Lieber Daniel: Briefe an meinen Sohn (German Edition)

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Lena verliebt sich in den rauen Burschen. Zugegeben, nicht gerade ein Gentleman, aber ein ungeschliffener Diamant More by Arto Paasilinna See more. The Year of the Hare: Suddenly realizing what's important in life with the help of a bunny , a man quits his job and heads to the countryside in this internationally bestselling comic novel. While out on assignment, a journalist hits a hare with his car. This small incident becomes life-changing: Gunnar Huttunen arrives in North Finland after the war and buys a dilapidated mill.

Despite being a decent and hard-working Finn, he is also an outsider and an eccentric: He puts on performances at the mill for local children at which he specialises in imitating animals and making fun of the village notables. Already prejudiced against him by his jibes, the villagers reserve most ire for the howling which Huttunen indulges in at night, which the local dogs join in a delirious chorus.

What started as a scientific story was turning into a political story. This prospect would have alarmed Hansen several years earlier; it still made him uneasy. But he was beginning to understand that politics offered freedoms that the rigors of the scientific ethic denied.

Winesburg, Ohio (Webster's German Thesaurus Edition) Sherwood Anderson

The political realm was itself a kind of Mirror World, a parallel reality that crudely mimicked our own. It shared many of our most fundamental laws, like the laws of gravity and inertia and publicity. And if you applied enough pressure, the Mirror World of politics could be sped forward to reveal a new future. Hansen was beginning to understand that too. But in the fall of , the climate issue entered an especially long, dark winter. And all because of a single report that had done nothing to change the state of climate science but transformed the state of climate politics.

A team of scientist-dignitaries — among them Revelle, the Princeton modeler Syukuro Manabe and the Harvard political economist Thomas Schelling, one of the intellectual architects of Cold War game theory — would review the literature, evaluate the consequences of global warming for the world order and propose remedies.

Then Reagan won the White House. There could be no climate policy, Fred Koomanoff and his associates said, until the academy ruled. A careful, comprehensive solution was being devised. They were eager to learn how the United States planned to act, so they could prepare for the inevitable policy debates. Rafe Pomerance was eager, too. Its scope was impressive: It was the first study to encompass the causes, effects and geopolitical consequences of climate change. The authors did try to imagine some of them: He argued the opposite: There was no urgent need for action. Better to bet on American ingenuity to save the day.

Major interventions in national energy policy, taken immediately, might end up being more expensive, and less effective, than actions taken decades in the future, after more was understood about the economic and social consequences of a warmer planet. Yes, the climate would change, mostly for the worst, but future generations would be better equipped to change with it. The reporters and staff members listened politely to the presentation and took dutiful notes, as at any technical briefing. Government officials who knew Nierenberg were not surprised by his conclusions: He was an optimist by training and experience, a devout believer in the doctrine of American exceptionalism, one of the elite class of scientists who had helped the nation win a global war, invent the most deadly weapon conceivable and create the booming aerospace and computer industries.

America had solved every existential problem it had confronted over the previous generation; it would not be daunted by an excess of carbon dioxide. Nobody believed that he had been directly influenced by his political connections, but his views — optimistic about the saving graces of market forces, pessimistic about the value of government regulation — reflected all the ardor of his party. He worried about the dark undertow of industrial advancement, the way every new technological superpower carried within it unintended consequences that, if unchecked over time, eroded the foundations of society.

New technologies had not solved the clean-air and clean-water crises of the s. Activism and organization, leading to robust government regulation, had. He felt that he was the only sane person in a briefing room gone mad. A colleague told him to calm down. As The Wall Street Journal put it, in a line echoed by trade journals across the nation: Exxon soon revised its position on climate-change research.

The American Petroleum Institute canceled its own carbon-dioxide research program, too. He had various reasons: It lacked a unifying cause. Climate change, Pomerance believed, could be that cause. But its insubstantiality made it difficult to rally the older activists, whose strategic model relied on protests at sites of horrific degradation — Love Canal, Hetch Hetchy, Three Mile Island. How did you protest when the toxic waste dump was the entire planet or, worse, its invisible atmosphere? Observing her husband, Lenore Pomerance was reminded of an old Philadelphia Bulletin ad campaign: Here the scenario was reversed: Pomerance acted cheerful at home, fooling his kids.

She worried about his health. Near the end of his tenure at Friends of the Earth, a doctor found that he had an abnormally high heart rate. Pomerance planned to take a couple of months to reflect on what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Two months stretched to about a year. He brooded; he checked out. He spent weeks at a time at an old farmhouse that he and Lenore owned in West Virginia, near Seneca Rocks.

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Pomerance sat in the cold house and thought. The winter took him back to his childhood in Greenwich. He had a vivid memory of being taught by his mother to ice skate on a frozen pond a short walk from their home. He remembered the muffled hush of twilight, the snow dusting the ice, the ghostly clearing encircled by a wood darker than the night.

