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John Hartz

I’ve been toiling in the vineyards of Skeptical Science for about six years. I am currently responsible for populating the SkS Facebook page with links to current news articles about climate science, mitigation and adaption polices, and energy. I maintain a rolling inventory of the articles and post a Roundup of them on the SkS website each Saturday (US). I also continue to generate the SkS Weekly Digest and post it each Sunday.  I also perform moderation duties on the comment threads on both the SkS Facebook page and the SkS website. I have the time to engage in these tasks because I am retired and my wife shares my passion about the need to address manmade climate change.

My environmental philosophy is articulated in the following ancient Native American proverb:

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.

The work I do for Skeptical Science is part of my legacy to my children and grandchildren.

My wife and I currently reside in Columbia, South Carolina.

 

Recent blog posts


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #39

Posted on 26 September 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Sep 20, 2020 through Sat, Sep 26, 2020

Editor's Choice

Climate Disruption Is Now Locked In. The Next Moves Will Be Crucial

Crak in Amery Ice Shelf, Antarctica, 2019

A crack on the Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica last year. If warming destabilizes the continent’s ice irreversibly, ocean levels could continue to rise for centuries. Credit: Richard Coleman/Australian Antarctic Division, via Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

America is now under siege by climate change in ways that scientists have warned about for years. But there is a second part to their admonition: Decades of growing crisis are already locked into the global ecosystem and cannot be reversed.

This means the kinds of cascading disasters occurring today — drought in the West fueling historic wildfires that send smoke all the way to the East Coast, or parades of tropical storms lining up across the Atlantic to march destructively toward North America — are no longer features of some dystopian future. They are the here and now, worsening for the next generation and perhaps longer, depending on humanity’s willingness to take action.

“I’ve been labeled an alarmist,” said Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist in Los Angeles, where he and millions of others have inhaled dangerously high levels of smoke for weeks. “And I think it’s a lot harder for people to say that I’m being alarmist now.”

Click here to access the entire article originally published on the New York Times website.

Climate Disruption Is Now Locked In. The Next Moves Will Be Crucial by John Branch & Brad Pulmer, Climate, New York Times, Sep 22, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #38

Posted on 20 September 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

The tipping points at the heart of the climate crisis

Many parts of the Earth’s climate system have been destabilised by warming, from ice sheets and ocean currents to the Amazon rainforest – and scientists believe that if one collapses others could follow

Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica

The Thwaites glacier in Antarctica, where ice is now melting on a massive scale. Photograph: Nasa/OIB/Jeremy Harbeck/EPA 

The warning signs are flashing red. The California wildfires were surely made worse by the impacts of global heating. A study published in July warned that the Arctic is undergoing “an abrupt climate change event” that will probably lead to dramatic changes. As if to underline the point, on 14 September it was reported that a huge ice shelf in northeast Greenland had torn itself apart, worn away by warm waters lapping in from beneath.

That same day, a study of satellite data revealed growing cracks and crevasses in the ice shelves protecting two of Antarctica’s largest glaciers – indicating that those shelves could also break apart, leaving the glaciers exposed and liable to melt, contributing to sea-level rise. The ice losses are already following our worst-case scenarios.

These developments show that the harmful impacts of global heating are mounting, and should be a prompt to urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But the case for emissions cuts is actually even stronger. That is because scientists are increasingly concerned that the global climate might lurch from its current state into something wholly new – which humans have no experience dealing with. Many parts of the Earth system are unstable. Once one falls, it could trigger a cascade like falling dominoes.

Click here to access the entire aticle as originally posted on the Observer/Guardian website. 

The tipping points at the heart of the climate crisis by Michael Marshall, The Observer/The Guardian, Sep 19, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #38

Posted on 19 September 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Sep 13, 2020 through Sat, Sep 19, 2020

Editor's Choice

Get to Net-Zero by Mid-Century? Even Some Global Oil and Gas Giants Think it Can Be Done

A report by a think tank whose members include the oil giants BP and Shell, as well as some environmental groups, suggests how it could be done and at what cost.

Renewable Energy Compex in China

Aerial view of a wind-solar hybrid photovoltaic power station on September 12, 2020 in Zaozhuang, Shandong Province of China. Credit: Li Zongxian/VCG via Getty Images

The world must get to net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century, and can make it happen for a cost that is relatively small in global terms, $1 trillion to $2 trillion per year, a new report has concluded.

The report was released this week by the Energy Transitions Commission, a think tank whose members include global industry giants like BP.

The report said that electricity should replace fossil fuels across the economy, rather than setting up systems that allow for some emissions that would need to be offset by carbon-removal technologies. Researchers and environmental groups have been saying similar things for years, but the message may be more influential coming from an organization tied to big businesses.

"An exercise like this, done with this group of people, has more political heft than if it was a bunch of academics in the basement," said David Victor, an international relations professor at the University of California San Diego and co-chair of the Brookings Institution's energy and climate initiative.

Click here to access the entire article originally publshed on the InsideClimate News website.

Get to Net-Zero by Mid-Century? Even Some Global Oil and Gas Giants Think it Can Be Done by Dan Gearino, InsideClimate News, Sep 17, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #37

Posted on 13 September 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS...  Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review...

Story of the Week...

Humans exploiting and destroying nature on unprecedented scale – report

Animal populations have plunged an average of 68% since 1970, as humanity pushes the planet’s life support systems to the edge 

Soybean Harvest in Campo Verde, Brazil

Mass soybean harvesting in Campo Verde, Brazil. Intensive agricultures has contributed to the collapse of some animal populations. Photograph: Alffoto/WWF

Wildlife populations are in freefall around the world, driven by human overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture, according to a major new assessment of the abundance of life on Earth.

On average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to the WWF and Zoological Society of London (ZSL)’s biennial Living Planet Report 2020. Two years ago, the figure stood at 60%.

The research is one of the most comprehensive assessments of global biodiversity available and was complied by 134 experts from around the world. It found that from the rainforests of central America to the Pacific Ocean, nature is being exploited and destroyed by humans on a scale never previously recorded.

The analysis tracked global data on 20,811 populations of 4,392 vertebrate species. Those monitored include high-profile threatened animals such as pandas and polar bears as well as lesser known amphibians and fish. The figures, the latest available, showed that in all regions of the world, vertebrate wildlife populations are collapsing, falling on average by more than two-thirds since 1970.

Click here to acess the entire article originally published on the The Guardian website.

Humans exploiting and destroying nature on unprecedented scale – report by Patrick Greenfield, Environment, Guardian, Sep 9, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #37

Posted on 12 September 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Sep 6, 2020 through Sat, Sep 12, 2020

Editor's Choice

With California ablaze, Newsom blasts Trump administration for failing to fight climate change

Wildfire in Oroville, CA in Sep, 2020

Trinity River Conservation Camp crew members drown embers Friday in Oroville. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Standing among charred trees in Oroville, Gov. Gavin Newsom insisted that California will do more to fight climate change and took the Trump administration to task for its policies that reduce environmental protections.

“People that want to roll back vehicle emission standards so you could spend more money at the pump and produce more greenhouse gas emissions, to create more of what you see around me — it’s beyond the pale of comprehension,” Newsom said. “We’re fighting against that and will prevail as long as more people come to this cause.”

The governor warned that the problems facing California and states along the West Coast would soon be experienced across the country.

“This is a climate damn emergency,” he said. “This is real and it’s happening.”

Newsom made a passionate argument for increasing efforts to address climate change as the number of acres that have burned in California so far this year topped 3 million and other state and foreign governments sent resources to battle major blazes statewide. 

Click here to access the entire article originally published on the Los Angeles Times website. 

With California ablaze, Newsom blasts Trump administration for failing to fight climate change by Taryn Luna, California, Los Angeles Times, Sep 11, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #36

Posted on 6 September 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Photo of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review...

Story of the Week...

Massive mystery holes appear in Siberian tundra — and could be linked to climate change

Inspection of tundra crater in Siberia Aug 2020

In August 2020, the RAS Institute of Oil and Gas Problems, supported by the local Yamal authorities, conducted a major expedition to the new crater. Skoltech researchers were part of the final stages of that expedition. Credit: Evgeny Chuvilin

A Russian TV crew flying over the Siberian tundra this summer spotted a massive crater 30 meters (100 feet) deep and 20 meters wide — striking in its size, symmetry and the explosive force of nature that it must have taken to have created it.

Scientists are not sure exactly how the huge hole, which is at least the ninth spotted in the region since 2013, formed. Initial theories floated when the first crater was discovered near an oil and gas field in the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia included a meteorite impact, a UFO landing and the collapse of a secret underground military storage facility.

While scientists now believe the giant hole is linked to an explosive buildup of methane gas — which could be an unsettling result of warming temperatures in the region — there is still a lot the researchers don't know.

Click here to access the entire article originally posted on the CNN website. 

Massive mystery holes appear in Siberian tundra — and could be linked to climate change by Katie Hunt, CNN, Sep 4, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #36

Posted on 5 September 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Aug 30, 2020 through Sat, Sep 5, 2020

Editor's Choice

Biden’s Early Climate Focus and Hard Years in Congress Forged His $2 Trillion Clean Energy Plan

The Democratic nominee has called the Green New Deal a 'crucial framework' for the nation’s future, but he does not support calls for a fracking ban.

Joe Biden 

Former vice-president Joe Biden accepts the Democratic Party nomination for president during the last day of the Democratic National Convention, being held virtually amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware on Aug. 20, 2020. Credit: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images 

Former Vice President Joe Biden's long political career spans the early days of hope for U.S. climate action, and the present days of alarm.

He sponsored one of the first pieces of climate legislation in Congress, a benign proposal to study the greenhouse effect that met enough resistance to signal the hard fight ahead.

More than 30 years later, as the Democratic nominee for president, Biden is seeking to seize what many see as the last opportunity for the U.S. to stave off catastrophe.

Biden's instinct, as embodied in the climate plan he unveiled early in this presidential run, is for moderation. He'd rather regulate than ban. He favors incentives, not force.

But as fire scorched the West and tropical storms doused the East in what science says is only a harbinger of things to come, amid passionate pleas of young activists who fear for their future, and in the face of President Donald Trump's abandonment of U.S. responsibility to act, Biden has jettisoned half-measures.

"We're not just going to tinker around the edges," Biden said in announcing his expanded $2 trillion clean energy transformation plan in July.

Click here to acces the entire article originally posted on the InsideClimate News website.  

Biden’s Early Climate Focus and Hard Years in Congress Forged His $2 Trillion Clean Energy Plan by Marianne Lavelle, InsideClimate News, Aug 31, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #35

Posted on 30 August 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Tropical Storm Laura’s flooding and other impacts on the ground: What we know

The storm’s wind speed, deaths, damages, and possible ties to climate change, explained. 

Hurrican Laura Aftermath

Shutterstock 

Tropical Storm Laura, which has been downgraded from a hurricane, made landfall early Thursday morning in Cameron, Louisiana — just 35 miles east of the Texas-Louisiana border &mdas idh; as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds.

Already, pictures and videos of the storm from Lake Charles, Louisiana, a town about 50 miles north of Cameron, show torn-off roofs, downed power lines, blown-out windows, and dozens of trees ripped from the ground.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’d received a report Thursday morning of the first American fatality from Laura, a 14-year-old girl from Vernon Parish who died when a tree fell on her home. Edwards later said a total of four people in his state have died — all as a result of fallen trees. Laura was also responsible for at least 23 deaths in Haiti and the Dominican Republic earlier this week.

There has been no official word of other injuries or deaths in the US since the storm made landfall. What we know is that about 20 million people reside in the path of the storm and 500,000 have been ordered to evacuate, a task complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

And so far, more than 740,000 homes and businesses are without power in Texas and Louisiana.

Click here to access the entire article originally posted on the Vox website.

Tropical Storm Laura’s flooding and other impacts on the ground: What we know by Roge Karma, Energy & Environment, Vox, Aug 27, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #35

Posted on 29 August 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Aug 23, 2020 through Sat, Aug 30, 2020

Editor's Choice

Fridays for Future: how the young climate movement has grown since Greta Thunberg’s lone protest

Greta Thunberg

 1000 Words/Shutterstock

At the end of her first week on strike in August 2018, Greta Thunberg handed out flyers that said: “You grownups don’t give a shit about my future.” Her appearance at the 2019 UN Climate Summit capped a year in the spotlight for the teenage climate activist. Delegates at the summit gave her a standing ovation, but the sound of their applause couldn’t mask Greta Thunberg’s deep frustration.

“This is all wrong,” she said. “I shouldn’t be up here … yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”

Everything from posters to children’s picture books have captured the inspiring example of Thunberg’s bravery and determination. But adults, even supportive ones, still shirk the opportunity to really pay attention to the remarkable movement she is a part of – its history, its present and its visions for the future.

In doing so, they miss the significance of the last two years. The climate strike movement has grown into a network of global campaigns focused on systemic change to tackle the climate crisis. In the process, young people have outgrown the mainstream environmental movement. They don’t want recognition in the world of today. They want a new world, and they are building it. 

Click here to access the entire article originally posted on The Conversation UK website.

Fridays for Future: how the young climate movement has grown since Greta Thunberg’s lone protest by Benjamin Bowman, The Conversation UK, Aug 28, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #34

Posted on 23 August 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week: Fire... Story of the Week: Ice... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review...

Story of the Week: Fire...

California and Colorado Fires May Be Part of a Climate-Driven Transformation of Wildfires Around the Globe

Wildfires from Australia to Siberia are not just larger, hotter and faster, but burning in areas and seasons where they were previously rare.

California Wildfire Aug 2020

A spot fire from the CZU August Lightning Complex fire burns along Alba Road on the outskirts of Ben Lomond, California, on Aug. 20, 2020. Credit: Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

The wildfires that exploded over the past few days in California and Colorado show clear influences of global warming, climate scientists say, and evidence of how a warming and drying climate is increasing the size and severity of fires from the California coast to the high Rocky Mountains.

They may also be the latest examples of climate-driven wildfires around the world burning not only much bigger, hotter and faster, but exploding into landscapes and seasons in which they were previously rare.

For tens of thousands of Californians enduring evacuations, and millions more suffering through smoke that has brought some parts of the state the worst air quality in the world, the recent fire weather has seemed almost biblical.

The entire state and much of the rest of the West has been, for the last week, in the grip of a "heat dome" that has brought temperatures of 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit to Death Valley, perhaps the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet. On Saturday, Aug. 15, the National Weather Service issued its first ever warning for a tornado born of a wildfire, when radar detected at least five spinning vortices in a pyrocumulonimbus cloud rising from the Loyalton fire near the Nevada state line. Witnesses saw a "firenado" dropping from the smoky storm cloud to the ground.

Click here to access the entire artile originally posted on the InsdieClimate News website.

California and Colorado Fires May Be Part of a Climate-Driven Transformation of Wildfires Around the Globe by Michael Kodas, InsideClimate News, Aug 22, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #34

Posted on 22 August 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Aug 16, 2020 through Sat, Aug 22, 2020

Editor's Choice

Expedition shares scary photos from the North Pole

Loose and weak ice with lots of melt ponds, partly open water, and no signs of multiyear ice. The powerful photos from the MOSAiC expedition reaching the North Pole on August 19 show the dramatic impact of climate changes.

Arctic Sea Ice MOSAiC Expedition Icebreaker Aug 2020

The sea ice is surprisingly weak, has lots of melt ponds, and the expedition ship Polarstern was able to easily break through. Photo: Steffen Graupnerice / MOSAiC

Few photos are better proof of the climate crisis than those taken by the members of the MOSAiC expedition over the last few days. The Barents Observer has obtained permission to repost some of them, showing the current ice-cap on the top of the world.

The photos clearly underline how several recent climate studies, predicting ice-free Arctic summers by 2035, is not a theoretical scenario but rather an unavoidable fact.

The expedition ship Polarstern sailed from the northern Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard to the North Pole this week.

“I’m very surprised to see how soft and easy to traverse the ice up to 88° North is this year, having thawed to the point of being thin and porous,” said Captain Thomas Wunderlich.

“Even after passing 88° North we mostly maintained a speed of 5-7 knots; I’ve never seen that so far north,” the Polarstern captain said.

He added: “The current situation is historic.”

Expedition shares scary photos from the North Pole by Thomas Nilsen, The Barents Observer, Aug 20, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #33

Posted on 16 August 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Going, Going ... Gone: Greenland’s Melting Ice Sheet Passed a Point of No Return in the Early 2000s

A new study finds that the accelerating retreat and thinning of Greenland’s glaciers that began 20 year ago is speeding the ice sheet toward total meltdown.

Greenland, Aug 1, 2019

Water from the Greenland ice sheet flows through heather and peat during unseasonably warm weather on Aug. 1, 2019. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images 

The Greenland Ice Sheet managed to withstand the warming brought by the first 150 years of the industrial age, with enough snow piling up each winter to balance the ice lost to spring and summer melting. But, according to a new study, that all changed 20 years ago.

Starting in 2000, Greenland's glaciers suddenly began moving faster, their snouts rapidly retreating and thinning where they flow into the sea. Between 2000 and 2005, that acceleration led to an all-but irreversible "step-increase" of ice loss, scientists concluded in the new research, published this week in the journal Nature Communications Earth & Environment.

If the climate were to stop warming today, or even cool a little, Greenland's ice will continue to melt, said Ohio State University Earth scientist Ian Howat, co-author of the research paper. "Glacier retreat has knocked the dynamics of the whole ice sheet into a constant state of loss," he said. "Even if we were to stabilize at current temperatures, the ice will continue to disintegrate more quickly than if we hadn't messed with the climate to begin with."

Click here to acces the entire article originally posted on the InsideClimate New website.

Going, Going ... Gone: Greenland’s Melting Ice Sheet Passed a Point of No Return in the Early 2000s by Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, Aug 15, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #33

Posted on 15 August 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Aug 9, 2020 through Sat, Aug 15, 2020

Editor's Choice

Most of UN climate science report likely to be delayed beyond 2021 Glasgow summit

Only the first section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, about the science of global warming, is set to be ready before the postponed Glasgow summit 

Camels, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Camels, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia Ian Swithinbank /Flickr

Most of a blockbuster UN scientific report on climate change is likely to be delayed beyond a UN climate summit due in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021 because of Covid-19.

The three parts of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the main guide to policymakers around the world had originally been due in 2021 in an update of the last global assessment completed in 2014.

The expected publication in 2021 of the reports by the IPCC, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, had been one of few benefits when the UN and host Britain postponed the climate summit in Glasgow to November 2021 from the original date of November 2020 because of the pandemic.

On current plans, however, only the first section of the IPCC report about the science of global warming, including scenarios for temperatures and sea level rise, is now expected to be issued before the summit in Glasgow as timetables slip, IPCC sources said.

The other two main sections – about the impacts of climate change and ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions – will not be published before the summit because of a series of delays to author meetings and scientific research caused by the pandemic. That will also delay a final synthesis report, tying up work by the three working groups due in 2022.

Click here to acces the entire article originally posted on the Climate Home News website.

Most of UN climate science report likely to be delayed beyond 2021 Glasgow summitby Alister Doyle, Climate Home News, Aug 13, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #32

Posted on 9 August 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review...

Story of the Week...

Drawdown Review 2020: How To Address Global Warming In A Responsible Manner

Project Drawdown

Source: Project Drawdown

Project Drawdown is a non-profit organization that relies on the collaborative efforts of many scientists, economists, and technology specialists from around the world to craft intelligent ways of meeting the challenge of a warming planet. Three years ago, the group published its first book, entitled Drawdown, which presented 100 strategies for meeting the goals agreed to by the vast majority of the world’s nations in Paris in 2015.

Three years later, it has updated that original with a new report entitled Drawdown Review, which dares to suggest humanity can manage the climate crisis effectively using only the tools available today. Of course, that assumes we have the will to address the problem as responsible adults.

Drawdown Review is too complex and detailed to compress it into a short article. It is packed with graphs, charts, and footnotes, and we urge you to read it for yourself. Its ten most salient findings are reproduced below, prefaced by these words from the foreword:

“At present, global efforts come nowhere near the scale, speed, or scope required [to address the most recent IPCC report]. Yet many of the means to achieve the necessary transformation already exist. Almost daily, there is promising evolution and acceleration of climate solutions, alongside growing efforts to sunset fossil fuel infrastructure and prevent expansion of these antiquated and dangerous energy sources.”

Click here to access the entire article originally posted on the Clean Technica website.

Drawdown Review 2020: How To Address Global Warming In A Responsible Manner by Steve Hanley, Clean Technica, Aug 8, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #32

Posted on 8 August 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Aug 2, 2020 through Sat, Aug 8, 2020

Editor's Choice

Five Years After Speaking Out on Climate Change, Pope Francis Sounds an Urgent Alarm

The encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ motivated many people to take action on global warming, but governments, the pope said, have lagged far behind.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis delivers his blessing from the window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican during the Sunday Angelus prayer earlier this month. Credit: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty 

When Pope Francis issued his landmark teaching document on climate change in 2015, his words went straight to the heart of Susan Varlamoff.

Varlamoff, 70, a biologist, read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the 1960s and speaks proudly of a Catholic faith that embraces science and calls on church members to take care of the earth. Her sister, she said, died from cancer as a child, and she wondered whether her father's liberal use of pesticides in their suburban yard might have been the cause.

She asked Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who was then the leader of 1.2 million Catholics in Atlanta and across much of Georgia, whether she could write a review for the archdiocese of the Pope's "Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home," the first encyclical to be dedicated to the environment.

Instead, he asked for an action plan.

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the InsideClimate News website. 

Five Years After Speaking Out on Climate Change, Pope Francis Sounds an Urgent Alarm by James Bruggers, InsideClimate News, Aug 7, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #31

Posted on 2 August 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Opinion of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 

Story of the Week...

Rising Seas Could Menace Millions Beyond Shorelines, Study Finds

As climate change raises sea levels, storm surges and high tides will push farther inland, a team of researchers says.

Flooding in Bangladesh

Bangladesh, above, is particularly at risk, along with Virginia and North Carolina in the United States, and parts of France, Germany, India and China. Credit: Munir Uz Zaman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As global warming pushes up ocean levels around the world, scientists have long warned that many low-lying coastal areas will become permanently submerged.

But a new study published Thursday finds that much of the economic harm from sea-level rise this century is likely to come from an additional threat that will arrive even faster: As oceans rise, powerful coastal storms, crashing waves and extreme high tides will be able to reach farther inland, putting tens of millions more people and trillions of dollars in assets worldwide at risk of periodic flooding.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, calculated that up to 171 million people living today face at least some risk of coastal flooding from extreme high tides or storm surges, created when strong winds from hurricanes or other storms pile up ocean water and push it onshore. While many people are currently protected by sea walls or other defenses, such as those in the Netherlands, not everyone is.

If the world’s nations keep emitting greenhouse gases, and sea levels rise just 1 to 2 more feet, the amount of coastal land at risk of flooding would increase by roughly one-third, the research said. In 2050, up to 204 million people currently living along the coasts would face flooding risks. By 2100, that rises to as many as 253 million people under a moderate emissions scenario known as RCP4.5. (The actual number of people at risk may vary, since the researchers did not try to predict future coastal population changes.)

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on The New York Times website.

Rising Seas Could Menace Millions Beyond Shorelines, Study Finds by Brad Plumer, Climate, New York Times, June 30, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #31

Posted on 1 August 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, July 26 through Sat, Aug 1, 2020

Editor's Choice

The four types of climate denier, and why you should ignore them all

The shill, the grifter, the egomaniac and the ideological fool: each distorts the urgent global debate in their own way

Mer de Glace glacier in the French Alps

‘Serious debates about what to do about the climate crisis are turning into action. The deniers have nothing to contribute to this.’ Signs of global warming on the Mer de Glace glacier in the French Alps. Photograph: Konrad K/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

Anew book, described as “deeply and fatally flawed” by an expert reviewer, recently reached the top of Amazon’s bestseller list for environmental science and made it into a weekly top 10 list for all nonfiction titles.

How did this happen? Because, as Brendan Behan put it, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. In an article promoting his book, Michael Shellenberger – with jaw-dropping hubris – apologises on behalf of all environmentalists for the “climate scare we created over the last 30 years”.

Shellenberger was named a hero of the environment by Time magazine in 2008 and is a loud advocate of nuclear power, but the article was described by six leading scientists as “cherry-picking”, “misleading” and containing “outright falsehoods”.

The article was widely republished, even after being removed from its first home, Forbes, for violating the title’s editorial guidelines on self-promotion, adding further heat to the storm. And this is why all those who deny the reality or danger of the climate emergency should be ignored. Obviously, I have broken my own rule here, but only to make this vital point once and for all.

The science is clear, the severity understood at the highest levels everywhere, and serious debates about what to do are turning into action. The deniers have nothing to contribute to this.

Click here to access the entire opinion piece as originally posted on The Guardian website.

The four types of climate denier, and why you should ignore them all, Opinion by Damian Carrington, Comment is Free, Guardian, July 31, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #30

Posted on 26 July 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... John Cook in the News... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Major new climate study rules out less severe global warming scenarios

An analysis finds the most likely range of warming from doubling carbon dioxide to be between 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit

Hog Fire near Susanville, CA

Flames ripped through trees as the Hog Fire jumped Highway 36 about five miles from Susanville, Calif., on Monday. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images).

The current pace of human-caused carbon emissions is increasingly likely to trigger irreversible damage to the planet, according to a comprehensive international study released Wednesday. Researchers studying one of the most important and vexing topics in climate science — how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to a doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — found that warming is extremely unlikely to be on the low end of estimates.

These scientists now say it is likely that if human activities — such as burning oil, gas and coal along with deforestation — push carbon dioxide to such levels, the Earth’s global average temperature will most likely increase between 4.1 and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (2.3 and 4.5 degrees Celsius). The previous and long-standing estimated range of climate sensitivity, as first laid out in a 1979 report, was 2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 4.5 Celsius).

If the warming reaches the midpoint of this new range, it would be extremely damaging, said Kate Marvel, a physicist at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies and Columbia University, who called it the equivalent of a “five-alarm fire” for the planet. 

Click here to access the entire article originally posted on The Washington Post website. 

Major new climate study rules out less severe global warming scenarios by Andrew Freedman & Chris Mooney, Capital Weather Gang, Washington Post, July 22, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #30

Posted on 25 July 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, July 19 through Sat, July 25, 2020

Editor's Choice

The Climate Expert Who Delivered News No One Wanted to Hear

From 2009: How a scientist known as the “father of global warming” watched his dire predictions for the planet come true.

James Hansen: Illustration by John Cuneo  

James Hansen on curbing coal emissions: “The science is clear. This is our one chance.” Illustration by John Cuneo

A few months ago, James Hansen, the director of nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in Manhattan, took a day off from work to join a protest in Washington, D.C. The immediate target of the protest was the Capitol Power Plant, which supplies steam and chilled water to congressional offices, but more generally its object was coal, which is the world’s leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions. As it happened, on the day of the protest it snowed. Hansen was wearing a trench coat and a wide-brimmed canvas boater. He had forgotten to bring gloves. His sister, who lives in D.C. and had come along to watch over him, told him that he looked like Indiana Jones.

The march to the power plant was to begin on Capitol Hill, at the Spirit of Justice Park. By the time Hansen arrived, thousands of protesters were already milling around, wearing green hard hats and carrying posters with messages like “Power Past Coal” and “Clean Coal Is Like Dry Water.” Hansen was immediately surrounded by TV cameras.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on The New Yorker magazine website on June 22, 2009. 

The Climate Expert Who Delivered News No One Wanted to Hear, by Elizabeth Kolbert, Profiles, The New Yorker Magazine, June 27, 2020 Print Edition

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #29

Posted on 19 July 2020 by John Hartz

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Climate change: Summers could become 'too hot for humans'

Health Care Worker in Singapore

Some Singapore health care staff have been working in stifling heat

Millions of people around the world could be exposed to dangerous levels of heat stress - a dangerous condition which can cause organs to shut down.

Many live in developing countries, and do jobs that expose them to potentially life threatening conditions.

These include being out in the open on farms and building sites or indoors in factories and hospitals.

Global warming will increase the chances of summer conditions that may be "too hot for humans" to work in.

When we caught up with Dr Jimmy Lee, his goggles were steamed up and there was sweat trickling off his neck.

An emergency medic, he's labouring in the stifling heat of tropical Singapore to care for patients with Covid-19.

There's no air conditioning - a deliberate choice, to prevent the virus being blown around - and he notices that he and his colleagues become "more irritable, more short with each other".

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on BBC news. 

Climate change: Summers could become 'too hot for humans' by David Shukman, Science & Environment, BBC News, July 16, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #29

Posted on 18 July 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, July 12 through Sat, July 18, 2020

Editor's Choice

Pandemic shows climate has never been treated as crisis, say scientists

Letter also signed by Greta Thunberg urges EU leaders to act immediately on global heating

Climate Demonstration Posters

Source: Shutterstock 

Greta Thunberg and some of the world’s leading climate scientists have written to EU leaders demanding they act immediately to avoid the worst impacts of the unfolding climate and ecological emergency.

The letter, which is being sent before a European council meeting starting on Friday, says the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that most leaders are able to act swiftly and decisively, but the same urgency had been missing in politicians’ response to the climate crisis.

“It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business nor finance. And the longer we keep pretending that we are on a reliable path to lower emissions and that the actions required to avoid a climate disaster are available within today’s system … the more precious time we will lose,” it says.

Greta Thunberg calls for immediate action on 'existential crisis' of climate emergency – video 

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on The Guardian website.

Pandemic shows climate has never been treated as crisis, say scientists by Matthew Taylor, Environment, Guardian, July 16, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #28

Posted on 12 July 2020 by John Hartz

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Global temperatures could exceed crucial 1.5 C target in the next five years

Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland, July 30, 2029

In this aerial view melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. In 2020, the Arctic is likely to have warmed by more than twice the global mean, a new assessment by the WMO found.

There is an increasing chance that annual global temperatures could exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels over the next five years, new climate predictions from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) say.

Under the 2015  Paris climate accord, countries committed to reduce their carbon output and halt global warming below 2 degrees Celsius — and if possible, below 1.5 degrees Celsius — by the end of the century to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

But according to the WMO report, there is around a 20% chance that one of the next five years will be at least 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels, with the chance "increasing with time."

Annual global temperature is likely to be at least 1 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels, and the last five years has been the warmest on record, the assessment — based on modeling and the expertise of climate scientists — found.

In 2020, the Arctic is likely to have warmed by more than twice the global mean, and many parts of South America, southern Africa and Australia are likely to be dryer than in the recent past, the WMO said.

There is a 70% chance that one or more months during the next five years will be at least 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels, the WMO assessment said.

In the coming five years, almost all regions are likely to be warmer than the recent past, scientists warned.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the CNN website. 

Global temperatures could exceed crucial 1.5 C target in the next five years by Amy Woodyatt, CNN, July 9, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #28

Posted on 11 July 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, July 5 through Sat, July 11, 2020

Editor's Choice

Think Covid-19 Disrupted the Food Chain? Wait and See What Climate Change Will Do

The pandemic has revealed deep flaws in the world’s food system and food leaders are calling for global coordination and climate resilient agriculture.

Agriculture

Photo by Paddy Walker on Unsplash

In the months since Covid-19 convulsed the globe, the world's food system has undergone a stress test—and largely failed it.

The pandemic disrupted global supply chains, induced panic buying and cleared supermarket shelves. It left perfectly edible produce rotting in fields, and left farmers no choice but to gas, shoot and bury their livestock because slaughter plants were shut down.

It also revealed a glaring problem: Though researchers have known for decades that climate change will roil farming and food systems, there exists no clear global strategy for building resilience and managing risks in the world's food supply, nor a coherent way to tackle the challenge of feeding a growing global population, on a warming planet where food crises are projected to intensify.

"We need to make sure food is safe, nutritious and sustainable, not just for today but for the future," said Emily Broad Leib, director of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic. "There's growing acknowledgement that this has been something that's not been addressed in a coordinated way."

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the InsideClimate New website.

Think Covid-19 Disrupted the Food Chain? Wait and See What Climate Change Will Do by Georgina Gustin, InsideClimate News, July 7, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #27

Posted on 5 July 2020 by John Hartz

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Stop making sense: why it's time to get emotional about climate change

The science has been settled to the highest degree, so now the key to progress is understanding our psychological reactions.

Rebecca Huntley

Rebecca Huntley, an Australian social researcher and expert on social trends, at home in Sydney. Her new book is How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference. Photograph: Carly Earl/The Guardian

It took me much longer than it should have to realise that educating people about climate change science was not enough. Due perhaps to my personality type (highly rational, don’t talk to me about horoscopes, please) and my background (the well-educated daughter of a high school teacher and an academic), I have grown up accepting the idea that facts persuade and emotions detract from a good argument.

Then again, I’m a social scientist. I study people. I deal mostly in feelings, not facts. A joke I like to tell about myself during speeches is that I’m an expert in the opinions of people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Over the 15 years I’ve been a social researcher, I’ve watched with concern the increasing effects of climate change, and also watched as significant chunks of the electorate voted for political parties with terrible climate change policies.

There is clearly a disconnect between what people say they are worried about and want action on and who, when given the chance, they pick to lead their country.

The science behind climate change has been proven correct to the highest degree of certainty the scientific method allows. But climate change is more than just the science. It’s a social phenomenon. And the social dimensions of climate change can make the science look simple – the laws of physics are orderly and neat but people are messy.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on The Guardian website.  

Stop making sense: why it's time to get emotional about climate change by Rebecca Huntley, Environment, Guardian, July 4, 2020

This article is an edited extract from How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference, by Rebecca Huntley (Murdoch Books, $32.99)

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #27

Posted on 4 July 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, June 28 through Sat, July 4, 2020

Editor's Choice

'2040': A funny, entertaining, upbeat climate documentary

A timely Australian documentary takes a 'solutions' approach, with the filmmaker inspired by visions of his young daughter as an adult.

Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau did not create “2040” for viewing during the coronavirus pandemic. Although only now being released, online, in the U.S., the documentary premiered in Australia in the spring of 2019.

Nevertheless, the film fits well with this summer 2020 moment. For a nation wondering what post-pandemic life will look like, “2040” provides an optimistic vision of a new normal, one that addresses issues of social justice while meeting challenges posed by climate change.

As such, “2040” is the most upbeat documentary about climate change since climatologist Richard Alley’s PBS series “Earth: An Operator’s Manual.” And it’s often funny, entertaining, and, in a family sitcom sort-of-way, touching.

“2040” begins with the movie-poster scene of Gameau planting a tree with his 4-year-old daughter, Velvet. In a voiceover, Gameau explains that he worries about how climate change will affect his daughter’s future. He knows the science; he briefly explains it using the heating, plumbing, and refrigeration systems of his house as analogies for different parts of the carbon cycles. And he says he often has felt overwhelmed by the doom-and-gloom depictions of climate change in popular media.

He wants to change this: “As a father, I think there’s room for a different story, a story that focuses on solutions.”

To write this new story, Gameau poses a question: “What [would] the world look like in 2040, if we just embraced the best that already exists?” And for “already exists” Gameau adopts a cardinal rule: “Everything I show in this 2040 has to exist today in some form. I can’t make it up.” Having laid down these ground rules, Gameau begins the work of assembling “the best that already exists” into a plausible depiction of his daughter’s life as an adult in 2040.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the Yale Climate Connections website.

2040': A funny, entertaining, upbeat climate documentary by Michael Svoboda, Article, Yale Climate Connections, June 29, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #26

Posted on 28 June 2020 by John Hartz

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Global Warming Is Melting Our Sense of Time

East Siberia Heat Wave Fires 

Satellite image of smoke from active fires burning near the Eastern Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, Russia, on June 23, 2020. Photo: Handout/NASA Earth Observatory

On June 20, in the small Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, north of the Arctic Circle, a heat wave baking the region peaked at 38 degrees Celsius — just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic. In a world without climate change, this anomaly, one Danish meteorologist calculated, would be a 1-in-100,000-year event. Thanks to climate change, that year is now.

If you saw this news, last weekend, it was probably only a glimpse (primetime network news didn’t even cover it). But the overwhelming coverage of perhaps more immediately pressing events — global protests, global pandemic, economic calamity — is only one reason for that climate occlusion. The extreme weather of the last few summers has already inured us to temperature anomalies like these, though we are only just at the beginning of the livable planet’s transformation by climate change — a transformation whose end is not yet visible, if it will ever be, and in which departures from the historical record will grow only more dramatic and more disorienting and more lethal, almost by the year. At just 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming, where the planet is today, we have already evicted ourselves from the “human climate niche,” and brought ourselves outside the range of global temperatures that enclose the entire history of human civilization. That history is roughly 10,000 years long, which means that in a stable climate you would only expect to encounter an anomaly like this one if you ran the full lifespan of all recorded human history ten times over — and even then would only encounter it once.

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the New York Magazine website.

Global Warming Is Melting Our Sense of Time by David Wallace-Wells, Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 27, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #26

Posted on 27 June 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, June 21 through Sat, June 27, 2020

Editor's Choice

Facebook creates fact-checking exemption for climate deniers

Earth at Night

Facebook is "aiding and abetting the spread of climate misinformation,” said Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Drexel University. “They have become the vehicle for climate misinformation, and thus should be held partially responsible for a lack of action on climate change.”

Brulle was reacting to Facebook's recent decision, made at the request of climate science deniers, to create a giant loophole in its fact-checking program. Last year, Facebook partnered with an organization, Science Feedback, that would bring in teams of Ph.D. climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of viral content. It was an important expansion of the company's third-party fact-checking program. 

But now Facebook has reportedly decided to allow its staffers to overrule the climate scientists and make any climate disinformation ineligible for fact-checking by deeming it "opinion." 

The organization that requested the change, the CO2 Coalition, is celebrating, E&E news reported on Monday. The group, which has close ties to the fossil fuel industry, says its views on climate change are increasingly ignored by the mainstream media. Now it plans to use Facebook to aggressively push climate misinformation on the public—without having to worry about fact checks from climate scientists.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the Heated website. 

Facebook creates fact-checking exemption for climate deniers by Emily Atkin, Heated, June 24, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #25

Posted on 21 June 2020 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

Bangladesh Coal Plants Threaten World's Largest Mangrove Forest

Important Coastal Barrier at Risk from Increased Pollution

Unloading coal in Bangladesh 

The Bangladesh government threatens to destroy life-saving forests by building coal-fired power plants. Coal fired plants are a major contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. (Sipa via AP Images)

Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful to strike in the Bay of Bengal in 20 years, made landfall on the India-Bangladesh coast last month. Amphan ripped off roofs, washed away homes, and flooded farms. Crucially, Bangladesh was able to mitigate impact and save lives because of its robust emergency response system with early warnings and mass-evacuations.

But coastal communities were also protected by Bangladesh’s natural storm shield: the Sundarbans. A protected World Heritage site, this mangrove forest holds land together with its roots as the tides rise. As climate change increases the intensity of extreme weather events like Amphan, the Sundarbans are at risk when they’re needed most.

But the Bangladesh government threatens to destroy these life-saving forests by building coal-fired power plants that could subject them, and the nearly 2.5 million people who depend on them for their livelihoods, to harmful pollution. And while the mangroves slow climate change by soaking up carbon, coal-fired plants contribute greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

Of particular concern is the proposed Rampal Thermal Power Plant, just north of the Sundarbans. Scientists and activists have repeatedly voiced concerns that the plant could spell disaster for the world’s largest mangrove forest. But the government has fought calls to cancel or relocate the projectusing tear gas and rubber bullets against protestors and insisting, contrary to scientific evidence, that the plant will do no harm.

Bangladesh Coal Plants Threaten World’s Largest Mangrove Forest by Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch, June 18, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the Human Rights Watch website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #25

Posted on 20 June 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, June 14 through Sat, June 20, 2020

Editor's Choice

World has six months to avert climate crisis, says energy expert

International Energy Agency chief warns of need to prevent post-lockdown surge in emissions

Coal Fired Power Plant in Dattein, Germany

The cooling tower of a coal-fired power plant in Datteln, Germany. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

The world has only six months in which to change the course of the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe, one of the world’s foremost energy experts has warned.

“This year is the last time we have, if we are not to see a carbon rebound,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.

Governments are planning to spend $9tn (£7.2tn) globally in the next few months on rescuing their economies from the coronavirus crisis, the IEA has calculated. The stimulus packages created this year will determine the shape of the global economy for the next three years, according to Birol, and within that time emissions must start to fall sharply and permanently, or climate targets will be out of reach.

“The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond,” Birol told the Guardian. “If we do not [take action] we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will be brought down in future. This is why we are urging governments to have sustainable recovery packages.”

World has six months to avert climate crisis, says energy expert by Fiona Harvey, Environment, Guardian, June 18, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on The Guardian website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #24

Posted on 14 June 2020 by John Hartz

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'Surprisingly rapid' rebound in carbon emissions post-lockdown

Busier roads to blame, with fears of worse to come as workers shun public transport

 Auto Queue in UK

Huge queues of traffic blocked roads throughout Staines, Middlesex, when the McDonald’s drive-through restaurant reopened on 20 May. Photograph: Maureen McLean/Rex

Carbon dioxide emissions have rebounded around the world as lockdown conditions have eased, raising fears that annual emissions of greenhouse gases could surge to higher than ever levels after the coronavirus pandemic, unless governments take swift action.

Emissions fell by a quarter when the lockdowns were at their peak, and in early April global daily carbon dioxide emissions were still down by 17% compared with the average figure for 2019, research published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change found.

Now daily carbon emissions are still down on 2019 levels, but by only 5% on average globally, according to an updated study.

“Things have happened very fast,” said Corinne Le Quéré, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia and the lead author of the studies. “Very few countries still have stringent confinement. We expected emissions to come back, but that they have done so rapidly is the biggest surprise.” 

'Surprisingly rapid' rebound in carbon emissions post-lockdown by Fiona Harvey, Environment, Guardian, June 11, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on The Guardian website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #24

Posted on 13 June 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, June 7 through Sat, June 13, 2020

Editor's Choice

Michael Mann Fought Climate Denial. Now He’s Fighting Climate Doom.

The climatologist is taking on both the fossil fuel lobby and those who think the climate fight is futile.

Michael Mann 

ONE AUGUST AFTERNOON IN 2010, Michael Mann was opening mail in his office at Penn State University when a dusting of white powder emerged from an envelope. At first he thought it was his imagination. “I figured maybe it’s just an old dingy envelope or something,” Mann recalled. His next thought: anthrax.

Mann bolted out of his office and shut the door, washed his hands, and called the cops. Soon, the FBI arrived. Agents retrieved the letter for testing while Mann was left to explain to stunned colleagues why there was police tape sealing his door.

Death threats weren’t exactly the kind of thing Mann ’89 had imagined as an undergrad at Cal, when he was first thinking about a life in academia. But his career as a climate scientist had attracted some very powerful and determined enemies. Over the years, he’d gotten used to verbal attacks and idle threats, but this was on a different level. He began to worry about his family’s safety.

In the end, the powder proved to be cornstarch, but police gave Mann a hotline number just in case. He and his wife put it on the refrigerator.  

Michael Mann Fought Climate Denial. Now He’s Fighting Climate Doom. by Bryan Schatz, California Magazine, Summer 2020 Edition

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #23

Posted on 7 June 2020 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

Earth has hottest May on record, with 2020 on track to be one of the top 10 warmest years

Sunset

  • The Earth had its hottest May ever last month, continuing a climate change trend as 2020 is set to be among the hottest 10 years ever, scientists with the Copernicus Climate Change Service announced on Friday. 
  • 2019 was the second-hottest year ever, capping off the world’s hottest decade in recorded history. And six of the warmest years on record were during the past decade.
  • The continuous upward trend in global temperatures results from greenhouse gas emissions that change the climate.

Earth has hottest May on record, with 2020 on track to be one of the top 10 warmest years by Emma Newburger, Environment, CNBC, June 5, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the CNBC website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23

Posted on 6 June 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 31 through Sat, June 6, 2020

Editor's Choice

The world must seize this opportunity to meet the climate challenge

As current and former central bankers, we believe the pandemic offers a unique chance to green the global economy

Financial System Reform

‘Over the last year, we have seen record temperatures across Europe, extreme rainfall in the US, and, for the first time ever, wildfires in the Arctic.’ Soaring temperatures in Paris, July 2019. Photograph: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

we are currently in the midst of the most severe macroeconomic shock since the second world war. The disruption to our daily lives and subsequent impact on our economies has been enormous. We are seeing first-hand that a collective response is needed to defeat a common enemy, as authorities across the world courageously mobilise all available resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

This crisis offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild our economy in order to withstand the next shock coming our way: climate breakdown. Unless we act now, the climate crisis will be tomorrow’s central scenario and, unlike Covid-19, no one will be able to self-isolate from it.

In the immediate response to the pandemic, governments have taken measures of unprecedented scale to keep economic and financial systems afloat. The IMF estimates that approximately $9tn of fiscal support has been provided across the world. This is necessary to limit acute and permanent damage. But as we consider the next stage of recovery, we must look beyond the immediate crisis and think more strategically about how we do it.

The world must seize this opportunity to meet the climate challenge, Opinion by Andrew Bailey, Mark Carney, François Villeroy de Galhau & Frank Elderson. Comment is Free, Guardian, June 5. 2020

 Andrew Bailey is governor of the Bank of England; François Villeroy de Galhau is governor of Banque de France; Frank Elderson is chair of the Network for Greening the Financial System and executive board member of the Nederlandsche Bank; Mark Carney is UN special envoy for climate action and finance.

Click here to access the entire opinion piece as originally published on The Guardian website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #22

Posted on 31 May 2020 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

Climate concerns as Siberia experiences record-breaking heat

Heat wave sparks concerns about devastating wildfire season and melting permafrost.

