Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

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?

 


2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #3

Posted on 21 January 2017 by John Hartz

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

Sun Jan 15, 2017

Read more...

0 comments


John Cook: Opportunity or “New Dark Age of Denial”

Posted on 20 January 2017 by greenman3610

John Cook at a private roundtable in San Francisco, December 2016.

Read more...

0 comments


So what did-in the dinosaurs? An update.

Posted on 19 January 2017 by howardlee

Of all the great mass extinctions, the end-Cretaceous is the only one credibly linked to an asteroid impact. It’s also the one that most people have heard about – the one that got the dinosaurs.

Dead dinosaur v2

Most people accept that the asteroid impact at Chicxulub in Mexico caused the mass extinction, but in my article in early 2015, I showed that a number of scientists have cast doubt on the globally lethal impact of the Chicxulub impact, and that new rock dates had put the Deccan eruptions at just the right time to cause the extinction. This made the end-Cretaceous similar to all the other major extinctions ever since the evolution of animals (except the end-Ordovician extinction), which have been linked to the effects (including CO2-driven climate change) of massive volcanic eruptions from a rare geological phenomenon called a “Large Igneous Province” or “LIP.”

Since then, several papers have strengthened the case for the Chicxulub impact’s role in the extinction, and several others support the role of the Deccan eruptions, so the debate over what was the principal cause of the extinction, and how the killing was done, continues. Last year an international project drilled directly into the Chicxulub impact crater, and the first results are just beginning to emerge from that. There will be more to report in the months to come, but what follows is an update of some of the advances over the last two years in our understanding the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

Synchronicity

Despite a 100-fold improvement in rock dating precision in the last 5 years, high-precision rock dating has not yet been able to separate either the Deccan eruptions or the Chicxulub impact from the extinction. In my 2015 article I outlined evidence, exposed in a Mexican hillside, that the extinction post-dated the Chicxulub impact by an estimated 100,000 years (without the benefit of high precision dates). New rock dates show that the Deccan eruptions persisted through and after the impact, straddling the extinction, and they all happened within a few tens of thousands of years of each other. This led to the idea proposed in 2015 by Richards et al  (including Walter Alvarez, an author of the original impact hypothesis paper in 1980) that the impact actually triggered a much more vigorous phase of eruption in the Deccan Large Igneous Province.

I asked Joanna Morgan of Imperial College London, one of the scientists leading the Chicxulub Drilling project, about this in a Press Conference at the AGU Fall meeting in December. She didn’t give the theory much credence:

Read more...

6 comments


Video: NASA’s Dr Gavin Schmidt on 2016 as the hottest year on record

Posted on 17 January 2017 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Roz Pidcock

On Wednesday, the world’s three major meteorological organisations will reveal how global temperature in 2016 stacked up against previous years. Given exceptional warmth in most months, it is all but guaranteed that scientists will confirm 2016 as the hottest year on record.

During his brief lecture tour of the UK last week, Carbon Brief caught up with Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science. NASA is one of the three agencies due to release their findings this week. The others are the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK Met Office/University of East Anglia.

What’s behind the record warmth in 2016? Starting the year with a strong El Niño is worth about an extra 0.1 or 0.2C on top of the long-term trend from greenhouse gases, says Schmidt.

He tells Carbon Brief:

“Why did we have a record year? It’s 80-90% because of the long-term trend and 10% because of El Niño…We’re on a rising trend and when we have anomalously warm trends on top of a rising trend, those are going to be record years.”

Looking forward, we shouldn’t expect each year in succession to be warmer than the last, Schmidt notes:

“We don’t anticipate that 2017 will be a record year because we’re starting off with less of an El Niño signal and more of a neutral/La Niña signal.”

While pinpointing whether one year is hotter than another is interesting from a scientific standpoint, it doesn’t alter the bottom line that the climate is warming, Schmidt says:

“The difference between whether 2016 was the first or second warmest doesn’t make any difference to the impacts that we anticipate over time, and it doesn’t really make any difference to the predictions we’re making for the future. The bottom line is the planet is warming, we’re in a period of exceptional warmth historically.”

Read more...

4 comments


Parts of United States are heating faster than globe as a whole

Posted on 17 January 2017 by John Abraham

Global warming obviously refers to temperature increases across the entire globe. We know the Earth is warming, we know it is human-caused, we have a pretty good idea about how much the warming will be in the future and what some of the consequences are. In fact, when it comes to the Earth’s average climate, scientists have a pretty good understanding.

On the other hand, no one lives in the average climate. We live spread out north, west, east, and south. On islands, large continents, inland or in coastal regions. Many of us want to know what’s going to happen to the climate where we live. How will my life be affected in the future? 

This type of question is answered in a very recent study published by scientists from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The team, which includes Dr. Raymond Bradley and researcher Dr. Ambarish Karmalkar looked specifically at the Northeastern United States. They found that this area will warm much more rapidly than the globe as a whole. In fact, it will warm faster than any other United States region. The authors expect the Northeast US will warm 50% faster than the planet as a whole. They also find that the United States will reach a 2 degree Celsius warming 10–20 years before the globe as a whole.

So why does this matter? Well first, it matters because some of the effects people will experience are directly tied to the temperature increase in their region. For instance, we know that warmer air leads to more intense precipitation. In fact, we are already observing increases in very heavy rainfall across the United States (especially in the Northeast). Based on this new research, that trend will only get worse. It means that winters in this region will get warmer and wetter – more winter precipitation will likely occur as rain rather than snow. This affects the availability of water into the spring months. It also means that summers will have more intense heat waves which will lead to more severe droughts.

Read more...

1 comments


Fact Check: Rex Tillerson on Climate Risks

Posted on 16 January 2017 by dana1981

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State – and until recently the CEO of ExxonMobil – Rex Tillerson was given a confirmation hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. In his testimony, Tillerson accepted the reality of human-caused global warming and that “The risk of climate change does exist and the consequences of it could be serious enough that action should be taken.”

While he accepted the problem exists, Tillerson nevertheless proceeded to downplay its risks, saying:

The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect, our ability to predict that effect is very limited.

Many climate scientists took issue with that statement, and for good reason. Climate models have been very accurate in their projections about many consequences of human carbon pollution. It’s true that there’s uncertainty in just how quickly some of those consequences will be triggered. The bad news is that recent studies have shown that many of those consequences are happening more quickly than climate scientists anticipated. Greater climate uncertainty translates into more urgency to tackle the problem, not less.

The Gulf Stream could shut down sooner than anticipated

The Gulf Stream – which keeps the UK and surrounding area significantly warmer than it would otherwise be – is part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Research has shown it could shut down as a result of global warming:

In 1997, the oceanographer Wallace Broecker, of Columbia University in New York, suggested that if the Gulf stream turned off, winter temperatures in the British Isles could fall by an average of 11°C - plunging Blackpool or Berwick to the same temperatures as Spitsbergen, inside the Arctic circle. Any dramatic drop in temperature could have devastating implications for agriculture - and for Europe’s ability to feed itself.

Just how quickly such a shutdown could happen has been a subject of debate and research among climate scientists. A study published in Science Advances in early January corrected for a bias recently identified in climate models that acted to keep the AMOC and Gulf Stream more stable than it appears to be in reality:

Read more...

7 comments


2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #2

Posted on 15 January 2017 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic 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...

The rise of the machines isn’t the biggest threat to humanity. It’s climate change, extreme weather and other environmental factors.

The World Economic Forum surveyed 750 experts on what the most likely and impactful risks facing humanity are in 2017. In a report released Thursday, they ranked extreme weather as the most likely risk and the second-most impactful, trailing only the use of weapons of mass destruction. Climate change is responsible for driving an increase in the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events, notably heat waves.

Failing to adapt to or mitigate climate change and a host of other climate-connected risks including water and food crises and involuntary migration also rank in the top 10.

