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Mega-Droughts In Our Future

Could devastating mega-droughts – some lasting decades – be the new normal in big parts of the United States? We’ll look at the forecast.

In this Aug. 3, 2012 photo, Tony Frost, of Frost Farms, surveys a pond in the cattle pasture that serves as the water source for his cattle that has nearly dried up in Tallula, Ill. After months of drought, the central Illinois creeks and ponds that the 300 cows and calves drink from on the farm are dry or close to it. Frost has to buy and haul water, about 4,000 gallons a day, split up in four trips to different pastures. (AP)

In this Aug. 3, 2012 photo, Tony Frost, of Frost Farms, surveys a pond in the cattle pasture that serves as the water source for his cattle that has nearly dried up in Tallula, Ill. After months of drought, the central Illinois creeks and ponds that the 300 cows and calves drink from on the farm are dry or close to it. Frost has to buy and haul water, about 4,000 gallons a day, split up in four trips to different pastures. (AP)

We need to sit and really think a bit about this summer’s extremely widespread record heat and drought. We’d like to think it will come and go. Of course we would.

But history shows us that’s not always the way things work. The five-year drought in the American West that began the last decade was the worst in 800 years. Eight hundred!

Scientists are talking about this century shaping up as a very likely century of mega-drought. With profound implications for crops, forests, water – for how and where we live. This hour, On Point: what if drought is here to stay?

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Christopher Williams, professor of geography at Clark University.

Richard Seager, professor at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

Michael Wehner, staff scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “By many measurements, this summer’s drought is one for the record books. But so was last year’s drought in the South Central states. And it has been only a decade since an extreme five-year drought hit the American West. Widespread annual droughts, once a rare calamity, have become more frequent and are set to become the ‘new normal.’

Reuters “Light showers and cooler temperatures forecast for the next week will bring welcome relief to drought-stressed corn and soybean crops in the U.S. Midwest but serious damage has already been done to crops, an agricultural meteorologist said on Monday.”

CNN “President Obama is calling on Congress to pass a bill to help farmers respond to the nation’s intense drought, saying, ‘Too many Americans are suffering right now to let politics get in the way.’ ”

CBS “Dire fire conditions, like the inferno of heat, turbulence, and fuel that recently turned 346 homes in Colorado Springs to ash, are now common in the West. A lethal combination of drought, insect plagues, windstorms, and legions of dead, dying, or stressed-out trees constitute what some pundits are calling wildfire’s ‘perfect storm.’ ”

 

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  • Yar

    What happens when the Southwest runs out of water? Or when the bread basket for our nation runs out of grain?

    If I remember my bible history correctly, it was drought that caused the Jewish people to become enslaved in Egypt.  When I see pictures of the pyramids, I think about fields of grain that fed all those workers.  The same is true of cities today, they are only possible because of modern agriculture.  Advancements in agriculture are amazing, but as history has shown, only temporary.  7 billion mouths eat a lot of food, and what are hungry people willing to do for something to eat?  Dan Charles has a story on the NPR blog “The Salt” showing how we are mining the planet of fresh water for farming. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/08/08/158417396/heres-where-farms-are-sucking-the-planet-dry
    The first step we should take is to stop burning food as fuel for transportation.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

       Down with ethanol! Down with subsidies for big oil!

      • Shag_Wevera

        I think there may even be a role for ethanol somehow.  We certainly haven’t found it yet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=584989777 Brian P. Kasso Gaidry

      Thanks for making the connection, Yar. Totalitarian
      agriculture is what made empires, and the pyramids they built, possible. At least until the peasants said “We’re not giving you any more corn to build pyramids”.

       

      We’ve been here before. The smart ones, the survivors, walked away from empire. If we want to survive, we will follow them.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         The pyramids weren’t built by slaves.  They were built by the Egyptian people long before any Hebrews lived in Egypt.

  • Gregg Smith

    When Katrina hit the doom and gloomers said cat. 5 hurricanes would be the new normal. When the Mississippi flooded, ditto. It’s a drought, that’s all.

    • adks12020

      It’s not doom and gloom to review evidence, think about the possibility that things aren’t going to stay the same forever, and to contemplate solutions.  That’s called being rational and logical.

      As others have said, drought has brought down some of the biggest and longest standing empires in human history.  It makes total sense to consider this a risk to us as well. People have to eat.

      • Gregg Smith

        What evidence is there to suggest decade long droughts are the new normal? A dry summer doesn’t do it.

        • adks12020

          Well, to say this summer has been “a dry summer” is a little bit of an understatement.  Extreme drought conditions that threaten food supplies are not something to be taken lightly.  Cattle ranchers around the country are being forced to thin their herds due to lack of grass for grazing and rising feed prices. Corn and soybean farmers in the beadbasket of our country are losing entire crops.  Food prices are going to rise during a time when we have one of the highest rates of poverty in the last 75 years.
           
          Drought, or near drought, conditions have been ocurring more often in the past 20-30 years.  Is it the new normal? I don’t know.  I’m going to listen to people that study it on the show and review the sources they mention to see. Ignoring the situation and dismissing it as “a dry summer” is just ignorant and dangerous.  It’s worth taking a look at.

          • Gregg Smith

            This drought has hit me hard but not as hard as the one 5 or 6 years ago. We had to get 5 tractor trailer loads of hay that year because there was none locally. Other years there was plenty of hay but it would’t stop raining long enough to cut it. It’s the way it is and always has been.

          • Don_B1

            You have just demonstrated the difference between a thorough scientific analysis across the whole world and what one person can see in a small spot on that earth.

        • Prairie_W

          Try shifting populations of bugs and birds and all kind of animals.  I live in drought central — in TX.  We’re seeing critters that have never come this far north before. To say “it’s a drought, that’s all” is to close your eyes to dying landscapes and all that lives within them.

          You sound a little, Gregg, as though you’ve made an ideological decision and even your good sense isn’t going to change it.

        • Don_B1

          It has NOT been just “a dry summer.” Do you expect people to forget the introduction where the recent five-year drought occurred only a decade ago and others?

          Read about NASA’s James Hansen’s latest paper:

          http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/09/666601/james-hansen-on-the-new-climate-dice-and-public-perception-of-climate-change/

          where the shift in probabilities for extreme events has been toward more extreme events, those which 50 years ago would have had likelihoods of less than one in a thousand now have likelihoods of more than one in 50 or or one in 30.

        • jefe68

          Well in some parts of the South West, Texas in particular, they have had drought conditions for quite a few years.
          Go on bury your head in the sand.

        • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

          Gregg, here:
          http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/images/uploads/SREX-SPMbrochure_FINAL.pdf 
          This will provide a starting point for some reading. There is a substantial list of references to published research that can keep you pretty busy for the next year. (The NYT Op Ed refers to research going into AR5 and I believe some of that is captured in the 2012 SREX report.)

        • nj_v2
      • Brandstad

        Have you read the story State of Fear by Michael Crichton?  It explains this all.

        • adks12020

          Give me a break. You’re going to refer me to a science fiction novelist? I read some Crichton books for entertainment when I was in middle school.  That’s what they are meant for….nothing else.

        • Don_B1

          If you read it carefully and check out all his examples and misuse and cherry-picking of data you will find that it does explain how a whole thesis can be built up out of false and distorted “facts” that can be used to trick the scientifically illiterate.

          As an example, there is a place where Crichton uses a graph with letters on the axes and curves to attempt to make a point about computer models.

          To abstract the subject just a bit, assume that the graph is showing automobile accelerations under different conditions. If the graph is comparing different fuels in one vehicle or different automobiles with the same fuel, one might not be able to tell what the comparison was about without knowing what the letter designations on the graph stood for.

          The graphs showed the effects of different assumptions about how much CO2 would be emitted by fossil fuel burning and different assumptions of deforestation, etc. But Crichton says it is the results of different computer models, not different inputs to the same models. Crichton is a BIG BIG LIAR, and Brandstad just loves spreading those lies.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I wonder what degree of climate change or what threshold of proof would have to be surpassed before humans in general and specifically Americans would substantially change their activities and behavior.

    • keltcrusader

      When it starts killing thousands in the US due to ultra-distructive storms, excessively high, prolonged heat, starvation and/or lack of water. Until then, it will be ignored or explained away as an anomoly. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are that far away from this considering how every year rachets up another notch.

