Tuesday :: Jun 15, 2010

Tell the people

by Turkana

The president will speak tonight, and let's hope he doesn't just mention climate change in passing. Let's hope he really focuses on the big picture. All he has to do is point to some recent news. A deadly flood in Arkansas. Record rains in Oklahoma City. Record flooding in Tennessee and New England.

As one observer noted:

I find it systematically tends to get underplayed and it often gets underplayed by my fellow scientists. Because one of the opening statements, which I’m sure you’ve probably heard is “Well you can’t attribute a single event to climate change.” But there is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future.

Some radical leftist enviro type who doesn't understand basic science? Actually, that quote is from Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. From an interview he just gave Joseph Romm, of Climate Progress. Who explains:

The latest record-smashing superstorm makes his comments even more timely — see Capital Climate’s “Oklahoma City Paralyzed By Flash Floods.” As with Tennessee, New England, and Georgia, what makes OK’s deluge doubly remarkable is that it was not the remnant of a tropical storm (see “Weather Channel expert on Georgia’s record-smashing global-warming-type deluge“).

Extreme weather without the usual extreme causes. But the extreme causes will be getting even more extreme. It's been known for years that climate change could lead to stronger than ever hurricanes. And now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a stronger than usual hurricane season, for this year. The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, at Columbia University, elaborates:

The forecast for above-normal hurricane activity has remained high in part because of the dissipation of the 2009-10 El Niño and increased likelihood for La Niña conditions starting in the fall of 2010. In general, La Niña conditions tend to increase the chances for hurricanes in the Atlantic, while El Niño conditions tend to suppress them.

But the strongest influence on the forecast has to do with what's going on in the surface waters of the Atlantic Ocean. During the month of April, the surface temperatures in the Atlantic, where the majority of hurricanes develop, rose to nearly 1.5 degrees Celsius above the 30 year average- the highest levels ever recorded. In fact, April marks the third consecutive month that temperatures in this region of the Atlantic broke long term records. This is important because in general, hurricanes use warm-water temperatures as fuel to grow and get stronger.

"These abnormally high sea-surface temperatures do not bode well for a quiet start to the hurricane season," says Tony Barnston, IRI's lead forecaster. "Taken in combination with the increased likelihood for a developing La Niña during the latter stages of the hurricane season, the entire season may be lengthened this year."

And just to bring it all home, Science Daily had this, last month:

Hurricanes could snap offshore oil pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico and other hurricane-prone areas, since the storms whip up strong underwater currents, a new study suggests.

These pipelines could crack or rupture unless they are buried or their supporting foundations are built to withstand these hurricane-induced currents. "Major oil leaks from damaged pipelines could have irreversible impacts on the ocean environment," the researchers warn in their study, to be published on 10 June in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

The message is simple and easy to explain. You like what you're seeing in the Gulf of Mexico? Well, climate change has a very good chance of making this but the beginning. The crisis in the Gulf is about offshore oil drilling, but it's also about oil. It's about climate change. It's about our addiction to fossil fuels. And this is the moment to do something about it.

This is the moment to seize the moment, to galvanize the nation into being ready to do something about climate change. Something real. Finally. This is the moment to tell the people.

Turkana :: 10:22 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!