Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Spanish for "The Niño"
April 2, 2014 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Since January there have been signs of a possible El Niño brewing in the pacific, the first major one since 1998. While the US-funded ocean-monitoring system is in a state of partial collapse, the data has continued to grow stronger, and this may now be the largest ocean temperature anomoly ever seen. A major El Niño could significantly boost global temperatures, cause severe weather and storms, melt Arctic sea ice and help push the world into a warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, accelerating global warming. (more discussion)
posted by crayz (74 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
As much as I hate to say it, I think this would be a good thing in the long term, possibly. We need a super shitty, extra hot weather year to motivate us into taking action, although I'm still skeptical that it would be anything drastic enough to make a difference.
posted by perhapses at 11:20 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Ironically, it could be just what California needs right now: El Niño May Soak Drought-Ravaged California This Year.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:22 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]


For 5 years now the right wing noise machine has been claiming that global warming paused because temperatures did not match the El-Nino-goosed records of 1998.

An El Nino this year will give the fuckers an answer.
posted by ocschwar at 11:22 AM on April 2 [10 favorites]


We need a super shitty, extra hot weather year to motivate us into taking action

We also need one because this winter has been shitty and extra cold, and I am a popsicle in need of melting.
posted by Melismata at 11:26 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]


I'm not one to cheer for death and destruction, but the Atlantic hurricane name chart includes my name this year. My name is deep in the alphabet, there has only been one year where there were enough Atlantic storms to make it that far, and that was 2005. I am not hoping for more Katrinas and Ritas. There are always storms that don't hit anything, that zing off in weird directions. Please, please let there be at least twenty of those.
posted by troika at 11:29 AM on April 2


We need a super shitty, extra hot weather year to motivate us into taking action

I know the feeling, but it never works out this way. A big shitty thing happens and it just makes everything shittier than it was before. Sometimes (sometimes!) it gets people to do something to mitigate the shittiness, but even then it's still shitter than it would have been if the big shitty thing had never happened.

In conclusion: shit.
posted by echo target at 11:29 AM on April 2 [51 favorites]


Is A Super El Niño Coming That Will Shatter Extreme Weather And Global Temperature Records?
posted by stbalbach at 11:30 AM on April 2


As much as I hate to say it, I think this would be a good thing in the long term, possibly. We need a super shitty, extra hot weather year to motivate us into taking action, although I'm still skeptical that it would be anything drastic enough to make a difference.

How would that work? Are people going to consume less electricity during a terribly hot summer? Are businesses going to let their products deteriorate in the heat and let their customers and staff swelter? Are drivers going to stay put in their homes and businesses?

The problem isn't that people aren't taking the clear, obvious, and easy steps to mitigate or stop climate change. It's that the solution will cost a huge amount of money and make a lot of people very uncomfortable for a while, and worsening climatic conditions aren't going to make anyone more likely to make sacrifices.
posted by clockzero at 11:33 AM on April 2 [9 favorites]


Best title ever, for those of us who habla espanol.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:41 AM on April 2 [8 favorites]


Additionally, the nay-sayers against any change or mitigation are lead by people like the Heartland Institute. These are morally bankrupt think tanks that don't care about reality. Until a few years, they were still fighting the good fight, claiming that cigarettes aren't harmful nor habit forming. If it's taken them this long to give up on cigarettes, there's no way an el nino year will shut them up. It will just give them more amo if 2015 isn't an el nino (or if there's less of an effect). "Did you know global warming has not only stopped, it's reversed?! Amazing facts within!"

Despite all of the editorial cartoons of people shoveling show while rhetorically asking "What global warming?" I'll be expecting all the same sources to suddenly have a lot to say about weather today / this year vs. climate.
posted by nobeagle at 11:43 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Best title ever

It of course refers to this classic Chris Farley sketch.
posted by dis_integration at 11:43 AM on April 2 [7 favorites]


I still say we should listen to Rollins and rename El Nino to "the first four Black Sabbath albums."
posted by entropicamericana at 11:51 AM on April 2 [8 favorites]


Makes me think of the quote (E.O.Wilson?) "Life thrives best just under the temperature that causes it to become extinct" :/

DOOOOOOMED!
posted by sexyrobot at 11:57 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


We also need one because this winter has been shitty and extra cold, and I am a popsicle in need of melting.

Sure, parts of the US had its "four billion tons of white bull shit" as the guy with the flamethrower charmingly called it, and more below-zero days than we've seen in a long time.

But globally, January 2014 was still the 4th warmest on record.

February 2014 -- the "polar vortex" month -- was still half a degree above the average land surface temperature for the past century. Finland and Norway both had the second warmest February on record and Germany its 6th warmest.
posted by Foosnark at 12:00 PM on April 2 [12 favorites]


Eastern Australia only just got out of drought conditions and this shit is going to be starting again? It never lets up.
posted by Talez at 12:38 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I'm not one to cheer for death and destruction

Give it a shot, you'll always be happy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:55 PM on April 2 [6 favorites]



February 2014 -- the "polar vortex" month -- was still half a degree above the average land surface temperature for the past century. Finland and Norway both had the second warmest February on record and Germany its 6th warmest.


No surprise from me. It was 55F two hours before the 2nd vortex arrived in Boston.
posted by ocschwar at 1:04 PM on April 2


> An El Nino this year will give the fuckers an answer.

Good thought. Favorited, both on the merits and--I believe this is a first for me--as a mefi bookmark. Because if we do have a major El Niño in 2014 I want to revisit the thought regularly and see who (if anybody) changes their opinion when we have a big global temperature spike. And also who (if anybody) changes their opinion when we do not.

If any mefi old-timers think they can predict which side I'm cheering for, please bear in mind that, oops, being a rabid tree-hugger is the sole major blot on my conservative cred. I absolutely do believe that warming is a fact and that humans are responsible. But before anybody gives me even half a mefi Brownie point for that, let me tag on a couple of other jfuller attitudes on closely related issues. 1) Global economic collapse (starting almost immediately) is our only conceivable hope for reversing the warming trend, and it will not be pretty; and 2) the question "End Of All Human Life On Earth: Bad Thing?" is, as they say, still under review. Cheers!
posted by jfuller at 1:13 PM on April 2 [6 favorites]


Al Gore invented both Global Warming and the Internet because the two go hand in hand: the Internet uses lots of energy, which requires the burning of fossil fuels, the carbon emissions of which cause the earth to warm. Then people go on the Internet to disseminate the information about Global Warming, thereby completing the feedback loop, or maybe it's a vicious cycle.
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:23 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


An El Nino this year will give the fuckers an answer.

no it won't. Climate change deniers will point to something else. You will never, ever convince people who's denial of climate change (which doesn't stem from facts any way) by using data. they will point to other, also flawed, data and arguments. How many creationists have you convinced to change their minds lately?
posted by Dr. Twist at 1:26 PM on April 2 [18 favorites]


Yeah, deniers will just continue to cherry pick stats from real scientists. Also, Al Gore is fat and flies in planes.
posted by brundlefly at 1:30 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


clockzero: The problem isn't that people aren't taking the clear, obvious, and easy steps to mitigate or stop climate change.

Well, that is kind of the problem. People, and especially politicians, find it easier to just pretend the whole thing is not as serious as those alarmists at the UN keep claiming, because it means a wholesale change to our economies and the way we think about our future. Not only that, but they're being abetted by a whole cheering section full of people who earn their living claiming that "Oh, it's just a bunch of nonsense! Don't listen to those scientists - they don't know nuthin'."

And in the context of how people think about their economic lives, What to Do seems to be the farthest thing from "clear and obvious". Other than "stop electing corrupt, anti-science fools", which would be a good start in any case.
posted by sneebler at 1:31 PM on April 2


In the coming weeks, scientists will watch to see if warm water continues to flow across the Pacific into the area off South America where El Niño forms. But in a potential blow to the ongoing effort to improve forecast accuracy, their ocean-temperature data will get progressively worse. A US-funded system of data-gathering buoys known as the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array has started to break down as a result of budget cuts that have hobbled its maintenance...

