Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2008: 100% Chance of Alarm About Global Warming

Science columnist John Tierney's prediction in today's NY Times:

In 2008, your television will bring you image after frightening image of natural havoc linked to global warming. You will be told that such bizarre weather must be a sign of dangerous climate change — and that these images are a mere preview of what’s in store unless we act quickly to cool the planet.

Unfortunately, I can’t be more specific. I don’t know if disaster will come by flood or drought, hurricane or blizzard, fire or ice.

Tierney also writes about the "availability entrepreneurs: the activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists who selectively monitor the globe looking for newsworthy evidence of a new form of sinfulness, burning fossil fuels."

When the Arctic sea ice last year hit the lowest level ever recorded by satellites, it was big news and heralded as a sign that the whole planet was warming. When the Antarctic sea ice last year reached the highest level ever recorded by satellites, it was pretty much ignored. A large part of Antarctica has been cooling recently, but most coverage of that continent has focused on one small part that has warmed.

When Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005, it was supposed to be a harbinger of the stormier world predicted by some climate modelers. When the next two hurricane seasons were fairly calm — by some measures, last season in the Northern Hemisphere was the calmest in three decades — the availability entrepreneurs changed the subject. Droughts in California and Australia became the new harbingers of climate change (never mind that a warmer planet is projected to have more, not less, precipitation over all).


At 1/02/2008 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironic post coming from you, Mark. Watching the media flit about the climate phenomena is like watching your hard-sell of Kudlow's "Goldilocks Economy."

When the bank stock index tanks, you switch to indicators of low inflation (money supply growth, actually). When core inflation jumps, you switch to job numbers. When new unemployment claims increase, then you switch to how the low dollar helps our exports. When the dollar increases, you crow that it's a sign the worst is over.

You're the Jiminy Cricket of what I like to call the "Tinkerbell Economy." If we just clap harder, everything will be OK.

At 1/02/2008 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From an article by Lorne Gunter which appeared Sept. 18, 2007 in the National Post:

"Roald Amundsen navigated the Northwest Passage in 1905 in a wooden sailboat with a crew of just 7. The passage was sufficiently ice-free that year for the craft to make it through with little ice breaking capacity.

And in 1944, the tiny RCMP patrol vessel the St. Roch (which can still be seen at the Vancouver Martime museum) sailed from Halifax to Vancouver through the NW passage in a single season - a first - because it met little ice.

In a recport to the Admiralty in 1817, the British Royal Society noted that "the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an inpenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years greatly abated." The "Arctic Seas," it noted were "more accessible than they have been for centuries past," making exploration and trade possible during the summer melt.

This has happened before."

We also had press reports that 2007 was a record warm year announced in November. Since when did December stop being a month in the year.

A recent story on CBC News concerned a team of climatoligists who travelled to Greenland and were taking the temperature of the ocean below the ice. Strangely, the deep ocean temperatures were warmer than the upper ocean temperatures.

There is an oceanic volanic ridge that runs below the Arctic, which is completely unexplored. It would seem that there are many unanswered questions about what is actually happening and what the mechanisms are. Fortunately, we have some very dedicated researchers who despite the media frenzy are trying to understand one of the most complex puzzles of our time.


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