National Geographic News
In this Feb. 6, 2011 photo made available Feb. 8, and provided by the Fire & Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia, Gosnell firefighters battles a wildfire at the rear of a house in the Perth, Australia, suburb of Roleystone. Police said at least 68 homes were lost in the blaze, believed to have been started by sparks from an angle grinder. (AP Photo/FESA, Evan Collis) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

A firefighter battles a wildfire in Perth, Australia. At least 68 homes were lost in the 2011 blaze.

Evan Collis

Matt Siegel

for National Geographic News

Published May 24, 2013

In early 2012 once-in-a-century floods submerged swaths of Great Britain and Ireland, causing some $1.52 billion in damages. Then in June record-high temperatures in Russia sparked wildfires that consumed 74 million acres of pristine Siberian taiga. Months after that, Hurricane Sandy pummeled seven countries, killing hundreds and running up an estimated $75 billion in damages. Just this week, a tornado of virtually unheard of size and ferocity tore through a small city in Oklahoma, leaving 24 people dead.

Each of these one-off traumas was bad enough, wreaking havoc, but in Australia such events seem to be becoming commonplace.

The Lucky Country has experienced a major spike in extreme weather in the past few years, with a string of devastating incidents just since January.

That has people wondering if the island continent is somehow a perfect bellwether for the Earth's changing climate. So scientists are bearing down on the problem with intensity, investigating Australia's increasingly violent weather patterns and trying to figure out what they might portend for the rest of the world as our climate changes.

So Hot Even the Summer Got Angry

The rough-hewn sandstone buildings perched atop Observatory Hill have been keeping an eye on Sydney Harbor since 1858. They've pretty much seen it all—from the installation of the city's first gaslights to the construction of the now iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

But at 2:55 p.m. on January 18, 2013, meteorological equipment in the observatory registered something new: a read-out marking the hottest day in the city's history: 45.8°C (114.4°F).

Much of the continent was languishing in the grip of a heat wave that would break 123 heat and flood-related records in 90 days—among them, the hottest summer on record and the hottest seven consecutive days ever recorded.

At the time these statistical dramas, and their possible significance, paled against the imperative of not self-combusting on your walk from office to car.

At the Pink Roadhouse in the outback town of Oodnadatta—whose locals are legendary for the stoicism with which they have long dealt with living in Australia's hottest town—temperatures pushed so high that gasoline vaporized before it even made it into the fuel tank.

 

Fire on road.
A wildfire crosses an Australian highway.

Photograph by James Morris, AP Photo

 

"The ground, the building, everything is so hot, you walk outside and you feel it's going to burn you," Lynnie Plate, the exhausted owner of the establishment, told a reporter at the time.

The national record of 50.7°C (123.2°F) set in Oodnadatta in January 1960 stayed intact, just barely.

Australians love their summer heat. They take particular joy in mocking British tourists for the magenta hue they often acquire after even a mild day at the beach.

Because winter and summer temperature variations aren't all that great in much of Australia, Aussies, unlike the Brits, are habitually accustomed to heat that might melt lesser mortals.

But when 8 of the 21 days in the last 102 years on which Australia averaged a high of more than 39°C (102°F) happened to occur in 2013, people weren't charmed.

The anomaly stood out. Numbers like those break through what climate scientists like David Jones, manager of climate monitoring prediction at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, call the "signal to noise" ratio.

"One of the first places on the planet where the global warming signal is easy to discern is actually Australia, because of this low temperature variability," Jones said. "And that's exactly what we're seeing. The Australian warming trend is very clearly apparent in our records. It pops out quite quickly from the background noise of weather patterns."

But just what does that breaking through the noise tell us? Apparently, it says not to expect things to calm down any time soon.

A Continent-Size Canary?

On January 26, before the heat wave was even over, the second round of devastating flooding since 2011 was battering Queensland.

