Saturday, March 29, 2014

Seeing is believing

Nasa has produced a striking time lapse animation of global temperature change since 1880. From their website: 'This color-coded map displays a progression of changing global surface temperatures anomalies from 1880 through 2012. Higher than normal temperatures are shown in red and lower then normal temperatures are shown in blue. Global surface temperature in 2012 was +0.55.'

Added 30 March:
So one might ask: where are the dramatic consequences of these dramatic temperature rises? Maybe they can be found in the new IPCC report by working group 2?


Anonymous said...

The hiatus in the last five seconds is really impressing. We should talk more about it.


EliRabett said...

Horace Mitchell has indeed built something special in the Scientific Visualization Studio. The first things from there that Eli saw were fly-ins from space, but working with GSFC scientists, finding new ways to visualize and understand earth and space science, the work is simply outstanding.

Anonymous said...

Andreas, yes let's do that! ;)

@ReinerGrundmann said...

In fact, the hiatus looks like a non-issue when watching this video (why on earth do people discuss the hiatus one may ask). The animation is quite dramatic and you would think that it cannot get much worse, given the colour codling. However, if the models are correct (and the hiatus eventually disappears) there is more temperature rise to come, so the colours would need re-adjusting in future versions of the video, maybe by adding a dark pink and dark brown?

On the other hand the new WG2 report apparently will provide the storyline which fits the dramatic visuals: hotter temperatures lead to hotter tempers, which lead to more violence. The Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war are given as examples of this. Not kidding.

Anonymous said...

The colour would be purple

Werner Krauss said...

@ Reiner

I just followed your link, and the Arab spring and Syrian civil war examples are from a retired U.S. Navy Adm(iral?):

"Climate change will not directly cause conflict — but it will exacerbate issues of poor governance, resource inequality and social unrest," retired U.S. Navy Adm. David Titley, now a Pennsylvania State University professor of meteorology, wrote in an email. "The Arab Spring and Syria are two recent examples."

And even this Admiral agrees with Richard Tol:

"But Titley, who wasn't part of the IPCC report, says "if you are already living in a place affected by violent conflict — I suspect climate change becomes the least of your worries.""


Werner Krauss said...

(sorry, I forgot to finish the last sentence): Interesting, because the news is a) more nuanced and b) obviously is NOT from the WG2.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

I have not been able to get a download of the report (site crashes) but the Guardian says the following:

"Climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war and inter-group violence"

How this statement will be interpreted in the now starting public debate will be interesting. Neil Adger is hedging the bets by introducing several qualifiers:

"Climate change, on its own, does not start wars," said Neil Adger, a professor of geography at Exeter University, and one of the authors of the report.

"But it does have a hand in producing situations that lead to conflict"

"The things that drive conflict are sensitive to climate, particularly poverty and economic shocks,"

"If there is a decrease in food supply or lots of people are pushed into poverty … it creates the environment where you are susceptible to conflict,"

"It will be within communities or between farmers and it might not necessarily be violent,"

"It's more likely to be more local and more site-specific."

"Conflict itself actually reduces the ability of places to react to climate change,"

"The impact of conflict in destabilising regions, wiping out infrastructure, not allowing the state to fulfil its social contract to protect its own people … conflict itself is making people more vulnerable to climate change."

The argument here is about indirect causal chains, mainly via resource scarcity. But even this line of reasoning rests on additional assumptions about some countries not being able to adapt to climate change impacts. It also assumes unrest to be bad because it destabilizes the state. What if the regime in such countries is part of the problem?

So in this case the causality is less direct but still assumed through intervening variables. The overall climate determinism is intact, as is the Western arrogance of assuming poor countries will remain poor and unable to cope.

hvw said...


And even this Admiral agrees with Richard Tol: "... if you are already living in a place affected by violent conflict — I suspect climate change becomes the least of your worries."

That sounds pretty self-evident, no?

It seems you fell for Tol's strawman, which he constructed just for his little PR stunt.

Werner Krauss said...


my intention was to show exactly what you write - to point out the strawman quality of the statement that WG2 links war and climate change in this way. (except R.Tol refers to a paragraph in the 2000 pp WG2 I am not aware of).

hvw said...


Ok, sorry, I misread your comment then.

The more interesting criticism is the accusation of "climate determinism". My impression is that indeed quite a number of environmental scientists lean towards such a thing, but that QC of AR5 WGII should have served to keep the report unaffected. It would be helpful to have a topical definition of "climate determinism", as the traditional meaning with a racist and colonialist sub-text doesn't seem to apply to the criticisms that are being hinted at, here. Something more tangible than Hulme's 2011 attempt would be in order too.

Anonymous said...

Ein zugegeben sehr langer Beitrag über die Entwicklung in Syrien bis zum Bürgerkrieg:

Man beachte die Auswirkungen der Dürre (einfach mutig nach unten scrollen). Ja, die Situation war vorher schon sehr angespannt, aber die Flüchtlingsströme aufgrund der Dürre haben es dann eskalieren lassen.

Vernichtete Existenzen, Bürgerkriegstote etc.: Will jemand jetzt ernsthaft darüber diskutieren, ob das der (womögliche) Sturz eines diktatorischen Regimes wert sei??
Und selbst wenn: es können auch Demokratien destabilisiert werden.

Werner, ich habe Sie auch nicht verstanden. Sie halten die Aussage, dass der Klimawandel problemverschärfend wirkt, für so trivial, dass man dies nicht extra erwähnen muss?


Werner Krauss said...


nein, ich wollte doch nur darauf hinweisen, dass Reiners link nicht zum IPCC Report, sondern zu einem Pressebericht über den IPCC Report führt, wo wiederum ein Admiral zitiert wird. Ansonsten habe ich zu dem Thema Krieg / Klima gerade keine interessante Aussage auf Lager. Leider.