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Climate Hustle

Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that purports to refute global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?

 


3 clean energy myths that can lead to a productive climate conversation

Posted on 25 March 2019 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Karin Kirk

Energy use is the biggest cause of climate change, and it’s the first place to enact meaningful strategies to lower greenhouse emissions. It’s also a smart angle for talking about climate change, because it’s easy to find agreement on issues like improving energy efficiency, reducing pollution, cleaning up our energy supply, and reducing reliance on unstable foreign supplies.

But energy can be a bit of a double-edged sword. The very reason that some people reject climate change is that they fear some of its solutions, such as regulations on carbon, or government subsidies for clean energy, pose risks to established fossil-fuel based ways of life.

The good news is that it’s not hard to have positive conversations about energy. In doing so, one can leverage key strategies from previous articles in this series. For example, why not instill optimism by reminding people that Americans are proven innovators and problem-solvers, or by pointing out how America ought not get beat out by other nations in the global race toward modernizing the energy system? By emphasizing shared values, you can structure a dialogue around areas of mutual agreement.

The following are some common misconceptions and myths about renewable energy, along with a fact check, and a rebuttal designed to be inclusive and broadly appealing.

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1 comments


2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12

Posted on 24 March 2019 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

This List Of Climate Change Solutions May Be Key To Reversing It

 

“Brilliant” is the word one source used to describe Project Drawdown’s ranked list of 100 climate change solutions, begging the meta question, should the list be on the list.

Having a variety of climate change solution options is only useful if everyone who should know they exist does know, making a credible list of climate solutions potentially as important as the solutions on the list. 

In 2017, Project Drawdown, published the New York Times bestseller Drawdown, edited by the founder, Paul Hawken, 72. (Be sure to watch the full interview with Hawken in the player at the top of the article.)

Mehjabeen Abidi Habib, the author of Water in the Wilderness, based in Pakistan, the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change effects, serves on the Project Drawdown advisory board. She sees the effort as evidence “that it is not too late to make choices to change our world view and the actions that arise from the current paradigm.”

Jason F. McLennan, founder and chair of the International Living Future Institute and CEO of McLennan Design has known Hawken for years and notes that his work was mentioned in Drawdown. “I think it’s brilliant is the short answer,” he says. “It doesn’t spend time and energy on pointing fingers or criticizing things.  It focuses on positive solutions.”

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) who counts Hawken as a friend notes that the project is intended “not just to slow down climate change but reverse it.”

Daniel J. Siegel, MD, author of Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence and a clinical professor at UCLA School of Medicine agrees with the Congressman, adding, “My take on Project Drawdown is that it is a scientifically solid, insightful guide to some of the most important and effective steps we are taking to reverse global warming.”

Habib highlights the optimism embedded in the project. She notes that Hawken says in the introduction that climate change is “happening for us” to help us create a better world. 

This List Of Climate Change Solutions May Be Key To Reversing It by Devin Thorpe, Forbes, Mar 22, 2019 

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1 comments


2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12

Posted on 23 March 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 17 through Sat, Mar 23, 2019

Editor's Pick

Tim Flannery: people are shocked about climate change but they should be angry

The author and scientist, who has returned to his roots at the Australian Museum, says the world is about to see a major shift towards climate action

Tim Flannery

Tim Flannery: ‘We’re in a different world now, a world where people are living with climate change consequences’ Photograph: Carly Earl/The Guardian

Tim Flannery laments that young Australians today will never be able to experience in the same way the natural wonders he enjoyed in his youth.

He grew up in Melbourne on remnants of the sandplain flora, “one of the great floristic gems of Australia,” he says. Once smothered in flowers in springtime, it has now largely been lost through development and altered burning regimes. Flannery, 63, spent his youth swimming and scuba diving in northern Port Phillip bay, which he says is now also gravely deteriorated.

He further points to the Great Barrier Reef, which suffered unprecedented mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017 and the “serious questions” about whether it can now be saved. “Something like 70% of the reef that was there a century ago is now dead,” he says.

But without detailed records on species distributions, it’s impossible to map the losses due to climate change, explains Flannery, who recently returned to the 192-year-old Australian Museum in Sydney, where he was principal mammalogist from 1984–1999.

