Terrific ABC News story: “Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming”

“Scientists: Climate Change No Longer a Theory, It’s Happening”

The pictures today from around the world of dramatic rooftop rescues from raging waters, makes it seem as though natural disasters are becoming an everyday occurrence. But they’re not all that natural; climate scientists say man-made global warming is the sudden force behind the forces of nature.

That’s from an ABC News story posted last night, whose headline and subhed I repeated above.  The actual ABC evening news story from Thursday is one of the best climate change stories ever to appear on  a major network’s evening news show:

Dr. Richard Somerville, a coordinating lead author on the IPCC’s 2007 review of climate science, explains bluntly:

This is no longer something that’s theory or conjecture or something that comes out of computer models. We’re observing the climate changing. It’s real. It’s happening. It’s scientific fact.

The evening news story ends:

Many scientists say the forecast is looking more and more extreme.

Absolutely true (see Masters: “The stunning extremes we witnessed gives me concern that our climate is showing the early signs of instability”;  Munich Re: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change“).

Here’s more of the outstanding online story:

On the other side of the globe, floods in Queensland, Australia have ravaged an area the size of France and Germany combined.

Things are pretty devastating,” June Lense, a resident of Brisbane, said.And in Sri Lanka, officials say flooding there has affected more than a million people, and the death toll has risen to 23. Sewage lines and holding tanks have overflowed in the floods, and a spokesperson for the health ministry there said officials are concerned about waterborne diseases like typhoid and diarrhea.

“If left unchecked, climate warming will continue so the things that we’re having hints of now, foretastes of now, will come stronger,” Richard Sommerville, a climate scientist at the University of California at San Diego and author of “The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change,” said.

The extreme weather the world has seen is part of a larger trend, he said. “The world is warming up … It’s warming for sure and science is very confident that most of the warming is due to human causes.”

Every time we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, Sommerville said, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, climate scientists see “the changed odds, the loaded dice that favors more extreme events and more high temperature records being broken,” he said.

The decade that just ended saw nine of the 10 warmest years on record, and warmer temperatures mean more moisture in the air. That moisture can fall as torrential, flooding rains in the summertime or blizzards in the winter.

“Because the whole water cycle speeds up in a warming world, there’s more water in the atmosphere today than there was a few years ago on average, and you’re seeing a lot of that in the heavy rains and floods for example in Australia,” Sommervile said.

Last year tied with the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Derek Arndt, chief of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring Branch in the National Climate Data Center, said 2010 was “an exclamation point on several decades of warming.”

He said NOAA is tracking disasters like the floods in Brazil and Australia. “We are measuring certain types of extreme events that we would expect to see more often in a warming world, and these are indeed increasing,” Arndt said.

The added moisture in the atmosphere also explains the phenomenon we’ve seen this week at home — where snow blanketed the ground in 49 of 50 states. During yesterday’s snowstorm, Hartford, Conn. and Albany, N.Y. both set records for snowfall in a single day.

“This is no longer something that’s theory or conjecture or something that comes out of computer models,” Sommerville said. “We’re observing the climate changing — it’s happening, it’s real, it’s a fact.”

Okay, I bold-faced almost the whole story because it’s just that good.

I have also written about how the warmest sea surface temperatures on record fuel ‘biblical’ Australian floods:

Annual Australian sea surface temperature timeseries

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology released its “Annual Australian Climate Statement 2010,” which helps explain why “” record sea surface temperatures:

Based on preliminary data (to November 30), sea surface temperatures in the Australian region during 2010 were +0.54 °C above the 1961 to 1990 average. This is the warmest value on record for the Australian region. Individual high monthly sea surface temperature records were also set during 2010 in March, April, June, September, October and November. Along with favourable hemispheric circulation associated with the 2010 La Ni±a, very warm sea surface temperatures contributed to the record rainfall and very high humidity across eastern Australia during winter and spring. The most recent decade (2001ˆ’2010) was also the warmest decade on record for sea surface temperatures following the pattern observed over land.

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of NCAR’s Climate Analysis Section, has explained the connection between human-caused global warming and extreme deluges:  “There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future.”

See also Deadly flash flood hits Australia after six inches of rain fell in just 30 minutes for another amazing video of the flooding.

Parts of the media are starting to connect the dots — see New York Times front-page story: In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming! Trenberth: “It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.”

A Reuters story, “Scientists see climate change link to Australian floods,” notes “Climate change has likely intensified the monsoon rains that have triggered record floods in Australia’s Queensland state, scientists said on Wednesday, with several months of heavy rain and storms still to come.”

What follows is the Nightline story, which is pretty good, though not as thorough as the ABC evening news story:

Kudos to ABC for getting the story right.

h/t WR’s Brad Johnson for the first video.

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99 Responses to Terrific ABC News story: “Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming”

  1. Wonhyo says:

    A climate change story in the mainstream media without false balance? I wonder if hell is freezing over.

    My next thought is, how will climate deniers and conservatives spin this into lower taxes and more government subsidized profits for large corporations and wealthy individuals? Surely, they will.

    My third thought is, how will the Democrats bungle the messaging this time? My guess is it will be like 9-11 leading to the Iraq invasion. Republicans will use the fear of climate change to promote further class division. The Dems, fearing for their political lives, will naively go along and support the Republican message.

