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Super-heatwaves of 55°C (131°F) to emerge if global warming continues (europa.eu)
46 points by mimsee 101 days ago | hide | past | web | 29 comments | favorite



It should be noted that heatwaves exceeding 50°C have been recorded outside of Europe in recent years, with 51°C in India [1] and 54°C in Kuwait [2], so other parts of the world are already only 1 degree below "super-heatwave" status.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/20/india-records-...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_heat_waves


It would be good if there was some website that would aggregate and preserve these predictions along with the names of people who have made them, and then compared them against what actually happened years or decades down the road.

Right now climate science seems to suffer from confirmation bias, that is, people only remember the few predictions that have come true, and forget everything else, such as "Florida will be underwater" from the 00s or "we're all gonna freeze to death" from the 70s.

There is perverse incentive to come out with these outlandish claims, which on the one hand make it easier to get funding, and on the other imply no responsibility whatsoever, since the timeline is often decades in the future, and people's attention spans are short.


This empty criticism is extremely old and tired by now.

Maybe you could inform yourself a little better. There are various public sources of serious predictions (usually done with supercomputers) made more than a decade ago, some of which you can find in the IPCC report. You can compare that to the actual outcome and see if it falls within the set bounds of uncertainty. I bet pretty much every professional climate scientist has run this kind of analysis once.


I think you can start with all those people who cried "Global warming has stopped for X years!" in recent years.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/10/02/its-official-no-globa...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2217286/Globa...

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/mar/...

...and on and on...


>It would be good if there was some website that would aggregate and preserve these predictions along with the names of people who have made them, and then compared them against what actually happened years or decades down the road.

Not the best source, but from time to time this or that news site makes something like that, one I have bookmarked, JFYI:

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2010/12/30/botched-environmental...


You would have to discriminate between the science (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-07536-7), which says (emphasis added):

  "The *apparent* temperature peak during such humid-heat waves can be greater than 55 °C"
, and the journalism, which drops the "apparent", turning some technical unit that readers don't know into one that they do know, but also hugely changing the statement.

Apparent temperature (defined in http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0450%281979..., which isn't behind a paywall) can already be around 50 degrees Celsius if it is 32 degrees Celsius at 90% humidity (so, it is similar to wind chill factor (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_chill) or heat index (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_index), but not only compensates for physical effects, but also for physiological ones)


> "we're all gonna freeze to death" from the 70s

This is pop science in two ways:

* In that these were science articles knocked up to interest an audience in magazines like Newsweek with little to no scientific backing, and very few research publications. And only a handful of them at that.

* In that you have picked up this factoid, and passed it on, without checking its validity.


> people only remember the few predictions that have come true, and forget everything else, such as "Florida will be underwater" from the 00s or "we're all gonna freeze to death" from the 70s.

I deny your premise. These two predictions are two of the most remembered, precisely because they were mistaken and thus politically useful to the party in power in the US today.

> There is perverse incentive to come out with these outlandish claims...since the timeline is often decades in the future

Your aggregator proposal would do little to change the incentives. The reckoning would still be decades away, it would just be more convenient for the future fact-checkers.


There were literally hundreds of outlandish predictions and most people only remember a few, and the one from the 70s has no names tied to it. For all we know those same people might still be getting grants and making insane predictions, some of which could have multi trillion dollar policy consequences .

On the flip side the proposed aggregator would also help to identify the scientists who are mostly right about things, even if their predictions might stray from the prevalent political dogma of the time.

That said, you're right that accountability is a hard problem. Case in point is Al Gore, a dude who was about as right in his predictions as a random number generator, yet continues to be considered as some sort of preeminent authority on the topic of global warming.


Do you have some evidence that grants go to the scientists who make the most outlandish predictions?

That sounds like claiming physics is rotten because cold fusion turned out to be unverifiable. "Those frauds, just trying to get grants to build their phony particle accelerators that don't actually do anything. Who ever saw a boson?"


It's common sense, no? Who do you think will get more grants, the "we're definitely all gonna die of heat, drought, and hurricanes" group, or "there is 40% probability that the temperature might rise by 1C in a hundred years" group? For the record, the latter hypothesis is made up to illustrate the point, but the former is in wide circulation.


You seem to have this weird notion that NSF and friends weigh grant proposals based on clickbaity-ness of the titles.

Have you ever read a grant proposal?


And you seem to have this weird notion that whether or not a team has a high profile does not impact its chances of getting a grant. In the absence of a feedback loop this largely turns into a popularity contest, and dire predictions are helpful to that end.

All I'm proposing is to create a stronger feedback loop. I don't see why anyone, including the scientists, would be against that.


A scientist becomes "high profile" by writing many papers that are highly regarded by fellow scientists, not by being quoted by CNN.

If anything, unless you are already a highly respected scholar, being frequently quoted by mainstream media has traditionally had negative consequences for your career. Google "sagan effect".


What does wide circulation mean? Is there an IPCC report that makes the claim that "we're definitely all gonna die of heat, drought, and hurricanes"?


Is it really outlandish, for example, to have claimed the Arctic ice would disappear? It has been happening and the disappearance is almost complete. I have seen glaciers break and fall into the see in my front of my very eyes.

Also, need I remind you of the planet Venus. It once had liquid water. It later became a victim of runaway climate change.


Earth has had CO2 levels far higher than currently in the geologically recent past. We will run out of fossil fuels well before we destroy the planet.

The biggest effect of global warming so far is arguably positive. Plants are making good use of higher CO2 levels and it's estimated that farming yields have increased 30% in the last century from this faster plant growth.


The biggest effects are that it's getting goddamned hot in places that used to be temperate and that the ice caps are melting. Neither of these are positive and your 30% higher plant growth claim is undoubtedly BS. Most improvements to agriculture have come from fertilizers, the production of which contribute to global warming.


The increase amount is debated but higher CO2 levels have caused significant gains in farming efficiency.

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/study-finds-plant-growth-...


I have no disagreement with the claim that higher levels of CO2 increases plant growth. That is a fact. I seriously doubt the 30% claim without compelling evidence, though. Especially for agriculture, where water limits are rarely the concern and we dump fertilizer like it's free.


Actually our use of fertilizer and irrigation makes CO2 level a significant limiter on plant growth rates. CO2 fixation is so expensive that plants adapted to arid environments have developed a better way of doing it, C4 carbon fixation.

I found the study: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/05/study-suggests-increa...


That's an interesting study but I fail to see that it supports your claim. There's no mention of C4 fixation in the article, nor any claim that CO2 fixation is a significant limiter for agriculture.

The article claims 30% increase in general (not just agricultural), but also does not attribute all that simply to more available CO2.

Your own claim is self-contradicting as you use arid environments as the basis for your claim. Agricultural environments where plants are irrigated are not arid, by definition.


And Earth once was frozen all over, and there were times when concentration of greenhouse gases was much higher than it is today, with no "runaway" effects.


Nobody's saying the runaway effects are going to boil the oceans, for fuck's sake.

Do you seriously not realize that the people who've been doing climate research for decades are aware that there were previous eras with more CO2 in them?

If you weren't just out to validate your own political goals, you might stop for a moment and reflect on how poorly-suited current life on the planet is for those previous eras with drastically more carbon in the air.


In other words, you don't deny that outlandish events do happen. Clearly we don't want them to happen. Or did you mean to throw your hands up in the air and call yourself a victim of circumstance? Not me.


I think it's time to shift to damage control mode with global warming. If we were gonna stop polluting and filling the atmosphere with CO2 it would have happened 20 years ago.

The economic incentives are too strong to follow the rules. It's like OPEC, whenever there's a "production cut" everybody just lowers their numbers and shifts product to the black market.

It's easy enough to throw some dust into the upper atmosphere to cool the planet a bit. Volcanoes do it all the time so we know it's safe and it works. I don't know why were still talking about the nearly impossible idea of getting everyone to abandon fuel when we could spend a miniscule fraction of the time and human effort to just launch some crap into the atmosphere.

Frankly, I don't think warming the planet a bit is a bad idea at all. The Earth is in an interglacial and without human interference most of our major cities are due to be covered in half a mile of ice in the next 2-100 thousand years. This sounds like a long time but besides nuclear war it's probably the biggest "near term" threat to our species.

Global warming is being conflated with people who don't want the environment being messed with. That's why all the proposed solution involve not using fossil fuels when its pretty easy to cool the Earth with other means if we really wanted to.


Damage control mode has already been happening for a while in vulnerable areas. [1] I suspect people will need solutions to extreme heat that are less dependent on the electrical grid (which will likely fail) in order to survive these "super-heatwaves"

[1] http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170403-miamis-fight-agains...


It will and they will.


In another universe, I propose an AI virus that selectively destroys computers of those who are the biggest polluters. As an example, those who fly a lot definitely qualify as being big polluters. The AI virus will monitor your files and network activity, and will cast destruction upon you if it classifies you as a big contributor to global warming. Phase 2 of this AI will be adaptive in that it will use reinforcement learning to target just enough people to bring the climate to stability. If this is insufficient, phase 3 will use preemptive destruction based on forecasts of your pollution many years ahead even if you are not a big polluter to begin with.

Also in that universe, there will also be a parallel project that will be executed on cloud instances. Rowhammer and other attacks, e.g. those based on undocumented CPU instructions, will be used.

One way or another, the AI virus will defend the planet. Of course there will be some collateral damage based on misclassifications, but that's the cost of humans not taking responsibility for the planet. However bad this virus may be, it will be heaven when compared to heatwaves of 55C.

Legal Disclaimer: These ideas are fictional and are not for this universe. I don't want idiot lawyers chasing me down for having an idea.




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