Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Are we past the global warming tipping plateau?
There is a fair amount of new evidence on global climate change in the last 10 or so years. Unfortunately it doesn't fully support the deniers views.
The effects of global warming, a misnomer as it is really global climate change and some smaller areas will see temperature decreases, are clearly in evidence and accelerating faster than predicted. See rate of glacier loss, ice cap reductions and high altitude micro-climes changes.
Global warming as measured by temperatures, actually quite difficult to do in a standard way over long time periods, according to skeptics has leveled off even as CO2 continues an accelerating rise. Other temperature series which include ocean data reportedly show continued increases.
Increasing amounts of CO2 will have limited effects on blocking infrared radiation. Some experiments indicate it is already blocking most of the rays it can.
Putting these together it looks like temperatures may not continue to increase but that we have reached a plateau that is past the tipping point of extreme effects from climate change, warming permafrost and melting glaciers.
The smarter deniers have long since given up arguing against the evidence of warming that is everywhere but just deny it is man caused.
Future climate change regulations will have to not slow down the growth of emissions but reduce emissions steeply to lower the amount of CO2 already present.
Congratulations deniers, there was no tipping point, but we are past the tipping plateau.
A lot of this evidence comes from global warming denier websites and pamphlets, they just haven't put it together in pursuit of their own agendas of reduced government regulation and denying industrialization is responsible.
A lot of this new evidence was presented to me by a global warming skeptic. Most of the stuff presented in The Skeptics Handbook were distortions and special pleadings and smears of scientists and politicians who support the idea of global warming. Her evidence was often incomplete - an ice core that has both ends cut off where presumably only the part that supports her belief that warming temperatures cause rising CO2 was presented. I admit to not being an expert on ice cores and how they measure both temperature and CO2 concentration. A rebuttal to The Skeptic's Handbook explains why rising temperatures lead to rising CO2 and how the ice cores prove they are coupled. A shorter rebuttal of her four points is here.
Her case did not logically hold up and was worse science and more smears than what she accused the global warming warners of engaging in. That was a shame as she did have some evidence that indicates the standard climate change models may need to be revised. It is even possible that CO2 is having only a minor affect on temperature but that warming is something external that is occurring in the solar system.
The real scientists say that I am crediting her data too much, the claims she makes aren't supported. I am pointing out that even if she is right we have to brace for continued climate change.
Her new evidence and interpretation does point to that further temperature rises may be unlikely except for that brought about by the dangerous and accelerating changes in the world ecology caused by the already new temperatures.
Ironically, we had better hope that most of the warming is caused by man made CO2 and we can reverse it. If instead the warming is primarily caused by an unknown factor (solar radiation?) that will be much more difficult to change.