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NOAA or Noah?
May 3, 2006 7:03 PM   Subscribe

A NOAA report says Earth's surface and atmosphere are both warming, and that earlier work that found otherwise contains flaws. In other news, global warming has started to weaken an important wind circulation pattern over the Pacific Ocean, a study suggests. The change could alter climate and the marine food chain in that area; polar bears and walrus pups sad.
posted by kliuless (25 comments total)

Those that have been paying close attention to the science of anthropogenic climate change have noticed that essentially all of the substantive criticisms from the mid-90s and before have been effectively dealt with, in particular the satellite data anomalies.

Basically, except for dreadful contrarians (funded exclusively by big oil), there are no reputable climate scientists that are 'anti-ACC' left.

The 4th IPCC Report is due out in 2007. It will once more confirm that we're all screwed.
posted by wilful at 7:09 PM on May 3, 2006

I initially read that as "polar bears and walrus pups said." Like a reporter had gotten comments from them.

The evidence continues to support a substantial human impact on global temperature increases. This should constitute a valuable source of information to policymakers.

Yeah... sure it will.
posted by brundlefly at 7:12 PM on May 3, 2006

Problem with saying "we're screwed," is that then people say, "oh well, guess there's nothing I can do." So: we're screwed, but not as screwed as we will be if we don't do something.

But what? I'm speaking as someone who's making a career in environmental stuff and still feels totally powerless to affect this.
posted by salvia at 7:15 PM on May 3, 2006

I'm still unconvinced that humans are responsible for global climate change. With the short period of time for which we have records, I think it is too early to draw conclusions on the causes of the slow rise in temperature. Earth has had major climate changes that had nothing to do with humans before, and is bound to have them again.
posted by Roger Dodger at 7:20 PM on May 3, 2006

What I've seen of formal evidence for global warming has been convincing, but I do worry that its becoming conventional wisdom, so that anything that might be caused by global warming is assumed (in the media at least) to have been.

I recall being struck by reading once that scientists expect the global temperature to rise by around 5 degrees F over the next century. I don't doubt that that's enough to melt lots of the polar ice (especially since the temperature rise near the poles is expected to be larger), but I wonder if the anecdotal stories we keep hearing about huge chunks of the ice caps calving off, species migrations, etc. are examples of projection. There's thousands of phenomenon that could concievably suggest the presence or absence of warming; if the media just selectively write about 50 that indicate warming every year, the impression they give many not be a good reflection of the overall observations scientists are making.

Global warming is happening, but that doesn't mean that every unusual climactic event is caused by it. There's a lot of statistical noise out there.
posted by gsteff at 7:29 PM on May 3, 2006

I'm still unconvinced...

That's nice Roger. Essentially all of the experts are however convinced. Now I don't know your qualifications, but I do know that tens of thousands of years worth of experience from climatologists indicates that they are as certain as scientific uncertainty reasonably allows them to be.

One question the contrarians don't answer is, so, if all this extra carbon dioxide is in the air and it's a known heat trapper, where's the heat actually going if not into the climate?
posted by wilful at 7:33 PM on May 3, 2006

The woes of Kilimanjaro: The fabled glaciers on Tanzania's majestic mountain will soon be gone.
posted by homunculus at 7:33 PM on May 3, 2006

The problem with "only" a few degree temperature change is that it throws off all kinds of delicately balanced systems. Others can probably provide better links to effects on ocean life (which I understand are substantial), but there's also the carbon sink/source evidence for rainforests.
posted by dreamsign at 7:37 PM on May 3, 2006

"It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is."
posted by homunculus at 7:53 PM on May 3, 2006

I don't need to know the facts about global warming. Truthiness suggests that climate changes all the time. I feel it in my gut.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:54 PM on May 3, 2006

altho some pollution apparently has helped cool the earth/dim the sun by increasing clouds' albedo...
posted by kliuless at 8:03 PM on May 3, 2006

Roger Dodger, you know which scientists believe humans are the cause of global warming?

"[A]ll major scientific bodies in the United States whose members' expertise bears directly on the matter..." -- Washington Post, 2004
posted by salvia at 8:11 PM on May 3, 2006

How to Talk to a Global Warming Sceptic - a point by point answer to just about every global climate skeptic position (including Rogers above).
posted by stbalbach at 8:14 PM on May 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

We've already seen the nutjob reaction: global warming goes straight from "it's not happening" to "of course it's happening, and there's nothing we can do about it, so why try".

Now that the "it's not happening" response looks totally idiotic, environmental advocates need to find ways to counter the "of course it's happening, and there's nothing we can do about it, so why try" response.
posted by jellicle at 8:16 PM on May 3, 2006

'roof of the world' sad too, hum...
posted by kliuless at 8:21 PM on May 3, 2006

Arctic ice free by 2070. Huh. Wow.
posted by salvia at 9:06 PM on May 3, 2006

Thanks to a popsci book from the 70's, The Cooling, we now have to listen to critics of climate change argue that climate science is wrong because 30 years ago "scientists" thought that a new Ice Age was imminent. That arguemt gets tiring very fast.
posted by Meridian at 10:18 PM on May 3, 2006

now there's a hole in the sky
and the ground's not cold
and if the ground's not cold
everything is gonna burn
we'll all take turns
i'll get mine, too

We monkeys are going to heaven--or at least going to rot at an accelerated pace as our temperate climes become ripe for microbes. Or perhaps well preserved as as our desiccated remains dehydrate on our newly acquired midwest desert. Who can tell?
posted by sourwookie at 12:09 AM on May 4, 2006

It's not the sea rise due to ice melt that will be gnarly, because moving out of coastal cities gradually isn't that hard. But when Siberia becomes a fetid, bubbling swamp of melted permafrost outgassing methane by the megaton, anyone lacking functioning gills and an ocean residence won't be respiring...
posted by paulsc at 12:22 AM on May 4, 2006

If global warming is real, then how come there's no mention of it in the Bible?

posted by kcds at 4:38 AM on May 4, 2006

Don't attack me becase I'm unconvinced. I don't believe we should pollute the environment. I don't believe industry should be able to dump whatever they want into the water and the air. I walk to work. We own a hybrid vehicle. The regular car gets driven less than 50 miles a month. I love camping and enjoying the outdoors, leaving no messes behind and living a low-impact life in general. I'm not part of your perceived problem. Throughout history, there have been plenty of scientific theories and models that have been accepted as fact that have later been proven to be false. Of the evidence I've read considering the theory of global warming, most of it has been empirical observation of weather data for a period of time too short when considered against the much longer cycles of earth's climate changes. Very little of what I have read has used experimentation and reproducible results. If you have any good examples of such studies, please point them out to me. But don't attack me because I'm unconvinced.

stbalbach, good link. I'm reading up on the NOAA method of measuring historical temperatures using borehole data. Looks pretty interesting.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:55 AM on May 4, 2006

Here's a few links from the other side. A response to Oreske's report cited by salvia above: Censoring debate on global warming and two articles by Richard Lindzen, professor of Meteorology at MIT: Global Warming: The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus and Climate of Fear
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:12 AM on May 4, 2006

Is Rush Limbaugh still stridently insisting there is no global warming, or has he conceded that there is, but liberals are to blame?
posted by pax digita at 5:34 AM on May 4, 2006

Just last week, Science posted a technical correct to a October 2004 paper, Reconstructing Past Climate From Noisy Data, that's been citied as one of the leading arguments against the evidence of Global Warming.

The comment is short enough to quote here.
von Storch et al. (Reports, 22 October 2004, p. 679) criticized the ability of the "hockey stick" climate field reconstruction method to yield realistic estimates of past variation in Northern Hemisphere temperature. However, their conclusion was based on incorrect implementation of the reconstruction procedure. Calibration was performed using detrended data, thus artificially removing a large fraction of the physical response to radiative forcing.
In short, the paper was wrong. When the data is run through thier methodology correctly, and with correct model initialization, the models stand up very well.

This was a paper cited by the New York Time, Fox News, and the US Senate as why we didn't need to join global climate accords, why we didn't need to control carbon emission, etc.

And it is bunk. Complete and utter bunk. The climate modles we have are matching historical data well, and are clearly show the future to be very warm indeed. More here.
posted by eriko at 8:15 AM on May 4, 2006

Roger Dodger: Throughout history, there have been plenty of scientific theories and models that have been accepted as fact that have later been proven to be false. Of the evidence I've read considering the theory of global warming, most of it has been empirical observation of weather data for a period of time too short when considered against the much longer cycles of earth's climate changes.

Thanks for clarifying. Here's a close-up look at the history of climate change science. It's fascinating stuff. In 1896, for example:

It had occurred to Högbom to calculate the amounts of CO2 emitted by factories and other industrial sources. Surprisingly, he found that human activities were adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a rate roughly comparable to the natural geochemical processes that emitted or absorbed the gas. The added gas was not much compared with the volume of CO2 already in the atmosphere — the CO2 released from the burning of coal in the year 1896 would raise the level by scarcely a thousandth part. But the additions might matter if they continued long enough.(2) (By recent calculations, the total amount of carbon laid up in coal and other fossil deposits that humanity can readily get at and burn is some ten times greater than the total amount in the atmosphere.) So the next CO2 change might not be a cooling decrease, but an increase. Arrhenius made a calculation for doubling the CO2 in the atmosphere, and estimated it would raise the Earth's temperature some 5-6°C.(3)

Arrhenius did not see that as a problem. He figured that if industry continued to burn fuel at the current (1896) rate, it would take perhaps three thousand years for the CO2 level to rise so high. Högbom doubted it would ever rise that much. One thing holding back the rise was the oceans. According to a simple calculation, sea water would absorb 5/6ths of any additional gas. (That is roughly true over a long run of many thousand years, but Högbom and Arrhenius did not realize that if the gas were emitted more rapidly than they expected, the ocean absorption could lag behind.) Anyway, temperatures a few degrees higher hardly sounded like a bad idea in chilly Sweden.

posted by russilwvong at 10:40 AM on May 4, 2006

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