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New York Times front-page story: In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming!

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"New York Times front-page story: In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming!"

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Trenberth: “It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.”

The floods battered New England, then Nashville, then Arkansas, then Oklahoma “” and were followed by a deluge in Pakistan that has upended the lives of 20 million people.

The summer’s heat waves baked the eastern United States, parts of Africa and eastern Asia, and above all Russia, which lost millions of acres of wheat and thousands of lives in a drought worse than any other in the historical record.

Seemingly disconnected, these far-flung disasters are reviving the question of whether global warming is causing more weather extremes.

The collective answer of the scientific community can be boiled down to a single word: probably.

That’s the opening of “In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming!”  It is one of the better recent major media articles on global warming and extreme weather — and the best front page New York Times climate article in years.

The NYT is clearly making a major statement since not only is this “above the fold,” but it takes up most of the front page with  large photos of what’s happening in Pakistan and Russia and the U.S. (see Russian Meteorological Center: “There was nothing similar to this on the territory of Russia during the last one thousand years in regard to the heat.” and Hottest* July in RSS satellite record, record floods swamp Pakistan, U.S. set 1480 temperature records in past two months, and 2010 breaks 2007 record for most nations setting all-time temperature records):

NYT small

Lots of good stuff in the story:

“The climate is changing,” said Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate analysis at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. “Extreme events are occurring with greater frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity.”

He described excessive heat, in particular, as “consistent with our understanding of how the climate responds to increasing greenhouse gases.”

Theory suggests that a world warming up because of those gases will feature heavier rainstorms in summer, bigger snowstorms in winter, more intense droughts in at least some places and more record-breaking heat waves. Scientists and government reports say the statistical evidence shows that much of this is starting to happen.

But the averages do not necessarily make it easier to link specific weather events, like a given flood or hurricane or heat wave, to climate change. Most climate scientists are reluctant to go that far, noting that weather was characterized by remarkable variability long before humans began burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher with NASA in New York. “If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no “” at least not yet.”

That is a distinction always worth remembering.  The  scientific literature is primarily filled with that which can be proven — and  most climate scientists are unwilling to  make public statements that go beyond what can be proven.  That is  a key reason so much of the scientific literature is conservative or  understates what is likely to come  on our current path of unrestricted emissions.  And that goes double for  reviews of the scientific literature that must be signed off on word for word by major governments, like the IPCC.

That’s why  talking to lots top climate scientists is so important for  reporters or anyone who want to understand what is coming.  That’s  how you learn what they really believe and  what they expect will appear in the scientific literature in the coming years.

Here’s more from the NYT:

In Russia, that kind of scientific caution might once have been embraced. Russia has long played a reluctant, and sometimes obstructionist, role in global negotiations over limiting climate change, perhaps in part because it expected economic benefits from the warming of its vast Siberian hinterland.

But the extreme heat wave, and accompanying drought and wildfires, in normally cool central Russia seems to be prompting a shift in thinking.

“Everyone is talking about climate change now,” President Dmitri A. Medvedev told the Russian Security Council this month. “Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past.”

Thermometer measurements show that the earth has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. For this January through July, average temperatures were the warmest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Friday.

The warming has moved in fits and starts, and the cumulative increase may sound modest. But it is an average over the entire planet, representing an immense amount of added heat, and is only the beginning of a trend that most experts believe will worsen substantially.

Even Nashville’s Katrina,  which was  severely underreported by the major media, makes the NYT story (see “Stunning NOAA map of Tennessee’s 1000-year deluge“):

Scientists say they expect stronger storms, in winter and summer, largely because of the physical principle that warmer air can hold more water vapor.

Typically, a storm of the sort that inundated parts of Tennessee in May, dumping as much as 19 inches of rain over two days, draws moisture from an area much larger than the storm itself. With temperatures rising and more water vapor in the air, such storms can pull in more moisture and thus rain or snow more heavily than storms of old.

It will be a year or two before climate scientists publish definitive analyses of the Russian heat wave and the Pakistani floods, which might shed light on the role of climate change, if any. Some scientists suspect that they were caused or worsened by an unusual kink in the jet stream, the high-altitude flow of air that helps determine weather patterns, though that itself might be linked to climate change. Certain recent weather events were so extreme that a few scientists are shedding their traditional reluctance to ascribe specific disasters to global warming.

