North Atlantic Ramping up to ‘Storms of My Grandchildren’ to set off Major Flood Event for Tempest-Tossed England?

Storms Reshape England's Coastline

(Storms Reshape England’s Coastline during Winter of 2013-2014. Image source: AGU)

Under the ongoing insults of human-caused climate change, the North Atlantic is ground zero for the potential development of the worst storms humankind has ever experienced. And indications are that the ramping up to this dangerous time may well be starting now.

The temperature related weather instabilities between the warming North Atlantic, the melting but still frigid ice packs of Greenland, the retreating polar sea ice, a continental North America enduring a series of polar vortex collapse events flushing cold air south as the Arctic experiences its warmest readings in an age, and an interior Europe and Asia that are also experiencing mass migrations of cold air fleeing the ever-warmer Arctic are just screaming.

A bite of warm air and related warm ocean water has flooded a large region between Scandinavia, Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya, making its home where winter sea ice once resided. The waters near Greenland are now melt-cooled by the 500 gigatons of average annual glacial outflow occurring there. And the never-ending influx and concentration of heat in the Arctic has set the Jet Stream into a fit of wild loops and whirls.

All these changes result in a high degree of weather instability, in a setting off of extreme weather events, of great switches from cool, to extreme hot, from record drought to record deluge. In the past few years we’ve seen these kinds of extreme weather events occur with increasing frequency. But now, a new kind of extreme event is beginning to emerge, a kind of event that may well be prelude to ‘The Storms of My Grandchildren’ Dr James Hansen alluded to in his prescient book examining the ultimate consequences of an ongoing and devastating human greenhouse gas emission.

The Breeder of Storms: Our Warming-Ravaged North Atlantic

Ever since winter began to settle in, and the extreme effects of Northern Hemisphere temperature imbalance and Jet Stream changes began to take hold, the North Atlantic has become a breeder of extraordinarily powerful storms. According to reports from NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center, the month of December alone featured 14 instances of hurricane wind events, 10 storms that experienced rapid intensification, and 5 storms that featured pressures of 950 mb or lower.

For comparison, a tropical storm that hits 950 mb is usually a category 5 hurricane. And for any ocean basin to show 14 instances of hurricane force winds let alone 5 950 mb and below storms over a one month period is extraordinary indeed. Imagine if the south Atlantic generated 10 hurricanes 5 of which were cat 5 in just one month and then you get a general comparison.

Two of these storms were particularly intense with one reaching 940 mb and another deepening to an exceptionally low 929 mb (the lowest reading ever recorded for the North Atlantic was 916 mb). By comparison, the freakish monster that was Hurricane Sandy bottomed out at 940 mb.

It is worth noting that the storms of the North Atlantic typically spread their energy out over larger areas than a tropical system. So though pressures are low enough to be comparible with the most intense tropical storms, the winds generated typically ranged from 75 to 100 mph while extending outward over hundreds of miles. By comparison, a typical tropical cyclone would have a very intense wind field within 20 to 100 miles of its center with intensity rapidly falling off beyond this zone.

Overall, the North Atlantic sees very few storms of 940 mb or lower, usually at the average rate of less than one every year. So for two to occur in the same month is exceptional indeed.

929 mb low raking the coast of England on Christmas Eve

(929 mb low rakes England with hurricane force winds on Christmas Eve, 2013. Image source: Lance-Modis.)

January also featured an almost endless cavalcade of intense storms rushing across the North Atlantic with numerous lows bottoming out below 950 mb (NOAA will issue a final tally sometime in February). Meanwhile, powerful storms developing in the North Atlantic continually pummeled Europe throughout most of the winter of 2012-2013 resulting in some of the worst rain and snowfall events ever recorded.

This recent climate-change driven shift of the North Atlantic into an increasingly stormy weather pattern may well be a prelude to even more extreme changes to come. Weather models produced by GISS and examined by premier climate scientist James Hansen indicate that very powerful storms arise in conjunction with increasing Greenland melt. Large pulses of fresh, cold water entering the North Atlantic were observed to create climate instabilities that resulted in very powerful storms with frontal systems the size of continents that packed the punch of hurricanes in the physical model runs. It was the likelihood that such storms could emerge by or before mid-century that, in part, spurred Dr. Hansen to write his prescient book — The Storms of My Grandchildren.

