Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Hustle

Global Warming - A Health Warning

Posted on 19 August 2012 by Riduna

Let there be no doubt, global warming is a killer. It is likely to contribute to or be the direct cause of premature death because of the way in which it causes:

  • Loss of human habitat
  • Greater incidence of disease and
  • Increased ozone production

Loss of human habitat:

Most humans can only live in a habitat where very limited climate conditions prevail, where for most of the time it is not too cold (above 0ºC) and not too hot (below 35ºC).  Habitat that is wet enough to cultivate food yet dry enough to avoid prolonged high humidity.  Outside these conditions, we struggle to survive and do not live for very long.  Loss of habitat due to the effects of global warming poses serious threats to our survival.

Humans and, no less importantly the animal and plant species they depend on for food, can only cope with anything outside these parameters for a relatively short period.  The effects of global warming and the increasing speed with which it is happening is of immediate and longer term importance to humans.

Global warming produces climate extremes resulting in longer, more frequent periods of severe heat, drought, high winds, precipitation, tidal surges and flooding.  Such conditions pose a threat to our health and wellbeing, as evidenced by the 2010 heatwave which struck central Russia, destroying over 20% of the national grain crop and causing the premature death of some 50,000 people.  It is nearly certain this event would not have occurred in the absence of global warming.

Heatwave conditions result in a greater incidence of bushfires, accompanied by very dry conditions and high winds.  These contribute to contraction of human habitat since they limit reliable food production and water supply needed to sustain a population of any size, particularly very large urban populations.  The latter then become dependent on food imported from more distant areas where it can be produced and on water saved and stored from recycling, less frequent rainfall and desalination.

Examples of this are already evident in areas of dense population such as Perth and Melbourne in Australia.  These areas are trying to cope with populations growing at such a rate that increased demand is placed on dwindling local water and food supplies.  Be it the Central Valley of California or heavily populated N.W. India, sustained food production has become increasingly dependent on unsustainable pumping of groundwater because of diminishing availability of water from rainfall and glacier fed rivers.

Global warming is already causing land based snow and ice to melt much faster than it is being formed with the result that, apart from the Greenland/Antarctic ice caps and some mountain ice cover, the planet is likely to be largely ice free by 2100.  The consequences of this have been described elsewhere.

Suffice it to say that this is likely to result in average sea level rises of 1-2 metres by 2100, inundating low lying coastal lands and fertile river deltas inhabited by over 4 billion people, resulting in loss of land currently used for production of the food on which they depend.  It will only be possible to maintain food security by reducing exports or by importing more.

If global population growth is not curtailed, the presently low incidence of malnutrition will increase significantly.  This will reduce resistance to diseases, particularly vector borne diseases, which either do not occur or are rare at present.

Disease increases:

Global temperatures are already rising so fast that some species of plant and animal life have no time to adapt.  They face extinction or, at best, much reduced habitat able to support far fewer numbers.  For other life forms, rising temperature increases their habitat and this is the case for mosquitoes and ticks, both of which carry diseases and infect humans with them.

These vectors are currently limited to habitat in warmer, more humid parts - in Australia mostly in and north of Townsville on the east coast. They are rare or do not occur further south where winter temperatures fall to levels which kill them.  However, as ambient temperatures increase, mosquitoes and ticks will move further south or north and survive winter in places such as Brisbane, the more densely populated southeast corner of Queensland and then move south into New South Wales.

In a few decades from now disease carrying ticks and that harbinger of so many ills, the Anopheles mosquito, will spread to new temperate regions and bring with them serious diseases at present rare or unheard of in those places.

The following Table shows the more common of these, treatment presently available and prognosis for those becoming infected. As mosquitoes and ticks spread further south and north, they will bring diseases for which, at present, there is limited treatment. Many of these diseases either kill or permanently and adversely affect humans, particularly those with impaired resistance to them which, in temperate regions, is the majority.

Encephalitis, Dengue Fever and some forms of Malaria and Tuberculosis are particularly difficult to cure and often prove fatal.  Others, such as Asthma are rarely fatal if well managed but are exacerbated, becoming much more serious due to the presence of micro particles in the air caused by bushfires and dust-storms or worse, by an increase of atmospheric ozone.

While diseases causing diarrhea can be successfully treated, they weaken and disable those who contract them, usually from inadequately treated water but also from contaminated food.  For example, rising sea surface temperatures can increase the presence of vibrio cholerae found in fish and increase the likelihood of contamination in imported food. Children are more susceptible to cholera than adults and more likely to die without timely treatment. 

Sources:  WHO, Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica

The World Health Organisation estimates that global warming is already responsible for 150,000 deaths annually and that half of these occur in the Asia-Pacific region.  Mortality will increase as temperatures rise and vectors spread to more populated areas.

A particular danger is posed by the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes Albopictus, which is now present in the Torres Strait islands and Christmas Island.  It is able to survive in all Australian climates and is a dangerous vector.  Fruit bats are common in tropical areas but with global warming, their range will spread further south.  As carriers of the Nipah and Hendra viruses, they pose a special threat.

Increased Ozone:

Ozone is a molecular form of oxygen occurring at very low levels in the lower atmosphere.  It is produced from oxides of nitrogen (NO and NO2) and other volatile substances emitted into the air by vehicles, fuel stations and power stations every day of the week.  At present temperatures and in the presence of sunlight some of these oxides are transformed into Ozone, though seldom in such quantity that the ozone produced exceeds 40 parts per billion (ppb) for more than a few hours.

As global warming raises ambient temperatures, more of these substances are converted into ozone and its concentration in the lower atmosphere or troposphere rises.  This is one of the major reasons why we need to avoid an increase of more than 2°C in global temperatures.  However unless there is international agreement on significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions the amount of ozone produced from these substances could increase ozone to dangerous levels in the troposphere.

We can not live without oxygen (O2) but we can not live with ozone (O3).  The presence of ozone in the troposphere in concentrations above 40 parts per billion near the earths’ surface is corrosive and toxic to humans, other air breathing animals and many food plants.

Ozone attacks the cells of the airway and lungs causing them to swell, produce fluid and fail in their ability to provide us with sufficient oxygen or protect us from diseases such as asthma caused by allergy and emphysema caused by smoking cigarettes.

If global temperatures rise more than 2°C, ozone concentration in the lower atmosphere is likely to rise above 100 ppb, a level dangerous to health. The effects on humans of ozone at various concentrations for short periods of up to 8 hours exposure are known and indicated below: 



Effect on human health


No ill effects evident but may contribute to asthmatics being somewhat less well



Those sensitive to ozone may experience slight breathing difficulty with increased rate of respiration, possibly slight pain caused by inflammation of lung cells.  May cause healthy people to become asthmatic or experience longer times to recover from influenza.



Healthy individuals may experience the above.  Those sensitive to ozone will experience reduced lung function evidenced by the need to take deeper breaths more frequently, some pain arising from inflammation of lung cells and more frequent coughing.  Asthmatics are likely to experience an increase in breathing problems.



Healthy individuals will experience pain from inflammation and other damage of lungs, be limited in level of physical activity, frequent coughing and soreness, congestion with phlegm and other fluids emitted by damaged cells.  Those with pulmonary complaints (emphysema, asthma, tuberculosis, etc) or heart problems at increasing risk of dying.  Those without them are at increased risk of developing them.  Children and young adults at highest risk of lung damage and dying.


What is not known for certain is the effect of exposure to higher levels of ozone on a longer-term or permanent basis.  It is reasonable to assume that those effects would be more severe than indicated at Table 2 – and fatal.

Increased concentration of ozone in the atmosphere must and can be avoided by reducing emissions from which it is made and curbing global warming.


Global warming is a very real health risk and one which is already beginning to affect us.  It can kill us all and will do so if allowed to go unchecked.  We know the risks, we know the measures required to limit them.  The choice is ours.

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page


1  2  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 96:

  1. While I agree with everything written, there is another health issue that is only just touched on here and which I fear might be greater than these.

    Climate change will undoubtedly reduce the availability of food, through changes in the productivity of agricultural land and the scarcity of water (or the opposite; flooding). There's also the issue of acidification of the oceans which is likely to cause extinctions to some plankton species and thus impact on the availability of human food species further up the chain.

    While availability of food and/or water might not be considered directly a 'health' issue, it certainly plays a significant role in the ability of animal species -- including humans -- to stay healthy and fight off disease.
    0 0
  2. Thank you for posting, Agnostic. The Lancet medical journal has identified Climate Change as potentially the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century. Health professionals are trying to increase awareness of this. I do think your post would gain from some revision. Frustratingly, for example, there remain no specific treatments for the arthropod borne viral infections you list (e.g., Ross River virus). Also, the points need referencing, especially the part about ozone.

    Crop failure and famine is most certainly a health issue, as is conflict over resources, and extreme weather events. And dealing with all these things will carry a large opportunity cost as our health care systems are diverted from current preoccupations such as cancer and heart disease.
    0 0
  3. "The presence of ozone in the troposphere in concentrations above 40 parts per billion near the earths’ surface is corrosive and toxic to humans, other air breathing animals and many food plants."

    Numbers of people are commenting on ozone damage to people and food plants...there exists a pretty strong case for serious and rapidly developing damage to our trees as well - check out Wit's End blog

    There really is something happening!

    0 0
  4. Keen,

    Just my opinion, but I've seen Wit's End before, and I am dramatically under-impressed. It completely fails to make its case. In particular the links to research are almost entirely tangential, or not even research papers -- just articles and such.

    If ozone impact on trees is a real problem, scientists should study it and establish it as fact. For now, for me, it's pseudoscience, and it's also a distraction to real problems that we can credibly identify, like global warming. We have enough on our plate without trying to pile on everything we can possibly think of.
    0 0
  5. Jeekers, Sphaerica "underimpressed" with WitsEnd??

    You know, she only provides the links to sources - you actually have to read them.

    I found links to EPA studies, European studies, even studies from the Bush Administration and the National Crop Loss network. And a few hundred more at

    She has a printed book if you prefer paper. WitsEnd is only making it easier to find the content, you can find it on your own if you prefer.
    0 0
  6. Nicely done.
    0 0
  7. Thanks RPauli and DaveW. Sphaerica, you can download the book (for free!) as a pdf in dropbox here:

    I wrote it precisely so that there would be a compilation of sources - peer-reviewed, published science - with links and illustrations.

    Scientists have in fact been studying the effects of ozone on plants for many decades and the conclusion is that plants are more sensitive to ozone than people or animals. According to Peter Cox of MIT, 40 ppb is the threshold above which ozone damages plants, which absorb it through stomates in foliage and needles. In many parts of the world, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, 40 ppb is now the persistent background level of tropospheric ozone, while localized peaks are far above that. Even remote areas are impacted as precursors travel across oceans and continents, which has been tracked by satellite.

    It's well-established that the first impact is to roots, as plants are forced to allocate more energy to repair injury at the point of entry. Hence plants - including trees, perhaps especially since they are exposed to chronic, cumulative damage - are more vulnerable to drought and wind. By the time injury is visible on foliage (which is common by midsummer) internal damage has already occurred.

    Another well-established effect, observed in both field work and controlled fumigation experiments in both the US and Europe, is that outbreaks of insects, disease and fungus opportunistically attack plants and trees that are weakened by ozone. Hence many uninformed foresters and others who prefer not to blame industrial civilization for the global trend will blame biotic factors for the decline in forest health.
    0 0
  8. While there are certainly issues associated with climate change, there are errors and assumptions in this post.

    For instance, a paper by Dole, et al, 2011 concluded that the intense 2010 Russian heat wave was mainly due to natural internal atmospheric variability. Dole is employed in the Physical Sciences Division of the Earth System Research Laboratory at NOAA.

    And, for a 1 to 2 meter sea level rise to occur by 2100, it would require the average annual rate of SLR to increase by a rate of 3.7 to 7.3 times the current rate. Those numbers are well above the current upper bounds projected by the IPCC.
    0 0
  9. Xterrajack: You may want to compare Dole et al with Rahmstorf and Coumou (2011), and then read Otto et al (2012). This post at Real Climate is also relevant. The literature and methods on attribution of extreme events is developing quite rapidly at the moment.
    0 0
  10. There is a terrific current ozone data report at

    It covers the Puget Sound Region around the Seattle area. One can track particulates, NO3 - really you can make your own reports. It really is terrific - and other regions should have similar tracking.

    For instance, See Aug 17th select ozone in the location Enumclaw - or any area. Select Average or hourly measure. Some bad ozone that day - it was 95 degrees, sunny, low wind and lots of combustion pollution. (cough, cough)
    0 0
  11. It's my understanding that the IPCC predictions for SLR account for thermal expansion but not melting ice, since there is too much uncertainty in models. Given the speed with which ice is actually melting, it seems more than reasonable to assume that SLR will be much more substantial than IPCC projections. (a good summary of arctic ice is here:

    The Smog Blog has excellent graphs for US air quality:
    0 0
  12. There's also mental health. Which is going to impact developed nation more because of the greater relative effect.....
    0 0
  13. There is also the this direct effect which should be mentioned.....

    Global warming: Future temperatures could exceed livable limits ...
    5 May 2010 – Wet-bulb temperature is equivalent to what is felt when wet skin is exposed to moving air. ... The team used climate models to compare the peak wet-bulb temperatures to the .... Part of the iVillage Your Total Health Network ...
    0 0
  14. I have often tried to frame AGW in terms of rates of change and the limited ability of populations to cope with current rapid change. I think that the same thing is starting to show up in our infrastructure, which has been premised upon a stable climate. Who would have thought that heat waves could derail trains or effect nuclear plants? It also seems like a lot of the health hazards are rather cynically directed at the already-vulnerable, like children. I read about some decent adaptation/mitigation strategies - in Chicago they had public air conditioned facilities, which probably helped a lot of homeless people. But it seems like the resources invested in adaptation and mitigation could be better invested if we just cut our carbon habit. We didn't have those facilities here in the NC triangle, and it was pretty awful. I wrote about a lot of my thoughts on this here:
    0 0
  15. Xterrajack expresses two views doubting that AGW contributed to the Moscow heat wave (2010) and questioning the possibility of a 1-2m sea level rise by 2100. Both points have been responded to by Kevin C (9) and witsend (11) and I thank them for that.

    I would note that Coumou and Rahmstorf (2011) and Hansen et al (2011) come to the conclusion that AGW contributed to the Russian heatwave of 2010 and as noted above, there is growing evidence that in the absence of AGW it was unlikely to have occurred. See

    Recent data suggests SLR of 0.75 – 2m. by 2100. Hansen and Sato come to the view that SLR in the order of 5m by 2100 is a possible outcome of CO2 emissions continuing on a business as usual basis, a view which I accept. For the purposes of this blog on health, I have opted for the lower estimate. See
    0 0
  16. @Agnostic
    You wrote that
    "If global temperatures rise more than 2°C, ozone concentration in the lower atmosphere is likely to rise above 100 ppb,..."
    That suggests that the tropospheric average ozone would increase to that level, which is most likely not going to happen. Have a reference?

    You probably meant to say locally not globally.

