Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?

Muir Glacier, photographed in 1941 and again in 2004. USGS photos.

Back in 1925 Glacier Bay National Monument was established, in part, to protect "a number of tidewater glaciers ... in a magnificent setting of lofty peaks ..."

Well, as these photos of Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve show, some of those glaciers are slip-sliding away.

Such photographic evidence makes it hard to argue against climate change. About the only thing that can be argued is the role, if any, that humans are playing in altering the world's climate.

That said, glaciers have been coming and going in this Alaskan landscape for a long, long, long time:

Ice has been a major force in the Glacier Bay region for at least the last seven million years. The glaciers seen here today are remnants of a general ice advance – the Little Ice Age – that began about 4,000 years ago. True to its name, this advance in no way approached the extent of continental glaciation during Pleistocene times known as the Wisconsin Ice Age. The Little Ice Age reached its maximum extent here about 1750, when general melting began. The advance or retreat of a glacier snout reflects many factors: snowfall rate, topography, and climate trends. Today, glacial retreat continues on the bay's east and southwest sides, but on the west side several glaciers are advancing.


Yes, Alaska's glaciers have been shrinking for the last two centuries. This year, the bad weather was good for Alaska glaciers.

The difference in temperature between the Little Ice Age and these heady days of American expansion?

About three or four degrees, Molnia said.

The difference in temperature between this summer in Anchorage -- the third coldest on record -- and the norm?

About three degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Does it mean anything?

Nobody knows. Climate is constantly shifting. And even if the past year was a signal of a changing future, Molnia said, it would still take decades to make itself noticeable in Alaska's glaciers.

Clinate change is constant on this planet. The idea that man is responsible seems to me to be hubris. I believes the sun has a lot more to do with that. Besides greater increase is usable land is generally a good thing.

The last two years have had more sever winters so maybe warming needs to be rethought?


There are more than a few scientists who think otherwise, and who have compiled reams and reams of data to support that contention.

While the last two years might have produced severe winters in some parts of the world, others have not seen what might be described as normal. Still, those who study climate change point out that we shouldn't expect to see a steady pattern of warming, but rather herky-jerky weather patterns. In other words, just because climate change is occurring, that doesn't mean we're not going to experience blizzards or Canadian Clippers.

The following found its way to my in-box this morning. It lends credence to the concept that while individual years might not follow cleanly in the definition some associate with climate change, things having been getting warmer.

WARMEST DECEMBERS, Northern Hemisphere
2003 +0.62 C
2006 +0.54 C
1987 +0.52 C
1998 +0.42 C
2008 +0.41 C
2005 +0.40 C

Since November 1978, the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere has warmed more than three times as fast as the Southern Hemisphere atmosphere (+0.19 C to +0.06 C per decade).

With a global average temperature that was 0.05 C warmer than seasonal norms, 2008 goes into the books as the coolest year since 2000. Global temperatures during 2008 were influenced by a La Nina Pacific Ocean cooling event.

Another La Nina appears to be forming in the Pacific, which could chill temperatures through 2009.

As for more usable land, well, that depends upon where you live. Certainly, climate change models predict that northern latitudes will see longer growing seasons. But in places like the Southwest and southern Rockies, a lack of snowfall could be devastating to agriculture and communities that rely on lakes and reservoirs for their drinking water.

Remember that a glacier is a constantly changing system. Advance and retreat is inherent to their nature. A glacier that isn't moving is called an "ice field."

Glaciers advance when snowfall at their heads exceeds melt at their tails. Depending on the glacier, this can take years to manifest. It is perfectly possible for a general warming trend to result in advancing glaciers if the trend increases wintertime snow greater than it increases summertime snow melt. There is not a 1:1 correlation between glacier retreat and global warming. Glaciers that have eroded away can return, when climate trends change. For example, Mt. St. Helens has grown a small one inside its blast crater since 1980.

