“Welcome to the Rest of Our Lives”

July 3, 2012

The Washington Post, along with the rest of the mainstream media, has failed us spectacularly on the most important issues of my lifetime, and of the millennium. Better late than never, Eugene Robinson’s piece today was spot on.

Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post:

Still don’t believe in climate change? Then you’re either deep in denial or delirious from the heat.

As I write this, the nation’s capital and its suburbs are in post-apocalypse mode. About one-fourth of all households have no electricity, the legacy of an unprecedented assault by violent thunderstorms Friday night. Things are improving: At the height of the power outage, nearly half the region was dark.

-

Yes, it’s always hot here in the summer — but not this hot. Yes, we always have thunderstorms — but never like these. The cliché is true: It did sound like a freight train.

According to scientists, climate change means not only that we will see higher temperatures but that there will be more extreme weather events like the one we just experienced. Welcome to the rest of our lives.

This is the point in the column where I’m obliged to insert the disclaimer that no one event — no heat wave, no hurricane, no outbreak of tornadoes or freakish storms — can be definitively blamed on climate change. Any one data point can be an anomaly; any cluster of data points can be mere noise.

The problem for those who dismiss climate change as a figment of scientists’ imagination, or even as a crypto-socialist one-worldish plot to take away our God-given SUVs, is that the data are beginning to add up.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the past winter was the fourth-warmest on record in the United States. To top that, spring — which meteorologists define as the months of March, April and May — was the warmest since recordkeeping began in 1895. If you don’t believe me or the scientists, ask a farmer whose planting seasons have gone awry.

There comes a point where anomalies can start looking like a trend. What much of the country has seen the past few days is no ordinary heat wave. Temperatures reached 105 in Raleigh,106 in Atlanta and 108 in Columbia, S.C., and Macon, Ga.109 in Nashville — all-time highs.

-

Meanwhile, the most destructive wildfires in Colorado history were destroying hundreds of homes — a legacy of drought that left forests as dry as tinder. Changes in rainfall and snowfall patterns in the West cannot, of course, be blamed on climate change with any certainty. But they are consistent with scientists’ predictions.

It becomes harder to ignore those predictions when a toppled tree is blocking your driveway and the power is out.

One other observation: As repair crews struggle to get the lights back on, it happens to be another sunny day. Critics have blasted the Obama administration’s unfruitful investment in solar energy. But if government-funded research managed to lower the price of solar panels to the point where it became economical to install them on residential roofs, all you global warming skeptics would have air conditioning right now. I’m just sayin’.

UPDATE:

How the heck did this AP report make it onto the Fox News Website?

WASHINGTON –  If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.

Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.

These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.

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“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level,” said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. “The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.”

Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in fire-charred Colorado, said these are the very record-breaking conditions he has said would happen, but many people wouldn’t listen. So it’s I told-you-so time, he said.

As recently as March, a special report an extreme events and disasters by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of “unprecedented extreme weather and climate events.” Its lead author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University, said Monday, “It’s really dramatic how many of the patterns that we’ve talked about as the expression of the extremes are hitting the U.S. right now.

 

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63 Responses to ““Welcome to the Rest of Our Lives””

  1. Peter Mizla Says:

    the problems we have with an atmosphere gorged with C02 will become worse.
    the extreme events we are now beginning are from C02 in the late 80s when it had passed the ‘balance’ of 350ppm- as each year goes by we will see 370. 380 and so on- the inertia in the system takes time to be seen. It will not be a pleasant 4th of July when that 397ppm is reflected in our climate- 25-30 years from now- we can only hope by then we are not sitting on 450-500ppm–

    we have entered a new climatic ‘paradigm’- its only going to get much uglier.


  2. Rayduray-meet Dave burton. Others know him as the guy who is a self-appointed expert on sea level rise and member of the north Carolina political group, nc-20. That is group,of coastal businessmen with vested interests in denying sea level rise. Also, Dave seems to think observing one local tide gauge tells all there is to know about global sea level. Shades of Anthony watts wuwt.

  3. daveburton Says:

    Thanks for the intro, Christopher. I am, indeed, a sea level expert. However, I don’t limit my attention to just one NC tide gauge. Moreover, you are confused about what NC-20 is; I suggest that you read the NC-20 web site to correct your misconceptions.

    There is a lot of confusion about sea level rise. Much of it results from misunderstanding the findings of a key paper, Church, J. A., and White, N. J., 2006, “A 20th Century Acceleration in Global Sea-Level Rise.” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, L01602, 4 PP. DOI: 10.1029/2005GL024826

    Church & White fit a quadratic to averaged and adjusted tide gauge data, and detected a small acceleration in rate of sea level rise for the 20th century as a whole. But I reanalyzed their data, and it turns out that all of that acceleration occurred in the first quarter of the 20th century (and the late 19th century). After 1925, their data showed a small deceleration in rate of sea level rise, rather than acceleration.

