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Dangerous Experiments

Dangerous Experiments is the LabSpaces spot for guest bloggers. The purpose of the blog is to give new and old bloggers a space to experiment with blogging. If you'd like to contribute to this experiment, send us an e-mail or contact us on twitter at either @LSBlogs or @LabSpaces.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Sean Marshall

Sean Marshall is a science communication practitioner living in Ireland. He produces and presents the Science Chat podcast and associated blog. He blogs and podcasts mainly on issues and topics related to science communication, education and outreach. He also writes (fiction) and plays electric guitar (noisily).  Sean can be found on twitter as @arthurpdent42.

 

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So many people, I mean soooo many people have been saying to me over the past few weeks (in Ireland - unsurprising as that's where I live) that how can people be talking about climate change and global warming when this year and last year we've had such snow as hasn't been seen in these parts for years. Of course, the fact that we're having some really cold weather with plenty of snow doesn't contradict global warming. Global warming is a climate change effect that can cause many types of weather anomaly, and an overall increase in global temperature doesn’t have to cause locally warmer weather, it’s a bit more complex than that, and you have to understand how climate relates to weather.

Of course, those of us on the side of reality who of course accept that global warming is man made normally have to exert all our energies in the debate against those who deny it – not trying to educate people that don’t understand how climate affects weather – so we’re sometimes caught off our guard when asked.

There are also easier to understand effects of global warming than snow in Ireland: the prevalence of disastrous flooding and the fiercer tropical storms and hurricanes that have been experienced in recent years.

It’s a little harder to link man made global warming to sub zero temperatures and more snow in Ireland... but the link is there.

The overall warming of the northern hemisphere due to global warming causes losses in Arctic sea ice which causes regional heating of lower levels of air which in turn causes anomalies in atmospheric airstreams causing an overall cooling effect in high latitude countries – that would be us in Ireland.


Gulf stream Credit: RedAndr/CC3.0

And if you thought that the cold snap last year was bad, well worse could be on the way if anything ever happened to stop the Gulf Stream. Without this effect, Dublin which has an average low January temperature of +2.5°C might be more like Edmonton in Canada which has an average low January temperature of -11.7°C, as they’re both a roughly the same latitude.

 

It’s the Gulf Stream that allows Dublin to have temperatures like this because it carries heat from the tropics to the high latitudes by thermohaline circulation, which is driven by temperature difference and water salinity. But if continued Global warming caused more fresh water from melting ice to further decrease the ocean salinity, this effect could be reduced or even removed and then we could expect to have low temperatures the same as other places the same distance as us from the equator.

So why don’t we already know this? Why are we so surprised about the extreme weather which we are starting to experience? Why do people who have little or no interest in who’s right or wrong in the climate debate not understand what’s causing this?

Is it that we’ve been too interested in fighting the climate war to actually make sure that we provide the information to make sure people are educated? Maybe it’s because too many column inches are given over to this phoney war – it might be of more interest to most people to know that we can prepare for countless winters the same as the last two while man continues to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and increase global warmth, instead of knowing exactly who was it who hacked the e-mails from the University of East Anglia!

But does the media care whether we know or not? In fact is the media even equipped with the expertise to be able to fulfill this education role? Is the media more preoccupied with stoking the fires (pun intended) between the protagonists in the climate war? Well, I’m sure most of you will have an opinion on this...

By the way, if you still need convincing that there’s a difference between climate change and weather, have a look at this brilliant Armstrong & Miller sketch on the subject, though their idea of a penalty for not knowing the difference may be a bit heavy handed.

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Psycasm
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Nice. Where can I get this leaflet? Something like this actually needs distributing...


Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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That video was hilarious.  I'm with Rift, where can I get a stack of those pamphlets to hand out?

Dougora

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You are such geniuses. You have the answer for all of the global warming questions. In fact you can even say how this one is man made when the other departures from ICE ages were not. Of course all of us common idiots do not understand how we left Ice ages before industry and automobiles and even humans for that matter.  You understandably change the name of climate change so it fits any venue you might compose. It is obvious to me and all the other so called common people the earth has changed many times before. Ice caps across most of North America started to recede long before industrialization.

 

This scenario has been played out before man was here, while man was here and will be long after we are all gone. It is nice how you can hype all of this so called science and Hypothesis into fact. Man kind has never had nor will they ever have the ability, power and influence on the weather as any major volcanoes and ocean current events. Only a smart culture would engineer their way into any and all climate changes the future may hold. The less educated and studied lambs will follow you into the political influences of the Global warming connectionist.    

Sean M

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Dougora: it would be very difficult to fully explain all the science behind man made ckimate change in a blog post, but I suggest you read a book which does explain it. The book is called The Hot Topic and is by Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King... in fact you don't even need to read the whole thing: if you can make it to the end of Chapter 3, you should have no doubt. Unless of course you are one of those who refuse to look at evidence with an open mind.


Psycasm
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"Of course all of us common idiots do not understand how we left Ice ages before industry and automobiles and even humans for that matter."

 

Can you explain it? Please do

 

Then ought to defend the statement:

 

"Man kind has never had nor will they ever have the ability, power and influence on the weather as any major volcanoes and ocean current events"

 

I mean that sounds inherently wrong. If every nuclear bomb currently in exists was detonated (which could be done, thus demonstrating we do have the ability, power and influence) then I'm pretty sure that might influence the weather.... Just because you object the possibility doesn't make it a possibility.

Dil Se Diya Vachan

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I have a similar experience to Liz, in the 90’s global warming was a debate that was still “young”. In college, I was asked to present the case AGAINST human generated global warming, and I didn’t have much ammunition (pre-Koch brothers funded fraud institutions that will publish whatever will keep the funders happy).
The thing I kept coming back to is “we’ll see!” When the global warming “side” said, it will cause floods in some places and droughts in others, I said “we’ll see!” When they said trees in the Amazon will start to die, accelerating the process…I said “we’ll see”. The polar ice caps will melt, changing the circulation of the jet stream, the gulf stream, and other global climate regulators, I said “we’ll see!”
Do we see yet? I DO!
People who ignore the data, the predicitons coming true, and the root cause of it all will drag us down if we let them. Let’s just keep changing the world around them, so they have no choice.

LeStonga

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I cannot for the life of me understand how people do not believe in global warming.  Well, then again, I guess i have seen my fair share of idiots who take science classes in college and they just dont understand the complex nature of science and bitch about how hard the class is or how the teacher isnt being fair.  People never want to believe the scientists when it comes to global warming, but they trust the scientists (doctors) who will do brain surgery or heart transplants.  Hmm, seems to be a bit here and there, huh?  Im sure many commoners can explain how a car even operates?  And no, its not just as simple as pressing the gas pedal or the brake pedal.  Most morons who dont understand science obviously dont understand engineering and therefore could never grasp the concept of global warming, not to mention evolution (of man and earth).  Do ice ages happen naturally throughout time?  YES. Are the intensities or intervals of those ice ages affected by human kind? ABSOLUTELY!  What idiot does not understand cause and effect scenarios or correlation and causation?

Scientists Way of Thinking:

If I light a match and throw it on my bedroom floor - --- - - >>>> My house will burn down.

 

Idiot way of thinking:

If I light a match and throw it on my bedroom floor - - - - ->>>> Someone else will put it out or the house would of burn down naturally from spontanuity (lightning/arson).

We do need to educate people.  Unfortunately I am not only a psychology degreed individual but also a biology degreed person.  My years in psychology have taught me that people will disbelieve anything that makes their life inconvenient until the events of the ladder are more inconvenient that the previous and then they will change.  For example, people who are warned not to smoke cigarettes because they will get emphysema or cancer just dont listen and keep smoking because it is inconvenient to have some withdrawal from nicotine.  Only when they get emphysema and it is hard to breeth, or lung cancer and it is painful getting radiation therapy, will they then decide to stop because of the more severe ramifications and discomforts they now experience.

Unfortunately unless governments force ignorant people to stop doing what they are doing, we will never end this cycle until you start to see terrible things happen that even the most ignorant of people can agree must have been caused by global warming.

The saddest thing I see is that for the first time scientists are seeing polar bears drowning because after long swims they cannot find a solid piece of ice to get onto and rest without that ice breaking from under them.  I feel more sorry for the innocent wildlife that takes the damage that we throw at it and they have done nothing wrong.  We deserve all of the horrible things tha will happen to us in the future and thats because we were to ignorant to stop it ourselves.  Its like that recent movie the day the earth stood still (2008 with keanu reeves).  Our planet was being taken away from us because we were not able to handle it ourselves.  Kinda like taking a toy away from a child because they dont know how to take care of it.  Kinda sad, huh?

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