Winter, Pomerance believed, was part of his soul.

Wir rufen deine Wölfe ✠ [Modern German folk song][+ english translation]

When he thought about the future, he worried about the loss of ice, the loss of the spiky Connecticut January mornings. He worried about the loss of some irreplaceable part of himself. If science, industry and the press could not move the government to act, then who could? Twenty years ago, there was no lake in this location — the flat tongue of Trift Glacier filled the basin completely, and mountaineers were able to walk across it to get to the other side of the valley.

And we are losing options for action. It is too late to save the glaciers. It was as if, without warning, the sky opened and the sun burst through in all its irradiating, blinding fury. The mental image was of a pin stuck through a balloon, a chink in an eggshell, a crack in the ceiling — Armageddon descending from above.

It was a sudden global emergency: There was a hole in the ozone layer. The klaxon was rung by a team of British government scientists, until then little known in the field, who made regular visits to research stations in Antarctica — one on the Argentine Islands, the other on a sheet of ice floating into the sea at the rate of a quarter mile per year. At each site, the scientists had set up a machine invented in the s called the Dobson spectrophotometer, which resembled a large slide projector turned with its eye staring straight up. After several years of results so alarming that they disbelieved their own evidence, the British scientists at last reported their discovery in an article published in May by Nature.

But by the time the news filtered into national headlines and television broadcasts several months later, it had transfigured into something far more terrifying: Later came fears of atrophied immune systems and blindness. For there was no hole, and there was no layer. Ozone, which shielded Earth from ultraviolet radiation, was distributed throughout the atmosphere, settling mostly in the middle stratosphere and never in a concentration higher than 15 parts per million.

In satellite images colorized to show ozone density, however, the darker region appeared to depict a void. The ozone crisis had its signal, which was also a symbol: It was already understood, thanks to the work of Rowland and his colleague Mario Molina, that the damage was largely caused by the man-made CFCs used in refrigerators, spray bottles and plastic foams, which escaped into the stratosphere and devoured ozone molecules. It was also understood that the ozone problem and the greenhouse-gas problem were linked.

CFCs were unusually potent greenhouse gases. But nobody was worried about CFCs because of their warming potential. They were worried about getting skin cancer. The negotiators failed to agree upon any specific CFC regulations in Vienna, but after the British scientists reported their findings from the Antarctic two months later, the Reagan administration proposed a reduction in CFC emissions of 95 percent.

The speed of the reversal was all the more remarkable because CFC regulation faced virulent opposition. The alliance hounded the E. The few concessions the alliance won, like forcing the E. Senior members of the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization, including Bert Bolin, a veteran of the Charney group, began to wonder whether they could do for the carbon-dioxide problem what they had done for ozone policy. The organizations had been holding semiannual conferences on global warming since the early s.

But in , just several months after the bad news from the Antarctic, at an otherwise sleepy meeting in Villach, Austria, the assembled 89 scientists from 29 countries began to discuss a subject that fell wildly outside their discipline: An Irish hydrology expert asked if his country should reconsider the location of its dams. A Dutch seacoast engineer questioned the wisdom of rebuilding dikes that had been destroyed by recent floods.

Bruce was a minister of the Canadian environmental agency, a position that conferred him the esteem that his American counterparts had forfeited when Reagan won the White House. Just before leaving for Villach, he met with provincial dam and hydropower managers. In 20 years, will the rain be falling somewhere else? Bruce took this challenge to Villach: What am I supposed to tell him? People are hearing the message, and they want to hear more. So how do we, in the scientific world, begin a dialogue with the world of action? The world of action.

For a room of scientists who prided themselves as belonging to a specialized guild of monkish austerity, this was a startling provocation. On a bus tour of the countryside, commissioned by their Austrian hosts, Bruce sat with Roger Revelle, ignoring the Alps, speaking animatedly about the need for scientists to demand political remedies in times of existential crisis. The formal report ratified at Villach contained the most forceful warnings yet issued by a scientific body. Most major economic decisions undertaken by nations, it pointed out, were based on the assumption that past climate conditions were a reliable guide to the future.

But the future would not look like the past. Fortunately there was a new model in place to achieve just that. The balloon could be patched, the eggshell bandaged, the ceiling replastered. There was still time. But the lake is surrounded by several high-density cities, including Shanghai, Suzhou and Changzhou, metropolitan areas that have grown rapidly in the past few decades. Rampant sewer dumping and livestock drainage, combined with shifting agricultural practices, allowed the algae blooms to flourish, and now human mismanagement and global warming have entrenched them. Over the past decade, the blooms have significantly expanded, and their season has grown longer.