    All that aside, people will be confused about what to do, once they realize how dire the situation is. Some will jump on the risky geoengineering bandwagon. Others will rush to take the last spoils of the (previously) moderate and stable climate.

    I’ve often wondered about the guy on Easter Island who chopped down the last tree. What was he thinking? As I observe what’s happening in our society, I’ve come to believe the guy was thinking, “If I don’t enjoy the warmth of the fire from this last tree, someone else will.”

    In modern context, trees are dying worldwide due to climate change. They are burning in massive forest fires. We have to find a way to dispose of the dead trees more constructively.

    Many CP readers have progressed beyond the denial, depression, and bargaining phases of climate change trauma, but the rest of the world has not. There will be a lot of social turmoil before we come to grips with the situation, if we ever do.

    As climate advocates, we need to be preparing for the inevitable effects of climate change, even as we do all we can to slow their onset.

  2. Wonhyo says:

    It figures: The story is buried in the Web site. I had to use the search function to find it.

    Still, the story is truly remarkable for its complete lack of false balance. It is the first mainstream media article (as buried as it may be) on climate change that I recall without the false balance. Kudos to the writer and editor.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    I’m Surprised!

  4. Wonhyo says:

    Don’t look now, but the metadata in the article is (no pun intended) watered down.

    When I copy the URL into my Facebook status wall, the title appears as “Extreme Flooding Caused by Climate Change?”. Note it is a subtly, but importantly, different title from the one that appears on the original Web page: “Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming”

  5. Wes Rolley says:

    Watched it last night, then posted to twitter / facebook accounts. There is just so much that tells the same story that it hard to deny… even though WUWT spins the 2010 story as a hoax using USA only data… so we know that nothing rocks the denier’s boat.

  6. Wes Rolley says:

    From Physics World:

    The Gulf Stream off eastern Canada appears to have advanced northward of its historical position in recent decades, possibly in response to anthropogenic climate change. That is according to researchers in North America and Switzerland who say that the changes could have some profound implications for marine life off the coast of Canada.

    The new study focuses specifically on a region just off the coast of Nova Scotia. This section of the Atlantic is fed from the north by the cold waters of the Labrador Current, and from the south by the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream. The mixing of these two water flows creates a nutrient-rich ecosystem for species such as cod, which has attracted a large fishing industry.

    Observation: not a model.

  7. Andrew DeWit says:

    Wow. Almost like watching a news clip from within an SF film, only this stuff is reality. Kudos for smart, responsible journalism. As the Nikkei newspaper over here in Japan argued in a Jan 7 editorial, we now need to start thinking clearly about costs.

  8. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    OT Reference needed. Wasn’t there a paper this year that just counted new research papers to see how often the new research indicated that the problem is not quite as bad as previously thought, vs the opposite? I would appreciate a reference to this please.

  9. DavidCOG says:

    BBC? Hello! Wakey, wakey!

  10. Mark says:

    Is there any sign of Australian politicians being forced to turn away from climate change denial? Good to see the media at least airing the science. Now if we in the UK could get that….

  11. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    And so humanity’s march into reality begins…

  12. DrD says:

    I also was watching ABC News last night when this came on and, I have to admit, was taken aback because there was no “Other experts question yada yada yada…” The fact that the piece was aired and without false balance is good. But it was only two minutes. How long before ABC (and others) begin to have a 5 minute segment each night dedicated to the causes and consequences of climate change? When it gets more coverage than the perils of being a Hollywood starlet, then we’ll know they’re taking it seriously.
    Still, last night’s two-minute piece may reflect an important change in media coverage.

  13. petronelle says:

    Thanks for posting this Joe. It’s very encouraging. However, yesterday’s Arizona Daily Star had an AP article that didn’t make the connection between weather and warming (p.A12.)

    Grain costs surge, are linked to crop losses.

    A surprising drop in the U.S. corn and soybean crop send grain prices surging to their highest level in 2 1/2 years Wednesday. The price increases stoked concerns about higher food prices and tighter supplies of feedstock for food and biofuels…Wet weather and abnormally high temperatures contributed to lower U.S. corn production in 2010…The report shows that corn stockpiles are among the lowest levels ever recorded…

  14. Esop says:

    Excellent. And about time.
    Meanwhile, over here in the northern part of the old world, there is still no mention of the 2010 temperature record in the major papers and news outlets. Big reports on the snow on the ground in the US, though.

    Major effort is put into convincing folks that the worldwide floods are purely a result of the La Nina, and is in no way linked to climate change.

    However, extremely mild weather and major flooding is forecast for the weekend. Major flood warning in Norway in mid January. Now, that is something.
    The denialist forecast of a record cold January for Europe is getting more and more silly by the day. What a bunch of discredited fools/criminals.

  15. john atcheson says:

    We should all be writing into ABC expressing our support and gratitude for an accurate piece on climate change.

    the web site is here:

    Go to the bottom right hand side and you’ll see a heading “contact us”

  16. mike roddy says:

    People should call and email ABC to praise them.

  17. Michael Tucker says:

    “If left unchecked, climate warming will continue so the things that we’re having hints of now, foretastes of now, will come stronger,”

    How will we put the warming in “check”? Please someone tell me. If we stopped pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere today would we see a sudden reversal in extreme weather events? No!

