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IPCC Issues New & Very Pessimistic/Apocalyptic Report
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The Climate Deniers Are Using the Same Tactics as the Tobacco Industry

By Thom Hartmann [/TD]
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(image by IMAGE: INTERNET)

As it becomes increasingly obvious that global warming is entering doomsday scenario territory, the fossil fuel industry is ramping up the propaganda war.

Last week, the so-called Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released its fifth report "debunking" the findings of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
According to the NIPCC report, which was published by the conservative think tank the Heartland Institute, global warming is nothing to worry about. It's just a natural process that's happened hundreds of times before. If anything, the report concludes, global warming could be a good thing because extra CO2 in the atmosphere means more air for plants to breath.
Not surprisingly, Fox So-Called News has picked up on the NIPCC report and is treating it like real science.
But if you're wondering why 97 percent of scientists disagree with the NIPCC on global warming, Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast says it's because the entire climate science community has been "corrupted" by environmentalists.

In reality, though, it's the NIPCC and the Heartland institute that are corrupt and dishonest.
To quote Deep Throat, just follow the money.
The Heartland Institute, the think tank that published the NIPCC report, is largely funded by the fossil fuel industry and its allies. In fact, it's received around $67 million dollars over the past 30 years from donors like Exxon Mobil, the Koch Brothers, and the Scaife Foundation. All stand to get very, very rich if we continue pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
The NIPCC report's leading authors, meanwhile, are a virtual who's who of the climate denial industry. Dr. Fred Singer, the group's founder, has been pushing the lie that global warming isn't a big deal for decades now, and fossil fuel companies have helped him out all along the way. Another author, Craig Idso, actually used to work for coal giant Peabody Energy.
Make no mistake about it: the NIPCC report is one giant scam created by the fossil fuel industry to trick the public into thinking global warming is a lie.
History, it seems, is repeating itself in the worst possible way. Back in the 1990s, the people behind the NIPCC climate change denial machine used to shill for another not-so-reputable industry: the tobacco industry.
As lawsuits and Congressional hearings turned public opinion against the tobacco industry, the Heartland Institute pushed out bunk study after bunk study claiming that there was no connection between secondhand smoke and cancer.
In 1998, for example, current Heartland President Joseph Bast argued in a piece for the think tank's website that the "EPA had to twist and torture its data to find a public health risk from secondhand smoke."
The Heartland Institute's PR campaign was so crucial to the tobacco industry's cause that Phillip Morris executive Tom Borelli actually listed supporting the Heartland Institute as one of his company's most important strategies in a 1993 memo called the "Five Year Plan."
At the same time as Heartland towed the big tobacco party line, NIPCC founder Fred Singer was busy pumping out some blatant pro-tobacco of his own. In 1993, he joined up with the Philip Morris' favorite PR firm APCO Associates to "debunk" studies showing the link between secondhand smoke and cancer.

All this, of course, was done to protect the interests of giant tobacco companies who denied in front of Congress that nicotine was addictive.
There are few coincidences in history. The fossil fuel industry today appears to be following the exact same script used by the tobacco industry in the 1990s.
If you're an optimist, you might point to tobacco settlement of the 1990s and say that eventually the truth will prevail and the bad guys will get outed.
But remember, it took more than 30 years after Surgeon General Luther Terry warned the American people about the dangers of smoking to hold the tobacco industry accountable for the deaths it was causing and continues to cause.
With global warming, we may not have that kind of time. Some scientists think runaway climate change could kill off the human race in a matter of decades.
It's time for the American people and the media to wake up and call out the climate denial industry for what it is, a scam, before it's too late.

After all, the future of humanity is at stake.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Who most closely represents the way the American Government is run? Global Warming aware people or the Heartland deniers? The FBI warns that environmentalists are dangerous terrorists. So which side and its effect does the US government more closely resemble?

Odds that global warming is due to natural factors: Slim to none

April 11, 2014

McGill University

An analysis of temperature data since 1500 all but rules out the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is just a natural fluctuation in the earth's climate, according to a new study.

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Polar bear in melting Arctic. Statistical analysis rules out natural-warming hypothesis with more than 99% certainty.
Credit: © st__iv / Fotolia
[Click to enlarge image]

An analysis of temperature data since 1500 all but rules out the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is just a natural fluctuation in the earth's climate, according to a new study by McGill University physics professor Shaun Lovejoy.




