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By Seth Romsa
Staff Writer 

Don Day's 'lukewarm' approach to climate change

 

February 13, 2020



WORLAND – Meteorologist Don Day Jr. of DayWeather Radio Network kicked off WESTI Ag Days at the Worland Community Center with his keynote address regarding climate change.

Day started the address for the Wyoming Extension’s Strategically and Technologically (WESTI) Ag Days by talking about the basic building blocks that constitute the current climate change scenarios that are being reported on by both the media and government.

Day positioned himself as a “lukewarmer” or someone who understands that there is such a thing as climate change, but does not agree with either of the extremes that there need to be drastic changes in order to save the planet.

Day described the basics of climate change through Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS), which he can compare to a “three-legged bar stool.” The three main contributors in this discussion according to Day, are carbon dioxide, water vapor feedback and cloud feedback.

He acknowledged that rising carbon dioxide emissions will have an impact on the environment, but without being able to project the impact of water vapor and cloud feedback, it is nearly impossible to predict the actual future of global temperatures without being able to simulate those impacts accurately.

“I like to call it the soft under belly of the argument,” Day said during his presentation.

Day said that just because the carbon dioxide levels rise, it does not mean that the amount of sun being reflected back would double the temperature.

“We can have 2 ½ times the amount of carbon dioxide we do now, and the earth will warm up a degree and a half,” Day said. “(This is) just based on carbon dioxide, not the feedbacks.”

According to Day, cloud feedback is the real problem, and being unable to predict clouds and how they will impact the future of climate change is one of the major roadblocks to determine the true future of climate change. It is unclear among the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) whether clouds would cause a greater greenhouse effect, or allow less sun to come in and cause a cooling effect.

Day did say that carbon dioxide increase does have a warming effect on the Earth, but other factors that are not understood right now may have a larger impact on climate change.

WORST-CASE

SCENARIO?

Day brought forward graphs that demonstrated how a “doomsday” scenario, aka Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5, is being used and presented as the basic scenario rather than a worst-case scenario.

This scenario depicts the population of the world growing to 12 billion people, minimal technology growth, slow gross domestic product growth, high emissions as well as a massive increase in poverty, which Day says is being used as a baseline rather than a worst case scenario in policy decisions.

Day believes that this type of pushing of RCP 8.5 on politicians and lawmakers can lead to poor policy decisions and have a larger impact than the degree changes that would occur in the next 80 years.

Another factor that is typically not included in these reports that has a major impact on weather is Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) which is a measure of the activity of the sun and the impact it has on the heat of the Earth.

Day showed a graph demonstrating TSI actually decreasing over the last few cycles, and a group of solar experts believe that the number of sunspots at the solar maximum of the cycle will continue to decrease which should bring cooler temperatures.

Day went on to talk about the impact changes now and completely eliminating industries may have at this point if it does actually lead to a cooldown in 20 years, which would back us into a corner with very few options to get out, as hotter cycles in human history have not had as negative of impacts on humans as colder ones.

IMPACT ON WYOMING

Day believes that even with changes coming throughout the world, Wyoming will not see a major change as it is being shown that higher latitudes are experiencing impacts from climate change at a higher level, and Wyoming’s position makes it less susceptible to climate change at this time or in the near future.

“I can’t stand here and tell you the next 80 years (of weather) people,” Day said.

Day noted that the Pacific Ocean, whether or not Wyoming is in an El Niño or La Niña cycle, as well as the solar cycle, impact Wyoming’s weather and are easier to predict than the possible impact climate change may have on Wyoming.

When asked about predictions for the coming months of weather, Day felt Wyoming might see a repeat of last year in the early months, of spring and summer, noting that snow pack is at a really good point right now, but expressed concern for the next couple of years regarding a possible drought.

Points regarding the importance of conversation and being able to talk about this subject is what Day emphasized, just because you are a skeptic on a subject or lean one way politically, does not mean you deny or should see a doomsday scenario as an end-all be-all solution, and the only way to solve the problem will be through conversation.

 
 

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