    Would we avoid continued warming by putting a climate bill in place? NO!

    We will get above a 2 degree global average EVEN IF WE STOPPED ALL GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS TODAY! …and we all know that ain’t going to happen.

    [JR: Actually we probably wouldn’t hit 2 C if we went to 0 GHG now.]

    What we are experiencing is anthropogenic global climate disruption and these manmade “natural” disasters are the new normal. No matter what, we can’t stop the heating and we are powerless to prevent catastrophic sea level rise.

  18. DavidCOG says:

    @john atcheson + mike roddy:

    > People should call and email ABC to praise them.

    Well said.

    ABC News Feedback

  19. Bill W says:

    Perhaps one element of false balance crept in, in the use of the phrase “many climate scientists say” rather than “most climate scientists say”. But still a heck of a lot better than quoting Lomborg or Christy or somebody worse.

  20. sturat says:

    Great news! But one small nit.

    The “no longer a theory” meme supports many other denialist beliefs:

    germ & diseases,
    vaccines & autism, …

  21. Bill W says:

    P.S. Of course, conservatives will simply denounce this as coming from the “liberal media”. When we can get this kind of reporting on Fox, we’ll know we’re getting serious.

  22. Tom Lenz says:

    Praise them first, then tell them to put in on the front page. It’s the biggest “story” in the history of journalism and everything else you fools!

  23. Jim says:

    This is very encouraging – the scientific link is finally being made. We need also to lead the press to understand the link between the inability to mitigate the problem and the global warmer denier industry. As I have written elsewhere, these events should be referred to as Koch Floods.

    Koch Flood, noun; flooding caused by an extreme precipitation event intensified by additional heat in the atmosphere and in the near-surface layers of the ocean

  24. dhogaza says:


    Meanwhile, over here in the northern part of the old world, there is still no mention of the 2010 temperature record in the major papers and news outlets. Big reports on the snow on the ground in the US, though.

    CNN cable broadcast and website talked about it, complete with the color map put out by NOAA? NASA GIS? I forget which.

    My local daily and the NY Times both covered it, as well.

  25. dhogaza says:

    Esop … oops, I read your comment as “northern part of the world”, not “northern part of the OLD world”.

    Sorry …

  26. Tom Lenz says:

    Ten years from now some mainstream news outlet will be bragging about being The Leader in Climate Change Journalism. Seems inevitable as the reality becomes more and more obvious. Let us remind ABC that it is in their own interest to be that news outlet. ABC take the lead! ABC don’t let the competition scoop you on the biggest news story in history! Be the leader of a new, more responsible journalistic movement. Be the voice of reality! Make yourselves proud for doing the RIGHT thing!!

  27. Barry says:

    Jim (#24): “Koch Flood”

    LOL. And how about “Koch Botch” as a broader term for any fossil-fuelled weather extreme?

    As in: The citizens of Pakistan are struggling under yet another “Koch Botch” as unprecedented rainfall puts a third of the nation under raging flood waters.

  28. Barry says:

    Joe, I think you deserve some of the credit for that excellent ABC piece. It felt like I was reading one of your blog posts…except with a bit less depth and linking.

    I think your tireless efforts to both hold MSM accountable for bad climate stories…as well as your continuing excellent framing of the climate info as it comes out…is making a difference.

    At some point everyone hits the point where they come around to seeing the reality of climate changes already and the threats that are looming. At that point a resource like CP is invaluable to help them get up to speed fast.

    I’m hopeful we will be seeing more MSM turn to CP to get their facts straight and in-line with latest science.

    Keep up the great work!

  29. Oregon_Stream says:

    Wow, Michael, talk about throwing in the towel. That may be very convenient for some, but continuing on the present emissions trajectory only locks in more accelerated climate change. If we can’t get our act together in time, would we rather have 3 degrees C in less than a century, or 4-7 degrees? This isn’t really about stopping what’s already in the pipeline, due to both climatic and societal inertia. This is about minimizing future impacts.

  30. Barry says:

    Michael Tucker (#19): “What we are experiencing is anthropogenic global climate disruption and these manmade “natural” disasters are the new normal. No matter what, we can’t stop the heating and we are powerless to prevent catastrophic sea level rise.”

    We are definitely going to live for centuries with nastier weather than what civilization has been used.

    But the catastrophic stuff like sea level rise and major feedback loops isn’t a given yet. At least not according to climate scientists like James Hansen. He says the important thing is to get back to 350ppm as quickly as we can. It all depends on how long the atmosphere stays above 350ppm. That is still in our hands to “control”. Although he says he uses the term “control” loosely given our lack of effort to use the tools we have to exert that control so far.

    He says ice sheets have a lot of thermal inertia that gives us a small but real window to reduce ppm back to 350. He thinks it is doable by rapidly phasing out coal and unconventionals while reforming forestry and agriculture.

    I’m going with his expertise as it keeps me positive enough to keep working for change at personal, local and national levels.

  31. Tom Gray says:

    Two minutes may be better than five. We’re in the short-attention-span era, folks.

  32. Wally says:

    Regarding the mainstream media, I guess late is better than never.
    I suspect ABC will have hell to pay from some corporate interest in the short run. It’s probably a good idea to let them know that their reporting on consequences of climate change is much appreciated.

