Science, climate change and extreme weather events

Driving through the drought-stricken Central Valley of California last month was a sobering experience: Vast swaths of once productive crop land turned to desert; thousands of almond trees and fruit trees left unwatered, gray and dead, their limbs stripped of leaves and bark. In some areas, it was almost post-apocalyptic.

You also saw a lot of signs like this:

Photo by Julie Bookman

Photo by Julie Bookman

Farmers in the Central Valley have always depended on an extensive, expensive system of taxpayer-financed irrigation. Without it, their land would be almost useless for agriculture. And with the region facing the worst drought in recorded history, and probably the worst in at least several hundred years, they want every drop possible to be diverted to their property, regardless of competing demands on a very scarce resource.

I can understand the farmers’ desperation. In their drive for water, they’re also drilling wells that are a thousand feet deep or more, but as they drill deeper and pump more water, the deep aquifer is retreating. And as groundwater is pumped out, the land above it is subsiding at a rate of a foot a year in some places. What they’re doing is probably just not sustainable on the scale at which they’re doing it, and there’s nothing Congress can do to change that reality.

This year alone, the drought is estimated to have cost the California economy some $2 billion and 17,000 jobs, while driving up the price of food for just about everyone in the entire country. And so far there’s no sign of it easing.

What’s causing it? According to a new study funded by the National Science Foundation, the drought is very likely the consequence of manmade global climate change. The study found that a drought of such intensity is now three times more likely than it would have been in the absence of greenhouse gas emissions. However, it’s also important to note that experts at NOAA consider the question still open, citing two other studies of the drought that have failed to find a linkage to climate change.

That’s the nature of science. It doesn’t reach unanimity, or even consensus, without going through a lot of give and take. Egos get bruised, friendships get broken, but what matters in the end is that they get it right. It also helps to explain why the notion of a science-wide conspiracy or hoax surrounding climate change is so downright ludicrous.

In Australia, however, something different is going on. Five different research teams, operating independently and using distinct research methods, have reached the same identical conclusion: Australia’s record heat wave of 2013, which produced temperatures as high as 114 degrees in Sydney and brush fires and dust storms throughout the continent, “was virtually impossible without climate change.”

As the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

“Five teams of researchers  …. concluded that the record temperatures for the whole of that year would almost certainly not have occurred without man-made climate change, and that the chance of heatwaves occurring was more than 2,000 times greater because of human-caused climate change….

One set of models factored in natural variations in climate and human influences on climate, while another set showed what temperatures would have looked like without man-made climate change.

Out of 12,500 simulated years, only one result in the latter group produced temperatures higher than those seen in Australia in 2005 – the hottest year before 2013 – and none as hot as 2013.”

In assessing such studies, it’s important to note that even the Australian researchers use terms such as “almost certainly” and “virtually impossible” rather than outright impossible. That’s because In a complex system such as climate, it is outright impossible — rather than virtually impossible — to state the cause of anything with 100 percent certainty. So even if climate change and ocean levels behave exactly as climate models now predict over the next century, most scientists will still be loathe to state unequivocally that greenhouse gases were to blame. There will always be at least a tiny sliver of uncertainty.

The question is what you do with that uncertainty. You can use it as an excuse to do nothing, despite overwhelming evidence of trouble brewing on a global scale. Clearly, some are content to take that course. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart or responsible.

Reader Comments 0

359 comments
Lucifer12345
Lucifer12345

Hi Jay:  Next time you and Julie are in the Central Valley area you need to drop by in Sacramento and say hi.

BeeJay
BeeJay

When Al Gore and other mouthpieces of global warming, with such celebrities recently as Leonardo diCaprio, begin living a lifestyle that is concurrent with what they tell us to do, I will begin listening.  Until then, actions speak louder than words, and their actions totally refute their message.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Too funny. Lil SizeQueen from down below:

Kansas City is done and is the latest city to hate MLB's play-in game.



Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

The question is what you do with that uncertainty. You can use it as an excuse to do nothing

"Sounds good to us!"

--Virtually every GOPer you are aware of working in politics today

Gmare
Gmare

The photo is amazing. Kudos to Julie Bookman!

YouLibs
YouLibs

The site won't let me post it. It's huge.


Google scientific organizations that support the findings of the IPCC.

YouLibs
YouLibs

I'm not trying to be an ahole, but I think it's very important that people understand that nearly every recognized scientific organization in the world validates the findings of the IPCC. The two or three that don't are petroleum science organzations that understandably take a neutral position. In my next post, I am going to list all the scientific organizations that concur with the findings of the IPCC. It's a long list.

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@YouLibs


The IPCC is highly politicized. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, so to say, to recognize that. Furthermore, the majority of the scientists believe we are in a slight warming trend and that some of it "may" be due to man made activities. But the "alarmist" numbers of scientists who believe we are in a cataclysmic chicken little scenario is much smaller. 


Furthermore, when you have to use hype to make a point you lose a lot of credibility. Just look at Jay's article today and then look at the link to the San Jose Mercury news article. As it turns out this is not the worst drought in California history. There have been numerous droughts in that area going back to the 1800s. And longer term there were far more severe,longer term droughts going back to 850 and 1050 according to the tree ring data. To opine automatically that the drought today is caused by man made global warming given the historical record of many droughts over many centuries in Cali is preposterous. 

Traveling Man
Traveling Man

Flakes are out in force.  Where do they all come from.  All the lonely flakes, where do they all come from.

YouLibs
YouLibs

Because I think that people should know the true opinions of scientists that belong to professional organizations such as, say, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), or the National Academy of Science (NAS, established during Lincoln's presidency to create a pro bono panel of the country's brightest scientific minds to advise the government) I will be fair and post both sides of the argument.


I will start out listing all the world's scientific organizations that refute the findings of the IPCC:



There aren't any.

Traveling Man
Traveling Man


The worse thing about the CO2 buildup is not the warming of the earth but the increased acidity of the oceans

gotalife
gotalife

Lets not get this blog moderated too cons.


We know you have a loser problem.

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

Criberious in the form of Captain Obtuse has made it to Bookman's blog again. 


Guess it is slow going over at Wingfield's place.

Now that is funny.  


LOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@LeninTime @Captain-Obvious


I'm not opposed to the progs eschewing modern technology and going and living in communes like they did in the 60s. Worked out so well for the hippies that after a period of time they said to hell with that and rejoined the modern world. Maybe this time they'll stay. They can farm their own land, raise and eat their own crops, make their own butter, milk, and eggs, use wind power for the little bit of electricity they use, etc. 

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Obozo said it was unlikely two weeks ago. Well, it's not the unlikely, it has happened. It's here.

------------------

Libtards cower in fear after their Idiot Messiah gets it (surprise!) wrong.

YouLibs
YouLibs

Short-wave radiation from the Sun in the form of light passes readily through CO2 in our atmosphere. As that sunlight strikes the surface of the Earth, most of it is absorbed and converted into long-wave radiation (heat). That heat cannot readily escape because energy in such a long-wave form cannot pass back through the matrix of greenhouse gases, the most prevalent of which is CO2.


It's not that complicated, heat accumulates faster than it can be released, resulting in warming of the atmosphere. Burning millions of years' accumulation of petroleum in a little over two centuries is like mainlining methamphetamine. We need as a planet to go into recovery, but I don't see any outcome for our progeny that will not result in them hating us for our failure to act as a nation and planet to take responsibility for the problems we've caused.


I really hope I'm wrong.



(I'm not)

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@YouLibs


Not quite that simple. There is the matter of proving that the heat is not being released faster than its accumulating. Can you show where its been proven that this is happening and to what degree the heat is being trapped. I've seen the opinion that this may be what's happening, but no absolute proof. 

YouLibs
YouLibs

@LilBarryBailout @ThulsaDoom @YouLibs 

Would you like for me to post a list of the scientific organizations around the world that hold the findings of the IPCC to be scientifically valid? I would warn you that it takes up a lot of bandwidth, relatively speaking.


You take the word of petroleum industry funded think tanks over the findings of the extremely rigorous method known as science and the 97%+ of scientists who will not be bought out by those who offer then money. And then they turn it around and spin it to make it look like 97%+ of scientists are on the take?


