Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just a Little Bit of Global Warming Goes a Long, Long Way

Chain of Fools
A little warming goes a long way.  That might be the real message from the floods that have wracked Alberta over the past week.

It's a message much of the Third World has known, and endured, for quite a while but we really never much listened to them.  Most Canadians thought global warming, for Canada, mainly meant a little less cold - yippee!

Oh sure, the Innu have been warning about climate change impacts in the far north but we really haven't paid them much mind either.  But Calgary?  Well that's another matter altogether.

Now we're coming to realize that the loss of that Arctic sea ice carries a price that even those of us in southern Canada are going to have to pay.  We now have to cope with a new, more powerful, meandering and yet sluggish Polar Jet Stream that can draw Arctic air masses deep into the south or warm, wet southern air high into the north and leave them parked in one spot for a good long time.

Here's the thing.  We're not quite at one degree of warming yet, somewhat under half of what we're told is the "do not exceed" target for this century.   So, if this is what we get at the halfway mark, what will two degrees Celsius bring us?  And there's a lot of science that warns, if we follow the Conservative vision for the future, the Harper/Klein/Stelmach/Redford path, we could be looking at warming of four, even five degrees Celsius.   By that point, man-made emissions will be eclipsed by natural feedback mechanisms releasing stored greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  That's what is called "runaway global warming."

So, what do we do from here on in?  Probably nothing.  The Conservative confidence artists wasted no time in framing their narrative of the Calgary floods.  The event was unforeseeable.  No one could have known.   No one saw it coming.  No one is at fault, even those in power whose obligation it was to spot things like this coming.

"Nobody saw it coming" - that could be the Conservative mantra for the 21st century.  Whenever reality blows up in the face of Conservative ideology, the standard response is to duck responsibility by claiming no one could have seen it coming.

It's a pack of lies, of course.   Lies from Harper.   Lies from Alberta's Redford.   Lies from Redford's enviromin, Diana McQueen.

McQueen insisted the severity of the flood had rendered the question of preparation moot.

“What Alberta has experienced in this past week was unprecedented: More rain, more quickly over a larger area than has ever been seen before in this province. No report or recommendation looking at the lessons of the past could have prepared us for this event,” she said.

Why is it that the party that boasts it is all about responsibility never wants to take any?   Harper has Environment Canada scientists bound and gagged, held in some dank federal cellar in Lebreton Flats.   Alberta has its scientists working fulltime fudging figures to show that the Tar Sands aren't really all that bad and that Athabasca drinking water is safe (enough for the sort of people who live way up there in the heart of nothing.)

It's hard not to feel a tinge of schadenfreude  that a flooding event like this should hit the one province and home riding of the prime minister that have done their best to deny and undercut the reality of anthropogenic global warming while moving to ramp up production of the filthiest, most carbon-intensive unconventional petroleum product on the planet.

Harper, Redford and all of those just like them are in a race against time, one that they cannot win.  It's not the 2005 flood that's the problem or even the current one.  It's the floods to come that will pry power from their grasping, denialist fingers.



Anonymous said...

What did Bloomberg publish after Hurricane Sandy? 'It's Global Warming, Stupid".

And would somebody please rip the pilot wings off of Harper's jacket. He did not earn the wings. This is an insult to the many Canadians who actually earned those wings and died while wearing those wings.

The Mound of Sound said...

It is a disgrace to all the aircrew who have earned and flown with those wings that this pimp should wear them.

Anonymous said...

Blow up the Rockies! That'll change the weather pattern in Alberta.

The Mound of Sound said...

Our planet's rotation gives us westerly winds. That's why the west coast is so much windier and wetter than our east coast. Alberta is in the lee of the Rockies which illustrates the problem.

The warm, wet air is coming up out of the south more than the west. It's a feature of the long-wave pattern created by our new, polar jet stream. The problem is it's very slow moving, west to east, so when it brings a heavy rain front it tends to stay much longer, more rainfall accumulates, and you get flooding.

You want to stop it? Try restoring the Arctic sea ice. Piece of cake.