The remnants of Tropical Cyclone Oswald lashed the country's east coast, killing six people and costing about $2.5 billion in damages. Military helicopters were sent into the city of Bundaberg to evacuate stranded residents as the streets churned with water, debris, and sewage.

 

Wallaby.
A wallaby stands on a hay bail, trapped by rising flood waters in Queesland.

Photograph by Anthony Skerman, AP Photo

 

It could have been worse—in 2011 similar floods killed more than 30 people and chalked up a $2.4 billion tab.

Tropical cyclones have always been a reality of life here, but the sheer intensity of these storms shocked the country.

Once upon a time, once-in-a-century flooding meant just that, but these days the term seems to be shorthand for a really bad flood.

Higher ocean surface temperatures caused by the spiraling heat results in more evaporation. And an atmosphere loaded with water vapor means more and heavier rain.

Climate scientists have long been reluctant to link individual extreme weather events to climate change—something that's impossible to do with any scientific rigor.

They've also been loath to speak in the aggregate about a connection. That reluctance, however, is starting to disappear.

In early March the Australian government's climate change watchdog, the Climate Commission, released a bombshell of a report called "The Angry Summer."

The report explicitly connects Australia's recent spate of weather to climate change.

Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University Climate Change Institute and the report's author, reckoned that there was a one-in-five-hundred chance that natural variation had caused the recent extreme events.

Although Steffen still isn't willing to say that individual weather occurrences are the result of climate change, he suggests that collectively they do demonstrate a rapidly changing climate.

He believes Australia is a unique environment in which to watch the change because it is already such a naturally extreme place.

"We have such a range of different types of extreme events and climatic patterns that affect people," Steffen said. "Examples being obviously sea-level rise, because we're a coastal country; high-temperature events; bush fires; droughts and floods all at the same time.

"So you've got the basket of the worst types of extreme weather events all being fairly prominent in Australia."

The blistering 2013 heat wave started out in the parched, largely empty, red center of the continent and spread to the east coast.

Roughly 80 percent of Australians live within 30 miles of the coast, which means that all its major population centers are susceptible to sea-level rise, powerful storms, and flooding.

 

Surfer.
A man rescues a friend’s surfboard from a flooded home in Newmarket, a suburb of Brisbane.

Photograph by Patrick Hamilton, AFP Photo

 

If the death tolls we've already seen from the 2011 and 2013 floods are any indication of things to come, there will be no shortage of suffering as sea levels creep ever higher and megastorms batter the populated coastlines.

"We seem to be on the firing line for a lot of this stuff," Steffen said. "I think in terms of what actually matters for people and infrastructure, we could be the canary in the coal mine."

This is the main reason so much scientific brainpower in research institutes across Australia is being directed at studying weather and climate there, with massive funding support from the federal government.

The Future Could Be Grim

If Australia's average temperatures rise by 0.6 to 1.5°C by 2030, and then by 1.0 to 
5.0°C by 2070, as predicted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), extreme weather events may become the norm.

To Steffen, the lineup reads like a shopping list for an Australian apocalypse: blistering heat waves spanning the entire continent, less rainfall and more droughts in the south and southwest, uncertain rainfall in the north, less snow, many more fires, more storms with heavy rainfall, and more frequent and intense cyclones.

"The one-in-a-hundred-year flooding event is going to happen every year, or even a bit more often," Steffen said.

Soon after issuing its "Angry Summer" report, the Climate Commission issued a follow-up document: "The Critical Decade: Extreme Weather."

In the next ten years, it warns, Australians should expect more heat, bush fires, rainfall, droughts, and sea-level rise.

It's hard to think of another country on Earth that has to deal with such a range of extreme weather events.

Even the United States, the place that scientists say is most comparable to Australia, has the twin saving graces of having neither a vast interior desert to trap heat nor ocean waters all around it to intensify the impact of rising seas and superpowered storms on population centers.

Unfortunately for Australians, the Climate Commission fully expects to have a decade of extreme weather events to study on their behalf. "Stabilizing the climate," the commissioners wrote, "is like turning around a battleship—it cannot be done immediately given its momentum.

