Written By: - Date published: 9:07 am, October 12th, 2018 - 63 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster, energy, Environment, global warming, Politics, science, us politics - Tags: danyl mclauchlan, matthew hooton
For decades climate scientists have predicted that global warming will cause warmer seas, stronger storms and increased participation.
And in America, land of the free and the brave and led by a climate change denier, there have been two recent storms which suggest that this is indeed happening. Of course it cannot be proved that they are the result of greenhouse gas emissions but this is precisely the scenario that scientists have been talking about for decades.
As said by James West in the News and Observer about Hurricane Florence:
Climate change has changed the way that scientists conceive of extreme events like hurricanes. There no longer are pure “Acts of Nature,” but through climate change, human activities have some role in altering the weather system. We now must assess the probabilities of extreme events, how those probabilities have changed in a warming world, and how they will change in the future.
But the press is generally reluctant to talk in these terms.
No one event like Hurricane Florence is caused by climate change, and it would be irresponsible for the press to claim as such. But it is also irresponsible to cover the hurricane without mentioning the role of climate change to make such events more likely. And that is what has happened — huge attention is devoted to hurricanes without uttering the words “climate change.”
Hurricane Michael is currently devastating Florida and the south east of the United States. John Abraham in the Guardian is highly critical of the political process and how it can deliver climate change deniers to public office.
We know that climate change is making these storms stronger. The storms feed off of warm ocean waters, and those waters are much warmer now because of climate change. I have written about the science in more detail here and here. But basically, Michael strengthened because it passed over really warm waters. Waters that were hotter because of human-caused warming.
Predictably, the hurricane strengthened as it hit shore. As I write this, Michael is coming ashore and the pressure is still falling (low pressures in a hurricane signify a stronger storm). It appears that Michael may have the third-lowest pressure for a hurricane hitting the USA.
It is a wonder that a state like Florida, which will get pummeled by Michael, could vote for someone that denies climate change. Think of how backwards the situation is – the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has reportedly been banned from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming”. This policy reportedly went into effect when Florida elected a science denier, Rick Scott, to governor.
Rick Scott has been condemned by people in Florida for his backward stance. It is climate denial like his that has contributed to the suffering of residents in the state.
It’s not that my colleagues haven’t tried to help Governor Scott understand how his policies hurt his state. A few years ago, scientists met with him and urged him to take climate change seriously. He remained silent.
It isn’t that the local media hasn’t tried. Major newspapers have called upon Rick Scott to take action on climate change. But to little avail. Maybe it’s because Rick Scott invests in companies that oppose climate change regulations?
It isn’t that his political opponents haven’t tried. Recently, Florida Democrats petitioned Rick Scott to acknowledge climate change.
But still the world’s leaders fiddle while the world starts burning. And even here in New Zealand some timid steps that are being taken have been met by considerable opposition. Although it seems pretty clear that the reports of business pessimism reflect the political beliefs of those being polled.
So what is holding us back? Why are we unable to act to address this most significant of threats?
Danyl McLaughlan thinks the basic problem is basic indifference. From Spinoff:
One of the things the IPCC report makes clear is that we’re already living in the climate changed future. The world has warmed by one percent since the beginning of the industrial revolution and this is causing storm surges, fiercer droughts, stronger hurricanes, heat waves; intensifying extreme weather events all around the world, causing massive economic damage and political instability. So if we want to see how our politicians will cope with the problem of climate change in the future, all we need to do is see how what they’re doing now. And … it’s not quite nothing, at least in New Zealand: there’s the oil and gas exploration ban, the carbon commission, the Carbon Zero bill. But, realistically, it’s not even close to what’s needed.
I don’t think this is the fault of our political class or the media, who are the usual scapegoats in this debate. Even the energy industry and its lobbyists – who are, to be sure, literally destroying the world – are only doing what powerful interests have always done, and will always do: defend their own wealth and privilege, deluding themselves into believing they’re on the right side of history by defending society against a malevolent conspiracy of climatologists. The core problem is much deeper and harder to fix: it’s that not many people care about climate change.
And Matthew Hooton, who provides a very useful insight into the thinking of the right, has shifted position. He no longer denies that climate change is occurring, but he claims instead that New Zealand is too small to have an effect and so we should do nothing but hope that the super powers make the necessary adjustments.
Given the IPCC’s prediction that we have 12 years to make some pretty major changes things are not looking good …