Welp.

Fuck.
posted by duffell at 1:34 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


As Lao-tzu said, "The one who cuts the budget of the Tao will sever himself from its meaning."
posted by perhapses at 1:41 PM on April 2 [22 favorites]


echo target: "I know the feeling, but it never works out this way. A big shitty thing happens and it just makes everything shittier than it was before. Sometimes (sometimes!) it gets people to do something to mitigate the shittiness, but even then it's still shitter than it would have been if the big shitty thing had never happened.

In conclusion: shit.
"

---------
Looks like we got a Shit Nino, Randy!
posted by symbioid at 1:57 PM on April 2 [9 favorites]


1998 was a seriously bad year in the southwest US. Really really bad. We've never really recovered from it, and another El Niño like that would be disastrous. It was the year Los Alamos burned so badly it looked like it had been hit by a major bomb. The skies all across the region were muddy and smokey the entire summer. People had to stay inside because of it. On the flip side, the sunsets were spectacular.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:17 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Wow, that's funny timing because I literally minutes ago just walked out of a guest lecture by John Delaney of University of Washington that described the current, ongoing, really fucking huge deal NSF-funded-for-25-years Pacific Ocean networked sensor monitoring system that will give us real-time data all of the time related to events like these and whatever other sorts of things you could imagine wanting to monitor in the ocean in real time. You can read more about that project here.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:26 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


(Here's a TED talk he gave about the concept, if that's more your speed)
posted by oceanjesse at 2:32 PM on April 2


Who is the Sylvia he keeps mentioning? I am at work and maybe got distracted at some point of him explaining it?
posted by symbioid at 2:42 PM on April 2


Sorry - wait, it's Sylvia Earle, yes?
posted by symbioid at 2:43 PM on April 2


Heavy rains may cause mud slides - See Oso, Washington. Especially dangerous where Santa Ana winds fires have stripped hills of vegetation leaving nothing to hold the soil.
posted by Cranberry at 2:45 PM on April 2


"...And in the context of how people think about their economic lives, What to Do seems to be the farthest thing from "clear and obvious". Other than "stop electing corrupt, anti-science fools", which would be a good start in any case."

This really should be a major concern, because it's a security threat much more profound than the War On Terrorism. But there's no dialog going on. On either side of the issue are entrenched partisans, and the majority of people in the middle have pretty much forgotten about climate change entirely because it hasn't significantly affected them yet. Scientists are continually getting better data and a clearer picture of the apocalypse that's waiting for us thirty-fifty years down the line, but people just shrug and change the channel.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:51 PM on April 2 [7 favorites]


> Other than "stop electing corrupt, anti-science fools", which would be a good start in any case.

One would think that, if warming really is the critical issue of our time (as I believe and as has been said before, here and elsewhere), candidates who care enough about the critical issue of our time to distance themselves from the mainstream only on warming (therefore remaining mainstream on abortion, mainstream on church and state, mainstream on civil rights, mainstream on government surveillance, mainstream on women's issues, mainstream on LGBT issues, mainstream on income inequality, mainstream on gun control, and so on down the list) in the interest of getting elected in large numbers and then being in position to do something about it, because they truly believe saving the planet from burning up is more important than anything else--could be found or would put themselves forward.

No, I would not think. When it's progressives who are asked to make sacrifices that really hurt they're no more interested than, y'know, the mainstream.
posted by jfuller at 3:23 PM on April 2


'Conspiracist' climate change study withdrawn amid legal threats

Previously.
posted by brundlefly at 3:40 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


But there's no dialog going on. On either side of the issue are entrenched partisans, and the majority of people in the middle have pretty much forgotten about climate change entirely because it hasn't significantly affected them yet.

