We have had basically no rain this season and it isn’t looking like there will be much rain in the near future. But today, and today only, it is raining!
This is, folks, my biggest worry about global warming. Rising temperatures should cause more rain. And indeed, the models all predict more rain. It is just that it mostly falls over the ocean where it doesn’t really help us. In graduate school, I worked with a guy who did great (really meticulous) work correlating temperature and rainfall for the United States. The results were that the United States is going to become a much drier place. As a result, food production (especially things like wheat and corn) will be pushed north. And if you really think that this couldn’t one day end up in a war between the United States and Canada, then you are naive and probably don’t read this blog anyway.
In general, I don’t talk about this issue to people because what’s happening this year doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But I am definitely worried. And what all this means to the natural environment is totally unknown. Animals can migrate. So can plants, but they do it really slowly—far too slowly to deal with what we have going on. The earth will muddle through the whole thing, but it could still be a catastrophe. Meanwhile, conservatives are unwilling to do any kind of a risk analysis. Two years ago this month, I wrote, A Really Big Problem. I asked a question:
That’s what I just don’t get. Conservatives act like it is absolutely impossible that this is happening. Clearly there is enough evidence that it deserves that we invest some resources into countering it. But actually, there are three stages of global warming denial:
- There is no global warming!
- There is global warming, but humans aren’t the cause!
- Humans are causing global warming, but there is nothing we can do about it!
There are people in all of the categories. I get really annoyed at the people at stage one. These are the people who claim that it is all a hoax. And why is it a hoax? Why would all those scientists lie? Because of all the money! ExxonMobile made $41 billion in 2011, but it is some climate scientist with his $50,000 a year job who is lying because of the money. And note: if a climate scientist found results that countered the prevailing theories, he would not only get a lot of money, he would become famous. That’s how science works!
The people at stage two are making a better argument. The climate system is complicated and correlation is not causation. Of course, the case for anthropogenic global warming is a lot more than that. But mostly people at stage two talk about the sunspot cycle and wave their hands around a lot. The terrible thing is that solar forcing is the first thing that goes into the models. And a complete accounting of solar changes has been included in the models for the last two decades. So these people really have nothing to back up their claims other than their desire to believe.
The stage three people anger me the most. These are the exact same people who claim that we must balance the federal government budget today because we are destroying our children’s future. Well, economically, that turns out not to even be true. But they make that inter-generational argument. However, we can’t do anything to hurt profits today even though it will have negative effects on future generations and it may well have catastrophic effects. It is simply untrue that we can’t do anything about global warming. It is true that doing something about it may be expensive. But that’s very different from having no options. These are the worst kind of people: they don’t give a damn about the kids but they are more than willing to use them to further their political agendas.
But like I said, it is raining today. And I love the rain. So here is one of my favorite singers Irma Thomas singing the hell out of “It’s Raining” by another Louisiana legend Allen Toussaint: