Tuesday, August 7, 2012

To The WaPo, When It Comes To Global Climate Change, 'Science' Equals 'Opinion'

Somewhere on Earth
That's right. NASA scientist James Hansen's column, "Climate change is here — and worse than we thought," is published in the op‑ed section, under the header "Opinions." His article is paired with one of those "but on the other hand" articles, presumably to appease the right-wing nut-jobs who increasingly control the paper (no link from here, mofo's).Yeah, right, all that A/C we're using just to keep the temp in Our House tolerable is caused purely by opinions. Still, as expected, Hansen makes a compelling argument that most of today's extreme weather events are indeed due to climate change; please read the article. Opinion, my ass. Maybe I need a new section label something like "when good newspapers go bad." Still, at least they published it somewhere. Here's a sample:

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.

Taylor Creek, MT, July 2012
As somebody said in Bored of the Rings, "the fewmets have hit the windmill." Global climate change is not an opinion: it's a demonstrated fact, supported by  both scientific and casual observation (see photo, right). Not even a WaPo editor can change that fact.

Should Republicans care? Here's Hansen again:
This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it — the world that caused the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data show, will become even more frequent and more severe.
Climate change deniers: do you want Earth to look like Mars? or maybe Venus? do you want to spend billions attempting to repair the damage, and yet failing? Sorry, but... no. It's your world, but it's not your world to spoil.

From NASA Goddard, here is the research news release including two videos, and the science brief, presuming you're not scared of charts. Here is an abstract, which I reproduce in full here:
"Climate dice," describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons, have become more and more "loaded" in the past 30 y, coincident with rapid global warming. The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3°) warmer than the climatology of the 1951-1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth's surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area. It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small. We discuss practical implications of this substantial, growing, climate change.
And finally, here is the rather long .pdf of the report itself.

ASIDE: at Our House, we are on a 100% wind power plan. Apart from busting our budget, we at least don't contribute to the problem.


  1. Hansen's report is devastating, and yet the incremental disaster that is happening has been common knowledge for at least twenty years. As for Wapo----that pathetic propaganda rag, the usual faux dance of objectivity proclaims to balance scientific fact against fantasies and opinion. I'm glad at my age not to see the worst of it. but mourn for children born into this evil, decaying America.0

  2. karmanot, heretofore, I've felt some regret that I never had children. Now, I feel sorry for my friends who have offspring. Their kids, mostly young adults by now, will probably suffer terribly at some point, all so that Exxon tankers could soil beaches with impunity, BP's Deepwater Horizon could pollute the Gulf of Mexico for years to come, fishermen and people who depend on seafood for a living can do without, Houston air can be polluted with particulates or ozone about three days a week, etc. etc. ... and Exxon and BP shareholders can earn big bucks. It isn't right. It isn't just. It isn't moral. As you point out, we've known for DECADES that this was coming, and instead of responding sensibly, we've allowed the right-wing nut-jobs to mock Al Gore, elected Republicans to facilitate eviscerating the regulatory framework, etc. We deserve this; we called the tune... but it's our children's generation that will pay the piper.

  3. My husband had friends out to lunch recently. One woman asked him, "What about this global warming then?"... said in a manner that indicated she was inviting supportive comments on how silly it all was. My husband, forever the scientist, replied,"Oh, it is happening alright. But we won't suffer much for it. Our grandchild will." Her mouth was left hanging open for a very satisfying few minutes...

  4. ellroon, I have no idea when you posted this comment; it went into the spam bucket, and I just now retrieved it. Sorry.

    That is my impression, though I am no scientist: based on what I've read, global climate change is underway right now, and in less than 100 years (perhaps much less), life will be miserable for H. sapiens practically everywhere on Earth.



• Click here to view existing comments.
• Or enter your new rhyme or reason
in the new comment box here.
• Or click the first Reply link below an existing
comment or reply and type in the
new reply box provided.
• Scrolling manually up and down the page
is also OK.

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes