21st century America »« CGI = Truth

I’m so sorry, Colorado

My daughter moves to Boulder, and what happens? The worst storm in a century. I’m not saying there’s a causal relationship, but you know we sent her far far away for a reason, right?

Actually, I’m pretty sure she had nothing to do with it. But there are things we could have done and should be doing right now.

As I wrote late last week, thanks in part to climate change, the odds are shifting toward more frequent extreme weather events like this. We all watched as the Hurricane Sandy relief bill languished in Congress for months. An economy on the doorstep of recovery doesn’t need yet another surprise $20 billion tab to pick up. Action on climate change would also help to prevent future disasters.

However, perhaps a more ominous takeaway is that the torrential rain in Colorado wasn’t well-forecast. The first flash flood watch was only issued by the National Weather Service on Thursday morning, less than 24 hours before the peak flooding. At the time, the forecaster on duty remarked “rainfall amounts today not expected to be as great as those observed during the past 18 hours.”

At the very least, Republicans should stop trying to dismantle the national weather service. Optimistically, they should stop dragging their heels on environmental issues. Once upon a time, Republicans could be relied on to snap to attention when a problem threatened to cost big money if not addressed; no more. Ideology is all.

Comments

  1. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Sad thing is, here in SC our lack of Hurricanes or even threats of hurricanes this year has many now poo-pooing the idea of increased strong climatic events caused by climate change.

    because, yeah, one season.

  2. Trebuchet says

    I blame Phil Plait.

    Also:

    Once upon a time, Republicans could be relied on to snap to attention when a problem threatened to cost big money if not addressed; no more.

    Not correct. They’ll still snap to attention if the problem is a shortage of F-35 fighters or a billionaire having to pay 2% in taxes.

  3. David Wilford says

    IMO, it will take a rise in sea level to finally get people to notice there is a problem. Of course by then the rise in global temperature will be baked in.

  4. sundiver says

    I recall that mushwit Ron Paul claimed we didn’t need the NWS because Accuweather did such a great job of forecasting. Then somebody pointed out to him that Accuweather got the data they needed to make their forecasts from, of all things, the NWS. Don’t remember his reaction, though.

  5. pointinline says

    Trebuchet, You could equally well say “because yeah, one storm” And if the experts are, by their own admission, so incapable of forecasting accurately for the next 24 hours, what does that say about their reliability and credibility of forecasting the next 100 years.

  6. says

    And if the experts are, by their own admission, so incapable of forecasting accurately for the next 24 hours, what does that say about their reliability and credibility of forecasting the next 100 years.

    What do YOU think it says, pointinline?

    Do you know what it takes to forecast weather in the short term?

    Do you know what it takes to forecast climate patterns in the long term?

    (I’m starting to sound like my 10th grade chemistry teacher. “What do YOU think?” It was annoying at the time, but man, what an effective pedagogical tool.)

  7. says

    In addition to defunding the weather service, Congress is busy trying to defund the EPA, and to derail any efforts to control carbon emissions.

    Rep. Ed Whitfield, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce panel on energy and power, is a conservative Kentucky Republican who already intends to push legislation to place new limits on what the EPA can do to regulate carbon pollution from power plants. For that matter, as the AP added, “Congress could also hinder the EPA by slashing its budget.”

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/09/18/20559938-congress-targets-obamas-climate-agenda

    … some of the House Republicans on the committee — the Energy and Power subcommittee — conducting the hearing are already on record casting doubt on climate science. GOP Rep. Joe Barton has said climate science is “not settled.” GOP Rep. David McKinley has claimed the same. And GOP Rep. John Shimkus has claimed global warming isn’t a worry because “God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood.”…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/09/17/gop-climate-skeptics-to-hold-hearing-on-climate-science/

  8. moarscienceplz says

    I used to be open to the idea of voting for an intelligent Republican candidate. No longer. I will NEVER vote for a Republican.The Gormless Old-folks Party is beyond hope of redemption, IMO. The few Republicans left who can actually accept and process facts should split off into a new party.

