The people of the world have conflicting opinions about Global Warming. Some are skeptical. They do not believe it is happening. Some are concerned. They do believe it is happening. Most people simply do not know.
But, all people, including scientists, do not know not the speed of Global Warming. Most scientists and the media have put off any serious consequences for fifty to a hundred years. The consequences themselves are seen as tolerable or can be compensated for.
The usual news story describes the melting of the ice on the polar caps and the flooding of coastal cities. “So what?” people say. We will move to higher ground.
Very few bloggers mention “starvation” as a consequence, and yet, this is the most serious consequence of global warming for human beings.
However, even starvation is not considered serious if it occurs a century from today. Consequently, the most important number that the people are concerned with is the velocity of the warming process.
If you are in a car driving towards a cliff and it is going so slowly that you will be dead before it arrives at the cliff you would be unconcerned. But, if the car was moving so quickly that you would go off the cliff in two years, you would try to slow the car down.
HOW CAN WE PREDICT HOW FAST GLOBAL WARMING IS HAPPENING?
For starters, we can look at the price of food commodities.
These prices reflect two things: the supply of plant products, which reflects the global weather AND the growth and wealth of the human population, which reflects the demand.
We can see TODAY that the supply is down due to abnormal weather across the globe. We also know that the people in Asia are richer and can pay a higher price for food. This will increase the price.
Today the price of all food commodities are the highest in history. These prices reflect both reduced supply and increased demand. This is an indication of Global Warming, but an indirect indication.
We would like to know the rate at which the temperature is rising. This would tell us clearly when disasters will occur and whether we, as a species, can survive.
Here is a report from the BBC:
Global warming since 1995 ‘now significant’
By Richard Black, from BBC News
“Climate warming since 1995 is now statistically significant, according to Phil Jones, the UK scientist targeted in the “ClimateGate” affair.
Last year, he told BBC News that post-1995 warming was not significant – a statement still seen on blogs critical of the idea of man-made climate change.
But another year of data has pushed the trend past the threshold usually used to assess whether trends are “real”.
Dr Jones says this shows the importance of using longer records for analysis.
By widespread convention, scientists use a minimum threshold of 95% to assess whether a trend is likely to be down to an underlying cause, rather than emerging by chance. If a trend meets the 95% threshold, it basically means that the odds of it being down to chance are less than one in 20. Last year’s analysis, which went to 2009, did not reach this threshold; but adding data for 2010 takes it over the line.
“The trend over the period 1995-2009 was significant at the 90% level, but wasn’t significant at the standard 95% level that people use,” Professor Jones told BBC News.
The dataset that Professor Jones helps to compile – HadCRUT3 - is a joint project between the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA), where he is based, and the UK Met Office.
It is one of the main global temperature records used by bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
HadCRUT shows a warming 1995-2010 of 0.19C - consistent with the other major records, which all use slightly different ways of analysing the data in order to compensate for issues such as the dearth of measuring stations in polar regions.”
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS REPORT
Since I am a firm believer that Global Warming is upon us, the only one fact that interested me in this report was the number 0.19C.
Almost .2 C increase in temperature in 15 years! If we lived in an arithmetical universe it would take 75 years to reach a One Degree Celsius rise in temperature.
BUT OUR UNIVERSE RUNS ON EXPONENTIAL VALUES! WHAT ARE EXPONENTIAL VALUES?
For those of us who have forgotten physics, we should try and remember that all energy in the universe grows or dissipates at an exponential rate. That rate is the “Square” of the distance from the source.
Here is a graph which graphically shows and compares linear and exponential rates:
The green line represents exponential growth. The red line represents linear growth and the blue line represents cubical growth.
If we look at any phenomena on this planet, or in the Universe, we see the green line.
Look at a graph of human population growth:
As you can see by the graph or by visiting cities on this planet, we are in the last end of this graph in terms of population.
We do not know where we are in terms of temperature. We would have to derive past temperatures to point out our place on a world temperature graph.
HOWEVER, if we take 0.19C for the last fifteen years and square 0.19C two times we arrive at 1.6C (approximately) in less than 2 periods or thirty years. In other words, this planet will be 1.6C hotter somewhere in the next thirty years.
It is unlikely that plant life will tolerate drought, floods and high winds for another thirty years. If plant life will not tolerate it, neither will we.