Saturday, January 18, 2014

Here Comes That Black Swan … by gimleteye

The other day I had correspondence on climate change with a journalist visiting Florida to write about sea level rise. He wrote: "I really don't get it. These execs and government leaders have kids, and grandkids. How can they be so short-sightedly greedy at their own offspring's expense?"

I responded with three quotations.

Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Sir Nicholas Stern: "Climate change is the result of the greatest market failure that the world has seen."

Jimmy Carter: "America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time."

One of the observations I've made, connecting political and economic conditions in the United States, is that these are consequences of an age of scarcity.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when is his salary depends on his not understanding it and it is even more difficult when fear is heightened, as it has been for decades, by scarcity.

Fear is the leading edge of climate change.

The recent polar vortex brought the radical right wing cries, "See, there's no global warming!" Two days later it was springtime temperatures in the northeast.

What is normal these days; a paralyzed Congress. The degrees of stalemate can be measured by many metrics. The one Floridians should prefer is that US Senator Marco Rubio still has not met with climate change scientists.

The Grover Norquist faction of the right wing GOP may not have succeeded in its mission of shrinking the size of government so it could fit in a bathtub, but it succeeded in its objective -- whether by drowning or by grinding gridlock, the net result is dysfunction.

This is a terrible outcome and what's worse: through the most recent election cycles in 2010 and 2012, unrestricted campaign contributions through dark money channels (ie. undeclared as to origin or donor) have only just finished their test drive of campaign manipulation.

That turns the action to the states. Along this line, listen to a terrific segment on NPR's "Fresh Air": "Why the GOP is winning the state house war". And have a look at the following map of drought conditions in the far west.

While Florida is starting to focus on sea level rise -- even the somnabulists at public television's WPBT have woken up -- the first long-term impacts to the US will very likely be in western regions with a population of 50 million people and a disproportionate share of the technology economy.  Around the world, the weather is oscillating at extreme ends, exactly as climate change scientists have predicted, only faster. If drought conditions increase in proportional frequency but with more intensity than rain events, what happens to the stock markets, then?


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"The man-made Climate Change Religion is the greatest Hoax perpetrated in human history"

Anonymous said...

And this kind of denial from the above anonymous is part of the problem. Whether it is all man-made or not (and the science is pretty close to irrefutable)- something had to be done. It feels like watching Rome burn -- so scary.

CATO said...

Let me guess it's also Grover Norquist and right wingers fault that Obamacare is and will continue to b an unmitigated disaster.

I am in favor of finding ways to lower carbon emissions, but when you get off on blatant partisanship it takes away from your argument.

Ross said...

Ordinary people like me, who own homes in South Florida and have our life savings invested in those homes, also face a heartbreaking conflict. As soon as we, as a group, accept the local implications of climate change, everything we have worked for all our lives loses most of its value. As soon as we recognize that insurance coverage and mortgage financing are in doubt, even if 40 or 50 years away, our net worths will collapse. Will we be able to sell our homes to buyers who can't be assured of their own buyers down the road?

So denial is a survival strategy. What we don't know won't hurt us, until we do know it, or admit knowing it. So we go on, fixing up our homes, paying taxes on infrastructure that has no hope of lasting, to local governments whose tax bases and services are doomed to shrink as property values shrink, making property values spiral even lower.

Anonymous said...

Denial is never a good survival strategy. This is not a time to simply wish something away. Tempting though it may be -- closing our eyes and not pushing public official to open theirs will not work. Sometimes the sky REALLY is falling.

Anonymous said...

There is irrefutable evidence that the polar ice caps are growing. That brought a quick, "Oops!" moment to the global warming crowd. They tweaked their toon. "It isn't global warming per se, "what we meant to say is... Climate Change!"

So now,every time there's a fluctuation in the earth's temps, precipitation, etc., everyone shouts: Climate Change! Of course climates change! Climates have been changing since time began. But the hysterical snake-oil quacks have not been able to prove that humanity is responsible nor that we impact or alter thae changes.

Ross said...

Summer Arctic ice was bigger in surface area in 2013 by a percentage over a record shrunken 2012, but was still one of the lowest coverages on record. The pattern is: shrink one year, shrink some more the next year, etc., recover a bit the next year but not to the size of a few years ago. The trend is horrific and the occasional "growth" is in thin surface ice that can't last through the following summer.

Roy said...

So it's dry in California? Umm that would be because it is the desert. Haven't you heard of that song, "It never rains in Southern California?"

If you did a little research, you would know we are now enjoying our 18th consecutive year of no global warming. Al Gore predicted the polar ice caps would be melted by now, but they are still very frozen.

So, chicken little, how will we experience a rise in sea level if the ice doesn't melt? You obviously believe we wont be getting more rain.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon, there: how much you make writing shit like that?