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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.

 


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #33 2022

Posted on 18 August 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Cornucopia of 100% renewable energy research

We're in a period of accelerating deployment of renewable energy sources. If we think of progress as a curve, the upward-and-right-trending line of that curve is changing slope very rapidly in a good way. How did we get here? Not very easily; a steady, dogged slog lasting some 50 years and counting is what it's taken to change the various functions driving our graph of "better."

100% renewable energy research is conducted with the goal of demonstrating and ultimately implementing energy capture and control involving no one-way, one-time conversions. For folks using their imaginations to make sure we're not borrowing from the future with no plan for payback (stealing, in other words), 100% renewable isn't a eco-hugging warm and fuzzy option, not a choice at all. Engineering for the long term requires 100% renewable energy. For anybody thinking about how their descendants might be living in 200 years or so, actual renewable energy is a mandatory part of future furnishings. Our species is after all on a very long trip.

As we can see from our feature article On the History and Future of 100% Renewable Energy Systems Research, 100% renewable energy is not only a matter of figuring out how arrange machinery so as to obtain sometthing for nothing. In a way, the hardware of this technology is the easy part. It's acceptance and integration that is perhaps the hardest challenge. In this magnum opus review from IEEE Access, a soup-nuts team of physicsts, systems researchers and energy economists cast a wide and deep net to capture a really useful snapshot of how this field has inched and lately bolted forward. Deployment is a lot about context.

The reader can walk away from this paper with a coherent picture of where we stand now, how we arrived, and how we're likely to continue. As with all review papers, in citations there's a easy map showing foothold for obtaining further information. Not least, the article also is helpful in the "discourses of delay" and "solutions denial" arenas. There are a lot of answers to misconceptions here, almost in a Rolodex format.

The authors conclude with some observations on where more work might best be concentrated. 

Other notables:

Climate change contributions to future atmospheric river flood damages in the western United States. This news was much-mentioned over the past week, as often as not without direct access to the primary source.  Here it is, and it's open access. 

What do we know about the employment impacts of climate policies? A review of the ex post literature. The authors find neutral to slighly positive effects of extant climate policies. There is room for improvement to avoid unthinkingly leaving islands of want as a side-effect of policy. 

Chronically underestimated: A reassessment of US heat waves using the extended heat index. As a relatively naive extrapolation, the "heat index" we're familiar with doesn't deal well with a combination of extreme high temperature and humidity. These combinations are becoming more frequent and will continue to do so. Analysis of the method reveals serious underestimation during coincident extremes, with potentially dangerous health effects. The authors propose improvements. 

Hybrid Power Plants. Status of Operating and Proposed Plants, 2022 Edition. From our government/NGO section, a report on what appears to be an increasingly prevalent technique of renewable energy deployment: generation and storage as a integration. It seems obvious in hindsight but there are reasons why this has been an incremental affair.

All of the above open access and free to read. 

Housekeeping

"Open access" (OA) articles sometimes are not availble directly from journals. Formerly only an indicator, where they appear the green "Open access" flags in our listing now lead to what the Unpaywall API identifies as "best open access source"  for respective articles. This may or may not be different from both the article title link and (if available) PDF link. As always, automatic identification of OA is not always reliable; iif you're extra intrigued by an article and no OA  flag is showing, it doesnt' hurt to click the title anyway.

147 articles in 59 journals by 944 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Extratropical Climate Change During Periods Before and After an Arctic Ice-Free Summer
Xie et al., Earth's Future, Open Access 10.1029/2022ef002881

Forcing for multidecadal surface solar radiation trends over Northern Hemisphere continents
Augustine & Capotondi, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2021jd036342

Future precipitation changes in three key sub-regions of East Asia: the roles of thermodynamics and dynamics
Li et al., Climate Dynamics, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00382-021-06043-w

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The deadly connections between climate change and migration

Posted on 17 August 2022 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Sarah Kennedy

Thousands of people have died attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico. And the crossing is growing even more dangerous as the climate changes.

U.S. border security policy in the Southwest is designed to deter unauthorized migration at heavily guarded urban entry points. So undocumented migrants with little access to water often spend days on foot in remote areas of the sweltering Sonoran Desert, located in the Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California, Baja California Sur, and the U.S. states of Arizona and California.

More than 7,000 migrants died during attempted southern border crossings between 2000 and 2020, according to the U.S. Border Control. The actual death toll is likely far higher, because some bodies are never recovered.

UCLA anthropologist Jason De León directs the Undocumented Migration Project, a long-term study of unauthorized migration. In a recent study, De Léon and colleagues modeled the risk of dehydration and death during undocumented border crossings – both now and over the next 30 years. They found that as temperatures warm and desert conditions grow more extreme, more migrants are likely to die from severe dehydration.

Yale Climate Connections spoke with De Léon about the deadly connections between migration and climate change.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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IPCC Explainer: Mitigation of Climate Change

Posted on 16 August 2022 by Guest Author

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a 750,000 word IPCC report is logically worth 750 pictures. John LangNet Zero Tracker lead with the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and science communicator, is trying out a new way of seeing climate change, one picture at a time.

The length of the latest set of IPCC Sixth Assessment Reports was sanity straining, hitting a record of more than 10,000 pages. When the IPCC produced its maiden assessment of climate change for governments in 1990, it was one-tenth the size — an intimidating but doable 1,000 pages. British chemist Robert Watson allegedly received strict instructions when he sat down to write the opening chapter: “Keep it short.” Author and natural scientist Beatrix Potter would’ve been proud: “the shorter and the plainer the better.”

Does the enormously complex and never-endingly nuanced issue of climate change have to be presented to policymakers, and therefore the public, as the behemoth it actually is? If the proliferation of papers on climate change were used as the measure, the answer would be a resounding yes. IPCC authors, in preparation for this assessment report since the last one in 2013-14, have ploughed through and synthesised the findings from over 230,000 studies.

CoverImage

Like a set of Russian dolls, the IPCC has tried to present its reports in ways that might convince an interested punter — or even a politician — to take the plunge. Its Working Group III Summary for Policymakers came in at a congenial 53 pages or 28,000 words, just under the wordcount of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Not bad, but not good enough on a planet where (1) climate change is still too often relegated to a sideshow in the circus of life, (2) scrolling Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok are just three of the 100s of rollercoasters on offer before breakfast, and (3) scientific jargon and acronym swamps put up prohibitive barriers to entry. 

How, then, could we better get through to apes with smartphones — especially those roaming corridors of power for whom the summaries are really intended? 

One way is to treat them like children. John Berger, in Ways of Seeing, reminds us that “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” Lynell Burmark, a visual literacy expert, writes that "Unless our words, concepts, and ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can retain about seven bits of information. Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they're indelibly etched.” 

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Geothermal heating and cooling: Renewable energy’s hidden gem

Posted on 15 August 2022 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Philip Warburg

Often described as a giant tower of Jenga blocks, Boston University’s Center for Computing and Data Sciences shows no outward signs of leading the race to sustainable energy design. No rooftop wind turbines grace its heights; no solar panels are mounted on the multiple roof decks jutting out from the building’s core.

What makes this building unique lies deep underground, where water circulating through 31 geothermal boreholes will supply 90 percent of its heating and cooling needs when the building opens, as scheduled for later this year. Through a process called geothermal heat exchange, water pumped from 1,500 feet underground will draw upon the near-constant temperature that prevails beneath the earth’s surface – 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Even on the coldest New England days, water prewarmed by the earth will be circulated through heat pumps that will further raise its temperature to deliver heat where needed. On warmer days or in heavily occupied spaces where heat builds up even in winter, the heat exchangers will draw on the earth’s cooler temperature to provide air conditioning.

Heat pump flowIn the summer, heat is extracted from the home, and is discharged into the earth. In the winter, the process is reversed. (Source: Solar Review)

Dennis Carlberg, associate vice president for university sustainability, was a key player in preparing BU’s Climate Action Plan, which set 2040 as the target date for achieving net carbon neutrality. That goal is to be met by phasing out gas-fueled heating systems, stepping-up energy efficiency, and investing in on-campus renewable energy sources like the data center’s geothermal plant. The university already draws its electricity from renewable energy, via a power purchase agreement with a South Dakota wind farm.

Carlberg acknowledges that transforming a largely built campus in a dense urban setting is a tough challenge, but he credits the data center with opening people’s minds to new technology solutions. “The center has been a fabulous exercise in understanding what we can do,” he says. “It’s given our campus planning and operations folks a deep understanding of how this works. You’re always afraid of what you don’t know, right? You’re going to come up with excuses for not doing it, but we’re doing it!”

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #32

Posted on 14 August 2022 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, August 7, 2022 through Sat, August 13, 2022.

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week (bolded articles are from SkS authors): Electrifying transportation reduces emissions AND saves massive amounts of energy, The things we take for granted, Why the climate change deniers’ argument that “CO2 is simply plant food” doesn’t stand up, and Skeptical Science New Research for Week #32 2022.

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #32 2022

Posted on 11 August 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

A most amazingly air-tight conspiracy

"Three may keep a secret, if two are dead." — Benjamin Franklin

Not research, but research-related. Skeptical Science reader John G. writes to point out an omission in our collection of rebuttals: "You are failing to rebut a prevailing narrative which blames a Globalist Elite for promoting CC as part of The Great Reset." 

Thank you John, and your point lands home; while we have a rebuttal for "climate scientists are in it for the money," a nebulous "globalist elite" seems a bit far afield of actual scientific climate research and misinformation. But indeed there's a connection. Leaving aside prosaic practical, logistical objections to the plausibility of a supra-national conspiracy we can still offer some numerical hints from the perspective of scientific literature, information suggestive of the absurdity of a "secret" plan in the face of statistical likelihood. 

