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July 15, 2006 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Much of the United States currently in a heat wave. First half of 2006 warmest on record in US - Global Warming fuels U.S. forest fires. Global Warming is not going away.
posted by stbalbach (104 comments total)

 
"The heat is on.. It's on the street."
posted by Balisong at 12:10 PM on July 15, 2006


Welcome to our own self created Hell.
posted by IronLizard at 12:26 PM on July 15, 2006


The temperature's rising -- it isn't surprising.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:34 PM on July 15, 2006


Yeah, tell me about it.

I guess the upside is that I really can't tell the difference after about 110.
posted by loquacious at 12:43 PM on July 15, 2006


I'd like to sup with my baby tonight
and play the pup with my baby tonight
I'd like to sup with my baby tonight
and play the pup with my baby tonight
but I ain't up to my baby tonight
cause it's too darn hot
It's too darn hot
It's too darn hot
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:48 PM on July 15, 2006


The disclosure of this weather is disgraceful. We're at war with nature, which wants to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that weather, and for a newspaper to publish it, does great harm to the United States of America.
posted by scottreynen at 12:55 PM on July 15, 2006 [6 favorites]


I thought forest fires caused global cooling - lowering the albedo of the earth etc?
posted by A189Nut at 12:56 PM on July 15, 2006


Not that I don't believe the news, but I just got back from an annual vacation to Mammoth Lakes, CA and saw more snow on the ground and lakes fuller than I have seen in the ten years I've been making the trip.

The difference was such that everyone in my party was equally surprised by it.

Just a weird personal observation, I'm not sure how it correlates to the current heat wave...
posted by numlok at 1:02 PM on July 15, 2006


We don't need to listen to nature. Nature needs to listen to us.
posted by magodesky at 1:03 PM on July 15, 2006


You say 'global warming' like it's a bad thing.

... he says from Las Vegas where the sun is so bright it actually hurts.
posted by mischief at 1:12 PM on July 15, 2006


numlok, that's because California's Sierra Nevada range had an insane amount of rain this past year. All the lakes and rivers are full right now, fortunately.
posted by Burritos Inc. at 1:12 PM on July 15, 2006


But I thought global warming was a hoax perpetrated by liberal conspiracists like Al Gore and Tom Brokaw.
posted by homunculus at 1:15 PM on July 15, 2006


homunculus, my first thought was "I blame Tom Brokaw." For being unbalanced in his reporting, of course.
posted by bob sarabia at 1:20 PM on July 15, 2006


The H is O for real now.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:30 PM on July 15, 2006


You know, I'm concerned about global warming too, but I'm also concerned about the idea that a few random news stories about heat waves and fires + OMG GLOBAL WARMING! = a good MeFi post.
posted by languagehat at 1:36 PM on July 15, 2006


Yeah, facts.. Who cares?
posted by c13 at 1:38 PM on July 15, 2006


There was an article in the LA Times this week suggesting that our current punishing heat wave will last until October. "You don't need an air conditioner," thedaniel said to himself a few weeks ago, "it's only this hot a couple weeks out of the year!" Dammit.
posted by thedaniel at 1:42 PM on July 15, 2006


Meanwhile, people posting to Metafilter are emitting 190kg of CO2 a year. We have to end this addiction!
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 1:46 PM on July 15, 2006


"you need an air conditioner now," the q said to himself a few weeks ago, "it's only friggin' june!"

*smiles frigidly*
posted by quonsar at 1:54 PM on July 15, 2006


Yeah we have global warming but we also have air conditioning, so it balances itself.
posted by geoff. at 1:56 PM on July 15, 2006


Accepting that driving my SUV less, or going carbon neutral isn't going to have a signifigant impact on this heatwave. In fact tangible results from a dramatic reduction the amount of carbon we put in the atmostphere will not mean the end of heatwaves, snowstorms, or hurricanes. It might them less intesnse. The heatwave is a weather problem, not a climate problem. So isn't it time the US at least tried a nationwide weather modification effort. Mexico, China, Russia, even Utah seem to have tried it. Is it time for a national weather modification policy.
posted by humanfont at 1:59 PM on July 15, 2006


Moscow had three storm warnings this week. Guess their weather-maiking machine broke down..
posted by c13 at 2:06 PM on July 15, 2006


I'm also concerned about the idea that a few random news stories about heat waves and fires + OMG GLOBAL WARMING! = a good MeFi post.

Getting frothed up over the current heat wave... yeah... that's almost as bad as when your typical wingnut observes a particularly intense cold snap or snowstorm and sneers "So much for global warming!"

