Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

Climate disruptions already bringing extreme heat, drought, downpours to Midwest

drought-stricken corn field
REUTERS/Larry Downing
Of particular concern to the Midwest are the the direct effects of increased heat stress, flooding, drought and late spring freezes.
Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience. So, too, are coastal planners in Florida, water managers in the arid Southwest, city dwellers from Phoenix to New York, and Native Peoples on tribal lands from Louisiana to Alaska. ...

Thus begins the National Climate Assessment issued yesterday morning at the White House, a report so accessible and compellingly written that I saw no point in trying the journalist's usual task of simplifying science. It continues:

Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods.

Other changes are even more dramatic. Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Insurance rates are rising in some vulnerable locations, and insurance is no longer available in others. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last later into the fall, and burn more acreage. In Arctic Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and autumn storms now cause more erosion, threatening many communities with relocation.

This year's assessment is the third in a series of reports ordered by Congress in 1990 on what was to be a quadrennial schedule. It hasn't worked out that way: The Clinton administration took its time on the first assessment, bringing it out in 2000. The Bush administration just took a pass, leaving to President Barack Obama's team to produce the second, in 2009, and now the third.

All three have been characterized by solid science, transparent documentation and clear-eyed, expert analysis by large panels (about 60 principal authors were convened for this edition, and they were aided by more than 250 other collaborators).

But this year's report makes big advances in reader utility and appeal, especially in its visual style and an interactive approach that lets you chart your own path through its mass based on what particular impacts, parts of the country or other special interests hold your greatest concern.

2014 National Climate Assessment
The report projects nationwide temperature change under differing CO2 emissions scenarios.

You can tell it's a report meant to be read by the wider public, rather than merely referenced by their media gatekeepers. We can only hope this strategy pays off, because the time available for meaningful action to mitigate climate disruption — the report does not shrink from that apt and accurate terminology — is shrinking fast.

Emphasis on here and now

Of necessity the report discusses the current state of climate science and modeling, but its primary focus is, first, on the observable impacts plainly traceable to changing climate, and then on possible coping strategies.

2014 National Climate Assessment
Flood magnitudes have been increasing in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

Climate scientists have long spoken with confidence about the general problem of global warming, and also about possible solutions. Over the last several years they've been shedding a longstanding reluctance to talk about the middle piece — the linkages between here-and-now changes and complex global systems — and the report says this shift, too, represents advances in understanding.

What is new over the last decade is that we know with increasing certainty that climate change is happening now.

It is notable that as these data records have grown longer and climate models have become more comprehensive, earlier predictions have largely been confirmed. The only real surprises have been that some changes, such as sea level rise and Arctic sea ice decline, have outpaced earlier projections.

Two prime examples:

  • Prolonged periods of high temperatures and the persistence of high nighttime temperatures have increased in many locations (especially in urban areas) over the past half century. High nighttime temperatures have widespread impacts because people, livestock, and wildlife get no respite from the heat. ... Evidence indicates that the human influence on climate has already roughly doubled the probability of extreme heat events such as the record-breaking summer heat experienced in 2011 in Texas and Oklahoma.
  • Water quality and quantity are being affected by climate change. Changes in precipitation and runoff, combined with changes in consumption and withdrawal, have reduced surface and groundwater supplies in many areas. These trends are expected to continue, increasing the likelihood of water shortages for many uses. Water quality is also diminishing in many areas, particularly due to sediment and contaminant concentrations after heavy downpours.

Closeup on the Midwest

As for potentially positive effects of a warming climate, the report highlights just two as it looks to the near future — longer growing seasons for some crops in some places, and longer availability of shipping conditions on the Great Lakes — and these would seem to favor Minnesotans.

2014 National Climate Assessment
The Midwest region has been one of the most affected by increased heavy precipitation in recent years.

However, the overall impacts laid out in the report actually seem to especially disfavor the eight-state Midwest region lying east of the Great Plains and north of the Ohio River:

Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Climate change will also exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes ...

Direct effects of increased heat stress, flooding, drought, and late spring freezes on natural and managed ecosystems may be multiplied by changes in pests and disease prevalence, increased competition from non-native or opportunistic native species, ecosystem disturbances, land-use change, landscape fragmentation, atmospheric pollutants, and economic shocks such as crop failures or reduced yields due to extreme weather events. 

Other points that caught my eye in the Midwest section:

  • The region has been warming somewhat more rapidly than the nation overall, when temperatures of the past 22 years are compared with an average for the first 60 years of the last century; the northern portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan have been warming at some of the highest rates in the country — more than 1.5 degrees F.
  • Looking to the so-called "billion-dollar list" produced annual for the insurance industry, "in 2011, 11 of the 14 U.S. weather-related disasters with damage of more than $1 billion affected the Midwest."
  • Though the growing season for crops like corn and soybeans has lengthened by about two weeks since 1950, as the last-freeze dates have come earlier, this is not purely good news. "For corn, small long-term average temperature increases will shorten the duration of reproductive development, leading to yield declines, even when offset by carbon dioxide (CO2) stimulation., For soybeans, yields have a two in three chance of increasing early in this century due to CO2 fertilization, but these increases are projected to be offset later in the century by higher temperature stress."
  • We can expect to lose "many iconic tree species such as paper birch, quaking aspen, balsam fir, and black spruce . . . across the northern Midwest as they shift northward." While mountain species can reach cooler climes by climbing, higher, and traveling just a few miles, "in flat terrain like the Midwest [trees] must move as much as 90 miles north to reach a similarly cooler habitat."
  • The Midwest does have an opportunity to contribute disproportionately to solutions based on carbon-emission reductions in the energy sector, that's a reflection of the painful fact that with existing systems, "energy use per dollar of gross domestic product is approximately 20% above the national average, and per capita greenhouse gas emissions are 22% higher than the national average due, in part, to the reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal for electricity generation."
  • Finally, while there may be benefits in further lengthening of the Great Lakes shipping season, which expanded an average of eight days per year between 1994 and 2011, negative effects of changing climate include higher surface-water temperatures in summer, less ice cover in winter and a corresponding increase in the growth of blue-green and toxic algae.

    And long-term declines in overall lake levels could translate into shallower shipping channels and thus less cargo per vessel, potentially offsetting any lengthening of the operating season.

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Related Tags:

About the Author:

Comments (99)

The Price of Beef

For a direct connection that most citizens have with the effects of global climate change, all we need to do is check the price of beef in the local grocery store.

The high price of steaks, roasts, even hamburger, is a direct result of the drought and heat in the South Central US over the past year.

With the continuing drought in California, fruit and vegetable prices are already following suit.

Many Americans are being forced to change their diet as a direct result of global climate change.


Crazy liberals and your "climate" hysteria.

Good report, but more is needed

Hopefully this report, as accessibly written as it is, will help move public opinion. But, as we have repeatedly seen, providing good information backed by solid science is not enough.

It is the active disinformation campaign of the fossil fuels industry and conservative political operatives, and their effectiveness in sowing doubt among gullible Americans of very limited scientific education, that is holding us back. It is not enough to continually be on the defensive, fighting a rear-guard action to defend established science that should not need defending. The agenda of those willing to sacrifice the natural environment, and the well-being of billions of people, for the sake of profits and political power, and the money trail that supports it, needs to be exposed, attacked and discredited. The denialists employ the same tactics that were employed by the tobacco industry while fighting the link to cancer (and indeed, tobacco money helps support the denialist crowd, apparently on the theory that skepticism of science serves the tobacco agenda as well).

If I may borrow from popular culture, I believe it was Captain Kirk who once said, "The best defense is a good offense, and I intend to start offending right now." Time to start offending. What is needed is credible leadership and deep pockets to match the deep pockets of the other side. Hopefully such leadership will step forward. I'm not sure it's Obama though; his leadership on this issue has been tepid at best.

Minnpost does this so well.

It's nice to see an article on this report that includes so much specific information. It makes it clear that the Upper Midwest is almost certainly locked into another 3 degrees F no matter what, and is likely to see quite a bit more than that due to continuing inaction on carbon emissions.

That may not seem like much, but it will have profound impacts. Getting more of our rainfall in big dumps will cause a lot of runoff, sedimentation and flooding problems and won't do farmers much good. Warmer winter temperatures (this past winter notwithstanding) will heavily favor fast-growing invasives as well as ever increasing populations of pests such as ticks and bark beetles. A small increase in water temperatures will also hammer species such as walleye and trout.

I'll end up missing most of the problems, but my grandkids will not live in the Minnesota that I do. That Minnesota will look a lot more like Oklahoma. And forget about grilling steaks. Tofu brats will probably remain reasonably priced for a while, though.

Another refreshing thing about reading such articles here is the lack of sockpuppetry due to Minnpost's real-name comment policy. Any news site that allows pseudonymous commenting is immediately flooded with repetitive and politicized posts in response to any article regarding climate change. No wonder Popular Science threw up their hands and eliminated their comments.