Global Risk Landscape World Economic Forum

A matrix outlining the most likely and most impactful risks facing the world in 2017. Credit: World Economic Forum

Climate Change Is the World’s Biggest Risk, in 3 Charts by Brian Kahn, Climate Central, Jan 12, 2017

Toon of the Week...

 2017 Toon 2

Read more...

3 comments


2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2

Posted on 14 January 2017 by John Hartz

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

Sun Jan 8, 2017

Read more...

0 comments


Zika outbreak ‘fuelled by’ El Niño and climate change

Posted on 13 January 2017 by Guest Author

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

The combination of a strong El Niño event and human-caused climate change created optimal conditions for the recent outbreak of the Zika virus in South America, a new study says.

The spread of Zika during 2015-16 caused hundreds of thousands of infections, a surge in cases of birth defects linked to the disease, and saw athletes withdrawing from the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The warm conditions of 2015-16 were “exceptionally conducive” to mosquitoes spreading the disease across the continent, the researchers say, helped by the lack of natural immunity in the South American population.

And their results suggest there is a significant risk of summer outbreaks of Zika in the southeastern states of the US, southern China and southern Europe.

Public health emergency

First identified in Uganda in 1947, the Zika virus has gradually spread through the tropics – from Africa into southeast Asia and then across many small Pacific islands.

The main carrier of the disease is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but other species such as Aedes albopictus and Aedes hensilli spread Zika as well.

Scientists estimate that the virus first entered South America through Brazil in late 2013, though the first infection wasn’t officially recorded until May 2015. In the months that followed, Zika spread throughout South and Central America and even into the US.

In February this year, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The designation was lifted about a month ago, but Zika remains a “significant enduring public health challenge requiring intense action.”

figure1c

Countries with recorded cases of the Zika virus for 2015-16 (red shading) and earlier (yellow). Source: Caminade et al. (2016)

Read more...

0 comments


Press complaints process is ‘exercise in futility’ for scientists

Posted on 12 January 2017 by Guest Author

This is a comment article authored for Carbon Brief by two scientists who have made complaints to regulators about coverage of climate science in the media. The first case is written by Dr Phil Williamsonassociate fellow of the University of East Anglia and Science Coordinator of the UK Ocean Acidification research programme from 2010-2016. The second case is written by Prof Terry Sloan, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Lancaster and author of Introductory Climate Science; Global Warming Explained.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), a self-regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry, sets out the rules that many UK publishers have agreed to follow.

IPSO’s starting point is promising. The Editor’s Code of Practice and the committee’s own vision – to “support those who feel wronged by the press, uphold the highest professional standards” and “provide redress” where standards have been breached – provide as good a basis as any for balancing freedom of the press with ethics, honesty and the public interest.

But something goes badly wrong in Ipso’s decision-making, at least in our experiences.  Engagement with Ipso on issues of scientific accuracy would seem an exercise in futility.

Case 1: Williamson v The Spectator – ocean acidification

On 30 April 2016, climate-skeptic writer James Delingpole published an article in the Spectator under the headline, “Ocean acidification: yet another wobbly pillar of climate alarmism”.

Read more...

3 comments


Global weirding with Katharine Hayhoe: Episode 8

Posted on 11 January 2017 by Guest Author

Global Weirding is produced by KTTZ Texas Tech Public Media and distributed by PBS Digital Studios. New episodes every other Wednesday at 10 am central. Brought to you in part by: Bob and Linda Herscher, Freese and Nichols, Inc, and the Texas Tech Climate Science Center.

Read more...

5 comments


Conservative media can't stop denying there was no global warming 'pause'

Posted on 10 January 2017 by dana1981

Scientists have proven time and time again that global warming continues unabated. Most recently, a study published last week showed that over the past two decades, the oceans have warmed faster than prior estimates. This study affirmed the findings of a 2015 NOAA paper – not surprisingly attacked by deniers – that removed a cool bias in the data, finding there never was a global warming “pause.”

