What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 24, 2010

The Trib, Global Warming, And The Facts

As usual whenever the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's editorial board writes about climate change, the facts rarely if ever interfere with the discussion. Today's no different. Take a look:
Given all the absurd assumptions about man-made "global warming," it was inevitable someone would suggest that recent earthquakes and now Iceland's ash-belching volcano might have some correlation to climate change.

And yet such nonscientific nonsense from the media -- surely they must know of the science they speak -- draws believers to the church of global warming much like a carnival sideshow attracts local yokels.

In an interview with CNN senior State Department producer Elise Labott, NPR's Diane Rehm raised the question of "human involvement" in recent geologic calamities. To which Ms. Labott eagerly played the global warming card, given all the "wacky weather ... that's just a microcosm for what's happening around the world."

Except no one has proven that extreme weather is linked in any way to greenhouse gas emissions (although CO2 always gets blamed -- except when temperatures plummet). Now the same climate changes above ground might somehow affect the movement of Earth's tectonic plates and/or magma flow miles below?

Even in his best doomsday mode, Ozone Al Gore would have trouble selling that pitch. Yet some bloggers are buying this bilge, likening the scenario to a horse that swats flies with its tail.

Indeed. This is precisely the stuff of global warming that draws flies.
Let's start first with the Diane Rehm show. As usual, the Trib selectively quotes in order to spin. Here's the audio. And at about 41 minutes in we hear:
Caller from Newbury Ohio: Good morning. This is a thought question. The Icelandic eruption caused me to think. We have all these earthquakes - at the south pole, in China, in Haiti like all over the globe. And big earthquakes. And I am wondering if the amount we have extracted from beneath the surface over the centuries of oil and coal and all the other materials, has disrupted our balance.

Diane Rehm: We do wonder what's going on. How to explain mother nature and whether there is human involvement in all of these eruptions, earthquakes, storms.

Woman's voice: And how much global warming has a role in it. You know we've seen a lot of wacky weather here in Washington but that's just a microcosm for what's happening around the world and how much is climate change is contributing to earthquakes and volcanic ash. It's a really good question.

Non-British Man's voice: It's interesting that the authorities have assured us that this recent spake of earthquakes not caused by any man made factor but I get the feeling more and more that we don't really know. And what we're learning about climate change is that we didn't really know and we're learning more and more about the role that humans play in it.

British man's voice: They're certainly coming thick and fast but historically they've come thick and fast before. But if I were recording this program in California I think I'd be getting nervous.
Hardly the most scientific of discussions, let's be honest. But they still are just asking the question. And while it seems silly to wonder whether something happening (and it is happening, no matter what Scaife's braintrust tries to assert) above the surface of the planet could possibly have anything to do with events occurring beneath that surface, there, in fact, is some evidence pointing in that direction. Take a look:
This may just be the start of it. For vulcanologists are warning that there may be more, or bigger, Icelandic eruptions – like the one that has shut down air traffic in Europe for days – over the next decades as the world heats up. They say that melting icecaps, by taking a great weight off the surface, are likely increasingly to free magma from deep underground.
“Global warming melts ice and this can influence magmatic systems”, Dr Freysteinn Sigmundsson, of the Nordic Volcanological Centre at the University of Iceland, told Reuters. “Our work suggests that eventually there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in Iceland in coming decades.”

Dr Carolina Pagli, of Leeds University, agrees. Her research suggests that rocks cannot expand to turn into magma when they are under the kind of high pressure exerted by being under an icecap. But, she says, “as the ice melts the rocks can melt because the pressure decreases.” And Prof Andrew Hooper, an expert on Iceland’s volcanoes at Delft University adds that as the ice sheets shrink, “we should expect more frequent voluminous eruptions in the future.”
But what do these people know? They're just scientists. Anyway, they do point out that the eruption in Iceland probably doesn't have anything to do with melting ice caps. The ice cap it was under was too small to exert the pressure they were talking about.

Then there's the part about how no one's "proved" the link between more CO2 in the atmosphere and more extreme weather patterns. Someone should tell that to the State of Washington's Department of Ecology:
Recent climate modeling results indicate that "extreme" weather events may become more common. Rising average temperatures produce a more variable climate system. What can we expect with weather changes? Localized events could include
  • windstorms
  • heat waves, droughts
  • storms with extreme rain or snow, and
  • dust storms.
What creates more extreme weather?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) from cars, industries and power plants trap heat near the earth's surface. More heat means more energy. Adding so much energy to the atmosphere creates the potential for more extremes.
Or the British Government:
Rising Temperatures and the Greenhouse Effect

Climate change causes extreme weather and temperature rises

The scientific community agrees – climate change is happening and human activity is almost certainly the cause. In the last 100 years the Earth has warmed by 0.74°C (and by 0.4°C since the 1970s), meaning that global sea levels have gone up, glaciers and sea ice has melted, floods and droughts are on the increase, and heatwaves are worse. Moreover, we are committed to further unavoidable climate change from this past rise in temperature, including further sea level rises for centuries to come.
So. When you look back at what Scaife's braintrust writes, it seems kinda silly, huh?

Yea, I know - again.


Conservative Mountaineer said...

"... global sea levels have gone up, glaciers and sea ice has melted, floods and droughts are on the increase, and heatwaves are worse. Moreover, we are committed to further unavoidable climate change from this past rise in temperature, including further sea level rises for centuries to come."

Aaaaarrrgh!!! We're all gonna die from global warming.

Or not.

EdHeath said...

CM, you know, we all do know the Day After Tomorrow is fiction. But ...

Perhaps large areas of the globe near the equator will be rendered uninhabitable, or at least much less productive agriculturally. Suppose India is one the affected areas. How many refugees could we see fleeing starvation in India, and where would they go?

But then I remember you made a comment about the poor being stupid. So I guess they just get what they deserve. A short painful life, marked by desperate hunger and occasional violence (depending on the location).

Conservative Mountaineer said...

Ahh, the old twist a former comment trick..

I said there will always be poor people and there will always be stupid people. Mutually exclusive. Neither depends on the other.

Thanks for playing.

EdHeath said...

I don't remember the "Mutually exclusive. Neither depends on the other", but ... the old twist, rewriting history, a familiar conservative ploy. But don't worry, you get to claim to be all sensitive and still sneak in the message of how it is only stupid people who are poor (and that's why it is OK to take advantage of them, take their money and keep them in their ghettos).

Just like telling scientists that they don't know what they are talking about. Because people like you know better than both the scientific community and anyone to the left of Mitch McConnell, we are going to continue to burn gas, coal and natural gas like they are going out of style. If we are really lucky, your special dream will come true, and nuclear waste can be stored in all those pesky ghetto's, so all those irritating residents who haven't shot each other while scrabbling over the few scraps they have can get busy dying sooner of cancer.

That's a science you can believe in.