Yes, Moore clarified — of course, it was an existential problem, the fate of the civilization depended on it, the oceans would boil, all of that. Know how you could tell? Political problems had solutions. And the climate issue had none. Without a solution — an obvious, attainable one — any policy could only fail. No elected politician desired to come within shouting distance of failure.

Which meant that Pomerance had a very big problem indeed. He had followed the rapid ascension of the ozone issue with the rueful admiration of a competitor. Unlike Friends of the Earth, W. Its mission was expansive enough to allow Pomerance to work without interference. Yet the only thing that anyone on Capitol Hill wanted to talk about was ozone. Use ozone to revive climate. The ozone hole had a solution — an international treaty, already in negotiation.

Why not hitch the milk wagon to the bullet train? The problems were related, sure: But it had been difficult enough to explain the carbon issue to politicians and journalists; why complicate the sales pitch? At his suggestion, Pomerance met with Senator John Chafee, a Republican from Rhode Island, and helped persuade him to hold a double-barreled hearing on the twin problems of ozone and carbon dioxide on June 10 and 11, The ozone gang was good.

Robert Watson dimmed the lights in the hearing room. On a flimsy screen, he projected footage with the staticky, low-budget quality of a slasher flick. The footage was so convincing that Chafee had to ask whether it was an actual satellite image. Watson acknowledged that though created by satellite data, it was, in fact, a simulation.

An animation, to be precise. The three-minute video showed every day of October — the month during which the ozone thinned most drastically — for seven consecutive years. The other months, conveniently, were omitted. As the years sped forward, the polar vortex madly gyroscoping, the hole expanded until it obscured most of Antarctica. The smudge turned mauve, representing an even thinner density of ozone, and then the dark purple of a hemorrhaging wound.

As Pomerance had hoped, fear about the ozone layer ensured a bounty of press coverage for the climate-change testimony. But as he had feared, it caused many people to conflate the two crises. It was all panic without a hint of caution: On the second day of the Senate hearing, devoted to global warming, every seat in the gallery was occupied; four men squeezed together on a broad window sill.

Pomerance had suggested that Chafee, instead of opening with the typical statement about the need for more research, deliver a call for action. But Chafee went further: He called for the State Department to begin negotiations on an international solution with the Soviet Union. It was the kind of proposal that would have been unthinkable even a year earlier, but the ozone issue had established a precedent for global environmental problems: After three years of backsliding and silence, Pomerance was exhilarated to see interest in the issue spike overnight.

The old canard about the need for more research was roundly mocked — by Woodwell, by a W. Only now the argument was so broadly accepted that nobody dared object. The ozone hole, Pomerance realized, had moved the public because, though it was no more visible than global warming, people could be made to see it. They could watch it grow on video.

Its metaphors were emotionally wrought: Americans felt that their lives were in danger. An abstract, atmospheric problem had been reduced to the size of the human imagination. It had been made just small enough, and just large enough, to break through. Thomas, said as much the day he signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer the successor to the Vienna Convention , telling reporters that global warming was likely to be the subject of a future international agreement.

Congress had already begun to consider policy — in alone, there were eight days of climate hearings, in three committees, across both chambers of Congress; Senator Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat, had introduced legislation to establish a national climate-change strategy. And so it was that Jim Hansen found himself on Oct.

The convivial mood had something to do with its host. He first heard about the climate problem in the halls of the E. Topping was amazed to discover that out of the E. After leaving the administration, he founded a nonprofit organization, the Climate Institute, to bring together scientists, politicians and businesspeople to discuss policy solutions. Glancing around the room, Jim Hansen could chart, like an arborist counting rings on a stump, the growth of the climate issue over the decade.

Former and current staff members from the congressional science committees Tom Grumbly, Curtis Moore, Anthony Scoville made introductions to the congressmen they advised. There were more than people in all in the old ballroom, and if the concentric rings extended any further, you would have needed a larger hotel. That evening, as a storm spat and coughed outside, Rafe Pomerance gave one of his exhortative speeches urging cooperation among the various factions, and John Chafee and Roger Revelle received awards; introductions were made and business cards earnestly exchanged.

Not even a presentation by Hansen of his research could sour the mood. The next night, on Oct. It all seemed like the start of a grand bargain, a uniting of factions — a solution. He was scheduled to appear before another Senate hearing, this time devoted entirely to climate change. The process appeared entirely perfunctory, but this time, on the Friday evening before his appearance that Monday, he was informed that the White House demanded changes to his testimony. No rationale was provided. Nor did Hansen understand by what authority it could censor scientific findings. The NASA administrator had another idea.

The Office of Management and Budget had the authority to approve government witnesses, she explained. At the hearing three days later, on Monday, Nov. He was careful to emphasize the absurdity of the situation in his opening remarks, at least to the degree that his Midwestern reserve would allow: Assuming that one of the senators would immediately ask about this odd introduction, Hansen had prepared an elegant response. He planned to say that although his NASA colleagues endorsed his findings, the White House had insisted he utter false statements that would have distorted his conclusions.

