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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.


2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #42

Posted on 17 October 2021 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, October 10, 2021 through Sat, October 16, 2021

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week: ‘This is a story that needs to be told’: BBC film tackles Climategate scandal, Why trust science?, Overconfident Idiots: Why Incompetence Breeds Certainty, Ben Santer on ‘separating’ and his ‘small part’ in understanding of climate science, Make electric vehicles lighter to maximize climate and safety benefits, and Trust in meteorology has saved lives. The same is possible for climate science.

Articles Linked to on Facebook



Faster transitions to clean energy are also cheaper

Posted on 15 October 2021 by dana1981

This is a re-post from the Citizens' Climate Lobby blog

Several clean energy technologies like solar panels have become consistently cheaper year after year as the industries have benefited from learning, experience and economies of scale. Falling solar costs are described by “Swanson’s Law,” much like Moore’s Law described the rapid and consistent progress in the semiconductor industry. Solar photovoltaic cells in 2019 cost about 85% less per watt than they had in 2010, for example. This raises the question: should we expect the cost of renewable energy technologies to stop falling and plateau?

That’s an assumption that many influential energy-economy modelers have made in the past, but they’ve been wrong every single time. For example, their analyses forecast on average that between 2010 and 2020 solar panel costs would fall by 2.6% annually. In reality, solar costs fell more than five times faster than that, at 15% per year.

According to a new working paper from the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford, energy-economy modelers should update their assumptions to anticipate that the costs of key clean technologies will keep falling as their industries continue to benefit from deployment experience and Swanson’s Law. As the authors noted, the assumptions and forecasts from these models have important real-world impacts on energy decisions, economics, and climate change:

“Failing to appreciate cost improvement trajectories of renewables relative to fossil fuels not only leads to under-investment in critical emission reduction technologies, it also locks in higher-cost energy infrastructure for decades to come.”

More realistic assumptions

Many experts have called for energy economics modelers to find better approaches that will more accurately predict the future evolution of clean energy technologies. By assuming that clean energy costs will keep falling as the industries continue to benefit from learning and experience curves as the technologies are deployed, the Oxford study forecast that in 2050:

  • Energy from solar panels will be about 66% to 86% cheaper than today, most likely 80% cheaper.
  • Energy from wind turbines will be about 5% to 50% cheaper than today, most likely 30% cheaper.
  • Lithium-ion batteries will be about 80% to 94% cheaper than today, most likely 90% cheaper.
  • Producing “green hydrogen” by electrolyzing water (splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms, which can be done using renewable energy), will be about 60% to 97% cheaper than today, most likely 90% cheaper.

Faster transitions to clean energy are also cheaper

Levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for solar cells from 1980 to 2020 (black dots), as previously inaccurately forecast by influential energy-economy models (red lines), and as forecast in the Oxford working paper (blue dashed line and shaded regions), with the historical and forecast experience curve similarly shown in the bottom left corner. Source: Oxford working paper.

Unlike renewable energy, the costs of fossil fuels and the electricity they generate have remained essentially flat over the past many decades and are forecast to remain steady in the future as well. This is why a price on carbon is one of the most influential climate solutions — it would increase the price of fossil fuels and drive our economy toward these affordable, renewable options even faster than predicted.



Skeptical Science New Research for Week #41, 2021

Posted on 14 October 2021 by doug_bostrom

How to fill a glass and thereby drink— from a fire hose

So far this year, New Research has published listings for 3,291 papers concerning climate change from one aspect or another. Each edition includes two dozen or so articles describing freshly and directly observed effects of global waming. These papers as a sampling should fully convey the profound nature of changes we're experiencing even now, but the sad truth is that we're only skimming the surface.  Compilation time is limited, and probably reader attention as well. Meanwhile, on a planet of 7+ billion persons even a tiny fraction motivated to research matters related to climate change translates into a sizable army of investigators and a torrent of publications. What we list is a drop in the bucket.

