Giant waves of pain

Climate change is disturbing the pattern of atmospheric flow around the globe, says the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK):

“An important part of the global air motion in the mid-latitudes of the Earth normally takes the form of waves wandering around the planet, oscillating between the tropical and the Arctic regions. So when they swing up, these waves suck warm air from the tropics to Europe, Russia, or the US, and when they swing down, they do the same thing with cold air from the Arctic,” explains lead author Vladimir Petoukhov.

“What we found is that during several recent extreme weather events these planetary waves almost freeze in their tracks for weeks. So instead of bringing in cool air after having brought warm air in before, the heat just stays. In fact, we observe a strong amplification of the usually weak, slowly moving component of these waves,” says Petoukhov. Time is critical here: two or three days of 30 degrees Celsius are no problem, but twenty or more days lead to extreme heat stress. Since many ecosystems and cities are not adapted to this, prolonged hot periods can result in a high death toll, forest fires, and dramatic harvest losses.

I know I don’t like when my flow is disturbed; It’s tough out there for a planet.

The Ocean-Carbon Cycle

I just heard about this yesterday, from a marine scientist working on modeling the associated feedback loops as the pace of climate change alters the extent to which giant green zones in the deep ocean are sucking up some of our bulging CO2 inventory. Because of the ‘nature’ of our stupid discourse about climate change, no one hears about this at all. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t, you know, still happening:

Evidence suggests that the past and current ocean uptake of human-derived (anthropogenic) CO2 is primarily a physical response to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Whenever the partial pressure of a gas is increased in the atmosphere over a body of water, the gas will diffuse into that water until the partial pressures across the air-water interface are equilibrated. However, because the global carbon cycle is intimately embedded in the physical climate system there exist several feedback loops between the two systems.

So this is different from hypoxia zones in the Gulf of Mexico, as the shelf there is so shallow that the giant algal blooms just take up all of the oxygen, from everything. At greater depths, the rot has the chance to sink to the bottom and be absorbed by phytoplankton, eventually becoming some form of poop, settling to the bottom and working its way into the system (explanation below). This is why these giant expanses of green water in the open ocean are good things, even as they emanate from the Amazon River and cloud the pristine Caribbean. They are caused by the same forces that create biological dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico – the spewing of nutrient-rich effluent into ocean. But the rate they are changing from other forces, like the changing hydrologic cycle (warning: giant pdf) in the Amazon basin*, must go un- or under-discussed all because of the issue which must not be named, per the above mentioned discourse stupidity, which is more like cupidity than anything.

*The Amazon basin has experienced its worst droughts and its worst flooding in the last five years. Talk about naturally alarming. This is the kind of thing that needs to be reported on with the seriousness given to the pregnancy of a titular princess, mailed out and extensively unpacked, where you are left with the realization that you need to start walking to work now and forever more, saving your car trips for something special-er than buying lottery tickets or browsing at the mall. I have intentionally tried to offer a cursory explanation of the ocean-carbon cycle to demonstrate about how difficult it is to talk, which is one of the lower reasons that we don’t know more about it. No excuse, though it remains.

It’s… It’s…


Via DL, on fB, Bloomberg looks downtown:

Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.

Clarity, however, is not beyond reach. Hurricane Sandy demands it: At least 40 U.S. deaths. Economic losses expected to climb as high as $50 billion. Eight million homes without power. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. More than 15,000 flights grounded. Factories, stores, and hospitals shut. Lower Manhattan dark, silent, and underwater.

Move on

Earth, smaller

The original idea behind the name of the group was aimed at Congress to get past nominal indiscretions perpetrated by Bill Clinton in the Oval Office and deal with more pressing issues. Balance on climate change is largely the same problem for PBS, which cannot seem to accept global climate change as settled science and so must continually provide denialists a counterpoint to…? I don’t know what but it’s very annoying.

Last night, PBS NewsHour turned to meteorologist and climate change contrarian Anthony Watts to “counterbalance” the mainstream scientific opinions presented by the program. This false balance is a disservice to PBS’ viewers, made worse by the program’s failure to explain Watts’ connection to the Heartland Institute, an organization that receives funding from some corporations with a financial interest in confusing the public on climate science.

