Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It is always better to wait a few days until it dries

It's usually a little less, um, fragrant.

Well, that, too, but I'm referring to Jason Lewis' writing, and his column on Sunday, in particular.

The topic? Global warming.

Jason's view? Ain't none.

Brilliant empiricist that he is, Lewis trumpets his best argument:
Across the globe, the last few winters have been exceedingly harsh. 
China has endured its most severe winter in 100 years, snow has fallen in Baghdad, and the United Kingdom just suffered through its coldest December since 1683, according to figures from the Met Office.
This is a slightly more elegant variant of the it's cold today; where's your global warming now, stupid? argument.

When you remove an object from a baby's field of vision, to the baby, it ceases to exist.

Jason's a little like that.

Lucky for us - or me, actually - Lewis' column comes to us today pre-skewered by science teacher Josh Leonard.

Leonard observes:
They [climate change deniers] quote pundits like Rush Limbaugh or conservative think tanks [not scientists] like the Heartland Institute [quoted by guess who in the column] (which also advocates that secondhand smoke doesn't affect your health). 
They look at short-term data. They conveniently forget that there is a new shipping lane opening up through the North Pole because the polar ice cap is smaller than it ever has been.
 Lewis writes several laughers in the column, but here's one of my favorites:
The global-warming hysteria is based on computer models, not empirical data, because the records simply don't go back far enough.
Two winters is enough to convince the deep-thinking Lewis that global warming doesn't exist, but millions of years of geologic data isn't enough for him!

Here's the U.K.'s Gelogical Society, however, on the evidence of periods of global warming in the earth's history (and it goes back further than the terrible winter of '09):
The last century has seen a rapidly growing global population and much more intensive use of resources, leading to greatly increased emissions of gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, from the burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal), and from agriculture, cement production and deforestation. Evidence from the geological record is consistent with the physics that shows that adding large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere warms the world and may lead to: higher sea levels and flooding of low-lying coasts; greatly changed patterns of rainfall2; increased acidity of the oceans 3,4,5,6; and decreased oxygen levels in seawater7,8,9
There is now widespread concern that the Earth’s climate will warm further, not only because of the lingering effects of the added carbon already in the system, but also because of further additions as human population continues to grow. Life on Earth has survived large climate changes in the past, but extinctions and major redistribution of species have been associated with many of them. When the human population was small and nomadic, a rise in sea level of a few metres would have had very little effect on Homo sapiens. With the current and growing global population, much of which is concentrated in coastal cities, such a rise in sea level would have a drastic effect on our complex society, especially if the climate were to change as suddenly as it has at times in the past. Equally, it seems likely that as warming continues some areas may experience less precipitation leading to drought. With both rising seas and increasing drought, pressure for human migration could result on a large scale.
Here's how the Society knows this:
Evidence for climate change is preserved in a wide range of geological settings, including marine and lake sediments, ice sheets, fossil corals, stalagmites and fossil tree rings. Advances in field observation, laboratory techniques and numerical modelling allow geoscientists to show, with increasing confidence, how and why climate has changed in the past. For example, cores drilled through the ice sheets yield a record of polar temperatures and atmospheric composition ranging back to 120,000 years in Greenland and 800,000 years in Antarctica. Oceanic sediments preserve a record reaching back tens of millions of years, and older sedimentary rocks extend the record to hundreds of millions of years. This vital baseline of knowledge about the past provides the context for estimating likely changes in the future.
 But it's not in the Farmer's Almanac, so Jason probably missed it.

No comments: