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Monday, March 31, 2014

Please File That In The "Freakin' Obvious" Section.

So this morning as I opened up the computer to begin my day I couldn't help but notice this blaring news article...

Global warming dials up our risks, UN report says

Associated Press

    FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2013 file photo, Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. In an authoritative report due out Monday, March 31, 2014, a United Nations climate panel for the first time is connecting hotter global temperatures to hotter global tempers. Top scientists are saying that climate change will complicate and worsen existing global security problems, such as civil wars, strife between nations and refugees. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File)
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    YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — If the world doesn't cut pollution of heat-trapping gases, the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral "out of control," the head of a United Nations scientific panel warned Monday.
    And he's not alone. The Obama White House says it is taking this new report as a call for action, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying "the costs of inaction are catastrophic."
    Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that issued the 32-volume, 2,610-page report here early Monday, told The Associated Press: "it is a call for action." Without reductions in emissions, he said, impacts from warming "could get out of control."
    One of the study's authors, Maarten van Aalst, a top official at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said, "If we don't reduce greenhouse gases soon, risks will get out of hand. And the risks have already risen."
    Twenty-first century disasters such as killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in the United States, droughts in Australia and deadly flooding in Mozambique, Thailand and Pakistan highlight how vulnerable humanity is to extreme weather, according to the report from the Nobel Prize-winning group of scientists. The dangers are going to worsen as the climate changes even more, the report's authors said.
    "We're now in an era where climate change isn't some kind of future hypothetical," said the overall lead author of the report, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. "We live in an area where impacts from climate change are already widespread and consequential."
    Nobody is immune, Pachauri and other scientists said.
    "We're all sitting ducks," Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer, one of the main authors of the report, said in an interview.
    After several days of late-night wrangling, more than 100 governments unanimously approved the scientist-written 49-page summary — which is aimed at world political leaders. The summary mentions the word "risk" an average of about 5 1/2 times per page.
    "Changes are occurring rapidly and they are sort of building up that risk," Field said.
    These risks are both big and small, according to the report. They are now and in the future. They hit farmers and big cities. Some places will have too much water, some not enough, including drinking water. Other risks mentioned in the report involve the price and availability of food, and to a lesser and more qualified extent some diseases, financial costs and even world peace.
    "Things are worse than we had predicted" in 2007, when the group of scientists last issued this type of report, said report co-author Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University in Bangladesh. "We are going to see more and more impacts, faster and sooner than we had anticipated."
    The problems have gotten so bad that the panel had to add a new and dangerous level of risks. In 2007, the biggest risk level in one key summary graphic was "high" and colored blazing red. The latest report adds a new level, "very high," and colors it deep purple.
    You might as well call it a "horrible" risk level, said van Aalst: "The horrible is something quite likely, and we won't be able to do anything about it."
    The report predicts that the highest level of risk would first hit plants and animals, both on land and the acidifying oceans.
    Climate change will worsen problems that society already has, such as poverty, sickness, violence and refugees, according to the report. And on the other end, it will act as a brake slowing down the benefits of a modernizing society, such as regular economic growth and more efficient crop production, it says.
    "In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans," the report says.
    And if society doesn't change, the future looks even worse, it says: "Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts."
    While the problems from global warming will hit everyone in some way, the magnitude of the harm won't be equal, coming down harder on people who can least afford it, the report says. It will increase the gaps between the rich and poor, healthy and sick, young and old, and men and women, van Aalst said.
    But the report's authors say this is not a modern day version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Much of what they warn of are more nuanced troubles that grow by degrees and worsen other societal ills. The report also concedes that there are uncertainties in understanding and predicting future climate risks.
    The report, the fifth on warming's impacts, includes risks to the ecosystems of the Earth, including a thawing Arctic, but it is far more oriented to what it means to people than past versions.
    The report also notes that one major area of risk is that with increased warming, incredibly dramatic but ultra-rare single major climate events, sometimes called tipping points, become more possible with huge consequences for the globe. These are events like the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which would take more than 1,000 years.
    "I can't think of a better word for what it means to society than the word 'risk,'" said Virginia Burkett of the U.S. Geological Survey, one of the study's main authors. She calls global warming "maybe one of the greatest known risks we face."
    Global warming is triggered by heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, that stay in the atmosphere for a century. Much of the gases still in the air and trapping heat came from the United States and other industrial nations. China is now by far the No. 1 carbon dioxide polluter, followed by the United States and India.
    Unlike in past reports, where the scientists tried to limit examples of extremes to disasters that computer simulations can attribute partly to man-made warming, this version broadens what it looks at because it includes the larger issues of risk and vulnerability, van Aalst said.
    Freaky storms like 2013's Typhoon Haiyan, 2012's Superstorm Sandy and 2008's ultra-deadly Cyclone Nargis may not have been caused by warming, but their fatal storm surges were augmented by climate change's ever rising seas, he said.
    And in the cases of the big storms like Haiyan, Sandy and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the poor were the most vulnerable, Oppenheimer and van Aalst said. The report talks about climate change helping create new pockets of poverty and "hotspots of hunger" even in richer countries, increasing inequality between rich and poor.
    Report co-author Maggie Opondo of the University of Nairobi said that especially in places like Africa, climate change and extreme events mean "people are going to become more vulnerable to sinking deeper into poverty." And other study authors talked about the fairness issue with climate change.
    "Rich people benefit from using all these fossil fuels," University of Sussex economist Richard Tol said. "Poorer people lose out."
    Huq said he had hope because richer nations and people are being hit more, and "when it hits the rich, then it's a problem" and people start acting on it.
    Part of the report talks about what can be done: reducing carbon pollution and adapting to and preparing for changing climates with smarter development.
    The report echoes an earlier U.N. climate science panel that said if greenhouse gases continue to rise, the world is looking at another about 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3.5 or 4 degrees Celsius) of warming by 2100 instead of the international goal of not allowing temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius). The difference between those two outcomes, Princeton's Oppenheimer said, "is the difference between driving on an icy road at 30 mph versus 90 mph. It's risky at 30, but deadly at 90."
    Tol, who is in the minority of experts here, had his name removed from the summary because he found it "too alarmist," harping too much on risk.
    But the panel vice chairman, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, said that's not quite right: "We are pointing for reasons for alarm ... It's because the facts and the science and the data show that there are reasons to be alarmed. It's not because we're alarmist."
    The report is based on more than 12,000 peer reviewed scientific studies. Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, a co-sponsor of the climate panel, said this report was "the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline."
    Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who wasn't part of this report, said he found the report "very conservative" because it is based on only peer reviewed studies and has to be approved unanimously.
    There is still time to adapt to some of the coming changes and reduce heat-trapping emissions, so it's not all bad, said study co-author Patricia Romero-Lankao of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.
    "We have a closing window of opportunity," she said. "We do have choices. We need to act now."

    ....and it got me thinking, does anyone really still try and contradict this?  Even more importantly, why has our generation even tried!?  In our modern day of instant communication and information all it takes is a few memory engrams or perhaps a Google search to realize that as early as the most recent Bush administration hand picked scientists were being trotted out in front of the media to contest any findings supporting the theory of "climate change" or the more water downed "friendly" tag line of "Global Warming".  Yes, lets face it, they even try and soften the blow by altering our perception of the impending damage.  "Climate" catches our attention.  We can all recognize it's importance and the word "Change"?  Well, no one really likes change.  Change is perceived in the generally pessimistic mind of humans as bad.  SO, with the more recent positive, hand holding, good feelings associated with the word "Global" we hear that word and say "ahhhh, isn't that nice?" and "warming"?  Well, what else but nice, fluffy, candy coated connotations can be compared to the secure feeling of being "warm".  We like our terminology to be friendly!
    So as I'm reading this article an intense feeling of "Deja vu" comes over me, quickly realizing that this is all like tuning into a really bad rerun of some lack luster 80's sitcom!  I've read this ALL before, many times over.  The warnings, the impending disaster and the responsibilities we ALL must embrace to change it.  However, I have no doubt that all the hand ringing, "concerned" powers that be will do exactly what they have always done.
    Whether we accept it or not the majority of our culture looks to politicians and media to direct us on how to "react" to any given situation, all the while bemoaning the fact that they all lie.  But when, in the rare chance, they actually tell the truth, our blinders go up and we rally against them, as if somehow the bad news was their fault.
    Could you imagine what would happen if a policy maker stood before the American public and told them what they really needed to? 
    "OK folks, from now on a few changes.  First, any vehicle with an MPG of less then 45 will be immediately impounded, destroyed and recycled.  Second, each remaining vehicle will be limited to X amount of hours on the road, and each household will only be allowed to have one registered vehicle.  Furthermore, petroleum prices will now be in excess of ten dollars a gallon, with the additional tax being used to fund clean up and green energy development.  Industry will be met with emissions restrictions ten fold their original limitations and any infraction will result in fines of billions per day.  Any and all fossil fuel producing company henceforth will be required to invest 50%  of all profits into renewable energy research"
    Well, that politicians career would end the second he left the podium as the majority of everyone lines up to lynch him!
    Our reaction to global warming can be sumed up in this little tale.
    "A man stands at an intersection with his Son and his grandson.  As the cross walk light signals "walk" the older gentleman begins to step off the curb when he notices a truck barreling down on them, ignoring the red light.  The older man stops, fearing his own demise and taps his son on the shoulder and points to the oncoming truck.  As they both watch the truck speeding headlong through the red light, they allow the younger boy to walk into its path and be crushed"
    Yep, that's what we are all doing folks!  We SEE the dangers we KNOW they are lurking out there but we fail to act each and every day!  Nikola Tesla predicted "Climate Change" at the beginning of the 20th century, but was ridiculed and silenced by the power elite. Why"  because it cut into their bottom line, and they needed to discredit him.  Which they did.  The most brilliant mind in human history with so much more left to give humanity and he was driven into obscurity, and for what?  So Edison could rule the electrical industry. 
    Yep, same old song and dance, money and power.
    OK, OK I know, I'm railing! 
    The morale of the story is we each need to stop waiting for someone to tell us the right thing to do, like a bunch of mewling, unruly babies that want to kick and scream and hold our breath because Mommy told us we couldn't have a freaking cookie!
    Reuse, re-cycle, re-purpose, walk, ride a skateboard, ride a bike.
    yea...sorry...I'm in a mood.