  33. Morano is full splatter mode today at Climate Depot taking on every story mentioned 2010 as warmest year or any linking CC and extreme weather. Expect to see his denialist rants and unsubstantiated nonsense repeated endlessly as gospel over next few weeks until it becomes: “well, everyone knows that…”

  34. Michael T. says:

    Noam Chomsky – “Death Knell for the Species”

  35. Oregon_Stream says:

    Speaking of more reasonable media coverage, we have this piece, even if it is somewhat half-hearted:

    Of course, the fingers-in-ears, “can’t control the weather” crowd has been plugging away in the comment space. They’re having none of it, I tell ya!

  36. Leland Palmer says:

    Yes, great, good news.

    But the MSM has missed the story of the century, at least, for a couple of decades now, at least.

    It’s better than nothing, but don’t we deserve a MSM that actually tells the truth, the whole truth, and (mostly) nothing but the truth?

    How can we react appropriately to reality if we are fed false and actively misleading information?

    We’ve been failed so many times in so many ways by these corporate institutions we have grown accustomed to it, and have a hard time even conceiving an honest media.

    AGW is a failure of a great many capitalist institutions- a complete, utter, even sinister failure.

    Eventually we will have to face the issue of elite control of society for their own benefit, not the benefit of the majority, IMO.

    The greenhouse heating from burning a ton of fossil fuel (or a gallon of gasoline, for that matter) is roughly one hundred thousand times its heat of combustion.

    So, the side effects of fossil fuel use outweigh the benefits by roughly a hundred thousand times…assuming that the methane hydrates don’t destabilize in a major way.

    If the methane hydrates destabilize, we could easily see greenhouse multiplier factors of millions of times of the heat of combustion of the fossil fuels.

    These fossil fuel corporations are public nuisances, and endanger every living being on the planet. They are God forsaken parasites, in my opinion, and their existence can no longer be tolerated.

    Since they resist regulation, we should simply nationalize them, seize as much of the wealth they have ever generated as necessary to break the power of the fossil fuel corporations, and be done with it. Then the best scientists in the world could work on transforming them into something more benign.

  37. Michael Tucker says:

    “JR: Actually we probably wouldn’t hit 2 C if we went to 0 GHG now.”

    Joe, I sure want that to be true.

    Nature Geoscience Advanced Online Publication has an article titled:
    “On-going climate change following a complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions”

    This quote is from one of the authors:
    “We created ‘what if’ scenarios,” says Dr. Shawn Marshall, co-author of the paper, Canada Research Chair in Climate Change and University of Calgary geography professor. “What if we completely stopped using fossil fuels and put no more CO2 in the atmosphere? How long would it then take to reverse current climate change trends and will things first become worse?” The research team explored zero-emissions scenarios beginning in 2010 and in 2100.

    The Northern Hemisphere fares better than the south in the computer simulations, with patterns of climate change reversing within the 1,000-year timeframe in places, such as Canada. At the same time, parts of North Africa experience desertification as land dries out by up to 30 percent and ocean warming of up to 5 °C off of Antarctica is likely to trigger widespread collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, a region the size of the Canadian prairies.”

    1000 years for patterns of climate disruption to change…
    I sure hope I am misunderstanding or the study is flawed but this is not the first time studies have shown that continued warming will result even if we drastically reduce GHG.

    This is not an excuse to do nothing. I do think it is important to understand that we will not see immediate relief from catastrophic climate events once the major polluting nations finally do put a plan into place.

    That quote comes from

  38. fj3 says:

    Hitting 2C would likely require 0 emissions

    Pulling carbon out of the ecosystem

    Reducing global solar heat absorption

    Probably some other really impossible unforeseen stuff

    Yep, better call superman!

  39. Rob C. says:

    @ 37. Oregon_Stream Thanks for the link. Yeah, the sock puppets are earning their 50 cents, aren’t they? Link them to the truth and derail the disinformation campaign.

    The next step would be to see the mainstream media start to truth-squad the deniers and investigate the source and motives of the disinformation campaign, and to cover the enormous promise and potential of a renewable energy-powered economy. The public needs to be aware of three things: The prognosis for inaction on global warming is dire, the promise of a renewable energy economy is enormous, and the fossil fuel lobby is selling a fraud and corrupting our political systems to prevent action to address the crisis. People have to realize the scope of the threat, have some hope for a solution, and have a tangible focal point for action (outrage at the fraud).

  40. Peter M says:

    Hansen said that even 2 degrees will be disastrous.

  41. K. Nockels says:

    My list of events that would have to happen to wake up even congress is being checked off one by one (example of most extreme: we lose West Anarctic ice sheet and Pine Island glacier dump’s enough ice to raise sealevels 2ft) others are crop reduction, arctic sea ice loss, heat waves and major flooding in the same year world wide this one I had to check off it’s happened and wasn’t extreme enough I guess. Now what I thought would have made most people wake up 5 years ago doesn’t even make mainstream news. Joe remember that piece you did where you had us give you our thoughts on wake-up events? how many of them have already happened with little or no coverage from main news? like to see how many have been checked off already.

  42. Mimikatz says:

    Michael T: While it seems that we may have locked in a rise of 2 degrees C, whether the planet gets to 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 in the next centuries is the issue. To the extent we care about the future, reducing the inevitable suffering those would entail would seem to be in order. What we need to do above all is to avoid triggering something like methane release from the permafrost or the oceans that will propel us to the upper end of the range.

