Saturday, February 13, 2016

Accepting the Challenge: What's so special about today's AGW

There's a new commenter at CFI (Center for Inquiry) forum who tossed down a challenge that I took up this morning.  Since putting together my response required plenty of time and effort I'm going to add it to my WUWTW's 'considering debate' collection.  

I haven't changed his words though my response is a bit more detailed than over there and as usual I share many authoritative links to support and explain the claims and arguments I make.  

I figure it's an interesting case study others may find helpful.  
Dude writes:  Nice evidence and empirically referenced discussion so far. 
Here are my questions regarding this vital topic. It is only vital due to the implications of mass destruction of our planet. Otherwise, who GAF (give a *&#$%$F word)

1. What is the evidence that warming of the surface of the planet is happening today?
Your phrasing is telling.  Why do you single out "surface of the planet"?  
Don't you appreciate that the oceans are an integral part of what's happens to surface temperatures?

For starters there are copious thermometer records that are recording a warming surface.

There is also plenty of real down to Earth physical evidence, among the most obvious,
A)  Cryosphere is melting throughout the world
B)  Hydrologic Cycle has intensified
C)  Lakes and river temperatures are increasing
D)  Sea level rise
E)  Ocean warming

A)  Cryosphere is melting throughout the world:

NSIDC's State of the Cryosphere provides an overview of the status of snow, ice, and permafrost as indicators of climate change. This site provides time-series data for Northern Hemisphere snow cover, mountain glacier fluctuations, sea ice extent and concentration, changes in ice shelves, and global sea level. It also provides a snapshot of current permafrost conditions.

Introduction: Are global temperatures rising?
Northern Hemisphere Snow: What satellite sensors are telling us about snow cover
Glaciers: Mountain glacier fluctuations
Permafrost and Frozen Ground: Insights from a Northern Hemisphere map and field observations
Sea Ice: What satellite sensors are telling us about global sea ice extent and concentration
Ice Shelves: Rapid response to climate change
Ice Sheets: Is ice sheet mass changing?
Sea Level: Is global sea level rising?

TimeLapse: Watch 27 Years of 'Old' Arctic Ice Melt Away in Seconds

Our World - News  |  Feb 21, 2014 

Trouble at Totten Glacier

YaleClimateConnections   |  April 14, 2015
NASA | Measuring Elevation Changes on the Greenland Ice Sheet
B)  Hydrologic Cycle has intensified:

Record-breaking heavy rainfall events increased under global warming

07/08/2015 - Heavy rainfall events setting ever new records have been increasing strikingly in the past thirty years. While before 1980, multi-decadal fluctuations in extreme rainfall events are explained by natural variability, a team of scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research detected a clear upward trend in the past few decades towards more unprecedented daily rainfall events. They find the worldwide increase to be consistent with rising global temperatures which are caused by greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. Short-term torrential rains can lead to high-impact floodings.   (
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Numerous empirical observations and models of the global climate confirm the hypothesis that global warming enhances the global hydrologic cycle. For instance, a global warming by 4°C (7.2°F) is expected to increase global precipitation by about 10 percent. ...
C)  Lakes and river temperatures are increasing:



Press Conference Changing lake temperatures on six continents
American Geophysical Union (AGU) |  December 16, 2015
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D)  Sea level rise

Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting land ice and the expansion of sea water as it warms. The first chart tracks the change in sea level since 1993 as observed by satellites.
The second chart, derived from coastal tide gauge data, shows how much sea level changed from about 1870 to 2000.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
But wait, there's more...

Study: Rising Seas Slowed by Increasing Water on Land | Feb 11, 2016

New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have affected the rate of sea level rise.

A new study by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, shows that while ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, changes in weather and climate over the past decade have caused Earth's continents to soak up and store an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, temporarily slowing the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

NASA Releases First Global Rainfall and Snowfall Map from New Mission
E)  Ocean warming

Ocean Warming Makes Floods Worse
Rapid ocean warming expands water, accelerating sea level rise
By John Upton, Climate Central on January 26, 2016

Deep ocean warming became especially pronounced after the mid-1990s, recent research has revealed, including during a 15-year slowdown in warming detected at the planet’s surface. ...

Now, the waxing and waning of surface warming is understood to be part of a natural ocean cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. Strong trade winds associated with that cycle drove more atmospheric heat than normal into ocean depths from 1998 to 2013.

Then the cycle changed phases, leading to a sharp uptick in surface warming rates. Globally, surface temperatures in 2015 broke a record that had been set only one year before.

The change in the phase of the ocean cycle is also expected to flush surface waters back across the Pacific Ocean toward the West Coast, where sea level rise will worsen flooding.

“There’s never been a hiatus in ocean warming; there’s an ever-deeper penetration of the warming signal,” said Felix Landerer, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He wasn’t involved with the new study, which he described as novel and thorough. “There has never been a hiatus in sea level rise in the last decade. Quite the contrary, I think we see an acceleration.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ocean Warming: Probing a Blue Abyss
By John Upton  |   December 30th, 2014
Dude writes:  2. Why can any evidence of warming not be a simple case of cyclical repetition that some climate engineers say is evident in history?

"Climate engineer"?  What is that?  

There are "cyclical repetitions" throughout our biosphere and global climate engine, none is the same as the previous, each is influenced by a different combination of drivers and circumstances.

Question for Dude:
When has a species on Earth gone from producing negligible CO2 to injecting on the order of 3 billion tons of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere every month after month, and done so in under two hundred years?

Onset of Eocene Warming Event took 3-4 millennia (so what we’re doing is unprecedented in 66 million years)

February 11, 2016 by Howard Lee

So what does “relatively rapid onset” mean? 
The answer to that question has been an intractable problem for many years, but two new studies have independently just zeroed-in on the answer: 3 to 4 millennia. 
More accurately, the two studies have constrained how long it took to release the initial carbon that drove global warming in the PETM – a crucial piece of information if we want to compare the PETM to today’s warming. The first study was presented in December at the AGU conference in San Francisco by Richard Zeebe and co-workers, who have calculated a duration of about 4,000 years or more. The second is a paper by Sandy Kirtland Turner and Andy Ridgwell in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, which was published online the same week, and which calculated that the carbon release took about 3,000 years or less. 
Despite the difference, the fact that 2 independent studies, using different data and approaches, arrived at a very similar timescale is a huge advance on previous estimates that could do no better than say the onset of the PETM took somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 years. ...
Dude writes:  3. How is warming today different in any way from recorded history?

We're warming at a faster pace than ever!

Development of a novel empirical framework for interpreting geological carbon isotope excursions, with implications for the rate of carbon injection across the PETM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Anthropogenic carbon release rate unprecedented during past 66 million years

Only meteors have produced faster more disruptive impacts on Earth's biosphere.
Dude writes:  4. How is corporate profit interests corrupting the accepted answers to 1,2, and 3?
How?  By doggedly lying about what scientists are themselves saying, lying about the evidence -> and pretending that we need exact answers to every technical question before we as a society make fundamental changes. 

Merchants of Doubt: How Climate Science Became a Victim of the Cold War. 
Erik M. Conway 
Published on Sep 14, 2015   |   Earth101

There is a long-standing “debate” over the reality of anthropogenic climate change between the mainstream climate science community and a handful of “skeptics,” most, though not all, of whom are financed by fossil-fuel companies and right-wing political foundations. This is well documented. Less well documented, and far less well understood, is the motivation of these deniers. Conway (2008) briefly argued that they are motivated by market fundamentalism. In Merchants of Doubt, Oreskes and Conway (2010) have also argued that this market fundamentalism is rooted in the American Cold War experience. In this talk, Conway will discuss the origin of one of the principal founts of misinformation about climate science, the George C. Marshall Institute, in the political fight over the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Erik Conway is a historian of science and technology residing in Pasadena, CA, currently employed by the California Institute of Technology. He studies and documents the history of space exploration, and examines the intersections of space science, Earth science, and technological change. Conway has co-authored two books with Naomi Oreskes on climate change, the Merchants of Doubt (2010), concerning the deliberate misrepresentation of climate change by a few high-level scientists, and The Collapse of ‘Western’ Civilization (2014), a science-based work of fiction that gives a critique of our present time from a future perspective.

Merchants of Doubt: What Climate Deniers Learned from Big Tobacco | YaleClimateConnections
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago !

A new investigation shows the oil company understood the science before it became a public issue and spent millions to promote misinformation

By Shannon Hall on October 26, 2015
{Talk about deserving criminal prosecution!}

fyi: Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?

Climate denial funding
We have good reason to consider the funding of climate denial to be criminally and morally negligent. The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend to all activities of the climate deniers who receive funding as part of a sustained campaign to undermine the public’s understanding of scientific consensus.

Criminal negligence is normally understood to result from failures to avoid reasonably foreseeable harms, or the threat of harms to public safety, consequent of certain activities. Those funding climate denial campaigns can reasonably predict the public’s diminished ability to respond to climate change as a result of their behaviour. Indeed, public uncertainty regarding climate science, and the resulting failure to respond to climate change, is the intentional aim of politically and financially motivated denialists.

My argument probably raises an understandable, if misguided, concern regarding free speech. We must make the critical distinction between the protected voicing of one’s unpopular beliefs, and the funding of a strategically organised campaign to undermine the public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions. Protecting the latter as a form of free speech stretches the definition of free speech to a degree that undermines the very concept.

What are we to make of those behind the well documented corporate funding of global warming denial? Those who purposefully strive to make sure “inexact, incomplete and contradictory information” is given to the public? I believe we understand them correctly when we know them to be not only corrupt and deceitful, but criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life. It is time for modern societies to interpret and update their legal systems accordingly.
Dude writes:  Without these big picture answers, all the rest of the answers are subject to political and economic bias.
Interesting that nowhere do you mention the importance of learning about our planet and how our weather system operates?

It is the apathetic public who's dictated by their political, economic and ideological biases, not the scientists!  The scientists have been on a mission of collecting evidence and interpreting that evidence to the best of their learned ability. 

As for greenhouse gases, are you aware that the physics of how greenhouse gases behave is settled science?  Yes it can be declared settled considering all the modern marvels from air to air heat-seeking missiles, to communication, or astronomical observation instrumentation, items that would be impossible without such an understanding.

Don't pretend that scientists are not a global community of self-skeptical experts who keep each other honest.  Something you won't find within the Republican/libertarian echo-chamber they have trapped themselves within.

You ignore the geophysical fact that humanity is injecting on the order of 3 gigatons a month, after month, after month into our atmosphere, thus adding it to "natural" carbon-dioxide flux, and rapidly increasing our atmosphere's insulating ability.  

Me, I wonder how can people kid themselves into fantasizing that an intensified global heat and moisture distribution engine will not have profound detrimental impacts on a society that evolved within a more benign, predicable climate system?
Dude writes:  How long can an individual citizen such as I expect to invest in a reasonable effort to answer such question? 
3 hours may be longer than most may want to spend. Can you put it in an hour? Somehow?
Oh boy, talk about apathy.  Three hours is all you care to muster for learning about the climate system that dictates the health of our biosphere?

Worse than the general disinterest, is the foolishness of not trusting the objective expert community who study these matters.  Everywhere else in our society we've admitted that we need and can trust the community of experts.

On the Republican/libertarian side we have a tiny community of demonstrably ideological people, folks like Seitz, Singer, Lindzen (*), Roy  Spencer (*with their various grudges against the new "establishment" science and strong political passions.  People who smear, and slander, and misrepresent, and repeat old canards ad nausea, with a ruthless abandon born of self-certain zeal.  People who only believe in themselves and see everyone else as an enemy.  People who refuse to admit to, or learn from, their mistakes. 

As for me, don't trust a small agenda driven cabal.  I'll trust the collective considered educated opinion of the huge self-skeptical community of experts who are dedicated to always learning more and refining their understanding.

{final edit 12:30 AM}

1 comment:

citizenschallenge said...

Yes I know Seitz is dead.
But he is the granddaddy of science by public slander,
that Singer and Lindzen have honed to such a fine art form.