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The Climate Change Debate is Over: Seas and Temperatures Are Rising Dangerously

| September 21, 2016

global warming world map history 1980-2015

Undeniable. Click on the image for larger view. (NOAA)

By Todd Larsen

Earlier this month, Hurricane Hermine caused storm surges that flooded the Florida coast, killed one person, and knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

This is the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since 2005’s Category 3 Hurricane Wilma, but the Atlantic basin is no stranger tomajor storms. In fact, the Atlantic Ocean sees seven named storms per year now, up from an average of five just a few years ago. And storm intensity is increasing in the Pacific Ocean as well.

For decades, companies profiting from the fossil fuel economy have funded scientists, think tanks, and politicians that oppose the general consensus of scientists worldwide that humans are causing climate change.

Mountains of studies and models show that climate change is real, primarily caused by humans, and is already having major impacts on human civilization. But climate deniers have persuaded many to doubt climate change, slowing the critical transition to renewable energy and clean transportation technologies.

But now, the climate deniers have a real problem. The earth itself is providing overwhelming evidence that climate change is happening much sooner than predicted and already impacting our lives.

And it’s not just hurricanes.

other-wordsIn July, NASA provided data demonstrating that each of the first six months of 2016 were the hottest on record. July and August went on to break records for summer temperatures. These record temperatures couldn’t be explained away by El Nino weather patterns, but they can be by the increasing greenhouse gas effect.

So, too, can the massive rains that caused extensive flooding in Louisiana, killing 13 people and damaging or destroying over 60,000 homes.

All along the East Coast of the United States, cities are experiencing “sunny day flooding” where water inundates cities in the absence of storms. Rising seas, resulting from climate change, are already creating conditions where cities receive flood waters of one to two feet on a regular basis, causing significant damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

Rising seas are caused by rapidly melting ice. The Greenland ice sheet, one of the largest ice formations on earth, is losing ice at a rate of 270 gigatons of ice per year — the equivalent of 110 million Olympic-sized swimming pools per year.

This year, the arctic experienced the second-highest level of sea ice melt on record, which will impact the habitats of gulls and polar bears.

Increasing storms and storm intensity and rising sea levels have long been predicted by climate models and now appear to be coming true.

What does all this building evidence mean for climate deniers?

Clearly, it’s time to stop pretending climate change isn’t real, and recognize that it’s already having major impacts in the world. And the many corporations that tell the public they’re addressing climate change, while simultaneously funding climate-denying politicians, need to end their duplicitous practices.

Climate impacts are already harming the most vulnerable people in the United States. People of color, indigenous people, and the poor, who are least equipped to adapt to climate impacts are the most vocal advocates for stopping polluters.

We need to stop questioning the validity of climate science and instead rapidly scale up renewable energy, clean transportation, and sustainable agriculture and forestry, all while immediately investing in adaptation nationwide.

The debate is over — it’s time for climate deniers to concede defeat, and start becoming part of the solution.

Todd Larsen directs Green America’s corporate responsibility division.

hottest years on record noaa

Click on the graph for larger view. (NOAA)

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21 Responses for “The Climate Change Debate is Over: Seas and Temperatures Are Rising Dangerously”

  1. Chris says:

    The article points out: “companies profiting from the fossil fuel economy have funded scientists, think tanks, and politicians that oppose the general consensus of scientists worldwide that humans are causing climate change.” It fails to point out who funds the other side as I am curious. I can show that water boils at 100 degrees celcius and call it fact and have data to support that. I can show water boiling at 97 degrees celcius and call that fact with data to support that. which one is correct? as a scientist I could support either one but may lean one way based on my agenda. At least we know one sides agenda from the article but if fails to disclose the other.

  2. PCer says:

    So what can we do here in Flagler County today?

  3. Robert L Kappelmann says:

    There are many spurious claims by those proposing radical actions to stop climate change to justify the radical reduction of carbon dioxide emissions without regard to the economic and societal impact on the general population. These claims are very misleading to the public and interfere with the rational and cost-effective planning to effectively deal with the climate change issue.

    Listed below are some of the major misinterpretation of the consensus climate science:
    Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide is causing the sea levels to rise: The fact is that sea level has been rising steadily since the end of the last major Ice Age approximately 25,000 years ago.. The geographic changes of this sea level rise has been dramatic. For example, 10,000 years ago, the state of Florida had over twice the land area it has presently. Sea level rise is likely to continue with or without anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The real issue is whether anthropogenic CO2 emissions will increase the rate of sea level rise.
    Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide is causing the global temperature to rise: The fact is that global temperature has been rising gradually since the end of the last major Ice Age. However over shorter terms there have been periods of warming and cooling. The last cooling, known as the Little Ice Age, lasted about 300 years and officially ended about 1890. A global temperature rise after a period of global cooling is to be expected. Again, the real issue is whether anthropogenic CO2 emissions will increase the natural temperature rise.
    The last 10 to 15 years have seen the highest temperatures ever recorded: Since temperature recording began in the late 1800s, about the end of the Little Ice Age, it is not unusual that the temperatures over the last 10 to 15 years have been the highest recorded. The important issue is whether those temperatures are higher than they would’ve been due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
    The consensus (97%) of all climate scientist agree that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are causing climate change: Actual the consensus of climate scientist agree that H2O, CO2, CH4 (methane) and N2O are greenhouse gases that keep the planet at livable temperatures (Global Average 59 degrees F). They also agree that global temperature and sea level have been increasing since the end of the last major Ice Age, approximately 25,000 years ago. The consensus also agrees that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions can increase the rate of both global temperature and sea level rise. However, there is no consensus as to the actual impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on the rate of global temperature and sea level rise due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

  4. Knightwatch says:

    The debate is most decidedly NOT over. There are still firmly held Republican beliefs, and then there is science. The two are not compatible. Republicans will eventually claim the seas are not rising, the earth is sinking. Too many Mexicans, Blacks and Muslims. Get rid of the black guy in the White House, cancel Obamacare, eliminate welfare and bomb the crap out of the Middle East and the problem will be solved, and the global climate hoax will be exposed.

  5. biasedmedia says:

    I don’t think anyone has ever debated climate change, as it is always changing. The debate is how we project 100-200-300 years into future when no one can get a simple hurricane or tropical storm correct 24 hours into the future let alone planet climate 100 years from now.

    As far as see ice, fill a glass with ice and water to the top and let it melt… the water doesn’t overflow or raise… Florida has been under water before human contribution so its really not a surprise if it happens again, we will just have to move

  6. Veteran says:

    Thank you Mr. Kappelman for saving me the trouble of commenting. Bravo.

  7. Sherry says:

    Geez. . . for those of you who would rather believe the stupidity of the Republican party over NASA Scientists. . . please try and become educated on the actual facts:

  8. Sherry says:

    For those who think FOX reports “the truth”. . . this from Wikipedia:

    A study by Media Matters for America found that between August 1 and October 1, 2013, on Fox News “69 percent of guests and 75 percent of mentions cast doubt on climate science,” compared to “[half] of those quoted in The Wall Street Journal… about 29 percent in The Los Angeles Times, about 17 percent in the Washington Post and about 12 percent in Bloomberg News.”[57][58] Fox News defended the criticism that they were disproportionately representing the views of climate contrarians by denying the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming.[59]

    A 2012 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that 93% of global warming coverage by Fox News was misleading. The report put the figure slightly lower—81 percent—for the Wall Street Journal. The misleading statements identified in the report included “…dismissals of human-caused climate change, disparaging comments about individual scientists, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and cherry picking of data.

  9. Pogo says:

    Looks like professional climate change deniers should disclose conflicts of interest when they’re posting boilerplate opinions:

  10. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    Biasedmedia actually makes a good point, because his statement demonstrates what the average person doesn’t understand about numerical modeling and chaotic systems. Long term trends are far easier to get right than short term predictions because long term trends average out short term, noisy data. Kapplemann also makes a great point in that it’s really easy to mislead the average person just by including numbers and a little scientific language. For example, he correctly notes that we’ve been in a warming trend since the last ice age, and correctly asks the question is it anthropogenic but stops short of linking to any peer-reviewed articles that support his position, because there aren’t any.

    This is from the journal nature:
    Anthropogenic forcing dominates global mean sea-level rise since 1970

    5 minutes on Google searching for anthropogenic warming and then discounting kook websites like the national review or infowars will get you the facts. Likewise, his 97% statement regarding the scientific consensus is factually incorrect – 97% of the papers published agree that there is a warming trend, not 97% of the scientists. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that anthropogenic climate change is real, the earth is warming faster because of our impact on the environment, and the only reason why there’s a controversy over these facts is because companies that profit from ventures that add substantially to our environmental impact choose profits over the future of humanity, see for example Exxon Mobil’s very active lobbying against proposals to cut emisssions despite their knowledge that it is a real phenomenon in as early as 1981.

  11. More Pictures Less Words says:

    The best info-graphic I’ve seen regarding the Earth’s climate temperature:

    now for the words. Kappelmann mentions several critical points, so let’s look at that.
    Check for Kappelmann’s claims (not in the order originally presented).

    1) Temperature recording began in the 1800’s. No, the Earth’s temperature is recorded in geological records, for those who can read them. Kappelmann even references geological data later.

    2) “there is no consensus as to the actual impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on the rate of global temperature and sea level rise,” no, see:
    for a list of scientific organizations claiming that humans are a significant cause of climate change. This list includes several American organizations such as “American Meteorological Society,” “American Society of Agronomy,” “American Statistical Association,” “Geological Society of America,” and many others. I’m not sure which scientific organizations Kappelmann’s in, but it or a sister organization is probably on the list.

    3) “Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide is causing the sea levels to rise: The fact is that sea level has been rising steadily since the end of the last major Ice Age approximately 25,000 years ago.” I can’t find as clear of a rebuttal for this as for item 2, so instead I invite people to look for themselves. When you do, check the legitimacy of the source (i.e. vs or IPCC). Be sure you look at peer-reviewed journals (this eliminates many sources that Kappelmann might be using).

    3) “global temperature has been rising gradually since the end of the last major Ice Age.” When charted over millennia, the temperature is rising. Keep in mind that Kappelmann is speaking to temperature rise from a time that Massachusetts, think Boston, was under (up to) MILES OF ICE. This is miles thick, not miles wide. At 2 degrees below 1960-1990 average (say 12,500years ago), Chicago was still under glaciers (think ice roughly half a mile thick 2500-3000 feet, 100 two-story houses stacked on top of each other). At one-half of a degree above the 1961-1990 average, Britain was cut off from Europe (roughly 6500-6200 BCE). Before the industrial revolution, the fastest temperature rise (since 20,000 BCE or thereabouts, i.e. ten times as long before the birth of Christ as we are after) was roughly 1 degree in 1000 years. In the last 100 years, temperatures have risen roughly one-and-a-third degree, and the increase is increasing! (concave up, second derivative is positive, it’s getting steeper and steeper, or however you want to conceptualize it).

    Sea-level rise – yup, most scientists agree that humans are a significant factor.
    Global temperature increase – again, affirmative, most scientists agree that humans are significant.

  12. Born and Raised Here says:

    I’ve haven’t seen much change here in Flagler.

  13. Unpogo says:

    @More Pictures Less Words

    Thanx for providing pushback v. the military trolling gangster Kappelman and his posse, tasked by the NSA w/cruisin’ the net to put nonsense in climate change article commentariat.

    The monster was described in the Pentagon-commiss’d an Abrupt Climate Change Scenario And Its implications for US National Security, publ. 10/03, e.g., Abrupt Climate Change is now horrifyingly exemplified by the unprecedented jetstream anomaly of crossing the equator, which will, inter alia, enable much higher cloud altitude for far more powerful cyclones, as described by NASA, those crazy guys that make up fairy tales. The tropical depression swarms of as many as 6 discrete systems have crossed the Atlantic from W. Africa on 3 occasions so far in this hurricane season w/1 that powerfully was modeled as a 50% probable cyclone while still on land, also unprecedented.

    These unprecedented effects are of Biblical proportions; to get to the fulfillment of the 4th Angel destroying humans w/the power to globally scorch (Rev. 16:8-9) the caveat point is Abrupt Climate Change in the context of global warming, that is, NOW. The termination is before 2021. Kappelman and his NSA posse of MTGs will be the 1st to go. Buh-Bye.

  14. Veteran says:

    All moot points. In approximately 5 billion years the earth will be destroyed by our sun which will have become a red giant.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The ice age ended way before liberals clogged the left lane of the road with their lithium laden toxic electric cars’

  16. Nathan says:

    The ice age ended way before liberals clogged the left lane of the road with their lithium laden toxic electric cars’

  17. Sherry says:

    biasedmedia. . . please do yourself and us a tremendous favor before posting any comments. . . please get yourself educated on the subject at hand. Do you simply not know or understand that much of the massive volume of frozen water contained in ice burgs and glaciers currently resides in AIR. . . NOT WATER. Many . . . currently melting. . . glaciers are in the mountains, and their release of water IS causing the sea levels to rise and to become more acid . . . which poses great risk to sea life as well.

    Maybe this students’ guide to the dangers of climate change will help:everyone:

  18. Robert L Kappelmann says:

    Wow! Name calling doesn’t lead to useful discussion of ideas. Every thing I listed is supported by the UN IPPC scientists but not the political scientists that are quoted in the popular press. Fact: The earth has been warming and sea levels rising since the end of the last major ice age. Fact Florida has lost 75% of its land mass due to global warming starting 25,000 years ago. Fact: There have been numerous rapid climate change events that have had major impacts on human civilization ie the little ice age that end around 1890. Fact CO2 is a greenhouse gas that does impact the rate of natural climate change. Fact: If nature is the main cause of climate change or man broke and can’t fix it (UN Model indicate the if China and India don’t decarbonize we are doomed) we better learn to adapt! Oh good guess about the NSA, but wrong, hint: My research area was atmospheric photochemistry. :0)

  19. IMO says:

    So are we going to nuke China and remove it from this planet?

    Reported yesterday that China is currently building the largest expansion of fossil fuel use in it’s history.

  20. Veteran says:

    I’m all in for nuking China, but leave the Great Wall. I haven’t seen it yet.

  21. Sherry says:

    Here is the latest summary statement (2014) confirming the massive impact of human activity on climate change ” copied directly ” from the UN IPPC:

    This Synthesis Report is based on the reports of the three Working Groups of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.ion, mitigation and sustainable development;

    SPM 1. Observed Changes and their Causes
    Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse
    gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts
    on human and natural systems.

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