What do you mean by "the middle" here? There are people who recognize reality and the people who... you know... don't.
posted by brundlefly at 3:42 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


I mean average people who avoid thinking about this and don't understand the issue. They're not actively denying that climate change exists, but their disinterest in it makes any kind of large scale conversation impossible.

If Obama were to say that global warming was America's number one threat and he was immediately shifting, I don't know, 5% of defence spending into a crash mitigation initiative, these are the people who would think he was crazy.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:50 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


I think that in Australia's case, where everyone is across ENSO and its impacts, a hot hot year (worse than the awful one we just had), will swing public opinion back towards the urgency of economic reform. It has dropped off the radar a lot recently. The Abbott government will be seen as further out of touch with reality, and will be a single term government. Here's hoping for a Labor minority government reliant on Green support (and they get off their high horses and start compromising for good governance).
posted by wilful at 3:53 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Gotcha.
posted by brundlefly at 3:53 PM on April 2


People know about climate change, unless you live under a rock you know. They just don't give a shit because they figure they will be dead before it gets really bad. The ones it'll really impact will be their kids and grandkids and apparently people don't give a shit about them. Its the same instinct that makes people walk away from many things that they could fix but choose not to.

It baffles me but that's the observable behaviour.
posted by fshgrl at 4:07 PM on April 2


Sure, parts of the US had its "four billion tons of white bull shit" as the guy with the flamethrower charmingly called it, and more below-zero days than we've seen in a long time.

Isn't this also at least partially fallout from climate disruption (which is what I wish the branding were instead of "global warming" since it might get people's minds off the "warm" thing). I'm a meteorology dolt, but the talking weatherheads said the giant Nov-May frigid trough hovering directly over my house right now is the result of particularly lengthy and violent storm activity around Indonesia or thereabouts.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:11 PM on April 2


I nominate that "super el nino" should be called "el niño gordito"
posted by idiopath at 4:17 PM on April 2 [18 favorites]


fshgirl, I've seen the same bizarre behavior from otherwise intelligent people, though I'm starting to wonder if we've had the timescale all wrong. I used to try to comfort myself with the "eh, I'll be dead then" thinking, but it's looking like the next several decades are going to be fairly hairy in terms of weather, food shortages, people fleeing places like Bangladesh, etc.

And I can understand the perverse drive to actually root for crazy weather. Like, the derechoes that have been roaring through Central Ohio in recent years have finally convinced my folks that yes, something weird is going on with the climate. But then there are all the awful consequences of these extreme weather events on people and wildlife.

Really, I would like to wake up one of these mornings to find that "climate change" was just a bad nightmare I was having. The result of some pizza too close to bedtime, that is all.
posted by whistle pig at 4:17 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


"I'm a meteorology dolt, but the talking weatherheads said the giant Nov-May frigid trough hovering directly over my house right now is the result of particularly lengthy and violent storm activity around Indonesia or thereabouts."

My very rudimentary understanding is that weather patterns are lingering longer than they used to because the jet stream is slowing down and occasionally getting stalled. The jet stream is fueled both by Earth's rotation and the difference in temperature between the equator and the poles. With global warming the poles heat up and there's less energy available to the jet stream to push weather systems away, so they linger and we get months of the same weather instead of just weeks.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:19 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


An El Nino this year will give the fuckers an answer.

"You AGW fanatics should make up your minds. If I say it's cool you say it's weather, but if you say it's temporarily hot it's suddenly climate? It's just natural seasonal variation. You're a hysterical scare mongerer who hates civilisation and wants us all to live in grass huts. Hurr durr China and India should go first otherwise there's no point in doing anything."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:46 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


^SARCASM: Does not reflect the actual views of Jedi Councillor Wasabi.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:48 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who moved here to California about four years ago. She sort of breezily commented on how yeah it rains in winter, but it's not really any big deal.

I looked at her and said "you haven't been here during an El Niño year, have you?"
posted by ambrosia at 5:03 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


> What do you mean by "the middle" here? There are people who recognize reality and the people who... you know... don't.

