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2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #26

Posted on 1 July 2017 by John Hartz

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

Editor's Pick

Mission 2020: A new global strategy to ‘rapidly’ reduce carbon emissions

Carbon Crunch from Figueres et al 2017

Figure from Figueres et al. (2017)

In April, a new global initiative called Mission 2020 was launched by Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who oversaw the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change in late 2015.

The aim of Mission 2020 is to bring “new urgency” to the “global climate conversation” with a call to begin “rapidly declining” global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Today, in a co-authored commentary published in the journal Nature, Figueres sets out further details about Mission 2020’s six central calls to action. The commentary is endorsed by 61 signatories, which include climate scientists as well as a range of NGO, religious, political and business leaders. 

Mission 2020: A new global strategy to ‘rapidly’ reduce carbon emissions by Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief, June 28, 2017 

Links posted on Facebook

Sun June 25 2017

Mon June 26 2017

Tue June 27 2017

Wed June 28 2017

Thu June 29 2017

Fri June 30 2017

Sat July 1 2017

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Comments 1 to 13:

  1. I recently ran across a very exciting paper purporting to describe a new technique which appears to have the enormous potential.

     This paper is about a technique to remove very large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere very quickly and in a cost-effective way. It describes a way to accelerate the natural process of CO2 sequestration - natural rock weathering. Simply put, it gives evidence that by grinding olivine rocks into a powder, and spreading that powder along river basins, we can quickly sequester enough CO2 to lower atmospheric concentrations back to safe levels while simultaneously addressing ocean acidity issues.

    This paper seems legitimate to me, although I am not scientifically-qualified to judge it properly. What do you all think? :


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    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Shortened link.

  2. Gingerbaker,

    The proposal to use olivine to soak up CO2 has been aroud for a while.  Here is a more recent summary of some issues relating to the proposal.  I doubt that the readership of SkS has a consensus on proposals of this type, but I think that it is generally good to look at any possibilities that might help deal with carbon pollution.  

    Most Geoengineering proposals fall over because the amount of CO2 that is emitted is so immense that it is not practical to mine the amount of olivine necessary [or other geoengineering method] to have a significannt effect.  

    A kilogram of olivine is needed to absorb a kilogram of CO2.  The fossil fuel industry is one of the largest industries in the world.  Approximately 30 Gigatons of CO2 are emitted per year.  That is a lot to mine.  You make no money spreading olivine so it must be paid for from general taxes.  Olivine contains some toxic metals that are released as it binds the CO2.  Olivine might help but it is not a magic bullet to cure AGW.

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  3. T-man (or his chief denier - EPA destroyer - Pruitt) has just invented new nonsense called "red team-blue team" whose job is to question climate sicence. Whatever that silly "team building excercise" may exactly bring, no one has any idea as they did not said any specifics. Remarkable is the fact that all WH officials talk about it in the condition of anonymity - surely if you want to be at least a bit honnest about that silly excercise, you rick being fired from your post. One anonymous EPA official ventured to characterise that excercise accurately:

    "But of course, we already have a process for scrutiny of the science - the peer review process is a much more robust assessment of scientific integrity than a childish colour war."

    Thank you, Mr Anonymous, you took it from my mouth.

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  4. chriskoz @3, Eli rabbet has an excellent discussion of this concept, including a discussion of how the proceedure worked in a past instance in a non-climate related field.  The upshot is that in past examples, administrations have used this concept as a cover to appoint panels of ideologically driven "experts" who are then used to drive policy in complete disregard to the actual evidence.

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  5. chriskoz@3: I thought of an analogy to what Pruitt is doing with his 'red team-blue team' nonsense: 

    "Magic mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?"

    "Queen Coal, you are fairest here in town, but Princess Green's beauty is now renown."

    "Magic chamber pot so true, perhaps I should be asking you?"

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  6. Trump and Pruit will be burning climate science text books next. People come up with convoluted analysis of Trump's ideas and policies, but just apply occams razor and you are left with pure idiocy.

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  7. Sorry if this is not the right place to ask this. A recent WaPo article by Chris Mooney ( discusses a recent PNAS paper by Christopher Clack and 20 other scientists that take Mark Jacobson to task on his water-wind-solar 100% energy generation by 2055. Do you have anyone who can do a post on this debate that can evaluate the arguments in detail? 

    Jacobson's papers always seemed too optimistic to me, but I can't properly evaluate the details of the arguments. It seems to me that the outcomeof this debate is immensely important for the credibility of the renewable energy community as it tries to influence the course of US/world energy decarbonization.

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  8. tcflood @7

    I havent read any of the research, but the articles above are good commentary on the Jacobsen versus Clack debate. 

    They have now also engaged in a heated and detailed internet exchange of criticisms of each others work. It's not clear who is correct, and nobody has done to total review of their debate as yet that I'm aware of. Doing this would be a big task.

    But certain things do stand out already:

    Jacobsen proposes a 100% renewable grid. His work is very respected and detailed, and has been thoroughly checked,  so I would not be too quick to dismiss any of it. 

    Clack acknowledges a 100% renewable grid is technically possible. His real criticism is cost and practicality, and that Jacobsen has some assumptions too optimistic etc.  But Clack  accepts a need for a large renewable component anyway, and simply wants more nuclear, biofuels and carbon capture etc. This is the key point in his research.

    But people on his team have vested commercial interests in this technology.

    The main point is they both agree on a large role for renewable energy, so the debate does not undermine renewable energy in principle. Therefore theres no particular reason not to proceed. Its about the ultimate mix of things.

    I suspect that getting a grid 75% renewable grid would be easy enough, but the last 25% will get harder due to intermittency issues. It may be that for the last 20% nuclear is cheaper than a large surplus of wind power to cope with intermiitency problems, but this is just a guess on my poart. I dont particularly like nuclear and it has its own issues, but I cant absolutely rule it out either.

    But its very hard to generalise about ideal solutions because every country has different resources. My country already has over 80% renewable and we have been told getting to 100% is feasible and affordable, but we are fortunate to have a big range of renewable options. For countries with poor sunlight and not much wind, and isolated from neighbours, or not wanting to be dependent on them, what do you do? You have to consider nuclear, carbon capture, or biofuels, etc. So Clack may have a point.

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  9. Michael Sweet

    The link study addresses many of the issues listed in your review paper. 1 Kg olivine sequesters 1.25 kg Co2.  When ground up into powder, it works very fast, and also produces carbonate which will address ocean acidification. To sequester 1 year's worth of our current CO2 emissions, it would require 7 cubic kilometers worth of stone.  This would be a large operation - making olivine the 3rd largest mining product.  It would cost $250 billion a year.

    We would obviously need to stop burning carbon.  But this would be a relatively inexpensive way to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels quickly.  Quite a bargain, really.

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  10. tcflood

    1) Jacobson & Delucchi reply to Clack:

    2) Clack responds to J&D'd response:

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Link fixed. Please learn how to do this yourself in the Link tool.

  11. Gingerbaker

    Just some comments.

    • The figure of 30 billion tonnes a year. I have done a rough estimate that all mining and quarrying activity is around 100-150 billion tonnes a year, so a significant increase.
    • Then all of that needs to be crushed to reasonable fineness. Currently of that 100-150, only part of that is crushed, mainly mineral ores, so possibly doubling world crusher capacity. And crushing is energy intensive. So a substantial expansion. Obviously all this would need to be powered from renewable sources.

    So all in all a huge undertaking.

    Next, I would want to see a lot more research into consequences in the oceans, that paper is rather light on that topic but it may be the make or break issue. Although they are right about the basic chemistry there is a lot of scope for unintended consequences for the biosphere in the ocean.

    Imagine we have spread a couple of 100 billion tonnes, then we discover some unexpected bad consequence in the oceans. Once the dust is scattered that is one very hard Genie to put back ino that bottle.

    So I think this idea needs to be explored very strongly, but it is very preliminary at this stage.

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  12. About Olivine. 
    Indeed there is NO silver bullet. So we need to reduce CO2 emissions, but also remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
    -1- So solely counteracting all of the global CO2 emissions with solely olivine is not a good idea.
    -2- There is more and more research available. See i.e. this open access article from Francesc Montserrat (and myself ;-) )

    Best regards,

    Pol Knops

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  13. tcflood @7, nigelj @8, gingerbaker @10:

    Here is an interesting pass at evaluating the debate that also has useful references/links within.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Fixed link. Pleas learn how to do this yourself with the link tool in the comment editor.

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