IPCC: Greenhouse Gases Continue To Warm The Globe

In case you forgot, greenhouse gases continue to warm the globe. For those of us who value the scientific method over opinion, we are all too aware that this planet we call Earth is heating up, and we are the reason it is happening.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”

All of these things are observable, that is, if you choose to do the observing yourself. If you do not, then I’m afraid opinion is a poor substitute. It is not an opinion that climate change is real and we are the cause, it is an observable, testable, scientific fact. The climatologists aren’t resorting to opinion, but are you?

Observations of the climate system are based on direct measurements and remote sensing from satellites and other platforms. Global-scale observations from the instrumental era began in the mid-19th century for temperature and other variables, with more comprehensive and diverse sets of observations available for the period 1950 onwards. Paleoclimate reconstructions extend some records back hundreds to millions of years. Together, they provide a comprehensive view of the variability and long-term changes in the atmosphere, the ocean, the cryosphere, and the land surface. – IPCC

But you are free to take your own measurements and do your own testing of course. But if you choose not to, don’t sit there and think the rest of us have to take your opinion seriously. If you aren’t willing to put in the hard work, then I’m afraid you will have to do what the rest of humanity does, we defer to the experts. That’s the way society works. There’s no human being that knows all of human knowledge. There is not a single human being that does not defer to expertise.

The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C, over the period 1880 to 2012, when multiple independently produced datasets exist. The total increase between the average of the 1850–1900 period and the 2003–2012 period is 0.78 [0.72 to 0.85] °C, based on the single longest dataset available. – IPCC

What do your measurements show?

Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence). – IPCC

When was the last time you traveled to Greenland or Antarctica?

There is high confidence that permafrost temperatures have increased in most regions since the early 1980s. Observed warming was up to 3°C in parts of Northern Alaska (early 1980s to mid-2000s) and up to 2°C in parts of the Russian European North (1971 to 2010). In the latter region, a considerable reduction in permafrost thickness and areal extent has been observed over the period 1975 to 2005 (medium confidence). – IPCC

And this is nothing to mess with, because if we start losing significant permafrost to a warming planet, it creates a feedback loop, due to the natural gas trapped in the permafrost, this includes methane.

Permafrost In a Warming World – Weather Underground

In moist areas, most of the emissions will be of methane, a greenhouse gas that has 20 to 25 times more warming power than carbon dioxide. As the ground warms, methane will either be released directly into the atmosphere or bacteria will break it down into carbon dioxide, which will then be released. If areas of thawed permafrost exist at depth between frozen layers, it’s possible that microbial activities will continue unabated, even during the winter, to create new methane from organic material.

We know living and breathing human beings are already being displaced by rising seas, something that will only get worse in the coming decades.

Since the early 1970s, glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion from warming together explain about 75% of the observed global mean sea level rise (high confidence). Over the period 1993 to 2010, global mean sea level rise is, with high confidence, consistent with the sum of the observed contributions from ocean thermal expansion due to warming (1.1 [0.8 to 1.4] mm yr), from changes in glaciers (0.76 [0.39 to 1.13] mm yr), Greenland ice sheet (0.33 [0.25 to 0.41] mm yr), Antarctic ice sheet (0.27 [0.16 to 0.38] mm yr), and land water storage (0.38 [0.26 to 0.49] mm yr). The sum of these contributions is 2.8 [2.3 to 3.4] mm yr. – IPCC

Again I ask, what are your instruments showing you?

Let me tell you what I’ve noticed when it comes to this conversation about climate change. It seems we never get into these arguments when it comes to things that we can sense and observe for ourselves. For example, nobody is questioning if scientists are right about gravity. Why? Because we test its effects every day of our lives. When you need an operation, you aren’t going to defer it until you earn your MD/PhD, then spend years in residency, just to confirm your surgeon knows what he’s talking about. And that’s because you defer to his expertise. We do it all the time in everyday life. Why is it so hard for some people to do this when it comes to climate change?

I think the reason climate change is difficult for some people, causing them to fall back to opinion, is that it requires observation over long periods of time relative to a human lifespan, and that is something human beings have a hard time grasping. Because the observable effects of climate change require decades, centuries, and longer, it allows the crackpots all the uncertainty they need (not that climate scientists are uncertain). The crackpots take advantage of ignorance, because of course the average person is not a climate scientist. So the crackpot’s mission is to create doubt, and the hyperbole they use to create this doubt requires not a shred of evidence. Because after all, who is going to spend the time to do this research? But we can all play the crackpot’s game, all we need to do is use our imagination. My crackpot example: I posit that global warming is no more sinister than God giving us a big hug, and hey, this really isn’t that far from what some people have said on the floor of congress, and they are never wrong, right? And how exactly could you disprove this anyway? After all, maybe ice cap melting, changing weather patterns, and rising seas are truly the result of God’s warm embrace.

See how that works? Not a shred of evidence. And yes, some will believe it.

But how can I trust scientists you ask?

How can I trust scientists? How can I trust Neil deGrasse Tyson is an expert on astrophysics? How can I trust Richard Dawkins is an expert on biology? How can I trust climatologists like James Hansen are experts on climate change?

On a given topic like climate change, if you reject the overwhelming consensus of science, the only thing you have left is philosophy, or worse, religion. But if you value science, and you understand the scientific method is our only unbiased process to find the truth, then that should satisfy the above questions. So how can we defer to scientists? How can we defer to James Hansen or Neil deGrasse Tyson? Maybe you need to stop looking at it that way. What you need to do is offer deference to their credentials, and to their expertise. And if that’s not good enough for you, well, I’m afraid you will never get a satisfying answer to anything without a massive dose of self-deception. And I guess this is why some people are much happier in the world of religious doctrine. For some, it’s easier to just turn the brain off entirely on these big issues, and instead accept things on faith alone. But the warming planet doesn’t care about your faith.

So I think I’ll put my money on the people who want to “know,” instead of the people who want to “believe.” And unless I decide to pursue a career in a particular area of science, I’m okay with deferring to the experts within that field. Religious people mistake this for faith, but it’s not faith, it’s practicality. — It’s not faith, because I’m not deferring to a group of people who themselves have decided things on faith, I’m deferring to a group of people who do not resort to faith, but instead employ an objective means to find answers, the scientific method.

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