Thursday, February 01, 2007

The true north strong and free... and warmer.

Get ready, kids! Tomorrow's the day.

No, I'm not talking about Groundhog Day, although that's an amusingly appropriate day for the event to which I am referring: the 2007 IPCC is going to be unveiled, and the language within is said to be the strongest ever. (And I quote from The Associated Press: "The most authoritative report on climate change is using the strongest wording ever on the source of global warming, saying it is 'very likely' caused by humans and already is leading to killer heat waves and stronger hurricanes, delegates who have seen the report said today.")

Aside: Kai's class had a vote yesterday on whether or not they want more winter, and 8 out of 13 said "more winter", including our kid. And it's not like we haven't had 8 weeks of it so far. I miss my lawn.

Back to the IPCC report: I'm not exactly surprised about either the wording or the recognition. Nevertheless, I'm sure many other Earth scientists will have a ear perked to learn the major bullet points that will be revealed, as well. For myself, and other atmospheric scientists, I'm curious to see what graphic will be overused for the next 5 years to demonstrate "weakest understanding" and/or "largest uncertainty." (They mean essentially the same thing.)

Incidentally, the big unknowns last time were the indirect effect of aerosols and the impact of "mineral dust" on global mean radiative forcing. Big big error bars on those ones. The best part is that we didn't even know which way the mineral dust error bars should go.

I digress.

Hey. I have an idea. I'll SHOW you.

Check this out:

Oh, also fun is the level of understanding for MOST of the chart: VERY LOW. That's great.

So hopefully tomorrow's report will show that we've made some progress.

Oh! Oh! I almost forgot (speaking about climate change and all): I read this article by Richard Gywn a couple days ago on the Toronto Star online and was immediately livid. Well, maybe livid is too strong a word. I was saddened. Why you ask?

Well. Let me explain. And I'll use bullet points to keep from going off on a big rant about how the Toronto Star should try to hire people who actually THINK about what they write before they go and send off little crappy excuses for copy to their editors. Oh. Right. Bullets.

  • "Quite clearly, global warming is taking place. It's less clear just what forms it will take. Experts tacitly admit this by employing the ambiguous phrase "climate change" rather than the popular one of global warming." I know I covered this the last time I spoke on Global Warming/Climate Change, so I won't go into nitty gritty details, but let's just say "perhaps you could try get your facts straight, Mr. Gwyn, before you write down your random thoughts." It is rather clear that there is a lot more to climate change than just warming.
  • "But the why – about Canadians' response to global warming – still needs to be asked. After all, Canadians account for less than 2 per cent of the globe's greenhouse gases. What we do, thus, contributes little to the problem and, at best, we can only marginally improve matters." OH. Excuse me... right. I forgot that Canada is a first-world country that is completely immune to the problems of the rest of the world. Forget Afghanistan. C'mon home, troops. Forget foreign aid. Forget the G8. We no longer care about other countries... especially those that aren't as vast and uncrowded and technologically advanced as our lovely country. Alright - I'll drop the sarcasm. Here's the thing - sure we only produce 2%, but if we look *per capita*, we're up there with the worst of them. And correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't it be great if Canada took the lead on this one? I highly doubt that Nigeria is on the cutting edge of fossil-fuel-free technology that will change the world. And maybe this is wishful thinking, but we may actually be able to influence the UNITED STATES, which just happens to be the worst greenhouse gas emitter. Just a thought.
  • "Another reason to wonder about our sudden environmental awareness is that, although little attention has been paid to this, global warming will actually benefit Canadians, on balance. A warmer climate will lengthen our growing season and so expand our agricultural output. It will melt our Arctic ice, creating opportunities for speedier sea travel to Europe and Asia, and make it possible to increase exploitation of our northern resources. It will also reduce our death rate, which always increases during our winters." Oh my word. I don't even know where to START here. Has this guy been living in a ditch? Okay. I'll break this one down. Melted Arctic Ice. I for one, might actually MISS the polar bears. Remember them? Yeah... they need sea ice for hunting. I admit, I'm not a biologist, but I can't see a *lack* of arctic sea ice being a good thing for them. Speedier travel. What, for oil tankers? Increased exploration of our northern resources. Right... not to mention increased insect infestation, malaria, dengue fever... sounds great. Reduced death rate. Okay, I'll give you the fact that there were less vehicular deaths in Ontario this past December because the roads were less snowy than usual, but... again, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe that people die during heat waves, too. Seriously, sir, warmer doesn't necessarily mean less deaths.

  • "As a rich country, we are far better situated to cope with climate change's negative effects than is a poor one, like Bangladesh." Oh for Pete's sake. For THIS reason we shouldn't worry about climate change? Mr. Gwyn, did you even read this over before you submitted it?
  • "Combating global warming is the ultimate collective cause. It's about doing good, not just to ourselves but to our grandchildren. It's about doing good not to and for just our own country, but to the globe itself." Blink blink. Okay, Rich, you make ONE good point, but the tone with which you make it is... icky. And I recognize that *perhaps* the tone of the entire article was to make people think about the REASONS they are suddenly so interested in the global good when it comes to climate change, but there were too many damaging notions presented earlier to make this jump into the opposite realistic. Climate Change isn't just a feel-good cause to throw our energies into. The way Gwyn writes, we need to have a cause and since no others are to be found right now, we'll make global warming our cause. I'm sorry. It's just not that flippant.
Okay, so I might not have been able to mask my ire, but where else but here should I let my true feelings out?

So I wasn't actually going to present this at all, but while I flipping through the virtual pages of the Star today I found a link to this and all became right with the world. Well, for now. Enjoy.


ewe are here said...

I think the comment that jumped out at me is the one that the Bush Administration seems to take a similar view of: essentially, the US is wealthy enough to cope with global warming. Next topic!

Well, all I could think when I heard this attitude at the time was 'well, bully for us! what about the rest of the world? they can't cope, people will starve, suffer, die... and we're likely a major contributor of the problem! you really think ignoring global warming is the answer just because our country will probably be able to ride it out?!?


Jenn said...

Poor polar bears... I heard the other day that they are going to be added to the endangered species list (if they haven't been already) - mostly due to climate change. By the way, the Bush administration, the ones not really concerned with global warming, should start to pay attention since warming temperatures are creating stronger storms (hence more Katrinas) and, if enough arctic ice melts many regions of the world, including large sections of florida among other states, will be covered in water - then what are they going to do with all their money? Okay, getting off my soapbox now...

Becky said...

thanks for stopping by, Jenn... and please - rant away! We welcome soapboxes of all shapes and sizes around here...

And yes - even soapboxes with a difference of opinion. I enjoy a good debate. ;)

Anonymous said...


You enjoy a good debate????
Well you sure have your opinions........... About everything.

Becky said...

I do have opinions about a lot of things. Often they're about things that matter, or make a difference in my life, the life of my family, or the lives of millions... no... billions of people. Sometimes they're about things that just mean something to me. I think that's healthy. I'd rather be informed and have an opinion about something than a wishy washy type of person who doesn't care one way or the other.

Thanks for commenting.