Atlantic Hurricanes: Global Warmth A Factor

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Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research have calculated that "global warming accounted for around half of the extra hurricane-fueling warmth in the waters of the tropical North Atlantic in 2005, while natural cycles were only a minor factor." Their study will be published in the journal Geophyiscal Research Letters next week. Other researchers have argued that the recent increase in Atlantic hurricane activity can be traced to natural shifts in the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. The NCAR researchers conclude that the AMO can account only for a small portion of the increase in the sea surface temperatures that boost hurricane strength.

The NCAR press release is here.

The NCAR findings also contrast with another study on trends in hurricane strength in GRL to which I linked in my review of An Inconvenient Truth. Published in May, that study found "based on data over the last twenty years, no significant increasing trend is evident in global ACE [accumulated cyclone energy] or in Category 4-5 hurricanes."

Science marches on–just as it should.

NEXT: Impaired Reasoning

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  1. Dueling hypotheses.

    Eventually we’ll know one way or the other – the storms will continue to get worse and more frequent (if they actually are) or they’ll fall back in line with natural cycles. Hopefully, it’ll get sorted out before we needlessly spend a bunch of money or pass a bunch of meaningless legislation to track our personal carbon footprints.

    I can already hear the “Better safe than sorry” responses coming.

  2. For the sake of the argument, let’s assume that half the increase in warmth is due to global warming. How much of the global warming can be described as a human artifact? If half, then only a quarter of the extra hurricane activity can be blamed on our own damned selves.

    The global warming advocates are notoriously slippery about quantifying just how much we are supposed to be adding to any secular warming trend.

    Kevin
    (IANA Scientist)

  3. Ron, this is slightly off-topic, but have you ever seen any data showing recieved solar radiation vs. time? Because it seems to me like the sun is hotter in recent years than it used to be. If it is, and it probably isn’t, then I wonder how much of global warming can be accounted for by it.

  4. I thought the frequency and intensity of hurricanes was cyclical?

    Of course I didn’t RTFA or the study (bad on me), so my question for those who did is whether they accounted for that?

  5. As a kid living down South it didn’t take long for me to make the summertime connection “The hotter the morning and early afternoon are, the more intense the daily late-afternoon thunderstorm will be.” Why should hurricanes be any different?

  6. The Other Mark,

    I couldn’t find any data on solar radiation over time but I did find two articles on global warming on Mars and Jupiter.

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060504_red_jr.html

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mars_ice-age_031208.html

    Now which is more likely: Is my SUV contributing to global warming on Mars and Jupiter or is the sun burning hotter and therefor making Mars, Jupiter and possible the Earth warmer?

  7. There is a problem in having research done by those looking for evidence of what they already believe. Interpretation is what it’s all about.

  8. That last sentence shoudl say: … and possibly the earth warmer.

  9. There is a problem in having research done by those looking for evidence of what they already believe. Interpretation is what it’s all about.

    For example: some guy who works for Reason starts a thread on the topic “Apparently extra heat results in more intense summer storms” and it takes less than eight posts to morph into “humans have nothing to do with said extra heat.”

  10. They’ve been telling us down here in Hurricane Alley that the hurricane cycle would intensify for at least ten years now. We thought it was hype, but apparently it was true. Whether mankind is cooking the earth or not, the fact is that hurricanes do operate on a cycle. There’s bundles of historical evidence supporting that, too.

    I’ll tell you one thing–I distrust the motives of anyone who thinks he is absolutely certain about the state of the climate. It’s a nasty little system of complexity that we’re dealing with, and it doesn’t help that even the scientists on both sides start with fairly strong preconceptions.

  11. God has granted me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, so this is just a question, not a rhetorical question: Is contemporary global warming outside a standard deviation that would encompass, for example the Little Ice Age? I mean, have we seen a variation in average temperatures that’s outside what has occured in the past 500 years?

  12. I’ll tell you one thing–I distrust the motives of anyone who thinks he is absolutely certain about the state of the climate. It’s a nasty little system of complexity that we’re dealing with, and it doesn’t help that even the scientists on both sides start with fairly strong preconceptions.

    Agreed that nobody can be certain, but why exactly is it that on this forum, even something as simple as “more heat means more intense heat-fueled storms” is viewed as controversial? As I already mentioned, I knew as a child that hotter weather leads to more powerful thunderstorms. I saw this first-hand almost EVERY DAMNED DAY between late May and early September. So when you talk of preconceptions, it looks like at least some regulars here have the preconception “Anything that would make a Greenie nod and say ‘uh-huh’ MUST be absolute bullshit.”

  13. Is contemporary global warming outside a standard deviation that would encompass, for example the Little Ice Age? I mean, have we seen a variation in average temperatures that’s outside what has occured in the past 500 years?

    As I’ve read it, the problem is that the speed of the climate change is exponentially faster than in previous, all-natural cycles. So (I’m making these numbers up because I don’t feel like Googling the real ones) the end of the Little Ice Age came about from temperatures rising, say, one degree over the course of three centuries, whereas now we’re facing a rise of one degree over a few decades.

    Something along those lines.

  14. Jennifer,

    If your comments are even partially directed at me, then I appologize for not RTFA closely.

    It does indeed state that more intense storms are due to global warming. I automatically inserted the words “man made” in front of global warming and then the Other Mark mentioned solar variability which is a hot button topic of mine because it is rarely, if ever, mentioned in articles about global warming.

  15. Because Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research have calculated that “global warming accounted for around half of the extra hurricane-fueling warmth in the waters of the tropical North Atlantic in 2005, while natural cycles were only a minor factor.” expresses certainty where certainty is not possible, nor does it reveal the assumptions used in implementing the calculations.

    Hotter daytime weather leading to more powerful thunderstorms may be relevent to climate studies but the computer models usually refer to upper atmospheris warming. Hurricanes aren’t generated by localized temperatures that you experience at the beach, but by surface warming of the ocean far out to sea.

  16. Preconceptions either way are bad, of course. Only speaking to the hurricane claims, I’m quite dubious because I really have been hearing for years now to expect more hurricanes. Yes, that could be a coincidence and maybe storms really are intensifying due to warming, but I’m skeptical. There was an explanation and a prediction sitting out there all along, after all, which said nothing about global warming. In other words, this all smells a little too like post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning to suit me.

    I’m not a climatologist, but I do recall hearing that whatever increase in temperature there’s been in recent years is far, far too small to have yielded more or more intense hurricanes. But I’ll leave that debate to others.

  17. Oh, fudge. The U.S. is out of the World Cup. I completely forgot that the games were today. Oh, well, better not to watch us blow it, I guess.

  18. Hurricanes aren’t generated by localized temperatures that you experience at the beach, but by surface warming of the ocean far out to sea.

    Exactly. And since hurricanes are fueled by surface warming, why is it such a stretch to figure more warming = more fuel = bigger storms?

  19. Jennifer,

    ease up, child! I think the reactionary comments are more akin to shooting into the darkness, because the darkness is usually where the monsters come from.

    Global Warming is, in most circles, exclusively discussed with regards to human contributions—so you can understand why some folks might view any discussions of global warming in that light.

  20. ease up, child! I think the reactionary comments are more akin to shooting into the darkness, because the darkness is usually where the monsters come from.

    I expect better from people who pride themselves on their free minds, love of rationality, and reluctance to let prejudice and emotions cloud their thinking.

    Darkness is also where you find people who would like to make their way into the light, but they can’t because some frightened dumbass just shot ’em.

  21. FWIW, the hippies in the insurance industry expect more severe hurricanes in the near future, because of global warming.

  22. Jen, the H&R comment boards aren’t immune to prejudice & emotionally-biased thinking…though, I understand your disappointment.

  23. Anything that would make a Greenie nod and say ‘uh-huh’ MUST be absolute bullshit.

    Jennifer, your point is well taken. But you must… must admit that in general, the above is a good rule of thumb.

    Remember, clock broken, right twice a day.

  24. something as simple as “more heat means more intense heat-fueled storms” is viewed as controversial

    Things are not always as they appear, that’s why.
    If global warming is to blame for the current (predicted) trend for more violent Atlantic storms, what is to account for the previous 20-year period of relative calm? Did the world stop “warming” during those 20 years? Or are much more complex forces at work? I say the latter, and I’ll remain skeptical.

  25. Darkness is also where you find people who would like to make their way into the light, but they can’t because some frightened dumbass just shot ’em.

    Look, sometimes you have to shoot blindly and not worry about whether or not you’re actually hitting anything. Terrorists have adopted a strategic model that would render them immune to military action if we adopted a traditional model for fighting non-state actors. We have to recognize that this is fifth generation warfare, and you cannot align the strategic incentives correctly if you hold the military to an impossible standard regarding when they shoot and when they don’t shoot.

    🙂

  26. Barbar, here’s a New Scientist article (well, brief) on the hurricane cycle.

    Look, people, I heard with my own ears back in the 1980s meteorologists saying that Florida would face more hurricanes when the high cycle returned in the late 90s or so. I’m not making this stuff up, and the fact that some climatologists want to pretend that this prediction hasn’t been sitting out there all along makes me want to go burn some coal. I mean it!

    Sigh. In any case, since this was an expected occurrence, naturally insurers, states (except LA), and others have been at least somewhat planning for it.

    Of course, just because this particular study is likely bunk (though, as I indicated earlier, it could just be a coincidence), that doesn’t prove anything either way about global warming. If the warming trend does continue, I’m sure we’ll get to see some bigger, badder storms in the future.