"When danger is ahead you must start turning the wheel now. Any delay means that it is more and more difficult to avert the future danger."

48 comments
Brian M.
Brian M.

Ever read "The Gods Themselves" by Isaac Asimov?

Familiar story line.

Brian M.
Brian M.

Everyone today should read Isaac Asimov's book "The Gods Themselves"

Story line will sound very familiar. But unlike that book, I believe the villain is ourself and there will be no neat technological quick fix to our "little problem" of climate change.

Peter C
Peter C


I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

Arthur Millhouse
Arthur Millhouse

Something that would greatly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere tremendously in a very short time and would actually save people money doing it.

Start a drive for business to shut off advertising signs when the business is closed. Think about all the signs in New York, L.A., Dallas, etc. etc. think about it.

Am I the only one in the country to see or suggest this?

Guy Holder
Guy Holder

Don't get your panties in a bunch.

The MET Office confirms there has been no significant warming for 16 years. Phil Jones admitted a couple of years ago that there has been no significant warming in a decade. James Hansen just admitted no significant warming in the last 10 years. Pachauri just acknowledged a 17 year pause in warming.

With 2/3 of our CO2 emissions coming in the last 35 years but no significant warming in the last 16, it's increasingly clear to us flat-earthers that our CO2 emissions are not the primary driver of climate or even particularly significant.

As recent studies confirm the climate is not as sensitive to our CO2 emissions as previously thought, climate scientists become more shrill in their alarmism - equating every vagary of the weather with impending doom.

It should be very difficult for even die-hard adherents of CAGW to continue to accept this charade without some skepticism.

Habitat destruction has been, continues to be and will always be the greatest threat to our environment.

We are living in a warmer world. A world that is 8/10ths of 1 degree Celsius warmer than it was 150 years ago at the end of the LIA. A world that is 5/100ths of 1 degree Celsius warmer than it was in 1997.

The emperor isn't wearing any clothes but the climate does change and we would be wise to adapt. In an ever more crowded world, small changes in the weather or climate are bound to be increasingly impactful.

Paul M.
Paul M.

To end the debate instantly all science has to do is say their catastrophic climate crisis is "inevitable" not just "possible" and "could be" and........
How close to the point of no return from complete unstoppable warming of the planet will science take us before they say their catastrophic climate crisis is as real as they like to say comet hits are? A catastrophic climate crisis IS a comet hit of an emergency and 28 years of science only saying "maybe" a crisis proves it "won't be" a crisis.

Bob Burnitt
Bob Burnitt

Well, I can tell you for sure, you can call it whatever you want, the weather where *I* live has changed.  We have near record lows followed by near record highs all the time.  It does NOT rain in the Spring here any more.  We have LONG been acustomed to not getting rain in the summer, and the soil where I live, it varies from one area to another, but the soil where I am will STORE moisture for a good while, enough to sustain certain grasses through the summer.  But we no longer get adequate rainfall in the Spring to ride out the summer.  So, it is becoming a desert here.  Or it WILL if this continues, and I believe it WILL  Certainly a Marginal Desert..

You cannot have Infinite Growth of the Human Population in a Finite World.  It just won't work I don't CARE wha the "religions" and the economic "gurus" say about it.  It won't work, and the FAILURE has begun, get used to it, more is on the way.  Bob Burnitt Ellis County Texas

jim adams
jim adams

As goes Australia, so goes the United States. last summer Australia was hotter than it was the summer before -- fires all over the place and some unexpected oddities which may make great photos, but i wouldn't like to meet them at 60+ mph. And last summer, Australia invented some new colors for it's heat map. -- to cover the uncharted territories of 110 -129 degrees F.

They report that their fancy asphalt highways are melting, and their railroads? Check this out:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/4360255/Heatwave-in-Melbourne-plays-havoc-with-the-Australian-Open.html

Will we get the same when July-August summer heat reaches us?

So HEY, REPUBLICAN CONGRESS .. those hottest states in the US are Red states. Are you ready to swing into action and help those Republican governors? Or are you going to do what Republican Governors did to Christy of NJ after Sandy .. told him to tell his people that they were on their own. Either they make it happen or it doesn't. Are you prepared to do this to those Red states in the Great Plains area too?

If not, now is the time to tell them that disasters or no, the Republican Congress will stick to the plan of not allocating money to states. That will at least give them a little prep time. 

In the US, railroads and highways connect California agriculture products (and many other products too) with the eastern US (and vice versa, too). Many of those shipments go across the same kind of hot dry areas which created this kinked rail photo. (kinked = a highly technical railroad term exemplified by the photo). 

No trains  travel on kinked rails until the rails are replaced. Just like no trucks or cars travel on melted asphalt highways or buckled cement highways.  

 You say: The United States "has the twin saving graces of having neither a vast interior desert to trap heat nor ocean waters all around it to intensify the impact of rising seas and superpowered storms on population centers".  It seems to me from looking at last summers heat maps of the great plains  that we will soon have an interior desert. A large part of the reason is we have cleared vegetation for agriculture, we have emptied a large portion of the great plains aquifers, and with glaciers disappearing, we don't have much in the way of river water there anymore. 

On the coasts, we find most of our largest cities. Hurricane Sandy and Katrina  are harbingers of our coastal future. With a warming ocean (increased CO2 absorbed by the oceans), there is more water  vapor in the air creating a  greater storm mass which gets boosted to higher speeds -- and with greater mass to the storm, it has a greater Oomph when it hits, creating greater damage (oops -- sorry about that highly technical term "Oomph". It's the best descriptor i could think of in the moment)

The future we are living into ain't purty or nice or easy. The most unfortunate part  of all this is that the Republicans chose 2000 - 2008 to spend down the Clinton Surplus and increase the US debt from $5.4 trillion to $11.6 trillion, all so they could privatize things like social security, public education, national parks, forests, mines, and a long list of other government functions. Basically, because of their actions, the US is close to broke. Republicans want us to work on problems like these on a state by state basis -- or not, according to their Republican governors.

And now we are facing problems which are much greater that New Jersey or New Orleans being hit with superstorms. Greater than losing the fisheries in the Gulf because of an oil company disaster, and agricultural run-off creating a New Jersey sized dead zone in the Gulf. Greater than the North American Continent.

This is world wide. ALL the oceans are warming and are now too acidic to support coral, shellfish and all the other species with calcium carbonate shells, skeletons and substrates. CO2 is at 400 ppm and probably can't be controlled before 600 ppm even if we give it all we've got, starting right now. Global (GLOBAL) warming is here to stay a while, maybe longer.

And we're broke, and being made into a highly disorganized 3rd World Nation by Republicans. Now what?

So while Obama may be president, and Dems have 3/4 of the Congress, Republicans are winning the financial battle being waged with our future.


I really, really don't like the Republican sneer of "Enjoy the Ride", which is their current solution. I feel we are riding a rowboat down a river in time, with our face to our past and our backs to our future ---- and a few years ago we have passed a huge sign saying "POINT OF NO RETURN". As a planet, we're either ignoring it or arguing that it is false. Once the Niagara River turns vertical, there isn't much left to be said .....

 

Lelania Orr
Lelania Orr

This is so scary and daunting!  I am so worried for Australians and the rest of us.

I wonder if the flood water could be channeled to the interior of the Australian continent, would that not create some balance and lower the incredible heat of the interior desert?  Sort of a terra-forming thing.  Is that too science-fiction?  I feel good about the idea.

My heart and hopes are with the amazing minds working on this and with the people whom must live with this.

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

It is only a matter of time before the deniers show up, spewing their lies. They'll claim that temperatures haven't risen in years (a lie), that humans aren't the cause (another lie), that they know more about science than the scientists, that it's all part of a plot to take over the world (guess), etc, etc. They seldom provide any evidence to support their claims, and when they do, it's usually falsified. 

