Year 3, Month 8, Day 17: Quiet Out There! Do You Have Any Idea What Time It Is?

James Hansen again, this time reprinted in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988, I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic.

My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.

In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.

This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.

These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.

Another Paul Revere letter. Sent August 6:

As far back as the Kennedy administration, scientists have warned that consequences of our CO2 emissions had the potential to transform Earth in potentially devastating ways — and politicians chose to leave the problem for someone else to solve. By the 1980s, climate science had grown more sophisticated, and experts predicted that genuine disaster loomed unless action was taken to limit our greenhouse emissions. Instead, the can was kicked again and again; the public was kept in the dark. During the Bush administration, NASA climatologist James Hansen’s report on the situation was blocked by politically-motivated censorship — and increasingly unhinged conservative media figures whipped up anti-science zealotry among their audiences. Climate scientists like Hansen, Michael Mann and many others routinely receive hate mail and death threats for reporting their findings.

Over two centuries ago, the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord responded unhesitatingly to a midnight warning, and our nation remains grateful. Now, a modern-day Paul Revere is trying to wake us up. Where would America be if the patriots of 1775 had hurled abuse and calumnies at that midnight rider before they rolled over and went back to sleep? And where will we be two centuries from now if we ignore James Hansen’s clear and urgent warnings?

Warren Senders

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