back to article US ecosystems basically unaffected by global warming, studies show

Scientists monitoring water flow in streams at test sites across the USA have found, unexpectedly, that the global warming seen in the late 20th century had basically no effect on most of the ecosystems they studied. The world in general is thought to have warmed up by approximately half a degree C from 1980 to the year 2000, …

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  1. Pete 2

    So it's business as usual

    Give or take the odd hurricane, record-breaking heatwave and droughts. ... the climate's just as it's always been.

    1. Captain Save-a-ho

      Re: So it's business as usual

      Precisely. Climate is never constant and has a lot of inputs to account for. Given our completely imperfect understanding of that, it's remarkable that we can even tell what we know about climate.

      No matter which side of the AGW debate you wish to support, both sides would be very smart to acknowledge how little is really known. Science has a keen way of demonstrating how little is known (thank a deity, if you must), but methinks this subject will require a lot more research than we even have going now. It would help too if this subject were not so highly policitized, i.e. about money.

    2. Bill Neal
      Go

      Re: So it's business as usual

      Don't plants thrive in CO2 as we do with O2? They should as long as they get enough water, of which there should be plenty with the polar ice melting. Right? How can you have drought & floods at the same time. Am I missing something?

    3. Frederic Bloggs

      Re: So it's business as usual

      That'll be the drought we had here in the south of England yesterday then... We had an inch of rain with (apparently) more to come this week. Weather is chaotic, trends will change over time and venting 100's of tonnes of methane per day from a (no longer) capped well won't help either. Get over it.

      But, on a serious note, if temperatures increase, then the atmosphere will hold more moisture. Moisture and what happens to as it is blown about, drives weather. More moisture = more weather and, BTW, more chaotic behaviour. Having said that, what is sucked up, must come down again somewhere, so overall there will be more precipitation. One wonders whether anyone is watching historical rainfall data?

      1. Some Beggar
        WTF?

        Re: So it's business as usual

        "One wonders whether anyone is watching historical rainfall data?"

        Nope. You're an inspired genius and not a single scientist has had this groundbreaking thought. Derp derpity derp.

  2. DavCrav Silver badge

    Complicated system is complicated

    It's a horrifically complex system, that we are barely scratching the surface of in our understanding. Not really a surprise that things rarely turn out the "right" way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Complicated system is complicated

      Yes it is horrifically complex and we should not profess that we can understand all of it's complexities (I'm looking at both camps here) and can reduce it to one simplistic statement, or claim that the science is completely understood.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Complicated system is complicated

        A horrifically complicated system. So it'll be safe to throw a spanner in it then

        1. admiraljkb
          Joke

          Re: Complicated system is complicated

          @NomNomNom

          "A horrifically complicated system. So it'll be safe to throw a spanner in it then"

          I'll see your spanner, and raise you TWO butterflies flapping their wings in Brazil... :)

  3. Miek

    Put head in sand and rev the engine!

  4. Andy 36
    Devil

    Didn't you know...

    It's the Hand of God that causes such devastating hurricanes, drought, heat-waves and or any other ecological disasters. And they shall repent for their lack of faith (which God finds disturbing)

    So go ahead all Ye Americans, burn your oil, burn your trees, burn your books for thou shalt never suffer from this heretic sudo-science suggesting global warming, yet heed my wrath should you fail to bring order and factual creationism to the world

    Meanwhile in the real world....

    1. Dr Paul Taylor
      Joke

      sudo science?

      Well, I suppose God has root access to the system.

      1. crowley

        Re: sudo science?

        Nah, the init task died, and the daemons have run amok...

    2. JP19

      Hand of God

      Things were so much simpler when all we had to do pray a bit faster to make everything better.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Interesting. It seems the eco systems have feedback but it's not the kind *expected*

    If I'm reading this correctly most of the habitats studied the trees throttle their water usage depending on available *supply*.

    Which is pretty clever (of them) and cuts down some of the more extreme predictions.

    This *might* have been expected as trees are *living* creatures who influence their environment as it influences them (albeit at a relatively slow rate).

    Note that *less* effect on the habitats does not mean *no* effect and 6 of 17 is still over 1/3 of all environments sampled.

    My usual thumbs up for improving the knowledge and the hope this will configured into climate models ASAP.

    1. James Smith 3

      Re: Interesting.

      Please could you elaborate on where you got "6 of 17" from? I can't seem to find it in either the article or the paper itself.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Interesting.

        You have picked up my error from the abstract to the paper. The *whole* paper is available without payment.

        It states air temperature has increased at 17 of the 19 sites with 20-60 year records but streamflow trends only changed at 7.

        So it *should* have been 7 of the 17 sites. IE 41% of the sties changed.

        Which is rather more than none.

        My apologies for mis-reporting.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: hope this will configured into climate models ASAP

      One would hope, but it would be a false hope. If you followed the fallout from the mail fiasco, one of the things revealed is that you either have models which use equations that describe the physical processes but don't work, or models that seem to work but whose mathematics don't correspond to known physical processes. The latter is okay if and only if you have a well understood system

      1. poeg

        Re: hope this will configured into climate models ASAP

        In some cases we too have models in play whose required results drove their structure. Mann's fortran fiasco spits out hockey sticks with random number sets specifically because it was written in this fashion.

    3. poeg

      Re: Interesting. It seems the eco systems have feedback but it's not the kind *expected*

      Habitats have always changed. If you have evidence of that NOT being the case, you'll nail yourself a Nobel as the first to have ever done such. Even cave systems are subject to fluctuating outside influences from moisture to organisms new to the neighbourhood.

  6. Fred Goldstein
    Facepalm

    Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

    Denialists start with the false premise that everything works in a straightforward, linear fashion, so that anything that deviates from the general direction of the predicted trend, even if the existence of such variation is itself predictable, is taken as "proof" that the science is wrong. Drill, baby, drill; I'll be dead before the planet is uninhabitable, and I don't give a goat's bzadeh about your grandkids.

    Global weirding (long term climate) leads to wider variations in (short term) weather. Here in New England, we had a record-breaking snowfall last year, followed by unprecedented floods and even tornadoes (not normal here). Then we had a warm, dry winter and this spring is turning into a big brush fire season. Unlike out west, we have year-round rainfall so underbrush normally decomposes rather than burns, but it burns in drought.

    We are treated like cattle at the airport based on the one-in-100-million chance that our shoes or underpants are bombs. Yet a mere 95-out-of-100 chance that global warming is real is not enough to convince the same nitwits who support the fascist surveillance society that doesn't even let us take our deodorant on the plane. Utter hypocrisy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

      "Denialists start with the false premise that everything works in a straightforward, linear fashion,"

      Alarmists start with the false premise that everything works in a straightforward, linear fashion.

      That works just as well.

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

        BOTH SIDES work in this way. The argument is so political now that people doing REAL science are few and far between.

        I am on neither side of the argument. I have seen evidence produced by both sides, but I am unable to trust the majority due to the political interference I see. What we need is for politicians, corporations and biased organisations to but out. We need real, unbiased research, utilising all available data (no cherry-picking, a technique used by BOTH sides) and analysing it in an open, honest way (open to scrutiny by all). That is science, and that is NOT what we have seen so far.

        Well, I can dream. I think I will see a herd of swine migrating south first...

        1. Some Beggar
          FAIL

          Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

          "BOTH SIDES work in this way."

          Argument by false equivalence. Within the scientific community there is effectively only one "side". The "controversy" is largely fabricated. The "REAL scientists" (or "scientists" as we call them in English) are almost all in agreement on the basic conclusion that mankind is having a noticeable and potentially dangerous (to mankind) effect on the global climate.

          Politicians cannot "but out"(sic) of this since it is an issue with very profound consequences for economics and policy making. I vote for politicians in the hope that they'll make informed decisions and take sensible actions. If they "butt out" of important issues then there's no point them being elected.

          (p.s. RANDOM upper case doesn't magically MAKE something TRUE FACTS by the way ... even on the INTERNET)

          1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

            Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

            a) It is not random upper case, it was upper case used to emphasise certain words.

            b) Politicians butting out was in reference to them commissioning research in such a way that one result is preferred, and will likely result in more research (and therefore money) for those involved if their preferred result is validated.

            I agree, in science there is only one side: all scientists work towards finding the truth. However, in an issue such as this, there are 2 sides, as well as a large swathe in between the extreme views. Some supposed scientists and organisations do take a side and this distorts their results. I have seen evidence of both "sides" cherry-picking data to support their preferred results. If this is happenning, how can they be trusted? This applies equally to those denying or confirming man-made climate change.

            I am not denying that man-made climate change is going on. I think it is obvious that man affects this planet in an enormous way, but this is not proof. What I would like is to be able to trust the people and organisations doing the research. What I would like is to be sure that those doing the research are scientists.

            1. poeg

              Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

              Its always been a simple case of replicable results. Not within bad models whose base code isn't available for replications and verification. Want to use a model? Provide the models base and notes the author wrote. I have reams of mine and anyone else happily scribbling procedures or mapping out their injection vectors has theirs too.

              If you don't read Roger Pielke Sr, you should. Between his site and masterresource.org, you'll see where the science and the business of the entire thing came from and where its going.

            2. Some Beggar
              Thumb Down

              Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

              @Dr. Mouse

              From this review in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US)

              http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.abstract

              "Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers. "

              As I said, there is effectively no controversy.

              1. James Smith 3
                FAIL

                Re: PNAS Review

                That paper just measures "expertise" by counting how often a researcher got published.

                Anyone see a problem with that?

                1. Some Beggar
                  Headmaster

                  Re: PNAS Review

                  Number of publications and citations in peer-reviewed journals is a pretty standard measure of expertise in science. Can you suggest a better metric?

                  Or are you alluding to the dreary conspiracy theory that all climate scientists are in thrall to the great pinko worldgov?

                  1. James Smith 3
                    Facepalm

                    Re: PNAS Review

                    I was just pointing out that your call to authority is based on publication counts and is therefore potentially affected by all sorts of bias. (Funding, peer review, confirmation, editoral... the list is endless) Sure, expertise can be measured by publication count, but only if you assume that there's no bias. There's so much politics involved around climate change, I'm not sure that's true in this case.

                    In fact, Dr Mouse's post was about sources of bias and your post about the PNAS review does nothing to answer those points. It may even be evidence of the bias he's talking about.

                    Was the review peer reviewed itself or is it just "grey" literature?

                    1. Some Beggar
                      Thumb Down

                      Re: PNAS Review

                      @James Smith 3

                      Since you chose not to answer my straightforward question I can only assume that you cannot suggest a better metric for objectively measuring "expertise" and have no evidence that the 97-98% figure in that paper is inaccurate.

                      There is no controversy within the expert community. There is an overwhelming consensus. You choose not to accept that consensus because ... something vague and waffly about politics and bias for which you can give no material examples or specific explanation.

                      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

                        Re: PNAS Review

                        "You choose not to accept that consensus because ... something vague and waffly about politics and bias for which you can give no material examples or specific explanation."

                        From http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/29/yamal_scandal/:

                        "From this we know that the Yamal data set uses just 12 trees from a larger set to produce its dramatic recent trend... In all there are 252 cores in the CRU Yamal data set, of which ten were alive 1990. All 12 cores selected show strong growth since the mid-19th century. The implication is clear: the dozen were cherry-picked."

                        OK, the Register is not a peer reviewed journal, but this is the sort of thing which puts doubts in people's heads (especially as this research was published in a peer reviewed journal, and many other researchers used it's results as a basis, which also made it through peer review). I have read about similar cherry picking in other research from both "sides" of the debate, and there have been other scandals too.

                        So, as an open-minded person, I have doubts as to the integrity of climate "scientists".

                        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

                        2. Some Beggar
                          Meh

                          Re: PNAS Review

                          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Yamal_controversy

                      2. James Smith 3
                        Facepalm

                        Re: PNAS Review

                        I'm not denying the consensus. Just your evidence for it.

                        So I can't suggest a better metric. Doesn't mean the one used in the paper is any good. It doesn't mean their conclusions are sound either.

                        Imagine two researchers tossing coins. Each time they perform the experiment they write a paper. One researcher always gets "heads", the other always "tails". If there was an editoral bias towards publishing "heads" papers (it sells more journals for instance) then the first researcher would appear to have greater expertise due to having more papers published. Do you see how the bias has obviously affected the link between getting published and expertise?

                        For the conclusion of the paper to be valid it must prove that the result is not affected by any potential bias. It's an obvious source of error that must be accounted for.

                        Do you think we can solve the problem of wave-particle duality by looking at how many papers were written about each? Quantity does not equal quality.

                        1. Some Beggar
                          FAIL

                          Re: PNAS Review

                          Pure whatiffery.

                          I am an academic. I am perfectly aware of how editorial bias might occur (not in the way you seem to think, by the way) and I am perfectly aware of how opinions can become ingrained within a discipline and risk bias in the judgement of peer reviewers. I am asking you to give some specific examples of this supposed failure within this specific discipline. I did not ask you to wave your hands about some more and claim that it might just have possibly happened maybe perhaps if you squint a bit and tap your ruby slippers together.

                          The scientific method has flaws because it is applied by fallible human beings. It is still by far the best method mankind has yet discovered to investigate the nature of the universe. The scientific method currently very strongly supports AGW. You refuse to accept that. That is simply not a rational or humble response, no matter how many feeble doubt-bombs you scatter around.

                          1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

                            Re: PNAS Review

                            "I am an academic"

                            I would never have guessed. Really.

                            1. Some Beggar

                              Re: PNAS Review

                              Any chance you could post an adult response rather than a childish snipe, Orlowski?

      2. Some Beggar
        FAIL

        Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

        Creationists start with the false premise that ...

        Biologists start with the false premise that ...

        They both work just as well.

        Or they do if your idea of a coherent argument is a variation on the school yard "I know you are but what am I?"

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

      Surprisingly I found something I agree with in your post (the bit about not giving a rats ass about your grandkids). Not a denialist BTW, I just require more in the way of evidence than panicky conjecture based on a prolonged stare out the window..

      Anon because I don't want to be hassled by a religious nutter thanks, and if you are not one of those you've only yourself to blame for being taken as one for using "weirding" on a site like this.

      1. Fred Goldstein
        WTF?

        What does weirding have to do with religion?

        I may be missing some Britishism over hear in the colonies. While "global warming" is the most widely used phrase, it is often "refuted" by those who note incidences of extreme cold and snow. What extra heat in the atmosphere tends to do is add to the strength of storms, but it also moves some atmospheric flows, making the weather weirder -- more variation from average -- than usual. Hence global weirding.

        Or do Brits see that as some kind of Shakespearian-era reference to the occult or something?

    3. Lazy Gun
      FAIL

      Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

      "Denialists". Another drone from the hive mind collective helpfully marks their post with "DO NOT BOTHER READING".

    4. poeg

      Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

      There isn't any such 95% in existence. If you have such provide it please. Many would dearly love to see it and those who lost hundreds of millions in the Chicago Carbon Exchange would no doubt pay as much to have their golden goose proven as fact. Now how could you or anyone else for that matter turn down $100,000,000 pay day AND recognition for saving the world in the process? Hmmmm?

  7. Robin 1

    Call me crazy but...

    They still can't get a local 14 day weather report right and I'm supposed to get my panties in a knot about what these very same people think about weather that may or may not happen for decades and occur over the entire planet?

    I don't think so.

    1. Steve Knox
      Boffin

      Re: Call me crazy but...

      Tell me what make/model the next 14 vehicles you will see on the road will be.

      Then do a little research and tell me what the most popular vehicles in your area are.

      Can you see where the first is actually more difficult than the second?

      It's the same way with weather and climate.

      It's generally the same with any specific prediction compared to a general statistical model.

      Oh, and "you're crazy". Happy?

    2. Bango Skank
      FAIL

      Re: Call me crazy but...

      Ok, you are Crazy.

      Just to check your level of understanding though, when the Met Office says something like "50% chance of rain" and it doesn't rain, does that mean

      (a) they were wrong about the probability, or

      (b) you don't understand what probability means

      1. poeg

        Re: Call me crazy but...

        Ah but when they project drought for the spring and you're contemplating using a raft to get about your yard, they certainly CAN be called to task for it. You don't have to lift your head from the pillow to toss up a "Rain today? It will or it won't!" with the same metric for accuracy as you have provided.

        1. Some Beggar
          Headmaster

          Re: Call me crazy but...

          @poeg

          Drought means that the reserves of water plus the expected rate of water collection are lower than the usual rate of water consumption. It can be pissing down with rain but if the reservoirs are empty it's still a drought. You can call people to task for this simple state of affairs if you like but you'll look a bit daft.

    3. Euripides Pants
      Coat

      Re: Call me crazy but...

      OK, you're Crazy Butt.

      Mine's the one with the assless chaps...

  8. John A Blackley

    Options

    Options in face of (unverifiable) predictions of climate catastrophe:

    1. Use existing technology to cope - strengthen buildings, relocate communities away from coastline, etc.

    2. Allow politicians to increase taxes on everything+dog, allow politicians to spend swathes of public money on windmills manufactured by wife's best friend.

    Only an idiot would go for option 2. Oh......... wait..............

    1. Some Beggar
      Thumb Down

      Re: Options

      Yes. Addressing the symptoms is always more cost efficient than trying to understand the cause.

      1. John A Blackley

        Re: Options

        So taxing flights, reaming my wallet to build windmills and crippling industry with 'carbon offsets' is "understanding the cause" is it?

        1. Some Beggar
          Thumb Down

          Re: Options

          @John A Blackley

          Taxing things that cause problems (including local and global environmental damage) rather than things that encourage growth (such as income and profits) has been standard fiscal policy for most of the developed world for about twenty years.

          Can you explain why you think this approach should change? And can you give some examples of industry being "crippled" by carbon offsets? The only recent examples of recession in the West were both due to issues within the banking industry (predominately in the US).

          You appear to be uncomfortable with your current financial situation. Might I suggest you get off your backside and do something about it rather than whisking yourself into a froth blaming other people?

  9. Some Beggar

    What exactly is the point of this rose-tinted disingenuity?

    Why don't you just post an advert for cheap diazepam? It would have about as much journalistic integrity and would be far more beneficial for the uptight halfwits you are trolling.

    And what exactly is the point of having a messageboard if your bloggers are so witlessly scared of dissent and criticism?

  10. IR

    I'm not so sure that you can judge a whole ecosystem just by measuring water run off.

  11. johnwerneken
    Happy

    Twenty years is too short to say much about climate. In someplace balanced on a knife-edge as to water (say parts of Middle East), maybe, but not in North America. Too bad I'll hear about this for weeks "global hoax", just as I would have had the same study showed a statistically significant drying "global crises".

    There are so many reasons having nothing to do with climate to expect as well as to want patterns thought to be man's contribution to climate variability to themselves change. Poisoning people with exhaust gasses is an obvious example, worth avoiding if you are a people. There are so many reasons to avoid creating a nearly global nearly total dictatorship to manage human caused weather affects that doubts about climate variability need not even be considered.

    The real argument is about what is best, what individuals can do or what communities can do; what makes people feel safer and free-er (hard to do at once darn it) and about who is doing what, allegedly for principle or for the public but really for motives both selfish and short-sighted. And to some extent it’s about who is in charge, and whose ideological psychic security blanket is catered to. In other words, it’s a normal political controversy.

    What is new is that climate is obviously an area for which, should it seem necessary to make political decisions, it will be hard to do it, for the issue is closer to global than most; we have no generally agreed means of making such decisions, and it could be a bad idea if we did (what would compete with or limit such a decision-making process? People from Mars or Sirius?) And so everyone turns to “facts” to try to get something agreed without facing any of the real issues at all. Not going to work.

    But more power to the fact-researchers, the more people know about an issue, the greater the odds of rational and peaceable action.

  12. Spud2go
    Pint

    So, Nature can take care of Itself

    Wow - who'd of thunk!?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too much static thinking

    There's too much static thinking about "Nature"; for a start there's no such thing as "Nature", just a vast collection of independent living things that continuously evolve to adapt to to changes in their environment, and in their turn change the environment.

    For nearly four billion years life on this planet has adapted to available resources, most species have become extinct and been replaced by species that were better suited to the environment at that time. Life on the planet has actually changed the planet, mainly the atmosphere; early life created the oxygen atmosphere we take for granted today.

    There's no coordinating process, just millions of different species filling the available niches at any one time.

    Assuming the Earth is a single static system that can be "understood", and that we can somehow control the system to arrive at some optimum result for humans is a bit ambitious for a species that can't even work out in advance which five numbers will be picked out of a pool of forty nine!

    1. Some Beggar

      Re: Too much static thinking

      Nobody makes that assumption.

    2. Steve Knox
      Facepalm

      Re: Too much static thinking

      "Assuming the Earth is a single static system that can be "understood", and that we can somehow control the system to arrive at some optimum result for humans is a bit ambitious for a species that can't even work out in advance which five numbers will be picked out of a pool of forty nine!"

      You're crazy too. Please refer to my earlier post on this subject.

  14. b166er

    RE: business as usual

    Now if we can just stop spilling oil all over the place...

    Don't think anyone ever disputed nature can take care of itself. Even if that involves extinction of it's main threat.

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