/ Rob Beschizza / 7 am Tue, Jul 1 2014
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  • Climate change is life and death

    Climate change is life and death

    Temperatures rise. Scientists warn and study. Conspiracy theorists cry foul. Politicians scoff and wheedle and suppress, while their bureaucrats calmly plan ahead. In the meantime, life and death go on—just not in quite the same way we're used to. Posted by Rob Beschizza.

    Wind-blown embers fly from an ancient oak tree that burned in the Silver Fire near Banning, California last summer. The fire broke out shortly after 2 p.m. near a back-country road south of Banning, about 90 miles (145 km) outside Los Angeles in Riverside County, and within hours had blackened more than 5,000 acres, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlandt said. Photo: Reuters/David McNew

    A Brazilian crosses the muddy bottom of the Rio Negro, a major tributary to the Amazon river, in the city of Manaus. A drought pushed river levels in Brazil's Amazon region to record lows, leaving isolated communities dependent on emergency aid and thousands of boats stranded on parched riverbeds. Photo: Reuters/Euzivaldo Queiroz

    Splinters of ice peel off from one of the sides of the Perito Moreno glacier in a process of a unexpected rupture during the southern hemisphere's winter months, near the city of El Calafate in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, southern Argentina, in this file photo. Photo: Reuters/Andres Forza

    Fishermen row a boat in the algae-filled Chaohu Lake in Hefei, Anhui province, June 19, 2009. The country has invested 51 billion yuan ($7.4 billion) towards the construction of 2,712 projects for the treatment of eight rivers and lakes including Huaihe River, Haihe River, Liaohe River, Chaohu Lake, Dianchi Lake, Songhua River, the Three Gorges region of the Yangtze River and its upstream area, according to Xinhua News Agency. Photo: Reuters/Jianan Yu

    An aid worker using an iPad films the rotting carcass of a cow in Wajir near the Kenya-Somalia border, July 23, 2011. Since drought gripped the Horn of Africa, and especially since famine was declared in parts of Somalia, the international aid industry has swept in and out of refugee camps and remote hamlets in branded planes and snaking lines of white 4x4s. This humanitarian, diplomatic and media circus is necessary every time people go hungry in Africa, analysts say, because governments - both African and foreign - rarely respond early enough to looming catastrophes. Combine that with an often simplistic explanation of the causes of famine, and a growing band of aid critics say parts of Africa are doomed to a never-ending cycle of ignored early warnings, media appeals and emergency U.N. feeding - rather than a transition to lasting self-sufficiency. Photo: Barry Malone

    A home is seen protected from encroaching floodwaters by a levee near Yazoo City, Mississippi. Floodwater released from a key Mississippi River spillway surged through the Louisiana bayou on Tuesday, and levees protecting the state's two biggest cities held as river flows neared their peak. Weeks of heavy rains and runoff from an unusually snowy winter caused the Mississippi River to rise, flooding thousands of homes and 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) of farmland in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas and evoking comparisons to historic floods in 1927 and 1937. Photo: Reuters/Eric Thayer

    A male polar bear carries the head of a polar bear cub it killed and cannibalized in an area about 300 km (186 miles) north of the Canadian town of Churchill. Climate change has turned some polar bears into cannibals as global warming melts their Arctic ice hunting grounds, reducing the polar bear population, according to a U.S.-led global scientific study on the impacts of climate change. Photo: Reuters/Iain D. Williams

    A boy floats on a river, covered by duckweed, to cool off during a hot summer day in Jiaxing, Zhejiang.

    An aerial view shows a cleared forest area under development as a palm oil plantation by palm oil companies in the Ketapang district of Indonesia's West Kalimantan province. The photograph was taken as part of a media trip organised by conservationist group Greenpeace, which has campaigned against palm oil expansion in forested areas in Indonesia. Documents written between 2008 and January 2010 and sent between lobbyists, scientists and high-ranking European civil servants, released after Reuters invoked transparency laws, exposed a huge rift in Brussels over biofuels policy and also undermined Europe's ambition of using alternative fuels to wean the continent off oil by showing how vested interests have influenced the science behind a cornerstone of the continent's clean energy policy. Photo: Reuters/Crack Palinggi

    A man cools off at the flooded Danube river banks in downtown Belgrade, June 16, 2010, when the Danube rose to dangerous levels. Photo: Reuters/Ivan Milutinovic

    A farmer walks on a dried-up pond on the outskirts of Baokang, central China's Hubei province. Photo: Reuters

    Graffiti art is seen on a wall next to the Regent's Canal, in Camden in London December 22, 2009. British media have attributed the new work to acclaimed British street artist Banksy. Photo: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

    A cow stands in her pen at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology in Castelar, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Argentine scientists are taking a novel approach to studying global warming, strapping plastic tanks to the backs of cows to collect their burps. Researchers say the slow digestive system of cows makes them a producer of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that gets less public attention than carbon dioxide. Photo: Marcos Brindicci.

