Advertisement

Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2005

KU professor’s research shows humans are affecting climates

December 22, 2005

Advertisement

Deforestation in the Amazon could have repercussions that hit home for Kansans, according to recent research led by a Kansas University professor.

The findings of Johannes Feddema, associate professor of geography at KU, and a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., appear in a recent issue of Science.

The team's research shows that when humans change the way they use land, whether for farming or other purposes, those changes can have significant impact on regional and seasonal climates.

Thus, deforestation in the Amazon could change the climate of the southwestern United States or even Kansas in the future, Feddema said.

Land use changes may not be as big a force for global climate change as some other human activities, but they are significant in some areas, the research found.


Recent research conducted by Johannes Feddema, Kansas University associate professor of geography, and a team of other scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research shows that human interaction with the land causes changes in regional climates.

Recent research conducted by Johannes Feddema, Kansas University associate professor of geography, and a team of other scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research shows that human interaction with the land causes changes in regional climates.

"We're just adding another factor that constitutes a potential human influence on the climate," Feddema said.

The role of land use and land cover in changing climates has been nearly ignored in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but Feddema said he hopes this research changes that.

More research is needed, he said.

And though sophisticated, the models used to study climate change are not perfect.

"We need to make our models better," Feddema said. "We need an awful lot of computer time and resources to do that."

The study of global climate change, its causes and future changes are complex with some points, such as global warming, being debated.

"Most of the scientists that work in this area do feel like there is global warming and that it's a real thing," Feddema said. "There are a few people who don't feel that way. In terms of public opinion, the question is, 'who gets the most press time and who gets listened to.'"

Lee Gerhard, a former director at the Kansas Geological Survey, said Feddema's findings are new and interesting and more research is needed.

Gerhard said he thinks humans cause change in climate, but they aren't the most significant factor.

But, according to Feddema, it's difficult experimenting with the Earth, when there's only one.

"I think there is very good evidence now that definitely the climate is changing," Feddema said. "We'll probably never come up with 100 percent proof before it's way too late to do something about it. So the question is, 'do you want to take the chance?' ... The problem is we only have one planet."

Comments

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

lunacydefecator,

How dare the federal government spend money on research! Nothing good has ever come from that.

0

lunacydetector 8 years, 4 months ago

"More research is needed, he said." ....in other words, it is a perfect opportunity to ask the federal government for more grant money.

0

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

Elder:

I agree that humans have little power to control natural phenomena. Katrina was indeed an example of this, as was the tsunami.

I view humans as part of the Earth, and they can affect it accordingly. Maybe we are powerless to stop our own altering of the planet.

Atmospheric alteration caused by organisms is well documented, the oxygenation of the atmosphere by photosynthetic bacteria being one example.

There are now billions of humans on the planet, each consuming resources and using energy and emitting wastes.

I think many billions of humans are likely to have an impact on the planet. The planet has has buffering mechanisms, but the problem is that many of them would be detrimental to human survival on the planet.

0

Eybea Opiner 8 years, 4 months ago

Chzypoof1, are you saying that you've never heard a logical, worth while argument for natural fluctuation of the earth's climate?

I think that this might be why I, and others (perhaps ElderPagan included) are so concerned about the blind acceptance of the allegations of human-induced global warming.

Please, just go to google and type in "earth's temperature history" then read just a little bit about the massive fluctuations of temperature over time. Discover that our current temperature is the result of an 18,000 year warming trend. Find out about cycles of warming and cooling that closely mirror certain fluctuations of the sun's activities.

You apparently get the news stations that don't bother to critically evaluate the press releases they receive from various and sundry sources. They simply evaluate the release in terms of "will it make a nice headline," or, "does it fit our agenda or pre-conceived notions," and most importantly, "will this somehow be profitable for us?"

I'm not claiming that the sources I have mined are 100% correct, but I do believe that millions of years of history are much better than the 150 years (since records have been maintained by mankind) people are quoting to support the idea of human-caused global warming.

0

chzypoof1 8 years, 4 months ago

Ok, maybe you're right. Maybe the scientists and the people screaming about this issue are unimformed. Maybe they have no idea about the natural cycles of the planet.

All you here on the news is "global warming". I've never heard a logical, worth while argument for natural fluctation.

Ice Caps are melting: Global Warming Warmer winter: Global Warming Tsunami: Global Warming Hurricanes (too many): Global Warming

Maybe I get different news stations than you do, I don't know....

0

elderPagan 8 years, 4 months ago

Nightmare, in my last post I was harsh with you, and I apologize. It was unkind, and uncalled for.

Being part of this Earth, as I am (I really AM an old Pagan man), means that I try to accept the things that occur naturally, and have respect for the raw force behind those things (and the "changes" we perceive from them).

I take a different lesson from Hurricane Katrina than many people. I see that the best effort of man to control the forces of nature for two centuries was destroyed in one act of nature. At its most basic, the development and building up of the Gulf coast was an attempt to violate the law of gravity. Buildings, levees, dams, pumps, and channels represented works of man designed to put the Earth and it's ways into a pen.

Those works failed. We failed. When it came down to man v. nature (or man v. God, if that is your belief), man lost. It was our hubris to think it would be otherwise.

Nothing we do can stand up to the awesome power of the Earth. Its compensatory systems (earthquakes that relieve pressure on tectonic plates, volcanoes that relieve magma pressure by releasing lava through the crust, hurricanes and tornadoes that result from pressure differences in the atmosphere) are magnitudes of intensity more powerful than anything man could do to prevent or repel them.

If we had to raise the temperature of the Earth 1 degree just to save our collective butts, we couldn't do it. If we had to make a volcano erupt to save the lives of every person on Earth, we couldn't do it. If we had to stop a hurricane in its path to save a million people from certain death, WE COULDN'T DO IT.

That is why I don't buy into "global warming" as a manmade phenomenon, or even a phenomenon seriously influenced by man. Yes, the Earth is warming, but such is the way of the Earth. Long after my body has rejoined it, it will cool again.

In the face of the power of the Earth, all we can really do is live our lives as best we can, try to make each other happy, be good fleas (don't bite the back that feeds us), and raise our children to be good fleas, too.

ElderPagan Older than I look, younger than I feel

0

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

poof:

You said "The bottom line is that scientists and liberal hippies around the world don't want you to know that there is scentific data that shows that this is just a warming trend. You never hear about that data on the news."

First of all, "liberal hippies" and scientists are part of a conspiracy? Please.

Second, its not true that the news only reports the "global warming" theory. Almost every news report about this topic I have seen mentions the "natural fluctuation" theory.

Let's not be so liberal with the conspiracy theories, eh poof?

0

chzypoof1 8 years, 4 months ago

The bottom line is that scientists and liberal hippies around the world don't want you to know that there is scentific data that shows that this is just a warming trend. You never hear about that data on the news. All you hear is GLOBAL WARMING....AAAHHHHHH

The bottom line is that we need to conserve where we can conserve. Try to be cleaner about what we do on the planet. But sounding the air raid sirens about something you can't prove, is wrong. It just gives someone something to be afraid of, and that's what our society thrives on.

0

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

elderPagan

Indeed, the points that Solomon made about prehistoric climate change are taken. As to my "cherrypicking", I would also agree with Solomon that the Earth's climate has fluctuated throughout prehistory and that it is possible that this warming is simply part of the "natural" cycle. There are reasons to think otherwise, however, and I pointed to those reasons in my posting.

I also hope you are right that we are but fleas on the back of a dog, but I think there are plenty of good reasons to think otherwise.

0

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

Solomon:

You are correct that the Earth's climate has undergone fluctuations throughout prehistory that continues today.

I'm not sure of the exact time "global warming" began. It is a fact that it has increased dramtically in the last 100 years.

I don't know the amount that burning fossil fules adds to the greenhouse effect as you say, but that percentage seems low.

I don't recall these proponents of "sun blockage cooling", but I don't doubt they existed. This is why scientists gather data and modify their theories acoordingly.

I can't speak to your questioning of motivations of scientists other than to say that there are equal motivations by politicians and business leaders to deny human-induced global warming.

I hope you are right that humans have less impact than we think. Any one factor might be minimal, but one could imagine a scenario whereby combining CO2 emissions and deforestation might have a dramatic impact.

0

elderPagan 8 years, 4 months ago

"Concentrate on the facts"? "Concentrate on some facts" is more like it. Nice try at framing the discussion, Nightmare. You offered a group of facts of your own choosing as though they were gospel for a Sola Scripturist (holy, complete and infallible). They are none of those things.

By implication, you blamed eeeevil humans, and failed to show consideration of natural explanations for the things you cited. For example: You stated, "polar ice sheets are melting at a rapid rate". Maybe there is a natural explanation for that phenomenon .... but then we humans wouldn't be so eeeevil, right? You also failed to explain how a 1/2 degree F increase in surface temperature above the Arctic Circle (from -35 to -34.5, to use hypothetical, but reasonable numbers) causes all that melting. 34.5 degrees below zero is still below the freezing point of sea water.

You did not put your cherry-picked collection of bullet points in the context of the natural increases or decreases of mean surface temperature that have occurred over the history of mankind, or the history of the planet:

  1. You did not include information on natural changes in temperature for the Earth's mantle (heating the crust of the Earth from within). Has it changed, even 1/2 degree F, in the past 100 years? The past 50, or the past 5?

  2. How about the amount of solar emissions that strike the earth's atmosphere? Has it increased in the past 100 years? Could an increase in solar emanations cause the Earth's temperature to rise 1/2 degree F in a century? How about in a decade, or a year?

  3. Do you blame the Medieval Warm Period (850-1350 CE) on the cookfires of the Norsemen and the Anasazi? Maybe the global cooling of the "Mini Ice Age" that followed (1350-1950 CE) was the result of the overzealous environmental policies of the Conquistadors, Napoleon, and Jefferson Davis.

If we absolutely HAD to change the mean surface temperature of the Earth one degree (up or down) to survive. we could not do it. We don't have the power. Ultimately, we are no more than fleas on the back of a great Dog, and it is hubris for us to think otherwise.

0

Eybea Opiner 8 years, 4 months ago

Fact: Global Warming began 18,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age.

Fact: Approximately every 100,000 years Earth's climate warms up temporarily--called interglacial periods--for about 15,000 to 20,000 years before retreating to ice, again. We're in year 18,000 (approximately) of this warming period. It will end sometime around the next 2,000 years. Fifteen thousand years ago glaciers were halted and seas rose, 8,000 years ago the Bering Strait was flooded by rising seas.

Fact: In the 1970's some scientists were clamoring for controls on pollution fearing global cooling due to blockage of the sun. In fact, the earth had cooled from the 40's through the 70's. "Science" has now flip-flopped from fearing global cooling to fearing global warming.

Fact: Humans contribute about 0.28% of the greenhouse effect. CO2 has been increasing for 18,000 years.

Fact: Research scientists, including climatologists, are competing for a limited number of dollars. It's not a very compelling story on a grant application to say that "based on millions of years of history, Earth is likely to heat and cool at somewhat predictable rates no matter what it's current population does, but I would like several hundred thousand dollars to study this, anyway."

Now it may make sense to try to control emissions for any number of reasons, but no matter what we do, we are unlikely to have any appreciable affect on what Earth does with it's climate, aurora, magnetic field, etc. Humans have much less ability to affect Earth than they would like to think.

http://www.clearlight.com/~mhieb/WVFossils/ice_ages.html

0

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

It is important to concentrate on the facts.

Fact: CO2 levels in the atmosphere have skyrocketed in the last 100 years.

Fact: CO2 has a "greenhouse" effect, trapping heat radiation that would normally "bounce off" the Earth and return to space.

Fact: Global temperatures have increased in the past 100 years.

Fact: CO2-trapping mechanisms are disappearing, such as forests and swamps (although the ocean still does a pretty good job).

Fact: the polar ice sheets are melting at a rapid rate.

Fact: burning fossil fuels releases huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

0

echocry 8 years, 4 months ago

this we all should have already known, I have known it for most of my life. The problem is that nobody really does anything about it.

0

chicklet 8 years, 4 months ago

no kidding! i wonder how much he spent figuring this out.

0

bioteacher 8 years, 4 months ago

Testing and experiments have been done. Have you loooked at or understood any of the research? CO2 is a heat trapping molecule - increasing CO2, as humans have done, traps heat and over time has been changing the global climate. Pretty simple - check out places where this is making the biggest impact - the arctic and Antarctica.

0

KWCoyote 8 years, 4 months ago

The earth's climate has changed in the past---so-called ice ages, technically called glacial stages. These are believed to be caused by changes in the earth's orbit. The amount of heat absorbed vs reflected as a function of location no doubt also is a factor. Different materials (water, bare soil, vegetation, snow) reflect different amounts of heat. The moisture of the surface also is important. A wet or damp surface evaporates, producing more humidity and lower temperature than a dry surface like a desert, in which the energy absorbed is turned into dry and often high temperature.

The particles of the solar wind are ions, charged particles, not radioactive particles. It's their charges that make them interact with the ionosphere.

0

enochville 8 years, 4 months ago

I really like this paragraph: "I think there is very good evidence now that definitely the climate is changing," Feddema said. "We'll probably never come up with 100 percent proof before it's way too late to do something about it. So the question is, 'do you want to take the chance?' ... The problem is we only have one planet."

Can we detect that the climate is changing? Yes.

Can we tell whether humans are the cause? No. All we have is correlational data. Only experiments can determine causes.

Should this stop us from reducing greenhouse gases? No. Humans may be causing the problem so we need to change before it is too late, and changing won't hurt us even if we are not responsible for the climate change.

What else might be responsible for the climate change? The earth's magnetic field is weakening in preparation for a change in direction. When the field weakens, more solar wind strips the top layer of the atmosphere and more radioactive particles are allowed to the surface (i.e., more Northern Lights).

0

Ragingbear 8 years, 4 months ago

Scientific community as another discovery comes to them, proving that the sky is indeed blue.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.