Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Massive Scientific Evidence for Manmade Global Warming

I just read James McCarthy's address to the AAAS to be presented at the annual meeting. McCarthy is the outgoing President of the apex scientific professional organization in the United States. He will give the lecture to an audience of scientists, but relatively few specialized in his area of expertise. He provides an overview of the aggregation of evidence and analysis over the last 150 years which has convinced most scientists that anthropogenic global warming is taking place and that the effects will include a significant sea level rise in this century as well changes in weather patterns. Unusual in a public address, he provides 59 references tracing the key elements in the science of climate change.

I note especially this comment:
Ironically, as assessments of climate change science and climate impacts have increasingly called attention to changes in climate and documented impacts that were not evident even a half decade earlier (13–15), the Earth-observing systems on which advances in this science depend are woefully underfunded. Budgets to develop, deploy, and operate these systems and to support the scientific use of the data have not grown in proportion to the widely recognized need for these capabilities. Worse, domestic funding to sustain them has actually declined over the past decade, even though the United States pioneered many of these systems. Some of the systems now at risk are international partnerships with U.S. funding requirements.

Several organizations have been rising to the challenge of prioritization and support for the deployment of new satellite sensors and renewal of those essential time-series observations of atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial properties and processes. For example, in 2007 a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) prioritized 17 new Earth-observation missions for the 2010–2020 time period out of more than 100 that were proposed. A few months later, the AAAS Board issued a Board Statement on the "Crisis in Earth Observation from Space." It stated that the NRC had provided the "blueprint for a program that will bring immense returns for modest costs" and urged the Congress and the Administration to implement this plan.

The decline in funding for Earth observations has in part been a consequence of NASA's refocusing of priorities with a new emphasis on a return mission to the Moon and on to Mars. The outcome of the Obama Administration's review of NASA's mission for the next decade will signal the degree to which the United States is committed to sustaining and enhancing critical Earth observations.
The Bush administration spent years denying climate change research, and the switch of NASA priorities to manned space exploration and away from earth science gave not only a quick publicity gain among non-scientists but reduced the accumulation of evidence about climate change -- evidence that some in the administration and some of its supporters probably did not want.

If you still have doubts, check this figure from the paper:

Fig. 6. Global surface temperature. Global ranked surface temperatures for the warmest 50 years. The inset shows global ranked surface temperatures from 1850. The size of the bars indicates the 95% confidence limits associated with each year. The source data are blended land-surface air temperature and sea surface temperature from the HadCRUT3 series. Values are simple area-weighted averages for the whole year (28).

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