While PBS mentioned that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that manmade global warming is occurring, it did not reflect this consensus by giving significant airtime to Watts’ contrarian views. The segment presented Watts as the counterbalance to scientists that believe in manmade global warming — every time a statement that reflects the scientific consensus was aired, in came Watts to cast doubt in viewers’ minds.

As Revkin explains and is mentioned in the MM piece, the goal of groups like the Heartland Institute is segments just like this. They don’t exist to further the science, but to distract from solving the problem. That’s a story; that the fossil energy industry doesn’t buy AGW is not. I’ll soon be hosting an interview show on  PBS affiliate and so don’t know whether this makes my criticism more or less valid. But come on.

And this is the rubber-glue Romney strategy as employed by Watts in the PBS piece, accusing global warming of becoming a big business as Watts does when it’s denial that has actually become an industry in its own right, funding astro think tanks and employing former TV weathermen to further a controversy that serves the interests of more of the same, in terms of polluting, non-renewable energy.

Climate change politics

So far, so mum, regarding climate change at the DNC. Just as it’s amazing to see Democrats completely uninhibited on social issues for probably the first time ever – indeed, the extent to which the other side is afraid to attack on marriage equality or women’s rights is encouraging to the point of a new sort of confidence in the country – it is disheartening to see how marginalized the climate change discussion is. Sort of a Matrix-ish “there is no climate change discussion.”

And that’s no good, because it, too, can be a convincing argument. And this is not to complain about Democrats per se, but about the country in general. A good example of this will be the concern-trolling that comes from opinionistas like David Brooks:

New York Times columnist David Brooks may be a (sorta kinda) conservative. But by all accounts, he also has the ear of President Obama. And in his column today, Brooks — trying to imagine some big initiatives that the president might push as he prepares to accept his party’s nomination for a second term — offers Obama a bold idea: put climate change at the top of his policy agenda.

I’m not going to link to Brooks, but you can read the passages in question at the Grist link. This must be viewed skeptically. Republicans are looking for anything to make a talk radio snack out of for a while, so long has their cupboard been bare. And it’s not that Obama shouldn’t take the bait; just that it deserves to be re-tied with an anvil and passed pack to them.

There is no such thing as clean coal, nor energy independence at current usage rates. Start the conversation there and talk like an adult. Be broad and bold and optimistic. Other adults are listening.

Hug the Monster

via Romm, an article about a metaphor to change fear into action and extinguish the panic so deadly in a great crisis that seems well, a little too familiar:

“Hug the monster” is a metaphor taught by U.S. Air Force trainers to those headed into harm’s way.

The monster is your fear in a sudden crisis — as when you find yourself trapped in a downed plane or a burning house.

If you freeze or panic — if you go into merely reactive “brainlock” — you’re lost.

But if your mind has been prepared in advance to recognize the psychological grip of fear, focus on it, and then transform its intense energy into action — sometimes even by changing it into anger — and by also engaging the thinking part of your brain to work the problem, your chances of survival go way up.

Around the world, a growing number of people are showing signs of hugging the monster of what the world’s experts have plainly shown to be a great crisis facing us all.

See. Toldya. It goes on:

Established scientists, community and government leaders and journalists, as they describe the disruptions, suffering and destruction that manmade global warming is already producing, with far worse in the offing if humanity doesn’t somehow control it, are starting to allow themselves publicly to use terms like “calamity,” “catastrophe”, and “risk to the collective civilization.”

Sooner or later, everyone who learns about the rapid advance of manmade global warming must deal with the question of fear.

For many years now, the worlds scientists and economists have depicted  upheavals in security plans, financial networks, and food and water systems due to the rapidity with which annual global temperature is rising as a result of excess carbon emissions.

Read the rest. Transform the crisis, indeed.