Rather than being “a fusty old relic” the museum is playing a vital role in this, he says. “The collections that say where things were, and when, are here – and that’s the most important asset we’ve got to understand the response of biodiversity to climate change … The people of New South Wales need to understand what a valuable asset they have.”

Tim Flannery: People are shocked about climate change but they should be angry, Interview by John Pickrell, Environment, Guardian, Mar 20, 2019 

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2 comments


New research, March 11-17, 2019

Posted on 22 March 2019 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below. This post has separate sections for: Climate Change, Climate Change Impacts, Climate Change Mitigation, and Other Papers.

Climate change impacts

Mankind

Impact of ambient temperature on hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease in Hefei City, China

Climate change impacts on socioeconomic damages from weather-related events in China

Future changes in spring wheat yield in the European Russia as inferred from a large ensemble of high-resolution climate projections (open access)

Impacts of climate change on bovine livestock production in Argentina

The future potential for wine production in Scotland under high-end climate change (open access)

Vulnerability assessment of climate change impacts on a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) in the Philippines: the case of Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines

Adaptive capacity of mountain community to climate change: case study in the Semien Mountains of Ethiopia

Pastoral system in the face of climate variability: household adaptation strategies in Borana Rangelands, Southern Ethiopia

Trends of extreme cold events in the central regions of Korea and their influence on the heating energy demand (open access)

Biologically effective solar ultraviolet exposures and the potential skin cancer risk for individual gold medalists of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games

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6 comments


The climate papers most featured in the media in 2018

Posted on 21 March 2019 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Robert McSweeney

In a year dominated by events such as Brexit, royal weddings, the Salisbury poisonings, US Supreme Court nominations and the World Cup, there was still space in the news media in 2018 for reporting on new climate research.

These new journal papers were reported around the world in news articles and blogs and shared on social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Reddit. Tracking all these “mentions” was Altmetric, an organisation that scores and ranks papers according to the attention they receive. (Full details of how the Altmetric scoring system works can be found in an earlier article.)

Using Altmetric data for 2018, Carbon Brief has compiled its annual list of the 25 most talked-about climate change-related papers of the year. The infographic above shows which ones made it into the Top 10.

Top spot

The most talked-about paper last year on any topic, not just climate change, was “Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria”, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This came first in Altmetric’s Top 100 journal papers of 2018 with an overall Altmetric score of over 10,000.

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Editorial cartoonists lampoon, praise Green New Deal

Posted on 19 March 2019 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Michael Svoboda

Like journalists, opinion writers, and TV newscasters and commentators, political cartoonists were quick to respond to the Green New Deal (GND) climate change initiative put out in early February by two liberal northeastern Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

But there were striking differences in willingness to engage the issue, depending on the political leaning of the respondents and the mediums in which they were working.

Written analyses and commentaries, left and right, were roughly equal in number. In pieces published in a range of outlets, from AP to Vice, liberal commentators praised the plan for its bold vision even as some questioned specific details. Conservative commentators, published mostly in venues on the right (Federalist, Townhall, Washington Examiner, Washington Timesmocked what they saw as the plans’ unrealistic goals, warned about its supposed socialist underpinnings, or in some cases even thanked Democrats for embracing a plan so absurd that it just might increase chances of a Trump re-election in 2020 and decrease the odds that Democrats take back the Senate.

By contrast, a study of cable TV coverage of the Green New Deal by Media Matters found that right-leaning Fox News ran three times as many pieces as center-left CNN and left-leaning MSNBC – combined. And in its derisive commentary, Fox often failed to mention climate change. (See Real Clear Politics’ intriguing analysis and time line of online coverage of GND. The conclusion of the piece: “Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that despite social media increasingly becoming the tool du jour of the political class, … we still very much need to keep an eye on traditional news media and on search trends.”

But the imbalance between the left and right among political cartoonists was even more striking. In the first 10 days after the Green New Deal was announced, right-leaning artists published nearly five times as many cartoons as their more numerous left-leaning colleagues.

This count was determined by examining all the left- and right-leaning cartoons posted at Gocomics.com between February 5, when news of the GND announcement was leaked, and February 17. The same dates were used to define a review of cartoons posted at the website of the socially conservative Townhall.

