The Earth is Heating Up
Columbia River Gorge Forest Fire

The last 19 hottest years have occurred in this century.

GLOBAL TEMPERATURES INCREASING

On January 15, 2020, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported: Earth’s warming trend continued in 2019, making it the second-hottest year in NOAA’s 140-year climate record just behind 2016. … just 0.07 of a degree F (0.04 of a degree C) cooler than the 2016 record.”

The world’s five warmest years have all occurred since 2015 with nine of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

And “The period 2001-2010 (0.490°C above the 1961-90 average) was 0.216°C warmer than the 1991-2000 decade (0.274°C above the 1961-90 average).”

Hence warming has continued beyond the decades prior to 2010.

Further, temperature record varies by year. So real climate scientists show the trend over longer periods as well as establishing recent trends. Thus, the data shows 2019 “was also the 43rd consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures, at least nominally, above average.”

The last 19 hottest years have occurred in the 21st (this) century.
The current consensus is “Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities are most likely the underlying cause of warming in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The warmth or coldness of individual years is strongly influenced by whether there was an El Niño or a La Niña event occurring in the equatorial Pacific Ocean (See this link for an explanation of this El Niño/La Niña effect. )

Ocean heat content, which describes the amount of heat stored in the upper-levels of the ocean, was the highest ever recorded in 2019. High ocean-heat content can contribute to sea-level rise.

The declining state of sea ice: Polar sea ice coverage continued its downward trend in 2019. Both the Arctic and Antarctic oceans recorded their second-smallest average annual sea-ice coverage during the 1979–2019 period of record.

December 2019 was near-record warm: The month was in fact Earth’s second-hottest December on record, logging an average temperature 1.89 degrees F (1.05 degrees C) above the 20th-century average. Only December 2015 was warmer.

In a database of 3,116 cities provided by AccuWeather, about 90 percent of them were warmer than normal. Enter your city at the link to see how much warmer than normal it was in 2015. (Missoula, MT was 1.4 degrees hotter with 7  record highs and no record lows.)

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Link showing how denialists misuse statistics to wrongly contend  that the earth’s not warming.

2014 Columbia River Gorge Forest Fire
2014 Columbia River Gorge Forest Fire. Photo used by permission of Gary Braasch. For more pictures by Gary on effects of climate change click here.

Page updated 2/9/2020.

Consensus -- Too Much CO2
Paris dec 12 2015 climate rally

It’s not one person versus another in the climate debate, it’s 97 climate scientists versus 3.

In the photo above, thousands  support the landmark December 12, 2015, Paris Climate Accord which was unanimously approved by 196 countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions. As of March 27, 2020, 188 of those nations and the EU (accounting for 97.1% of global GHG emissions) had ratified the Accord. Photo by Yann Levy on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/350org/23589281472/

In this site, links to supporting references are bracketed [ ].

This 4:24 minute  video proves with satellite data, the consensus view that CO2 prevents more sunlight from leaving earth’s atmosphere than comes into it .

Below we list who supports the consensus view that excess CO2 (produced mostly by burning fossil fuel), [1a]   [1b] is warming our planet beyond safe levels, namely:  
A. Scientists & Government Officials:
  • 196 countries unanimously agreeing to Paris Climate Accord
  • 97% of climate scientists, [3a]   [3b]   [3c]   [3d]   [3e]
  • the National Academies of Science from 80 countries,
  • 18 American scientific organizations, [4] and
  • 4 (Republican) former Environmental Protection Agency administrators. [5]
100 percent clean energy is the level climate scientists say we must reach by 2050 to quell global warming. Montana  only required 15% in 2015.
Melting Permafrost in Shishmaref, Alaska & Link to More Pictures Like This

 

Melting Permafrost in Shishmaref, Alaska. Used with permission of Gary Braasch. Click Link to More Pictures Like This

B. Faith Communities concerned about eco-justice issues raised by global warming, which disproportionately harms the poor as is now happening in places where rising seas can erode up to 50 feet a year from areas previously protected by the now melting permafrost as shown by Gary Braasch in his Shishmaref picture.

