Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Year of the Canaries In The Climate-Change Coal Mine … by gimleteye

For my final post of 2013 I am going to (again) write about climate change. This seems to be the year of the canaries in the climate-change coal mine. "Seems", because at the risk of repetition I have been on that metaphor from the moment I started on the environment.

Back in the late 1980's I wrote about serial algae blooms in northern Florida Bay. Although the scientists were scratching each other's eyes out at the time -- on the cause --, it was clear that nothing could stop these amorphous, amoeba-like blobs from overtaking a vast, extraordinary piece of the Everglades ecosystem.

Nothing but government action to reverse decades of water mis-management that accrued to the benefit and upstream profits of Big Sugar. But the deniers controlled the levers of government: it was Ronald Reagan, James Watts and the Wise Use Movement that mobilized through its Florida Keys branch, the Conch Coalition.

Even the scientists have stopped arguing. Florida Bay is, for all intents and purposes, converted to a blighted remnant that is host, mainly, to scavenger species. There are still a few trophies left, bewildered stragglers. Just go to a few restaurants in the Keys to see the photos on the walls -- like the Square Grouper on Summerland Key or Stouts on Marathon Key -- to see what was.

As those early algae blooms were canaries in a coal mine to the fate of Florida Bay, so is the degradation of our coastal waters in Florida a canary in the coal mine for land-based natural resources. We are awash in a sea of pollution -- the toxic form of mercury flows in the middle of the Everglades in degrees that make it one of the world's hot spots. In other words, the canaries in the coal mine are everywhere.

Superstorm Sandy. Ice storms, now, through much of the nation depriving millions of electricity while serial cold fronts sweep through. And in Miami? Just yesterday I had the AC repair out: the humidity just busted my air conditioner: in December! I asked the repair guy had his business ever been so good in December? He just shook his head. The other day I asked a motel owner in the Keys, have sea levels been rising? He just shook his head and confided, I'm a climate change denier until I sell my property.

Yesterday, the New York Times published an important story, "Spared Winter Freeze, Florida's Wetlands Are Marching North". "(Dr. Gruner) said that scientists needed to start considering changes beyond just average temperatures as they analyzed the environmental consequences of climate change. More surprises are likely in store, he said. “I don’t like to think about it, quite frankly,” he said. “It’s a little scary.”

"Patrick Gillespie, a spokesman for Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, offered no specific comment on the new paper. By email, he said the agency had indeed “seen an increase in mangrove habitats to the north and inward along the Atlantic coast. It’s difficult to determine whether this is good or bad for the ecosystem because it’s happened over a relatively short period of time and may be a result of many factors." Tell that to the insurance industry, Mr. Gillespie, your boss, Gov. Rick Scott, and Senator Marco Rubio-who-will-not-meet-with-climate change scientists.

So there you have it: 2013, the Year of the Canaries In The Climate-Change Coal Mine". Unpersuaded? Watch Malcolm Gladwell's "How much proof do we need", beginning with the literal coal mine and the canary. That would be, us.


Jeb said...

Slowly over the last four decades, and more abruptly in the last decade, the changing skies of "the sunshine state" have become the most visible 'canary' in the greenhouse.

Not only has it been overly warm and humid in this supposed "dry season", but it has also been "the new normal" of cloudy, overcast, and gloomy, which of course blocks the heat of the sun -- yet the temps have hovered in the upper range well above normal, nearing, tying, and breaking both high temp records and minimum lows, with nearly constant windy conditions lowering the "feels like".

Then too, there is the now extended "rainy season", starting a month early and lasting more than a month beyond the supposed end date.
One recent example, Vero Beach had more than 5" in a few hours, half of the average rainfall for the entire month, weeks after our Miami CBS climate denier weather speculators declared the dry season had arrived.

This has all been a transition over time, and many newcomers and vacationers are not aware that the high number of cloudy, windy, rainy days here are more than a little aberrant. But the natives and old timers know that Florida has transitioned to the not-so-sunny state.

Still, we have been lucky here -- so far -- as the natural "shade" from the clouds has kept us from suffering the overheated consequences of the rest of the nation and much of the planet. "So far" because we are faced with rising waters and the narrowing likelihood of a repeat "perfect storm" of unfavorable conditions for Atlantic cyclones, particularly with El Nino creeping up on our backsides...

And never mind the scientifically reticent lowballing IPCC predictions for the next two or three decades, as it appears greedy dirty-energy-funded climate deniers will mindlessly see to it that the cascading feedback loops of global warming surpass their ireversible tipping point thresholds to flood the global greenhouse with tens of times more greenhouse gasses than humans have to date...

So enjoy these cloudy, humid, warm, and windy "good old days" of the new abnormal. The next phase will not be as pleasant.

You might consider voting the dirty energy climate deniers out of office in 2014.

Science Teacher said...

Did you you see where your idiot comrades went to study global warming in Antarctica and have been trapped in ice since Christmas? I laughed so hard at that one!

The fact is that there has been no evidence of global warming in 17 years. Instead of relying on anecdotes from your AC repair man, please consider reading some of the latest scientific literature.

Science Teacher said...

By the way, have you seen the Daily Caller's "The top seven global warming alarmist setbacks in 2013?" They are great! Here is a taste:

1) Studies show that the world was warmer than it is today during the Roman Empire and when the Vikings were plundering Europe and North America. In fact, even in the 19th Century, there were discussions surrounding the fact that the Vikings could settle the northernmost reaches of Greenland and North America because there was less ice coverage.

2) During the second week in December, the U.S. saw more than 2000 record low temperatures and record snowfalls, according to the National Weather Service and HamWeather records center. There were 606 record low temperatures, 1,234 low maximum temperatures and 285 record snowfalls across the country. In the meantime there were only 98 high temperature records and 141 high minimum temperature records.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If this science teacher poster is even remotely related to a real school teacher, maybe it's actually a good thing our kids aren't paying attention in school.