As always, I will refute their lies with logic and evidence, and they'll close their eyes, put their fingers in their ears, and keep mindlessly repeating the talking points that they picked up on their denier blogs. 

Peter C
Peter C

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Roger Bird Mr. Bird, cold fusion would be fabulous if we could indeed get it working, but the page to which you link provides no reliable evidence that the device described successfully generates energy. I very much hope that someday we can get fusion energy working, but cold fusion suffers from some fundamental theoretical objections. If they really can make it happen, then I'm sure that they'll get the Nobel Prize and more wealth than Bill Gates can imagine. But I very much doubt that this will happen.

Zen Galacticore
Zen Galacticore

@Arthur Millhouse Don't forget all the high-rise office towers in our major cities that leave 1/3 to 2/3's of the lights on, all night long, with hardly a soul in the buildings. Why do they do that?

John C.
John C.

The major producers of CO2 are China and India, where millions of their people are trying to pull themselves out of subsistence living into the middle class. They could care less about billboards in L.A. or the polar bear population 75 years from now.

Jay Bird
Jay Bird

@Arthur Millhouse A person could spend a lot of energy trying to single out particular violators, but the problem is that our economic culture is whackadoodle.  We need to apply our knowledge of how life functions to how we live.

David Baron
David Baron

@Guy Holder So provide all the readers your peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support your position.  You don't have any, isn't that right mate?  

You got it right about being a flat-earther.  Just because the oil companies paid you to say the Earth is flat doesn't make it so.  Same with them paying you to make specious arguments denying climate change.

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Guy Holder In the first place, the Met office did NOT confirm that "there has been no significant warming for 16 years" as you claim. That was the statement made by a reporter, to which the Met office issued a formal denial.

More important, it is ATMOSPHERIC temperatures that have been stable -- oceanic temperatures continue to rise, and since the ocean holds 99.9% of the earth's surface heat, worrying about air temperatures as a measure of surface heat is like using the price of guacamole to to measure inflation.

You write "With 2/3 of our CO2 emissions coming in the last 35 years but no significant warming in the last 16" to insinuate that the greenhouse effect is not in operation. If you use your credit card to buy something today, and you don't have to immediately pay the credit card charge, does that mean you got it for free? Of course not -- you'll have to pay within a month. The connection between cause and effect need not be instantaneous for it to be real. All that extra heat we're building up from CO2 effects is going into the deep ocean. At some point, the thermal disequilibrium will be reduced enough for the air to resume its upward march. What will you say when that happens? "Oops, I was wrong, never mind."? I doubt that. You'll concoct some other fake story.

You write, "As recent studies confirm the climate is not as sensitive to our CO2 emissions as previously thought" Look, do you believe the stories, or don't you? If you do believe them, then you believe that climate sensitivity is around 2.5 instead of 3.0. If climate sensitivity is around 2.5, then climate change is real and serious. So, do you believe the studies or don't you?

The problem isn't that the climate has changed by 0.8 ºC. The problem is that the climate is likely to change by 2.0 ºC more over the next hundred years. THAT'S a problem. 

Lastly, a simple question: do you know enough about climatology to understand, say, IPCC AR4 WG1? 

Zen Galacticore
Zen Galacticore

@Paul M. Some scientists are saying that not only is the warming inevitable, but that we've already passed the point of no return. The article used the analogy of turning around a battleship. A more accurate analogy, IMO, would be stopping an oil tanker.

Inertia.  Those giant oil tankers cut their engines something like 200 miles at sea from their destination port, as it takes that long of a distance to stop the behemoths.

I've written about this many times, trying to convince the deniers, that the MSM and many scientists now call it, "Climate Change" instead of, "Global Warming" because they are trying to avoid panic! What we're really witnessing is the beginnings of a Runaway Greenhouse Effect.

