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“In Coverage of Extreme Weather, Media Downplay Climate Change” — Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting

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"“In Coverage of Extreme Weather, Media Downplay Climate Change” — Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting"

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By Neil deMause, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, the independent national media watch group

The Fires This Time

In coverage of extreme weather, media downplay climate change

On April 14, a massive storm swept down out of the Rocky Mountains into the Midwest and South, spawning more than 150 tornadoes that killed 43 people across 16 states (Capital Weather Gang, 4/18/11). It was one of the largest weather catastrophes in United States history—but was soon upstaged by an even larger storm, the 2011 Super Outbreak that spread more than 300 tornadoes across 14 states from April 25 to 28 (including an all-time one-day record of 188 twisters on April 27), killing 339 people, including 41 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (CNN, 5/1/11).

Ensuing weeks saw Texas wildfires that had been burning since December expand to consume more than 3 million acres (Texas Forest Service, 6/28/11; CNN, 4/25/11), plus record flooding along the Mississippi River, which couldn’t contain the water from April’s storms on top of the spring snowmelt. On May 22, a super-strong F5 tornado killed 153 people as it flattened a large part of Joplin, Missouri (National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, 5/22/11) ; in the first two weeks of June, a heat wave broke temperature records in multiple states, and the Wallow fire became the largest in Arizona state history (Washington Post, 6/14/11).

It was an unprecedented string of severe weather: By mid-June, more than 1,000 tornadoes had killed 536 people (NOAA, 6/13/11), nearly as many deaths as in the entire preceding decade. And it was only natural to ask: Were we seeing the effects of climate change?

Most scientists would say yes, or at least “probably.” The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change, a global scientific body that has been a target of conservatives despite a record of soft-pedaling its findings to avoid controversy (Extra!, 7/8/07), warned on February 2, 2007, “It is very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent.” (In science-speak, “very likely” refers to a certainty of greater than 90 percent, and is as near as you get to a definitive conclusion.) Other forecasts (e.g., Environment America, 9/8/10) have projected that wet regions will receive record rainfall thanks to increasing evaporation, while dry ones get record drought, as climate patterns shift to accommodate the new normal.

Yet despite these dire predictions, U.S. media were hesitant to investigate the links between climate change and this spring’s extreme weather. Much coverage settled for the cheap irony of contrasting extreme phenomena, as when NBC’s Saturday Today show meteorologist Bill Karins (6/11/11) quipped:

Feast or famine’s been the rule this spring. The northern half of the country, we’ve dealt with the heavy rain, the record snow pack that’s now melting in the northern Rockies. That’s causing the flooding. The southern half of the country, you would love some of that rain.

Even news reports that probed deeper into the causes of the spring’s extreme weather, though, often stopped short of looking at climate factors. A Chicago Tribune story (4/29/11) headlined, “Why April Record for Twisters? Experts Call It Random, Say Nature Varies,” noted that “some meteorologists” blame the periodic weather pattern known as La Niña, but then cited other scientists as saying the tornado outbreak was just random variation, with University of Illinois meteorologist Bob Rauber saying, “Global warming is occurring, but this is not a manifestation of it.”

On the CBS Evening News (6/9/11), meanwhile, John Blackstone noted, “Perhaps the biggest weather troublemaker has been in the Gulf of Mexico, where sea surface temperatures have been almost 2 degrees [Fahrenheit] above average. That warm, moist Gulf air meeting the powerful jet stream created the string of tornadoes that killed 525 people.” Yet, asked by anchor Scott Pelley why the Gulf of Mexico is hotter than usual, Blackstone replied only: “Well, it’s related to the drought in the South—in the South-Southwest, with little clouds, lots of sunshine, the waters warming up and those warm waters could add energy to this hurricane season as well.”

But while La Niña is a natural cyclical variation, the warming Gulf is not—at the very least, it’s exacerbated by the global warming trend, which has pumped at least four times the heat energy into the oceans that it has into the atmosphere (NPR, 3/19/08). As National Center for Atmos-pheric Research climatologist Kevin Tren-berth explained to Extra!, the air over oceans now averages 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer and 4 percent wetter than it was before 1970. “So there is more warm moist air from the Gulf flowing into all spring storms that travel across the U.S. That destabilizes the air, provides fuel for thunderstorms and converts some thunderstorms into supercell storms, which in turn provide the environment for tornadoes to form.”

