I get why some very rational people are confused about whether or not climate change is real. On the one hand, you have skeptics and deniers asking “Where’s your global warming now?” anytime it’s cold, and dismissing heat records as natural variations unrelated to our greenhouse gas emissions. But experts don’t always sound so convincing either, stating “Any one extreme weather event can’t be proven to be linked to climate change, but the overall trend is overwhelmingly in favour of evidence for global warming,” and when it’s cold they talk about changing weather patterns. (Hey, science is complicated.)
I must admit, this winter so far has been cold and snowy where I live. It’s not the kind of climate change a Canadian longs for. But is it evidence against global warming? Absolutely not. Climate scientists predicted a decade ago that loss of Arctic ice would change weather patterns and shift storm tracks. These changes would be expected to bring on more severe droughts, much like what North America has been experiencing in the last few years.
Recent studies have found that loss of Arctic sea ice loss can lead to changes in the jet stream, and that contributes to more extreme weather patterns all by itself. It’s been understood for many years that a warming planet will lead to melting ice and snow, both of which are highly reflective. (The planet’s reflectivity is referred to as albedo; the higher the albedo, the more reflective the surface is.) Those surfaces on our planet where melting occurs get replaced by dark blue ocean or dark land. These darker surfaces absorb more sunlight and that means more solar energy is absorbed. This is one of the reasons the Arctic warms more quickly than other parts of our planet.
Studies have shown that amplified Arctic warming leads to an amplification of extreme weather simply by shifting and weakening the jet stream. It’s been noted that over the past 30 years, the extent of Arctic sea ice extent in late summer has dropped by eight percent per decade, and spring snow coverage in June has dropped by 18 percent per decade.
“[Climate change] will compromise the health of the population of the world.”
—Dr. Susan Pacheco, paediatrician and fellow Climate Leader
I’ve been a Climate Leader with Climate Reality Canada since August 2012. I’ve been able to speak to thousands of Canadians about the most important issue facing our planet and I’m glad to be one of a large group of people who are trying to educate people about the science and the reality of what’s happening to our planet.
As a physician, I’ve been particularly concerned about the health impacts about climate change. I’ve previously written a blog for the David Suzuki Foundation on the subject, and I address the topic in my book as well.
This video is of one of my American counterparts involved in Climate Reality. Dr. Susan Pacheco is paediatrician and she’s one of the nearly 6,000 Climate Reality Leaders that have been trained by former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore. Together, we share the message that climate change is real, it’s happening, and it’s time we did something about it.
Watch this video. Susan’s perspective—as a mother, and as a physician who has dedicated her life to caring for children—is a good one. This past July she was honoured by the White House as a Champion of Change for her work. Perhaps her words will inspire you to consider becoming a Climate Leader yourself. If you’d like to join the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, visit: climaterealityproject.org/africa-training. Maybe we’ll see you in South Africa!
First things first: NASA data show that last month was the hottest November.
Although there’s nothing sexy about the raw data, you can see them here if you’d like. Always tough to hold onto the idea that global warming stopped fifteen years ago when all-time records keep getting broken like that.
For years, global warming skeptics and deniers have held onto the surface temperature record as their only possible hope to argue the planet isn’t warming. The chaotic and dynamic nature of a system like surface temperature makes it an easy target to claim things like “Global warming stopped in 1998.” (It’s kind of like watching the tide come in, and using every little retreat in the back-and-forth of the waves to point out “See, the tide isn’t coming in!”) Melting ice and a warming ocean clearly help verify the planet is indeed warming, but skeptics and deniers conveniently ignore those facts and underscore the surface surface temperature perspective.
But it turns out there’s evidence that surface temperatures have been climbing more than skeptics and deniers would like you to believe. A new study has helped demonstrate that surface temperatures have in fact been underestimated, and for a rather simple reason. Continue reading →
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
Sometimes the innocence of children allows the truth to be more clear for them than it is for us as adults. We have filters we use to see the world, and that has an impact on our perception of reality. Yesterday’s blog even pointed that out: if you follow a conservative ideology, you are more inclined to be skeptical of climate change, even if you’re a meteorologist or an atmospheric scientist.
This video is amusing and enlightening all at the same time. If you can get past the corny jokes—I challenge you not to chuckle—you’ll get the message loud and clear. What’s happening to our planet is abundantly clear. Kids can easily see that.
Now it’s up to us adults to figure out what we’re going to do about it.
“…previous studies show that if you ask the scientists who really know climate change, there is high consensus on human causation.”
—Neil Stenhouse, lead author of a recent study on climate change opinions
There seems to be no end to the list of skeptics and deniers about global warming and climate change, despite what so many others seem to consider self-evident: that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities cause global warming which leads to climate change. And yet “experts,” “scientists” and a variety of “leading experts” still express a contrarian viewpoint. And you can include many meteorologists among them.
However, a new study has looked at this very issue by examining the climate opinions among members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). And guess what the study found: many meteorologists just don’t buy what more than 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists believe. James Taylor from the Heartland Institute considers this finding ”the latest in a long line of evidence indicating the often asserted global warming consensus does not exist,” according to his latest Forbes blog post.