How far to reverse global warming?

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Debate in a non-hostile environment

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How far would you need to move towards the nearest Pole, to reverse one degree Celsius of global warming?


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How far would you need to move, towards the nearest Pole (the North Pole, or the South Pole), to reverse the temperature increase from 1 additional degree Celsius of global warming?

Every location on Earth has a yearly average temperature.

At the South Pole (Antarctica), the yearly average temperature is -48.0 degrees Celsius

In Beaver Creek (Canada), the yearly average temperature is -4.9 degrees Celsius

In Moscow (Russia), the yearly average temperature is +4.0 degrees Celsius

In London (England), the yearly average temperature is +10.3 degrees Celsius

In Nairobi (Kenya), the yearly average temperature is +19.0 degrees Celsius

In Bangkok (Thailand), the yearly average temperature is +28.0 degrees Celsius

 

There is a wide range of yearly average temperatures. Humans don’t live at all of them. But if we look at just the big cities, we can easily get a range of yearly average temperature, of 24 degrees Celsius (between Moscow and Bangkok).

Will 2 degrees of global warming make Moscow a worse place to live, or a better place to live?

Will 2 degrees of global warming make Bangkok a worse place to live, or a better place to live?

For legal reasons, my lawyer has told me not to answer these questions. Please use your imagination.

Before we answer the question about moving towards the nearest Pole, to reverse the temperature increase from global warming, I want to reinforce the idea that there is a wide range of yearly average temperatures on Earth. Please look at the following table. This table lists the yearly average temperature for 65 locations on Earth (going from coldest to hottest). I have included many capital cities. But since most people tend to live in the “warmer” locations, I have also included a number of the “cooler” locations.

It is important to remember that the yearly average temperature, is an AVERAGE. At times the temperature is higher than the yearly average temperature, and at times the temperature is lower than the yearly average temperature. I may write another article which looks at the “average high temperature”, and the “average low temperature”, because these give a better indication of the range of temperatures for a location. But in this article, I am only using the “yearly average temperature”. This is a single value, and does not show what the range of temperatures is, for a location.

 

Location Country/State Avg Temp (deg. Celsius)
South Pole Antarctica -48.0
Cooperville Alaska -17.8
Igloolik Canada -12.9
Nuwuk Alaska -12.0
Volochanka Russia -11.5
Dundas Greenland -10.9
Paulatuk – Airport Canada -9.3
Nakanno Russia -8.2
Chandalar Lake Alaska -7.8
Grindelwald Switzerland -6.9
Hot Springs Alaska -5.9
Beaver Creek Canada -4.9
Kirensk Russia -3.9
La Grande Riviere Canada -2.9
Thompson – Zoo Canada -2.1
Nuuk Greenland -1.0
Whitehorse Canada +0.2
Keshan China +1.0
Leninogorsk Kazakhstan +1.0
Kemi Finland +1.0
Molvik Norway +1.0
Hinterrhein Switzerland +2.2
Hacienda Huancane Peru +3.0
Sevan Armenia +3.1
Reykjavik Iceland +4.0
Moscow Russia +4.0
Helsinki Finland +5.0
Oslo Norway +6.0
Stockholm Sweden +6.0
Ottawa Canada +6.6
Kiev Ukraine +7.0
Berlin Germany +7.3
Bern Switzerland +7.9
Copenhagen Denmark +8.0
Warsaw Poland +8.0
Dublin Ireland +9.8
Amsterdam Netherlands +10.0
Ankara Turkey +10.0
London England +10.3
Beijing China +12.0
Paris France +12.4
Madrid Spain +14.1
Washington DC America +14.6
Rome Italy +15.5
Tokyo Japan +16.3
Sydney Australia +17.0
Mexico City Mexico +17.0
Tehran Iran +17.0
Cape Town South Africa +17.0
Buenos Aires Argentina +17.7
Kathmandu Nepal +18.0
Athens Greece +18.5
Nairobi Kenya +19.0
Lima Peru +20.0
Kampala Uganda +20.0
Brasilia Brazil +20.6
Cairo Egypt +21.0
Islamabad Pakistan +21.0
Baghdad Iraq +22.0
Hong Kong China +23.0
Delhi India +25.2
Jakarta Indonesia +27.0
Manila Philippines +27.0
Singapore Singapore +27.0
Bangkok Thailand +28.0

 

Hopefully, you are willing to accept the idea that there is a temperature gradient, going from the poles to the equator. The yearly average temperature varies with latitude.

But, it is important to realise that all of the locations that are at a particular latitude, don’t have exactly the same yearly average temperature. Latitude is the major factor that determines the yearly average temperature, but there are a number of other factors, like elevation, and proximity to the ocean, which can also affect the yearly average temperature.

Just for fun, I have collected the yearly average temperatures for over 36,000 locations on Earth. I have plotted each location on a graph of yearly average temperature versus latitude, and fitted the best trendline using Excel. The best trendline was a parabola, with the following equation:

Yearly average temperature = (-0.006671 * Latitude^2) + (0.011589 * Latitude) + 24.434759

where ^2 meaned squared

See the following graph – the yearly average temperature data for over 36,000 locations on Earth, and the best fitted trendline (a parabola).

 

Yearly average temperature by location

 

But what about global warming. Wouldn’t global warming make a big difference to the yearly average temperature?

The following graph shows the same best fit trendline as the previous graph (the orange parabola). But it also shows a purple parabola, which is the result of adding 1 degree Celsius of global warming, to the orange parabola.

 

Yearly average temperature plus GW by location

 

The previous graph shows that 1 degree Celsius of global warming doesn’t look quite as frightening, when you compare it to the wide range of yearly average temperatures.

And remember my warning from before. It is important to remember that the yearly average temperature, is an AVERAGE. At times the temperature is higher than the yearly average temperature, and at times the temperature is lower than the yearly average temperature. The “average high temperature” is a better measure of “normal” high temperatures, and is higher than the yearly average temperature. The “average low temperature” is a better measure of “normal” low temperatures, and is lower than the yearly average temperature.


Finally, we have reached the point where we can answer the question that was asked at the beginning.

How far would you need to move, towards the nearest Pole (the North Pole, or the South Pole), to reverse the temperature increase from 1 additional degree Celsius of global warming?

We have seen how there is a temperature gradient, which goes from the equator (hottest), to the poles (coldest). So if you would like to live in a cooler climate, all that you need to do is get into your car, and drive towards the nearest pole. But how far should you drive.

Let us assume that you live in location “A”, which is at latitude “L”. The distance that you have to drive, depends upon the latitude “L”. The nearer that you are to a Pole, the less distance that you have to drive, for a given temperature change.

To put that another way, the nearer that you are to the equator, the bigger the distance that you have to drive, for a given temperature change.

The following graph shows the distance (in kilometers), that you need to move towards the nearest Pole, to reverse 1 degree Celsius of global warming.

 

Distance to move

 

Some examples will make the graph easier to understand.

If you live in Atlanta, Nebraska, in America, then your yearly average temperature is 9.1 degrees Celsius, and your latitude is about 40N. Imagine that global warming raises your yearly average temperature to an unpleasant 10.1 degrees Celsius. You are convinced that global warming will soon turn Atlanta into a disaster area, so you pack your bags, and start driving north.

You consult the previous graph. You find 40 on the X-axis (your latitude), and go vertically up to the green line. When you get to the green line, you go horizontally until you get to the Y-axis. The value on the Y-axis, is the distance that you must drive in a northerly direction, to reverse the 1 degree Celsius of global warming (that took your yearly average temperature to 10.1 degrees Celsius). In this case, you would need to drive a little over 200 km towards the North Pole.

 

We will do another example. This time you live in Sydney, New South Wales, in Australia. Your yearly average temperature is 17.0 degrees Celsius, and your latitude is about 34S (or -34). Imagine that global warming raises your yearly average temperature to an unpleasant 18.0 degrees Celsius, and the kangaroos are starting to get a bit stroppy. Your fridge is not working, and all of your beer is warm. You decide to try your luck further south. You just need to work out how far to go.

You consult the previous graph. You find -34 on the X-axis (your latitude), and go vertically up to the green line. When you get to the green line, you go horizontally until you get to the Y-axis. The value on the Y-axis, is the distance that you must drive in the southerly direction, to reverse the 1 degree Celsius of global warming (that took your yearly average temperature to 18.0 degrees Celsius). In this case, you would need to drive a little under 250 km towards the South Pole.

 

That is how the graph works. You should be able to see that if you lived near the equator, then you are going to have to drive about 1300 km to cool by 1 degree Celsius. You have to go further, but you can choose which Pole you want to drive towards (most people don’t get a choice).

This graph can be used for a lot of other fun things. Imagine that you wanted to know what the climate was like, where you live, but in pre-industrial times. Don’t wait for global warming to kill you, consult the graph now, before any more global warming occurs. By driving that distance toward the nearest Pole, you will end up in a location which has the climate of your pre-industrial paradise.

But wait, there is more. You can use the graph to find out what global warming will be like, before it even happens. Work out the distance for your latitude, but instead of driving towards the nearest Pole, drive towards the equator. When you reach your destination, that is what an additional 1 degree Celsius of global warming will be like, at your original location.

A warning – be prepared for higher sea levels, a lack of snow, and extreme weather (including powerful hurricanes), if you test what future global warming will be like. I wasn’t going to warn you about those things, but my lawyer said that I should.

Anyway, drive safely, and please send me a postcard, when you get to your destination.

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