Are you tired of nightly news reporting horrible weather disasters and never mentioning climate? You need a real meteorologist like Nick Humphrey. Nick lives in the American heartland, Nebraska, just wrecked by floods. We go from harsh new weather around the world to climate change and back.
NICK HUMPHREY METEOROLOGIST
From Lincoln Nebraska, we welcome Nick Humphrey to Radio Ecoshock.
THE CONVERSATION NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO HAVE
One of Nick’s April articles spread around the Net. It’s called “The Conversation No One Knows How to Have.” What is that impossible conversation?
ANOTHER DEDICATED VIDEO BLOGGER – Jim Tanya Qually-McHenry
There is a video blogger in the Northern U.S. who goes out on his bicycle every Friday to call for climate action in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. It is Jim Tanya Qually-McHenry. I love his bravery and dedication, even when it seems hopeless, or no one is listening. We need a million more Jim’s.
Jim was in a rural feed store. The customers were all saying they still could not get out on their damaged fields to plant this year’s crop. But when our video blogger brought up climate change, everyone said that was just false news, a liberal conspiracy. Even when people are devastated by weather hyped up by a changed atmosphere, they still don’t get it.
I think part of the problem is the old “global warming” label. Too many people expect climate disruption will show up as heat waves, and it will. But with the changes to the Jet Stream, and more warming happening in winter, they just don’t see it, I guess.
THE U.S. STORM TRACK
Every night we watch ABC Nightly News – just to see what Americans are being told. Climate change hardly ever comes up. All the advertising selling pickup trucks and SUV’s tells us why. But this Spring it seems every newscast is about massive storms sweeping right across the East, from Texas through Nashville and right up to New York City and Boston. The weather has become a top news story. In this interview we get the weather expert view on that persistent storm track this past winter and spring in America.
Then Nick gives us the real news about what happened to the farm community this spring in Nebraska. It’s just devastating. Some farms are now useless, after the river floods loaded the fields up with several feet of sand! Others lost all their seed reserves. The financial hardships are extreme in Nebraska.
Nick calculated humans are burning “5,576 years worth of plant growth per day”. That’s all the solar energy stored up in fossil form we burn. On Patreon he writes:
“All the carbon released by humanity in the past 25 years is equivalent to over 50 million years of plant growth which was needed to sequester it. This comes to around 250,000 yrs worth of plant growth in 45 days and 5,576 yrs worth of plant growth per day! The lecture, which I linked earlier in the article states that it is estimated humanity has burned nearly 200 million years worth of plant growth in just 160 yrs.”
I also like his article “What does abrupt climate change actually do to your weather?“.
Meteorologist Nick Humphrey
Just out in recent news, a collection of climate models, from some of the big names like NOAA and the National Science Foundation, project much faster climate heating that older models. Instead of 2.5 degrees C of warming, our current path takes us to 5 degrees of warming and beyond. If confirmed, this is another game-changer. The public has no idea this is happening.
As weather consumers, we are always looking to see those records break. If a record doesn’t fall, then we tend to think, “that isn’t so bad, we’ve seen worse than this”. But Nick Humphrey says we should not always be looking for records. We need to see the changing trends that happen for longer periods.
YES – EXTREME HEAT
Last summer Nick was featured in a Mother Jones article explaining “Why the Extreme Heat Is Way Worse Than You Think”. Summer is coming in the Northern Hemisphere. You may want to read up on this.
The heat can suddenly swerve into record cold. It’s pretty hard on farmers these days. We have already destabilized the atmosphere, with worse to come.
FLOODS IN CANADA
Meanwhile, thousands of people had to abandon their homes in Ontario and Quebec Canada. That includes the country’s capital Ottawa. Of course our regular guest Paul Beckwith is totally on top of that flooding. He lives in Ottawa. Check out this video, and this one too!
But even that won’t stop the Canadian Government in their crazy buy-out of a pipeline from the tar sands to Vancouver, or the so-called Canada East line. It seems we just can’t stop building fossil-fuel infrastructure, even as our population gets flooded out, burned out, or just dies in the heat. Phenomenal isn’t it?
CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS!
From Mauna Loa Hawaii we learn that weekly carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are hovering around 414 parts per million. It seemed like just yesterday it was around 403 ppm. 414 is literally off the charts. If you make a chart showing CO2 for the last 800,000 years, as Sam Carana at Arctic News blog did, you pretty well need to add a whole new page on top just to see our current levels. And that’s just CO2 – it doesn’t count the stronger greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous dioxide. Where do you expect the CO2 level to go and what does this really mean Nick?
At Truthout.org, Dahr Jamail wrote “The Last Time There Was This Much CO2, Trees Grew at the South Pole.” It will take us centuries to get there, but that seems where we are headed. I predict that children born this year in the American south of will end up living in northern Canada, if they live at all. Ditto kids born around the Mediterranean, where millions are already leaving. Am I being too extreme?
So on top of flooded coastal mega-cities and food failures, our descendants will have to face climate refugees on a scale we can barely imagine. Let’s face it, there is nothing in human recorded history that can compare with the fast-arriving future. Do you think Trump’s weird focus on immigration and the Wall is striking our collective unconscious feeling that whole populations are being destabilized along with the climate?
FOOD AND BILL MCKIBBEN’S “FALTER”
Environmental organizer Bill McKibben is usually a little bit hopeful. But his new book “FALTER: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?” predicts food-system collapse. Everyone should read an excerpt from that book in Rolling Stone magazine and online, published April 9. I said the same thing a couple of weeks ago on Radio Ecoshock: We should be ready to feed ourselves if the global food trade system breaks down during the climate shift.
Bill McKibben even seems to suggest humans may not make it out of climate change, if we don’t make monumental changes to our whole system starting yesterday. Do you think there is a chance of human extinction, where we join the other disappearing species?
I sure wish we had a Nick Humphrey reporting from Russia. The government there is not supportive of climate change journalism, to say the least. But many of the same extreme climate threats hitting North America are trashing Russia as well. We just don’t hear about weird weather from Siberia to Moscow. We need a truly global weather report that includes climate disruption.
I was stunned to see a second major cyclone hit the coast of East Africa. It may take years to rebuild Zambia and Mozambique. The most recent was Tropical Cyclone Kenneth in late April, destroying around 3500 homes, plus roads, power lines, and farms. Kenneth struck just a couple of weeks after Cyclone Idai, the giant that wrecked parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. I recently talked with hurricane expert and atmospheric scientist David Keellings from Alabama. He said climate change doesn’t cause cyclones or hurricanes, but it juices them up to super strength.
I cover the recent super cyclone hitting India and Bengladesh below.
Jakarta is sinking. BBC reports: “The Indonesian capital of Jakarta is home to 10 million people but it is also one of the fastest-sinking cities in the world. If this goes unchecked, parts of the mega city could be entirely submerged by 2050″. The government just announced plans to move out of Jakarta, to rebuild somewhere else. It is the first of many cities around the world that will be abandoned or partly lost to sea level rise this century.
Sinking cities start with Jakarta, but then there’s Dhaka in Bangladesh, and Lumberton, South Carolina, Italy’s Venice, and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The group called “The Sinking Cities Project” has a photo and video exhibition that is traveling around the world. The most recent exhibition was in Ann Arbor Michigan. But really, the whole coast of New England is sinking too. My point is, rising seas will not be reported first by climatologists. It will be reported as “weather”, as storm surge smashes ashore, as salt water replaces the ground water. Nick Humphrey will probably be on the front lines of that reporting.
GETTING IN TOUCH WITH NICK’S WORK
Eventually, after climate is too obvious to ignore, there will be a wave of humans wanting to get real information. In the meantime though, meteorologists with climate knowledge are not getting hired, or not allowed to speak, on local or national TV or radio. Nick needs your help on Patreon to survive until then. Sure you can read his articles there for free, but then help keep this voice going!
Is there any project to wake up quiet mainstream meteorologists – or is it really media ownership that doesn’t want climate disruption in the public conversation?
The fact that oil profiteers like the Koch Brothers fund climate disinformation is proven. Just look at the Heartland Institute, as one of a cluster of professional climate change deniers. Considering Russia makes it’s money selling fossil fuels, it’s inevitable they will point their bots and misinformation machine at climate science and reporting too. I’m not sure if climate disinformation starts at the top, or does it well up from individual ignorance, and our own continuing dependence on fossil fuels. Probably it is both.
YET ANOTHER PUMPED UP HURRICANE (CYCLONE) HITS INDIA & BENGLADESH
Meanwhile, barely reported in Western news media, the strongest tropical cyclone in 20 years has hit India and Bangladesh. As we heard from our previous guest David Keellings, climate change did not cause the cyclone or hurricane, but once spinning the over-hot waters of the Bay of Bengal drove it to Category 3 strength. Fani had winds over 115 miles an hour, or 185 kilometers an hour. Over a million people were evacuated away from the coast, saving countless lives in India, and over 2 million in Bangladesh.
But the wreckage, whole cities battered, villages wiped out, is extreme. It’s worse in Bangladesh. In some places, the storm surge reached 13 feet hitting such low lying delta areas. The sea invaded. Hundreds of thousands of people were made utterly homeless and destitute in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha State. Just trying to bring back electricity on India’s East coast will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. No one knows when power will be restored.
Keep in mind two things: one, there not be anywhere near enough aid for those affected. Many lives, businesses and farms will not return; and two: the global emissions for those people is infinitesimal. They did not cause the warming seas that took Cyclone Fani to such extremes. We did, and we will not pay for the restoration, and we will not stop making it worse.
Video 1 Rare Cyclone Fani Originated in the Southern Hemisphere and CROSSED the Equator: Part 1 of 2
Video 2 Rare Cyclone Fani Originated in the Southern Hemisphere and CROSSED the Equator: Part 2 of 2
THE JEM BENDELL TELECONFERENCE – WITH CAROLYN BAKER
In the show I squeeze in a bit from a teleconference May 3rd, 2019 hosted by Dr. Jem Bendell, with guest Carolyn Baker.
I’m Alex Smith. Thank you for listening this week, and please support my own work with a donation or monthly subscription if you can.