Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This cold snowy weather does not disprove climate change.

Since we are having our first “normal” winter in several years -I say normal because that’s how I remember winters when I was a kid - I’ve been playing Whack-A-Mole with climate deniers to debunk their short sighted opinions. Many of you already have read about the Polar Vortex that has been disrupted because of the Arctic Amplification effect (the arctic warms faster than the rest of the planet)  
that has disrupted the Jet Stream which is causing very extreme weather events around the planet.

I just wanted to point a very important difference about climate and weather. Climate is measured in decades and centuries not weeks, months, seasons or years. Weather is what happens during years, seasons, months, weeks, and days.

Overall climate has a very definite effect on weather like prolonging dry or wet seasons and extreme temperature changes. This is caused by us as we continue pumping 90 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every 24 hours which raises CO2 levels causing the atmosphere to get hotter. The more heat in the atmosphere the more moisture that gets trapped up there; and the more moisture there is in the atmosphere the heavier and more extreme the storms become. If the weather is cold the storms will be big snow storms; if the weather is warm it will be flooding rains. Climate change’s main “signature” is extreme events which can be snow or ice storms, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wind, or droughts. If you pay attention to the news when they report extreme weather events, often the local person being interviewed will say something like, “we’ve always have had floods around here, but nothing like this ever before, or we always have tornadoes in the spring in this area but we’ve never seen a tornado this big before.” Again the operable is extreme or biggest ever. I hear that most of the time on the news these days.

One last thing, most people are familiar with Dr. Michael Mann’s diagram of the measured changes in CO2 levels and temperature levels called the Hockey Stick graph. It was used in Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, and became very controversial when some climate deniers who were finance by the fossil fuel industry tried to debunk it, and who now are being sued for liable because 3 different independent scientific inquiries found it to be scientifically accurate. My point is,  if you look at that lines in that graph you will see that for 800,000 years CO2 levels bounced up and down like hills and valleys but, on average, stayed within a range of 280 parts per million (PPM). Since the late 1700s, because of people relying on fossil fuels, CO2 levels now average 397 PPM and have gone into the 400 PPM range which soon will be the new average because we haven’t done a thing to reduce our fossil fuel emissions. So, one cold snowy winter does not disprove climate change, it’s just one very small down tick on the graph that has risen 117 PPM higher than any time in the last 800,000 years.