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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, discourses of climate delay, and climate solutions denial.

 


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #25 2024

Posted on 20 June 2024 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Open access notables

Climate Change Is Leading to a Convergence of Global Climate Distribution, Li et al., Geophysical Research Letters:

The impact of changes in global temperatures and precipitation on climate distribution remains unclear. Taking the annual global average temperatures and precipitation as the origin, this study determined the climate distribution with the distances of temperature and precipitation from their global averages as the X and Y axes. The results showed that during 1980–2019, the global temperature distribution converged toward the mean (convergence), while the precipitation distribution moved away from the mean (divergence). The combined effects of both led to a convergence in the global climate distribution.

Understanding Full-Depth Steric Sea Level Change in the Southwest Pacific Basin Using Deep Argo, Lele & Purkey, Geophysical Research Letters:

Cold, dense waters formed near polar regions in both hemispheres, sink to great depths and fill-up the majority of the world's deep ocean. Compilation of sparse observations of temperature from global ship-based surveys at roughly 10-year intervals worldwide have shown that sequestration of excess atmospheric heat into the deep ocean has caused these waters to warm steadily since the 1990's into the Present. Not only does this warming have implications for changes in large scale ocean circulation, but is also associated with warming-induced sea level rise. Using a new data set collected between 2014 and 2023 from 55 freely drifting robotic floats (Deep Argo) which gather crucial bimonthly temperature and salinity data between the surface ocean and the ocean floor, we find the greatest warming trend at a depth of 5,000 m of 4 ± 0.3 m°C yr−1 and an associated sea level rise rate below 2,000 m of 1.3 ± 1.6 mm dec−1. Deep Argo data being collected in ocean basins worldwide are crucial in providing high resolution data of the warming deep ocean and its implications on global sea level, ocean mixing and large-scale ocean circulation.

Radiative forcing geoengineering under high CO2 levels leads to higher risk of Arctic wildfires and permafrost thaw than a targeted mitigation scenario, Müller et al., Communications Earth & Environment:

Here we use an Earth System Model to analyse the response in Arctic temperatures to radiative geoengineering applied under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 to decrease the radiative forcing to that achieved under the representative concentration pathway 4.5. The three methods Stratospheric Aerosol Injection, Marine Cloud Brightening, and Cirrus Cloud Thinning, mitigate the global mean temperature rise, however, under our experimental designs, the projected Arctic temperatures are higher than if the same temperature was achieved under emission mitigation. The maximum temperature increase under Cirrus Cloud Thinning and Marine Cloud Brightening is linked to carbon dioxide plant physiological forcing, shifting the system into climatic conditions favouring the development of fires. Under Stratospheric Aerosol Injection, the Arctic land with temperatures permanently below freezing decreased by 7.8% compared to the representative concentration pathway 4.5. This study concludes that these specific radiative forcing geoengineering designs induce less efficient cooling of the Arctic than the global mean and worsen extreme conditions compared to the representative concentration pathway 4.5.

Discourses of climate inaction undermine public support for 1.5 °C lifestyles, Cherry et al., Global Environmental Change:

Urgent action to tackle the climate crisis will only be possible with significant public support for radical lifestyle change. Arguments that seek to delay climate action and justify inadequate mitigation efforts, often termed ‘discourses of delay’, are widespread within political and media debate on climate change. Here we report the results of novel public deliberation and visioning workshops, conducted across the UK in 2020/2021 to explore visions of a 1.5 °C future. We found that despite very strong public support for many low-carbon lifestyle strategies in principle, entrenched discourses of delay are limiting beliefs that a fair, low-carbon future is possible. Consisting of four overarching narratives of climate inaction (Resisting personal responsibility; Rejecting the need for urgency; Believing change is impossible; and Defending the social contract), this public discourse of delay is characterised by three distinct repertoires (each with its own emotional resonance), that act to weaken support for climate action by producing defensive responses to discussions of low-carbon lifestyle change and undermining public sense of agency. 

Growing deviations between elite and non-elite media coverage of climate change in the United States, Bolstad & Victor, Climatic Change:

Nearly all prior media studies focus on the United States and on a small number of elite news sources, notably the national newspapers of record. To widen the aperture, we take advantage of a database (MediaCloud) that covers a much larger array of print and word media: 168 million articles about all subjects, derived from 9000 unique U.S. news sources. Coverage of climate change from the “heartland” sources—dominated by state and local news outlets far from the headquarters of national newspapers of record—has risen 144% from 2011 until 2022. Elite news coverage, however, has risen at twice that pace (299%). Over time, the propensity to cover climate change has diverged. In 2011 there were 104 days when the heartland news sources had more coverage of climate change than elite news outlets such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. By 2022 there were only 11 such days. That year, elite news outlets produced roughly three times the coverage of climate change as heartland news outlets. We also find some differences in the topics covered by these two categories of news sources. Such disparities in the intensity of attention to climate change, along with apparently more subtle variations in topical coverage, are variations that deserve future explanation. They are also a reminder that analysis of climate coverage should choose data sources with care since the narrative around what the public is learning about climate appears to vary substantially between heartland and elite new sources.

Towards effective implementation of the energy efficiency first principle: a theory-based classification and analysis of policy instruments, Mandel & Pató, Energy Research & Social Science:

The energy efficiency first (EE1st) principle, embedded in the European Union's (EU) recast Energy Efficiency Directive, aims to prioritise cost-effective energy efficiency solutions over new energy supply infrastructure. These solutions encompass not only end-use energy efficiency, but also, notably, demand-side flexibility. This research bridges the gap between the theoretical underpinnings of the principle and practical policy implementation. Drawing on market failure theory, it identifies an inherent bias in EU energy markets in favour of energy supply infrastructure. By highlighting the correction of market failures – from externalities to transaction costs – through targeted policy instruments, it presents a theoretical policy intervention logic for EE1st. Based on this, it offers a set of twenty-nine established and emerging policy instruments linked to specific market failures, thus providing a systematic roadmap for EE1st application. The study concludes that levelling the playing field between energy efficiency and energy supply requires a broad policy response.

Phase synchronization between culture and climate forcing, Timmermann et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences:

Over the history of humankind, cultural innovations have helped improve survival and adaptation to environmental stress. This has led to an overall increase in human population size, which in turn further contributed to cumulative cultural learning. During the Anthropocene, or arguably even earlier, this positive sociodemographic feedback has caused a strong decline in important resources that, coupled with projected future transgression of planetary boundaries, may potentially reverse the long-term trend in population growth. Here, we present a simple consumer/resource model that captures the coupled dynamics of stochastic cultural learning and transmission, population growth and resource depletion in a changing environment. The idealized stochastic mathematical model simulates boom/bust cycles between low-population subsistence, high-density resource exploitation and subsequent population decline. For slow resource recovery time scales and in the absence of climate forcing, the model predicts a long-term global population collapse. 

From this week's government and NGO section:

Climate Change in the American Mind: Politics & Policy, Spring 2024Leiserowitz et al., Yale University and George Mason University:

The survey was fielded from April 25 – May 4, 2024. 62% of registered voters would prefer to vote for a candidate for public office who supports action on global warming. This includes 97% of liberal Democrats, 81% of moderate/conservative Democrats, 62% of Independents, and 47% of liberal/moderate Republicans, but only 17% of conservative Republicans. About four in ten registered voters (39%) say a candidate’s position on global warming will be “very important” when they decide who they will vote for in the 2024 presidential election. Of 28 issues asked about, global warming is the 19th most highly ranked voting issue among registered voters (based on the percentage saying it is “very important”). When then asked to choose their most important voting issue, three percent of registered voters chose global warming, making it the 12th highest-ranked most important issue.

Opposition to Renewable Energy Facilities in the United States: June 2024 EditionEisenson, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

Although many renewable energy facilities are sited without any problem, local opposition often arises. The authors document local and state restrictions against, and opposition to, siting renewable energy projects, as well as energy storage and transmission projects that are closely tied to renewable energy generation. The period covered by this report ranges from as early as 1995 to December 31, 2023. The authors do not make normative judgments as to the legal merits of individual cases or the policy preferences reflected in local opponents’ advocacy, nor as to where any one facility should or should not be sited. Nonetheless, the volume and nature of the restrictions and controversies cataloged demonstrate that local opposition to renewable energy facilities is widespread and growing and that it represents a potentially significant impediment to the achievement of climate goals.

144 articles in 62 journals by 826 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

An analytic theory for the degree of Arctic Amplification, Zhou et al., Nature Communications Open Access 10.1038/s41467-024-48469-w

Changes in the tropical upper-tropospheric zonal momentum balance due to global warming, Thakur & Sukhatme, Weather and Climate Dynamics Open Access 10.5194/wcd-5-839-2024

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Climate Adam: Why we're still losing the fight against Methane

Posted on 19 June 2024 by Guest Author

This video includes conclusions of the creator climate scientist Dr. Adam Levy. It is presented to our readers as an informed perspective. Please see video description for references (if any).

Carbon dioxide is the main culprit behind climate change. But in second place is methane: a greenhouse gas stronger than CO2, that's wreaking havoc on our planet. Humans are polluting the atmosphere with methane from a whole host of processes - like fossil fuels, farming, trash. But cutting these methane emissions would be a huge (and easy!) win. So why are emissions of this global warming driving greenhouse gas still going up?

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

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At a glance - Was 1934 the hottest year on record?

Posted on 18 June 2024 by John Mason, BaerbelW, Ken Rice

On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a "bump" for our ask. This week features "Was 1934 the hottest year on record?". More will follow in the upcoming weeks. Please follow the Further Reading link at the bottom to read the full rebuttal and to join the discussion in the comment thread there.

Fact-Myth-Box

At a glance

Let's not shy away from the fact that in the contiguous United States, the year 1934 was particularly warm. It was among a cluster of years marked by the notorious droughts known as the 'Dust Bowl' years, during which huge dust-storms were frequent and did great damage to the soils of the Prairies.

But how significant is 1934 in the bigger, global picture? Let's take a look.

The background to this tale involves the NASA GISS temperature dataset. In August 2007, blogger Steven MacIntryre noticed a series of sudden temperature leaps in that dataset. They had occurred early in the year 2000, leading some to speculate that the Y2K computer bug must have been behind them.

NASA investigated. The data used for the NASA GISS record are from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA had adjusted the data to filter out spurious excess warming. Sources of such biases are well-known. They include time of observation, non-ideal siting of weather-stations, relocation of them and urban heat island effects.

The specific error was nothing to do with Y2K. It was simply that, from January 2000, NASA were mistakenly using unadjusted data, so all those spurious anomalies were still in there and it looked warmer than it should.

Nobody's perfect and that includes scientists, but science is a self-correcting process. Errors that do occur are corrected when found. Correcting this specific error meant that some six years of temperature data had to be adjusted downwards. That meant that the order of the warmest years was also affected and after adjustment, 1934 and its Dust Bowl heat once again stood out prominently.

That's what happened back then, in a nutshell. Now to look at 1934 in context, with the added benefit of another 17 years of hindsight, of course.

Firstly, the corrected temperature record covered only the Lower 48 - the states of the USA excluding Alaska and Hawaii - where 1934 was indeed a very hot year. Zooming out of the USA - making up around 2% of the world's surface - to the whole globe, however, shows that 1934 was in fact a rather chilly year. In order to understand what's happening to global temperatures, the whole globe - the other 98% - also needs to be considered, year in year out.

Secondly, it may have been possible to attempt crudely dressing-up 1934 as another 'final nail' in the 'global warming coffin' in 2007, but no longer. If you now look at the global league-table of warmest years, the ten hottest of them have occurred since 2010, with 2023 being just the latest record-breaker.

The year 1934 was a very warm one in the United States. No-one disputes that. In fact, it's meteorologically quite interesting. The Dust Bowl years are thought to have been at least partly human-caused - by poor agricultural land-management. But the way temperatures have gone now, 1934 is merely of local, historic importance: a curio to look back at from time to time - and a warning to look after your topsoil!

Please use this form to provide feedback about this new "At a glance" section. Read a more technical version below or dig deeper via the tabs above!


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Yale Climate Connections compares US presidential candidates on climate

Posted on 17 June 2024 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Barbara Grady and touches on climate matters connected with current events in US politics. Skeptical Science is prohibited from offering political endorsements of any kind, but our mission is to connect readers with facts in connection with anthropogenic climate change. The respective platforms of the two candidates discussed here are subject to dispassionate analysis based on factual underpinnings, inventoried by this article. Neither this article nor Skeptical Science endorse any candidate, but we do seek to educate readers about facts in connection with climate change. As can be seen here, these facts inexorably end up connected with public policy and thus politics.

photos of Trump and Biden superimposed on images of wind turbines and a satellite image of a hurricaneIllustration by Samantha Harrington. Photo credits: Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, European Space Agency.

In an empty wind-swept field in Richmond, California, next to the county landfill, a company called RavenSr has plotted out land and won permits to build a factory to convert landfill waste to transportation-grade hydrogen for powering vehicles. Six miles away, Moxion Power has laid the concrete foundation for a factory to make energy storage batteries for freight trucks and mobile uses.

RavenSR and Moxion Power are among more than 300 companies across the U.S. launching clean energy manufacturing projects with the help of tax incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act. Meanwhile, consumers have used the law’s tax credits to purchase 1.46 million climate-friendly electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell cars.

The most far-reaching climate law in history, the Inflation Reduction Act is catalyzing a transition in the U.S. economy toward cleaner energy and cleaner transportation — a shift the International Energy Agency, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and others say must happen for the world to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases to the levels scientists say would avert the most catastrophic and irreversible climate chaos.

Those safeguard levels are a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 from 2010 levels and net zero emissions by 2050 to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius — a target that 195 countries agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Biden administration’s Department of Energy estimates that the Inflation Reduction Act along with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will drive down U.S. emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030, a conclusion also reached in an independent study in Science.

Combined with new Environmental Protection Agency rules restricting tailpipe emissions from future trucks and cars, limiting power plant emissions, and requiring capping of methane leaks from oil and gas exploration, as well as state and private sector action, the U.S. is on track to reduce emissions 50% by 2030, the Department of Energy forecasts.

But what happens if these climate laws are gutted or reversed?

2030 is less than six years away. What happens in the next four of them will affect our chances of avoiding the worst climate chaos, experts say.

That’s why 2024 is a climate election.

“Why this election is so important and why it is a climate election is because we are out of time,” said Lori Lodes, executive director and co-founder of Climate Power, a nonprofit working on protecting climate policy, speaking to reporters recently. 

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2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #24

Posted on 16 June 2024 by BaerbelW, Doug Bostrom, John Hartz

A listing of 35 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 9, 2024 thru Sat, June 15, 2024.

Story of the week

A glance at this week's inventory of what experts tell us is extreme weather mayhem juiced by climate change points us in the general direction of our Story of the Week. Writing for Carbon Brief,  climate researcher Zeke Hausfather puts our historically unprecedented globally high surface temperature into the larger picture of human-caused climate change, in his analysis What record global heat means for breaching the 1.5C warming limit

Have we "reached 1.5C" with no looking back? Depending on data sets we've now flirted with or even kissed this temperature— but we're not yet living with it full time. Hausfather explains why we're not there yet. As part of that he delves into the rather tricky business of identifying exactly when we'll unequivocally crashed through this iconic number. The answer is "it depends," but regardless of measurement methods and reasoning we will definitely arrive at this destination.

1.5C in the rear view mirror: soon, or later? That's partly a matter of perspective. Dr. Hausfather is quite a bit younger than anybody working on our weekly news roundup, so we can't help but chuckle a little at this conclusion:

The findings show that, while the best estimate for crossing 1.5C has moved up by approximately two years compared to Carbon Brief’s earlier 2020 analysis, it remains most likely to happen in the late 2020s or early 2030s – rather than in the next few years.

For us ancients for whom 2015 seems a mere blink of the eye ago, "the next few years" definitely includes the early 2030s. From our viewpoint we're practically already there. In any case, regardless of the subjective nature of time we're running out of calendar pages to deal with our problem.

Stories we promoted this week, by publication date:

Before June 9

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Fact Brief - Is ocean acidification from human activities enough to impact marine ecosystems?

Posted on 15 June 2024 by SkS-Team

FactBriefSkeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by Sue Bin Park in collaboration with members from the Skeptical Science team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline.

Is ocean acidification from human activities enough to impact marine ecosystems?

YesCarbon dioxide emissions from human activities are acidifying oceans, disrupting marine ecosystems by dissolving the shells and skeletons of certain organisms.

The ocean absorbs at least 25% of the CO2 released in the atmosphere. CO2 reacts with ocean water (H2O) to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), which releases acidifying hydrogen ions (H+).

Ocean acidification is when the pH level of ocean water decreases due to an increase in hydrogen ions.

Hydrogen ions bind to carbonate, making it more difficult for plankton, coral, and other organisms to build their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons.

Because these organisms serve as food and habitat for other marine life, their decline threatens ocean food chains, and by extension human populations that depend on fisheries.

Since humans began burning fossil fuels around 200 years ago, the oceans have become 30% more acidic — a more rapid change than at any time in the last 50 million years.

Go to full rebuttal on Skeptical Science or to the fact brief on Gigafact


This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Sources

Encyclopædia Britannica PH | Definition, Uses, & Facts

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration What is Ocean Acidification?

European Environment Agency Ocean acidification

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Of red flags and warning signs in comments on social media

Posted on 14 June 2024 by BaerbelW

Somewhat surprisingly for what is regarded as a network of professionals, climate science misinformation is getting shared on LinkedIn, joining other channels where this is happening. Several of our recent posts published on LinkedIn have attracted the ire of various commenters who apparently are in denial about human-caused climate change. Based on their and other such comments, we compiled a list of telltale signs to be on the lookout for when reading posts or comments related to human-caused climate change or global warming on LinkedIn, other social media channels and even our own comment section. We hope you find this list helpful as the pointers can serve as warning flags to take a closer look before deciding whether to ignore or accept what has been written.


  • The scientific consensus on human-caused global warming is questioned or even attacked outright, even though the basic statements that global warming is real and is mostly caused by humans due to the continued burning of fossil fuels can be called a settled fact - the facts are at least more than settled enough to base our decisions on. Legit discussions can obviously happen about what we should do. For more, please read our explainer about a scientific consensus.

    Several studies have shown - depending on what you look at - that the level of agreement in the scientific literature and amongst climate scientist about the major points ranges from 91-100%  - usually in the high 90s.When reading comments that provide references, readers should keep in mind that finding references from the 1-3% while ignoring the other 97-99% is a prime example of "cherry picking".

Consensus studies

  • Reactions via the „laugh“ icon on serious topics like human-caused climate change could either have happened accidentally (unlikely) or be a sign that the commenter doesn‘t quite (want to) grasp or accept scientific findings on the topic (quite likely).
  • Comments making claims which seem to contradict our large list of rebuttals will in most likelihood be wrong or misleading or will not rely on scientific research published in high-quality peer-reviewed journals. If in doubt, please head over to sks.to/arguments and check for yourself.
  • Comments rattling off many long-debunked myths - i.e. gish-gallops - have the sole aim to waste everybody's time and confuse people. They are best ignored.

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #24 2024

Posted on 13 June 2024 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Open access notables

Wildfire smoke impacts lake ecosystems, Farruggia et al., Global Change Biology:

We introduce the concept of the lake smoke-day, or the number of days any given lake is exposed to smoke in any given fire season, and quantify the total lake smoke-day exposure in North America from 2019 to 2021. Because smoke can be transported at continental to intercontinental scales, even regions that may not typically experience direct burning of landscapes by wildfire are at risk of smoke exposure. We found that 99.3% of North America was covered by smoke, affecting a total of 1,333,687 lakes ≥10 ha. An incredible 98.9% of lakes experienced at least 10 smoke-days a year, with 89.6% of lakes receiving over 30 lake smoke-days, and lakes in some regions experiencing up to 4 months of cumulative smoke-days. Herein we review the mechanisms through which smoke and ash can affect lakes by altering the amount and spectral composition of incoming solar radiation and depositing carbon, nutrients, or toxic compounds that could alter chemical conditions and impact biota. 

From Denial to the Culture Wars: A Study of Climate Misinformation on YouTube, de Nadal, Environmental Communication:

Climate change is becoming a new front in the culture wars, with YouTube as one of its key arenas. Centered on an “Alternative Influence Network” orbiting Spain’s right-wing populist party Vox, this article examines the underexplored role of YouTube political influencers in propagating climate misinformation. Using thematic analysis, it uncovers instances of “post-denial” narratives that accept the reality of climate change while targeting climate policy and the climate movement, often through conspiracy theories and misogynistic rhetoric. Disagreements extend beyond policy specifics, intertwining with ongoing culture wars against a “woke wave” encompassing feminism, anti-racism, and now environmentalism. Amidst escalating opposition to Net Zero policies, the study sheds light on how these climate narratives reinforce “us” vs “them” binaries and appeal to feelings of resentment among young white males disoriented by rapid cultural change, who increasingly turn to YouTube for news and community.

Climate changes and food-borne pathogens: the impact on human health and mitigation strategy, Awad et al., Climatic Change:

The impact of climate change on food-borne pathogens is multifaceted and includes changes in the environment, agriculture, and human behavior. This review article examines the effect of climate change on food-borne pathogens, explores the connection between climate change and food-borne illness, records the current evidence on the effects of climate change on food-borne pathogens and potential consequences for human health, highlights knowledge gaps and areas for further research, and summarizes the strategies for mitigation and adaptation. 

Uncertain Pathways to a Future Safe Climate, Sherwood et al., Earth's Future:

Global climate change is often thought of as a steady and approximately predictable physical response to increasing forcings, which then requires commensurate adaptation. But adaptation has practical, cultural and biological limits, and climate change may pose unanticipated global hazards, sudden changes or other surprises–as may societal adaptation and mitigation responses. These poorly known factors could substantially affect the urgency of mitigation as well as adaptation decisions. We outline a strategy for better accommodating these challenges by making climate science more integrative, in order to identify and quantify known and novel physical risks including those arising from interactions with ecosystems and society. We need to do this even–or especially–when they are highly uncertain, and to explore risks and opportunities associated with mitigation and adaptation responses by engaging across disciplines. We argue that upcoming climate assessments need to be more risk-aware, and suggest ways of achieving this.

From this week's government and NGO section:

Navigating the Transition to Net-zero Emissions in Southeast Asia – Energy Security, the Role of Gaseous Energy Carriers and Renewables-based ElectrificationFekete et al., German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action:

The authors emphasize that rapid expansion of renewable electricity and electrification of energy end users is essential, not only to achieve climate mitigation targets but also to boost energy security and economic development across Southeast Asia. Focusing on Indonesia, Thailand, Viet Nam, and the Philippines the authors analyze net-zero pathways under two different decarbonization scenarios – one centered on reducing fossil fuel use through the deep electrification of energy demand, and the other achieving these reductions through the use of renewable gases such as hydrogen.

The Incredible Inefficiency of the Fossil Energy SystemWalter et al., RMI:

Today’s fossil energy system is incredibly inefficient: almost two-thirds of all primary energy is wasted in energy production, transportation, and use, before fossil fuel has done any work or produced any benefit. That means over $4.6 trillion per year, almost 5% of global GDP and 40% of what we spend on energy, goes up in smoke due to fossil inefficiency. Literally. The winds are changing, though, as fossil technologies are undercut by more efficient alternatives. End-use efficiency is driving out fossil fuels, reinforced by three new tailwinds that upend the energy landscape: renewable electricity, localization, and electrification. These drivers will allow us to drastically cut down on energy waste and phase out fossil fuels.

140 articles in 59 journals by 851 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Changes in Compound Hot Extremes over the Mid–High Latitudes of Asia and the Underlying Mechanisms, Jiang et al., Journal of Climate 10.1175/jcli-d-23-0502.1

Observations of climate change, effects

Air–sea heat fluxes variations in the Southern Atlantic Ocean: Present-day and future climate scenarios, Moura et al., International Journal of Climatology 10.1002/joc.8517

Analysis of tropical nights in Spain (1970–2023): Minimum temperatures as an indicator of climate change, Correa et al., International Journal of Climatology Open Access pdf 10.1002/joc.8510

Disastrous effects of climate change on High Mountain Asia, Cui et al., Advances in Climate Change Research Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2024.06.004

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Fossil fuels are shredding our democracy

Posted on 12 June 2024 by Guest Author

This is a re-post of an article from the Climate Brink by Andrew Dessler published on June 3, 2024.

I have an oped in the New York Times (gift link) about this. For a long time, a common refrain about the energy transition was that renewable energy needed to become cheaper before it could replace fossil fuels. That milestone has now been reached, with solar and wind power often costing less than oil, gas, and coal.

This is especially true if you add in the external costs of fossil fuels, such as the costs of air pollution that kills millions of people each year and the costs of fossil fuels contributing to geopolitical instability.

However, instead of the market naturally transitioning to these cheaper and cleaner energy sources, fossil fuel companies are leveraging their enormous political influence to hinder this shift. They employ tactics such as lobbying, spreading disinformation, and funding politicians who support fossil fuels, all in an effort to maintain their dominance and profits in the energy market.

Opinion Title

My NYT piece focused on disinformation, but this is just a small piece of the picture — there is a lot more going on than I could fit into a 1,000-word op-ed.

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At a glance - Does positive feedback necessarily mean runaway warming?

Posted on 11 June 2024 by John Mason, BaerbelW, Ken Rice

On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a "bump" for our ask. This week features "Does positive feedback necessarily mean runaway warming?". More will follow in the upcoming weeks. Please follow the Further Reading link at the bottom to read the full rebuttal and to join the discussion in the comment thread there.

Fact-Myth-Box

At a glance

Yet another climate change myth that has not aged well. As of early May 2024, all of the past 12 months had come in at more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, so all of the first sentence is now tripe.

However, with regard to the rest of the myth, the evidence suggests it is extremely unlikely that Earth can enter a runaway greenhouse state.

Why is that? We have two good lines of evidence to support the contention. Firstly, we know an awful lot these days about the geography and climate of Earth in the past. Ancient geography can be determined by examining rock sequences on the continents and noting similarities in their fossil faunas, sedimentary environments and ancient magnetism.

So we know, for example, that around 55.8 million years ago, Ellesmere Island, off the NW coast of Greenland, was a lot warmer than it is today. The main geographical difference between then and now was that the Atlantic Ocean was narrower. The faunal difference was a lot more impressive. Where there are now glaciers and polar bears, back then tortoises, snakes and alligators thrived. Their fossils, along with those of redwood, ginkgo, elm and walnut, are to be found in Ellesmere Island's sedimentary rocks.

The time in question is known as the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. As the name suggests, it was probably the hottest climate experienced on Earth in the past 600 million years. To get temperate to subtropical temperatures in the Arctic is indeed impressive. But there was no runaway beyond that. Why?

Trapping of heat by CO2 and other greenhouse gases causes an energy imbalance on Earth. This imbalance gets amplified by positive feedbacks. A positive feedback happens when the planetary response to a change serves to amplify that change. For example, due to burning of fossil fuels, atmospheric CO2 has gone up by 50%. The resulting enhanced greenhouse effect is heating up the planet. The heating, among other things, melts arctic permafrost, releasing the CO2 and methane trapped within it. These gases amplify that initial change. The effect reinforces the cause, which will in turn further increase the effect, which in turn will reinforce the cause… and on and on.

So won't this spin out of control? The answer is almost certainly not. Feedbacks are not just positive. One very important one is that a warmer planet radiates more energy out to space than a cooler one. This feedback is not only negative but it is also strong.

Furthermore, positive feedback cycles will go on and on, but there will be a diminishing of returns, so that after a number of cycles the effects become insignificant. Thus, if we double the atmospheric concentration of CO2, the amount by which the response to that change - heating - can be amplified is approximately three times.

The creator and spreader of this particular myth is essentially putting words in people's mouths. No surprise there. But we do not need a runaway greenhouse effect to make life on Earth difficult. Just a few degrees of additional heating will do exactly that.

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Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths

Posted on 10 June 2024 by Guest Author

This is a repost from a Yale Climate Connections article by SueEllen Campbell published on June 3, 2024. The articles listed can help you tell fact from fiction when it comes to solar and wind energy.

Some statements you hear about solar and wind energy are just plain false. Some are a little bit true but so unbalanced, incomplete, and out of context that they might as well be false. And some tap into genuine complexities. When the facts are complicated, nuanced, mutable, or otherwise hard to pin down, statements may mislead (both deliberately and accidentally) by oversimplification. 

The links below are primarily about the first two categories, that is, wholly or mostly false statements. 

Myths about wind and solar

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2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23

Posted on 9 June 2024 by BaerbelW, Doug Bostrom, John Hartz

A listing of 32 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 2, 2024 thru Sat, June 8, 2024.

Story of the week

Our Story of the Week is Yale Climate Connection's Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths, by Sueellen Campbell. Without a lot of fuss and bother Campbell's article inventories silly myths about modernized (aka "renewable") energy sources and cuts directly to the chase for each with a ink to clarifying information from reliable sources. Topics covered include:

  • Wind turbine noise
  • Bird mortality caused by wind turbines
  • Whale mortality caused by wind turbines
  • Cancer caused by wind turbines
  • The environmental footprint of resources for updated energy sources
  • Electromagnetic health effects of solar farms
  • Solar power as a threat to farmland
  • Intermittency of wind and solar power

A few of these have some basis in fact. Others are complete inventions of imagination with no basis in reality whatsoever. All share in common calculated emotional appeal, synthesized in hope of generating public fear, rejection and— the real objective— profitable public policy procrastination.

Our legacy energy system based on fossil fuel has vastly larger negative impacts, yet fossil fuel's continued growth mostly flies beneath the public radar. High profile projects such as Keystone XL may encounter signifcant negative publicity, but for the most part the industry carries on in relative serenity. Regardless of all of the obvious downsides of sticking with this primitive system, the sheer momentum of more than a hundred years of habit lends an eerie sort of inexorability of increased commitment to the identifed folly of our caveman-grade combustion lifestyle.

How may this be? We find some details in Pam Radtke's article published in floodlight, a journal with the self-described mission of "investigating the powers that stall climate action."  Is US offshore wind dead in the water — or just poised for the next big gust? certainly does that, describing sophisticated regulatory capture by the fossil fuel industry leading to legally mandated paralysis of energy modernization. This is of course made easier when a public confused by misinformation cannot pass clear messages of preferences to polticians in charge of public policy. The only way out of this impasse is to be less confused, which leads us back to our story of the week. Facts at our fingertips are our way forward, and there they are!

Stories we promoted this week, by publication date:

Before June 2

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Fact Brief - Is the ocean acidifying?

Posted on 8 June 2024 by SkS-Team

FactBriefSkeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by John Mason in collaboration with members from the Gigafact team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline.

Is the ocean acidifying?

YesAcidification of oceans simply means a reduction in their pH outside of normal values.

The pH scale measures acidity and alkalinity of water-based solutions. It runs from 0 (highly acidic) through 7 (neutral) to 14 (highly alkaline). Any reduction in pH value, in the direction of 0, is acidification. The oceans acidify whenever they become less alkaline, regardless of whether their pH declines below 7.

A good analogy for acidification can be found with the way we talk about temperatures. If the pH of a solution shifts from 8.1 to 7.9, that is acidification, even though the solution remains slightly alkaline. In the same way, if the temperature rises from -40°C to -15°C, it has definitely warmed up, even though it's still freezing cold.

Since the Industrial Revolution, ocean pH has declined from 8.2 to 8.1 — a 30% increase in acidity.

Go to full rebuttal on Skeptical Science or to the fact brief on Gigafact


This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Sources

Smithsonian Ocean Ocean Acidification

Encyclopædia Britannica PH | Definition, Uses, & Facts

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration What is Ocean Acidification?

European Environment Agency Ocean acidification

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The Cranky Uncle game can now also be played in Romanian!

Posted on 7 June 2024 by BaerbelW

As of May 31, 2024, the Cranky Uncle game is available in English, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Swedish, Turkish, Albanian, Macedonian, Finnish and Romanian. It can be played on iOS or Android devices as well as in the browser. More languages are already in the queue and this blog post will be updated whenever a new language gets launched. In addition, there may be language specific announcements linked via the flag-icons at the top. These will be created by the translator teams and will most likely go into more language specific details or explain some particularly tricky or interesting translation challenges.

New languages and features

May 2024: for version 3.8 we added Romanian to the Cranky Uncle game which can now be played in 13 languages! In addition, some features from Cranky Uncle Vaccine have been made available over the last months. There's now a "back button" to navigate back to an earlier screen and the "onboarding" will happen before the initial option to participate in the research.

Language Flags

December 2023: for version 3.4 we added Finnish to the Cranky Uncle game which can now be played in 12 languages!

July 2023: for version 3.3. we added Albanian and Macedonian to the Cranky Uncle game which can now be played in 11 languages! Cranky Uncle is for sure a polyglot by now!

April 2023: for version 3.2 we added Turkish to the Cranky Uncle game which can now be played in 9 languages! In addition, we added a page to list the Cranky resources available in different languages, which may come in handy for presentations and/or workshops.

December 2022: for version 3.1 we added French, Italian and Swedish to the Cranky Uncle game which can now be played in 8 languages!

August 2022: With the addition of Spanish and Portuguese, v3.0 of the Cranky Uncle game can now be played in 5 languages! In addition to adding new languages, this version of the game also eliminates the need to login with an email-address or groupcode.

February 2022: The multi-lingual v2.0 was launched with German and Dutch as the first two languages the game could be played in apart from English.

A brief recap of the game's history and motivation

It’s been a long journey to get us to this point. We ran our initial crowd-funding campaign back in January 2020 and thanks to generous donors, we worked with creative agency Goodbeast to develop and launch v1.0 of the game in December 2020. Our next goal had always been to develop a multilingual version of the Cranky Uncle game and thanks to some additional funding support from Monash University, Cranky Uncle initially learned Dutch and German and started to teach people how to identify the science denial techniques in these two languages in February 2022. More languages have been added since then and the updates are listed at the top of this article.

The Cranky Uncle game adopts an active inoculation approach, where a Cranky Uncle cartoon character mentors players to learn the techniques of science denial. Cranky Uncle is a free game available on smartphones for iPhone (sks.to/crankyiphone) and Android (sks.to/crankyandroid) as well as web browsers (sks.to/crankybrowser). The player’s aim is to become a “cranky uncle”—a science denier who skillfully applies a variety of logically flawed argumentation techniques to reject the conclusions of the scientific community. By adopting the mindset of a cranky uncle, the player develops a deeper understanding of science denial techniques, thus acquiring the knowledge to resist misleading persuasion attempts in the future. More information about the game and its scientific background is available in the article “Teaching students how to spot climate misinformation using a cartoon game” published in the journal Plus Lucis.

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #23 2024

Posted on 6 June 2024 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Open access notables

Abrupt reduction in shipping emission as an inadvertent geoengineering termination shock produces substantial radiative warming, Yuan et al., Communications Earth & Environment:

Human activities affect the Earth’s climate through modifying the composition of the atmosphere, which then creates radiative forcing that drives climate change. The warming effect of anthropogenic greenhouse gases has been partially balanced by the cooling effect of anthropogenic aerosols. In 2020, fuel regulations abruptly reduced the emission of sulfur dioxide from international shipping by about 80% and created an inadvertent geoengineering termination shock with global impact. Here we estimate the regulation leads to a radiative forcing of +0.2±0.11">+0.2±0.11Wm−2 averaged over the global ocean. The amount of radiative forcing could lead to a doubling (or more) of the warming rate in the 2020 s compared with the rate since 1980 with strong spatiotemporal heterogeneity. The warming effect is consistent with the recent observed strong warming in 2023 and expected to make the 2020 s anomalously warm. The forcing is equivalent in magnitude to 80% of the measured increase in planetary heat uptake since 2020. The radiative forcing also has strong hemispheric contrast, which has important implications for precipitation pattern changes. Our result suggests marine cloud brightening may be a viable geoengineering method in temporarily cooling the climate that has its unique challenges due to inherent spatiotemporal heterogeneity.

“We are not droids”– IPCC participants’ senses of responsibility and affective experiences across the production, assessment, communication and enactment of climate science, Hartz, Climatic Change:

The growing understanding of how and why the climate is changing has led to mounting calls on climate scientists to take on more responsibility in the context of climate science. While an increasing responsibilisation takes place in the academic literature, asking scientists to “do more”, there is limited engagement with the responsibilities that scientists already assume in practice. Drawing on novel empirical insights from 77 semi-structured interviews with participants of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), I take the increasing ‘peer-to-peer responsibilisation’ as a point of departure to contextualise such calls, asking what scientists themselves already feel and assume responsibility for at both the personal and professional level. I find that climate experts participating in the IPCC not only assume increasing responsibility across different stages of the IPCC process but also beyond. As my data analysis demonstrates, IPCC participants increasingly feel and take on responsibility not only for producing and assessing climate science but also for communicating and/or enacting it (PACE). 

Global groundwater warming due to climate change, Benz et al., Nature Geoscience:

Focusing on diffusive heat transport, we simulate current and projected groundwater temperatures at the global scale. We show that groundwater at the depth of the water table (excluding permafrost regions) is conservatively projected to warm on average by 2.1 °C between 2000 and 2100 under a medium emissions pathway. However, regional shallow groundwater warming patterns vary substantially due to spatial variability in climate change and water table depth. The lowest rates are projected in mountain regions such as the Andes or the Rocky Mountains. We illustrate that increasing groundwater temperatures influences stream thermal regimes, groundwater-dependent ecosystems, aquatic biogeochemical processes, groundwater quality and the geothermal potential. Results indicate that by 2100 following a medium emissions pathway, between 77 million and 188 million people are projected to live in areas where groundwater exceeds the highest threshold for drinking water temperatures set by any country. 

Direct observational evidence from space of the effect of CO2 increase on longwave spectral radiances: the unique role of high-spectral-resolution measurements, Teixeira et al., Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics:

This paper presents direct evidence from space (solely based on observations) that CO2 increase leads to the theoretically expected effects on longwave spectral radiances. This is achieved by using a methodology that allows us to isolate the CO2 effects from the temperature and water vapor effects. By searching for ensembles of temperature and water vapor profiles that are similar to each other but have different values of CO2, it is possible to estimate the direct effects of CO2 on the spectra.      

Russian dilemma for global arctic science, Rees & Büntgen, Ambio (perspective):

Polar regions are critically implicated in our understanding of global climate change. This is particularly the case for the Arctic, where positive feedback loops and climate tipping points enhance complexity and urgency. Half of the Arctic and much of the world’s permafrost zone lie within Russian territory. Heightened geopolitical tensions, however, have severely damaged scientific collaboration between Russia and previously well established academic partners in western countries. Isolation is now causing increasingly large data gaps in arctic research that affect our ability to make accurate predictions of the impact of climate change on natural and societal systems at all scales from local to global. Here, we argue that options to resume both practical knowledge of collaborative working and flows of research data from Russia for global arctic science must continue to be asserted, despite an increasing tendency for the Arctic to become disconnected. 

From this week's government/NGO section:

Perceived threat of climate change in the second half of lifeBünning et al., German Centre of Gerontology

Over one in four people in the second half of life (28%) perceived a high threat from the climate crisis in 2023. Just over half (51%) rated the threat as medium, while about one in five (21%) perceived only a low threat from the climate crisis. Climate change is perceived as a significantly greater threat than Covid-19. On average, the threat of the climate crisis in 2023 was rated as 5.8 on a scale of 1 to 10. The perceived threat of COVID-19 was rated on average as only 3.1. Even at the peak of the pandemic in winter 2020/21, the perceived threat of 4.7 was more than one scale point below the perceived threat of the climate crisis in 2023. There are no age differences regarding the perceived threat posed by the climate crisis. In all four age groups, from middle to old age, the average perceived threat was between 5.6 and 5.9 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Climate change, El Niño and infrastructure failures behind massive floods in southern BrazilClarke et al., World Weather Attribution

Between 24 April and 4 May 2024 over 420 mm of rain fell in Brazil’s southernmost state Rio Grande do Sul, leading to more than 90% of the state being affected by flooding. Researchers from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the US collaborated to answer the question of whether and to what extent human-induced climate change altered the likelihood and intensity of the rainfall that caused the flooding. They also investigated the role of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). To assess the role of human-induced climate change the authors combined observation-based products and climate models that include the observed ENSO relationship and assess changes in the likelihood and intensity of the 10-day and 4-day heavy rainfall over Rio Grande do Sul, They found an increase in the likelihood for both events of more than a factor of 2 and intensity increase of 6-9% due to the burning of fossil fuels.

137 articles in 60 journals by 1060 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Divergent Impacts of Evapotranspiration by Plant CO2 Physiological Forcing on the Mean and Variability of Water Availability, Li et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 10.1029/2023jd040253

Polar Low Circulation Enhances Greenland's West Coast Cloud Surface Warming, Lac et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jd040450

Roles of the atmosphere and ocean in the projected north atlantic warming hole, Li et al., Climate Dynamics 10.1007/s00382-024-07289-w

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Climate Adam: Coping as the world’s best known climate scientist

Posted on 5 June 2024 by Guest Author

This video includes conclusions of the creator climate scientist Dr. Adam Levy. It is presented to our readers as an informed perspective. Please see video description for references (if any).

Katharine Hayhoe is quite possibly the world's most famous climate scientist. She's produced wide ranging research, and communicated climate change with everything from books to late night TV appearances with Jimmy Kimmel. So how does Katharine cope with all this work? Whether it's the mental health consequences of understanding the climate crisis, or the barage of hate she gets every single day? I was thrilled to sit down with her and talk about what it means to be one of the most visible people working on climate change... in the world.

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

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At a glance - CO2 is the main driver of climate change

Posted on 4 June 2024 by John Mason, BaerbelW, Ken Rice

On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a "bump" for our ask. This week features "CO2 is the main driver of climate change". More will follow in the upcoming weeks. Please follow the Further Reading link at the bottom to read the full rebuttal and to join the discussion in the comment thread there.

Fact-Myth-Box

At a glance

It may come as a surprise to some people unfamiliar with climate science, but tracking down anyone who actually said, "CO2 is the only driver of climate change", has proved most elusive. Thus, the idea that, "CO2 is not the only driver of climate as some would have us believe.", is lacking something rather important. Who actually said it?

In climate science, nobody ever said it. That's because climate science covers everything that affects the climate. If you don't include everything, it would be like trying to find out how an internal combustion engine-powered car works, using as an example one without a crankshaft. The talking-point looks more like an example of a straw man fallacy, in which an argument, claim, or opponent is invented, and then shot down in flames, point-scoring being the idea. One sees this a lot in politics, but not in science.

Through science, we know that Earth's climate is affected by a myriad of drivers that operate on timescales varying from seasons to tens of thousands to tens of millions of years. We've investigated them in depth and we continue to do so. We understand which ones act as 'radiative forcings' - the external, independent primary drivers that determine whether energy is being added to or removed from the system. We likewise understand which ones act as 'feedbacks' - secondary drivers that determine how energy is moved around within the system.

The very nature of science is that it is an ongoing self-correcting process in each and every discipline. So we do understand the key forcings and feedbacks that operate within our climate and on what time-scale they occur. CO2, along with the other greenhouse gases, is but one of these factors.

Before you get too relaxed, however, of all the variables out there, CO2 is the one that has seen a huge change. Since pre-industrial times its concentration has gone up by a whopping 50%. Just imagine if a change of that amount occurred with another part of the climate system. How about the strength of sunlight going up by 50%? 

Ironically, at the time of writing (early 2024), there is a lot of discussion as to why 2023 was so warm. The heat came on particularly in the second half of the year, coinciding with the onset of strong El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean. But normally there's a lag between El Nino starting up and peak temperatures. Did the injection of unusual amounts of water vapour into the upper atmosphere by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano have a hand? Possibly. Did the cleaning-up of sulphate aerosol-generating shipping fuels partially remove a well-known negative or cooling feedback, and if so by how much?

The trouble is that scientific investigations involve a lot of careful hard work and that takes a lot of time. For people more used to the instant answers of politicians, that might be disappointing, but there's a difference. Science requires evidence, politics less so. 

Please use this form to provide feedback about this new "At a glance" section. Read a more technical version below or dig deeper via the tabs above!


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Jeff Masters and Bob Henson give us the low-down on the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season

Posted on 3 June 2024 by Guest Author

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

Hurricane in the background with four photos of people smiling in the foreground(Background photo credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

To kick off hurricane season, Yale Climate Connections editors Sara Peach and Sam Harrington sat down with meteorologists and Eye on the Storm writers Jeff Masters and Bob Henson. 

This roundtable discussion has been edited and condensed.

Sam: What is your process of covering a hurricane? 

Jeff: It kind of starts on Twitter or Bluesky now. Some of the aficionados of hurricane forecasting are anticipating, well before the National Hurricane Center puts something out, that “Hey, this is something we got to watch.” And of course, Bob and I look on our own at the models and see just kind of the general pattern, how things are shaping up. It can give you a general feel for something that might be coming up.

Bob: Yeah, I think there’s more and more skill with identifying busy periods. Even if the individual hurricanes aren’t ironclad, the models will give us a sense of maybe a particular week might be busy. So we try to keep an eye out for busy periods.

Jeff: Yeah, I’ll adjust my vacation schedule, depending on what the models are showing. I mean, I like to go up north and go camping near Lake Superior. And I’ll try and come up with a four- or five-day stretch that’s not going to see a major landfalling storm, according to the latest model guidance. 

This year, it could be an early hurricane season.

Sam: Is that what it’s feeling like to you?

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2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #22

Posted on 2 June 2024 by BaerbelW, Doug Bostrom, John Hartz

A listing of 33 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, May 26, 2024 thru Sat, June 1, 2024.

Story of the week

Sometimes one story is not enough.

Our ongoing 2023-2024 experiences with lethal heatwaves, early wildfires and a threatening Atlantic hurricane season are reminders that climate progress in public policy and law has been glacially slow, far outpaced by inexorable radiative physics colliding with our CO2 emissions. We're hardly looking at a track record of unalloyed success.

Our list of articles this week gives some clues to why we're facing extreme conditions we could have better ameliorated, or even avoided. Published by DeSmogClimate Campaigners Must Understand the Implications of June`s Critical European Parliamentary Elections describes an archetypal competently organized and knife-edged campaign by the fossil fuel industry to undermine productive public policy intended to deal with our climate crisis. This disciplined task force faces a general public that routinely leaves more than half of EU parliamentary election ballots unfilled. It's arguable that the fossil fuel collective's concerted efforts (admirable skills— if aligned to a better purpose) with a healthy dash of public sloth and apathy are why we're now living in a world of extremes. 

Is rational acknowledgement of our predicament a lost cause? It might be better to think of this as a matter of momentum. If so, where can we see that? Another notable story this week happened in Vermont, USA and is covered by The Guardian's Dharma Noor`Game-changing`: Vermont becomes first state to require big oil to pay for climate damages. Let alone 20 years ago, this legislation would have been hard to imagine in 2014. It's an agonizingly slow and needlessly costly process but Vermont now has evidence of climate change in plain sight. Explanations of that evidence are accepted— and then form the basis of public policy to deal with outcomes. 

It's worth remembering: about 325 years have passed since Thomas Savery introduced the first coal-fired motive power apparatus to find a home in industry. Since then we've wrapped our entire culture first around coal and then adding liquid and gas hydrocarbons to the mix. 326 years of habit is a lot of momentum. In contrast, serious early warning of the side-effects of our expedient natural gift reached the ears of legislators and public executives some 59 years ago. Six decades is short compared to over three hundred years. What's more,  about forty of these years were pretty much completely wasted thanks to such foot-dragging as what's happening in the EU as described above. 

What we see in these two stories is that dots are being connected. Vermont's legislation will encounter a blizzard of court action but regardless of the exact outcome this furor wouldn't be happening if accountability had not been assigned. It's a watershed moment in the US, part of burgeoning global momentum. All signs are toward accumulation of legal and regulatory energy to deal with climate change— and with that we should expect climate progress to accelerate. As we see in Vermont, this advancement happens by taking a little time to see what happening— and then voting according to one's conclusions. 

Stories we promoted this week, by publication date:

Before May 26

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Fact Brief - Have climate models overestimated global warming?

Posted on 1 June 2024 by John Mason

FactBriefSkeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by John Mason in collaboration with members from the Gigafact team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline.

Have climate models overestimated global warming?

noClimate models have correctly predicted how the planet would warm due to human greenhouse gas emissions.

Models use the laws of physics to probe Earth’s climate system - this being the atmosphere, oceans, land and biosphere. They apply what are known as external forcings to that system, such as changes in incoming sunshine or greenhouse gas levels, to see how the climate may change over time.

In a 2019 study, the temperature predictions from 17 climate models used between 1970 and 2007 were compared to observed temperatures. The study concluded the models were "skillful in predicting" future temperatures.

A more recent study published in 2023 looked at climate models created by scientists working for ExxonMobil. Their modeling was found to have been just as accurate as that developed within academia, with average projected warming within the same bounds as that of academic and government bodies from 1970-2007.

Go to full rebuttal on Skeptical Science or to the fact brief on Gigafact


This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Sources

Geophysical Research Letters Evaluating the Performance of Past Climate Model Projections

Science Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections

Skeptical Science New paper: Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections

University of Queensland Climate Modeling Success Stories

The Guardian The father of climate change

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