Climate change: Truth and consequences
So here’s the deal. Two hundred years ago, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was at its highest historical levels.
Today, it’s 35 percent higher. If I put an extra layer of transparent insulation on my greenhouse, is it going to get cooler in there? Probably not.
However, this is what John Carlson’s recent commentary in the May 14 Redmond Reporter seems to be saying. In fact, he seems to be mistaken about a number of things.
To begin with, an average rise in world-wide temperatures means all sorts of crazy weather, not just hotter days. Too much fresh water from melting polar ice, for example, could interfere with the warm Atlantic currents and cause deep-freeze winters on the East Coast.
That would get somebody’s attention in Washington.
When Carlson claims there is no warming trend, he’s probably referring to a recent article in Nature that predicts short-term cooling over the next 10-15 years.
The article does not deny, however, that the long-term warming observed over the last 100 years will continue.
Carlson also says the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model is wrong.
This is hard to understand, since IPCC predictions are a combination of several models, and allow for a great deal of short-term variation. To say their calculations are wrong is to confuse weather change (short term) with climate change (long term).
Worried about all of this? Don’t know what to do? Then you’d probably prefer scientific facts rather than uninformed opinions.
Search on “IPCC AR4 synthesis report” to find out what the IPCC really says. Read what other climate scientists think at realclimate.org.
And then decide for yourself.
Carlson way off the mark with his facts
John Carlson’s column in the May 14 Redmond Reporter about global warming is full of unsupported claims.
He comes off as attempting to magically turn facts upsidedown through sleight of hand.
He states that the World Meterological Association reports that global warming has stopped. Not so.
In reviewing their latest report, I find that it claims just the opposite. The report begins by stating that the year 2007 ranks “among the ten warmest years on record” and that January 2007 was the “warmest January since global surface records were instituted.”
The trend they show in the data from 1850 shows the latest 20-year period as the warmest. They further indicate that the “warming trend over the past 50 years is nearly twice that for the past 100 years.”
In reporting the Arctic sea ice extent: September “was the lowest value on record. At the end of the melt season, the Arctic sea ice extent was 39 per cent below the long-term average.”
The last portion of the report discusses sea level rise and points out that the last decade indicates sea level rise increasingly attributed to “the movement of outlet glaciers of both the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. If this were a sign of an acceleration in response to global warming, it would be a major concern as the ice sheets contain enough water to raise sea level by 7 and 6 meters respectively.”
Nowhere is there a suggestion that global temperatures have leveled off or cooled.
Carlson further mentions the International Journal of Climatology article that claimed that the IPCC computer models don’t match actual temperatures.
This was from a 2007 study authored by global warming skeptics that has since been shown to be flawed by methodology problems.
When these errors are corrected, the IPCC models hold up well.
There are plenty of studies published in the International Journal of Climatology that point to global warming with CO2 as the culprit.
The cooling in the middle of the 20th century, prompting a Time Magazine about a new Ice Age, is explained by climate scientists as solar activity and the significant particulate pollution that we have reduced dramatically since then.
Recently, some scientists, who are worried about worst case scenarios, have even suggested that in the future we intentionally pollute (or dim) the upper atmosphere to offset severe global temperatures.
Carlson tries to make a case for a wishful, cooler global climate that isn’t actually supported by science. Next, he will pull a rabbit out of a hat and claim that it is not a rabbit at all!
Carlson: Faux-scientific commentary
On my desk is the May 14 issue of the Redmond Reporter, which devotes two pages to a faux-sceintific commentary by John Carlson on “what science is actually telling us about our climate.” According to Carlson, the period from 1940-1970 (in which the earth cooled 0.1 degree celsius) and from 1998-present (which cooled even less) shows that global warming is a myth.
What he conveniently leaves out is that from 1880-present the overall change was an increase of 0.9 degrees celsius.
He also either leaves out, or is ignorant of, the fact that climate change models do not predict consistent warming, but periodic cooling as well, as fresh water from melting icebergs causes oceans temporarily to cool down.
Al Gore could have told him that. If he had been listening.
Social debate about Global Warming is really not about science, as Carlson’s (mis)use of it shows, but about an issue much closer to home – our ways of life.
Behind the most vocal doubters’ tantrums is a desire to protect this way of life we have built energy-guzzling big screen TVs so we don’t have to talk to each other at home, water-thirsty lawns that keep us safe from neighbors, ever-widening highways so we don’t have to sit next to each other while we commute, and irresponsible commentaries issued in newspapers so we don’t have to face those we debate.
There is natural resistance to sacrificing things we have grown accustomed to, and so for people like Carlson, I can see why this would make him defensive.
The debate is really between people who want to justify our comfort zones and our right to waste more resources than most people in the world have to live on, and others whose sensitivity to the suffering in the world — both in nature and in humans — does not afford us the luxury of this ignorance. For better or worse, I find myself a member of the latter group, and I feel outrage at the thinly-veiled attempts of public figures who use their mouthpieces to sway others in order to make their own lives easier.
The truth is, the simple things we have to do to stop global warming make sense on many fronts. Buying more energy-efficient cars or better — building public transport — can help us conserve resources that are limited. Using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs can shave hundreds of dollars off home energy bills. Switching to clean sources of energy (wind, hydro, solar) can improve our children’s health (coal plant emissions cause asthma in children).
So why all the fuss, John Carlson? Is it too much of an inconvenience for you to care?