If global warming is a hoax, what is causing those droughts and derechos?

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Nevada wildfire, 2008

For several days already this summer, the interior of the country has cooked underneath a bowl of hot air. During one heat wave, a freakish storm erupted from Chicago to Washington and brought winds that resembled the edge of a hurricane. Moreover, in what has become a ritual, wildfires have raged not only in the Western United States but in parts of the Eastern U.S., too.

If global warming is a hoax, it is a strangely powerful one, hoisting global temperatures to record highs, melting the Arctic ice cap and threatening agriculture and ecosystems across the planet. So how did scientists make that up?

They didn’t, of course, despite the insistence of powerful Republican leaders that your frying lawn is a figment of your imagination. It’s hard not to notice that it’s hotter than it used to be.

This year, indeed, has brought the United States the broad spectrum of weird weather that climate scientists have warned about for years. That includes drought conditions across two-thirds of the country.

“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level. The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about,” Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona, told the Associated Press.

Still, of all the debates that rage like wildfires across the political landscape — taxes, health care, immigration — climate change gets precious little attention. Now that Republicans such as Mitt Romney have shifted their stances to line up with hard-core climate change skeptics, Democrats have given up. President Obama hasn’t made it a priority for a long time.

Yet, climate change is the issue that worries me most when I think about my child’s future. No one can predict with any certainty how a warming planet will affect the global economy, stores of food and water or even the spread of disease. Certainly, the world can expect even more conflict over scarce resources since scientists predict that the poorest countries will be hardest hit. It sounds as though we are bequeathing to our kids a very troubled planet.

This would be a difficult issue to tackle — both technologically and politically — even if the modern industrialized nations were all in agreement about what needs to be done. The emerging powers, such as China, are loathe to be lectured to by countries they believe were free to pollute their way to wealth for a century or so. Moreover, many scientists warn that the earth is heating so rapidly that huge difficulties may be unavoidable.

But, even in this country, we are nowhere near agreement that human-caused climate change is real. The Republican Party has become, among other things, an assemblage of flat-earthers, rejecting science, spreading climate illiteracy and bashing environmentalists.

As recently as the administration of George H.W. Bush, the GOP used to take human-caused global warming seriously. The rejection of climate science probably began when an influential constituency, moguls from fossil-fuels-related industries, began to complain about the focus on their plants and products. As several books, including Joseph Romm’s “Hell and High Water,” have pointed out, industry executives started a public relations crusade to persuade voters that the science on climate change is uncertain.

Some decades into that campaign, skepticism toward anthropogenic global warming is part and parcel of Republicans’ DNA, expected of its politicians and grafted into its voters by the rightwing media machine, including Fox News. Recently, I watched in disbelief as a young, well-respected GOPer whom I know insisted on a cable news show that climate change is a hoax intended to “make Al Gore rich.”

Somebody please tell my power company, which is sending me huge bills for my air-conditioning use, that this is all a hoax. If Gore will just admit it, perhaps I can have a summer without fear of heat stroke.

 

Comments

  1. Burnet says:

    Cynthia,
    Thank you for your fresh and illuminating insights. Climate disruption deniers are playing dice with the earth. They would have us careen around a blind curve on their faith that there is no oncoming traffic. But as you’ve pointed out, there is oncoming traffic which they can’t seem to make disappear. The fact is, Mother Nature has the final word on this matter. They can’t spin her with sound bites. They can’t buy her vote with slick ads and campaign contributions. They can’t sweet-talk her.

    The problem is that we are stuck in the same bus as they are and they keep grabbing for the wheel.

    Regarding your point that we can’t “predict with any certainty how a warming planet will affect the global economy, stores of food and water or even the spread of disease,” in fact, we have enlisted the best scientists alive on this planet to answer those questions and tell us what is around that curve. See, for example, http://www.global-warming-forecasts.com/heat-waves-global-warming.php. As Nobel Prize winning scientist Dr. Phil Mote has pointed out, scientists know more about global warming than about the link between smoking and lung cancer.

    It’s not a blind curve. As you’ve pointed out, with each successive collision it becomes clearer and clearer.
    Burnet

  2. Steve Shaffer says:

    This article linking the GOP republicans as Global warming deniers akin to ‘Flat Earther’s, was blatantly unfair and one sided. Inflammatory rhetoric such as this further reinforces my own observation that the whole Global warming or ‘Climate Change’ subject, is simply a start up religion by the extremists on the left. I can see the poster now…”I know what I believe, don’t confuse me with facts”. Global warming adherents are simply pushing free and modern societies to somehow restrict themselves, such as the rejected Kyoto agreement. The GOP doesn’t reject climate science, it rejects fradulent climate science.

    You may recall in late 2009 the news about the leaked e-mails from University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit or ‘Climategate’, which proved that the temperatures and science was manipulated to reach a certain conclusion about man-made global warming. This is not science. Instead of suppressing results, or fuzzy math, science should search for truth, not to help the right or left, but truth where ever it leads.

    The old ‘Hockey Stick’ graph that purportedly showed global temperatures on a steady rise, then shoots up in the last decade is now discredited, not by critics or flat earthers, but by statisticians and scientists looking at the correct data in a factual way and not cherry picked to support a belief. Climate change is a natural cycle of the weather. When it’s summer, it’s hot, and when it’s winter, it’s down right cold. And the GOP can’t do anything about the weather, not even Ms. Tucker.

  3. Mark Tilger says:

    What else could be causing the warming this summer? Uh, if you were really INFORMED, you would know that a group of scientists destroyed the outer layer of the atmosphere last winter just to ‘see what it would do.’ I don’t know if they were foreign scientists or not, but maybe that’s what caused it.
    The Green party has lost all credibility. The Green movement is nothing but a way for the top bankers of the world to take everything you own and give it to a few bankers at the top. All fines for violations of U.N. Agenda 21 goes straight into the bank account of the English Rothschild family, the family that owns the majority of the Federal Reserve, the top banker family of the world. Rothschilds are a family of Inbreds who only marry their first cousin for the last 200 years, 19 out of 20 times, unless there’s money to be made. But I could write a full newspaper article on the Rothschilds.
    Cynthia Tucker seems like a totally brainwashed Minion of the media who does a perfect job repeating what she was programmed to say, thus giving her a Pulitzer.

  4. Otter says:

    Hello Cynthia!

    I note that Derechos were named in 1887, and that the actual name was in application long before that scientist made it a scientific term. Seeing as the Earth was coming out of the Little Ice Age just a few years before that, I can hope you have wondered: WHY there were Derechos, during the LIA? If they are supposedly tied to warming.

    I have also noticed, though this is an observation, that droughts appear to occur just about the time of major climate shifts, both to warm And cold(er) conditions. Also, that we have experienced two La Ninas in a row, and may be heading for a third one- and that La Ninas are periods of ocean Cooling. I would not be surprised to find in the climate histories, indications that previous drought periods- of which this recent one is only the Fourth strongest- also occured around multiple La Ninas.

    Again, I look forward to your response.

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