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July 15, 2012 4:33 AM   Subscribe


 
Romney knows, he just doesn't give a shit.

Not Giving A Shit: Good For Honey Badgers, Bad For President.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:02 AM on July 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Romney knows, he just doesn't give a shit.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair
posted by Bromius at 5:13 AM on July 15, 2012 [39 favorites]


The last line is pretty misleading -- in the article, Romney gives a more nuanced, reasonable answer:
I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know that there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.
I don't much like the guy, but you don't have to misrepresent the guy's clearly-stated positions just becau--
In June, Romney told a New Hampshire audience that he believed in man-made global warming, and that reducing greenhouse pollution is “important“
Oh, he said this more than 12 hours ago! Never mind.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:15 AM on July 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


So, we're back to "weather = climate", now? Just checking. It keeps changing. Which, you know, is really odd in an election cycle.
posted by gsh at 5:17 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, Rhaomi, every time I see that guy utter the words "I believe" I laugh a little.
posted by indubitable at 5:19 AM on July 15, 2012


If we could vote climate change out of office we probably wouldn't.
posted by panaceanot at 5:20 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, we're back to "weather = climate", now?

We're talking about heat waves spanning entire continents and lasting for months. We're talking about record temperatures for the entire globe being set year after year after year

You believe the correct term to use for this pattern of events is "weather"?
posted by crayz at 5:32 AM on July 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


I have been working in ecological design for 20 years, and urban agriculture for 12, and I am extremely frightened and dismayed by the lack of action by just about everyone. Get ready for food prices to go up much faster. Get ready for all kinds of "chains of events" that we have no idea are coming because we are in uncharted territories.
posted by tarantula at 5:48 AM on July 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


but Romney doesn't know.

I feel like this could be tacked on to any post about the presidential election.
posted by inigo2 at 5:51 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Romney doesn't know that Fiona and me
Do it in his van every Sunday...
posted by indubitable at 6:00 AM on July 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


So, we're back to "weather = climate", now? Just checking. It keeps changing.

This comes up in every thread, so let's just get this out of the way.

Weather is the daily observation of something which, aggregated over time, is a region's climate.

Yes, it's impossible to look at a single day or even a single year and say "this is a different climate from what had come previously".

But it is only through observation of weather that climate emerges as something knowable.
posted by hippybear at 6:01 AM on July 15, 2012


Michael Mann seems somewhat disappointed in Obama's failure to lead on this issue.

The Huffington Post: Obama has been talking about America’s energy future on the campaign trail a lot this past week, yet he never mentions climate change. What do you make of that?

Michael Mann: I thought there was some irony to Obama going to Oklahoma, the state that maybe has been most devastated thus far by the emerging effects of climate change, to present a vision of our energy future that really did seem to ignore climate change. I was disappointed by that frankly.


Unfortunately, neither party seems interested in leading on what is an overwhelmingly crucial issue.

Of course, there's Jill Stein and the Green Party if one wants global warming addressed before it's too late:

Stein condemns White House blockade of Durban climate progress

"I condemn the White House’s inaction in the face of a global emergency," said Stein. "The U.S.’ and other rich countries’ inaction on climate change is not only inexcusable. U.S. and global emissions continue to rise, and national legislation to reduce emissions is nowhere in sight. Even when the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate in 2009-10, efforts to pass even weak legislation to reduce emissions were completely unsuccessful due to the powerful influence of Big Oil and Big Coal on both of the establishment political parties."

Jill Stein Calls Out Obama Inaction On Climate Change

Stein reminded American voters that, although Barack Obama promised strong climate action in his 2008 presidential campaign, he has failed to deliver on that promise as President. Stein charged that, in fact, President Obama has been actively working to prevent a strong international climate treaty from being agreed upon. “Climate change is the biggest threat facing the U.S. and the planet. We don’t need a nice sounding but meaningless statement coming out of Durban. The White House continues to block the creation of binding agreements for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions and provide financial support for developing countries to transition to carbon-free economies,” Stein said.
posted by Karmadillo at 6:08 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing 2008 was a record hot year. Along with 2006, 2010 and 2004 as well. It would probably be easier to count the years that didn't break heat records in the past decade then those that did.

