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Climate Hustle

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

Posted on 8 April 2018 by John Hartz

Opinion of the Week... Opinion of the Week... Toon of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

Solar geoengineering ‘too uncertain to go ahead yet’

The world must urgently agree controls on solar geoengineering to weigh up its possible risks and benefits before deciding to go ahead, one expert says.

Solar Geoengineering Brightening Marine Clouds

Brightening marine clouds is one suggested solar geoengineering approach. Image: By Ron Reeves, US Navy, via Wikimedia Commons

Progress to deploy solar engineering, experimental technology designed to protect the world against the impact of the changing climate, must pause, a former United Nations climate expert says, arguing that governments need to create “effective guardrails” against any unforeseen risks.

Janos Pasztor, who served as a UN assistant secretary-general on climate change, is using a speech to Arizona State University, broadast via Facebook Live by ASU LightWorks, 6:30-8pm Arizona time (9:30pm EDT – US Eastern Daylight Time) today, to warn the world that governments are largely ignoring the fundamental question of who should control geoengineering, and how.

There are widespread misgivings, both among scientists and more widely, about geoengineering, with many regarding it as at best a strategy of last resort to help to avoid calamitous climate change.

Mr Pasztor’s warning comes as researchers prepare for what is thought to be the world’s first outdoor experiment on stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), one type of solar geoengineering. The test is due to take place later this year over Arizona.

Pasztor heads the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative(C2G2),  an initiative of the New York-based Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. The Initiative wants solar geoengineering deployment to be delayed until the risks and potential benefits are better known and governance frameworks are agreed.

Solar geoengineering ‘too uncertain to go ahead yet’ by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, Apr 6, 2018 

Opinion of the Week...

Coal fired power plants

A new Gallup survey shows that independent voters are less concerned about climate change than they were a year ago. In the last year, independents have become less likely to accept that global warming is happening and that humans are the cause, and less likely to perceive that there’s a scientific consensus about global warming.

In 2017, 71 percent of independent voters were aware that most scientists believe global warming is occurring; this year it’s 65 percent. There has long been a significant gap between public perception of global warming and the scientific consensus: Between 90 percent and 100 percent of climate scientists agree humans are causing global warming, with studies converging on 97-percent consensus. But surveys since 2010 offered hope that the “consensus gap” had been shrinking over the last eight years. Gallup’s new data indicates this trend has reversed. The consensus gap widened over the last year.

Independents aren’t the only ones on the move. The American public has become more polarized on climate change in the last year: Climate concern and acceptance has dropped among Republicans, and Democrats have become more accepting of climate change.

There are a few ways to account for these shifts in public opinion. One is the cues we’ve heard from our political leaders, which are a leading driver of people’s concerns and perceptions about climate change.

Trump’s Climate Change Denial Is Already Reshaping Public Opinion. Opinion by John Cook, HuffPost, Apr 3, 2018 

SkS Highlights...

Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative

C2G2 seeks to catalyze the creation of effective governance for climate geoengineering technologies by shifting the conversation from the scientific and research community to the global policy-making arena, and by encouraging a broader, society-wide discussion about the risks, potential benefits, ethical and governance challenges raised by climate geoengineering.

The C2G2 initiative is not for or against the research, testing or potential use of climate geoengineering technologies. That is a choice for society to make.

 C2G2 is an initiative of the Carniege Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Toon of the Week...

2018 Toon 14 

Quote of the Week...

Critics say the National Park Service’s editing of the report reflects unprecedented political interference in government science at the Interior Department, which oversees the park service.

Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist and dean of the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, said the deletions are “shocking from a scientific point of view, but also from a policy point of view.”

“To remove a very critical part of the scientific understanding is nothing short of political censorship and has no place in science,” he said. “Censorship of this kind is something you’d see in Russia or some totalitarian regime. It has no place in America.”

Wipeout: Human role in climate change removed from science report by Elizabeth Shogren, Reveal, Apr 2, 2018 

SkS Spotlights...

The Climate Atlas of Canada is an interactive tool for citizens, researchers, businesses, and community and political leaders to learn about climate change in Canada. It combines climate science, mapping and storytelling to bring the global issue of climate change closer to home, and is designed to inspire local, regional, and national action and solutions.

The Atlas explains what climate change is, how it affects Canada and what these changes mean in our communities.  Various aspects of climate change can be explored using maps, graphs and climate data for provinces, local regions and cities across the country. Plain-language description and analysis make climate science understandable and meaningful.  

Documentary videos, collaboratively developed with local and Indigenous knowledge holders as well as other experts, help make local sense of the global issue of climate change. These voices of lived experience provide personal perspectives that complement the climate data and help explain the reality and the meaning of climate change in Canada.

The Atlas is one of the only tools in the world that integrates interactive web design with climatology, cinema, and cartography to connect scientific data with personal experience in compelling and easy-to-use ways.

Coming Soon on SkS...

  • New resource: The Fact-Myth-Fallacy slide-deck (Baerbel, JG)
  • EPA’s war with California over fuel efficiency proves America needs a carbon tax (Dana)
  • Climate denial explained Part 1 (qwertle)
  • Scientists are marching Saturday to make politicians listen to evidence (Dana)
  • New research this week (Ari)
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #15 (John Hartz)
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Waming Digest #15 (John Hartz)

Poster of the Week...

2018 Poster 14 

Climate Feedback Reviews...

Rush Limbaugh falsely claims there is no evidence of human-caused global warming


"There isn’t yet any empirical evidence for their claim that greenhouse gases even cause temperatures to increase."




Rush LimbaughThe Rush Limbaugh Show, April 2, 2018


Factually Inaccurate: It is an unequivocal fact that Earth’s climate has warmed over the past century. Also, the conclusion that the human-caused increase of greenhouse gases is causing warming is supported by a wide range of empirical data.

Key Take Away 

Human-caused global warming is not a theoretical, future prediction—it has already occurred. Warming of the atmosphere and oceans is extensively documented, and the role of increased greenhouse gases in this warming has been determined from multiple lines of evidence.

Rush Limbaugh falsely claims there is no evidence of human-caused global warming by Scott Johnson, Climate Feedback, Apr 4, 2018

SkS Week in Review... 

97 Hours of Consensus...

Michael Oppenheimer 


Michael Oppenheimer's bio page

Quote provided by email 

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Comments 1 to 13:

  1. Rush Limbaugh is likely funded by people like the Koch brothers so he produces nonsense totally detached from reality.

    Like claiming one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded was "fake" news.

    Rush Limbaugh calls hurricane Irma fake news before fleeing in his private jet

    "May as well go ahead and announce this," he said. "I'm not going to get into details because of the security nature of things, but it turns out that we will not be able to do the program here tomorrow. ... We'll be on the air next week, folks, from parts unknown. So we'll be back on Monday. It's just that tomorrow is going to be problematic. Tomorrow it would be, I think, legally impossible for us to originate the program out of here."

    There's nowhere to flee to when the growing calamity of climate change spans the entire globe.

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  2. Proposals implying that inflicting additional geoengineering 'solutions' should be considered to be responsible mitigation or correction of

    a damaging unsustainable geoengineering activity that Global leaders (elected representatives and the wealthy winners of economic competitions) have failed to provide responsible leadership to sustainably solve or correct

    is undeniably more irresponsible pursuits of excuses for those who irresponsibly continue to try to get away with benefiting from an understood to be damaging and ultimately unsustainable activity, an activity that cannot be proven to be providing any sustainable benefit for future generations of humanity, only doing harm.

    As a Structural Engineer I am very aware of the potential for future harmful consequences of anything I design. And that awareness should be in the fore-front of any engineering thinking, especially global geoengineering. And the need to resist and even oppose the desires of people who want to profit from an activity is undeniably the primary responsibility of a responsible engineer.

    The depth of understanding to provide the required level of certainty of the results of an intentional global geoengineering activity would appear to be centuries away, if it can ever properly be developed. The intricate inter-relationships of so many things would need to be known in incredibly correct detail.

    Others will see it differently, but they are undeniably potential serious threats to the future of humanity. And the higher the level of elected office or the more wealth they have the more of a threat they should be understood to be ... if humanity having a good chance of developing a sustainable better future on this or any other amazing planet is the understood Good Objective.

    The history of damaging developments created by the pursuits of perceptions of success resulting in popular support for harmful profitable pursuits is a tragic history that needs to be learned from (it has been learned, but responsible response to that learning is resisted by many among the wealthy and powerful).

    The socioeconomic-political systems that have developed damaging results and have developed resistance to being corrected need to be significantly corrected before anyone seriously considers global geoengineering to be a potential solution to otherwise obviously avoidable future problem. And that discussion will be brief in the corrected system because such an action would be understood to be unnecessary and potentially harmful and therefore simply unacceptable regardless of its potential popular support or temporary perceptions of profitability for a sub-set of humanity.

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  3. Recommended supplemental reading on Rush Limbaugh : “Comedian Al Franken who later became a Senator, wrote a satirical book (Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations) in which he accused Limbaugh of distorting facts to serve his own political biases.[108”] “

    From wikipedia "Of Limbaugh's controversial statements and allegations they have investigated, Politifact has rated 84% as ranging from "Mostly False" to "Pants-On-Fire" (a signification for extremely false), with 5% of Limbaugh's contested statements rising to the level of "Mostly True" and 0% rated "True."[109] These debunked allegations by Limbaugh include suggestions that the existence of gorillas disproves the theory of evolution, that Ted Kennedy sent a letter to Soviet Leader Yuri Andropov seeking to undercut President Reagan, that a recent lack of hurricanes disproves climate change, and that President Obama wanted to mandate circumcision.[110][111][112][113]"

    You can't get much more badly informed and irrational thinking than this. It seems to me Limbaugh has an unusually suspicious devious mind, so falsely thinks everyone else is the same, and that everything is some sort of hoax or agenda. He can't seem to grasp mostly its just scientific discoveries, or attempts to solve very real problems that face humanity.

    Some of these talkback radio "shock Jocks" like Limbaugh know how to press peoples buttons and get attention, and thus a big audience. This can sometimes go over the edge into something obviously unhealthy. My theory is the good ratings probably convinces them the nonsense they speak is true, and leads to more of the same nonsense in a feedback effect. But good ratings dont mean everyone agrees.

    Some people worship authority figues and media people,  and believe everything they say. Its a self reinforcing  little bubble world generating complete nonsense, toxic views and conspiracy theories, one example is that "liberals" are manipulating storms so they sit over cities, to create worry about climate change to futher their "liberal agenda". People actually believe this stuff!

    The strong theory that burning fossil fuels leads to climate change goes back centuriues to the work of Svante Arrhenius, who published a research paper on the subject with pages of detailed, painstaking calculations, and also predicting CO2 emissions would cause temperatures to rise in the 20th century by about one degree. Nothing to do with liberal agendas, The UN, world socialism, Modern China, or anything like that, and before these things were even invented in most cases.

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  4. We are aleready geoengineering the planet - with GHG emissions and land use changes etc, and our confidence in the theory and resulting models is reasonably high. On face value there should be no difficulty working out the effects of geoengineering solutions that address climate change, and given that it's possible to conduct localised and time limited experiments, modelling can be far more accurately tested.     

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  5. Art Vandelay, our models on climate change are based in part on a wealth of historical data on whats been happening to the planet as a whole over extended time periods, and are good, but we are still not completely certain about climate sensitivity.

    Imho with solar geoengineering (and the like) we dont have that historical data to inform modelling, and we would be reliant mostly on theory and some localised experiment. Applying this to the whole planet would be an unknown, and a localised experiment couldn't duplicate this completely. Nobody could ever be certain what would happen globally.

    At this stage it appears solar geoengineering could have negative effects regionally, and we would be permanently reliant on it. We also run the risk of geoengineering to fix problems caused by geoengineering gone wrong, to fix problems of geoengineering gone wrong.

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  6. Art - Yes we have been geoengineering the planet for a long time so we should be able to geoengineer a solution and if that solution causes more damage we can always geoengineer away that problem and so on, and so on, and so on....

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  7. Recommended suplemental reading:

    Why Green Groups Are Split on Subsidizing Carbon Capture Technology by Richard Conniff, Yale Environment 360, Apr 9, 2018

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  8. Art Vandelay@4,

    The burning of GHGs has produced global scale climate geoengineering and large local scale water contamination and air pollution and destruction of developed ecosystems. None of that is acceptable, particularly since there is no evidence that any lasting benefit for the future of humanity has been developed specifically and exclusively as a result of people burning fossil fuels.

    To 'correctly' apply a global climate geoengineering application it would be essential to understand the intricate detail of how the impacts would affect any and all developed living ecosystems. That understanding is unlikely to ever be developed to a level of adequate certainty.

    What we can be quite certain about is that the climate change impacts from the unsustainable burning of non-renewable ancient buried hydrocarbons are unpredictably disruptive to the intricately developed inter-related life ecosystems on this planet. We can also be quite certain that rapidly curtailing the selfish pursuits of benefit form that activity are the only reliable way to develop a better future. And we can also be quite certain that global geoengineering to specifically remove CO2 from the atmosphere is an activity that can and should be developed, even if other 'cheaper and quicker' geoengineering options appear to exist.

    Sean Carroll's "The Big Picture" is a brilliant presentation of the developed understanding of reality, including the development of thinking. He includes the fact that everyone's self-interests can develop to be anything in the range from purely selfish pursuit of pleasure any way that can be gotten away with, to intense desire to dedicate effort to developing a truly better future for all life with humanity fitting is in a diversity of ways.

    The self-interested among humanity only care about what they can personally benefit from. And they often incorrectly believe/claim that advances of technology are advances of humanity.

    Those self-interested admirers of artificial and potentially unsustainable harmful developments can learn to become more concerned about sustainably developing a better future where humans fit into a robust diversity of 'real life' on this or any other amazing planet.

    And, for the sake of the future of humanity, that is the learning development that needs to be happening. And as that happens, anybody who suggests that instead of correcting harmful and unsustainable ways of living we should attempt to artificially create new impressions of 'technological success' would be laughed at and justifiably ignored, except for keeping a close watch to make sure they don't try to do something they shouldn't try to get away with.

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  9. We have mucked with the climate sufficiently already.  Even if geo-engineering did work, the expected, unexpected consequenses raise the hair on the back of my neck.  Any bright teen ager could tell the politicians exactly what they should be doing.  It is not rocket science.  But talking to politicians unless you have your cheque book with you, is a waste of time.

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  10. nigelj@5, Points taken but I was thinking along the lines of polar regional NH and during the summer months only. Obviously, it would not be necessary to geoengineer all year round, and if isolated to the northern polar region it could help to reduce polar amplification - reduce the rate of sea ice loss and weakening of the NA current etc. 'Whitening' the atmosphere globally as you say would risk undesirable climate change to parts of the world that can least afford it, but if seasonal / regional geoengineering can be done without serious side effects and help to prevent global warming beyond 1.5 degrees K while the globe transitions to clean energy.......we would be crazy not to give it serious consideration.  Another point I would make is that a small amount of geoengineering sooner rather than later would also prevent the possible need to undertake serious global climate experiments if and when global climate change catastrophe becomes a reality.   

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  11. One Planet Forever @8, With respect I'm very aware of the downsides of burning fossil fuels but at the same time I also respect the fact that fossil fuels have largely 'fueled' the Industrial and technological revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries.  For all of the negative health effects, and there are many, it's also impossible to deny the compelling data in areas of infant mortality, adult life expectancy, and global population growth during the fossil fuel epoc.  Of course now is the time to migrate to new energy sources and to walk a path to sustainability, difficult as that may be.   

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  12. Art Vandelay @10

    I understand your ideas and good logic, but even just a temporary geoengineering of the N Hemisphere its still risky. It could still have unintended consequences, and I'm not sure how you would limit solar geoengineering to just the summer months, because particles in the atmosphere normally last a couple of years I think.

    Having said that, Steven Pinker in his book Enlightenment Now does mention the idea of a mild form of solar geoengineering as a temporary thing, until renewable energy is well developed and negative emissions technology sequesters remaining atmospheric carbon.

    Pinker acknowledges we are altering the climate and that geoengineering has risks, hence his idea of a mild, temporary solution. However I'm still sceptical, because once you geoengineer it tends to remove the pressure to reduce emissions.

    However like Pinker I try to keep an open mind on things and the idea needs research. 

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  13. Art Vandelay@11,

    The beneficial advancements for humanity that have been occurring may have occurred during the same time period that burning of fossil fuels was occurring, but that does not prove that the beneficial developments were due to fossil fuel burning. In fact, it is easier to argue that any current day activity that is perceived to be beneficial but relies on fossil fuel burning has no sustainable value, it has to be given up in the near future. Every admired perception that is due to fossil fuel burning is actually of no real value.

    It can also easily be claimed that more beneficial developments would have occurred if there had been an effective global effort to correct the unsustainable and damaging pursuit of benefit from fossil fuel burning. All the talent and effort and investment that was misdirected into fossil fuel burning ventures would have been able to produce sustainable improvements for humanity. Undeniably we could have developed far more renewable energy capability and far less energy intensive ways of living if fossil fuel burning had been curtailed starting in the 1970s and been globally completely banned by now.

    So, it is likely that if fossil fuel burning had been curtailed earlier, and the Sustainable Development Goals had been the objective of all global leaders, the world would currently be a much better place that it is with far less challenge to be dealt with going forward.

    From the perspective of developing a sustainable improved future for all of humanity, the burning of fossil fuels has been Significantly Unhelpful/Harmful. And it is undeniable that the developed popularity and profitability of that activity is continuing to delay the corrections of the understandably harmful and ultimately unsustainable activities that have incorrectly developed.

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