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Droughts Linked To Global Warming 535

Posted by Soulskill
from the hot-off-the-presses dept.
Layzej writes "Two new papers indicate that we are likely already seeing some of the predicted impacts of global warming. The first used Monte Carlo simulations to analyze how many new record events you expect to see in a time series with a trend. They applied the technique to the unprecedented Russian heat wave of July 2010, which killed 700 people and contributed to soaring wheat prices. According to the analysis, there's an 80 percent chance that climate change was responsible. The authors have described their methods and how they improved on previous studies. The second group studied wintertime droughts in the Mediterranean region. They found that 'the magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone. This is not encouraging news for a region that already experiences water stress, because it implies natural variability alone is unlikely to return the region's climate to normal.'"
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Droughts Linked To Global Warming

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  • by Daetrin (576516) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @05:51PM (#37882292)
    The unusual weather events we've been seeing around the world the last year aren't proof that global climate change is real... at least not yet. Weather != Climate and all that, not over the period of a single year anyways. But eventually if the trend continues and we continue to see more and bigger weather related disasters over the coming years then eventually even the non-scientist deniers will have to admit there is a problem. When that does happen, i wonder if any of the deniers will actually step forward and admit they were wrong? Every time i see a denier post on Slashdot that seems to come from someone who sincerely believes what they're saying i'm tempted to write their name down and ask them about it when that time comes, but i'm far too lazy to actually follow through on that.

    (And turnabout is fair play. If ten or twenty years from now the temperature hasn't gone up any more and the weird weather events go away without us taking any action about it i'll be willing to stand up and say i was wrong. In fact i'd be quite happy to have that event come about.)
  • Don't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Master Control P (655590) <ejkeever@@@nerdshack...com> on Saturday October 29, 2011 @05:55PM (#37882320)
    It doesn't matter a bit. Until the consequences reach such catastrophic, region-depopulating proportions that the changes occurring can't possibly be ignored the denalism will continue to be sponsored (because that's convenient for certain big businesses in the short term, and they're too stupid to see they're shooting themselves in the face in the medium and long term).

    By then it'll almost certainly be too late to do anything, either to prepare or attempt to moderate the changes. But I have no doubt that when that time comes, the denalists will pretend they are innocent and will continue to defend the handful of corporate interests that manipulated them. Remember how long the tobacco-sponsored lies about how smoking doesn't cause cancer kept up?
  • by next_ghost (1868792) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:05PM (#37882392)
    You're hoping for too much from deniers. Their selective memory will take care of the issue and they won't admit to being wrong anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:06PM (#37882402)

    is how the Earth's temperature has remained essentially static (with a slight downward trend) for the last 12 years. That's from figures that everyone agrees.

    If the temperature is static/slightly decreasing while the CO2 levels keep rising, then the CO2 hypothesis CAN'T be right. You can do clever stats as much as you like - the fact remains that the theory and model predictions say that the temperature should be increasing rapidly - and it just isn't. That really is the elephant in the room...

  • Re:Don't matter. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:09PM (#37882404)

    Until free trade orthodoxy is derailed, doing anything about global warming will merely mean a transfer of wealth from the West to the East with little to show for it. Jack up the price of carbon in the US and Europe and more economic activity will flee to India and the Middle Kingdom wreathed in smog. It'll be no use appealing to them. If the Indian farmer has to choose between catastrophic flooding maybe drowning him in twenty years or having to certainly drink weed killer tomorrow because the engine of growth has been killed, what's he going to choose? Even more for the Communist government of China, which faces chaos and collapse if the economic growth ends.

  • by Layzej (1976930) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:22PM (#37882494)

    The unusual weather events we've been seeing around the world the last year aren't proof that global climate change is real... at least not yet. Weather != Climate

    That is the opposite of the conclusion reached by these two papers. The papers found that the events in these regions are more likely with the current warming, and would not likely have occurred if it were not for the recent warming.

    If ten or twenty years from now the temperature hasn't gone up any more and the weird weather events go away without us taking any action about it i'll be willing to stand up and say i was wrong.