Obama actually did campaign on climate change in '08, although not to a huge extent. In fact, the house democrats actually passed a bill that would have started work on reducing carbon emissions - but it went nowhere despite democrats having a 60 seat majority in the senate.

Like a lot of issues, the best way to make progress on this electorally would be to get rid of the senate democrats who voted against it, at least in primaries.

Oh, except the senate doesn't even seem to have scheduled a vote. So, even if you were dead set against voting for pro-global-warming incumbant senators in the democratic primaries you couldn't because the actual democratic responsibility for killing the bill was hidden - no one actually had to go on record as voting for more global warming.

Same thing with the public option. They didn't even have a vote in the senate, so while you could say it "didn't have the votes" (which isn't true, the healthcare law is composed of two bills, one of which is the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 which passed the senate with 56 votes - the public option could have been included with that bill, but wasn't)

It's one of the more obnoxious aspects of the way the democratic party operates. Rather then holding real votes on the issue, decisions are made behind the scenes shielding more "conservative" (read pro-whatever-lobbyists-are paying-them-to-think - there is no way the mandate is more "conservative" then the public option: but it was obviously far more corporate friendly)

Anyway, let's not pretend the democratic party isn't massively culpable for the failure to do anything about global warming.
posted by delmoi at 6:14 AM on July 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Our climate data sets are 200 years old
at the oldest. Highest resolution starts from 1961.

Homo Sapiens have been burning large swaths of forest for 195,000 years

Our planet is 4,500,000,000 years old

We lack a complete enough data set to make definitive causal conclusions vis a vis humans and climate.

That doesn't really matter thought cause it's getting hot as shit and all the stuff we like (food animals etc...) stuff is dying or catching on fire or getting hit with tornadoes because it's getting hotter. Also it doesn't make any sense to burn stuff if we don't have to. So just reframe the debate away from ecological conservation toward being "fiscally responsible" that would work.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 6:18 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Homo Sapiens have been burning large swaths of forest for 195,000 years

Yes, but we've been pulling long-dead, liquified forests and animals out of the ground and burning those in great quantity only for about the past 100 years.
posted by hippybear at 6:23 AM on July 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


Romney: “I really do believe that the EPA wants to get its hands on all of energy and be able to crush it to cause prices to go through the roof.”

To what end? This Is some whack-job black helicopter conspiracy theory bullshit. The entire EPA is just run by thousands of people ( regular Americans) who just all hate America so much that they've collectively colluded to destroy it, despite being Americans themselves? How can ears hear this stuff and not listen?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:23 AM on July 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'd be really surprised to see climate change be an issue in the election.

There is zero political appetite for taxes or quotas on carbon consumption high enough to reduce consumption materially.

Nuclear is untouchable because of Fukushima.

Obama is hoping alternatives and transit investments don't become much of an issue, because if they do it'll be Romney-aligned super PACs and 401(c)(4)'s unloading on him for the nasty crony politics of Solyndra, the California train to nowhere, and the like.

And of course, as I've said before, there's absolutely no chance of a serious discussion about re-urbanization -- probably the best tool for reducing carbon by voluntary means -- because most Republicans have no interest in urbanization and Democrats on the whole continue staunchly to support the policies and institutions that keep urban living and workign unpopular.
posted by MattD at 6:26 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Homo Sapiens have been burning large swaths of forest for 195,000 years

Also: human populations have been constant forever, previously sequestered carbon doesn't exist, the industrial revolution never happened and I am a teapot.
posted by pompomtom at 6:41 AM on July 15, 2012 [48 favorites]


> The entire EPA is just run by thousands of people ( regular Americans) who just all hate America so much that they've collectively colluded to destroy it, despite being Americans themselves?

Yes. There you have the Red State conservative view of the EPA, in a nutshell. Romney's playing to his audience. They really do believe that there is a fifth column of American communists who hate America so much they want to destroy it - perhaps for their Soviet masters. (That last part is never examined, so it can happily survive the actual disappearance of the Soviet Union with no cognitive dissonance at all.)
posted by Michael Roberts at 6:42 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


To what end? This Is some whack-job black helicopter conspiracy theory bullshit.

It's part of the typical republican strategy of courting the most gullible voters. It's a dog whistle to the Infowars fans who'd rather vote for Ron Paul. Romney is saying, you know what guys? I know about the UN backed Illuminati fake climate change depopulation scheme too! I'm one of you.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:45 AM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Our planet is 4,500,000,000 years old
And you know what the climate has been all over the place At one point the entire planet was covered in ice. At other times the earth was much warmer, and the oceans were meters higher (that's one of the reasons you can find fossils of ancient ocean life on land)
Obama is hoping alternatives and transit investments don't become much of an issue, because if they do it'll be Romney-aligned super PACs and 401(c)(4)'s unloading on him for the nasty crony politics of Solyndra, the California train to nowhere, and the like.
Here's a climate change mitigation policy that might be popular: Free Tesla model X for every American!

But yeah really, that's one of the most obnoxious aspects of the republican party. They're so anti-green that they're actually anti-corporate if the company is making green tech. China subsidizes their solar industry, and as a result they are by far the world leader. Rather then continue subsidizing our own industry, we're now Putting tariffs on solar panels! Can you imagine a more destructive policy? Rather then try to compete with the Chinese for a market that's going to be huge over the next few decades we're shoving our heads in the sand and actually making panels more expensive. And to top it off, more people work installing panels in the US then producing them, so it's likely that these tariffs could do more to kill jobs then protect them!
posted by delmoi at 6:59 AM on July 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


Wired reviews 'BEFORE THE LIGHTS GO OUT' and interviews the author
One of the things I like most about the book — and here’s where climate change comes in — is that Maggie explores how many reasons people have for responding to the energy crisis, and makes clear that people don’t have to believe in the “big idea” of a crisis before they are willing to take action to defuse it. She starts the book, in fact, with a vignette of a man who flatly declares, “Climate change is a lie,” and yet drives a hybrid car and uses only CFL bulbs. That seemed to me an important insight that could be carried over to antibiotic resistance, agriculture — any number of big, tangled policy questions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:09 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's part of the typical republican strategy of courting the most gullible voters. It's a dog whistle to the Infowars fans who'd rather vote for Ron Paul.

So, a typically cynical bald-faced lie.

"I believe" do seem to be keywords here - -when spoken by Romney, they tend to be followed by the outrageous bullshit flavor of the week, interest-group tuned vote-getting platitude that he does not, in fact, believe. The two words offer him an out so that he can tune what he believes in the future, to suit the next multi-marketed strategic focus vote gathering opportunity.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:12 AM on July 15, 2012


There is so much at stake with climate change, and so many positive/economic opportunities in the green movement that I think any pol is a fool to not jump on it. Why not be prudent? Why not try to galvanize the public to try to tackle the biggest challenge it's faced since the Great Depression (or in all of history?) Why not try to reinvigorate American ingenuity? Why not try to help save the planet?

Maybe it's all them good corporate dollars?
posted by nowhere man at 7:31 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our climate data sets are 200 years old

You are misinformed. You might as well show up claiming pi=3.
posted by humanfont at 7:42 AM on July 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


hot weather could become politically noticeable.

I am not sure what this means, beyond possibly campaigning politicians at a barbecue mopping their brow in a folks gesture. As someone pointed out once before on the blue, conservative politicians will deny climate change and criticize radical environmental scientists for fear-mongering until the evidence becomes incontrovertible, at which time they will move on to blaming environmental scientists for doing nothing about it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:45 AM on July 15, 2012


It's a dog whistle to the Infowars fans who'd rather vote for Ron Paul. Romney is saying, you know what guys? I know about the UN backed Illuminati fake climate change depopulation scheme too! I'm one of you.

Best take a better look at the tag that was attached to that whistle cuz it ain't a dog whistle. It might be a cat call.