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    1. Oh, my. You couldn't stick with the soft topics, like abortion, God and Justin Beiber, could you? Ah, climate change, is there anything it can't do?

      IF the alarmists are right, we are in for some fun times as we run out of those fossil fuels causing the aforementioned climate change. If the alarmists are right, we might see a big swing from global warming back to global cooling. The northern hemisphere came out of The Little Ice Age right about the time coal became a popular energy source, replacing wood. Interesting coincidence, that.

      Conventional oil extraction peaked in the fourth quarter of 2005. We've been riding a sort of energy mesa (what some have dubbed "the bumpy plateau" for almost ten years now. The longer we keep at it, holding tight to the status quo, the harder the fall off the far side. Think "Thelma and Louise" here.

      We are, no matter what, no matter who is right, living the Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times".

      Keep your bike tires pumped.

    2. To quote the Angel Gabriel "It's only in the face of horror that you truly find your noblest self". Such is the folly of man.

    3. Oh, we're gonna have PLENTY of opportunites to be all noble. Or complete jerks about it. It can go either way.

      My favorite question on the subject must be this: Are the Chinese doing it on purpose? That is, are they working so very hard to use up every bit of fossil fuel they can get their hands on because they really dig the "Western" lifestyle, or do they know that by doing so, they are hastening the end of Western civilization as it is today?

      Guess which one I think it is.