David Baron
David Baron

@Paul M.So provide all the readers your peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support your position.  You don't have any, isn't that right mate?

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Paul M. Hey, hey, hey, it's Paul M, aka Paul Merrifield, aka David Nutzuki, aka Al Bore, aka mememine, aka mememine69, and others! This fellow prowls the web planting is scent on any story that mentions climate change. He never defends his falsehoods; indeed, he never comes back to the same page. He just sprays the ground and moves on.

Zen Galacticore
Zen Galacticore

@Bob Burnitt I think that, generally, the human race is in a deep psychosis of denial about our ridiculously over-the-top 7 Billion+ population, and the myriad of problems resulting from those bloated numbers.

It's highly likely that Malthus and Ehrlich were wrong only in their timelines, not in their basic formulas and predictions of the consequences of over population.

Bob Burnitt
Bob Burnitt

They can only HOPE that technology will save them from the DISASTER that technology has CREATED.  Industrial Agriculture has allowed the human population to have an EXPLOSION that would be impossible to dream of 150 years ago.  But Industrial Agriculture is not sustainable and when it dies it will all hit the fan.  So, Thomas Malthus was and still IS CORRECT.  He nailed it on the NOSE.  Bob Burnitt Ellis County Texas

Bob Burnitt
Bob Burnitt

Yeah, the weather has changed, and they just cannot bear to face it, that is what I call DELUSUION.  These are the same people that beleive in Keynesian Economics, they think they can print papaer and make it as "good as gold", that is a delusion as well.  The people that think you can grow the human population forever are in denial TOO.  Population growth has gone VERTICAL so THAT is going to hit the fan VERY soon.  Glad I do not have children.  You know, these DELUSIONAL people that RUN the Show, boy when the starving hordes trackk them down, it ain't gonna be pretty.  Bob Burnitt Ellis County Texas

John C.
John C.

Cleaning and maintenance crews.

Arthur Millhouse
Arthur Millhouse

@John C.

I suppose this is too simple to garner support. I have driven through Houston at 3:00 or 4:00 and noticed thousands of advertising signs on when the store is closed. Everything from mattress stores to hobby shops to, you name it.

Security lights may be necessary but turning off the advertising signs when the business is closed would save the business money. If millions of business owners would just turn off their advertisement signs a few hours at night it could reduce the amount of natural gas and other fuels used to generate this electricity by a huge amount along with the carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere.

Who knows, the price of natural gas could go down for all of us.

Instead of blowing this off and talking about China and India, we should start simple with something right under our noses. One step at a time. Whether or not a person believes we are causing climate change, who doesn’t want to reduce waste and save money?

I wish National Geographic would do something on this.

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@John C. A small proviso to your comment: while China does produce more CO2 nationally than the USA, on a per capita basis Americans emit more CO2. The only reason that China releases more total CO2 is that they have many more people. By any standard of fairness, I would expect per capita emissions to be more significant than national emissions. 

Guy Holder
Guy Holder

Hi Chris.

The MET office does not dispute their own data which shows there has been no significant warming for the last 16 years.

They state specifically, "The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual."

 Climate scientists have been suggesting some period without warming is to be expected for a decade now - always adding some years every time this period was reached.

Yes, maybe the heat is hiding in the ocean but there is considerable debate about the mechanisms that permit a warming at greater depths but not nearer the surface. Funny also how sometimes the atmosphere has warmed but at other times the ocean takes the heat.

Of course other studies suggest emissions from China and India have kept us cool. More recently a study suggested volcanic activity is responsible for the lack of warming. 

At this point warming consistent with what we have experienced over the last 100 years is the most likely scenario - so maybe another .8C, not a problem for me or your grandchildren.

 What will be a problem are the 4 billion people we will add to the world. Will our environment survive this onslaught.

jim adams
jim adams

@Chris Crawfordthanks Chris, and well said.  

