Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore Despairs Climate Change While Winning Nobel Prize

Al Gore Wins Nobel Prize but Despairs About Global Climate Change

by Hardy Jones, Executive Director,

“I just don’t know what to do,” said the former vice president and Nobel Prize winner for his fight to stem the warming of our planet. He repeated the phrase several times. He had just come to Los Angeles from Boulder, Colorado where he’d been told that melting in the Arctic was proceeding at a rate far faster than predicted.

Mr. Gore was speaking to a gathering of members and friends of Oceana, a Washington based, ocean-oriented environmental organization on whose Ocean Council I sit.

The facts Mr. Gore set out were chilling and his repetition of the phrase “I just don’t know what to do. No one is paying attention,” were deeply troubling to many in the audience.

At the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado Mr. Gore had just been told that in every case where scientists had set out a range of predictions on the rate of melting of the Arctic Sea (and scientists are conservative by nature) the actual results had always come in at the top of the forecast range or above it. He was told that where original forecasts had predicted that the Arctic Sea would melt during the summer within 50 – 100 years, the scientists he had met with had recently lowered their predictions to 30 years and then to 20. Now they are predicting this will happen within six years and could actually happen at any time.

For information on this year’s Arctic ice conditions go to

Katrina should have shown us that the day of catastrophic weather change is upon us. But Katrina is being treated as an isolated event. Our attention and money are being sucked up by the war in Iraq and the pressures of everyday life. Measures proposed to slow the production of greenhouse gasses are laughably inadequate. While Europe and North America might be able to roll back greenhouse gas production by a few percentage point in a decade, that pitiful reduction will be overwhelmed by output from China (which already equals the United States in greenhouse emissions) and India.

Make no mistake about it – our planet is undergoing wrenching change. It now harms only those on the periphery of world society – Pacific Islanders, Inuits of Alaska and Canada, citizens of Bangladesh; unless you count the people of the lower Mississippi Valley which you should. But soon the rising seas will flow over all low lying land around the world.

You want to talk about a drop in real estate values - how much will coastal properties be worth from Brownsville to Bangor if the sea rises two feet or if people really start believing that such a sea level rise will take place. You want to talk about real estate becoming illiquid? Well, liquid real estate will be truly illiquid - worth zilch.

As someone who lives in Florida only a few feet above sea level this is of concern. Each time I look out at the magnificent and delicate marshes in the St. Augustine area I marvel at their fragile beauty and wonder how long before they are inundated. BTW, the inventory of unsold properties in St. John's County (just south of Jacksonville) is the highest on record.