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A grim message from nature

Theodore Roosevelt called it “the plain duty” of those in power to rise to new challenges and solve them in such ways that their birthright not be destroyed for future children.
“Each generation has certain tasks allotted to it to do,” he said. “Shame to it if it treats the glorious deeds of a generation that went before as an excuse for its own failure to do the peculiar task it finds ready to hand.”
For more than 30 years in our time, the scientific community has warned about dangers to agriculture, land, cities, health and human civilization from rising greenhouse gases.
“With a high degree of confidence” Dr. James Hansen of NASA testified to Congress in the1980s, we know these global-warming risks to be real.
Serious correction of the cause, fossil-fuel combustion, has not occurred.
Atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases is considerably denser as a result, by 40 percent, than before industrialization.
Their continual emission has been accompanied by weather disasters with high costs to people and the natural world.
In the quarter-century ending in 2004, during which carbon dioxide levels were 10 percent lower than the 400 parts per million measured recently, economic losses from “unnatural disasters” reached $1.825 trillion globally, as reported in Die Zeit.
The “glorious deeds” Teddy acknowledged, toward bringing vast material comforts and betterment to people’s lives, were part and parcel of the technological developments enabled through fossil energy.
To allow these social advances to be maintained for future people, the “deeds” now needed require a rapid shifting to non-carbon, renewable energy.
This being readily available, its large-scale adoption is opposed, however, and the global-warming effect of fossil-fuel use denied or minimized, by the corporate industries invested in the latter. Teddy experienced that, too, and minced no words describing examples from his time.
Construction of the Panama Canal, for instance, he said to be “successfully opposed by great commercial interests.”
In order to maintain their trade-route monopoly profits, these “did not wish to see it completed.”
Roosevelt accused them of beclouding the issue in the daily press, using “every form of misrepresentation,” spreading false rumors, and the like, all “seeking to create confusion such as will defer the building of the canal.”
Recent publications by the Union of Concerned Scientists read like a replay of what Roosevelt described.
A February 2012 report, subtitled “How corporations corrupt science at the public’s expense,” documents multiple, ongoing methods, including ghostwriting scientific articles, vilifying scientists and influencing the media, hindering the regulatory process, withholding information from the public or hiding behind corporate-funded groups with benign-sounding names.
A tabulation in a May 2012 report, subtitled “How corporations have influenced the U.S. dialogue on climate science and policy” catalogues approximately $645 million in anti-climate political contributions and lobbying expenditures by utilities, energy and other companies.
These enormous sums were expended in just two years “when several climate change policy proposals were being considered.”
Teddy Roosevelt, a scientist himself and respectful of science, needed again, to prevent our “destroying in advance all hope for the prosperity of our descendants.”