Global Warming Has Already Caused Unprecedented Change

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Dried sunflowers are seen in a field near the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Thursday, Aug 23, 2012 After the harshest winter in decades, the Balkans in the southeast of Europe is now facing its hottest summer and the worst drought in what officials across the region say is nearly 40 years. The record-setting average temperatures which scientists say have been steadily rising over the past years as the result of the global warming have ravaged crops, vegetable, fruit and power production in the region which is already badly hit by the global economic crisis.. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Dried sunflowers are seen in a field near the Bulgarian capital Sofia in August 2012. After the harshest winter in decades, the Balkans were facing the hottest summer and the worst drought in nearly 40 years. The record-setting average temperatures -- steadily rising over the past years as the result of the global warming -- have ravaged crops, vegetable, fruit and power production in the region which is already badly hit by the global economic crisis. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

A new study published in the journal Science provides context for just how dramatic our planet’s recent warming trend is. In the last century, during which humans have been burning fossil fuels on a widespread scale, the planet’s temperatures have changed more dramatically than they had during all of recorded human history — more dramatically than they had since the last ice age ended.

“We already knew that on a global scale, Earth is warmer today than it was over much of the past 2,000 years,” said Shaun Marcott of Oregon State University, the paper’s lead author. “Now we know that it is warmer than most of the past 11,300 years.”

The planet’s gradual warming and cooling phases are largely caused by the Earth’s tilt as it orbits around the sun. During the period the OSU and Harvard University research team reconstructed, temperatures increased gradually until about 7,000 years ago, then began decreasing again. If not for human influence, Earth would be in a very cold period today. But soon after the industrial revolution happened, the planet began to warm.

Chart from the Wall Street Journal, Data from Oregon State University and Harvard University

Chart from the Wall Street Journal, data from Oregon State University and Harvard University

“This research shows that we’ve experienced almost the same range of temperature change since the beginning of the industrial revolution as over the previous 11,000 years of Earth history — but this change happened a lot more quickly,” said Candace Major, program director in the National Science Foundation, which helped fund the study.

Researchers said that if this trend continues, the planet will be warmer in 2100 than at any point during the last 11,300 years for which they have data.

What will that mean for America?

A draft of a report released by a government advisory committee in January gives us some idea. The analysis, by the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC), details how climate change will devastate different regions of the U.S. and specific sectors of the American economy. Some examples: Areas where agriculture takes place will shift, and by 2050, most of climate change’s impacts on American agriculture will be negative. Summer droughts will intensify because of changes in precipitation and rising temperatures. In the long run, many southern American states and Hawaii could experience water shortages because of rising temperatures and falling levels of rainfall. America’s transportation infrastructure will be incapacitated. Current health crises will be amplified and new ones will emerge. Plant and wildlife in some regions will change so much as to make the given region “almost unrecognizable.” The list of what America has to prepare for is long, and communities around the country will experience their own spectra of different, devastating effects.

In a letter to the American people, the NCADAC report’s authors write:

Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience. So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation.

Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between.

Speaking with CNN, Marcott — the OSU/Harvard report’s lead author — said, “as civilization has grown, we’re kind of set up for things not to change too much.” He expressed concern about how humans would adapt to a new climate. “I certainly hope we can pull ourselves out of it,” he said.

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  • Anonymous

    For every action there is a reaction. How can anyone believe that dumping these heat trapping greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere would not produce climate change.
    There is more proof, 75% less summer arctic sea ice volume than 1979 and almost all glaciers are receding. Most of the warming is hidden in the oceans (70% of the surface is ocean), and already the seas are rising.
    I do not see any worldwide agreement to curb CO2. Time has basicly run out.

  • Michael Smith

    You’re partially correct. Sensitivity to CO2 is about 1.1°C per doubling. Feedbacks again and again are showing strongly negative where temperatures are controlled by clouds, perhaps slightly positive at the poles. Almost all glaciers are (still) receding since the LIA, at much reduced rates since the 1850’s. CO2 had no large increases until the mid-20th century. Seas are (still) rising at 1.7mm/year and the rise is decelerating. There is no meaningful increase in heat in the oceans in at least 10 years, and what little increase was before that was due to ENSO and bears no correlation whatsoever with CO2. Evaporation and condensation control temperature on earth, CO2 goes along for the ride. The notion that CO2 can overcome the tight control of water vapor phase change and convection gets ever more demolished every day where real science gets done – outside the death grip of the Hockey Team.

  • Bethwig

    I have a childrens’ textbook from 1958 that talks about climate change from factory emmissions. It’s basic science 101. Hemp could go a long way to reversing this trend. You can make everything from hemp, and it’s a massive carbon sink, even more effective than forests. We have to use technology that works with nature, not against natural law.

  • James Counsellor

    I assume by “real” science you must be referring to legitimate peer reviewed work conducted by actual climate scientists and published in reputable mainstream journals. Care to share it? Or do you have a case of the water vapors?

  • Bill Laurune

    Will a human-induced doubling result in release of CO2 and CH4 from permafrost and thus a positive feedback? And of course, the 1.1 degrees you refer to is global average; over land, the rise will be higher. Just looking at the average tends to understate the impact. It’s like putting your feet in ice and your head in the oven and saying the average isn’t so bad.

  • Derrick

    “The planet’s gradual warming and cooling phases are largely caused by the Earth’s tilt as it orbits around the sun.”

    This happens on 20,000 year cycles. Seems like incomplete data to focus on the results of 1/2 of these cycles. Right?

    The during the era of the pharaohs the Climate was HOTTER THAN NOW, without CO2. Can anyone explain this? Probably not which is why more and more people/scientists are leaning towards the null hypotheses in regards to anthropological human warming driving the climate.

  • Guest

    Friend, you could use a course in basic statistics. Anyway, will you care to support your claim with a few names of “more and more” climate scientists with direct links to legitimate peer reviewed work conducted by actual climate
    scientists and published in reputable mainstream journals?

  • David S. Leaton

    Derrick, the wiki on Milankovitch cycles is as good a place to start as anywhere. There is more than one orbital/planetary cycle, and these cycles are not tuned to each other. Glacial/interglacial length is, therefore, not as easy as “this happens in 20,000 year cycles.”

    Note also that, in line with Milankovitch forcing, the current interglacial temp has been in general decline for roughly 8000 years . . . until about 50 years ago. Also, it was not warmer during the time of the pharaohs. 2012 was .45C hotter than the 1961-1990 average, using GISS (.435C using Had4). The Egyptian dynasties began 4500 years ago (max). Even simply eyeballing the graph above, it’s difficult to find that it was warmer globally 4500 years ago. Oh, and there was CO2 in the atmosphere 4500 years ago (roughly 270ppm +/- 10ppm). CO2 has been in the atmosphere for billions of years.

    As for your last statement, it’s just wrong. Of 13,950 peer-review climate-related studies published in the last 22 years, 24 reject global warming.

  • Vera Narishkin

    Along with the disappearing bees and other pollinating insects, global warming will soon create global famine. I am so very sorry for the young ones, for my children, my grand-children, and for my great-grand-children if any will come to be. Beyond the latter, chances are there will not be any further generations.

  • Vera Narishkin

    CO2 is only one of the greenhouse gases presently active. Think of all the methane which is being released not only by the billions of cattle, but also being released by the melting permafrost. Methane is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than is CO2.

  • Vera Narishkin

    Anthropological? LOL! Do you actually know the meaning of the word? Here, let me help you:

    Adj.anthropological – of or concerned with the science of anthropology; “anthropological studies”

    an·thro·pol·o·gy (nthr-pl-j)


    1. The scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans.

    That part of Christian theology concerning the genesis, nature, and
    future of humans, especially as contrasted with the nature of God: “changing the church’s anthropology to include more positive images of women” (Priscilla Hart).

  • Anonymous

    By overlaying this report with the Vostok data you can see how carefully this research was framed. Notably the red arrows put an end to the “unprecedented” claim in both slope and scope:

  • Steve Goddard

    That graph is laughable. It shows the Holocene Maximum at 10,000 years ago – when Canada was still mostly covered with ice. The authors probably should have done some basic fact checking to see if their conclusions were believable.

  • Steve Goddard

    Paul Ehrlich predicted the same thing for the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000’s, 2010s …. Instead of famine, food productivity has greatly increased and most people are now overweight.

  • Mike Mangan

    Haven’t you read the Climategate emails? Like we’re going to set policy based on what Mann, Jones, or Trenberth says. Their credibility is shot. By the way, if you want to persuade society to don the hair shirt and impoverish themselves, it’s best to drop the dripping arrogance in your attitude.

  • Michael Jones

    The Arctic regions are showing much more warming than other regions. Watch “Chasing Ice” docufilm of James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey that actually has time lapse photos of rapid melting glaciers, melting 5 times faster than in recent decades. The seas are indeed rising, the US Navy is dealing with it on the Eastern seaboard, where their naval ports are located, rising 2 to 3 times faster due to changing of ocean currents. See recent article on the web site “The Atlantic”. The oceans are a heat sink, carbon is being absorbed, hence it turns to carbonic acid and thus water chemistry is changed.
    Again, you can claim what you have, but that is all it is, probably from WUPT and misleading and cherry picked.
    P.S. How do you explain the loss of ice volume and area since 1979?

  • Anonymous

    The cow isn’t a magic animal. Decomposing grass produces the same about of Methane and Co2 whether it sits in a pile or is eaten by a cow. It’s a wonderful vegan fallacy that the cow is responsible for global warming intended to make more people stop eating meat.

  • David S. Leaton

    Mike, you are anti-scientific. Over the past year and a half, I’ve provided you, in various fora, with a wide range of scientific publications. You have taken into account none of those. Your replies are always the simple, evidence-free memes, like the one above. And you claim that I’m the arrogant one? My point of view is based on the science. As the evidence changes, my point of view changes. Your position is not based on evidence. It is based on maintaining the validity of a particular ideology.

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to be blunt. The people who organized “climategate” think you’re stupid. I am rapidly coming to the same conclusion, but I’m not there yet. Else I would simply reply “tin. foil. hat.” As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, no scientists have refused to work with the data and analysis of Mann, Jones, and/or Trenberth. In other words, their credibility is just fine. Perhaps you’d care to explain just what it was that Mann, Jones, and Trenberth did that you find appalling?

    Further, Mann, Jones, and Trenberth are not the only scientists working in climate-related areas. Nor do they provide the basic evidence for the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW is not based on surface temp analysis, nor is it based on TOA energy balance. Those analyses help determine the precision of the theory, but the fundamental theory is based on physics).

    What is confusing about all of this?

  • moderator

    Mike and David,

    You have both clearly made your points, please avoid personal attacks.

    Thank You
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Luis Enrique El Bohemio

    Thank you Mr. Jones. You spared my speech!

  • Luis Enrique El Bohemio

    God did not make anything that would help destroy the planet. So rule the poor animals out please!

  • Luis Enrique El Bohemio

    Those years were understated. They should had predicted for the years around 2050. You just wait! …and if I’m wrong.. what the heck, I’ll be gone already.. no harm done!! LOL!

  • TXsharon

    In the Eagle Ford Shale companies are dumping the gas into the air because gas prices are cheap They only want the oil. This infrared video shows releases at a Marathon Oil facility.

  • Michael Jones

    Luis, this is getting rather frustrating to deal with those that maintain it is not here. You pour all the tangibe proof and science and these folks in denial just will not admit it. Good luck dealing with them
    Anyway if Obama goes with “all the above” energy program it’s game over for the climate. If the XL pipeline gets approved its game over.
    So, I may not have to do this for much longer.
    Believe me I will not celebrate

  • Michael Smith

    There are plenty of papers out there on the subject of negative feedback, of which I’m sure you’re aware since some that you mentioned made some rather awkward attempts to refute them. The whole “feedback vs forcing” issue is the root cause of why the models continue to fail. Describing zones like the tropics as areas of negative feedback does somewhat convey what is happening as water vapor condensation erupts to actively cool the surface, but it is far beyond the traditional discussion of radiative balance. And many of the studies attempting to measure feedback are simply not treating the data correctly, or are attempting to measure residual heat long after the signal is gone. Clouds are cooling heat engines with their own positive feedbacks that produce active cooling of warm areas. They emerge when thresholds are crossed and either strengthen or wither until the initiating event is neutralized. These active cooling events have time scales of minutes to hours, and are extremely effective at carrying surface heat aloft to be ejected to space, through a much thinner atmosphere. Recent data showing a reduced stratospheric water vapor in itself represents a strong negative feedback that basically has opened the floodgates to eject heat to space through a lower H20 content. More on that later.

    Glacier data is anything but consistent. So you could probably support any claim you want. Like much of climate science, there is so much to choose from evidently depending on who is paying the bills. But the latest GRACE data shows anything but catastrophic ice change levels on Greenland or anywhere else. And this also supported by sea level data, which is obviously decelerating:

    On my 1.7mm claim, I was thinking tide gauges, but that is actually closer to 0.7mm/yr. I have still never heard an adequate explanation of why the tide gauges never matched satellites until Envisat. And when Envisat went offline, they adjusted it to 3.1mm/year also! The IPCC also used 1.7mm. . Gornitz and Ledbedeff also get 1.7mm/year. And now we suddenly have 3.1 (!) Perhaps this is the unprecedented change they speak of? :-) The tide gauges are at 0.7mm/yr. That is what I go by since it seems everything satellite is adjusted to meet the agenda, no matter how senseless. We do have new satellites coming online, so there will be even more data to wreck soon.

    No meaningful increase in OHC: I’d call that a decrease.

    ENSO a source of energy? Not a source, but an event that does influence cloud cover enough that its effects absolutely can drive ocean temps. It might have “oscillation” in its name, but it is not a sine wave, it is chaotic. And your description of el-nino and la-nina indicates you don’t understand it. I suggest going to Bob Tisdale’s site and reading up. ENSO can directly influence ocean temps long term by opening windows to DLR over cool areas for example, and he’ll show you many fantastic examples of how that works, ocean area by area. He also has some great videos tracking ocean temps with ENSO. It is pretty convincing evidence that these changes had to have occurred without any correlation to GHG’s.

    DLR is not the same as OLR, LW has very little to do with it when evaporative processes handle orders of magnitude more heat. This is more of the same basic “forcing or feedback” misunderstanding that causes the models (and the rest of the classical AGW theory) to fail. There is no sign on a GHG saying little messages to the OLR’s. Like “I’m water vapor, I don’t count, move along little OLR” It is a concept as absurd as that sentence. GHG’s are GHG’s, with different absorption spectra.

    Water vapor doesn’t CAUSE climate scale change, it PREVENTS it, by actively evaporating and condensing at different places, and blocking sunlight at the same time. This is analogous to a negative feedback, but even that term is only useful to try to communicate concepts to classically trained (indoctrinated) climate folks. It isn’t what is happening in the classical sense. The notion that residence time makes any difference is the other absurd notion that feeds these failures. These are active heat transmission events with short time scales that change hourly in response to DLR. The ability of water vapor to change concentration in response to heat is the desired effect, not some strange complication of a failed theory! It is the desired mechanism that regulates the strength and duration of the cooling effect in response to the forcing. If you force it more, it will begin rejecting the forcing at ever more active rates.

    The fact that climatologists can continue to cling to the notion that basic black body radiative concepts control weather on this planet is contradictory to all of the evidence. The fact is, for most of the earth, DLR is enough to cook the planet already were it not for water vapor, every day. The incorrect method is to measure albedo and work backwards to calculate temperature. What really happens is DLR is fixed, and albedo is adjusted via water vapor to reject heat TO a fixed temperature regulated by the morning or early afternoon onset of clouds, and if need be, storms. And this also explains why GHG’s you claim to have confirmed models do NOT show the impacts you expected. Because the heat is carried aloft and is easily passed to space without the expected IR blocking by GHG’s since there is little atmosphere left above the storms. Satellite evidence does not confirm GHG or model expectations. Satellites show LWR is passed easily to space, and small increases and decreases in temperature at the surface are seen in response to T^4 just as they always have. The very fact that we have the onset of controlling mechanisms actively controlling temperature also means that any additional effect of CO2 in these areas is totally meaningless, it may only serve to change the onset time, dissipation time, altitude of radiative balance, or the strength of the mechanical movement of heat aloft. The lack of the mid tropospheric hot spot and satellite measurements confirm that the theory has failed, and the longer people cling to these silly failed concepts, the longer “consensus” climate science will continue to stagnate. Any climatologist will tell you that clouds are the least understood, but the gorilla in the room is water vapor. Just because storms are sub-grid-scale does not mean you ignore them. You make the grid smaller, make the storms emerge and die and distribute heat and radiate it directly to space, and then parameterize if you have to. After even a few hundred $million I would expect that much. $80 Billion and we are still failing? Something’s wrong.

    My slam at the Team was simply that science is moving on. Their death grip on a failed theory will only accelerate their journey into irrelevance. The ever more absurd excuses for why their theory is still valid despite direct measured evidence to the contrary is simply laughable and unsustainable. But they’ve caught the attention of enough scientists from many disciplines now that I expect interesting things to continue happening to move the science forward. As that happens, I suspect it will become irrefutable that CO2 is a bit player at best, with perhaps some influence in areas with few condensation / controlling mechanisms. You know this is true, deep down, don’t you…

  • Michael Smith

    It is also at a level 217 times less than CO2, and gets destroyed quickly in the atmosphere. Methane is 25 times more potent. So it has about 11% of the effect of
    CO2, which is almost nothing compared to the effect of H20, and even
    this is almost meaningless when compared to the H20 heat engine / albedo
    controlling mechanisms. See below. It’s irrelevant. Water vapor is in control. If we didn’t have that, CH4 would be important.

  • Michael Smith

    No, the Eastern Seaboard “sea is rising” due to the land subsiding… You talking Norfolk? Anything built on a delta is going to subside when you cut off the delta. Sea level rise is decelerating

    Carbonic Acid or “ocean acidification” is plan D if plans, A,B, and C fail to annoy enough people. The data is so sketchy as to be laughable. pH changes in a tide pool by over 1 full point during the day to night. The biosphere loves CO2 and converts it to CaCO3.

    What ice volume? World sea ice anomaly is > 0

    Arctic is also normal right now. You only have 34 years of satellite data and we know that the first NW passage was done in the early 19th century. You couldn’t dream of doing that now even with some pretty huge icebreakers. Bering sea ice is WAY above normal. Arctic ice operates in a feedback loop. The one they don’t tell you about is that when the water is open during most of the year, you release vastly more heat to space than when it is ice covered. This cools the surface and it drops to be replaced by more warm water for cooling. It is doing what it needs to do. The arctic also gets pulses of warm water on occasion and this also contributes to ice melt along with winds. The ice will return once the cooling phase has progressed enough to remove any excess heat from the water.

  • Michael Smith

    It looks like my response is still hung up in moderation.

  • moderator

    Hi Michael,

    Your comments are now up. When you include a large number of links in a comment, it will often be set aside for review by Disqus.

