World’s great warmup

A new report from the government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, using data from around the world, says the past decade has been the warmest on record.

 By BRIAN K. SULLIVAN, Bloomberg News

 Scientific evidence that the world is getting warmer is “unmistakable,” according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration drawing on research from 48 countries, including Russia and China.

 The past decade was the warmest on record and it’s been getting hotter over the past 50 years, the researchers said, citing 10 main indicators, including surface and ocean temperatures, the amount of sea ice and glaciers and levels of humidity.

 “The records come from many institutions worldwide,” Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator and undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, said in a statement. “These independently produced lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion: Our planet is warming.”

 Globally, air temperature near the surface in the past 10 years was 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than the 1960s and about four-tenths of a degree warmer than the 1990s, according to the report.

 The warming has led to shrinking glaciers, more heat waves and heavier rainfall as moisture in the atmosphere increases, the researchers said.

 “The temperature [change] of one degree Fahrenheit over the past 50 years may seem small, but it has already altered our planet,” said Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report, called “State of the Climate in 2009.” “And there is now evidence that over 90 percent of warming over the past 50 years has gone into our oceans.”

 Full story at:

Our Take:
We are not alarmists, and we acknowledge the skepticism about global warming. Typically, these ‘end of the world’ bulletins take it for granted that a warmer atmosphere on earth is all downside, no benefit.

 Be that as it may, we argue for prudence. It makes sense to alter our actions and limit the release of carbon and carbon equivalents into the air, to minimize the changes taking place in the chemical composition of our atmosphere–if we can do so without massive economic dislocation. It appears that grain-based biofuels, building into a broader biomass-based energy and industrial refining and fabrication to replace petrochemical industries (think bioplastics, bio-fibers, solvents and other chemical compounds)–this is a solution that can grow our economy and grow the number of stable, high-paying jobs. Biofuels and biorefinery development, of all the scenarios for limiting greenhouse gases, would cause the least disruption to the industries that will bear the most burden due from the changes we will see.

 Not only that, but using biofuels in our vehicles and increasingly for stationary power generation is carbon neutral, releasing far fewer net tons of carbon into the air.

 Scientists will be debating the meaning and the effect of the one-degree Fahrenheit temperature increase, and the warmer ocean temperatures for some time to come. It is common sense to put the brakes on if we can. But it’s also common sense not to slam on the brakes–then we all just get our heads knocked on the windshield. Biofuels and biorefining are one element to a transition from petroleum hydrocarbons into farm and forest-based carbohydrates.


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