Friday, December 18, 2015

Climate Change Catastrophe?

The word 'catastrophe' is bantered about quite a bit when climate change is debated. Deniers try to demean climate science by calling it 'catastrophic anthropogenic global warming' (CAGW). I've also heard people on the science side of the debate discuss various climate change catastrophes. Is either side even realistic? That depends on how you define 'catastrophe.'

Let's first discuss the deniers. They state claims of the end of civilization are crazy. I have to agree with them on this point. If your definition of 'catastrophe' is the end of civilization or even the end of the species (I have heard both claims in recent weeks), I can't accept that future. Let me illustrate why.

Suppose we had an epically catastrophic heat wave. Let's suppose it lasts a full month and kills a million people. I think most people would agree that would be a catastrophe. Just imagine - a million dead bodies piling up in the heat faster than they can be buried. And yet, more than six million babies would be born during that month. In other words, we could have a heat wave greater than anything ever recorded and the human population would still increase.

Understand, I am not in any way predicting such a heat wave. I am merely making a point with a fictional situation. People simply don't understand what it means to say '7.3 billion people' (the current world population). Put it this way. If we reduced the world population by one million people every single day, it would take over 7300 days to wipe out everyone. That's more than 20 years. That's a whole lot of death and I don't see it happening. Not ever. The human species is the most adaptable, more resilient species of life on the planet. Assuming the climate takes a gigantic turn for the worse, I still don't see it wiping us out.

So, does that mean there is no cause for alarm? Again, it depends on your definition of 'catastrophe.' Studies show climate change is already responsible for more than 400,000 deaths per year. That is not some hypothetical number for a future. That is what is happening right now. If you or someone you love is one of those 400,000 per year, you would probably consider it to be a catastrophe.

The fact is, climate change has already resulted in a lower standard of living for hundreds of millions of people. It is already responsible for the deaths and illnesses of millions. It is already responsible for the massive damage to the environment. The list goes on. This is stuff that is already here. What about the future? How much worse will the weather get? How much more will diseases spread? How much more will sea levels rise? How many more droughts and heat waves will there be? Again, the list goes on.

So, will we see catastrophes caused by climate change?

Define 'catastrophe.'

By my definition, it's already here.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

No Surprise: Another Heat Record

NOAA released their global analysis today for November. I'm sure no one who has been following the data is surprised, but November 2015 was the hottest November ever recorded. That makes seven months in a row that a temperature record has been set. November was nearly 1 degree C above the 20th century average. Almost halfway to the 2 degree mark the Paris accord is trying to limit us to.

The litany of records NOAA lists is depressing. I'll limit myself to just these. The September-November period was the hottest such period ever recorded. The first 11 months of 2015 were the hottest first 11 months of any year ever recorded. Nine of those eleven months were record hot months.

Things are not good.

For the last 12 months, the tally is:

November 2015 was the hottest November ever recorded;

October 2015 was the hottest October ever recorded;

September 2015 was the hottest September ever recorded

August 2015 was the hottest August ever recorded;

July 2015 was the hottest July (and hottest any month) ever recorded;

June 2015 was the hottest June ever recorded;

May 2015 was the hottest May ever recorded;

April 2015 was tied for the third hottest April ever recorded;

March 2015 was the hottest March ever recorded;

February 2015 was the hottest February ever recorded;

January 2015 was the second hottest January ever recorded;

December 2014 was the hottest December ever recorded.

Adding up the score for the last 12 months gives us: one 3rd hottest month, one 2nd hottest month, and ten hottest months ever.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Irrelevent Tom Harris: The Future of Denialism

Tom Harris is a well-known paid shill for the fossil fuel and tobacco industries.  He denies this, but he has a long track record that is hard to hide. He was the Executive Director of the now defunct Natural Resources StewardshipProject (NRSP), which was controlled by energy business lobbyists. He was the Director of Operations for High Park Group (HPG), a fossil fuel PR agency, and worked for APCO Worldwide which promoted tobacco interests. He is also affiliated with the anti-science Heartland Institute which promotes tobacco interests and is funded by the fossil fuel industry (FFI) to spread climate change denial misinformation. Possibly his worst reference is his association with the so-called ‘Friends of Science’, even though they are the furthest thing from being friends of science, or society for that matter. This group has been shown to receive its funding from the fossil fuel industry, something they went to great lengths to hide (why is that?).

According to, ICSC is linked to the following fossil fuel supported organizations (organizations with an * after their names are known to receive funding from ExxonMobil):

The Heartland Institute*;
Science and Public Policy Institute;
American Council on Science and Health*;
International Policy Network - North America*;
Cooler Heads Coalition;
Tech Central Science Foundation*;
Australian Science Coalition;
Institute for Public Affairs;
Competitive Enterprise Institute*;
George C. Marshall Institute*;
New Zealand Climate Science Coalition;
and the Fraser Institute*

All of these organizations are known to receive funding from the fossil fuel industry, many times via Donors Trust or the Heartland Institute. In other words, the organizations paying ICSC are all paid by the fossil fuel industry.

In his role as executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), Mr. Harris is paid to put editorials in as many media sources as he can with the goal of providing false information with the express purpose of deceiving the public into not supporting any actions that may impact the profits of his employers in the fossil fuel industry. At first glance, it would seem the FFI is getting their money's worth. By my count, Tom Harris has written or co-written articles that have appeared in over 20 news outlets since the beginning of October. They even hosted an alternative meeting in Paris during the COP21 conference.

But, let's take a closer look. These articles have appeared in important news outlets such as the North Korean Times (yes, THAT North Korea), the Uzbekistan Newsnet, Pagosa Daily Post, Your Houston News, the Malay Mail, the Lethbridge Herald, Daily Inter Lake, and Mothers Against Wind Turbines. I don't view any of these as being relevant sources of outreach.

And, when we actually read his articles (a really unpleasant exercise of wading through lies, false arguments, and deception), we find increasingly shrill claims and statements. Along the way, he made gems of statements such as "I have never worked as a PR rep for any company or sector (see his resume above) (Munroe News Star),  "...the idea that we control tropical cyclones is nonsense." (Yes, it is and no one is making any such claim. So, why is Mr. Harris claiming someone is?) (Westmoreland County Times), and "Coal sector workers ... must demand that their leaders defend them properly."  (The coal industry probably has the worst record of any industry since the slave days of abusing its employees. Why would coal workers turn to the industry leaders?" (Daily Inter Lake).  

And, how about that Paris meeting? I saw only one report in the news media (yes, only one). That article stated there was  an audience of "about 35 mostly greying, white, middle-aged men, and a handful of women." Seriously? COP21 had representatives from 195 different countries, and the deniers can get only 35 individuals? I'm going to guess that most of them were the people hosting the conference.

Now, he may be facing criminal charges in Canada as a result of his actions.

Mr. Harris is taking on the appearance of someone who has fallen to the wayside and knows it. But, he shouldn't feel lonely. All of the other FFI lobbyists are right there with him.

The message is clear. No one is interested and no one is listening.

Maybe ExxonMobile should ask for it's money back.

the idea that we control tropical cyclones is nonsense. - See more at:
the idea that we control tropical cyclones is nonsense. - See more at:
the idea that we control tropical cyclones is nonsense. - See more at:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sign The Ecojustice Letter

I wrote about how Ecojustice has petitioned the Canadian government to investigate denier organizations for violating Canadian law. If you would like to sign the Ecojustice letter, you may do so here:

Sign the Ecojustice Letter

Spread the word.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Climate Change Deniers May Face Criminal Charges in Canada

The link below is to an article detailing a complaint filed in Canada against climate change denier groups, including The Friends of Science, The International Climate Science Coalition, and the Heartland Institute. The complaint details how these groups have posted false and misleading billboards in an effort to confuse the public on climate change in order to benefit the fossil fuel industry. What I find interesting is how the denier groups had been found in violation of the law before, a finding which was upheld on appeal, and then they went ahead and put up new antiscience billboards. It would seem to me it should be an easy decision on the part of the Canadian government to charge them. If they were told once to stop doing it, then went ahead and did it again, the next thing to do would be to charge them with a crime. I also liked how they will have the grounds to demand a list of their donors if they pursue an investigation. That would be great to see.

We'll need to watch how this one turns out. Hopefully, these groups will have to explain themselves in court.

Update: Here is a link to the entire filing (Thanks to cunuduin).

Ecojustice files complaint with Competition Bureau against climate denial groups