I certainly have noticed the rise in grocery prices. And I think it'll only continue to be a problem due to climate change.

The lakes up north are changing too in the types of weeds they support and the water clarity is diminishing also. Very possibly hurting fisheries, not only here but globally changing the world's water habitat.

Our atmosphere is extremely thin. Viewing it in photos from outer space that becomes apparent. It's one thin blue line.

Pollution doesn't escape our atmosphere. What's polluted here stays here. We just add to it as the law of gravity keeps it with us.

Yes, the future is

Yes, the future is here.

Drought intensifying from California to Texas, from Mexico to Nebraska.

Warning of impending "dust bowl" conditions in the next few weeks in OK region.

Temperatures above 100 degrees from Texas to Kansas--about a month and a half early.

Only 18% of normal snow amounts to water the west


It makes me wonder what all the people in the southwest are going to do when there isn't enough water for their cities. Will their property values drop? Will we see a mass migration within the United States as people move from the drier areas to places with water?

Depending on the advances of medical science, I'll probably be around to see the effects first hand.

What will happen?

I'm guessing there will be renewed agitation for a water pipeline from the Great Lakes to the hardy folks of the wide open spaces.

After all, nothing says "self reliance" like moving to an uninhabitable climate and then demanding that the rest of the country subsidize your "freedom."

Well, Todd...

Here's what one city in Texas is going to do...buckle up and take a nice big swig of the future. Good luck holding it down...


Bottoms up, people! Of course that sort of thing is already going on with the water we drink, just on a different scale. Many cities get their water from lakes, rivers, and reservoirs that are open to other animals besides humans doing their business in the area. The water needs to be filtered anyway--it just gets a little more filtering at the plant instead of the reservoir.

I got a kick out of the lady who said she was going to switch to bottled water. Years ago I listened to a water presentation from the plant manager in my city, St. Louis Park. He mentioned that buying bottled water adds up over time, to the tune of hundreds of dollars per year for the average household. I distinctly remember him saying the same water out of the tap cost 17¢.

Hopefully the lady is wealthy as she'll have to pay through the nose for bottled water to meet all her needs. Personally, I keep three glass bottles in the fridge with stoppers in them and just fill them from the tap when they run low. Works like a charm and saves money!

And the irony is...

that most bottled water is nothing but tap water given a marketing-friendly name in the first place. Those bottles aren't being filled up from some ice cold stream in the mountains of Switzerland.


Say it isn't true! Do you mean to tell me the pretty picture of a mountain stream on the bottle is just the usual lying advertising?

Crap. I knew I shouldn't have got out of bed this morning.

Shocking, I know...

the best part is all of those cute plastic bottles added to our landfills.

John Coleman: Weather Channel founder.

Coleman: 'When the temperature data could no longer be bent to support global warming, they switched to climate change and now blame every weather and climate event on CO2 despite the hard, cold fact that the “radiative forcing” theory they built their claims on has totally failed to verify.'

'The current bad science is all based on a theory that the increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the exhaust of the burning of fossil fuels leads to a dramatic increase in “the greenhouse effect” causing temperatures to skyrocket uncontrollably. This theory has failed to verify and is obviously dead wrong. But the politically funded and agenda driven scientists who have built their careers on this theory and live well on the 2.6 billion dollars of year of Federal grants for global warming/climate change research cling to this theory and bend the data spread to support the glorified claims in their reports and papers.'

Being a Wealthy Founder of an Entertainment Channel

centered (loosely and decreasingly) on actual weather,...

does not give Mr. Coleman ANY credibility in the area of climate science.

I wish all my "conservative" friends would realize that when "Tevye" sings, "When you're rich they think you really know," it's meant as a VERY wry, tongue-in-cheek, ironic comment,...

"Tevye," himself, is far to wise to think the "rich" know anything about anything except how to hang on to their money and lay their hands on more of everyone else's.

Mr. Coleman may be an expert at those things, too, but he's NO expert when it comes to climate science,...

(and for those foolish and gullible enough to think he is, I've recently acquired title to a very important bridge in Brooklyn which I'm willing to sell at a bargain price to anyone smart enough to take advantage of this amazing opportunity).

It's hilarious...--a couple

It's hilarious...

--a couple of billion dollars of research money inspires massive falsehood and globally coordinated lies

--whereas the trillion dollars (+) of revenue and 300 billion in profits for the US energy industries provides no incentive to lie and cover up what is going on

Ron, you comedian, you.

Just a note of dissent from the establishment

I did not say if I agreed with him or not. I just wanted to share an opposing view.

I am equally entertained by the outrage of the comments and just about guessed the content of the responses and who would respond.

He is not Condi Rice!

Minnpost, thank you for allowing me to post another view. I really did not think it would be allowed, but thank you.


Hopefully you're not relying on Mr. Coleman to get your science news.

So you think scientists are "living well" on Federal grants? What about the scientists that don't live in the United States? Are they also on the take from their governments? It's all a vast world-wide conspiracy then? It would be ridiculously easy then for an enterprising person to take their studies, re-run the data, and show how they manipulated the system to jury-rig the results. How come no one has done that yet? How come some of the scientists haven't gone rogue and ratted out the rest? Someone who did that could make one heck of a reputation in the scientific communities by doing so, not to mention they would make a fortune by getting on an oil company payroll.

The fact that no one has done so proves that there is not a vast conspiracy. You get more than one person in a room together with a secret and the secret no longer exists. You might as well shout it out from the rooftops at that point. And yet we're supposed to believe that thousands of scientists and thousands of government employees are all on the take.

Because hey, everyone knows that the way to get rich in this country is to become an underpaid scientist who is always scrambling for grant money. By comparison investment bankers, pop singers, and sports stars make peanuts!

Seriously. How did you manage to make all this up? Don't you have a BS detector in your head?

Mr. Coleman is a little unhinged.

re:"...'The current bad science is all based on a theory that the increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the exhaust of the burning of fossil fuels leads to a dramatic increase in “the greenhouse effect” causing temperatures to skyrocket uncontrollably. This theory has failed to verify and is obviously dead wrong..."

The so-called greenhouse effect is physics, not climate science. It has been studied since the 1820's starting with French physicist Joseph Fourier, who was able to calculate that a bare rock orbiting at earth's distance from the sun would have a stable average temperature well below freezing. He correctly hypothesized that earth's atmosphere held heat in.

Several years later another French physicist, Claude Pouillet, refined the hypothesis through experiment and discovered that CO2 and water vapor had large effects on how much heat the atmosphere retained, causing him to speculate that changes in these components would profoundly effect earth's climate.

In 1859, another physicist, John Tyndall refined these results further, and in 1896 Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish physicist turned chemist, came up with the basic greenhouse equation:

ΔF = α Ln(C/Co)

C/Co is the ratio of added CO2 from a baseline amount in PPM, α is a constant adjusted for water vapor and other factors, and ΔF is the change in radiative forcing that occurs. The equation works remarkably well and no credible scientist questions its validity any more than, say, F=MA. It works on both on a laboratory and a global scale.

The planetary temperature of the earth has always been tied to the change in radiative forcing brought about by changes in atmospheric CO2. Always. The oceans, land masses and atmosphere itself distribute these heat changes in chaotic and often unpredictable ways, but the overall temperature of the earth as a planetary body will continue to track quite neatly in the relationship that this equation describes.

Climate science works to measure and predict changes in climate. In order to be useful, it needs to be able to make predictions about certain phenomena in certain regions over certain time frames. This little equation is an important part of that, but not the only part by any means. What scientists are learning as they test and refine their predictive models is that they have tended to be too conservative.

Mr. Coleman's claims are ludicrous to the point of having to wonder if the poor man has all his marbles.

As usual

The only reply is LOL

Time to reform the carbon/climate tax

What brought me to this issue has been my experience as a township supervisor:

We've had two back-to-back 100+ year storms that create road and bridge damages, each totaling half our township levy for the year.
We have rural residential households experiencing damaging flooding and personal property losses during these storms - and not too long ago nearly every household in the Northfield area had to replace their roof from a 100+ year hailstorm
The MN legislature is expected to double (thankfully) the MN DNR flood mitigation funding this year because of all the damages we've experienced
Our property insurance rates in MN went from the bottom end of the 50 states to one of the top 5.
Family farmers in Dakota County are being denied irrigation permits - while the refinery has 800 ft wells. Turns out carbon producers use an amazing amount of water.
I have worked the last few years to restore the only brook trout stream in Rice County - but now understand that warmer winters may decimate winter emerging insects that keep the trout alive. And the extreme storms make summers tough.

As I see it, we're paying a carbon/climate tax that goes up every year - it just doesn't allow us to accomplish anything useful. I'm telling Senators Klobuchar and Franken and Representative Kline it's time to reform the carbon tax - let the carbon producers and importers pay, and give households a rebate to help offset our rising costs and damages.

Fee and Dividend

I think what you're talking about is Fee and Dividend. I don't know what the economists think about that vs. cap and trade, but from what I've heard, I like it - and for those who are tax-averse, it should be a nice no-new-taxes, market driven economic signal to stop burning so much fossil fuel.

Very readable report.

I do appreciate the easy to understand , without alot of jargon , report. I am also amazed that this study was ordered by Congress in 1990 and this is the only second time a study was done.
No wonder folks are all confused including Congress.

Thank you KathleenDoran-Norton for your post and sharing your real life experiences and observaitons.

The inconvinient truth

Report says: “Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer.” Well, what I have noticed was that the last winter was extremely cold and long, last summer was colder than usual, this winter was also very-very cold and snowy, and now they predict that this summer will also be colder than usual in the entire Eastern part of the US. Well, what a pattern!

Look, if the global warming was so steady, these events (extra cold) would not have happened. But of course the Earth has so much more than carbon dioxide that affects the weather and climate (El Niño, La Nino, Sun activity, volcano eruptions – and those are global thing; there are also local things, such as insects that would eat leaves) and, please note, we do not understand many of those things because otherwise we would have predicted the weather with 100% guarantee (in fact it is about 50%). And climate scientists admit that. But if that is the case, then all their predictions are not really scientific. And of course, specific weather events cannot be directly tied to climate, just as they were trying to explain to us just several years ago, if anyone remembers. I also remember Gore saying that with the global warming hurricanes will be stronger and will happen more often. Surprise, surprise, it didn’t happen!

And tying specific prices to global warming makes even less sense than tying weather events. We had Dust Bowl before global warming. Banana prices went up 400% in the last 20 years – is global warming to blame? Oh, but computer prices just dropped like a rock – should we thank global warming (obviously, making computers consume natural resources)?

Now let’s look at this globally. As we all know, mankind had survived an ice age long ago, well before any technological advances. So predicting that a few degrees temperature rise will doom mankind seems just plain silly. Even with current technology, there is not much to fear and in a hundred years the technology will be unrecognizable giving people unlimited possibilities. Oh, by the way, didn’t they predict that very soon we will run out of oil anyway ( So scientists may be wrong! But some people become so complacent that they do not question things. Government said so, experts said so… So what – they are people and may be wrong.

All I am doing is using common sense… and my deep knowledge of how propaganda works. It’s actually easy: Pick an enemy and blame everything on it. Jews in Nazi Germany, imperialists in the Soviet Union…In fact, this global warming scare reminds me of another one – Y2K. Remember, the planes were supposed to fall off the sky and the printers were supposed to jump off the tables…. Well, nothing happened but a lot of people made a lot of money. And a lot of people are making a lot of money on global warming…


Just a few points to educate people who may be reading the post above.

Yes, this past winter was cold and miserable. But that's just one data point. Climate scientists aren't interested in a single piece of data, but rather the body of data spanning multiple years and decades. One season? That's weather. Twenty years of seasons and its corresponding larger data set? That's climate.

Also keep in mind that the winter was miserable here in the Midwest. The Midwest, however, is not the world and what we're talking about is Global Warming, not My Back Yard Warming. This past winter Alaska had a record breaking warm January and Russia and Finland had unseasonably warm months.

Another point to consider: rising temperatures are not a straight line. It's not like climbing up a ladder, but more like walking up a series of hills, the next one higher than the last. Sometimes you're going up the slope on one side and sometimes down the slop on the other side. Overall though, you're heading up into the mountains. So no, global warming does not preclude harsh winters like the one we just experienced.

Y2K didn't have any disruptions or disasters for the simple reason that--hold on to your hats here--we did something about it. Code was updated and fields were expanded to accommodate four digit years. Unlike global warming, we didn't put our heads in the sand and pretend there wasn't an issue. Just like other large problems of the past, if we address it head on we can do something about it.

Contrary to popular parlance, ignorance is not bliss.


The logic is twisted, Mr. Gutman. A couple cold Minnesota winters and tepid summers does not a global climate make. In fact, it's far less impressive that we've had a couple of crappy weather years than the fact that the ENTIRE GLOBE has, on average, increased in temperature in a measurable way.

Heavy snows and cold winters were not always considered an anomaly, by the way. If you've ever seen some of the photos or heard some of the stories from the 1800's in this region of the US, you'd know that our "cold and snowy" winters are only a big deal when taken into context of the currently living population. The existence of 2 particularly snowy years (one of which was actually somewhat warm, the other of which was cold) doesn't come even close to bringing our modern average winter climate near the past average.

It may even be that our delightful experience with the Polar Vortex this winter was related to a disruption in the stability of cold air over the Arctic. It's not hard to imagine how an increased amount of energy trapped in the atmosphere could do such a thing. But, that's speculation on my part. That being said, I suspect that you'll find that bonafide climatologists are already forming hypotheses around a link between the Drunken Arctic and Climate Change. It will be testable since we seem unconcerned about actually slowing the warming.

Finally--ok, humans will likely survive global warming. We sure are adaptable. However, survival isn't a very pretty thing, sometimes. If we're worried about the economy now (and Lord knows that the climate deniers claim it's a good reason to close their eyes and plug their ears), imagine an economy will look like when rocked by increasingly unpredictable food production, increasingly unpredictable storm seasons, broad swaths of land with little water and yet others with too much, droughts between monsoon-like rains in what were previously temperate climates, disrupted shipping... And that's just the human aspect of it. A few degrees will (not likely, but WILL) affect the existence and distribution of other species. Wild rice requires cool mornings to survive--this MN staple will be challenged to survive in a warmer climate. Diseases (human, animal, and plant) that normally only reside in warmer climates will continue to march northward. Even at the height of the Y2K scare, the consequences were never so huge. After all, it was a man made crisis related to man made systems. We're messing with the entire ecosystem of the only known Earth. Sure, we'll probably survive as a species, but it won't be fun.

Reply to Ilya

Ilya wrote,

1) “So predicting that a few degrees temperature rise will doom mankind seems just plain silly.”

Surely you already know of the increasing acidification of the oceans. Even a little warming can and is having alarming effects on marine life. For instance:

2) “So scientists may be wrong!”

This is no new revelation. Scientists readily admit this. In fact, there are incentives in science to demonstrate errors in research and theory. Demonstrate that human-caused climate change is fundamentally wrong and you might receive a Nobel Prize. Does science have its dogmatists? Of course, since science is—again, no new revelation here—done by humans.

However, while you are correct in saying that “they are people and may be wrong,” this is not the basis on which to doubt that climate change is happening and is caused largely by humans. You have to address the actual evidence.

3) “All I am doing is using common sense…”

And this is the problem. Science exists in the first place because “common sense” sometimes or often doesn’t work. One’s first-blush understanding of something might very well be nothing more than a mirror for one’s own biases and ideological commitments. Intuition, tradition, religious authority, so-called holy books, etc., are not reliable means to discover knowledge about the natural world.

"Pick an enemy and blame everything on it."

We know how it works, Ilya...we've watched Republicans do it to the President for the last 5 1/2 years. And we're watching you do it to science right now.

My observations

tell me that the believers of global warming can cite local, regional and national examples of "warming", but deniers cannot. Any local example cited that disputes global warming theory is met with "your backyard is not the globe, etc...".

You're confusing apples and oranges

Defenders of climate change science base their case on a large body of evidence and theory. Any reference to local patterns of weather change are typically done in *response* to climate change denialists and conspiracy theorists.

Your not fully stated claim that there is a double standard between climate science and denialists, would only make sense on the assumption that the case for climate change was ONLY based on detecting local weather pattern changes. Since it's not, the comparison is misleading.


Jim, if both groups simply cite isolated events here and there, then yes, both groups are wrong. It's as simple as that. A single data point does not constitute a trend no matter what point you're trying to make.

Where the two sides part ways though are the trends for the past 20+ years. The science crowd can point to a long series of data points, continually trending upward. The deniers, on the other hand, can only point to a single event here and there, such as this past winter, all the while ignoring other events such as the winter a couple of years ago where we had minimal snow. Not to mention the massive droughts, tornadoes, deluge, rising sea levels, diminishing ice caps, and so on.

If you were to take any one of those events in isolation, then yes I would say neither side can make a clear case. But when you look at the body of knowledge then the scientists have a clear advantage.

Excellent Point

That is a point that had eluded me... Yet is so true...

Cold weather in MN does not matter to them, however a couple of years drought in the midwest is a sure sign of the apocalypse.


John, if we were just looking at a couple of years of drought in just the Midwest you would have a point. Unfortunately the data is much greater than only a couple of years and only the Midwest.

Be sceptical

Climate vs. weather…. Hmm, when we are talking about cold winter and summer, the climatologists cannot predict it or tie to the global warming (well, some tried, which was funny) but they can tie specific flood to global warming? What sense does it make? No one can say that the flood at point A or drought at point B is caused by global warming.

For Y2K, we did something but much more than needed. When I was told during one of the Y2K classes that our printers will stop printing on 1/1/00, I figured out that something was wrong with all those people… So I do not disagree that we have to do something about climate and fossil fuel use – I just don’t think it is reasonable to stop using coal altogether right away. And how about my point about running out of oil?

All those dire predictions based on a few degrees of temperature rise are not scientific in a sense that experiment cannot be made to recreate the conditions. Is there more CO2 in the atmosphere? Yes. Can it raise the temperatures with everything else equal? Yes. I can even agree that global temperatures are rising even though it has slowed down recently meaning that the trend is not that obvious (interestingly though, the slowing down of warming is accompanied by more dire predictions). But that is where the science ends and everything else is speculations. No one can figure out how much temperatures will rise in a hundred years since so much more than CO2 is involved as I pointed out. So all those economic calamities are just possibilities - the same as some possible economic advantages.

Mr. Snyder, I did address the actual evidence – you just ignored my arguments. And please do not try presenting it that all people who disagree with the global warming alarmists are backward and biased. Unfortunately, there are a lot of incentives to go along with this theory so usually people disagree with that for purely scientific reasons.

And finally, just for Mr. Myron, I want to point out that Democrats have picked an enemy (Mr. Bush) and still blame him for everything, even after 5 ½ years. Of course, this has nothing to do with climate…

With Us or Against Us

It seems when we speak of uncertainty, these folks interpret that as being in "Denial".

Apparently to them this a black and white, all or nothing issue. "You are either with us or against us !!!" It is interesting.


When uncertainty persists in the face of evidence, it becomes "denial."

Skepticism presupposes knowledge and reason

Ilya, thank you for your reply. A few comments in return.

You wrote,

“Climate vs. weather…. Hmm, when we are talking about cold winter and summer, the climatologists cannot predict it or tie to the global warming (well, some tried, which was funny) but they can tie specific flood to global warming? What sense does it make? No one can say that the flood at point A or drought at point B is caused by global warming.”

There’s already research proposing a link between both the California drought and the polar vortex.

What’s interesting about this in the context of our discussion is that this information is readily available online. If you were interested in learning about this subject it’s a fair assumption that you would have already done your homework to back up your specific claim about whether localized events can be explained or predicted relative to climate change.

You also wrote,
“All those dire predictions based on a few degrees of temperature rise are not scientific in a sense that experiment cannot be made to recreate the conditions.”

This is false. Evidence-based theory-building and modeling are also part of science. This is well established. Theory that doesn’t obtain 100% predictive success isn’t thereby proven to be somehow not scientific, only imperfect, as all science is. That longer time frames present more uncertainty into climate change models is readily accepted by climate scientists. So, what is your actual point?

“And how about my point about running out of oil?”

What was your point about oil? To be skeptical of authority? That science might be wrong at times? Of course. Science has, does and will make mistakes. But this is a trivial observation. If you know anything at all about science you already know this. Internal skepticism is *built into* science. But you seem to want to inflate this elementary observation into a fundamental challenge to the specific science of climate change. To do this you’d actually have to address the ACTUAL EVIDENCE and theories of climate change, which you don’t do.

“Mr. Snyder, I did address the actual evidence – you just ignored my arguments.”

Actually, I replied to several of your points. Interestingly, at the same time you’re accusing me of ignoring your arguments you utterly ignored mine!

This is news?

"What is new over the last decade is that we know with increasing certainty that climate change is happening now."

Our climate has been changing since the day the earth first began. This is not new, or news for that matter. Thank you all for jumping on the bandwagon.

Can we be more clear?

Instead of "climate change," let's use the term: "anthropogenic rapid climate change causing distress to the environment and human health and economic systems." Is that better?


Your term is certainly more accurate. The term "climate change" was coined largely to mollify the denial crowd.

More clarity needed

"was coined largely" this terminology leaves open that there must have been some additional reason for the term 'climate change' besides mollifying the denial crowd. What might that be?


Additional reasons: "climate change" and "climate chaos" more accurately reflects the situation than "global warming."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,

the IPCC was founded in 1988. The term Climate Change has been around for at least 25 years.

My imprecision

I should not have said "was coined." The term was championed by the denial crowd back when they claimed that the earth might not be warming.


Yes, the climate has been changing since day one. But perhaps you can see why that point of view is an oversimplification of the situation. The primary issue we're dealing with here isn't that the climate is changing, although a lot of people doubt even that point, but rather how fast it's changing. If the change were taking place over the span of thousands to tens of thousands of years we wouldn't be having this conversation as that's the normal pace. Plant and animal species would have the time to move and adapt and we wouldn't be looking at the prospect of mass extinctions.

Now though we're looking at climate change over the span of a few decades to a hundred years. That's not enough time for a four hundred year old forest to reseed itself in a new climate that's more hospitable to its preferences. Not to mention that corals and other sea creatures don't have another ocean to migrate to that's not acidified.

Another issue we're dealing with is thousands of years ago we didn't have large cities in coastal areas. If a storm surge came through the villagers simply rebuilt their thatched huts, dug-out canoes, and got on with their lives. Now though we've built high rises around the world in areas that are prone to flooding if sea levels rise a couple of feet. That's trillions of dollars (or more) that people have invested and stand to lose if something isn't done about the situation. People have a huge sum of money invested in infrastructure that's designed based on the climate we had in 1960, not the one we'll have in 2060.

I have to wonder what you think those people should do? Should they just abandon their cities? Just a few items to consider.

-What impact will a mass migration have on the rest of the world?
-Should they strengthen their cities to withstand a storm surge?
-How much will that cost?
-What is the cost of the desalination plants they'll have to build when their ground water becomes contaminated with salt?
-Where will they grow crops when the ground becomes saturated with salt?
-Where will they grow crops when their area gets too little or too much rain?
-What crops will they grow when their area becomes too warm to grow their current crop?
-What about the infrastructure they have for storing and processing their current crop? They'll have to build new facilities for the new crop, which will also cost money.

Those are just a few items that readily come to mind. As you can see, the cost of climate change is a lot greater than appears at first blush. Now you have some sense as to why people are so concerned about the issue.

weather or not

The last 30 years have seen mild winters here in Minnesota. This last year was similar to what was once a normal winter, close but not exactly normal. No long stretches of 20 below weather days. It shocked many who weren't around 30 years ago though.

Incredible as it sounds to many in the Midwest, this year was one of the warmest on record for the earth. Alaska was much warmer than normal. The Iditarod was almost cancelled due to lack of snow and too warm temperatures.

It's true over millions of years climate has changed. In fact it aided in big die off that ended the reign of dinosaurs which brought about the rise of mammals. The dinosaurs didn't add to their climate problems though. We can and do add the chemistry necessary to warm the temperature of our planet overall. If those who haven't noticed, there's been a rise in yearly tornado events. It's not a small rise either. Those events are starting earlier and lingering longer than normal. The hurricanes, while not as plentiful as predicted, are getting bigger and doing more damage when they do appear. The polar ice, both north and south, are receding at an alarming rate.

To say we have no adverse effect on the planet is a view that is dangerous. To paraphrase the scientific view 'When one begins a theory with a false premise every premise tied to the first premise after that will be false except by blind chance'. We knowingly pollute our waters and our air.

Stable Climate

Those of you make a good point that the Earth's climate has been changing for millions of years. You shouldn't forget however that humans have only flourished in the past 7-8 thousand years. This coincidentally marks a very stable time in the Earth's climate which has allowed humans to flourish.


Cause and severity?

Good point. It was changing before us puny humans got here. And will likely keep changing after we are gone...


I read that blog about new research connecting cold and drought to global warming. Even the blogger admits that it is not a definitive result. And, as he noted, it is, of course, based on the computer modeling (how else can you do it?) But remember, computers are dumb machines and whatever you enter will be given back. In other words, if one wants a certain result, one will get it. And getting results supporting global warming is much more rewarding than the opposite ones. Plus, if computer modeling is that great, again how come we cannot predict the weather for tomorrow? It works for a hundred years ahead but not for one day ahead?

Science is built on observations, theories, and then experiments that support the theories and prior observations – that is how natural science works. Modeling is part of science but it should still be supported by some observations and so far we do not have enough data to support it (we observe for only 50 years while the climate exists for way longer than that – 50 years is just a moment is a sense). It seems that you agree with this based on your own words; then why do you insist that the global warming theory is absolutely correct? So being skeptical in this case is the logical thing to do while insisting on this theory absolute correctness is not. So my point about running out of oil is just that: a reminder that what looked at one time as a widely accepted theory ended up being incorrect. And also see my reference in a previous comment to a site about reduced pace of warming.