He figured this would lead to an uproar. But no senator thought to ask about his title. So the atmospheric scientist from New York City said nothing else about it. But the brush with state censorship stayed with Hansen in the months ahead. It confirmed that even after the political triumph of the Montreal Protocol and the bipartisan support of climate policy, there were still people within the White House who hoped to prevent a debate.

In its public statements, the administration showed no such reluctance: By all appearances, plans for major policy continued to advance rapidly. After the Johnston hearing, Timothy Wirth, a freshman Democratic senator from Colorado on the energy committee, began to plan a comprehensive package of climate-change legislation — a New Deal for global warming.

Wirth asked a legislative assistant, David Harwood, to consult with experts on the issue, beginning with Rafe Pomerance, in the hope of converting the science of climate change into a new national energy policy. Southern Hemisphere ozone cover in as mapped by one satellite. In March , Wirth joined 41 other senators, nearly half of them Republicans, to demand that Reagan call for an international treaty modeled after the ozone agreement.

In May, he signed a joint statement with Mikhail Gorbachev that included a pledge to cooperate on global warming. Hansen was learning to think more strategically — less like a scientist, more like a politician. Despite the efforts of Wirth, there was as yet no serious plan nationally or internationally to address climate change. Even Al Gore himself had, for the moment, withdrawn his political claim to the issue.

In , at the age of 39, Gore announced that he was running for president, in part to bring attention to global warming, but he stopped emphasizing it after the subject failed to captivate New Hampshire primary voters. Hansen told Pomerance that the biggest problem with the Johnston hearing, at least apart from the whole censorship business, had been the month in which it was held: At first he assumed that it was enough to publish studies about global warming and that the government would spring into action.

Then he figured that his statements to Congress would do it. It had seemed, at least momentarily, that industry, understanding what was at stake, might lead. But nothing had worked. He grew pale and unusually thin. When she asked him about his day, Hansen replied with some ambiguity and turned the conversation to sports: But even for him, he was unusually quiet, serious, distracted. She knew what he was thinking: He was running out of time.

We were running out of time. It was the hottest and driest summer in history. Everywhere you looked, something was bursting into flames. Two million acres in Alaska incinerated, and dozens of major fires scored the West. Yellowstone National Park lost nearly one million acres. Smoke was visible from Chicago, 1, miles away. In Nebraska, suffering its worst drought since the Dust Bowl, there were days when every weather station registered temperatures above degrees.

The director of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment warned that the drought might be the dawning of a climatic change that within a half century could turn the state into a desert. Tommy Thompson banned fireworks and smoking cigarettes outdoors, the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers evaporated completely. Harvard University, for the first time, closed because of heat.

Ducks fled the continental United States in search of wetlands, many ending up in Alaska, swelling the pintail population there to 1. Jesse Jackson, a Democratic presidential candidate, stood in an Illinois cornfield and prayed for rain, but it did not rain. Crow Dog claimed to have performed rain dances, all successful. Texas farmers fed their cattle cactus. Stretches of the Mississippi River flowed at less than one-fifth of normal capacity. Roughly 1, barges beached at Greenville, Miss. The on-field thermometer at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, where the Phillies were hosting the Chicago Cubs for a matinee, read degrees.

During a pitching change, every player, coach and umpire, save the catcher and the entering reliever, Todd Frohwirth, fled into the dugouts. Frohwirth would earn the victory. On June 22 in Washington, where it hit degrees, Rafe Pomerance received a call from Jim Hansen, who was scheduled to testify the following morning at a Senate hearing called by Timothy Wirth. He was the one who tended to worry about press; Hansen usually claimed indifference to such vulgar considerations. Hansen had just received the most recent global temperature data.

Just over halfway into the year, was setting records. Already it had nearly clinched the hottest year in history. Ahead of schedule, the signal was emerging from the noise. If the ice sheet melts entirely, sea levels would rise 20 feet, leaving Lower Manhattan underwater. Jason Gulley, a geologist, and Celia Trunz, a Ph. So far, they have found that the rivers lubricate the ice slab, making the sheets move faster toward the coasts, which could cause even more icebergs to calve into the ocean. The night before the hearing, Hansen flew to Washington to give himself enough time to prepare his oral testimony in his hotel room.

The slumping Yankees, who had fallen behind the Tigers for first place, were trying to avoid a sweep in Detroit, and the game went to extra innings. Hansen fell asleep without finishing his statement. He awoke to bright sunlight, high humidity, choking heat. It was signal weather in Washington: One of his early champions at the agency, Ichtiaque Rasool, was announcing the creation of a new carbon-dioxide program.