As noted above, the current Greenland melt outflow averages about 500 gigatons each year. This outflow is already large enough to weaken the Gulf Stream and set off severe weather instabilities. But with Arctic warming continuing to amplify and Jet Stream patterns bringing more and more warm air over Greenland, melt rates may triple or more over the coming decades, resulting in even more severe weather consequences. So the extreme storm patterns we see emerging in the North Atlantic now are likely just a minor prelude when compared to what we will witness as the years and decades progress.

England in the Firing Line: Windiest December Precedes Wettest January

Currently in the direct firing line of these powerful storms are the main islands of the United Kingdom. Throughout December, England suffered an almost constant assault of storms. In total, five storms, or more than one storm per week brought excessive rains and wind gusts in excess of hurricane force to the British Isles. The results were tens of thousands of power outages, major waves and storm surge events along the coastline resulting in damage to coastal structures and persons being swept out to sea, and increasing instances of flooding over saturated ground.

On record, December 2014 was one of the stormiest ever seen for the British Isles. According to weather data, the month was the windiest since record keeping began in 1969:

Wind Gust Measure Met

(Image source: UK Met Office)

In addition, December also ranked one of the rainiest with many locations seeing 3 times the normal level of rainfall for the month.

As the new year began, the series of severe storms impacting the UK continued unabated through late January. And as of the 28th, South England had experienced its wettest month since record keeping began in 1910. With a month and a half still remaining Southeast England had already experienced its 6th wettest winter season on record.

UK Rainfall

(Southeast UK Rainfall from 1910 to present with 2010 easily setting a new record. Image source: Met Office)

Dr Richard Dixon, director of FES Scotland when commenting in a Guardian interview about the most recent spate of anomalous UK weather noted:

“November and December were record breakers in Scotland, with storm after storm hitting around Christmas. Climate change is bringing chaos to our weather, not just increasing global temperatures but affecting ocean currents and global air currents. Scotland is caught between the changing influences of disappearing Arctic ice, the shifting jet stream and a weakening Gulf Stream. It is no wonder our weather is becoming less and less predictable. The consequences for us are more extreme weather, including more flooding.”

Very Dangerous Flood Situation for Southwesr England: Powerful Storm on the Way

The extreme rainfall, as of today, had resulted in a major flood event for Southeast England focusing on the Midlands and Somerset. The event inundated croplands, homes and farms throughout the rural region and spurred England to put its military on standby as forecasts show more rain and high winds are on the way. The anomalous event also spurred the 15th meeting of COBRA, the UK’s emergency response committee which has, increasingly, been called due to a continuous barrage of weather emergencies.

Somerset Floods

(Aerial photo showing homes, businesses and a vast area of land flooded in Somerset, England. Image Source: David Hedges)

In addition to the clearly visible inundation, numerous villages in the region have been cut off due to flooded roads for more than a week (with some areas being cut off for a month). The constant barrage of storms has resulted in both persistently high tides and almost continuous rainfall. The rainfall, trapped by high sea water, has nowhere to escape and simply pools, continuing to build up in the low-lying lands.

The UK’s conservative government’s response to the situation, thus far, has been anemic, waiting until today to declare the region a disaster area.

Unfortunately, another powerful storm is predicted to arrive by Saturday bringing with it yet one more spate of strong winds, heavy surf and driving rainfall to the already soaked region.

Saturday Forecast Map NOAA

(NOAA forecast map for Saturday. Note a powerful 953 mb storm forecast to impact the UK with 70+ mph winds and heavy rainfall. Image source: NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center)

So if you’re living in Southeast England please do your best to remain safe, to heed government warnings, and to urge your government officials to provide you with the level of response you deserve during this dangerous time (including policy changes to reduce the rapidly increasing degree of harm coming from human caused climate change).