      • Ellen Dibble

        If it were another notch per year, we might be able to cope, but from what I’ve noticed of scientific analysis, the more-or-less unspeakable truth is that this is an accelerating process, and the ability of the planet to heal gets compromised and maybe will require scientific “medication” in order to turn us back toward human sustainability.
            Acceleration, it seems to me, means more than rising water levels, receding coast lines, disappearing islands, more than droughts and storms, more than major exoduses, population and political upheavals.  I’m not sure I want to hear about that, the era beyond self-healing, but we may have to face it.  For now, it’s hard enough to get ourselves to do a 180; it would diminish the profits of the oil industry, the transportation industry, all that.  That would be economic armageddon, which we can see more clearly than the environmental armageddon.  To that, we pretend we didn’t do it — aren’t doing it.

        • Don_B1

          You miss the point that, while the effects of worse extreme events are already in the “cake we have already baked,” which we will somehow have to adjust to, the effects that will be generated by the CO2 we will put in that atmosphere over the next decade or more will cause effects that will be economic armageddon. Note that just last year extreme weather events caused $52 billion in insurance losses alone. That probably does not come close to the full effects caused. Remember, the spending to recover was added into the total GDP produced last year, but did it really  improve lives? If the replaced infrastructure was enough better, yes, but it could have been done more cheaply if not brought about by  well-thoughtout plan.

          Americans in polls say they want more done to address climate change by over 70%; the question is when will they make that a priority at the polls? If Republicans are not thrown out of office this year, the country will be spending $trillions in extra environmental costs.

          • Shag_Wevera

            I don’t believe we’ll reach for the bucket of water until our britches are burned clean off!

  • J__o__h__n

    Can we finally end the ethanol subsidy? 

    • Brandstad

      Hopefully we can end all engergy subsidies.  Wind and solar subsidies are huge.

      The only problem with the end of big Ethonol is Ethonol replaced some bacd chemical aditives that would have to come back.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HUHWX4TIAZRFNFYCWUE43OZDUQ 7LeagueBoots

         Wind and solar subsidies are not even close to being on the same scale as oil/coal and ethanol subsidies.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

           Solyndra, by itself, was $550M.

          Also, the standard subsidies for solar and wind are huge if measured by energy equivalent.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=584989777 Brian P. Kasso Gaidry

            Wind and Solar are still developing.

            The oil industry is not, yet it got over 7 billion in subsidies last year.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Could you site the source of your number?  The last number I saw (claimed by Mr. Obama) was $4B.

            Also, these supposed subsidies are in fact tax loopholes some of which are available to all corporations — including solar and wind companies.

            The 2009 stimulus provide $21B in direct federal subsidy to alternate energy companies.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HUHWX4TIAZRFNFYCWUE43OZDUQ 7LeagueBoots

             The $550 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the oil/coal and ethanol subsidies.

            Also, you’re “measured by energy equivalent” method of calculating is a false method for several reasons.  First off, that doesn’t tell anything about the actual cost, merely provides a ratio which is independent from cost.  Second, most of the alternative energy systems are in their infancy, which is the time when costs are usually the highest as much must be spent on development and research.  Thirdly, the cost of cleaning up (environmentally and health-wise) after the oil/coal is not factored in to the over all cost of the oil/coal expenditures.

          • nj_v2

            ^ Multiple right-wing hack fail

            1) Pointing out the amount of the Solyndra subsidy does not refute the point that fossil fuel and nuke subsidies far outweigh renewables.

            1950–2010:

            Oil: $369b
            Natural gas: $121b
            Coal: $104b
            Hydro: $90b
            Nukes: $73b
            Renewables and wind: $74b
            Geothermal: $7b

            http://www.npr.org/2011/11/16/142364037/solyndra-highlights-long-history-of-energy-subsidies

            2) Per energy unit cost of subsidy is pointless when renewables are a tiny part of the energy generation picture.

            But that’s the way the forum hacks roll.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=584989777 Brian P. Kasso Gaidry

        U.S. government funding for renewable energy is no greater than its support for traditional energy sources.

        The only differences are that wind and solar are still going through a period of innovation and early adoption and actually needs government support before it can “leap” to full market adoption.

        Ending subsidies for oil makes sense since it is not only well established, but making record profits. This makes even more sense when you consider fossil fuels are helping to create these extreme weather conditions and keeping us dependent on foreign entities who fund terrorist actions against the U.S with the money we pay at the pump.

        Wind and solar not only provide energy from free renewable sources without the byproducts of greenhouse gasses and toxic waste, and move us towards energy independence, it also creates much needed jobs.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Amen!

      • J__o__h__n

        You agreed with me.  I just fell off my chair. 

        • WorriedfortheCountry

           The proverbial common ground.  Something to celebrate.   :)

    • Don_B1

      The $0.45 per gallon ethanol subsidy, worth $6 billion a year, was “allowed to expire” in January, 2012.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The things to watch for are issues like desertification where it hasn’t been before – drought is one thing, when the water comes back so does the land. But once the soil is gone, water is not going to fix it.

  • Brandstad

    Are these people the same scientists that thought we were entering an ice age in the early 1970′s? LOL

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      I think many of the 1970′s scientists are retired. But seriously, even then, most scientists argued that warming would probably dominate the cooling influences. A couple journalists took a minority opinion and blew it all out of proportion. The cooling influences were a combination of sulfate aerosols (which were removed by the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol) and the Milankovich Cycles (orbital cycles) which over the next few centuries will lead to a few percent less solar radiation reaching the Earth. The greenhouse gas forcing turns out to be much more effective at retaining heat, overpowering the cooling influences so that we may entirely skip an ice age and go quite in the opposite direction.

    • Don_B1

      The people that “thought we were entering an ice age” were largely the PRESS, which liked a fascinating science story. The vast majority of scientists were working on how the “greenhouse effect,” known since the work of John Tyndall in the early 1800s, to determine how much warming would take place and how it would change the climate in all parts of the earth.

      There has been a big study of the papers on climate and CO2 in the 1970s and earlier and the numbers on “cooling” are rare, with almost all on either warming or details of various forcing actions and not on what the ultimate result would be but all were consistent with global warming and climate change due to increased CO2 emissions.

      But the press found it more fun to speculate about an ice age. Thus Brandstad has again tried to spread disinformation and confusion because that benefits the fossil fuel industry, just as similar actions benefitted the cigarette industry.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    US tornado count lowest in US since 1951.  Is lack of tornadoes the new normal?

    Seriously, I am wondering if there is a scientific correlation between these two weather observations.  I suspect the warm spring prevented the typical air mass contrasts (between the Gulf and the continental US)  which normally trigger the tornadoes.
     

    • Don_B1

      Just a year ago there was a huge streak of tornados; this year has been more modest, but there have been a lot more threats of tornadoes over a wider area of the country. As an example though I realize that it is not a scientifically measured comparison, I do not remember there ever being so many tornado warnings or sightings. Some of this is probably due to greater population  density in many areas.

      But the science on how global warming will affect the number of tornados is still out. There are two requirements for a tornado to form:

      1) A warm, exceptionally moist air mass must collide with a colder airmass. Global warming has increased the ability of air to hold moisture, so exceptionally moist warm air masses will be more likely. Whether it is just the difference in temperature, moisture content of the two air masses and not their absolute values that matter, the possible decrease in cold air masses may not matter.

      2) Upper wind (e.g., jet stream) must cause a shearing action between the two air masses, causing the rotation that intensifies into a tornado with the energy from the condensing moisture from the warm air mass. Climatologists have indications that warming MAY decrease the intensity of upper atmosphere wind strengths, so this, if it turns out to be true, will tend to lower the likelihood of winds providing the necessary wind shear.

      Thus warming might not increase the likelihood of tornados or it might if the upper atmospheric winds are not decreased by enough.

      But while there is not much evidence that warming will generate MORE hurricanes, there is plenty of evidence that it will generate warmer ocean water which is where hurricanes get their strength; thus those hurricanes that do form will tend to be stronger and thus there will be more of the higher category storms. What climatologists cannot predict, at least yet, is how many will make landfall.

  • JGC

    From the (Canadian) Globe and Mail, on the effect of the worst drought to hit the U.S. Midwest in more than 50 years, now trickling down to Canadian businesses and consumers:

    “Corn prices have surged by more than 58% since the beginning of June…cost of wheat up 37.6% since early June…The rule of thumb is it takes about 6 to 9 months for changes in crop prices to fully work their way to the grocery shelves. In some ways I think what we’re going to see in the next month or two is the calm before the storm (Doug Porter, an economist at BMO Nesbit Burns)…While high food prices are an annoyance in Canada, they are political dynamite in the rest of the world…We are 5 years into a severe global food crisis that is very unlikely to go away (Jeremy Grantham, analyst at GMO Boston).