    Since nearly all of the anthropogenic contribution to CO2 levels occurred after 1925, that means Church & White detected no acceleration in rate of sea level rise in response to anthropogenic CO2.

    In 2009, Church and White released a new data set, based on a different set of tide gauges. I applied the regression analysis method which they’d used in their 20065 paper (minimum-variance unbiased estimator quadratic fit) to the new data. I found that it not only showed deceleration in sea level rise after 1925, all of the acceleration in sea level rise for the full 20th century was also gone. I shared my results with Drs. Church & White, and on June 18, 2010, Dr. Church replied, confirming my analysis: “For the 1901 to 2007 period, again we agree with your result and get a non-significant and small deceleration.”

    In 2011, Church and White released a third data set. This one shows a very slight acceleration in sea level rise after 1925, though much smaller in magnitude than the deceleration seen in their other data sets. The post-1925 acceleration in this data set, if it continued to 2080, would add just 0.8 inches of sea level rise, compared to a linear projection.

    • daveburton Says:

      typo correction:
      s/20065/2006/

    • otter17 Says:

      If you have such an air tight case, submit your results as a rebuttal paper to the Journal of Geophysical Research.

      • daveburton Says:

        It’s in Natural Hazards.

        • otter17 Says:

          Ah, can’t cut it with Journal of Geophysical Research so, going with an open access journal that nobody has ever hear of before. Classy.

          • daveburton Says:

            No, it’s a Springer journal, and not open access. (But I also put a pre-print on Nature Precedings.)

            There’s a link to download all the code and data, so you can easily reproduce the results, if you doubt that it’s airtight.

          • otter17 Says:

            Considering your completely off-the-wall anti-science statements you have made here before, color me skeptical of your claims.

            Nevertheless, we’ll see.

          • daveburton Says:

            What will you see?

          • otter17 Says:

            Whether the paper gets cited, provides adequate evidence for its conclusions, etc.

          • daveburton Says:

            The code and data is on my server. I encourage you to try to find some error in my work.


    • daveburton wrote:

      ” I am, indeed, a sea level expert.”

      I’ve had it with you. You’ve demonstrated no grasp to this point of fundamental concepts in the science of climate change, you lack scientific credentials, and yet you present yourself as an expert? Either you are accustomed to persuading some remarkably gullible people or you are a fantasist.

      You know, it really pisses me off. My beloved USA is going to have a rough time in the coming years because of climate change. We could be creating another century of American greatness, innovation, and leadership in the world. Instead you would have us devolve to a second-rate nation with a third-world economy.

      There, I said it.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “There, I said it”.

        You did indeed, but maybe you haven’t noticed that daveburton is no longer with us on Crock? Although he may be able to read postings in general, you will never really know if he sees this specific one because he is likely “banned” from receiving messages as they are posted.

        (PS As a daveburton hater from nearly the first time I read his crap, I would not have been as kind as you were. I was coming to believe that he was perhaps a disciple of the antichrist, if any such thing exists).


  4. OK Dave, you asked for it. Unless you can refer to something else besides a comment in the journal Natural Hazards, I see no peer-reviewed paper authored by you. Please advise to the exact paper, reference, date, etc. Be kind to your readers and show the link. More than happy to review it. Otherwise, a google search yields a comment in Natural Hazards.

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.0146.pdf

    Here is a reply to your comment:

    http://theseamonster.net/2012/06/the-nc-sea-level-rise-saga-reply-to-dave-burton/

    and another great source of sea level and sea related info

    http://theseamonster.net/

    • daveburton Says:

      Christopher, when otter17 thought it was unpublished, he questioned whether or not my result was “airtight.” John Church confirmed the central findings, but if you nevertheless have any doubts then I encourage you to try to identify an error. The code and data are all available in one big .zip file on my server, for easy download.

      That “reply to Dave Burton” you cite is written by an Associate Professor in the UNC Biology Dept. But he wasn’t replying to the J. Natural Hazards article, he was replying to part 1 of this “rebuttal” of mine, which I wrote in response to some of the nonsense on the “SeaMonster” blog:

      http://www.burtonsys.com/climate/bruno_rebuttal_2012-06-16.html

      The misinformation and censoring of comments on his SeaMonster blog was why I posted my “rebuttal” on my own web site. He took the unusual step of closing his “reply” to comments, to try to get the last word. (He doesn’t care for peer-review, either.)

      In my rebuttal, I had explained the principle of buoyancy (a/k/a Archimedes’ Principle) as applied to warming ocean surface water, which was apparently a new concept to him. In his “reply” he called it “crazy logic.”

      I’m not kidding. This guy, with his degrees and his UNC “scientist” credentials, who’s apparently never heard of Archimedes’ Principle, labels as “anti-science” everyone who wants gov’t regulations to conform to real scientific data.

