State Department has (mostly) thrown in the towel on climate change

Scientists and environmentalists are not alone in their despair that the world no longer can prevent climate change. The U.S. State Department has (mostly) thrown in the towel, too. Now it’s all about preparing for the aftermath.

When State Department officials recently met with opinion journalists from around the country, climate change came up repeatedly. Diplomats whose areas of expertise included the Middle East, East Asia, foreign aid, India and more kept coming back to the consequences of a warmer planet. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are treating it as the serious issue that it is diplomatically because they can’t do much domestically.

In the basement of the State Department that day, we heard words like “adaptation” and “resilience.” Diplomats asked, “How do we deal with this?” not “How do we prevent it?

Todd Stern, Special Envoy for Climate Change, once or twice mentioned efforts to reduce emissions and the need for international agreement, but they were not the focus of discussion. Real action is probably unattainable. Developing countries want to pin more expense on developed countries than the latter will tolerate, and an intractable disagreement on Capitol Hill between Democrats who mostly believe in science and Republicans who don’t ensures greenhouses gases will continue to build up in the atmosphere.

Climate change billboard, courtesy of the Freeway Blogger.“There are plenty of questions still to be worked out and worked through by scientists with respect to how fast, how bad, how large the impacts, and so forth. But the fundamentals are clear and it is happening on the ground,” Stern said.

The moral was that climate change is real, and we’d best figure out how we will react to it.

“This is a quintessential global problem,” Stern explained. “This is unlike most other environmental problems that you can clean up locally.” Where an oil spill might affect the Gulf of Mexico, it is contained. Climate change affects everyone everywhere.

Nancy Lindborg, USAID Assistant Administrator or the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, painted a grim human picture. Increased natural disasters will strike. Even if the United States is far from an international leader on curbing emissions, it still can be a leader it implementing mitigation measures.

“We are putting an increased emphasis on building resilience,” Lindborg said. “We’re seeing that where you have chronic poverty, and often coupled with the ever-greater impacts of climate change, we need to get upstream of what is a cycle of disasters.”

Preparation ranges from developing and sharing climate-resistant seeds to better managing resources. Lindborg and her fellow diplomats know all too well that when resources become scarce, the potential for conflict skyrockets.

Nisha Biswal, assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, talked about work the Army Corps of Engineers has done in Bangladesh helping prepare disaster response systems and construct cyclone shelters.

Climate change exacerbates other environmental problems. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, cited water shortages as an example. With changing rainfall patterns on a global scale, droughts are becoming more common in places that can little withstand it. Meanwhile, rising sea levels threaten low-lying coastal communities.

She also noted the increasing acidification of seawater that is killing many organisms that form the foundation of the oceans’ ecosystem. The Seattle Times recently documented some of the destruction already underway.

Too many Americans refuse to accept the evidence before their eyes and reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that the world is on a path to global climate catastrophe. At least there are smart people in Washington working on the issue anyway. Republicans in Congress might be a roadblock to legislative action, but executive measures remains possible and essential as a bulwark against the worst outcomes.

That’s an important fact to remember as the 2016 presidential election approaches. If America elects a president who denies the problem even exists, efforts to prepare will cease.

But climate disaster will not.


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Christian Trejbal is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Ore. Overcoming graduate degrees in philosophy, he worked as an editorial writer at The (Bend) Bulletin and The Roanoke Times for more than a decade. He serves as open government chairman and a member of the board of directors of the Association of Opinion Journalists. Follow him on Twitter @ctrejbal.

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  • bernard helinski

    As long as Americans have shipped their manufacturing to China they sendit to a country that doesn’t give one iota about climatic atmosphere. They are the worst and the U S shares blame by encouraging China to “make it cheap”.

  • LanceThruster
  • Bill_Perdue

    Yes it is.

  • 4th Turning

    GP’s essay today is excellent!

  • Bill_Perdue

    capitalism is alienation

  • 4th Turning

    “Climate change has moved from distant threat to present-day danger and no American will be left unscathed, according to a landmark report due to be unveiled on Tuesday.

    The National Climate Assessment, a 1,300-page report compiled by 300 leading scientists and experts, is meant to be the definitive account of the effects of climate change on the US. It will be formally released at a White House event and is expected to drive the remaining two years of Barack Obama’s environmental agenda.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/04/climate-change-present-us-national-assessment

  • 4th Turning
  • 0.3E9m/s

    If he knows that, he keeps the knowledge deeply hidden. He’s lost the lightning and thunder he could unleash in ’96, but he’s still remarkably upbeat for the circumstances. The “acceptance speech” (it wasn’t really a nomination in ’96) he gave at UCLA was the most amazing oration I’ve ever seen, and nobody could have been expected to top it, ever. CSPAN ran it a few times but never announced it in advance due to scheduling “mistakes.” I was there and I’ve got a transcript.

  • 0.3E9m/s

    It’s a good cop/bad cop charade. The “good cop’s” job is to wring his hands helplessly while the “bad cop” carries out the police department’s actual policy. They both work for the same chief(s) and each has his role in the drama. The good cop establishes deniability for the policy.

  • ComradeRutherford

    “Gore quoted Nader in his stump speech, his poll numbers went up, and when he went back to “centrist” DNC type rhetoric they went down”

    And since the Democratic Leadership has insisted on the ‘centrist’ DNC way almost all the time since Saint Reagan, knowing full well that they LOSE that way, I conclude that the Dems are *intentionally* losing to the GOP whenever they can. Which is a huge reason I haven’t voted for a mainstream Dem since we were betrayed by Clinton I in 1992.

  • 0.3E9m/s

    Pay no attention to random crackpots. If anything, the Dems threw the 2000 race. They had at least three chances: reinstating the Choicepoint voters, the Brooks Brothers Riot, and the recounts. Crackpots will sometimes compare Nader’s tally to the margin of error in the polling, but it’s a non-sequitur. If Nader somehow “changed” the outcome, so did Monica Morehead of the Workers’ World Party. If they insist, point out that every time Gore quoted Nader in his stump speech, his poll numbers went up, and when he went back to “centrist” DNC type rhetoric they went down. Nader’s presence could well have boosted Gore’s Florida tally. There is no way to know.

  • lynchie

    This says it all

  • cole3244

    the walls and gates won’t be strong enough to keep the 1% from the violent end they have earned in triplicate.

  • 4th Turning
  • Bill_Perdue

    I’m not on facebook – too easy to get hacked.

    I’m only interested in political observations.

  • 4th Turning

    I am in agreement that some sort of awakening is (gradually?) taking place
    across the country/world. Whatever took place in your heart and soul as well
    as mine was not the result of reading a manifesto nailed on a telephone pole
    or similarly online. Different events in different lives are simultaneously
    happening sometimes forcing individuals and/or groups to take something
    akin to that heroic stand onlookers later come to applaude. Maybe you’re
    stuck in phase 1-maybe not. At lot of your stuff is stuff only a mom could
    love and a few kindred fags might take a second look at especially if the
    writer happens to be well-proportioned as your facebook pics reveal
    you to be (if they haven’t been enhanced which is usually the case on
    this stupid internet). I am every bit as upset by the whole betrayal thing
    as you and so many other commenters are here. But I keep scanning
    the horizon for the emergence of phase II-frankly worn-out by all the
    yelling. (Demonstrators can’t seem to come up with any clever chants
    after their classic hell no we won’t go…)
    This a.m. on cnn. I agree that huge segments of the population aren’t
    responding to the obvious because they lack basic literacy skill to comprehend the messages you and others are trying to put out there.

    “The picture of the United States is deeply troubling. Despite having the second-highest per capita GDP, the country does poorly along almost every dimension. It is below average in literacy and technological proficiency, and it’s third from the bottom in numeracy for 16- to 65-year-olds. Interestingly, France, Piketty’s country, also fares poorly in most categories.

    Inequalities of skills are also becoming generational and entrenched. The United States had a wide gap between its best performers and worst performers — though it had a smaller percentage in the top range compared with countries such as Japan, Finland and the Netherlands. And it had the widest gap in scores between people with rich, educated parents and poor, undereducated parents.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-americas-educational-failings/2014/05/01/b61eaa22-d15c-11e3-9e25-188ebe1fa93b_story.html
    http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/01/americas-educational-failings/

  • Jade

    A much better, and more correct, way to put it.

  • lynchie

    Or the staff at State don’t give a shit.

  • lynchie

    This is their end of days scenario where they will all be called to the promised land and God will look after them. The 1% figure they will be allowed to go into the bunkers the government has because Congress is owned by them. They can then emerge to an unblemished landscape free of all us “pond scum”.

  • ComradeRutherford

    “no global warming for the last 17+ years and cooling since 2001″
    That is weapons-grade bullonium. We’ve had the hottest years on record during that time. Apparently you don’t believe in facts. Who am I going yo believe, you, or my own lying eyes???

  • ComradeRutherford

    We have a one-party system with two factions…

  • Jade

    I suspect that he knows better than any of us the futility of trying to help a pathetically greedy, ignorant, superstitious nation.

  • Jade

    Bush couldn’t have started those wars without huge Democratic support, and you know that.

  • Jade

    The only people who had any influence on Bush being “elected” are Jeb Bush, the Supreme Court, and weak, timid Democrats. But Democrats have been making themselves feel better by blaming the Green Party for years, and most people believe the narrative.

    The main fallout from the 2000 election isn’t the eight, horrid years of Bush. It’s that we will never, ever have try to have anything more than a two Party system again.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Basically, I asked a question. What do you want? I still don’t have that answer.

  • Heber Rizzo

    Mike_in_the_Tundra:

    We are discussing science. You just have admitted you have no scientific argument in favor of AGW conjecture and calamitologists by resorting to a straw man fallacy. I didn’t mention anything about pollution, but I am really against it. Abour real pollution, that is. CO2 is not a pollutant but a gas of life.

    But please think a moment, if you are still capable of it. Why the need of bad science, lies and cheating? How a better world could come out of it?

    Fact is that wealthy advanced societies are better for the environment. Science and technology give (as simple numbers tell) better ways to fight the different forms of real pollution. In advanced societies air is cleaner, food is plentiful and people live longer and better.

    Do these calamitologist look for a better world for everybody or just trying to impose a political agenda? They are trying to empoverish the rich western society while keeping the poors just as poor or poorer, via a world governance and rejecting democracy (by their own words):

    http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/01/op-ed-climate-inaction-is-a-clear-failure-of-democracy/

  • Bill_Perdue

    When the question refers to the tragedies caused by people who vote for Democrat or Republicans the answer is no.

    Why should I?

    Now is the time when large numbers of people are waking up and understanding that their votes validate and support wars, union busting, attacks on the Bill of Rights.

  • 4th Turning

    From one Bill to another. You know by now I’ve grown accustom to your
    face, accustom to your smile-but for god’s sake man are you ever going
    to give it a rest? No sarcasm grenades please-meant heart-felt sincere.

  • 4th Turning

    Sadly, I suspect nader knows better than any of us how his footnote will read in
    future histories. Already his many accomplishments seem pretty much forgotten.

  • 4th Turning

    Goose bumps. Remembering my brief membership in the AFT. You would
    have cut quite a figure at our meetings tearing at your hair, slobbering
    over your words trying to motivate us ‘uns done here. This is definitely
    not an overtly confrontational part of the country except if you happen
    to mention background checks for gun show sales.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Shows how much YOU know! The Pentagon is obviously run by Commie-loving Progressives!!! I mean, duh!

  • ComradeRutherford

    “withered on the vice”

    Great name for a band…

  • ComradeRutherford

    So says the sociopath that glorifies a serial killer…

    BTW, we ‘leftists’ DO win the arguments all the time, you sociopaths pretend that we don’t. And pointing out that a Conservative is a racist does not make the one pointing it out racist too.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Conservative version:

    A mind is a terrible thing.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Who cares about tomorrow when shareholder value has to be increased TODAY!

  • ComradeRutherford

    I voted for Nader in 2000 to keep the Green Party on the ballot in NYC. My district went for Gore by 98%, so my vote for Nader had NO effect on the outcome of the election.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Yep! You have that right. The common value is the Power Behind The Throne, those that control the bureaucracy over decades no matter who the Acting President is.

  • ComradeRutherford

    For decades now, the Pentagon has been openly preparing for the hellscape the oil and coal barons are forcing on their own children.

    Free Market Capitalism says it’s more important to increase value for shareholders on the next quarterly earning report than for the work to continue to exist in the quarter after that.

  • Bill_Perdue

    There are no significant differences between the parties on the questions of wars of aggression using the strategies of genocide, mass murder and US sponsored terrorism. the degradation of the environment by promoting fracking, offshore drilling and Keystone, union busting and handouts to looter class swine (QE) and between their laws to destroy the Bill of Rights.

