The morning after the GOP debate, the nation and the world woke up to the reality that an unabashed climate science denier could be the next president of the United States. The UK’s Guardian warns its readers of Rick Perry:
A year or so ago, the very idea that the most powerful person on the planet could, within just a couple of years, be someone who refuses to accept the science that underpins our knowledge of anthropogenic climate change was almost laughable.
They discuss Gov. Rick Perry’s debate performance and conclude:
Sadly, it now appears that Obama’s brief window for action is over and he is unlikely to ever regain the political capital he needs to implement any serious climate policies. But, most alarming of all, the whole world — not just the US — needs to start seriously preparing for the very real possibility that a staunch climate sceptic could, within 16 months, have his cowboy boots under the desk in the Oval Office.
Perry is indeed a hard-core climate science denier and a Tea Party extremist. It is hard to know how bad the Texas climate would have to get before he would concede that climate scientists were right:
This year’s scorching Texas summer heat, in a dubious honor, broke a national record once held by Oklahoma that had stood since the Dust Bowl changed the face of the country in the 1930s.
The Texas months of June through August were the hottest three months ever recorded in the history of the United States…..
“It has been scary hot from one end of Texas to the other,” [state climatologist John] Nielson-Gammon said…. “The dryer it is, the hotter the ground gets during the summer, and it becomes a cycle that feeds on itself….”
The 12 months ending on August 31 were the driest 12 months in Texas history.
Heck, it’s hard to know how bad the climate would have to get before Perry would even take even the most basic adaptation measures, like, say, adequately funding firefighters, rather than, so, just praying for rain.
Climate Progress has noted that the Texas Drought Now Far, Far Worse Than When Gov. Rick Perry Issued his April Proclamation Calling on All Texans to Pray for Rain. And the month after adopting that futile adaptation strategy, Perry signed a budget that devastated the state’s ability to fight fires:
The Texas Forest Service’s funding was sliced from $117.7 million to $83 million. More devastating cuts hit the assistance grants to volunteer fire departments around the state. Those grants were slashed 55 percent from $30 million per year in 2010 and 2011 to $13.5 million per year in 2012 and 2013. Those cuts are effective now.
We previously reported that the fires have now destroyed an area the size of Connecticut, and the Texas Forest Service put out statement saying, “This is unprecedented fire behavior. No one on the face of this Earth has ever fought fires in these extreme conditions”
Here is a stunning video of just how fast the fire spread during the latest historic blaze “on the north edge of Bastrop State Park near Austin”:
Now that the budget cuts have taken effect, HuffPost reports:
… firefighters have had to pay out of pocket for basic necessities like proper protective gear and fuel to get them to the scene. One fire department that battled the blazes in Bastrop County had to pay for a hose, recalled Bastrop City Fire Chief Henry Perry….
Here’s the grim wildfire projection for mid-century from a presentation made by the President’s science adviser Dr. John Holdren in Oslo last year:
The hard-core deniers oppose all action to deal with global warming — mitigation and adaptation (see “The GOP War Against Climate Adaptation”).
The climate, however, is impervious to denial. The more heat trapping gases we poured the atmosphere, the more it will just keep changing, and more extreme the weather will become. As Texas Climatologist Katherine Hayhoe writes Climate Progress:
We often try to pigeonhole an event, such as a drought, storm, or heatwave into one category: either human or natural, but not both. What we have to realise is that our natural variability is now occurring on top of, and interacting with, background conditions that have already been altered by long-term climate change.
As our atmosphere becomes warmer, it can hold more water vapor. Atmospheric circulation patterns shift, bringing more rain to some places and less to others. For example, when a storm comes, in many cases there is more water available in the atmosphere and rainfall is heavier. When a drought comes, often temperatures are already higher than they would have been 50 years ago and so the effects of the drought are magnified by higher evaporation rates.
So the forecast from Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh is dead on:
But we’re headed towards a climate where summers like the one we’re experiencing in 2011 will be the norm, not the exception….Forecast: unpleasant, unhealthy and unbearable.