Sunday, September 10, 2017

Torn Apart By She-Bears

     I'm not going to explain the post title, other than to remind readers, "Really don't make fun of bald guys," and to explain that today's screed is about--

     Well, it's about faith, I suppose, and True Believers and confirmation bias and if it's right to leave someone up to their neck in alligators because you think they have been rubbing the wrong shade of blue mud in their navels.

     The continental United States (and Mexico and countless Caribbean islands) is being hit by dreadful weather, wildfires, earthquakes and tsunamis.  These are facts.  You can watch some of it happening right now, in real time, via your computer or television.

     Let's start with confirmation bias, or perhaps Idiotic Smugness: I have seen a couple of instances on social media of people pointing out, "See, all this is happening right after the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement!"
     Sure, but even if you believe the Agreement is funding some sort of Captain Planet-type corps of superheroes pushing back against the cruel thermometer of Wicked Industrial Mankind (it isn't), there's one tiny problem: "The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris), Paris climate accord or Paris climate agreement, is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020."
     Catch that last?  Twenty-twenty.  So far, Paris hasn't produced anything but fancy talk and high-falutin' plans.
     In fact, though President Trump most certainly has announced the U. S. would withdraw from the Agreement, it works out that the very earliest date by which this country could be out would be 4 November 2020, which just happens to be the day after the next Presidential elections, making this one of those safest of Presidential promises, slated to occur after the promiser's term of office has ended.*

     A little sneakier and more smug are those who say, "With all this horrible weather, now you/politician/whoever have to admit Global Warming is real!"
     Yeah, no.  For the sake of argument, stipulate Anthropogenic Global Warming is real -- and then explain to me how a people in general and the political class -- overlapping groups that includes flat-earthers, far-out conspiracy theorists and hardcore young-Earth creations -- will be persuaded by by yet more evidence.  And the cited evidence (recent weather), while suggestive, is far from incontrovertible: weather isn't climate.  Climate isn't weather. Looking back, the short-term "noise" of weather is huge compared to the long-term trendlines of climate: there's a lot of jitter.  On the scale of geologic time, the climate shows lovely rising and falling curves, Ice Age to Warm Period and back again, a bit sawtooth-y; zoom in to the span of a single human lifetime and the big curve vanishes under warm spells and cold snaps, floods and droughts.  At no time has the planet been entirely Edenic: it's a tough place for individual naked apes and it's not all that great for the other critters, either: mortality is 100%.

     I'm also unimpressed with the people who claimed Houston's lack of "proper zoning" and Texas's GOP-dominated, business-friendly state government made the hurricane damage there worse than it could have been.  The city got as much rain in four days as it normally receives in the course of a year.  When that happens anywhere that gets rained on regularly, terrible things follow.  People drown in their own attics. Industrial facilities are washed out...and into people's back yards.  You can't zone for it and the political climate and party in power are insignificant against the power of a storm -- as Hurricane Sandy showed, when plenty of code-compliant seaside homes were destroyed as far north as New Jersey and New York.

     The lesson here is not that "The thing I want to believe about climactic trends and our ability as a species to affect them is the Absolute Truth," no matter which way you lean.  The lesson is Bad Things Happen.

     Are you gonna pitch in to help the victims or not?
* Which is not to say Mr. Trump won't run again, or that it is outside the bounds of possibility that he might win, at which point that chicken is going to need roosting space.  Nevertheless, it hasn't even hatched yet.


rickn8or said...

Yes, especially the "weather isn't climate and climate isn't weather" part. I've got a sneaking suspicion that cycles of the big glowing thing in the sky has something to do with any climate changes and am pretty sure UN can't do anything about it, no matter much money we throw at it.

Joseph said...

The floods cost $16,000 per resident of the Houston metropolitan area. The difference in rent costs for a 900 Sqft furnished apartment between NYC (where the zoning plague started) and Houston is $1600 per month. IOW, the cost of the floods will be made up in ten months.

Is it possible for NYC zoning laws to be declared a Federal disaster?

Monty James said...

Quite a lot of the climate change crowd's argument seems to boil down to "We should be the dictators of the economy." I seem to recall that it was the same during the New Ice Age scare of the Seventies.

So, in remembrance of Dr. Jerry Pournelle, I'm going to read "Fallen Angels" again this weekend, the best satirical science fiction novel which will never be made into a film.

Paul said...

I, for one, would not expect that Trump would not get a second term. He might not, but I would not put any conviction about the out come. According to all the smart people we where supposed to have Hillary.

Drang said...

Someone tried to convince me the other day that "all these storms" are caused by the recent eclipse.

Also, several major hurricanes happening more or less at once are an increase in frequency of major storms, but the previous ten years with no major storms is irrelevant.

Jeffrey Smith said...

I am sitting through the Eastern side of Irma. Have been for the last twenty four hours or more, and gale force winds and squalls until tomorrow morning, so this is kind of personal to me....Saw on Facebook a post by someone who thought Trump created Irma to get rid of all the Latinos in Miami.

This despite the fact that the Cubans of Miami are the most Trump inclined Hispanics. And that, after dealing with the Cuban commies and the Key West gays, it is targeting the most Trump friendly parts of Florida (and pass into Alabama and Georgia) and will eventually dissolve into a low around Mike Pence's home state. Sorry about that for you and Tam.

rickn8or said...

Jeffery, I suppose it never occurred to these people that if Trump CAN gin up hurricanes, he might be too mean to mess with.

And as for me, I always look around for bears before I make fun of bald people.

Roberta X said...

Jeffrey Smith: Somehow, a bit of heavy rain and thunderstorms from the dissolving finale of Irma seems a little moot. I'll probably complain but compared to Florida, well, ahem.

Windy Wilson said...

It's not merely anthropogenic catastrophic global warming now, it's anthropomorphic global warming, or God directed global warming, or whatever, out to smite bad (I.e. Republican-voting) sections of the country.

Windy Wilson said...

Same prescription for every ill, carbon tax is the modern age's snake oil, sold to us by our elected public servants.

Old NFO said...

Hate to use those pesky facts, but Houston is VERY Democrat. Their power structure is ALL Dems and has been through at least two elections. And they went against all the recommendations of the Governor... Sigh...

markm said...

DW Drang: Yes, according to the AGW priesthood, snow storms following Al Gore around was just weather. The fiercest winter since 1978 was just weather. 10 years of no significant change in the average temperature and few powerful hurricanes is just weather. But a hot summer or one year of big hurricanes - that's Global Warming.

I call them a priesthood because there is no evidence that they will accept as disproving their hypothesis. That's religion, not science. And it comes with the usual cultish habits of lying and concealing evidence.