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    Notable Replies

    1. Thanks for posting that. It's important for people to see how everything is already being affected today.

    2. I always want to ask climate change deniers (just the ordinary schmoe - not the politician) what they hope to gain by denying...do they have an actual reason, or do they just hate 'teh libruls'.

    3. Raoul says:

      In my experience (and I used to have these conversations a lot, before getting burned out on them) - it comes from the simplistic "common sense" view of the world that is also reflected in portraying the economy of a country as a household or small business.

      In much the same way as macroeconomics is a whole area of knowledge that missed people who took econ 101 and then read the newspaper a few times, people don't get the relationship between weather and climate, complex interactions between the earth and ocean, etc. Add to that, it's a difficult, complicated problem to solve with sacrifices required across the board and lots of people switch off and say "meh, too complicated".

      I'd add that the issue is worse in the US because schools don't teach geography here (and generally teach science poorly in many places), because there are moneyed interests based here who benefit from inaction, and the fact that the media has dumbed down complex thinking to bumper sticker slogans.

      Engineers who think they are smarter than environmental and atmospheric scientists because .. reasons is a subject for a whole other response.

    4. It's apparent you've not been paying attention to the climate change debate. Those who say humans are changing the climate aren't appealing to authority ("Listen to those scientists - they're really smart!") but are really saying read the fscking science. You may be surprised, but there have been thousands of peer reviewed studies. You should try reading a few.

      But it's even simpler than that. I present two facts: 1) carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and 2) humans have pumped trillions of tons of the stuff into the atmosphere. To be a climate change denier or skeptic, you must either deny one of these simple, easily proven facts or admit that you are unreasonable (that is, unable to reason). It really is that simple. If you accept these two facts and insist on adding some sort of "But that doesn't account for..." you're really just debating the details of the change, not its existence.

      Climate scientists aren't hiding their data at all. It's been published over and over, in more and more detail, with more and more refinements for at least forty years.

    5. Okay, I see I made some bad assumptions here. I assumed you reached your skepticism about global warming after doing at least some minimal reading on the subject. Clearly, that's a poor assumption.

      Granted, I used the shorthand term "global warming" rather than AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming). You are getting that confused with climate change. Here are two of about 27 million links google provides:


      http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/article/global-warming-vs-climate-change/

      Because I'm talking about AGW, I don't feel the need to acknowledge that the climate has been undergoing change on planet Earth for about 4.5 billion years. I've never denied that climate change occurs without human action. I see nothing in what I wrote that is counter to that. You almost seem to be suggesting that because there are natural components of climate change, anything man does is unimportant. That would be like saying, "people die of natural causes every day, so we can ignore any deaths caused by war."

      I also never called anyone "evil" in my post. I did use the term "unreasonable". You seem to fit that bill. You accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and accept also that humans have put trillions of tons of it into the atmosphere. And yet you conclude from these that humans are not warming the planet. Very simple logic is at work here, yet it escapes you.

      I'm sorry presenting two accepted facts and drawing a logical conclusion is simply a bunch of hand waving for you. You can't draw a simple conclusion but are quite ready to infer all sorts of odd things instead. Again, I'm not addressing any non-man made factors here, like seasonality, effects of the sun, etc. Nothing I said implies any sort of steady warming. All I'm saying is anybody who accepts that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and accepts that man has put trillions of tons of the stuff in the air is being unreasonable to deny that man is warming the planet. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

      Please elucidate for me how deducing global warming from introducing massive quantities of known greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is not an argument supporting AGW. It's the most basic one I can come up with. The fact I posit it and you dismiss it tells me only that you have absolutely no understanding of deductive reasoning. It's not exactly rocket surgery.

      Can you provide any references to scientific, peer reviewed studies that make the case that humans putting trillions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is not causing things to warm up?

      While waving your hands (see, I can do that too) trying to avoid drawing a simple conclusion, you also ask for a reference to science on interglacial periods. Google returns a couple hundred thousand hits for your question. This one should get you started:
      http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/abrupt/data2.html

      Of course, you put some wiggle room in there, requesting "convincing and useful" theory. I don't know if NOAA can present a case you'll find convincing, given you are unconvinced that putting trillions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere doesn't cause warming. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to convince you that 2+3=5.

    Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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