So sure, receding glaciers are a sign of long-term climate fluctuation. Any geologist could have told you that the climate has always fluctuated. I think it's most important that we not fetishize glaciers. We cannot expect a glacier to forever match its earliest photographs, like those attached to this post. It is geologically and meteorologically impossible for the Muir Glacier to have remained unchanged for 63 years. It is perfectly possible that it will return to its previous extent and more.

To think that the mass amount of man made carbon carbon input does nothing to the planet is hubris.

Those pictures are dramatic. Aside from the ice to water aspect, note the added vegetation along the mountainside.

Pictures like this alone indicate that the climate has been changing for several decades. Sure climate has always gone through cyclic variations, but it’s the rate of recent changes which have experts worried. I can remember as a kid hearing scientists warn about the earth warming as far back as 1984 - - when they called it the "Greenhouse Effect". The spin-doctors have come up with the term "climate change" as not to assign blame. In my opinion, "Greenhouse Effect" is probably more accurate.

Some people like to suggest that it is somehow arrogant to think that humans can affect climate. However, we all know that we can easily affect climate regionally and the environment globally. Acid rain, urban heat islands, light pollution, DDT contamination, etc. are all examples of how humans can have a huge impact on the environment. Take into consideration modern warfare and the potential of a "nuclear winter", it is obvious that we have the ability to make changes our environment and climate on a world-wide level.

That being said, at this time no one can prove or disprove human involvement unless climate change reverses or gets dramatically worse. In the case of the latter, if it does get worse and somehow proven it is due to human activity, it will be too late to do anything about it. Therefore have no choice but to act now.

Could we, at the very least, use some photographic evidence that compares apples to apples? The pics used have obvious differences. Jumping the gun based on what's been provided doesn't do much to demonstrate the intelligence of the reactionaries.

Climate change? What direction? Could begin to cool next hour, tomorrow, next it has for millenia. We have very little to do with it. Many factors involved here. Our global climate is extremely complex.
Why is it an issue? Follow the money...lots of people's income depends on perpetuating the myth...not the least of which, Al Gore. We'll all save tons of money if this hysteria dies and is given a good funeral.

Re: the above comment:

Why is it an issue? Follow the money...lots of people's income depends on perpetuating the myth.

My observation is Gerald has hit upon the root cause for the current debate in this country and around the world about (1) whether climate change is occurring and (2) are human activities part of the reason for the change: "follow the money."

However, I'd offer the flip side of Gerald's take on the money issue: lots of people's income (and lifestyles) depend on denying that climate change is an issue, or that human activities may be a factor.

Much has been written and spoken about the financial cost of steps to curb greenhouse gases and other byproducts of "modern civilization."

Here's just one of many examples: It's a lot cheaper to continue to build coal-fired power plants with as few pollution controls as you can get away with than it is to find ways to produce that electricity in a way that has much less impact on the environment.

It's also a lot easier to justify building those plants if you deny that those pollutants aren't a problem for the environment.

Gerald sums up the issue:

We'll all save tons of money if this hysteria dies...

Wonder what we'll do with all that money we'll save? Maybe we can buy enough Hummers to save Detroit.

I cannot fathom why someone would be interested in parks and have no clue about climate change. Smartin271 mentions that the photos have differences, yes they do, how nice to notice. But seeing the differences and saying it is climate change is deemed to be reactionary. What do you people think all that carbon is doing? When your septic tank overflows, do you say, oh it has plenty of room, don't be reactionary? Why fight this? What will it hurt to be more gentle on the planet?

Follow the money? Yes, the people who don't want to spend more to be cleaner, follow the oil companies money.

"All that carbon" is being absorbed by the seas and flora as it always has. Flora loves CO2...and today there is more forestland in the U.S. than there ever has been in recorded history. No "deforestation" here, BTW.
Take a biology course. Some scientists now believe we are entering a cooling now what do we do? Do you have an answer to that? I guess just the opposite of what the enviros say we need to do! Burn more carbon!!
I actually had an Al Gore "peace prize" party a few years ago when he "won." We fired up the barbie in the back yard and a friend who works at the tire store brought some old tires. We set 'em ablaze just after sunset so that no one would complain...pretty funni. Lots of smoke, but thank God the winds were blowin' away from us!


Lots of smoke, but thank God the winds were blowin' away from us!

Good thing the wind blew all that smoke out over the ocean, where the CO2 would be quickly absorbed...

Sorry Richard Smith, I should have been more clear in my concerns. I gave too much credit, apparently.

The differences I was concerned with had to do with relative distance from comparable spots, for instance, and the time of year in which each photograph was taken. Or, iwas that not too concerning to be brought up as a "problem?"

Wow, take a biology course? I am a biologist. The carbon is being taken up by the seas, and becoming acidic to the detriment of sea life. Burn some tires? Wow you are one sick individual to celebrate like that.

The pictures seem to be taken at the same exact location from what i can tell, it is just that the glacier is hight up than the water. I do not believe the time of year would make much difference.

Sorry Sandi, but I've taught more Bios classes than you'll ever take. Plants love CO2? There's some accuracy in that statement. Plants tolerate CO2 is a better way of making that statement. There's also a bit more accuracy in the statement that with the slash-and-burn deforestation that's been eating away those carbon-sucking flora to which you refer, the earth's ability to filter excess production of CO2 has been reduced. By what percentage this reduction can be measured can be bandied about by various E&E friends of mine, but the overall statistic will be that we (i.e., the Earth) are less able to handle the excesses that we were in years (centuries) past. And for what it's worth, simply placing carbon dioxide in the presence of water doesn't make it magically disappear, not by a long shot. Not quite sure if that's really what you meant, but I hope not. Or I'll have to have a long what-for with your chemistry instructor.
Maybe for once and for all time, we can call this what it really's NOT the consumer that's the real issue in this equation. Consumers only utilize the tools that they are given. If all the people in the US immediately began to live their lives without automobiles, electricity, natural gas, etc. this issue wouldn't simply vanish. Those behind this mess are those who refuse to change the fuel sources that mankind uses, or who claim it's too expensive to change, or that no market exists for "green" fuel technology. I wonder how fast our suppliers mindset would be altered if by chance their incomes were challenged by a sudden unexpected depletion of natural resources?

Richard Smith......sorry, they're not. It's not even close frankly. Try again?

Here is the caption, (from the USGS web site) which Kurt could have included with the photographs above:

On the left is a photograph of Muir Glacier taken on August 13, 1941, by glaciologist William O. Field; on the right, a photograph taken from the same vantage on August 31, 2004, by geologist Bruce F. Molnia of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

According to Molnia, between 1941 and 2004 the glacier retreated more than twelve kilometers (seven miles) and thinned by more than 800 meters (875 yards).

Does this satisfy your photographic skepticism?

First of all, I'm not sure how I managed to claim your name while posting to you. Sorry about that as I'm sure I probably addressed the response to you in the wrong place.

Secondly, I do not believe it is from the same vantage point at all, but thank you for looking into it anyway. For consideration, I would recommend just looking at the mountain peak farthest away in each photograph, to the top right edge of each image. If indeed taken from the same vantage point, then the older image has been cropped considerably, at the least.

Lastly, the difference between the seasons could account for the vegetation as well. That should not be so casually dismissed, if indeed the scientific method is at all important.

In the context of this story, perhaps we're making a bit too much of the exact vantage point, time of year, or other factors in the two photos.

If we look at the photos in broad rather than specific terms, there's no doubt there's been a dramatic reduction in the area covered by the glacier.
Whether it's winter or summer, the surface of the main body of a glacier isn't open water - and there's a lot more open water visible in the later photo.

I've never disputed the issue of climate change. I was merely trying to protect the integrity of the evidence given, though, and I still maintain it was manipulated. If one truly believes in an issue, then no subterfuge should be necessary.

While I'm at it, I do wish to clarify that Richard did provide the dates of the photographs and that a comparable seasonal benchmark was established.

Stephen -

Thanks for your comments. Integrity of the evidence is always a valid area of concern for any topic, and worthy of discussion.

Interesting notion, that of "more usable land". But usable in what manner? The atmospheric variances that currently exist on the planet and the direct interaction that they impose on the existing land masses are a direct result of not only the proximity and topography of land masses in relation to the seas but in the specific temperatures of the sea water in a given region. On a small scale, I'm sure you're all aware of the concept of the El Nino / La Nina phenomenon that occur periodically in the Pacific region, and how climatologists relate the relatively small warming and cooling patterns associated with each phenomenon to our weather in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly here in North America. Space dictates that the permutations that might arise from an overall warming trend in the oceans of a little as 2 degrees C (about 5 degrees F for the metricly challenged) cannot be given their due in this post, but some of what is generally agreed to be the end products of such a shift in the sea temps would be the following: stronger surface winds; larger, more tightly compacted and far more vicious tempests, increased frequency of "severe" storms.

Now for some additional background information. The existing pattern or roadmap that our storm systems follow is a direct cause / effect relationship with not only water temperatures, but more specifically WHERE those water temperatures occur at any given time during the year. The position of the warmer waters serves to direct the formation and general path of the storms, along with other factors such as the jet stream and other layers of aloft winds. As those warm waters drift, as they seasonally do, storms are directed as to where they will encounter and impact along our western coastline. Then, their reformation or intensity are subject to other wind patterns and water temperatures, most notably those conditions existing along the Gulf Coast, and those beneficial rains that allow the Great Plains to function as the Bread Basket of the World are largely a product of favorable conditions in the southern and along the southeast coasts.

As for your supposition of longer growing seasons in the Plains? Not likely at all. A general warming trend in the Pacific is bound to shift storm patterns, which currently are optimal for the growing season in the center of the nation. Storms being redirected into Canada would most likely not reap the benefit of Gulf moisture without a tremendous increase in the south /southeasterly winds, which at the required velocity would rip the top soil from heart of the nation just as a similar situation did in the 30's. On the other hand, a seasonal shift to the south and the rains enter Mexico, a country that doesn't possess the quality of soil to retain the vast influx of mew moisture, and would most likely be subject to massive flooding and erosion. That coupled with the relatively narrow land mass that is Central America would encourage storms to reform before they even begin to degenerate as they currently do over the much larger land mass that is the US. That scenario doesn't bode too well for the Caribbean nations and other points east. A longer growing season? More likely, a season without conditions for growth, as the abatement of storms also would sound the eventual death knell of the Great Lakes and much of the Mississippi, Missouri, Colorado and Ohio watersheds. Not much to irrigate your crops with, eh?

Additionally, if as they estimate, the melting polar caps would add as much as 200' to the existing sea levels, another rather significant chunk of "usable" lands would be eliminated from the equation along ALL of our coastlines, in all nations around the globe. And maybe most unfortunately for us all, there goes our planet's last reserves of fresh water, unceremoniously dumped in the salinity of the seas.

But maybe it won't happen. Maybe the overall climate change is less drastic than we think. Maybe by switching to alternative fuel sources enough damage can be reversed to make amends for how greedy and blindly stupid our business managers have been. Maybe we, people of all nations, creeds, socio-economic backgrounds, will all come to our collective senses and act for the good of mankind. Maybe the world will indeed implode in 2012. And maybe a black man from Kenya and a White man from Kansas will have a son that will grow up to become President of the United States of America.

