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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?

 


House Democrats eye 2021 with comprehensive climate action plan

Posted on 2 July 2020 by dana1981

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

House Democrats have released a comprehensive report showing how – if they control the White House and both the Senate and the House of Representatives – they might move forward on climate change. Their “Climate Crisis Action Plan,” released June 30 by the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, runs more than 500 pages and would move the U.S. toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades.

The committee, established in 2018 when Democrats regained majority control of the House, designed the report with an eye the earlier “Green New Deal” initiative and also on current-day environmental and racial justice concerns. Backers of their effort acknowledge slim chances of enactment of major climate legislation in the current Congress, where Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and where scheduling of floor action is controlled by Kentucky Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The committee pointed to 17 official hearings and countless staff meetings with various stakeholders as a basis for the new Democratic climate plan. The detailed report spells out specific steps for tackling emissions from across a broad cross-section of the U.S. economy. Running throughout the report are themes considering investment in infrastructure and clean energy; worker assistance and efforts to provide a “fairer economy”; environmental justice and efforts to meet the needs of underserved communities; community resilience; public health and new approaches to agriculture; and national security.

Let’s examine some of the specific sectors and policies addressed in the plan.

Read more...

1 comments


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #26, 2020

Posted on 1 July 2020 by doug_bostrom

75 Articles 

Physical science of global warming & effects

The response of stratospheric water vapor to climate change driven by different forcing agents (open access)

Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects

Record warming at the South Pole during the past three decades

Variability of soil freeze depth in association with climate change from 1901 to 2016 in the upper Brahmaputra River Basin, Tibetan Plateau

Long-term trends in Arctic surface temperature and potential causality over the last 100 years

Nonlinear dynamics of fires in Africa over recent decades controlled by precipitation

More frequent summer heat waves in southwestern China linked to the recent declining of Arctic sea ice

A trend of increasing burned areas in Iraq from 2001 to 2019 (open access)

Modeling & simulation of global warming & global warming effects

Multiple drivers of the North Atlantic warming hole

Amplified Madden–Julian oscillation impacts in the Pacific–North America region

Effects of Strongly Enhanced Atmospheric Methane Concentrations in a Fully Coupled Chemistry-Climate Model (open access)

Lightning Variability in Dynamically Downscaled Simulations of Alaska’s Present and Future Summer Climate

Future drought characteristics through a multi-model ensemble from CMIP6 over South Asia

How warmer and drier will the Mediterranean region be at the end of the twenty-first century?

Europe-wide precipitation projections at convection permitting scale with the Unified Model (open access)

North Pacific storm track response to the mesoscale SST in a global high-resolution atmospheric model

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0 comments


Category 6 Sets Its Sights Over the Rainbow

Posted on 30 June 2020 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Weather Underground by Bob Henson

Above: This rainbow appears unusually low in the sky because it has formed early in the afternoon, rather than toward sunset. For a rainbow to form, water droplets must be present in the air in front of an observer and the sun must be shining from behind the observer. Rainbows result from the refraction and reflection of sunlight by these water droplets. (Bob Henson, via UCAR Digital Image Library)

Given that the very first entry in Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog (the original name of this blog) was “The 360-degree Rainbow”—see the full story in Jeff’s farewell post from October 2019—I thought it would be apropos for this final Category 6 entry to spotlight another, very different kind of rainbow.

I took the photo above looking east-northeast while stopped on a drive across northwest Oklahoma in April 1991, with a severe thunderstorm in the distance. I’d never seen a “rainbow rise” before, and I’ve certainly never seen anything that was as distinct as this. Primary rainbows always form opposite the sun, with an imaginary line running from the sun through the observer’s head to the center of the rainbow arc. So in order to see a rainbow near the horizon, the sun needs to be almost 42° above the opposite horizon. That's typically the case in the early to mid-afternoon (solar time) in midlatitude spring, as was the case on the stormy April day when I snapped this photo.

Rainbows are laden with symbolism, especially about places that lie beyond our human reckoning. When our pets die, we talk about them crossing the “rainbow bridge.” A 16-year-old Judy Garland sang longingly about a place “over the rainbow” in “The Wizard of Oz”—the most famous movie of all time in which a weather event (that mesmerizing tornado!) served as the central plot twist (no pun intended).

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CSLDF: Why We’re Concerned About Scientific Integrity Policies

Posted on 29 June 2020 by Guest Author

A guest repost by Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) staff attorney Augusta Wilson. Fundraising is not the objective of this article but readers may wish to know that CSLDF is currently conducting a summer fundraiser to support defense of research scientists and research integrity from anti-science interference by politicians and industrial interests. 

The COVID-19 pandemic tragically highlights the dire and immediate threats to public health that can result when the culture of scientific integrity at research institutions is ignored or fails.

Scientific integrity violations impair scientific agencies’ and institutions’ ability to fulfill their missions and protect human and environmental health. What’s more, scientific integrity failures aren’t limited to issues surrounding the pandemic; they are distressingly pervasive in research institutions under the Trump administration.

Climate scientists are particularly hard hit. A June 15 article in The New York Times describes efforts to undermine climate science at federal agencies. The Times found that these actions first came from high-level Trump appointees, but they’ve filtered down to mid-level managers concerned about attracting unwanted scrutiny of their programs and budgets from senior political officials.

The article documents instances where climate scientists had their work flagged for additional review, denied final approval, or shelved after years of effort because it acknowledged human-caused climate change. It also describes cases in which scientists have found themselves under immense pressure from supervisors to delete “red flag” words related to climate change.

Interference with tax-payer-funded research, meant to inform both scientific discourse and the American public, because it touches on a politically contentious topic is the essence of a loss of scientific integrity.

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8 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #26

Posted on 28 June 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review...

Story of the Week...

Global Warming Is Melting Our Sense of Time

East Siberia Heat Wave Fires 

Satellite image of smoke from active fires burning near the Eastern Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, Russia, on June 23, 2020. Photo: Handout/NASA Earth Observatory

On June 20, in the small Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, north of the Arctic Circle, a heat wave baking the region peaked at 38 degrees Celsius — just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic. In a world without climate change, this anomaly, one Danish meteorologist calculated, would be a 1-in-100,000-year event. Thanks to climate change, that year is now.

If you saw this news, last weekend, it was probably only a glimpse (primetime network news didn’t even cover it). But the overwhelming coverage of perhaps more immediately pressing events — global protests, global pandemic, economic calamity — is only one reason for that climate occlusion. The extreme weather of the last few summers has already inured us to temperature anomalies like these, though we are only just at the beginning of the livable planet’s transformation by climate change — a transformation whose end is not yet visible, if it will ever be, and in which departures from the historical record will grow only more dramatic and more disorienting and more lethal, almost by the year. At just 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming, where the planet is today, we have already evicted ourselves from the “human climate niche,” and brought ourselves outside the range of global temperatures that enclose the entire history of human civilization. That history is roughly 10,000 years long, which means that in a stable climate you would only expect to encounter an anomaly like this one if you ran the full lifespan of all recorded human history ten times over — and even then would only encounter it once.

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the New York Magazine website.

Global Warming Is Melting Our Sense of Time by David Wallace-Wells, Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 27, 2020

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0 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #26

Posted on 27 June 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, June 21 through Sat, June 27, 2020

Editor's Choice

Facebook creates fact-checking exemption for climate deniers

Earth at Night

Facebook is "aiding and abetting the spread of climate misinformation,” said Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Drexel University. “They have become the vehicle for climate misinformation, and thus should be held partially responsible for a lack of action on climate change.”

Brulle was reacting to Facebook's recent decision, made at the request of climate science deniers, to create a giant loophole in its fact-checking program. Last year, Facebook partnered with an organization, Science Feedback, that would bring in teams of Ph.D. climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of viral content. It was an important expansion of the company's third-party fact-checking program. 

But now Facebook has reportedly decided to allow its staffers to overrule the climate scientists and make any climate disinformation ineligible for fact-checking by deeming it "opinion." 

The organization that requested the change, the CO2 Coalition, is celebrating, E&E news reported on Monday. The group, which has close ties to the fossil fuel industry, says its views on climate change are increasingly ignored by the mainstream media. Now it plans to use Facebook to aggressively push climate misinformation on the public—without having to worry about fact checks from climate scientists.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the Heated website. 

Facebook creates fact-checking exemption for climate deniers by Emily Atkin, Heated, June 24, 2020

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1 comments


Saharan dust storm expected to cause dangerous air pollution in U.S. this week

Posted on 26 June 2020 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jeff Masters

A massive dust storm formed over the Sahara Desert last week and invaded the Caribbean over the June 20-21 weekend, bringing dangerous levels of air pollution and low visibility to the islands.

The dust is accompanied by a large amount of dry air from the Saharan Air Layer, putting a damper on any hurricanes that attempt to form. None of the reliable computer models are predicting Atlantic tropical cyclone formation for the remainder of June, largely because of the dry air that is accompanying the dust. The dust is also acting to decrease the amount of sunlight hitting the surface, cooling the ocean and further discouraging hurricane activity.

Dust cloudFigure 1. African dust cloud over the tropical Atlantic as seen by the GOES-17 satellite at 12 pm EDT June 22, 2020. (Photo credit: NOAA/RAMMB)

As detailed by IBM meteorologist Michael Ventrice, the impressive Saharan Air Layer surge is being driven by passage over western Africa of an atmospheric disturbance called a suppressed Kelvin wave. This disturbance generated strong east-to-west surface trade winds which blew the dust from the Sahara out over the Atlantic Ocean. June and July are the peak months for Saharan dust storms that affect the tropical Atlantic. That said, this week’s dust storm is an impressive one, with a much larger areal extent than average.

Saharan Air LayerFigure 2. Saharan Air Layer analysis for 8 a.m. EDT June 22, 2020. Dry and dusty air from the Sahara (orange and pink colors) extended from the coast of Africa into the central Caribbean. (Image credit: University of Wisconsin CIMSS)

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What 'Planet of the Humans' gets wrong about renewable energy

Posted on 25 June 2020 by dana1981

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

Like an earthquake rumbling down the San Andreas Fault, Jeff Gibbs’ and Michael Moore’s controversial film “Planet of the Humans” tore a rift through the environmental movement, a rift its leaders would not yearn for in an election year. After activists have spent decades painstakingly building popular support for climate policies focused on developing and deploying low-carbon technologies, the film and its defenders dismiss these as false solutions, saying the focus should instead be on curbing population, consumption, and economic growth.

Both those factions agree that, as the IPCC has concluded, human civilization must cut its carbon emissions to zero within a few decades to avert a climate crisis. Is there a scientific way to determine which group is right about the best way to achieve that goal? As a matter of fact, there is.

Kaya formula

In 1990, Japanese energy economist Yoichi Kaya developed a simple and elegant formula called the Kaya Identity that can help answer the question: F is human carbon emissions, P is human population, G is economic activity as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), and E is energy consumption.

Only one plausible solution: zero emissions

For carbon emissions (F) to reach zero, just one of the four terms on the right side of the formula must be zero. So either human population (P), per-person economic activity (G/P), the energy consumed to power the economy (E/G), or the carbon footprint of energy (F/E) must be zero. Common sense gives us the answer to the debate: clean energy is the only plausible route to zero emissions.

And we’re in luck. Clean energy would not destroy humanity or human civilization, which would be the result of zeroing the population, economy, or energy use. Contrary to the false claims in “Planet of the Humans,” carbon emissions from energy can plausibly reach zero. In fact, a new report from the University of California, Berkeley concludes that U.S. electricity could be supplied by near-zero emissions sources (like wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and geothermal, plus storage) in short order. About 40% of American electricity is supplied by clean sources as of 2020, and the report concludes that this number could feasibly be scaled up to 55% by 2025, 75% by 2030, 90% by 2035, and 100% by 2045.

If an energy-devouring economy like that of the United States can do it, one might argue, the rest of the world can too.

The Berkeley report also concludes that replacing fossil fuels with clean energy sources would prevent 85,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution and create half a million permanent jobs (mostly associated with manufacturing and construction of clean energy infrastructure), while electricity rates would only be 12% higher than business-as-usual (and cheaper than today’s rates).

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16 comments


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #25, 2020

Posted on 24 June 2020 by doug_bostrom

Annual fishing report

It's been about a year since we swapped out the New Research deckhand. It seems longer— particularly the past 4 months— and not because of this particular work.

Over the course of the year somewhere in the neighborhood of 17,500 articles have been caught in our net, with about 1:5 making it into these summaries. In all about 3,500 made the grade as "climate research consumable."

For the upcoming year, better sorting of species is a continuing objective. As well, in the background (slowly) we're making progress in creating a kind of warehouse (given the already strained fishing analogy, an aquarium?) of articles.  

82 Articles

Physical science of global warming & effects

Variability of the Surface Energy Balance in Permafrost Underlain Boreal Forest (open access)

Mechanisms underlying recent Arctic Atlantification

Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects

ECTACI: European Climatology and Trend Atlas of Climate Indices (1979‐2017)

From a polar to a marine environment: has the changing Arctic ledto a shift in aerosol light scattering properties? (open access)

Observed extreme precipitation trends and scaling in Central Europe

Rapid cooling and increased storminess triggered by freshwater in the North Atlantic

Changes of the Arctic marginal ice zone during the satellite era (open access)

Comparative Analysis of Cold Events Over Central and Eastern China Associated with Arctic Warming in Early 2008 and 2016 (open access)

A Third Generation of Homogenized Temperature for Trend Analysis and Monitoring Changes in Canada’s Climate (open access)

A shortening of the life‐cycle of major tropical cyclones

Strong intensification of hourly rainfall extremes by urbanization

Describing the Relationship between a Weather Event and Climate Change: A New Statistical Approach (open access)

Edge Detection Reveals Abrupt and Extreme Climate Events (open access)

Influence of growing season temperature and precipitation anomalies on crop yield in the southeastern United States

Assessment of extreme precipitation through climate change indices in Zacatecas, Mexico

Assessing current and future trends of climate extremes across Brazil based on reanalyses and earth system model projections

Distinct tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomaly regimes enhanced under recent global warming

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6 comments


Shining a spotlight on translations and our translator teams

Posted on 23 June 2020 by BaerbelW

Even though Skeptical Science's "lingua franca" is English we do have a lot of content translated into more than 20 languages and anybody can get involved with translations as I explained in a blog post in 2014. A lot of the translation work tends to fly under the radar and in order to change this, I'll use this blog post to highlight currently active translator teams as well as some recent translation projects we've been tackling.

TranslatorsCurrently active translators for Portuguese (PT), German (DE), Russian (RU), Hebrew (HE) and Indonesian (ID)

Our most consistently active translator team, which has been working together for many years, is located in Brazil and tackles translations into Portuguese. If you look closely at the flags in the header banner you'll see that we use the Brazilian flag for those translations as at least a small kudo to our dedicated and growing team there.

Starting in 2019 many rebuttal translations into Hebrew have been created by a team from Israel including students from an introduction to climate course. If you check the overview page for these translations carefully, you'll see that the columns for "fact" and "myth" in the table have been (recently) reversed as Hebrew is a language read from right to left, so it made sense to adapt this page accordingly.

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1 comments


Restoring Science, Protecting the Public: 43 Steps for the Next Presidential Term

Posted on 22 June 2020 by Guest Author

A guest repost by the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF). Fundraising is not the objective of this article but readers may wish to know that CSLDF is currently conducting a summer fundraiser to support the important work of defending research scientists and research integrity from anti-science interference by politicians and industrial interests. 

We’re one of the dozens of organizations working to advance good government, public health, and environmental, consumer, human, and civil rights, who today [June 11] collectively released Restoring Science, Protecting the Public: 43 Steps for the Next Presidential Term.

The COVID-19 crisis shows what can happen when science is sidelined from policy decisions or subverted for political purposes. When data is suppressed or manipulated, or medical experts and scientists are prevented from sharing their expertise with the public, the result is a dearth of information the public needs to operate safely during a pandemic—and more people get sick and die.

The politicization of science isn’t new, but it has escalated into a full-blown crisis under the Trump administration. In the Silencing Science Tracker we maintain with Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Law, we’ve documented 428 instances of science being censored or restricted since November 2016. Many of these actions pose troubling risks to public health.

The next administration must prioritize repairing the culture of scientific integrity in the federal government. Federal scientists must be free to pursue valid research and communicate their findings to the press and taxpaying public without fear of political interference or manipulation. Those in federal agencies who have decision-making authority on matters that involve or use science must fully consider the best available science. And much more.

This series of memos provides concrete steps the next administration can take to restore a culture of scientific integrity across the federal government. These would help rebuild public trust in scientific institutions and ensure that scientific evidence informs government decisions. They also represent simple, low-cost, good government reforms that would improve efficiency, transparency, and accountability.

The memos offer recommendations in eight categories:

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4 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #25

Posted on 21 June 2020 by John Hartz

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

Story of the Week...

Bangladesh Coal Plants Threaten World's Largest Mangrove Forest

Important Coastal Barrier at Risk from Increased Pollution

Unloading coal in Bangladesh 

The Bangladesh government threatens to destroy life-saving forests by building coal-fired power plants. Coal fired plants are a major contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. (Sipa via AP Images)

Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful to strike in the Bay of Bengal in 20 years, made landfall on the India-Bangladesh coast last month. Amphan ripped off roofs, washed away homes, and flooded farms. Crucially, Bangladesh was able to mitigate impact and save lives because of its robust emergency response system with early warnings and mass-evacuations.

But coastal communities were also protected by Bangladesh’s natural storm shield: the Sundarbans. A protected World Heritage site, this mangrove forest holds land together with its roots as the tides rise. As climate change increases the intensity of extreme weather events like Amphan, the Sundarbans are at risk when they’re needed most.

But the Bangladesh government threatens to destroy these life-saving forests by building coal-fired power plants that could subject them, and the nearly 2.5 million people who depend on them for their livelihoods, to harmful pollution. And while the mangroves slow climate change by soaking up carbon, coal-fired plants contribute greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

Of particular concern is the proposed Rampal Thermal Power Plant, just north of the Sundarbans. Scientists and activists have repeatedly voiced concerns that the plant could spell disaster for the world’s largest mangrove forest. But the government has fought calls to cancel or relocate the projectusing tear gas and rubber bullets against protestors and insisting, contrary to scientific evidence, that the plant will do no harm.

Bangladesh Coal Plants Threaten World’s Largest Mangrove Forest by Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch, June 18, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the Human Rights Watch website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #25

Posted on 20 June 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, June 14 through Sat, June 20, 2020

Editor's Choice

World has six months to avert climate crisis, says energy expert

International Energy Agency chief warns of need to prevent post-lockdown surge in emissions

Coal Fired Power Plant in Dattein, Germany

The cooling tower of a coal-fired power plant in Datteln, Germany. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

The world has only six months in which to change the course of the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe, one of the world’s foremost energy experts has warned.

“This year is the last time we have, if we are not to see a carbon rebound,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.

Governments are planning to spend $9tn (£7.2tn) globally in the next few months on rescuing their economies from the coronavirus crisis, the IEA has calculated. The stimulus packages created this year will determine the shape of the global economy for the next three years, according to Birol, and within that time emissions must start to fall sharply and permanently, or climate targets will be out of reach.

“The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond,” Birol told the Guardian. “If we do not [take action] we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will be brought down in future. This is why we are urging governments to have sustainable recovery packages.”

World has six months to avert climate crisis, says energy expert by Fiona Harvey, Environment, Guardian, June 18, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on The Guardian website.

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34 comments


COVID-19 is the quiz, climate change the final exam

Posted on 19 June 2020 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jeff Masters

Mother Nature gave human civilization a survival pop-quiz in 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nations like South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan, which studied for the quiz and heeded the expertise of their tutors (i.e., scientists), have done much better on the quiz than nations that rejected the expertise of their scientists – like the U.S. and Brazil. The number one lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is: LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS! Scientific ignorance can be fatal. 

Commentary

Decisions by President Trump to downplay the threat as no worse than the seasonal flu, ignore and silence top scientists, and delay a full-bore response to the pandemic have led to a horrific failure by the U.S. on the COVID-19 quiz: A May 2020 study by Columbia University epidemiologists estimated that with the extreme social distancing many scientists had been pushing for just seven days earlier, the United States could have prevented 36,000 deaths through early May – about 40% of the death toll at that time.

Silencing scientists, down-playing their advice

In an attempt to down-play their failing grade on the COVID-19 quiz, government officials have sought to shift the blame, including, in particular, silencing scientists attempting to communicate their evidence-based science. The nonprofit Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) maintains a Silencing Science Tracker showing where government scientists working on the pandemic have been silenced.

As reported by the New York Times this week, the Trump administration’s antagonism towards climate science has pervaded the government, and is no longer limited to the people at the top. The article called attention to an inspector general’s report at the Environmental Protection Agency made public in May: It found that almost 400 employees surveyed in 2018 believed a manager had interfered with or suppressed the release of scientific information, but they never reported the violations.

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3 comments


Michigan dam break shows how climate change strains infrastructure

Posted on 18 June 2020 by greenman3610

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Peter Sinclair

MIDLAND, MI. – Consider it the proverbial “double whammy” – a climate change-induced disaster during a pandemic.

That’s what happened on May 19 about 140 miles north of Detroit, when the 96-year-old Edenville Dam on Wixom Lake broke, draining the lake and flooding torrents into nearby Midland amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The combination of more frequent and more severe extreme events with aging infrastructure vulnerable to damages from climate change amounts to that “double whammy” … and leads to double jeopardy.

“You take, say, a 150-year event, and it suddenly becomes a 50-year event, and that’s sort of what’s happening in many places,” says MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel in this month’s “This is Not Cool” original video by Midland resident Peter Sinclair.

Scientist Jennifer Francis of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution points to the atmosphere’s now holding 7% more moisture than it did just five decades ago. That water vapor, or moisture, one result of a warming climate, amounts to latent energy, she says. “So when it does rain, it rains harder.” She points to a “big uptick” in heavy precipitation events in the eastern half of the U.S. “very directly related to climate change.”

Combined with the impacts of clearing away more natural vegetation for development – and often replacing it with impervious surfaces such as streets or parking lots – the impacts mount as heavy precipitation events occur more frequently.

Texas A&M scientist Andrew Dessler points to an example of an exquisite 5,000-square foot Houston area home listed for sale at a bargain rate. One catch: the line in the description saying the house has “flooded twice” in recent years. And saying the home is “a great candidate to lift” — as in tear down or raze.

“Nobody wants to buy a house that’s going to flood,” Dessler says. He sees it as a case of “stranded assets” and points to “the millions of little decisions, affecting our lives in different ways, each one making us a little poorer than we would otherwise be.” He points to examples such as having to raise a home’s foundation to help insulate it from sea-level rise, having to run air conditioning units more, and having to lay out more hard-earned money for flooding infrastructure.

“We have a lot of things that we’ve built that may be vulnerable to gradual change that’s pushing them over a threshold and causing an abrupt issue for us,” Penn State scientist Richard Alley says of events like the Michigan dam breaks.

“The first degree of warming doesn’t cost very much,” Alley says, but the next increased degree costs “a little more” … and the next one after that again “a little more.” And on and on.

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1 comments


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #24, 2020

Posted on 17 June 2020 by doug_bostrom

81 Articles

Physical science of global warming & effects

Why Is the Mediterranean a Climate Change Hot Spot?

Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects

Change in the fire season pattern from bimodal to unimodal under climate change: The case of Daxing'anling in Northeast China

The role of atmospheric circulation patterns in driving recent changes in indices of extreme seasonal precipitation across Arctic Fennoscandia (open access)

Observed changes in heat waves with different severities in China during 1961–2015 (open access)

CryoSat Ice Baseline-D validation and evolutions (open access)

Antarctic Surface Mass Balance: natural variability, noise and detecting new trends

Regionally Varying Assessments of Upper-Level Tropical Width in Reanalyses and CMIP5 Models Using a Tropopause Break Metric

Climatology and trend analysis (1987 – 2016) of fire weather in the Euro‐Mediterranean

Historical trends of rain and air temperature in the Dominican Republic

Trend analysis of extreme precipitation events across Iran using percentile indices

Extreme Greenland blocking and high‐latitude moisture transport (open access)

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0 comments


A brief history of climate targets and technological promises

Posted on 16 June 2020 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Prof Duncan McLaren

Over the past three decades, the perceived wisdom for how to approach climate targets has changed several times.

From initial ideas of climate stabilisation, suggested approaches have focused on percentage CO2 emissions cuts, atmospheric CO2 concentrations, carbon budgets and today’s dominant framing of temperature rise limits.  

It might seem that this successive reframing reflects an improving scientific representation of what it means to avoid dangerous human-caused climate change, interpreted through enhanced modelling power and capacities, and in the light of better scientific knowledge regarding climate impacts. 

However, my research into this history, published in Nature Climate Change with my coauthor Dr Nils Markusson and part of a project examining the cultural political economy of carbon removal, suggests that the process has been much less rational – and more problematic – than this explanation might imply.

In particular, our analysis highlights that each shift in target framing has opened the door to new hopes of future technological solutions, such as widespread nuclear power or carbon capture and storage. Yet, while these technologies have promised much, as promises they have instead delayed the immediate acceleration of action to change behaviours or transform economies.

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2 comments


How Climate Change Reinforces Racism

Posted on 15 June 2020 by Guest Author

Climate change does not threaten us all equally. Instead it deepens divides. Within countries and between continents, people of colour and indigenous people are the hardest hit. And fighting climate change means fighting this injustice.

==ACTIONS==

Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Climate change charities https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/12/2/20976180/climate-change-best-charities-effective-philanthropy

Follow green voices of colour: https://twitter.com/i/lists/1087490564977819648

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #24

Posted on 14 June 2020 by John Hartz

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

Story of the Week...

'Surprisingly rapid' rebound in carbon emissions post-lockdown

Busier roads to blame, with fears of worse to come as workers shun public transport

 Auto Queue in UK

Huge queues of traffic blocked roads throughout Staines, Middlesex, when the McDonald’s drive-through restaurant reopened on 20 May. Photograph: Maureen McLean/Rex

Carbon dioxide emissions have rebounded around the world as lockdown conditions have eased, raising fears that annual emissions of greenhouse gases could surge to higher than ever levels after the coronavirus pandemic, unless governments take swift action.

Emissions fell by a quarter when the lockdowns were at their peak, and in early April global daily carbon dioxide emissions were still down by 17% compared with the average figure for 2019, research published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change found.

Now daily carbon emissions are still down on 2019 levels, but by only 5% on average globally, according to an updated study.

“Things have happened very fast,” said Corinne Le Quéré, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia and the lead author of the studies. “Very few countries still have stringent confinement. We expected emissions to come back, but that they have done so rapidly is the biggest surprise.” 

'Surprisingly rapid' rebound in carbon emissions post-lockdown by Fiona Harvey, Environment, Guardian, June 11, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on The Guardian website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #24

Posted on 13 June 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, June 7 through Sat, June 13, 2020

Editor's Choice

Michael Mann Fought Climate Denial. Now He’s Fighting Climate Doom.

The climatologist is taking on both the fossil fuel lobby and those who think the climate fight is futile.

Michael Mann 

ONE AUGUST AFTERNOON IN 2010, Michael Mann was opening mail in his office at Penn State University when a dusting of white powder emerged from an envelope. At first he thought it was his imagination. “I figured maybe it’s just an old dingy envelope or something,” Mann recalled. His next thought: anthrax.

Mann bolted out of his office and shut the door, washed his hands, and called the cops. Soon, the FBI arrived. Agents retrieved the letter for testing while Mann was left to explain to stunned colleagues why there was police tape sealing his door.

Death threats weren’t exactly the kind of thing Mann ’89 had imagined as an undergrad at Cal, when he was first thinking about a life in academia. But his career as a climate scientist had attracted some very powerful and determined enemies. Over the years, he’d gotten used to verbal attacks and idle threats, but this was on a different level. He began to worry about his family’s safety.

In the end, the powder proved to be cornstarch, but police gave Mann a hotline number just in case. He and his wife put it on the refrigerator.  

Michael Mann Fought Climate Denial. Now He’s Fighting Climate Doom. by Bryan Schatz, California Magazine, Summer 2020 Edition

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