24 Hours of Climate Reality- The Dirty Weather Report is being livestreamed at The Climate Reality Project. The below musical montage of the project, called The Symphony of Science, was designed by John D Boswell.
A very cool interactive new tool from the Climate Reality Project is Reality Drop. Created to combat climate denial, disinformation, myths and lies, Reality Drop uses game dynamics to counter the confusion and spread scientific truth. The site aggregates climate-related content from hundreds of online media sites. Users earn points from grabbing the content from the site and pasting it into comment boards and cooling the conversation. I’ll add it is super fun and addicting. Check it out at realitydrop.org.
“Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America. Anthropogenic climate change is believed to contribute to this trend, though it influences various perils in different ways. Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity. “Munich Re Insurance Press Release October 17, 2012
The 274-page study, “Severe weather in North America” draws on “the most comprehensive natural catastrophe database worldwide” indexing losses from weather-related natural disasters including hurricanes, thunderstorms, floods, wildfires, winter storms, heatwaves and droughts.
“This publication represents another contribution to the global dialogue concerning weather-related activities and their causes. What is clearly evident when the longterm data is reviewed is that losses from weather events are trending upward. To simply say that this trend is a statistical anomaly or part of a long-term cycle of activity misses the point of these efforts – we must set aside our biases and continue a meaningful dialogue in search of answers to mitigate the losses that we are experiencing.” Tony Kuczinski, CEO of Munich Reinsurance America.
I was horrified last night to watch President Obama and Mitt Romney try to out-dinosaur each other at the town hall debate. That brawl has no winner. It is a downward death spiral. Chris Hayes at MSNBC said after, “Discussing energy without talking about climate change is like talking about tobacco without talking about cancer.”
Yes, but even more; it can be viewed as a selfish Machiavellian play to hand the ball off to future generations. A form of intergenerational tyranny that one day will be regarded as crimes against humanity.
So why the silence? Mitt Romney has spent his entire career embracing both sides of an issue, and if that doesn’t work outright lying about it. He stands for little but desperately wants to gain the US Presidency. President Obama knows the science and what’s at stake, yet does little. And according to the New York Times, the fossil fuel industry has opened it’s wallets to defeat Obama. So why won’t Obama mention climate change?
Holding silent as the earth burns will not make it stop. We need mature leaders that can have a rational science-based dialogue. This problem has solutions but requires an immediate paradigm shift. We need to join the rest of the world and we need to do it quickly.
Take Action: Contact the White House by clicking here and ask President Obama why he is ignoring climate change.
«Deep Sea Delta», boreplattform, her i Nordsjøen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This week, Norway announced plans to double a carbon tax on its North Sea oil industry and set up a £1 billion fund to aid the developing world in mitigating the impacts of climate change. In addition, monies fund renewable energy, food security, and the conversion to low carbon sources of energy. The fund includes pledges of about £44 million to preserve tropical forests that are crucial in storing carbon.
Norway previously financed forestry initiatives in Brazil, Ethiopia, and Indonesia.
According to the Guardian, the Oslo Government will further spend £69m on carbon credits to offset its emissions, create building regulations to make new homes carbon-neutral by 2015, and increase efforts to cut automobile emissions by switching to electric vehicles.
These initiatives throw down a political challenge to other oil producing countries. “Norway is showing how you can use oil income to fund the transition out of oil, we should be doing the same with UK oil revenues. The Scottish National Party have always been keen on the Norwegian oil fund, and now it is setting an example really worth following,” said WWF Scotland director, Richard Dixon.
Every year, Arctic sea ice melts during summer months and then refreezes during the colder winter months. On September 16th of this year, sea ice extent fell to 3.41 million square kilometers ( 1.32 square miles), the lowest summer minimum on satellite record.
As temperatures increase, and sea ice melts, this accelerates the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Melting of the Greenland ice sheet results in sea level rise.
As global warming impacts the Arctic region, more ice melts. The albedo of the Arctic is reduced, meaning less solar energy is reflected and more is absorbed. More energy absorbed means greater warming, causing more ice melt. This compounding process is called a positive feedback. In the Arctic, we call this process the ice-albedo feedback. And many are concerned that this rapid melt of the Arctic may translate into a tipping point for our global climate.
Co-founder of the Weather Underground, Dr. Jeff Masters blogged, “To me, seeing the record Arctic sea ice loss of 2012 is like discovering a growing fire burning in Earth’s attic. It is an emergency that requires immediate urgent attention. If you remove an area of sea ice 43% the size of the Contiguous U.S. from the ocean, it is guaranteed to have a significant impact on weather and climate. The extra heat and moisture added to the atmosphere as a result of all that open water over the pole may already be altering jet stream patterns in fall and winter, bringing an increase in extreme weather events…. The house all of humanity lives on is on fire. The fire is certain to spread, since we’ve ignored it for too long. It is capable of becoming a raging fire that will burn down our house, crippling civilization, unless we take swift and urgent action to combat it.“
But in a study published by Media Matters late last week, TV news covered Paul Ryan’s workout over three times more than Arctic sea loss. And the three major cable outlets covered Ryan’s workouts over six times more than Arctic sea loss; mentioning it only eight times in four months. According to Media Matters, three of these mentions were in the context of how ice impacts drilling expeditions in the Arctic, and the one mention on Fox News dismissed the problem entirely. Meanwhile, the cable outlets have discussed Ryan’s workouts 53 times.