    You should expect to see another record year in two or three years (barring a super volcano). Waiting for 10 or 20 years before you reconsider your position is extreme in my opinion. On a somewhat related note, one of the interesting findings of the first paper is that we should expect fewer record years from temperature series that show greater natural variability. For instance, the UAH series exaggerates El Nino/La Nina events relative to other series, so we should expect fewer record years from that series, even though the trend is the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:28PM (#37882528)

    They need money for levies to hold water back, not money for Carbon Tax to be paid to the UN's banksters

  • by bunratty (545641) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:37PM (#37882572)
    If someone is denying climate change today, I see no reason why they would not keep denying for the next twenty years. Even after dramatic climate changes in 50-100 years, I have no doubt that they will still say there's no proof that the changes were the result of doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. After all, there's no other Earth to run a controlled experiment on, so by definition there can never be any iron-clad proof. There's also no proof the universe wasn't created last Thursday.
  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bunratty (545641) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:40PM (#37882582)
    I see only one explanation for the recent warming -- increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to humans burning fossil fuels. Do you think there's another plausible explanation? I've heard increased solar output, and a change in the flux of cosmic rays, neither of which we seem to have observed. On the other hand, increased temperatures due to excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to burning fossil fuels was predicted over 100 years ago, long before it ever happened. It sounds like the best explanation available to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:41PM (#37882592)

    A few dishonest conservative nutcases call it "global redistribution scam", but potato, potahto.

    FTFY.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:48PM (#37882652)

    If it were true, then I'd have to change my lifestyle and I don't want to, therefore global warming is a scam.

  • by iceperson (582205) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:57PM (#37882718)
    I'm what many people might call a "denier" even though I believe the earth is getting warmer. I'm just not convinced that 1) humans are making a measurable effect on the climate, 2) we can do anything about it if we are, and 3) it's something to really worry about (who says the current temperature is the perfect temperature for the planet?)

    However, that doesn't mean that I don't recycle and do everything I can to reduce my environmental impact. Personally I think if less time and energy were spent trying to convince everyone the sky is falling because of AGW and more time were spent reminding people that having clean air and water is enough reason to take care of our environment then we might get somewhere.
  • (!A)GW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blackfrancis75 (911664) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @07:05PM (#37882770)
    Why are people commenting on this story as though it made a case for Anthropogenic (human-caused) Global Warming?
    It doesn't.
  • by Daetrin (576516) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @07:17PM (#37882836)
    Well i agree with your last point. There are plenty of good reasons to improve our current systems even without considering climate change.

    As for the first part, at which point do you feel the argument that the change is related to our activities breaks down? It's easy to find numbers on exactly how much oil, coal and natural gas is burned every year and calculate the resultant change in carbon dioxide concentrations in the air. I've done the math myself, and it's surprising how big an impact we have. It's been a while since i did that but at the current rate presuming no other changes it's a surprisingly short period of time before we'd make the atmosphere actually lethal. (Some thousands of years i think? Though it could be tens of thousands or just centuries, i'd have to look up the math. In any event surprisingly quick on geologic scales.)

    Of course according to current models we'd see severe changes to the climate long before that point. So where do you disagree? Do you feel that the carbon dioxide is being pulled out of the atmosphere at a _much_ greater rate than it was before we started pumping it into the atmosphere? If so, where do you think it's all going? Or do you feel that the models claiming that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas are wrong? Or do you feel that some other factor is balancing the effect of the increased carbon dioxide? Or is there something else i'm not considering that you think is important?

    I would argue that given we have a mathematically proven effect on the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere it's kind of silly to argue that we can't do anything about the climate. And i would _not_ argue that the current temperature is perfect for the planet, but i think that it's pretty likely the current temperature, or at least the current climate, is close to perfect for us right now. After all, we've spent a long time adapting ourselves to the current situation. It's possible that another situation might be better for us overall, but adapting to that new situation over the period of a couple decades would probably be very painful. Maybe if northern Canada and Russia turn into ideal farmland while the Europe and the Midwest in the US turn into dustbowls the total _potential_ food harvest will increase, but how many people will starve (and how many wars will be fought?) before that new potential is realized?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2011 @07:40PM (#37882998)

    No, paper was invented long before Global Warming became an issue...

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @07:43PM (#37883014)

    Oh how I wish I had mod points. This is exactly how I feel. I recognize the Earth is getting warmer, and I know CO2 concentrations can cause warming effects, but I am by no means convinced that there is a causation link between the two, or that most (obviously not all) of the people preaching AGW aren't doing it because they benefit from "green" research and development, which is more often than not (and unfortunately) a rip-off.