A theme of "infowarriors" is individual liberty - be that curtailed via government or corporations and how is Romney not an expression of corporations and corporate power? How does Romney square with someone who speaks the truth?


The number one link from google inforwars corporate power - calls for the power of Government to control corps.

state-power-can-hold-corporate-monopolies-accountable - Infowars
Corporate monopolies can only exist through government intervention.


On that search page, a concern about Corporate accountability - and the use of government power to remove that.

www.infowars.com/trans-pacific-partnership-corporate-escape-from-...
Jul 2, 2012 – The TPP has been called a “one-percenter” power tool. The agreement essentially abolishes the accountability of foreign corporations to ...


How about the question framing below - tyranny not by government but Corporations.

Infowars Contest Entries: Freedom Advocates Take the Power Back ...
musicians4freedom.com/.../infowars-contest-entries-freedom-advocat...
Infowars Contest Entries: Freedom Advocates Take the Power Back! July 11, 2012 by Vengeancia ... Are you still consenting to US Corporation tyranny?


If you want the 'infowars' "dog whistle" there is one already in this FPP thread. (re-urbanization)
Things like Agenda 21, some urban planning aspects and things like how 70% of Carbon reduction programs don't go to actual Carbon reduction. The use of Government power to enrich Corporations - there is your 'infowarrior' whistle.

But more to the Alex point:

Alex has the Clinton body count, did some GW Bush is evil DVDs and has at least one Obama is evil DVD. Why would Romney think that the woofing dog of Alex would somehow come when called and be brought to heel? Not like we'll get to see Alex bite the hand of President Ron Paul, but I can't imagine Paul would ever live up to what the Paulites think he can do. And with those feet of clay Alex would bite the hand of the golem.

And to give you all something to think about:
Some of you might not remember the effort to make the environment part of the Constitution. Instead of the highest law of the land, ya'll got the EPA. If you don't think the political process of Replucrats and Dempublicans are getting things done WRT the environment, go to the old folks home where the old hippies who worked on getting a Constitutional amendment for the environment are and figure out what you can do today to pick up where they left off after being sold out.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:50 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]




Could global warming become an election issue?

No, because it will be much, much cooler by November.
What global warming?
posted by orme at 9:00 AM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]




Our climate data sets are 200 years old. ... We lack a complete enough data set to make definitive causal conclusions vis a vis humans and climate.

If there's one thing I wish for this debate, it would be to eradicate this notion that people noticed it was getting warmer lately, and concluded it must be because of anthropogenic CO2. That's a weak-ass connection, and I would be skeptical of that too. But that's not what global warming is about.

See, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, trapping heat in the atmosphere. This is an indisputable scientific fact. We have spent the last century burning fossil fuels as fast as we can get them out of the ground, which releases copious amounts of CO2. Thanks to ice cores, we can see that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have fluctuated between about 150 and 300 ppm for the last 800,000+ years, and the Earth's temperature has tended to correspond with CO2 concentration. Over the last century, we've seen the CO2 concentration jump to nearly 400 ppm. Again, the planet has not seen this level of CO2 in over 800,000 years. What is unique about the last century? It's not volcano activity, or solar radiation, or any of the other things people bring up in global warming discussions. It's fucking industrialization.

So when we see temperature records being broken right and left, instead of responding with, "See, this supports the hypothesis that global warming is happening!" I'd prefer, "No shit. We turned on the oven, of course it's getting hot inside."
posted by gueneverey at 9:13 AM on July 15, 2012 [47 favorites]


China subsidizes their solar industry, and as a result they are by far the world leader. Rather then continue subsidizing our own industry, we're now Putting tariffs on solar panels! Can you imagine a more destructive policy?

I've noticed this sort of classical economic why-aren't-we-competing-harder? slant on the global solar biz start to pop up in various places, so I feel the need to point out that the Chinese weren't simply making their fine little panels at a low competitive price like good little capitalists. It's been well known among solar makers outside China since at least 2009, when I first heard it from German manufacturers, that China was flooding the market with panels so heavily subsidized they were being sold at prices well below production cost. (As noted here, among other places.)