  9. says

    There’s been an article floating around Facebook about several dams having failed because of the torrents in Colorado, with the resulting floods causing most of the weather-related deaths. The article is accompanied by a picture of one of these breaches. Earlier this summer, FEMA issued a report that almost half of the dams in the United States are in dangerous disrepair.

    Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress are salivating at the thought of shutting down the federal government, effectively murdering the already starving to death agencies responsible for maintaining this country’s infrastructure. It would seem that the Republican plan for creating jobs and thus boosting the economy is to allow massive natural disasters to occur, then hire private contractors to clean up the dead bodies.

  10. moarscienceplz says

    It would seem that the Republican plan for creating jobs and thus boosting the economy is to allow massive natural disasters to occur, then hire private contractors to clean up the dead bodies.

    Soylent Green.

  11. Rey Fox says

    And GOP Rep. John Shimkus has claimed global warming isn’t a worry because “God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood.”…

    Perhaps it’s time we rethought democracy.

  12. says

    There’s been an article floating around Facebook about several dams having failed because of the torrents in Colorado, with the resulting floods causing most of the weather-related deaths.

    Huh? I live near the flooding, and I haven’t heard anything about dams breaking. A quick google search doesn’t turn up anything either.

    That doesn’t negate the point that we need to keep dams in good repair, but…you should be skeptical of “articles” floating around on FB.

  13. says

    Coverage of the Colorado floods and right wing and/or industry lies related to the floods — on the Salon site.
    http://www.salon.com/2013/09/18/industry_puppets_spew_obscene_lies_while_people_drown/
    Excerpts below:

    … In this instance, an industry puppet: 1) pretended such environmental stewardship is merely a luxury for those fortunate enough to be able to afford it; and 2) insinuated that a lack of such stewardship primarily harms the sensibilities of rich folk, but not much else. …

    Already, there is at least one confirmed oil pipeline leak. At the same time, the Denver Post reports that “oil drums, tanks and other industrial debris mixed into the swollen (South Platte) river.” Some of this has been caught on camera, as harrowing photos of partially submerged oil and gas sites now hit the Internet. It all suggests that there’s a very real possibility of a slow-motion environmental disaster – one whose potential damage to water supplies, spread of carcinogenic chemicals and contamination of agricultural land should concern both rich and poor….

    In retrospect, then, the flood powerfully illustrates the problem with officials like Lepore (who later apologized) pretending that environmental stewardship and the precautionary principle are just aristocratic priorities. They are, in fact, quite the opposite – they are a priority for everyone and if those priorities have any class implications at all, those implications disproportionately involve the middle- and lower classes.

    That, though, is only one of the big lessons from the Colorado flood. Another is the lesson that in the age of climate change and severe weather, geographic distance and the old “out of sight, out of mind” defense mechanism should no longer provide psychological comfort to anyone. …

  14. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Gregory in Seattle @12

    You may be thinking of this article:

    Dams break in Laimer and Adams counties, overtopped in Boulder

    From the article: ”

    In Colorado, which has dammed nearly all of its rivers, hundreds of dams have become structurally deficient and in need of repairs.

    According to a Division of Water Resources report for the year ending in October 2010, 359 dams are classified as high-hazard, meaning that their failure would probably kill people.

    The state has dealt with deficiencies in these and other dams by limiting the amount of water they’re permitted to hold.

    “There are a total of 176 dams restricted from full storage,” the state report read, “due to inadequate spillways and various structural deficiencies such as significant leakage, cracking and sliding of embankments.”

    The state has made some progress since. As of October, 157 dams “remained on the dam-safety restricted-storage list,” the division’s latest report says.

    Those are just the larger dams. Earthen dams less than 10 feet high or capable of holding less than 100 acre-feet of water are classified as non-jurisdictional and not inspected, Schoolmeesters said.

    Four of the five Big Elk Meadows dams were classed as too small to inspect. All five failed.”

  15. says

    More from the Salon article referenced above:


    At the state and local level, environmental regulators can stop behaving like de facto lobbyists for ecologically hazardous industries; legislators can pass – rather than reject – necessary proposals to tighten oil and gas regulations; siting authorities can employ the “first do no harm” idea before permitting more energy development in areas like floodplains; and local officials can be given more power to oversee the fossil fuel industry within their midst. Most important, all of them can finally reject climate change denialism and begin factoring in meteorological reality when making energy development decisions.

    That last necessity is where the federal government can play a special role. As a recent Government Accountability Office report documents, state and local “decision makers have not systematically considered climate change in infrastructure planning.” According to the report, fixing that problem requires “the federal government to improve local decision makers’ access to the best available (climate-related) information to use in infrastructure planning.” It stands to reason that when public officials are armed with such information, there’s at least a better chance that they will make more sound decisions – such as, say, opting against permitting $4 billion worth of oil and gas rigs in a flood-prone basin. …

  16. says

    Not sure how long this will last (other backers may show up), but for now there is good environmental news out of Alaska:

    Supporters of Alaska’s proposed Pebble Mine—an open-pit copper and gold mine said to contain hundreds of billions of dollars in resources but also the potential to wipe out an entire region’s way of life—took a major blow Monday when one of the main companies behind the project pulled out. Anglo American, one of the world’s largest mining companies, said it would rather focus on other projects in its stable.

    The Pebble Mine would be the largest of its kind in North America. Former Mother Jones staff writer Kate Sheppard put it into perspective in May: “[The mine] would be as much as two miles long, a mile and a half wide, and 1,700 feet deep … [sitting] at the headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak rivers, which feed into the Bristol Bay, producing as much as 11 billion tons of toxic mine waste over a span of decades.”…

    Yeah, tons of toxic mine waste avoided … at least for now.
    http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/09/anglo-american-drops-out-pebble-mine

  17. Nick Gotts says

    And if the experts are, by their own admission, so incapable of forecasting accurately for the next 24 hours, what does that say about their reliability and credibility of forecasting the next 100 years. – pointinline@6

    Well, let’s see. Where I am (Scotland), it’s difficult to predict whether tomorrow will be warmer than today. But it’s easy to predict that it will be colder than it is today, three months from now. So, since prediction clearly gets easier over longer periods, it should be a doddle to predict 100 years into the future, right?

    Yes, pointinline, I admit, that line of argument is fucking stupid. But it’s no fucking stupider than yours. Prediction over different time-periods is done in different ways, because different mechanisms dominate change, and short-term prediction is not necessarily easier than long-term prediction. Got it yet?

  18. Walton says

    pointinline, I’m curious as to the scientific basis of your criticisms.

    Do you understand the distinction between weather and climate?

    Do you accept that there is a long-term warming trend? Do you understand that long-term climate trends are different from short-term variations in weather?

    Do you accept that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen from around 280 to around 380 ppm during the course of the industrial age, and are continuing to rise? Do you accept that this increase is attributable to human activities?

    Do you understand the concepts of radiative forcing and climate sensitivity?

    Do you accept the consensus view as to the likely range of climate sensitivity? If not, what basis do you have for your dissent? Do you have any peer-reviewed climatological research to support your view? (Viscount Monckton doesn’t count, as his views on climate sensitivity have not been peer-reviewed and have been debunked repeatedly by actual climatologists, notably Gavin Schmidt of NASA.)

  19. says

    Even if the Republicans in Congress are not specifically targeting agencies that play a role in weather forecasting and hazard prediction, they are happy to use tactics like the sequester, which end up having the same effect.

    My work is intimately linked to NWS flood forecasting. I am responsible for ensuring the accuracy of discharge data from USGS streamflow gages in my region. These streamflow datasets are (in my opinion) a fantastic example of the benefits of public sector science — high quality, long-term data collected and published using uniform standards across the entire nation, and freely available to anyone who wants it (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis). Stuff like this, and NWS weather forecasts, are AMAZING when you think about it.

