Showing posts with label debate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label debate. Show all posts

Monday, October 29, 2012

Climate Change Sandy Says to US: 'Take That, Idiots!'

By Nathan Currier

Superstorm Sandy shows signature of human-induced climate change 

Nathan Currier, senior climate advisor for Public Policy Virginia

After the second presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley said, "Climate change -- I had that question, all you climate change people. We just -- you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing, so you knew you kind of wanted to go with the economy." And the media's been talking about low information voters?

Now, along comes Sandy, who says to Candy, "Okay, then, take that!" See, Sandy doesn't get into debating these things, either. Now, let's see what Sandy's bill ends up being -- anyone taking bets? -- then let's sit down and talk some economy. In fact, there's an idea: Maybe a new American pastime could be organized 'disaster gambling,' with states collecting revenue as everyone bets on the tab for each new upcoming climate change disaster in their respective states?

Perhaps some still take issue with the suggestion that a superstorm like this is caused by our human-engendered climate change. But cigarette packages say things like, "cigarettes cause fatal lung disease." This, of course, is just shorthand, a monumental simplification, because in fact causation in complex systems is always a vastly complicated affair, and tobacco companies spent lots of money blowing smoke in the face of all that complexity: but the likelihood of getting lung disease is so greatly increased by smoking that eventually they gave up and we all agreed to go 'low-info' by just saying cigarettes cause fatal lung disease. As I'll demonstrate, in much the same way, we might as well keep it simple and just say this superstorm is caused by our human-made climate change.

I've been writing on the arctic crisis, and in a recent long list of immediate physical changes from loss of summer arctic sea ice, I listed (as #12) its potential impacts on weather at lower latitudes. It so happens that it is just at this time of year that this has the clearest line of causation, since lots of heat and moisture enter the atmosphere from the open waters that had been ice covered, and latent heat is released in the refreezing process, which progresses rapidly as the arctic cools down right around now. As Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University described in a recent paper: "This warming is clearly observable during autumn in near-surface air temperature anomalies in proximity to the areas of ice loss."

And this in turn becomes very important for large-scale atmospheric circulation. For example, Dr. Francis has used the metaphor of a river going down a steep incline, which runs straight, versus a river that runs along a flat plain, which tends to meander. Likewise the jet stream, since the normal energy gradient between arctic air and that of lower latitudes has become more relaxed in tandem with ice extent drops, is tending to meander more, and hence move more slowly as well. As the Francis paper said, "Previous studies support this idea: weaker zonal-mean, upper-level wind* is associated with increased atmospheric blocking events in the northern hemisphere." [*she means high west-east moving winds]

Let's look back again at this superstorm, and you'll see that important features of what you're about to experience stem from the arctic situation I've been discussing. First, arctic air is coming down to hook up with Sandy from the dip of the jet stream. Francis writes (from personal communication),
"The huge ice loss this summer, and subsequent enhanced warming of the Arctic (see attached figure), may be playing an important role in the evolution of Sandy by enhancing the amplitude of waves in the jet stream."

At the same time, high pressure over Greenland, and the extremely negative state of the North Atlantic Oscillation, is creating a blocking event that is impacting the path of Sandy herself, sending her back west over the U.S. Again, Dr. Francis (in personal communication):
"In this case, the effects could be causing strengthening of the block, elongating the block northward, and/or increasing its duration -- and this block is what's driving Sandy on such an unusual track westward into the mid-Atlantic coast."

Now, let's add to all that the underlying and obvious thing -- that Sandy is only surviving as a hurricane so far north, almost in November, because there are record high sea surface temperatures off the U.S. East coast right now. And while the third storm component, the one coming in from the west, might seem less remarkable, that is also something that generally becomes more probable with global warming, as our atmosphere can hold more water vapor as it warms and the evaporation rate is also increased by the warming. Thus, all major components of this superstorm show the signature of human-induced climate change to varying degrees, and without global warming the chance of the three occurring together like this would have a probability of about zero. So, let's make it simple, and just say climate change caused this storm.

I'm in New York City, just as much in the path of Sandy as so many others are, but come on, you do just have to sit back and love it, appreciate the full irony of it all, with Sandy striking right at those most sensitive loins of our American democracy, threatening to interrupt our sacred electoral process, after that process blocked climate change out, and now an atmospheric blocking pattern, created by that very climate change, pushes Sandy back on us. In a time when climate silence trumps climate science, when the candidates seem terrified to mention the 'C-word,' Candy, I hope you enjoy meeting Sandy. Maybe if the election gets as messed up as 2000, you three can even find time to meet up again, and go over a little issue you couldn't quite find time to fit in before? In my next piece I'll get back back to discussing what we should do right away, and hopefully it will at least be a bit clearer that this is serious business.

[First posted at the Huffington Post; posted with author's permission]

Saturday, July 21, 2012

How to part ways with a climate denier that has incredible stamina...

Paul Beckwith, with other scientists in Ottawa
protesting against the "Death of Evidence"
By Paul Beckwith,

On a Canadian chess blog ( there is a thread called “The NEW One and Only Climate Change Whatever” that has been ongoing for over two years. Basically, I educate the chess community on climate change and many chess players that are rabid deniers gang up and hurl invective and deny fervently. A waste of time for me? Perhaps? Likely not, since it has hardened my resolve and energized me in my climate change study/research/lobbying/etc. etc. In fact, now I generally have great fun at hurling invective back until it starts to get out of hand. Then it is no longer fun or useful so I part-ways with the person, as happened tonight…

Mr/Mrs. XXXXX,

It used to bother me when people such as yourself that know absolutely squat about climate change (a subject in which I am an expert and forever striving to increase that expertise) make claims that are completely without scientific merit, in fact that are downright wrong, quite often intentionally wrong. Why? In most subjects this would not matter. Not so with climate change. Because our climate is collapsing around us and there are still many many people that fail to see this. So humanity will not act, and it will get worse and worse until there will not be a single person on the planet that does not experience gut-wrenching change. People are dying now, and will be dying in ever greater numbers from the near-term changes that are underway. Massive crop failure in the U.S. this year will not starve people in North America but will stress the economy and pocketbooks of many residents. It will starve people already in poverty who pay 25% or 50% of their incomes on food now. North Americans will not panic over one year of crop failure. However if it happens the following year, and the one after that, and after that then the system will snap.

Climate denialism and such nonsense no longer bothers me because I have learned how to deal with such people and views. As is absolutely required for anyone in the field of climatology. How? I initially take the time to explain some science and educate but when it is clear that I am dealing with an immovable object like yourself or yyyyy I just have some fun with it and hurl a few insults, etc. However this gets old and distracting and unproductive very quickly and wastes a lot of time. As it has now, in your case.

It no longer bothers me because our planet is now committed to this gut-wrenching change. The sea ice will be gone very soon and the roller coaster ride will be unstoppable. If I was Obama or Putin or any other world leader I would declare "War on Warming", cool the Arctic with geoengineering to keep the sea ice intact and the methane in the ground and undergo a crash program to slash emissions. But I am not. So I do what I can to educate people/inform them/get the word out. I join organizations like AMEG (Arctic Methane Emergency Group). I meet with politicians at all levels of government and talk about the urgency of climate change and necessity of rapidly cooling the Arctic. I have a clear conscience because I have tried. I know that many people around the world will die, I know that unbelievable changes are starting to occur and will explode in frequency, amplitude, spatial extent and impact over this decade, and I know that the general public will be in shock when their familiar climate system becomes a complete stranger to them...Personally, as I have acquired more and more knowledge over the course of my Ph.D. studies in abrupt climate change, I have passed through the shock stage, and the subsequent unaccepting stage of grief a long time ago, I am in the acceptance stage now.

Apologies, it was a blast to hurl invective back and forth, but I am not playing that game anymore. I will not be reading ANY of your posts on this thread, for a while anyway. I need a XXXXX break.

P.S. I did not take the time to write this post just for your sake alone. I am posting it, with your name removed, in social media under the heading "How to part ways with a climate denier that has incredible stamina . . .". Thanks for the learning experience.