Climate change science

“That’s interesting, George: No increase in the world’s temperature for 18 years, you say? Where did you get that information?”

Re: ‘Climate Change’ letter by Robin Browne (The NEWS, Sept. 18).

“That’s interesting, George: No increase in the world’s temperature for 18 years, you say? Where did you get that information?”

“A friend told me that the data from scientific organizations such as NASA and NOAA show just that. He also said that the number and severity of extreme climate events are below average, as well.”

“Well, George, I’ve done a little research of my own. Using actually measured — real — temperature data from NASA, NOAA, and the UK’s Met Office (HadCRUT3), the data shows the Earth really has warmed over that 18-year period, though not as much as in the previous 20 years. Not all the heat goes to the surface temperature, which is what your friend is talking about; most goes into the ocean.”

“Recently much of the heat has gone to melt Arctic ice and glaciers. Like ice cubes melting in a glass of water. The temperature does not rise but a large amount of heat is absorbed to melt the ice.”

“Still, nine of the warmest years in the past 130 years have occurred since 2002 with 2005 and 2010 being the warmest.”

“Also, George, extreme weather events are rare and random so it’s difficult to determine their long-term trends. Even so, recent studies in nature found evidence of strong linkages to climate change for specific heat waves or precipitation extremes and increases in the power of Atlantic hurricanes.

Perhaps the best indicator comes from the Insurance Bureau of Canada — record claims of $3.2 billion were paid in 2013, due to floods, hail and ice storms, a ten-fold increase from extreme weather losses just a decade ago.”

“Well I did wonder about that, what with news reports of fires in California and Australia and floods in India and the Philippines. It’s hard to know who to believe, isn’t it?”

“Not really, George — not if you look into the issue yourself and get your information from the scientists who study the changing climate rather than a friend or a blog.”

“But you’re a friend. You mean I shouldn’t believe you?”

“No, you shouldn’t, George! You should find out for yourself what the science tells us. You have faith in science every time you drive your car, get in a plane, turn on your TV or go to a doctor. Why suspend that faith at climate change?”

“Good point; it doesn’t make much sense, does it?”

“No it doesn’t, George. Especially when the stakes are so high.”

Neil Dawe

Parksville