Manifestations of Runaway Climate Change

The Spate of Floods and Fires around the Globe

2010 is shaping up as the warmest in the instrumental record, as recorded by the National Climate Data Centre (NCDC – the worlds largest active archive of weather data), NASA Goddard Institute of Space Science (GISS), Hadley-Met/Climate Research Unit, Remote Sensing Satellite survey (RSS) and Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU), and as shown by the plot (Figure 1) below.

According to NOAA (July 15, 2010):

June, April to June, and Year-to-Date Global Temperatures are Warmest on Record Last month’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the warmest June on record and the warmest on record averaged for any April-June and January-June periods … Worldwide average land surface temperature was the warmest on record for June and the April-June period, and the second warmest on record for the year-to-date (January-June) period, behind 2007. The monthly analysis from NOAA is based on records going back to 1880.

But you will not read about it in much of the media.

A string of extreme weather events monitored by NASA portrayed on tells the story, including:

1. Last month saw the hottest temperature on record for Asia, with 53ºC in Pakistan. The mega-floods in this part of the world are the result of the increased capacity of the warming atmosphere to hold moisture, precipitated when the humid air masses rise above the Himalaya.
2. Moscow has also been recording temperatures of 37.4ºC, the monthly anomaly will be a record of around +7.5ºC, with a death toll reaching 2000 people. Extreme temperatures, reaching 40 degrees C in Moscow, have set large parts of Russian forests and wheat belts on fire. ((The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 chokes Moscow with smoke for a third day.))
3. Beijing had it hottest day on record earlier in the month, 40.6ºC.
4. Japan scored a 39.4ºC on 22nd July.
5. Hundreds of maximum and minimum temperature records have been broken across the U.S. and Canada in the last two months.
6. Raging wildfires broke out July 29 just south of Los Angeles, CA, forcing mandatory evacuations and major firefighting response.

Smoke from wildfires cause by the worst heat wave in Russia’s history are choking Moscow for a third straight day today, bringing air pollution levels to three times the safe level and forcing cancellation of dozens of flights. However, air pollution is not quite as bad as it was yesterday, when carbon monoxide levels peaked at 6.5 times the safe level. Visibilities at Moscow’s airport were higher today (500+ meters), but temperatures still hit 36°C (97°F). The past 26 days in a row have exceeded 30°C in Moscow, and there is no relief in sight–the latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures near 100°F (37.8°C) for the majority of the coming week. As I reported, the number of deaths in Moscow in July 2010 was about 5,000 more than in July 2009, suggesting that the heat wave has been responsible for thousands of deaths in Moscow alone. I would expect that by the time the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is over, the number of premature deaths caused by the heat wave will approach or exceed the 40,000 who died in the 2003 European Heat Wave. As seen in Figure 3, the Russian heat wave of 2010 is more intense and affects a wider region than the great 2003 European heat wave.

A comparison of August temperatures, the peak of the great European heat wave of 2003 (left) with July temperatures from the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 (right) reveals that this year’s heat wave is more intense and covers a wider area of Europe. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

In Australia:

It has been very warm across northern, north-western and some inland parts of Australia over recent weeks. We broke quite a few minimum temperature records- including Darwin, which broke its July minimum record by 1.5 degrees C.

Though most of what you would read about in the media is the manufactured CRU E-mail story, which tries to obfuscate climate science and cast doubt on the integrity of climate scientists. This is despite recent investigations showing climate scientists right, as stated:

“On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.” … ”We did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.”

The newspapers that gave greatest play to the allegations tended to give less attention to these findings. The columnists who gave greatest vent to their indignation have not made any revisions or corrections, let alone apologised to the scientists whose integrity they so sweepingly impugned.

Those who would like to see themselves as “sceptics,” but commonly present climate plots which inexplicably depart in essential detail from original datasets measured by the worlds premier climate research organizations, as well as ignore the basic physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, would suggest the current extreme weather events are “natural” and not to do with human Carbon emissions.

By contrast, consistent with the Stefan-Boltzmann and Krichhoff laws of infrared radiation, these events manifest the increase in energy (temperature) levels of the atmosphere and oceans, consequent on the emissions of about 370 billion tons of carbon since 1750, currently at a rate of about 2 ppm per year, reaching 391 ppm, namely near 40 percent higher that during the last 10,000 years, when agricultural cultivation became possible thanks to stabilization of the Holocene climate.

Global surface temperature anomalies.

Dr Andrew Glikson is with the Research School of Earth Science & School of Archaeology & Anthropology at Australian National University in Canberra. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Andrew.

