Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's Getting Warm Out There

Anyone who knows me would understand that global warming presents a real conundrum for me. Certainly, from an environmental perspective, I believe that climate change is real and that we need to take serious steps to mitigate its deleterious effects.

As was noted in Last Year Among Hottest On Record, Say Scientists:

Data collected from around the globe indicate that 2007 ranks as the second-warmest year on record, according to a new analysis from climatologists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

A second team of scientists, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has come up with slightly different results using the same raw data -- suggesting that last year was the fifth-warmest on record -- but the groups reached the same conclusion on where Earth's climate has been headed for the past quarter-century. Taking into account the new data, they said, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.

Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at Goddard, said researchers are not as focused on "any individual year but the long-term trends."

"We've got a sustained warming of the planet, which is unequivocal, and the best we can work out is that it's because we've been increasing the greenhouse gas emissions, primarily," Schmidt said in a telephone interview yesterday. "That means it's going to continue. The long-term trends are up, and they're up in the same way our models have been predicting for the last 20 years."

On the other hand, I am always cold, so the fact that it's getting warm out there isn't a bad thing on a personal level, as far as I'm concerned. However, this piece in the Washington Post gave me much pause. As the article notes:

According to the NASA analysis, the global average land-ocean temperature last year was 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit, slightly more than 1 degree above the average temperature between 1951 and 1980, which scientists use as a baseline. While a 1-degree rise may not seem like much, it represents a major shift in a world where average temperatures over broad regions rarely vary more than a couple hundredths of a degree.

The 2007 average was the same as for 1998, which was the hottest year on record until 2005 hit a global average of 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

* * * *

Pomerance said he is particularly alarmed by NASA's findings on temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere and the Arctic, which have warmed faster than other parts of the globe. Schmidt and his colleagues concluded that 2007 is the warmest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere, with a 1.9-degree-Fahrenheit rise over the 1951-80 average, a difference he called "quite significant."

So, although this is yet one more reason that I can't wait until the Republicans are out of office, so we can go back to believing in science and acting like intelligent human being again, I can emphasize with P.J. O'Rourke, who was interviewed on Real Time from New Hampshire and observed:
We’re – we’re grumpy, and it’s grumpy times, and America is grumpy. And we’re grumpier than most, because our weather is shit, you know. And, I mean, we’re – we’re in favor of global warming up here. You know, Al Gore just got no traction at all. You know, it’s like – and now he gets the Nobel Peace Prize! For what? You know, he forged a peace in the war with the penguins? What was that?
See Transcript from Realtime ~ Jan 11, 2008.

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