Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Climate change - it's not a "myth" above Latitude 55

Monday, July 25, 2005

Climate change - it's not a "myth" above Latitude 55


While surfing through various blogs today, I discovered that Global Warming seems to be a popular topic this week – or should I say, the naive claim of Global Warming as a "myth."

The human mind’s ability to negate information that it doesn’t want to believe always fascinates me.

Some guy over at Art of the Blog even uses an article where the anti-global warming "expert" is an economist, not a climatologist, and the "proof" is a paper funded by the International Policy Network, an organization funded by Exxon:
Established in 2001, the North American branch of the UK-based International Policy Network works closely with groups such as the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and Competitive Enterprise Institute.

(The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute receive funding from Exxon. Funding for Competitive Enterprise Institute comes from a variety of oil sources, including Exxon.)

The guy over at a blog called The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler travelled in the way-back machine to trot out the tired old "Oregon Petition" from 1998 - information that has long been misrepresented and was long ago discredited, along with the wing-nut organization funding it, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. (Pay special attention to their "Nuclear War Survival Manual." While you're reading it, make sure you play the theme to the "Twilight Zone" in the background.)

I'd like to introduce you to NOAA's Paleoclimatology Site:

On it, you will find research from over 1,500 Climatology scientists all over the world. Their data is derived through the analysis of tree-rings, pollen, paleoceanic studies, etc... This analysis has given an excellent picture of the Earth's climate history as far back as 1,000 years.
Although each of the temperature reconstructions are different (due to differing calibration methods and data used), they all show some similar patterns of temperature change over the last several centuries. Most striking is the fact that each record reveals that the 20th century is the warmest of the entire record, and that warming was most dramatic after 1920.
To summarize from the "Final Word" page in the Global Warming section:
There were significant climate changes before humans were around and there will be non-human causes of climate change in the future.

Just the same, with each year, more and more climate scientists are coming to the conclusion that human activity is also causing the climate of the Earth to change. First on the list of likely human influences is greenhouse warming due to human-caused increases in atmospheric trace-gases. Other human activities are thought to drive climate as well. As this web document points out, there is no doubt that humans are causing the level of atmospheric trace-gases to increase dramatically -- the measurements match the predictions. There is also no doubt that these gases will contribute to global warming (since they warmed the Earth before humans). However, there is uncertainty about some issues. For example, these questions remain to be answered with complete confidence:

- How much warming has occurred due to anthropogenic increases in atmospheric trace-gas levels?

- How much warming will occur in the future?

- How fast will this warming take place?

- What other kinds of climatic change will be associated with future warming?

Paleoclimatology offers to help answer each of these questions. Several of the paleoclimate studies reported on in this web document (Briffa et al., Mann et al., Overpeck et al.) have begun efforts to attribute past climate change to both natural and human causes, and to use this information to estimate how much of the current warming is due to humans (i.e., greenhouse warming). The best estimate is that about 50% of the observed global warming is now due to greenhouse gas increases. Although this number will continue to be refined, it indicates that the climate modeling community is on target with their estimates that the earth may warm an additional 2 to 7 degrees F in the next century.

What future global warming means to society is beyond the scope of these www pages. However, the paper by Overpeck et al. also includes an analysis of what the unprecedented 20th century warming has meant so far to the Arctic environment. Because the warming already seems to be causing unprecedented changes in glaciers, permafrost, lakes, ecosystems and the oceans, it is likely that future changes will be even more dramatic as the warming continues.
Just a reminder: this is a government website under the Bush Administration stating that each year, it becomes apparent to more climatology scientists that the Earth's climate is being effected by HUMAN ACTIVITY.

There is NO QUESTION as to whether the Earth is in a warming trend. There is NO QUESTION that these changes will have significant impact on multiple ecosystems. There is NO QUESTION that human activity is effecting this change.

The ONLY question is "how much?"

I've lived in Alaska the last 21 years and have witnessed amazing changes in the weather in a comparatively short amount of time. While some of it can be viewed as pleasant on the surface, it could ultimately be devastating to our fragile ecosystem.

- We now have summers in South Central Alaska, all coastal communities, where the temperature is hitting in the mid to high 70s with greater frequency. This was unheard of 20 years ago.

- The increased heat is causing a phenomenon that we used to see in South Central Alaska maybe once every two years - thunderstorms. The unfortunate result of this is a jump in lightning-strike wildfires. Several years ago, when we were just starting to get more thunderstorms, there were a total of 20 lightning strike wildfires during the season. So far this summmer (and it's only half over), there have been close to 200.

- We are experiencing a decrease in permafrost, especially damaging for the Arctic.

- The oceans have warmed several degrees and it is no longer unheard of for salmon trawlers to end up with tuna in the nets. Warming sea water is a threat to a small organism called "krill," the only food source of the Humpback Whales that migrate up here every summer to feed.

- Glaciers are melting at a rapid rate, decreasing the salinity of the oceans near the poles.

- Pack ice is melting, which polar bears require to survive.

I am not claiming that the Kyoto Treaty would be a solution to any of these issues. Its vast economic impact could negate any gains. I'm also not claiming to have the solution. I just want folks to stop the "LA, LA, LA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU" anytime the term "Global Warming" comes up - whether or not its happening is not in question.

What, if anything, can we do anything about it? THAT is the question.

3 Comments:

Blogger monocot said...

Well, at least once the salinity of the water up in the gulf stream drops enough, there will be an ice age triggered, which should correct the global warming. ;)

Kyoto and other protocals aside, I think the solution for this will have to occur from the source:science. We are already at peak oil and technology is already scrambling to find alternative sources.

The emphasis will have to come that those alternatives don't put us in the same situation that we are in now.

7/25/2005 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

Gay and over 55, calling all disco queens, come join us at http://artichokeblog.blogspot.com/

Older is bolder and beauty is in the eye of the older beholder.

7/25/2005 4:01 PM  
Blogger Coldfoot said...

How can anyone deny the fact of global warming?

If it wasn't for global warming we would still be in the ice age.

7/27/2005 5:38 AM  

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