  • the Pope and many Catholics, [6a]   [6b]   [6c]
  • the [348 member] World Council of Churches, [7a]  which also endorses divestment from fossil fuels, [7b]
  • Rick Warren, author of “A Purpose Driven Life,” and hundreds of other Evangelical leaders, like climate scientist Katharine Heyhoe (named in  Time Magazine’s  2014 “100 Most Influential People,” [8a]   [8b]   [8c]   [8d]   [8e] Katherine notes you don’t have to believe in climate science just like you don’t have to believe in gravity, nevertheless, “if you step off a cliff, you are going down.”
  • Episcopalians [9a] who also voted to divest from fossil fuel holdings, [9b]
  • Jews, [10a]   [10b]
  • Lutherans [11a] and its LWF which also is divesting from fossil fuel holdings, [11b]
  • Methodists [12a] who also voted to divest from fossil fuel holdings, [12b]
  • Presbyterians, [13]
  • Southern Baptists, [14a] [14b]
  • the United Church of Christ, [15a] which also voted to divest from fossil fuel holdings,  [15b] and
  • 10 other individual denominations [16a] or churches (Baha’i, Buddhist, Church of the Brethren, Eastern Orthodox, Mennonite, Quaker, Hindu, Muslin, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist), some of which also voted to divest from fossil fuel holdings. [16b]
C. Studies warning of threats to US national security within the next 20 years posed by climate-change-caused political instability, mass refugee migration, terrorism, or conflicts over water and other resources by:  [17a]   [17b]   [17c]
  • the National Intelligence Council (NIC) (classified study for Congress),
  • Council on Foreign Relations, [18]
  • Center for Navel Analysis, [19a]   [19b]
  • CIA,
  • US Defense Department, [20a]   [20b] and
  • Institute for Strategic Studies. [21]

D. Healthcare Unions cautioning that human health costs of adding more C02 to our atmosphere are too high–increasing asthma rates and enlarging the range of disease-bearing insects that once thrived only in warmer climates. [22a]   [22b]   [22c]  In Africa, malaria currently kills a child every 30 seconds. [23] Climate change will expand the habitat of tropical mosquitoes that carry malaria, adding 80 million cases annually to that toll. When the Tennessee Valley Authority was created in 1933, malaria infected 30% of the region’s inhabitants. Use of DDT, which is no longer considered safe, eradicated malaria in the US by 1951. [24] However, in areas where climate change produces the torrential rains that exacerbate stagnant water pools, there is a risk that malaria could return.

Picture of CO2 Measurement at Mauna Loa, HI, 2011.

 

CO2 Measurement at Mauna Loa, HI, 2011, used by permission of Gary Braasch. Click picture to enlarge, or here for more pictures of climate science labs.

Most members of the groups mentioned above know CO2 has now reached its highest level in millions of years (415 ppm, up from 280 ppm in 1958). [25d] [25a]   [25b]   [25c]  It will continue getting worse and more costly if we do nothing about it, requiring more government intervention to abate it in the future than if we deal with it in a timely manner now. [26] (Listen to footnote 26 commentary by Dr. Michael Mann at 21:40 minutes into interview)

You’ll learn how to lend practical, effective support for this ballot initiative requiring 80% of the electricity provided by Montana’s investor-owned utilities to come from the sun and wind or other renewable energy resources, much of it coming from your own rooftop.

Link to Debunking Climate Denialists

 

Photo by FAVE @ Flickr.com Link to Debunking Climate Denialists

And, we’ll burst the bubbles of climate denier rhetoric that attempt to cast doubt on the overwhelming consensus and link you to the science behind that consensus.

“The new renewable energy capacity installed worldwide in 2016 was 161 GW, a 10% rise on 2015 and a new record.” according to The Guardian.  This put global renewable energy capacity at 921 GW excluding hydropower; 2,017 GW including hydropower. Renewables investment remained larger than for fossil fuels despite subsidies for coal, oil, and natural gas remaining higher.

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Renewables 2017 report predicts renewable energy capacity will expand by more than 920 gigawatts – by 2022.

Projected 2022 % of Renewable Electric Energy by Country

 

Projected 2022 % of Renewable Electric Energy by Country
Despite the world’s average annual 1.5% increase in energy consumption in recent years and average 3% growth in Gross Domestic Product, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2014 were unchanged from 2013 levels. For the first time in four decades, the world economy grew without a parallel rise in CO2 emissions. “
Photo of huge ballon the size of a tonne of CO2.

 

Click the above picture to help reduce CO2 emissions by letting us know you want to sign the paper copy of the Initiative, to put the 80% renewable electricity by 2034 Initiative on Montana’s 2020 ballot or to help gather signatures. Photo used by permission of Gary Braasch.  Click Link to More Pictures Like This.

Link to text of December 12, 2015, Paris Climate Agreement Draft.

Information on I-187 is in “about” tab (right hand side of top menu)

This page updated 3/27/20.

REFERENCES

This will link you to references found in this page. See footer for explanation of reference notations.

IPCC Science Consensus is Sound
Photo of IPCC Reports

All authors & 195 IPCC government member countries agree on multiple climate reports.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC)
CONCLUSIONS ARE BASED ON SOLID SCIENCE.

