Climate Change: How Much Time Do We Have?

The other day, I found myself sitting in a Sunday school room talking about climate change. Mostly, I’m pretty comfortable doing that—despite a rather informal background in science, I’ve spent a good chunk of the last decade educating myself on the topic. But this question surprised me.

“How much time do we have?”

It wasn’t really the question itself, which was logical enough. It was my own emotional reaction. The folks awaiting an answer were my friends, and there was something in their eyes that both spoke of hope and of fear. They cared deeply about the answer. They were ready to work on the issue of climate change, and they wanted a reasonable number to work with. I so wished that I could have said twenty years, or even ten.

I suppose technically, I could have; no-one specified what exactly the time was needed to accomplish, so I could have picked some goal attainable within twenty years, or ten, and spoken from there. But I’d have been lying, or at least equivocating. So I said, “None, really. We are late, and we just need to work not to get any later.” And my heart broke, just a little.

Why do I believe that to be the least misleading thing I could possibly said to such a very open question?

Hurricane Katrina at its peak, before making landfall on the Gulf coast.
Hurricane Katrina at its peak, before making landfall on the Gulf coast.

Because it’s already too late for the victims of climate change to date.

It’s too late for the 2,000 or so who died in Katrina—and they may have been victims of climate change, as well as victims of mismanagement of the levees and the Louisiana wetlands and FEMA. It’s too late for the 70,000 who died in the 2003 European heatwave—and climate change almost certainly contributed to that disaster. It’s too late for the 56,000 who died during the Russian heatwave and wildfire event of 2010.

It’s impossible to say with any certainty that all of these victims died as a result of climate change. What’s called “attribution” of single events to climate change is difficult. But we do know that these sorts of events are much more likely in a warming world. And we do know that we live in a warming world.

My guess is that, allowing for many other events (up to and including the deadly Asian heatwave hurting Japan, Korea and China as of this writing) as well as the three examples already mentioned, it is very possible that as many as 100,000 people have so far died prematurely due to climate change. Many others have been impoverished or displaced, and economic losses—again, my best guess, not scientific estimate—are probably well in excess of $100 billion US.

Again—that is not a scientific estimate. It’s a personal and very rough one. But scientific analysis has specifically shown that the odds of the 2003 and 2010 events are much higher due to climate change than they would have been. It’s hard to say just how many deaths and how much damage are due to climate change. But it’s quite likely a significant number of each.

Munich re, a German insurance giant, produced this graph of rising disaster trends.  Note that, although the graph quite properly disclaims certain attribution to climate change, only climate-related disaster classes are rising.
Munich re, a German insurance giant, produced this graph of rising disaster trends. Note that, although the graph quite properly disclaims certain attribution to climate change, only climate-related disaster classes are rising.

Because climate change is insidious.

Like lung cancer, or heart disease, the damage being done by climate change is not obvious at first, and may already be mortal by the time it really becomes evident.

Consider this scenario: it is dinner time, and you decide have some soup. You put your pan of soup on the stove and turn on the heating element. But then phone rings and the conversation quickly engrosses you. You don't hear the sound of the pan boiling over, but you do soon smell burning soup...

After duly considering the possibility, science now tells us that there is little or no chance that a runaway greenhouse effect can cause our oceans to boil. But just as the heat from the stove takes time to warm the soup to the boiling point, the greenhouse effect takes time to warm the oceans—decades, in fact.

Because of that delay, it is difficult for us to appreciate the damage we have already done. We see a small change without understanding that we have already made a considerably larger change unavoidable. In that sense, it is always ‘later than we think.’

Miami Beach flooding.  Photo courtesy City of Miami Beach.
Miami Beach flooding. Photo courtesy City of Miami Beach.
Selected from Strauss PNAS commentary.  Upper line show 'business as usual' scenario; inundation points for large American cities are shown.  Lower line shows the scenario for aggressive emission cuts; only Miami becomes committed to inundation.
Selected from Strauss PNAS commentary. Upper line show 'business as usual' scenario; inundation points for large American cities are shown. Lower line shows the scenario for aggressive emission cuts; only Miami becomes committed to inundation.

A dramatic example comes from the work of Benjamin Strauss. According to his commentary article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, evidence suggests that “we have already committed to an additional 1.3 m[eters] [about 4 feet, 3 inches] of rise above the current sea level.” If one uses a standard of 25% of municipal area below the high tide line, then approximately “500 American towns and cities are already committed, now home to 6.0 million...” Miami is expected to join that list within 10 years or so, unless extremely drastic reductions occur.

So if Strauss is correct, it is too late to save several hundred American towns from eventual inundation, and nearly too late to save Miami—even though that inundation will take much longer to actually happen. Those towns will be ‘walking dead.’

Because global emissions still seem to be increasing.

Consider the following graph of global carbon dioxide emissions:

Despite irregularities, the overall slope of the curve is increasing. It’s not surprising that this should be so. Political and economic factors have favored such an outcome. The very rapid economic growth in developing nations during the last couple of decades has been notable—and built on the exploitation of cheap fossil fuel.

Then too, although the Kyoto accord to control emission has had some successes—a number of nations, mostly European ones, will meet their Kyoto emissions reductions targets—Kyoto was never adequate to the scale of the climate challenge humanity faces. Developing nations were excluded, the US—then the world’s largest emitter—never ratified it, and several nations, including Canada and Russia, have now withdrawn from it, either formally or in practice. Worse, it will soon expire, and progress toward a successor agreement has been desperately slow—no such agreement is anticipated to be in place before 2020.

In the meantime, advances in the technology for extracting oil and gas (including the now-famous “fracking” techniques) expand the practical reserves of fossil fuels and lower prices. This, of course, provides economic incentive to burn yet more oil and gas. Ironically, climate change itself threatens to open up new reserves in the Arctic Ocean—reserves already subject to greedy anticipation. This, too, would drive the emissions curve higher still.

US Coast Guard helicopter rescuing Shell Oil personnel from the Arctic drilling rig Kulluk.  Image courtesy youtube.
US Coast Guard helicopter rescuing Shell Oil personnel from the Arctic drilling rig Kulluk. Image courtesy youtube.

But I didn’t mention the straight lines in the graph, and they are worth considering as well. They represent different ‘emissions scenarios’ used by the International Panel on Climate Change. Warming will depend in large part on us—how much carbon humans allow to enter the atmosphere. Different social choices mean different warming. Each emissions scenario assumes a certain type of social development generating a characteristic ‘trajectory’ of carbon emissions.

We needn’t go into all of them here. But note the green line on the graph, labeled “B2.” It’s the most ‘ecologically friendly’ scenario—but by 2010, the world was already emitting two billion tonnes more than that. In fact, we are not very far below the emissions projected for A1F1—essentially, the ‘worst-case’ scenario.

In terms of reducing our emissions, it is very late indeed.

Emissions 'wedges', from a plan to reduce California's GHG emissions to mandated levels.
Emissions 'wedges', from a plan to reduce California's GHG emissions to mandated levels. | Source

Because we are running out of time to avoid what is generally considered ‘dangerous’ warming.

The international community has set an ‘aspirational target’—which seems to mean something like ‘the target we’d like to adopt, but can’t because it is too expensive economically or politically’—to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. It’s not truly a ‘threshold.’ As we’ve seen, it’s quite possible that significant damage has already occurred, and it’s nearly certain that we are committed to more. And it’s very likely that damage wrought by warming will increase as we approach the so-called ‘buffer.’

But one might consider 2 C as ‘sort of safe.’ Under that amount of warming, we will still expect to see some benefits to climate change: some areas will have more favorable weather for agriculture and recreation or tourism, and so one. Past that, the more climate ‘losers’ there will be, and the more critical will be the limits that are approached—limits to the heat tolerance of food crops like wheat, rice and corn, and to the heat tolerance of wildlife—and humans.

But the practical measures so far undertaken, or committed to, are not even close to adequate to meet the ‘aspirational target’ of 2 C. And the more we delay, the more daunting the necessary steps become.

Dr. Richard Somerville.  Image courtesy ESRL.
Dr. Richard Somerville. Image courtesy ESRL.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Dr. Richard Somerville (of Scripps Institute) writes:

To have a reasonable chance of meeting this 2 degree Celsius goal, the science shows that global emissions of heat-trapping gases and particles must peak soon and then start to decline rapidly, not in 50 or 100 years, but within the next 5 to 10 years, reaching near zero well within this century. Given the 2 degree Celsius goal already agreed to by many governments, the case for great urgency in taking meaningful actions to reduce emissions is a consequence of science. It is based on facts and evidence. It is not an ideological or political choice. We have a window of time within which we simply must act if we are serious about meeting the 2 degree Celsius goal. The window is still open, but it will soon close and will then remain closed.

If the world continues to procrastinate throughout the current decade, so that global emissions of heat-trapping gases and particles continue unabated for another ten years, then we will almost certainly have lost the opportunity to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

One could perhaps call this ‘encouraging’ with less of an ironic edge, if one were speaking, not about our own lives, but of those of the next generations. For there is still time to have very large impacts upon their lives.

While the warming to be experienced by 2050 is largely ‘locked in’ as a result of emissions to date, that is not the case for the warming seen by 2100. Several studies demonstrate this.

For example, the IEA—International Energy Agency—has developed its own emissions scenarios, and used them to investigate the chances of exceeding the 2 C ‘buffer’ value. The scenarios all show from 1.5 to 2.5 degrees C warming in 2050—a difference that is significant, but less than dramatic. The story is quite different for 2100, however: the most harmful scenario shows roughly 5C, while the most benign has not shown significant warming from the 2050 value, near 1.5 C. This is graphed below:

The US Global Change Research Program had already reached a broadly similar conclusion in an earlier study:

Going back to 2002, a British team, Johns et al, also came up with a very similar result. This uses older emissions scenarios, and an earlier generation climate model to do the necessary calculations, but still shows a range of about a degree for 2050, but a range of over 3.5 degrees for 2100. (Note that the flat trajectory at the bottom (shown in blue) represents a control run, with greenhouse forcings held to 19th century levels.)

What's 8 C?

Consider the following mean maximum temperatures:

  • Miami mean annual high: 28.7 C; Toronto mean annual high: 11.9 C
  • Miami mean August high: 32 C; Toronto mean August high: 25 C
  • Miami mean January high: 24 C; Toronto mean January high: -1 C

(Source: weather.sg.msn.com)

So, 8 C is:

  • greater than the variance among Miami’s monthly mean highs;
  • greater than the difference between Miami and Toronto August mean highs;
  • greater than half the difference between Miami and Toronto annual mean highs;
  • nearly a third of the difference between Miami and Toronto January mean highs.

(An 8 C difference in Toronto’s January mean high would make Toronto warmer during that month than Lexington, KY, which currently experiences a January mean of 5 C.)

Considering these results together, it will be difficult to be sure of avoiding 2 C by century’s end. That's the bad news.

But it would be very possible to limit warming to amounts not much greater than that. There would be an enormous difference between 2 C and—to take a worst-case number for a moment—8 C. And that is definitely good news.

(To consider some illustrations of what 8 C might mean in a North American context, see the sidebar to the right.)

The bottom line is that climatic fate is of today’s adults is more or less sealed. Whether we continue down our present course or make a rapid change to a more sustainable energy economy, the full effects won’t be felt for another few decades. But by 2050 most of us will be at, approaching, or even past, what we would today consider to be our expected lifespans. So we will see climatic conditions that I would characterize as ranging from 'moderately bad' to 'significantly worse.'

But our kids and grandkids may well be living in 2080, or 2100. For them, our choices will make the difference between the 'challenging' conditions that we may experience if we survive to 2050, and the horrific conditions of a 2100 world that is 8 C warmer.

Child on a Thai beach.  Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Child on a Thai beach. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

For that purpose, we have time. It remains to be seen whether we have the wisdom, and the will.

Update: 2/3/2014

Just as the Working Group I portion of the International Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report was leaked prior to release of its finalized draft, so, too, has that of Working Group II. (WG I was concerned with 'the physical basis'--the core science at the heart of human-induced climate change. WG II is tasked with summarizing for us the the associated "impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation"--the more practical questions of climate change harms and the ways of lessening them.)

The leaked WG II draft provides another answer to the question of how much time we have:

Delaying mitigation through 2030 will increase the challenges of, and reduce the options for, bringing atmospheric concentration levels to 530 ppm or lower by the end of the century...

530 parts per million would certainly take the planet well past the two Celsius degrees of warming that are (somewhat optimistically) considered relatively safe. Further warming would be increasingly likely to 'take on a life of its own' by triggering climate 'feedbacks' such as releases of carbon from sources such as warmer seawater, melting permafrost, or dying vegetation. On the other hand,

If in 2100 the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are between 430 and 480 parts per million, the global temperature change, as compared to the mid-1800s, will be likely to stay below 2 degrees Celsius, according to a chart in the report.

For context, as of writing the most recent observations released from the Scripps CO2 Observatory in Hawaii reported CO2 readings of 398 parts per million. (January 29, 2014.)

But a New York Times story reporting the leak puts matters in still clearer terms than CNN:

Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found.

A delay would most likely force future generations to develop the ability to suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store them underground to preserve the livability of the planet, the report found. But it is not clear whether such technologies will ever exist at the necessary scale, and even if they do, the approach would probably be wildly expensive compared with taking steps now to slow emissions.

The report said that governments of the world were still spending far more money to subsidize fossil fuels than to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy, thus encouraging continued investment in projects like coal-burning power plants that pose a long-term climate risk.


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Comments 131 comments

Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks for taking the time to read this Hub!

The question of 'how much time' is not a simple one, as the 2500 words above testify. But what are your thoughts on this?

Share some words of your own!


HSchneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Well said, Doc. The time was yesterday to act but we now must act now. The political opposition is unconscionable and selfish. This is mainly coming from the business community through their Republican minions. You are quite correct that we are already feeling the effects. Our children will feel the catastrophic effects if we do not act decisively now. Excellent Hub.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Excellent hub! I agree that we're late taking action, for which there's no excuse. Those people--including politicians--who claim that climate change either doesn't exist or can't be affected by human action are ignorant. Make that ignorant and selfish. Strange as it seems to most of us, there are some humans who do not care what happens to the planet beyond their own lives. Sadly, too many of those individuals have the power to make a difference, but choose not to do so.

Voted Up+++ and shared

Jaye


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks, HSchneider--I'm afraid you are correct that some folks are allowing their short-term interests to overpower their sense of perspective. But there's no shortage of business people who have taken a more proactive stance on climate change, I'm glad to say! No time now to dig up a link, but perhaps that would make a good Hub, anyway!

Jaye, thank you too, for your kind response. It does seem strange that some folks forget that this is an issue of intergenerational justice, and one that could very deeply affect their own kith and kin. Strange, too, the phenomenon that I've noticed whereby some folks go straight from "it isn't happening" to "too late, there's nothing to be done." Perhaps they forget that the difference between 'bad' and 'worse' can be more significant than we like to admit.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I wrote on this subject too but with much less authority and empathy than this fine hub. Very thorough and well done. Up and Sharing


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Wow! What a flattering comment! Thank you...

By the way, where is that Hub? I had a quick look through your profile 'catalog,' but must have overlooked it.


Mitch Alan profile image

Mitch Alan 3 years ago from South Jersey

Taking into account that there have been many warming and cooling cycles throughout history and the fact that the last ice age melted due to increasing temperatures, how do you categorically define global warming as a man-made issue? And, how to you reconcile the fact that there were just as many "climate changers" in the 70's claiming global cooling on catastrophic levels using the same arguments currently used to support man-made global warming? The earth has always ebbed and flowed in the ranges between ice ages and warmer periods.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

"...how do you categorically define global warming as a man-made issue?"

*I* don't. And I'm not sure anyone does, depending upon what you intend by "categorically." However, the physics of greenhouse warming are well-established and well-understood. (Check out my Hubs on the history.) And the observations supporting the reality of human-induced warming--including 'fingerprints' such as the *cooling* trend observed in the stratosphere--are quite overwhelming. That's why multiple surveys find huge majorities of climate scientists agreeing that the observed warming is indeed human-induced:

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

That includes pretty much every significant science academy going.

"And, how to you reconcile the fact that there were just as many "climate changers" in the 70's claiming global cooling on catastrophic levels using the same arguments currently used to support man-made global warming?"

Easy. There weren't! Yes, there was investigation of the cooling effects of human-emitted aerosols. Notably, by the late Stephen Schneider:

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

But there was never any widespread scientific concern on this topic comparable to what we see today around the warming we've been observing. See:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-prediction...

"The earth has always ebbed and flowed in the ranges between ice ages and warmer periods."

Yes--on longer timescales. But all of human civilization has existed within the exceptionally stable climate of the Holocene, and there's reason for concern that the single most vital invention underlying that civilization--agriculture--is increasingly less viable the more warming we allow to take place.

And just because climate can change naturally doesn't mean that it's wise for us to force changes that we know to be harmful and dangerous--and especially so when the rate of change is unusually rapid (and hence unusually disruptive and dangerous) in geological terms.


Mitch Alan profile image

Mitch Alan 3 years ago from South Jersey

Flash frozen wooly mammoths were not the result of "longer timescales"...

Why was Time and Newsweek cover stories given to the "feared" global cooling if it wasn't a big story or being looked at by the scientific community as a whole?


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Mitch, wooly mammoths evolved for cold conditions, and lived and died in them. That has nothing to do with the rate of climate change.

The news mags gave covers to the global cooling idea because it sold copy. As explained in the items linked above, the idea was being 'looked at' by a few researchers, notably Schneider & Rasool. But the cooling aerosol emissions not only did not keep increasing, with pollution controls, they decreased. Cooling cancelled... we should do the same with carbon emissions.


Mitch Alan profile image

Mitch Alan 3 years ago from South Jersey

I'm talking about those that were flash frozen, instantly with green vegetation their mouths. Flash freezing is not consistent with "longer timescales".

I'm not arguing whether the earth cools and warms, but asking how you associate man as the culprit, when it is not new. What caused the last ice age to melt before I even had an SUV? :)


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Flash freezing is weather.

I've answered how man is 'associated as the culprit.' Whether it is new is utterly beside the point: if accidental fires happen, does that mean that arson doesn't exist? Of course not.

Climate science arose from trying to explain past climate changes, from the then-realization that there had been these mysterious 'ice ages' in the past, so the fact that 'climate changes naturally' is no revelation.

You'll have to do a little better than restate the obvious if you wish to persuade.


TonyPrep 3 years ago

I don't think it's possible to say that the Kyoto Protocol has had any successes because the protocol doesn't acknowledge proxy emissions, made in the country producing goods that are imported into the Kyoto Protocol countries. Whether any of those signatory countries has actually reduced emissions caused by their behaviours is debatable. If they haven't then the protocol hasn't worked. In any case, this is a global problem and needs not individual country targets but a collective world-wide target.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

A thoughtful comment, Tony. Thanks!

Yet I think--rather tentatively--that I'd defend my original comment. While China's burgeoning emissions have indeed been fueled by their export trade--to take the obvious leading example, though the same is true of other nations as well--the Kyoto targets have led to real structural changes in some the nations who took those targets seriously. That's something that is permanent, and that goes beyond 'whack a mole' emissions that, suppressed in one jurisdiction, just pop up in another.

To your closing comment, "In any case, this is a global problem and needs not individual country targets but a collective world-wide target," I must first say, "Amen!" Though I'd amend it slightly to read "individual country targets ONLY..." Real power is still at the national level, economies and often cultures--especially legal cultures and structures--are organized at that level, and it surely has an important role in addressing the climate crisis.

It's highly unfortunate that the UNFCCC process appears not to be very robust--to put it politely. I hope this fall's Warsaw meeting will be productive. It would be refreshing, to say the least.


Resident Weevil profile image

Resident Weevil 3 years ago

I'm glad you don't automatically categorize climate change as anthropogenic, that's a sticking point for a lot of people. I don't really have strong convictions on this issue, I have seen both persuasive arguments in favor of catastrophic climate change as well as persuasive counter-arguments credibly poking holes in them.

I will say, however, that I'd like to see more presentations like this. Presentations that are cohesive, free of propaganda, and well-supported. More information is always better.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks, RW.

However, for the record, I do think that the evidence that the bulk of observed warming is due to human activity is very strong.

That's rather the assumption underlying the whole Hub, since if the observed warming were somehow due to 'natural' causes then mitigating carbon emissions would presumably have little effect. Indeed, that's just what a numbers of climate contrarians do say.

However, I have yet to read an argument from such quarters that retains its credibility upon close examination--though they do often sound plausible at first blush.


Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 3 years ago from Manhattan

There is no evidence that climate change is the result of man. I don't believe a word of it..it's just an excuse to raise taxes. Even Al Gore doesn't believe it..he owns a multi-million dollar beach house!


Ceegen profile image

Ceegen 3 years ago from Maine, USA

If 0.036% of atmospheric content is causing such extreme changes, I would venture to guess we have real big problems that we can solve ourselves. But if the causes for climate change are entirely a natural process, then there wouldn't be anything we could do to stop it.

Personally, I'm more of the idea that the earth's magnetic field being weakened over the years, has more to do with climate change than CO2. It is observed that earth's magnetic field, is weakening. Solar winds can strip away our ozone layers, increasing the amount of radiation our planet takes in from our nearest star, the sun.

If this is the reason the ozone layer has big holes in it, then no amount of carbon taxes will stop the sun from destroying our planet.

I would suggest watching a very well done video, done by Euro News Knowledge, available for free on YouTube that covers the weakening of earth's magnetic field in great detail. It is only 12 minutes long.

Eventually, the 2nd law of thermodynamics will eventually catch up with us, and the entire universe will get to the point of entropy. Nothing could live at that point anyway, so our demise as a species is guaranteed.


Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 3 years ago from Manhattan

Jesus Christ will come back before then.


Ceegen profile image

Ceegen 3 years ago from Maine, USA

I believe too, Brie. I write about biblical things, it's the whole reason I joined HubPages!

Makes sense though that when Revelation talks about the earth being burned, (trees and grass are burned up), it might somehow relate to the sun. If our weakening magnetic field is any indicator of how much time we have left before that starts happening, we're probably really close if climate change isn't caused by human output of CO2.

There are also other signs of the times besides that, but, there are still wars and rumors of wars. I fear the visions of a peaceful planet some people have. Too often I find that the anthropomorphic global warming crowd are quick to label humans as cancerous to the "mother earth", and applaud our eventual demise as proof of all-mighty nature.

Seems rather ironic now that I think about it.


Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 3 years ago from Manhattan

I'm completely for not polluting the planet..I just don't like it when the power elite want to tax us for climate change.


TonyPrep 3 years ago

Doc Snow, I guess I'm not familiar with the real structural changes that you say Kyoto Protocol signatory countries have made, so you have me at a disadvantage there.

Regarding country and global targets, yes the power is at the country level to make changes but what I'd like to see is an acknowledgement of this interconnectedness of ours. Emissions made in one country are not necessarily entirely the blame of that country because of overseas demand for their goods and services. So the individual country baselines and targets need to somehow incorporate that cross-border element. I'm not sure how it can be done but I think the first step is an acknowledgment of this factor. Otherwise fairness will be an issue with some countries and no effective agreement will be found (not that I'm optimistic about any agreement at all).


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Tony, a very thoughtful comment once again. The interdependence of which you speak is indeed both real, and undervalued.

Brie, thanks for commenting. However, you appear to have been strongly influenced by the concerted disinformation campaign against the science, which is waged by powerful vested interests who want to keep selling you fossil fuels no matter what--and who are not concerned about *your* taxes, but about theirs! For a brief view of this disinformation, see my Hub:

http://hubpages.com/politics/Climate-Cover-Up-A-Re...

I assure you that there is, indeed, massive evidence for the reality of human-induced climate change. I've written on the some of the history of that evidence: atmospheric thermal radiation observed by Charles Wells, 1814; greenhouse effect mathematically demonstrated as part of a global heat budget by Joseph Fourier, 1824; discovery of carbon dioxide and water vapor as leading greenhouse gases by John Tyndall, 1859; first global model of CO2-modulated warming calculated (by hand!) by Arrhenius, 1896; much more accurate IR spectroscopy integrated with accurate values for CO2 and water vapor, combined with the first use of temperature time-series (already compensated for what we now call the 'urban heat island effect'), by Guy Callendar, 1938.

And that's just the 'pre-history;' study of the matter--with the foundations that I've listed laid--gets going in earnest starting with the International Geophysical Year (1958-59.) Oh, there's lots of evidence, all right, and what you think Al Gore's opinions may be has nothing to do with any of it. Please, take a look at what is out there. As you say, none of us are for polluting the planet!

Ceegen, the thing about the idea that somehow 'the sun dunnit' is that we've been keeping a good watch on the sun for sometime now. It's quite true that Earth's magnetic field has been weakening:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth's_magnetic_fiel...

But that is something that it does from time to time, so I don't think that there's much reason to think that it will mean the arrival of the end times if it does switch polarity.

As to affecting climate, the ozone does affect temperature somewhat, mostly at the stratospheric level--and to complicate things, temperature at that level also affects ozone, because low than normal stratospheric temperatures facilitate ozone-destroying chemical reactions. (Hence the Antarctic 'ozone hole', and, for the first time a couple of years ago, an Arctic 'hole', too.) Overall, there's a *cooling* trend observed in the stratosphere, which is one of the things predicted by greenhouse theory.

But as the Wiki article says, we've seen a 10-15% decline over 150 years; not an especially good match to the observed temperature increase, and we definitely have *not* observed a corresponding increase in solar radiation reaching the ground! On the other hand, the observed trend is highly consistent with greenhouse forcings from the .036%--now hitting .04%; I've a Hub on that, too--carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Of that, we are responsible for about 30%. (Or, figuring it the other way, we've been responsible for a 40% increase from the pre-Industrial value of 280 ppm.)

Those who believe that we are in a stewardship relation to the Earth might view that as a tad careless of our responsibilities. Katherine Hayhoe is an engaging spokeswoman for such a point of view:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Katharine-Hayhoe-l...

You might find her perspective worth considering.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Tony, it sounds a bit mysterious and impressive when I write 'real structural changes', but it's really not. I'm just talking about the fact that those economies have spent money, time and effort to restructure themselves to waste less energy and to derive more of it from renewable sources. Those changes have become just part of 'how it's done', and so will remain in effect for quite a while--and hopefully, will be extended to the point where truly sustainable energy economies are a reality.

The single most intriguing 'laboratory' is Germany, which is consciously undertaking a systematic transformation--their word for it is 'energiewende.' In addition to energy efficiencies, they have invested massively in both wind and solar power, and renewable energy provided an impressive 23% of electrical generation in 2012--up from 20% in 2011.

It's both expensive and messy, and despite the impressive progress made so far, not guaranteed to succeed in completing the intended 'transformation.' Political and economic challenges remain. And it's complicated, in the short term, by the decision to step away from nuclear power: that has meant using more coal, the dirtiest fuel from a carbon perspective (and many other perspectives, too.) German CO2 emissions actually rose slightly in 2012 as a result, for the first time in quite a while. But renewables are already cheaper than new coal capacity, with prices still dropping (and especially so for solar.)

All of this will have long-lasting effects on the German economy, and will be very closely watched indeed by energy planners around the world.