17 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mnbob said on August 10th, 2010 at 2:28pm #

    And then there is this bit of news from the Whittier Daily News.

    “Temperatures continue well below average in Southern California
    By Hector Gonzalez Staff Writer
    Posted: 08/09/2010 04:09:43 PM PDT

    A little girl has her shoes put back on after her feet were washed in the water fountain at Lacy Park in San Marino Monday August 9, 2010. Weather Service says its been four degrees cooler than it was last year at this time and we could be on track for one of the coolest summers on record. They’re blaming La Nina, saying we normally get cooler summers during years when we transition from El Nino to La Nina, which is forecast for this winter. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Walt Mancini/SXCity)

    It hasn’t been the coolest summer on record, but it’s been close, forecasters say.

    The average temperature in July was 79 degrees, five degrees below normal, and the first eight days of this month also have been five to six degrees below normal, weather experts said.

    Photo Gallery: On track for coolest summer on track. People enjoying Lacy Park

    That could put Southern California on track for a near-record-low summer, but it’s still too early to say, according to weather experts. The Los Angeles area, in fact, has had below-normal temperatures every month since April. ‘


  2. Hereigns7 said on August 10th, 2010 at 4:52pm #

    The oil spills, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, and the global heat wave (which have been the cause of many fires, toxic smoke, and deaths) have many searching for answers. The internet is buzzing with articles and excellent blogs. But could it be simply the biblical sequence of God’s wrath being poured out upon the earth which is relevant to current events in today’s world. What if we are dealing with the wrath of God? Please understand the wrath of God is letting man slip deeper and deeper into the consequences of his own sin. Please visit my website at . Rev. Daniel W. Blair author of the book Final Warning

  3. Don Hawkins said on August 10th, 2010 at 5:15pm #

    We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
    The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
    Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. Sagan

    It is up to us. When would you like to get started?

  4. teafoe2 said on August 10th, 2010 at 5:29pm #

    “Wrath of God”:D

    I love it:) Right here on DV:) How DO all these weirdos find DV? Is DV linked on a bunch of links sites? Is it Twitter,Facebook, etc?

    Glikson has good credentials, for an Australian:)

    Science, science, science. I do not trust Scientists, or Scientific publications, or associations etc etc. Just because the vast majority of them have come to a consensus doesn’t convince me. After all, the majority still believe Elvis Presley was a great musician. Most US “leftists” supported Obama. Going along with the herd is not always the best policy.

    Cooling: it is true, the west coast of North America is experiencing the coolest summer since 1967. Eagle AK, by the Yukon River near the Canada border, is flooded out by torrential rains.

    But I’ll come out of the Climate Closet: I enjoy playing Devils Advocate sometimes, taking the side of an issue I’m actually opposed to, and seeing how far I can go with it.

    If the people currently in charge of the US-based Globalized State are not disempowered pretty soon, we’re facing a wave of extinctions. Which have already started, and are starting to include more & more Home Sapiens.

    The question is how to go about getting rid of these people and the systems they have in place. Use both sides of paper if necessary.

  5. cruxpuppy said on August 11th, 2010 at 7:33pm #

    The subsea quake and consequent tsunami of December 2004 did not catch everyone in the area by surprise. On the Andaman Islands where indigenous tribes enjoy the protection of the Indian government, one of those tribals who knew some Hindi explained to a reporter that the reason the tribe fled to higher ground in advance of the tsunami and escaped any ill effects was because they knew it was coming. They had no technology, of course, no science to warn them, just their “sixth sense”, as we might call it, the same kind of intuition that prompts animals to flee in advance of an earthquake. There are geologists in California who keep tabs on the numbers of pets that are missing because a sudden spike in these numbers is a reliable indicator of quake activity.

    Science is all we have, even though it is a poor substitute for real knowledge which comes only from an intimate relationship with the natural world, dare I say, an “I-Thou” relationship, in which nature is a living entity. It is constantly expressing itself in ways that I can understand as I would understand another human being and make predictions about behavior based on the reading of moods and behavioral cues. Most aboriginals understand Lovelock’s Gaia far better than he does, since they developed the concept in the first place millennia before he “discovered” it.

    My point is that we know far more about the world we live in than we think we do, even though our capacity for intuitive perception is not developed or systematized in ways that would allow us to use it consciously in decision making as the Andaman aboriginals do. The so-called “objective” knowledge science gives us doesn’t originate in science. It was a deep intuitive foreboding that inspired James Hanson to take up the tools of his science and organize and interpret the data to demonstrate an “objective” data set to justify that foreboding.

    We all share this deep foreboding. Hanson and Glikson, and other climate scientists try to prove that the foreboding is valid. Does the data support my feelings of doom & gloom? We have no idea what to do without our intuitive knowing. It is disreputable because we can’t quantify it for experimental verification or turn it into mathematical symbols.

    And it’s a real shame, because we are well and truly, to use a colloquialism, fucked. Climate change deniers are really, really, cut off from any sort of meaningful attachment to life. These people are numb to the core, zombies. They are truly clueless. But, on the other hand, they deny the messages that arise from the deepest core of the human being because they cannot bear to think about what climate change means. The consequences are unthinkable, like communism and gay marriage.

    Glikson notes the mortality associated with the heat wave. If we occupy positions of influence and responsibility, it is incumbent upon us to regret the loss of life and cover our mouths in shock at the prospect of the loss of 40,000 lives. James Lovelock does away with this Victorian pretense, this false piety. He says half the global population, at least, will be swept away as a consequence of climate change. At least 3 billion.

    Not even the experts, like Glikson, want to speculate about this. They strive to be “objective”, as though this climate change thing were a problem in science, an environmental management problem. We have a Christian in this forum who asks if it is not a punishment from God. He’s closer to the truth of it, though it isn’t a punishment and there is no God as he imagines God to be. It is a catastrophic human failure, however. We have our heads screwed on wrong and we’re going to pay for it!

    We have so much to learn from those Andaman aboriginals, if only we knew how. They know something we desperately need to know ourselves. Those remnant groups of originals that remain in a few spots around the globe are our teachers, but we will not learn anything from them before the world as we know it becomes a very desperate place indeed. There is no time.

    It sounds so 60-ish, so Learyesque, but if this climate change does not induce a radical consciousness change, our Earth will become another Mars. Forget about the CO2 ppm. Think about the methane ppm, particularly in Russia, in the formerly frozen tundras of Siberia and all throughout the artic. There is no way to stop the juggernaut of climate change. It is too late. Proper scientific management of the environment is not an option any longer. The horse has left the barn. The planet can save itself only by disposing of several billion polluters. Those of us who survive will have to become spiritual aborigines. Hopefully, we can save our science and technology.

  6. lichen said on August 12th, 2010 at 8:09pm #

    I agree with much of what you said, cruxpuppy. The sixth sense that you speak of is most certainly real, and I was able to experience it while sleeping outside through one summer.

  7. JoeJ said on August 12th, 2010 at 9:08pm #

    Please – is not science the “most intimate relationship with the natural world?” Look at all we know – how can some tribes people’s intitutive sense of nature begin to match the value of modern science?

    Science is all we have, even though it is a poor substitute for real knowledge which comes only from an intimate relationship with the natural world

  8. lichen said on August 13th, 2010 at 2:59pm #

    “Science” as a whole, is not about connecting with nature–creating gm foods, nuclear weapons, or working for some corporation to produce false data showing it’s products don’t poison the atmosphere is certainly not a connection. Funny how this comes from the “volitional christian” but then again you showed before that you disliked indigenous people. It is not only they who experience the natural clairvoyance.

  9. cruxpuppy said on August 13th, 2010 at 3:30pm #

    The scientific method is not an intimate connection with the natural world. It is completely devoid of emotion. If it is emotional, it is bad science. Dissecting a corpse is not intimacy. Science aims for dominance and control of all natural phenomena. A scientist knows something about natural phenomena only when he or she can predict behavior and manipulate it.

    Such an attitude to nature is completely alien to aboriginal consciousness.

  10. Andrew Glikson said on August 13th, 2010 at 3:49pm #

    There appears to be confusion regarding the nature and role of the scientific method. Science is based on measurements and identification of the basic entities, laws and processes of nature (for example gravity, enthropy, DNA structure, natural evolution, plate tectonics, infrared radiation).

    Science does not attempt to “control” or “manipulate” nature, but to understand it – it is people in position of power/money who often misuse and abuse the products of the scientific method (i.e. weapons, dangerous chemicals, genetic engineering, dangerous pollution).

    The scientific method has no argument with other human faculties (i.e. art, music, emotions, faith). Thus one can think in terms of “science-based truths” and “human truths” living side by side, the one attempting to obtain as objective an insight into nature as humanly possible, the other expressing human inspiration and human needs.

    So far as understanding natural processes is concerned, in this case the factors which underlie the behaviour of the atmosphere-ocean-cryosphere system, there is no substitute to the scientific method.

  11. teafoe2 said on August 13th, 2010 at 4:09pm #

    “Science does not attempt to “control” or “manipulate” nature, but to understand it – it is people in position of power/money who often misuse and abuse the products of the scientific method (i.e. weapons, dangerous chemicals, genetic engineering, dangerous pollution).”