    We can slow then stop the use of oil and coal and use renewables and maybe nuclear. We can have far less transportation and make more at home or change products. We can minimize the damage, in other words, both for our own future and for our children’s future.

    This is no time to give up, although you are right people need to understand that barring some technological breakthrough, we are due for at least 2 degrees of warming in the next 30 years.

  43. ed says:

    Sorry if OT and if already noted ,but I thought this a revealing fact:

  44. Mimikatz says:

    And how’s this for ingorance is bliss: The GOP is going to schedule its 2012 nominating convention in what is likely to be an el Nino year in the last week of August in Phoenix, Tampa or Salt Lake City. That’s heatwaves and drought, hurricanes, or slightly less heatwaves and drought. Might be funny to see outdoor protests by Tea Partiers in any of those locales at the end of August.

  45. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Jim #25, how about the KOCHtastrophe, now in its early stages. In Australia the rabid denial goes on. The Adelaide Advertiser, a minor part of Murdoch’s Archipelago of yellow journalism, today preaches the unwavering ‘It’s all La Nina’ line, which is the near uniform reaction of the mainstream media, which as Chomsky, Herman and commonsense tells us, is a propaganda apparatus for protecting the interests of the Big Business ruling caste.
    I find this ABC report interesting. I note the tendentious ‘most’ climate scientists-I’d say 90% plus is slightly more than ‘most’, but there you go. The acid test of whether this is a straw in the wind indicating whether truth is emerging in the MSM, will be the reaction. I’ll bet the denialists are besieging ABC with abuse, and that the nabobs of the denialist hierarchy are probably on the ‘phone, leaning on ABC to provide some ‘balance’ ie lies and disinformation. It is, of course, exactly akin to allowing a Holocaust denier to ‘balance’ every story detailing the crimes of the Nazis.

  46. Steve UK says:

    Reply to #5 “so we know that nothing rocks the denier’s boat.”

    I enjoyed this opening line from a current WUWT post;

    “The current issue of the elitist “science” journal, Science, contains an article in its “Perspectives” section (not in the “Research” section):”

    Yes, Science, the “elitist” “”science”” journal.

    Hey, if it’s not blog science it’s not Real Science. It’s beyond parody.

  47. Brian N says:

    Bastardi wants to wage a bet against any climate scientist to make a temperature prediction for next decade.

  48. peter whitehead says:

    UK Met Office warns of potential 150mm rainfall (about 6 inches) this weekend on high peaks of Cumbria, northwest England. In Nov 2009 huge floods from these peaks caused great damage in the Cockermouth area. Hope it’s not a repeat.

  49. MapleLeaf says:

    Someone ought to tell the CBC and BBC and….CSRRT?

  50. MapleLeaf says:

    Brian @44,

    “Bastardi wants to wage a bet against any climate scientist to make a temperature prediction for next decade.”

    Oh dear, maybe he is simply delusional? Quick, someone tell James Annan.

  51. Sorry my fellow commenters, but denialism is not a binary condition. We are not just in AGW denial or out of AGW denial – like an on or off switch. We might be wise to think of it as more of a continuum.

    It is easier for us to draw a wall of accepting AGW or not…We all are so very quick to accept our own limits to the science – yes we have human caused climate change – but then when we look at models and scenarios — we all want to go all denialistic when evaluating the more painful of the probable future scenarios. I am guilty of that.

    Just because something is anything less than 100% certain – does not mean it is not likely or not possible.

  52. Michael says:

    Re: Bastardi’s bet,

    Even a recent scientific prediction (one of those from 2008 that deniers used to claim that cooling would occur) was proved to be wrong:

    Of course, we knew that would never verify because even the hindcast showed cooling instead of warming, due to errors in the model.

    Also, about whether zero emissions right now would prevent 2 degrees of warming, that seems increasingly doubtful based on all of the evidence coming in, including the recent study that shows twice the climate sensitivity – based on observations – as previously modeled. In fact, zero emissions would cause a big spike due to the loss of aerosol cooling; then what about permafrost? It doesn’t take much methane to equal current anthropogenic CO2 remissions (~70x on a 20 year timescale, or about 500 million tons, which could be sustained for thousands of years).

  53. Although the message is correct, they got a couple of details wrong: The Hartford record was an all-time daily record, but the Albany record was one of many records for that date:
    Northeast Blizzard Update: Hartford Sets New Snowfall Record
    Note also that Hartford, Albany, and Boston temperatures have all averaged above normal so far this month.

  54. Susan Anderson says:

    ABC is the most liberal of the MSM reporters, but we occasionally see good work from CBS and NBC as well, buried amongst other stuff. I think it’s the weather and the fact it’s Australia that gets the eyeballs.

    I’ve been boring on forever about the excellent Earth 2100 – a two hour special organized with John Podesta’s organization, well researched, etc.
    ‘Earth 2100’: the Final Century of Civilization?
    “Planet at Risk: Experts Warn Population Growth, Resource Depletion, Climate Change Could Bring Catastrophe in Next Century
    “It’s an idea that most of us would rather not face — that within the next century, life as we know it could come to an end. Our civilization could crumble, leaving only traces of modern human existence behind. It seems outlandish, extreme — even impossible. But according to cutting edge scientific research, it is a very real possibility. And unless we make drastic changes now, it could very well happen. Experts have a stark warning: that unless we change course, the “perfect storm” of…”

    Lots of other items on the page; one on water shortages caught my eye.