A balanced summary of the 'energiewende', noting both successes and challenges:

Paste this link "http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/07/the-energi...’s-energy-sector"

(The comment software doesn't seem to like the link...)


i scribble profile image

i scribble 3 years ago

Your fact-filled and eloquently presented narrative just confirms my apprehensions about the disastrous trajectory we are on and the 'imminent threat' of climate change to all of us. Currently in our own 'back yard', the eastern U.S., record rains are ruining crops and causing extensive property damage, while the western states are sizzling and burning with yet another year of record wildfires. If there is any criticism I would make of your analysis, I would ask what is gradual and hard to recognize about the extreme weather patterns we are already experiencing around the world? I would not describe these as 'small changes'. Maybe it is wise and necessary to be calm and measured when attempting to educate people on climate change in order not to alienate the audience you are trying to reach. I find that most climate experts and leaders use the same approach, which I consider both admirable and exasperating.


Ceegen profile image

Ceegen 3 years ago from Maine, USA

Doc Snow,

CO2 is soluble in water, and our oceans contain a lot of CO2. When ocean water temperatures rise, the solubility of CO2 in water decreases, and so is released into the air. Not to mention all the CO2 and sulfur that is released from volcanic eruptions.

By the way, did you see the news about Japan's Sakurajima volcano which erupted for the 500th time this year, two days ago? 500th! That's just one volcano, too.

Besides all this, what about all the "Climate Gate" emails, which essentially prove that these scientists are fudging the data on purpose? Be a good detective and follow the money trail, fear is a great tactic to keep governments spending money on scientific studies.

The love of money...


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks, i scribble.

I know what you mean about the 'gradual' bit, but it's a legitimately tough thing to say for sure that 'x' couldn't have happened without climate change. Most of the time, 'x' *could* have--but was much less likely without the warming trend underlying all this random weather. Trying to make that distinction clear does tend to suck a lot of the punchiness out of one's writing.

And, of course, some folks just don't want to look at the facts at all. Giving them (apparently) good fodder for ridicule isn't helpful, as you suggest. It's a difficult balance--and I really don't know whether I'm even close to getting it right--but it sure comes with the territory.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

That CO2 is soluble in water is not news. In fact, natural Earth systems are absorbing about half the CO2 we emit, and a lot of that is being dissolved in the oceans. Unfortunately, that's just changing the nature of the problem; ocean acidity has increased roughly 30% as a result, which is already affecting some vulnerable sea creatures.

Volcanoes release much less CO2 than humans, albeit the volcanic releases are more spectacular. See:

http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/2011EO240001.pdf

And sorry, but the Climategate emails proved nothing of the sort--though bogus claims to the contrary are not hard to find on the internet. No data was manipulated or 'fudged' and multiple enquiries have reaffirmed this. Moreover, the scientists whose emails were hacked are a tiny fraction of researchers active in the field. You could take all their papers out of the equation completely--and that includes Dr. Mann's; he himself makes the point that his 'hockeystick' papers don't prove anything about warming today; they are purely reconstructions of ancient temperatures--and it would have no great effect on what the science corporately says about CO2-induced warming.

"The love of money?" Indeed. Follow the money trail I laid out for you in "Climate Cover-up."


Ceegen profile image

Ceegen 3 years ago from Maine, USA

Look, I'm not denying that big oil companies aren't greedy and out to get the better deal no matter the consequences, but all these things that are happening aren't being done by humans. Yes, pollution is a serious issue in a high tech world, but we're getting better at cleaning up our messes every day better technology comes out.

The problem is, you're arguing heads, and I'm just saying, it doesn't matter if I say "tails"... It's two sides of the same coin.

The same people that own big oil companies, banking cartels, governments and all that stuff, are the same people that have a hand in every counter-movement these things produce. It's called Order out of Chaos, and they will succeed so long as people continue to fight over whose fault it really is for this mess we're in.

The answer is not violence friend, but you watch and this world will soon erupt into violence over simple finger-pointing. Every act of aggression triggers immediate reprisal, and every reprisal constitutes an act of aggression. People have become so cynical and callous towards each other, that some of the most famous people in history are really just mass murderers. Most Americans don't even bat an eyelash at the fact that over a million Iraqi citizens were killed in this last stint in the Middle-East. It hasn't done anything but get people to hate us, and this is a supposed "Christian nation"? I don't think so. There are no true Scotsmen. They're just as much sinners as the rest of us are, don't be fooled. Their sins aren't an excuse to reject God.

Was "Alexander 'the Great'", really all that great? Was Rome really something special? Is Plato's Republic really a good idea to implement?

Everyone is fighting over the world, because Lucifer has promised the world to everyone. But it wasn't his to give in the first place, and he basically got people to supplant God with whatever seductive imagination of the mind could conjure up. Lucifer who wields power and authority over us, basically lied in order to get us to listen to him instead of God. He thought he could do it better.

Truth is stranger than fiction, friend. Research what you believe and why you believe it. Question everything, even yourself. There is a great deception going on! Don't tell me the climate gate emails prove nothing, you just don't want to see that evidence, because you prefer to believe something else.

The truth is that "They" just want us to die. Go look up the "Georgia Guidestones".


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago

Outstanding Hub.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Ceegan, I'm afraid that you're going a tad over my head. (Though, since I live in Atlanta, I must go see these 'guidestones' sometime.) Certainly, idolatries of various sorts are a perennial temptation. And it is shocking that "Most Americans don't even bat an eyelash at the fact that over a million Iraqi citizens were killed in this last stint in the Middle-East." I wish I could disagree with you, but that appears to be true.

However--sticking, like a good cobbler, to my 'last'--let me elaborate a tad on the parts of what you said that do relate to this Hub. I've learned most of what I know about the climate crisis through taking 'skeptic' messages seriously and asking "What if this were, indeed, true?" I don't say that the Climategate emails prove nothing; they certainly prove that some particular scientists can write things that are bad-natured, ill-advised and peevish.

However, it is also the case that the emails do not show data to have been 'fudged' in any way. The evidence that the data has not been fudged is available in the scientific literature; the raw data is publicly available and has been minutely examined--and that is a fact, whether I, you, or anybody else accepts it or not.

I sincerely doubt that 'They' want anybody to die, specifically. But if they did, climate change would be a very convenient vehicle to make it happen.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Ralph, thanks much. That means a lot, coming from you.


P. Orin Zack 3 years ago

Another great job, Doc. Unfortunately, it's really hard to get people to feel the seriousness of this slow-motion train wreck because the effects will only be obvious in hindsight. Like going up a mountain to see it, you won't see the mountain because you're standing on it. But after you've gone, and look back at where you've been, you can appreciate the size of it. Maybe we need some popular fiction that is set in that future time when the day-to-day effects of the trending changes in climate are what you wake up to.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I agree you you, Zack. Some good fictional treatments would be helpful. I'm working on one myself, but I have little gift for writing fiction, so likely it will never be in any kind of shape to see the light of day.

But somebody should have the chops and vision for this!


P. Orin Zack 3 years ago

I'll probably give it a whack myself. It couldn't be much stranger of a challenge than writing that series about life after the demise of the dollar, or the story about the expedition that reached Earth after we'd destroyed the place. The trick is getting people to read the stories.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I'd call it good news! Let me know how it goes.

Of course, you are right about the issue of getting heard. It's a crowded marketplace in the online world.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 3 years ago from North Carolina

Kudos to anyone who can write about climate change--and respond to dissenting comments--without resorting to name calling and other all too common childishness.

I'm still on the fence about how much I'll attribute climate change to human activity and how much to natural cycles. The "Little Ice Age" lasted from about 1300 to 1800 or 1900. (I've seen both terminal dates, but in articles so short that I don't know the basis for either one.)

I want to know what came before the "Little Ice Age," and whatever cycles measured in centuries came before that. It seems to me that variations that take place over centuries count as climate change, not weather patterns.

That's a trombone in my avitar. Like you, I'm a musician who cares about science and sustainability. It appears that a majority of Americans will not be motivated to do anything about sustainability based on appeals to climate change, but the Georgia Tea Party's intervention on behalf of solar electricity amply proves that plenty of other issues can motivate even climate change rejecters.

I hope you'll permit a link to my blog, Sustainable Green Homes (http://eco.allpurposeguru.com). My target audience is that skeptical majority. I'm looking at hubs as a part of market research to understand that audience better.

I came to a hub on climate change with fear and trembling. It's a good thing I overcame it. There is more here to follow up on than I can possibly finish in one visit. Rated "useful."


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks, APG!

What came before? The Medieval Climate Optimum (AKA Medieval Warm Period.) They are still working on its timing and spatial structure. The North Atlantic basin was definitely warmer prior to the Little Ice Age, but it's unclear to what extent that was true in other parts of the world.

There is a lot of study that has gone into this--too much, really, for causal perusal:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/recons.html

The most recent 'big' recontruction was Marcott et al, explained here, with many links (including data sources):

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013...

A more user-friendly, but still very substantive, summary and discussion

can be found here:

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/global-temp...

(There are two follow-up posts as well; the original and follow-ups are mentioned in the RC intro paragraph, with links.)

The short version is that the warmest part of the Holocene era ran from about 8,000 to 3,000 years ago, and that things had been cooling since--until the rapid warming seen in the latter part of the last century. The former part is consistent with what we would expect based upon the natural orbital 'cycles' that seem to pace the timing of glaciations and de-glaciations; the latter part is not, but *is* consistent with CO2-forced warming.

And therein lies an important point. At best, paleoclimate can provide context and afford data to investigate various correlations--like CO2 and temperature. But we all know that correlation isn't always due to causation.

However, the basic physical mechanism of greenhouse warming is well-understood and not controversial--scientifically speaking. (The blogosphere is quite another matter.) Essentially, greenhouse gases reduce the planet's cooling efficiency--that's because the gases act somewhat as fog does for visible light: they reduce visibility. But they reduce the 'visibility' for radiant heat--infrared radiation. That's observable (and observed) from space.

So we've got more than the suggestive correlations given to us by paleoclimate studies (valuable on several accounts though the latter are.) We've got a solid physical mechanism, supported by boatloads of observational data over many decades. One can only scratch the surface in a brief comment like this one, but hopefully this is at least suggestive of the breadth and depth of evidence supporting the scientific mainstream on this point.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 3 years ago from North Carolina

Wow! You practically wrote another hub in your comment! Thanks. I'll study it.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I can be a talker... even in 'print.'

;-)


P. Orin Zack 3 years ago

There's an interesting article about the psychology of why it is so hard to get people to think in these terms over at Bloomberg. (I found a reference to it at slashdot.org)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-27/people-do...

A key point is that people tend to be especially focused on risks or hazards that have an identifiable perpetrator. Events with diffuse causes or those at the far end of a causal cascade are therefore hard sells. A few years ago, I wrote a short story called "Cascade" about the latter type, which you can read at my blog. One reason I wrote that story was to point out that if you recognize such a cascade before it is triggered, there is no place to report it, because it does not fall into anyone's jurisdiction. Yet they can cause great damage.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Hey, thanks for sharing that. I suppose it's like automobile-related deaths: the total number is (or should be) shocking, but there's not a single villain or even single cause common to all.

(During the Vietnam era, about as many people died each year in traffic accidents as Americans died in the whole war--but the emotional response for the latter case was much stronger. Nowadays we're down to not much more than two-thirds of that toll, thankfully.)

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


i scribble profile image

i scribble 3 years ago

It's wonderful that you're getting so many comments/readers on this one. I think it's the title that draws people in. It drew me in. Is this the best response you've gotten on a climate hub?

I'm excited to share that I'm going to Charleston to hear Bill McKibben speak in Oct. I'm also encouraged that my community -Columbia, SC (at least us progressives) starting to mobilize on the climate crisis, with help from Organizing For Action. Hopefully the same is happening in Atlanta. Every state has an OFA organizer. I'll keep you posted on what we're up to. I'd like to hear what your church friends are doing as well.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Hi, 'is'--

Yes, there *has* been a lot of response to this Hub--your comment is the 43rd. It's still not the comments champ, though. That honor goes to "When Did Global Warming Stop?" which has accumulated 67 comments since 2011. Link:

http://hubpages.com/politics/When-Did-Global-Warmi...

I perceive that as a snappy title of sorts, too, so perhaps it supports your thought about the importance of titles.

In the realm of total views, the best climate change Hub is historical--specifically, my essay on the life, times, and climate science of John Tyndall, the man who discovered greenhouse gases, back in 1859. (Before him, the existence of the greenhouse effect had been inferred, but no-one really had much idea what it was about the atmosphere that was causing it.) It has currently been viewed a bit over 3,500 times. (Only 8 comments, though.) Link:

http://hubpages.com/education/Global-Warming-Scien...

I suppose I should also mention another honor, too. One of my climate Hubs was recently picked as an "Editor's Choice." Like the Tyndall Hub, it has 8 comments, but just a bit more than 1,000 views. Link:

http://hubpages.com/education/Global-warming-scien...

Warning: it's a *long* Hub!

Turning from all the self-promotion, I'm envious--I couldn't go when Bill McKibben spoke in Atlanta last year. (But a couple of those church friends did, and found it quite inspiring.)

We're doing a couple of things. First, the meeting I wrote about resulted in the decision to attempt to seek the UUA's "Green Sanctuary" designation:

http://www.uua.org/environment/sanctuary/

That's perhaps the most exciting initiative. I think we are also likely to form a Climate Action Team within the congregation--I'm not quite what that means yet, to be honest!

I was also invited by one of our congregants to sit in on a meeting arranged (in conjunction with the Citizen's Climate Lobby) with our local Congressman, which took place last Friday. I'm still digesting that event, I suppose.

I'm glad to hear that good things are happening in Columbia--not just generically glad, either; my wife and I are planning to retire to Lake Wateree in a few years, and of course Camden is within Columbia's orbit, so to speak. Let's do stay in touch around the various developments that may come down the pike.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

Doc, very well written hub with lots of data to back up what you say. We are watching the death of our Earth due to greed. I have written about climate change over at the SF Examiner for years, and stood by and watched people argue over it, whether it even exists, which just mortifies me. I don't see any way out of the path we have created for ourselves (or should I say the path the government and special interest groups have created) It's tragic and hard to see this unfold in front of our very eyes and know that life for our kids and grand-kids is going to be horribly, horribly difficult, if they even live though the changes to come. Thanks for writing this. Pinned, shared and tweeted.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Dorsi, thanks for that.

Yes, it is indeed difficult to witness the wilful ignorance that is so--'loud,' I think is the best word--in so many public fora. But the volume level does not reflect public opinion accurately--and that will be more and more true as we go forward. I just hope that as the reality we face becomes more and more obvious there will still be time to at least limit the damage we end up doing.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 3 years ago from North Carolina

Dorsi, you had it right the first time--the path we have created. Here's Pogo's Earth Day thought: "We have met the enemy and they is us." Where do you think government and special interests come from? And do you think climate change deniers have cornered the market on either willful ignorance or loudness?

By the way, polling and market research indicate that many more people agree that the climate is changing than are motivated to act because of it. While other people are loudly arguing about climate change, I would rather quietly find out what would motivate people to make real changes. Even the Georgia Tea Party favors more solar energy!

What matters more? Persuading people to change sides in a divisive argunent, or persuading people to do good by the environment for whatever reasons actually motivate them?

I'm trying to accomplish the latter at my blog http://eco.allpurposeguru.com. Sooner or later I'll add more of those thoughts to what I have already contributed to Hub Pages.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks for dropping by to comment, apg. I like your approach, but I have to add that individual actions aren't enough--we need systemic change in order avoid a real mess. (Of course, if we have enough active individuals, systemic change is much more likely.)

Anyway, best of luck, and stay in touch!


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 3 years ago from North Carolina

Enough active individuals--that's what I want to see. Then the feds can walk at the head of the crowd as if they're leading!

The trouble is that sustainability doesn't seem "normal". It seems to a lot of people to be for elitist snobs who look down on everyone else, or for carefree hippies who have nothing to do with real life, or for fools who take Chicken Little seriously.

Enough active individuals, up close and personal enough to seem like real people instead of some stereotype, might just reach a tipping point before anything else does.

Oh, and some large corporations are driving changes that could become systemic--while too much of the "green" crowd keeps complaining about the evils and greed of making a profit. That rhetoric doesn't help the cause at all.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

"Enough active individuals--that's what I want to see. Then the feds can walk at the head of the crowd as if they're leading!"

;-)

Thanks for that!


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 21 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Interesting insight on climate change, Doc. What an interesting hub, too. Voted up!


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 21 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks, Kristen! I appreciate you taking the time to say so.

Don't know if you caught this, but my latest Hubs constitute a series of four, setting out some of the basics:

http://hubpages.com/politics/How-Do-We-Know-That-C...

http://hubpages.com/politics/How-Do-We-Know-That-H...

http://hubpages.com/politics/How-Do-We-Know-That-G...

http://hubpages.com/politics/How-Do-We-Know-That-C...

I call it the 'applied epistemology' of climate change!


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 20 months ago from Tasmania

Doc Snow, like other commenters above, I am also impressed by your careful research; methodical assessment of all questions and doubts as put by skeptics; patience with the "believers." Thank you.

I was sitting in a traffic queue in the peak hour and considering that, around the world, 24hrs a day, every day (including weekends) of the year, every country and every town/city has its peak hour traffic, some much more than we see here in our little island of Tasmania (500,000 population).

Obviously, there are billions of vehicles at any one moment, pushing out Carbon Dioxide, Water Vapour and heat. Considering the average efficiency of the internal combustion engine, probably at least 70% of the fuel being burned ends up as heat polluting our atmosphere.

This alone I suspect could be one of the biggest causes of global warming. Am I correct? Could this source of heat be greater even than forest fires, volcanoes and power stations?


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 20 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Good question, johnny. Yes, vehicles are a significant source of GHG emissions. Just how significant, relative to other sources, varies, depending upon the state of the local/regional/national economy. To illustrate, for the US electrical generation is the biggest source of GHGs, contributing 32% of the total. Transportation comes next at 28%. I would guess that transportation might account for more in a country like Canada, where electrical generation is less carbon-intensive due to considerable use of hydropower.

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sour...

Current-day volcanoes are a much smaller source of GHGs than human emissions, although some--notably Dr. Ian Plimer, who really should know better--have claimed otherwise:

http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2827&f...

Basically, human CO2 emissions are about 100 times larger than volcanic emissions.

Direct heating is also not the issue for climate. Waste heat may play a role in highly localized situations, like the famous 'urban heat island' effect. But it is completely dwarfed by the radiative effect of greenhouse gases--they have more 'leverage', so to speak. Solar heating is so large that it completely dominates the equation. The greenhouse effect, on the other hand, really affects not the warming side of the process, but the *cooling* side of it--the atmosphere doesn't permit radiative cooling that's quite as efficient as it used to be. That's what meant by the well-known shorthand phrase that GHGs 'trap heat.'


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

Did you miss the fact that no major storms (cat 3 or higher) has landed in the last 9 years?

http://www.weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/major...

Also, all 44 climate models have failed to predict our current "pause" in rising temperatures.

Also, the solar sunspot cycle of 11 years is entering a quite period and scientists are baffled by it.

In light of all these hard evidence, how can you still believe that man is the major cause of climate change?


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 16 months ago from Tasmania

Whatever the answer to your question might be, are you playing your part in reducing abuse and over-use of the world's resourses?

If not, you are part of the climate-change problem!


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

jacklee, I appreciate your comments. However, you could be better informed.

1) The fact that Wilma was the last major hurricane to hit the US (2005) says nothing whatever about hurricane trends. The 'hurricane drought' appears to be nothing more than chance:

http://www.weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/major...

"So what's causing this streak? Hall says he and his team didn't find much had changed. Instead, he's chalking it up to luck.

"Colorado State Universtiy meteorologist Phil Klotzbach, who was not a part of the study, agrees. "I think that there has been a significant 'luck' component involved. But there has also been a predominant trough along the East Coast from 2006-2014, which has generated steering currents that have tended to push the storms away from the U.S. coast."

"One of the reasons researchers believe that there hasn't been a real change in hurricane seasons is that Atlantic hurricane seasons have been average, as measured by accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) since 2006. ACE is a measure of tropical cyclone activity, taking into account the number, strength and duration of all the tropical cyclones in a season. According to the researchers, "The 2006-2014 annual mean ACE is 97, compared to a 1951-2000 mean of 93.""

2) The so-called 'pause' is no longer 'current':

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/no-pause...

And, actually, there was never any reason to expect climate models to predict it: the 'weather' in each model run is different, and does not track the real world. Projections are then made on the basis of *all* runs, often weighted on the basis of demonstrated model skill. And that means that the biggest weather variations are averaged out.

The observational record has never significantly moved out of the 95% confidence 'envelope' of the model ensembles. That means that there has *never* been any statistically significant evidence of a 'pause'--like the hurricane drought, it doesn't go beyond the bounds of what we know is reasonably likely to occur by chance.

3) The sunspot cycle has nothing to do with carbon-induce warming--though you might well ask yourself, if the solar cycle has been relatively quiet (as it has), then why aren't we actually *cooling* rather than experiencing warming? After all, 2014 was the warmest year on record in several of the major datasets, and 2015 is on track to be warmer than 2014 was. Yet the peak of the solar cycle is almost surely behind us, and it was a pretty weak peak. So, where's the cooling?

So, your three pieces of 'hard evidence' are, in order, irrelevant, wrong, and irrelevant.

As to my 'hard evidence,' I suggest you read my series of four Hubs, "How Do We Know That We Need To Act On Climate Change". The first one is here:

http://hubpages.com/politics/How-Do-We-Know-That-H...


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks for commenting, johnny!

Sadly, we are all part of the climate-change problem, whether we want to be or not. We can't help it, as we are parts of a system largely dependent upon fossil fuels for its everyday operation.

But some are *also* part of the solution!


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

doc snow - I am a skeptic until more definitive evidence. I also created hub on AGW if you care to read it. I've been following this subject for over 2o years and I am very much informed. I wish the scientist will just admit that they just don't know..., at least that will give them some credibility. I am reminded of the childhood story of the boy that cried wolf. The IPCC have overplayed their hands and now few people believe them. Latest poll of people that show climate change is on the bottom of list of things that concern people most. I wonder why. The climategate emails were very illuminating. They tried to hide the "pause" by manipulating the raw temperature data. I can only point out the obvious. You will need to do the homework.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Jacklee, I'm afraid you are both comfused and a bit behind developments. A recent poll by the Pew Trust found high levels of concern about climate change at global level--in fact, it was the top concern overall.

And most of the Climategate emails were written before anyone even claimed there was a 'pause'. (IIRC, the hack was 2009, while the earliest claims of a 'pause' were in 2006. But many of the emails were already years old.)


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

About global concern over climate change:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/07/14/climate-change...


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

doc snow - I wish you wouldn't try to win the argument by denigrating me.

I try to be respectful of you. Are we reading the same chart from pew global? According to your own link - of the top populated countries in the world - only India has 73% on climate change, US - 42, Germany - 34, China -19, Russia 22, UK 38 and Japan - 42. That is not an overwhelming support for your argument.

The email if you have the inclination to read them, clearly shows that the scientists involved could not explain the lack of warming around the world based on their "models". They were clueless and instead of admitting it, they doubled down and tampered with the data and made even bigger claims. They justify their actions by "the end justify the means..." Where have we heard that before?


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I have read the Climategate emails, quite extensively, which is why I feel pretty confident in my statements above. I'd add that if you read beyond the few that were quoted endlessly (but without context), it's abundantly obvious that the writers were sincere in their scientific views--the frustration, dismay, peevishness, and snark that surfaces at times toward certain critics (if that is the word I want) shows that in an unvarnished manner.

As to the Pew link, I think that the fact that at a global level climate change tops the list of concerns does rather support what I said. And it would seem a pretty good refutation of your claim that "few people" believe the IPCC.

I also don't agree that I denigrated you. Anyone can be mistaken or confused; it's part of the human condition, and if I tell you frankly that I think that in this case you are, I mean no disrespect.

As to being 'a bit behind', well, read this:

https://tamino.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/nasa-and-n...

As you can see, the 'pause'--for which, as I said above, there was never any statistically significant evidence--is now 'toast.' It was always based upon a cherry-picked start date, the monster El Nino of 1998, which, by temporarily raising global mean surface temperature provided an unrepresentatively high 'starting value', guaranteeing that no warming trend would emerge for a long time. The insistence upon this statistically invalid model is the true 'data manipulation' that has been attempted. And it's been done in the open by people who have the gall to call themselves 'skeptics.' In reality, they've been doing nothing but taking advantage of the statistical illiteracy most of us suffer from.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc Snow - As an AGW skeptic, I just don't see the "human contribution" being all that significant. This is evident by the extremes some climate scientists try to explain away the "hiatus" of global warming. Ask yourself, if the "pause" was due to cherry picking of data as you claim, why would they need to explain it?

Here is my hub on this topic -

http://hubpages.com/politics/What-If-AGW-Is-Wrong...

If you check the links at the end, you will see some recent news that are contrary to your position.

Can you point to one climate model that even come close to projecting future conditions that have a good track record? You can't.

In the final analysis, we just don't know. That is my main objection to anyone "experts" who claim to know and make scary projects to win over naive readers. It's almost becoming a religion with some climate scientists. They won't accept any evidence contrary to their main theory.

I guess I can't convince you and you can't convince me - "until real hard evidence" is found. Peace.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Jack, I can't convince you if you are unwilling to look at the hard evidence I point you to. But there is no shortage of such, as the links I've already given show.

Conversely, you can convince me if you present something that really does amount to hard evidence. But the details have to be straight, and must check out. The links at the end of your Hub don't cut it (except the 'hurricane drought' one, which as I said above is irrelevant.) Take the 2010 American Thinker article claiming to 'disprove the AGW hypothesis'--it approves measurements in the 3 papers cited, but then arbitrarily disallows certain methodologies (apparently because the result is considered 'wrong' by the writer), and actually reverses the paper's stated conclusions! Basically, it amounts to the author saying "Well, these papers found AGW to be real, but they should have found the opposite!"

And I certainly can cite successful model predictions: the most dramatic was the successful prediction of the cooling effect of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption by James Hanson. But there have been numerous others, including the affair of the lower troposphere temps. There, the UAH satellite measurements seemed to show that climate modeling was overstating upper air warming. Turned out the 'skeptics' had essentially subtracted where they should have added!

Lastly, if you are open to looking at "warmist" information, a good discussion of both 'pause' and model-observation agreement is here:

www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/06/noaa-temperature-record-updates-and-the-hiatus


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Let's make that last link clickable, if we can:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015...


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

And while I'm doing links, let's add one that explains the "Affair of the Tropospheric Temperatures":

https://www.skepticalscience.com/satellite-measure...

There are numerous secondary links, some extremely lengthy and detailed, for those who wish to investigate further.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

Here is the website I read on a regular basis in additional to others -

http://climatedebatedaily.com

Hence the science is not settled.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Jack, how does a list of media articles arranged in 'pro' and 'con' format have anything whatever to say about the science being 'settled' or not? And, for that matter, when exactly did I ever say it *was* 'settled'?

(For the record, scientists don't like that wording, since everything in science, no matter how well established, remains open to challenge in principle. I respect their preference, and so don't make that claim. But that doesn't mean that we 'just don't know,' as you like to put it. There is quite a lot that is known pretty darn definitely, and there is little reasonable doubt that 1) CO2 is rising; 2) CO2 warms the atmosphere; 3) We doing it; and 4) The results will not be good for us. Again, I've already linked the Hubs on that.)

I'm willing to keep responding as long as you like, but I think it would be more fun for those reading the thread if you actually addressed what I say. There's no evidence that you've read any of the pieces I linked, and not that many occasions when you've responded directly to any of the points I've made.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

doc snow - You are obviously missing my point and it is useless to keep this up. I am familiar with the sites you link and they are produced by the very same people you agree with but they are not the only "truth" out there. Hence the debate site try to show there are much more to this. It is Al Gore who said "the science is settled" trying to shut down dissenting opinion.

The bottom line is, you can't predict what the sun will do tomorrow or next year or next 100 years. No scientists can. That is the quandary.

Peace. I will not try to sway you.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Jack, to disagree with your point is not the same as missing it--and I am not Al Gore.

As to the sun, it's mostly a red herring in this debate. True, a really massive solar event could wipe out Terrestrial life, but we have no control over that. Objective, openly-documented evidence--by the bucketful--tells us that we are shooting ourselves in the foot (to put it mildly) with our carbon addiction.

https://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models.ht...

Yes, that's one of *those* websites, but I judge on the quality of information and analysis: does it accurately and fully report what its primary sources say? Does it present consistent and logical analysis? Does it make its sources traceable?

I appreciate your concern that I expose myself to a variety of viewpoints. But much of what I've learned about climate over the years has come from taking skeptics seriously and checking their claims against reliable authorities. It's now rare for me to hear a new argument--and I'm afraid the old ones haven't gotten any stronger.

Best wishes to you, too.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 16 months ago from Tasmania

@Jack, it sounds to me like you have your opinion, want to protect that opinion from any contradiction and will hook out any possible little bit of information, whether plausible or not, in order to support your opinion.

That is not scientific.

As Doc Snow has pointed out, " ....since everything in science, no matter how well established, remains open to challenge in principle." I wonder if your (Jack's) opinions are equally open to challenge in principle. If they are, then that would be an even playing field of discussion. If not, then your opinions do not remain open to scrutiny and credibility, in my opinion.

For this sort of discussion to be any more fruitful than an argument over the beer bar, each participant needs to have honesty and openness to listen and learn.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

jonnycomelately - As I said in my hub, I am open to evidence if they become overwhelming. That has been my problem with the Climate scientist community. I have an engineering degree. I deal with facts. If the models don't fit, I would think they need to question why. Instead, they want us to trust them and when thing don't pan out, they come up with excuses after excuses to explain it. That is not science.

Here is what I believe will happen. In the next few years, we will know if AGW is true or it is a small effect. We have enough of a history to proof one way or another. I'm will to wait. If it turns out to be a bigger factor, we would need a vastly better means to deal with it. Something on the order of the Apollo project that put man on the moon. Anything short of that would be useless.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks for your comment, johnny.

Jack, I just want to address one point you raise: "Here is what I believe will happen. In the next few years, we will know if AGW is true or it is a small effect."

My question is, will we? Forgive me if you already are aware of the history here, but the essential scientific basis of AGW theory had been laid by the end of the 19th century. Several of the challenges to that theory--saturation of the CO2 radiation bands perhaps most notably--were hashed out by 1938, when Guy Callendar began his efforts to bring the theory into the modern era. Another, marine absorption of CO2, was resolved in the late 1950s, with a classic paper by Bolin and Erikson, and detailed mathematical treatments of radiative transfer in the atmosphere were achieved in the 1960s.

It was in that context that Roger Revelle remarked that humanity was engaged in a vast geochemical experiment which could never be repeated; if global temperatures continued rising, we would know that what's now sometimes called AGW was correct.

And for the most part, those temperatures have in fact just kept on rising. We've had an explosion of research on climate issues, as the realization that this could be more than a scientific problem grew much starker. And the IPCC came along to synthesize the true 'scientific debate', which is the one that occurs in the professional literature. The first Assessment Report, from the early 1990s, made no great claims. But by the new millennium, the climate science community was convinced: the 'signal' of anthropogenic climate change had been detected in the temperature record.

Now, more than a decade later, what do we see? Public concern is pretty high on the topic, and we may hope for an international agreement to emerge out of the COP process this December in Paris. Yet there are still those who continue to resurrect those old scientific attacks, from saturation to the second law of thermodynamics. In the face of many new temperature records, they simply apply conspiracy theory: thousands of scientists are just lying, either because they want more grant money, or because they want to abet the creation of a new world order, perhaps one modeled on Maurice Strong's "Agenda 21."

Do you really think that a couple of more years of heat records will make a huge difference to that segment of opinion? I sure don't--though the majority of the public are not so oblivious to the changes occurring all around us.

In my opinion, we've already wasted far too much time in taking decisive action to mitigate greenhouse emissions. Objectively, we are running out of carbon budget. Mitigation costs money and carbon emissions--for example, if you want to close a carbon-spewing coal plant, you need to build something else, whether it's a nuclear plant, a wind farm or a solar plant. And delay is expensive, too. Clean energy has many co-benefits, as well--for example, coal particulates are a major contributor to asthma, which costs the economy many millions each year in treatment costs and lost productivity. So addressing carbon emissions can be a low-regrets strategy, even if somehow, after five decades of watching it in action, we are mistaken about it. (And we aren't.)


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

doc snow - Thanks for the long history lesson. In my comment, I was referring to the following article -

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2294560/Th...

In a few short years, we will know if the predictions pan out.

The graph in the article is self explanatory. I rather wait till then before making up my mind. I am a skeptic of AGW and don't want to waste resources on some theory that is still "controversial."


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 16 months ago from Tasmania

Jacklee, I don't want to discredit you or your opinions. You obviously are trying to get "at the truth," in regards to the popular understanding of "Climate Change." We, including myself and many others contributing to HubPages, are obviously also very keen to see the true nature of the Beast we might be confronting.

Personally, I don't have any university degree, engineering, scientific or otherwise. My secondary schooling led only to a broad appreciation of scientific subjects, but I have grown in my interests over the past 60 years and try to decipher reasonable and intelligent understanding.

So, in highlighting a couple of points you make here and in your other Hub, just started a few days ago, let me just make a couple of points for you to consider.

First, when you quote a link to The Daily Mail, you are referring to a newspaper that is tabloid and tends to like sensational reporting to support its conservative political views. Years ago, when it was printed in broadsheet, it tended to be very much more responsible and reasonable. It was my family's favourite. Not now though.... I give it wide avoidance.

Secondly, David Rose is not noted for being a-political and impartial. You may like reading his reports simply because they tend to back your way of thinking. That is hardly likely to promote truth.... only belief and opinion.

I did some more searching for opinionated reporting and came up with this:

http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2013/09/nigel-lawson-an...

It shows how distorted reporting can influence those of the general public who are unable, for whatever reason, to question and delve further.

Professor Judith Curry is quoted in such a way as to promote the "anti-Climate Change" camp, but when you read further, she is a very credible scientist, seemingly very honest, and promoting caution concerning predictions.

I would ask you not to be too closely and tightly aligned with the anti- brigade. Keep your obviously curious mind open to other data and educated opinions.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

jonnycomelately - Thanks for the info and the advice. I come to this topic via a long path. In the beginning, I bought into this whole global warming and green philosophy but changed my mind over time. Mainly due to the radical claims that did not come to fruition. I am not the only one by the way. I followed quite a few scientists who have made the same discovery. I will still keep an open mind but I think the table is turning. As I said, in a few years, we will know who is right. BTW, I am not disputing the the earth is warming - just the theory of AGW, where humans are the primary cause. There are many good scientists who study various aspects of global warming and have looked at the problem from their niche. They may be perfectly valid but they don't proof AGW.

You can say because the earth is warming we can see XYZ happening. That is not to say we caused it. I hope you see the difference.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Nicely summed up, IMO, johnny.

Jack, sorry to be so long-winded in my response, but I wanted to give a concrete sense of the depth of the history here. Perhaps I should just have pointed to my Hub on that:

http://hubpages.com/politics/Global-Warming-Scienc...

Two points. One, you are an engineer. You've probably studied some stats, yes? So, regarding the Rose piece, what happens when 'n' is too small? And which graph is better in that regard, his, or one like this:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/glob/...

Two, can we afford further delay in order to resolve a policy controversy that is clearly manufactured? Because there's no economic way of drawing down CO2, our emissions choices today and tomorrow are "for keeps." If the mainstream science is correct--and I'm going to assume here that you've heard about the numerous official statements by scientific societies, and the literature and professional surveys that document that "mainstream" is the correct word--we are not currently in failsafe mode.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 16 months ago from Tasmania

Personally, I prefer to see people of technical training and ability working hard at devising new and innovative ways to reduce our human degradation of this planet.

With the world population now over 7,000,000,000, and with our huge demand on ever-dwindling resources, this is bound to make equally big changes that we will have to face.

Please don't anyone try to convince me that billions of internal combustion engines across the globe, day-in-and-day-out, 24 hours continuously, and spewing out the bi-products of incomplete combustion, cannot amount to significant and life-threatening changes.

The people who will try to convince us are those who stand to pocket the benefits of exploitation; those who disregard the needs of less fortunate people and populations; those who bully, cheat and lie their way into huge fortunes at other's expense.

A positive and hopeful antidote to all of this might be seen in experiments to begin in South Australia.... the computer-guided, driver-less vehicle. A set speed on the highway, no overtaking, locked into position in a "train" of vehicles; no crashes; car full of occupants instead of just one; programmed to leave the highway at specific points where the vehicle then becomes individually guided to the local destination.

So, this is the way my mind prefers to work and play. The arguments about if, or when, or how climate will affect us becomes unnecessary and time-wasters, irrelevant.

Jack, as an engineer you have some work to do. Do you feel like inspiring and encouraging undergraduates? The world is crying out for more of this, surely?


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 16 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

You raise another good point there, johnny.

Our whole economic system is built around the exploitation of fossil fuels. We've started to shift that, as I wrote about here:

http://hubpages.com/literature/Renewable-Energy-Wh...

But creating a sustainable economy is an enormous challenge, requiring planning, political will, technological innovation and development--and a whole lot of plain old work and money. I don't know who said it, but "You can't turn the Titanic on a dime."

To me, at least, that's another good reason *not* to just 'wait a few years.'


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 15 months ago from Tasmania

@somethgblue , a few points I would like to make:

"Since we both know the majority of the Arctic Ice is below sea level" -- you would be aware that the ice does not remain below the surface. As that portion above the surface becomes warms and melts, the lower portion gradually rises to displace that which has melted.

You might be more enlightened by considering the enormous amount of heat generated by automobiles like yours, billions of them, day-in-day-out, across the globe. Don't worry yourself about volcanic activity below the surface.

Finally, I suggest you concentrate on science fiction. Maybe you could be gainfully employed in a new James Bond/Jedi collaboration that exposes hitherto un-expected radiation coming from your evil planet out there.

Wink-wink!


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 15 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

Sorry but since the majority is below the surface it still remains the majority below the surface, regardless of how much ice melts above.

Only when there is more ice above the surface than below does that make a difference and by that time the iceberg has already melted almost completely, not too mention, it often flips and rolls.

Since we are both aware that every planet in the solar system temperature is rising perhaps you could explain how our automobiles are accomplishing that, as long as we are on science fiction?


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 15 months ago from Tasmania

There cannot be more ice above the surface than below at any time.

"...we are aware that temperatures ....are rising...." Are we?! How does that have relevence in this discussion?

Your train of logic seems to have stopped at an out-of-the-way station.


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 15 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

"There cannot be more ice above the surface than below at any time.", exactly my point, so for Arctic Ice to melt it MUST happen below the surface, end of story.

Perhaps you could write an article explaining how the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300 A.D.) was caused by automobiles without of course using science fiction?

. . . don't those little dots indicate where quotes are missing information or are being taken out of context?

Again as you so neatly sidestepped my question about airplane travel, I would expect nothing less on your own article, typical tactic.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Somethingblue, I deleted your first comment for using gratuitous insults. I don't put with that sort of thing, so if you want to resubmit your comment without questioning my honesty, feel free. Just stick to the point, and I'll let it through.

Summarizing what you said, for those who now can't read the post directly, you state or imply that:

1) "we know that the atmosphere can't possibly warm up the ocean…"

2) Some mysterious phenomenon, unspecified except that it is "causing all the massive fish and bird kills world wide", is what is, according to you, warming the ocean.

3) Also, could "a million cracks, fissures and volcanic openings on the ocean floors" heat up the ocean?

4) The warming ocean must be the 'real culprit' behind climate change/global warming.

Some comments:

1) And how do 'we' know that, exactly? True, the ocean has much greater thermal mass than the atmosphere, but that does not mean that heat cannot flow from the latter to the former. More importantly, the atmosphere can influence the temperature of the ocean in other ways than directly heating it: loss of heat *from* the ocean can only really occur via the atmosphere. So atmospheric conditions can control *how fast the ocean can cool.* That will in turn have a great bearing on its temperature.

2) And just what do you claim this mysterious 'something' actually is? HAARP, maybe? If so, on what evidence--because I've never seen anything that even truly suggests that HAARP actually exists.

3) Those geologists--just who are they, by the way, and where did they publish their findings?--probably made some estimates of the energy fluxes from those vents. What do those estimates show?

And perhaps more to the point, is there any evidence that the numbers or flow rates of those heat sources have changed significantly over the past decades? Because if they haven't, they can't explain changes in global warming.

4) Yes, absolute humidity does affect heat fluxes to the atmosphere. There's this thing called 'evapotranspiration' which carries a fair bit of heat upwards from the surface; it's been studied a lot by climate scientists. Absolute humidity also affects global warming radiatively, because water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas. And absolute humidity has been rising over the decades, due to rising temperatures which allow the air to hold more moisture. That's an important 'feedback' mechanism, by which greenhouse warming is amplified.

One last point in answer to your question about the terms "global warming" and "climate change". They refer to slightly different (but related) things: "global warming" refers to a specific temperature trend. And there can be no question about it: it's simply an observed fact. The planet has been warming over most of the period since the Industrial Revolution.

"Climate change" is a more general term; it takes in things beyond just temperature change, such as changes in storm tracks and other aspects of atmospheric circulation, changes in humidity, evaporation and other aspects of the water cycle, or changes in the cryosphere, such as you discuss above.

Both terms have been in use since at least the nineteen-fifties in the scientific literature. Some prefer one term to the other; for instance, the Republican political strategist Frank Luntz advised the Bush administration that they should use 'climate change' because it sounded 'less severe':

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz#Global_w...


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 15 months ago from Tasmania

Mmmm... Mr. Frank Luntz. It seems the only science he is familiar with is Political Science. Do you suppose he is in the least bit interested in honest facts regarding climate change or global warming?

Emotions are his love of life. Emotional assessment of the challenges of our world environment will not save the planet from human ravages. Cool, calm, well researched, hard facts will give us some understanding of what we individually and as communities must do, urgently now and in the long-term.

The honest scientist is one who is willing to say "we got it wrong, but we have learned a great deal. Let's now reassess and get it right."

Fortunately we have some very worth members of this group.

A religious philosopher is most unlikely to admit to being wrong..... and there are plenty of those in HubPages.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 15 months ago from Yorktown NY

I agree with you somethgblue. The latest book by Mark Steyn - A disgrace to the profession, takes on Michael Mann's hockey stick graph and exposes the problems with that. Climate scientists have a lot of explaining to do. I don't understand why some have this blind allegiance to "science" when they have been wrong so many times in past history. They are human and human can and will makes mistakes and they have biases. It takes a certain honesty and humbleness to admit either one does't know or one is wrong about something. I hope these scientist will do the right thing.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Mark Steyn has no education in science whatsoever:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Steyn#Life_and_...

So how can he possibly 'expose problems' with the hockey stick graph? I would suggest that his book is nothing but a massive smear job. And I don't base that on my preferences, but on the scientific record with regard to Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1990), the 'hockey stick' paper: its broad findings have been reproduced independently numerous times since then. In fact, it's an extremely important paper, not because it 'proves' global warming--it doesn't, as Dr. Mann has been pointing out for years--but because it helped spark a whole new area of inquiry, the use of proxy data to reconstruct ancient temperatures (and other meteorological data, too.) That's why Dr. Mann has been awarded some of the highest scientific honors:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_E._Mann#Awar...

Mark Steyn, meanwhile, is defending himself in a lawsuit Dr. Mann brought against him for defamation of character:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Steyn#Defamatio...


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 15 months ago from Yorktown NY

Mark Steyn is quoting 20 plus scientists who has been critical of the hockey stick theory. He is reporting on the bad science. You don't need to be a scientist to recognize and expose problems. The fact speak for it self. In a few years, we will get to the truth. Either climate change is real or it is exaggerated to influence a political agenda. The science will suffer if the latter is proved. No need to debate the issue to death.


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 15 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

So let me get this straight, you're saying a pot of water boils from the heat of the atmosphere around it not from the heat underneath it?

Also you censor my comment but then take bits and pieces of it out of context to make your counter argument, WOW!

That's a little hypocritical don't you think?

Doc Snowjob you have neatly sidestepped every question I have asked you, delete away baby, I would expect nothing less from a person unable to defend their own position?

What grade are you in?


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 15 months ago from Tasmania

@somethgblue , a pot of water, if placed in a lower atmospheric pressure, will boil at a lower temperature, even without a heat sorce underneath the pot.

The mixing and movement of the atmosphere and oceans is so, so complex, infinitely so, that no one could possibly give an absolute explanation of exactly how the mixing is taking place at any one time. However, by careful, consistent measurements over a very wide area and over a very long time can yield scientific information from which to form theories, test those theories and come up with predictions.

Some of those predictions will prove correct. Others will not prove correct. Yet it's all a learning process which can ultimately benefit mankind - and the rest of the world, hopefully. None of it is perfect, we cannot expect it to be.

Ultimately, it does all depend upon individuals taking the time and trouble to learn scientific subjects thoroughly. I suggest you go back to school if you wish to criticize scientists. Get your facts right; don't depend on your beliefs.


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 15 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

It's not that we don't understand science or the information, it's that we KNOW when we are being lied to.

Ask yourself and answer honestly why so many people don't agree with your stance? Is it that we simply don't understand? Is it that we aren't educated?

No, we KNOW that science is bought and paid for by special interest groups to try and convince an unsuspecting public of a certain paradigm.

This is the case, climate change used to be called global warming but when so many people, studies and per-reviewed studies showed it to be bogus, they made the name change, again to confuse the public perception.

Education uses antiquated theories and ideas, even the above article relies on ideas and concepts conceived of in the 1800s. Sure they have been modified but so what, its old antiquated thinking designed to show precedence.

I have read many per reviewed 'scientific' papers, articles and books that completely destroy the Ice Age theories created in the early 1800s for the creation of the surface of the Earth.

Our whole society is based on the concept of proof and yet sometimes when their is so much disagreement you have to throw that out and trust your heart. My heart tells me this is a scam.

The TRUTH stands alone and needs no defense.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 15 months ago from Tasmania

@somethgblue

"... we KNOW that science is bought and paid for by special interest groups to try and convince an unsuspecting public of a certain paradigm."

Yes, we do know that. Big business leaders use greed and selfishness in their dealings. They pay "scientists" big biccies to give less than accurate reports and details of products, so that we, the general public buy those products. Our health and lives are put at risk by that sort of practice.

If you are only using your heart to judge the matters of science, then it is no wonder you are angry and perhaps confused. Your brain is where the important information should be assessed. That is your thinking organ, not your heart (which you obviously know is there to pump blood!).

Scientific enquiry, research, endeavour, is a way of obtaining facts. False science paints lies, as you have indicated. Science ALWAYS keeps an open mind for new information to come into the picture. Greed and selfishness will usually deny it.

So you don't get more and more negative in life, may I suggest you open your own mind to some beautiful and wonderous knowledge of this world. Buy yourself a magnifying lens. Use it to look at flowers and other minute things. Share this experience with young people, help them to open their minds as well. This way you will be doing the world a favour, instead of all that negative talk you have put over here in HubPages.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

sb, I deleted one of your comments due to a vulgar 'suggestion' you made to jcl. That doesn't fly here.

Turning to a substantive point, you ask:

"So let me get this straight, you're saying a pot of water boils from the heat of the atmosphere around it not from the heat underneath it?"

No, you don't have that straight. I am saying that the atmosphere mediates heat loss from the ocean, in at least two different ways: it controls the ability of the ocean's surface to radiate heat directly to space, and it controls the ocean's loss of heat through evaporation.

The temperature of the ocean, like anything else, is controlled by the value of two terms, heat gain and heat loss. Let's consider a human being as an analogy for a moment: we are heated by the chemical energy contained in the food we eat, and cooled by a mix of direct radiation to the surrounding environment, convective heat transfer via air flow, and very importantly by the evaporation of water from our skin. We like to help control the first two of those by wearing clothing, which slows heat loss, making us warmer: that cosy flannel shirt traps warm air next to the skin, and blocks our skin's thermal radiation from escaping away very far.

Similarly, the ocean. It is heated by a mix of shortwave (solar) and long wave (atmospheric thermal) radiation. As you can see from the diagram linked below, the former contributes something like 161 watts per square meter. (I say 'something like' because the figure given is a global average, and the correct number for just the oceans would differ some.) The latter contributes 333 watts per square meter--roughly twice as much. So yes, the atmosphere does indeed heat the ocean, in a way.

But let's look at the cooling side, which as I've indicated is the really crucial bit. The diagram shows that the Earth's surface radiates 396 watts per square meter to the atmosphere. Of that 396, currently only 22 watts per square meter makes it out of the atmosphere and into space. The more CO2 in the air, the lower that number becomes.

What happens to the remainder? It's reabsorbed by the atmosphere. Ultimately, the atmosphere radiates a portion to space and a portion back to the surface, in a roughly 60/40 split.

Diagram link:

https://scied.ucar.edu/radiation-budget-diagram-ea...

UCAR video explaining it:

http://ucarconnect.ucar.edu/multimedia/videos/eart...


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

jacklee, thanks for commenting again.

It's a fair point that journalists can turn up information without necessarily being able to do actual scientific analysis. However, they can also do hatchet jobs which completely distort the reality that they are supposed to be reporting on. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Steyn is engaging in the latter.

Why? Because of the verdict of the scientific literature on the hockey stick paper. The real 'scientific debate' is the one contained in the professional literature. That's why, to be a true scientist, you must do more than research a question; you must submit it to the judgment of your peers by publishing it in a professional journal where it can and will be read and vigorously criticized, replicated, debunked, defended, reinterpreted, and otherwise put through the wringer six ways from Sunday.

Well, it will, if its results are sufficiently interesting to merit that kind of effort. But we already know that the Mann, Bradley and Hughes 'hockey stick' papers of 1998-9 passed that test.

The 1998 paper has, according to Google Scholar, been now been cited 1809 times:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=153226853...

That's extremely influential--and it's not been an uncritical bunch of 'fan-boy' papers, either. There was a serious examination of the MBH results.

I say 'was', because the issue was largely settled in favor of MBH by 2007, when Wahl and Amman showed that the criticisms were not correct:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-00...

"...the Mann et al. reconstruction is robust against the proxy-based criticisms addressed. In particular, reconstructed hemispheric temperatures are demonstrated to be largely unaffected by the use or non-use of PCs to summarize proxy evidence from the data-rich North American region… Also, recent “corrections” to the Mann et al. reconstruction that suggest 15th century temperatures could have been as high as those of the late-20th century are shown to be without statistical and climatological merit."

I don't suppose Mr. Steyn addresses that result, nor the fact that recent work continues to come to the same broad conclusions as did MBH. For example, here's a Nature paper from last year, focussing on warming in the *Southern* hemisphere. It, too, shows a classic 'hockey stick' shape. (See their figure 2, which you can view from the linked page.)

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n5/full/...

I'm not surprised that Mr. Steyn can find 20 sources to say things that disparage Mann; there are at least that many paid shills among the 3% or so of climate scientists that do not (yet) accept the mainstream view. (Heck, I could probably guess some of the sources, just by running down the list of prominent 'contrarian' scientists.) I expect that his task was eased by--let me put this diplomatically--a lack of concern for context. That may be unfair, but I doubt it: previous efforts in the genre (e.g., "The Great Global Warming Swindle") are known for distorting use of selective quotation, to the point where sources have protested the abuse of their words:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Global_War...

And Mr. Steyn's reputation is not for considered use of language--to put it mildly.

So, you may like to believe that he is just debunking 'bad science.' But the scientific literature itself says something completely different.

A couple of points in conclusion. First, I remarked above that MBH never 'proved' global warming. Let me expand on that, because I think it's a telling point. What MBH did was to find effective ways to reconstruct past temperature trends, using proxy data. That was politically provocative, because it showed that recent warmth was unprecedented in the context of the last millennium-plus.

But if you think about it, that says nothing about causation; it says nothing about how warm things might get, or how good or bad that might be; and it bears not at all on the physics of the greenhouse effect.

Yet attacking MBH has been a recurrent obsession of certain folks ever since it came out. Why? Because it's a powerful result from a *purely emotional point of view.* It's never really been about the science, for the likes of the Wegman team and their political handlers. Nor is it, I believe, for Mr. Steyn.

Lastly, let me observe that you puzzle me, jack. You say "No need to debate the issue to death."

Yet here you are, promoting a book which seeks to debate a paper that's now 17 years old, that has been thoroughly examined (and validated) in the literature, and that is really not all that relevant, from a scientific point of view, in determining whether or not we ought to be concerned about climate change. Why?


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Actually, I disagree with you on that, jcl. *Scientists* may sometimes be bought, but the scientific process, not so much. (The one area I'd possibly except here is pharmaceutical research, where there's been a much higher rate of malfeasance than in any other. Big Pharma has so much money to bring to bear, and the kinds of studies needed are so expensive, that keeping everything there on the up and up is much harder than in most arenas.) That's why the sorts of folks you are referring to--the Pat Michaels and Willy Soons of the world--are generally much more active as PR flaks than as researchers.

Soon was interesting as a partial exception, since he actually did publish a few papers, but the 'scientific process'--ie., professional researchers looking for research ideas--judged them as worthless and they sank without a trace (except of course in the denialist blogosphere.)


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 15 months ago from Yorktown NY

I think you missed my original point. I think some scientists are honest and doing good research. However, they can over reach in their conclusions with regard the causes of climate change. Hypothetically, lets say the earth is warming due to a change in sun activity. If a scientist is studying the ice in the artic or some plant life in the amazon whatever, he can deduce the earch is warming and having an effect... His technical papers published in journals can be perfectly sound. That by itself cannot proof that the warming is caused by man and increased co2. To do so, he would have to keep all variables the same and that is just not possible. The scientific method cannot be used here. I used the sun as one example of natural causes but there are many others. A large volcanic eruption can through off all data for years. I hope you see my point.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I'm not sure I do see your point, jack. I understand (and agree) that no single piece of research can possibly 'prove' a large proposition, such as 'humans are causing climate change by emitting carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in very large quantities.'

However, 'proof' is not a word that is used much in science these days anyway; the paradigm of Thomas Kuhn remains very influential. According to it, propositions are potentially scientific if they are falsifiable. Lab experiments of the sort you refer to are the ideal: if all variables are kept 'the same' then a clean falsification of a hypothesis may be possible. But even then, it's not so much 'proof' as 'disproof.'

But science does not end with lab experiments. It also encompasses much observational work. That is also true of climate science, where there has been incredible efforts in data collection, whether you think of satellites monitoring temperature, sea ice cover, CO2 concentration and numerous other parameters, of researchers counting birds in the rainforest, or hauling up water samples while standing on a heaving deck somewhere in the North Atlantic.

And 200 years of observation, questioning and analysis has bought us a pretty good idea of what is going on with CO2 and climate. We don't know everything, but we do have a very good idea that our practices are apt to cost us a lot of expense and pain if we don't find a more sustainable basis for our energy economy.

You want to 'wait and see' about climate change. My question to you is, just exactly what are you waiting for? Roger Revelle observed in 1958 that we had embarked on a 'vast experiment' with our global carbon emissions. Here's what the record shows:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/lo-he...

It's not a completely clean 'experiment'. But seriously, what would you need to see in order to accept the mainstream point of view? Bear in mind that:

1) We don't have infinite amounts of time to change our economy, and

2) There will be folks looking to justify continued inaction and to persuade you that we need just a few more years of data before we are 'sure enough' to risk spending some money.


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 15 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

Johnnycomelately, the truth isn't negative and the heart is definitely an intelligent thinking organ simply because you haven't grasped this concept . . yet, doesn't make it less so.

Read some of my articles The Flower of Life, Living Frugal A Way of Life (which won hub of the day, can you make that claim?), The Infinite Harmony, Is God A Musician?, Pineal Gland The God Organ (with over 30,000 pageviews, got one with that many?), Women Empowerment, Mother Earth and the Rise of the Female Spirit, Top Ten Science Fiction Novels of All Time and the list goes on and on . . .

I share my version of the truth, I create and introduce new ideas, concepts and speculation on a wide variety of subject matter and I always offer a solution, if their warrants one.

"Science ALWAYS keeps an open mind for new information to come into the picture. Greed and selfishness will usually deny it."

Not when the 'science' is already paid for to find an make the information fit the theory, this has been proven over and over again. Greed and selfishness is the reasons 'science' is bought and paid for, you said it yourself.

Take the Brontosaurs scam, they knew over a hundred years ago it was a contrived, fabricated animal created so the 'scientist' could continue to get Government grant money and travel the world.

Did they remove it from the history books, educational books, the Smithsonian Institute, NO they kept the scam going out of denial, pride, ego and selfishness, THEY DID NOT DENY IT.

They censored the information from the public, NASA, Geologist, Archeologists, Astronomers even Physicists continue to this day to deceive the public.

Lying is negative, telling the truth is positive!

I suggest you stop making suggestions and practice what you preach, look in the mirror and ask yourself if scamming the public is a worthwhile endeavor and a positive way of influencing young people.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I don't think the brontosaurus 'scam' really says much about science in general.

There's a good synopsis of it here:

http://tinyurl.com/YahooBrontoStory

"As it turns out, Marsh's mistake was called out by scientists long before the public was willing to let the Brontosaurus go, with the record being set straight over a century ago in 1903."

And as far as climate science goes, allegations of all sorts have been made. Every single time they've been investigated, they've been shown to be baseless or highly exaggerated.


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 15 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

A true Denialist to the end, yes they admitted the bronto story early on just not to the public, nor did they take it out of their education system, textbooks and history books, get real dude, you are going to blame the public for being gullible, that was good for a laugh!

I may have to quote you on that one, that was good! I have a list of ridiculous quotes made by HP writers I keep on my desk top so even if you delete it you will still get credit, WOW!

The first three words in your comment sums up your entire basis for making logical arguments "I Don't Think", nuff said, you get a star, case closed!


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Apparently "they" are supposed to be all-powerful. "They" own 'the' educational system, as well as 'science' and, well, who really knows what else? "They" can admit things so adroitly that it will be known that 'they' did, but just not to 'the public'. (I guess it's kind of the way that certain 'papers of record' were attractive by reason of their very obscurity.) That's a really impressive ability to manipulate.

Uh, remind me, just who is supposed to 'get real' again?


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 15 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

Well, 'they' have had thousands of years to perfect their agenda, I reckon even you might convince some folks of manmade Climate Change in that amount of time, just not me.

I know what you are and who you work for, so while its be fun chit chatting, if you really want to reach your client base throw out the techno-babble and try to dummy down the rhetoric just a bit.

After all an education system that bases most of their programs on antiquated theories , disinformation and outright lies hasn't exactly cranked out the geniuses.

Isn't the Georgia Guide Stones close to where you live? Things that make you go hmmm . . .


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

"Who I work for?"

I seriously doubt it.

As to the Georgia Guide Stones, they are maybe an hour and a half drive. Haven't been by, though it would probably have some interest.

But if you're saying 'so long', then thanks for playing.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 15 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc, I do not want to spend resources to fix a problem we may not have a solution for. What if we are entering a mini ice phase as some scientist believe? Are you and other climate change believers willing to do what is necessary to reverse course? And increase co2? Some environmentalist wants to reduce fossil fuel and yet won't embrace nuclear power as an alternative. It is the most efficient and viable alternative to generate power. You have to wonder what is the motive and agenda. The way I see it, we have 3 options. We can do nothing and see what happens, we can spend lots of money and cause lots of inconveniences to maybe affect the temp. A fraction of degree or we can adapt the changing climate as we have done for thousand of years.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

(Tedious back and forth insults between jc and sb deleted; they don't add anything helpful to the thread.)


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

jack, it's reasonable not to wish to 'waste' effort and money. However, we certainly *do* have available solutions for decarbonizing our energy economy. It's been demonstrated that we could meet all our energy needs with just renewable energy and efficiency measures (using that latter term in its broadest sense to include things like demand management):

http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articl...

But we don't have to; we can also use some nuclear power as it is politically and economically possible. If we are lucky, we may see new nuclear technologies come on line that will finally enable safer and cheaper nuclear power. If so, great. With today's technology (and politics), though, I think that nuclear can't scale up fast enough to really address the climate crisis. We simply can't build enough reactors fast enough; we don't have the money or skilled personnel. (That's why I don't agree with you that nuclear is 'the most efficient and viable' alternative. Nuclear fans seem to think that it's only political will that's lacking, but that appears to be an illusion.)

Which leads us to the next point: time frame. The mainstream science says that we have an allowable total carbon emissions budget of one trillion tons, if we wish to have a reasonable chance of avoiding a warming of 2 C or greater:

http://www.wri.org/ipcc-infographics

As you can see from the same poster, we blew through more than half of that by 2011, and global emissions are still increasing. We're projected to use it all up by 2046 or so. That sounds like a comfortingly distant prospect, but since you indicate in your comment that you have some appreciation of the difficulties involved in transforming the energy economy, perhaps we can let that illusion pass.

So let's lay the possibilities out in terms of your 3 choices.

1) We just wait and see. The upside is that we are comfortable now, and don't spend money we wouldn't spend anyway. The downside is that we will be committed to greater than 2 C warming if the mainstream science is correct. That, just to remind us all, is the (arbitrary) danger level, largely because there's good reason to think that with that amount of warming, vigorous climate feedbacks will be activated, committing us to greater additional warming--even if we stop emitting. See:

https://letterpile.com/books/Mark-Lynass-Six-Degre...

Essentially, 2 C might really mean 4C or worse.

2) We take mitigation seriously. The downside is that we need to spend significant amounts of money. This is real, but often exaggerated: the amount needed has been estimated to be perhaps 5% of GDP, which is a lot, but is not ruinous. And some of the spending wouldn't truly be additional--for example, aging energy infrastructure needs replacing anyway, and need not cost more to replace with 'clean' technology as opposed to 'dirty'. (In fact, it may sometimes cost *less*--new onshore wind capacity is now cheaper than building a new coal plant in most cases, and the cost differential is only going to tilt more in favor of wind over time.)

Of course, if it turns out that climate change is somehow not a problem, then it's 'money for nothing,' and it's largely wasted.

On the other hand, humanity does not run an existential risk, which we very well could under option #1: climate change could potentially drive us to extinction, or cause global civilizational collapse.

Yes, that sounds drastic. I can't help it; that's a potential outcome, extreme but not unrealistic, of the expected changes under worst case warming.

Which brings us to another point: according to the best information we have, it's not a matter of a 'fraction of a degree' as you state above, not if we're talking about conditions at the end of the century and beyond. After mid-century, choices we make over the next decade or so have a lot of 'leverage', and by 2100 the projected temperature swings that we could achieve by our mitigation policy choice amount to nearly 4 degrees C--see the graph labeled 'Figure 3' in the Hub above.

That's the difference between something like today's world, and an Earth that would be completely unrecognizable over much of its surface. Again, see the Lynas link for details.

My homeowners insurance is paid up, and would be even if the mortgage company didn't insist on it. I don't know about you, but personally I would extend that principle to the global warming issue.

3) After such lengthy replies, this point will come as a relief, I expect. But #3 isn't really choice, because we are going to have to adapt no matter what we choose. It's already too late for some things. For instance, summer Arctic sea ice may very well be on that list, which would mean drastically different summer and autumn weather across large swathes of the Northern hemisphere. Coastal communities will have to adapt or move. (Indeed, at least one is already doing just that.) Agriculture will have adapt to the relatively 'climatic' changes that result, and to cope with the weather.

Sea level rise is another one we're just going to have to adapt to. We can affect its magnitude, but there's no way we can stop it completely. The Navy is just going to have to move or modify a whole lot of port facilities, whether or not Congress is ready to admit that there is a problem. (Yes, that's an issue now in Norfolk, VA.) Millions will just have to move inland--and coastal homeowners will increasingly find that it's hard, or impossible, to sell. A whole lot of value is just going to be wiped out. But we'll adapt.

Thing is, the adaptation will be a lot harder under choice #1 than choice #2, if the mainstream science is correct. (And also 'early indications', like the ones just mentioned and more.)

Essentially, you can imagine this whole situation speaking to humanity in a Clint Eastwood voice: "Do you feel lucky, punk?"

Do you?


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 15 months ago from Tasmania

As a matter of interest, have you seen this article in Geo Scientist, by Jonathan Bujak, concerning arctic conditions 55 million years ago, when CO2 levels were possibly 3,500 ppm?

http://assets.geoexpro.com/legacy-files/articles/T...


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 15 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc, I feel not lucky, but blessed. I believe we are put on earth to be good stewards of our planet's resources including the animals and fossil fuels...they are here to help us and we need their resources to help us advance and progress as God intended. If you read some of my other hubs, I believe we are unique and life on earth is unique. To have the arrogance to think we can control everything is false and self defeating. Don't you agree that there are many things out of our control? Our civilization can be wiped out tomorrow from a large Astoroid or a major earthquake... I am an engineer by training. The more you study how things work around us, the more you realized that it fits together by design and not by random luck or evolution. I can't convince you of this but just google famous scientists down the ages and you will find many are believers in a supreme being. We are getting a bit off topic but you should understand where I'm coming from. I am not against science only people like climate scientists that are using science to achieve a different agenda. The key question to ask them is this- if they really believe in everything they are proposing, they would choose a different life style...not fly around the world in priivate jets and building mansions along the pacific coast.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

No, I hadn't seen that, jonny, thanks! I wonder how those ideas have developed since 2007?

jack, I'm glad you feel blessed. We probably all ought to feel so; gratitude is merited more often than experienced, I'm afraid. And you are certainly not alone in believing in a 'teleological world'--one with a purpose.

However, there's a big difference between 'thinking we control everything' and 'recognizing what we can and do control', don't you agree? Think of Niebur's famous serenity prayer:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference."

What we're working on here is the wisdom to know the difference.

If you are concerned about the varying agendas of different scientists, perhaps you might like to look into what Dr. Katherine Hayhoe has to say. She is a climate scientist and evangelical Christian with a strong concern for climate change. Her 'agenda' is to be a good steward of the Earth and its creatures:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stewardship_(theolog...

http://katharinehayhoe.com

I think that you are confusing different things when you say that climate scientists "fly around the world in priivate jets and building mansions along the pacific coast." Al Gore does those things--or more exactly, is perceived to do those things:

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/al-gor...

(And in the interests of strict accuracy, that Pacific coast mansion was not built by Mr. Gore; he bought an existing building. It's often stated to be on the beach, but that's wrong, too; photos show it to be high on the hillside overlooking the ocean below.)

But the main thing is, Al Gore is not a climate scientist. Doesn't claim to be. He's a former politician, a wealthy businessman, and a climate activist. You can debate whether wealth and concern for the environment are really compatible or not, but that's quite different from the lifestyles of climate scientists. As a class they are far removed from the sphere Mr. Gore lives in--'upper middle class' would be the right characterization, I think.

As to 'whether they really believe', you may wish to consider these personal glimpses:

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a36228/ballad...

http://isthishowyoufeel.weebly.com/this-is-how-sci...


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I can't resist quoting directly one of the letters from the last link in the above comment. It's from the Danish climate researcher, Ruth Mottram.

"Dear Joe,

"You have asked me how I feel about climate change. It’s probably the first time I have ever been asked to say what I feel, rather than what I think and it’s a hard question to answer.

"In my day to day job I run simulations with a regional climate model of Greenland and the Arctic to see how glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice respond to greenhouse gas forcings. The processes and connections I am modelling and following are so familiar it is actually rather easy to bear witness to melting glaciers, rising sea level and vanishing sea ice with near complete detachment. Sometimes however, I am caught by surprise by a new result that at first appears counter-intuitive. Then I feel that beautiful complex mix of elation, surprise, bewilderment and satisfaction as another piece falls into place, that characterizes scientific understanding. It is endlessly fascinating watching how the planet reacts to a changing climate and we are learning so much about the earth system.

"Then I go home and what seem like very arcane models and far-off projections start to seem much more real. 2050 (the year Denmark aims to become carbon neutral) is no longer impossibly distant to imagine but my children will be only a little older than I am now. I have a glimpse of the possible environment they will likely experience and it is sobering. I feel a profound sadness that they will be dealing with a much degraded environment. They will be living with severe problems of our making, an acidifying ocean, reduced biodiversity, extreme weather events, rising sea levels and an Arctic environment that is very different from today. I have no idea how to start to talk to them about this.

"We live in a wealthy country that can (more or less) afford to adapt to climate change, but what of other nations? How will the rest of the world deal with these challenges? These are scary questions that I can’t answer. In spite of all this I do not feel depressed about the future. Humans are an amazingly adaptable and versatile species. We are at our best when we work together on our grand challenges. Let us hope so at any rate.

"So, what do I feel about climate change? Interest, intellectual curiosity, satisfaction, excitement, extreme worry, sadness, fear and perhaps a glimmer of hope...

"Yours sincerely

"Dr Ruth Mottram

Klimaforsker/Climate Scientist

Danish Meteorological Institute"


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 15 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc, everything she describe can be true and we may have little to do with it. She even admits that we don't understand how all this interact. Our planet is not a greenhouse. There are many complex things going on that keep our planet in this "goldilocks" zone. Yes, we have some influence but in the grand scheme of things, very little. I believe in the motto "first do no harm". Have you seen what the EPA did lately in Colorado? Do you want these same people dictating climate change policies? I don't.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Jack, there's little room for doubt that 'we are doing it'--not if you consider the whole picture. Again, since Revelle's 'great experiment' began, we've seen very sustained warming, and we've seen it where we should see it if it's due to greenhouse warming--that is, in the surface and lower troposphere, and especially in the Arctic--and not where we would see it if it were solar in origin--that is, not in the stratosphere, which has shown a persistent *cooling* trend.

You like the 'wait and see' approach. But just what would we be waiting for? What evidence would you need to see that you have not already seen over the last 6 decades?

I believe in the motto "first do no harm", too, but we are conspicuously failing to live by it as is--and not least when we use the atmosphere as a free dump for combustion by-products.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 15 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc, the one evidence I need is for the various climate models to agree with reality. There projections has consistently over estimated the temperature rise. I just don't trust them considering how the models have such variables which are based on assumptions and the small tweak can cause large changes in the model outputs. In a few short years, we will see if these models are for real or they are contrived. Please revisit this in a few years. Take care.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 15 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Jack, thank you for a clear answer. I appreciate it.

I don't think it's true that the projections have 'consistently' over-estimated temperature rise rates. I know that the 'ensemble'--that's a large number of runs by different models--has an envelope that easily includes the actual observed trend. Realclimate has done a number of posts on this over the years. The first is from 2009:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009...

They revisited that in 2012:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013...

The most recent such comparison was from June of this year--it's included in a post which also discusses the updates of the NOAA model. It includes the largest discrepancies of the three posts; for the period since 1998 you can see that the temps are below the model mean. (That's period of the so-called 'pause'--really a slowdown, not a pause, as the figure in the post clearly shows.) But temps are still within the confidence envelope of the model ensemble, with one exception: the 'old' NCDC (ie., NOAA) annual means for 2011 and 2012 are just below the lower bound of the CMIP 5 model ensemble (don't ask, I'm already going on too long!). It's proposed that that is because the volcanic and solar forcings used in those model runs were a bit 'cooler' than reality actually turned out to be:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015...

I'm going to leave you with one more thought on models and observations. It's alleged with incredible frequency and persistence, by many folks who oppose the mainstream view, that models are basically abject failures--terms like 'rubbish' and 'joke' seem to be highly favored.

But I have to say, few of them seem to have looked at the history involved. There are quite a few successful model predictions 'in the bag', including some where it seemed for a time that observations of various things (upper tropospheric temperature trends, for one) were 'falsifying' the models, but it turned out that in fact the problems were with the observations. Here's a piece on that for your consideration:

http://www.bartonlevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

Thanks for your comments. I feel a bit bad because you wanted me to 'revisit this in a few years,' not now--so it seems 'pushy' to revisit it instantly! But going back to your '3 options', I feel a strong need to purchase 'climate insurance.' I don't think that it can wait 'a few years.'

Last year was the warmest in the instrumental record; this year will almost certainly be warmer still (and will likely show pretty warm in the satellite data, too.) Model-observation comparisons for 2015 will probably *not* show the observations lagging. But if 2016 is a little bit cooler, as might well happen just on the basis of 'reversion to the mean', what will you conclude? (You needn't reply to that question, of course. But I intend it not as rhetoric, but as spur to a 'thought experiment.')


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 14 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc, I came across this web site recently and would like you to comment -

http://www.global-warming-forecasts.com

I will make a pledge to you.

You ask me what it would take to be convinced.

If the items in the forecast for 2015 and 2020 comes true as they projected, I will be convinced.

Notice they don't post any names on this site and they ask for donations.

There are no accountabilities with these claims.

The problem with these global warming alarmist is that they don't reconcile the facts with their forecasts. When it doesn't appear, they just make up some new stuff to explain the discrepancy.

I remain a skeptic...


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 14 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks. I'm not too interested in 2020 predictions, because if we wait til then to act decisively on CO2 mitigation, we are likely stuffed--readers, especially North American ones, may want to substitute another verb there.

But can you say more about just which predictions you have in mind, and what sort of evaluation you will perform? There are many, many predictions even for 2015, as can be seen here:

http://www.global-warming-forecasts.com/2015-clima...

Surely, you don't mean that every single one has to turn out correct?

And surely, some of them aren't really central to climate, though they may be related to it. For instance, global air conditioner sales, predicted to hit 78.8 million this year, is not purely a climate change question; it's deeply entangled with global economic trends, too. FWIW, it's looking way too conservative as a prediction. See this piece, which seems to indicate that global sales hit that level by 2013:

http://www.achrnews.com/articles/127385-global-ac-...

How would you factor in such a question, and such an outcome?

And how about sea ice? We've just hit the seasonal minimum, more or less, and the sea ice (per JAXA data on extent) is the 3rd-lowest ever, at roughly 4.25 million square kilometers. (The record low is from 2012, when the JAXA seasonal low hit 3.17 on Sept. 16.) The 2015 page from the blog you discuss, as linked above, says "Arctic ocean could be mostly ice free by 2013 according to NASA scientists." But it also says "sea ice is melting faster than predicted by models created by international teams of scientists, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They had forecast the Arctic Ocean could be free of summer ice as early as 2050."

Does "could be" actually count as a prediction? Or even a projection? And when the IPCC says 2050--most modelers now seem to think that it will more likely be in the 2030s or 2040s--and a couple of individuals say "it could be 2013", who are we supposed to believe?

The bottom line still seems to be that the Arctic sea ice is going fast; the September trend is declining at more than 10% per decade:

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/2015/09/mo...

So, how about this: you and I make a project. We'll sort the predictions for this year that we want to assess--other than what I've done here, no looking ahead! (Full disclosure: I already looked at the case of Lagos, Nigeria, a bit.) Then we'll research them and compare what we find. We each write a Hub about it.

What do you say?


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 14 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc, you missed my point about the far reaching projections of this site. The point is they are meant to scare and not based on anything real.

I will take up your challenge.

I was planning to do a hub on something related to this topic anyway.

I want to expose the false projections and exaggerations of some to influence public opinion.

Give me about a month since I have some other things on my plate.

I think this would be a productive exercise instead of verbal debates.

Let's just keep it manageable to a few best examples.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 14 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I suppose I did miss your point (as well as the point of that site; it's a bit diffuse, if you ask me.) However, I'd disagree about at least some of the predictions, in that the site does make a reasonable effort to cite its sources, and some at least of them appear to have some weight (e.g., Science, the Max Planck Institute or the Center for a New American Security.) So I do think that at least some of those projections are based on 'something real.'

I suspect that a lot of the 'false projections' and 'exaggerations' are artifacts of out-of-context quotation by folks who, as you write, are trying "to influence public opinion." (Although I certainly see folks on both sides who engage in serious hyperbole; the 'alarmist' claiming we'll be extinct in as a species in 30 years is well-matched with the 'denialist' claiming that a modest carbon tax will return us to the Stone Age.)

OK, let's revisit this in a month or so. (I'm pretty rushed for time myself, with a probable new job coming online.) And "manageable" sounds good to me, if we can manage to keep it so. :-)


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 14 months ago from Tasmania

Jack, such an exercise as Doc and you envisage would be a valuable one, and I am sure you will be open and conscientious about it.

I would be interested to know what your objective is here. It seems you are wanting to dispel the fears surrounding predicted global warming trends and catastrophic climate change. Is this a correct presumption?

What would you like to be the outcome if and when people become convinced there is nothing to worry about? Do you think we should all carry on as usual? Could there possibly be an advantage to acting now, and in the future, as if our activities (of the human species, that is) are in fact causing disastrous long-term potential climate changes?

You feel passionately that people are exaggerating the findings, perhaps for ulterior motives.

Have you ever questioned those feelings.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 14 months ago from Yorktown NY

johnnycomelately, you are correct in your assessment of my current thinking. I am a skeptic but I can be convinced if the evidence is indisputable that we are the cause.

My personal believe is that global warming or climate change is mostly a natural condition and humans have a small part in contributing to it. In any case, we can't do much to correct it or mitigate it, only to adapt as our ancestors have done for thousands of years.

When in the future, if our technology has advanced sufficiently to be able to control our planet, which I have doubt, then it would be a different scenario.

I have no problem with environmentalist who calls for cleaner air and water... that should not be tied to fossil fuel and carbon dioxide outputs which are different than pollution.

I am convinced that some scientists/environmetalists have ulterior motives in using climate change to bring about global economic re-distribution in the name of fairness...

Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" was a great introduction to this.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 14 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

I'm only going to say, jack, that your "in any case" is logically wrong. If the scientific mainstream is correct that we *are* driving the current warming, then it follows that mitigating our GHG emissions will also mitigate warming. (Though not necessarily with instant effect.)

Perhaps you meant, "If my view is correct..."?


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 14 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc, I do mean what I say. Even the climate scientists admit that even if we do what they propose, it would have little effect on reducing global temperature (fraction of a degree). That to me is the elephant in the room. They just admitted that they can't effect nature. If you read some of my other hubs, you would know that I believe God has control over the Earth more than Man. It is the only explanation of how we come to being and how we exist despite of all the natural events...

It is arrogant of Man to believe we can control our destiny. We can't in absolute terms. We can clean the air and water but we can't control the Sun or the asteroids or volcanos or earthquakes.

I look forward to the hub challenge.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 14 months ago from Tasmania

Jackclee, your statement "My personal believe is that..." is the main thing that worries me.

Doc Snow has been addressing the scientific findings and yet keeping his mind open to further developments. Granted there is a place for "what ifs," and "supposings," to further inquiry. This is the basis of growing in our knowledge. But when you bring in your beliefs in God, although that is your personal choice and respected, it is not fair to bring your beliefs in God into a scientific discussion.... in my opinion.

Years and years of detailed research, accumulating a huge amount of data, in sometimes extremely difficult circumstances, by dedicated and careful people, does not fit well with personal beliefs.

How can you keep an open mind to further information if you cannot pull yourself away from those beliefs? Just for a short time? I mean, you can always go back to those beliefs if you wish to, but they are bound to influence all of your opinions even in the face of scientific evidence. So how can we give credibility to your opinions if they are so heavily influenced?


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 14 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

"Even the climate scientists admit that even if we do what they propose, it would have little effect on reducing global temperature (fraction of a degree)."

No. I'm sorry, but that is simply incorrect. According to the most recent Assessment Report ("AR5", which came out last year), the emissions trajectory we choose will effect a temperature 'swing' of as much as 5 degrees Celsius at the end of the century. (And 5 degrees difference in the mean global temperature is huge, amounting to probably close to 10 C over land areas.)

You may choose to 'disbelieve' that finding, but that is in fact what the climate science community says. See the top panel in the linked graphic; "RCP 8.5" is basically business as usual, "RCP 2.6" is aggressive mitigation:

https://www.ipcc.ch/report/graphics/images/Assessm...

"It is arrogant of Man to believe we can control our destiny…. We can clean the air and water but we can't control the Sun or the asteroids or volcanos or earthquakes."

Correct. But nobody is proposing that we can control our destiny absolutely. The mainstream is proposing that we stop doing something that has a high probability of self-harm.

(Substitute 'individual drug use' for 'societal fossil fuel use' to get a feel for this; we all know that quitting smoking (or drinking, or heroin, or whatever) can't ensure a long, healthy life--but failing to quit can definitely raise the odds of a short, miserable one.)


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 14 months ago from Yorktown NY

johnnycomelately, I have my personal believe but it does not preclude me to accept evidence that is clear. Science is also not infallible as history have shown us again and again. As an engineer, I examine all sides and make the determination accordingly. However, unlike some secular scientists, who refuse to acknowledge any "super natural" influence in our natural world, I am. Who is more open minded?

This may seem contrary to you but some scientists have determined an "intelligence" behind many of the things we find in nature. The more they peel the onion, the more they are convinced that it did not come about by accident. When have you heard about that?


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 14 months ago from Yorktown NY

doc snow, Just a heads up. I have been working on our challenge hub. It is almost finished. I will publish it shortly. Once you completed your hub, I will add the link to it. You can do the same. I wrote a brief introduction. I don't know if we are making history here... I'm not aware of any other hubbers doing a competing article on the same topic. Good luck.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 14 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks, jack! You're ahead of me; I've been slammed with a new work project, so I've got nothing other than a notation on the calendar to touch base with you a couple of weeks hence. Congrats on the work. I'm sure I'll find some things to disagree with, but I still think it'd be pretty cool if we made some history here, as you suggest we may be doing!

I did bookmark a video lecture by UK energy expert Kevin Anderson, who presents a strong case that we are nearly too late now to avoid a 2 C warming--not in theoretical terms, but in practical ones. He sees a tacit 'conspiracy of silence' to *understate* how dire the situation really is--over-simplifying things a bit, he says that scientists don't like to focus on the worst case any more than the rest of us, and politicians and technocrats who are concerned about climate change just won't hear the worst case when scientists *do* try to present it, because they know that it can't be 'sold' publicly and fear that acknowledging it might undercut the will to act.

It's here, for any interested readers. But note it's not very cheery:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYAaQ4iwdtY


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 14 months ago from Yorktown NY

Doc Snow - I published my hub and it is now featured.

Here is the link -

http://hubpages.com/education/Climate-Change-Predi...

I realized I am a bit early. We agreed on 1 month period but I completed my other commitment ahead of schedule. Please take your time, and I await to be convinced.

Take care.


jackclee lm profile image

jackclee lm 13 months ago from Yorktown NY

doc snow - Just checking how you are coming along on our challenge?

I look forward to your posting.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 13 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA Author

Thanks for asking, jack--I'm beavering away at it as I have time. I've been pretty time-crunched and stupid things keep coming up and interfering (today it was appliance repair, among other things.) Annoying… but I'll get there.

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