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From The Steamboat Weather Summit

by Matt Zaffino

Bio | Email | Follow: @Zaffino

Posted on January 20, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:47 PM

It's good to be back. I came home early from this conference two years ago because we had a little snow in Portland, and I missed it entirely last year because KGW was on the verge of the big transition to HD and I had to be there for that.

At the moment, I'm listening to Dr Jim White, a climate scientist from the University of Colorado, talk about past climate and future climate change. He just said in terms of human energy consumption and we are now living in the most interesting time in human history since man learned to use fire.

The ramifications for climate change are huge because of the amount of CO2 we are and will continue to release into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. I'm just blogging random thoughts, facts and ideas I'm hearing here.

Like.. of all the fossil fuels we've consumed since the beginning of the industrial age, 20% has been used in the last 10 years. That means 20% of the CO2 humans have pumped into the atmosphere has happened in the last 10 years.

So far, climate change has not impacted many us. Polar bears have been hurt, pine bark beetles have benefited. But consider that 800 million people live in coastal areas less than about 3 feet above sea level. Sea level rises will have huge impacts on humans. Thermal expansion alone with no contribution from melting polar ice, could lead to 1 foot rises in sea level if the oceans warm to levels forecasted by some climate models.

Hurricanes... no clear connection to climate change. There is simplistic theoretical support for more frequent, stronger hurricanes, but those results vary greatly among multiple climate models. There is no solid support for stronger and more frequent hurricanes in recent (last 20 years, for example) observations compared to past records. And the predicted and observed magnitudes of hurricane strength and frequency do not match. The point here is the scientific evidence does not (yet, perhaps) the connection between bigger badder hurricanes and climate change.

My computer batter is about to die so I gotta go. More later.

Matt Zaffino