Arctic icemelt unambiguous evidence
December 18, 2008 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Arctic Melt update: Scientists now have unambiguous evidence that the theorized phenomenon known as "polar amplification" has in fact been occurring for the past 5 years. It was not expected to be seen for at least another 10 or 15 years. "We're in a vicious positive feedback loop."

Has the Arctic melt passed the point of no return?
Although researchers have documented a catastrophic loss of sea ice during the summer months over the past 20 years, they have not until now detected the definitive temperature signal that they could link with greenhouse-gas emissions.

However, scientists [now] show that Arctic amplification has been under way for the past five years, and it will continue to intensify Arctic warming for the foreseeable future. Computer models of the global climate have for years suggested the Arctic will warm at a faster rate than the rest of the world due to Arctic amplification but many scientists believed this effect would only become measurable in the coming decades.

However, a study by scientists from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Colorado has found that amplification is already showing up as a marked increase in surface air temperatures within the Arctic region during the autumn period, when the sea ice begins to reform after the summer melting period.
See also: A Cooler Year on a Warming Planet
posted by stbalbach (87 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yep, we're still fucked...
posted by ZaneJ. at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2008


"Exactly how this is going to play out, we really don't know yet. Our research is in its infancy."

Let's all hope there are no feet popping out of its brains.
posted by psylosyren at 11:08 AM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


What an awful wikipedia link.

In fact, do any of these articles actually explain what Arctic amplification is? It seems like none of them actually know and are just throwing around a bunch of half-cocked science.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2008


In fact, do any of these articles actually explain what Arctic amplification is?

I understood "arctic amplification" to mean an accelerated melting of arctic ice, based on reading the first link. I don't understand your confusion.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think Arctic Amplification is the soundsystem of the gods. You see, the Aurora Borealis is actually the light show for the most amazing Floyd concert ever, and it lasts for hours. The gods be trippin'.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:16 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously. The first three sentences of the first link are:
Scientists say they now have unambiguous evidence that the warming in the Arctic is accelerating.

Computer models have long predicted that decreasing sea ice should amplify temperature changes in the northern polar region.

Julienne Stroeve, from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union that this process was under way.


Not unclear and not "half-cocked".
posted by hydropsyche at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty simple; ice reflects the entire visible electromagnetic spectrum; water just reflects the blue parts. Thus, when ice melts, more radiation is absorbed, which causes more ice to melt.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Or, you could say:
YO DAWG I PUT SOME HEAT IN YOUR HEAT SO YOU CAN MELT WHILE YOU MELT.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:18 AM on December 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter: throwing around a bunch of half-cocked science.

In other news, scientists have issued a list of those who are gonna die. The list simply says "all".
posted by DU at 11:23 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
posted by The Straightener at 11:24 AM on December 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Has the Arctic melt passed the point of no return?

Ummm, even if all ice on the planet melted, turned to steam, and called itself 'Wilbur', it wouldn't be too late to refreeze it. So I'm going to say no.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2008


A positive feedback loop caused by global warming is also predicted to shut down the ocean conveyor belt. I expect to see a very alarmed series of articles on that shocking development in the next few years.
posted by Tehanu at 11:28 AM on December 18, 2008


See also.
posted by Tehanu at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2008


If arctic amplification gets too great it'll lead to arctic distortion which will lead to arctic umlauts.
posted by bondcliff at 11:31 AM on December 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Well, thanks for the cheery bit of news.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2008


Yea, Just like on mars! Its arrogant to think humans can change the climate.
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/07aug_southpole.htm
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html
posted by tomas316 at 11:41 AM on December 18, 2008


Hey, that guy got cancer too! So there's no way smoking is harmful.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Arctic warming? Nah - all that ice just got tired of being cold, so it went to Las Vegas and Malibu.

I dunno - it's fun to blame all the 'warming' on us - but we're still not as warm as during the Medieval Climate Optimum - and seems to me that we're mayflies trying to figure out what's going to happen next when all we've got to go on is a single afternoon's observations. If sudden extremely cold blasts ( -60s in Siberia and it's not even winter yet) and snow where it hasn't been in decades are indications of global warming, I'm skeptical about the thermometer orientation.
posted by JB71 at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2008


The earth can change its own climate without our help, but it's far more arrogant to think we can do anything we damn well please while the environment 'absorbs' the effect with zero damage. Climate Change denialists (like tomas316?) enjoy shitting on everything while keeping their heads in the sand.
posted by wendell at 11:51 AM on December 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


"sudden extremely cold blasts ( -60s in Siberia and it's not even winter yet) and snow where it hasn't been in decades are indications of global warmingCLIMATE CHANGE"... fixed that for you.

It's not just about the Warming; heating up in some areas can help to cause cooling down in others. What may be Humanity's greatest arrogance is not so much believing we can't change the climate but in building so much permanent infrastructure based on the assumption that the climate can't change dramatically.
posted by wendell at 11:57 AM on December 18, 2008


Climate Skeptic - there's always a differing view.

"In response to polar amplification, skeptics have often shot back that there seems to be a problem here, as while the North Pole is clearly warming, it can be argued the South Pole is cooling and has seen some record high sea ice extents at the exact same time the North Pole has hit record low sea ice extents."

And here's a fellow (Bob Tisdale) who blames it on the 97/98 El Nino

Polar Amplification and Arctic Warming

One thing remains constant despite the varied interpretations; change is occurring.
posted by netbros at 11:58 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the plus side, land in coastal areas is getting cheaper!
posted by jamstigator at 11:59 AM on December 18, 2008


we're still not as warm as during the Medieval Climate Optimum

What was the extent of arctic sea ice during the Middle Ages? Do you remember how no one found the Northwest Passage, because it didn't exist yet?

If sudden extremely cold blasts ( -60s in Siberia and it's not even winter yet) and snow where it hasn't been in decades are indications of global warming, I'm skeptical about the thermometer orientation.


Are you dumb? Global warming doesn't mean everything gets warmer. It means natural systems keeping temperatures and climate in a moderate range get disrupted, causing extreme weather and temperature fluctuations.
posted by nasreddin at 12:03 PM on December 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


First off, there is no evidence that the Medieval Maximum was a global phenomenon. Secondly, everything I've seen indicates that we've actually been - on average - above the MWP since about 98-00.

I know, I know, I shouldn't engage you like you actually want to learn anything or even know what you're talking about, but I just can't help myself. It's the educator in me.
posted by absalom at 12:12 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It means natural systems keeping temperatures and climate in a moderate range get disrupted, causing extreme weather and temperature fluctuations.

This is patently false. Global warming means that the extra-dimensional being's simulated universe within which we all live is experiencing server problems. So everyone just needs to chill out and stop getting all nervous about the impact of your actions. We're all going to get rezzed once we destroy the planet anyway.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:12 PM on December 18, 2008


A comic regarding the notion that it is not possible for humanity to drastically alter the planet. Even accounting for the entire surface of the planet only raises the per-person area to roughly .085 square kilometers, or about 21 acres. Even without the multiplying effects of modern technology, it is easily within humanity's reach to alter the entire planet, perhaps irrevocably, within a single generation.
posted by jedicus at 12:16 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Do you remember how no one found the Northwest Passage, because it didn't exist yet?"

Let's see... Columbus was a few centuries late for that, wasn't he?

"Global warming doesn't mean everything gets warmer."

Sounds plausible - but 'warming' implies actual warming, and that doesn't seem to be happening. 'Climate Change' is a lot more ambiguious, so more acceptable, and it can cover variations that aren't in a 'warming' direction. What's important is to get belief in the concept, then you can institute controls that wouldn't be acceptable otherwise.

But where's the thermostat supposed to be set? Around the 1930s? 1950? 1970s? The fluctuations have gone back and forth for centuries, some more extreme than others.
posted by JB71 at 12:18 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other words, feed the entire global population brussel sprouts and sauerkraut, then light a match. Instant global warming.
posted by qvantamon at 12:19 PM on December 18, 2008


I appreciate that marisa is using her extraterrestrial D&D game as a unifying theory of everything.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2008


But where's the thermostat supposed to be set? Around the 1930s? 1950? 1970s? The fluctuations have gone back and forth for centuries, some more extreme than others.

