Global Warming, Record Lows - Fiddling while Rome burnsPermalink +
Thu, Nov 30, 2006, 4:00 pm // Tip Johnson
"When do you wreck it as a system? It's like going up to the edge of a cliff, not really knowing where it is. Common sense says you shouldn't discover where the edge is by passing over it, but that's what we're doing with deforestation and climate change." Thomas E. Lovejoy, Director of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment and co-editor of the seminal "Global Warming and Biological Diversity".
We are breaking a lot of weather records all over the world. Record cold, record heat, record wet, record drought, record wind and storms. Even a record number of media interview requests at the National Weather Service. This kind of noticeable change in global weather patterns is not a good sign. Complex multi-variate, non-linear systems have remarkable abilities to moderate influences, but only up to a point. They can also can exhibit cascading failures that can catastrophically accelerate change.
Imagine a ball in a bowl. Let's say the ball is the "system" and the bowl is the "environment". The ball, or system, can handle all manner of poking, prodding and rocking perturbations, always settling back into its stable environmental basin.
Now imagine that a combination of influences exert pressure on the bowl to gradually invert its shape. As the bowl becomes a dome, increasingly small perturbations can send the ball rolling, possible right off the edge of the table - right over the cliff Lovejoy thinks we should avoid.
Global warming is not just about warming. It's about greater temperature differentials and meteorological variability. Besides a rising sea-level, that means more storms, higher winds, more weather records of all kinds. In fact, the folks at Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute remind us that it's a very complex system with much more going on than just greenhouse gasses. They've published an article, "Are We on the Brink of a 'New Little Ice Age?'" on the potential for a new ice age.
While there may be disagreement on the extent, no one disputes that climate change will bring serious economic disruption. And if our recent meteorologic variability is any measure, it's true. We just witnessed our economy get seriously attenuated by a few inches of snow - and the lack of a couple snow plows.
Meanwhile, a dozen states and several cities whose economies are seriously threatened by rising sea-levels, have sued our government to force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide - a significant greenhouse gas, but not a priority pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
Today, fiddling like Nero, Justice Scalia cracked a joke that got the court giggling and then explained, ""I told you before I'm not a scientist. That's why I don't want to have to deal with global warming." There's a good strategy! Where's that cliff? Hang-gliding anyone?
Speaking of broken records, have a little sympathy for environmentalists. Since Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", I can't think of a single time they've been wrong. They keep telling us over and over and over again. It must be frustrating to be so right and so continually marginalized by government, industry and the media.
That's where we need to see change, not in our climate.
Related Links:-> Are We on the Brink of a 'New Little Ice Age?'
-> Supreme Court giggles over CO2
Thu, Nov 30, 2006, 4:00 pm // Tip Johnson
"When do you wreck it as a system? It's like going up to the edge of a cliff, not really knowing where it is. Common sense says you…
Thu, Nov 30, 2006, 2:56 pm // John ServaisNotice:
Relative to the last post:
Ecology has rescheduled the public meeting for:
December 7th, 6:30 p.m. ñ 8:30 p.m., Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Bell
Paper Dreams in Fairhaven
Mon, Nov 27, 2006, 6:15 pm // Tip Johnsonor I lied (sort of!)
In the previous post I complained that the biggest rip-off in Whatcom County history was happening without even being discussed or making it into…
Sun, Nov 26, 2006, 5:21 pm // Tip JohnsonThe good? We are no longer spewing forty+ pounds of mercury vapor every day into the local atmosphere. We are no longer dumping 20 to 40 tons of…
Sun, Nov 19, 2006, 4:17 pm // Tip JohnsonMilton Friedman died at 94 years of age last week. Friedman was the maverick economist who implemented monetarist policies beginning with the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret…
Sun, Nov 19, 2006, 4:14 pm // Tip JohnsonWhile we're being proud to be Americans, don't forget that George Bush just pushed through legislation that makes it legal for our boys at Abu Ghraib to have…
Sun, Nov 19, 2006, 4:03 pm // Tip JohnsonProtesting and dissent is no longer supervised by the police. It is actively escalated to violence, punished and prosecuted. This snippet is about a fellow rotting in jail…
Sun, Nov 19, 2006, 5:03 am // Tip JohnsonZetta Bracher, President of the local Democratic Women's Club, has an idea for getting consensus on our "new direction" in Iraq.
When it became apparent that there were no…
Thu, Nov 16, 2006, 4:19 pm // Tip JohnsonThe war in Iraq is widely regarded to have been the "hot button" issue of the last election. I don't buy it. Americans seem to like a good…
Sun, Nov 12, 2006, 4:23 pm // Tip JohnsonBellingham's new, old mayor, Tim Douglas, got off to a great running start at his new job by dealing quickly and firmly with an important issue that threatened…
Thu, Nov 09, 2006, 4:29 pm // Tip JohnsonCongratulations, Americans. That was certainly worth voting for! Voters thoroughly routing the entrenched Neo-Con administration will help restore our world image, so badly damaged since re-electing t
Mon, Nov 06, 2006, 4:35 pm // Tip JohnsonNope. I didn't make it up. It's from the subtitle of a book by Steve Bhaerman, under the pen name Swami Beyondananda. I have to admire the guy.…
Sun, Nov 05, 2006, 4:48 pm // Tip JohnsonResults from the 17th year of a poll routinely taken by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News show that only 16 percent approve of the job Congress…
Sun, Nov 05, 2006, 4:45 pm // Tip JohnsonHopefully the City's new swirling logo will flush itself before it ends up glued on vehicles and emblazoned on letterhead. It's horrible, but that's only half the story.…
Sat, Nov 04, 2006, 4:50 pm // Tip JohnsonHeading into the last days of this election season, George Bush and his Neo-Con Republicans have been strumming a familiar tune to promote their candidates. Republicans, they say,…
Fri, Nov 03, 2006, 5:02 pm // Tip JohnsonGentle readers,
My name is Tip Johnson. The usual editor of this publication has asked me to fill in for a bit while he is busy with other matters.…
Thu, Nov 02, 2006, 5:06 pm // John ServaisAfter today, a friend will take over writing to this space for a few weeks. I'll let him introduce himself to you. I've some personal things that need…
Wed, Nov 01, 2006, 5:08 pm // John ServaisNow Karl Rove starts his directing of emotional outrage comments on most any news item that is handy - in his effort to get people to vote with…
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