Thursday, January 23, 2014


A recent article in the climate debate tells us a lot.
If you actually read the article, and try to understand what it is saying, it summarizes a major point of contention between believers and deniers.
Has there has been no significant increase in temperature between 1998 and 2012?…a very complex number, based on how/where readings are taken and analyzed…surface temperature, atmospheric, ocean, polar, equator, northern-southern hemisphere…many measurement yielding a single number. 
1998 was chosen as a base-line because it was regarded as the hottest year on record.  Since the subsequent years were not hotter, the argument is that we have peaked, and things are cooling off.  Published next week, it is expected to address the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record and world temperatures have not yet exceeded it, which scientists have so far struggled to explain.” 
One such explanation is that because of the melting polar ice caps over the last several decades…a commercial ship made it through the Northwest Passage by itself earlier in the year…the freshwater influx into the ocean has altered the dynamic of heat transfer, so the oceans have absorbed more heat than before, altering the surface global temperature readings.  “Germany called for the references to the slowdown in warming to be deleted, saying looking at a time span of just 10 or 15 years was ‘misleading’ and they should focus on decades or centuries.” 
Hence my reference…the argument now is moot.
2013 was hotter than 1998…that 14 year “cooling” trend was just a down blip in a long range, many year graph of increasing temperature data.  The report is expected to say the rate of warming between 1998 and 2012 was about half of the average rate since 1951 – and put this down to natural variations such as the El Nino and La Nina ocean cycles and the cooling effects of volcanoes.”  There is so much we do know, and so much more we do not know…the bottom line is that the earth is warming, the vast majority of scientists agree that fossil CO2 plays a large part in that, and that the impacts on climate worldwide will continue to be felt with more changes in weather patterns, more extremes in rain, snow, heat, cold, drought, flooding, sea rise, ecological succession, etc.
Why is there now a drought in California.  Here in the redwoods, we’re at 26% normal rainfall.  Meteorologists can show us satellite images of the “Polar Vortex” pushing cold moist air over the north towards the east coast, when it should be dropping moisture of the west coast.  Why?  El Nino, El Nina…all driven by ocean temperature differentials between the tropic and the polar regions…very complex stuff.  Meanwhile, California is about to ration water, farmers are worried about their crops, the wine industry is concerned about what low water will do to the years vintage; and elsewhere Australia is burning up, Canada announced that last year insurers paid out close to $3 billion for weather related damages, and the rest of the world struggles with flooding, drought, and other weather events.
Again, this is very complex and serious stuff, so I ask the question: “what if human CO2 is responsible for even more extremes in the future?”  We would have wasted a lot of time and a lot of money not making the inevitable transition to a lower carbon energy society when we had the time and money to do so.

This is a scientific dilemma, a political, economic, social and moral one as well.

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