(12k) Less quick warming - a blessing?


New Scientist (The head is still on, 7 December 2013) describes how it seems the increase of the temperate of our planet has slowed and thus climate change deniers are celebrating because they can now claim they were right while scientists were wrong. Scientists on the other hand wonder why this happens.

Together with climate change scientists, I am not so sure we should celebrate this already. Indeed, oceans are warming deeper and surface temperate is rising that may result in heavier storms as we recently experienced in the Philippines but also in Europe whereby the UK is already facing for about one month one storm after another that were so violent that parts of the UK felt in the sea at the beginning of December.

Energy is used to change systems, e.g. to melt ice and thus energy used to melt the ice will have no immediate effect on the temperate. In addition, ice that melts is cold water that needs to warm, and again, warming means removing energy from the surrounding areas and thus temperate increase of the air may stop as it is used to increase water temperature. What may happen when the water in the oceans warmed sufficiently? Will the surface temperature rise again, now maybe helped by warmer water in winter? Low pressure may return as happened in the beginning of December, sucking the surface of the oceans and moisture in the air so a new springtide with large amounts of rain may happen again? We don't want storm after storm, do we? And warmer water means expansion of water, thus more flooding.

Further, CO2 dissolved in water makes it more acidic, therefore more problems for the animals living in the oceans (although it seems some already adapted (New Scientist, "Pacific coral happy as water acidity rises", 4 January 2014)). Warmer waters also contain less oxygen, causing even more problems for sea live (New Scientist, "Choking oceans complete 'deadly trio' for marine life, 12 October 2013). We know this, it is simply chemistry and physics, still we ignore the sciences behind all of this; many even mistrust the scientists and believe the polluters.

I hope our politicians but also business leaders will take responsibility because the immediate effects may be that areas may disappear under the seas although the longer-term effects may be a nice and warm planet. But as they are now deciding whether to remove gas out of stone (I sometimes wonder how much gas is really left if some become so desperate they are going to use a difficult and expensive technique) while reducing tax reductions to stimulate investment in green energy, we can only conclude climate change will continue to happen and will continue to hurt us ever more. And taking responsibilities doesn't mean blaming cows that farting or poor people warming themselves cause climate change but means investing in clean energy, helping people to pay for energy efficiency and reducing CO2 release by industry. If not, most investments may be destroyed by climate change although climate change may result in everyone becomes equal in their homeliness.

What is happening at this moment? North America has a major cold spell with record low temperatures. This means cold air that sinks. Above Europe, temperatures at almost record high (14°C on 6 January 2014 in Belgium while average temperate should be 5°C). Warm air means air rises. Thus, probably (very cold) winds from North America may start blowing towards Europe and thus more storms battering the UK with major flooding while also temperatures in the UK and elsewhere may go down. This cold spell may even be the result of climate change as melted Arctic ice may have resulted in changed weather patterns. Still, many decision makers continue to think fracking (i.e. more gas to burn) is the future. These storms may force even more austerity as damage costs money and certain governments want even bigger reduction of their deficit.

Still, some claim you can't rely on extremes. Correct, you should take many things into account: average temperatures are rising (although less quickly than expected as mentioned at the start of the article) while extremes become more extreme. This together with computer models hint towards climate change. And extremes all over the world may influence each other, either cancelling each other or worsening things. What may happen when freezing cold air blow over warmer oceans while in the past this was ice? Even worse storms, coming from many direction? (Also in Antarctica boats get stuck because strong winds blow the ice together). Future will tell.

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