Adapt or die? (5×8 – 11/18/11)

The link between climate change and bad weather, who’s more popular than Aaron Rodgers, the drinking water debate, a Social Security tale of one Minnesota county, and everyday should be National Unfriend Day.


You know those proclamations over the years that climate and weather aren’t the same thing? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change today released a report that it says establishes a link between climate change and severe weather events on the planet. Seventy-five percent of the disasters are climate-related — floods, hurricanes, drought, tornadoes etc.

“Where we have good data on the observations of the climate, you can show that there is an increased frequency of high-precipitation events — even in areas where the amount of rainfall is … getting less per year for reasons of climate change,” Gordon McBean, a professor of geography and political science at the University of Western Ontario, tells the CBC.

It’s more than just increased temperatures. “The fact is, a small change in average temperature can have a big impact on extremes,” Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, tells the Washington Post. “It’s pretty straightforward: As average temperatures go up, it’s fairly obvious that heat extremes go up and [the number of] low extremes go down.”

The report says there’s a 66-percent chance that the situation is caused by humans.

Another report today says the polar bear population in Ontario is doomed.

By the way, have you noticed the drought we’re having?

In any event, there’s only five years left to do anything about any of this, a recent report said, which means — given the way we don’t do things — it’s probably too late to do anything but watch, head for higher ground, and adapt.

That’s what researchers in Japan are considering in the wake of the tsunami.


Who’s more popular than Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers in Wisconsin? With the exception of Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ, nobody, a new poll suggests. Public Policy Polling, which found Rodgers with an 89 percent favorability rating in the state, decided to poll the most popular people in the country. Lincoln and Jesus were 1-2 nationwide (7 percent “weren’t sure” of an answer on Jesus, which raises all sorts of other possible polling questions). Santa Claus was viewed more favorably than Nelson Mandela or Gandhi. And, it says, Steve Jobs is the only person who was equally admired by both Democrats and Republicans. Here’s the whole poll.

What person did the respondents name as the most favorable? Themselves.

Did someone say Packers?


True or false: Drinking water prevents dehydration. False, a group of German academics have determined, and now the European Union is cracking down on anyone who says different. The Mail Online says advertising that bottle water prevents dehydration can get someone thrown in prison for two years.

“This is stupidity writ large,” Tory MEP Roger Helmer said. “The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are worrying about the obvious qualities of water. If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project, then this is it.”


If there weren’t Social Security, 10 percent of all the money in Otter Tail County would disappear, the Fergus Falls Journal reports. The paper analyzed the program in the county and found it constitutes a much larger percentage of the local economy of rural counties than urban areas.

In 1970, for example, Social Security payments of one form or another accounted for a little over 6 percent of the local economy. Today, it’s 9.2 percent.

Judith Stallmann, an economist at the University of Missouri, explained that Social Security payments help generate the sales that keep a rural business afloat.

“We find that Social Security income can be the difference between success and failure for some local businesses,” Stallmann said. “If you took away, say, 10 percent of the demand, would that local business be able to remain open? Often it’s that 10 percent that keeps them going. Social Security is providing that margin.”


National Unfriend Day is over — how was it for you?

Who is the average Facebook user, anyway?

Bonus: A pilot of a flight into New York got stuck in the lavatory on Wednesday, prompting fears something sinister was up. The recording of the co-pilot’s messages to authorities shows one problem was the passenger trying to tell him the pilot was stuck in the loo had “a thick foreign accent.”


A news story on MPR today describes a young artist who stopped doing graffiti after repeated run-ins with the law. Now he uses yarn to create a different kind of street art that is less likely to be regarded as vandalism. Today’s Question: When is street art art, and when is it vandalism?


What does Rottlund’s end say about the housing market?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Why does college cost so much?

Second hour: Patty Larkin. (rebroadcast)

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Rep. Tim Walz on Afghanistan.

Second hour: A new America Abroad documentary narrated by Ray Suarez: “Election 2012: Voters and Foreign Policy.”

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: What’s better: cheap imported solar panels that drive down the cost of clean energy? Or keeping solar jobs here in America?

Second hour: Building a better toilet.

  • One of the best things about your 5X8 posts, Bob, and you don’t get credit enough, is that they allow me to plan out how much public radio I will be listening to, since you lay out all in one place what’s on the MPR docket today.

  • GregS

    The polls reveal that belief in catastrophic global warming is in free-fall. This trend runs across the board – from Independents to Democrats to Republicans. Even denialsts like Al Gore, Andy Revkin and oracle of climate hysteria himself, NASA’s Jim Hansen have finally admitted that they are losing the public.

    So why has the faith faltered?

    Environmentalists blame “the skeptics” but the truth is almost no one listens to “the skeptics”. Most of us couldn’t even name one, much less articulate what they might say. This is because few media outlets cover the skeptics. Maybe a few blogs might, maybe FOXNEWS, maybe Rush, but what explains the growing skepticism among Independents and Democrats?

    Especially when ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune and the Star-tribune, all beat the drum of climate apocalypse, all day, every day.

    The answer is simple. If you are a committed environmentalist, willing to accept anything that confirms your bias, you will see nothing wrong with the article above, because it was written for you and only you.

    On the other hand, if you are a thinking individual, the hype, the dubious “science”, the outrageous claims, the constant rebranding, the hysterical caterwauling of “IT”S WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT” has finally taken its toll.

    In short, climate change no longer commands the credibility it once did.

  • Ken Paulman

    Greg challenges us to name a skeptic. Richard Muller comes to mind. Here’s what he had to say to Congress recently.

  • GregS

    1) Mueller was never a skeptic.

    2) Mueller has said nothing new.

    3) Mueller confirms that global temperatures have risen which everyone including the skeptics agree with.

    4) Mueller’s study has not been peer-reviewed, nor properly vetted.

    5) To Mueller’s credit, he has published his data. A close to first for climate science. Now all he has to do is properly account for UHI and all that nasty heat radiating concrete that messes us his data.

  • Ken Paulman

    So, is there any amount of evidence that will change your mind? If so, what would that evidence look like?

  • Jim Shapiro

    GregS – “In short, climate change no longer commands the credibility it once did.”

    I think perhaps you’re referring specifically to the United States. Which scores 20th among developed nations in science testing. Where nearly half the population doesn’t believe in evolution, and where many among us believes that cheap gasoline is a God-given right.

    What are YOUR motives in denying climate change, Greg?

  • GregS

    “So, is there any amount of evidence that will change your mind? If so, what would that evidence look like? – Ken Pullman”

    When science can accurately model water-vapor in the upper-troposphere in the mid-latitudes and clouds, I will entertain the notion that fears of future climate calamity are grossly exaggerated.

    For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, allow me to explain. Since most new sources choose to cheer-lead for their pet causes rather than convey information, I will explain the basic theory of catastrophic climate change.

    Think of the climate like a gun.

    Think of human industrial activity as the hammer of a gun. Think of green-house gases as the primer. These gases like carbon-dioxide and methane trap the sun’s energy and warm the atmosphere – igniting the primer.

    If that is all there was to it, we would not be having this discussion. The bullet would be a dud. Not much of a threat at all.

    So what is the gunpowder? What gets us from here to catastrophe? Ah, that is a great question and the answer is water-vapor. Yup, water-vapor. Think of water-vapor like the gun-powder in the bullet. It is what amplifies the charge set off by the primer (carbon-dioxide).

    Hey, be the first one on your block to actually understand what the IPCC is saying. Read

    The trouble is – there is no observed science to back up this theory. In fact, we really don’t know if water-vapor in the form of clouds will cool rather than warm the earth.

    What we do know is that there is a tremendous amount of hiding uncertainty, gate-keeping and corruption in climate science that is undermining both the science and the future economic prosperity of the world.

  • Ken Paulman

    What Greg’s referring to is known as negative cloud feedback:

    “While much more research of the cloud-climate feedback is needed, the evidence is building against those who argue for a strongly negative cloud feedback. It’s also important to remember that clouds are just one feedback among many, and there is a large amount of evidence that the net feedback is significantly positive, and climate sensitivity is not low.”

