with Peter Sinclair
We’re watching sea level rise in action. Not a good time to buy beachfront property. But for most Americans, it’s just a curiosity since it’s happening way over there somewhere. That will change, of course, starting with coastal America. Sandy made believers out of a lot of East Coast people. The midwest, however, is stuck in denial even with the 18 month drought they’ve had. People don’t want to connect the dots. They will eventually, but it may be too late.
Brought to you by ATI, Heartland and Cato!
I listened to a radio interview with Orlowski and Balog a week earlier and their description of a huge calving 5 football fields long led me to see the film. That calving was early on in the movie and, while awesome, left me a little disappointed. Nowhere, anywhere, was there anything to prepare for this incredibly massive calving towards the end of the film. Even when they superimposed the outline of Manhattan onto the film (not shown in the clip above) did it begin to convey the scale and even then it just didn’t compute.
I’m left to wonder, though: I’ve no doubt this is far and away the largest calving ever caught on film but is an event like this ONLY explained by global warming? I’m not a skeptic, I fully accept AGW and I’ve no doubt this calving occurred within the context of AGW and loss of the glaciers.
But, still, is it reasonable to assume that events like this happen “naturally”, sometime, somewhere, even in the absence of natural climate change? Or, is all “normal” calving known, by theory and experience, to be predictably on the smaller scales that we’re accustomed to?
Calving like this is not “ONLY” explained by global warming. There are lots of conditions that have to be met for something like this to happen. If we look at the last 4.5 billion years, this has undoubtedly happened before. In fact it’s likely happened in the past 50 million years quite a few times.
While we can’t prove it definitively, events like the extreme calving seem to have been rare since modern humans emerged. Has the human race seen circumstances like this before? Something similar might have happened, but not often.
The Climate System is still catching up. We’ve forced more heat and more contaminants onto our planet faster than has EVER happened since humans have existed. One way to look at how fast we’re changing things is to compare the average temperature change leading up to one of the global extinctions. The average temperature change leading up to the most recent global extinction was between 4 to 7 degrees over the course of 5,000 years. Since 1900 our average temperature change has been around 0.7 degrees.
It might sound like a small rise in temperature, but the rates of temperature change are more telling. Doing the arithmetic, the average temperature change per decade around extinction events was about 0.008 degrees per decade. Since 1900 we’ve been averaging a 0.06 degree per decade change. (Per the European Environment Agency). So that 0.7 degree change is over 7 times as fast as the events leading up to the last great extinction even.
Our rate of change in the last decade has grown from 0.06 to 0.20 degrees, making the rate of change about 25 times the last global extinction event. As a cross check to that number, our current rate of species extinction is actually around 45 times the normal “background” rate.
Thinking about it this way, we’re changing the planet faster than an extinction event that wiped out 2/3 of all land species and nearly 90% of all marine species. Roughly 7 times faster.
Please tell your friends and your representatives that we need to address this now. We’re already close to a quarter of the way there, and the climate system doesn’t change with the flip of a switch. And because of CO2′s long “hang time” in the atmosphere, it will take hundreds of years to straighten out what we’ve already done.
Let me know if you want references, I’ve already typed too long here so I’ve left them out.
“tweetingdonal”, typing the references would take longer than your excellent summary.
Thanks! I was braced for the Morano/Monckton attack, a compliment sorta throws me off balance!
tweetingdonal, I appreciated your comment so much I have pilfered it and featured it at my blog. I hope you and Peter don’t mind. I would appreciate the references you mention. mike.
[...] December 14, 2012 at 12:33 am [...]
The Guardian has a review up on “Chasing Ice”:
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