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (you've heard of Yale out in CA, maybe) manages to find six categories rather than two:

Alarmed 16%
Concerned 29%
Cautious 25%
Disengaged 9%
Doubtful 13%
Dismissive 8%

Defined and described here. (Warning, .pdf link.) To dumb it down for you, "the middle" would include those who think climate change is real and happening but is not important enough to put up to the top of the must-do list compared to the many other leading issues (listed for your convenience two posts before yours) we must deal with simultaneously or first.


> If Obama were to say that global warming was America's number one threat and he was immediately shifting, I don't know,
> 5% of defence spending into a crash mitigation initiative, these are the people who would think he was crazy.

I suppose that means "instead of 100%".
posted by jfuller at 5:08 PM on April 2


(People - including me - say "I don't care, I'll be dead by the time climate change is really terrible" because we're fairly sure that there is nothing on god's green earth we can do to prevent it and almost nothing we can do to protect ourselves. It's a form of whistling in the dark.

For the past 25 years, I've watched debates about climate change happen. I used to do environmentalist activism of one kind and another, and I still pitch in with local campaigns to help out friends. But back in the late eighties, when I started hearing about all this, I said to my teenage self, "this is going to be bullshit, because based on what I know of history the people with power are going to be too greedy and regular people are going to be bamboozled and we're all screwed" and that's pretty much how it's played out, only worse. Frankly, I try not to think about what my friends' kids will be facing when they're my age, because it makes me really sad and there's nothing I can do. Oh, there's a certain amount of "chin up, get used to poverty, get all survivalist, prioritize human relations" stuff to say, but frankly, if that kind of thing really worked there would be no favelas, because the people who live in miserable poverty in slums aren't any stupider or less capable than me and if they could bootstrap themselves up, they would have.)
posted by Frowner at 5:23 PM on April 2 [13 favorites]


I nominate that "super el nino" should be called "el niño gordito"

*squawk* Yeah, uh, I'll have two el nino gorditas, one chicken and one, um, shredded beef. Do you guys have those little potato things? ... Ah, nuts. Okay, that's it. Fire sauce, please.
posted by codswallop at 5:36 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Buffalo-area chain Mighty Taco has an El Niño Burrito (1/2 pound taco beef, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes in an extra large flour tortilla). I worked there in high school and they were a hoot to make, the tortilla was massive. Like most restaurants that use the same couple of ingredients for all of the menu items there was a 'secret menu' and ours included the El Beaño, with refried beans instead of beef. I don't think I've ever seen anyone eat one without having just lost a bet.
posted by troika at 5:48 PM on April 2


What do you mean by "the middle" here? There are people who recognize reality and the people who... you know... don't.

I might be one of the folks "in the middle", who listens to some of this, but turns off a lot of it. I feel powerless to do much.

I do my part by drastically reducing what I spend on heating and electricity. For most of the winter, I kept my thermostat at 55 degrees. In the summer, I don't have any form of air conditioning. I don't have a frig. Except for my computer and my microwave, I use very little electricity. I do eat much more than my fair share and I'm overweight. If I had more self-control, I'd change this, but no luck so far. I admit I don't use public transportation as much as I should. But I still drive a 2003 car, and when it dies, I expect to go back to bus and light-rail. I live in a very small house. I almost never water my lawn. I rarely ever buy new clothes. I don't travel. A lot of this is due to drastically reduced income over the last seven years. It's pretty easy to live lightly on the earth when you don't have much to spend.

I first heard a lot of talk about climate change, like everyone else, when An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006. What I heard was that we must all drastically change our lifestyle RIGHT FUCKING NOW or it will be too late and we will be completely fucked. I continued to hear this message year after year, and I saw that nothing changed. By now, I assume that we are truly fucked, and that even if drastic lifestyle changes were made tomorrow by everyone (and I know by now that they won't) that it's too late to avoid catastrophe.

