Guest Blog by Christopher Marciello
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not someone formally trained in science. What I have to offer here is opinion based on reading scientific, peer reviewed research and credible, verified news reports based upon scientific, peer reviewed research of extreme weather patterns and its relationship to global climate change. Every point I attempt to make will be supported by online references below.
Hurricane Sandy, has once again brought to the nation’s attention the highly important topic of climate change. First off, from the information that I have been exposed to, focusing on individual weather events and short term weather prediction is absolutely misleading in this discussion. What is worthwhile is the observation of global climate patterns. This is where evidence supports quite soundly that the climate is indeed changing and changing at rates that had not existed prior to what is called “Anthropogenic climate change”, what we put into the closed system of our atmosphere(1). What extreme weather events show us is the short term ramifications of long term climate change, in the abundantly apparent increase in formerly anomalous weather events.
Worldwide, we have seen this played out. From extreme droughts( Africa, Continental U.S.), Deep freezes(Predominantly Eastern Europe), Mudslides( China) and so forth(2). These types of events cannot be directly linked to climate change from carbon emitting sources, and this is predominantly due to the difficulties of predicting regional weather(3). However, these types of events are consistent with the global projections based on the models of a warming climate.
In brief I’m going to discuss a couple of elements within natural systems that are affected by a warming climate.
As heat interacts with bodies of water, whether it’s your hair after a shower, the tea kettle, your garden soil or the ocean, water vapor is released into the atmosphere. This is evaporation. In addition, warm air has the ability to hold more water vapor, so there is a system of increasing temperature and humidity accumulation that then releases significantly larger volumes of water when it does come down(4). This is also the case with ice packs and glaciers. In the instance of ice packs, it deepens the problems associated with drought because it means shorter winters with less precipitation, which would normally move into the low lying areas come spring in run off. Here we see the increase in soil erosion and depletion of fertility as the parched earth cannot receive the moisture due to compaction. In heavily populated areas we are seeing the impacts of deluges and the science suggests a deepening misery for many already stricken parts of the earth.
In many parts of the world, tropics and Sub-Saharan Africa, the current temperatures often stunt or kill plants. While in San Diego a temperature increase of 1c/1.8f, might be quite bearable as our mean average high is 90f. For a place like the Sahel region of West Africa, that would be catastrophic. While the Copenhagen climate conference left us with a non binding agreement based upon scientific literature that states an increase of 2c/3.6f is the limit of acceptable temp change. How that would affect the Sahel region, with its 3c or 4c increase would translate into around 10f. The difference between let’s say 90f and 100f is pronounced. Anyone who has worked outside in 100f weather can attest to that. Add in the aforementioned issues of evaporation and high volume precipitation and it seems fairly apparent that Sahel would not be hospitable for anyone. Even the most luddite amongst us. Now keep in mind that places like the Sahel already achieve regular temps well above 90f with low precipitation(5).
Do extreme weather events show conclusively that we are having an effect on our environment? There are dubious authors and shameful “scientists” that would suggest otherwise. However, an honest evaluation of the best available scientific, peer reviewed research strongly suggests otherwise. I would encourage you to do the research yourself, I’ve posted multiple sources to begin this research, which includes links to climate change deniers. Double check the credibility of the sources, look deeper into the science behind climate change. Skeptical science is a site I would highly recommend for everyone. They present multiple arguments and discuss them based on the science available with the added bonus of being written not only for the scientifically trained but for the caring layperson.
Climate change science
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is recognized as the most rigorously peer reviewed document on the issue of global climate change, written by the foremost world leaders of climate science:
Climate change deniers
Christoper Marciello is an active gardener and farmer, preserver of seeds, and planter of water. He can be contacted through his business, C2Agriculture.