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2016 SkS Weekly News Roundup #28

Posted on 9 July 2016 by John Hartz

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

Sun July 3, 2016

Mon July 4, 2016

Tue July 5, 2016

Wed July 6, 2016

Thu July 7, 2016

Fri July 8, 2016

Sat July 9, 2016

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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. Here is one from today at the ABC:

    "'Shocking images' reveal death of 10,000 hectares of mangroves across Northern Australia

    By the National Reporting Team's Kate Wild


    Close to 10,000 hectares of mangroves have died across a stretch of coastline reaching from Queensland to the Northern Territory.

    Key points:

    A mangrove expert says it is the most extreme "dieback" he has ever seen
    The mangrove death occurred across a 700km stretch of NT and QLD
    An expert believes it is linked to climate change
    International mangroves expert Dr Norm Duke said he had no doubt the "dieback" was related to climate change.

    "It's a world-first in terms of the scale of mangrove that have died," he told the ABC.


    The link to climate change is a probable cause in either a short wet season and/or very high sea surface temperatures which are related to the recent El Nino, but which have been significantly enhanced in strength due to global warming.  Sufficiently so that the SSTs are unprecedented, as is the dieback.

    No doubt this will result in the usual argument as to how do you attribute events to climate change.  One method takes the total AGW warming todate as a percentage of the SST anomaly - a method that will attribute less than 50% of the event to AGW.  That method misses the point, however, that the probability of such a warm SST absent AGW is very slight.  Without doing the maths I cannot say how slight.  The attribution, however, would then be based in the difference between the probability of such an event absent AGW, and the probability with AGW.  In the case of unprecedented events such as this, that is by far the more informative method (although both methods are valid, but measure different things).

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  2. If we aren't allowed to discuss politics, shouldn't the articles about the lies and half-step climate shuffles politicians of all parties are telling to voters be eliminated, or at the least exposed for the inadequacies they represent?  Currently this only seems to being done on a partisan basis which leads to the impression that only one party is inadequate in addressing the issue of climate change seriously. We here, know that this is at best, a half truth implied disingenuously.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Given the myriad of topics addressed in this weekly listeing of 50 plus articles, the comment threads for Weekly News Roundups are considered to be "open threads." If you wish to discuss politics related to climate change on this thread, you are welcome to do so — as long as your comments comport to the SkS Comments Policy. 

  3. My "thumbs up" was for your response, not my post.

    I am just concerned that with many of the largely approving tone to some of the Democratic candidate articles being posted, where the candidates are proposing half-step, drag your feet proposals that won't even majorly slow national anthropogenic emissions, much less global emissions. We run the risk of fooling those whose understanding and interest in climate change, that SKS supports the idea that one Political Party is composed of "All-in Climate Hawks" while the other party is made up of evil "Deniers." Truthfully, there is much more nuance and mixture within both parties. In fact, the largest obstacle for climatehawk Democratic law-makers and activists come from the centrist (right-leaning) fiscally conservative, socially liberal subsection of the party focussed in the NE and DC metropolitan corridors, not the party on the other side of the aisle. More to the point, replacing centerist (left-leaning) fiscally moderate, socially conservative Republican law makers, with more of the fiscally conservative socially liberal Democratic law makers is a net-zero gain for addressing climate change issues.

    We need to be more about building and featuring articles about local and regional climate activists/movements and public climate policy leaders regardless of party, and less time promoting articles about the differences between national party and political figures who are unlikely to be able, or willing, to act significantly and substantively to address climate change issues.   

    Democratic leaders deserve no less coverage regarding their half-stepping and foot-dragging than Republican leaders regardless of their lip service toward or against climate science and the issues that face our planet's inhabitants.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] SkS, founded by an Australian, is international in scope and following. Each day, I sift and winnow through a variety of sources for informative articles from throughout the world for posting links to on the SkS Facebook page. I post the links at three hour intervals 24/7. That's the best I can do given the amount of time that I am able to devote to SkS matters.  


    [PS] The comments policy prohibition on politics is largely there to prevent threads descending into political/ideological arguments with little or no science. There are plenty of other sites where robust political discussion (preferably with people from the same country) are welcome.

