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Recent Comments

Re: “Work In Progress

Hey, Spokane, keep up the good work by continuing to post on this center-right news organ, and keep up the push to bring those retrogrades’ (as Haeder calls them) IQs closer to the mean average global temperature. Fortunately for these deniers, obfuscating-loving, Spokane-is-the-center-of-the-universal  thinkers that basically flag themselves as partial thinkers, as climate warms, I suppose their IQ’s lift up too. We can only hope something good comes from global warming.

Here’s a real good back and forth on CO2 and climate change and ice and the historic and geologic records in that regard, and more. Below the Real Climate blog and the Jeff Severinghaus’ letter to one of the skeptics posting on Real Climate, is an interview of an ice scientist on Yale Environment 360 -- climatologist Ellen Mosley-Thompson

Finally, check a really great news source – The Indypendent (not to be confused with this Bubba fool trying on some rotten Big Lebowski lingo as his retort nonsense to all the cool comments you all have been giving the Inlander since way back when Haeder had a regular news column, Treading Lightly, and beyond).

Catch Haeder on Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge,  92.3 FM, Wednesdays. 3-4

and, Down to Earth Northwest –


The coolings appear to be caused primarily and initially by increase in the Earth-Sun distance during northern hemisphere summer, due to changes in the Earth’s orbit. As the orbit is not round, but elliptical, sunshine is weaker during some parts of the year than others. This is the so-called Milankovitch hypothesis [this really should say "theory" -- eric], which you may have heard about. Just as in the warmings, CO2 lags the coolings by a thousand years or so, in some cases as much as three thousand years.

But do not make the mistake of assuming that these warmings and coolings must have a single cause. It is well known that multiple factors are involved, including the change in planetary albedo, change in nitrous oxide concentration, change in methane concentration, and change in CO2 concentration. I know it is intellectually satisfying to identify a single cause for some observed phenomenon, but that unfortunately is not the way Nature works much of the time.

Nor is there any requirement that a single cause operate throughout the entire 5000 – year long warming trends, and the 70,000 year cooling trends.

Thus it is not logical to argue that, because CO2 does not cause the first thousand years or so of warming, nor the first thousand years of cooling, it cannot have caused part of the many thousands of years of warming in between.

Think of heart disease – one might be tempted to argue that a given heart patient’s condition was caused solely by the fact that he ate french fries for lunch every day for 30 years. But in fact his 10-year period of no exercise because of a desk job, in the middle of this interval, may have been a decisive influence. Just because a sedentary lifestyle did not cause the beginning of the plaque buildup, nor the end of the buildup, would you rule out a contributing causal role for sedentary lifestyle?

There is a rich literature on this topic. If you are truly interested, I urge you to read up.

The contribution of CO2 to the glacial-interglacial coolings and warmings amounts to about one-third of the full amplitude, about one-half if you include methane and nitrous oxide.

So one should not claim that greenhouse gases are the major cause of the ice ages. No credible scientist has argued that position (even though Al Gore implied as much in his movie). The fundamental driver has long been thought, and continues to be thought, to be the distribution of sunshine over the Earth’s surface as it is modified by orbital variations. This hypothesis was proposed by James Croll in the 19th century, mathematically refined by Milankovitch in the 1940s, and continues to pass numerous critical tests even today.

The greenhouse gases are best regarded as a biogeochemical feedback, initiated by the orbital variations, but then feeding back to amplify the warming once it is already underway. By the way, the lag of CO2 of about 1000 years corresponds rather closely to the expected time it takes to flush excess respiration-derived CO2 out of the deep ocean via natural ocean currents. So the lag is quite close to what would be expected, if CO2 were acting as a feedback.

The response time of methane and nitrous oxide to climate variations is measured in decades. So these feedbacks operate much faster.

The quantitative contribution of CO2 to the ice age cooling and warming is fully consistent with current understanding of CO2’s warming properties, as manifested in the IPCC’s projections of future warming of 3±1.5 C for a doubling of CO2 concentration. So there is no inconsistency between Milankovitch and current global warming.

Hope this is illuminating.

Jeff Severinghaus

Unlocking Secrets from the Ice
In a Rapidly Warming Region

Earlier this year, climatologist Ellen Mosley-Thompson led an expedition to drill into glacial ice on the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the world’s fastest-warming regions. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Mosley-Thompson explains what the Antarctic ice cores may reveal and describes what it’s like working in the world’s swiftly melting ice zones.

The Indypendent is a New York-based free newspaper published 17 times a year on Wednesdays to our print and online readership of more than 200,000. It is produced by a network of volunteers who report, write, edit, draw, design, take photos, distribute, fundraise and provide website management. Since 2000, more than 650 citizen journalists, artists and media activists have participated in this project. Winner of more than 50 New York Community Media Alliance awards, The Indypendent is dedicated to empowering people to create a true alternative to the corporate press by encouraging people to produce their own media. The Indypendent is funded by subscriptions, donations, grants, merchandise sales, benefits and advertising from organizations with similar missions. We accept submissions that look at news and culture through a critical lens, exploring how systems of power — economic, political and social — affect the lives of people locally and globally. The Indypendent reserves the right to edit articles for length, content and clarity.

The Indypendent is affiliated with the New York City Independent Media Center, which is part of the global Indymedia movement, an international network that is dedicated to fostering grassroots media production, and to IndyKids, a children’s newspaper. NYC IMC is an open publishing website where anyone can publish news (


1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by BleachingMantaRay on 05/09/2010 at 12:01 PM

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