Getting Serious About Climate Change

This is the greatest crisis facing us as a species. The petty partisanship of American politics means nothing when you look around the world at the natural disasters precipitated by global climate change: floodings, water levels rising,

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This is the greatest crisis facing us as a species. The petty partisanship of American politics means nothing when you look around the world at the natural disasters precipitated by global climate change: floodings, water levels rising, drought, famine. It should not be up for debate; the evidence is all around us.

Among lay Americans, I'm not particularly surprised that the words "weather" and "climate" are conflated (similar to the scientific and lay definitions of "theory"), making it easy for interested parties in mocking and/or dismissing climate change. But I was shocked to find that fewer meteorologists actually believe in climate change than most Americans.

Weather models are usually only accurate in predicting five- or seven-day forecasts—if that. A common belief of broadcasters is that climate models are just as fallible.

"The forecasters live in the real world. They know models in general, and they know these models don't even get tomorrow right," says Joseph D'Aleo, a well-known climate skeptic and the first director of meteorology at The Weather Channel. "They aren't going to trust them to be right about what is going to happen in 2100." Polls show that a vast majority of weathercasters, about 75 percent, distrust models of climate change.

But Dixon says that mistrust isn't warranted.

He explains that climate scientists crunch different data that plays a large role in determining long-term climate variability, such as the movement of heat within the oceans or the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface. "We're making projections about the overall climate," Dixon says, and that bigger-picture data is what makes long-term predictions so accurate. Plug in current wind speed into those models, he suggests, and the accuracy plummets. "It's a bit disappointing that this confusion over the models still exists."

To say the least, it's disappointing. But as 350.org's Bill McKibben points out, there is no more time to merely point out the peril, we must point to answers. And one of the first ways to address the problem is to turn up the heat (pun intended) on the biggest violators:

One, the Republican leadership will follow the day that the fossil fuel industry, that the Koch brothers and others feel the heat and that’s where we need to turn most of the heat.

Second, we can figure how to turn some of that political heat on. One of the things we’re doing at 350.org this summer is a big campaign against the fossil fuel subsidies that the federal government pays out. It turns out that 80 percent of Americans, Republican and Democrat and Independent, across the board, think it’s a poor idea to be giving federal money to the biggest, richest industry on the planet. Even without climate change, it’s obnoxious that we’re paying them a performance bonus to wreck the planet. That is a campaign that can begin to do some of this damage we need to do.

But what a revolutionary moment on cable news to have a discussion on climate change that doesn't include the "balance" of a denier. To have intelligent discourse that acknowledges this *is* a problem.

Hayes' open to his show may have been one of the best:

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About Nicole Belle

Nicole Belle's picture
Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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