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Still don’t believe in climate change? Then you’re either deep in denial or delirious from the heat.
So begins Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson in Eugene Robinson: Feeling the heat, an opinion piece in today's Washington Post.

Like me, Robinson lives in Arlington County, right across the Potomac from the District of Columbia, and I periodically see him in a local supermarket.  It has power from a generator truck, but as I write this, the rest of that strip mall remains dark, now into a 4th consecutive day.

At the peak of blackout, more than  half the electric customers in the DC metro area were dark - in Arlington, it was 42,000 of 59,000 residences.

As Robinson notes of the day the storms hit (after 9 PM), it was 104 degrees on Friday, the hottest June day on record (just below the all-time high of 106):  

Hurricane-force winds of up to 80 miles per hour wreaked havoc with the lush tree canopy that is perhaps Washington’s most glorious amenity. One of my neighbors was lucky when a huge branch, headed for his roof, got snagged by a power line. Another neighbor lost a tree that fell into another tree that smashed an adjacent house, demolishing the second floor.
We too had neighbors who were lucky - the older woman who had trees fall infront of both her front and back doors -  neighbors were able to cut her out with chain saws.  One reason parts of our neighborhood is still dark is that we are heavily wooded - trees and branches brought down power lines in multiple places, and those have to be restrung, in some cases after the poles are replaced.

Robinson, although he will qualify by noting we can never attribute any single event to Global Climate Change, does put it all in context in one paragraph:  

According to scientists, climate change means not only that we will see higher temperatures but that there will be more extreme weather events like the one we just experienced. Welcome to the rest of our lives.
Please keep reading.

Robinson notes scientists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported this past winter as the 4th warmest on record in the US, while the three months of Meteorological  Spring (March-April-May) just concluded were the warmest since record-keeping began in 1895.  

If you don’t believe me or the scientists, ask a farmer whose planting seasons have gone awry.
In my diary yesterday, someone from Michigan noted that the cherry farmer have already lost close to 90% of this year's crop.

Nine of then warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, with 2010 being the warmest on record.

According to NASA scientists, CO2 in the air has increased 35% since 1880, " with most of the increase coming since 1960."

Yet we continue to burn fossil fuels.

Think of the shift of American population to the Sunbelt -  how livable would major cities like Miami, Phoenix, San Antonio, with average temperatures over 90 degrees, be without airconditioning? Heck, there is a reason the location of the State Department in DC is known as Foggy Bottom - it was swampy, and this city even in the 1950s and 1960s was close to unbearable during the summer without a/c  (having been stationed just South of here at Quantico during 1965-66, a time when the temperatures were not quite as intense, I can remember what that was like). Yet to generate the increasing demand for electricity we burn more fossil fuels -  the increase in population in the stretch from Baltimore to Richmond gets almost all of its electricity from burning coal mined in the nearby Appalachians, nowadays by mountaintop removal that devastates the immediate enviroment even before its combusion pumps ever more CO2 and heavy metals into the atmosphere.

Robinson writes that the apocalyptic sounding predictions of climate scientists have if anything been too conservative: there are many indicators that the change is happening even faster than their wrost predictions.  Things like the increase of wildfires, also more intense, also seem to be the result of heating and drying, creating tinderbox conditions. Such events are, as Robinson notes, consistent with the predictions fo the scientists.


It becomes harder to ignore those predictions when a toppled tree is blocking your driveway and the power is out.
Robinson's column is widely distributed.  One has to wonder, however, if those who scoff at the idea of anthropogenic global climate change will listen, wehther those who get wealthy from oil and natural gas and coal will cease their attempts to prevent serious change in energy policy here and around the world.  Certainly after the nuclear disaster in Japan, nuclear seems a less acceptable path to moving away from carbon-based energy:  Germany is already moving to close all of their reactors.  We clearly need to be moving to renewables, the way nations like Denmark have done.

Perhaps a little tongue in cheek dig might help?  Consider then Robinson's final paragraph:  

One other observation: As repair crews struggle to get the lights back on, it happens to be another sunny day. Critics have blasted the Obama administration’s unfruitful investment in solar energy. But if government-funded research managed to lower the price of solar panels to the point where it became economical to install them on residential roofs, all you global warming skeptics would have air conditioning right now. I’m just sayin’.
But whether the liosten or not, the rest of us should be drawing a clear lesson - from the force of winter storms like Snowmaggedon (I measured 48" in my back yard), the number and force of tornados, the number and ferocity of wildfires, the disappearance of glacial ice and snow pack, and summer storms like the progressive derecho that wreaked havoc on the DC area:  we are going to see increasing numbers of events like this.

Or, as Robinson puts it in his article, and as Ititled this piece:

Welcome to the rest of our lives.

Originally posted to teacherken on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (117+ / 0-)

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:14:37 AM PDT

  •  Never seen anything like this (41+ / 0-)

    From New England - Snow in October to no snow in the winter to a hot March leading to heavy frost in April to numerous hail storms - I remember one hail storm growing up - in the last two years, they have become common place.

    It may not be all climate change driven but any reasonable person has to take notice and at least question why.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:27:48 AM PDT

  •  thank you for your diary, especially (25+ / 0-)

    considering under what kind of conditions you have to write them. Let's hope Eugene Robinson and you turned at least one of the climate change deniers around. It takes some heavy sweating admitting that one has made misjudgements.

    •  actually I am fairly comfortable (28+ / 0-)

      in an airconditioned local Starbucks.  I can get out of house, although sleeping can be tough in the heat and humidity.

      I worry for the cats.  It is why I was wiping them down with ice cubes in a baggy -  they seemed to like it.

      This morning it was cool enough to hear the birds -  "only" 77 degrees.  The chorus exploded at around 5 AM and the cats quickly jumped into the windows to track them.

      Hopeful we will get power back today.

      Some communities around DC already cancelling tomorrow's fireworks.

      Across the street from where I sit is the apartment building in which we lived when we moved to Arlington in Oct ;82 untiol we bought our house in June of '84.  They still have no power.  So much happier to be in a house where I can open windows for a cross breeze, where we can go into the basement for some cooler air.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:52:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  crossing my fingers for getting the power back ... (17+ / 0-)

        for you and your neighbors in the apartment building. 70 percent of our staff in our office is still out of power (a couple of them from your area) one even without water, because the pump who serves her own well, is out. Thanks also for your other diary this morning.

        •  thanks eom (3+ / 0-)

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 04:15:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Post-storm extended power outages are torture (12+ / 0-)

            The uncertainty as to when you'll get power back can be as bad as the absence of power itself.  I've had 2 post-hurricane extended outages (8/92 and 10-11/05), and I wouldn't wish them on anyone.

            As always, I greatly appreciate this contribution.  On the same subject, today's NYT FP has this profile of climatologist Lonnie Thompson:

            Driven by a new sense of urgency over the ensuing 20 years, he pulled off a string of achievements with few parallels in modern science. He led teams to some of the highest, most remote reaches of the earth to retrieve samples of the endangered ice.

            Then last October, the race against the clock became much more personal.

            Dr. Thompson woke up in a Columbus hospital room, a strange dream rattling in his brain. He looked down. “Wires were coming out of my chest,” he said. Machinery had been implanted to keep him alive. Longer term, doctors told him, only a heart transplant would restore him to full health.

            Dr. Thompson, 64, is one of the most prominent of the generation of scientists who, in the latter decades of the 20th century, essentially discovered the problem of global warming. Now those scientists are beginning to age out of the field. Many of them say they grapple with the question of how hard to keep pushing themselves. Could one more finding or one more expedition help turn the tide of public awareness?

            The same FP also has an article about increased US Navy presence in the Straits of Hormuz:
            The United States has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz and to increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into Iran if the standoff over its nuclear program escalates.

             The deployments are part of a long-planned effort to bolster the American military presence in the gulf region, in part to reassure Israel that in dealing with Iran, as one senior administration official put it last week, “When the president says there are other options on the table beyond negotiations, he means it.”

            But at a moment that the United States and its allies are beginning to enforce a much broader embargo on Iran’s oil exports, meant to force the country to take seriously the negotiations over sharply limiting its nuclear program, the buildup carries significant risks, including that Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps could decide to lash out against the increased presence.

            IOW, the Middle Atlantic region just took a major hit from a freak storm, the country is literally baking, climate scientists are still our societal canaries in the coal mine, and the immediate public policy response to this worsening crisis is to put more ships in the Gulf to make sure that the crude keeps on flowing.   Our species is killing its home planet, and a nominally majoritarian system w/ nominally educated and intelligent people running it are consciously choosing to make things worse.  Digging the hole deeper is a "bipartisan" approach that will not be debated this election year.

            Maybe we aren't as advanced of a species as we think.

            Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

            by RFK Lives on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:32:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really nice piece- thanks (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Killer of Sacred Cows, RFK Lives

              Lonnie is on faculty at Ohio State. Last time I checked, we still had nearly 100,000 homes without power here in Franklin County, including a nice chunk of the Clintonville area where a lot of the students and faculty lives. I just went over there looking for lunch (my power's still out on day 5) and saw a brand new power pole that looked like it had just been installed. That block is still dark, but that brand new pole was snugged up against a recently busted pole, that was itself snugged up against another been-sitting-there-for-years busted pole. That's three poles jammed onto a single tree lawn, which is all going to come down is a big mess with the tree during the next big derecho (and I had to look that up, dammit, because it's not a normal word).

              Is it any wonder this is about the umpteenth major power outage for the area? And we thought getting through the dry side of Hurricane Ike was bad! Our antique power grid (maintained lackadaisically by a single utility provider) can't stand all of these "isolated events".

              "I'm not a humanitarian. I'm a hell-raiser." Mother Jones

              by histopresto on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 11:15:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for remembering your little friends (3+ / 0-)

        as a person who loves, loves my cats, I hate to see any suffer. I rescued and brought to health more than ten of them.

      •  It helps to wet your hair, or even a tee-shirt (0+ / 0-)

        Not a wet tee-shirt, but wrung out so it's damp. Then sleep where there is an open window or where air can circulate and that helps a lot.

        Eating Ice helps bring down the body's core temp if you can get it.

        Eating spicey food can help too, if you have the tastebuds for it.

        And if you have a good basement--which you mentioned, going below ground might offer significantly cooler air.

  •  I keep asking myself how much proof does the world (20+ / 0-)

    need before we start making the changes necessary to try and save our beautiful planet............

    Thanks teacherken.

    Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

    by burnt out on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 04:16:00 AM PDT

    •  From a scientific perspective... (8+ / 0-)

      these isolated events make for good news copy, and are arguably tied to climate warming due to the increase in atmospheric energy associated with warming, but could simply be a short term (on a geologic timeframe) fluctuation.  

      It's the flip side of the same story when we have a bad winter cold snap for a few days/weeks in the winter - no global warming, right?  I realize the answer is a decided no, but the same logic holds, so if you use it in one direction, you're intellectually dishonest if you don't allow the counter argument.

      The very long temperature trends is where the real story is.  Yea, it's only fractions of a degree, which is the real story.  I appreciate that the real story makes horrible new copy since nuance is required to appreciate it.

      •  The confusion created .... (14+ / 0-) confusing weather events with climate is real, however it is also sensible to note the apparent increase in extreme weather events as predicted by CLIMATE scientists.

        On a personal note, the climate in my region (the northern Great Lakes), along with bird species, planting dates, spring frost, etc., etc. has moved about 300 miles north since 1960.  Extreme weather events such as tornadoes, formally uncommon this far north, are now annual events.

        We are experiencing the hottest year on record, with June temperatures in the 90's (unheard of a few decades ago).  I suspect that big changes in the Siberian and Canadian Arctic (declines in sea ice, melting permafrost, etc.) may be driving a new pressure and weather pattern that will permanently change the N. American climate.

        Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

        by boatwright on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:06:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Dude, CO2 has increased by 35% (9+ / 0-)
        It's the flip side of the same story when we have a bad winter cold snap for a few days/weeks in the winter - no global warming, right?  I realize the answer is a decided no, but the same logic holds,
        It is NOT the same logic.

        Vote Democrat! Because drinking piss is better than eating shit...

        by Tirge Caps on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:09:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree - it is not the same. Context makes this (3+ / 0-)

          clear. On the one hand, we have experiments proved CO2 emissions cause warming. We have known this for over a hundred years. We can replicate these experiments. We have global mean temperatures that consistently rise.
          So, the local day to day highs fit into something that is the rule, not the exception, based upon science we know and understand.

          Radically different.The people who originate that falsehood are either incredibly ill informed, dishonest, or poor and fuzzy thinkers, or all of the above.  

          •  The direct forcing from a doubling of atmospheric (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Huginn and Muninn

            CO2 vs pre-industrial levels is about 1C.  The warmest summer on record in the lower 48 states is 1936.  The global climate has been gradually warming since the Little Ice Age.

            Look, we know the climate is warming and that fossil fuel burning is a contributer.  What BlueZ is trying to explain is that we ought not to leap to unsubstantiated conclusions.  Central North America is very warm right now, much warmer than the global trend.  Global warming has undoubtedly made this event slightly warmer than it would otherwise have been.

            If you have a clear explanation for the current hot and dry conditions you should also provide a clear explanation for the 1930s.

            Where are we, now that we need us most?

            by Frank Knarf on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:32:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  1C globally (mostly ocean) but more over land (0+ / 0-)

              Water has a high specific heat, meaning that it takes more heat to raise the temperature a given amount.  Further, oceans circulate the heat by convection to considerable depth, increasing the mass being heated and slowing the temperature rise relative to land.

              The effect on land is several times as great, tending  to move weather zones northward and disrupt rainfall patterns, leading to more frequent severe droughts and floods which are obvious to anyone paying attention.

              Weather varies randomly around average seasonal values; as the planet overheats, these averages move up.  The result is that record highs are now occurring at about 10x the rate of record lows.  

              This is only the beginning of the dramatic effects.  As Bill McKibben says, if we get this at 1C, we REALLY don't want to go to 5C.  This is a planetary emergency: we need a major investment in energy efficiency and renewables ASAP.

              There's no such thing as a free market!

              by Albanius on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 11:00:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Cling to that when the Atlantic Conveyor belt (0+ / 0-)

              finally shits the bed.

      •  Like I said , How much proof does the world need? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens, Oh Mary Oh, mamamedusa

        You make my point by still sticking your head in the sand.

        Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

        by burnt out on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:15:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thermodynamics is never wrong (18+ / 0-)

        From the scientific perspective, the Laws of Thermodynamics are never wrong. That's why we call them Laws.

        And from a Thermodynamics perspective, the Earth has a net energy imbalance: the amount of heat arriving from the hot Sun is greater than the amount of heat radiated into the cold of space. The energy imbalance is huge, about the same as two Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs per second.

        Scientists aren't looking at a weather trend and trying to figure out a cause, the cause has been understood for over a century. Scientists are looking at a weather trend and trying to further refine their models in order to better predict the damages.

        But even without a long-term temperature trend, there's no doubt that additional warming is coming, because thermodynamics is never wrong.

        Oh, and as for the extra-cold winter, that's actually caused by global warming as well. A lack of sea ice in the arctic is creating high pressure systems, which creates havoc in the jet-stream, which normally bottles up the super-cold air over the arctic. With the jet-stream weakened and meandering, that extra cold air can escape into regions it doesn't normally reach.

      •  Let me cover some points... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        via a somewhat awkward reply to self...

        First off, I'm not a climate scientist, I am a physical scientist.  I have more than a passing knowledge of some of the topics raised.

        My own view is that yes, we have climate warming.  It is primarily caused by a decrease in the net radiative heat losses from the earth due to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other species (e.g. methane) in the atmosphere which possess reasonably strong IR absorption spectra.  As correctly noted above, this pushes the earth/sun energy balance such that more radiant solar energy is retained by the earth.  Factors such as use of fossil fuels (increase CO2 in atmosphere), deforestation (decrease removal of CO2 from atmosphere), agriculture (methane from farm animals) are at the root of this shift.  There are lots of other factors, but the key thing is that there is a slow increase in the mean surface temperature of the earth.  So..., despite some of the comments, I agree with the directional conclusion most have voiced.

        However, I do believe that it is important to focus on the long term temperature rise and not the latest local extreme weather event which may or may not be directly linkable to global warming.  There's been plenty of extreme weather events over the millenia, so in isolation, there's plenty of room to obsfucate.  Some of the push back correctly understands that global warming can lead to seemingly counterintuitive results such as more extreme winter weather.  Understanding these details requires a lot of nuance, are very prone to being misrepresented (Hey - I'm freezing, how can we be having global warming?), and starts to muddle the discussion.

        Look at how many discrete topics have been raised above and below.  If you want to kill understanding, drag oodles of peripherally related material (today's bad storm), unrelated material (positing I've stuck my head in the sand), and so on into the discussion.

        There is one fact to focus on and it's the estimate of the mean T over the past few centuries.  Almost everything else can be casually dismissed as noise on that trend and that dismissal means the important trend is ignored.  With respect to the temperature increase, at this point, being only a degree or so..., it seems minor.  Why is a degree or two here so important when we have seasonal swings that are substanially greater?  People need to understand that the earth is a complex cascade of interacting system, just like a human being.  Those minor shifts create imbalances in the cascades.  

        Take a person, increase their body temperature by a degree or two, and you can have a rather sick person on your hands.  A degree seems small until you start to think about it in these terms.  

        Earth is starting to run a fever and there's no indication that fever is about to break.

    •  That proof will be getting tougher to come by. (4+ / 0-)

      Has anybody noticed that Weather Underground ( has been sold to The Weather Channel Companies?

      Wunderground has consistently been a go-to source for all things cyclonic in the world, and for tying together weather and climate change.  Jeff Masters has been a brilliant conductor for the site, and is quite a stand-up guy.  (Say... jog my memory... didn't he make a somewhat contentious appearance here on DK back when New Orleans got pasted?)

      And I've always thought Ricky Rood's Climate Change blog on wunderground was one of the best AGW explicators for less technically inclined people - it brings AGW understanding to weather geeks, who might otherwise miss some of the more subtle implications of how climate change impacts our day-to-day environment.

      Alas, The Weather Channel Companies is owned by NBCUniversal (Comcast/ GE), the Blackstone Group, and...

      ...Bain Capital.

      My confidence level in continued high-reality reportage at wunderground is low.

      It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

      by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:28:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem isn't the world. It's US. (3+ / 0-)

      If WE lead on this, the world will follow.  And the world IS already acting.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:53:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  When people are rioting over food and water (0+ / 0-)

      you wait. That is what it will take for the idiots to come around.

      By then, many of us will be so bitter, that our humanity might be able to overcome the anger.

  •  That derecho was pretty spectacular (12+ / 0-)

    I've watched derechoes march across the US before, but this was the biggest I've personally seen.  It spread from a group of thunderstorms moving from IA to IL, hitting Chicago and then mushroomed to the huge bow echo that marched east from IN.  I watched our area (just south of Indianapolis) get hit by a blast of wind but no rain.  Watching it on radar as it moved east was something else.

    •  We saw it coming from at least 12 hours away (16+ / 0-)

      when it was less than an hour away from us we were hearing of winds in excess of 80 mph.  I knew then for sure we were going to have trouble.

      My wife wanted to go out to get some errands done and for one of the very few times we can remember I was insistent -  effectively "forbidding" her -  neither of us normally gives the other orders, but I knew how bad this was going to be.   She thanked me after the storm hit.

      Years ago we paid to take down an age huge old black cherry tree in front of our house because I was afraid that in heavy winds it would come down, and if it came toward the house it would crush it.

      The problem is that the crowns of deciduous trees are full with foliage at this time of the year, and catching a straight line blast of wind can do real damage.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 04:27:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My mother's home was hit by a big tree (7+ / 0-)

        smashed through the attic, pushed the attic through the ceiling into the dining room - she how has an "uninhabitable" sign taped to her front door.

        She is 87 and just celebrated her birthday two days prior with family filling that dining room. We are so thankful we are not the major tragedy of a family demolished in that derecho!

        Thank goodness she does have family in the area though, otherwise my dear mother would be living in a shelter, with her home of 52 years in shambles.

        I worry the stress of it all will take a toll on her health even though she is a strong woman.

        And I am half a continent away...

        We never experienced anything like that storm in all the years we were on the east coast. Many branches down over the years, the occasional tree but this storm was exceptional.

        And yes, I fear global climate change will bring more such exceptional events.

        Take care out there. Hope you get power restored soon.

        "one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress" -- John Adams

        by blue armadillo on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:35:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Last year (18+ / 0-)

    Texas had its worst drought on record. Through July 3, 2011 Houston received 8.46 inches of rain. Through July 3, 2012 we've received 27.23 inches, which is a little above normal.

    The devastation the drought brought is hard to describe. Thousands of trees died. This is after Hurricane Ike pruned them all in 2008.

    And yet people continue to fight building more public transit. Get cars off the road. Last week, at 6 am it was 88 degrees outside. We act as though nothing is happening. The capacity for denial is amazing- and scary.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 04:47:24 AM PDT

  •  Optimism? (20+ / 0-)

    This subject needs to move to the top of the list.  I know it's hard to imagine a future catastrophes when there is so much else to worry about today.  However, if you love your children and care about the planet you need to know that there is growing agreement that all of the dire reports we have already heard and largely ignored were a BEST CASE SCENARIO.  

    The rapidly developing situation indicates that we may have as little as 10 or 20 years before the climate reaches a critical tipping point from which human civilization will not recover.

    I strongly recommend that everyone start by watching this video:

    Dan Miller - A REALLY Inconvenient Truth

    The other day I heard an oil man say confidently that only 50% of potential oil reserves had been used to date, as if that meant we could go on happily, without a care for another 100 years of gassing up.

    Trouble is our rate of consumption is DOUBLING every 15 years and is already putting pressure on the supply.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this doesn't look good.  We are going to shortly face a PERMANENT energy crisis, along with as much CO2 added to the atmosphere in the next couple of decades as was added since the beginnings of  the industrial revolution.

    It took millions of years for natural processes to bury this carboniferous age carbon creating coal and oil and changing the earth's ancient climate from an ice-free hot climate to our soon to be forgotten temperate condition.  We have put billions of tons of carbon back into the atmosphere in the last century, with the rate doubling every ten years or so.

    No matter how hopeful I try to be, I see no indication historically or presently that our culture has ever successfully responded to this sort of civilization ending ecological challenge.  From Easter Island, to the Mayans, to air-conditioned desert mega-cities we have always procreated, eaten, and burned our way to collapse.

    It will very soon become not a matter of: What can we do?  But rather: How bad is it going to get?  Sad to say, there likely is coming an age of famine, suffering, and population decline, and there is not much being done to change this inevitability.  Hoped for solar systems and wind farms aside, there is simply no substitute other than nuclear for the energy density provided by coal and oil.  Every time we go to the store, we are literally EATING the energy provided by oil.  The US would have to build about 50 new nuclear power stations per year to replace it.  Or we must drastically change our profligate way of living starting yesterday.

    Total annual world energy consumption:

    132,000,000,000,000,000 Watt Hours

    All the solar panels and wind farms will make NO difference in the magnitude of the problem we face.

    The problem -- the we are totally f****d if we don't do something fast problem:

    Even if we convert all our energy consumption to the most efficient, least polluting system possible, the earth's ecology will be able to support only about 1/4 of today's population on a sustainable basis.  Today's 8+ billion is only possible because of the huge input of energy from fossil fuels, which is as we are finding out destroying the planet.  Today we are living in a short-term fools' paradise.

    A new balance will be found.  The only question is: Will we do it peacefully and sensibly?  Or will "mother nature" do it brutally to us?

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 04:47:48 AM PDT

    •  Part of the problem is the absurd attitude (7+ / 0-)

      that many fundamentalist Christians have of "the Lord will provide". Honestly - one of the dopier GOP Congressmen said that in committee hearings..I think it was one of our dumber TX guys (the one that "stumped" the energy secretary perhaps)

      There is a train of thought (if you can call it "thought") that says God is constantly creating these oil pockets for us to find...can't possibly take millions of years since the planet is only 6000 years old, you know (!)

      They hold that oil and coal are constantly being created as fast as we need them....

      Even if you believe in God as a loving father, you have to wonder if we aren't spoiled brats that he's figured need some tough love....we got a great present in this beautiful blue planet and we've trashed it. Does Daddy keep fixing it for us or let us fail for not learning the lesson? The fundies are pretty harsh on people that don't do the "right" thing, but seem pretty resistant to thinking THEY may be in error. On anything.

      Sad to say, they are killing us all.

      "one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress" -- John Adams

      by blue armadillo on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:41:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No.. the problem is denial by progressives (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that we can do this fast without nuclear power.

        We either do it very slowly with renewables while we continue to throw millions of tons of coal waste into the atmosphere, including CO2 and a lot of other crap, or we can do it fast with nuclear plants providing most electricity while we build the renewables.

        But progressives have shut that door and doomed us to ever-increasing amounts of CO2 in the air.

        I'm sick and tired of reading these doomsday diaries when nuclear power is written off immediately.  It is the only quick solution, but the intransigence by progressive and environmental groups is insanity.  We are truly doomed.

