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Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Global warming is real and human-caused. It is leading to large-scale climate change. Under the guise of climate "skepticism", the public is bombarded with misinformation that casts doubt on the reality of human-caused global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming "skepticism".

Our mission is simple: debunk climate misinformation by presenting peer-reviewed science and explaining the techniques of science denial.

 


How 2022 has substantially, and favorably, changed global climate outlook

Posted on 28 November 2022 by dana1981

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

Anew analysis by the Global Carbon Budget, published in the journal Earth System Science Data, shows global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels have fully recovered from the temporary dip driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, setting new records in 2021 and 2022. But it’s not all bad news: With most of that rebound occurring in 2021, global fossil pollution is projected to rise by just 1% in 2022, and the rate of global deforestation has slowed over the past two decades.

A graph showing carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and land use change. Land use change is a much smaller share than fossil carbon.Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and land use change like deforestation. Source: Global Carbon Project

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting disruptions of natural gas supplies to Europe, global fossil gas consumption is projected to decline 0.2% in 2022, but some of that energy demand has been met by a 1% increase in global coal consumption over the year. Carbon pollution from oil also rose 2.2% in 2022, although it remains slightly below pre-pandemic levels, as travel and transportation have not fully recovered.

Despite the continued rise in global carbon emissions, the International Energy Agency (IEA),  in its 2022 World Energy Outlook report, painted a relatively optimistic vision of future climate pollution. Recent policy changes – including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the U.S. – have shifted the scales heavily in favor of clean energy technologies.

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #48

Posted on 26 November 2022 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Nov 20, 2022  thru Sat, Nov 26, 2022.

Story of the Week

The Art at COP27 Offered Opportunities to Move Beyond ‘Empty Words’ 

In Egypt, visitors encountered creative works about climate anxiety, sustainability and ecosystem loss.

While the goal of effecting decisive global change proved largely elusive at the United Nations’ annual climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the art at COP27 offered other road maps for moving forward.

“We don’t need more empty words,” said Jenni Laiti, a Sámi “artivist” whose five-minute video was shown at the World Health Organization’s Health Pavilion curated by the arts studio Invisible Flock. “We need action. Art is a way to see differently, but art is also a really important tool to find another solution,” she said in an interview after COP27 ended.

Laiti’s film is about the Atlantic salmon and its critical importance to the Sámi people who live in the Arctic regions of Norway and Finland. The Sámi way of life is gravely threatened by climate change. “We live with the end of the world every day,” Laiti said. “Our world, the Arctic, is dying and disappearing.”

Art, said Victoria Pratt, the creative director for Invisible Flock, can help us to move beyond human-centric ways of thinking. “We’re not the only species on the planet,” she said.

Bahia Shehab, an Egyptian-Lebanese artist who worked with Fine Acts on her COP27 project, “Heaven and Hell in the Anthropocene,” also spoke about the need for climate discussions to incorporate a wider array of perspectives. “You can’t keep having these conversations amongst yourselves as politicians and academics and scientists,” she said. “We’re not getting anywhere. We need to open up the conversation.”

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on Inside Climate News.

The Art at COP27 Offered Opportunities to Move Beyond ‘Empty Words’ by Kiley Bense, Inside Climate News, Nov 26, 2022;

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #47 2022

Posted on 24 November 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Open access notables:

Web bulb temperatures verging on unsurvivable are creeping into our world and heading toward familiar. That's the lesson we can infer from Dong-Quan & Sun's Effects of anthropogenic forcing and atmospheric circulation on the record-breaking welt bulb heat event over southern China in September 2021. Analyzing  an event including 32.8°C the authors find: "Results indicate that 2021-like events would happen extremely rarely without anthropogenic warming (would not occur in counterfactual world simulations) and have become a 1-in-16-year event in the factual world. For the threshold of the second most extreme year, the occurrence probability of extreme WBGT events increases approximately 50 times due to the impact of anthropogenic forcings."

Public Disapproval of Disruptive Climate Change Protests  Is it COINTELPRO? Crisis actors paid by the fossil fuel industry? Happily— no. Boomers who've lived through decades of progress know that every major jump forward past big, stubborn problems involves and requires passion, enthusiasm, and often myopic focus. It's not surprising to see younger people front and center; "the future" is a more immediate preoccupation for people with easily half-a-hundred years to live. Indeed, the same era that saw COINTELPRO in its heyday included the founding of the US EPA, not least because a lot of pesky kids were making environmental degradation a topic that couldn't be ignored. As a practical matter for activist practitioners, it's worth carefully assessing whether, when & how means of calling attention may be verging on diminishing gains, or worse. Solid data to inform analysis and tactical decisions is available thanks to Shawn Patterson & Michael Mann, via UPenn's Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media. Included in this week's government/NGO reports section.

