The ‘Greatest Hoax’ Strikes Florida

Denying climate change doesn’t stop its devastating effects.


Comments: 264

  1. Hopefully, the leaders of the other countries that contribute to air pollution on a larger scale that the USA will also read Mr. Kristof's and heed his advice. Oops, his column did not mention them. Easier to blame President Trump.

  2. @Maurice Gatien
    Actually no other country comes anywhere close to the USA in carbon emissions per capita. China emits more carbon due to its larger population (we're second), but the Chinese government, unlike ours, is taking the problem seriously and making real headway in reducing carbon.
    Just making stuff up--as you do in your comment--is not going to help.

  3. @ Joel S.-
    Huh? You might want to review your comment. I think you might be a bit confused. . . . . as is Maurice.

  4. What deniers of climate change do not seem to understand is that this is only the beginning. Image a world where it is too hot to live, where massive crop failures occur every year, where floods and drought are common occurrences and where violent storms a thousand miles in diameter destroy everything in their wake. Not to mention mass migrations, pandemics and social chaos.

    How many people have to die before we wake up and do something? I would gladly pay a carbon tax equivalent to a case a beer a week than have to rebuild my house every other year due to inaction.

  5. @DSS- the Earth will survive and it has many, many times before in worse circumstances. It's humanity that should be on notice. The Earth and life on it will adapt, with or without us.

  6. @DSS you forgot to mention the devestating effect on fisheries resulting from ocean acidification. We used to think the oceans would be there when we lost terrestrial agriculture.

  7. @DSS In 100 years the entire East Coast will be a national park. Not sure whether that's an upside.

  8. The military takes global warming very seriously. See the documentary, "The Time of Consequences" It is devastating in its clarity that global warming is causing huge political upheaval and instability. It is a powerful documentary.

  9. @Guy Sajer. I will make sure to see it! Two ounces of common sense tells you this is not sustainable.

  10. Yeah Guy, it's an excellent doco, only it's called " The Age of Consequences". And I'm afraid it's probably only preaching to the converted. Like we read in the NYT etc., there is so much information available but climate change deniers- those who profit by denying the facts and stalling action, those who entrust their lives to a supernatural being in god and don't need facts, and the majority, people who are simply afraid of the truth, just won't look or take heed.

  11. Correct title is “The Age of Consequences”

  12. https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1049752648524673025

    Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald

    "On Sunday in Brazil, the world’s seventh-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, voters appeared on track to elect a new president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he also plans to withdraw from the [Paris] accord."

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/climate/ipcc-climate-report-2040.html

    Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040

    1:05 PM - 9 Oct 2018

    [ Of course, the Wall Street Journal just endorsed Bolsonaro for president of Brazil. ]

  13. Glenn Greenwald is married to a left wing Brazilian activist (PSOL, that supports the Worker’s Party in the second round) and is trying to interfere in Brazil’s election.
    We don’t have Electoral College in Brazil, so the Brazilian people will decide democratically who is going to be our next president. Glenn Greenwald biased opinion is not welcomed here.
    The US (the world’s second largest emitter) is the only country in the world that have withdrawn from the Paris accord so far.
    Here a list of the first emitters of greenhouse gases:
    1. China: 25,9%
    2. USA: 14,75%
    3. European Union: 9,33%
    4. India: 6,43%
    5. Russia: 4,86%
    6. Japan: 2,99%
    7. Brazil: 2,25%

  14. The worst thing was originally terming this phenomenon global warming. Then not properly admitting and explaining why that term was misleading and instead trying to substitute the term climate change, which is indeed a more accurate term.

  15. Terminology is "the worst thing?" Did you read about today's hurricane?

  16. Eric does have a point. A more accurate term, due to the rapidity of the process, would be "global heating".

  17. @Eric Disagree. The globe is warming. Period. Saying "climate change" gives deniers an out, a way to introduce doubt and obfuscate the science, allows them to pretend "the climate is always changing and now is no different" and so avoid facing the inconvenient reality that the Earth is heating up, not just "changing".

  18. With every massive new hurricane that wreaks havoc, disaster and chaos across swaths of America, and I include our islands in the Caribbean, Trump demonstrates that he's not up to the challenge of mitigating disasters, of handling real crises much less working in a rational way to make sure they don't happen in the first.

    An opponent of climate science and other sciences as well, he lacks sufficient intelligent brainpower to understand what is going on around him and what he can do about it.

    This job of President is far beyond his very small abilities. I sincerely hope that my country - our country - survives four years of Donald Trump who himself is an existential crisis for America.

  19. @Porter,
    Don't make any long term plans.

  20. @Porter. Yes, it is amazing there were no hurricanes before President Trump.

  21. @Porter Remember the compassionate conservative living the high life now in Dallas, Texas who did nothing to deal with "climate change" in his 8 years in office.

  22. National flood insurance is a perfect example of socialize the losses and privatize the profits. Private insurance carriers cherry pick their customers for maximum profitability leaving the uninsurable properties to the tax payer. Similarly developers and home builders cash their Cheques and tax payers will be left holding the bag. Property owners get beautiful views without having to pay the true cost of insurance. Basically everyone benefits and tax payer pays for the losses. Repeal that program and see the awareness of risk and climate change will increase tremendously as reality will hit those denying the effects.

  23. @Matt

    I share your concerns, but the problem goes far beyond Trump, and removing him won't help us turn the corner on the existential threat posed by climate change. Huge entrenched interests are driving our country's immoral, self-defeating posture on this issue, and those special interests are supported by ordinary citizens reacting to any limitations on their freedoms.

  24. @Matt.... I don't believe that you can buy private flood insurance. The only kind available to me is one administered by FEMA and I've been buying it for over 30 years. While I have changed brokers and insurers, none have offered an alternative to government backed flood coverage.

  25. @Matt, I am a Katrina survivor. My experience with flood insurance is that it exists to save the banks that gave out mortgages to people whose houses became piles of rotting rubble because of the storm. The flood insurance checks went not to the home-owner, but to the mortgage holder. After the mortgages were paid off, the lenders then sent the home-owners checks for what was left over--not nearly enough to rebuild. If you have flood insurance and you have a mortgage, congratulations, because you now own free and clear a pile of uninhabitable garbage. But the lenders got their money back. And they will lend you more to rebuild, if you are interested.

  26. Unfortunately Mr. Kristof--even though your article is timely and important, it isn't only the "climate change deniers" who are the main problem.

    As all industrialized nations have created in the last 100+ years a dependence on carbon-based material production, transportation, and consumer goods and services, we have been trapped into living a life of abundance, convenience, and ease with no alternative methods of living outside a carbon-based energy--it's a "mono-culture" of energy resource.

    There has been no political will nor experience to create choices between using several different kinds of energy sources to generate electricity, or to move goods or ourselves around the planet.

    In other words, the problem is the "mono-culture" of having in place an energy system that is only carbon-based for the bulk of all of our myriad energy uses.

    Furthermore, we really don't have any experience living in any other fashion--it's all connected, reliant on "the power grid" of one type or another. This interrelated "mono-culture" is now true for most of the world at one level or another--by the term "developed" world we really mean the carbon-based world.

    Yes, the most visible situation is that there are those who would disbelieve that the burning of fossil fuels couldn't possibly change how the climate is behaving--easy to spot these folks and easy to blame them, too.

    But the very serious and frightening reality is how we're all stuck following a carbon lifestyle.

  27. @Cate Not true. Obama started to lay the groundwork for sustainable energy by investing in new companies. If we keep electing idiots like Trump, Scott and Rubio who just want to line their own pockets.

    And where is the president? Why he's out attacking democrats. He doesn't care at all about the Floridians and what they are going through. He just wants the adulation of his disciples at another of his egotistic rallies.
    As long as these states keep electing idiots (Scott and Rubio) who deny climate change, nothing will help them.

  28. @Cate
    I live in Massachusetts far from the threat of hurricanes, but because the threat of global warming affects us all, I am doing my part. Even with a poor solar exposure we get 110% of our electricity from the sun (a net generator). I switched from driving to work to biking, and my wife's car is a 63mpg Prius. The house has the longest way to go, but has the highest efficiency furnace I could find and added insulation and air sealing. Admittedly I am not carbon neutral, but it shows that a much-lower-carbon lifestyle is possible even now.

  29. @Cate Perhaps you need to do more research. For instance, look up Germany's reduced use of fossil fuels. About 40 percent of their energy during the last six months was from totally renewable sources! There are other countries, especially in Europe, who are making steady progress away from oil and coal dependent energy systems. You need to avoid using words like "all" and "we all." I agree that things have to change, but your hyperbolic statement that we are all stuck in a carbon-based lifestyle weakens your point of view.

  30. @Amy

    I just read this report and also its author Knudson's analysis and while the number of hurricanes is not increased, the likelihood of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the 21st century is increased by 100%. Also, warmer waters means more evaporation and precipitation, by 10-15%, higher wind speeds and along with higher water levels means greater storm surges.

  31. @Amy That is correct. The climate models indicate that the number of storms should remain about the same (or even decline) while their intensity increases. This is what we are seeing.

  32. Instead of embracing the challenge of climate change that's going to cost us dearly, politicians continue to fill the pockets of the carbon barons. It's crazy. We are the only country (except maybe Brazil) that hasn't accepted the science.

    Here's to hoping we elect officials who allow the United States to lead for the common good before there's no going back.

  33. @Marge The new report on the 1.5 C goal, as horrific as the projections are, is already watered down by the scientific consensus review process. It is focused solely on what is well established from peer reviewed published studies. Since we do not have good studies to tell us where the tipping points for positive feedback loops are, just that they exist and are started, this study leaves out of consideration known positive feedback mechanisms such as methane emissions from permafrost, because they are not yet well measured in published studies. However there are new studies that show planetary scale positive feedbacks have been initiated. We know enough to be certain there will be surprises and that they go in the wrong direction and they are not included in this report. This scientific consensus is an underestimate.

  34. Marge: Brazil and 173 states and the European Union have joined the Paris agreement. The US is the only country that has withdrawn from it.

  35. Marge, I'm afraid Australia is also a country that officially doesn't believe in the science. The majority of the people do but not our conservative government. Prime Minister Morrison recently waved a lump of coal around in parliament joking about how harmless it was. He has double the excuse not to believe the science; he's in the pocket of the coal industry and a is bible bashing, self righteous Pentecostal who thinks god is guiding him.

  36. Well, Floridians have a chance this November to deny Rick Scott, a "climate change" denier (as noted), a Senate seat. That's the first step voters have to take if they want elected officials who really will "serve and protect" them from climate change rather than serve and protect the special fossil fuel interests like Exxon Mobil. If Hurricane Michael doesn't wake them up, then Floridians will continue to be in denial themselves as their state gradually submerges under the inevitable rise in the oceans due to, yes, global warming and massive ice melts. It's time for the voters to stop buying into the "the "Greatest Hoax'" myth and see what's happening to those around them.

  37. @Paul Wortman We're very worried here in FL. Republicans turn out strongly.

  38. @Paul Wortman Excellent point, and I hope this becomes a crisp, bulleted part of the campaign narrative in its final month. No long policy wonk discussions, just, "Rick Scott says climate change is not real, and look what we just got. Vote for Bill Nelson who understands how climate change can affect your real life."

  39. I think climate change is a real issue, but when you look at hurricanes, over the period for which we have reliable data, there really isn’t any significant variation over time. When you start tying to tie specific, discrete weather events to climate change is where you run into trouble. The focus has to be on the overall trend in temperature variations over wide areas.

  40. In the final analysis most people with any political clout seem to be more focused on finding their own spot on a lifeboat than in keeping the ship from sinking. The simple fact that we are still propelling so many cabin spewing airplanes and massive cargo ships all over the world every day is enough to condemn our species.

  41. @B Scrivener: I think you meant carbon-spewing airplanes. And that doesn't even mention the good ole boys riding around alone in huge pickup trucks with Trump stickers on the back.

  42. In Texas, summer gets up to 105. Winter gets down to 25. That's 80 degrees. Climate change is about 2 degrees, so who can see or feel it? Who can believe a mathematical regression? (People who know maths, of course, but there aren't that many of us.)

  43. @Michael It's global average vs. what is local. Look up wet bulb temperatures. Look at what the planet was like when it was 4-8 degrees on average hotter across the globe - only 4-8 degrees, right? Humans did not exist then.

    It's also importat to know how to apply maths.

  44. @Michael
    Climate change is not about 2 degrees hotter in the summer. It's about the average temperature of the planet. It's about the melting of the polar icecaps. It's about the rise of sea level.

    So to bring it home to you in Henderson TX, a rise in average temperature of 3 degrees will cause a rise in sea level of six feet. You'll probably be all right where you are, but Houston, New Orleans and all of South Florida will be under water.

    Good luck to you.

  45. @Michael

    You are at least partly correct that Climate Change -- comparing wind, water and temperature from one period with another those of another period -- is all about physics and chemistry, which is just math. A LOT of math, stretched out over timeframes of centuries we barely comprehend, and some of it is really complicated, but math -- knowable, a matter of fact not opinion.

    Math don't care if you believe it, or understand it. it is unaffected by political opinions.

  46. President Trump likes money. He likes people who have money. He listens to people and corporations who have big money. Why doesn't he listen to the people who actually have skin in the climate change game - no, not the oil and coal companies - but the others - the insurers and reinsurers (companies that insure the insurance companies.

    More than 25 years ago one of the world's largest reinsurance companies issued a report that pretty much predicted the climate mess that we no longer can ignore - if reasonable minds prevail. The problem is greater than coastal flooding. Next it will be food shortages, mass relocations, etc.

    I would suggest Trump talk to the climatology departments of the world's largest insurers and reinsurers (yes, they actually have them). They are the new who have long term financial interest in the subject.

  47. Nice article on an important topic. It continues to amaze me how polarizing climate change is.

    Anyway, I did want to challenge a couple of things in the article. I ran an international survey on climate change in 2008, and climate change was already a very partisan issue back then in the US. Indeed it goes beyond the US. In all 3 countries we ran the survey (US, Canada, England), a strong predictor of someone denying climate change is whether they were supporters of the conservative party in their country.

  48. These storms will only increase in intensity. Those who have fossil fuel to sell, like the Kochs, want to extract every last dollar from them, even if it means their grandchildren won't enjoy the same world they do. Any rational person would conclude that even if all the science is too vague, it's worth erring on the side of caution and reduce green house gases as much and as soon as is possible. The cost to return keep our air and water clean is beyond the capacity of our 19th century model of capitalism no matter how much money we print. I am sure whalers did not want their meal ticket to end either, but each century marches to a new drummer, and we need to embrace a cleaner energy future, or suffer consequences that will effect everyone, everywhere.

  49. If a hundred scientist from across the world came together to write the "UN Climate Report" stating that Climate Change is real it would seem to carry some weight for most people. But our unscientific-president would rather question their research and ask who are these scientist?

    The fact that many countries around the world have signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement while our president, republicans in Congress, and his dysfunctional EPA has chosen to remove the United States as one of the primary supporters...is very disturbing and short sighted.

    It does not seem to matter that summer days here in New York City has people hiding in their homes or work places because it's too hot outside during the day.

    It does not seem to matter to this administration that warming oceans, rising sea levels, melting arctic icebergs, more powerful hurricanes, flooding, and wild fires appear to be getting much more prevalent.

    Most Americans believe in scientific inquiry. Most Americans believe in scientific research to prove or disprove issues of our natural world. It is unfortunate that our current leadership would rather seek out profits while hiding their heads in the sand of the disappearing beaches.

  50. @Lalo. When Trump's golf courses get flooded and damaged, maybe he';; change his mind.

  51. I've always felt "The Sunshine State" should be the leader in solar energy; a showplace for it. But there's nothing done by the GOP here towards that end. You see, we have non-progressive leadership in Florida. Our entire state government is Republican due to severe gerrymandering. It's strange because Florida actually has more Democratic voters than GOP, and our large Independent voter bloc are more conservative. People move here for warm weather, but also for lower taxes. Added to that, Democrats just don't turn out like the GOP when voting comes around. (I DO have solar panels all over my roof for power, but there's ZERO financial incentive on the state level).

  52. I've wondered if climate change would've been more widely accepted by the right if Al Gore hadn't been its unofficial spokesperson. For almost 30 years now, if anyone attached to the Clintons said not to jam a stick into your eye, conservatives would go half blind in defiance.

  53. @JB
    Whoever was its unofficial spokesman would have been ridiculed and demonized in one way or another. Looking at the demonization of individuals is a distraction.

  54. Don’t blame Al Gore for the politicization of climate change. The right wing think tanks have been manufacturing doubt about environmental science since Gore was a senator.

  55. @Tom B: Thank you for defending Gore against Kristof's false equivalency (no doubt unintentional).

  56. Kristof misses the point entirely – Trump and the Republicans are working hard to gain dictatorial power over the country formerly known as the United States. Their goal is much easier to achieve with a damaged and weakened state. Natural disasters create chaos. Trump thrives on chaos. It thus follows logically that Trump and his minions welcome the effects of accelerated climate change.

  57. @Observer I think you are on to something there, Observer. A permanent "Shock Doctrine" is what they plan and will cynically -- and gleefully -- exploit.

  58. acknowledging climate change doesn't prevent it either. its not even the first step.

  59. @fme
    Of course it's the first step. You can't change behavior if you don't acknowledge there's a problem. cf AA.

  60. Nobody denies climate change. The world has gone through global cooling and warming cycles before. Blaming man for climate change, or thinking man can mitigate climate change is foolish at best, but mostly dishonest.

    One undeniable truth is that there is an entire climate change industry, both economic and the pseudo science. in economic form plans like Kyoto or Paris accords advocate for a wealth transfer to the third world through promoting cheap fuels while mandating the western world cut back. The climate model alarmists who suggest man can stop the present global warming cycle.... Well... They can't possibly be serious.

  61. @Gordon The way in which the climate is currently changing is driven by human activity. The Union of Concerned Scientists has papers and books, written by scientists in clear and understandable language, that explains why an overwhelming majority of scientists belief human activity is producing catastrophic (for most large vertebrates) climate change. Folks who think otherwise would do well to read the Union of Concerned Scientists' literature.

  62. @Gordon, your post is a mess! No one cares about climate change in your version. What we care about is the current, right-now, version, which is an extremely rapid heating of the planet to a level that will probably eliminate civilization.

    There is no climate change "industry". You are fooling yourself. Pay attention to the fact that most predictions of warming and its effects have turned out to be serious underestimates. And we're barely starting to heat up.

  63. @Gordon
    Difference is that this particular warming cycle is directly attributable to human industrial activity. And once we pass a critical mass point, it will be irreversible and cause massive migration away from equatorial and even tropical climes toward the poles. Rising sea levels will redraw continental maps, and water and food shortages will lead to a large-scale culling of the species.

    You guys in Canada will probably be fine, with your wealth of natural resources and vast uninhabited territory. But you will not be able to hold back the hordes of people flocking to your land seeking survival. Good luck to you in the 22nd century.

  64. Now that the Reps have abandoned the climate as an issue, the Dems should grab it.

    Suggested tag line: "If you want to live, come with us."

    Fact is, no one will care if Dems "save Social Security" when it is 130 degrees outside.

  65. @Desert Turtle Well, yes, but we can both demand action on climate change AND save (and expand) social security. I think our on-going problem is that Democrats have no national voice to consolidate and express the message. Trump is an entertainer, a carnival barker, a vegi-matic salesman, a WWF chair-thrower, yes, but it is his skill at communicating, in his "rallys", his evil vision to the Cult of Trump that keeps him afloat. It's the worst of all possible combinations: sociopathic intentions riding on the back of venal populist entertainment. He is a showman just as Hitler was -- Hitler mastered the act, and Trump is a work in progress, headed the same direction. Dems need a charismatic leader to oppose Trump and embody Democratic values on the national stage, and they lack that right now.

  66. As long as a great many Americans believe the American way of life, the ideal way of life, requires high consumption teamed with constantly-expanding material prosperity, they will continue to look the other way. I find a lot of Canadians and others are also trapped in this planet-destroying ideology. It is a head shaker.

  67. The fault is with the Chinese. I blame them. This is their hoax and the Chinese are being very mean and unfair to me and America by fighting the tariff war I started. It is not fair to fight with the weather. We've never done it and never will.

    Look at all the wonderful things I'm doing for them by making fossil fuels more available and cheaper. I'm even adding more polluting fuels like corn ethanol grown by our great Red states, which requires great amounts of petroleum and chemicals to produce.

    I am reducing fuel economy standards, so we will burn more fuel.

    I am single-handedly propping up the coal industry, so we can burn more coal.

    I am getting rid of the methane controls, so we can flare more methane in the oil production process--BTW 20 times more greenhouse gas than the oil produced will inflict, I'm told.

    I am opening up more federal lands to the fossil fuel industry at almost no cost to them, and I am continuing the billions in annual "tax incentives" to the fossil fuel industry. Like Dick Cheney said, the business of oil is the government's business.

    By supporting the oil industry, I am supporting our wonderful oil producing allies like Russia, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, too. At the same time, I am making things real hard on our enemies like Venezuela and Iran so that we and our good friends can take part of their market share.

    Unfortunately I'm going to have to impose more tariffs on China until they stop playing this hoax on the American people.

  68. @Carl Lee: I detect only one minor error in this description of Trump administration policy. Burning off methane converts it to CO2, so it will be a less effective a greenhouse gas. (As CO2 it will also last millennia longer, but we won't be around to benefit from that.) The bigger problem is not even burning it, just letting it escape into the atmosphere. All this, while collecting that methane and selling it would increase profits! -- but it's too much trouble.

  69. @Carl Lee I surely hope this was a hoax. If not, then I am very sorry for you.

  70. You forgot to mention that the Tariff imposed on China will add to American consumer burden as increased cost and increased inflationary pressures.
    We blame the Chinese, but they didn’t force us to buy their products. It is our corporate bigwigs and marketers, who moved production abroad, as it was easy to add a 400% mark up on a lot of stuff sold here. Even after that exorbitant mark ups, inflation has been non existent. By the way, Prof. Milton Friedman, a Nobel memorial Prize winner, and leading conservative free market economist was vehemently against tariffs. So were all free market Republicans. Times are different now!

  71. The chances of America coming to its senses and doing something about climate change are less than zero. The Republicans will keep fiddling while the world burns. And white evangelicals will keep voting for them no matter what. Trump could kill a baby and eat it on 5th Avenue and they would fall all over themselves praising him for it and making movies about how God chose him to be our leader.

    I’m in my 50s and I don’t have children. If I’m still alive in 20 years it’s going to be mighty interesting watching right-wingers try to explain to their children and grandchildren why they consigned them living in the hellish world this is going to become.

    I hope I’m wrong but I think things are going to get much, much, much worse than people think. As if Trump wasn’t bad enough Brazil is going to elect Bolsonaro, who will destroy the Amazon, aka the lungs of the planet.

    Think there’s a refugee crisis in the world now? You ain’t seen nothing yet. We are going to see a near-complete breakdown of political and social order which will just make it that much harder to adapt to he changes.

    All so the Koch brothers and their ilk could add to their billions.

  72. @Ken Yes, and furthermore, when the Republicans flip, they will blame democrats for everything.

  73. @Ken

    Yeah, but Ken...white evangelicals want to bring about Armageddon. The Trump base wants to destroy the planet. They view climate change and the destruction it is bringing as a success. And frankly...if Nature would direct all of it's disasters at them...I'd be fine with it.

  74. Word.

  75. Mr. Kristof -- Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

  76. So "climate change" as been happening on this "third rock" from the sun for four plus billion years. What's new, right?

    That man had a hand in creating or accelerating the current climate conditions? No way to measure that--i.e., "Greatest Hoax"--and that man--and "all the King's men and all the King's horses"--can change the current "climate change" momentum within any reasonable period of time, say, a hundred or so years--no more than turning the tide on any one of the last five mass extinctions. Welcome to number six.

    Where's that snowball earth when you really need it to cool things down?

  77. @Alice's Restaurant

    First, there is no evidence that climate change ever occurred at this rate. The denialist point that it's always been happening is correct...(but NOT at this rate, always conveniently omitted in their argument).
    Second, no way to measure that? I suggest you study up on Svente Arrehnius, 19th century chemist who did indeed measure this effect. It is just chemistry, it's not up for debate. It's also being measured now. It's been measured for decades.
    I do agree there is no way to change this quickly. It seems to be a mystery to many that food production, leading to a much greater population, hinged entirely on fossil fuels for the last 100 years. If fossil fuel use stopped 100% today, the CO2 already residing in the atmosphere will stay there, and the permafrost thaw will continue unabated, and tens of millions of cattle will soon be slaughtered because of massive food shortages. To truly stop fossil fuels, would mean eliminating ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which grows about 40% of the world's food. Is anyone but a handful actually prepared to live in a world with no fossil fuel products?

  78. @Alice's Restaurant

    As a professional geologist who has more than a passing interest in and knowledge of our planet's history. you clearly are making a false argument by trying vainly to fit a subset of supposed climate observations into a predetermined conclusion.

    Yes our planets' climate has changed significantly in the past, and those changes happened over millions of years in the past. Man and his burning of fossil fuels is now changing the planet's climate in a time-scale measured in decades. And >90% of all climate scientists agree that we have only a few more decades, if that, before we reach one or more climate tipping points (e.g., melting of northern latitude permafrost) where the feedback mechanisms drive the planets climate into a condition that is not amenable to human life as we know it.
    The Earth will survive, its not at all clear homo sapiens will.

  79. I wonder how long it will take the earth to heal itself after humans are gone, having destroyed the earth’s ability to sustain human life.

  80. “...we send our sympathies to all those in its path...”

    Nope, not me, not for any red state that knowingly and continuously votes in climate change-denying governments.

    And before some genius chimes in with “but California and earthquakes!” Exactly, perfect example. Let’s consider how a more progressive state manages scientific reality.

    California doesn’t deny the physics and engineering reality that shoddily constructed buildings are the number one contributor to deaths in a large earthquake, no matter whose deep pockets are hurt. And did those deep pockets of the construction industry ever fight when mandatory new seismic standards and requirements were passed as well as costly retrofitting requirements of older buildings seeking occupancy permits. They all lost to California’s acceptance of the reality of physics. You must design and build for survival in an earthquake and too bad if it costs you extra profit from cutting corners.

    So, California doesn’t need red state “thoughts and prayers” during an earthquake nor as it now turns its substantial scientific might towards mitigating the new climate change threat of wildfires. Science wins, superstition loses. Red states reject California’s embrace of scientific reality to placate petroleum deep pockets, so I’m sure they won’t miss our thoughts and prayers as well.

  81. @left coast finch
    I wouldn't blame states, particularly those like Florida that keep a lot of folks from voting, which means you cant make people prevented from voting responsible for what their "elected" officials do.

    I'd rather blame individuals and the moneyed interests supporting them and support the brainwashing the public. (take a look at Jame Mayer DARK MONEY if you'd like to know more about the Koch Brothers successful drive to brainwash us....)

    There are many folks in Florida who are progressives and who object to their state govt policies (and also to the federal Trump regime as well).

    You need to think concretely, in terms of flesh and blood, and not in terms of what are in the end abstract entities based on regionalism and class (not that different from those based on "race" or any other form of othering)

    Remember the poet Dylan Thomas wrote (about the deaths from the London blitz during WWII) "in death there is no other"? I would add "in pain there is no other".

  82. @left coast finch
    FL isn't red, only 1/3 of its residents are Republican. The governor and legislature are overwhelmingly red, mostly because the urban areas pack in the Dems. FL's urban/rural divide is a lot like CA and WY.

  83. @left coast finch

    I generally share your disdain for deniers of climate change and science. But remember, even in the reddest states, at least 3-4 out of 10 adult residents are Democrats who are subjected to majority rule.

    Also, we in California can't be too smug about our earthquake preparedness. Too many of us don't have any emergency supplies or an evacuation plan. My wife and I went to recent Neighborhood Emergency Response Training (6 free 4-hour sessions) and estimates are an 8.3 quake in SF could kill 10,000+ and hospitalize up to 44,000 in our city alone.

    There aren't near enough local hospital beds let alone all the other emergency supplies and equipment needed on short notice. We've hardened many of our freeway overpasses and bridges but numerous approaches and roadways will crumple or break, debris will block some roadways, and downed power lines may block others. Transportation will be crippled for days if not many weeks.

    Also, we won't have enough fire engines and crews to fight more than a few major fires. That's why they're training civilians to first prepare for their own safety and then to be able to help authorities within their capabilities.

    We WILL need outside support to quickly and effectively recover. Much can come from unaffected communities and the state. But we'll definitely need organized federal efforts over many months.

  84. Here in Washington State there's been a different impact - trees have been impacted by longer dry periods in the summers than before and state scientists are trying to figure out what's killing off Big Leaf Maples for the last ten years.

    I'm willing to bet they find climate change is responsible, but I can wait too. In addition to waiting for their findings I'd suggest they cross local Big Leaf Maples with some of the scrawny ones I spied above Clear Lake, Ca last year. These maples were never going to get to the 80' tall specimens I saw this year near stream beds but they survived the hot dry summers in California so they're already selected for rough summer conditions.

    Hurricanes Michael and Florence were hoaxes created by the Chinese so all that flooding and wind damage should be billed to them (I apologize for the sarcasm if you were harmed by either of these storms).

    The latest lie coming from the liar in chief is that the Democrats are coming for your Medicare so they can insure younger people who don't need care.

    There is no time to lose or prevaricate when it comes to countering Republican lies, or Trump's lies. Some people aren't just going along with the lies for the money, they actually believe them! And I can't think of a time when Republicans ever spoke truth or waited for the smoke to clear before uttering more lies.

  85. @lightscientist66 And remember: Trump just LOVES the uneducated.

  86. Engineers and scientists that put people on the moon, have sent probes out to other planets, and made uncounted discoveries and inventions could have (and in some cases, have started to) found ways to mitigate or reduce climate change by improving energy efficiency, developing other sources for heating and lighting our homes, and alternative materials to petroleum-based plastics. Unfortunately, our government chose to abandon basic research and leave it to corporations who are more interested in maintaining their primary source of wealth. Our citizens opted for convenience over sustainability, and our children will pay a terrible price.

  87. @SDH - I have some good reading for you about things that the government has been doing with our tax money, to increase efficiency and promote development of new cleaner energy and related technologies.

    First is the Department of Energy's "Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy", formed in 1973. Here's a Wikipedia article,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Energy_Efficiency_and_Renewable_...

    but you might want to jump straight down to program references like these two and many others across the map of energy production and consumption:

    15: Office of EERE: About the Wind Energy Technologies Office
    16: Office of EERE: About the Water Power Technologies Office

    Also, there's ARPA-E - the energy-focused advanced research program, which provided seed funding for concepts with promise, but that were too unexplored to attract private investment. The link below is one of three sets of program reviews they summarize.

    https://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=publications/arpa-e-first-seven-years-sampl...

    Topics in this first one are grouped into these headings:
    - Grid-Scale Batteries
    - Transportation
    - Grid Operations
    - Power Electronics
    - Energy Efficiency and Clean Power – Direct and Enabling Technologies

    The federal government has pushed along a lot more of the unprofitable early R&D needed to find the most promising technologies than it gets credit for.

    And don't forget EnergyStar!

  88. While I believe in global warming, the existence of 2 severe hurricanes in 1 season does not prove climate change.
    Were there no 2 serene hurricanes in 1 season before the industrial revolution?

  89. @turbot
    What do you mean, 2 severe hurricanes? You're only thinking of the East Coast. There have been two major hurricanes in the eastern Pacific. Japan and the Philippines in the Western Pacific have been getting inundated too. Just because they haven't hit in your neck of the woods doesn't mean they didn't happen, like a bear doing its business there with no one around.
    It's a global phenomenon. Look at the entirety of storm systems and other climate related activity around the world, and you'll see the trend ratcheting up dramatically.

  90. @turbot An honest person looking at a list of hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. over the last 150 years would conclude that there is no obvious trend.
    The scientists that Mr. Kristof quotes are aware of this and choose their language carefully to obscure the lack of observational evidence that their models are correct.

  91. @turbot
    It's actually pretty easy to prove that there were fewer hurricanes prior to the 21st century. Hurricanes are named alphabetically by year, starting with A. I lived in Florida from 1960-1980. We had Betsy, Cleo, Donna, Andrew.

    In recent years, we've had Katrina, Maria, Sandy, now Michael. I don't ever recall any hurricanes starting with K or M, much less S ! There are definitely more severe hurricanes per season now than there ever were in the 20th century.

  92. "Climate change may be the most important issue we face, reshaping our children’s world. At some point, those calling “hoax” will fade away and we’ll reach a new consensus about the perils. But by then, it may be too late."

    Thank you, I appreciate this column. We can just do what we can individually and together. And vote. And let your representatives know mitigation and preparation is essential. And urgent. For the grandkids! Otherwise it's Climate Chaos here on Planet Titanic...

  93. When I was widowed in 2014, I didn't take pause at the fact that one of my first "moving forward" thoughts was that my partner would not have to face the catastrophic consequences of global warming. When I had a daughter this Spring, the perilousness of climate change struck my heart deeper than it ever had before (as a child of the '80s and '90s, I have been hearing of climate change for almost 30 years, as far reaching as my memories of listening to NPR). Global warming has been on my mind every day since coming of age, and the guilt I feel for more or less assimilating to our facile cultural obliviousness, is nauseating. May we all find the strength to reduce our energy consumption (A/C, dryer, exorbitantly powerful entertainment systems, excessively long-distance shipping of goods), adopt multi-modal public transportation and demand efficacious political reform.

  94. Mr Kristof, thank you and others for trying to sound the alarm on climate change. We will have to explain to our grandchildren some day what we did and didn't do to mitigate this planetary threat.

    But we progressives fail to recognize there is something more important than ever more destructive storms smashing our coastlines, more urgent than sea levels inundating huge areas of southeastern US and virtually every US Navy port in the world, more vital than hundreds of millions of future climate refugees and more desperately important than global food shortages.

    And that is real estate values, especially in Florida and much of the exposed South, from Texas to the Florida Keys to North Carolina.

    The fiction of climate change denial is important to many interests, from coal companies to flood plain developers to certain homeowners.

    The way to change this fiction overnight is to reduce the Federal contribution to disaster relief to 50%, to put more financial responsibility and accountability for disaster recovery in the hands of local government.

    There will be some short term pain, but we will start making better decisions than the paper towel tossing fool in the White House.

  95. In reality, it comes down to dogmatic belief whether one believes in climate change or not -- no science involved. Deniers demand a video tape of Earth 50 years from now as proof that global warming is real. Nothing less will do. And if climate change scientists can't produce that video, deniers chuckle and call the theories a hoax.

    The hypocrisy of the deniers is shown in their willingness to live their daily lives with guesses and assumptions that have far less support than warming theories. I routinely watch many people walk across the street engrossed by smart phones and never consider looking to see if a driver, similarly engrossed, might flatten them. Why not demand that 1 hour forward looking video for the accident that will end your life.

    Oh, I know, the pedestrian example doesn't fit because one can show hundreds of cases of "no look" walking with no dire circumstances. But tell me, with the stakes this high where are we going to find the analogous situation to temperature increases, melting glaciers, and no snow pack to store water for irrigation of crops. It has started.

    We can't back up! "Oh oops, I guess global warming was real," won't cut it. Earth will end up unlivable because of water shortages, crop failures and mass migrations of a few 100 million people as a result. Oh, and I guess I need a video of that too.

  96. Or “fake news,”

  97. @dpaqcluck You are absolutely right. The same people are still waiting for Dr. Blasey's video tape.

  98. @dpaqcluck Those videos are playing every day on my TV. The future is now.

  99. No, no: climate change "may be the most important issue we face" is incorrect. Climate Change IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE WE FACE because it drives all the other, major (the apocalyptic 'four horsemen') issues we are facing today. Denial comes in all forms but mainly from folks who do not want their fossil-fuel-driven profit margins to be compromised in any way as they grab for supply when demand will surely skyrocket. If I hear or read that the "science is uncertain" one more time, I think I'll cringe even more. ALL SCIENCE is "uncertain:" one starts with a hypothesis, attempts to prove or disprove it, and ends up with another question (= another "hypothesis" or 'uncertainty'). What is this with "the science is uncertain" claim?? Perhaps the only phenomenon that needs "certainty" for the fossil-fuel barons is profit at the expense of everything else. That's a 'for certain' denial.

  100. @JD Agree with you, except for one small but important point: In science, one never proves a hypothesis. Scientists try to disprove their hypotheses. To extent that they are unable to do that, their confidence in the truth of hypotheses grows. But you are correct that there is always at least a small amount of uncertainty. Scientific theories are never considered to be absolutely true. I only mention this because it is common for people to miss this subtlety, as you did in your comment. It leads to a lot of confusion and mistaken thinking about science.

  101. @JD: Right. "Climate change", or in plain words GLOBAL HEATING, is so serious that it's quite likely to end civilization within a century if it continues. That means *drastic* action *now*, like requiring solar panels on rooftops and banning coal mining (together with providing employment for coal miners, including those who are languishing without work right now). Those are just two immediate thoughts; there is much more we can do, right now, but the political will is utterly resistant. Public education about the dangerous consequences of global heating is the only way to make things better, but again, the political will is to shut the public's eyes and plow ahead.

  102. Remember one week ago how we were all glued to our TV sets, IPads, Cell Phones, etc watching the Judge Kavanaugh hearings? Our realty show president was so worried about Kavanaugh's family and his life. Ask the people down in Florida now if they really care about these so called judges? The Supreme Court!, Really? All those black robes. Their perfect lives all adorned in black. When your house is six feet under water and there are no roads, stores, food, clothing, are you going to care about Kavanaugh or Trumo? Pretty soon the real judge will be here and like its predicted the suffering is only just beginning.

  103. Baseball fans understand that in the steroid era, you couldn't point to a specific home run and say "that home run was caused by the batter taking steroids." But everyone understood that players who doped had a competitive advantage, and that statistically, the number and power of their home runs was directly related to steroid use. The dice were loaded; fans were outraged.

    I understand why fossil fuel companies and Republican politicians don't want to understand the facts of climate change - there's too much money and power on the line. But why is it so hard for some other people to understand that you can't point to a single storm and say "this storm was caused by climate change," but rather like baseball, we're juicing our climate with carbon dioxide and the results are clear? This past year alone we've had Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, and now Michael. How much more time and evidence do you need?!

  104. @jrinsc That's a great, apt analogy and I will use it next time the opportunity arises, thank you. But also, I think the deniers really know that scientists are right about the anthropogenic aspect of global warming (have Republicans made that term uncool now?), they just need to have an identity and the Cult of Denial provides one, however perverse it may be.

  105. It is all fake news. The hurricane in Florida was just a regular tropical storm and there was no damage. What you see on TV and the press is paid actors and stage sets. The good news is that there is no climate change and Washington need not send any funds to the region. The actors were already paid. But I must admit that the acting and sets looked very convincing.

  106. Right. Just like that bogus landing on the moon thing and that shooting that never happened in Sandy Hook.

  107. @Peter Bohacek some of the CGI was pretty transparent. And I recognized some actors from earlier "disasters". A few were just kids when Mt St. Helens "blew up". It is truly sobering to see them all grown up.

    But you are right, the special effects and acting were mediocre at best and we should send no more money than what they already received.

  108. Thanks for this.
    Today I listened to victims of Michael express horror at the destruction of their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. If we multiply this devastation by millions we may begin to understand what we are up against with unmitigated climate change. And yet, many of the harmed will vote for climate change deniers this November.
    I'm not without hope, but the failure of the American voter to connect the dots is both astounding and seemingly unsurmountable. How do we help the deniers understand?

  109. @Pajarito
    Teach science in the schools and ban the teaching of creationism.

  110. The Earth has experienced cycle of intense cold and periods excessive warming. Significant exterminations have taken place. The problem today is that we too many people on this planet and the we have to deal with finding enough arable land and benign growing conditions in order to feed such large populations. Lot's of luck!

  111. This morning I was out early for my daily run. I have been running this same route for 30 years. This morning and for the past 3 summers I realized how dirty the air has become. I watched the road and lost count of the number of large diesel trucks, large four -door F150 type vehicles, and very large SUV's; all carrying only 1person at a time. All with humongous V6 or V8 engines. Small sedans are almost extinct these days as is anyone who really cares about gas mileage. I always loved this route with its stately homes and beautiful trees. Now the air is so bad and choked with smog just about any time of dayor night. Its time to abandon this route and find another soot and smog free street if its even possible.

  112. @DJ
    For male drivers, the bigger the truck, the smaller the winkie. Word!

  113. @DJ There is no smog-free street.

  114. This column sets out one of the most baffling political (not scientific as it should be) positions I have ever seen. Why on earth are the vast majority of Republicans so adamant about denying climate change? It appears to be rooted in the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel producers who profit from the production and use of pollution producing fuels.

    But why do these fossil fuel produces have such a hold on the rank and file Republicans? I can see Republican officeholders submitting to the bribery and threats of their puppet masters but why does it run so deeply into the ordinary Republican voters?
    This is why people like me think Republicans are stupid.

    If the US was to accept the science - flawed though it might be - and set about addressing climate change and start putting in place technology and industry to correct or lessen our environmental problems, we would likely proceed toward what used to make Republicans happiest: business, industry and moneymaking for owners and executives (also workers) in these industries.

    We could clean up the environment and extend the life of Earth. If the science is wrong, we only clean up the environment. In any case, Republicans make money.

  115. East Coast Republicans are suffering as a direct result of political views they support, i.e. climate change denial, while Democrats equally suffer from what they fought against.

    They both deserve sympathy, but only one group deserves the majority of the blame.

  116. Natural disasters create chaos. Trump thrives on chaos. It thus follows logically that Trump favors accelerated climate change.

  117. For heavens sake, how long can the pot go on calling the kettle black.

    The issue is population. Climate change is but one manifestation of the devastating impact of 7 billion people, a number which continues to grow alarmingly.

    It is human numbers which demand the destruction of land, the emission of carbons, the total ransacking of the earth and most living things … and climate change while important is secondary.

    If tomorrow climate change were brought under control we would still be witnessing the wholesale destruction of the earth.

    There is only one reason liberals wont talk about it. That’s because it goes to the heart of the massive (1 million legal immigrants and the other 1 million illegal immigrants we accept every year. )

    Because the reality is that for the most part it is people of color who are having the most kids worldwide and in this country as well. Therefore following liberals logic, to question it is to be racist.

    The problem is that we have exported the powers of modern medicine and manufacturing but not the mores that we developed to accompany them. Western civilization can have and bring to adult hood countless children, but we don’t because over time we recognize the consequences.

    Not talking about it means we are not really serious about climate change. It’s this blatant hypocrisy which blunts the liberals message.

  118. @Ben Ross True - reducing the population to half would work, but not if you increased everyone's per capita CO2 production to that of the US and oil rich Arab nations. Switzerland, France and Italy produce approximately 4 tons of CO2 per capita per year, China 6, Germany 9 tons, the US 15 tons, Saudi Arabia 16 tons. Ben, do you relate more to the lifestyle of someone from Switzerland or from a Gulf State?

  119. @Ben Ross

    Thanks for your input. I gather that you therefore support free and easy access birth control, as well as keeping abortion legal in order to keep our population down? These traditionally liberal causes are definitely required in order to keep populations low.

  120. First, it's called "Global Warming", not climate change, for the climate over time ALWAYS changes. That term is used becuase thos ein the media found global warming to be too harsh of a truthful term to say to the public. Second, the water temperatures in the gulf of Mexico and particularly in this said are of 85 degrees F. is normal for this time of year and has been for over 100 years or more. Prof Mann shoul dhave been more specific with regards to the statement he made. Sure , global warming affects the oceans on a world wide scale but in this case and in this area of the world it has nothing to do with the strength of the storm, it falls within normal parameters. If you don't want the warming deniers to keep putting out false arguments then please start with yourselves, Mr Kristof for one and Dr Mann the other. Both of you know better than to fudge facts.

  121. @lou andrews:

    It would take too long to refute the many false arguments you have posed above, and then, you would disagree, regardless. . .

    One point: the exact same science that allows you to type a mindless diatribe for all of those to read online is also the platform of climate science. . .

  122. Lou, do you swim in the ocean in Oregon? I swim in California and have done so since 1995. Temperatures in La Jolla typically started at 63 degrees in May and peaked at 69-70 degrees in August. This pattern continued through 2010 or so. In the last 8 years, temperatures have gone up and this year we had 78 degrees in August.

  123. Growing up I was taught that the geometric shape of our planet is roughly spherical and not some Cartesian plane spreading out into infinity. I've also heard that the Great Barrier Reef was formed over a long period of time by millions of individual organisms the aggregate actions of which resulted in one of the world's great natural wonders. I've also been chilly in an empty room that, once filled with other people attending a presentation, became uncomfortably hot and smelly. The beer that manly Supreme Court Justices revere is made by yeast consuming all of the life sustaining elements in their environment, excreting waste, and dying off.

    I've lost my train of thought. What were we talking about again? Oh, yeah, anthropogenic climate change is total nonsense.

  124. I am a broad minded person.
    I can relate and empathize with most positions taken by the right.
    But this anti-intellectualism, this attitude that says that the opinions of politicians, pundits and bloggers is just as valid as the findings of experts, folks that dedicate their lives to finding out how things work, is truly baffling.
    Yes, there is an overwhelming consensus in the findings of the world wide scientific community of climate scientists.
    This is real.
    It is a big deal.
    Donald Trump and Senate republicans do not know better than the scientists.
    And your opinion, Mr Armchair Scientist blogger, don't mean squat.
    Try this:
    When a loved one gets seriously ill, don't waste your time going to see a doctor, ask your congressman what you should do.
    And see how that works out....

  125. @Rich Huff Brilliant comment. But the Cult of Trump may just do it.

  126. One thing I've always wanted to throw into the faces of these R Politicians who all say "I'm not a scientist, but ..." would be "It's obvious you're not, but somehow you still feel qualified to mouth off about it."

  127. What do you call it when someone denies climate change, and then has his or her house destroyed due to the effects of climate change? Karma.

    What do you call people who elect politicians who enact policies that support climate change denial? Accessories to murder.

  128. A few years ago it was possible to envision a Winter Olympics without any snow. In not too many years it may be impossible to have a Summer Olympics as it will be too hot for the athletes to compete.

  129. The politicians denying climate change do so far short-term financial gain. It baffles me that these greedy creeps risk their children' and grandchildren's future to fill their own pockets. That's on me. Nothing should surprise me anymore.

  130. Oh come on!! Florida has been getting hit by damaging hurricanes since the beginning of history and before. To be sure, global warming is real. But suggesting that a single severe weather event like Hurricane Michael is some sort of broadside or payback to global warming deniers is just wrong, both literally and ethically, and it undermines the factual arguments which prove global warming.

  131. KJ, What about last year's hurricane in Houston? What about last month's hurricane in North Carolina? All these are excused as "100 year hurricanes", so how come they keep coming back every year now?

  132. I am so despondent knowing the havoc we’ve wreaked on this planet since the late 19th centuries. And we’re all culpable - we in our throw away society obsessed with personal convenience drive cars that look like they could be used to invade country; discard non disposable waste with nary a thought to its environmental impact ... the list is endless. Those who shop with reusable cloth bags and recycle our waste are fooling themselves if they think they’re making an impact. It’s too much like needing to lose 50 pounds so you quit chewing gum.

  133. @LS You are right we are all culpable. I turned on my air conditioning earlier this (October week) when it was high 80s in northern Illinois. It is supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow. Doesn't seem like we have real fall or spring weather anymore. But like I said. I still want my air conditioning. I'm as guilty as anyone even if I want to think I do more.

  134. Maybe stronger “thoughts and prayers” are needed to repel those 140 mph winds and diminish the storm surge....

  135. The mitigation ship is pulling up anchor, getting ready to set sail. Which side of this impending disaster will you be on?

  136. So how does anyone with brains vote for climate change denier Rick Scott for Florida Senator? How do the great American Exceptions figure this is going to turn around?

    We're looking at increasing devastation leading to total disruption of civilized society. It doesn't just start in 20 years, it's happening now.

    We have children and grandchildren! And yet the American Exceptions amble merrily along, led by Richie Rich, the Bad Boy President, whose entire MO is to do the opposite of what an intelligent, mature, well-informed person would do.

    America is responsible for this climate change. We've caused the lion's share of it through our heavy use of oil over the last 150+ years, and when we realized it was destroying the planet, instead of taking immediate steps to replace it with alternative energy sources and sustainable technologies, we denied it and buried the evidence. Thank the Republican god Reagan for that. The rest of the world, including China, are Johnny-come-latelies.

    Americans actually believe that we’re ENTITLED to destroy the world. If we white people can’t be first anymore, then, by god, we’ll take everyone else down with us.

  137. Mr. Kristof knows in his bones that regardless of surveys, most climate change deniers know that the impacts are already here and just won't admit they are wrong on the issue. They are either making money off a business that contributes to degradation of the environment or don't care about people coming after them and find denying climate change a convenient defense of their behaviors that are accelerating it. Neither of the two groups are going to take any action that diminishes how much money they have in their wallets or forces them to make changes or forces their wants to be reduced in any way. They aren't going to change their actions or be even slightly inconvenienced for the common good, unless forced to by legislation that opposes and regulates them. Nick knows this as well, so I suspect the motivation for this column is to continue to strip away their defenses so that once the fig leaves are gone that are used to make it look like they have some concern about their fellow human beings, all their actions can be seen for what they are (and have been), blatantly selfish and possibly even personally self-destructive if they hang around long enough. We need even the deniers on board for reversal to happen as fast as is needed, so the approach Nick is taking to logically expose how ridiculous their positions are, isn't a bad strategy to see if some can be swung over to the sane side.

  138. I'm sure we can declare these disasters a hoax or ban the federal government from talking about them, which would save U.S. taxpayers a lot of money that should more properly be born by the states that were so sure this wouldn't happen.

  139. Nick,
    Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and North Carolina officials are not alone in their craziness. Here is what your colleague writes:

    "ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism. They know — as all environmentalists should — that history is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power"
    Bret Stephens - NY Times (April 2017)

    "Here’s a climate prediction for the year 2115: Liberals will still be organizing campaigns against yet another mooted social or environmental crisis. Temperatures will be about the same".
    Bret Stephens - Wall Street Journal (November 2015)

  140. Ouch. I'm sure glad every stupid thing I ever thought wasn't preserved for all eternity. You gotta give the guy a break though--im pretty sure he's revised his opinion.

  141. @SPA “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

    I think Stephens "understands", he just cannot admit it and remain himself.

  142. Fact

    Hurricanes have decreased in number and intensity sice 1900.

    Source... NOAA study available on line.

    Check it out .

  143. @obumme

    Checking it out: the Sept 20, 2018 revision does not seem to agree - the total number of storms perhaps but future intensity increases:

    https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/

    Summary

    Sea level rise–which very likely has a substantial human contribution to the global mean observed rise according to IPCC AR5–should be causing higher storm surge levels for tropical cyclones that do occur, all else assumed equal.

    Tropical cyclone rainfall rates will likely increase in the future due to anthropogenic warming and accompanying increase in atmospheric moisture content

    Tropical cyclone intensities globally will likely increase on average (by 1 to 10% according to model projections for a 2 degree Celsius global warming).

    The global proportion of tropical cyclones that reach very intense (Category 4 and 5) levels will likely increase due to anthropogenic warming over the 21st century

    In terms of detection and attribution, much less is known about hurricane/tropical cyclone activity changes, compared to global temperature. In the northwest Pacific basin, there is emerging evidence for a detectable poleward shift in the latitude of maximum intensity of tropical cyclones, with a tentative link to anthropogenic warming. In the Atlantic, it is premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on hurricane activity.

  144. I was just on NOAA and did not see that at all. How about a link and a precise reference obummer?

  145. There must be some kind of payoff by denying climate change, cash etc.

    For Republicans, let it go, they are already lost

  146. Trump will be long gone by the time the worst effects of climate change hit.

    He's different than most of us in that he really doesn't care what happens to humanity once he's not here. If he's dead, we all should be.

    We need to be as loud as possible on climate change in the next 4 weeks. Most reasonable people know Trump is lying and we all have everything to lose.

  147. @Sparky Maybe he is different in not caring but I have family with grandchildren and great grandchildren (just born) who will continue to deny it's happening even though I think they care but can't admit that they have been wrong. And will admit or at least not dispute that weather/seasons are not the same as they were before. But still won't make that last step.

  148. As long as donors with major interests in fossil fuels, such as the Kochs, own the GOP, the GOP will not be interested in what science says. As long as Fox News refuses to report news that contradicts its interests -- as their website failed to report on the new UN Climate report the day it was issued -- an embarrassingly large proportion of our population will be ignorant about basic issues that will affect their lives.

  149. Is it not rather ironic that many of the Republican states in the South supporting Republican climate change denial are also those most likely to be harmed by its effects? Yet another example of people voting against their own best interests... Methinks there lies the greatest "hoax."

  150. @Bert : "...ironic that many of the Republican states in the South ...are also those most likely to be harmed by its effects ..."

    I agree, but there's collateral damage as well. Read about a certain prosperous North Carolina farmer: His migrant workers called emergency personnel desperate "as their mattresses, refrigerators, and other belingings floated by." But he told them not to come, the migrants were just fine. The web address appears below.

    Even in slaveowning days, this would have been seen as shameful, if not a crime. Now, the farmer probably is a local hero, and certainly is a Presidential one.

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/salvadorhernandez/migrant-workers-s...

  151. How about some cartoons:

    A man and his family sitting astride the roof of a house that is nearly underwater, with the water rushing by carrying debris, shouting "This is the greatest hoax ever!".

    A man and his family in a rowboat paddling down a main street where the houses are nearly underwater with floating vehicles drifting by, shouting "This is all a hoax !"

    You get it.

  152. Sometimes the best cure for myopia is to be hit in the head by a two-by-four. Trump will believe in climate change when Mar-a-Lago gets wiped out. It is really unfortunate that so many people in this country subscribe to ignorance.

  153. @Ken L
    Ah but FEMA will rebuilt it for him no matter how many times it is destroyed. Those of us in blue state will pay for it w/ our new “tax cuts” when we can’t deduct all of our state property and income taxes.

  154. It reminds me of Noah. We defile this (not our) beautiful planet and now comes the consequences.

  155. Meh - you reap what you sow. They want to deny it and elect people that deny it - let them all live with it. Zero sympathy.

  156. The next "100 year hurricane" is due in the next year or tow.

  157. Why didn't Trump warn Floridians at that rally when he knew they were in the storm's path? Because he knows that science is opposed to, and an enemy of politics. Lets see what he says if the next one inundates Mar a Lago with 8 feet of water.

  158. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.

  159. @TB Johnson

    For their ignorance.

  160. Hurricane Michael

    I’m safe overall from Hurricane Michael; -
    Live by the sea and you’ll catch the cycle,
    No safety life jackets nor lifeboats for use
    When you hunker down; there is no excuse
    If boating and beaches are in Michael’s ambit
    And after he’s gone what's left is a sand pit;
    No whining for help; just deal with your own;
    Learn to accept what you’ll reap you have sown.

  161. I no longer have any sympathy or donations for these people. They elected Trump. They can ask him for help.

  162. @MoneyRules Nevertheless many of these red state citizens will benefit from our hard-earned taxpayer funds, even though they cry out against "socialism." But I'm sure they won't object to our generous money pouring in.

  163. Wow. I’m ashamed that you are on my side.

  164. So, where does Hurricane Camille stand? A product of global warming, or not? Far greater winds(200 m.p.h) far more damage done and it occured in 1969. Just asking.

  165. Since you ask: Weather prediction is probabilistic, and global climate change means that the probability of warmer weather is increasing rapidly.

    Probability talks about a series of events, not just one event. You can't tell if dice are loaded by rolling them once, you have to roll them many times. In the same way, no single weather event can prove or disprove anything global warming.

    So, no, your example doesn't disprove global climate change. Just saying...

  166. @lou andrews
    Hurricanes are named alphabetically by year, starting with A.
    In recent years, we've had Katrina, Maria, Sandy, now Michael.

    Have a look at the years 1950-2000. Hurricane Camille was devastating, as were Donna, Betsy, Cleo, Andrew. See how many hurricanes there were back then starting with K or M - and forget about S !

    There are undeniably and provably more severe hurricanes per season now than there ever were in the 20th century.

  167. @lou andrews
    And some people survive car crashes without seatbelts.
    Some obese people live to be elderly.
    Look up anecdata, that's all Camille is.

  168. "Some people will say this isn't the moment for politics."

    These are the very same people, who, after a mass shooting, say that it isn't the time to talk about gun control.

    Actually, I don't want them to talk anyway. I just want them to listen.

  169. @R Mandl Sometimes a startling, devastating, fatal event can get people's attention, so that they're willing to listen and to talk politics.

  170. The following bit of reality brought to you courtesy of NOAA's current monthly "State of the Climate" global analysis (August 2018). Where they say "average" they are averaging the entire last century. And when they say things like "record warmest" they mean in reference to the instrument-recorded temperature data going back 138 years.

    "Nine of the ten warmest August global land and ocean surface temperatures have occurred since 2009, with the last five years (2014–2018) comprising the five warmest on record.
    The record warmest August occurred in 2016, with a temperature departure from average of +0.90°C (+1.62°F). August 1998 is the only 20th century August among the ten warmest Augusts on record, ranking as the seventh highest on record at +0.68°C (+1.22°F).

    August 2018 also marks the 42nd consecutive August and the 404th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average."

    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201808

    And their global review for all of 2017 makes it clearer:
    "The year 2017 is also the warmest year without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
    2017 also marks the 41st consecutive year (since 1977) with global land and ocean temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average, with the six warmest years on record occurring since 2010."

  171. @b fagan
    Oh, that’s just a Deep State conspiracy going on at NOAA.

  172. The GOP simply doesn't care -- most of the politicians have chose the money over the interest of their constituents, and there are too many big businesses interests tied to carbon emissions. Money, money, money.

    It doesn't seem to bother deniers that 95% or more of the world's top scientist are screaming this is happening, yet Trump and his ilk don't care. And if Trump says it, and Fox echoes it, the base believes it.

    You can evade reality, but you can not evade the consequences of evading reality.

    Science isn't partisan, and the resulting physics of climate change isn't either.

    Hard to have much hope about this one -- maybe the global community, and some of the states can make a successful serious push for change. We'll see.

  173. After years of reading articles like this one, there are moments when I feel like an insane person. It is the only topic covered that uses expressions like 'threatens to end human civilization' and 'could cause the loss of large sections of the United States', yet we have powerful decision makers making snowballs and using them to create the fossil fuel commercial we live in. It appears that logic, the scientific process, and the death of innocent people, just don't work anymore in swaths of this country. Everything is now about marketing, the only skill our current president possesses and the one required to run the country. As Mr. Kristof points out, it will be 'interesting' to see how many doses of reality it will take to put a dent in the marketing message.

  174. I think it’s a combination of the political being joined with the biblical.

  175. @Ccurtice

    Marketing. Sooner rather than later all this clean up will need to be paid for, and private insurance will eventually bail out of this. That leaves taxpayers alone to pay. Believe me, when the cost is too high, we may finally start to do something about the assumed cause.

  176. Already too little, too late!

  177. "I worry that television coverage in the coming days will be dominated by heroes on boats rescuing widows on rooftops. Yes, that human drama is riveting — but it doesn’t address the larger problem"

    Not to forget all of those TV Anchor people, mainly men, who have to show their (macho) bona fides by breathlessly reporting the huge danger of the hurricane.

  178. @Peter J.

    Considering history it is always astounding what behavior is considered great in certain period of time, and looks absolutely insane 30 years or 300 years later.

  179. I am concerned about climate change, but our positions on climate change should not be based on day to day, mercurial shifts in the weather. Climate change is serious but not because we just witnessed an inferno of a hurricane in the Panhandle and beyond.

    For example, the past summer in New York did not seem especially hot as we did not have any days in which the mercury neared 100. Did that mean that climate change was in retreat. Of course not. Indeed, this past summer, Scandanavia's climate seemed positively Carribean.

    Around 1974, Time or Newsweek ran a front page article about a coming drastic decline in temperatures. When I read the article, I recalled that on Easter, in 1970, we had three inches of snow. Nevertheless we didn't see a new ice age. Indeed when Easter came around in 1976, the temperature in Central Park hit 96.

    I could list innumerable incidents in which the date and the temperature were stunningly incongruent, but if I do not relent in displaying my quasi encylopedic memory, you guys will decide I have aspergers.

  180. @David Gottfried

    Stop trying to count angels on the head of a pin.

  181. @David Gottfried The OCEANS are warming, friend, due to man-made activity. Hence, the hurricanes.

  182. @David Gottfried
    Our warming atmosphere becomes more volaltile, like a slowly warming pot of soup on a stove heading towards boiling. More volatility, faster wind vortices - and in some case extremes of temperature, hot AND cold, in short periods of time, although the average continues to rise.

  183. No one is "denying climate change"--a constant for more than 4 billion years. But consider in that span of time the great oxygenation period--much higher than today. So what was the battle plan for that back in the day? Such a fool's errand this notion that man can change CO2 and Methane levels enough to affect the momentum of current "climate change"--easier to stop the spin of the earth, which it is doing ever so slowly. Enjoy the ride, the world wags on.

  184. @Alice's Restaurant
    We've made changes that created the change, we can look to make changes that improve it. It's not easy - but that doesn't make it any less essential.

  185. @Alice's Restaurant
    Lightning can cause fires.
    But this does not mean that therefore the "notion of" arson is a "fools errand" or a some kind of conspiratorial hoax.

  186. @Alice's Restaurant

    Lightning can cause fires.
    But this does not therefore mean that the "notion of" arson is some kind of "fool's errand" or conspiratorial hoax.

  187. I'm 67 and hope to be around for more than a few years and with a little luck I'll be checking out as the environment deteriorates to almost unlivable conditions according to the recent UN study. Shouldn't prospective parents take this into account before having a child?

    I'm sure that there are going to quite a few people spending the next 10 years trying to get back to where they were before today's disaster. Best wishes to them.

  188. @Steve
    By expecting prospective parents to not have children, which i agree with (also considering we're zooming toward 9 billion), you're asking them to accept the notion that their lives are doomed. That's a devastating notion that precludes hope.

    Growing up, we never considered the future as anything but bright.

  189. @Steve

    The situation would also be helped by not building flimsy wooden structures so close to the water ... move inland; build to last.

  190. "...don’t we have a responsibility to mitigate the next disaster?" A responsibility yes but probably not a solution. However what we do have and no one really talks about is our responsibility to mitigate disasters 50, 100 years from now. This train apparently won't turn around soon but why can't we feel for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. I do and daily feel terrible about what they most likely will experience.

  191. Senator Inhofe has likened belief in climate change and global warming to heresy against his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, asserting that the "arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

    That's the level of thinking from the then Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, a no-nothing installed by the Republican Senate majority mainly to poke a stick in President Obama's eye. Hell of a job, Jimmy.

  192. @Mark Hugh Miller

    That a pea brain like that is a Senator puts our Nation to shame.

  193. @Mark Hugh Miller

    I would have said that Imofe is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the US Senate. After watching the Kavanaugh hearings, I am no longer sure about the rankings. But he is still in the top ten. Shame on Oklahoma.

  194. "Climate change may be the most important issue we face, reshaping our children’s world."
    There's no "may" about it.

  195. I disagree that "all this is uncertain". I am a chemist and graduate environmental scientist who devoted my career to environmental protection. Any chemist who looks at the infrared absorbance spectrum of CO2 and methane would conclude that the higher the concentrations of those molecules that are in the atmosphere would cause it to trap more heat. This is basic undergraduate science. I appreciate your efforts and hope they have some effect. I fear the people who should hear them are not there. They are tuned out to whatever their pleasure for news they agree with.

  196. @David

    The basics of the science are well understood, but we are still working out the speed and amplitude of coming impacts.

    And uncertainty is not our friend as the most respected glaciologist in the US explained here. From a conversation held a few months ago with Michael Mann and Richard Alley. A few comments by Alley below.

    "If we don’t change our ways we’re expecting something like 3 feet of sea level rise in the next century, and it could be 2 and it could be 4 and it could be 20.

    The chance that we will cross thresholds that commit us to loss of big chunks of West Antarctica and huge sea level rise is real.

    So when you start doing “Well you’re not sure,” but there’s a chance of really bad things and the uncertainties are mostly on the bad side, could be a little better or a little worse or a lot worse, but we’ll be breaking things."

    https://youtu.be/l2yclMcDroQ?t=47m4s

    The same may be said about most impacts from global warming, could be a little better than we think, a little worse, or a lot worse.

    There’s no a lot better.

  197. We’ve been seeing numerous impacts catching many scientists by surprise with how soon they are occurring. In 2014 two independent teams of scientists reported that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is likely irreversibly retreating. 3.3 meters of sea level rise equivalent of ice there is being destabilized by warming oceans and energy is going into the net melting of ice all over the planet.

    Corals may not survive this century of warming and acidifying oceans, and droughts and floods linked to global warming—and conflict linked to those droughts—have already caused four countries to face famine.

    Because of the decades to millennial long lag between a climate forcing and our feeling the effect, due to the thermal inertia of the ocean and response time of the ice sheets, the effects we are feeling now are largely just the beginning of the result of emissions from the 20th century. And emissions have been increasing steadily for decades.

    We are also seeing numerous amplifying feedbacks: loss of albedo (heat reflectivity) from ice melt, permafrost melt, methane release and massive wildfires; the Earth is starting to wrest any possible further human control of the climate away.

    We're about out of time on this, if not already, and leaders are not only still acting as if this is not a planetary emergency, but some are acting as if there isn’t a problem at all.

  198. The critical issue of our times is climate change. It is absolutely incredible to me that trump can completely ignore this danger, even as Florida sinks into oblivion because of it. Gov. Scott bought into this view and I wonder if he's changed his mind yet, as he sees families displaced and homes and communities destroyed. What's it going to take, I wonder. Even the furious voice of Mother Nature seems to be diminished in this world of disbelieving republicans.

  199. There is a very good, but unfortunate reason, for the campaign against science and the acceptance of climate change: the oil in the ground would be worth a lot less if we stop using it so much. Right now, we use oil like a dying man would use water in a desert. Anything we can get, we gulp down. If climate change is proven, or accepted as proven, then there will be a lot fewer billionaires like the Koch brothers. They HAVE TO BELIEVE that it is a hoax because they would suddenly lose a lot of their net worth. Even though they are both old and bound to not be around all that much longer, their money matters more than anything else to them.

    This same sort of thing happened behind the scenes when AT&T was one company and conspiring to hold up the introduction of fiber optics in the US. (You didn't know that happened? It did and it was the main reason the old AT&T was broken into pieces.) AT&T didn't want fiber optics to come along because it would, first, devalue the company and its massive holdings of copper wire, one of the main assets of the company. Then, they pushed back against fiber by saying that, hey, if fiber can handle 10,000 long distance phone calls at once, then the charge should be the same as one call on the old system times 10,000. They intentionally made it too expensive to use as long as possible

    People don't get rich by being dumb, usually. The Koch brothers will be long gone from earth by the time change is really felt, so what do they care?

  200. In the last week, we have learned that climate change estimates are as wrong as wrong can be, and the earth is heating far faster than we have known. That tells us that our projections are anything but accurate.

    If the earth could be heating twice as fast as we thought, it could be heating twice as slow as we thought -- the margin of error is huge. Our estimates are way too rough and those who profess certainty are way too confident, plain and simple.

  201. @michjas So go to bed and forget it?

  202. @michjas

    You misunderstood the news this week, which showed which changes we could expect with a smaller temperature change than the one used for most of the predictions. No reasonable person could accept your irrational conclusion.

  203. @michjas -- no, we have NOT " learned that climate change estimates are as wrong as wrong can be, and the earth is heating far faster than we have known."

    Read what the IPCC report SAYS by actually reading it, not what some silly blog site you follow says:

    https://www.ipcc.ch/scripts/_session_template.php?page=_48ipcc.htm

    It says that it will be extremely difficult to limit the increase to 1.5 °C , that much greater effort would be required than the world is making now. This is "world of duh."

    Your "could be" argument is silly. If your car is broken and won't run, arguing that it "could be going 120 mph" is witless ... unless you fix it.

  204. Please don't use the term "uncertain" when it comes to climate change. The devastation is certain, and it's happening now. Scientific progress is certain. All of those who have suffered directly know the reality, but unfortunately, societies always depend on the wealthy few in power to make a difference. We will need to work on this within the larger population, with the help of scientists, but it's really an international/global problem. It's time to think outside the box, because relying on politicians is getting us nowhere. Scientists, keep stepping up.

  205. Something to think about as we further warm a planet where our food is already stressed by heat. A population of a few million human hunter-gatherers was apparently beyond the carrying capacity of the planet as many places where we showed up the megafauna disappeared.

    Agriculture, which developed around 10-12,000 years ago when large climate oscillations settled down, allowed us to double our population many times into the billions.

    But agriculture faces big challenges if we don’t change our ways soon (1), as do our fisheries, and if they both decline significantly, forcing us back to being largely hunter-gatherers, history tells us that out of every 1000 people you see maybe one survives.

    1 IPCC Western N America drought 1900-2100
    http://icons.wxug.com/hurricane/2013/drought-western-us-1900-2100.png

    Except this time it won’t be meat on the hoof with Mastadons and large, flightless birds and picking up lobsters off of New England beaches.

    Going back to hunting and gathering during the current 6th mass extinction is poor timing, so the one in a thousand could prove wildly optimistic.

  206. Denying Climate Change is not understanding science, is rejecting the results of countless projects and research programs pointing to the warming of the Earth, is not being able to fathom the catastrophic consequences of climate change and finally it is shear ignorance of a Nation that is at war with science, Knowledge, Evidence & Reason but at peace with Dogma!

  207. Everyone knows that now is not the time to be discussing climate change - it's much more important to send Thoughts and Prayers.

  208. Climate change is implicated in ALL of the past major extinction events. If there are skeptics out there-and nobody credible who really understands the science is skeptical-my question for you is this: given the catastrophe that awaits us if you are wrong, how do you justify not trying to prevent this? It's crazy to me that this gets pushed into the background, while what takes center stage are things like the NFL protest, the wall, immigration, etc. Am I the only one who sees this craziness?

  209. @Leo
    Coal was linked to Earth’s worst extinction, the end-Permian event which turned Earth into basically a lifeless rock for millions of years.

    From a paper in the journal Geology: "Massive release of hydrogen sulfide to the surface ocean and atmosphere during intervals of oceanic anoxia"

    Abstract
    "Simple calculations show that if deep-water H2S concentrations increased beyond a critical threshold during oceanic anoxic intervals of Earth history, the chemocline separating sulfidic deep waters from oxygenated surface waters could have risen abruptly to the ocean surface (a chemocline upward excursion).

    Atmospheric photochemical modeling indicates that resulting fluxes of H2S to the atmosphere (>2000 times the small modern flux from volcanoes) would likely have led to toxic levels of H2S in the atmosphere.

    Moreover, the ozone shield would have been destroyed, and methane levels would have risen to >100 ppm. We thus propose (1) chemocline upward excursion as a kill mechanism during the end-Permian, Late Devonian, and Cenomanian–Turonian extinctions, and (2) persistently high atmospheric H2S levels as a factor that impeded evolution of eukaryotic life on land during the Proterozoic."

    https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article-abstract/33/5/397/2...

  210. I worked in documentary films in the late sixties when the environment was becoming a popular topic. We interviewed scientists who predicted the very thing that is happening now if we did not change our ways. We did nothing then and now that we see the results we are still doing nothing. I wonder what those men of science would think now with the President of the United States calling climate change a hoax while Hurricane Michael is ripping through the South.

  211. @Robert

    When Maria hit Puerto Rico Trump seemed most concerned with insulting San Juan's mayor, who happens to be a woman.

    Typical behavior for him considering his misogyny.

  212. ‘President Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax.’ A politician sees politics in every thing. He cannot rise above so as to understand the implications of scientific findings. Consistent denial of climate change only aggravates environment as the days pass by.

  213. We are people of science. Science says we can't say a hurricane is caused by or made worse by climate change. But we say so anyway because it serves our policy goal. We are people of science.

  214. @Alan Tropical cyclones derive their strength from warm water and much of the resulting damage is due to storm surge. Add heat to the system and a higher base sea level and you get more destructive storms. I don’t think one can say that global warming caused Hurricane Sandy, but ocean temperatures were several degrees above normal for both Sandy and typhoon Haiyan and sea levels were higher than before the Industrial Revolution, so global warming exacerbated the storms. The extra foot or so of sea level rise on the US East Coast caused Hurricane Sandy to flood an additional 25 square miles. (one foot of sea level rise, averaged globally moves the shoreline inland 300 feet, it’s worse in places like S Florida and Bangladesh). Another interesting thing about Sandy. Changes in the northern polar jet stream, perhaps due to Arctic ice decline, allowed Sandy to follow an unusual, and unusually damaging course; directly into land with the dangerous semi-circle of the storm piling water ashore. As if that weren’t enough, these systems are slowing down and holding more moisture so we’re seeing unusually large amounts of rain in storms like Harvey last year in Houston and Florence this year in the Carolinas. Katrina and Sandy didn’t spur us to action and Katrina killed 1,836 people. If we wait to act until a category 6 hurricane plows through NYC or Miami on top of 1-2m of sea level rise it will be a little late.

  215. @Alan "Science says we can't say a hurricane is caused by or made worse by climate change" Science does *not* say this. As a person of science I am telling you we *can* determine if a hurricane was made worse by climate change and that is exactly what Professor Emanuel is saying. Climate change is making severe weather, hurricanes included, more severe. I don't really expect to change your mind because I'm sure you find your quip exceedingly clever. Unfortunately, since I have been teaching earth systems for several decades now, sometimes I just can't stop my fingers from typing.

  216. A fine example of a climate denier’s lie, hidden in lucid and non-hyperbolic language. The fact is that science can link greater occurrences of hurricanes and their increasing devastation to climate change. We are people of science. Accept the facts.

  217. The first step is to stop looking for new sources of fossil fuels. If we burn just the ones we've found we'd melt the entire Antarctic Ice Sheet, raising sea levels 57 meters from there alone. It would take awhile, but for the first millennium sea levels would rise on average about 3 meters per century. There's a paper on that "Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet" http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/8/e1500589

  218. Unfortunately, when it comes to climate change science, the results of extrapolations of measurable observations over time do not seem to sway most people. The data are too abstract and change too slow for most to feel directly threatened. Witness recent hurricanes ravaging the states with the strongest political opposition to acknowledging climate change risks. It has not helped that much of the climate change argument is over how much change may be occurring naturally and how much change is due to mankind's activities on Earth. Likewise, powerful economic interests such as those that supply the carbon we consume, are likely to oppose change if it affects their bottom lines. So, they throw up alternative scenarios to confuse the issue because they know that science can never be perfect - it can't be because humans aren't. So do we let profit margins dictate the fate of our species instead of relying on science? Regardless of whether climate change is mostly natural or mostly man-made, the speed at which it is occurring is the key thing; that's because its pace far exceeds our ability to adapt to the effects of higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Mankind will be just as extinct regardless of how much or how little climate change is from human activities. Are we really so arrogant that we are willing to gamble that our species can survive an ever-increasing amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide? Are we feeling lucky today?

  219. Whether or not you believe in Climate Change, the fact that climate is changing is real. Instead of arguing whether it’s a natural phenomenon or man made the priority should be on tackling the issues that worsen the symptoms of climate change, next to adhering to the Paris Agreement. A deadly climate doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor. Every one and every thing will perish sooner or later given the circumstances.

  220. I hope Kristof is not the lone voice this hurricane season warning about global warming. The press needs to drive this issue home every day until more people are as 'woke' to a planet in peril as a result of human made footprints as they are to issues of race and gender. The UN report that came out last week was clear: Now is the time to act. It seems to me that the issues around Climate Change are in need of a great PR job that can remove it from being the political football outlined by Kristof that it's been for the last two decades. Give it a new name; distill the complexity to simple steps we can take, and most importantly, create a new Environmental movement, the way we saw in the 70s and 80s that led to recycling, etc. We can do this. We must do this. Even the Bible thumpers like their parks and their seasons, and if you explain that our pollution is harming Nature in a way God most certainly did not intend, we should be able to fight the Koch brothers menacing onslaught that persuades people that global warming is a "hoax." We can't keep kicking this can down for the next generation to deal with -- the time is now, and the place to start is with the press. Gov. Scott of Florida and Trump should be inundated with questions from the press: is the intensity of Michael a result of climate change?

  221. Just as three storms colliding make for a more devastating impact as evidenced by the Perfect Storm, so to does the collision of three damaging political tenets, each a lie and each individually damaging, but combined, the potential of annihilation not just devastation. The denial of both fact and science is the first storm, unreasoned yet accepted by the believers as fact in itself. To what end can only be surmised though political and economic greed seems a good place to start, but if the other side believes in science, our side must not just silently disagree but act as quickly and irrationally as possible to undo policy and regulation based on it. Secondly, globalism becomes the bogeyman that justifies the outdated and dangerous tribalism we call nationalism. We must protect our borders and our workers and our industries and so on. Our very identity depends on it and ours is the only identity worth identifying with, sound the alarmist pols as if a line drawn on the ground will be respected by nature of any kind. The third storm, intellectual apathy, both bolsters the first two but separately cedes individual thought and ultimately, individual and societal control to those who should not have it by reason of ineptitude or motivation. The examples are myriad and the end-state always consistently devastating. The solution requires acceptance of reality, understanding the global nature of the problem and solution and most importantly, the will act.

  222. @Medium Rare Sushi "... our very identity depends on..." There's the core problem: humans have a need to "identify" themselves, to "be somebody", and that need expresses in an infinite, albeit arbitrary, spectrum of self-conceptions, some of which are relatively benign but most of which are skewed in ways poisonous to the health of the individual and by extension the larger group (all of us together, mankind). Just as the Constitution has inherent, structural flaws that may prove fatal (e.g. the Electoral College), so the human person has a built-in flaw, a compulsion to identify, that is also possibly fatal on a global scale. We need to outgrow that flaw, but in fact we inflame it via mass media and so are vulnerable to demagogues who exploit it.

  223. As a New Yorker transplanted here 5 years ago, I can attest that this is the most corrupt state in the US. A state government that has not only ignored climate changes led by a governor who forbids the use of such terminology yet continues to develop coastal cities, like Miami, that in 10 years,or less might just be submerged. In many ways this is a State divided-the more socially, environmentally conscious South vs. the more red-leaning north and panhandle.It's jut hopeful that Scott loses the Senate seat and that the Democrats take the Governor's position. It is the only hope that there might be some less greed and more responsibe leadership for this state.

  224. @Edward Calabrese -- Miami will not be submerged in 10 years -- but the lowest areas already experience "sunny day flooding" ... and expensive measures will only be stopgaps https://www.businessinsider.com/miami-floods-sea-level-rise-solutions-20... Many of these measures are being opposed and stopped by locals too https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/... 50 years from now much of Miami will be valueless -- nature will be reclaiming it with mangrove swamps.

  225. @Edward Calabrese Actually your coastal S Florida area only exists because of drainage of the Everglades and landfill which create a host of ecological problems. Low lying landfill communities like Palm Beach are not sustainable naturally. And as a newcomer you may not realise the tremendous power to finance political actions that corporate S FL interests in league with republicans and red politicians based in the Miami area, Palm Beach County, Ft Lauderdale exercise. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140530-everglades-resto... http://discover.pbcgov.org/publicsafety/dem/Flood/Types-Causes-Flooding....

  226. We are headed for a huge population crash (which is what happens when a species multiplies to the point where it damages its environment and reduces its carrying capacity). Some countries and some parts of countries are in better shape to avoid the worst of the crash than others, but they may be overwhelmed by refugees from areas that become more and more unlivable. Our ethical and theological systems will be stressed and undergo changes we do not want to think about. They could help us deal with the crash but are unlikely to do so.

  227. A good book,"The End of the World and Other Catastrophes," looks at many possible (and mythical) ends, but it identifies climate change as the one that is already in progress.

  228. Donald J. Trump is indifferent to the longer term implications of climate change for one reason: He won't be here. It's frightening to have to assess the president of the United States in such stark and simple terms, but Donald Trump is a very simple man.

  229. @Alan R Brock It can't happen soon enough

  230. And an entirely selfish man.

  231. The market will solve the climate problem, if that's what it is. As soon as somebody figures a way to make a buck out of it we're headed for climate nirvana--and you can be sure somebody will because, where there's a will, there's a way. In fact, if planetary cooling becomes profitable we're headed for an ice age! The market is your friend, trust it.

  232. @Ronald B. Duke As has been written *many* times by many experts, the "market" is broken because it has externalized the costs of climate change and has incentivized "growth" regardless of the actual quality of life value of the growth or the fact that endless growth is impossible on a finite planet. I'm all for markets. Markets are a very clever way to provide decision making in the face of deep uncertainty. However, unregulated markets will *not* get us out of this problem. What you're hearing from science is that we *must* modify our markets by including the costs of climate change via some sort of "carbon tax" or "carbon dividend" or whatever language lets conservatives sleep at night. We must also stop chasing the false god of endless growth and decouple human progress from consumerism. Markets also depend on informed and engaged consumers or the market becomes little more then a rigged con game. We have already delayed several decades too long to avoid some rather unpleasant outcomes. Continued dithering and "waiting for the markets" can, of course, turn "quite bad" into " apocalyptic". Obviously, this sort of systemic transformation is *very* hard. However, our system *will* transform one way or another. Either we manage a rationale transformation or we collapse. Those are the choices remaining. Status quo, and "waiting for Godot", is just a path to collapse at this point.

  233. @Ronald B. Duke -- "Defying Gravity" is a fabulous show tune -- love it. There's no way to do it, no matter how much "will" you have. Ditto the laws of quantum mechanics that give CO2 & methane their absorption spectra. Ditto the laws of chemical thermodynamics. The only way to stop the warming is to greatly reduce CO2 and methane emissions.

  234. And 'markets' are easily corrupted.

  235. One ought not (as this column unfortunately does) to conflate skepticism with denial. The scientists who figured out the human influence on climate (between the 1890s and the 1980s) were skeptical. Deniers of climate science, johnny-come-latelys to the "discussion," are anything but skeptical. They hate science or love to lie about it or both, but expend little reason, objectivity or critical analysis in the process. This can be readily seen in the absurdly inconsistent pretenses and deceptions they make: climate change doesn't exist, or exists but is all natural, or is man-made but that is good... somehow all at the same time.

  236. If you want to know what is real ask scientists. When 99% of the climatologists agree, I am going to take their word for it. Here is why: I know nothing about the climate, but I was a scientist. I can tell you for sure that one thing scientists do not typically do is make up evidence. They are actually a fairly conservative group usually preferring to wait for more evidence. When 99% say the same thing, its real.

  237. Seen from space reveals the Earth for what it is. A dynamic, closed loop terrarium enlivened by energy inputs from the sun, as well as from internal (to the terrarium) sources. All of its dynamic systems strives for one thing; balance. Energy inputted into the equations of that system ultimately yields balance as its output. We call the answer to these equations Nature. But balance is part of a dynamic, ever changing state. It is not a static system; it will vary as the energy inputs do. And that is what we are doing. Our carbon addicted civilization is pumping massive amounts of energy into Earth's systems. Those systems work on time frames we can barely perceive, but they are immensely powerful forces that can (and do) reshape planets. All that we do, are doing, is adding energy which is even now rippling through them. The result is our terrarium is beginning to grind its way to a new balance. By the force of sheer numbers; ignorance and rapacious lifestyles we have set wheels in motion folks. Wheels which, in seeking to redress the imbalances we have created, will mercilessly grind us down. The world is setting up to change; we'd do best to understand this and adapt (as humans always do). Adapt, change our habits, or die. Such is the implacable aspect of Natures equations. John~ American Net'Zen

  238. @John Well said, John. But remember, death itself is an essential, a fundamental, ineluctable aspect of Nature's equations, our human aversion to it notwithstanding. Existence as we know it is finite -- nothing lasts (organic or inorganic, earthly or cosmic), all is in constant flux, life feeds on and so needs death. We don't know why it is so arranged, but that's the fact of finite existence. Our efforts to make the finite infinite may be the ultimate futility (in a philosophic sense), but even those efforts are also no lesser function of the "Nature equations". Death is "natural" and so is avoiding it. So to me the Buddhist goal of "ending suffering" -- or perhaps more practicable: reducing suffering -- is a more realistic endeavor than avoiding death itself. And it's something we CAN do. I know your advice is good; reality-based adaptation (we are intelligent creatures, after all) is the best way to minimize the sum total of suffering inherent in life. If only tribal identification and the resulting politics allowed it.

  239. One of the largest impacts of climate change is and will be mass human migrations. Places become increasingly inhabitable, social and political forces make them more unstable because local governments cannot manage the problems. Civil wars and insurrections follow. People migrate to secure a sustainable economic livelihood and to escape political instability. And Presidents just want to build walls.

  240. The US had the highest rate of emissions decline last year. What did the rest of the world do? Europe and Asia had increased emissions. Despite how Trump feels, coal isn’t making a comeback. It was replaced by cheaper, lower polluting natural gas. The vast majority of new energy coming online in the US is renewable. We are already making the changes needed to reduce our carbon footprint. What doesn’t please people is that we are making these changes without upending our society. That was the great hope of the climate alarmists. They wanted a reason to remake America to fit their vision.

  241. @John Actually, because of all the leakage between the fracking fields and the power plant, gas is no less dangerous than coal. And our "highest rate of emissions decline" may be true, but you have to bear in mind that our per capita energy use is by far the largest in the world, and the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to keep it that way.

  242. @John -- you are correct that European emissions went up in 2017, look here for data: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/8869789/8-04052018-BP-EN... "Largest falls in CO2 emissions in Finland and Denmark, highest increases in Malta and Estonia According to Eurostat estimates, CO2 emissions rose in 2017 in a majority of EU Member States, with the highest increase being recorded in Malta (+12.8%), followed by Estonia (+11.3%), Bulgaria (+8.3%) Spain (+7.4%) and Portugal (+7.3%). Decreases were registered in seven Member States: Finland (-5.9%), Denmark (-5.8%), the United Kingdom (-3.2%), Ireland (-2.9%), Belgium (-2.4%), Latvia (-0.7%) and Germany (-0.2%)." This was a small upward blip on a downward trend better than that of the USA. Malta is too small to matter. Estonia and Bulgaria shifted back toward coal due to increased prices from Russia. Spain and Portugal experienced prolonged heat waves, with high demand they supplied with coal.

  243. @jdWhat's wrong with using the most energy?What's wrong with being the most comfortable, civilized, responsible country on the planet?

  244. The choice is continued withdrawal into a circle the wagons America first policy, or reach out to the rest of the world to work together to solve this and other global issues. November is the critical turning point to determine who we are as a Nation.

  245. Of course in fighting global warming through the drastic reduction of fossil fuel use, we will at the same time improve the quality of our air, our water, our health and the health of future generations of every species. Maybe we should just rebrand the effort the new "iclimate" -sign on a few celebs, start a Go Fund Me for the earth, and print up some cool tees with soy ink.

  246. @diggerand then chip in $54 trillion to save the UN nations.

  247. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  248. I’m confident that capitalism will eventually win out, the flip side to this is it will be slow and very messy getting there. When Banks and Wall Street will no longer write mortgages for costal property and insurers run for the hills the game will be over. Most of the current crop of Republican deniers will be dead and buried but nothing will change the outcome.

  249. @Chris that is already happening. Some oceanfront property on Cape Cod has vastly decreased in value due to the larger storms which have destroyed the dunes the house were built upon. We regularly witness houses falling onto beaches here. A beautiful home with speracular ocean views can be bought on the cheap if you are willing to take the chance.

  250. I have lost all empathy for those who live in areas negatively affected by weather crises. For me that's probably the greatest effect of the "climate change" hoax that they so adamantly claim!

  251. Except that our tax dollars continue to keep them propped up: Fema continues rebuilding anything affected by natural disasters.

  252. @vincentgaglione Super storm Sandy hit NYC. Before you cast stones consider that you may be one of those people.

  253. Thank you for once again writing a column dealing with the very important topic of climate change and global warming. Unfortunately, no matter how strong the science supporting global warming, no matter how frequent and destructive the weather events like hurricane Michael and no matter how many columns you and others write about it, nothing will be done about global warming as long as right-wing Republicans are in charge of our government. Not until Democrats are in full control in Washington are we likely to see progress in correcting the causes of global warming. Now is the time to start. Get out and vote for Democrats.

  254. When people say they 'don't believe in' climate change, I think they are really saying they don't believe in scientific methods, or science at all. I think the war on science waged by extreme fundamentalist Christians, and by politicians owned by the oil industry and the Koch brothers has been effective. I also think it is too late. Within the next 40 years it is projected by scientists it will all accelerate and we will see even greater problems than we are seeing now with super storms, sea level rise, storm surges and flooding, famines, droughts, forest fires, etcetera. I hope the anti science people (including the current president) come to their senses in time to at least begin planning how to mitigate these disastrous effects of climate change. Perhaps if we stop talking about whether they 'believe in' climate change and ask them why they don't 'believe in' science it would help them get beyond their primitive thinking style and into reality. Just a thought.

  255. @Ellen Hi Ellen, thanks for your comments, however I don't think it's a denial of science that is the problem. For Conservatives the issue is that mitigating some of the effects of climate change will require government policies and initiatives that will change how society lives. It will also require countries to come together with an integrated plan to reduce carbon emissions. Conservatives simply can't stomach the fact that it will be the government, and world co-operation that's required to prevent catastrophic damage to the world and society, you see, unless they're getting a cheque from FEMA for their demolished house, they don't believe in government or society.

  256. @Ellen Hi Ellen, I don't think it's that they don't believe in science, it's that they don't believe in government. Climate change will require us to change our lifestyle based upon decisions and directions supplied by national governments as well as global agreements between countries. That's what Conservatives can't stomach, first that it will require the government, whom they hate except when FEMA is cutting them a cheque for their flooded house. Secondly, it would mean that all those dastardly Liberals were not only correct, it would mean you require a "Socialist" approach to solving the problem. They're quite willing to let the planet crumble before they'll agree to a "socialist" solution to anything.

  257. Don't you find it interesting that in the 21st century, a creature with our level of consciousness (brought here to this place BY SCIENTIFIC ENDEAVOR) can still be willfully ignorant enough to believe things in and out of existence? Including the very SCIENCE that---let's see.... ...facilitates a longer, never more carefree/disease-free life; has transformed technologies and economies from agrarian roots, to Industrial-to-Digital Ages in less than 2 centuries, increased farming technologies/methodology that facilitates feeding a human population quadruple what it was just a century ago; makes it possible to get anywhere in the world in hours, can now peer billions of human-years back in time at the birth of the universe, as well as send probes and humans into space, and have connected the entire planet with personal hand-held digital portals to the world... ...but now, when that same science reminds us of the consquences of unabated growth in a finite world, then conveniently, science isn't to be trusted. If the dissenters were all Amish or Mennonites, that would be understandable, though this human dilemma is precisely why they've adopted the life they have. When the dissent comes from---and I can hardly make myself even type it--- a PC/handheld, lamenting how scientific discovery is wrong, that's a plunge into human self-indulgence, hypocrisy, and stupidity that even the most clever can't spin their way out of.

  258. The anti science conservative will hold their beliefs even while cowering in the shelters, bailing out their basement or chain sawing downed trees. The problem with climate change is it's very slow and incremental and for people who cannot think further than next month, they cannot see the end game and have no comprehension of science and models. Politicians cannot see further than the next election. A potent confluence of willful ignorance.