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2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #36

Posted on 10 September 2017 by John Hartz

Article of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week...  Graphics of the Week... SkS in the News... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Article of the Week...

Irma and Harvey lay the costs of climate change denial at Trump’s door

The president’s dismissal of scientific research is doing nothing to protect the livelihoods of ordinary Americans 

Hurricanes Irma & Jose 

 Hurricanes Irma (left) and Jose move across the Atlantic Ocean. Photograph: NOAA/Reuters 

As the US comes to terms with its second major weather disaster within a month, an important question is whether the devastation caused by hurricanes Harveyand Irma will convince Donald Trump and his administration of the reality of climate change.

The president’s luxurious Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida may escape Irma’s wrath, but with the deaths of so many Americans, and billions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses, the costs of climate change denial are beginning to pile up at the door of the White House.

Just days before Harvey formed in the Atlantic last month, Trump signed an executive order to overturn a policy, introduced by his predecessor Barack Obama, to help American communities and businesses become more resilient against the risks of flooding, which are rising because of climate change.

But the merciless assault on the US mainland by Harvey and Irma should be forcing the president to recognise the consequences of his arrogance and complacency in dismissing the research and analysis carried out by scientists.

The flooded streets of Houston and the wind-ravaged homes of south Florida bear the unmistakable fingerprint of extreme weather made worse by manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

Irma and Harvey lay the costs of climate change denial at Trump’s door by Bob Ward, The Observer/Guardian, Sep 9, 2017

Editorial of the Week...

President Trump’s War on Science

The news was hard to digest until one realized it was part of a much larger and increasingly disturbing pattern in the Trump administration. On Aug. 18, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine received an order from the Interior Department that it stop work on what seemed a useful and overdue study of the health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

The $1 million study had been requested by two West Virginia health agencies following multiple studies suggesting increased rates of birth defectscancer and other health problems among people living near big surface coal-mining operations in Appalachia. The order to shut it down came just hours before the scientists were scheduled to meet with affected residents of Kentucky.

The Interior Department said the project was put on hold as a result of an agencywide budgetary review of grants and projects costing more than $100,000.

President Trump’s War on Science, Editorial Board Opinion, New York Times, Sep 9, 2017 

Toon of the Week...

2017 Toon 36 

Graphics of the Week...

Hurricanes and Climate Change: What We Know

Hurricanes & Climate Change

Climate change intersects with hurricanes by increasing storm rainfall, intensity, and surge.

A warming atmosphere causes more evaporation, meaning more water is available for precipitation. For every 1°F increase in temperature, the atmosphere can hold around 4 percent more water vapor, which leads to heavier rain and increases the risk of flooding of rivers and streams. We saw the impact of extreme rainfall during Harvey. Though no research has yet been done to attribute the staggering rainfall totals from this storm to climate change, the downpours are very much in line with heavy precipitation trends.

Warmer Air Means More Moisture

Warm water provides the fuel for hurricanes. Climate change has heated up ocean waters around the world by 1-3°F over the past century, including in regions where hurricanes develop. That allows hurricanes to grow stronger, potentially increasing their maximum wind speed. One study indicates that hurricanes are intensifying more quickly than 30 years ago. Of course, there are other factors that can limit how powerful a hurricane becomes, such as how the wind changes directions and speed upward through the atmosphere.

Warming oceans and melting land ice have also caused about seven inches of global sea level rise over the past century. This gives storm surge —the coastal flooding that hits suddenly before landfall — a springboard to send floodwaters higher and push further inland than they used to. That in turn can cause more damage to infrastructure and puts additional lives at risk.

There has already been an increase in frequency and intensity of the strongest hurricanes in the Atlantic since the satellite era began. Looking forward,  hurricanes are projected to produce more rain. The strongest storms are also expected to become more common. However, the overall frequency of hurricanes is projected to be nearly the same, or perhaps even decrease.

Hurricanes and Climate Change: What We Know, Climate Central Sep 8, 2017

SkS in the News...

