Drought pulls ocean water up Mississippi

Louisiana Wetlands

The low level of the Mississippi River has allowed saltwater to travel 75 miles further upriver than usual according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The reporter claims that saltwater fish are ‘selected to survive these things,’ which, the writer claims, have been happening for tens of thousands of years.

Response:

This article is an example of media disregard for the evidence  of climate change, with the added implication  that recent extreme weather events are  natural fluctuations. Recent studies have helped policy makers sort out the difference between unusual weather that is part of natural variation and record breaking extreme weather events due to global warming.

According to NOAA, the odds of this heat wave and drought happening randomly is  one in 1,594,323.

The article includes mention that the oil refineries near the mouth of the Mississippi, which use lots of fresh water, are operational. A more inclusive and informative report would have told us the amount of carbon dioxide those refineries emit daily, and the amount of CO2 that will be released when the oil they refine each day is burned. It would also be interesting to know whether Phillips 66 will invest any of its  $1.2 billion in oil profits and $47.8 billion in revenue from the second quarter of 2012  in green technology that would provide us with power without incurring hundreds of billions of dollars in damages  to human health, crops and timber yields.

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What are the odds?

‘You cannot prove that burning fossil fuel caused this heat wave.’ says our gasman.

Response:

We can, however, find correlations and calculate the odds. Which would you rather do, walk through a field of land mines where there is a 1 in 10 chance of setting off an explosion, or where there is a 1 in 300 chance of explosion?

Well, 1 in 300 is the odds we had 35 years ago of getting these deadly, crop blistering heat waves, and now the odds are 1 in 10, according to a new NASA statistical study.

Scientists began measuring and correlating the amount of carbon dioxide released by burning oil, coal and natural gas with rising temperatures sixty years ago. Now 40 different models have been created of the evidence and causes of the changing climate, and they all agree that human activities are causing the planet to overheat, with the main offender being the burning of fossil fuels. On the NASA site you can see the changing levels of CO2, global temperature, sea level, land ice and polar ice cover.

So the relevant question is not whether any single weather event is ‘caused’ by global warming, but  how the odds have changed, and how they are likely to change in the future.

An article on this report includes a slide show of 53 things that ‘Climate Change Just Might Ruin.’