    Of course we should move away from oil as fast as possible: but there are a dozen good, incontrovertible reasons to do so, and harping on global warming only makes your argument look weak (it tends to make people think that is the strongest reason to shift to cleaner energy: it isn't, by a long shot.) On the other hand, pouring millions of government dollars into subsidies to build (research is completely different) solar panels or electric cars is wasteful and probably mostly the result of corruption, at one level or another.

  • Re:(!A)GW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cabriel (803429) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @07:44PM (#37883020)

    It was predicted years ago that my anti-ninja rock will keep ninjas from killing me. Every confirmation that ninjas haven't killed me without providing any other plausible explanation for the lack of me dying is more evidence to confirm this hypothesis.

    What this says is that lack of explanation is not confirmation of hypothesis.

  • by Layzej (1976930) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @07:55PM (#37883086)

    Warmer temperatures cause greater evaporation and greater precipitation

    Yes. The greater evaporation is what causes the droughts. This is exactly consistent with the predictions.

    This is something that is literally impossible to know today, so how do they claim to know it?

    I suspect the answer may be hidden in the paper.

  • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @07:56PM (#37883094)

    The current temperatures are not the perfect ones for the planet. The planet doesn't care. The current temperatures are perfect for us and the food crops and animals we have based our civilization around.

  • by chrb (1083577) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @08:24PM (#37883232)

    these papers don't prove anything

    Proofs are for mathematicians. You can't make a "proof" that we aren't living in some Matrix-style virtual world, where the climate is controlled by The Architect. What scientists can do, however, is to establish the most likely hypothesis to explain some observed data, and provide error bars for acceptance of said hypothesis. And that's pretty important.

    Warmer temperatures cause greater evaporation and greater precipitation. Period.... anybody who is predicting more droughts, on average, due to warmer temperatures is -- ahem -- all wet.

    Not really, because as you point out changes are regional in scope. That means that it is possible for some regions to get hotter, some colder, some wetter, some drier. If the regions that already have a large rainfall get a lot more rain (enough to significantly increase the global average), and regions that are on the drought boundary get slightly less rain, then the number of droughts will increase, even though the global average rainfall has also increased. I'm not saying that is what will or won't happen, but logically the two outcomes of "greater global rainfall" and "increased drought" are not mutually exclusive.

  • by Layzej (1976930) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @08:30PM (#37883258)

    What I can't understand is how the Earth's temperature has remained essentially static (with a slight downward trend) for the last 12 years.

    Because they haven't. Here are all the major temperature reconstructions. All agree that the last 12 years showed warming. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/offset:-0.074/mean:12/from:1999/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:12/from:1999/plot/uah/offset:0.225/mean:12/from:1999/plot/rss/offset:0.14/mean:12/from:1999 [woodfortrees.org]

    Seriously, how can you imagine that there has been a slight downward trend when 2010 was the hottest year on record?

  • by the gnat (153162) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @08:31PM (#37883260)

    I am by no means convinced that there is a causation link between the two, or that most (obviously not all) of the people preaching AGW aren't doing it because they benefit from "green" research and development, which is more often than not (and unfortunately) a rip-off.

    I think it bears reminding everyone, again, that the 6 of the top 10 companies in the world by revenue are oil and gas producers [wikipedia.org], and the total revenue of the fossil fuel-based energy companies is in the multiple trillions of dollars, a scale comparable to the US federal budget. This is at least two orders of magnitude more money than the DOE's annual budget (more than a third of which is spent on nuclear security, not "green" research), and more than three orders of magnitude more than the federal government wasted on Solyndra. So even if most of the people claiming that AGW is real are doing it for the money (which is bullshit - academic scientists don't make very much, at least not compared to oil and gas company scientists), it's not exactly a level playing field.

  • by Layzej (1976930) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @08:42PM (#37883312)

    Where is the hockeystick graph for Mars, which has CO2 concentrations far beyond anything achievable on Earth?

    Mars has about 0.0048 of the atmosphere that Earth has (by mass). Most of it is CO2, but there ain't much of it.

  • Re:Doughnuts? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mevets (322601) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:09PM (#37883442)

    This kind of crap wrecks /. The quoted post was a perfect /.-ism - confident, pretentious, uneducated and wrong. Pointing out the faults takes the fun out of it.

    Please stop; unacknowledged stupidity has a certain elegance.

