The year of the tipping point?
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — If 2011 goes down as the year that global warming awareness reached a critical mass, it could be attributed to the spate of unusual weather events around the globe. From massive tornado outbreaks in the Midwest, to heatwaves, Mississippi flooding, droughts and more, there appears to be growing acceptance of the fact that the Earth’s changing climate is creating more and more damage and displacement.
That doesn’t mean every year from now on is going to be the same — it’s not a linear equation. But, on the whole, the scientific consensus is that more heat and water vapor in the atmosphere, as well as higher sea levels, generally spell trouble for humankind. Formally, this recognition was expressed in a recent report from the IPCC: New IPCC report links climate change and extreme weather.
The growing public acceptance may also be reflected by the increasingly shrill tone of the last few global warming deniers. On web sites like the ironically named Real Science, poster have taken to name-calling, and characterizing respected climate researchers as “morons” and worse.
And it’s not just coastal areas. Earlier this year, the National Weather released its new “climate normals,” and Colorado stands out like a sore thumb on a national map as the state with biggest jump in average maximum temperatures based on the 30-year increments NOAA uses to establish those baselines: Is Colorado Ground Zero for global warming?
Other significant regional stories include global warming impact on the West’s snowpack: Global warming: Topsy-turvy snowpack in the West and, by association water supplies: Global warming to take big toll on western trout.
If there is any good news, it’s that some research suggests the worst case scenarios under climate models may be unlikely. Studies seem to show that, at some point, the Earth has the ability to attenuate its climate to increasing levels of CO2: Global warming: Runaway temperature increase unlikely.
Scientists also found an answer for what’s been called “missing heat.” Essentially, atmospheric temps haven’t climbed quite as much — or more accurately — as steadily as some climate models would have suggested. Apparently, some of the heat is being stored deep in the oceans: Global warming: ‘Missing’ heat found deep in the ocean.
Of course, global warming isn’t just a science story. It’s also a partisan political issue, and this year, as never before, the Republican Party tried to attack the fundamental science, the scientists and the messengers: House Republicans launch another climate witch hunt.
Here are a few more of the top climate related headlines from Summit Voice:
- Urban ‘heat-islands’ only a small factor in global warming
- Global warming: A tipping point for phytoplankton?
- Global warming: Day of Action under way
- New data helps pinpoint sun’s influence on climate
- Global warming: Arctic temps climb off the charts
- Global warming: Sea levels could rise for centuries to come
- Climate: Sea-levels rising at the fastest rate in 2100 years