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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?

 


The missing maths: the human cost of fossil fuels

Posted on 26 April 2018 by Guest Author

Dr. Ploy Achakulwisut is a Postdoctoral Scientist at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She has a PhD in Atmospheric Science from Harvard University.

While the climate policy world is littered with numbers, three of them have dominated recent discourse: 2, 1000, and 66. 

At the 2015 U.N. climate summit in Paris, world leaders agreed to limit global warming below 2°C to avoid catastrophic impacts of human-caused climate change. The science consequently dictates that, for a 50% chance of staying below 2°C, around 1,000 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (or 300 billion tonnes of carbon) can be emitted between now and 2050, and close to zero thereafter. We’re currently emitting 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. However, the potential greenhouse gas emissions contained in known, extractable fossil fuel reserves are around three times higher than this carbon budget, meaning that 66% must be kept in the ground.

The debate du jour thus centers on which emissions reduction pathway is most optimal for staying below 2°C. The calculus of many policymakers, economists, fossil fuel companies, and indeed scientists, is that the most economical way to stay below 2°C is to delay most emissions reductions for decades to come, and then to play catch up by relying heavily on as-yet technically and economically unviable negative-emissions technologies. However, a crucial number has been neglected in this mainstream calculation: 6.1 million.

Each year, 6.1 million lives are lost prematurely due to air pollution. Though most acutely and visibly hampering megacities of the developing world, air pollution is a growing public health emergency that affects almost all of us in our daily lives, whether or not we are aware of it. The Health Effects Institute estimates that only 5% of the global population are lucky enough to live in areas with air pollution levels below safe guidelines. Though recent studies suggest there may in fact be no risk-free level of air pollution.

Read more...

1 comments


America's best scientists stood up to the Trump administration

Posted on 25 April 2018 by John Abraham

Anyone who has read this column over the past five years knows that I tend to be unfettered in my criticism of people who lie and distort climate science to further their political ideologies. At the same time, I believe that the majority of climate sceptics are not willfully wishing to damage this precious Earth that we call home. I believe that there are common areas we can all agree on to take meaningful action to protect the Earth’s environment and build a new energy future; even for people who do not understand climate change or climate science.

But with the election of Donald Trump and his ushering in people who are openly hostile to the planet and future generations, my position has been strained (to say the least). We have had more than a year to observe President Trump’s efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations on pollution from coal plants, weaken pollution standards for motor vehicles, become the only country in the world to reject the Paris climate accord, and gut our climate science budget so that we become blind to what is actually happening. 

We have to believe Trump when he says that he thinks climate science is a hoaxand we have to expect he will act according to this belief. Under Trump, the USA has become a pariah nation. It hurts me to say this, because I love the USA and what it stands for. But regarding the environment, we are the worst of the worst.

Some people will claim I am “unpatriotic” or “unAmerican” to criticize my country. My response is, I am honest. A patriot is someone who loves their country and wants their country to meet the ideals that are the foundation of that nation. Patriotic means you want your country to be better; you want your country to make a positive impact. I believe that turning a blind eye to your country’s faults is a most deeply unpatriotic act. I want my country to excel, I want my country to lead, I want my country to be a shining light on a hill. If my country fails or falters in that endeavor, I will work tirelessly to correct our path. That, in my mind is patriotism.

President Trump has installed radical science deniers in his administration to obstruct climate science research, to stop development in clean and renewable energy (the economic growth engine of the future), and to attack scientists for doing their jobs. Among Trump’s most harmful acts was to appoint Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Scott Pruitt does not understand even basic climate science, and he doesn’t comprehend that climate change will be bad for human society

But it isn’t just Trump and Pruitt that are a problem. Everyone in the Trump administration seems hell-bent on damaging the planet. Recently, climate change denier Jim Bridenstine was confirmed by Senate Republicans to lead Nasa – one of the two most important climate science organizations in the country. Trump has brought with him a swamp filled with anti-science staff whose goal is to handicap the US and permanently remove us from any leadership role in the world.

To be clear, Trump, Pruitt, the entire administration, and those who support him will inherit a terrible legacy that we will not forget. These people will be known for willfully trying to destroy the planet that we rely on for health and prosperity.

Despite the attacks from the Trump/Pruitt Administration, some scientists have begun to speak out. This speaking out takes courage. I have the luxury of being unbridled in my work. My livelihood does not depend on federal research grants; I have no boss in Washington DC that can threaten me; Scott Pruitt cannot attack me; nor can President Trump. For a scientist like me, speaking out is low-risk.

But many of my colleagues are not so fortunate. Many of my colleagues, who have dedicated their lives to understanding the Earth’s environment, are employed by Washington. That is, they are able to carry out research by obtaining federal grants. These grants pay for their instruments (satellites, sea level gauges, weather balloons, supercomputers, etc.), their offices, salaries, and so forth. And when these scientists speak out, it is an act of courage and selflessness.

This week, many of these scientists have spoken out. In an open letter, over 600 scientists from the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (America’s best scientists) wrote the following:

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6 comments


Climate Science Denial Explained: The Denial Personality

Posted on 24 April 2018 by DPiepgrass

Continued from Part 2

When it comes to pseudo-skeptic behavior and motives, I'm no expert, but I'd like to share my sense of the kinds of behavior they use based on my debates with them. I'm sure frequent readers of SkS have their own impressions and I'd be interested in hearing about them.

They come in many flavors, but they tend to have some attributes in common. The core characteristic I noticed in debates was this: they will not engage with facts they don’t like.

If you make a weak argument (or if they misunderstand your argument), they will attack it relentlessly. But if you make a clear case that their reasoning is fallacious, or give them data they can't explain away, they will not engage. They simply ignore it, as though you had said nothing at all. Instead they will change the subject. I suppose how it works is, their brains contain a mental model in the form of a network of interconnected facts, myths and fallacies. They can let go of one or two fallacies temporarily, because the network has many more myths ready to compensate for the loss of one or two. But if you get too close to demolishing their core belief, they must ignore you to protect it,  like a Doctor Who perception filter.

Perhaps the key is that learning takes energy and deliberate effort, while ignoring is easy. If they make an effort to understand what you're saying, they risk overturning their own beliefs. Why should they bother? Their goal is to convince you, not to let you convince them. So they ignore you and push their narrative. If you do debate a pseudo-skeptic (and you shouldn’t until you spend some time studying the science and the myths), you’ll have to watch closely for the key arguments they have ignored, call them out on those, and spend little or no effort on the other points. It’s probably a bad habit that I tend to spend a lot of time doing research and write long responses; the longer it is, the easier it becomes to ignore you. Don’t waste your time. (Peter Hadfield suggests an easier approach, have a look.)

Here are some other characteristics I noticed:

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18 comments


Pruitt promised polluters EPA will value their profits over American lives

Posted on 23 April 2018 by dana1981

TIME magazine announced last week that Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is among their 100 most influential people of 2018. George W. Bush’s former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman delivered the scathing explanation:

If his actions continue in the same direction, during Pruitt’s term at the EPA the environment will be threatened instead of protected, and human health endangered instead of preserved, all with no long-term benefit to the economy.

As a perfect example of those actions, the Daily Caller recently reported that at a gathering at the fossil fuel-funded Heritage Institute, Pruitt announced that the EPA and federal government will soon end two important science-based practices in evaluating the costs and benefits of regulations.

Regulating pollutants has “co-benefits,” like saving lives

When the EPA regulates pollutants, the practice often yields what are called “co-benefits.” For example, limiting allowable mercury pollution can force dirty coal power plants to install pollution-control equipment or shut down. Since coal plants produce other pollutants like soot, the regulations not only reduce mercury levels, but also particulate matter in the air. The latter isn’t an intended consequence of the regulations, but creating cleaner air and healthier Americans are unintended “co-benefits” of limiting another pollutant.

