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A Response to the Skeptics[1]

A Response to the Skeptics[1]

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Published by tamsinomond

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Published by: tamsinomond on Oct 08, 2010
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A response to the sceptics 
“Those who question the need to take action are the flat-earth brigade of themodern era. The scientific evidence from across the world shows we need toact.” - Ed Miliband (2009).
What the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree upon:(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trappinggases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter thisfact.(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the lastcentury is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels anddeforestation.(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but arenow being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change atspeeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastalcommunities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwaterecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.
Claim:Response:
Globaltemperatureshaven’t warmedsince
1998
. In fact,hasn’t the worldcooled since 1998? This is a classic case of cherry picking data.Actually, the decade 2000-2009 was the warmest since recordsbegan. The decade 1990-9 is the second warmest, and 1980-9the third warmest on record. 1998 is the warmest year onrecord but every year since then (in fact every single year forthe past three decades) has been significantly warmer than thetemperatures you’d expect if there was no warming.It is just that these years have not been quite as warm as 1998. This is because the human-forced warming trend is taking placeon top of natural variations. These natural variations made 1998particularly warm (because there was a very strong El Ninoevent). Year-to-year, we will always see fluctuations, but to seeclimate change we need to rely on long-term trends of 30 yearsor more.In fact, 2010 is currently tied as the warmest year on record(NOAA 2010)How can we trust just one set of temperaturerecordings?Hundreds of independent measurements of the Earth’stemperatures all agree.Separate datasets from all over the world all point towards arapid warming: not just the Earth’s surface temperatures, but
 
also the temperatures in the lower atmosphere (troposphere),and oceanic surface temperatures have all risen sharply sincethe industrial revolution.Even scientistscan’t agree The overwhelming majority of leading climate scientists agreeon the fundamentals – that climate change is happening andhas recently been caused by increased greenhouse gases fromhuman activities. There are some people who argue that climate change is nothappening, or that it is not caused by human activity. Whilesome of these individuals have scientific backgrounds, theseopinions are very rare indeed amongst scientists working on thescience of the Earth’s climate.Climate scientistsare engaged in a
conspiracy;
global warming is just a big hoax. There is no evidence for any conspiracy. Three independentinvestigations found no scientific misconduct in emails stolenfrom the UEA’s Climate Research Unit. The IPCC reports are the result of combined work from manythousands of scientists, and the IPCC process has been designedto have the highest levels of international transparency; theirsummary texts are agreed by every country in the world. Oneerror in referencing (not content) does not undermine the 3000page report, or support a conspiracy to misrepresent climateresearch.
Climate models
are inaccurate andtherefore cannotprovide evidenceof climate change,or reliableprojections of future climatetrends The latest IPCC report show very good agreement between themodels and observations, not only temperature trend, but alsospatial properties – over the different continents, and as afunction of altitude.Climate models are based on fundamental physical laws and arerigorously tested to ensure their reliability. They do not dependon observational data trends, such as the CRU analysis, to maketheir projections.We don’t rely on models for our understanding of the effect of greenhouse gases on climate. Theory (i.e. the simple physics of the greenhouse effect, first discovered in 1850, demonstrable inthe most simple experiments and taught to every British 12-year-old in school), and observations are the foundations of ourability to understand climate change.Models are unable to reproduce past warming if they don’tinclude human caused emissions. They unanimously predictwarming with rising greenhouse gas concentrations.If 
we can’tpredict theweather
nextweek, how can wepredict the futureclimate? The weather is a fundamentally chaotic system. Modelling theclimate is different – it involves representing the long termbalances/changes in the system. These are slowly varying andeasier to predict over long timescales. The analogy of the sea can be used. Climate is like the sealevel; weather would be the waves. Even though we can predictto high accuracy expected sea level changes, so many factorsaffect individual waves it’s impossible to predict them with anycertainty.Of all the hundreds of climate models that have been created,
 
It’s
natural
.and that include all known natural factors, not a single one hasbeen able to reproduce/explain past patterns of warming if human emissions are not also considered.Natural events can’t explain the observed temperature changes. Temperatures are warming faster than they ever have in thepast. The last time the earth experienced warming at anythinglike the pace we now expect was about 55 million years ago,when temperatures rose by about 11 degrees Farenheight overthe course of 20,000 years (which is much slower than thecurrent pace of warming. The
MedievalWarm Period
was just as warm astoday, or warmer This may be the case, but it isn’t possible to say with anycertainty, because records are few and far between, and theircoverage is spotty. There is also no evidence that it was global; just observed in parts of the northern hemisphere, especiallyEurope.We do know that the climate has varied in the past, but thisdoesn’t challenge the case for human-caused climate changetoday. These past changes also occurred at a much slower rate.Carbon dioxidelevels have been
higher in thepast;
therefore itis naturalCarbon dioxide levels may have been higher, but they’ve neverrisen at a rate anywhere near the rate that they’re rising now.Air bubbles trapped in ice show CO2 concentrations over thelast 800,000 years; levels rose and fell gradually between 180and 280 ppm. They have shot to a current 387 ppm since theindustrial revolution began – a rate of change faster than everseen in the geological recordIsn't climatevariability shownto correlate withsolarvariability/
sunspots
?Despite the recent decline in the sun’s brightness, the long-termtrend of global temperatures continues to rise.Sunspots have been observed since the invention of telescopesin 1610, and although climate predictions from sunspots havelong been attempted, the predictions have not held up. The Sun’s natural variability on the climate is very small;according to the last IPCC statement, around 10% of theinfluence of human greenhouse gases.Aren’t
glaciers
growing ratherthan melting?Globally, this is not the case. While some glaciers are growing,overall the trend is for an accelerating rate of mass loss. Thisevidence comes from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre inthe US, and the World Glacier Monitoring Service. The
CO
2
trend
over the pastcentury doesn'tmatch the trend inglobal warming.How can it be adriver?Firstly, warming due to the enhanced greenhouse effect lagsbehind changes in CO
2
(and other greenhouse gases), due toinertia in the climate system. It takes time for the changes totake effect. Secondly, greenhouse gases are not the onlydeterminant of temperature. Aerosols, which are also emittedfrom human activities, are also important and can be shown toexplain much of the cooling seen in the middle of the 20thcentury. Without them, warming would most likely have beengreater. Volcanic eruptions and small changes in solar outputalso complicate the picture.Models have been used that take into account all these factors.

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