And then you call us stupid?


Tsk, tsk.

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@YouLibs @LilBarryBailout @ThulsaDoom


Do you honestly think that a lot of scientists are going to go against the global warming mantra and willingly watch their funding dry up? And do you not realize the peer pressure that could be put on the ones that step out of line? Once you have scientific consensus you there's a lot of pressure to go along with the established line lest you expose yourself to professional ridicule. 


The entire scientific community has been wrong many times before. People like Galileo, Davinci, Jonas Salk, and many others have proved prevailing wisdom wrong. Last did you know that it was with near unanimity- 99% or better, that physicists believed that space and time were fixed. Some guy named Einstein came along with the theory of relativity and proved em all wrong. 

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@Midvale @YouLibs @LilBarryBailout @ThulsaDoom


So if anyone disagrees with your opinion then they are "unreasonable people". Take a look at today's post alone. We've posted data showing Cali has gone through numerous droughts not just in the past 200 years but throughout time, thus proving Jay wrong. And yet somehow, some way, you'll probably say that these people and their irrefutable data from are "unreasonable people". What a joke. 

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

TD You can be no more certain than the person holding the opposing view. That is certain.

What is so bad about reducing greenhouse emissions even if you don't believe mankind can effect the planet's climate?

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

WaPo: Lawmakers from both parties criticized [Secret Service head] Pierson and her agency for giving misleading and partial accounts of the security breach. The new information about the key role of an agent who happened to be in the building but was not part of the security team may raise further questions.

-------

She's part of the Obozo regime--were you expecting the truth?

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

Um. What was it that Jay and the progs were saying about "science". As it turns out California has had megadroughts far more severe and long before man ever started burning fossil fuels. 



"Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years -- compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years."


Stine, who has spent decades studying tree stumps in Mono Lake, Tenaya Lake, the Walker River and other parts of the Sierra Nevada, said that the past century has been among the wettest of the last 7,000 years.


The longest droughts of the 20th century, what Californians think of as severe, occurred from 1987 to 1992 and from 1928 to 1934. Both, Stine said, are minor compared to the ancient droughts of 850 to 1090 and 1140 to 1320.


http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_24993601/california-drought-past-dry-periods-have-lasted-more

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Kansas City is done and is the latest city to hate MLB's play-in game.

gotalife
gotalife

That ends our lesson for the day.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

No one likes being called a parasite.

Did you have a point?

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

goatlike apparently thinks I'm Asian-American.

He calls them parasites, leeches, and moochers.

gotalife
gotalife

Which group is the fastest growing demographic in America?

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Freeloaders!

Oh wait. Someone already said Dem's. Same thing.

Never mind...

gotalife
gotalife

Listen up scared children, aq did not kill you. Isis will not kill you. Ebola will not kill you. The only times you want our President to act is when you are scared to death by reading the drudgey fear card or watching fox news. You know what will kill you? Life and old age. So don't prove gramm right by being whiner crybabies and be grown ups.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@gotalife

I see a lot of whining and crying going on, but it ain't the Real Americans doing it.  It's you libtard Democrats.

Whining about a news aggregator web site.  Whining about people criticizing your Idiot Messiah.  Waaaa waaaa waaaa.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@gotalife

The less Obozo acts, the better off Our Nation will be.

Go play golf, klownboy.  Don't cower, your Secret Service will protect you.  The guys, anyway, maybe not the diversity hires.

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Climate change won't kill you. Why are you loons so skeered of that?

Hmmmmmm?

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@Mr_B @LilBarryBailout @Philo_Farnsworth


Its cyclical. In the aftermath of Katrina and a year where we had 14 hurricanes the big prog arguing point was that "climate change" was bringing more intense and dramatic storms. The next year we had 2 storms. 


Joe Bastardi has noted that this is cyclical and pointed out that the most destructive hurricanes as well as tornadoes happened many decades ago. He also predicted that hurricane activity would likely send several storms tailing all the way up the east coast- just like in the 1950s. And of course Hurricane Sandy hit NY New Jersey. 

Gmare
Gmare

Extreme weather can indeed kill you!!