Global warming is already upon us, but when was the last time you had a proper chat about it?? For Green Great Britain Week, ClimateAdam speaks to a climate communication expert (Steve) to take his conversation skills from amazing to brilliant.
Hurricane Michael just formed in the straits between the Yucatan and western Cuba, and it is heading for the US Gulf. The bull’s eye is currently the vicinity of Port St Joseph and Apalachiocola, not far east of Panama City. The right front quadrant thus is heading for the bight between Apalachicola and Suwannee, where things could be very messy if there is a strong storm tide.
Landfall would be expected in about 48 hours, and the actual bull’s ey could be anywhere between Pensacola and Cedar Key, with areas well outside of that (including Mobile, Alabama) being affected.
The thing about this storm is that just a few hours ago, it was projected to be a Category 1 storm, but is now expected to be a (weak?) Category 3 storm. And, it is coming in fast.
It is too early to say what the storm surges may be, or exactly where it will come ashore. Unlike Florence (or Harvey), Michael is not expected to linger on or near the coast, but rather, will plow through the US Southeast as a storm, probably passing over Atlanta, coming into the Atlantic not far from where Florence went, possibly menacing Washington DC and Philadelphia, the home of the Eagles, recently defeated by the Minnesota Vikings. There could be areas with 6-10 inches of rain in the Florida Panhandle and Georgia.
The two big climate change related stories with Michael may end up being: 1) It formed fast and got strong fast and moved fast, like Patricia (Mexico, a few years ago) and Maria (2017); and 2) Michael is passing over anthropogentic-climate-change-superheated waters (at least somewhat superheated) in the Gulf.
Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century.
A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.
But the administration did not offer this dire forecast, premised on the idea that the world will fail to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed.
Climate activists and poets, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Aka Niviana, travel to the latter’s home of Greenland to recite their collaborative poem, Rise, on a melting glacier that might threaten the former’s home nation of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific
For background, see this post at Climate Denial Crock of the Week.
See also this related post by Bill McKibben.
It is never too soon to talk about human caused climate change in relation to hurricanes. This is a bed we made and we are now sleeping in it.
Rather than yammering on and on about how a warmer atmosphere is a damper, but also more evaporation-inducing (and thus drying), and energetic atmosphere, and about how warmer air going over warmer sea water produces more and bigger storms globally, and all that, I’ll point you to some resources below.
But first I want to address two misconceptions: 1) that you can never attribute to a particular storm the effects of climate change THIS IS FALSE and 2) that climate scientists believe that Atlantic hurricanes will become less and less of a problem with climate change THIS IS ALSO FALSE.
On the attribution. Let’s say there is a disease with a 50% mortality rate. But then a treatment is invented that reduces that to zero. We use the treatment widely and nobody dies of it any more. Then, you get the disease, are cured, and go on a public speaking tour in which you espouse the greatness of this cure.
But one night, while you are speaking in front of a large audience, someone stands up and says, “Hey, wait one darn minute there! You might have been one of the 50% that would have lived! You can’t say that this cure did ANYTHING. Faker!”
The audience, realizing that the cure does not actually work, stands up and walks out.
Was that fair? Was what just happened in this scenario a honest, thoughtful turn of events?
With climate change it is a little like that. People who want to deny the importance of climate change, including journalists still stuck in the false balance mode (if there are Senators in the Senate claiming that human caused global warming is a hoax, then we must consider that as equally likely as what all the world’s scientists are saying), pull the attribution rabbit out of the hat all the time. Since you can’t yada yada. Even some climate scientists used to say this because the were badly trained in what to say.
Indeed, the binary (cure/not cured) I gave you above is not really like climate change. The fact that ALL the sea surfaces in the tropics and sub tropics — every single square centimeter — are on average (and in fact most of the time, for most of the seconds of most of the days, all year) anomalously warm, all of the tropical weather systems are affected all of the time. Fail to understand that at your peril.
The second falsehood, that Atlantic hurricanes will become less of a problem, is perhaps even more pernicious. There once was a study that seemed to show that some of the climatic conditions that would attenuate tropical cyclones, denying them the chance to form into hurricanes, would become more common in the Atlantic. This is probably true. However, the climatic conditions that cause tropical storms to form and advance to hurricane stage are also increased — different effects — and these effects have the added bonus of causing hurricanes to form much more rapidly and sometimes (perhaps often) grow much larger and, by the way, exist farther north. Indeed, if Florence does reach Category 5 for a short time today or tomorrow, it will be the farthest north Cat 5 hurricane ever in the Atlantic.
Here’s the thing. We will see periods of time when hurricanes that might have formed, say, 20 years ago, won’t. But we will also see periods of time when more and bigger and worser hurricanes form. The actual average number of hurricanes in the Atlantic has not gone down, but rather, stayed fairly stable, over recent decades. The frequency of large and dangerous hurricanes globally has gone up, and that trend is probably observable in the Atlantic.
Point is, we are not seeing a decrease in Atlantic hurricane activity or impressiveness, and we are seeing records being broken with respect to time to formation, size, strength, etc.
Climate Signals has a page on Hurricane Florence. They point out that sea level rise and coastal storms are a significant coastal erosion threat. warmer waters make for more and bigger hurricanes, keeping the hurricanes big longer, and making them form faster. These hurricanes are wetter.
Indeed, we have replaced the term “Biblical Flooding” with “Harvey Size Flooding” since we no longer have to imagine it.
Here is a helpful video:
This graph showing the relationship between sea surface temperature and hurricane activity.
Finally, an interview with Michael Mann, author of The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy, on Florence in which Mann points out ways in which climate modeling predicted greater severity of hurricanes. That set of predictions included, by the way, an increased tendency for Atlantic hurricanes to hit the US:
using “Ice Age” as a control, Google N-Gram style:
My only remaining Republican friend, Paul Douglas, provided this information.
Considering the top 20 most destructive California fires from Cal Fire’s database, 6 of those have happened in the last 10 months.
The worse so far is the Tubbs Fire last October, and that was HUGE. Nearly 6,000 structures were burned, 22 people were killed. The sixth on the list is the Carr fire, with just under 1,500 structures burned and six killed as of this writing, but that fire is still burning.
I’ll just add this. There was a moment in time between about 2 and 3 years ago, when it was apparent to me and many others that fires were getting worse. But the data was just coming in. There were studies that stopped their data roughly a year or a year and a half earlier that showed no statistically convincing increase. The delay in data range is normal. You get your data, clean it up, then Reviewer three adds eight months to the publication process, etc. so most studies are one or maybe two years late. Anyway, I was being told over and over again that I was wrong whenever I talked about fires. Much of that came from those who were sufficiently in the game to pretend they were not denying climate change, but who chose to get into the contrarian game despite the huge moral cost of doing so.
Well, we were right. We told you so. Shame.
Eventually, of course, the wildfires will stop. Like the surgeons say, the bleeding always stops. Eventually. One way or another.
In the past, most Americans (and probably many Europeans and Japanese) were either for or against nuclear. These days, a large middle area has opened up because nuclear is not fossil fuel, and may have an important role in future energy economies.
Having said that, building new nuclear plants have mostly moved into the pipe dream category. It is jut not happening. But maintaining and continuing to run existing plants is probably important, no what you think about nukes.
Here’s the thing. There are two reasons to shut down an existing plant. 1) It is too old or otherwise unsafe and needs to be closed. This is fairly rare but will become more common over the ext 30 years, and eventually, every one will be shuttered and converted over to nuclear waste storage facility. 2) it is too damn expensive to run.
We need to shut down the type 1 plants. We can have a conversation some other time about the strategy of replacing such plants with new nukes. We should not be shutting down type 2 plants now, because that puts pressure on the industry, which is relatively dumb when it comes to making long term decisions, to maintain or even build new methane, oil, or even coal plants.
But how do we save these type 2 plants from premature decommissioning?
With a carbon dividend. (I do not call this a carbon fee and divided or carbon tax because those terms are inaccurate. See: “The Carbon Dividend Is Not A Tax“)
This post at Think Progress outlines the problem and the solution. Warning: Ironies are exposed, so wear your face gear.
When climate scientist Michael Mann and cartoonist Tom Toles wrote The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy, they had no idea how bad it was going to get. Perhaps they needed to be more alarmist.
Anyway, this overview of climate change politics and denialism, in both text and cartoon form, is out in a new edition that has an updated “in the times of Trump” chapter, and in paperback form.
Pick up your copy of The Madhouse Effect, excellent summer beach reading, today!
The award-winning climate scientist Michael E. Mann and the Pulitzer Prize–winning political cartoonist Tom Toles have been on the front lines of the fight against climate denialism for most of their careers. They have witnessed the manipulation of the media by business and political interests and the unconscionable play to partisanship on issues that affect the well-being of billions. The lessons they have learned have been invaluable, inspiring this brilliant, colorful escape hatch from the madhouse of the climate wars.
The Madhouse Effect portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that human activity has changed Earth’s climate. Toles’s cartoons collapse counter-scientific strategies into their biased components, helping readers see how to best strike at these fallacies. Mann’s expert skills at science communication aim to restore sanity to a debate that continues to rage against widely acknowledged scientific consensus. The synergy of these two climate science crusaders enlivens the gloom and doom of so many climate-themed books?and may even convert die-hard doubters to the side of sound science.
The details are evolving, but the basic relationship is for real.
Regarding the real storm hitting California right now, 30,000 are being urged to evacuate. There is more informaiton about that storm down at the bottom of the post.
Meanwhile, on the hypothetical worst case scenario for flooding in California…
If an ARkStorm were to come to the US West Coast, this is what the flooding in California could look like: Continue reading California Flood Worst Case Scenario (hypothetical yet real) UPDATED
And, by “you” I mean the individuals and institutions that have shepherded civilization, and even our entire species, to the very brink of collapse and near extinction, motivated by greed and guided by ignorance.
And, in particular, this group of children are coming for that group of bad guys: Continue reading The Children Are Coming. They Are Coming For You.
Global Warming is messing up Hockey.
It is too warm too many days for the usual low tech solutions (like, “it is cold out”) to support casual neighborhood hockey play, which is considered a key feeder for the varsity, college, and pro levels. See: Global Warming Is Bad For Hockey. This is from the NHL Sustainability Report: Continue reading Global warming is messing up sports
We, and by “we” I mean “Donald Trump and his Republicans,” are already in a position of disdain by most of the rest of the world for being only one of three nations not signed on to the Paris climate pact.
The other two countries were a) Syria, not really a country any more, and b) Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is now joining the pact, according to Vice President Murillo, reported here:
“It is the only instrument we have in the world that allows the unity of intentions and efforts to face up to climate change and natural disasters,” Murillo said.
Nicaragua, a poor Central American nation that is often threatened by hurricanes, was the only nation to reject the agreement in 2015, and has argued for far more drastic action to limit rising temperatures.
The latest round of negotiations take place after a string of powerful hurricanes ravaged Caribbean island nations and caused billions of dollars in damage along the Texas and Florida coastlines.
Climate scientists have said warmer air and water resulting from climate change may have contributed to the severity of the storms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has disputed such claims as an attempt to “politicize” natural disasters.