    Bush = Gore = Bush = Obama = McCain = Obama = Romney = Hillary Clinton Ad nauseam.

  • Bill_Perdue

    That’s the wrong approach. Nationalism and workers rights don’t mix. Workers here and in other countries need to organize and child labor has to be abolished.

  • 0.3E9m/s

    I hear that a lot but it doesn’t make any sense. What makes you think so?

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Oh good grief. What do you want? Permission to pollute the Earth? Go ahead. Your ilk are already polluting. Why should you change?

  • Heber Rizzo

    Oh yes?
    Show us just only one tiny empirical evidence of anthropogenic global warming in the climate system… but remember that correlation is not causation and that computer models do not constitute evidence.

    Work hard, because it could let you earn a Nobel prize, for there is none to the moment.

    And while at it, could you please explain the pause (no global warming for the last 17+ years and cooling since 2001 despite increasing levels of atmospheric CO2)? With facts, please, not unfounded wild ad-hoc speculations.

  • 4th Turning
  • MyrddinWilt

    Yeah, you got George W. Bush elected so he could start two wars and roll back environmental legislation at home.

    Nice going there.

  • Bill_Perdue

    labor notes and kc labor will send you e mails weekly

  • 0.3E9m/s

    We Greens offered you the most honest man in politics four times. But each time, you told us Tweedledum was slightly better than Tweedledee. Like Charlie Brown, who always thinks Lucy will hold the football this time, and always ends up on his backside. Do you think President Nader would sign off on the Keystone XL? (And do you think the man who was President of the Senate when NAFTA and GATT-Uruguay were ratified would hesitate on the Trans Pacific Partnership?) What’s it gonna take?

  • 4th Turning

    Have bookmarked. All 3 sites look interesting. Was hoping to sign on
    for alerts, etc. but none appear set up to provide committed bystander
    types like me with reg. update info.

  • Opinionated_Lady

    Wow! So glad you brought that up. Note also the concern over water scarcity when the pipeline would run through the biggest aquifer in the West and the Administration is approving extensive public lands for fracking and drilling. Oil companies are even now preparing to drill on the Atlantic Coast which will speed the demise of all the creatures of the ocean. I can only conclude that the staff at State recognizes the wrongness of all this activity, but the political appointees in charge are clueless or don’t care.

  • pappyvet

    Like I said the discipleship of ignorance

  • Dave of the Jungle

    Entirely wrong.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Thanks and good to know.

  • cole3244

    the right always rely on emotion rather than facts or intellect.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Seeing someone assume the online persona of a sociopathic serial killer as a pseudonymous identity kinda pisses me off. ;-) Well that, and his utter lack of citations or sources for his ridiculous claims.

  • cole3244

    you do anger well.

  • Bill_Perdue
  • 4th Turning

    I am reading “consensus” pretty in all these spot on comments.
    But in case I get hit by a 20 mph Amtrak Express this evening (and I have
    taken it from C. to LA) remember these last words when you get up in the
    morning: “business” as usual…

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Our infrastructure for mass transit is indeed lacking. I rode trains almost daily for over four months in Germany (and neighboring countries) and also in the Northeast. Plenty of people take the train from DC to NYC or NYC to Boston. (More would if it weren’t often cheaper to fly.) I also suspect that more people would take trains between say Cincinnati and Columbus if the same level of service existed there that exists in the northeast corridor. But once you get west of the Mississippi there are huge amounts of empty land between cities and for the most part the European landscape where everything is rather close together. (I also doubt many people opt for train service from Naples to Copenhagen over flying.)

    But you are right that there are European interests not much different from the Koch brothers and company. I guess we shouldn’t make excuses for the Europeans. The EU is slightly larger than the US and with roughly equivalent GDP. There’s no reason EU can’t lead on this issue if that were their intention. Perhaps America’s lack of leadership is just a convenient excuse.

  • 4th Turning

    Good stuff. Is there a bulletin board blog/website that posts news items,
    etc. so one does not need to go to each of the above separately?

  • 4th Turning

    Careful what you wish for… My gut sent me a tweet recently saying that awakening may
    arrive as early as tomorrow. Have been looking online for a “I told you so” tee shirt but
    vendors don’t seem to be there quite yet.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Occupy had few organic connections to working people in the union left. They withered on the vice because they lacked perspective and allies.

