Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Not Just Hot Air Any Longer. Man Causes Floods.

How many times have you read something like, "It's consistent with climate change models," or "it's probably caused by climate change"?  It is the nature of scientists to be hesitant, nuanced, couched in their assessments and that includes the role that man-made global warming may be playing in severe weather events.   Climate change denialists have exploited that sliver of doubt to support the preposterous notion that "the science isn't in yet" or that there's considerable disagreement on whether the theory of global warming is true.   Well, those days are over.

Two studies have just been released.   A British team examined the massive floods that hit Britain in October and November, 2000.   A Canadian team, led by Francis Zweirs of the University of Victoria, examined the same impact of man on hydrological cycles but on a northern hemispheric scale.   Both studies, published in the journal Nature, concluded that, "there has been a 'substantial' increase in the intensity of heavy-precipitation events over large parts of the Northern Hemisphere due to greenhouse gas generated by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities."
The British team concluded that man-made greenhouse gases "doubled or more" the odds of severe weather events like the rains that caused the 2000 floods.

The reports, to the climate change denialists, should be very much like sunlight at high noon to a vampire.   They're wrong - wrong to a point of scientific certainty.  Anthropogenic global warming is real and it is having a very tangible, even devastating impact on life.

Bill, please.


LMA said...

These are very important studies that are being widely reported in the MSM, thank goodness. Nice to see Canadian scientists affiliated with Environment Canada doing solid climate science research. As I understand the methodology, only computer models which included the effects of GHG were able to predict extreme rain and snow events over 50 years. Pretty convincing stuff. I wonder what storms the summer has in store for us?

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi LMA. I think it's a safe bet that we're in for a new reality of storms of increasing severity and frequency. Some of this is the result of a number of causes. This year's mega La Nina is an example. But global warming is also a major contributor.

How could it be otherwise? A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour, itself a greenhouse gas. Measurements show atmospheric water vapour has increased significantly over the past three decades. The increased heat and moisture are fuel for more storms of greater severity. That's simple math.

What troubles me is what Jared Diamond calls "landscape amnesia." It's the process by which humans forget change, accepting the current situation as "normal" even when there as been radical change. Put a big box store in the middle of a pastoral valley. At first it's an eyesore but, before long, you don't even notice it. It has become the new normal.

When I was a teenager we had to work all summer to get a good tan. Now you can get microwaved in an afternoon. Our memory of the way the sun was in the 60's has been effectively erased.

This glaring memory flaw is a part of human nature that could come back to bite us.