Groundhog Decade: We’re Stuck In A Movie Where It’s Always the Hottest Decade On Record

Somewhere on a Hollywood movie set for Groundhog Day, Part 2: Bill Murray wakes up to find he’s just lived through the hottest decade on record, just as he did in the 1990s, just as he did in the 1980s. And he keeps waking up in the hottest decade on record, until he gains the kind of maturity and wisdom that can only come from doing the same damn thing over and over and over again with no change in the result. Ah, if only life were like a movie.

Somewhere in PA: Punxsutawney Phil saw the shadow of unrestricted fossil-fuel pollution from Homo “sapiens” sapiens today. That means global warming for another six thousand weeks — and then some (see NOAA: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe).

If we keep listening to the siren song of delay, delay, delay from the anti-science, pro-pollution crowd and their enablers, then eventually people aren’t going to go through this elaborate charade of wondering whether some large rodent in Pennsylvania can predict the weather — the forecast will always be the same, “bloody hot”:

And, as noted, those scientific projections are simply business-as-usual warming.

Figure 7.

Projections of global warming relative to pre-industrial for the A1FI emissions scenario” — the one we’re currently on. “Dark shading shows the mean ±1 s.d. [standard deviation] for the tunings to 19 AR4 GCMs [IPCC Fourth Assessment General Circulation Models] and the light shading shows the change in the uncertainty range when … climate-carbon-cycle feedbacks … are included.”

Under the plausible worst-case scenario of high emissions, high carbon-cycle feedbacks, marmota monax and homo “sapiens” experience much worse by mid-century (see UK Met Office: Catastrophic climate change, 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 27°F in the Arctic, could happen in 50 years, but “we do have time to stop it if we cut greenhouse gas emissions soon”):

If we get anywhere near that outcome, I seriously doubt anybody is going to care about what Punxsutawney Phil thinks about whether it’s going to be an early spring or not.

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16 Responses to Groundhog Decade: We’re Stuck In A Movie Where It’s Always the Hottest Decade On Record

  1. Artful Dodger says:

    “What if there were no tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences, there would be no hangovers. We could burn as much fossil fuel as we wanted!”
    — Gus

  2. I wish Phil was as smart as Joe…

  3. Artful Dodger says:

    Meanwhile, Huffpo wonders “if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow or the glaringly obvious atmospheric greenhouse effect.”

  4. CW says:

    Yeah, a repetitive feel to it for sure but, unlike the “Groundhog Day” movie, it’s more of a worsening spiral than endlessly repeating cycle.

    That’s by the way how I’d describe our politics too. And to me the two are highly related. So much so that I wonder if we can meaningfully address the climate crisis without meaningfully addressing the democracy crisis.

    I suppose it’s possible technologies break through and save us to a significant, even very significant degree. To the extent that this dethrones big fossil and it’s grip on politics, a tech change might even help address the democratic crisis.

    But more likely, we’re going to have to somehow tackle the democratic crisis at the same time. Although, to read one prominent international activist, ‘Democracy itself is the solution to the climate crisis‘.

  5. Joe Romm says:

    That is a better one!

  6. Jack Burton says:

    “We do have time to stop it IF we cut emissions soon”. Maybe, but there is not the slightest shred of evidence that we are cutting emissions, or that we intend to. On the contrary, look at the major nations and corporations plans going forward. New clean coal power plants, new gas fired power plants, a new pipeline and vast expansion of tar sands mining, arctic ocean oil drilling, development of new deep water finds in a number of oceans, vast expansion of motorways to suit increased car use in China, India, Russia, Brazil etc. etc.
    One could continue, but it is clear enough. The political and corporate powers plan to increase fossil fuel development and use as fast as possible. I challenge anyone to dispute this fact.
    Why do we continue to soft peddle every scientific study with the old saw “It can all be handled IF we reduce emissions”???
    We are demonstrably NOT going to reduce emissions unless the world economy collapses or war destroys nations economic output. But are possible, but hardly the logical choice.
    The science is clear, but it is swamped by social expectations of cheap fuel and an advertizing industry that spend billions trying to fuel a mad race to consume.
    My verdict? Abject disaster! We already see the feed backs we already experience increasing weather extreme disasters.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You see, Jack, the multitude of clear evidence that the ruling elites are utterly deranged, or that they are actively working to ensure that the catastrophe does happen. Which do you think it is?

  8. Daniel Coffey says:

    Joe: Good thoughts.

