Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day 2009. This is an annual event, held every October 15, with a goal of encouraging an outpouring of simultaneous comment on an important issue calling for global action. This year, the designated subject is climate change.

Back in January, I wrote a blog post summarizing my position on climate change. Entitled Pascal’s Wager and Climate Change, the post makes the argument that even if you’re a skeptic about climate change or humanity’s role in causing it, the risks of ignoring the issue are great, and the benefits from addressing it are significant even if scientists are completely wrong about the causes. What I wrote in January still seems sound, so please go back to the original post, linked above, to review my argument and the vibrant comment thread.

In the meantime, here are a couple of my favorite climate-change related resources:

  • <a href=http://greenmonk.netGreenmonk. Greenmonk is a good blog, but I also love their mission of providing advisory services to companies trying to develop climate change strategies.
  • RealClimate, which bills itself as providing “Climate science from climate scientists”, and delivers.

  •, a site created by my son-in-law Saul Griffith to help people understand the math and engineering concepts around energy use and climate change. It’s amazing how many people talk about the issue without understanding the basic units with which energy is measured.
    Wattzon is another site that Saul created to help people quantify the energy they use. From what I can see, users way under-report their actual energy consumption, but the ideas, presentations, and posts on the site are extraordinarily informative.

  • Worldchanging, a site that doesn’t just cover climate change, but focuses on technologies and practices with positive global impact.

Feel free to supply additional links (pro- and con-) in the comments. And if you care about the issue (you should!), write your own Blog Action Day post.

  • It’s not a very convincing argument. It doesn’t really change how people behave, just how they notionally believe. I have a feeling neither Gaia or God will accept such half measures.

  • bobbrew

    It is the height of unscientifically educated arrogance to believe global warming or cooling can be significantly impacted by altering anthropogenic inputs to the environment. While efforts to reduce those imputs would be beneficial aand should be pursued, the costs to do so should be moderate. Cap and Trade will dwarf those costs and should be avoided! The most economical and effective way to reduce emissions and generate the power we need is nuclear. Now, let the unscientific among you start the over blown nuclear waste argument.

  • Frank Ch. Eigler

    If only all the energy spent on “blog action” could result in some heat to take this early snow away.

  • Special K

    Once the deep mystery of “climate change” has been solved
    And “What’s green and causes CC?” is no longer a popular riddle,
    The legacy of the era most likely will be:
    “Never in recorded history have so many made so much over so little”.
    (With apologies to the late, great Winston Churchill).

  • Two storms hit us two weeks ago, the effect to us was devastating. Until now, we’re sweeping the streets from mud and the tons of ruined appliances destroyed by the twin-storm. Some are still flooded, many are left homeless and some lost their loved ones. They are seeing four more storms coming this year. This is not usual. News said its all because of global warming/climate change. I use to be blithely about the issue, but after these storms, I thought to myself I need to do something too. I think to solve the global warming problem, it must be stormed at the national and international levels.But the total success is built upon the action of every individual, regardless of nationality, to conserve energy and focused on living in a greener, cleaner community. Thank you for this post. Happy Blog Action Day! :-)

  • 40 Shades of Green

    How many years of no warming (ie flat temperature trends as measured by the satellites) would it take to convince you that it is not happening.

    Currently we are at 11 years. If 11 years is not enough, how many is? Fifteen, twenty, Thirty, Fifty?

  • 40 Shades of Green –

    You obviously didn’t read my Pascal’s Wager post. I believe that most of the things we can do to avert risks of global warming are good for us, regardless.

    Given the seriousness of even a small risk that those warning of anthropogenic climate change are right, it still seems like a no-brainer to me to invest in alternative energy.

    If climate change doesn’t bring an end to our current profligacy with energy, peak oil will. Preparing for a non-fossil-fuel energy future is a great investment.

  • For anyone who doubts climate change please read my blog action day post
    Responses to questions and objections on climate change. It’s a good place to send your skeptical friends and colleagues — at least as a starting point for whetting their intellectual appetite to learn more (or, as a quick answer to blog comments).

