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Climate Hustle

2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #38

Posted on 23 September 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

August 2017 was second warmest on record

From NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies

GISTEMP LOTI Anomaly Aug 2017 

A global map of the August 2017 LOTI (land-ocean temperature index) anomaly, relative to the 1951-1980 August average. Part of Antarctica is gray because data from some stations there were not yet available at the time of this posting. View larger image.

August 2017 was the second warmest August in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

The measured value is consistent with the trend in global average surface temperatures that has been observed during the past few decades. Last month was +0.85 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean August temperature from 1951-1980.

GISTEMP Seasonal Cycle thru Aug 2017

The GISTEMP monthly temperature anomalies superimposed on a 1980-2015 mean seasonal cycle. View larger image. 

It was surpassed by August 2016, which was still affected by the 2015-2016 El Niño and was 0.99 degrees Celsius warmer than normal. However, August 2017 was about +0.2 degrees warmer than the August following the last large El Niño event in 1997-1998.

The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn't cover enough of the planet. Monthly analyses are sometimes updated when additional data becomes available, and the results are subject to change.


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Comments

Comments 1 to 16:

  1. "How Can U.S. States Fight Climate Change if Trump Quits the Paris Accord?" by Brad Plumer, New York Times, Sep 20, 2017

    The article identifies that there are portions of the USA that the global community can strive to support.

    Selective international trade that benefits that 'deserving portion of the USA' could be helpful.

    And International trade sanctions against the USA may be needed to change the minds of 'people who can regionally temporarily get away with Winning the ability to have more of a competitive advantage by behaving less acceptably.' If so, those sanctions need to be targeted to get the attention of the portion that needs to change its mind.

    But in spite of those efforts it is likely that the USA (and the future of humanity) will collectively suffer set-backs because of this brief period of 'Being Collectively Led Further in the Wrong Direction'.

    Responsible leadership can make things better. Irresponsible leadership undeniably can only try to create temporary impressions that ultimately fade away/can't be maintained/can't be sustained. Unfortunately the inevitable negative ending of the unsustainable developed delusions seldom significantly impacts the few who benefited most from developing the damaging deceptions. That is why some wealthy powerful people support irresponsible leadership (in business and government) - they only care about improving-prolonging their chances to be short-term Winners, with all others being the Losers.

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  2. I note how blue, and a strong blue at that, the Arctic is in this map.

    That makes sense given the recovery in the sea ice extent, area and volume numbers.

    What I am therefore very keen for more information on is: the state of the multi year sea ice. I think the whole world is desperate for information on the state of the multi-year sea ice in the Arctic.

    Worldview was so cloudy this melt season that you couldn't see what was going on... although there did seem to be some adventurous cracking before the clouds kicked in at the start of the season.

    They talked about Nares Straight a lot this year being open way earlier than usual: how significant is this point by itself I wonder?

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  3. bozzza,

    Though a peer reviewed publication that accurately analyzes the Arctic Sea Ice data would be the best source, you can sort of check it out for yourself using the NSIDC's updated Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph.

    When you click on any data point along any annual extent line the coloured image of sea ice concentration for that date is opened. The impression I get is that the area of 100% concentration (pure white) at the minimum in 2017 was comparable to, and maybe less than, the area at the minimum in 2012.

    Ice concentration is not exactly the same as 'true multi-year' which would require tracking ice in areas of lower concentration at the end of one year and determining if it remains to the end of the next year and beyond.

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  4. Thankyou, OPOF,

    It's resource intensive to get these numbers, for sure, but we are getting to the pointy end of the deal and markets need to start making changes or it will be too late.

    I push for the multi-year sea ice statistics to be made known to the public because I think these are of the most significance. These are the kinds of numbers the consumers and suppliers in the market place need to make informed decisions about what this world should be doing from this point forward.

    When do multi-year sea ice numbers get updated? Are there different sources for these numbers?

    We absolutely must make these numbers more known to the public... if they aren't bad then that is fair enough but if they are then we need to start acting and that can only happen by conusmers and suppliers knowing what the facts are.

    The fabled free-markets exist on such assumptions as perfect information... not knowing relevant information makes the whole system shonky and 'inefficient'.

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  5. Here is Ross McKitrick's analysis of the Millar et al paper that seems to have caused such a kerfuffle:

    "Millar et al. attracted controversy for stating that climate models have shown too much warming in recent decades, even though others (including the IPCC) have said the same thing. Zeke Hausfather disputed this using an adjustment to model outputs developed by Cowtan et al. The combination of the adjustment and the recent El Nino creates a visual impression of coherence. But other measures not affected by the issues raised in Cowtan et al. support the existence of a warm bias in models. Gridcell extreme frequencies in CMIP5 models do not overlap with observations. And satellite-measured temperature trends in the lower troposphere run below the CMIP5 rates in the same way that the HadCRUT4 surface data do, including in the tropics. The model-observational discrepancy is real, and needs to be taken into account especially when using models for policy guidance."

    This article, which can be referenced on the ClimateEtc Judith Curry website seems to be reasonably balanced.  I first read it and thought that maybe the "overstatement of the models" was an overstatement.  But .3C is a fair bit when we are talking about 1C since pre-industrial times.

