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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 10/27/2008

Freedman: Planning Your Global Warming Vacation

By Andrew Freedman

Will the icy Arctic landscape be a tourist destination in future decades? Image courtesy NOAA.

Whether it is by writing about melting Arctic sea ice or covering the scientific evidence pointing to increasingly intense hurricanes, reporting most climate change science news makes me feel like such a 'Debbie Downer.' I sometimes wonder if people will soon tune out (or have already tuned out) climate science news because it is too depressing, or if scientists' warnings that the most severe consequences of climate change can be averted will lead to positive developments.

This week the dark clouds above me briefly brightened when I saw an article in Forbes Traveler magazine that detailed how climate change will open up new travel destinations in the not-too-distant future.

Could our nearby beaches be year-round warm weather destinations by the end of the century? Keep reading. For the chilly outlook for the here and now, see our full forecast.

Now there's an interesting positive spin to put on the problem, I thought. After all, the climate of a location is a key determinant of whether or not it's an attractive spot for a vacation. For example, no one vacations in Siberia, because it's too cold, or in Death Valley, California, because it's too hot (and has an intimidating name). Instead, like Goldilocks, we like temperatures in the middle range, and most travel spots are 'just right.'

I'm skeptical of those who tend to look only at the bright side of climate change, considering that the vast majority of assessments written on the aggregate effects of global warming have concluded that the balance of impacts will be negative. When I saw the headline of the Forbes story, "Global Warming's Winners," I worried it would be another attempt to gloss over the myriad detrimental effects of climate change and instead portray it as a global redistribution of benefits.

I feared it might say something along the lines of, "You may not be able to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef anymore, since warmer water temperatures are killing the reef, but you can take up rock climbing and buy a timeshare in the newly-warm and inviting Yukon Territory!"

However, the article actually wound up depressing me more when I realized how many of my favorite vacation spots - such as Sanibel Island, Florida, and Vail, Colorado, are at risk from climate change.

The Forbes piece focused on locations that warming might transform from inaccessible into viable travel destinations by the year 2100. The Arctic topped their list, along with many other high latitude regions.

"Many previously undesirable locations farther from the equator, or at higher altitudes, could become much more inviting," author David Hirschman wrote. "The most obvious tourism beneficiary of global warming will be the Arctic, which is already experiencing dramatic climate change."

The story quoted two well-known climate scientists, Michael Mann of Penn State University and Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, as saying that the Arctic will look increasingly attractive to tourists in the summertime. "Certainly," Holland said, "any island up in the Arctic circle area will become a lot more temperate."

According to the Forbes piece, more people may forgo a Caribbean cruise due to increasingly intense hurricanes in that region, and opt instead for a sail across the newly milder North Pole or even through the Northwest Passage, which was open for a brief period this past summer.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) most recent assessment report on climate change, released last year, supports some of the assertions in the article. The most well grounded scenario involves the warming Arctic, where tourism is already increasing as sea ice has rapidly melted towards an ice-free Arctic Ocean in future summers. A recent federal report included additional evidence of sharp declines in summertime sea ice coverage.

There also exists some evidence to back up Hirschman's more speculative assertions, including the notion that ski areas will shift far north into the Canadian Rockies and the prediction that beach destinations would move from the Caribbean and Southeast U.S. coast up into New England.

"Snowbirds may choose to winter instead in the Northeast, where Delaware, New Jersey and New York will offer temperate beachfronts year-round," the article states.

That last point didn't make much sense to me, considering that most snowbirds actually originate in the northeastern U.S. Wouldn't that mean that they would just stay home year round? That would decimate the buffet restaurant business in South Florida.

In summary, despite the poor choice of title, the Forbes article helps convey the difficulty involved with finding and focusing on only the positive impacts of climate change. The bottom line is that with climate change, there will likely be more losers than winners -- assuming it warms as much as (or more than) the best estimate projections (the IPCC projects a global average 3-7 degree Fahrenheit rise by 2100). But we may be able to vacation in some of the areas that come out ahead.

