Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Scientist Heidi Cullen: Human Actions Have Warmed All Continents

Regarding global warming, we’re familiar with the skepticism of such climate scientists as Sarah Palin and John Boehner, and the denial that is a hallmark of studies funded by the David and Charles Koch, oil magnates, major polluters and supporters of right-wing causes. Dr. Heidi Cullen, scientist at the journalism and research organization Climate Central, presents a grim picture of what is being denied and the consequences of continued denial:

Every 10 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recalculates what it calls climate “normals,” 30-year averages of temperature and precipitation for about 7,500 locations across the United States. The latest numbers, released earlier this month, show that the climate of the last 10 years was about 1.5 degrees warmer than the climate of the 1970s, and the warmest since the first decade of the last century. Temperatures were, on average, 0.5 degrees warmer from 1981 to 2010 than they were from 1971 to 2000, and the average annual temperatures for all of the lower 48 states have gone up.

For climate geeks like me, the new normals offer a fascinating and disturbing snapshot of a restless climate. The numbers don’t take sides or point fingers. They acknowledge both powerful natural climate fluctuations as well as the steady drumbeat of warming caused by roughly seven billion people trying to live and prosper on a small planet, emitting heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the process. 

...Heat-trapping pollution at least doubled the likelihood of the infamous European heat wave that killed more than 30,000 people during the summer of 2003, according to a study in the journal Nature in 2004. And if we don’t ease our grip on the climate, summers like that one will likely happen every other year by 2040, the study warned. Human actions have warmed the climate on all seven continents, and as a result all weather is now occurring in an environment that bears humanity’s signature, with warmer air and seas and more moisture than there was just a few decades ago, resulting in more extreme weather.


Jon R., editor of the Oracle said...

She's just a scientist - what does she know?

Who are you going to believe, her or the great white manatee of the airwaves?

Jeff Tone said...

Right, Jon–especially when the great white manatee is on the "fair and balanced" network!

Michael The Molar Maven said...

This past Friday on my way home from broadcasting SJI my radio was set to WOR-AM. Steve Malsberg was on talking about the heat. I came in in the middle of his "monologue" about not equating this heat wave with a human component. He speculated that there is a 10% chance that there is this human component to climate change. Then he asked and answered, "would you turn our economy topsy-tervy on a 10% chnace? No, of course not!" He never substantiated his claim about the 10% chance - where that number came from - but he went on for more than 10 minutes. I guess if you repeat misinformation often and loud enough it automatically becomes validated. As Thomas Friedman pointed out, 98 out of every 100 peer-reviewed scientists - Dr. Cullen is a prime example - believe that there is a definite human component to climate change, but the "fair and balanced" approach is to bet on the 2. I'm not going to Atlantic City with any of these guys.