    I see that in fact the IPCC did acknowledge in 2013 that the models were predicting warming beyond observations.  I took a look at their chart which is actually updated by McKitrick to reflect the 2016 El Nino.  So this is why Ben Santer, in the APS 2014 panel review acknowledged that Christy's claim of a significant variance was "old news".  At least it has now been acknowledged.  Does not change the question as to what we should do about it.

    On that point, I am still waiting for someone to respond to my question (on another stream) regarding the Jacobson 2015 study on wind and solar costs of replacing fossil fuels in the US by 2050.  I have seen no criticism whatever by this website of the June 2017 paper of Clack (NOAA) et al published  by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which has  roundly criticized the Jacobson cost study to the point of questioning its validity.  

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Satellites do not measure temperatures, they measure brightness.  Brightness is converted to temperatures via computer models with 5 times the error bars of the surface temperature record.  Satellites do not measure the surface, where people live, they measure where airplanes fly.

  6. NorrisM @5 , thanks yes — I happened to be reading the McKitrick article on J. Curry's Climate etc blog a few hours ago.   I reckon you would be greatly exaggerating the matter, to describe the article as causing a kerfuffle.  [or did you mean: causing a covfefe?  ;-)  ]

    IMO it was quite a yawn ~ just McKitrick trying to make a beat-up over very little.  Far more interesting, NorrisM, were some of the posts in the Climate etc comments column attached to it.  No, not the many usual run-of-the-mill Room Temperature IQ comments (though at least they're relatively civil compared with those on other denialist websites).  But you will find a number of interesting/entertaining posts by Zeke Hausfather.  You won't need to read very far between the lines, to see Hausfather's icy-polite stiletto puncturing McKitrick and basically pointing out that McKitrick is talking horsefeathers.

    ( You may not be aware of it, NorrisM, but McKitrick has an abysmally low reputation among scientists.  The website rationalwiki is often entertaining in its assessments — and the McKitrick entry is worth a look.  Be prepared for a guffaw !  And similarly in their assessments of other climate-denialists, not to mention other areas of non-science. )

    Your side-note comment on the Jacobson 2015 study (mentioned briefly on "another thread" on Sks — "New Paper Shows That Renewables ... " ) ~ yes true there were only about 80 (date 2015) comments there, and many of them were of low quality and unhelpful, and probably you glanced over those ones predating your 2017 comment.  But Jacobson draws a long bow into the technological future.   IMO his emphasis on hydrogen fuel was way over the top, and as you rightly say his hydro-power summation is nowadays shown as a big error.   #Nevertheless, none of that is in any way an excuse not to press ahead with wind/solar conversion at a much faster rate than we are doing currently [and IMO that aspect makes the Jacobson study a very low priority for discussing as a "hot topic". ]

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  7. NorrisM @35: You wrote:


    I have seen no criticism whatever by this website of the June 2017 paper of Clack (NOAA) et al published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which has roundly criticized the Jacobson cost study to the point of questioning its validity.


    As has already been pointed out to you, the primary focus of SkS is the science of climate change and related matters.  The fact that none of the volunteer authors who generate articles for posting on SkS chose not to post an article critiquing the PNAS paper you have referred to is rather insignificant.

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  8. Eclectic @ 6

    Thanks, I will read with interest the blog following McKitrick's essay including Hausfather's comments.  I have actually bit the bullet and purchased a pdf copy of the Millar paper so I have a better idea as to what it actually says (to the extent I can understand it). 

    I have come to realize that the whole issue of climate change and what to do about it is a massively complex matter which is difficult for the layman to grasp. It does worry me whether the public at least could ever get any benefit from a Red Team Blue Team approach.

    What continues to scare me is that we are being asked to expend massive amounts of money (GDP that could have otherwise been directed to other places) to convert from fossil fuels.  I cannot think that there has been any other time in the history of the US where such massive expenditures have been proposed based upon predictions which are in turn based upon economic models.  The closest I can think of was the faith that the Marshall Plan expenditures would result in democracies in Europe.   I suspect that the expenditures of the Marshall Plan as a percentage of GDP would be far less than the US costs of conversion to either wind and solar or, for that matter, nuclear power.

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  9. John Hartz @ 7

    Thanks for your reply.  It just seems to me that in the interests of "balance" a commentary on the Jacobson paper would have been appropriate.  I still think that SkS should take on the issue of costs of converting from fossil fuels to RE.  it would be easy to create a "myth" even based upon my worries as expressed in my reply to Eclectic.

    If there is a website similar to SkS which deals with costs, perhaps you could direct me to it.

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  10. Correction.

    "commentary on the Clack paper" instead of "commentary on the Jacobson paper".

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  11. NorrisM: Your concerns about the lack of an SkS article about the PNAS paper, Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar by Clack et al are duly noted.  There is no need for you to bring this up again. (Excessive repetition is prohibited by the SkS Comments Policy.)