Satellite image of wildfire in Siberia on May 19, 2020

Satellite imagery of a wildfire in Siberia, Russia above the arctic circle on May 19, 2020. Copernicus Sentinel/Sentinel Hub/Pierre Markuse

One of the coldest regions on Earth has been experiencing a record-breaking heat wave in recent weeks amid growing fears about devastating wildfires and melting permafrost.

Khatanga, a town in Siberia’s Arctic Circle, registered highs of over 80 degrees Fahrenheit this week, according to Accuweather, far above the 59 degrees F historical average, as the whole of western Siberia basked in unseasonable warmth.

While locals flocked to popular spots to sunbathe, experts sounded alarms about the possible implications for the region’s wildfire season this summer, with some blazes already breaking out in recent months. 

Climate concerns as Siberia experiences record-breaking heat by Luke Denne and Olivia Sumrie, Climate in Crisis, NBC News, May 29, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #22

Posted on 30 May 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 24 through Sat, May 30, 2020

Editor's Choice

Antarctic Ocean Reveals New Signs of Rapid Melt of Ancient Ice, Clues About Future Sea Level Rise

A study of seafloor ripples suggests that ice shelves can retreat six miles per year, a quantum increase over today’s rates.

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A new study in the journal Science found that floating ice shelves can melt much more rapidly than previously thought—at a rate of about six miles per year. Credit: Massimo Rumi/Barcroft Media via Getty Images 

Climate researchers racing to calculate how fast and how high the sea level will rise found new clues on the seafloor around Antarctica. A study released today suggests that some of the continent's floating ice shelves can, during eras of rapid warming, melt back by six miles per year, far faster than any ice retreat observed by satellites.

As global warming speeds up the Antarctic meltdown, the findings "set a new upper limit for what the worst-case might be," said lead author Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

The estimate of ice shelf retreat is based on a pattern of ridges discovered on the seafloor near the Larsen Ice Shelf. The spacing and size of the ridges suggest they were created as the floating ice shelves rose and fell with the tides while rapidly shrinking back from the ocean. In findings published today in Science, the researchers estimate that to corrugate the seafloor in this way, the ice would have retreated by more than 150 feet per day for at least 90 days.

Antarctic Ocean Reveals New Signs of Rapid Melt of Ancient Ice, Clues About Future Sea Level Rise by Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, May 28, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the InsideClimate News website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #21

Posted on 24 May 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

What a Week’s Disasters Tell Us About Climate and the Pandemic

Extreme weather presents an even bigger threat when economies are crashing and ordinary people are stretched to their limits.

Locusts in Kenya, Jan 2020

Locusts swarmed crops on a farm in Katitika, a village in Kenya, in January. Credit: Ben Curtis, AP

The hits came this week in rapid succession: A cyclone slammed into the Indian megacity of Kolkata, pounding rains breached two dams in the Midwestern United States, and on Thursday came warning that the Atlantic hurricane season could be severe.

It all served as a reminder that the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 325,000 people so far, is colliding with another global menace: a fast-heating planet that acutely threatens millions of people, especially the world’s poor.

Climate change makes extreme weather events more frequent and more intense. Now, because of the pandemic, they come at a time when national economies are crashing and ordinary people are stretched to their limits.

What a Week’s Disasters Tell Us About Climate and the Pandemic by Somini Sengupta, Climate, New York Times, May 23, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the New York Times website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #21

Posted on 23 May 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 17 through Sat, May 23, 2020

Editor's Choice

More than 80 killed in India and Bangladesh as Cyclone Amphan heaps misery on coronavirus-hit areas

 House damaged by Cyclone Amphan in Midnapore, West Bengal

A man salvages items from his house damaged by Cyclone Amphan in Midnapore, West Bengal, on May 21, 2020.

More than 80 people have been killed and thousands more left homeless after Cyclone Amphan slammed into coastal towns and cities in India and Bangladesh on Wednesday afternoon.

Authorities are now racing to provide relief efforts in communities already stricken by the coronavirus, hampered in many areas by heavy rains and fallen debris that has made roads impassible.

Large-scale evacuation efforts appear to have saved many lives, but it could take days to realize the full extent of the deaths, injuries and damage from the cyclone.

Amphan — which was the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal before it weakened — ripped apart homes, tore down trees, washed away bridges and left large predominately rural areas without power or communications.

"I have never seen such disaster," Banerjee told reporters. "All areas have faced destruction. Nothing is left."

In neighboring Bangladesh, 10 people have been confirmed dead, according to the governmental Health Emergency Operations Center. Among those killed was a 57-year-old Red Crescent volunteer in Barisal who drowned when attempting to help others to safety, the Red Crescent Society of Bangladesh said.

More than 80 killed in India and Bangladesh as Cyclone Amphan heaps misery on coronavirus-hit areas by Prema Rajaram, Manveena Suri, Esha Mitra, Helen Regan and Vedika Sud, CNN, May 21, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #20

Posted on 17 May 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Graphic of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

The Largest Arctic Science Expedition in History Finds Itself on Increasingly Thin Ice

Covid-19 is just one of many setbacks for hundreds of scientists pursuing critical climate questions in the world’s most remote and inhospitable environment.

MOASiC Follows Nansen's Lead

In March 2019, at a crowded happy hour in Boulder, Colorado, I sat listening to Matt Shupe, an atmospheric scientist, describing his decades-long dream that was about to come true. 

He was sprinting to finish the years of planning and preparations required to freeze an icebreaker into the Arctic Ocean ice as close to the North Pole as it could get. The vessel would drift with the ice for a year as a rotating cast of nearly 600 experts from 20 nations representing dozens of scientific disciplines spread out in research camps around the ship.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #20

Posted on 16 May 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 10 through Sat, May 16, 2020

Editor's Choice

These 6 books explore climate change science and solutions

 6 Books Reviewed by Science News

Recent books about climate change tackle science and offer visions of the future. 

Climate change is increasingly becoming part of everyday conversations. For those who want to join the discussions, there is no shortage of books that give detailed background and context on the subject. The question is, which to read?

Science News staff members have reviewed several books published this year to guide you to which ones you might like. Many of these offerings address perhaps the most press­ing question: With limited time to act, what’s the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avert the most dire impacts of climate change?

These 6 books explore climate change science and solutions by Staff, Science News, May 16, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #19

Posted on 10 May 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Disease-carrying mosquitoes could be common in Europe by 2030

Mosquito Suking Blood 

Climate change could mean mosquitoes that can carry diseases like dengue, zika and yellow fever become established in southern Europe within 10 years.

Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are increasing the number of areas Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can live in, potentially spreading diseases to new places.

Modelling from Imperial College London and Tel Aviv University predicts the mosquitoes will accelerate their invasion of parts of China, North America and European countries including Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey in the coming decades. The results are published in Nature Communications.

Dr Kris Murray, from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis in the School of Public Health and the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and Environment at Imperial, said: “This work helps reveal the potential long-term costs of failing to curb greenhouse gas emissions right now.

“Our results show that this species of mosquito has very likely already benefitted from recent climate change across much of the world. But this increase in suitability is now also starting to accelerate. We predict that significant emissions cuts can help slow it down.”

Disease-carrying mosquitoes could be common in Europe by 2030 by Hayley Dunning, Science, Imperial College of London, May 6, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the Imperial College London website. 

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #19

Posted on 9 May 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 3 through Sat, May 9, 2020

Editor's Choice

A Pandemic That Cleared Skies and Halted Cities Isn’t Slowing Global Warming

Oil tankers california Oil tankers carrying more than 20 million barrels of oil float off the coast of California.

Oil tankers carrying more than 20 million barrels of oil float off the coast of California. Credit: Petty Officer Third Class Aidan Cooney/US Coast Guard

In some ways, the dire lockdowns undertaken to stop Covid-19 have fast-forwarded us into an unlikely future—one with almost impossibly bold climate action taken all at once, no matter the cost.

Just months ago it would have been thought impossible to close polluting factories virtually overnight and slash emissions from travel by keeping billions at home. Now we know that clear skies and silent streets can come about with shocking speed.

The pandemic is a cataclysmic event so big and disruptive that it can be measured in the planetary metrics of climate change. As many as 2.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, about 8% of the estimated total for the year, will never be emitted into the atmosphere, according to estimates by the International Energy Agency. Pick any world-shaking event from 20th century history—none has produced a bigger decrease in emissions. 

A Pandemic That Cleared Skies and Halted Cities Isn’t Slowing Global Warming by Laura Millan Lombrana & Hayley Warren, Bloomberg Green, May 8, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the Bloomberg News website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #18

Posted on 3 May 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

On a Melting Planet, More Precisely Tracking the Decline of Ice

New laser measurements can help pinpoint how and when the world’s vast stores of ice will vanish.

Sea Ice

A new study helps show from where the water rising sea levels is coming, and exactly which processes are causing it. Credit: Bob Berwyn

From the frozen crags of the Andes and Rockies to country-sized ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica, global warming is melting the world's ice at a dizzying rate. In the last five years, mountain glaciers have unexpectedly disintegrated and collapsed, including a pair of deadly ice avalanches in Tibet. In Alaska, a quarter-mile section of the Flat Creek glacier broke away and oozed down the valley, mowing down 400-year-old trees.

This ice loss is worrying for many reasons. Modern humans evolved on a planet where ice has been a crucial regulator, reflecting some of the sun's heat back to space, and storing huge amounts of moisture—about 69 percent of the world's freshwater is stored in glaciers and ice sheets. Slow melting and replenishment were in balance for 10,000 years or so, until human-caused global warming disrupted the cycl

The meltdown is having impacts across the planet. As ice melts off Greenland and Antarctica their gravitational mass decreases, sending the water surging toward the equator, where sea level rising two or three times as fast as the global average is already swamping islands. A study published April 30 in the journal Science helps show from where the water is coming, and exactly which processes are causing it.

The loss of mountain glaciers is disconcerting for cities and farming areas in the Western United States and other areas that rely on slow-melting mountain ice. Alpine towns that have faced giant avalanches of ice, mud, rocks and snow are also anxious and in South America, mountain towns are threatened by sudden floods from collapsing glaciers.

On a Melting Planet, More Precisely Tracking the Decline of Ice by Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, Apr 30, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the InsideClimate News website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #18

Posted on 2 May 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Apr 26 through Sat, May 2, 2020

Editor's Choice

Only ‘A-list’ of coral reefs found to sustain ecosystems, livelihoods

Coral Reef Solomon Island
  • Most of tropical reefs are no longer able to both sustain coral reef ecosystems and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them, as human pressure and the impacts of climate change increase.
  • That was the finding of a new study that looked at 1,800 coral reef sites spread throughout the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic ocean basins.
  • Only 5% of those sites have plentiful fish stocks, high fish biodiversity and grazing, and well-preserved ecosystem functions — which are key marine ecological metrics.
  • The study authors say location and the expected targets set by authorities implementing reef conservation are key to helping other sites achieve these multiple goals.

Most of the tropical reef sites around the world are no longer able to simultaneously sustain coral reef ecosystems and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them, as human pressure and impacts of climate change increase, a new study shows.

Only 5% of 1,800 tropical reef sites across 41 countries, states and territories on Earth had plentiful fish stocks, high fish biodiversity and grazing, and well-preserved ecosystem functions — which are key marine ecological metrics, according to the authors of the paper published April 17 in Science magazine.

These sites were geographically spread through the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic ocean basins, the study said.

“These are like the Hollywood A-listers of coral reefs,” said lead author Josh Cinner, from James Cook University in Australia. “They have it all, but they’re also rare and live in exclusive areas — remote locations with little human pressure.”

Only ‘A-list’ of coral reefs found to sustain ecosystems, livelihoods by Basten Gokkon, Mongabay, Apr 27, 2020

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

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #17

Posted on 26 April 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Why climate activists aren't celebrating historic emissions cuts

They are zeroing in on the battle over once-in-a-generation government spending that will shape climate efforts for decades.

London During COVID-19 Lockdown 

Global carbon emissions are projected to fall this year as cities like London have enacted shelter-in-place orders. | Aaron Chown/PA via AP 

Carbon emissions are set to fall by historic amounts this year, but environmental advocates aren’t celebrating.

Instead, they are zeroing in on a new battle: putting green conditions on the trillions in stimulus funds governments around the world are pumping into their economies to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

They will have to overcome a series of obstacles to achieve that goal, more than 30 officials, activists and analysts said in interviews with POLITICO.

A new Ipsos-Mori poll across 14 countries in the G-20 shows a majority in every country surveyed agrees economic recovery should “prioritize climate change.” Lawmakers, however, must balance that sentiment with requests for bailouts and regulatory relief from sectors that are both hard hit and high polluting, including aviation, automakers and fossil fuels.

It’s still early days in this trench warfare, but thus far government leaders’ lofty green rhetoric hasn't been matched with actions.

Neither the loan packages and debt pauses negotiated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, nor the $8 trillion in domestic stimulus packages in rich countries feature significant green conditions or investments. 

Why climate activists aren't celebrating historic emissions cuts by Ryan Heath, Kalina Oroschakoff, Zack Colman & Maura Forrest, Environment, Politico, Apr 23, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #17

Posted on 25 April 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Apr 19 through Sat, Apr 25, 2020

Editor's Choice

I Am a Mad Scientist

Dr Kate Marvel

I’ve heard it a couple times already, from a journalist, a family friend, a neighbor: You must be happy about all of this. The implication is that because I’m a climate scientist, I must be excited about this time of reduced economic activity and greenhouse emissions. The Earth is healing, they say. Nature is returning. Why wouldn’t I be glad about it?

Friends, I’m definitely not happy. I’m not even sad. What I am, more than anything, is angry.

I’m angry at the very idea that there might be a silver lining in all this. There is not. Carbon dioxide is so long-lived in the atmosphere that a small decrease in emissions will not register against the overwhelming increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution. All this suffering will not make the planet any cooler. If the air quality is better now, if fewer people die from breathing in pollution, this is not a welcome development so much as an indictment of the way things were before.

I Am a Mad Scientist by Kate Marvel, Drilled News, Apr 22, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on the Drilled News website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #16

Posted on 19 April 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Q&A: Denis Hayes, Planner of the First Earth Day, Discusses the ‘Virtual’ 50th 

Covid-19 forced the event online, but, Hayes says, “There is simply no substitute for a billion people in the streets—and right now, that is against the law."

Denis Hayes

Co-founder of Earth Day Denis Hayes speaks at the speaks at the lighting of the Earth Ball press conference in Times Square on April 22, 2009 in New York City. Credit: Mark Von Holden/WireImage 

Denis Hayes was a 25-year-old graduate student at Harvard University when he read about a Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson, who was planning to organize an environmental teach-in on college campuses.

Hayes hightailed it to Washington, D.C., hoping to convince Nelson to let him organize a teach-in at Harvard, and maybe other colleges in and around Boston. Two days later, Hayes dropped out of the John F. Kennedy School of Government to coordinate a national event, "Earth Day."

The day made history. The rest is environmental history, one that neither Hayes nor Nelson even expected.

On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, climate change, deforestation and chemical-intensive agriculture had yet to become existential crises. The issue was pollution, the day a call to action to protect precious resources—-air, water, land and all living things—-from the encroaching toxins of industrial society. That proved enough to draw a crowd.