    Let’s leave the namecalling and labels to the opposition. Our message is clearer without it, and they are taking to saying they are more polite so they must be right!

  55. Susan Anderson says:

    BTW, that ABC 2 hour feature was run in June 2009 on a weekday evening, Bob Woodruff.

  56. Vic says:

    Here in Australia I saw a one minute story on our ABC TV news, interviewing climatologist professor David Karoly, who explained the link between sea surface temps, la Nina and increased precipitation. They briefly showed two of the scary charts that were recently released by our bureau of meteorology. The segment contained no “balance” from the denialist camp. In a somewhat prophetic Freudian slip, the presenter mistakenly referred to climate change as “climate chains” !
    Being retired, I have watched maybe fifty hours of TV news in the last week. The one minute segment I described above was the one and only mention of climate change I saw. So if we add one minute of Aussie ABC, and two minutes of American ABC, then together we have a grand total of three minutes devoted to reporting of the “story of the millenium”.

  57. MapleLeaf says:

    Sadly the Met Ofice missed the mark somewhat in their explanation for the floods:

  58. Wit's End says:

    K. Nockles, #43, It’s a big problem, called “shifting baselines.” People measure their expectations on the very recent past. Most people have already forgotten that the air used to be full of the hum of bees and the calls of birds. Our ecosystem is becoming hollow, incrementally. The bleaching of the coral reefs is a good example. It represents a dramatic change, from a vista of brilliant hues to a dead grey graveyard. And yet for all the notice it receives, relative to what a monumental extinction it portends, it may as well be an invisible trend.

  59. Vic says:

    At the very least, we can thank the main stream media for making the term “inland tsunami” part of our every day language.

  60. David B. Benson says:

    Serious decline in bumblebees and wasps around here.

    Definite lack of pollinators; my Oregon Grape (sorta like holly) didn’t flower this past summer, so no berries.

  61. Esop says:

    #49 (Peter)
    If I remember correctly, the highest Cumbrian peaks are at close to 3300ft elevation. Rain at that elevation in January makes it sound like a pretty mild January so far in Britain.
    After failing miserably with the forecast of a top 3 coldest January for Britain and Europe, the leading denialist forecaster (along with Bastardi) hasn’t learned a thing and is at it again:

    “..the next weather periods starting 18th Jan will be back on track with a return of exceptionally harsh winter weather during the second half of January.”

    Oh well. Temps will drop a little towards the end of next week, but still stay well above freezing. Not sure if that really qualifies as “cruel” in the month of January, at the latitude of Labrador.
    Temps will have to drop a lot for January to be in the denialist predicted top 3 coldest, though.
    Doesn’t look like that ice age is all that imminent after all.

  62. Vic says:

    In a strangely ironic sign of the times, warnings are now being issued about the dangers of solar panels exposed to flood waters.

    I also recall reading a comment on some blog somewhere about fire-fighters being reluctant to hose burning buildings if they have solar panels. At the time I wrote it off as just another denialist rant. Perhaps I was wrong.

    Seems to me this issue might be another opportunity for a clever inventer/entrepeneur. A cheap, retrofittable, radio controlled switch perhaps ? (Manufactered in CO2 neutral manner of course!)
    Hell, you don’t even need to believe in global warming to make a buck out of global warming.

  63. Marc says:

    Joe, it looks likes your tireless criticism of the media is having an effect. And once they get the picture that there’s a better story in the climate disruption than there is in false controversy, it will be the story of the decade. I mean, really, what’s a snowpocalypse compared to 5 – 10 degrees of warming?

  64. joyce says:

    #64 Vic,
    When I installed solar PV 3 years ago, my electric company made me install a shut off switch at the side of my house. I thought it a bit silly–but who knows? Today, I asked the fellow who installed them about shock possiblilty in a flood, and here’s his response:

    “Any time the sun is shining your panels will be making electricity. When the grid is down or your inverter is off, that electricity doesn’t go anywhere – it just stays in the panels. If you touch the electrical connections of the panels while the sun is up you’ll get a shock. I’m not sure exactly how that could happen in an flood, but maybe…”

    But I think an entrepreneur could build a better business just cleaning the dang things. At least around here. I’m getting too old to climb up on the roof with a washing wand…

  65. Dave Julain says:

    funny, watching and reading the media’s coverage of floods here in Australia, there was hardly a mention of climate change and the reality of having to live with and adapt to these events on a regular basis. Sadly we are just going to put it back togethor how it was and it will all get washed away if not later this season then sometime in the coming years.

  66. Sou says:

    So far in Australia I have seen two segments on our ABC (government) national television news and one segment on Channel 7 commercial national television news, all three interviewing climate scientists who directly attributed AGW to the exacerbation of the widespread flooding in Australia in strong terms, and all with no ‘denier’ balance. There may have been more than this that I missed.

    As I’ve said before, it seems silly to congratulate these media outlets for stating what is scientific fact, but with the denier machine still in full bore, it is worth doing so.

  67. Sou says:

    Re solar panels, I saw houses with solar panels with the flood waters above the eaves and the bottom row of solar panels, and the higher panels in full sunlight. The panels will be generating electricity regardless of the shut-off switch. The switch itself shuts off the power between the panels and the grid and the house’s internal wiring. The panels will still be generating power.

    I don’t know what happens when some of the panels are under water. I expect it depends on how well the panels and wiring are water-proofed.

    I certainly would not be swimming in surrounding water or sheltering on a roof with solar panels submerged in water. Once the water has subsided below the roof level, the risk should be a lot less.

  68. Nell says:

    Can you poll the Climate Progress audience?

    it’s too late
    it’s not too late if…

    [JR: Too ill defined.]

  69. Joan says:

    ABC included a significant last quote from Somerville,

    “…and so the things we are having hints of now, foretastes of now, will become stronger.”

    Calling severe flooding in Australia, Brazil, and elsewhere mere “hints” and “foretastes” tests the imagination about what is to come.
    The post on a 16C rise by 2100 is also stretching in that way.

    Expecting a technological fix is looking quite naive.
    Solar panels zapping away in a flood that reached the rooftop, now that’s another hint.

  70. Sou says:

    Here’s advice on what to do for domestic solar installations at risk of flood:

    The article doesn’t specifically mention what to do (or what not to do) when the panels themselves are under water.

  71. Mark says:

    In the UK a serious newspaper dismisses any link with climate change based on the comments of the Met Office head of long term forecasting.

  72. Dappledwater says:

    MrJohn @ 73 – And?.

  73. BBHY says:

    Warning: Head Vise Is Advised For This Post.

    So Frances Beinecke, President of the National Resources Defense Council, an allegedly pro-environmental group, wants to go ahead and drill for oil in the Arctic as soon as we close:

    “the gap in our scientific understanding of the Arctic ecosystem and the gap in our ability to respond to spills in that forbidding landscape”.

    Say what? Under no circumstances should we ever drill in the Arctic! I can understand that sort of statement from the API, or from Exxon, Chevron or BP. But from an environmental group?

  74. Heraclitus says:

    The Independent’s headline (see Mark’s comment #73) is awful: “This isn’t about climate change – but it may be the face of the future”. The second part is perhaps a saving grace, but the certainty of the statement ‘this isn’t about climate change’ is completely unjustified. (I suppose it could be argued that the certainty of the statement at the head of this post is also unjustified and I do wonder about the lack of qualifications in it – no doubt many will jump on it with glee, and it will be hard to argue that they have no justification at all in doing so.)

    The story itself is marginally better than the headline and would justify a different wording – maybe “This may not be directly about climate change” – but is taken largely from the Met Office report MapleLeaf links to in #59. No mention of the warming trend in the waters around Australia. The floods are all attributed to La Nina, but there is no consideration of the fact that something can have more than one contributary cause.

  75. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    The Australian floods extent from Queensland through NSW and Victoria to northern Tasmania. Some of the floods are record breaking and others almost so, but the total must be a record. Add to that, Floods in Brazil and floods in Sri Lanka (badly affecting the rice crop). All in the first fortnight of the year.

    Many of the previous floods in Queenland involved cyclones, not this one.

  76. Joan says:

    It is important to mentally separate the climate-weather observations from the disaster observations. Disasters are about the people affected, so a high population magnifies the effect of a natural occurrence that causes a disaster to people. The EMDAT data show that while disaster magnitudes have been increasing, absolute loss of human life has not gone up at the same rate.

    Modern forecasting, emergency broadcasting communications and transport out of danger zones have done much to limit loss of life. Take note that the Pakistan weather service was able forewarn the people about flooding, and millions were displaced, not drowned.

    Until the weather patterns totally unravel, we still have la Nina and el Nino, and some multi-decade patterns. What is for-sure changing now is the amount of water vapor available. This shows up as intensity of rainfall and snow.

    Yet another threshold to come is a persistent change in pattern across the landscape and in time. We are likely to experience instability, not a tidy step to a different pattern. It remains to be seen how well forecasting and emergency management will keep up.

  77. Joe, this is an incredible teaching-moment for the public at large. Would it be possible for you and Hansen to make a joint statement on tv to drive home how these monster storms and floods are being driven by global warming (more heat, more moisture)caused by our continued use of fossil fuels. You and Hansen should then make a statement of what governments, especially China and the U.S., should do. Credible scientists need to take the stage at this moment with everyone ‘mystified’ by these catastrophes. In media it’s called “putting it on record”.

  78. dhogaza says:

    BBHY, that’s really unfair.

    Here’s her blog post:

    She was a member of the National Oil Spill Commission, and her post is a report on the commission’s conclusions. She’s not talking about her own opinion (or that of NRDC) regarding the advisability of drilling for oil in the Arctic.

    She reports the Commission’s conclusion as:

    And finally, the commission has concluded that we need to take a precautionary approach to drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic is an extremely vulnerable environment and one that presents major challenges for drilling and clean up technology. There is much we don’t know about responding to spills in this setting, and we must take the time necessary to close the research gaps as soon as possible.

    The Commission wasn’t asked to judge whether or not drilling in the Arctic is advisable. What were they supposed to do?

