THE BLOG
05/03/2013 12:49 pm ET Updated Jul 03, 2013

What Kind of Climate Change Piggy Are You?

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Let's say that by some miracle the pause button has been hit on global warming and we have a new window to save the planet. Under such a scenario, what kind of climate piggy would you be?

Science is clearly telling us that humans are warming the planet to a dangerous degree. Should we keep burning fossil fuels with abandon, we will suffer more extreme climate changes. Some believe we already doomed.

So, any good news out there? Some optimists are looking at how global surface temperatures seemed to have stalled over the last 10 years. The Economist, which is not just any old rag, took a nuanced look at the data in a recent issue:

"Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth's surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO2 put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, 'the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.'

[...]

The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now. It does not mean global warming is a delusion. Flat though they are, temperatures in the first decade of the 21st century remain almost 1 degree C above their level in the first decade of the 20th. But the puzzle does need explaining."

One possible explanation in this apparent heating stall is that the oceans could be taking one for the team, er, mankind. A Reuters story examined how the seas could be absorbing the sharp rise in carbon emissions over the last decade. But we don't know how long the seas can keep this going.

So let's be all optimistic here and believe we might have a brief respite in the onslaught of global warming. If life is a morality play, what would the fellows in the classic tale of the Three Litte Pigs do?

First let's look at the deniers of climate science. They clearly believe we can still party like it's 1899. Don't worry about all the greenhouse gases spewed into the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution because, hey, the last decade has been looking good!

These kind of folks are like the pig who built his house of straw. It is the easiest thing to keep the hydrocarbon party rolling and ignore the warnings that one day the big bad wolf of climate change will come a knocking and a huffin' and a puffin'.

The second group in our survey of pigs (so to speak) are shocked, shocked about climate change. They are generally a good lot, buying hybrid SUVs and recycling most of their Pinot and Chardonnay bottles. But they usually don't agitate for government action. Can't we just muddle through?

Sounds to me like they are building a house of wood. A little stronger, but the big bad wolf is still going to have those fat little piggies for dinner.

OK -- you know where I'm heading. We need to look at this apparent respite in the rise in global temperatures as an opportunity to act. Let's be like that smart piggy who made his house out of brick. He was doing the prudent thing for himself as well as the other foolish guys who eventually were saved by his action.

We can't let this breather in the crisis go to waste. Talk to your lawmakers about what needs to be done, complain to companies that are not part of the solution, sign petitions and take to the streets.

If we act now we can build a stronger and more sustainable future. And, live happily ever after.