In doing cost-benefit analyses, the EPA accounts for all direct benefits and indirect co-benefits of its regulations. Certain industry groups and conservative pundits don’t like that approach, because they care more about polluter profits than they do about clean air and healthy Americans. However, during the George W. Bush administration in 2003, the Office of Management and Budget issued a guidance saying that it’s important to consider co-benefits:

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4 comments


2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #16

Posted on 22 April 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week...  Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... SkS in the News... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

What Is Eating Away at the Greenland Ice Sheet?

A living carpet of microbes, dust and wind-blown soot is exacerbating ice melt as Arctic temperatures rise, and it's raising alarms about sea level rise.

Greenland Ice Sheet 

In the high-stakes race against sea level rise, understanding what's causing the Greenland Ice Sheet to melt is critical. The problem isn't just rising temperatures: soot from ships, wildfires and distant power plants, as well as dust and a living carpet of microbes on the surface of the ice, are all speeding up the melting.

Right now, predictions for sea level rise range from about 1 to 10 feet by 2100—a wide difference for coastal communities trying to plan seawalls and other protective measures.

The more we understand about how pollutants affect the ice, the more accurate those projections will be. So, let's take a look at what's happening on the ice sheet now—and the risks ahead. 

What Is Eating Away at the Greenland Ice Sheet? by Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, Apr 19, 2018 

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5 comments


2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

Posted on 21 April 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week.

Editor's Pick

Earth Day and the Hockey Stick: A Singular Message 

Hockey Stick 

Credit: Freestylephoto Getty Images

When the hockey stick was first attacked in the late 1990s I was initially reluctant to speak out, but I realized I had to defend myself against a cynical assault on my science and on me. I have come to embrace that role. What more noble cause is there than to fight to preserve our planet for our children and grandchildren?

There is great urgency to act now if we are to avert a dangerous 2- degree Celsius (3.6-degree Fahrenheit) planetary warming. My own recent work suggests the challenge is greater than previously thought. Yet I remain cautiously optimistic we will act in time. Along with many other Americans, I have been inspired by the renewed enthusiasm of our youth, who are demanding action now when it comes to the societal and environmental threats they face. Indeed, I have committed myself to helping insure a future in which we avoid catastrophic climate change. So let me conclude with this exhortation from the epilogue of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars:

“While slowly slipping away, that future is still within the realm of possibility. It is a matter of what path we choose to follow. I hope that my fellow scientists—and concerned individuals everywhere—will join me in the effort to make sure we follow the right one.” 

Earth Day and the Hockey Stick: A Singular Message, Opinion by Michael Mann, Observations, Scientific American, Apr 20, 2018

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2 comments


New research, April 9-15, 2018

Posted on 20 April 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

Climate change mitigation

1. Pathways limiting warming to 1.5°C: a tale of turning around in no time? (open access)

2. Climate change and technology: examining opinion formation of geoengineering

3. The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: A systematic review of methods for nexus assessment (open access)

4. What is the potential of cropland albedo management in the fight against global warming? A case study based on the use of cover crops (open access)

Emission reductions

5. Comparing nutritional, economic, and environmental performances of diets according to their levels of greenhouse gas emissions

"Diets with low GHGEs were characterized by a high nutritional quality. Primary energy consumption and land occupation increased with GHGEs (from Q1: 3978 MJ/year (95%CI = 3958–3997) to Q5: 8980 MJ/year (95%CI = 8924–9036)) and (from Q1: 1693 m2/year (95%CI = 1683–1702) to Q5: 7188 m2/year (95%CI = 7139–7238)), respectively. Finally, participants with lower GHGE related-diets were the highest organic food consumers. After adjustment for sex, age, and energy intake, monetary diet cost increased with GHGEs (from Q1: 6.89€/year (95%CI = 6.84–6.93) to Q5: 7.68€/year (95%CI = 7.62–7.74))."