    It’s true that clouds block the sun. They also retain heat, which is why clear winter nights tend to be the coldest.

    So that’s it? Apart from the cloud feedback issue, you accept the other findings of climate scientists?

  • John P II

    @Greg – “committed enviromentalist” vs “thinking individual” is a false dichotomy, and you blame (credit) the media for a decline in support of global warming among the general public. May I interest you in a 9-9-9 tax plan?

    re: drinking water – Guardian has a sensible piece on this manufactured controversy.

  • GregS

    “What Greg’s referring to is known as negative cloud feedback: – Ken Paulman

    Ken, that is only half of what I referred to. I also provided a link to the IPCC’s highly speculative position on water-vapor feedback. Water-vapor feedback and cloud feedback are separate mechanisms, though there are connections.

    The upshot of these forcings and feedbacks is the great unknown – called climate sensitivity.

    The simple truth is, we have no practical way of knowing how sensitive the earth is to increased carbon-dioxide – however, what we know for sure is that it is less sensitive than we previously thought and is far less sensitive than the media and environmental activists have led us to believe.

    Ken, by the way, Skeptical Science is a highly partisan website that is anything but skeptical. It’s use of the term is highly Orwellian.

    Mr. Cook, the author of Skeptical Science, chose to reveal that the studies he cited by Stowasser et al, Lauer et al and especially Dressler – have a wide set of detractors that span the full range of opinion on feedbacks.

    – “Apart from the cloud feedback issue, you accept the other findings of climate scientists? – Ken Paulman”

    What other climate scientists are you referring to? What issues do you refer too? The science is broad, the issues are many, the uncertainties are profound.

  • GregS

    @ John P II – “committed enviromentalist” vs “thinking individual” is a false dichotomy”

    John, that is your dichotomy, not mine. My quote read “If you are a committed environmentalist, willing to accept anything that confirms your bias…

    On the other hand, if you are a thinking individual”

    My dichotomy was between someone who is “will to accept anything that confirms their bias” and a “thinking individual”.

    The extreme weather meme was created at the Columbia School of Journalism as a propaganda tool. It was designed to confirm biases, not to advance science. It is a meme few climate scientist will touch in the peer-reviewed literature – least they be branded as fools.

  • GregS


    “Mr. Cook, the author of Skeptical Science, chose NOT to reveal that the studies he cited by Stowasser et al, Lauer et al and especially Dressler – have a wide set of detractors that span the full range of opinion on feedbacks.”

  • BenCh

    Climate scientists use current data to create models to predict what MAY happen in the future. Models can have a number of variables and thus many models chose to focus on what one or a few might do. Do we know how every complex system in our atmosphere works? No. Can we guess? Yes.

    Look at just water vapor would be like trying to say that the Vikings are a bad team because they have a horrible pass defense. There are many contributors to climate.

    As a point of clarification, “CLIMATE” is defined as the overall trends over a span of 30 years. Is the climate warming? Go look at the temperature data in your area and compare.

    As for if we can test what will happen- sort of. Greg you are only looking at what people are studying with today’s climate and what that might do in the future. Have you looked at anything geologists have done to see what conditions were like in the past? Geologists all over the world are reconstructing climate- by determining past temperatures, carbon amounts, precipitation estimates, and many more. The IPCC does not do much at all to address what conditions were like in the Earth’s past. The Earth goes through natural cycles of warming and cooling and sometime in the future the Earth WILL go into an ice age.

    The factor that we have never seen before is ourselves. The amount of ALL greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere is exceeding any rate than it has in the past. Do we know for sure what will happen? No.

    If you want to look at a condition of hotter conditions just look at the Cretaceous. Sea levels in the past have been over 100 meters HIGHER than they are now. It is all natural.

    If we knew what the climate would do we wouldn’t have debates. The atmosphere and hydrosphere are complex and dynamic systems that are not completely understood. Until we can accept what we do not know, what we know will always be inadequate.

