by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week
The Toronto Star has an article that discusses the impacts of the warm winter:
Thanks to the unseasonably warm winter, the city has saved $10 million to $12 million in snow removal costs (a number that could rise to $15 million if we don’t get any more snow). Heating bills were down about 20 per cent. Flu rates and car accidents dropped, too.
Of course, it’s hard to measure the intangible feeling of drinking beer on a sun-filled patio or walking your dog in a T-shirt in mid-March. For most, it’s sheer delight with a touch of “what the heck is going on here?” loitering in the background.
But experts caution it’s not all early blossoms and ultimate Frisbee. There are consequences, too — some unforeseen.
The Midwest has already seen an early and deadly start to tornado season. There are drought worries, too.
Windsor has already had a tornado warning. On Tuesday, Hamilton issued a smog alert, the earliest in the season since 2005.
“When the temperature gets much warmer things get out of sync in the natural system,” said Gord Miller, Ontario’s environmental commissioner.
For one, trees budded before the run for maple syrup really ever started. Producers are reporting two-thirds less than usual, a dismal season.
And because there were no frigid winter months to kill off pests like wasps, black flies and pine beetles, brace yourself for an insect-filled summer. The cold kills fungus, too.
Most forecasters bombed their winter forecast for the U.S. The Chicago Tribune has this article entitled: Accuweather offers explanation for wildly inaccurate winter forecast. Subtitle: Japanese tsunami weather debris may be causing mild temperatures, meteorologist says.
Keith Kloor has an article at Yale Climate Media Forum entitled The winter that never was. Excerpts:
As the Los Angeles Times notes in its report on the survey, “the nasty winters of 2009 and 2010 “seemed to indicate to a lot of people — rightly or wrongly — that they weren’t feeling any increase of temperatures. That helped drive down belief in climate change. But 2011 was a super-hot year, bad drought, with record-breaking precipitation in the Northeast, lots of weird weather. Public opinion? Must be climate change.”
In truth, as the LA Times story observes, “This shows how fickle public opinion can be.”
Ironically, this latest swing in the pendulum of public attitudes comes just as Beltway activists, according toPolitico, seek to turn the focus away from climate change to “kitchen table issues.” The article discusses upcoming ad campaigns by environmental groups that will emphasize economic and public health concerns.Politico notes: “So melting glaciers are giving way to smog-induced asthma. And fuel-efficiency is now a matter of pump prices, not pollutants.”
All this goes to show: If there’s one constant in the climate sphere, it’s the lurching nature of public opinion on climate change, and the lurching campaigns of those who try to lasso the fickle public on to their side.
Green groups embrace climate pragmatism
Matt Nisbet has an article Green Groups Rebrand Global Warming Around Public Health. Excerpts:
Following the demise of cap and trade legislation, green group leaders acknowledged that despite spending several hundred million dollars to pass the bill, they were unable to create public demand for action in key Midwest Congressional districts and states.
“The community that tried to move a climate bill fundamentally lacks political power and doesn’t have the ability to either deliver punishment or reward to members of Congress who don’t vote for us,” Kathleen Welch, a Washington-based philanthropy adviser told Politico in 2011. Her admission was echoed in statements by Fred Krupp, Bill McKibben and others.
Now, as Politico reports today, it appears that green groups led by the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club are seeking to address this weakness. “We’re going to talk a lot about the health implications of dirty air,” Heather Taylor, director of NRDC’s political arm told Politico. “I think that the Midwest is one of those places where [there are] a million great clean energy stories, especially. And they’re not being told right now, because we’ve tended to be in other markets. That’s an area where we feel like it’s time to go tell those stories.”
The saga of Michael Mann as a lightning rod in the climate change debate continues.
The Daily Kos has an article titled Michael Mann is a Modern Hero and we need to acknowledge that. Accompanying the article is a readers’ poll:
|did not choose to became a symbol|
|has been attacked in many of the same ways that the President and John Kerry were|
|Is an outstanding scientist and human being|
|all of the above|
|is distorting evidence to prove his point|
|should be fired from the university|
Not sure who made up this poll, possibly the same person that wrote the poll for the Scientific American, polling to see whether Curry was a dupe or a peacemaker.