Paleoclimatology – connecting CO2 to changes in temperature

A friend recently messaged me with a link to this lecture by Richard B. Alley of Penn State.

This lecture was part of the American Geophysical Union that took place in December 2009.

Aiming to explain the long story of how carbon dioxide might have fit into climate and changes in temperature, Alley explains a lot of the science and techniques that are allowing scientists to plot and model raw data. This produces what seems to be a lot of compelling evidence that none of the changes in global temperature can be explained without taking into account the effects of carbon dioxide. This is not to say that everything is a shut case, but I think we can say that carbon dioxide, anthropogenic and not, is a factor for changing climate and temperatures.

Here is a shorter video of Alley talking about these topics:

It was nice to see some of the science that geologists are doing because I am not often exposed to it, and I’m sure many other people are not either. In the aftermath of the Copenhagen talks, it is a nice change from political speech to scientific!

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2 Responses

  1. chewbear says

    Scope/scale are the most difficult things for human minds to conceive, I think. It is very hard to think on a time scale that we have no way of relating to. We can only compare to things that we have experienced, and for me that is only the past 24.5 years.

    There is a phenomenon called the “shifting baseline” that is rooted in this problem. For example, fishermen remember what condition the fisheries were like when they started fishing, and they compare it to how it is now. When they pass on their trade to the next generation of fishermen, these new fishermen cannot comprehend what it was like when the older fishermen started because they are only hearing it and did not experience it. So when the older fishermen say there used to be a lot more fish that were bigger, the younger fishermen cannot get the full meaning of that without the aid of accurate records.

  2. Nat says

    Very cool. Not a lot of new information (for me at least), but I like the way that he explained it. I think that a flawed sense of scope is the major obstacle towards people understanding the concept of anthropogenic global warming. People need to be able to see that even a very slight warming over our lifetimes is a huge jump in terms of the geological time scale.