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IPCC Extreme Weather Report Is Another Blown Chance to Explain the Catastrophes Coming If We Keep Doing Nothing

By Joe Romm on November 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm

"IPCC Extreme Weather Report Is Another Blown Chance to Explain the Catastrophes Coming If We Keep Doing Nothing"

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UPDATE:  Andy Revkin’s comment (here) may be the single most head-exploding and revisionist thing he has ever written. I reply.  The adaptation expert, Dr. Richard Klein, offers a defense of the IPCC process in the comments (here).

Fortunately, the public already understands that global warming makes extreme weather more severe, as new polling reveals:

September polling by ecoAmerica found that 57% of Americans already understand “If we don’t do something about climate change now, we can end up having our farmland turned to desert.”  Duh:

drought map 2 2030-2039

The Palmer Drought Severity Index on a “moderate” warming path (via NCAR, click to enlarge). “A reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought.” During the 1930s Dust Bowl, the PDSI spiked briefly to -6 but rarely exceeded -3.  We probably can’t stop this, but we can avert far, far worse post-2050 (see below).

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is coming out Friday with its umpteenth watered down report on climate science, in this case on extreme weather.  The thing to remember about IPCC reports is that pretty much everyone involved has to sign off on every word, so it is inevitably a least common denominator document.

The actual scientific literature from 2011 is far more useful than this report — see “Study Finds 80% Chance Russia’s 2010 July Heat Record Would Not Have Occurred Without Climate Warming” and “NOAA Study Finds Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in More Frequent Mediterranean Droughts.”  I will provide the links to as many recent studies as possible in this post.

Indeed we already know from a major 2011 study that “human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas.”  As predicted, the warming has put more water vapor in the air, making deluges more intense.  Climatologist Kevin Trenberth explains:

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,

Obviously, since it’s getting hotter, we’re worsening extreme heat waves — both in intensity and duration and scale (the area the heat wave covers).  For the same reason, we know humans are making droughts worse — in intensity, duration, and scale.  The earlier snow melts also makes summer droughts worse.

Actual observations reveal that since 1950, the global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74% of global land area per decade (see here).  Heck, our best scientists are already using global warming to help them predict dangerous extreme weather (see “USGS Expert Explains How Global Warming Likely Contributes to East Africa’s Brutal Drought“).

The reinsurance industry understands all this (see Munich Re: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change”).

Again, much if not most of the public appear to have a better sense of what’s happening right now than you’ll find in the summaries of a typical IPCC report, to go by Yale’s 2011 polling and the September poll from ecoAmerica quoted at the top, which also found:

69% of Americans Know “Weather Conditions (Such as Heat Waves and Droughts) Are Made Worse by Climate Change”

The American public can’t miss the extreme weather because it is everywhere now and increasingly off the charts (see “A New Record: 14 U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in 2011“) and links below.

Of course, what’s to come is the real issue, since we still have control over that.  We’re facing 5 to 10 times the warming this century that we’ve seen in the past half century.

Unfortunately, the IPCC continues to conflate uncertainty in future emissions of greenhouse gases with uncertainty in the climate’s sensitivity to those emissions.  This means they present a very large range of possible overall impacts — and that allows the deniers to trumpet the low range with their powerful fossil-fuel-funded megaphone and induces the media to provide “balance” in their stories between the mid-range and the low range.

The reality is we are on the highest emissions trends (see “Biggest Jump Ever in Global Warming Pollution in 2010 means “levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago”).  And the latest science and observation points towards the high end of the climate’s sensitivity (see Journal of Climate: New cloud feedback results “provide support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity”).

Most climate scientists know what is coming if we don’t act quickly– and more and more are shedding their reticence to speak out, even if that is not yet reflected in bland, least-common-denominator IPCC reports (see Lonnie Thompson on why climatologists are speaking out: “Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization”).

And as long as the deniers, inactivists and climate ignorati rule the debate, inaction is assured, which means that we are risking extreme weather beyond imagination, extreme events on top of an average warming this century that could hit 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 25°F in the Arctic:

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE OR COMMENT


This is business-as-usual (“no policy”) warming — see Royal Society Special Issue on Global Warming Details ‘Hellish Vision’ of 7°F (4°C) World. “In such a 4°C world, the limits for human adaptation are likely to be exceeded in many parts of the world, while the limits for adaptation for natural systems would largely be exceeded throughout the world.”