    As you may be aware, the Clack et al paper generated a lively discussion as evidenced in the following articles:

    Dear scientists: Stop bickering about a 100% renewable power grid and start making it happen by Joe Romm, Think Progress, June 20, 2017 

    Jacobson Pushes Back In Fierce Fight With Modelling Critics by Julian Spector, The Energy Mix, June 20, 2017 

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  12. NorrsM: For information about the costs of energy, check out the Energy Mix website. Its stated purpose: 


    The Energy Mix is your guide to climate change and energy issues and solutions. Whether you’re looking for the latest content on the impacts of climate change, the fossil industries that produce the emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency alternatives, or climate solutions outside energy, you’ve come to the right place. Please send us your comments and story ideas!

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  13. I find the concern about spending massive amounts of money for energy transition is misplaced. No such concern was present in the years leading to the 2008 crisis, and the World spent 15 trillions with absolutely nothing to show for it because the entire US financial market had become fradulent; this was made possible by infiltrating regulating bodies with free market nuts who believed that it was all going to regulate itself with people driven exclusively by exteme greed at the wheel. We all know how that ended. Greenspan himself had to confess that he had made the screw up of a life tine when he allowed this belief to be implemented.

    Remarkably, however, the World economy has recovered in less than 10 years, and the effects were a far cry from what was experienced post 1929. If we could spend 15 trillion to indulge the frantic greed of a few criminals, why can't we spend the same for a true energy transition, something that will leave a lasting positive effect on all of humanity? There is no good answer to that question, none. The only morally justifiable thing to do is the carry on the energy transition with at least the same urgency that the criminals expended on the task of enriching themselves.

    In a recent NYT editorial, another free market fanatic made the argument that Harvey was going to be barely a blip in Houston march to prosperity. Little did this person realize that this can be turned around and one can just as well argue that if the Housont area economy can merrily absorb 200 billions of hurricane damage, it could as easily absorb 200 billions of energy transition investment in one quick setting. Priorities... 

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  14. NorrisM,

    Here you sound like a genuine skeptic:

    I have come to realize that the whole issue of climate change and what to do about it is a massively complex matter which is difficult for the layman to grasp. It does worry me whether the public at least could ever get any benefit from a Red Team Blue Team approach.

    Here you don't sound very skeptical, IMHO:

    What continues to scare me is that we are being asked to expend massive amounts of money (GDP that could have otherwise been directed to other places) to convert from fossil fuels. 

    Who is asking you to expend massive amounts of money to convert from fossil fuels? While some targeted subsidies might be cost-effective, all the technology needed to substantially decarbonize the global economy has been invented, awaiting only investment in R&D on more efficient production and distribution, and economies of scale. With a nudge from the 'visible hand' of collective intervention in the 'free' market to re-internalize enough of the marginal climate-change costs of fossil fuels, the omnipresent 'invisible hand' can help steer the carbon-neutral transition rapidly, fairly, and at the lowest net cost. 

    A revenue-neutral US Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment Tariff , for example, would not increase the average federal tax burden. The combined revenues, collected from fuel producers and importers of manufactured goods, would periodically be divided by the number of taxpayers and returned to each of us as a dividend. While the average taxpayer would break even, those who consume more fossil carbon than the national average would, essentially, pay those who use less. CF&D with BAT is effectively a progressive tax: since per-capita energy consumption in fossil carbon equivalents per year is positively correlated with income, there would be a net income transfer downward. The Border Adjustment Tariff would keep US manufacturers competitive domestically and encourage our trading partners to follow our lead.

    Returned to every taxpayer in equal-sized dividends, under CF&D with BAT the fee and tariff revenue would remain in consumer hands, to drive demand for currently available carbon-neutral alternative energy, at prices that compete with fossil fuels accounting for a scientifically justifiable, lower-bound estimate of the marginal cost of CO2-equivalent emissions. With accurate pricing of the true costs of energy from the available sources, market forces will build out alternative energy supplies and infrastructure, until average energy prices are about what they are now. And for now, the buying power of US consumers is still sufficient to propagate decarbonization throughout the globe's tightly integrated economy.

    See citizensclimatelobby.org for more information.

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  15. NorrisM @8 , you make yourself ridiculous, to imply that "massive expenditure" in renewables is being proposed in an unjustifiable way.

    Economically, we are already at the crossover point where future power generation is cheaper with renewables wind/solar.   (You may also have noticed the report that half of U.S. nuclear power plants are unprofitable — partly due to fracked gas and partly due to renewables.  Remarkable!!  And worth contemplation.)   Why would any sane person wish future energy infrastructure spending to be on more expensive items than on cheaper items? — and especially so, in view of the need to eliminate CO2 pollution.

    On a side-note : The Marshall Plan was indeed very expensive — yet I gather that the economists' consensus is that it was money very justified in economic terms (not to mention the humanitarian & geopolitical benefits).

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  16. bozzza@4,

    The current NISDC Arctic Sea Ice News page (October 5, 2017) includes a presentation of multi-year Arctic Sea Ice.

    The 2016 and 2017 extent of ice older than 2 years (sum of 2-3 yr, 3-4, >4) are the lowest in the data record presentation that starts in 1985.

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