The easiest connection for most reporters to make was with heat waves, probably because they match best with the popular image of “global warming.” “Intense hot conditions will increase dramatically over the next 30 years,” ABC News’ Jim Avila (6/8/11) reported after June’s record-setting heat wave. “Climatologists say it’s clear: Global warming is beginning to show itself in plain sight.”

For other extreme weather events, though, climate change only merited occasional mention. The wildfires that raged out of control across the Southwest in May and June were mostly covered as an unexpected natural disaster, without much thought of causes; in one exception, the Arizona Republic (6/12/11) fixed the blame squarely on the state having too many trees—a charge also brought up by the New York Times (6/11/11), which reported that, among other things, “Some [residents and experts] complained that it was environmentalists who had caused the forests to become tinderboxes by preventing the thinning of trees as they sought to protect wildlife.”

This common conservative claim, Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm noted (6/12/11), was refuted in a 2006 paper (Science, 8/16/06) that found that fires were increasing the most at higher elevations, where forest restoration is less of an issue, but where warmer temperatures have a huge impact by melting winter snows earlier and increasing summer drought.

In fact, scientists have long predicted that one result of climate change would be a dramatic increase in Western wildfires, as Pete Spotts of the Christian Science Monitor explained in a rare article making such connections (6/9/11). The National Academy of Sciences projected (7/16/10) that a 1-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures—just half the best-case scenario in most climate models—could more than triple the acreage burned by wildfires in the U.S. West. Washington Post blogger Jason Samenow (6/14/11) reported on this study, but it went unmentioned in the newspaper’s wildfire coverage.

Similarly, a NASA wildfire model released last year (10/27/10) projected that climate change would lead to an increase of fires in the U.S. West of between 30 and 60 percent by 2100. “I want you to think a little bit of fire as a metaphor for the many things that climate change holds for us,” NASA earth sciences director Peter Hildebrand told a conference in Colorado in early April—though the only reporter to note this statement was environmental journalist Brendon Bosworth on his self-titled blog (4/8/11).

As for tornadoes, news coverage was openly dismissive of their connection to climate change. A New York Times Q & A following the Joplin tornado (5/25/11) asked: “Can the intensity of this year’s tornadoes be blamed on climate change?” and answered “Probably not. Over all, the number of violent tornadoes has been declining in the United States, even as temperatures have increased.”

Indeed, while the number of reported tornadoes has steadily risen in recent years, prior to this year the number of strong tornadoes (category F4 or F5) had not, leading most scientists to conclude that the rising totals for weak storms are merely a result of more thorough reporting, thanks to sprawling development in tornado-prone regions that has put more people within sighting distance. And because the mechanics of tornado generation are poorly understood—and they depend on vertical temperature differential, so a warming lower atmosphere would predict more tornadoes, but a warming upper atmosphere would tend to reduce them—most scientists say that stronger and more frequent tornadoes can’t be definitively linked to climate.

Still, Trenberth told the blog Think Progress (4/29/11) that it’s “irresponsible” not to mention climate change in tornado coverage. “The basic driver of thunderstorms is the instability in the atmosphere: warm moist air at low levels with drier air aloft,” he told the site. “With global warming, the low-level air is warm and moister and there is more energy available to fuel all of these storms.”

Most reporters, though, chose to stick to the narrower question of whether these particular tornadoes were caused by climate change—which, given all the factors involved to create any particular storm, is impossible to answer, except in the sense in which all weather today is the product of a warmed climate.

“Contributing to the thrashing were the La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean, unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the increase of moisture in the atmosphere caused by the warming climate,” wrote the Washington Post (6/15/11) on the spring’s tornadoes, fires and floods. The piece cited National Oceanographic and Atmo-spheric Administration climate director Thomas Karl as “caution[ing] against focusing on any single cause for the unusual chain of events,” quoting him as saying that “clearly these things interconnect.”

Karl also featured prominently in an article by the New York Times’ John Broder (6/15/11) that reported, “Government scientists said Wednesday that the frequency of extreme weather has increased over the past two decades, in part as a result of global warming,” but quickly added that scientists “were careful not to blame humans for this year’s rash of deadly events.” Broder’s only evidence: Karl’s statement that “since 1980, indeed, extreme climatological and meteorological events have increased. But in the early part of the 20th century, there was also a tendency for more extreme events followed by a quiet couple of decades.”

The story’s headline: “Scientists See More Deadly Weather, but Dispute the Cause.” (Broder later apologized to Romm—Climate Progress, 6/18/11—for what he called a “crappy headline.”)

In fact, though, Karl had previously made clear that climate change would result in more extreme weather. “How climate change will be felt by you and impact your neighbors is probably going to be through extreme weather and climate events,” he told EarthSky (3/15/10). “We may be fine for many years, and all of a sudden, one particular season, one particular year, the extremes are far worse than we’ve ever seen before.”

In many ways, articles like Broder’s parallel the decades-long public debate over carcinogens: It’s just as difficult to say whether any one person’s cancer was caused by pollutants as whether one weather event was caused by climate change. And in both cases, statistical studies have a literally fatal drawback: By the time you’ve gathered enough data, it’s too late to prevent the consequences.

Scientists, then, may conclude that it’s “too soon to tell” exactly how climate change affects tornadoes and other severe weather, but that’s not the same as saying it has no effect. As Trenberth tells Extra! of the spring’s string of catastrophes: “Much of what goes on is natural variability and weather. But there is a component from human influences through global warming. While it may be modest, it is real and significant.”

As noted, the role of climate change in the spring’s severe weather wasn’t entirely ignored. The Christian Science Monitor (6/9/11), in its report on Arizona wildfires that had “blackened an area half the size of Rhode Island,” called them “the latest poster child for what some scientists see as a long-term trend toward larger, longer-lived wildfires in the American West,” noting that “climate change appears to be an important contributor.”

Urgency was left to op-ed pages: Climate activist Bill McKibben wrote a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post (5/23/11) that sarcastically suggested: “It’s very important to stay calm. If you got upset about any of this, you might forget how important it is not to disrupt the record profits of our fossil fuel companies.” Environmental writer Chip Ward wrote an opinion piece on CBS News.com (6/16/11): “Global warming, global weirding, climate change—whatever you prefer to call it—is not just happening in some distant, melting Arctic land out of a storybook. It is not just burning up far-away Russia. It’s here now.” (CBS News’ television programs, meanwhile, never once mentioned climate change in their coverage of the spring’s wildfires.)

One example of how to cover the story differently came from the Edmonton Journal (5/17/11), where columnist Graham Thomson wrote:

No scientist can guarantee that any of these events are caused by human-induced climate change. Climate change is all about trends.

However, the trends are consistent: The atmosphere is warming, the climate is changing and we are largely responsible through our burning of fossil fuels.

What scientists can tell us is that as the climate warms we’ll experience more extreme weather events leading to floods, droughts, forest fires and crop failures. In other words, it’s what we’re seeing now.

Even Thomson, though, didn’t try to suggest that we change our behavior to prevent extreme weather from becoming the norm.

Similarly, when the New York Times editorial page weighed in on what can be done about climate change (6/1/11), it was to praise the city of Chicago for building more rooftop gardens and adding air conditioning to classrooms as part of “long-term preparations for a warmer, stormier climate.” Never mind that the electricity needed to power air conditioners is a major contributor of carbon emissions, or that air conditioning in schools is unlikely to do much to stem the additional 166 to 2,217 annual deaths that researchers Roger Peng and Francesca Domenici estimate Chicago will suffer by the end of the century as the result of climate change (Environmental Health Perspectives, 5/11).

And then there was the counsel given by Nightline anchor Bill Weir (4/26/11), who bent over backwards to avoid definitive conclusions on the causes of the deadly weather:

After months of epic droughts and floods, blizzards and heat waves, some are seeing proof of warnings past, while others refuse to believe that man could ever wreck God’s planet. But neither side can deny that we are having one hellacious spring.

He informed viewers that a NASA scientist says blaming individual weather events on climate change is “a leap too far,” then signed off with this advice: “In the near term, the best you can do is get a weather radio and try to stay dry.”

SIDEBAR: Don’t Need a Weather Channel to Know Which Way the Wind Blows

When NBC Universal purchased the Weather Channel in 2008, it was described by company CEO Jeffrey Zucker (New York Times, 7/7/08) as making the network “the pre-eminent leader in news and information. We’re No. 1 in business news, No. 1 in general broadcast news, and now we’re No. 1 in weather news too.”