    I just found your book “Straight Up” in the library and enjoyed the read. It had the same fire this piece expresses, the same commitment to the pragmatic reality of what must be done, and did not seem to truck slow-walk half-measures amounting to nothing which seems too attractive to the current crop of environmental leaders.

    Good message to them on delay, and I hope the environmental community is listening.

    Here”s a radical idea I’ve offered numerous times. Let’s support, not obstruct, sue, delay, and complain about the large-scale solar and wind folks who are trying to get ahead of the wave before it crashes over us all. Time for the folks to stop protesting and start showing up in SUPPORT of projects. Sierra Club, are you listening? Call off the obstructionists in your chapters, along with the locals who align themselves with “solar-on-rooftop is all we need,” to get a clue and do the right thing.

    It is time now to get serious and cut the tape, or the status quo will take all the habitat, views and good stuff away forever. That is the price of triage choices. Let’s be wise, but more importantly timely.

  9. ozajh says:

    Looking at that graph I can’t help thinking about 2 Science Fiction series by Niven and Pournelle where (while only specifically mentioned in passing) heat output from a technologically advanced civilisation is a major underlying plot point.

    In the Ringworld series mention is made of the Puppeteers having to move their planets away from their sun because of the heat their civilisation is producing.

    In the first book of the Mote series mention is made of the tremendous energy output on Mote Prime, easily detectable from space as non-natural.

    In fact, the basic problem of the Moties offers a cautionary perspective on what that 2090 map projection would actually MEAN for human civilisation if it came to pass . . .

  10. Paul Klinkman says:

    If you want to protest for a small scale solar prototype — I’m trying to drive down the cost of retrofitting buildings with solar heat with active heat storage — I’m out at the site every day, often alone, making more long-range progress than anyone else. Yes you can come with a sign for support, although only about ten people will see you — it’s the back of a meal site, in a synagogue in Warwick. If it’s not a silent vigil we’ll chat, or you can hand the bolts up to me as needed.

  11. Paul Klinkman says:

    16 degrees Celsius now? The scientific idea of positive runaway feedback is for real?

    And what would the tornadoes look like if we hit 16 degrees Celsius? How big and frequent would the hurricanes get, with what kind of storm surge? To what standards would we have to build our skyscrapers so that they don’t flop like dominoes? Where’s the high water mark? What percentage of the native trees would still be alive? Then how big would the megafires be? What percentage of the earth’s species would still be alive in the wild?

    Slavery ended in part because one man, John Woolman, was having bad dreams. In one nightmare, people were in vast suffering, and one of them asked, “Who is your king?” “King Jesus,” I replied. “Then your King Jesus must be a cruel tyrant indeed!”

    Woolman was a literate storekeeper. A customer came in and asked Woolman to write him a bill of sale for a slave. Woolman couldn’t bring himself to write the document and sent the customer elsewhere. Then Woolman sold off his store, learned to be a tailor so that he could both support himself and travel, and he spent the rest of his life gently persuading others that slavery was immoral.

    That’s something we need now.

  12. Ozonator says:

    I believe NOVA is already doing a “Groundhog Day, Part 2”. Bill Murray learns to be a chemical engineer to pay for the medical care of a child with MCS, wife with chronic fatigue, and a surviving parent with Alzheimer’s disease. Bill gets off meds C2C’s Noory warns him about with a good support system with his NRA buddies in a bunker where the temperature is constant.

  13. Spike says:

    In the UK we have the same problem with some countryside organisations opposing wind farms, despite the UK’s huge wind resource and the likely severe impact of climate change on the UK countryside and its people.

    This then gets latched onto by faux guardians of the countryside in government and elsewhere who seem less troubled by new motorways or high speed rail, the latter now threatening multiple UK wildlife sites–the-hidden-cost-to-britains-wildlife-8478609.html

    In most instances it boils down to corporate profits, with wind farms being impermissible because they impact on fossil fuel interests – whilst new airports and so on are just fine. I feel ashamed of how utterly corrupt my country is become.

  14. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Will the humidity get worse too? Human comfort and survival, depends upon the wet bulb temperature. Even though droughts will get worse, rainfall increases in a warming world. How goes humidity?

  15. Spike says:

    According to this paper humidity has increased due to anthropogenic climate change although relative humidity has remained approximately constant. i think it is the relative humidity that would affect wet bulb temperature, but perhaps someone more knowledgeable about the science would clarify that.

  16. Spike says:

    This page gives some useful information on the effects of heat and humidity on humans: