Into the breach: 2011 world climate crisis

It’s here: 2011 is the watershed year as far as climate change is concerned.

This is the year it started to bite.

In 100 years, 2011 will be a date many will remember.

1066; 1492; 1914; 1939…  2011.

So remember 2011.

Remember Brisbane.

Remember Brazil.

Remember Yasi.

All the sound and fury of our “debate” simply washed away by the indifference of physics and chemistry.

The battles we thought important?

They’re nothing compared to what is coming.

The climate is a machine, spinning and wobbling out of control.

And so we go, fellow travellers all.

You.

Me.

My daughter.

The people I love.

Those I hate.

Those I will never know.

Those not yet born, but inheritors of a broken planet (talk about a poisoned chalice!)

The sceptics, the activists, the scientists…

All of us, every last damn one of us

…into the breach.

Into the belly of the beast.

We’re in the path of a system at war with itself.

But we started the war by thinking we could play with the planet’s thermostat: “Let’s turn that fucker up baby!”

Because that was always going to end well.

Across the globe, extreme weather events are playing out.

In Australia, a category five cyclone is smashing into north Queensland:

In Brazil the worst floods in decades continue, 830 are dead:

In the US a massive blizzard has covered thirty states:

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A monster winter storm took aim at a third of the nation Monday, threatening to lay a potentially deadly path of heavy snow and ice from the Rockies to New England, followed by a wave of bitter, bone-rattling cold that could affect tens of millions of people.

Cities including St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee could be hardest hit, with expected midweek snowfalls of up to 2 feet and drifts piled 5 to 10 feet. Even hardy Chicago could be in for its third-worst blizzard since record-keeping began.

“I wouldn’t want to be on the road in open areas tomorrow night,” said forecaster Tom Skilling of Chicago television station WGN. “I don’t think I’d want to be driving in the city either. The fact is people die in these things. They skid off the road and go wandering around in whiteout conditions.”

Warmer areas were not safe, either. The system could spawn tornadoes in parts of the South.

While record snowfalls have pounded the Northeast in one of that region’s most brutal winters, the Midwest has been comparatively unscathed, until now.

In India, freezing temperatures…

Brisbane, a major Australian city is flooded.

South Africa, deadly floods.

Sri Lanka? One million homeless

Need I go on?

Normal?

It is February.

February!

The year has barely begun.

This is normal?

Open your eyes.

Spare me your inane “The weather has always changed!”

Spare me your “It’s a conspiracy!”

Spare me your “There’s no consensus!”

Spare me your “But the temperature record lies!”

Spare me your “It will wreck the economy!”

I laugh at that last excuse, the sad attempt to save some lose change.

How much will Yasi destroy?

How much destruction are all these events wrecking?

Trillions?

Billions?

How many dead?

How many shattered lives?

How many communities scattered?

Spare me your stupidity, greed, blindness and politics of hate.

The climate debate is over.

We are all losers.

44 thoughts on “Into the breach: 2011 world climate crisis

  1. Great, painful, write Mike. It’s only too obvious that everyone loses, just as it is that the hard of understanding will remain unmoved.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      It was hard to write… and I debated even doing it. But then, well, sometimes you just have to say what you feel.

      • No doubt it was. I actually started my blog a couple months earlier than any articles currently present as an outlet for much of my more creative work. What we’ve witnessed over the past few years – especially over this last year – beggars belief and as you say, sometimes you voice need to voice what your feeling.

        I must say, this is well done. Captures my own feelings very well.

  2. elsa says:

    Quite nicely written and it is great that you care about the world. Unfortunately strong feelings are not the same as causation and science. As for the heavy snow and ice from the Rockies to New England and the freezing temperatures in India that you mention, should these not give you pause for thought on global warming?

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      You’re a fool.

      Boil a kettle.

      Watch the steam rise.

      Now watch it fall.

      Boil a planet.

      Watch the atmosphere fill with water.

      Watch it fall.

      • elsa says:

        and watch it come down as snow freeze without water or snow elsewhere?

        [Yes, because water vapor does not stay in the one spot, have you no idea how circulation patterns work? Mike @ WtD]

      • Mike, I seriously don’t know why you continue to allow Elsa’s posts. She’s nothing but a troll with no intention of listening at the answers that she demands, but only to push her childish argument monotonously.

      • Watching the Deniers says:

        I have a policy of letting most stuff through – even the nonsense.

        It is also valuable intelligence, it allows me to understand the “sceptics” at the grass roots level and see how the propoganda pushed by the think tanks, sceptical journalists etc. filters through.

        It goes like this: Watts/Bolt/Morano publish something on their blogs. Within a few hours the same arguments appear here.

        It is interesting just how quickly the average denier/sceptic adopts the latest factoid from the Bolt’s of the world and replicate their talking points.

        Mostly I don’t engage – you guys seem to be having fun doing that🙂

  3. Sou says:

    That is very moving and thought provoking. Thank you Mike.

    It most certainly should give everyone pause for thought about global warming and how and when we are going to tackle it properly.

    Amazing all this extra water vapour in the atmosphere (now falling to earth as rain and snow all over the world). What next? I dread to think now of what happens when all that moisture gets evaporated again and we move into the next drought. Fortunately many cities are building desalination plants or water recycling plants, but I’m not looking forward to the next few fire seasons.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      As I said a few months back, the summer months scare me now. Once ENSO flips back to El Nino… well, you know what to expect.

  4. Julien says:

    I’d say that 2010 rather than 2011 has marked the beginning of a new era for the human kind, owing to the extra high amount of devastating extreme climate events throughout the world: India, Pakistan, China, Russia, etc.
    Plus on the political side of things, Cancun was a conference for nothing, the Reps got the Senate in the US, reminding us of the 1994 power take-over that led to the rise of the skeptics.
    Anyway, one thing’s sure, nothing’s gonna be like “before” anymore. And as u say, we’ll all loose at that game.
    Gosh, and that’s only at +0.7 degrees above normal.

  5. andydharma says:

    Very moving post. But then it is truly awesome and saddening what is happening now. Extreme weather event after extreme weather event, which are now having truly significant repercussions not just on the people experiencing the extreme weather events but also on the entire world, primarily through rapidly increasing food prices and growing scarcity of basic foodstuffs because of the cumulative damage to major food-producing areas of the world. Apparently, rising food prices were partly behind the Tunisian, Egyptian and Jordan protests. Yes, 2011 is a defining year.

  6. Sundance says:

    What is normal? You’re trampling science with anecdotal emotional jibberish. Get a grip.

    ‘High frequency of ‘super-cyclones’ along the Great Barrier Reef over the past 5,000 years’

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v413/n6855/abs/413508a0.html

    • I knew you’d pop up!

      Many of us, who take an interest in environmental science also have an emotional element as well – we simply enjoy the natural world. There’s nothing wrong with expressing this from time to time. You need to get a grip.

      It’s disgraceful that you continue to cheery pick the science (or, in many cases, science that you wrongly think) that supports your ideology at the expense of the vast majority.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Sticks and stones😀

      I’m proud of it as a post.

      Your opinion? Meh.

      • elsa says:

        I’m not sure about the proud bit but it’s quite touching in its way, although I suspect if a “denier” put out a similar piece you would dismiss it as “trampling science with emotional jibberish”.

        And surely Moth, even you must be able to see that if AGW is consistent with freezing and warming there isn’t really anything that it isn’t consistent with.

    • andydharma says:

      Sundance, I clicked on your reference to the science journal and saw this:

      “Here we determine the intensity of prehistoric tropical cyclones over the past 5,000 years from ridges of detrital coral and shell deposited above highest tide and terraces that have been eroded into coarse-grained alluvial fan deposits. These features occur along 1,500 km of the Great Barrier Reef and also the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. We infer that the deposits were formed by storms with recurrence intervals of two to three centuries”

      I think it is pretty obvious that we are seeing many super storms within a century, not over 2 to 3 centuries!

      Also, I note from this article in The Guardian about Cyclone Yasi: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/02/australia-cyclone-yasi-queensland

      “Mark Bradford, research director at the Centre for Infrastructure, Engineering and Safety at the University of New South Wales said that, if winds reached the predicted 300 kph, there would be considerable damage to towns. “Buildings built prior to 2002 were required to withstand up to 250 kph for this Cyclone Region C area of Australia. These were determined from historical data, and it was noted in drafting the new 2002 wind code that the incidence of Category 5 cyclones has increased in recent years”.

      Again, an increased frequency of super-cyclones is being observed within a single century.

      • I don’t know if there’s much point andy.

        A couple weeks ago, sundance wrote a joyful comment on one of Mike’s post referring to some NOAA graphs showing relative humidity decrease over the past few decades – obviously demonstrating that sundance doesn’t understand what relative humidity actually is (for sundance: ie. the percent of humidity within the air compared to what could be before condensation. You could keep absolute humidity and pressure constant, but increase temp and RH would drop – it’s a relative figure and in no way disproves AGW or increasing precipitation events). Also funny is that sundance refers to such papers and organisations as NOAA, when the scientific community involved seem to be at odds with sundance’s conclusions… funny, huh?

  7. andydharma says:

    Yes, MothIncarnate, I’m beginning to see what you mean. The attempt by Sundance to use scientific papers to eat away at the scientific consensus on global warming is just plain silly, especially if anybody is willing to actually click on the links to the scientific papers referred to. I suspect the intention was just to show off the fact that a scientific paper could be referenced to ‘support’ the anti-AGW case and then hope that people are intimidated from actually reading the paper concerned. As for Elsa’s claim that there isn’t anything that AGW isn’t consistent with, it is definite that AGW is not consistent with a trend towards global cooling. If she can show that there is a trend towards global cooling, decade-on-decade, then she can say that AGW is inconsistent with the data and therefore incorrect. Will she find such a cooling trend? I doubt it.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      …otherwise known as cherry picking 101

    • elsa says:

      I am indebted to Mr Graham Wayne for a relatively recent posting on his site of a graph of global temperature. What is quite clear from the graph is that the world did cool from 1940 for a period of 30 or so years. I am not sure that I would say those numbers were 100% right as to dates and amounts (which may come from the odd decision to use a 133 month moving average) but I would not disagree with the general point. I use his figures because he is very much on the warmist side so there should be no dispute as to my source. So for that period while CO2 levels rose there was not only no rise in temperature, there was a fall.

    • Sundance says:

      We know that there numerous occasions where temperatures were warmer than today so poor resolution of past hurricane activity does not allow for a direct comparison. My link was to illustarte that super-hurricanes are not a new phenomena. How many hurricanes super or otherwise went unnoticed prior to satellites and greater population coverage of the globe. There is certainly no consensus among hurricane experts that hurricanes are more frequent now than in the past.

      Here is the Consensus Statements by International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones-VI (IWTC-VI) Participants

      1. Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point.
      2. No individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change.
      3. The recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones has largely been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions.
      4. Tropical cyclone wind-speed monitoring has changed dramatically over the last few decades, leading to difficulties in determining accurate trends.
      5. There is an observed multi-decadal variability of tropical cyclones in some regions whose causes, whether natural, anthropogenic or a combination, are currently being debated. This variability makes
      detecting any long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity difficult.

      Here is a recap of 2010 global cyclone activity. It is provided by Dr. Ryan N. Maue PHD Meteorology of the National Hurricane Center in Florida.

      For the calendar-year 2010:
      **66-tropical cyclones globally, the fewest in the reliable record (since at least 1970)
      **46-tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere, fewest since 1977
      **Global calendar year ACE total of 529 was the lowest since 1977.
      **The Northern Hemisphere ACE total of 373 was the lowest since 1977.
      **Combined North Eastern and Western Pacific ACE total of 171 lowest since at least 1970.
      **Western North Pacific had 8 Typhoons fewest in at least 65-years of records.
      **Eastern North Pacific had 8 TCs: 3 were hurricanes, the fewest since at least 1970.
      **North Atlantic ACE for 2010 was 170, the 11th most since 1950, and most since 2005.

      Global, Northern Hemisphere, and Southern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclone Accumulated Energy (ACE) remain at decades-low levels. With the fantastic dearth of November and December global hurricane activity, it is also observed that the frequency of global hurricanes has continued an inexorable plunge into a double-dip recession status. With 2010 being a globally “hot” year, we saw the fewest number of global tropical cyclones observed since at least 1970.

      So why was 2010 cyclonic activity the lowest since 1977 when 2010 was one of the hottest years? To claim certainty from uncertainty is not an act of science but rather an act of faith is it not?

