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2015 SkS Weekly Digest #52

Posted on 27 December 2015 by John Hartz

SkS Highlights... Toon of the Week... El Niño Impacts... Quote of the Week... Rebuttal Article Update... He Said What?... SkS in the News... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

SkS Highlights

The best of climate science and humanity come together at AGU by Dana Nuccitelli (Climate Consensus - the 97%, The Guardian) attracted the highest number of comments of the articles posted on SkS during the past week.

If you have not already done so, you will want to check out The Ghosts of Climate Past, Present and Future by Howard Lee. The fictional tale is based loosely on Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, and is told in the context of climate change in three episodes. 

El Niño Impacts 

Toon of the Week

 2015 Toon 52

Quote of the week

In a response to an emailed question, the climate activist Bill McKibben compared the rising temperatures to “waking up in the first reel of a dystopian science fiction film.”

“We’re living through history, and not of a good kind,” he said. “2015 didn’t just break the global temperature record — it crushed it. Think of the energy needed to raise the temperature of something as large as our planet by this much this fast.”

A Fitting End for the Hottest Year on Record by Jonah Bromwich, New York Times, Dec 23, 2015

Rebuttal Article Update

Both the Basic and Intermediate versions of the SkS rebuttal article, It's the Sun has been updated with the most recent available data, showing even more clearly that sun and climate are moving in opposite directions. 

T vs TSI graphic

He Said What?

A contender to be the next Republican presidential candidate says if elected, he would pull the US out of the UN climate deal struck in Paris this month.

Senator Ted Cruz, who is polling second place to billionaire businessman Donald Trump in the primaries, downplayed the threat of climate change on the campaign trail.

In Tennessee on Tuesday, he accused president Barack Obama’s administration of using the issue as an excuse to increase regulations and raising the cost of living.

“Barack Obama seems to think the SUV parked in your driveway is a bigger threat to national security than radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us. That’s just nutty,” Cruz told reporters.

“These are ideologues, they don’t focus on the facts, they won’t address the facts, and what they’re interested [in] instead is more and more government power.”

Republican candidate ‘would pull US out of Paris climate deal’ by Megan Darby, Climate Home, Dec 23, 2015 

SkS in the News

In his Grist article, The GOP vs. The Reality of Climate Change, James Resnick wrote:

Before highlighting how climate change is clearly a national security issue, it ought to be noted that many within the GOP, including of course Cruz, but also Rubio, repudiate the figure that 97 percent of scientists acknowledge human-induced climate change as a 'bogus' report.

That so-called 'bogus' report, was in fact a survey conducted by John Cook of University of Queensland, who surveyed 12,000 abstracts of peer-reviewed papers on climate change and of the 4,000 responses found that 97% acknowledged the scientific reality. However, even if that figure of 97 percent isn't taken, how about the survey conducted by James Powell that counts the number of authors from November, 2012 to December, 2013 who explicitly deny global warming based on more than 2000 peer-reviewed publications. Powell found 9163 agree with the consensus, 1 disagree. 

The GOP vs. The Reality of Climate Change by James Resnick, Grist, Dec 22, 2015

Coming Soon on SkS

  • The strong economics of wind energy (John Abraham)
  • Alberta's new carbon tax (Andy Skuce)
  • Why we need the next-to-impossible 1.5°C temperature target (Simon Donner)
  • 2015 in Review: Another productive year for the Skeptical Science Team (Baerbel)
  • Tracking the 2°C Limit - November 2015 (Rob Honeycut)
  • 2016 SkS Weekly News Roundup #1 (John Hartz)
  • 2016 SkS Weekly Digest #1 (John Hartz)

Poster of the Week

 2015 Poster 52

SkS Week in Review 

97 Hours of Consensus: Corinne Le Quéré

97 Hours: Corinne Le Quere 

Corinne Le Quéré's bio page

Quote derived from:

"The human influence on climate change is clear and dominant. The atmosphere and oceans are warming, the snow cover is shrinking, the Arctic sea ice is melting, sea level is rising, the oceans are acidifying, and some extreme events have increased. CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels need to substantial decrease to limit climate change."