Together the two sites offered six GND cartoons posted by the 27 left-leaning cartoonists whose work is archived at Gocomics.com, and 28 cartoons posted by 19 right-leaning cartoonists (13 whose work is archived at Gocomics.com and another six whose work was archived by Townhall.com).

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1 comments


New rebuttal to the myth 'Holistic Management can reverse Climate Change'

Posted on 18 March 2019 by Seb V

This is the new Basic rebuttal to the myth 'Holistic Management can reverse Climate Change'.  There's also an Advanced rebuttal.

The Myth:

Holistic Management can reverse Climate Change 
“Holistic management as a planned grazing strategy is able to reverse desertification and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide into soil, reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to pre-industrial levels in a period of forty years.” (Allan Savory, 2014)

The Rebuttal:

Holistic Management is a form of grazing management that has become popularised in recent years by Allan Savory, founder of the Savory Institute. The management technique has been subject of international attention, mainly due to the infamous TED talk that Savory gave in 2014. Savory preaches that Holistic Management, applied to most of the world’s grassland, can increase productivity of farms and reverse climate change. His explanation is that livestock, grouped in large herds, will ‘mimic nature’ and increase plant growth because of this. The increased plant growth will then, according the Savory, be able to store a great deal of carbon into soil by taking the carbon out of the atmosphere, thus reducing the level of carbon dioxide contributing to the greenhouse effect. He claims all of this can be achieved in 40 years.

Quite simply, it is not possible to increase productivity, increase numbers of cattle and store carbon using any grazing strategy, never-mind Holistic Management. There are several factors which are important in controlling the ability of soils to store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A list of these factors, and their importance and relevance to Holistic Management, is listed here:

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23 comments


2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #11

Posted on 17 March 2019 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... SkS in the News... Reports of Note... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 

Story of the Week...

Here's a running list of all the ways climate change has altered Earth in 2019

Temperature Differences Fahrenheit NASA 

Earth is now the warmest it's been in some 120,000 years. Eighteen of the last 19 years have been the warmest on record. And concentrations of carbon dioxide — a potent greenhouse gas — are likely the highest they've been in 15 million years.

The consequences of such a globally-disrupted climate are many, and it's understandably difficult to keep track. To help, here's a list of climate-relevant news that has transpired in 2019, from historically unprecedented disappearances of ice, to flood-ravaged cities. As more news comes out, the list will be updated.

Here's a running list of all the ways climate change has altered Earth in 2019 by Mark Kaufman, Science, Mashable, Mar 16, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #11

Posted on 16 March 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 10 through Sat, Mar 16, 2019

Editor's Pick

Students globally protest warming, pleading for their future

  'Friday For Future Movement' in Berlin, Germany, Friday, March 15, 2019

Students attend a protest rally of the 'Friday For Future Movement' in Berlin, Germany, Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) 

Thousands of New York City students protested at locations including Columbus Circle, City Hall, the American Museum of Natural History and a football field at the Bronx High School of Science. Police said 16 protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct charges for blocking traffic at the museum.

The coordinated “school strikes” were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year. 

Thousands of New York City students protested at locations including Columbus Circle, City Hall, the American Museum of Natural History and a football field at the Bronx High School of Science. Police said 16 protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct charges for blocking traffic at the museum.

The coordinated “school strikes” were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year. 

Students globally protest warming, pleading for their future by Frank Jordans & Seth Borenstein, AP News, Mar 15, 2019

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10 comments


New research, March 4-10, 2019

Posted on 14 March 2019 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below. This post has separate sections for: Climate Change, Climate Change Impacts, Climate Change Mitigation, and Other Papers.

Climate change

Estimates of Decadal Climate Predictability from an Interactive Ensemble Model

Temperature, precipitation, wind

Lyapunov exponents and temperature transitions in a warming Australia

Recent Surface Air Temperature Change over Mainland China Based on an Urbanization-Bias Adjusted Dataset

Spatial patterns of trends in seasonal extreme temperatures in India during 1980–2010 (open access)

Predictability of North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature and Upper Ocean Heat Content

Human influence on winter precipitation trends (1921‐2015) over North America and Eurasia revealed by dynamical adjustment

A probabilistic gridded product for daily precipitation extremes over the United States (open access)

A review of past and projected changes in Australia's rainfall

Interdecadal seesaw of precipitation variability between North China and the Southwest US (open access)

Predictable and Unpredictable Aspects of US West Coast Rainfall and El Niño: Understanding the 2015-2016 Event

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Hopes for our climate future

Posted on 13 March 2019 by Guest Author

Stopping climate change doesn't have to stop at stopping climate change. Join me as I imagine a future that is a bit brighter than today, and not just because we don't have to worry about global warming.

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Wallace Broecker: Scientists memorialize a titan of climate science

Posted on 12 March 2019 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bud Ward

Wallace BroekerWally Broecker, photographed around 2010 (Credit: Bruce Gilbert, via Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)

The climate science community has lost one of the real titans of its field.

Geochemist Wallace Broecker – known as “Wally” – passed away February 18 in New York at age 87 of congestive heart failure.

A pioneer in identifying Earth’s warming as a result of human emissions of carbon dioxide, Broecker is widely credited with introducing in the 1970s the term “global warming.” A 1996 winner of the National Medal of Science, Broecker is credited also with being the first to identify (and name) the ocean conveyor belt.

At Columbia University – where he earned his B.A., M.A., and PhD degrees – Broecker was a stalwart of the renowned Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, LDEO.

In an insightful formal remembrance of Broecker, Columbia University Earth Institute Senior Science Writer Kevin Krajick, in his “Prophet of Climate Change” obituary, recalled a 1998 New York Times article. “My great joy in life comes in figuring something out,” Broecker told the newspaper. “I figure something out about every six months or so, and I write about it and encourage research on it, and that’s the joy of my life.”

Krajick captured the essence of Broecker in reporting:

Broecker, who suffered from dyslexia, never got around to learning how to type or use a personal computer. He wrote with a pencil and a notepad, and had staffers retype manuscripts and e-mails. He was known for his friendly demeanor, but also for his bluntness and volcanic temper; he publicly skewered grad students and senior scientists alike for sloppy work.

Yale Climate Connections asked several top climate scientists to share their memories of “Wally.” Their responses, capturing the technical excellence of his life’s work, are presented below in alphabetical order:

Richard B. Alley, Penn State University, University Park, Pa.:

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The temperature evolution after 2016 suggests hotter future

Posted on 11 March 2019 by Ari Jokimäki

Heat has been accumulating to the Earth's climate system quite steadily for decades. This has not prevented the apparent slowdown of warming seen in global mean surface temperature (GMST) since 1998 to become one of the pet claims for climate misinformers. Recently, we discussed this issue in our two papers (paper 1, paper 2).

There are many factors that affect the GMST at any time, which causes the GMST to show quite a lot of variability especially in short term. This variability means that even in the presence of overall long-term warming, almost at any time it is possible to claim that it hasn't warmed since the year X (like the escalator graph so neatly demonstrates). As time goes by, you have to update the X, because with long-term warming you get a new high peak every now and then making it impossible to keep the same X all the time.

Currently there is a transition period going on. While some of the misinformers are still desperately clinging to the expired X = 1998, some of them have switched to X = 2016 (and some of them have curiously taken a kind of a middle ground by claiming that after 2016, we are back at the "hiatus level", but this usually requires some creative, Y-axis inflating graph trickery).

The cherry pick of 2016 is the same as the cherry pick of 1998 - a strong El Niño which is known to elevate the GMST temporarily. With this in mind, I decided to compare the temperature evolution after 2016 to what happened after 1998. I also went a step further and included the temperature evolution relating to another strong El Niño of 1982-1983 that happened during the modern global warming era.

First, let's see how these compare to each other when time window is comparable to the 2016 event. Below I have plotted the temperature evolution of all these three events in the same graph so that they have been offset by their means over the time period equivalent to 2015-2018 (Starting slightly before the 2016 El Niño and extending it to end of 2018 which is the last full year that GISS monthly data currently contains). For the 1998 event this time window is 1997-2000 and for the 1983 event it is 1982-1985. The Y- and X-axis of the graph show the values corresponding to the 1998 event.

(Link to a bigger version of the graph.)

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34 comments


2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #10

Posted on 10 March 2019 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... John Cook in the News... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Rain Is Triggering More Melting on the Greenland Ice Sheet — in Winter, Too

Pulses of melting linked to rainfall doubled in summer and tripled in winter, a new climate change study found. That's a problem for sea level rise.