This particular myth has been a favorite of deniers over the past decade for one simple reason – if people can be convinced that global warming stopped, they won’t consider it a threat that we need to urgently address by cutting fossil fuel consumption. It’s thus become one of the most common myths peddled by carbon polluters and their allies.

One of those allies is the anti-climate policy advocacy group Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which tries to make the case that aggressive climate policy isn’t needed. This weekend, its “science” editor David Whitehouse wrote for the conservative UK Spectator periodical – which often promotes climate denial – denying that the “pause” is dead:

their case rests on the El Nino temperature increase and will be destroyed when the El Nino subsides, as it is currently doing. A temporary victory over the ‘pause’.

The ‘pause’ can be accommodated into global warming – but not for very much longer. The world’s temperature has to increase outside the El Nino effect.

Testing the myth

If Whitehouse is correct and temperatures are not increasing outside the El Niño effect, then 2015 and 2016 should be no hotter than previous El Niño years. It’s a relatively simple test to run. In the video below, I’ve broken out the temperature data into years with an El Niño warming influence, years with a La Niña cooling influence, and neutral years.

Read more...

14 comments


Global Warming: Global Hoax?

Posted on 9 January 2017 by Guest Author

If global warming is one big hoax, who's behind the joke? And why are the vast majority of climate scientists in on it? Plus, why do they all look so much like ClimateAdam?

Read more...

0 comments


2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #1

Posted on 8 January 2017 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

In this visualization of the Earth's oceans, distinctive white lines trace the flow of surface currents around the world. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Intense future climate change could have a far different impact on the world than current models predict, suggests a thought-provoking new study just out in the journal Science Advances. If atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were to double in the future, it finds, a major ocean current — one that helps regulate climate and weather patterns all over the world — could collapse. And that could paint a very different picture of the future than what we’ve assumed so far.

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or AMOC, is often described as a large oceanic conveyor belt. It’s a system of water currents that transports warm water northward from the Atlantic toward the Arctic, contributing to the mild climate conditions found in places like Western Europe. In the Northern Atlantic, the northward flowing surface water eventually cools and sinks down toward the bottom of the ocean, and another current brings that cooler water back down south again. The whole process is part of a much larger system of overturning currents that circulates all over the world, from pole to pole.

But some scientists have begun to worry that the AMOC isn’t accurately represented in current climate models. They say that many models portray the current as being more stable than real-life observations suggest it actually is. Recent studies have suggested that the AMOC is weakening, although there’s some scientific debate about how much of this has been caused by human activities and how much by natural variations.

Scientists say the global ocean circulation may be more vulnerable to shutdown than we thought by Chelsea Harvey, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Jan 4, 2017 

More reading:

La Niña Update...

One year ago, the central and eastern parts of the tropical Pacific Ocean were pulsing with heat, a result of one of the most intense El Niño events on record. One year later, La Niña has been relatively quiet, and she does not seem to be staying for long.

La Niña is the cool sister pattern to El Niño. While El Niño knocks down the easterly trade winds and sloshes warm water from the western Pacific to the Americas, La Niña pulls up cool water from the depths of the eastern Pacific, energizes the easterlies, and pushes the warm water back toward Asia. Regions that often get drenched with rain and snow during El Niño often go dry during La Niña events, and vice versa, as atmospheric circulation and jet streams shift with the changing heat and moisture supply from the vast Pacific Ocean.

 Sea Surface Height Anomaly

The maps above compare sea surface height anomalies in the Pacific Ocean as observed by NASA scientists on November 4, 2016, near the peak of the current La Niña, and on January 18, 2016, near the peak of last winter’s El Niño. The measurements were made by altimeters on the Jason-2 and Jason-3 satellites, and show averaged sea surface height anomalies. Shades of red indicate areas where the ocean stood higher than the normal sea level; surface height is a good proxy for temperatures because warmer water expands to fill more volume. Shades of blue show where sea level and temperatures were lower than average (water contraction). Normal sea-level conditions appear in white.

In a report issued in December 2016, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center described the latest La Niña as “weak” and likely changing to neutral conditions in early 2017. La Niña conditions—with surface water temperatures at least 0.5° Celsius below normal in the central and eastern Pacific (the Niño 3.4 region from 170° to 120° West longitude)—began to surface in July and August 2016. During last year’s El Niño, surface water temperatures were as much as 2.5°C above the 1981-2010 norm. During the current La Niña, temperatures have not dropped more than 1 degree below normal.

“Last year’s Niño was huge in area, duration, and magnitude,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “My take is that because it lasted so long and covered such a large area, it damped the return of strong trade winds needed for a healthy Niña. Note the strong positive heat content north of the equator—the entire tropical Pacific between Central America and Hawaii—that lingered into the fall.”

Muted La Niña Follows Potent El Niño, NASA's Earth Observatory, Jan 6, 2017

Read more...

0 comments


2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #1

Posted on 7 January 2017 by John Hartz

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

Sun Jan 1, 2017

Read more...

2 comments


Prepare for reanimation of the zombie myth ‘no global warming since 2016’

Posted on 6 January 2017 by dana1981

Climate myths are like zombies – you shoot them through the heart, walk away thinking they’re dead, and then they pop back up behind you and try once again to eat your brain.

So it is with Stage 1 climate denial and the myth that the Earth isn’t warming. It’s so persistent that it’s related to the 5th, 9th, and 49th-most popular myths in the Skeptical Science database. Climate deniers have been peddling the myth ‘no warming since [insert date]’ for over a decade.

It’s a popular myth among those who benefit from maintaining the status quo because if the problem doesn’t exist, obviously there’s no need for action to solve it. And it’s an incredibly easy argument that can be made at any time, using the telltale technique of climate denial known as cherry picking.

I created a video to illustrate this point. The key is that the Earth has natural short-term temperature oscillations caused by factors like the El Niño/La Niña cycle. El Niño events temporarily warm temperatures at the Earth’s surface, while La Niña events cause temporary surface cooling. When you combine these up-and-down cycles with a long-term human-caused global warming trend and various other noisy influences, you get a bumpy temperature rise that allows for cherry picking of periods without warming:

That’s what it looks like with artificial data. Using real global surface temperature data from NASA, I created a popular graphic called The Escalator, which has been featured the PBS documentary Climate of Doubt and used by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on the Senate floor. The video below shows The Escalator with data updated through 2016:
 

Read more...

21 comments


NOAA was right: we have been underestimating warming

Posted on 5 January 2017 by Zeke Hausfather, Kevin C

Assessing Recent Warming Using Instrumentally Homogenous Sea Surface Temperature Records

Zeke Hausfather, Kevin Cowtan, David C. Clarke, Peter Jacobs, Mark Richardson, and Robert Rohde

Summary

In a paper published in Science Advances, we used data from buoys, satellites, and Argo floats to construct separate instrumentally homogenous sea surface temperature records of the past two decades. We compared them to the old NOAA ERSSTv3b record, the new ERSSTv4 record, the Hadley Centre’s HadSST3 record, and the Japanese COBE-SST record. We found a strong and significant cool bias in the old NOAA record, and a more modest (but still significant) cool bias in the Hadley and Japanese records compared to buoy, satellite, and Argo float data. The new NOAA record agrees quite well with these instrumentally homogenous records. This suggests that the new NOAA record is likely the most accurate sea surface temperature record in recent years, and should help resolve some of the criticism that accompanied the original NOAA study.

Background

In the summer of 2015 researchers at NOAA led by Tom Karl published a paper in the journal Science arguing that global warming since 2000 had been underestimated, and that claims of a 'hiatus' in warming were therefore wrong. The paper proved quite controversial, and the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee responded by instigating an investigation against scientists at NOAA, demanding access to scientist emails and claiming that they had manipulated global temperature data.

The changes in the global temperature record presented by Karl et al resulted almost entirely from updates in ocean temperatures. Specifically, NOAA switched from using their old Extended Reconstruction Sea Surface Temperature Record (ERSST) version 3b to version 4. This new ERSST record had a number of changes, including adjustments for an offset in temperatures between ship engine room and buoy-based measurements, the use of nighttime marine air temperature measurements to detect problems in ship-based records, and an increased weight on buoy records in recent years. The old NOAA record, their new record, and the commonly used U.K. Hadley Centre HadSST3 record are shown in the figure below:

Read more...

20 comments


New study confirms NOAA finding of faster global warming

Posted on 4 January 2017 by John Abraham

A new study has shown that a 2015 NOAA paper finding that the Earth is warming more rapidly than previously thought was correct.

Once again, science is shown to work. The laborious process in which scientists check and recheck their work and subject their ideas to peer review has led to another success. An independent test of global warming data has confirmed a groundbreaking 2015 study that showed warming was faster than prior estimates.

Because of its inconvenient findings, the study’s lead author Thomas Karl was subjected to harassment by Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Science Committee, in an effort to impugn his credibility. But now Karl and his co-authors have been vindicated.

Let’s take a step back and discuss the science. Measuring the temperature of the Earth is hard. There are many locations to measure and many choices to make. Should we measure the temperature of the ground? Of the ocean waters? How deep in the water? If we measure air temperatures, what height should the measurements be taken? How many locations should we make measurements at? What happens if the instruments change over time or if the location changes? What happens if a city grows near a measurement location and the so-called urban heat-island effect grows? How do we estimate the temperatures in areas where no measurements exist?

These and many other questions make measuring global warming challenge. Different groups of scientists make different decisions so that depending on the institution, they will get a slightly different temperature result.

Read more...

2 comments


As Seas Rise, Miami Development Continues Unabated

Posted on 3 January 2017 by greenman3610

Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone contributing editor, has a warning for south Florida residents: “Miami, as we know it today, is not going to exist.”

That’s because the ocean is rising, and it will be hard to keep the water out. Some Miami neighborhoods already flood during high tides.

And yet, “the building here is going on at a record rate … high-rises all along the beach. Basically, nothing has changed,” Goodell says in this month’s “This Is Not Cool” video by independent videographer Peter Sinclair.

Read more...

20 comments


Climate change in 2016: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Posted on 2 January 2017 by John Abraham

This past year had so many stories involving human-caused climate change – it will be forever in our memories. Here is a summary of some of the high points, from my perspective. When I say “high points” I don’t necessarily mean good. Some of these high points are bad and some are downright ugly. Let’s do the good first.

The Good

The best news of all, in my opinion, is the continued cost reductions and huge installations of clean energy both in the US and around the word. Wind, solar, and other renewables have been on an incredible run of decreasing costs and creative financing, which has made them economically competitive with dirty fossil fuels. Improvements and expansion of grid-based power storage has also advanced. These storage abilities are needed to allow intermittent power sources (like wind and solar) to play an even larger role in delivering power to the grid. In the end, clean power will win out based on simple dollars and cents – regardless of the fact they will also help save the world.

On an international scale, the US, China, and other countries ratified the Paris climate agreement, which gives us a reasonable chance at avoiding the worst effects of climate change. In the lead up to that ratification, the US took major actions domestically to reduce its own emissions through steps like the Clean Power Plan

Emissions have been reduced in some countries like the US for a variety of reasons. First, very cheap natural gas is displacing dirtier coal-based power. Secondly, renewable energy sources like wind and solar are expanding, and people are using energy more wisely. All of this happened with a major reduction in energy costs in the US. This shows you can have clean energy that is also cheap.

In court, it was a good year. A rag-tag group of pro-bono climate scientists beat a bunch of high-paid contrarians in court. We showed that their science was nonsense and the smart judge gave a very harsh judgement to the funded deniers.

Read more...

11 comments



The Consensus Project Website

TEXTBOOK

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)

THE DEBUNKING HANDBOOK

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

The Scientific Guide to
Global Warming Skepticism

Smartphone Apps

iPhone
Android
Nokia

© Copyright 2017 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us