Climate Change: It May Be Worse Than We Thought

Kevin Drum, a blogger at Mother Jones, visits his friend, Jeff Park, a geology professor at Yale, and learns about some new work with climate models that suggest it may be worse than we thought, much worse:

The model originally concluded that a doubling of CO2 produces a temperature increase just under three degrees Celsius, an estimate that’s in pretty good agreement with other models. So far, so good. But 500 million years is a long time, and several researchers have proposed that climate sensitivity might vary over that period depending on whether or not the earth is in an ice age. So in the new paper, the authors modeled glacial and non-glacial eras separately. And the best fit with the data suggests that climate sensitivity does indeed change depending on glaciation. In fact, during an ice age, the most probable climate sensitivity is six to eight degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2, more than twice the previous estimate.

Why do we care? As the authors drily put it, “Because the human species lives in a glacial interval of Earth history, this modeling result has more than academic interest.” You see, the most recent ice age in human history is the one that started about 30 million years ago and continues to the present day. We’re living through a glacial interval right now, and that means that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere might produce a temperature increase of six to eight degrees Celsius, not the mere three degrees Celsius most commonly estimated.

Read Drum’s full article here.

Comments

7 Responses to “Climate Change: It May Be Worse Than We Thought”
  1. Anna Haynes says:

    Thanks Don.
    If anyone’s wondering what they can do, that *does* make a difference, it’s this:
    Help build the political will to put policies in place to fight climate change. Build political will by talking to people; or, if bringing up the subject feels awkward, wear a Tshirt that sends the message or a widely misunderstood aspect thereof , e.g. this one (link) – this turns out to be a surprisingly effective way to get the word out.

    I’ve suggested to an APPLE board member – if climate education is part of APPLE’s mission, they’ll probably want to participate in this. Saturate our community this summer with simple and effective climate information, in a form that reaches beyond the choir.

  2. Anna Haynes says:

    Thanks Don.
    If anyone’s wondering what they can do, that *does* make a difference, it’s this:
    Help build the political will to put policies in place to fight climate change. Build political will by talking to people; or, if bringing up the subject feels awkward, wear a Tshirt that sends the message or a widely misunderstood aspect thereof , e.g. this one (link) – this turns out to be a surprisingly effective way to get the word out.

    I’ve suggested to an APPLE board member that, if climate education is part of APPLE’s mission, they’ll probably want to participate in this. Saturate our community this summer with simple and effective climate information, in a form that reaches beyond the choir.

  3. Anna Haynes says:

    (oops, didn’t realize it went through both times – the later one has a grammar fix.)

  4. Anna Haynes says:

    I ordered some shirts after the 4th of July parade, thinking to flourish them in front of The Earth Store’s proprietor & urge her to sell them; but time’s a’wastin’, so if anyone (else) wants a shirt to wear to gatherings, this summer, let me know…

  5. depelton says:

    Thanks, Anna. Excellent tee-shirt and mug:

  6. Anna Haynes says:

    Also this one (link) (There is no Planet B)

    And the poster, that I’ve just left a phone msg for Gary Tintle asking permission to put it up in Alpha Building windows, is here (link)

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