    The actual expectation is that, while increases will also happen to "background" ozone globally, local exceedances of ozone will become more frequent due to higher temperatures. That relationship is observed everywhere and is a straightforward result of the reduced atmospheric lifetime of a major NOx reservoir, so-called peroxynitrates, into which NOx is sequestered at lower temperatures.
    0 0
  17. GWS: Yes, you are correct. Anthropogenic precursors for ozone formation are heaviest in areas of dense population resulting in the highest ozone concentration occurring regionally.
    0 0
  18. I've just spent the last hour looking into ozone counts around the world (as I'd heard it was a non-issue in relation to GW). I have to question Agnostic where that information comes from because there are plenty of papers out there showing no trend in ozone in various locations around the world (or a conclusion that no trend is detectable) for decades. Europe especially shows some regions where surface ozone has decreased over the last decade.

    The only conclusion I can make from looking at numerous papers is that since the mid-70's (when accurate recordings began around the world) it's clear there's no increasing or decreasing trend in surface ozone.

    Hence why I'm curious how one can conclude that ozone will increase due to GW, when it didn't through the high-climb of the 80's/90's.
    0 0
  19. 18, Dale,

    I'm just taking a shot at this answer, but...

    First, we've only seen about 0.6˚C of the 1.4˚C warming to which we have committed, and the likely 2˚C to 4.5˚C for which we are on track. You are unlikely to see an appreciable change in the measurement of ozone (yet) because we haven't yet seen the warming that will help separate the signal from the noise.

    This is true of a lot of denial reactions. "It hasn't happened yet" is not a valid argument against the proposition that it will happen. Your instinctive search for evidence that it has already happened, followed by an "ah ha" when it hasn't, is a symptom of a case of ostrichitis.

    Second, and more to the point, the chemistry of ozone creation is fairly clear. It is an endothermic reaction, meaning it requires heat (as well as ultraviolet light). [The reaction is exothermic, however increased temperatures do still increase the rate of reaction.] This means that higher temperatures will increase the rate of reaction, i.e. increase ozone production.

    California is the perfect testbed. Ozone is already worse in parts of California in the summer months than many places, and California will feel the effects of increased ozone from GW that much more.

    Ozone is high in California in the summer when skies are clear (letting in the UV) while temperatures are high (speeding the reaction). This is further complicated in California because air inversions are common, which prevent the newly created ozone, as well as pollutants that contribute to its generation, from dispersing.

    Will everyone everywhere have to worry about ozone? No. Is it an immediate problem, that will affect us right now? No, I don't think so. Is it something that can be ignored?

    Absolutely not.
    0 0
  20. Sphaerica @19
    I ask because I'm curious (I'm in Australia, so UV and ozone are of concern for me), not to say "ah ha".

    I had a look at CA readings via the EPA site ( At the bottom it has 2001-2010 readings per state. This is why I'm curious because observation (so far) does not support the claim. I assume this is another "it's coming, and it's bad" thing?
    0 0
  21. Sphaerica

    I'm pretty sure more than 0.6C warming due to GHGs has already been realised.
    0 0
  22. Dale@20,

    The claim that AGW will increase formation of O3 is supported by simple chemistry as explained by Spherica@19. It's so simple that you don't need to look for past trends to confirm that.

    However while you're looking at past treands you must remember, that O3 formation in troposphere depends largely not only on temperature, but also on the NOX & VOC emissions from vehicles, diesels & power plants. Your methods of research suggests that you do not take that second dependency into consideration.

    The reason of the decline in background O3 since 2000 is the decreased above emissions due to some successful regulations by EPA. You can read about it e.g. here.

    Finally, please note, that background O3 levels might rise very slightly due to AGW (indistinguishable from background noise of local NOX/VOC pollution) the effects of O3 levels on health are non-linear, just like in case of extrere weather events). Therefore locally, especially in large cities, O3 extremes, reinforced by weather extremes will become more serious when mean temperature shifts to the right. Jim Hansen's climate dice analogy also applies here.
    0 0
  23. Dale,

    Following your links and looking at the graphs... they are 100% inapplicable.

    We are not saying that net ozone production will increase. Ozone levels are a rate-of-reaction thing between the competing pathways to create and destroy ozone. It's constantly going on, and usually in fair balance.

    Your average for an entire state for an entire month is going to be meaningless, as is (for this purpose) any trend. The trends you see probably have more to do with increasing air quality (i.e. removing pollutants that contribute to/catalyze ozone production) than anything else.

    For global warming, I believe we are talking about the sort of scenario I pointed out in California, for example, a case where an unusual heat wave hits with clear skies and a local inversion -- this causes ozone levels to rise to dangerous levels (for people) for a few days in a very local area (say Los Angeles, for example).

    I think you can see how this will not show up in the statistics you demonstrated. What you'd really want is a tally, by city, for number of days of ozone above a certain threshold, to see if that's increasing over time. Even then, it wouldn't apply to all cities. Ozone may never be a problem in Minneapolis. That doesn't mean it won't be a problem anywhere, though.
    0 0
  24. For anyone wishing to research this further (there is a lot of health information available on ozone), search specifically for "ground-level ozone".
    0 0
  25. Sphaerica
    At the bottom of the page I linked to above is the data for individual stations. LA is one of the CA ones. For those who don't want to download and look, the trend is decreasing.

