The Sum of Complexity

As Dr Judith Curry has tried to communicate to me, the physical science of Climatology is full of deep complexity, with strong ranging on a number of processes.

Just to take a typical example – the Hurricane storm track in the Caribbean. Different years produce different levels of risk, and a constantly updated projection is needed as short-term relevant climatic factors shift.

But despite the likelihood of any particular Tropical Depression forming, the range of its strength and the eventual pathway, there is still a clearly identifiable track that storms take – that Stephen Schneider called “Hurricane Alley”.

This kind of “big picture” of regional and even global phenomena means that we can safely scale out from the inner workings of individual changes in air pressure, prevailing winds and humidity and take in the larger-scale, longer-term trends.

Continue reading The Sum of Complexity

Unpicking Kyoto (5)

Unpicking Kyoto
Jo Abbess
20 June 2010

PART 5

CONTINUED FROM : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

Linking Climate Change to other Environmental Problems

The Greenhouse Gas Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from humankind’s activities is accumulating very rapidly in the Atmosphere, and this is why the international Climate Change negotiations and Climate Change Science focus on it so heavily.

The warming response of the Earth’s surface correlates strongly with the rise in Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere, so Global Warming can be treated almost entirely as the Earth system’s reaction to rising levels of this one gas.

Other Greenhouse Gases, such as Methane (CH4) and high level water vapour (H2O), are increasing in line with the rise in Carbon Dioxide.

Logic and experiment dictates that they are doing this in response to the rise in Carbon Dioxide, so their rise is a feedback effect in the Earth system – a reaction to rising temperatures – caused by the warming due to increasing airborne Carbon Dioxide.

However, Carbon Dioxide is not the only Greenhouse Gas that humankind is pumping into the Atmosphere in excess of natural levels – a rather famous example being that growing numbers of livestock are belching Methane that is adding to the up-tick on concentrations of Methane in the Atmosphere.

There are still high levels of various gaseous industrial pollution, some of which is in the form of Greenhouse Gases.

In addition, Global Warming is not the only environmental problem, although it is exacerbating other environmental problems.

Climate Change is an added stressor on natural habitats that are being degraded by pollution, bad land management and deforestation.

It seems obvious to take a step back to the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and mesh together once more the environmental threads of the United Nations conventions : on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification.

Continue reading Unpicking Kyoto (5)