    The union left includes working class voters in Seattle who “sent a clear
    message to an out-of-touch political establishment on August 6 that they are fed up with business as usual, and are looking for an alternative to corporate-pandering politicians like Democrat Richard Conlin. Kshama Sawant, who was recently written off by The Seattle Times as “too hard left for Seattle”, won a stunning 35% of the vote, a number that will likely rise as late ballots are counted.
    http://links.org.au/node/3472

    The left, in the form or the union left, recently won victories in the postal
    workers union and the TWU.
    http://www.labornotes.org/2013/10/postal-workers-elect-new-leaders-who-pledge-build-movement

    The union left continues to make great progress in the

    ILWU International Longshore and Warehouse Union
    dockworkers – watch for new west coast strikes http://www.ilwu.org/

    Railroad Workers United
    http://railroadworkersunited.org/

    LaborNotes http://labornotes.org/magazine

    Chicago Teachers Union http://www.ctunet.com/ – the CTU
    successfully beat back scabs Obama and Emanuel

    Teamsters for a Democratic Union http://www.tdu.org/

    National Nurses United –
    http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/ – fastest growing union in the AFL-CIO

    United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of
    America
    http://www.ueunion.org/index.html

    In addition workers at big box stores like WalMart and in the fast food
    industry continue to organize and their efforts will transform the fight
    between the classes. http://www.ufcw.org/about/ufcw-history/retail-clerks/

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcrEqIpi6sg Moderator4

    The comment was deleted.
    There are certain words which are flagged on this site. The “r” word is one of them. Especially when used as a pejorative.
    This is also why your use of the word was slightly edited. You were only responding, but it still gets flagged.

  • 4th Turning

    Believe me, I get it. Where is the army of the righteous? Our once and future
    occupy wing seems to have opted for hot showers and gone out to the farmers’
    market.

  • Bill_Perdue

    That’s what opponents of the right wing Obama regime did for years. They claimed that his opponents on the left were somehow racist, ignoring the growing opposition to his policies among working people of color.

    Now that he’s an acknowledged failure they’re trying different spins. None of them will help.

  • Bill_Perdue

    This is a problem caused by both Democrats and Republicans. They’re the enemy.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The State Department is run by Democrats and Republicans whose goal is increase the profitability of US companies. In pursuit of that they condone economic chaos caused by FTAs, genocide in places like Vietnam and Iraq and massive degradation of an already fatally damaged environment.

    They and the other leaders of the regime are the enemy.

  • 4th Turning

    Listen, this is a one-in-a-million coincidence but although we’ve never met
    officially, I recognize your picture as someone from my neighborhood! And I am honestly terrified that a conscious human being capable of reading my shit and writing two educated sentences, would deliberately select a serial killer as his user name…Would engage with you in civil discussion the next time I see you but you’ve effectively killed that possibility.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    I am no stranger to criticizing America, but we can’t put it all on them/us. There are a ton of rich fat cats in Europe who got that way off of fossil fuels too. Look at Norway, for example. There are a ton of ways Europe could have put more pressure on the US in terms of climate change, but they haven’t because most of them would be disastrous for the global economy. Still,there are other ways to push the Americans and the Europeans are guilty.

    No one takes trains from Chicago to LA because we don’t have the infrastructure here. Regardless, cars and planes are really a drop in the bucket. What’s really killing our environment is meat and farming. Europeans are exactly just as guilty as Americans on that.

  • Bob Bingham

    There are multiple threats from climate change and many of them much worse than a straight increase in temperature. http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/climate-threats.html

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    On global warming? Mostly only better because gas is so much more expensive there and because cities are so much closer mass transit makes more sense. How many people would be willing to take a train from Chicago to LA? It would take days to get there. Also my sense from Europeans is that they are waiting for America to take the lead. I realize that if we did a lot of the world would follow, but it’s just not going to happen. Republicans won’t block anything and Democrats are too afraid of losing elections (and it’s a well-founded fear). Meanwhile you have people (see above) who think this is all a big conspiracy because Illuminati.

  • taikan

    In light of the State Department’s support for the Keystone XL pipeline project, it is hard to take seriously the author’s claim that the State Department previously had any interest in “prevention” of global climate change.

