The rate of warming for the past year is far greater than even the most crazed alarmists predicted. We are all doomed!
From January 2008 to January 2009, the planet warmed a remarkable 0.37°C (see data here). This is 20 times (!) the annual rate of warming in recent decades and 20 times what most climate models have projected we should be experiencing.
Remember last year when denier sites were claiming that the (meaningless) temperature trend between January 2007 and January 2008 ‘wiped out a century of warming‘? Remember how they claimed that this was proof that we were experiencing massive global cooling, and that global warming was a sham? Well now one year later and with an similarly massive (but equally meaningless) drastic increase in temperatures (20 times greater than predicted!) surely we can expect stories from the usual sources on the immanent boiling of the worlds oceans. Maybe I wont hold my breath on this one.
The point is there never was “global cooling,” and it remains absurd that the media or anyone else, including the conservative blogosphere, ever pushed that storyline — especially if they aren’t prepared to write about the “re-accelerated” warming that inevitably follows such “cooling”
Hate to be alarmist but something is going on here that is beyond speculation. It is real. Who will be the first to flinch? This is war. Forget Iraq or Afghanistan. It is oil versus reason. Money versus grace. I wish this was a time for optimism like Obama but it is still the same place. Nobody but “wackos” have paid any attention to the germ of your post. I guess my point is, nothing is going to happen. We are afloat and they are in charge.
I am sorry but I cannot share your pessimism.
SD.. while I know we won’t see exactly eye to eye, your blog is a refreshing take on the discussion.. which appears to understand and considers the contrary arguments – even as you dispute their veracity..
I would call myself a non-alarmist believer in the “concept” of man affecting climate change. The problem is that people like Al Gore and David Suzuki try to use the science to draw conclusions and create a certain hysteria that the science doesn’t support. And the strongest scientists in favor of the theory of man-made climate change acknoweldge that.
The problem – climate change is so complex that honest, intellegent scientists affirming the “climate change” theory, honestly have no idea what the extent of that affect will be and whether or not other factors may either exacerbate it, or, conversely, offset it. The truth is we don’t know. That’s a fact.
So – what are we to do? Deniers advocate nothing. The extremists on the other side advocate massive changes which may have significant negative impacts on our economy, and, as such, on the ability of people to feed themselves and their families.
The culprit – Al Gore. His “Inconvenient Truth”, a mish-mash of science, pseudo-science, and outright lies created a hysteria that wasn’t born out by sober real science, and now, the average citizen doesn’t know what to believe.
The reality – we need a sober, considered approach that doesn’t discount the possibility that we are affecting our climate, but doesn’t ask us to jump to Kyoto targets which will kill our economy in the midst of an already uncertain and frighening economic nightmare.
And as the extremists on the left complain that the only interests being served will be big business – well, charitable donations are dropping drastically – and if business, in general, suffers greatly, so will government coffers that are so important to the truly disabled in society – so, bad economic circumstances, no doubt, will hurt those at the bottom of the economic scale worst. The Sierra Club doesn’t talk about that too much though.
While uncertainly exists in climate predictions, given the level of knowledge on this subject it is unlikely that unknown significant forcings exist. What becomes apparent when reading the peer-reviewed literature (or the IPCC) is that a lot of time is spend ensuring that significant unknown unknowns don’t remain. After decades of climate research few likely exist, and we would have had to have gotten many things very wrong in order for any of them to be significant.
Of course we can never have proof that we are correct (proof is a property of mathematics, not something science can provide), but when a scientist speaks of the extent of the effects of Climate change it is far more than a guess.
An Inconvenient truth got most things right. In fact according to a judge in the UK Gore’s movie was broadly accurate, and there were only a few areas where Gore ventured beyond the consensus (though even here there is published research to back him up). There are some some minor error’s in Gore’s movie but overall he did a good job of presenting the science in a manner that is accessible to most, and emotional enough to urge action.
It is that second point that seems to anger most people. Gore didn’t present a dispassionate look at the issue . His movie was as much about informing people, as it was about urging action. This doesn’t mean he was wrong, or that he created hysteria (In my mind the IPCC is cause for more alarm than his movie, but then I actually took the time to read and understand it).
If you want to place the blame for the public’s confusion on the issue why not blame the “The Great Global Warming Swindle” which WAS completely inaccurate, and which twisted the words of some of the scientists involved. Or why not blame George Will. His latest column on the subject was filled with verifiably wrong info on climate change. Or why not blame Marc Morano and Senator Inhofe who routinely come up with the most dishonest arguments that are completely free of any logical thought.
Why not put the blame on people who have a long history of purposeful obfuscation?
Given that the estimated costs associated with climate change are orders of magnitude greater than our current economic slump, I’d say what we need is targets informed by the latest scientific research. In other words we need to stabilize somewhere between 450 and 550ppm, and if Hansen is right we then need to lower atmospheric concentrations to 350ppm. Unless we want to risk it all with geoengineering.
While the target of emissions reduction polices should be set by science, the real question for policymakers is how to best achieve them. My view on this is to focus on carbon pricing rather than quotas, but given that the word ‘carbon tax’ is close to political suicide that may not be an option. But it is pointless to draft policy that according to the latest science wont avert the massive costs associated with climate change.
And speaking of the economy, most climate policies will cost money, but far less than what has been spent on various bailouts, and will create many new jobs for people which will partially offset their costs.