No. you've got this all wrong. The idea is to stabilize the excess greenhouse gases and lessen the greenhouse effect. That is why all of the goals (80% by 2050, etc.) are focused on carbon dioxide targets--carbon dioxide, while not the most powerful radiative forcer by pound, has the longest atmospheric residence time and is emitted in the highest volumes of any of the anthropogenic GHG's.

You commit a sin of arrogance to think humans can control something like the weather. yet.

It's also not a new idea that land use change (destroying forest, soil, and wetland systems) is responsible for up to a third of anthropogenic CO2 emitted. But this fact doesn't change that oil-based industrial society emits the other two-thirds. it's not "either/or" but "both/and."
posted by troy at 12:28 PM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I appreciate that marisa is using her extraterrestrial D&D game as a unifying theory of everything.

Theory ... or truth? Scoff if you want - when I'm rebooted as a giant space robot with time travel capabilities, who'll be laughing then, clever trousers?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:31 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


"We are so fucked" tag?
posted by jokeefe at 12:31 PM on December 18, 2008


The climate change debate is astounding. Clearly we're affecting the climate. Why do people persist in denying this? Why don't they disagree with the conclusions instead?

This makes sense to me, and I might even agree with it:

"The climate is changing, and we're doing it. Well, never mind. We're changing it because we're becoming richer and more powerful, so we'll use some of that new power and technology to ameliorate the effects of a warmer world. Lefties see climate change as a reason to destroy capitalism and American independence: it doesn't have to be that way. Technological solutions, fuelled by fossil fuels right now, are the way forward, not proposing we live in a Pol-Pot-esque agrarian fantasy."

This makes no sense, but is much more common:

"Lefties have use climate change to attack capitalism and American independence, which isn't surprising since their Soviet Union went belly-up. Now, I don't like lefties and their conclusions, so I'm going to deny that climate change is happening and claim I agree with crackpots and flat-earthers."

Is it some kind of cognitive dissonance? That's usually the reason for outrageously illogical positions. Can it be guilt? Misplaced patriotism? Genuine confusion?
posted by alasdair at 12:33 PM on December 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is there an argument for what the most ideal global temperature average should be, other than what it would be without man? I'm not supporting the deniers here, its just that it seems to me that it is unlikely that the ideal temp is what it would naturally be. I've seen predictions of the huge cost that is predicted from global warming; could we save money by cooling things down beyond the historic average?
posted by 445supermag at 12:34 PM on December 18, 2008


Absalom: "It's the educator in me."

Ah, an absolutist. "I'm the teacher, you're ignorant, believe what I say or I will taunt you, and fart in your general direction." Thank you for the clarification.

For what it's worth, not that I think you're really interested, I do believe in the antropogenic global warming theories proposed by Ruddiman - but I also believe that external factors have a serious effect on the entire system. Tomas316 links that NASA noted the polar caps of Mars were warming during the last sunspot cycle - and currently we're in a REAL quiet time re sunspot activity, solar radio flux and the solar wind. (So much so we're getting holes in the magnetosphere.)

And, judging by the ice core records Ruddiman dug up, by the cyclic ice ages we've been through we should be ass-deep in glaciers at this point. That we aren't, and that the changes started when we developed agriculture @8k years back indicates that humans DO have some effect on the long-term climate.
posted by JB71 at 12:42 PM on December 18, 2008


In fact, do any of these articles actually explain what Arctic amplification is?

What it is, is I wouldn't have kids if I were you.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Scientists who have spent most of their lives studying ecosystems, "Hey, we didn't predict this to happen this fast! This could be bad, we need to do something!"

Random Yokel, "Hey, if you didn't predict that, I guess that shows how much you know! Besides, humanity has never gone extinct in the past, so there's absolutely no evidence it will in the future!"

Proof once again, that opinion triumphs evidence! Fie on you Galileo and your mathmatical proofs about earth and sun!
posted by yeloson at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2008


Is there an argument for what the most ideal global temperature average should be, other than what it would be without man?

It's less about an ideal global temperature and more about not having a significant change in a short period of time. If the temperature rises too much from its present state, it will cause a lot of major changes.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2008


Of possible interest, Dick Cheney shuts down Discvr (From Bob Park's What's New):

WHAT’S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 5 Dec 08 Washington, DC

1. TRIANA: WHY DOES THIS ADMINISTRATION HATE IT SO MUCH?
Could it be because Al Gore’s initials areon it? They changed the name,
but the initials wouldn’t rub off. Three years ago while Congress was out
of town for the Christmas break, I heard NASA was quietly terminating
Triana, a.k.a. DSCOVR, http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN06/wn010606 . How
could this happen? The $100 million observatory was already built. It
was meant to answer the most fundamental question of climate science: what
is the energy balance between solar radiation falling on Earth and
reflected or reradiated energy? Global warming deniers all claim solar
variation is the major factor in global climate change. Is it? Well,
Triana is the only experiment that can unequivocally answer that
question. But I couldn’t find a single global warming denier who wanted
it tested. So I wrote an op-ed for the NY Times; but maybe nobody read
it, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/15/opinion/15park.html . It’s still
timely; the NY Times should feel free to reprint it without change.

2. DSCOVR: A DICK CHENEY SHOTGUN BLAST BLINDS THE WORLD.
The Nov 19, 2008 online Nature news, reported that the NASA
reauthorization bill ordered the agency to come up with a plan for
DSCOVR. The article quoted Francisco Valero of Scripps, the mission’s
principle investigator, who estimated that it would take $117 million to
refurbish and launch DSCOVR. The Air Force offered to launch it, but
incredibly, only if all Earth observation equipment is removed. This led
me to wonder if there could be a national security reason. No, Dick
Cheney just doesn’t want to hear about global warming. DeSmogBlog, the
best of the environmental blogs, quotes an unnamed source within NASA who
spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying Cheney was the hatchet man,
intent from the beginning on killing DSCOVR, and keeping Bush’s
fingerprints off the axe. And why did I have to learn about this from a
UK science magazine and a Canadian blog? The only major U.S. paper that
mentioned it was the Houston Chronicle.

posted by 445supermag at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Now, now, calm down. Let's wait until the science is all in.
posted by rokusan at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Okay, here's the thing I don't get. This works both ways - when ice cover is increasing, it reflects more heat, thus reducing the greenhouse effect, thus cooling the earth further, thus expanding ice caps, etc.

But the ice age still ended. The ice retreated (which would have had the opposite amplification effect, but there continued to be periodic cold periods...). Why did that happen, despite the feedback effect?

And what makes us think that just because the ice is retreating we're seeing something the world hasn't seen before? Why would we be alarmed that there is amplification going on, when, no matter what the climate trend, there is always amplification going on and yet we don't seem to freeze/cook?

Incidentally, these are honest questions. I'm not saying that I don't think the globe is warming, I'm just not sure why everyone gets so excited about the idea that the Arctic is warming faster or amplifying the effect, because how else would you expect it to behave?
posted by Dasein at 1:10 PM on December 18, 2008


alasdair: "The climate change debate is astounding. Clearly we're affecting the climate. Why do people persist in denying this? Why don't they disagree with the conclusions instead?"

The "debate", if it can be called that, is mostly an Internet phenomenon. George Monbiot wrote a good article about this: Cyberspace has buried its head in a cesspit of climate change gibberish.

The Internet: a cesspit of climate change gibberish.
posted by stbalbach at 1:10 PM on December 18, 2008


My girlfriend and I have been half joking about various situations during hard times. Like explaining to your kids what the internet, or practicing walking long distances for a new Great Depression. Lately been wondering what it'll be like to be old and seeing the last bits of oil drying up. Would my grandchildren be struggling with a transition to something else or does my generation have have the foresight and gumption to do that ahead of time?

There are so many possible scenarios of gloom and/or doom today that seem right out of science fiction. Hi tech police states. Overpopulation and running out of resources. Earth turns to Venus. Nuclear war and winter. It scares me a little that most of them are possible in some for or another. Maybe not at the extremes that a vivid imagination can conjure, but certainly very bad for someone somewhere.

I've started a list of things to teach my future children. Reading and writing are on there.

