Year 3, Month 7, Day 24: I Never Understood The Designated Hitter Rule

Making up for lost time, the Washington Post continues its shrill campaign:

Most Americans say they believe temperatures around the world are going up and that weather patterns have become more unstable in the past few years, according to a new poll from The Washington Post and Stanford University.

But they also see future warming as something that can be addressed, and majorities want government action across a range of policies to curb energy consumption, with more support for tax breaks than government mandates.

The findings come as the federal government released a report Tuesday suggesting the connection between last year’s severe weather and climate change. According to the study issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, changes fueled by the burning of fossil fuels made the 2011 heat wave in Texas 20 times more likely to occur compared with conditions in the 1960s.

In the report, the scientists compared the phenomenon to a baseball or cricket player’s improved performance after taking steroids.

“For any one of his home runs (sixes) during the years the player was taking steroids, you would not know for sure whether it was caused by steroids or not,” they wrote in the report, which will be published in a forthcoming Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. “But you might be able to attribute his increased number to the steroids.”

This was fun to write. Sent July 13:

After years of muted scientific language, the American public’s got something it can understand: climate change’s influence on weather is like that of steroids on the performance of professional athletes, according to the recent report from the NOAA. Performance-enhancing drugs affect muscle size, response time, and a host of other factors — but it is impossible to attribute any single home run or touchdown to them. Rather, they “load the dice” in favor of extreme athletic accomplishment. Similarly, atmospheric carbon dioxide is a performance enhancer for Earth’s weather systems.

Steroid use “…makes the body behave unnaturally,” as columnist George Will noted in a 2010 interview with the Wall Street Journal; greenhouse emissions make our climate behave unnaturally, while triggering side effects that may very well endanger the future of our civilization, professional sports and all. Perhaps Mr. Will, a legendary baseball fan and a climate-change denier, will grasp the NOAA’s analogy.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 6, Day 20: The Rich Are Different From You And Me; They Have More Stupidity

The Wall Street Journal notes that things are getting hot:

The U.S. is experiencing record-setting high temperatures this year, with the lower 48 states hitting an average 49.2 degrees Fahrenheit, five degrees above long-term statistics, according to federal data released Thursday.

The exceptionally warm months between January and May have helped to make the last 12 months the warmest 12-month block since record keeping began more than a century ago.

The month of May, meanwhile, was the second warmest May on record, with the lower 48 states reporting an average temperature of 64.3 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Reports of record-setting temperatures, which often revive debate over climate change and national energy policies, coincide with efforts by industry groups to overturn rules that curb greenhouse gases and other power plant emissions.

The comments actually have a few voices of sanity, which is unusual for the WSJ. Sent on June 9:

In a recently published study in the journal Nature, 22 climate scientists assess the steadily accumulating evidence and conclude that humanity’s impact on Earth may well bring about dramatic and devastating climatic “tipping points” within our lifetimes. In this context, the news that last year brought record high temperatures in the United States should alarm the American business community.

The NOAA data will probably be dismissed by those more interested in quick short-term profits than in steady long-term returns. In ignoring this and similar findings over the past few decades, myopic corporate entities and their enablers in the political system operate under the delusion that the laws of physics and chemistry are akin to fiscal regulations imposed by governmental fiat, and thus can be violated with impunity. But the greenhouse effect offers no loopholes. It’s time for business to stop ignoring the climate crisis and start working to solve it.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 25: It Looks Like It’s Climbing Clear Up To The Sky

The Gannett News Service for New York’s Lower Hudson Valley is called Lohud.com; they run an article about the study of climate change’s impact on New York state:

If you lost power after the recent nor’easter or struggled with flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, gear up. There’s more to come.

Scientists at some prestigious New York universities say the recent bizarre weather may be a part of a trend in the coming decades as the state faces an outsize effect of climate change because of its northern latitude and geology.

“It’s certainly an excellent example of what is to come,” said Klaus Jacob, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Palisades-based Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, one of several scientists who authored a study on the impact of climate change on New York state.

“It has been relatively rare till now. What will be different is that it will be more frequent. Therefore the impact will be more severe,” Jacob said.

This letter was a little longer than 150 words; I didn’t have time to pare it down due to various domestic exigencies. Sent Nov. 21:

The Energy Research and Development Authority study on climate change’s likely impact on New York State is just one of several recently released documents to discuss the shape of our future in a post-greenhouse-effect world. Along with the globally relevant work of NASA, the International Energy Agency, and the IPCC, regionally-focused climatologists have helped build a pile of scientific evidence far higher than your average denialist’s head. The picture they paint of the coming century is not a pretty one.

