That’s the headline from Live Science.
Politicians in the nation’s capital have been reluctant to set limits on the carbon dioxide pollution that is expected to warm the planet by 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit during the next century, citing uncertainty about the severity of the threat. But that uncertainty may have shrunk somewhat with the release last week of two scientific reports suggesting that global warming is not just a hypothetical possibility, but a real phenomenon that has already started transforming especially sensitive parts of the globe….
Overall, the reports say, Earth’s climate has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1900. In the Arctic, where a number of processes amplify the warming effects of carbon dioxide, most regions have experienced a temperature rise of 4 to 7 degrees in the last 50 years.
That warmth has reduced the amount of snow that falls every winter, melted away mountain glaciers and shrunk the Arctic Ocean’s summer sea ice cover to its smallest extent in millennia, according to satellite measurements. Swaths of Alaskan permafrost are thawing into soggy bogs, and trees are moving northward at the expense of the tundra that rings the Arctic Ocean.
This is where the article gets a little fuzzy.
Things are less serious in the lower 48, where the effects of climate change have been more subtle. In much of the United States, spring arrives about two weeks earlier than it did 50 years ago. Tropical bird species have appeared in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. Species such as Edith’s checkerspot, a butterfly native to western North America, have started dying out at the southern reaches of their ranges.
“Responses to climate change are being seen across the U.S.A,” said Camille Parmesan, a biologist at the University of Texas in Austin. She is the co-author, with Hector Galbraith of the University of Colorado in Boulder, of “Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S.” The report was released Tuesday by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a non-partisan but not disinterested research organization dedicated to providing sound scientific information about global warming.
Less subtle but being seen across the USA? Which is it?
Parmesan and Galbraith acknowledge that nothing in the report would strike the average person as particularly alarming. They also allow that some of the past century’s warming might have happened even if humans hadn’t been pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But they argue that the changes they describe should be taken as a “very clear signal” that climate change will have significant effects in coming decades.
OK, it’s both and neither. Nothing in the report would strike the average person as alarming, but that nothing in the report that is particularly alarming will have signigicant effects in the coming decades. In other words, we’ll just have to trust them that the nothing particularly alarming that has happened for decades is evidence that nothing particularly alarming will only get worse if we don’t spend billions of dollars to fix the nothing particularly alarming right now. If we wait to figure out what the nothing particularly alarming is, it’s too late.
Do I sound demeaning? I hope I am.