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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. Appropos of the sun going the other way, - the which I am not disputing for a micro-second, I came across this you-tube talk, you will need a while to listen to it explaining why the Sun is not a ball of burning gases, I would appreciate any comment from anyone on it.

    "The Sun is not a hot ball of gas - it is condensed matter. Professor Pierre-Marie Robitaille on the Liquid Metallic Hydrogen Sun:

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  2. GeoffThomas @1, without wasting my time on a full hour of 'solar denier' pseudoscience, I draw your attention to 5:52 of the video where Robitaille says, as his first knock down argument that the Sun is not a gas, that "gas cannot give us a continuous spectrum".  Of course, he is wrong.  Ionized gas, aka, 'plasma' can give a continuous spectrum, as in this example from a sulphur plasma lamp:

    Except for small quantities near the surface areas, all the gas in the Sun is, of course a plasma.

    Not only is it the case that plasmas glow with a continuous spectrum, but because their component parts are charged, the acceleration of charged particles cause light to be emitted, and the particles in a plasma accelerate and de-accelerate based on collisions in a thermal gas, they must glow in a continuous spectrum.  It is only when in a bound state that quantum energy levels restrict emissions to discrete spectra.  

    Evidently Robitaille builds his evidence based on his limited knowledge within his specialty without bothering to check his strong claims in areas he is unfamiliar with.  Apparently that cavalier attitude to facts has also helped him in propogating his theory that the Cosmic Background Radiation "...are actually observations of a glow from Earth's oceans".

    It occurs to me you may not be happy with this abrupt dismissal of Robitaille.  Fine.  Do your homework.  Summarize the key points of his argument for yourself instead of rellying on others.  Link to easilly accessed presentations of his theories (by which I mean papers - videos are massively time wasting and Robitaille's presentation style makes his more time wasting than most).  And then raise your points.  But don't just post a link with a question, which in addition to being time wasting for others, is forbidden in the SkS comments policy.

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  3. Hi Tom, thankyou for your reply, it did not occur to me that Robitaille would have not checked what is a central pillar in his presentation.

    Yes his presentation is not very crisp and succinct, on the other hand it is a pretty radical thing had he been correct.

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  4. GeoffThomas - The more radical the notion, the larger the burden of proof required, it's asymmetric. Because that radical notion has to have sufficient proof to overturn _all_ the evidence proceeding it.

    Radical notions require extra evaluation and care before acceptance.

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  5. GeoffThomas @3, glad I could help.

    The problem with radical ideas in science is, particularly from non-experts, is that they typically are based on the presumption that hundreds of scientists have neglected something very basic and obvious.  Nearly always that idea can only be sustained either by getting something basic and obvious wrong, or by completely misunderstanding the standard theory.  That is because scientists tend to be quite bright, and are very critical of each others theories so that if something really basic is wrong with a theory, it will be picked up very quickly (often before publication).

    I am not sure I agree with the dictum that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" that KR has paraphrased.  What counts as an extraordinary claim very much depends on your basic world view, and what theories you currently accept.  The dictum is consequently unuseful between people with radically different world views, and too conservative in any event.  But certainly radical claims in science need to explain at least as much of the evidence as the standard theory they attempt to replace.  Therefore any presentation of radical theories to the public should first detail the standard theory and why it does so well, before going on to show that this new theory has a hope of doing better.  If the presenter cannot do that, then almost certainly they do not understand the full range of evidence, and/or the standard theory and can be dismissed.  Indeed, even the act of going to the (being generous) relatively misinformed public rather than seeking evaluation be experts by peer reviewed publication is itself suspect.  I view it as a vote of noconfidence in their own ideas by the pseudoexperts that take that route.

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  6. I had a career as an aeronautical research scientist. Imagine my surprise in eventually learning that science at large did not accept until recently that the combustion of fossil fuels to supply energy had the unintended consequences of producuing the vast amounts of greenhouse gases that have contibuted to climate disruption and ocean acidification and warming.

    This type of failing of scientists has been common for centuries but the lack of understanding of the deleterious consequences of using fossil fuels must go down as the most influential to date. However, the current failure to understand that that technological systems are irreversibly using up limited natural material resoures, including the fossil fuels, will hit hard in the future, as it is an unsustainable process.

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