Learning from Dogs

Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.

Last word, for now!

with 25 comments

Last mutterings for now regarding man’s effect on our Planet!

There’s been a string of items on Learning from Dogs in recent days about mankind’s footprint changing our planet but this Blog is not a single issue Blog unless learning the values of life from dogs is to be seen as a single issue.

So I’m going to include a few more items about climate change/global warming here and leave it for a while.  (But, please, don’t let that stop you sending me interesting stuff, as so many of you lovely readers do!)

So more evidence about how the planet has warmed up in this video released by NASA.

Global temperatures have warmed significantly since 1880, the beginning of what scientists call the “modern record.” At this time, the coverage provided by weather stations allowed for essentially global temperature data. As greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, industry and vehicles have increased, temperatures have climbed, most notably since the late 1970s. In this animation of temperature data from 1880-2011, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average. (Data source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Visualization credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record

19th January, 2012

The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis that shows temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.

“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting,” said GISS Director James E. Hansen. “So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Niña influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record.”

The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record (2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C). This underscores the emphasis scientists put on the long-term trend of global temperature rise. Because of the large natural variability of climate, scientists do not expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year. However, they do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades.

The first 11 years of the 21st century experienced notably higher temperatures compared to the middle and late 20th century, Hansen said. The only year from the 20th century in the top 10 warmest years on record is 1998.

Higher temperatures today are largely sustained by increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. These gases absorb infrared radiation emitted by Earth and release that energy into the atmosphere rather than allowing it to escape to space. As their atmospheric concentration has increased, the amount of energy “trapped” by these gases has led to higher temperatures.

Global temperature difference

The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, when the GISS global temperature record begins. By 1960, the average concentration had risen to about 315 parts per million. Today it exceeds 390 parts per million and continues to rise at an accelerating pace.

The temperature analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1,000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperature and Antarctic research station measurements. A publicly available computer program is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same place during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period functions as a baseline for the analysis.

The resulting temperature record is very close to analyses by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Hansen said he expects record-breaking global average temperature in the next two to three years because solar activity is on the upswing and the next El Niño will increase tropical Pacific temperatures. The warmest years on record were 2005 and 2010, in a virtual tie.

“It’s always dangerous to make predictions about El Niño, but it’s safe to say we’ll see one in the next three years,” Hansen said. “It won’t take a very strong El Niño to push temperatures above 2010.”

Finally, the blogsite Skeptical Science have recently published a fascinating graphic that shows how a single set of data can be interpreted in different ways.  That graphic may be seen by clicking here and it comes from a revealing article Still Going Down the Up Escalator.  Go read it!

About these ads

25 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This comment is about statistics & principles about how data can be interpreted because people misuse statistics all the time, and it is annoying.

    It doesn’t mean much that a recent year is the warmest on record or even that there has been a steady rise in temperature during modern meteorological record. Modern meteorological record is an extremely brief period of time. The data just tells that the temperature has risen since recording started, not whether the start point was ‘average’ for example. Since the global average temperature tends to cycle over the long term, it is important to know where we started – was it a low point, did we start in an upward trend that has been going on for thousands of years?

    While the NASA data does prove that the planet has warmed up within the time period data where temperature has been recorded (and counting), that is all it says. There is no causality and no overall climatic context beyond the brief era of civilisation, people just read that into it.

    I don’t deny global warming, neither do I say that the greenhouse effect doesn’t matter or that it isn’t created or worsened by humanity. I also do not say that it won’t impact humanity and the ecosystem profoundly. I believe it will cause many of the kind of disasters and climatic instability that have been projected and hit everybody hard.

    However, the climate has been much warmer in the past and we are still in a cold period of the climatic cycle. It will most likely get a lot warmer no matter what we do, and we won’t like it. Our civilisations rely on the assumption that environmental stability is normal, because the time frame we think in is so extremely short and all the time we know of the world has been fairly stable. However, that is not necessarily the norm for our planet.

    How will Earth look 10,000 years from now? Somehow people seem to assume that we won’t even be here at that time… or that the Earth won’t… and maybe they are right. Apparently we are not a self confident species, because the dinosaurs roamed the planet for 65 million years and that’s a lot longer than most people seem to assume we will last as a species. I think we should get out of the box and think long term instead of only panicking about combating the next disaster around the corner, and then the next one, and then the next one… and so on…

    but of course that’s easier said than done!

    (It is so annoying to have to die in max. approx 50 years and not get to see the next chapter of the history of humanity – I would love to see how the Earth looks in 10,000 years from now!)

    Mados

    February 10, 2012 at 02:17

    • Mados, with respect, I think you need to read James Hansen’s book Storms of my Grandchildren. Having read it, this is my 100-word summary of it:
      Concern over anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is not based on computer modelling; it is based on the study of palaeoclimatology. Computer modelling is based on physics we have understood for over 100 years and is used to predict what will happen to the atmosphere for a range of projections for CO2 emissions trajectories. As such, the range of model predictions is due to uncertainty in those projections; and not uncertainties in climate science. Furthermore, when one goes back 20 years and chooses to look at the emissions scenario that most-closely reflects what has actually happened, one finds that the modelled prediction matches reality very closely indeed.

      For the record, Hansen also believes (again based on palaeoclimatology not models) that, if we burn all the Earth’s fossil fuels, we will trigger unstoppable warming the Earth has never seen before, initially causing continuous sea level rise for centuries but, ultimately an entirely water-free and life-less planet.

      The Geological Society of London and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists both agree that it could take the Earth at least 100,000 years to recover from ACD even if we manage to bring it under control. However, I think they would also agree that, if ACD is allowed to get out of control in the way Hansen has warned it might, it does not take a genius to realise that the Earth may never recover – just look at Venus!

      Martin Lack

      February 11, 2012 at 06:47

      • Thanks for your insightful comments Martin.

        For the record, Hansen also believes (again based on palaeoclimatology not models) that, if we burn all the Earth’s fossil fuels, we will trigger unstoppable warming the Earth has never seen before, initially causing continuous sea level rise for centuries but, ultimately an entirely water-free and life-less planet.

        I had not heard about that theory, and would love to read the book… I’ll see if they have it in our library. I think I’ll need to read it to fully understand your summary. But yes, the point is that I did not factor in the risk that Earth could be unrecoverable damaged, only that it would take a severe temporary blow and then find a new equilibrium, as has happened before (and of course, that would likely mean the end of our civilisation).

        Ps. I hope you noted that I don’t dispute global warming… but that in my opinion, the NASA data showed in the post doesn’t show it because of the short time period temperature has been recorded. My comment was from the outset about how people tend to look at Statistical outputs.

        Anyway, I fully acknowledge that you are an expert on this topic, and I am not (I read your ‘About’).

        Mados

        February 12, 2012 at 01:42

    • “However, the climate has been much warmer in the past…” Correct. However, humans were not around then and the animals that were are all now extinct. There is a good reason for this – it is called mutual incompatability. All existing life on Earth is adapted to the way things are now. The fact that they were once different is irrelevant.

      “…and we are still in a cold period of the climatic cycle.” Incorrect. This is now the second time I have seen someone write this in as many days. Where is this misinformation coming from? (Is it Dr S. Fred Singer by any chance?) We are in an inter-glacial warm period and have been for at least the last 7000 years (i.e. the Holocene Epoch). The Earth’s axis of rotation cannot get much more vertical than it now is (i.e. in its current Milankovitch cycle) and 200 years ago we invented a method of warming the atmosphere that was 10 times more effective. Therefore, unless or until humans go extinct there will never be another Ice Age.

      I know this will sound pompous but, before replying to either of my responses, you may care to visit the About page of my blog to see who you are dealing with.

      Martin Lack

      February 11, 2012 at 07:07

  2. Ps. Correction to dinosaurs – it should be 165 million years.

    Mados

    February 10, 2012 at 02:45

  3. Mados, thanks hugely for such a thought-provoking comment to this Post. Best wishes, Paul

    Paul Handover

    February 10, 2012 at 08:53

    • And Martin, thank you for such a thoughtful reply to Mados. Mados, if you are seeing comments on this Post, your further comments would be most welcome.

      Paul Handover

      February 11, 2012 at 11:33

      • Thanks for your hospitality and for hosting interesting debates, Paul. I do see all comment responses in my comment feed stream… I think…. unless there is a technical glitch or I am on holiday (without my laptop!).

        Mados

        February 12, 2012 at 02:08

  4. Hi again Paul..

    Excellent post full of information Paul… I have read reports recently too of various Volcanic activity around our globe erupting again .. I wonder if many of these, as they start emitting their plumes what effect this has?.. And whether this natural phenomena had an impact in our history as to when it warmed up or cooled down..
    I believe Mankind isn’t helping by belching out pollutants.. But I also feel that Mother Nature has been here and done this before.. And we are just about to be witnesses to a whole New meaning of New Earth..

    Im working my way backwards as usual.. :-)

    Sue Dreamwalker

    February 10, 2012 at 15:02

  5. Oh Sue, what a fabulous Post of yours – just a wow! I’m sure you would love the book, despite me only being 40 pages into it. For example, in the introduction Watson writes, “we can never speak of nature without, at the same time, speaking about ourselves.” referring to that written by Berkeley physicist Fritjof Capra in his book The Tao of Physics.

    You, too, have a wonderful week-end, and beyond – that, of course, extends to all those loved by you! P.

    Paul Handover

    February 10, 2012 at 15:52

  6. Thanks again Martin for taking you time to provide thorough answers.

    “However, the climate has been much warmer in the past…” Correct. However, humans were not around then and the animals that were are all now extinct. There is a good reason for this – it is called mutual incompatability. All existing life on Earth is adapted to the way things are now. The fact that they were once different is irrelevant.

    What I mean is that it will probably be much warmer in any case and we will need to find a way to adapt as a civilisation and deal with the biological costs (for the entire planet) even when we manage to stop making it worse.

    The relevance of Earth being warmer in the past is that life can exist at a higher global temperature/different equilibrium. And yes it is irrelevant to us in the sense that it isn’t the climate we & our current co-life is adapted to, so that fact won’t save us.

    “…and we are still in a cold period of the climatic cycle.” Incorrect. This is now the second time I have seen someone write this in as many days. Where is this misinformation coming from? (Is it Dr S. Fred Singer by any chance?) We are in an inter-glacial warm period and have been for at least the last 7000 years (i.e. the Holocene Epoch).

    Point taken. I looked up your background and will not even bother to look where I had that information from… because it is obviously incorrect (sorry… will do more research next time I open my mouth about a topic, virtually). I also won’t bother look up who Fred Singer is… judging on the tone, his opinions aren’t worthwhile looking up!

    and 200 years ago we invented a method of warming the atmosphere that was 10 times more effective. Therefore, unless or until humans go extinct there will never be another Ice Age.

    That sounds incredible interesting… look forward to read more!

    I know this will sound pompous but, before replying to either of my responses, you may care to visit the About page of my blog to see who you are dealing with.

    Yep, did that. I appreciate your response, it is not pompous.

    Mados

    February 12, 2012 at 02:00

    • (Above comment is in response to Martin Lacks’ comment: February 11, 2012 at 07:07. After some failed attempts to publish it, it ended down here)

      Mados

      February 12, 2012 at 02:03

      • Mados, I am very pleased that you have responded favourably. Most of the time I just seem to engender ever more aggressive and unhinged responses from people whose misconceptions I challenge.

        If you have not got time to read an entire book, before boiling it down to 100 words, I had posted about 7 items followed, more recently, by one item on it. All of the relevant links are available from my Climate science in a nut fragment (6 Feb 2012). I will of course respect your right to check-out the book for yourself…

        For the avoidance of any doubt, when I say “we invented…”, I hope it is clear that I am referring to the fact that, as Hansen points out, the excess CO2 now in the atmosphere is tending to warm the planet up ten times faster than it did when it came out of the last Ice Age 10-12,000 years ago.

        Martin Lack

        February 12, 2012 at 03:30

      • Hi Martin.

        For the avoidance of any doubt, when I say “we invented…”, I hope it is clear that I am referring to the fact that, as Hansen points out, the excess CO2 now in the atmosphere is tending to warm the planet up ten times faster than it did when it came out of the last Ice Age 10-12,000 years ago.

        That was perfectly clear:-) I didn’t think it was a machine you and your mates invented. Although the idea is entertaining on multiple levels!

        Mados, I am very pleased that you have responded favourably. Most of the time I just seem to engender ever more aggressive and unhinged responses from people whose misconceptions I challenge.

        Internet debates tend to evolve into mutual one sided monologues, where no one is willing to listen and everybody just waste their time (angrily). Also, global warming is an extremely complex topic, not really manageable for non-scientist, and in the same time one many have a heated opinion about. As a layman it is hard/impossible to realistically assess evidence presented through links e.t.c, and opinions end up as a sort of faith:)

        Anyway, I don’t see any idea in discussing and not listening & learning.

        Thank you for the link.

        Mados

        February 17, 2012 at 02:26

    • And Mados, a big thank-you for your long and thoughtful contribution.

      Paul Handover

      February 12, 2012 at 13:48

      • You are most welcome Paul!

        Mados

        February 17, 2012 at 02:30

  7. Latest word on organised nature of campaign to deny reality:


    Denialgate – Internal Heartland Documents Expose Climate Denial Funding Network (Skeptical Science 15 Feb 2012)

    Can you believe that the Heartland Institute believe it legitimate to consider countering the “alarmist” message in schools by trying to convince teachers the science is controversial and uncertain and to disuade science teachers from teaching science!…?

    Martin Lack

    February 15, 2012 at 08:50

    • Martin, In my more pessimistic moments I reflect on the Cree prophecy, “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

      Paul Handover

      February 15, 2012 at 09:30

      • Douglas Adams’ description of the Earth appears to have been very apt:
        “Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small, green pieces of paper, which is odd, because on the whole, it wasn’t the small, green pieces of paper which were unhappy”!

        Martin Lack

        February 15, 2012 at 09:42

  8. Nice one!

    Paul Handover

    February 15, 2012 at 09:47

    • Actually, I thought your quote excellent. I had to Google “Cree prophecy” but, thank-you for pointing me in its direction.

      Martin Lack

      February 15, 2012 at 09:58

  9. [...] am very grateful to Paul Handover, over at Learning from Dogs, for bringing the Native American Cree prophecy to my [...]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,189 other followers

%d bloggers like this: