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LJWorld.com weblogs Global Warming from a Conceptual Standpoint

In My Backyard

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Anyone who has been paying attention to climate change has noticed that interest in the subject, at least in this country, has increased with with the advent of the current heat wave and drought. I have thought of a corollary to the more common 'Not in my backyard' rule - If it isn't happening in my backyard, it might as well not be happening at all. Now that something is happening in our backyards, people are paying more attention to it.

Honestly, from a global perspective, if the U.S. drought and heat waves of the past couple of years were occurring in isolation, they would mean very little. But, they are not occurring in isolation. Parts of Europe have experienced unusual heat waves in 2003 and 2006. There was a broad stretch of unusual heat in Asia, from Russia, through Pakistan, India, China and Japan in 2007. Australia had a couple of heat waves in 2009. I'm not sure how much hotter it can get in the Amazon, but the area had major droughts in 2005 and 2010. I think most of us have already heard of the 2010 Russian heat wave which hit their wheat harvest so hard they simply banned all exports in order to ensure they could feed themselves. China is currently having a drought in a major grain producing region. The land area impacted by these events and the frequency of the heat waves have been increasing globally over recent decades, and now it looks like it is our turn.

GeorgeOfWesternKansas recently commented that it has been raining a lot in England. This is true. It is also true that this is compatible with the predictions made decades ago that there would be more rain, but that it would be concentrated it less area, and there would be a general movement of the rain bands toward the poles. Climate change is complicated, but recognizing that there is a problem doesn't have to be.

I came across a talk that summarizes the problem in a simple way very well. I'd encourage you to spend 15 minutes on it if you have the time.

Comments

RoeDapple 2 years, 5 months ago

After thoroughly researching this phenomena for at least the last 32 seconds I have discovered the explanation.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/scientists-trace-heat-wave-to-massive-star-at-cent,21088/

PASADENA, CA—Groundbreaking new findings announced Monday suggest the record-setting heat wave plaguing much of the United States may be due to radiation emitted from an enormous star located in the center of the solar system.

Scientists believe the star, which they have named G2V65, may in fact be the same bright yellow orb seen arcing over the sky day after day, and given its extreme heat and proximity to Earth, it is likely not only to have caused the heat wave, but to be responsible for every warm day in human history.

When asked if anything could be done to prevent or counteract the star's heat production, Kivens expressed skepticism.

"No, for the foreseeable future, I think we're locked into orbit with this thing," he said. "Although the star seems to disappear every night, 24-hour reports from around the world seem to indicate the star never leaves Earth entirely."

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

Umm, you are aware that The Onion specializes in satire, right? Can't tell if you are trying to extend that to make fun of people who say "It's the sun." or if you missed the fact that it is satire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satire

camper 2 years, 5 months ago

This is a good clip. I can only hope that our younger generations have the will to change our carbon based sytems to renewable options. There does not seem to be much will from our current generation(s).

The exponential and irreversible factors caused by things like permafrost melt and smaller icecaps are concerning.

Glenn Reed 2 years, 5 months ago

Seems like there's a sense of "victory" in this post.

It's hot! People will start to pay attention to the idea that it's hot! I mean, it topped 100 degrees every day for the last week!

You're missing the power of faith to keep people deluded in the face of massive evidence.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the comment Glenn, but I am well aware of the ability of some people to maintain a belief that contradicts overwhelming evidence.

For example, there is the dappled roe above who maintains some belief that the sun is responsible for the increase in heat content over the recent decades despite the fact that total solar irradiance has been pretty flat.

kernal 2 years, 5 months ago

Road Apple, slang for frozen horse poop. Also another name for Osage Orange a/k/a Hedge Apple.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 5 months ago

Excuse me! Power of faith? I think not. Faith does not mean to cease thinking and learning, it does not mean refusing to accept reality and deal with it. I am a Catholic and my church has been saying for a while now that we are stewards of this earth and supposed to treat all of it with dignity and respect. Okay, so not all Catholics pay attention to the Pope any more or even bother to read the latest from the Vatican and you will find very conservative Catholics such as Mel Gibson who just don't get it. What is going on scares me, but fear is not the solution, it should be the clue that something needs fixing and it is going to take every one on this little lifeboat in the cosmos to fix things. Take a look at a picture of Earth from orbit. It looks very fragile. It is finite, all the water that will ever be on Earth is here now. I believe this is a designed system, and people took an expensive sports car and drove it without changing the oil, etc. and the car just stopped running one day.

Paul Decelles 2 years, 5 months ago

This is a pretty good summary of what we expect to happen and a good explanation of the time lags involved. Thanks for finding the video. There is also a good video on TED by James Hanson: http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html

notaubermime 2 years, 5 months ago

Your statement is just a lot of hand-waving. If you really wanted to claim that climate change is increasing the frequency of droughts on a global scale, you would need to correlate drought frequency and intensity with global temperatures. Until then, your argument boils down to pointing out single year weather events.

If you are going to go the route of single year weather events, then you have to take into account all of the counter-examples like the record snowfall from the Rockies to DC a couple years back, the upper Mississippi flooding, and many others. Heck, for each drought, I could probably match it with a flooding event.

The point being that there is plenty of good, solid evidence for global climate change out there. Throwing in statements which rely on a great deal of arm-waving and alarmism only undermines and distracts from what is well-known.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

It seems that precipitation data is less clear, although, if you look in the comments of the previous post in this blog, your will find data that indicate a clear pattern of change between western and eastern Kansas. Heat wave data is very clear. Dr Hansen put together an observation (not really research, just observations on trends in the data) which you can find here.

http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1204/1204.1286.pdf

and the principle figure here

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2012/20120405_BellCurve_fig.pdf

It is very clear that the distribution of temperatures is changing, and extreme heat events are becoming more common.

"Heck, for each drought, I could probably match it with a flooding event." Umm, yeah, the prediction is that more rain will fall in less area. Some areas will experience droughts, and others floods. So, your statement is actually predicted by the science.

notaubermime 2 years, 5 months ago

I am sorry if I did not make this clear in my previous post, but I do not have any problems with statements regarding increasing temperatures. There is bountiful evidence that the planet has been getting increasingly warmer these past 2 or 3 decades.

The question is what this is going to do to precipitation. This has been a big unknown for quite a while now. So any statements that there are going to be more doughts or that "more rain will fall in less area" are inherently flawed by a lack of supporting analyses. Further, there isn't any real consensus in the scientific community that those predictions are accurate in the first place. It is just arm-waving.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

OK, again referring to my previous blog entry, try doing opening Google Earth, note the latitude bands where deserts tend to occur, and do a web search for Hadley Cell. Hadley Cells determine where deserts and rain bands occur. Lastly, use Googly Scholar to search for "hadley cell expansion". You will find that it is not just arm-waving.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 5 months ago

Another analysis has been generated by the IPCC, with 220 climatologist authors: http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/

The bottom line prediction is that the median is shifting toward warmer temperatures and more variability in the weather, with more extreme events,particularly on the heat wave/extreme precipitation events end of the bell curve. If you read over it, you'll find the various confidences in future predictions, and among the "likely" or higher level of confidence level predictions: -increase in number of and intensity of heat waves, which may or may not translate into droughts (only a medium level of confidence on increased number of droughts); -increased amount of rainfall and frequency of rainfalls, i.e. more flooding and more severe flooding events; -increased impact on water management systems, which can be overwhelmed by flooding, increased number of coastal storm surges, rising sea levels, etc.

Also interesting are the probabilities that if scientific and technical knowledge is used in the planning process, communities become less vulnerable and exposed to damaging events. Another point is that the preparedness is improved when key stakeholders are involved in the planning process. Delaying these processes will not change the likely outcomes, but it can make dealing with the consequences much harder to pay for and recover from.

notaubermime 2 years, 5 months ago

I, of course, do not have the time to read the entire thing, so I skipped to pertinent parts. Feel free to correct me if you feel that the part I have selected are not pertinent or overly edited.

With regard to whether the Great Plains will be increasingly subjected to droughts (as this blog would claim):

"The largest trends toward increased annual total precipitation, number of rainy days, and intense precipitation (e.g., fraction derived from events in excess of the 90th percentile value) were focused on the Great Plains/northwestern Midwest (Pryor et al., 2009)." p. 142

"In North America, there is medium confidence that there has been an overall slight tendency toward less dryness (wetting trend with more soil moisture and runoff; Table 3-2)" p. 170

It would appear the actual data would suggest opposite from the blog's hypothesis is actually occurring. This is why I dislike the unsupported statements that this blog is overrun with. The actual data doesn't even back these statements up.

Less arm-waving, more data and analyses such as can be found here.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 5 months ago

Agreed on the more data and analyses, but arm waving can be justified to call attention to distortions and misleading statements. I do also appreciate your qualifying your summary, asking me for feedback, which I will do as follows (pages I refer to are from the full document, not the executive summary):

1) The report summarizes trends in regional precipitation since 1950 as follows: ..."medium confidence that in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense or shorter, for example... in central North America..." p.20

Why, you may ask, is there a confidence level for studying trends in regional droughts in the existing record? It is because droughts are relatively infrequent and so even if there is a change in frequency, if the background number is low and the change is slight, the trend can be determined with low, medium or high confidence.

2) Despite recent trends since 1950, which shows our area having somewhat more precipitation, the report holds a less than rosy future for central North America. Looking at projections, based on what we know about the shifting means and variabilities of the complex phenomena, here's what the report has to say: "There is medium confidence that droughts will intensify in the 21st century in some seasons and areas, due to decreased precipitation and or increased evapotranspiration. This applies to regions including southern Europe and Mediterranean regions, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, NE Brazil and southern Africa. Elsewhere there is overall low confidence." p.25

So I would say that the blog's hypothesis, while preliminary and in need of further data and analysis, has some real support from the scientific community.

Why this is important to consider, even if confidence is only at the "medium" level is addressed elsewhere in the report: "over the past 30 years, twice as many people have been affected by droughts as by storms (1.6 billion vs 718 million) p.92

So, you see, a little arm waving is just fine if the result is folks paying more attention to the data.

notaubermime 2 years, 5 months ago

The first two quotes you included state that there is there is approximately the same confidence level that more droughts are to be predicted as there is that the actual data show that the opposite has happened. I would say that this is a major problem for anyone attempting to make a claim one way or another.

"So, you see, a little arm waving is just fine if the result is folks paying more attention to the data." Not if the data conflicts with your prediction and it undermines your credibility on other, more established data.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 5 months ago

You look right past the "medium confidence" statement on both quotes for some reason. The confidence level as defined by the IPCC is a combination of looking at the quality of evidence and the amount of agreement among the experts. If you invited a group of policemen who were familiar with your neighborhood's history and trends in order to determine the likelihood of being broken into, and after those policemen inspected your home, they said that while there hadn't been a lot of problems in the past, they had a medium level of confidence that you would have problems down the line, would you consider that to be arm waving?

Furthermore, would you consider it to be worth your while to find out what measures you could take to secure your posessions, to make it more difficult to get broken into, and to have a plan to quickly contact authorities if someone tried to break in? Just as you might take these prudent steps based on the expert opinion of those policemen, it seems very reasonable to take prudent steps as a culture to try to mitigate the impact of human activities on the climate, to plan for the real possibility of more extreme weather, and to do so in a preventative way, which is always much cheaper than trying to clean up the mess after it has happened.

Because droughts affect so many more people over a larger area than flooding and pretty much every other type of extreme event, taking the "medium level of confidence" conclusion of the experts seriously is a no-brainer. It also means continuing to collect the data and analyzing it so you can catch the process as early as possible.

notaubermime 2 years, 5 months ago

"You look right past the "medium confidence" statement on both quotes for some reason. " My post had 4 sentences in it and you still can't comprehend what I wrote? That tells me all I need to know.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 5 months ago

Oh, I understood your interpretation of the term "medium confidence" just fine--I just took pains to submit to you an alternative interpretation, complete with justification. So sorry I mistook your comments as being interested in a dialogue on the matter, which apparently you don't have. Thanks for the clarification.

Perhaps other readers will benefit from my explanation, so not all is lost.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

"It would appear the actual data would suggest opposite from the blog's hypothesis is actually occurring."

Again, if you would bother to catch up on the conversation to date, you would find that this ground has already been covered. Hadley circulation is a general pattern that is affected by mountains and other geography. There has been research that predicts that western Kansas will receive less precipitation, and eastern Kansas more. There are stream gauge data which have exactly this pattern.

RoeDapple 2 years, 5 months ago

dappled roe? Regardless of what I may or may not believe, you appear so smug and sure of your belief that as soon as it "appears" that evidence (tic) of a different opinion is posted you immediately resort to a mild form of name calling. If I or anyone else had seriously presented an argument against global warming I'm sure you would have enjoyed belittling those that disagree. After all, that's why you blogged about global warming in the first place. Isn't it?

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

Well, you chose your pen name and where to put the capitals, did you not? Roe is fish eggs and dapple is a spot or cloudiness. I suspect you meant horse droppings,

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/road-apples.html

but I think you hit it just as well with spotted fish eggs.

Hmm, maybe I do enjoy mocking those for whom the Dunning-Kruger effect runs strong, but I consider this a serious subject, and it appears that you are more interested in being a comic than having a serious discussion.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 5 months ago

Roe, I will confess that I was ready to explode in rage and let you have it, then I read it again and laughed. Actually, I am beginning to think that your humor is more sophisticated than one might think at first glance. I think you are hiding something with the cuzuns act. Didn't Mark Twain get called out for using the vernacular in Huck Finn? Hangs head in shame.

Paul Decelles 2 years, 5 months ago

Good grief, Lighten up people. Notubermime raises a good issue about the effects of climate change on droughts. From what I have seen we don't yet have real good data on this point. But see the following:

http://www.juliendias.com.br/docartigo/Increased%20flood%20risk%20linked.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/world/study-hints-at-greater-threat-of-extreme-weather.html?_r=1

Seems like it is in everyone's interest to make sure research into long term climate trends is properly funded. This should not be a political issue.

notaubermime 2 years, 5 months ago

Sadly, it is an inherently political issue because there is a lot of money involved.

"Seems like it is in everyone's interest to make sure research into long term climate trends is properly funded."

When I die, I want my tombstone to read "The available data support the hypothesis that notaubermime lies here, however, further research is necessary."

Paul Decelles 2 years, 5 months ago

LOL...but there is still a lot we don't know about climate and how our little experiment in planetary modification will pan out. Besides even if we are able to reverse global warming, we are likely to come up with another unintended way to affect climate.

notaubermime 2 years, 5 months ago

I completely agree with you. The humor to be found in the scientists' mantra does not take away from the fact that further research is truly necessary. BTW, why did you stop blogging? I enjoyed both your reasoned viewpoint and your wonderful pictures. I grew up in Kansas (live across the country now) and I love the way that your photos look at Kansas the way I did.

I have to wonder whether the sessile habitations on which our civilization depends are not inherently flawed in a world that is constantly changing in geologic time.

tbaker 2 years, 5 months ago

Fact: The earth’s climate has constantly gone through periods of warming and cooling. The latest scientific data suggests that we may actually be entering a period of global cooling.

Fact: CO2 is likely not the major cause of the global warming trend over the last one hundred sixty years we have been able to take reasonably accurate measurements of so-called global average temperature. Even if carbon dioxide was the cause, there isn’t much we could do about it. Manmade CO2 accounts for a very tiny percentage of atmospheric CO2. (<.04%). There is a much stronger correlation between solar output and global temperatures.

Fact: A group of over 140 scientists and researchers recently gathered at the IPCC to sign a declaration stating that there is no convincing evidence to suggest that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity cause climate change and called upon world leaders to abandon all efforts to reduce emissions. Over 31,000 scientists have signed a petition stating that there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of greenhouse gases activity is causing global warming.

Fact: There is no scientific proof that proposed global warming “solutions” will have any impact upon the climate. History is rife with examples of Federal Government programs failing. To depend on a government solution to a so-called global warming crisis would be foolish in the extreme given such a long history of failure of far simpler programs with much less consequence.

Fact: Seventh grade physics shows that CO2's molecular weight makes it very heavy. It can't rise high enough to cause the greenhouse effect. Yes, there is a greenhouse effect, but it's mostly caused by water vapor (the stuff clouds are made out of) because H2O is much lighter than CO2.

Fact: College freshman statistics will show you that the error rate in temperature samples used to calculate the so-called global average temperature is greater than the claimed temperature rise.

Fact: Clearing of forests happens only where governments own the forest. Private ownership of forests results in cyclical growing and cutting. They don't waste the economic value of their own land! Take a look at the huge forests in Georgia and Florida, owned by Weyerhaeuser & other lumber companies.

Fact: Sunspot activity is in a cycle in which it reduces warming radiation from the sun. This is actually causing a cooling cycle right now.

Fact: Back in the 70’s, the same government-connected scientists and insiders were trying to scare us with the coming ice age. Remember that?

Fact: Volcanoes and the ocean are by FAR larger sources of CO2 and other "greenhouse" gases. Many, many, many multiples of the amounts we exhaust.

Fact: NASA and IPCC scientists were actually caught faking "warming" data, and concealing information that contradicts the popular dogma from the alarmists. If "Global Warming" is true, why fudge figures?

camper 2 years, 5 months ago

Lets see some sources TBaker. I don't believe you.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

You have been misinformed.

For example, the concentration of CO2 has been measured across high altitude and low, and it varies by as much as 8 ppmv (out of ~390 ppmv). It is well mixed. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002AGUFM.A62B0151W

In contrast, water vapor is very scarce above about 8km. http://scipp.ucsc.edu/outreach/balloon/atmos/The%20Earth.htm

That was just the easiest to prove wrong. I wonder why you believe the people who told you this nonsense.

Paul Decelles 2 years, 5 months ago

tbaker,

Interesting. However I suggest you look at this material from weather underground for a somewhat different version of "the facts":

http://www.wunderground.com/climate/facts.asp

By the way check out the relationship between recent changes in solar irradiance and temperature.

I would be curious as to the source of your facts.

RoeDapple 2 years, 5 months ago

Although this is not necessarily my view, I post it to show anyone can find what they want to believe on the Internet. Enjoy.

Is There Global Cooling? The answer may not be what you expect.

http://isthereglobalcooling.com/

I'll even throw in a video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtevF4B4RtQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Paul Decelles 2 years, 5 months ago

Roe,

Sure and I can find web sites that claim the Earth is only 10,000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs such as T rex lived together. Personally I look at lots of different sites emphasizing those where the discussion is data based rather than polemical. I do often compare what Realclimate.org and wattsupwiththat.com say about the same sorts of issues. By the way there are some good general explanations of climate change--for instance http://www.newscientist.com/topic/climate-change

How do I know what sites to trust? I look for sites have the least amount of polemics and name calling; Sites that are run or involve scientists who actually work or have training in climate science; sites that make sense in terms of science and are kept current; sites that don't cherry pick.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 5 months ago

Paul, I go with sites that end in edu much of the time. and try to find actual science sites. I am not to proud to say that I have learned from a site meant to educate children as my knowledge of the subject was on the level of theirs.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

Yes, of course you can find anything you want on the internet. The trick is to be skeptical of everything until you can verify it. I guess that is the rub, how do you know how to verify it? Finding it repeated is certainly not enough.

Within this subject, it helps to have some science education because then you have a better chance of detecting if what is being said is nonsense. But even that isn't enough; I've seen people construct arguments based on pieces of solid science, but with one or two points wrong that invalidated their entire conclusion. I think in the end, if you aren't an active researcher in the subject, it boils down to an appeal to authority, whether that authority is a textbook, a research article, or something found on the web.

It bugs me when someone convinces themselves that the vast majority of people who have been studying the issue for the last 100 years are wrong, and their only evidence is something they found on the internet they did not bother to verify.

camper 2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Roe, I am trying to watch this. It looks like it is BS so far but maybe it is my own bias. Hopefully those who are more qualified than I might be able to render judgement and point out its accuracy or inaccuracy.

RoeDapple 2 years, 5 months ago

Oh I'm not arguing with you Paul, I'm not even arguing the point the blog writer is trying to make. What sets me off is the number of self proclaimed geniuses on the Internet who couldn't change their own diaper without Google. I normally don't let this kind of rant bother me, don't know what got into me. Maybe it's the heat.

Really, who uses their initials and birth date for their anonymous sign in?

;-)

Paul Decelles 2 years, 5 months ago

Oh there is nothing wrong with a good argument, now is there? Your example raises a good point namely how do you judge the accuracy of the information and interpretations presented online (or any where else for that matter) and that is what I was trying to give a feel for in my response to you. Hey it is cooler today!

RoeDapple 2 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, it is cooler. And I'm a summer person, usually the hotter the better. Maybe I should write up on the wall somewhere "I need to stay off the internet when temperatures exceed . . ."

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 5 months ago

Nope, stay on, I enjoyed the link as I thought it was a hoot. As we are going to have to get used to the heat, we might as well get used to you :-)

camper 2 years, 5 months ago

The future consequences (which are possible) are severe enough that any misrepresentation of facts and/or propaganda needs to be rooted out and exposed by those who are qualified to do so.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 5 months ago

Well, you have me there. It's been a while, but I think I was thinking that if you knew me, you would know it was me, and if you didn't you'd be unlikely to figure out who I was. Not very imaginative in hindsight.

camper 2 years, 5 months ago

As a non-scientist, all I can do is form an opinion based on the information I see. And the information my brain has received tells me that there is enough data to be very concerned about climate change. The links presented do a good job of summarizing.

I sometimes wonder what people will think of us 300 years from now (if indeed climate change is proven by that point). I wonder what they will think of threads like this if it might be available to them.

If global warming is indeed happening and it causes irreversible damage in the future, deniers will possibly go down as the most foolish group of people to ever walk on this planet.

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