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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Friday, March 05, 2010

    Reviewing the Blatantly Obvious: A Reminder that Global Warming is all about Scientific Data

    It astonishes me what idiots the right wing global warming deniers are. In essence they believe that Rush Limbaugh knows more about science than actual climate scientists do. That is the bottom line. The deniers believe that scientific data is not as important as the given word of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

    But Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are scientific illiterates and everything they say denying global warming is made up, either based on no facts whatsoever, or focusing on only isolated data points, ignoring most of the data out there. Science has to include ALL data, not just the data that supports your own faith-based beliefs.

    Once, when I was complaining about having to go over the same facts about evolution and global warming over and over again, someone on Daily Kos told me he agreed and put it like this: "It sucks to have to defend the blatantly obvious."

    It's like we have to continually review the facts that the earth is round or that the earth goes around the sun rather than the other way around. Science like evolution and climate change is based on the same kinds of scientific work and effort and thought as any science. Global warming denial is based on the same kind of blind refusal to face solid facts as shown by those who deny evolution, deny the earth is round or deny that the earth revolves around the sun.

    So let's review the facts. Data graphs are taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center and compiles the latest data from many sources.

    First there is the blatantly obvious fact that surface temperatures are indeed increasing. Anyone who has lived though the same time span I have know from personal experience that we have many more record warm years than ever before and that even average years are showing increased temperatures. This is best shown on this graph of SURFACE temperatures (the temperatures you and I actually experience):



    Note that the warming began around 1910 and has increased in rate of chance since 1980. All of this data comes from actual scientific measurements. If we want to look at it in a longer context, we have to rely on other kinds of data like isotope ratios from ice cores and the like. These kinds of proxy data have inherent uncertainties and errors, but can still be used to look at long-term trends. Here is the data from a longer time span making use of proxy data:



    Here you see that a slower rate of warming started around 1800 then really took off at an accelerating rate as coal and then oil exploitation went out of control. It also shows that the Medieval Warm period didn't really match the current warming. This is the fastest warming trend that humans have experienced based on the data.

    The fact that we are warming is undeniable to anyone who pays attention to the actual facts. All of this is discussed in more detail (with more detailed presentations of the data) including refutation of the global warming denial lie that global warming ended in 1998 can be found here. Let me also add that the deniers also claim that scientists used to claim we were entering another ice age. This is not true. That claim was based on the statement of ONE scientists in a non-peer reviewed journal based on the fact that normal natural fluctuations would indicate the potential of a cooling period. That cooling never occurred possibly because of human-caused global warming. But there never was a consensus or any peer-reviewed articles indicating that a new ice age was beginning. All the evidence and all published literature in the peer-reviewed journals supports the theory of anthropogenic global warming.

    Now what is causing it? There are several hypotheses that have been suggested, each with its own characteristics. Global warming due to increasing carbon dioxide would be predicted to have warming at the surface and in the troposphere, but a layer of cooling in the stratosphere. It took a long time for the data to be analyzed to everyone's satisfaction, but now it is clear that we are seeing exactly the signature of carbon dioxide caused global warming. Here's the data:



    This shows clear warming in the troposphere and at the surface, but cooling in the stratosphere. Deniers have tried using the stratospheric data in isolation as evidence of cooling, but they are being dishonest there. In the context of the surface and tropospheric data, we are seeing exactly what we would expect to see if human industrial activity released so much carbon dioxide that warming would be caused. The issue of stratospheric cooling vs. tropospheric warming and what it means can be found here with some of the back and forth debate included as it was being resolved.

    I am only touching on the key data found at the NOAA site. They also discuss loss of sea ice, rising sea levels, etc. but I only wanted to touch on the basics.

    The summary of this is global warming deniers have no more connection to real data than someone who claims the earth is flat. There is a great deal of data and a great deal of analysis of that data and it shows very clearly that human-caused global warming is in process.

    You can also read what NASA has to say about global warming here:
    http://www.nasa.gov/worldbook/global_warming_worldbook.html

    You can read a more lay person's level of information from the Union of Concerned Scientists here:
    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/

    Time for the deniers to get themselves educated and stop listening to scientific illiterates like Rush Limbaugh when it comes to scientific issues.

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