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The Science of Climate and Weather, with Kathy Sullivan

2017-06-16 | 🔗
Neil Tyson explores the challenge of predicting weather and understanding climate, with ex-NOAA admin. Kathy Sullivan, co-host Scott Adsit, climate scientist Radley Horton, meteorologist Nick Gregory, paleoclimatologist Linda Sohl, astrobiologist David Grinspoon, Bill Nye.NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Skip the commercials support star talk on patriarch to listen to every episode, commercial, free, welcome to start on your place in the universe where science and pop culture collide. Dartle begin right now, a holiday universe, real draft faith in your personal african coast, and tonight we're gonna be talking about the science of climate and whether we need to talk about tracking storms and measuring the atmosphere and how that will come in to predicting the safety and future of life on earth. So, let's
Do this, my colleagues with actors, guardians it's gonna rodeo here with the many hours together on very excited Give my ignorance, recruitment and you were the voice of Big Euro X love yet bay. Max and big here are certainly ok, so we also have rarely Orton Welcome from Columbia, university climate. We gotta be heavily drawing on your expertise because we're featuring my interview with Cathy saw of him, who is the top dog at the she'll oceanic and atmospheric administration, otherwise There's no. I know these people think about and worry about, climate and whether light is nobody's business, and I've got my interview with her, but before she became head of Noah She was a NASA astronaut and I have to ask her about that. She's in the first class of female astronauts, so, let's find out
little bit about their past NASA's got like thirty astronauts left over from the skylight APOLLO era reconcile about a hundred to make what they think the flight tickets will be with the shuttles shovel was coming of. It was coming on what this is all about. The shovel now so they put a big an out and a crew is six seven people, that's right, yeah, so there's no roads, Butler, yes and its now, the mid seventies posts, civil rights legislation, so this next generation astronaut class It turn this into something. Tat looks like America cried howdy make it credible to people's maybe dreamt of it. For and have never been allowable in your world. You ve! Never let these kind of people, women, women back home people a collar air explicit. Let's get my bare yet we ve got this right. So now you ass. The other onward you gotta learn. So your ask or your invitation when used it may well not town very credible to those folks
and an even once you're bored. So we ended up being a class of thirty five or six women through the first class. Six women three African becomes an asian American to ten people who ten people the likes of whom had appeared in the Austrian ever came close, never even not even a treasure, never even close the assets and pioneering stuff right. There happen as late as the eighties, but we're glad it happened at all, and she was the first American I'm into space walk? She also was on the deploying mission for the Hubble space telescope. So let me but I was astronauts. You know that if you put up my telescope web good with that raising that she was in such a diverse group in her first class that first class, yeah, it's interesting. They didn't start slowly in the first class. I think they knew they would be. Scrutinise carefully, but I would like to point out: does not one Romulus in no time like that? What we have also would just room remember! What's going on
is the APOLLO era. Not only as to the moon and got us to think about earth in an important way. Nineteen seventy we're still going to the moon, but the environmental, pretty an agency assigned into law. So too the National Ocean Oceanographic, research administration, which cares oceans and ere it it's fun cause the pronounced that is Noah. This is kind of you The various religious people are very happy about that, at least they get in there. Somebody gets a piece of that action and so Noah for the first time we have an organisation that combines the ocean in the word atmosphere in the same phrasing. Right, that's right. I mean these are totally coupled systems, and I think that was one of the messages when we first saw those iconic images from space that showed the earth as one system such a key part of the start of the environmental movement. Really so as
say. It said that this is a joint system, its linked in space right, we can think about. The large scale where we see waves in the atmosphere, maybe the size of a book of a continent. Waves. You mean pockets of air, yet move coherently, right, Jack straw. With a ridge over one part of the. U S say: that's warm and location of those large scale waves in turn impacts the I in scale right that impacts, whether you get the formation of a low pressure system and a storm with wines that then their way down to the surface in an energy cascade right, so there's that spatial connect scales and, I think, also connection across different parts of the climate system too. I asked what is what separates away from what the wave is moving through his it just temperature of air His waves conform same question: yeah was
if the thing I'm here where they can bring, you don't need me you're, not did not know you. You got my backs that your front this. They can form for a variety of reasons I mean one of the most basic features is: is the jet stream, which is largely driven by a temperature contrast between the warm material regions that receive the most sunlight in the higher latitude polar region. So you have, these sort of state or formations, but then within that these instabilities form and wave energy propagates, to try to fill in some of those gaps. So you would have had no real global data on this work. Not for no, no! I was critical absolutely, and so. Here's Cathy sovereign former astronaut head of Noah- and so I just asked her what what what knows all about and likely to check utterance What is known as mission? It really is understand the earth and how it works and translate that into useful information for society. As a planet, yet we fly the countries
operational. Whether satellites, almost any picture you see under even used the weather broadcast is from a notice, Atley nautical charting. We make all the country's nautical charts the tide, gauges and information that help ship pilots bring big container ships and safely. Then we also do ocean coastal management like fisheries, marine mammals, ok, so got we got that ocean, land and life, and life system, that I don't know about basically in their chemical flows between that and the physics and chemistry that tie them altogether earths systems a system of systems, but rarely the thick this concept, system of systems, it seems to me as a modern idea in terms of systems? Engineering right, I think that's and were learning about some of the feedbacks that can amplify an initial process, for example, in a hurry in how you need an initial wind which then stir
up the ocean releasing he which can then make the wind stronger as one example. So that's what you write feedback yeah. So one thing triggers another: saying, and that other thing it triggers makes that first thing more and have a beer, positive feedback, positive feedback and a negative feedback. It would just squash it outright. Cool Have you found a way to negative feedback? A hurricane you could dash women in the cradle. So you need satellites, absolutely without satellites, you'd walkin around doing this More or less that's what people did before they were satellites to their right. Before there were weathermen there were What were the weathermen, like my my goats facing Chicago, it's gonna rain mining is here this morning everybody had to hide the rheumatism. I guess you're right. It's wasn't that long ago, when the biggest thing you would predictable whether just where there's gonna rain on your picnic, and you only got that right, half the time
and yet, with somebody feel a nerd, their joint sir something arable farmers probably know better than anybody ran, think probably learn what to look for. They live out outside outside of mean literally that they can work. Outside the city. People do they depend on knowing how to predict how to raise their crops right, but they still use no two area. Yes, the other night, not what they want to lick their fingers anyway. So when I M or any of us think of whether idle The first thing we think of his know, we think of the national, whether service. So I put this question to Cathy, so only to then learn that not only should boss of Noah she's boss of the national, whether terms check it out under who does the national, whether service? Why that's a branch of no ranch of no, I didn't know their own brand of no earlier than we are
have stewardship responsible. You are like queen of the weather winnings shut? Your mouth is here because when we there's a whole kind of person who was got all the measuring devices in their backyard and the hand of monitor whatever this thing is call than would be, ass might be ok, but in the same way, that CNN does very well in their ratings. When there is war the channel there's really well when there's extreme weather, so people love but why cause its deadly, but maybe we just like death, like kids here, like looking into the mouth of t, Rex maimed and who doesn't love black holes right that will repeat to shreds set up. So maybe there's some morbid fascination. We have as humans with them.
