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Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year — and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!

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"Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year — and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!"

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UPDATE:  For links to the report and more, see Lubchenco says, “This report is a game changer.”

If humanity stays near our current greenhouse gas emissions path, then Americans face hell — every state will be red:

The thermometer in this landmark U.S. government report puts warming at 9 to 11°F over the vast majority of the inland U.S. — and that is only the average around 2090 (compared to 1961-1979 baseline).  On this emissions path, the IPCC’s A2 scenario, most of the inland United States will be warming about 1°F a decade by century’s end.  Worse, we are on pace to exceed the A2 scenario (which is “only” about 850 ppm in 2100):  See U.S. media largely ignores latest warning from climate scientists: “Recent observations confirm “¦ the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised” “” 1000 ppm.

So this part of my not-so-well-funded analysis appears to hold up well:  “Yes, the science says on our current emissions path we are projected to warm most of U.S. 10 – 15°F by 2100.”

But I’m getting ahead of the story.  On Tuesday at 1:30 PM, the US Global Change Research Program is releasing its long-awaited analysis of Global Climate Change Impacts in United States with NOAA as lead agency.

But impatient CP readers need look no further than here for the third draft of the report, which has been online since April 27.  That’s where I got the figure above from. [You can see the letters F and T from "DRAFT" stamped across the figure. I'll update this post with the final figures when they are online.]

How hot will it be?  Here’s another stunning figure from the report:

The average number of days per year when the maximum temperature exceeded 90°F from 1961-1979 (top) and the projected number of days per year above 90°F by the 2080s and 2090s for lower emissions (middle [550 ppm]) and higher emissions (bottom).  Much of the southern United States is projected to have more than twice as many days per year above 90°F by the end of this century.

Look at Kansas.  By 2090, it’ll be above 90°F some 120 days a year — more than the entire summer. Much of Florida and Texas will be above 90°F for half the year.  These won’t be called heat waves anymore.  It’ll just be the “normal” climate.

Again, this isn’t news to CP readers.  Last July I summarized the very modest U.S. “heat wave” literature as follows (see “When can we expect extremely high surface temperatures?“):

Bottom line: By century’s end, extreme [i.e. peak] temperatures of up to 122°F would threaten most of the central, southern, and western U.S. Even worse, Houston and Washington, DC could experience temperatures exceeding 98°F for some 60 days a year.

So this is truly Hell — to match the High Water: Greenland ice sheet melting faster than expected and could raise East Coast sea levels an extra 20 inches by 2100 “” to more than 6 feet.

The time to act is long past.

I will have much more to blog on this essential report this week.

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68 Responses to Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year — and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!

  1. Gail says:

    “The time to act is long past.”

    The only hope I have is that we have enough brilliant scientists that will figure out, within the next 5 years, how to reverse the acidification of the oceans, and remove the CO2 from the atmosphere.

    If not, we are careening towards runaway warming that is totally out of control. For sure, species will go extinct, and soon.

    Maybe we can save ourselves if we jump on it.

    We should emulate the brave Iranians and organize massive marches to demand government action to halt climate change.

  2. Born in the 80s says:

    2080-2100? Who cares, I’ll probably be dead by then.

    And if I’m still alive at that point, I still wouldn’t care. Giving up big cars, McMansions, and meat for a few degrees of temperature difference is not a tradeoff I or many other people are willing to make.

    Oh, and did I mention that I’d be enjoying the milder winters?

  3. James Newberry says:

    The number of scientific observations about the alarming state of the planet plus the outflow of substantial analyses by governments and universities of what humanity is facing is overwhelming. If we don’t redefine mined hydrocarbons as material feedstocks ONLY and stop setting these materials on fire, we are lost to the ravages of societal collapse. The suffering, with planetary and human feedbacks (like increased AC due to rising heat), will be heartbreaking as it is already.

    If we engage in a trillion dollar war based on lies, what will it take to remove the corruption of the carbon/nuclear lobby in our government (and many around the world) so we can respond to a global emergency that threatens to swamp all institutions and resources for centuries to come? This issue is now passing through energy and economic frameworks and will soon become only a question of morality, sustenance and survival. The whole world is watching.

  4. Gail says:

    I forgot to add, we must develop of course alternative, clean energy sources AND huge plants to desalinate the ocean water.

    And recipes to make jellyfish palatable.

  5. ClaudeB says:

    Such dreadful figures raises only one question: how much do we spend on GHG reductions and how much do we spend on adaptation to this terrible scenario.

  6. David B. Benson says:

    Still another tipping point?

    Abrupt Global Warming Could Shift Monsoon Patterns, Hurt Agriculture
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611142354.htm

  7. Gail says:

    At the risk of seeming fanatical, I have to tell all you readers that climate change has already happened, and when the climate changes, according to scientists I have asked, there are inevitably massive extinctions associated with it.

    It’s quite clear that species with generational overturn will die out.

    It’s also, a complete mystery to me whether annual plants will be able to grow, since I have no idea what the mechanism is that blights some types of vegetation and not others.

    Is it temperature, precipitation, atmospheric composition, acid rain changing the composition of soil, ozone levels, or some impenetrably complex combination of factors?

    I DO NOT KNOW.

    Bus, I DO KNOW that we have unleashed a beast that is likely to exterminate us, all.

  8. Thank you Joe for delivering this important information.

    Since it is too late to really win the AGW challenge, so all future resources can only be allocated in two directions – toward adaptation (the now) and toward mitigation (the future).

    It is easy to see these in growing polarizing opposition – each side championing their cause — Adaptation strategies against those who favor mitigation engineering. The war is between a force that favors the comfort/survival of self now – refusing to spend anything in support of those who can envision the predicted scenarios of hardship struggles for human species survival in the future.

    But we can say this battle has already been fully engaged for some time. One side using the language of BAU + delay + denial (which can support the notion of adaptation but not mitigation) against the weaker and almost defeated politics and science predictions that call for mitigation by radical systemic industrial change.

    Without a current, widespread and serious tangible threat, and lacking the comfort of cheap carbon, we cannot seem to pull resources or much support away from the forces of pure adaptation.

    But the inexorable increasing pain will shift the sides in the conflict. Perhaps there will be sufficient population to march into the future. Few scenarios go beyond 2100.

    Interesting times to see all this happen.

    We’ll “just put some bleachers in the sun, and hold it on Highway 61″

  9. Rick Covert says:

    Born in the 80′s,

    I can’t speak for all my generation. I can only speak for myself. I was born in 1961 and my generation grew up on the fast compact muscle cars of the late 1960′s and early 70′s with their large V8 engines.

    All I can say is I’m sorry that I and my generation did not care enough to force the changes that the country needed to avoid dangerous global warming.

  10. Gail says:

    Rick C,

    from born in the 50′s,

    It was easy to be seduced by luxury. You had a hot car; I (still, but turned off) have an Aga.

    The question now is, how can people from every age group start to forge a movement that will halt climate change.

    Personally I think it’s high past time for huge protests.

    We should march, and demand governmental action, so that our president has the backing to enforce life-saving legislation.

  11. Bob Wright says:

    Born in the 80′s: May invasive species eat your fancy lawn, your air conditioning break down regularly, a tornado knock down your McMansion. May you catch malaria, ringworm and cholera, and lose your bid for the last bluefin tuna to a Japanese billionaire.

  12. Burke says:

    Strange, my computer models show that most of the United States will be covered with whipped cream and that we will be using head cheese for currency by the end of this century. While I am rechecking my calculations, I think that they are far more likely than this study.

    This “science” has gotten pathetic. Each new forecast has to be more grandiose than the previous. There is not one of these models which could pass as a forecasting model. So by all means, continue to believe. Ignore all evidence to the contrary. Ignore the total lack of a successful prediction in any of theses models. Get your sandwhich board and a bell and get out on the streets proclaiming the world is going to end. Just make sure that you keep the date of our demise well in the future and don’t let facts get in your way.

  13. Jim Eager says:

    Born in the 80s says…

    … some pretty dumb things with empty bravado written out of ignorance.

  14. Walt Haas says:

    The average temperature here in Salt Lake City has increased significantly in the last 30 years: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/slc/climate/slcclimate/SLC/graphs.php

  15. Actually Burke…

    Climate models are inaccurate, but they’re also incredibly useful.

    http://one-blue-marble.com/blog/2009/05/18/climate-models-the-unvarnished-truth/

    Additionally, we have a very simple way of testing models for accuracy: We can simulations to see how well they can predict the temperatures that have been observed for the last 130 or so years. And when you do that, you get a devastatingly accurate graph…

  16. Gail says:

    Burke, where are you from?

    If you live anywhere around where I do, I would be delighted to personally give you a tour of the rapidly accelerating mass extinction happening around my home, thanks to climate change.

    Are you anywhere else?

    Near a glacier, perhaps? Out in the west of the US, where the bark beetle, unchecked by normal freezing temperatures in winter, is consuming acres of trees?

    Or near the ocean anywhere? Where the acidification is destroying sea life…are you aware that the life in the sea provides us humans with oxygen, to breathe?

  17. Leland Palmer says:

    Terrible news, but not entirely unexpected, unfortunately.

    Each projection, each model exceeds the previous one. This is a very bad pattern.

    It’s these sorts of scenarios which make me believe that only a massive application of carbon negative bioenergy ideas can save us. By combining naturally carbon neutral biomass energy with carbon capture and sequestration, carbon negative bioenergy can actually put CO2 back underground at the same time that it generates electricity. This strategy can be hugely synergistic.

    What I advocate is seizing the coal fired power plants, and converting them to be more efficient by converting them to oxyfuel combustion and a topping cycle. This extra efficiency could then pay for the energy cost of cryogenically generating the oxygen and compressing the resulting nearly pure stream of CO2 for deep injection into saline aquifers deep in the earth.

    One such saline aquifer is the Mount Simon Sandstone saline reservoir, which may be able to store as much as a hundred billion tons of CO2:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/carbonstorage/#previouspost

    The CO2 will be piped into a geological formation that underlies parts of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky that could eventually hold more than 100 billion tons of CO2.

    Kansas State University also has the Natcarb database, which has interactive maps showing locations of potential deep saline reservoirs. Scientists are also looking at the Juan de Fuca plate off of the Pacific Northwest, another huge potential deep storage site, with highly fractured and porous basalt that could potenially chemically react with CO2 to form stable carbonates.

    Needless to say, digging more carbon out of the ground at this point is just plain nuts. But seizing these coal fired power plants and converting them to carbonized biomass (pelletized charcoal), plus carbon sequestration would actually make them carbon negative, and could potentially save us if this was done fast enough and universally enough.

    Many existing coal fired power plants are on large rivers, such as the Ohio River, because they need large amounts of cooling water. Many of these rivers are navigable, or could be made so by refurbishing old locks or building new locks for them. All of the territory upstream of each plant becomes potential biomass collection area for carbonized biomass. River transport, when possible, is at least as cheap as rail transport, and in many cases is cheaper. The entire Mississippi basin, when looked at with this idea in mind, could become a huge natural biocarbon transport network.

    Carbonizing biomass and compressing it into a material sometimes called biocarbon, biocoal, or biochar, produces a fuel that is as stable, decay resistant, and transportable as coal.

    We need to seize the coal fired power plants, and transform them into more efficient carbon negative power plants, that burn biocarbon fuel and simultaneously capture their CO2, for deep injection.

  18. Hello friend:

    Excellent blog. I would like to change links with you.
    Iam cuban but I live in USA
    I hope you respond soon.
    Tahanks.
    Rafael

  19. Jay Fitz says:

    The only protest I can possibly see as effective at this late date is to personally and radically change the manner in which one lives, not only because it is the right thing to do and will encourage others to do the same, but because soon enough only such a lifestyle of radical sustainability and simplicity will allow one to survive with any security or quality of life.

  20. MikeN says:

    Sounds like we need to get some nuke plants up and running as fast as we can. And maybe throw in a carbon tax on China, which has the most emissions, and is emitting more than the global per capita.

  21. jorleh says:

    And the deniers? In the last ditch? We have a good time to read their idiotic jargon against the settled science. But the billions to die miserably in the hands of those criminals have no good time any more.

    Must we go to streets like the people in the country you know?

  22. Jim Beacon says:

    “Born in the 80′s” comment, is, unfortunately, a typical Joe Six Pak reaction to these kind of long-term projections. That is why such reports are useless unless they are coupled in the same breath or paragraph with solid reasons WHY a 10 degree F temperature rise is deadly: Because most of our agriculture will fail with that kind of warming, because supplies of fresh water will dry up, because most of entire American South will become a desert, because insects and diseases will spread much more rapidly, because there will be a lot more catastrophic wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.

    If journalists don’t make it a point to *always* connect the consequences to the temperature rise in their writing, then the average American (who usually doesn’t bother to think beyond the next lane change) will simply shrug and say, “So what? I’ll just turn up my air-conditioning.”

  23. Anna Haynes says:

    Jim Beacon, I want to recommend your comment.

    “If journalists don’t make it a point to *always* connect the consequences to the temperature rise in their writing, then the average American (who usually doesn’t bother to think beyond the next lane change) will simply shrug and say, “So what? I’ll just turn up my air-conditioning.”

  24. Anna Haynes says:

    Can we have an image like that with the thermometer in Fahrenheit? The average American (who usually doesn’t bother to think beyond the next lane change) won’t think to make the conversion.

  25. Anna Haynes says:

    (or is it already in F…perhaps I misread it as C, it’s hard to make out)

  26. Peter Croft says:

    Has anyone noticed the strange uptick in global CO2 in the last couple of months? There is nothing like it in previous years.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/trends/co2_trend_gl.pdf

  27. Gail says:

    Peter Croft, that is interesting. Perhaps it has to do with the oceans being saturated. And I would like to know, if humans and all other forms of life have adapted to breathe a particular mix of atmospheric gasses, at what point will we all expire if said atmospheric mix is altered?

  28. Anne Waple (USGCRP) says:

    Hi all,
    Please check out the live webcast of the press conference this afternoon: whitehouse.gov/live and our webpage that will have all the info globalchange.gov/usimpacts – all available at 1.30pm

    One of the key things we’ll be discussing is that we have significant choices to determine the pathway forward.

    thanks!

  29. dhogaza says:

    This “science” has gotten pathetic. Each new forecast has to be more grandiose than the previous. There is not one of these models which could pass as a forecasting model.

    The Hadley Center’s coupled model’s atmospheric have IS a forecasting model. The same one used to make official UK weather forecasts. It’s run on a longer timescale with a larger grid structure but it’s the same model.

    Feel dumb, now? You should.

  30. dhogaza says:

    atmospheric HALF, sorry.

  31. dhogaza says:

    Peter Croft, that is interesting. Perhaps it has to do with the oceans being saturated.

    No, I’m not sure what it is but that’s not why (if it were true, acidification would be a done deal, not an ongoing problem).

    And I would like to know, if humans and all other forms of life have adapted to breathe a particular mix of atmospheric gasses, at what point will we all expire if said atmospheric mix is altered?

    Toxicity levels for CO2 are an order of magnitude (at least) higher than even any possible scenario for CO2 levels due to anthropogenic sources.

    There are plenty of things to worry about, that’s not one.

  32. P. G. Dudda says:

    Here’s a scary thought… the projected temperature increase is enough to boost Minneapolis’ average January temp to a couple degrees below freezing. (Assuming the increase is uniform across the whole year, which isn’t necessarily a given.) Goodbye white Christmases, hello mudflaps for Santa’s reindeer!

  33. SamB says:

    The Department of Energy on Friday announced that the FutureGen project is on track after all, committing federal stimulus money to advance the project to its next stage. One reason: It was the only shovel-ready project that fits the requirements of the stimulus bill. Administration officials and the project’s other big backer, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), insist that’s not an earmark at all, as promised – because the stimulus bill doesn’t specifically name the FutureGen project as a recipient of the money.

    Obama is funding coal energy. Earmarks, pork and lobbyist activity. Looks like coal is back.

  34. Some details from The Guardian.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/16/obama-climate-change-impacts

    The report, produced by more than 30 scientists at 13 government agencies dealing with climate change, provides the most detailed picture to date of the worst case scenarios of rising sea levels and extreme weather events: floods in lower Manhattan; a quadrupling of heat waves deaths in Chicago; withering on the vineyards of California; the disappearance of wildflowers from the slopes of the Rockies; and the extinction of Alaska’s wild polar bears in the next 75 years…

    …US cities will be choking because of deteriorating air quality; leisure pursuits will disappear. The report predicts that the ski season in the north-east will be 20% shorter. As for summer holidays, 14 of 17 North Carolina beaches will be permanently underwater by 2080, the draft forecasts.

  35. Keith says:

    I had great hope in Obama, but all his admins.’ moves seem to be half measures. Which won’t be nearly enough. Are any of the scientists here aware of any REALISTIC technologies on the horizon for removing CO2 from the atmosphere? If not, it looks like it’s time to talk adaptation.

    [JR: Well, if doing more than every previous president combined is half measures then I can't wait for the full measure. The REALISTIC technologies are discussed in posts on the sidebar on the solution.]

  36. paulm says:

    >>Peter Croft Says:June 16th, 2009 at 3:24 am Has anyone noticed the strange uptick in global CO2 in the last couple of months? There is nothing like it in previous years.
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/ gmd/ webdata/ ccgg/ trends/ co2_trend_gl.pdf

    Does not look good!
    And the sun is coming out of its minima!

  37. SecularAnimist says:

    Burke wrote: “This ‘science’ has gotten pathetic.”

    Why is it that some people who are ignorant about climate science think the problem is the science, and not their ignorance?

  38. Morris says:

    Looking at the triptych above note the areas in yellow and red, representing 110 or more “days over 90F” annually. Currently, these conditions coincide with areas which do not support deciduous forest, and where agriculture is completely dependent on irrigation.

    As these areas move north, it is very likely that the forests will give way, and agriculture will be severely impacted in the absence of irrigation.

    This is without the lurking tipping point monsters coming into play.

    How much carbon will be released from existing forest ecosystems as they die (burn up?) Ditto for the temperate forests around the world?

    I wonder if they have failed to plug in the CO2 releases from dying forests into the models as feedback.

    Copenhagen has got to work.

  39. Keith says:

    But JR,
    don’t we have a small window in which we have to make large cuts in CO2? From what I’ve read we already have significant warming in the “pipeline.” Now is no time for bipartisan half-steps when the loyal opposition are really anit-science fools. And the solutions cited are really mitigating measures, not removal measures.

  40. Morris says:

    Keith,

    You wrote: “Are any of the scientists here aware of any REALISTIC technologies on the horizon for removing CO2 from the atmosphere?”

    If you got to Chu’s DOE press release, here, http://www.energy.gov/news2009/7405.htm there is this tantalizing statement: “The second part of the solicitation will include innovative concepts for beneficial CO2 reuse (CO2 mineralization, algae production, etc.) and CO2 capture from the atmosphere”

    CO2 capture from the atmosphere?

    Chu might be getting some ideas…

  41. MikeN says:

    Morris, plant a tree.

  42. EconoClime says:

    A 10F rise in temperatures? Preposterous–this is just more fearmongering from self-hating Westerners who want to destroy the U.S. economy by throwing money down the toilet on ineffective and expensive carbon controls and energy taxes.

    Note the date: 2080. The date is 70 years in the future because they can avoid accountability that way. No one will remember this B.S. prediction in 70 years when it turns out to be FALSE (as it invariably will, even if nothing whatsoever is done regarding man made emissions).

    [JR: Well argued! Actually, within two decades, even delayers like you will realize that this projection is dead on.]

  43. PaulK says:

    dhogaza,

    “The Hadley Center’s coupled model’s atmospheric have IS a forecasting model. The same one used to make official UK weather forecasts. It’s run on a longer timescale with a larger grid structure but it’s the same model.”

    Would a comparison of Hadley seasonal meteorological forecasts to actual observations be useful in determining the robustness of their climate model?

  44. SteveM says:

    So at the end of the century, Kansas temperature is going to be similar to the present temps where I am living right now? Meh.

  45. Gail says:

    Morris you are correct. I have stopped planting trees – it is a waste of money. Perhaps some species will survive if and when the climate stabilizes, but as long as it is changing faster than the trees can adapt, they are not going to make it.

    For instance, in NJ, the winters do not get cold enough anymore for the trees and shrubs to go dormant. But we still get cold snaps. This past winter we had two where the temperatures were in the teens or lower for over a week each time. You could see the leaves on evergreen shrubs shriveling up, and many subsequently turned brown and fell off. You could see the bark split and fray from the sap freezing and expanding.

    Perhaps eventually we won’t get the cold snaps at all anymore, and some species will survive or be supplanted by others that like warmer temperatures and drier conditions. But who knows how long that will be.

    Yesterday we had hail and snow, go figure!

  46. @ Paul K…

    To test the robustness of climate models, you can input the data, and have a look at how accurately models forecast temperatures over the last 130 years. And the answer is very well… As Dr. Holdren suggests, this is the climate change smoking gun…

    I pulled this graph from one of his talks last year.

    http://one-blue-marble.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/computer-models.jpg

    Of course, deniers can argue that this historical accuracy offers no proof that models will accurately predict the future, and they might be right. But all the scientific evidence suggests otherwise, and they’re be asking us to bet the future of humanity on a 250-1 long shot.

  47. Anna Haynes says:

    > Chu’s DOE press release…tantalizing statement…innovative concepts”

    Keep in mind that
    - according to the org chart linked to from http://www.er.doe.gov/about/Organization.htm -
    former Cheney speechwriter (and World Politics PhD) Jeffrey Salmon ( climate delayer, and Executive Director of the George C. Marshall Institute from 1991 to 2001) is still DOE’s Deputy Director for Resource Management, which makes him “responsible for managing the following offices within the Office of Science: Program Direction and Analysis; Grants and Contracts; Budget; Business Policy and Operations; Human Capital Resources; and Science and Technical Information.”

    I hope it’s just the website, that’s out of date.

  48. Anne says:

    CSW has been live-blogging on the briefing and the report.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/6/16/125221/600?new=true

    What are readers’ comments on the issue Seth Borenstein raised?

    “Tipping Points” vs “Thresholds” what’s the diff? (0+ / 0-)

    Assoc. Press reporter Seth Borenstein asked a good question about the rewording of a particular point in the report — a difference in wording from the April 27 draft still posted on line and the final version released today.

    At issue is the statement, one of 10 “Key Findings” in the Executive Summary:

    9. Tipping points have already been reached and have led to large changes. Changes in climate have pushed ecosystems beyond tipping points. With further climate change, if more tipping points are crossed, additional important services that ecosystems provide to society will be diminished.

    The final version released today reads:

    9. Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems. There are a variety of thresholds in the climate system and ecosystems. These thresholds determine, for example, the presence of sea ice and permafrost, and the survival of species, from fish to insect pests, with implications for society. With further climate change, the crossing of additional thresholds is expected.

    Seth B’s question was along the lines of: Why the change in wording? Doesn’t the draft version speak to what has already happened, and the final version speak only to what will happen? Aren’t there thresholds or tipping points we have already crossed?

    Jerry Melillo responded by saying that the essential difference in the terms “tipping point” and “threshold” is the concept of reversibility — many thresholds are reversible, tipping points not. Example is salmon exposed to temps above 70 degrees — morbidity and mortality occurs above the threshold temp, but salmon recouperate when Ts go back down. However, sea level rise is irreversible, once coastal land is inundated, it’s inundated, no going back.

    Seth followed with wanting to know which thresholds have been crossed that are irreversible and thus represent “tipping points” — Melillo responded by saying that some tipping points have been reached, the best example is the onset of sea level rise.

    CSW will be blogging about this issue — it’s good fodder for public policy discussions especially about the lack of “preparedness” in the US for climate impacts. Some changes will be unavoidable, and of those, some will be irreversible. The question is, what are we willing to withstand, in exchange for the right to continue emitting heat-trapping gases into our already CO2-heavy atmosphere? At the very least, it’s food for thought.

    We’ll be on the lookout for the AP post on this, and other press coverage, stay tuned….

  49. Gail says:

    and a comment to that story at goes reads like this:

    Extreme weather damaging the trees (4+ / 0-)
    I live in a wooded area in Kentucky and for the last 3 years we’ve had extreme weather that’s damaged the forest. First it was drought. I would guess around 10% of the trees died outright. Then it was a late freeze in spring, which killed all the leaves. The freeze wasn’t too bad since trees are able to leaf out again. This spring was the ice storm, which was an eerie, end-of-the-world kind of experience. Every 20-30 seconds you could hear something breaking and falling to the ground. Usually a treetop but often an uprooted tree. Very few were undamaged, maybe as many as 5% are gone.

    I’m starting to wonder if this woods I have lived most of my life in will be here ten years from now.

    by Jack the R on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 10:33:44 AM PDT

    I would respond but I have to wait 24 hours after registering.

  50. Rusman says:

    It isn’t the pollution of the muscle cars of yesteryear, or even today, that is the biggest problem. It’s the industrializing nations that didn’t know (Europeans, United States, Canada) or do not care (China, India, South America, etc.). Those are the biggest sources of climate change. Oh, and add to that the increase in population. More people, more pollution. Wipe some people out and you’ll start addressing the issue.

  51. Mike (Republic of Texas) says:

    Global warming is caused by solar input, right? Seems pretty simple — just but a gigantic sun shade in orbit so as to reduce the amount of solar input… If we do it right, we can knock ourselves into the next Ice Age and Texas will have a *temperate* climate again…

  52. Anna Haynes says:

    re Chu’s press release, mentioned above, and Salmon’s presence there as #2 of DOE Science (until July 2008, when he burrowed in) – paging Ike Solem, could this help to explain your (Ike’s) observations that “the DOE is not a reliable source of information on energy technology, even though they are given an annual budget of $25 billion plus to do just that”?

  53. PaulK says:

    Richard Levangie.

    Thanks for the unattributed chart from another blog. My question to Dhogaza is what is it about the observed accuracy of Hadley’s meteorological forecasts that gives him confidence in the accuracy of their climate model?

  54. PaulK says:

    oops, I see the chart is from a talk by Dr. Holdren. Was he a coauthor of the amazingly inaccurate late ’60s theory The Population Bomb by Paul Erlich?

    [JR: No. And this report is not by Holdren. You are starting to worry me.]

  55. dhogaza says:

    My question to Dhogaza is what is it about the observed accuracy of Hadley’s meteorological forecasts that gives him confidence in the accuracy of their climate model?

    Burke made a false statement. I corrected it.

    I’m well aware that such models are unable to make accurate forecasts further out than a few days, more or less depending on location (and the UK’s a very difficult place to forecast for, as is the Pacific Northwest where I live, possible the hardest part of the lower 48).

    Fortunately the initial state problem and grid resolution issues that make precise local weather forecasts impossible over a period more than a few days out, aren’t a problem for projecting the expected path of average climate over a long period of time.

    I can’t predict if it will rain on July 4th, 2009 in Portland Oregon. I would bet my life savings that the average temperature for the month of July will be warmer than it was last December in my city. This illustrates the difference between climate and weather. Not being able to predict the precise weather on one day in July doesn’t mean I can’t say useful things about the average expected temperature in July taken over several years.

    Folks like you continue to conflate the two problems intentionally. It has to be intentional because the very real difference gets repeated in various venues dozens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of times each and every day.

    You can chant “the fact that they can’t predict the weather on july 4th 2009 means they can’t say anything about climate patterns” all you want, but the fact is, it just makes you look stupid.

  56. dhogaza says:

    “the DOE is not a reliable source of information on energy technology, even though they are given an annual budget of $25 billion plus to do just that”

    From what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t consider Ike Solem a reliable source, either.

  57. dhogaza says:

    Would a comparison of Hadley seasonal meteorological forecasts to actual observations be useful in determining the robustness of their climate model?

    PaulK, no.

    Atmospheric models, when used to research climate, aren’t run in order to create forecasts. Indeed, typically what’s presented is the average of many runs, which gives you a trend and error bars if, for instance, you’re interested in what’s going to happen to *average* temperature over a decades-long timescale.

    Generating weather forecasts for a particular day and geographical location is a different, and much harder, problem due to the inability to precisely represent the current state of the real system, grid resolution, etc. We will never solve the weather forecasting problem, just make incremental improvements as computers get quicker and more details are learned about the physical processes.

  58. Morris says:

    Anne, both Salmon and what the DOE is doing with most of their budget are points well worth investigating.

    GCM and Heritage have cost this country hundreds of billions of dollars. Since the 80′s.

    But, give Chu a fair hearing. I am willing to imagine a well developed CCS technology being a usable wedge in the future, with biomass cofiring.

  59. PaulK says:

    JR, I’m glad someone is worrying about me. I did a Google search and Holden was indeed an Erlich adherent and collaborator. See:Ehrlich, Paul R.; Holdren, John P. (1969), “Population and Panaceas A Technological Perspective”, Bioscience 19: 1065–1071.

    Dhogaza,

    I thought the Hadley weather model and climate model are separate entities and it seemed you were saying they are one and the same in you response to Burke.

    The Hadley Center regularly makes seasonal forecasts for Great Britain and also annual global temperature predictions at least for the last few years. I’m just wondering how accurate they’ve been.

  60. Lou Grinzo says:

    Like most people here, I find this report very depressing and not at all surprising. I’m glad that they did the study, and I’m very glad that the production values for the report are so high. I know how trivial that sounds, but the less this report looks like just another bland report from the guvmint, and the more it looks like a book you might see in Barnes and Noble, the more effective it will be in reaching the mainstream consumers and voters.

    One thing that worries me deeply (aside from the incessant thrum and hum of the denierbots) is the issue of the cognitive gap between what we think we know and what’s really going on with the climate. We’ve had a tidal wave of stories in recent months that all fit the general theme: “New study shows that X is worse than we thought”, where X is some symptom of climate chaos. This tells me two things:

    First, despite the dedication, ingenuity, and all around braininess of the climate scientists, we still don’t know nearly as much about the mechanics of Earth’s climate as we’d prefer. As I say endlessly on my site, timing is everything, and in this case we managed to trigger climate chaos before we really knew how things worked. So we’re forced to play catch up.

    Second, the real-world change MIGHT be accelerating. Even as science accelerates its efforts to understand what’s going on so they can close the gap, the actual change is still pulling away from us. (Deniers: Please don’t try to understand the concept of accelerating but still falling farther behind; it will only make you queasy.) I certainly hope this isn’t true, and that it’s just the normal and normally wholly appropriate caution of scientists that’s keeping them from eliminating that cognitive gap.

  61. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=38914&src=eoa-iotd
    The rain has moved north from Iraq to Iran.

    It is raining too much here in Illinois. Agriculture has collapsed in Australia because the rain moved. There is a pattern already, and the result is famine.

  62. Dear Global Warming deniers: Global Warming Has Already Happened. In the mid 19th century, the Mississippi river froze over in the winter so you could drive on it at St. Louis. That’s how St Louis became known as the gateway to the west. Now the Mississippi river is often ice-free at Davenport, Iowa. If you want to drive on the river, you have to go at least as far North as Minnesota. Cattaraugus County New York [Olean, Little Valley] got 450 inches [37.5 feet] of snow per year in the 1950s and 1960s. Now it gets only 96 inches of snow per year. Hurricane season starts in spring now. Hurricane season used to start in the fall. The hurricanes are bigger now than ever before. At Barrow, Alaska, the grave yard washed away because the fast[ened to the land] sea ice melted.
    We humans have caused 1.3 degrees Farenheit of global warming since we started burning coal circa 1750. Global warming started with the steam engine. COAL is still the biggest contributor to CO2 production. If we do not stop producing 70 Million tons per day of CO2 [carbon dioxide], we so-called “humans” will go extinct.
    You just aren’t old enough to have been here in the year 1700.

  63. dhogaza says:

    I thought the Hadley weather model and climate model are separate entities and it seemed you were saying they are one and the same in you response to Burke.

    The climate model couples (the “C” in “GCM”) their ocean and atmospheric models.

    That’s why I used the phrase “atmospheric half”.

    It’s possible that you, not involved with Hadley, are right.

    While Hadley, who is doing the work, is lying.

    The Hadley Center regularly makes seasonal forecasts for Great Britain and also annual global temperature predictions at least for the last few years. I’m just wondering how accurate they’ve been.

    Not so accurate. This is a hard problem, much harder than the averaged error-bar constrained climate predictions based on many runs, where accuracy on specific time-frames isn’t the goal.

  64. PaulK says:

    dhogaza,

    “where accuracy on specific time-frames isn’t the goal.”

    The goal, of course, is accuracy for specific CO2 ppm levels.

    I don’t think I implied in any way that Hadley is lying about anything. I do want to know how much confidence I can put in their climate projections. Sticking to the atmospheric half. Hadley has for at least the last couple years put out an annual projection based on the most likely GCM output.

    All I’m asking is, “Is it all right to use a comparison of the accuracy of these model based projections to actual observations is assessing the potential accuracy of the model’s higher CO2 projections?”

  65. Gail says:

    Cattaraugus County New York [Olean, Little Valley] got 450 inches [37.5 feet] of snow per year in the 1950s and 1960s. Now it gets only 96 inches of snow per year.

    Asteroid Miner, where did you find this information? I find locating these records quite difficult.

    Here’s a new report forwarded to me by Jenny Ross:

    http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=42708

    I haven’t had a chance to check the sources linked at the end. But I suspect this is another case of the data lagging behind the reality, Lou Grinzo. We had no fall color in New Jersey in 2008, everything just went to brown.

    Not pretty.

  66. dhogaza says:

    All I’m asking is, “Is it all right to use a comparison of the accuracy of these model based projections to actual observations is assessing the potential accuracy of the model’s higher CO2 projections?”

    Using proper statistics over a long enough time to generate a statistically valid trend, computing proper uncertainty, yes. This applies to both model outputs and observed trend.

    Recognize that short-term regional projections come with large uncertainty (“error bars”).

  67. Chris Winter says:

    Richard Pauli wrote (in part): “We’ll “just put some bleachers in the sun, and hold it on Highway 61.”

    Yes, I think that can be easily done… ;-)

    Thanks for the memory-jogger.

  68. Chris Winter says:

    Burke wrote: “This “science” has gotten pathetic. Each new forecast has to be more grandiose than the previous. There is not one of these models which could pass as a forecasting model.”

    If the models and studies over the past few years had projected successively smaller temperature increases, would you believe them then?

    “So by all means, continue to believe. Ignore all evidence to the contrary.”

    Provide some, or point us to it. But make it valid evidence.

    “Ignore the total lack of a successful prediction in any of these models.”

    They have made some. If you’d done your homework, you’d know about them.

    “Get your sandwhich board and a bell and get out on the streets proclaiming the world is going to end. Just make sure that you keep the date of our demise well in the future and don’t let facts get in your way.”

    As I recall, only your side makes that claim — unless by “the world” you mean the civilization the developed world currently enjoys.

    And by the way, it’s “sandwich.” After the Earl of. Look it up.