    Me and the other people who work in my part of the agency have to put in long hours of field work, visiting sites, observing changing conditions, doing calibrations measurements, and so forth. Right now our budget is strapped. We are putting off buying equipment that we need, both for routine measurements and for spare parts so that we can get a gage (yes, we spell it ‘gage’, not ‘gauge’ — deal with it) working again quickly if it goes offline. We are also technically not allowed to work overtime, and discouraged from multi-day field trips. But that’s an impossible request. We either get out there and do the work we need to do, or else our data quality goes from good to terrible. And the people who are using this data to determine, say, how much danger they are in from a flooding event, are expecting that data to be up to a high standard.

    For us, there’s really no way to win. We can either put in extra work that might be unpaid and spend money we don’t have, and produce high-quality data, and the pro-sequester folks will say ‘See? The budget was too big! Make the cuts permanent!’ or else we let the quality of data drop, and get blamed and told that federal agencies are bad at what they do. It’s frustrating. We take a lot of pride in doing good science. We can hold things together by the skin of our teeth for a while, but if funding continues at or below sequester levels for too long, it’s going to do permanent damage.

    (PS — The views in this post are purely my own, personal opinions, and should not be taken for an official USGS statement of any sort.)

  20. RFW says

    P-zed: “Ideology is all.”

    Since ideology is a matter of forcing square pegs into round holes, and vice versa, it’s guaranteed to be (a) a gross oversimplification and (b) usually wrong. Moreover, since the goobers on the right evidently aren’t capable of rational thought about anything more complex than the pressing question “Wheaties or Cheerios for breakfast?”, the ideology that appeals to them is also dumbed down, hence is stupider than many other ideologies. Frankly, Marxism, Leninism-Stalinism, and Maoism make more sense than the nonsense that appeals to the goobers.

    Can’t be taxing the few brain cells the goobers still have, you know!

  21. timberwoof says

    Long ago, geologists looked at the canyon walls in Colorado and saw scary scrape marks. They concluded that very large floods happened from time to time. They were ignored, of course. If the Big Thompson of 1976 didn’t change people’s minds, then this flood won’t either.

    PZM, it’s not your daughter’s fault. It can’t be, because Westboro Baptist Church says it’s my fault.

  22. says

    My apologies, all. That seems to be the article I read; somehow it got conflated with the deaths and with the hundreds waiting for rescue.

    Sorry for not having my facts straight before posting. :-/

  23. No One says

    My spawn and her newly minted husband live in Boulder. She’s in one of the “safe” areas and didn’t sustain any property damage. Boulder will bounce back. Some really nice people live there.

  24. Ichthyic says

    Huh? I live near the flooding, and I haven’t heard anything about dams breaking

    so not just forecasting, but local news in general appears to be dismal in your area.

    might want to work on that.

  25. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    An economy on the doorstep of recovery doesn’t need yet another surprise $20 billion tab to pick up.

    Anyone who thinks it is a surprise is ignorant to deluded. The only things surprising may be exactly where and when a costly post-disaster effort will be required.

    Lynna, OM #22
    Wow, really? That’s great – for now.

    RFW

    Can’t be taxing the few brain cells the goobers still have, you know!

    No taxes!

  26. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    @ pointinline

    And if the experts are, by their own admission, so incapable of forecasting accurately for the next 24 hours, what does that say about their reliability and credibility of forecasting the next 100 years.

    Physicists can’t predict the motion of a single hydrogen atom; what does that say about their reliability in predicting the behavior of billions of atoms when heat is applied?

  27. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    BTW, I know it’s bad form to comment on ads on the site, but just below this post I’m getting an ad with the headline “Pick a side”, and below it, Ken Cuccinelli on one side and “Science” on the other. Cuccinelli is the current attorney general and the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia; he is perhaps best known nationally as the guy who tried to subpoena any emails sent by or to U Virginia employees relating to Michael Mann, in a fishing expedition for “fraud”. His opponent is the Clintonista Terry McAuliffe. Not my first choice, but under the circumstances….

    So what I’m trying to say is, great ad!

  28. pointinline says

    I do appreciate the difference between weather & climate. Correct me if I’m wrong but this particular storm constitutes weather, not climate, doesn’t it.
    el papa ateo, your analogy is absurd and meaningless. It has no relevance or connection to the subject.

  29. raven says

    We are seeing some probable climate change events here on the west coast.

    It’s been a long, hot, dry spring and summer generally.

    The result is predictable. Forest fires everywhere. It’s probably been in the hundreds, some very large.

    I was in far northern California recently, and fire scars are everywhere and not just from this year. As well as dead trees here and there. I’ve been coming to that area since the 1970’s and this is new.

  30. raven says

    I never got too excited over global warming, even though it was expected by me and others since the 1980’s.

    It will cost us a huge amount of money, guaranteed.

    1. We will either pay it in adaptation costs. It’s estimated to cost the USA alone 1/2 trillion USD in the 21st century. And it is already happening. NYC is going to spend 20 billion on sea defenses, after the Sandy hurricane.

    2. Or we will spend it on cleanup after one disaster or another. Which is also already happening. A hurricane here, forest fire there, major flooding in Colorado, the Mississippi basin, or the Red river basin.

    Those are the two choices. And reality doesn’t care a rat’s ass which one we make.

  31. says

    Pointinline, are you going to stay and discuss? Because if not, it’s not quite worth taking the necessary time to correct the immense amount of wrong you managed to fit into a few short sentences.

  32. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    el papa ateo, your analogy is absurd and meaningless. It has no relevance or connection to the subject.

    Think about it some more. (Hint: in the analogy, one atom=one storm. One billion atoms=a century’s worth of weather events. Now, what scale are climate scientists working on?)

    And I don’t care what you call me, but in general the etiquette here would dictate that you call me “What a Maroon”.

  33. says

    so not just forecasting, but local news in general appears to be dismal in your area.

    might want to work on that.

    Good grief. In case you weren’t paying attention, the dams that broke were small earthen structures holding small amounts of water in out-of-the-way places. There’s a good reason why they weren’t all over the news.

  34. Suido says

    @Pointinline:

    Two comments in, and you’re already performing contortions with your words. Imply something vaguely, then dance away from the specifics. Really disingenuous, hope your proud of yourself.

    What a Maroon’s analogy was a perfect analogy for weather vs climate, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you were to find fault with any apt analogy in an effort to avoid cognitive dissonance.

    In the last few years, scientists have been finding relationships between extreme weather events and climate change. Not necessarily causal, but certainly exacerbating what might otherwise have been milder events. Educate yourself, and do us all a favour by not playing games of gotcha. Outline your opinions and provide supporting evidence, or go away.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/05/climate-change-partially-caused-extreme-weather-2012

  35. bad Jim says

    I’m not sure how useful it is to try to connect every freakish weather event to global warming. Even well-understood phenomena, like the dwindling Arctic icepack, are subject to fluctuations which feed denialist arguments, like this summer’s less than apocalyptic ice extent. Phenomena like the Colorado flooding are hard to attribute to climactic trends, as is this year’s shortage of hurricanes. Truth to tell, the damage done from storms, floods and fires has as much to do with land use as anything else; for too long we’ve been building in places we shouldn’t.

    Climate change is a problem from hell, because it implies we’re all at fault, and people will go to extremes to deny that they’ve done anything wrong. To a first approximation everyone’s default is denial. To the extent that remediation requires us to change the least thing about our lives, even if it saves us money, it still implies we were doing something wrong, which is an insufferable affront.

    Of course, acceptance of climate change is due to decline as winter approaches: “What global warming? It’s cold outside!” I have no idea what it would take to change that mindset.

  36. says

    yeah, it’s not like nobody died or anything…

    Zero people died from breaking dams. If you think that newscast said they did, you misunderstood it.

    People dying in floods is breaking news. Small and unimportant dam breaches get mentioned in passing, if at all. Clear?

