TURN IT UP

I've sat on this too long for it to qualify as timely, but those of us on the top half of the planet might be interested to know that it's so goddamn hot in Australia that they had to make up new colors for their weather maps. I think purple represents "Somebody please kill me." Unsurprisingly, massive wildfires have followed.

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Meanwhile, American winter weather is careening wildly back and forth between massive snowstorms and January tornado outbreaks. And while we have gone several months without a city being submerged, I think The Onion pretty much nailed this back in November with, "Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On."

Following Hurricane Sandy’s destructive tear through the Northeast this week, the nation’s 300 million citizens looked upon the trail of devastation and fully realized, for the first time, that this is just going to be something that happens from now on.

Gradually comprehending that this sort of thing is now just a fact of life, citizens all across America stared blankly at images of destroyed homes, major cities paralyzed by flooding, and ravaged communities covered in debris, and finally acknowledged that this, apparently, is now a regular part of the human experience.

“Oh, I see—this is just going to be how it is from here on out,” said New York City resident Brian Marcello, coming to terms with the fact that an immense storm that cripples mass transit systems and knocks out power for millions in the nation’s largest metropolitan area can no longer be regarded as an isolated, freak incident, and will henceforth be just a normal thing that happens.

You know, no big deal. We just kinda broke the planet. Move along. Let's learn more about Clean Coal or something.

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41 Responses to “TURN IT UP”

  1. chautauqua Says:

    If you've seen one mass extinction, you've seen them all.

  2. argleblargle Says:

    Don't worry, we can all just move to Antarctica.

  3. Dr. Mac Says:

    http://vimeo.com/59950393

  4. Middle Seaman Says:

    I repeat, there is no global warming. I repeat, there is no global warming. I repeat, there is no global warming. I repeat, there is no global warming. I repeat, there is no global warming.

  5. Both Sides Do It Says:

    Nah there's global warming but it's due to sunspots. Or it's natural variation. Or we're still coming back from the Little Ice Age. Or the effects will be noticeable but too small to bother worrying about.

    Or trying to solve it is technologically impossible. Or trying to solve it means too many people have to be too altruistic to be feasible. Or trying to solve it means seeding the clouds with sulfur or overloading the ocean floor with algae or other things the librul hippies won't allow.

    Or we don't need to solve it because it will be net beneficial. Or we don't need to solve it because it will be net beneficial for the US. Or we don't need to solve it because it will be net beneficial for the rich. Or we don't need to solve it because fuck it I won't be around.

  6. Sarah Says:

    I think the Onion is giving Americans way too much credit.

  7. c u n d gulag Says:

    The whole world over, the labels won't matter: Democrat/Republican/Liberal/Conservative/Libertarian, or whatever the local franchise of those parties is called, world-wide – if we don't wake-up and do something soon, if any intelligent life forms develop after us, or come here, we humans will be looked upon as a malicious and self-destructive form of trilobite.

    Trilobites might be extinct, but at least they didn't make themselves extinct by using fossil fuels. They became part of the fossil fuel that we gave grown dependent on, like we are petro-junkies:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilobite#Final_extinction

  8. Major Kong Says:

    I think we broke the planet.

  9. jon Says:

    Well, at least those fossil fuels will get more expensive. That won't cause any trouble.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    Just wait until the coming "Water Wars."

    If it's not cold enough, and mountains don't retain enough snow and ice during the winters, and melt it off in the springs and summers, it could get really ugly, really fast.

    It won't be long before people look upon the title of "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and think it's even more fictive than the characters in the story.

  11. John Says:

    The "Water Wars" are already happening, C U N D. Georgia and Tennessee have been squabbling about borders for years, and it's entirely about which state has natural access rights to a bit of water that lies close to the border.

    I am reminded of that charming little bit in Alien Resurrection, where the big rough bald guy of the crew hears the prospect of having to return to Earth and summing it up with a disgusted look. "Earth, what a shithole."

  12. Sarah Says:

    According to this list of weather records there are a lot of hottest temperature records which have been set in the last five to ten years. Conversely, there are very few which have been set in the same time period. It would seem to dispel the idea that the recent cold weather spates prove the non-existence of climate change caused by global warming.

  13. Sarah Says:

    Gah!

    I meant to say, "Conversely, there are very few COLDEST TEMPERATURE RECORDS which have been set in the same time period."

    I second the call for an edit button.

  14. JohnR Says:

    Eh, since most people live only in the "now", and think the past was always like this, the Onion piece was (hey, surprise!) pretty darned accurate. I think as a species we tend to remember back about three weeks, and then it all dissolves into a sort of blur of "now-ness". Sure, we tell our kids that we walked twenty miles to school through hip-deep snow, uphill, both ways, but in all honesty, how much of our childhood weather do we recall beyond a few exceptional events? It's all too easy to match those events up with these events and say there hasn't been any change, especially considering the near-invincible human ability to rationalize away anything that contradicts our beliefs.

  15. Major Kong Says:

    Whiskey's for drinkin', water's for fighin' over.

    (old saying out west)

  16. sluggo Says:

    What so bad about a global warming? Winters don't kill me now. I get a reasonable heating bill, and before the end of my life, my house will be ocean front property.

    I want to buy a Hummer, just to let it idle in my driveway.

  17. sluggo Says:

    Plus global warming will finish the job that Bill Sherman started in Georgia!

  18. Nick Says:

    Water out west has already been handled incredibly irresponsibly, even before climate change really started in earnest.

    At this point, the only way the allocation of the Colorado will be sustainable is if Los Angeles falls into the sea. And maybe somehow drags Vegas along with it.

  19. mothra Says:

    If it's not cold enough, and mountains don't retain enough snow and ice during the winters, and melt it off in the springs and summers, it could get really ugly, really fast.

    Already happening in Colorado and NM. But you need to add to that the fact that it doesn't even snow enough for snow to build up, so being cold enough doesn't really matter. Living in the SW all my life, I have noticed very much the difference in the climate from my youth to now–and the largest changes have happened in the last 3 years or so. We are so fucked. Well, I should say those younger than me are fucked. Because I'll happily be dead before it gets REALLY bad.

    I seriously don't know why people have children anymore. Doesn't seem very humane honestly.

  20. Dave Dell Says:

    Israel controls the water. There will be no solution in that area of the world until an equitable allocation of water resources is achieved. That is, never.

    When the glaciers that feed the Ganges (among other rivers) are not supplying the needed meltwater… Hundreds of millions of thirsty, angry, desperate people with nothing to lose…

    People… what we can't fuck up we'll shit on.

  21. c u n d gulag Says:

    mothra,
    What I don't understand, is the rich and powerful people who have children and grandchildren, and why they don't want to even talk about doing something?

    It's not like they and their families can all "Go Galt" to another planet that's out there waiting for them.

    Well, I guess being sociopaths, they just don't give a sh*t – as long as they're not the ones that'll have to suffer the consequences.

  22. Mo Says:

    And let's not forget all that methyl mercury wafting through the atmosphere and falling into our water supplies…

    My water supply is rainwater catchment, so needless to say I can hardly wait for when radioactive fallout gets circulated by our global weather systems and lands on my rooftop. It's probably just a question of time, I fear. A fear I'd like to be wrong about, of course.

  23. Edward Says:

    The question right now is whether global warming is going to become a runaway process that heats the planet to 3000 C. If we continue burning fossil fuels without constraint, the answer is yes. Sooner or later, governments will realize action is mandatory. Will it be too late?

  24. bb in GA Says:

    3000C = 5432F

    Is this to be taken seriously? Is it the 'Mother of Worst Cases'? An unhinged computer model?

    Somehow a drive-by claim like this (IMO) does not help the cause of convincing skeptics or 'Climate Change Deniers' by the Science by Consensus gang.

    //bb

  25. sluggo Says:

    Does anyone else think that bb is actually Herschel from The Walking Dead?

  26. bb in GA Says:

    @sluggo

    There ya go. Good ol' 'ad hominem' gets r done every time.

    //bb

  27. tybee Says:

    for those hoping global warming will finish off georgia, guess what the second highest in altitude major metropolitan area is?

    us coastal folks will have to ease a bit closer to macon but hotlanner will still be there long after all y'all new yawkers has drowned…

  28. Wes Says:

    The question right now is whether global warming is going to become a runaway process that heats the planet to 3000 C. If we continue burning fossil fuels without constraint, the answer is yes.

    What the fuck? 3000 C??? Where the hell did you hear that? That's nearly 60% of the temperature of the surface of the Sun (according to wiki: 5505 C). There are stars that don't have a surface temperature as high as 3000 C. Are you really alleging that global warming is going to turn Earth into a M-type star? 'Cause I somehow highly doubt that.

    I've heard that runaway global warming is a real problem, but I've never heard a temperature estimate even remotely that high. Hell, a mean surface temperature of 30 C would be utterly catastrophic for life on Earth. But if you want me to believe 3000 C, I'm going to need to see some VERY convincing citations for that.

  29. Edward Says:

    bb & Wes,

    3000 C does seem pretty high. I thought the figure came from a speech by James Hanson but looking around on the web I don't see it. Here is a quote from his book:

    https://www.sindark.com/2010/02/04/is-runaway-climate-change-possible-hansens-take/

    After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I

  30. Edward Says:

    For some reason the quote was clipped. Here is the entire passage:

    After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.

  31. bb in GA Says:

    @Edward

    I read your ref'd item. Thank you for the info.

    //bb

  32. Ruthie Says:

    Okay, there's plenty of snark. And much as I'm looking forward to cashing out once my condo becomes beachfront property, what have any of us done/attempted to do?

    Electric cars: Cost roughly half as much to charge as a tank of gas in So-Cal. On the other hand, range is limited–and god help you if you get caught on the freeway during rush hour and there's a major accident.

    Hybrids: Seem like a better choice for the time being. Price performance is a bit on the high side, considering that many only get 5-10 mpg more than a well-tuned compact.

    Tires: A major cause of consumption of petroleum, and disposal contributes to air pollution and rapid filling of dumps. If your car requires high performance or run flats, and you live in an area where road maintenance has devolved due to budget cuts, you may be spending close to $1000 per year replacing them. Solution: Push for better road maintenance. If politicians don't listen, save those receipts, and avail yourself of your city/county grievance process to claim damages.

    Solar panels to generate electricity: Would be a great idea, as we have a huge condo complex and lots of land. Downside: The old farts would vote it down because of up-front costs–despite the fact that once it's up and running electricity costs would plummet to near zero during most months.

    Low flow toilets, shower heads, and gray water capture for landscaping. Again, although this would cost only a few hundred bucks per unit for the initial outlay if everyone voted in favor–and would save us close to $100,000 per year in H2O costs for landscaping, no one wants to pay for the solution.

    So yeah, shortly after the ocean waves are practically lapping at our front door, I expect the planet will crisp to a cinder.

    Except for Mitt Romney and family, who probably have a flippin time-share on Mars.

  33. The Other Matt Says:

    We're fucked. We're so, so fucked.

  34. bb in GA Says:

    @Ruthie
    By the numbers

    #1) Electric cars: Cost roughly half as much to charge as a tank of gas in So-Cal. On the other hand, range is limited–and god help you if you get caught on the freeway during rush hour and there's a major accident.

    Unless and until the recharge energy for your e-vehicle is ‘alternative’ you are trading oil/gasoline for coal since about 55-60% of our grid electricity is coal produced. BTW, unless you are using accessories or lights, when e-vehicles are not moving they consume no energy, so there would seem to be no significant range reduction due to the traffic jam.

    2.) Hybrids: Seem like a better choice for the time being. Price performance is a bit on the high side, considering that many only get 5-10 mpg more than a well-tuned compact.

