Taking Earth’s Temperature

20181231_7spotLadybirdIt was unseasonably mild on the Yorkshire Coast today, reaching 11.3°C at the Whitby Weather Station I’ve “followed” for the last nine years. The average high for the last day of those years is 9°C, with 2011 taking the top spot at 12.4 degrees. This solitary representative (inset) of Coccinella 7-punctata on my yard wall today may have been confused by the recent warmth.

I put genealogy research to one side for the “Festive Season” and concentrated on collecting December temperature data from weather stations in the vicinity of my ten chosen cities. for Canary to peck through. I think I have found a way to graphically display the present meteorological year so that it is clear which way we are heading – towards further warming or plunging into the Eddy Grand Solar Minimum and “Little Ice Age”. Though the human experience of each scenario will be very different, the inability to grow enough food for The 7 Billion is common to both. Either way, the 99% can expect to go hungry.

There is one other possible future. Anthropogenic global warming will wage a battle with the sun, its spots and cycles, and an honourable draw will keep temperatures at a level where grains can “continue to be grown at scale”, (McPherson et al).

I will log the temperatures for the last few days od December tomorrow and offer a brief report in a day or two. Since last mentioning this project I have switched to noting daily average temperatures rather than maximums. I can more easily fall into step with the great warning from the IPCC that we must not put so much carbon into the atmosphere that the global annual average temperature rises more than 2°C above the pre-industrial baseline. (The Paris Accord of a couple of years ago urged all nations to do what they could to keep the rise below 1.5°C so that we might avoid the wildest of weather consequences.)

“Preindustrial” is a bit of a woolly concept and is sometimes rather laughably described as “before 1850”. One of the first characters with a huge carbon footprint (before such a thing was a twinkle) was born in the 17th century and began smelting iron using coke rather than wood in 1709, three decades before James WATT was born.

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on how much temperatures have risen since pre-industrial but I have plumped for 0.6°C to the beginning of the 21st century. There may have been a further rise of 0.4°C in the last 18 years but, in deference to those who say there has been no noticeable warming since 2000, I’m not taking this into account. Attempting to establish actual figures isn’t the name of Canary’s game, so the notional rise since preindustrial is not really important.

Except for one purpose. I have used the 0.6 figure to give my ten cities (and Whitby) a monthly preindustrial baseline, DEDUCTING this amount from a ten-year average of Daily Average Temperatures (2008 to 2017). I’ve then added the amounts necessary to give a Paris 1.5 degree target and the 2.0 degree “top speed” we must not exceed if human civilization is to continue.

I’ll use this December’s data to show how this scheme might work – and hopefully make sense. Then I’ll return to some genealogy. The main task in 2019 will be to put as many headstone photographs as I can onto FamilySearch Tree. I may not have much time to research local stories.

2018 has been crazy and it is hard to imagine the New Year being any less chaotic. I was relieved that the Ukraine-Donbass contact line remained fairly quiet – but who would have thought Israel would launch a missile attack on Damascus on Christmas Day? Whatever next?

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