    President Barack Obama established the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling through Executive Order 13543 on May 21, 2010. The Commission will be examining the relevant facts and circumstances concerning the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and developing options to guard against, and mitigate the impact of, any oil spills associated with offshore drilling in the future. This may include recommending improvements to federal laws, regulations, and industry practices.

    Given that relatively narrow mission, it’s a bit surprising that they addressed arctic drilling at all, given that it’s a speculative future development not on the table today. They’ve proactively stepped beyond their strict mission to urge caution regarding drilling in the Arctic.

  79. Susan Kraemer says:

    Thank you ABC News! Unbelievable that they are finally telling the only real news story of the millenium! More truth, please.

    If the media had only told the truth before the election. This is about as far as possible from a vote, people wil forget by 2012.

  80. paulm says:

    Amazing, Daily Mail reports….
    I think the extreme events have gotten to the tipping point and this is tipping the MSM….

    Most atmospheric scientists attribute the change to gases released into the air by industrial processes and gasoline-burning engines.
    David Easterling, the chief of the scientific services division at the NCDC, said: ‘These results show that the climate is continuing to show the influence of greenhouse gases. It’s showing evidence of warming.’
    Last year was also the wettest on record and a warmer atmosphere holds more water, which in general can result in more floods, he said.


    itterly cold winters in Europe and the U.S. in 2010 may be a paradoxical side effect of climate change, some scientists said.
    Rising temperatures mean a shrinking of sea ice in the Arctic, heating the region and pushing cold air southwards during the winter, according to a study last month in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

  81. Paulm says:

    But for the first time in history light began creeping over the horizon at around 1pm on Tuesday – 48 hours ahead of the usual date of 13 January.

    The mysterious sunrise has confused scientists, although it is believed the most likely explanation is that it is down to the lower height of melting icecaps allowing the sun’s light to penetrate through earlier.

  82. espiritwater says:


  83. adelady says:

    susan @82. Unless we’re super lucky, I rather fear there’ll be a bit more of this stuff being reported before the 2012 election.

  84. peter whitehead says:

    Mainstream media still not reporting the record low arctic seaice area for over a month so far.

  85. Wit's End says:

    adelady, #87. Exactly. There is a trend.

  86. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Perhaps anthropogenic climate change denialism could be called (amongst other things) a ‘Koch and bull story’ given the source of much of its funding.

  87. Orkneygal says:

    The climate must be changing. The floods in Brisbane, Queensland were the 6th or 7th highest in recorded history!

  88. Leif says:

    Worried about sharing a roof with solar panel during a flood? Tie a tarp over the surface.

  89. Leif says:

    Brisbane Floods were supposed to be a thing of the past with the construction of the Wivenhoe Dam, Orknegal. These floods have breached all defenses and still caused record floods.

  90. Michael says:

    There is a good discussion of the Queensland floods in the comments over at Skeptical Science:

    As already pointed out, earlier floods didn’t have dams (several) to lessen their impacts, thus you can’t really directly compare the flood heights to those past events (the measuring site was also changed), a better measure would be the total amount of water.

  91. Paulm says:

    94 mike, I think weather persons are starting to take climate scientist seriously now. It took 10yrs of strange weather topped off with this amazing year, the hottest on record, for them to realize this is serious and not a bloody game.

    It’s all about extreme weather events, not the gradual rise of the tempreatue, which I think they believed was survivable.

    Now were all up a creek.

  92. MaxShelby says:

    I don’t want to sound like a tin foil hat but what effects are Geo Engineering having on the weather? Clearly the technology exists.

    Secret £7 million weather project in Abu Dhabi that resulted in the creation of dozens of man-made rainstorms:

    Desert dwellers wishing to transform their arid surroundings into a profitable, crop-sustaining oasis have reportedly gotten one step closer to making that dream a reality, as Abu Dhabi scientists now claim to have created more than 50 artificial rainstorms from clear skies during peak summer months in 2010. According to Arabian Business, the storms were part of a top secret, Swiss-backed project, commissioned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE and leader of Abu Dhabi. Called “Weathertec,” the climate project — said to be worth a staggering $11 million — utilized ionizers resembling giant lampshades to generate fields of negatively charged particles, which create cloud formation, throughout the country’s Al Ain region… Helmut Fluhrer, the founder of Metro Systems International, the Swiss company in charge of the project, is quoted as saying. “We started in June 2010 and have achieved a number of rainfalls.”… Monitored by the Max Planck Institute for Technology, a leading tank for the study of atmosphere physics, the fake storms are said to have baffled Abu Dhabi residents by also producing hail, wind gales and even lightning. – Huffington Post.

    I have to wonder if they have the capability to do this, don’t they also have the capability to get it wrong and do more harm than good? Isn’t it worthy of debate rather than being dismissed and relegated to CT?

  93. Leif says:

    Creating Rain?, @ 97: With added moisture in the air because of added warmth,it would be a good thing to wring some moisture out over the desserts. (Assuming that that have succeeded in their clams.) That however brings up the problem of one section of the world perhaps becoming dependent on extra moisture in the atmosphere and another segment being flooded. It may be that the technique will only work with 4%+ extra water vapor. Then what?

  94. momochan says:

    On Saturday I sent our local ABC affiliate TV station a postcard of thanks for this segment, and “keep up the good work!”