March 18, 2005

Too Late To Stop Warming

It's too late to prevent global warming. For years, scientists were puzzled by the fact that the climate seemed to be warming up much more slowly than their models predicted, and took a lot of criticism for this quandary. Then within the last year or so, it was confirmed that all that extra heat had been warming up the oceans, the planet's natural heat sink.

How to best curb greenhouse gas emissions is a hotly debated topic. But new research suggests that putting the brakes on greenhouse gas levels is not enough to slow down climate change because the ocean responds so slowly to perturbations. The study results, published today in the journal Science, indicate that even if greenhouse gas levels had stabilized five years ago, global temperatures would still increase by about half a degree by the end of the century and sea level would rise some 11 centimeters.

"Many people don't realize we are committed right now to a significant amount of global warming and sea level rise because of the greenhouse gases we have already put into the atmosphere," says study author Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. "The longer we wait, the more climate change we are committed to in the future." Meehl and his NCAR colleagues ran two coupled climate models that link major components of our planet's climate and incorporate their interactions. The researchers then analyzed scenarios in which greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere at low, moderate and high rates. The highest rates of accumulation led to model results that included a 3.5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures and a 30 centimeter rise in global sea level. ...

Water, of course, makes life on Earth possible, but not just because it's favorable to living biochemistry. It takes quite a bit of energy to heat water because of its high internal cohesion, and once heated, it cools relatively slowly as it releases heat to its surroundings. Without massive amounts of water, our climate under this thinnish atmosphere would more closely resemble the moon's: alternately baking or freezing depending what side faced the sun. Not very hospitable conditions.

Now, all the heat we've stored in the sea will have to come back out, even if we stop heating it up. Nothing whatever can be done to stop this, though mitigation is possible if we started immediately and stopped adding to the problem.

And certainly, serious mitigation is in order, considering that our other water-based heat protection is also in decline. The melting glaciers all over the world once reflected significant amounts of heat into space. Now that heat is being absorbed by the water, rock, or soil formerly underneath it.

Stirling Newberry writes about a new revolution that could enable us to design our way out of this problem, eventually. But if we don't, as he notes, someone will have to.

A change of 3.5 degrees Celsius may not sound like a lot, but it really, really is. Even here in western Washington, the climate has warmed up in the last few years, and it's very disconcerting. I might not even have noticed if I hadn't taken a plant identification class during Spring quarter a couple years ago. This year, Spring quarter doesn't start for a couple weeks now, but plants that two years ago hadn't flowered until after class started are already in bloom, and their flowers may well be gone by the time this year's class goes to look for them.

This shifts the ranges of plants, animals, and insects, all of whom depend on each other for food. It affects whether or not their life cycles are in sync with their neighbors in the food web, and it affects their ability to compete with other species. For some species, it will be a boon, for others a disaster.

Insects will become more of a problem, preying on crops and moving out of their usual latitudes with a vengeance. Tropical diseases will spread faster as fewer areas of the world have a cold snap causing a winter die-off or hibernation period for disease carrying bugs.

For farming, it means that rainfall patterns and seasons will shift around such that they have to change what crops they grow or how much water they use. It may put some farms out of business, and encourage further encroachment on northern temperate forests, which in turn will accelerate warming by decreasing surface tree cover and liberating stored carbon.

But hey, it'll be good for Canada and Russia, I guess.

Posted by natasha at March 18, 2005 04:48 PM | Environment | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

From "REUTERS" (unfortunately, linked to by DRUDGE):


"No Stopping Global Warming, Studies Predict"


"... ran two computer simulations of climate change -- complex programs, ... that took months to run on supercomputers."


"We found that just based on the ingredients that have already been put into the atmosphere in the 20th century, we already are committed to another half a degree (0.5 degree C or 0.9 degree F) of global warming,"... "That's about what we saw in the 20th century. ..."

Which doesn't seem that bad to me; 1901 and 2001 don't look that different to me - in terms of weather. (But they sure do in terms of living standards!)

