Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Give Michael Tobis his Jim Hansen moment

Michael argues that the Russian warming is virtually inexplicable without anthropogenic climate change (and follows it up in his blog). If he's correct, then this would be the first severe weather event that we could specifically say was made worse by climate change, as opposed to just saying that the dice had been loaded by climate change.

His argument's getting some attention, but not what it deserves. Hansen had his 1988 moment in front of Congress saying that global warming had already arrived, and Michael should have the same chance to say the same thing about tying specific weather events to climate change.

Of course there's the tiny issue of whether Michael's correct, something I can't really judge. The same question was in place when Hansen testified to Congress, though. Just because it's not yet known as a certainty isn't justification for downplaying it - let's get the word out, with uncertainties expressed.

It should also be noted that specific physical events (not just statistical changes) that we can tie to climate change right now also include sea level rise and ocean acidification, but they're quite as dramatic as Russia on fire.

UPDATE: Michael Tobis backs off slightly, and finds Pat Michaels making his first worthwhile contribution to science in years. While the Russian heating may still be unprecedented, the case for being it nearly impossible without climate change is less strong now.


  1. It's interesting how easy it is even for informed people to forget about the expansion of the tropics and the associated poleward shift of the atmospheric circulation, especially as this is the one that relates to extreme weather events. That this effect gets so little attention, indeed that it wasn't seen as cause for the human race to hit the collective panic button, is proof that evolution has not prepared us to deal with climate change. Most of us simply seem unable to grasp the problem.

  2. And now he's forwarded on (or whatever the opposite of backing off is), Pat and Chip having been caught pulling their usual tricks.

    All of this is turning into an interesting discussion within the climate science community, as can be seen here. As best I can tell from KT's slides, he thinks the very hot Indian Ocean was the major culprit in pulling the jet south. Note that unlike the "Climate CSI" team he analyzes the whole event, which IMVHO is best. It'll be informative to get the more complete picture from him. But actually the most interesting thing is his message on messaging, noting slides 12 and 23 in particular.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.