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2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #8

Posted on 21 February 2021 by John Hartz

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

Story of the Week...

‘Absolutely ridiculous’: top scientist slams UK government over coalmine

Exclusive: Prof Sir Robert Watson says backing of Cumbrian mine refutes claims of climate leadership

Sir Robert Watson

Prof Sir Robert Watson has led the UN’s scientific organisations for climate and biodiversity. Photograph: Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP/Getty Images

One of the UK’s most eminent environmental scientists has called the government’s failure to block a new coalmine in Cumbria “absolutely ridiculous”.

Prof Sir Robert Watson said the UK’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 to tackle the climate crisis was “wonderful”, but that there had to be a focus on immediate actions. The UK is hosting a UN climate summit, Cop26, in November and Boris Johnson has pledged to lead a green industrial revolution

“The British government says, ‘We’re going to lead Cop26 in Glasgow, we really care about climate change. But, by the way, we won’t override the council in Cumbria, and we’ll have a new coalmine.’ Absolutely ridiculous!” Watson said. “You get these wonderful statements by governments and then they have an action that goes completely against it.”

Watson has led the UN’s scientific organisations for climate and biodiversity, is a former chief scientific adviser at the UK’s environment department and worked for Bill Clinton when he was US president. He has also held senior positions at Nasa and the World Bank.

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on The Guardian website.

‘Absolutely ridiculous’: top scientist slams UK government over coalmine by Damian Carrington, Environment, The Guardian, Feb 20, 2021

Editorial of the Week...

Texas freeze shows a chilling truth – how the rich use climate change to divide us

The Lone Star State is aptly named. If you’re not part of the Republican oil elite with Cruz and Abbott, you’re on your own

 US Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Ted Cruz sports a Texas flag face mask – at Cancún airport in Mexico. Photograph: Dan Christian Rojas/AP 

Texas has long represented a wild west individualism that elevates personal freedom – this week, the freedom to freeze – above all else.

The state’s prevailing social Darwinism was expressed most succinctly by the mayor of Colorado City, who accused his constituents – trapped in near sub-zero temperatures and complaining about lack of heat, electricity and drinkable water – of being the “lazy” products of a “socialist government”, adding “I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!” and predicting “only the strong will survive and the weak will perish”.

Texas has the third-highest number of billionaires in America, most of them oil tycoons. Last week, the laissez-faire state energy market delivered a bonanza to oil and gas producers that managed to keep production going during the freeze. It was “like hitting the jackpot”, boasted the president of Comstock Resources on an earnings call. Jerry Jones, billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, holds a majority of Comstock’s shares.

But most other Texans were marooned. Some did perish.

Click here to access the entire opinion piece as originally published on The Guardian website. 

Texas freeze shows a chilling truth – how the rich use climate change to divide us, Opinion by Robert Reich, Comment is Free, The Guardian, Feb 21, 2021

Toon of the Week...

 2021 Toon 8

Hat tip to the Stop Climate Science Denial Facebook page.

Coming Soon on SkS...

  • Hurricanes, wildfires, and heat dominated U.S. weather in 2020 (Bob Henson)
  • The internet's big carbon footprint need not doom the climate (Samantha Harrington)
  • SkS New Research for Week #8 (Doug Bostrom)
  • The Climate Lesson from Texas’ Frozen Power Outages (Dana)
  • John Hartz selected re-post
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #9 (John Hartz)
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #9 (John Hartz)

Climate Feedback Claim Review...

Viral photo of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine is from Sweden, not Texas; current power outages in Texas are due to multiple fuel types going offline

CLAIM: Helicopters are using chemicals made from fossil fuels to defrost wind turbines; frosted wind turbines are responsible for blackouts in Texas; “the reason your power is/was out is wind energy's fault.”

VERDICT: Inaccurate

SOURCE:  , 16 Feb 2021

KEY TAKE AWAY: Texas is experiencing extremely cold temperatures due to a current winter storm, causing millions of households to lose power. These power outages are due to multiple fuel types going offline, primarily natural gas. While helicopters can use hot water to de-ice wind turbines, the image in the viral posts is from 2014 of a wind turbine in Sweden. There is no evidence that suggests helicopters are currently using chemicals to de-ice wind turbines in Texas. 

Viral photo of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine is from Sweden, not Texas; current power outages in Texas are due to multiple fuel types going offline by Nikki Forrester, Claim Reviews, Climate Feedback, Feb 17, 2021

SkS Week in Review... 

Poster of the Week...

 2021 Poster 8

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. The above article by Robert Reich is awfully political. Since when did SkepSci post stuff that goes after the Rich? Is it scientific to defecate on the oil company owners while lamenting the plight of "ordinary" Texans? Is Reich's rant subject to any peer review? I'm pretty sure most of those Texans, in trouble, are climate deniers and are just "getting what's coming to them" for their ignorance of the problems in the climate. Texas is a heavy Red State, they could use some climate education, but less climate politics.

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  2. Dear swampfoxh,

    I read the entire article you refer to and I am confused about what article you meant to refer to.

    I see little basis in the article for what you claim regarding the article.

    Maybe you are just making stuff up?

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Swampfoxh is reacting to the "Editorial of the Week" posted on the second page of this Weekly Digest. 

  3. I would note to swampfoxh that the Reich article is presented as an opinion piece in the Guardian. It's not scientific research subject to peer review nor would any reasonable person confuse it for such.

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  4. swampfoxh,

    In spite of Rob Honeycutt's response, the Reich Opinion piece you refer to (and that I read all the way through then sarcastically - but not effectively - questioned the basis for your comment) is a reasonably robust explanation of the observable history on the matter. Not being a "peer reviewed presentation of repeatable controlled experiments" does not mean it is not a robustly reasoned and defensible presentation of what has been observed to have happened.

    I repeat that I see no parts of the Opinion piece being what you claim (no part is a misrepresentation). In addition, there are other evidence-based reports being presented in many other news sources that substantiate the basis and evaluation presented in the Opinion piece. And the observations of what happened in Texas are consistent with what has been observed to happen in many other places in recent history. Also, there are many books that cover the general topic with detailed observations as their basis that support the Opinion presented (it is not just this power problem in Texas).

    And the problem of pursuers of wealth not considering or caring about the harm that could be caused by their maximization of personal benefit (or maximization of profit) is a major part of the climate change problem, a major reason less correction of behaviour to reduce the harm being done has occurred.

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