Importance of Natural Resources

Climate Instability: Interpretations of Scientific Evidence

I would like to present the
speakers. Jerry Shnoor will be talking
first and as you can see he has
accomplished very much in
his career. I won’t go through each point
by point but he’s co-director of the Center for
Regional Environmental Research
at Iowa city and a member of the National
Academy of Engineering and editor in chief of the
Environmental Science and Technology, which I believe is
the number one journal in the
world for environmental science. He has written many publications and has
many prizes and awards from other places. Steve Goreham will be the second
speaker. He’s the director of the Climate Science Coalition
of America. He has been working for 30
years in environmental policy and
engineering and energy issues. He has his MBA from the
University of Chicago and his MS
in electrical engineering from Illinois. He’s
the author of two books, I won’t go through all the titles.
Anyway Steve I think you have some book copies
outside? And you will be available for book signing after? I won’t
take any more time. Jerry will you present? -Thanks Billy. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Can you hear me? Nope? How about this one? Is that better? Okay. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’ve
worked with many people from the CEEE at University of Northern
Iowa, including Bill Stigliani, for many years. We worked
together when he was at the National Research Council,
when he was in IIASA, that’s the International Institute for
Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. Now ever
since then in my role at the Center for Global and
Regional Environmental Research at Iowa and his role here in CEEE. It’s a great pleasure to be here and to talk about one of my
favorite things, climate, and to
try to tell you what I know about
what I’ve learned about the science of climate change. I’m not a
climatologist. I apologize for that. I am an engineer. I’m
a chemical engineer and an
environmental engineer. I work closely with
climatologists to run models of the effects on
streams and soilds and agriculture as a result of
land use and climate change. I’ll try to tell
you a little bit about what I’ve
learned and why I’ve come to believe
that climate change is a very
serious problem. It is caused by humans and it’s something that we should
take seriously and begin to act upon. I went to Iowa
State University in chemical engineering. When I
graduated if you were to tell me that we could change the entire
planet earth, this big blue marble that we’re talking about today,
I would have been a little
skeptical I think. Maybe the atmosphere. If you
look here it’s a really thin veneer. The mass
isn’t actually so great. Maybe the atmosphere,
the top 100 kilometers or so because we’re 7.2 billion
people with a gross world product that’s increasing,
doubling, every few decades. Yeah maybe we
could change the atmosphere.
Never would I have thought that we could possibly change the
oceans. It’s such a great
thermal mass but I’m gonna show you
data which indicates that indeed we are able to do that.
The thing about climate change is that it’s
not any one series of data or measurements.
Rather it’s a story. It’s a story that it
becomes quite compelling when you consider the multiple
lines of evidence. Just in this talk today alone I will
be using things from surface temperature, down
borehole records, ocean
temperature, PH, CO2 and so on and so on.
It’s all of this massive amount of information that’s
coming from so many domains. It’s not a perfect story. There’s
uncertainties to be sure and I’ll try to point
out where some of those
uncertainties are. Taken as a whole, from all
these sets of data, all these lines of evidence, it’s
a very clear and compelling story that humans are the base
of the temperature, the changes that we’re seeing
in climate today and I’ll show you why I think so.
Of course the bases that we’ve been arguing,
I’ve been taking students since 1992 to the big international meetings like the Rio Earth
Summit in 1992. I’ve seen about 190 countries
arguing for over 20 years tooth and nail about how
to turn this curve upside down. For 20 years
we’ve been arguing about this and making
very very little progress. It should at first give us some pause that
we’re unable to even make this come to a peak, let alone what
it looks like we need to do, and that is
a steep reduction off of this graph, maybe an
80% reduction in the next few decades.
When you emit that many greenhouse
gases, when you burn fossil fuel that’s
been stored in the earth’s crust for 340 million years since
the carboniferous period, that’s when the goal
was first laid down, and you mine that and you burn it and you
put it back into the atmosphere in maybe 2 or 300 hundred
years, that’s just the blink of an eye in geologic
time, of course you’re gonna
change the atmosphere. It’s a no brainer. When you take
something that’s been stored for 300 million years and re-release
it into the atmosphere in 300
years, of course you’re gonna change
the atmosphere, and indeed
we are. If you went to the doctor and
this were your blood gases, I submit that you’d be a little bit
concerned. This is our carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
and we should be a little bit concerned. We
know for sure that that carbon dioxide is
coming from humans. There’s
no debate about that. For one thing, it began in about the Industrial Revolution
when we really began to burn
coal in earnest with the invention
of the steam engine in the late 1700s, early 1800s.