Twenty million people—10 percent of the population of the United States at the time—-participated in rallies and events from coast to coast that day. Thousands of colleges and universities joined in with organized protests. School children planted trees, swept streets and picked up trash on beaches. What came after changed the world. By the end of 1970, Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

Q&A: Denis Hayes, Planner of the First Earth Day, Discusses the ‘Virtual’ 50th by Evelyn Nieves, InsideClimate News, Apr 17, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

Posted on 18 April 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Apr 12 through Sat, Apr 18, 2020

Editor's Choice

World’s Largest Online Climate Conference Announced to Mark 50th Anniversary of World’s First Earth Day

Earth from Space

Over 100 speakers from five continents will participate in Earth Day Week. The world’s largest online climate conference ever held. Tune in Daily from 20 to 25 April: Leading Voices from Sachs to Robins and Figueres to Thiaw. Partners behind the conference have a total social media reach of over 85 million followers and include key representatives of business; the United Nations; governments; academia and scientific think-tanks; entrepreneurs; social media platforms; artists; campaigners and civil society.

Stockholm/Washington DC, 14 April 2020–Today marks the six-day countdown to what is shaping up to the be the biggest climate conference of 2020. In just six days around 100 of the world’s key experts ‘meet’ to fast forward the creative solutions needed to build a better future and avert the biggest crisis facing humanity.

The event, organized by the social network We Don’t Have Time in collaboration with lead partners Exponential Roadmap and Earth Day Network, will be live streamed as part of the 50 anniversary events marking Earth Day 2020.

Other partners and guests include key representatives of business; the United Nations; the UK government; academia and scientific think-tanks; entrepreneurs; social media platform Twitter; artists; campaigners and civil society.

Worlds largest online climate conference announced to mark the 50th anniversary of world’s first Earth Day, Press Release, Earth Day, Apr 14, 2020

Click here to access the entire press release.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #15

Posted on 12 April 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Fridays for Future News... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Coronavirus puts Arctic climate change research on ice

Coronavirus lockdowns have been touted on social media as helping to fight climate change. But in the Arctic Circle the virus is disrupting climate science. It could leave important gaps in our understanding.

EastGRIP Research Facility Greenland

East GRIP research facility in Greenland

Every year 150 climate scientists fly far into the wilderness and bore deep into Greenland's largest glacier. Their work is complicated and important. The EastGRIP project is trying to understand how ice streams underneath the glacier are pushing vast amounts of ice into the ocean, and how this contributes to rising sea levels. But this year the drills will be silent. The ice streams will go unmeasured. 

The reason is the coronavirus. The fallout from measures to contain the outbreak have made the research impossible. Greenland is closed to foreigners. Its government is worried any outbreak could be particularly dangerous to its indigenous population and rapidly overwhelm its health services. 

Even if the country were open, it just isn't practical to bring an international team of scientists together, 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away from the nearest airport, in case one of them is sick. The transport planes that normally fly in the teams and resupply them have also been grounded. Nobody wants to be responsible for bringing small, isolated communities into contact with the virus.

Coronavirus puts Arctic climate change research on ice by Alex Matthews, Deutsche Welle (DW), Apr 12, 2020

Click here to access the entire article.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #15

Posted on 11 April 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Apr 5 through Sat, Apr 11, 2020

Editor's Choice

Jennifer Nuzzo: “We’re Definitely Not Overreacting” to COVID-19

Johns Hopkins epidemiologist and infectious disease expert Jennifer Nuzzo on why vaccines aren’t the answer, how COVID-19 is unique, and how to stay safe.

Jennifer Nuzzo 

We are living in strange times. The streets and highways that run through busy cities around the world are uncharacteristically empty. Schools are closed. Storefronts are boarded up. Many people are just trying to figure out how to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Preparation is key, says epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo. But that doesn’t mean stockpiling paper goods and cleaning supplies. Each country needs to be prepared, and it is now clear that many were not.

Nuzzo’s work at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has focused on pandemics and outbreaks. Less than three months before the earliest reported case of humans infected with COVID-19, Nuzzo and her colleagues published a WHO/World Bank-commissioned report about a “high-impact respiratory pathogen” that “would likely have significant public health, economic, social, and political consequences.” What we’re experiencing now, she says, exceeds “some of the grimmest expectations” highlighted in that report.

Still, Nuzzo sees a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel. In our interview, she explained why vaccines aren’t the answer, how the novel coronavirus is unique, and what we can do to keep ourselves healthy. A supporter of social distancing, Nuzzo spoke to me from the protection of her home in Maryland, where she, like many of us, is balancing remote work with homeschooling two young kids. 

Jennifer Nuzzo: “We’re Definitely Not Overreacting” to COVID-19 by Yvonne Bang, JSTOR Daily, Apr 6, 2020

Click here to access the entire article. 

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

Posted on 5 April 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

North Atlantic's capacity to absorb CO2 overestimated, study suggests

Research into ocean’s plankton likely to lead to negative revision of global climate calculations

Gibraltar Strait

Phytoplankton blooms are visible from space in this 2017 satellite image taken of the Gibraltar strait. Photograph: Suomi/VIIRS and Modis/Nasa

The North Atlantic may be a weaker climate ally than previously believed, according to a study that suggests the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide has been overestimated.

A first-ever winter and spring sampling of plankton in the western North Atlantic showed cell sizes were considerably smaller than scientists assumed, which means the carbon they absorb does not sink as deep or as fast, nor does it stay in the depths for as long.

This discovery is likely to force a negative revision of global climate calculations, say the authors of the Nasa-backed study, though it is unclear by how much.

“We have found a misconception. It will definitely impact the model of carbon flows,” said Oregon State University microbiologist Steve Giovannoni. “It will require more than just a small tweak.” 

Oceans' capacity to absorb CO2 overestimated, study suggests by Jonathan Watts, Environment, Guardian, Apr 3, 2020

Click here to access the entire article.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #14

Posted on 4 April 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Mar 29 through Sat, Apr 4, 2020

Editor's Choice

Bill McKibben on Solidarity in the Time of Social Distancing

Bill McKibben 

HEATED is a new 6-episode, limited-run podcast series that shows how COVID-19 and the climate crisis cannot be separated. In a series of up-to-the-minute interviews, HEATED newsletter's Emily Atkin connects the dots on how two of the most pressing issues of our time are really one and the same. First up: Bill McKibben, a leader in the climate movement for more than 20 years as a journalist, author, and co-founder of 350.org. 

Bill McKibben on Solidarity in the Time of Social Distancing by Emily Atkin, HEATED/Drilled News, Apr 1, 2020

Click here to access a transcript of the podcast

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #13

Posted on 29 March 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

‘Misinformation kills’: The link between coronavirus conspiracies and climate denial

 Misinformation Kills

Grist / Rob Kim / Stringer / CSA Images 

Scientific warnings are being ignored, misinformation is spreading, and prominent Republicans have said that addressing the problem is either too expensive or too difficult. No, this isn’t climate change: This is the new reality of the novel coronavirus, the deadly pandemic sweeping the planet.

Over the past several weeks, as global cases of COVID-19 have climbed to over 500,000, conspiracy theories and fake news have also been on the rise. On Monday a man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, an ingredient in an anti-malarial drug that President Trump had heralded as a coronavirus cure.

Meanwhile, the website Snopes has been forced to scale back its fact-checking work in response to the overwhelming number of fake stories around the pandemic. (Some disturbing highlights: claims that the coronavirus was released by world governments to distract from a planet-ending doomsday asteroid, or that breathing hot air from a hair dryer can kill the virus.)

‘Misinformation kills’: The link between coronavirus conspiracies and climate denial by Shannon Osaka, Grist, Mar 28, 2020 

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #13

Posted on 28 March 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 22, 2020 through Sat, Mar 28, 2020

Editor's Choice

The Nature of Crisis

Save Lives Stay Home

Photograph by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Getty 

Subscribers to The Climate Crisis newsletter received this piece in their in-boxes. Sign up to receive future installments.

An idea beloved of the technorati is that we are actually living not on the earth we seem to inhabit but in a simulation. Elon Musk has said that it’s “most likely” the case, and Neil deGrasse Tyson has set the odds at fifty-fifty. If so, we’ve clearly reached the point where whoever is supervising the action has handed the game over to a bored supervillain who is wildly pressing buttons: Pandemics! Locusts! Firestorms!

The name of this newsletter is The Climate Crisis, but for the moment the emphasis is going to be on the last of those words. We need to understand how crises work, and, since I’ve been thinking about them for many years, I have a few thoughts to offer. This week’s reflection has to do with time, which is a variable we seriously underappreciate. We’re used to political debates that go on forever—when I was a high-school debater, in 1978, our topic for the year was “That the federal government should establish a comprehensive program to regulate the health care system in the United States.” We imagine that, if we don’t solve a political problem now, we’ll get around to it eventually. Meanwhile, we’ll chip away at it—delaying a solution extends suffering along the way, but it doesn’t necessarily make a problem ultimately harder to solve. Certain kinds of problems don’t work that way, however. Physical problems—climate change and the coronavirus being the pertinent examples—are all about time. And what’s striking to me is how similar these two examples are.

The Nature of Crisis by Bill McKibben Annals of a Warming Planet, New Yorker Magazine, Mar 26, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12

Posted on 22 March 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters

The likelihood of extreme events today is being underestimated, new research suggests

Flooding in New Delhi India

A motorcyclist tries to cross a waterlogged stretch amid slow moving traffic near AIIMS, on March 14, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Credit: Biplov Bhuyan Getty Images 

Small levels of global warming can increase the likelihood of extreme events, new research warns. That’s prompting scientists to question how accurately disasters in the recent past can be used to predict extreme events today.

study published Wednesday in Science Advances suggests that some research attributing climate change to individual disasters has underestimated the probability of certain extremes in the last decade. That’s especially true of unprecedented hot and wet events.

That’s because researchers were basing their analyses on a historical study period extending only up to the year 2005, said author Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University. As it turns out, the warming that’s occurred since then has had a big impact on global extreme events. 

In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters by Chelsea Harvey, E&E News/Scientific American, Mar 20, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12

Posted on 21 March 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020

Editor's Pick

Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts

 Gardening in Brooklyn per Vogue Magazine

Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed for Vogue’s September 2019 issue at the Eagle Street Rooftop Garden in Brooklyn.Photographed by Tierney Gearon, Vogue, September 2019 

The absentminded Instagram scroll looks a lot different these days. Vacation pics and shameless selfies have been replaced with glimpses of how we’re living through the coronavirus outbreak and its necessary quarantines: Health care officials are sharing their tips and expertise; fitness instructors are posting living-room workouts; chefs are sharing easy home-cooked meals; and others are posting about how we can all help those who are most at risk.

It’s a reminder of how social media keeps us connected and informed no matter where we are in the world, a fact we take for granted with every double tap. But it’s mostly a testament to the power of coming together around a crisis and taking collective action for the greater global good. In theory, practicing social distancingwashing our hands more thoroughly, and working from home can slow down this disease and eventually, hopefully, eliminate it. We’re all doing our small, if sometimes inconvenient, part, and already we’re beginning to see how our individual actions contribute to something much, much bigger than us.

For those involved in climate-change efforts, you might see a few through lines between our response to the coronavirus and our response (or lack thereof) to the effects of climate change. Climate scientists and activists have preached for decades that our individual choices and behaviors matter, whether you’re composting, ditching single-use plastic, buying secondhand clothes, or doing the precise opposite of all of those things—wasting food, relying on plastic water bottles and containers, shopping extravagantly.

Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts by Emily Farra, Vogue Magazine, Mar 17, 2020

Click here to access the entire article.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #11

Posted on 15 March 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

 Climate change: Will planting millions of trees really save the planet? 

 Tree Canopy

From Greta Thunberg to Donald Trump and airlines to oil companies, everyone is suddenly going crazy for trees.

The UK government has pledged to plant millions a year while other countries have schemes running into billions.

But are these grand ambitions achievable? How much carbon dioxide do trees really pull in from the atmosphere? And what happens to a forest, planted amid a fanfare, over the following decades? 

Climate change: Will planting millions of trees really save the planet? by David Shukman, BBC News, Mar 14, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #11

Posted on 14 March 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 8, 2020 through Sat, Mar 14, 2020

Editor's Pick

'Coronavirus Isn't Stopping Us!': Youth Activists Adapt to Global Pandemic With Digital #ClimateStrikeOnline

"In the face of a crisis we act according to science and fact."

 Screen shot of Climate Strike Online

"In a crisis," said climate activist Greta Thunberg, "we change our behaviour and adapt to the new circumstances for the greater good of society." (Image: Fridays4future via Twitter)

Fridays for Future strikers around the world shared their demands for bold climate action online Friday as many youth activists heeded public health experts' recommendations in the face of the coronavirus pandemic by eschewing public protests in favor of digital demonstrations.

The online displays followed the call earlier this week from school strike for climate pioneer Greta Thunberg to #ClimateStrikeOnline.

In a Friday tweet as Thunberg marked her 82nd week of school strikes, she reiterated the basis for her call.

"In a crisis we change our behaviour and adapt to the new circumstances for the greater good of society," she wrote.

'Coronavirus Isn't Stopping Us!': Youth Activists Adapt to Global Pandemic With Digital #ClimateStrikeOnline by Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams, Mar 13, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #10

Posted on 8 March 2020 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

Want to Go for Inclusive Climate Action? Then Start with Integrating Gender Equality into Climate Finance

This article is part of special IPS coverage of International Women’s Day on March 8 2020

Women Rally for Action

Credit: We Can International

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 6 2020 (IPS) - Gender equality and women’s rights have progressed immensely since the adoption of the most visionary agenda on women’s empowerment, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 25 years ago.

However, gender equality experts across the world are signaling that we need to identify additional paths for a sustainable world, including in our response to climate change.

This year, we have the opportunity to make a real difference in our climate response and to recognize its critical links to gender equality.

In addition to the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration this year, 2020 is also the year when countries are requested to deliver stronger climate action plans to adapt and cut their emissions further and faster under the global Paris Climate Accord.

As UNDP plays a central role in strengthening countries’ capacity to plan and implement their climate targets, the organization has worked with countries on gender-responsive climate action and climate finance.

UNDP’s Strengthening Governance of Climate Change Finance Programme (GCCF), supported by the Government of Sweden, has worked with countries to include gender in climate change policies and budgets in Asia and the Pacific since 2012. 

Want to Go for Inclusive Climate Action? Then Start with Integrating Gender Equality into Climate Finance by Verania Chao & Koh Miyaoi, International Press Service (IPS), March 6, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #10

Posted on 7 March 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 1, 2020 through Sat, Mar7, 2020

Editor's Pick

Women Fighting Climate Change Are Targets For Misogynists

Rude jokes, hate mail and violent threats—for climate experts, it’s all part of the job. That’s especially true for the women.

Climate-Misogyny-Article

(Illustration: Alex Nabaum c/o THEISPOT)

Just months after the Alberta NDP’s surprise 2015 election win, Shannon Phillips, the province’s new environment minister, travelled to Paris for what would turn out to be a historic round of global climate change negotiations. Alberta had long been a climate laggard, but Phillips was an ambitious and relatively young force in the province’s politics—39 years old at the time—and she was part of a wave of fresh faces in leadership. Phillips landed in Paris alongside Alberta’s new premier, Rachel Notley, and Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who were both committed to taking big steps after a decade of foot-dragging under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

It was an exciting time to be a cabinet minister working on climate change—the meeting produced what’s known as the Paris Agreement, the first major international pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions since the Kyoto Protocol nearly 20 years earlier. And right away, Phillips noticed a remarkable detail about the negotiations: the number of women present. At every meeting, the tables were crowded with female ministers, female negotiators, female scientists and activists.

“A massive amount of the heavy lifting around the world on this matter is being done by women,” says Phillips, who still represents her Lethbridge-West riding in the Alberta legislature. “You see more women on panels. You see more women in the negotiating spaces. You see more women in leadership positions on climate.” 

Women Fighting Climate Change Are Targets For Misogynists by Chris Turner, Chatelaine, Mar 5, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #9

Posted on 1 March 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Australia on the frontline: ask an expert about climate change and its effects

Your chance to put questions to climate scientists and academics as well as experts on controlling bushfires

Bushfire in Australia

As Australia feels the brunt of the climate crisis, the ominous orange glow of a bushfire, such as this one near Nowra last December, has become an all-too common sight. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

From unprecedented bushfires in forests that used to be too wet to burn to warming seas that have killed giant underwater forests, Australia is experiencing the effects of the global climate crisis more rapidly than much of the world.

Over the past three weeks, Guardian Australia has told these stories in a major six-part series that was paid for by readers.

The Frontline: inside Australia’s climate emergency has also looked at what happens when towns run out of water, at the health effects of cities and towns being engulfed in smoke for weeks on end, and at extreme heatwaves that are killing people prematurely. On Monday, we publish the final episode in the series, The Lost Harvest.

On Tuesday 3 March, readers will have the chance to ask experts in these fields questions about the series, what the science tells us and the impacts already being felt, in a Frontline live blog running from 10am-3pm.

Click here for more details about the live blog. 

Australia on the frontline: ask an expert about climate change and its effects by Marni Cordell & Adam Morton, Environment, Guardian, Feb 29, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #9

Posted on 29 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Feb 23, 2020 through Sat, Feb 29, 2020

Editor's Pick

Want people to care about climate change? Skip the jargon.

Climate Jargon

 Grist

If you’re confused what the “circular economy” is, or what it means for a company to go “net-zero,” you’re far from alone. There’s a big mismatch between what scientists, journalists, and activists are saying and what the public understands. This is hardly a new problem, but it’s yet another obstacle to getting people to care about climate change: Obscure words in articles about rising sea levels and supercharged weather could discourage people from wanting to learn more about a planetary crisis.

The solution is to put jargon and buzzwords into simple language that anyone can understand. It takes some effort, of course. A good example is “Up Goer Five,” a diagram by Randall Monroe, the cartoonist behind the website xkcd. It explains how a rocket works using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language. Simplifying lingo related to climate change requires a similar process. Take a cold, clinical word like “biodiversity” and turn it into the more evocative “wildlife.” A real head-scratcher like “climate mitigation” becomes “reducing emissions.”

Forget “dumbing down.” Using more common language is “smartening up,” said Susan Joy Hassol, director of the nonprofit science outreach group Climate Communication in North Carolina, who coaches scientists and journalists to write and speak more conversationally. “The only thing that’s dumb,” Hassol said, “is speaking to people in language that they don’t understand.”

Want people to care about climate change? Skip the jargon. by Kate Yoder, Climate, Grist, Feb 26, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #8

Posted on 23 February 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Opinion of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Climate change leads to more violence against women, girls

Rape, domestic violence, forced marriages: A new study shows the effects of climate change are leading to an increase in violence against girls and women in many corners of the world.

Woman waiting for food distribution in Kenya

Woman waiting for food distribution in Kenya

Ntoya Sande was 13 years old when she got married — against her will. "I was sent to be married because of a shortage of food in the house," she said. Her parents used to have a small piece of land, but floods wiped out their harvest. "I tried to negotiate, to tell my parents that I wasn't ready, that I didn't want to get married, but they told me that I had to because that would mean one mouth less at the table."

Sande lives in Malawi's Nsanje province. Her story is one of thousands of cases highlighted in a recent study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Two years in the making, the report is the largest and most comprehensive study to date on the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on gender-based violence.

"This study shows us that the damage humanity is inflicting on nature can also fuel violence against women around the world — a link that has so far been largely overlooked," said Grethel Aguilar, IUCN's acting director general. "This study adds to the urgency of halting environmental degradation alongside action to stop gender-based violence in all its forms, and demonstrates that the two issues often need to be addressed together." 

Climate change leads to more violence against women, girls by Jeanette Cwienk, Environment, Deutsche Welle (DW), Feb 20. 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #8

Posted on 22 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Feb 16, 2020 through Sat, Feb 22, 2020

Editor's Pick

JP Morgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race

Leaked report for world’s major fossil fuel financier says Earth is on unsustainable trajectory

C02 emissions from coal-fired power plants

The JP Morgan paper said ‘catastrophic outcomes’ could not be ruled out. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

The world’s largest financier of fossil fuels has warned clients that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity and that the planet is on an unsustainable trajectory, according to a leaked document.

The JP Morgan report on the economic risks of human-caused global heating said climate policy had to change or else the world faced irreversible consequences.

The study implicitly condemns the US bank’s own investment strategy and highlights growing concerns among major Wall Street institutions about the financial and reputational risks of continued funding of carbon-intensive industries, such as oil and gas. 

JP Morgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race by Patrick Greenfield and Jonathan Watts, Environment, Guardian, Feb 21, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #7

Posted on 16 February 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 

Story of the Week...

Iceberg twice the size of Washington, D.C., breaks off Pine Island glacier in Antarctica

Pine Island Glacier

 

Story Highlights:

  • The Pine Island glacier "is one the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica."
  • Over the past 8 years, the Pine Island glacier is losing about 58 billion tons of ice per year.
  • This "reveals the dramatic pace at which climate is redefining the face of Antarctica."

Global Warming: Pine Island loses 58 billion tons of ice every year by Doyle Rice, World, USA Today, Feb 13, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #7

Posted on 15 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Feb 9, 2020 through Sat, Feb 15, 2020

Editor's Pick

ANALYSIS-Climate change opens up 'frontier' farmland, but at what cost to the planet?

Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third but would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased emissions from soils

Organic Carrot Harvest in Germany 

Kenya's livestock herders planting chilli peppers, Pakistan's mountain farmers rearing fish and tropical fruits in Sicily - farmers around the world are already shifting what they grow and breed to cope with rising temperatures and erratic weather.

In a few more decades, potatoes from the Russian tundra and corn from once-frigid areas of Canada could be added to the list as vast swathes of land previously unsuited to agriculture open up to farmers on a hotter planet.

Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third, a study by international researchers found this week.

They examined which new areas may become suitable for growing 12 key crops including rice, sugar, wheat, oil palm, cassava and soy.

"In a warming world, Canada's North may become our breadbasket of the future," the scientists wrote.

But, they warned, opening up new "agricultural frontiers" would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased planet-warming emissions from soils. 

Climate change opens up 'frontier' farmland, but at what cost to the planet?, Analysis by Thin Lei Win, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Feb 15, 2020

Click here to access the entire article.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #6

Posted on 9 February 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Australian smoke plume sets records

The recent wildfires in Australia sent one of the largest plumes of smoke higher into the  stratosphere than satellites have ever before observed.

Australian Bushfire Plumes Worldwide

January 26, 2020. Image via NASA Earth Observatory.

Bushfires have raged in Victoria and New South Wales since November 2019, yielding startling satellite images of smoke plumes streaming from southeastern Australia on a near daily basis. The images got even more eye-popping in January 2020 when unusually hot weather and strong winds supercharged the fires.

Narrow streams of smoke widened into a thick gray and tan pall that filled the skies on January 4, 2020. Several pyrocumulus clouds rose from the smoke, and the towering clouds functioned like elevators, lifting huge quantities of gas and particles well over 6 miles (10 km) above the surface – high enough to put smoke into the stratosphere

Australian smoke plume sets records by NASA Earth Observatory/EarthSky, Feb 6, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #6

Posted on 8 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Feb 2, 2020 through Sat, Feb 8, 2020

Editor's Pick

New Report Details How Fossil Fuel Industry's Climate Destruction Also Exacerbates Human Rights Abuses

"Even in the face of the clearest scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels is literally setting the planet on fire, this sector continues to invest in the same old model and often misinforms society about the climate crisis and its causes."

Oil Polluion in Nigeria

Claimant Eric Dooh shows the crude oil that has damaged the banks of the creek through his village of Goi (Ogoniland). Multiple leaks in a Shell pipeline have heavily contaminated the creek over many miles, eliminating fish, and other life from the tidal area. (Photo: Milieudefensie)

In addition to having a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities around the globe which have contributed the least to climate-warming fossil fuel emissions, the climate crisis has exacerbated the human rights violations already perpetrated by the fossil fuel industry, according to a new report.

The grassroots climate action group 350.org examined ten global communities which have suffered from heavy pollution, deforestation, displacement, and other violations as multinational corporations like Chevron and Shell—in addition to smaller fossil fuel entities and corrupt governments—have placed profits over human rights.

"The pollution and contamination often caused by fossil fuel industry activities mainly affect the poorest populations, as well as the climate crisis," said Aaron Packard, manager of the Climate Defenders program at 350.org, in a statement. "Vulnerable communities are being doubly exposed to losses or scarcity of land, fish stocks and water, for example."

New Report Details How Fossil Fuel Industry's Climate Destruction Also Exacerbates Human Rights Abuses by Julia Conley, Common Dreams, Feb 7, 2020 

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #5

Posted on 2 February 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Opinion of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Scientists alarmed to discover warm water at "vital point" beneath Antarctica's "doomsday glacier" Antarctic Ice Thickness Map

Scientists have found warm water beneath Antarctica's "doomsday glacier," a nickname used because it is one of Antarctica's fastest melting glaciers. While researchers have observed the recession of the Thwaites Glacier for a decade, this marks the first time they detected the presence of warm water – found at a "vital point" beneath the glacier.

A news release on the findings called it an alarming discovery.

"The fact that such warm water was just now recorded by our team along a section of Thwaites grounding zone where we have known the glacier is melting suggests that it may be undergoing an unstoppable retreat that has huge implications for global sea-level rise," David Holland, director of New York University's Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi's Center for Global Sea Level Change, which conducted the research, said in the news release.

Scientists alarmed to discover warm water at "vital point" beneath Antarctica's "doomsday glacier" by Sophie Lewis, CBS News, Feb 1, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #5

Posted on 1 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 26, 2020 through Sat, Feb 1, 2020

Editor's Pick

Social tipping points are the only hope for the climate

A new paper explores how to trigger them.

Egg on Edge 

 

Egg on the edge. Fine balance, tipping point etc. Risk, danger concept or metaphor. by Sarah2, Shutterstock

At this point, the targets enshrined in the Paris climate agreement — holding the rise in global average temperature to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius, with efforts to limit to 1.5°C — are beyond the reach of incrementalism. If the world’s large economies had begun a slow, steady reduction in greenhouse gas emissions back in the 1990s, it might have sufficed. But action has been delayed so long now that only rapid, radical change can still do the job.

As I wrote in a somewhat gloomy post earlier this month, the world is not exactly filled with happy signs and portents these days. The chances of sudden, coordinated change in a positive direction seem ... slim.

If there is any hope at all, it lies in the fact that social change is often nonlinear. Just as climate scientists warn of tipping points in biophysical systems, social scientists describe tipping points in social systems. Pressure can build beneath the surface over time, creating hairline fractures, until a precipitating incident triggers cascading changes that lead, often irreversibly, to a new steady state. (Think of the straw that broke the camel’s back.) It is less a matter of simple cause and effect than of emergent network effects that are unpredictable and somewhat mysterious even in retrospect.

Social tipping points are the only hope for the climate by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Jan 29, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the Vox website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #4

Posted on 26 January 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Perspective of the Week... Toon of the Week... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Plastics Plants Are Poised to Be the Next Big Carbon Superpolluters

A boom in petrochemical plants driven by cheap natural gas could lock in greenhouse emissions for decades to come

Petroleum Refinery

Credit: Paul Harris, Getty Images

The Sunshine Project, a gargantuan petrochemical complex planned on 2,500 acres along the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge, La., will be one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in America when it becomes fully operational in 2029.

Earlier this month, Louisiana regulators approved an air quality permit that will allow the facility to pump 13.6 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. That’s equivalent to adding 2.6 million cars to the road annually.

No industrial facility in the United States reported emissions of that magnitude between 2011 and 2018, according to an E&E News review of EPA data. In 2018, only 13 coal plants emitted more.

Sunshine is at the forefront of an often-overlooked boom in America’s petrochemical sector, one that climate advocates worry could undo recent greenhouse gas reductions by locking in a new source of planet-warming pollution for decades to come.  

Plastics Plants Are Poised to Be the Next Big Carbon Superpolluters by Benjamin Storrow, E&E News/Scientific American, Jan 24, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the Scientific American website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #4

Posted on 25 January 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 19, 2020 through Sat, Jan 25, 2020

Editor's Pick

The companies that have contributed most to climate change

Thought-provoking readings on those most responsible for the pollution.

Jackpump in Texas

Sometimes, in our struggle to address climate change, we need to see ourselves as facing not an incredibly complex (or “wicked”) problem (and one to which most of us contribute) but a clear-cut adversary. The world’s biggest fossil fuel companies inevitably make good candidates for that role, partly because they have done so much to delay political action, but also because they are literally the biggest source of the problem.

To learn more, an excellent place to begin is with a recent series from The Guardian. Starting on October 9, 2019, that paper published a significant cluster of stories in conjunction with the Climate Accountability Institute. The lead story is “Revealed: The 20 Firms behind a Third of All Carbon Emissions“; here is the first of three pages of links to the complete series (and a few later pieces).

Still, even identifying a clearly responsible party to blame might not make the climate problem look tractable: Getting off fossil fuels is a truly daunting challenge. Chris Turner’s essay “We’re Doomed. Now What?: An Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis” (The Walrus, November 2019) is more about its subtitle than its title. This thoughtful and thought-provoking look at some realistic but encouraging practicalities of converting the energy system makes a stimulating counterpart to the Guardian series. These stories update the 2017 Carbon Majors Report about the 100 most-carbon-polluting companies.

An important element in getting the world off fossil fuels involves how best to address the attendant, and fully understandable, concerns of all those who have been involved in the carbon economy, through employment or investments – including through retirement funds and pensions. A good starting place to learn about “stranded assets” is again in The Guardian.

The companies that have contributed most to climate change by SueEllen Campbell, Yale Climate Connections, Jan 24, 2020

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #3

Posted on 19 January 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

'It's heart-wrenching': 80% of Blue Mountains and 50% of Gondwana rainforests burn in bushfires

Guardian Australia analysis reveals the frightening amount of world heritage area burned in Australia’s ongoing fire crisis

Australian Bushfire

The unprecedented bushfires could affect the diversity of eucalypts for which the Blue Mountains is recognised. Photograph: CPOA Brett Kennedy/Commonwealth of Australia/PA

At least 80% of the Blue Mountains world heritage area and more than 50% of the Gondwana world heritage rainforests have burned in Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis.

The scale of the disaster is such that it could affect the diversity of eucalypts for which the Blue Mountains world heritage area is recognised, said John Merson, the executive director of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute.

The data is based on a Guardian Australia analysis of areas burned in New South Wales and Queensland and was confirmed by the NSW government.