  • Ken Paulman

    @GregS: I was thinking along the lines of what Bob mentioned originally in the post. Such as:

    We’re emitting more CO2 through the burning of fossil fuels, CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rising, trapping more heat, leading to increased energy and moisture in the atmosphere, leading to more extreme weather events.

    Those are all observable/measurable things. If I’m understanding right (correct me if I’m wrong), you’re not necessarily disputing any of that, but you don’t trust longer range projections because you’re unsure of the impact of water vapor and/or cloud feedback.

    Is that right? I’m just trying to understand what your position is exactly.

  • GregS

    “Do we know how every complex system in our atmosphere works? No. Can we guess? Yes – BenCh”

    Sure we can guess but we have to ask ourselves, what is our level of certainty in the results? Current climate models lack proper inputs for water-vapor and cloud feedbacks and therefore are about as effective as modeling an airplane without knowing anything about wings or lift.

    The truth is, our climate models were never built for predicting future climate, only for exploring very specific aspects of it.

    But I understand and appreciate your point.

    The question is – what do we do about all of this?

    Yeah, I am all for reducing pollution and finding efficiencies. I am all for reducing consumption – but what I am not for – is using bad science to create a false imperative to justify bad public policy.

  • GregS

    I strongly disagree that higher levels of carbon-dioxide are causing or will cause extreme weather events.

    What MPR has failed to report is that there is extreme conflict within the IPCC about the extreme weather meme.

    The activists and politicians led by the former railroad engineer Rajendra Pachauri continue to toss things at the wall to see if they stick.

    The actual report, written by scientists, stands in stark contrast to Pachuari’s hysteria. They say, and I quote, “Projected changes in climate extremes under different emissions scenarios generally do not strongly diverge in the coming two to three decades, but these signals are relatively small compared to natural climate variability over this time frame. Even the sign of projected changes in some climate extremes over this time frame is uncertain”

    In other words, stuff is going to happen, so expect the activists to howl, but no one in their right mind can differentiate natural from forced events for the next thirty years.

  • Ken Paulman

    So, are you saying that extreme weather events haven’t been increasing in frequency? Or that they have, and it was caused by something else?

    If it’s the latter, than what’s the cause, and where’s the science to support it?

  • GregS

    “So, are you saying that extreme weather events haven’t been increasing in frequency – Ken Paulman”

    This quote will serve as my answer. It is from a climate scientist, Dr. Judith Curry, chair of Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

    On the issues, Dr. Curry is a warmest, but a very rational one.

    “The substantial interest in attributing extreme weather events to global warming seems rooted in the perceived need for some sort of a disaster to drive public opinion and the political process in the direction of taking action on climate change. However, attempts to attribute individual extreme weather events, or collections of extreme weather events, may be fundamentally ill-posed in the context of the complex climate system, which is characterized by spatiotemporal chaos. There are substantial difficulties and problems associated with attributing changes in the average climate to natural variability versus anthropogenic forcing, which I have argued are oversimplified by the IPCC assessments. Attribution of extreme weather events is further complicated by their dependence on weather regimes and internal multi-decadal oscillations that are simulated poorly by climate models.

    I have been completely unconvinced by any of the arguments that I have seen that attributes a single extreme weather event, a cluster of extreme weather events, or statistics of extreme weather events to anthropogenic forcing. Improved analysis of the attribution of extreme weather events requires a substantially improved and longer database of the events. Interpretation of these events in connection with natural climate regimes such as El Nino is needed to increase our understanding of the role of natural climate variability in determining their frequency and intensity. Improved methods of evaluating climate model simulations of distributions of extreme event intensity and frequency in the context of natural variability is needed before any confidence can be placed in inferences about the impact of anthropogenic influences on extreme weather events.”

  • Jim Shapiro

    In 1977, Jimmy Carter, a former nuclear engineer with the US Navy, declared that the use of energy was an issue of vital importance, and he enacted conservation and alternative energy policies.

    In 1980, Ronald Reagan, a demented former actor, cancelled and reversed those policies.

