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Hullabaloo


Sunday, February 16, 2014

 
Debating what's happening before your eyes

by digby

I just heard a "debate"between mayors on TV about the climate change. Here's an excerpt, featuring a climatologist named Heidi Cullen, Governor McCrory of North Carolina and Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles:
GARCETTI: This was the driest year on record. But, you know, it's coming at an immense cost, whether it's wildfires, whether it's changing how we get water. But governors and mayors, you know, we don't have the luxury of debating the issue. I think it's clear human beings have had an impact on creating the problem, but we have to solve it now.

We're dealing with that in Los Angeles, because we've done some common sense things out here to conserve water, change out our landscaping, strengthen our building codes. But it's not a question anymore about this happening every so often, we're expecting this to be the new status quo.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're getting to the question of why.

Let me bring that to Heidi Cullen right here.

And Heidi, first of all, one of the big points you make is that all extreme weather is connect -- the drought in the west connected to the blizzards in the east.

HEIDI CULLEN, CLIMATOLOGIST: Yeah, well Ginger did a great job setting it up. The cold that we're seeing here is very much connected to this broader pattern. And really when you put it into context, climate change, burning fossil fuels means that we're going to see more of these very expensive extreme weather events, specifically the kinds of extremes we can expect -- more heat waves, droughts, floods. We're already seeing those.

You know, this winter certainly doesn't disprove global warming. I think it's one of these things where every time we have a really cold winter we begin to ask ourselves all over again, so is global warming real or not. Cold winter doesn't mean global warming is gone.

And really, when you look at the big picture, we've actually globally been incredibly warm. January is probably going to come in as one of the top three warmest Januaries on record. And, you know, the 10 warmest years have all happened since 1988.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But your big point is that on these intense weather systems they're made more intense by climate change.

CULLEN: That's right. I mean, basically when you warm up the planet, you've got more moisture in the atmosphere, which means that when it rains it rains heavier. And you can also evaporate more, so that means that the tendency for drought is going to get worse.

So the kinds of droughts that we've been seeing in Texas, our in California right now, we know that climate change makes them worse.

It's actually very similar to cigarette smoking and lung cancer, it increases the likelihood of that risk. We've already looked at the Texas drought in 2011. We know that climate change made that drought 20 times more likely.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor McCrory, do you accept that argument? In the past you've said that you believe that this whole issue of climate change is in god's hands.

MCCRORY: Well, I believe there is climate change. I'm not sure you can call it climate warming any more, especially here in the Carolinas.

I think the big debate is how much of it is man-made and how much will just naturally happen, as the Earth evolves. And the question then is what do we do about it, and how much it will cost the consumer.

I concentrate on cleaning the environment. I think that's where our argument should be, cleaning our air, cleaning our water and cleaning the ground. And we're at a brown fields area which we're in right now in Charlotte where we cleaned up the ground right here and cleaned up old brown fields and now we have great new development.

But the whole issue of cleaning the environment I think is the issue we ought to talk about more than getting to a debate from the left and the right about climate change or global warming. It's all about cleaning our environment and have a good quality of life for not only now, but for future generations.

Uhm, no. There is no debate and "cleaning the water and the ground" is not going to solve this problem. I'm sure it's a good thing to persuade the neanderthals that not polluting the water is necessary. In fact, we settled that whole debate about 40 years ago. Under Richard Nixon. But it's simply not good enough to say that anymore. Until leaders accept their responsibility to tell the people the truth about this we're just going to watch it happen. And it's scarier than hell. In fact, here in the west we're already burning up.


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