Global Warming and Cooling, Climate Change Versus Weather

Climate is different than weatherMuch ado has been made [ark | moreark] regarding a study last week in Nature which found that global warming may slow or even temporarily cool over the coming decade. This was seized upon by all sorts of climate skeptics [search] and charlatans to suggest climate change is not so important after all. I have three brief responses.
Firstly, the rise in average global temperature is only one way to characterize change in atmospheric patterns and processes. It is becoming apparent that broader extremes around temperature averages — as demonstrated by unusual weather events, including quite possibly the cyclone in Myanmar [ark] — may be the greater harm. This is why “climate change” has long been recognized as a better term than “global warming” to communicate these dynamics.


Secondly, as RealClimate points out in their post “Global Cooling – Wanna Bet?” — this study and other recent coverage of a lack of warming in recent years are flawed because they compare long term climate change to short term weather variability [search]. There have been lulls, peaks and troughs in the plainly evident past human-caused global warming and there will be as we go forward. As various oscillations break down and the climate becomes more chaotic, it is probable various feedbacks will temporarily lead to cooling.
And lastly, let us keep in mind that climate change is but one symptom of a larger systematic break down in the biosphere. Water scarcity, soil depletion, lifeless oceans, biodiversity extinction, bioaccumulating toxics and many other ecological crises illustrate humanity's numbers and consumption patterns overwhelming global ecosystems which make life possible. The science is clear and settled, climate is inexorably warming and becoming more unpredictable, exacerbating these other ecological crises and threatening to dramatically change what it means to live on the planet Earth.

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4 Responses

  1. zephyr says:

    Glen Barry wrote:
    …..It is becoming apparent that broader extremes around temperature averages — as demonstrated by unusual weather events, including quite possibly the cyclone in Myanmar — may be the greater harm…..
    YES.
    The increasing incidence of extreme fluctuations in both temperature and air pressure, particularly in certain regions of the world, is definitely contributing to the frequency and intensity of severe weather events.
    How many people in the U.S. midwest alone have lost their lives to tornadoes since February 2008?
    And since when did tornado season start in February?
    Glen, your commentary of May 9 is one of the best I've seen yet in response to the “skeptics and charlatans.” It is lucid, succinct and layperson-friendly. Anyone who “doesn't get it” at this late date is being willfully obtuse. Period.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What about the snow that that was received in May in Utah, Colorado and Nebraska – is that the increase in temperatures?????

  3. Michael Evans says:

    My theory about the recent dip in global temperatures, for what it's worth, is simply this. If you measured the temperature of your ice cooled PIMs on a hot summers day, you would find that it stays at just above zero deg C right up until all the ice goes. All the heat energy entering the glass from the warm surrounding air is focused on melting the ice. Same is happening to Earth – judging from the rate of ice melt at the poles – there's a hell of a lot of energy being absorbed. What will happen when the sea ice goes? 80 months to go and I hate my PIMs warm. Get building that ark!

  4. Bakker says:

    address it as ''climate disturbance'' instead of ''climate chance'' course that's what it is.

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