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NASA Scientist: Heat Waves Really Are From Global Warming 605

mdsolar writes with a tidbit from the New York Times on global warming: "The percentage of the earth's land surface covered by extreme heat in the summer has soared in recent decades, from less than 1 percent in the years before 1980 to as much as 13 percent in recent years, according to a new scientific paper. The change is so drastic, the paper says, that scientists can claim with near certainty that events like the Texas heat wave last year, the Russian heat wave of 2010 and the European heat wave of 2003 would not have happened without the planetary warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases. Those claims, which go beyond the established scientific consensus about the role of climate change in causing weather extremes, were advanced by James E. Hansen, a prominent NASA climate scientist, and two co-authors in a scientific paper published online on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 'The main thing is just to look at the statistics and see that the change is too large to be natural,' Dr. Hansen said in an interview."
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NASA Scientist: Heat Waves Really Are From Global Warming

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  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:13AM (#40903885) Homepage

    All this drought, devastation and disaster from just under 1 degree C. Imagine what it will be like at 2 degrees! When you multiply the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of the oceans and air by 1 degree, it's a number that's off the charts. How did people think we could dump that much energy into any system and it would not make a difference?

    • by marjancek ( 1215230 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:32AM (#40903993)

      How did people think we could dump that much energy into any system and it would not make a difference?

      Well, that's weird: people commenting without having an idea about the issue.
      We dumping energy into the system?

      We are not giving [so much] energy into the system; we are just pouring green-house gases into the atmosphere, which in turn stop the planet from loosing energy at the rate it has dissipated it before. That's called green-house effect, because it acts as the glasses in a green house, preventing the heat from leaving the system, and increasing the average temperature.

      It is not about human turning their air conditioners on and heating the atmosphere; it's about burning gas/coal/petrol to generate energy for those air conditioners (and cars, airplanes, industry, etc.) and increasing the level of green-house gases.

      • by squizzar ( 1031726 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:56AM (#40904209)

        Fuck me sideways. Can we sort this shit out. To free something is to loose it. To not win is to lose. If you were practising archery you'd be loosing arrows. If you were walking around with coins falling from your pocket you would be losing money. If you open all the cages at the zoo the animals have been loosed. If you drop your keys down the drain they are lost. A sibling's death might mean you lose a brother. A tragedy might occur to someone you are loosely related to. If something is not tight it is loose. To make it less tight would be to make it looser. Not knowing the difference between loose and lose makes you sound like a loser.

        If English is not your first language then I apologise: in that case you are a far more capable speaker than many who would call English their native tongue, and I can certainly make no claims to proficiency in any other language, but I see this mistake so very often, from people who should genuinely know better that I cannot keep the inner pedant at bay any more.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:35AM (#40904019)

      The only thing we normal people can do on an individual basis is try to live our lives in the most sustainable way possible. Of primary consideration is the location of where to live, as forest fires, flooding, drought, heat waves, and hurricanes are all increasing in magnitude. Sustainabble energy is important, as is renewable energy. Possessing a generator and solar array is essential, not only do they lower electricity bills, but they ensure life wil not be disrupted by outages. Similarly, storage and conservation of drinking water is also useful. Planting a decent size garden now days can save a family hundreds or even thousands dog dollars a year in food costs.

      If one lives in an urban environment (as a majority of humanity now do), live within your means and build up a saving account to deal with unforeseen incidences (disasters, outbreaks, ...anything goes these days!). It pays to be prepared, one cannot say they were not warned. No need to turn into a gun nut and go all survivalist stocking 10 years of food in ones basement, but we clearly need to reevaluate how we live on a daily basis.

      • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:52AM (#40904147) Homepage

        That's _not_ the only thing we normal people can do. We can learn to reject propaganda. We can pay attention to who we elect, and judge them on the basis of what they do, not what they promise to do. And we can find fellow citizens who also want a better world, and debate with them. People will tell you that this can never happen, and this can never work, but it is the only way change ever happens in a society: from the bottom up. And it has happened many times before. Don't let the no-hopeniks convince you to give up.

        This is not to say that any of what you have said above is wrong—just that it's not the only thing you can do.

    • by AlecC ( 512609 ) <> on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:54AM (#40904173)

      /We/ are not dumping that energy into the system. The sun is. All we are doing is stopping a tiny fraction of the energy that the sun dumps on the earth from escaping.

      Given that turning the sun "up" and "down" (the seasons) can make differences of many tens of degrees, the idea that changing the effective reflectivity can change the average temperature by a degree or two does not seem to me unreasonable. What we are doing is painting the earth blacker in the infra-red. And anybody knows how much more a black surface heats up compared to a white one in strong sunlight.

    • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:57AM (#40904219) Homepage Journal
      1 degree temperature difference doesn't cause drought. Drought is caused by it raining in the wrong place. It's always gonna rain ... in the desert it rains on the other side of the mountain. If the wind blows all the rain clouds north, or jetstreams take them west and over your farmland FOR A YEAR, it doesn't rain on you. Changing weather patterns can change the way the wind moves, changing where water vapor concentrates and preventing it from raining in an area; if it didn't rain the planet would turn into Venus (high humidity everywhere), but of course it'll just rain somewhere else. Over the ocean is a good, useless place for rain to go.
    • All this drought, devastation and disaster from just under 1 degree C. Imagine what it will be like at 2 degrees! When you multiply the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of the oceans and air by 1 degree, it's a number that's off the charts. How did people think we could dump that much energy into any system and it would not make a difference?

      What's not to understand...when you're talking to people who think the world has only been around for a few thousand years, you can't really expect them to grasp concepts like global warming.

    • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:58AM (#40905505)

      It isn't the 1ÂC change that is the problem. It is the bad habitat practices (cities, suburbs, huge parking lots), bad transportation practices (too much driving, too much shipping) and the bad agricultural practices (mono-cropping, feedlots, grain feeding, over production, poor choices of plant species), etc.

      Most of this is caused by government subsidization of bad decisions. Stop these subsidies and there will be a lot of self-correction. Yes, people will complain about higher gasoline prices, loss of home mortgage deductible, higher food prices, etc but paying the real cost will help them make better decisions.

      All of this is reverse-able, correctable, if you have the will to do better. How much more are you willing to pay at the pump, pay for locally pastured meats, pay for locally grown foods, pay for locally produced products, pay for longer lasting goods, skip the cheap plastics, do more yourself, stop traveling so much? You can make a difference. Act now.

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:14AM (#40903895) Journal

    In the U.S. the conservative political party (the ones opposed to doing anything about this) is called the Republicans.

    By and large they live in the center and southern parts of the country, the parts most affected by the heat.

    So, in a sense, they are burning in the Hell they themselves have created. Unfortunately the rest of the world is also suffering.

    • by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:25AM (#40903963)
      Your self control is amazing, how were you able to resist writing Rethuglicans? What's your secret?
    • by dbet ( 1607261 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:28AM (#40903979)
      Really? And what are the Republicans in China and India doing? How about Europe? It's *Global* Warming, and unless you don't use energy derived from burning fossil fuels, you're just as responsible. And I don't see a slow down or reverse of the trend without a massive change in technology over a very short time.
    • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:35AM (#40904017)

      The conservatives need to change their stance on global warming. The reason they are always "against" it is that all the political solutions to global warming that are proffered by the left represent the left's statist wet dream. But as I have come to realize, the only real way to solve global warming is through advancements in science and engineering to give us cheap reliable sources of green energy.

      The left may say that their statist utopia and an all powerful communal government would solve this, but they'd be just as wrong as they were every other time they've gotten that chance in the past.

      We need to find the next Einstein or Tesla to think up solutions to global warming, not the next Mao or Lenin.

