Global warming expert: Flooding caused by climate change

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August 4th, 2011

Omaha, NE – This summer has seen its fair share of drastic conditions around the country, including record flooding along the Missouri River. The reason may lie in a controversial theory that addresses climate change.

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Dr. James Hansen, a leading expert on global warming came to Omaha on Tuesday, and said the Missouri flooding is a consequence of climate change. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

Overlooking the swollen banks of the Missouri river at Omaha’s riverfront landing, one scientist has an important explanation for the past three months of flooding. While many consider the flood man-made, a result of water releases by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upriver, this theory aims to look deeper into the root of the problem.

“The Missouri River is flooding,” said Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, during a visit to Omaha on Tuesday. “We’ve had 100 years floods now a couple of times on the Missouri River recently. That’s one of the expected consequences of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

Hansen, who is considered by many to be one of the world’s leading experts on global warming, said the Missouri river is a prime example of how global warming is affecting the earth.

“This is a problem which is not easy for the person in the street to see,” he said. “Unless you do statistics, and you see that the frequency of these events is changing. It’s not so easy to see that changes are occurring because the climate system has tremendous inertia.”

Hansen explained, “The ocean is four kilometers deep, the ice sheets are two or three kilometers thick, so they don’t respond immediately as we begin to change the atmospheric composition. What that means is that we’ve only experienced about half of the warming that will be cause by the gases already in the atmosphere.”

According to Hansen, that presents a major problem for several generations to come, as long as we continue to sweep the problem under the rug.

“The full effect is going to be felt by our children and grandchildren,” he said. “And if we continue to increase the amount of CO2, the effect will be even larger.”

Hansen drew a comparison to the handling of the national debt. “If we spend more money than what we’re taking in, we’re leaving a debt for our children and grandchildren to deal with,” he said. “Parents do not naturally treat their children and grandchildren that way, and they don’t want the government to treat their children and grandchildren that way.”

So what’s the answer? According to Hansen, the responsibility lies in effective policy making to combat global warming. That includes a gradual reduction in carbon emissions. Hansen proposes a rising price be placed on carbon emissions, which should be collected from the fossil fuel companies at the first sale.
Without comparable measures taken by the government, Hansen said the public can expect more of the extreme weather patterns that much of the country has experienced lately, including more severe droughts and floods in the decades ahead.

4 Responses

  1. Bill Fitzgerald says:

    Climate deniers pay attention. This really is happening.

  2. Russell C says:

    What James Hansen, and essentially the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says about the concept of man-caused global warming is contradicted by an 880 page report called the NIPCC 2009 ( http://www.nipccreport.org/reports/2009/2009report.html ), which consists of thousands of citation of peer-reviewed science journal-published papers, much like the IPCC reports.

    The basic question here is if Ben Bohall and KVNO News is able to explain the contradictions without resorting to unsupportable assertions that the NIPCC 2009’s publisher is politically biased or that skeptic scientists are corrupted by fossil fuel industry funding. If Bohall and KVNO are unable to avoid those assertions, the next most obvious question is if they can offer solid proof to back those up.

    If both fail on that last challenge, then what reason do we have to ignore skeptic scientists climate assessments?

    • Jim C says:

      Russell, you need solid proof that carbon emissions alter the world’s ecosystem? Look to chemistry and the ocean waters. Here we have solid evidence that excess carbon in the cycle creates deadly changes. 1/3 of the carbon we pour in the air everyday is absorbed in the water where it is turned into carbonic acid. This lowers the ph value making it less alkaline, 30% less than since the industrial age began. The “debate” about cutting emissions is over. If the ph value continuies in this direction (and no reason why it will not unless we stop dumpinbg carbon in the cycle), will prove deadly to marine life that can not adapt to these changes. Hard shelled creatures will especially be hard hit, such as, coral reefs. However, some creatures will not reproduce because of this change.
      I am somewhat shocked that is alone has not be driven home to the politicians and leaders of business.
      We already see proof of climate change but that is still in the “pipeline” and there is a delayed reaction because the system is so vast.
      Unfortunately, our concerns regards to costs, ignoring the external costs that are not being accounted for in monetary terms because our financial system ignores them to increase profits, at the peril of the ecosystems we need to live.
      Dr. James Hansen and his associates have made it more than clear that we are in danger and they are being ignored. Future generations will question why we were foolish to so.

  3. Is this the year that God embarasses Al Gore about global warming?

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