Facing up to 4 degree C?

gw-andes-junk In stark contrast to the hard liberalism of TW is one of the worst pieces of woolly-thinking soft liberalism (well, actually the Green Party, of which I’m a member and supporter, if you care. It is from their mag). And yet somehow it seems all too typical.

Life in the Peruvian Andes is hard… blah blah… Recently, these communities have experienced the worst winter to hit Peru in nearly 50 years with temperatures plummeting to a deadly minus 24ºC Oh dear. Well, clearly they could do with a bit of warming, then, no? Or are we really obliged to pretend that all climate change is necessarily bad?

I want to talk about the climate change issues of this piece, but as an aside I should point out that these people’s real problem is poverty, as the piece itself quite happily points out: Poverty is the real issue here. The people have no resources. They don’t have electricity or heating. And indeed the solution proposed is for them to get richer (though it isn’t put in those terms): Our mission is to support the people of the high Andes to obtain the skills and resources to survive the harsh winters, to make them more resilient… build solar, wind or hydroelectric power generators… find the best crops to grow. Ah, it would all warm the cockles of TW’s heart.

Somewhere towards the end of the piece it must have occurred to the writer that they needed to make at least some effort at explaining why global warming was making the place colder:

It’s assumed that climate change means everywhere will get hotter, but that’s simply not the case. In places like Peru, it will get much colder, and the recent weather has been a stark reminder for the indigenous people of the reality of climate change.

But this isn’t very convincing. First of all, the fact that the coldest winter in 50 years is quite cold shouldn’t be terribly surprising. that is what is meant by extremes, after all. There is no evidence at all presented that there is any link to long-term climate change, that this is anything other than weather. But secondly is that In places like Peru, it will get much colder. Well, that is an interesting assertion. No source, of course, so we look to our authority the IPCC AR4.

That looks like the obvious image to go for. Err… can you spot the cooling n the Andes? No? Well done, your grasp of reality is rather better than Abbie Upton‘s. Still, those are the global maps. Perhaps I should look at the regional ones?

Nope, fail again. Do I need to taunt her any more?

Refs

* What does one summer make?

Comments

  1. #1 Martin Vermeer
    2010/12/14

    > Do I need to taunt her any more?

    Nah. Just make the link work :-)

    [Oops, fixed, thanks -W]

  2. #2 thine
    2010/12/14

    Nice analysis of the garbage.

    btw?
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/08/what_does_one_summer_make.php

    see comment 17/18

    [Hmm, interesting. I’ve added the post as a ref. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/images/rnl/sfctmpmer_30a.rnl.html does currently show a very cold Andes (archived as http://www.flickr.com/photos/belette/5260644743/ for convenience). With characteristic carelessness the article doesn’t tell us which winter it means, but maybe it means this one -W]

  3. #3 Smitty
    2010/12/14

    I am pleased to give credit where credit is due.
    Thank you, Mr. Connelley for making science a higher priority than your politics.

    Do you consider yourself a climate hawk?

    http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2010/10/22/will-climate-hawks-take-roost/

    {I’m someone who likes his name spelt right and the title correct: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:William_M._Connolley/For_me/The_naming_of_cats . As for hawks: This means that Roberts, in choosing the climate hawk totem, has limited the applicability to a U.S. audience. But if you care to translate the question from Foreign into Queen’s English I can attempt to answer -W]

  4. #4 carrot eater
    2010/12/14

    I think it’s important to smack down silly emotionalism from the activist types. Well, somebody should. I prefer to roll my eyes or ignore them.

  5. #5 Karl
    2010/12/15

    Dieses Video enthält Content von montypython. Es ist in deinem Land nicht verfügbar.

  6. #6 Michael Hauber
    2010/12/15

    Well I think its fair to say that cooling in the Peruvian Andes was not predicted. But an interesting question is ‘is there a real cooling’, and ‘is it caused by Co2′.

    Checking GISS trend maps since 1980 there does seem to be a thin strip of cooling along the South American west coastline. There is also a cooling of the key ENSO regions and the ocean near this coastline. Perhaps this a multi-decadal variation in ENSO activity. Or is it possible that a warming planet somehow shifts the ocean into a more La Nina like state and this is enough to cause cooling in this area?

  7. #7 Guillaume Leduc
    2010/12/17

    One valid explanation for recent cooling trends in eastern boundary upwelling regions such as in California, Peru, Namibia and Mauritania was proposed by Andy Bakun. It is based on the prediction that continental temperature should rise more rapidly that ocean surface temperatures, so that the air pressure difference between continents and ocean would tend to decrease and intensify the equator-ward winds along the meridional coastlines. The wind forcing would then drive a more vigorous upwelling (… and hence favour sea surface temperature to drop, I just quoted the remark from one reviewer in a recent paper published in Ocean Science). It is indeed one counter-intuitive local cooling response to a more regional warming.

    Here is the link to the above-mentionned paper:

    http://www.ocean-sci.net/6/815/2010/os-6-815-2010.pdf

    Not only such a trend is seen in data, but it is also already recorded in geological data (marine sediments) from all those places.

    The question on whether such anomalies will persist over the next decades remains of course unanswered, but the fact that GCMs cannot capture those local oceanic freatures may be due to the fact that such small-scale processes in coastal environments are not adequately resolved in GCMs.

  8. #8 Guillaume Leduc
    2010/12/17

    Oops, I may mention the sources:

    The original publication on that mechanism, focusing on California upwelling mainly:

    Bakun, A.: Global climate change and intensification of coastal ocean upwelling, Science, 247, 198–201, 1990.

    The effect as seen in Namibia:

    Leduc G., Herbert C., Blanz T., Martinez P., Schneider R. Contrasting evolution of Sea Surface Temperature in the Benguela upwelling system under natural and anthropogenic climate forcings. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L20705, doi:10.1029/2010GL044353, 2010.

    Mauritania:

    McGregor, H. V., M. Dima, H. W. Fischer, and S. Mulitza (2007), Rapid 20th‐century increase in coastal upwelling off northwest Africa, Science, 315, 637–639, doi:10.1126/science.1134839.

    Peru (abstract from AGU fm09, but peer-review paper in the pipeline):

    Bouloubassi, I., et al. (2009), Cooling trend and enhancement of productivity in the upwelling off Peru since the late 19th century, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract PP41B‐1520.

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