      • by Pumpkin Tuna ( 1033058 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:43AM (#40904087)

        Think you could shove any more Libertarian catchphrases into that? Of course you do get extra points for using "statist" twice.

        • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:34AM (#40904607) Homepage Journal

          The bit I love is the fact the same people who use the term "statist" tend to also be the people who use the term "State's Rights" and consider it a positive term, apparently not realizing the link between the two words.

          And before I get flamed, yes, I'm aware people who approve of "States Rights" are simply choosing States against Federal or individual rights; in other words picking which government slips on the shackles over your ankles.

      • The universe doesn't care about your ideology and operates the same way whether you like it or not. Not liking regulation for ideological reasons shouldn't impact whether or not regulation will accomplish a specific set of goals. If you are always convinced that your ideology and how the laws of physics work always align, then something is wrong with your evaluation of how reality functions.
        • Not liking regulation for ideological reasons shouldn't impact whether or not regulation will accomplish a specific set of goals.

          Of course it does. Just see the Prohibition (any of them) for an example of how ineffective regulation will be when people actively resist it.

      • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:55AM (#40904195) Homepage

        My favorite solution to global warming is to tax carbon use and redistribute the proceeds evenly, creating a market incentive for people to stop using carbon. This neatly addresses the externality of carbon use, requires no special bureaucracy, and obsoletes itself as carbon use declines, while at the same time not unfairly penalizing people who are stuck using carbon fuels now.

        • Not coincidentally, this is exactly the "wet statist dream" proposed by James Hansen (who voted for Reagan, by the way).

      • Statist wet dream? Sir are you implying that politicians are interested in their own political agendas and not purely in the well-being of everyone on this shiny blue planet?
      • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:16AM (#40904419) Homepage

        The idea usually tossed around regarding CO2 emissions is a cap-and-trade system, modelled after the system created for SO2. That approach was to use market incentives rather than lots of regulations to get companies to reduce their emissions, and it's generally been a success in reducing acid rain. It was conceived of by civil servants at the EPA, but became law only in 1990 with the support of that well-known liberal George H.W. Bush. How exactly is that a "left's statist wet dream"?

      • by mcvos ( 645701 )

        I'm confused. Isn't it the left that generally wants to invest in and stimulate the science and engineering to give us cheap and reliable sources of green energy? Does that make them statist, or is that what you want? It's actually the results from global agreements between mostly authoritarian conservative national leaders that result in more statism.

      • by sycodon ( 149926 )


        Nuclear Energy.

        If we had continued with nuclear energy instead of letting it die on the cross of the litigators and regulators, CO2 emissions would probably be a fraction of what they are now.

        The reason conservatives are suspicious of the entire AGW movement is that the community ignores the obvious solution in favor of the left's statist wet dream.

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:14AM (#40903899)
    Look at the abstract. This isn't arguing about the accuracy of fractional degree measurements at individual weather stations: it is about > 3 sigma events over >10% of the Earth's surface, quite large changes and exactly the kind of thing that would be expected if more energy was being added to the atmosphere. For years the climatologists have been trying to explain that adding energy doesn't simply make everything slightly warmer, but will have effects larger in one place and smaller in another. This study tends to bear that out and emphasises that the extremes are over large land masses - again as would be expected. I am rather glad I live close enough to the Atlantic to be affected by Atlantic weather patterns, but far enough that we rarely get the worst of the storms, even though I am going to have to put in extra soil drainage in October.
    • Finally someone that points out this is about the change in temperature *variance* (square root of variance rather), and not the change in temperature mean. Sigma-dot as it were. The plot of the sigma over the last six decades showed a clear trend that the temperature became more varied in that time. Six decades is nothing in climate terms though. I read the argument on why 1951-1980 was used as the baseline, its mean was near the overall holocene mean, and the mean wasn't changing much during those th

  • Personal attacks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:19AM (#40903933)

    Wait for the dirty tricks and personal attacks to begin.

