UPDATE NOV 29: William M Connolley says he is not impressed by Romm’s list either
There’s an underlying feeling of desperation in Joe Romm (ClimateProgress)’s “What are the near-term climate Pearl Harbors?“, a list “of what might drive action strong enough to avoid the worst“.
The list includes the Arctic “ice-free before 2020“, “superstorms like Katrina“, “a heatwave as bad as Europe’s 2003” , and the 2012 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (perish the thought it might be less catastrophiliac than the Fourth Assessment Report…).
Note that Romm’s blog has been echoed by Heliophage, on Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth, and in Nature’s Climate Feedback. An unwise move, if you ask me: one wonders what people would make if they knew that those claiming to work towards saving Planet Earth, are actively hoping disasters of all sorts befall upon us.
Talk about striving for unpopularity!!!
The desperation is evident in the fact that a person allegedly as well-informed on climate stuff as Romm, comes up with wholly inappropriate examples. Katrina was a big storm but not more superstorm than other hurricanes (Romm even acknowledges this point), and the destruction of New Orleans was evidently a matter of bad engineering and incompetent relief management. Didn’t he have anything better to put forward?
Likewise for the European heatwave of 2003. And even more importantly: neither Katrina, nor the European heatwave, can be linked to Climate Change and/or Global Warming. And so if, say, another heatwave will materialize, it will tell us absolutely nothing about Climate Change and Global Warming.
Actually, looking at the list of 9 items posted by Romm, the only ones that may provide ammunitions to the AGW cause may be the ice-free Arctic, and “accelerated mass loss in Greenland“.
Most likely, Romm is simply and perhaps unwittingly acknowledging the fact that for all the huffing and all the puffing, there is very little that AGWers can show to support their claims.
Look at when Revkin (a journalist I am grudgingly but steadily learning to respect) makes a very clear point to Romm:
As I [Revkin] wrote in 2006 (”Yelling Fire on a Hot Planet“) problems that get people’s attention (and cause them to change) are “soon, salient and certain” and the dangerous aspects of human-forced climate disruption remain none of those things
In other words, the dangers of AGW are not about to happen, they are not strikingly conspicuous, and they are not sure or inevitable.
And what has Romm got to reply to that? Very little. Actually, almost nothing: he spells out some kind of humanitarian deathwish, a desire for a big climate crisis; makes a critical point against journalists (who doesn’t); and decries how he understands things but most people don’t:
Multi-hundred-billion-dollar-sized government action happens only when there is a very, very big crisis […] labeled as such by very serious people who are perceived as essentially nonpartisan opinion leaders […] bad things must be happening to regular people right now […]
Better journalism would help. […] We simply don’t have a critical mass of credible nonpartisan opinion leaders who understand the nature of our energy and climate problem.
Revkin’s “soon, salient and certain“, by the way, is a quote originally from “Helen Ingram, a professor of planning, policy and design at the University of California, Irvine“.
Won’t Prof. Ingram be excited upon hearing that salience is not a problem, but persons not being bright enough is…
The supreme pinnacle of irony, in the Romm/Revkin exchange, lies in the former’s misunderstanding of the latter’s point about “certainty“. In 2006, Revkin noted that:
Projections of how patterns of drought, deluges, heat and cold might change are among the most difficult, and will remain laden with huge uncertainties for a long time to come […]
While scientists say they lack firm evidence to connect recent weather to the human influence on climate, environmental campaigners still push the notion […]
Romm’s reply? Another accusation, refusing to acknowledge Revkin’s first point (emphasis in the original):
You [Revkin] understand this but you don’t convey this to your readers: Doing nothing or doing little eliminates the uncertainty.
Romm’s near-term climate Pearl Harbors post, actually, does look suspiciously as a way of “pushing a notion” the non-scientific notion of connecting recent weather to (future?) climate change.
The above doesn’t look very promising for the AGW movement.
I am actually starting to think that the problem is in the fact that most AGWer haven’t grasped the nature of the issue they are concerned about. And so they use the tools learned to protect pandas or clean up the Hudson river. And for most intents and purposed, they fail: because, as Revkin has realized, Anthropogenic Global Warming, aka Climate Change, truly is a completely different beast.