6. Sustainability indicators in the swine industry of the Brazilian State of Santa Catarina

7. Will China's building sector participate in emission trading system? Insights from modelling an owner's optimal carbon reduction strategies

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0 comments


Skeptical Science at EGU 2018 - a personal diary

Posted on 19 April 2018 by BaerbelW

As mentioned in an earlier post, SkS was involved with some sessions at the European Geoscience Union's General Assembly in Vienna held from April 8 to 13. This blog post is my personal recap of some of the sessions I visited and of the two I actively participated in. As I do all my climate-related activities in my spare time the week in Vienna was vacation for me from my actual job in IT. This had the big advantage that I could basically pick and choose which sessions to go to as I didn't have to be anywhere specific apart from the two sessions I presented in. And yes, this may not be everybody's idea of how to spend a vacation, but I consider it time well spent!

As this is a fairly long post, you can jump to the individual days via these direct links:

AustriaCenter

Monday, April 9

As this was my first time at the EGU General Assembly, I figured it would be a good idea to start off with a short course offered specifically for newbie-attendees like myself: How to navigate the EGU: tips and tricks. It made for an early start but was well worth it with giving us all the lay of the land both for EGU  in general and the General Assembly in particular. We learned how the EGU is organised, that it's a non-profit bottom-up organisation with currently about 15,000 members. They had almost 18,000 abstracts submitted for EGU 2018.

To get some more details, I then went to the EGU Planeray session scheduled over lunch, which meant that attendees got treated to some free lunchtime snacks. I wonder if the room would have been quite as packed without those goodies!

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3 comments


Glacier loss is accelerating because of global warming

Posted on 18 April 2018 by John Abraham

With global warming, we can make predictions and then take measurements to test those predictions. One prediction (a pretty obvious one) is that a warmer world will have less snow and ice. In particular, areas that have year-round ice and snow will start to melt.

Alpine glaciers are large bodies of ice that can be formed high in mountains, typically in bowls called cirques. The ice slowly flows downwards, pulled by gravity, and is renewed in their upper regions. A sort of balance can occur where the loss of ice by melting or flowing at the bottom is equal to the gain of snow and ice by precipitation.

As the Earth warms, the melt line moves upwards so that the glacier melts faster and faster at the bottom, shortening the glacier and reducing its mass. Ultimately, the melted water flows into streams and rivers and ends up in the oceans, contributing to accelerating sea level rise.

While glaciers are interesting from an intellectual standpoint, they are also important to ecosystems and society. For example, the rate of glacier melt affects downstream water levels, river flowrates, and the water available for human use. So, it would be really important for us to be able to predict what will happen with glaciers in the future and plan for how water availability will change.

Of the groups that track glaciers, my favorite is the World Glacier Monitoring Service, which publishes a survey of the mass changes from selected glaciers around the world, available here and summarized below. The graph shows changes to the mass of the glaciers that are monitored, measured in millimeters of equivalent water.

glacier mass

Changes to water content of glaciers. Illustration: World Glacier Monitoring Service

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12 comments


Climate Science Denial Explained: Tactics of Denial

Posted on 17 April 2018 by DPiepgrass

Continued from Part 1

What they decline to understand

Thousands of climate scientists are working on all kinds of interesting subjects, from glaciology to oceanography to ecology to atmospheric physics. Some pseudo-skeptics don't understand that and seem to have no inkling of what climate scientists actually do.

Others, however, do understand that there's a large and sometimes-maybe-legitimate scientific endeavor going on, and they are happy to learn about some of that stuff, as long as they don't have to accept that human emissions cause warming.