After a heat wave in Europe in 2003 that killed an estimated 50,000 people, the worst such catastrophe for that region in the historical record, scientists published detailed analyses suggesting that it would not have been as severe in a climate uninfluenced by greenhouse gases.

And Dr. Trenberth has published work suggesting that Hurricane Katrina dumped at least somewhat more rain on the Gulf Coast because the storm was intensified by global warming.

“It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability,” Dr. Trenberth said. “Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.”

Kudos to the New York Times and reporter Justin Gillis for this story.

Related Post:

  • Media wakes up to Hell and High Water: Moscow’s 1000-year heat wave and “Pakistan’s Katrina”:  BBC, Reuters, USA Today, Time link warming and extreme weather; Trenberth, Stott, and Masters explain the science
  • Exclusive interview — NCAR’s Trenberth on the link between global warming and extreme deluges: “I find it systematically tends to get underplayed and it often gets underplayed by my fellow scientists. Because one of the opening statements, which I’m sure you’ve probably heard is “Well you can’t attribute a single event to climate change.” But there is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future.”
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49 Responses to New York Times front-page story: In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming!

  1. CruelIrony says:

    Unrelated to this post but, here in the UK @20:00 GMT using Google Chrome, on trying to access ClimateProgress I received this notice:

    What is the current listing status for blog.sciencecreative.com?
    Site is listed as suspicious – visiting this website may harm your computer.

    Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 2 time(s) over the past 90 days.

    What happened when Google visited this site?
    Of the 97 pages that we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 8 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time that Google visited this site was on 2010-08-15, and the last time that suspicious content was found on this site was on 2010-08-15…..
    ———————————————————————

    I have no idea what this means perhaps someone needs to investigate?

    I was able to acess this site using Internet Explorer without any notification.

  2. _Flin_ says:

    At last.

    Btw., I get a malware warning in Chrome when trying to open climateprogress.com. Due to content from blog.sciencecreative.com

  3. fj2 says:

    Yes, this is a well-written article.

    One glaring omission seems to be that most of the heat is going into the world’s oceans and the reason observed changes are not more extreme.

  4. Leif says:

    A big improvement there NY Times. I think it might be the first report that I have seen that did not give the majority of column inches to the anti-science folks. Although the NY Times needs to be commended, I am reluctant to give too much praise as they have years of crap to atone for. We will see if this is in fact a new leaf or if the sell out continues. I sure hope this report is a sign of things to come. So, a qualified thumbs up for the moment.

  5. Steinadler says:

    On a somewhat smaller scale, but still… Denmark, last night:

    http://politiken.dk/indland/article1037051.ece
    http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/verden/1.7249253

    In the video in that second link the woman standing on the bridge says: “I’m shocked. I’ve been living here for twenty years. I’ve never experienced anything like it. This is not supposed to be happening in Denmark.”

  6. fj2 says:

    4. Leif, “I sure hope this report is a sign of things to come.”

    Perhaps other pressures are being made canceling or eliminating those from big oil.

    In the past, big oil lied when it committed to the cessation of its disinformation campaigns.

    We are now in a state of international emergency which the oil industry has caused.

  7. Nell Reece says:

    I read somewhere a reporter felt that the scientist she spoke with were scared. It was a couple years ago.
    I wish somebody would do a survey and ask the top climate scientist to take their scientist hats off and just as people: are you scared?

  8. fj2 says:

    7. Nell Reece, Yes, that was my reaction — all of a sudden at probably the most prominent climate science institution with some of the best scientists — more than a couple of years ago; maybe as early as 2003/2004.

    It seemed clear that they did not know what to do.

    So goes the academy. Others can do better with their data.

  9. rpauli says:

    Chrome browser is still reporting a warning message for CP.
    The Firefox browser and Internet Explorer lists it as OK

    Chrome browsers represent somewhere between 5 and 15% of users… depending on the measuring source. Call it 8%

    That is a fair chunk to have problems.

  10. Robert says:

    http://blog.sciencecreative.com/ gives me an AVG Threat Blocked notification.

    What’s it got to do with CP?

    [JR: Let me know if I've fixed it.]

  11. Robert says:

    Here is the table of temperatures for Jan-July 2010. However you look at it every record is either 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the all time record list.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global&year=2010&month=7&submitted=Get+Report#year-to-date

    We get “Russia today” on Freeview in the UK. I am beginning to think they are a “skeptic” outlet. In this interview they give Monkton 80% of the airtime and put him up against a couple of opponents who don’t seem to be able to string a sentence together – a new tactic I haven’t seen before.

    http://vodpod.com/watch/4212715-chilly-climate-rt-crosstalk?u=seeker401&c=seeker401

  12. homunq says:

    You can’t attribute just one storm to global warming, just like you can’t attribute one bit of forgetfulness to Alzheimers. But right now, we’re 3 miles from home in our underwear and we don’t know how we got here; a diagnosis is now possible.

    (I get the chrome/sciencecreative warning too)

  13. homunq says:

    Or more like Korsakov’s syndrome (permanent alcoholic amnesia).

  14. Anonymous says:

    chrome’s ok by me

  15. catman306 says:

    The site sciencecreative needs to find the malware and remove it from their website. Then they need to find the source and make sure it doesn’t reappear. When you no longer get the warning message, the problem has been solved.

    A similar warning from Google appears in Safari 4.1.1..

    Once I ignored such a warning at another site and it crashed Safari but another time it actually crashed Mac OS 10.4. I have never been to sciencecreative..

    Don’t go there until they fix it.

    No reason to be scared. (But then, I’m of retirement age and have no children and certainly am not a climate scientist. )

    This year’s weather is our new climate. Plant trees and sequester carbon, stop burning fossil fuels, NOW! Or the weather in a few years will make us long for 2010. Please listen to the people who want to return carbon to 350 ppm.

    In order for future generations to solve this political/economic/societal energy problem, first, there have to be future generations. We need to give them the chance.

  16. lizardo says:

    These events are so mind-boggling and coming so thick and fast that surely the idea that “global warming” is either far off or some beneficial thing should be dead as the dodo for any thinking person. In other words if more of this sort of thing is what “global warming” (or “climate change”) means, well, then er, no thanks.

    But only if more media get on the job to connect these unconnected dots. (Good job Joe on picking up on all these recent converts.)

  17. Foppe says:

    Brilliant. Back when the NYT first reported on the russian fires and heat wave, they did not mention medvedev mentioning ‘climate change’ at all, yet now they pretend they found it an interesting shift in russian policy all along.

  18. fj2 says:

    Graphic OP-ED

    Moscow Through A Cloud of Smoke, Vera Pavlova, NY Times OP-ED, August 14, 2010

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/opinion/15pavlova.html

  19. Omega Centauri says:

    I hope the NYT coming back is for real, not just a one off aberration.

    About those Chrome warning. I’m not using Chrome. My own computer with Suse 9.3 gets stuck in an apparently infinite loop with CP (i.e. Blue background, and the bottom of the page never quits giving messages about loading. I complained about this about six Months ago, but was ignored. I can only access this site from another computer, which is why my comments have been sporadic.

  20. E.A. says:

    McShane and Wyner*might* change our understanding of climate before the modern temperature record, but it really will have no effect on our basic understanding of the radiative implications of increasing greenhouse gases . Already people are claiming this invalidates climate models, despite the fact this has nothing to do with them and is only talking about proxy reconstructions of temperatures.

    It also suggests that although the ”hockey stick’ may not be the correct shape, the warming in the temperature record seems real, e.g. “For k = 10, k = 30, and k = 60, we estimate a zero posterior probability that the past thousand years contained run-ups larger than those we have experienced over the past ten, thirty, and sixty years (again, the largest such run-ups on record). This suggests that the temperature derivatives encountered over recent history are unprecedented in the millennium” but with the caveat “insofar as the proxies cannot capture sharp run-ups, our model’s reconstructions will not be able to either and therefore will tend to understate the probability of such run-ups.”

    Anyone who claims this papers somehow negates the findings in the temperature record, oceanic heat content, changing plant hardiness zones, altered migration patterns, etc… isn’t looking at the whole picture or is being purposely misleading.

  21. ozajh says:

    I can’t help thinking that a series of Gulf Hurricanes on top of everything else would have changed a lot more minds in the US.

  22. Anon says:

    The cynic in me wants to know who’s on vacation at the NYT right now.
    (I hope the cynic is off base)

  23. Doug Bostrom says:

    Major says: August 15, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    You mean the paper by the two B-school professors, the paper with all the irrelevant political content as well as strange remarks about our inability to attribute climate variability? The authors make some ironic remarks to the effect that climate scientists should employ more statistical expertise even as they display their own lack of expertise on the topic of the paper. “Own goal,” so to speak.

  24. Andy says:

    That is on the Sunday Times too, much broader circulation that the rest of the days of the week. Great article, and really fantastic placement in the biggest issue of the week!

    I hope this begins to change some minds… continued reporting along this vein certainly will.

  25. Leland Palmer says:

    I’ve worked in analytical labs for a long time- twenty years or so. I’ve seen a lot of data.

    There is a long term trend to this climate data. It’s very obvious. It’s also all happening way too fast for this to be the sort of linear climate change that the modelers were predicting a decade or more ago. This is more like Lovelock’s sudden switch from one stable state of the earth’s climate to another, much hotter stable state. Or even worse, this is like the start of an extinction event- a methane catastrophe.

    The NYT story is very interesting. As the flagship paper of the U.S. financial elite, its reluctance to report fairly on global warming has been very discouraging.

    Has the recent news about the 40% drop in plankton and the extreme weather events finally gotten through the thick lying heads of our financial elites? Have they finally realized that, yes, there is a connection between economics and reality? Have the other businessmen finally gotten tired of bowing an praying in the direction of ExxonMobil headquarters?

    Whatever has happened, it appears that there has been a policy change, at least at the NYT, and possibly among our financial elites, who might finally be getting scared.

    If our financial elite families are finally getting scared, well, it’s about time.

    Will they withdraw their support for the fossil fuel funded Astroturf propaganda campaign we have been seeing, which has spawned a generation of climate deniers?

    Will they finally realize that lying about such an important issue is not patriotic, or even sensible?

    Will they finally realize that there will be few or no winners from climate change, but that there will be billions of losers?

    Will our lying financial elites and ExxonMobil finally realize that their lying exposes them to immense financial liability- the bill from which could total more money than they have made throughout their entire history.

    Not including punitive damages, of course.

  26. Eve says:

    I would like to see interviews with older farmers and growers around the world – people who closely observe nature and have lived long enough
    to be aware of changes.

    Also – where are the young people? Why isn’t there a larger protest
    movement? Why aren’t young Americans marching on Washington in greater
    numbers and doing more nonviolent civil disobedience at coal plants?
    What will it take?

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    Action needed now on global warming

    Question – What do the National Academy of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, NASA, NOAA and almost every other major scientific organization in the world have in common?

    Answer – They have all stated that the evidence for global warming is convincing. It is a real phenomenon, which is almost certainly caused by human activity and that something needs to be done about it.

    Question – Why is global warming still controversial?

    Answer – Follow the money. For the last 15 years a PR campaign funded by the oil, gas and coal industries and their lobbyists has been using the same tactics as the tobacco industry to cast uncertainty about the evidence supporting human-caused climate change. http://www.wickedlocal.com/westborough/topstories/x839829748/Action-needed-now-on-global-warming

  28. PSU Grad says:

    “Why aren’t young Americans marching on Washington in greater
    numbers and doing more nonviolent civil disobedience at coal plants?
    What will it take?”

    Other than the Vietnam war, what large scale protests have we seen from younger people in the past 50 years? And why the Vietnam war? Because it directly affected them through the draft. Had we had a draft for the Iraq war, we’d have seen protests. And that’s precisely why we didn’t have a draft, but that’s another issue for another time.

    Somehow, younger people either don’t think this will affect them, or don’t care. OK, maybe in the abstract they think it’ll affect them, but a flood in Pakistan doesn’t mean much when you can’t find Pakistan on a map and don’t really care about it. That’s not a knock on younger people, that applies to most Americans.

    The key is to get younger people to understand that “hey, these old f@rts are messing with our futures”. I’m not sure how to do that.

  29. Colorado Bob says:

    Sticky Wickett says:

    The sky is falling. Hundreds of millions will die. It will be like the bird flu and swine flu.
    ————
    No it will be like Nashville and Pakistan, when it not like Melbourne and Moscow.