It started to increase. A, the timing is right. B, the amount that’s increasing
each year, now about three parts per million each and
every year, can be fully accounted for by our measured
emissions. Both measured from satellite data and measured
from reporting areas. A, the timing is right. B, the
amount is right. We can fully account for the
accumulation of carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere based on how much we’re
emitting. It’s about half of
what we’re emitting. See the dynamics are right. We
can look at the isotopic ratios.
We know it’s coming from the fossil fuels, some of which
are as old as 300 million years old. And we can see it
mixing from the northern
hemisphere where most of the industrialized
countries are, to the southern hemisphere. The dynamics
are right. Therefore the carbon budget
is out of sync. There’s a lot
of carbon moving around to be sure. Roughly maybe nine
is due to humans, both deforestation
and direct emissions. About three of that nine we
think on net are accumulating in the terrestrial environment, a
grading, for us, that’s pretty uncertain.
We really don’t have a good handle on that globally.
We have a better handle on this number. About two of that
nine seem to be accumulating in the oceans and changing the
ocean chemistry. More about that in a moment. The remainder
is about four that’s accumulating in the
atmosphere. When I first came
to the University of Iowa some years ago I had
a slide similar to this it was at about 725 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere. Now it’s
about 800. Clearly we’re accumulating
more and more carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere. You might say
it’s 400 parts per million, that’s a trace gas right?
It is. It’s a trace gas in the atmosphere.
But why it makes a difference, the so what, the philistine
question is it’s a radiatively important trace gas. Even at
trace levels it makes a difference in the
earth’s energy budget. I’ll
show you. One of the reasons that CO2, even though it’s a trace gas,
and other greenhouse gases
matter is because they absorb at
certain bandwidths, certain wavelengths here,
here, here, and along in these smaller ones.
It’s absorbing infrared
radiation. That’s the heat from the earth
that’s coming off of the earth so in the atmosphere as we
build off these greenhouse
gases it’s like putting a blanket over the earth or
rolling up the windows of your
car in the summer time. It absorbs
that back radiation and causes anything with more
than two atoms per molecule is capable of this because it
can begin to vibrate. CO2 as you shine infrared radiation on it it begins to
vibrate. That captures the radiation and causes heat to
build up. That’s exactly what’s happening.
Also ozone can be important,
although it’s not a long term trace gas.
And water vapor is very important. More on
that later. As best as we can tell from
measurements and models, the earth’s energy
balance is out of whack by
about one watt per square meter. That
may not sound like much
because 340 or 342 are coming in from solar radiation and according to this 339 are going out. About one watter per square
meter. It may not sound like
much but it’s enough to begin to
warm the earth and cause
some pretty significant changes like melting ice. The result of that out of
whack energy budget is the increase in
temperature on average over the whole planet. This
isn’t really what bothers me, the 0.8 degrees celsius
or 1.4 degrees fahrenheit increase in
temperature overall. It’s really
the variance in that, the extremes,
that are more troubling. For areas like the arctic it’s
really quite a lot, maybe two
or three degrees celsius already
causing that. We think we understand that. It’s a
positive feedback loop in the parlance of climate change,
in that as the earth first begins to warm the arctic ice, which
is floating, starts to melt. That white reflective surface
yields to a dark sea. The dark sea warms more,
melting more ice, which causes the albedo to
decrease even more and it’s just a
positive feedback loop.
That’s why the arctic is so much warmer
than the average here in Iowa of maybe 0.8 degrees
celsius. The clearest signal to the
climatologists is this temperature signal in
the last 30 some years, since 1980.
The 1980s were warmer than
recent history. The 1990s were warmer than that. The
2000s were warmer than that.
We’ve had a series of monotonic increase in the global average
temperature in recent decades. I tell my students
that you can think of climate change is the long
term manifestation of our
energy balance. Weather is what we talk
about today that it’s raining
today. Climatologists talk about
decade as maybe the single data point. They’re
interested in decades to centuries to millennia to
hundreds of thousands of
years and that’s what we’re talking about today. We
really have about three good
data points. 80s were warmer
than before, the 90s were
warmer than that, and the 2000s were warmer than
that. There’s some interesting controversy over
this sort of pause which
we’ve seen in the 2000s. It’s shown here it’s still the warmest
decade on record but we think that’s due to an
increase in heat in the oceans that has been
transferred, which I’ll
show you in a little bit. We know that the carbon is coming from us and
we know that it’s a radiatively
important trace gas and we know that
it is beginning to warm the
earth. Here’s how we know it. First,
if you shine infrared radiation onto
greenhouse gases it will
get warmer. That’s a fact. At one point
it was called the kinetic theory of gases but that theory has
been proven so many times.
If you shine that infrared radiation 100
times on the same bag of greenhouse gases you’ll
get the same reseult 100 times. It’s a fact that these
are radiatively important
trace gases. We have satellite measurements
of the outgoing long wave radiation from the
top of the atmosphere. We can see that we’re missing the
spectrum in exactly the wavelengths that I showed
you earlier where it’s being
absorbed by the greenhouse gases. We’re
missing those wavelengths.
What’s more, we can see since 1970 a decrease
in the total energy going out. That’s consistent
with the fact that you’ve laid a blanket over the earth and you’re
beginning to keep that heat in. Furthermore, we have surface
measurements also of the spectra and the amount of
radiation coming back down
from the absorbed long wave radiation in the
atmosphere. All of these make
up the story. This multiple lines of
evidence. The compelling
story that’s consistent with first
the atmosphere warms and it’s a top down warming
from there. The result is the changes in this energy
result in increasing temperatures. It’s not one
study. The way science works
is you have a hypothesis. That hypothesis,
at the same time you have an alternative hypothesis
of what could be causing the
same phenomenon. You begin to do experiments
and you reject the alternate hypothesis and finally the
remaining hypothesis is a proven theory. It’s a theory
that everybody accepts like the law of gravitation, that the apple
will fall from the tree each and every time that it’s released
by it’s stem it’ll fall down. That’s what’s
happened here. We had the
original measurements in 2001. Followed
up by all of these peer reviewed published measurements. They
don’t agree 100%. There’s uncertainty in the values. But taken as a whole
the multiple lines of evidence very very
compelling. When you try to calculate
how much radiation could be trapped by these greenhouse
gases this is the latest assessment in the IPCC.
It was released in September of 2013 by
hundreds of scientists around the world
working on there. It’s pretty
hard to get my colleagues to agree on anything, I must
tell you. To get hundreds of scientists to sign
off on these reports is actually very very difficult. This is the
consensus. You also can see there’s big
uncertainty in how much
methane is doing, how much black
carbon is going in the atmosphere. The error
bars can be large. Yes there’s uncertainty in the estimates,
but that uncertainty again leads to a conclusion that,
summed up, some things are causing negative effects
on our energy balance, some things are causing positive
effects on our energy balance.
In net, we’ve got maybe one watt
per square meter increase
so far. We’re just at the beginning of
this thing. We’re very early in the story. Remember, only
three data points so far. It just will continue if we don’t
begin to curb our emissions. Oftentimes to audiences I don’t
even show anything about the models. So far I’ve only
shown you data, and the data
is compelling enough. But I should also mention
that another line of evidence is the models. We take everything.
First we make a back of the envelope calculation. When
things get too complicated for
that you make a spreadsheet. When
the spreadsheet will no longer do you take everything you know
about momentum, heat, and
mass transfer, you put it into a computer model. That’s the
only thing we can do is to take the best estimates of what we
know and make a calculation and we do it with computer models.
When we run the models here’s the rough observations.
When you run the models with just volcanoes, sunspot
activity, changes in the sunspot, changes
in the earth’s elliptical orientation, you get this. When you add the
greenhouse gases, the human effects, with model results you can match the data
pretty well. Without the greenhouse gases
you can’t reproduce what’s happened in the past. Solar
cycles won’t explain it, despite
what you might have heard. The solar
cycles we get about 0.1 – 0.2% change in the sun’s
energy and we call it a solar constant but it’s not. It changes.
You can see with the 11 year cycles it’s changing here. And it
hasn’t changed much since the 80s, 90s, 2000s, which
I’ve shown you where the temperatures are going
up decade by decade by decade. If you want to go more into the
solar cycles we can do that but solar correlations with global
temperatures simply don’t work. With high confidence, then, temperatures are increasing
due to human activities. We know this because the warming can be
explained by the radiative effect
of these gases that we’re adding. We know it
because we’ve measures both the outgoing long wave radiation by
satellites. It’s consistent with a warming due
to the build up of greenhouse gases. That’s satellite data.
We’ve got sensors on the earth
which are measuring the long wave
incoming radiation, which is increasing because of
this blanket that’s beginning to warm the earth. And the oceans
are warming. It can’t be explained by any transient
phenomena or even ocean
circulation. It’s very clearly a top down
warming that can only be consistent with a story that first
we’ve added the greenhouse gases, they’ve begun to warm the
atmosphere, and then those in
turn have begin to warm the oceans. We can
see the signal in the north
Atlantic 700 meters down, a diffusive
signal of warming from the sea surface all the way down.
A very consistent global climate change story. I
think it’s lost on people that we have a pretty good
measurement of how much we’re
warming. Since 2005 3,000 argo sans, or buoys, were launched.
You can go online right now and
see where they’re all floating, these 3,000
sans. They’re giving us a really good
picture of all the energy coming in and all the energy going out.
If more is coming in than is going out, you can be sure that
you’re warming. And it’s a top
down warming. They’re solar powered.
They dive down 2,000 meters and the entire
ocean is warming as a result of this climate change. It’s a lot of warmth actually. We
said that 0.8 degrees fahrenheit in the
atmosphere maybe doesn’t sound
like very much but when you sum it up for
the whole oceans it’s about 20 times the primary energy
consumption of the entire planet. 20 times. It’s quite a
legacy that we’re leaving for future
generations. Here’s the sea
surface temperatures from NOAA.
Just in my lifetime, the last 50
years, sea surface temperatures have
increased when you smear this
over the whole planet about one degree
fahrenheit roughly. Remember 1.4 degrees fahrenheit in the
atmosphere, one degree
fahrenheit in sea surface temperature. Top down phenomena
first caused by the addition of greenhouse gases. What’s
more, remember I said you would have never convinced me
that we could change the oceans
in my lifetime. It’s not just the radiative effect
of these greenhouse gases, it’s the sheer chemical effect.
We’re massively out of balance on the
oxidation reduction reactions in the atmosphere
because when you take something
that’s been stored for 300 million years and you use oxygen from
the atmosphere to combust i
right now you’re gonna have an excess
of oxidating products. Those
oxidation products include carbon dioxide. That
carbon dioxide is a weak acid. The weak acid is exchanging
with the ocean and beginning to acidify the ocean.
In my lifetime the PH of the ocean has changed
from about 8.2 to 8.08. That may not sound like much
but it’s about a 30% increase in acidity just in the
last 50 years. That’s an amazing change,
both in the chemistry and the thermal mass and quite
a legacy we’re leaving for future generations. This shows also
the increase in CO2, the decrease in PH, consistent
with Henry’s law, and the gas exchange
at the surface where PCO2 is increasing as a result
of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There’s other
effects that we haven’t talked about but I’ll go through
quickly. Those include very heavy precipitation events. We have
satellite data that shows very
clearly an increase in high clouds. We
have infrared instruments on the air on the aquasatellite.
These infrared instruments can see the
increase in humidity. You may
have noticed it. Our nights are warmer due to
more moisture in the air. It makes
sense because as you begin
to warm the earth it’s a warmer atmosphere,
it can hold more water, there’s more evaporation
from the oceans. More evaporation means more moisture
in the air. We see it very clearly
with the satellite data. More moisture in the air means
more high clouds. More high
clouds means more intense precipitation events. Again a
very consistent and compelling story overall.
In the midwest about a 45%. You experience it here
in Waterloo on Monday night. If you look
back in the record at Waterloo
Cedar Falls, it’s about a 100 year record,
you’re very hardpressed to find a day when you had four inches
of rain in a single day. I’ve done it. If you look now it’s really not
uncommon to have a four inch rainfall here. That’s the kind of
change you see. This is the
clearest thing in your instrumental record
is the increase in very heavy precipitation
events and it’s completely consistent with the climate change story. In
Iowa we’ve seen increase in very heavy precipitation.

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