THE BAD NEWS: Atmospheric CO2 has increased from 395.11ppm in November 2013 to 397.13ppm in November 2014 http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data give the 1959 atmospheric CO2 concentration as 315.97ppm.

THE GOOD NEWS:  California’s Assembly Bill 32 (AB32) became law in 2006. It requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. That is a 15% reduction of what would be the “business as usual” case. The law establishes a science-based “cap” on the amount of GHG emissions permitted within the state in a given year. The cap declines each year, lessening emissions. Emitters in utilities, transportation, and industry purchase “allowances” (Permits) each year with the total of the allowances equaling the yearly cap. The sale of allowances began January 2013 and has experienced a successful first year. California has the 8th largest economy iin the world and it continues to rebound. The State’s landmark law is serving as a model for the rest of the world. China, Australia, Canadian provinces, and states in the U.S. are collaborating with California to aggressively address the need to lower GHG emissions. Read more about AB32: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/ab32/ab32.htm. Read more about how cap and trade works: http://www.edf.org/climate/how-cap-and-trade-works

New links to credible scientific sources have been added to highlight the science of climate change. Global changes are detailed in graphics taken from the 2014 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Author’s notes, January, 2015:

The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Department of Energy, Office of Science, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, reports: “the present-day levels of CO2 are unprecedented during the past 420 kyr. Pre-industrial Holocene levels (~280 ppmv) are found during all interglacials, with the highest values (~300 ppmv) found approximately 323 kyr BP.” (ppmv = parts per million by volume; kyr = thousand years; BP = before present). http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/vostok.html

Consequences of this runaway atmospheric CO2 increase are of growing severity and well understood. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states in its 2014 Summary for Policymakers: “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.” http://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_SPMcorr1.pdf

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration states: “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past half century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

Don't like thinking about Climate Change? Maybe you should reconsider:

Our atmosphere is a tiny shell around our planet. The primary atmosphere is only about as thick as from Bonner to Missoula.

  •   If you’ve ever returned to your parked car on a hot summer day and been almost unable to touch the steering wheel because of heat, then you’ve experienced how CO2 works. It allows heat in, but not out. That’s how a greenhouse works, too, hence the name “Greenhouse Effect.”
  •   Nearly all of Earth’s increased temperature is stored in its oceans. Moist air rising off warm ocean water drives our weather, and that’s why it’s changing.

based on a March 24, 2011 talk in Bonner by Dr. Steven W. Running, Director, Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, University of Montana

Missoula, as it would be with continuing climate change

If CO2 continues to increase in our atmosphere, within the next 50 years our Missoula climate would become more like Salt Lake City’s. Already, about 2 weeks have been added to our gardening season. Wouldn’t it be great to raise big tomatoes like they do in the Midwest?! We could grow apricots and peaches, “cool weather fruits.” Nice to be warmer, right? But, wait; let’s think about this.

Why should I believe this global climate change stuff!?

The role of CO2 in climate change is basic. There is absolutely nothing mysterious about how the gas acts. This has been known for 100 years. Knowledge about the basic properties of CO2 led Swedish scientist Svante August Arrhenius to predict in 1896 that a doubling of Earth’s atmospheric CO2 would result in a 5 to 6 degree increase in our planet’s temperature. The only thing wrong with his finding is he thought it would take thousands of years. He didn’t know that fossil fuel use would explode with the Industrial Revolution. Atmospheric CO2 has been steadily increasing; we know this with very high accuracy from longterm measurements all over the world. If you’ve ever returned to your parked car on a hot summer day and been almost unable to touch the steering wheel because of heat, then you’ve experienced how CO2 works. It allows heat in, but not out. That’s how a greenhouse works, too, hence the name “Greenhouse Effect.”

Two basic misconceptions about weather and the atmosphere

Anyone can see our local winter weather has been almost just like the legendary “old fashioned winter.” The trouble is, no one small place or one small time can give an accurate picture of overall global climate. To do that, we need to look all around our planet and at decades not just seasons. Our 2010 summer was a cool one. In Moscow, Russia, the same summer season was the hottest in 500 years. Since 1900, our subzero days in Missoula’s winters are remarkably fewer.

Another misconception is about the size of our atmosphere. How could anything we do affect anything so monstrously big? In fact, our atmosphere is a tiny shell around our planet. The primary atmosphere is only about as thick as from Bonner to Missoula. It is truly fragile, especially when considering the explosion of CO2 from exponentiall  increasing fossil fuel use.

Consequences of unchecked fossil fuel burning

Glacier Park’s glaciers are expected to be gone by 2020. Earlier snow melt in our mountains would mean lower August stream flows and higher water temperatures, harmful to fish. There would be less water for irrigating; more and earlier closures to fishing. Warm winters favor Mountain Pine Beetle survival; infestations would continue to decimate our forests. Our biggest quality of life change would come from the steadily increasing risk of catastrophic wildfire. During “normal” years, the forest dries out in the summer. Earlier snow melt would dry it sooner and the longer summer would increase the time of vulnerability to fire. Dr. Running identifies this as “Missoula’s earthquake and tsunami.” The likelihood of a repeated devastation like the 1910 Fire, increased by tinder dry forest, gale force wind, and longer fire season would become very high.

Global effects? Nearly all of Earth’s increased temperature is stored in its oceans. Moist air rising off warm ocean water drives our weather, and that’s why it’s changing. Weather shifts worldwide would change agricultural production dislocating populations and increasing regional conflicts over available resources. The Arctic summer ice pack is already 40% less. It would be all gone in 20-30 years. Most of the world’s largest cities are coastal and would be affected most by a sea level rise predicted to be 3 feet this century. CO2 absorbed in the ocean creates carbonic acid, destroying coral and harming the calcium carbonate shells of all shellfish populations.

climate-change-graphs

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