Big Climate Push in US: The Future is Now

Those reading in the USA will not need to be told that the recent, third, National Climate Assessment has finally broken the almost (*) total silence of the mainstream media on climate change.

The lede that has managed to get this past the journalists’ saliency filter is the frank assertion by the report that “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.”

As Eli Brian at Rabett Run points out, the fact that the day to day weather is no longer falling into old patterns is increasingly a matter of experience, not just of abstruse technical argument.

I would say this loss of normalcy is more or less on schedule. Younger people, alas, may not remember just how stable a stable climate really was, and soon we will have a generation arrive that will not have any healthy climax ecosystems to experience either.

So yes, it’s no longer in the future. But it’s still mostly in the future. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Things are just getting warmed up, so to speak. Hang onto your hat.

(*) – The ongoing Showtime series deserves mention as a recent breakthrough as well.


  1. The generational imbalance is vast and growing, as much of the energy use in our 'legacy economy' is going either drop off by regulation, or drop off by catastrophe. So if you're a kid now, you have the disjointed experience of seeing the tail end of an uninhibited lifestyle you can't inherit. I think it may be only because college students are so segmented, worried about jobs, and hyper-competitive at the top colleges that they haven't risen up with pitchforks. Though maybe there are signs of that. (At Harvard. Stanford did well to begin the divestment process for real.)

    And Hansen is helping an even younger cohort file suit:

    Compare Hansen's goal of limiting to a 1°C rise to Yale economist Robert Mendelsohn's cost/benefit proposal for a 4°C rise, and it really brings the stakes into focus. Mendelsohn spoke at a New School conference a couple of weeks ago, and his talk is worth watching -- he means what he says and he has a point. (The point being, better to go for something achievable and get started than remain stymied by the 2°C goal of the IPCC. And, we'll adapt. Or, the kids that are 10 years old now, they'll adapt. That's the generous way to interpret his logic.)

  2. The point being, better to go for something achievable and get started than remain stymied by the 2°C goal of the IPCC. And, we'll adapt. Or, the kids that are 10 years old now, they'll adapt. That's the generous way to interpret his logic.

    Haha. I would regard it as criminal neglect, if not incitement to global suigenocide. (I have a new curse: May he die old and in sound mind.)

  3. Back in 2001, the WSJ put the MIT "Greenhouse Gamble" probability wheels on the front page, above the fold, with an illustration.
    The editorial page was adamantly right wing, but the news section was separate and top notch. That was actually one of the first stories to get my attention.

  4. mt, I think you're being a mite hard on the New York Times. There have been at least a dozen related articles, including a new editorial today. In the recent past they have been working hard to put climate change on the front page in a variety of ways. There was also an interesting article by Jon Huntsman. Poor guy, crying in the wilderness to get his Republican party to pay attention. I do think some of the pileon was undeserved, but the situation with natural gas, fracking, and Keystone has people up in arms. I like to see they folks get wholly riled.

    You were cited here, and it's a good one:

  5. The Times has not been as totally silent as some, true, and they have had some excellent reporting, but they have rarely put climate on the front page, and I think this may be the first time they led with it.

  6. Sorry, I was a mite unclear. There have been at least 10 articles since the climate report this week, several quite prominent, and they have making a big push over the recent past. Sure, it leaves a lot to be desired, especially when they push the White House line.

    Related to this is the self-education of a wider range of journalists and the editorial staff. It seems to me they are learning that they haven't troubled enough to educate themselves, and are making the effort to remedy the error. Of course, they are making the same mistakes that people like me make all the time, and particularly when I was starting out.

    While it may be too little to late, I think the WH is also beginning to see the size of the stakes and realize they must do what they can. Of course, all of us tend to blame them for the unrelenting nature of the obstruction they face.

    Complaints have been made, and heard.

  7. Susan, I had the same reaction you did to the suddenly increased climate coverage in the NYTimes. It's been gratifying, but I wonder if it will have any political impact. Huntsman's piece appeared to be aimed at rational Republicans who might be inspired to take back the party, but do those people read the NYTimes? His message might be more effective in the Wall Street Journal.

    Regardless, I hope the NYT keeps its newly-grown spine.

  8. Pingback: Another Week of Climate Disruption News – May 11, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.