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The greatest sandy disaster of our time
November 16, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

October 2012 is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature. If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. State of the Climate: Global Analysis October 2012 (NOAA). While $50 billion Sandy has had the spotlight, the biggest natural disaster of 2012 (in the US) has been the Great Drought still ongoing which is expected to cut America's GDP by 0.5 to 1% for the year. The death toll from the heat waves that accompanied this year's drought will exceed that of Sandy. This Sunday and Monday, Ken Burns premiers his new documentary "The Dust Bowl", on PBS. (via)
posted by stbalbach (42 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
A Lake Wobegon climate, where all the monthly temperatures are above average.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:05 AM on November 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


blah blah blah petraeus blah blah sex scandal blah blah
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:10 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Give it time! In a few years, we will realize that those years were below average. Because that's what they will look like when the oceans are boiling.

More seriously, though, where can you get average temperatures broken down per-state? I have a hard time believing that the last four years have lacked any months in Washington state that were below average in temperature.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:11 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone living in a very conservative patch of Texas, my daily life is so disconnected from any kind of dialogue about climate change. I know it will shape the human experience for decades to come, but it simply isn't welcome in the popular awareness down here.
posted by 221bbs at 11:14 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been watching this picture grow steadily worse over the past eighteen months...

Maybe the regressives in the Republican party will finally be willing to start talking about climate change when they can no longer afford food...
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:22 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Remember we're talking month, not day - so you might have a month with some rather bad days, even beating record cold, perhaps, but if the overall trend is higher, than that month will, of course, overall, be higher than average.

Our memories are so weird, of course, it's so easy to forget that things were like a decade or two ago.
--------
Funny, how people in Texas might not wanna talk about climate change, yet, it seems that weather is always such a topic of conversation amongst "simple folk" (perhaps due to farming being such a big part of the country life?) or at least amongst strangers. So we'll talk til we're blue in the mouth about weather, because that's just right here, right now, and maybe for the coming year a little something for the crops, but long term thinking on it is just more than one wants to have to deal with (or would rather let their political views obscure the actual facts on the ground - consequences be damned).
posted by symbioid at 11:22 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Maybe the regressives in the Republican party will finally be willing to start talking about climate change when they can no longer afford food...

If it gets to that point they'll probably be talking about invading Canada.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:28 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


No way! April was chilly! Ergo global warming is a hoax.
posted by Mister_A at 11:53 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can anyone advise how to watch the new Ken Burns mentioned here without standard TV connectionality? Online or through an online service?

There's got to be some way to cool this all down and profit enough people will DO it.
posted by tilde at 11:59 AM on November 16, 2012


I found the hand-wringing to procure gasoline (instead of maybe some new found motivation to just get off the stuff) a discouraging part of the whole Sandy saga. On the other hand, politicians finally acknowledging that such superstorms are likely tied to climate change (albeit using somewhat fuzzy language) was one of the brighter points.
posted by nowhere man at 12:04 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's got to be some way to cool this all down and profit enough people will DO it.

News like this gives me hope.

posted by mmrtnt at 12:11 PM on November 16, 2012


Here's how it will go with ignorant-of-climate change conservatives:

"The LIEbrals say each month is warmer than the last. But yesterday was the coldest day on record in [conservative state] and the weather reports say we're in for a severely cold week. Climate-change my ass."

Then they will read propaganda from Fox News, Infowars, and a slew of conservative blogs citing research from discredited scientists on the payroll of "think tanks" like the Cato Institute, and others with words like "Prestige," "Heritage," "Tradition," etc. in their names...

Not understanding basic science is cool because science is for elitist latte drinkers who don't get their hands dirty like Real Americans.

*Sigh*
posted by jnnla at 12:13 PM on November 16, 2012


Can anyone advise how to watch the new Ken Burns mentioned here without standard TV connectionality? Online or through an online service?

I imagined it'll be on this new-fangled thing called a 'PBS website', where most of the stuff PBS shows is available for at least a while (like >= a week) after broadcast.
posted by hoyland at 12:28 PM on November 16, 2012


On Christmas day last year it rained where I live. Rained! WTH!
Not that I'm complaining. After all shocking weather here is usually more along the lines a 2ft dump of snow followed by a plummet to -35C. (According to records, the average temp for Dec. 25rd is suppose to be -12C to -7C.)

Rain? I'll take that over -20C but then I don't live on the coast.
posted by Gwynarra at 12:32 PM on November 16, 2012


"If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average" is not a valid conclusion of a report on global temperature averages. See this global map from the study for regional anomalies: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/map-blended-mntp/201210.gif
posted by King Sky Prawn at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2012


King Sky Prawn, that's only if you're talking locally. I believe the FPP is talking about global averages (i.e. cancelling out the pink boxes with blue and vice versa, you'd end up with more pink than blue).
posted by Xoder at 12:38 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Xoder - Persons "27 years old or younger", like most human beings, live locally, not globally (ideals aside). But I get your point.
posted by King Sky Prawn at 12:40 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This trend is bound to continue because 1) humans are not even close to having the political will to stop contributing to global warming or pursue unprofitable means of mitigating the effects, and 2) positive climate change feedback mechanisms may already be past the point where even the strongest possible human counteractions would not be enough to reverse them.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:48 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Rain? I'll take that over -20C but then I don't live on the coast.