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:11PM (#37883450)
    What you are (deliberately, because there's no other possible explanation) missing is that even if 90% of scientists say they think that there is such a thing as AGW, they are not all saying - unlike Al Gore and his merry band of hucksters, investors, and money-handlers - that it (AGW) is the only thing impacting climate, or even necessarily a prominent factor, or anything that can be actually altered by the sort of tax-related and redistributionist agenda that so many preach as a solution. You are (deliberately) pretending that the consensus you cite is a consensus on topics about which 90% of scientists sure as hell do not agree or even responsibly offer an opinion.

    Your own post shows how much you think of this topic in idealogical and political power terms, rather than in scientific terms. Which is what this topic - in any way that really matters - is actually all about for the leftists that have latched onto it as one of their favorite new bang-the-drums-in-the-street distraction theater topics. Grabbing cash, power, and political leverage to support the goals of the people we see lining up behind the it's-all-AGW and AGW-is-all-from-Eeeeeevil-businesses mantra, that's what's on display here. And you're doing your assignment just as you've been taught.
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:19PM (#37883490)

    "... academic scientists don't make very much, at least not compared to oil and gas company scientists..."

    While this may be true, it is not evidence of what you claim. In fact it is very misleading.

    Few "academics" are on the payroll of oil companies. MANY academics got their research grants via a government system that has preferentially given them out to studies that deal with the subject of "global warming".

    Regardless of the reason(s) behind that, it still amounts to a skewed expenditure of dollars... and NOT on the side of Big Oil.

    For the most part how much money belongs to whom is irrelevant; it is who is spending it, and where, that matters.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:29PM (#37883542)

    The vast majority of so-called "deniers" do not deny climate change at all; they simply dispute whether it (or much of it, anyway) is caused by humans.

    They used to deny there was any climate change at all. As they looked ever more ludicrous claiming that, one by one they moved the goalposts. The gaps into which they squeeze their denial gets ever smaller.

    The Republican 5 step plan to Global Warming Denial.
    1) There is no such thing as Global Warming
    2) There is such a thing as Global Warming, but man isn't a cause.
    3) Man is a cause of Global Warming, but other causes are more significant.
    4) Man is a significant cause of Global Warming, but Global warming is not detrimental to Man.
    5) Global Warming is detrimental to Man, blame the (by now incumbent) Democrats for not having taken action sooner.

  • by ETEQ (519425) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @10:53PM (#37883856)

    The guy who is primarily responsible for the spread of claims of weather extremes [colorado.edu] has been caught in his lies.

    There isn't just "one guy" who says this. There have been hundreds of papers showing links between weather extremes and global warming. To be fair, weather extremes aren't always bad either... if the "extreme" is that a major rainstorm passes over Texas right now, that's better. The problem is that (as was stated above), we've built most of our society around assuming the climate that existed before global warming. If this changes drastically, a lot of people are going to die before we settle back into whatever the new normal is climate-wise. It's not that global warming is bad per se, just that it's bad if it occurs too quickly for humanity and the ecosystem to respond.
     
      Oh, and then there's the fact that increased CO2 is turning the oceans acidic. That gets much less news, but is potentially much more destructive from a world-wide perspective. And there's no possible way you can say that isn't associated with CO2 levels in the atmosphere. And all you have to be able to do to know that's anthropogenic is how to count.

  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @11:58PM (#37884142)

    If you increase the concentration of CO2 in a mixture of gases like the atmosphere with infrared radiation passing through it it will warm up by capturing more of that IR. That's simple physics. Human burning of fossil fuels has put more than twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere as it takes to raise the level from 280 ppmv in 1830 to 390 ppmv in 2011. You're going to need some pretty extraordinary evidence to show the increase in CO2 is not the primary cause of global warming and humans are not the primary cause of the increase in CO2. Good luck with that.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @01:23AM (#37884406)

    Furthermore, it's not a "problem".

    Congratulations. Whilst most here are stuck on step 2, you've progressed to step 4.

    The Republican 5 step plan to Global Warming Denial.
    1) There is no such thing as Global Warming
    2) There is such a thing as Global Warming, but man isn't a cause.
    3) Man is a cause of Global Warming, but other causes are more significant.
    4) Man is a significant cause of Global Warming, but Global warming is not detrimental to Man.
    5) Global Warming is detrimental to Man, blame the (by now incumbent) Democrats for not having taken action sooner.

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