On this date in 1903, Niagara Falls ran out of water because of drought. Climate change has been a planetary reality ever since this water-filled rock cooled enough to entertain life. What is different now is that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that humans are impacting the level of climate change in a negative manner. The other three percent are on Republican payrolls.
Just recently, I was going through the archives and came across the raw files. Image processing technology has changed a great deal in the past six years. Might it be possible that I could re-process at least one of these pictures without sacrificing clarity? Let’s just say I’m much more pleased now than I was six years ago.
Now, if only we could work similar magic in real life. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their Spring forecast this past week and, just like my raw images, there are some hot spots that just ruin the whole picture. Drought conditions linger in California, Oregon, and Washington, and with higher than average temperatures are likely to extend to parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
Balance? Why, yes. Portions of the South and Southwest are likely to be wetter than normal this spring, which I’m sure they’ll appreciate and gloat about. Here’s something worth noting, though: They’re wetter because Spring moisture normally associated with the Northwest and Midwest is moving, South and Southeast.
Look further forward: As the moisture moves South and hot, dry air moves in behind it, within the next twenty years I may not have to leave Indiana to get a shot like the one above.
I know, I know, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who has been running for one thing or another since I was a child, famously took a snowball onto the Senate floor earlier this year in an effort to debunk the very concept of “global warming.” His concept is that as long as there is snow the planet must not be too warm.
Understand, Senator Inhofe is a professional politician who hasn’t even held a real job in the past forty-five years. He knows how to politic and that’s about it.
People who actually know about the planet and have measured its changes, keeping meticulous records of extremely finite proportion, will tell you in the most polite terms that Senator Inhofe, and those like him, are full of bullshit. I would go so far as to say that Senator Inhofe most likely knows he’s not telling the truth, but finds it easier to keep his job if people in Oklahoma are scared.
I’m not interested in fair and balanced, here. I’m interested in facts so I’m going to lob a few at you courtesy some of the best earth science folks at NASA. Consider just an eensy, weensy, tiny little amount of the evidence they’ve compiled. Any emphasis is mine.
- Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
- All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880. Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. Even though the 2000s witnessed a solar output decline resulting in an unusually deep solar minimum in 2007-2009, surface temperatures continue to increase. [Translation: the sun sent less heat and we STILL got warmer, not colder.]
- The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
- The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
- Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.
- Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa. [Mount Kilimanjaro is about to completely lose its famous snow cap!]
- The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.
- Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.
- Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.
Yeah, I know, it’s difficult to convince people in Boston and New England of that last one, but on a global scale the numbers hold true. All the citations for the facts listed are right here.
Science is not like religion where one can pick and choose what they want to believe. If one doesn’t believe in a deity it doesn’t harm anyone else. When one doesn’t believe science, though, when one is faced with the facts and refuses to do anything about them, we’re setting ourselves up for conditions that could end up turning off Niagara Falls and a lot of other water sources forever.
I was happy to be able to go back and fix this picture. Now, let’s focus on fixing our attitude on climate change. There’s no quick solution, but we can definitely improve the picture.