Metropolitan State University of Denver Meteorology Professor, Keah Schuenemann, explains:

“The IPCC is organized by the United Nations. Since 1990, they’ve produced five [major] reports [and recent ‘Synthesis Reports’ prepared in advance of the 2022 IPCC ‘Sixth Assessment Report’]. Each [Assessment] “report” is actually a series of books, each almost 1000 pages. The books cover the physical science, the impacts adaptation and vulnerability, and the mitigation of climate change. The IPCC includes climate models from more than twenty different climate laboratories around the world, each with their own supercomputers. Each lab’s model is written independently from the others. They come from China, Norway, the United States, Canada, France, Australia, Germany, Korea, Russia, Japan, and the United Kingdom!

Photo of IPCC Reports
Photo of IPCC Reports, By IPCC used under the fair use standard.

“The IPCC puts the report through a rigorous review process where each sentence is scrutinized. It produces a report that all authors agree on, and that the governments of the member countries agree on. Because of this process, the IPCC reports tend to err on the side of being conservative.

“Here are three examples of the IPCC being conservative. First off, they’ve tended to underestimate how much greenhouse gases we’ll emit. In fact, the carbon dioxide concentration and emission rates measured in the last few years indicate that we are currently on the “worst case scenario” path. This suggests that the IPCC should adjust its scenarios to give a better sample of future emissions in order to imagine a worse worst-case, which it has done for the most recent [IPCC5] report.

Graph of Artic Sept ice extent
Graph from National Snow & Ice Data Center, nsdc.org/icelights/files/2011/02/Decline_chart.png, (CC) by-SA.

“The second example is Arctic sea ice decline. The area of ice covering the Arctic Ocean has been getting pretty small at the end of summer these days. Whenever this bright white ice melts, it reveals a darker ocean surface underneath it.

Graphic of sun's rays bouncing off open artic ocean.
Graphic of sun’s rays bouncing off open arctic ocean. PD by NASA SVS,

Dark ocean water absorbs more sunlight, making the system even warmer and melting even more ice. This is an amplifying feedback. If we graph the Arctic ice area at the end of summer each year, we find it’s decreasing *much quicker* than any climate model projected! This signifies that all of the climate models have underestimated the strength of this self-reinforcing cycle.

Chart of Sea Level Rise models v observations
Sea Level Rise Models vs. Observations, John Cook photo from sks.to/graphics, (CC) by SA

“The last example is sea level rise. Measurements indicate that sea level rise is accelerating faster than projected by climate models. Most recently, the IPCC estimate was 60% below the observed trend. When the fourth report of the IPCC came out, scientists studying glaciers had begun to report that their flow of ice discharge to the ocean was accelerating. Some glaciers were accelerating, others were not, and we didn’t really know why.

Photo of Moulin in Greenland
Moulin in Greenland drains glacial melt-water. Photo from NASA, NSIC, commons.wikimedia.org/, (CC) 0.

Giant meltwater lakes and drainage holes called moulins were observed on the Greenland ice sheet and fears were that the water might be getting to the ground, lubricating the ice sheet and its glaciers and causing it to accelerate its melt. Rather than include these dynamic ice melting processes in their sea level rise projections, the IPCC scientists decided they didn’t have enough information to include this effect properly. So they left it out entirely. This is a good example of their erring on the side of caution.”

Despite the cautious approach to stating scientific fact of the IPCC, one myth distorts the evidence by contending that IPCC reports are alarmist, using inaccurate climate models to exaggerate the danger of global warming in order to cause needless worry. This myth uses the technique of adopting a conspiracy theory in an attempt to discredit your opponents. That is, some people believe the scientists of the IPCC are conspiring to trick people about the effects of global warming. If that were true, it would require collusion between 20 climate laboratories in several countries.

The Fifth  IPCC Report cited 9200 scientific publications. It was drafted by 809 lead and contributing authors (including Montana’s own Dr. Steve Running, retired Regents Professor, Global Ecology, University of Montana who was a Chapter Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007), and went through three major iterations over three years after review by 1,089 scientific experts/editors who considered 54,677 comments before the Summary Report was finalized line by line by officials from 195 member governments. If those folks were all conspiring to trick people about the effects of global warming, it would be quite a conspiracy.

This “alarmist accusation myth” also uses cherry picking by citing isolated examples where the IPCC overestimated climate impacts. Dr. Schuenemann acknowledges, “There have been a few examples where the IPCC overestimated climate impacts. But overall, the cautious approach of the IPCC means it’s been systematically underestimating climate impacts.”

In reality, as authors of the peer reviewed article “Climate change prediction: Erring on the side of least drama?” discovered, the IPCC is 20 times more likely to underestimate rather than exaggerate climate impacts.

So, the accusations that the IPCC has been alarmist are themselves exaggerated.

