Let's Fix This Country
climate

Is Global Warming Causing Extreme Weather? Not in Trump World

The lethality and destruction of two monstrous hurricanes with Maria in their wake has brought the subject of climate change to the fore, bolstering the argument that global warming is the cause of these storms and man is the major contributor to global warming.

That's not what climate scientists say, however, although many may privately
think so. James Hansen, formerly NASA, now at Columbia University, and who sounded the early warning in the 1980s calls them out for the "scientific reticence" that gives the more outspoken skeptics the upper hand in persuading the America public. No one storm can be linked to warming as its cause, scientists prudently say, because there is no proof. But the believers find it imprudent to wait for proof.

But then came Harvey, adjudged to be the most extreme rain event in America's experience — 51.9 inches in one area of Texas. Irma, with winds at sea of 175 miles an hour, was the most powerful storm ever measured at sea. And Maria has followed suit.

Understandably fixated on the non-stop coverage of the catastrophic storms, most Americans may have missed what has been happening elsewhere which can only add to the belief that something is very much amiss.

Wildfires in Montana have burned for months in the wake of a severe drought. June through August were the hottest and driest in the state's history. A week ago, 21 fires were still active, covering 438,000 acres. Wildfires in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah have blanketed areas of those states in smoke and ash. Northern Idaho residents have been breathing some of the worst air in the U.S. with a quality rating over 460 in some parts. A rating above 150 is considered unhealthy and above 300 hazardous, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

At least 1,200 have died in India during the summer monsoons, with rainfall reported to be 10-times the normal volume. In Nepal, elephants had to be deployed to wade through flood waters to rescue people.

In May in southwestern Pakistan, the mercury rose to 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest ever recorded in Asia. That same temperature was recorded in Kuwait last year.

A summer heat wave, in some places accompanied by violent storms, has been scorching Europe, stretching from Spain to the Balkans with temperatures in the low 100s Fahrenheit. The mercury reached 107 degrees in Greece, 108 in Romania. Train tracks buckled in Serbia. Spain recorded a record high of 117.1 degrees.

taboo

But climate change is a forbidden subject in the Trump administration. Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, took offense that voices were linking the Texas and Florida storms to planetary warming.

"To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced…To use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to this [sic] people in Florida”.

He'd best not tell that to the Republican mayor of Miami, a city that may become unsustainable as it faces rising sea waters. Tomás Regalado does not have the luxury of denying reality. He told the Miami Herald:

"This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change.”

Asked if hurricanes Harvey and Irma made him rethink his views on climate change, the president downplayed:

"We've had bigger storms than this," he told reporters aboard Air Force One. "We did have two horrific storms, epic storms. But if you go back into the '30s and '40s, and you go back into the Teens, you'll see storms that were very similar and even bigger, OK?"

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, researches and monitors temperature readings of the atmosphere and the oceans worldwide, tracking dangerous weather and storms, yet Trump's budget would cut $250 million from the very agency program that researches how coastal communities need to prepare for rising seas and the more intense storms predicted for the future.

alternate facts

In Pruitt, Trump chose to run the EPA the former Attorney General of Oklahoma who had sued the agency he was about to lead 14 times to block air and water regulations. Pruitt was his choice because Trump has said he would like to see the EPA dismantled. "It's almost a parody", said David Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "If you just put 'not' in front of everything in the job description, you'd get Scott Pruitt". All Republican senators except Susan Collins of Maine voted to confirm him.

Pruitt had been an unfailing champion of oil and gas interests, benefiting from more than $300,000 in contributions to his elections from PACs or employees of the industry. In all but one of the 14 lawsuits against the EPA, co-parties in the suits had contributed to his campaigns. He had become notorious for transferring almost verbatim letters written by industry lobbyists onto the state letterhead and sending them to regulatory agencies and even President Obama. He has even backed coal, fighting to extend the life of coal-fired power plants in Oklahoma, a state with almost no coal to mine but plenty of wind and sun power potential. Job #1 at the EPA would be to halt Obama's Clean Power Plan which aimed to shutter coal plants.

Almost immediately after his inauguration, Trump had nearly all mention of climate change removed from the White House website, except on the page where he pledged to eliminate all of Obama's climate change policies. Right after his election, some 50 scientists at universities around the country had volunteered to download data stored on the websites of the EPA, NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey out of fear that the incoming Trump administration would destroy them.

At the Department of Agriculture, staffers were instructed to avoid bywords like "greenhouses gases" and "climate change" and come up with substitutes such as "extreme weather". At EPA, Pruitt has initiated a search to weed out all grants that contain "the double-C word".

Pruitt thinks each state knows its needs best, should be its own custodian of air and water, and of deciding whether anything need be done about climate change. His is the Republican ideology of states' rights that would split the country into 50 different sets of laws and regulations. It is a position particularly unsuited to environmental protection because polluted air and water don't stop at state borders. (He is rather flexible in practicing the doctrine of each state tending to its own, though, as when he joined 20 other state attorneys general to block cleaning up Chesapeake Bay, half the country distant from Oklahoma.)

Pruitt has been replacing members of advisory boards throughout the EPA with those who agree with the administration's beliefs. In March, out went five scientists from its Board of Scientific Counselors and in their place were seated five who are sympathetic to industry's objections to regulations. He has unveiled a plan to take a blue team vs. red team approach to the climate change debate, except apparently he'll skip the blue team and just have a red team issuing the contrarian view to confound the public and override the conclusions of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists and the knowledge acquired over decades. This would be a totally political subversion of the agency's mission to engage in the impartial application of science.

The red team would be comprised of deniers such as David Dilley, a former NOAA meteorologist celebrated at NoTrickZone for predicting that the 2017 hurricane season would be “the most dangerous and costliest in 12 years for the United States”, and that there was the potential for six named storms to make landfall, the most since 2005, Katrina's year. He made this spot-on prediction in February based on water temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean that were running warmer. But he insists “it’s all cyclical …nothing to do with global warming”.

But what made the Atlantic and Caribbean warmer? And how is that long slow build cyclical? Mr. Dilley pays no attention to the root cause. Scientists at NOAA contend that over 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gions to his elections from PACs or employees of the industry. In all but one of the 14 lawsuits against the EPA, co-parties in the suits had contributed to his campaigns. He had become notorious for transferring almost verbatim letters written by industry lobbyists onto the state letterhead and sending them to regulatory agencies and even President Obama. He has even backed coal, fighting to extend the life of coal-fired power plants in Oklahoma, a state with almost no coal to mine but plenty of wind and sun power potential. Job #1 at the EPA would be to halt Obama's Clean Power Plan which aimed to shutter coal plants.

Almost immediately after his inauguration, Trump had nearly all mention of climate change removed from the White House website, except on the page where he pledged to eliminate all of Obama's climate change policies. Right after his election, some 50 scientists at universities around the country had volunteered to download data stored on the websites of the EPA, NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey out of fear that the incoming Trump administration would destroy them.

At the Department of Agriculture, staffers were instructed to avoid bywords like "greenhouses gases" and "climate change" and come up with substitutes such as "extreme weather". At EPA, Pruitt has initiated a search to weed out all grants that contain "the double-C word".

Pruitt thinks each state knows its needs best, should be its own custodian of air and water, and of deciding whether anything need be done about climate change. His is the Republican ideology of states' rights that would split the country into 50 different sets of laws and regulations. It is a position particularly unsuited to environmental protection because polluted air and water don't stop at state borders. (He is rather flexible in practicing the doctrine of each state tending to its own, though, as when he joined 20 other state attorneys general to block cleaning up Chesapeake Bay, half the country distant from Oklahoma.)

Pruitt has been replacing members of advisory boards throughout the EPA with those who agree with the administration's beliefs. In March, out went five scientists from its Board of Scientific Counselors and in their place were seated five who are sympathetic to industry's objections to regulations. He has unveiled a plan to take a blue team vs. red team approach to the climate change debate, except apparently he'll skip the blue team and just have a red team issuing the contrarian view to confound the public and override the conclusions of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists and the knowledge acquired over decades. This would be a totally political subversion of the agency's mission to engage in the impartial application of science.

The red team would be comprised of deniers such as David Dilley, a former NOAA meteorologist celebrated at NoTrickZone for predicting that the 2017 hurricane season would be “the most dangerous and costliest in 12 years for the United States”, and that there was the potential for six named storms to make landfall, the most since 2005, Katrina's year. He made this spot-on prediction in February based on water temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean that were running warmer. But he insists “it’s all cyclical …nothing to do with global warming”.

But what made the Atlantic and Caribbean warmer? And how is that long slow build cyclical? Mr. Dilley pays no attention to the root cause. Scientists at NOAA contend that over 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases have been absorbed by the oceans. Warmer oceans fuel more powerful hurricanes and monsoons, warmer air holds more moisture leading to heavier rainfall. Increased warming may not directly cause weather events, but it makes them more powerful.

bury the truth

Presidents are required by law to issue every four years the National Climate Assessment, which appraises the risks that climate change poses so as to warn federal agencies and state governments and advise them of precautions to take. It is compiled across 13 federal agencies. Due this fall, it exists in a draft that has been endorsed by the National Academy of Science. It says "evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans".

The authors need permission to publish from the Trump administration. But given a president who has called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese and an EPA director who believes climate change will go away if all mention of it is suppressed, there is the question of whether Trump will order its conclusions edited or will bury it outright.

The Center for Biological Diversity has said it is poised to sue, much as it had to sue the George W. Bush administration, which had held back from releasing the document.

alarmists are alarmed for a reason

While Scott Pruitt was putting an end to climate change by banishing all mention of it, readers were setting a record in July at New York magazine for the greatest number ever to read an article in the publication's 50-year history. Titled "The Uninhabitable Earth", author David Wallace-Wells, a journalist, says it is based on "dozens of interviews and exchanges with climatologists and researchers in related fields".

The goal of all the signatories to the Paris Accord is to prevent the planet from warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) beyond the fairly constant pre-industrial level. Since then, or since the late-19th century, the average global surface temperature has risen half that — about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degree Fahrenheit). The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports on projections of temperatures between now and 2100 made by scientists around the world using computer-based climate models. Their findings are arrayed between best and worst cases. Mr. Wallace-Wells asks what would happen to life on the planet at these different outcomes?

He paints a terrifying picture. Samples:

The upper end of the probability curve runs as high as 8 degrees Fahrenheit. At 7 degrees, the air will no longer be able to dr

To return to this page, enter : http://letsfixthiscountry.org/?p=1783

1 Comment for “Is Global Warming Causing Extreme Weather? Not in Trump World”

  1. David Barnett, Ph.D.

    Climate scientists are quite right not to cite specific instance of extreme weather as “proof” of the added CO2 theory of warming. The fluctuations are far bigger than the “average” effect we want to discern. And worse, the very rarity of extreme events makes their statistics particularly unreliable.

    This topic is now so politicised, and with so much name-calling, that it is hard to have a reasoned discussion about scientific and policy strategy.

    If you are interested in my scientific and policy opinions I have posted a long comment on this site at:

    http://letsfixthiscountry.org/2015/01/25/the-climate-deniers-what-are-they-saying-now/#comments

Comments are closed

Useful?   Informative?   If so, why not subscribe?
Try us out for a while. We don't inundate your inbox. Just a notice, never more than weekly, when we post new material. We ask for nothing but your e-mail address (and we never give out our subscriber list to anyone. Ever. Positively). Just click HERE to join.
CLICK IMAGE TO GO TO FRONT PAGE,
CLICK TITLES BELOW FOR INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES
Please Subscribe.
It's FREE.
We appreciate your visits, but for web legitimacy, we do need a subscriber count. We do our best to be informative. No advertising. And we don't bombard your inbox. We only send you an e-mail every 10 days or so when we have new stuff.
Just click HERE to join.