A false dawn?

“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast — in lost lives, lost homes and lost business — brought the stakes of next Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,”

“Our climate is changing… and while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be — given the devastation it is wreaking — should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Bloomberg cites concerns over climate change as one of the reasons he is endorsing Obama rather than Romney. In fact the title of his Op Ed piece is “A vote for a president to lead on climate change.” This comes just after the Republican Governor of New Jersey gave effusive and repeated praise of Obama and cited the importance of climate change.

Has the day after tomorrow finally arrived?

“You do not have ocean water, salt water breaching the banks of Manhattan in my lifetime. When you start to fill subway tunnels with salt water, much of the ConEd equipment is underground… “That is a design flaw, I believe, for our system now. … We did not anticipate water coming over the Hudson River, coming over the banks and being 5 feet deep on the West Side highway.

…what I saw last night in downtown Manhattan and the south shore of Long Island was some of the worst that I have seen. The Hudson River was literally pouring into the Ground Zero site with such a force that we were worried about the structure of the pit itself… It was frightening.

Anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

What would it take the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses to collectively conclude that the effects humans were having on the Earth’s climate posed a serious risk to us? Apocalyptic scenes like this?

Continue reading

Are we all doomed?

We live in interesting times:

  • Ice loss in the Arctic seems significantly worse than initially thought with this summer’s melt beating the previous 2007 record. There may be no summer Arctic ice within a few decades, perhaps sooner. The climatic impacts of this could be serious for the UK and globally.
  • 2012 saw a number of weather records being broken both nationally and globally. with new research making a stronger link between climate change and extreme weather events.
  • The global population is currently increasing by around 80,000 every day with a projected increase from the current 7 billion to 9 billion by the middle of this century.
  • The effects of the global recession of 2008 are still playing out in Europe, USA and other parts of the world with significant risk of futher economic instability in the near future.

One response to all this is to conclude that the world is going to hell in a handcart and things are likely to only get worse. There’s nothing we can do about it. The time to act was years perhaps even centuries in the past. The thing to do now is protect and survive. Weather this perfect storm of environmental, financial and demographic stressors and pass on what we can to future generations. Useful life skills? Farming and living off the grid. Perhaps learn to shoot because keeping what is yours will be harder in the future. Continue reading

Climate change: It’s not a global conspiracy

A nice (if you can get past the slightly cheesy music) introduction to climate change and the different lines of evidence that supports the theory that humans are largely responsible for the warming observed over the past decades and centuries. It’s produced by the US National Academy of Sciences and is clearly intended to address a number of claims by those that would dispute that theory.

It will of course not make much of a difference with those people who have entrenched views. If anything it may make them more certain that there is in fact a global conspiracy involving scientists, governmental and non-governmental agencies. Confirmation bias is well documented. Here’s an example in action. Quite an interesting article. But now scroll down and read the comments. You will see exactly the sort of behaviour the journalist was describing manifesting itself in a largely non-reflective way.

A life of science

How is this not a good talk?

  • Reads from a script
  • Wears a hat that shades his eyes
  • Stiff even a little stilted delivery

And none of that matters. All the emphasis on polish and pitch and engagement and audio/visual presentation is irrelevant. It’s what he says that makes this a riveting talk. And I would hazard a guess that even if you strongly disagree with Hansen (and quite a few do) you would still find the talk riveting because he quickly focusses in on what the issue of climate change is about: to what extent are we affecting the Earth’s climate and what are the consequences to us and future generations?

Hansen is someone worth listening to because he has largely framed this debate (in the USA at least). He’s got a very interesting perspective: a life of science and reflection on what he has learnt and how that informs what he should do with the rest of his life.