  37. unclefrogy says

    I read an article that has some baring on how we think about these thigs

    it is depressing as these events happen. yes we build in places we should not and in way we should not but we still do anyway.
    the climate is changing
    because our life is short our attention span is short. We just do not see geological time we do not see climate change either it takes too long and seems like nothing is happening because it is so slow fraction of a percent looks like nothing. it may be happening slow but there is momentum, inertia in it that…………………………..
    hell
    Some think what they believe makes a difference
    I want everyone to be a depressed as I am so go read the article in the link
    I’m going to find so mindless comics to read or watch so south park or something
    uncle frogy

  38. Ichthyic says

    Zero people died from breaking dams.

    a series of dams overflowed and one broke overnight, killing one, and threatening hundreds more.

    If you think that newscast said they did, you misunderstood it.

    hmm….

    last chance dude.

  39. Ichthyic says

    I’m going to find so mindless comics to read or watch so south park or something
    uncle frogy

    or play “SIWOTI”

    that always works for me.

  40. Ichthyic says

    Colorado Flood: Dams Break, Thousands Evacuate

    floods in Colorado have broken through at least six dams, thousands have evacuated from the record breaking rainstorms that have hammered residents.


    Colorado Flood: Dam Breaks and Many are Evacuated

    Record-breaking rainstorms across Colorado’s Front Range led to flooding that blew out at least six dams.

    I can do this all night.

    ready to concede that either your local news entirely failed you, or you don’t bother to even read it?

  41. Ichthyic says

    There’s a good reason why they weren’t all over the news.

    weren’t all over the news….

    see, this is what I’m laughing at you for.

    clear?

  42. Walton says

    pointinline, are you going to respond to my #24? Are you actually going to explain your position and the scientific basis for it? Or are you just going to keep dropping tidbits of nonsense in the thread?

  43. Nick Gotts says

    I do appreciate the difference between weather & climate. – pointinline@38

    Ah. Then your comment@6 was deliberate deceit, not simple ignorance and stupidity.

  44. madscientist says

    Well, the bit about climate change causing more frequent extreme weather events is NOT accepted science at this stage. It is an old claim by climate modelers which remains to be proven (or disproven) and something that I chastised the IPCC for about 8 years ago. A year or 2 ago someone associated with the IPCC started a program to look into that claim, but we’ll have to wait for quite a few years yet before he’s got enough evidence to make a case one way or the other. I’m more concerned with issues to do with food production; for example is there any evidence that farmers are encountering more frequent or more prolonged droughts? Many farmers (especially the smaller ones) will not have a viable business if the climate patterns change enough, and I think that’s a far scarier scenario than any claims of more frequent extreme weather events.

  45. Augustus Carp says

    This is all ghastly… and a former student of mine has had to go through this only 18 months after she escaped from the Costa Concordia. She is a bit nervous of large amounts of water

  46. Ingdigo Jump says

    An economy on the doorstep of recovery doesn’t need yet another surprise $20 billion tab to pick up.

    “It will cost X to fix, but if we don’t fix it’ll cost us Y. Y>>>X ergo”

    Boss “well we can’t afford X”

    “If we can’t afford X we sure can’t afford Y!”

    Boss “Yes but we can’t afford X”

  47. pointinline says

    “Drive by denialist” If you like. But I have better things to do than sit at a computer all day arguing with people whose best argument seems to consist of spitting.

  48. chigau (違う) says

    pointinline #60
    Did you read any of the other responses to you?
    There is more than SallyStrangeSpit.

  49. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Pointinline,
    Actually the analogy What a maroon gave is quite apt. Another analogy involves finance–you’d be a fool to take a bet on where IBM will close on a certain data; however a broad stock portfolio, possibly including IBM will have predictable performance over the long term.

    I think some of your misunderstanding may arise from the interpretation given in the popular press of climate as an “average” of weather. In reality, climate deals not with an average, but rather with a distribution of weather events. For climate change, we are asking whether the distribution has changed. One way to tell this is to look at whether the mean has shifted–that works well, particularly since most of the data are near the mean (central limit theorem) and we know that the sample mean follows a Normal distribution about the actual mean. However, we are actually much more interested in the extremes of the distribution. Those are the events that bite us, and what is more, one of the most robust predictions of climate models is an increase in “extreme events”.

    Extreme value theory is tougher, particularly given the rarity of these events. However, we are making good progress in being able to attribute some extreme events to climate change. Granted, we are still dealing with distributions, but the probability of a Colorado flood or an Aussie heat wave (2013) or a Russian heat wave (2010) is negligible unless we have changed the distribution. Hope that helps.

  50. Walton says

    “Drive by denialist” If you like. But I have better things to do than sit at a computer all day arguing with people whose best argument seems to consist of spitting.

    …says the person who completely ignored many of the arguments in the thread. You haven’t even tried to respond to the questions I asked.

  51. Rey Fox says

    pointinline: The spitting came only after folks tried actual arguments and it became clear that you don’t deserve the effort.

  52. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    madscientist,
    Actually, the prediction of increased extremes due to climate change has some pretty strong evidence and some good physics behind it:
    1) Palmer Drought index shows a significant increase of Earth’s land surface in severe drought.
    2) Claussius-Clapeyron equation shows that not only does water vapor rise as temperature rises–it does so exponentially. This means that when conditions are right for precipitation, there is more water that can fall out. What is more, warmer, dry air will have a lower RH–that will further dry soils and plants.
    3)Insurance claims due to severe weather show a clear rise that is too rapid to explain as due to increasing population.

  53. Nick Gotts says

    But I have better things to do than sit at a computer all day arguing with people whose best argument seems to consist of spitting. – pointinline@60

    Translation: no, I can’t support my original comment with any rational argument.

  54. yubal says

    As much as I appreciate the growing interest in reducing emissions, I think we missed our chance 30-40 years ago to prevent the worst.

    The remaining oil will be burned at increasing rates and it will be gone in within the lifetime of some readers here. That is a fact. For every coal fired power plant we close china opens five new ones.

    We can not stop climate change anymore. That train is long gone.

    On top of that, we have enormous batches of persistent organic polluters and chemicals degrading the ozone layer out there that will be around for at least 50 more years and just started to enrich by global distillation.

    I am sorry for spreading the pessimism, but in 100 years life on this planet will be nothing like anything we have seen before in our recorded history.

    It is now up to us and our children to prepare for a scenario we cannot fully predict.

  55. Nick Gotts says

    We can not stop climate change anymore. – yubal

    No, but we can limit it. Fuck, this sort of “we-can’t-do-anything” crap makes me just as angry as the more usual form of denialism: it’s just as stupid, just as ignorant, just as dangerous.

    we have enormous batches of persistent organic polluters and chemicals degrading the ozone layer out there

    Where do you get this garbage from? The ozone layer is beginning to recover from the damage we did to it, exactly as predicted.

    I am sorry for spreading the pessimism

    Then stop doing it, you irresponsible fuckwit.

  56. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Yubal,
    This is not a fucking pinball game. You don’t just get an abysmal score of say 450 ppmv of CO2 and say, “Game Over”. The choices we make now will change the world our progeny inhabit, and we can change it for the better or for the worse. Most important, we can buy time–and having squandered those 30-40 years, time is the most valuable of all commodities. I agree that it is unlikely we will avoid severe consequences. However, there is severe, but livable… and then there’s the path we’re on right now.

  57. yubal says

    # 70 a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    You don’t just get an abysmal score of say 450 ppmv of CO2 and say, “Game Over”

    Agreed. It is a question of rate not absolute numbers. Our planet rarely displayed water ice on its surface during its history. What matters to biology is how fast the ice comes and goes. CO2 is just one variable in the game. And the game is not “over”. It won’t be “over” even if we would do our best to increase the CO2 levels (we almost accomplished that the last 50 years). The game will always be “on”. Question is, what ere the rules of the game and how do they change?

    Most important, we can buy time

    I agree 100%. Time is of the essence, but the damage has already been done and there is no way to change the past. There will be consequences of our actions we took in the past 60 years and we are not able to change that. Preventing more damage would be wise, but how would you want to do that? In a world where you can have a cup of ice cream 24/7 if you are willing to hop in that SUV, drive 4 miles and spend a few dollars, you cannot do that.

    So yes, “liveable” is part of the important question.

