The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.
Such sweeping changes have been caused by an average warming of less than two degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century, the scientists found. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century.
“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists declared in a major new report assessing the situation in the United States…
“Yes, climate change is already here,” said Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in writing the report. “But the costs so far are still on the low side compared to what will be coming under business as usual by late in this century.”
The National Climate Assessment also assesses humanity’s contribution to climate change, the thorniest question tied to the issue and the one at the heart of political disputes over it. Very early on, the report states that lots of different kinds of evidence “confirm that human activities” have driven global warming over the last 50 years, specifically the emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and gas…
If the U.S. and other big emitters enact polices that would cut emissions considerably, U.S. temperatures would rise about 3 degrees to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. Under today’s “business-as-usual scenario,” U.S. average temperatures would rise by 5 degrees to 10 degrees, which means that summers in New Hampshire by the end of the summer would be as hot as those in North Carolina now. “Extreme heat is becoming more common, while extreme cold is becoming less common,” the report says…
To promote the findings, the president is slated to be interviewed in the Rose Garden by local and national meteorologists on Tuesday, an effort to reach past Washington policymakers. The administration was slated to host a summit on energy efficient building construction this week. And later in the week, the White House planned to announce another round of private-sector commitments to using alterative energy sources.
The strategy was yet another to maneuver around Republican opposition on Capitol Hill – if only to take incremental steps. Although the White House expressed support for energy-efficiency legislation coming up in the Senate this week, aides expressed little hope Congress will pass it. Instead, Obama planned to take executive action and tout outside efforts for mitigating the impact of climate change.
President Obama visited with weather forecasters Tuesday to discuss the National Climate Assessment, Justin Gillis reports in The New York Times. His administration “hopes to use the report to shore up public support for the president’s climate policies as he attempts to put new regulations in place to limit emissions.”
The administration’s decision to use meteorologists “absolutely is a great move,” American Meteorological Society Executive Director Keith Seitter told Politico reporter Darren Goode. “The meteorologists that are on TV are the ones in your living room every night, and people tend to trust them because they are getting good, reliable information on the weather every day.”
Meteorologists are, as a group, not always on the same page as climate scientists: A draft report the AMS published last year found that only 52 percent of its members believed that global warming is real and caused by humans. That study found that the political ideology of those surveyed was the second-most-important factor in their answers after “perceived scientific consensus.”
“This National Assessment is much closer to pseudoscience than it is to science,” wrote scientists Patrick Michaels and Paul Knappenberger of the libertarian Cato Institute in their comments submitted to the Obama administration…
Michaels’ and Knappenberger’s 75-page critique of the NCA points out the many weak points and flaws present in the government’s analysis of the impact of global warming. For example, the NCA relies on not only peer-reviewed scientific literature, but also non-peer reviewed work from environmental activist groups — which the government did not disclose…
One of the most pointed criticisms made by Michaels and Knappenberger hit the Obama administration’s claims on extreme weather. But as the two scientists point out, even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there little evidence of increased extreme weather…
“The assessment is woefully ignorant of humanity’s ability to adapt and prosper in response to challenges,” wrote Michaels and Knappenberger. “The quintessence of this is the truly dreadful chapter on human health and climate change.”
Top Republican lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee blasted the White House Tuesday for keeping details from the American public about the executive actions that it plans to force through on the climate change front “in an attempt to continue advancing an agenda” against fossil fuels…
“This lengthy report is short on details about the policy responses that the president and his advisors are seeking to unilaterally impose on the American people. These are the same details that this committee has been seeking for months, and that the administration is keeping from the public in an attempt to continue advancing an agenda against affordable and reliable energy,” according to the statement.
“EPA Administrator McCarthy testified that it is ‘unlikely‘ that any of EPA’s rules will have a meaningful impact on the global climate. But we do know that it is likely that these rules will have a significant impact on jobs, the economy, and energy reliability. Moreover, the Obama administration and its federal agencies are already spending billions of dollars annually on global warming activities, and it is still largely unclear what these programs have accomplished and how they will change the weather,” according to the statement.
First, many people see global warming as a problem for the future, not the present. Other issues, such as the sluggish economy, are of more immediate concern to larger numbers of people. For most people, there have been few tangible manifestations of global warming. Polls over the past several decades show that people are usually most concerned about environmental problems they can see in their back yards.
Second, the media is not as trusted, in general and on environmental issues, as it once was. When the environment emerged as a powerful issue in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the media had more credibility. That has changed. Journalists’ penchant for hyperbole – who can forget Time’s overheated tag line for its April 2006 cover story on global warming, “Be Worried, Be Very Worried – Earth at the Tipping Point” – has also damaged credibility. In Gallup’s 2014 question, 42 percent of Americans said the seriousness of global warming was generally exaggerated in the news, 33 percent said it was generally correct, and 23 percent generally underestimated.
Third, most people alive today grew up with the environmental movement. We’re all environmentalists now, and it is hard to make a political issue out of a commitment shared by almost all of us.
But the most important reason climate change isn’t resonating in our view is due to the way public opinion evolves in a democracy. When Americans agree on the ends policy should serve, they tend to pull away from discussions of the means by which those ends will be secured. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, we as a society decided that a clean and healthful environment was important to us and that we were willing to spend a lot of money to achieve it. We’ve done that and had much success. Americans think they have been heard on the issue and now they will let politicians, interest groups, and others in Washington take over to determine exactly what kind of legislation is needed to ensure continued progress. Americans have neither the time nor the knowledge to get involved in complex debates about warming. They aren’t indifferent, but they are inattentive.
According to that chart of actual satellite and surface temperature observations vs. what was predicted by 90 different climate models, 95 percent of models overestimated actual temperatures. Nothing says Science™ like predicting stuff incorrectly over and over and over again…
The global warming alarmists aren’t attempting to shut down debate because they’re worried the dissenters are wrong; the alarmists are attempting to shut down debate because they know their models are wrong, and they’d rather nobody focus on that inconvenient little fact…
Of course climate change — the notion that climates change over time, not the idea that we should spend a fortune futilely trying to change the weather — is real. Climates have changed consistently throughout the earth’s history. I am not aware of a single person who disagrees with the fact that climates change. Accusing someone of being a “climate denier” (does anyone on earth deny that climates exist?) doesn’t tell me that you’re awesome at science — it tells me that you’re awful at understanding what words mean…
I have a simple rule when it comes to people who want me to invest obscene sums of money in their forecasts of discrete future events: just be accurate. If you come to me and tell me you can predict future stock market performance based on these five factors, then you had better predict future stock market performance based on those five factors. All you have to do is be correct, over and over again. But if your predictive model is wrong, I’m not going to give you any money, and I’m certainly not going to pretend that what you just did is science. Any idiot can make incorrect guesses about the future.
Following the Obama administration’s latest of its climate-change report, George Will pushed back against the accepted “orthodoxy” of the phenomenon and challenged those who blindly believe in climate change are ignoring the “sociology of science.” “Scientists are not saints in white laboratory smocks — they’ve got interests like everybody else,” he said on Tuesday’s Special Report.
“If you want a tenure track position in academia, don’t question the reigning orthodoxy on climate change; if you want money from the biggest source of direct research in this country — the federal government — don’t question its orthodoxy; if you want to get along with your peers, conform to peer pressure,” Will outlined. “This is what’s happening.”
He also took issue with climate-change believers, such as the New Yorker, claiming such reports are “the last word” on the issue: “Try that phrase — ‘the last word’ — on microbiology, quantum mechanics, physics, chemistry. Since when does science come to the end?”
Q You mentioned the energy efficiency bill in the Senate. I was wondering what level of concern you have that Republicans might try to tack on kind of a pushback on some carbon emissions regulations to that bill, and what work, if any, you guys are doing to shore up Democrats in the Senate on that issue.
MR. PODESTA: Well, I think that the question of whether they would — they’ll find various ways, particularly in the House, to try to stop us from using the authority we have under the Clean Air Act. All I would say is that those have zero percent chance of working. We’re committed to moving forward with those rules. We’re committed to maintaining the authority, and the President’s authority to ensure that the Clean Air Act is fully implemented. That’s critical to the health of the American people, the health of the economy, and the health of our environment.
So they may try, but I think that there are no takers at this end of Pennsylvania Avenue. And I think — with respect to the commitment of Democrats to support a cleaner energy future, I think there’s a strong sentiment there. There’s quite a bit of organization that’s led particularly by Senator Whitehouse now in the Senate, Senator Boxer and others, Senator Markey and others, to ensure that we get the right outcome.
So, again, this is bipartisan legislation on efficiency. We hope that it gets to the floor. We hope that it passes. But if it passes with unacceptable riders, then it will be headed to the watery depths, I guess.