I swear I read an Onion article titled "Catastrophic Global Climate Change Results In Pleasant Autumn Day" or something like that, but I can't find it on their site.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:13 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


They have a website? On the interwebs? Thanks, man! (but srsly, I haven't been watching PBS since I could get New Who on Netflix).
posted by tilde at 1:36 PM on November 16, 2012


I fit right in that demographic, having just turned 27 years old earlier this week. I can't say that I ever remember experiencing a month colder than average (colder day's certainly), but then again I don't pay attention to weather trends all that much. I have experienced months that are warmer than average. July and August were brutal! Even September was unusually hot.

Recently, however, the weather here in Utah has been kinda strange. We got dumped on by a few storms after which temperatures dropped significantly, but mere days after we are having some unseasonably warm days. That tells me that climate change is effecting the world, and last time I checked even local weather was a part of the world as a whole.
posted by PipRuss at 1:42 PM on November 16, 2012


Ultimately, you have to be a special order of crazy if you think that the Quadrennial Defense Review of 2010 has a liberal bias.

" The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies, reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters. Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows.

REFORMING HOW WE DO BUSINESS
Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration."

posted by Freen at 1:53 PM on November 16, 2012


I've been watching this picture grow steadily worse over the past eighteen months...

No kidding. But we got rain here and for the first time since whenever my county is colored orange instead of red.
posted by dhartung at 3:39 PM on November 16, 2012


“We Would Never Propose A Carbon Tax,” Says White House Spokesman. Lucky for us the pro-science, reality-based candidate won.
posted by gerryblog at 4:03 PM on November 16, 2012


1) Once you explain to Joe-sixpack the difference between climate and weather, then the pattern of gradual global warming becomes evident and maybe we can get some sensible legislation.

But:

2) Try telling 1 billion Chinese and 1 billion Indians that they should halt modernizing their societies when the Western world never had to because of the danger to humanity and watch their reaction.

Finally:

3) In my heart of hearts, human related climate change is no different than when cyanobacteria shat out a bunch of O2 and changed the climate of the earth billions of years ago, paving the way for modern life. It is an inevitable price of development and we are probably just paving the way for a new eon in the history of the Earth.
posted by Renoroc at 4:38 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]




> But:

2) Try telling 1 billion Chinese and 1 billion Indians that they should halt modernizing their societies when the Western world never had to because of the danger to humanity and watch their reaction.


Renoroc, I know it's a bit rich to say to developing industrial economies "do as we say, not as we did", but Australia is in cohorts with India, China and Russia and all appreciate the need to develop new clean-energy technologies, and have medium-term goals to that end.

China and Russia have wind farms already (and lord only knows what else) and manufacture their own hardware. India is either about to commence with wind farming (or has completed project), and India is big on uranium.

Australia has a high price on carbon that the regressive Right says is forcing up electricity prices when in (almost) fact, so many Australias are off the grid -- using solar, that electricity providers are feeling the pinch.

One of Gillard's major concerns for Australia's future jobs is that the West won't keep the lead in the research and development required for future societies. She's pumping money into education, and forcing change here. (Yes, we have an opposition party waiting in the wings to bring it all asunder.)

If nothing else, China and Russia have leadership stability -- ideal for long-term national planning.

Already China and Russia are producing wind mills and solar panels at competitive rates. (Obama/Clinton know all of this and are supposed to have pivoted this way as a priority. The clock's ticking, and they're way late to the party, and Israel's on the phone again.)


Look into China, Russia and India; I feel certain you'll find knowledgeable contemporaries interested in friendship, peace and prosperity.
posted by de at 6:05 PM on November 16, 2012


I tend to think that the solution to the CO2 crisis is a combined effort to reduce emissions in western nations (currently the biggest offenders) to delay the immediate crisis and a huge push for sustainability research to improve non-carbon power sources. China and India won't be stopped from modernizing their societies, but they might be convinced to modernize them in a way that doesn't pump tons of carbon into the atmosphere, if it isn't too much more expensive.

Also, I think we need to research geo-engineering right now, as much as we possibly can. It's the last resort, but we are rapidly approaching the point of last resort. Even if we halt emissions, we'll need to find a way to undo the damage we've already done.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:07 PM on November 16, 2012


> but they might be convinced to modernize them in a way that doesn't pump tons of carbon into the atmosphere

China and India are aware and are wanting in.
(Why else would India agree to Walmart on ever Indian street corner? </joke>)
posted by de at 6:11 PM on November 16, 2012


Want the good news or the bad news first?

China's wind power is in the black (so it can be profitable!).
They may have captured the world market.

China Wind Power forum: Growing global influence

China Ming Yang Wind Power Group's CEO Discusses Q3 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript
"With the help of our total solutions offerings in offshore wind power, and the demonstration effect of offshore wind power development in Guangdong region, we strongly believe that we are poised to become leaders offshore wind power investment in both China and the rest of the world."
posted by de at 6:55 PM on November 16, 2012


I'll get my coat
posted by de at 6:58 PM on November 16, 2012


If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger

I would like to state for the record that is possible to be 27 years old and born before April of '85.

/December always gets forgotten.

As for global warming, yes, after the Winter That Wasn't (in an area that is well versed in viciously cold temps and howling blizzards, this came as quite a shock), a very early spring (in March) and a devastatingly warm summer (that extended from April to October) even the doubters in this area have started to take another look. This is farm country--of the million dollar variety--and this summer's drought was devastating to farmers.

On the other hand, I believe thus far North America hasn't been afflicted by nearly as much drought as Australia. I can see why folks there would want to reduce fossil fuel dependence tout suite.
posted by librarylis at 7:41 PM on November 16, 2012


Maybe the regressives in the Republican party will finally be willing to start talking about climate change when they can no longer afford food...

HAHAHAhahahaHOHOhahahoho. Haha. Ho. Ha.

No.
posted by eurypteris at 9:08 PM on November 16, 2012


“We Would Never Propose A Carbon Tax,” Says White House Spokesman. Lucky for us the pro-science, reality-based candidate won.

He is referring to a direct carbon tax. He is not excluding the more politically acceptable solution that Obama has proposed, cap-and-trade, which can accomplish the same goal. Cap and trade has been pretty successful in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions from coal fired plants.
posted by JackFlash at 9:47 PM on November 16, 2012


> Obama has proposed, cap-and-trade, which can accomplish the same goal.

Don't hold your breath. Obama may have been doing a Romney.
Obama shifts stance on environmental issues (2008)
posted by de at 11:34 PM on November 16, 2012


He is referring to a direct carbon tax. He is not excluding the more politically acceptable solution that Obama has proposed, cap-and-trade, which can accomplish the same goal. Cap and trade has been pretty successful in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions from coal fired plants.

Even if he is serious about cap and trade, it is a huge blunder to preemptively take direct carbon taxes off the table. I had hoped that in his second term, Obama would be bolder. Now, it looks like we're in for more milquetoast negotiations over policy positions that start in the center, move to right, and are then roundly criticized as "socialist." If their party weren't filled to the brim with whack-a-doodles, cap and trade would be the Republican position, for crying out loud.

Having killed bin Laden, Obama ought to replace the war on terror with a campaign to stop global climate change and ocean acidification. Obama ought to be comparing the problems of dealing with climate change to the moon landing or World War II. He ought to be daring us to innovate and to sacrifice. He ought to be calling us to arms.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:59 AM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


He ought to be daring us to innovate and to sacrifice.

I think he has.
"The [$90 billion stimulus] energy stuff wasn’t just big, it was ginormous. Clinton pushed a five-year, $6 billion clean energy bill that went nowhere. 10 years later, $90 billion in the guy’s first month in office. Plus it leveraged another $100 billion in private money. Obama promised that he would double renewable power generation during his first term, and he did. For advanced biofuels, [the stimulus bill] created this $800 million program that essentially financed new refineries. And so you got the first 18 advanced biofuel refineries in the country just through that 1 percent of the clean energy funding. There was also a whole geothermal technology program that went from about $20 million a year to $400 million. It’s leading right now to a real boom in geothermal production. The $90 billion includes high-speed rail too. And there was about $25 billion for energy efficiency, which as you know is the killer app of the energy world. There was energy efficiency for America’s largest steel plant, America’s largest hospital. There was $5.5 billion through the [General Services Administration] to green federal buildings and the federal fleet, which will save taxpayers huge money in the long run. And they had $5 billion for low-income weatherization. There’s $2 billion for batteries"
Most people have no idea how huge a change Obama made with green energy through the stimulus program. All that money is still working through the system - high speed rail in CA, new battery technology developments etc
posted by stbalbach at 10:45 AM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


What Grunwald calls huge, I call a drop in the bucket. We need to be converting resources on the level of the annual military budget, 8-10x more than the stimulus spending every year until the problem is fixed. We ought to be talking about nationally-enforced rationing and converting factories to solar and wind production lines (like we did for tanks and airplanes in World War II). We ought to be selling climate bonds, like we once sold war bonds.

Yes, I recognize that these things could not be passed with the current Republican opposition. But even if the appropriate level of commitment is not currently possible in reality, it really should become the rhetoric. We need to fix this problem. It is every bit as urgent as the rise of the Nazis or the specter of global communism that led to the grotesque expenditures in the Reagan administration.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:13 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


> it really should become the rhetoric.

Yes.
posted by de at 11:59 AM on November 17, 2012


I watched the first part of the Ken Burns documentary last night and I had no idea. I've seen lots of photos, and I've read my Steinbeck, but still did not grasp the magnitude, the relentlessness of the situation. The guy crawling five blocks on his elbows with a flashlight to check on his niece. The children suffocating to death in the dust. Horrifying.
posted by HotToddy at 8:09 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed.

I spent a good part of the first part of Dustbowl just sobbing. So much tragedy.
posted by dog food sugar at 6:49 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone here read Whose Names Are Unknown? If so, how is it?
posted by homunculus at 9:26 PM on November 19, 2012


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