Many in the press, especially those in New York and New Jersey, seem to have woken up after Hurricane Sandy and decided that climate change is real and we need to do something about it right away. Climate scientists have been talking about this for more than 30 years. Personally, I’ve looked at the data several times (2001 and 2007). There are multiple different ways you can look at the data. There is ground temperature data, sea temperature data, glacier melt data and tons more. One of the things that makes the climate change data so robust is that scientists are not depending upon one set of data. Instead, they’re looking at multiple different sets of data and they all are basically saying the same thing. Climate change (man’s burning of fossil fuels causing increased carbon emissions which in turn causes changes in the climate) is real. I sit down and talk with Joe Romm from the Climate Progress blog which is associated with the Center for American Progress. Enjoy.
I find it amusing how all of the sudden everybody’s an expert climatologist. Whenever I post something on climate change I always get several e-mails from people telling me that the science is “bad.” None of these people have actually read a scientific paper that I know of. None of them have the ability to discern between “good science” and “bad science.” Conservative commentators, who also cannot evaluate scientific papers, have stated that many of these papers represent “bad science” and conservatives parrot this nonsense.
Just for a second, let’s forget all the craziness that surrounds climate change secondary to man’s burning of fossil fuels. Let’s forget the controversy of who said this or that and let’s just focus on a couple of things. Let’s focus on carbon dioxide and temperature. Let’s just focus on one group of studies which looked at ice core data. (Anybody who has a problem with this data, please let me know.)
I wrote the following several months ago, but I think it still applies today:
How can climatologists point to some of the events that are happening now as evidence of climate change secondary to man’s burning fossil fuels? Well, thankfully, I don’t have to come up with an experiment off the top of my head. Smart people, scientists, have done this for us. There are a few places in the world that don’t change all that much. As a matter fact, they haven’t changed for thousands of years. One place would be Antarctica the other would be Greenland. In these two places, it gets extremely cold. The ice in some places is several miles thick. NASA explains it like this:
Throughout each year, layers of snow fall over the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Each layer of snow is different in chemistry and texture, summer snow differing from winter snow. Summer brings 24 hours of sunlight to the polar regions, and the top layer of the snow changes in texture—not melting exactly, but changing enough to be different from the snow it covers. The season turns cold and dark again, and more snow falls, forming the next layers of snow. Each layer gives scientists a treasure trove of information about the climate each year. Like marine sediment cores, an ice core provides a vertical timeline of past climates stored in ice sheets and mountain glaciers.So, by drilling into the ice, we can go back in time and see what the environment was like. What was the composition of the ice 100 years ago… or a thousand years ago? How much methane or carbon dioxide was in the atmosphere? Whatever was in the atmosphere should be trapped in the ice. Scientists have been able to look back over 420,000 years. (Please click on the picture for a larger version.)Notice how at the end of the graph (the right side) CO2 levels are higher than at any time during the measuring period. This seems to correlate very nicely with the industrial age, which started approximately 150 years ago. Below is another graph looking at temperature variation and carbon dioxide concentration. This graph covers only 18,000 years. Again, towards the end of the graph, on the right, you can see the abrupt increase in carbon dioxide.This data makes a compelling argument that the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere is a new phenomenon. CO2 has not accumulated at this high a level over the last 420,000 years. This is a compelling argument to support the fact that man is having a definite impact on the world around us and that climate change second to man’s burning fossils is really happening. Currently, the leading explanation for this accumulation is the beginning of the industrial age and the burning of carbon fuel at a much higher rate than ever before. The question is whether you are going to believe the scientists or the other guys who are making huge vats of money burning fossil fuels. Is oxygen real or not?
So, by drilling into the ice, we can go back in time and see what the environment was like. What was the composition of the ice 100 years ago… or a thousand years ago? How much methane or carbon dioxide was in the atmosphere? Whatever was in the atmosphere should be trapped in the ice. Scientists have been able to look back over 420,000 years. (Please click on the picture for a larger version.)
So, here’s my question – what’s the problem with this science? If there’s no problem with the science than it is clear that CO2 levels seem to correlate with rising temperatures. It is also clear that CO2 levels have risen to levels we haven’t seen in over 500,000 years. Now, we can argue over why CO2 levels have risen. We can pretend that this is some natural phenomenon that started approximately 150 years ago or, we can look at this data and realize that man’s burning of fossil fuels is throwing hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and it may, just may, have some effect on our climate.