Early Storms Minor by Comparison

It is worth noting that, though more intense than we’re used to, these storms are the early, weaker outliers of a very dangerous period that is to follow. Our best models and our best climate scientists report the likelihood of far more dangerous storms emerging from this region and from the set of conditions that includes a weakening Gulf Stream, a melting Greenland, an amped up hydrological cycle and rapidly warming zones first at the northern polar region and then in the tropics. The eventual size of these storms could expand to cover continents and involve multiple linked and powerful storm centers. As noted above, Hansen warned of frontal storms large enough to blanket continents and with areas of hurricane strength winds stretching thousands of miles. We haven’t seen anything like that yet. And so the freakish and extraordinary weather we’ve witnessed this winter, and in recent years, is merely prologue for worse events to follow.

Links:

AGU

NASA: Lance-Modis

NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center

UK Met Office: Winter Storms December 2013 to January 2014

Parts of England See Wettest January Since Records Began

UK Floods: January Rain Breaks Records in Parts of England

Colorado Bob’s Climate Feed

The Storms of My Grandchildren

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51 Comments

  1. OT Robert, but I just wanted to thank you for being so kind, liking my blog posts etc.

    I’ve been having a rough week and this matters.

    Also I ordered a used copy of your first novel. I look forward to receiving it and reading it.

    As I write this, I’m listening to Carol King singing “You’ve Got A Friend.”

    “Ain’t it good to know..”

    Reply
    • Aww, Miep. You’re a sweet heart.

      I love reading your posts and find them to be enlightening, puckish and fun. And who could use lightening up more than me!

      Sorry to hear you’re down. Please feel free to chat more if you have the need to.

      Reply
  2. Harry

     /  January 31, 2014

    I didn’t know you’d written a novel, Robert. What is it called? And thank you for an article which puts this weather in its proper AGW context. I find it deeply unsettling that a supposedly apolitical and unbiased entity like the BBC is intentionally omitting any mention of climate change in its coverage and it saddens me that the truth is almost exclusively to be found on non-mainstream websites such as yours. It makes me feel as if I have spent much of my life being very naive and erodes my already shakey faith in human nature.

    It is unbelievably soggy here in Sussex and damp is intruding through my office walls even as I type!

    Reply
    • Two little fantasy/sci fi novels (the series is Luthiel’s Song) and one very drab book about the combined climate, resource depletion, over-consumption, population crunch, inequality, and required endless economic growth based on fossil fuels crisis called Growth Shock. If you ever happen to read them, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      Thanks for the kind words. There needs to be more writing on this subject as I feel I’ve barely scraped the surface. We need to explore risks and probabilities and get a better handle on trends over time. In move view, there hasn’t been enough publicized science in this field focused on the dynamic nature of a changing Gulf Stream (weakening), changing ocean currents in the Arctic, cold fresh water melt from Greenland and a rapidly warming Arctic and an amplification of tropical warmth waiting in the wings.

      There are individual papers that deal with individual issues, but we need research orgs and groups to start putting them all together in a more cohesive fashion. The models are great for this. But I think getting the researchers to work together on a combined project would help as well.

      Reply
      • Harry

         /  January 31, 2014

        Intriguing! And good for you. I regret never having taken the opportunity to express myself creatively. I have a few cognitive issues which make reading a whole book a challenge but I will check them out if I can. Another reason I am so glad for blogs like this one is that I simply don’t have the ability to wade through the science. Instead I ruthlessly fact-check to make sure that a blogger is trustworthy and on point!

        As an Englishman who cannot bear the cold, I dread the prospect of the gulf stream waning. Am I correct in thinking that this would mean much colder weather in the UK or are there too many variables to make such a prediction?

      • It looks like you guys will be on the battlefield between a dying winter and an expanding summer. The big melt pulses should make it colder for you when they occur, but the heat and dryness should fight their way back during summers except during times of the largest glacial outflows.

        The tricky bit is we’re pretty uncertain how fast the melt will be. If it’s on the fast side, expect conditions to be colder and stormier for an extended period.

        In my view, the rational range for SLR is 3-9 feet by the end of this century. 3 feet would result in more moderate events, 6-9 feet could be absolutely devastating weather-wise. There is an outlier chance that melt rates could be higher. It depends on ice sheet sensitivity which, at this point, seems somewhat higher than expected.

        The major generation zones for extreme weather related to melt would be southeast of Greenland and northwest of West Antarctica and in the already stormy zone near the Cape. With large melt events, these regions could generate storms with nearly hemispheric impact (Hansen et al). You guys are sitting right next to one of these genesis regions. So, yeah, could be very rough.

  3. Reblogged this on abraveheart1.

    Reply
  4. Jim Botsford

     /  January 31, 2014

    Robert, thank you for your blog.

    Your writing is clear, concise and packed with information. I look forward to each new post and always learn something new. It’s scarey as hell but I prefer going forward into our new and very different world with my eyes wide open.

    I appreciate your hard work.

    Reply
  5. james cole

     /  January 31, 2014

    Thanks so much for covering this story. It is a big climate story and the UK is really in the center of the storm. Way back in the early 1300’s Northern Europe was battered by severe Atlantic and North Sea storms, the crops were ruined for years running and starvation was the result. I believe, but am not sure, that the early 1300 events were the start of what they call the little Ice Age. But please correct me if I am wrong on that. I wonder now, what these storms are the start of, another real climate shift on the scale of the Little Ice Age????

    Reply
    • The little ice age was the cool period roughly between 1350 and 1850. It featured temperatures that were, globally, about .6 C cooler, at its coldest, than the 1880s average. We are already about .8 C hotter than the 1880s average, so we’ve already warmed more than the little ice age cooled at is baseline and we’ve seen global warming of about 1.4 C from its coldest point around 1600. Conversely, the Mideval Warm Period was about .5 C cooler than now.

      It would make sense that the build-up of cold air in the North Atlantic would result in some pretty nasty weather for Europe as the cooling began to advance. You end up with some rather epic battles between hot and cold air during such a scenario. And the record for this time shows a long period of lean years along with some interesting and freakish weather events (such as entire fishing fleets frozen).

      In any case, the UK is definitely one of those regions closest to the firing line. Anywhere you have major temperature influxes — cold or hot. That’s where you should look for the genesis zones of the extreme weather coming down the pipe. Colorado Bob is absolutely right to be concerned about the Philippines, for example.

      Reply
      • Burgundy

         /  January 31, 2014

        Robert very interesting article, I wish your blog was around years ago. Way back in 2003 I became cognisant to the seriousness of climate change, economic collapse and resource depletion. Good quality information about the affects of climate change and when to expect them was rather limited at that time. I basically relied on historical accounts of the Medieval Warming and Little Ice Age to try and predict the likely future and a come up with a strategy to mitigate the worst of it. The conclusion I came to was that the UK was toast on every potential issue and with all three combined it wasn’t really a place you’d want to be.

        In 2005 I sold my house in Southern England (river side with moorings) and business (heavily dependant on a strong economy) and moved to Central France (not too far South, warming, not too far North, cooling, not too near the sea, storms, and not too far into the continent, heat and cold). Which has worked out pretty well so far, the North, South, West and East of France have been battered and bruised by CC, but, here in the Centre we’ve escaped the worst. But of course things have progressed far faster than even I expected back in 2003, with data pouring in and time-scales shortening to years rather than decades. Its looking pretty grim (which is typical British understatement and actually means we’re all doomed without reprieve).

        Trouble is that the nearer we are to a climate change threshold, and the resulting non-linear progression to another climate state, the less predictable it all becomes. Basically it becomes impossible to predict the climate or the weather with any great confidence. The randomness of it all may become the biggest threat of all.

      • Thank you, sir. By the way, ‘it’s pretty grim’ has to be one of my favorite sayings of British understatement.

        And you’re absolutely correct. But the one thing we can predict with certainty is increasing extremes. And it’s not too tough to get a good idea where the zones of highest instability (at least as far as atmosphere goes) will tend to emerge.

        I look at risks and emerging threats related to climate change, so I have a bit more wiggle room than science. I will tend to be less accurate, over time, than a well developed scientific process. But I can look more directly at potentials, which gives me a good opportunity to provide the most likely context in a given year, day or season. In any case, without the information top quality science provides, none of this additional analysis would be possible.

        Warmest regards to you. I think Central France will probably get socked once Greenland melt really ramps up. And, eventually, the Sahara’s will to expand north will not be denied. It’s going to be a very rough century, worse unless we wise up soon.

        As you say, it’s pretty grim.

      • Burgundy

         /  January 31, 2014

        Yes, the Greenland melt will be one rather large negative feedback, knocking out the THC and potentially cooling Europe by up to 5°c. But at the same time it will not stop the planet from warming. It will just add to the chaos. Back in 2003 I had the naive idea that the loss of the Gulf Stream and the encroaching Sahara would possibly balance out somewhat. But of course things don’t work that way.

        I’m more sanguine than you are and don’t think we’re going to wise up. In fact I now believe it is too late, but I still fully support those that attempt to wake people up and do something. It would be foolish not to, I myself try to follow a no regrets strategy. I guess becoming resigned to one’s fate is a way of letting go and leaves you to get on with what’s important.

      • It will just shift the heat around. Large melt kicks in at about the same time the tropics start heating up. And that’s why the weather becomes so volatile during that period. A very large melt could slow the pace of overall warming for a few decades, though, at the price of terrible, terrible weather.

      • Burgundy

         /  January 31, 2014

        True, at the start of the Little Ice Age it was the continuous rain that did the damage. The animals became ill, then crops failed and eventually, after decades of famine, the bubonic plague fell upon the malnourished and weakened population of Europe. Of course history doesn’t necessarily repeat.

        It is interesting that Paul Beckworth noted that climate change seems to be impacting infrastructure more than agriculture. A possible clue.

  6. There has been some discussion on the slowing of the Gulf Stream. I have written an essay mulling over this question and going back in time – An Ice Age coming?

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/02/the-gulf-stream.html

    Reply
    • Not possible given the amount of CO2 and other GHG in the atmosphere. The negative feedback due to melt is just enough to make the weather swing wildly while melt is ongoing.

      Reply
  7. This was just announced on local news, KTVU.
    Breaking News: California State Water officials have just announced they will NOT deliver any water to areas south of the Sacramento Delta as part of the state water project serving 25 million Californians. Officials say it’s the first time in the 54 year history of the water contract that this has happened.

    What does this mean? Click here to read the story: http://bit.ly/1hZhLXW

    Reply
  8. I think, on reflection, I used misleading language. I was pointing to a phenomenon that is regional and temporary as the ice melts and the planet warms. I think that I was trying to say that there are different forces at play. No doubt that the Gulf Stream us sliwing down as predicted. it seems at present that the scenario you describe is the reality

    I was revisiting something that I was painfully aware of 10 years ago.

    What was talked about then is now practically taboo.

    Reply
  9. São Paulo’s average maximum daily temperature in January through Friday was 31.9 degrees Celsius (89.4 degrees Fahrenheit), a degree hotter than the previous January record and surpassing February 1984 as the city’s hottest month ever, according to INMET, Brazil’s national meteorological institute.

    Meanwhile, a high pressure system has blocked normal tropical afternoon rains during what is usually the year’s wettest month. São Paulo’s main reservoir is now at less than a quarter of its capacity, a 10-year low.

    Meteorologists aren’t hopeful for a change anytime soon.

    “This is the hottest, driest January we’ve ever had … and there isn’t much hope for this heat to stop in the next two weeks,” said Celso Oliveira, meteorologist for Somar weather service.
    Link

    Reply
  10. Floods and snowstorms hit Europe

    Hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate their homes in the Italian city of Pisa as the Arno River threatens to burst its banks. Italian police footage, filmed from a helicopter, showed fields flooded and houses isolated by muddy water.

    Meanwhile in northern Serbia, strong winds forming snowdrifts have blocked roads and disrupted energy supplies. Soldiers and special police were deployed Friday to help evacuate dozens of people stranded in cars and buses on the blocked roads.

    http://rt.com/in-motion/serbia-snowstorm-italy-flood-518/

    Reply
  11. My feeling is that we can expect weather degradation and change to occur rather quickly over the next decade or so. The changes have already started – but we are still some years away from maximum acceleration (which I believe will be the extension of seasonally missing ice in the Arctic into the summer season there – as opposed to at the end of the melt season). Even that will not represent a finishing state, merely the immediately near period of most rapid change.

    It’s faster and faster for quite a while now, one suspects.

    We cannot (and should not) assume we live in a linear earth system.

