And Yet It Does Move…
On this day in 1633, Galileo Galilei was forced by the Catholic Church to recant his endorsement of Nicolaus Copernicus’ claim that the earth revolves around the sun. He was threatened with torture and sentenced to life in prison, finally ending up with a life sentence of house arrest after promising never to mention his ideas ever again.
How far we have come. Today, nobody gets tortured and the people in power embrace science… just not in America.
Legend has it that Galileo got his sentence commuted to house arrest by keeping his cool, but never truly abandoning his beliefs. "Eppur si muove," he supposedly said of the earth. "And yet it does move."
And now, 373 years later, it is clear the earth itself was keeping its cool back then as well. The National Research Council released a 155-page report today, in which they claim:
Surface temperature reconstructions for periods prior to the industrial era are only one of multiple lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that climatic warming is occurring in response to human activities, and they are not the primary evidence.
In summary, large-scale surface temperature reconstructions are proving to be important tools in our understanding of global climate change. They contribute evidence that allows us to say, with a high level of confidence, that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries.
If you haven’t seen Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth" yet, go see it. You will leave the theater knowing both that we can rise to this challenge and also that we never will as long as we’re putting people like George Bush in power.
Bush was willing to say that we, as a nation, are "addicted to oil." But our leaders are addicted to money from the oil industry. Next week, another film will be released: "Who Killed the Electric Car?" The documentary shows how companies like GM built electric cars in response to zero-emission legislation in California, only to put them in a giant shredder as soon as the federal government came to the oil industry’s rescue and overruled the state legislature. The cars were destroyed before any real attempt was made to market them to the public.
On Tuesday, the Smithsonian removed a GM EV1 — one of the only surviving models in existence — from public display. The museum and GM deny it has anything to do with the film. What is replacing the EV1? A robotic SUV.
They’ve destroyed their electric cars and are instead promoting their existing gas-guzzlers, like the Hummer, by offering $1.99 per gallon gas cards. How’s that working out for them? While the Smithsonian was spiriting away the EV1, GM’s debt rating was downgraded "deeper into junk territory."
Simply stated, there are no good economic arguments against trying to save the planet. As Gore says, all it takes is "political will." But that will is sorely lacking in Washington. Just today, friend to Jack Abramoff and oil, Richard Pombo (R-CA), pushed a bill through his House Resources Committee, "a measure that partially lifts a 25-year-old federal ban on offshore drilling and lets Virginia and other coastal states determine if they want to drill close to shore."
We have to get responsible people back in office. The shortsighted GOP is incapable of addressing the grave problem undeniably facing the planet. General Motors, the Republicans in Congress and the oil industry are pretending that the electric car isn’t a viable option.
And yet it does move.
Update: Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in I.M. Pei’s magnificent facilities in Boulder, Colorado, also released a study today, in which they conclude that global warming was responsible for half of the increase in hurricane strength in 2005. The science is in. The time for action is now.