    • Sundance says:

      With regard to decadal cooling/warming trend it will not be me that finds it, it will be satellites and ocean buoys. My scientific position is simply that I’m not certain and that I see the climate models’ error deviations from measured data at the 90% level based on Met Office data. The null hypothesis for the models according to the Met office is a lack of temperature increase over any 15 year time period as that would falsify the IPCC modelsat the 95% level. There has been no warming for a 12 year period which meets the 90% criteria for falsifying but not the 95% level science requires for certainty and the data needed for certainty won’t be known until the end of 2013. My approach is very scientific. The null hypothesis has not been disproven and the model based hypothesis is already false at the 90% level according to the Met Office. The first decade of the 21st century broke the recent steady climb of temperature and as you can see from my graph temperatures dropped quite a bit in the second half of the decade which was not the case in the decades of the 80s or 90s.

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2000/to:2005/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2000/to:2005/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2005/to:2010/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2005/to:2010/trend

      Look at the dramatic change in slope between 1980-2010, 1990-2010 and 2000-2010 intervals.

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1980/to:2010/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1980/to:2010/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1990/to:2010/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1990/to:2010/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2000/to:2010/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2000/to:2010/trend

      What caused such a decline in warming trend? We see the ocean heat has also declined slightly since 2003, what is causing that? If back-radiation formula’s are correct and positive forcing assumptions for CO2 are correct none of this should be happening. If you increase heat to a pot of water (like back-radiation absorbed by the oceans) does the water ever cool? So we have missing heat that models can’t account for.

      You may not like what I say but it is the hot topic among climate scientists and at least I provide you with data and analysis for my opinions and I do my best to stick to peer reviewed science and/or actual satellite and buoy data.

      • Watching the Deniers says:

        Dunning-Kruger.

      • andydharma says:

        What, the last decade has been the warmest ever on record, and you’re denying it? Unbelievable!

      • I like how time and time again, your more than willing to sound scientific and use scientific data, but fail time and time again to include all the data, or interoperate the data how the scientific community have. Put best by Dr. Paul Nurse;

        “You make your reputation in science by actually overturning [consensus], so there’s a lot of pressure to do it. But if over the years the consensus doesn’t move you have to wonder is the argument, is the evidence against the consensus good enough.”

        Yet, you think you’ve done it – when on closer inspection demonstrates you don’t know what you’re talking about and as Mike has already said, you cherry pick pleasing points.

  8. andydharma says:

    thank you, elsa, for your reply. I found Graham Wayne’s blog, and what a fantastic blog it is! Thank you so much, elsa, for helping me find it. I found his graph of global temperature, and once again you distort the evidence. Yes, there was one decade, 1940 to 1950 in which there was cooling, but only one decade, followed immediately after by decades of warming. There was not cooling for 30 or so years! And what about the overall trend of massive warmng across the whole graph! The dip in one decade was vastly outweighed by the warming in all the other decades on the chart, especially the most recent decades! Oh, and yes, it was interesting to see how you, elsa, have got right up Graham’s nose, so much so that he has banned you from posting on his site any more! I asked you to find a decade-on-decade cooling trend and you could not find it, period!

  9. elsa says:

    It is quite an interesting blog even if a great deal of it is firmly founded in nonsense! Unfortunately it is a blog for those who think like him and seems to be visited and commented on by quite a small number of people, all of whom think alike, apart from an eccentric Swedish lady who has expressed some sympathy with my views, or more correctly with my lack of ability to get a hearing from Mr Wayne. Any disagreement and you get banned. Not just me, plenty of others. Hopefully, thinking along the lines that you do, you will not have that experience!
    Well you can say that there was a decade or so of cooling but the temperature stayed down. So in 1980 it was no warmer than in 1940 in spite of increasing CO2 levels. You seem, if I may say so, to be taking a different tack from most warmists, who generally accept that the temperature fell from 1940 until about 1975.

  10. andydharma says:

    well, elsa, if you’re going to regard Wayne’s blog as nonsense then no wonder he got fed up with you! He does look at the actual scientific evidence and tries to present it clearly. Anyway, please look at the bigger picture of the graph: an increase in global temperature from 1890 to 2000 of about 0.7 degress C. That is a whopping big increase! Harping on about 1940 to 1980 is neither here nor there. If you read the climate science literature, it becomes obvious that a 0.7 degrees C increase in merely a century or so is a very big deal indeed. Why do you want to ignore this big picture in favour of a sub-set of the data?

  11. elsa says:

    I said much of it founded in nonsense (which it is) but taken as a whole it is not just nonsense. I am afraid that Graham is no scientist although he does read and publicise the bits of science he already agrees with and he is well intended even if he suffers from a (self admitted) lack of education. Anyway once in a while a bit of nonsense never hurt anybody as the bulk of this article demonstrates – quite sweet but mostly rubbish.

    I will return to the fray tomorrow but right now it’s bed time.

    • Needless “fray” I would suggest.

      I might ask you Elsa; what were the average temperatures between 1940 and 1960 as well as the CO2 levels? What were the average temperatures between 1990 and 2010 as well as the CO2 levels?

      Clearly a comparison of this nature must shake your silly hypothesis.

      • Elsa,

        don’t worry about doing what I asked because I did it for you.
        In 1959 the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was 315.98 and the average temperature anomaly for 1940 – 1959 was 0.007 degrees C pretty much as I’ve told you on numerous occasions – not a decline, but a flat-line).
        In 2009, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was 387.35 and the average temperature anomaly for 1990 – 2009 was 0.41 degrees C.
        Find my spreadsheet here.
        Now, as you increasing the amount of a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere you pretty much expect a warmer atmosphere, with the effect of said GHG becoming more noticeable.. Am I thick or is that what we’re seeing?

  12. Pete_Ridley says:

    Dear oh dear Mike, this blog gets worse and worse. “Into the breach: 2011 world climate crisis” is just more sheer nonsense – . Are you Mayan?

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

  13. Pete_Ridley says:

    OK Mike, so you’re not Mayan, but from where on earth did your “2011 is the watershed year as far as climate change is concerned. This is the year it started to bite” nonsense come.

    It’s painfully obvious that you and your fellows here are allowing yourselves to be brainwashed by fanciful articles like those from The Fairfax press, e.g. “Climate extremes put sceptics in hot seat” by Paddy Manning (http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/climate-extremes-put-sceptics-in-hot-seat-20110128-1a8bj.html?from=smh_ft). Try learning something from realists, e.g. “THE true story about claims of a link between climate change and extreme weather events lies in a graph” (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/link-between-extreme-weather-and-co2-unproven/story-fn558imw-1225999006574) /

    2011 will simply go down in history as another of those years when there were some serious weather events in some parts of this big world of ours. “What’s new pussy cat?” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBdSqk78nHw&feature=fvw) comes to mind. On second thoughts, perhaps it would be more fruitful if you watched very carefully this Jones at the “Climategate white-wash” enquiry by the UK Science and Technology Select Committee on 1st March 2010 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8595483.stm).

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

  14. andydharma says:

    Well, Pete_Ridley, you and the other sceptics have completely lost the plot with your attacks on this blog because you have all made it quite clear that you are not even going to look seriously at the overwhelming scientific evidence for significant global warming, especially over the last three decades. If you cannot accept a definite decade-on-decade global warming trend in oberved, actual data from multiple scientific sources then you obviously are playing games or have some kind of hidden agenda. The bottom line is: if you don’t want to accept any kind of global warming trend, then you cannot expect to be taken seriously on any aspect of climate science or climate change. Fortunately, most scientists and most responsible policy-makers don’t take people like you seriously. I actually think you enhance the power of this blog by actually putting your posts on here, which I’m glad are accepted, because it becomes so obvious how ridiculous and embarrassingly ill-informed the posts of you and your fellow sceptics are!

  15. Pete_Ridley says:

    Andy (Durling?), am I correct in thinking that these are yours. “Because climate change induced by global warming is making bad weather more extreme and more frequent” (http://andydharma.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/204/). “I have become distracted by topics in ‘the real world’ that have grabbed my attention, primarily topics such as climate change, peak oil, and the global financial crisis that started in 2007. These topics, I have discovered, are intricately interlinked and interdependently originated, and they now collectively form part of the biggest existential crisis humanity has ever had to face, a crisis that is ultimately rooted in what we humans do, say, and think.” (http://andydharma.wordpress.com/about/)?

    It sounds about right, considering the nonsense you have posted here. If that is you then “Mindfulness in the midst of chaos” says it all. Next time I’m visiting friends in Brighton I’ll pop along to the Maitreya Kadampa Buddhist Centre in Bexhill on Sea for a chat. Is it still Sea Road?

    BTW, do you have any scientific or engineering education or training or was it all theology and meditation?

    Best wishes, Pete Ridley

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Pete – your banned.

      I have a one warming policy. I’ve let you get away with alot, the moment you cross the line your done.

      And that is it: that is vaguley threatening and stalking.

      Every post from you will be deleted.

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