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Climate Hustle

Welcome to the Rest of Our Lives

Posted on 15 July 2012 by greenman3610

An excellent new video from Climate Crocks weaves together several of the concepts we've examined this week.  Much of the United States has been experiencing numerous extreme weather events, including record heat, intense storms, droughts, and wildfires over the past month.  While we can't attribute these individual weather events to global warming, we do know these types of events will occur more frequently and with more intensity as climate change continues.  These are some of the hidden costs of carbon emissions which we are currently subsidizing.

In this video, Peter Sinclair juxtaposes these extreme weather events and their costs with the recent arguments from Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson that we should simply adapt to them rather than trying to prevent them from happening.  Sit back and watch the types of climate-related damages we can expect in the future, and our ability to brush those concerns aside with a foolish call for adaption instead of mitigation.

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Comments 1 to 13:

  1. Just a little bit of "adaptation" in the form of 6" of muck in one's living room goes a long way in driving forward acknowledgement that no exceptions are available regarding conservation of energy.

    Extreme precipitation in the UK is appearing as long predicted and blame apportionment for ignoring advice of scientists and planners has commenced, as evidenced in this article:

    Caroline Spelman's deep cuts to flood defences begin to look foolish"
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  2. The plots at 5:40 and 6:00 of the number of natural disasters and the breakdown by geophysical (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes) versus meteorological (storms, wind, floods) makes the point exceptionally well that the economic cost of increasing extreme weather events is real and substantial, which is the sort of thing that should get the attention of many businesses and insurance companies.

    Sooner or later, corporate risk assessments will need to explicitly include the effects of global warming, making it darn hard to deny its existence, and somewhat harder to avoid advocating action to mitigate its effects.
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  3. An extension to LarryM's point about corporate risk assessments is how US insurance companies are caught between a rock and a hard place; acknowledging the connection between C02 and risk exposes insurance companies to all sorts of knock-on effects, as briefed in this piece.

    Excerpt:

    Insurers could be sued both by emitters that are trying to pass on liability, or by investors claiming they did not adequately disclose risks to the market. In 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked companies to report how climate change may affect profitability, potentially opening the The courts have yet to rule on whether greenhouse gas emitters can be tied to climate events. way for investor lawsuits.

    ...

    In a 2009 report, Swiss Re argued “that climate change-related liability will develop more quickly than asbestos-related claims and [we] believe the frequency and sustainability of climate change-related litigation could become a significant issue within the next couple of years.”

    The asbestos claims took about 40 years from the first lawsuits in the 1950s to the eventual payouts, of up to $265 billion, in the 1990s, according to Swiss Re. The first climate change lawsuits were filed in 2004. But whatever the time frame or outcome, the threat of litigation is already having an impact by making companies more cautious about talking about climate change, according to several observers.

    “Acknowledging climate risk would be a risk for [any] company in an American context,” says Andreas Spiegel, at Swiss Re. “There is the risk that the company or the managers would be held liable for their actions in relation to that.”


    A lot of folks have confidently predicted that insurance companies will form a sort of "reality check" on climate change for the general population, given their focus on risk. But insurance companies in the US are squeezed; it seems some at least are trying to prolong their published ignorance of the problem for as long as possible. And really, can anybody blame them? What a mess they're facing already.
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  4. It seems the insurers are in a tricky position. Either they can ignore documented climate-related risk such as shown in this video and possibly incur litigation and the wrath of investors, or they can be honest about climate risks and possibly incur litigation and the wrath of the monied fossil fuel interests (both emitters and producers). They should go with the latter, because the risks are real and documented and would stand up to reasoned scrutiny in a court of law.
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  5. How do we know the "events" will occur more frequently and with more intensity as climate change continues?

    Conservation of energy? Improbability of perfect distribution of extra energy in the atmosphere?

    Unless you're prepared to effectively contradict (saying "I doubt it" won't work) the fundamental physics of the situation you're claiming that an important "law" even farther down-- at the very bottom of physics-- is rotten. You can't do that, right? Or, you could show how additional energy in the atmosphere will be perfectly homogeneous. Atmospheric energy is not homogeneous now so that doesn't seem very likely.

    Let's put it another way. Walk into a wall at 1mph. Ouch, a little. Do it again at 2mph; oh, well, a bloody nose is not so bad. 5mph-- jeepers, who'd of thought it would feel so hard? 15mph isn't so fast either, but you might be killed depending on how your head bonks into the bricks. If your body could present its entire surface area to the wall simultaneously things would be ok up to quite a speed but unfortunately we're not constructed with the geometry of a sheet of plywood; bits of us stick out.
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  6. I found this video to be less than the usual Greenman effort. The moody piano track and repeated cuts to the Exxon CEO reminded me of a Michael Moore slant piece rather than a Peter Sinclair science video; overtly emotional and somewhat anecdotal. Still, most of his videos are very helpful and objective in formulating the discourse. This one, not as much.
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  7. YubeDude#7: I don't recall Greenman ever signing a pledge to produce only dry, objective, emotionless videos. At some point, after the science is explained and accepted, it becomes time to contemplate the enormity of what we're facing. I believe this video suffices in that regard. More so because it appears to be one of his most widely circulated, and if it inspires greater thought on the part of a greater number of people, that can't be a bad thing.
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  8. The derecho (Spanish for "right turn") requires a right turn among other synoptic features, namely aligned winds at different levels and high CAPE. Here's a description: http://nws.met.psu.edu/severe/2012/30Jun2012a.pdf of the 29-30 June 2012 event. Much mention was made of CAPE and "energy" in blogs like Capital Weather Gang without mentioning the required alignment of winds. Here in the eastern US we get ubiquitous gust fronts from storms where the winds were not aligned properly (the gust front gets ahead of the storm and stabilizes the atmosphere ahead of the storm).

    I'll also mention my personal experience with adaptation. Unlike the more common solar feeds to the grid which provide less valuable power prior to peak needs in the evening, I have solar charged batteries which provide power when needed. The batteries ran my fridge for the 48 hours that my power was out. The second night was uncomfortable at 84 degrees especially for my guests, who were not used to it. My well water is electric from the grid but I used maybe 50 gallons out of 400 or so of stored water for drinking, flushing, and cleaning. Batteries however are not suitable for everyday use, that technology is coming, but not here yet. Instead they are ideal for emergencies like this along with judicious use of generators.

    Infrastructure needs to change. West Virginia electric distribution was poor with entire towns losing their main feeds over mountains. All radio stations except maybe 2 or 3 were knocked off the air. But people seemed to get by ok other than running out of gasoline and ice. Cell service worked where it is available (not everywhere due to mountains). Community pot luck meals were very common. At the other extreme, very urban Arlington VA had no useful cell phone service, no electric phones, no cable or internet other than very spotty cell service, no 911 service for at least a day, no traffic lights, and little gasoline. I live in between those two and had very few infrastructure problems.
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  9. Here's some more background on derechos: describing the atmospheric flows and other climatology. This article touches on longer term trends but there are probably much better studies of that elsewhere. Here's an article on another specific derecho: http://derecho.math.uwm.edu/papers/Weismanetal2012_WF.pdf with both a high CAPE phase and a low CAPE (occluded) phase. Obviously high CAPE will sustain a storm better like the one we had at the end of June. However, the dynamics are more important than the CAPE. I do not believe there is any consensus on changes in dynamics under global warming.

    Regarding more record highs than lows, the stations collecting record highs are not corrected for urbanization, so some of the increased ratio of record highs to record lows is due to urbanization. My own guess is a relatively small portion, maybe 1/4 or so. Another portion of the record highs are short records, not extending back to the 1930's or previous. Again that's a relatively small portion. The Norton, Kansas example from the video is neither. Their 118 beat the their 116 measured in 1936.
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  10. Sorry, I screwed up my links above in post 11. They both seem to work in my browser, but might not in others.
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  11. Eric @ 8: The derecho (Spanish for "right turn")

    Actually, "derecho" means "straight ahead"; it's "derecha" that means "right". You have to listen hard when getting directions in Spanish-speaking countries. See here.

    The wind-storm name derecho comes from the straight-ahead meaning.

    In English the word "right" can also be confusing. The important difference between "Go right at the junction ahead" and "Go right ahead at the junction" must confuse non-native speakers.
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  12. Here in Qld Australia,in a number of inland towns the insurance companies are refusing to insure some homeowners against flooding. So far not many people seem to have connected the dots.
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  13. Thanks much Andy S. I asked my Spanish speaking friend about the term after the event and I might have mispronounced or he misinterpreted.
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