Global Warming Turnaround?

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September 20, 2008

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported on Wednesday ( September 17th) that the 2007 minimum sea ice was probably reached last Friday, September 12th, when “sea ice extent dropped to 4.52 million square kilometers (1.74 million square miles).” This appears to have been the lowest point of the year, as the sea has now begun its annual cycle of growth at the end of the summer season. This is 150,000 square miles less than melted last year. Does this mean the end of global warming, as the sea ice begins to build back up from it’s 2007 level?
I suppose each side of the debate will claim that this is proof of their particular view. Let’s look at the facts as seen by the anti-global warming contingent.
• Climate change is a natural cycle that has reached its maximum and the earth is now turning cooler as evidenced by the sea ice melting less than last year.
• Next year will be even less of an ice melt, therefore we need not do anything drastic to curb CO2 emissions since the earth is now on its own cooling trend.
The pro-global warming contingent says:
• Just because one year has less sea ice melt than the previous year does not mean a sweeping change in the course of climate change.
• This year’s remaining sea ice, though more than 2007, was still the second lowest total amount recorded since satellites started photographing the declining sea ice 30 years ago, and is still 2.24 million square kilometers (860,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum.
• Despite overall cooler summer temperatures, the 2008 minimum extent is only 390,000 square kilometers (150,000 square miles), or 9.4%, more than the record-setting 2007 minimum. The 2008 minimum extent is 15.0% less than the next-lowest minimum extent set in 2005 and 33.1% less than the average minimum extent from 1979 to 2000.
So who are these people who claim we’re losing sea ice at a rapid pace? The NSIDC is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Major funding comes from NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation.
Looks to me like it’s not quite time give up on developing alternates to fossil fuels.
Chicago’s Green Mayor Daley
Mayor Daley’s unveiling of plans on Thursday (Sep. 18th) to change the city’s building codes to promote energy efficiency, to install solar panels on city property, and to build alternative fueling stations prompted a director of the Union for Concerned Scientists to call the plan, “more robust and quantitative than those in any other city.”
With this aggressive plan, the city of Chicago is pledging to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions by 25% below 1990 levels, the base established by the Kyoto Protocol. Kudos to Chicago, and to the other cities that have taken similar steps to reduce greenhouse gasses, instead of waiting for the government or additional or worse natural disasters to convince those on the fence that it is prudent to take action now rather than to continue to wait for what they feel is absolute proof of man’s destructive actions as caretaker of the planet.

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  442. Fred

    Well, I may have put my foot in my mouth. I was trying to relay the story of a very pricipled and dedicated person operating a one-man, remote science station.

    I either read it in National Geographic or Scientific American and it was about a year ago. My stack of magazines is at home in Texas. I am boondocking in the Coronado National Forest in southeast Arizona at the moment.

    I do some checking on the web and get back to you. If not, I’ll be home in a week or so and will check for it there.

    By the way, did you know about the dolphins having made their way from the Mediteranian Sea to the Baltic Sea? Seems the normally cold waters of the Baltic have been warming up for a few years. They are also playing with boats in Northern Germany too. National Geographic Daily Environmental News video November 16, 2007.

    ttyl, Fred

  443. Fred – What bothers me is that considering the man taking samples and keeping records in the Baltic Sea and the carnivorous polar bears when taken alone may not prove one way or the other that global warming exists and what the ramifications may mean if there is. And detractors want to take a single event and use that to disprove the theory. However, when taken together and compared over a long period of research–like the man in the Baltic–the cumulative evidence suggests a definite trend. And using the Sarah Palin example, how long do we wait to take definitive action to reverse the apparent trend, until all the wolves and polar bears are gone? And then what will they say, that those other people were right after all? Great. We won over some converts. But in the meantime there are no more wolves or polar bears.
    One thing that bothers me (only one?) about the financial crisis–and the other crises like energy, foreign oil, global warming, et al–is that with what appears to be a very close presidential election, what the candidates say and do right now is aimed at only one thing, and that is getting votes. I wonder how it otherwise would eventually play out if one or the other was already past the election and in charge, and also what the Congress and Senate might say and do differently if the election was over. Would they do the right thing or the one less apt to register criticism or offer the opportunity for sound bytes to their opponent? I guess we’ll never know. Except for one thing, whatever decisions and actions are taken, it will be severely ridiculed by one side or the other. We’ll be lucky if we don’t enter a period of rising inflation, fiscal waste, the slinging of accusations, and all the other things that will accompany a panic rescue of such magnitude without taking the time needed for debate and fine-tuning that it will take to produce something that really works, is fair, and gives the taxpayers something for their money that is going to bail out this mess.
    Thanks again for your comments.

  444. Fred

    Bob D, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve being eyeing the data in simplified terms for quite a while. National Geographic has been publishing articles for decades.

    They even did a story about a year ago on a older man in the Baltic Sea area that has spent his entire life taking samples for meteorological purposes and keeping meticulous records. His data is like 60 years old. When analyzed, it was quite alarming. He has now passed the “job” onto his son to keep it going.

    I particularly like your motive (3). They have nothing to gain from their efforts. Most field scientists work for a University, a large company or a government agency and draw a normal middle-class salary.

    I worked for 3M Company as a scientist and did my job with joy on a daily basis. When I discovered something, I was thrilled that I had the education and experience, and the inquisitiveness, to guide me to those discoveries. I was compensated well with generous raises and promotions. But, my most rewarding benefit was the recognition. You can’t buy nor sell that.

    I just found this this evening. Polar bears are becoming cannibals because they have lost their territorial ranges due to too little ice and shorter food supply. That is real, every day fact, observable, testable and recorded.

    But, do our leaders listen or even know? Sarah Palin has rejected the idea that the polar bear should be on the Federal endangered list. She doesn’t care much for wolves either. Does she believe that the only predator should be man?

    I retract my asssertion about “consensus”. Perhaps I’ve been steered by the squeaky wheel. By the way, I have nothig against Al Gore. He, more than most, has a wealth of data that is an accumulation of many, many sources.

    Concerning your last sentence, the existing financial mess mirrors exactly what you have said. On that subject, like Lou Dobbs, I don’t think we should bail out anyone without penalty and compensation. Pray hard for Congress to act with wisdom.

  445. Bob Difley

    Rhea – You are right on that, and the problem is that man-caused changes in the earth and its atmosphere might and might not throw everything out of kilter. And which will it be? Scientists can only apply their best educated guesses as to the results, but that doesn’t mean that we can wait to see what those results will be before taking action. If we take action and are wrong, great. But if we do not take action and are wrong, the results could be catastrophic.

  446. Bob Difley

    Fred – Thanks for your extensive comments. As far as the polar ice passage, you are right. It was one of those things that the early polar explorers looked for, the elusive “Northwest Passage” which has now opened up, at least temporarily.
    As for your comment “So far, the consensus is, that there is no consensus.” There is seldom a 100% consensus among scientists. The idea behind publishing theories and hypotheses is to open the concept to peer review, having your peers who are educated and knowledgeable on the subject look for holes or discrepancies in the research or the conclusion. As long as there is any remote possibility that the concept may not be 100% conclusive, there will not be a consensus. Therefore, I tend to go with the averages. If 10% of scientists think global warming is man-caused, I would look at global warming with skepticism. However, when 90% believe global warming is caused by man, I take a more serious notice. That is the case now, the majority of scientists believe that global warming is, at least in part, caused by man made activities. I believe, therefore, that (1) they are more educated and knowledgeable in the subject than I am, (2) they are therefore better equipped to make prognostications of future results and methods to avert, and (3) They are not all out to promote some secret agenda at my expense to make money or acquire power. So I will take the approach that doing something is better than sitting back and waiting for everybody to agree–at which point if they are correct, it will be too late.

  447. Some of the confusion over the erratic climatic events happening on Earth would be reduced if we begin to use the term ‘global climate change’ rather than ‘global warming’. The events do not just have to do with warming. The results of all our plundering of the planet can result in lots of wild fluctuations, some of which are warming, some of which are not.

  448. Robert Mahon

    Wasn’t it only 35 or so years ago the big news was a massive cooling trend? TIME magazine had a cover spread about this very subject.

    “Mother Nature” is not to be underestimated and Alarmists are eternal.

  449. Fred

    Well Bob, good to see you’re still there. You knew I just had to make some comments. Don’t know if this article is of your authorship or if you attribute it to another writer, but it is revealing. The graph is worth a thousand words.

    Don’t forget New York’s Mayor Blumberg wants to install wind turbines all over the City. So, Mayor Daly is now the next big city leader to take action. Ain’t it great?

    I’ve been reading scientific articles for months about the Arctic polar region ice shrinking and it now seems to be separated from Russia, Canada and Greenland. It has opened up ice-free shipping channels that never existed before. It is the first time in recorded history that this has happened. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Al Gore has his statistics and they are probably accurate, but no one in power wants to listen to him. He is thought of as an alarmist.

    Of course no one in power paid any attention to the de-regulation of the banks, insurance companies and big stock market money world-wide – until it was almost too late. My God what a horrible week! And they’re not done yet.

    I believe Global warming is real. It is probably influenced by artificially created excess greenhouse gases, but it can’t be the only variable.

    Nature is way too omnipotent and powerful for us little ol’ poluters to be more than a mosquito bite to her. She creates and destroys all of the elements and compounds in infinite ways over an infinite amount of time.

    World scientists have been hard at work dilligently recording past and present climatelogical data for decades. One of the neatest instruments used is a simple corer which removes a sample of ice that can be dated back thousands of years.

    In those samples are materials found that were deposited in a continuous chronological order. Dust from volcanoes, spore and pollen, fresh water and salt water, gases trapped in bubbles – the list goes on.

    So far, the consensus is, that there is no consensus. There just aren’t enough data over a long enough time to allow factoring in any of the more recent findings as being a major influence on climate.

    However, we must not be complacent (nor alarmed). Steps taken now to reduce, no eleminate, our artificially created compounds would certainly relieve us of our guilt – and of course make it easier to breathe. Take Beijing or Los Angeles for instance.

    Neither of those two cities nor all the rest thrown in have the cubic volume enough to cause more than a temporary pin-prick on the surface-to-space air volume of the planet. The adjustments made by nature are slow, but enormous in scale.

    We see with our own eyes the scum over the major cities and it alarms us. But, what we rarely see, except in pictures, is the volume, thousands of times more deadly, of the huge volcanoe’s poison gases and suffocating ashfall spread over two or three continents via the jet stream and local winds.

    And what about nature’s other unstoppable disasters? Ike did a real job on coastal Texas. Have you been in the path of a massive hurricane? I was in hurricane Camille in Biloxi in 1969. Never again.

    Okay, are these big killers from the last century and now, a result of Global Warming? Well, I don’t know and neither does anyone else.

    When looking at the data of the ocean’s temperatures, – remember the El Ninos? – where they occur, how spread out and at what temperatures, there just isn’t a consistant enough pattern to make a sound judgment.

    In conclusion, we all must make gradual, if uncomfortable, changes in our lifestyles. When done slowly, it doesn’t hurt our psyche as much and eventually becomes habit. Then this generation can pass on the “new, good” habits to the next.

    Just throwing in some alternate possibilities.

    Keep up the very beneficial efforts you make!