Amazing article series on Climate Change

Science: in April and May, the New Yorker printed an amazing series of articles on climate change by Elizabeth Kolbert, full of outstanding research and interviews with the key players.

Unlike much coverage, it includes the expected results of climate change in the US:

Different climate models offer very different predictions about future water availability; in the paper, Rind applied the criteria used in the Palmer index to GISS’s model and also to a model operated by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. He found that as carbon-dioxide levels rose the world began to experience more and more serious water shortages, starting near the equator and then spreading toward the poles. When he applied the index to the giss model for doubled CO2, it showed most of the continental United States to be suffering under severe drought conditions. When he applied the index to the G.F.D.L. model, the results were even more dire. Rind created two maps to illustrate these findings. Yellow represented a forty-to-sixty-per-cent chance of summertime drought, ochre a sixty-to-eighty-per-cent chance, and brown an eighty-to-a-hundred-per-cent chance. In the first map, showing the GISS results, the Northeast was yellow, the Midwest was ochre, and the Rocky Mountain states and California were brown. In the second, showing the G.F.D.L. results, brown covered practically the entire country.

‘I gave a talk based on these drought indices out in California to water-resource managers,’ Rind told me. ‘And they said, ‘Well, if that happens, forget it.’ There’s just no way they could deal with that.’

He went on, ‘Obviously, if you get drought indices like these, there’s no adaptation that’s possible. But let’s say it’s not that severe. What adaptation are we talking about? Adaptation in 2020? Adaptation in 2040? Adaptation in 2060? Because the way the models project this, as global warming gets going, once you’ve adapted to one decade you’re going to have to change everything the next decade.

And how the anti-climate-change side are attempting to control US public opinion:

The pollster Frank Luntz prepared a strategy memo for Republican members of Congress, coaching them on how to deal with a variety of environmental issues. (Luntz, who first made a name for himself by helping to craft Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America,’ has been described as ‘a political consultant viewed by Republicans as King Arthur viewed Merlin.’) Under the heading ‘Winning the Global Warming Debate,’ Luntz wrote, ‘The scientific debate is closing (against us) but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.’ He warned, ‘Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming in the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly.’

They’re a great synthesis. Go read the articles — part 1 (‘Disappearing islands, thawing permafrost, melting polar ice. How the earth is changing’), part 2 (‘The curse of Akkad’), and part 3 (‘What can be done?’). They’re long, but if you’re still on the fence about this one, they’ll wake you up.

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