Brookings an Unlikely Purveyor of Doom

By Markowitz, Jack | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2008 | Go to article overview

Brookings an Unlikely Purveyor of Doom


Markowitz, Jack, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


It's unbecoming of the Brookings Institution to get all hysterical about global warming.

Brookings is left wing, but prestigious left wing, loaded with smart people. If Democrats win a veto-proof Congress on Nov. 4, they'll no doubt look to Brookings for the brainpower to back lots of liberal policy.

So it's weird to find this elegant Washington think tank dealing in doomsdays.

Such as: "Manhattan and Florida would be under water ... Nevada would have no water at all." Plus fiercer hurricanes and desert farmlands. All this unless Americans straighten out, fast!

Only "7 Years to Climate Midnight," said the headline of a newspaper column co-authored not by a tree-hugger but the president of the Brookings Institution, the top man, Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration.

This eminent man gives us only until about 2015.

Americans must lead the way in the next seven years, he says, to cut carbon emissions -- from power plants, cars and anything that burns coal, oil or gas -- or the game of civilization itself might be over. Too late to say we're sorry then.

By mid-century the world would be on a "trajectory" toward 4.5- degree warmer average temperatures. Melting polar ice would raise the seas, Talbott doesn't say by how much, but one United Nations estimate is 3 feet.

Seems like a fallacy there, though. En route to 4.5 degrees hotter by 2050, Earth would warm 1 degree first, then 2 degrees. …

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