Wildlife kills by wind turbines have been a favorite means of poisoning public opinion against this now familiar means of energy harvesting. Here we find the rare case of an actual problem, one that— despite being cynically exploited to touch emotions in service of clinging to profits delivered by an outmoded and far more lethal techology— does exist.  But how do we know what the reality of turbine impact is? Wilson, Hulka & Bennun give us a glimpse of how this is measured in their intriguing work A review of raptor carcass persistence trials and the practical implications for fatality estimation at wind farms

Hornsey & Lewandowsky produce a comprehensive snapshot of modes of cognitive failure (accidental and inflicted) affecting our halting progress toward solving our climate blunder. The authors don't stop there, but also offer a collection of "interventions for reducing damage," tools given sharp edges by research. There's a hard lesson embedded therein for the climate communications community, one that ought to be intutively obvious: barging into a community with a lot of extraneous political baggage irrelevant to immediate purpose proudly on display is counterproductive, destructive to progress. Any of us with a cranky uncle knows: a single trigger word can end rational behavior. The authors put it more tactfully: "sceptics will be more influenced by messengers that share salient identities with them: rural people will be more influenced by rural messengers, conservatives will be more influenced by conservatives, and so forth. This is a challenging message for many climate activists because it underscores how their identification as green or left can be enough to render their voices impotent when it comes to influencing sceptics." [bold ours]  As a review article A toolkit for understanding and addressing climate scepticism is a fast and complete spin-up for people new to this game, and very probably a worthwhle refresher for old hands.

Population distribution within the human climate niche Taking a closer look at an extending recent work by Xu et al.  which posited a preferred thermal niche for our species, Klinger & Ryan find a broader range of options. It might be said that we're more gracefully adaptable in the direction of cooler.  However and heading the opposite direction on the thermometer, this new, detailed breakdown also leads to another conclusion by the authors: "The large decrease in population density from the 26–28°C range to the 28–30°C range is consistent with the concept that temperatures above 30°C are significantly less suitable for humans. Even if half the population already lives at T > 20°C, “moving” some of them to conditions outside the range of any prior human experience will bring physiological harm, crop failure, and ecological damage."

Football and climate change: what do we know, and what is needed for an evidence-informed response? identifies entirely plausible and tolerable mechanisms to deal with what might be called "an attractive nuisance" from the climate perspective. Sadly, the locale for the FIFA World Cup 2022 calls into question placement of the brackets of possibility and whether improvements are at all possible, what with the leadership of FIFA seemingly quite alienated from society's urgent needs. Even so, management comes and management goes; perhaps new blood will be ready to hear the information provded by author Leslie Mabon. 

139 articles in 55 journals by 904 contributing authors

Observations of climate change, effects

Anthropogenic contributions to the 2021 Pacific Northwest heatwave
Bercos-Hickey et al., ESSOAr, Open Access 10.1002/essoar.10511354.1

Changes in Aerosols, Meteorology, and Radiation in the Southeastern U.S. Warming Hole Region during 2000 to 2019
Ghate et al., Journal of Climate, Open Access pdf 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0073.1

Effects of anthropogenic forcing and atmospheric circulation on the record-breaking wet bulb heat event over southern China in September 2021
Dong-Qian & SUN, Advances in Climate Change Research, Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2022.11.007

Extreme precipitation over northern China in autumn 2021 and the joint contributions from the tropical and mid-latitude factors
Gu et al., Advances in Climate Change Research, Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2022.11.008

Is Anthropogenic Global Warming Accelerating?
Jenkins et al., Journal of Climate, Open Access 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0081.1

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Experts discuss how wildfire smoke harms human health

Posted on 23 November 2022 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Samantha Harrington

Wildfires in the summer of 2022 burned in the New Mexico mountains ringing the valley where Marquel Musgrave lives. Musgrave’s pueblo, Nanbé Owingeh, sprang into action. Community members gathered information and supplies to protect children and elders from the smoky air. 

Musgrave described this experience and more during a November panel discussion hosted by the Yale Center for Environmental Communication and Yale Climate Connections focusing on the health consequences of wildfire smoke. Musgrave joined Dr. Colleen Reid, a professor of geography at the University of Colorado Boulder, who shared recent research on the effects that breathing in wildfire smoke has on people’s health. And Dr. Jeff Masters, Yale Climate Connections contributor and meteorologist who has a Ph.D. in air pollution meteorology, explained that climate change is worsening wildfires and air pollution. The talk was moderated by Dr. Kai Chen, an assistant professor of epidemiology (environmental health) at Yale University.

Takeaways from the panel:

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Another bunch of helpful handbook translations published!

Posted on 22 November 2022 by BaerbelW

Since our last update about handy handbook translations in December 2021, another bunch have been published and added to the relevant overview pages for The Conspiracy Theory HandbookThe Debunking Handbook 2020 and The COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Handbook. As most of these additions will most likely have flown under the radar, we'll highlight these handy resources to fight misinformation in this blog post. Some translations were created with the help of translators from the Skeptical Science volunteers' network while others were created independently. What ties these handbooks and their translations together is, that Skeptical Science founder John Cook has been involved with the creation of all of them, that Wendy Cook created the graphic designs, and that I'm coordinating the translations.

Collage

Here is the list of newly added translations by publication date:

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Video examines issues involving jet stream role in extreme weather

Posted on 21 November 2022 by greenman3610

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

Turn on practically any storm-driven local TV weather forecast these days, and chances are you’ll encounter more and more references to the “jet stream.”

But why? And what exactly is the jet stream, and what, if any, is its connection to extreme weather events, be they drought, extreme heat, wildfires, or flooding?

“It’s hard to find examples of major weather events from last year that arenrelated to the jet stream,” PBS producer and host of “PBS Terra” Maiya May says in a new Yale Climate Connections video, produced by independent videographer Peter Sinclair.  

Climate models may be “too conservative” on impacts of the jet stream considering current observations, says Columbia University scientist Kai Kornhuber, pointing to recent record-breaking extreme weather events.

“The observational evidence for crazier jet stream activity has certainly been strong,” Yale Climate Connections meteorologist Jeff Masters, a cofounder of Weather Underground, says in the video. “We’re seeing some very unusual activity in the past few decades.” Siting recent research drawing links between jet stream perturbations and severe weather events, Masters adds that theoretical and computer modeling evidence remains limited, making the subject still “a tough nut to crack.”

Among the puzzles being addressed by researchers is the extent to which climate change may be influencing what Nebraska state climatologist Martha Shulski calls “wavey” jet stream behaviors and more polar air outbreaks. Other experts chime in on the range of known, unknown, and suspected issues involving the jet stream, climate change, and global weather patterns.

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #47

Posted on 19 November 2022 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Nov 13, 2022  thru Sat, Nov 19, 2022.

Story of the Week

Is COP27 the End of Hopes for Limiting Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius?

The climate talks are going into overtime with little progress toward the emissions cuts required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The COP27 climate conference in Egypt may be remembered as the moment when the world gave up on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious goal set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Late Friday, the last scheduled day of the climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, the heads of the national delegations were still meeting to discuss whether the final documents should include a reference to that temperature target, which scientists call a limit that, if breached, would push some Earth systems past dangerous and irreversible tipping points.

This year’s annual meeting was billed as the “implementation COP,” but so far “nothing has been implemented, and it has thus failed to achieve what it set out to do,” said Stephanie Hirmer, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s energy and power group. “While everyone knows the 1.5-degree target is off the table, it is not openly discussed in official sessions,” she said.

The only way to stay under that limit, a recent United Nations Environment Programme report concluded, would be for industrialized nations to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions—cutting them by about half in the next eight years and to zero by 2050—but nothing that happened at this year’s two-week conference has increased the likelihood that will happen.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on Inside Climate News.

Is COP27 the End of Hopes for Limiting Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius? by Bob Berwyn, Science, Inside Climate News, Nov 19, 2022 

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #46 2022

Posted on 17 November 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Notables:

Presence or absence of stabilizing Earth system feedbacks on different time scales Arnscheidt and Rothman confirm the stabilizing effect of carbonate geochemistry on Earth's climate, at least on "short" timescales. More provocatively: "We have shown that the observations are inconsistent with a dominant stabilizing feedback on the longest time scales and suggested that those fluctuations arise because of weathering acting as a climate forcing (for example, when tectonic processes change the availability of weatherable rocks). Another option is that fluctuations grow on long time scales because of unknown destabilizing feedbacks. In either case, the key question is: Are there any mechanisms in the Earth system that prevent these kinds of fluctuations from eventually driving surface temperature into an uninhabitable regime?" Get past the embedded cliffhanger by reading the paper.

Asymmetric emergence of low-to-no snow in the midlatitudes of the American Cordillera A familiar story: people in the southern hemisphere will be more heavily impacted by climate change than those in the north, despite being relatively scanty contributors to the root cause of the problem. Here we're speaking of vanishing water resources. Let alone humans, Rhoades et al. point out that ecological systems will also be degraded. 

Climate models fail to capture strengthening wintertime North Atlantic jet and impacts on Europe Blackport & Fyfe describe the meat of the problem they're investigating: "Here, we show that over the period from 1951 to 2020, the wintertime North Atlantic jet has strengthened, while model trends are, on average, only very weakly positive. The observed strengthening is greater than in any one of the 303 simulations from 44 climate models considered in our study. This divergence between models and observations is now much more apparent because of a very strong jet observed over the past decade." The authors assess natural variabilty as culprit and find it unlikely, with further scrutiny suggesting that models are failing to capture some degree of anthropenic effects. The oversight has important implications for projections that steer adaptation planning, etc.

African perspectives on climate change research  "The countries of Africa have contributed comparatively little to anthropogenic emissions, yet the continent feels the impacts of global warming in many different ways, with changes in hydroclimate, biodiversity and wildfire dynamics already visible today. These changes happen simultaneously with considerable societal and economic transformations in many countries." Here African researchers describe their preoccupations: scientific questions of especial interest to a continent facing huge and increasingly urgent challenges from climate change.

A Look at 2021: Takeaway Points from the State of the Climate Supplement What's written on the tin: BAMS provides the very top lines of the full treatment, State of the Climate in 2021.

Discrepancies between observations and climate models of large-scale wind-driven Greenland melt influence sea-level rise projections In Nature Communications Dániel Topál & crew dive into fascinating details in their exploration of a mismatch between models and reality. Some surprising facts about the effects of wind on ice are revealed. More concerningly, given the conclusions of the paper our projections are likely to be missing a fairly significant proportion of Greenland's expected contribution to sea level rise.

146 articles in 68 journals by 1320 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Presence or absence of stabilizing Earth system feedbacks on different time scales
Arnscheidt & Rothman, Science Advances, Open Access 10.1126/sciadv.adc924

Processes Controlling the Southern Ocean Temperature Change
Chen et al., Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0111.1

Why is Seasonal Density Stratification in Shelf Seas Expected to Increase Under Future Climate Change?
Holt et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1029/2022gl100448

Observations of climate change, effects

Accelerated Sea Ice Loss from Late Summer Cyclones in the New Arctic
Finocchio et al., Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0315.1

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New reports spell out climate urgency, shortfalls, needed actions

Posted on 16 November 2022 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Michael Svoboda

In the weeks leading up to the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, often called COP27, several organizations released major reports detailing the many difficult tasks on the climate negotiators’ agenda. Some of these reports are annual updates; others are one-off analyses. Together they describe the urgency of this moment but also the many opportunities for action.

The first three reports in the list, from United Nations Environment Programme and World Resources Institute, document the gaps between past commitments and current actions on emissions reductions, adaptation finance, and other goals adopted at COP21 in Paris in 2015.

The second group of reports compiles the mounting evidence for the increasing frequency and danger of heat waves. The provocatively titled report from UNICEF — “The Coldest Year of the Rest of Their Lives” — adds poignancy to the data.

A trio of reports from the International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the World Bank offer the most optimistic assessments. Although Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted the timetables, the dramatically improving economics of renewable energy keep improving the odds for the transition to a net-zero (or carbon-neutral) economy.

The last two reports focus on specific issues high on the agenda at COP27: compensation for the losses and damages suffered by countries that contributed little to Earth’s warming but are already suffering the consequences and the increasingly disconcerting trade-offs between climate actions and land use.

As always with this feature, descriptions of the reports are drawn from copy provided by the organizations that published them. PDFs of the reports can be downloaded from the organizations’ website for free; in some cases, registration with the organization is required. 


A book cover featuring an illustration of two white-capped waves.

UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2022: Too Little, Too Slow – Climate Adaptation Failure Puts World at Risk by Edith Adera et al. (United Nations Environment Programme 2022, 84 pages, free download available here)

UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2022: Too Little, Too Slow – Climate Adaptation Failure Puts World at Risk looks at progress in planning, financing and implementing adaptation actions. At least 84 percent of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have established adaptation plans, strategies, laws and policies. The instruments are getting better at prioritizing disadvantaged groups, such as Indigenous peoples. However, international adaptation finance flows to turn these plans and strategies into action are 5-10 times below estimated needs and the gap is widening. The report looks at the benefits of prioritizing actions that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities adapt, such as nature-based solutions, and calls for countries to step up funding and implementation of adaptation actions.

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Climate Talk.... FAILS | #cop27

Posted on 15 November 2022 by Guest Author

Climate negotiations play a vital role in fighting climate change. But do they? These climate talks are - as the name suggests - more talk than action. I look back at some of the biggest fails, from fossil fuel sponsorships to the Paris Climate Agreement. So what does all this mean for the fate of the next negotiations - COP27 in Egypt?

Support ClimateAdam on patreon: http://patreon.com/climateadam

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Don’t get fooled: Electric vehicles really are better for the climate

Posted on 14 November 2022 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Daisy Simmons

A cartoon featuring rabbits (hares) in a gas pickup truck and tortoises in an electric car catching up to them.

You may have heard the myth that electric vehicles are just as bad for the climate — or worse — than gas-powered cars and trucks. One common myth claims that the climate-warming pollution caused by manufacturing electric vehicle batteries cancels out the benefits. Not so.

Electric vehicles don’t cause more pollution in the long run

Electric vehicles, often called EVs, are responsible for less global-warming pollution over their life cycle than gas-powered vehicles, despite the fact that battery manufacturing — for the moment — increases the climate impacts of EV production.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explains the issue in a nutshell: “Some studies have shown that making a typical electric vehicle (EV) can create more carbon pollution than making a gasoline car. This is because of the additional energy required to manufacture an EV’s battery. Still, over the lifetime of the vehicle, total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with manufacturing, charging, and driving an EV are typically lower than the total GHGs associated with a gasoline car.” (emphasis added)

Let’s walk through the key data leading to this conclusion, with the help of the lead author of a 2022 Union of Concerned Scientists report evaluating the lifetime impacts of electric and gasoline vehicles.

Manufacturing an electric vehicle does cause carbon pollution

Although an electric vehicle creates less climate pollution over its life cycle than a gas-powered vehicle, manufacturing an EV typically generates more pollution.

That’s mostly a result of the energy required to mine the materials used in batteries, transport them to the production facility, and manufacture them.

“However, even now, those emissions are small compared to the savings when you’re driving the vehicle,” said David Reichmuth, senior engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists and co-author of the 2022 report cited above.

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #45

Posted on 12 November 2022 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Nov 6, 2022  thru Sat, Nov 12, 2022.

Story of the Week

What the tiny remaining 1.5C carbon budget means for climate policy 

The latest estimates from the Global Carbon Project (GCP) show that total worldwide CO2 emissions in 2022 have reached near-record levels. 

The GCP’s estimates put the remaining carbon budget for 1.5C – specifically, the amount of CO2 that can still be emitted for a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C of warming – at 380bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2). At the current rate of emissions, this budget would be blown in just nine years.

While that is a disconcertingly short amount of time, the budget for 1.5C may actually be even tighter.

Combining the latest insights from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with the GCP’s data, we estimate that the remaining 1.5C carbon budget could be just 260GtCO2 – around 120GtCO2 smaller. If emissions continued at current levels, this budget would run out in around six and half years.

However, reducing the remaining carbon budget to a single number means that many of the factors and uncertainties involved in calculating it – and their implications for decision-making – are missed.  

With the immense efforts of the GCP, we know that there is still no sign of the sustained fall in global CO2 emissions needed to meet the Paris Agreement warming limits. 

Cutting global CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, in line with limiting warming to 1.5C, would require them to fall by about 1.4GtCO2 every year, comparable to the drop in 2020 as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns around the world, but this time driven by a long-term, structural change of the economy.

This highlights that the scale of the challenge is immense, no matter the precise figure of the rapidly shrinking carbon budget.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on Carbon Brief.

What the tiny remaining 1.5C carbon budget means for climate policy, Guest Post by Piers Forster, Debbie Rosen, Robin Lamboll & Joeri Rogelj, Carbon Brief, Nov 11, 2022

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #45 2022

Posted on 10 November 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Catastrophic reverb

Kemp et al. caused prolonged ripples with their paper Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios. One can't help but think most of the heat is emotional, not intellectual; excited critics of the paper offer little more than "this sounds scary, don't harsh our vibe." Vague and even outlandish concerns over terminology aside, true perception of catastrophe is the province of those living the actual experience. Ask a pastoralist in South Africa or Pakistan who has just had their livelihood wiped out, with no means to rebuild: "Are you living an existential climate catastrophe?"  Quite arguably the climate catastrophe train has already left the station, and abstract objections to the concept are coming from what a we might call "a place of privilege." Discussion continues via Bhowmick et al. in From Climate Endgame to Climate Long Game, with a reply from Kemp et al., Democratic climate action and studying extreme climate risks are not in tension.

Other notables:

ICCI has published its latest comprehensive magnum opus on Earth's ice, State of the Cryosphere 2022: Growing Losses, Global Impacts, included here in our government/NGO section. As the title page suggests and the entire work details, "We cannot negotiate with the melting point of ice." Indeed geophysics is aloof to us but we'd be foolish to reciprocate, unfair though this may be. Meanwhile, ICCI faces a Sisyphean task. Having just dusted their hands of this publication, the authors must carry straight on; our cascade of better information never ceases, as exemplified in a new and concerning paper by Khan et al. just published in PNAS: Extensive inland thinning and speed-up of Northeast Greenland Ice Stream.

Tropical cyclones combine with climate change to begin sending enivronmental regimes beyond healthy tolerance, a form of compound event. Rajeev & Mishra investigate how this is unfolding as actual events as opposed to projections, in Observational evidence of increasing compound tropical cyclone-moist heat extremes in India.

Busy rodent hydrologic engineers can be important allies in counteracting negative effects of warming and associated problems with surface water, and as a bonus have notable positive effects on nitrate loading. Dewey et al. explain, in  Beaver dams overshadow climate extremes in controlling riparian hydrology and water quality.

"Now we know better." We rushed into fossil hydrocarbons without any forethought, but given a second chance to create seeming energy magic we're being more careful. Perovskite photovoltaic cells have huge potential for making solar energy cheaper. That's great but perhaps even more important is how building perovskite cells creates less of a mess, with lower embodied energy requirements and less need for often excruciatingly cumbersome, ethically compromised processes of obtaining rare earth elements. Wang et al. extend conscientious treatment with their investigation into clean chemical engineering for production of perovskite PV cells in Solvent Engineering of Ionic Liquids for Stable and Efficient Perovskite Solar Cells. From our weekly potpourri of research into methods and practices of decarbonization, included as a ray of hope and wherein we can offer only a bare hint of the froth of activity in this climate-crucial arena. 

All of the above open access and free to read. 

126 articles in 64 journals by 968 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Land-Atmosphere Cascade Fueled the 2020 Siberian Heatwave
Gloege et al., AGU Advances, Open Access pdf 10.1029/2021av000619

Observations of climate change, effects

A potential explanation for the global increase in tropical cyclone rapid intensification
Bhatia et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-34321-6

Analyzing the trend and change point in various meteorological variables in Bursa with various statistical and graphical methods
Katipo?lu, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-022-04231-0

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SkS Analogy 9 - The greenhouse effect is a stack of blankets

Posted on 9 November 2022 by Evan, jg

This is a revised version of a previous analogy. The original version is here.

Tag Line

The greenhouse effect is like a stack of blankets on a winter night.

Elevator Statement

More blankets = more warmth: The greenhouse effect is like blankets warming the Earth. If it is 10°C (50°F) in your bedroom, you need a few blankets to keep yourself warm. More blankets = more warming. Too many blankets and you sweat. The greenhouse effect is a good thing, up to a point.

GHG compared to blankets on the Earth

Climate Science

For the atmospheric temperature to be stable (i.e., no global warming nor cooling), the Earth must lose just as much energy to space as it gains from the sun. How does this work? If global warming is happening, what will ever allow it to stop and for atmospheric temperatures to stop rising?

The sun sends us more energy that we can use, in the form of a broad spectrum of light. Earth absorbs about 70% of the incident light, and reflects the rest out to space. The 70% of the suns energy that is absorbed heats the Earth. Although the energy that comes from the sun is in the form of a broad spectrum of wavelengths, things on Earth predominantly re-emit infrared radiation. Infrared radiation is emitted in all directions, including skyward. When you are sitting next to a fire, you feel the infrared heat from the fire, and some of that infrared heat moves upward, towards space. Does it make it to space?

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Climate change reparations – who pays?

Posted on 8 November 2022 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from the NZ Newsroom by Kevin Trenberth

Climate change reparations are expected to be one of the main issues at COP27, the next round of international climate talks from November 6-18 in Egypt. Climate change reparations are a new way of looking at how to pay developing countries for damages arising from climate change, on the grounds that most of those countries affected have done little to create climate changes.

Climate change reparations, also referred to as payments for "loss and damage", account for the economic toll of climate-fuelled disasters, such as floods, wildfires and hurricanes. It also includes slowly-developing climate impacts, such as sea-level rise, that can produce irreversible damage over time.

However, damages and disasters only arise because people and infrastructure have developed and placed themselves in a region that is vulnerable, and perhaps they should not have been there in the first place. Or more attention should have been paid to making sure that the developments were resilient. This makes the issues especially contentious, quite aside from the enormous difficulties of assigning blame.

Climate change is broadly broken down into several parts. The first is the climate information system involving analyses of what is happening and why, and what it implies for the future. The second is the impacts, vulnerability, adaptation and building of resilience. The third is mitigation, which refers to all the options to stop and slow the problem, such as through decarbonisation of economies. Reparation is perhaps the fourth leg of the stool as a new way to pay developing countries for damages arising from climate change.

On October 24, more than 140 US-based climate and development organisations sent a letter to US climate envoy John Kerry urging the Biden administration to commit to meaningful advances in addressing climate-related loss and damage, including an agreement to establish a Finance Facility under the United Nations. However, wealthy nations, such as the United States, have long opposed the idea.

An important aspect often glossed over by the affected countries is that damage and disasters relate not just to the event itself, but much more to the vulnerability of the peoples and infrastructure hit. Indeed, if a major storm occurs over the ocean, the impacts are mostly small, while a direct hit on a major city may cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars of damage. In some cases, the consequences may have been largely unavoidable, but all too often the damages and lives lost are because of far too many people placing themselves, or being placed, in harm’s way, by living in low-lying coastal regions or flood plains for instance

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Are clean technologies and renewable energies better for the environment than fossil fuels?

Posted on 7 November 2022 by dana1981

This is a re-post from the CCL Blog

The grand transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a green one is underway. It will involve a fundamental shift in the way we generate and use energy for various purposes. Instead of drilling and mining for fossil fuels, we’ll need to mine for critical minerals to manufacture a whole lot of “clean” technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries. 

This raises some common questions — when we account for the impacts of the mining and manufacturing of these technologies, are they really better for the environment, human rights, and climate than the fossil fuel alternatives they’re replacing? 

In general, the answer is yes. Clean technologies will have a non-zero impact, but they will be much smaller than the dirty fossil fuel status quo.

Which requires more mining — fossil fuels or clean energy?

The short answer to this question is that fossil fuels require much more mining and drilling than clean energy technologies. Today the world mines 8 billion tons of coal every year, whereas the clean energy transition is estimated to require around 3.5 billion tons of minerals in total over the next three decades.

A December 2021 paper by Rice University researchers sought to answer this question in detail. Among clean energy technologies, wind turbines in particular require a considerable amount of minerals per amount of energy produced, as illustrated in the chart below from the International Energy Agency.

Are clean technologies and renewable energies better for the environment than fossil fuels?; a bar graph showing the minerals used in the construction of each clean energy and fossil fuel technology

But that chart only illustrates the minerals needed to construct the power plants. Once a wind turbine or solar panel is constructed, no further mining is needed. Their fuel (wind and sunshine) is provided by nature. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, require ceaseless mining or drilling to obtain new fuel to burn. 

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #44

Posted on 6 November 2022 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Oct 30, 2022  thru Sat, Nov 5, 2022.

Story of the Week

COP27 climate summit to test resolve of world battling war, inflation

  • Many of the biggest players distracted by crises
  • Global greenhouse gas emissions still rising
  • Floods, droughts, heatwaves taking toll around world
  • 'Not on track on anything' says Egypt's negotiator

An international climate summit starting next week in Egypt will test the resolve of nations to combat global warming, even as many of the biggest players are distracted by urgent crises ranging from war in Europe to rampant consumer inflation.

More than 30,000 delegates, including representatives from some 200 countries, will gather Nov. 6-18 in the seaside resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to hash out details around how to slow climate change and help those already feeling its impacts.

But with nations dealing with the fallout of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, along with soaring food and fuel prices and stuttering economic growth, questions loom over whether they will act quickly and ambitiously enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

COP27 climate summit to test resolve of world battling war, inflation by Valerie Volcovici, Business, Reuters, Oct 31, 2022

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #44 2022

Posted on 3 November 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Notables:

Usable, but unused: A critical story of co-producing the UK’s Climate Change Risk Assessments. We seem to have all the pieces needed to build climate-risk-responsive policy but often there's no policy product at the end of the assembly line. James Porter & Caitlin Clark investigate and explain how our blueprint for building public policy may be drawn poorly, and where focused research might help fix the problem.

The Impact of Renewables in ERCOT. Myth: "Clean energy is too expensive." Reality: "Summing up all benefit streams, we estimate that, between 2010 and August 2022, renewables provided between $38.7B and $106B (about $48.2B using median values for water and emissions) in total benefits to Texas residents in the ERCOT service territory." Those are net benefits to the Texas, USA regional customer base. From our government/NGO section.

Evidence of sweet corn yield losses from rising temperatures. Dahliwal & Williams in their study of 27 years of data from 16,040 fields: "Each additional degree day spent above 30C during anthesis reduced crop yields by 0.5% and 2% in irrigated and rainfed fields, respectively. This study shows evidence for sweet corn yield losses across broad spatial domains in the wake of climate change and underscores the urgency to accelerate crop adaptation strategies to sustain production of this highly popular crop." Our local back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that's ~50 miilion pounds from the average US annual crop. Technically speaking, the globe's hungry mouths could use 50 million pounds of extra corn today. 50 million pounds less is going in the wrong direction. Climate projections suggest that such losses will be an increasingly frequent occurrence, so at the present time "wrong" is where we're headed.

