Australia’s test case for measuring climatological change.

Those who believe that humans cannot possibly affect the environment would do well to read about the stunning climatological differences caused by Australia’s rabbit proof fence. (They’d also do well to be aware of the Dust Bowl, with half a million homeless resulting from removing grasses from the Great Plains.) Republicans are going to kick themselves for their reliance on an image of humans as powerless weaklings — it’s just not the sort of framing that pays off in the long run.

11 thoughts on “Australia’s test case for measuring climatological change.”

  1. That thing about the bunny fence is pretty interesting. Also of note is the recent news that 1998 is no longer considered the warmest year on on record in the US. In fact, it’s not even the warmest in the last 75 years. This is b/c a Canadian fella found a flaw in NASA’s algorithm used to create the Hot 100 chart. It’s all way over my head, but the upshot is that now 1934 (was that the year the original Hummer came out?) is the warmest year on record for the US and many of the other hot top 10 or so hottest years that purportedly occurred in the last decade and a half have been revised downward in the rankings as well.

    Now that the data from NASA of all places has been demonstrated to be unreliable, I wonder if Al Gore and his coterie of Hollywood doom-and-gloomers will ease up a bit in their campaign to stifle debate about “global warming.”

    For those interested, the new top 10 hottest years for the US are: 1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939

    A write-up of the technical aspects is here:
    http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2007/08/official-us-cli.html

  2. Of course humans affect the environment. Even the staunchest critics of the current “Climate Crisis!” mumbo-jumbo know that we affect the environment. We alter it daily for chrissakes.

    It’s quite a leap, though, to go from the bunny fence rain-altering effect to melting ice caps and phantom increases in hurricanes (which hasn’t happened, yet this so-called “fact” still gets tossed around by Al Gore groupies.)

  3. Republicans are going to kick themselves for their reliance on an image of humans as powerless weaklings…

    Heheh. Clever.

  4. There is a huge difference between local weather events (or even local climate) and global climate change.

    Those rascally Republicans (let’s just say we call them “traditionalists” since I think the only reason we talk about Republicans vs. Democrats on this issue is because Democrats have made it a political issue rather than a scientific one) don’t seem to frame the issue as ‘we don’t have any impact on the environment’. The traditionalists only seem to put forth the notion that Democrats are drastically overstating the case of human impact on the *global environment* to advance a political agenda.

  5. For those interested, the new top 10 hottest years for the US are: 1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939

    That’s actually really interesting. Look at that pair of clusters: the 30s (1931, 1934, 1938 and 1939), followed by the last couple of decades (1990, 1998, 1999, 2006)? Eighty percent of the list of the hottest years in the United States falls into those two bunches. Evidence that climate change isn’t man-made? I suspect not. As I pointed out in my original post, the ’30s were when the man-made Dust Bowl left an enormous chunk of the country barren.

    That looks to me like excellent evidence that man can dramatically alter the climate.

    It’s quite a leap, though, to go from the bunny fence rain-altering effect to melting ice caps

    If you think that through, I’m not sure you’d agree. Remember the logic employed by many opponents of evolution: yes, there’s such a thing as microevolution, but that could never add up to macroevolution. They’ll concede that small changes can take place over the course of a few decades. But, without any logic, they’ll argue that those small changes wouldn’t turn into big ones over the course of millions of years.

    If we can affect the environment in a small way over a few days (look at the dramatic effect that eliminating contrails had during the three days after September 11th), why can’t we affect it in a big way over a century and a half?

  6. If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that unsound agricultural practices in the US during the 20s and 30s led to a temperature spike in the 30s just as too much CO2 in the atmosphere has led to another spike recently. Could be. However, at least as plausible is that temperature variances are cyclical for reasons we don’t yet understand. Wouldn’t it be better to try to figure it out before we reorder the economy and spend trillions of dollars without really knowing what the hell we’re doing?

  7. hmmmm, now 1998′s mean temperature anomaly has now been corrected to 1.23C where 1934′s is now 1.25C. Wow stop the presses!

    The difference used to be 1.24 vs 1.23.

    But more importantly here are the trends in US mean temperature–readjusted, mind you.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.D_lrg.gif

    Notice how the warming trend is very strong (if you could still get the old graph you actually could not tell the difference), not to mention much, much warmer winters.

    And then there is the mean global temperature:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2_lrg.gif

    In the global mean 2005 remains the warmest

    This has not at all altered how scientists look at this issue. Only political hacks. All this and the picture is exactly the same.

  8. We know through modern spectral analysis how different concentrations of C02 in the atmosphere behave when radiated. We know what the C02 concentrations in our atmosphere used to be, we know what they are now, we have pretty damn good idea what they will be. And on top of that we can molecular finger print the CO2 in the atmosphere and tell exactly where it came from: animal, coal plant, what have you.

    And when we are looking at a potential impact of moderate scenario global warming damping world GDP by a whopping 10-15%, I think I’ll take the latter trillions of dollars.

    I mean we are on track to spend a measly trillion dollars on the Iraq war . . . why not?

    I mean after all we are on track to spend a measly 1 trillion on the Iraq war, why not right?

  9. Wouldn’t it be better to try to figure it out before we reorder the economy and spend trillions of dollars without really knowing what the hell we’re doing?

    Let’s apply Pascal’s Wager to global climate change.

    First, a quick look at Pascal’s Wager:

    You live as though God exists.

    • If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
    • If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

    You live as though God does not exist.

    • If God exists, you go to hell: your loss is infinite.
    • If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

    Now, with regard to global climate change, taking the same extreme positions:

    We behave as if global climate change is very real.

    • If global climate change is real, the human race survives without significant loss of mankind.
    • If global climate change is not real, there’s a global economic depression lasting many years.

    We behave as though global climate change is not real.

    • If global climate change is real, most of mankind is wiped out.
    • If global climate change is not real, we’ve lost nothing.

    If we assume that global climate change is not real, we effectively abdicate our future to chance: either nothing will happen or there will be enormous loss of life, but we won’t have any role in choosing that destiny. But if we behave as if it is real, then we get to have a hand in the outcome. Either we will have a global depression or we’ll save mankind. The great thing about behaving as if it’s real is that the worst case scenario is infinitely better than the worse case scenario when assuming that global climate change isn’t real.

    Of course, all of that ignores many of the practical results of taking steps to reduce global climate change. It’s better for businesses (as Wal-Mart has found), it’s better for our collective well-being, (pollution is inherently bad, regardless of its effect on climate), and reducing our wasteful inputs and output is a better use of our limited geographic resources.

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