“Earth is warming, and we know why. Light is reflected and absorbed by clouds, air, oceans, ice and land. Greenhouse gases are released and adsorbed by organic and inorganic sources. Both exchanges depend on a variety of factors such as temperature, ocean acidity, the amount of vegetation and — yes — the burning of fossil fuels.
What’s less clear is what climate change means for our future. “It’s not like this is string theory,” said Timothy Palmer, professor of climate physics at the University of Oxford. “We know the equations.” But we don’t know how to solve them. The many factors that affect the climate interact with one another and give rise to interconnected feedback cycles. The mathematics is so complex, the only way scientists know to handle it is by feeding the problem into computers, which then approximately solve the equations.
The International Panel for Climate Change based its latest full report, in 2014, on predictions from about two dozen such computer models. These models were independently developed by institutions in multiple countries. While similar in methodology, the models arrive at somewhat different long-term predictions. They all agree that Earth will continue to warm, but disagree on how much and how quickly.”
“June 23 turned out be a blistering day in Washington, and much of the nation was suffering through a drought and heat wave. Dr. Hansen took his seat in a Capitol Hill hearing room and laid out the scientific facts as best he understood them.He had thought up a good line the night before, during the Yankees game, but in the moment he forgot to deliver it.
When the hearing ended, though, reporters surrounded him, and he remembered. “It is time to stop waffling so much,” he said, “and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.”
His near certainty that human emissions were already altering the climate caught the attention of a sweltering nation, catapulting Dr. Hansen to overnight fame. That year, 1988, would go on to be the hottest in a global temperature record stretching back to the 19th century.With the perspective of three decades, it is fair to ask: How right was his forecast?”
. . . .
“So while his temperature forecast was not flawless, in a larger sense, Dr. Hansen’s 1988 warning has turned out to be entirely on target. As emissions have soared, the planet has warmed relentlessly, just as he said it would; 1988 is not even in the top 20 warmest years now. Every year of this century has been hotter.
The ocean is rising, as Dr. Hansen predicted, and the pace seems to be accelerating. The great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are dumping ever-rising volumes of water into the sea. Coastal flooding is increasing rapidly in the United States. The Arctic Ocean ice cap has shrunk drastically.
If his warning in 1988 had been met with a national policy to reduce emissions, other countries might have followed, and the world would be in much better shape. . . . . “
David Lindsay: Thank you Justin Gillis. Here is one of my favorite comments at the NYT.com:
“. . . The scientists Joel Cohen and David Tilman wrote, “No one yet knows how to engineer systems that provide humans with the life-supporting services that natural ecosystems produce for free.”
But it would be a mistake to dismiss Biosphere 2 out of hand. For two years, eight people grew papayas, beets, bananas, rice and a host of other crops in there. Except for a sliced finger, their health remained good. The water they drank didn’t poison them. Some species went extinct, but the ecosystems endured. Biosphere 2 did not turn to slime.
As a piece of scientific research, Biosphere 2 had its problems. Countless things were happening all at once inside its walls, making it hard to pinpoint causes and effects. And without any other biospheres to compare it to, there was no way to distinguish random flukes from significant patterns. The University of Arizona scientist Bob Fry summed it up well in a newspaper interview: “It’s an experiment, but only in the sense that life is an experiment.” “
“Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree*: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.
AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES
Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations
“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.”” (2009)2
Source: Scientific Consensus | Facts – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet
Many observers seem baffled by Republican fealty to Donald Trump — the party’s willingness to back him on all fronts, even after severe defeats in the midterm elections. What kind of party would show such support for a leader who is not only evidently corrupt and seemingly in the pocket of foreign dictators, but also routinely denies facts and tries to criminalize anyone who points them out?
The answer is, the kind of the party that, long before Trump came on the scene, committed itself to denying the facts on climate change and criminalizing the scientists reporting those facts.
The G.O.P. wasn’t always an anti-environment, anti-science party. George H.W. Bush introduced the cap-and-trade program that largely controlled the problem of acid rain. As late as 2008, John McCain called for a similar program to limit emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
But McCain’s party was already well along in the process of becoming what it is today — a party that is not only completely dominated by climate deniers, but is hostile to science in general, that demonizes and tries to destroy scientists who challenge its dogma.”
“Here’s the scientific dirt: Soil can help reduce global warming.
While farm soil grows the world’s food and fiber, scientists are examining ways to use it to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.“We can substantially reduce atmospheric carbon by using soil. We have the technology now to begin employing good soil practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Johannes Lehmann, Cornell professor of soil and crop sciences, co-author of the Perspectives piece, “Climate-smart Soils,” published in Nature, April 6.Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that tighten the soil-nitrogen cycle can yield enhanced soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution. These practices also buffer crop and pasture systems against the impacts of climate change.
Currently, Earth’s atmosphere holds about 830 petagrams (1 trillion kilograms) of carbon and humans add about 10 petagrams of carbon to the atmosphere every year, because of industrial and agricultural waste, and fossil-fuel burning vehicles, according to Lehmann. Soils, however, hold about 4,800 petagrams of carbon to a depth of 2 meters, which is six times the amount of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere. The good news is that soils have the potential to hold even more, said the scientists.”
Source: ‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget | Cornell Chronicle
Even before the devastation from Harvey, southeastern Texas was enduring a year unlike any before.The daily surface temperature of the Gulf of Mexico last winter never dropped below 73 degrees. You can probably guess how many previous times that had happened: Zero.
This sort of heat has a specific effect on storms: Warmer weather causes heavier rainfall. Why? When the seas warm, more moisture evaporates into the air, and when the air warms — which has also been happening in Texas — it can carry more moisture.The severity of Harvey, in other words, is almost certainly related to climate change.Yes, I know the sober warning that’s issued whenever an extreme weather disaster occurs: No individual storm can be definitively blamed on climate change. It’s true, too. Some version of Harvey probably would have happened without climate change, and we’ll never know the hypothetical truth.
But it’s time to shed some of the fussy over-precision about the relationship between climate change and weather. James Hansen, the eminent climate researcher, has used the term “scientific reticence” to describe this problem. Out of an abundance of academic caution — a caution that is in many ways admirable — scientists (and journalists) have obscured climate change’s true effects.”
Comments are great. such as,
“Temperatures have been rising, and theory and computer modeling suggest an increase in storm intensity in a warmer world, “and the models generally show an increase in the number of very intense” storms.And while the science of attributing weather events to climate change is advancing, “studies of individual events will typically contain caveats,” the report stated.”
“The mind-boggling amount of rainfall during Harvey is a function of the storm sitting by the Gulf of Mexico and continuing to draw moisture directly from it. Because of the orientation of the storm, Dr. Shepherd said, “you’ve just got this stream of moisture firehosing into the Houston region,” as the moisture is constantly replenished by the gulf. “This could go down as the worst flood disaster in U.S. history.”Scientists are increasingly able to link some extreme weather events to climate change, but when it comes to hurricanes, many say there remain a number of unknowns. What is clear, though, is that rising global temperatures warm the oceans, which causes more water to evaporate into the atmosphere.”
David Lindsay Hamden, CT Comment to the NYT
I look forward to hearing from Heidi Cullen and her crew of other scientists at climatecentral.org.
They work to show actual linkages between major storm events and climate change, and share their findings with the press. There is a major linkage in this story. The higher than normal water temperature of the gulf contributed directly to the size of the downpour.
From the climatecentral.org website:
What We Do
Climate Central surveys and conducts scientific research on climate change and informs the public of key findings. Our scientists publish and our journalists report on climate science, energy, sea level rise, wildfires, drought, and related topics. Climate Central is not an advocacy organization. We do not lobby, and we do not support any specific legislation, policy or bill. Climate Central is a qualified 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.
Scientific and Journalistic Integrity — We report the scientific facts of climate change however they fall.
Importance of Informing the Public — Democracy calls for an informed public. We seek to reach the widest possible audience with the scientific facts to support a healthy public debate.
Effective Communication — An innovative mix of cutting-edge science and communication defines our approach, to reach and move important audiences.
Collaboration — We work in the lead in our specific field, and we contribute our talents and efforts as a partner with the community addressing climate change. . . . .