Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Global Warming Scare May Be Overblown In Short Term, But Increased Droughts, Flooding and Wildfires Are Here Today

A couple of interesting news items caught my attention today. On one hand, research indicates that global temperatures have not increased during the past 15 years. On the other hand, the drought in the Southwest has led to wells no longer producing enough water to meet the needs of the residents of Spicewood, Texas.  Long term predictions about global temperature change are being debated, while much less attention is being focused on the immediate impact of extreme weather events.

In order to gain attention and funding, climate researchers have focused attention on the armageddon-ish aspect of melting ice caps causing global flooding. The almost impossible to accurately predict impact of human activity on the global temperature change over the next few decades gets most of the attention, while the less dramatic impact of changes in atmospheric moisture content that are already being manifested gets less attention.

The research showing that temperature have not risen for 15 years indicates that the computer simulations for forecasting temperature change are flawed. Thus, the longer term predictions about global temperature are under attack. However, the shorter term predictions that flash floods and droughts would increase have come to pass. According to Dr. Kevin Trenberth,
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.
The uncertain long term impact of global climate change was pointed out in The Wall Street Journal's editorial No Need to Panic About Global Warming. However, the residents of the Southwest that will suffer from drought this summer may not agree that there is no need to panic.

The occurrences of extreme weather is increasing. Thus, it seems a bit premature to write off being concerned about Global Warming. Perhaps more attention should be focused on measuring the moisture in the atmosphere and less upon measuring temperature changes. Droughts, floods, and wild fires are already here. It would be a relief to learn that the 16 scientists urging candidates for public office to ignore the looming threat of climate change are correct, but I'm not ready to ignore the conflicting viewpoint of NASA.

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