In his Miami Herald opinion piece, President Trump, hurricanes Harvey and Irma are sending you a messageAndres Oppenheimer states...

But 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is being caused by man-made toxic gases, according to a 2013 scientific paper that examined 11,944 climate abstracts. That paper drives climate skeptics mad, but virtually all studies show that there is a near total consensus around man-made climate change among scientists, and that climate deniers are in most cases pseudo-scientists or conservative radio charlatans.

A. Siegel begins his blog* post article, For @NASA, @RealDonaldTrump proposes #climate #science denier with...

In another Friday dump, Team Trump’s choice for NASA:Representative Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), a true climate zombie.  Here is material from his statement that called on President Obama to cut climate science funding to move it to weather research. 

global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago.


This is such classic twisted denial that Skeptical Science created the “escalator” gif to provide context.

Okay, I’m lazy. I’ll stick with Skeptical Science and climate science denial by the numbers

 *Get Energy Smart Now!

Video of the Week...

Climate Change Explained

Climate Change Explained. The Daily Conversation Dec 2, 2015

A straightforward explanation of Climate Change: the heat from human emissions is roughly equal to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs every day. Historically, every time carbon dioxide levels increase in Earth's atmosphere, the average surface temperature increases, ice melts, and the seas rise.

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The New York Times article:

Coming Soon on SkS...

  • New research, August 28 - September 3, 2017 (Ari)
  • Trump promised to hire the best people. He keeps hiring the worst (Dana)
  • Video: the Path Post-Paris (Peter Sinclair)
  • Guest Post (John Abraham)
  • New research, September 4 - 10, 2017 (Ari)
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #37 (John Hartz
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Waming Digest #37 (John Hartz)

Poster of the Week...

 2017 Poster 36

SkS Week in Review... 

97 Hours of Consensus...

97 Hours: Andy Pitman 

Andy Pitman's bio page

Quote supplied by email 

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. Cutting flood protection measures is crazy, incomprehensible stuff, especially given climate change impacts.

    America has huge issues with hurricanes, so even without climate change it beggars belief why you would cut something like that. Americas economy is doing well enough to afford such measures, as gdp growth has been pretty good for several years now.

    Its poor quality, false economy,  short term thinking pandering to business interests, and thumbing their nose at environmentalism. What other concusion can we draw?

    Political leaders need to think long term. They are chairman of the board effectively. We need to adopt the UN development goals, and this provides a framework for better quality short term decisions.

    It's not just hurriciane irma that set a record for sustained wind speeds. Typhoon Hayan set the previous record in 2013. These are both in very hot years globally and climate models predict more intense hurricanes as climate warms.

    Granted studies of past hurricanes have mixed results on intensity partly as records of past intensity arent that reliable , but I doubt its coincidence that two records have been set in a period of high and increasing global temperatures.

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  2. I see that Irma missed Mar-a-Lago.  Damn!

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  3. It probably wouldn't matter even if it took a direct hit. Mar-a-Lago is reputedly the most hurricane-resistant building in Florida, the original owner was paranoid about that. Besides, last time it was damaged, Trump put in a $500,000 insurance claim for this & that, even though subsequent examination revealed only some trees blown over and a swimming pool full of sand. Presumably they were VERY valuable trees or a very large swimming pool. Yeah, right!

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  4. ... an important question is whether the devastation caused by hurricanes Harveyand Irma will convince Donald Trump and his administration of the reality of climate change.

    That is really naive. The expectation should be that Trump will double down on denial, because that is what deniers do. That is what he did after the G7 meetings where other world leaders made a concerted effort to persuade him out of denial.

    As far as I can see, doubling down is exactly what deniers have been doing. And the Trump Administration has cocooned itself in a bubble where it is cut off from any scientific advice contrary to its ideological convictions, or fantasies if you prefer.

    The only change will come when the electorate decides to rid itself of Trump and all his works.

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