3 July 2012
Welcome To The New Climate- NCAR Climate Expert Kevin Trenberth on PBS
Posted by Dan Satterfield
It’s not a proper question to ask if this heat wave is being caused by climate change. Climate change has a hand in all of these extremes now. A better way to think about it is to say that climate change makes these kind of events worse and more frequent. I wrote a piece for the NCAR Currents magazine earlier this year on just this question. Kevin Trenberth at NCAR was on the PBS News Hour tonight and the clip is below.
Record highs are not a sign of climate change, but breaking all time record highs and breaking far more high temperature records than low temperature records is most certainly a sign that the climate is changing. The kind of June we have had this year will eventually become something that happens every few years later in this century. The folks at Climate Central put together a summary of the records and they are nothing less than amazing.
A frequently used analogy is the baseball player on steroids. Can you say that he hit a home run because of the steroids? No, he likely hit quite a few before he was on steroids. The steroids just made it more likely he would knock the ball out of the park. Increasing greenhouse gases make it more likely that we will see heat waves like this.
Can you name the ten hottest years on record? I’ll make it easy, 9 have been in this century. Welcome to a warming world, and your grandkids have seen nothing yet.
I don’t want to sound like some right wing nut job (all though i do lean right) i Belive in climate change, i think you have to be a idiot to not see most of the changes, but why does science always make it like its the end of the world, History tells us the earth was a ball of fire once and then a sheet of ice, its all natural its not all humans fault either. If co2 is the culprit what about volcanos? (not even including so2) Dont get me wrong, i recylce, drive no more then i need, grow and raise most of my own food. the human is only to blame for so much , i know this seems a rant , but its more just the wishes that the argument would be more inclusive of history and the “truth”
I am not sure who “They” are in making it look “like the end of the world”. I try to keep with peer reviewed science here. If you are talking about the common myth that volcanoes produce more co2 than humans ( a favourite claim on Rupert Murdoch news outlets over the past few years) then the facts are easy- Humans emit more CO2 in about 3 days than every volcano in the world produces in a year. There is no doubt on those numbers.
If you want to know what is expected to happen to our climate then read some of the books by the top experts and ignore anything with a political axe to grind. Bob Henson’s book the Rough Guide to Climate is a great first book. I have also recc. many others in previous posts here. One last thing- you need to consider your time scales more closely when thinking about past climates. We are talking about changes in the next 200 years and not the last 60 million. It’s not the changes that are such a worry. It’s the fact that they are happening inside of a few decades. A blink of an eye in geologic time that is the serious problem.
Its hard not to find anything thats not either political or funded by a source who does not have a agenda. I will check out Henson’s book.
The UK Met office has a very good summary of the science out and so does NASA and NOAA.
Dan, Maybe this will help. Professor Jessica Hellmann of University of Notre Dame Biology Department states, “There is no question, Hellmann says, that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen precipitously in the past 100 years, and that this surge continues at ever faster rates.
To emphasize the point, she draws a graph of undulating squiggles on a slip of paper. “This, she says, “is atmospheric CO2 plotted through time. You can see the levels go up-down, up-down, up-down, depending on whether the Earth is in an ice age. So here we are now,” she gestures to a straight-up line shooting off the page. CO2 quite literally is blasting into the stratosphere, and there is no sign of re-entry.
“We already have 40 percent more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than any time in the last 650,000 years. And it’s going up and up, with larger increases in emissions each year. Most people have no idea how drastically different this increase is. It is astronomical. If we don’t slow and eventually stop emissions, climate scientists tell us that within 100 years the climate could become as different from today as today is from the end of the last ice age.”
The greenhouse gas data are so compelling that Hellmann says she doesn’t believe the “Is climate change real?” debate will continue much longer. “Pretty soon we won’t be arguing whether it’s happening. But we’ll likely be arguing who is responsible for how much and what is the right path forward. I think it’s much more reasonable to have substantive disagreements about what to do about climate change, rather than arguing about if it exists or not.”
She is currently writing a book on this.