Questionable Motives

April 19, 2012

How can we determine a link between local weather and climate change?

Filed under: Climate Change,Global Warming,Scepticism,weather — tildeb @ 10:24 am

On a very cold day, one will probably hear someone commenting along the lines of, “So much for global warming.” On a very hot and humid day, you’ll hear few comments at all about global warming. In other words, weather than stands contrary to the notion of warming usually reinforces skepticism that the planet is getting warmer, whereas weather that stands supportive to the notion of warming reinforces what’s typical or normal. In other words, it’s easy to assume that claims about global warming are linked to the word ‘warming’ as presented by temperature in the weather we experience. Because we also experience weather that is colder than what we might be used to, we automatically tend to assume it justifies skepticism about these warming claims.

It doesn’t.

What links weather to climate is patterns.

If global warming is true, then we should see changes to these patterns… and we do. But how do we link these changing patterns to anthropogenic (human caused) global warming rather than natural changes?

This is the meat of climate science. What should we expect to see?

Well, the most convincing evidence to me would be if it could be clearly shown that the rate and frequency of changing weather patterns was accelerating when all other natural factors could be accounted for.

And this is exactly what we find. In fact, the projected rates of pattern changes to weather norms are actually too conservative; the conclusion revealed by nature seems to be that climate change due to anthropogenic global warming is happening faster than predicted and the frequency of hot AND cold, wet AND dry is also greater. To help explain how AGW causes more extreme local weather, Peter Sinclair offers this video:

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9 Comments »

  1. Yep there is no doubt about it, the weather is changing. The UK being a little island, we see a lot of unpredictable weather – but I have been startled in recent years by the extremes. We have had heavy heavy rain that have never seen here before – and summers that have been very hot, and snow that has been very heavy. The other thing I have seen is big switches in weather within one season – so in March we had very high temperatures around 25 Celsius for a few days, and then a few days later a week of frost. This seems quite unusual – and it has been reflected in other parts of nature. When you see plants that normally only flower once in a year, flowering twice or even three times it is quite obvious to me that things are a bit skewed.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — April 28, 2012 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  2. I’ve always been impressed by how scientists do their job on studying the climate and seeing how it’s changing. It’s not all satellites and rockets. Every branch of the Earth Sciences is involved.

    NASA | Feeling the Sting of Climate Change

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 28, 2012 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  3. Please see a discussion of The Heartland Institute’s latest billboard on global warming: http://canadianatheist.com/2012/05/04/kwow-who-else-was-an-atheist-hitler-and-other-arguments-of-this-type/

    Comment by Veronica Abbass — May 4, 2012 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  4. I have maintained for some time now, to anyone who will listen, that (in addition to cutting carbon emmissions) the countries that contain our tropical rainforests must stop cutting them or our weather patterns will change forever. At the same time, I realize that most of these countries are relatively impoverished, and that their citizens need a way to make a living. IMO, some agreement must be worked out between the Have-nations and these Nave-Not-nations, whereby we Haves, possibly through the UN, either provide a subsidy to the Rain Forest nations in exchange for outlawing further deforestation, or establish industries within these countries to provide substitute employment in exchange for a solid no-logging agreement.

    I invite further comment or assistance in the development and presentation of the idea to caring decision-makers.

    pax vobiscum,
    archaeopteryx
    http://www.in-His-own-image.com

    Comment by archaeopteryx1 — May 7, 2012 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

    • The danger here is to presume that harvesting trees is somehow a bad thing. It’s not; forestry is an important economic activity at both the local and global levels. The problem you mention about cutting down rainforest and reducing an important carbon sink occurs when this activity is undertaken in an unsustainable fashion while greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. The agreement you suggest is not so clear cut (pun intended) as ‘the haves’ and ‘the have nots’ and the political problems that come with this approach are, I think, insurmountable obstacles; many countries in recession are not able to gain political capital to allocate such funds when needs closer to home go underfunded. Although very challenging to address, the solutions that I see work are much more micro-oriented where unsustainable deforestation costs more to the local population than is gained from local sustainable practices. Sure, preserves have been purchased but trying to use law to enforce forest integrity just doesn’t seem to work out very well. Only when keeping forests pays better than extracting the resource wholesale will we find sustainable solutions. In this matter, many ‘have’ countries and organizations for better forestry practices can utilize the buying power of their populations to award good stewardship with profit and punish poor stewardship with loss of business and tax revenue.

      When all is said and done, brute economics – not law enforcement – is the driving factor behind environmental sustainability. We have to find solutions here.

      Comment by tildeb — May 8, 2012 @ 9:19 am | Reply

      • RE: “the political problems that come with this approach are, I think, insurmountable obstacles” – the four-minute mile was an “insurmountable obstacle” until Roger Bannister ran it, and Everest, until Sir Edmund Hillary climbed it. All objects are insurmountable if no one tries to surmount them.

        While it may be debatable as to whether or not harvesting a tree is a bad thing (as well as the rather subjective definitions of “good” and “bad”), trading a rainforest, by your own words, “an important carbon sink,” as well as an ecosystem incorporating thousands of species of flora and fauna upon which so many other species of lifeforms depend, as well as a means of delivering rainfall back into the atmosphere by transmission of the foliage (a proven climate stabilizer), for a few thousand acres of farm or ranch land known to be poor in soil nutrients, seems to me to be a poor bargain.

        As for your statement, “Only when keeping forests pays better than extracting the resource wholesale will we find sustainable solutions,” – that was the essence of what I advocated above.

        pax vobiscum,
        archaeopteryx

        Comment by archaeopteryx1 — May 8, 2012 @ 9:57 am

    • Oh, I suspected this was the essence of your comment and I’m not trying to suggest it’s wrong to want to stop deforestation. My whole point was to keep the focus on creating sustainable forestry practices to achieve sustainable forests rather than attempt to outlaw the cutting down of trees. Such laws are always doomed to failure to achieve the results they set out to enforce.

      Comment by tildeb — May 8, 2012 @ 10:39 am | Reply

      • And what effect do you foresee “sustainable forestry” having on the natural wildlife of the rainforests, and the various plants, other than trees, upon which they’ve evolved to depend?

        Comment by archaeopteryx1 — May 8, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

      • Anne and Merv were our neighbours. I learned a lot. We all can. This is sustainable forestry in practice that keeps all of us rich both in the bounty of nature (and its biodiversity) as well our wallets.

        Comment by tildeb — May 9, 2012 @ 12:06 pm


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