Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Examining roots of our collective failure. George Monbiot

Finally, someone telling it like it is.  George Monbiot wrote an article that ought to appear on every single politician, business person and especially every limp journalist's plate tomorrow morning.  

Monbiot's article is copyrighted by the Guardian.  Thanks to their generous open license policy I have selected 486 words worth of quotes that I hope will make an impression, or at least interest you enough to read his full article.

by George Monbiot | August 3, 2016 | The Guardian

What is salient is not important. What is important is not salient. The media turns us away from the issues that will determine the course of our lives, and towards topics of brain-melting irrelevance.

This, on current trends, will be the hottest year ever measured. The previous record was set in 2015; the one before in 2014. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century. Each of the past 14 months has beaten the global monthly temperature record. But you can still hear people repeating the old claim, first proposed by fossil fuel lobbyists, that global warming stopped in 1998. … 

Throughout the media, these tragedies are reported as impacts of El Niño: a natural weather oscillation caused by blocks of warm water forming in the Pacific. But the figures show that it accounts for only one-fifth of the global temperature rise. The El Niño phase has now passed, but still the records fall. … 
Donald Trump, on the other hand – well, what did you expect? Climate change is a “con-job” and a “hoax” that was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”. His manifesto reads like a love letter to the coal industry. … 
What’s most alarming about the platform is that Trump didn’t write it: the deranged and contradictory bluster of the Republican party leadership is a collective effort. … 
It’s not that the media failed to mention what the two platforms said about humanity’s existential crisis. But the coverage was, for the most part, relegated to footnotes, while the evanescent trivia of the conventions led the bulletins and filled the front pages. There are many levels of bias in the media, but the most important is the bias against relevance. … The basic problem, however, is that the political costs of failure are so low.
To pretend that newspapers and television channels are neutral arbiters of such matters is to ignore their place at the corrupt heart of the establishment. At the US conventions, to give one small example, the Washington Post, the Atlantic and Politico were paid by the American Petroleum Institute to host a series of discussions, at which climate science deniers were represented. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but the purse is mightier than the pen.

Why should we trust multinational corporations to tell us the truth about multinational corporations? And if they cannot properly inform us about the power in which they are embedded, how can they properly inform us about anything?

If humanity fails to prevent climate breakdown, the industry that bears the greatest responsibility is not transport, farming, gas, oil or even coal. All of them can behave as they do, shunting us towards systemic collapse, only with a social licence to operate. The problem begins with the industry that, wittingly or otherwise, grants them this licence: the one for which I work.
  A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Twitter: @georgemonbiot

The Political Process Isn’t Rigged — It Has Much Bigger Problems

El Niño and Global Warming—What’s the Connection?

Most scientists agree that the warming trend (2011 to 2015 is the hottest five-year period ever.) is due to greenhouse gases humans have put into the atmosphere. But 2015’s warming of .9˚C above the average for the 20th century was the “largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, because of the presence of a strong El Niño. …

Even without El Niño, 2015 would have been a record warm year, but climate scientists believe El Niño was responsible for 8 percent to 10 percent of the warming. Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, estimated that El Niño accounted for 0.07˚C of the above average warming that occurred in 2015. Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the U.K.’s Meteorological Office, expects that El Niño will contribute 25 percent of new record global temperatures in 2016. …

Correcting for more than just el Niño
By Tamino  |  Posted on January 29, 2016 

I recently showed a version of “el Niño-Corrected” temperature from Gavin Schmidt at NASA. My own calculation suggested that el Niño caused about the same contribution to 2015’s heat as Gavin’s estimate. However, there are some pronounced differences between our calculations. …

My corrected data show a lot less wiggling around. For example, my correction accounts for the 1998 heat nicely, showing that its extremity was entirely due to el Niño, while Gavin’s still has 1998 well above the trend line even after correction. Also, mine doesn’t show some of the dips in Gavin’s curve, such as the extreme cooling in 1992.

There are two reasons for the differences. One is that I’ve used a more complex model of the el Niño effect, one which matches the 1998 outburst (and others too) much better. The other is that I’ve corrected for more than just el Niño; I’ve adjusted for solar variations and volcanic aerosols too, so my correction removes the 1992 dip which was because of the eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo volcano. The result of correcting for three factors instead of just one, and of a more sophisticated el Niño correction, is a much steadier warming for about the last forty years. … 

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