Fortunately, if we're looking for certain kinds of information it turns out there's silicon and software to to help. Employing the natural language representation model BERT, a lot of mental sweat equity and doubtless a few kilowatt hours Max Callaghan and coauthors evaluated over half a million research publications to wring out some specific information: how many people inhabit regions directly affecte by anthropogenic climate change, today?  Given the essentially seamless nature of Earth systems and the continuum from one geophysical domain to another, we'd expect a lot. As it turns out and as best the authors are able to deduce via machine-aided analysis of over 600,000 research papers, about 85% of us may already be living in a climate altered by our own species. 

It's not idle curiosity in play here. Keen not to waste prior effort, the authors have effectively created something that might be termed a literature review— but on a scale never seen before. Still, we see the familiar intention of deriving practical value and guidance from a diversity of source material. In the authors' words:

In the climate science community, evidence-based assessments of observed climate change impacts are performed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) . Since the first Assessment Report (AR) of the IPCC in 1990, we estimate that the number of studies relevant to observed climate impacts published per year has increased by more than two orders of magnitude (Fig. 1a). Since the third AR, published in 2001, the number has increased ten-fold. This exponential growth in peer-reviewed scientific publications on climate change 5,6 is already pushing manual expert assessments to their limits. To address this issue, recent work has investigated ways to handle big literature in sustainability science by scaling systematic review and map methods to large bodies of published research using technological innovations and machine learning methods.

Machine-learning-based evidence and attribution mapping of 100,000 climate impact studies  is open access, free  to read, and with a trove of interesting citations to follow. 



Overconfident Idiots: Why Incompetence Breeds Certainty

Posted on 13 October 2021 by Guest Author

TiP-LogoThis is a re-post from the Thinking is Power website maintained by Melanie Trecek-King where she regularly writes about many aspects of critical thinking in an effort to provide accessible and engaging critical thinking information to the general public. Please see this overview to find links to other reposts from Thinking is Power.


The Dunning-Kruger effect explains why stupid people think they’re amazing.

On a sunny day in 1995, a man walked into a Pittsburgh bank. He smiled at the security cameras, pointed a gun at the cashiers, and demanded they give him money. 

A few hours later, he robbed a second bank. 

At 5 feet 6 inches tall and 270 pounds, the man wasn’t hard to miss. Especially since he wasn’t wearing a mask. 

The evening news aired images of the man’s face to help the police identify the robber. They had his name within an hour, and immediately went to 45 year-old McArthur Wheeler’s home to arrest him.

Wheeler was dumbfounded. He couldn’t believe he had been caught. He didn’t even try to proclaim his innocence. Instead, he kept repeating, “But I wore the juice.”

During interrogation, Wheeler told the police he couldn’t understand how the security cameras had captured his image, because he had smeared lemon juice on his face to make himself invisible. The police assumed he was on drugs or alcohol. But nope. He was sober.

Just really, really wrong.

Apparently, Wheeler had learned that lemon juice could be used as an invisible ink, and concluded he could make himself invisible by rubbing it on his face. Of course, he wasn’t stupid, so he made sure to test his hypothesis. He put lemon juice on his face and took a selfie with a Polaroid camera. The blank photo proved his idea worked. Bam. He had discovered a fool-proof way to commit crimes and not be caught.

The day of the robbery, he put so much lemon juice on his face that it stung his eyes, making it hard for him to see. He marched into the bank, bare faced and smiling, confident that no one could see him.



Young adults worldwide have blunt message for governments: ‘We don’t trust you.’

Posted on 12 October 2021 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Karin Kirk

Elizabeth Marks describes herself as “a psychologist who works on difficult problems.” Her past research aimed at helping people cope with challenging health conditions, apt training, it appears, for taking on climate change issues.

A few years ago, she altered the course of her research. “I really needed to do something in my working life that aligned with my values,” she said, describing her recent efforts to study people’s emotions around climate change. She has a reassuring tone and she’s a terrific listener – attributes one would hope to find in a psychologist.

Climate anxiety has become a sadly familiar topic, and as with many aspects of climate change, the problem has shifted from an abstract notion to a symptom many are now experiencing personally. Wildfire smoke chokes the sky, even at great distance from the fires themselves. Streets and subways fill with floodwaters, and the power grid falters under pressure wrought by extreme weather.

As the reality of climate change becomes increasingly evident, Marks says, “a lot of people will feel some level of distress.”

Marks is a lead author on a recent study, “Young People’s Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: A Global Phenomenon,” in pre-print in The Lancet. The paper sheds new light on climate anxiety, measuring  how  teens and young adults feel about governmental responses to climate change. Young people across the globe expressed an unequivocal admonishment of governments’ tepid actions thus far to address climate change.

The pre-print phase means the paper still is undergoing the peer review process. Results from this work are consistent with public opinion research recently published by the Pew Research Center, showing young people are more concerned about climate change and are more motivated to take action on climate than older adults.

Among those surveyed by Marks and her coauthors, young people in the U.S. expressed the lowest levels of trust in government, and American young adults overwhelmingly said that their climate concerns are not being taken seriously enough.

“Young people in this study are really, clearly telling us how they feel,” says Marks. “I think the most important influence they can have is for us to listen to them.”



My Climate Science PhD (at @University of Oxford )

Posted on 11 October 2021 by Guest Author

I began working on climate change through my doctorate in atmospheric physics at the University of Oxford. But ten years on, it's time I actually explained what my research is about... and why I'm not researching any more!

Support ClimateAdam on patreon:



2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #41

Posted on 10 October 2021 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, October 3, 2021 through Sat, October 9, 2021

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week: VFX Artist Reveals how Many Solar Panels are Needed to Power the ENTIRE World, Will you fall into the conspiracy theory rabbit hole? Take our quiz and find out., Nobel Prize in Physics won by 3 scientists for discoveries in climate and complex physical systems, Deniers Blame Alarmists for Journal Retraction of "Deeply Flawed" Pal-Reviewed Paper and Revealed: Two Thirds of Online Posts from Six Major European Fossil Fuel Companies ‘Greenwashing’.

Articles Linked to on Facebook



Skeptical Science New Research for Week #40, 2021

Posted on 7 October 2021 by doug_bostrom

"Old" research

There's little point in trying to best this excellent article describing the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics by Ars Technica authors Jennifer Ouelette and John Timmer, each having a gift for concisely on-target, accessible science journalism. Here at New Research we'll punt and quote the The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences press release, then follow up with a sampling of open-access papers authored by the prize recipients. Ouellette and Timmer's article supplies a lot of missing context and is well worth a visit.

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann & Giorgio Parisi. Here's why, according to the Nobel Committee for Physics:

Complex systems are characterised by randomness and disorder and are difficult to understand. This year’s Prize recognises new methods for describing them and predicting their long-term behaviour.

One complex system of vital importance to humankind is Earth’s climate. Syukuro Manabe demonstrated how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures at the surface of the Earth. In the 1960s, he led the development of physical models of the Earth’s climate and was the first person to explore the interaction between radiation balance and the vertical transport of air masses. His work laid the foundation for the development of current climate models.

About ten years later, Klaus Hasselmann created a model that links together weather and climate, thus answering the question of why climate models can be reliable despite weather being changeable and chaotic. He also developed methods for identifying specific signals, fingerprints, that both natural phenomena and human activities imprint in the climate. His methods have been used to prove that the increased temperature in the atmosphere is due to human emissions of carbon dioxide.

Around 1980, Giorgio Parisi discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials. His discoveries are among the most important contributions to the theory of complex systems. They make it possible to understand and describe many different and apparently entirely random materials and phenomena, not only in physics but also in other, very different areas, such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning.

“The discoveries being recognised this year demonstrate that our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation, based on a rigorous analysis of observations. This year’s Laureates have all contributed to us gaining deeper insight into the properties and evolution of complex physical systems,” says Thors Hans Hansson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.

Some papers by the recipients, from the critical periods mentioned by the committee (open access):


Simulated climatology of a general circulation model with a hydrologic cycle 

Thermal equilibrium of the atmosphere with a convective adjustment 

The Effects of Doubling the CO2 Concentration on the climate of a General Circulation Model 


Stochastic climate models part I. Theory 

Stochastic climate models, Part II Application to sea-surface temperature anomalies and thermocline variability 

Multi-pattern fingerprint method for detection and attribution of climate change 


Infinite Number of Order Parameters for Spin-Glasses 

Order Parameter for Spin-Glasses 

The order parameter for spin glasses: a function on the interval 0-1


117 articles by 633 contributing authors

Observations of climate change, effects

Warming Climate Shortens Ice Durations and Alters Freeze and Breakup Patterns in Swedish Water Bodies
Hallerbäck et al.
Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-2021-304

Variations in Summer Marine Heatwaves in the South China Sea
Yao & Wang Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Phenological trends in the pre- and post-breeding migration of long-distance migratory birds
Lawrence et al. Global Change Biology

Trends of freezing period and its main cause on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau from 1961 to 2018
Zhao et al. Theoretical and Applied Climatology
Open Access 10.1007/s00704-021-03798-4

A Secular Shift of the Madden-Julian Oscillation and Its Relation to Western Pacific Ocean Warming
Huang et al. Geophysical Research Letters

Climate signatures on lake and wetland size distributions in arctic deltas
Vulis et al. Geophysical Research Letters
Open Access 10.1002/essoar.10507143.1

Distinct tropospheric and stratospheric mechanisms linking historical Barents-Kara sea-ice loss and late winter Eurasian temperature variability
Xu et al. Geophysical Research Letters

Climate driven trends in London's urban heat island intensity reconstructed over 70 years using a generalized additive model
Bassett et al. Urban Climate

Natural and Anthropogenic Forcing of Multi-decadal to Centennial Scale Variability of Sea Surface Temperature in the South China Sea
Goodkin et al. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology

Winter daytime warming and shift in summer monsoon increase plant cover and net CO2 uptake in a central Tibetan alpine steppe ecosystem
Nieberding et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Open Access 10.1002/essoar.10507017.1

Decreasing subseasonal temperature variability in the northern extratropics attributed to human influence
Blackport et al. Nature Geoscience



Fighting back against climate misinformation and the damage being done

Posted on 6 October 2021 by John Cook

Misinformation about climate change has polluted our information landscape for three decades, poisoning public discourse and clouding minds. We tend to think that the main danger of misinformation is causing people to believe wrong things. But there are a multitude of ways that it does damage.

Misinformation builds distrust of scientists and scientific institutions—a dangerous trend during a pandemic when public health depends on people following the advice of scientific experts.

An insidious element of misinformation is it can cancel out accurate information. When people are confronted with conflicting information (e.g., fact and myth) and no way to resolve the conflict, the danger is they disengage and believe neither. This means that if we ignore the threat of misinformation, we leave the public (and our efforts to communicate accurate information) vulnerable to misinformation.

Read more Is it time to rethink our language on climate change?

Climate misinformation has a polarising effect, having a greater influence on political conservatives. This means that as misinformation washes over society, people move further away from each in their views about climate change. Consequently, we’ve seen the issue become more and more polarised over the years, making progress on climate action more difficult.

Climate change misinformation graphic.

Nowadays, the misinformation problem is a perfect storm of overlapping factors. Social media platforms act like 24/7 superspreader events, efficiently distributing misleading and inflammatory content to an eager but “unvaccinated” population.

The degree of polarisation has intensified to the point that the biggest factor determining people’s views on climate change is not education level but which political party they vote for. And politicians exploit public polarisation by peddling more misinformation that inflames their base, further exacerbating the problem.



Estimates of the economic damages from climate change

Posted on 5 October 2021 by ATTP

This is a re-post from ATTP's blog

Since I’ve discussed climate economics before, I thought I would briefly highlight a recent seminar involving, amongst others, Steve Keen and Tim Lenton. The topic was are the estimates of economic damages from climate change erroneous? The basic answer to this questions is yes.

The presenters make a number of good points. Steve Keen highlights how there is little empirical support for the damage functions. There are attempts to estimate how economic activity depends on climate, but there is a huge difference how it might vary in different regions of the planet today, and how it might be impacted by global warming of a similar magnitude.

Tim Lenton highlighted how we may already be close to triggering certain tipping elements and how these economic analyses tend to ignore such outcomes, or may even not be able to properly consider them. In one economic analysis, it was suggested that the collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) may have a positive economic impact because it might slightly dampen global warming. As Tim Lenton pointed out, this was an “insane” result given that such a collapse would result a major reorganisation of the entire climate system.

Matheus Grasselli, another of the speakers, presented quite a detailed analysis of William Nordhaus’s DICE model. He highlighted how it essentially assumes that the system is always in equilibrium, even if there has been some major shock. He also showed how the results depended strongly on assumptions about damages. What I thought was particularly interesting is that in the DICE model, everything seems to recover even in extreme scenarios.



Hot, dry, and smoky: Iconic Yellowstone has much to lose with climate change

Posted on 4 October 2021 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Kristen Pope

Home to the world’s first national park, the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) is a vast ecological powerhouse that comprises 22 million acres in three states – Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Wildlife like grizzly and black bears, wolves, elk, moose, bison, bald eagles, and even wolverines, make the area their home – as do humans.

Residents and visitors alike savor the region’s outdoor recreation opportunities, from hiking, camping, fishing, boating, sightseeing, and wildlife watching to winter sports like skiing and snowmobiling. This summer, researchers published the Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment, analyzing impacts of climate change on the entire ecosystem, including portions of six watersheds.

“Right now we have national assessments and some state assessments, like the Montana Climate Assessment, but we don’t really have climate assessments that focus on ecosystems,” says Cathy Whitlock, co-lead author of the Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment. “And, of course, Greater Yellowstone is the grand ecosystem in the country,”  

Whitlock, regents professor emerita of earth sciences at Montana State University, was the first author on the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment. She explains, “I wanted to work on an effort that would look at an ecosystem that crosses state boundaries and different jurisdictions, from federal land to private land, so that we could look at that as a coherent entity.”

University of Montana Regents Professor Emeritus Steven Running says the ecosystem-level nature of the report makes it easier for people to relate to the findings, rather than trying to understand global temperature and rainfall averages in wider reports. “I think as you get down to the region, in effect the people’s backyard, then it allows them to absorb the information better because it’s familiar to what they live in every day,” Running says.

Whitlock and co-lead author Steve Hostetler, a U.S. Geological Survey climate researcher, collaborated with a team including experts from the U.S. Geological Survey, Montana State University, University of Wyoming, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, and Mountain Works, Inc.

The scientists analyzed Greater Yellowstone Area weather station data going back to 1950 and streamflow records from as long ago as 1925. Their report focuses on how climate change is already impacting the region and what the future could hold by 2100. Projections focus on two potential greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. RCP4.5 (RCP stands for Representative Concentration Pathways) is a moderate scenario “assuming significant mitigation of emissions beginning in the next few years.” RCP8.5 demonstrates a potential future with no greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, what some call a “business as usual” approach.



2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #40

Posted on 3 October 2021 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, September 26, 2021 through Sat, October 2, 2021

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week: Ex-Fox host claims Facebook defamed him by fact-checking climate change videos (by a wide margin!), How Skepticism Can Protect You From Being FooledFighting back against climate misinformation and the damage being done, Climate change risk assessment 2021, and Ocean Conveyor Systems.

Articles Linked to on Facebook



What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

Posted on 1 October 2021 by greenman3610

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

Does the potential of small modular nuclear reactor technology make it a viable approach to helping solve climate change challenges not fully met by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar?

Experts interviewed in this Yale Climate Connections “This is Not Cool” original video in some cases hold out hope. But they also confront timing, economic, and communications obstacles that could be prohibitive.

Other Lab Chief Executive Officer Saul Griffith voices what he characterizes as “an extraordinary position … but hopefully not too extraordinary a postilion.” Nuclear energy, Griffith says, “has been pretty reliable and very safe and compared to other energy sources, all told, reasonably priced …. and good.” But he backtracks some: He readily acknowledges “huge political headwinds” and concerns about availability of adequate cooling water supplies, a view expressed also by water resources expert Peter Gleick. Griffith points to what many – among them proponents of nuclear energy – fear may be an Achilles heel: “It’s unclear if safe and reliable nuclear energy can compete with just where solar and wind are going …. That’s the reality.”

University of California Berkeley nuclear engineering professor Daniel Kammen says he’s hoping nuclear energy can fill some needs that renewables may not resolve. But he points to a stiff “learning curve.” In addition, Kammen says “There’s more work to be done on nuclear than on any other area for it to be a competitor.”



Skeptical Science New Research for Week #39, 2021

Posted on 30 September 2021 by doug_bostrom

Mann maps future inquiry from past findings

Paleoclimate and especially retrievable records of paleoclimate in the form of proxies represent a grand opportunity left us by chance. Over the course of eons Earth's climate has wandered or not so infrequently been bent and battered into various extremes. As climate influences appear then persist or fade and even vanish over the course of time they mix with other often ephemeral factors, those in their own turn on various trajectories.

As part of the geophysical hubbub of Earh's climate records of various kinds and at various scales are created, not least by biological activity. All climate  events and the paleorecords they leave behind are grand experiments on a scale we'd prefer not to dabble in, commemorated by contemporaneous "lab notes" written into the record. We end up with valuble signals that while recorded in arcane languages are available for us to read, if we only we know to look, and how.

Because the mechanisms affecting climate are differentiated in their causes and effects, given enough meticulous attention and serious effort more or less individual signatures of particular climate forcings are recoverable from what superficially appears to be an unpromising jumble but actually "only" needs careful collation.

By these means we can examine the effects of particular variables of climate forcing. In particular we can see what happens when the climate is "kicked," how it "wobbles," how quickly it finds equilibrium after a shock and how that settling point may be offset from priors. This can be precious information in the context of the climate predicament we've created.

There's arguably no person better qualified than Professor Michael Mann to produce a snapshot of where we stand with learning how to ask questions of paleoclimate data, what we've been answered so far, and what to ask next. Dr. Mann brings us up to speed on the former two items and then provides advice on where we might go next, in Beyond the hockey stick: Climate lessons from the Common Era. More specifically, Prof. Mann points out how much we have yet to learn about "dynamical mechanisms and responses" or what many of us might call "how does it wiggle if we hit it with a hammer?" Here we're not talking about a bowl of gelatin but rather Earth and major system components of Earth's climate. Paleoclimate records probably have a lot to say about this if only we know the language and can see it.

This paper's synopses of dynamic components involved with climate and leading to directions to take for further research are distinguished by lucidity of exposition and a juicy collection of references, the latter always a bonus. Dr. Mann walks us through features of Earth's climate system amenable to illumination via paleoclimate data, concluding with some refreshingly circumspect discussion of the ultimate power of paleoclimate research to help our understanding. Open access, free to read, easy to read.



How Skepticism Can Protect You From Being Fooled

Posted on 29 September 2021 by BaerbelW

TiP-LogoThis is a re-post from the Thinking is Power website maintained by Melanie Trecek-King where she regularly writes about many aspects of critical thinking in an effort to provide accessible and engaging critical thinking information to the general public. Note: This article is the second of a two-part series on “doing your own research.” To read the first article click here.

