Climate change complexity

In today’s New Zealand Herald, meteorologist Jim Hessell describes the complexity of the earth’s atmosphere and how it will react to increasing greenhouse gases.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Climate change and hot air.

Many of the heated debates on global warming often arise from one or both of two reasons.

Attitudes become entrenched in a position from which it is difficult to retreat or the protagonists expect their area of expertise to explain everything. Also it is not uncommon for inconvenient truths to be ignored, for example a strenuous advocate of global warming will ignore outbreaks off extreme cold which occur at about the same frequency as heat waves. This seems to me to be because the “experts” do not appreciate the complexity of the atmosphere and how it responds as part of the planetary system which also includes the oceans.

A basic requirement of anyone discussing the atmosphere is to understand that thermodynamics (temperature effects) and dynamics (wind effects) are mutually dependent. We know that since the beginning of the industrial revolution the composition of the atmosphere, an important part of which is the increasing concentration of “greenhouse” gases, has been changed by the activities of mankind including its burgeoning population. The concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide, monitored over the last 50 years show an irrefutable upward trend. The impacts of these are affecting and threatening our existence on a planet of limited resources.