I'm sitting here on the 21st. of January in Livingston Mt. looking forward to another clear day in the fifties. So it has been for the past couple of weeks. There is no snow in the valley, and it is getting pretty thin on the surrounding mountains. Yesterday I was out tilling soil in my garden (not that I plan on planting for four more months, but it was that nice out). I realize that this is all meaningless, just as the fact that Ancorage Alaska had the third coldest summer on record is meaningless. This is the weather, not the climate. The weather is what is happening today, this week or this year. The climate is what the overall trend is over many years. There is little doubt that the overall climate is warming. A couple of degrees is all that it takes to cause glaciers to disappear, bark beatles to run rampant, forests to vanish, arctic sea ice to melt and polar bears and other species to become extinct. As John Muir said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." Who knows what species is "hitched" to us in such a way that when it goes, we also go?
We can argue the cause of climate change until we are blue in the face. The majority of responsible scientists seem to believe that the industrial activities of man at least are a contributing factor. Even many formerly objecting voices are beginning to lean that way. It is also possible to locate responsible scientists who disagree, as well as thousands of dissenting opinions of less than reliable sources.
The point is that it really doesn't matter. If it is man caused, even in part, we might be able to reverse it. If not, then our fate may already be sealed. The good news is that most of the things we are being asked to do to combat climate change can do nothing but benefit us, both in the short term and the long; and we might, just might, be able to save the planet as a bonus. Winterizing our homes does nothing but make us more comfortable and save us money; as does switching to energy saving (and long lasting) light bulbs. Developing wind and solar energy, and moving toward hybrid, natural gas and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles does nothing but get us out of the back pockets of oil producing nations; and frees us from an addiction to a fuel source that is rapidly disappearing. Clean coal technology does nothing except create jobs for Americans and reduce air pollution. When companies "go green" experience has shown us that they do nothing but increase their profits.
If we can save the planet as well, this is win, win. But even if we can't and we are all doomed in a hundred or five hundred years (or even if the planet is in no peril at all), these things still make sense. Even if climate change does not exist, we should all be backing the war against it; if for no other reason than our pocket books and the nation's economic health and security.

Hanson's data had to be revised and the warmest year was substantially changed. His latest data used the wrong month and than declared that he had no confidence on temperature data that came from Russia. There is substantial number of scientists who dispute the hypothesis that global warming or climate change is man made.

There is not enough time to go into the entire dispute, but Gore’s carbon actually followed the climate by 800 years. Check out Viscount Monkton data and challenge to debate Al Gore on this subject.

The planets climate has changed a lot over millions of years. This year cold spell may have more to do with the very low sunspot activity this year. Low sunspot activity has correlated in the past with cold years like the little Ice Age of the 1500-1600 I believe.

As Lone Hiker states that El Nina and El Nino cycles have a lot to do with weather. Also the cold wells in the oceans that are thermal sinks and affect the warm currents have a lot of effect.

Carbon probably less than water vapor, which has greater concentrations. However conservation by more efficient systems and CF bulbs that last longer but have more mercury have beneficial effects. Certain areas of the globe seem to be changing, warm areas melting glaciers in the Alps and increase sea ice in others.

I doubt that there is any real dispute that the glacier depicted had substantially retreated. My point about more useable land is that when the glaciers retreated in northern Europe more arable land was available to grow crops and that enable civilization to rise and flourish. The average temperature in Roman times seem to be higher than currently and then the long cold years of the Dark ages seemed to be a cold period. So humans seem to thrive in warmer climates periods than cold periods.

Wind power on the coast in oceans like the Delaware project that has constant wind seems to be a good idea. I am not sure if it is economically competitive without subsidies compared to fossil fuel. I am not happy about large swaths of the middle of the country with huge windmills. I believe that is costly and despoils the landscape. I would prefer smaller nuclear power plants for electricity, which is clean and takes up a smaller footprint.

Personally I prefer the beautiful valley and water in the second photo to the bleak snowfield in the first. I would be able to enjoy the valley more than if it was still a glacier filled.

There are still many glaciers and Ice Mountains for those who enjoy climbing and hiking glaciers.

