Let’s talk about the weather

Today is January 29th, and it is 60 degrees. In Chicago. So far this winter, we have had a total of one “snowstorm” resulting in a grand total of 1.1 inches so far for the year. That was a record setting 335 days without snow. Just to put that into perspective, Chicago normally averages 36.7 inches of snow per year.

If I had never heard of global warming, I might just chalk that up to, “huh, unusually warm winter this year.” I have heard of global warming, but I’m trying keep that in perspective and fight my natural impulse to say, “ZOMG IT’S THE END OF DAYZZZZZ!”

The thing is, we’re not talking a “unusually warm winter” here. This is not the first 60 degree day this winter, and, for all intents and purposes, we’ve had no snow whatsoever this year. And this is on top of last winter, which was also “unusually warm”. They kids are wondering why we haven’t been able to go sledding, or build snowmen, or make snow angels.

I’m no expert on global warming, but even an idiot like me has to wonder what’s going on. Is this just a two-year fluke, or a sign of some larger trend? I’m reminded of when I attended The Great Climate Debate, all the way back in 2008. The thing that struck me then, and strikes me now, was that the experts on both sides of the debate agreed global warming exists, and their argument was not the same as what the general public believes the issues to be.

But even this guy, who had incredible credentials, is at the forefront of this movement, and who is rabid in his belief, agrees global warming exists and we are causing at least part of it.

I know anecdotal evidence is not evidence, but 60 degrees in January is at least remarkable. I don’t know if there are still people who think global warming isn’t real, or not. But my opinion on it remains unchanged from 3 years ago:

Whether our pollution is causing global warming or not, I think we all know we shouldn’t be polluting.  So we should stop polluting based on its own merits whether it causes global warming or not.  It kind of reminds me back when people used to argue about whether smoking causes cancer or not.  Who cares?  It does a lot of other bad things and you know you shouldn’t be smoking!  So if there is even a chance global warming is caused by us, that is just one more reason on top of all the other reasons to stop polluting.  And if that is the final straw that makes someone stop doing it, then great!

Nature, isn’t it precious?

We just can’t stop getting enough horrific nature around here. One thing after another. Listen, why is it that every time we discover a new fish or insect or whatever, it is frightening? Why aren’t things evolving in the direction of cuteness? Well, that’s not the world we live in folks.

Let’s talk about fish.

Longhead Dreamer Anglerfish

Iceland Catshark

Football Fish

Portuguese Dogfish

Double Baited Anglerfish

Why are all these fish being discovered? It turns out, our old pal global warming causing these things to move into new territory, where they are not normally located. So now they’re coming into places where they have contact with humans. Where will they turn up next? Your back yard POOL?

As long as we’re on the topic of this, I saw this one a while ago:

Blob Fish

Turns out that beautiful mug is almost extinct. That’d be a shame, wouldn’t it?

Another crazy fish would be the Snakehead fish:

Snakehead Terror

Of course, anybody (like myself) who has seen Snakehead Terror, would not be surprised about this menace. This little thing can actually walk on land and, “may even climb trees”. That’s right, it not only eats you in the water, it can actually come on land to get you.

So finally, let me close with a new type of nose leach, with teeth 5 times larger than other leaches. I don’t have a good picture of this thing, but it is indeed a parasite which uses it’s giant teeth to attach to the inside of your nose. Don’t worry though, the article is quick to point out that its genitalia aren’t a lot bigger than a red blood cell. So take that, nose leach! I will certainly be gloating over that while you are eating my nose from the inside out.

Links mostly via Sara

I’m Allergic to Global Warming…Literally

I knew that my allergies were really really bad this year, worse than I ever remembered. I would start to question whether my allergy medicine was working or not, but then I would read somewhere else about how bad allergies were in general this year. It does make me feel a little better to think that it’s not just me, it’s everyone.

It turns out that there is a reason for all of this. I’m allergic to global warming. No joke. Basically, rising global temperatures and changing climates are resulting in warmer springs, which leads to higher pollen counts.

This article reads like the script of a horror story. We have some choice quotes like, “Pollen from ragweed, which triggers most cases of spring hay fever, is projected to increase up to 100% between now and 2085”, “ragweed pollen could become up to 70% more allergenic”, and “climate change, it turns out, is likely to favor trees that give off pollen as opposed to those that don’t”.

AAAAAH!

Now, all of a sudden, it’s personal. That’s certainly something I didn’t think about when looking at those lush scenes with dinosaurs….dinosaur sized ragweed spewing dinosaur sized pollen year round.

No thank you, my friend. Me and my scratchy red eyes are voting for an ice age.

The Great Climate Debate

Yesterday my work hosted something called the “Great Climate Debate” in which a notable in the field of climate study from each of the opposing viewpoints (Global Warming is man-made vs. it is a natural phenomenon that we can’t control) was able to express his views.  The debate itself wasn’t what I expected exactly; there wasn’t really any back and forth and the issues argued were very scientific and subtle.  Also, both sides had some slight flaws in their arguments such as taking particular ranges of time that supported their arguments, but not examining the entire timeline altogether.  But I did learn a thing or two and I am grateful that I work at a place that would sponsor such a thing.

One interesting thing is that the “natural phenomenon” guy agreed that the globe was warming and even agreed that humans were causing at least some part of that.  He was only arguing that our contribution was very small and didn’t impact it much.  So the actual disagreement was only about the degree to which we are affecting the climate.  I’m not sure everybody gets that, I think there are general lay-people still believe that the climate is not warming.  But even this guy, who had incredible credentials, is at the forefront of this movement, and who is rabid in his belief, agrees global warming exists and we are causing at least part of it.

For his part, one interesting point that he made was about the self-regulating abilities of Earth.  For example, as the temperature rises more humidity goes in the air causing the greenhouse effect.  But it also causes the creation of clouds and clouds actually help reflect radiation from the sun back into space.  So the Earth is heating to some degree from the greenhouse effect, but also at the same time cooling to some degree from the loss of energy from the sun which is no longer making it to the surface of the Earth.  It was also interesting to think about the fact that the Earth was warmer at the time of the dinosaurs than most climate modelers predict it will be due to our global warming.

The most interesting issue that came up was political.  The question came up, “Is global warming even a bad thing?”  Well, it turns out that for countries in our position of the globe (“our” meaning the U.S. but also Europe, Russia, etc.) global warming would actually be better for our crops, etc. and would probably increase our GDP.  But for other countries (especially Africa) it would be devastating.  So the people who are causing most of the greenhouse gas emissions actually stand to benefit from it and the people in the 3rd world (predictably) would be the big losers.

At the end of the day I have to reject the argument of the “natural phenomenon” guy, but not necessarily because he is wrong.  He could be right.  But his argument was, well the other guys with their fancy models aren’t correct, so therefore the opposite must be true.  Not so!  That doesn’t logically hold.  Their position could still be correct, even if they can’t prove it.

Anyway, my position on it is the same as my positions on many things: this argument is irrelevant.  Whether our pollution is causing global warming or not, I think we all know we shouldn’t be polluting.  So we should stop polluting based on its own merits whether it causes global warming or not.  It kind of reminds me back when people used to argue about whether smoking causes cancer or not.  Who cares?  It does a lot of other bad things and you know you shouldn’t be smoking!  So if there is even a chance global warming is caused by us, that is just one more reason on top of all the other reasons to stop polluting.  And if that is the final straw that makes someone stop doing it, then great!