  • taikan

    I was not aware that the Generals and Admirals in the Pentagon who assist in preparing the Quadrennial Defense Review, which views global climate change as likely to cause significant security concerns for the United States, were “lefties” who are “retarded when it comes to global warming.”

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    In this case the “Elmer Gentrys” are just pawns being used by big business (especially oil). when they aren’t useful any more they’ll be tossed aside like the whore of Babylon. I suspect that day is coming soon when being associated with the Evangelicals will once again be a liability for anyone in public life.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    I love this! This is an American problem. Yes because Europe is slightly better. We’re all in this together and Europeans have been slightly less stubborn than Americans, and not always, they don’t deserve a pat on the back for their behavior.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Such a sensitive, sweet, smart guy to call us “retarded.” I also you’re calling us dumb and you are just making shit up. Just because you say there’s one poll showing scientists don’t believe it’s a threat, doesn’t make us believe it. We’re not conservative sheeple.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Assuming there’s one present in the first place. But hey, Mr. Zodiac is happy to make things up and smear them on the wall like some lunatic finger-painting with his own feces.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Says the guy who using as his anonymous avatar a serial killer’s composite drawing and the pseudonym the killer used to taunt police.

    You’re pathetic, dude. Truly, completely, irrevocably pathetic.

  • 2karmanot

    Next

  • Dave Bright

    The Dutch (or the early settlers of that area that eventually became The Netherlands) have spend the last 2000+ yrs “reacting” to the pain caused by constant flooding to eventually get to the level of “prevention” that you see today…I did not say it is impossible for humans to develop the prevention mindset (The Dutch are a good example), but that it is takes a lot of pain to get there…

  • cole3244

    if the state dept is preparing for the aftermath they are in for a rude awakening, the aftermath will be so catastrophic we will not be prepared for the enormity of the damage, you can put a band aid on a main artery but it will do no good.

    i just wish i could be here to see the looks on the faces of the deniers and the fools that believed their lies, the blame will turn violent and savage i am sure of that.

  • cole3244

    a mind is a terrible thing too waste.

  • mirror

    Yup. The self-replicating alliance between the energy industry and primitive Christians in the United States probably is the biggest block on the planet to slowing climate change. Are there any upper echelon Democratic politicians who have the guts to say what needs to be done, besides improving home insulation and energy efficient refrigerators? Amazing. Who would have thought Elmer Gantry would be our downfall.

  • Indigo

    That’s cute. Those Koch brothers are very generous to you disinformation trolls, could I get a job making up that sort of blather too?

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Not humans. Americans. Sorry but this is a specifically American problem. The Dutch have multiple redundant levies to prevent flooding. They have pretty bad storms over there and they are prepared for the inevitable. Compare that to the US where we have outdated infrastructure even in places where even worse storms are inevitable. It’s not surprising that something like Katrina happened. It’s amazing that it didn’t happen earlier. There could have been a better system in place to minimize the damage when it did. But we don’t deal with problems that are in the future in the US. We just deal with the much more expensive aftermath. We do this not just with natural disasters but with economic ones as well. Plenty of peoples were warning of imminent disaster from the mortgage nonsense of the mid 2000s. They were scoffed and dismissed (both internally in the major banks and in the financial media). There actually are countries where this isn’t the case. When Dresden flooded in 2002, there was a plan in place. They lost very few people because evacuation plans of both people and important works of art and other treasures were all moved to safe locations. All this in spite of the rarity of such flooding in that region. It was possible and therefore planned for. If only we weren’t so foolish as to scoff at any planning for the future. Instead we let our infrastructure crumble and then act surprised when a bridge collapses in Minnesota.

  • This is the Zodiac Speaking

    When you can’t win an argument call your opponents racist. That seems to be the common refrain from the American leftist in the year 2014.

  • This is the Zodiac Speaking

    You lefties are retarded when it comes to global warming. The “science” is tainted by bias, politics and money. Lots and lots of government money. There is no real consensus other than a handful of self-selected leftist college professors and government officials who won’t allow anyone who disagrees to participate. The IPCC is entirely tainted by politics. Actual SCIENTIFIC POLLING has been done of meteorologists and geo-scientists and there isn’t ONE POLL which shows even a majority of them believe that global warming is even a serious problem, much less a crisis. Go cry somewhere else. The only people who think global warming is a problem live in lefty-land.

  • Heber Rizzo

    But… “overwhelming scientific consensus” has no meaning in science. Consensus is a political word, not scientific. If AGW cojecture were to be a scientific theory it should offer not consensus but empirical evidence (which it has NONE) and a mean to be falsifiable, that is, to make numerical prediction to confront against reality (NONE either).
    So, AGW conjecture is just a bunch of GIGO models (that is, “Garbage In Garbage Out) based on political proyections of benefits and greed.

  • 4th Turning

    One more and I’ll shut up for now.

    “In February, Roy Greenslade reported that US conservative media outfit Breitbart News Network was expanding into the British media scene with the establishment of a London office. Heading up Breitbart’s new UK operations are executive editor James Delingpole and managing editor Raheem Kassam.

    The expansion – which Delingpole himself effectively concedes is about “pandering to readers’ prejudices” to maximise profits – reveals the worrying extent to which the forces behind climate denial and racism are one and the same: “American conservativism” of the “right-wing libertarianist” kind.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/apr/29/climate-denial-oil-addiction-xenophobia-neocons?CMP=EMCENVEML1631

  • 4th Turning

    Nope. It was the christian fundamentalists’ theology-god’s regular reoccurring nightmare
    annihilation of all life on this Good Earth on account of willful human species “disobedience”?
    The saved drive monster suvs to hasten the day awaiting momentary transport to heaven.

  • pappyvet

    ” Real action is probably unattainable.” Chris I think you just coined one for the tombstone.
    The discipleship of ignorance coupled with concentrated wealth and power has produced an ideology of doom that will affect every creature living on our planet. We have met the enemy and he is us.

  • 4th Turning

    tea party apparatchiks everyone-no sign so far of the koch cavalry swooping in to aid their devoted
    minions in yet another “natural” disaster-unless I missed that news item? Maybe it can be depended
    on to fund an opera house in pensacola or mobile after fema has once again cleaned up the devastation.

    “Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi leaving about 35 dead and damaging houses, vehicles and roads. Those states, along with Florida, will be seeking federal aid. In Washington, the Mississippi congressional delegation formally backed its state’s bid for federal aid on Wednesday.”

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-floods-pensacola-florida-alabama-20140430,0,3429497.story#ixzz30ZirUXU2

  • Indigo

    Preventing another Hurricane Katrina is off the table but dealing with the event and the aftermath . . . oh, wait, that was off the table before the hurricane even struck. We’re in trouble because increasingly expensive clean-ups are increasingly unlikely to be particularly thorough.

    Very minor case in point: the church across the street from my apartment complex has a very small steeple on a very large building because Hurricane Charlie blew the impressive steeple away and insurance and donations were not able to cover the cost of a replacement steeple. Now why a church has to have a steeple is not something I’m qualified to explain but the fact is the church was so determined that a steeple is a necessary part of the architecture of their building that they now sport a tiny, affordable steeple on their great big building.

    And there you have the pattern of response to disaster in a nutshell. Multiply that by the potential destruction and make-do repairs likely for the rest of this decade alone and you’ve already got a thoroughly changed community.

  • zerosumgame0005

    This has been the point all along. It DOES NOT FUCKING matter really if humans “caused” it or simply(HA!) pushed it on faster and/or harder then it could have been. We need to be aware of it and stop pretending it makes no difference. Were we due for another age of glaciation in the next 1,000 years or so? Most likely, but now is it going to swing the other way? Or will temps spike then once we are reduced from an industrial “civilization” back to hunter gatherers for a time and then die out (except for the Morlocks in their underground bunkers built by the super “rich”) will everything re-set in a few million years and glaciers once again cover much of the Earth?

  • Dave Bright

    In general, my experience is that humans have a huge problem internalizing a “prevention” mindset. Unfortunately, things will have to get significantly more tangible (i.e. painful) in order to reach a “reaction” tipping point. A 2C increase is a done deal. All we can hope for now is that we get to that tipping point before its too late to prevent 3C.

  • blogmob

    this is disturbing and expected. and scary. this is at least partly what is behind the increasing surveillance and police state-ness of our country. and, the consequences when the people at large finally see what’s coming (or more likely, since we’re slow and stupid as a whole, what’s happening when the shortages and floods and droughts are upon us) are terrifying. at least, the government is working to legalize pot so that we will be a little more mellowed out during the disaster!

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