A few more points: Let’s say the sea level will rise a couple feet – so what? Half of the Netherlands lays below the sea level, at some points as low as 15-20 feet lower. They manage and it did not cause global catastrophe. Building some dikes and sea walls is definitely within the mankind’s abilities and will not cost trillions of dollars.

Tornadoes and hurricanes… I believe this year the tornado season started as late as ever. And the last hurricane season was all but non-existent. As for greater damage from those events, it has nothing to do with the events and everything to do with the population density…

Please do your homework

Ilya wrote,

“Plus, if computer modeling is that great, again how come we cannot predict the weather for tomorrow? It works for a hundred years ahead but not for one day ahead?”

First, you appear to be conflating weather and climate.

Also and again, you have noticed nothing here that isn’t already very well understood. It’s impossible to imagine that any scientist studying this issue doesn’t also understand the uncertainties involved.

You also seem to mistakenly conflate precision/accuracy with validity. Weather forecasters can’t predict with absolute precision—of course! But their predictions usually have great validity over a relatively short time frame. That is, their predictions based on their understanding of the world corresponds with the actual realities of weather, thus inspiring confidence. So too with climate change. Exact predictions of temperature and other effects of climate change are very likely not reliable. But what is highly reliable/valid are predictions like the general trend of temperature and the effects of rising temperature.

You wrote,
“…then why do you insist that the global warming theory is absolutely correct?”

I never did. You ascribed absoluteness to me yourself, basically accusing me of your misunderstanding of my language.

“Let’s say the sea level will rise a couple feet – so what? “

I find such comments exasperating because they reveal such a deep lack of awareness and what seems to be an entire lack of motivation to correct it. In some real and ongoing sense, you don’t want to know. You don’t want to learn about this topic. In the case of rising sea levels has it ever occurred to you that many non-white people live on island or coastal areas that will experience more flooding, more loss of farmland, more dislocations? All of these scenarios are frequently talked about in climate change discourse. If you knew even the first thing about it, you wouldn’t so easily dismiss rising sea levels.

“As for greater damage from those events, it has nothing to do with the events and everything to do with the population density…”

This is false for several reasons. First, the severity of storms is increasing, not decreasing. Secondly, increased population density AND more severe weather is to blame.

Sea level rise, no big deal. Hmmm, do you really think so?

Mr. Gutman, regarding your comment, "Let’s say the sea level will rise a couple feet – so what? Half of the Netherlands lays below the sea level, at some points as low as 15-20 feet lower. They manage and it did not cause global catastrophe. Building some dikes and sea walls is definitely within the mankind’s abilities and will not cost trillions of dollars." you might be interested in reading this report by the Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact.

An article in the New York Times sums this report up very well. It says: "The national climate report found that although rapidly melting Arctic ice is threatening the entire American coastline, Miami is exceptionally vulnerable because of its unique geology. The city is built on top of porous limestone, which is already allowing the rising seas to soak into the city’s foundation, bubble up through pipes and drains, encroach on fresh water supplies and saturate infrastructure. County governments estimate that the damages could rise to billions or even trillions of dollars."

Where are these hundreds of billions, or possibly trillions of dollars going to come from to deal with repairing this infrastructure? I have the strong hunch that some Florida taxpayers may be the ones asked to cough up a few bucks here . . . if they really want to save their cities.

My own observation about Minnesota winters

I left Minnesota in 1984 after three awful winters with long stretches of subzero weather and heavy snowfalls, including one memorable two-day period in which three feet of snow fell.

Yet those winters were pretty similar to the winters I had experienced in the 1950s through 1970s. There was one year (I think it was 1971 or 1972) when daytime highs didn't go above zero for weeks. When the temperature finally hit 10°F above zero, all of us were running around with our coats open saying, "It's so warm!"

I moved back to Minnesota for family reasons in 2003. I hesitated, but my relatives assured me that winters were no longer as harsh as before.

This turned out to be true. Remembering the winters of the past, I bought two pairs of snow boots. I didn't use them for two years, possibly the same two years when the City of Lakes Loppet had to rely on artificial snow. Three years ago, spring came almost a month early.

Although I appreciated the warmer winters, they felt extremely odd. I checked with older people of my acquaintance, life-long Minnesotans in their 80s and 90s. They all agreed that winter had warmed and that they had never seen anything like it.

The past two winters were actually blips in an overall trend. As an analogy, look what typically happens when the seasons change. As winter gives way to spring, we may have occasional chilly days, but the overall trend is warmer, most highs in the 50s and 60s, where they were in the 30s and 40s a couple of weeks ago. In the fall, we will see the opposite, gradual cooling with occasional warm days.

As a Japanese-English translator, I'm in touch with colleagues all over the world, and believe me, everyone is noticing odd weather patterns: severe droughts in southern Australia, severe floods in northern Australia, hotter summers and colder winters in Japan, more floods and storms everywhere.

Events are happening exactly as the computer models predicted.

I suspect that the reason some people refuse to believe in global warming is that fossil fuels are a major culprit. Many Americans live in locales where they are locked into a car-oriented lifestyle that glorifies the ideal of large houses and yards, and they automatically balk at the idea that this may not be sustainable.

However, scientific facts don't care whether you believe in them or not.

What is odd

Those “odd” weather patterns might have occurred many times in the past – it just that no one noticed.. As I said, computer models are made by humans… And accusing all people who disagree with the global warming theory in ignorance and intentional disregard for facts is not a good way of arguing.

Not really....

"Those “odd” weather patterns might have occurred many times in the past – it just that no one noticed.."

We've been watching weather patterns for decades. Warnings about CO2 accumulation were first issued back the mid 1970s. What's changed has been the ability to compile worldwide observations and model climate as well as weather. And or the millionth time, we're talking about climate, not weather.

And again, when look at climate its not a matter of watching it rain or snow or looking at temperatures. Climate information is measured by looking way way way beyond current observations. We find climate information in centuries old ice, and tree rings, and soil strata, and ocean floors, and fossils etc. The evidence now from thousands of different observations over decades confirms that we're seeing huge climate changes that are linked to human activity.

So Mr. Gutman, what is the downside of

reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, having cleaner air and water, less environmental degradation, more livable cities, and fewer thinly disguised wars for oil (which would go a long way toward easing the nation's budget deficit)?

Rate of Change

That is an interesting question. For decades we have been raising the MPG standards, have been paying more for cars due to the additonal exhaust treatmernts, have been developing new technologies, etc. Now it has been an excellent jobs program for engineers like myself. That is the up side, however our society is paying for it. On top of this we have paid extra for for wind power, solar power, coal plant scrubbers, etc.

So how much faster do you want to reduce our dependence on fossils fuels? Just curious.


Mr. Gutman is incorrect when he states that we haven't observed past weather patterns. We have tree rings, lake sediments, and ice core samples that go back thousands of years. It's precisely because of this data that we know that today's situation is not normal.

Even if we didn't have that hard data, it doesn't take much of a scientist to realize that pouring CO2 into the atmosphere is going to lead to problems. Like all pollution, if you have a small spill it's not a big deal. A large spill, on the other hand, is tough to clean up and leads to correspondingly large problems. In this case the spill is CO2 and the place where it's spilled is our atmosphere. It's scientific fact that CO2 causes the atmosphere to heat up. A hotter atmosphere in turn heats up the ocean and hot air holds more moisture than cold air. That in turn leads to storms with more moisture in them and larger storms built because of the additional heat.

And warmer air and warmer water melts ice faster. Hence the glaciers and ice caps that are in retreat. Many cities and farming areas depend on the glaciers and snow caps melting gradually during the summer to provide them with water for drinking and irrigation. Hence the cause for alarm for the areas that depend on those water sources.

Melting ice caps also leads to higher ocean levels, which is why countries that are low lying are alarmed at that prospect. Not to mention that water expands as you heat it up, which also causes sea levels to rise. It may not be much, but when 70% of the planet is covered by water, it adds up.

So I'm wondering which part of the equation do people discount? Do they think CO2 doesn't heat up the atmosphere? Do they think a hotter atmosphere won't lead to bigger storms? Or is it simply that they think building additional dikes and moving entire ecosystems is a trivial expense? This is all pretty basic science, so there must be a disconnect in there somewhere, a belief that some part of basic physics is completely wrong.

If that's the case, it should be a trivial matter for them to run the equations themselves and show where scientists got the math wrong for the past 200 years.

Science and not science

I do not confuse weather and climate – other people do. As I said, for very long time the climate scientists were telling us that those are two different things. Now all of a sudden they tell us that they can link specific weather event (hurricane, drought, etc.) with global warming thus contradicting their earlier statements.

Now about precision and reliability. Extrapolating a function precisely known for 50 years to the next 100 years cannot be reliable – it’s math. The scientists may figure out the trend but the long term reliability will still be low. And predicting LOCAL effects of GLOBAL climate change is even less reliable.

As for sea level rise, I did mention methods that have been employed for hundreds of years and can be used again and for relatively low price.

Mr. Snyder, you imply that all global warming skeptics are anti-science and yet you admitted that the global warming theory may not be correct. Don’t you see contradiction in your position? And when was the last really strong and bad hurricane in the US?

When I used the word “past”, I meant thousands of years, not decades. And our data derived from indirect sources are incomplete at best.

Karen, there is no downside of reducing dependence on fossil fuel, having cleaner air, etc. – I am all for that. I just want this to be done in a reasonable manner rather than in a panic mode which always leads to wrong decisions.

Mr. Hintz, I have already addressed your question about discounted parts of the equation but I will repeat it here. Is there more CO2 in the atmosphere? Yes. Can it raise the temperatures with everything else equal? Yes. I can even agree that global temperatures are rising even though it has slowed down recently meaning that the trend is not that obvious (interestingly though, the slowing down of warming is accompanied by more dire predictions). But that is where the science ends and everything else is speculations. No one can figure out how much temperatures will rise in a hundred years since so much more than CO2 is involved as I pointed out. So all those economic calamities are just possibilities - the same as some possible economic advantages.

couldn't resist

Hurricane Sandy. 2012. Second costliest in the US after Katrina in 2005. 2005 saw 3 of the 6 most intense hurricanes in history. Extremely short time frame.

Tar Sands and fracking are very debatable as reasonable reduction. Not too long ago there were ads on TV saying the greatest producer of oil is now the US. Gas prices have stayed high so that hasn't been an economic advantage in the US. To the Oil Producers maybe.

It's true its difficult to accurately assess what damage will be done in 100 years. However its not that difficult to predict the rise in temps will continue.''

Around the globe, the peat fields in the northern hemisphere are seeing a warming trend which means they will release Methane more rapidly into the atmosphere as the larger fields, especially those in Siberia, unfreeze. Methane is also a green house gas. It, among other sources, is formed by decaying vegetation...peat.

I hope you are having a good Mother's Day

Ilya wrote,

“As for sea level rise, I did mention methods that have been employed for hundreds of years and can be used again and for relatively low price.”

This belies various realities as I understand them anyway. Island nations will go under the ocean if trends continue, and there’s no promise of sufficient aid to help them solve the problem. “Just build a wall,” is impractical and prohibitively expensive in much of world, which often already has difficulty ensuring access to health clinics, clean water and sanitation.

I agree with you that overreaction has its own risks and costs. But, as report after report states, we’re a long way from facing that prospect. Don’t confuse the tone or level of public discourse with what is actually happening on the ground to address climate change—which isn’t much at the moment.

“Mr. Snyder, you imply that all global warming skeptics are anti-science and yet you admitted that the global warming theory may not be correct. Don’t you see contradiction in your position? And when was the last really strong and bad hurricane in the US?”

It’s a simple matter of intellectual humility and honesty that prevents one from falling into the trap of psychological certainty and absolute statements about non-trivial things. As we continue to learn and acquire new information we sometimes find that what we took to be a fact, something beyond doubt, is actually not as certain as we originally thought or might in fact be false. The history of science contains endless examples of things that we believed to be one way, but turned out to be another. The history of science also contains plenty of examples of things that at first were fundamentally doubted, but later went on to become established fact, like plate tectonics.

This little hedge of doubt, this necessary self-critical attitude of “I could be wrong,” is not the same thing as radical skepticism—the belief that everything is up in the air, there is no reliable means of determining truth, and all truth no matter what kind, could be overturned tomorrow.

Your comment appears to presuppose that there are just two such options with regard to truth claims—a kind of dogmatic certainty vs. a belief that it’s ‘all up for grabs—who knows?’ Instead, a range of probability exists, inspiring greater or lesser degrees of confidence.

Predicting weather vs. predicting climate

Mr. Gutman, I don't know if you're a baseball fan or not, but here's an example:

Let's say Joe Mauer's career average is .300. One could reasonably predict that he will bat around .300 this season and next season. You could even reasonably predict that in his next 10 at-bats he'll get 3 hits. You will not always be correct, but the statistics would hold true.

What you are suggesting is that we should be able to predict what type of hit he'll get in his next at-bat, and then the one after that, and so on. It doesn't work like that.

Baseball and climate

Hurricane Sandy was so costly just because it hit New York. Had it hit 200 miles south, the damage would have been minimal which confirms my point that it’s not the hurricane strength which is the reason for more damage lately but the population density.

Gas prices might not have gone down significantly but oil independence is significant in political sense which may even be more important than economic advantage.

Building a wall is not that expensive – it’s been done for hundreds of years if not thousands. Yes, rich nations will have to help but that would be less expensive than for example stopping using coal now…
Mr. Snyder, I appreciate your co
mment about certainty and uncertainty. But that is all I wanted to say – those who disagree with the global warming theory are not monsters, Dr. No’s, evil scientists, science deniers, backward religionists, etc. (and that is the impression I got from reading the comments of most of the global warming supporters). They are just skeptics who want more facts and proof for a theory which has quite a few holes at the moment. I never said that everything is up in the air – I pointed it out several times. I just said that some conclusions go too far and are not scientifically proven (or even provable).

No I am not a fan of baseball but I am familiar with the statistics. Your example actually proves my point because what I am saying is that Mauer’s career average may not necessarily predict his future results if we consider that he may get sick, baseball rules may change, he is getting older, etc. And we have so many of those variables in the climate science that the average may not be a reliable factor in predicting future results. Plus, of course, connecting specific weather events with the global warming is akin to predicting a type of hit base on the batting average…

Skepticism or something else?

“But that is all I wanted to say – those who disagree with the global warming theory are not monsters, Dr. No’s, evil scientists, science deniers, backward religionists, etc. (and that is the impression I got from reading the comments of most of the global warming supporters). They are just skeptics who want more facts and proof for a theory which has quite a few holes at the moment.”

What is a skeptic? A popular definition is someone who has doubts about something. But this tells us nothing about the quality of the thinking behind the doubt.

Informed skepticism involves, at heart, critical thinking—understanding logical fallacies, understanding various forms of bias, having knowledge of science, and so forth. In particular, to be an informed skeptic about climate science you actually have to understanding something about climate science.

What is the proportion of the climate change denial population that operates on the basis of informed skepticism? It must be extraordinarily low. Public polling consistently shows low levels of science literacy in the US. Scan public comments from denialists on the issue of climate change and what you see in 99%+ cases has little to do with informed skepticism. You even see this with conservative thought leaders like George Will and Charles Krauthammer:

OF COURSE, there is another side to this report.

Climatologists and other experts are blasting a new climate change report from the Obama administration, calling it a "litany of doom" that objective scientists won't take seriously.

The National Climate Assessment (NCA), an 840-page report compiled by 300 scientists and experts that was released at a White House event on Tuesday, warns that climate change is a clear and present danger.

"Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," according to the report.

Rising temperatures, it asserts, will be responsible not only for more drought, wildfires, flooding, and sea level rise, but also an increased risk of heat-related deaths.

The report states that the effects of climate change are evident in every region of the country, according to Gary Yohe, a Wesleyan University economist and vice-chair of the NCA advisory committee.

"One major take-home message is that just about every place in the country has observed that the climate has changed," he told the Guardian. "It is here and happening, and we are not cherry-picking or fear-mongering."

But that is exactly what the experts are seeking to do, critics charge.

Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James Taylor declared: "Leading authors of this report include staffers for activist groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, Planet Forward, the Nature Conservancy, and Second Nature. Few objective climate experts will take this report seriously.

"Even those scientists who are not overtly affiliated with environmental activist groups were almost uniformly on the record as global warming alarmists before being chosen to write this report."

Mark Morano offered a round-up of reactions to the global warming report on his Climate Depot website.

Former Colorado State University climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.: "That much of the media accepted the NCA without questioning its findings and conclusions either indicates they are naïve or they have chosen to promote a particular agenda and this report fits their goal."

Dr. Judith Curry, chairwoman of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology: "The report effectively implies that there is no climate change other than what is caused by humans, and that extreme weather events are equivalent to climate change.

"Worse yet is the spin being put on this by the Obama administration."

Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis: The report is "designed to scare people and build political support for unpopular policies such as carbon taxes. Alarmists offer untrue, unrelenting doom and gloom."

Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville: Part of the report "is just simply made up. There is no fingerprint of human-caused versus naturally-caused climate change."

Weather Channel Co-founder John Coleman: The report is a "litany of doom," a "total distortion of the data and an agenda-driven, destructive episode of bad science gone berserk."

Climate Depot's Morano said: "By every measure, so-called extreme weather is showing no trend or declining trends on 50-100-year timescales. Droughts, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes are not increasing due to man-made global warming.

"Why does the report now call 'global warming' a new name, so-called 'climate disruption'? Simple answer: Due to earth's failure to warm — no global warming for nearly 18 years — another name was necessary to attempt to gin up fear.

"This report is predetermined science."

Reliable sources?

Seriously, your're going to quote Mark (sic) Morano, who is not even a scientist (has a bachelor's degree in political science) and used to work for Sen. James Inhofe and Rush Limbaugh? Some other sources you quote are equally unqualified. Sen. Inhofe once famously said he believed in anthropogenic climate change until he saw how much it was going to cost.

Or the Heartland Institute, which is

a conservative think tank?


Those of us who subscribed to Zero Population Growth back in the day were crowded out by Earth Day, and its more embraceable marketing.

Perhaps it's really as fundamental as TOO MANY PEOPLE.

Good Point

And with more people come more livestock.... More energy usage... Etc.

Global Warming or Climate Change?

There's really no conflict between these two terms.

The warming is global.

Climate changes, of various kinds, nearly all of them harmful to human well-being, are local.

And the former drives the latter.

Should we believe the scientific community, or should we believe the fossil-fuel industry? Or to put it another way, should we believe the news, or should we believe the commercials?

(By the way: Thanks to MinnPost and Ron Meador for giving us the news.)

The facts are in. We human beings are responsible for global warming, and we can and should do something about it. I favor either taxing or litigating the fossil-fuel industry slowly out of existence. More importantly, I favor a green jobs program.

But if this plan never materializes, all I will have to say to today's deniers, a few decades from now – and God grant that they live as long as I do – will be this: "We told you so, over and over, and you wouldn't listen." And I will not spare anyone this rebuke.

And if

And if it doesn't happen to the severity that the CAGW folks believe.

Will you help to pay back the trillions of dollars that were lost in preparation of this armageddon? Just curious.

If we're wrong...

If we're wrong about anthropogenic global warming, then by the time my old body is laid down in my grave, we'll have developed great new clean, green technologies that we can market to the rest of the world. The world's deserts, including our own vast American Southwest, will have become solar energy surplus exporters. The poorest Saharan countries will have become the world's richest.

And just as an aside, you really shouldn't worry that we will run out of money. That's one thing that we can't possibly run out of. Unfortunately, money isn't actually a resource. Fossil fuels are a resource, but a finite one. We've always known that we're going to run out of them eventually. Wouldn't it be a good idea to develop renewable alternatives to fossil fuels before they run out, rather than waiting until after they run out? More to the point, wouldn't it be a good idea to break our fossil-fuel habit before we destabilize the global climate, rather than afterward?

If the only excuse we can give our grandchildren for a devastated planet is that we "wanted to save money," I don't think they'll be impressed. I have a feeling they will know better than we do that money isn't the most important thing in the world. I think they will take a dim view of a culture dominated by a corrupt, vainglorious, and increasingly delusional finance and investment sector that has convinced itself that money is the source of all wealth.

Our culture has it exactly backwards. Wealth is the source of our money. And wealth consists of well-managed raw materials, technology, and human resources. How foolish we would be to fail to invest in the sound, long-term management and conservation of these things in order to "save money." As if all the money in the world could buy our stable climate back after we've ruined it, or buy back our oil after we've burned up the last barrel.

Rate of Change 2

Same question I asked Karen above. Personally I think we have the technologies at the ready, unfortunately they are just more expensive than fossil fuels. That is why we keep using fossil fuels.

That said. For decades we have been raising the MPG standards, have been paying more for cars due to the additional exhaust treatments, have been developing new technologies, lowered diesel fuel sulfur content, etc. Now it has been an excellent jobs program for engineers like myself.

That is the up side, however our society is paying for it. On top of this we have paid extra for wind power, solar power, coal plant scrubbers, etc.

So how much faster do you want to reduce our dependence on fossils fuels? Just curious.

And yes I acknowledge that if you are correct and we have a "devastated planet" in 50 years, then our children will think poorly of us. Just like they will when they inherit our nation debt. Maybe we should be more responsible.

You're right

They will be a bit peeved at those who's greatest motivation in life wasnensuring their tax bill was as low as possible, no matter the cost to society and the environment. I don't much care for them NOW.

Spend vs Revenues

Please note that the revenues are pretty well resolved after the taxes were allowed to up on the well to do. It is the spend that is still too high based on historical standards. And it is worse if you include the state and local spend/revenues.


Mr. Snyder, as I hope you noticed, when I express skepticism, I back it up with facts and logic. It doesn’t matter who else questions global warming and why; I question it for logical reasons so your statistics is irrelevant – you were in dispute with me, not with them. On the other hand, supporting something can also be done for purely ideological reasons. In fact, I am sure absolute majority of those who believe in global warming don’t understand the science of that so their quality of thinking is also low.

Mr. Jacobsen, please read my earlier posts. In one of them, I referenced an old article that predicted (on the basis of widely accepted at that time scientific analysis) that we would run out of fossil fuel at the beginning of this century. Apparently, we have not…. But we constantly run out of money.

Some Brief Refutations

Let's start with your last point first. No, we cannot run out of money. Money is not a resource; it is a medium of exchange. As individuals, we may run out of money, but as a society, we cannot possibly run out of money if we manage it properly. Proper management of money involves distributing money from where it is in excess, for example in the hands of the obscenely rich, to where it is needed. Instead of taxing the rich, our government borrows, which is improper management of money. I will agree with anyone who says that this behavior is corrupt and must stop.

Technological advancements are making it possible, though expensive, to squeeze more fossil fuels from our Earth's crust than ever before. As the quality of this residue diminishes, the expense required to refine it will increase. I have no doubt that if the government continues on the corrupt path of least resistance, it will someday soon subsidize the fossil-fuel industry to keep fossil fuels affordable even as their real costs continue to climb. And this is only the economic argument. When we adduce the argument that burning those fossil fuels will unavoidably destabilize the climate, the present path toward ever more government investment in non-renewable energy sources seems even more misguided.

You have provided a small amount evidence that the contemporary scientific consensus about global warming may be wrong – Good for you! But the community of contemporary climate scientists has more data than you have. Their data is voluminous, and their logic is sound. Yes, we can predict global climate change, even though it is a daunting challenge to predict local weather changes. And the fossil-fuel industry, above all, ought to know that.

It ought to know, because it uses a similar logic to predict the behavior of its own customers. The utility company that provides you with electricity, which may be spending a lot of money trying to persuade you that the global warming theory is illogical, cannot predict your behavior. It does not know when you will turn the lights on or leave them off. It doesn't know when you will wake up or go to sleep. And it doesn't know when you will take a two-week vacation. It can't predict any other customer's behavior either. This unpredictability is analogous to the unpredictability of local weather patterns.

But if an energy company has enough customers, it doesn't have to bother with predicting individual behavior. It can start calculating averages. On the average, most people are more likely to turn on the lights in the morning and in the evening. There's a general dip in energy demand at mid-day, and there's an even bigger dip in the wee hours of the morning. In contrast to the unpredictability of individual consumer demand, the behavior of aggregate consumer demand is calculable to a high degree of mathematical precision. Calculating the expected demand accurately, and providing only just enough energy to meet this expected demand, plus a little more, so as to minimize waste while avoiding energy shortfalls, is called "managing the load."

Climate scientists use exactly the same logic when they make predictions about climate change. If this logic were unsound, then load management would be impossible, and energy providers, many of whom hypocritically disparage their own logic when climate scientists use it, would be unable to make a profit.

You claim to back up your skepticism

with facts....perhaps you'll provide us with an explanation of how a statement like "In fact, I am sure absolute majority of those who believe in global warming don’t understand the science of that so their quality of thinking is also low." is in any way factual, rather than just your opinion? On the contrary, I find the vast majority of people who know climate change to be real, know the science quite well, citing statistics (which you conveniently dismiss as irrelevant) while the deniers are much more prone to fall back on the tired "it snowed today, must be Global Warming," Just recently, in the comments of s Strib article on rising sea levels affecting Florida beaches, someone wrote that he's been " visiting Florida for thirty years and never noticed a difference"...the majority of deniers comments tend to be exactly like that. If they can't see it, it doesn't' exist. Of course, many of those same people will believe in a 3,000 year old book written by sheepherders in a heartbeat...but science??? Nah...

Reply to Ilya

Ilya, you yourself wrote, “you were in dispute with me, not with them.” Accordingly, I took our dialogue to reference both us and a wider community.

Regarding your posts thus far, I’m honestly at a loss to understand what substantive criticism you were making of climate science research. Your central point is that there are uncertainties involved, but as was mentioned several times this is an insignificant observation if made as only a general statement. Some may need to hear it, but any scientist working on climate change, or in any science, will as a matter of course understand that in science there can be uncertainty.

To be clear—I trust you agree with me—the word itself, ‘uncertainty,’ doesn’t carry with it a pre-defined and exactly specifiable confidence level. For that you’d actually have to consult climate theory and evidence. To use your example, we can speak very generally about there being uncertainty in Y2K and climate change. But these two cases are only comparable on the basis of the trivial semantics of ‘uncertainty’ as a word, a concept. It can’t help us determine the confidence we have, e.g., in humanity’s role in climate change (regarding which, the debate is over—we are the main cause).

Another point. You also made a dismissive point regarding rising sea levels, but in doing so you didn’t address any of the specific other consequences of rising sea levels or the estimates of damage. There is much writing on this topic, but none of its details, outside of a claim about the relatively low cost of building walls in a specific part of Europe, appeared in your comment. In terms of critical thinking your comment would have benefitted from addressing reliable scientific opinion on the matter before making a dismissive claim. You appear eager to debunk, but leave yourself wide open for criticism.


Hurricane Sandy moved into the northern Atlantic where cold water usually cools them off into tropical storm that then fall apart. Moving that far north is unusual to say the least. The warmer than usual northern waters allowed Sandy to stay a hurricane.

Hurricanes and typhoons are cyclones. Cyclones are also land based where they generally spawn smaller cyclones called tornadoes which have been increasing in frequency over the last 30 years. Tornado seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer into the year.
I am absolutely sure that those who don't believe in global warming don't understand the science of that so their quality of thinking is also low, and their beliefs are for purely ideological reasons.

The world will never run out of money. The questions are always going to be who will hold the money and what will they do with it.

Money and climate

Money, money, money… Yes, the society can run out of money if it doesn’t manage itself properly and wasting lots of it on programs that go to waste is a sure way to end up bankrupt. And overtaxing the rich and then giving money to the poor is also a sure way into trouble. Really, expropriating all the wealthy and giving everything to the poor is an ultimate “tax the rich, support the poor” way and it was tried many times and never worked. But if anyone is interested in this debate, they can check my comments here and here

Of course, example of utility companies has nothing to do with our debates which shows the problems with the global warming supporters’ thinking. Yes, businesses routinely predict future customer behavior but always in a SHORT run. No one tries to predict “the load” for a hundred years ahead – there are so many unknowns that it is a futile exercise. The same with climate – too many unknowns…

Mr. Myron, citing statistics, which is supplied by someone else, is not science and doesn’t show any understanding. And even referring to the CO2 level doesn’t really show understanding especially considering that real global warming skeptics do not deny this fact. And since the science of global warming is based on computer models, only very few are actually capable of understanding what those models show and how they are created (and that is my proof of my statement). By the way, in order to prove a theory questionable, it is enough to provide one fact that is not explained by the theory or explained wrongly. So it is actually much easier to be a skeptic than a scientist. But it is even easier to be a theory supporter without fully understanding the theory and its weak points.

Hurricane Sandy did move high north but there were dozens of hurricanes in the past that had also hit New York so apparently, Sandy was not that unusual. And if I am not mistaken, the tornado season this year started way later than usually . So please, Mr. Lord, stop diminishing your opponents – your being absolutely sure that my quality of thinking is low and that I am doing it for ideological reasons is characterizing your thinking, and not positively. It is also interesting that you used the word “believe” in this context thus admitting that most people who support global warming are just believers and not much different from other believers…I never thought that believing in anything is an indication of understanding.


What doesn't show any understanding is denying that statistical analysis and quantitative reasoning IS science. Your statement that "very few are actually capable of understanding what those models show and how they are created" is nonsensical...nearly all of those "very few" have declared that climate change is a very real issue. You deny because you don't happen to like what those statistics tell us and it doesn't square with your political ideology.


I was commenting, and am again, Mr. Gutman, on your 'diminishing your opponents'. Your comment about being absolutely clear that anyone disagreeing with you doesn't have a high quality of thinking. Which by the way, characterizes your thinking. And not positively. Reread the comment, then read your own comment again, which you apparently forgot you wrote. See what I did there? I changed one word in 'your' comment.

It's extremely unusual for a hurricane strength storm to hit New York. The tornado season is just getting started. Minnesota had a tornado in November of last year. Tornado's have already hit Minnesota this year.

NE Hurricanes and Other Anecdotal Evidence

According to this Huffington Post article, 68 hurricanes have struck the northeast coast in the last 150 years, including sixteen Category 3 hurricanes. From those records, one could be convinced to expect one every two years, including one Category 3 storm every ten years.

Call that rare if you like, but it is certainly not unprecedented. Welcome to Minnesota; we have tornadoes.


I wonder why everyone got up about hurricane Sandy then if New York is hit by hurricanes on average every two years? Wouldn't you think that they'd be better prepared for them?

I wonder why too!

The wonder must be proof positive of CAGW.

Thanks for the link to wikipedia; they are always enlightening.

According to this study and the climate models it considered, an increase in greenhouse gases will make the occurence of superstorms like Sandy less likely to move westward to our eastern coast.

Abstract: Superstorm Sandy ravaged the eastern seaboard of the United States, costing a great number of lives and billions of dollars in damage. Whether events like Sandy will become more frequent as anthropogenic greenhouse gases continue to increase remains an open and complex question. Here we consider whether the persistent large-scale atmospheric patterns that steered Sandy onto the coast will become more frequent in the coming decades. Using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 multimodel ensemble, we demonstrate that climate models consistently project a decrease in the frequency and persistence of the westward flow that led to Sandy’s unprecedented track, implying that future atmospheric conditions are less likely than at present to propel storms westward into the coast.

What's worse than "running out of money"?

Running out of a livable environment.

For a group that claims to be "pro life", there is nothing more contrary to that idea than condemning billions of people to the stresses and deaths to come from too many people living in a newly hostile environment.

The world we live in evolved in adaption to conditions developed over thousands of years.

In the past century or so, we have started a train of drastic changes where there will be no time for evolution or adaption for virtually every living thing on the planet. There may be technological fixes that allow some to live their lives fully--but certainly not for a majority of the people on the planet.

Sometimes money is the easiest thing to get. A livable planet? Much more difficult.

The "debt issue" that is worried about so much?

Fixable in a couple of decades through minor changes.

The "climate issue"? Definitely not fixable in a couple of decades or a couple of centuries.

You ask, "Who will pay when the climate change issue is determined to be a hoax?"

I ask, "Who will pay when climate change is determined to be real?"

The first question is the basis of a charge of "theft by swindle".

The second is the basis of charges ranging from "willful negligence resulting in death" to "genocide".


What is your proposal then? What rate of change would be acceptable to you?

What do you want to cut to pay for these changes?

Will America pursuing this rate of change make any difference to CAGW?
Since we have a fairly small population and have already implemented many improvements.


You've hear of,

You've hear of

Well, if you consider the effect of methane being released in enormous quantities from a thawing arctic region, we are currently at 480 ppm. That level of greenhouse gas has not been present for 800,000 years. And we are just at the beginning of the intensification of feedback loops that are starting up.

That CO2 equivalent represents a climb to a 6 C degree increase in average temperature (about 11 F degree).

If those numbers mean nothing to you, then the problem is willful ignorance and swallowing the deliberate lies of the people who say "don't worry, it's nothing".

If the most "advanced" countries in the world live in denial, what hope is there? US, Canada, UK, Europe, all in thrall to a carbon-release based economy. Yes, the US has made some changes (if the face of fierce, continuing and growing opposition), but there is no country that is providing the lead and actually saying that the science shows we are in deep, deep trouble. The first step to solving anything is to recognize the nature of the problem.

The past 50 years of denial will have cost us dearly--it may be all be too late now. The next decade will certainly present undeniable evidence of rapid, irreversible (in terms of many, many human generations) climate change. The question now is not of "stopping" climate change, it is of "mitigating" the effects of climate change. The changes are "baked" in.

So what costs are acceptable for the mitigation of effects?

What would you pay for a lifeboat when the ship sinks? Who gets to be in the lifeboat? Is it the same people who steered the ship? What about the teeming masses in steerage?

Fossil Free

I looked at 350. Is that to say you are proposing that we go "fossil free" pretty much cold turkey?

Where do you see the money coming from for alternative power plants? (ie non-coal)
Are natural gas or nuclear plants acceptable" Or is only solar and wind acceptable?

Are you thinking everyone uses electric cars? Or some other solution?
Who is paying for all these replacement vehicles?
Note: if everyone uses electric cars, we will need more electrical power generation.

Thoughts on how we move product? Electric semi trucks, locomotives, pick up trucks, etc?

Knowing the cost doesn't determine the value.

The real issue is that we have used the application of carbon-based energy to solve virtually every problem from the industrial revolution to now.

We have not even begun to address the fact that that paradigm has to change.

The world has spent far more time in states hostile to human life than in times accommodating to human life. To put it in scale, if the earth is a year old (really 4.5 billion years), human-type species have been around for the last 23 minutes of that year ( really 200,000 years).