    Hybrids seem like the worst of both worlds.

    3.) Tires: A major cause of consumption of petroleum, and disposal contributes to air pollution and rapid filling of dumps.

    “Approximately 300 million tires get tossed out every year in America and each tire contains about 10 gallons of oil, according to Patrick George, CFO of new age rubber recycler Lehigh Technologies. That comes to 3 billion gallons.”

    According to the USEIA in 2011 the U.S. consumed about 7E09 barrels (@ 42 gal per) for about 300 billion gallons. So we are looking at 1% or so (assuming that oil used in tire production is not significantly greater than what is retained.)

    According to this EPA site, tires account for about 2% of our solid waste material in the US. Re-cycled tires are used in a bunch of areas. We have about a one years’ supply of scrap tires stockpiled. Based on re-cycle usage, this number doesn’t appear to be growing rapidly.

    http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/tires/faq.htm

    4.) Solar panels to generate electricity: Would be a great idea, as we have a huge condo complex and lots of land. Downside: The old farts would vote it down because of up-front costs–despite the fact that once it's up and running electricity costs would plummet to near zero during most months.

    A few issues here – the sun only shines <= 12 hours per day so that some other form of power generation is still required. The capital costs would likely be amortized so that the “up front costs” wouldn’t be the deciding factor, but the actual cost/kwh would certainly reflect that burden.

    There are ongoing maintenance costs with solar that also would be reflected in the cost/kwh. Last time I checked solar was still in the $0.20 – 0.30/kwh at its best. The most cost competitive alternative energy is wind power with operating costs as low as about $0.12 /kwh, but it has a host of other issues that make it a very specialized form of power generation.

    5.) Low flow toilets, shower heads, and gray water capture for landscaping.

    The (Federally mandated) 1.6 gal/flush and the low flow shower heads have been the standard for some time in new construction. Are you talking forced retro fit here? The gray water usage is a code issue that the local AHJ controls.

    6.) So yeah, shortly after the ocean waves are practically lapping at our front door, I expect the planet will crisp to a cinder.
    Except for Mitt Romney and family, who probably have a flippin time-share on Mars.

    Don’t be hatin’ on Mitford…He lost, you’re safe. (BTW I voted for Gov J)

    //bb

  35. Bernard Says:

    no, it's going to be a fun ride to hell. anything that cuts into Big Oil's paystream is not a possibility. here in New Orleans, we had lots of street cars and tracks all over the city. well, that won't happen again. one spot the local rr won't allow right of way on a main avenue. the money has been made and the people owned by the black Gold and it will stay that way.

    i bet most people haven't even heard of street cars or trolleys outside of San Fran. the mind of the consumer has been fried into "my way or the Highway" John Wayne stupidity, aka American exceptionalism.

    Global weather change has been happening for years now. i always laugh when i read about the Right's successfull campaign to dismiss and deny Global weather change. as if their children will find a different Earth to live on. and just think how much ransom these "rich kids" will be worth.

    yes and the Rigth will triumph into the sunset, Mad Max sunset, that is. Proud and snickering all the way. The Rigth know how to con, they have had capitalistic idiots who love money more than life itself.

    as one indian said, more or less, you can eat money after you kill all the fish, animals, and pollute the water.

    but we are going to find out just exactly what that means. Right BB? i'm sure you are proud as all get out of the "misinformation" used to BS all those danged near idiots who believe the "American Way" is the only way.

    watching rich old white men die, couldn't happen fast enough.

  36. Bernard Says:

    edit button anyone?

    you can't eat money after all the food/fish, animals etc.

    i love this site but the editing problem is enough to think twice about pressing the submit button.

    after all, i am a real human, not a republican.

  37. Wes Says:

    Edward,

    FYI, according to wiki, the mean surface temperature of Venus is 462 C. Not even remotely close to 3000 C. But even 462 C is an incredibly unlikely result of global warming here on Earth.

    James Hansen (with an "e") is probably right about the risk of runaway global warming, but there is no need to grossly exaggerate his predictions. If anything, that's just counter productive. He didn't predict 3000 C. We're not looking at 3000 C any time in the next billion years or so. But Hansen is right that we could reach the point where we fucked the atmosphere to the point where runaway global warming fucks all life on Earth. As I said, though, that scenario is more like an increase of 30 C or 100 C, rather than 3000 C.

    So, anyway, you said this:

    3000 C does seem pretty high. I thought the figure came from a speech by James Hanson but looking around on the web I don't see it.

    That's probably because he never said any such thing. Facts matter. I'm familiar with his work, and I've never seen any such thing from him. Runaway global warming? Yes. 3000 C increase in temperature? No. If you want me to believe Hansen said global warming would increase the surface temperature to 3000 C, I need a reliable source for that.

    Until then, you are not in any way helping the environmentalist cause by pulling numbers out of your ass and spewing them on the internet. In fact, your bullshit number just lends ammo to the dumbfuck denialists who want to claim that global warming is nothing more than chicken little alarmism. Claiming that the Earth will soon be almost as hot as the surface of the Sun (without solid evidence) is certainly an example of bullshit alarmism.

    Also, that James Hansen quote does not say that runaway global warming is certain. It says that IF we burn ALL fossil fuels available in the crust of the Earth, THEN runaway global warming is inevitable. But we have not reached that point, and Hansen was not claiming that we have. We can still avoid runaway global warming by curbing carbon output. And even if he were saying we reached that point, he still wasn't claiming that runaway global warming would result in a surface temperature of 3000 C, which is fucking ludicrous. You can't just throw out a number like that without backing it up with lots of data.

    3000 C, dude. Seriously. What the fuck? Wasn't there any part of your brain that asked "Shouldn't I check the facts?" before you posted that? Any whatsoever?

  38. Edward Says:

    O.K. Wes, I should have been more skeptical about 3000 C and I probably misheard something Hansen said.

    I also wrote "If we continue burning fossil fuels without constraint, the answer is yes." which you claim misconstrues "…If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty." At this point you are nitpicking.

  39. Jane Says:

    Solar power is getting down below grid parity in a lot of places, California very much included. Hell, it's even grid parity HERE in STOCKHOLM, 57 degrees north.

    Some countries are allowing solar power owners to feed power into the grid and get paid a fair amount for it, which means the investment is profitable over a pretty short time, and the solar power owner ends up even or in profit after using grid power when the sun isn't shining. That's for a normal sized house. An alternative is to have your electric car plugged into the solar panel, and its battery will store the energy you don't use immediately.

    ( But electric cars seem not to be really ready for mass adoption)

    One good thing about solar power is that it produces most power when power is most needed in most climates , in the middle of hot sunny days. If we collectively install a number of solar panels, they will cut the top of the peak energy generation need at power plants.

    Do your calculations, people, solar panels are probably profitable for you. Short term.

    Long term, it's indisputable.

  40. Andrea Wood Says:

    I honestly have always thought that people were crazy because they built homes at the ocean's edge where the tides rolled in, or on the river's banks believing that the banks would stay where they were, or on a mountain top since it wasn't going anywhere, or in the middle of a forest because all those trees were so beautiful. Or in a beautiful ravine surrounded by hillsides.

    And they want to be rescued and put back in the same spot when ever nature deals another blow.

  41. jjack Says:

    The thing about it is, we do need to accept that this just happens now. The idea being, however, that millions of people might not be out of power or unable to leave their homes or dying in the streets if we did. There are many people who live at high latitudes and live a "typical" modern lifestyle, except these extreme weather events happen several times a year and when they do, civilization doesn't grind to a halt. The highways are cleared, power is restored, and everyone is talking about it 'round the water cooler within a day or two. Lower population density probably accounts for some of it, but I think more of it is that the people and authorities in these regions expect fucked up weather to be the norm and plan accordingly. The sooner the rest of the world wakes up to the fact that the climate is changing, and start preparing for it, the better.