  30. Colorado Bob says:

    Message from Jay Lehr
    To: All Ground Water Professionals
    Everywhere
    From: Jay H. Lehr, Ph.D.
    Re: Summary of the activities that led to my imprisonment by the federal government and my firing
    by the National Water Well Association.

    In 1988, the U.S. EPA began an investigation of a $170,000 add-on contract to NWWA’s initial U.S. EPA
    contract to develop the Drastic mapping system to delineate ground water vulnerability…
    [Link to the PDF]
    http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2008/12/23/11302/549/143#c143

    It seems Mr. Lehr was swindling the EPA.

  31. Raul M. says:

    NOAA using student built low cost drifters
    to study GOM currents.
    Nice way to study the Gulf’s water movement.
    Drifter building in the back yard of scientist’s
    home using easy materials to build current drifters
    that use a signal every four hours to show the
    drifting pattern of the ocean’s waters.
    Says that they have deployed 29 drifters.
    Nice work.

  32. Raul M. says:

    Doctoral student still recovering
    from being shot in the face by
    University policeman. Faternal
    Order of Police spokesman decrys
    policeman being fired for police
    activities.
    Student was at home and wouldn’t
    answer the door because he was
    afraid he would be harmed.

  33. John McCormick says:

    RE # 30

    Leland,

    I have been calling for anyone who has the connections to get Warren Buffet to take his or her call to start a campaign among the most elite of the elite to realize they have skin in this game; even if it is only their grand children’s skin.

    The major money merchants don’t care? Then, we are toast. How can the few million environmentalists go up against 12 trillion dollars of capital.

    Could Bill Clinton make that call and get Buffett and others like him to focus on something aside from their investments. Maybe think about their and our children. It is coming at us so fast now, maybe there is not time but things can get a lot worse because they are running the game.

    We few who visit Joe’s blog and otherwise tie our stomachs in knots from anxiety over what we know is happening are chickens in the middle of the road and the capitalists are willing to ride over us to get to their quarterly earnings report. So, are we fair game or are we not getting to people who can really make things happen because they finally get it.

    Hello, Mr. Clinton. Its time to do some heavy lifting.

    John McCormick

  34. Raul M. says:

    Mother cries that her small child was
    attacked by K-9 dog. Gainesville city
    police chief says it wasn’t right also.

    Child was riding bicycle and started
    running back home after he saw a police
    unit come roaring up the street.
    Policeman released dog because there
    had been a complaint, not about that
    child but about something else.

  35. Brooks Bridges says:

    There seems to be a major sea change in the media underway – at last! Let it not be too late.

    This blog about the NYT, the very recent blogs about CNN’s Chad Myers and Weather Channel’s Stu Ostrow – very encouraging. Deniers will be more and more marginalized.

    While the recent weather catastrophes contributed greatly – I guess they’re the climate Pearl Harbor’s we all thought would be needed to wake people up – I have to believe this blog was a significant influence.

    Keep hammering Joe!

  36. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi John- (post # 38)

    Joe’s speaking engagement at the Commonwealth club in San Francisco recently may have finally gotten through to our financial elites that they do have skin in this game, too.

    Bohemian Grove 2010 took place in July, I guess. I wonder if the subject came up there, at all?

    Hmmm…Schwarzenegger delivered a mysterious “lakeside talk” there, according to some news reports. It’s mysterious because the title of such speaking events is generally published in the schedule, I guess. The Governator has been a strong supporter of climate change action.

    One news story does not make a trend. As pointed out above, the NYT has decades of bad coverage to make up for. And it’s quite possible that all NYT coverage continues to be full of unhelpful conceptual frames.

    But we can hope.

  37. dbmetzger says:

    Poisonous Smog Returns to Moscow
    The poisonous smog that has contributed to higher death rates in Moscow returned to Russia’s capital Sunday. Sixteen fires continue to burn outside Moscow, including a fire near a nuclear facility in Sarov. http://www.newslook.com/videos/241764-poisonous-smog-returns-to-moscow?autoplay=true

  38. Fire Mountain says:

    “John McCormick says:
    August 16, 2010 at 8:37 am

    RE # 30

    Leland,

    I have been calling for anyone who has the connections to get Warren Buffet to take his or her call to start a campaign among the most elite of the elite to realize they have skin in this game; even if it is only their grand children’s skin.”

