Average Temperatures and Adaptation

I was looking at the weather forecast for today and I noticed the historical high and low section (1947 to 2015).

For November 26 the average temperature is 7.7C.

If global warming occurs, how will we adapt to 8.7C or 9.7C on this day in the future?

Isn’t that a stupid question? Or just plain silly. There isn’t really an “average temperature” to adapt to. We’ve already “adapted” to a 26C swing in temperatures.

That’s right. The historical low is -10.5C in 1985 and the historical high is 16.1C in 1949.

I’d love a 16C day today! Isn’t going to happen today. It could. And it did. Back in 1949.



34 thoughts on “Average Temperatures and Adaptation

  1. You seem to be confusing local weather with global climate.

    Global average temperature is a measure of the total heat content of the ecosystem–not just the difference between summer and winter, but also all summers compared to each other, and all winters, all over the planet, for a span of many years,

    An overall global decrease of 2 or 3 degrees C doesn’t just mean the days are a bit cooler where you are. It means about half of the land mass in the northern hemisphere is covered with three kilometers of ice.

    A global increase of that amount doesn’t just mean your days are a bit warmer. It means coastal areas currently occupied by about a billion people are under the ocean, and moch of the world has no fresh water.

    It means growing seasons have changed, habitable zones for nearly all plant and animal life have changed, oceans are more acidic leading to mass die-offs of marine life, ocean currents and prevailing winds have changed, and large areas of the Earth are virtually uninhabitable.

    I know people who object to climate science don’t believe any of that. Your grandchildren will, however.

    1. But if we are all still here today then we’ve adapted to whatever has already changed in the climate. And we didn’t even know it.

      1. Yes, “we” humans have adapted to life after the retreat of the glaciers in the last glacial maximum. My point is that the changes we will witness from an additional 2 or 3 C increase will be comparable in scale to what we have witnessed compared to climate around 20,000 years ago.

      2. “My point is that the changes we will witness from an additional 2 or 3 C increase … ”

        1.4C from today if CO2 doubles (There are real doubts if there is enough hydrocarbons to do it).

        According to HADCRUT4 (if they can be believed) we are already 1.2C up from 1900. All beneficial.

        The warming that ended the LIA is a good thing. A small amount of warming in the future will be of great benefit and won’t make much difference in sea level. Greenland and Antarctica may even get more snow and grow.

      3. “According to HADCRUT4 (if they can be believed) we are already 1.2C up from 1900. All beneficial.”

        Increased flooding of coastal areas, increased droughts in the Middle East and California, vanishing sea ice, vanishing glaciers, changing growing seasons, tropical pests and diseases moving out of the tropics, increased ocean acidity already leading to mass die-offs of marine life (seen by many oceanologists as the sixth global extinction)–these are all happening, and they are not “all beneficial”.

    2. And what precisely does that foolish rant have to do with the price of fish?

      No-one has any objection whatsoever to climate science, most of us being closely associated with science, very much the opposite, in fact.

      We have a considerable objection to fraud by so-called climate “scientists” bringing the whole of the profession of science into disrepute, however.

      So go and patronise someone else, you ignorant, arrogant, rude little man.

      1. “And what precisely does that foolish rant have to do with the price of fish?”

        It has to do with the post to which I was responding.

        Consider the following question: “If global warming occurs, how will we adapt to 8.7C or 9.7C on this day in the future?” Tell me, what does that have to do with the price of fish?

        My point is that a sustained global average increase of 2 C will have effects greater than simply raising the temperature in one spot of the world on Nov 26.

        Do you disagree?

        The implication was that global warming that amounts to “only” 2C will be unimportant. My point is that this implication is false. Again, do you disagree?

      2. No.

        Actually, I consider you don’t have the first idea what you’re wittering about.

        Try getting your climate science from current peer reviewed literature, not crackpot alarmist blogs.

        You will find it less embarrassing.

  2. “Global average temperature is a measure of the total heat content of the ecosystem”

    Not really. Its kind of an arbitrary number.

    The transient climate response to more CO2 is around 1.4C for a doubling of CO2. And it is probably lower.

    WIllis has done the math …

    “According to the IPCC, there are not enough fossil fuel reserves (oil, gas, and coal) on the planet to double the atmospheric CO2 concentration from its current value.”


    1C over the next 100 years won’t be a tragedy, and all that CO2 makes feeding people a lot easier.

    1. “The transient climate response to more CO2 is around 1.4C for a doubling of CO2.”

      A doubling of CO2 is estimated with a 90% probability to result in a global increase of between 1.5C and 3C. Most recent research puts it at the high end of that. We have already increased CO2 by around 40%, and will go past a doubling rather quickly if no changes are made.

      1. “1.38°C over the full 1850–2015 HadCRUT4 period;
        1.41°C over 1945–2015 (a period with zero trend in volcanic forcing that approximately spans the 65-70 year apparent periodicity of the AMO); and
        1.27°C over 1850–1965, a period with a modest trend in volcanic activity
        (1.32°C when scaling volcanic forcing by an efficacy factor of 0.55, found in LC14 to be appropriate). ”


        “We have already increased CO2 by around 40%”

        Which means more than half the warming has already occurred …

        Yet there is no evidence of current July temps in the USA being warmer than the 1930s.

      2. +++
        “We have already increased CO2 by around 40%”
        Which means more than half the warming has already occurred …

        1) A 40% increase is not “over half” of a doubling.

        2) No, the ecosystem takes decades to completely react. Even if we completely stopped CO2 emissions today, it would take centuries for the excess CO2 we have produced to be removed from the atmosphere through natural processes. During that time, the heat-rapping effects of that added CO2 will continue to occur, and global temperatures will continue to rise.

        We’re already about a full degree C above pre-industrial temperatures, after having increased CO2 from about 280 parts per million to about 400 parts per million, and most of that increase has happened just since 1970.

      3. 2) No, the ecosystem takes decades to completely react.

        Perfidious ignorance. CO2 reacts on a physics level, not ecosystem level. Or do you believe that a molecule of CO2 emitted today needs decades or hundreds of years to have a “full” effect on re-emitting LWIR?

        Conflation of ecological effects with that of the half-life of CO2 in the environment is evidence that you do not understand the fundamental processes of atmospheric physics.

      4. “CO2 reacts on a physics level, not ecosystem level.”

        As I said, CO2 remains in the ecosystem for centuries before the various carbon-capture processes reduce the concentration. During that time, it will continue to impeded the release of heat energy into space, thereby increasing the heat content of the ecosystem. In other words, the effects of adding CO2 will continue for a long time, and the immediate response (say, in terms of only a few years) is not the sum of what we will see happen.

        In short, the argument that “we’ve already added CO2, so its effects should already be complete” is false and ignorant.

    1. There are a number of problems with this argument.

      1) The USA accounts for about 3% of the Earth’s surface. Not all areas of the Earth will respond equally or identically. Please compare this with a global graph for the same time period. (We are, after all, talking about =global- warming.)

      2) “Maximum July temperatures” is not a good measure. Nighttime temperatures and winter lows are a much better measure, for they give a more accurate depiction of actual change in heat content.

      3) The 1930s were a particularly warm period, most especially in the United States (partly caused by the Dust Bowl, which was a human-created catastrophe) which is why the 1930s are chosen as a standard for this misleading meme. It’s better to use a pre-industrial temperature for a starting point. (the ‘2C” standard, after all, is a comparison to pre-industrial temps.) Look, for instance, at what your graph shows for c. 1890.

      4) There were a combination of factors in the 1940s (including solar cycles, volcanoes and human-produced cooling due to increased particulates) which caused the drop after the 1930s.

      As I said, I don’t expect to convince people who don’t “believe in” climate science. But your grandchildren will be forced to live with our decisions today, and Nature doesn’t care about our belief or disbelief.

      1. 1) The USA thermometers coverage was way better in the 1930s than anywhere else. If CO2 is a well mixed gas it would affect the USA the same as the rest of the world.

        2) Nighttime temp increases are mostly UHI.

        3) The dust bowl was created by heat and drought. Not humans.

        4) Really?

      2. “But your grandchildren will be forced to live with our decisions today”

        I actually have grandchildren (do you?), and I am absolutely certain that they will not suffer any inconvenience whatsoever from the effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

        In fact, going by historical events during earlier warm periods and the latest NASA findings on Global greening, I suspect that their lives may well be more comfortable.

        What I DO know is that a degree or two of increased temperature over the next few centuries will be a practically unmitigated benefit, whereas a degree or two of cooling will in all probability be catastrophic.

      3. “1) The USA thermometers coverage was way better in the 1930s than anywhere else.”

        Actually, no. There were no standards for data collection in the US in the 1930s. It was nearly all volunteer and many of the people doing it were not dependable. Time of day the temperatures were taken changed from place to place and day to day.

        “If CO2 is a well mixed gas it would affect the USA the same as the rest of the world.”

        No. The Sahara does not have the sane weather as does Seattle, because different places in the world react differently.

        “2) Nighttime temp increases are mostly UHI”

        A) No, that’s simply not true. B) UHI are taken into account in the historical numbers, so we are comparing apples to apples when we look at historical changes. C) The differences caused by UHI are extremely minor anyway.

        “3) The dust bowl was created by heat and drought. Not humans.”

        The Dust Bowl was created by overfarming and overgrazing and other bad land use customs. Once those customs were changed, the Dust Bowl ended.

        “4) Really?”

        Yes. Really.

      4. “I actually have grandchildren (do you?)”

        Yes. I do.

        “I am absolutely certain that they will not suffer any inconvenience whatsoever from the effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.”

        As I said, I hold no hope of changing your mind. But it’s your grandkids who will deal with our decisions today.

  3. Thanks for the conversation, and for (mostly) keeping it polite. I see no new points being made (that is, no points disputing climate science that haven’t been debunked long ago), which means disputing them yet again will serve little purpose.

    Both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice are currently at record lows. I expect those levels to recover somewhat, because a great part of the melt was due to the extremely warm year we just had. But the long-term trend is definitely down in the northern hemisphere, and the southern hemisphere isn’t likely to break new record highs with the frequency it used to.

    Let’s chat again in a few years and see where things are. What are your predictions for sea ice trends and for global temperature trends in, say, 2020? I’ll give my expectations:

    The 1980 were, as a decade, hotter globally than the 1970s. The 1990s were hotter than the 1980s. The 2000s were hotter than the 1990s. I expect the 2010s to be hotter than the 2000s.

    Arctic sea ice has decreased every decade since the 1970s. I expect that to continue as well.

    The Antarctic is more complex than the Arctic. The north is an ocean surrounded by land, whereas the south is a continent surrounded by ocean. In the south, winds can push sea ice away from the continent and expand its extent, whereas there is no room for expansion of sea ice in the north. Further, the more extensive ocean in the south serves as an enormous heat sink, which moderates some of the effects of warming. Therefore, I’m not making a prediction for southern sea ice, except for saying that it won’t expand much more.

    What expectations do others have?

    1. Reasonable surmises. You’re right about the ongoing collapse of many of the Antarctic ice shelves. That’s a Really Big Deal that isn’t getting enough attention.

      And thank you for your comments.

  4. This dcpetterson dude is clearly incapable of rational thought, of understanding basic scientific principles and the larger climate discussion in general. It was painful reading how absolutely sure he is in his beliefs, while at the same time wholly demonstrating a failure to scientific protocol and methods.

    1. “how absolutely sure he is in his beliefs”

      My “beliefs” are irrelevant. I accept the data and conclusions of climate science — which is supported by every established scientific research organization on Earth. Basic scientific principles unquestionably show that the Earth is rapidly warming, and this is happening because of human-produced CO2. I challenge you to present a single respected research organization that differs on that.

      This isn’t my “belief”. It is scientific fact.

      As I’ve stated multiple times, Nature doesn’t care about our “beliefs”. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere slows the release of heat energy into space, and therefore increases the temperature of the Earth’s climate system. That’s simple physics, which has been known for over a century. It’s not a matter of anyone’s “belief”.

      You don’t have to “believe” this any more than you have to “believe” in electricity in order to use a computer. Your grandchildren will, however, be aware of the inevitable results of NOT slowing our production of CO2 emissions.

  5. Oh look!

    Yet another scientifically illiterate low-information bedwetting troll has slithered out from under its bridge!

    1. “usually you’re ranting and raving conspiracy-type have trouble spelling words”


      But we can generally manage grammar, such as apostrophisation and knowing how to create plurals.

      Is English not your first language?

  6. Apparently no one else wants to go on the record for their expectations for global temperature and Arctic / Antarctic sea ice trends between now and 2020. I’m not surprised. The scientific evidence and basic physics of it argues against the position taken by this blog and many of its readers.

    All the peer-reviewed studies, rational analysis, and basic scientific principles say the global temperature trend will continue to rise, and sea ice (particularly in the Arctic) will continue to shrink.

    Also, ocean temperatures and sea levels will continue to rise, land-based glaciers will shrink, ocean acidity will increase, and many extreme weather events will either become more common or more extreme (or both).

    Does anyone disagree with the peer-reviewed literature and basic scientific principles that support the above statements? Can anyone name three established and respected scientific research organizations that disagree with the above statements? Does anyone have an alternate theory for the trends we have seen over the last century that is as widely accepted in climate science as the impact of human-produced CO2?

    1. Antarctic Sea Ice set a satellite era record in 2012, 2013 2014. It may do so again a year or two. It isn’t unusual for Antarctic sea ice to climb for 2 or 3 years, decline and then rebound.

      Sea level has been rising for 20,000 years. When the holocene is over, sea level will start to shrink. Most of the worlds population will probably die then.

      And someday a modern “exterme weather event” will match the 10 year drought in the 1930s.

  7. Oct. 30, 2015

    NASA Study: Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses

    A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.

    The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that Antarctica is overall losing land ice.


  8. April 26, 2016

    Carbon Dioxide Fertilization Greening Earth, Study Finds

    From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.

    An international team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries led the effort, which involved using satellite data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer instruments to help determine the leaf area index, or amount of leaf cover, over the planet’s vegetated regions. The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.


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