Climate Fact of the Week: Nine out of the ten hottest years in that 132-year record are within the last ten years. According to the NASA record, it’s been 28 years since the globe experienced temperatures cooler than the 1951-1980 average.
Climate Quote of the Week: "Humans are almost entirely the cause" of climate change, according to Physics Professor Richard Mueller, a scientist who one doubted that global warming even existed
Post No. 7, part 2, of this 13 part series on climate change will provide additional perspective on how we know man’s activities are responsible for changing the climate.
Previous and upcoming posts are listed below for reference. Past post titles will link to back to the original post.
- Why I Write: How I became interested in the climate issue
- “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”? What do these mean, and what’s the diff?
- A Brief Guide to the Climate Debate: The debate that isn’t
- Conversation with Dr. Michael Mann: Summary of my talk with renowned climatologist Dr. Michael Mann
- The Arguments: The most common arguments and responses
- On Our Watch: Science tells us that climate change is happening now
- “We Did It” (Part 1) (Part 2): This climate change is from OUR activities
- What It Means to Missouri: How climate change will likely impact our region
- Save Money, Save the Climate!: Simple ideas that save money while reducing CO2 emissions
- Our Choice: What we can do to limit further harm while adapting to the changes to come
- Lead! Climate Change is happening. The United States can lead, or get left behind
- If We Don’t? Geo-engineering the climate. What is it and why we don’t want to go there
- Final Thoughts: Ethical considerations
“We Did It” – Part 2
In my last post on climate change, I wrote that scientists know the current global warming/climate change is caused by man via the same “follow the evidence” techniques that tell us whether or not a car accident was caused by a intoxicated driver.
Upon re-reading the post, I realized that while I explained the “who did it” evidence finding process scientists use pretty well, I did not make a compelling case that actually links man’s activities to climate change. This post is intended to make that link.
So what is this “overwhelming evidence” that has convinced every credentialed scientific organization that touches the atmospheric sciences to accept the claim that the earth’s current warming is caused by man?
Why is it that no scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion from the consensus?
Why is it that the world’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, adapted this official position on climate change over 6 years ago (2006):
“The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society....The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.”
There are 2 very compelling lines of evidence that implicate man:
- The CO2 “blanket” is getting thicker every day: CO2 in the atmosphere, which is proven to be warming gas, has increased over the last 150 plus years of the industrial revolution, and we are adding 80 million tons of CO2 “thickness” each day
- Humans put the extra CO2 in the atmosphere: CO2 in the atmosphere is covered by 12 different independent sets of “human fingerprints” that pin the cause of increased global temperatures to humans.
This evidence is so compelling that it has led to Dr. Richard Mueller, once a prominent climate “skeptic” to conclude that there is no other plausible explanation other than CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. Dr. Mueller went to far as to issue the following statement:
“Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.
Dr. Mueller looked at all of the usual “suspects” and found them to be completely innocent. Here are a few of those suspects:
Innocent Suspect #1: It’s the Sun! (if this were true, it would be colder, not hotter)
While the sun certainly has some influence, solar activity and temperature have been going in opposite directions for decades now (since 1960). If the Sun were in responsible for the change in climate, the earth would be cooler, not warmer.
This argument is now considered to be so bad that Geophysicist Ray Pierrehumbert said this:
“That’s a coffin with so many nails in it already that the hard part is finding a place to hammer in a new one.”
Innocent Suspect #2: “Natural Variability” (NOT!)
This argument says that since the climate has changed before, which it has, than this climate change can’t be from us.
This is the equivalent of saying "forest fires occurred naturally in the past. So there can't be arson."
“Humans have died from natural causes before, so there can’t be murder”
The reality is THIS climate change is caused by EXTREMELY high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, CO2 from man.
Natural cycles requires a forcing, and no known forcing exists that fits the fingerprints of observed warming - except human emitted greenhouse gases
Man has added far, far more CO2 to the atmosphere than any natural influence could. What about volcanoes? Not even close. Man adds 135 – 230 times more carbon than volcanoes do.
Innocent Suspect #3: “It’s not Warming” (YES IT IS!)
Fact: 2005 and 2010 tied for the hottest years in the 132-year record (2012 may be hotter)
Fact: Nine out of the ten hottest years in that 132 year record are within the last ten years.
Fact: 328 consecutive months are above the 20th century average
Source: NOAA State of the Climate Report
The truth is that it’s been getting hotter for decades and, if the best scientific organizations in the world are right, temperatures will continue to increase indefinitely – unless we are able to stop CO2 emissions.
So, it’s not the sun, it’s not volcanoes or other “natural” forcings, so who is the guilty party? The evidence points us to over a 1/2 trillion tons of excess carbon in the atmosphere – with our fingerprints all over it.
The reality is that evidence implicating human activity for the current climate change is simply overwhelming and there are no other viable suspects.
This evidence has led the “Supreme Court” of Science, the National Academy of Science, to issue the following statement in 2010:
"Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems,"
What can you do to help save the climate?
- Take personal accountability to reduce carbon emissions (I’ll post on this soon, or, read this)
- Educate ourselves on the issue: recommended sources: NASA Climate, Climate Change Communication
- As we approach the election cycle, assess your candidate’s position on what is conceivably the most important issue facing mankind – mitigating and adapting to a changing climate.
The bad news: It's us. The good news: We can stop it.
The question: Will we?
Note: The next post “What Climate Change means to Missouri” discusses the implications of climate change on residents of Missouri and the lower Midwest.
Author's note to commenters:
This is sure to be a controversial topic and I’m OK with that. I only ask that you keep your comments civil, respectful, informed and related to the particular subject matter discussed. As you can see from the topic list at the beginning of this post, there are plenty to topics to be talked about over the summer.
I also ask that if you dispute a claim, that you provide a link to a reputable source supporting your claim.
Disclaimer: I am not a climate scientist, nor do I claim to have scientific expertise in this subject. Scientific claims made in these posts will be sourced only from highly respected scientific organizations