This would be the worst-case for the 2060s, but is, in any case, close to business as usual for 2090s.  See also M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F.

Remember, this is just average warming.  If you want to know what the extremes would be, well, must imagine the worst drought or wildfire or heatwave of today — and then add, say, 15°F!  Even on a moderate warming path, the “Monster crop-destroying Russian heat wave of 2010 is projected to be a once-in-a-decade event by 2060s (or sooner).”

If we look at just the moderate warming scenario the National Center for Atmospheric Research considered in its literature review and analysis, “Drought under global warming: a review,” (See NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path), Dust-Bowlification overwhelms the planet in the second half of the century:

drought map 3 2060-2069

The large-scale pattern shown in Figure 11 [of which the figure above is part] appears to be a robust response to increased GHGs. This is very alarming because if the drying is anything resembling Figure 11, a very large population will be severely affected in the coming decades over the whole United States, southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Chile, Australia, and most of Africa.

NCAR notes “By the end of the century, many populated areas, including parts of the United States, could face readings in the range of -8 to -10, and much of the Mediterranean could fall to -15 to -20. Such readings would be almost unprecedented.”

  • The UK Met Office came to a similar view four years ago in their analysis, projecting severe drought over 40% of the Earth’s habited landmass by century’s end (see “The Century of Drought“).

The heat and drought drives wildfires.  Here’s a National Academies figure from a presentation made by the President’s science adviser Dr. John Holdren in Oslo last year, about conditions projected for mid-century:

As I concluded in my recent Nature piece, “Feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate may well be the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced.”  We could stave off the worse if we acted quickly, but the task is all but hopeless if we keep listening to the inactivists and confusionists.

Future generations will be cursing our names and wondering how the most prestigious institutions could put out such bland scientific reports — and how the media could treat those reports as the worst-case scenario when they were in fact mostly best-case scenarios.  We have ended up with this chart (via Michael Tobis) where the “fat tail” of catastrophe at the end gets fatter ever year we delay, but the “debate” in the press never budges.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_QNv9CPAjNvE/S06gZ_U0ZDI/AAAAAAAAA0U/Lye6M_XEUPs/s400/ClimateChangeReporting.jpg

The time to act was a long time ago, but further delay is suicidal  — see IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy”

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50 Responses to IPCC Extreme Weather Report Is Another Blown Chance to Explain the Catastrophes Coming If We Keep Doing Nothing

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Yes and it seems that aerosols make extreme rainfall more probable. Definitely messed up.

  2. Mark says:

    Speaking of IPCC being conservative, did ya’ll catch this July 2011 paper exploring plausible upper bounds of GHG emissions in 2100?

    Sanderson, et al; “The response of the climate system to very
    high greenhouse gas emission scenarios”, Environmental Research Letters, Vol 6, July 5 2011; http://nldr.library.ucar.edu/views/?collId=collections&itemId=OSGC-000-000-003-778

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    I sense the clammy hand of Roger Pielke, Jr., who somehow wormed his way into that IPCC committee. This branch of research has always been a good opportunity for the oil company flacks, since specific attribution is difficult, and sequences erratic.

    The trend for extreme weather is up, of course- way up- but the distributions give them an opening.

    Pielke gets a good spanking every time he dares to show up on Real Climate, though he’s one of Revkin’s heroes on Dot Earth.

    Scientists need to speak out more forcefully against political scientists masquerading as well meaning report contributors. Pielke, McIntyre, and others- such as timber industry employees on the forestry committees- need to be vetted, and rejected from providing input when their qualifications and body of work are found wanting. This is the problem as much as IPCC’s conservative tendencies.

  4. Andy Revkin says:

    Sheesh, guys. You have only Michael Oppenheimer and Chris Field to blame for having Pielke Jr. in the mix. If you don’t trust their judgment on selecting reviewers, how can you trust their judgment on the science itself? Then again, they were probably going on his publication record in the peer-reviewed lit on disaster losses, climate etc — http://j.mp/RPjrDisasPubs — rather than his policy preferences.

    • Joe Romm says:

      This may be the single most head-exploding and revisionist thing you have ever written.

      You used your powerful position as the top climate reporter for the paper of record to trumpet Pielke’s misinformation — including his false smear of Al Gore — for years. And that in spite of the fact that he has probably been debunked by the science blogosphere (and leading U.S. climatologists from Caldeira to Trenberth) more than any other academic (as I explain at length here). He trashes the reputation of any scientist who even suggests that there is the tiniest link whatsoever between climate change and extreme weather — even though he himself stated such a link exists: “Clearly since 1970 climate change (i.e., defined as by the IPCC to include all sources of change) has shaped the disaster loss record.”