It seems to me by this point we should be talking about schemes to capture and contain the carbon already in the atmosphere. Of course this should be done along side of all the necessary lifestyle changes. But if what I've been told since 2006 is true, then lifestyle changes alone won't save us by this point.

I'm not stupid. I know that these possible schemes are very dangerous and very likely to cause even bigger problems. But if everything I've been told is true, I don't see what choice we have.

I assume that financing these schemes would require massive investment. Which appears to be a no-no to the right. They'd rather go down with the ship then spend any money on pumps.

And I don't really understand why the left never seems to want to talk about these, admittedly, very dangerous schemes. If everything they've said over the last decade is true, I don't see how we can save ourselves without some kind of massive carbon capture and containment plans.

So, yes, I'll listen for five minutes to the latest climate change story, but since neither the right or the left are making any sense to me, and since I really only believe the left, I assume that it's too late and we are fucked, and nothing can be done, so I turn it off and go back to my life.

And at fifty-eight years old, I've lived thru several different "we must fix this right fucking now or we'll all going to die" scenarios that never really played out.

We must ban the bomb, or we're all going to die. It might happen, but it hasn't happened yet.

We must ban all nuclear power stations or we're all going to die. It might happen, but it hasn't happened yet.

We must stop exploding population or we're all going to die. Hasn't happened yet. And yes, I realize that expanding populations of well-off people is causing the current problem.

We're going to run out of oil in x number of years and we're all going to die. Hasn't happened yet. Of course, if this one had only happened 20 years ago like they said, we wouldn't be having to deal with the current problem.

Because I believe the left and not the right, this time just like all the other times, I think they're right, and we're fucked and we're all going to die. But a little part of me remembers all those other times, and thinks while the world is in a terrible mess in way too many different ways, civilization still exists in large parts of the global land mass and maybe in spite of all the logical reasons it should disappear completely, maybe it will somehow continue to survive this calamity just as it has survived so many various calamities in the past.

I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound so dismissive. I know how very, very serious and how very, very dangerous this is. I just don't hear anyone talking about anything that I think will actually work.

[Apologies for using a sock. I just don't like discussing my financial constraints using my own name.]
posted by anon.sock.puppet at 6:06 PM on April 2 [9 favorites]


OK. So this year people will understand that climate change is real. The only question left for them will be what made god angry. -yeah- the conversation about our future is not going to get any easier.
posted by vicx at 6:37 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


What will work is getting more data. The first thing to do when solving a problem is find out what's going on. The process of finding out what's going on is dramatically different from sixty years ago. Like for example, on a macro level we have satellites and internet. And we take it for granted. Things are changing quickly, and the science has to catch up with it. Not knowing what's going on exactly, but trying to figure it out is how scientists do their jobs. I think sharing code and data publicly in the academic community is helping accelerate the rate of research and development, and I think we should be optimistic about things like that.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:51 PM on April 2


Like most restaurants that use the same couple of ingredients for all of the menu items there was a 'secret menu'

TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE MIGHTY TACO SECRET MENU.

Because when I want subpar-but-good-for-what-it-is "Mexican" food served to me by stoned teenagers, I wanna go all out.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:54 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I'm not one to cheer for death and destruction, but the Atlantic hurricane name chart includes my name this year. My name is deep in the alphabet,

El Ninos tend to create shear in the atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic. And this suppresses hurricane formation. So, we will probably have a below normal hurricane season in the Atlantic--particularly in the deep tropics. But some very bad hurricanes in the historical record to strike the US east coast did not originate in the deep tropics. They sometimes originate much closer to the US in the vicinity of the Bahamas. And the weather pattern this summer, according to some long term predictions, might favor storm formation in that area with more tracks closer to the coast. So even though the season might be below average overall, other aspects of the pattern might increase the odds of an east coast strike.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:10 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE MIGHTY TACO SECRET MENU.

It was ten years ago so I don't remember much...most things were just adding bbq pork or nacho cheese, or making quesadillas (no idea as to why those aren't on the menu, everything you'd need for them is right there). Also, the hot sauce is just medium sauce, but more of it. And the sour cream dispenser was a caulking gun.
posted by troika at 7:10 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


vicx: "OK. So this year people will understand that climate change is real. The only question left for them will be what made god angry. -yeah- the conversation about our future is not going to get any easier."

No, not even. It doesn't matter, you see, because Jesus is coming back, and the earth will be destroyed after 7 years of tribulation and the millennia of peace after Christ's glorious return, and a new heaven and earth will be fashioned altogether, so, it's really irrelevant, earth is fucked.

May as well get rich or die trying, PRAISE JESUS!
posted by symbioid at 7:15 PM on April 2


58 y.o., no kids here, and i don't see any way out of this. tragedy of the commons. if humanity consisted just of west LA and the SF bay area, we could get it on board, but there's also india and china. from the perspective of the rest of earth's biota, their best chance of escaping peril is a massive human die-off, on the order of 80-90 percent. i'll take my chances in the same boat with the rest of you, and i didn't pick coastal oregon for relocation in 2001 by accident.

it's gonna be everywhere though; brookings, the first coastal city north of california, recorded a 108 fahrenheit couple of years back. it was so hot, brookingsonians were checking into air-conditioned motels instead of driving home after work. the local front page featured the proprietess of one of these motels "my husband didn't want to put in AC, but i insisted, and look at us now!" +1 for elite forecasting, -1 for marital diplomacy.

108 is nothing, the santa barbara simoom of june 17, 1859 taught us it can reach 133, and carbon dioxide levels were way lower then.

space boffins, how soon can we get giant mirrors into orbit, and how much will it cost?
posted by bruce at 7:19 PM on April 2


this blog post seems incredibly overhyped, and there is a lot of disasturbating in this thread. meanwhile the NOAA is predicting a coin flip to whether it even happens:
The model predictions of ENSO for this summer and beyond are relatively unchanged from last month. Almost all the models indicate that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5oC and 0.5oC) will persist through the rest of the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014 (Fig. 6). While all models predict warming in the tropical Pacific, there is considerable uncertainty as to whether El Niño will develop during the summer or fall. If westerly winds continue to emerge in the western equatorial Pacific, the development of El Niño would become more likely. However, the lower forecast skill during the spring and overall propensity for cooler conditions over the last decade still justify significant probabilities for ENSO-neutral. The consensus forecast is for ENSO-neutral to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014, with about a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the summer or fall (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome).
source
posted by Mach5 at 7:24 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


santa barbara simoom

Had to look that one up. You don't need carbon dioxide in your gas for it to undergo adiabatic heating. I don't think that incident really figures in to any sort of global climate phenomenon.
posted by tss at 7:32 PM on April 2


I get the impulse to be all "hope this one's extra bad to show the deniers / give people a kick in the ass / make up for the terrible winter" but it also makes me cringe because, like, I don't know, tell that to a Haitian subsistence farmer or the family of someone who died (or will die) in the European heatwave.
posted by threeants at 7:35 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


My money's on this being a viral marketing campaign for Godzilla.
posted by gsteff at 7:40 PM on April 2


It is interesting that the comments here are centered on global climate change whereas the FPP is about the possibility of an emerging El Nino. It is important to note that El Nino is not some bizarre unheard of ocean-atmosphere condition. It is a periodic but normal state of the Pacific. Whether or not climate change can or will change the frequency or intensity of El Nino is a different question entirely. So I don't quite understand the logic of "a strong El Nino will kick the climate change deniers in the pants" because those comments imply that this El Nino, or by extension any other El Nino in the historical record, is caused by climate change.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:42 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


I had a blowhard of a boss once who called it El Nino (no enye). So that is what we have called it ever since in my household.

Anyway, I'm trying to get the bulk of my recreating in this spring, before everything gets incinerated. Seriously. The wildfire smoke has been like a second winter the last couple of years, keeping us indoors all through July and August.
posted by HotToddy at 7:52 PM on April 2


Good point, Seymour Zamboni.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:00 PM on April 2


tss (7:32 PM), you are correct that the santa barbara simoom doesn't figure into a global climate phenomenom, but i didn't offer it for that, i offered it as a baseline temp during the cooler era for how much worse the next one will be. it's a fascinating and sobering event, at the time, the highest temp recorded on the (non-volcanic) surface of the earth. 1859 was an interesting year, what with the carrington event due to arrive in early september.
posted by bruce at 8:17 PM on April 2


Barring the arrival of transformative technology things appear fairly hopeless to me. On average us humans are not going to change our habits in any meaningful way.

What little hope I have left effectively rests on Northrop Graumann's Skunkworks' promise to deliver truck-sized fusion plants sometime after 2018. Hope they weren't lying. It's the only tech I'm aware of that has the potential to act as an game changer/emergency break. Unfortunately they weren't exactly forthcoming with detailed information so who knows...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:21 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Northrop Graumann's Skunkworks'

Is that a stealth Hollywood theater?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:36 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


i know it was because i haven't come up with a research assignment for one of my classes and thus during our library session for our composition class, the librarian was left to wander around as to what to talk about, as I had only told him roughly the topic for the research paper would be 'controversial' in some way.

His first example? Climate change! And I was thinking, dude, the only controversy is the decibel level of the screaming and dying, and so he pulls up his sample research results and they were ten scientific papers and they were basically "HERE ARE THE VARIOUS WAYS CLIMATE CHANGE WILL CAUSE SCREAMING AND DYING"

Dunno what he thought he was going to get as a research result
posted by angrycat at 4:10 AM on April 3


On any given day, there are a lot of immediate problems that require an immediate response. Global climate change is so huge as to be overwhelming and it's incremental, like boiling a frog. By the time we realize we're being boiled, well, you know how it ends.

I kind of want to be optimistic, because if the frog is smart enough to jump, maybe we will be, too, but optimism does not seem to be in order.
posted by theora55 at 6:50 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


This all sort of puts the McCutcheon v FEC thread into context, doesn't it?

I don't think I'm one of them, but I firmly believe there are people alive today who will see the last U.S. Presidential election.

So What can the people do?. Wait them out, and teach your kids how to grow crops and shoot. The Koch brothers may be able to buy elections now, but the most likely causes of death for the Koch grandchildren or great-grandchildren will be starvation or violence. I don't think tales of how their grandfathers used to buy elections will comfort them all that much.
posted by Naberius at 7:21 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


meanwhile the NOAA is predicting a coin flip to whether it even happens

If you look, that prediction was from a month ago, and the point of the two posts linked from the FPP is that the data has become much more solid over the last month. Wait and see what NOAA says in its April update, but look at e.g. the graph on page 10 for a sense of what the data looked like at the beginning of March vs. now.
posted by crayz at 8:57 AM on April 3


It of course refers to this classic Chris Farley sketch.

El Niño, I'm gonna kick your El Butt-o!
posted by jonp72 at 11:14 AM on April 3


Naberius: "The Koch brothers may be able to buy elections now, but the most likely causes of death for the Koch grandchildren or great-grandchildren will be starvation or violence. I don't think tales of how their grandfathers used to buy elections will comfort them all that much."

I'm now picturing a sort of Max Max/Lord of the Flies scenario where all the plebes have died out an the rich and wealthy were able to turn their security against each other in ever fracturing cycles of war blackwater rev 2 vs hessian troops until all that's left are a few random soldiers of fortune vs the remaining great grand children of the modern elite, now scrambling for the last scraps of a dying world.

Luckily there's still a lot of Brandy to be snifted and they sniff at each other "Quite!"
posted by symbioid at 3:30 PM on April 3


« Older The Sunni Islamic monarchy/theocracy's restrictive...  |  Long Island teenager Kwasi Eni... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments