, but the exact opposite is happening.

Sinclair then showed a map dealing with the Arctic polar region and demonstrated how polar ice caps are melting. In addition to scientific data he says that numerous governments, particularly Russia, is constructing shipping facilities near the Arctic region, because new shipping routes are developing as the ice melts.

Sinclair also says that the two largest ice packs, Greenland and Antarctica, have both been decreasing in size since 2007. Sinclair even cites the US Navy’s chief oceanographer, Admiral Titley, who agrees that the ice packs are melting. Titley’s assessment falls on the conservative estimate side, but Sinclair says that the analysis by James Hansen is most likely more accurate.

Sinclair followed with comments about how there is a growing concern over the impact that global warming will have on places like Greenland and Antarctica, which have ice as much as a mile thick that is holding in a tremendous amount of carbon. The thawing of these areas, which are also referred to as permafrost, would be devastating, since it would release a great deal of carbon and humans would not be able to stop that process once it began. Here is a video with Steven Chu talking about permafrost.

The information that Sinclair shared was solid and in many ways alarming, considering the small window we have as humans to actually prevent cataclysmic outcomes.

However, when Sinclair got to talking about solutions, he responded with the business as usual model. Sinclair said that many large corporations understand the predicament we are in and are making a difference, such as Dow Chemical.  Sinclair even showed a slide on how Dow Chemical is reducing its Carbon foot print.

In many ways hearing him talk about Fortune 500 corporations as part of the solution was quite disheartening, considering how much ecological destruction and human harm Dow has perpetrated. On top of that, by saying that Dow Chemical was reducing its Carbon foot print, it diverts attention to what they do and what there primary motive is. Dow Chemical doesn’t make products in order to promote sustainability, they make products to make a profit within the capitalist model.

Sinclair went on to talk about solar shingles, wind energy and how Michigan could be a leader in green energy jobs creation. When talking about solar shingles he played a commercial from Sungevity, to illustrate a business model that could be a solution.

So, if we save money on home energy costs we should take several trips to a tropical country? This absurdity underscored the extremely flawed solutions part of his presentation. It was most disappointing to know that the students who were in attendance were not exposed to a more systemic critique of what has contributed to global warming and how we can possibly avert a disastrous outcome. Sinclair did not even address the need to stop the main forces of global warming, the oil & coal industries, militarism, agri-business and so much of industrial capitalism.

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