A hypothetical perfectly executed secret plan is a challenge to disprove given that things that cannot be perceived are by definition beyond our ability to observe. However, the world of human affairs is composed of human nature. Our nature is such that keeping hermetically perfect confidences unseeable by any but  members of the "in" group becomes impossible even with fairly low numbers of participants.  Given more than a handful of participants and the passage of a little time, "secrets will out" because for all kinds of reasons we like to talk about ourselves.

We also are subject to often uncontrollable feelings of outrage. In situations involving high stakes, moral and ethical impulses kick in; there's extensive research literature on the secrecy-exploding phenomenon of whistle-blowing, because whistle-blowers are a prominent feature of organizational behavior. Documented cases are most often found in company with costly fraud. The larger, more cumbersome and more costly a deception, the more potential whistle-blowers necessarily will be included and the more likely they'll be "activated" and blow cover.

Meanwhile, "the globalist elite" covertly promoting "The Great Reset" apparently have foolishly laid all of their chips on one square: scientific research on climate change. The entire premise of the plot is completely rooted in this research. This entails a profound complication and serious challenge to the conspiracists' secret plan, given that people will blab for good or ill and the sheer number of individuals drawn into the plot by the plotters' overreliance on the scientific community. 

How big is this potential tripping point for managers of the "Great Reset?" Of late each New Research has included some simple weekly statistics, including the total number of contributing authors to each edition's collection of articles. This single week's author count is a minimum (DOI databases are not perfect) of 817.

These articles are the central purpose of each and every author's professional career; each article's readership and applications are carefully (arguably obsessively) observed by most participating authors. Right away we can see the problem: over the space of a single week, several hundred persons have been added to the Global Elite's nefarious plan. All must remain utterly quiet, regardless of whether they're active participants concocting fakery or guileless victims witnessing their work being devoted to dark ends.

It gets much, much worse for the poor old Global Elite. Newly published research articles progress our state of knowledge. In order to lay the foundations for whatever increment of enlightenment any given article provides, that article includes citations of earlier supporting work. As we're talking about scientific advancement, the "cutting edge," supporting research publications tend to be recent, also more or less carefully monitored by their respective authors. These persons also must be enrolled or duped into perfect silence. In the case of this particular edition of New Research (one week's enrollees) that's an additional minimum of 41,137 new participants.

Over a year's time many of these authors will feature more than once, but it's safe to say that in that short span hundreds of thousands of witting or unwitting accomplices are added to the Elites' nefarious plan, all remaining perfectly silent, or completely failing to notice that their work is being misrepresented. This has supposedly been going on with flawless reliability for decades. 

It's worth noting: these eyepopping figures take into account only the authors of  first-level citations. Each cited work itself of course leans on yet more authors. Perfidy and/or gullibility all the way down to Isaac Newton and earlier, apparently— or so we're supposed to believe.

But wait: there's more. Not only must all of these people remain silent, but somehow— whether accidentally or on purpose-- the entire collective arc of facts, figures, predictions and observations must be pretty much wholly consistent and coherent, a seamless forgery indectable even to the best-trained eye. For this week alone  a minimum of 8,951 articles must neatly mesh in agreement even while not being true.  Simultaneously they're only the tip of a pyramid of smooth, factual, predictive continuum of research findings embodied in yet more layered citations, leading to such matters as g=9.8 m/s/s and all the rest of our real-world underpinnings.

How this prodigious and seemingly impossible conundrum and effort is accomplished as a matter of cryptic intent without any leakage of collusive communications is a true mystery. 

Or— just perhaps— maybe it's more believable that no such scheme exists? A moment's thought leads to an obvious conclusion: a "global elite" (or for that matter anybody with common sense) would never be so stupid as to invest their faith in such an far-fetched, automatically faulty concept. Hundreds of thousands of scientists trained to delight in saying "you're wrong," all sitting on their hands in an ocean of errors and yet obediently quiet? Tell us another one.

Notables:

The Late-Eighteenth-Century Climate of Cape Town, South Africa, Based on the Dutch East India Company “Day Registers” (1773–91). A history of commerce, colonization and exploitation leads to recovery of valuable climate data, hundreds of years later. 

Retail Electricity Rates Under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. From our government/NGO reports section, some numbers on how modernization of energy supplies will help US wallets. 

Estimating the environmental impacts of 57,000 food products. More fodder for a favorite topic to chew the fat over: what's OK for dinner?

Reviewing the ecological impacts of offshore wind farms. We're exiting one poorly considered and hastily implemented energy technology. Now we know better. This article is what judicious, circumspect adoption of newer & better systems looks like. Better doesn't mean perfect, better can be done worse or better. 

137 articles in 63 journals by 817 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Effect of the Late-1990s Change in Tropical Forcing on Teleconnections to the Amundsen–Bellingshausen Seas Region during Austral Autumn
Guo et al., Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-21-0965.1

Observations of climate change, effects

Analysis of long-term trends and variations in extreme high air temperatures in May over Turkey and a record-breaking heatwave event of May 2020
Erlat et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7821

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What on Earth is up with Heatwaves?

