Commentary: Can No Longer Ignore Climate Change

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By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

It’s hot outside.  Temperature is weather, not necessarily indicative of climate change.  As someone pointed out, there have always been heat waves—some of them have been pretty… well, hot.

What climate change is makes heatwaves more frequent and much more extreme.  Every year, it seems, we have seen heat waves to the point where previous all-time high records are not just broken—they are shattered.

That happened yesterday.  It hit 116 degrees in Sacramento—that’s the hottest day in the history of record keeping in Sacramento.  The previous high was 114 set in 1925—nearly 100 years ago.

CNN reported, “Records were also broken all over the Bay Area, with some cities shattering previous daily records by more than 10 degrees.”

Salt Lake City hit 104 on Monday—that’s the hottest day on record in September.  But perhaps more impressive, it’s the 32nd day this year that the temperature has reached 100 degrees, and that beats the previous yearly record by a whopping 11 days.

In Billings, Montana, the temperature hit 100 on Monday; that tied the previous record, but it also marked the first time Billings hit 100 degrees twice in the same September.

We’ve always had heat waves, but what we are experiencing is unprecedented in recorded history.

According to CNN, “Scientists say searing heat is part of a global pattern of rising temperatures, and climate change is making heat waves hotter and more frequent.”

Already GHG emissions have helped to heat the planet by 1.2 Celsius since pre-industrial times.  That warmer baseline means that “higher temperatures can be reached during extreme heat events.”

After 53 years, last month, Congress pushed through climate legislation by a razor-thin 51-50 in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie breaking vote.

As the NY Times reported, “All said that the incontrovertible evidence that climate change has already arrived—in the form of frighteningly extreme wildfires, drought, storms and floods afflicting every corner of the United States—has helped build political support.”

The article added, “Increasingly, the sheer volume of real-time data has overwhelmed the well-financed, multidecade strategy of oil, gas and coal companies to sow doubt about the severity of climate change.”

We have already noted, earlier this year, that the devastating impact of climate change is proceeding at a far faster pace than scientists expected, which makes it more likely that worst case scenarios will play out.

A new study found that “warming in the Arctic is happening at a much faster rate than many scientists had expected” and it’s happening “t least four times as fast as the global average,” according to significant research published in August.

The Washington Post noted, “Recent studies on subjects including tree mortality in North America and evidence of weakening ice shelves in Antarctica, combined with a stream of extreme weather events that include last month’s European heat wave and torrential floods of late in Kentucky and South Korea, are providing steady evidence of global warming’s intensifying impact on the planet.”

Of course at this point, it doesn’t really take a climate scientist to see the difference.  I notice the difference in the weather just in the 25-plus years since I moved to Davis.  There have always been hot days, but what I have noticed is first, it stays warm much longer.  We have had heat into October, even November.

Fires have gotten worse.  This year, Davis has avoided getting socked in by smoke and fire, but we are still only in early September.  We have had fire and smoke socking us in in recent years into October, even November.

The number of hot days has increased.  The temperatures during those hot days are hotter.  Winter is lasting shorter and shorter.  The rainy season, always problematic, has started late and ended early, leading to more droughts.

The August report from the IPCC is sobering.  “Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years,” the report noted.

“However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize,” according to the IPCC

That report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that “unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”

The report shows that “emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.”

“This report is a reality check,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.”

As I sat in the dark last night, 113 degrees outside, no electricity, temperature climbing in the house, wondering what the next few days would bring, it was yet another reminder of the failure of our nation and our planet to heed these dire warnings.


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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34 thoughts on “Commentary: Can No Longer Ignore Climate Change”

  1. Keith Olson

    As I sat in the dark last night, 113 degrees outside, no electricity,

    Get used to it as more and more electric cars are mandated for California.  The electricity has to come from somewhere.

    1. Richard_McCann

      To correct this misconception, electrification of heating, cooking, and cars will not increase peak loads, which is our current problem. (Did you turn on your furnace yesterday?) Virtually all of that excess load is coming from air conditioning. Cars will be programmed to recharge during periods when the electricity system has excess capacity (i.e., early morning to midday). And we’ll be able to use the battery capacity to back up our house supplies. And in return because we’ll be filling the troughs in electricity use, we’ll be using the grid more often which spreads the costs over more kilowatt-hours, so our electric rates will decrease.

      And we’re building new generation in any case. We have lots of rooftops that can hold thousands of megawatts of panels, and we can build these in less than a couple of years.

      1. Keith Olson

        Cars will be programmed to recharge during periods when the electricity system has excess capacity (i.e., early morning to midday).

        How about the workers that have to commute in the morning, which is most of the work force?


        1. David Greenwald Post author

          How do you know that will continue to be the way things are done? We are already seeing shifts in where people work, don’t you think with climate change, things are going to change even more?

    2. Walter Shwe

      The climate crisis has driven the world to the brink of multiple “disastrous” tipping points, according to a major study.
      It shows five dangerous tipping points may already have been passed due to the 1.1C of global heating caused by humanity to date.
      These include the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap, eventually producing a huge sea level rise, the collapse of a key current in the north Atlantic, disrupting rain upon which billions of people depend for food, and an abrupt melting of carbon-rich permafrost.

        1. Walter Shwe

          China’s strategy will result in hotter and dryer weather plus more catastrophic floods. It’s their lives that will ultimately be on the line as well as those of the entire planet. They will have ample power, but many will wind up dead. There’s that climate change denier.

        2. Keith Olson

          What is your plan to get China to do more then?

          My plan is we should all feel good virtue signal and sit in the dark while China keeps building more CHG fueled power plants while keeping the lights on and air conditioners running for their citizens.

          Is that a good enough plan for you, because that’s exactly what’s happening.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The other part of your plan is that you aren’t going to put forth any solutions until it’s too late, and you are going to attempt to block and/ or divert those who are. Is that a good enough plan for you, because that’s exactly what’s happening. Are you finally willing to at least admit that climate change is occurring or are you still in the denier camp?

        3. Ron Oertel

          My plan is we should all feel good virtue signal and sit in the dark while China keeps building more CHG fueled power plants while keeping the lights on and air conditioners running for their citizens.

          My plan would be to turn off the “virtue signal”, when no longer needed.  Every little bit of energy savings “helps”.

          And drive a “Pious”, if nothing else (thanks South Park).

          And if I’m the state of California, I’d extend the life of Diablo Canyon (without drawing attention to it). While also having no actual plan to address the massive change in regard to the future banning of new motor vehicles. (But hey, at least they banned new engine-operated lawn equipment, before that.)

          And I’d also ask those who already have electric vehicles to not charge them between 4-9 p.m.  (Let alone the millions more to come.) 

          I’d also pretend that increases in population have “nothing to do with” climate change and every other environmental problem. If possible, I’d try to bring up some other irrelevant argument when doing so – probably something related to racism.

          But all of this is probably reason number (XX), that someone like me would never be elected to high office (or maybe even, “low” office).

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      So are you advocating we make climate change worse in order to deal with being hot today? I can’t tell where you are actually coming down on substantive issues. When I asked you yesterday, you dodged per usual.l

      1. Keith Olson

        So are you advocating we make climate change worse in order to deal with being hot today? 

        No we shouldn’t.  We should complain about sitting in our hot homes with rolling blackouts and sky high energy bills in order to virtue signal while much of the rest of the world is taking actions that more than cancel out any good that the green energy push in California is achieving.

        Don’t you find it hypocritical that the current administration has stopped much of our drilling and fracking while at the same time begging OPEC for more oil?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          There’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around on this, but that doesn’t get us any closer to solving the problem. At the same time there has to be a short-term and a long-term strategy.

          Once again, I ask – what are you, Keith, proposing we do about this?

        2. Keith Olson

          David, it doesn’t matter what you or I propose.  It’s not going to do a bit of good.  But don’t complain about sitting in a hot house when it’s policies that you advocate for that’s largely responsible.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I disagree that it doesn’t matter. For too long, you’ve had your head in the sand on this issue and it’s not just you individually, it’s the collective you.

            And if you actually read what you wrote, you’ll see that my complaint was not about sitting in a hot house, it was about the lack of action on the part of the government: “As I sat in the dark last night, 113 degrees outside, no electricity, temperature climbing in the house, wondering what the next few days would bring, it was yet another reminder of the failure of our nation and our planet to heed these dire warnings.”

            In other words… you completely missed my point by focusing on the first half of the sentence, rather than the second.

        3. Keith Olson

          David, maybe before you respond to my comment you should at least make sure it’s posted.  My comment is still in moderation.  It’s almost impossible to have a fair conversation with this new format.  Many of my comments either never get posted or sit in moderation for several hours.

        4. Walter Shwe

          Charging for electric cars accounts for only about 0.4% of the overall energy load during peak hours on a typical summer day, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., when the grid is most at risk, according to a consumer data forecast from the California Energy Commission.
          Newsom highlighted that data Wednesday as he punched back at Fox News and other outlets fanning the misconception. “This idea that moving toward ZEVs is to blame for the grid strain is moronic,” spokesperson Erin Mellon told The Chronicle. Newsom also said that pundits echoing such claims are “not interested in facts.”
          California’s regulation to ban the sale of most new gas-powered cars, approved last month, doesn’t take full effect until 2035 (and even then, up to 20% of new vehicles could be plug-in hybrids that include gas tanks as well as batteries). In other words, the state has 13 years to gradually prepare for the transition.
          Most electric-car drivers already don’t charge during peak demand hours because it’s more expensive to do so. The vast majority of EVs, including Teslas and Chevy Bolts, come equipped with a feature to let drivers schedule their charge for off-peak hours. PG&E and other utilities across the state also offer rate incentives for drivers to charge late at night, when demand is lower because people are asleep.

        5. Keith Olson

          Right now California only has @ 300,000 EV’s on the road and the grid already can’t handle the load.  What’s going to happen when there are 26,000,000 EV’s charging up at night so people can get to work the next morning?  Sure Newsom is trying to put lipstick on it because it’s his baby.

          “This idea that moving toward ZEVs is to blame for the grid strain is moronic,” 

          That’s not what’s being said.  What people are worried about is the grid is already breaking down and can’t handle the current load, what’s going to happen when everyone is forced to drive an EV and charge their cars at home?

        6. Keith Olson

          David, you missed the point.  Most people aren’t saying that the EV’s on the road today are buckling the grid even though they contribute to the problem.  They’re saying that the current system can’t even handle the electricity loads that California needs today.  Then add to that there will be 26 million more EV’s coming.  I’ve read estimates where that will create a need for 50% more electricity output for the state.

          Honestly though, I think this is all virtue signaling by Newsom, that the edict will be withdrawn the closer we get to the deadline.  But it makes him look like some climate change Czar in the meantime for which he gladly takes credit.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You are using data without citing studies. I posted the Axios article that addresses the points you are making, but clearly you didn’t read it.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I gave you five links including Forbes, Axios, and SF Chronicle. You’ve provided nothing to refute.

        7. Ron Oertel

          Here’s a link:

          Electricity use is expected to soar as much as 68% by 2045 California under the state’s proposed plan. That means backup dispatchable power is needed to account for energy losses when wind and solar can’t produce enough electricity.

          Pricing incentives (to encourage off-peak usage) are not going to be enough to meet this demand.

          Sometimes, incentives such as this can result in “kicking the can down the road” (e.g., everyone suddenly turns on their air conditioners at 9:00 p.m., or right before 4:00 p.m.).

          Sort of reminds me of how they now (sometimes) tackle roadway/freeway maintenance at night (using bright lights), to avoid creating congestion during “peak hours”.  And yet, the roadways are (now) crowded-enough at night to create backups – even at that time.  There no longer is any “good time” to do road maintenance – there’s simply too many people driving around using infrastructure that was designed for a much smaller population, and much less use.

          The same issue ultimately applies to all resources, including water. If you purposefully cram more people in, expenses increase and quality of life declines.

          Note how the state’s plan includes absolutely nothing regarding discouraging sprawl, or even discouraging housing in high-risk fire zones.

          It’s difficult to get “fully on board” with the state’s plans, when they consistently refuse to address the underlying problem. While also demanding that existing population makes significant sacrifices in regard to the state’s plans.

        8. Keith Olson

          It just made me laugh.  You citing a Virta Global blog from a smallish EV charging system seller as backup for your argument.  That’s kind of like citing an Exxon report that gasoline engine exhaust CHG’s aren’t that bad.  Especially when you so often downplay other’s sources they present on here.

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