I just added sailing.
posted by Mister Cheese at 1:11 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


> I've started a list of things to teach my future children. Reading and writing are on there.

I just added sailing.


Don't forget subsistence farming.
posted by you just lost the game at 1:12 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why did that happen, despite the feedback effect?

The Earth has a slight wobble in its path around the sun. So very small increases or decreases in energy input, magnified by 100s of thousands of years, is what causes the ice ages to ebb and flow.

The difference with the current situation is the warming is happening in a period of 100s of years, 100s of times faster than any normal natural variation. In fact we are seeing major changes in 10 years or less. This is what a tipping point looks like, sudden and dramatic climate change. Usually this only occurs when there is some massive input of energy: volcanoes, comet strike, or burning the world's stock of coal into the atmosphere.
posted by stbalbach at 1:16 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, Lord, I hope we have finally reached the 'point of no return'. Now maybe all the chicken littles will go hide in their bunkers and give the rest of us a break from their screeching.
posted by wabashbdw at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2008


I have no clue what’s going to happen and climate science seems fiendishly complex to me. Thus, I listen to the scientists.
Guy wants to tell me if I don’t paint my ass blue the sun is going to explode, I might have some doubt, but I’m going to head out to True Value and pick up some Cerulean and a spray gun.
I’m thinking I’d want that classic sparkley look for my ass like on a classic car, y’know? I couldn’t use a latex base house paint because it’s all hairy...perhaps I’m overthinking all this.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2008


And what makes us think that just because the ice is retreating we're seeing something the world hasn't seen before?

What makes you think that just because we've seen something before, it can't have really terrible consequences in the modern world? Earth has gone through major changes over billions of years, but in the time that civilization has begun and flourished it has remained relatively constant.

There have been massive extinction events that have happened in the past, which are part of the reason why you don't see trilobytes or dinosaurs wandering around anymore. If we make the environment too unihabitable for life, we could be creating another one of those periods.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2008


Oh, Lord, I hope we have finally reached the 'point of no return'. Now maybe all the chicken littles will go hide in their bunkers and give the rest of us a break from their screeching.

Yeah, it sucks when people try and harsh on your consumer high by bringing up science.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:47 PM on December 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


JB71: Sorry it came out that way. It was meant more in the vein of " I cannot stand to see ignorance presented unchallenged. "
posted by absalom at 1:57 PM on December 18, 2008


And, as a note, I think you're the first person in 31 years to accuse me of being - of all things - an absolutist.
posted by absalom at 1:58 PM on December 18, 2008


Only the Sith believe in absolutes. But as for the scientists, they're pretty damn sure global warming is being greatly encouraged by humans.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:15 PM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not really clear on why losing the ice caps on the north poll is really that big of a deal if you're not a polar bear. The real problem is the south poll, with all that ice on Antarctica. If that melts, it will raise sea levels. But the north polar ice caps won't. Greenland is also an issue, though.

Ice floating on the sea does not affect sea level.
A positive feedback loop caused by global warming is also predicted to shut down the ocean conveyor belt. I expect to see a very alarmed series of articles on that shocking development in the next few years.
Actually, I read an article a while back that said the ocean conveyor belt has never been proven to have much of an effect on the temperature of Europe. It's all supposition.

I'm not a global warming denialist, but there are some elements of global warming that are not as bad as other parts. It's not good to conflate all of them together.
posted by delmoi at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


JB71 wrote: Arctic warming? Nah - all that ice just got tired of being cold, so it went to Las Vegas and Malibu.

You're wrong, it went to Oklahoma to visit the Cherokee.
posted by wierdo at 2:24 PM on December 18, 2008


Our government system has been built pretty much on the model of "if it worked last year, it will work next year." Crops will grow in State A, feed B, which will pay A money to use to buy goods from B, etc.

Those assumptions will not work anymore, crops wont grow in the places that used to, people who can will migrate, and cultural tensions will heighten, riots and wars will break out, and countries will fall.

I can give people some leniency over *why* things are changing, but the change is still going to happen. We can brace for the impact or dance merrily off the cliff. Granted know what is causing the change may help us prepare more, reverse some of the damage, but things are going to get tough.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:24 PM on December 18, 2008


I'm not really clear on why losing the ice caps on the north poll is really that big of a deal if you're not a polar bear.

No offence, but that statement really sounds like something that could only have been said by a person who's never had to go hungry a day in their life, or wonder if there's going to be enough food to keep the kids alive for another year. Our comfortable Western bubble would burst very quickly without the constant supply of creature comforts that we've become so accustomed to that we believe they are our birthright. And those comforts rely on a shakier foundation than many might think. It's arrogany=t to assume that something like the high Arctic melting away won't have huge consequences for the world.
posted by jokeefe at 2:37 PM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Not just arrogany=t, but arrogant, too.
posted by jokeefe at 2:38 PM on December 18, 2008


Is this where I go to have someone call me a "lib?"
posted by maxwelton at 2:45 PM on December 18, 2008


...you're the first person in 31 years to accuse me of being... an absolutist.
posted by absalom


Eponyphonic!
posted by rokusan at 2:47 PM on December 18, 2008


Actually, I read an article a while back that said the ocean conveyor belt has never been proven to have much of an effect on the temperature of Europe. It's all supposition.

I'd love to see this article, because just about everything I've read on the ocean conveyor belt, in particular the Gulf Stream, says at the very least that it does have a significant effect on the temperature of Europe.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:25 PM on December 18, 2008


Citizen Premier gets it exactly right: Sea ice reflects something like 90% of solar energy, while open water absorbs something like 70%.

I'm officially ready to stop being nice to the clenched, embittered denialists who maintain, in spite of mountains of empirical evidence, that this is somehow a hoax, or imaginary, or a conspiracy theory from some all-powerful leftist cabal. If you sincerely hold this view, you are, in my estimation, clearly unable to distinguish data from the cognitive detritus of your collective persecution complex. You're entitled to your own opinions, but facts are not your purview.

Please stop.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:39 PM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not really clear on why losing the ice caps on the north poll is really that big of a deal if you're not a polar bear. The real problem is the south poll, with all that ice on Antarctica.

Well, the problem with the north poll was that, due to the ice melting, there were no polar bears around to make a statistical difference (they'd all been driven to extinction) - and while I agree that it's the south poll that we should be worrying about, I feel that we should be worried due to the unsatisfactory quality of the results: I know from experience that penguins are notorious liars and do not poll well.

also, c'mon, you're joking, right
posted by eclectist at 3:58 PM on December 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm officially ready to stop being nice to the clenched, embittered denialists who maintain, in spite of mountains of empirical evidence, that this is somehow a hoax, or imaginary, or a conspiracy theory from some all-powerful leftist cabal.

You know, now that you've said that, they'll flip to the "it's all too late, the damage is done, there's nothing we can do about it" position.
posted by pompomtom at 3:59 PM on December 18, 2008


this is somehow a hoax, or imaginary, or a conspiracy theory from some all-powerful leftist cabal.

I almost lost my soup seeing "all-powerful" and "leftist" in the same sentence like that.

I mean, they're... they're right beside each other there! I can't stop laughing.
posted by rokusan at 4:03 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, now that you've said that, they'll flip to the "it's all too late, the damage is done, there's nothing we can do about it" position.

Let's not play the blame game, here.
posted by rokusan at 4:03 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know from experience that penguins are notorious liars and do not poll well.

The problem with penguins in politics is they see everything as part of some a hyperpartisan culture war, as if everything is black and white.

(I am sorry.)
posted by rokusan at 4:06 PM on December 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


absalom: There is some Evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was global.
posted by sien at 4:06 PM on December 18, 2008


Actually, I read an article a while back that said the ocean conveyor belt has never been proven to have much of an effect on the temperature of Europe. It's all supposition.

It's apparently a debunked myth, as I just discovered. Regarding "The Gulf Stream keeps Europe's climate mild": We now know this is a myth, the climatological equivalent of an urban legend. In a detailed study published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in 2002, we demonstrated the limited role that ocean heat transport plays in determining regional climates around the Atlantic Ocean."
posted by rtha at 4:08 PM on December 18, 2008


Much as I appreciate the environment is changing, and it's our meddling, and it's implicitly for the worse, I've never fully studied or analysed the data. I'm trusting a lot of people and organisations who seem to agree and are better at digesting the data than I. In my lifetime things seem to be changing, but this is far from anything other than anecdotal evidence.

While I have no time for status quo asserting deniers, I'm not pretending that my (and many others) opinions are anything other than being staked on the web of reputations and recommendations of smarter others. The thing is - even without a thorough scientific understanding of short-term datasets - we're fiddling with oil while Rome melts.
posted by davemee at 4:31 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]



Science Daily sees the long trend
posted by A189Nut at 4:47 PM on December 18, 2008


Cosmic clockwork crossing galactic equator.
posted by hortense at 6:27 PM on December 18, 2008


Life becomes much more difficult when we have rapid environment changes and/or unpredictable changes. Hard on the crops, for starters. Creates famines. That sort of thing.

Warmer Arctic inevitably leads to a humongous methane belch from the permafrosts that lie across all of North Canada and Russia. That can raise the temperature enough to release the vast volumes of methane hydrates on the ocean bottom.

Either one of those events could change our environment to the point human life as we know it can not be sustained, period. The two combined? We're talking the environment in which dinosaurs thrived, not mammals.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:06 PM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Deniers: well, they're suffering from denial. I don't blame them, in some ways: it's fucking frightening to consider the implications of drastic climate change. But the consequences of this denial are a little bit greater than the usual (i.e., you keep on drinking even though your partner will likely leave, or you'll lose your job, etc.) I too would love to believe that the whole thing is just some kind of crazy scientific babblegab that those lab-coated eggheads can't stop themselves from foisting on the rest of the world, probably because they never had any fun in high school. That would be great! I could stop worrying so much about the future of the planet, could take flights here and there at a whim without a twinge of conscience, and basically feel no need to change my life aside from making gestures like recycling tin cans and bits of paper. What a relief!

But, you know, intellectual rigour demands that I take science seriously. And science says that things are very bad. Climate scientists, when they talk off the record, say things that will make your hair stand on end. Our civilization isn't as strong or as sturdy as we'd like to pretend. When the world's food supply is compromised, and once the battles for resources--fresh water, in particular--begin, once the great migrations of the desperate and starving become a threat to rich societies, then perhaps we'll face up to the actuality of what "climate change" means. At that point it will be little comfort that some guy on Metafilter said it was all bunk because he was feeling cold one winter. [/is having a gloomy day, sorry]
posted by jokeefe at 8:33 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


sien: There is some Evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was global.

You know, before you cite a study you might spend just a minute looking into the background of the authors. Your article is from the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change which is an astroturf organization funded by the Western Fuels Association which provides coal for electric power companies in the mid-west and southeast. They are also associated with Peabody Energy, the world's largest private coal company.

Officers of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change:

Chairman - CRAIG D. IDSO
President - SHERWOOD B. IDSO
VP - KEITH E. IDSO
Operations Manager - JULENE M. IDSO

Why, it is a regular family operation, all on the global warming denial dole.
posted by JackFlash at 9:35 PM on December 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's apparently a debunked myth, as I just discovered.

In reading the article you linked to, the author does concede that ocean current temperatures do contribute to the temperature of mainland Europe, and that a slowing or disappearing of the Gulf Stream would contribute to a cooling trend. This climatologist is not saying it's all a myth; he's saying the influence of the Gulf Stream is not as great as the media types who fly into a "tizzy of panic" (as he put it) are making it out to be. And there's still the matter of the hundreds of articles that do take the Gulf Stream issue very seriously. So I'd say it's still too soon to burn piles of styrofoam while having a Lysol fight with your buddies, celebrating the death of chicken little environmental hysteria.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:18 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It was a quick google, but clearly the fact that Dr S Idso, Dr C Idso & Dr K Idso are related does mean that the papers they reference are all wrong.
posted by sien at 11:33 PM on December 18, 2008


It was a quick google, but clearly the fact that Dr S Idso, Dr C Idso & Dr K Idso are related does mean that the papers they reference are all wrong.

How about all that stuff about how they're funded by and affiliated with coal companies? That couldn't bear any weight on their findings, surely.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:34 AM on December 19, 2008


Interesting contrast between the "It's all a myth!" talk in the linked article from Seager, and the more reasonable tone in some of the research (Seager and Battisti, 2006) it references. The later is a whole lot more convincing, but to this non-climate-scientist it doesn't seem to make quite the same claim. Instead it leaves the impression that the relationship between the THC and atmospheric circulation is more complicated than current understanding can explain, and it leaves open the possibility that either one can influence the other. In fact it does even speculate about a specific way that the ocean currents can change the atmospheric circulation, allowing the climate effects of a hypothetical THC shutdown to be greatly amplified. Far as I can tell, it doesn't really propose any exact alternative mechanism, I mean no specific forcing that would explain the transitions starting with a shift in atmospheric circulation regime. The myth, perhaps, is just that these things are already well-understood.

geological evidence for the Lake Agassiz flood has not been found, see (Broecker,2006).

That may have changed by now.
posted by sfenders at 4:57 AM on December 19, 2008


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "So I'd say it's still too soon to burn piles of styrofoam while having a Lysol fight with your buddies, celebrating the death of chicken little environmental hysteria."

I realize your kidding, but are these ozone depleting gases? There is no controversy about the Ozone hole. In fact we escaped a major disaster by the skin of our teeth by 1) discovering the ozone hole and 2) discovering what caused it before things had progressed too far. It was sort of the Cuban Missle Crisis of environmental global disaster. Luck and timing saved us. It's easy to imagine the technology needed to observe the Ozone hole had been delayed 10 or 20 years and we ended up destroying the Ozone with refrigerator coolant before anyone knew what was happening.
posted by stbalbach at 6:41 AM on December 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Warmer Arctic inevitably leads to a humongous methane belch from the permafrosts that lie across all of North Canada and Russia.

Yes. And remaining tropical forests may go from CO2 sink to CO2 producer as temperatures rise. Another feedback loop.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:59 AM on December 19, 2008


How about all that stuff about how they're funded by and affiliated with coal companies? That couldn't bear any weight on their findings, surely.

Yes, but the scientists are busy getting rich off their precious research grants. (Hahahahahahahhaaa)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:01 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]



Theory ... or truth? Scoff if you want - when I'm rebooted as a giant space robot with time travel capabilities, who'll be laughing then, clever trousers?


Marisa, I will be laughing. From atop my glorious dinosaur mount, while wearing my +40 to sexiness time travel watch. Also, I will have a badass pompadour and laser gun 6-string.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:55 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I'd say it's still too soon to burn piles of styrofoam while having a Lysol fight with your buddies, celebrating the death of chicken little environmental hysteria.

Oh, absolutely. I was just one of those people with this vague notion that the Gulf Stream was (solely?) responsible for keeping Europe's climate relatively mild. I'm not in any way, shape, or form a denialist. We've fucked this planet up but good, and it's getting ready to fuck us back.
posted by rtha at 9:27 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I realize your kidding, but are these ozone depleting gases? There is no controversy about the Ozone hole. In fact we escaped a major disaster by the skin of our teeth by 1) discovering the ozone hole and 2) discovering what caused it before things had progressed too far.

Whatever. The ozone layer doesn't even exist. It was invented by aerosol companies who'd secured a patent on non-CFC propellents and weren't making any money. I read an article about it some time ago, although I can't find the link now. You'll have to take my word on it. I suppose next you'll tell me the moon landing was real or something.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:55 AM on December 19, 2008


Some encouraging news:
President-elect Barack Obama has selected two of the nation's most prominent scientific advocates for a vigorous response to climate change to serve in his administration's top ranks, according to sources, sending the strongest signal yet that he will reverse Bush administration policies on energy and global warming.

The appointments of Harvard University physicist John Holdren as presidential science adviser and Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will be announced tomorrow, dismayed conservatives but heartened environmentalists and researchers.
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on December 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh shit, global warming is real again.

It's so hard to keep track of this.

WHAT DO I BELEEB
posted by tehloki at 10:27 PM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Agencies' report warns of faster climate change
posted by homunculus at 4:57 PM on December 26, 2008


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