        And please don't tell me it takes 10 years to bring a nuke plant online.  The hardline by the left on new nuke plants has been ongoing for decades.  We could be close to zero carbon footprint by now without it.

      •  the Biblical/theological answer is that (2+ / 0-)

        the God who ordains the ends, ordains the means. If we choose to not use the means to those ends, then we will not get the ends we want. God does not suspend natural law when we act irresponsibly.

        That is if one wants to adopt their theological viewpoints.

        •  Predestination makes me want to puke (0+ / 0-)

          So much for free will or even Freedom of Conscience. But then we already knew these yocals reject those notions strictly speaking .

          They believe in freedom the way that dog believes in a bone.

          Good luck getting the bone or freedom from either selfish entity.

      •  Yea, but's what he going to say when his god slaps (0+ / 0-)

        him silly and booms, "Should have been watching the other hand yocal!"?

  •  not ususally up this early on west coast (8+ / 0-)

    but sure glad to see you writing on climate change. Hope we an re-energize the eco base here at Kos. Hearing more and more MSM reporting now on climate change as a reality. Sure took long enough. I think this summer represents the shock in your face moment in which the public can no longer be dis-connected with reality. Just returned myself from Colorado and observing how different this summer is from last - hotter, drier and worse fires - was terrifying.

  •  115F in Atlanta this weekend. (3+ / 0-)

    Atlanta hit 106F this weekend, both Sat and Sunday. But globally, we've currently added less than 2F to world temperatures. If we continue on the Republican plan, we've got about another 9F to go. So if we allow that to happen, then Atlanta's high for the weekend would have been 115F. Except that regional trends might make N. America warm slightly more than the global average, so it could easily be worse.

    •  Record temperatures (4+ / 0-)

      An important thing to remember when we have record high and lows on land is that the earth is 4/5 OCEAN!

      When climate science reports a seemingly small increase in overall global temperature, we tend to think, "2 0r 3 degrees, I can live with that.  Maybe this hot spell is just an unusual weather pattern, and things will be back to normal soon."

      They won't.  These seemingly small overall temperature changes will lead to dramatic changes in the climate on land.  As predicted by climate scientists we are seeing these changes in today's increase in extreme weather events.  Don't be surprised to see a record blizzard somewhere next winter, and don't listen to those who will say that it proves that climate change is a liberal myth.

      Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

      by boatwright on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:41:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yeah unlike methane, CO2 stays in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      atmosphere for thousands of years, tens of thousands of years.

  •  We need C02 atmospheric removal (4+ / 0-)

    That's the only thing we have. we are NOT changing, period.

    I don't care what anyone says, we will not change in time.

    Have you flown over the US? Looked down? Have you seen literally trillions of dollars of fossil fuel infrastructure in place? Now imagine that in India, China, Brazil, Russia, Western Europe.

    We are done, absolutely done, barring a C02 removal miracle.

    •  Not likely .... (5+ / 0-)

      ... considering it took MILLIONS of years to bury the carbon in the first place.

      There are futuristic carbon removal technologies proposed, but all suffer from large problems in efficiency and practicality.

      The only answer to this problem is for us humans to voluntarily drastically reduce our population and adopt a much simpler energy lean lifestyle.  We all are part of the problem folks.  Every time you fill up your car with just 15 gallons, you add  over 300 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere.  Multiply that by the 1 Billion!! cars on the planet and you can see the size of the problem we face.

      Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

      by boatwright on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:52:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well that's precisely my point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boatwright, JeffW
        The only answer to this problem is for us humans to voluntarily drastically reduce our population and adopt a much simpler energy lean lifestyle.
        It's not happening. Not even slightly. Not even imaginable in the next 20-30 years.
    •  Yes, exactly! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blicero, JeffW

      The amount of time we waste begging people to sacrifice their quality of life, when we should be hounding scientists drives me up a wall.

      We will NOT get people to change their lifestyle beyond what can be achieved with efficiency.  If this problem is to be solved, its only going to be solved by removing existing carbon from the air.

      Any plan that doesn't acknowledge that is doomed to failure before it starts, IMO.

      Consider yourself tipped, since due to some recent idiocy I can't do it myself.

      "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

      by Whimsical on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:40:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Problem is... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...what do you do with the CO2?

      I dreamed up a device that I call the Butterfly Machine, that is essentially two Stirling cycle heat pumps driven by a solar panel, with a fractionating column between them, feeding into a large Dewar (fancy original name for a Thermos bottle). The idea was to have a machine that a home shop machinist, or an engineering student, could build and run to extract carbon dioxide from the air, distrubuted over a wide area.

      My wife, Kossack Calamity jean, then asked me "So, what do you do with the carbon dioxide once you've collected it?". Therein lies the problem.

      You have hundreds of such devices built, all around the planet, and maybe it would buy us some time. But then you have to deal with the point where that receiving Dewar is almost full. What do you do with the gas?

      So many small machines, and no place to put what they catch. The same would hold for a large device.

      What do you do with the CO2?

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:18:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would not underestimate the impact (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boatwright, Oh Mary Oh, JeffW

    of this weather in DC.  It's a long time since my mom declined a job with an unnamed federal agency because there was, at that time, no air conditioning in the Capitol City.  The Beltwayers may actually do something if they have to suffer.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:42:36 AM PDT

  •  Any more I feel like (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boatwright, JeffW

    referring to what's happening as "climate change" is an act of denial in itself on my part...

    Most people I encounter have come around to "climate change"- and after this summer there will be more.

    Most of them aren't deniers. They just can't fathom any solutions and can't bear thinking about the possibilities that loom.

    •  The total and morally inexcusable .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...lack of leadership on this issue from the White House on down boggles................

      Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

      by boatwright on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:55:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the solution for most people is trivially easy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boatwright, Oh Mary Oh, JeffW

      The solution for most people is absurdly easy: stop voting for Republicans.

      After that, most of the real work involves simply putting the right financial incentives in place, and pushing existing renewable energy technology to get adopted faster. Every piece of technology we need has already been invented, and has been in use for more than a decade. We don't have time to wait for a technological miracle, but we don't have to! We just need to rapidly implement the ideas we already have.

      The Democratic party is perfectly willing to pass laws to encourage that effect, we even had a Cap & Trade bill pass the House a couple years ago. Without Republican obstruction, we could make real progress, and make it pretty quickly.

  •  I want a t-shirt that says (0+ / 0-)

    right."  Remember the environmental push during his presidency, the high gas prices, the solar panels on the White House, the search for alternate fuels and cars?  

    We are still searching for more fossil fuels instead of finding other sources of fuel. Right now in Michigan we are fighting against "fracking" in our state lands and rural neighborhoods. How in the world can injecting toxic chemicals into the earth be OK?

    Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

    by 50sbaby on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:55:31 AM PDT

  •  alternatives (0+ / 0-)

    Hope is, after all, the currency of popular politics, and a coin surprisingly hard to devalue. -- Fred Anderson, Crucible of War

    by ornerydad on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:35:18 AM PDT

  •  We've had fires across our city in KY (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deha, Oh Mary Oh, JeffW, maryabein, ratzo

    Lexington... in the dried out, burnt up Bluegrass.

    Fireworks have been banned.

    The 109.4 degree heat scorched my blueberries badly. Broccoli heads were very small this year... maybe half of my yield from last year. Cabbage is small too. Tomatoes and beans are off.

    Even my Egyptian walking onions are dried out.

    And I pretty much tried to keep them all watered. Rain barrel is sitting on empty. No rain to refill.

    The only plants that have withstood the brunt of this heat wave without wilting were my roses and the tomatoes. And the damn crabgrass that thrives while everything else dies. Kind of like hedge funds.

    In my honor he pulled out old forgotten dignity and walked straight in a crooked world. ~~poetry of young Barack Obama

    by bronte17 on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:48:29 AM PDT

  •  Remember 35 degC / 98 degF WETBULB (5+ / 0-)

    If you cool a thermometer with enough water to evaporate, you get a wet bulb temperature.

    The difference between wet bulb thermometer readings and dry bulb (normal) thermometer readings is inversely proportional to humidity. The closer humidity gets to 100%, the less difference can be made by evaporation.

    Perspiration cools your body by evaporation.

    When the wet bulb temperature gets above 98 degF your body can no longer cool itself by sweating. And then your body temperature starts to rise, inexorably, because your heart keeps on beating and that requires effort.

    If temperatures remain above 98 degF for long you will die. Sitting in the shade not moving, you'll die.

    By 2050 there will be summer days in the American south east - Atlanta, Houston - where the wet bulb temperature is above 98 degF all day.

    And if a power outage occurs on one of those days, many people without air conditioning will die. Sitting in their homes, in the shade, not moving, they'll die.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:50:29 AM PDT

    •  I have lived in areas with very high temps, higher (0+ / 0-)

      than 98.

      I haven't died yet, and we didn't have ac.

      That being said, it can hurt you and yes, it can kill you.

      You need plenty of liquids first off. And a shady place to hide.

      If we start loosing access to water, then we will be in deep caca.

      •  Wet Bulb temperature is the key idea (0+ / 0-)

        98 degrees dry bulb is common.
        98 degrees wet bulb is not.

        Here's a calculator:

        For example, 110 deg F dry bulb and 11% humidity = 70 deg F wet bulb. At 11% humidity you can cool yourself pretty effectively.

        110 deg F dry bulb and 46% humidity = 90 deg F wet bulb. Sweating is doing you a lot less good but is still helping.

        110 deg F dry bulb and 66% humidity = 98 deg F wet bulb. You can no longer cool yourself and have to avoid all exertion.

        110 deg F dry bulb and 97% humidity = 109 deg F wet bulb. You will die sitting still in the shade rather quickly as your body temperature rises.

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:47:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  every one knows the weather is weird (0+ / 0-)

    around here.  But this is teabagger country, really red, heavily evangelical, and they can't admit to the causes.   They are just puzzled and worried.  But they'll vote for more crazy right wing politicians and continue to deny global warming is happening or that humans can do anything about it.

  •  I think it's gonna take a food crisis (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ashaman, DrCoyle65, mattc129, tacet

    for reality to sink in.  Weird weather, rising seas, and uncomfortable even dangerous temperatures can be written off as flukes or anomalies.  

    When our food supply is decimated by heat and other extreme weather, people will pay attention.  Right now they're merely bitching about high prices.  There aren't any shortages.  But when people can't buy food, either because of cost or availability, they will clamor for a solution.

    Not until, I'm afraid.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:19:26 AM PDT

  •  Heat Stroke in San Antonio (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, maryabein

    I had to empty my apartment in San Marcos. The date could not be moved. I already had a sinus infection going on and was on antibiotics. It was in the second floor. My electricity in that apartment was already out.

    I suffered heat stroke. It was awful beyond belief.

    Thanking you for highlighting this important issue.

    Please everyone be careful. I would not want anyone to go through what I did. Stay out of the heat. Take lots of breaks. Drink Gatorade. Drink water. Go to the shade. During breaks, get in air conditioning. Watch your body. If in doubt, stop what you are doing. Nothing is worth jeopardizing your life.

    Thank you !

  •  serious question for Kossacks: (9+ / 0-)

    why is the site so preoccupied with other material? Why do y'all spend so much time blogging on Chick-fil-a and Social Security and Jerry Sandusky and what have you? This is a planetary crisis, it should be taking up 50% or more of our activist time, and yet we only notice when there's a combination of a freaky weather/climate event and a gifted writer or two.

    Panelist, Netroots Nation 2012, "Coal and the Grassroots Fight for Environmental Justice." @RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:21:50 AM PDT

    •  I'm in the same boat (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLMiller, citisven

      Agree with the 50% assessment.

    •  I think it's because of the despair factor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it's a problem so big that most folks can't really wrap their mind around it. Also, there's a little bit of denial in all of us, since some of the things we'd have to do to really deal with this is to give up our cushy lifestyles. Even those of us who are relatively conscious of this generally still live way too high on the hog. Also, since it's not happening everywhere all the time (it's a cool morning here in SF) it's easy to forget about it again when the fires/floods/heatwaves subside. It's actually not that different from all the other big issues. Jerry Sandusky is going to soon be yesterday's news and health care will go back to obscurity in a few weeks or after the next election. I think it's just how we humans are wired, our brains latch on to whatever is in our immediate mental and physical environment. That's not to say we aren't capable of looking at the bigger picture, but it takes a lot of willpower and practice, and especially in the age of instant media and pixels looking at the broader scope of any issue seems to be moving further away from our realities. I think the only thing that's going to wake people up is more and more of these disasters, unfortunately the tough love from mama Earth may be the one thing that'll get us out of our small thinking.

    •  Not everyone is an expert climatologist. (0+ / 0-)

      Others have different areas they're knowledgable in, and thus they write about what they know.

    •  Different topics are focused on by different (0+ / 0-)

      People. I think it works out great. Because I sure as heck cannot know everything. So it's nice to read about topics that other people care about, to get their perspective, but also to backtrack links.

      Keep in mind that on a corporate/political level, much of this is all interconnected.

  •  I'm in NW Indiana. I must have missed the worst (0+ / 0-)

    while I was asleep, but I did notice a bunch of branches in our yard.  INCLUDING from a young willow.  I've NEVER seen wind take off willow branches before.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:55:38 AM PDT

  •  Don't worry. We can adapt! (0+ / 0-)

    We'll just cut all the trees down! Done and done.

    (That was snark).

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 09:08:42 AM PDT

  •  Sacramento (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Our climate has become more cool.  Once we had high heat routinely during the summer that could easily make a person sick.  Plants and animals would fade from the stress.  All the plants, animals and sea creatures in our environment have been making changes.  If I wanted to go over the mountain into the large basin that includes empty Nevada, I could have a house delivered that would be complete without the grid (solar panels, windmill, battery packs).  My ancestors were always "moving on".  I never thought that would be the way of my Grandchildren, but Mother Nature is making changes and we will need to respond.  My relatives in the DC area seems to be in a living hell.  I hope the Congress gets some of it too.

  •  Just wait... (0+ / 0-)

    until America can no longer grow enough food to feed itself, let alone the rest of the world.  Meanwhile, if you thought the Keystone Pipeline meant "game over" for climate change, the game is really over if the Pacific Northwest's ports become the "pipeline" for exporting massive amounts of coal from Wyoming and Montana.  See

  •  just had near heatstroke (0+ / 0-)

    3 days without power, in 100 degree weather.

    yup i'm in maryland

    and yes its just a taste of the hell we have unleashed

    fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

    by mollyd on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:23:29 AM PDT

  •  I suggest that some Scientists are overly- (0+ / 0-)

    conservative in their predictions, because if they told the truth, the Teabaggers would wail and thrash around on the floor.

    Apparently it's okay to encourage doomsday-preppers to get ready for the "Rapture" but it's unacceptable to even speak of anthropocentric global climate change that drives extreme weather events, could eventually increase global vulcanism, will destabilize food and water security and generally create a hell on earth for those who are not rich enough to own a private helipad.

    I can here the collective WAAAAAAAAAAAAH, every time I see the subject hinted at.

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