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Matthew Huber of Purdue University  (Source:
The paper describes what would happen to humans and other mammals if global temperatures were to rise a certain amount over the course of this century

A Purdue climatologist has published a paper that questions, "How much warming can humans physically handle?"

Matthew Huber, a Purdue University climatologist, wrote a scientific paper that describes what would happen to humans and other mammals if expected rises in global temperature were to occur by the year 2100. Average estimates from certain models land in the 3 to 4 degrees Celsius range, while others predict 10 or even 20 degree hikes.

Using a measurement technique called "wet-bulb temperature," Huber and Sherwood were able to model what would happen to humans if the 3, 4, 10 or 20 degree increases were to occur by 2100. The wet-bulb temperature method consists of a thermometer bulb wrapped in wet cloth and ventilated, which represents the most perfect scenario for a human to withstand increasing global temperatures: a naked, healthy adult standing in the shade while drinking gallons and gallons of water. Any other scenario that strays from this perfect example would place heat-related stress on a person or mammal to some degree depending on the increase in global temperature.

"We intentionally were trying to explore the upper limit of what humans can possibly stand," said Huber. "Essentially we were assuming a perfectly acclimated person, in perfect health, not performing physical labor, and out of the sun, and were then asking, 'What would it take to kill them quickly?' A real person would be profoundly uncomfortable, miserable and/or sick long before we reach the limit discussed in our paper. Infants, pregnant women, and the elderly would be especially vulnerable long before we hit the limit discussed.

"Thus, the global mean temperature increase of about >10°C that causes widespread heat death in our paper probably is a significant overestimate of the threshold at which substantial harm [would come] to societies and individuals would suffer harm and/or reduced productivity. Put in more prosaic terms, large parts of the world would be violating OSHA and international health standards for work long before we approach this >10°C threshold. But we wanted to be sure we had a limit set by physical and thermodynamic laws and not by human ones (since those are mutable)."

According to Huber, it's most important for the world to set a goal of what temperature increase to avoid. He believes avoiding a 2 degree Celsius increase by 2100 would be impossible by this point, but maybe a 6 degree (and definitely 10 degree) increase is preventable if the proper actions are taken.

If a 10 or 12 degree global temperature increase was achieved by 2100, Huber said people would likely be dying in the streets or running to air conditioned-only locations. However, increased air conditioning can lead to power grid issues, and the grid is strained enough as it is.

What would the world be like if we hit a 12 degree Celsius increase?

"My nightmare," said Huber. "I'm in Oklahoma on a hot summer day. Under a heat lamp. Running. Wrapped in plastic."

There is much debate over whether climate models are correct or not, so Huber's method of basing his results of off many of them (which have varied results of 3 to 20 degree Celsius predicted hikes by 2100) have caused scientists to be skeptical.

"The models aren't perfect," said Huber. "The thing to ask is, are they biased to produce a world that is too warm or too cold in the future? For 30 years, climate modelers have compared simulations of past climate change (glacial intervals, greenhouse climates such as the Eocene) against data and found that models get the general climate right but that they are systematically biased to be somewhat too insensitive to forcing. In other words, what modeling of past climates tells us is that these models are—if anything—biased to underpredict future climate change."

Another question addressed is whether humans can adapt to the increase in global temperature. Huber seems to think some can through burrowing, staying near bodies of water, reducing activities and becoming more active at night.

"The most direct way for humans to respond physiologically, which would take thousands of years if at all (we are most likely to change our behaviors) is to get small and skinny, to decrease our volume and maximize our surface area so we can lose heat more effectively," said Huber.

Earlier this week, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said that manmade global warming has been overexaggerated, and that humans could easily adapt to rising global temperatures. He also blamed a lazy press, illiterate public and fear-mongering advocacy groups for the bad light placed on the oil industry.

"We have spent our entire existence adapting," said Tillerson. "We'll adapt. It's an engineering problem and there will be an engineering solution."

Huber and Sherwood's paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Mother Jones

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By Tony Swash on 7/3/2012 3:24:45 PM , Rating: 3
Are you kidding/sarcastic? This decade alone has produced temperatures that have broken one record after another consecutively. As I speak its 103 degrees outside in North Carolina and has been as such for the past week!

And we in the UK recently had a December that was the coldest for a hundred years and this June is the wettest on record and very cold. What you are talking about is local weather. The weather is a chaotic system and it will produce once in a decade, once in a hundred years and once in a millennium record events, and such records will be being set somewhere almost every day. We have only been accurately measuring weather in most places for a hundred years or so.

What is under discussion is the average global temperature. And that has not increased since at least 1998 and possibly (depending on whose measurement you use) since 1994.

In relation to record breaking events you may want to look at this web page which has some interesting information and links relating to weather records.

By EnzoFX on 7/3/2012 4:51:05 PM , Rating: 4
More stable doesn't mean unaffected. Ignorance. He did say it was the coldest winter in a long time, you do realize that's part of climate change... More ignorance.

By HurleyBird on 7/3/2012 6:19:28 PM , Rating: 4
The climate is always changing. It's not man made.

It is, however, man influenced. Nobody intelligent denies that. The question is, how much, and by what methods. Even taking GHG emissions out of the picture entirely, man would still be influencing the climate with land use changes, urban heat islands, airliners interacting with cloud cover, waste heat, etc.

By HurleyBird on 7/3/2012 6:13:09 PM , Rating: 3
More stable doesn't mean unaffected. Ignorance. He did say it was the coldest winter in a long time, you do realize that's part of climate change... More ignorance.

Trying to twist colder temperatures into evidence for global warming is the ultimate ignorance, equal to those on the other side who deny the greenhouse effect entirely.

In order for any idea to be scientific, there needs to be conditions that disprove it. When everything you see, even contradictory evidence, is proof that global warming is real you're no longer thinking in the realm of science -- you're in the realm of religious zealotry.

Devastatingly cold winters in Britain we're local weather. They no more disprove global warming than a record high in some other region proves it. Only global data matters, and those who use local temperatures and weather to argue their points are quite simply pushing an agenda.

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