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Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Global warming is real and human-caused. It is leading to large-scale climate change. Under the guise of climate "skepticism", the public is bombarded with misinformation that casts doubt on the reality of human-caused global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming "skepticism".

Our mission is simple: debunk climate misinformation by presenting peer-reviewed science and explaining the techniques of science denial.

 


2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #21

Posted on 29 May 2022 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 22, 2022 through Sat, May 28, 2022.

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week (bolded articles are from SkS authors): Australia’s rightwing government weaponised climate change – now it has faced its reckoning, International Commission Votes to Allow Use of More Climate-Friendly Refrigerants in AC and Heat Pumps, Planetary Dieticians, EGU2022 - A personal diary from a science enthusiast perspective, Planetary Diets, and Pakistan hits 120°F as climate trends drive spring heatwave.

Articles Linked to on Facebook

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EGU2022 - A personal diary from a science enthusiast perspective

Posted on 27 May 2022 by BaerbelW

After two years of Corona-induced online meetings in 2020 and 2021, this year's General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) started on Monday May 23 both on premise in Vienna and online as a hybrid conference. I spent the whole week in Vienna, picking and chosing sessions I was interested in. This blog post will be a compilation - a kind of diary - of the happenings from my perspective.

As this post is fairly large, you can jump to the different days, via these links:

Monday - TuesdayWednesday - Thursday - Friday

Welcome

Each day was structured into 1.5-hour session timeslots which consisted of 15 to 20 short orals where each presenting author had at most 3 to 5 minutes to share her or his abstract in a kind of elevator pitch with time for 1 or 2 questions at the end before it was the next author's turn. This obviously only allowed for very short and time blocked presentations with at most a handful of slides. Longer presentations could however be uploaded to go with the abstract where offline discussions were possible and encouraged as well.

Monday, May 23

EGU Today

Having already picked up my badge on Sunday afternoon, I could skip the expectedly long registration line and directly proceed to the first session I had put onto my agenda which started at 8:30: EOS1.1, Science and Society: Science Communication Practice, Research, and Reflection. Because of the many submitted abstracts, EOS1.1 had been given two 90 minute timeslots and they were really worthwhile listening to. We heard about a Climate Action HackathonImmersive storytellingIllustrating Climate ScienceKlimaatHelpdesk.org which is a Dutch website providing short answers to climate-related questions (example via Twitter), Imagine it's climate crisis - and nobody gives a sh**! to name just a few. All the abstracts are publicly available already and many longer displays will become open access after June 30.

After the lunch break, I went to the short course SC3.6/EOS2.4 which asked the somewhat rhetorical question „Scared of giving presentations?“. Because the room was already way too crowded and spilling over into the hallway when I got there, I found a table on an outside terrace and joined the session online via Zoom. This worked pretty well and is - in my opinion - another advantage of organizing a hybrid conference as all the sessions are streamed online anyway making access easy as long as you have a stable internet connection. Sitting outside in balmy spring weather without the need to wear a mask was a definite bonus! The presenters shared lots of helpful tips and tricks of how to avoid - or at least subdue - stage fright.

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #21 2022

Posted on 26 May 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Good news for methane, bad news for us

A cloudless sky on a sunny day looks featureless and inactive to our eyes. In reality, invisible to us a perfect frenzy of chemistry is happening in the daytime sky. For people interested in tracking the life history of a given compound in Earth's atmosphere there are many details to capture and account for.

In connection with climate change, we're of course interested in the effective residence time of the most important "greenhouse gases" or GHGs, which include not only CO2 but also methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). 

Methane is not only a much more potent GHG than CO2 but is also (and unlike CO2) chemically very busy in the atmosphere, too active and too generous for its own good. CH4's trip into the air is essentially on a one-way ticket; all methane entering the atmosphere is also ultimately destroyed there. Destruction mostly happens in interactions with OH and Cl radicals hungry for electrons on offer by CH4.

Careful accounting for availability of radicals is needed to predict the lifespan of methane in the atmosphere. Qinyi Li et al. have paid particular attention to the various roles of various compounds and elements acting in concert and opposition to act on and destroy methane, in Reactive halogens increase the global methane lifetime and radiative forcing in the 21st century (Nature Communications).  In particular the authors note that the radical compound OH is a main "consumer" of methane, but OH itself requires O3 (ozone) as a feedstock. Full accounting reveals that O3 is destroyed in suffiicent quantity by halogens such as bromine, iodine and chlorine so as to limit the supply of OH radicals. This is a previously unidentified and hence unconsidered factor, and one that is quite significant. It helps to explain some discrepancies between modeled expectations and observed behavior.

The above atmospheric chemistry description is highly simplified and paraphrased by somebody who did their 3 semesters of university chemistry about 40 years ago. The upshot is pretty easy for all of us to understand. From the abstract: 

Here, we demonstrate that reactive halogen chemistry increases the global CH4 lifetime by 6–9% during the 21st century. This effect arises from significant halogen-mediated decrease, mainly by iodine and bromine, in OH-driven CH4 loss that surpasses the direct Cl-induced CH4 sink. This increase in CH4 lifetime helps to reduce the gap between models and observations and results in a greater burden and radiative forcing during this century. The increase in CH4 burden due to halogens (up to 700 Tg or 8% by 2100) is equivalent to the observed atmospheric CH4 growth during the last three to four decades. Notably, the halogen-driven enhancement in CH4 radiative forcing is 0.05 W/m2 at present and is projected to increase in the future (0.06 W/m2 by 2100); such enhancement equals ~10% of present-day CH4 radiative forcing and one-third of N2O radiative forcing, the third-largest well-mixed greenhouse gas. 

This isn't good news, especially when projected onto the weekly drumbeat of research findings on methane sources we're unleashing by our rapid warming, thawing and flooding of abundant organic carbon stocks, which when combined with hungry microorganisms will feed methane into our atmosphere in abundance. 

Other notables

Saudi Arabia’s Climate Change Policy and the Circular Carbon Economy Approach. Squaring a circle turns out to be quite difficult.

Mitigating climate disruption in time: A self-consistent approach for avoiding both near-term and long-term global warming. The authors argue and illustrate how optimal & fully predictable mitigation of climate change must include a holistic inventory of anthropogenic emissions— including those with offsetting effects. There are improvements to be made in the scope of our inventories & accounting. 

A right to pollute versus a duty to mitigate: on the basis of emissions trading and carbon markets identifies fundamental moral failure in the concept of "cap and trade" as a means to steer ourselves to lower CO2 emissions. Moving on from philosophical principles, the author also discusses cap-and-trade's failure to perform in the face of human nature and the real world.

The turning point: A Global Summary.  Leaving aside "intangibles" such as misery, extinctions etc., the authors find that our present course for 3°C of warming will result in loss of US$178 trillion in net present value terms over the next 50 years.  Conversely, not acting as Homo bolidus will see us squarely in the black. In this week's government/NGO section and offered by professional pragmatists Deloitte

All of the above open access and free to read. As usual, this week's edition of NR includes a juicy selection of government and NGO reports, directly accessible by clicking here. 

117 articles in 52 journals by 661 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Surface and sub-surface drivers of autumn temperature increase over Eurasian permafrost
Vecellio & Frauenfeld Climatic Change
10.1007/s10584-022-03366-3

Observations of climate change, effects

Long Term Evolution Of Cold Air Pools (Caps) Over The Madrid Basin
Rasilla et al. International Journal of Climatology
10.1002/joc.7700

Shoaling of abyssal ventilation in the Eastern Indian Sector of the Southern Ocean
Shimada et al. Communications Earth & Environment
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-022-00445-2

Long-term trends in daily extreme air temperature indices in Ireland from 1885-2018
Mateus & Potito Weather and Climate Extremes
Open Access 10.1016/j.wace.2022.100464

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New study offers a glimmer of hope for climate solutions success

Posted on 25 May 2022 by dana1981

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

The vast majority of climate modeling studies treat human behavior as an external, unpredictable factor. They have projected how the climate would change in a variety of possible greenhouse gas emissions pathways, but have not evaluated the likelihood of those pathways.

That approach informs the public and policymakers about what climate paths they should follow in order to achieve the best outcomes for human society and other species, but it does not provide information about which of the nearly infinite possible paths societies most likely will follow. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses scenarios ranging from less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to more than 4°C (7.2°F) warming above pre-industrial temperatures by 2100, but IPCC does not analyze the likelihood of each outcome.

To address that shortcoming, University of California Davis climate economist Frances Moore led a new study, published in the prestigious journal Nature, that incorporated seven social, political, and technological feedbacks into climate models. It’s an effort to assess which human emissions pathways are the most likely. 

This approach “is important for adaptation because increasingly we need to give people information about what climate risks are going to look like over the next 50 or 100 years,” Moore said in a phone interview, which is very difficult if scientists are unable to constrain the likely range of human emissions over that period.

The results of the study provide reason for optimism: The Paris Climate Agreement targets remain within reach in about three-quarters of the 100,000 model simulations run by Moore’s team through the year 2100. While significant uncertainties remain, the study envisions a possible future in which a cascade of social and political and technological feedbacks could lead to an accelerating decline in human greenhouse gas emissions.

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Planetary Dieticians

Posted on 24 May 2022 by Evan

Headline Conclusion

The toughest part of predicting the future is predicting choices people make.
What choices are you making?

A plan for a healthy body

Donut consumption provides punctuated delights in Bob’s daily, humdrum routine. Aware, however, that donuts drive weight gain, and that excessive weight gain is linked to health disorders, Bob commits to reigning in his high-energy-consumption lifestyle. Aware of the multitude of “down-donut-diets” circulating on social media, but unable to choose or commit to a plan on his own, Bob schedules an appointment with Cindy, a professional dietician. Cindy will help Bob chart a course to lower donut consumption.

The session with Cindy goes well. She impresses him with her knowledge and experience, and inspires in him hope for a better Bob. Cindy predicts that Bob can achieve his goal of 200 lbs in one year’s time. Bob pictures his slimmed-down self, laying in the sun, on a beach. Life will be good with his new plan!

One year later Bob returns, upset. Cindy’s predictions were wrong. Instead of decreasing to 200 lbs, as she “predicted”, Bob’s weight increased from 240 to 260 lbs! In addition, Bob is starting to feel winded when he goes grocery shopping. Bob is desperate, because he is beginning to feel the early effects of his donut binging. If the relationship between excess calories and weight and health is so well understood, why was Cindy’s prediction so far off? Perhaps dieticians don’t know as much as they claim or perhaps she is just scamming her clients! Obviously, dieticians like Cindy can’t be trusted.

Predicting Bob’s weight and health depends not just on understanding the relationship between diet and health, but also on Bob’s choices. Because Cindy cannot control Bob’s choices, she made predictions based on the following, three down-donut scenarios:

  • Plan A: Net-0 donut consumption,1 leading to weight reduction to 200 lbs.
  • Plan B: Net-3 donuts/day, with Bob’s weight stabilizing at 240 lbs.
  • Plan C: Net-6 donuts/day, causing Bob’s weight to increase to 280 lbs.

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Planetary Diets

Posted on 23 May 2022 by Evan

Headline Conclusion

Getting to net zero emissions is a matter of willpower.

Read on to understand why.

How does energy consumption affect our bodies?

USDA recommendations for adult men range from 2000 to 3000 calories/day. For similar levels of activity, one can therefore expect that on the low end of this caloric intake one’s body weight will be less than on the high end.

At 2800 calories/day, Bob’s energy consumption is balanced by the energy needs of his body. Bob maintains a stable, healthy weight. For Bob’s level of activity, age, and physical stature, the relationship between his energy consumption and body weight is as follows.

Table 1. Bob's Equilibrium Body Sensitivity (EBS)1

Calories/day Body Weight [lbs]
2800 180 (Bob's baseline, healthy weight)
3000 200
3500 240
4000 280

Table 1 refers to Bob’s Equilibrium Body Sensitivity (EBS). This means that if Bob maintains a diet at one of these caloric levels, for a “sufficiently long time,” that he can expect his weight to eventually rise to and stabilize at that level. Just because Bob’s eating a 4000-calorie diet does not mean he will weigh 280 lbs. It only means Bob will eventually weigh 280 lbs if he continues to consume calories at this rate for a sufficiently long time.

Bob goes to a company party and eats a few too many donuts. Yum yum. For one day his caloric intake spikes to 4000 calories. What happens to his weight? Does he instantly weigh 280 lbs? Has he committed himself to eventually weigh 280 lbs because of this one day of “sin”?

There is another rule of thumb, based on energy budgets, which states that a person needs to eat 3500 calories more than they burn off to gain 1 lb. Considering that 2800 calories/day is Bob’s baseline caloric intake for maintaining a healthy body, eating 4000 calories for a single day means eating 1200 calories more than his body needs. This would result in Bob gaining 1200/3500 = 1/3 lb. Energy budgets equate total calories consumed with total expected weight gain. This is a more immediate effect.

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #20

Posted on 22 May 2022 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 15, 2022 through Sat, May 21, 2022.

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week (bolded articles are from SkS authors): Bad news for the 2022 hurricane season: The Loop Current, a fueler of monster storms, is looking a lot like it did in 2005, the year of Katrina, This start-up makes vodka out of CO2 emissions, and it’s backed by Toyota and JetBlue, Why haven't we solved Climate Change (yet)?, ‘Reef Balls’ Gain Traction for Shoreline Protection, and EGU22 - Cranky Uncle is going to Vienna!.

Articles Linked to on Facebook

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Breaking Through Twitter's Spiral of Silence with the #ClimateDaily Pledge

Posted on 20 May 2022 by Steve Dondley

The Spiral of Silence Problem

As climate communicator John Cook cleverly illustrates below, a big obstacle to raising awareness about climate change is the "spiral of silence," a reluctance to talk about it. There are many reasons for this reluctance we can speculate about. Perhaps people don't want to be "Debbie Downers," or don't feel knowledgeable enough to bring it up, or wish to avoid being perceived as controversial.

The Spiral of Silence

But whatever the reason, it's a problem. And we see this problem on Twitter, one of the biggest platforms for disseminating news and shaping public opinion. With the exception of those of us on Twitter who are on a mission to raise awareness about climate change, the vast majority of people don't tweet about climate change much, if at all. Though wildfires, temperature records, and other worrying weather events can help break through the social media noise machine, climate change soon fades into the background again, replaced with the next crisis of the hour.

The end result is that climate change, the biggest challenge that humans have ever confronted, is not mentioned nearly enough. This is unfortunate because science communicators tell us that the act of talking about climate change regularly is an important precursor for action because it gets more people thinking about the issue. So what to do?

The #ClimateDaily Pledge

I propose making a concerted effort to keep climate change in the forefront of people's minds that I call the "#ClimateDaily Pledge." My twitter thread here explains it succinctly, but please read on for additional details on how I imagine it working.

The pledge is simple, having only two parts:

Climate Pledge graphic

1) Make a conscious effort to tweet about climate change at least once a day and tag it with the #ClimateDaily hashtag.

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #20 2022

Posted on 19 May 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Drought: the past is no longer prologue

Drought management in the United States (and elsewhere) is highly informed by events of the past, employing records extending 60 years or longer  in order to plan for and cope with newly emerging meteorological water deficits. Water resource managers and agricultural concerns use recorded droughts as models for negotiating periods of low precipitation in the present. Planning systems, metthods and habits are deeply seated on this foundation of knowledge and experience. 

Problems will arise when weather and climate drift away from expected patterns of behavior and enter new territory while we cling to old data that has lost power to describe our new reality. Hoylman et al. delve into this in their work just publshed in Nature CommunicationsDrought assessment has been outpaced by climate change: empirical arguments for a paradigm shift. The authors concisely describe the meat of the matter:

Despite the acceleration of climate change, erroneous assumptions of climate stationarity are still inculcated in the management of water resources in the United States (US). The US system for drought detection, which triggers billions of dollars in emergency resources, adheres to this assumption with preference towards 60-year (or longer) record lengths for drought characterization. Using observed data from 1,934 Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) sites across the US, we show that conclusions based on long climate records can substantially bias assessment of drought severity. Bias emerges by assuming that conditions from the early and mid 20th century are as likely to occur in today’s climate.

It's worth noting that other assessments are similarly affected, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes our records don't extend into reliable "pre-industrial" climate.  The problem can potentially become even worse, as in the use of a relatively short rollling period for comparisons of annual Arctic sea ice metrics with averages over time.  A rapidly changing climate complicates a plethora of assessments of "how are we today," given the loss of stationarity in many Earth systems. 

Hopefully this article will help draw attention the general matter of non-stationarity. "Paradigm shift" as a search term on Google Scholar yields 1.9M+ results; we may possibly conclude that many sincerely felt urgent matters are given short shrift. 

Other notables:

Fencing farm dams to exclude livestock halves methane emissions and improves water quality. Farmers and ranchers are not notorious for having loads of spare time on their hands, but here's a method not representing an open-ended supply of additional work and offering a good payoff. 

A systematic review of the psychological distance of climate change: Towards the development of an evidence-based construct. There are tantalizing indications that "psychological distance" from climate change (and particularly impacts of climate change) can be predictive of how we think about the problem and how motivated we may feel to deal with it. This article reviews strenghts and weaknesses of the concept and concludes with prescriptions for how to progress. 

Multiscale mechanical consequences of ocean acidification for cold-water corals. When we think of coral, many of us picture lively scenes in bright,sparkling waters beneath tropical skies. There's a whole other world of coral beyond our view, and unlike increasing warmth, it's acidification of the ocean posing a threat to these assemblages. 

Becoming nose-blind—Climate change impacts on chemical communication. Exquisitely sensitive biological sensors facilitate and govern myriad animal behaviors. How is our rapidly changing atmosphere affecting these systems? We don't know in detail but with a little planning we can substantially fill that gap. 

All of the above open access and free to read.

This week's edition of NR includes a particularly rich set of government/NGO reports on matters connected with climate change. Click here to jump directly to the section. 

97 articles in 49 journals by 602 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

The Climate Control on River Chemistry
Li et al. Earth's Future
Open Access pdf 10.1029/2021ef002603

New Insights on the Radiative Impacts of Ozone-Depleting Substances
Chiodo & Polvani Geophysical Research Letters
10.1029/2021gl096783

Subpolar Atlantic Ocean mixed layer heat content variability is increasingly driven by an active ocean
Josey & Sinha Communications Earth & Environment
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-022-00433-6

Observations of climate change, effects

Spatiotemporal analysis of precipitation and temperature concentration using PCI and TCI: a case study of Khuzestan Province, Iran
Ahmadi et al. Theoretical and Applied Climatology
10.1007/s00704-022-04077-6

Changes in hydrological regime in High Arctic non-glaciated catchment in 1979-2020 using a multimodel approach
Osuch et al. Advances in Climate Change Research
Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2022.05.001

Daytime warming triggers tree growth decline in the Northern Hemisphere
Tao et al. Global Change Biology
10.1111/gcb.16238

Citizen science across two centuries reveals phenological change among plant species and functional groups in the Northeastern US
Fuccillo Battle et al. Journal of Ecology
10.1111/1365-2745.13926

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EGU22 - Cranky Uncle is going to Vienna!

Posted on 18 May 2022 by BaerbelW

After two years of Corona-induced online meetings in 2020 and 2021, this year's General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) will take place as a hybrid conference in both Vienna and online from May 23 to 27.

EGU22 Banner

To take hybrid and necessary hygiene restrictions into account, there (unfortunately) will be no poster or PICO sessions at this year's conference. Instead, all 1.5-hour session timeslots will consist of 15 to 20 short orals where each presenting author has at most 3 to 5 minutes to share her or his abstract in a kind of elevator pitch with time for 1 or 2 questions at the end before it's the next author's turn. This obviously only allows for a very short presentation with at most a handful of slides. Longer presentations can however be uploaded to go with the abstract (see below).

John Cook and I submitted an abstract for session EOS1.3 "Games for Geoscience", convened by Christopher Skinner and Co-Conveners Rolf Hut, Sam Illingworth, Elizabeth Lewis and Jazmin Scarlett, figuring that this would be a good fit to share a thing or two about the Cranky Uncle game. The session will take place on Wednesday, 25 May, from 15:10–16:38 (CEST) in Room 1.14 in the Austria Center Vienna (ACV).

CrankyAbstract

Please click the image for a larger version or go to the abstract on the EGU website for a legible version!

You don't need to be a registered participant to read the abstracts and conference program. You however won't have access to the presentations uploaded by the authors until after June 30. Come July, the presentations uploaded with a creative commons 4.0 license will automatically become open access and everybody can view and download them. If you'd like to take a look at our detailed presentation about the Cranky Uncle game earlier than July, you can open and download the PDF (2.1MB) here. A PDF-version of the short "pitch" presentation is available here.

The presentation comes with an index slide from where some facets of the game can be accessed:

Index Slide

Please click on image for larger version or open the PDF for the interactive presentation.

Should any of you happen to be in Vienna or even participate in the conference, please let us know in the comments. It would be nice to get in touch!

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The kids are not OK

Posted on 17 May 2022 by Guest Author

Julia Steinberger is an ecological economist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. She first posted this piece at Medium.com, and it was reposted on Yale Climate Connections with her permission.

Today I went to give a climate talk at my old high school in Geneva – and was given a masterclass in our failings. This is the story of a day that shook me up.

I have given climate talks at high schools before. In 2019, I was invited by the first Geneva climate strikers to go around the high schools on the morning of their first strike. I went, with a friend, racing on our bikes from school to school to school, as many as we could reach during the morning. Back then, the mood was electric, excited, engaged. The students had taken control of the agenda: they were going to put the concerns and needs of their generation front and centre. They were going to get things moving. There were lots of questions on climate science, projections, impacts, actions. Everyone was excited to take part, to learn.

Fast forward three years (and a pandemic) later, and the mood could not have been more different. I sensed it as I was speaking, a general muttering in the auditorium full of 16- to 17-year-olds, that sometimes ebbed a bit, but never really went away. I thought the students might be bored by the specific aspects I was talking about. Sources of emissions, trends, specific impact probabilities, types of mitigation actions … I raced through the topics, hoping to reach one they would be interested in. And at the end, during the Q&A, it finally came out.

One girl took the mic and held on to it. Her questions came fast and clear, and were widely applauded by her peers. She was clearly channelling the zeitgeist of the room. This is my recollection of some of her questions.

  • “Why are you here talking to us? We can’t do anything. Only politicians, only business leaders, can make the big changes you are talking about. Why aren’t you talking to them?”
  • “Why do you talk to us about optimism [Note: I had not, actually, but perhaps my presentation had been announced as such. Who knows.], about possible actions, when we all know that none of that will happen?”
  • “All these people in power have known about this problem for so long. Yet the IPCC comes out with report after report explaining we have to act within just a few years – and nothing happens, nothing changes. Why do you think this talk of yours to us can do anything?”

I answered as best I could – not very well. I realised that times had shifted, and that the 16-year-olds of today were in a place far beyond where those of 2019 were. Their mood was one of deep, cold, frustration and betrayal. Pessimism, even despair, perhaps, but also disdain. I had failed them, for sure, but clearly so had the other grown-ups in their lives. I was shaken.

For the rest of the day, until now, I have being thinking through that experience, what the girl and others in the auditorium said, the feeling in the room. Here are my realisations.

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Climate change will transform how we live, but these tech and policy experts see reason for optimism

Posted on 16 May 2022 by Guest Author

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article by Robert Lempert, Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School and Elisabeth Gilmore, Associate Professor of Climate Change, Technology and Policy, Carleton University

It’s easy to feel pessimistic when scientists around the world are warning that climate change has advanced so far, it’s now inevitable that societies will either transform themselves or be transformed. But as two of the authors of a recent international climate report, we also see reason for optimism.

The latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change discuss changes ahead, but they also describe how existing solutions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help people adjust to impacts of climate change that can’t be avoided.

The problem is that these solutions aren’t being deployed fast enough. In addition to push-back from industries, people’s fear of change has helped maintain the status quo.

To slow climate change and adapt to the damage already underway, the world will have to shift how it generates and uses energy, transports people and goods, designs buildings and grows food. That starts with embracing innovation and change.

Fear of change can lead to worsening change

From the industrial revolution to the rise of social media, societies have undergone fundamental changes in how people live and understand their place in the world.

Some transformations are widely regarded as bad, including many of those connected to climate change. For example, about half the world’s coral reef ecosystems have died because of increasing heat and acidity in the oceans. Island nations like Kiribati and coastal communities, including in Louisiana and Alaska, are losing land into rising seas.

Residents of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati describe the changes they’re experiencing as sea level rises.

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #19

Posted on 15 May 2022 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 8, 2022 through Sat, May 14, 2022.

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week (bolded articles are from SkS authors): The secret world beneath our feet is mind-blowing – and the key to our planet’s future, How climate scientists keep hope alive as damage worsens, Experts: Global Warming Is Causing the World's Oceans To Lose Their 'Memory', How a quirk of the brain prevents us from caring about climate change, and Why our continued use of fossil fuels is creating a financial time bomb.

Articles Linked to on Facebook

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #19 2022

Posted on 12 May 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

In case of emergency break glass— but glass can cut

Fire extinguishers, safety belts, first aid kits, insurance policies, geoengineering: we never enjoy using them. But given our demonstrated, deep empirical record of proclivity for creating hazards and risk we'd obviously be foolish not to include emergency responses in our inventory. Of late geoengineering has become more acutely and urgently controversial in positive correlation with its possibility of use. We're barbequeing the planet and being very sloppy about it, after all. What used to be confined to the realm of science fiction is turning into tools we'll likely be forced to use— completely in keeping with our nature.

Geoengineering encompasses a broad array of processes and methods. 20 of these are sufficiently modeled as to suggest plausibility of deployment. All present hazards and risks of greater or lesser impact and scope. All can be thought of as trades of one type of undesirability for another. How do we choose? Well, we can start by broad, systematic and comprehensive information collection, collated and arranged so as to be useful when viewed from a number of perspectives. That's exactly what Sovacool, Baum & Lomb tackle, in Risk–risk governance in a low-carbon future: Exploring institutional, technological, and behavioral tradeoffs in climate geoengineering pathways, just published in Risk Analysis. The authors explain their questions and research objectives:

What risks does the deployment of these options entail? What types of tradeoffs may emerge through their deployment? We apply a framework that clusters risk–risk tradeoffs into institutional and governance, technological and environmental, and behavioral and temporal dimensions. In doing so, we offer a more complete inventory of risk–risk tradeoffs than those currently available within the respective risk-assessment, energy-systems, and climate-change literatures, and we also point the way toward future research gaps concerning policy, deployment, and risk management.

Thanks to its scope and approach this paper is a natural wellspring of information for a layperson who'd like to quickly ramp up on the topic of geoengineering methods, benefits and liabilities. The authors necessarily lean on extensive citations of a broad swath of previous literature, meaning that every paragraph is a trove of opportuntiies to learn more on the topic.

Other notables:

Missed Targets. A Brief History of Aviation Climate Targets. Skeptical about airline claims of improving our aviation CO2 footprint? Your intuitions appear to be correct. From our governmental/NGO collection, by Possible

Beyond automobility? Lock-in of past failures in low-carbon urban mobility innovations. The engineering challenge of updating automobiles may be leading to a strange form of myopia, wherein we accidentally faithfully imitate and reproduce the bad features of an outmoded technology and its associated culture.

Coal vs. renewables: Least-cost optimization of the Indonesian power sector. Incumbents heavily influence utility power generation planning. The authors of this study identify serious errors in Indonesia's plans for expanding power generation, leading to both higher CO2 emissions and higher consumer costs for electricity. 

Human and planetary health implications of negative emissions technologies. Co-benefits of reasonably large scale direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) in conjunction with bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) may relieve disability and death burdens roughly equal to that of Parkinson's disease, on a global basis. 

All of the above open access and free to read.

151 articles in 60 journals by 946 contributing authors

Observations of climate change, effects

Satellites Suggest Rising Tropical High Cloud Altitude: 2002—2021
Richardson et al. Geophysical Research Letters
10.1029/2022gl098160

Typhoon strength rising in the past four decades
Pandey & Liou Weather and Climate Extremes
Open Access 10.1016/j.wace.2022.100446

The 2021 western North America heat wave among the most extreme events ever recorded globally
Thompson et al. Science Advances
10.1126/sciadv.abm6860

The effect of changing sea ice on wave climate trends along Alaska's central Beaufort Sea coast
Nederhoff et al. The Cryosphere
Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-16-1609-2022

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Why a tool for reversing Trump era rules is seldom used

Posted on 11 May 2022 by Guest Author

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

“CRA”

It’s one of those acronyms even many-a-veteran environmental policy geek may not recognize.

Amidst the scores and scores of acronyms in the field – CERCLA, IPCC, SARA, LUST, NPDES, NDCs, FIFRA, NEPA and scores more – CRA remains, contentedly or otherwise, under the radar screen.

Maybe because it’s an acronym with a scope not limited to “just” environmental or climate issues.

But perhaps more likely because it is – or at least it’s become – such a seldom used means to an end, albeit one that those obsessed with perceived excesses by the “administrative state” might just love. (Are you listening, Steve Bannon?)

CRA, aka the Congressional Review Act, became law in 1996 to provide a mechanism through which the U.S. Congress could repeal recently adopted Executive Branch rules and regulations, with simple majority votes in both the House and the Senate. The approach was passed as part of then-House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.”

The process begins once a single member of the House and a single member of the Senate introduce a joint resolution. Once a CRA disapproval of a recent rulemaking passes both chambers, generally considered a likelihood only if both are controlled by the same party, and once signed into law by a president of that same party, a CRA disapproval is not subject to a challenge in the courts.

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Flying is worse for the climate than you think

Posted on 10 May 2022 by Guest Author

Flying is often at the top of the list of our climate change causing activities. But why are the emissions from flying so bad for the climate, and is there anything that we can actually do to fix it?

Support ClimateAdam on patreon: http://patreon.com/climateadam

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India and Pakistan’s brutal heat wave poised to resurge

Posted on 9 May 2022 by Guest Author

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

A brutal, record-intensity heat wave that has engulfed much of India and Pakistan since March eased somewhat this week, but is poised to roar back in the coming week with inferno-like temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122°F). The heat, when combined with high levels of humidity – especially near the coast and along the Indus River Valley – will produce dangerously high levels of heat stress that will approach or exceed the limit of survivability for people outdoors for an extended period.

The latest forecasts from the GFS and European models predict an unusually strong region of high pressure intensifying over southern Asia in the coming week, bringing increasing heat that will peak on May 11-12, with highs near 50 degrees Celsius (122°F) near the India/Pakistan border. May is typically the region’s hottest month, and significant relief from the heat wave may not occur until the cooling rains of the Southwest Monsoon arrive in June. But tropical cyclones are also common in May in the northern Indian Ocean, and a landfalling storm could potentially bring relief from the heat wave.

Figure 1. Predicted temperatures for Pakistan and northwestern India at 12Z Thursday, May 12, 2022, from the 6Z Thursday, May 5, run of the GFS model. The model predicted temperatures of 45-50 degrees Celsius (113-122°F) over a large region. (Image credit: weathermodels.com)

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #18

Posted on 8 May 2022 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 1, 2022 through Sat, May 7, 2022.

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week (bolded articles are from SkS authors): How a tech billionaire is forcing Australia’s coal die-hards to face the future, Scorching Heatwave In India Reaches 115°F, IPCC Scientist Warns India-Pakistan Record Temps 'Testing Limits of Human Survivability', New graphics resources: Cranky Cartoons and Fallacy Icons ,Analysis: What do China’s gigantic wind and solar bases mean for its climate goals?, and The climate progress narrative is the newest tactic of global warming denialists.

Articles Linked to on Facebook

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #18 2022

Posted on 5 May 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Another gnawing warming worry

Accidental outcomes of our engineering prowess are warming Arctic regions at a rapid pace. Another species of accomplished engineers is rapidly occupying and exploiting new territory we've thereby made more easily available, namely beavers (Castor canadensis). Beaver populations in affected Arctic regions have increased from "none" to "quite a few" in only a few decades. Ironically, the construction and hydrological skills and activities of these creatures result in further swift and undesirable changes, notably acceleration of permafrost degradation.

Tape et al. describe the situation in Expanding beaver pond distribution in Arctic Alaska, 1949 to 2019, just published in Nature Scientific Reports. There is some queston as to whether this is entirely novel colonization, or reoccupation of land lost long ago thanks to overkill by trappers. Regardless, the additional challenge to permafrost is an unfortunate fact. The article's findings are supported by  remarkable satellite imagery revealing the scale of beaver industry in newly opened territory. 

Other notables:

Envisioning sustainable carbon sequestration in Swedish farmland. The complexity and conceptual challenges of reconfiguring our farming practices for the long haul are not so awful as to leave no hope. This paper's nature means it's a smorgasbord of interesting citations for a lay reader interested in learning more. 

Increasing impacts of extreme winter warming events on permafrost.  Who cares about old, dirty ice? One thing leads to another. A brief glance at the "GHG sources, sinks, flux" section of a typical edition of New Research suggests why this is reverberantly important; this week we see an article describing how thawing permafrost will be colonized by microrganisms as thawing progresses, liberating additional GHGs in the process. 

Design Study Requirements for a U.S. Macrogrid; A Path to Achieving the Nation’s Energy System Transformation Goals. What might a fully modernized, ready-for-the-future US electric grid look like, and can anybody describe that in language most of us can understand? Here it is, and yes they can. From our government/NGO reports section. 

Four Europes: Climate change beliefs and attitudes predict behavior and policy preferences using a latent class analysis on 23 countries. "Engaged (18%), Pessimistic (18%), Indifferent (42%), and Doubtful (21%)." There's work to be done. 

110 articles in 31 journals by 342 contributing authors

Observations of climate change, effects

Causal links between Arctic sea ice and its potential drivers based on the rate of information transfer
Docquier et al.
Open Access 10.1002/essoar.10507846.1

Automatic detection, classification, and long-term investigation of temporal-spatial changes of atmospheric rivers in the Middle East
Esfandiari & Rezaei International Journal of Climatology
10.1002/joc.7674

Thunderstorm activity at high latitudes observed at manned WMO weather stations
K?pski & Kubicki International Journal of Climatology
10.1002/joc.7678

Reduced Sea Ice Enhances Intensification of Winter Storms over the Arctic Ocean
Crawford et al. Journal of Climate
10.1175/jcli-d-21-0747.1

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Why and How to Electrify Everything

Posted on 4 May 2022 by dana1981

This is a re-post from the Citizens' Climate Lobby blog

Electrification is a hot topic right now, with many countries searching for ways to reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas as Putin’s war atrocities in Ukraine worsen by the day. Fortunately, many of the solutions to reduce long-term fossil fuel financial flows to the Russian government by pursuing an “electrify everything” strategy can also serve to address the climate crisis.  

The plan comprises two steps: 1) decarbonize our electricity supply, and then 2) fuel as much of the economy as possible with that clean electricity. Fortunately, step 1 is already happening, with nearly 80% of new electricity being installed in America this year coming from clean sources. The second step – switching to electric technologies – is critical to curbing both dependences on fossil fuels from abusive regimes and climate change.

Keishaa Austin, Head of Engagement and Partnerships at Rewiring America, touched on these points in CCL’s April national call. CCL also wrote a blog post about her perspective on electrifying everything. Let’s dive a little deeper into the details about how expanding electrification and efficiency can solve a variety of important problems, how the campaign can be advanced, and what people can do to help.

Why electrify everything?

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report found that future greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel infrastructure that’s already in place or in the planning stages are enough to use up the entire remaining Paris target carbon budget. Simply put, to keep global warming below 2°C we have to transition away from fossil fuels immediately. Building additional oil and gas and coal infrastructure means either missing the Paris targets or decommissioning power plants, refineries, and pipelines early, leading to potentially trillions of dollars in “stranded assets” that won’t be able to fully recoup their investment costs.

But fossil fuels power every corner of the economy, from transportation (mostly cars and trucks) to buildings (mostly space and water heating and cooking) and industrial processes. The good news is that most of these applications have cleaner, more efficient electric replacement options available.

How #ElectrifyEverything meshes with CCL’s goals

Sources of US greenhouse gas emissions. Data from the US EPA; chart created by Dana Nuccitelli

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