You said "The problem isn't that the climate has changed by 0.8 ºC. The problem is that the climate is likely to change by 2.0 ºC more over the next hundred years. THAT'S a problem. "

I agree .. and for Guy Holder, our job is to do something about it, to slow down that process, if we can.  

Humans have never before taken on a project of this size or complexity. That scale is pretty dam scary. The only thing scarier is if we fail.

Do you want to see how far we've come in the last 400 years? If so, check out a book by Steve Nicholls, Paradise Found, He uses writings of ships captains, merchants, business people, travelers, hunters and trappers, etc to describe  their view of the New World ecosystems. 

It's history as written by the people who came here and lived here. And, it's a book of tears -- mine -- as i read how we got from Paradise Found 400 years ago to oceans so rich in CO2 they are turning to carbonic acid and coral and all other shell animals will soon be endangered species


William Spiritdancer
William Spiritdancer

@Hazel Gillett @jim adams I'm sorry but you are truly stupid.  The world is DYING and all your racist butt cares about is that the president is a BLACK guy! Ignorant as they come.



Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Arthur Millhouse @John C. Mr. Millhouse, the simplest way to achieve what you suggest is to raise the price of energy. This can be done with what is called a Pigovian tax, or by simply waiting for world demand to push the price up. The advantage of the Pigovian tax is that it anticipates the inevitable rise in energy prices and provides a more reliable price signal to the consumer. It is especially useful if it is adjustable so that it can be reduced to absorb price spikes. And of course, it would have to be offset with tax reductions elsewhere.

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Eliot Walter @Chris Crawford I did not include any of the elements you mention other than famine, yet the new version of the game has something like a hundred factors and most testers agreed that it's awfully complicated. It would have been easy to make it more complicated; simplifying it as much as I did was the hard part.

Eliot Walter
Eliot Walter

@Chris Crawford is a influential video game designer/coder, how does this qualify him to write about climate? Well, he's trained in physics and program design - what is climate but a large system and if the physics is understood and you have enough data , one could make a virtual model of it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Crawford_(game_designer)  Perhaps the new climate game should be called"Balance of the Planet" How would things like, disease, famine, war, social media, greed , will to survive, and so forth factor in? All the changes to the  biosphere included would make that a difficult game to design.  I will find out more about this and stop commenting here. 

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Eliot Walter @Chris Crawford Yes, I wrote "Balance of the Planet". And I have already built a new and far superior version. I tried to get funding for it and failed. It is fully operational, tested and ready to go out the door but nobody wants it. I am having a friend set it up for delivery directly over the web, at which time I intend to post it on my website and keep it up there so long as traffic isn't too heavy. I've tried to interest a number of environmental organizations in hosting it on their websites, but they aren't interested.

Eliot Walter
Eliot Walter

@Chris Crawford  Slightly off topic, but are the coder for the "Balance of the Planet" game? If so are there plans to make a more polished version?  Also thank you for posting here and elsewhere to keep bad info in check.

John C.
John C.

As they move out subsistence living toward the middle class and higher their per capita energy consumption will increase which, by force of numbers, will result in aggregate national energy consumption and CO2 production vastly greater than the U.S.

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Guy Holder You know, when you make stupid assumptions about other people, you end up looking -- well, pretty stupid. My first exposure to the greenhouse effect was in 1970, in my sophomore physics course. In 1974 I got a deeper analysis of it in my Planetary Atmospheres course in grad school. I wrote my first computer simulation of terrestrial surface temperatures at that time. I learned more of the details when I underwent training for an educational program on energy issues. In 1989, I researched the topic in greater detail for my computer simulation game Balance of the Planet, and of course wrote a more detailed simulation of climate change in that program. Since then I have followed the topic closely, reading the IPCC reports as well as numerous scientific papers. 

So, what has been your study program on the science?

You write: "The fact is climate scientists did not forecast a 17 year "pause" in warming"

There has been no pause in the steady increase in earth's surface heat, as I explained to you yesterday. Since you did not grasp the point then, I shall explain it again, this time in greater detail:

The greenhouse effect from increased amounts of CO2 has not been altered; it continues unabated. However, oceans cover 70% of the earth's surface, so they receive 70% of the insolation. That additional heat on the ocean surface creates a temperature gradient: the surface is warmer than the deeper waters. A variety of processes can mix the warmer water with the cooler water; these are called 'convective processes'. These processes are variable in magnitude; they wax and wane over time and depending upon circumstances.

One of the most important convective processes is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which produces the El Nino and La Nina situations. Interestingly, the PDO has been stuck in a La Nina configuration for quite some time now. The La Nina configuration appears to be associated with enhanced deep convection, which means that a lot of the additional surface heat is going downwards into the deep ocean, a point that has been confirmed by recent observations. 

Of course, if that additional heat goes into the deep ocean, then it does not go into the atmosphere. This means that atmospheric temperatures no longer rise, which gives ignorant people an opportunity to claim that the greenhouse effect has stopped operating. 

By the way, none of this explanation is cut and pasted from other sites; I composed it myself. 

I conclude by repeating my question above:

What has been your study program on climatology?

You haven't answered any of my other questions, and I very much doubt that you will admit your ignorance here, so I'm expecting that you'll scuttle off with your tail between your legs.

Guy Holder
Guy Holder

Chris - you've got a big mouth for someone who only a few months ago didn't know squat about AGW. A few trips over to the Skeptical Science website doesn't make you any kind of expert.

The fact is climate scientists did not forecast a 17 year "pause" in warming, and observed temperatures that only very barely reach the lowest model estimates could only be convincing to a moron like yourself.

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Guy Holder @David Baron No, the fact is that observations have fallen well within the range of predictions. The source your provide quotes the AR5 draft, which is not yet final and is therefore not a reliable source, especially without any of the contextual information required. Moreover, it completely misrepresents the results of AR4, which presents its projects in its Figure 10.5. If you had taken the trouble to actually look at AR4 and see for yourself, you would have seen that your source is lying. Figure 10.5 shows three different scenarios, with 23 different models, and shows an average of all those models. Both the GISTEMP and the HAD-CRUT temperatures fall within the ranges of that ensemble of model results.

You really don't know what you're talking about, do you?

Chris Crawford
Chris Crawford

@Guy Holder Your representation of the Met Office's explicit denial of the story you repeated relies on weasel wording. The fact is that the Met Office is predicting continued warming. Here's a summary explaining what they actually wrote and how people like you have distorted the truth:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/resolving-met-office-confusion.html

You write: " Climate scientists have been suggesting some period without warming is to be expected for a decade now" Who suggested that? When did they suggest it? Where did they suggest it? I think you're lying.

Next you write: "there is considerable debate about the mechanisms that permit a warming at greater depths but not nearer the surface." Again, you are lying. The mechanisms at work are theoretically very simple: greater convection due to increased thermal disequilibrium. Every physicist on the planet would predict something like this to happen. The details by which it happens (where, when, how deep, and so forth) are subject to plenty of discussion, but nobody questions the basic concept of increased thermal mixing. 

You conclude by predicting that average global surface temperatures will increase by only about 0.8ºC in the next century. On what basis do you make that prediction? I note that you avoided answering my question about how much you know about climatology -- I'll take that as an admission that you really don't know much about climatology. So why are you expostulating on a subject that you don't understand?


Guy Holder
Guy Holder

@jim adams @Chris Crawford 

Jim - what's scary is that virtually all the development you have ever seen has occurred in just the last 150 years.

During this period we have lost many larger species and countless smaller species as well as countless acres of forest and jungle habitat - none of this attributable to the warming we've experienced.

What's scary is trying to curb population increases. Unlike CAGW there is no financial incentive to stabilize our numbers. In fact our economies rely on an ever larger consumer and tax base.

We don't need to model a crises. There are plenty of very real and immediate social, economic and environmental problems.  

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