During this spring’s extreme weather events, NBC certainly made use of its new property, with repeated appearances by familiar Weather Channel faces on its news programs. After the late April tornadoes, NBC anchor Brian Williams asked meteorologist Greg Forbes (4/28/11): “People ask the same question, what’s going on here? Is this something we have done?” Forbes avoided the climate question: “Certainly the atmosphere has been in a frenzy. The jet stream just keeps blasting across the country, and then the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico just keeps feeding with instability, and so we’ve had tornado after tornado.”

The next night (4/29/11), it was the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore—familiar to millions of viewers as the face peering out from inside a rain slicker during any number of hurricanes—who was similarly questioned by Williams, with no clearer results:

CANTORE: Brian, when you go back and you look for evidence of something, sometimes the most obvious things don’t hit you until you just—they’re right there in front of your face. If we have a warmer Earth, and the purpose of the jet stream is to help equalize all of that, well, because it’s warmer, it’s going to have to work a lot harder. And that, in addition to the fact that we have so much instability out there in this month of April, heat and humidity, those two things create this monster outbreak….

WILLIAMS: I guess we’re all looking for ways to explain away what happened here.

CANTORE: It’s hard to do that.
Forbes and Cantore should perhaps be cut some slack, as they’re meteorologists, not climate experts. The Weather Channel used to have an environmental reporting team, including a weekly show called Forecast Earth that focused on climate change—but they were all laid off as one of NBC’s first cost-cutting moves after purchasing the channel (WashingtonPost.com,11/21/08).

– Neil deMause

Related Post:

 

Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

Climate Chaos

China orders petrochemical plant shutdown after protests.
www.guardian.co.uk
Tens of thousands protested in Dalian after protective dike around factory was breached by rain and high waves in storm.

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 1:37pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Seems like social networks have trigger a worldwide phenomena…

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 1:45pm

Leif Erik Knutsen · Top Commenter · Friends with Joseph Romm

World wide minus the USA…

Like · Reply · August 14 at 2:42pm

Mike Roddy · Top Commenter · Yucca Valley, California

Patrick Linsley, I’m traveling, but suggest that you google George Wuerthner on the subject, who is a forest ecologist. The Sierra Nevada study I referred to was peer reviewed and detailed and was sponsored by a major scientific organization, but it’s about 15 years old and I can’t remember what it was called.

In any case, this is not an outlier opinion. Most biologists and forest ecologists (as opposed to industry foresters) are well aware that industrial forestry raises local temperatures, reduces moisture in the soil, and decreases resilience in general- including to fire.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 9:51pm

Patrick Linsley · Top Commenter · Plebian at W. W. Grainger

Cool thanks I’ll do that! My comment got a little twisted up because I meant to write was ‘I’d certainly like to see it so I can throw it in the face of a few that think leaving something for the next generation as SOSH-UH-LSM!’ and instead wrote ‘I’d certainly like to see it so I can throw it in the face of a few that try to leaving something for the next generation as SOSH-UH-LSM!’ Sorry for the confusion I do agree with you on what you say just sometimes I write to fast and proofread too slow. Sorry for that.

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 10:57pm

John Borstelmann · Stanford University

If you wonder about the connection between the weird weather the US and elsewhere experienced this spring and summer, you should read this article. Weather and climate change are definitely related, and we are starting to see the effects of global weirding/warming in our weather, as more energy in the system invigorates storms and causes more extremes. The future will get much worse unless we do something to minimize our carbon pollution. It will already get worse just from the carbon we’ve already spewed out.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 8:58pm

Leif Erik Knutsen · Top Commenter · Friends with Joseph Romm

The extra energy collected each day of about 0.5 w/m^2 may not sound like much but computed for the earth over that is equivalent to ~1,000,000 Hiroshima size bombs per day popping off! One for every ~16 mile diameter circle. Every day! Tomorrow your 8 mile radius gets another. Day by day your radius gets smaller and smaller. <http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/06/30/257790/radiative-forcing-co2-1-million-hiroshima-bombs-a-day/>

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 11:06am

John Poteet · Top Commenter · Chico, California

Unreadable wall-o-text was unreadable but I got the hint anyway.

Thank dog the news presenters lay out their Climate Change denials with all the tact, grace and factiness of a Just-Say-No-to-Drugs campaign. These are the same people who raised the public image of socialism by denouncing it every time somebody needed a nickel of government funds to help homeless people and old ladies.

Keep denying deniers! In your tacky tasteless unbelievable fashion.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 10:19am

  • Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

I agree, maybe put dates on top of each paragraphs and some text fomating with bold text could help.

Like · Reply · August 14 at 11:23am

Mike Roddy · Top Commenter · Yucca Valley, California

The US timber industry is behind the meme that forest fires are somehow caused by environmentalists who refuse to allow thinning. This claim has been refuted in innumerable studies. An exhaustive study of the Sierras in the mid 1990′s concluded that the biggest.
predictor of forest fire danger is logging.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 11:57am

Patrick Linsley · Top Commenter · Plebian at W. W. Grainger

Do you have a link to that report? I’d certainly like to see it so I can throw it in the face of a few that try to leaving something for the next generation as SOSH-UH-LSM!

Like · Reply · August 14 at 3:01pm

David Stockbridge Smith · Top Commenter · Apex, North Carolina

Any strategy to control climate change/stabilize the climate towards pre-industrial GHG levels that relies on wide positive media coverage for success is likely to fail at this time. Other alternatives should be considered.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 12:19pm

Mandy Henk · Top Commenter · Access Services Librarian at DePuaw University

This is a serious question– what else is there? Do you know of an effective alternative that doesn’t require public willingness?

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 5:49pm

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

I understand your reasoning- and you are probably right- but in the end as GHG soar- and the climate becomes more unhinged- a Media in fear of its revenues will have an increasingly difficult time denying the catastrophes that are mounting are not from climate change.

In the end they will be as criminally responsible as fossil fuel companies.

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 6:19pm

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

There is almost non existent media attention to climate change. I wonder what event(s) will change this? It seems the global warming is a term as ‘vile’ as Communism as during the black list.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 3:16pm

Llewelly Foo

“Forbes and Cantore should perhaps be cut some slack, as they’re meteorologists, not climate experts.”

Meteorologists have a larger portion of the background necessary to understand the observations, the physics, and the models. It is not an accident both fields share most of their respective observations, nor is it an accident huge numbers of algorithms are shared between dynamical weather models and dynamical climate models.

Furthermore – any preparation for, or response to an extreme weather event is necessarily constrained by the likelihood of said extreme weather event, and its impact. And it is climate which determines the likelihood and severity of extreme weather events. The information meteorologists convey to the public is wholly invalid if it is not placed within the context of climate; a month of 100+ F days in Seattle…See More

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 1:45pm

Margaret Torres

“The Weather Channel used to have an environmental reporting team, including a weekly show called Forecast Earth that focused on climate change—but they were all laid off as one of NBC’s first cost-cutting moves after purchasing the channel.” Should we consider that they were laid off as a TRUTH-cutting measure, instead?

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 11:01am

Llewelly Foo

“Should we consider that they were laid off as a TRUTH-cutting measure, instead?”

Certainly. Whatever NBC’s motivation, their actions damaged the flow of necessary information to Americans, and thus played a role in the overall pattern of perpetrating the ignorance and inaction that has enabled destructive global warming to threaten millions of lives.

If there was in fact more evidence in favor of the notion their motivation was “cost cutting”, rather than “playing nice to fossil fuel advertisers”, that would be useful information in determining which tactics might be more likely to change their behavior. But it would not change the fact that their decision to not provide Americans with this essential information was an immoral action undeserving of tolerance.
…See More

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 1:56pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

I feel your love Kermit X, thanks.
It’s your saintly scientists that are condemning our children to a CO2 death. What part of “catastophic” and “unstoppable warming” don’t you get?
You seem to be more concerned with the politics of the “crisis” and may I remind you that as progressives, we are committed to questioning, challenging and doubting ALL authority. So when our kids are given these CO2 death threats, question the authority.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 12:23pm

Nick Palmer

There’s a difference between the authority that a powerful human personality commands (which should be challenged or questioned, as you say) and the authority that comes from studying and understanding reality which is entirely different and does not deserve the pathological levels of pseudo-scepticism that have been ranged against it by politically inspired ideologues who appear to see nothing wrong in spreading misinformation – if it gets them more votes

1 · Like · Reply · August 15 at 1:47pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Texas’s relentless drought may end up costing billions.
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2087489,00.html
Texas is a place where a storm cooked up in the mountains of Big Bend National Park can turn Hill Country creek beds into watery death traps within minutes, and where a January dinner party can feature grilled steaks or pot roast, depending on which way the wind blows. But these days there is a tedious monotony to the weather.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 1:15pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Page #2 -
Drought for the city dweller may mean inconvenience, but for Texas’ rural residents it has been devastating. The drought of 2011 may be the costliest in Texas history for agriculture and may have repercussions well beyond the state’s borders, Mark Welch, an economist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, told the Jacksonville Daily Progress in East Texas. “It’s a 3, 4, 5 billion-dollar impact right now, just in Texas,” Welch said. “This is a big deal.”………..The full cost of the drought, of course, won’t be known until it’s over, and the end is not in sight right now, says Ray Perryman, head of the Perryman Group, an economic- and financial-research company based in Waco. The most costly drought, so far, was in 2006 and caused $4.6 billion in direct agricultural losses. “This one is likely to be much worse,” Pe…See More

4 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 4:37pm

Climate Chaos

Climate Chaos

Heat pops pipes nationwide; brace for higher bills.
www.cnn.com
Critical water pipelines are breaking from coast to coast, triggered by this summer’s record high temperatures. It’s not a phenomenon or coincidence, experts say. It’s a clear sign that Americans should brace for more water interruptions, accompanied by skyrocketing water bills.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 1:22pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Doppler shows 6 to 8 inches of rain between Philly and Dover Delaware.

http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=DIX&product=NTP&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 2:36pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Dover radar shows 10 inches falling west of the radar site
http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?product=NTP&rid=DOX&loop=yes

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 2:41pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Another huge band of heavy rain moving into the city. This is going to be a very long night in New York City.

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 4:02pm

Patrick Linsley · Top Commenter · Plebian at W. W. Grainger

Hey Bob I know you watch the weather map religiously, were you watching the weather map last night in Indianapolis? I only ask because of that stage collapse that happened at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds that killed 5 and wounded a score of others was caused by a mircroburst that blew up quick and some are arguing that the authorities had time to evacuate those people, but I don’t think they would have had time to do it. Also on your crazy events that are happening more frequently (e.g. your baseball storms that are cropping up) maybe you should keep up on major stage collapses. This is the third one I’ve heard of this and last year (One at ‘Big Valley Jamboree’ in Alberta last year and the one this year at ‘Bluesfest’ in Ottawa) and both of the others seem to have also been caused by ‘freak storms’ also.
They laid charges against the two Canadian events, but it really doesn’t look like anything was out of the ordinary as far as the stage set up, just these ‘freak storms’. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/charges-laid-in-fatal-alberta-stage-collapse/article2115164/

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 4:22pm

Bart Laws · Top Commenter · Assistant Professor at Brown University

Funny you should end up with Brian Williams. If you want to know whether his head is in a place where the sun ever shines, consider his Friday report on the Perseids. “It’s ideal viewing,” he told us, “because there isn’t a moon in the sky.”

I presume everyone who reads this knows the moon was full. Now that’s some very serious stupidity.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 12:08pm

Wesley Rolley · Top Commenter · Northwestern University

Yes, that is the beginning of why we don’t watch Brian Williams much any more… that and his equally predictably bad ties.

Like · Reply · August 14 at 12:25pm

Leif Erik Knutsen · Top Commenter · Friends with Joseph Romm

There is so much light pollution and smog the full moon can’t be seen from many places. Give poor Brian a break.

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 2:58pm

Patrick Linsley · Top Commenter · Plebian at W. W. Grainger

In a poll last year Brian Williams trailed John Stewart as ‘America’s Most Trusted Newsman’. Of course John Stewart pretty well trounced everyone.

Like · Reply · August 14 at 3:02pm

View 1 more

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

Climate Change wasn’t about forests or sustainablility or energy or liitle kids planting little cute trees. It was a 25 year old CO2 death threat to billions of children and thankfully, a tragic exaggeration.
Even the remaining CO2 Crisis believers don’t believe in Climate Change themselves, for if they did, they and the thousands of saintly scientists would be marching and crying about the worst planetary emergency ever; Climate Crisis. Besides a comet hit, NOTHING could be worse than a climate crisis. NOTHING! If the scientists themselves believed it, they would be marching and crying and warning the world and be all over CNN and actually ACTING like it’s a real crisis. And since the scientists strangely outnumber the protesters, we former believers smell a rat. We former believers are the real planet lovers for we don’t wish …See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 10:55am

Paul Hoover · Top Commenter · CSE II at Diebold Inc.

Umm there is more to this than CO2. That argument is straight from the sophists. Supporters do act like this is a real crises, but the lap dog Inhofe and others mislead the public by using psuedo-science to undermine Science. Those tactics come straight from my God created everything so you have to believe it crowd.

Odd that you want to see what you are already seeing, that is known as raising the bar. You ask for the evidence supporters act like global warming is a crises, it is given then you demand more compelling evidence. I bet once the polar caps are gone, the glaciers are gone, you will demand to see the oceans dry up due to global warming. If you do not see that evidence then once again you will deny the data you have.

6 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 11:41am

George Ennis · Top Commenter · University of Toronto

I see in your profile you like the books Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

I am not surprised. For people espousing an extreme libertarian philosophy the overwhelming evidence of climate change must create extreme cognitive dissonance between the facts and your political philosophy. Because yes, to deal with the threat of global warming we are going to have to have a carbon tax, a cap and trade system and a lot of government regulation of GHG emissions.

However I think John Rogers captured the idea when he said:
“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

13 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 12:04pm

David Stockbridge Smith · Top Commenter · Apex, North Carolina

Paul, I think a lot of what you say is misguided. However, The lack of action (public or private) by those who accept the science is appalling. They are the ones who bear the most responsability to act. The great benefit to you of choosing to reject the science is that you do not have to change anything. It’s the easy road. Accepting the science and taking action requires wading through incredible complexity, while trying to figure out what you could possibly do that might make a difference. Easy things to do don’t make much difference, (change a light bulb). Difficult things to do are just that and extremely disruptive, personally. A simple choice that is almost impossible to make (a 9.9 on the personal disruption scale) would be to throw out the main breaker on your electric service panel at home (stop using dirty electricity…See More

5 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 1:15pm

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chsavage94 (signed in using Yahoo)

It’s all about credibility! With all the over-the-top predictions that the CAGW crowd has ben spewing for the last 20 years, are you at all surprised that the mainstream media is avoiding the word ‘climate’ these days?
It’s been said time after time on both sides of the debate; weather is NOT climate!

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 5:33pm

Leif Erik Knutsen · Top Commenter · Friends with Joseph Romm

Climate IS weather over time. How much time do you need. 30 years has been more than enough to convince me.

2 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 7:25pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

Most of the Rust Belt has not had a single smog day in over five years. Mission accopmlished.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 12:26pm

Patrick Linsley · Top Commenter · Plebian at W. W. Grainger

So why do you want people dead or dying? Is this because you have a secret desire to kill Midwesterners (like me and my son who is two and a half, oh and my dad who was born with lungs half the size they should be) through smog and climate calamities? Is it because you’re on the same side as the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil to force me to use their products instead of alternatives because of a tax code that has subsidied, directly and indirectly, the dino poop diggers and the fossilized compost catchers and told them they can externalize their costs by dumping it into a biosphere they don’t own? How about you just admit you have a twisted desire to see people hurt like your idol Ayn Rand who based her novels on her infatuation with the William Edward Hickman go ahead wiki or google him I dare ya!

2 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 3:36pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

Proving once again that climate change was polticis, not science. Thanks for the confirmation.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 12:24pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

A 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – the official publication of the United States National Academy of Sciences – found that out of 1,372 climate researchers surveyed, approximately 97 to 98 percent of those actively publishing in the field said they believe human beings are causing the climate change, which they term anthropogenic (i.e., man-made) climate change. It also concluded that “the relative climate expertise and
scientific prominence” of the researchers unconvinced of man-made climate change are “substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”

An earlier survey published in the 2009 issue of Eos — a publication of the American Geophysical Union — surveyed scientists from a wide range of disciplines (approximately 3,146) and asked: “Do you think human activity is a sig…See More

3 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 2:20pm

Patrick Linsley · Top Commenter · Plebian at W. W. Grainger

Yes the scientists say it is happening. The media, owned by large corporations who get advertising money from the fossil fuel industry, and the policos, who make policy based on what their big oil and coal corporate donors want, say it isn’t happening to increase their revenue/bribe from said corporations is proven in this and several other articles by Joe Romm and Co. Glad you came around from the ‘let’s make profit in short term by destroying the biosphere in the long term!’ crowd. Unless you are being sarcastic and are still on the let’s make short term profit side. In which case you failed, again.

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 3:40pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

What makes you any different from a bible thumping end of the world type? Nothing and I promise history will both laugh and cry at this modern Omen Worship of Climate Blame. Face it, you WANTED this misery to have been true. Why?

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 12:23pm

Gary Herstein · Top Commenter

You promise? Really, really promise? Cross your heart and hope to die? Well, as long as you promise, I guess it is OK to do like you and pay no attention to facts that admit of no reasoned dispute what-so-ever.

Boy, I’m glad you solved that problem for everyone.

4 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 12:43pm

  • taylorbarke (signed in using Yahoo)

Right, you keep on denying and I’ll be over here looking at the fact that over 2400 high temperature records were broken in the US in July alone. And Watching the weather (to use a scientific term) Going completely nuts all over the world. You just deny because it doesn’t fit your pathetic world view that the whole planet belongs to you, and that despite the fact that over 80% of all natural forests are gone, that the populations of ocean fish have declined by 90%, That there are roughly 800 million automobiles in the world, more or less half of which are spewing exhaust at any one moment, not to mention the thousands(millions?) of aircraft, ships, factories, and power plants doing the same thing the world over, Nothing you do can effect the whole planet, because “we are so small”. 7,000,000,000 is not a small number.

5 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 1:33pm

Doug Percival

Paul Merrifield’s comments on this thread are nothing more than belligerent ignorance, whacked out conspiracy theories and vicious hate speech. The longer ones are nothing but spam, since their entire content is boilerplate text copied and pasted from denialist websites without attribution.

Moderators, please delete Merrifield’s comments. This is an important site. Please don’t let the likes of Paul Merrifield turn it into a sewer of denialist garbage.

9 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 3:00pm

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Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

A Former Climate BLAME Believer Speaks:
The UN’s IPCC’s Climate conclusions state that the effects of Human CO2 will be negligible to unstoppable warming, or life or death. And of course we all know they are choosing predictions of a real crisis of melting ice caps, drought, floods, rising seas and acidified oceans leaving them lifeless. Read your own dogma, please. A climate “crisis” is a comet hit of an emergency and nothing could possibly be more important an issue as climate change, correct? Spare us the personal definitions of climate crisis and answer these two questions:
1-Are you willing to believe in this coming misery enough to kneel down to your own children, hold them close to you, look them clear in the eyes and tell them climate change is real?
2-Just what “does” have to happen now to prove that we former climate chan…See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 3:58pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

No, I need a much better reason to condemn my kids to a CO2 death than your “what if the ice caps really do melt…..”. I see politically correct exaggeration here and this planet lover is happy and relieved the crisis has been averted for our children. Insane belief in doomsday isn’t good enough. Continued support of the CO2 mistake isn’t helping anyone or the planet.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 10:24am

kermit X (signed in using Hotmail)

This post by Paul clearly illustrates the damage that media silence (or worse, lies) contributes to. Paul, the only people condemning anybody’s children to death in this context are the sociopaths you shill for. And I’m guessing that you aren’t even paid for it.

You worked hard for your money, after all, and you don’t want to be told that you must have consideration for the common good. Your tribalist instincts rebel at the idea that we are not independent islands – your air isn’t mine, your water isn’t mine. Except it is.

Your heroes, the snakes in suits, are poisoning your planet as well as ours. I predict that when the flood (or drought or famine or war) comes to you, you will blame it on us.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 11:10am

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

And what is a high water bill compared to the unspeakable misery of a Climate Crisis of unstoppable warming? If CO2 fears were valid, somebody would be acting like it was the end of the civilized world.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 12:30pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

Love, not windmills and CO2 death threats. Let’s leave the fear mongering and lying to the neocons.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 12:27pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

Actually the “envy” , “failure” and “misery” parts came from Churchill.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 12:25pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

Blame, misery, failure, envy, climate change.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 7:04pm

Patrick Linsley · Top Commenter · Plebian at W. W. Grainger

OOOOOOH, OOOOH, let me guess Carson Swammy. All are negative things Paul Merrifield contributes to. Am I right?

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 7:41pm

Paul Merrifield · Top Commenter · Gardener at Retired Gardeners Inc.

Envy?

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 12:28pm

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