Hansen, sitting in a room with dozens of scientists, continued to scribble his testimony under the table, barely listening. But he heard Rasool say that the goal of the new program was to determine when a warming signal might emerge. As you all know, Rasool said, no respectable scientist would say that you already have a signal. Senate that the signal has emerged. The other scientists looked up in surprise, but Rasool ignored Hansen and continued his presentation.

Hansen returned to his testimony. Half an hour before the hearing, Wirth pulled Hansen aside. He wanted to change the order of speakers, placing Hansen first.


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Wirth asked those standing in the gallery to claim the few remaining seats available. Then he introduced the star witness. Hansen, wiping his brow, spoke without affect, his eyes rarely rising from his notes. But Hansen had no time to dwell on any of this. As soon as he got home to New York, Anniek told him she had breast cancer. As they weighed treatment options and analyzed medical data, Anniek noticed him begin to change.

The frustration of the last year began to fall away. He began to look like himself again. In the immediate flush of optimism after the Wirth hearing — henceforth known as the Hansen hearing — Rafe Pomerance called his allies on Capitol Hill, the young staff members who advised politicians, organized hearings, wrote legislation. We need to finalize a number, he told them, a specific target, in order to move the issue — to turn all this publicity into policy. What was the right target for carbon emissions?

They needed a hard goal — something ambitious but reasonable. And they needed it soon: Wirth was scheduled to give the keynote address at Toronto — Harwood would write it — and could propose a number then. In all his work planning climate policy, he had seen no assurance that such a steep drop in emissions was possible. Then again, was more than a decade off, so it allowed for some flexibility. He agreed that a hard target was the only way to push the issue forward.

Though his job at the C. Mintzer pointed out that a 20 percent reduction was consistent with the academic literature on energy efficiency. Various studies over the years had shown that you could improve efficiency in most energy systems by roughly 20 percent if you adopted best practices. Of course, with any target, you had to take into account the fact that the developing world would inevitably consume much larger quantities of fossil fuels by But those gains could be offset by a wider propagation of the renewable technologies already at hand — solar, wind, geothermal.

It was not a rigorous scientific analysis, Mintzer granted, but 20 percent sounded plausible. We could manage it with the knowledge and technology we already had. In Toronto a few days later, Pomerance talked up his idea with everyone he met — environmental ministers, scientists, journalists. Nobody thought it sounded crazy. He took that as an encouraging sign. Other delegates soon proposed the number to him independently, as if they had come up with it themselves. That was an even better sign.

Wirth, in his keynote on June 27, called for the world to reduce emissions by 20 percent by , with an eventual reduction of 50 percent. Other speakers likened the ramifications of climate change to a global nuclear war, but it was the emissions target that was heard in Washington, London, Berlin, Moscow. He gave news conferences and was quoted in seemingly every article about the issue; he even appeared on television with homemade props.

Public awareness of the greenhouse effect reached a new high of 68 percent. At the end of the sulfurous summer, several months after Gore ended his candidacy, global warming became a major subject of the presidential campaign. And in a George Bush administration, you can bet that we will. This kind of talk roused the oil-and-gas men. The other great powers refused to wait.

One of the I. James Baker chose the occasion to make his first speech as secretary of state. On April 14, , a bipartisan group of 24 senators, led by the majority leader, George Mitchell, requested that Bush cut emissions in the United States even before the I. Bush had promised to combat the greenhouse effect with the White House effect. The self-proclaimed environmentalist was now seated in the Oval Office. These subtropical forests are home to thousands of large sharks, fish, sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins and dugongs, a mammal related to the manatee.

In , during an extreme, prolonged heat wave, shallow waters in the bay reached 93 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest temperature ever recorded there; an estimated 22 percent of the sea grass disappeared, leaving bare sands in vast areas. They provide the habitat and food for a lot of species. After Jim Baker gave his boisterous address to the I. Leave the science to the scientists, Sununu told Baker. Stay clear of this greenhouse-effect nonsense.

He later told the White House that he was recusing himself from energy-policy issues, on account of his previous career as a Houston oil-and-gas lawyer. Sununu, an enthusiastic contrarian, delighted in defying any lazy characterizations of himself. His father was a Lebanese exporter from Boston, and his mother was a Salvadoran of Greek ancestry; he was born in Havana. In his three terms as governor of New Hampshire, he had come, in the epithets of national political columnists, to embody Yankee conservatism: Chamber of Commerce when they drifted, however tentatively, from his anti-tax doctrinairism.

Yet he increased spending on mental health care and public-land preservation in New Hampshire, and in the White House he would help negotiate a tax increase and secure the Supreme Court nomination of David Souter. Bush had chosen Sununu for his political instincts — he was credited with having won Bush the New Hampshire primary, after Bush came in third in Iowa, all but securing him the nomination.

