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After Irene and Sandy, Climate Change, Yes or No?

This week's Conversation Starter is about the question of whether Irene last year and Sandy this year have persuaded you to give the question of climate change and global warning another look.

Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist at the City University of New York. He appeared for a segment last week on CBS This Morning to discuss the question of global climate change in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which bashed parts of Manhattan, the Jersey Shore and other regions of the country hard on Monday and Tuesday.

Are you a believer? What do you think about the question of whether mankind is having an effect on the global climate? Does the fact that a giant hurricane, Irene, and another one combined with two other weather systems, Sandy, pounded the northeast in just 14 months?

Kaku's basic premise was this: Get used to so-called "100-year storms" and "100-year floods" happening more often. Because the trends that track energy (heat) in the atmosphere, the energy that causes the the kind of weather we saw on the east coast last week—well, those trends are only rising, not falling.

I'm simplifying his point of view. Click the links and hear more.

Beyond that, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines in the midst of the recovery efforts last week when he—a former Republican who now calls himself an independent—endorsed Democrat President Barack Obama.

In a Reuters news report published on the Chicago Tribune last week, Bloomberg expressed his view that Obama has taken steps to reduce carbon consumption and GOP challenger Mitt Romney has not.

"Our climate is changing," said the article, quote Bloomberg's views written in an opinion article for Bloomberg View. "And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be - given this week's devastation - should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action."

Kaku told CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose that he was not always a proponent of the idea of global climate change, but he's been persuaded—along with the overwhelming majority of what he referred to as "credible scientists."

What do you think? Should we be taking global climate change seriously? Do the horrible storms, not to mention wicked tornodoes of the recent season, affect your views? Should politicians be taking the issue seriously?

Jim November 05, 2012 at 12:47 AM
ScienceNews in 1975 shows the cooling trend 1940-1975 Scary man. What will you say to your son? http://www.sciencenews.org/view/download/id/37739/name/CHILLING_POSSIBILITIES
Margaret Eisenberger November 05, 2012 at 12:52 AM
I'm glad to hear you will speaking at the Ethical Society. Looking forward to it!
Larry Lazar November 05, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Labdaddy, My sincere apologies. It was an honest misspelling of your moniker. It won't happen again. I did read your comment and my response remains the same. As a scientist, you should know that it is irresponsible, and lacking in scientific integrity, to give a position that opposes the scientific consensus. This prmary cause of this climate change is from man's activities. It's not me saying this, it's the National Academy of Science, NASA, NOAA and the IPCC. Excerpt from The National Academy of Science" 2010 position statement on climate change: "Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems" http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=05192010
Larry Lazar November 05, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Jim, It hasn't stopped. It's getting hotter. If you looked around at our farms this summer you'll realize that as it gets hotter and drier that we won't be growing much of anything. 2005 and 2010 were both hotter than 1997. 9 of the last 10 years are the hottest on record.
The Missourian November 05, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Ethical Society! WOOT!
Steve Reed November 05, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Jim, a number of climatologists and others began to feel that the whole topic was better captured by the phrase "climate change" rather than "global warming" which is too narrowly focused on just one of many impacts of climate change.
Larry Lazar November 05, 2012 at 01:50 AM
If you are interested in having an in-person discussion about the climate challenge, please attend the panel discussion that I'll be leading at the St. Louis Ethical Society on Dec 6. Details below: On December 6, Earth Ethics will host three Climate Reality Leaders to speak at our Meeting at 7 p.m. in the As-sembly Hall. The speakers will be Dr. Lucas Sabalka, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at St. Louis University, Brian Ettling a park ranger from Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, and Larry Lazar, an analyst at a global consumer products company. The speakers will address human influenced global warming/climate change with the Climate Reality Pro-ject Mission of engaging the public in conversation about “our” problem. Real solutions, systemic solutions, and inno-vative solutions can only come when we address them together. Without doubt. Without delay. Come hear the conver-sation about how to solve the climate crisis. Questions from those present will be welcomed. So bring your ques-tions along with your ethical and moral courage. http://ethicalstl.org/currentNews.pdf
Larry Lazar November 05, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Phil, that is not correct. Temperature readings are taken at a wide variety of locations, including both urban and rural. Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend. It does not matter whether Chicago was or wasn't under ice 10,000 years ago (it wasn't). What does matter is that the climate is changing right now - on our watch, and we are the cause of the change.
Jim November 05, 2012 at 01:56 AM
You must be talking St Louis, not global. See attached (1981-2010=0). 1997 +0.4c 2005 +0.2c 2010 +0.4c 2012 +0.2c http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_Sep_2012_v5.5.png
Larry Lazar November 05, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Jim, No, I'm using global temperatures from the average of 5 different data sources http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/FR11_Figure8.jpg and I'm also looking at a much longer time period. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A.gif and I'm also using accredited and respected sources - like NASA.
jjones November 05, 2012 at 02:16 AM
A recent Public Policy Polling survey of Republicans found that there was a greater percentage who believed in demonic possession and exorcism than did climate change. "Nuff said. Galileo would still get the chopping block with this crowd. http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/shocking-poll-more-two-thirds-republican-voters-believe-demonic-possession
Jim November 05, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Nope,You charts are wrong. Dr Spenser makes these charts for NASA, NOAA, and DOE. He is a first class climate scientist. Here are his bonofides: http://www.drroyspencer.com/about/
Larry Lazar November 05, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Jim, so, let try to understand your position on the competing sources for claims. Sources you think are Right: Roy Spencer Sources you think are Wrong: over 75 scientific bodies of national or international standing, including the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of the UK, the American Medical Association, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the European Geosciences Union, the African Academy of Sciences, and the American Meteorological Society all agree that the climate is changing because of human activity. as well as thousands of climate scientists that make up the 98% consensus? Do you think that's a good bet to make on the future of civilization as we know it?
Jim November 05, 2012 at 03:29 AM
OK, 98%? of the scientists that rely on global warming for their govt. grants agree it's going to start warming again soon.(please, oh please). My point is that it has stopped warming for the last 15 years and nobody has a computer model that explains it. You think I'm wrong and will not accept that fact. I can't convince you. You can't convince me. Lets call it a draw. Really I don't know if it's going to go up or down but we both agree it is going to change. Climate change — it happens, with or without our help. :-)
Gary K Lee November 05, 2012 at 03:40 AM
How many of you are active gardeners and/or farmers and have been for some years? Observe nature. It says a lot. My grandfather farmed in South Dakota until he died in 1994 and he said things were wrong with the climate. I don't think he had heard of "global warming" or "climate change" but he observed lots of changes in his later years (he died at the end of December 1994). Water levels were increasing and highway 81 had to be raised by 22 feet (or maybe it was 24 feet) and I saw farms flooded. Sloughs became lakes. Lakes Henry and Thompson became one lake. This development spread into North Dakota and happened over a number of years. My relatives near Devil's Lake, ND, described the same thing as what was going in eastern SD. In St. Louis now, I can grow perennials that would have winter killed ten years ago. My vegetables (like tomatoes) have failed the last two summers because of the heat and then they finally start producing when they are killed by frost. You can't reason with people who live in their climate-controlled houses, work in their climate-controlled offices, and drive around in their climate-controlled cars. They don't get it and they won't. They don't care about their impact on anyone else. There are enough of them that by the time the politicians quit arguing about it and/or dragging their feet, serious damage will have happened.
Dirk Maas November 05, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Jim, Regarding research money, this is from http://www.experiment-resources.com/research-grant-funding.html: The common belief is that research grant funding comes from governments... In the US, [the government] generally only accounts for about 36% of the funding, and the majority of that budget is spent on basic research and military research and development. The largest research funding comes from private companies. The numbers on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_funding), for the US, roughly agree: 31% from the government, 63% from industry. 98% of climate scientists are either corrupt or incompetent? Do you feel the same way about medical doctors, car mechanics, electrical engineers, architects, or the multitude of others you trust your life to?
Caffeinated November 05, 2012 at 03:50 AM
"OK, 98%? of the scientists that rely on global warming for their govt. grants agree it's going to start warming again soon.(please, oh please)" Where does Dr. Roy Spencer's paycheck come from? Government money. So everyone else get grants and are thus suspect because you say so? Right. "My point is that it has stopped warming for the last 15 years and nobody has a computer model that explains it." Then your point is wrong, as Larry has shown. No amount of repeating wrong information makes it true. "Lets call it a draw. " Call what a draw? Your desire for some level of equivalency hardly makes it a draw. People read this and will hopefully do their own research and make up their own minds.
Gary K Lee November 05, 2012 at 04:08 AM
I have never heard before that the warming stopped. If so, why are the glaciers still disappearing? Why are the polar bears at risk? I've seen plenty of pictures in publications like "National Geographic" and "Smithsonian". The farther north you go the more this is noticeable. People in St. Louis can still pretend climate change isn't so.
TeddyPendergrass November 05, 2012 at 04:12 AM
The Patch shouldn't even ask this question. It's an overwhelmingly a scientific consensus with what is going on with climate change. Only in the U.S., where journalists in the 1990s presented this issue as a two-sided debate (good journalism presents both sides of the story) do we still have ignorant mofos that deny this issue is real. Climate change doesn't directly affect us here like it does other countries. It's too difficult to explain to an American that their SUV caused Hurricane Katrina and the Maldives to disappear. Listen, if carbon dioxide had a color and filled up our sky -- we would've solved the problem by now. Remember acid rain? Solved....
dan November 05, 2012 at 04:31 PM
More civility, please. I understand that many feel it is "ignorant" to deny the vast data, but I don't think that persuades anyone by saying it. Similarly, even if you despise Al Gore, defaming a former vice-president and Nobel winner as a liar who will make "trillions" without evidence of such motivation or fact also is not very persuasive to anyone. For me, there is speculation and and there is science. Both have uncertainty but one is based on philosphy and one based on data. I believe in God, but have no data to prove it. However, I do not let belief divert me to ignore medical science. Is denying or promoting climate change in economic interests of oil industry and green industries? Yes. Now that we understand that the incentive for bias is clearly on both sides, claiming bias seems not to be very helpful. CREDIBLE evidence seems to be the reasonable means to answer a scientific question. I have seen abundant credible evidence of climate change over the last century, not just the last 10 years, from credible sources, and have seen almost no evidence to the contrary except from sources without scientific credibility. I recognize others genuinely believe that the green industries, Al Gore and others are conspiring against us, but if they are they are doing a terrible job - they lost the 2000 election, saw tax subsidies for oil research increase in 2005, and still have no climate legisation.
Becca Christensen November 05, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Phil - the answer to your question "How long ago were the north & south poles sporting palm trees & elephants & other tropical flora & fauna?" is, that NEVER happened. Get some valid scientific information before you make judgement calls on scientific ideas.
Becca Christensen November 05, 2012 at 11:43 PM
"Science does not belong to scientist!" - That is the most ridiculous comment on this thread. I don't even... WTF?!
Becca Christensen November 05, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Wilma, your persistence in calling Missourian names does nothing for your credibility. Try to remember that there are living, breathing people on the other end of your keyboard and constrain yourself to civil discourse.
Brian November 06, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Ok, so the globe is warming, because of increased CO2 emissions, and unchecked it's going to get hotter and hotter. Let's leave the shouting deniers alone; as fellow humans we all have a stubborn side. Instead, let's talk about solutions. This is so we can get the concerned but confused/on-the-fence reader to turn the page, and join us in fighting for these solutions. Thing is, what are they? Obviously the number one source of energy available to us is the sun (ironically). dot dot dot. What about creative plans to fix carbon? What about transgenic plants? What's the future?
Larry Lazar November 06, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Great idea Brian, it's time to move to solutions. I'd say reducing carbon emissions is job #1, and yes, solar is a key - as Germany is showing the world. Increasing energy efficiency could be even more important than finding new sources of energy - starting with updating the electric grid and improved building and fleet efficiency.. Job 2 is adaptation: we have to prepare for the climate change that is already "in the works". We are currently experiencing the weather of about .9 C warmining and we are well on our way to 2C. We'll likely hit 2C even if we were able to pull off a miracle and stop CO2 emissions tomorrow. There are a lot more Irene's, Sandy's and Katrina's ahead of us - as well as increasing droughts and forest fires. We need to be prepared to prevent or limit as much damage as we can. Pulling existing carbon out of the air will be a challenge for sure and there are many promising technologies in development. I expect that we will need to do that in an agressive manner at some point, but I'd argue that keeping the carbon out of the atmosphere is much cheaper than trying to take it out once it gets there.
Jackson Thompson November 06, 2012 at 11:43 AM
"I'm simplifying his point of view"? Since when are data and scientific facts a point of view?
Jackson Thompson November 06, 2012 at 11:54 AM
What does the CEO of ExxonMobil say about climate change. Sure we're doing it, deal with it, we have a profit to make. http://www.dailytech.com/ExxonMobil+CEO+Defends+Manmade+Global+Warming+Says+Humans+are+Able+to+Adapt/article25068.htm
Jackson Thompson November 06, 2012 at 12:00 PM
You can listen to the whole speach. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/28/exxonmobil-climate-change-rex-tillerson
James Schumaker November 06, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Jim, the hockey stick chart, as you call it, has not been debunked. It was challenged briefly in the early 2000s by climate-change deniers, but their competing claims were thoroughly discredited by the scientific community. Since then, most scientific studies have validated the the hockey stick chart, although some have pointed out minor problems in the methodology of the study underlying the chart. A good summary of the controversy is at the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy .
Roger Hughes November 14, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Good News. The U.S. will make a huge transition from petroleum oil energy to natural gas by 2030. Its expected to make millions of jobs for workers in our country. This will cut our hydrocarbons by about 40%.

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