    Buffet as owner of Mid-American and PacifiCorp, both heavily coal-fired utilities, is one of the biggest carbon emitters on the planet. It is ironic that he is now philanthropic partner with Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation is devoted to addressing global poverty and health issues, with a geographic target on Africa and South Asia. Looking at the floods on the Indus, it is hard to see Buffet’s philanthropy as other than a tailpipe solution for the misery caused by the fossil fuel investments he and his fellow capitalists make. Time to call out Buffet, and his philanthropic partners.

  39. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    31.Eve says:
    August 16, 2010 at 4:13 am

    “I would like to see interviews with older farmers and growers around the world – people who closely observe nature and have lived long enough
    to be aware of changes.”

    Good idea, Eve. You should go and do some interviews of farmers who live in the northern great plains of the US and Canada.

    Ask them (i.e., farmers 65 and older) these questions (1) In your lifetime have experiened “climate change? and (2)that is to say: At you residence, have you experienced a distinct and noticeable change in the pattern of weather and of the magnitude and duration of various weather events suchas drought?

    A simple example of climate change would be the first frost free days and first days of frost come earlier than in the past such as 30, 40 or 50 years ago.

    In the northen great plains temperature change range from -40 to +40 deg C in a year.

    Go to the Mojave desert and ask the old timers these queations.

    If you would ask this old timer if the climate has changed in metro Vancouver (aka Lotus Land), I would say not much at all and there are still no mosquitos in the summertime. The latter is Vanvouver’s best kept secret so don’t tell anybody. We don’t want any of those fast-talking wiseguys of the Eastern Liberal Establishment coming out here and annoying us.

    Super-natural beautiful British Columbia is the best place on earth and we laid-back Cascadians want to keep it that way.

  40. John McCormick says:

    Fire Mountain,

    A large part of me wants to call them out and beat them up! No profit there.

    So, can one call them up first and, failing to make any conscious connection at all, call them out and abuse their reputations.

    The very elite are, like it or not, taken seriously but they may not be reading this blog. That doesn’t mean that a person/s of his stature would be wasting their time to make the call. Or, am I just blowing this idea out of my

    John McCormick

  41. rossabbey says:

    NYT: “Seemingly disconnected, these far-flung disasters are reviving the question of whether global warming is causing more weather extremes.”

    Equally important, it seems to me, is the point that Pres. Medvedev makes (quoted in the article): that these disasters are also _evidence_ of global warming. You can nit pick about individual thermometers, but you can’t ignore the record heat we’re seeing in Russia, Asia, Africa, and N. America (not to mention in Lake Superior and other largish bodies of water), or the record deluges. Each is a data point showing a global-warming trend, regardless of whether global warming is definitively shown to be the “cause” of these individual data points.

    And blaming these events on a strong El Nino — really just an ejection of heat energy from the oceans into the atmosphere — doesn’t change the fact that anthropogenic warming is driving the whole shebang. I mean, how did all that extra heat get into the oceans to begin with?

    Just as the oceans are currently absorbing the bulk of man-made warming (along with a large fraction of our carbon pollution), they also periodically give some back in the form of AWG-enhanced El Nino events. [Disclosure: I haven't seen this last sentence in peer-reviewed science, but it seems likely based on the physical science.]

  42. James Newberry says:

    So let’s see:

    Humanity started emitting carbonic acid gas (CO2) from buried hydrocarbons in the mid 1700′s, discussing global heating in the 1800′s, and after releasing more than a trillion tons of CO2, we are reviving the question of basic physics in 2010. What progress!

    As the Hudson airliner pilot said “Prepare for impact.” The planet’s response is only warming up.

  43. Julie K. says:

    Usually, when we talk about the weather, we have no other topics to discuss. Now, we talk about the weather because it is becoming to be unpredictable and dangerous. The scientists have no evidence to prove what can cause a climate changes. Perhaps the journalists should start the investigations and ask the oldest people on this planet “how was the weather before”…
    Let’s make a test: try to reduce the consumption in half and in 5 years time we can see if it helps…

  44. Susan Jones says:

    I can’t help Pakistan victims of bad weather because I’m a victim of bad weather. I’ve had to borrow $25,000 because of the threat of huge snowstorms and months long heat waves.