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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #52

Posted on 27 December 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Graphic of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

The Resistance: In the President’s Relentless War on Climate Science, They Fought Back

The scientists' efforts were often unseen and sometimes unsuccessful. But over four years, they mounted a guerilla defense that kept pressure on the Trump Administration.


Every time the word “climate” was deleted from the name of his program at the Environmental Protection Agency, Dan Costa stuck it back in.

Chris Frey fought back in the unlikely setting of a hotel conference room, where he and 20 other members of an EPA science review panel dismissed by the Trump administration met to do their job anyway, later publishing their views in a prestigious medical journal.

And as Jeff Alson was walking out the door of the EPA in frustration after a 40-year career at the agency, he gave pep talks to the younger engineers about why they had to stay on.

“I told them what I’m going to do for you is go out and tell the truth, so that the public knows that this rollback is not being done by EPA staff, it is being done by other people in the government,” Alson said. 

These are snapshots of the resistance. Although their names are little known and their efforts often went unseen, they defied the relentless campaign President Donald Trump and his administration waged against mainstream science during the four years of his presidency—particularly the scientific consensus on climate change.

The outcome of this war is yet to be written. Trump has rolled back more than 100 environmental regulations, loosening restrictions on fossil fuel development when the science points ever more urgently to the need to stop the reliance on energy sources that produce greenhouse gas emissions. In California earlier this year, the president summarized his administration’s attitude toward scientific expertise: “I don’t think the science knows,” he said, as the state’s worst wildfire season on record raged all around him.

But the Trump administration’s drive to dismiss and deny climate science has made only partial headway. In what may be a sign of the robustness of both the science and the U.S. institutions that support it, scientists inside and outside the federal agencies fought back.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the InsideClimate News website.

The Resistance: In the President’s Relentless War on Climate Science, They Fought Back by Marianne Lavelle, Science, InsideClimate News, Dec 27, 2020

Editorial of the Week...

Climate crisis: I used to mull when to have children. Now I ask if I should I have them.

Reliable COVID vaccines spark optimism about 2021 and beyond. There is no vaccine for the climate crisis, but we must create a similar promising future.

Dr. Tummala Neelima 

Dr. Neelu Tummala on Nov 22, 2019, Washington, DC Olivia Anderson

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about whether public health agencies should advise women to postpone pregnancy because of potential virus-related risks. Not surprisingly, there are multiple ethical considerations to such recommendations, with reproduction ultimately being a very personal and private decision. One important factor is the control many women (although admittedly not all) are able to exercise in choosing their risk exposure to the coronavirus. That is a stark contrast to the risks associated with the climate crisis, where the very air women breathe and the heat waves they are exposed to increase pregnancy-related complications.

A recent study reveals that roughly 25% of childless adults consider climate change in their decision not to have children. Over the past 20 years of my own life, my thoughts toward starting a family have always revolved around timing. When is the right time for me? It wasn’t the carefree years of college, the studious years of medical school or the overworked years of residency. Now, as I continue to look forward, the question of when is accompanied by a previously unthinkable thought: Should I?

Climate crisis: I used to mull when to have children. Now I ask if I should I have them., Opinion by Dr. Neelu Tummala, USA Today, Dec 22, 2020

Toon of the Week...

2020 Toon 52 

Hat tip to the Stop Climate Science Denial Facebook page.

Graphic of the Week...

Climate Action Tracker Thermometer as of Dec 2020

Climate Action Tracker thermometer, as of December 2020. Temperatures shown are the average (50%) outcome and uncertainty range. Source: CAT Global Update December 2020

UNEP: Net-zero pledges provide an ‘opening’ to close growing emissions ‘gap’ by Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief, Dec 9, 2020

Coming Soon on SkS...

  • Coping with fire-scorched land more prone to mudslides (Daisy Simmons)
  • SkS Review 2020 (Baerbel)
  • SkS New Research for Week #52 (Doug Bostrom)
  • Nitrogen fertiliser use could ‘threaten global climate goals’ (Daisy Dunne)
  • How human activity threatens the world’s carbon-rich peatlands (Prof. Angela Gallego-Sala & Dr. Julie Loisel)
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #1 (John Hartz)
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #1 (John Hartz)

Climate Feedback Claim Review...

Video advertising “Powersave” device is misleading and makes impossible home power savings claims

CLAIM:  A young whizkid [...] invented a device that cuts 50% off an average home’s power bill

VERDICT: Inaccurate

SOURCE: HOVERH, 16 Dec. 2020  

KEY TAKE AWAY: This video misrepresents the people shown, falsely claiming to show the inventor of the device being advertised. That device is incapable of reducing electric bills by 50%, as claimed—or indeed by any amount. 

Video advertising “Powersave” device is misleading and makes impossible home power savings claims, Edited by Scott Johnson, Claim Review, Climate Feedback, Dec 27, 2020

SkS Week in Review... 

Poster of the Week...

 2020 Poster 52

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Comments 1 to 1:

  1. As it is the New Year today, perhaps there is room for some lighter revue.

    Yes, the Covid-19 situation is dire, but at least we have hopes that some moral and intellectual sanity will be gaining strength from later this month in the District of Columbia.

    And even in the darkest times of 2020, there was always the Bedlam entertainment regularly found on the WattsUpWithThat  blogsite.  

    I am a reader of WUWT  (a blog which, to avoid nausea, is best digested in tiny amounts per day . . . or, alternatively, should be skimmed through at high speed).   But for the end of 2020, I noted there was one recent article by a guest author whom I shall call "W".

    W was vexed to learn that Wikipedia described WUWT  as "a blog promoting climate change denial" [and] ... accommodating "beliefs that are in opposition to the scientific consensus".

    W was appalled at Wikipedia's failure to understand the real nature of [modern] science, and at Wikipedia's failure to appreciate how WUWT  is valuable as a place [one of the few places in the world]  "where scientific ideas of all kinds can be most critically examined and publicly peer-reviewed in a modern efficient manner".

    Now I like W ~ he is clever and at times humorous, though rather deficient in insight.  He also tends to digress off the topic.  And in this case, he digressed so far that he forgot to actually debunk Wikipedia's assertion.

    Equally entertaining, were many of the subsequent responding comments ~ as typical displaying the assertions that the formal peer-review in journals was a nefarious & malign influence on true science.  And that anything within the modern scientific consensus must automatically be wrong.  And that "the scientific societies have betrayed science".

    (These attitudes are almost universal at WUWT.   Along with the frequent assertion that AGW is not only incorrect, but is a conspiracy & hoax & stalking horse ~ for the imposition of a Communist World Government dedicated to the destruction of mankind's freedoms.)

    WUWT  is a treasure-box of beliefs that the modern rapid (yet simultaneously non-existent)  global warming is unconnected with CO2 , and is actually caused by Natural Cycles / or Cosmic Rays / or the Solar Wind / or other yet-undiscovered or unappreciated factors.   One commenter repeatedly asserts the sole influence of geothermal heat.   Another, the sole influence of tidal heat energy deriving from the presence of super-dense materials in the Earth's core, being fragmentary remnants of an ancient neutron star.

    The Wikipedia statement certainly stirred up the WUWT  denizens.   W's article brought on some 250+ comments, of which 26 were made on the first 60 minutes.   But evidently the function of WUWT  is a healthful outlet for all this denialist steam pressure.  Though it would be less tiresome if it wasn't always the flood of Usual Suspects repeating the usual intellectual insanity.

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