Op-Ed: NOAA 2014 study — Humans definitely influencing climate

Sydney – A new study called “Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective” has definitely added some heat to the climate debate. This is going to be another highly controversial report. Pity of it is that nothing new will be said about it.

The study is actually the result of 32 groups of scientists researching 28 localized events. It’s a long list, continent by continent. Some might call it a study in thermodynamics in a closed system, others might call it a statement of the obvious.

It must be said that it’s interesting reading with some almost counter-intuitive stuff as well. Even the Table of Contents is worth reading. Antarctic sea ice formation offshore, for example, is the result of cold air going away from the continent, forming ice out to sea. It’s all basically thermodynamics, just on a gigantic scale.

The full download is a PDF on the AMS website, published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

There are 32 case studies. The first thing you’ll notice reading this report is a lot of number crunching and pretty stringent choice of expression. This isn’t a press release. It’s a study, and the citations, backups, comparative analyses, etc. are all pretty much according to the current norm of “spell everything out”.

Considerable effort has been put in to graphics, which for a nice change are useful and clear, showing comparative data and anomalies.

The other thing you’ll notice is a total lack of any claims to omniscience. There simply are no “pronouncements”, despite the media image of NOAA as some sort of shill for climate science. The overall impression I get is of someone calling a sports event as it happens. One part, the cold winter of 2013-14, is basically just saying what happened. The finding is that the risks of extremes are caused by mean temperatures but no clear long term trend because of the nature of the events.

“Sensationalism”, it ain’t. The overall impression is that the extreme weather events aren’t a great basis for prediction, but even the very careful long term predictions include the increasing likelihood of more extreme events.

One very hot topic, pun intended, is the jet stream’s “waviness”. The jet stream is a major dynamic, which has so far been credited with everything from the disastrous Russian fires of 2013 to the US ice storms. The theory here is that the jet streams, penetrating further south, cause extreme weather, and this is exacerbated by temperature rises.

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Not such major call. If heat rises, and heat transfers from hot to cold areas, what’s new? The real issue is creating a global perspective. Also bear in mind that “greenhouse” includes the full spectrum of cycles which underpin life on Earth, including:

1. The water cycle

2. The oxygen cycle

3. The nitrogen cycle

4. The carbon cycle.

If this goes on the fritz so does the world.

Discussion

The finding of human caused events causing changes, also, naturally, put a bomb under the “natural cycle” theory of climate change denial. Climate does change naturally, and has changed drastically, many times. That’s normal; but in many cases, it changes the world into a very different Earth.

Humans couldn’t have lived at all in some geological eras and climates. The climate and the environment were quite different. In the dinosaur ages, many familiar plants didn’t exist. Grasses, on which human economy has depended since the hunter gatherer days, didn’t exist, for example. Nor did flowering plants, until the Cretaceous.

In other eras, the equator was so hot even the dinosaurs couldn’t live there, albeit in a very different continental configuration. These days, the equator is the sweat band of the Earth, and the seas are comparatively hot.

The various cycles are directly impacted by climate and land use:

Oxygen cycle – Oxidization is a core process of life. CO2 eats up a lot of oxygen. There are currently anoxic (no oxygen) areas in many traditional fishing grounds. These fishing grounds are full of giant jellyfish, protected from predators by lack of oxygen. Lack of oxygen doesn’t help human metabolisms much, either.

Water cycle – The water cycle responds to temperatures. Deluges and droughts often coexist side by side. Some of the worst droughts we’ve ever had in Australia coincided with severe flooding.

Nitrogen cycle – The nitrogen cycle is a core element of plant growth. No plants = no food for just about everything. This cycle depends on water and oxygen at the micro and macro levels.

Carbon cycle – The movement of carbon through ecologies is critical to carbon-based life. Screw that up enough, and you get anomalies. In some cases, the greenhouse effect actually is acting like a greenhouse, promoting plant growth. That said – heat only supports growth to a point. After that, it consumes energy and affects plant health.

The fact is that the climate is changing, and not for the better. Humans contributing billions of tons of carbon per day obviously isn’t helping. The average car generates more toxins per mileage than an army of smokers over its product life.

The weird cocktails of chemical compounds are another imponderable factor. It’s halfwit alchemy on a global scale. Heat mixes chemicals and elements. The result, which includes virtually any mix of industrial materials, chemical byproducts and oxides, isn’t “safe for baby”. Particulate materials, the usual suspects for just about all pollution and respiratory issues, also conduct heat. So heat loss is slower, therefore temperatures remain higher than they would otherwise be. So an increase in temperatures is therefore hardly unexpected. If you know anything at all about thermodynamics, you won’t need a lot of help reading this report.

NOAA is simply calling a spade a spade. This is simply a series of studies of major events, all happening in one year. This is the fourth study since 2011, and of course, someone will simply say it’s not happening, or that any number of other causes are involved, from a mini-solar winter to natural change.

The fact is that if the climate changes, there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. The resources now being wasted so prolifically won’t be around to help manage the effects. Ironically, the most valuable resource of all, carbon, which can be used for far more valuable and more environmentally responsible purposes, is the one most wasted.

Poetic or karmic justice; the world doesn’t need humans, humans need it. When it comes to a choice between money and breathing, however, I’m sure some committee will find in favor of money. Nice knowing you, humanity – Well, not really. Do drop in again sometime.

This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com or andrewchernoff.wordpress.com

Source: Op-Ed: NOAA 2014 study — Humans definitely influencing climate

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