I found this headline and photo yesterday and cringed.
Sandy Survivors to Obama: Our Power is Out, But You Have the Power to Stop Climate Change
Do these protestors truly believe Obama can in less than 4 years stop hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes, single-handedly? He can’t even get their lights on. (Of course, having no lights and heat could help climate change, if Obama had not hopped on Air Force One shortly after promising action and gone on the campaign trail…..)
This is a truly frightening direction. No climate change scientist says we can stop hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards. Cooling may decrease the frequency or intensity of these weather phenomena, but there are only probability calculations concerning how much effect CO2 decrease will have on the planet.
As an aside, on WtD, there was a writeup on more frequent blizzards in the Midwest and Northeast. There was NO mention of the west or northwest. Right now, the winters in Wyoming have become much less snowy and the summers very dry. There is NO extreme weather of any kind. Why leave out half the country in the data?
Returning to the disturbing headline and photo. I sincerely hope these individuals are prepared to be disappointed, not to mention to be flooded and snowed on many, many more times in the future. Even if we stopped fossil fuel usage tomorrow (which would cause worldwide war) the climate will not snap back immediately. Climate scientists talk of carbon dioxide “half-life”, meaning CO2 in the air takes time to clear out. Also, to maintain any kind of industrial society with even a moderate decrease in CO2 would require the use of nuclear power, something the protestors would be back picketing also.
Climate change has become a cause that is destined to fail with this sensationalism. Let’s say we do cut emissions. If the next ten years, the blizzards and storms still increase (for whatever reason) there will be questions. The claim can be made that more time is required for the climate to return to “normal”. However, if cutting emissions was accomplished through unreliable electricity (or cost-prohibitive), reduced driving, higher unemployment, and other sacrifices, the public may be very unhappy with the lack of results. This will damage the public’s confidence in science. Science demanded change, changes were made, and the results were nil. People are not very patient these days.
The way climate change has been presented, the disaster is imminent and we must change. If we change and the bad things still happen, the public blames science. One can only spin things so far–”believers” expect miracles. Shut down CO2, the storms go away, we still have lights, cars, industry—there’s just no way to deliver all of that.
Magical thinking—encouraging it is always a mistake. If science doesn’t make clear there is no magic, it risks losing credibility permanently.