Global warming racks up heating bills

There has been an absolute flurry of research, news articles and blog posts over the past several weeks concerning what scientists are calling an unexpected consequence of global warming- some of the heaviest snowfalls on record across eastern North America. Scientists now believe that this phenomenon on domino effect in an interconnected series of warming-related changes that are occurring globally.

Briefly, the Arctic ice cap is melting at an alarming rate. This has already and will continue to produce an excess of moisture. Coupled with this is the warming of sea surfaces globally, which is causing more evaporation and moisture input to the atmosphere. This has resulted in a steady increase in snowfall across Siberia.

Snow changes the thermal properties of landscapes due to its high reflectivity. Just as we feel cooler in the summer if we’re outside in a white shirt,  a snow covered meadow will absorb less incoming solar radiation, and produce a region of lower air temperatures. This effect known as the “albedo effect”, and it has been leading to abnormally low winter temperatures in Siberia despite globally warmer winters.

Global temperature anomaly predictions for January 2011. Blue areas are predicted to experience a colder-than-average January, red areas a warmer-than average month.

The jet stream refers to a “virtual river” of 100-250 mph winds that circle the earth at mid-latitudes. It is known to be a dominant force controlling global weather patterns. As the jet stream pushes across Siberia, it is now encountering a colder dome of air. This causes its waves of air to scatter and for its west-east trajectory to become more erratic. In particular, waves of air are now being deflected north and then south, causing cold Arctic air to push south over eastern North America.

In December 2009, northern hemisphere snow cover was the second largest extent on record. North American snow cover was the largest extent ever recorded.

I won’t go any more into the details of this discussion here, but I’ll point you to a few articles that do a good job summarizing the science:

Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming

–This is a recent New York Times article by Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at environmental research agency

Climate Change Needs: Boats and Snowshoes

–By Robert Conners, environmental journalist

Predicting Seasonal Weather

— A special report by the National Science Foundation on temperature anomaly predictions for North America

Happy 2011, stay warm!!


4 thoughts on “Global warming racks up heating bills”

  1. I think that we are in the grip of the biggest and most insane hoax in history, and unless the public get wise to it soon, we will all be parted from what wealth we have.

    Lets take a simple economic view of what is likely to happen.

    In the absence of sufficient alternative solutions/technologies, the only way western countries can ever attain the IPCC demands of CO2 emissions reduced to 40% below 1990 levels, (thats about 60% below todays) is to machine restrictions on the use of fossil fuels. Emission Trading schemes are an example.

    As the use of fossil fuels is roughly linear with anthropogenic CO2 emissions, to attain a 60% reduction of emissions , means about the same proportion of reduction of fossil fuel usage, including petrol, diesel, heating oil, not to mention coal and other types including propane etc.

    No matter how a restriction on the use of these is implemented even a 10% decrease will make the price of petrol go sky high. In otherwords, (and petrol is just one example) we can expect, if the IPCC has its way, a price rise on petrol of greater than 500%.
    First of all, for all normal people, this will make the family car impossible to use. Worse than that though, the transport industry will also have to deal with this as well and they will need to pass the cost on to the consumer. Simple things like food will get prohibitively expensive. Manufacturers who need fossil energy to produce will either pass the cost on to the consumer or go out of business. If you live further than walking distance from work, you will be in trouble.
    All this leads to an economic crash of terrible proportions as unemployment rises and poverty spreads.
    I believe that this will be the effect of bowing to the IPCC and the AGW lobby. AND as AGW is a hoax it will be all in vain. The world will continue to do what it has always done while normal people starve and others at the top (including energy/oil companies and emission traders) will enjoy the high prices.

    Neither this scenario nor any analysis of the cost of CO2 emission reductions is included in IPCC literature, and the Stern report which claims economic expansion is simply not obeying economic logic as it is known in todays academic world.

    The fact that the emission reduction cost issue is not discussed, leads me to believe that there is a deliberate cover up of this issue. Fairly obviously the possibility of starvation will hardly appeal to the masses.

    AGW is baloney anyway!



    1. When you say AGW is a hoax, are you referring to the public, politicized version of climate change that has been distilled from hundreds of different sources to produce the IPCC, or the conclusions reached by numerous independent researchers/institutions across the world? As an ecologist in a relatively small and inbred university environmental science department, I find it absurd to imagine that academic researchers across the world and across numerous disciplines are colluding to produce a massive hoax. It’s nearly impossible to get soil scientists and atmospheric chemists to attend each others’ talks at the same research conference, much less collaborate on an intricate lie of the proportions that you’re suggesting.

      I respect your belief that AGW isn’t actually occurring, but I do think that arguing against emissions reductions from an economic perspective invokes some inherently flawed logic. Even if the chance that AGW is actually occurring and will soon lead to worldwide environmental catastrophe is incredibly low, doesn’t it make economic sense to take measures to prevent that highly unlikely apocalyptic scenario from occurring? I guess what I’m really asking is, what sort of economic costs are we prepared to face if you’re wrong?

      I also don’t think it’s fair to be focused solely on the economic hardships “normal people”, (I take it you’re referring to relatively affluent, car-owning citizens of industrialized nations who comprise a small fraction of the global population) would face. The only reason we can enjoy the lifestyle we do is because of our global economic dominance and in particular our domination of the resources and economic activities of third world countries. Who, by the way, are not too keen on the prospect of paying the price of our environmental negligence.

      Very interesting blog!


      1. Maddie,
        As a scientist you must be very aware that the only “evidence” that supports the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis is some sort of often disputed correlation.
        You know as well as I do that correlations do not prove anything, and if you did read my blog, you will have been reminded that the world’s temperature fluctuates regularly anyway and for instance the Holocene Maximum was considerably warmer than today.

        My comment above is really asking you, if, given the current “evidence” that anthropogenic global warming is occurring, are you prepared to starve and see your children and loved ones starve as well.
        By the way, if WE are starving, I hate to think what will be happening in the third world at that time.

        If the world does heat up excessively, of course there will be dire consequences, but are we sure enough about that to deliberately enter us into the scenario I describe above?

        Just to remind you of how warm the Holocene maximum was –
        and how much warming the IPCC predicts with a doubling of CO2 concentrations –



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