    However, one point is well-made. It is my belief, (and I am a moderator, not owner of the site) that no endorsement of any party in any country is intended. Calling out politicians of any persuasion for promoting climate myths is however very much fair game. Dont be surprised however if commentators who rate climate action highly prefer parties whose platform position is to mitigate climate change over other parties who deny there is a problem to solve.

    Sks is also not really a climate activist site so much as a resource for debunking climate myths. Other sites do activism better.

  4. Trakar, of the articles listed above, I only find one that directly addresses US policies.  That article applauds Hilary Clinton for adopting a more ambitious policy than Barak Obama (something that is not obvious to me), but strongly criticizes her for not pursuing a price on carbon.  The ony positive point made for Clinton's policy in that regard is that it avoids the need for congressional approval.

    With regard to that, an early June vote by the House of Representatives to condemn carbon taxes shows the nature of the barrier.  The vote was 237-163 against carbon taxes, with just six Democrats voting with the majority, and no Republicans voting with the minority.  Given that currently Republicans hold 246 to the Democrats 188 seats, even if all Democrats had voted against the resolution, they could not have voted down the 231 Repubiclans who voted for it.  From that we can determine that of the 188 Democrats, 86.7% voted against the resolution, 10.1% abstained (or were absent), and only 3.2% voted against the measure.  Of the 246 Republicans, 93.9% voted against the measure, while 6.1% abstained (or were absent).   Those numbers refute categorically your claim that "the largest obstacle for climatehawk Democratic law-makers and activists come from the centrist (right-leaning) fiscally conservative, socially liberal subsection of the party focussed in the NE and DC metropolitan corridors, not the party on the other side of the aisle".

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  5. Trakar @ 3

    This web sites comments policy says basically "no politics", as this is presumably to avoid technical issues descending into rants about ideology or politics, and this is good policy. However we have to use a bit of commonsense. I take the approach that if the article is political in nature, (like the attacks on science article)  then obviously at that point it's ok to post political responses, provided they are measured comments and not a rant or inflammatory. We are not living in a vacuum.

    The reason for articles on republican and democrat attitudes to climate change is probably because ultimately only legislation can really deal with the climate problem. Regional and individual initiative is also important, but unlikely to be sufficient. It's pretty obvious this website supports mitigation through some sort of legislative action, and they are entitled to that view. I have read one or two articles on regional and individual initiatives, so I think the website is reasonably balanced. Of course more articles like that would be interesting and useful.

    And lets face facts, republicans and democrats are poles apart on climate change. The republicans are pretty much in denial about climate change as a whole. This appears to be widespread within their party and almost an article of faith.

    The democrats accept theres a problem, and I do agree they are not particularly strong on solutions or have some internal divisions. However the parties are fundamentally pretty different, and there is little nuance or grey area between the parties as a whole, so articles do tend to reflect this.

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  6. In Australia we have just elected the right wing coalition government (sometimes called coal-ition) under Malcolm Turnbull who scraped in with a majority of 1. So we have the party with the least ambitious targets for emissions reductions (26-28% by 2030) when what we really need are the most ambitious targets and action to suit. In the election they didn’t even present a renewable energy target beyond the existing 23% by 2020, whereas the main opposition party had a target of 50% by 2030.
    However there is one positive with Turnbull compared to the previous Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Abbott has said in an interview ‘climate change is crap’ (admittedly a few years ago) and when he agreed to the above targets for Paris you had the feeling that he would then pretty much ignore them and continue with his support for fossil fuels (“coal is good for humanity” being his most famous quote). The good thing with Turnbull is it is clear that he believes in action on climate change. He has said (in 2010) "We can move, as we must move if we are to effectively combat climate change, to a situation where all or almost all of our energy comes from zero or very near zero emission sources." Abbott was extremely unpopular and was rolled by Turnbull in late 2015, just before Paris. A condition placed on Turnbull to get support within the party was that he not change the Paris targets or other (weak) climate changes policies. At least with Turnbull you have the feeling (or hope) that he will push for those targets to actually be achieved.
    Here is a link to a 30 sec video of Turnbull making the above statement. It was back in 2010, when he launched Beyond Zero Emissions' plan for 100% renewable stationary energy.

    Turnbull supporting climate action


    (note: on this page, scroll down to access the video)

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