Saturday, September 16, 2017

32.1 - Harvey, Irma, and global warming

Harvey, Irma, and global warming

The big news of late, at least in the US, has been the twin hits of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The economic cost of the devastation is estimated to exceed $200 billion. Some 106 were killed in the US plus at least 44 more dead in Caribbean, which was devastated particularly by Irma.

There are multiple ways to assist the victims, both in the US and the Caribbean and I urge you to explore them.

But I also have to mention the gorilla in room, which actually did get mentioned sometimes in the coverage of the storms, but which needs to be slammed home: anthropogenic global warming - or climate change, call it what you will, they mean the same thing.

Now, this does need to be noted at the top: You can't say that Harvey or Irma were caused by global warming in the sense that they would not have happened in the absence of global warming. We can't say that. Hurricanes are caused by weather conditions.

Hurricane Harvey
But here's the point: Hurricanes draw their strength from warm waters. So as the climate warms, as the oceans warm, there is more energy for storms to draw on.

So what we can say is that climate change makes storms like Harvey and Irma more likely. That is, we can't say that there will be more hurricanes - that actually is regarded as one of the weaker predictions of climate change - but we can say that the hurricanes we see are more likely to be stronger and more destructive: Remember that  Irma was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic (that is, outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico).

Which leads directly to the next point: Despite the claims of the nanny-nanny naysayers to the contrary, we can say it is possible to attribute some extreme weather events to climate change.

Not necessarily individual storms, but extreme weather patterns - such as drought, heat waves, and floods - can in at least some cases can be attributed directly to climate change.

That's one of several significant findings in a climate change report by the staff of 13 federal agencies, which found that average temperatures in the United States have risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, that recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1500 years, and Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now.

The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land and in the air that have been confirmed by many lines of evidence which together demonstrate that human activities are the primarily cause.

And people know it. Not just around the world, where we've come to expect that people are aware of the dangers and the need for action, but even in the US.

According to the latest survey from Morning Consult/Politico, two-thirds of registered voters are concerned about climate change, with 41 percent "very concerned" and another 26 percent "somewhat concerned."

But this is one really got me and shows how far perceptions have changed. A few months ago, the New York Times reported a survey finding that 69 percent of Americans support limiting global-warming-creating carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. But more than that, more than that, a majority of adults in every single congressional district in the country agreed. Even in deep coal country in places like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky, a majority said yes, limit the emissions.

But still the nanny-nanny naysayers and their corporate backers drive Congress and the White House. That report from those 13 agencies was for the next National Climate Assessment, due in 2018. The draft was to be submitted on August 18. On August 20, TheRump disbanded the federal advisory panel overseeing the report.

This supposedly will not affect the current assessment, the one due next year, but it does mean that absent future action, it will be the last one as the determination of the nanny-nanny naysayers in and out of government to ignore reality grows even more determined and strident.

And our time is running out.

Link for the Pope Francis quote:

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');