Selling stuff for less than it costs to make is exactly the kind of thing trade laws and policies and tariffs were developed to deal with. You can be sure if Chinese manufacturers were making exact copies of BMWs and Ford F150s and dumping them on the world market well below cost, there'd be full-on punitive trade war.

Should the US government be much more supportive of its domestic solar industry? Hell yes. Should western governments across the board be a little more concerned that many of them are simply pissing away the cleantech business to an authoritarian dictatorship that still espouses what we claim to be the antithesis of our guiding ideology? Hell yes there as well. Was it gross political opportunism for Germany's Angela Merkel to use a that's-just-competition argument to slash Germany's solar tariff and gut its solar industry as it was struggling to innovate its way beyond the cheap Chinese panel flood? Also hell yes.

But the idea that the Chinese are winning at our good ole capitalist game and not their centralized-state-industry one is simply false.
posted by gompa at 9:34 AM on July 15, 2012 [5 favorites]




Michael Mann seems somewhat disappointed in Obama's failure to lead on this issue.

Mann did a series of five interviews on climate change recently. Here's Part 1, with links to the rest: ‘New McCarthyism’ Described by Climate Scientist Michael Mann
posted by homunculus at 10:17 AM on July 15, 2012


Bill Nye - Could climate change be wildfire cause?

Ouch. Harpy alert.
posted by goethean at 10:18 AM on July 15, 2012


I used to think that at some point climate change would get so catastrophic that a (CF) lightbulb would go on for humans, and we would change our consumptive habits and our financial systems and lead fuller, more environmentally-tuned lives. Then the banking crisis hit and it was so complicated that nobody dared pin-point one exact cause or one specific villain (other than Madoff, I guess), and the U.S. government passed some bill that didn't prevent Chase from losing billions of dollars or millions of people losing their homes... and now I realize that climate change, even though it will increase rates of disease and periodically destroy harvests and flood major cities and cause trillions of dollars in damage over the next century - even despite that, we're just all going to be a little more miserable, although, of course, poor people will be more miserable than rich people, and nothing will change because there's no clear, direct, one-way fix for this that politicians can wrap their mind around. In fact, we'll probably get the CEO of Exxon as president because who else could better understand the very complicated issues of carbon that are at play?
posted by one_bean at 10:35 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, because it will be much, much cooler by November.
What global warming?


Sadly, I've realized that a lot of the people I share the planet with think in these terms. Maybe if it was 95º on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, it would actually make people realize there's a problem. People didn't realize that littering was a problem until they looked around and saw all the shit everywhere ruining parks and public spaces.

So the energy companies will spend money denying there's a problem in order to protect their profits. They'll warn of loss of jobs and higher taxes is we take steps to limit the contribution we're making to climate change. They'll probably make it all patriotic sounding to so you're a goddamn commie if you think we should do something about climate change.

And a least in this country, there's a significant number of people that believe Jesus is coming back in their lifetimes so there's nothing to worry about. Those are the people R-Money and Obama are placating in their campaigns.

If I'm this cynical now, I can't imagine how bad I'll be when I'm a crotchety old man.
posted by birdherder at 10:38 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


the typical republican strategy of courting the most gullible voters

Oh, come on. Like Democrats don't? Democrats do such courting much more imho.
posted by caclwmr4 at 12:36 PM on July 15, 2012


Romney knows, he just doesn't give a shit.
This, because fuck everyone else, the corporations he's tight with will continue to net him big bucks. If things go to hell in his lifetime, or his families' lifetimes, they'll all be able to afford to buy land, water, AC, whatever.

As far as Romney's 'believe' that's so much horseshit. Even pols that promise to act often renege on their promises, so his 'believe' isn't worth his hot air.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:38 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Democrats do such courting much more imho.

That's why Democrats go after people that don't believe in global warming, don't believe in evolution, don't believe in contraception, ... Except that's the Republican party.
posted by inigo2 at 12:55 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


homunculus, thanks for the Michael Mann interview. Worth watching if you're interested in the relationships between science journalism and the political process. And more... although ABC's video player is crap.
posted by sneebler at 1:21 PM on July 15, 2012


As if Obama or his government gives a fuck about climate change. He and Romney - cant aside - are indistinguishable in this respect, and the fucking US has been arguably the most active saboteur of efforts to achieve international action.

