Friday, June 12, 2009

How fast?

There appears to be an explosion of data and blogs and books and scientific reports all about climate change this past year. There is a positive cacophony of warnings getting ever more shrill, increasingly even by the mainstream media.

This is met by a correspondingly hysterical denialism by the marginalized conservatives who are so ideologically opposed to "big government" intervention that they would rather see our one and only planet descend into a burning hell, incinerating almost all species of life including us, than read up on the science and realize we cannot be saved without enormous governmental action. If then.

Here are a couple of studies:

but there are so many more, the number is staggering. And still our elected officials dither and debate and posture. It's sickening!

So today, pictures of just flowers in the garden, most cultivated and some native. They are so lovely, and the air is full of their perfume. If you click on an image, it should blow up in achingly intense detail.


  1. I'd say by Tuesday. Now I can haz hamburger?

  2. I love you too, from last Tuesday till next, at least!

  3. Beautiful flowers, but you lost me at "...see our one and only planet descend into a burning hell"

  4. Hello Anonymous, if I haven't lost you completely I suggest you watch this video

    and google Australia wildfires last winter. People burned in their cars because they couldn't drive away fast enough.

    The Amazon is on track for wildfires and so is the Eastern US.

    This is already in the pipeline.

  5. Forest fires, is that where your "burning hell" analogy is getting at? Last I heard we were all supposed to drown by rising ocean waters. I guess the apocalyptic scenario de jour is ever changing.

    I watched that video, it contains nothing but appeals to sympathy, with perhaps one relevant tie-in to what you're claiming, and that is the frequency (and severity) of forest fires has increased in some decade-odd years. If that correlation is meaningful to you with your understanding of climate -- by all means. I almost forgot that being a non-scientist you grant yourself the liberty to make freewill links between climate change and [insert catastrophic event here]

    I looked for Australia wildfires last winter. Interestingly enough:
    "Australia's worst forest fires spark arsonist hunt"

    Then compare Australia's forest fires to the (by far) worst fire in US history, where 1500 people lost lives. That was in 1871.

    And what do you mean Amazon and Eastern US is on track for wildfires?? That's what forests do! They burn, quite naturally too. They've burned before significant human impact, and will continue to do so regardless. To say that we can save the human race by preventing all forest fires is utterly ridiculous.

  6. Meh, Significant Other raised the same point - fires started by arson. that's not the point, however. The point is how fast they spread.

    In 1871, they didn't have warning devices, like phones and teevees. So I would say that's a useless comparison.

    Try reading Joe Romm's book


    which is to say yes, we will drown, and burn - depending on location. That's why I personally call it, climate chaos.

    And lastly, I never said or implied that we can save the human race by preventing all forest fires. You are correct, that is ludicrous.

    The point is, our biodiversity and ecosystems are the canaries in the mine.

    The forests are dying, and that is not a propitious sign for us humans.

    Thank you for being concerned enough to visit my blog and post comments.

  7. Fires started by arson, that's not the point? It surely must occur to you at some point that the arsonist picked the most favourable time for this horrific act to ensure the fastest spread rate and most damage caused. This has zero to do with climate, everything to do with a senseless criminal. Seriously, the single most important factor in forest fire spread is the surface winds

    Warning devices, phones, TV's do not change the basic mechanics of forest fires. The only effect they have on forest fires is evacuation warnings (possible reduced casualties) and quicker response with counter-measures (firemen). To help you out, I'll also throw in satellite thermal imagery, water-bombing aircraft, and other technology which greatly aid in supressing fires. I note again though, that this does not change the basic mechanisms of forest fires which have always existed and with varying magnitudes and frequencies.

    As far as the book you recommended, I have not read it, but given its apocalyptic title, and your beliefs that you've shown in the posts, I suspect that the book is full of doomsday scenarios propped up on anecdotal information, generous appeals to sympathy, and incomplete facts. If that's the case, I think books of the "scare 'em and sell 'em" genre are a distraction from the real science done on global warming and its effects on us and world around.

  8. Anon,

    Did you watch this?

    What about it don't you understand?

    The only books I recommend on this topic are by scientists or, in the case of Fred Pearce, an award-winning expert about scientific subjects.

    Top Three: Hell and High Water by Joe Romm, With Speed and Violence by Fred Pearce, and Collapse by Jared Diamond.

    I really think you should READ AT LEAST ONE BOOK about climate change. I suspect you have an inkling that these dire scenarios are correct, otherwise why would you hang around making comments at blogs that take AGW as a given?

    It's quite difficult to acknowledge that humans have quite possibly irrevocably altered the climate, and that means many, many unpredictable and generally unpalatable repercussions. I have struggled with this myself in fact, I struggle with it every minute of every day. It is hideously painful to accept.

    I wrote everyone I could think of to ask, more or less, this question, "If the climate changes, does that not guarantee, by the laws of evolution and natural selection, that species will not be able to adapt and will go extinct as a result?"

    The briefest and no doubt most accurate response I got was from an evolutionary biologist. All he said was "Climate change is always followed by mass extinctions."

    Now the question is, can humans act cooperatively enough that we aren't part of the extinction event we have started - or are we going to fight with each other over ever-increasingly scarce resources? That could get ugly.

  9. I watched the video, I don't see how it contradicts anything I've said so far. It says that frequency and severity of fires has been increasing (for multiple reasons), and that it's caused by climate change (at least partly). So far I haven't argued those two points, I happen to agree with them.
    One interesting point in the video which you haven't pointed out, was it gave another reason for increasing severity -- forest policy. If you carefully watch the vid, you'll see that previous fire-fighting techniques (quickly extinguishing uprising fires, not letting them naturally burn) have resulted in a build-up of excess fuel over last century - there's a perfectly logical explanation of severity, at least part of it.
    I'm surprised they didn't mention the great fire of 1871 where 8 times the acreage was burned than the entire combined fires of California fire season. They resorted to (quote) "We got records going back to 1960". Presumably, those are instrumental records, fair enough.

    The reason why I lurk and comment on AGW blogs is to further my understanding of science, I notice that commenting requires me to do more research, and NOT because I curiously subscribe to doomsday scenarios as you suggested. The problem with books and movies, is that they are designed to SELL, often to general public, often with only popular knowledge of science. Naturally, a book named "Hell and High Water" will sell more prominently than "Slow and Predictable Consequences of Climate Change which is possibly caused by Humans", and will only skim the surface of what I want to learn, and encourage others to do also.

    Lest I make myself unclear, I will say now that I am convinced that we are experiencing climate change (and any associated consequences thereof). I am not convinced that it is a result of CO2 forcing on a significant level, further less convinced of armageddon scenarios that the sensationalist books prescribe.

  10. Okay, you don't want to buy a book. Are you familiar with Joe Romm's blog, There is a list of topics on the right of the page. Very informative.

    Joe is a physicist. He want people to buy and read his book because he want to educate the general public about the imminent and threatening consequences of climate change. His motivation is the same as that of Al Gore and Jim Hansen - he's a father. It has nothing to do with making money.

  11. I think I've stumbled across it at one point or other. I don't find it particularly informative, again, he goes on to describe multitude of apocalyptic events all propped up on a very large presumption that the temps will actually increase by 8C like the models (!) say they will. That and recent news, which are one-sided to say the least.

    A better blog in my opinion is IllConsidered. Covers a lot of topics, organized well, scientific, and tends to attract people who are more balanced, and less extreme in their views (AGW fanatics and fundie denialists)

    Whether Romm is motivated by money is only my speculation. He really wants to put this cap-n-trade business in place (this is where we make a virtual commodity out of CO2), so yea I'd question his motivation.

    That Gore is motivated by money is beyond certain to me. He has various carbon-offset companies that you can pay to pollute, and will get even more profitable upon the cap-n-trade shenannigans.

    Now Hansen seems to be competing for the title of "The Paris Hilton of Anthropogenic Global Warming", as evident by his recent stunts. He never misses a chance to get his name in the paper or mug on the news. Either that, or he's doing it "for the lulz".

    Anyhow, that's more than I wanted to discuss, I've digressed too much. You're welcome to have the last word on it.


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