    Repugnicans consistently continue to support the exploitation and subsidizing of finite and environmentally harmful carbon -based energy forms, arguing that they are necessary to fuel the engines of industry, which has moved to China.

    Those same individuals deny that the human use of carbon-based energy has a significant impact on our environment – contrary to the findings to the vast majority of the qualified scientific community.


  • Ken Paulman

    I understand her point, but it doesn’t answer my question.

    If weather extremes are occurring more frequently, and global warming isn’t the cause, than what is? Surely someone’s at least come up with a guess, right?

    And Dr. Curry, a “warmist,” as you say, concurs that humans are changing the climate. Do you agree with her on that point?

    Again, just trying to develop an understanding here.

  • BenCh

    I can’t see these comments nearing any particular direction… perhaps instead of just simply arguing about personal views, maybe present facts and allow others to get their own conclusions. I don’t see the point in each person holding ground and just rabble-ing on and on, getting to no point in particular.

  • GregS

    “In 1977, Jimmy Carter, a former nuclear engineer with the US Navy, declared that the use of energy was an issue of vital importance, and he enacted conservation and alternative energy policies. – Jim Shapiro”

    Few people are aware that Carter’s EPA killed the hybrid. The technology was invented in the 1970’s by Victor Wouk, the brother of the popular writer.

    The EPA took an immediate dislike to the hybrid because it wasn’t green enough for them. Eric Stork, head of EPA’s Mobile Source Air Pollution Control Program did everything bureaucratically possible to kill the project.

    Ironically, it was GM who helped Wouk keep going.

    This should have been a cautionary tale about the idiocy of allowing corrupt bureaucrats to pick technological winners and losers – but we still pick and subsidize the losers – like wind and solar.

    The story of Herman Wouk had happy ending though, Toyota discovered his project and used his work to create the Prius.

  • GregS

    “If weather extremes are occurring more frequently, and global warming isn’t the cause, than what is? Surely someone’s at least come up with a guess, right? – Ken Paulman”

    Cold nights are increasing in frequency and intensity in our region. What should we attribute this too?

    If we take the short view, on the scale of weeks, this signals an ominous trend. On the other hand, if we view our weather on an annual scale, we detect the onset of winter.

    Our climate is merely reflecting multi-decadal trends. We just had a strong El Nino a few years ago, followed by perhaps two strong La Nina’s. In addition, multi-decadal arctic oscillation flipped – bringing very cold winters to the midwest and Europe.

    There is nothing unusual about this – but it does make for great propaganda.

  • Jim Shapiro

    GregS – Thanks for the interesting info on Wouk’s hybrid being blocked by the unethical bureaucrat.

    I just returned from a visit to the Scripps Institute, which included informative displays on human caused climate change.

    Yes, bureaucrats are frequently corrupt. Yes, scientists can be wrong.

    But in this case, the VAST majority of knowledgeable experts oppose your position.

    You’re clearly intelligent. What is your motive behind denying the danger? We would all prefer you to be right, but the costs are simply too great if you’re wrong. Are you simply an iconoclast, or is it something else?

  • GregS

    Ken, it is my turn to ask a question of you. Do you think it is good public policy to make world energy decision based on a meme dreamed up by a couple 20 year old undergraduates at the Columbia School of Journalism?

    In case you didn’t know that is where the idea of “extreme weather” originated. Environmental activists and “climate scientists” merely picked up the chant.

    It is a sales tool, not science.

  • GregS

    “You’re clearly intelligent. What is your motive behind denying the danger? We would all prefer you to be right, but the costs are simply too great if you’re wrong. Are you simply an iconoclast, or is it something else? – Jim Shapiro”

    I have to ask the same thing of you. What is your motive for exaggerating the science?

    I don’t know if you have heard but ClimateGate 2.0 is breaking as we speak. It is the release of more emails from two years ago and shows the leading figures of climate change as a law-breaking, corrupt and vain.

    It also demonstrates how they admit in private what they will never admit in public – which is they haven’t a clue.

    I wonder if we will be seeing Goldman-Sach withdrawing from the boards of all the Green NGO’s soon.

    That will be a signal that the party is over.