Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Reality Bites Denialists
That's the trouble with cynical denial of facts you know to be true, which is what the Koch brothers and their political allies are mostly doing with global climate change denial. We know it's cynically dishonest because they keep changing their premises: it isn't happening, maybe it's happening but people aren't causing it, maybe people are contributing to it but it isn't really bad, maybe it's a little bit bad but it isn't worth doing anything about it . . .
A recent arrow in the denialist quiver has been the claim that the planet has not been warming for 15 years. Either this means the whole claim about climate change is too a hoax, nah nah nah nah nah, or else it means the problem isn't really urgent so we'll just wait for the technology fairy to save us.
More sophisticated climate scientists have been saying all along that this is not true, the global surface temperature has been on a bit of a pause but that's because the heat is going into the oceans. This is kinda wonky, but a new analysis sets us straight. Climate models based on straightforward computation of how heat is trapped by greenhouse gases have tended to overestimate recent increases in global surface temperatures, i.e. they have failed to predict the recent slowdown. This has caused denialists to claim that climate models are worthless. Not so.
All you have to do is add the El Niño/Southern Oscillation phenomenon to the models and they fit reality just fine. In other words, for the past decade we've tended to have more La Niñas -- episodes of cool southern Pacific water -- than El Niños. Add that info to the models and they do predict recent surface temperature history. But now that's changing, with an El Niño predicted for later this summer or fall and guess what? We'll have an apparent acceleration in warming. It's already started, seemingly, with the warmest three months on record. Add to that the sparse coverage of the Arctic by weather stations, the Arctic being the region that has warmed the most, and we find the planet is even warmer than we thought. Already.
We're headed for a really obvious hot spell, folks, and the oceans will continue to rise, faster than before, the arctic sea ice to disappear, and the southwest U.S. to parch and bake until cities become uninhabitable. Yes. Then Sen. Inhofe and the Koch brothers will have to eat shit.