You to shreds set up, so maybe there's some morbid fascination. We have as humans with things that could kill us, but we somehow keep a safe distance from our fascination scale in power that we can't energy the manifestation of energy beyond our own. So so, rather yemeni incites ensue. Translation with extreme weather ya, think organised first well, the term whether Winnie Well, that's in terms of endearment this you didn't just make that up to humiliate her. Just now known all, that's that whether we need I thought that the people know about whether we need shaken the head. Ok, I thought that was. It an enduring turn. Does it bother you come over, first partner, whether we ok, if I didn't mean it, I mean it's kind of playfully sounds offensive, but if you're in the community
people who are Lara. We knew you can call someone else. Are we think it? Yes, that so so what's your insight into this isolation with deadly. Whether now I think we heard a big part of it right there as we're getting better in some ways at managing risk planning for the future. As satellites improve, I am somewhat human nature to still be an all these things that can immediately deadlock distance at a safe distance, everything that that can disrupt all of our best answer, and I think that clearly, its compelling too studies. Some of these extreme events, because if we can better understand, what's gonna happen either in turn the predicting an individual storm or how the statistics of snow Arms may change in the future. Then we can some of those some of those risks. But I think there is another piece here perhaps related, which is this, that we should acknowledge this: just visceral element by which were fascinated by these things. Thinking of torrent
chasers, another there's a theirs. It there's a beauty to these two, these extremes as well, that that maybe we need to connect with and in some of our messaging too. So I think also think we live I'm alone here. Just let me know, but we're all looking forward to death once you will let you know now set a target, not, I think I think the safe distance from something that will kill you is. Is it isn't it who doesn't load? sitting behind a picture window watching a thunderstorm unfold, and maybe there's a way we can even leverage the idea that these extreme events are sort of exciting to people is Martov as it is. Is there a way for that to get some people to the table when horrible things happen. Like Hurricane Sandy. Can there be? teaching moment afterwards. You sometimes have have potential to right, after You will have seen the vulnerability when they're making decisions about whether to rebuild Howdah, how to use that information will refer
my interview with coffee, solvent former NASA astronaut and head of the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, actually known as no let's check it out now his job? Is you take the pulse of the planet, Transform those data into actual rely timely information? So my take satellite profiles of moisture and and temperature in the attic there are many transform that into a dynamic model of the weather and tell you likely defeating your raincoat in today's and how cold it's gonna be, and over our lifetimes, kill doing that has gone from where you could sort maybe trust the forecast for tomorrow and not so much day. Three wary swing. Some are landed here all day. Five days, seven art and re elected I've been very pressed a day, a decade the it will tell you the run of likely temperatures.
Afternoon on Friday when you look in on Monday and has little Bee and it's gonna be on their very best way a decade and I've got one congratulations on that too rarely have house. We ve gotten better. At this is it just computing is partly computer, Certainly that enables us to go to finer spatial resolution to pick up the finer scale, items storms and some of its just improve physical, understanding we ve seen, we got a longer record now of storms, of whether it still apply and of that diction and model skill, and the expertise of of individual forecasters time. Thank you for giving The world, your predictive passion, Madame just like going to bed yes and using the same technology to count cards predict roulette. Thank you, sweet of you ve got a lot of science but there
who is going to be some fundamental limitations, whether sort of butterfly effect so they're gonna be ultimate sort of limits to predictability life. This, where chaos kicks in Bonn, If some small, various here: it explodes It is something that you could not have accurately predicted, because turning whether data into an accurate fork forecast, I mean that the people in the middle I'll just on tv have to do this all the time and if they get it wrong,. Get angry with them but really it should be getting angry with you. Absolutely Yet the weatherman on TV are meteorologists, but do they do they? didn't do the math, and I just get reports. I got you say no enough of how to interpret the information that comes to them, yet some of its maybe a local context for whether in the particular city that they reside in some of its maybe decade,
experience, knowing when to trust the weather models and when maybe two two cents intuitively that a certain system might be unique and might not follow the traditional patterns, you don't we have, we have a video dispatch from an actual, local news meteorologist to help us explain how they make their predictions happened. The chicken hello, Thyssen Nick Gregory here the Fox five, whether centre in New York City, coming up with a weather forecasts, all the raw data we get from Noah and other sources really is a science huge? so data they get plugged into various computer models, which then presented solution. We take that solution, apply our own knowledge of past weather events and predict what we think is going to happen: For example, let's see how we would predict potential blizzard, so we, start to look for those, whether trends, what would they be? Let's say pressure rigging in from Eastern Canada. We were that looked
computer models to see what type of jet stream pattern would be in play, and would this trough of pressure be along the EAST coast, potentially with US extreme riding up eastern seaboard, pockets of energy, start moving across the country, this upper level, energy that once it right has the east coast sets the potential for a storm, to develop right in this location, that storm Cadet intensify and turn into a nor Easter and eventually crack up along that jets dream track giving a swathe of heavy snow alongside so there you have it. I noticed. Maybe these are mobile- whether there is now she threw him some work so to improve accuracy. It's not just an academic exercise. It matters, and what's the biggest reason why we need accurate disaster forecast from you well, for one thing it saves
that's right. I mean if we can know that a hurricane is gonna explosively gain and strength in advance. Can get people out of the way in time. For example, we can better forecast. Tornadoes is also business right. If we can help inform people on when they should, plant crops inform investments on how much money should be spent on heating fuels or something that, for a winter, southern Israel, economic implications and human lives at stake. Well, coming up next on star talk, we will answer your questions about the science of whether in climate on earth, beyond when STAR talk, return them see before you, I'm gonna consider singing all of the ads on this shell there's just one
and where to get out of hearing there go to patriarch arms last star talk and support where does at the five dollar level or higher to listen? The star talk ad free You can download all current episodes into your favorite podcast player and never we're here, another commercial on star talk ever again. You will definitely not have to hear me saying if you support us at Patria, dark coms. Last our talk, radio, I mean I'm just thinking I mean just saying: welcome back start off about interconnected system of life, land, sea and air, and how, oh that conspires to give us our weather and our climate. In this segment? It is now time for cosmic queries, get lovingly conflict. Where is this where we answer question for our fans typically drawn from
a social media and Scott you, you got these questions I do ran with I'm good I'm gonna call lifelines are. Whatever it can to help this out or I go here. We go I'm in Conway from Tallahassee Florida asks, as the the moon continued to place themselves into a title. Lock. Would the road of the earth slow down and if so, what would be the effects on our tied patterns, I got this when we take this guy, so we will has already title. We locked the moon, we have our the effective. Our gravity on it is said. Then the effect of its gravity on us on our shape. We ve taught it to lock it, so the mood only ever shows one face to US that's. Why there's a near side of the moon and the far side of the moon? But there is no dark side of them all sides of the moon. Get sunlight every month. Ok, don't get angry about Diana angry thinking, like put
a ten years of my life emotion to career their album. One title dark side of the move to say: ok, the moon, is tried to totally lock us. It's just not good at it. So the moon is slowing us down ever so slightly and we compensate for by every now and then putting a leap. Second into the calendar. We some two doesn't leave seconds put in ever since we ve. Able to measure the fact that them the slowing down at this rate. Ever since the we nineteen seventies, we're compensating for this we'll take longer than the life expectancy of the sun. For the moment, fully timely, lock the earth oh there, you have it now as earth slows down. We have over rotational effect on storm manufacturing.
So do you have a like a rotation rate of the earth term in your modeling? Yes, you do there's the coral us that which you corals, and so you can. Can you control how strong the corals effect is yap when you do ongoing simulations for other planets. That's a parameter that you can play within a model. Ok cool grew bigger, Goodwin. Yes, I never to pity cradle from the walk. He was constant asks so jupiters form. What has sustained it for so long and will eventually stop. I know since Galileo's time, but on start talk, we have we is of summoning knowledge from the universe that might not be present in this room. So let me conjure David grinned spoon. David, you on video call radio hey the colony someone is asking about Jupiters red spot I've been around how
processes it is going to keep going so so you're an expert you work for the planetary scientists to two. So what can you tell us about the red spot? Well, Jupiter. Has these giant storm the red spots, not the only one is just the biggest and most of all lived one and interestingly, they they do come and go over the years, but the red spot has been there for at least three hundred years and it's interesting to wonder if it's gonna, if it's gonna, stick around these the other storms on Jupiter. We ve seen that are almost that big. Some of them come and go, but that the red spot is very stable storm system and so far it's. You know it haven't gone anywhere, and so I don't know, maybe it's a it's a permanent feature of of the plan Ok? So if you look at Jupiter through a telescope, it's actually a striking they patterned place in this upper atmosphere of of bans in and storms Earth wrote
once in twenty four hours, Jupiter rotates once in like and ours and its way bigger than earth. So it must have ups staggering Korea always force that's right. Yet the winds On jouberts are ferocious and the coral sources, as you ve said, are really strong, because not only is the is the rotation rate significantly faster than earth it has to make it around a heck of a lot farther because it so huge so those forces are really strong, and that is part of course, what maintains these massive massive? Basically, Hurricane Mass of hurricanes, like the Red spot so can we hold John in case. The next question need to go back to you to Scotland, where you have Ashton Orton, wants to know what's the most extreme climate in our solar system, so David, what do you have? the most exciting and Simon and our solar system. Venus Venus has a surface temperature of
almost nine hundred degrees Fahrenheit, which is all because of a massive greenhouse effect, just the greenhouse effect. We hear so much about on earth that is getting a little uncomfortably strong right now, but unbelievably strong greenhouse effect on Venus is what makes the climate there so extreme. So is earth at risk of having a runaway greenhouse effect like Venus because Venus, is commonly referred to as our sister planet is about the same size, but the same service gravity. So why not think about it in other and way. Yes, earth is at risk of a runaway greenhouse in? very long run. In fact, in the very long run, its almost inevitable, the earth will go the way of Venus.
Now, if you're asking, if there's a short term threat because of the stuff were putting in the atmosphere. Imagine if we burned all the fossil fuels. Every last ounce of call every last drop of oil Could we push earth into a Venus thou runaway greenhouse and there's a little bit of disagreement there, but I think the best bottle, say no we're not in immediate danger of that. Of course, we dont want to try the experiment, because long before we got to a Venus like state would be uninhabitable for for us. So David thinks rethink for I went in and help us out on cosmic wary. So we're talking about a science of whether featuring my interview with the head of the National oceanic and atmospheric administration, Cathy Sullivan, that's America's weather and climate predicting and monitoring agency, and I asked her one of the flashiest weather events she's ever seen. Lightning, let's check it out. Lightened
The science is still not quite nail down on me. Some lightning who doesn't love like who doesn't want lightning and the pattern of lightning and thunderstorms see How change in ways that are Diagnostical a storm becoming a tornado, so they might be clues early clues to this one's gonna be generated tornadoes that one want and you ask any Ashraf, one really magical sites is flying over a mass of your astronauts. What's a magical site can be asking you ok next time I haven't after I'll ask them, but I got was sitting right here This is why massive complex a thunderstorms on the ground when you're watching them. There's a bolt there in a little while later there's a bolt there. You watch him from on top and that clause like electrically active all the time you see, zippers of lightning racing. What causes much more seeing the whole complex whole complex, and it's like seeing a whole organism. Charlie bold said once
the greatest laudable to reverse that men, while micromanage uncouple flights. We were looking at one of those one night. I don't you like. This is the light. Show companies great concert you wish you could hear the music exactly right, exactly right, so lightning, some key, some cool. So by lightning. As you may know, I don't know if you notice the movement of electrons through the air heats catastrophically, heats the air to fifty thousand degrees Fahrenheit, which is about five times the temperature of the surface of the sun, and because it here catastrophically. The creature shockwave is a lot of deposited energy there and I'm curious. Cathy said that tracking tornadoes might be aided by tracking what's the connection between the two and there's some research, suggesting that fifteen or twenty minutes before tornadoes form there, sometimes an increase. Enlightening activity and sort of the frequency of strikes. That may be
proceeded with. What we call up drafts are down drafts within severe storms. These are instances we You get more vertical motion which can then feed on it. Health and that win sheer is a critical factor in tornado formations are the basic idea would be maybe maybe some instances if you see any Greece enlightening could be indicative. The change in these vertical wines, which could give you more when sheer, maybe fifteen or twenty minutes later you're more like because of that, when sheer together, regulation. Currently stir up a cool and being hit by lightning is the Standard Metro of the rarity of something right. You more! we ve been hit by lightning bitten by shark or bitten by then hit my lightning. What would it so? We looked up the numbers it's like about fifty people a year, and there was a guy, I think in the Guinness book who said whose, like it most by lightning? I forgot the number: was it seven or ten, because he said
I've always liked increase it. Somebody up there is looking after me and- and I said no said. He obviously only try to kill your daily added. So we're featuring my interview with Cathy Sullivan she's, head of the we can agency that concerns itself with monitoring and predicting our climate and our weather, and I asked her: we are her people, just in the spectrum of assessing our change climate. Let's check it out where Stand is on the data were where the guys that collect the data that are key have the data so that national climate records are no undue. It's all about the data. This is what the data say: This is what then literature. She knows that data is a plural, ok and is used in a sense than just their way.
If you take the data- and you add basic physics and end the physics of how adding extra gases to the atmosphere might affect the climate we live on a greenhouse planet. We would not be here before not inaccurately personal, yet the yellow most London, greenhouse gas in insurers, water vapor, let's not widely, appreciated, tell this occasion, so you go to the desert. The this very little water vapor in the air, so heats up into a time and then it rapidly cool. None of that heat is kept overnight, Because you don't have this blanket of installations for moist air and summertime temperatures year when in sticky, hot and stays hotline all day and overnight, it's the moisture that holds it, but so can too so does sort of so does Co2 and Brown. I can say it so does your does bromide, nothing, Romania and other compounds well, when we take hold
while the ground or oil on the ground and burn it were, were vapor rising, solid co2. It's been stored in a liquid or solid reservoir for millions or or thousands of years. So to take us another step here we were invited. Another guest, Colombia colleague of yours. We have broad, Linda Soul, Linda! Welcome to start off so Linda, you got the coolest job title either you are a paleo climate targets in this I am could tell us what I think. I know what it is, but when I hear hear you say it, I study climate, so the pastors ancient climate really anything at any point in earth? History? That's not modern! all your life forms are dead and all the way that you're talking about it's already happened. Yes, you guys are experts climate but from different angles. Have this understanding emerge and understanding of the role of co2 or in our atmosphere, and is there isn't much agreement?
in these communities about what is where it's going and why yes I believe. So you know it's. It's really a pretty fun mental issue at the heart of all of this? we have known since the eighteen fifty is that there are these things called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, carbon oxide is an important one. We ve known that those greenhouse gases- warm the atmosphere and if you have more greenhouse gas, you warm the atmosphere more and we have the data that shows the changing levels of co2 with time since about eighteen, fifty or so caused by human activity so that in blue things like fossil fuel burning, but it can also include some other activities but with seal to increasing their there is no question that climate has to change to accommodate that that push that forcing so basically
tell us exactly what seo to does in the atmosphere. Socio too, is an interesting molecule. That's sort of shaped like a v Has the ability to vibrate resource carbon is in the middle carbon than an email and oxygen on on either end and it how variability and it has the ability to absorb heat and reiterate and the more molecules that we have liked. The more the atmospheres capable of capturing that he and then re emitting it back down toward the earth. It's it's. The blanket that keeps warm and normally that's a benign thing, when we have more co2 than perhaps might be comfortable. We start to see some changes, in fact, without it be really cold. Yes, it would like uncomfortable cold. Yes, it would, and in fact without greenhouse gases, earth might completely freeze over you, don't
you have to get rid of greenhouse gases altogether, to get to a state where earth can be frozen over We have. An image of this is called snowball earth. That would be bad if have happened. Yeah, that's that's a reasonable representational say that say this is an exact. Don't tell me, is it about this. This is nasty real fans of frozen, I think so, around two billion years or so ago. We think that this was more or less. What earth might have looked like from space ice. Was this from an absence of greener gases. So it would have been from a severe drop in the out of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Yes, you drop your green because what drop them we think that its highly part, probable, that micro organisms that were doing for synthesis fear for the first time in our history,
generating lots of oxygen, actually changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and and basically destroyed a strong greenhouse gas effect that had been keeping. Planet? Warm despite the fact that the sun was much dimmer so this before there is any complex life on earth. Two billion years ago, so basically microbes swimming in the ocean, does it through the backstroke yet singing letter, Will you just study which has proved a plaque piracy and so the I have seen is is one of the warm periods that we study. It is not the warmest and earth history, but it's the most recent one. Earth history, where co2 levels in the atmosphere were pretty much. Where are they right now around four hundred ppm. Do we have
on. What would what this could be? What this is? Yes, we do so what it will go on. So in the world of the play a scene roughly three million years ago, or so with four hundred people. Co2 in the atmosphere, parts per million parts per million we that the global average temperature was between two and three degrees celsius warmer than modern? We had much smaller ice sheets on Greenland and an article, and to go along with that sea levels were probably at least twenty five meters higher than today. That's about eighty one feet higher, so if you can imagine a world where, for example, floored as completely flooded out and a lot of coastal areas of what would become the United States later are also flooded, the place in world, so is not widely appreciated. Is why sea level rise and cause? I don't think we connect the fact that you have water.
That is on land, yes and not moving and that's called glaciers, her ice melting, those puppy, yes, they just dribble into the ocean in the ocean levels rise and it's it's hard to conceive that there's that water- that's not in the ocean. They could be so it's true. What are we doing about this? Well we're starting to see. Some heartening signs, I would say in the two things we can really do- are to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions rights change, our society and all to prepare for some of these climate changes that are already locked in because as as Linda just indicated, even if greenhouse gas concentrations couldst belies where they are today world. I do a lot of additional sea level rise. Basically, there's all this momentum, climate momentum, that we still I've seen a lot of co2 gets into the ocean and comes out later
That's right, yeah and also bodies, molecule stay in the atmosphere for a hundred years or more sounds like a bit liberal large. Good line and does so but Linda it sounds like you, ve got the answers because you ve seen me your climactic shift, that happened by natural causes that could clue tend to what we are creating by unnatural causes. So what's your best morning, you can give us we need to find a way to cap the emissions that we are. Currently creating as a civilization so that we can basically come to a stop point in change that, while is not, can be fun or easy for civilization? As we know, it is still adaptable so with
hundred parts per million. Now. Yet what was it in eighteen, fifty protein in fifty it was about two hundred and eighty five, so we increased by at least fifty percent. Yes, yes in a hundred fifty years, yes and for earth to do that on its own we'll take how on well the the the closest comparable change is from the time of of the last glacial maximum. So that's the most reach ice age, the furthest advance of the ice across North America and Europe. That was on twenty one thousand years ago, and sealed and the atmosphere then was about a hundred and eighty parts per million from any one thousand years ago to the year, eighteen, fifty by natural processes alone earth Co2 in the atmosphere by about a hundred parts per million. We have well
exceeded that in just over a hundred sixty years through human activity and were blown package we're stabilize if, when we order, where's lowing pass this. Yes, ok. So the problem is not what the level as the problem is the rate at which is changing and the ability of civilization to respond to it, so something that, people are get confused about and that's the difference between climate, whether and when we think whether we think it is going to reign was the temperature humidity precipitation of any kind. Pressure. These are the things in the here and now and then the climate. So the average of their site and Why should we believe that you can predict the future climate if you care predictable there are more than five days from now, so that your question is a very fair question I think but his boat, but but they are quite different different. Since, when we're talking about climate, as you just said, it's the long terms too,
sticks there's random natural variability from one week to next one year to the next. The next that's very difficult to predict, but the idea with climate is that the statistics balance out over time. So if you're, if you're planning for the future, if you're trying to decide how high sea wall should be, what levels of heat extremes to plan for the future. We can say with a lot of confidence that the statistics are chain and we should plan for it. Even if we can't tell you in the weather sense exactly what day you're going get that he'd extreme in the year say: twenty twenty four. So it's one is you can see the climate is what you expect and whether is what you get, but there are people Now who will deny climate change one thing, and- and I'm wondering if the evidence over the course of the last few decades is backing up that prediction I think for the most part it is, I mean there are challenges when you look at it ten years or twenty years seems like a very long time, but at those time, scales are actually is a
of natural variability, which is largely unpredictable as we go to a longer timescales, thirty years, forty years and especially in the future as greenhouse gas concentrations, the source of so much of this project forming as those go up it is six. Are really gonna change and away where we can say that we can be more heat waves, more frequent coastal flooding of the type that we ve seen daring to debate during severe weather events, so you can't necessarily see all the he's just by looking at the last ten or twenty years. But if you take, a longer view. There's a lot were already seeing that we predicted sea level rise the idea that the atom fear would warm that some of the ice sheets would retreat. The upper ocean would warm a lot of those predictions that we get from from greenhouse gas projections are. Are playing out in the long term. Even if you don't always see em. If you just look at the last ten years where they can be a lot of that very ability you talked about broker, When we come back
bill nigh the science guy gives his thoughts on the science of climate change start talking. are we talking about climate of our planet and forces that could render it habitable for life? As we know, it, four America's chief climate top dog, Cathy Sullivan Head of no, the National Oceanic and atmospheric administration. This is all about sharing the love and the data was checked so the world uses our data let use our data and we about two thirds of the data we use our weather forecasts, income from other countries, every kind exchanges, whether data free. No,
large because, alongside each other, what now men, no one can do weather forecasts without the whole measuring urban measure. My actually cooperate with Russia to do and what a concept in this back the olden days where it was guys slinging instruments in the air and all handheld and the data have continued to be sure, and even when countries have been at war like crews, through real political tensions and big hostilities, because it is it's just too critical sets a precedent. In fact it and that's why you can do weather forecasts. You have to sample the entire. As Carl Sagan one said: air molecules don't carry passports wherever the Hollywood, NATO and one that was over you yesterday, is over me now, so we got exchange the data, take a black fraught with what was going on when politics can either.
Get in the way of it. So how does this plain to the Paris agreement We hear so much about now he's so the pay. This agreement? What was what what was special that happened in December. Two thousand fifteen was that the countries of the world came together and formerly pledged to limit MT of warming to two degrees celsius about three and a half degrees Fahrenheit above that pre industrial climate of eighteen. Fifty before Dioxide levels had gone up by about forty percent, and this is critically important, because the further We pushed the climate system, the bigger the potential first surprises. We know we're going the sea level rise. We know we're going to see frequent more frequent flooding of our Mr Cities, more heat waves, more heavy rain events and, paradoxically, more droughts as well, and because this Paris a lot more mistresses that kind of agreement with Brazil, how they, this out as a roll over in Paris right so this week
There is a level of international pressure patient. That may be without precedent. That's right and where we in this United State, while the United States per capita remains the biggest emitter of fossil fuels. We ve been surpass s Number one so basically all the country that given scale of the challenge, though, all the countries of the world are going to have to dramatically reduce their emissions, but but is fair to say that historically, the U S has been responsible for our greenhouse gas emissions than any other country wherever they last in the atmosphere a hundred years, but per capita is one thing I get there, but we have to enforce a population that China does so are we the number one greenhouse gas I know China is the top overall emitter and as we go out further into the future, some of the other he's with very large population such as India, could potentially surpass us as well, but maybe, as we see some
co operation from countries it starts to send a signal to the private sector, for example. This is the way that the wind is blowing in a sense. We just have to hope that this uptake renewable energies and we need other texts, I to write battery storage, for example, new transformers. We have to hope that that societal tipping they can get us. Those changes happens fast enough relative to the potential rapid shifts and climate and societal impacts, changes in agriculture, and things like that. So it's a huge is a race against the clock so before we rap or want to catch up with my good friend bill nigh the science guy to get his take on the planet's changing climate check it out. When signing just look at the ice in places like Siberia and order, Greenland. They contain Although the world's getting warm no I've been degree,
The EAST Greenland ICE Core research project, I've seen em pull the ice right out of the ice sheet and with them just do as measure the neutrons in the water. They look at the atmosphere that wrapped in little bubbles between the times of the snowflakes, they look. Tree rings in the growth rates they look at pictures from outer space They call waited all these data and they produce the graph which looks about like this. Where the world has been about the same temperature for several thousand years, but in the end two hundred and fifty years, since human started, burning coal and oil like crazy. The has gotten warm faster faster. Everybody is not the earth getting warmer with the house, you stick shows us is the speed. Is there eight that the world's giving one- these are the facts We're gonna have to change the way we live now. Look at this point I expect some hilarious hockey punt like nay there's gonna put us in a penalty box nature,
gonna give us a slap shot right to the face, but this is serious. Climate change is the most serious problem, human space to get to work, You knew you don't. I wonder when I look back in team sixties. We go into the moon one famous images ever Earthrise over the lunar landscape and there was earth as it sure intended you to see it before then, there wasn't much illustrations of earth with clout, earth draw urgently draw like the ball oceans, land that's it. Clouds was like something else now you will never see someone illustrate earth without clout. The atmosphere entered our understanding of what earth is spot. Just that
how it is the air we breathe as well, and you realize the air on earth is about as thick as the skin is to an apple. Our atmosphere is to earth. So I claim that what happened then. Over those years we were going to them is that we went to the moon. To explore the moon and we discovered earth for the first time. That's why environmental protection Agency is founded. Nineteen, seventy Noah, nineteen, seventy earth, Nineteen, seventy eight or some the planet doesn't give a rat's ass about us. It really doesn't it'll be here long after we're extinct? So the real question is: can we be good shepherds of this planet? The very planet that keeping us alive
but any fear that we will be the source of our own demise. For me, space brings us that cosmic perspective, a cosmic perspective that may save us from our Ladies and gentlemen, you ve been watching start on and I've been your help wheeled about rights and, as always, I beg you to keep looking. I wish you'd listen start talking, also free joint start talking patria for as little as five dollars per month and the ads will disappear, learn more at patriarch dot com slap star talk, radio,
Transcript generated on 2020-01-21.