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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #52

Posted on 30 December 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... SkS in the News... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 

Story of the Week...

2018 Was A Milestone Year For Climate Science (If Not Politics) 

Hurricane Michael Impact on Mexico Beach Florida 

The devastation from Hurricane Michael over Mexico Beach, Fla. A massive federal report released in November warns that climate change is fueling extreme weather disasters like hurricanes and wildfires. Gerald Herbert/AP

2018 was a hot year — in fact, the fourth warmest on record. The only years that were, on average, warmer were the past three, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

It has been warming for decades now. But 2018 brought several major new and markedly more precise reports from scientists about what climate change is doing to the weather and how dire they expect the consequences to be.

That didn't stop President Trump and others from continuing to question the evidence.

"Is there climate change?" Trump said to reporters from Axios on HBO in November. "Yeah. Will it go back like this?" he added, motioning up and down with his hand. "I mean will it change back? Probably. That's what I think."

Another politician who weighed in on the clear evidence of a warmer planet was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, when he was campaigning this past fall.

"Well, listen," he assured a moderator at a televised debate. "Of course the climate is changing. The climate has been changing from the dawn of time. The climate will change as long as we have a planet Earth."

Both statements are at odds with the consensus within the climate science community.

2018 Was A Milestone Year For Climate Science (If Not Politics) by Christopher Joyce NPR News, Dec 27, 2018

Editorial of the Week...

Opinion: Our house is on fire, and many Albertans want more lighters

Calgary Flooding

Do we want to save the planet or get rich and watch it die? POSTMEDIA

It boils down to this. 1) Albertans have become very wealthy by exporting fossil fuels. 2) Scientists state that the climate crisis is an existential threat to civilization. 3) The only way to minimize catastrophic climate change is to immediately decrease our fossil fuel use as quickly as possible. 4) 3 threatens 1.

Let’s unpack some of this, shall we? 1) Due to geographical fortune, our province sits on a vast reservoir of fossil fuels: coal, natural gas and oil. With their high energy content and transportability, they have been highly desired for (historically) a much higher value than their extraction cost, which has made us extraordinarily rich. Even now, in the downturn, even as many people are hurting financially, we still have the highest average monthly income in Canada. Being rich is fun, and we don’t want it to end.

The problem is Point 2. As time passes, and we put more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it’s becoming increasingly clear that all that we love is at risk. Our ecosystems, food systems, economic systems, life support systems. Scientists are talking about a doomsday scenario where it all just collapses, within our lifetimes, if we don’t act now.

Opinion: Our house is on fire, and many Albertans want more lighters, Opinion by Joe Vipond & Noel Keough, Calgary Herald, Dec 29, 2018

Joe Vipond is an emergency physician in Calgary. He sits on the board of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Noel Keough is an associate professor of sustainable design at the University of Calgary. He is the president of the board of Sustainable Calgary Society. 

Toon of the Week...

2018 Toon 52

Hat tip to the Clean Air Cartoons Facebook page.

SkS in the News

The "explainer" article*, 9 questions about climate change you were too embarrassed to ask, contains the following paragraph:

4) There are other human fingerprints that suggest increased greenhouse gases are warming the planet. For instance, back in the 1960s, simple climate models predicted that global warming caused by more carbon dioxide would lead to cooling in the upper atmosphere (because the heat is getting trapped at the surface). Later satellite measurements confirmed exactly that. Here are a few other similar predictions that have also been confirmed.

The first link embedded in the above paragraph is to the SkS article, 10 Indicators of a Human Fingerprint on Climate Change by John Cook, July 30, 2018

* This explainer was updated by Umair Irfan in December 2018 and draws heavily from a card stack written by Brad Plumer in 2015. Brian Resnick contributed the section on the Paris climate accord in 2017. 

Coming Soon on SkS...

  • 2018 in Review: a recap of the Skeptical Science year (Baerbel)
  • Portuguese translation of The Debunking Handbook (Baerbel)
  • Climate negotiations made me terrified for our future (Climate Adam)
  • New findings on ocean warming: 5 questions answered (Scott Denning)
  • New research this week (Ari)
  • 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #1 (John Hartz)
  • 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #1 (John Hartz)

Poster of the Week...

 2018 Poster 52

SkS Week in Review... 

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. Regarding the Editorial of the Week: "Opinion: Our house is on fire, and many Albertans want more lighters".

    In addition to the obvious points made in the article about natural disaster consequences of climate change impacting Alberta, the fresh water supply from glaciers immediately west of Alberta is also threatened. This CBC News item is one of many on a recent report. "80% of mountain glaciers in Alberta, B.C. and Yukon will disappear within 50 years: report".

    As a long time resident of Alberta I can confirm that the authors of the Opinion piece are correct about the potential level of dislike they may face for presenting this understanding.

    In Alberta, politicians who support LGBTQ rights have received death threats. Exposing the way that climate science has proven the unacceptability of the way people try to get rich or enjoy their life is even more threatening in Alberta than standing up for the acceptance of, and fair and decent treatment of, LGBTQ people.

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  2. Alberta is an oil and gas company store, even if it wasn't for climate change the cost to Albertans from this one sector is massive.

    Albertans are already responsible for billions of dollars in costs for abandoned oil wells.

    Albertans may face $8B bill for orphan wells unless rules change, lawyer says


    And the overall cost of cleaning up the oil and gas sector there is in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Cleaning up Alberta’s oilpatch could cost $260 billion, internal documents warn


    But that pales to the potential costs of catastrophic climate change which have already been massive.

    In 2013 Alberta experienced record floods in the south that claimed lives and cost and estimate $5 billion.

    An April, 2016 heat wave and drought in north central Alberta created the perfect conditions for May firestorms that burned down Fort McMurray and cost an estimated $9 billion.

    There is no prosperity from oil and gas in Alberta even before we look at climate change who's costs are already becoming incredible. And yet far too many Albertans demand the worst not best course to take rallying for more pipelines to keep the bitumen flowing and some threatening the life of the new Premier who seemed poised to challenge the death grip oil and gas has on Alberta.

    Pro-pipeline rally draws 1,000 attendees in Alberta town of about 6,600


    A wake-up call': Documents detail litany of threats against Premier Rachel Notley


    The fact that Rachel Notley is doing nothing to address this existential issue may be down to the violence threatened against her by those who clearly lack any sense of responsibilty and collective interests.

    Energy or social policy as expressed now in Alberta at the highest level has no place in a sane or civil society.

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  3. Alberta appear to rely on fossil fuel exports, but they have vast metals based mineral wealth, mostly unexploited, so its not as if they have to rely on fossil fuels. I would have more sympathy for countries whos only natural resource is fossil fuels.

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  4. nigelj @3

    Also large stands of timber that can be utilized for lumber and other products. Unfortunately much of that will be destroyed by pine bettle infestations that are no longer controlled by very cold Canadian winters that no longer exist.

    And the tar sands themselves contain large amounts of thorium and uranium, Alberta would be far better off investing in Gen IV molten salt reactors in the slow and fast spectrum which would provide centuries of energy at current demand from the tar sands alone.

    It's not the lack of options that prevents real change in Alberta, it is the total lack of willingness of private and public sector policymakers who lack any independence from the oil and gas sector.

    Rachel Notley only got elected to office after decades of Conservative rule because of how arrogant they had become. It was revealed that billions of dollars in royalties had been lost due to Conservative government mismanagement over years in Alberta.

    Royalty Miscalculation Cost Alberta Billions, Expert Says


    And as a response to this huge boondoggle the Conservative running for Premier told the people of Alberta that they should blame themselves for this loss.

    Prentice says Albertans must 'look in the mirror' for the province's financial crunch


    The way the oil and gas sector perpetually screws Albertans which will eventually leave the entire province broke and likely a wasteland you'd think there would be a revolution there. But the opposite is happening, people getting behind the oil and gas lobby like it offers some kind of salvation.

    Totally irrational.

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