    “Science” is produced by scientists, who unless they happen to be born rich, are enabled to engage in their pursuits by people who have or control large amounts of money. So whenever you come across a “scientist” advocating this or that theory or proposition, a reasonable & prudent individual is well advised to apply the first principle of Deconstruction: Cui Bono?

  12. lichen said on August 13th, 2010 at 4:54pm #

    There is no such thing as “science”–just many different scientific things and scientists, including right wing scumbags who indeed do set out to destroy, manipulate, and kill. Further, many people who call themselves humanists do indeed go around condescending about how “science” is the only avenue to find any truths, and denigrating art and philosophy all the time. So it is all of those things, and also many times not.

  13. teafoe2 said on August 13th, 2010 at 5:10pm #

    A good experiment is to imagine you are a burglar who has just broken into somebody else’s premises. You are proceeding to case the joint looking for valuables, when suddenly you hear something: WHAT WAS THAT?

    So you stop moving, stop thinking, and LISTEN….

  14. Andrew said on August 13th, 2010 at 5:38pm #

    How would those who do not accept the scientific method identify the consequences of carbon emission into the atmosphere, or for that matter the use of any harmful practices and substances?

    Seek advice from the polluters and their mouthpieces?
    Consult the Oracle of Delphi?
    Listen to voodoo omens by tribal doctors?

    Or perhaps, in so far as they do not trust the scientific method, go out into nature , the disappearing Arctic ice, the fast-melting polar galciers, acidifying coral reefs, draught/fire/foood-strickn parts of the workd, and make direct observations themselves?

  15. lichen said on August 13th, 2010 at 5:48pm #

    Thanks so much for your condescending, black-and-white worldview Andrew. I guess if I don’t accept all corporate-funded, conventional, right wing corporate “science” as the only possible truth, than I can’t accept any individual piece of research either. The issues couldn’t possibly be complex, and surely there is nothing ingenuine about pretending that the scientific method = only things that the editorial board of elite, expensive peer-reviewed journals choose to publish. Indeed, the organic farmers of India that developed and saved their heirloom seed varieties and fine-tuned their methods for decades with fabulous results must have been quite ignorant compared to the corporate-funded scientists who came in with their hybrid and gm seeds, with chemical fertilizers and pesticides that spread disease, famine, and environmental devastation in the name of western science surely had better methods!

  16. lichen said on August 13th, 2010 at 5:53pm #

    Global warming is real; period. However, the very broad, vague term “science” includes much that has nothing to do with earth science, including much that is more specifically about humanity and does intentionally come into conflict with philosophy, art, and anything that is outside the status quo when it comes to views on that.

  17. cruxpuppy said on August 14th, 2010 at 11:08am #

    lichen notes that there is no “science”, just scientists, and I agree. Mr. Glikson is not science, but a scientist with his own attitude towards the scientific method, which is based, as he points out, on measurement and the derivation of underlying patterns that can be empirically demonstrated. He may have no intent to dominate the natural world he observes, or control it, just as Einstein had no intention of developing nuclear weapons.
    However, most scientists are not engaged in the pursuit of the pure understanding of the mechanical nature of nature. They intend to use science to exploit nature’s potential and make it useful for human purposes. In this sense science is a tool for the manipulation of nature because that is the intent of most scientists.

    This approach is in stark contrast to the aboriginal attitude to nature, which is not one of detached observation of he strictly measurable phenomena, but one of intimate connection to “Gaia”. We don’t know much of anything about a mode of perception so different from our own, but we do know that this Andaman tribe predicted the tsunami of 2004 and got out of the way.

    We also know that our scientific method has created the technology for the irresponsible and ignorant disruption of natural processes called anthropogenic warming. We need to know a great deal more about the manipulation of natural processes than we do if we are to correct the damage. We can take things apart and see how they work, but we can’t seem to put them back together. We are tasked to do this vis a vis the climate system, but we don’t know how. We don’t really understand how it works, so we can’t fix it.

    Seems to me that we can benefit from a radically different attitude towards nature, more like what we would now call the naive aboriginal understanding. James Lovelock is going in this direction with his Gaia systems concept, but not far enough. We need to understand ourselves, nature, and other species as an interrelated assemblage of participants in a world drama. This sounds vague and woo woo woo, but only because we are abysmally stupid. The proof of the depth and breadth of our stupidity will be the mass death of a great part of our numbers.

    Then we will begin to understand that “personifying” nature or other species is not merely the stuff of children’s books, but can actually be the basis for a systematic knowledge of the natural world that operates according to “laws” of which we are ignorant at present.