Monday, October 3, 2011

Global Warming Eyed by a Climatological Maverick

Roger Pielke Sr. would reject the label "maverick". He is a climatologist who accepts "climate change" but rebels at the IPCC "global warming" story as being too simplistic.

Here's a presentation he gave while visiting the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada on September 29, 2011. In amongst his slides are these two which, from my perspective, summarize his message:

From the local Waterloo press,, here is an article written by Brent Davis summarizing Roger Pielke Sr.'s message:
When it comes to the issue of climate change, one leading researcher believes too much attention is being paid to carbon dioxide.

And that focus — touted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, among others — means that other important factors aren’t being given the consideration they deserve, said Roger Pielke Sr. of the University of Colorado Boulder.

“It’s blinding us to other possibilities,” Pielke told an audience at the University of Waterloo on Thursday night, as he delivered the 2011 TD Walter Bean Lecture in the Environment. “Carbon dioxide shouldn’t be the paramount, overarching variable.”

Now, Pielke is the first to admit that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is a concern. But he says the issue of climate change goes far beyond global warming, and that the negative human impact on climate goes far beyond carbon dioxide.

Land use and changes to land cover, aerosols and nitrogen deposition are key causal factors, or “human climate forcings,” as well, Pielke said.

“The human influence on climate is everywhere.”

Given the complexity of the climate system, global warming isn’t the sole concern. In fact, Pielke argues that various data sets, including upper-ocean heating, don’t show any global warming for the past seven years or so.

And it’s debatable whether extreme weather events are on the rise, he said. Tornado damage in the United States, as a percentage of gross domestic product, is on the way down, and the coastline isn’t being hit any more frequently in the past hundred years by major hurricanes.

Pielke wants to see a different model used for the climate change issue, one that takes global warming and carbon dioxide into account, but recognizes that there are other significant human influences.

He’d like to see key resources such as water, food, energy, human health and ecosystem function used as the basis of an assessment of vulnerability that takes into account the influence of things like population growth, policy and institutional changes and climate variability.

The problems we face in terms of climate are multi-dimensional, Pielke said. All too often, current approaches are a “gross oversimplification of reality,” he said.
And here is an interview of Roger Pielke Sr. on the local Waterloo radio. If you listen you might be surprised at this scientist who is demonized by some as a "climate skeptic". He doesn't fit the simplistic picture that most people have of "the debate" over climate change.

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