Monday, March 27, 2017

With so many Trump-inflicted horrors, why prioritize Climate Change?

It’s hard to keep your eyes on the ball when everyone starts throwing hundreds of balls on to the court. It’s hard to prioritize addressing Climate Change when the GOP and Trump are lobbing grenades each day onto the headlines. Our most cherished values are under attack and they all must be addressed: immigration, science, food programs, education, war against the media, our international reputation, the sanctity of the office of the Presidency, and who knows what else lurks in the heart of these clowns.  

But even these every-freaking-day assaults must be viewed through the lens of Climate Change. For if we allow our attention to be diverted from addressing Climate Change, all other issues will be exacerbated or eliminated altogether because our life support system will be breaking down. Climate Change is an existential crisis requiring that we make massive shifts in the way we live, how we get energy, and how we treat our environment.

Climate denial is a backfire-effect (when proven wrong, you dig your heels in harder) against the fact of Climate Change.  It is also most likely the cause of this hyper-divide in our country, which is threatening to take us all down a deep dark hole.

Climate denial is a stance. It is not science but a position many folks have taken. It deduces from its own self-centered ideology that any fact or argument that does not fit into its belief system is incorrect.

Science is a methodology based on a strict attention to evidence and testable results. Science is not common sense; it is a hard-fought achievement that can challenge our common sense and put our collective opinions about reality through an objective set of rigorous standards to find out if they are really true—not just some bullshit we are feeding ourselves. Check out this great podcast on common sense:

“Your common sense is informed by imperfect inputs decoded through biases and heuristics defended by logical fallacies stored in corrupted memories that are unpacked through self-serving narratives. Native good judgment? Well, sure, sometimes, but there’s a reason why we had to invent the scientific method. Native judgment is pretty unreliable.” (YANSS Podcast – Episode Seven – The Psychology of Common Sense July 22, 2013)

This brings us to the recently released WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016. It is only 28 pages. But it’s thorough and dramatic. It’s about as concise a picture of where we are on Climate Change at the moment as the public is likely to get. This report is the result of scientific research that has been accepted around the world.

At the risk of losing your attention altogether, I’m going to post the complete list of contributors to this report to give you a sense of the diverse expertize that brought this about. Take a moment to skim this material to get a sense of the nations and organizations who are not in climate denial and feel a great sense of urgency about the state of our life support system.

This publication was issued in collaboration with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), United Kingdom; Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA); Met Office Hadley Centre, United Kingdom; Climatic Research Unit (CRU), University of East Anglia, United Kingdom; Climate Prediction Center (CPC), the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States of America; National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS), United States of America; Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC), Germany; National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), United States of America; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Marine and Atmospheric Research, Australia; Global Snow Lab, Rutgers University, United States of America; Regional Climate Centre for Regional Association VI, Climate Monitoring, Germany; Beijing Climate Centre, China; Tokyo Climate Centre, Japan; International Research Centre on El Niño (CIIFEN), Ecuador; Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, Bridgetown, Barbados; Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), Netherlands; Institute on Global Climate and Ecology (IGCE), Russian Federation; All-Russian Research Institute for Hydrometeorological Information-World Data Center (ARIHMI-WDC), Russian Federation; Global Atmospheric Watch Station Information System(GAWSIS), MeteoSwiss, Switzerland; World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases (WDCGG), Japan Meteorological Agency, Japan; World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), Switzerland; World Ozone and UV Radiation Data Centre (WOUDC), Environment and Climate Change, Canada; Niger Basin Authority, Niger. Other contributors are the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services or equivalent of: Argentina; Armenia; Australia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Belarus; Belgium; Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Brunei Darussalam; Burkina Faso; Canada; Chile; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Denmark; Egypt; Estonia; Fiji; Finland; France; Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hong Kong, China; Hungary; Iceland; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Ireland; Israel; Italy, Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Latvia; Libya; Luxembourg; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia; Mali; Mauritius; Mexico; Moldova; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Niger; Norway; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Peru; Poland; Portugal; Republic of Korea; Republic of Moldova; Romania; Russian Federation; Samoa; Serbia; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Solomon Islands; South Africa; Spain; Swaziland; Sweden; Switzerland; Thailand; Tonga, Tunisia; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United Republic of Tanzania; United States of America; Uruguay and Vanuatu. Contributions from international organizations were made available, including the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); International Monetary Fund (IMF); International Organization for Migration (IOM); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO). (WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016)

If you don’t have time to read the entire document, here’s a good overview:

State of the Warming Climate in 2016: 'Truly Uncharted Territory' World Meteorological Organization reveals extent of global warming's impacts last year, including epic Arctic melting, drought and extreme weather. Arctic ice melted to new lows in 2016, temperatures soared to scorching highs and extreme weather rocked all parts of the planet. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual State of Global Climate report on Tuesday, noting a year of broken records and extreme weather events—climate change trends that are continuing into 2017. "This report confirms that the year 2016 was the warmest on record—a remarkable 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. That temperature rise marks a 0.06 degrees Celsius increase over the record set in 2015. The Paris climate agreement commits the world's nations to holding the atmospheric temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius, to try to stave off potentially catastrophic global warming.(March 21, 2017) Inside Climate News [more on Climate Change in our area]

The take home message is that however dazzled and horrified we are at the circus going on at the White House and Congress, we cannot afford to let our attention stray from Climate Change. For decades we have kicked the can down the road, allowing Climate Change indicators to build up to dangerous levels and allowed those who find this truth very inconvenient to take over the helm of our government. The result is that we have ratcheted up this crisis to “uncharted territory”.

Here’s what you can do: March for Science on Earth Day, here in Rochester, NY or in Washington, DC. Join the People’s Climate Movement this April 29th here in Rochester, NY or in Washington, DC.

Time passes. 

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