El Nino May Blast Climate into 2016 Campaign

May 23, 2014

Does someone at the New York Times read this blog? If they don’t, then they probably should, so they can catch up.
A casual reader might be surprised how much reach these videos have.

In any case, we know you saw it here first.

New York Times:

But El Niño has the potential to do more than offer a one-time jolt to climate activists. It could unleash a new wave of warming that could shape the debate for a decade, or longer. In this chain of events, a strong El Niño causes a shift in a longer cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which favors more frequent and intense El Niños during its “warm” or “positive” phase. The oscillation has been “negative” or “cool” since the historic El Niño of 1998.

Climate scientists don’t fully understand the exact mechanics of this phenomenon. “But the suspicion is certainly that it is related to El Niño events,” Mr. Trenberth said. “The switch to the current negative phase was probably triggered by the 97-98 El Niño.” The question is whether this fall’s El Niño “might kick the P.D.O. into a positive phase.” If it does, a result would be faster warming, at least doubling the rate of surface temperature increases.

A sustained period of faster warming won’t convert skeptics into climate change activists. But the accompanying wave of headlines might energize climate change activists and refocus attention on climate change heading into the 2016 presidential election. Those headlines could include landslides in Southern California, or widespread floods across the South.

The timing could provide an uncomfortable backdrop for Republican presidential hopefuls who are skeptical of climate change, like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who recently said he did not believe human activity was causing climate change. Democrats, eager to cast Republicans as anti-science or to appeal to voters in the endangered coastal city of Miami, might be likelier to re-emphasize climate change if polls show an increase in the public’s belief in global warming, which Mr. Krosnick anticipates will happen if global temperatures rise to record levels.

Even so, Mr. Krosnick doubts whether higher temperatures would compel more ambitious measures to curb carbon emissions: “It won’t vastly increase pressure on the government to do something.”

Mark McKinnon, a Republican strategist, thinks recurring catastrophic events will be necessary to soften the G.O.P.’s position on climate change. Without Republican support, it will be hard for Congress to pass climate legislation.

The Times also reported on Billionaire Tom Steyer’s effort to support Science literate political candidates.

To coordinate the effort, Mr. Steyer has hired Chris Lehane, a veteran Democratic strategist.

“We want 2014 to be a pivot year for climate — the year we can demonstrate that you can use climate change as a wedge issue to win in political races,” Mr. Lehane said Wednesday at a briefing with reporters.

Mr. Lehane declined to name an exact figure, but he said that Mr. Steyer had already pledged to spend $50 million of his own fortune on the effort, while NextGen Climate has committed to raising $50 million more.

This year’s strategy expands on successful efforts by Mr. Steyer to elevate climate change issues in three 2013 races. He and NextGen spent over $11 million to influence the Virginia governor’s race, with the intent of defeating Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a Republican who questions the science of climate change.

Terry McAuliffe, the winning Democratic candidate, was not known as a major champion of climate policy, but he campaigned against Mr. Cuccinelli as out-of-touch and a turnoff for potential businesses seeking to invest in Virginia.

“The race in 2013 in Virginia was a beta test for 2014,” Mr. Lehane said. “It provided us the political paradigm to model our other races off of.”

“Independent voters, with regard to the issue of climate change, track much more closely with Democrats than Republicans,” said Edward Maibach, the director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. “Painting candidates as climate deniers stands a good chance of working in districts where the vote turns on independents.”

Mr. Steyer’s group hopes to be helped by the National Climate Assessment, a new scientific report that details the ways climate change is already causing economic harm across the United States.

In the Senate race in Michigan, Mr. Steyer’s group will back Representative Gary Peters, a Democrat who says he will make a point of highlighting how climate change is lowering water levels and leading to environmental problems in the Great Lakes, while also threatening Michigan’s agriculture.

“It’s important to frame the issue in terms of potential threats to our state,” Mr. Peters said.

In Florida, NextGen will spend to defeat Gov. Rick Scott, who has openly questioned the science of climate change. Charlie Crist, a Democratic challenger and former Republican, has cited skepticism of climate change as one of the reasons he left the party.

Florida voters will play a crucial role in the 2016 election. The state is home to two possible Republican presidential contenders — Senator Marco Rubio, who has questioned the science of climate change, and former Gov. Jeb Bush, who has evaded specific questions on the issue.

In Iowa, NextGen will back Representative Bruce Braley, a Democratic candidate for the Senate who voted for a House climate change bill in 2009. The group will attack Mr. Braley’s potential Republican opponents, State Senator Joni Earnst or Mark Jacobs, a former electric energy company executive, by criticizing claims they have made questioning climate science.

In Maine’s three-way governor’s race, Mr. Steyer’s group hopes to unseat the Republican incumbent, Paul R. LePage, who has said that climate change could bring economic opportunity to his state, as melting ice in the Northeast Passage opened up shipping routes, and warmer winters could attract tourists to Maine year-round.

In Colorado, the group will back Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat who has vocally supported climate and clean energy policies, against Representative Cory Gardner, who has questioned the science of climate change. In the Pennsylvania governor’s race, NextGen will back Tom Wolf, a Democrat, against the Republican incumbent, Tom Corbett, who in an interview this month called the science of climate change “a subject of debate.”

50 Responses to “El Nino May Blast Climate into 2016 Campaign”

  1. rpauli Says:

    It will be interesting to see how the Republicans return to the climate denial version of the Dead Parrot Skit.

    Almost as old, too.

  2. omnologos Says:

    Hard to comment. If a sustained period of faster warming can energize the climate campaigners would a sustained period of slower warming sap their willpower? The jury’s still out on that one but I suspect the answer is ‘no’.

    Likewise as McAuliffe isn’t exactly McKibben the use of Virginia as a template is likely limited.

    Methinks there’s too much hope pinned on some chain of portentous events magically swaying the electorate. It’d be far more effective to disentangle climate from party political fighting but then too many Dems and a lot of Reps know of to get votes by abusing the issue.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Omno, Omno, Omno! Will you ever emerge from your cloud of confusion? You remind us of Pigpen from Charlie Brown, except that your cloud is not dirt and resides higher than your feet.

      What is the point of asking a rhetorical question about “a sustained period of slower warming” when NO ONE foresees that happening? Do you need to be whacked with a hockey stick to also see that?

      WHAT????? are you trying to say with “McAuliffe isn’t McKibben” and “Virginia is not a template”? You obviously have little or no understanding of American politics, or you would understand how significant the 2013 elections in VA were.

      As for your last paragraph, it merely proves my last sentence above, as well as proving that you are a Republican at heart, which is no surprise.

      PS And you using “methinks” is an oxymoron.

      • omnologos Says:

        Go away.whaat.you don’t understand…boodie boodie boo

        Ps we’ve just been through a period of less warming than expected. This had zero impact on climate change activism. When the elections are every four years, and the climate changes on decadal scales, politics is obviously not much influenced by catastrophes. You’d need somebody committed to the cause beyond the election cycle, like the mayor of that Japanese city who built a giant sea wall against tsunamis and has been thanked only after his death.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          You have shut me down with “boodie boodie boo” and dead Japanese mayors
          building tsunami walls—-I admit defeat.

          PS Just a final goodbye thought—-we have been through a period of MORE warming than expected for decades now (you apparently missed it), and you have again missed the point of this post about the implications thereof. This post points out that the coming El Nino may “blast” us to record temperatures and thus cause much pressure to be felt by the politician deniers. Are you seeking immortality as “Omno, the Last Denier Standing”?

        • The warming business is only technical. We’re talking about a few degrees difference over all. The big issue for voters is what their senses tell them. When they have to face down climate disasters that are compounding every year, thinking begins to change– if not from the actual event then from the threats that are growing around them.

          After having your house blown down or your town flooded out, burned out, etc., your thinking begins to change. That I think would be the real issue of the El Nino. I’ll bet the Japanese are rethinking their nuclear programs!

          • omnologos Says:

            JEV – once again you are describing some exceptional string of extreme phenomena. Perhaps they might change hearts and minds, although I suspect they would have to happen to the same people and continuously for that to happen.

            I don’t find it wise to pin any hope to implement a climate change-addressing policy on something so enormous to happen, that’s all.

        • There isn’t less warming than expected. I thought even you had stopped using this meme now. Here is a nice video to show you this again:

          I’d say if anything the rate of warming is increasing.

          • omnologos Says:

            I shall content myself with the company of those deniers at the Met Office, NOAA, and the WMO.

            The rate at which surface air temperatures are rising has slowed in recent years. If we do not agree with that, there is no hope in discussing anything really.

            And the number of voters at the bottom of the ocean is zero.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I am trying to ignore Omno, but he is like Arnold Horshack in “Welcome Back, Kotter” with his jumping up and down, waving his hand, and going “OOH, OOH”!!!!

            Note that Omno is now specifying that SURFACE AIR TEMPERATURES are rising more slowly in recent years, and that “if we can’t agree with that, there is no hope” etc.

            I would counter that it is useless to “discuss” climate change with anyone who can’t agree that the heat has been going into the oceans in large quantities rather than into the “surface air”, AND also with anyone who seeks out the company of the ever-dwindling number of deniers as well.

            And voters at the bottom of the ocean? Dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb!

          • Well, I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of voters to the bottom of the sea with cement shoes. The fact that we place so much of our planets future into the hands of flat-earthers is mind boggling. Sure there is freedom and democracy – freedom to be a complete idiot and ruin the lives of our children.

          • Thank you! I hadn’t seen that particular video, only an earlier version without the audio. I especially like how they make use of projection to show the filtering out of the effects of volcanic aerosols and the El Nino Southern Oscillation, showing the component variation separately from the temperature trend, overlaying it on the trend, then subtracting it from the trend.

  3. rayduray Says:

    U.S. House of Representatives (with head firmly in sand) decides to dig in.


    It’s going to be amusing watching the Navy run a fleet with their bases no longer at sea level. Hee hee.

    • Might one term this “industrial” sabotage? “Aiding terrorists”, perhaps, as part of the military’s climate preparedness is to address how terrorists may take advantage of regimes that become destabilized due to severe drought and food shortages? I find it difficult to imagine that any member of the House would go to such lengths to hobble the US military, even today’s House.

    • jpcowdrey Says:

      The full text of the amendment reads:

      “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order.”

      This is stupid piled on stupid. The DoD don’t do other institutions’ research surveys, plans, assessments nor budget appropriations. They do their own. They’re kind of bull-headed that way.

  4. rpauli Says:

    That’s why the easiest form of terrorism is to contribute heavily to a specific candidate. (or select an existing officeholder and meet with them)

    And this tactic does not involve bullets or explosives… yet the end result is far more harmful and destructive.

    IRS is no longer pushing for declarations of dark money contributions to campaigns. So we can’t really tell who is behind the funding of stupid legislative attacks on reality.

    Personally, this drives away my faith in government. If I worked in the Pentagon, it would be horribly demoralizing to see this.

  5. omnologos Says:

    I wonder how many voters are affected in their choice by changes in heat at the bottom of the oceans, rather than changes in surface temperatures.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Probably just about the exact same number, since anyone who is educated enough about AGW to be aware of the “surface” temperatures is also aware of what’s going on in the ocean depths.

      It’s called “logic” and “rational analysis”, Omno. You should try it rather than trying to be “cute” all the time.

      • omnologos Says:

        But none of those would need an el Niño event, so that wouldn’t matter politically in 2016. For them this post would be meaningless.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          A nonsense answer not worthy of analysis.

          • omnologos Says:

            That’s because you don’t even understand what you yourself are saying.

            People convinced global warming is heating the oceans don’t need an el Niño event to vote this or that way. Climate is already part of their politics.

            The el Niño will blast climate into the political choices only of those who get interested only after surface events. They don’t care about heat that goes into the ocean and most likely follow the surface temperatures as a sign of global warming. For them global warming is in a pause or hiatus or slowdown or MIA and that’s what might make a strong el Niño so important. It is all described in the nyt article.

  6. redskylite Says:

    Australians are becoming more worried about climate change, a trend that may build as a budding El Nino weather event in the Pacific Ocean increases prospects for a summer of heatwaves and bushfires, analysts say.


  7. redskylite Says:

    ”It’s actually quite scary, especially if it lasts for two weeks – that’s incredible,”


  8. redskylite Says:

    Grossly off topic and apologies to DOG, but this add has got me hooked:

    • dumboldguy Says:

      No apologies needed, redsky. Being addicted to Solar Roadway “PORN” is a lot healthier than the alternatives. Do you have a gambling addiction too? Because that’s what you’ll be doing if you invested any money in this scheme—-plain and simple gambling.

      This pair has been working on Solar Roadway for 8 years now and all they have to show for it is the little demonstration pad alongside the house and a lot of slick PR material on their website.

      This ad that has got you hooked is perhaps the slickest piece yet, with the “cool-hip-with it-jazzy-right now” music, cartoons, and language. FREAKIN’ Solar FREAKIN’ Roadway indeed! It must have cost them a pretty penny to hire the PR and marketing “talent” that assembled it, and it IS appealing as it stands, at least to a certain demographic (that you are too old to belong to). Look at all the things the Solar Roadway can supposedly do and remember why we don’t try to assemble a car with a Swiss Army Knife but instead have a box full of job-specific tools.

      Did you see the number of names and entities mentioned in the credits at the end? Must have cost some $$$$ to pay all those folks to produce this ad. Methinks the whole operation resembles a charity in which 90% of the donated money goes to “fundraising” and “administration” rather than “program expenditures”.

      Anyone who lives and drives in moose or deer country knows it’s not the moose or deer who is almost across the road (and lighting up the LED’s via the pressure sensors) that you’re going to hit. It’s the one standing off the road that leaps out in front of you as you approach. The only deer I’ve ever “hit” actually ran into the side of my car as I passed him. Which brings to mind another “app” to build into the Solar Roadway—-roadside-scanning motion detectors or even RADAR to detect those animal “lurkers”. And for airport runways, let’s do away with those guns that keep birds off the runways and build a bird-chasing “app” into the Solar Runway. And flame sensors and fire extinguishers also—-if a plane crashes, they will be right there and can put the fire out long before a truck can even roll. The possibilities are endless if one uses their imagination.

      Question: “How many different functions can one design into a Solar Roadway”?
      Answer: “As many functions as it takes to get fools to part with their money”

      • I agree – I have yet to be convince that this ‘solar highway’ is anything more than a crazy, impractical idea – at best. Worst is it is a scam that gives actually practical ideas a major black eye.

    • rayduray Says:

      I usually hate commercials. I love Ad-Block.

      But this little video was totally engaging. I loved it. I almost even suspended disbelief for a minute. But seriously, does Scott Brusaw want to pave the entire planet? Can’t we have just a little margin for nature? 🙂

      Thanks for the FREAKIN’ entertainment!

  9. omnologos Says:

    I dare say I agree with dumbog on the solar roadways even if this might push his lonely brain cell into suicide. According to the indiegogo campaign a 7-inch hexagon costs now $10,000, making the technology beyond the reach of John Travolta I think, even if he’s got his how airport and multiple airplanes.

    One can only imagine coming back home to see the whole road having been removed by a new brand of highway robbers.

    Alas, probably the sweet couple’s mistake has been not parading Dear Kev in front of the cameras, something that routinely and invariably transforms the most hardened cynics into Flavor Aid drinkers. No scientist, no (money grabbing) party.

    • omnologos Says:

      “his OWN airport”

    • dumboldguy Says:

      More “cuteness” rather than “content” from Omno. Including mention of a useless celebrity and a totally unnecessary and illogical swipe at “Dear Kev, who has NO connection with Solar Roadway except in the twisted labyrinth of Omno’s “brain” (which would crumble to dust if even one of my brain cells were injected into it. See? I can do “cute” too)

      At least he worked hard enough to come up with the $10,000 cost of a single 7-inch hexagon, although that seems WAY high—-a chunk of gold that size wouldn’t cost much more. Maybe they also said the usual BS like “Unit costs will drop dramatically as production ramps up, so it soon won’t be cheaper to pave your driveway in gold”. Line up, suckers, and place your orders!

  10. redskylite Says:

    Sydney, Australia is experiencing it’s hottest May on record, and has already recorded it’s hottest week for this time of year in over 150 years.


      • dumboldguy Says:

        And the point of this link is…..????

        • omnologos Says:

          “more of the same” doesn’t work in politics. Hotter hot places and colder cold places are a very hard sell as “climate CHANGE”.

          As per NYT’s: “Even so, Mr. Krosnick doubts whether higher temperatures would compel more ambitious measures to curb carbon emissions: “It won’t vastly increase pressure on the government to do something.”

          Mark McKinnon, a Republican strategist, thinks recurring catastrophic events will be necessary to soften the G.O.P.’s position on climate change.

          ps the hot=bad relationship was tried for several years in the uk, until even Monbiot recognized that people do like it hot after all: “The problem with persuading people in the UK to take climate change seriously is that, as far as we are concerned, it sounds quite attractive. The government’s new climate projections predict drier summers and a possible 5C temperature rise in the south of England by 2080. Isn’t this what we have spent our lives hoping and praying for?http://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/jun/18/monbiot-climate-impacts

          • dumboldguy Says:

            All very interesting, but still doesn’t explain the point of posting a link telling us why all Australia’s cities are located on the coasts rather than in the interior. Particularly since we all knew why before we read it (???).

          • omnologos Says:

            Australia didn’t develop like America did, because it’s too hot. Hence a hotter Sydney is just “more of the same”.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            More of the same WHAAAAAAT?

          • omnologos Says:

            Am afraid many self righteous close minded obsessed half knowing people like you inhabit your movement. You’re just unable to see what the common non-obsessed open minded morally competent voter sees when presented with the tidbit of information “Sydney is warm for this time of the year” (maybe whilst watching the ice cover on the Great Lakes, this time of the year).

            Since the votes of the common non-obsessed will always outmatch the votes of the self righteous in an open democracy, your preferred policies will have to await a collective change of consciousness (The Age of Climatarius) or dictatorship. Funny enough North Korea is being celebrated for its climate change actios.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “Funny enough North Korea is being celebrated for its climate change actions”?

            Really? Link please? How is NK doing that, by starving to death enough of its inhabitants to reduce the national carbon footprint?

            Folks, we are seeing the emergence of yet another of Omno’s “voices” here—-he is channeling Kim Jong Il (or perhaps Dennis Rodman, KJI’s ambassador to the world of the semi-sane).

          • omnologos Says:

            North Korea http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/20/north-korea-unlikely-champion-fight-against-climate-change

            as for the rest would you guys please stick to the topic. The topic is not how to convince me. I’m only one vote and am not even American. The topic is what will change the voting intentions of millions of Americans. A hot Australia won’t since it’s been known hot for a long time.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            LMAO—Omno wants US to stay on the topic? A “hot Australia” is almost totally off topic with regard to how Americans vote. Too many don’t even pay attention to the implications of climate change here. The flyspeck disaster of a country called North Korea is even more off topic, and the link is laughable as “proof” that they have done anything laudable. They are up against the wall and are a day late and a dollar short with their feeble efforts.

            I AM glad that Omno admits that he is not American (and by extension knows little about America)—-I wonder why he keeps commenting about “our business”? Oh yes, I forgot—-he’s an attention seeker.

            (and it’s too bad he’s allowed to vote)

          • omnologos Says:

            There’s one attention seeker among us and he keeps intervening to suggest no new idea or comment, rather his own sad opinions about what makes others think – a feeling foreign to him obviously.

            anyway as I didn’t mention Sydney first, I can and will post explanatory links when Sydney is mentioned, despite the bullying by the verbose aforementioned attention seeker.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            My last comment to you on this thread, Omno. I give you permission to now do your “Demented Rooster strutting in the barnyard crowing over his imagined victory” routine. No one will believe it but you.

            I would again suggest to you that you look at your “thumbs down” count to see how self-deluded you are about how NON valuable your comments are to the discourse on Crock.

            I make no self-deluded claims of “all seeing, all knowing omniscience” as you do with your “handle” and your never-wrong commentary. I am just a dumb old guy that can’t break his old sheep dog habits, and you are a danger to the collective intelligence and mental health of the flock on Crock.

            redsky posted the first link to Sydney as useful if perhaps OT information. It is a measure of your self-delusion for you to maintain that the link you posted about why there are no cities in the interior of Australia has any remote relevance to ANYTHING under discussion on Crock. As I said, we all knew that it was hot there, and the cities were placed long before AGW ever became an issue.

            Here’s an opportunity for you. Norfolk, VA. Let’s see if you can find something more relevant as you all-knowingly and all-seeingly post what you call EXPLANATORY links.

            And stop whining about “bullying”. That is a last ditch defense used by those whose arguments have been reduced to dust by those with better brains and better arguments. If you want me to stop “bullying” you, stop asking for it.

          • omnologos Says:

            From climate change to…thumbs.

            Toenails next.

      • redskylite Says:

        Well with all due respect to yahoo answers, that is a little bizarre. Some Australians are feeling unease at the high Ocean temperatures and threat of a strong El Nino event. Not only that Southern Siberia is experiencing frightening and unseasonal forest fires, Bosnia has experienced the worst floods in over a century with townships “no longer existing”. Off the coast of New Zealand scientists have just discovered a huge pocket of methane hydrates. Continue to bury your head in the sand and say this is not happening. Sorry but it is time to wake up and smell the roses.

        • redskylite Says:

          PS. El Nino can be a big deal to the Australians, so consult a climatologist or meteorologist – not Yahoo Answers please !

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Please do not cause any internal conflict for Omno by suggesting he consult with experts on scientific matters. Omno listens only to that vast collection of “bizarre” voices in his head, and judging by what we see of the results of that in his comments, introducing rationality into that maelstrom might kill him. Have mercy.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Omno is nothing if not “bizarre”. We haven’t been playing the game of alternate names and acronyms very much lately. Perhaps it’s time to start up again with “Omnobizarros”?

          PS I have read that the floods in the Balkans were the WORST EVER RECORDED. Of course, they did say that records have only been kept for some 150 years, so Omnobizarro will probably say “it has rained there before—just MORE of more of the same”.

          And the fires everywhere in the northern hemisphere should put a lot of soot down in Greenland for Dark Snow to find (and perhaps accelerate the melting of the ice sheet, which will cause….and contribute to….(could McPherson be right about reinforcing positive feedbacks?)

          PPS Should the pocket of methane hydrates outgas on you, it won’t smell like roses either literally or figuratively.

          • Eastern part of Norway is also experiencing a 50-year flood – and on track for a 100-year flood… the last 100 year one we had in 1967, and a 200-year flood in 1995…

            So I can partially understand why they are now going away from the N’th-year term, as it has no meaning anymore.

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