  58. A Wandering Minstrel says

    Ichthyic @53

    weren’t all over the news….

    see, this is what I’m laughing at you for.

    clear?

    Right, because victims of major disasters are just a laugh a minute.

    *sigh* I shouldn’t play “Someone Is Wrong on the Internet“, but I need to do this once and only once for my own reasons.

    Here and here are examples of the local coverage you allege doesn’t exist. Both stories are from the Denver Post and I found them in less than a minute. I draw your attention to the dates they were posted and that the stories specifically state that people were respectively stranded and evacuated, not killed.

    Your sources are:
    1. The Today Show,
    2. Beforeitsnews.com, and
    3. Someone who calls herself “Reality of Christ.”

    Your sources said two things: that 1) there were dams that burst, and 2) people died. None of them said that the dams bursting caused the fatalities in question. You drew the inference. I can write a headline that says “Consumption of Bananas Increases and Divorce Rate Rises”, but that does not mean that eating bananas makes you get divorced. In fact, it’s probable that there’s an independent variable causing both.

    Colorado has a semi-arid climate. It didn’t evolve to absorb a four-day deluge, because it doesn’t get one all that often. The Front Range includes terrain that is very steep and, in some cases, fire-scarred. Both of those are characteristics of terrain that’s bad at absorbing water, and that’s what got the equivalent of half a year’s precipitation plus in four days last week. When you dump more water on an ecosystem than it can absorb, you get things like flash flooding, including damn slams (Left Hand Canyon is apparently particularly prone to this, if not quite to the level of Old Treachery, and I’d link to the explanation except that the lspace wiki says it’s “experiencing technical difficulties”), washing out of roads (including major highways, stranding entire communities), major malfunctions in some local water treatment leading to some municipalities having to turn off their water, emergency opening of spillways on major dams so they didn’t burst, etc.

    Teal deer: just because you have multiple shits floating around doesn’t mean that Shit A produced Shit B.

    Teal deer 2: simply listing two facts side-by-side doesn’t imply causation.

    Oh, and a couple of final things: where, precisely, were these dams that burst, and how do their locations relate to the locations of the current confirmed fatalities? (Almost 2,000 square miles have been affected so far; they weren’t flooded by the loss of a dozen or so small earth dams.) And what credible source told you this? Because I’ll see your Lauer and raise you an Office of Emergency Management.

  59. Nick Gotts says

    the damage has already been done and there is no way to change the past. There will be consequences of our actions we took in the past 60 years and we are not able to change that. Preventing more damage would be wise, but how would you want to do that? – yubal@71

    Jesus fucking wept, how do you think? By supporting measures, at all scales, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By campaigning for policies that encourage the development of low-carbon forms of energy, reduce energy demand, and improve the chances of international agreements – you know, like the Montreal Protocol, that halted the destruction of the ozone layer. Such measures range from direct action to oppose particularly damaging technologies, through reducing your own energy use – don’t take your fucking SUV to buy an ice-cream, don’t buy a fucking SUV, don’t fly unless you absolutely have to, reduce your consumption of meat and dairy products – to writing to the local press combating denialist lies, writing to your elected representatives, campaigning for politicians who promise to support GHG reduction legislation and holding them to those promises, supporting NGOs that campaign for such things with your money and time, educating your children if you have any (and don’t have too many). More broadly, work for the peaceful resolution of international disputes, to improve the status and education of women, to combat economic inequality – all these improve the chances of the kind of radical change we need. I have done andor am doing all those things, yubal. True, none of this may succeed, it’s even likely that it will fail, and true, I could always do more, but at least I’m fucking well trying, yubal. I have complete contempt for your kind of worthless, cowardly, simpering resignation. Fuck off.

  60. yubal says

    #73 nick

    You are naive.

    Good luck with your campaigns and convincing efforts.

    It is to late. The ice caps will melt. The damage has been done. The system is already on the way to find a new local attractor.

    You can do all those things and try to delay the things to come. Truth is, it is not in our hands anymore to stop it.

    Ever heard about global dimming before? Do you know how positive feedbacks work?

    And I don’t even like ice cream.