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back to article Decade to 2010 was hottest, wettest: WMO

Not only was the decade 2001-2010 characterised by extremes, according to the World Meteorological Organisation: there were more records broken in more places in the world than at any other time for which records exist. The WMO's report, which should but probably won't put paid to the idea that warming has stopped, is announced …

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Pint

Where's that...

... popcorn icon...?

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Trollface

but... but...

Lewis keeps telling us warming stalled in the '90s! Is science proving him wrong? Surely not!

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Devil

Numbers?

"The northern hemisphere's combined land-sea warming for the decade is put at +0.6°C, with the southern hemisphere lagging somewhat at +0.33°C, the report states."

The graph shows the combined land-sea temperature decade in question at 14.47, compared to 14.26 for the previous one, ie 0.21 degrees. How can both the northern and southern hemispheres have warming above the average? Is there a third hemisphere hidden down the back of the sofa?

Of course, Yes the earth is warming and yes, CO2 that we emit is mostly responsible, and yes, we need to start using non-carbon energy on a massive scale. Damn those hippies and nimbys blocking nuclear power!

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Unhappy

Can we really reduce emissions??

I suspect that as a species we have some sort of hardwiring to prioritise the "now" over the "later" (which explains repeated financial crises, pension time bombs, procrastination etc) which means that even if it's massively cheaper to act now to address climate change than adapt / clean up after, we'll still end up paying $100 later because we don't want to pay $10 now.

I also suspect that as a species we are hard-wired to favour self and peer-group interests over the interests of a larger group, meaning that very few people will be willing to sacrifice their personal comfort for the collective good.

Both these factors working together make it extremely difficult for any concrete action to take place even if a vast majority does really believe that global warming is happening and that we caused it.

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Re: Numbers?

Nuclear is a horse that been dead for years. We don't need it and we can't afford it and we have no idea what to do with the 300,000 tons of nuclear waste we've already had in 'temporary storage' for the last 50 years. The only people still psuging for that filthy dinosaur technology are the people who sell it - and the gullible dupes ignorant enough to fall for the old BS.

There is enough solar energy hits this planet in an hour to power all of humanity for a year.

You really think it is beyond the wit of man to harness about 0.0001% of it.

We already have the technology, the space and the free thermo-nuclear reactor.

The only thing stopping us is the political will and the vested interests in the carbon industry.

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"Is science proving him wrong?"

Well, no, because there's no way a temperature increase from 2000 to 2010 can prove that temperatures didn't increase in the 90s. (Although there's always the possibility that, not being a climatologist, I'm not qualified to comment on the complex mathematics at play here.)

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FAIL

Re: but... but...

Temps 'cooler' form 1991-1995, flat from 1996-2012, but given the inability for the average person to grasp simple math concepts few will understand this in the face of propaganda claiming it's been getting warmer.

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Re: Numbers?

The construction cost for nuclear power is too expensive and we STILL don't have a permanent site to store the waste.

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Flame

Re: but... but...

Talk about out of touch with reality! Temps both sea and atmospheric are on their way up, we're seeing a global meltdown, summers are longer, storms are stronger, seas are rising, and the ocean is becoming more acidic. This is reality no matter how bad some don't want to accept it.

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Re: Numbers?

"The graph shows the combined land-sea temperature decade in question at 14.47, compared to 14.26 for the previous one, ie 0.21 degrees. How can both the northern and southern hemispheres have warming above the average?"

The 0.6C and 0.33C figures given are not the difference between 1990-2000 and 2000-2010, but the difference of 2000-2010 relative to 1970-2000.

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And here we have the proof that warmists know nothing about science:

summers are longer

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Re: Numbers?

"The construction cost for nuclear power is too expensive"

Yes, compared to coal-fired or combined-cycle gas. How about compared to the equivalent generation capacity in solar panels? Or compared to not having the energy when required?

Re waste AFAIK, newer generations of nuclear plants exist that can use existing nuclear waste for fuel, massively cutting down on waste products. At that point you just need a disused mine shaft and a whole bunch of concrete. There are no technical issues to long-term storage, just political and NIMBY ones

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Flame

Re: Numbers?

>There is enough solar energy hits this planet in an hour to power all of humanity for a year.

>You really think it is beyond the wit of man to harness about 0.0001% of it.

I'm just waiting for the day when we realize that capturing all of this solar energy and turning it into heat is warming the Earth. Then everyone will start crying about "man made heat pollution" from solar energy and run around protesting houses with solar panels*.

* Yea, I'm a solar powered "heat polluter", what of it you hippies?

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Re: Numbers?

It's Obama's fault, right? Elect us real conservatives and the problem will go away.

The complaints, anyway. The complainers, if we can arrange it. Vive les companies.

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Re: Numbers?

We found a place for the waste from burning coal didn't we?

Cough, splutter, hack, hack, hack ... thhhhplat.

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Stop

The question isn't whether or not the climate is changing. Of course it's changing. It's been changing ever since the Earth accreted an atmosphere 4 billion years ago. I'd be very concerned if it had stopped changing!

Will the ice caps melt and glaciers disappear? Probably. There were no ice caps for long stretches during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and at other times more recently as well. There have been other times where the ice caps extended almost to the tropics. Given the lack of moisture and living space that would entail, I think we can be glad the Earth is in a warming-up phase.

No, the real questions are: How much of this warming is part of a natural climate change process and how much of it is due to human activity? As with all political arguments, people tend to move toward extremes; oil companies claim none of it is due to human activity, treehuggers claim all of it is. The reality is most likely somewhere in between, and exactly where that lies is the main issue, because it determines what we can or cannot do about it.

Acceding to the treehuggers' wishes that we should give up using technology, eating meat, and revert to being vegan cave-dwellers isn't the solution. Neither is hiking the price of electricity to the point where lighting your house becomes a prerogative of the rich. Even if we went these roads, the planet would likely continue warming, because it's still coming out of the last ice age. That means sea levels are going to rise, places like Florida are going to end up as the new Atlantis, and there's going to be lots of rain in lots more places, whether we do anything about it or not. The only thing we can do, whether we revert to hunter-gatherer or cover every square metre of the planet with wind turbines and solar panels, is slow the process down by a miniscule amount.

So rather than destroying civilisation in the name of saving the planet, we should be looking at how we can adapt to the changes that are coming. We need to look at what crops and animals will flourish in a warmer wetter climate, so we can continue to feed ourselves. We need to start moving population centres away from low-lying areas, or terraforming those areas against encroaching sea levels (like the Netherlands have been doing successfully for a long time now!) We need to start preparing for, and adapting to, the changes that are coming.

Not running around like headless chickens hoping to stop the inevitable changes by plastering windmills all over the landscape and raising electric and fuel bills to the level of the GDP of a small country.

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The climate's not changing!

Oh, it is?

Well, then we're not doing it!!

Oh, we are?

Well, then there's nothing we can do!!!

Oh, there is?

It's going to ruin us all!!!!

Oh, we're ruined if we don't?

We need to learn to adapt!!!!!

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The only thing we can do . . . is slow the process down by a miniscule amount.

The commonly-shown hockey stick graphs would suggest that the rate of natural warming is indeed miniscule (in the context of a human lifespan) but that the rate of anthropogenic warming is significant. If* these graphs are correct then prevention of further anthropogenic warming ought to be cheaper and easier than dealing with the effects.

*that's the "if" which generates the most debate**.

** I'm being generous when I say "debate".

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Well done!

Well done, about time someone stated the obvious.

The world has been getting warmer on and off, since the middle of the last Ice Age, about 13 million years ago. Doubtless it will continue to do so until it reaches some, as yet unknown tipping point. Then it will start to cool down towards the next ice age, as it has many times before.

All the same, cleaning up our act a bit can't be a bad thing overall. How the "Greens" can honestly think it will really make much difference to the world climate, I do not know!

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Something I've never seen properly addressed anywhere, as estimates seem to range hugely:

What's the economic cost of not addressing warming now, and cleaning up / adapting as we go along?

vs

What's the economic cost of vastly reducing emissions to keep CO2 levels down and using more expensive energy, plus cleaning up after / adapting to changes that will happen anyway with current warming?

I know that of course there are other costs, eg losing biodiversity if we go ahead, loss of standard of living if we cut emissions etc etc... but at least some dollar amounts over a 100-year span, to get a starting perspective.

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There are valid reasons for the great variation in estimates.

Your first question cannot be answered (correctly), as to do so we'd need to know what our technological capabilities will be in the coming decades. If someone invents a device that will cheaply and quickly convert atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane, etc. to solid carbon (of any type); then the economic cost is very low. If we manage to release all the deep sea or permafrost methane at once due to reaching a "tipping point", then the cost is very high.

Your second question is easier to answer, but obviously for valid comparisons, it's useless on its own.

(If I was in charge, I'd order a fuckload of fission power stations built for the medium term, with Drax-style coal plants for those that can't afford nuclear; and throw money at fusion, algal/bacterial biofuels, and atmospheric CO2 scrubbing.)

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Anonymous Coward

@Sorry that handle is already taken.

Sorry but you trip at the first hurdle.

It was climate scientists promoting the idea that we're responsible for warming that first seemed to moot the concept of a static climate. The infamous and debunked hockey stick smoothed out and eliminated almost all of the natural variation found in climate proxy records and seemed to claim that humans - and only humans - could have such a huge effect on climate. If you go back to the data and not the dubious statistical manipulations of it, there have been temperature swings far wider and of far longer duration than the miniscule changes we've seen over the last century. And they do not correlate with CO2 levels. At all.

Temperatures now don't correlate with CO2 either, except for a brief period in the 90s that is starting to look more than a little coincidental.

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Re: @Sorry that handle is already taken.

@Ac: Straw man, much? Climate scientists acknowledge the wide variations of climate differences in the past. As to:

" there have been temperature swings far wider and of far longer duration than the miniscule changes we've seen over the last century."

Yes, that's correct, but what is of concern is not the magnitude and duration of the swings, it's the rate of change. In the past temperatures have fluctuated by several degrees, but done so over the course of tens of thousands of years. It's the RATE of temperature rise that's unprecedented

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Good question, but it misses a vital point if you want to compare the efficacy of the two approaches. Given that the climate would change regardless of humans, and given that some such changes would not be to the advantage of humans, isn't it wiser to develop solutions to cope with climate change than to try and stop human-caused climate change? The Greens' best-case scenario is that we drastically cut all carbon-dioxide emissions right now and prevent any further change to the climate that would have been caused by those emissions. That's all very well, but what if we do that and then the climate changes anyway (as it always has) due to volcanic activity or sunspots or whatever, and the change is bad for us, and all the time and money we could have spent on developing effective mitigation solutions we instead blew on reducing emissions? Wouldn't we all feel bloody stupid then?

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Dear oh dear.

Not the old "the climate's changed before" meme. Can't you do better than that?

It's important to know there are a number of different forces acting on the Earth’s climate. When the sun gets brighter, the planet receives more energy and warms. When volcanoes erupt, they emit particles into the atmosphere which reflect sunlight, and the planet cools. When there are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the planet warms. It's worth remembering that without some greenhouse gas the Earth would be a ball of ice.

These forces are called "forcings" because they force changes in the global average temperature.

Looking at the past gives us insight into how our climate responds to such forcings. Using ice cores, for instance, we can work out past temperature changes, the level of solar activity, and the amount of greenhouse gases and volcanic dust in the atmosphere. Looking at many different periods and timescales including many thousands of years ago we've learned that when the Earth gains heat, glaciers and sea ice melt resulting in a positive feedbacks that amplify the warming. There are other positive feedbacks as well and this is why the planet has experienced such dramatic changes in temperature in the past.

In summary the past reveals our climate is highly sensitive to small changes in heat.

What does that mean for today? Over the past 150 years greenhouse gas levels have increased 40 percent mainly from burning of fossil fuels. This additional "forcing" is warming the planet more than it has in thousands of years. From Earth's history, we know that positive feedbacks will amplify this additional warming.

The Earth's climate has changed in the past and ice cores and other measures tell us why. Based on this knowledge, and other types of evidence we know the human emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the climate

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Re: @Sorry that handle is already taken.

Popular misconception. Our best dating techniques can only give a window in which a change took place, but the time it took for the change could be any period, a second or a thousand years, as long as it fits within that window. That is mainly due to the uncertainty range of our dating methods. If we say the temps warmed up between thirty and fifty thousand years ago, it only means it didn't happen further back that fifty thousand years, and no sooner than thirty thousand. The event itself could be overnight. I saw Bill Nye handed his head by a scientist on live TV for not understanding that.

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Good start. Take it up a notch. Have both the temps and CO2 levels been higher in the past? Yes, both have been much higher. What was the effect on life? It thrived and became more diverse. Has the earth had lower levels of temps and CO2? Yes. What was the effect? Mass extinctions.

We're worried about the wrong thing. We are worried about CO2 levels of .04%. It was 5% when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Higher levels of temps and/or CO2 is simply not a problem, regardless of what raises those levels

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Anonymous Coward

"It was 5% when dinosaurs roamed the earth"

Yeah, but the dinosaurs had very few costal cities, whereas 90%+ of humans live in cities near a coastline.

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Coastal cities

So, worst case, people have to move. Not overnight, but over a period of a century or more that it would take for sea level rises to become enough of a problem for coastal cities (other than places like New Orleans, that are already largely below sea level) to become too much trouble to continue to inhabit.

More likely, rather than fleeing, they'll use tried and true technologies like seawalls and pumps that already work. Hopefully built to Dutch specs rather than New Orleans specs in areas where big hurricanes are a possibility.

Which is more reasonable? That billions of people have to make adjustments in their lifestyle and/or economically to stop a problem that we aren't 100% sure is caused by human activity and aren't 100% sure even major changes in our lifestyles could stop at this point? Or that millions of people, living in the affected coastal cities, might have to give up some of their nice views to allow the construction of seawalls?

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Graphics without error bars?

Dammit guys!

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Re: Graphics without error bars?

Error bars would be good. If you look at page 3 of The Sun, sorry, page 3 of the PDF you will see the numbers are given as ± 0.1°C. This is a small enough margin that the graph is meaningful. http://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_1119_en.pdf

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Re: Graphics without error bars?

There are never any error bounds in Climate Science graphs. They are always accurate and perfect.

</sarc>

Seriously, I'm not sure how they could justify presenting a global average temperature for pre-1900 to anything like +-10 degrees, which would just make the whole thing look ridiculous.

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sadly

A sobering fact is that unless there is some miracle breakthrough with fusion or some other technology it will be virtually impossible to live anything like our current lifestyles nearly carbon emitting free without nuclear fission. The other even more sobering fact is right now its mostly the 3rd world doing most of the carbon polluting and I am not sure how I feel about more nuclear reactors in say Africa.

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Re: sadly

>nuclear reactors in say Africa

Or even worst the middle east. I guess its a good thing that they produce so little GDP (all of middle east minus Israel produce less GDP than Spain) so they don't really need that much energy.

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WTF?

Re: sadly

If you don't "produce" much GDP you don't need much energy???

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Re: sadly

I think you will find if you look around the world energy use by a nation has a strong correlation to GDP. Its more if you don't produce much (and no commodities don't count for much GDP, they just look flashy in that part of the world because they go to handful of people) you can't afford the energy. This is true even though many in the region produce energy. They have had to cut back greatly on energy subsidies to the commoners as they want/need to sell it on to the rich countries for full price. That and of course Islam and nuclear energy go over about as well as a turd in a punch bowl.

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Re: sadly

Can't afford ≠ don't need. Yes there is the strong correlation you mention, I was only questioning the idea that poor people don't "need" as much as rich people: the poor can't afford as much even though their needs as humans are the same.

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Re: sadly

My mistake Spain had as much GDP as all Arab countries combined (stats before the recession) not all the middle east. Unlike many Americans I understand there is a big difference. Farsi for instance don't much like being called Arabs. Still most in the region still suffer from the disease that is Islam (which is a GDP killer) but off on a tangent now.

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Re: sadly

Yeah China for instance uses much more than you would guess based on the income of their people but they are using a large portion of it to make stuff for the developed world.

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Re: sadly

Africans have as much right to operate nuclear power stations as most of the rest of the world; worrying about it is a problem for these guys: http://www.iaea.org/

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Re: sadly

@asdf: Still most in the region still suffer from the disease that is Islam

Get a fucking grip. You clearly know nothing about Islam and I seriously doubt you've ever met any Muslems, let alone count any as friends.

Go and look at some science history and then think about what you've said.

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Re: sadly

Funny, I would say the same thing about Christians. (No, I am not a Muslim.)

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Re: worrying about it is a problem for these guys

SEP fields only work in Douglas Adams stories.

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Re: Go and look at some science history

Don't need to. I learned the memes about the Muslims saving science for us in the Dark ages back in school. Unfortunately for those memes I can also see the state of the world today, which is the practical experiment in the outcomes of the differing world views of the two religions. And much as you clueless Europeans and your American counterparts have an ism akin to antisemitism, the result is that science flourishes wherever you have Christianity while it diminishes where Islamism holds sway.

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Re: Go and look at some science history

"the result is that science flourishes wherever you have Christianity while it diminishes where Islamism holds sway."

I think you are mistaking correlation for causation.

Europe jumped ahead on science before anywhere else and once you are ahead it's harder for others to get in on the game. Especially because the advances bring prosperity which can be fed back into funding more science. At the same time European countries are using their power to exploit other countries in the world, holding their own political progress back.

Europe happens to be traditionally Christian. But it would be wrong to conclude that Christianity is the cause, or that different religions elsewhere are what has prohibited other countries getting there first.

Afterall the ancient greeks, the chinese. It clearly isn't a religion that caused science to flourish in those cases. Possibly the lack of religion helps, or at least religion not interfering in science. But it isn't enough on it's own.

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Re: Go and look at some science history

@Tom: Your ignorance of science history isn't made better by claiming it's "a meme".

Seriously, the vast majority of everything that Christian Europe has achieved is built on what the Muslim Arab world gave us sometimes hundreds of years before. Science is alive and well in the Muslim world, that you aren't aware of that doesn't change it and certainly doesn't make it "a meme".

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So...

Despite the scary orange colour of the more recent bars on the graphs, that appears to show around 1C in warming over 130 years. Which is quite some way from the OMGWTFLOLALLUNDERWATERBYTHURSDAY Doomageddon scenarios we're being promised

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Re: So...

We may or may not be facing 'OMGWTFLOLALLUNDERWATERBYTHURSDAY Doomageddon scenarios we're being promised' but, I am still going to keep my kayak on the roof of my LandRover along with a paddle and a packet of crisps.

Can't be too prepared you know!

Why is there no icon for The End Of The World As We Know It ? ( TEOTWAWKI as the survival forums put it)

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