Daily Archives: February 10, 2013

Why Can Corporate Interests Trump Sovereign Rights?

E120, e145,

Tell Associated British Foods to stop tax dodging in Zambia

E120, e145,

‘Wall St. bonus bonanza must end or banksters will wreck economy’


The Art of Visualizing Climate Change

E130, e120,

Recall: How Outsourcing Obscures the Global Supply Chain

E120, e145,

Following the trail of the horse meat scandal

E120, e145,

Historic Blizzard Poised to Strike New England: What Role Is Climate Change Playing?

By Joe Romm on Feb 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

An epic blizzard is bearing down on New England — fed in part by relatively warm coastal waters.

I asked Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, to comment on the role climate change has on this storm. He explained:

  1. This is a perfect set up for a big storm, with the combination of two parts: a disturbance from the Gulf region with lots of moisture and a cold front from the west.
  2. Ingredients for a big snow storm include temperatures just below freezing. In the past temperatures at this time of year would have been a lot below freezing but the ability to hold moisture in the atmosphere goes down by 7% per degree C (4% per deg F), and so in the past we would have had a snow storm but not these amounts.
  3. The moisture flow into the storm is also important and that is enhanced by higher than normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs). These are higher by about 1 deg C [almost 2°F] than a normal (pre-1980) due to global warming and so that adds about 10% to the potential for a big snow.

Every storm and “event” is unique. It always has unique ingredients. So it is hard if not impossible to take apart, because any piece missing means the storm behaves differently. So event attribution is not well posed. Instead we look for the environment in which the storm is occurring and how that has changed to make conditions warmer and moister over the oceans.

Like a baseball player on steroids, our climate system is breaking records at an unnatural pace. And like a baseball player on steroids, it’s the wrong question to ask whether a given home run is “caused” by steroids. As Trenberth wrote in his must-read analaysis, “How To Relate Climate Extremes to Climate Change,” the “answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.” ….(more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Global Ponzi Scheme Revisited: How Climate Inaction Betrays Our Children And Future Generations

By Joe Romm on Feb 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Obama has now framed climate action and inaction in moral terms, as a betrayal of future generations. So it seemed like a good time to run this (slightly) updated repost, which explains why our inaction is indeed sich a betrayal. That — and it’s my own daughter’s six birthday.

Fundamentally, homo “sapiens” sapiens has constructed the grandest of Ponzi schemes, whereby current generations have figured out how to live off the wealth of future generations. We are all in essence Bernie Madoffs (many wittingly, most not) or at least his most credulous clients.

NYT columnist Tom Friedman interviewed me for his column “The Inflection Is Near?” back in 2009:

“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.

“You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate …’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”

A few years ago I thought that aggressive action by governments around the world to push clean energy could spare the public dramatic lifestyle changes in the coming decades, but I have been convinced otherwise by

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

US food industry battles against regulation

Food-matters, e120,

Boulder NCAR scientist says climate change worsens Northeast storm – Boulder Daily Camera

Warmer ocean, moisture in atmosphere to boost accumulations up to 10 percent
By Charlie Brennan Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 02/08/2013 09:29:30 PM MST
Updated: 02/08/2013 09:30:10 PM MST

Climate change will likely add to the final snowfall totals from the monster winter storm lashing the Northeast by 5 to 10 percent, according to a leading expert on climate change at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at NCAR, said Friday that snowfall totals from the storm are being influenced by both warmer air temperatures, leading to the atmosphere retaining more moisture, and a 1-degree increase in ocean temperatures since 1970…. (more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120