The study, published online April 6 in the journal Climate Dynamics, represents a new approach to the question of whether global warming in the industrial era has been caused largely by man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Rather than using complex computer models to estimate the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions, Lovejoy examines historical data to assess the competing hypothesis: that warming over the past century is due to natural long-term variations in temperature.
"This study will be a blow to any remaining climate-change deniers," Lovejoy says. "Their two most convincing arguments - that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong - are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it."
Lovejoy's study applies statistical methodology to determine the probability that global warming since 1880 is due to natural variability. His conclusion: the natural-warming hypothesis may be ruled out "with confidence levels great than 99%, and most likely greater than 99.9%."
To assess the natural variability before much human interference, the new study uses "multi-proxy climate reconstructions" developed by scientists in recent years to estimate historical temperatures, as well as fluctuation-analysis techniques from nonlinear geophysics. The climate reconstructions take into account a variety of gauges found in nature, such as tree rings, ice cores, and lake sediments. And the fluctuation-analysis techniques make it possible to understand the temperature variations over wide ranges of time scales.
For the industrial era, Lovejoy's analysis uses carbon-dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels as a proxy for all man-made climate influences - a simplification justified by the tight relationship between global economic activity and the emission of greenhouse gases and particulate pollution, he says. "This allows the new approach to implicitly include the cooling effects of particulate pollution that are still poorly quantified in computer models," he adds.
While his new study makes no use of the huge computer models commonly used by scientists to estimate the magnitude of future climate change, Lovejoy's findings effectively complement those of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he says. His study predicts, with 95% confidence, that a doubling of carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere would cause the climate to warm by between 2.5 and 4.2 degrees Celsius. That range is more precise than - but in line with -- the IPCC's prediction that temperatures would rise by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius if CO[SUB]2[/SUB] concentrations double.
"We've had a fluctuation in average temperature that's just huge since 1880 - on the order of about 0.9 degrees Celsius," Lovejoy says. "This study shows that the odds of that being caused by natural fluctuations are less than one in a hundred and are likely to be less than one in a thousand.
"While the statistical rejection of a hypothesis can't generally be used to conclude the truth of any specific alternative, in many cases - including this one - the rejection of one greatly enhances the credibility of the other."