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     A novel?  How about scientific evidence.

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      There’s plenty of that to go around. climate.nasa.gov, skepticalscience.com, realclimate.org all have good summaries and references to actual research.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         I was responding to Brandstad’s suggestion that we read a Michael Crichton novel.  Disqus can’t organize comments well.

  • Michiganjf

    It won’t be a century, Tom.

    Short of “Sci-Fi” terraforming on a planetary scale, the “new norm” will last millennia, at the least, before natural processes can reverse significantly the damage humans have done.

    It will likely last even longer than millennia, as that’s calculated on what the “normal” biosphere can accomplish to remove carbon from the atmosphere… the “normal biosphere,” however, will be decimated to a fraction of any “normal” level.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Did these ‘climate models’ touted by the ‘expert’ predict the lack of of summer this year in Scotland?

    • Michiganjf

      “Worried,” a perennial genius who consistently cherry picks the micro to explain the macro.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         That is my point.   Global warming?  Not hardly.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HUHWX4TIAZRFNFYCWUE43OZDUQ 7LeagueBoots

           You completely missed the point of what Michiganjf said and what it means.

          The micro is NOT an indicator of the macro and the discussion is about the AVERAGE of the future climate.  If Scotland drops by 5 degrees, but another place of equal area gets warmer by 12 degrees the average temperature has increased.

          The other factor, that hasn’t been discussed on the show yet, is that there is expected to be a great deal of chaotic variability leading to much warmer and much warmer micro episodes, and that the frequency of these events will increase beyond what the background frequency has been.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             No I didn’t.

            What is happening in Scotland is micro.  The same is true of the US.  The importance is the global trend which is warming but a slower rate than predicted by the models.  Also, there are new studies pending which question some of the measurement techniques used over the last 30 years.  We’ll see once those studies are published.

          • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

            If you’re referring to that retired weather reader’s draft paper that fails to account for known issues such as time of observation bias, don’t hold your breath. That draft has so many holes, Tony’s gonna freeze to death or get sunburned.

          • Don_B1

            The biggest temperature study ever made, by Professor Richard A. Muller, a warming skeptic and funded in major part by the Koch brothers, has just concluded that all the conclusions of the majority of climate scientists, is accurate and shows that the earth IS warming and that the warming is human caused:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    • Michiganjf

      Oh wait! 

      I just ate a peanut!

      How is anyone ever going to make peanut butter again??!!

    • jefe68

      There is never much of a summer in Scotland. What’s your point?

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      The current science does predict the slowing of the jet stream (related to Rossby waves), causing larger loops, giving rise to blocking highs and stubborn lows. North America experienced a stationary, blocking high, while Northern Europe has experienced a blocking low. It could be reversed next time around, as a couple summers ago, Siberia burned while America kept its cool.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

       Scotland usually has a summer, but it is about 1 week long, or so I’ve heard from Scots. I experienced such weather in late June. Highs of 15 degrees C.

      • jirohwein

         I saw an entire 10 days in a row of sun once in August in Scotland. It was greatly remarked on at the time as I recall:-)

  • TinaWrites

    The entire world needs to work on this rather than warring with one another. The warring will only get worse. Why can’t we focus on: cooperation rather than competition; how governments can serve the human life span rather than just serving various economies??

    • Don_B1

      Because those in power will want to preserve that power and explaining how they allowed fossil fuel extractors’ greed to cause the coming problems will lead them to pit everyone else against themselves, just like the Republicans are doing after their deregulation caused the 2007-9 Recession and financial crisis.

      The Republicans are playing the Southern elite’s playbook of using poor whites to hate Blacks and think they were the cause of the poor white’s poverty.

      This playbook has been demonstrated throughout history and it will be repeated until it fails: Divide and Conquer!

      But it takes an exceptionally educated population to refuse to play this game, and Republicans are trying to make sure the general populace does not get that education, as shown by the recent attempts by the Texas legislature to cut money for teaching critical thinking in its public schools.

      • TinaWrites

        Thank you for your excellent reply.  You are one of the first people I’ve “heard” who say what I’ve been saying for a long time now:  that the Republicans are “playing the Southern elite’s playbook of using poor whites to hate Blacks and think they were the cause of the poor white’s poverty”.  Thank you for saying this so clearly!

        The really interesting thing, and you know this:  this Southern elite strategy did not just start during Reconstruction and Jim Crow.  It goes all the way back to colonial times and was well situated by the time of our Founders.  I always laugh a bitter laugh when these same Republicans bring up our slave-owning Founders who ensconced slavery into the Constitution, all the while “dividing and conquering”, as you say!  Thanks so much!

  • Matt Wade

    Climate-change deniers remind me of the Catholic Church’s stance on the earth-centered universe. We look back on them with contempt. People who deny climate-change need to be publicly shamed. They are hastening humanity’s extinction.

    • notafeminista

      One can always hope.

      • jimino

        At least we now know your ultimate goal.  It does  explain a lot of your positions.

      • Duras

        What did your parents do to you?

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      I think humanity will not become extinct, but with a business as usual approach, large parts of the planet will become inhospitable and even uninhabitae and un-arable. Mankind would survive in pockets; civilization as we know it would be forgotten.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Science gets better over time.  In the seventies, we didn’t have the data on Earth as well as from Venus and Mars that we have now.  The understanding of how climate works is much better.  The climate is changing.  The Earth is warming.  This will have extreme effects all over–some places will have more severe winters, while others will have continual droughts.

    • Don_B1

      The driest place on earth is Antarctica, because of the extreme cold which limits the amount of water the air can hold and its isolation by the circulating air streams which block mixing of the air over Antarctica and the surrounding oceans. The extreme coldness is why so little snow falls there and anytime the air is cold. It is why it takes warmer than usual winters to have more snowfall than usual.

      So an extreme winter for snowfall is consistent with a warmer earth.

      As the air warms it can hold more moisture so as the earth warms, moisture in the soil can be evaporated more easily resulting in soil that dries out and then heats up even more as without the cooling effect of evaporating water the sun’s heat goes directly to heating the soil and the air above.

      The dried-out soil hardens and thus does not absorb the next rainfall as easily as it did when it had more moisture, thus furthering the drought as the rain rushes off to the river and the oceans. Thus the drought self-reinforces.

  • superfinehelios

    No corn, less fuel, less corn syrup = ride more bikes/walk. More expensive food = eat less. America could stand to lose a few pounds. Actually if America stood more often, we’d lose some pounds.

  • TinaWrites

    Without the concerted will to prevent this process, the word “inexorable” comes to mind, and in an existentially frightening way!

    • notafeminista

      It’s the solutions I find far more disturbing.

      • TinaWrites

        Please explain. Thanks.

        • notafeminista

          It is a significant school of thought, demonstrated in this forum even, that man is responsible for variations in the climate and that if man doesn’t change his ways drastically and soon, then life on this planet as we know it will end – or so goes the thinking – again evidenced even right here on this forum.

          Solutions to the supposedly man-created climate variations are always couched in terms of significantly altering or altogether halting consumption and/or thoughtful, planned, population control.  Control the population and control the consumption – not a huge leap.

          Command and control of humans and their behavior with attempts at one-size fits all solutions – 1)always fails 2)fails to recognize a Creator-endowed right to make choices for one’s self and 3)fails to recognized that whether one is comfortable admitting it or not (because we know it doesn’t fit the created narrative) humans are self-interested first.

          Yes.  I find that disturbing.

          • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

            I think that’s a great straw man argument. And that means it is false.

            Solutions for human caused climate change boil down to switching to alternative power sources and reducing power consumption through increased energy efficiency.Installations of CFLs alone has caused a noticeable impact on electricity demand. Demand response systems also.As for switching energy sources, it’s something mankind has done before. Wood to coal (even used for steam engines), coal to petroleum, now fossil fuels to all sorts of alternatives. It can be done and done economically. Nobody has to starve because of it, or even sweat that much.

          • notafeminista

            It isn’t the starvation that’s a concern  – and you worked in reducing consumption even while claiming my post of reducing consumption was false.

          • Don_B1

            Your sources of what it will take to reduce CO2 emissions is sadly permeated with the hyperventilation of the deniers, who want to greatly exaggerate the costs to deter anyone from taking action.

            Or are you one of those deniers?

            Certainly, electric cars and public transportation will have to be a much bigger part of the future, and PV arrays on rooftops will become common (or more common, depending on where you live), but life will go on without that much of a change in enjoying life without regretting what has been replaced.

          • notafeminista

            Where precisely in my post do you find denial of anything?

