Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday morning mash

Lots out there to read today:

The author of the study reporting that “Not a single paper in a large sample of peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 refuted the consensus position (on climate change)” defends herself and the study from attacks in the LA Times.

It’s good to see Reuters CNN address the oft-asked and always unanswerable question “is the heatwave due to climate change?” even if they still quote someone from the George C Marshall Institute (like you can’t ask an actual scientist to explain the difference between a one-off event and a trend?). The “heatwave” in question is really a series of heatwaves (in Europe and much of the Midwest and western US).

The media response is inspired in part by the latest NOAA climate update reporting that the first half of 2006 was the warmest in the US since records began in the 1890s. Exact rankings, which year was #1, are not really important, but almost every media organization botched the story… missing that Jan-June was the warmest ever in just the US, but the sixth-warmest worldwide.

And, if you’re interesting in the ongoing argument about the “hockey stick”, check out this post on realclimate last week. Frankly, I find the constant discussion and re-analysis of the 1000-year temperature reconstruction graph ridiculous, especially after the NAS report. Besides, even if there were a couple decades in the 1300s that were 0.2 Celsius warmer than the 1990s, that does not change the avalanche of evidence that the recent warming is in large part human-induced, and that it will accelerate without an effort to seriously reduce GHG emissions. Even Edward Wegman himself, the author of the latest report, basically agrees.

2 comments:

ross said...

Sure its good that CNN addresses the question, but they're still applying the same old 'debate amongst scientists' frame:

"The skeptics say any warming over the last century can be explained by the fact that the planet was coming out of a cold period, known as the "Little Ice Age" . . . And although a couple of hot summers do not prove climate change, if global warming is happening, heat waves are inevitable."

If it's happening?! Even Bush concedes that global warming is happening.

Ah well. Any thoughts on whether global warming has contributed to the busy forest-fire season? I agree that it's impossible to say for sure, and there are lots of factors, but this is the only way that the impact of warming is going to become tangible for people.

Simon Donner said...

A recent paper by some scientists at Scripps attributes the increase in wildfires over past three decades partly to climate warming:

http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/article_detail.cfm?article_num=739

Humans also directly influenced the observed increase in wildfires, through past fire suppression policies, land use practices, accidental fires, etc.

The best scientists can really do in terms of "attribution" is to predict the likelihood an event - warm ocean temperatures contributing to strong hurricane season or coral bleaching event (my area), or a warm, dry summer leading to a rough fire season - will happen with and without human influence on the climate.

A good example of this was a study on the fatal 2003 European Heatwave: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v432/n7017/abs/nature03089.html