By Andrew Freedman  | October 27, 2008; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman  
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Andrew, it's not the steady discussion of potential negative impacts that I tend to tune out in the climate change debate. Rather, it's the relentless rejection of opposite opinions so prevalent on both sides of this debate. I try to glean what facts I can from all arguments, and ignore the baiting and snide comments that seem to characterize opposition on either side.

Posted by: --sg | October 27, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Traveling to exotic locations just for the heck of it..... isn't that just a wee bit of an unnecessary production of CO2? According to you, doesn't that lead to global warming?

If you had your way, would ordinary people be allowed to take vacations? Would we need to purchase carbon offsets?

What liberties do you advocate that we surrender, Mr. Freedman? Seriously. I am curious.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | October 27, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

According to the new book ( ) published by the US Geological Survey, " Most (99%) glaciers in every mountain range and island group in Alaska are experiencing significant retreat, thinning or stagnation, especially glaciers at lower elevations. "

The authors also note that, " ice-capped Alaska volcanoes also have the potential for jökulhlaups (glacier-outburst floods) caused by sub-glacier volcanic and geothermal activity".

So, if one wishes to focus on the positive aspects of warming, glacier melting atop volcanoes might eventually eliminate this danger. In fact, from this perspective (only) the faster and more intense the warming the better!

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | October 27, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

--sg sums up my perspective very well. Growing up in Canada, I tend to be very pragmatic by nature and sympathetic to environmental issues.

Here is my current view and I welcome any facts to help me refine it:

1. The earth's atmosphere was warming at least up until the late 90's or early 00s. Land data says its still warming, satellite data says its cooling. CWG has no answer as to why one should ignore the satellite data (more uniform?) and just use the land data (less coverage).

2. Man made GHG are a warming force. Scientifically this is a fact.

3. The planet has natural warming and cooling cycles that scientists do not, even now, fully understand.

4. The hockey stick graph has been discredited. ie, the MWP really did exist and is not a myth.

5. According to NSIDC, arctic ice coverage is rapidly recovering, approaching the longer term average.

So where does that leave us? Could the reality on the ground be that the earth's natural cycles imply a cooling phase that might be attenuated by GHG? Could GHG emissions overwhelm a natural cooling cycle? Is recent cooling indicated by satellite temp measurements anomalous? How? Do sunspots matter? Cosmic rays? Clouds? Lots of questions.

IMO, a large, multi-disciplinary study involving scientists from both sides of the debate should be attempted to try to measure each of the myriad factors influencing our climate.


Posted by: RMVA | October 28, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

RMVA said, "Land data says its still warming, satellite data says its cooling. CWG has no answer as to why one should ignore the satellite data (more uniform?) and just use the land data (less coverage)."

That isn't entirely true.

According to NOAA's own land based and ocean temperature based measurements, the climate is indeed cooling.

And according to HadCRUT's land based temperature data, the global climate is cooling. Look at that graph and imagine what the trend line would look like from 1998 forward. You don't need someone to draw the line for you. The trend is soooooooooooo obvious that it is undeniable.

Mr. Freedman and his followers ignore all land based temperature data, with the exception of NASA's temperature data. Which just coincidentally is maintained by the very same person who is one of the biggest advocates of the catastrophic man made global warming theory. Funny how that temperature set show warming that none of the other temperature sets, land based and satellite based, show.

And thank you for pointing out that the MWP was real and not a myth. I am appalled that some scientists literally set out to "get rid of the Medieval Warm Period." and then they did it!! They set out to rewrite all prior science and then did it! And the media was totally silent.

Mr. Freedman asked for suggestions for articles a long time ago. There is a good topic, Mr. Freedman. Why don't you do a column that details how some scientists set out to "get rid of the Medieval Warm Period", and then THEY DID IT! Agenda driven science!! And no one in the media said, "Dang. That is odd. Where did the MWP go?"

But Mr. Freedman will never do a column on that. Just like he will never give any credence to all of the data sets that show a global decrease in temperature.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | October 28, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Not a bad idea, but I actually have a more generic suggestion.

Since Andrew is very knowledgeable about climate science, I would like to see him write a column that is critical of one aspect or tenet (of his choice) of the current climate consensus.

Surely as a critical thinker, and as a reporter, there must be some aspect of currently accepted climate science that does not quite ring true for Mr. Freedman. Such a piece by Andrew would be very thought provoking, IMHO.

Posted by: RMVA | October 28, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I am assuming that everyone over 30 remembers their basic high school science. If you want to take a walk down memory lane, take a look at this graphic. Look familiar? It should.

A few scientists literally set out to "get rid of the Medieval Warm Period", and they did. And no one in the media batted an eye.

I sit and shake my head in disbelief.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | October 29, 2008 1:32 AM | Report abuse

The quote "little ice at the North Pole a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic in 1421 and found none" from Sheppard's blog of 11 November 2006 was lifted from Christopher Mockton's article in the Sunday Telegraph of 5 November 2006. I don't know anyone who would call the Sunday Telegraph a "scientific paper" as claimed by Sheppard. But what about the other "scores of scientific papers" that state this? Sheppard doesn't mention them. Nor did he cite Mockton's as his source. I wonder if Sheppard did cite Mockton would the impact of stating "scores scientific papers" have been lessened because he used a newspaper article from just a few days before?

For the curious, search for reviews of the Mockton articles published in the Sunday Telegraph for more information on them.

There is a single source for this inaccuracy in case you wondered. It comes from Gavin Menzies' book 1421: The Year China Discovered the World which has been soundly criticized as little more than a historical novel and not sound historical research. I know, I know it's the vast conspiracy thing again. Climatology and Historians in cahoots.

Posted by: John-Burke | October 29, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I linked to the page SOLELY for the graphic. I was discussing the MWP. I was not discussing Lord Mockton or the Chinese, nor have I ever.

Do you have an intelligent contribution that you would like to make concerning that graphic or the MWP?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | October 29, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

The link was to Sheppard's blog which had two graphics. If you wanted someone only to look at only "the" graphic - link to only the graphic. It's easily done as shown here and here. For the graphs shown no source is cited by Sheppard so where they actually came from is anyone's guess. Regardless the underlying source material used by Sheppard's blog is questionable (at best) and that was pointed out.

As to MWP specifically, there is range of opinions on the topic. I suggest that everyone does their own research and look at all the source material and not take your assertion at face value.

Posted by: John-Burke | October 29, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was a time of unusually warm weather that began around 1000 AD and lasted until the beginning of the "Little Ice Age" beginning in 14th century. Examples such as MWP are continually raised by skeptics of global warming as evidence that the current warming is within the range of natural variability - and that any human-caused global climate signature is in the noise of the climate system.

What the discussion above totally misses is the difference between regional and global warming.

So, for the record: The IPCC (2001c, sect 2.3.5) argues that "the marked warmth of the MWP appears to have been restricted to Europe and the North Atlantic, unlike the near global warmth of the late 20th century" .

In simple terms, the MWP is acknowledged to be real - not gotten rid of - but that it is not an adequate measure of global change

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | October 29, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

John-Burke said, "For the graphs shown no source is cited by Sheppard so where they actually came from is anyone's guess."

You have got to be kidding! You must be younger than 30. If you ask anyone over 30 if they have seen that graphic, or one just like it, and they will answer "yes". It is hard for me to imagine that anyone over 30, who graduated high school, has not seen that graphic.

His source was probably an old history or science text book. That graphic is what was taught as recently as 10 years ago.

Heck, that graphic is what was used by the IPCC in 1995!!!!! Check out page 5 and tell me if it doesn't look familiar.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | October 29, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse


I don't disagree that that's what the IPCC says, but thats inconsistent with the following:

Apart from the well documented effects in Europe, Greenland, and North America of the MWP and LIA, here is some work that shows a more global impact that is at odd with the temperature "constructions" of the IPCC. They are constructions because there were no direct measurements back then.

A radiocarbon-dated box core in the Sargasso Sea shows that the sea surface temperature was approximately 1 °C (1.8 °F) cooler than today approximately 400 years ago (the Little Ice Age) and 1700 years ago, and approximately 1 °C warmer than today 1000 years ago (the Medieval Warm Period).(1)

Adhikari and Kumon (2001), whilst investigating sediments in Lake Nakatsuna in central Japan, verified the existence there of both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. (2)

An ice core from the eastern Bransfield Basin, Antarctic Peninsula, clearly identifies events of the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period. (3)

(1) Keigwin, Lloyd D. (29 November 1996). "The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea". Science 274 (5292): 1503–1508

(2) Adhikari DP, Kumon, F. (2001). "Climatic changes during the past 1300 years as deduced from the sediments of Lake Nakatsuna, central Japan.". Limnology 2 (3): 157–168

(3) Khim, B-K; Yoon H.; Kang C.Y.; Bahk J.J. (November 2002). "Unstable Climate Oscillations during the Late Holocene in the Eastern Bransfield Basin, Antarctic Peninsula". Quaternary Research 58 (3): 234–245(12). doi:10.1006/qres.2002.2371

props to Wikipedia (the ultimate peer-reviewed resource) for the info.

Throughout history, opposing scientific theories have been dismissed as bunk by the established order, and throughout history we have continued to see paradigm shifts. Not too long ago, the earth was the center of the universe.

Posted by: RMVA | October 29, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Tracton,

I refer you to the same link that I provided for John-Burke. Same link, same page (page 5).

--begin quote--
Those wanting to “get rid of” the MWP run into the problem that it shows up strongly in the data. Shortly after Deming’s article appeared, a group led by Shaopeng Huang of the University of Michigan completed a major analysis of over 6,000 borehole records from every continent around the world. Their study went back 20,000 years. The portion covering the last millennium is shown in Figure 4. The similarity to the IPCC’s 1995 graph is obvious. The world experienced a “warm” interval in the medieval era that dwarfs 20th century changes. The present-day climate appears to be simply a recovery from the cold years of the “Little Ice Age.”
--end quote--

And you can compare the graph from their work (6,000 boreholes from every continent), which is on page 6, to the 1995 IPCC graph on page 5.

You can add their work to the list of work documented by RMVA.

Mr. Freedman, if the current trend of global cooling continues, why in the name of all that is holy would anyone want to go vacation in the Arctic circle?????? I would think people would be more interested in going to some place warm. Like the Bahamas, or South America.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | October 29, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q wrote: His source was probably an old history or science text book. That graphic is what was taught as recently as 10 years ago.

Well then, such a common graph from all those textbooks should be very easy for you to cite one or more. Feel free to just give the citation sans attacks towards education level or excessive use of exclamation points - it's getting old.

Posted by: John-Burke | October 29, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

John-Burke said, "Well then, such a common graph from all those textbooks should be very easy for you to cite one or more. Feel free to just give the citation sans attacks towards education level or excessive use of exclamation points - it's getting old."

No thank you. If you really, truly care about the source. Go ask the IPCC. They used the same graphic.

But I have a hunch that you don't truly care about the source and that you won't email the IPCC asking for their source.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | October 29, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

John-Burke, is your goal getting at the truth, or something else?

Personally, I have two goals -
1. Getting at the truth
2. Protecting my existing liberties

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | October 30, 2008 3:53 AM | Report abuse

Q's MO: Attack - Deny - Deflect - Ignore.
Same old, same old consistent as ever.

Posted by: John-Burke | October 30, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Q's MO: Attack - Deny - Deflect - Ignore.
Same old, same old consistent as ever.

Posted by: John-Burke | October 30, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Q's MO: Attack - Deny - Deflect - Ignore.
Same old, same old consistent as ever.

Posted by: John-Burke | October 30, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse


Reposting the same comment three times strikes me as very immature. It also is likely to leave the reader with the impression that you cannot counter Mr. Q's arguments rationally, so you just lash out.

Posted by: RMVA | October 30, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Apologies for the redundant posts. It was not intentional done. It may have been due to undocking/redocking of my laptop. I will be sure to check that comments have cleared before moving my laptop in the future.

Posted by: John-Burke | October 30, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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