    I would have thought considering the temperature increase over the last few decades that we'd already be seeing thermal inversion impacts. Yet observations around the world do not show this occurring. Temps have increased between 0.6-0.8C (depending which graph you look at) since 1970. How much does it need to rise before any of the predictions start occurring?

    Like you say, it's to do with reducing pollants that has caused the reduction. It's nothing to do with GW. I'm glad we agree on that. If you've only got the building blocks to create ten ozone molecules, it doesn't matter how much higher the temp is, or how much more sun hits the air, you're only going to get ten ozone molecules.

    BTW, here's another link showing how the number of "bad ozone days" is reducing in LA. (
    0 0
  26. Dale,

    First, your chemistry is out of whack. The only building block one needs to create ozone is O2. Pollutants accelerate the production of ozone, but are not necessary. So your statement that "it doesn't matter how much higher the temp is" is completely false. In either a polluted or a pollution free environment higher temperatures coupled with UV radiation will produce more ozone.

    But for now, in a pollution-intense environment, reducing pollutants is having a notable effect.

    Your statement on thermal inversion impacts is confusing. Inversions are a local phenomenon, caused by many local factors. What does global warming have to do with more inversions? Inversions will simply help to create an environment where global warming can cause more days of dangerously high ozone levels.

    I already addressed your statement about trends. Monthly and annual averages are useless because if you double the "dangerous ozone level days" from 2 to 4, your average may still drop because ozone levels other days drop.

    All the trends now show is that anti-pollution action is helping. It says nothing whatsoever about global warming.

    At the same time, once again... there are many effects that you will not statistically recognize after 0.6˚C to 0.8˚C of warming, effects that will be very pronounced with 2˚C to 4˚C of warming.

    You are like the man who jumped from the top of the skyscraper, and was heard to say every time he passed an open window: "so far, so good."

    Lastly, you previously said:
    I ask because I'm curious (I'm in Australia, so UV and ozone are of concern for me), not to say "ah ha".

    Yet you are insistent on the tired old meme that "it hasn't happened yet, so it won't happen." You should look at this recent post about how Patrick Michaels did the same thing back in 1990.

    You've been given explanations as to why your logic is flawed, and yet you cling to the hope that this is a non-issue, and you close your eyes to the problem.

    Sorry, Dale. From what I can see, you're a climate ostrich.
    0 0
  27. Sphaerica
    You brought up inversions increasing not me.

    I am curious why you refuse to look at the data I linked. It is max hourly count, not monthly average.

    We have already agreed this has nothing to do with GW and I am glad you agree. That was the basis of my original post in this thread, that ozone is a non issue in terms of GW.

    You speak of the chemistry. Firstly, ozone relies on solar intensity, not heat. So GW will not cause more ozone. Secondly natural ozone is created and destroyed just as quickly as the oxygen atom is very fluid in its movements. Thirdly, UV and O2 are the prime building blocks, but pollutants can substitute to create the required O atom. Natural ozone is in balance as it creates and destroys evenly. Human pollutants have increased the number of building blocks, but as I said, if you only have the building blocks to create X ozone, you cannot get X+Y ozone from changing anything except the amount of pollution. Heat has nothing to do with ozone creation, so GW has nothing to do with ozone creation.

    Thus, ozone is a pollution issue, not a GW issue as this article implies.
    0 0
  28. The US-based organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) has this to say about the connection between global warming and ground-level ozone.

    “Hotter temperatures will speed the formation of ground-level ozone, the main component of smog.”

    This statement is contained a summary of how global warming impacts air pollution posted on the PSR website. To access this summary, click here.

    I do believe that the staff of PSR is more knowledgable about this matter than is Dale.
    0 0
  29. Dale, you are purposely not listening and spewing nonsense.

    The trend is a reflection of greatly reduced pollutants, which overwhelms any GW signal.

    Any GW signal will probably require temperatures greater than the warming we've seen so far, but that does not make the problem non-existent. The "it hasn't happened yet" denier safeguard is useless. See the skyscraper parable given to you previously.

    Don't use annoying debate tactics like "I am glad you agree." It's childish.

    The only thing I agree with is that improvements in pollution are overwhelming any GW effects, and that any such effects will be more pronounced in the future.

    Chemistry: The creation of ozone increases with increased temperature, so GW will produce more ozone.

    Secondly, everything in chemistry is competing rates of reaction. When the reaction to produce ozone accelerates (for instance due to increased heat due to GW), then you wind up with a more of that product, meaning a greater concentration of ozone.

    Thirdly, yes, of course, pollutants affect things. We've discussed this. Ho hum.

    Fourth, if natural ozone is in balance (always) then why do so many weather and environmental services report on daily ozone levels with warning ratings like "hazardous levels" and public health warnings such as this one. Why is this a big health issue? This ("Natural ozone is in balance as it creates and destroys evenly") is the most ridiculous claim you've tried to make.

    Temperature does have a lot to do with ozone creation, and you are printing flat out, easily fact-checked lies.