This debate reminds me of the ongoing flame war about concealed carry in the parks. Not only is the argument getting nowhere, but I think this is an especially bad forum for the debate. There are big, ongoing debates about whether the climate is changing, whether this change is caused or exacerbated by humans, and to what extent that change is harmful or beneficial.

Two photographs of a glacier do not constitute evidence in this debate, any more than would two sample temperatures, taken roughly at midday, in the same area, 60 years apart. Retreating or advancing glaciers are not naked-eye evidence of climate change, per se, because glaciers are the products of systems that are far more complex than mere temperature. If glaciation trends constitute a single data point, or perhaps a small series of data points, their relevance to the debate is still dependent on many other factors.

Regardless of this point, the ongoing, multi-faceted global warming debate will not be settled on National Parks Traveler. Neither will the ongoing, multi-faceted debate over the place of firearms in society. If these debates are ever settled, it will not be here. This is Kurt's house, and if he wants to raise these topics, that's his prerogative. Clearly, topics of high controversy drive traffic, and that's perfectly reasonable.

But I worry about the role of the National Park Service in the greater climate change debate. I worry that what should be a non-political organization is taking on a partisan role (whether single-issue, or broad-based). The NPS's Visitor's Bill of Rights promises visitors the right "to be treated with courtesy and consideration," and "to receive accurate and balanced information."

That promise of accurate and balanced information is a tricky one, particularly in this case. Shall we tell visitors accurately that the sky is blue, or should we balance that with the possibility that the sky is green? To some people, climate change is as real and settled as the color of the sky, and anyone who says otherwise is some combination of ignorant, corrupt, and evil. To others, climate change is real, but not anthropogenic. To a third group, climate change is a complete fraud. Shall we bow to the first group, which is undoubtedly the most vocal, and treat anthropogenic climate change as fact?

I think the NPS should move slowly on this point. There is no need to lead public opinion or public policy. No matter what anyone says, the science of climate prediction is not settled. (That statement invariably draws sputtering hysteria. If any reader is tempted, please, spare me.) If the NPS should take up the climate change drum too loudly, it risks alienating some of its supporters, both in political life and among the greater population.

Dan raises some valid points. Issues such as climate change and guns in the parks will not be settled at the Traveler.

But I'd disagree that this is the wrong forum to discuss them. They are both, in their own ways, highly relative to the national parks, and a key mission of this site is to report on and explore issues pertinent to the parks.

National park visitors need to know about both issues. Obviously, there are many folks interested in being able to arm themselves in the parks, and just as many if not more who object to such an action. Why shouldn't the merits be discussed on the Traveler?

As for climate change, it is happening, regardless if there's unanimity in the driver. How that climate change is being expressed on the ground I'd argue is of interest to park visitors, whether it's in the form of retreating glaciers, warming waters, disappearance of long-native flora or fauna.

Anglers rightfully want to know why in late summer fishing often is banned in some Yellowstone streams because the waters are too warm and so the trout too stressed by being hooked. Why are moose seemingly disappearing from Isle Royale? Why is Glacier expected to be glacier-less within three decades? To ignore these topics on the Traveler would be a mistake.

If the Park Service can in its approach to reducing its carbon footprint educate visitors on how they can do the same in their own lives, what's wrong with that? If climate change is not being motored primarily by humankind, the only damage done will be a cleaner planet.

It's sad that our lives are being manipulated by a chosen few on the issue of our planet's "weather" cycle. It's even more curious how after decades and decades of abuse from mankind, his "intellect" now drives him to right past wrongs which he doesn't even completely understand. A guilty conscience might be a terrible thing to bear (like Bogie in Treasure of the Sierra Madre) but acting rashly based mostly on ignorance is even worse. Yes, Kurt, reams and reams of data have been complied, but to what end? Nobody and I mean NOBODY really understands the full scope of the evidence. Reams of data have also been compiled on topics such as cancer, HIV, the relationship between socio-economic status and a propensity for violence, the evils of cannabis, the odds for success when raised in a single parent home, etc. Most, if not all of these issues are less complex than is the history of our atmospheric development, but we, being the ego-centric organisms that we are, have some notion that we can accurately decipher life's intricacies when we've yet to demonstrate an ability to grasp the finer, more subtle concepts of our daily existence. So if one of my brethren throws down some rather hefty report on any given topic, we're all supposed to bow down and do homage to the Great Lord of Knowledge? These data, while available for our perusal, have the nasty habit of neglecting to mention the specific hypothesis and methods used to drive the study. Unfortunately, those are key elements in ANY proper study. Gathering data sets is all well and good, but if not effectively directed, the processes and corresponding evidence that have been compiled are generally useless. I know other posters to this site have rallied behind the good ol' boys at NASA and their supposedly irrefutable reputation. That's fine. Everyone needs a standard to rally beneath. All I'm saying is that while there can be no dispute that the climate of our planet is anything but a static process, our files pertaining to the rates and specific cycles is pathetically inadequate to correctly assess where we currently stand within any given cyclical event. Warming? Cooling? Yes, on both counts. Normal? Extreme? Not enough historical data to base a long-term prognosis upon. Reversible? Possibly, but by what degree is literally anyone's guess, with the operative term being GUESS. Should we be doing all we can to limit future impact on the system as a whole? Damn straight buddy. Why didn't we start earlier? We weren't, and still haven't been given the tools to do the job effectively. We've been strangeld by Big Business again, who sold our collective souls to feather their personal (and corporate) nests. And to this day, the bottleneck in any attempt to correct the flaws in this whole program is still at their doorstep. Long live Big Oil indeed..........

I thought I knew better from my days living in Utah, but when I read the comment regarding how there's never been more forested land in the continental US that currently stands (no pun intended) I thought it would be worth the update to all parties concerned about just how much "greening" has been taking place of late. First off, with the rate of urban sprawl during the second half of the 20th C I found it difficult to believe anyone could make a statement purporting increased vegitation in our forests, but be that as it may, the following link would like to propose a slightly different view of our "great National forests".......

Now for what it's worth, there are a multitude of possibilities not discussed within the context of this article that both explain the loss of hardwood and have no tie, directly or indirectly to the climate and are mostly centered around a those exotic species of both parasitic organisms and diseases for which there are no current treatments. But to say the climate isn't at least partially involved would border on the naive. This from someone who isn't convinced that the sky is falling to begin with, but who understands that saving myself some money through a few lifestyle changes that also allow for the betterment of the planet can't be a bad thing for anyone, except the utility companies who I sincerely hope go the way of the dinosaur by the end of this year.

Reams of data? how many years? 100? 1,000? 1,000,000? Can they or we compare it to other reams of data to assert any theory that is 57% predictable? hmmm.

I don't know how you can post this fallacious tripe with a clear conscience.

The change in the number one warmest year in the US, not the globe - that's 2005, was that '34 moved from a statistical tie with '98, to a statistical tie with '98. A fact Hansen stated from the get-go. 2009 is also in a statistical tie for second place behind 2005 with '34 and '98.

Your denialist talking points get worse from there.
Yes, orbital forcing triggers (there is more than one thing that can perturb climate in one direction or another) a move out of the glacial periods, which releases CO2 locked in ice, so CO2 "follows" temp. But then CO2 typically contributes to another ~6400 years of warming. Of course this talking point ignores the fact global temperature has nothing to do with man releasing CO2 which has been locked in sinks for millenia and are inaccessible to natural forces.

Awhile back I read an article on the role of humans in climate change. In it the author used the analogy of a standard desktop globe of the earth to give perspective. The thickness of the earth's atmosphere would be represented by a single coat of varnish on the globe. It is that thin. We have been pumping billions of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses into this painfully thin life supporting envelop for some 150 years. How can anyone intelligently argue that humans cannot affect the climate? Of course we can - and are. Mother nature always bats last - and she is about to use that bat on us.