IN May, Scott Pruitt wrote an article suggesting that protecting the environment and its people are examples of government overreach. Now, Pruitt is head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal agency whose mission is “to protect human health and the environment.”
We challenge Pruitt to take this mission seriously and reconsider his public statements on science, climate change and our national need for environmental protection. We have a message for Pruitt: We are scientists and we are not going away. And neither is climate change.
Pruitt has claimed that “healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy.” We agree. In fact, the scientific enterprise is built on debate, along with skepticism, conflict and progress. But do you know what we do not debate anymore? Basic physical science — like the fact that Earth’s climate is changing, or like the fact that the planet spins in a certain direction, or that the ocean’s tides are influenced by the moon. As a scientific community, we have immense consensus on these issues.
Posted on 22 February 2017 by dana1981
A month into his presidency, Donald Trump already has a minus-8 job approval rating (43% approve, 51% disapprove). Congress has a minus-50 approval rating, and the Republican Party has a minus-14 favorability rating. All are facing widespread protests, marches, and public resistance. Hundreds of concerned constituents have been showing up to town hall events held by Republican Congressmen, like this one with Tom McClintock (R-CA):
His constituents asked McClintock about the current hot-button issues: repealing Obamacare, the border wall, the Muslim ban, and climate change.
The first three topics have strong support from the Republican base, but they’re unpopular among most of the rest of Americans. That’s why Trump’s approval is held afloat by Republican support (about 85% approve), while only 35% of independents and fewer than 10% of Democrats view him favorably. In fact, they view these policies so unfavorably that there are constant mass protests. And then there’s this:
Trump and the Republican Party need an issue and a policy that has strong support among all Americans. Climate change and a carbon tax fit the bill perfectly.
Americans - including Republicans - support climate solutions
Surveys by Yale and George Mason universities have shown that Trump voters support taking action to address climate change.
- 69% of Americans - including about half of Trump voters - think the US should participate in the Paris climate agreement.
- 80% of Americans - including 62% of Trump voters - agree that the US should regulate and/or tax carbon pollution. More Trump voters support doing both (31%) than doing neither (21%).
- 70% of Americans - including about half of Trump voters – support the EPA carbon pollution regulations that House Republicans are trying to eliminate.
- 66% of Americans support a carbon tax, as do about half of Trump voters.
- 81% of Americans - including 73% of Trump voters - think the country should use more renewable energy.
- 55% Americans - including 33% of Trump voters - think we should use less fossil fuels than we do today. Only 31% of Trump voters think we should use more fossil fuels.
Posted on 21 February 2017 by greenman3610
This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections
Models long have been targeted as a weak link by those steadfastly refusing to accept mainstream climate science.
But a review of their actual performance paints a different picture.
This month’s original “This is Not Cool” video by independent videographer Peter Sinclair offers strong evidence supporting the value of climate models in helping forecast global warming. He weaves together a string of archival televised presentations, classroom lectures, congressional testimony, and one-on-one interviews in relating how climate models frequently have provided valuable insights into coming developments only later seen by direct observation.
It will come as no great surprise to the professional climate modeling community, but the testimonials in the video suggest that those dismissive of the mainstream climate science may have to find a new target for their barbs.
Sinclair in the video uses his familiar blend of new and decades-old footage to document numerous important cases in which climate models called things right, ranging from the “whole warming of the earth that’s occurred over the last few decades” to the more rapid warming of the Arctic and of continental interior regions, and faster warming of night than of daytime.
Posted on 20 February 2017 by dana1981
The evacuation of nearly 200,000 people near Oroville Dam is the kind of event that makes climate change personal. A co-worker of mine was forced out of his home for several days by the emergency evacuation, and another friend was visiting Lake Oroville and happened to leave 15 minutes before the evacuation order was issued.
Like many extreme events, the Oroville emergency is a combination of natural weather likely intensified by climate change. California regularly sees “atmospheric rivers” that deluge the state with rainfall, but in a hotter world, scientists anticipate that they’ll be amplified by an increase in the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.
Northern California is in the midst of its wettest rainy season on record – twice as wet as the 20th century average, and 35% wetter than the previous record year. It proved to be almost too much for America’s tallest dam to handle. Water managers were forced to use Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway for the first time ever, which then began to erode, posing the threat of a failure and catastrophic flooding of nearby towns.
Posted on 19 February 2017 by John Hartz
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Story of the Week...
Big waves generated by the Nazare canyon just off the coast of Nazare, central Portugal, in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. (Francisco Leong/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
A large research synthesis, published in one of the world’s most influential scientific journals, has detected a decline in the amount of dissolved oxygen in oceans around the world — a long-predicted result of climate change that could have severe consequences for marine organisms if it continues.
The paper, published Wednesday in the journal Nature by oceanographer Sunke Schmidtko and two colleagues from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, found a decline of more than 2 percent in ocean oxygen content worldwide between 1960 and 2010. The loss, however, showed up in some ocean basins more than others. The largest overall volume of oxygen was lost in the largest ocean — the Pacific — but as a percentage, the decline was sharpest in the Arctic Ocean, a region facing Earth’s most stark climate change.
The loss of ocean oxygen “has been assumed from models, and there have been lots of regional analysis that have shown local decline, but it has never been shown on the global scale, and never for the deep ocean,” said Schmidtko, who conducted the research with Lothar Stramma and Martin Visbeck, also of GEOMAR.
It’s official: The oceans are losing oxygen, posing growing threats to marine life by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Feb 15, 2017
El Niño/La Niña Update...
During the second half of 2016, tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures were at borderline weak La Niña/cool-neutral levels. Many atmospheric ENSO indicators also approached or exceeded La Niña thresholds. During January 2017, tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures and some atmospheric fields clearly returned to ENSO-neutral levels. With weak La Niña signals since mid-2016, in some regions the influence of other climate drivers may have equaled or even outweighed that of ENSO.
Most of the climate models surveyed indicate neutral conditions will persist during the first half of 2017. Although there is a range of possibilities beyond May 2017, the re-emergence of La Niña appears the least likely scenario, with neutral ENSO conditions and El Niño both possible during the second half of 2017. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services will continue to closely monitor changes in the state of ENSO over the coming months.
El Niño/La Niña Update, World Meterological Organization (WMO), Feb 16, 2017
Posted on 18 February 2017 by John Hartz
A chronological listing of the news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week.
Sun Feb 12, 2017
- Canada’s Censored Scientists Are Helping American Researchers Resist Trump by Stephen Beranyi, Motherboard, Feb 9, 2017
- Droughts and flooding rains already more likely as climate change plays havoc with Pacific weather by Scott P Power, Brad Murphy, Christine Chung, François Delage & Hua Ye, The Conversation AU, Feb 9, 2017
- Why NOAA updates its sea surface temperature record, Guest post by Peter Thorne, Carbon Brief, Feb 10, 2017
- Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces by Melissa Davey, Guardian, Feb 12, 2017
- Simple equation shows how human activity is trashing the planet by Owen Gaffney, New Scientist, Feb 10, 2017
- We may live in a post-truth era, but nature does not, Opinion by Cynthia Barnett, Los Angeles Times, Feb 10, 2017
- Open Season on Climate Science by Michael Mann, UnDark, Feb 10, 2017
- Can a children's lawsuit force action on climate change? by Patrick Reilly, Christian Science Monitor, Feb 11, 2017
Posted on 17 February 2017 by Rob Honeycutt
Below is an excerpted chapter from my book, Twenty-eight Climate Change Elevator Pitches.
The purpose of this book is to deliver basic climate science information to the public in a simple and time efficient manner. Even when people have an interest in climate and accept that we face a critical challenge, they still have busy lives. They have responsibilities at home and work that keep them fully occupied. Climate science is a big complex issue that requires considerable effort to understand. I find that there are large numbers of people out there who only have a limited understanding of climate change and have limited time to dig into the details. Ultimately, I think this potentially limits how engaged they become. So, for those people, I've written up these "elevator pitches" to try to get the most information possible across in under 2-minutes per topic.
Many of the regulars at Skeptical Science already know this information. All of you have friends who don't. All of you know people who want to understand more about this issue. You probably already refer them to SkS for reliable information on climate change. And while SkS is a great way to dispel climate myths and keep up with topical events, many people need a comprehensive primer course that fits into a busy professional schedule.
I've written 28 chapters and self-published them on Blurb.com, on iBooks and Kindle. I also have a long list of other chapters that I hope to add to these. All the graphics I've created myself with the hopes of bringing some life and visual engagement into the equation.
Following this I will try to post one chapter a month while I continue to work on new chapters.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Chapter 01 - Ancient Sunlight
Posted on 16 February 2017 by John Abraham
As humans burn fossil fuels and release greenhouse gases, those gases enter the atmosphere where they cause increases in global temperatures and climate consequences such as more frequent and severe heat waves, droughts, changes to rainfall patterns, and rising seas. But for many years scientists have known that not all of the carbon dioxide we emit ends up in the atmosphere. About 40% actually gets absorbed in the ocean waters.
I like to use an analogy from everyday experience: the ocean is a little like a soda. When we shake soda, it fizzes. That fizz is the carbon dioxide coming out of the liquid (that is why sodas are called “carbonated beverages”). We’re doing the reverse process in the climate. Our carbon dioxide is actually going into the oceans.
The process of absorption is not simple – the amount of carbon dioxide that the ocean can hold depends on the ocean temperatures. Colder waters can absorb more carbon; warmer waters can absorb less. So, a prevailing scientific view is that as the oceans warm, they will become less and less capable of taking up carbon dioxide. As a result, more of our carbon pollution will stay in the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming. But it’s clear that at least for now, the oceans are doing us a tremendous favor by absorbing large amounts of carbon pollution.
How much carbon dioxide is being absorbed by the oceans is an active area of research. In particular, scientists are closely watching the oceans to see if their ability to absorb is changing over time. Such a study is the topic of a very recent paper published in the journal Nature. The authors studied recent ocean carbon dioxide uptake and in particular the mystery of why it appears the oceans are actually becoming more absorbing.
Posted on 15 February 2017 by Sarah
Forbes has trotted out another entirely ignorant piece on climate change, "Is Anything Wrong With Natural, Non-Man-Made Climate Change?" this time by fake expert Mario Loyola, a lawyer with a background in European history. I guess Forbes considers those credentials give him the expertise to communicate the complexities of climate change. Presumably Forbes would hire a physicist as counsel for a lawsuit concerning corporate governance (Loyola's actual area of formal disciplinary expertise).
Loyola first invents a straw man in the form of a mythical ‘environmentalist’. This fantastical creature thinks climate change is bad only because it is caused by humans and would not object to catastrophic climate change if it was natural. Loyola goes on to claim that some people “flatly deny that temperatures and sea levels could be rising partly for natural reasons”. If such people exist, I have never met one. Most of us learn about natural climate change in elementary school when we first read that the climate of the dinosaurs was much different than our current one.
And most of us are able to recognize that multiple drivers combine to give an observed outcome. A car moves from the combined effects of the engine, the slope of the road, and the wind. Climate change is not either human-caused or natural; it is both. We also know that one driver can be much more important than others. The fact that your cat adds heat to your house doesn’t mean your furnace is irrelevant. According to Loyola logic, because natural volcanoes have caused catastrophic devastation in the past we shouldn’t try to prevent humans from releasing a nuclear bomb.
Loyola diligently searched the IPCC AR5 Summary for Policymakers to find a quote to bolster his claims that current climate change could be caused by something other than humans. He chose this one for his misinterpretation: ”It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together." If he had read and understood the report, he would know that his chosen quote about surface air temperatures doesn’t include heating of the oceans, which are absorbing 90% of the excess energy that is warming the planet.
Posted on 14 February 2017 by BaerbelW
If you are reading the comments on basically any climate change related article, it won't take long to get to one (or more!) commenters boldly claiming that "climate scientists are only in it for the money". This will often be accompanied by outrageously high $ amounts to really get anybody's hackles up but without any real evidence for their statement.
This article is intended to be a repository listing resources you can use to counter this unsubstantiated claim whenever it crops up somewhere. Some are blog posts, some are videos while others come from social media postings.
One of the best explanations of why the claim is just absurd comes from Richard Alley in this interview snippet:
Many of the scientists interviewed for Denial101x also explain why they do what they do and it doesn't have anything to do with money (big surprise!). All those expert interviews are available in the Wakelet-collection Denial101x Expert Interviews
John Timmer in ArsTechnica (May 2012) - Accusations that climate science is money-driven reveal ignorance of how science is done
Posted on 13 February 2017 by dana1981
Wikipedia editors recently voted to ban the Daily Mail tabloid as a source for their website after deeming it “generally unreliable.” To put the severity of this decision in context, Wikipedia still allows references to Russia Today and Fox News, both of which display a clear bias toward the ruling parties of their respective countries.
It thus may seem like a remarkable decision for Wikipedia to ban the Daily Mail, but fake news stories by David Rose in two consecutive editions of the Mail on Sunday – which echoed throughout the international conservative media – provide perfect examples of why the decision was justified and wise.
Debunked David Rose doubles down, goes full Trump
I knew people would misuse this. But you can’t control other people.
Most importantly, the scientific integrity of the NOAA data is indisputable. The organization’s global temperature data is nearly identical to that of other scientific groups like NASA, the Hadley Centre, and Berkeley Earth.
Posted on 12 February 2017 by John Hartz
Story of the Week... La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... SkS in the News... Photo of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...
Story of the Week...
Researchers behind ‘Anthropocene equation’ say impact of people’s intense activity on Earth far exceeds that of natural events spread across millennia
For the first time, researchers have developed a mathematical equation to describe the impact of human activity on the earth, finding people are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces.
The equation was developed in conjunction with Professor Will Steffen, a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, and was published in the journal The Anthropocene Review.
The authors of the paper wrote that for the past 4.5bn years astronomical and geophysical factors have been the dominating influences on the Earth system. The Earth system is defined by the researchers as the biosphere, including interactions and feedbacks with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and upper lithosphere.
But over the past six decades human forces “have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth system,” the authors wrote, giving rise to a period known as the Anthropocene.
“Human activities now rival the great forces of nature in driving changes to the Earth system,” the paper said.
Steffen and his co-researcher, Owen Gaffney, from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, came up with an “Anthropocene Equation” to determine the impact of this period of intense human activity on the earth
Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces by Melissa Davey, Guardian, Feb 12, 2017
Journal reference: The Anthropocene Review, doi: 10.1177/2053019616688022
Simple equation shows how human activity is trashing the planet by Owen Gaffney, New Scientist, Feb 10, 2017
Posted on 12 February 2017 by John Hartz
A chronological listing of the news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week.
Sun Feb 5, 2017
- Turnbull's new climate and energy adviser worked for coal industry lobby group by Michael Slezak, Guardian, Feb 2, 2017
- Dakota Access Pipeline: Army Corps Is Ordered to Comply With Trump's Order by Phil McKenna, InsideClimate News, Feb 3, 2017
- Don’t expect climate action from Rex Tillerson. He’s a lukewarmer. by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Feb 2, 2017
- Climate Change’s Bottom Line by Burt Helm, Energy & Environment, New York Times, Jan 31, 2017
- Mail on Sunday launches the first salvo in the latest war against climate scientists by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Guardian, Feb 5, 2017
- Trump's Choices 'Detrimental to the Planet and People,' Environmental Sociologists Say by Zahra Hirji, InsideClimate News, Feb 3, 2017
- Greenland Ice Sheet Melting 600 Percent Faster Than Predicted by Current Models by Dimitri Lascaris, The Real News Network, Feb 3, 2016
- A punchy climate book from a citizen scientist by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Guardian, Feb 3, 2017
- Scott Pruitt Is Seen Cutting the E.P.A. With a Scalpel, Not a Cleaver, by Coral Davenport, New York Times, Feb 5, 2017
Posted on 10 February 2017 by John Cook
A famous psychology experiment instructed participants to watch a short video, counting the number of times players in white shirts passed the ball. If you haven’t seen it before, I encourage you to give the following short video your full attention and follow the instructions:
At the end, participants discovered the point of the video when asked if they had observed the gorilla walking through the players. Half the participants didn’t notice the gorilla at all. The lesson? When we laser-focus on specific details (like players in white shirts), we can miss the gorilla in the room.
What does this have to do with climate change? I’m a cognitive psychologist interested in better understanding and countering the techniques used to distort the science of climate change. I’ve found that understanding why some people reject climate science offers insight into how they deny science. By better understanding the techniques employed, you can counter misinformation more effectively.
Every movement that has rejected a scientific consensus, whether it be on evolution, climate change or the link between smoking and cancer, exhibits the same five characteristics of science denial (concisely summarized by the acronym FLICC). These are fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations, cherry picking and conspiracy theories. When someone wants to cast doubt on a scientific finding, FLICC is an integral part of the misinformation toolbox.
Posted on 9 February 2017 by dana1981
This weekend, conservative media outlets launched an attack on climate scientists with a manufactured scandal. The fake news originated from an accusation made by former NOAA scientist John Bates about a 2015 paper by some of his NOAA colleagues. The technical term to describe the accusation is ‘a giant nothingburger’ (in this case, a NOAA-thing burger) as Bates clarified in an interview with E&E News:
The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data, but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was.
Bates later told Science Insider that he was concerned that climate science deniers would misuse his complaints, but proceeded anyway because he felt it was important to start a conversation about data integrity:
I knew people would misuse this. But you can’t control other people.
“Misuse” is the understatement of the year
Misuse it people did – and how! Bates’ complaints boiled down to the fact that the paper didn’t have “a disclaimer at the bottom saying that it was citing research, not operational, data for its land-surface temperatures.” The Mail on Sunday (just banned by Wikipedia as an unreliable source) warped that minor procedural criticism into the sensationalist headline “Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data.”
The story then spread through the international conservative media like a global warming-intensified wildfire - to Breitbart, Fox News, Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, and more. Scott Johnson summed up the fake news story perfectly in an article at Ars Technica:
At its core, though, it’s not much more substantial than claiming the Apollo 11 astronauts failed to file some paperwork and pretending this casts doubt on the veracity of the Moon landing.
Posted on 8 February 2017 by Rob Honeycutt
In an online discussion last week I was directed to a 2012 article on the Forbes website written by businessman named Warren Meyer, titled Understanding the Global Warming Debate. The article contains a wide range of misleading and misinformed assumptions ostensibly to explain why there is a debate on climate change. I always see dissecting articles like these as a great opportunity to better understand the actual science over the perceived controversy of climate contrarians. Though the reference is somewhat dated now, this is the internet, so it lives in virtual perpetuity relative to how much traffic it receives. Over the past 5 years this article has received 186,000 views. That, in itself, makes this article worthy of addressing as an example of how motivated non-scientists get the science wrong.
Errors Straight Out of the Box
Mr. Meyer opens with a misleading attempt to frame the issue as a debate on "catastrophic man-man global warming theory." This approach conflates two very distinct elements of the science on anthropogenic climate change. Nowhere in the published scientific literature can you find the phrase he uses. When I did a search on this term in Google Scholar, what did I find? Mr. Meyer's Forbes article. Also searching "catastrophic man-made climate change" I get a smattering of non-research related materials coming from people who rejecting human influence on climate. Meyer has formed a completely irrelevant and fabricated framing of the issue for the basis of his discussion.
In Mr. Meyer's article he claims this is the "core theory" and states that he will use the IPCC as the primary source for this, even though there is no place where the IPCC frames climate change in this manner.
Compounding His Errors
In explaining "how this works" Mr. Meyer connects greenhouse gas effects, to warming, to impacts, but he immediately begins to demonstrate a lack of understanding about the science.