Scientists on Greenland ice sheet

The total precipitation over the Greenland Ice Sheet didn’t change over the study period, but more of it fell as rain. The scientists estimated that almost a third of the total runoff they observed was triggered by rainfall. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When a frozen snowflake falls on the Greenland Ice Sheet, it lands with a whisper and stays frozen, sometimes for months.

But raindrops splat down, making little craters and melting some of the adjacent snow crystals. Multiplied across thousands of square miles, they can trigger widespread melting and runoff, which can lead to more sea level rise.

A new analysis of satellite and weather data shows that melting associated with rain in Greenland doubled in the summers and tripled in the winters from 1988 to 2012 as temperatures rose , scientists write in a studypublished Thursday in The Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union.

The total precipitation over the ice sheet didn't change over the study period, but more of it fell as rain, the study found. The scientists estimated that almost a third of the total runoff measured was triggered by rainfall.

They also found that melting events triggered by rain lasted longer, lengthening from an average of two days to three in the summer, and from two days to five in the winter. 

Rain Is Triggering More Melting on the Greenland Ice Sheet, Including in Winter by Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, Mar 8, 2019 

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2 comments


2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #10

Posted on 9 March 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 3 through Sat, Mar 9, 2019

Editor's Pick

Adults won’t take climate change seriously. So we, the youth, are forced to strike.

Global Climate Strike 03-15-19 

Editor’s note: The authors are the lead organizers of US Youth Climate Strike, part of a global student movement inspired by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg’s weekly school strikes in Sweden and other European countries.

Adults won’t take climate change seriously. So we, the youth, are forced to strike. by Maddy Fernands, Isra Hirsi, Haven Coleman & Alexandria Villaseñor, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Mar 7, 2019 

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New research, February 25 - March 3, 2019

Posted on 8 March 2019 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below. This post has separate sections for: Climate Change, Climate Change Impacts, Climate Change Mitigation, and Other Papers. 

Climate change mitigation

Climate Policy

Institutional and environmental effectiveness: Will the Paris Agreement work?

What are the implications of the Paris Agreement for inequality?

Current and future struggles to eliminate coal

Supply-Side Climate Policy: On the Role of Exploration and Asymmetric Information

The politics of fossil fuel subsidies and their reform: Implications for climate change mitigation

Governmentality and the climate-development nexus: The case of the EU Global Climate Change Alliance

Energy production

Natural Hazards special issue: Energy economy system and risk management: a contribution toward China meeting its goals for the Paris climate accord

Reducing emissions from consumer energy storage using retail rate design

Sustainably reconciling offshore renewable energy with Natura 2000 sites: An interim adaptive management framework

Carbon and evapotranspiration dynamics of a non-native perennial grass with biofuel potential in the southern U.S. Great Plains

Advancing knowledge of gas migration and fugitive gas from energy wells in northeast British Columbia, Canada

Recommendation to ASEAN nuclear development based on lessons learnt from the Fukushima nuclear accident

Public receptivity in China towards wind energy generators: A survey experimental approach

Scenarios for withdrawal of oil palm plantations from peatlands in Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia (open access)

The trilemma of waste-to-energy: A multi-purpose solution

Future European shale gas life-cycle GHG emissions for electric power generation in comparison to other fossil fuels

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SkS Analogy 19 - A table full of crystal and ideal temperature

Posted on 7 March 2019 by Evan, jg

Tag Line

A table stacked high with delicate crystal is beautiful to look at, but impossible to move without significant breakage.

Elevator Statement

Stack crystal plates, bowls, glasses, and figurines on top of each other on a table. Done by a skilled artist it is a pleasure to look at. But try to move this delicate work of art from one place to another. The faster you move it the more damage there will be. The more crystal that is placed on the table and the higher it is stacked, the more precarious it is to keep balanced, and the more breakage occurs if the table is moved.

If the table had been placed at a different location before stacking the crystal, it could have been filled with the same crystal and created a similar, beautiful masterpiece at a different location. But stacking the table full of crystal and then moving it to a new place causes significant breakage.