      I’ve not done a comprehensive survey, but in my experience most Climate Movement blogs (like SeaMonster) are heavily censored, to prevent comments from people who hold differing opinions and have good evidence for them. ClimateCrocks is a rare exception to that rule. (Thanks, Peter!) The ones run by academics seem to be the worst; I don’t know why.

      • greenman3610 Says:

        I queried John Church on this matter. He does not want to join our discussion but
        gave me permission to quote him thus:
        ” sea level rise is unambiguous and there is agreement amongst the scientific community that the rate is about 1.7 mm/yr for the 20th century.

        There is also agreement that the 20th century rate is substantially larger than the rate for the 19th century.

        In our most recent work on a long sea-level reconstruction we find an acceleration from the start of the record in 1880 to 2009 and also from 1900 to 2009.”

        good enough for me.
        I trust no one will try his patience and good will with further questions on this matter. If I find out anyone is harassing him they will be banned.(by harassment, I mean further questions to him related to this discussion. end of story)

        • daveburton Says:

          I agree that the 20th century rate is larger than the 19th century rate.

          I do not agree that the 20th century average rate is 1.7 mm/year.

          For one thing, that number includes a 0.3 mm/year “adjustment” from Peltier for hypothesized sinking of the ocean floor. Even if the number is right (which is possible) it makes no sense at all to make such an adjustment and call the sum “sea level” rise, if you define sea level as the level of the top of the ocean — which everyone does. Subtract that erroneous adjustment and 1.7 becomes 1.4.

          Another problem is that long term tide gauge coverage is far too sparse in much of the world to be that precise. I found that the SLR trends at tide gauges which are more than 800 km apart are no more correlated than at tide gauges half a world apart. Thorough coverage would require tide gauges spaced about every 500 km along all the world’s oceanic coasts, with > 60 years of reliable data at each gauge. We just don’t have enough good, long-term tide gauge records, especially in the southern hemisphere, to be confident about the rate of sea level rise to such precision.

          Most studies have found 20th century rates between 1.0 and 2.0 mm/year. I’m comfortable with that. I calculated a geographically weighted average of the SLR trends from NOAA’s list of 159 best long term trend tide gauges equal to 1.1 mm/year. That’s pretty close to the 1.4 mm/year, which is Dr. Church’s number if you subtract Peltier’s GIA adjustment for a sinking ocean floor.

          Did Dr. Church tell you that his 2009 dataset showed a very slight deceleration from 1901 to end-of-record (2007)? Well, it did, as he has confirmed.

          Also, both his 2006 and 2009 datasets showed significant deceleration from 1925 to end-of-record.

          His 2011 datasat shows a very tiny acceleration from 1925 to end-of-record, but the magnitude of that acceleration is much smaller than the post-1925 deceleration seen in his 2006 and 2009 datasets.

          As for your threat to ban me, be advised that Dr. Church and I have corresponded extensively, and he has been quite helpful to me. You are way out of line trying to tell me who I may or may not correspond with.

          P.S. — Peter, please feel free to delete either of my two nearly identical posts; I didn’t intend for you to approve them both.

    • daveburton Says:

      {Aside to Peter: sorry, I botched the HTML in the previous version of this comment, which is awaiting moderation; please just delete it. -Dave}

      Christopher, when otter17 thought it was unpublished, he questioned whether or not my result was “airtight.” John Church confirmed the central findings, but if you nevertheless have any doubts then I encourage you to try to identify an error. The code and data are all available in one big .zip file on my server, for easy download.

      That “reply to Dave Burton” you cite is written by an Associate Professor in the UNC Biology Dept. But he wasn’t replying to the J. Natural Hazards article, he was replying to part 1 of this “rebuttal” of mine, which I wrote in response to some of the nonsense on the “SeaMonster” blog:

      http://www.burtonsys.com/climate/bruno_rebuttal_2012-06-16.html

      The misinformation and censoring of comments on his SeaMonster blog was why I posted my “rebuttal” on my own web site. He took the unusual step of closing his “reply” to comments, to try to get the last word. (He doesn’t care for peer-review, either.)

      In my rebuttal, I had explained the principle of buoyancy (a/k/a Archimedes’ Principle) as applied to warming ocean surface water, which was apparently a new concept to him. In his “reply” he called it “crazy logic.”

      I’m not kidding. This guy, with his degrees and his UNC “scientist” credentials, who’s apparently never heard of Archimedes’ Principle, labels as “anti-science” everyone who wants gov’t regulations to conform to real scientific data.

      I’ve not done a comprehensive survey, but in my experience most Climate Movement blogs (like SeaMonster) are heavily censored, to prevent comments from people who hold differing opinions and have good evidence for them. ClimateCrocks is a rare exception to that rule. (Thanks, Peter!) The ones run by academics seem to be the worst; I don’t know why.

      • otter17 Says:

        Reading your correspondence with Dr. Bruno, you appear more like a guy lending his programming skills to a political activist organization, rather than someone trying to advance scientific knowledge.


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