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  • S. Lovejoy. Scaling fluctuation analysis and statistical hypothesis testing of anthropogenic warming. Climate Dynamics, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00382-014-2128-2
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
In America "Heartland" roughly equates to the red states and their Republican constituency. If you look at a political map of America the Republican states are mostly the rural and farming states drawn along some very precise political and geographical borders. This is basically the divide and conquer strategy of some very criminal powers that exploit the differences of Americans for their purposes. More and more Republicanism in America is equated with criminal international and progressive acts and policies.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: A major new report warns that human-driven climate change is already having dramatic health, ecological and financial impact across the nation. The study, known as the National Climate Assessment, was released by the White House on Tuesday and is being called a possible "game changer" for efforts to address climate change. The study details how the consequences of climate change are hitting on several fronts: rising sea levels along the coasts, droughts and fires in the Southwest, and extreme precipitation across the country.
AMY GOODMAN: The assessment finds the number and strength of extreme weather events have increased over the past 50 years. And it describes an ongoing sea-level rise, which it says will increase the risk of erosion and storm-surge damage, raising the stakes for the nearly five million Americans living in coastal areas. The report also concludes the past decade was the country's warmest on record, and the human influence on climate has, quote, "roughly doubled the probability of extreme heat events." After the report was released Tuesday, President Obama spent part of day discussing its major findings with television meteorologists from across the country.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The assessment is clear: Not only is climate change a problem in the future, it's already affecting Americans. It's increasing the likelihood of floods, increasing the likelihood of drought. It's increasing the likelihood of storms and hurricanes. It's having an impact on our agriculture. It's having an impact on our tourism industries. And people's lives are at risk. So, the emphasis on the climate action plan that I've put forward, as well as this assessment, is there are things we can do about it, but it's only going to happen if the American people and people around the world take the challenge seriously.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we're joined now by Radley Horton. He's a climatologist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. He co-wrote the Northeast region chapter of the new National Climate Assessment.
Radley Horton, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about these overall findings and the significance of your report.
RADLEY HORTON: So this is the most comprehensive look yet at how climate change is already affecting the United States. We're seeing sea levels eight inches higher on average; in the Northeast, a foot higher. We've seen average temperatures go up by one-and-a-half degrees; two degrees in the Northeast. We're seeing the heaviest rain events already getting stronger. So climate change is already happening, and it is having impacts for all Americans. That's one of the key messages of the report.
AMY GOODMAN: What makes your report different?
RADLEY HORTON: So I think what's unique about this report is how comprehensive the voices were that were included in this discussion. So we had about 300 authors. We had scientists, public/private-sector stakeholders, members of indigenous groups, local communities, all getting together and really identifying climate changes that are happening right now, also beginning to propose solutions. And if you compare this report to, say, the IPCC report, with that global take, you find a sort of closer look at different slices of American society here. So we have assessments for eight regions, a variety of sectors. We looked for the first time at some of the ways that impacts across sectors can create double whammies. For example, we looked back at Hurricane Sandy, how we saw failures in the electrical grid having impacts on our ability to distribute food, to keep heat and power on for other people, and how that just created a broad variety of impacts.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And you co-authored the Northeast region part of the report, so could you speak specifically about the impacts here?
RADLEY HORTON: Absolutely. So, some of the things that we highlighted in the Northeast are that we've had faster sea-level rise than the global average. We've actually had about a foot of sea-level rise in the Northeast. That's already changing the frequency of coastal flooding. We have so much infrastructure along the coast. A lot of it's aged. It's critical, everything from I-95 to our rail corridors, Amtrak, commuter railroad; as I mentioned earlier, those electrical substations; wastewater treatment plants. As sea levels rise and we get more frequent coastal flooding, that infrastructure is going to continue to be compromised, and our most vulnerable populations are going to suffer more. But it's not just sea-level rise. We've also seen the fastest increase in heavy rain events, downpours in the Northeast, roughly a 70 percent increase in the amount of rain in those very intense storms just since the middle of the last century.
AMY GOODMAN: What causes these kind of climate changes?
RADLEY HORTON: Yes, so at the most general level, of course, as greenhouse gas concentrations have gone up, we've got about 40 percent more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than we did under pre-industrial conditions. That is warming the planet. It's changing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. As the ocean expands, it's causing sea levels to rise. When we start to get into some of the regional variations, why we're seeing differences in the Northeast versus other areas, part of the story is that the land is just sinking a little bit in the Northeast. But another part of the story
AMY GOODMAN: What does that mean?
RADLEY HORTON: OK, so, basically, New York City and much of the Northeast coast is actually sinking at about three inches per century, really just in response to the last ice age. So it has nothing to do with the climate change that's happening right now. It's really just sort of the surface of the land sinking down. So we have about eight inches of global sea-level rise. We have a little bit of land sinking. But there's another factor in the Northeast from a research perspective that we're looking at: Will the strength of the Gulf Stream change in a way that will cause the ocean height to come up a little bit along the Northeast coast? That's emerging research. But really, the bottom line is that sea-level rise alone, you know, the sort of central projection is two to three feet this century. You could call that a fairly conservative projection. That will more than triple the frequency of coastal flooding in the Northeast, even if storms don't get any stronger. You wouldn't need stronger hurricanes. Just raising that baseline turns what used to be one-in-a-hundred-year flood event into something that you can expect during the lifetime of the typical mortgage.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: You've also suggested that some cities and states have taken steps to limit the impact of climate change and reduce emissions. What are some of those steps? Where are those places, first of all? And what more do you think needs to be done?
RADLEY HORTON: Yeah, so I'm glad you brought that up. That's another way that this assessment really differs from some of the past work. In the last five or six years, we really have seen more articulation of the ways that we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the variety of steps we can take to deal with some of these climate changes that are basically bound to happen. In terms of some of the places that are at the vanguard, a lot of it is cities. You know, certainly think of places like New York; Los Angeles has a climate action plan; San Francisco; Boston.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So what kinds of steps has New York taken, for example?
RADLEY HORTON: OK, so New York City has done a variety of things. They are looking at elevating critical infrastructure, raising homes, also green infrastructure. It's expanding wetland areas to the extent that's possible. Also, there have been some strategies to deal with more frequent heat waves that are expected in the future. So this is planting more trees so that we have more shade, putting cooling centers in so to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our population when we have heat waves. Those are a couple of the things New York City has done.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, on the issue of Superstorm Sandy, the intensity of the hurricane, explain what causes this kind of intensity.
RADLEY HORTON: Yeah, so, a hurricane, part of the storyit takes a lot of factors to come together to generate a hurricane. At the beginning, for a hurricane like Sandy, the story starts over West Africa with sort of a small depression, just a low-pressure system that has to form. As it gets out over the Atlantic Ocean, if the conditions are right, if you have a warm upper ocean, if the wind patterns are consistent, that storm can grow and grow. Now, what we can say in terms of how Sandy might have been impacted by a changing climate, there's really only one piece where the link is 100 percent, and that's the issue of the amount of coastal flooding. As I said earlier, sea levels a foot higher in the Northeast than they were a century ago, the majority of that due to climate change, that raised the floor. It raised that baseline. When Sandy came, it pushed the floodwaters further inland. It pushed the wave damage further inland.
There's emerging research looking at questions like how the intensity of the storms themselves might change. Will a warming upper ocean make storms stronger? There's a lot of reason to think so, but it's not a sure thing, because we've got to look at other things, like how the change in wind directions in the atmosphere could change. Then there's also even more speculative, but potentially very important research talking about changes in the Arctic, loss of sea ice. Could that actually change these jet stream patterns? If you recall, we had this sort of very unusual configuration that allowed Sandy to take this sort of left hook. It's too early to say whether climate change could make that sort of thing more common, but from a risk perspective, it may be worth considering. And we can say for sure that higher sea levels are going to increase coastal vulnerability, not just in the Northeast, but elsewhere.
AMY GOODMAN: On the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, then-Mayor Bloomberg here in New York said the city is being rebuilt to better handle future storms.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: If another storm like Sandy ever approaches our shores, it will find a far different city from the one that Sandy left behind, a city much more able to withstand the kind of surging sea waters and punishing winds that Sandy brought. We are building New York City back stronger and smarter so that we'll be resilient to a broad range of extreme weather events in the future, including big coastal storms.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Mayor Bloomberg. Is it true theNew York is preparing, this region, New York, New Jersey?
RADLEY HORTON: I think it is true that New York City has shown leadership. It goes back to before Sandy. Bloomberg convened an adaptation task force back in 2008. We had PlaNYC beginning to look at ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, going back even further than that. So New York City, I think, has stepped up and faced the climate risks. We're having the climate conversation here. The infrastructure sectors are looking at their vulnerabilities today to things like heat waves, heavy rain events. But we have to keep in mind that these projected changes are very large. And I mentioned earlier, we have aging infrastructure. It's a major challenge. And I think everybody needs to be at the table in New York City, but also nationally, right, because there's huge coordination issues involved here, as well.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And does the report make specific suggestions as to what particular cities and states ought to be doing to limit the effects of climate events like Hurricane Sandy?
RADLEY HORTON: Yeah, so what the report does is proposes a range of possible strategies. It talks a lot about why we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions quickly if we want to get on a trajectory that avoids the really extreme sea-level rise, that avoids big changes in the frequency of heat waves. And it also talks a lot about adaptation, proposing a range of different strategies.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this year, news broke that the entire state of California is in drought for the first time in 15 years. More than three-quarters of California is experiencing extreme drought. California Governor Jerry Brown urged residents to curb their usage by, for example, refusing glasses of water in restaurants. Governor Brown said the drought was tied to long-term climate change. He went on to say, quote, "We are playing Russian roulette with our environment." Southern California has also been battling a string of wildfires. This is Governor Brown speaking in January.
GOV. JERRY BROWN: It's important, first of all, to awaken all Californians to the serious matter of drought, because we're facing perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen since records began being kept about a hundred years ago. Well, I think the drought emphasizes that we do live in an era of limits, that nature has its boundaries, and we have to be as efficient and elegant in the way we live and the way we conduct ourselves.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to California Governor Jerry Brown? And talk about the difference between what's happening in the Northeast and what's happening on the West Coast.
RADLEY HORTON: Yeah, so it's really important to emphasize that different regions are going to experience climate change in different ways. In the Northeast, we're very worried about more heavy rain events. In parts of the West, California, and the Southwest, water is a big concern right now, not having enough water. And a lot of the climate change projections suggest that will get worse. We can't say for sure how much climate change is causing what's been experienced in the last year specifically, but we can say that higher temperatures are going to mean more evaporation. You'd need more rainfall, basically, just to maintain the soil balance, moisture balance that you need for agriculture. Another huge projection out of the West is a lot of the snowpack is expected to decrease, right, as temperatures rise. That snowpack is sort of the vital reservoir for summer moisture, as that snow melts, provides rainprovides water for the agriculture. If that snowpack reservoir decreases, it's a huge issue, huge water issue. And along with that decrease in water, more competition for the remaining water and greater risk of wildfires, as you alluded to earlier.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So you mentioned agriculture. What does the report say about the likely impact of climate change on food production?
RADLEY HORTON: Yeah, so thethe story on agriculture is a complicated one in the U.S. The report acknowledges that in the next couple decades, increases in carbon dioxide due to global warming could help crops a little bit for a couple decades. We also do expect to see the growing season expand, right, as temperatures rise.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: How will it help crops? How will
RADLEY HORTON: Most crops do well when they have extra carbon dioxide. They're able to basically decrease the amount to which they're sort of exposed to the atmosphere. They can get that carbon dioxide easier. The bottom line is it can mean that they don't have to give up as much water. They can sort of hold the water they have better with more carbon dioxide. And also we might have a longer growing season.
But that's really only part of the story. We have to also be thinking about how pests might change. A lot of weeds are going to do really well with climate change. A lot of insect pests that are damaging to agriculture and ecosystems, more broadly, will do well, as well. So I think in the longer term, and as we look to other parts of the world, the guidance really is that climate change is posing huge challenges to agriculture.
AMY GOODMAN: Fox doesn't see it that way. I wanted to turn to Dana Perino, the co-host of Fox News's The Five. She's the former spokesperson for President Bush. She took issue with President Obama's focus on climate change, challenging meteorologists to shift the conversation away from climate change and towards, of all things, the 2012 attacks in Libya.
DANA PERINO: Tomorrow President Obama is going to do interviews with meteorologists all across the country about a new climate change report.
ERIC BOLLING: Yes, because the science is settled.
DANA PERINO: I hope they ask him about Benghazi.
ERIC BOLLING: Yeah, there you
DANA PERINO: Like the weatherman from, like, Montana should ask him about Benghazi. That'd be great.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Dana Perino on Fox. Radley Horton?
RADLEY HORTON: So, from a risk management perspective, the question is: Is climate change something we need to be thinking about? And I think this report, just released, makes it very clear that sea-level rise is going to dramatically change the frequency of coastal flooding. It's going to have impacts on all sectors of America, right? Our ports. Think about all the military installations along the coast, our valuable cities. There are huge economic implications. So, climate change can also be a risk multiplier, can have impacts on the probability of certain types of conflict around the world, too. It's not just a question of what's happening within our borders.
RADLEY HORTON: So I thinkyes.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the Midwest?
RADLEY HORTON: The Midwest is an area where we've seen some increase in heavy rainfall events, as well. It's an area where agriculture in the next couple decades may be able to do a little better as those carbon dioxide concentrations go up with a longer growing season. In the bigger term, though, we expect much more frequent heat waves. Those very heavy rain events, those downpours, can pose big challenges.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: But in the U.S., there are still some who believe that climate change isn't occurring, or if it is, humans have nothing to do with it, human activity has nothing to do with it. And even the majority who do believe it's happening aren't that concerned about it. So does the report say anything about how to make climate change a more urgent issue for more Americans?
RADLEY HORTON: So this report, for the first time, talks about communication strategies. It talks about ways for some of this climate information, which is being produced to a greater extent than ever before, can actually sort of get into decision making. Just to give one example from the Northeast, in Maine, they're working a lot right now on basically expanding the size of drainage pipesit sounds very boringthose sort of culverts under roads. They need to be replaced every year. And when there's storm damage, they need to be replaced even more frequently. We're basically mainstreaming making those pipes wider than they used to be to accommodate some of these heavier rainstorms. So the climate information is coming in, and it's sort of informing decision making in everything from sort of mundane wayshow to expand, you know, storm pipesto grand thinking about our coastlines.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: What impact do you think this report is likely to have on some of the climate policies that the Obama administration is considering?
RADLEY HORTON: Well, I think this report really tells the story very succinctly about how all Americans are going to be impacted by climate change, how it's a nonpartisan issue. When people are suffering, when people are making decisions about investments, decisions about where they want to live, how to protect their most vulnerable communities, they're not thinking in a political context. So I think the report lays out, the science is clear: Climate change is already happening. Sure, there are going to be some uncertainties, but from a risk perspective, we know enough already about how rising sea levels are changing the frequency of coastal flooding. Higher temperatures are loading the dice towards more frequent heat events and heavier rain events. From a risk perspective, are we better off considering those changing probabilities or assuming we'll continue to get what we used to get in the past?
AMY GOODMAN: The issue of the House of Representatives votingpassing legislation that said NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, cannot talk about climate change but only talk about severe weather? Also, the Tennessee Legislature not fully outlawing public transit, but going in that direction?
RADLEY HORTON: Yeah, so, I mean, we need to see these links. Extreme weather events are not just weather. They're not just something that you predict a few days in advance. As the climate is changing, as sea levels rise, as temperatures go up, the probabilities change. So climate change and increasing greenhouse gases are impacting these extreme events that we know are so critical for society. That's one of the real messages from this report.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, it's very interesting that President Obama did interviews with meteorologists yesterday, because they are key in shaping this country's attitude. I mean, they flash "severe weather," "extreme weather" as their lower third when they're talking. People often just tune into TV or radio to get weather reports. But rarely do they ever link those two words, "severe weather," with another two, "global warming" or "climate change." In fact, a number onI'm not just talking Fox, but on the networks are climate deniers. When they speak off air, even sometimes on air, they question whether humans are involved with climate change. Talk about the significant role of meteorologists in all of this.
RADLEY HORTON: Yeah, I think meteorologists are critical, as you say. Local news is still a critical source of information for a lot of people. They want to hear about what's happening right where they live, what's been happening recently, that local context in which most people make their decisions. So, meteorologists are a trusted source of information. If they can help sort of spread this message that climate change is already changing the frequency of these extreme events, it's already changing the context in which people are planting crops, making other decisions about their water usage, it can be a huge additional source of information and help people connect the dots, right, because people are sort of starting to observe some of these changes, but they lack that sort of broader context, in some cases, that this isn't just a local phenomenon. We're seeing global changes.
AMY GOODMAN: Should they be certified as a meteorologist if they haven't had this training or education? Or do they have it, and they just don't talk about it on television?
RADLEY HORTON: I don't know enough to answer the question specifically about different meteorologists' training. I think there'smy thought would be probably there's a broad range of perspectives in terms of the background. Some people have probably gone a lot further in their training than others. But, you know, I think you can certainly cite a lot of examples around the country of meteorologists who are bringing in some of this climate information. And hopefully the president's interaction with meteorologists yesterday will further that.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
NASA [partly] funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how 'perfect storm' of crises could unravel global system

[Image: This-NASA-Earth-Observato-006.jpg]This Nasa Earth Observatory image shows a storm system circling around an area of extreme low pressure in 2010, which many scientists attribute to climate change.

A new study partly-sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."
The independent research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary 'Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The HANDY model was created using a minor Nasa grant, but the study based on it was conducted independently. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.
It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:
"The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent."
By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, andEnergy.
These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."
Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with "Elites" based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:
"... accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels."
The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:
"Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use."
Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from "increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput," despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.
Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharrei and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:
".... appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature."
Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that "with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites."
In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most "detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners", allowing them to "continue 'business as usual' despite the impending catastrophe." The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)."
Applying this lesson to our contemporary predicament, the study warns that:
"While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory 'so far' in support of doing nothing."
However, the scientists point out that the worst-case scenarios are by no means inevitable, and suggest that appropriate policy and structural changes could avoid collapse, if not pave the way toward a more stable civilisation.
The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:
"Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion."
The NASA-funded HANDY model offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business - and consumers - to recognise that 'business as usual' cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.
Although the study based on HANDY is largely theoretical - a 'thought-experiment' - a number of other more empirically-focused studies - byKPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance - have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a 'perfect storm' within about fifteen years. But these 'business as usual' forecasts could be very conservative.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
New studies show global warming has helped cause an irreversible collapse of the ice sheet in western Antarctica. Scientists from NASA and the University of Washington say human driven-climate change has sped up the glaciers' retreat, threatening a global sea rise in the coming centuries from four to 13 feet. In a video released by NASA, scientist Eric Rignot of the University of California-Irvine said the melting has "passed the point of no return."
Eric Rignot: "We've passed the point of no return, and at this point it's just a matter of time before these glaciers completely disappear to sea. This system is evolving very fast and is progressing exactly as you would expect if it was about to collapse to sea. They're retreating at rates of about a kilometer per year. If these glaciers were sustaining this rate of retreat, they would disappear completely in a couple of centuries."
Rising sea levels pose the biggest threat to coastal areas and low-lying island nations, which are vulnerable to surging waters like those seen in Superstorm Sandy.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

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