            No one.  No. One.  No one denies climate variations have existed for millions of years even into present day.  What I (and others) object to is the thoroughly arrogant assumption that man causes said variations or can affect them in the long term.  (See Dr. John Christy’s comments regarding reductions of consumptions and the efficacy thereof).

            It doesn’t matter if Rachel Carson was wrong, Paul Ehrlich was wrong, Patrick Moore left Greenpeace because of politics and bas science, and the Great Hurricane Debacle never transpired – humans (specifically American humans) and their rampant, greedy consumerism now can be decried and effectively so. It is now completely acceptable to have guiltfor American prosperity, because after all, it is Americans’ lifestyle and Americans’ alone that are wreaking havoc on the planet.

          • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

            Ah, there’s the denial: ”
            arrogant assumption that man causes said variations or can affect them in the long term.”

            It’s no assumption. The weight of the scientific evidence is that “nearly all of the recent warming is caused by humans.”

            See http://www.skepticalscience.com/Are-humans-too-insignificant-to-affect-global-climate.htm for more information on how 7 billion people can indeed affect global processes.

            And, no, it is not just “Americans’ lifestyle and Americans’ alone that are wreaking havoc on the planet.” That is a blatant straw man argument. Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, and others all bear some responsibility.

  • Charles Vigneron

    It will rain. It’ll just more frequently be torrential. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NDYAXK5FW34GXPIS4EPX5S6LMI Dave

    Tom, you’ve essentially done this same show 3 times in the past five years – should’t that help you connect the dots?

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Dr. Martin Hoerling of NOAA in response to James Hansen’s “game over” predictions:

    “I am unaware of any projection for “semi-permanent” drought in this time
    frame over the expansive region of the Central Great Plains.  He
    implies the drought is to be a phenomena due to lack of rain (except for
    the brief, and ineffective downpours).  I am unaware of indications,
    from model projections, for a material decline in mean rainfall.”

    “The certainty language expressed in the Hansen NYT piece about the
    coming dustbowl fate for the Great Plains region and Midwest is contrary
    to the low confidence of regional climate change projections for coming
    decades as documented in USGCRP and IPCC reports. Not only are various
    regional patterns of trends that have been observed over the last
    century poorly understood, but the projections of regional changes in
    coming decades are highly uncertain.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HUHWX4TIAZRFNFYCWUE43OZDUQ 7LeagueBoots

     Why is there no discussion about the frequency of extreme events?  Climate is largely about frequency of events, not the specific events.

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      One of the scientists did refer to Michael Mann’s new paper on “loading the climate dice.” (Mann et al 2012, PNAS).

      • Don_B1

        @yahoo-HUHWX4TIAZRFNFYCWUE43OZDUQ:disqus  @twitter-22178050:disqus 

        The big paper that is causing the major “stir” is the one by James Hansen which has just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (which is the ultimate peer-reviewed journal). Hansen announced it with this statement:


        A paper Perception of Climate Change will be published next week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is available to reporters via PNAS; stories are embargoed until 3 PM Monday 6 August.  This is a paper submitted earlier this year under the title “Public Perception of Climate Change: The New Climate Dice”.  We were not allowed to keep Climate Dice in the title. A ”popular science” write-up on the paper is available on the GISS web siteand some unpolished Q&A on the paper is also available.”

        Try reading the “popular science” write-up at:

        http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2012/20120803_DicePopSci.pdf

        Sorry that all the links in the block quote I inserted above did not come through.

  • TinaWrites

    I was a happy child until I read this book in the Seventh grade. It was so realistic about so many parts of man’s inhumanity to man. The book ushered out my childhood. Do we all hold some “childhood” space within our intellectual space that seems to serve to protect us, but which really makes us tend to ignore really big realities like global warming and it’s consequences?

  • Rethugsrsheep

    The blame rests squarely at the feet of the ignorant T-Baggers who willfully deny science in favor of big oil profits. If Willard and Ryan have their way our entire country will be a dust bowl and our oceans already well on their way will be battery acid.

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      I’ve read that Ayn Rand’s writings are required reading for new members of Koch’s “Americans for Prosperity.” The philosophy that no man owes another anything and the idea that ethical behavior is defined by self-interest alone – that can explain a lot of this willful ignorance and wishful thinking.

      • Don_B1

        This seems to be another place where Joseph Stiglitz’s comment in the penultimate paragraph of his Vanity Fair article,

        http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

        applies:

        “Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.”

        The Republican Party has deserted its ideals of preserving the United States for all and now is for only the “rent-seekers.” You will have to read the full explanation of that term in an economics text book or get a quick introduction from Stiglitz’s other Vanity Fair article,

        http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/05/joseph-stiglitz-the-price-on-inequality

        • http://twitter.com/TongoRad TongoRad

          Economist Michael Hudson is also very astute at explaining our devolution into a feudal, rent seeking economy.
          http://michael-hudson.com/

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Well, if Barry has his way we’ll have no jobs or money left to solve any of these dire problems.

      Do you think disrespecting your political opponents helps you make your point?

      • Rethugsrsheep

        The entire Republican party has disrespected our President from the moment he was elected and will never have my respect for the rest of my lifetime. Mitch McConnell’s sole priority was to destroy this President before he was even inaugurated which is nothing short of treason. Barry tried desperately to pass a jobs bill but the T-Baggers were to concerned with birth certificates and saying no to everything for purely political purposes. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. As for money your Republican party acted like an alcoholic father, for the better part of a decade, who blows his paycheck on his way home at the bar buying his crony’s drinks with for profit wars and cost plus zero bid contracts to Halliburton and then when there’s no money left he blames it on his family which in this case are our teachers, firefighters, public workers, planned parenthood and of course that horrible job killing EPA because God forbid they take some personal responsibility for the mess they themselves created. Bring back Ikes tax brackets for a decade and there’ll be plenty of money to fix these problems.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

           First, I’m not affiliated with the GOP.  I am independent.

          I didn’t like the debt run up by the GOP when they controlled government from 2000-2006. 

          However, when the dems took over the house and senate in 2006 the debt started increasing rapidly.  Bush deserves blame for having no vetoes.

          However, things are much worse now under Mr. Obama.

          Mr. Obama held all of the cards.  He could have pushed for passage of Simpson-Bowles.  He could have pushed for bipartisan Medicare reform like he promised in his campaign.  He did none of those things.  The GOP didn’t stop him.  He didn’t even try.

          Politically, I don’t get it.  Because if he had addressed these issues he would have secured his re-election.

          • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

            I also had hoped that the prez and the congress could come together around Bowles-Simpson, but both parties would rather campaign than govern. The current Tea Party movement does not look like it will help with that either, in spite of hopes for an effective, rational grass-roots movement.

          • Don_B1

            One of the biggest roadblocks to passing Bowles-Simpson was when Paul Ryan and other Republican members of the commission voted against it, indicating that they would never vote for raising one cent of revenue by increased taxes.

            Even Obama could see that pushing for this would be nothing more than setting a new left edge of the range over which to “compromise” yet again until the compromise process ended up with pure Republican tax cuts and benefit cuts as the sole provisions of the debt “solution.”

          • Duras

            Cut this bs that you are independent minded voter judging each situation rationally.  On this page, you have been fighting your hardest to find holes in what the scientific community has already settled.  During the recent Romney/Ryan Onpoint, you created an excuss for Ryan who didn’t vote for Simpson-Bowles. 

            You don’t like the idea that different economic conditions call for different economic policy, meaning that supply side can’t be the answer for everything. 

            I just wish you would be honest with yourself.  Every now and then, you listen to reason.  Now, I just pointed out one of your hypocracies.  I suggest that you start criticizing Ryan for not backing SB or stop criticizing Obama.  That is intellectual honesty.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            You can thank our mainstream media for pretending that the Tea party is anything but the failed Republican party in new costumes.

            That’s the kind of narrative shelter lots of “I’m not a Republican. I hated all that stuff then.” people are clinging to.

            It’s like after WWII when 250% percent of the population of France told themselves that they were in the French Resistance. It can’t possibly be true, statisically, but nobody gets called on how so many people could have so little effect.

        • Don_B1

          Respect is something that has to be earned and that comes from what you do, not what you say you are doing. But the Republican Party these days only talks jobs and debt while it does everything to make sure that neither problem gets solved. When Republicans get real and drop their obfuscation, we can think about what they really want to do and how that will or won’t achieve resolution of the major problems the country faces today.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Once upon a time, being elected got one some respect.

            “I didn’t vote for him. But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

            –John Wayne, on JFK

            Note that Wayne didn’t go on to gobstop the government simply because a Democrat was in the White House.