  27. The real problem is that none of us here (or at least the vast majority, I suspect – I shouldn’t presume that I know what everybody knows) are really qulified to engage in a qualified debate about the causes and nature of Global Warming, anthropogenic or otherwise. Pretty much anything that we throw out there is, at best, anecdotal.

    We’re quite at the mercy of the scientists and mathematicians who do the studies and write the reports. It’s probably like when I go to the mechanic when something is wrong with the PiMobile. It is likely that three different mechanics would come up with three different diagnoses and suggested remedies (accompanied by three different prices!). Most of us have no idea where the hydrostatic PVC fluid condensor outlet is or what it does so we often just trust the guy who offers the cheapest or quickest repair job when any of the solutions would likely have fixed the problem. That’s what I did when I found out that my HPFCO was faulty.

    The point is, we should probably not get too attached to our personal hypotheses (again – unless you are a practicing climatologist) and let the experts battle it out. In the meantime, we should recognize that the motives of the scientists and especially of the politicos who push one or the other idea may not have the purest of motives. But, in the end, science has a way of sorting out the competing ideas and selecting the one that best describes and predicts the behavior we see in nature.

  28. I mean > “qualified to engage ina dabate”.

    *sigh*

  29. Just an observation… I assume most people are familliar w/ Contentintal Drift theory? Take a look at the globe and try to fit the pieces together. One of the biggest holes is right up “Hurricane Alley”. It could be coincidence, but my guess is that that region’s been recieving intense hurricanes for quite a long time, and that the relative calm we had since around the 70’s has been the exception, rather than the rule.

  30. FWIW, the hippies in the insurance industry expect more severe hurricanes in the near future, because of global warming.

    Is that what they said…because of global warming?

    The past couple of decades actually represented a relative low in hurricane activity as part of natural cycles. It wasn’t expected to perpetuate, hence an expectation that hurricane activity would increase.

    What is the actual evidence that the two are tied together?

  31. The nice thing about being a skeptic is that you don’t have to attach to a hypothesis, merely question those that have. It’s instructive how quickly they assume that you have taken up the opposing view.

  32. Pi Guy,

    There are still large classes of bad arguments that require only a little science, math or logic to discredit. That significantly lowers the qualifications needed to contribute. That’s true for a wide variety of subjects.

    Hence, I don’t see what you call “the real problem” to be a problem at all, much less one that is specific to global warming.

  33. ed,
    There was global cooling due to particulate matter in the atmosphere until the early 90s (see: global dimming). Cleaner air* has caused that to reverse and get warmer. This has likely contributed to global warming and why there was a shift.

    * Note the type of particulate matters a great deal, sulfur compounds tend to reflect heat causing cooling, dark soot tends to absorb heat causing warming

  34. This “study” doesn’t appear to present a scientific conclusion but instead presents a scientific hypothesis. There is nothing to suggest that their calculations were actually tested against observation.

    A bunch of guys in lab coats making calculations does not a scientific conclusion make. Instead, their calculations merely present a model of what they hypothesize might be happening. Unless their calculation lead to predictions about some future measurements and until those predicted measurements are actually observed then the calculations remain mere guesswork.

    Almost all climatology falls into the category of hypothesis. It is an immature science with no proven track record of accurate prediction. How could it? We haven’t had the tools to measure or model climate for more than 30 years. Given the time scales involved it would take decades to determine if the predictions of climatologist are actually valid.

  35. none of us here…are really qualified to engage in a debate…

    Damn, Pi Guy, you’re gonna blow the lid off this place with that kind of heresy!

  36. Pro Lib, the study accounts for the cyclical observations you mention, and finds that there is an even greater increase in hurricaine activity than can explained from that alone.

  37. to The Other Mark;

    Data on absolute solar radation emitted on the sun is not particularly robust and does not go back too far in time. Different groups have analyzed the same data sets, and have come to conclusions varying from no increase to a slight increase that could at most explain 20% or so of the observed warming.

  38. To Shannon Love;

    You do not need to wait for the future in order to test the accuracy of your model’s predictions. Rather, you can just feed the model all the data up to 1999, for example, and then see if it predicts 2000-2006 correctly.

    Global warming models are not particularly good at this task, yet. However, they are far more sound than just pulling numbers out of your butt, as many people here seem to imply.

  39. Although it must be admitted, Pro Libertate, that the study was conducted by climatologists.

    The scary, corrupt climatologists.

  40. Rather, you can just feed the model all the data up to 1999, for example, and then see if it predicts 2000-2006 correctly. – Chad

    Even I, whose last science course in a lab was high school chemistry*, know that what you suggest is highly susceptible to the “fudge factor.” The experimenters know how 2000 to Mid-2006 have turned out, and that might bias their results.

    Kevin

    *got a nearly perfect Achievement test score from the SAT folks, I did.

  41. Very slightly off topic: can anyone point me to an argument that we should be resisting global warming even if the warming we are currently observing is not significantly contributed to by human activity. I am, for some reason, vaguely curious at the moment to read such an argument.

  42. joe, I didn’t say it couldn’t be true. I just said that I highly doubt it and that I had reasons for my dobut. I think you may have heard by now that most climatologists have pooh-poohed claims that the recent hurricanes demonstrate anything of importance–whether the topic is global warming or anything else other than having to deal with more hurricanes. I’ve even read that in sources I’d consider quite friendly to the Kyoto crowd.

    Our data on the high-end of the cycle is poor. The last high cycle, we had very few satellites, clunky computers, and much less sophisticated models for dealing with chaotic systems. Sure, we have some data, but is it reliable to any degree of certainty? So trying to estimate just how much of an increase is due to the cycle and how much is due to a warming trend is problematic at best. Given that many climatologists have already laughed off the idea, why should I give credence to this study without further (and better) proof? Don’t forget, too, that the period of the increase (technically since the late 90s, though the real good stuff started in the last six years or so) is so short as to probably be of questionable significance in the statistical sense.

    I’m not some huge skeptic about global warming–I’ve thought for some time that we’re in a warming trend. Whether it’s serious or not is another question, as is whether the anthropogenic component is substantial enough to make a difference. What I am very skeptical about is anyone–even an expert–who comes to the table with too many biases. Parapsychologists often find psychic phenomena in their tests. When the experiments are reviewed, they usually fail not because of fraud, but because of failure to use double blind experiments and because of a tendency to interpret unclear data in favor of a positive result.

    All I want is the truth. If the truth is that I have to go live in a cave and not breathe too much for humanity to survive another 100 years, so be it. But I may just require a fairly high threshold of proof before I’m willing to go that far. Yes, I exaggerate for effect, but the point remains. We’re working in the dark, far more so than the many pronouncements out there would indicate. I haven’t seen anything that really suggests Goreian disaster levels, in any case, so I don’t think we’re doomed if we don’t change our ways. How much longer can we burn oil, anyway? That’s not to say that things couldn’t get mighty unpleasant–I’m not a fan of pollution, either.

  43. Excesses above the expected number do not a trend make but inferring such: a fallacy it does!

    Global Warming is, in most circles, exclusively discussed with regards to human contributions—so you can understand why some folks might view any discussions of global warming in that light.

    Any human caused warming we ostensibly have a choice about whereas natural warming must be ridden out. Focusing on the human cause or deluding oneself into believing we are the cause gives someone a sense of control. People have been accustomed in their life having an unprecedented level of control over their environment. To know that there is still something too big out there for you to do anything about is rather frightening. There are things not even governments can fix no matter what “god” one sacrifices in the name of.

    And concerning the calm period: that doesn’t sell newspapers! When would they ever print in huge type “Hurricane Season Expected to Be Uneventful”?

    Those with bias will isolate the period of time that supports their desired result.

    Practically any noisy data will have a trend that is not zero and it is rather equally likely to be positive or negative. It would indeed be remarkable to encounter a zero-slope trend line in most any data.

  44. Pro Lib, “I think you may have heard by now that most climatologists have pooh-poohed claims that the recent hurricanes demonstrate anything of importance.”

    It’s interesting you should say that. In the immeditate aftermath of Katrina, NOAA made a point of sending out scientists who pooh-poohed the connection, while refusing to authorize press contacts by scientists who came to the opposite conclusion. Perhaps that’s where you got your impression.

    In fact, climate scientists have been pushing a global warming/hurricaine link for years, and it appears that this hypothesis is being borne out.

    But being responsible scientists, the mainstream of the field has held off on making definitive statements. Not so for those on the other side of the question, like Mr. Bailey in September and October of last year, who not only made strong assertions about the lack of a connection, but speculated darkly on the motives of those scientists who, once again, are being proven right about global warming, its causes, and its impacts.

  45. Global dimming? Global warming? What’s with the globe, anyway?

    In the 60’s to 70’s there was a trend of more particulate pollution deflecting sunlight (and heat) away.

    What is with those scientists always thinking and measuring things?

    http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2004/09/22/keen-dimming/

  46. There you go: the impact of less particulate matter in the atmosphere.

    No climatologist who agrees, along with the vast majority of his profession, that global warming is real, man-made, and serious, has ever considered particulates in the atmosphere.

    Or water vapor – I once say a commenters in a global warming thread speculate that all the climatologists were getting it wrong because, he suspects, nobody is incorporating evaporation into their climate models.

    It’s like the Kennedy conspiracy – you start out knowing what the answer is, and the fun part is figuring out how each datum that comes in proves it.

  47. I once say a commenters in a global warming thread speculate that all the climatologists were getting it wrong because, he suspects, nobody is incorporating evaporation into their climate models.

    Wel he was just being silly. Of course they incorporate everything anyone can think of into the models. The real question is…are they incorporating it correctly?

    Time will tell.

  48. anon2:

    So are you saying that global warming is occurring or not? Are you saying that, if it is occurring, it is the result of human activity or not? Since you haven’t taken a stand (at least as of yet), which argument – we’re causing it or we’re not – is so full of holes that it is obviously illogical and mathematically and scientifically transparent? You may have just endorsed my point.

    Personally, I’m not so sure that humans are causing it but believe it is pretty clear that the temps are going up. Slightly. But I’m not certain that it’s not part of some natural cycle or the result of some bizarre stellar anomoly that the sun’s just started exhibiting. There are a lot of pretty plausible explanations being floated. Anthropogenic warming is just getting the most press right now. And I think that I’m pretty math/science/logic savvy (I’m a physicist in the Defense Industry and have read as much as I think I possibly could without ignoring my job or family – well, at least not too much!) but don’t even pretend to be remotely expert enough to assert that my view is indisputably the right one. To which do you subscribe. And, more importantly, why?

    ed:

    Sorry. I don’t mean to be a buzzkill. I’m just suggesting that we laymen not invest so much personally in the argument at this point. It’s not exactly Bloods/Crips or Yankees/Red Sox. It’s a bunch of geeks playing video games and and writing on whiteboards and getting a lot of different answers. It’s a very complicated problem even for people who’ve spent their whole adult life preparing for an argument like this and they can’t even come to a reasonable consensus. I think that we may want to avoid costly and resource-rich reactions while the scientists are still duking it out. But, then, I think that water is wet so what do I know?

    On the other hand, it can’t hurt to cut back on fosill fuels and to look for alternatives. Or to eat more fruit.

  49. Honestly, joe, what we need is a neutral party–like the Vulcans–to run our science. We’re obviously too screwed up to keep our politics, emotions, and other motivations out of our observations. We do so well with systems within our ken, but once we branch out into trying to understand complexity, we get weird. At least climatology is more scientific than not. Compare that to say, psychology. Or nutrition science.

    What we really need–if we can’t have Vulcans–is weather control. Where is it? With the flying cars? I’m so disappointed in the future.

  50. joe-

    I know I won’t convince anybody of anything in these global warming threads, but the tactic that you describe is very much like Dave W. insisting that no scientist has ever considered the possibility that corn syrup causes diabetes. Or creationists insisting that no scientist has ever considered the possibility that radioactive decay rates may vary over time.

    Now, I’m sure that everybody would insist that their debate tactics bear no resemblance to the things that I just described. And maybe they’re right. I won’t point any fingers or even suggest that a finger should be pointed. I’ll just ask that we all think for a moment about Dave W. the next time that somebody wants to raise an objection. If you think your objection could be compared to one of his arguments, then come up with a better objection.

    Notice that I didn’t ask anybody to draw any specific conclusions about global warming.

  51. Pi Guy: I would like to know some of these “plausible” explanations are for non-anthropogenic global warming could be. The two primary reasons for “natural” climate change in recent (ie, since the last ice age) are generally considered to be changes in solar radiation and volcanic activity. There has been no mega-eruption lately, and evidence that the sun has increased its energy output is scant, and nowhere near strong enough to cause the effects we are seeing even if true.

    Ice ages are largely driven by changes in earth’s orbit (we wobble on all three of our degrees of freedom, and these change both the total energy we receive as well as the strength of the seasons). These wobbles have frequencies in the thousands of years, so are not a good explanation of a 100 year trend. When looking on longer time scales (tens of millions or more), changes in earth’s internal heat radiation, and massive changes in atmospheric composition, make comparisons difficult. The earth was a LOT warmer in the time of the dinosaurs, but on the other hand, so was the atmosphere.

    Folks, the earth is not infinite. We are making real, measurable changes in the atmosphere. It is almost absurd to conclude that this WOULDN’T have an effect in such a complex system. It is even more absurd to deny it when the effects we observe are consistent with the changes we have made.

    Is it POSSIBLE that something else is causing it? Yes. Likely? No. And that is good enough. We, both individuals and societies, act upon probabilities every day.

  52. Dave W. encounters his biggest problems around here when his comments come across as post hoc ergo propter hoc arguments or as similarly implying that correlation means causation.

    I think my position on this study is intellectually honest. I certainly have more to lose as a Tampa resident if hurricanes get more and more intense or if sea levels rise, so I’m hardly eager to turn a blind eye to the truth. But climatology is a young science, and it has many of the same problems we see in other areas where there is a dearth of good, statistically significant data and an excess of complexity. Weather predictions are axiomatically unreliable. Tests show one thing this week, another next week. We’re getting sophisticated enough to identify trends, but causation and specific predictions? No. Maybe someday soon but not today.