He lacked the reflexive deference that so many of his political generation reserved for the class of elite government scientists. All were theories of questionable scientific merit, portending vast, authoritarian remedies to halt economic progress. Sununu had suspected that the greenhouse effect belonged to this nefarious cabal since , when the anthropologist Margaret Mead convened a symposium on the subject at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Or as Sununu saw it, she showed her hand: In April, the director of the O. Darman had the testimony and described it. Reilly, took a new proposal to the White House. The next meeting of the I. Bush should demand a global treaty to reduce carbon emissions. It would be foolish, he said, to let the nation stumble into a binding agreement on questionable scientific merits, especially as it would compel some unknown quantity of economic pain.

They went back and forth. He ordered the American delegates not to make any commitment in Geneva. Very soon after that, someone leaked the exchange to the press. Sununu, blaming Reilly, was furious. A deputy of Jim Baker pulled Reilly aside. In the first week of May , when Hansen received his proposed testimony back from the O. Gore had called the hearing to increase the pressure on Bush to sign major climate legislation; Hansen had wanted to use the occasion to clarify one major point that, in the hubbub following the hearing, had been misunderstood.

Global warming would not only cause more heat waves and droughts like those of the previous summer but would also lead to more extreme rain events. But the edited text was a mess. For a couple of days, Hansen played along, accepting the more innocuous edits. With the hearing only two days away, he gave up.

Let the White House have its way, he said. But Hansen would have his way, too. As soon as he hung up, he drafted a letter to Gore. He explained that the O. The most bizarre addition, however, was a statement of a different kind. Hansen faxed his letter to Gore and left the office. When he arrived home, Anniek told him Gore had called.

Would it be all right, Gore asked when Hansen spoke with him, if I tell a couple of reporters about this? On Monday, May 8, the morning of the hearing, he left early for his flight to Washington and did not see the newspaper until he arrived at Dirksen, where Gore showed it to him. The front-page headline read: Gore stopped at the door. In the crowded hearing room, the cameras fixed on Hansen.

After Hansen read his sanitized testimony, Gore pounced. Hansen explained that he had not written those contradictory statements. Another government scientist testifying at the hearing, Jerry Mahlman from NOAA, acknowledged that the White House had previously tried to change his conclusions too. Now Gore had a real villain, one far more treacherous than Fred Koomanoff — a nameless censor in the White House, hiding behind O.

The cameras followed Hansen and Gore into the marbled hallway. Hansen insisted that he wanted to focus on the science. Gore focused on the politics. The White House Effect Fall The day after the hearing, Gore received an unannounced visit from the O. He came alone, without aides. He said he wanted to apologize to Gore in person. He was sorry, and he wanted Gore to know it; the O. Gore, stunned, thanked Darman. It had come from someone above Darman. John Sununu with President George H. Bush in the Oval Office in Darman went to see Sununu. They needed to issue some kind of response. Sununu called Reilly to ask if he had any ideas.

We could start, Reilly said, by recommitting to a global climate treaty. The United States was the only Western nation on record as opposing negotiations. The scope and importance of this issue are so great that it is essential for the U. Sununu signed the telegram himself. A day later, the president pledged to host a climate workshop at the White House. Still, Sununu seethed at any mention of the subject. He had taken it upon himself to study more deeply the greenhouse effect; he would have a rudimentary, one-dimensional general circulation model installed on his personal desktop computer.

He decided that the models promoted by Jim Hansen were a lot of bunk. Sununu complained about Hansen to D. When a junior staff member in the Energy Department, in a meeting at the White House with Sununu and Reilly, mentioned an initiative to reduce fossil-fuel use, Sununu interrupted her. Sununu might have been looking at you, but that was directed at me.

Relations between Sununu and Reilly became openly adversarial. Reilly, Sununu thought, was a creature of the environmental lobby. He was trying to impress his friends at the E. Whenever Reilly sent the White House names of candidates he wanted to hire for openings at the E. So he sent Allan Bromley to accompany him. The president had never taken a vigorous interest in global warming and was mainly briefed about it by nonscientists.

Bush had brought up the subject on the campaign trail, in his speech about the White House effect, after leafing through a briefing booklet for a new issue that might generate some positive press. When Reilly tried in person to persuade him to take action, Bush deferred to Sununu and Baker. Let me know when you decide. But by the time Reilly got to the Noordwijk Ministerial Conference in the Netherlands, he suspected that it was already too late. At least people died, an estimated , people were forced into emergency shelters, , homes were damaged or destroyed and about a third of Bangladesh was submerged.

Areas along the Bay of Bengal, long prone to chronic flooding, have become increasingly uninhabitable. Some project a five-foot rise by , which could displace 50 million people. Rafe Pomerance awoke at sunlight and stole out of his hotel, making for the flagpoles. It was nearly freezing — Nov.

More than 60 flags lined the strand between the hotel and the beach, one for each nation in attendance at the first major diplomatic meeting on global warming. The delegations would review the progress made by the I. There was a general sense among the delegates that they would, at minimum, agree to the target proposed by the host, the Dutch environmental minister, more modest than the Toronto number: Some believed that if the meeting was a success, it would encourage the I.