Posted on 10 August 2022 by Guest Author

Extreme heat and wildfires are battering the entire globe - one of the most obvious symptoms that climate change is here, today. Europe has roasted, while the UK topped 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in history. Meanwhile wildfires rage across the planet.

So why is global warming turbo charging extreme heat just so much? Why is only a 'small' amount of climate change causing heatwaves to sometimes become hundreds or thousands of times more likely? And what can we do protect ourselves, as heat waves continue to heat up?

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Experts: Senate-passed bill will yield myriad climate benefits

Posted on 9 August 2022 by dana1981

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

The U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act by a single vote on Sunday, August 7.

The bill, headed to the House of Representatives within days, includes by far the largest and most consequential measures to reduce domestic climate pollution in the nation’s history, with a $386 billion clean energy investment, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Based on analyses by several energy modeling groups, it would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by close to one-billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in the year 2030, significantly narrowing the gap between the U.S.’s current path and its Paris Climate Agreement commitment.

The bill took an almost biblical course from inception to what now appears to be likely passage by the House and signature by President Joe Biden. It overcame odds that just two weeks ago appeared likely to be fatal: Two separate apparent death blows by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), before its prospects twice rising from the proverbial ashes.

The deal reached between Senator Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) largely survived intact after last minute negotiations with Senator Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), a “Byrd bath” scrubbing by the Senate Parliamentarian, and a marathon weekend “vote-a-rama” on the Senate floor.

According to various expert analyses, the Inflation Reduction Act would not only significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., but also other fossil fuel air pollutants and their adverse health effects; reduce the federal deficit; create jobs; boost the economy; and lower average household energy bills. Republican senators rejected such assessments and voted in lockstep unanimity against efforts to pass the legislation, forcing Vice President Kamala Harris to break several 50-50 tie votes, including the final vote on passage, to ensure sending it to the House for an expected party-line vote later this week.

Not surprisingly, it’s an imperfect bill and insufficient to meet the U.S. Paris commitment on its own, but nevertheless bringing that target within reach while creating numerous other beneficial outcomes in the process.

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Electrifying transportation reduces emissions AND saves massive amounts of energy

Posted on 8 August 2022 by Guest Author

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

With high energy prices and increasing urgency to reduce fossil fuel burning, it makes sense to get the most out of every gallon of gasoline or kilowatt-hour of electricity.

previous post showed that charging an EV costs around $1.41 per gallon in the U.S., offering consumers a major savings over gasoline. Part of why EVs are cheap to operate is that they use energy with impressive efficiency.

Delving deeper, there’s a stark difference between the way internal combustion and electric engines use energy. The bad news is that combustion engines are fundamentally inefficient. But the good news is that electric motors offer vast improvements and save money and energy. Even better: Replacing traditional vehicles with electric ones will require far less energy overall.

Traditional cars and trucks are surprisingly inefficient

Modern gasoline-powered vehicles waste a whopping 80% of the energy in their fuel. For each gallon pumped into the tank, only a bit more than three cups go to moving the vehicle forward. In economic terms, for a $5.00 gallon of gasoline, only $1.00 of it gets you closer to your destination.

Most of this waste is an inescapable consequence of thermodynamics. Internal combustion engines ignite liquid fuel to create a pressurized gas that pushes pistons to turn a crankshaft that ultimately spins the car’s wheels. This multistep process bleeds off energy all along the way. Most of the energy in the fuel ends up as heat, and only a small fraction reaches the wheels. The concept of wasted heat becomes intuitive when one thinks about the hot air wafting off a car’s running engine. The engine itself gets hot; a cooling system is needed to manage excess heat; and heat is dispersed through the radiator and blows out the exhaust. All of that heat comes from gasoline, and none of it helps propel the vehicle.

Further energy uses come from pumps and fans, some of which, ironically, are needed to carry away waste heat. These are called parasitic losses. Mechanical friction within the transmission and drivetrain lops another 3 to 5% off the overall efficiency. The final loss of energy is from auxiliary electrical components like heated seats, lights, the audio system, and windshield wipers. Taken together, these accessories can consume up to 2% of the vehicle’s total energy intake.

The net result is that only around 20% of the energy that’s pumped into the fuel tank ends up at the wheels.

Gas-powered vehicle energy losses

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #31

Posted on 7 August 2022 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, July 31, 2022 through Sat, August 6, 2022.

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week (bolded articles are from SkS authors): Reality is scary’: climate culture war heats up for UK meteorologists, French Heat,  and Greenwashing is driving our descent into climate catastrophe. But we can stop it
.

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A Cranky Uncle Cartoon a day, keeps misinformation at bay!

Posted on 5 August 2022 by BaerbelW

From July 7 to 26 we tried something new on our Facebook page by sharing one Cranky Uncle cartoon each day for 20 days in a row. There were two reasons for doing this: firstly, we wanted to ensure that at least one post would get published each day while I was on vacation, so we needed something we could prepare and schedule well in advance. And secondly, these cartoons are meant to be shared, so this was as good an opportunity as any to do just that!

Each cartoon posting followed the same format which included the title, the fallacy depicted, the fallacy description and an example as shown for "Arsenic" which kicked things off on July 7:

Cartoon Arsenic

We didn't really know how this series would be received and we wouldn't have been surprised if it basically just sizzled. What then happened took us quite by surprise and we'll share some insights below.

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #31 2022

Posted on 4 August 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

"CAGW." A thing?

With its provocative title and remarks grounded in respected published research, the perspective  Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has caused a few ripples reaching into popular media. "Endgame" and "catastrophic" lean hard in the direction of "pay attention," and are words not chosen lightly. Not least, it's a reputational risk to employ such language, but here we find multiple excellent reputations created by diverse careers of competent, judiicious research converging and agreeing on this terminology. Given our circumstances and the wellspring of advice at hand, we'd be stupid not to pay attention.

Veterans of the trenches of online climate discourse (such as it is) are well familar with the mostly-epithet "CAGW," short for "catastrophic anthropogenic global warming." Usually employed as a distracting insult and mental tripping point when the current of factual argument turns against climate change deniers and it's time to change the topic to unfalsifiables, the term is intended to portray folks having concerns about our effect on our planet's climate as being hysterical pearl clutchers.

Successful deployment of "CAGW" as a rhetorical bomb depends in part on us failing to use our imaginations. "What's a catastrophe?" means unpacking the meaning of "a." An extreme temperature event isn't a catastrophe. A drought isn't a catastrophe. Both together still are not catastrophic— even when they cause a single major "breadbasket" agricultural failure. But what about two breadbaskets failing simultaneously, precipitating thereby geopolitical strife and hence causing 1,000,000 "excess mortality" events over the next few years? 1,000,000 persons dying in a single day would certainly find us all in agreement: "it's a catastrophe!" Repeat this rough sequence a handful of times and we're undoubtedly deeply mired in catastrophe. Given the forces we've unleashed, it's a safe (but not nice) bet we'll be seeing collective "excess mortality" on a catastrophic scale, if our imaginations can encompass 100 years. 

Kemp et al. remind us that climate change presents us with profound risks of combinatorial collisions leading to catastrophic outcomes. Beyond the authors' words, we might observe In particular that what we know of climate impacts on agriculture and subsequent forced migration in the face of food supply failure suggests that we're certainly facing catastrophic outcomes, if we value 1,000,000 lives needlessly lost in over a 100-year timespan as we would the same lives lost over a week's time. 

Any given edition of New Research is littered with articles germane to "knock-on" effects of climate change leading to "cultural climate amplification," possible or looming systems failures. "Other notables" for this week features a few such items, fodder for reasoned imagination armed with facts.

Other notables:

Tropical cyclone-blackout-heatwave compound hazard resilience in a changing climate. Based on our historical as opposed to promised emissions trajectory, "The expected percentage of Harris [county of Texas, USA] residents experiencing at least one longer-than-5-day TC-blackout-heatwave compound hazard in a 20-year period could increase dramatically by a factor of 23 (from 0.8% to 18.2%) over the 21st century."

Future flooding increases unequal exposure risks to relic industrial pollution. "Merging property-level flood-risk projections from the First Street Foundation with historical data on former hazardous manufacturing facilities in 6 U.S. cities, we identify more than 6000 relic industrial sites with elevated flood risk over the next 30 years." Yes, just 6 (six) cities.

Influence and prediction value of Arctic sea ice for spring Eurasian extreme heat events. Missing ice finds its way "home"— far, far away.  

State of the UK Climate 2021. "This report provides a summary of the UK weather and climate through the calendar year 2021, alongside the historical context for a number of essential climate variables. This is the eighth in a series of annual “State of the UK Climate” publications and an update to the 2020 report (Kendon et al., 2021). It provides an accessible, authoritative and up-to-date assessment of UK climate trends, variations and extremes based on the most up-to-date observational datasets of climate quality."

All of the above open access and free to read.

128 articles in 58 journals by 816 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Greenhouse-gas forced changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and related worldwide sea-level change
Couldrey et al., Climate Dynamics, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00382-022-06386-y

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How not to solve the climate change problem

Posted on 3 August 2022 by Guest Author

Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Scholar, NCAR; Affiliated Faculty, University of Auckland.  This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

When politicians talk about reaching “net zero” emissions, they’re often counting on trees or technology that can pull carbon dioxide out of the air. What they don’t mention is just how much these proposals or geoengineering would cost to allow the world to continue burning fossil fuels.

There are many proposals for removing carbon dioxide, but most make differences only at the edges, and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have continued to increase relentlessly, even through the pandemic.

I’ve been working on climate change for over four decades. Let’s take a minute to come to grips with some of the rhetoric around climate change and clear the air, so to speak.

What’s causing climate change?

As has been well established now for several decades, the global climate is changing, and that change is caused by human activities.

When fossil fuels are burned for energy or used in transportation, they release carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas that is the main cause of global heating. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries. As more carbon dioxide is added, its increasing concentration acts like a blanket, trapping energy near Earth’s surface that would otherwise escape into space.

When the amount of energy arriving from the Sun exceeds the amount of energy radiating back into space, the climate heats up. Some of that energy increases temperatures, and some increases evaporation and fuels storms and rains.

Illustration of energy in from the Sun vs energy out from Earth in greenhouse effect How the greenhouse effect works. EPA

Because of these changes in atmospheric composition, the planet has warmed by an estimated 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 F) since about 1880 and is well on the way to 1.5 C (2.7 F), which was highlighted as a goal not to be crossed if possible by the Paris Agreement. With the global heating and gradual increases in temperature have come increases in all kinds of weather and climate extremes, from flooding to drought and heat waves, that cause huge damage, disruption and loss of life.

Studies shows that global carbon dioxide emissions will need to reach net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury to have a chance of limiting warming to even 2 C (3.6 F).

Currently, the main source of carbon dioxide is China. But accumulated emissions matter most, and the United States leads, closely followed by Europe, China and others.

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How likely would Britain’s 40°C heatwave have been without climate change?

Posted on 2 August 2022 by Guest Author

By Ben Clarke, DPhil Candidate in Environmental Research, University of Oxford; Friederike Otto, Associate Director, Environmental Change Institute, Imperial College London, and Luke Harrington, Senior Lecturer in Climate Change, University of Waikato.  This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Every heatwave occurring today is made more likely and intense by human-caused climate change. Early estimates by the UK Met Office suggest that days over 40°C have become ten times more likely to happen in the UK as a result of the rising global temperature.

But even this may be a significant underestimate, as models have underrated increases in the occurrence of extreme heat events before. And we know that climate change has increased the likelihood of new high-temperature records more than any other extreme weather phenomenon.

July 2022 would have had a few hot days without climate change. But with it, those days were several degrees hotter, which brought 40°C within reach for England for the first time.

Not-so-great British bake off

The heatwave was caused by a low pressure system over the North Atlantic that produced a slingshot effect, firing a plume of hot, dry Saharan air northwards. With little moisture to evaporate and no clouds to block the sun’s rays, the land baked.

There is growing evidence to suggest that these hot weather-generating pressure systems are becoming more frequent for Europe. But even if they continued occurring at the same rate, the air itself is certainly getting hotter.

On a warming planet everywhere gets hotter, but not at the same rate. The land heats up faster than the ocean, especially the driest areas such as the Sahara. The approximately 1.2°C of global warming already experienced has added at least 2°C onto the average UK heatwave day, and even more on to night-time temperatures.

The UK is not prepared for these Mediterranean temperatures. Buildings are poorly insulated and lack air conditioning. Much of the infrastructure cannot cope: train lines are built from steel that is only stress-tested to 27°C. Beyond that, the lines are prone to buckling.

Extreme heat is a killer. Heatwaves in Europe in 2003 and in western Russia in 2010 killed around 70,000 and 55,000 people respectively – two of the deadliest weather disasters in history.

Extremely high temperatures are especially dangerous for the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, people in cities and pets. That’s partly because it takes a heavy toll on the heart and lungs, especially when a warm night offers little respite. And partly because hot, stagnant air concentrates dangerous pollution like ozone, especially in cities.

Nearly 2,000 excess deaths have already been reported from the beginning of the mid-July heatwave in Spain and Portugal, which also experienced this Saharan plume of hot air. For every person killed, several more require hospital treatment for heat-related illness.

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Record rain in St. Louis is what climate change looks like

Posted on 1 August 2022 by Guest Author

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

Torrents of rain that began before dawn on Tuesday, July 26, gave St. Louis, Missouri, its highest calendar-day total since records began in 1873. And the deadly event is just the latest example of a well-established trend of intensifying downpours in many places across the globe.

The official reporting site at Lambert International Airport received 8.6 inches of rain from midnight to 11 a.m. Central Standard Time on Tuesday. (Standard time is used year-round to separate calendar days for meteorological data purposes.) Another 0.46 inch had been recorded just before midnight CST on Monday, bringing the total for July 25-26 to 9.04 inches as of 11 a.m. CST Tuesday.

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2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #30

Posted on 31 July 2022 by BaerbelW

Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, July 24, 2022 through Sat, July 30, 2022.

The following articles sparked above average interest during the week (bolded articles are from SkS authors): Cranky Uncle Cartoon 18/20 - Sinking ShipCranky Uncle Cartoon 20/20 - SurgerySkS Analogy 7 - Christmas Dinner and the Faux Paus, Cranky Uncle Cartoon 18/20 - Sinking Ship, Cranky Uncle Cartoon 19/20 - Smoking, and The FLICC-Poster - Downloads and Translations.

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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #30 2022

Posted on 28 July 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

51% disgusted, 51% sad

From our government and NGO publication section, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication release an update on attitudes about climate change among US residents. Climate Change in the American Mind (PDF) extends a long term program of sampling and continues to reveal the shifting position of climate change in US public perceptions. Definitely visit for the executive summary, then stay to learn the methods. 

Other notables:

Bringing albedo to the GHG marketEasy, cheap, fast, available now. What could be better? It's good that researchers are available to calculate such things as "Taking Los Angeles, CA as a test site for urban global warming mitigation actions, a residential “cool roof” project offers approximately seven times as much radiative forcing benefit from albedo change as from GHG reduction of energy efficiency; and a citywide increase to commercial building roof albedo offers radiative forcing benefit equivalent to the first 6½ years of all commercial sector GHG emission reductions proposed in the City of Los Angeles climate action plan." 

Impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions due to the use of telemedicine. Similar to the above item, it turns out that by paying attention to details, we can perform significant GHG reductions by simple changes in habits. This study reveals effective reduction of some 4,698 net tons of CO2 emissions by a single medical provider in a single year. 

Volcanic hazard exacerbated by future global warming-driven increase in heavy rainfall. "Our results suggest that if global warming continues unchecked, the incidence of primary and secondary rainfall-related volcanic activity—such as dome explosions or flank collapse—will increase at more than 700 volcanoes around the globe."

US nuclear power: Status, prospects, and climate implications. "Dismal economics" and conspicuous failure in the evolving energy market "might dampen enthusiasm" as diplomatically expressed by author Amory Lovins. Yet nuclear power continues to be an important part of the energy transition conversation. How and why is this possible? Lovins explores. 

84 articles in 47 journals by 419 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Carbon emissions and radiative forcings from tundra wildfires in the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta, Alaska
Moubarak et al., [journal not provided], Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-2022-144

Observations of climate change, effects

A global view of observed changes in fire weather extremes: uncertainties and attribution to climate change
Liu et al., Climatic Change, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-022-03409-9

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Extreme heat makes pregnancy more dangerous

Posted on 27 July 2022 by Guest Author

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

Esther Sanchez’s pregnancy this summer has coincided with extreme heat in Madrid, Spain, where she lives. Overnight temperatures there have been particularly uncomfortable. One recent morning, her living room was still 88 degrees Fahrenheit [31 C] at 6 a.m.

“So it was impossible to sleep and to rest and have a normal day — a normal life,” she said.

For many pregnant people — a group that can include women, girls, transgender men, and nonbinary people — heat is more than just uncomfortable. It’s dangerous. 

Pregnant people are more likely to experience heat stroke and heat exhaustion, according to the CDC. High temperatures can increase risks of stillbirth and preterm birth. And experts worry that state officials may scrutinize such pregnancy outcomes more closely in the wake of the June 2022 Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion. 

Climate change raises these stakes even higher. Hot days are already more common. Heat waves are hotter and last longer than they were in the past, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses and death.

Also see: Heat waves and climate change: Is there a connection?

How heat affects pregnancy 

Pregnant people face an elevated risk of heat-related illnesses because their bodies are working overtime to keep themselves and the growing fetus cool. They are also more likely to be dehydrated and thus produce less sweat, which is dangerous because sweating is a key way the body cools itself. Additionally, people exposed to extreme heat during pregnancy are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure and preeclampsia, a potentially fatal pregnancy complication. And heat exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of heart problems during labor and delivery.

Recent studies have also shown that exposure to heat is dangerous for the developing fetus and can cause stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, congenital abnormalities, and infant death soon after birth.

Sandie Ha, an assistant professor in public health at the University of California, Merced, analyzed 70 studies on the influence of heat on pregnancy outcomes. In her review, she found that estimates suggest a 16% higher risk of preterm birth during heat wave days compared to non-heatwave days. About one in 10 U.S. infants is born prematurely.

Ha also found that the stillbirth risk was 46% higher during heat waves compared to non-heat wave days. About 1 in 160 U.S. births are stillbirths, according to the CDC.

The risk for preterm birth and stillbirth increases about 5% with each additional degree Fahrenheit, she found.

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The volcanic eruption in Alaska that rocked ancient Egypt

Posted on 26 July 2022 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jennifer Marlon and Joseph Manning

Cleopatra wouldn’t have seen the clouds of ash darken the sky from her throne in Alexandria, but the effects of the eruption of an Alaskan volcano rippled through Egypt and the rest of the ancient world in 43 BCE.

We are part of an interdisciplinary research team that is detailing the fingerprints of that eruption, which set a series of global climate changes in motion during the first century BCE, one of the most critical political transition periods in the history of Western civilization.

Our work is revealing how a single event occurring at a specific location can trigger a powerful cascade of changes that can unravel across continents and seas – affecting not only plants and animals, but also the social, political, and economic dynamics of human societies.

An eruption 6,000 miles from Alexandria

In one of the most remote places on Earth, the Aleutian Island chain in the north Pacific Ocean, in the winter of 43 BCE, Mount Okmok erupted. It was the largest eruption in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2,500 years. It produced a sudden and massive drop in global temperatures that persisted for a decade.

Tree ring records from the White Mountains of California mark the decade between 43 and 33 BCE as the second-coldest in the Northern Hemisphere in human history. Italy endured severe cold summers that disrupted agriculture and military campaigns.

And in Egypt, the Nile failed to flood for several years in a row.

When people in the region speak of the Nile today, they bring their fist to their heart, indicating the incalculable importance of its water for the existence of life in the desert.

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SkS Analogy 7 - Christmas Dinner and the Faux Pause

Posted on 25 July 2022 by Evan

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

Tag Line

Saying “No warming” since the last El Nino is like
Saying “No weight gain” since the last Christmas dinner.

Elevator Statement

On Christmas eve you eat a big dinner, with lots of seconds, gravy, ooey gooey sweet potatoes with more sweet than potatoes. After the monster dinner, generous helping of pie, ice cream and lots more. You weigh yourself after the “dinner”. The next morning you find creative ways to get rid of the food you “ate” the night before, all of it (and more) ending up in the “waste” bin. You weigh yourself again, for comparison.

Hurrah, a new weight-loss technique. How to lose a couple lbs. in one delightful day. For the next month you note that you have not gained a single ounce since that gorging Christmas dinner. In fact, you’ve managed to keep your weight below the Christmas-eve measurement. Weight-loss is easy: just push your weight up momentarily to some unsustainably high weight, and then eat a more modest diet thereafter.

This tale would seem absurd, except this is exactly what educated, well-paid senators of the USA say on a regular basis. They substitute the year of a recent El-Niño for Christmas dinner, they substitute temperature for body weight, and then say “No warming in __ years”. This Zombie Myth keeps on walking, eating the brains of many, despite the fact that the long-term trend is continued warming at an alarming rate of about 0.2ºC/decade! This myth of a warming hiatus is so easily debunked, that one of the recent, well-known Climate contrarians, Pat Michaels, cautioned his viewers not to use this myth because it is so easily debunked (watch here for a video describing the warming-hiatus myth, and watch here for a segment in this video where Pat Michaels cautions his audience against repeating this myth).

Climate Science

Our bodies and the earth go through many cycles. We drink, we sweat. We eat, we burn calories. We eat a lot, we exercise a lot. Our bodies have cycles that last hours, days, weeks, months, and one of the longest cycles that lasts nine months. We have random cycles associated with illness. We know that the ups and downs of our weight due to these cycles has nothing to do with our average weight. In addition to all of these transient cycles, there may be an underlying, long-term weight gain or loss that requires long-term weight measurements to separate them from the “noise” of the other cycles.

The earth is the same, and there are many cycles that affect temperature. Daily cycles with the rising and setting of the sun, weekly cycles associated with weather, monthly cycles associated with seasons, yearly to decadal cycles associated with slowly changing ocean currents and the activity of the sun, etc. There are also random cycles that affect the temperature, such as volcanoes that periodically burp.

Some of the strongest cycles are associated with ocean currents, such as El Niño and La Niña cycles (watch here for an explanation). El Niño cycles bring warm water to the ocean surface, releasing large amounts of energy into the atmosphere, warming the air. La Niña cycles do the opposite, bringing cooler waters to the ocean surface, cooling the air. El Niño cycles can cause global average temperatures to “temporarily” spike by about 0.2ºC. When an El Niño cycle subsides, the air temperatures usually cool off by about the same amount they warmed. Typically neither the temperature increase during an El Niño cycle nor the temperature decrease after El Niño or during La Niña cycles are indicative of long-term trends, but simply represent a temporary increase or decrease of global average temperature.

The exception to this is that during extended periods between El Niño cycles ocean currents keep relatively cool water on the surface, allowing an increased amount of energy to enter the oceans. During subsequent El Niño cycles, much of the energy stored in the oceans during the cooler phases comes out, causing a sharp increase in global average temperature. El Niño cycles can therefore mark a sudden increase in temperature, but what they are doing is releasing energy from the oceans that has been stored continuously over many years. Therefore, the best way to look at long-term trends of atmospheric air temperatures is to plot data over many decades: looking at temperature data over time periods of 10 years or less can lead to erroneous conclusions, such as “global warming has stopped.” To see how this works, consider an annual plot of temperature anomalies, to show how embedded within a trend of rising temperature there are periods of apparent cooling.

Figure 1. Down the Up-Escalator. Illustration of how a long-term warming trend can be cherry-picked to show short-term cooling trends.

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