I’ve read a number of the testimonies before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment yesterday. It had a number of excellent presentations, and you can watch the entire video here.
One presentation made me chuckle though, and that’s the one from Dr. Heidi Cullen.
It was probably the most lightweight presentation of all of them, and was mostly a history lesson combined with overused and well known talking points. It was a bit like watching An Inconvenient Truth. For example, does her Climate Central graphical treatment of the Keeling CO2 curve (at left) make it impart the information to viewer any better than the original?
When I was in TV news, it was called “swish”. “We need more swish on that.” i.e. “we need to add some bling and sound effects because the viewer has the attention span of a gnat and if we don’t make it pretty they’ll change the channel”. Yeah, in retrospect, maybe that works with Congress too.
One of her statements though, made me bust out laughing. It’s a prime candidate for Quote of the Week but I’ve already named one this week.
Here’s what she had to say:
And the urgency is that the longer we wait, the further down the pipeline climate travels and works its way into weather, and once it’s in the weather, it’s there for good.
Is it just me, or do you all get the impression the Dr. Cullen really doesn’t understand the differentiations of weather and climate?
Weather has always been in climate, it doesn’t suddenly appear “in climate” based on some imagined metric or maxim. It’s always “been there”, not the inverse.The Merriam Webster dictionary says:
I could forgive her if this was an off the cuff poorly considered ad-libbed remark under pressure before congress, but she wrote this ahead of time. This is just nutty thinking.
We are currently in a race against our own ability to intuitively trust what the science is telling us, assess the risks of global warming, and predict future impacts. So when we look at a climate forecast out to 2100 and see significantly warmer temperatures (both average and extreme) and sea level three feet higher, we need to assess the risk as well as the different solutions necessary to prevent it from happening. The challenge is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, replace our energy infrastructure and adapt to the warming already in the pipeline.
Three feet huh? Okay, let’s run the numbers. Here’s the satellited measure University of Colorado Sea level graph from our WUWT ENSO/Sea Level/Sea Surface Temperature Page
Let’s see, at the current rate of 3.1 mm per year, with 90 years remaining, we’ll have 279 mm (0.91 feet) by the year 2100. And of course, if we get some changes in ocean patterns, AMO, PDO, etc, we might very well see a lower rate. Or, it could be higher, but even being generous, and doubling that rate, gives only 1.82 feet.
Scary huh?If I lived on the coast, I’d worry more about hurricanes and strong ocean storms than I would sea level changes. And, what will coastal development look like in 100 years? Who knows? People 100 years ago certainly couldn’t predict what our coastal development would look like today. In fact, who could have predicted that Australia might consider banning coastal development due to such overblown fears?
But, it is often unreported that we’ve had sea level rise all through American history. Of all the talk about sea level rise, it is interesting to point out that at least in Boston, man has easily outraced the sea. The worry about sea level is real, but the ability of man to adapt is clearly illustrated in the comparative maps. See here: The rubbish is coming! One if by land, two if by sea
You can read her entire testimony here: Cullen_Testimony_10-17-2010