Tag: Skeptical Science

AGW – summing up.

“If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!”

I opened the first post on Monday with the sub-heading: “Certainty is perfect knowledge secure from error or doubt.” going on to write that, “Whatever your views on the effect of man’s behaviours on our planet’s climate, it’s a long way from the logical idea of ‘2 + 2‘!”

Within that very strict definition, I remain unmoved.  The argument that mankind is the cause of the present change in the climate of Planet Earth is not certain!

However, if only life was that simple! The change in our planet’s atmosphere is possibly the most emotionally-laden topic of all time.  For some reason that quotation attributed to Hiram Johnson comes to mind, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” because the supporters and deniers of AGW are engaged in what amounts to a verbal war.

Each side can draw on much information.

For example, a very recent article in The New York Times by their Justin Gillis offered this:

The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.

The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.

But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on. They admit that they do not, even though some potential mechanisms of the slowdown have been suggested. The situation highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system, some of which cannot be closed until we get better measurements from high in space and from deep in the ocean.

As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.

Rarely do they mention that most of the warmest years in the historical record have occurred recently. Moreover, their claim depends on careful selection of the starting and ending points. The starting point is almost always 1998, a particularly warm year because of a strong El Niño weather pattern.

Dan Gomez, a long-time friend of over 40 years and a regular contributor to items on Learning from Dogs, wrote in a recent email,

I’m not sure what is meant by “believer”, Paul.  The Universe unfolds as it should.  Because many have been led to “believe” that AGW is inevitable and that all the facts are the ‘Truth”, we’ve created a religious substitute, almost a new “industry” with significant “tithing” obligations, etc. (e.g. Cap and Trade). Presumptions and facts are being manipulated to fulfill the prophecy.

Interesting to note in our daily lives, that weather prediction is very good 24-36 hrs out.  This drops precipitously just a few days out.  More than 7-10 days is nearly impossible. Even though both Europe and the USA have decreased CO2 levels by multiple percentage points over the last 20 years, the rest of the world does not care and the impact is very problematic.  Recently, CO2 gas has increased overall but heat has not. In the past, warming has occurred followed by CO2 levels increasing. Global politics and redistribution of wealth schemes continue to interfere with common sense.

Let’s just deal with the facts as Science reveals its secrets. New information is discovered every day about the interaction of the  Earth/Sun/Atmosphere/Lithosphere/Hydrosphere. New information is learned every day about the Universe.  These are not closed subjects. Climatology, meteorology, geology and solar system dynamics will continue to shape the Earth’s future for millennia to come whether Man is involved or not.

There is much in what Dan writes that has me nodding my head; stimulates my recollection of what Luther Haave and Derek Alker wrote in 2009:

With the explosion of knowledge, particularly in the past 100 years, each of us has found it a requirement for being successful, and to being able to earn a living, to concentrate our knowledge in an ever increasingly narrow field. Just as we have come to expect others to defer to our expertise in our narrow area, we have come to assume that we need to defer to others who have a deeper comprehension of seemingly complex topics such as the science related to climate change. [Apologies, can’t find the web link for this.]

However, if we broaden the perspective from that tight definition of certainty to an analysis of probabilities, then it all changes for me and I can embrace the views so strongly put forward by Martin Lack.

For example, Martin left a comment on Monday, “ACD is not a matter of opinion or belief; it is a matter of probability. As such, all that matters now is the extremely high probability that the scientific consensus is real, reasonable and reliable.”  That comment included a link to a discussion on the website Skeptical Science, Is the science settled? Let me quote from that:

Some aspects of the science of AGW are known with near 100% certainty. The greenhouse effect itself is as established a phenomenon as any: it was discovered in the 1820s and the basic physics was essentially understood by the 1950s. There is no reasonable doubt that the global climate is warming. And there is also a clear trail of evidence leading to the conclusion that it’s caused by our greenhouse gas emissions. Some aspects are less certain; for example, the net effect of aerosol pollution is known to be negative, but the exact value needs to be better constrained.

What about the remaining uncertainties? Shouldn’t we wait for 100% certainty before taking action? Outside of logic and mathematics, we do not live in a world of certainties. Science comes to tentative conclusions based on the balance of evidence. The more independent lines of evidence are found to support a scientific theory, the closer it is likely to be to the truth. Just because some details are still not well understood should not cast into doubt our understanding of the big picture: humans are causing global warming.

In most aspects of our lives, we think it rational to make decisions based on incomplete information. We will take out insurance when there is even a slight probability that we will need it. Why should our planet’s climate be any different?

That, ultimately, delivers for me what truly counts.

I am not a scientist; just a Brit living in Southern Oregon trying to make sense of the world while I still have a functioning head and body – time is not on my side! 😉  The powerful common-sense in the sentence, “Outside of logic and mathematics, we do not live in a world of certainties.” is beyond argument.

In the year 2012, the total number of passengers carried by US Airlines and other carriers in and out of the USA was a staggering 815 million people. 815,000,000 people!

Remember the sub-heading from the start of this post!  “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!” Years ago I heard that from Bob Derham, a long-time friend and a commercial airline Captain since the time God was a boy!  It’s that cautious, safety-focused attitude that has made airline transport such an amazing mode of transport for all those millions of passengers.

Should we not travel with the same cautious, safety-focused attitude on the ‘vehicle’ that carries every man, woman and child; every animal, plant and living thing: Planet Earth!

The answer is obvious – more than obvious!

Exploring the certainty of AGW!

“Certainty is perfect knowledge secure from error or doubt.”

You may wonder what this post is all about opening, as it does, with a definition of ‘certainty’.

What that definition might imply is that ‘certainty’ is a tantalising ‘will of the wisp’ creature.  Excepting for pure mathematics, of course! “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” – Einstein quotation.

Whatever your views on the effect of man’s behaviours on our planet’s climate, it’s a long way from the logical idea of ‘2 + 2‘!  So when Oakwood, a reader of Learning from Dogs, submitted a long, carefully written comment rejecting Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), the idea came to me that perhaps this comment should stand on its own two feet, so to speak, as a separate post.  I asked Martin Lack, a passionate believer in AGW, to counter the points set out by Oakwood.  Both Martin and Oakwood are scientists; both hydrogeologists.

Now please take a moment to read and assimilate the next few sentences.  The length of the ‘dialogue’ runs to two posts.  Making it without question the longest post that has ever been published on Learning from Dogs.  It is also the most important!  If there is one question above all others for these times, it is the question of whether or not mankind is changing the climate of this planet; the only one we have.

These posts are not an easy read.  They can’t be skim read. They don’t have pictures! But I hope with all my heart that you will settle down today and tomorrow and read each post carefully to the end.

Now to some background information on the two gentlemen.  ‘Oakwood’ is a nom-de-plume.  However, he and I have exchanged emails and I support his need for anonymity. This is how Oakwood describes himself:

  • I am an Earth systems scientist
  • I have followed the AGW scientific arguments on both sides for many years
  • Hydrogeology (my field) and climate science have quite a lot in common, the main one being they require some knowledge and expertise in a wide range of disciplines. It’s not a simple case of saying ‘you are an expert or not’.
  • For example, I need to know quite a bit about chemistry, although I am not an ‘expert chemist’.
  • I am experienced in studying long-time period data, and judging its credibility (this also in common with climate science). Many of the key AGW arguments are based on data and statistics.
  • There are many reasons for being an AGW-sceptic, needing many pages. I give one main example: The ‘divergence problem’ applies to tree ring proxy temperature graphs. Most (perhaps all), proxy graphs cannot reproduce modern temperature data from about the 1980s onwards (in fact the very period of detectable man-made global warming). Because of this, we cannot rely on proxy graphs to conclude now is warmer than the past. Although climate scientists claim the divergence problem is only a modern thing, and does not affect historic data, this is purely a statement or belief. There is no convincing science to back that view.
  • For that reason, I am sceptical of the value of proxy graphs to show current temperatures are unprecedented.
  • I list a number of other brief examples.
  • I do not believe in conspiracy theories and have no problem with climate scientists believing in AGW. But in view of the examples I give, I do have a problem in them saying ‘the science is settled’.
  • There are some benefits from acting on the AGW scare now, such as improved energy efficiency and reduced pollution. There are also negatives, such as wind-farms on pristine countryside and biofuels causing increased hunger.
  • Too much focus on the AGW threat (based on relatively weak scientific arguments) diverts effort and money from more immediate and certain problems.
  • I am an environmentalist who cares about the future of our planet and sustainability. My views on AGW are based purely on the science.

Martin‘s background is encapsulated on his Blog, from which I extract:

I have 25 years of professional work experience, as a geologist and hydrogeologist, in both public and private sectors.

Education:
St Albans School, Hertfordshire, 1976-1983.
BSc (Hons) in Geology (Portsmouth), 1983-1986.
MSc in Hydrogeology (Birmingham), 1989-1990.
Postgrad. Cert. in Education (Keele), 1998-1999.
MA in Environmental Politics (Keele), 2010-2011.

Professional Qualifications:
Fellow of the Geological Society (FGS) since 1992.
Chartered Geologist (CGeol) since 1998.
Member of Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (MCIWEM) since 2000.

Martin’s MA dissertation topic was “A Discourse Analysis of Climate Change Scepticism in the UK“  An abstract of that dissertation may be read here.

So two highly professional persons with diametrically different views.  Here’s the ‘debate’.

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Oakwood

I have been posed a couple of questions [by Martin Lack, Ed.] which Paul has invited me to respond to.

  1. Why do you think the vast majority of relevantly-qualified and active researchers in earth systems science have reached the conclusion that we need to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere as fast as we possibly can because it will get harder to avoid excessive climate change the longer we take to do so?
  2.  Explain why you think the time to act has not yet arrived?

If I may, I’m going to treat those questions more like this:

  1. Why do the majority of climate scientists claim to believe man-made climate change (AGW)  is significant and serious?
  2. Why am I an AGW-sceptic?

Martin Lack

I am grateful to Paul for inviting me to respond to Oakwood’s thesis.

My carefully constructed question was:

Why do you think the vast majority of relevantly-qualified and active researchers in earth systems science have reached the conclusion that we need to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere as fast as we possibly can because it will get harder to avoid excessive climate change the longer we take to do so?

I am very pleased to see that Oakwood does not dispute the reality of a scientific consensus regarding AGW although I prefer – because it is more accurate – to call it anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). Sadly, however, he does not appear to accept its validity. Although I asked Oakwood not to deconstruct the question, he clearly felt it necessary to both deconstruct it and re-word it (emphasis here is mine):

  1. Why do the majority of climate scientists claim to believe man-made climate change is significant and serious?
  2. Why am I an AGW-sceptic?

Right from the start, therefore, Oakwood appears to suggest that the majority of climate scientists are either being stupid, unprofessional, or deceitful. I say this because, by replacing my “have reached the conclusion” with his “claim to believe”, Oakwood would appear to think that the majority of climate scientists have reached a conclusion that is:

  1. Reasonable when it is in fact unreasonable; or
  2. Highly-probable when it is highly-improbable; or
  3. Near-certain when they know it is very uncertain.

Bearing this in mind, let us look at the arguments Oakwood then uses to justify his ‘scepticism’.

Oakwood

I am an ‘earth-systems’ scientist with degrees in Geophysics and Hydrogeology and around 25 years working experience in both those fields, but mostly hydrogeology.

Note: working scientists are every bit as important to our advancement as academics and researchers. Academia is a career choice available to the better scientists. (Though a few ‘duds’ manage to survive by playing the right games.) But many excellent scientists and engineers choose to work in the ‘real world’ where science is applied which often includes active research, written up in reports, but not necessarily in peer-reviewed journals. Those scientists and engineers often have a far more immediate level of responsibility in terms of the quality and implications of their work.

If an academic ‘gets it wrong’, the worst things that may happen are embarrassment, loss of research grant or even loss of job. If a working scientist or engineer gets it wrong, then bridges may collapse, planes may crash, people may be poisoned, etc. Also ‘peer review’ doesn’t mean its right, but just that it adds to the debate.

I have followed the scientific debate for many years, reading much that is written on both sides, including a big proportion of the IPCC reports.

Martin Lack

Oakwood starts by attacking academics for being detached from the real world and suggesting that some  may be “duds” that are just playing games, (although he does not say whom exactly)!

He then attacks the peer review process but fails to provide any reasonable explanation as to why only 24 out of nearly 14 thousand articles about ongoing climate change do not consider human activity to be its primary cause (unless the science is of course near certain).

Oakwood claims to have read a big proportion of IPCC reports (more than me I suspect) but, even so, fails to address the reality that IPCC reports have consistently under-reported the scale and urgency of the problems we face. The AR5 report due out later this year will also do this because it still does not include positive feedback mechanisms causing current rates of change to accelerate.

Oakwood

Very much like hydrogeology, climate science is a multi-disciplinary science dependent on a level of knowledge and expertise in a whole range of disciplines. For example, I need to understand quite a lot about chemistry, although I don’t have a degree in chemistry.

I have to keep learning; by reading, researching, learning from expert colleagues, etc. I also need to know something of maths, statistics, fluid mechanics, weather patterns, computer modelling, microbiology, water treatment, etc.

There are better experts in each one of those subject areas, but that’s their focus and they would not normally be able to pull things together to develop a ‘conceptual model’ of a hydrogeological system.

Martin Lack

Oakwood highlights the similarities between hydrogeology and climate science but fails to mention that both make extensive use of probabilistic computer models (of the kind used by climate scientists). These are models that deal with uncertainty in modelled parameters by being run hundreds if not thousands of times using parameter values picked at random from within user-defined ranges. This produces a range of modelled outcomes with accompanying probabilities of being realised.

Oakwood

There is much overlap between scientific disciplines, especially in ‘Earth systems’. Therefore, to suggest you must be a ‘climate scientist’ to understand all of the scientific and statistical arguments, is incorrect. For example, the hockey stick tree ring studies are principally statistical exercises rather than ‘climate science’, and require an understanding of how the Earth’s climate has changed in the past, which geologists are only too aware of.

As a hydrogeologist, I am very experienced in studying time-series data, and judging whether conclusions drawn from them are plausible and reliable. Of course, my conclusions may not always be correct. Others may disagree with me. But that’s how science develops.

It would take me pages to explain all my reasons for being an AGW-sceptic, so instead I will focus on one key example of where I find a key conclusion unreliable.

THE DIVERGENCE PROBLEM IN TREE-RING TEMPERATURE PROXY STUDIES

I will refer to a ‘typical’ paper by Michael Mann et al, 2008, Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America – PNAS.

Its main conclusions are:

Recent warmth appears anomalous for at least the past 1,300 years whether or not tree-ring data are used. If tree-ring data are used, the conclusion can be extended to at least the past 1,700 years, but with additional strong caveats. The reconstructed amplitude of change over past centuries is greater than hitherto reported, with somewhat greater Medieval warmth in the Northern Hemisphere, albeit still not reaching recent levels.

Thus, they claim their work shows current temperatures are unprecedented in at least the past 1,300 years, including the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). This is extremely important. If current temperatures are not warmer than the MWP, then there is far less reason for alarm about the current climate. For example, we don’t have records of such things as droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.,  being noticeably worse or more common during the MWP. (I know, some will respond: ‘regardless of whether its warmer now, predictions are it will get much worse’. But that is a separate argument). Thus, it seems to be very important to the AGW-case that current temperatures are unprecedented, and changing more quickly than in the past 1,000 to 2,000 years.

Despite, their stated conclusions, their work does not show that now is warmer than the MWP. On their graphs in their Figure 3, current temperatures show as warmer. But the proxy data themselves do not show this. The only data that do are the instrumental data. So if proxy data do not align with instrumental data since the 1980’s onwards, how can we rely on them to show us the MWP was cooler than now? We can’t.

They try to address this with the following statement:

The observed warming rises above the error bounds [ie., the highest possible temperature indicated by proxy data – my words] of the estimates during the 1980s decade, consistent with the known ‘‘divergence problem’’, wherein the temperature sensitivity of some temperature-sensitive tree-ring data appears to have declined in the most recent decades. Interestingly, although the elimination of all tree-ring data from the proxy dataset yields a substantially smaller divergence bias, it does not eliminate the problem altogether. This latter finding suggests that the divergence problem is not limited purely to tree-ring data, but instead may extend to other proxy records.

If you look around at other literature, despite what we hear about ‘settled science’ nobody knows the cause of the ‘divergence’ problem. There is only speculation that it might be something to do with modern air pollution or perhaps CO2 itself.

Here’s what SkepticalScience says:

The divergence problem is a physical phenomenon – tree growth has slowed or declined in the last few decades, mostly in high northern latitudes. The divergence problem is unprecedented, unique to the last few decades, indicating its cause may be anthropogenic. The cause is likely to be a combination of local and global factors such as warming-induced drought and global dimming. Tree-ring proxy reconstructions are reliable before 1960, tracking closely with the instrumental record and other independent proxies.

So, the proxies are “reliable before 1960’s”. But back until when? Around 1880, when temperatures were cooler. There is no evidence whatsoever that the proxies were reliable at other periods of higher temperatures. And we are expected to accept this as ‘settled science’.

In fact, it is possible the divergence problem happens every time it’s warmer. They certainly don’t know this is not the case. The real answer is from very basic statistics:

If the proxy data cannot reproduce the higher temperatures of today, we cannot rely on them to compare with other warmer periods in the past. I don’t care if 99.9% of climate scientists tell me this is acceptable science, I will not agree with them, unless they can produce convincing scientific evidence (not just speculation) to back it up.

(I’ve seen one very comical response more than once: ‘We don’t need recent proxy data to be accurate because we have instrumental data to tell us the temperature.’ For example, a John Havery Samuel says: “A technical concern with one proxy since 1960, when we have perfectly good temperature records already, is an irrelevance.” This COMPLETELY misses the point (and I don’t know whether through ignorance or deliberate distortion). Accurate proxy data today are needed, not to tell us the temperature, but to demonstrate that proxy data are reliable for understanding historical temperatures. That’s simple, basic science. )

Martin Lack

Much of what Oakwood writes is an attack upon the Hockey Stick graph of palaeoclimatic temperature reconstructions first produced in 1998 (MBH98).

However, the fatal flaws in Oakwood’s scepticism regarding MBH98 are as follows:

  1. MBH98 has been validated by at least 14 other reconstructions (as cited in IPCC AR4 in 2007) using a wide variety of other proxy data(see Wikipedia for relevant links)
  2. Hockey Stick-shaped graphs turn up in reconstructions of CO2 levels and temperature – now going back over thousands of years – because they are not ‘statistical noise’ –
  3. Arguments about splicing instrumental data onto proxy data only serve to challenge the extent to which the speed of late 20th Century warming is unprecedented.
  4. Such arguments do not invalidate the conclusion that it is now almost certainly warmer than it has been at any time since the last Ice Age (i.e. a period of relative climate and sea level stability that has made agriculture, urbanisation and civilisation possible).

However, this is no reason for us to be complacent because, as Oakwood must know, the 50 to 100 metres of sea level rise that will be caused by the melting of terrestrial ice sheets will necessitate the mass migration of millions of people. This makes his concerns about current poverty and starvation (i.e. the main reason he eventually cites for not believing action is yet necessary) look very trivial indeed.

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Part two continues tomorrow.

What part of the argument are you missing?

Sometimes one just scratches the head and wonders!

In yesterday’s post, I wrote, “strongly resonated with a recent item on Peter Sinclair’s excellent blog Climate Denial Crock of the Week …”

Here is that item, republished with Peter’s kind permission:

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Global Warming Continues to Accelerate

March 25, 2013

slide12

Skeptical Science:

A new study of ocean warming has just been published in Geophysical Research Letters by Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Källén (2013).  There are several important conclusions which can be drawn from this paper.

  • Completely contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the past 15 years than the prior 15 years.  This is because about 90% of overall global warming goes into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically.
  • Some recent studies have concluded based on the slowed global surface warming over the past decade that the sensitivity of the climate to the increased greenhouse effect is somewhat lower than the IPCC best estimate.  Those studies are fundamentally flawed because they do not account for the warming of the deep oceans.
  • The slowed surface air warming over the past decade has lulled many people into a false and unwarranted sense of security.

The main results of the study are illustrated in its Figure 1.

Figure 1: Ocean Heat Content from 0 to 300 meters (grey), 700 m (blue), and total depth (violet) from ORAS4, as represented by its 5 ensemble members. The time series show monthly anomalies smoothed with a 12-month running mean, with respect to the 1958–1965 base period. Hatching extends over the range of the ensemble members and hence the spread gives a measure of the uncertainty as represented by ORAS4 (which does not cover all sources of uncertainty). The vertical colored bars indicate a two year interval following the volcanic eruptions with a 6 month lead (owing to the 12-month running mean), and the 1997–98 El Niño event again with 6 months on either side. On lower right, the linear slope for a set of global heating rates (W/m2) is given.
Figure 1: Ocean Heat Content from 0 to 300 meters (grey), 700 m (blue), and total depth (violet) from ORAS4, as represented by its 5 ensemble members. The time series show monthly anomalies smoothed with a 12-month running mean, with respect to the 1958–1965 base period. Hatching extends over the range of the ensemble members and hence the spread gives a measure of the uncertainty as represented by ORAS4 (which does not cover all sources of uncertainty). The vertical colored bars indicate a two year interval following the volcanic eruptions with a 6 month lead (owing to the 12-month running mean), and the 1997–98 El Niño event again with 6 months on either side. On lower right, the linear slope for a set of global heating rates (W/m2) is given.

The Data

In this paper, the authors used ocean heat content data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts’ Ocean Reanalysis System 4 (ORAS4).  A ‘reanalysis’ is a climate or weather model simulation of the past that incorporates data from historical observations.  In the case of ORAS4, this includes ocean temperature measurements from bathythermographs and the Argo buoys, and other types of data like sea level andsurface temperatures.  The ORAS4 data span from 1958 to the present, and have a high 1°x1° horizontal resolution, as well as 42 vertical layers.  As the authors describe the data set,

“ORAS4 has been produced by combining, every 10 days, the output of an ocean model forced by atmospheric reanalysis fluxes and quality controlled ocean observations.”

Accelerated Global Warming

As illustrated in Figure 1 above, the study divides ocean warming into three layers for comparison – the uppermost 300 meters (grey), 700 meters (blue), and the full ocean depth (violet).  After each of the Mt. Agung, Chichón, and Pinatubo volcanic eruptions (which cause short-term cooling by blocking sunlight), a distinct ocean cooling event is observed in the data.  Additionally, after the very strong El Niño event of 1998, a cooling of the upper 300 and 700 meters of oceans is visible as a result of heat being transfered from the surface ocean to the atmosphere.

One of the clearest features in Figure 1 is the rapid warming of the oceans over the past decade.  As we have previously discussed, the warming of the shallower oceans has slowed since around 2003, which certain climate contrarians have cherrypicked to try and argue that global warming has slowed.  However, more heat accumulated in the deeper oceans below 700 meters during this period.  The authors describe the ocean warming since 1999 as,

“the most sustained warming trend in this record of OHC.  Indeed, recent warming rates of the waters below 700m appear to be unprecedented.”

Their results in this respect are very similar the main conclusion of Nuccitelli et al. (2012), in which we noted that recently, warming of the oceans below 700 meters accounts for about 30% of overall ocean and global warming.  Likewise, this new study concludes,

“In the last decade, about 30% of the warming has occurred below 700 m, contributing significantly to an acceleration of the warming trend.”

The warming of the oceans below 700 meters has also been identified by Levitus et al. (2012) and Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011), for example.