If a US government actually demonstrated - not even an appropriate level, but - a minimal level of concern about climate, as a world we would be right now where we won't get for at least ten years, and probably more like fifteen or twenty. Fuck Obama and Romney: history will condemn them both (and my own pathetic government) as shitty do-nothing cretins, wilfully fiddling whilst the world burns. Ugh.
posted by smoke at 3:23 PM on July 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


hot weather could become politically noticeable.

I am not sure what this means, beyond possibly campaigning politicians at a barbecue mopping their brow in a folks gesture.


What I meant by that is very long periods of heat could become viscerally noticeable enough to provoke calls for a political response. Basically, "it's been fucking hot for months! Can't somebody do something about that?"

It's pretty easy to deny climate change when it's an abstract concern about the future, but when there are unusual weather patterns that are killing your crops and burning your forests and making you feel like shit ("another day of 110 degree temperatures??") a previously preferred position ("it's not happening! Na na na na na, I can't hear you.") might quickly change.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Yet.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, there's Jill Stein and the Green Party if one wants global warming addressed before it's too late:

Please, please don't think that voting Green will in any way increase the chances of this issue being better addressed in the near OR distant future. The best way to get it addressed is to elect a president and a sufficient number of congress members who believe this is an issue that needs to be addressed now. Tossing the election to R-Money will not help now or in the foreseeable future.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:16 PM on July 15, 2012


You know... the R-Money thing is cute and clever, but doesn't really have much place in intelligent discussion on any topic.
posted by hippybear at 8:35 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best way to get it addressed is to elect a president and a sufficient number of congress members who believe this is an issue that needs to be addressed now. Tossing the election to R-Money will not help now or in the foreseeable future.

Hah. Like Democrat politicians give a shit about global warming. They only want to count the votes and move on, just like the Republicans.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:33 PM on July 15, 2012


Whether they actually care is immaterial. The only hope we have of steering the ship of state is for each of us to haul on the ropes as hard as we can. We can only alter the course by a fraction of a degree per election, but every election pissed away with protest votes makes things slightly worse instead of slightly better.

It's not a great hope, but it is the only game in town for people who can't or won't engage in direct activism.
posted by Rat Spatula at 11:39 PM on July 15, 2012


Calling a vote a "protest" vote dismisses the rights of voters to choose candidates on their merits and makes a mockery of a democracy and the ideals of fair representation. Democrats don't care much more about the environment than their counterparts across the aisle, and the Keystone XL pipeline debacle is a good recent example of that, with support from former Pres. Clinton, current Pres. Obama and several Democratic Senators in key states. While Republicans get the lion's share of energy lobbyist funding, Democrats get paid off, too. The only thing the new left is good at when it comes to environmental issues is greenwashing of their record. At least Republicans are halfway honest about why they oppose regulation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the first 6 months of 2012 have been the warmest ever in the USA. Check out these city by city statistics. The "Haywood plots" help show how far above the cumulative mean temperature, day by day, January-June 2012 was compared to all other years on record. And based on the way it feels outside my front door this morning, July is just following along. It is amazing how this extreme warmth has included almost the entire country......with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, and the cities along the Pacific coast (you guys are so chill). 2012 is redefining the upper limit of the envelope of data.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:44 AM on July 16, 2012


My opinion on the worth of someone's vote doesn't dismiss anybody's rights, merely their reasoning.
posted by Rat Spatula at 8:44 AM on July 16, 2012


Check out this pie chart of temperatures in the USA.
posted by stbalbach at 8:50 AM on July 16, 2012


It would be interesting to see those charts for the "highest low" temperatures (searching for "record high lows" just brings up record highs and record lows). The other night, Tom Skilling of WGN mentioned in passing that he was struck by the rise in the overnight low temperatures.