    NASA: Ozone and climate change
    What is ozone?
    Ozone and climate at the surface
    Tropospheric ultraviolet radiation: Assessment of existing data and effect on ozone formation (Gery et al, 1987)

    [Note that I earlier stated that the reaction for formation of ozone was endothermic. This was in error. However, increased temperatures do increase photochemical reaction rates and so do affect ozone creation.]

    So much for your claims of "just being curious." The climate ostrich sticks his head in the sand to get away from the heat.
    0 0
  30. Dale (or anyone else): Try going to google and typing:
    ozone ground temperature
    and see what you find.

    And in the future, ignore kitchen-pseudo-science, like someone who goes to find ozone trends and then mangles that somehow into proof that global warming isn't a problem.
    0 0
  31. Sphaerica@29: in any other thread, your response may well have been adjudicated as too ad hom-my, but, in regards to a recent thread, about how and when it's apropos to fight denialism directly and with forthright honesty, I'd say your series of responses to Dale hit ~juuuust~ the right tenor.

    It's a tenor with which I agree, and have been using for quite some time now. We scientists have been classically risk averse, as regards stomping on untruths, blatant cherry-picks, and outright mischaracterization of the extant data and research.

    *No more.*

    It's with this spirit we all must fight, for if anything has been made more clear than we are running out of time for this kind of "ostrichism" (a term you said earlier, and which I'm going to *steal*!), I'm not sure what has.

    A friend of mine who works at JPL, who is *very* into this field (thermodynamics, heat balance, et al), rightly pointed out once that science is a kind of blood sport: We tend not to go ad hom, but ad argumentum? Katy, bar the door! Larry has the chops...

    Development of a microminiature sorption cooler

    Well-played, and thanks for the posts.

    Dale, for your part, if you are actually interested in being an honest skeptic, rather than the fake one you seem to appear to be, please do join in, with rational facts and analysis, and support your assertions. Otherwise, there is no time for this kind of "watch my hands, nothing here to see."
    0 0
  32. Alas, I cannot take credit for "ostrich."

    Dr. Richard Alley and Peter Sinclair have been using the term for a while, and recently Neal King proposed that it be used as a replacement for "denier," since they loathe the term so much -- something I intend to do much of the time, but not all of the time.

    So please, feel free... call a climate ostrich a "climate ostrich" and make it clear to everyone what they are doing and how they are behaving.
    0 0
  33. But, I NEVER heard them use the *delicious* term, 'ostrichism," Sph! H/T for that term!
    0 0
  34. FWIW: I drove to the top of Mt. Evans (14,265 ft, 4348 m)this past Monday, in my E Type, and it's the VERY first time I'd done that drive (many, many times, over the years, and saw *not a single bit* of snow, anywhere. That is highly unusual. There are numerous other signs in the state as to warming of the globes...

    The Global Warmings

    For fun, if I may be allowed, here is last year's drive.

    Mt. Evans snow patches 2011
    0 0
  35. vrooomie,

    Reply about "ostrichism" posted here.
    0 0
  36. Sphaerica
    (-Snip-) Photolysis is the chemical breakdown due to LIGHT not heat. Heat plays no part in photolysis. This has been experimental proven and is actually a first year chemistry experiment (exposing various gasses to bursts of light and observing).

    Natural ozone production/destruction is a balanced process. The seasonal variation of biogenic NMVOC's is stable and shown via ice cores and proxies to be stable pre-1800 for thousands of years. And yes, this is during temperature fluxes over time. If heat had anything to do with it, then you would expect ozone to vary with temperature pre-1800. Post 1800 industrial processes have increased ozone production/destruction to the point where anthropogenic and natural sources of precursors are about the same in industrialised areas. In rural areas, NMVOC's are still the main component of the ozone cycle.

    Two things that can impact the levels of biogenic NMVOC's is CO2 and stratospheric ozone incursions. CO2 causes plants to reduce the openings in the stomata which reduces the amount of biogenic NMVOC's. As stratospheric ozone recovers (due to Montreal) we should expect to see increased stratospheric ozone incursions into the troposphere.

    So the bottom line is, as I've been saying GW has nothing to do with ozone production. If it did, that would show in ice cores and other proxies pre-1800. Thankfully due to EPA controls and Montreal human based precursors are dropping. But surface ozone is not something that can be completely eliminated because of biogenic NMVOC's.

    BTW, here's a nice little study which actually states clearly that temperature had no affect on ozone creation in Siberia. And there's plenty more where that came from. ( Here's also another nice PPT which describes the entire process very nicely. (

    I go back and put my head in the sand now.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: Inflammatory snipped.
  37. Dale, you are welcome to put your head in the sand anytime you want. Some definitions of photolysis:

    pho·tol·y·sis (f-tl-ss) n.
    Chemical decomposition induced by light or other radiant energy.
    photo·lytic (ft-ltk) adj.
    photo·lyti·cal·ly adv.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009.

    photolysis [fəʊˈtɒlɪsɪs] n
    (Chemistry) chemical decomposition caused by light or other electromagnetic radiation
    photolytic [ˌfəʊtəʊˈlɪtɪk] adj

    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    photolysis (f-tl-ss)
    Chemical decomposition induced by light or other radiant energy.

    The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

    In the case of AGW, increasing levels of CO2 increase those other forms of radiant energy (i.e., "back-radiation")...
    0 0
  38. Dale,

    Follow some references. Learn instead of trying to instruct. Dozens upon dozens of documents, from NASA to the EPA to individual scientists state that increased temperature increases ground-level ozone levels.

    Basic chemistry, two steps:

    O2 + uv --> O + O [UV breaks O2 into 2 separate O]

    O2 + O --> O3 [A collision combines O2 with O to make O3]

    The first step depends on UV. The second step depends, as is very common in chemistry, on collisions. Increased temperature increases the velocity of the molecules and through that the number of collisions, i.e. the chance of the reaction taking place.

    Readers can:

    1) Believe you

    2) Believe a plethora of qualified scientists, chemists, and scientific organizations (NASA, the EPA, the IPCC, the Union of Concerned Scientists, The Environmental Literacy Council, the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, The government of New South Wales, the IPCC again, the Australian government's Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities).

    Really? You want people to trust the Department of Dale, Ostriches and Questionable Trends?
    0 0
  39. The irony of your list of links is that none of them discuss temperature regulating the construction of ozone. A couple discuss how temperature can affect the amount of precursors, but none say "temperature increases ozone production".

    You also didn't explain how proxy O3 records show pre-1800 ozone levels being stable for thousands of years, when if as you say temperature affects ozone production, proxy levels should rise and fall with the temperature proxies over the centuries.
    0 0
  40. Dale, more and more, you are sounding like a troll, and if not, purposely and willfully ignorant, in the sense of ignoring blatant references to what you assert is not said.


    "A couple discuss how temperature can affect the amount of precursors, but none say "temperature increases ozone production."

    From the North Carolina link:

    "Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen oxides (NOx) react with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight and heat. Sunlight is necessary to start the chemical reactions that form ozone, and heat is important to make the chemical reactions more efficient."

    Just how do you interpret that statement as 'temperature doesn't cause O3 production?

    From the same source [asterisks mine]:

    "Sunlight is necessary to start the chemical reactions that form ozone, and *heat is important to make the chemical reactions more efficient.* Ozone is primarily a problem during the summer months when long days deliver plenty of sunlight and when temperatures are warmest. In most areas of North Carolina, ozone levels peak during mid-afternoon through evening, when temperatures are higher, then drop at night, and are lowest around dawn. However, at high elevations (above 4,000 feet) in the mountains, ozone levels can remain high throughout the day and actually reach their highest values overnight."

    Dale, it really appears that you are *not* concerned with pursuing scientific truth, but simply engaging in Gish Gallops of mis/disinformation.
    0 0
  41. "Dale, it really appears that you are *not* concerned with pursuing scientific truth, but simply engaging in Gish Gallops of mis/disinformation."
    Agreed. Indeed, that has long been Dale's MO in this venue. And the focus on the misinformation/disinformation rather than the science grows tiresome.
    0 0
  42. Dale,
    The irony of your list of links is that none of them discuss temperature regulating the construction of ozone

    Can you read? Are you really in that much denial? You really need to flat out lie in your posts, when anyone who wishes to can check the veracity of your claims?

    [Note to all participants: In the future, whenever Dale posts lies, please link directly to this thread.]

    From the Nasa link, under Ozone and Climate at the Surface:
    In general, an increase in temperature accelerates photochemical reaction rates. Scientists find a strong correlation between higher ozone levels and warmer days. With higher temperatures, we can expect a larger number of "bad ozone" days, when exercising regularly outdoors harms the lungs.
    From the EPA link:
    Many factors impact ground-level ozone development, including temperature, wind speed and direction, time of day, and driving patterns. Due to its dependence on weather conditions, ozone is typically a summertime pollutant and a chief component of summertime smog.
    From the first IPCC link:
    ...strongly relate to ambient levels of sulfur dioxide and ozone and to temperature...
    Many studies have focused on the relationship between temperature and ozone concentrations (Wolff and Lioy, 1978; Atwater, 1984; Kuntasal and Chang, 1987; Wackter and Bayly, 1988; Wakim, 1989). For example, the large increase in ozone concentrations at ground level in 1988 in the United States and in parts of southern Canada can be attributed, in part, to meteorological conditions; 1988 was the third-hottest summer in the past 100 years. In general, the aforementioned studies suggest a nonlinear relationship between temperature and ozone concentrations at ground level...
    Regression analyses have revealed that high temperatures are a necessary condition for high ozone concentrations at ground level;
    From the Union of Concerned Scientists:
    Here’s the connection: warmer temperatures increase ground-level ozone. That’s why we hear warnings of “bad air days” due to ozone pollution most often during the summer and on cloud-free days.
    From the Environmental Literacy Council link:
    Ozone is not emitted directly into the air; it is formed through a complex series of reactions from nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and sunlight during periods of elevated temperature.
    Ground-level ozone levels increase in the spring and summer when there is more sunlight and temperatures are higher. Formation of ozone is lowest in the morning and highest in the late afternoon when sunlight intensity and temperature peak.
    From the North Carolina Division of Air Quality link:
    Ozone is primarily a problem during the summer months, when heat and sunlight are more intense. Ozone levels also vary on a daily basis. Ozone levels peak in the afternoon, when temperatures are higher.
    From the government of New South Wales link:
    Hotter temperatures resulting from climate change can reduce our air quality by creating good conditions for particle pollution and ground level ozone.
    From the second IPCC link:
    Formation and destruction of ozone is accelerated by increases in temperature and ultraviolet radiation.
    From the Australian government Dept. of lots of stuff link:
    Ozone is one of the main photochemical oxidants. ... Environment agencies measure the level of ozone because it indicates the total amount of photochemical oxidants in the air. Cities that have abundant sunshine over periods of time, together with moderate winds and high temperatures, are most likely to experience high levels of photochemical oxidants.
    Really? "none of them discuss temperature regulating the construction of ozone?" Really?
    0 0
  43. Dale,
    You also didn't explain how proxy O3 records show pre-1800 ozone levels being stable for thousands of years, when if as you say temperature affects ozone production, proxy levels should rise and fall with the temperature proxies over the centuries.
    You say this because you don't understand the problem or the chemistry.

    1) Do you really think that Greenland or Antarctic ice cores can in any way reflect the frequency of unusually high peak afternoon ozone levels at the surface in specific locations (e.g. Houston or Los Angeles or Sydney)?

    2) Anthropogenic pollutants absolutely are a major factor, and I will grant you that those did not exist in the past. I will also grant you that if we could completely eliminate such pollutants, this aspect of global warming might be considered minor, because without the pollutants, ozone levels might rarely reach dangerous levels (I don't know that, I'm putting it out as a possibility).

    But seeing as how many climate ostriches there are in the world, not to mention pollution ostriches, do you really think that we can ignore global warming because we are going to completely scrub the air of all other pollutants?

    Come on Dale, you're not even trying.

    Climate ostrich.
    0 0
  44. "Ostracizing onerous, obnoxious ostriches"

    as a musician, it seems to me there's a song in there, somewhere...;)

    DB@41, correct: This gets *extremely* tiresome but a loooong time ago, I committed to ~not~ being worn down by this incessant regurgitation of mis/dis ( a new shorthand!) that emanates from the denialosphere. The stakes are simply too important.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [Sph] A new line for the Carole King song Alligators All Around!
  45. Wow,'s only been about a ~hundred~ years since I thought of *that* song...might have to give it go!

    Gosh only knows we need a song to lighten the spirit!
    0 0
  46. From the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, concerning ozone levels in ice core proxies:
    The short atmospheric lifetime of ozone (hours-days) together with the spatial variability of its sources precludes a globally or vertically homogeneous distribution, so that a fractional unit such as parts per billion would not apply over a range of altitudes or geographical locations. Therefore a different unit is used to integrate the varying concentrations of ozone in the vertical dimension over a unit area, and the results can then be averaged globally. This unit is called a Dobson Unit (D.U.), after G. M. B. Dobson, one of the first investigators of atmospheric ozone. A Dobson unit is the amount of ozone in a column which, unmixed with the rest of the atmosphere, would be 10 micrometers thick at standard temperature and pressure.
    0 0
  47. In his comment #36, Dale asserts:

    "As stratospheric ozone recovers (due to Montreal) we should expect to see increased stratospheric ozone incursions into the troposphere."

    Is there any scientific evidence supporting this assertion?
    0 0
  48. John, since by definition there is no convection operating above the tropopause, I would say the "incursions" by diffusion would be too small to be measurable. Furthermore, it is only persistent in cold, dry condition. Within the lower troposphere, its half-life is a matter of days.
    0 0
  49. John @47
    Some info:
    Incursions account for 18% of tropospheric ozone according to them.

    Interestingly, chemists have had a formula for calculating ozone formation for years. Look up Leighton's Relationship. Formation is reliant on UV-light, thus solar intensity and solar zenith, not temperature.

    Heat can impact the generation of pre-cursors, but not the formation or destruction of ozone itself.

    BTW, a Nobel Prize for Chemistry was given in 1995 to three scientists who worked on ozone formation. These folks all say it's UV-light, not heat that determines ozone formation.

    Hope you don't mind, but I'm going to take the word of chemists this time.
    0 0
  50. Dale,

    Let's see... you, through your talented use of Wikipedia could be correct, and NASA, the EPA, and a host of government and non-government organizations and the scientists in their employ could all be wrong, or...

    ... chemistry and science could be just a little more complex than your (overly-simplistic, Google-based) view allows. There may be other reactants and reactions (see previous comments about pollutants), and maybe the whole thing is just a little more complicated than your five line Wikipedia entry might lead you to believe.

    In which case, once again, we get back to the fact that, as the entire world except for climate ostrich Dale seems to understand, temperature affects ground-level ozone production and global warming will therefore increase the frequency of hazardous ozone days in some regions.

    BTW, the Nobel price to which you refer covers the ozone layer and stratospheric ozone formation, which is very, very different from ground-level ozone. You have made that mistake repeatedly here, and cannot seem to grasp the concept.
    0 0

1  2  Next

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

Smartphone Apps


© Copyright 2018 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us