tagged w/ Climate Science
It's way past time to cut through all of the propaganda spewed forth incessantly by the same interests that care nothing for this planet or your future. It's the only way to have one now. We are running out of time.
We will not solve this crisis until we all resolve to be a part of the solution.
Will you participate in Reality?
I am going to try to put together a movie of my own that connects these dots and post it in as many places as I can.
I am going to be relentless in letting the US government know that as citizens we will not allow them to continue to betray our trust and the environmental stability that affects all of the other facets of our lives.
I am going to continue filming my own user created content program "Biorhythms" for the Current site under Earth Care, and on it I will continue to present news of the environment we do not see reported on MSM with a focus on humanity, environment and the meaning of the events taking place now.
I will also continue to pledge to live my own life by walking lightly upon this Earth and fighting to hold those who deliberately destroy it and the indigenous peoples of this world who inhabit those places accountable and to bring them to justice.
It's time to raise our voices in truth and Reality.
Another week, another New York Times article on extreme weather that fails to connect the dots to global warming for the public. The NYT blew the Arizona wildfire story. They blew the Dust Bowl story.
Now readers have been sending me this double by-lined gem all day: “Drought Spreads Its Pain Across 14 States.” The piece does have a great chart [click to enlarge].
“Dangerously Dry: Nearly a fifth of the contiguous United States has been faced with the worst drought in recent years.”
And it starts to tell the story:
COLQUITT, Ga. — The heat and the drought are so bad in this southwest corner of Georgia that hogs can barely eat. Corn, a lucrative crop with a notorious thirst, is burning up in fields. Cotton plants are too weak to punch through soil so dry it might as well be pavement.
Farmers with the money and equipment to irrigate are running wells dry in the unseasonably early and particularly brutal national drought that some say could rival the Dust Bowl days….
In Texas, where the drought is the worst, virtually no part of the state has been untouched. City dwellers and ranchers have been tormented by excessive heat and high winds. As they have been in the southwest, wildfires are chewing through millions of acres….
Most troubling is that the drought, which could go down as one of the nation’s worst, has come on extra hot and extra early…..
Oklahoma has had only 28 percent of its normal summer rainfall and the heat has blasted past 90 degrees for a month.
The question, of course, becomes why. In a spring and summer in which weather news has been dominated by epic floods and tornadoes, it is hard to imagine that nearly a third of the country is facing an equally daunting but very different kind of natural disaster.
Why didn’t anyone warn us such stuff could happen?
If only there were some scientific theory that explained why we might see so much heat at the same time we are making dry areas drier and wet areas wetter. If only scientists could explain why we are seeing heat waves and wildfires earlier in the year.
The NY Times has the answer:
From a meteorological standpoint, the answer is fairly simple. “A strong La Niña shut off the southern pipeline of moisture,” said David Miskus, who monitors drought for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
The weather pattern called La Niña is an abnormal cooling of Pacific waters. It usually follows El Niño, which is an abnormal warming of those same waters.
Although a newly released forecast from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center suggests this dangerous weather pattern could revive in the fall, many in the parched regions find themselves in the unlikely position of hoping for a season of heavy tropical storms in the Southeast and drenching monsoons in the Southwest.
Climatologists say the great drought of 2011 is starting to look a lot like the one that hit the nation in the early to mid-1950s. That, too, dried a broad swath of the southern tier of states into leather and remains a record breaker.
Uhh, what about the record-smashing heat? See “It’s Obscenely Hot: June 2011 Heat Records Crush Cold Records by Nearly 11 to 1.”
For the record, last month, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell testified in front of the Senate:
“Throughout the country, we’re seeing longer fire seasons, and we’re seeing snowpacks that, on average, are disappearing a little earlier every spring,” he said, as well as devastating droughts. As a result, fire seasons have lengthened by more than 30 days, on average.
“Our scientists believe this is due to a change in climate,” said Tidwell.
Also for the record, recent droughts aren’t quite the same as the 1950s drought (see The “global-change-type drought” and the future of extreme weather) :
More at the linkAnother week, another New York Times article on extreme weather that fails to connect... more
James Hansen never expected to become a radical activist at the age of 65. He is a grandfather who loves nothing more than exploring nature with his grandchildren. He holds down a respectable job as the director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. But he is 70 now, and he has a police record.
Hansen gets himself arrested, testifies in court on behalf of others who have broken the law and issues public pronouncements that have made Nasa try to gag him – all because he can't bear the thought that his grandchildren might hold him responsible for a burned-out planet.
Hansen is the climate scientist's climate scientist. He has testified about the issue in front of Congress, but has had enough of the standard government response – "greenwash", he calls it. Last month, Hansen issued an uncompromising plea for Americans to involve themselves with civil unrest over climate change. "We want you to consider doing something hard – coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested," he says in a letter on grist.org.
However many Americans turn up to get arrested in Washington, it's unlikely that Hansen will end up sharing a cell with other scientists. He cuts a lone figure on the barricades; almost all scientists run shy of such public misbehaviour.
In private, science has always been a brutal, gladiatorial arena. To be successful you have to challenge established thinking, force out the old guard and prove beyond question that you are right. That takes extraordinary tenacity, resourcefulness and courage.
The tragedy is that these laudable attributes are rarely channelled into tackling areas where science highlights something of global concern. Yes, scientists compile and contribute to reports on issues such as climate change. But those reports are made public only when the scientists have agreed on the most conservative of conclusions, satisfying the lowest common denominator among those whose names appear on the documents.
The UN's climate monitor, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for example, issues reports that stand accused of underplaying sea level rises. According to a report published by the US National Academy of Sciences, levels may rise three times faster than IPCC estimates.
That is not to say that climate scientists don't privately agree about what is going on with our planet. In April 2010 a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that nearly 98% of working climate scientists accept the evidence for human-induced climate change. The voices of dissent reported "for balance" come almost exclusively from researchers who are not publishing in the field.
Unfortunately, this consensus over climate change is in danger of becoming the world's best-kept secret. According to the World Bank's 2010 World Development Report, 17% of US citizens think that the properly scientific view is to be sceptical about climate change, while 43% believe that scientists are "evenly divided". Who is to blame for this gulf between reality and perception? The media? The government? No. When they are being honest, the scientists blame themselves.
And that's why Hansen – and a handful of other scientists – are bypassing traditional outlets for scientific results.
If Hansen gets arrested this summer, it will complete his hat-trick: he has already been arrested twice at environmental protests. In 2009 police dragged him and actor Daryl Hannah off a mountain road in West Virginia. They and hundreds of other protesters had sat down in protest at a local company's intention to access the mountain's coal deposits by packing it with explosives and blowing its top off. The second arrest came last year in Washington, at a protest over similar practices.
Hansen's attitude echoes that of Sherwood Rowland, who won a Nobel prize for his research into the effects of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases on the ozone layer. "What's the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions," Rowland said, "if all we're willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?"
Rowland's colleagues shunned him for his activism. Even the iconic environmentalist James Lovelock called for a "bit of British caution" in the face of what he saw as Rowland's "missionary" zeal for a ban on CFCs. In the end, it was only the terrifying discovery of a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica that galvanised the politicians.
US academics Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have highlighted the disappointing timidity of scientists. On acid rain, climate change, tobacco marketing and the ozone crisis, they "would have liked to have told heroic stories of how scientists set the record straight" in their book Merchants of Doubt, but scientists fighting back have been "conspicuously scarce". "Clearly, scientists knew that many contrarian claims were false," they lament. "Why didn't they do more to refute them?"
The answer is, because of the party line established in the post-war era: offer advice only if asked.
More at the link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7wdKg8rYL0&feature=player_embeddedJames Hansen never expected to become a radical activist at the age of 65. He is a... more
It takes a lot to get scientists out of their offices and marching on Parliament.
But in recent weeks that’s exactly what some of Australia’s top researchers have taken to doing.
Former Governor of Victoria and scientist David de Kretser brought an open letter to Parliament House last week and just today the Federation of Australian Science and Technological Societies (FASTS) has launched its Respect the Science campaign from the same location.
The Federation claims that attacks on climate scientists are “undermining the national building work of all scientists.”
The Conversation has also hosted an open letter from dozens of concerned scientists trying to get the message across that human-induced climate change is a real threat.
So what is it that has got our science community so riled up?
It might be something to do with the death threats many climate scientists have been receiving. CEO of FASTS Anna Maria Arabia was on the wrong end of one just this morning.
But for many, it’s simply the tactics of “the other side” of the climate change debate that has spurred on their public demonstrations.
When the forces of non-science are this strong, it’s time for scientists to respond.
More at the link
http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/afagen.jpgIt takes a lot to get scientists out of their offices and marching on Parliament.... more
Worldwide, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record, says the 2010 State of the Climate report, released June 27 by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
On the Arctic, the State of the Climate shows how 2010 marked the end of the warmest decade since instrument records began in 1900.
The summer of 2010 in Greenland reveals the speed and breadth of the environmental change occurring in the Arctic, the report says.
In Greenland, warm air from the south was responsible for the longest period and largest area of ice sheet melt since at least 1978, and the highest melt rate since at least 1958, it says/
High summer air temperatures and a longer melt season also occurred in the Canadian Arctic, where loss from small glaciers and ice caps continued to increase.
A combination of low winter snow accumulation and high spring air temperatures also resulted in a record minimum spring snow, says the report, compiled by 400 scientists from 45 countries.
This year’s update on climate information from every continent tracks 41 climate indicators, including the temperature of the lower and upper atmosphere, precipitation, greenhouse gases, humidity, cloud cover, ocean temperature and salinity, sea ice, glaciers, and snow cover.
These indicators show “a continuation of the long-term trends scientists have seen over the last 50 years, consistent with global climate change,” said Thomas R. Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
The Arctic section of the State of the Climate says:
• Arctic sea ice extent in September 2010 was the third lowest of the past 30 years. After a record minimum summer sea ice cover in 2007, the upper Arctic Ocean remains relatively warm and fresh, instead of salty, “a condition that is affecting marine biology and geochemistry;”
• observations of changes to tundra vegetation indicate “continued increases in greening,” associated with more ice-free, coastal waters and higher tundra land temperatures;
• on Sept. 19, 2010, ice extent shrank to its annual minimum of 4.6 million square kilometres. That’s the third-lowest minimum recorded since 1979, higher only than 2008 and the record minimum in 2007. There has been a substantial loss of old, thick ice in the Arctic Basin compared to the late 1980s, with the pack ice in the central Canada Basin changing from a multi-year to a seasonal ice cover;
• “surface air temperatures through the 2010 summer were higher than normal throughout the Arctic, though less extreme than in 2007;”
• vegetation changed and increased on Baffin Island;
• there was more warming in relatively cold permafrost than in warm permafrost in 2010; and,
• a combination of low winter snow accumulation and above-normal spring temperatures created new record-low spring snow cover duration over the Arctic since satellite observations began in 1966;
You can read a full report and a highlights document online.Worldwide, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record, says the 2010 State of the... more
Wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense, lasting on average 78 days longer than they did just two decades ago. Northern Arizona University Biology Professor Bruce Hungate tells host Bruce Gellerman about research that shows a relationship between fire and the release of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.
GELLERMAN: From the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios in Somerville Mass, this is Living on Earth. I'm Bruce Gellerman. Nitrous Oxide is commonly known as laughing gas, but there’s nothing funny about its effects on climate change.
Biologist Bruce Hungate accidentally discovered that during wild fires, huge amounts of nitrous oxide in the soil are released into the atmosphere. It all has to do with microscopic bugs in the soil that give off laughing gas. Bruce Hungate is a professor at Northern Arizona University.
