Saturday, June 07, 2008

a meandering dawdle, finally about the weather

I don’t work for Mister Krudd, I prefer to work for myself, at my own snail’s pace, and I’ve always been a dawdler and a dreamer. I remember as a kid, walking to school. Younger kids, disabled kids, parents with kids in tow, they all steamed by, leaving me dawdling in their wake, wondering at the cracks in the footpath, dreading arrival. I heard the teacher say something interesting, and I took it and retreated into the little back room of my brain, poked and prodded it, tried to find uses for it, tried to fit it into other bits and pieces I’d secreted there, and when finally I emerged, the lesson was over and people were packing up to go home. I suppose that means that I don’t share Mr Krudd’s work ethic. Maybe I don’t share anything, just horde and forget. I’ve forgotten why I sat down here. To put my queer shoulder to the wheel? To forget, more like. But I have looked up this and that, learned that I don’t understand much, such as how to interpret the climate change data. Some are saying that the global climate has cooled in the last ten years, others are saying that’s bunk, and everybody is interpreting it differently, and I’m not at all sure what I mean by it, since nobody seems to agree on it, and there are so many different data sets.

Outgoing longwave radiation is somewhere in the mix, and this is affected by the presence of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide, methane and water vapour. OLR is the amount of energy leaving the earth at low levels. It almost equals the shortwave absorbed radiation coming in from the sun. We should apparently be grateful for this balance.

Research suggests, apparently, that the uptake of CO2 by the oceans, particularly, or specifically, the North Atlantic, which is an intense sink for CO2, has been slowing, though of course too little is known to make many inferences from this – as to whether it is cyclical or has been affected by GW or AGW, etc.

It’s shown here and elsewhere, by those more expert than myself, that the recent coolness – a particularly cold northern winter – was due to it being a La Nina year. It seems that this La Nina, the first since 1998, has been a ‘textbook case’, though of course its effects on life in the oceans will be influenced by a variety of other climate-change patterns.

Those who say that AGW is bunk, or even that GW is bunk because nothing out of the ordinary is happening – taking millennia into account rather than a few years of monitoring – seem to be showing extraordinary complacency in the light of worsening King Tides in Tuvalu, accelerated melting of the Greenland ice cap, rising temperatures in the atmosphere above Antarctica and so forth. Sure you can always find conflicting data, and the scientists themselves are ever-concerned about the quality of climate modelling, but the trends are surely unmistakable, and we can always throw our hands up and say, this is all within the bounds of normal and so what if a few species get wiped out even maybe our own, but the fact is we don’t have a death-of-our-species wish, and we can reverse the degrading situation, so let’s start looking to solutions. There comes a time when scepticism becomes self-defeating, we all know that.

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