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Is it getting warmer in here?

As I mentioned yesterday, until recently I haven’t worried very much about global warming. It’s been in the back of my mind, like any good liberal, but I haven’t done much about it. Like many folks, I was shaken a bit by the Al Gore movie; but a certain blog gave me an extra push.

I’ll admit that I hadn’t read much on the topic for more than ten years, back when I’d read (among other things) Al’s book, “Earth in the Balance,” during my more idealistic college years. Al was elected VP, and it seemed my concern for the environment shadowed Al’s. Hey, if my boy wasn’t talking it up, who was I to say something? Then there were the deniers.

It seems funny to me that global warming skeptics claim they’re frozen out of serious discussion on the subject, because all I seemed to see during the 90s and early 2000s was the skeptic’s view. I don’t recall where I saw them all, but I remember reading several claims regarding Antarctic ice getting thicker.

(Hey, we’re talking about 10 years of my life. I’m not going to do that much research for no stinking blog. If I’d enjoyed research even a little bit, I’d have continued my education. I don’t mean to brag, but my wife will vouch for me: I had the grades, and I aced my senior research project. Remember “The Activation of Episodic and Semantic Long-Term Memory” Cheryl? All right, maybe I do mean to brag… but just a little bit ;-))

There were other articles, discussing solar and cosmic radiation, water vapor, and (supposed) lags between temperature increases and CO2 increases through history; but the Antarctic ice stories stuck with me.

Like I said before, that blog and that movie kinda gave my complacency a kick in the pants. I started to read more. I read about the nature of water-vapor in the atmosphere. I read about stored carbon and methane. I read some of the rebuttals to the skeptics I’d seen before. My wife says I bore her with longer entries, so I won’t try to summarize everything I’ve read, but I’d like to give you one example. It has to do with that Antarctic ice.

As it turns out, there were quite a few readings taken through the years which showed a local accumulation of ice. If the globe was warming, you might expect to find a general decline in the amount of ice rather than an accumulation. As you may know, Antarctica is a REALLY big place, so it wasn’t easy to see what the ice was doing overall. Until recently.

NASA Mission Detects Significant Antarctic Ice Mass Loss

Scientists were able to conduct the first-ever gravity survey of the entire Antarctic ice sheet using data from the joint NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). This comprehensive study found the ice sheet’s mass has decreased significantly from 2002 to 2005…

Measuring variations in Antarctica’s ice sheet mass is difficult because of its size and complexity. GRACE is able to overcome these issues, surveying the entire ice sheet, and tracking the balance between mass changes in the interior and coastal areas.

Previous estimates have used various techniques, each with limitations and uncertainties and an inherent inability to monitor the entire ice sheet mass as a whole. Even studies that synthesized results from several techniques, such as the assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suffered from a lack of data in critical regions.

This is just one example of recent science, of measurements that weren’t possible before, which make compelling arguments that man-made global warming isn’t just a reality, it may be accelerating faster than models previously predicted.

You remember those global models… the ones that critics have said for years were too unreliable… with snarky (and misleading) comments like, “my weatherman can’t predict the weather two days from now, how can they predict the weather in 50 years?” Well guess what? The critics may have been right, those old models may have been unreliable. They may have been way too optimistic.

Listen, I don’t expect that you’ve been persuaded by this entry. There’s lots of stuff out there for you to read that will explain it much better than I could, so I won’t try. You know I don’t write for a living, and I’ve admitted that I’m hardly an expert on this subject. What I do hope you’ll do is read a little more. I don’t expect you to become a climate expert, just check out a couple of these links. Check out some of the “being green” entries on this blog. He’s a much better writer, and he’s much more convincing. Check out this book. Take a look at grist.org.

I think you’ll find there’s reason to be concerned.

2 Comments

  1. It is indeed. It would have been nice if we could have agreed to some specific reduction targets, but even this much was a surprise after the all talk that was emerging the last few days.

    I didn’t have to read about it myself. (I did anyway, but I didn’t have to.) Cheryl was a little excited when she saw the news on the BBC site and called out the highlights in town crier fashion. We can be a loud family that way. It made it more exciting though.

    Man, it’s been a good day!

  2. John…

    Thanks for the plug and kind words! We seem to have overcome the first hurdle, as the US and Canada dropped their opposition to to the mere mention of targets in the final agreement coming out of Bali.

    It might not be much, but it’s a start!

    Group hug! :-)

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