A new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows representations of climate science made on Fox News and in the Wall Street Journal opinion pages are “overwhelmingly misleading”.
“The analysis finds that the misleading citations include broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and disparaging comments about individual scientists. Furthermore, much of this coverage denigrated climate science by either promoting distrust in scientists and scientific institutions or placing acceptance of climate change in an ideological, rather than fact-based, context.”
Well this should come as no surprise if you are in the reality-based community, but millions of Americans get their information solely from Fox. In 2011, Fox News was the most popular cable news channel in America. Here are some of the findings:
Ninety-three percent of Fox News Channel’s representations of climate science were misleading from February 2012 to July 2012 (37 out of 40 references).
The most common form of criticism regarding climate science was to broadly dismiss the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring or human-induced.
Misleading representations also included 10 instances in which a panel member expressed acceptance of climate science findings, but was drowned out by hosts or other panel members responding with multiple misleading claims.
According to a Washington Post poll published in July, only 18% of Americans view climate change as their top environmental concern. Compare this to 33% who said so in 2007, (amidst a highly publicized IPCC report and Al Gore‘s Academy Award-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth).
The survey findings and follow-up interviews with respondents show that Washington’s inaction on climate policy may have caused the issue to recede. Even though many people link extreme weather events to global warming, there is still a disconnect.
Of course all environmental problems are interconnected and all are exacerbated by climate change, but on other crisis has the potential to end life on this planet and convert Earth’s climate into one similar to the one we see on Venus. That’s what makes this crisis, the most pressing, requiring real and immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Below NASA scientist James Hansen discusses the runaway greenhouse effect.
What will life be like if carbon emissions continue to grow?
James Hansen: Well, if we allow emissions to continue at a high rate, in this century we’re going to see ice sheets begin to disintegrate. And one of the things I write about in my book is the effect that will have on storms, because as Greenland begins to release more fresh water, cold fresh water, and Antarctica does, what it does is cool the North Atlantic Ocean and the southern ocean, and that increases the temperature gradient between low latitudes and middle and high latitudes. And that will increase the strength of storms that are driven by horizontal temperature gradients. So our children can look forward to increasing storms. And with a rising sea level that is going to lead potentially to a very chaotic situation, because once you have hundreds of cities in the situation analogous to what happened in New Orleans, then we’ve got an economic situation that’s just out of control globally.
In the long run, if that really happened, as I point out in the book, over centuries, we could actually get a runaway greenhouse effect, and then that’s it for all the species on this planet. And as I try to point out, there’s no practical way to escape from this planet; we can’t even transfer one species to another planet. I discuss the monarch butterfly and just how complex it is. And for us to hope that we could transplant life from our planet to another planet is really unrealistic. [00:21:59.17]
What is the runaway greenhouse effect?
James Hansen: A runaway greenhouse effect means once the planet gets warmer and warmer, then the oceans begin to evaporate. And water vapor is a very strong greenhouse gas, even more powerful than carbon dioxide. So you can get to a situation where it just — the oceans will begin to boil, and the planet becomes so hot that the ocean ends up in the atmosphere. And that happened to Venus. That’s why Venus no longer has carbon in its surface. Its atmosphere is made up basically of carbon dioxide because it had a runaway greenhouse effect. Now the earth, it can go unstable either toward a cold climate or toward a hot climate. And the earth has had a runaway snowball earth situation. This happened most recently about 700 million years ago. The earth froze all the way to the equator.
So these runaway situations can occur. We’ve never had a runaway greenhouse effect, because if we did, that would have been the end. Once — that’s a permanent situation. In the case of a snowball earth, when the earth becomes ice-covered, then the planet can escape from that situation because volcanoes continue to go off, but the weathering process is greatly reduced. So volcanoes put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it builds up more and more until there’s enough to melt the ice. But we can’t push the planet off of the runaway greenhouse end. That’s the end for everybody if we do that.
How long would this take to occur if we stay on this path?
James Hansen: Well, you would have to — first of all, you’d have to melt the ice sheets, and that takes a while. The Antarctic ice sheet is a couple miles thick. But with continued rapid increase in greenhouse gases, that — you could melt the ice sheets in less than a century. And then things start to get hotter and hotter. So over a period of several centuries it would be conceivable to have a runaway greenhouse. That would also require bringing into play what we call the methane clathrates or methane hydrates. We already observe in the tundra region in Canada and Siberia that as the tundra is melting, methane, frozen methane, begins to be released. And methane is another powerful greenhouse gas. And there have been times in the earth’s history when the methane hydrates on the continental shelves melted and went into the atmosphere and caused global warming of six to nine degrees Celsius, which is 10 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you add that on to the carbon dioxide warming and the water vapor warming, you could begin to push the planet into a very different state.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans…(pause to allow for laughter) and to heal the planet. My promise … is to help you and your family.”
It could be that Republicans have a secret plan to transport American families to another planet, something they are keeping hidden from the rest of us. Perhaps in a parallel universe, but we can’t be sure.
Romney’s statement got a lot of people upset. Notably Paul Douglas, a Republican meteorologist, who published this in the Huffington Post,
“But denying climate change won’t help any American family or our fledgling economy. And looking at the world with carbon-colored glasses, or using Solyndra as an excuse to snub renewables and clean-tech, is not only short-sighted, but makes America less competitive on the world stage. According to the World Economic Forum, America’s global competitiveness fell from 1st to 7th place since 2007. Should we just accept that most breakthrough energy technologies are originating in China and Europe, where there is no more “debate” about climate trends? Why is America still questioning the science? For political entertainment? Something tells me Mother Nature may get the last laugh.”
A facebook friend of mine commented, “I wish that he would publish his thoughts in some media that the Republicans follow.” Agreed.
Mitt moved forward with his not-gonna-fix-the-ocean-or-the-planet mantra on Meet the Press with David Gregory (September 9, 2012). Gregory let Romney ramble on without questioning him the on fact that the science tells us urgent action to curb emissions is necessary to preserve a liveable planet. It felt more like free ad time than an interview. This continued silence by the mainstream media to the true science of climate change is more than a lapse in journalistic integrity. It is willfully allowing this global train wreck to proceed unhindered.
In a recent interview with ScienceDebate.org, a science advocacy group, Romney had this to say,
“I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences. However, there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.”
On a campaign stop in 2011 Romney stated,“We don’t know what is causing climate change on this planet and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”
The above statements, carefully crafted to fuel the disinformation campaign on global climate change, are consistent with Romney’s energy plan which is all fossil fuels. It’s 2008’s “drill, baby drill” wearing new clothes, or maybe no clothes.
In my next post we’ll address some of the science of why this plan won’t work; why the point of no return and a runaway greenhouse (think Venus) effect are the probable scientific outcomes for future generations with this continued business-as-usual fossil fuel loving plan.
I tried to embed the Meet the Press video below but kept getting a restricted access message.
The heatwave and drought of 2012 is already effecting the food supply. With the skyrocketing price of corn, at least one rancher has turned to a different source of food for his cattle.
In Mayfield, KY, Rancher Joseph Watson of Mayfield’s United Livestock Commodities, can no longer afford to feed corn to his 1,400 cattle.
“Just to be able to survive, we have to look for other sources of nutrition,” he said. Watson mixes the candy with an ethanol by-product and a mineral nutrient.
It’s creative at least, but nothing close to natural. I’m sure at least Joel Salatin is saying “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.” Hey, if you pass candy under a mass spectrometer, it still looks like corn, doesn’t it? After all, the candy is just high fructose corn syrup.
But, wait a minute…Cows are herbivores and meant to eat grass, so this just kicks our out- of-balance industrial farm system to a whole new level. Doesn’t it look like those cows are eating the expired candy in the wrappers? Bon Appetit.
Last week, I was fortunate to be an attendee at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training with Al Gore. A thousand people from around the world- 58 countries and 47 US states- made the pilgrimage to San Francisco to be part of this training and that alone was truly inspirational. Bette Midler was in the house. Grammy Award winner Kathy Mattea spoke about her story and journey with the Climate Project and the language of nonviolent communication.
One very striking point is that while the US is still wading through a stew of climate denialism, the rest of the world is actively looking for solutions. In fact the first part of Mr. Gore’s latest slideshow presentation, focuses on connecting the dots through poignant photos of recent drought, floods, fires and extreme weather from around the world. With 337 consecutive months of temperatures higher than the 20th century average, every night on the evening news is like a “nature hike through the Book of Revelations”, according to Gore. The fact that the corporate news media doesn’t connect those glaring dots is huge journalistic lapse of integrity.
Gore compares the disinformation campaign, often referred to as climate denialism, to the effort by the tobacco companies to continue to as peddlers of doubt well after there was scientific evidence linking smoking to lung cancer. We must “dis-enthral” ourselves from the current meme which is an “illusory view of reality,” the former VP told the captivated audience.
This new presentation is packed full of emotional photos, sound science and myth-busting. And each of the thousand trainees will weave their individual story into the larger collective story and share it in their communities.
Even though recent surveys show that Americans may be waking up to the reality of climate change, the science is much worse than the average person realizes. There is an African proverb that Gore frequently quotes, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“We have to go far — quickly,” he adds. So while the task of raising awareness and moving that into actionable change may seem daunting, we, collectively, have no other choice. Because taking this issue head-on is now a moral imperative.