What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 16, 2011

From Our Friends Down Under

A website from Australia called "The Conversation" is undertaking a two-week long series on the science of climate change - with an eye towards the "skeptics" who are looking to "cloud the debate."

From the introduction:
The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes.

Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.
Not that this'll change Rick Santorum's mind, of course. But let's continue. The Conversation describes the issue:
A vast number of scientists, engineers, and visionary businesspeople are boldly designing a future that is based on low-impact energy pathways and living within safe planetary boundaries; a future in which substantial health gains can be achieved by eliminating fossil-fuel pollution; and a future in which we strive to hand over a liveable planet to posterity.

At the other extreme, understandable economic insecurity and fear of radical change have been exploited by ideologues and vested interests to whip up ill-informed, populist rage, and climate scientists have become the punching bag of shock jocks and tabloid scribes.

Aided by a pervasive media culture that often considers peer-reviewed scientific evidence to be in need of “balance” by internet bloggers, this has enabled so-called “sceptics” to find a captive audience while largely escaping scrutiny.

Australians have been exposed to a phony public debate which is not remotely reflected in the scientific literature and community of experts.

Beginning today, The Conversation will bring much-needed and long-overdue accountability to the climate “sceptics.”
Americans, too.

The first post is on the Greenhouse Effect:
It would be easy to form the opinion that everything we know about climate change is based upon the observed rise in global temperatures and observed increase in carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution.

In other words, one could have the mistaken impression that the entirety of climate science is based upon a single correlation study.

In reality, the correlation between global mean temperature and carbon dioxide over the 20th century forms an important, but very small part of the evidence for a human role in climate change.

Our assessment of the future risk from the continued build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is even less informed by 20th century changes in global mean temperature.

For example, our understanding of the greenhouse effect – the link between greenhouse gas concentrations and global surface air temperature – is based primarily on our fundamental understanding of mathematics, physics, astronomy and chemistry.

Much of this science is textbook material that is at least a century old and does not rely on the recent climate record.
For good measure, they point out some evidence anyway. They point out that Venus is extremely hot, in large part due to greenhouse gases. They point out that temperature change is "uniquely" associated with greenhouse gases, such as:
  • greater warming in polar regions than tropical regions
  • greater warming over the continents than the oceans
  • greater warming of night time temperatures than daytime temperatures
  • greater warming in winter compared with summer
  • a pattern of cooling in the high atmosphere (stratosphere) with simultaneous warming in the lower atmosphere (troposphere).
And so on.

Of course none of this is true because some stolen emails in England were talking about "fixing" the tree ring data.

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

Now that everyone agrees about the severity of the problem of climate change, we need to get to the hard work of designing policy that includes voluntary encouragement of consumers adopting the "low hanging fruit" measures such as using cfl's, replacing appliances (as they wear out) with the most energy efficient appliances available, carpooling, taking the bus or biking to work where possible. We also need to encourage people to cut down on their consumption of meat (beef, fowl, pork), since factory farms also contribute heavily to greenhouse gases. We will need to establish the right mix of financial incentives and disincentives to change our energy production and consumption to a more sustainable level. And finally we need to persuade developing nations to change their development paths to a more sustainable path.

All that will be very hard work, but we can finally get started now that everyone has accepted what the scientific community is telling us about climate change ...

Oh wait ...