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Sunday, 08 January 2012

Comments

From what I've read the same El Nino pattern which gave us here in Texas the worst drought since the 50's is responsible for keeping all the winter cold locked up in central Canada.

Hope it doesn't continue. One more spring/summer like the last one will be disastrous. Two nearby towns were down to a 30 day water supply at on point and many trees died.

I'm always encouraged by the notion that the human race are an almost imperceptible smudge on a small planet in an unremarkable tiny corner of a vast and incomprehensible universe, and that "no-one" outside of our own narrow experience will give a toss whether we are worried about global warming or not

Hi Mike,

Climate change or not, we in Minnesota are digging this winter (or lack thereof). Last year was unreal. As for me, I am buying a pair of Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. If you can't beat it, join it.

Take care,

Chris

PS: Sorry about that nasty comment on the AA exhibit. I just couldn't help myself.

PPS: Go Pack! It's all I've got left.

I've no idea what is happening to the climate because I know nothing about most things, when it comes down to it. However, my theory (with the aforementioned proviso firmly to the fore) when it comes to apocalyptic scenarios is that they help lessen our awareness as individuals that we are going to cease to exist. Currently it is global warming, previously it was AIDS, nuclear armageddon, a new ice age (this was the belief in the '70s IIRC), judgement day.... It makes it easier to accept our own mortality if we can convince ourselves that everyone else is going to go sometime soon as well.
Happy Sunday!
(Glad you are continuing with your collaborative experiment with Kirk BTW - will you be guesting on his blog at some point?).

It's a warmer winter up here in Juneau, AK as well, though our ski area is still open. At sea level it means one nasty slush-storm after another. We've had very few of the wonderful high pressure cold snaps that get everyone outdoors. This weather is lousy for photography unless you prefer histograms that look like steep humps of gray. What's scary about global warming is just how easy it is for so many to deny, and just how much it benefits those in power to do so.

No-one was ever thanked for taking painful pre-emptive action before anyone realised how bad the pain would have been without.

They only feel the pain NOW. Very often that pain is not even real, the fear of pain is enough. Sadly fear is a powerful weapon to wield politically and self interest is a major motivation to wield it.

Denying climate change as a political stance will appease many for a while, and then some poor sap will end up having to take far more drastic action to deal with it, and will be universally loathed. If it's left too long the price will be painful indeed.

However Climate Change is an interesting one. The issue is largely resolvable technically.

Large scale implementation of nuclear power and the elimination of carbon-fuel based industrial, domestic and transportation systems would do it. Carbon free electricity could also be used to generate hydrogen as a fuel for forms of transport that have to be fully autonomous, such as aircraft. We could reduce carbon emissions by 90% quite easily.

Of course the political opposition to this would be enormous. The same people who panic most about global warming are also vehemently opposed to nuclear, whereas the energy costs would be considerably higher as long as gas and oil reserves remain plentiful and accessible. Ho hum. Tough choices ahead I guess.

But I am also confident that other solutions will and can be found. Moreover, a low carbon economy reduces dependency on foreign oil and gas supplies. If someone can come up with a win-win solution, then we may have a chance.

I'd like to add a PS to my previous comment. A few years back on this blog I made a comment (or two) about global warming that pissed a number of folks off and earned me the support of a few more.

I do believe in climate change and or global warming but I don't know if humanity is big enough have much impact on it's own. I'm not saying it isn't, just saying "I don't know". Don't forget there's been a general warming period at least in the northern hemisphere since the mini ice age 1600's. The 70's saw a bit of cooling off which also alarmed folks.

I will though share common ground with global warming believers in the fact I despise human caused pollution at all levels and will support all efforts that contribute toward a cleaner world. I don't care for politicians who bluntly deny a problem or those who would attempt profit off from the situation.

why would we be so ruthless and heavy-handed in destroying that balance

Off the top of my head, a couple of reasons.

ONE, we've always lived in this world and it's difficult to believe something worse is going to appear.

TWO, money. Or greed, take your pick. I have the right to do so because it will make money for me, will look good on me... ekcetra. Usually followed by GO TO ONE.

The "delicate" balance is a bit of misnomer, though. It is delicate only if you think that this world is perfectly poised in this state and has always been poised in an unchanging moment. This belief is pretty evident in the way we treat natural disasters. "Oh, woe, the river has flooded. Oh, woe, the volcano has erupted." And so on. The truth is, the world has been changing for far longer than we've existed as a species. The rivers have been flooding ever since there were rivers. Ditto for the volcanoes. The world has coped. It's us who cannot cope.

The problem is in the speed and extent we wreak the changes, ever since the destruction of the megafauna in Americas through overgrazing and soil depletion to the industrial pollution.

Because of ONE, people have no idea what happens around them. A good example is — not an obscure caterpillar here — the prairie dog. At one moment considered vermin because the cows broke legs in their burrows, they were apparently almost annihilated. And then it turned out that their aerating the soil played the vital role in sustaining the prairie where the cattle grazed.

Should the change occur slower, the world would still cope. Maybe the yellow vine warbler (made it up) would go extinct, but another bird would probably take its place.* At the rate of change we instigate, there's simply no time for the nature to patch itself up. I repeat, we simply don't know the role the smallest creatures have in the natural balance. Any step can be the step that will take us over the cliff to lose what we have.

I may not think that we need to put the world in stasis, but we certainly don't need to devour it in bites and gulps. I, for one, don't want to live in a concrete wasteland, for all that some animals would find sustenance there with us.

* Birds do that. For instance, if there are no kestrels present, buzzards will take up their role, down to the same hovering behaviour.

"...So if we're all so convinced that Earth exists in a delicate balance, why would we be so ruthless and heavy-handed in destroying that balance, and why wouldn't we do more to prepare for changes that even the most optimistic among us concede are occurring?..."

Because we're not *all* convinced. Those who ultimately decide how heavy-handed destruction of the balance is and what, if any, degree of preparation we'll undertake aren't convinced.

The differences between global warming (I refuse to capitulate to political correctness and use "climate change" instead) and other apocalyptic fears you mentioned are 1) how many humans the planet now suffers and their vastly greater survival needs in the face of its resultant diminution of ability to provide, e.g. water and food, and 2) inertia.

Even if "...it could be a perfectly normal winter that would have happened exactly the same way had the entire human population of Earth consisted of 20,000 hominids dressed in animal skins, hunting with spears for a living...," it seems unlikely that 7 billion will survive through more than a few such winters before their numbers begin declining substantially and those spears become necessary again.

Previous apocalyptic fears have been overcome by human advancement. Religious apocalypse (for the most part) by scientific knowledge. Nuclear armaggedon by cool heads and mutually assured destruction protocols. However, there's a very real possibility that earth's climate system is about to reach or has already reached a tipping point from which it cannot follow a precise return path, simply because the time lag between action and reaction is too long. Global leadership lacks, so the planet *as we knew it* is probably history.

I am glad to be childless by choice and have all those Ansel Adams images as reminders of what once was. :)

I sincerely hope all the deniers are right too, since every scientist whose research is not covertly funded by oil money (not to mention the one funded by the uber right Koch Bros- much to their dismay) all agree we're in a big pile of our own making.

Funny how so many the same people who do not believe in UFOs because "the science just isn't there," often don't believe in man made climate change- despite the overwhelming, irrefutable science. Or the theory of evolution, or maybe even that theory of gravity thing.

We homosapiens are guests on this floating planet called earth.
So be a good guest and don't destroy what has been established for many years.
And yes we too shall be gone one of these days, we all die, even the cockroaches which will outlive us.
And here in Southern Ontario we've had some snow, now gone, however we all shall pay dearly mid-February or thereabouts.

Mike,

Your Non-Winter, of which you speak is a reflection of the Non-Summer we are experiencing in Sydney. A smattering of warmer days but generally lower temperatures, cloudy days giving way to late rain.

Maybe the tempering of climatic extremes is an even more delicate delicate-balance.

Cheers,

One interesting thing about the climate-change deniers (and many believers in the idea) is that their positions are *political.* Why should most deniers be conservative, and most believers be liberal? The climate doesn't care about your political position...It just astonishing to talk to some otherwise intelligent conservative and have him tell you all the reasons that climate change isn't happening. It's all because environmentalists are liberals, and some climate-change scientists got caught trying to keep climate deniers out of the science journals...it never has anything to do with the Arctic ice melting away. It's like, "Huh?"

One thing to keep in mind about apocalypses is that we actually have some experience with them. Historians think that over half of Europeans were killed by the Black Plague, and genetic historians have argued that the human race (homo sapiens) was once reduced to as few as a couple hundred individuals. The possibility of a nuclear armageddon was real, as is the possibility of some kind of biological disaster.

It brings to mind what Christopher Hitchens said before he died. I don't have the exact quote, but it was something like, "It's not that the party is over. The party will go on. It's just that you have to leave." If any of these armageddons or apocalypses actually take place, the world's party will continue, it's just that the human race will have to leave.

I have, by the way, been to Armageddon several times. It's a strategic hill, and a major archaeological site, at the beginning of the Jezreel Valley in Israel. "Armageddon" is an Anglicization of "Har Megiddo," or "Hill of Megiddo." One of the earliest battles of which we have tactical knowledge took place there, between the Egyptians and some rebellious locals.

JC

All I can say is that here in New Zealand we didn't get much of summer yet. Hasn't warmed up really and it's been raining a lot.
The long term forecast is for a very wet summer. I guess the farmers love it, but in the city it's not that great...

I grew up in Chicago and have enjoyed many a summer up in Wisconsin fishing with my Uncle. The Great Lakes area is a wonderment! I'm really glad the glaciers that once covered the continent melted and left those lakes behind. Somehow they melted before the light bulb managed to cause the planet to overheat.

Global warming is just another boogieman in the toolbox of control over people and the profits that come with it. Regular light bulbs were cheap and unprofitable. Convince everyone that we are all going to die horrible deaths because they exist, and you have a profitable business model. Let's replace them with the Patented and Profitable CFL. They are GREEN! Green for whom? The accountants. How environmentally friendly is the CFL? It's NOT. Have you ever read the instructions on what you have to do if one breaks in your house?? http://epa.gov/cfl/cflcleanup.html
How many people do you think take these to a proper hazmat reclamation center when they burn out. The vast majority will just toss them out in the trash, and in the cumulative will render lethal doses of mercury into the groundwater. Now the government if forcing you to put toxic chemicals in your house in the name of global warming.

BRILLIANT!

What people will trade for the alleviation of fear no matter how irrational. I find it frankly disgusting.

Can we go back to taking photos now?

Omg, someone is quoting Oreskes.
And what is this "melting of the ice caps.."? Antarctic ice has grown massively over the years and Arctic ice is tracking pretty much as normal. Even the Climategate characters admit there has been no global warming since 1998 - email from Trenberth to P.Jones: "it's a travesty!". The UN IPCC has lost all credibility (for a great summary of its chicanery, check out Donna Laframboise's "The Delinquent Teenager..", 2011), Mann had his hockey stick blown away by McIntyre, and sea levels "have not accelerated for the last 100+ years" (Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, Aug., 2010, and again in Mar., 2011).
And on last check, cars are still successfully travelling around the Manhattan perimeter road - James Hanson, GISS, 1980: "by 2010, the Manhattan perimeter highway will be under water" - in fact, no rise is measurable.
Start listening to reputable scientists, including the astro and geo-physicists, who don't have their rent-seeking hands out for massive grants.
And just where is that paper(s) which has a supported hypothesis that CO2 is the controlling variable for global temperature? Author, date, name of paper, and publishing journal, please.

Oh, and where are those 50 million "climate refugees" supposed to be wandering the world by 2010? In fact, the populations on the water-magnet islands have been increasing, and the Maldives is now constucting a new sea-level international runway.
And yes, I studied at Cambridge(UK). And of course I get a huge cheque every day from Big Oil...

You know what you photographed, don't you?

Chemtrails.

Mind-altering substances sprayed from gummint jets flying at high altitude. I read about them on the Internet, so it's gotta be true.

Dear MJFerron,

OK, understand that it is usually as impossible to argue directly with the hard-core Global Warming Deniers as it with Moon-Landing Deniers, Evolution Deniers or Holocaust Deniers. By and large they ain't gonna budge, no matter how at odds with facts their belief system is. They will nitpick you to death. Ditto for conspiracy buffs. They can explain away any argument by claiming a vast network of disinformation is being directed that them.

But for those who are merely confused by the clamor or lack a way to sort the conflicting claims (as you seem to imply for you) there are many excellent sources of information.

You can Google on the words "climate change refute skepticism" and get a long list of sites, but I recommend the following four, in decreasing order of conciseness/readability. That is, the topmost ones are the most accessible to a lay reader who doesn't want to have to read the web equivalent of War and Peace or digest complex technical information. As you drill down, it gets longer and/or more technical.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics

http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?cat=5

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_controversy

These are by no means the only good and readable pages. But if a reader is not sufficiently convinced by what is on these pages, others are not likely to sway them.

pax / Ctein
==========================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
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In the United States, the climate change denial industry is being financed, in part, by two billionaire brothers, lifelong libertarians who have quietly given more than a hundred million dollars to right-wing causes.

The brothers, through subsidiaries, operate refineries in Alaska, Minnesota and Texas.

Summer was late down here is Australia, I was happy about it.

Same weather here in Poland. I lived 5 years in Ireland and saw snow once or twice for total of 30 minutes, went back to Poland for good and I get same weather??? Not fair. Usually beginning od december is knee deep here...

And, while you're at it, be sure to pick up Max Brooks' "The Zombie Survival Guide". You never know...

There is no doubt there is global warming after all we used to be covered by glaciers and Chicago supposedly under 300 feet of ice. The glaciers are all gone so we know it warmed up. I just want somebody to explain a couple things.

1- In the 70's we were told there was a "consensus among scientists" that there was a severe threat of global cooling and it would destroy our agriculture and our ports would freeze up making it impossible to move products to market. We were warned on the first Earth Day in 1970 that by 2000 the world would be 14 degrees cooler. This was front page news in Newsweek April 28, 1975 and also in Time, National Geographic, and the New York Times. Did we do too good in solving this problem?

2- In the 1800's we were coming out of the Little Ice Age. Could this have contributed to the warming we are now seeing?

3- Was the Medieval Warming Period of 950-1250, which resembles out current warming also caused by man?

The problem is that whether the "consensus" is warming or cooling somebody is always making a lot of money from it.

Mike,
You might find Jeff Master's blog entry for today interesting:
Remarkably dry and warm winter due to record extreme jet stream configuration. I recommend his writing, very clear and well structured. I think of him as the "Mike Johnston of weather."

I for one, am concerned about climate change because my children (and grandchildren) are quite likely to live a very long time. So, I have been pondering what kind of apple trees to plant, bearing in mind that the local climate in MD may be quite a bit like SC when they and my children are full grown. I had not anticipated wild oscillations from season to season.

Will

Dear Ctein,

Thank you for the time and effort in providing the links. I spent about 45 minutes absorbing a fraction of the information and will do more homework on the subject.

Yes when you view the photos of retreating glaciers there has been undeniable changes. Radical changes. Yet I think the Earth is most always experiencing changes one way or another. Again I'm with ya on any solution to clean up messes we humans make. (I hate toxic, polluting, smelly gasoline and petroleum. Time for new ideas!!) Corporate greed and individual carelessness has taken it's toll unfortunately.

My personal take is larger forces and factors have a big roll in what happens as well and it's possible we humans have a wrench in the works. I keep getting pulled back to the history of Greenland's climate. Seems it's been much warmer and maybe colder all within the last 1000 years.


http://nsidc.org/arcticmet/quickfacts/climate_change_lesson.html

http://www.drroyspencer.com/global-warming-natural-or-manmade/

Mike,

The opposite is happening on the other side of the world (mine).

India is reeling under a "cold wave", cities that haven't seen snow in a half-century are getting reacquainted with a new form of precipitation.

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/cold-wave-sweeps-north-india-snowfall-in-pathankot-after-40-years-164912?pfrom=home-topstories

There *are* drastic and un-understood changes afoot.

I was reminded of Le Chatelier's principle (from high-school chemistry): "Any change in status quo prompts an opposing reaction in the responding system".

I fear the "opposing reactions", unfortunately, are not going to be good for mankind.

"I remember hearing the term "suicide prevention" with a friend who argued that there could be no such thing. Because, he said, if you prevent it, how do you know it was going to happen?"

That's in the same category as the conspiracy to kill all the paranoid people.

Spring-like weather in London too and even odder in Moscow - where I was a couple of weeks ago and need to go back for work next week - where the temperature has hardly gone below freezing. It normally is way colder than that and my Russian colleagues are thoroughly mystified.

"Semper ubi sub ubi." The end is near!

cfw

Dohmnuill,
You keep on believin', brother. From your keyboard to god's in-box. Just squinch your eyes tight and hope, hope, hope.

Mike

I suggest everyone read Michael Crichton's 'State of Fear'.

Climate change is hands down this most important issue confronting humanity -- and it is being almost totally ignored by the mainstream media, politicians and the public. The evidence is overwhelming. It is easy to blame the "deniers" when in fact we are all in willful denial. The actions that need to be taken are totally at odds with economics. When you read phrases like "thinning the herd" in regards to human population written by scientists it is easy to see why people don't want to deal with this. What needs to be done runs against human nature.
How about those Packers, eh?

Well here in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia we have been enjoying a mild summer. Today's temperature forecast is 31℃ instead of the more usual 40-45℃. I really hope that this continues.

When the first European came to this area in 1830 he documented conditions in winter that described how a horse was useless as a mode of transport as they got bogged in the mud and unable to move. Now we receive very little winter rain and seem to be permanently in danger of drought and have water restrictions permanently.

The majority of people in our town believe in global warming as it is plain to see here and most have seen it first hand in their life. In fact when a campaign was run here to encourage people to live in a more environmentally sustainable manner the climate skeptics who miraculously appeared were all from elsewhere and had no idea of the conditions that we live in.

Unfortunately this summer is nothing but a respite.

Remember 1980/81? A very mild Mid-Western winter.

I'll be thinking about you in Wisconsin, Mike, while I'm out ice fishing tomorrow, here in New Mexico.

This use of the word 'denier', as in 'climate change denier', is at best too loose, and at worst, intellectually dishonest. Its object is to lump together those who are sceptical about global warming with Holocaust deniers, a morally suspect crowd. But the Holocaust is a historical fact, while climate change is a scientific hypothesis, which is impossible to prove or disprove, unless an experiment can be devised for this purpose--and unfortunately the climate does not lend itself to such experiments.

Dear Jim H,

"1- In the 70's we were told there was a "consensus among scientists" that there was a severe threat of global cooling ..."

No, That's a complete fabrication. It wasn't true then, it was never true. The Deniers made that one up, as they do most of their "facts."

A few people hypothesized this in the early 70's. Someone wrote a popular book. It was never a mainstream scientific belief. The notion was very quickly examined by the scientific community, found wanting, and disappeared as even a remote hypothesis by the mid-80's.

It never was a majority, let alone a consensus view.

Pretty much every bit of your post (and Dohmnuill's) is refuted here:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

and here

http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics

Read and be educated.

~~~~~~~~

Dear MJFerron,

Spencer's site is flat-out lies. Not matters of opinion, not judgement calls. Just lies. All the research he claims isn't being done, all the alternative explanations he says are being ignored? Wrong on every count. Wrong for at least a dozen years.

I read the primary journals. I read the actual research papers, as they get published. I *KNOW* this guy is lying, because I've read the voluminous research he claims doesn't exist, that takes into consideration and tests the alternative explanations he claims the climatologists ignore.

Yes, now they do ignore a lot of what he says matters. That's because it was proven wrong!

Look, I've given you references to materials that are trustworthy and scientifically credible. You want to read plausible-sounding charlatans instead, that's up to you.

pax / Ctein

I live in Ottawa, Canada and have used my snow blower only once this year (it was only a 4-5 inch snowfall). It will be above freezing for most of the coming week. This is highly unusual weather, to say the least.

Weather is highly variable, I remember it raining one New Year's eve in Montreal in the early 1970s, and it's risky to make inferences about long-term (decades and centuries) based on year to year weather changes.

But, we have lots of scientists world-wide that are using better and better data, and better data analysis tools, and these guys are good at their jobs, who they spend their days actively trying to find faults in each other's work, because that's how research works. In research, you're constantly second-guessing your own work, as well as others, because that's how you refine theories and models. That's how all of science has progressed. How anyone could think that there is a vast conspiracy of researchers, a politically based one at that, is beyond me. You can't get three researchers in any field in a room to agree on the colour of the damn wall paper.

"This use of the word 'denier'...is...intellectually dishonest. Its object is to lump together those who are sceptical about global warming with Holocaust deniers"

Who says so? You say so. I didn't say so. A "denier" is someone who denies something, that's all. I deny lots of things--the existence of ghosts, for instance. You may call me a ghost denier without connoting the holocaust or AGW or anything else.

Many people feel that calling the term "global warming denier" perjorative is itself a stratagem of global warming deniers. [g]

In any event, it appears that "global warming denier" is much the more common term. A Google search for it yields 1,410,000 hits, whereas a search for the term "holocaust denier" yields a modest-by-comparison 551,000 hits.

Mike

Mike, that's the problem of the Warmists - believin'.

Science does not operate on belief, it operates on empirical data which either supports or negates hypotheses.

So when you tell me to "keep on believin'.." you break one of the cardinal rules of the Scientific Method. It's quite revealing that no answer to my question about a paper was forthcoming - instead, just a dose of scientific illiteracy and avoidance of providing evidence.
Now that's "believin'..." and nothing more!

OK, we're supposed to believe that variables that affect climate, such as solarwinds, solar flares, ocean currents, cloud patterns, and the angle of the earth's axis, all remain static while an increase in CO2 has us on the fast track to Armageddon?

I don't buy it. The earth has been through numerous climate cycles. How is it that Otzi the Iceman met his demise, and then was buried in ice for 5300 years?
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/%C3%96tzi_the_Iceman

Can we assume the glaciers in Northern Italy had retreated far enough that Otzi was comfortable wandering around at 10,000 ft?

Some weather & climate related websites for reference:
http://www.climatedepot.com/
http://www.weatheraction.com/pages/pv.asp?p=wact37

Man-made climate change is not a matter for debate. It is not dependant on the consensus of public opinion. It is a physical phenomenom that those who study such things have determined is unequivocal. Arguing the conclusions of climate scientists, without being a climate scientist oneself, is like arguing with your airplane engine mechanic, without being one of those either.

Climate change is not going to go away if we choose not to believe in it. Denying climate change only makes us less prepared to cope with it.

Well, not ONLY. Denial also makes the status quo lots of money; it protects us from facing what we’re doing to future generations by failing to act; and sadly, it creates even more, and more catastrophic, climate change.

What I don’t get is why climate change deniers (the lay kind, not the pros – they clearly have vested interests) insist we do nothing. If there is even a small chance that the scientists are correct, isn’t it prudent to act as if they are? The stakes of being wrong on this issue are not trivial. This is not some abstract high-school debate.

Action is even more desireable when we add to this risk analysis that cautionary action is beneficial in so many other ways. So what if pinko-enviro-scientists turn out to be alarmists indulging the latest flavour of apocalyptic fear? Weening our economies off of fosil fuels decreases pollution, stimulates the economy, and helps the trade balance!

Mike, you hit the nail on the head. Humans tend to react to threats rather than anticipate them. Human history is littered with civilizations that have failed because they have pushed their environment beyond its ability to support them. Luckily, there has never been a civilization with more tools than ours to see a threat of this scale coming and to avoid it. If only we will open our eyes as a body politic and act.

I recommend _A Short History of Progess_ by Ronald Wright.

http://www.amazon.com/Short-History-Progress-Ronald-Wright/dp/0786715472/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326086215&sr=1-1

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