While the land (red) has warmed faster than the ocean surface (blue), sea surface temperatures have the most impact on the global average because oceans cover 71% of earth’s surface. If global warming were caused by internal variability in the oceans (in other words, if the ocean surface warmed up because less cold deep water were being exchanged with it), then sea surfaces should warm as fast as the land. And if global warming were caused by the sun, days would warm faster than nights; in fact the opposite is true. Besides, solar output is measurable and has been decreasing. It is likely that warming in the 1920s and 1930s was caused largely by internal variability, and cooling in the 1950s, 60s and 70s has been attributed largely to internal variability plus aerosol emissions that happened before environmental regulations were introduced to reduce smog. Unlike CO2, aerosols disappear quickly from the atmosphere when emissions stop. So as our air got cleaner, the effect of CO2 became dominant.

Other things they're reluctant to accept include "global warming is dangerous" and "the problem can be solved" (and if you ask me, it isn't even that hard anymore).

The 5 characteristics

Whether the topic is climate change, lung cancer’s link to smoking, vaccines & autism, AIDS or MSG, denial of scientific findings relies on a set of techniques that can be summed up by the acronym FLICC:

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31 comments


The courts are deciding who's to blame for climate change

Posted on 16 April 2018 by dana1981

There are numerous ongoing legal challenges in an effort to determine who’s responsible for climate change. Exxon is under investigation by state attorneys general, cities are suing oil companies over sea level rise costs, and Our Children’s Trust is suing the federal government for failing to protect their generation from climate change. At the heart of these legal challenges lies the question – who bears culpability for climate change and liability for its costs and consequences?

Like Exxon, Shell Knew

Exxon has been a prime target of these investigations and lawsuits since Inside Climate News’ investigative journalism revealed that the company’s internal climate science research warned of the dangers posed by human-caused global warming since the late 1970s.

Recently, Dutch journalist Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent unearthed internal documents from Shell that began warning of the dangers associated with human-caused climate change 30 years ago. The company’s 1988 report titled “The Greenhouse Effect” warned,

by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even stabilise the situation.

And, particularly relevant to Our Children’s Trust’s lawsuits, Shell’s 1988 report warned of the climate consequences for future generations.

shell

Similarly, in a 1991 film called Climate of Concern, Shell warned,

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7 comments


2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #15

Posted on 15 April 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Commentary of the Week... SkS Highlights... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... SkS in the News... 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...

Climate Change Or Global Warming? Three Reasons Not To Be Distracted By The Name Game

GISTEMP LOTI Anomaly Feb 2018 

 

Social media is an interesting landscape of opinions, confirmation bias (consuming information that supports your beliefs), and expressions of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, a psychological term published in the literature that argues that people think they know more about topics than they actually do. This week two very worrisome but important climate change (or global warming) related studies were highlighted in the media. One study suggested an eastward shift in the well-known climate boundary near the 100-degree longitude line in the United States. This could have major implications for U.S. agriculture; productivity. The other study, actually two of them, revealed a slow down in a major ocean circulation that affects weather-climate patterns. In discussing both on Twitter, a few inevitable "Didn't they change the name to climate change because global warming wasn't happening"  tweets appeared. While this is an oft-stated zombie theory, one that lives on though refuted by scientists, it is worth noting three reasons why you should not be distracted by this tactic.

Climate Change Or Global Warming? Three Reasons Not To Be Distracted By The Name Game by Marshall Sheperd, Science, Forbes, Apr 13, 2018 

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7 comments


2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #15

Posted on 14 April 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week.

Editor's Pick

Avoid Gulf stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn

How close the world is to a catastrophic collapse of giant ocean currents is unknown, making halting global warming more critical than ever, scientists say

Greenland Ice Sheet 
Other research this week showed that Greenland’s massive ice cap is melting at the fastest rate for at least 450 years. Photograph: Nick Cobbing/Greenpeace 

Serious disruption to the Gulf Stream ocean currents that are crucial in controlling global climate must be avoided “at all costs”, senior scientists have warned. The alert follows the revelation this week that the system is at its weakest ever recorded.

Past collapses of the giant network have seen some of the most extreme impacts in climate history, with western Europe particularly vulnerable to a descent into freezing winters. A significantly weakened system is also likely to cause more severe storms in Europe, faster sea level rise on the east coast of the US and increasing drought in the Sahel in Africa.