    Thank You,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Joe Greene

    Yesterday (3-10-2013) I was sailing in the Chesapeake and the skies were an absolute mess with leftover jet contrails, lingering and spreading hours in the sky. These jets were flying along with other having no such effect. The same outlets that shower us with ‘global warming’ stories will not touch this disgusting pollution, why?

  • Anonymous

    The ocean waters are already stressed in the Northwest fish hatchiers due to ocean acidification. The Arctic already is showing VAST vegetatian changes with trees growing in a recent NASA study.

    Winds would NOT account for the reduction of 75% of sea volume ice loss during the summer….where is your critical thinking?

    Oil companies and nations are already gearing up to exploit the resource wealth in the Arctic (especially Greenland) due to the exposure of land.

    The survey is recent:
    Please I am still waiting for an realistic explaination…

  • Anonymous

    Yes CO2 is a major driving force in climate change;
    Read Dr. Peter Ward’s book “Under a Green Sky” about the paleoclimatic history of the Earth.

  • Michael Smith

    Paleo? CO2 a driver? CO2 is a result.

  • Jack Wolf

    “The truth is
    incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the
    end, there it is.”

    — Winston

  • Jack Wolf

    Pretty much all you state, Michael Smith, is a crock and people like you are dangerous at this point. You can have your own opinion, but not your own set of facts.

  • Michael Smith

    Which facts do you dispute? You only find liars within the Climate Industrial Complex disinformation campaign. The rest of us use science.

  • Michael Smith

    Are you serious? PIOMAS? You might want to find a more critical source of information. How do you reconcile PIOMAS with the US Navy’s opinion of ice thickness PIOMAS, Arctic ice will be gone by 2013 PIOMAS?

    POIMAS is a joke. Don’t worry, I’m sure somebody honest is in the process of replication and will dissect it and tell us where the lying / mischief / distortion took place. PIOMAS… Wow.

    I didn’t read your US Navy fantasy piece. It would appear the US Navy will be the next ones to start adjusting their data to match the theory. I know the Pacific guy is a raging lunatic, he fits the profile of a climate cheater (reality denier) perfectly and would fit right into mainstream climate science.

    And what about the fact that arctic ice growth rate RIGHT NOW is at 10 year high? Kind of supports what I said before doesn’t it?

    And what about that pesky Antarctic? 4 days in a row of all time record high sea ice. I guess in an alarmist world, that is evidence of enhanced polar positive feedback, (or something like that). I’ve yet to hear a good explanation of why the arctic and antarctic cycle at polar opposites from an EGHG person.

  • Michael Smith

    See message below first. But there is even MORE Jack! In fact, a hockey stick WAS found in the proxy data used by Marcott, the basis of this article.

    So it would seem that it is your team that has its own set of facts? You can live in the land of delusion and confusion, or you can begin to study this for yourself Jack.

  • moderator

    Hi Michael and Jack,

    You both have made your points ad infinitum. And once again, please refrain from personal attacks.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • CoorelationOrCausation

    How much of the current warming trend is due to Milankovitch cycles and how much due to pollution? The current Milankovitch cycle is due to continue the warming trend for the next 30,000 years. The ocean level is no where near the level of the last peak in warming.

  • Ken Copland

    Thank you Michael Smith for a very clear and comprehensive description of how earths climate works. You are correct, there is no man made global warming, sae levels are not rising, CO2 is essential to all life on earth.

  • Ken Copland

    What rubbish you write. James Hansen and Bill McKibben are disgraceful, continuing to claim that record cold weather is really global warming is just sick. Get real jobs where you don’t have to lie!

  • Ken Copland

    What rubbish you write.

  • Younger Dryas

    When the Holocene ends so will man.

  • Andrew Allison

    You’re nothing but an AGW troll and, as I warned you, I’m a
    troll-hunter. $2,500 to the charity of the winner’s choice says that
    5-year average surface temperature will be lower in 2015 than in
    2005. Put up or shut up!