Those “once-in-a-lifetime” storms are going to be coming once or twice a decade; maybe even more often. More droughts, heat waves, shattered infrastructure, disrupted agriculture — our children and grandchildren may not be able to forgive us our decades of apathy.

While it will take many centuries for excess atmospheric CO2 to dissipate even if we stopped burning fossil fuel tomorrow, there is no longer any time for temporizing if we are to avoid catastrophic outcomes. Our politicians must stop protecting the oil industry’s profits, and bend their efforts towards protecting all of us from the consequences of climaticide.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 17: If We Stop Giving Money To The Oil Companies…

The NOAA has more exciting news for connoisseurs of impending doom:

Greenhouse gases are building at a steep rate in the atmosphere, the nation’s top climate agency reported, renewing concern that global warming may be accelerating.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, which indexes the key gases known to trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, rose 1.5% from 2009 to 2010, the agency reported.

The reported rise comes on top of an analysis by the Energy Department last week saying that global emissions of carbon dioxide, a key, long-lived greenhouse gas, had jumped by the biggest increment on record in 2010. The figures showed a 6% increase from the year before, a steeper rise than worst-case scenarios that had been laid out by climate experts four years before.

This started out as a revision of the letter I sent to the Boston Globe a few days ago. It’s always fun to mock Rick Perry a bit, so that wound up as the lede. Sent November 13:

It was just a few days ago that Rick Perry finally — oops! — remembered his intention to defund the Department of Energy — coincidentally, the agency responsible for one of the most alarming recent reports on climate change. Can anyone doubt that every single Republican presidential candidate would enthusiastically endorse a similar response to the NOAA, whose Annual Greenhouse Gas Index is reporting equally bad news?

The NOAA report is terrifying to anyone willing to read the numbers. The consequences of such drastic increases in GHG emissions include devastating storms, droughts, out-of-season precipitation and other forms of extreme weather — all leading inevitably to disrupted agriculture and infrastructure on the regional level. Climate change’s geopolitical effects include resource wars and increased political instability, according to both military and CIA analyses.

In the GOP’s world, bad news disappears when you stop paying for it. If only it were that easy.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 1, Day 25: We’re Telling You So

The Idaho Mountain Press joins the ranks of global warming alarmists with an article noting that things are getting hotter and it’s going to start hurting us, like, really soon. And the comments on this article are extraordinarily stupid, which prompted this response:

The pattern of online comments responding to articles discussing the very real threat of climate change is predictable. First there are the reflexive deniers — those whose talking points come directly from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. They can be recognized by their reliance on uninformed mockery (ridiculing Al Gore, for example). Then come the conspiracy theorists who would have us believe that all the world’s scientists are attempting to seize our assets, criminalize SUV ownership, and usher in a new socialist world order — a notion especially ludicrous to anyone who’s ever actually known a scientist. Close behind them are the “Climategate” afficionadi, who cling to the notion that a multiply-debunked non-scandal somehow invalidates decades of measurement and analysis. And when a voice of reason points out that the wealthy and powerful petroleum industry is far more likely to distort unwelcome data than climate scientists, he or she is treated to a stream of insults and derision. Meanwhile, the world grows ever hotter.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 1, Day 17: Say What?

The Seattle Times notices the NOAA report (2010 ties 2005 as warmest year on record, breaks the record for wettest year, etc., etc.)

If you’ve been paying attention, you knew by last July that 2010 was going to break planetary weather records. And if you’re still paying attention, you’re anticipating that 2011 will be pretty hot and pretty extreme, too. Unfortunately, if you’re paying attention to climate change, you’re in the minority; most of our fellow citizens have internalized the notion that “the science isn’t settled,” thanks to our media’s readiness to “balance” every genuinely worried climate expert with a smooth-talking shill for the fossil fuel industry. The facts have been in for a long time (for example, a 1953 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine discussed atmospheric warming caused by CO2 emissions). And yet we have failed to act. Addicted to a culture of convenience, locked in cycles of conspicuous consumption, we are unwilling to make the hard choices on which our survival as a species is increasingly likely to depend.  Hell, we can’t even talk about those choices and their consequences for our future and the futures of our children.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 21: Tell The Truth, Tell The Truth, Tell The Truth

The Times had an editorial about the eventual release of the NOAA report on the State of the Gulf. That triggered this reflection on the harm that BP’s toxic clouds of press-conference bullshit have done to our ability to figure out what the hell is going on. I think I’ll write Lubchenco tomorrow and tell her the same thing in more measured terms.

