Saturday, November 02, 2013

"“the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past”

This is why I think that climate change is the most important issue we face.

From the New York Times several weeks ago:
"To put it another way, for a given geographic area, “the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past,” said Camilo Mora, the lead scientist on a paper published in the journal Nature."

  • It's not simply that temperatures will be hotter.  That's bad enough.  Despite news headlines about tornadoes and hurricanes, heat kills the most people per year.  From the National Weather Service:

Click Image for Bigger, Sharper View

"Unprecedented climates will arrive even sooner in the tropics, Dr. Mora’s group predicts, putting increasing stress on human societies there, on the coral reefs that supply millions of people with fish, and on the world’s greatest forests."
  •  More than the raw heat will be the havoc the changes cause to many environments
    • Even if you don't care about the coral reefs themselves, the changes will affect the fish available for humans to eat.  
    • Even if you live in Alaska and think, "Hmmmm, more comfortable winters,"  the havoc of perma-frost melting will affect all the roads and buildings and airports and other infrastructure built on it.  The migration patterns of salmon and other fish we take for granted will change.  Or perhaps the water will warm enough to disturb their life-cycles.
    • And crops everywhere will be affected by changing temperatures - some crops won't grow, rainfall will be disturbed with inundations in some places and droughts in other places (as we're starting to see already.)
    • Insects and other critters that eat crops will be found in new places
And yes, eventually people will adjust to the new reality, but the disruptions that are coming without serious efforts to slow down climate change will cause horrendous suffering.

I have children and a new granddaughter who will inherit that world, so it matters to me.

And even if you think this is extreme and it might not happen or we can adjust without the disruption.  Even if you think this is an unlikely scenario, it's such a catastrophic event that everyone should want to prevent the possibility even.  Just as we endure the security at airports in the off chance that a terrorist will want to board one of the planes. 
“Go back in your life to think about the hottest, most traumatic event you have experienced,” Dr. Mora said in an interview. “What we’re saying is that very soon, that event is going to become the norm.”

At today's Citzens Climate Lobby meeting we heard on the national phone link from Evangelical Christian Eric Sapp whose consulting firm "helps political, non-profit, business and government entities better understand America's rich and complex faith landscape."   His message was that Climate Change is accepted by the vast majority of people and the Evangelical community is receptive to the issue.

My sense is that without the Kochs and others who are spending huge sums of money to foment doubt about climate change, we would have been past this issue long ago.  Call your legislators and tell them you believe that climate change is real, caused by humans, and they need to stand up to the bullies who deny climate change and start working on stopping the carbon use that is radically changing our planet's climate.  Or a letter to the editor.  Or both.

Every other issue you can think of is dwarfed by this one.  As we start fighting over resources because our food and water supplies are disrupted by radically changing climate, all the other issues will get worse.  This, over the years, will disrupt civilization more than anything else.  The sooner we slow this down, the less damage and disruption there will be.  Your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren (even if you are only 15 now) will thank you or blame you depending on whether you start taking action to get our politicians to take action.  It can be done.  See the Citizens Climate Change website to see what people are doing. 

[Feedburner worked right away for this post.  I didn't have to manually ping it either.]


  1. Well, Steve, numbers usually convince me, but I am quite sceptical about the existence of global warming. I have no doubt in the data, that scientists use to proove their theories, I am just not sure whether the change in weather is (entirely) because of human acts. There had been some cold ages and warmer periods even before the homo sapiens started to exist.

    A agree that we should change our livestyles but my reason is to make our lives healthier or more "livable" (less smoke in cities for example).

    1. You aren't convinced by the numbers or you haven't really looked at them carefully? Because if you really look at what 99% of the climate scientists are saying and what report after report is saying (usually things like, "We underestimated how fast and severe this is happening") and you still don't believe, it's because you don't want to believe.
      And the US Conservatives are doing their best to foster doubt. Just like the tobacco companies denied the link between lung cancer and smoking, for many years after they knew there was a link.
      Even the US Defense Department identifies the unrest caused by global warming as a major security threat in the coming years.

    2. Well, at econometrics there is a method (Granger causality) to show that if there is any real relation between "y and x" because correlation shows only statistical relationships. I am afraid that people are overpanicing this question. If the problem was so big, then there must have been a solution already, noone would risk that much, right?

    3. Ropi, I'm not that familiar with Granger causality, but know that it is a way to show causation in some economics correlation situations and that it has been misused in other situations.

      But that doesn't mean that natural scientists who study climate base their claims of the human cause of the change on Granger.

      I suspect that most of us cannot truly digest the data that demonstrates the relationship, but when nearly 100% of the serious scientists who do study this tell us there is a cause and effect relationship between human carbon use and climate change, one has to at least lean toward accepting that link rather than denying it.

      There is, in the US, a concerted effort, led by, among others, the oil billionaire Koch brothers, to deny that climate change is caused by humans (and our oil consumption.) They fund various 'institutes' to put out research supporting their political views. It gives support to those who don't want to believe - like tobacco company research gave hope to smokers who didn't want to quit.

      Here's one site that gives you some more details on the links.


    5. Ropi, I think we both recognize that neither of us has enough of a grasp on the global warming debate to go through the film point by point to refute it on the scientific points.
      However, a major assertion of the movie is that global warming is a fraud - that's even the title. That itself is, to me, outrageous. Anyone who has lived in Alaska over 35 years, as I have, has seen the drastic impacts of climate change. The most obvious are the glaciers that I have personally seen shrink. There's also warming of permafrost and the fact that we plant seeds nearly a month earlier in the spring than when I first got to Alaska. And the film itself doesn't refute global warming, but whether it was caused by humans or natural causes.
      1. The film quibbles about how many of the "2500 scientists" who believe in human caused global warming are really scientists or still want to be on the list. But even if they are right and you prune off the non-scientists, the overwhelming number of scientists involved in global warming studies, believe that it is human caused. The film can argue this is a conspiracy to get funding, but they offer no proof. That's just silly.
      The point is, minimally, that there may be areas of doubt and debate. That's how science works. And there are always people who deny the new truths revealed by new data. That's what Kuhn's Scientific Revolutions is all about - how scientific theories change. Also read Latour. To call all those scientists part of a conspiracy and committing fraud is itself what they charge those who say climate change is human caused - a political fraud.
      2. While I'm not a climate scientist, I have been listening to them carefully for several years. They aren't shrill. They tend not to call their opponents names (though some do on occasion.) Instead they offer scientific studies that support their position
      3. Go look at what Wikipedia says about the film and then look at this website that refutes the film's assertions point by point.
      4. I found nothing about who funded this film. In the US it has become clear that people like the Koch brothers - oil billionaires - are among the main supporters of the attacks on global warming science. They believe what is convenient for their industry - that CO2 doesn't impact climate.
      5. The tactics used in this film and all the other programs like this one resembles closely those used by the tobacco industry. They continued to deny that smoking was harmful, even when their own studies proved that it was.
      6. If we don't stop warming the planet, the climate disruptions we already see in Alaska are going to disrupt how people around the world live. Crops will fail where things get warmer than traditional crops can stand and when there is too much rain or too little. Tropical diseases will follow the warmer weather.

      I know I won't convince you, but on this I'm well convinced that climate change is human caused and will be very problematic for humans and other species. I have no vested interest in the outcome of this except the future of the planet.



Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.