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Over the past few years, I've gained a better understanding of the climate and the extent to which it is getting worse by reading a lot, but I've also noticed how difficult it is to get that information, and I think I've come to understand why so few people out there bother to pay attention to the issue, even though it will directly effect them.

To paraphrase  Bill McKibben, if in 6 months the rate of unemployment should go up by half a percent, everyone will notice and they will scream about it.  On the other hand, similar numbers are not being published for the environment, and without the existence of such numbers most people simply don't notice what's going on.

It's not a new idea, 350.org was started on the bases that it was felt we needed to keep the parts per million of Co2 to 350 to protect the environment.  Unfortunately we are now at 392 parts per million.

However, it's an oversimplification.  For instance, methane plays a role in this, so that is something else that needs to be tracked to.  And then of course, there are tipping points.  Melting arctic permafrost is going ot have an effect on changing temperatures.  

I know that there are a lot of people here who keep track of these things, so at this point I'd like to ask the community what numbers they think are most important for understanding the trends of climate change.  If you could include the best sources to go to, on the internet or possibly otherwise, I would appreciate it.  I mean sources that continue to track the same data and update it on a yearly basis in particular.

I would like to have more information, but beyond that, I think that we should have a conversation about what numbers are important, and we should make it our own personal business to inform people about exactly what is going on.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    asym, chakadog

    Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

    by martianexpatriate on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 12:06:32 PM PST

  •  CO2 is a lot more important than methane though (0+ / 0-)

    ...for the climate change outlook because it has a much longer half-life in the atmosphere. Same with water--quick turnaround time for that, and it's concentrated at lower altitudes.

    •  So let's say that I wanted to find (0+ / 0-)

      out how about water depletion, or how quickly water is being used in different areas, and taken from other areas.

      Is someone tracking that, and is someone publishing that information somewhere?  I haven't seen it so far, but I'd actually like to know.

      Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

      by martianexpatriate on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 12:15:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Start with your local water board (0+ / 0-)

        I actually looked into this one.  Somebody in the local water board had access to studies.

        You'll need to make yourself into an expert to find the data, is all.

        [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

        by mbayrob on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 02:56:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  A huge problem is the temperature scale itself. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Calamity Jean

    When we discuss a 2-3 degree increase in atmospheric temperature, be it Celsius or Fahrenheit, the number itself is part of the problem. We experience daily temperature ranges of 20-30 degrees, so the threat of a 1-2 degree increase in average air temperature probably seems trivial to many folks.

    One way to get at this is to point out that a 2-3 degree increase in human body temperature means a 101-102 degree fever.  Nothing trivial about that!

  •  We should not be providing numbers. (0+ / 0-)

    We need to make the Deniers provide numbers.

    Make them state what CO2 levels, temperatures, ice coverages, number of hurricanes, etc., they would find unacceptable.

    There are two or three hypotheses  on the table, such as:

    a) Climate is changing
    b) The change is bad for the USA
    c) The change is caused by human activity

    Most Deniers reject one or more of these statements. We need to say to them, "Fine. How hot does it have to get before you accept the hypotheses?"  

    We had a flood in Manhattan, and they claim to be unconvinced. Ask them what would convince them. What if the Bronx flooded? Or Albany? Or Atlanta?

    Forcing deniers to speak in scientific terms based on numerical measurements and testable hypotheses will expose most of them as fools and the remainder as liars.

    •  That's a nice idea, but... (0+ / 0-)

      well, they won't do that. The classic way that deniers argue is by cherry picking some specific anecdote of a time when it didn't get that warm.  They essentially throw up a lot of bullshit and then refuse to go to specifics.  

      Part of the issue is that we really don't control the conversation.  They can throw out this stuff on their own web sites, and generally will refuse to engage in any real debate unless its on their terms.

      Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

      by martianexpatriate on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:41:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  CO2e (0+ / 0-)
    "Equivalent CO2 (CO2e) is the concentration of CO2 that would cause the same level of radiative forcing as a given type and concentration of greenhouse gas. Examples of such greenhouse gases are methane, perfluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide. CO2e is expressed as parts per million by volume, ppmv."
    The rule of thumb I've heard from climate scientists is that methane, CFCs, nitrous oxides and other greenhouse gases add another 40-50 parts per million of CO2 equivalent so we are between 440 and 450 ppm C02e or so right now.

    I prefer a zero emissions standard myself.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:02:58 PM PST

  •  The data's there (0+ / 0-)

    And a lot of it is available on the net.  But it's a lot of data.

    And by a lot, I mean huge amounts of data.  More data than almost anyone could gather, process and get on a single computer.

    You'd need to take some courses in the relevant academic disciplines and learn something about modeling.  But my understanding is that a lot of observational data is shared.  It just doesn't lend itself to being summarized in a way that you could readily share it.

    [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

    by mbayrob on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 02:55:02 PM PST

    •  When I ask for specific numbers, (0+ / 0-)

      I'm asking for specific ranges, like Co2 and methane which will obviously change as time goes by.  I'm wondering what other types of numbers  people have heard, or where you could at least start looking for them.

      So long as the best answer we can give someone is... .'well look around. There are lots of numbers!"  We are totally screwed... that won't cut it.

      Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

      by martianexpatriate on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:43:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know a climate scientist (0+ / 0-)

        a full professor who's been working on measuring C02 sources since his graduate school days.

        There is a lot of work to do in basic research, and he simply doesn't have time to market his work, if that's what you're asking.  I asked him a version of your question some years ago, and he pointed out that simply by looking at the amount of C02 now in the atmosphere, it was basically obvious that we'd fucked with planet's climate.  All the rest was physics, and not very controversial or difficult physics at that.

        I also think your basic premise is wrong.  There are good popular books on climate, starting with Al Gore's.  Evidence for extreme weather is out there for anybody with open eyes to see.  If you think that having some more easily digested factoids will make a difference, you probably don't understand the problem.

        [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

        by mbayrob on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:15:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not questioning the science at all (0+ / 0-)

          And i think you're very much wrong about that.  You don't understand human psychology.  Easily digestible factoids are absolutely what people think in... and when Republicans counter "We should do something about the climate," with, "But that will raise the prices 10%!" or "It will cause 10% unemployment!" they absolutely are countering with easily digestible factoids.  

          Because these factoids are repeated constantly by journalists as well as experts, and those numbers are tracked on a monthly basis, but the counter is always sort of vague, or worse a number the public has never heard before, the economy is always viewed as more important.

          I think you're the one who doesn't understand the problem.  I can perfectly understand why a scientist would describe this as a generalization, but it's not the scientists I'm worried about.  They already know this is going on.

          Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

          by martianexpatriate on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:21:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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