Friday :: Jul 30, 2010

Fasten your seatbealts

by Turkana

In a reality-based nation in a reality-based world, scientific reality would be deemed important. This kind of scientific reality:

The report emphasizes that human society has developed for thousands of years under one climatic state, and now a new set of climatic conditions are taking shape. These conditions are consistently warmer, and some areas are likely to see more extreme events like severe drought, torrential rain and violent storms.

“Despite the variability caused by short-term changes, the analysis conducted for this report illustrates why we are so confident the world is warming,” said Peter Stott, Ph.D., contributor to the report and head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution of the United Kingdom Met Office Hadley Centre. “When we look at air temperature and other indicators of climate, we see highs and lows in the data from year to year because of natural variability. Understanding climate change requires looking at the longer-term record. When we follow decade-to-decade trends using multiple data sets and independent analyses from around the world, we see clear and unmistakable signs of a warming world.”

While year-to-year changes in temperature often reflect natural climatic variations such as El Niño/La Niña events, changes in average temperature from decade-to-decade reveal long-term trends such as global warming. Each of the last three decades has been much warmer than the decade before. At the time, the 1980s was the hottest decade on record. In the 1990s, every year was warmer than the average of the previous decade. The 2000s were warmer still.

This kind of scientific reality:

Global temperatures in the first half of the year were the hottest since records began more than a century ago, according to two of the world's leading climate research centres.

Scientists have also released what they described as the "best evidence yet" of rising long-term temperatures. The report is the first to collate 11 different indicators – from air and sea temperatures to melting ice – each one based on between three and seven data sets, dating back to between 1850 and the 1970s.

This kind of scientific reality:

Scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies reported recently that the average global temperature was higher over the past 12 months than during any other 12-month period in history. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released corroborating data, adding that the past four months, including June, have each individually been the hottest on record as well.

This kind of scientific reality:

Marine phytoplankton have a crucial role in Earth's biogeochemical cycles, and form the basis of marine ecosystems. Data from satellite remote sensing — available since 1979 — have provided evidence that phytoplankton biomass has fluctuated on the decadal scale, linked to climate forcing, but a few decades of data are insufficient to indicate long-term trends. Daniel Boyce and colleagues now put these results in a long-term context by estimating local, regional and global trends in phytoplankton biomass since 1899, based on a range of sources including measurements of ocean transparency with a device known as a Secchi disk, and shipboard analyses of various types. What emerges from the records is a century of decline of global phytoplankton biomass. The authors estimate that the decline of phytoplankton standing stock has been greatest at high latitudes, in equatorial regions, in oceanic areas and in more recent years. Trends in most areas are correlated significantly to increasing ocean warming, and leading climate indices.

But this was last week's political reality:

Conceding that they can't find enough votes for the legislation, Senate Democrats on Thursday abandoned efforts to put together a comprehensive energy bill that would seek to curb greenhouse gas emissions, delivering a potentially fatal blow to a proposal the party has long touted and President Obama campaigned on.

Instead, Democrats will push for a more limited measure that would seek to increase liability costs that oil companies would pay following spills such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico. It also would create additional incentives for the development of natural gas vehicles and would provide rebates for products that reduce home energy use. Senate Democrats said they expected to find GOP support for the bill and pass it in the next two weeks.

Which led to this week's political reality:

Senate Democrats and Republicans appear on a collision course that would sink chances of passing oil-spill and energy legislation amid disagreements over both substance and process. Democratic leaders Wednesday foretold the likely failure of the package and blamed Republicans for obstructing it and other legislation.

But when political realities fail to meet the demands of such scientific realities the blame must be shared by all. Just as the scientific realities that will result from the failures of the political realities will be shared by all.

Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy future.

Turkana :: 9:21 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!