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Do You Buy Into Global Warming?

2012 was the hottest year on record in the United States. Scientists say high temperatures were brought on by release of greenhouse gases.

We all know remember the unprecedented 106+ degrees last summer. But was it just a fluke of nature?

According to AccuWeather the average temperature in the U.S. in 2012 was 55.3 degrees, which is 3.2 degrees above normal. This ranks as the warmest year since 1895 when record keeping began.

Scientists agree that temperatures historically rise and fall, but say that warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases played into the extreme high temperatures in 2012.

The year began with an unusually warm winter with relatively little snow last year as the beginning which was followed by a March that was so hot that trees began to bloom. Then the drought that engulfed 61 percent of the nation.

Was it just coincidental that 11 natural disasters including several tornadoes, two hurricanes, one striking the Gulf Coast, the second causing extensive damage in New Jersey and New York hit in one year.

What do you think? Was this just a rare case of severe weather? Or are we looking at a real global warming trend?

Richard T. January 11, 2013 at 12:20 AM
OK, anyone care to address the fact that you still have a statistically insignificant sample? Not that I'm abandoning my belief that "global warming" under whatever term happens to be fashionable, is insignificant other than as a tool for activists"? BTW can the anatomical humans of 200,000 years ago provide any weather observations?
Jimmy January 11, 2013 at 01:34 AM
I dont think there is a lot of doubt that there is global warming or climate change. The climate has been changing since the beginning of time. The dispute seems to be about the cause. Over the last billion years there have been numerous ice/ glacial ages. The most recent llasted about 50,000 yrs and ended about 15,000 years ago. It included glaciers that advanced all the way into what is now the northern tier of states in the US. It is credited with creating the Great Lakes, the '10,000' lakes in Minnesota and the Finger Lakes in upstate NY, as well as causing deposits of fertile soils in the midwestern US. The climate had to change and become quite cold to cause the creation of that much ice, and had to change to quite warm to cause the glaciers to melt/retreat all the way back up to the polar regions. Most of these glacial periods occurred before humans roamed the earth and all of them occurred before humans started burning fossil fuels and driving SUVs. The idea that humans are responsible for global warming and / or climate change is arrogant at best and dangerous at worst.
Dave Leaton January 11, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Richard T, the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is not based on the surface temperature record. Only the accuracy of model projections is based (partially) on the surface temp record. The theory of AGW is just the greenhouse gas (GHG) theory combined with the evidence for humans being responsible for the recent rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases. The GHG theory is as solid as science gets. It has been tested in lab, directly measured from the ground, and inferred from satellite instruments such as MODIS. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what the surface trend is doing. The planet will be warmer at 300ppm CO2 than it would be with 100ppm CO2. So let's separate the theory of AGW from the model projections. Questioning the accuracy of the latter does not question the validity of the former. Anyone who tries to tell you that "global warming has stopped" by pointing to the surface temp trend either doesn't know what they're talking about or thinks that you don't know enough to question the claim. That having been said, the surface temp trend has flattened a bit in the last 15 years. Again, this does not mean that GW has stopped. It means that something is countering GHG warming. If you want to see what could possibly do that, read Foster & Rahmstorf (2011) in Environmental Research Letters, or go to the blog of one of the authors, who discusses the study in detail: http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/the-real-global-warming-signal/
Dave Leaton January 11, 2013 at 05:50 PM
That was all preface for the actual answer to your question. How would you determine a significant length of time to describe "climate" as opposed to "weather"? Upon what basis would you answer the question? Scientists say 30 years, because that takes out the majority of natural cycles. Anything less than 30 years contains too much noise from short-term cycles to be useful, unless you want to spend time removing the short-term cycle signals (ala Foster & Rahmstorf (2011)). Thirty years leaves a manageable number of natural cycles to work with. There actually aren't that many significant natural cycles that work on a 30 to 500 year frequency. Even mid-range solar variation (e.g. Maunder & Dalton minimums) isn't really strong when compared with recent warming. Long-range cycles like the Milankovitch cycles aren't really all that strong either when set against AGW. Tzedakis et al. (2012) found that glacial inception won't occur with CO2 above 280ppm, so global warming has likely stopped the next Milankovitch-driven glacial period. The trend in global temperature since 1960, when solar variation and surface temp variation de-coupled, is .138C per decade (or .0138C per year, if you prefer). Is that increase insignificant? PETM warming (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petm) was 5C over 12,000 years -- .000417C per year. We are currently warming at 33x the rate of PETM warming. (one more)
Dave Leaton January 11, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Jimmy, read the wiki on Milankovitch cycles and then read Tzedakis et al. (2012): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo1358.html

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