This correlates with our experience living in the Rocky Mountain region - 95F days are not a problem when the nights are 65F - the bad part of the heat wave is when it only "cools off" to 80F overnight.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:01 AM on July 16, 2012


There is nothing. Zero.point.nothing. That will get the rate of CO2 production down to where it must be, in time to do what's needed, except pretty much instant global impoverishment. Thousands and thousands of factories and electricity generation plants idle instead of churning out greenhouse gasses, starting now. Billions of cars and trucks parked instead of churning out greenhouse gasses, starting now. Fleets of aircraft on the ground permanently, starting now. Any economic activity that depends on producing greenhouse gasses radically reduced and kept that way permanently. Unemployment worse than the 1930s, permanently. The real new normal.

Transitioning to alternative, non-C02-producing energy sources? It took nuclear reactors thirty years to reach 20% of US electricity production. Gas turbines were producing 10% thirty years after they were introduced. There's no need for anybody's conspiracy theories--transitioning takes a long time. We don't have a long time. Rapid transitioning forced by peak oil? That's clearly not going to happen. There turns out to be an enormous amount of fossil fuel available (in forms less easy to extract than just drilling a hole and pumping.) More expensive. How will that work out? You know how, when gasoline prices rise, people don't cut back their driving? They just bitch about it and devote more of their household budgets to driving? That's how. Major energy users probably won't even bother to bitch about increased costs because they can just pass the increases along to end users. There isn't going to be any "OK, we're out of fossil fuel" day to force the transition, not for a long time. We don't have a long time.

There's a certain amount of support for voluntarily applying this feel-good bandaid or that feel-good bandaid, but actually halting the march to a hotter planet will not feel good. It will be painful for everyone and hideous for millions if not billions, and it will not happen voluntarily. (Hark, I hear Prof. Krugman calling for more stimulus, to get the economy growing again.)
posted by jfuller at 9:04 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seymour, in that chart is a column called "Unusualness" with entries like +2.2σ .. this is an important metric when tracking temperature anomalies. It is the standard deviation from the mean local temperature. Anything over +3.0σ is considered an extreme anomaly, which has happened globally on average only about 0.2% of the time in the period 1950-1980. However from 2006-1011 between 4% and 13% of the world experienced this level of anomaly. James Hanson recently published a paper about it.

But here's the thing. It's not just about air temperatures getting hotter. There are a number of factors that are making the situation even worse.

1. Soil is drying out from the hotter temps. This causes plants to hold in more water to survive. Plants normally let water evaporate through their leaves by opening pores, but when the soil is dry they hold in the water. This evaporation normally cools the air but when it's reduced the air heats up more. It is a significant amount, ever notice how cold deserts get at night and hot during the day, this is partly a result of lack of vegetation to moderate the air through evaporation.

2. Jet stream is weakening due to the poles heating up. The difference in temperatures between the poles and tropics is lessening, meaning the speed and strength of the jet stream is slowing. This causes weather blocking patterns where the jet stream gets stuck in a position and won't move. It can cause extended heat waves, or extended rain events, or extended cold events ie. extreme weather.

There may be additional knock on effects as things get warmer. Is El Nino going to become more extreme? We're not sure yet, but seems likely. Climate is not weather is the old saying but climate expresses itself through the language of weather.
posted by stbalbach at 9:10 AM on July 16, 2012


Due to the drought and heat, the corn sex isn't going well in Illinois and Indiana.
The area covered by the [natural disaster] declaration includes most of the Southwest, which has been affected by wildfires, as well as the Southeast and the southern and eastern parts the Corn Belt, mainly Illinois and Indiana. Iowa, the biggest U.S. producer of the grain, is not included.

About 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop, the world’s biggest, was in good or excellent condition as of July 8, down from 48 percent a week earlier and the lowest for this time of year since a drought in 1988, the USDA said July 9. More temperatures in the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius) are expected next week from the Midwest to the Northeast, Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, said today.

The low-interest loans and penalty reductions provided for by the disaster declarations will cost the government $4 million, Vilsack said. They are among the “limited tools” the USDA has to help farmers with drought, Vilsack said.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2012










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