Thursday, August 30, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #71 - Part 4

Global warming: Former skeptic says increasing temperatures almost entirely due to human activity

There is so much to talk about, so many things that should be said, that should be covered.

There is the Israeli court that blamed Rachel Corrie for her own killing. I haven't talked about the economy in weeks. There are threats to privacy, both from corporations and the government. There are the interrelated issues of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning. We are seeing increasing restrictions on the right of public protest, including at the GOPper national convention.

But this is something I have been putting off for weeks because something else always seemed more important. I promised myself I was going to include it this week.

It's about global warming, another topic I have talked about a lot but have neglected recently.

A while back, In February, in fact, I told you about Richard Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, who put together a group that he said was going to re-examine all the temperature data on which arguments for global warming had been based because he doubted the data was accurate. Well, this is what happened: The left graph plots the rise in temperatures since the mid-1800s as shown by three different data sets. The right graph shows what happened when Muller's analysis was added. (Click on each for a larger view.)


Muller had to admit that the earlier data was accurate.

So why am I bringing this up now? Because a month ago - which is how long I've been wanting to report on this - Muller wrote in the New York Times "Call me a converted skeptic." He not only agrees that the temperature data is correct, as he did earlier, he now also agrees that "Humans are almost entirely the cause."

It's another example of what happens when someone looks at the data with their eyes instead of their ideological biases. When you do that, there is only one answer that comes out: Global warming is real, it's happening now, and we are in serious, serious trouble.

How serious? Consider this: Climatologists say we should, in fact must, keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius to head off the worst effects of global warming. It's estimated that humans can dump another 565 gigatons or so of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by around 2050 and still have a reasonable hope of staying below that two degree mark.

However, current - not projected, but current - economic plans for oil and gas production and extraction worldwide would add 2,795 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere in that same time. We are in deep trouble.

Meanwhile, the data keeps piling up. Already this year the extent of Arctic Ocean ice is at the lowest level ever recorded - and the ice is going to continue to melt (and so the extent shrink) for some more weeks. Not only is this direct evidence of warming, the impacts could potentially be felt far away. Arctic sea ice helps moderate temperatures further south in both the winter and summer. A study earlier this year in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters linked reduced Arctic sea ice to higher probabilities of extreme weather "such as drought, flooding, cold spells, and heat waves."

And speaking of probabilities, here's a factoid for you to wrap things up for this week: July was the 329th consecutive month in which the average temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th century average for that month. The odds of that occurring by simple chance are one in 3.7 x 1099. Write down a 3, then a 7, and then put 98 zeros after it. A quadrillion is a thousand trillion. So this number is three billion, seven hundred million, quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion. You could think of it as about one-third of a googal, if you like. It's that number on the left and it is a number larger than the estimated number of stars in the universe - and if you deny global warming, those are the odds that you are betting against: one in that many.

Sources: [beginning at roughly 16:30 in the video]

1 comment:

DaisyDeadhead said...

Factory farming is ALSO a huge factor in global warming. You can't expect the meat and fast food industries to take responsibility for what they do, they will fight like hell about those figures. Fast food raised the amt of factory farms over a thousandfold, because so much more CHEAP meat was required to keep the business going on a global scale. The major fast food companies own their own factory farming operations, virtually uninterrupted and unchecked by govt or anyone else... the advent of fast food has big a huge quantum leap forward for global warming and a disaster for the environment. (And of course, for the animals.)

/off vegetarian/Green Party soapbox.

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');