Getting your wish

Haven’t read the Obama interview in Rolling Stone yet, but the teaser at Grist puts an interesting gloss on the climate change debate getting injected into the fall presidential campaign:

He made some remarkable statements, including his belief that the millions of dollars pouring into the anti-science disinformation campaign will drive climate change into the presidential campaign.

Really hard to say about that, but fun to speculate. I would suspect that, as much as the objectively pro-warming crowd prides itself on being aggressive, this is one issue they probably would rather not talk about.

But they won’t be able to help themselves. And so they will call out all the scientists trying to pull the wool over the eyes and get more funding for their research… I actually can’t follow the logic of corruption they project onto scientists. But at some point, if AGW does get some play in the campaign – and it’s more than just about Romney lying about what he used to say (because he will be lying) – will the question become why are hippies trying to stifle job creation? Or will it be why does the government want to force every last American into Manhattan and onto subway trains to get to work? The window is still way, way over on the side of ‘you hippies are crazy.’

This is the level of discourse we’ve come to expect, and to a great extent, deserve. Until the window moves and/or the debate is framed in a way that puts big business on the defensive. Who know; it might be something Romney is able to accomplish all on his own. I would not being above reserving a special place in the history of the survival of the planet for Willard. Would you?

Just think: hippie children might one day be named for the candidate who inadvertently rendered climate change denial inoperative.

The [Changing] Weather Channel

That’s a clunky title, but I wonder whether at some point just talking about the weather won’t simply be sufficient to cover all that’s going on. The Weather Channel seems to be catching on – that there’s more going on.

The March heat wave finally caught the attention of major television news outlets. In recent weeks, ABC and NBC have run stories linking the “unprecedented” heat wave to climate change. They join PBS, which has been the only network consistently drawing the connection between extreme weather and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The Weather Channel has also picked up on the story, featuring a number of stories about the influence of human activity on extreme weather. One of the best segments featured meteorologist Stu Ostro, who explained why “data and science, not politics” changed him from a skeptic to someone very concerned about the problem.

How long before they start to be derided as biased? 3…2…1

Don’t think so

Climate games seem to take a turn for the weird, but not really:

At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.

There are no rules for playing fairly. That was a period, right after that ‘y’. But the political landscape is laid all the more bare when the opposition (to climate change?) observes nothing but the mantle of lies, obfuscation and dependency on liberals to preserve rational debate:

You can’t have a”rational public debate” with people whose whole reason for existence is to obfuscate the truth by paying big bucks to scientist/whores for whom ‘scientific inquiry’ means first posing the question “How much does it pay?” to be followed (after a brief period of haggling) with “What do you want it to say?”. From there corporate fronts like the Cato Institute, the Hoover Institute, the Heritage Foundation take the scientific 3-card monte game that has been handed to them and they round the edges, smooth out the rough spots, couch the language  and cherry-pick the most easily digestible nuggets of bullshit which they dole out on 3×5 cards to Fox News, English tabloids, and an assortment of conservative bloggers and lesser whores who are paid to appear objective and thoughtful.

That Sound You Hear, part MCMXLV


This is, just, hilarious. If you think dumb is funny.

The cover story of this week’s National Journal takes a deeper dive into a question we’ve explored before: What happened to the Republican consensus on climate change?

Three years ago, prominent Republicans including Mitt RomneyNewt Gingrich, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Tim Pawlenty, and Sarah Palin all expressed belief in human-caused climate change. Several even voiced strong support for policies to cap and reduce carbon pollution. Today, all six of these leaders have joined the rest of the Republican Party in a sudden and near-unified retreat to silence or denial.

When contacted by the National Journal, only 65 out of all 289 GOP lawmakers in Congress would agree to be interviewed on the topic. Of those interviewed, only 19 said they believed that human activities are at least partly responsible for climate change. Of the 19, only five (or fewer than 2 percent of GOP lawmakers) attributed a “significant amount” of climate change to human activity.

So, what happened?

It’s not the science that has changed — it’s only gotten stronger. As Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council, said: The level of scientific certainty that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change is comparable to the strength of our understanding that vaccines prevent measles and polio.

They don’t deserve to lead a line to the port-o-let.