The mood among the delegates was electric, nearly giddy — after more than a decade of fruitless international meetings, they could finally sign an agreement that meant something. Pomerance had not been among the delegates invited to Noordwijk. Their constituency, they liked to say, was the climate itself. Their mission was to pressure the delegates to include in the final conference statement, which would be used as the basis for a global treaty, the target proposed in Toronto: It was the only measure that mattered, the amount of emissions reductions, and the Toronto number was the strongest global target yet proposed.

The activists booked their own travel and doubled up in rooms at a beat-up motel down the beach. The activists planned to stage a stunt each day to embarrass Bromley and galvanize support for a hard treaty. The first took place at the flagpoles, where they met a photographer from Agence France-Presse at dawn. Performing for the photographer, Boyle and Becker lowered the Japanese, Soviet and American flags to half-staff.

Becker gave a reporter an outraged statement, accusing the three nations of conspiring to block the one action necessary to save the planet. The article appeared on front pages across Europe. On the second day, Pomerance and Becker met an official from Kiribati, an island nation of 33 atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Hawaii and Australia.

Kiribati is a very small place, the man said. If the sea rises, he said, my entire nation will be underwater. Pomerance and Becker exchanged a look. There is no place on Kiribati taller than my head, began the minister, who seemed barely more than five feet tall. So when we talk about one-foot sea-level rise, that means the water is up to my shin. Pomerance and Becker were ecstatic. The minister came over to them. Is that what you had in mind? It was a good start, and necessary too — Pomerance had the sinking feeling that the momentum of the previous year was beginning to flag.

So were the findings of a report Pomerance had commissioned, published in September by the World Resources Institute, tracking global greenhouse-gas emissions. By then, Pomerance worried, it would be too late. The scientists and I. Pomerance and the other activists haunted the carpeted hallway outside the conference room, waiting and thinking. A decade earlier, Pomerance helped warn the White House of the dangers posed by fossil-fuel combustion; nine years earlier, at a fairy-tale castle on the Gulf of Mexico, he tried to persuade Congress to write climate legislation, reshape American energy policy and demand that the United States lead an international process to arrest climate change.

Just one year ago, he devised the first emissions target to be proposed at a major international conference. Now, at the end of the decade, senior diplomats from all over the world were debating the merits of a binding climate treaty. Only he was powerless to participate. He could only trust, as he stared at the wall separating him from the diplomats and their muffled debate, that all his work had been enough.

Rafe Pomerance center and Daniel Becker far right at the Noordwijk meeting in The meeting began in the morning and continued into the night, much longer than expected; most of the delegates had come to the conference ready to sign the Dutch proposal. Each time the doors opened and a minister headed to the bathroom at the other end of the hall, the activists leapt up, asking for an update.

The ministers maintained a studied silence, but as the negotiations went past midnight, their aggravation was recorded in their stricken faces and opened collars. When the beaten delegates finally emerged from the conference room, Becker and Pomerance learned what happened. Bromley, at the urging of John Sununu and with the acquiescence of Britain, Japan and the Soviet Union, had forced the conference to abandon the commitment to freeze emissions.

And with that, a decade of excruciating, painful, exhilarating progress turned to air. The environmentalists spent the morning giving interviews and writing news releases. Pomerance tried to be more diplomatic. Once in place, however, the restrictions could be tightened.

Perhaps the same could happen with climate change. Pomerance was not one for pessimism. As William Reilly told reporters, dutifully defending the official position forced upon him, it was the first time that the United States had formally endorsed the concept of an emissions limit. Pomerance wanted to believe that this was progress. Before leaving the Netherlands, he joined the other activists for a final round of drinks and commiseration. He would have to return to Washington the next day and start all over again.

But Pomerance refused to be dejected — there was no point to it. His companions, though more openly disappointed, shared his determination. One of them, Daniel Becker, had just found out that his wife was pregnant with their first child. She had traveled with Becker to the Netherlands to visit friends before the conference started. One day, their hosts took them on a day trip to Zeeland, a southwestern province where three rivers emptied into the sea.

After a flood in , when the sea swallowed much of the region, killing more than 2, people, the Dutch began to build the Delta Works, a vast concrete-and-steel fortress of movable barriers, dams and sluice gates — a masterpiece of human engineering. The whole system could be locked into place within 90 minutes, defending the land against storm surge.

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The United States coastline was about , kilometers long. How long, he asked, was the entire terrestrial coastline? Because the whole world was going to need this. In Zeeland, he said, he had seen the future. There has been no breakthrough. As with any mature scientific discipline, there is only refinement. The computer models grow more precise; the regional analyses sharpen; estimates solidify into observational data.

