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The Second Coming of Wake-Up Call

“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.”

H.G. Wells

Once upon a time Pamela Spota and I had a radio show on Carl and Linda Bott’s station, KCNR. So did Doni Chamberlain. Mine was called Wake-Up Call. Doni’s was called A News Café Radio. I think. We broadcast back-to-back from 10 to noon on Saturday mornings for about 18 months or so in 2010 and 2011. We had Doni on one show for the hour, interviewing her about her life. I loved that show and found Doni to be unusually open and honest about her personal challenges and triumphs. I came away from that program with great respect for her, respect that has only grown over the years.

And as of June 1, I am back on the radio, stealing Wake-Up Call from my previous self since he appears to no longer need it. The second coming of Wake-Up Call is a bit more grandiose than the previous version that relied mainly on local guest interviews. I have three types of guests in mind with this effort, two of which I will reveal in a future column (yes, I know…this is called a tease).

I am starting off with some of my favorite people in the universe who share my love of three things: writing, truth and the science behind the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced – human-caused climate change.

My first guest is D.R. Tucker, an old friend and a Boston-based environmental journalist who has written for the Washington Monthly and the Huffington Post, co-hosted the Climate minute podcast with physicist Ted McIntyre of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network and co-hosted The Green Front with former CBS Radio reporter Betsy Rosenberg on the Progressive Radio Network.

Since the show has already been taped and will be broadcast on Tuesday, June 4 from 4 to 5 p.m. on KKRN, 88.5 FM or kkrn.org, I can give you some hints about what we discussed. And perhaps entice you to listen in.

For example, most of ANC readers are probably aware that the media recently made a big deal out of the fact that atmospheric levels of CO2 recently reached 415 parts per million (ppm), higher than it has been for millions of years. They stated this is the highest level it has ever reached, as if that has not been true for every single year since 1958 when Charles David Keeling began measuring it on the pristine peaks of Hawaii at the Mauna Loa Observatory. The reason it is significant is that we have known for about 160 years that CO2 traps heat and we have had clear evidence for over 40 years that our planet would grow warmer as we continue to burn carbon-based fossil fuels like coal and petroleum products like oil, gasoline and methane.

What most people don’t know is that Exxon, one of the wealthiest and most successful corporations on the planet, had an active, unrivaled climate science program in the 1970s which they used to confirm the truth that humans would be heating the planet as they used Exxon’s main product. And they predicted back in 1982 that by 2020, CO2 levels would reach somewhere between 400 to 420 ppm.

And as you know, the predicted heat is here! Five of the hottest years ever recorded occurred in the last five years. And for every 1°C warming, the atmosphere holds seven percent more moisture. Our warmer climate means more droughts and more floods. The last twelve months have brought more rain to the continental U.S. than any 12-month span since they began keeping track 124 years ago.

A hotter world means less ice as any child could predict and April brought us temperatures nearly 40°F warmer than average in the Arctic and the lowest sea ice extent ever recorded. For the whole planet, April was the second hottest April since they began measuring it in 1880 and was the 43rd consecutive April with above average temperature. There have been 412 consecutive months with above average global temperatures. Anyone born after 1985 has never experienced a month cooler than the average for the twentieth century.

And a warmer Arctic means wacky weather for the rest of us in the lower 48. That’s because it distorts the jet stream and triggers extreme weather events.

What is the solution? For forty years, it has been well-understood that treating CO2 as a pollutant and taxing it accordingly will allow the free market to shift the world quickly away from dirty to clean energy sources. Over two years ago, James Baker, George Schultz, Walmart magnate, Rob Walton and others produced the Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.

They wrote, “Mounting evidence of climate change is growing too strong to ignore. While the extent to which climate change is due to man-made causes can be questioned, the risks associated with future warming are too big and should be hedged.”

They added, “Any climate solution should be based on sound economic analysis and embody the principles of free markets and limited government. As this paper argues, such a plan could strengthen our economy, benefit working-class Americans, reduce regulations, protect our natural heritage and consolidate a new era of Republican leadership. These benefits accrue regardless of one’s views on climate science.”

Echoing this, Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster credited for getting all of us to call it climate change instead of global warming, has found that Republicans under the age of 40 support a carbon tax by a seven to one ratio.

I promised Doni and myself I would write shorter pieces so I will stop but I hope you tune into the second coming of Wake-Up Call and let me know what you think!