HUNGATE: Bacteria called denitrifiers use nitrate in respiration just like humans use oxygen, and in the process, they produce nitrous oxide. Fires promote conditions in the soil that favor production of nitrous oxide by these soil microorganisms. They’re microscopic, but their impacts are global by producing this greenhouse gas. And in fact, most of the nitrous oxide in the atmosphere comes from these tiny creatures.
GELLERMAN: So how potent is nitrous oxide as a greenhouse gas, compared to, say, carbon dioxide?
HUNGATE: So on a molecule-per-molecule basis, nitrous oxide is three hundred times more potent than carbon dioxide. That’s a very potent greenhouse gas.
GELLERMAN: So you studied grasslands, right?
GELLERMAN: Would I find nitrous oxide and these little bugs that produce it in forests?
HUNGATE: Denitrifiers are everywhere. They’re in soils all around the world. And they produce nitrous oxide from these soils all around the world. And there actually have been a lot of experiments looking at the impacts of fire on nitrous oxide production from forests as well, it turns out, especially in the tropics - and often there what you see is after a fire, you get more nitrous oxide emitted from soil.
Bruce Hungate is a professor of Biology at Northern Arizona University. (Northern Arizona University.
GELLERMAN: And we didn’t know about this forest-fire and nitrous oxide relationship before?
HUNGATE: What we did know is that, in general, after fire, nitrous oxide emissions often go up. So we knew that before. What we didn’t know is how fires interact with these other components of the changing environment and in our experiment that was the real surprise.
GELLERMAN: You were running a series of experiments and you had a bunch of test plots, as I understand it, and that’s where you made your discovery.
HUNGATE: That’s right. We started this experiment back in 1998 in a grassland in California where we actually changed the physical environment around test plots to try to simulate the environment of the future. We focused on four on-going global environmental changes. More CO2 in the atmosphere, so some plots have tubes that release extra CO2 into the atmosphere around the growing plants, and also warming, we have infrared heat lamps over some plots to make them warmer. Extra nitrogen deposition - some plots get an extra dose of nitrogen simulating higher industrial activity and its effect on the atmosphere in the future. And also rainfall, some plots have sprinklers that simulate more rain. So we had each of these changes by itself, and then in every possible combination with the other global changes - it was really complex.
And then a downed power line caused a fire that burned part of it. At first we were really worried about damage to the experiment, but it turned into an opportunity. The fire burned only part of it, so we still had controls to quantify the impact of the fire along with the background of all these global environmental changes. So instead of losing the experiment, we got an even more complex experiment - very complex, but also interesting and exciting, with these new results.
GELLERMAN: So this accidental fire leads to this surprising finding that you can have accelerated global warming due to the nitrous oxide in the soil being released, essentially.
HUNGATE: Yeah, that’s exactly right, it was a surprising result. When we looked at each of these things by itself, we wouldn’t have been able to predict the result we got.
GELLERMAN: So you get this intense burst of nitrous oxide - so it’s not long lasting? Or…
HUNGATE: Well, actually it is. It was a delayed reaction. The pulse of nitrous oxide after fire lasted about three years. And that was another surprising finding, because past work on fires and nitrous oxide emissions haven’t shown quite as long lasting an effect. We think that might have to do with a combination of the global environmental changes along with the fire that really promoted nitrous oxide production.
GELLERMAN: So, Professor, let me play out the scenarios. So if you have a wildfire it releases this nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, it affects climate change dramatically, it gets warmer and causes the conditions for more wildfires - you’ve got a feedback loop here.
HUNGATE: That’s exactly right. It’s where climate change leads to more fires, which in turn lead to more climate change. And it’s not just nitrous oxide, these fires also produce carbon dioxide and methane, so they’re important sources of greenhouse gasses.
More at the link.Wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense, lasting on average 78 days longer... more
For many Tea Party leaders and their representatives in Congress, it is an "article of faith" that the Earth was given to humans by God for their exploitation and dominion. Many have used this distorted theology to support destructive mining and drilling projects, and to pass legislation attempting to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate planet-warming carbon pollution. Conservative members of Congress would rather the federal government subsidize oil companies than invest in clean energy technology.
But such reckless disregard for the Earth, its people, and natural resources is being challenged by a broad base of faith leaders who point to the many passages in the Bible that call for humans to be caretakers and good stewards of the planet. We can now add to their voices those of a working group of scientists appointed by the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a nonsectarian organization presided over by Werner Arber, a Nobel laureate and a Protestant. The academy has just issued a report that declares, without qualification and with utmost urgency, that global climate change is occurring, that humans bear responsibility for it, and that it is our gravest moral imperative to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible.
The report focuses on the causes and implications of retreating mountain glaciers and other ice forms because their melting is a key indicator of global warming. The report says these developments provide "some of the clearest evidence we have for a change in the climate system." The report's authors consist of "glaciologists, climate scientists, meteorologists, hydrologists, physicists, chemists, mountaineers, and lawyers." The authors document the quickened pace of melting glaciers, ice, and snow across the globe, and the potential drastic consequences for human populations.
They recommend three main actions: "reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay ... reduce the concentrations of warming air pollutants ... [and] prepare to adapt to the climatic changes, both chronic and abrupt, that society will be unable to mitigate."
While the report is significant in its acknowledgment of climate change and insistence on the need for the global community to take responsibility, it is hardly surprising that Catholic leadership commissioned and supported these findings. Pope Benedict XVI has been an ardent supporter for many years of recognizing the truth of climate change and the collective responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and preserve clean air and clean water. In fact, he has been dubbed the "Green Pope" in diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks.
And in a true example of "lived faith," the pope and his leadership spearheaded renewable energy projects right in Vatican City. In 2008 the Vatican began installing 2,400 solar panels atop the pope's audience hall, which prevents 230 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted annually. The Vatican even flirted with the idea of going completely carbon neutral by reforesting degraded land in Hungary to offset their emissions, though critics assailed the plan for its focus on offsets over efficiency improvements.
In the new pope's first social encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," he proclaimed there is a "covenant" between humans and the environment, and "responsibility is a global one, for it is concerned not just with energy but with the whole of creation, which must not be bequeathed to future generations depleted of its resources." He highlighted in particular the responsibility of wealthy developed nations to take the lead on these efforts.
The pope's encyclical in tandem with the working group's report are not meant to scare people. Rather, they are meant to confirm, once and for all, that people need to take climate change seriously, that it is no longer a matter of legitimate debate. The church's strong moral voice shows the urgency of the issue and should persuade conservatives who oppose action to protect God's creation that if they listen to one of the leading lights of the Christian faith on other issues, they should pay attention on this one as well.
This post was originally published by Science Progress.For many Tea Party leaders and their representatives in Congress, it is an... more
The ice of Greenland and the rest of the Arctic is melting faster than expected and could help raise global sea levels by as much as 5 feet this century, dramatically higher than earlier projections, an authoritative international assessment says.
The findings "emphasize the need for greater urgency" in combating global warming, says the report of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the scientific arm of the eight-nation Arctic Council.
The warning of much higher seas comes as the world's nations remain bogged down in their two-decade-long talks on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
Rising sea levels are expected to cause some of global warming's worst damage — from inundated small islands to possible flooding of New York City's subways. Oceans will not rise uniformly worldwide, because of currents, winds and other factors, but such low-lying areas as Bangladesh and Florida will likely be hard-hit.
The new report, whose executive summary was obtained by The Associated Press, is to be delivered to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and foreign ministers of the other seven member nations at an Arctic Council meeting next week in Greenland. It first will be discussed by some 400 international scientists at a conference this week in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Drawing on improved research techniques and recent scientific papers, the AMAP report updates forecasts made by the U.N.'s expert panel on climate change in its last major assessment in 2007.
The melting of Arctic glaciers and ice caps, including Greenland's massive ice sheet, is projected to help raise global sea levels by 35 to 63 inches (90 to 160 centimeters) by 2100, AMAP said, although it noted that estimate was highly uncertain.
That's up from the 2007 projection of 7 to 23 inches (19 to 59 centimeters) by the U.N. panel. The U.N. group had left out the possible acceleration of melting in Greenland and Antarctica, saying research on that hadn't advanced sufficiently by the mid-2000s. The U.N. estimate was based largely on the expansion of ocean waters from warming and the runoff from melting land glaciers elsewhere in the world.
Now the AMAP assessment finds that Greenland was losing ice in the 2004-2009 period four times faster than in 1995-2000.
In addition, the cover of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean is shrinking faster than projected by the U.N. panel, threatening the long-term survival of polar bears and other ice-dependent species. Summer ice coverage has been at or near record lows every year since 2001, said AMAP, predicting the ocean will be almost ice-free in the summer in 30 to 40 years.
Arctic temperatures in the past six years were the highest since measurements began in 1880, and "feedback" mechanisms are believed to be speeding up warming in the far north.
One such mechanism involves the ocean absorbing more heat when it's not covered by ice, because ice reflects the sun's energy. That effect has been anticipated by scientists "but clear evidence for it has only been observed in the Arctic in the past five years," AMAP said.
cont.The ice of Greenland and the rest of the Arctic is melting faster than expected and... more
This is a press release from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
One- to two-thirds of Earth’s permafrost will disappear by 2200, unleashing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, says a study by researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
“The amount of carbon released is equivalent to half the amount of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial age,” said NSIDC scientist Kevin Schaefer. “That is a lot of carbon.”
The carbon from permanently frozen ground—known as permafrost —will make its impact, not only on the climate, but also on international strategies to reduce climate change Schaefer said. “If we want to hit a target carbon concentration, then we have to reduce fossil fuel emissions that much lower than previously calculated to account for this additional carbon from the permafrost,” Schaefer said. “Otherwise we will end up with a warmer Earth than we want.”
The carbon comes from plant material frozen in soil during the ice age of the Pleistocene: the icy soil trapped and preserved the biomass for thousands of years. Schaefer equates the mechanism to storing broccoli in the home freezer: “As long as it stays frozen, it stays stable for many years,” he said. “But you take it out of the freezer and it will thaw out and decay.”
Now, permafrost is thawing in a warming climate and—just like the broccoli—the biomass will thaw and decay, releasing carbon into the atmosphere like any other decomposing plant material, Schaefer said. To predict how much carbon will enter the atmosphere and when, Schaefer and coauthors modeled the thaw and decay of organic matter currently frozen in permafrost under potential future warming conditions as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
They found that between 29–59 percent of the permafrost will disappear by 2200. That permafrost took tens of thousands of years to form, but will melt in less than 200, Schaefer said.
The scientists used a model to predict how much carbon the thawing will release. They estimate an extra 190 plus or minus 64 gigatons of carbon will enter the atmosphere by 2200—about one-fifth the total amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere today. Carbon emissions from thawing permafrost will require greater reductions in fossil fuel emissions, to limit the atmospheric carbon dioxide to some maximum value associated with a target climate, Schaefer said. “It means the problem is getting more and more difficult all the time,” he said. “It is hard enough to reduce the emissions in any case, but now we saying that we have to reduce it even more.”This is a press release from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which is... more
This is an unedited version of Jeremy Paxman's interview with Professor in linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), philosopher, cognitive scientist and political activist, Noam Chomsky (for BBC Newsnight)
Topics of discussion include:
- The uprisings in Egypt Libya, and Wisconsin
- The possibilities of Western intervention in Libya
- Obama's dismal record in the Middle East
- The Nuremberg principles
- The internet and Western technology
- Climate change
- "Stupid people"
- Why he hasn't mellowed in his old ageThis is an unedited version of Jeremy Paxman's interview with Professor in... more
To our dismay, and the nation’s detriment, self-described climate change deniers – strongly supported by fossil-fuel interests — continue to mislead Congress and the public.
In late January, we joined 14 other leading scientists in writing a letter to every member of Congress, asking our elected representatives to separate science from policy. We called attention to the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change, urging Congress to “address the challenge of climate change, and lead the national response…” We want Congress to understand that, with each passing day, the problem worsens.
Our letter was certainly not the first plea to Congress to address climate change, and it won’t be the last. An open letter just last May from 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences urged similar actions. But the race to run away from the problem is nothing short of staggering.
Nothing exemplifies this more than a bill by House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), to overturn the scientific finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that greenhouse gases are harmful to human health.
We are saddened and disturbed that Upton is apparently planning to hold a vote in committee very soon to overturn a science-based determination absent any scientific justification for doing so.
This science-free approach serves only the interests of oil and coal producers and other big polluters who don’t want Congress — or the American people — to know what decades of scientific research have revealed about current climate trends and the growing future risks we face.
Science is the Achilles heel for those who try to perpetuate the myth that climate change is not occurring, or that the massive build-up of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is not the main reason the climate is changing. There is no serious disagreement in the scientific community that global temperatures are increasing, sea levels are rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic and that fossil fuel combustion is the primary cause.
In addition, the rapid shrinking of Arctic sea ice and the pattern of extreme weather and climate — including widespread drought, extraordinarily intense rainstorms, heat waves and wildfires — reflect more than just natural climate variability.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50842.html#ixzz1G2N1WHePTo our dismay, and the nation’s detriment, self-described climate change deniers... more
This winter's heavy snowfalls and other extreme storms could well be related to increased moisture in the air due to global climate change, a panel of scientists said on Tuesday.
This extra moisture is likely to bring on extraordinary flooding with the onset of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, as deep snowpack melts and expected heavy rains add to seasonal run-off, the scientists said in a telephone briefing.
As the planet warms up, more water from the oceans is evaporated into the atmosphere, said Todd Sanford, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. At the same time, because the atmosphere is warmer, it can hold onto more of the moisture that it takes in.
Intense storms are often the result when the atmosphere reaches its saturation point, Sanford said.
This year, a series of heavy storms over the U.S. Midwest to the Northeast have dropped up to 400 percent of average snows in some locations, said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground.
The amount of water in that snowpack is among the highest on record, Masters said.
"If you were to take all that water and melt it, it would come out to more than 6 inches over large swaths of the area," Masters said. "If all that water gets unleashed in a hurry, in a sudden warming, and some heavy rains in the area, we could be looking at record flooding along the Upper Mississippi River and the Red River in North Dakota."
That tallies with projections by the U.S. National Weather Service, which last month said a large stretch of the north central United States is at risk of moderate to major flooding this spring.
Spring floods could be exacerbated by spring creep, a phenomenon where spring begins earlier than previously.
"We've documented in the mountains of the U.S. West that the spring runoff pulse now comes between one and three weeks earlier than it used to 60 years ago," Masters said. "And that's because of warmer temperatures tending to melt that snowpack earlier and earlier."
In the last century, global average temperatures have risen by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (.8 Celsius). Last year tied for the warmest in the modern record. One place this warmth showed up was in the Arctic, which is a major weather-maker for the Northern Hemisphere, according to Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.
One driver of this winter's "crazy weather," Serreze said, is an atmospheric pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation, which has moved into what climate scientists call a negative phase.
This phase means there is high pressure over the Arctic and low pressure at mid-latitudes, which makes the Arctic zone relatively warm, but spills cold Arctic air southward to places like the U.S. Midwest and Northeast.
This negative Arctic Oscillation has been evident for two years in a row, the same two winters that have had extreme storms and heavy snowfalls.
It is possible, but not certain, that the negative Arctic Oscillation is linked to warming of the Arctic, which is in turn influenced by a decrease in sea ice cover throughout the region.
The only underlying explanation for these events is climate warming due to heightened greenhouse gas levels, Serreze said.This winter's heavy snowfalls and other extreme storms could well be related to... more
Mark Hertsgaard: We are in a climate crisis because the government spent the last 20 years listening to 'climate cranks'.
Daphne Wysham is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and founder and host of Earthbeat, now airing on 61 public radio stations in the US and Canada. Mark Hertsgaardhas investigated global warming for outlets including the New Yorker, NPR, Time, Vanity Fair, and the Nation. But the full truth did not hit home until he became a father and, soon thereafter, learned that climate change had already arrived•a century earlier than forecast•with impacts bound to worsen for decades to come. He is author of Generation HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.Mark Hertsgaard: We are in a climate crisis because the government spent the last 20... more
As glaciers melt and island populations migrate from shores to escape rising seas, many scientists remain baffled as to why the research consensus on human-induced climate change remains contentious in the U.S.
The frustration revealed itself during a handful of sessions at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., this past weekend, and it came to a peak during a Friday session, “Science without borders and media unbounded.”
Near the session’s conclusion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientist Kerry Emanuel asked a panel of journalists why the media continues to cover anthropogenic climate change as a controversy or debate, when in fact it is a consensus among such organizations as the American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Physics, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Association, National Research Council and the national academies of more than two dozen countries.
"You haven't persuaded the public," replied Elizabeth Shogren of National Public Radio. Emanuel immediately countered, smiling and pointing at Shogren, "No, YOU haven't." Scattered applause followed in the audience of mostly scientists, with one heckler saying, "That's right. Kerry said it."
A tone of searching bewilderment was typical of a handful of sessions that dealt with the struggle to motivate Americans on the topic of climate change. Only 35 percent of Americans see climate change as a serious problem, according to a 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
It's a given that an organized and well-funded campaign has led efforts to confuse the public regarding the consensus around anthropogenic climate change.
And in the absence of such a campaign, as in South Korea, there is no doubt about the findings of climate science, said Sun-Jin Yun of Seoul National University. All three of the nation's major newspapers—representing conservative, progressive and business perspectives—accept climate change with little unjustified skepticism.
Still, it is hard to explain the intransigence of the U.S. public and policy-makers on the issue.
Explanations: the media, under-education or denialism
Tom Rosensteil of the Project for Excellence in Journalism pointed the finger at the media, focusing on its overall contraction in the past two decades. Shrinking budgets have led to a proliferation of quick, cheap reporting, as well as discussion and commentary formats that rarely provide informative discussions of actual science results.
"What is shrinking is the reportorial component of our culture in which people go out and find things and verify things," he said. Truth has little chance to make itself known in the new narrow and shallow public square.
Poll after poll, and even late night TV, seems to revel in Americans’ ignorance of basic scientific facts, including the fundamentals of physics and biology.
Is this "deficit model" then the reason for our failure to accept climate change? Naomi Oreskes, a University of California, San Diego, science historian rejected that hypothesis that during a session on climate change denialism. "It's quite clear there are many highly educated people who do not accept global warming," she said. Still, scientists "must communicate climate science as clearly and effectively and robustly as we can," she added.
The current political and cultural context drive the nation's denialism around climate change, evolution and vaccines, said Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, during a session. Education and scientific literacy and general intelligence levels are not causing the problem.
Meanwhile, most Americans in fact are ignorant of the facts of climate science and even "confuse climate change with the ozone hole," Schmidt remarked. The processes around the latter's disappearance are related to global warming but "how is that a basis for having any sensible conversation?" he asked.
Solutions: Smart talking and media mastery
Surveys show that most people want more information about climate science, Schmidt said, so scientists should engage in public forums such as blogs, question-and-answer sessions and public talks, provided they are not simply stacked with angry debaters.
Scientists must engage with the public and be vigilant against projecting stereotypes of their profession—such as the elitist, arrogant scientist, Schmidt said.
Rosensteil echoed this advice and further urged scientists to bypass the media, who are no longer critical intermediaries for reaching the public given the growth of the blogosphere and the general fragmentation of the industry.
cont.As glaciers melt and island populations migrate from shores to escape rising seas,... more
"An increase in heavy precipitation that has afflicted many countries is at least partly a consequence of human influence on the atmosphere, climate scientists reported in a new study.
In the first major paper of its kind, the researchers used elaborate computer programs that simulate the climate to analyze whether the rise in severe rainstorms, heavy snowfalls and similar events could be explained by natural variability in the atmosphere. They found that it could not, and that the increase made sense only when the computers factored in the effects of greenhouse gases released by human activities like the burning of fossil fuels.
As reflected in previous studies, the likelihood of extreme precipitation on any given day rose by about 7 percent over the last half of the 20th century, at least for the land areas of the Northern Hemisphere for which sufficient figures are available to do an analysis.
The principal finding of the new study is “that this 7 percent is well outside the bounds of natural variability,” said Francis W. Zwiers, a Canadian climate scientist who took part in the research. The paper is being published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature.
The paper covers climate trends from 1951 to 1999 and therefore does not include any analysis of last year’s extreme precipitation, including catastrophic floods in Pakistan, China and Australia as well as parts of the United States, including Tennessee, Arkansas and California. However, the paper is likely to bolster a growing sense among climate scientists that events like the 2010 floods will become more common.
Indeed, an increase of weather extremes has been a fundamental prediction of climate science for decades. Basic physics suggests that as the earth warms, precipitation extremes will become more intense, winter and summer, simply because warmer air can carry more water vapor. Weather statistics confirm that this has begun to happen.
Scientists have long been reluctant to attribute any specific weather event to global warming, but a handful of papers that do so are beginning to appear in the scientific literature. One such installment is being published on Thursday in Nature as a companion piece to the broader paper. It finds that severe rains that flooded England and Wales in 2000, the wettest autumn since record-keeping began there in 1766, were made substantially more likely by the greenhouse gases released by human activity.
In that analysis, scientists at the University of Oxford used computer time donated by the public to analyze the climate of Britain in 2000 as it actually existed and to compare that with a hypothetical climate in which the Industrial Revolution never happened and few greenhouse gases were released.
The computers found that the chances of those memorable floods, which sent geese swimming through city streets, were roughly doubled in a climate with the greenhouse gases.
That it took a decade to come to that conclusion illustrates one of the major problems of climate science at the moment. Researchers are barraged with questions about weather extremes like the recent winters in Europe and the United States and the heat waves and droughts of last summer."
"An increase in heavy precipitation that has afflicted many countries... more
Flowing between Greenland and Norway, a North Atlantic Ocean current carrying water that is warmer than at anytime in the past 2,000 years may be speeding the decline of Arctic sea ice, scientists report.
Writing in the new issue of the journal Science, the researchers describe temperature variations derived from their study of the carbonate shells of tiny planktonic organisms in the marine sediment in the seabed of the Fram Strait off the coast of Western Svalbard.
Not only is the water the warmest its been in the past 20 centuries, report German scientist Robert F. Spielhagen and colleagues, but the flow known as the Arctic Atlantic Water Layer (AAWL) is carrying more water.
"Both effects -- a temperature rise as well as a volume transport increase -- introduce a larger heat input into the Arctic Ocean," they write. "Although there is no direct contact of the AAWL with the ocean surface in the Arctic, such an increased heat input has far-reaching consequences."
Water from the Fram Strait has warmed about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century, a rise which Spielhagen called "significantly different from all climate variations in the last 2,000 years." Overall, air temperatures in Greenland have risen about 7 degrees F in the past several decades.
In a statement issued by the University of Colorado-Boulder, the National Snow and Ice Data Center estimates the loss of Arctic sea ice from 1979 to 2009 was an area larger than the state of Alaska.
UC researcher Thomas Marchitto, a co-author of the study, noted that cold seawater "is critical for the formation of sea ice, which helps to cool the planet by reflecting sunlight back to space.
"Sea ice also allows Arctic air temperatures to be very cold by forming an insulating blanket over the ocean," he said. "Warmer waters could lead to major sea ice loss and drastic changes for the Arctic."
The impact of these Arctic changes on weather patterns and climate changes elsewhere across the planet is a major topic of current research.Flowing between Greenland and Norway, a North Atlantic Ocean current carrying water... more
This is also affected by the Beaufort Gyre.
That bold statement may seem like hyperbole, but there is now a very clear pattern in the scientific evidence documenting that the earth is warming, that warming is due largely to human activity, that warming is causing important changes in climate, and that rapid and potentially catastrophic changes in the near future are very possible. This pattern emerges not, as is so often suggested, simply from computer simulations, but from the weight and balance of the empirical evidence as well.
The great cryo-scientist Lonnie Thompson has a must-read paper, “Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options.” Thompson has been the Paul Revere of glacier melt.
I wrote about his important 2008 work “Mass loss on Himalayan glacier endangers water resources” (see Another climate impact comes faster than predicted: Himalayan glaciers “decapitated”). It concluded ominously:
If Naimona’nyi is characteristic of other glaciers in the region, alpine glacier meltwater surpluses are likely to shrink much faster than currently predicted with substantial consequences for approximately half a billion people.
The study notes that Naimona’nyi is the highest glacier (6 kilometers above sea level) “documented to be losing mass annually.” MSNBC reported:
Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University and a team of researchers traveled to central Himalayas in 2006 to study the Naimona’nyi glacier, expecting to find some melting…. But when the team analyzed samples of glacier, what they found stunned them….
In fact, the glacier had melted so much that the exposed surface of the glacier dated to 1944….
“At the highest elevations, we’re seeing something like an average of 0.3 degrees Centigrade warming per decade,” Thompson said….
“I have not seen much as compelling as this to demonstrate how some glaciers are just being decapitated,” Shawn Marshall of the University of Calgary said….
“You can think of glaciers kind of like water towers, ” he said. “They collect water from the monsoon in the wet season, and release it in the dry season. But how effective they are depends on how much water is in the towers.”
In his new paper, he joins the climate hawks and the legion of uncharacteristically blunt scientists. He explains something that is really understood only by those who read the scientific literature and/or talk to the leading climatologists — we are in big, big trouble:
Climatologists, like other scientists, tend to be a stolid group. We are not given to theatrical rantings about falling skies. Most of us are far more comfortable in our laboratories or gathering data in the field than we are giving interviews to journalists or speaking before Congressional committees. Why then are climatologists speaking out about the dangers of global warming? The answer is that virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.
And, as noted in the quote at the top, this isn’t just based on models of the future, but on observations and analysis of the past:
Ice cores retrieved from shrinking glaciers around the world confirm their continuous existence for periods ranging from hundreds of years to multiple millennia, suggesting that climatological conditions that dominate those regions today are different from those under which these ice fields originally accumulated and have been sustained. The current warming is therefore unusual when viewed from the millennial perspective provided by multiple lines of proxy evidence and the 160-year record of direct temperature measurements. Despite all this evidence, plus the well-documented continual increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, societies have taken little action to address this global-scale problem. Hence, the rate of global carbon dioxide emissions continues to accelerate. As a result of our inaction, we have three options: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering.
In that final sentence, Thompson picks up the formulation that science advisor John Holdren likes to use (see “Real adaptation is as politically tough as real mitigation, but much more expensive and not as effective in reducing future misery: Rhetorical adaptation, however, is a political winner. Too bad it means preventable suffering for billions”).
The paper does a good job of running through the science, and then discussing the key impacts, including the ones that don’t get enough attention:
Global warming is expanding arid areas of the Earth. Warming at the equator drives a climate system called the Hadley Cell. Warm, moist air rises from the equator, loses its moisture through rainfall, moves north and south, and then falls to the Earth at 30u north and south latitude, creating deserts and arid regions. There is evidence that over the last 20 years the Hadley Cell has expanded north and south by about 2u latitude, which may broaden the desert zones (Seidel, Fu, Randel, & Reichler, 2008; Seidel & Randel, 2007). If so, droughts may become more persistent in the American Southwest, the Mediterranean, Australia, South America, and Africa.
Clearly mitigation is our best option, but so far most societies around the world, including the United States and the other largest emitters of greenhouse gases, have done little more than talk about the importance of mitigation. Many Americans do not even accept the reality of global warming. The fossil fuel industry has spent millions of dollars on a disinformation campaign to delude the public about the threat, and the campaign has been amazingly successful. (This effort is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s effort to convince Americans that smoking poses no serious health hazards.)
But all the lies in the world — and the election of a slate of climate zombies in this country — can’t stop the reality of human-caused global warming. Only an aggressive effort to slow and then reverse greenhouse gas emissions trends can. Failure to do so would be immoral:
Unless large numbers of people take appropriate steps, including supporting governmental regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our only options will be adaptation and suffering. And the longer we delay, the more unpleasant the adaptations and the greater the suffering will be.
Sooner or later, we will all deal with global warming. The only question is how much we will mitigate, adapt, and suffer.
Kudos to Thompson for not pulling any punches.That bold statement may seem like hyperbole, but there is now a very clear pattern in... more
An influential 2006 congressional report that raised questions about the validity of global warming research was partly based on material copied from textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticized in the report, plagiarism experts say.
Review of the 91-page report by three experts contacted by USA TODAY found repeated instances of passages lifted word for word and what appear to be thinly disguised paraphrases.
The evidence has become overwhelming that recent global warming is unprecedented in magnitude and speed and cause (see “Two more independent studies back the Hockey Stick and below). Indeed, as WAG notes, within a few decades, nobody is going to be talking about hockey sticks, they will be talking about right angles or hockey skates (see chart above).
The disinformers (and the confusionists who Curry favor with them), however, are not merely oblivious to the multiple, independent lines of scientific investigation that lead to that conclusion. They have for over a decade tried to discredit one small piece of that underlying analysis, the Hockey Stick graph developed by Michael Mann, Raymond S. Bradley & Malcolm K. Hughes — continuing their obsession even after that analysis was largely reaffirmed by a 2006 report from the National Academy of Sciences, the “Supreme Court of science.”
A cornerstone of the disinformer’s ultimately self-destructive attack on climate science is a 2006 report, commissioned by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and led by George Mason University statistician Edward Wegman, who is now himself under investigation by GMU. You can find all the details you could want about the shoddy analysis of the report at Deep Climate — including his “methodical demolishing of any hint of statistics” in the report, as John Mashey puts it in the comments.
Here’s more from the stunning USA Today piece:
“It kind of undermines the credibility of your work criticizing others’ integrity when you don’t conform to the basic rules of scholarship,” Virginia Tech plagiarism expert Skip Garner says.
Led by George Mason University statistician Edward Wegman, the 2006 report criticized the statistics and scholarship of scientists who found the last century the warmest in 1,000 years.
“The report was integral to congressional hearings about climate scientists,” says Aaron Huertas of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. “And it preceded a lot of conspiratorial thinking polluting the public debate today about climate scientists.”
But in March, climate scientist Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts asked GMU, based in Fairfax, Va., to investigate “clear plagiarism” of one of his textbooks.
Bradley says he learned of the copying from a year-long analysis of the Wegman report made by retired computer scientist John Mashey of Portola Valley, Calif. Mashey’s analysis concludes that 35 of the report’s 91 pages “are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning.” Copying others’ text or ideas without crediting them violates universities’ standards, according to Liz Wager of the London-based Committee on Publication Ethics.
“The matter is under investigation,” says GMU spokesman Dan Walsch by e-mail. In a phone interview, Wegman said he could not comment at the university’s request. In an earlier e-mail Wegman sent to Joseph Kunc of the University of Southern California, however, he called the plagiarism charges “wild conclusions that have nothing to do with reality.”
The plagiarism experts queried by USA TODAY disagree after viewing the Wegman report:
• “Actually fairly shocking,” says Cornell physicist Paul Ginsparg by e-mail. “My own preliminary appraisal would be ‘guilty as charged.’ “
•”If I was a peer reviewer of this report and I was to observe the paragraphs they have taken, then I would be obligated to report them,” says Garner of Virginia Tech, who heads a copying detection effort. “There are a lot of things in the report that rise to the level of inappropriate.”
•”The plagiarism is fairly obvious when you compare things side-by-side,” says Ohio State’s Robert Coleman, who chairs OSU’s misconduct committee.
The report was requested in 2005 by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, then the head of the House energy committee. Barton cited the report in an October letter to The Washington Post when he wrote that Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann’s work was “rooted in fundamental errors of methodology that had been cemented in place as ‘consensus’ by a closed network of friends.”
The Wegman report criticized 1998 and 1999 reports led by Mann (Bradley was a co-author) that calculated global temperatures over the last dozen centuries. It also contained an analysis of Mann’s co-authors that appears partly cribbed from Wikipedia, Garner says….
A 2006 report by the National Research Council (NRC), which examines scientific disputes under a congressional charter, largely validated Mann, Bradley and the other climate scientists, according to Texas A&M’s Gerald North, the panel’s head. The NRC report found the Wegman report’s criticism of the type of statistics used in 1998 and 1999 papers reasonable but beside the point, as many subsequent studies had reproduced their finding that the 20th century was likely the warmest one in centuries.
Indeed, the Nature article on the report was headlined, “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph.”
The Wegman report called for improved “sharing of research materials, data and results” from scientists. But in response to a request for materials related to the report, GMU said it “does not have access to the information.” Separately in that response, Wegman said his “email was downloaded to my notebook computer and was erased from the GMU mail server,” and he would not disclose any report communications or materials because the “work was done offsite,” aside from one meeting with Spencer….
contAn influential 2006 congressional report that raised questions about the validity of... more
The troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere closest to the Earth, is warming and this warming is broadly consistent with both theoretical expectations and climate models, according to a new scientific study that reviews the history of understanding of temperature changes and their causes in this key atmospheric layer.
Scientists at NOAA, the NOAA-funded Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS), the United Kingdom Met Office, and the University of Reading in the United Kingdom contributed to the paper, “Tropospheric Temperature Trends: History of an Ongoing Controversy,” a review of four decades of data and scientific papers to be published today by Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews - Climate Change, a peer-reviewed journal.
The paper documents how, since the development of the very first climate models in the early 1960s, the troposphere has been projected to warm along with the Earth’s surface because of the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This expectation has not significantly changed even with major advances in climate models and is in accord with our basic physical understanding of atmospheric processes.
In the 1990s, observations did not show the troposphere, particularly in the tropics, to be warming, even though surface temperatures were rapidly warming. This lack of tropospheric warming was used by some to question both the reality of the surface warming trend and the reliability of climate models as tools. This new paper extensively reviews the relevant scientific analyses — 195 cited papers, model results and atmospheric data sets — and finds that there is no longer evidence for a fundamental discrepancy and that the troposphere is warming.
“Looking at observed changes in tropospheric temperature and climate model expectations over time, the current evidence indicates that no fundamental discrepancy exists, after accounting for uncertainties in both the models and observations,” said Peter Thorne, a senior scientist with CICS in Asheville, N.C., and a senior researcher at North Carolina State University. CICS is a consortium jointly led by the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University.
cont.The troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere closest to the Earth, is warming and... more