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Could the scientists at Nasa, the National academy of science, the American Meteorological Society, and every professional scientific organization on the planet really have been so silly as to miss something this obvious?

Although its been 20 years since NASA climate scientists first announced they had picked up the signal of global warming, some deniers still insist its not happening.
In many cases, its because of long out of date notions of what the science is really saying. Its amazing how durable some of these myths, most debunked a decade ago, seem to be.
one of the most popular, that I heard from a high school student not too long ago, is illustrated in this clip from a bogus climate denial film that gets a lot of circulation on the internet.
It goes like this:

===(CBC climate denial video explaining "heat island effect")===
---
is that true?  Could the scientists at Nasa, the National academy of science, the American Meteorological Society, and every professional scientific organization on the planet really have been so silly as to miss something this obvious?
Of course not.  They've compensated for that factor.
But take a look at some more graphic evidence.
Many of you have seen this picture. Its a satellite image of the earth at night, with all the lights of all the cities showing up like twinkling campfires against the dark. We're going to use this to show something, but first I have to do a little photoshop transformation.
Lets make the light dots into  dark spots.
Are you with me? Same map, just inverted it to make something easier to see.
All those dots represent city lights. This map would be a pretty good indicator of where we'd expect the "urban heat island" effect to show up, don't you think?
Now look at another map. This is the global temperature anomalies map from NASA for 2008. It shows which parts of the globe are warming the fastest.
The darker the red, the more that area has shown warming in the last several decades. Do you see where I'm going to go with this?
Of course you do.
Let's put the temperature map over my map of city lights.
Notice anything?
The urban areas don't really correspond with the red, warming zones. Doesn't that seem strange, if these urban areas are supposed to be the places where thermometers are showing warming?
why do denialists persist in repeating something that is so easily proven wrong?
In some cases ignorance. In some cases laziness. In some cases, they simply don't care if they're right or wrong, as long as they create confusion and paralysis. Remember, for the fossil fuels companies, every delay in action is money in the bank.
But some denialists persist in the notion that evil scientists all over the world are deliberately distorting temperature data, to fool you about global climate.  They think the temperature data is all wrong. Its all part of a sinister plot.
I have an idea. Instead of arguing about whose temperature data is right, Lets just throw it all out. That's right. Throw out all the temperature data.
Let's look at the world with fresh eyes. As if we're aborigines with technological tools.
No thermometers to tell us what's going on. Just the real responses of the real planet.
Turns out someone' s done this. In a paper by NASA scientists, published in the journal NATURE, observations were made of the timing of nature's most basic processes.
The migration of birds, the blooming of flowers.the spawning of fish, the peak flows of glacial streams in spring time.
flowers, streams, and birds don't have an agenda. They don't know about politics.
They just respond.
And they tell us about what their environment is doing.  Because this study, of 29,500 sets of physical and biological data, found that at the global scale, about 90 percent of observed changes in diverse physical and biological systems are consistent with warming.

Originally posted to greenman3610 on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 07:13 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think we've all seen it (4+ / 0-)

    with our own eyes, and I'm not talking about a few warm weeks in winter.  I'm talking about the species and migrations.

    I have lizards around my house now.  They used to live only up in the sandhills, a few miles away from this riparian zone.

    My parents cabin used to be in a pinyon-juniper zone.  Now its in a sage-prickly pear zone.  Just in the last 10 years!  Sure, bark beetles didn't help, but then the higher insect populations flourish when the winters don't destroy larvae.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 07:28:30 AM PDT

  •  Climate scientists have analyzed the effects (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, dougymi, In her own Voice

    of cities exhaustively and shown in several completely different ways that there is no significant effect.

    But there is a small effect, and to the extent that pavement, buildings, etc., contribute to the warming of the planet, I suspect that this just might be due to human actions.  Any way you look at it we are responsible for the increasing damage to the environment that is being more and more documented.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 07:31:08 AM PDT

    •  Inside the cities there can be a substantial (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skrekk, LookingUp

      effect - for example, one recent July in Phoenix the temperature did not drop below 93 even once, no, not even at night when temperatures in the surrounding desert "cooled" into the 70s. . . .  

      If Phoenix wasn't right where it was, the temperature there likewise would have cooled into the 70s but all the concrete, etc, soaked up heat during the day that was re-radiated all night.

      So basically, the urban heat island effect should not be dismissed as a "crock" - it is very real - anymore than it should be abused by the other side in absurd ways.

      •  I spent three years in Tempe (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        as a grad student at ASU from '69 through '72.  I recall that the cooling at night was much more in the desert than in the the urban areas.

        The fact that so many people had swimming pools and watered their Bermuda grass also resulted in retaining energy at night.

        I also recall that I was the only person I knew from the East who ever spent more than a minute at a time outside during the summer, except in pools or other places with water.  I found out the hard way that it's best to check on the temperature before going running.  Two miles when it was 117 F in the shade (I wasn't running in the shade!) almost did me in.

        "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

        by LookingUp on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 09:08:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm further north, near Madison WI, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        and summer heat captured by all the concrete is what caused me to move outside the city into a heavily wooded area 35 years ago.  Day & night temps are usually at least several degrees cooler, and it cools off a lot quicker at night.  Because I'm in a valley, winter nighttime temps can be much colder: if Madison is −20F, it can be −30F here.

        Dubya's legacy: 25 million really pissed Iraqis...50 million shoes

        by skrekk on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 10:08:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  you are not getting it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose

        The point is, not that cities aren't hot.
        The point is, that deniers want you to believe that NASA is not smart enough to adjust for this, and that it is the average of the increasing temperatures measured in urban areas that is responsible for an illusion of warming globally.

        The point is that the greatest temperature rises on a macro scale are being observed in polar areas, where heat islands are obviously not a factor.

        So, yes, that is a crock.

        •  Sure, but the concept of overlaying (0+ / 0-)

          changes in temperature with probable causes when dealing with climate change is badly flawed.

          For example, I think everyone reading this site pretty much accepts that things like automobiles and coal fired power plants contribute to global temperature changes.  Yet, if the places where the temperature changes are occurring the most are overlaid with the regions full of automobiles and fossil fuel burning power plants, there would be little or no correlation and that idea would also be debunked if the approach taken in the video was valid.

  •  There's something wrong with this diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dougymi, LookingUp

    It's missing whatever should be after "It goes like this:", and some links.

    •  I think what it's missing is an explanation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LookingUp

      of the baseline for the apparent heat island debunking, which used temperatures established from 1951 to 1980 (IIRC the dates correctly).  

      To me it would seem that areas that are urbanized today were also largely urbanized then, so the heat island effect was largely built into the the baseline.  Thus, the more-recently obtained temperature changes seem largely irrelevant to the heat island effects - which, clearly makes it absurd that the climate change deniers would use this data to support their case - so that part of the video definitely has merit.  

      In any event, as anyone who follows the weather channel at all knows, weather systems cover very large portions of the globe - ranging over thousands of miles many times.  Thus, something else missing from this diary was a clear explanation of just why heat generated in NYC, let's say, wouldn't be expected to blow over to - and warm up - the North Atlantic ocean . . .

    •  You're looking at the transcript... (0+ / 0-)

      You're looking at his transcript of the video in the diary, and that missing part is the part where he shows the video he's debunking. That part is some CBC thing about urban heat islands causing avg temps to go up instead of CO2 emissions. There's an intro, than that clip, and then he continues to deliver his refutation.

      Hope that helps.

      Starboard Broadside: Firing all guns at the Right since September 2008!

      by Cpt Robespierre on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 12:47:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, I watched the entire video, and the (0+ / 0-)

        CBC clip simply (and more or less accurately) sets forth the claim that urban areas are warmer than corresponding natural areas (see discussion of Phoenix elsewhere in this diary's comments) due to the type of buildings, large expanses of concrete and paved over areas, etc.

        That much is undisputable.  And accounted for in the scientific data (*that* is a large reason that such effects don't show up in the time lapse images of temperature change - they have already been controlled for - so of course they won't!!).

        What is equally stupid as this video, of course, is when the global warming deniers to extrapolate from this very local phenomenon - which perhaps impacts 0.1 to 1.0% of the earth's surface - and make any link with global phenonema.

        In any event, since reason doesn't work with those who don't "believe" in global climate change, fighting stupidity with stupidity is perhaps an attractive strategy to resort to - I myself have done that from time to time . . .

  •  "temperature" is not the correct measure (5+ / 0-)

    of "global warming" . . . not yet, anyway.

    The "global warming" theory posits that increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration increases the trapping of solar energy.  If the Earth's surface were uniformly rock and dirt that would result in a rather rapid increase of surface and atmospheric temperature . . . but it is not.  Most of the Earth's surface is water, which has a higher heat capacity than rock, and which, because of vertical mixing, exposes a vastly greater volume (mass) to heat absorbtion than does a static hard surface.

    And then there's ice.  The phase change from ice to water takes a lot of energy, without a corresponding temperature rise.  Atmospheric and ocean currents enable polar ice to absorb a substantial portion of the solar energy received in the non-tropical regions, moderating temperature increase planet wide, just as vertical mixing moderates surface temperature in the oceans.  Ocean mixing is unlikely to change dramatically any time soon, but the ice melt will . . .

    The implications are manyfold.  Temperature rise lags energy input, but has a long term stability that bodes ill for the future.  Warmed oceans will not cool quickly.  But worse, there is a "knee" coming in the temperature graphs when the last of the ice (particularly the floating ice, which is keeping the oceans cool) melts.  That change is coming rather soon (decades at most) and its effect on heat transfer and local temperatures will be far more dramatic than anything we've seen so far.

    •  This has been talked about, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      unfortunately I don't have links handy.  The fear is, we're approaching a tipping point, because the high specific heat of the oceans has shielded us from the effects of global warming.  The danger is that the temperature will increase...so far, the oceans and ice caps have absorbed a bunch of energy, but with melting, etc, we're actually living in a temporary honeymoon.

      •  we're past the "tipping point", (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tigerdog

        well past it already.  Present CO2 level is enough, even if we stopped all future increase, to continue the energy trapping for centuries.  There is already enough "excess" heat stored in the oceans to melt all the floating ice, and probably all the surface ice.  It's just a matter of waiting for wind and current to transfer the heat to where the ice is.  And of course we are not stopping CO2 increase.

        So the question is not "if", but "when", and the uncertainties are in how that will play out in planetary weather and climate.  My guess is that the current "worst case" scenarios still underestimate how soon, and how bad.  What most "predictions" still put out to the end of the century I see coming by 2020-2030, although it will take longer than that for all the landed ice to melt.

        Big change coming . . .

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