Sunday, December 30, 2007

Higher Temps, Weirder Weather: Welcome to Your New Climate

As the Associated Press reports, 2007 gave us our best taste yet of what climatologists say is coming as our planet warms:
When the calendar turned to 2007, the heat went on and the weather just got weirder. January was the warmest first month on record worldwide — 1.53 degrees above normal. It was the first time since record-keeping began in 1880 that the globe's average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year. [...]

It wasn't just the temperature. There were other oddball weather events. A tornado struck New York City in August, inspiring the tabloid headline: "This ain't Kansas!"

In the Middle East, an equally rare cyclone spun up in June, hitting Oman and Iran. Major U.S. lakes shrank; Atlanta had to worry about its drinking water supply. South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years. And on Reunion Island, 400 miles east of Africa, nearly 155 inches of rain fell in three days — a world record for the most rain in 72 hours.
A separate story paints a detailed and bleak picture of California's climate future.

All this reinforces several key points that seem to get overlooked in the climate change:
  1. Global warming is not an abstract future possibility. It's been already been happening for years. We've just chosen to pretend it's not happening or is not our fault.
  2. Global warming is not just about melting glaciers and threatened polar bears. Changes are affecting all of us. If you're talking with friends about the climate crisis, cite the impacts in your own backyard.
  3. Global warming does not mean it will never be cold anywhere again. Just because it was cold where you live yesterday doesn't mean the planet isn't warming, and just because OshKosh broke a record for most December snow doesn't mean the planet isn't warming (in fact, warmer air can hold more water vapor so if temperatures rise but remain below freezing, you can get higher snowfall).
For more tips on refuting global warming denial, read Grist's How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic.


Chris Schoneveld said...

"Higher temps, Weirder weather" ? Does that imply: "Lower temps, Normal/Stable weather"? What is normal and what is weird? What is your reference? The last few decades, the last few centuries or the last few millennia?

Weather is unpredictable and changes from week to week and from season to season. Climate is as unpredictable but on different time scale. It's fractal!

The Green Miles said...

It's flat wrong to say climate is unpredictable. 26 years ago, James Hansen predicted increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to warming and that we'd see record high temperatures as early as 1990. He was right - every one of the last 13 years has been one of the warmest 17 on record. You're saying that's a coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Ancient priests predicted eclipses while claiming that it was god's work and a sign of whatever nonsense they were selling. Modern frauds predict warming, a natural trend having nothing to do with man and much to do with coming out of the little ice age and solar cycles.

For the last 7 years, there has been no warming, though it will probably continue since we are now entering a period of increasing sunspot activity associated with higher temps. The warmest days of the 20th century were in the 1930s - well before significant CO2 increases.

The modern frauds, like the ancient priests, are pointing to a natural event and claiming to know what it "means" for mankind. And what they claim it means is that we need draconian, totalitarian government control over all human energy use. Nonsense.

Chris Schoneveld said...

Well Hansen had a 50% chance that he would be right as it's either getting cooler or warmer. So with the odds at 50/50 coincidence could indeed play a role, wouldn't you think so?

But I really would have given him credit if he had predicted no warming (as observed but not well known) in the mid troposphere of the Southern Hemisphere (, a clear cooling in the Southern Polar region ( and the now well known warming in the Northern Hemisphere.

If he had enough understanding of the complexity of our climate he should have made that prediction. An arm waving prediction saying it is going to get warmer without a clear GCM that can distinguish between (and accurately predict) climate changes in Northern and Southern Hemisphere is not good enough.

Moreover, as long as Hansen doesn't give an explanation for the early 20th century warming - which was certainly not CO2 driven - I am not ready to accept that the current upward trend is solely CO2 driven.

Chris Schoneveld said...

Ok, Greenmiles you are an environmental activist, and communications professional so you are not familiar with the science. Does that explain why you didn't reply to my post? After all you asked the question if I thought it was a coincidence that Hansen's prediction came true.

Anonymous said...

wasn't it James Hansen whom was worried back in the 70's that we were heading for Global Cooling?

What went wrong? Oh yes that's right, he had a 50% chance of being wrong