- The notion that it and the flooding and destruction was caused by climate change, that it's a binary situation and this, or something very much like it, wouldn't have happened if climate change wasn't occurring. Andrew Revkin put it well on Science Friday yesterday, and it's worth a listen.
- The situation we're now in where every extreme weather event being somehow due to climate change. They are not -- hurricanes, floods, and fires have happened through history, some of them devastating. (Even drowned animals -- see below).
Hurricane Sandy (October 2012):
Politico: "'This is an absolutely unprecedented storm,' McKibben said."
Hurricane Isaac (August 2012):
Climate Progress: "Hurricane Isaac Caps Off America’s Summer of Extreme Weather"
Colorado Wildfires (June 2012):
Brad Johnson, Think Progress: June 2012: "Obama announces an “all-hands-on-deck” response in his weekly address to the nation from Colorado Springs, after visiting the devastating wildfires, but does not mention the role climate change had in fueling the fires, including higher temperatures, more intense drought, and bark beetle infestations."
Minnesota Flooding (June 2012):
Steve Perlberg, Think Progress: "Western wildfires, record-setting temperatures, devastating floods, and other extreme weather made more extreme by global warming have welcomed us to summer 2012..... Zoo Animals Drowned in Minnesota Floods"
Hurricane Irene (August 2011):
The Daily Beast: "Hurricane Irene’s dangerous power can be traced to global warming says Bill McKibben—and Obama is at fault for his failed leadership on the environment."
Hurricane Earl (Aug-Sept 2010):
Associated Press: "Warm water, especially more than 80 degrees, fuels hurricanes. As a storm heads north, usually the water is cooler and the hurricane quickly runs out of steam. But not this time.... With global warming, water is likely to be warmer farther north than it is was [sic] for the past century,” Borenstein adds."
New England Flooding (April 2010):
Brad Johnson, Think Progress: "Global Boiling Is Washing Away The Northeast With Wild Wet Weather" (emphasis mine)
Hurricane Ike (September 2008):
Brad Johnson, Think Progress: "Global Boiling: Hurricane Ike Part Of New Era Of More Destructive Storms"
One could, of course, easily go on. And some have. (To be fair, some have not.)
Last night I started reading the novel Earth by David Brin. In a section written as a book excerpt from the year 2035, he wrote,
In ages past, men and women kept foretelling the End of the World. Calamity seemed never farther than the next earthquake or failed harvest. And each dire happening, from tempest to barbarian invasion, was explained as wrathful punishment from Heaven.I am not saying climate change will come to be seen as obsolete and trivial. Just the opposite -- it's a potential calamity of a unique order, though we're in the beginning of it -- it's the projections which are scary, which is why so many scientists are so deeply concerned about it in a different sense than any previous threat (even nuclear war -- that would be a decision based on political and diplomatic failures; climate change is due simply to how we live). But it can become an hysteria too, while now might be happening, thanks to pushy activists like those above who are using it for their particular purposes. Even though many of them no doubt think we should be getting hysterical, blaming everything on climate change is as misleading as ignoring or denying it completely. More importantly, it's ineffective, not least because it ruins your credibility. But clearly some activists have calculated that their PR message is worth the risk to their trustworthiness.
Eventually, humanity began accepting more of the credit, or blame, for impending Armageddon. Between the World Wars, for instance, novelists prophesied annihilation by poison gas. Later it was assumed we'd blow ourselves to hell with nuclear weapons. Horrible new diseases and other biological scourges terrified populations during the Helvetian struggle. And between wars, of course, our burgeoning human population fostered countless dread specters of mass starvation.
Apocalypses, apparently, are subject to fashion like everything else. What terrifies one generation can seem obsolete and trivial to the next.