Suggestions that global warming has stalled are a “diversionary tactic” from “deniers” who want the public to be confused over climate change, according to the world’s best-known climate scientist. The Guardian reports Prof James Hansen, who first alerted the world to climate change in 1988, said on Friday: “It is not true that the temperature has not changed in the two decades.”
Since 1998, when the Niño climate phenomenon caused global temperatures to soar, the rate of increase in warming has slowed, causing some sceptics to suggest climate change has stopped or that the effect of rising carbon dioxide levels on climate is not as great as previously thought.
Prof Hansen, speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, rejected both arguments. “In the last decade it has warmed only a tenth of a degree compared to two-tenths of a degree in the preceeding decade, but that’s just natural variability. There is no reason to be surprised by that at all,” he said. “If you look over a 30-40 year period the expected warming is two-tenths of a degree per decade, but that doesn’t mean each decade is going to warm two-tenths of a degree: there is too much natural variability.”
Prof Hansen said the focus by some on “details” was a smokescreen. “This is a diversionary tactic. Our understanding of global warming and human-made climate change has not been affected at all,” he said. “It’s because the deniers [of the science] want the public to be confused. They raise these minor issues and then we forget about what the main story is. The main story is carbon dioxide is going up and it is going to produce a climate which is going to have dramatic changes if we don’t begin to reduce our emissions.” In 2008, scientists anticipated an upcoming slowing in temperature rises.
Prof Hansen, who recently stepped down from his Nasa post after almost 50 years to focus on communication, said the forecast impact of climate change was little affected by the recent slowdown in the rate of rising temperatures.
“Climate is a complicated system but there is no change at all in our understanding of climate sensitivity [to carbon dioxide] and where the climate is headed,” he said. “Our understanding of sensitivity is based on the Earth’s history, not on climate models, and we have good data on how the Earth responded in the past when carbon dioxide changed. So there is no reason to change the forecast for the long term.” On 9 May, a new study of lake sediments from a remote meteorite crater in Siberia showed temperatures in the region were 8C higher the last time CO2 levels were as high as they are today. Last week, atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached the milestone 400 parts per million, for the first time in millions of years.
Prof Hansen has caused controversy in the past with statements including “CEOs of fossil fuel companies should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature” and the assertion that “coal-fired power plants are factories of death“.
- Tom Zeller Jr.: Scientists Agree (Again): Climate Change Is Real (huffingtonpost.com)
- Study consensus for global warming (bigpondnews.com)
- Hansen Says Tar-Sands Oil Makes Climate Change Unsolvable – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- AUDIO: Has global warming stalled? (bbc.co.uk)
People waking up in the Australian Outback Friday morning, along with other parts of the Pacific, were among the lucky few to witness a “ring of fire” solar eclipse, as the moon slipped between the Earth and the sun, covering everything but a blazing ring of light around the edges.
(DETAILS: Solar Eclipse Turns Sun into ‘Ring of Fire’)
The eclipse lasted between three and six minutes, depending on its location, and blacked out around 95 percent of the sun at its peak.
Source: The Weather Channel
- ‘Ring of fire’ eclipse crosses Australia, Pacific (miamiherald.com)
- ‘Ring of Fire’ solar eclipse puts on a dazzling show in Australian Outback (science.nbcnews.com)
- Solar Eclipse: ‘Ring of Fire’ Eclipse Expected in Australia on Friday (scienceworldreport.com)
- ‘Ring of fire’ eclipse crosses Australia, Pacific (nzherald.co.nz)
FLIGHTS will become bumpier as global warming destabilizes air currents at altitudes used by commercial airliners, climate scientists warned yesterday.
“Climate change is not just warming the Earth’s surface, it is also changing the atmospheric winds ten kilometers high, where planes fly,” said study co-author Paul Williams of the University of Reading‘s National Centre for Atmospheric Science in southeastern England.
“That is making the atmosphere more vulnerable to the instability that creates clear-air turbulence,” he said by email.
“Our research suggests that we’ll be seeing the ‘fasten seatbelts’ sign turned on more often in the decades ahead.”
Turbulence is mainly caused by vertical airflow – up-draughts and down-draughts near clouds and thunderstorms.
Clear-air turbulence, which is not visible to the naked eye and cannot be picked up by satellite or traditional radar, is linked to atmospheric jet streams. The jet streams are projected to strengthen with climate change.
The study authors used supercomputer simulations of the North Atlantic jet stream, a strong upper-atmospheric wind driven by temperature differences between colliding Arctic and tropical air.
The jet stream affects traffic in the aviation corridor between Europe and North America – which is one of the world’s busiest.
They found that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from pre-industrial levels, predicted within 40 years, would cause turbulence to be 10-40 percent more forceful at typical cruise altitudes.
“Turbulence strong enough to make walking difficult and to dislodge unsecured objects is likely to become twice as common in transatlantic airspace by the middle of this century,” said Williams.
- Climate change ‘will lead to bumpier flights’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Bumpy passage ahead (ttrweekly.com)
- Fasten seatbelts for bumpier flights – climate study (business.inquirer.net)
- Climate change will lead to bumpier flights, say scientists | Environment | guardian.co.uk (thelastdaysofplanetearth.co.uk)
- Climate change predicted to cause more in-flight turbulence for passengers (rawstory.com)
CLIMATE CHANGE: The world is hottest it has been since the end of the ice age – and the temperature’s still rising…
The world is now warmer than at almost any time since the end of the last ice age and, on present trends, will continue to reach a record high for the entire period since the dawn of civilisation, a study has found. The Independent reports
A reconstruction of global temperatures going back 11,300 years, which covers the historical period from the founding of the first ancient cities to the space age, has concluded the biggest and most rapid change in the climate has occurred in the past century.
Scientists found that the warm period following the end of last ice age, called the Holocene, peaked about 5,000 years ago when the world began to get cooler. However, this cooling went into a dramatic and sudden reversal about a century ago when global temperatures shot up to levels not seen for thousands of years, the scientists found.
The study, published in the journal Science, further undermines the frequent argument put forward by climate “sceptics” that global temperatures now are no higher than they were in previous centuries, long before the increase in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.
It also found that if carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase, even at the more moderate levels predicted by some climatologists, global temperatures by 2100 will have reached levels not seen at all during the entire period when humans developed agriculture, invented writing, first practised science and started the industrial revolution.
“We are heading for somewhere that is far off from anything we have seen in the past 10,000 years – it’s through the roof. In my mind, we are heading for a different planet to the one that we have been used to,” said Jeremy Shakun of Harvard University, a co-author of the study.
Previous studies have attempted to estimate global temperatures over the past 2,000 years using “proxy” records, such as tree rings and pollen samples, in place of direct readings, which only began with the invention of thermometers in the 19th Century.
“We already knew that on a global scale, Earth is warmer today than it was over much of the past 2,000 years,” said Shaun Marcott of Oregan State University in Corvalis, the lead author of the study of global temperatures.
“Now we know that it is warmer than most of the past 11,300 years. This is of particular interest because the Holocene spans the entire period of human civilisation,” Dr Marcott said.
The latest study extended the proxy temperature record back to the end of the ice age using data gathered from 73 sites around the world, based mainly on extrapolations of temperatures from fossils recovered from cores drilled into ocean sediments, as well as other terrestrial archives.
The scientists said that the chemical and physical characteristics of the fossils, which included the type of species and the isotopic composition of the material, can provide a reliable estimate of surface temperatures at that site when these life-forms were alive.
The study concluded that global temperatures gradually rose after the end of the ice age for about 6,000 years due to changes in the tilt of the Earth’s axis, which brought more solar radiation to the northern hemisphere in summer.
This warming trend reached a peak about 5,000 years ago when cooling began to lower average global temperatures by about 0.8C. However, around the start of the 20th Century this trend went into reversal, with global temperatures increasing by 0.8C – but over decades rather than millennia.
“Global temperature, therefore, has risen from near the coldest to the warmest levels of the Holocene within the past century, reversing the long-term cooling trend that began about 5,000 years before present,” the study says.
Candace Major, program director of the US National Science Foundation, which funded the study, said: “This research shows that we’ve experienced almost the same range of temperature change since the beginning of the industrial revolution as over the previous 11,000 years of Earth history – but this change happened a lot more quickly.”
- Recent Global Temperature Rise is Fastest in 11,000 Years since Last Ice Age (scienceworldreport.com)
- Study: Warming fastest since ice age (science.nbcnews.com)
- Warming fastest since dawn of civilization, study shows (science.nbcnews.com)
- World warmer now than ever, study claims (nzherald.co.nz)
2012 was the year from hell for the environment, according to some. ‘Humans seem to have an unfortunate tendency to be short sighted’ says Linda Buzzell gives her opinion in Huffpost. I agree!
We have evolved to respond to the immediate, local crisis while ignoring larger, more general threats to our collective survival.
We’re still cleaning up the expensive messes left by this year’s storms, droughts and wildfires but can’t seem to fathom or adequately respond to the implications of the radical shifts in global climate conditions that threaten not only those currently alive, but the survival possibilities for our children and grandchildren — and millions of other species around our small planet that are dying at the rate of 200 species a day.
Instead, we focus on what seems a more immediate threat: the economic “fiscal cliff.”
What we don’t seem to understand is that, as economist Herman Daly once said, “the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment.” A healthy economy cannot long exist on an unhealthy planet.
Here’s the deal: we live in harmony with the rest of nature or we do not live.
Most of us alive on the planet right now have never been part of a community living in healthy partnership with the rest of nature, and we’ve forgotten how to do it. Luckily, there are guidelines we can follow and visions to give us inspiration as we adjust our collective way of living on this planet to assure future survival.
A book I received as an early Christmas present gives me hope that we can make the needed changes: Choosing a Sustainable Future: Ideas and Inspiration from Ithica, NY by Liz Walker (New Society Press, 2010). We know how to do this! Some of us are already doing it and we can learn from them. In fact, for many of the 100,000+ years of human existence we’ve known how to do this – and those who get it wrong often don’t last long.
The rules are simple: Human communities are an integral part of their local ecosystems and if we destroy those life support systems, we cannot survive.
How many years do we have left to remember or figure out how to live in harmony with the rest of nature? Some environmental scientists say we’re already out of time. According to their measurements, we’re already experiencing the early rapids at the lip of the environmental cliff and need to focus on building lifeboats and deploying parachutes.
But we’d rather focus on other, seemingly more important (or seemingly controllable) things — like the Fiscal Cliff.
- Lee Harris – 2013 Year Of Community – 31 December 2012 (lucas2012infos.wordpress.com)
- Who will get this economy going? No one (resilience.org)
- Global Warming Unlikely to Cause Near-Term Extinction of Amazon Tree Species (theepochtimes.com)
- 2012.. Worst ever Year for the Planet (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)
- A stray planet (spacedaily.com)