    We cannot be sure next year will be better, it might be exponentially worse.

    Those who could did much too little, much too late and now here comes the sky, starting to fall down on us…

    Agriculturally speaking, the world lives from year to year. We carry pitifully low reserves and let the rich burn food in their cars as the poor starve and riot. A single unexpectedly bad season could be enough to trigger another round of substantial socioeconomic unrest in multiple locations, even as the countries that last experienced this to date remain unstable and vulnerable. Globally speaking a single bad year is probably enough to start really shaking things up globally and a few increasingly bad years in sequence probably enough to let us watch modern civilisation burn. Just my two minor currency units.

    Reply
    • Yes. That is the kind of bad I am talking about. At least with food and weather. Tough, but not yet terminal.

      As for nonlinear thinking, that’s exactly where I am.

      The size and duration of the forcing determines initial linear progression, second stage positive feedback amplification and acceleration, third stage peak or tripping additional thresholds to mini runaway, and fourth stage peak and slow return to equilibrium.

      Size, speed and duration of forcing determine the trajectory of non linear progression (shape of curve and instabilities) position of peak and declining slope to new equilibrium.

      As said above, there’s no evidence for runaway at 400 ppm CO2 initial forcing. We do get some amplifying feedbacks, as we see now, though. The size and stability of various carbon stores provides uncertainty. But not enough to dictate considerable risk.

      The factors change at around 550 ppm CO2.

      It’s worth noting that due to other ghg in residence, the factors may change at around 500. But that is still low to moderate.

      Trajectory now at 2-3 C probable is still very bad. Just not impossible. One more decade of BAU brings us to 3 to 3.5. Another to 3.5 to 4. And by 2040 to 2050 BAU locks us into a set of amplifying feedbacks that will make it very difficult for even humans to adapt.

      This does not mean we don’t have a number of freakish foreshadowing events underway that look rather scary. That’s exactly what we have. Ironically, this will make some people feel invulnerable at first due to lots of near misses. It’s just the time after the near miss events that you have to worry about.

      Reply
      • I think the key immediate vulnerabilities we face are human system ones, more than climate system ones. I don’t think we have much input into what the climate does now (beyond that we could at least stop forcing the pace ever faster), but the worst effects there are still decades to centuries out. I have very little optimism in humanity to act appropriately to raise resilience in human systems, and indeed would argue events so far bear out that view?

      • Humans, like nature, behave nonlinearly. And our response usually greatly lags the warning signal for out of context/long-term crisis.

        Btw, the variables for zero sea ice end summer rise to 40 percent by 2017. So it is not linear. The climate inputs seem to push increasing melts every 4-6 years with one very large melt in this period.

        Uncertainty is also generated by increasing fresh water in the Arctic Ocean along with melt outflows from Greenland which generate a negative feedback.

        One point to consider…

        High heat in the Arctic over the next month could push risks higher for 2014.

      • I think I speculated on the potential impact for this melt season before… what I’m really saying though is – if humans organised properly and stopped wasting the slack in agricultural production (excess meat consumption and biofuels) and started ensuring at least some resources were equitably shared with the poor (food particularly) – then I wouldn’t be so sure that the transition in the Arctic would spell the imminent onset of civilisational collapse. As is, I simply don’t see those sorts of policies as being likely to happen to anywhere near the extent required (right now the trends are mostly opposite).

        Of course, that would only buy more time – we’d also have to overcome our fundamental tendency to fight each other when resources are constrained later on to make it without losing almost everything we’ve learned/done as a species.

        Again the key vulnerability is human – our propensity for violence and conflict and destruction, even when it is irrational – and we destroy libraries and harvests…

        I’d ask why we are this way, but the answer is simple enough – evolution. The same instincts that drove our ancestors to smash in each others brains with stones still apply in a world with nuclear missiles… whether it was done in this civilisation or a later one – how does a species get past this hurdle? That question I haven’t got a good answer to yet… all ideas welcome.

      • No answers, ccgwebmaster, but that’s all about asking the right questions.

      • Now here is the big uncertainty.

      • “I think the key immediate vulnerabilities we face are human system ones, more than climate system ones. I don’t think we have much input into what the climate does now (beyond that we could at least stop forcing the pace ever faster), but the worst effects there are still decades to centuries out. I have very little optimism in humanity to act appropriately to raise resilience in human systems, and indeed would argue events so far bear out that view?”

        I appreciate your viewpoint. But being a doomer is just so depressing, and what have we got to lose by acting with hope, even if it’s not fully rationally backed?

        Do we really have to have proof in order to act with hope?

        And if we do, then what are we supposed to do instead?

      • I guess most would accuse me of being a “doomer”, though in honesty I see myself as a “realist”.

        However, one thing I do not think I am – is a defeatist. I take the situation I see – and I try to find answers to the problems it poses. It annoys me intensely when people have only doom to talk about from the comfort of their armchairs, and can’t get off their backsides to fight it.

        Whatever you decide to do – the assumptions you make underpin the success or failure. In my case I focus my efforts upon the premise that modern civilisation is going to collapse. If modern civilisation makes it you could argue I wasted my efforts (or at least had the wrong focus).

        Similarly, if you were to argue you can just use energy efficient light bulbs and drive a Prius and offset your flights – and civilisation collapses – your efforts were similarly wasted/unfocussed.

        That’s why I think it’s so important to try to act realistically? To that extent I’m not even sure I’m a doomer, even though I see a very dark world. There is still a glimmer of light on the distant horizon in my world, even though few would recognise it as such (and to be fair, I don’t expect to live to reach it myself…).

      • ccg: Yes to all that. That’s a very positive attitude.

      • Hate to say it, but the do omers almost always overstate the problem and understate the ability of humans to respond.

        Look at Peak oil, for example. Conventional peak using existing tech occurred around 2005. To many do omers this meant the end of the world. What it meant instead was economic and political crisis, series problems with the world supply chain and a huge contributor to the 2008 meltdown (plus lots of funny business).

        Did the world end as doomers predicted? No. The economy rebalanced (painfully) the higher price of oil opened new sources and the fight led to unconventionals eventually defeating the peak.

        Is everything great? No. Oil is still scarce, the market is still tight and prices now have to be high due to how difficult it is to extract unconventionals. And the world didn’t end.

        Now would the world have ended if we weren’t able to access the unconventionals? No. It just would have endured an even more painful shift. In my view, that particular event would have been better if it had lead to a shift to wind and solar primarily. Because then the climate crisis would have been greatly lessened. And the climate crisis is far, far worse than a peak oil crisis.

        People are tough. They adapt. And they are hard to kill.

        That said, I do believe that climate change is ultimately nasty enough to give us a serious run. Which is why, in this case, even if they get the details wrong, the do omers may end up right.

        Now, I hate it when do omers are right. Because that means my lived ones are probably goners. Hence my ardor for a rapid response. :)

      • Robert: I have young nephews and nieces.

        But really that’s not good enough, it’s like talking about rape via saying “What if she was your daughter/sister?”

        This positioning suggests that people one is not attached to don’t matter.

        I’m not going to apologize for lecturing because I know you’ll get it.

        Hey, guess what? It’s raining and has been for awhile. Silly old jet stream hanging around sending us a gift here in Carlsbad. Much appreciated and perfect timing, as spring comes early here.

      • I’m not justifying any harm. There is less harm if there is positive response. And there is no positive response without hope.

      • “This does not mean we don’t have a number of freakish foreshadowing events underway that look rather scary. That’s exactly what we have. Ironically, this will make some people feel invulnerable at first due to lots of near misses. It’s just the time after the near miss events that you have to worry about.”

        Very sharp on your part there. Everybody wanting to believe they picked the right spot. Lottery mentality.

  12. More on those european snow storms Colorado Bob mentioned:

    http://climatecrocks.com/2014/02/03/central-europe-sees-crushing-snow-fall/

    Are they linked to the weather system which caused the flooding in Italy?

    Reply
  13. Locked jet-stream means wet and windy weather set to continue in February for the U.K.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26035460

    Reply
  14. The Gulf Stream and other changes seem to push toward much stormier winter weather and drier summer weather long term for the UK. The swing from stormy to dry could grow quite extreme as time moves forward.

    Reply
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