          • Duras

            The right wing shot him instead.  JFK, the hight of American Liberalism, shot dead. 

  • Michiganjf

    This absurd linear thinking exhibited by your guest… that plants can be engineered to handle drought… is ONE of the many problems plaguing the right’s view of climate change (not that your guest is a righty).

    Millions of other variables will come into play throughout the biosphere.

    e.g.- what about the effects on the biotics of the soil?

    What about pollinators?

    What about disease?

    What about the proliferation of undesired pests?

    What about the change in species location?

    One could go on for thousands of pages here!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Between drought, farming and fracking, we must be playing hell with the acquifers – those can be irreparably damaged and there’s nothing that can be done to fix them.

  • Michiganjf

    Yes, scientists are biased against carbon fuel because having to shift from carbon to alternative fuel sources doesn’t create headaches for scientists the same way it does for the rest of us!!

    Where do these righties get thier absurd notions???!!!

    Do these numbskulls think we ALL wouldn’t be happier if we could just keep doing what we’ve been doing without consequences???!!!

  • tncanoeguy

    The recent caller needs to think in terms of insurance.  Right now we are not buying any “insurance” against the effects of CO2 emissions.  Sure it will cost to make changes, but the potential costs of climate change are astronomical. 

    • Don_B1

      The IEA (International Energy Agency), a rather staid organization, recently stated that for every $1 not spent mitigating CO2 emissions between now and 2020 will require $4.30 to be spent to mitigate the effects of climate change afterwards. That is one great return on investment.

      Secondly, about HALF of the needed mitigation can be achieved through increased energy efficiency, which has its own return on investment. The insulating of homes and commercial buildings and the replacement of old heating and cooling devices there as well as new refrigerators would lower energy bills and put people to work, helping to strengthen the economy.

  • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

    Last month Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said that he accepts that human actions are changing our climate. His solution? Not to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, heaven forbid! No, according to T, Rex, “we’ll adapt to that.” In light of this research, Mr. T should start telling us exactly how he plans for Exxon to provide the adaptions that the American breadbasket farmers will need. Will Exxon help them relocate to more productive fields?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HUHWX4TIAZRFNFYCWUE43OZDUQ 7LeagueBoots

       I love how companies like Exxon expect everyone else to adapt, yet they refuse to.

    • Don_B1

      His adaptation request included both in habits and physiology! I wonder how the geneticists will give us fans on our backs?

      More seriously, many of those denying AGW do it based on ideological reasons, not wanting to have their “freedom” compromised in any way, particularly by government. So not making small accommodations now will mean that they suffer a big loss of freedom later (oh, that will be future generations, not them!). There is nothing that results in bigger government that fighting an existential crisis, and not mitigating CO2 emissions now will give this country and all the other countries of this earth an existential crisis.

      The humans with the best likelihood of surviving are those living in small isolated tribal societies in the Brazilian Amazon or Indonesia, if any still exist after 10 or 20 more years of business as usual.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I don’t know about you, but I’m concentrating on growing gills.

  • TinaWrites

    I was replying to the comment about The Good Earth.

  • tncanoeguy

    ???   Scientists live in the same world as the rest of us and feel the effects just like the rest of us. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    Please do a show on Geoengineering very soon. It all ties into today’s program. See y’all down the rabbit hole…

    • BlueNH

      There is a great Article in the New Yorker about geoengineering. It is terrifying, but there is a very good chance we will have to use it to save humanity. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/05/14/120514fa_fact_specter

    • Don_B1

      Relying on geoengineering to solve the climate change problem instead of reducing and finally eliminating the use of fossil fuels will be like not brushing your teeth until you need a root canal which will be performed without novocain or any anesthetic. Then as soon as the pain goes away the next tooth will need the same treatment. On infinitum…

      Many geoengineering approaches solve only one part of the problem, such as reducing heat gain while not stopping the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus the problem of ocean acidification will not be addressed and the fish that supply the main food source for a billion people today will go away.

      If the reduction in temperature rise is attained by polluting our atmosphere, the health of everyone will be severely impacted with asthma, COPD and cancer as well as a whole plethora of other diseases.

      Unfortunately, some of the proposed methods undoubtedly will be tried, but they are only short term time-outs, while the human race gets going on what it should have been doing beginning now. Or not, and then the game will be over.

    • nj_v2

      Geoengineering = the latest manifestation of human arrogance, pretending we can control complex systems with simple-minded interventions based on incomplete understanding of the system.

  • Charles Vigneron

    Your callers remind me of those who argue over the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The problem is self correcting, but no one will like the outcome – climate change will eventually lead to global economic collapse, famine, disease, war. Millions will die, consumption will plummet. Problem (at least temporarily) solved.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=84000469 Rob Senn

      Probably more on the scale of billions.

      • Joseph_Wisconsin

          I believe and fear that that will be the solution to a lot of the
        problems that excess population growth, and to the excess pollution and
        resource depletion caused by that growth.  It may not be CO2 emissions,
        global warming, that hits first.  But the numbers will be in the
        billions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/airandrice Aaron Rice

    The issue is not if the US bread basket is going to struggle. 

    This may happen as some long range climate models predict. However this is a worldwide issue. Even if the US bread basket does not behave as predicted there will be other issues. 

    In addition, it should be acknowledged that the models certainly have issues. However if they are somewhat right, shouldn’t we still take precautions. For example if the weather forecast is for a 40% chance of rain you will bring you umbrella to work, even if you aren’t sure it is going to rain. The same is true for a climate prediction. If climate scientists predict a chance of drastic drought or other climatic change wouldn’t you want to try to adapt?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Canals won’t work.  In higher temperatures, the water will evaporate before it gets to where it’s needed if the canals are long.

  • arydberg

    Someone should ask about a government program called HARRP.    They seem to be changing the ionosphere.    Their patents repeately   mention changing the weather.   Is any of this adverse weather due to the inadvertent effects of these experiments by our government.   

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Don’t hold your breath. Media is loathe to discuss the weaponization of weather. When one addresses HAARP one also has to look at chemtrails & their role in the high-auroral microwave technology outlined in the patents. Can o’ worms, my friend. 

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      Ah yes, “the Moby Dick of conspiracy theories” spouts again (credit to Sharon Weinberger for the quote).

  • tncanoeguy

    If it gets drier somewhere, adjust your lifestyle or leave.  Transporting water vast distances is absurd.  

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      It gets drier in the Midwest, everyone will have less grain for food and animal feed. This will not just affect the US, there will be changes worldwide. We’re talking about the possibility of severe refugee pressures.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545172918 Mark Dahlen

    I’d like to see what these guys think about Global Dimming and its exacerbating effects on climate change if we reduce the CO2 emissions. 

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      You must be referring to sulfate emissions from dirtier coal power plants that block sunlight. These were responsible for masking the CO2 forcing between the 1940s and 1970. The sulfate aerosols, though, have a short lifetime, so their blocking effect is already limited, while carbon dioxide has a very long residence time, measured in centuries. The CO2 emissions will have a longer warming effect than the accompanying aerosol emissions have a dimming effect.

      • Joseph_Wisconsin

         Not to mention that the return of a big acid rain problem, that surprise was solved by requiring reduction in sulfate emissions, does not sound like a great solution to the problem of excess CO2 emissions.  Just saying.

  • Michiganjf

    Tom,

      haven’t you kept track of what happens to “government scientists” who speak their minds or present their data honestly??

    Republican politicians and their “donors” make sure the scientists’ careers swiftly come to an end, bringing down the weight of their unlimited financial resources, power, and propaganda machine.

    So when you ask your guest, a government scientist, what he REALLY THINKS, do you really expect an honest answer these days??!!

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      I thought at least one of the guests was a scientist from Columbia University. M. Mann is not a government scientist. Some are, like Hansen, but certainly not all those interviewed today.

      • Michiganjf

        I’m only referring to the one person to whom Tom addressed the question at the end of the show.

    • William

       If the scientists agree with global warming they are ok, but if they don’t, they are called “global warming deniers and won’t receive any government grants. It is just how the game is played.

      • Don_B1

        The “global warming deniers” have to propose projects that will advance the body of scientific knowledge. But most projects that would also disprove global warming are not easy to find. The parts of the science that still have uncertainties, such as the effect of clouds on warming are open to all scientists and Professor Lindzen of MIT, a noted denier, does not seem to have trouble getting funding for, in spite of paper after paper being debunked for gross errors.

    • Joseph_Wisconsin

       Yes I wonder what will happen as far as Koch Brothers support of Richard Muller and his Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project now that Muller has come out and state that: “Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has
      risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years,
      including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50
      years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase
      results from the human emission of greenhouse gases” Bad Muller letting science influence your conclusions.  The Koch Brothers will not be happy.

      • Gregg Smith

        “It appears likely”.

        What is 250 years? It was hotter during the highly productive Bronze age… and that was before hairspray. It was hotter when ice ages melted. Weather was more violent when continents collided to form mountain ranges.

        • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

          I think the statistical equivalent to “likely” is  ”the probability that the hypothesis is true is 67%.”

          Perhaps it was, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. It seems though that glaciers in New Zealand were growing during the Bronze age.

          A considerable issue though is that the temps are rising much faster than at those times, along with other climatic changes (rainfall, etc.). These rapid changes are what will likely drive a lot of species of plants and animals to extinction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=549120084 Scott Roberts

    1) if we stop burning coal the small particulate matter in the atmosphere will reduce which will increase global warming boy 40% according to a PBS program. In other words, there is more heating to come that is being hidden.
    2) it is well-known carbon sequestering is not feasible under any reasonable analysis
    3) global warming will shift the growing areas 100 or 200 miles north
    4) Plants love a doubling of the CO2 and warmer climate which means more water in the air. It’s the sudden change in things that is bad for humans. It’s desperate humans destroying the ecosystem that plants don’t like.
    5) we are causing and living in the 6th great extinction episode the planet has seen in the past 4 billion years.
    6) since global warming was first proposed by Arrhenius in the 1800′s based on very simple chemistry and thermodynamics that any 8th grader can demonstrate in the classroom, his prediction of the amount of warming based on a doubling of CO2 is still within the margin of error of our measurements.  There is nothing complex about more heat coming in than going out, so there is not anything complex or debatable about the REALITY of global warming.  But how bad it is for humanity and the planet and what we should do about it *is* debatable
    7) there are chemicals we can release into the upper atmosphere that will reflect enough sunlight back out into space so that it is completely reversible.  But no one want to discuss this because people would rather argue than think.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=84000469 Rob Senn

      #7 probably would be a good stop-gap measure, but I think too many people are going to have a knee-jerk “BUT THAT’S LIKE TEH MATRIX” response, so the idea probably won’t go anywhere.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         What happens to the efficiency of my solar panels?

        • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

          Not much. The first commercially produced solar panel is over 50 years old and still delivers 80% of its rated power.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Let’s see.  I calculated that my payback for my solar panel investment  would take 21 years.  If the number of photons are reduced 30% via the geoengineering; my payback period is increased to 27 years?

          • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

            Not in every state, but a lot of people can lease a rooftop solar system and start saving 10% or more each month with a lease. For my own roof, I have calculated a 5 to 7 year payback period. That is typical in states with RES/RPS standards.

          • Gregg Smith

            The problem with Solar is the energy must be stored. That means DC and batteries. It can be converted to AC but that process is not efficient. Batteries are not all that green either. Solar works well for hot water. We have solar powered fence chargers and they work great. I love those little solar powered night lights. These are the things solar can do but it can’t replace the grid. And it sure won’t stop droughts.

            These guys are a hoot.

          • Don_B1

            The output of a PV (photovoltaic) cell is already DC, so it is ready for battery storage, or by pumping water up to a high reservoir where it can be released to generate (even AC) power as at Storm King in NY on the Hudson River.

            But solar can also be Concentrated Solar, where a field of reflectors concentrate the sunlight on a tank of oil or preferably, some kind of liquified salt, which holds heat until it is used to heat water to steam and then electricity.

          • Gregg Smith

            Yes, that’s what I meant, I could have been more clear. Converting DC to AC takes extra energy Te process is not efficient. Homes could be converted to DC but our grid cannot.

            I also recognize (as I wrote) that Solar is good for heating  liquid but I don’t think it can produce steam as well as Coal or nuclear. I’m all for it where it can compete. 

            I like Hydro. There are many small dams built in the early 1900′s that are now dormant. One in my area was reworked by a private enterprise that is making a mint. I am looking to do that myself on this one near me. It’s a long shot but I’d love to do it. Duke Power will sell it for $10.

          • Don_B1

            The Spanish are leaders in Concentrated solar and have no problem generating the necessary high temperatures. it will be the cooling where the problem arises without water, but there is a German design for efficient air cooling.

          • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

            A recent study concluded that getting 80% of electricity from renewables is possible by 2050. Yes, some storage is needed, but it actually is a very small fraction of the power generated each day, looks like less than 5% in their graph of generation sources.

            See http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/

        • Duras

          Ask the Germans about energy efficiency….

        • Don_B1

          The panels, not being touched by the reflectants injected into the upper atmosphere, will have the same efficiency but the incident energy will be decreased by the percent of the light reflected, and thus the kilowatt output will be similarly reduced.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Clearly we should be redefining success.  It can’t be seen as measured by how much energy we use, how much we consume, how fast and how far we travel, how much garbage and pollution we generate.  

    Statisticians and economists of the world, unite.  Come up with better measures, ones that measure things likely to help us to prosper, better each year, not worse.  

    We need a Helen Gurley Brown (just now dead at 90) to develop a new set of standards and ideals for the up-and-coming of the world, and then to promote those relentlessly for half a century.  I think of her and Cosmopolitan, the magazine at every checkout counter, as avatars (leaders?) of shameless American consumerism and female selfishness.  
    From the news coverage about her life, she almost singlehandedly gave the green light to women to shed their Victorian sense of restraint (in opposition to feminism in certain ways, a few years ahead of it).  
    So I’m hoping the scientists can find someone like Helen Gurley Brown, able to shake it up in terms of Everyman’s vision, make it seem tasteful and glossy, and with updates available at every corner store.

    • Don_B1

      There is currently more than adequate to achieve great mitigation of CO2 emissions, both in increasing energy efficiency, which could halve the demand for energy, and  providing the needed energy for the desired growth that under current business-as-usual path for growth. In other words there can be enough energy for without any coming from the burning of fossil fuels.

      Sure, there will be even more effective ways which will be available in the future, but that is always true. But the cost of not doing what is achievable NOW will be orders of magnitude more than what might be saved by waiting.

      But the “wait game” is what the fossil fuel industry wants the world to follow, to their sole profit and the ultimate disaster to everyone.

  • actnow11

    I think for some time we (Americans) can addapt.  However, we are 5% of the world’s population, producing 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases. We have been the breadbasket of the world and have lead much of the world to depend on cheap food from the US.  Most of us will continue to be able to eat even if we become a food importer rather than exporter, all be it at a significantly higher cost.  However, much of the world already spends the majority of their incomes on food and won’t be able to compete with us for food, economically or militarily.  We are a major cause of climate change, but will be somewhat sheltered from the consequences.  This is a moral issue.  Where are the Right to Life people.  This should be their issue.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Hmm.  According the UN (2008) the US is %18.27 of CO2 emissions.  Also we are dropping rapidly.

      China on the other hand is increasing rapidly.

      • actnow11

        I stand corrected.  However, the bulk or the % decrease is due to the increase in CO2 production in China (as you pointed out) and India, rather than major net CO2 emissions.  Clearly, the US has not taken a leadership position on Climate Change.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

           Our emissions are decreasing.  Not by active policies but by our economic woes and, as William points out, the abundance of new natural gas resources.

          I just heard a news report this AM that the NE power generation fleet has exceeded  their CO2 targets by a large margin.

          If we really wanted to reduce CO2 output we would have a massive nuclear expansion.

          Personally, I would like to see advanced nuclear options developed like the Thorium LFTR to address the current waste issues as well as low cost power generation options.

          I am for true ‘all of the above’.

        • Brandstad

          Team of Scientists: ‘CO2 levels are below optimum levels for most plants…mild warming & increased agricultural yields from doubling CO2 will be an overall benefit for humanity’

          http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443991704577579951766037924.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLEThirdBucket%20%20%20%20

          • Don_B1

            The problem with your statement is contained in the words, “mild warming.” Climate Change of more than 2°C is NOT considered “mild.” A study of growing corn varieties in Africa showed that crop reductions of as much as 10% came with average temperature increases of as little as 1°C. And this does NOT include the effects of insects, the change in rainfall and ground absorption of water, etc. all of which will decrease the crop yields.

            Sure you can get improved plant growth in a laboratory when everything is held constant except the CO2 level, but how many drugs work just great in the laboratory and then fail when tried on humans?

            But how did you not bring up all that huffing and puffing from Cohen, Happer, and Lindzen on how science was being abused, etc. The first two of these three are NOT climate scientists, and Lindzen has not published a paper in years where the claimed results were not disproved soon after.

      • Brandstad

        Don’t forget India!  They are also rapidly increaseing. 

        China and India will be such large emitters in 10 years that the US won’t matter.

    • William

       I thought our co2 emissions have really gone down the last few years due to the massive switch to Natural Gas.

      • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

        That’s part of it. Another part was a relatively mild winter and fewer miles driven due to high gas prices and economic conditions. (See this article at http://www.environmentalleader.com/2012/08/03/eia-us-co2-emissions-at-20-year-low/)
        Also, there has been a lot of activist resistance to building new coal plants as the 50-60 year old plants are retired. Finally, the EPA’s new rules play a role in decision making.

        • Gregg Smith

          CO2 levels have always risen after temperature NOT before.

          • Don_B1

            Boy, I haven’t seen that old long-debunked sour chestnut in some time. Raking through the throwout closet?

            When the climate cycles are driven by the small changes in the earth’s orbit, and a change generates a small warming, this generates feedbacks that increase CO2 density. But the orbital changes are not enough to generate the continuing temperature but that increase IS generated by the higher level of CO2.

            This does not in any way contradict the fact that if CO2 increases because of man’s activities burning fossil fuels that increase will generate a temperature increase. In fact, it VALIDATES the theory of global warming.

            Give it up.

          • Gregg Smith

            So obviously we need conservative Americans to stop messing with earth’s orbit.

            Seriously, are you really going against all the science on this? 

          • Don_B1

            I am going WITH the real science; read:

            http://www.skepticalscience.com

            or for even more detailed science,

            http://grist.org

            or

            http://www.realclimate.org

            But maybe your problem lies more along the lines presented here:

            http://grist.org/politics/eliteschmerz-chris-hayes-explains-why-the-meritocracy-doesnt-feel-your-pain/

            Good luck!

          • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

            Exactly what science are you referring to? I haven’t seen any of your citations or references.

          • Gregg Smith

            I understand the snowball theory but it is not arguable that temperature
            rises first. I would ask you to cite a single scientist who disagrees. My chief objection to this topic is the notion a dry summer means we are trashing the planet and therefore must roll back our standard of living. I don’t believe that is honest debate. Arguing for a cleaner healthier environment should not rely on hysteria.  Unfortunately hucksters like Algore are taken far to seriously. In his movie he shows the graph of CO2  and temperature. He is very careful and deceptive in his wording to avoid saying CO2 levels rose first because it’s not true. This kind of dishonesty is what I object to. It’s rampant.
             As far as citations, please refer to any of the links from Don_B1 below or NJ above. Realize they are giving a theory to explain why it doesn’t matter that Temperature rose first but do not refute that fact. Also realize many scientist disagree.I have always liked this now old piece by John Stossel and the immanent climatologist he interviews. It’s all worth a watch but skip to 2:15 for the Algore graph if you’re in a hurry.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZcp_wcDXec

          • nj_v2

            Greggg’s nonsense machine seems to be amplified with the addition of a screen surname.

            http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature.htm

            http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v484/n7392/full/nature10915.html

            Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation

          • Gregg Smith

            So now my breath (CO2) is just a co-conspirator. You’re the funniest guy I know!

          • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

            Relax Gregg, not at all, the CO2 in your breath, actually, the C in your breath is carbon that was recently in the environment. We exchange it with plants, rocks, the ocean, etc. on a daily basis. That maintains a balance and a relatively constant level of CO2.

            The problem is when we dig up gigatons of carbon that was removed from the atmosphere millions and hundreds of millions of years ago and burn it to release all its carbon content (as CO2) in a 200 year period. We release it perhaps a million times faster than it was removed. That creates a great increase in greenhouse gas that will take more than a millennium to be absorbed by natural processes.

  • Rural_Iowan

    It seems to me that the dialogue that is missing from this program (that would complement this program) is a discussion by economists about the dislocations likely to occur as a result of climate change.  So, for example, farmers make decisions to buy farmland based upon their expectation of producing certain crops.  If those crops can no longer be grown as a result of climate change then it seems illogical to just assume that they can adjust to growing other crops without encountering significant investment dislocations in the local economies.  I.e., many farmers are going to go broke in the process of adjusting to a different agricultural economy, and that will produce ripple effects throughout the entire national economy.  The idea that people can just pick up and move if they don’t like the changed climate, as an earlier comment suggests, is patently absurd.

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  • Gregg Smith

    “The heaviest rainfall to hit China’s capital Beijing in 60 years has left 37 people dead and stranded thousands at the main airport.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-18942984

    • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

      That is consistent with climate science. See the 2012 SREX report: 
      http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/report/full-report/

      A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor while changes in atmospheric circulation (Hadley cells get larger) cause some temperate areas to get dryer while others get wetter.

      • Gregg Smith

        I was just going to respond to your comment, and here you are up top. That’s handy. 

        Sorry, the IPCC has no credibility after that sham 2007 4th quarter assessment. They are bureaucrats vying for big time worldwide UN money. Droughts have always been and will always be. Ditto floods. There is an entire industry built on “end of the world” scenarios. Remember Y2K? Doom and gloom always sells. We’ll be fine. 

        • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

          All the IPCC does is conduct a review of the published climate science literature. The process is open to public input. Competing viewpoints are noted.

          If you are referring to the hacked emails form the CRU at UEA, there have been so many investigations, each revealing zero wrongdoing on scientists’ parts, that it’s not funny any more. It’s a tired meme by now that has no credibility.

          To assert a global conspiracy among the many thousands of climate scientists around the world is just….. wacko.

          • Gregg Smith

            Alrighty then.

  • Joseph_Wisconsin

    I have no problem with any who still continue to dispute on credible scientific grounds  that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are causing a significant global warming. Though such arguments against are getting less and less credible with fewer and fewer actual scientists in the denier camp.  The recent complete switch from denier to supporter of Richard Muller had to embarrass the Koch Brothers.

    What I object to is those who denial is only based on ideology.  I speak not of those who would say that it isn’t or won’t happen because it is not part of God’s plans, those sorts of lunatics expect the rapture to come first anyway.  No it is the libertarian-free-market-solves-everything types I am referring to.  Such libertarians have a need to deny the very existence of any sort of problems with pollution or resource depletion because their world view can  provide no practical solution to the problem, absent government regulation and intervention.  It will always cost the polluter money to control or abate the problem, and costs that polluter nothing to do nothing because the negative effects are externalized to the local community, to the public at large.  The CO2 pollution, which is what global warming is, is the ultimate in the externalization of costs because it is even externalization on a national basis.  While everyone in the world is being  and will be impacted some of the countries most responsible for the rise in CO2 levels derive the greatest benefits from these emissions while some of the countries who will be most negatively impacted derive virtually nothing from those emissions.

    • Gregg Smith

      CO2 does not cause warming.

      • Duras

        The science is that CO2 traps heat that would normally escape the atmosphere.

        http://climate.nasa.gov/

        • Gregg Smith

          Then why has temperature always risen first with CO2 levels rising decades after? Algore’s graph proved it.

          • Duras

            No, if you purse the cite, you might learn that temperature should be dropping.  Temperature is predictable in terms of the Earth’s distance to the sun and tilt of its axis.  All of which is mathematically predicatable. 

          • Mike_Card

            Gregg is the ultimate authority on everything; he brooks no contradiction, nor does he share in facts available to everyone, since he hoards his own.

          • Gregg Smith

            Not everything but I know temperature rises first … or has for the last 650,000 years.

          • Gregg Smith

            So it’s not CO2? 

          • Duras

            You generally pick up what’s happening, but perhaps I have to restate it in whole:

            We can predict temperature changes by the movement of the Earth in relation to the Sun, and it supposed to be in a cooling cycle.  In the late 80s, someone discovered that CO2 traps heat that would normally escape the atmosphere, which accounts for the increase in temperature.  Read the nasa page.  It is case closed.  The Earth is round, we are not the center of the universe, evolution is real, and man is changing the climate.   There’s no point in going against settled science and looking like an idiot. 

          • Gregg Smith

            What if we had a bigger ozone hole to let it out?

            I am not going to debate the whole AGW sham but to say the science is not settled by any stretch of the imagination. Here’s the thing, to look at one summer (or even 5 centuries) in one small part of the earth and conclude decade long droughts are here to say, we will run out of water and all our crops will die is crazy. the message is clear, roll back our standard of life or else. I do not accept that insanity.

          • Duras

            The Germans seem to have a nice lifestyle.

          • Gregg Smith

            Germany is foolishly swearing offof nuclear and havingveryhardtime at it.Allmy Germanfriendsare now Americans.

      • http://twitter.com/BillLafayette Bill Rumbley

        Citation?

        CO2 is a “greenhouse gas” and this was discovered and measured more than 100 years ago.

        A lot of ultraviolet form the sun is not absorbed by the atmosphere and it strikes the Earth’s surface (land and ocean). The atoms on the Earth’s surface absorb these high-energy photons and them emit low-energy, infrared photons (heat). Some of these are emitted toward space. It just so happens that CO2 absorbs energy in this frequency or energy range, then re-emits in the same frequency (as infrared). Some of the infrared/heat is re-emitted upwards, towards space and some is re-emitted in other directions where it can be absorbed by the Earth’s surface or other CO2 molecules. The net effect is that the infrared or heat energy is delayed in being reaching space. Thus for any particular increase in CO2, the atmosphere and surface are warmed until  the energy escaping balances the energy received.

        If you don’t believe that CO2 absorbs and re-emits infrared energy, then, why do Sidewinder missiles work so well? The US Air Force studied this problem in detail long ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoR4ezwKh5E

        As for the argument that CO2 increases lagged temperature in the past, see http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature.htm

  • P. Fine

    Have we reached the “Soylent Green” tipping point????????

  • Duras

    The environment is overrated.  Who cares?  The Chinese are destroying their natural environment.  Why not us? 

    Why do republicans often want to do what China is doing?

    • Gregg Smith

      It’s one world but we are not like China. Is the world better off now that Obama motors (GM) produces 7 out of every 10 autos in China?

      • Duras

        Citation please.

        But it already sounds like propaganda. You wrote, “autos,” which suggests what? Car parts come from all over the world. A hundred bucks worth of respect says that you got this from a right wing source.

        But indifference to the environment, economic equality, anti-unions, strong nationalism, etc. republicans and China have are uncanny.

        • Gregg Smith
          • Duras

            An obvious right wing source.  I don’t listen to sources that intermingle commentary.  I want empirical evidence cited by AP, NYT, Washington Post, NPR, BBC, PBS, .gov, and I’ll go for .org and CNN and a few others.

          • Gregg Smith

            Dude, the video was of the CEO of GM himself. Straight from the horses mouth. I have no idea what the source who posted it has to do with anything. I’ll look and see if I can find a link of Rush talking about it. Will that do?

            Man, looking at what you call credible sources is enlightening. I read and listen to all of them but they are very lopsided. If that’s all you look at then you will be woefully ill informed. 

          • Duras

            No.  Rush Limbauh won’t do.

            There are plants all over Ohio and Michigan that would be closed down right now if republicans had there way.  Show me that they don’t actually exist and have re-materialized in China.

          • Gregg Smith

            Unless the CEO is lying, what I said was true. And my point was in reply to your comment about China. The earth is not cleaner with China making the cars.

          • Duras

            Whatever.  Car parts are built all over the world, cars are assembled all over the world.  Factors are open in America due to Obama and the government is being paid back on time.  Deal with it.

          • jefe68

            So in your world AP, NYT, Washington Post, NPR, BBC, PBS are ill-informed and Rush Limbaugh is not?

            Woefully ill-informed indeed.

          • Gregg Smith

            No, I did not say that at all. To be well informed one should take in a variety of sources. Limiting yourself to the ones listed and thinking you are more informed than those who consider all sides is, again, delusional.

          • jefe68

            Yes you did say that. You said listening to all those sources was not keeping one informed. You then add that what you really mean is people should also listen to that windbag Rush Limbaugh and Fox.

            I’ve listened to Fox and find them to be a lot of things, being informed is not one of them. As to Rush, you have to be kidding.
              

          • Gregg Smith

            I said:”If that’s all you look at then you will be woefully ill informed.”
            I didnot say, : “…listening to all those sources was not keeping one informed.
             ”.
            Smarty pants.

      • jefe68

        So let me get this straight. Are you saying it’s a bad thing for GM to be producing cars in China to sell there? If you don’t’ believe in global warming this issue of car sales is moot is it not?

        Honda has car factories in this country and right now Chrysler is owned by Fiat and the good sales in the last year or so has actually kept that Italian company alive.

        I guess it would have been better GM to have failed. Yeah, that would have been good for the tens of thousands of jobs lost. It’s amazing how misguided the right is in terms of the US economy.
        The GOP uses it for their own political gains, which is pretty devious in my view. You seem to support this agenda.

        • Gregg Smith

          No, I don’t think any thing of the sort. Read the comment I replied to. I was just pointing out it’s one eco-system. 

          “I guess it would have been better GM to have failed. Yeah, that would have been good for the tens of thousands of jobs lost. It’s amazing how misguided the right is in terms of the US economy.”

          See how you do? This crap is nuts. You project a thought onto me that I didn’t think then you make some crazy conclusion not based in reality. Finally you paint the GOP with your delusion.

          • jefe68

            You want to talk about crap: Obama motors… you fill most of your comments with crap like this and when you get called out on it you get all hot and bothered. I’ve said this before, you think your so clever but you are not. When you write “Obama motors” it’s pretty clear what you are meaning. The GOP and Romney have been using GM as a whipping post for the Obama administration policies for years. If you did not mean that than why write that? It’s what is called a loaded statement. You do all the time.

            You are doing it here. I funny how you right wingers play the victim and whine you get caught making dumb statements.

          • Gregg Smith

            Okay, change Obama motors to GM. My comment’s meaning does not change and you still lose the argument. Is that the only thing you can object to in my comment?  How embarrassing. 

          • Gregg Smith

            And my “dumb statement” is????

            Is it that 7 out of 10 GM cars are made in China? Well, it’s true. Is it we are one world? What world do you live in? Can you actually refute a single thing I said or is vitriol all you have? What’s your opinion of the comment that started this thread from Duras? I replied to it without calling names and I made a case. Are you capable of such?

          • Duras

            Remember when republicans and Fox News advertized against GM…?  It baffles me that a political party got away with trashing an American company.

  • Larr5

    Scientists NEVER predicted coming ice age in the 70′s.
     Time magazine did!!
      From 1965 to79, 44 articles. Global Warming and only 7 global cooling (NOT ICE  AGE)  
    •       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU_AtHkB4Ms&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL
    Solution to CO2 build up= Artificial Trees That Absorb CO2 not carbon sequestration !!!
    •       Carbon Capture Sequestration and Reuse, Webisode 1: The Basics
    •       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dm1esCpzR0&feature=related
    •       Artificial Trees That Absorb CO2 – Hot Planet Preview
    •       http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30251856/ns/us_news-environment/t/engineers-design-fake-trees-pull-co/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUSSTYJslXQ

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Hey, don’t mess with the Righty Catechism. Next thing, you’ll be saying tax cuts don’t pay for themselves.

      Despite the fact that the Greenhouse Effect has been understood since the 19′th century, and isotope analysis shows that the recent off-the-charts levels of CO2 come from human activity, no problem. Physics has been repealed on Planet Wingnut.

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  • jhuzenis

    Does anybody know the name of the song they use for the intro and outro?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000713739859 Cara Skalisky

    How similar is this “coming drought” to the one that occurred 800 years ago? Specifically, what makes this drought different from the last one in a way that indicates anthropogenic exacerbation?

    • Gregg Smith

      Good question.

  • Emitr

    I hope it drives more people to Alaska, so we can have better economies of scale here.  But alas, Richard Seager’s analysis seemed the most reasonable.

  • Michele

    The caller Greg stated that most people probably believe as he does, however he does not speak for me.  I know Climate change is REAL.  We need to act NOW and the longer we wait the more painful it will be.  It’s like fighting a disease the more it progresses the more difficult it is to cure.

    If we can fund all of these wars and bail out banks, and car manufacturers then we can afford to make the changes required.  Additionally, humans created the monetary system we did not however create the Earth.  Ostensibly we can recreate the monetary system but we cannot create another planet.  When is the human race (specifically Americans who are causing much of the damage) going to get it? 

    There is a scientific movement called the Sixth Extinction.  Many scientists believe we are in this cycle mainly brought on by human action.

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  • superfinehelios

    That Navy Seal needs to get over it. I’m sure that seal is a GOP supporter. Really, that kind of action belittles all seals.

  • janet jappen

    doesn’t polar shift come into play also?? This moves the western hemisphere into lower latitudes and Eastern Hemispheres into higher ones.Iowa and illinois moves down into nebraska and headed to oklahoma – areas of lesser rainfall etc. and places like AZ into the Sonora desert of Mexico. ???  

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