Saturday, August 25, 2012
It's not the heat, its....oh, wait
Climate scientists have been telling us for a couple of decades now that, even though global warming is the cause, we'd be seeing its effects in other areas besides straight temperature rises. For the record, not only have their predictions come true by and large, but they have been too conservative...but that's another column. For today, it's worth noting during these unprecedented heat waves that the temperature effects are finally showing up as well. There's a very good article on the subject at Climate Communication (view it here). Here's a sample, looking at a very simple and easy to understand data point, the ratio of record highs to record lows over the last 60 years. If normal, random variations in climate were occurring, you'd expect that ratio to be close to 1.0. In other words, in any given period, you'd expect just as many record highs and record lows to occur. Random changes, 50-50 chances. Back in the 1950s, when the effects of human greenhouse gas generation was just kicking in to high gear, the ratio was 52/48 in favor of record highs. Pretty close to random. In the last three years, the ratio went from 56/44 to 73/27 (in 2011) and is 90/10 so far this year.