CLICK HERE to let us know you understand how reliable climate is, that burning too much fossil fuel is changing the climate, and that you will join Dr. Running in signing the paper petition required to put the 80% renewable electricity by 2034 initiative on Montana’s 2020 general election ballot if we get you in touch with a signature gatherer.

Page last updated 2/9/2020.

Weather is Not The Same as Climate
Keah Schuenemann

Weather, the state of the atmosphere at a given point in time, is different from climate, the average weather over a long period of time.

A cold snap may lead some to joke that the climate is not warming. However, weather, the state of the atmosphere at a given point in time, is different from climate, the average weather over a long period of time.

Picture of Keah Schuenemann
Keah Schuenemann

“… [W]eather forecasts past five days should be taken with a grain of salt,” acknowledges Metropolitan State University of Denver’s meteorology Professor Keah Schuenemann, “but short term weather forecasts are extremely accurate and have improved dramatically.” [1] She explains:

“On the other hand, nailing the timing of weather events for a given location can be difficult. So the goal of a weather forecast is to tell you the temperature, precipitation, and cloud cover forecast for your exact position at an exact time in the near future. This is done using a variety of data from weather balloons, weather stations, and satellites that are put into a weather model.

The weather model consists of computer code that does calculations to get the forecast. The model divides the world up into blocks and the resolution, or the size of the blocks, is extremely important. …

hourly forecast
(CC) 0, NOAA, National Weather Service; www.weather.gov

And you also don’t want your storm forecast to be relegated to a low time resolution, like a day long. You’d rather have hourly or three-hourly forecasts to get a better idea of when the temperature will drop. Meteorologists analyze the results from several weather models to make the short term forecast.

Climate models … have *completely* different goals! Yes, climate models simulate weather systems and all of those useful variables that come out of a weather forecast. But the goal isn’t to tell you that the weather in … [Helena, Montana] on March 30 of the year 2050 will be a high of 0 degrees, a low of -5, and 10 centimeters of snow should fall between noon and 4:00.

The goal is to tell you that the average weather from the year 2080 to 2100 for spring over the central United States [east of the Rockies] will be an average temperature and range of such and such, this much average precipitation …. This is called the climate, the average of a bunch of weather over a long period of time.

IPCC climate model for earth warming and precipitation.
(c) IPCC AR% summary for policymakers figure SPM.07_rev1-01; www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/

To get these long-range projections, climate models are built differently than weather models. The climate is influenced by processes that happen over much longer time scales and bigger areas than weather. The climate models used in the IPCC reports, called Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation models, include many important earth systems. They take into account cycles such as the carbon cycle. They also include feedbacks including interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land that happen at a global scale.

Graphic of global climate model segments
PD, NOAA; celebrating 200years.noaa.gov/breakthroughs/climate_model/welcome.html . Click picture to enlarge.

Climate models tell us that the factors that control our everyday weather will be different in the future. So that’s how weather and climate models differ.”

Regrettably, one myth distorts the goals and capabilities of different modeling techniques in order to cast doubt on the usefulness of climate modeling. The myth is based on this misleading question: “Since computers can’t accurately predict weather two weeks from now, how can models predict what the Earth’s climate will be like in a hundred years?”

By using the emotion of disappointment in a failed weather forecast and raising the impossible expectation that models can’t predict whether or not it will snow on a certain day in a hundred years, the climate deniers have confused weather with climate in order to have you fall victim to their fallacy.

If Professor Schuenemann asked you to predict “the result of a coin flip. Heads or tails?” You would have a 50/50 chance of getting it right. If she asked you “predict the results of a million coin tosses?” You’d say about half would be heads and you’d be almost 100% correct. Her analogy demonstrates the difference between weather and climate predictions.

Asking you to apply your experience with weather forecasting (i.e., the next coin toss) to judging the validity of climate modeling (i.e., the average of a lot of coin tosses) relies on an inaccurate comparison. However, you now know, climate modeling, which compares long term average patterns over wide areas, reaches a completely different objective than weather modeling.

CLICK HERE to let us know you understand how reliable climate models indicate that burning too much fossil fuel is changing the climate, and that you will sign the petition to put the 80% renewable electricity by 2034 initiative on Montana’s 2020 general election ballot.

Excess CO2 Can Damage Agriculture
Drought-stunted soybeans in Missouri 2012. Used by permission of Gary Braasch. Click picture to enlarge.

The last 19 hottest years have occurred in this century.

Excess CO2 Damages Agriculture More Than It Helps Crops Grow
Drought Ravages Missouri Cornfield. Used by permission of Gary Braasch
One Good Ear in Drought Ravaged Missouri Cornfield. Used by permission of Gary Braasch. For more of Gary’s pictures on the effects of climate change, click here.

Sarah A. Green, Professor of Chemistry at Michigan Technological University explains:

“Plants need four key things to grow: light, water, carbon dioxide, and fertilizer. Anyone who has a farm, garden, or house plant knows that plants need the right balance of all of these things. No amount of fertilizer will help a plant that has no water.

Scientists studying the impacts of climate change on agriculture look at all aspects of the system. Of those four factors, light will change the least. But water is a big concern. Changing the climate changes where and when rain falls. Some areas become more wet and other areas become more dry. Rain might come too early or too late for crops. Hotter air holds more water, so when it rains, it pours. Floods wash away seeds and plants.

Picture of 4 items essential to plant growth
(CC) BY 0 pixabay.com OpenClips enquiries@uqx.uq.edu.au

Climate change can cause problems for fertilizer because heavy rain washes it out of the fields and down rivers. A common myth ignores that fact and claims that ‘CO2 is a plant food.’ This is an oversimplification. It chooses a single piece of a complicated problem and ignores the other parts. It’s like saying ‘humans need calcium so all you need to live on is ice cream’.

Carbon dioxide makes plants grow faster when they are in an ideal environment, like inside a greenhouse, where they have the right amount of water and fertilizer. But for the basic needs of plants, we need to consider carbon dioxide AND water.

It’s not enough to have the basic necessities of life. Plants also have to be safe from danger. One big danger for plants is hot temperatures. Our major agricultural crops have ideal temperature ranges. As the temperature goes up, crop yields go down. Plants are especially sensitive to extremely hot days.

Pictures of harmful bugs
Colorado Potato
beetle (CC) 0 ars.usda.gov Scott Bauer; USDA ARS
enquiries@uqx.uq.edu.au;
* Grapevine moth (CC) BY flickr.com/photos/wildreturn/13813642994/
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren enquiries@uqx.uq.edu.au; * Fusarium
verticillioides 01
(CC) 0 en.wikipedia.org Taragui enquiries@uqx.uq.edu.au

Some other creatures love hot weather. Unfortunately, many of them are pests like the Colorado potato beetle, the European grapevine moth, and a nasty wheat blight called FHB or fusarium head blight. Some pests, like FHB, even prefer the taste of crops that have grown with more CO2 and grow faster. Many pests are migrating north as the climate warms, into areas where they’ve never been seen before.

The overwhelming consensus among agricultural scientists is that the negative impacts of climate change on crops far outweigh the small benefit that plants gain from extra CO2.”

Additional heat will harm Montana’s agricultural production, increasing soil-dryness and surface-water loss, offsetting benefits of longer growing seasons. [5] Days over 100ºF will double by mid-century.

Since there is a 10% decline in wheat, corn, and rice yields for every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature during growing periods, as temperatures rise our ability to raise food will diminish. [6a]  [6b at p. 8] Scientists predict that if we continue burning more and more fossil fuels, we’ll see around 4 degrees Celsius (7.2° F) warming by the end of this century.

In “… many species of plants, quantity is not quality. Most plants are growing faster, but they have on average more starch, less protein and fewer key vitamins in them,” according to recent research. “The rising carbon dioxide levels that are triggering more photosynthesis can hinder the growth of some plants cultivated in temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit, such as winter wheat.”

So in summary, even though plants benefit from CO2 and need it to thrive, plants are also negatively impacted by increased CO2 levels. Temperatures are increasing as a result of higher CO2 levels. As temperature goes up, crop yields go down. Additionally, pests that thrive in hot weather become a danger to plants. Therefore, the harm done by increased CO2 levels far outweigh the benefit that plants gain from extra CO2. That’s why some farms (like the solar dairy pictured below) are taking steps to limit greenhouse gases.

Photo of Solar Dairy Farm
Solar Dairy Farmer in Bavaria, Germany — Doing Something To Reduce CO2. Photo used by permission of Gary Braasch. For more of Gary’s pictures on climate change click here.
BEES ARE BEING DAMAGED BY GLOBAL WARMING

Global warming is putting the squeeze on bumblebees. In the most comprehensive study ever conducted of the impacts of climate change on critical pollinators, scientists ( published in Science )have discovered that global warming is rapidly shrinking the area where these bees are found in both North America and Europe, eliminating the southern 185 miles of their range if they cannot move uphill.

Page last edited 2/9/2020

Wind can provide 20% of US electricity by 2030 providing farmers and ranchers $650 a year in land leases
Click the picture to sign the 80% renewable electricity by 2034 petition & promote more renewable energy land lease money going to farmers and ranchers.
Debunking Medieval Warming Misconception
Sea Level Reconstruction

If the Medieval warming period was warmer than now, sea levels would have risen more then.

Scientists have ruled out the following natural causes of present warming:

  1. a) Changes in the earth’s position. Studies have shown the earth changes position too slowly to be causing present warming.
  2. b) Sun’s intensity. Satellites monitoring solar activity and earth have shown a recent decrease in light reaching the earth, ruling out increased solar activity as a cause for recent warming.
  3. c) Volcanic eruptions. Volcanic eruptions lead to general cooling. However, CO2, which can cause warming, is also emitted during eruptions. So, given that dichotomy why have scientists concluded volcanic gases are not a significant cause of present warming? They know greenhouse gases emitted by volcanos have a different chemical composition than CO2 from fossil fuel burning. Scientists test to tell the difference before eliminating volcanic eruptions as a cause of present warming.

Nevertheless, denialists oversimplify these issues and jump to a false conclusion, suggesting that since natural phenomena have caused the earth to warm in the past, human events are not causing warming now. For example, denialists falsely contend the entire earth was warmer than today during the medieval warming period (250 years from 900-1150 AD) and conclude that the same natural events which caused warming then account for today’s warming.

Complete data confirms that the medieval warm period was not as warm as today. By cherry picking data from single locations and comparing medieval temperatures to today’s temperatures at those locations, some denialists have claimed it was warmer 1000 years ago. However, when scientists reconstruct temperatures averaged out over the whole planet, they find the medieval warm period was not warmer than at present. Averaged over the entire globe, temperatures during the medieval warm period were similar to the mid-20th century.

Just like today, certain regions during this medieval time warmed more than others. For example, then the North Atlantic region warmed far more than the tropics. In areas where warming was the greatest, air temperatures were like the late 20th century but are less than those seen over the last two decades.

This medieval period warmth enabled Vikings to build villages on coastal Greenland that survived for decades, before cooler conditions forced relocation.

Although some areas became more livable, others became harsher. For instance, 1000 years ago mega-droughts in the southwestern United States, made cliff-dwelling harder.

If this medieval period were warmer, sea levels would have been higher; they would have risen faster than now; and more ice would have melted 1000 years ago than did.  Scientists see no evidence of expanded ocean volume to raise sea levels 1000 years ago like that being experienced today.

Three main factors caused the regional warmth during the Medieval Warm Period. These factors are well understood, and models verify these were the drivers.

First, scientists estimate that solar activity was greater during the medieval warm period than in the Dark Ages beforehand or the Little Ice Age that followed. Thus, an increase in solar activity caused warming in the medieval climate, especially in the summer.

Second, during the medieval warm period fewer volcanos erupted. So, volcanos did not cool the earth as much then by injecting dust into the atmosphere and reflect incoming radiation.

This low volcanic activity during the medieval warm period allowed warm conditions to prevail for longer periods. Since strong evidence at the end of the medieval warm period indicates increasing volcanic activity was a major cause of cooling then, the lack of earlier volcanic activity helps explain why earlier cooling ebbed.

Third, the earth’s orbit was different 1000 years ago than it is today. Orbital changes influence the amount of solar radiation received at the earth’s surface.

While the drivers of the medieval warm period are well-understood, they are not the same as those driving climate change today. For example, compared to the orbit today, the medieval warm period summers would have been warmer in the polar regions. If we only look at the natural drivers of climate over the last 50 years, globally there should have been cooling instead of warming. The only way to account for recent global warming is to include current increases in human emissions of greenhouse gases. Natural drivers didn’t cause recent warming – they’ve been a cooling influence. Video links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD16nCsvjqs &

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5kejSYPD7U

Page updated on 3/29/2020

Climate Crisis is Causing Extinction of Some Life

Humans are changing the Earth’s climate as fast, as or faster than during previous mass extinction events.

Noting the prevalent view of species adaptation, environmental scientist, Dana Nuccitelli,  says: [1]

Species evolve through the process of natural selection.[2] The members of the species that are best adapted to threats survive to pass on their genes to the next generation. … [T]his process is a slow one. Humans are causing the climate to change rapidly, in a matter of decades, while big evolutionary changes generally take thousands of years.

In Earth’s history, there have been five catastrophic events where most species weren’t able to adapt fast enough to avoid extinction. These are called Mass Extinction Events. In most cases, these events were triggered by huge volcanic eruptions. Those eruptions pumped loads of particles and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The particles blocked sunlight, causing a period of sharp cooling. The carbon dioxide increased the greenhouse effect and caused long-term warming. Most species were unable to adapt to these big climate changes.

5 mass extinctions
(CC) 0, (CC) By-SA, (CC) By-SA 3.0
  • The first mass extinction event happened 445 million years ago, when 86% of species went extinct at the end of the Ordovician Period. Scientists think that this mass extinction was the result of an intense ice age caused by unusual volcanic events, followed by a warm period 1 million years later. Most species weren’t able to adapt to these big climate changes.
  • 360 million years ago, 75% of species went extinct at the end of the Devonian Period. Scientists think that this mass extinction event was also due to a series of relatively rapid environmental and climatic changes.
  • 250 million years ago, about 85% of species went extinct at the end of the Permian Period. This mass extinction event is also known as ‘the Great Dying’ because nearly all marine species went extinct. Scientists think this event was caused by a massive volcanic eruption covering much of modern-day Siberia. The sulfur ash pumped into the atmosphere by the eruption caused global cooling by blocking sunlight, and created acid rain. The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from the eruption later caused global warming.
  • Trapped methane, another greenhouse gas, may have been released from the warming oceans, causing even further global warming. The result, 200 million years ago, [was that] 80% of species went extinct at the end of the Triassic Period. Scientists think that this mass extinction event may have also been caused by a series of large volcanic eruptions.
  • 65 million years ago, 76% of species went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period. This is when dinosaurs went extinct. This mass extinction event was caused by a combination of volcanic eruptions and a large meteor impact.

Scientists are concerned that we may now be entering the Earth’s sixth mass extinction. Based on the fossil record, [they have determined] it’s normal for about 40 species to go extinct per year. Over the past 1,000 years, the average extinction rate has been 24 times as large as that natural rate. Over the past 500 years, extinctions are happening at least as fast as the rate that triggered the previous 5 mass extinction events. … [M]ass extinction events usually happen slowly, over hundreds of thousands to millions of years. However, if we lose all currently threatened species, we’ll be on a course for a new mass extinction event in just over 500 years.

One myth contends that humans and other species will simply be able to adapt to the Earth’s changing climate, so we have nothing to worry about. This myth employs the fallacy of jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Unfortunately, just because adaptation exists, it doesn’t mean that species can adjust to any new situation–the 5 mass extinctions over the past 450 million years, during which more than three-quarters of the species on Earth went extinct, tell us that species often do not adapt. There is a limit to how fast species can evolve.

Graphic of some of the 40% of species that are at risk of extinction because of global warming
(CC) By-SA 3.0, Biodiversity on Earth: animals, en.wikipedia.org, McZusatz, multiple authors

Humans are changing the Earth’s climate as fast, as or faster than during previous mass extinction events, so fast that species are already struggling to keep up.

Adaption in this case means changing course by transitioning away from fossil fuel. If we do not change course, it will take millions of years for the planet to recover from a human-caused mass extinction event. Fortunately, there is still time to help prevent a huge loss in the Earth’s biodiversity if we do it now by clicking HERE to help adopt the 80% renewable electricity by 2034 initiative.

 REFERENCES

This will link you to references found in this GLOBAL WARMING IS CAUSING EXTINCTION OF SOME LIFE page.

Polar Bears Threatened by Warming
Polar Bear Swimming

Ice platforms have melted in several regions making hunting for food harder for polar bears as the climate crisis heats up the Arctic faster than the rest of our earth.

“Polar bears survive by hunting seals,” explains environmental scientist, Dana Nuccitelli : “To reach their prey, they need a platform of ice floating on the sea where seals live.” Unfortunately, ice platforms have melted in several regions where the bears hunt as global warming has heated up the Arctic faster than the rest of our earth.

Nuccitelli notes: “However, one myth argues that polar bear numbers are greater now than in the 1970s so they’re in no danger from global warming. … [P]olar bear populations may have been in even worse shape than they are today. But this claim is an oversimplification.”

In the mid-20th Century, hunters killed over 1,000 bears each year, prompting enactment of hunting regulations, allowing dwindling bear populations to recover. However, just because bear populations recovered from the hunting threat does not mean we can jump to the conclusion that they are not now being compromised by global warming which, in some regions, is destroying sea ice platforms they use to hunt seals. [1]

Sea ice melt is not the same in every Artic region. Around Canada’s Hudson Bay, sea ice is seasonal melting earlier every summer, re-freezing later every fall, creating longer ice-free seasons, as if God were indifferent to the difficulties human-caused warming has foisted on seal-deprived polar bears, bears that now devoir eggs, chicks, or ground-nesting adult shore birds like snow geese. [2] When they can catch them, bears also have eaten dolphins. However, swimming bears have also been eaten by killer whales that have migrated into their warmer waters.

As sea ice melts earlier, Polar bears are moving to land earlier. They eat very little while on land. So they do not have time to build up sufficient fat reserves to survive the lengthened ice-free season. For every week a bear has not been hunting, it becomes 22 pounds lighter. Also, if a female bear’s weight falls too much, it will not conceive. Between 1981 and 1998, Hudson Bay scientists observed that the bear weight and number of cubs born declined by 15 percent. In Western Hudson Bay where the sea ice is seasonal, the polar bear numbers have declined by 22% over the past 30 years.

In other “divergent ice regions,” like the southern Beaufort Sea, Nuccitelli notes, “sea ice retreats from the shore during the summer, like a retracting bridge.” There the polar bear population shrunk from 1,600 bears in 2004 to 900 in 2010. [3]

Photo of Black Guillemots
Black Guillemots are having a tougher time finding fish as summer ice retreats in the Artic. Link to photo use by permission of Gary Braasch. For more of Gary’s photos on the effects of climate change click here.

In the summer of 1975 pack ice was seven miles offshore from Cooper Island near Barrow, Alaska. By 2008 it was 250 miles away, causing migration away from shore of Arctic Cod the main food source for the Guilllemot, a sea bird, which like the polar bear, must forage farther to feed its young because the sea ice is melting. [4]

When ice retreats, if bears do not come ashore, foregoing seal hunting until the ice returns, they must swim long distances to reach the remaining ice to hunt. Cub-loss during such swims is not an isolated event. [5]

Polar Bear Swimming
Warming caused one bear (like the one shown here) to swim for nine days straight, 426 miles, losing her cub and 22% of her body weight during the swim. Click the picture to sign the 80% renewable electricity by 2034 petition & help prevent the adverse effect global warming is having on plants and animals. Photo credit could not be found.

So it is clear: while bear populations seem stable or increasing for now in a few northern artic areas,  [6] human-caused global warming is endangering polar bears and compromising Black Guillemots where sea ice they need to hunt is melting.

At this link: see a skinny polar bear ambush a seal (not for young kids).

REFERENCES

Clicking here will link you to references found in this POLAR BEARS THREATENED BY WARMING page. 

And for Planet Earth for Kids link to “Global Warming: Melting kingdom of the Polar Bear,” click here

Page last updated 2/9/2020

Other Denialist Myths Debunked
Warmer Days & Nights Graph

The sun is not the primary cause of present excess global warming.

This link corrects approximately 193 misinformed claims that Climate Change Denialists give for rejecting the overwhelming evidence supporting climate scientists and their concern that excess CO2 coming from the burning of fossil fuel is harming our planet and those who live on it with us.

The premier place where real climate scientists address false claims of denialists is this link: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/  Once on the site search for the names of any climate denialists you encounter and you will likely find discussion rebutting claims of those denialists.

Email indicates Exxon knew of climate change in 1981 but continued to fund climate deniers for 27 more years.

Rockefeller family tried and failed to get ExxonMobil to reverse its climate change denialist policies.

Some of the more prevalent misconceptions are also addressed on submenus associated with this menu or below:
 The sun is not the primary cause of present excess global warming.

We know that temperatures on the moon, which does not have an atmosphere to hold heat when the sun is not shining on it, drop from 250° F during the day to -330° F at night. On the other hand, on Venus, which has a  much denser atmosphere than  Earth, the temperature is an intense 460˚C day and night, all year long. Venus doesn’t even have seasons because its greenhouse  effect is so strong. On earth, warm days and nights are getting warmer as you can see from the graph below.

Warmer Days & Nights Graph
By John Cook for the University of Queensland

Scientists conclude that greenhouse gases are causing this warming on earth. These gases hold additional heat when the sun is not shining, something that does not happen on the moon. For a 3:36 minute video illustrating this, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGJOBGfUhbw

Nevertheless, denialists perpetuate a myth that global warming is primarily caused by the sun rather than greenhouse gases. The smaller amount of solar activity reaching the earth recently would actually be leading to cooling in earth’s atmosphere if something else was not happening. That something else is an increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gases here. Since warming is happening despite a decrease in the sun’s activity, that  is contrary to the myth, debunking it. For a 5 minute video on the cooling of earth’s upper atmosphere while the earth’s surface warms as a fingerprint of greenhouse gas warming, ruling out natural causes of past warming, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5kejSYPD7U

Graph of Temperatures in Earth's Upper & Lower Atmosphere
Temperatures in Earth’s Upper & Lower Atmosphere
By Peter Jacobs, Data from UAH nsstc.uah.edu/climate/

Other aspects of denialists (Soon and Baliunas) fallacies related to solar contribution to earth’s current warming are discussed here http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/02/the-soon-fallacy/?wpmp_tp=1 . Also, it has come to light that Soon, a scientist often relied on in denialists literature in support of “the sun (and not CO2) is the primary cause of excess global warming” myth, failed to disclose Koch (fossil fuel magnate) funding and affiliation when taking government grant money.

CLICK HERE to let us know you understand that CO2 resulting from burning too much fossil fuel is the primary cause of excess global warming, and that you will sign the petition to put the 80% renewable electricity by 2034 initiative on Montana’s 2020 general election ballot.

Page updated on 9/9/2019