The Earth since 1992: hotter, wilder, and wetter - Macleans.ca
 

The Earth since 1992: hotter, wilder, and wetter

Sea level is up 7.5 centimetres, U.S. extreme weather is up 30 per cent, and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are down 4.9 trillion tons of ice.


 

WASHINGTON – In the more than two decades since world leaders first got together to try to solve global warming, life on Earth has changed, not just the climate. It’s gotten hotter, more polluted with heat-trapping gases, more crowded and just downright wilder.

The numbers are stark. Carbon dioxide emissions: up 60 per cent. Global temperature: up six-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit. Population: up 1.7 billion people. Sea level: up 3 inches (7.5 centimetres). U.S. extreme weather: up 30 per cent. Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica: down 4.9 trillion tons of ice.

“Simply put, we are rapidly remaking the planet and beginning to suffer the consequences,” says Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

Diplomats from more than 190 nations opened talks Monday at a United Nations global warming conference in Lima, Peru, to pave the way for an international treaty they hope to forge next year.

To see how much the globe has changed since the first such international conference – the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 – The Associated Press scoured data bases from around the world. The analysis, which looked at data since 1983, concentrated on 10-year intervals ending in 1992 and 2013. This is because scientists say single years can be misleading and longer trends are more telling.

Our changing world by the numbers:

WILD WEATHER

Since 1992, there have been more than 6,600 climate, weather and water major disasters worldwide, causing more than $1.6 trillion in damage and killing more than 600,000 people, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Belgium, which tracks the world’s catastrophes.

While climate related, not all can be blamed on man-made warming or climate change. Still, extreme weather has noticeably increased over the years, says Debby Sapir, who runs the centre and its database. From 1983 to 1992 the world averaged 147 climate, water and weather disasters each year. Over the past 10 years, that number has jumped to an average 306 a year.

In the United States, an index of climate extremes – hot and cold, wet and dry – kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has jumped 30 per cent from 1992 to 2013, not counting hurricanes, based on 10-year averages.

NOAA also keeps track of U.S. weather disasters that cost more than $1 billion, when adjusted for inflation. Since 1992, there have been 136 such billion-dollar events.

Worldwide, the 10-year average for weather-related losses adjusted for inflation was $30 billion a year from 1983-1992, according to insurance giant Swiss Re. From 2004 to 2013, the cost was more than three times that on average, or $131 billion a year.

Sapir and others say it would be wrong to pin all, or even most, of these increases on climate change alone. Population and poverty are major factors, too. But they note a trend of growing extremes and more disasters, and that fits with what scientists have long said about global warming.

It’s this increase that’s “far scarier” than the simple rise in temperatures, University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles says.

TEMPERATURE

It’s almost a sure thing that 2014 will go down as the hottest year in 135 years of record keeping, meteorologists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center say. If so, this will be the sixth time since 1992 that the world set or tied a new annual record for the warmest year.

The globe has broken six monthly heat records in 2014 and 47 since 1992. The last monthly cold record set was in 1916.

So the average annual temperature for 2014 is on track to be about 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 degrees Celsius), compared with 57.4 degrees F (14.1 degrees C) in 1992. The past 10 years have averaged a shade below 58.1 degrees F (nearly 14.5 degrees C) _ six-tenths of a degree warmer than the average between 1983 and 1992.

THE OCEANS

The world’s oceans have risen by about 3 inches (7.5 centimetres) since 1992 and gotten a tad more acidic – by about half a per cent – thanks to chemical reactions caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide, scientists at NOAA and the University of Colorado say.

Every year sea ice cover shrinks to a yearly minimum size in the Arctic in September – a measurement that is considered a key climate change indicator. From 1983 to 1992, the lowest it got on average was 2.62 million square miles (6.79 million square kilometres). Now the 10-year average is down to 1.83 million square miles (4.74 million square kilometres), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

That loss – an average 790,000 square miles (2.05 million square kilometres) since 1992 – overshadows the slight gain in sea ice in Antarctica, which has seen an average gain of 110,000 square miles (285,000 million square kilometres) of sea ice over the past 22 years.

ON LAND

The world’s population in 1992 was 5.46 billion. Today, it’s nearly a third higher, at 7.18 billion. That means more carbon pollution and more people who could be vulnerable to global warming.

The effects of climate change can be seen in harsher fire seasons. Wildfires in the western United States burned an average of 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares) each year between 1983 and 1992; now that’s up to 7.3 million acres (2.95 million hectares) from 1994 to 2013, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

And some of the biggest climate change effects on land are near the poles where people don’t often see them. From 1992 to 2011, Greenland’s ice sheet lost 3.35 trillion tons of ice, according to calculations made by scientists using measurements from NASA’s GRACE satellite. Antarctica lost 1.56 trillion tons of ice over the same period.

THE AIR

Scientists simply point to greenhouse gas emissions, mostly carbon dioxide, that form a heat trapping blanket in our air.

There’s no need to average the yearly amount of carbon dioxide pollution: It has increased steadily, by 60 per cent, from 1992 to 2013. In 1992, the world spewed 24.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide; now it is 39.8 billion, according to the Global Carbon Project, an international consortium.

China has tripled its emissions from 3 billion tons to 11 billion tons a year. The emissions from the U.S. have gone up more slowly, about 6 per cent, from 5.4 billion tons to 5.8 billion tons. India also has tripled its emissions, from 860 million tons to 2.6 billion tons. Only European countries have seen their emissions go down, from 4.5 billion tons to 3.8 billion tons.

WHAT SCIENTISTS SAY

“Overall, what really strikes me is the missed opportunity,” Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, says in an email of the data.

“We knew by the early 1990s that global warming was coming, yet we have done essentially nothing to head off the risk. I think that future generations may be justifiably angry about this.”

“The numbers don’t lie,” adds Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State. “Greenhouse gases are rising steadily and the cause is fossil fuel burning and other human activities. The globe is warming, ice is melting and our climate is changing as a result.”


 

The Earth since 1992: hotter, wilder, and wetter

  1. Hmmm… where are the usual suspects? I would have expected a few of our resident deniers to have chimed in already…

    • Glo-Bull Warming is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated in human history.

      CO2 is not a pollutant.

      Without CO2 there would be no photosynthesis, no plants, no oxygen, no life.

      Water vapour is the most abundant greenhouse gas.

      The climate is always in a state of change.

      The suns solar radiation has more effect on earths climate than any other factor.

      One large volcanic eruption puts more gases and particulates into the atmosphere than human kind has since walking upright.

      For those who are convinced that CO2 is bad, just stop exhaling.

    • Throughout history, governments have twisted science to suit a political agenda. Global warming is no different, according to Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

      “Global climate alarmism has been costly to society, and it has the potential to be vastly more costly. It has also been damaging to science, as scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions,” writes Lindzen in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

      According to Lindzen, scientists make essentially “meaningless” claims about certain phenomenon. Activists for certain causes take up claims made by scientists and politicians respond to the alarmism spread by activists by doling out more research funding. — creating an “Iron Triangle” of poor incentives.

      “How can one escape from the Iron Triangle when it produces flawed science that is immensely influential and is forcing catastrophic public policy?” Lindzen asks.

      Lindzen compares global warming to past politicized scientific movements: the eugenics movement in the early 20th Century and Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union under Stalin. However, the MIT professor argues that global warming goes even beyond what these past movements in terms of twisting science.

      “Global Warming has become a religion,” writes Lindzen. “A surprisingly large number of people seem to have concluded that all that gives meaning to their lives is the belief that they are saving the planet by paying attention to their carbon footprint.”

    • If you are a devout believer in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) and want to convert me to your religion then I’m going to tell you how you can do it.
      The fourteen easy steps

      Step 1 – Stop making predictions that don’t come true.
      Step 2 – When you make a prediction, don’t just say something “might” happen.
      Step 3 – Don’t live your life like you don’t believe a word you’re saying.
      Step 4 – Stop the hate.
      Step 5 – Stop avoiding debate.
      Step 6 – Answer questions.
      Step 7 – Stop enjoying catastrophes.
      Step 8 – Don’t use invalid arguments.
      Step 9 – When you are wrong, admit it and apologise.
      Step 10 – Stop claiming that 97% of scientists agree that humans are warming the globe significantly.
      Step 11 – Stop lying. If you think it is okay to lie if it’s for a good cause, you are wrong.
      Step 12 – Rebuke your fellow Warmists if they act in an unscientific way.
      Step 13 – Stop blaming everything on Global Warming.
      Step 14 – Why are the only solutions always big-government “progressive” policies?

    • Global warming is harsh toward skeptics, heretics, and other “deniers.” One of the most dangerous features of the global warming religion is its level of intimidation of the heretics, the non-believers. For example, former Vice President Al Gore called skeptics “global warming deniers.” Many climatologists have been intimidated into silence, or have had calls to punish them go out.

      There is much at stake in getting people to believe in the global warming religion — so much so that some scientists, using government grants, are fraudulently manipulating climate data and engaging in criminal activity, as revealed in what has been called “Climategate” or “Fakegate.” Disclosure of the Climategate e-mails in November 2009 showed how the global warming clergy was willing to distort evidence and suppress dissenting views in the interest of the faith.

      The idea that we can be so certain of climate change 70 to 90 years from now that we must inflict serious economic damage on ourselves in the present day is causing the heretics, the non-believers, the unfaithful to have another look at the global warming religion.

      Most major religions are wise enough to avoid predicting the exact date when the world will end, but not so the global warming religion. What will happen when global warming turns out to be neither catastrophic nor irreversible in 2017?

      H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) once said, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and hence clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Global warmists cannot produce believable or sustainable hobgoblins with science, so they must turn to religion.

      Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/04/the_religion_of_global_warming.html#ixzz3Kkw44Hmd

  2. By Christopher Booker

    21 Jun 2014

    When future generations try to understand how the world got carried away around the end of the 20th century by the panic over global warming, few things will amaze them more than the part played in stoking up the scare by the fiddling of official temperature data. There was already much evidence of this seven years ago, when I was writing my history of the scare, The Real Global Warming Disaster. But now another damning example has been uncovered by Steven Goddard’s US blog Real Science, showing how shamelessly manipulated has been one of the world’s most influential climate records, the graph of US surface temperature records published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been “adjusting” its record by replacing real temperatures with data “fabricated” by computer models. The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data. In several posts headed “Data tampering at USHCN/GISS”, Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time. These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on “fabricated” data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century.

    When I first began examining the global-warming scare, I found nothing more puzzling than the way officially approved scientists kept on being shown to have finagled their data, as in that ludicrous “hockey stick” graph, pretending to prove that the world had suddenly become much hotter than at any time in 1,000 years. Any theory needing to rely so consistently on fudging the evidence, I concluded, must be looked on not as science at all, but as simply a rather alarming case study in the aberrations of group psychology.