Improving public support for climate action through multilateralism.  Pledges and treaties have to pass muster with respective citizens of participating countries in order for governments to feel safe with buy-in. There have been questions about whether multilateralism is an important factor in public judgement of international climate mitigations agreements. Bechtel et al. find confirmation that "fair is fair" is indeed important in the minds and judgements of citizens in many countries. 

Clumsy solutions and climate change: A retrospective. Anthropogenic climate change: fundamentally it's an anthropological matter. What does "fixing our climate" look like from the perspective of anthropology? This retrospective traces the development of the anthropological principle of "clumsy solutions" to complex problems.  What is the "clumsy solutions hypothesis? "Efforts to resolve complex social and environmental issues that reach their goals combine all ways of life." The authors test the predictions of this hypothesis against climate governance outcomes.

Cost and emissions pathways towards net-zero climate impacts in aviation. It's becoming a noticeable refrain: making aviation sustainable may not cost very much. Dray et al. arrive yet again in an increasingly familiar neighborhood: do we care ~15% more? Is ~15% more for an airline ticket too much of a price to pay for personal responsibility? 

Impacts of accelerating deployment of offshore windfarms on near-surface climateReverberation: authors Akhtar, Geyer & Shrum do the maths and find substantial effects: "Our results suggest that the impacts of large clustered offshore wind farms should be considered in climate change impact studies."

Anthropogenic Influence on the Diurnal Temperature Range since 1901. "It's not happening." Yes, it is. The predictable effect of added GHGs on diurnal temperature swing is easy to understand, easiily captured by measurements. It's much studied, much reported, much confirmed. Here's another confirmatory report.  Why? Each independent confirmatory study brings a particular twist on methodology and different scope of scrutiny (or it would be unlikely to pass review). Here of special interest Lu, Sun & Zhang compare real world observations of changes in diurnal swing to climate model results and find that climate models replicate the overall effect while underestimating its magnitude.  

All of the above open access and free to read. 

106 articles in 55 journals by 861 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Drivers of ocean warming in the western boundary currents of the Southern Hemisphere
Li et al., Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01473-8

Observations of climate change, effects

Anthropogenic Influence on the Diurnal Temperature Range since 1901
Lu et al., Journal of Climate, Open Access pdf 10.1175/jcli-d-21-0928.1

Effect of Aquatic Organic Matter and Global Warming on Accumulation of PAHs in Lakes, East China
Wan et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 10.1029/2022jg007167

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Climate Change's Controversial Policy: Loss & Damage

Posted on 2 November 2022 by Guest Author

There's a climate change policy that governments have been debating for decades. The USA recently even tried (and failed) to have the words removed from the latest IPCC report (AR6 WGII). This policy is: "Loss & Damage".

Also called "Climate Reparations", Loss & Damage is a way of seeking climate justice in the face of disasters, and will be a major talking point at this year's climate negotiations - COP27 in Egypt. So what is Loss & Damage, why is it so important for climate action, and why have countries been arguing about it for so long?

Support ClimateAdam on patreon: http://patreon.com/climateadam

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How sea level rise contributes to billions in extra damage during hurricanes

Posted on 1 November 2022 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jeff Masters

When Hurricane Ian barreled into the coast of southwest Florida on Sept. 28, the mighty hurricane’s 150-mph winds drove a massive and destructive storm surge inland. A preliminary estimate from NOAA puts Ian’s damage at more than $50 billion, and damage estimates from some private insurers approach or exceed $100 billion. It’s likely that tens of billions of this damage was caused by a catastrophic storm surge of 10 – 15 feet, which leveled countless structures on the low-lying barrier islands just south of where Ian’s eye came ashore.

Had Ian hit a century ago, when sea levels were about a foot lower, the storm probably would have caused billions less in storm surge damage, judging by the results from two studies looking at storm surge damage from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy in New York. Taken together, the study results suggest that rising seas left a huge portion of U.S. coastal infrastructure – much of it built during the 20th century – vulnerable to storm surges.

Small increases in storm surge can cause huge impacts

A small amount of sea level rise – even just a few inches – can lead to significant damage during a storm surge event. Why?

To use a sports analogy, it’s because the interaction of a storm surge with a city is a game of inches and thresholds. Coastal cities are generally designed so that it takes a 1-in-100-year event (one that has a 1% chance of occurring in a given year) to cause substantial damaging flooding: A storm surge must rise to the base height of the city before it can flood large areas. But once the storm does cross that threshold, every inch of additional rise in water levels can flood large areas. And since just one inch of water in a 2,500-square-foot home can cause $27,000 in damage, and 12 inches can cause $72,000 in damage (according to FEMA), a few extra inches of storm surge can add up to a lot of damage in a hurry.

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