Friday, January 20, 2017

The Hoax that Just Keeps on Giving

Both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), both federal agencies, have announced (see their Websites for confirmation) that 2016 was the earth’s hottest year on record. The record was broken in 2014 and eclipsed in 2015. 2016 pushed the limits one notch higher. The above chart – presented by the Washington Post on January 18th – is the clearest statement of what we have done to ourselves by failing to contain the explosion of greenhouse gasses generated by burning carbon: from coal-fired power plants, to clearing fields, emissions from cars and trucks, etc.
The results are everywhere, from the droughts that drove over a million people from their farms in Syria and Iraq – the backbone of regional insurrection – to destabilizing floods in Bangladesh. We have witnessed massive waves of environmental migrants (who have morphed into political refugees as their government refuse to help them).
Even here in the U.S., from the storm surges that threaten to engulf southern Florida or the decimation/erosion of the sea-breaks from the North Carolina Outer Banks, harsh winters from the Polar Express (as warmer Arctic air pushes cold fronts south), environmental costs are rising rapidly into the “unaffordable.” We are looking at potential of trillions of dollars of hard costs that the United States alone will face. Not in 50 or 100 years. They’ve already started and are growing by the day. Now.
But we are withdrawing from the Paris Accords, which most of the rest of the earth has already accepted (even China and India), intended to bring global carbon emissions under control. Man-induced global warming, it seems, is officially a hoax to the Trump administration, an evil Chinese plot to have us “waste” money on environmental controls to make us even less competitive with their manufacturing capacity. Think Beijing is happy about their air quality, then?
The new administration tells us that business cannot be restrained by environmental regulations, and pollution is simply a product of an economically-growing capitalist nation. Really? Companies get to use up and destroy public assets for free? Interesting perspective. Unpotable Flnt drinking water is just part of the necessary burden the locals must bear to allow business to make more money? But if you say climate change is a natural phenomenon, well, you don’t even have to try to fix it. But there are had costs we face from ignoring the problem, even now.
Here’s another little example from a coastal state. Louisiana – devastated by hurricanes and facing massive land loss from storm surges – has been struggling to figure out how to undo the resulting environmental damage to its coastal wetlands. They’re trying to figure out how to use Mississippi River sediment to replenish the rather large loss of land mass in their coastal wetlands, erosion that is also destroying homes and farms as well. They figured initially that the cost for desperately-needed coastal restoration is $50 billion, but that number just might not be enough:
“Louisiana's projections for funding its 50-year master plan for coastal restoration and hurricane storm surge protection are at least $71 billion short of the inflation-adjusted $91.7 billion price tag, according to a study released Friday (Nov. 6 [2015]) by the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy.
“The state has already fallen behind on spending money each year to implement the plan, which was adopted by the Legislature in 2007 with a $50 billion price tag, and updated in 2012, according to the report. The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which oversees the plan, has continued to use the original $50 billion cost estimate, but its staff has acknowledged that that price tag would have to be adjusted upwards because of inflation.”, 11/6/15.
How much does it costs us to rebuild after a devastating hurricane, an unexpected ice storm, unprecedented drought or flooding, the arrival of new insects with new diseases seeking to follow the warmth? What happens when major cities, like Miami, go beyond temporary little floods to being permanently under water? Who pays? How bad are those temperature rises anyway?
“The specific numbers for climate change seem slight, but year-after-year of “slight” changes have aggregated into devastating: “Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 2015, and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agency’s record began in 1880.
“The average temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces was 58.69 Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th century average of 57 degrees, NOAA declared. The agency also noted that the record for the global temperature has now successively been broken five times since the year 2000. The years 2005 and 2010 were also record warm years, according to the agency’s dataset.” The Post.
As I have blogged many times, nature simply does not care what we do to the planet. Extinction of species? Decimation of farmland? Intolerable urban living conditions from horrible pollution? Whether we accept responsibility or not, nature doesn’t care. Slogans and mythology have no impact on nature’s automatic reaction to our hubris and a failure to understand what we are really doing to ourselves. She really doesn’t care how many us suffer or die from our own actions. She will just take us down in accordance with… the laws of nature. We could stem this horrible tide, but we seem to have elected politicians who will simply accelerate our own environmental demise. So what?
I’m Peter Dekom, and making rather huge and fundamentally wrongful assumptions about the world, ignoring hard scientific data, will produce rather nasty but very predictable results.

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