Saturday, January 11, 2014

Can’t be a little pregnant; nor can you believe in only a little Climate Change


CCLittleWarmYou’re either pregnant or you ain’t. You either believe in what 95% of the climate scientists report on Climate Change, or you’re picking the parts you like—like drilling in a warming Arctic or planting for a longer growing season—and avoiding the parts you don’t like—like rising seas. Picking out stuff you think your media outlet can handle and leaving out the rest of the Climate Change package is irresponsible and, pretty weird when you think about it.

This local news item, borrowed from AP, is a story about Climate Change and how us Northeastern folks have become so used to (boiling frog, or shifting baseline syndrome) warmer winters that, when we do get an occasional cold snap, we act like a bunch of weak-kneed wimps.

Scientists: Americans becoming weather wimps We've become weather wimps. As the world warms, the United States is getting fewer bitter cold spells like the one that gripped much of the nation this week. So when a deep freeze strikes, scientists say, it seems more unprecedented than it really is. (January 9, 2014) Daily Messenger

After getting over being called a wimp, what grabbed my attention from the above article was this: “As the world warms…” Our media has reported for so long and so consistently on Climate Change that now they’re admonishing us that we should be used to the consequences—one of which is when the Polar Vortex dips down and nails us with some frosty days less often than before. Really?!? We used to be hardy, but now, not so much?

Actually, I’m glad that our local mainstream media is at least forwarding Climate Change news from other media (though, it would be much better if they took their investigative reporters on a tour of what Climate Change is doing already in our part of the country) but they cannot just cherry-pick Climate Change news and think they’re keeping the public informed in the crisis of our age.

My niece, when she was an early teenager, stated quite emphatically that she didn’t believe in God, but that she did believe in the devil. I was amused. I said if you’d don’t believe in God, then you cannot believe in the devil. The devil is part of the package. The devil, as it goes, is a fallen angel. No god, no angel.

Anyway, once the media has finally decided to pass on an article or write about Climate Change themselves, they’ve got to tell the whole story. You don’t just have warmer winters and not all the other stuff that the media should be reporting. In the Rochester NY area (Northeast America), we can reasonably expect some or all of these consequences of Climate Change in our region within the next 50 years or so:

...higher temperatures and increased heat waves have the potential to increase fatigue of materials in the water, energy, transportation, and telecommunications sectors; affect drinking water supply; cause a greater frequency of summer heat stress on plants and animals; alter pest populations and habits; affect the distribution of key crops such as apples, grapes, cabbage, and potatoes; cause reductions in dairy milk production; increase energy demand; and lead to more heat-related deaths and declines in air quality. Projected higher average annual precipitation and frequency of heavy precipitation events could also potentially increase the risks of several problems, including flash floods in urban areas and hilly regions; higher pollutant levels in water supplies; inundation of wastewater treatment plants and other vulnerable development in floodplains; saturated coastal lands and wetland habitats; flooded key rail lines, roadways, and transportation hubs; and travel delays. Sea level rise will increase risk of storm surge-related flooding, enhance vulnerability of energy facilities located in coastal areas, and threaten transportation and telecommunications facilities. Across the varied geography of New York State, many individuals, households, communities, and firms are at risk of experiencing climate change impacts. Some will be especially vulnerable to specific impacts due to their location and lack of resources. [Page 3, Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID)

Much of mainstream reporting surrounding the recent cold snap included many Polar Vortex descriptions, but little about how the strange behavior of that polar jet stream was likely related to Climate Change. And, of course, many a denier media saw fit to use the sudden cold as proof that warming was a hoax. (Ok, you gotta see this 9-minute Jon Stewart video on this cold snap and Climate Change: Jon Stewart Rips Fox on Global Warming.) Some don’t think there’s a connection with the recent cold spell and Climate Change at all. See the ever-vigilant Andrew Revkin’s coverage of this whole thing A Last Look at the Media and the Dreaded Polar Vortex over at the However, there is a connection between the recent cold snap and Climate Change that is undisputed by all the climate experts and it is this: The recent cold snap does not disprove Climate Change.

Look, it’s going to be hard to address and mitigate Climate Change if every time it gets cold we have to beat back the deniers. Does the White House really have to make a statement every time the denier’s understanding of Climate Change comes in conflict with their incredulity?

Global Warming Caused the Polar Vortex, White House Says in New Video The Obama administration is pushing back on skeptics who say the polar vortex proves climate change is a hoax. In a new video to be posted on the official White House website Wednesday, President Obama's science adviser, John Holdren, warns against buying into the idea that a cold snap disproves that the earth is getting warmer overall. "If you've been hearing that extreme cold spells, like the one we're having in the United States now, disproves global warming, don't believe it," he says in the video. (January 9, 2016) Inside Climate News

The media is coming up against a great problem of their own making and they’d better cut their losses--soon. They cannot avoid and deny Climate Change year after year and then every once in awhile sneak in an irresistible zinger like ‘as it warms’, revealing that they’ve accepted Climate Change all along. The media is supposed to be informing us of important stuff and I’d say the world crisis called Climate Change is one of them. If our local media wants to relinquish its responsibility as our informers, then they should move over and let a real news agency do that.

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