May 06, 2014

#ClimateChange is real — even oil companies agree

A lot of people have surely already seen this, but it's worth noting on these pages anyway.

The Obama Administration has just released a major new report on the impacts of anthropogenic climate change within these United States.

And, it's not pretty. Without getting into exact percentages of causation, it lays part of the problem of some major regional short-term climatic effects, like drought in California and the Southwest, at the foot of climate change.
Scientists are reluctant to attribute any of these specific events to human-caused climate change, but they say that such heavy rains are consistent with what they expect in a warming climate.
They also refute the "snowpocalypse" and similar nuttery that Faux News likes to trot out almost every chance it can:
The new report emphasized, however, that people should not expect global warming to happen at a steady pace, or at the same rate throughout the country. Bitterly cold winters will continue to occur, the report said, even as they become somewhat less likely.
Indeed. In fact, almost no all-time record lows were set this winter. Some 30 years ago, winter 2014 would have been seen as on the low edge of normal and not much worse.

Related? Not just to variability in climate change, but politics? This:
And the regional pattern varies for many effects beyond precipitation: for instance, while most of the country has warmed sharply over the past century, the Deep South has barely warmed at all, and a section of southern Alabama has even cooled slightly. In general, colder, more northerly regions are warming faster.
The Deep South is red-state ground zero, of course. Even more than the light and white northern High Plains. That said, Texas has seen more change, at least on precipitation, than the traditional cis-Mississippi Deep South. Ditto for Oklahoma. But they, too, have not had, overall, massive temperature increases.

So, especially if the older phrase of "global warming" gets used, Faux and its Amen corner find it easy to shoot that down in a mental circle jerk. But, to the degree flooding intensity and other such things can be connected to "climate change," it's a different story.

Per the NYT's story, the advisory committee behind this includes a supply chain representative of ConocoPhillips and an environmental adviser with Chevron. The secretariat includes a senior fellow from Monsanto, which, unless it can quickly engineer a line of drought-resistant grains, has a lot riding on climate change.

The story notes that some Republicans who aren't total wingnuts accept the reality of the change and, at least to some degree, the man-made degree of it. But, they and many moderate-to-conservative Democrats as well (and isn't that describing more and more Democrats these days) fret about the cost in jobs and dollars of addressing this.

To me, this is like the old 1970s-80s Fram commercial. We can pay a little bit (relatively speaking) now, or a whole lot later.
“Yes, climate change is already here,” said Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in writing the report but reviewed a late draft. “But the costs so far are still on the low side compared to what will be coming under business as usual by late in this century.”
That said, Dear Leader, preoccupied by offering us a head fake on real health insurance reform and underestimating the size of the Great Recession, never did or would give full focus on climate change. Big business was ready to sign off on a carbon tax bill, even, rather than cap-and-trade.

And, speaking of, per the Chinese carbon beast in the corner, I reiterate, and reiterate that I said it before Paul Krugman — the WTO, as I read it, allows for carbon tariffs on imports.

Beyond that, how do we "market" the need to take action to people who are conservative, but not wingnut, and "sell" them on the idea that we need serious action before we face serious costs?

The Pentagon has talked up the national security issue for some time. However, Smithsonian has a piece (with a few historical and analogical flaws) saying that's not the best angle. Its author says talk about climate change as a public health issue.

In the US, it could well increase malaria. We've already seen struggles with West Nile virus the past few years. Other tropical and subtropical diseases could also hit us harder. And, reduced water supplies are public health matters, too.

At the same time, we must avoid "selling" the technocratic solution, one that falls under my rubric of "salvific technologism." Climate engineering is not the answer. It could, like the massive transportation of species to non-native habitats in the last century or so, massively backfire.

That said, per the start of this piece, there are still countless numbers of wingnuts out there who believe fighting climate change is socialism, or even part of the alleged secret part of the UN's Agenda 21. Two of them are out in force on the Smithsonian piece. I've rhetorically wondered before, and I'll put it in more detail now. Do right-wing think tanks pay trolls like this to go hunting for pieces like the Smithsonian's?

And, they exemplify every stereotype. Verbal bullies. Logorrhea that a dictionary fermented in Kaopectate couldn't cure.

I'll usually engage in two, maybe three, rounds of comments with such folks. I'll then post a general-level snarky comment, then disengage.

Of course, that's what the pseudoscientist verbal bullies like. They think they've "won" when people stop responding.

And, beyond the wingnuts, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, with Rick Perry-appointed oversight wingnuts, also remains in denialist mode, claiming this is part of war against "Big Coal."
“It is clear that the science of global warming is far from settled,” the TCEQ countered. For example, reducing coal use, the agency said, would raise energy prices, especially on the poor.

“This is the true environmental impact of the war on coal,” the TCEQ said.
That's even though a Texas Tech professor was on the committee, too. Not everybody in this state is a wingnut. Just the majority, about all the time, and a great majority, much of the time.

No comments: