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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #9A

Posted on 27 February 2014 by John Hartz

  • Acidic waters kill 10 million Scallops off Vancouver
  • Climate change 'very evident,' so let's deal with it
  • Could Britain manage floods like the Dutch
  • Debunking Charles Krauthammer’s climate lies
  • Global warming slowdown 'does not invalidate climate change'
  • Global warming won't cut winter deaths as hoped
  • No global warming 'hiatus' for extreme heat days
  • Obama to propose shift in wildfire funding
  • Study links temperature to a Peruvian glacier’s growth and retreat
  • Sun-dimming volcanoes partly explain global warming hiatus
  • Unfrozen caveman pundit debates climate change
  • World begins 2014 with unusual number of extreme weather events

Acidic waters kill 10 million Scallops off Vancouver

A mass die-off of scallops near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island is being linked to the increasingly acidic waters that are threatening marine life and aquatic industries along the West Coast.

Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops, estimates his company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million dollars — forcing him to lay off approximately one-third of his staff.

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The Parksville Qualicum Beach NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Acidic Waters Kill 10 Million Scallops Off Vancouver by Kelly Kroh, Climate Progress, Feb 26, 2014

Climate Change 'Very Evident,' So Let's Deal With It, World Panel Says

The next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of scientists and government policymakers, will focus on managing the risks of a warming planet, according to the report's co-chair.

"The impacts of climate change that have already occurred are very evident, they're widespread, they have consequences," Chris Field, a professor in the Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University and the co-chair of the IPCC working group drafting the report, said in a meeting with reporters Monday.

The fifth assessment report from the IPCC's Working Group II focuses on climate impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. The final version of the report is due to be released on March 31, though reporters have already published a leaked early draft. The draft states that, within this century, effects of climate change "will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security and trigger new poverty traps."

Climate Change 'Very Evident,' So Let's Deal With It, World Panel Says by Kate Shepard, The Huffington Post, Feb 24, 2014

Could Britain manage floods like the Dutch?

Just like the British in 2014, the Dutch have experienced serious inland flooding in the post-war period, including in 1953 when there were around 2,000 casualties.  Moreover, in 1993 and 1995, river floods damaged more than 10,000 houses and companies, and some 250,000 people were evacuated.
The disturbing news is that the British floods are part of a much bigger picture of growing flood risk across the globe.  The United Nations, for instance, has calculated that in 2012 the world reached a tipping point where more than half of the global population now lives in flood-prone areas.

Could Britain manage floods like the Dutch? Op-ed by Matthijs Kok, Reuters, Feb 23, 2014

Debunking Charles Krauthammer’s climate lies

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer published a head slapper of a column last week, in which the conservative pundit managed to spew an enormous number of misinformed, misleading claims, all couched in this “disclaimer” of an opening graf:

I repeat: I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’ve long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I also believe that those scientists who pretend to know exactly what this will cause in 20, 30 or 50 years are white-coated propagandists.

The column already received a deserved takedown in the Post’s own Op-Ed pages, courtesy of his colleague Stephen Stromberg. The same day it was published, coincidentally, protesters with CREDO and Forecast the Facts delivered a petition to the Post’s D.C. offices demanding that the paper stop publishing Op-Eds that spread misinformation about the science of climate change.

Debunking Charles Krauthammer’s climate lies: A drinking game by Lindsay Abrams, Salon, Feb 25, 2014                    

Global warming slowdown 'does not invalidate climate change'

The slowdown in rising global surface temperatures is not a sign that climate change is no longer happening, the national science academies of the US and the UK have said.

Publishing a guide on the state of climate change science, the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society said the short-term slowdown this century did not "invalidate" the long-term trend of rising temperatures caused by man-made climate change.

"Despite the decadal slowdown in the rise of average surface temperature, a longer-term warming trend is still evident. Each of the last three decades was warmer than any other decade since widespread thermometer measurements were introduced in the 1850s," the publication, Climate Change Evidence and Causes, said.

Global warming slowdown 'does not invalidate climate change' by Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, Feb 26, 2014

Global warming won't cut winter deaths as hoped

Global warming will fail to reduce high winter death rates as some officials have predicted because there will be more harmful weather extremes even as it gets less cold, a British study showed on Sunday.

Global warming won't cut winter deaths as hoped - UK study by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Feb 23, 2014

No global warming 'hiatus' for extreme heat days

The number and intensity of extremely hot days has been increasing steadily despite a "pause" in the rise of average surface temperatures over the past 15 years, a new study has found.

"This analysis shows that not only is there no pause in the evolution of the warmest daily extremes over land but that they have continued unabated over the observational record," said the paper published Wednesday in Nature Climate Change.

"Furthermore, the available evidence suggests that the most 'extreme' extremes show the greatest change."

No global warming 'hiatus' for extreme heat days by Emily Chung, CBC, Feb 26, 20`4

Obama to propose shift in wildfire funding

President Obama’s annual budget request to Congress will propose a significant change in how the government pays to fight wildfires, administration officials said, a move that they say reflects the ways in which climate change is increasing the risk for and cost of those fires.

The wildfire funding shift is one in a series of recent White House actions related to climate change as Mr. Obama tries to highlight the issue and build political support for his administration’s more muscular policies, like curbing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. On Monday, Mr. Obama plans to describe his proposal at a meeting in Washington with governors of Western states that have been ravaged recently by severe drought and wildfires. 

Obama to Propose Shift in Wildfire Funding by Coral Davenport, New York Times, Feb 23, 2014

Study links temperature to a Peruvian glacier’s growth and retreat

Sitting on a flat volcanic plain 18,000 feet above sea level, the great Quelccaya ice cap of Peru is the largest piece of ice in the tropics. In recent decades, as scientists have watched it melt at an accelerating pace, it has also become a powerful symbol of global warming.

Yet the idea that the ice cap has retreated over time because of a change in temperature, rather than other possible factors like reduced snowfall, has always been more of a surmise than a proven case. In fact, how to interpret the disappearance of glaciers throughout the tropics has been a scientific controversy.

Now, a group of scientists is presenting new findings suggesting that over the centuries, temperature is the main factor controlling the growth and retreat of the largest glacier emerging from the ice cap. If they are right, then Quelccaya’s recent melting could indeed be viewed as a symbol of the planetary warming linked to human emissions of greenhouse gases.

Study Links Temperature to a Peruvian Glacier’s Growth and Retreat by Justin Gillis, New York Tiems, Feb25, 2014

Sun-dimming volcanoes partly explain global warming hiatus

Small volcanic eruptions help explain a hiatus in global warming this century by dimming sunlight and offsetting a rise in emissions of heat-trapping gases to record highs, a study showed on Sunday.

Eruptions of at least 17 volcanoes since 2000, including Nabro in Eritrea, Kasatochi in Alaska and Merapi in Indonesia, ejected sulphur whose sun-blocking effect had been largely ignored until now by climate scientists, it said.

Sun-dimming volcanoes partly explain global warming hiatus-study by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Feb 23, 2014

Unfrozen caveman pundit debates climate change

Climate change has a  strange way of making people say ridiculous things. There’s the crowd that hoots  “Where’s your global  warming now?” every time there’s a cold snap or a blizzard in their home  town—as if local weather were the same as global climate. There’s the faction  that continues to insist that climate change is an elaborate hoax, one that’s  enabled by a “bought-off media,” without ever specifying a) who’s doing the  buying off and, b) exactly where I should have been going all these years to  pick up my check.

And then there are the people who have way too much intellectual octane to be  ridiculous, but they don’t mind getting the facts tactically wrong. Which brings  us to Charles Krauthammer—specifically to the column  he wrote in the Feb. 20 Washington Post. The headline—“The Myth of ‘Settled  Science’”—portended bad things. But the opening sentences gave me hope.

Unfrozen Caveman Pundit Debates Climate Change by Jeffry Kluger, Viewpoint, Time, Feb 23, 2013

World begins 2014 with unusual number of extreme weather events

There have been heatwaves in Slovenia and Australia, snow in Vietnam and the return of the polar vortex to North America. Britain has had its wettest winter in 250 years but temperatures in parts of Russia and the Arctic have been 10C above normal. Meanwhile, the southern hemisphere has had the warmest start to a year ever recorded, with millions of people sweltering in Brazilian and southern African cities.


World begins 2014 with unusual number of extreme weather events by John Vidal, The Guardian, Feb 25, 2014

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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. "Debunking Charles Krauthammer’s climate lies" is missing a link, which is here

    I hope everyone reads Krauthammer's piece as its a classic 'doubt is our product' piece of misinformation.  If 'doubt is your product' then you aren't served by shedding a light on the problem, in this case, of future climate.  Rather you are served by spray-painting out the light on the problem that's being shed by others.  Hence its extremely important for Krauthammer to claim that he doesn't know whether Global Warming is real or not, because it excuses his lack of prediction of future climate.  No light from him.  Despite this ambivalence, he is somehow 'certain' that the climate scientists don't know what they're talking about- no light from them.  This leaves us all stumbling around in the dark, supporting the fossil status quo, which is his intention.  Its also why I call such people graffiti taggers.  No constructing a bridge to the future for them.  Just spray-painting over the bridge constructed by others to make it look unpalatable.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Thank you for bringing this omission to our attention. The link has been inserted.

  2. Its great to hear that the IPCC will now start to focus on ways to reduce the impacts of climate change. Its getting a little pointless when the only arguments we are hearing are conspiracy theory's.

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  3. "Global warming won't cut winter deaths as hoped"

    This topic, and the related topic of summer heat induced death are a tad misleading. The death rate of all causes is 100%: you are going to die at some point, and today there will be a medical diagnosis other than old age. 

    But nearly all deaths due to summer heat are natural deaths of old age, and that is a quiet passing during one's sleep, rather than while hooked up to machines, after a painful fall, or due to a hospital aquired infection.

    It's best not to distract from the real risks of climate change with headlines which will be mocked as meaning "Millyuns will die in the streets if you don't buy a Prius".

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Newspaper headlines are purposely written to grab the reader's attention and entice him/jher to read the article. 

  4. No edit function: For clarity, my last sentence would be better as "...mocked as insinuating..."

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  5. Non-Scientist:

    I must disagree strongly with your characterization. There is no hint of what you suggest regarding "buying a Prius".

    Here is the abstract of the paper discussed in the Reuters article:

    It is widely assumed by policymakers and health professionals that the harmful health impacts of anthropogenic climate change1, 2, 3 will be partially offset by a decline in excess winter deaths (EWDs) in temperate countries, as winters warm4, 5, 6. Recent UK government reports state that winter warming will decrease EWDs7, 8. Over the past few decades, however, the UK and other temperate countries have simultaneously experienced better housing, improved health care, higher incomes and greater awareness of the risks of cold. The link between winter temperatures and EWDs may therefore no longer be as strong as before. Here we report on the key drivers that underlie year-to-year variations in EWDs. We found that the association of year-to-year variation in EWDs with the number of cold days in winter ( <5 °C), evident until the mid 1970s, has disappeared, leaving only the incidence of influenza-like illnesses to explain any of the year-to-year variation in EWDs in the past decade. Although EWDs evidently do exist, winter cold severity no longer predicts the numbers affected. We conclude that no evidence exists that EWDs in England and Wales will fall if winters warm with climate change. These findings have important implications for climate change health adaptation policies. [Emphasis mine.]

    In short, excess winter mortality no longer seems related to winter conditions themselves, but to the varying deadliness of seasonal influenza and its relatives - the paper analyses the expectation that excess winter deaths will decrease due to milder winters and finds that there is little room for improvement. (It must be said that this is a single paper, so some corroboration is surely required before it is taken as fact.)

    The headline itself is nothing more than a literal one-sentence summary of the findings of the paper as noted in the abstract.

    It's also worth noting the risk factors for mortality/morbidity for heat illness:

    Age. Infants and children up to age 4, and adults over age 65, are particularly vulnerable because they adjust to heat more slowly than other people.

    Certain health conditions. These include heart, lung, or kidney disease, obesity or underweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, mental illness, sickle cell trait, alcoholism, sunburn, and any conditions that cause fever. People with diabetes are at increased risk of emergency room visits, hospitalization, and death from heat-related illness and may be especially likely to underestimate their risk during heat waves.

    Medications. These include diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants, some heart and blood pressure medications, and medications for psychiatric conditions.

    [Emphasis original.]

    Increased risk of heat illness is obviously a real risk of climate change, whatever your feelings about who dies from it. All this article does is show that we can't look to decreased winter mortality/morbidity to balance it off.

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  6. A new report from the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Science  is more readable than the IPCC report.  It starts with 20 FAQ's about climate change.  It looks like a good starting reference for climate science.

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