Where there have been inaccuracies, they have tended to be in the direction of understatement. Caldeira and a colleague recently published a paper in Nature finding that the world is warming more quickly than most climate models predict. More carbon has been released into the atmosphere since the final day of the Noordwijk conference, Nov.

In , humankind burned more than 20 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. By , the figure had risen to Despite every action taken since the Charney report — the billions of dollars invested in research, the nonbinding treaties, the investments in renewable energy — the only number that counts, the total quantity of global greenhouse gas emitted per year, has continued its inexorable rise. Even some of the nations that pushed hardest for climate policy have failed to honor their own commitments.

When it comes to our own nation, which has failed to make any binding commitments whatsoever, the dominant narrative for the last quarter century has concerned the efforts of the fossil-fuel industries to suppress science, confuse public knowledge and bribe politicians. Exxon, as ever, led the field. The American Petroleum Institute, after holding a series of internal briefings on the subject in the fall and winter of , including one for the chief executives of the dozen or so largest oil companies, took a similar, if slightly more diplomatic, line.

It was joined by the U. Chamber of Commerce and 14 other trade associations, including those representing the coal, electric-grid and automobile industries. It gave briefings to politicians known to be friendly to the industry and approached scientists who professed skepticism about global warming. The chance to enact meaningful measures to prevent climate change was vanishing, but the industry had just begun. In October , scientists allied with the G. Cheap and useful, G. At Rio, George H. Bush refused to commit to specific emissions reductions. The following year, when President Bill Clinton proposed an energy tax in the hope of meeting the goals of the Rio treaty, the A.

The Senate, which would have had to ratify the agreement, took a pre-emptive vote declaring its opposition; the resolution passed There has never been another serious effort to negotiate a binding global climate treaty. But Exxon now Exxon Mobil continued its disinformation campaign for another half decade. This has made the corporation an especially vulnerable target for the wave of compensatory litigation that began in earnest in the last three years and may last a generation.

Tort lawsuits have become possible only in recent years, as scientists have begun more precisely to attribute regional effects to global emission levels. This is one subfield of climate science that has advanced significantly since — the assignment of blame. A major lawsuit has targeted the federal government.

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A consortium of 21 American children and young adults — one of whom, Sophie Kivlehan of Allentown, Pa. In , after reports by the website InsideClimate News and The Los Angeles Times documented the climate studies performed by Exxon for decades, the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York began fraud investigations. Exxon Mobil has denied any wrongdoing and stands by its valuation method. But the automobile industry knew, too, and began conducting its own research by the early s, as did the major trade groups representing the electrical grid. They all own responsibility for our current paralysis and have made it more painful than necessary.

The United States government knew. Roger Revelle began serving as a Kennedy administration adviser in , five years after establishing the Mauna Loa carbon-dioxide program, and every president since has debated the merits of acting on climate policy. Congress has been holding hearings for 40 years; the intelligence community has been tracking the crisis even longer. Tourists in glass-bottomed boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami through feet of tropical water. Everyone knew — and we all still know.


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We know that the transformations of our planet, which will come gradually and suddenly, will reconfigure the political world order. Could it have been any other way? In the late s, a small group of philosophers, economists and political scientists began to debate, largely among themselves, whether a human solution to this human problem was even possible. They did not trouble themselves about the details of warming, taking the worst-case scenario as a given. They asked instead whether humankind, when presented with this particular existential crisis, was willing to prevent it. We worry about the future.

But how much, exactly? The answer, as any economist could tell you, is very little. Economics, the science of assigning value to human behavior, prices the future at a discount; the farther out you project, the cheaper the consequences. This makes the climate problem the perfect economic disaster. The Yale economist William D.

Michael Glantz, a political scientist who was at the National Center for Atmospheric Research at the time, argued in that democratic societies are constitutionally incapable of dealing with the climate problem. The competition for resources means that no single crisis can ever command the public interest for long, yet climate change requires sustained, disciplined efforts over decades.

And the German physicist-philosopher Klaus Meyer-Abich argued that any global agreement would inevitably favor the most minimal action. These theories share a common principle: When I asked John Sununu about his part in this history — whether he considered himself personally responsible for killing the best chance at an effective global-warming treaty — his response echoed Meyer-Abich. If human beings really were able to take the long view — to consider seriously the fate of civilization decades or centuries after our deaths — we would be forced to grapple with the transience of all we know and love in the great sweep of time.

So we have trained ourselves, whether culturally or evolutionarily, to obsess over the present, worry about the medium term and cast the long term out of our minds, as we might spit out a poison. Rafe Pomerance with some of his family. Like most human questions, the carbon-dioxide question will come down to fear. At some point, the fears of young people will overwhelm the fears of the old. Some time after that, the young will amass enough power to act.

It will be too late to avoid some catastrophes, but perhaps not others. Humankind is nothing if not optimistic, even to the point of blindness.