    The uncertainty inherent in this science is simply not reflected in the media, nor even in much of the literature. No one wants to say of their career, well, I have a kinda sorta guess about what’s going on. No, they want to be the high priest of the truth. And who is going to gainsay them? There are some political axes being ground on either side of the climate change argument, that’s for sure. Does TCS wear blinders? Sometimes it seems that way. But I can say the same thing of Scientific American, which is clearly more interested in the result–dealing with anthropogenic climate change–than in practicing the scientific method. And, unfortunately, this whole debate has taken on a left vs. right flavor, which is a really, really bad thing for something this important.

    One comment on, well, the comments on both sides of this debate. We take a few observations and make general conclusions from those observations. Understand this, though–we really don’t understand the mechanisms of normal climate change. That’s without man in the equation. Throw us in, and what’s the effect? See the problem? There are variables we aren’t even aware that we should be measuring out there. Perhaps the climate is so sensitive than 1/100th of our pollution and other climate-affecting activities would drastically alter the climate (kind of a butterfly effect on steroids and acid). What do we do then?

  53. I don’t know if anyone reads or cares much of anything I say here but:

    It is almost absurd to conclude that this WOULDN’T have an effect in such a complex system.

    Non-sequitur.

    Where does it follow from the system’s complexity that we may have “an effect” (I take that to mean “significant effect”) on some variable(s).

    Is it chaotic (butterfly effect) or stable (the measurable changes cause offsetting effects that limit those changes)? Earth appears to be quite robust and resiliant to disaster anyway.

    Warming and cooling curves appear to be stable and not chaotic and no meaningful “100 year trend” can be read from it since its too noisy.

    How the does some 0.006 deg C /yr change have any meaning? It is inferred from taking an arbitrary (read: the bit that makes a political point) segment of data and computing a trend line. So what.

    How is it likely, and how likely, we are causing it and what the hell is “good enough” anyway?

  54. I hope that global warming is the root of it, and I hope that the hurricanes get a lot worse. Frequent storms of the kind that would make the Gulf Coast a hazardous place to live would also make my town a bit more interesting during the summer. It’d be nice to finally get some decent summer weather, too – especially if global warming over a long period of time is going to mean tropicalization, harsh draughts and giant insects, like it generally does in various exuberantly florid illustrations of the post-pollution apocalypse.

    Besides, I think that a lot of my countrymen secretly want to be placed in mortal peril, so although many of them would be losing their homes and livelihoods, they’d at least be down one major lifetime regret. And as serious national threats go hurricanes are really ideal, since they make such bad antagonists for TV – so that even if something unspeakably horrible does happen to lot of people in the next two decades, at least there’s little likelihood that it’ll spawn a new Fox drama.

  55. M, I would put the current agreement among scientists along the lines of there being a 90% chance that we are the major cause of the observed warming, and a similar chance that warming will continue or accelerate for the next century.

    Given that we routinely insure ourselves against disastsers with a 1/1000 chance of happening, insuring ourselves against a 90% chance is more than rational.

    In any case, as someone pointed out earlier, one could argue it is irrelevant what the cause is. If the earth is warming, and warming will cause harm, we should attempt to cool it if the cost/benefit justifies it.

  56. Ah, but does warming really cause harm? If Al Gore swears by it, then I suspect it is total bullshit.

  57. Paul:
    Anything that would make a Greenie nod and say ‘uh-huh’ MUST be absolute bullshit.
    Jennifer, your point is well taken. But you must… must admit that in general, the above is a good rule of thumb.
    James Ard:
    If Al Gore swears by it, then I suspect it is total bullshit.

    The data supporting those hypotheses are far better than any data on global warming.

  58. Al Gore is causing global warming to kill the dangerous manbearpig! He’s totally serial.

  59. Pro Lib,

    “Honestly, joe, what we need is a neutral party–like the Vulcans–to run our science. We’re obviously too screwed up to keep our politics, emotions, and other motivations out of our observations.”

    I disagree. The system of independent researchers, publication and methods and results, and peer review has proven to be extremely effective in answering hard, contensted questions. The record of climate scientists in this regard is as strong as any other.

    BTW, did anyone else see that the Hockey Stick research, which Bailey and so many commenters kept assuring us was as bogus as the link between warming and hurricaines, was endorsed by the team of researchers appointed by skeptical Congressmen? Just to recap, the 1990s were the hottest decade in the past 1000 years, and a dramatic, sustained uptick in temperatures was recorded in the latter half of the twentieth century.

  60. Here is a link for those are you are still sceptics

    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/how-to-talk-to-global-warming-sceptic.html

    Pick your favorite sound bite that you use to try and debunk and find the answer.