Some ‘Missing Heat’ Found

Kevin Trenberth past comments about ‘missing heat’ drew considerable attention.  The phrase refers to the fact that the heat accumulation on Earth since about 2004 (e.g. from warming oceans, air, and land, and melting ice) that instruments were able to measure could not account for the amount of global heat accumulation we expected to see, based on the energy imbalance caused by the increased greenhouse effect, as measured by satellites at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

These new estimates of deeper ocean heat content go a long way towards resolving that ‘missing heat’ mystery.  There is still some discrepancy remaining, which could be due to errors in the satellite measurements, the ocean heat content measurements, or both.  But the discrepancy is now significantly smaller, and will be addressed in further detail in a follow-up paper by these scientists.

So what’s causing this transfer of heat to the deeper ocean layers?  The authors suggest that it is a result of changes in winds related to the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and more frequent La Niña events.

Good News for Climate Sensitivity?  Probably Not

Recently there have been some studies and comments by a few climate scientists that based on the slowed global surface warming over the past decade, estimates of the Earth’s overall equilibrium climate sensitivity may be a bit too high.  However, as we previously discussed, these studies and comments tend to neglect the warming of the deep oceans below 700 meters.

Does the warming of the deep ocean support these arguments for lower equilibrium climate sensitivity?  Probably not, as Trenberth explained (via personal communication),

“it contributes to the overall warming of the deep ocean that has to occur for the system to equilibrate.  It speeds that process up.  It means less short term warming at the surface but at the expense of a greater earlier long-term warming, and faster sea level rise.”

So the slowed warming at the surface is only temporary, and consistent with the ‘hiatus decades’ described by Meehl et al. (2011).  The global warming end result will be the same, but the pattern of surface warming over time may be different than we expect.

The real problem is that in the meantime, we have allowed the temporarily slowed surface warming to lull us into a false sense of security, with many people wrongly believing global warming has paused when in reality it has accelerated.

Global Warming Wake Up Call

Perhaps the most important result of this paper is the confirmation that while many people wrongly believe global warming has stalled over the past 10–15 years, in reality that period is “the most sustained warming trend” in the past half century.  Global warming has not paused, it has accelerated.

The paper is also a significant step in resolving the ‘missing heat’ issue, and is a good illustration why arguments for somewhat lower climate sensitivity are fundamentally flawed if they fail to account for the warming of the oceans below 700 meters.

Most importantly, everybody (climate scientists and contrarians included) must learn to stop equating surface and shallow ocean warming with global warming.  In fact, as Roger Pielke Sr. has pointed out, “ocean heat content change [is] the most appropriate metric to diagnose global warming.”  While he has focused on the shallow oceans, actually we need to measure global warming by accounting for all changes in global heat content, including the deeper oceans.  Otherwise we can easily fool ourselves into underestimating the danger of the climate problem we face.

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“Global warming has not paused, it has accelerated.”

Now I should end it there.  But I can’t!

American readers worried about the drought? Do watch this short video from Paul Douglas. (Apologies for the ad. at the start.)

For worldwide readers who have seen the massive changes in ‘normal’ weather this winter, take a look at this, first published on the NASA Earth Observatory website:

arctic_oscillation_nasa_march_2013

arcticoscillation_2013

While a high-pressure weather system brought warmer than normal temperatures to Greenland and northern Canada in March 2013, much of North America, Europe, and Asia shivered through weeks of unseasonably cool temperatures. The contrasting temperatures are no coincidence: the same unusual pressure pattern in the upper atmosphere caused both events.

Atmospheric pressure patterns are constantly in flux, as air masses of differing temperatures and densities move around the skies. One key measure of pressure that meteorologists track closely is known as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index, the difference in relative pressure between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. Changes in the AO have can major impacts on weather patterns around the world.

When the AO index is in its “positive” phase, air pressure over the Arctic is low, pressure over the mid-latitudes is high, and prevailing winds confine extremely cold air to the Arctic. But when the AO is in its ”negative“ phase, the pressure gradient weakens. The pressure over the Arctic is not as low and pressure at mid-latitudes is not as high. In this negative phase, the AO enables Arctic air to flow to the south and warm air to move north.

In late March, the AO dropped as low as -5.6. (See this chart published by the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang to see how this compares with other periods when AO values reached record-low levels).

The temperature anomaly map above, based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite, shows how this affected temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. The map displays land surface temperature anomalies between March 14–20, 2013, compared to the same dates from 2005 to 2012. Areas with above-average temperatures appear in red and orange, and areas with below-average temperatures appear in shades of blue. Much of Europe, Russia, and the eastern United States saw unusually cool temperatures, while Greenland and Nunavut Territory were surprisingly warm for the time of year.

Many parts of the Northern Hemisphere saw near record-breaking cool temperatures as the value of the AO fell. The United Kingdom experienced its 4th coldest March since 1962. In late-March, two-thirds of weather stations in the Czech Republic broke records. Germany saw its coldest March since 1883. And Moscow had its coldest March since the 1950s.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using MODIS data from the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LPDAAC). Arctic Oscillation data from the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. Caption by Adam Voiland.

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Sorry, I know I went on a bit!

Sceptical about global warming? Read this!

Learning from Dogs is not a blogsite about climate change!

Why, you may ask, do I start today’s post with that sub-heading?  Because, I am conscious that many of my posts do touch on this subject.  For example, just two days ago there was Breaking news.  Then there was the piece about the climate implications for Phoenix, Arizona.  Followed the next day by the changes in the flow of the jet stream across the North Atlantic with all the weather implications for North-West Europe.

Indeed, as the heading to today’s post makes clear, this is also about the changes going on to our planet.

Learning from Dogs is about a different way of living and behaving.  A campaign, if one wants to call it that, to show that the way that modern man is living is corrupt.  Not with a big ‘C’ but still in the sense of living a dishonest life.  Learning from Dogs attempts to show that our wonderful dogs, a source of so much love and pleasure for so many millions, offer us an example of a life in and of this planet.

If there was ever a time in the history of man when we needed being reminded of our frailty and vulnerability, it is now.  As the following so starkly illustrates.

Peter Sinclair of Climate Crocks recently republished an item from Skeptical Science that opened up as follows:

A new study of ocean warming has just been published in Geophysical Research Letters by Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Källén (2013).  There are several important conclusions which can be drawn from this paper.

  • Completely contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the past 15 years than the prior 15 years.  This is because about 90% of overall global warming goes into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically.

But what really jumped off the page was this graph.  It is truly scary!

orasa4
Figure 1: Ocean Heat Content from 0 to 300 meters (grey), 700 m (blue), and total depth (violet) from ORAS4, as represented by its 5 ensemble members. The time series show monthly anomalies smoothed with a 12-month running mean, with respect to the 1958–1965 base period. Hatching extends over the range of the ensemble members and hence the spread gives a measure of the uncertainty as represented by ORAS4 (which does not cover all sources of uncertainty). The vertical colored bars indicate a two year interval following the volcanic eruptions with a 6 month lead (owing to the 12-month running mean), and the 1997–98 El Niño event again with 6 months on either side. On lower right, the linear slope for a set of global heating rates (W/m2) is given.

I’m not going to republish the whole piece, although Peter Sinclair kindly gave permission, because I want to move on.  But please do go to that article here and take in the conclusions; for all our sakes.  Conclusions such as:

Their results in this respect are very similar to the main conclusion of Nuccitelli et al. (2012), in which we noted that recently, warming of the oceans below 700 meters accounts for about 30% of overall ocean and global warming.  Likewise, this new study concludes,

“In the last decade, about 30% of the warming has occurred below 700 m, contributing significantly to an acceleration of the warming trend.”

and such as:

Most importantly, everybody (climate scientists and contrarians included) must learn to stop equating surface and shallow ocean warming with global warming.  In fact, as Roger Pielke Sr. has pointed out, “ocean heat content change [is] the most appropriate metric to diagnose global warming.”  While he has focused on the shallow oceans, actually we need to measure global warming by accounting for all changes in global heat content, including the deeper oceans.  Otherwise we can easily fool ourselves into underestimating the danger of the climate problem we face.

What I want to move on to is a recent item highlighted on Grist.  This was an essay by David Roberts under the heading of Two reasons climate change is not like other environmental problems.  David opens by saying:

If you’ll forgive me for stating the obvious: Most people don’t understand climate change very well. This includes a large proportion of the nation’s politicians, journalists, and pundits — even the pundits who write about it. (I’m looking at you, Joe Nocera.)

One reason for the widespread misunderstanding is that climate change has been culturally coded as an “environmental problem.” This has been, in all sorts of ways, a disaster. Lots of pundits, especially brain-dead “centrist” pundits, have simply transferred their framing and conception of environmental problems to climate. They approach it as just another air pollution problem.

David writes that firstly carbon dioxide is not like other pollutants, for example like air particulants.  Then later goes on to say:

The second difference is that climate change is irreversible.

As Joe Romm notes in a recent post, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera slipped up in his latest column and referred to technology that would “help reverse climate change.” I don’t know whether that reflects Nocera’s ignorance or just a slip of the pen, but I do think it captures the way many people subconsciously think about climate change. If we heat the planet up too much, we’ll just fix it! We’ll turn the temperature back down. We’ll get around to it once the market has delivered economically ideal solutions.

But as this 2009 paper in Nature (among many others) makes clear, it doesn’t work that way:

This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years. [my emphasis]

The article is really best read in full. Because it’s a reminder that the way we presently behave is, in so many ways, a scary legacy for future generations.

So, back to dogs!

When dogs were living as wild dogs, thousands of years ago, a typical pack size was between 40 to 50 animals. The ‘head’ dog was the alpha dog, always a female.  Next in status was the beta dog, always a dominant male. The last one in terms of status was the omega dog, or clown dog.  Those genetic traits still survive in the domestic dog.

Pharaoh - still being an assertive beta dog; taken 22 days ago!
Pharaoh – still being an assertive beta dog; taken 22 days ago!

The alpha dog had two important roles as ‘leader of the pack’.  She had first pick of the male dogs, for obvious reasons. (Only much later in life do we human men come to understand that it’s always the woman who chooses!)

The second role was that she was the one who decided that their territory was unsustainable for her pack and signalled the need to find a new territory.

For man, there’s no other territory to move to.  So we will just have to clean up the only one we have!

Modelling the future.

Can we trust the predictive output of computer modelling?

I would be the first to admit that this is not an area where I have anything more than general knowledge.  However, what prompted me to think about this topic was a chance conversation with someone here in Payson.  We were chatting over the phone and this person admitted to being less than fully convinced of the ’cause and effect’ of man’s influence on the global biosphere.

When I queried that, what was raised was the idea that all modelling algorithms used in climate change predictions must incorporate mathematical constants.  I continued to listen as it was explained that, by definition, all constants were, to some degree, approximations.  Take, for example, the obvious one of the constant π, that Wikipedia describes as: a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi, of course, would have to be rounded if it was to be used in any equation.  Even taking it to thirty decimal places, as in 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279, would mean rounding it to 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83280 (50288 being the 30th to 35th decimal places).

OK, so I must admit that I was leaning to the viewpoint that this person had a valid perspective.  I then asked Martin Lack, he of Lack of Environment and a scientifically trained person, for his thoughts.  The rest of this post is based on the information that Martin promptly sent me.

One of the links that Martin sent was to this post on the Skeptical Science blogsite.  That post sets out the common skeptics view, namely:

Models are unreliable
“[Models] are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behaviour in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere.”  (Freeman Dyson)

The author of the Skeptical Science posting responds,

Climate models are mathematical representations of the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, ice – and the sun. This is clearly a very complex task, so models are built to estimate trends rather than events. For example, a climate model can tell you it will be cold in winter, but it can’t tell you what the temperature will be on a specific day – that’s weather forecasting. Climate trends are weather, averaged out over time – usually 30 years. Trends are important because they eliminate – or “smooth out” – single events that may be extreme, but quite rare.

Climate models have to be tested to find out if they work. We can’t wait for 30 years to see if a model is any good or not; models are tested against the past, against what we know happened. If a model can correctly predict trends from a starting point somewhere in the past, we could expect it to predict with reasonable certainty what might happen in the future.

So all models are first tested in a process called Hindcasting. The models used to predict future global warming can accurately map past climate changes. If they get the past right, there is no reason to think their predictions would be wrong. Testing models against the existing instrumental record suggested CO2 must cause global warming, because the models could not simulate what had already happened unless the extra CO2 was added to the model. All other known forcings are adequate in explaining temperature variations prior to the rise in temperature over the last thirty years, while none of them are capable of explaining the rise in the past thirty years.  CO2 does explain that rise, and explains it completely without any need for additional, as yet unknown forcings.

I strongly recommend you read the full article here.  But I will republish this graph that, for me at least, is a ‘slam dunk’ in favour for modelling accuracy.

Sea level change. Tide gauge data are indicated in red and satellite data in blue. The grey band shows the projections of the IPCC Third Assessment report (Copenhagen Diagnosis 2009).

Not only does this show that the data is within the range of projections of the modelled output, more seriously the data is right at the top end of the model’s predictions.  The article closes with this statement:

Climate models have already predicted many of the phenomena for which we now have empirical evidence. Climate models form a reliable guide to potential climate change.

There is a more detailed version of the above article available here.  Do read that if you want to dig further down into this important topic.  All I will do is to republish this,

There are two major questions in climate modeling – can they accurately reproduce the past (hindcasting) and can they successfully predict the future? To answer the first question, here is a summary of the IPCC model results of surface temperature from the 1800’s – both with and without man-made forcings. All the models are unable to predict recent warming without taking rising CO2 levels into account. Noone has created a general circulation model that can explain climate’s behaviour over the past century without CO2 warming. [my emphasis, Ed.]

Finally, back to Lack of Environment.  On the 6th February, 2012, Martin wrote an essay Climate science in a nut fragment.  Here’s how that essay closed:

Footnote:
If I were to attempt to go even further and summarise, in one single paragraph, why everyone on Earth should be concerned about ongoing anthropogenic climate disruption, it would read something like this:

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 reductions. As such, the range of 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 projection scenario that most-closely reflects what has since happened to emissions, one finds that the modelled prediction matches reality very closely indeed.

In his email, Martin included these bullet points.

  • Concern over anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is not based on computer modelling.
  • It is based on our understanding of atmospheric physics (and how the Earth regulates its temperature).
  • Computer modelling is based on this physics (which we have understood for over 100 years).
  • Models have been used to predict temperature and sea level rise for a range of projections for CO2 emissions. 
  • The wide range of predictions was due to uncertainty in those emissions projections not uncertainties in climate science. 
  • This can be demonstrated by looking at predictions made over 20 years ago in light of what actually happened to emissions.
  • The model predictions for both temperature and sea level rise are very accurate (if not slightly under-estimating what has happened).

Sort of makes the point in spades!  The sooner all human beings understand the truth of what’s happening to our planet, the sooner we can amend our behaviours.  I’m going to pick up the theme of behaviours in tomorrow’s post on Learning from Dogs.

Finally, take a look at this graph and reflect!  This will be the topic that I write about on Thursday.

Are you negligent, incompetent or complicit?

A guest post from Martin Lack points to the crux of the issue of denying man-caused climate change.

Introduction

I saw this post on Martin’s Blog Lack of Environment the day after I wrote a piece called In praise of fairness.  In my piece I mentioned the sad case of Mr. Bob Diamond and Martin continued with the theme in such a manner that I wanted to republish his article in full.  Here it is.

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Are you negligent, incompetent or complicit?

This was a question posed to former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond this week, when he appeared before a Parliamentary Select Committee of MPs on Wednesday. It is a question that I would like to ask Dr Richard Lindzen… In fact, I have asked the question and – just as Bob Diamond did – he has refused to answer it… Here is the evidence on which you should decide for yourself:

Many readers will recall that, following my visit to London to hear Lindzen speak to a room full of fake sceptics in the Palace of Westminster on 22 February this year, I attempted to get some answers to questions. Unfortunately, I failed. I have been particularly frustrated by one thing; possibly the most misleading aspect of Lindzen’s entire presentation – a combination of graphs of recent atmospheric CO2 and temperature data that was mysteriously omitted from the PDF of the presentation that was initially posted on the Internet.  Although Lindzen never answered any of my questions, he did insert this slide into the PDF of his presentation despite my pointing out to him – MIT and the AGU – that it was essentially meaningless (as the y-axes could be stretched to show either correlation or no correlation as preferred by the speaker).

Here is a screenshot of the misleading graph from the video of the presentation:

Misrepresentation of data?
Steeply inclined Keeling curve versus apparently non-correlating temperature – if you stretched the temperature axis enough it would appear to correlate quite well. Therefore slide neither proves not disproves anything.

This bears more than a passing resemblance to the World Climate Widget – a very similar-looking combination of graphs (i.e. manipulated to suggest that there is no correlation between recent atmospheric CO2 and temperature data) – that can be downloaded as a widget from Anthony Watts’ Watts Up With That? (WUWT) misinformation blog.

If you go to the WUWT widget page, you will find the two graphs in both of these images (above and right) are there presented separately. However, to prove my point – that anyone using these graphs to try and prove there is no correlation between long-term CO2 and temperature changes – just look at what happens when you take the graph of University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) global lower atmosphere data as used by WUWT (i.e. cooler than surface temperature data) and stretch it:

Clearing the fog of data misrepresentation created by Lindzen et al. - Note the clear upward trend in the temperature graph on the left (it was there all the time).
Clearing the fog of data misrepresentation created by Lindzen et al. – Note the clear upward trend in the temperature graph on the left (it was there all the time).

Therefore, for anyone – including Lindzen – to try and use the original combination of graphs to suggest there is no correlation between CO2 and temperature, this suggests that they are either negligent, incompetent, or deliberately trying to mislead people. For many people who are not scientists to be fooled by this is understandable but, for a prominent scientist like Lindzen to make this mistake – and not apologise for doing so – is unforgivable. Furthermore, it would seem that, no matter how many times he is criticised, he just keeps repeating the same old mistakes: Skeptical Science: Lindzen and Choi 2011 – Party Like It’s 2009

It would appear that, despite the best efforts of the majority of prominent climate scientists, Lindzen’s London Illusions are still fooling a lot of people. If you follow that last link, it will take you to the website of what I prefer to call The Global Wonky Policy Foundation, where it is reported that only 43% of the British adult population felt able to agree with the following statement: “Global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities”.

It has been suggested to me that this question is carefully phrased to deter people from saying “yes” (i.e. they might agree that warming is occurring and/or that humans are the primary cause; but they might not agree that vehicles and factories are the primary source of emissions). However, this is ‘clutching at straws’ in my opinion; and leaves me wondering what percentage of the population would feel able to agree with this statement:

“The sunrise is a fact and is mostly caused by the Earth not being flat and spinning once a day whilst orbiting the Sun”…?

oooOOOooo

I’m very grateful to Martin for allowing me to republish this.

Reply to a skeptic

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

I came across this wonderful quotation on a blogsite called Wibble!  It was a comment to a post with the compelling title of It is vitally important not to make connections and explains that the quote was made by Dr. Seuss in the film The Lorax.

For me that quotation sums up how I would like to reply to not only my dear friend, Dan Gomez, who is a denialist of anthropogenic climate change, as last Monday’s Post illustrated, but also to skeptics everywhere else.

I should also add the important qualifier that I am neither a scientist nor have any expert skills in the relevant areas.  But, then again, neither does Dan.  He and I are both citizens of Planet Earth with a passion for the truth.

So where to go from here?  There is no question that the Earth’s climate is complex and endeavouring to understand ’cause and effect’ relies heavily on mathematical models.  But many complex aspects of our world are treated similarly, therefore so what!  Dan and I share with millions of others a lack of scientific competence, ergo we have to be rely on the scientific views expressed by those who do have the scientific competencies.

Would one challenge the competence of Scientific American magazine, that in an article on March 18, 2007, (five years ago!) opened thus,

Paris–The signs of global climate change are clear: melting glaciers, earlier blooms and rising temperatures. In fact, 11 of the past 12 years rank among the hottest ever recorded.

and continued later with this, [my emboldening]

For example, after objections by Saudi Arabia and China, the report dropped a sentence stating that the impact of human activity on the earth’s heat budget exceeds that of the sun by fivefold. “The difference is really a factor of 10,” says lead author Piers Forster of the University of Leeds in England: compared with its historical output, the sun currently contributes an extra 0.12 watt of energy for each square meter of the earth’s surface, whereas man-made sources trap an additional 1.6 watts per square meter.

Or what ‘influence’ might be at play when the British newspaper The Guardian reported earlier this year that,

Wall Street Journal rapped over climate change stance

, US environment correspondent

The Wall Street Journal has received a dressing down from a large group of leading scientists for promoting retrograde and out-of-date views on climate change.  In an opinion piece run by the Journal on Wednesday, nearly 40 scientists, including acknowledged climate change experts, took on the paper for publishing an article disputing the evidence on global warming.

The offending article, No Need to Panic About Global Warming, which appeared last week, argued that climate change was a cunning ploy deployed by governments to raise taxes and by non-profit organisations to solicit donations to save the planet.

It was signed by 16 scientists who don’t subscribe to the conventional wisdom that climate change is happening and is largely man-made – but as Wednesday’s letter points out, many of those who signed don’t actually work in climate science.

Later in that article Suzanne writes, referring to the 40 scientists, [again, my emboldening]

The letter goes on to note that some 97% of researchers who actively publish on climate science agree that climate change is real and caused by humans. It concludes: “It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses.”

There’s much, much more evidence that shows that the science is clear – mankind is risking the future viability of this planet for the species homo sapiens and countless other species!

One of the important points made by Dan in that Post last Monday was about the book, written by Senator James Inhofe, The Greatest Hoax.  Dan wrote, “This is all about money and power, not weather.

There are a number of independent websites across the world where one can quickly research the credentials and background by name of any person.  Try Skeptical Science as an example.  A quick enquiry using Senator Inhofe’s name came up with this: Quotes by James Inhofe – Climate Myth/What the Science Says.  Read It!  And read this on the website Think Progress.  There are other websites where one can do that type of research.

In an email just a day ago, Dan wrote, “My message/warning remains the same: “Follow the Money”.  When the “End-of-the-World” is the message, what politician can resist?”  If only it was that easy.

OK, I’m going to start rounding this all off by first asking you to watch this 4-minute video that I came across thanks to Pedantry’s blogsite Wibble.

A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never!

Next I’m going to repeat something that I have previously mentioned on Learning from Dogs.  There’s a saying in the aviation industry, “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!”  That saying underpins the culture that has turned commercial air transport into one of the safest means of travel in history.

Let’s ponder that idea of doubt.

There is no question that there is a great deal of doubt.  Back in 2010 Gallup Poll reported that “42% of adults worldwide who see global warming as a threat to themselves and their families in 2010 hasn’t budged in the last few years“.

Would you get into a commercial airliner to fly from ‘a’ to ‘b’ if 42% of the passengers saw the flight as a threat to themselves?  No, of course not!

So one certainly wouldn’t fly then if 62% thought it was risky!  From here,

The newest study from the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, which is a biannual survey taken since fall 2008 and organized by the Brookings Institute, shows that 62 percent of Americans now believe that man-made climate change is occurring, and 26 percent do not. The others are unsure.

So back to the theme that started this Post.  For the sake of all of us on this planet, for all our children and grandchildren and beyond, we need to start caring deeply about the future, changing our life-styles in as many ways as we can and demanding that our politicians and leaders are similarly committed to the future.

Not because the future is anything like certain – but to reduce the risks of a global catastrophy.  I have a grandson who will be one-year-old on March 21st.  I want to be certain that he has a viable life ahead of him for many, many years.  That means caring ‘a whole awful lot‘, letting hope motivate me to change, and recognising that change is already taking place, as the following trailer so superbly demonstrates.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”