Global Warming Effects Showing Up

One of the misconceptions about global warming (and there are many) is that the effects won’t be felt for decades or centuries. This encourages a ‘Why should I care?’ attitude among the general public. When scienti sts say the glaciers will be melted in 350 years, it doesn’t sound off the alarms for most people.What we need to do is to show people that global warming is already affecting their daily lives. And, the evidence keeps rolling in.

A report this week shows water evaporation is accelerating. By studying the ocean’s salt content scientists have found that the water cycle has increased by 4% over the last 60 years. This means drying places will dry even more and do it more quickly. And, that water will eventually come down meaning wetter places are getting wetter. In fact, what is being seen is the dry areas of the world are getting dryer and saltier, while rains in other regions are getting bigger. In other words, droughts and floods are both getting more frequent and more severe. This is what has been predicted all along and now we are seeing it.

It will continue to get worse over the coming decades. If you live in a dry area, it will get drier. If you live in a flood-prone area, it will flood more often.

So tell me, if the effects of global warming happen just asĀ  predicted, how is it the deniers still don’t get it? I would say it is getting more and more difficult for deniers to deny global warming, but the science has long been so overwhelming that it is already clear they will have no problem ignoring any science that comes along.

Sometimes, the problem is just terminology

Scientists have their own set of words and meanings and sometimes, these are different than what the general public thinks. Take the word ‘theory,’ for instance. When a scientist uses that word, he means something that has been tested over and over and passed every test. But, to the general public the word ‘theory’ means a best guess. That is what a scientist calls a ‘hypotheses.’ We observe something and we make our best guess, a hypotheses, as to the cause. Then, we put it to the test and observe the results. Based on those observed results, we modify our hypotheses and test it again. And, we do this over and over until we no longer need to modify the hypotheses and we then call it a ‘theory.’

So, when a scientist says, ‘We have a theory,’ other scientists hear, ‘We have tested the dickens out of this thing and it looks to be sound,’ but the public hears ‘We are making a guess.’ People who are skeptical of the scientific results are fond of disdainfully saying, ‘Well, its just a theory!’ To a scientists, this statement is a complement.

And, there is the crux of the problem. We are not saying and hearing the same thing.

In the world of climate change I hear the words ‘weather’ and ‘climate’ used interchangeably all the time. The words are not even close to each other, though. In a nut shell, ‘climate’ means what you expect and ‘weather’ is what you get. It is spring so I expect moderate temperatures in the day, a little chilly at night and lots of rain. I base that on the fact that this is the description of what happens between winter and summer. That is climate. But, on a given day it might be in the 90s or it might get below freezing. That is weather.

I would never say ‘the climate tomorrow is a high of 90 degrees.’ Neither would I say ‘the weather tomorrow is spring.’ The importance is that we are saying the climate is changing and that is not what we expected. But, weather is constantly changing and is expected to change.

We cannot take the weather on some given day and say that it is proof for or against climate change. There is natural variability in both the climate and weather. As we know, the weather can change from day to day and even from hour to hour. However, the climate is much more stable and takes a long time to change. In my example above, spring will always fall between winter and summer, but what are the dates and what are the average temperatures? We can see that spring is starting earlier and earlier and the average temperatures are going up, but it takes decades, and longer, to document this.

So, to start defusing the debate and end the climate wars it would be helpful if we would all start using the same meaning for a set of words. If we can find a common ground to talk and communicate on then a lot of the tension might go away and we can move forward.

At least, its a theory.

New Evidence of Global Warming

It keeps getting more difficult for climate change deniers to explain away all the evidence. A new NASA study shows how warm ocean currents are responsible for the majority of melting of Antarctic ice. Ice floating in the oceans around Antarctica is reducing in both extent and thickness. We have very good measurements of this using both radar and laser altimeter. Most of these measurements were made by instruments on ICESat, which flew between 2003 and 2009. ICESat 2 is scheduled to be launched in 2016. I’m sure it will be startling to compare the measurements of the second mission to the measurements of the first one with a gap of over seven years. Will we see the thinning continue? Or, will we see it reverse itself and get thicker? ICESat isn’t the only way we have of measuring ice cover and those missions are showing the thinning trend continues.

The study showed that the ice is getting a double whammy. Warm air from global warming is melting it from above and warm currents are melting it from below.

So, explain to me how it is that both the air and ocean around Antarctica are getting warmer if we are not experience global warming? The scientific data is there. Any contrary explanation must take it into account. I am willing to post any explanation for this data that opposing viewpoints might propose. Just send it to me.

The silence is deafening.

Oil Industry and the Arctic

It has long been known that the Arctic Ocean region has some of the largest deposits of fossil fuels in the world. But, these resources have been unattainable due to the severe climate of the arctic and particularly due to the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean.

So, why are so many oil companies suddenly making plans to drill in the arctic?

In the last few weeks Rosneft (Russia’s biggest petroleum company and one of the largest in the world) has made deals with ExxonMobil and Eni (Italian petroleum company). These deals involve many billions of dollars. Some of the development will occur in the Black Sea, but about two-thirds will take place in the ice-bound arctic. Or, at least it use to be ice-bound.

These companies are recognizing the world is changing and, by their actions, are acknowledging the inevitability of climate change. They don’t need to worry about sea ice as much as they use to because there won’t be as much sea ice as there use to. Less arctic ice means more open water and that translates into more accessibility to the arctic resources, including oil.

ExxonMobil continues to finance anti-science global warming deniers, but is also investing billions of dollars into regions that would be inaccessible if not for global warming. I guess they are covering both sides of the bet. With all the money they have, can you blame them? But, also note they are saying they believe global warming is real. They would not be making these deals otherwise.

Alarmism doesn’t help

It is difficult to convince a skeptical public that climate change is real and is not to our advantage. There is definitely a well and well funded group of deniers whose purpose it is to subvert science. They are greatly assisted in this when someone makes very alarmist statements.

One of the principle alarmists has been James Lovelock, author of several books on the Gaia Hypothesis which asserts Earth is a living entity and will react accordingly to our actions. Under this line of reasoning, Lovelock came to the conclusion that Earth will react in an extreme manner due to the way we are changing the climate. He even claimed in an interview that the human race will essentially be wiped out by the end of the century with only a few remaining breeding pairs living in the arctic region where the climate would be milder.

This kind of alarmism appeals to a certain crowd, mostly the same kind of people that believe the world will end on December 21, 2012. But, the majority of people see it for what it is, something that has no basis in reality. The problem is that real scientists warning of the consequences of climate change have been painted with the same brush. Once an extremist has turned off the public, it is difficult for serious people to get them back.

Now, Lovelock has backed off and stated he was wrong. Does this help? I don’t think so. In fact, I think it makes the case even worse because now the deniers will take his statements and use them against anyone discussing the consequences of climate change. There’s that paint brush again. They will argue that, since Lovelock admitted he was wrong in his claims, this is proof that all of the other claims are also wrong. This, of course, is a totally false argument, but it will be an effective one. People will hear what they want to hear.

What is really interesting is that the data Lovelock used proves the deniers are wrong. Lovelock points out the data does not show the kind of temperature increase he claimed would be happening by now. A plot of average temperature, by year, since 1970 shows the temperature climbing. It also shows this rate of increase has slowed since 2000, but is still increasing. The deniers claim that there has been no temperature increase this century and will even claim it has been cooling. But, as we can see, neither claim is true. The temperature may be increasing at a slower rate, but is still increasing. See for yourself (CREDIT: Kevin Trenberth):

Methane in the Arctic

Scientific instruments flown on planes over the Arctic Ocean during the 2009 and 2010 summers detected significant amounts of methane over the ocean. This methane is almost certainly coming from the ocean because it was more concentrated closer to the surface than higher up and was also more concentrated over areas of open ocean than over areas of ice. It is speculated that the source of the gas is microbes in water.

This is a double whammy for climate change. First, methane is a much more potent gas than CO2 so increased emissions of methane around the world will tend to increase global warming. Second, it becomes one more piece of evidence of climate change that the deniers simply cannot explain.

Ask the deniers, ‘If the oceans aren’t warming, how is it that there is a sudden surge in the growth of microbes, microbes that require warmth to grow?’ Then, try to figure out what they say truly means. I’m sure, no matter what they say, it won’t make sense on any level.

Share below any comments you might hear.

Climate Wars in the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal has recently upped the ante in the climate wars with op-ed pieces. Of particular note is one dated January 26, 2012 and titled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming“.

The president of the American Physical Society, Robert Byer, responded with a letter, published on February 6, 2012. Dr. Byer stated that the WSJ is inaccurate in its characterization of the Climate Change Statement by the APS.

The WSJ followed this up with another op-ed on February 21. Then on March 11. And, yet again on March 27.

This is unfortunate in that the editors of the WSJ have no expertise in the area that qualifies them to be making any kind of pronouncement. Additionally, with their choices of references and scientists they are showing they are tools of the fossil fuel industry. The people they quote and the sources they use are funded by such entities and ExxonMobile and Saudi Arabia. Remember that Saudi Arabia also provides funds to such pleasant entities as Al Qaeda. Does anyone believe they have our best interests at heart?

Why is the WSJ doing this? What could their motive possibly be? This is not a case where they are presenting credible science by credible scientists. The scientists they quote are all well-known to be earning up to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from the fossil fuel industry. Every paper these people have published concerning global warming denial have been shown to be entirely invalid. Very simply, there is no science out there that supports global warming denial. And yet, the WSJ keeps pretending there is. The only people that will buy into what the WSJ says in its editorial page are the people that have rejected science and believe what they want despite the scientific evidence.

If you think I’m wrong about that statement, then take my $1000 Global Warming Skeptic Challenge and prove it.

Now, William Nordhaus has published an article, Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong, in the New York Review of Books. It is a very well done article. Unlike the deniers, he backs his arguments up with science, data and logical arguments. Read it for yourself, if you don’t believe me.

All of this is summarized in the journal Physics Today.

What I find most interesting is the claim by the global warming deniers that they are victims and “live in a reign of terror” to be really amazing. Let’s be clear that it was the anti-science crowd of global warming deniers that have built a well-funded organization to attack climate scientists worldwide, sometimes literally. Scientists have been subjected to personal slander, had their emails hacked, had their homes attacked and their families threatened. The anti-science crowd cannot refute the data, so they have engaged in a guerrilla war to silence anyone that says anything that might threaten their economic welfare.

It is unfortunate that the deniers seem to be winning the war for the minds of the public because science is not an opinion. It doesn’t matter if the deniers convince the public about their anti-science claims. The world does not care. It will continue warming, whether the public believes in it or not.

Which side are you on? The side with the data and science? Or the side with the money?