Though we will never be able to change the minds of died-in-the-wool climate deniers who have committed themselves to their debunked views and conspiracies, the recent release of the National Climate Assessment, with its thorough, hard to refute data, should bring back many of those people who usually check “unsure” on surveys when asked if they feel man-made global warming is real.
A possible view of Miami’s Ocean Drive during the Millennial generation’s lifetime?
The Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) was released Tuesday and thankfully with great fanfare. It is written in a language that the layperson can easily grasp, showing exactly how an ever increasing warming planet from our use of fossil fuels will specifically impact the various areas Americans reside in across the country. Even the major television networks, save FOX, gave it significant positive coverage with anywhere from two and half minutes to nearly four minutes (a significant segment for broadcast news that only last 22 minutes sans commercials)
The amazing thing about these reports is that the three networks didn’t cave to the climate denial commentators by allowing them equal time as they routinely do. For what little deniers were allowed, ABC was perhaps the worst for this by giving Paul C. Knappenberger from the CATO Institute about 15 seconds to suggest that what we are seeing in extreme weather events is simply Mother Nature “throwing punches because that’s what she does”. NBC’s was slightly better by commenting only at the end of their report how critics of the NCA see it as “alarmist .. intending to frighten Americans.” Kudos to CBS whose report, the longest of the three, didn’t even open this door to fossil fuel industry mouth pieces. FOX of course carried the water for Big Oil and Coal, arguing that the “administration’s ‘dire new report on global warming’ may be intended ‘to distract Americans’ from the ‘multiple scandals swirling around the administration.’”
FOX and all other right-wing media sources like the Washington Times are portraying this 841 page document as the “White House’s massive new climate change report”, rather than the legal mandate it is, which was “passed by Congress under President George H.W. Bush” to assess every four years the effects of climate change and help policy makers decide on a course of action. If you’ll recall, Americans were more concerned about the warnings of climate scientist like James Hansen under Bush I than they are now, no thanks to the efforts of the fossil fuel industry to hire “experts” to dispute the science of climate change with their use of alleged studies that couldn’t pass peer-review scrutiny.
A … well-organized and well- funded disinformation campaign … has been waged against climate science for decades. As documented in numerous books, the campaign seeks to sow doubts about the science.
Motivations for that campaign range from ideological to financial. Some fear that policies to address climate change will limit individual freedoms and the free market. Some in the oil and coal industries fear for their short-term profits. Among the purveyors of the disinformation are public-relations masters who have succeeded in crafting simple, clear messages and delivering them repeatedly. The public’s failure to perceive the scientific consensus seems to reflect the success of that campaign. SOURCE
According to the authors of the NCA, “This report is the result of a three-year analytical effort by a team of over 300 experts, overseen by a broadly constituted Federal Advisory Committee of 60 members. It was developed from information and analyses gathered in over 70 workshops and listening sessions held across the country. It was subjected to extensive review by the public and scientific experts in and out of government, including a special panel of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.” (NCA report, p iii)
This 800-plus page document follows along similar findings by an even more voluminous study done every 6 years by the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their last report released to the public in 2007 “was produced by about 600 authors from 40 countries, and reviewed by over 620 experts and governments. Before being accepted, the summary was reviewed line-by-line by representatives from 113 governments … .” In that IPCC report it was noted then that:
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average of air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global sea average.
Most of the increase in globally observed temperatures since the mid 2oth century is very likely (90% probable) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations – 2007 IPCC report
Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, if not the most prolific climate denier in Congress is surely the loudest, seems oblivious of ideological arguments he makes against government regulations and his own states worsening climate crisis that makes it one of the most drought-damaged states in the country; a condition that could well be linked to man-made global warming through the addition of CO2 extracted from miles below the earth and oceans to feed the for-profit interests of large oil companies. This arid condition from lack of rainfall and the states depleting water resources recently contributed to an initial control burn by firefighters getting out of hand and spreading rapidly, destroying at least six homes and killing one person near Guthrie, Oklahoma.
These dry conditions are expected to worsen in the coming years according to the NCA, detailed in Chapter 19. The scientific study points out that the Plains States, which Oklahoma is considered part of, can expect the magnitude of climate extremes to “exceed those in the last century.” It also points out the need to improve on the existing adaptation and planning efforts that experts in the study see as “inadequate to respond to these projected changes”.
But if such physical evidence for deniers like Inhofe were not enough, many if not all who are avid free-market advocates, should take notice that this study included the input of two people from the Big Oil companies and one, David Gustafson, from the large chemical company, Monsanto. Arthur Lee represents Chevron Oil, whose spokesperson, Justin Higgs, stated that “Chevron recognizes and shares the concerns of governments and the public about climate change,” while Jan Dell, an expert in corporate and supply chain sustainability programs, represented Conoco.
Add to this the comments by private sector financial concerns like Citibank’s move away from finite fossil fuels and Munich Re, one of the world’s leading reinsurers, who noted back in 2010, that there exists “the probability of a link between the increasing number of weather extremes and climate change.”
Climate change is estimated to cost the world economy $1.2 trillion annually, which is proving to be a stress test for the insurance industry. Lest you think that’s a niche concern, insurance accounts for seven percent of the global economy and is the world’s largest industry. SOURCE
Then there is the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2014 version of its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), declaring the threat of climate change impacts a very serious national security vulnerability that, among other things, could enable further terrorist activity.
This is the uber-conservative’s private sector and military strategists telling climate deniers that many of their over-the-top comments are no longer productive and are in fact harmful to the future of our economy and those generations who will inherit a less friendly earth home than their parents or grandparents lived in.
There will be no denying to those generations who inherit this global travesty that we knew enough back when there was still time to reduce and even stop the causes that have led to life-altering extreme climate conditions. The NCA study notes up front that our earliest assessments back in the 1970’s and 1980’s were confirmed as time progressed.
With each passing year, the accumulating evidence expands our understanding and extends the record of observed trends in temperature, precipitation, sea level, ice mass, and many other variables recorded by a variety of measuring systems and analyzed by independent research groups from around the world. It is notable that as the data records have grown longer and climate models have become more comprehensive, earlier predictions have been largely confirmed. The only real surprises have been that some changes, such as sea level rise and Arctic ice decline have outpaced earlier projections. (NCA report, p.2)
For anyone today to seriously challenge the climate science in the face of the rapidly expanding and insurmountable evidence is not only cartoonish, it is criminal in light of the fact that because we have delayed for the sake of fossil fuel company profits, many men, women and children have and will needlessly perish.