  • Aizen, that’s a great post! John Mashey has also been putting together a list of common myths:

    But we really need to get beyond these tiresome arguments about whether climate change is real, and get on and develop the solutions. Tim, are you involved in the Random Hacks of Kindness event planned for COP15? ( If not, you should be!

  • In the run up to the Copenhagen climate change conference, it is vital the following information be disseminated to the public as well as to our political leaders.

    A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to livestock….however recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang co-authors of “Livestock and Climate Change” in the latest issue of World Watch magazine found that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions!

    The main sources of GHGs from animal agriculture are: (1) Deforestation of the rainforests to grow feed for livestock. (2) Methane from manure waste. – Methane is 72 times more potent as a global warming gas than CO2 (3) Refrigeration and transport of meat around the world. (4) Raising, processing and slaughtering of the animal.

    Meat production also uses a massive amount of water and other resources which would be better used to feed the world’s hungry and provide water to those in need.

    Based on their research, Goodland and Anhang conclude that replacing livestock products with soy-based and other alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. They say “This approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations-and thus on the rate the climate is warming-than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

    The fact is that we are being informed of the dangerous path we are on by depending greatly on animal flesh for human consumption. We still have the opportunity to make the most effective steps in saving ourselves and this planet. By simply choosing a plant based diet we can reduce our carbon foot print by a huge amount.

    We are gambling with our lives and with those of our future generations to come. It’s madness to know we are fully aware of the possible consequences but yet are failing to act.

    Promoting a plant based diet to the public is would be the most effective way to curb deforestation, we hope this will be adopted as a significant measure to save the rainforests and protect the delicate ecology.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  • Mike

    I am stumped by those that are convinced of even the possibility of the catastrophic global warming scenario – ie. Florida under water.

    If CO2 emission from fossil fuels is the cause, why aren’t those believers screaming for nuclear power all across America immediately.

    It’s safe, environmentally friendly, green job creating, economically viable already, and it is the only technology readily able to replace coal fired plants.

    Blind, knee-jerk opposition to nuclear power makes those concerned about CO2 caused global warming look as though they have alternative motives.

    Of course, the reply will be that I am a whore for the industry. Let’s hear it.

  • Actually, Mike, a great many of those concerned about global warming are indeed calling for nuclear power. (See for example Stewart Brand’s new book, The Whole Earth Manifesto: an Eco-Pragmatist Handbook.)

    You’re spending too much time demonizing those who you think don’t agree with you to notice what they actually believe.

  • Mike


    I’ll check out the Manifesto.

    Wish Al Gore would do the same, and regret that Mr. Obama has chosen to oppose. (Speaking of Demonizers…)

  • duke

    How many years of no warming ) would it take to convince you that it is not happening.

  • Tim O'Reilly

    Duke –

    Take a look at all the temperature graphs. There are lots of up and down spikes. That’s why they call it a warming TREND.

  • Lewis Dobson

    Hello, although from the United Kingdom I do have an interest in the impacts of climate change/global warming and whenever it crops up anywhere, including politics i have to get involved, not only that i do own a U.K weather website.

    Fantastic post, it made a great read and i will be sure to bookmark this, thanks.

    Lewis D

  • Thys

    My brother works at an NGO here in South Africa and he is constantly advising government about sustainable eneregy.

    The problem we have here in South Africa, and which probably goes for the rest of the world, is that governments only look at it seriously if they know how they can make money out of it.

    Regardless of the fact that you would have nowhere to spend the money if we succomb to the problems of climate change.

    Not taking climate change seriously is like gambling online. Ignorance and the hope that everything will be fine, will leave you broke and broken very quickly.

    We have had a positive response from the public over the past few months however to these problems and more and more people are jumping on board to turn this around.

    However in order for us to really send this ship in the right direction (away from the melting icebergs) government needs to drop their selfish act and get on board and steer the ship to safety.

    Sadly only time will tell if that will happen.

  • Shaun T

    Thanks for the climate resources. is a great site. It’s really hard to know what to believe when it comes to the global warming argument. I hear such convincing arguments from both sides. But to ignore the topic is just insanity.