OK gotta wave my flag a bit.
Happy to report I made The Humanist Magazine third decade running.
Concerning Our Failure to Appreciate the Weather http://thehumanist.com/magazine/november-december-2015/ By Peter Miesler Twenty years ago I came across a cartoon by Mike Keefe that captured an attitude I had found all too pervasive among my fellow Americans: the attitude of entitlement and detached disregard for understanding how our global climate system operates. It inspired me to write an essay describing my understanding of our planet’s climate system, and it was published in the November/December 1995 issue of the Humanist. Rereading it, I notice some minor errors but the basic story remains as accurate today as it was back then. Since anniversaries are a good time to reflect on history and how far we’ve come (or not), I think it’s worth recalling where our understanding of climate change was twenty years ago. Though there were fewer media outlets back then, they were more objective and for the most part offered straightforward climate science information. After all, it’s not that tough a story to summarize, even if the details get devilishly difficult. By ’95 we had learned that weather is the product of climate conditions and that Earth’s climate conditions fluctuated. We knew that CO2 and other greenhouse gases were a major regulator of those fluctuations. At the same time we were also being forced to confront the reality that it was our own burning of fossil fuels and the machines behind our modern marvels and lavish lifestyles that were increasingly belching “gaseous insulation" into our atmosphere. Back then we were thinking about the Keeling Curve, the mother of all CO2 concentration graphs. Consider for a moment that before the industrial revolution our global climate system had its CO2 regulator slowly fluctuating between about 180 ppm (parts per million) to 280 ppm. And I mean slowly, taking tens of thousands of years to go from peak to trough (±100 ppm), with profound changes from ice ages to temperate periods. Around 1850 this gaseous regulator was set at the prehistoric peak of ±280 ppm, but by 1995 this greenhouse gas regulator increased 80 clicks, up to 360 ppm. It has taken only twenty years to ratchet up another forty clicks and bust through 400 ppm, which is setting up the earth for a hothouse future. This added atmospheric insulation warms our climate system. Simple undeniable physics! This warming then forces the troposphere to hold more moisture. I believe cartoonist Keefe’s storm clouds were a reminder of the increasing tempo of “rogue" weather events we had been witnessing. For instance, in the United States we had the great 1980 drought and heat wave that killed thousands; the wild 1982-83 season, with its El Niño-driven storms and floods; an ugly drought in Australia; and some crazy cyclone behavior in the Pacific. 1988 brought another massive and costly drought and heat wave, 1991 saw the Oakland Hills firestorm, and in 1992 category-five Hurricane Andrew hit the Atlantic, category four Iniki struck Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean had its most powerful cyclone season in recorded history. The year ended with the colossal Nor’easter of ’92. Since dubbed “The Perfect Storm," it was a reminder for all who were paying attention that global weather systems interact with each other and their cumulative energy is capable of extraordinary outbursts. For the next three years an amazing four extreme weather calamities hit the United States annually. I like to think Keefe was mocking the studied avoidance found in growing numbers of citizens. The science was becoming clearer as to our impact on climate, with headlines of these events including phrases such as “wake up call." Indeed, we were waking up to the fact that it was our own collective behavior and expectations driving this global problem; the escalating consumption we’d fallen in love with was the cancer that would continue raising our planet’s temperature. However, this dawning realization created a profound cognitive dissonance. … http://thehumanist.com/magazine/november-december-2015/up-front/concerning-our-failure-to-appreciate-the-weather