Monday, February 16, 2015

Who will pay for ongoing severity

One of the things you can always count on when a significant sequence of  bad weather hits is one or another idiot on the right saying that the "cold" part, of whatever severity you might want to talk about, is proof that global warming doesn't exists.

I don't want to get into too much of the usual back and forth that surrounds that debate, but I do want to emphasize the unfortunate consequences of how labeling the "green house" effect as just "Global Warming" has had.

Energy input and dissipation have always occurred, and varied over time as well. Because this huge transfer system we live in doesn't dissipate to space to the degree it did before the industrial revolution, the system as a whole has a great deal more to do transfers with internally. And that is the most important thing to remember.

The second most important thing to remember is what is meant by "transfer." And in that do we get into some of the basics of physics. Namely evaporation, which turns water temperature into moisture in the air; condensation, which turns the change of air temperature, and/or pressure, back into water falling; convection, which causes a fluid (which includes both water and gas) to move from the hottest part of its distribution to the coolest, and the related aspects of pressure to temperature in a gas.

All of these things, as well as sold object radiance, and the change of wavelength in what is radiated, join in the grand dance that is energy transfer. And the thing is, the more energy that does not escape this really big dance hall, the more immense, and/or frequent, the various transfers will be.

Which means more ocean circulation because of convection. More air movement for the same reason. The more water that can be brought up into the air and then dropped. And with more of these comes ever broader, and more significant changes in air pressure and/or temperature (as well as water temperature), which means even more movement of the air, and consequently extra movement of water as the air flows over it. On and on, back and forth; making the dancers alternatively cold and hot, and hot and cold. And the dance lines bigger, or smaller, and wildly gyrating from established dance patterns. The bar of what is extreme will keep rising, as will the frequency of occurrence, as well as the change in type.

All of this is to say that a new normal is coming. A normal where moderate weather is the new extreme. And carrying on with what we think of as business as usual will be a cost factor that nobody is ready for. Not government, local or federal; not the commercial sector or the public either.

Even limiting the consideration to workers getting to and from work, and production getting to consumers, we would be swamped with cost considerations that can hardly even begun to be imagined in their full depth and breadth.

So, even if we didn't have all of the contradictions made manifest now by government gridlock, or the power inequalities made plain by the unequal distribution of responsibility or consequences, we would still be faced with nearly insurmountable questions of who will carry the extra burden of keeping it all going; with all sectors still cooperating with each other.

The prospect of this should scare you. It sure as hell scares the urine out of me. And the main part of why this should scare you is that Capitalism isn't equipped to handle it even if it was capable of operating equitably; which of course it isn't.
Not when human skill is no longer viable as a commodity, or hyper consumption viable as a mode for sustainable social organization.

If you've been shoveling snow these last few weeks, or running from mud that used to be solid ground, or wondering whether you'll have to migrate with the fall of rain, you really need to start paying attention here. This is just a taste of what's beginning. A whole range of fundamental assumptions have to be put on the table and renegotiated. If they aren't really bad is going to morph into a brand new dimension of sting. Stop counting on the money you have, or don't have, and count on that.


Snow storm buries eastern Massachusetts, economic impact $500 million to $1 billion