In contrast to Ross Barton’s anecdotal claim of being a “senior scientist” and contrary to his assertion that “there is no science behind any of these claims” of climate disruption, scientific studies of the world’s changing climate are everywhere to be found for anyone who cares to look.
July was the hottest month on record, based upon 140 years of weather observations. That followed the hottest June ever recorded. As of Aug. 21, the daily carbon dioxide level at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii was 409.59 parts per million (PPM). In June 1958 that level stood at 315 PPM, a 29.9 percent increase in 60 years. This rise in CO2 has already resulted in a 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) world average temperature increase.
According to 70 peer-reviewed climate studies, in a world that is 2 degrees warmer, there will be 25% more hot days and heatwaves — which bring with them major health risks, crop failures and wildfires.
Warm air from Europe’s summer heat wave reached Greenland on July 29 and 30, setting temperature records at Summit Station and melting about 90 percent of the ice sheet surface from July 30 to Aug. 3. Melt runoff was estimated at 55 billion tons during the interval, or about 40 billion tons more than the 1981 to 2010 average for the same time period.
Overall, melting this July was much higher than average, leading to more extensive bare ice and flooded snow areas. Surface air temperatures during the warm event over Greenland peaked to 12 degrees Celsius (22 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981 to 2010 reference period. In the 20th century, Greenland lost around 9,000 billion tons of ice in total, accounting for 25 millimeters of sea-level rise.
If the entire Greenland ice sheet melts, the scientific consensus is that sea levels will rise by 20 feet. If the Antarctic ice sheet melts, sea levels will rise by 200 feet. Both of these events are likely to occur before the end of this century.
If a graph of the increase in CO2 from 1750 (considered the beginning of the industrial revolution) to 2019 is superimposed over yearly average Earth temperatures, the unending increase in temperature correlates exactly with the C02 rise. Humans have enjoyed a relatively benign climate for the past 10,000 years, the beginning of which is considered the dawn of agriculture. That, in turn, gave rise to civilizations.
The climate that we humans have known for 10 millennia may well be coming to an end. What will replace it?
If a giant asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, people everywhere would be demanding that governments act to do something to avert catastrophe.
Humans would do well to visualize climate disruption as nothing less than an errant interplanetary object quickly heading in our direction.
Paul Post is a retired attorney who has been a Topeka resident for 41 years.