Food For Thought #13: Climate Change: The Elephant In The Room!

The United States Climate Communication (Science & Outreach) ( recently released a report entitled: ‘Heatwaves and Climate Change’ which said in summary;

“Climate change is already affecting extreme weatherThe National Academy of Sciences reports that the hottest days are now hotter.  And the fingerprint of global warming behind this change has been firmly identified.

Since 1950 the number of heat waves worldwide has increased, and heat waves have become longer.  The hottest days and nights have become hotter and more frequent.  In the past several years, the global area hit by extremely unusual hot summertime temperatures has increased 50-fold.  Over the contiguous United States, new record high temperatures over the past decade have consistently outnumbered new record lows by a ratio of 2:1.  In 2012, the ratio for the year through June 18 stands at nearly 10:1.  Though this ratio is not expected to remain at that level for the rest of the year, it illustrates how unusual 2012 has been, and how these types of extremes are becoming more likely.

The significant increase in heat extremes we have witnessed associated with a small shift in the global average temperature is consistent with climate change.  The percentage change in the number of very hot days can be quite large.  Global warming boosts the probability of very extreme events, like the recent “Summer in March” episode in the U.S. in which thousands of new record highs were set, far more than it changes the likelihood of more moderate events.

Higher spring and summer temperatures, along with an earlier spring melt, are also the primary factors driving the increasing frequency of large wildfires and lengthening the fire season in the western U.S. over recent decades.  The record-breaking fires this year in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Region are consistent with these trends.

The impact of these changes can be devastating.  The drought, heat wave and associated record wildfires that hit Texas and the Southern Plains in the summer of 2011 cost US$12 billion.”

That puts the issue of the relationship between Climate Change and weather extremes pretty succinctly.  There were two graphics among several in the report which impressed for their clarity and explanatory simplicity. They are attached below.

The whole report is worthy of a read as is the New Scientist article ‘Running Wild’ (July 7, pp31-37).  See also ‘Food For Thought #3’ July 2011.

Graphic 1: Ratios of Record High Temperatures to Record Low Temperatures


Graphic 2: IPCC (2001) Graph Illustrating how a Shift and/or Widening of a Probability Distribution of Temperatures Affects the Probability of Extremes.


There are still those who continue to believe, despite increasingly overwhelming evidence, that Anthropogenic Climate Change is garbage and that the weather is unchanged.  You have to wonder when (or if) these denialists will come to their senses?  When they lie gasping and dying from heat exhaustion perhaps, or a violent storm tears away all that they have worked for, or when it is far too late to alter the inevitable juggernaut of Uncontainable Climate Change.  As we have a TLA (that’s three letter acronym) for Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) how about UCC for Unconstrained Climate Change?  And when it really gets nasty we could add a Fully to the front and Ending in Disaster to the back giving us Fully Unconstrained Climate Change Ending in Disaster or ‘FUCCED’ for short!  And that really is food for thought  . . . . . .!

About deknarf

Australian born and bred who has spent most of his working life in R&D and IP management with earlier forays in the newspaper industry and martial arts. Fortunate enough to be living in one of the best countries in the World, even though I might get grumpy with it from time to time.
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15 Responses to Food For Thought #13: Climate Change: The Elephant In The Room!

  1. Sax says:

    BTW, to reinforce my theory, there was telly program last year, called Life After People

    Worth a look !


  2. Sax says:

    Sorry mate, but it goes way further than left/right leaniology here.

    Its all about money, power, and who controls them. Pretty simple really.
    Looking at it honestly, you have to agree, that the fault lies just as equally on both sides of the political spectrum.

    We are having detailed discussions about carbon, then industrialisation, then yada, et al.
    The problems are not being analysed, systematically or collectively, rather, as seperate specific, unrelated events. It has been established, that everything on this planet, has a tenuous symbiotic relationship with everything else, for survival and even flourishment to take place. For man to swoop in, and start stuffing around with that balance, (as he has been), it is not hard to figure out why we are now in such of a sh*t is it ? We have seen, many times over history, what the result of that interference is. Usually, bloody disasterous !

    The massive deforestation of this planet, is robbing our future generations quite literally, their right to breathe. Also, upon this destruction, is the ability of this planet to ‘clean itself’, also disappearing. I may sound like a broken record, but if you think about it for a second, forests (like oceans), act as a pretty good temperature limiting system. We have see what happens once that happens. Remember the bush fires in the Amazon, and Indonesia, all those years back ?

    A new fandangled bloody carbon tax ain’t going to fix that is it ?

    That is where this whole ‘Carbon’ argument has developed from. The ‘tax’ ? Window dressing for the blissfully ignorant.
    It is just sidetracking those weak minds, away from the massive embarrassment, of how the hell we got into this situation in the first place. The greed of Gunns down south in the last few years, their entry into ancient forrests to make a quick buck, should be enough to get everyone thinking and remembering what this is really all about ?
    Funnily enough, even after these last few years, their still there ?
    Virtually digging out the car park, of a world heritage area ffs.

    What’s next, the TNT’ing of Ayer’s Rock, for gold perhaps ?


    • deknarf says:

      Can’t say that I disagree with you about the rape of the planet by the greedy free marketeers et. al. And you are correct a Carbon Tax isn’t going to fix what’s happened to date. But you can’t work on the principle of ‘incentivating’ people. They just take the incentives, put in a bit of lip service, and proceed on their merry way. At least a Carbon Tax (or levy, or whatever you call it) will help to drive a more responsible usage of carboniferous fuels, and potentially the greater use of alternatives.
      There will be a worldwide carbon trading system and this move by Australia is the first step, albeit a tentative one, into that market. At least we won’t be paying catch-up and ‘caught out’ by those who will want to put restrictions on countries that aren’t in the carbon trading market.
      We are not going to stop the monolith which is the demand for resources by some (is it) 5 billlion people by asking for principled behaviour — won’t work, never has. Best that can be done is to hit the people where it hurts based on sound science. That ultimately relies on politicians, who are probably the least responsible, actually acting for the common good. And that is definitely not their strong point — acting in their best interests is. So if its a tax/levy that does that, then so be it! At least it’s better than just talking about it and incentivising people which effectively does nothing. Now if we could just think of a way of stopping the free marketeers from passing on the tax costs to the sucker consumer (their view) — you’d really see some rapid change in Carbon Dioxide emissions!


      • Sax says:

        The pollies think they have the answer for that, in the free market system.
        They think, that naturally, those making the mess, are going to have to pass that new tax down to the consumer, by way of price rises. That will mean that if you do your dirty deeds, less dirtier than your competitor, then that will show up in the retail price difference at the end. We all know how much of a failure that will be. Profit margins will be shifted around, until there is little difference, and onwards and upwards they will all go, with the environment still being the loser in the end ? This is why public servants should get their heads out of things they simply do not understand. Prices in this economy are market set, not government/tax set.

        Also, we have long seen what happens to new inventions, that do better for ALL concerned, than their predecessors ? The patents get bought out, the inventors get rich beyond their wildest dreams, then the discovery is well and truly buried.
        That’s history unfortunately.


  3. lynot says:

    Deknarf. I am well aware of the stalking horse figure of speech. I was having a little levity with our conspiracy theorist friend, which as you know such belief is mostly the domain of the wing nuts. Along with revisionist history, long winded diatribes, and general bullshit of various degrees.

    But be reassured I take nothing wing nuts hold as the truth, serious.

    The global warming debate makes this glaringly obvious. In essence what we have here, is a few right wing bloggers trying to turn the proven science on its head, being aided and abetted by a load of filthy rich shysters and unqualified academics, and I’m having none of it. The Carbon Tax is the “Red Herring” they throw this in to try and negate the reality of the situation., because it gets the doubting Thomas’s on board by stealth.

    What they would really like to say is, (And I would respect them if they did) that global warming is a load of horse shit and man, has absolutely no influence on it. But you see they have painted themselves into a corner. Unwilling to accept they fucked up. They have kept up this load of utter denialist tripe hoping it would all get better, and some mirical will pop out of he blue. Well it ain’t, and they’re wrong, end of.

    If you go to some of the wingnut sites, they are back peddling now at a rate of knots. If it walks like a Duck! You know the rest.


  4. Sax says:

    When the radical looney left comes up with Carbon as to the reason for our woes, you betcha life we need more research, and bloody quickly !

    Think it through people, ffs, just a little brain matter is all that is required here.

    What has happened on this planet to cause this latest wave of paranoia ? Don’t even have to go back all that far. The early 1900’s, even later will do ?
    Massive deforestation
    Burning of fossil fuels, at an alarming rate.

    We need more than paying a few extra tax dollars to solve the problem.

    Does anyone honestly think this new carbon tax will achieve the magical cure.
    Its all a bloody con.
    We have to radically change how we do things on this planet.
    Unless we begin taxing carbon, or really just straight out pollution at a 1000%,
    Unless we begin taxing forestry in our native forests at a 1000%
    then nothing will change.

    Its not that hard people ?


    • deknarf says:

      I’d suggest that the Carbon Levy will start industries thinking seriously about reducing their CO2 emissions and doing something about becoming more energy efficient and utilising alternative energy sources to fossil fuels. Charging them for what they generate is much more sensible that just ‘incentivising’ them to do something, because basically they’ll take the incentive and puddle around the edges, basically doing nothing until they are forced.
      It also aligns Australia with a levy system that much of the rest of the world is using to some degree or another. And there will eventually be a carbon trading system. What little derivatives trader could resist something that deals in intangibles!
      Whilst countries like China aren’t on the bandwagon they are working quietly in the background to minimise their emissions and to create infrastructure and businesses that will be at the forefront of environmentally benign energy generation and capable of flogging their products (cheaply) to the world when the sh*t hits the fan and the real panic begins.
      I’d like to see Australia on the front, rather than the back foot in terms of preparedness and new industries.
      The world’s a changing, the old industries are disappearing (or being priced out of our economy), and there’s a simple mantra you can apply in such circumstances: ‘Adapt or die!’
      My main concern is that we don’t have the visionaries and forward planners in either side of politics the take us where we need to be.


      • Sax says:

        I love your idealism deknarf, but what you are suggesting, I think will never happen.
        I am constantly reminded, when reading of this new, you beaut carbon tax, and how it will save the environment, and think back to Hardies, and the massive damage done by them with asbestos. Remember that little fiasco ? Once the law suit judgements began to go against them, what happened ? They were suddenly insolvent, set up a massive compo fund, that was supposed to last forever, liquidated, packed up shop, then summarily went broke, and hightailed it overseas, never to be heard from again.

        That is what is going to happen to our industries in Australia at some point. Funny thing is, they will simply set up shop in say China or elsewhere in Asia, expel the same pollution, and then send their products back to Australian markets, which our governments, starved of cash, will allow in, after charging appropriate import duties.

        Remember, countries like China for example have only grown a conscience, in the last few years, because, economically, it makes sense for them to do so. They know the world is watching them, and what they are doing, and more importantly how they are doing it. As an example of this propaganda war, look at what they had to do, to get a clean rep, when the games were in Beijing ? They virtually had to shut the city down, two months before the games, so the air would be clean enough to breath ffs. Anyone done an air sample test over Beijing since by any chance ? We would love to, have the gear to do it, but cross into China’s air space, and we would be shot down in minutes.

        I know our carbon tax will be small, but I think we would have far more reaching success, if we really made this about the environment, and not the government bank balance, we do what we started in the seventies. If we gave back real teeth to environment legislation, that was around in the seventies, that was really starting to show promise, then I think the outcomes would be much more attainable.

        As for the discussion regarding alternate energy sources, and please, I don’t mean to be condascending, but didn’t we just do that ? Look at what happened down south. Cash strapped government departments, are chomping at the bit, to attempt to introduce new taxing regimes, to get at this technology, and its owners. Meters on private water bores, solar electricity to the grid sold back for twenty cents on the dollar and so on.
        Not much of an incentive is it ?

        I am a little more positive than you perhaps deknarf, but, and it is a pretty big but.
        We are already at the forefront of new industries, new technologies, but unfortunately, at every turn, we are faced with government greed and red tape. Energy production and distribution, is very much the purview of government, and as such, in desperation to keep that income flowing, they are not going to be condusive to anything, that may lessen that income curve are they ?

        Deep down they may want to save the environment, but for the present, of higher concern is the balancing of their budgets, and they will never do that, if people begin changing to renewables, and start “going off the grid” ? The increasing of power bills by the amounts they have in the last few months, will achieve just that, and inadvertently may begin to solve one of the problems with the environment, i.e. coal generated power, but at a cost. That cost being the disaster that is fast becoming state government budets ?


        • deknarf says:

          Well Sax, they do say that ‘patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’, so maybe idealism is ‘the last refuge of the young and the old buggers’! :-O
          At least its a start, and positions us well when the world powers finally start making some rules about reducing carbon emissions. 2012/2013 should be an interesting couple of years.


    • Sax says:

      I hope this goes in the right place.

      Certainly, we are amongst world leaders in this legislation and new taxation regime.
      A lot of countries, are merely sitting back, and watching what happens here, before tackling the problem in their own back yards. It will be interesting to see how it all washes out in the end.

      I still think that out of Australia’s population, the government, or the environment, the government coffers and egos, will be the only winners here.


  5. nonviolentconflict says:

    Reblogged this on NonviolentConflict.


  6. victorlittle says:

    Climate Change isn’t an elephant – it’s a horse. A stalking horse. Suspension of democracy; government control of the media, population levels, wealth, and everything — that’s the real ends pursued by these fictitious means.

    It’s only a few centuries since witches were blamed for extreme weather. The more things change, the more hysteria-prone power-mad puritans stay the same.


    • lynot says:

      “Climate Change isn’t an elephant – it’s a horse. A stalking horse ”

      Jesus! A stalking horse? I’ve heard of a rocking horse, a wooden horse, and a race horse, but a stalking horse? Maybe it’s Mr Ed.

      Suspension of democracy tee he. It must be the UFO’S and Black helicopters the right wingers love so much. I know it’s because Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. wasn’t it?

      As for control of he media, well ya got that bit right, pardon the pun. It belongs to the right why shouldn’t they control it?

      Witches blamed for extreme weather> I knew it, so that’s the problem?


      • deknarf says:

        Lynot. Courtesy of Wikipedia: “A stalking horse is a figure that tests a concept with someone or mounts a challenge against someone on behalf of an anonymous third party. If the idea proves viable or popular, the anonymous figure can then declare its interest and advance the concept with little risk of failure. If the concept fails, the anonymous party will not be tainted by association with the failed concept and can either drop the idea completely or bide its time and wait until a better moment for launching an attack”.
        And without further ado, I leave any further commentary to those more familiar with conspiracy theories! I’m off to have a Bex, and a good lie down! 😉


  7. lynot says:

    Denialists!a strange phenomena indeed. It really only confirms what other research has concluded, that right wingers are all as thick as two short planks. Because, at the end of the day it is mostly only right wingers that deny the obvious. The fact is, that most of the worlds bona fide scientists have not only concluded the problem is real, but we just may be reaching a point of no return.

    The only thing that the rancid right wingers can come up with to buttress their ridiculous arguments is, scientists are after research grants. Of course the denilists bought and paid for pseudo scientists (who do have ulterior motives) have come up with evidence to the contrary. Well hello! It is just as well they are looking for money grants to do research. Or should we have just have let polio plague the planet and the myriad of other diseases that plague mankind, that have been mostly eradicated through research? The right wing num nuts would rather the money spent on research, better spent on caviar and nice wines. It is common knowledge they don’t like paying taxes, of course only when it dawns on them they may just need a hospital, or new road.

    At the end of the day, it is about ideology nothing else. The right think that any attempt to link global warming with industry will see their meal ticket washed down the drain. Frankly they’re fools, whose opinions should not even be given the dignity of a reply. We are talking about the future of the planet, paying a few extra tax dollars will be the least of our worries if we don’t respond to this problem..


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