A real-life ghost story

On November 15, 1912, Mrs. H and her family moved into an old, rambling Victorian house. It had barely been occupied over the previous decade and was falling into disrepair. Lacking electricity, it was lit by gas lamps and always seemed dark. 

It was only a few days after moving in that the family started to feel a sense of depression. The house’s thick carpeting absorbed the sounds of the family and servants, and the silence was overpowering.

Skepticism Header


One morning, Mrs. H heard loud footsteps overhead, and raced up the stairs to investigate. She went room to room searching for the source of the sound, even up to the next floor…. but there was no one in that section of the house. 

Other members of the family heard sounds, too. 



Launching the Skeptical Science Fellowship

Posted on 28 September 2021 by John Cook

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Skeptical Science Fellowship. This is a program that provides training and mentoring in climate communication and debunking misinformation. Anyone who completes the program will be listed as a Skeptical Science Fellow.


How to qualify for the Fellowship

To qualify, you need a single qualification - completion of our Massive Open Online Course, Making Sense of Climate Science Denial (Denial101x). This is a free online course developed by the Skeptical Science team with the University of Queensland, that delves into the psychology of climate science denial and how to debunk misinformation. While there is a lot of valuable information throughout the six week course, of most relevance is Week 6 which explains the principles of effective debunking. You'll need to internalise these principles and apply them during the Fellowship.

Once you've completed 80% of the course's assessment, you've officially passed the course and you can apply to start the SkS Fellowship via our google form.



SkS Analogy 23 - Ferris Wheel Supply Chain

Posted on 27 September 2021 by Evan

Large-Scale Ocean Circulation

Ferris Wheels are large amusement-park rides that carry us high up to provide an unrivaled view of the surroundings. They do no useful work, and are typically driven by one or more electric motors at the base. Around and around they go in a steady, ceaseless motion. Although typical Ferris Wheels do no useful work, Ferris Wheels could be repurposed as follows.

High on a cliff is a remote resort with no road access. Although people periodically ascend to or descend from the remote resort by other means, a steady stream of heat, fresh water, and food must be continuously supplied to the remote resort. A Ferris Wheel is mounted at the base of the cliff near a geothermal vent that provides a constant source of hot air. Nearby springs provide a supply of fresh water. Food is shipped in from a nearby town.

The gondolas of the Ferris Wheel have envelopes attached above them. As the gondolas pass over the geothermal vent, hot air rises, filling the envelope and pulling the gondolas upward. Fresh water and food are continuously loaded onto the gondolas as they pass by at the base of the cliff. At the top of the cliff, the hot air is removed from the balloons and used to heat the resort. The fresh water and food on the gondolas are automatically removed and replaced with waste water.

The hot air in the balloons pulls the water and food upward to the resort. Waste water from the resort loaded on the descending side of the Ferris Wheel pull it downwards. The combined upward and downward forces keep the Ferris Wheel constantly turning, providing a never-ending stream of heat, food, and water to the remote resort. The key driving element is that the air is more buoyant on one side of the wheel than on the other: the buoyancy difference drives the Ferris Wheel.

The natural world also has mechanisms for continually transporting energy, oxygen, and nutrients to places where they’re needed, because a regular flow of energy, fresh water, and nutrients is needed for healthy life. Most lakes turn over twice each year because water is denser at 4°C than at temperatures higher or lower than this. Buoyancy-driven lake turnover twice/year brings oxygen from the surface to the bottom, so that life is sustained throughout the entire depths of the lake.

The oceans contain similar mechanisms of constant motion and change. Referred to by some as “Ocean conveyor systems”, the familiar Gulf Stream is but one part of an oceanic river that moves oxygen, energy, and nutrients from one place to another. First discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513, the Gulf Stream was first charted by Benjamin Franklin in the early 1770’s, as depicted in this chart he made (see Fig. 1).

Map of Gulf Stream drawn by Benjamin Franklin.

Figure 1. NOAA. “Who First Charted the Gulf Stream?” National Ocean Service website, accessed on 9/18/21 (NOAA).



2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #39

Posted on 26 September 2021 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, September 19, 2021 through Sat, September 25, 2021

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week: The false promise of massive tree-planting campaigns, Can the economy afford NOT to fight climate change?, Will we ever believe in climate change?, and Michael E. Mann: How ‘inactivists’ have quietly perpetuated climate change denial.

Articles Linked to on Facebook



To meet America’s Paris pledge, climate policy Avengers must assemble

Posted on 24 September 2021 by dana1981

This is a re-post from the Citizens' Climate Lobby Blog

To meet our share of greenhouse gas emissions cuts as part of the Paris target to limit global warming to well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, the United States has committed to cutting emissions by 50–52% below 2005 levels by 2030. Thanks to increasingly clean electricity generation, America has already made some progress toward this goal, currently sitting at about 15–20% below 2005 levels, but that still leaves a long way to go without a lot of time left to clean up our act.

That’s why the budget reconciliation package currently under consideration by Congress is so critically important. According to a new analysis from Resources from the Future (RFF), an independent and nonprofit research institution, simply continuing current climate policies would leave the U.S. more than halfway short of its Paris contribution, at just 23% below 2005 emissions levels in 2030. RFF and Rhodium Group, another independent research organization, both analyzed how close some of the major climate policies currently under consideration by Congress would bring the U.S. to its Paris pledge.

The evaluated policies

Both groups evaluated the clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits and incentives as well as the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) included in the outlined legislation. The CEPP as currently drafted by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce (the Senate has yet to weigh in) would offer financial grants to utilities that increase their annual share of clean electricity by at least 4% and charge fines to those who miss that goal. 

Rhodium’s analysis also incorporated the proposed fee on methane pollution from oil and gas operations, as well as funding for agricultural and forestry programs that achieve carbon removal through soil conservation and reforestation.

In addition to tax incentives and the CEPP, RFF also evaluated the carbon fee under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee in its analysis. The committee’s proposed carbon price would begin at $15 per ton of carbon dioxide generated from burning fossil fuels and rise at an unspecified rate. RFF mainly focused on a scenario in which the carbon price rises slowly at first (by $1 per ton 2024 then $2 in 2025, $3 in 2026, $4 in 2027, then $5 in 2028) before increasing by $10 per ton per year starting in 2029, at that point mirroring annual carbon price increase in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. In a secondary scenario, RFF considered a carbon price starting at $15 per ton in 2023 and rising slowly at 5% per year.



Skeptical Science New Research for Week #38, 2021

Posted on 23 September 2021 by doug_bostrom

89 articles by 535 contributing authors

Observations of climate change, effects

Rainfall regime trends at annual and monthly scales in Catalonia (NE Spain) and indications of CO2 emissions effects
Lana et al. Theoretical and Applied Climatology
Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00704-021-03773-z

Trends and Variability of North American Cool-Season Extratropical Cyclones: 1979–2019
Fritzen et al. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology

Cleaner air reveals growing influence of climate on dissolved organic carbon trends in northern headwaters
de Wit et al. Environmental Research Letters
Open Access 10.1088/1748-9326/ac2526

Loss of ice cover, shifting phenology, and more extreme events in Northern Hemisphere lakes
Sharma et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

Rapid changes to glaciers increased the outburst flood risk in Guangxieco Proglacial Lake in the Kangri Karpo Mountains, Southeast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
Che et al. Natural Hazards

A long-term perspective of hydroclimatological impacts of tropical cyclones on regional heavy precipitation over eastern monsoon China
Wei et al. Atmospheric Research

Global Patterns of Hottest, Coldest, and Extreme Diurnal Variability on Earth
Zhao et al. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Open Access pdf 10.1175/bams-d-20-0325.1

Monthly river temperature trends across the US confound annual changes
Kelleher et al. Environmental Research Letters
Open Access 10.1088/1748-9326/ac2289



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