    The fossil fuel lobby won't take such a show of flagrant anti-rich, anti-1% dissent lying down.

    Like the poor fool who dares to step between the pigs and their swill, this fellow is gonna get mauled.

  • Eh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherIdiot ( 1980292 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:21AM (#40903939)

    The main thing is just to look at the statistics and see that the change is too large to be natural

    Don't underestimate nature, it has a habit of killing those that do.

  • Moderation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeathToBill ( 601486 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:56AM (#40904203) Journal

    Someone needs to take a long, hard look at the moderation of climate threads on /. Quoting from the moderation guidelines:

    Try to be impartial about this. Simply disagreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to mark it down.

    I'm not taking sides either way in the climate debate; I'm saying that sceptics are moderated down because the moderators disagree with their point of view. At least one comment here already has the score '0 Flamebait' when I'm pretty sure the author of that comment posted what he posted because he honestly believes it, not because he's trying to stir up a flame war. Another comment is titled, 'Before the trolls start...', immediately branding anyone who disagrees with the author as a troll. They're not, they just disagree with you. Build a bridge and get over it.

    • Re:Moderation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @03:05PM (#40908453)

      "I'm saying that sceptics are moderated down because the moderators disagree with their point of view"

      No. They are modded down because they argue against evidence without bringing evidence of their own to the table. An argument with evidence is informative. An argument without evidence is at best uninteresting in the context of global warming, and at worst trolling.

  • by bbbaldie ( 935205 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:22AM (#40904461) Homepage
    ...that Mr. Hansen has hard evidence that actual percentages of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases have increased in the atmosphere? I'm not talking about cojncidentally matching the industrial revolution, I'm talking about hard evidence of percentages of these gases in the atmosphere say, 50 years ago compared to today. Because in all of the hyperbole, yelling, threatening, and name calling, I have yet to see those figures. That is what it would take to convince this particular individual that rising atmospheric temperatures are related to greenhouse gases.

    Please, no accusations of being a right-wing nut. I just don't jump on any bandwagons until I'm sure of the facts.

  • Socialist science (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:43AM (#40904709) Homepage

    My dad, who gets most of his news and opinions from Rupert Murdoch's corporation, and my brother, who gets most of his news and opinions from libertarian blogs, assure me that climate science is socialist science. You see, there is a conspiracy at the universities, where all the faculty is implicitly socialist (evidently not having to really work for a living fosters that political belief!) to end capitalism. Climate scientists are the cutting edge by which that conspiracy seeks to slice the capitalist throat. Everything in their journals and public pronouncements is a concerted lie in the furtherance of their conspiracy.

    What Joe McCarthy warned us about — a communist conspiracy in government (at a time where there really were some communist conspirators in government, if perhaps not as many as he claimed) — doesn't begin to compare to this (where rather than a minority of government workers being communist, over 97% of climate scientists are in on the grand conspiracy)! To find a parallel, we must look back to earlier in the 20th century, when "Jewish science" threatened to undermine that most advanced of states, Germany. Top non-Jewish scientists in Germany, many with fundamental discoveries to their credit, elucidated precisely how the "theory" of relativity and certain quantum claims from "Jewish science" threatened to undermine the Thousand Year Reich, and more than that were specifically designed to.

    From our point of view as Americans, we have much to thank "Jewish science" for. It shows how scientists, when they conspire, can undermine what they see as an evil empire. Similarly, future citizens of Greater Socialist Scandinavia may thank the "climate scientists" whose clever scheme if successful will spell the end of the Capitialist American Empire.

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:18AM (#40905045) Journal

    He based his conclusions on a 60 year time frame. 60 years is statistically insignificant when looked at on geologic time scales. It is the equivalent of stating a person's average life-time activity level by looking at what said person did over the last minute.

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

      Mankind is insignificant on a geological time scale.

      Why should we care how the climate looks like in a million years if we're extinct in a millennium?

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.