Table full of crystal
So it is when we populate Earth with 8 billion beautiful people, inhabiting all of the available habitable zones, and then alter the location of the habitable zones through rapid changes in temperature, precipitation, and storms. Increasing the average temperature of the earth is not so much the problem as is the rate at which we are changing the temperature. The faster we raise the temperature, the faster climate changes, the quicker that habitable zones move, and the less time there is to adapt (i.e., move from one habitable zone to another).

Some ask rhetorically what Earth’s ideal temperature is. This is like asking what a table’s ideal location is. Damage occurs to the crystal on a table not because it is or is not in the ideal location, but because the table is moved after it is fully loaded with delicate crystal.

To minimize breakage, a table stacked high with crystal must either be moved extremely slowly, or left in its current location.

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Inequality, Sunk Costs, and Climate Policy

Posted on 5 March 2019 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from TripleCrisis by Frank Ackerman. Fifth in a series on climate policy; find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

Climate change is at once a common problem that threatens us all, and a source of differential harms based on location and resources. We are all on the same boat, in perilous waters – but some of us have much nicer cabins than others. What is the relationship of inequality to climate policy?

The ultimate economic obstacle to climate policy is the long life of so many investments. Housing can last for a century or more, locking residents into locations that made sense long ago. Business investments often survive for decades. These investments, in the not-so-distant past, assumed continuation of cheap oil and minimally regulated coal – thereby building in a commitment to high carbon emissions. Now, in a climate-aware world, we need to treat all fossil fuels as expensive and maintain stringent regulation of coal. And it is impossible to repurpose many past investments for the new era: they are sunk costs, valuable only in their original location or industry.

If we could wave a magic wand and have a complete do-over on urban planning, we could create a new, more comfortable and more sustainable way of life. Transit-centered housing complexes, surrounded by green spaces and by local amenities and services, could offer convenient car-free links to major employment sites. Absent a magic wand, the challenge is how to get there from here, in a short enough time frame to matter for climate policy.

Space is the final frontier in energy use. Instead of shared public spaces for all, an ever-more-unequal society allows the rich to enjoy immense private spaces, such as McMansions situated on huge exurban lots. This leads to higher heating and cooling costs for oversized housing, and to higher infrastructure costs in general: longer pipes, wires and travel distances between houses. And it locks in a commitment to low population density and long individual commutes. Outside of the biggest cities, much of the United States is too sparsely settled for mass transit.

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2 comments


Next self-paced run of Denial101x starts on March 5

Posted on 4 March 2019 by BaerbelW

The next iteration of our free online course, Making Sense of Climate Science Denial, starts on March 5 and it will be the 12th run since the very first one in April 2015. Since then, more than 40,000 students from over 180 countries have registered for our MOOC which has been running either as a 7 weeks long paced or a longer running self-paced version like the upcoming one. The next run will be our longest self-paced run thus far and will stay open until December 17 2019, giving you ample time to work through the material at your own pace.

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59 comments


2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #9

Posted on 3 March 2019 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Opinion of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

How the Weather Gets Weaponized in Climate Change Messaging

Snow in Buffalo NY

Clearing snow in Buffalo, N.Y., in January. Credit:Lindsay Dedario/Reuters<

In the summer, when heat waves scorch cities or heavy rains flood the coasts, some climate scientists and environmentalists will point out any plausible connections to global warming, hoping today’s weather will help people understand tomorrow’s danger from climate change.

Then winter comes. And, like clockwork, those who want to deny the established science that humans are warming the planet will try to flip the script. In January, when large swaths of the country were gripped by bitter cold, President Trump took to Twitter to mock climate fears: “Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”

Welcome to the weather wars. As battle lines harden between climate advocates and deniers, both are increasingly using bouts of extreme weather as a weapon to try to win people to their side. Weather, after all, is one of the easiest things for people to bond over or gripe about, a staple of small talk and shared experience that can make it a simple but powerful opportunity to discuss global warming.

But, as Mr. Trump’s words show, it’s also a framing device that can be easily abused. That raises the stakes for how scientists, who have long tried to distinguish between short-term weather fluctuations and long-term climate shifts, draw out and discuss the links between the two.

How the Weather Gets Weaponized in Climate Change Messaging by Brad Plumer, Climate, New York Times, Mar 1, 2019

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