REMEMBER: the GREENIE/anti-SUV crowd would have you believe that industrialization is bad (because it turns carbon-solids into a carbon-gases) , when in fact industrialization is good, AND GOOD FOR YOU: life spans and health, and standards of living are MUCH better in industrialized countries than in non-developed countries.

THEREFORE: if you want to improve the lives of poor people in the Third World - make them live longer and more prosperously - you need to support MORE industrialization, NOT LESS. China and India are perfect examples of this: they were starving in the middle of the last century, now both are INDUSTRIALIZED economic powerhouses. And they use a lot of energy to do this. I guess the Greenies would rather they were both starving agrarian basketcases!?!?!?!?!

Also, you MUST ALWAYS keep in mind that all these HYSTERICAL PROGNOSTICATIONS are merely COMPUTER GENERATED SCENARIOS, just like the LOCAL 5 DAY FORECAST that you watch from your local weatherman - 5 DAY FORECASTS that are almost always INACCURATE and which must be CONSTANTLY UPDATED.

Last time I checked: (1) a century was further out than five days; and (2) global is a bigger kettle than local. In other words, no matter how many variables they feed into a computer, and no matter how fast that computer runs, what comes out is merely a possible forecast. Let's call it a "100 YEAR GLOBAL FORECAST." It's PROBABLY LESS ACCURATE than your "Local 5 Day Forecast."

Another thing which makes me very skeptical is that the Greenies always present forecasts that mirror their ideology. Wonder why that ALWAYS happens?

ADDENDUM: The bottom-line is that climate change is part of the history of the planet; 35,000 years ago Kilimanjaro had no glacier - and there were NO fossil fuels being burned then. So to assume or argue that fossil fuels are causing it now is NUTS! It might be due to SUNSPOT activity and changes in the SUN; (MORE HERE, and HERE via GREENIE WATCH).

Posted by: reliapundit at March 18, 2005 06:41 PM


Senior officals from KYOTO PROTOCOL nations are gathering in London for a two day conference on so-called "man-made global warming" - global climate change that is SUPPOSEDLY the result of increased emissions of man-made "greehouse gases" due to industrialization and "excessive" use of "fossil" fuels.

Evidence exists that ENTIRELY DISPROVES THIS BUNK. Here it is...

EXHIBIT #1: Hysterical Left-wing Greenies' Make Outrageous Charges -

"Reuters": A photo of Mount Kilimanjaro stripped of its snowcap for the first time in 11,000 years will be used as dramatic testimony for action against global warming as ministers from the world's biggest polluters meet today. Gathering in London on Tuesday for a two-day brainstorming session on the environment agenda of Britain's presidency of the Group of Eight rich nations, the environment and energy ministers from 20 countries will be handed a book containing the stark image of Africa's tallest mountain, among others.

"This is a wake-up call and an unequivocal message that a low-carbon global economy is necessary, achievable and affordable," said Steve Howard of the Climate Group charity which organised the book and an associated exhibition. "We are breaking climate change out of the environment box. This crisis affects all of us. This is a global challenge and we need real leadership to address these major problems -- and these ministers can give that leadership," he told Reuters.

The pictures include one of Kilimanjaro almost bare of its icecap because of global warming, and coastal defences in the Marshall Islands threatened with swamping from rising sea levels.

EXHIBIT #2: REAL Scientists Counter with TRUTH -


"... reports of glacial recession on Kilimanjaro first emerged in 2002, the story was quickly picked up and trumpeted as another example of humans destroying nature. It's easy to see why: Ice fields in the tropics—Kilimanjaro lies about 220 miles (350 kilometers) south of the Equator—are particularly susceptible to climate change, and even the slightest temperature fluctuation can have devastating effects.

"There's a tendency for people to take this temperature increase and draw quick conclusions, which is a mistake," said Douglas R. Hardy, a climatologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who monitored Kilimanjaro's glaciers from mountaintop weather stations since 2000. "The real explanations are much more complex. Global warming plays a part, but a variety of factors are really involved."

According to Hardy, forest reduction in the areas surrounding Kilimanjaro, and not global warming, might be the strongest human influence on glacial recession.

"Clearing for agriculture and forest fires—often caused by honey collectors trying to smoke bees out of their hives—have greatly reduced the surrounding forests," he says. The loss of foliage causes less moisture to be pumped into the atmosphere, leading to reduced cloud cover and precipitation and increased solar radiation and glacial evaporation.

Evidence of glacial recession on Kilimanjaro is often dated from 1912, but most scientists believe tropical glaciers began receding as early as the 1850s.

Stefan L. Hastenrath, a professor of atmospheric studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has found clues in local reports of a dramatic drop in East African lake levels after 1880. Lake evaporation indicates a decrease in precipitation and cloudiness around Kilimanjaro.

"Less cloud coverage lets more sunlight filter through and hit the glaciers," Hastenrath said. "That increase in sunlight then provides more energy for evaporation of the glacier."

Hastenrath found further evidence in sailing expedition reports from the same period. "Ships along the East African coast recorded very fast equatorial winds around 1880," he said. "Just like today, swift westerlies are always linked with drier seasons in East Africa, so it's very likely Kilimanjaro had a dry period around this time."

Along with a higher risk of evaporation, a drop in precipitation also makes for a dark glacial surface, made up of old, dirty snow. A darker glacial surface absorbs more solar radiation than fresh, white snow (like a blacktop playground baking in the sun).

Global warming began to take effect in East Africa by the early 20th century.


(1) The current recession of Mt. Kilimajaro's glacier began a CENTURY BEFORE fossil fuel use became global.

(2) The current recession of Mt. Kilimanjaro's glacier is the result of LOCAL activities which can be addressed locally - and have NOTHING to do with use of fossil fuels in other parts of the world.

(3) The current recession of Mt. Kilimanjaro's glacier is also effected by regional wind current patterns and local cloud cover - and NOT CLIMATIC CHANGES OR GLOBAL WARMING.

(4) The "Greenies" ADMIT that Mt. Kilimanjaro was GLACIER FREE 11,000 YEARS ago; WELL... there were NO SUV's then, and NO man-made "greenhouse gases" to cause this; therefore, asserting that "greenhouse gases" are causing it now is HIGHLY SUSPECT.

THEREFORE: it is OBVIOUS that KYOTO is a COLOSSAL WASTE, a MASSIVE DIVERSION of valuable resources which could be better spent in ways that would more directly and quickly SAVE AND IMPROVE the lives or more people in the Third World who are currently suffering as a result of REAL ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS - like dirty water, and water borne diseases.

Instead of shackling our First World's industrial base (the world's money-making/wealth-generating machine) with WORTHLESS "GREEN" laws, we should be be building water treatment plants in the Third World and begin spraying large areas with DDT.

That is, if we REALLY want to help improve the lives of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of people.

I have the feeling the GREENIES relentless and irrational attachment to KYOTO and against "fossil fuels" has more to do with making themselves feel good, than improving the lives of anyone.

More from BJORN LONBORG in an op-ed titled: "Save the world, ignore global warming" - Google it .

Posted by: reliapundit at March 18, 2005 06:43 PM

reliapundit, you sure are funny. Of course, if you were a real scientist, you would publish your papers in a peer reviewed document. Your descendants will most likely curse your name and all those others who created the world they will inhabit.

Posted by: Mary at March 18, 2005 09:15 PM

The question is no longer whether or no it is happening, I can step outside and see it. Equally invalid the question "what can be done to stop it?"

The only question valid now is "how do we compensate?" How do we ensure the survival of our grand-children? And theirs'?

We were recently reminded that we are but fleas aggitating the skin of a far larger organism.

Posted by: Thomas Ware at March 19, 2005 10:33 AM