Posts Tagged ‘Global Warming’

With the recent confirmations by NOAA, NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency that 2014 was the hottest year on record, conservatives have gone through a few stages of dealing with that reality. First, they tried to impugn the data. Second, they claimed that global warming is so minimal that it doesn’t matter. Third?

Well, every once in a while, conservatives express themselves with such candor that it is actually refreshing, if not revealing. Such was the case when our favorite retired Naval intelligence officer said this, in response to the fact that 2014 was the hottest year on record:

Who cares? The Left doesn’t care if my descendants live in a less free, less prosperous world. Why should I care if their descendants live in a slightly warmer world. Besides, in the over all scheme of things, warmer is better than colder. You want to watch a Liberal’s head explode? Ask them how much colder they’d like it to be, and what scientific principles they propose using to get to that temperature. Better yet, ask them what significant changes they’ve made in their personal lives and how much of their income the’ve voluntarily donated to help address the problem.

Wow. At the heart of his statement is what motivates conservative thinking these days, which is, “I’ve got mine, now fuck off.” It’s a desire, more than anything, to just maintain the status quo, which is not surprising coming from individuals are already well off and taken care of. Disrupting the status quo is perceived as a threat, and that, ultimately, is the emotion that guides their thinking. (It’s also worth pointing out that, in stating that he doesn’t care about the climate that will confront “their [liberals’] descendants,” he tacitly admits that he also doesn’t care about his own descendants. That is truly breathtaking. It is sad that such individuals can’t look beyond themselves.)

But then he moves on to acceptance that the world is warming, and states with impunity that, not only does it not matter, it will actually be better for humanity. “Warmer is better than colder.” This is truly ignorant. Since this conservative lives on Frozen Pond, Indiana, the direct experience he has recently had is actually colder temperatures. This is because the easter part of the United States is one of the few places on earth that was actually colder than average in 2014, as can be seen in this map.

As far as “warmer is better,” it’s such a simplistic and superficial analysis that it strains credulity to believe that an intelligent person would make it. Since residents of Frozen Pond consider themselves to be a part of the heartland of the United States — the “real Americans” –– perhaps this analysis from the State of Wisconsin will help:

On the plus side, a warming climate during the first half of this century could mean lower winter heating costs, a longer frost-free growing season and better yields of some crops. It is also expected to improve forest growth, and enlarge resident populations of birds, warmwater fishes, reptiles and small mammals, especially nuisance animals like mice, bats, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and opossums. Waterborne commerce will enjoy longer ice-free shipping seasons on the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River. Winter recreation may suffer, but summer recreation could enjoy a boom.

On the minus side, as the climate continues to warm, it will bring higher summer cooling costs, more frequent ozone alerts, and longer, more intense heat waves. Over time, the benefits of a warming climate for agriculture will likely be outweighed by the adverse effects of declining soil moisture and more frequent droughts, severe storm and erosion damage, and a northward invasion of various warm-climate crop and livestock pests and pathogens. The need to irrigate crops and greater urban demands for water will strain groundwater supplies in some areas. Warmer, damp conditions will cause populations of disease-carrying insects to swell and spread, and outbreaks of infectious diseases like West Nile virus may increase.

Greater evaporation due to generally warmer temperatures and less winter ice cover are expected to cause Great Lakes water levels to decline several feet, threatening coastal drinking water supply systems as well as waterborne commerce, and causing shipping, dredging and harbor maintenance costs to rise. Barge and train traffic through the Upper Mississippi River Valley could be interrupted alternately by low summer-autumn stream flows and winter-spring floods. Warmer water temperatures and increased stormwater runoff will reduce the water quality of many inland lakes and rivers as well as Great Lakes coastal waters.

Longer, hotter, drier summers and increasing evaporation will result in warmer and shallower rivers, shrinking wetlands, and dried-up streams, flowages and wild rice beds. Algal blooms will create anoxic conditions for aquatic life in ponds and many lakes. These conditions will reduce the amount of suitable habitat available for trout and other cold-water fishes, amphibians and waterfowl. A two-degree rise in temperature could wipe out half of Wisconsin’s 2,700 trout streams. Hot dry conditions, coupled with more frequent thunderstorms and lightning, will increase the chance of forest fires. Red pine, aspen and spruce trees will disappear from our northern forests.

And that’s just Wisconsin, which would be impacted less by global warming than other regions. And a lot of food is grown in other regions –– like California, whose prolonged drought certainly threatens the food supply of the country. (California has been the top food and agricultural producer in the United States for more than 50 consecutive years, and produces more than half of the nation’s fruit, nuts, and vegetables.) But cloistered conservatives on Frozen Pond can’t think beyond their porch — even ones who should know better.

Finally, he asks, “what significant changes [liberals have] made in their personal lives and how much of their income the’ve voluntarily donated to help address the problem.” The implication, of course, is that he knows the answer, which is that liberals have done nothing. And he’s wrong again. And again, it’s because he is unable to look any further than Frozen Pond. No electric or hybrid cars in Frozen Pond? Must mean that no one is buying them anywhere. No solar installations at Frozen Pond? Obviously no one is using solar anywhere. I personally know a lot of people who have bought electric cars in the last couple of years. And I know a lot of people who have installed solar panels on their homes. But that doesn’t count in Frozen Pond because they can’t see such people from their porches.

And we haven’t even gotten to the government policies that liberals support with their own tax dollars, which comes from their own pockets. And here the conservative argument falls apart again, because they already know that there are government policies that have been put in place by so-called liberals, which conservatives abhor. So therefore they know that liberals do support changes that will affect their personal lives and their own pocketbooks. After all, who put these “liberal” elected officials into office? Conservatives? I don’t think so.

I can respect a thoughtful argument questioning the effects of global warming and the policies that should be undertaken in response. But ignorant responses motivated solely out of fear need to be called out.

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Earlier this week, the Japan Meteorological Agency released its average global temperature data for 2014, which shows that globally last year was the hottest year, by far, in JMA’s 120 years of record-keeping. Nine of the ten hottest years recorded have occurred in the twenty-first century. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected release similar data soon.

Furthermore, there has been no “pause” in warming. Here is the chart from JMA of the average global temperature by year since 1891:

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Does that look like a pause to you? Didn’t think so. The trend line is obvious.

The fact is, “[T]here is broad agreement among climate scientists not only that climate change is real (a survey and a review of the scientific literature published say about 97 percent agree), but that we must respond to the dangers of a warming planet. If one is looking for real differences among mainstream scientists, they can be found on two fronts: the precise implications of those higher temperatures, and which technologies and policies offer the best solution to reducing, on a global scale, the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Michael Mann has written a paper for the scientific community, and others, about how special interests try to intimidate and discredit scientists. He calls it “the Serengeti strategy”:

Much as lions on the Serengeti seek out vulnerable zebras at the edge of a herd, special interests faced with adverse scientific evidence often target individual scientists rather than take on an entire scientific field at once. Part of the reasoning behind this approach is that it is easier to bring down individuals than an entire group of scientists, and it still serves the larger aim: to dismiss, obscure, and misrepresent well-established science and its implications. In addition, such highly visible tactics create an atmosphere of intimidation that discourages other scientists from conveying their research’s implications to the public. This “Serengeti strategy” is often employed wherever there is a strong and widespread consensus among the world’s scientists about the underlying cold, hard facts of a field, whether the subject be evolution, ozone depletion, the environmental impacts of DDT, the health effects of smoking, or human-caused climate change. The goal is to attack those researchers whose findings are inconvenient, rather than debate the findings themselves.

He goes on to say, “Many of the attacks have been aimed at undermining one of the scientific community’s great strengths—the trust that the public has in scientists as communicators and messengers. A poll conducted by Yale University and George Mason University indicated that climate scientists are the most trusted source of information about global warming for voting-age Americans (Yale Project, 2012). This is in line with a number of polls regarding science that have been conducted over the years, which consistently show that the public ranks scientists near the top for trustworthiness (Pew Research Center, 2009)—while they put members of Congress, TV reporters, and used-car salesmen near the bottom. (At the very bottom are lobbyists, who have only a 6 percent approval rating for honesty and ethics (Gallup, 2014)). In their effort to discredit the genuine science behind climate change, fossil fuel interests and their front groups have sought to undermine that trust in science and scientists.”

The full paper is worth a read.

Meanwhile, a perfect example of an individual with an agenda–in this case, an ideological one–is Blogs For Victory’s Mark Noonan, who continues with his on-going series of “global warming hoax” updates. In his latest post, Noonan latches onto an article alerting readers to the fact that “two rounds of Arctic cold will move through much of the U.S. this week.” To Noonan, this isn’t a temporary weather phenomenon; it’s further proof that global warming is a hoax. Clearly, like his favorite conservative politicians, Noonan isn’t a scientist.

Don’t be fooled by the clowns who live on Frozen Pond, Indiana. They can’t be bothered to look any further than their own backyard because ideology. Instead, they are convinced that cold Midwest winters prove there is no global warming. They don’t.

The real “hoax” in the “global warming hoax” is the one being perpetrated by individuals and organizations who attempt to discredit science and scientists for their own personal gain or agendas. It’s really pretty simple.

New polling data from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire shows:

“A growing left-right split over the validity of scientific information. This “science gap” is apparent most of all on the issue of climate change, but the problem is much broader, encompassing topics ranging from evolution to the safety and effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

This is pretty striking: The first three political groups—Democrats, independents, and non-tea party Republicans—all trust scientists on the environment. But then you come to tea party members, and suddenly, distrust in scientists soars. The numbers are stark: 60 percent of traditional Republicans trust scientists on the environment, versus only 28 percent of tea partiers.

Is anyone surprised? Go here for the rest of the article.