The new research worries scientists because of the huge impact global warming has already had on the currents and the unpredictability of a future “tipping point”. 

Avoid Gulf stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn by Damian Carrrington, Environment, Guardian, Apr 13, 2018 

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4 comments


New research, April 2-8, 2018

Posted on 13 April 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

Climate change impacts

Mankind

1. Vulnerabilities and resilience of European power generation to 1.5 °C, 2 °C and 3 °C warming (open access)

"Results show that climate change has negative impacts on electricity production in most countries and for most technologies. Such impacts remain limited for a 1.5 °C warming, and roughly double for a 3 °C warming. Impacts are relatively limited for solar photovoltaic and wind power potential which may reduce up to 10%, while hydropower and thermoelectric generation may decrease by up to 20%. Generally, impacts are more severe in southern Europe than in northern Europe, inducing inequity between EU countries. We show that a higher share of renewables could reduce the vulnerability of power generation to climate change, although the variability of wind and solar PV production remains a significant challenge."

2. Future heat stress arising from climate change on Iran’s population health

3. Heat stress and chickens: climate risk effects on rural poultry farming in low-income countries

"Although these birds are generally known to be hardy, it appears that some losses experienced in rural poultry farming may be a direct or indirect consequence of climate-related stresses."

4. Australian climate extremes in the 21st century according to a regional climate model ensemble: Implications for health and agriculture (open access)

"Applying published heat-health relationships to projected changes in temperature shows that increases in mortality due to high temperatures for all cities examined would occur if projected future climates occurred today." ... "Assuming no adaptation or acclimatisation, published statistical relationships between drought and national wheat yield suggest that national yields will have a less than one quarter chance of exceeding the annual historical average under far future precipitation change (excluding impacts of future temperature change and CO2 fertilization)."

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1 comments


Sea Level Rise: Some Reason for Hope?

Posted on 12 April 2018 by greenman3610

Scientists​ analyze global sea level rise. Most uncertain of all: How, when humans reduce carbon emissions.

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3 comments


Climate Science Denial Explained

Posted on 11 April 2018 by DPiepgrass

Lonnie Thompson, a climate scientist, was told by his doctor that he needed a heart transplant.

He denied it. “You’re crazy! I’ve been climbing the highest mountains in the world for…” he paused, mentally counted the decades.

Lonnie loved his job. He hiked up to mountain glaciers at 20,000 feet, to retrieve ice cores with the help of a solar-powered drill. He felt fine — it’s just asthma, he told himself — and as long as he needed a heart transplant, he wouldn’t be allowed to go on any more expeditions. Logically, then, his heart must be fine.

He fought his doctor for two years, and kept going on expeditions. Then while drilling in the Alps in 2011, he couldn’t get up from his tent. He couldn’t breathe. Luckily he was able to go down from the mountain, and return to the U.S. where he was admitted to an emergency room, and put on a heart pump

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14 comments


EPA’s war with California proves America needs a carbon tax

Posted on 10 April 2018 by dana1981

Last week, Trump’s EPA announced that it will repeal the vehicle fuel efficiency standards set under the Obama administration and replace them with weaker requirements. EPA also threatened to revoke California’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose its own greenhouse gas standards. If they do so, California’s attorney general will sue the EPA.

Xavier Becerra@AGBecerra

The Trump Administration’s assault on clean car standards risks our ability to protect our children’s health, tackle climate change, and save hardworking Americans money. We’re ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards: https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-becerra-epa%E2%80%99s-assault-federal-greenhouse-gas-emission-standards  https://twitter.com/business/status/980867241565736960 

This lawsuit would be tied up in court for years, and in the meantime California’s more stringent standards would remain in place. Those standards have been adopted by 12 other states, which along with California account for one-third of new car sales in America. Weaker federal fuel efficiency standards wouldn’t much help the US auto industry if they don’t apply to one-third of domestic sales.

The Obama administration set the stricter fuel efficiency standards after the federal government was forced to bail out the auto industry. Struck by the 2008 global recession and a spike in fuel prices, US auto manufacturers, whose fleets were less fuel efficient than foreign competitors, were in dire financial straits. The auto industry thus accepted the federal bailout and didn’t fight the higher fuel efficiency standards – until Donald Trump came into office. California also agreed to the new federal standards in 2008, and now wants to use its Clean Air Act authorization to keep them.

The auto industry has argued that low gasoline prices are the problem, but that’s not a problem they want to solve. In fact, US automakers are in the process of repeating the same mistakes that led to the industry collapse a decade ago:

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7 comments


New resource: The Fact-Myth-Fallacy slide-deck

Posted on 9 April 2018 by BaerbelW , jg

Many of you will already be familiar with the Fact-Myth-Fallacy structure of a successful debunking. For a refresher, John Cook's post about "Inoculation theory: Using misinformation to fight misinformation" is a good primer on the topic.

FMF-structure

As examples for how to make use of this structure, we have short debunkings of many of the myths covered in our MOOC Denial101x readily available on an overview page, which also includes the relevant video lecture for each of them. The list is also available as a PDF-file:

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8 comments


2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

Posted on 8 April 2018 by John Hartz

Opinion of the Week... Opinion of the Week... Toon of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

Solar geoengineering ‘too uncertain to go ahead yet’

The world must urgently agree controls on solar geoengineering to weigh up its possible risks and benefits before deciding to go ahead, one expert says.

Solar Geoengineering Brightening Marine Clouds

Brightening marine clouds is one suggested solar geoengineering approach. Image: By Ron Reeves, US Navy, via Wikimedia Commons

Progress to deploy solar engineering, experimental technology designed to protect the world against the impact of the changing climate, must pause, a former United Nations climate expert says, arguing that governments need to create “effective guardrails” against any unforeseen risks.

Janos Pasztor, who served as a UN assistant secretary-general on climate change, is using a speech to Arizona State University, broadast via Facebook Live by ASU LightWorks, 6:30-8pm Arizona time (9:30pm EDT – US Eastern Daylight Time) today, to warn the world that governments are largely ignoring the fundamental question of who should control geoengineering, and how.

There are widespread misgivings, both among scientists and more widely, about geoengineering, with many regarding it as at best a strategy of last resort to help to avoid calamitous climate change.

Mr Pasztor’s warning comes as researchers prepare for what is thought to be the world’s first outdoor experiment on stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), one type of solar geoengineering. The test is due to take place later this year over Arizona.

Pasztor heads the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative(C2G2),  an initiative of the New York-based Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. The Initiative wants solar geoengineering deployment to be delayed until the risks and potential benefits are better known and governance frameworks are agreed.

Solar geoengineering ‘too uncertain to go ahead yet’ by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, Apr 6, 2018 

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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #14

Posted on 7 April 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

March is 3rd warmest on record, many contrasts

Global Temp Anomaly March 2018 WMO 

March 2018 was the third warmest on record, according to the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting Copernicus Climate Change service.

Although not as exceptional as the values for March 2016 and March 2017, it was in line with the upward trend of 0.18°C per decade seen in global temperature data from 1979 onwards, according to the monthly report.

March 2018 was colder than the 1981-2010 average over almost all of Europe. Only in the far north and over the far southeast of the continent was it warmer than average. Below average temperatures occurred over almost all of northern Russia and over the northern USA and southern Canada.

Within Europe, Spain had 163 mm of rainfall – more than three times the long-term average of 47 mm (1981-2000), making it one of the wettest months of March on record, according to the national meteorological service AEMET.

In France, Mediterranean regions saw two to four times more rain than average. For instance Province-Alpes, the Cote d’Azure and Corsica had the second wettest March after 2013, according to Météo-France. 

March is 3rd warmest on record, many contrasts, Media Release, World Meterologial Association (WMO), Apr 6, 2018

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