I think these two reports considered together are very compelling for the political debate around climate change ~
"One degree Fahrenheit might not sound like a lot, but picture the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a cup of water that amount. Multiply that for a swimming pool. Do so again for a planet, say Earth.
For biology and environmental studies professor Dan Perlman of Brandeis University in Waltham, that's the import of a new report citing the past decade as the globe's warmest on record, by nearly one degree.
"That, along with all the other evidence, continues to support the idea that we're in store for something really big here," Perlman said this past week, citing his belief that man-made emissions are artificially warming the Earth. "It's like it's another few bricks in our certainty."
The report, issued Tuesday by the National Climatic Data Center, found that the decade 2000 to 2009 had the highest average temperature dating back to the start of record-keeping in 1880. The decade was 0.96 degree warmer than the 129-year average, breaking the record of 0.56 degree warmer set by the '90s and continuing a trend from the '60s.
Also, while 0.96 degree represents a significant amount of energy, Perlman said, that number is an average for the globe, with some places staying flat or cooling and others, like the polar north, spiking.
"There are some places that are really getting hammered," he said.
Scientists like Perlman and many others attribute most of the warming since the mid-20th century to human activities such as the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere through fossil fuel burning. They say the evidence and causal relationships are well-established.
"How certain do you want to be?" asked Larry McKenna, a professor in Framingham State College's department of physics and earth sciences. "We're getting up to the 99 percent level."
But scientists from other well-regarded institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, question the amount of warming that can be tied to human sources and how much impact might be in the pipeline. They also point to natural climate cycles like El Nino occurring over decades, centuries and millenia.
While McKenna acknowledged the impact of natural oscillations, he said climate history-preserving ice samples from the planet's polar regions show no evidence of a similar past warming cycle, making for an unprecedented trend."
Evidence for climate change caused by man mounts - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News
" According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, while our automotive and industrial activities cause some 24 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year worldwide. Despite the arguments to the contrary, the facts speak for themselves: Greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes comprise less than one percent of those generated by today’s human endeavors.
Human Emissions Also Dwarf Volcanoes in Carbon Dioxide Production
Another indication that human emissions dwarf those of volcanoes is the fact that atmospheric CO2 levels, as measured by sampling stations around the world set up by the federally funded Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, have gone up consistently year after year regardless of whether or not there have been major volcanic eruptions in specific years. “If it were true that individual volcanic eruptions dominated human emissions and were causing the rise in carbon dioxide concentrations, then these carbon dioxide records would be full of spikes—one for each eruption,” says Coby Beck, a journalist writing for online environmental news portal Grist.org. “Instead, such records show a smooth and regular trend.”
Volcanoes and Greenhouse Gases - Do Volcanoes Generate More Greenhouse Gas Than Humans?