Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More on climate change

Insurance is one of those businesses that grew out of the communitarian impulse.  The fact that modern insurance companies are down and dirty with credit default swaps and other fraudulent or near-fraudulent schemes is more of function of the zeitgeist than an institutional preference or necessity.  Perhaps the most interesting manifestation of insurance's communitarian roots is that they have been astonishingly good at focusing societies on the reality of climate change.

And why not?  After all, they are merely acting on the numbers they are generating in the course of doing business.  This is why the insurance guys are MUCH better at describing the problems produced by a changing climate (which is usually just an accounting of their costs) than they are at suggesting solutions (which is most cases is just more Leisure Class horseshit.)

INSURANCE INDUSTRY: Trust Us, Global Warming Is Real
Gus Lubin | 5 MAR 12 |

Insurance industry leaders went before Congress on Friday to ask for increased federal support for the costs of destructive global warming.

From their perspective, there is no question whether or not climate change is real.

Here are some quotes posted by Insurance Networking News:

“From our industry’s perspective, the footprints of climate change are around us and the trend of increasing damage to property and threat to lives is clear,” said Franklin Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America.

Cynthia McHale, the insurance program director at Ceres, issued a more unequivocal statement: “Our climate is changing, human activity is helping to drive the change, and the costs of these extreme weather events are going to keep ballooning unless we break through our political paralysis, and bring down emissions that are warming our planet. If we continue on this path, extreme weather is certain to cause more homes and businesses to be uninsurable in the private insurance market, leaving the costs to taxpayers or individuals.”

Last year saw a record 14 natural disasters causing more than $1 billion in damage each. more
That nothing winter we just had here in Minnesota?  NOAA has just assigned a number of 114 to it.  Whatever—our furnace barely ran.
MAP OF THE DAY: January 2012 Was Incredibly Warm
Dina Spector | Feb. 10, 2012

In stark contrast to Europe, where a brutal deep freeze that began in late January has killed hundreds, the continuous United States experienced warmer-than-average conditions during the first month of the year.

According to NOAA, January 2012 was the fourth warmest January on record—and the warmest since 2006—with an average temperature 3.8 degrees F above average. The average temperature was 36.3 degrees F in the contiguous U.S.

No states experienced cooler than average temperatures and nine states recorded January temperatures among their tenth warmest. more

See Also: 15 Irrefutable Signs That Climate Change Is Real
The following article contains the sort of speculation I could do without.  I live in a state where people talk about the weather all the time because as Garrison Keillor points out, Mother Nature will try to actually kill you at least once a year.  The Minneapolis / St. Paul television market employs trained meteorologists with station-owned doppler radar equipment and serious air time.  I grew up in a home that had a barometer for many years before we had a television.  For a lifetime serious weather-watcher like me, the evidence that the climate has changed is so obvious and overwhelming, I literally cannot comprehend what raging foolishness goes on in the mind of a denier.

But just so we do not descend to the levels of the denialists, we must avoid talking about climate change and then get into the business of weather forecasting.  Climate change is about adding energy into a closed system.  That we know is happening.  That we can measure with astonishing precision.  How all that extra energy will play out in weather patterns—that is mostly speculation.  As the evidence continues to roll in, the speculation will become more accurate.  For example, when a Force 4 Tornado shows up in early march in Indiana, I think that is exactly the sort of evidence of more energy in the system that demonstrates the science of climate change.

But whether climate change will end street hockey in Canada?  That is one of those predictions that has a good chance of being wrong. After all, folks were talking about the end of snow when the 2010 Olympics in British Columbia were such a flop.  And then there was last winter when we had record cold and snow.  And while we were basking in our nothing winter this year, parts of Eastern Europe were blasted by a killer cold.  So let's not confuse climate and weather.
Climate change could make Canada's traditional street hockey extinct

Milder winters with shorter ice season and unfrozen lakes could render much loved winter sport unplayable, study claims

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
The Guardian, Sunday 4 March 2012

A quintessentially Canadian winter tradition – outdoor street hockey – could be facing extinction within decades because of climate change, a new study says.

Pick-up games of street hockey, also called shinny or pond hockey, are a way of life during the long winters. Many towns are studded with neighbourhood ice rinks, some families even freeze over their backyards. Ottawa has the Rideau Canal, the 5-mile skate run through the nation's capital. But such pursuits are in peril as milder winters and earlier springs pare down the outdoor ice season.

The ice season has shortened noticeably over the last 50 years, especially in southern British Columbia and Alberta and parts of the prairie provinces, the study in the Institute of Physics' journal, Environmental Research Letters, says.

Temperatures are not staying low enough long enough to allow ice to freeze over.

By mid-century, it may no longer be possible to play ice hockey or skate on outdoor rinks without artificial intervention. "If you draw a straight line into the future you get zero rink-flooding days by mid-century which implies that at some point in that period you can't build a rink because it is not getting cold enough," said Damon Matthews, a geographer at Concordia University and author of the study.

That prospect might even be enough to alarm the prime minister, Stephen Harper, who has come under growing criticism in the international community and at home for reneging on Canada's commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and for his aggressive promotion of the Alberta tar sands, which have a heavier carbon imprint than traditional crude.  more 

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