Friday, June 6, 2014

Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 32

The El Niño Phenomenon Approaches
Ah, Friday, so let's do some rebel science.

Let's do some science that is in-your-face towards a bureaucracy that is not serving the public as it should be.

There is a growing awareness that governments of current civilization will fail at their attempts to take green house gas reduction seriously enough to implement meaningful remedial action to stop the damage being done to The Damaged Global Climate System.

So, today we will take a look at the current state of damage, recent responses to that damage by government and private entities, and the prospective results of those remedial actions.

But first, note that a recent piece indicates that the cost of damage done by climate disasters has increased 400 percent:
The average annual cost of natural disasters has quadrupled over the last three decades and it makes economic sense to boost spending on preparedness to ensure a stable future, a senior European official said Thursday.

Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response, told a conference on disaster risk reduction and management of the Asia-Europe Meeting that costs related to natural disasters have increased from $50 billion a year in the 1980s to $200 billion in the last decade. In three of the last four years, costs exceeded $200 billion.
About 200 participants from 49 countries and organizations have gathered in Manila to discuss ways to increase countries' disaster resilience. Officials from the Philippines offered lessons learned from Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated central provinces in November and killed more than 6,000 people. It's the strongest recorded typhoon to hit land.
(Disaster Costs Have Quadrupled, emphasis added). The financial situation impacts our wallets already.

A climate issue facing us right now is the pending development of the El Niño phenomenon in the equatorial area of the Pacific Ocean:
The chances of an El Niño, the global climate phenomenon that can destroy crops in Asia and offer a relief from harsh winters in North America, were raised to 70% on Thursday. But scientists said the coming El Niño was likely to be of only moderate strength.

In their monthly forecast, scientists from the US government's Climate Prediction Centre said warming sea temperatures in the Pacific continued to create the conditions for an El Niño this summer.

“The chance of El Niño is 70% during the northern hemisphere summer and reaches 80% during the fall and winter,” the centre said. Its ultimate strength had weakened over the last month. “Regardless, the forecasters remain just as confident that El Niño is likely to emerge,” the forecast said.

There has been growing anticipation of an El Niño this year – because of its widespread impacts.

In California, there has been hope that a strong El Niño could be a drought buster. The phenomenon is known for bringing wetter winters to Texas and southern California. They are also good news for Florida and the Caribbean, damping down the hurricane season in the Atlantic.

But El Niños can wreak havoc on fisheries in South America, and worsen droughts in part of Asia, Africa, and Australia.

That type of El Niño, with widespread global impact, has yet to fully materialise, the scientists said. While warmer sea temperatures in the Pacific were building conditions for an El Niño, the scientists said they were still not seeing the inter-action with atmosphere they would expect for a really big event.
(El Niño Chances Increasing). One wonders what "a really big event" would be if 6,000 deaths a few months ago is not really big, and if the quadrupling of damage costs is not a really big thing either.

The long and the short of it is that predictions have been continually underestimating the damage, while expectations that "we can handle it" have continually been overestimated.

What this means, among other things, is that there is an element of surprise that always shows up, and the surprise element is operating in a scenario where things are constantly getting more dire.

Part of this policy failure is due to the fact that acceleration of damage is not being given the consideration it should be given, and feedback mechanisms are not properly factored in either.

It is true that the Obama "yes we can" optimism did lead to an EPA regulation regimen, that is, better regulations on coal fired power plant emissions.

But it was a regime of a 30% overall reduction of dirty coal-fired power plant greenhouse gas, and other emissions, by 2030.

Which is anemic, pathetic, and guaranteed to continue the increase in disasters, and the cost of disaster responses.

Pessimism as we will discuss in a moment is a word that in the context of today's post merely means "realistic," while pie-in-the-sky "yes we can" business-as-usual optimism in this context actually means "demented" (When Surrender Means Not Giving Up: The New Sacred Activism).

There will be no improvement without immediate and intensive government remedial actions, which as I said before, governments are resisting.

Meanwhile, the uncertainties of the developing El Niño phenomenon will impact the besieged Arctic in various ways:
Local weather, particularly extreme local weather, is often determined by fluctuations in large patterns of regional atmospheric pressure and sea surface temperatures, such as the Arctic Oscillation (and its close relative, the North Atlantic Oscillation) and other patterns associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). These recognizable patterns come and go over a period of months to years. And these patterns may be altered by global warming.

Circulation variations, such as the ones associated with ENSO, largely determine where stormy, wet weather is favored and where dry weather prevails. In regions where the effects of these circulation variations are similar to global warming effects, new extremes are observed. While ENSO and other sources of natural variability can determine the location of extremes,1 the intensity and duration of the associated extremes such as droughts, and the associated heat waves, have increased with climate change. Similarly, in the wet areas, the intensity of rains and risk of flooding is greater.

Regional circulation patterns have significantly changed in recent years.2 For example, changes in the Arctic Oscillation cannot be explained by natural variation and it has been suggested that they are broadly consistent with the expected influence of human-induced climate change.3 The signature of global warming has also been identified in recent changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a pattern of variability in sea surface temperatures in the northern Pacific Ocean.

El Niños have become more common and their intensity has nearly doubled in recent years, a statistically rare event. This recent shift towards more intense and frequent El Niños is related to the recent increase in dry areas around the world. However, past observations and reconstructions of El Niño events from non-instrumental records such as corals show that El Niño events naturally fluctuate in magnitude and frequency over time, and this has been demonstrated in long climate model simulations of past and future climate as well.
(Arctic Impact). The element of surprise events is a real potential, because the damaged global climate system will continue to do unexpected gyrations as damage to it increases.

Surprise events will not be limited to the Arctic, no, the Antarctic is also affected (Antarctic Impact) and could also see surprise events.

This comes at a time when some butterflies and bees are very endangered, about 200 species a day go extinct, and associated surprises are taking place (e.g. Sea Star Disintegration).

The greatest reaction from government officials, who certainly know that disruption and upheaval are coming, is to spy on the citizens now as they prepare to triage them in detention camps in the future (Vodafone "Secret Wires", Silicon Valley Protests, Military Internment Camps).

Video discussion (Coates & Klein) (mild):
Civilization will fail at remedial Climate Change action ...

A detailed, hard-core human extinction appraisal by a scientist in a paper, and another in a video:


  1. The graves of 26 soldiers are washing away as sea levels rise on an Island: link

  2. This 30 minute vid with Thom Hartmann and Guy McPherson is time well spent, albeit mind numbing in its implications.