      You then used your almost as powerful position as the top climate blogger for the Times to make Pielke’s involvement a litmus test for Oppenheimer and Field (see your post here and my rebuttal here).

      And still you write “You have only Michael Oppenheimer and Chris Field to blame for having Pielke Jr. in the mix. If you don’t trust their judgment on selecting reviewers, how can you trust their judgment on the science itself??

      It is absurd to compare scientific judgment with personal judgment. It is amazing a science reporter could suggest such a thing. That is a head-exploding swipe at Oppenheimer and Field for bending over backwards to appease the likes of you.

      Posts from around the science blogosphere debunking Pielke:

      • Interesting Times says:

        Don’t forget the extended debunking of Pielke by Skeptical Science:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/pielke-sr-sks-dialogue-final-summary.html

      • Mark says:

        Joe, may I respectfully suggest the Andy Revkin sidebar be split out to a separate post? I’d like to forward a link to this one, and IMO, the ignorati among my friends and family will be looking for reasons to (other than their own fear) to turn away from the great summary of science in this piece. The bit with Andy will strike them as “just more culture war” and they are too likely to go back to cable TV. Thanks for an outstanding scary science summary.

      • prokaryotes says:

        Seriously! Why is this guy still working at the NYT?

      • John Wilson says:

        @Revkin – Caught this exchange via your post. Seems Romm has a point that you aren’t quite in a position to distance yourself from Pielke’s involvement simply by saying, “You have only Michael Oppenheimer and Chris Field to blame for having Pielke Jr. in the mix.” But I read that comment as more snarky than distancing yourself, so my head isn’t quite exploding.

        • Joe Romm says:

          Thanks for that link. I’m glad your head is still in one piece. Revkin’s analogy to Muller makes no sense. It is news when a Koch-funded skeptic finds warming on the high end. It isn’t news that the IPCC releases a watered down report.

      • Timeslayer says:

        Very well said Joe.

        For the record, I was explaining why Revkin is a terrible reporter at least as early as February of 2009, as shown in my comment on this David Roberts Grist post (it seems that Roberts still thought highly of Revkin at this point). – http://www.grist.org/article/In-the-red#c146082

        TS

    • John McCormick says:

      Andy, you finally know who you are.

    • “If you don’t trust their judgment on selecting reviewers, how can you trust their judgment on the science itself??”

      Let’s see. The inevitable metaphysical problem of knowing a person’s motives and the need to have as broad of a base as possible for political reasons vs. evaluation of the evidence of physical processes.

      I hope you’re wishing you hadn’t used quite so much hyperbole.

  5. Great words Joe. You express the reason that so many of us long ago abandoned the NYTimes searching for a wise and sensible climate forum.

    Glad to be here.

  6. Jessen says:

    If you want another largely unenlightening head exploder, take a gander at this exchange between Eileen Claussen and Robert Bryce, from the PBS Newshour:

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/july-dec11/solyndra_11-17.html

  7. Dear Joe, you know very well that the IPCC bases its findings on science, not on opinion polls of US Americans. Over the past week, while participating in the IPCC session in Kampala, I’ve been amazed to read the various opinions of ‘experts’ who weren’t involved in the drafting process or even as a reviewer. While the summary of the report was still being discussed and had not yet been released (this will be done today at 1.30 pm local time in Kampala), these ‘experts’, either on their own accord or prompted by the media, chose to misrepresent both the report’s findings and the process by which the IPCC arrived at these findings.

    I have been impressed with the rigour with which my co-authors have assessed the climate science of both observations and projections of extreme weather and climate events. I am also impressed with the solid discussions that took place among governments and between governments and authors this week. The governments were keen to ensure an unbiased interpretation and presentation of the findings of the climate scientists, as well as those stemming from the assessment of experiences of disaster risk management at local, national and global levels, and of the opportunities to manage future climate extremes and reduce vulnerability.

    [JR: Note to readers. This is a revised comment by Klein (from an earlier draft that some have posted elsewhere).]

  8. Peter Mizla says:

    Some angst here about Revkin- warranted as usual.

    The IPCC has learned nothing since their prediction of an ice free arctic in late summer- ‘sometime in the 2060s’……

    The report out today at noon on the connection of extreme weather and climate change will say nothing new really. In 10 years when these weather anomalies increase, will they still feed us the same dry ‘very likely’ likely’ possible scenarios for climate occurrences?

    Dr. Hansen released a new paper on weather extremes yesterday- from the WAPO
    he warns the ‘climate dice’ as loaded even more then before

    Andrew Freeman
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/nasa-scientist-hansen-warns-climate-dice-already-loaded-for-more-extreme-weather/2011/11/16/gIQAm5W2UN_blog.html

    • Colorado Bob says:

      PM -
      Hansen is quoted at length in the Sydney Morning Harold.
      Global warming adds to economic woes

      Summer mean temperatures, including data for 2011, have risen inexorably above the 1951-1980 average, unpublished research by NASA’s James Hansen shows.

      Hansen defined extremely hot summers as those exceeding three standard deviations from the average 1951-1980 climate.

      One standard deviation captures about two thirds of observations compared with the seasonal summer average, and three standard deviations nearly 99.9 per cent.

      In other words, a summer more than three standard deviations from the average should barely ever happen.

      Yet they are occurring, in Europe in 2003, in eastern Europe in 2007, Russia and the Middle East in 2010 and Texas in early 2011.

      The argument is that such increasing frequency can’t be explained only by natural variation in the weather.

      And the problem is growing, with Hansen’s research showing average summer temperatures globally are up by 1 standard deviation since 2001 compared with 1951-1961 in a steadily rising trend.

      He forecasts by 2050, assuming present trends of growth in fossil fuel carbon emissions, “extremely hot” summers in 1951-1980 terms would become the norm.

      Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/world-business/global-warming-adds-to-economic-woes-20111117-1nl32.html#ixzz1e3f4NQpJ

  9. Raul M. says:

    Modeling human behavior to the realm of suggesting mitigating and adaptive behavior to the consequences of collective behaviors.
    Or what we want to what we get.
    There is still a chance that people will come to see reason for change.

  10. Joan Savage says:

    Let’s look more at Joe Romm’s comment,

    “Unfortunately, the IPCC continues to conflate uncertainty in future emissions of greenhouse gases with uncertainty in the climate’s sensitivity to those emissions.”

    1) There is no single world climate, so Joe’s comment has to be shorthand for how sensitive are the regional climates of the world.
    The high-altitude and polar climates were early to show effects, initially observed in upward creep of frost-free zones in mountains and loss of permafrost in the Arctic. More recently, we have been seeing more extreme action nearer the equator, as warmer ocean water visibly affects more regional climates. The subtle changes may slip from notice but extreme weather does capture attention, and extreme weather has reached the mid-latitudes.
    I’m alluding to the post’s lead about how a majority of the US population either strongly agrees or somewhat agrees to associating regional extreme weather with global change.

    2) Due to the vast storage of heat in the ocean, weather disasters could keep coming for years, even if humans deploy all capabilities to change our ways. It is therefore inadequate to peg regional climate sensitivity in the future only to future emissions; future extreme weather is also a product of cumulative previous emissions.

    To that extent, the Brouwer (Pielke Jr) reference on adaptation to disaster, as supplied by Andy Revkin, has some relevance.

    In my opinion it is a shame to only prepare to be a victim, without acknowledging and seizing the options left to us to limit the magnitude, and horrors, of what has been already set in motion.

    • I find that sentence in the original post to be outstanding, clear, and worthy of emphasis.

      With regard to your point #1, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. Seems like mincing words.

      With regard to your point #2, it appears you may be falling into the very trap Joe is warning about.

      Unceratunties related to effects of heat storage of heat due to emissions to date are part of climate uncertainties, even as these impact future temperatures.

      Uncertainties related to different future emissions levels are quite distinct, both conceptually, and in modeling.

      Existing storage is locked in, even if delayed in effect. Future emissions are not locked in, yet.

      So I have to agree with Joe that it is a point of core accuracy to keep these separate in summary reporting.

      • Joan Savage says:

        Ok, I’ll try to be clearer (good exercise).

        1) Sensitivity to climate forcing has a spatial component and a time component. It is not uniform across the planet. In the draft IPCC extreme weather report, Figures SPM.4A and SPM.4B illustrate the spatial and time sequence variation in responses among regions. Lumping all sensitivity together would hide the gradient. This is important because delayers don’t see the urgency to act until their local climate becomes “sensitive.”

        2)Future climate sensitivity is not separable from prior forcing. [I think I was pretty much in line with what Joe teaches, here.]

        Delayers underestimate the urgency to brake now; they are assuming the equivalent of an emergency first aid kit will be enough to take care of people after a collision. Pielke Jr’s paper was about the need for a first aid kit, and ignored the need for hitting the brakes.

      • Kevin,

        You and Joe are quite correct. Future emissions are subject to our choices, and are not uncertain in the same way as are physical systems. Unfortunately, the way the IPCC presented this information in their 2007 analyses was too clever by half. Doing all these alternative baselines is interested methodologically but it just confuses most folks, and it was a grave error. There needs to be a “current trends continued case” against which everything else is measured, otherwise it just muddies the waters. And that’s what happened.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    IPCC: Climate impact risk set to increase
    Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina, August 2005 (Image: Getty Images/NOAA) There has been uncertainty over the link between extreme weather events and climate change
    Continue reading the main story
    Related Stories

    Flood risk ‘higher with warming’
    Review backs climate panel report
    Scientists to review climate body

    The risk from extreme weather events is likely to increase if the world continues to warm, say scientists. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15745408

  12. Raul M. says:

    My hydroponics is still doing and no weeding yet.
    But, agreeing from a friend in Ga. That her brocille heads were already showing, I figured that I better up the fertilizer dose in the water. I had been starving my plants with such a small amount of fertilizer in the water. But, hers had some horse manure in the mix so har’s would have the weeds coming up in the garden.
    Anyway the way to learn hydroponics without really studying it and/or paying for the preset systems is to experiment with it and it being such a simple way of gardening, did I mention I haven’t had to do any weeding or hauling of compost or expertly mixing the soil…

    • Mark says:

      I fantasize about a hydroponic farm based intentional community and climate refuge in Nova Scotia… up on the cliffs above sea level rise but close enough to the sea to pump ocean water through a heat exchanger to keep the plants happy from the ever-warmer frosts as well as the unprecedented heat waves…. so help me out with my fantasy please.

      What means have you built into your greenhouse for repelling starving mobs? If the government shows up to seize your operation for the good of everybody, what is your backup plan?

      • Raul M. says:

        Even a thief has value for the theif has to have something to steal and the grower knows that even the bible says that from the edges is good.

      • Raul M. says:

        Evolution points to efficiency in natural systems over time.
        By adapting to change it becomes important to mitigate for adverse reactions to the adaptive change.
        Even for smart people it takes time to make the changes and to mitigate with additional changes.
        Good luck in working with adaptation ,mitigation ,and adaptation ,mitigation…

  13. Spike says:

    “Unfortunately, the IPCC continues to conflate uncertainty in future emissions of greenhouse gases with uncertainty in the climate’s sensitivity to those emissions. This means they present a very large range of possible overall impacts — and that allows the deniers to trumpet the low range with their powerful fossil-fuel-funded megaphone and induces the media to provide “balance” in their stories between the mid-range and the low range.”

    Already happening in the UK where the usual suspects are busy going round stirring up apathy.

  14. BA says:

    I think to get people and policy makers to sit up and take notice we need to think and talk a lot more about “black swan” events (unlikely but possible). I think it is human nature to look at the date 2090 or even 2060 and think “I’ll be dead,” or “something will be done before then,” but when you start wondering about what might be unstable in the system and about to take off on its own with all kinds of seen and unforeseen consequences—then you start to sweat. That is why when I hear scientist say of a massive methane release, “I don’t see how that could happen,” or “my back of the envelope calculations…” I hear “I hope that doesn’t happen.” I hope it doesn’t happen too but I have noticed an offal lot that has happened already that the science did not think would happen so soon. And one never hears of Hanson’s Venus prediction in the corporate media. No surprise there.

    • Mike Roddy says:

      I agree, BA. The media and even some researchers are now afraid of the “alarmist” tag, just as nobody now wants to be called a “liberal”. This has been achieved by repeated grimacing and frothing at the mouth when these words are uttered by corporate TV reporters.

  15. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Joan, sorry but your point 1 is wrong. There is only one climate system in the same way that there is only one Earth, one biosphere etc – let’s just call it Earth but she functions as an open system.

    One of the major reasons that the rate of change of the warming and its effects have outrun all the predictions is that most of our scientists have been trying to predict the whole from projections of what they consider to be separate parts – guaranteed to get you the wrong answers!

    There are no separate or independent parts, only interdependent parts. Reductionism is partly to blame for getting us into this mess, and it certainly isn’t going to get us out. Time to put it away, ME

    • Joan Savage says:

      Merrelyn,

      Grant me that the altered Arctic has not yet merged itself with an altered mid-continental climate. Inter-related, sure; homogenized, not.

      In the draft IPCC extreme weather summary, please take a look at the map-graphs of projected changes in extreme temperature and precipitation. The two map-graphs illustrate what I mean about spatial variation.

      As an ecologist and biologist, I assure you that environmental scientists often ache to have enough data and analytical tools to make valid inferences and conclusions about a bigger picture.

      Being part of a “whole” is a deeply nested concept.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Joan, I fail to see how you could read an argument for homogeneity into my comment. My point is very simple and illustrated by the great conveyors – look at how the jet stream managed to burn Russia and flood Pakistan with just one kink. And the origins of that anomaly- far away!

        As an ecologist you could be more careful with your words. Saying “there is no single world climate” can be interpreted as simple trivia or as an endorsement of the normal practice of treating the planet as a collection of unrelated parts which can be studied in isolation, a practice which has left us extremely vulnerable to ‘unknown unknowns’, ME

        • Joan Savage says:

          It seems you’ve digressed on your opinion about reductionists and haven’t fully received what I was writing about.

          Would you take a look at the re-write I did for Kevin Matthews on November 18? I managed to be somewhat clearer about the impact of regional climates changing at different rates and that this phenomenon has implications for how people may react.

          And, I am always aware that everyone who posts comments on CP is a human being with a personal history and feelings. I try to write with that in mind and not reduce people I am addressing to mere categories. I think you are quite mistaken about who I am. If I wrote unclearly, this is a lesson for me, but I still have hope you will eventually come to see what I found so interesting in the IPCC extreme weather maps.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            Joan, it was you who described yourself as “an ecologist and biologist”. Yes, the maps are fascinating but my point about your language and studying parts out of context (reductionism, lack of systems thinking) stands, ME

          • Joan Savage says:

            Perhaps your thinking about me is somewhat reductionist. You’ve decided what you think I am, and consequently you may have missed out on a conversation about some options to better estimate climate sensitivity.

            This has honed my thoughts about that topic, and for that, I thank you.

  16. J. A. Laswick says:

    I think we do a serious disservice by couching almost all temperature predictions in terms of what to expect in eighty years. The average reader is immediately permitted to relax, even if she/he genuinely fears the probable effects on a future generation.

    The delay in acting has already tragically–probably fatally–exacerbated the built-in and ongoing accumulation of CO2 and other factors. And there is zero chance of lowering the trajectory to a meaningful degree except after global reaction to a panic-inducing series of events.

    • Calamity Jean says:

      Absolutely! The politicians and the polluters need to keep hearing about dire consequences that will happen within the next five to fifteen years. Anything beyond that is too far off for them to care about.

  17. mulp says:

    On the topic point in the headline:

    I think the problem is the public sees nothing they can do to “solve” the problem.

    When voting, they must chose between two candidates, one that predicts you will be unemployed and living in a shanty town with outdoor toilets if you elect the guy who says we must act to limit the harm from AGW, and the one who will save the planet for the whales which be the only thing left alive when everyone starves because cap and trade will destroy civilization.

    What are needed are some TV ads that are so bizarre they get lots of media play in political shows that point to a voters guide.

    I’m thinking of perhaps the tone of some ads running this season that are dark and foreboding with clips of Obama and others, then switch to a brighter tone – one I think is a Ron Paul ad run by a superPac.

    How about pictures of floods, tornadoes, drought, and what the hell, tsunami just to get the conservatives to run it to attack it, with clips of Western governors praying for relief, switching to clips of Arnold and Ross Perot et al touting their green energy projects, and the voice over going from we are dooming our future to be we can make a better future and create jobs, but we need to have a Congress that acts. Learn who you can vote for who will create jobs, and save the future, at the green voter guide dot com.

    Set up a Grover Norquist like pledge that candidates are pressured to sign, call it the “Create green jobs and save the future and restore the American Dream” pledge.

    Bring back the Dirty Dozen with a vengeance with an ad that is over the top in blaming some politicians for some disasters by [mis]quoting them on climate change. Quotes taken out of context as is now the rule with attacks on Obama – like the current “Obama says you are lazy” attack. Again, just running the ad once, or better yet being turned down by networks or stations will probable get it talked about on Rush Limbaugh and Hannity enough so people look for it on youtube.