a community newspaper serving western Albemarle County

To the Editor: It’s Real

It’s Real

I write to point out that the article by Heidi Sonen and Roscoe Shaw in the recent Crozet Weather Almanac is misleading (Crozet Weather Almanac: Climate Change, June 2014). As a Ph.D. meteorologist, I agree there is abundant evidence to suggest the earth has warmed and humans have contributed to the warming. There is a broad scientific consensus that global average temperatures have already increased by over 1°F.  In fact, even the most conservative estimates suggest at least 2.5°F warming will occur as CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere double.  The authors claim there is no evidence that extreme weather is more common in a warming world, but there are precipitation studies that show heavy downpours have grown more frequent and more intense over the past 50 years (http://www.climate.gov/news-features/featured-images/heavy-downpours-more-intense-frequent-warmer-world).   However, my main criticism of this article is the “bottom line” statement that despite an explosion of new emissions from China “climate has stubbornly refused to warm.”  Along with the cryptic graph, this statement creates confusion, if not deliberate misinformation.

I would like to tell your readers that the combined global average temperature over land and ocean surfaces in May 2014 was the warmest May on record; temperatures were 1.3°F above the 20th century average according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/5). Furthermore, recent analyses from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration note that, globally, the 14 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/).  Finally, for the authors to suggest that citizens’ efforts to cut energy consumption are of no value is simply irresponsible.  In fact there is good evidence that action to curb global warming makes economic sense and that the costs of inaction are high. (http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/reduce-emissions/economics-climate-factsheet.html).

Jennie  Moody
Greenwood

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2 Comments

  1. Although I’m sure Ms. Moody and I agree on many aspects of the climate change debate, I take issue with several ways that she views the data. I’ll address them one by one.

    /////////////////////////////////
    “There is a broad scientific consensus that global average temperatures have already increased by over 1°F.”
    …………………………………

    True and exactly what we said. Virtually all of it before 1950 was natural and no warming has occurred this century.

    /////////////////////////////////
    “In fact, even the most conservative estimates suggest at least 2.5°F warming will occur as CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere double.”
    ……………………………………………………

    Computer model forecasts have been consistently wrong at forecasting global surface temperatures…always forecasting too high. Always. Virtually all scientists agree that CO2 will warm the atmosphere. “Warmists” think positive feedbacks will cause dramatic, dangerous warming. “Lukewarmers” contend the feedbacks will be negative making the warming minor and generally benign. So far, the observed data favors the lukewarmers.

    /////////////////////////
    “The authors claim there is no evidence that extreme weather is more common in a warming world, but there are precipitation studies that show heavy downpours have grown more frequent and more intense over the past 50 years (http://www.climate.gov/news-features/featured-images/heavy-downpours-more-intense-frequent-warmer-world)
    ……………………………………

    Ms. Moody is right. There is evidence of more heavy downpours and that could possibly be a result of steeper lapse rates of temperature due to greenhouse gases. More hurricanes? No. More tornadoes? No. More drought or floods? No. Stronger low pressure systems? No. Overall, the evidence of an extreme weather increase is not significant and is noted accordingly in the most recent IPCC report.

    /////////////////////////

    “However, my main criticism of this article is the “bottom line” statement that despite an explosion of new emissions from China “climate has stubbornly refused to warm.” Along with the cryptic graph, this statement creates confusion, if not deliberate misinformation.”
    ………………………………

    China dramatically increased CO2 emissions this century. Global temperatures have not increased this century. Those are simple facts so I’m not sure why it’s confusing.
    /////////////////////////

    ” May 2014 was the warmest May on record; temperatures were 1.3°F above the 20th century average”
    …………………………..
    According to one temperature data set, this is true. The three other major temperature data sets did not set highs in May. The 10 year temperature trends have been down and there has been no statistically significant warming this century.

    Climate, however, is generally considered at least 30 years and the 30 year trend remains solidly up. Our point is not that the earth isn’t warming. We just contend that it has been happening far slower than forecast and that this is good news.

    /////////////////////////

    “Finally, for the authors to suggest that citizens’ efforts to cut energy consumption are of no value is simply irresponsible. ”
    …………………………….

    What we actually said…

    “Cutting energy consumption has a lot of economic and ecological benefit but it won’t help much with temperature. If everyone in the United States completely stopped using all energy forever beginning today, the global temperature would be about 0.08°F cooler by the year 2050.”

    That’s very different and we stand by it.

    We also said….

    “The science is split and the public is split and our friends that we went to school with are split.”

    Ms. Moody’s complaints about our summary is proof of the disagreement within the science. I suggest that people look at the actual data and listen to actual scientists like Ms. Moody and Heidi and I. And when you see that media catchphrase “Scientists say…” remember that we don’t talk as a group. We fight like cats and dogs.

    A great deal of recent climate data can be found here.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/125630565@N05/with/14527956564

  2. The climate data has been moved and is now here….

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/125630565@N05/sets/72157645113383959/

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