  61. Here’s a link.

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/06/23/national_panel_supports_98_global_warming_evidence

    Though I have to admit, the report is based on scientific research done by corrupt, communist statisticians and climatologists. As far as I can tell, it does not consider how “greenies” and the former Vice President feel about the question, as would any responsible, intelligent person when considering evidence of global warming.

  62. Quick note, and I didn’t see if someone already made this point as I just skimmed some of the above posts, but the global hurricane story was just that, global, while this study is for the Atlantic Basin only. It’s certainly possible for global hurricane intensity to decrease on average, while locally the Atlantic hurricanes are intensifying.

    Also, Easter Lemming mentioned the global dimming concept. The evidence for that does seem reasonably convincing. If so, it would be masking some of the effects of global warming.

  63. The issue of global dimming is pretty well addressed in the link Lee provides.

  64. Whether or not global temperatures are rising, there are a few issues that should make a “thinking” person skeptical.

    1. All atmospheric (greenhouse) gasses raise the Earths temperature by 60 degrees F.

    2. The primary greeh house gas is water vapor, which accounts for 95% of the above temperature increase.

    3. CO2 contributes to 3% of the remaining green house effect.

    4. Humans are responsible for only 3% to 5% of the CO2 in the atmosphere, the rest is naturally occuring.

    Therefore, human CO2 contributes to 0.1 to 0.2 degrees farenheit to the global temperature.

    Based on the above information, isn’t it reasonable that a “free thinker” would be a skeptic regarding global warming? Unless my facts are incorrect, then the Made Made Global Warming Chearleaders sound like they are FOS.

  65. The link Lee provides addresses the confusion about the relative effects of water vapor and CO2, as well as the fact that water vapor levels in the atmosphere are an effect of warming.

    It also answers the diversion about volcanoes.

    Really, read the link. These issues so many of you think are devestating, novel insights are old had, have been considered and incorporated into the work of climate scientists, and are already taken ito account by the scientific community.

  66. Joe,

    I did look at the link, and the linked article, and my reaction is “so what?”

    Water vapor either does or does not contribute to warming. And even if the molecules leave the atmosphere faster than CO2, they are also replaced faster as well.

    As for whether it is reactive to other warming factors or not, so what if it is? Does this make its impact less?

    The only thing that trumps my statement regarding water vapors effect would be a statement such as “You are wrong, the evidence shows that water vapor is only responsible for 20% to 50% of the greenhouse effect.”

    The author of the linked article does suggest that the 95% number is too high. But he also admits that his method is faulty, and uses that to shoot down the 95% number. This doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in the other aspects of the report. Nor does the Based on the obfuscation thrown into the report regarding temporary/reactive nature of water vapor.

  67. Jeez, Ron. Look at all the commenters here who steadfastly cling to all the polluter-backed junk science you lent your name to during your years as a professional global-warming “debunker”.

    Your embarassingly-titled appears to still be readily available on Amazon. Any chance of posting one of those author’s comments you’re entitled to disavowing your old arguments as a sort of correction?

    Since your stock-in-trade still seems to be advocacy journalism, is your next book going to be an equally impassioned volume on the emerging and projected effects of global warming as a sort of counterbalance to ther way your earlier book so poisoned the discourse right through the present day?

    A quick look at the positive reader reviews on Amazon and the comments on this thread amply demonstrates that Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths [sic] remains a key source for people and organizations bent on blocking any effective response to climate change.

    Is

  68. Jeez, Ron. Look at all the commenters here who steadfastly cling to all the polluter-backed junk science you lent your name to during your years as a professional global-warming “debunker”.

    Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths [sic] appears to still be readily available as a remainder on Amazon. Any chance of you posting one of those author’s comments you’re entitled to, disavowing your old arguments as a sort of correction?

    Oh. I’m sorry. I know you’re busy working on that new book debunking the “round Earth” theory and that article for August on a maverick scientist in GE’s legal department who extolls the benefits of increased heavy-metals consumption in food and water.

  69. SMK,

    Is it just possible that the theory of man made global warming is overblown? Afterall, this is not the first apocalyptic scare we have been subject too in the past 30 years. Just to name a few:

    1. The coming ice age.
    2. Loss of our forests.
    3. Destruction of the amazon rain forests.
    4. Acid rain. Is this no longer a problem?

    It is most likely true that much of the evidence used by the skeptics is faulty. However, much of what the true believers take as gospel is garbage. Even the most recent study on the year 1999 being the hottest on record is being faulted by the groups that are endorsing it (one of the chief complaints is that the author is refusing to share his evidence, check today’s WAPO).

    The environment goes through temperature shifts all the time, so please excuse us skeptics for considering that this just may be another natural shift.

    BTW, although there is disagreement about the contribution of water vapor to global warming, is there any dispute that only 3% to 5% of atmospheric CO2 is manmade?

  70. Whoopsie!

  71. Jennifer,

    Stop being such a whiner and get back on topic so I don’t have to keep scrolling through your crap.

  72. Chris:

    You might notice I’m not playing climatologist here. I’m just asking Mr. Bailey about his own course of action based on his recent shift from professional global-warming denier to someone who accepts it valid and correct science.

    What you choose to believe — that the entire community of climatologists not employed by a major polluter or one of their lobbying organizations is wrong in its consensus that anthropogenic global warming is causing climate change — is your business.

    But since you’re asking what ever happened to all that other stuff, last time I checked, the loss of rainforests, general deforestation and acid rain were still serious environmental problems. Deforestation continues to negatively impact biodiversity, continues to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by biological processes, and deliberate clearing through burning — the most common source of deforestation in the Amazon and other tropical forests — continues to throw soot and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without the beneficial followup of regrowth that comes after a forest fire in a place that continues to function as forest.

    The old ice-age theory looked at what was known (that soot in the air blocks sunlight and cools things, c.f. Krakatoa), but not at what was then unknown, like the changes in heat retention caused by changes in atmospheric composition and just how dramatically a darkening of snow or ice through soot or water coverage can accelerate melting. You can’t win ’em all. The theory of geocentrism turned out to be wrong, but we moved on.

  73. SMK,

    I never read Bailey’s book, so don’t blame him for what you perceive are my mispereptions about global climate change. Many people have become skeptics without being led by the nose by Ronald Bailey.

    Your assertion that every climatoligist that disagrees with you regarding man made global warming is bribed/coerced is a bit over the top. I can only assume that you got that fact from the same people who tell you that humans are responsible for global warming. Not the most unbiased source.

    My point on the other scares in the past is that these were all headlining scare stories in the past. And yet these issues any more receive very little lip service anymore. My question is: If these issues are just as important now as they were 15 years ago, why do we not hear about them? Is it possible that man made global warming is just the latest environmental scare? You seem to think not. I don’t blame you as I was certain of the theory a year ago.

    I think I raised a few good points that suggest that this is just the latest scare. Can you address those points in some way other than making references to corporate shills and the fools who are easily led by them?

  74. The only thing that trumps my statement regarding water vapors effect would be a statement such as “You are wrong, the evidence shows that water vapor is only responsible for 20% to 50% of the greenhouse effect.”

    there are other contexts to water vapor that are relevant.

    From the Wiki:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_vapor
    “The average residence time of water molecules in the troposphere is about 1 week. Water depleted by precipitation is replenished by evaporation from the seas, lakes, rivers and the transpiration of plants, and other biological and geological processes.”

    How is this relevant?

    CO2 imbalances last centuries (or more) in the atmosphere.
    Methane, decades.
    Water Vapor…days.

    hmm…wouldn’t a reasonable person think that maybe, just maybe, that the staying power of the former two could be responsible for allowing water vapor to stay in the atmosphere?

  75. I KNEW I remembered Reason freaking the hell out when scientists wrote that global warming was causing greater hurricaine activity.

    Here’s the link, helpfully titled “Hurricaine Bullshit.”

    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2005/08/hurricane_bulls.shtml#010771

    Maybe a retraction a few apologies are in order?

  76. Joe I think you ought to read the NAS report which can be downloaded free in exchange for an email address. A lot of cold water is thrown on the idea that the temperature from 1000 years ago has been estimated accurately. Global warming skeptics have been pretty happy with the report. A lot of the prominent reports showing heating beyond historical variation rely on methods and data sources that the report explicitly recommends against.

  77. Reason, logic, facts? Here?

    There are still quite a number who comment here who believe drugs cause addiction. Not even the head of the NIDA believes that. Although the DEA is still pushing the idea for obvious reasons.

    The anti-prohibitionists are at least as ill educated on the nature of addiction as are the prohibitionists. And that includes all the editors of Reason.

    Reason does no good without correct facts.

  78. SMK,

    The real corporate shills are Doctors who are paid to shill for the drug companies. Your medical cartel at work.

  79. johnl,

    “A lot of cold water is thrown on the idea that the temperature from 1000 years ago has been estimated accurately.”

    And yet the report still endorses the study’s conclusions. You didn’t bother to mention that part.

  80. “A lot of cold water is thrown on the idea that the temperature from 1000 years ago has been estimated accurately.”

    ‘And yet the report still endorses the study’s conclusions. You didn’t bother to mention that part.’

    When I was in graduate school, one of the courses I took was on research methods. One of our activities was to read research articles and determine if the conclusions that were reached was supported by the data. Sometimes there were gaps, sometimes strikingly so, between the data and the interpretations of that data. And from this, conclusions could be reached, significances suggested, recommendations for further research suggested, policies recommended that weren’t necessarily supported by the data. Is this a possibility here? In any case, it doesn’t strike me as far fetched that there would be occasional, perhaps even frequent gaps, when dealing with any sort of politically charged theory.

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