But my understanding is that the fire conclusion is actually drawn from watching a decade or three of real data. I'm not sure they've looked at other possible influence like fire management practices and human incursions into the wilderness, but the model makes sense: earlier springs and later falls mean longer hot and dry seasons, leading to more ideal conditions for huge fires no matter what starts them.
posted by weston at 2:07 PM on July 15, 2006


I went up here to Northern Wisconsin, just south of Duluth, for a little peace and quiet. Well, it's a hundred degrees, and I'm going home tomorrow. Sometimes a lake just isn't enough.
posted by washburn at 2:08 PM on July 15, 2006


Is it time for a national weather modification policy.

Oh wow. And here I thought I was being sarcastic with the war on nature.
posted by scottreynen at 2:10 PM on July 15, 2006


There is no global warming.
posted by birdherder at 2:15 PM on July 15, 2006


This truth is much too inconvenient for me to deal with.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 2:23 PM on July 15, 2006


Yeah, as long as it's a dry heat, I'm not going to worry about it. Humidity curls my hair.
posted by horsewithnoname at 2:31 PM on July 15, 2006


You do not fight that bloodlust in any way by saying gee, maybe we'll come over to your side of the fence but not totally and try to forge some centrist coalition. What you do is stand up for your ideals, and tell the wolves to f*ck off. And if they don't like it - bring it on, motherf*cker.

There's absolutely a time to draw a line and not give an inch. But I think with the things you're talking about -- specifically gay marriage and abortion -- you're wrong and so is much of the left.

If there's a militant segment of the right that's ignorant of how gays live and how ironclad laws removing any control a woman has over her uterus could be a bad thing, I think there's an equally ignorant segment of the left that has no clue about where some of the people with traditional values are coming from and can't do anything other than make up stores and scream about how anyone who believes that sexuality has real consequences must be a lobotomized drooling moron.

And let me tell you, as a person who has been actively trying to recruit people away from the republicans -- because I think they are more corrupt and more ideologically bankrupt than the democrats at the moment -- that doesn't make the job easier. There are reasonable people right of center who'd move closer to a place where we can all just get along better if it weren't for this.

We could make reasonable laws that give more choice towards the beginning of a term of pregnancy, more responsibility and less choice towards the end -- because, let's face it, being just pro-choice or pro-life is silly, life and choice are both important things. We could make reasonable laws that give homosexual couples or *any* couples the legal tools they need to live their lives the way they choose and leave it to the straight folks to demean (or honor, if we can pull our act together) the term marriage.

But there's a lot of people for whom that's just unacceptable. It's not pure enough. It means trying to take into account feelings, traditions, and rights of people different than you are. And you know what? The wingnuts aren't the only people who balk at that sometimes.

(Though they sure seem better at parlaying it into an empowered political philosophy.)
posted by namespan at 2:39 PM on July 15, 2006 [2 favorites]


And then there are people who can't find the right window to post in. Perhaps they should just shut down the computer and go outside.
posted by namespan at 2:40 PM on July 15, 2006


All over things are worse than they used to be: ...a strong consensus is emerging among meteorologists there that global warming has permanently intensified the monsoon pattern on India's west-central coast, and that Bombay simply was not built for, and cannot handle, the kinds of rainfall events it can now expect routinely. ...

and i've heard that London's been warmer than Barcelona this summer.
posted by amberglow at 2:40 PM on July 15, 2006


Well, for all that I accept the consensus of the climatologists (I've got no choice, I'm not climatologist) that global warming is a real problem, noticing that its hot this year doesn't really have much to do with global warming. It might, but then again it might not. There are variations in systems, and it adds to the anti-science types ammo when we say "global warming" everytime something seems different. Again, I emphisize that a) I accept global warming, and b) I acknowledge that this summer could be an indicator of it.

What I'll be interested in is the whether this year's hurricane season is as bad as last year's.

numlock: as I mentioned earlier, I'm not a climatologist, but I read a paper which mentioned heavier snowfalls in the cool zones as one possible consequence of global warming. Actually, the paper suggested that past ice ages may have been triggered by global warming. The explanation offered to us laymen was that yes, the *average* temperature increased, but that causes more evaporation, and thus more snowfall in the cold zones, thus ice age.
posted by sotonohito at 2:51 PM on July 15, 2006


Feh. Only a balmy 100 in Denver.
posted by kozad at 3:01 PM on July 15, 2006


We're past the point of repair in so many ways beyond purported climate change.

Fuckitawl.
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:06 PM on July 15, 2006


The real issue is that we don't know what were messing with....

For all of human history, humans have manipulated and exploited environments and systems to their benefit... This has, until now, been generally on a small scale...

So... now we are changing the big picture... now we are messing with a system called earth.. How could we possibly know the implications of this....

This is what worries me... It's not going to be some dramatic super storm or a massive tidal wave.. It's going to be something we would have never imagined..

And the global response will only be... "Well, fuck"
posted by Raoul.Duke at 3:07 PM on July 15, 2006


I purpose a nationwide system of cooling misters.
Ah, misty™.
posted by bob sarabia at 3:41 PM on July 15, 2006


MetaFilter: It's Hot in the Summertime
posted by TetrisKid at 4:30 PM on July 15, 2006


It's getting hot in here. Let's take off all our clothes.
posted by wigu at 4:33 PM on July 15, 2006 [2 favorites]


For all of human history, humans have manipulated and exploited environments and systems to their benefit... This has, until now, been generally on a small scale...

Isn't this the intro to a Michael Bay movie?
posted by Mikey-San at 4:35 PM on July 15, 2006


It's going to take the obliteration of an entire city until people believe that Global Warming is real and I bet even then they will find a way to explain away the evidence as a random occurence.
posted by any major dude at 4:54 PM on July 15, 2006


It's going to take the obliteration of an entire city until people believe that Global Warming is real and I bet even then they will find a way to explain away the evidence as a random occurence.

New Orleans doesn't count?
posted by the_bone at 4:59 PM on July 15, 2006


My crazy friend kept having these graphic premonitions of his lush land in Oregon turning into a desert. Hurricanes are pretty bad but the idea of deserts overtaking temperate rainforests is way freakier to me.

We should plant trees and not let people cut down any more forests. (Remember Dune?) We'll need all the habitat we can get.
posted by salvia at 4:59 PM on July 15, 2006


We should plant trees and not let people cut down any more forests. (Remember Dune?) We'll need all the habitat we can get.

At least Arrakis had an eco-system that provided the fuel for interstellar travel- I don't think our own biosphere is going to be as kind...

That aside, after seeing people rate fresh cut lawns over survival, I suspect we'll have a hard time convincing people NOT to mow down all plant-life so they can make crappy wood salsa bowls to sell at IKEA.
posted by yeloson at 5:29 PM on July 15, 2006


Meanwhile, people posting to Metafilter are emitting 190kg of CO2 a year. We have to end this addiction!

I'm less concerned with the CO2 than with the methane emitted around this joint.
posted by mkhall at 5:40 PM on July 15, 2006


Actually, the paper suggested that past ice ages may have been triggered by global warming.

If only dinosaurs had driven hybrid vehicles.
posted by pokermonk at 6:12 PM on July 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's going to take the obliteration of an entire city until people believe that Global Warming is real and I bet even then they will find a way to explain away the evidence as a random occurence.
posted by any major dude at 4:54 PM PST on July 15

New Orleans doesn't count?
posted by the_bone at 4:59 PM PST on July 15


Broken sarcasm meter on aisle 4!
posted by Marla Singer at 6:22 PM on July 15, 2006


At least Arrakis had an eco-system that provided the fuel for interstellar travel- I don't think our own biosphere is going to be as kind...

Err, this thread is already a trainwreck, so I'll just point out that it wasn't 'fuel,' the spice granted the guild navigators prescience, which they used to perform hyperspace jumps that would have been impossible w/o clairvoyance. Neat idea imo.

Not a Dune geek, I was just reading some of the history on Wikipedia the other day. The Middle-Earth stuff is better.
posted by spiderwire at 6:39 PM on July 15, 2006


A heat wave does not Global Warming make. The worst heat wave ever in the US happened in... 1936.

Remember that every heat wave that's pointed to by environmentalists (or the environmentally conscious) as evidence of global warming is harming the cause.

Doing something as foolish as pointing at weather and calling it climate just leaves it open for people to point at the next cold snap and say "global warming is bollocks."
posted by chimaera at 7:19 PM on July 15, 2006


First half of 2006 warmest in US recorded history.
posted by stbalbach at 7:22 PM on July 15, 2006


I'm also concerned about the idea that a few random news stories about heat waves and fires + OMG GLOBAL WARMING! = a good MeFi post. - languagehat

my personal MeFi Newman.
posted by stbalbach at 7:22 PM on July 15, 2006


It's a cool 85° here at ~10:40 pm. No problem except for the humidity. This afternoon was far worse- 92° and soaking wet. With the heat index it must have been more like 100°. I remember being in Las Vegas when it was 110°, and while it was oppressively hot, it was more easily tolerated than the weather right here, right now.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:42 PM on July 15, 2006


Now, if we can only get the winters to warm up a bit, we'll be all set.
posted by sluglicker at 8:06 PM on July 15, 2006


Who needs the weather channel when you have MetaFilter?

"Quick, everyone! What's the weather like outside right now? GO!"

"Kinda hot -- "

"Global warming!!"

[flamewar ensues]

...See? Way better.
posted by spiderwire at 8:07 PM on July 15, 2006


I haven't felt less than 90 outside in, oh, three months?

8:15pm and it's still over 100.

Send ice, please. A glacier would be real nice. I'll settle for a couple 5 pound blocks.
posted by loquacious at 8:15 PM on July 15, 2006


Heat miser luvin it

"I'm too much!" (wav)
Dodo, do, do.
DooOoo.
posted by HyperBlue at 8:18 PM on July 15, 2006


In the past several weeks we've had not one but TWO tornadoes in southern New Hampshire, disasterous floods, seemingly daily thunderstorms or warnings, and golf ball sized hail (as an aside, the damage such a hail storm can do to a lot full of brand new Saabs is impressive).

Now I'm not saying this is global warming. But it's pretty f--king abnormal.
posted by Toecutter at 8:40 PM on July 15, 2006


Yeah, facts.. Who cares?

Since you're apparently the keeper of "facts," please point me to one scientific fact that proves the current U.S. temperatures are related to global warning. They might be, or they might not be, but there's no way in hell that anyone can say for sure in real time. This same logic would allow someone to point to an unusual cold snap as evidence of a coming ice age. Looking at individual days, weeks, or even months tells you nothing, since extreme temperature variations have and always will occur within those time frames.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:43 PM on July 15, 2006


and when rain falls through the sunshine ... well, that means the devil is beating his wife.
posted by foot at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2006


What if the entire solar system is warming? Ice caps on Mars and the Venus south pole anomoly point to a bigger picture.
posted by hortense at 9:01 PM on July 15, 2006


It's going to be over 30C all next week here in Northeast Ohio. Reminds me of "Precious" by The Pretenders!
posted by vkxmai at 9:03 PM on July 15, 2006


HyperBlue : >

(now get Rudolph and Mrs. Claus, and fly up to Mother Nature to get him to quit it, willya?)
posted by amberglow at 9:13 PM on July 15, 2006


Hortense -

It just means we should have ratified Kyoto. The effects of our non-compliance are far reaching indeed.

Seriiously, I saw that also, that the Mars polar icecap was retreating abnormally. That makes me think that the Sun's a tad warmer than it was.

Admittedly, Ol' Sol is a VERY stable star compared to some - but it fluctuates. (See Medieval Climate Optimum and the Little Ice Age. There's also been times we've been nearly frozen over, and pretty much no polar ice.

Things change. On an astronomical time scale, we haven't seen a blink's worth of the Sun's life. Hard to call it one way or the other.
posted by JB71 at 9:22 PM on July 15, 2006


hortense - any more info on that?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:29 PM on July 15, 2006


Florida feels about the same. 'Course, we only ever have two temperatures anyway: Hot and Really Hot.
posted by cmyk at 9:55 PM on July 15, 2006


The worst heat wave ever in the US happened in... 1936.

The summer of '36 was insanely hot east of the Rockies, and it marked the end of the worst part of the Dust Bowl. Luckily, we're not seeing Dust Bowl conditions. My grandmother tells tales of having to sweep the red clay dust off the front porch every morning. She was in southeastern Oklahoma, about 250 miles away from the edge of the dust storms.
posted by dw at 10:32 PM on July 15, 2006


OBTW, 73F in Seattle today. 75F tomorrow.
posted by dw at 10:33 PM on July 15, 2006


One of the fundamental predictions by our current climate models is that, as energy is added to the atmosphere (read: heat), it will become more turbulent and active. Essentially, that means temperatures will get more extreme... the hots get hotter, and the colds get colder. The overall average will steadily climb, but the first and strongest reaction is that the existing weather patterns mostly continue, but more intensely.

So if it's bitterly cold this winter... that's a positive sign of global warming, not a negative one.
posted by Malor at 10:43 PM on July 15, 2006


hortense - any more info on that?
no, pure speculative presumtion on my part.
posted by hortense at 10:44 PM on July 15, 2006


So glad I moved out of the San Fernando Valley, they get 103 tomorrow. Here on the Central Coast, 78 in San Luis Obispo, 70 in Pismo Beach. No, I don't have room for any of you.
posted by wendell at 12:12 AM on July 16, 2006


Oh, and the irony of the current situation is that many people who couldn't understand the complexities of climate change are going to react to this hot summer, which, by itself, is NOT any real proof of Global Warming, and start believing in it.

Maybe God really is on Gore's side.
posted by wendell at 12:16 AM on July 16, 2006


I find it curious that a sizeable number of people on MeFi think global warming is open for debate.
posted by stbalbach at 5:42 AM on July 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Here it is, from NASA.
Mars Global Surveyor: Mars For Press

New gullies that did not exist in mid-2002 have appeared on a Martian sand dune.

That's just one of the surprising discoveries that have resulted from the extended life of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, which this month began its ninth year in orbit around Mars. Boulders tumbling down a Martian slope left tracks that weren't there two years ago. New impact craters formed since the 1970s suggest changes to age-estimating models. And for three Mars summers in a row, deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near Mars' south pole have shrunk from the previous year's size, suggesting a climate change in progress.
As I said, Ol' Sol's pretty stable - but 'stable' in a star doesn't mean nothing ever changes...
posted by JB71 at 6:12 AM on July 16, 2006


my personal MeFi Newman.

Care to explain what you mean by that? Because I don't have the faintest idea, and I used to watch Seinfeld, though not religiously.

I find it curious that a sizeable number of people on MeFi think global warming is open for debate.

1) I find it curious that you find that curious; surely you've noticed by now that everything gets debated here. If you're looking for an amen corner, you've come to the wrong place.

2) I sure hope you're not including me among those people, because I completely agree that global warming is a clear and present danger. I just think this is a crappy post. It's pure propaganda: scrape together a few random news stories so you can once again bring the issue to the front page of MeFi and everyone can hold hands and sing the good old hymns like "Global Warming, O My God!" And then you get bent out of shape because a few people aren't joining in the chorus. Seriously, that's not what MeFi is for. I'm sure you think you're doing your part to Fight the Power by making this post, but you're just contributing to the banal predictability of the MeFi front page.
posted by languagehat at 6:33 AM on July 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well Sister State-the-Obvious, what do you think?

"Wowie zowie! Hot enough for ya? I'm a redhead!"
posted by ZachsMind at 6:47 AM on July 16, 2006


"New Orleans doesn't count?"

New Orleans wasn't due to global warming. It was due to global wetness! Dihydrogen Monoxide has had a stranglehold on our planet for a very long time yet no one dares do anything about it! When will congress pass laws against global wetness!?
posted by ZachsMind at 6:50 AM on July 16, 2006


Man, the pipes here are just running with that dihydrogen monoxide stuff. It's even in the toilets and sewers. It's so bad, it's even condensing on the cooling coils of air conditioners.

I think we're doomed. It's too late to stop it.
posted by JB71 at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2006


it's even in my coffee.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:04 AM on July 16, 2006


Well your wrong languagehat, the posts are all related as part of a theme: direct consequences of global warming happening now today in the USA. Not some future problem, not a global problem, but a problem right now in the United States. These are not random stories and they have obviously struck a chord with a lot of people here on both sides of the issue. I really think you just have a bad attitude is the problem I don't see other people complaining. This is consistent with your behavior in the past which is why I made the Newman joke, you often get very negative and bash peoples posts which honestly doesn't contribute much to the substance or quality to MeFi. If you find MeFi banal perhaps you should take a break?
posted by stbalbach at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2006


What languagehat said.

Weather != Climate, and it does no service to your point to even hint at an equivalency, stbalbach.

So long as you're making lazy points with poor support and categorical mismatches among your premises, there will be a debate, and until you can grasp how a heat wave provides absolutely NO evidence for or against global warming/climate change, you're always going to be surprised about it.
posted by chimaera at 10:04 AM on July 16, 2006


It's getting hot in here. Let's take off all our clothes.

My two-year old daughter was running around the backyard buck naked in yesterday's heat, and then my six year old ran out back naked. They know something I don't.
posted by mecran01 at 10:57 AM on July 16, 2006


Ignore the environment, it will go away.
posted by Vindaloo at 11:30 AM on July 16, 2006


It is hot today, therefore, it is the end of the world. Unless we all ride bikes from now on. D:

This is not to say that we aren't having an effect on the environment, or that there is not Global Warming™, but that, as stated above by others, a heatwave or two does not a correlation make.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:39 AM on July 16, 2006


I'm not denying global warming. I know it's real. I also know it's inevitable. I like to imagine dinosaurs had similar arguments with one another just before they all became extinct.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:04 PM on July 16, 2006


chimaera, climate is the statistical probability that a certain type of weather will occur. You will note the second link that shows this is the warmest year on record (which follows the other 8 hottest years on record in the past 10 years or so). Do you think there is no connection between the current heat wave, this being the warmest year on record, and climate change? Sure weather doesn't equal climate, but it's more than valid to look at weather and say it's more probable due to climate change. People who ignore weather as a barometer of climate change are ignoring the big picture.
posted by stbalbach at 2:29 PM on July 16, 2006


Sure weather doesn't equal climate, but it's more than valid to look at weather and say it's more probable due to climate change.

The trouble with that is that we don't know very much about climate change. See how we used to call it global warming? Well, it turns out it can go both ways; Europe may experience dramatic cooling due to changing ocean currents. So although in theory you are right (that certain weather may indeed be more probable given a climate moving in a certain direction), we just don't have anywhere near the knowledge to predict the exact effects.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:28 PM on July 16, 2006


That's exactly my point, stbalbach.

Aberrant weather may be more statistically likely due to climate change, and the fact that, as an aggregate, the years have been progressively warmer is worth investigation and concern.

But your post draws a line between the heat wave and global warming -- a tenuous line at best, considering that climate is inherently statistical, and inherently long-term statistical, and it's that connection which contaminates the general point, which is valid, but that contamination opens the door to this exact debate.

And hoverboards' point is worth noting as well: more and more climatologists are moving away from the term "global warming" and are moving toward the more accurate term "climate change." Climatology is a science in its infancy, if only for the lack of a predominant predictive paradigm, and it really is just too soon to tell exactly what is going to happen. A change is coming, and human agency has at the very least made a contribution to the speed of that change, but just what guise it will take is unpredictable with our current understanding.
posted by chimaera at 3:57 PM on July 16, 2006


we don't know very much about climate change

we don't? We can predict the climate on other planets simply by knowing what the chemical make-up of the atmosphere is. What makes you think we can't do the same for earth, where we tons more data points to look at? In the big picture we know what will happen as CO2 increases, we've seen it in the past geological records. How it will "exactly" play out we don't know, but does it really matter? We know we will have heat waves, droughts, storms etc.. it's simply not science to say with certainty what will happen and people who say that science should be certain are putting up a straw man argument, that's not how science works.

Climatology is a science in its infancy

No, it's not. I just read Spencer Wert's "The Discovery of Global Warming" a lengthy and detailed history of climate science. The only thing in its infancy is public knowledge and incorrect perceptions.
posted by stbalbach at 5:20 PM on July 16, 2006


Given global warming as a fact. Given the resistance to change as a fact - that is - no adaptations of energy policy to reign in harm on the climate. What, on a personal level, can be done to survive it well?
Obviously money is good for everything, and air conditioning, but I'm thinking longer term, say through 4 generations. Would moving north help? Moving closer to a food source? What sort of systems could be set up to deal with the climate change - that is - logistics systems? (Given of course the breakdown in fossil fuel driven logistics). Or is the average joe more or less consigned to sit there and bite the dust no matter how early the adaption?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:31 PM on July 16, 2006


Smedleyman, all of that is very iffy. North might not be so good if there's a rebound ice age. Away from coastlines is good from both the sea level rise and storm angle, but you gotta watch for tornadoes. Looking at all the ways it could break there aren't many safe refuges. The southwestern desert might be OK from storms but becoming a lot more deserty, which could be bad if you're trying to eat. Existing food sources are likely to be disrupted or move. Etc.
posted by localroger at 5:56 PM on July 16, 2006


I think we're speaking from slightly differing definitions of science, here. I subscribe to the Thomas Kuhn school of philosophy, where the hallmark of a science is a dominant paradigm, and flaws eventually bring the discipline into crisis, resolved by the imposition of a new paradigm.

Climatology is a science, but in the way that I am speaking, it absolutely is an early science, undoubtedly a science far earlier in its development than physics or chemistry.

Beyond the most basic premises of climatology, the models become increasingly divergent. Until a climatologist can predict, within a very small room for error, the precise result of the introduction of X million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, there is clearly no single paradigm, merely triangulation via models. An aerospace engineer can tell you the lift of a wing, or the trajectory of a projectile. A climatologist can guess -- perhaps a warming of several degrees will result in the total melting of polar ice for a long term, perhaps it will boomerang into an ice age. Both scenarios are predicted by different plausible, well-developed models. And the fact that both are plausible is exactly what I am speaking of when I say climatology is a science in its infancy. I didn't call it non-science (like mathematic), I didn't even call it a protoscience (like psychology), but it is certainly not a fully mature, predictive science.

Yes, climatology is orders of magnitude more complicated as they are dealing with large and statistical models, but I stand by my assertion, with the above clarifications of my meaning.
posted by chimaera at 6:15 PM on July 16, 2006


If I may beg the forgiveness of those who have studied this far more than I have - do the models take into account a variable input from the sun, or do they assume that there is no appreciable variation from a particular value for solar influx?

I mean, I can look at data from Mars, where the Martian Orbiter's been observing the ice caps and seeing significantly more 'melting' during the summer NOW as opposed to 2001. That makes me think that the Sun's a tad warmer - and what would that do to a predictive model that postulates NO change in the radiant heating from the Sun? And DO those models have the ability to tweak that value as a variable?

If we ARE getting more heat from the sun, then perhaps all we could do to reduce emmissions wouldn't have any effect on global warming. If we AREN'T getting more heat, then I'm puzzled about why the Martian ice caps are acting like there's more energy going into the system than it's been used to.

It's a puzzle, and I've been noticing that the main (in fact, darn near the only) emphasis is on MAN as being the source of global warming. (Or rather, being the one variable in an equation where there's a whole lot of sources, and not that much to be done about any of them...) And I'll accept that as a hypothesis, but the datum of Martian global warming tends to shake it severely, to a point where I'm not willing to give it as much credit as some do.
posted by JB71 at 7:23 PM on July 16, 2006


I simply do not see how we can survive this. We have radically increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere so far beyond what has ever existed in the last million years or so that even stopping all CO2 emissions completely might not make a dent in the problem at this point. The temperature increase is almost certainly going to go non-linear. How fast and how soon is anyone's guess, but it stands to reason that temperatures are going to follow CO2 changes as they always have. And the change in CO2 levels is definitely not linear. Mankind has never been around with such high levels of CO2. My guess is that we're not going to be around much longer. I guess that's sad. But everything dies. Even man.
posted by muppetboy at 7:30 PM on July 16, 2006


chimaera, I'm not sure you understand the nature of climate science, it's not like physics or chemistry with precise predictions. It's more like "there is a %99 chance it will be warmer July 15th than December 15th by more than 10 degrees". It's all probabilities, of course you will have divergent models, but the models don't diverge like you say they do (well, maybe 20 years ago they did). I can't go into here but I recommend you pick up any number of books of global warming that have come out in the past year or two if you want to learn more.

JB71, the sun is a forcing, but the amount of temp change is so great in such a short period of time that the only explanation is man. We know how much CO2 man puts into the atmosphere, it's a known quantity. We know what effect that CO2 has on temps. The two match up perfectly in real-world observations over time.

muppetboy, I can think of no parallel in the history of humanity except 60,000 years ago when humans were almost wiped out and left Africa due to a climate shift.
posted by stbalbach at 8:42 PM on July 16, 2006


stbalbach -

As I said, I would be inclined to agree, but this bit raises a severe doubt in my mind.
Mars Global Surveyor: Mars For Press

---
And for three Mars summers in a row, deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near Mars' south pole have shrunk from the previous year's size, suggesting a climate change in progress.
---
A Martian year's about twice ours, so that's over a six year period - about half of a sunspot cycle. And apparently there's a lot of different cycles to consider. (Interesting article on Solar variation at Wikipedia - hadn't thought there was so much to the subject until I looked at that...)

There's a small chart up at the top showing mean solar irradiance compared to the solar flare index and the number of sunspots. Two well-formed cycles, then the third's pretty ragged. Looks like solar irradiance is up on average, though it's a bit tough to tell. A widening of a peak, even if the peaks are a bit lower - seems to me you'd be getting more heat into the system.

I might well be wrong here, but it would seem to me that if WE are heating up, and MARS is apparently heating up at the same time, then the one common source of heat and light could be a cause. (Our global crapspew may very well be contributing, but this makes me think it's not JUST man that's the problem.) And it's a cause we have no control of.

Muppetboy:

We have people/cultures adapted, aclimated and able to survive and thrive in every climate from the Arctic circle to rain forests to full desert. Mankind's a pretty adaptable beast. I wouldn't count us out just yet.
posted by JB71 at 9:19 PM on July 16, 2006


stbalbach: any climate shift in the past million years is going to be a tea party compared to what we're about to experience. that is unless the relationship between CO2 and climate changes for the first time ever.

JB71: that is a specious argument. man has not been around long enough to prove he can survive. we're a newcomer. newcomers often flame out. geologic history is littered with species that never made it. given that we're still arguing about whether the oncoming headlights are a train or not, we're obviously going to be next.

"Today's rise is about 200 times faster than any rise recorded" in the samples, study author Thomas Stocker said in an e-mail interview with Reuters. Stocker continues, "We find that CO2 is about 30% higher than at any time, and methane 130% higher than at any time; and the rates of increase are absolutely exceptional: for CO2, 200 times faster than at any time in the last 650,000 years." This is astonishing.

The problem is too big and the political will is far, far too weak.
posted by muppetboy at 9:32 PM on July 16, 2006


I mean, if this chart doesn't raise your eyebrows, there's really no point in talking further.
posted by muppetboy at 9:41 PM on July 16, 2006


"I guess that's sad. But everything dies. Even man." - posted by muppetboy

You have no idea how much that concept just pisses me the fuck off. No offense at all to muppetboy, it's the idea that angers me. All the bullshit people have put up with throughout recorded history and everything we've struggled for and created and concieved just goes? I'd go some pretty damned great lengths to prevent that from happening. This might be a major setback for certain forms of life on earth, but wisdom comes from foresight and good decisions, good decisions come from experiance, experiance comes from bad decisions.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:45 PM on July 16, 2006


"All the bullshit people have put up with throughout recorded history and everything we've struggled for and created and concieved just goes? I'd go some pretty damned great lengths to prevent that from happening."

The root trouble mankind faces is everything that has been said in this forum and particularly what you just said. You said "*I'd* go to some pretty damned..." The whole concept of "*We'd* go to some pretty damned..." simply does not exist. Humanity has tremendous power, a relatively short lifespan, self-consciousness and remarkably little capacity for cooperation or group action when the chips are down (as they are now).

The idea that mankind is going to die as we all do as individuals is pretty horrible and repulsive. But it's hard to imagine with any honesty how our particular set of strengths and flaws is going to last the next couple decades, let alone the next million years. The only hope I can see is that when something tragic enough happens that we finally realize COLLECTIVELY that yes we are going to die as a species some day, we might finally turn the corner and grow up. Seems to happen at mid-life in individuals. We can only hope that it happens about NOW in our civilization.
posted by muppetboy at 10:10 PM on July 16, 2006


"I guess that's sad. But everything dies. Even man." - posted by muppetboy

The main thing I'd change about that statement is the "I guess" part. That's just defensiveness. It's /terribly/ sad. Something none of us wants to consider. I guess it's just easier to pretend to be blase about it.
posted by muppetboy at 10:12 PM on July 16, 2006


I find it curious that a sizeable number of people on MeFi think global warming is open for debate.

Oh, they'll be willing to admit it exists if you can convince them that they won't have to pay to fix it. They don't have any problem with the existence of much stranger things -- quarks, dark matter, etc. -- but no one is asking them to pay for the eradication of quarks. That's the only real debate about global warming -- who's going to pay for it. If it's going to cost the "doubters" any money, they would like to delay all decisions until sometime after they're dead (or at least out of office).
posted by pracowity at 12:49 AM on July 17, 2006


Cheer up, muppetboy, it's not that bleak. Even the least conservative warming scenarios predict disaster for a mere couple of billion people. Even if our cities sink and our food chain snaps and our water dries up to the point where there are only a couple of million human beings left, well, that's still enough to start again.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:59 AM on July 17, 2006


“The only hope I can see is that when something tragic enough happens that we finally realize COLLECTIVELY that yes we are going to die as a species some day, we might finally turn the corner and grow up.”

Good point. But altruistic visionaries have gotten a lot done over the past centuries. Personally I’ve never wanted to grasp the sword (as much of a chain to me to be a master as servant) but I can’t be the only guy out there with that attitude. So I don’t know that it takes everyone to realize it.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:18 AM on July 17, 2006


It's hotter 'n' hell in Austin today!
posted by spiderwire at 11:05 AM on July 17, 2006


NY too, spider. The whole country is in the 90s or above, except for the pacific northwest i think. We broke 100 earlier today, which we usually never do until August.


Britain set to sizzle in hottest temperatures ever--... Temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius are expected in southeast England and forecasters at Britain's Meteorological Office say one or two areas could experience 39 C (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
...
"This is a sign of things to come, with the current temperatures becoming a normal event by the middle of this century."
...
The average maximum temperature for July is 23 C.

posted by amberglow at 1:24 PM on July 17, 2006


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