It is natural to hope that Director Lubchenco’s long-awaited report on the condition of the Gulf of Mexico gives us good news about the marine ecosystems that have been shattered by the unimaginable disaster on the Deepwater Horizon.   But whether the Gulf is recovering or not, the single most important thing Americans need to hear is that the time of denying and disguising inconvenient truths is over.   As the spill and its aftermath saturated the news, dribs and drabs of information drifted in, revealing disturbing glimpses of a systemic negligence at the highest corporate levels.  BP’s largely successful attempts to control the media’s reporting of the Gulf tragedy are a vivid example of the destruction of our informational environment by malign corporate entities seeking the maximization of profits rather than the common good.  If we are to repair our planet’s climate, we require unblinkingly accurate information, not corporate spin.

Warren Senders

Month 7, Day 29: False Equivalence — Variations on a Theme

According to the Financial Times (behind a subscription firewall, so I won’t link to it)…

International scientists have injected fresh evidence into the debate over global warming, saying that climate change is “undeniable” and shows clear signs of “human fingerprints” in the first major piece of research since the “Climategate” controversy.

The research, headed by the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, is based on new data not available for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2007, the target of attacks by sceptics in recent years.

The NOAA study drew on up to 11 different indicators of climate, and found that each one pointed to a world that was warming owing to the influence of greenhouse gases, said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK’s Met Office, one of the agencies participating.

The article quotes three climatologists. Then it quotes four so-called “skeptics,” presumably in the interests of balance (they include people from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, a “blogger” and a financier who “follows climate change as a hobby.”). This shit makes my blood boil.

The evidence keeps coming in: climate change is real, it’s caused by humans, and it’s likely to cause enormous amounts of damage to the world we live in in the decades to come. The latest reports from the N.O.A.A. confirm what climatologists have been saying for years. 2010 is well on track to be the hottest year on record; storms and extreme weather are hammering places all over the globe; oceans are acidifying far faster than scientists’ rather conservative predictions — if we are to escape the direst consequences of global warming, we need concerted worldwide action, not cosmetic measures. But instead of helping people understand the dimensions of the crisis, our media choose to maintain a specious policy of false equivalence, as witness the ratio of climate scientists to denialists in Fiona Harvey’s article: three to four. To properly represent the scientific consensus, of course, the ratio should be around forty-eight to one. The Financial Times has abdicated its responsibility to the truth, and we are all the worse for it.

Warren Senders

Month 4, Day 25: Special Jackass Edition

I read two posts at the GOS. First, the regular “State of the Climate” report summarizing NOAA data. And second, the news (which does not surprise me one whit) that Lindsey Graham is in a snit about the Senate’s taking up immigration reform all of a sudden…so he’s abandoning the climate bill. What a jackass.

Dear Senator Graham,

I understand you’re mad at the Democrats because they’re trying to work on immigration reform — so you’re going to refuse to be involved with the climate legislation you’ve been crafting with Senators Kerry and Lieberman.

Now, I’m not going to lump you in with ignoramuses like your Republican colleague James Inhofe, whose version of a climate/energy strategy appears to be “wait for the Rapture” — but I am endlessly amazed by the capacity of Republican politicians to pass off specious and illogical arguments as if they were irrefutable fact.

So the Senate is going to work on immigration reform? Does that affect the work you’ve been doing? Apparently the United States Senate can’t do two things at once?

Let me remind you of two things. First, according to NOAA analysis: The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2010 was the warmest on record; this was also the 34th consecutive March with global land and ocean temperatures above the 20th century average. Locations all over the world reported temperature anomalies this month, many of which were all-time record highs. The planet is getting warmer, and it’s doing so more rapidly than climatologists expected even a few months ago. We’re in genuine trouble, and inaction is not a viable option.

Second, the bill you’ve been working on is loaded with giveaways to the fossil fuel industry; from an environmental perspective it’s as weak as it could possibly be and still address climatic concerns at all. Which is to say, it obviously reflects your input.

So — why would you decide at the last minute to abandon support for a bill you helped write? Even though this bill is weak, it’s a start. Your readiness to run away from it looks more like a wounded ego — and what kind of man lets an insult to his pride stand in the way of fulfilling his responsibilities?

Pathetic. Yours is a singular combination of political and moral cowardice that bodes ill for the future of our country and our world.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders