Wednesday, May 03, 2006

 

Some more thoughts on global warming (I did talk about this before, right?)

The NYT published an article reporting on the results of a study commissioned by the Bush admin. The study, excerpted below and located here NYT Article, concludes that global warming is real and that human being are a cause.
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A scientific study commissioned by the Bush administration concluded yesterday that the lower atmosphere was indeed growing warmer and that there was "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system."

The finding eliminates a significant area of uncertainty in the debate over global warming, one that the administration has long cited as a rationale for proceeding cautiously on what it says would be costly limits on emissions of heat-trapping gases.

But White House officials noted that this was just the first of 21 assessments planned by the federal Climate Change Science Program, which was created by the administration in 2002 to address what it called unresolved questions. The officials said that while the new finding was important, the administration's policy remained focused on studying the remaining questions and using voluntary means to slow the growth in emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide.

The focus of the new federal study was conflicting records of atmospheric temperature trends.

For more than a decade, scientists using different methods had come up with differing rates of warming at Earth's surface and in the midsection of the atmosphere, called the troposphere. These disparities had been cited by a small group of scientists, and by the administration and its allies, to question a growing consensus among climatologists that warming from heat-trapping gases could dangerously heat Earth.

The new study found that "there is no longer a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere," in the words of a news release issued by the Commerce Department and approved by the White House. The report was published yesterday online at climatescience.gov.

The report's authors all agreed that their review of the data showed that the atmosphere was, in fact, warming in ways that generally meshed with computer simulations. The study said that the only factor that could explain the measured warming of Earth's average temperature over the last 50 years was the buildup heat-trapping gases, which are mainly emitted by burning coal and oil.

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But Dr. Christy, who teaches at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said the report also noted that computer simulations of the climate system, while good at replicating the globally averaged temperature changes, still strayed in projecting details, particularly in the tropics.

This implied that the models remained laden with uncertainties when used to study future trends, he said.

Dr. Christy also said that even given what the models projected, it would be impossible to slow warming noticeably in the coming decades. Countries would be wise to seek ways to adapt to warming, he added, even as they seek new sources of energy that do not emit heat-trapping gases.
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I wonder how the right, and particularly the right blogosphere, will now deal with the issue. No GW and DEFINITELY no anthropogenic causes have been articles of faith of the right for years now. I think we get a clue from Christy’s last words in the article – we can’t do anything but learn to cope with climate change.

I don’t know why we’d now listen to the same people who have been so wrong for so long as they try to tell us what to do about global warming.

2 years ago NPR interviewed Christy. This is the short version of the interview, “Christy is a respected climatologist, but he's also a maverick who argues that global warming isn't a problem worth worrying about. His major contribution has been to analyze millions of measurements from weather satellites, looking for a global temperature trend. He's found almost no sign of global warming in the satellite data, and is confident that forecasts of warming up to 10 degrees in the next century are wrong.”

Well, Dr. Christy, why should we listen to you now?

Jake

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