'It's heart-wrenching': 80% of Blue Mountains and 50% of Gondwana rainforests burn in bushfires by Lisa Cox & Nick Evershed, Environment, Guardian, Jan 16, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on The Guardian website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #3

Posted on 18 January 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 12, 2020 through Sat, Jan 18, 2020

Editor's Pick

The Past and the Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees

Bristlecone pines have survived various catastrophes over the millennia, and they may survive humanity.

Bristlecone Pines - Shutterstock

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest - a protected area high in the White Mountains in Inyo County in eastern California. Photo: Felix Lipov - Shutterstock

About forty-five hundred years ago, not long after the completion of the Great Pyramid at Giza, a seed of Pinus longaeva, the Great Basin bristlecone pine, landed on a steep slope in what are now known as the White Mountains, in eastern California. The seed may have travelled there on a gust of wind, its flight aided by a winglike attachment to the nut. Or it could have been planted by a bird known as the Clark’s nutcracker, which likes to hide pine seeds in caches; nutcrackers have phenomenal spatial memory and can recall thousands of such caches. This seed, however, lay undisturbed. On a moist day in fall, or in the wake of melting snows in spring, a seedling appeared above ground—a stubby one-inch stem with a tuft of bright-green shoots. 

...

What is most astonishing about Pinus longaeva is not the age of any single organism but the collective oldness and otherness of its entire community. No two super-elderly trees look alike, to the point where they have acquired the characteristics of individuals. Trees are prone to anthropomorphism; we project our dreams and our anxieties onto them. Bristlecones have been called elders, sentinels, sages. The possibility that climate change will cause their extinction has inspired a spate of alarmed news stories, although tree scientists tend to discount the idea that the bristlecones are in immediate danger. They have survived any number of catastrophes in the past; they may survive humanity.

The Past and the Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees by Alex Ross, Annals of Nature, The New Yorker Magazine, Jan 13, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on The New Yorker Magazine website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #2

Posted on 12 January 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Study Confirms Climate Models are Getting Future Warming Projections Right

An animation of a GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) climate model simulation made for the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, showing five-year averaged surface air temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius from 1880 to 2100. The temperature anomaly is a measure of how much warmer or colder it is at a particular place and time than the long-term mean temperature, defined as the average temperature over the 30-year base period from 1951 to 1980. Blue areas represent cool areas and yellow and red areas represent warmer areas. The number in the upper right corner represents the global mean anomaly. Credit:NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies

There’s an old saying that “the proof is in the pudding,” meaning that you can only truly gauge the quality of something once it’s been put to a test. Such is the case with climate models: mathematical computer simulations of the various factors that interact to affect Earth’s climate, such as our atmosphere, ocean, ice, land surface and the Sun.

For decades, people have legitimately wondered how well climate models perform in predicting future climate conditions. Based on solid physics and the best understanding of the Earth system available, they skillfully reproduce observed data. Nevertheless, they have a wide response to increasing carbon dioxide levels, and many uncertainties remain in the details. The hallmark of good science, however, is the ability to make testable predictions, and climate models have been making predictions since the 1970s. How reliable have they been?

Now a new evaluation of global climate models used to project Earth’s future global average surface temperatures over the past half-century answers that question: most of the models have been quite accurate.

Study Confirms Climate Models are Getting Future Warming Projections Right by Alan Buis, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA's Global Climate Change, Jan 9, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as posed on NASA's Global Climate Change website. 

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2

Posted on 11 January 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 5, 2020 through Sat, Jan 11, 2020

Editor's Pick

Debunked Australian Bushfire Conspiracy Theories Were Pushed by Alex Jones, Murdoch Media

Bushfire in Australia 

As unusually intense and widespread bushfires have ravaged a drought-ridden Australia, bots and trolls have begun pushing climate science denial across the internet in the form of conspiracy theories about the fires. Thanks to climate change, exceptionally hot, dry drought conditions have worsened and lengthened Australia's typical fire season.

Two of the main conspiracies about the fires are based on the false ideas that they are caused by a spate of arson and they have been worsened by the Green Party's supposed efforts to stop controlled burns as a fire management and reduction measure.

Dr. Timothy Graham from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) did an analysis  of the online activity and concluded there was a high level of bots involved in spreading these conspiracies. As ZDnet reported, Graham is “at least confident” that that this was some type of disinformation campaign.

Debunked Australian Bushfire Conspiracy Theories Were Pushed by Alex Jones, Murdoch Media by Justin Mikulka, DeSmog, Jan 8, 2020

Click here to access the complete article as posted on the DeSmog website. 

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #1

Posted on 5 January 2020 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

The signal of human-caused climate change has emerged in everyday weather, study finds 

Satellite Image of Weather on 01/02/20

Satellite image showing weather on Jan. 2, 2019. (NOAA)

For the first time, scientists have detected the “fingerprint” of human-induced climate change on daily weather patterns at the global scale. If verified by subsequent work, the findings, published Thursday in Nature Climate Change, would upend the long-established narrative that daily weather is distinct from long-term climate change.

The study’s results also imply that research aimed at assessing the human role in contributing to extreme weather events such as heat waves and floods may be underestimating the contribution.

The new study, which was in part motivated by President Trump’s tweets about how a cold day in one particular location disproves global warming, uses statistical techniques and climate model simulations to evaluate how daily temperatures and humidity vary around the world. Scientists compared the spatial patterns of these variables with what physical science shows is expected because of climate change.

The study concludes that the spatial patterns of global temperature and humidity are, in fact, distinguishable from natural variability, and have a human component to them. Going further, the study concludes that the long-term climate trend in global average temperature can be predicted if you know a single day’s weather information worldwide. 

The signal of human-caused climate change has emerged in everyday weather, study finds by Paul Freedman, Capital Weather Gang, Washington Post, Jan 2, 2020

Click here to access the complete article as published on the Washington Post website.

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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #1

Posted on 4 January 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Dec 29, 2019 through Sat, Jan 4, 2020

Editor's Pick

There Is No Safe Global Warming

Australia Bushfire - Shutterstock

Australia Bushfire - Shutterstock

Safety is something we all crave. It’s human nature.

And so perhaps it’s not surprising that we’ve spent the past decade or so outlining what a “safe” level of global warming is. Language reflecting the conception of “safe” global heating abounds in scientific literature, climate negotiations, and the press. The Paris Agreement enshrined the idea that 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as pretty safe. Advocacy from small island nations and others has made a compelling case that 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) would be safer still, allowing, at least, for their continued existence. At various times, each of these levels of heating have been called a “guardrail,” “defence line,” and “buffer zone.” On one side, dangerous climate change. On the other, something we can figure out and adapt to if we play our cards right.

Recently, the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold appears to have won out as our best bet for safety. And over the next decade, the world will decide its fate of whether it can limit heating to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial temperatures. But we don’t have to wait to find out if that level of heating is safe because the answer is right in front of us. Spoiler: It’s not.

There Is No Safe Global Warming by Brian Kahn, Earther, Gizmodo, Jan 4, 2020

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #52

Posted on 29 December 2019 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

2019 in review: Polarised world entering era of climate impacts

We look back on CHN’s reporting from a year that saw a great collision of political and physical forces

Relief aid after cyclone Idai hit Mozambique in March 2019

Women help unload humanitarian aid from a helicopter after cyclone Idai hit Mozambique in March 2019. (Photo: USAFRICOM/Flickr

As 2019 draws to a close, the rift between the climate vanguard and the laggards has never been so wide. 

Public pressure for faster and deeper emissions cuts has peaked this year and a growing alliance of countries, regions, cities and businesses are pushing for more ambitious climate action.  

Across the world, the reality of climate impacts has grown ever starker. But support to help the most vulnerable cope is lacking. Meanwhile, scientists continue to warn of a narrowing window of time to act. 

Entrenched nationalism continues to threaten the multilateral order which underpins the Paris Agreement and a global commitment to limit warming “well below 2C”. 

Donald Trump has officially started to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement and Jair Bolsonaro is working to open up the Amazon to large agribusiness interests. Other emerging economies such as China and India are seemingly hiding behind the US retreat to delay bolder action. 

Throughout 2019, Climate Home News has continued to report on the science, the people and the big diplomatic players shaping the commitments and disagreements taking the world into the future. Here were the biggest moments. 

2019 in review: Polarised world entering era of climate impacts by Chloé Farand, Climate Home News, Dec 20, 2019

Click here to read the complete article as posted on the Climate Hone News website.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #52

Posted on 28 December 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Dec 22 through Sat, Dec 28, 2019

Editor's Pick

Record hit for most ice to melt in Antarctica in one day, data suggests: "We are in a Climate Emergency"

Antarctic Topographic Map BedMachine 

Newly released Antarctica topography map, BedMachine, and related findings published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Dec 12, 2019  

The record in recent decades for the highest level of ice to melt in Antarctica in one day was reached on Christmas Eve, data suggests.

Around 15 percent of the continent's surface melted on Monday, according to the Global Forecast System (GFS) by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The data comes from the Modèle Atmosphérique Régional (MAR), a model used for meteorological and climatic research.

Xavier Fettweis, a climatologist at the University of Liège in Belgium, who tweeted the data on Friday, said this is the highest melt extent in Antarctica in the modern era, since 1979. He added the production of melt water is a record 230 percent higher than average since November this year. That's despite the melting season not yet being over. 

Record hit for most ice to melt in Antarctica in one day, data suggests: "We are in a Climate Emergency" by Kashmira Gander, Tech & Science, Newsweek, Dec 27, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #51

Posted on 22 December 2019 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Rich Nations, After Driving Climate Disaster, Block All Progress At U.N. Talks

Cop 25 Madrid

Empty chairs of the delegations are pictured during the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid, on Dec. 13, 2019. Photo: Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images

LAST WEDNESDAY, over 300 demonstrators at COP25 in Madrid — this year’s 14-day U.N. climate talks, the group’s longest ever — watched from the courtyard of a conference center as a metal wall rose up seemingly out of nowhere, locking civil society observers literally out in the cold. Moments earlier, some had had their entry badges snatched off them by U.N. guards in skirmishes outside the main plenary hall before they were cordoned off. Security prevented them from speaking even to the press; all civil society observers had been barred from entering the conference center. With access to the venue now blocked, protesters marched out the back entrance, where they were greeted by Spanish police.

The protest was intended to call out the widespread lack of ambition coming from some of the world’s biggest emitters of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses, calling on countries in the “global north” to provide support for climate mitigation, adaptation, and recovery, plus excise loopholes that would give polluters a way out to keep on with business as usual. Demonstrators’ credentials were restored a few hours later, but the talks had done little to address their concerns. By Saturday afternoon — two days after talks were set to end — there was little agreement as to what would come out of them. “There is no one issue that is completely resolved,” Harjeet Singh, who leads up global climate work for ActionAid, told me. By the end of the closing plenary the next day, most major issues had been punted to future meetings. Even U.N. Secretary General António Guterres expressed his dissatisfaction on Twitter.

“There is no doubt: rich countries have been blocking progress across the board,” Singh said.

Rich Nations, After Driving Climate Disaster, Block All Progress At U.N. Talks by Kate Aronoff, The Intercept, Dec 18, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #51

Posted on 21 December 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Dec 15 through Sat, Dec 21, 2019

Editor's Pick

2019 in Review: The Year the World Began to Wake up to the Climate Emergency

Student

 

“Climate emergency” is the 2019 word of the year, according to the Oxford English dictionary —  and rightfully so.

Over the last year, rising emissions and record-breaking events — from hurricanes in the Atlantic to wildfires in Australia — have been met with rising outrage from millions of young people and activists.

But how did leaders respond to the growing weight of evidence and demands for change? And are we on track to keep the world from reaching dangerous climate tipping points?

I spoke with the UN Foundation’s Vice President for Climate, Energy and Environment, Pete Ogden to unpack the game-changing moments for global climate action in 2019, as well as what we can expect in 2020.

2019 in Review: The Year the World Began to Wake up to the Climate Emergency by Pete Ogden & Chandler Green, United Nations Foundation, Dec 19, 2019

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the United Nations Foundation website.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #50

Posted on 15 December 2019 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

UN climate talks end with limited progress on emissions targets

Partial agreement at COP25 that countries must be more ambitious to fulfil Paris goals

Activists dump manure outside the COP25 climate talks congress in Madrid on Saturday

Activists dump manure outside the COP25 climate talks congress in Madrid on Saturday. Photograph: Óscar del Pozo/AFP via Getty Images

Climate talks in Madrid have ended with a partial agreement to ask countries to come up with more ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the terms of the 2015 Paris accord.

Few countries came to this year’s talks with updated plans to reach the Paris goals, though the EU finally agreed its long-term target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Experts say more ambitious emissions cuts are needed globally if the Paris pledge to hold global heating to no more than 2C is to be met.

This year’s round of annual UN talks focused on narrow technical issues such as the workings of the global carbon markets, a means by which countries can trade their successes in cutting emissions with other countries that have not cut their own emissions fast enough.

By midday on Sunday, more than 40 hours after the talks deadline, agreement on that was still far off and the issue will have to be resolved next year. 

UN climate talks end with limited progress on emissions targets by Fiona Harvey, Environment, Guardian, Dec 15, 2019

Click here to read the entire article as posted on the Guardian website.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #50

Posted on 14 December 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Dec 8 through Sat, Dec 14, 2019

Editor's Pick

Push for carbon loopholes sends climate talks into overtime

Australia, US and Brazil threatening ‘spirit’ of the Paris Agreement, says Costa Rican minister, as fractious talks could drag into the weekend

Cop25 in Madrid

The plenary room at Cop25 in Madrid. Diplomats are locked in tense negotiations to try and find a deal (Photo: UNFCCC)

Negotiations at the UN climate talks are going into extra time as diplomats are at loggerheads over commitments to boost ambition and rules to set-up a new global carbon market.

As the second week of negotiations drew to a close, negotiators were set to work through the night on Friday to find landing zones and finalise the last unresolved rules of the Paris Agreement.

“We are reaching the final hours of the Cop and now is time to show the world we are capable of reaching an agreement,” Cop25 president Carolina Schmidt told negotiators.

“The eyes of the world are on us. Our kids, the women of the world, indigenous people, our communities, the youth will not understand that we are not able to get to an agreement that is committed ambition to the world. It is our responsibility to find that agreement,” she said.

But entrenched positions have run into political deadlock, with little progress on the most contentious issues, including creating a new carbon market, known as Article 6.

Push for carbon loopholes sends climate talks into overtime by Chloé Farand, Climate Home News, Dec 13, 2019

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the Climate Home News website.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #49

Posted on 7 December 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Dec 1 through Sat, Dec 7, 2019

Editor's Pick

Should Climate Scientists Be Climate Activists? One Tells Us ‘We Can’t Wait Any Longer’ For Action

Climate Scientists Twila Moon, at left, and Maria Caffrey

Twila Moon, at left, and Maria Caffrey at the CPR News studios Friday Nov. 15 2019. The two are climate scientists who discussed the line between activism and science.

For decades, scientists have warned of the dangers of human-caused climate change through what they do best — science. But are papers and global summits enough for those concerned that climate change is an existential threat?

More than 1,500 scientists recently signed a declaration in support of Extinction Rebellion, the climate activist group that uses nonviolent civil disobedience to encourage government action on reducing carbon emissions. Notable XR protests have included gluing themselves to the gates of London’s Buckingham Palace and interrupting a summit at the Colorado Governor’s Mansion.

The scientists’ declaration reads, “The scientific community has already tried all conventional methods to draw attention to the crisis. We believe that continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and nonviolent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law.”

There’s community disagreement over researchers supporting or participating in displays of activism. Colorado Matters spoke with Twila Moon, a climate scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, and Maria Caffrey, who was a partner with the National Park Service, about those differences.

Caffrey was recently catapulted onto the national stage after she filed a whistleblower complaint against the Trump administration. She alleges she lost her job with the park service because she refused to eliminate mentions of human-caused climate change from her research

Moon chose not to sign the letter while Caffery did sign on in support of the actions of Extinction Rebellion.

Should Climate Scientists Be Climate Activists? One Tells Us ‘We Can’t Wait Any Longer’ For Action by Michael Elizabeth Sakas, Colorado Public Radio (CPR) News, Dec 5, 2019

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the CPR website.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #48

Posted on 30 November 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Nov 24 through Sat, Nov 30, 2019

Editor's Pick

10 ways to accelerate progress against climate change

From pricing carbon to shifting diets, here’s what we need to prioritize now.

Erlangen, Bavaria / Germany - May 24, 2019 

Erlangen, Bavaria / Germany - May 24, 2019: Fridays for future, Global Climate Strike on the European elections - Shutterstock Image

The United Nations reported this week that the world is continuing to drift further off course in limiting climate change, despite growing alarm about the impacts of rising temperatures. With greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase, even more drastic reductions are needed to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

“Any further delay brings the need for larger, more expensive and unlikely cuts,” wrote Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme in the Emissions Gap Report 2019. “We need quick wins, or the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement will slip out of reach.”

And the impacts of climate change are already here. Climate scientists told us late last year in the National Climate Assessment that the United States is already experiencing the severe and costly consequences of a changing climate. In a separate United Nations report released in October, scientists reported that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require a gargantuan global effort to halve emissions — and that we have roughly 12 years to do it. But how?

Let’s make something clear: The emissions we need to focus on now are the ones at the industrial, corporate level.

Climate Tipping Points Are Closer Than We Think, Scientists Warn by Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, Nov 27, 2019

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the Vox website. 

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #47

Posted on 24 November 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Nov 17 through Sat, Nov 23, 2019

Editor's Pick

The climate science is clear: it's now or never to avert catastrophe

Disastrous global heating will soon become irrevocable – but despite politicians’ inaction millions are taking to the streets to fight the planet’s fever

Greta Thunberg

Illustration: Francisco Navas/Guardian Design

The one thing never to forget about global warming is that it’s a timed test.

It’s ignoble and dangerous to delay progress on any important issue, of course – if, in 2020, America continues to ignore the healthcare needs of many of its citizens, those people will sicken, die, go bankrupt. The damage will be very real. But that damage won’t make it harder, come 2021 or 2025 or 2030, to do the right thing about healthcare.

But the climate crisis doesn’t work like that. If we don’t solve it soon, we will never solve it, because we will pass a series of irrevocable tipping points – and we’re clearly now approaching those deadlines. You can tell because there’s half as much ice in the Arctic, and because forests catch fire with heartbreaking regularity and because we see record deluge. But the deadlines are not just impressionistic – they’re rooted in the latest science.

The climate science is clear: it's now or never to avert catastrophe, Opinion by Bill McKibben, Comment is Free, Guardian, Nov 20, 2019

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the Guardian website. 

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #46

Posted on 16 November 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Nov 10 through Sat, Nov 16, 2019

Editor's Pick

The Climate Change Health Risks Facing a Child Born Today: A Tale of Two Futures

The latest Countdown report from the medical journal Lancet lays out the risks ahead, from the womb to adulthood.

Climate Change Risks to a Child Born Today

A child born today faces two possible futures. In one, the world continues to burn fossil fuels, making the child more likely to develop asthma from air pollution, at greater risk of vector-borne diseases, and more vulnerable to anxiety as extreme weather events threaten his community.

In the other, those risks are diminished because the world has responded quickly and adequately to climate change, with a large-scale shift away from fossil fuels.

These two, starkly different paths are the focus of a report published Wednesday by the medical journal The Lancet that shows how the future health of a child born today will be intrinsically linked to climate change, from the womb to adulthood.

"Without accelerated intervention, this new era will come to define the health of people at every stage of their lives," the authors write.

The Climate Change Health Risks Facing a Child Born Today: A Tale of Two Futures by Sabrina Shankman, InsideClimate News, Nov 13, 2019

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the InsideClimate News website.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #41

Posted on 12 October 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Oct 6 through Sat, Oct 12, 2019

Editor's Pick

The world needs a massive carbon tax in just 10 years to limit climate change, IMF says

The international organization suggests a cost of $75 per ton by 2030.

icebergs near Kulusuk, Greenland, on 08/16/2019

An aerial view of large icebergs floating as the sun rises near Kulusuk, Greenland, on Aug. 16. (Felipe Dana/AP)

A global agreement to make fossil fuel burning more expensive is urgent and the most efficient way of fighting climate change, an International Monetary Fund study found on Thursday.

The group found that a global tax of $75 per ton by the year 2030 could limit the planet’s warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), or roughly double what it is now. That would greatly increase the price of fossil-fuel-based energy — especially from the burning of coal — but the economic disruption could be offset by routing the money raised straight back to citizens.

“If you compare the average level of the carbon tax today, which is $2 [a ton], to where we need to be, it’s a quantum leap,” said Paolo Mauro, deputy director of the fiscal affairs department at the IMF. 

The world needs a massive carbon tax in just 10 years to limit climate change, IMF says by Chris Mooney & Andrew Freedman, Climate & Environment, Washington Post, Oct 10, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #40

Posted on 5 October 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Sep 29 through Sat, Oct 5, 2019

Editor's Pick

Greta Thunberg is right: It’s time to haul ass on climate change

Economically and politically, early ambition is better.

Greta Thunberg

New York, NY - August 28, 2019: 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives into New York City after crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat and attend press conference at North Cove Marina - Shutterstock

When Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the elites assembled at the World Economic Forum in Davos, she concluded with a simple message: “I want you to act as if our house is on fire.”

For those elites, it was unfamiliar language. They are accustomed to talking about climate change, but typically such talk amounts to ritual invocations of “urgency” coupled with promises about what might be achieved in 2030 or 2050.

When your house is on fire, though, you don’t promise results in a decade or a year or a week. You grab a bucket and find some water. Immediately.

When it comes to climate policy, Thunberg has it right. We are in a unique historical moment; we understand the danger of climate change and, for now, still have the resources and political space necessary to address it. But every second of delay makes the challenge more expensive, more difficult, and more dangerous.

It’s not just climate activists saying that. The policy community is moving in that direction as well, with similar arguments coming into clearer view from economists and political scientists. The common theme is risk, and what it means to take the mounting risks of the climate crisis seriously. 

Greta Thunberg is right: It’s time to haul ass on climate change by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Oct 4, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #39

Posted on 28 September 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Sep 22 through Sat, Sep 28, 2019

Editor's Pick

Are we finally at a tipping point on climate action?

Strike 4 Climate, Brisbane AU, 09-20-19

Climate change protesters are seen crossing the Victoria Bridge in Brisbane during the Global Strike 4 Climate rally in Brisbane, Australia on Sept. 20, 2019

It’s climate action week, and I’ve been asked this one question many times: Are we at a tipping point? 

Are we finally at a tipping point on climate action? by Akshat Rathi, Quartz, Sep 26, 2019

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the Quartz website.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #38

Posted on 22 September 2019 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

Global Climate in 2015-2019: Climate change accelerates

Record greenhouse gas concentrations mean further warming 

The Global Climate 2015-2019 

The tell-tale signs and impacts of climate change – such as sea level rise, ice loss and extreme weather – increased during 2015-2019, which is set to be the warmest five-year period on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have also increased to record levels, locking in the warming trend for generations to come.

The WMO report on The Global Climate in 2015-2019, released to inform the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, says that the global average temperature has increased by 1.1°C since the pre-industrial period, and by 0.2°C compared to 2011-2015.

The climate statement – which covers until July 2019 - was released as part of a high-level synthesis report from leading scientific institutions United in Science under the umbrella of the Science Advisory Group of the UN Climate Summit 2019. The report provides a unified assessment of the state of Earth system under the increasing influence of climate change, the response of humanity this far and projected changes of global climate in the future. It highlights the urgency and the potential of ambitious climate action in order to limit potentially irreversible impacts.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #38

Posted on 21 September 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Sep 15 through Sat, Sep 21, 2019

Editor's Pick

‘Four million’ join students in climate marches, building pressure on leaders

Organisers said record numbers marched in countries around the world, sending a clear message to politicians meeting in New York

Climate Strikers in New York on 09-20-19

Hundreds of thousands of young people took to the streets in New York demanding governments do more to tackle the climate crisis (Photo: Chloé Farand)

The global strike was billed as the largest climate protest in history days before  world leaders gather in New York for a three-day climate action summit convened by UN secretary general António Guterres starting Saturday.

Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young people, some accompanied by parents, gathered in Foley Square in front of the Thurgood Marshall courthouse in downtown Manhattan in September heat, waving colourful hand-painted placards.

“Cooler is cool”, “Remember when the earth was cool” and “The earth should not be hotter than me” read some of the signs, encapsulating a sense that climate action was now utterly mainstream.

The protest marched through the streets of New York to Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan, to hear from Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. The social movement she inspired in such a short amount of time culminated in a powerful message to governments that to remain relevant to young voters, their actions need to change.

Organisers 350.org said protests around the world had mobilised more than four million people in 163 countries. That number could not be independently verified.

Amazing images flooded social media, those are shared below.

‘Four million’ join students in climate marches, building pressure on leaders by Chloé Farand & Jill Russo, Climate Home News, Sep 20, 2019

Click here to access the entire article as posted on the Climate Home News website.

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #37

Posted on 15 September 2019 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

'Going to the streets again': what you need to know about Friday's climate strike

Organisers expect a stronger presence from unions, workers and companies as student activists reach out to adults

School Strike for Climate

Australian school students are set to walk out of classrooms again to call for climate action as part of a global strike three days before a UN summit. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

Thousands of Australian school students are again preparing to walk out of classrooms across the country to demand action on the climate crisis.

The global mass day of action will take place on Friday 20 September, three days before the United Nations climate summit in New York.

It follows strikes in March this year in which 150,000 people marched in Australia and 1.5 million took part worldwide.

Organisers expect next week’s global strikes will be bigger and, this time there will be a much stronger presence from unions, workers and companies that have signed up to strike in solidarity with the young activists.

Here’s a guide to what’s happening.

'Going to the streets again': what you need to know about Friday's climate strike by Lisa Cox, Environment, Guardian, Sep 14, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #37

Posted on 14 September 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Sep 8 through Sat, Sep 14, 2019

Editor's Pick

Greta Thunberg To U.S.: 'You Have A Moral Responsibility' On Climate Change

Greta Thunberg in Washington DC on Sep 13, 2019 

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, 16, attends a protest outside the White House on Friday. She launched the Friday school strikes last year, and since then, her notoriety has steadily grown. She is known for speaking in clear and powerful terms about why people — particularly young people — must pay attention to Earth's climate.  Photo: Mhari Shaw/NPR

Greta Thunberg led a protest at the White House on Friday. But she wasn't looking to go inside — "I don't want to meet with people who don't accept the science," she says.

The young Swedish activist joined a large crowd of protesters who had gathered outside, calling for immediate action to help the environment and reverse an alarming warming trend in average global temperatures.

She says her message for President Trump is the same thing she tells other politicians: Listen to science, and take responsibility.

Thunberg, 16, arrived in the U.S. last week after sailing across the Atlantic to avoid the carbon emissions from jet travel. She plans to spend nearly a week in Washington, D.C. — but she doesn't plan to meet with anyone from the Trump administration during that time.

"I haven't been invited to do that yet. And honestly I don't want to do that," Thunberg tells NPR's Ailsa Chang. If people in the White House who reject climate change want to change their minds, she says, they should rely on scientists and professionals to do that. 

Greta Thunberg To U.S.: 'You Have A Moral Responsibility' On Climate Change by Bill Chappell & Ailsa Chang, Environment, NPR, Sep 13, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #36

Posted on 8 September 2019 by John Hartz

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The air above Antarctica is suddenly getting warmer – here’s what it means for Australia

Antarctica via NASA satellite

Antarctic winds have a huge effect on weather in other places. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr CC BY-SA

Record warm temperatures above Antarctica over the coming weeks are likely to bring above-average spring temperatures and below-average rainfall across large parts of New South Wales and southern Queensland.

The warming began in the last week of August, when temperatures in the stratosphere high above the South Pole began rapidly heating in a phenomenon called “sudden stratospheric warming”.

In the coming weeks the warming is forecast to intensify, and its effects will extend downward to Earth’s surface, affecting much of eastern Australia over the coming months.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting the strongest Antarctic warming on record, likely to exceed the previous record of September 2002.

The air above Antarctica is suddenly getting warmer – here’s what it means for Australia by Harry Hendon, Andrew B. Watkins, Eun-Pa Lim & Griffith Young , The Conversation AU, Sep 6, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #36

Posted on 7 September 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Sep 1 through Sat, Sep 7, 2019

Editor's Pick

Hundreds of climate sceptics to mount international campaign to stop net-zero targets being made law

Exclusive: The signatories are part of a network pushing for environmental deregulation after Brexit – and some have links with Boris Johnson’s cabinet

Boris Johnson & Cabinet

Some of the 400 climate deniers have links to the prime minister's top ministers ( Getty ) 

Hundreds of climate change deniers including academics, politicians and lobbyists are to launch a campaign to stop commitments to net zero carbon emissions being enshrined in law, The Independent can reveal.

A letter titled “There is no climate emergency” – which has been signed by 400 people who deem climate change to be a myth – is being sent to leaders of the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) institutions in the coming weeks ahead of key environment talks.

The group will take further steps, which are to be outlined in press conferences in Oslo, Brussels, The Hague and Rome.

The climate deniers are connected to a transatlantic network of think tanks pushing for environmental deregulation after Brexit, which also have a history of climate science denial.

The letter, obtained by investigative non-profit news organisation DeSmog, shows the group has links with members of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.

Hundreds of climate sceptics to mount international campaign to stop net-zero targets being made law by Phoebe Weston, Environment, The Independent (UK), Sep 6, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #35

Posted on 2 September 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Aug 25 through Sat, Aug 31, 2019

Editor's Pick

Hurricane Dorian is a powerful Category 4 hurricane — pummeling the Bahamas and heading “dangerously close” to Florida

A worst-case scenario is playing out the Bahamas. Florida and the Southeast US may be spared the worst. But uncertainties remain.

Hurricane Dorian over Grand Bahama Island on 09-02-19

Hurricane Dorian on September 2. NOAA/NESDIS/STAR

On Monday, Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas as an incredibly powerful Category 5 hurricane, with howling winds in excess of 185 mph and with gusts up to 220 mph. The storm brought with it a surge — coastal flooding — of 18-to-23 feet above normal tide.

Dorian is estimated to be the second-most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, and ties the record for the most powerful storm to make landfall, according to the National Weather Service. Preliminary reports from the Abacos Islands show extreme devastation.

The storm weakened slightly and was (very slowly) moving through Grand Bahama Island on Monday, with winds gusting over 200 mph and 18 to 23 feet of coastal flooding. Plus, the forward motion of the storm nearly stalled, moving west at just 1 mph. The slower a storm moves, the more time it has to destroy communities in its path. It’s a worst-case scenario for a hurricane.

Hurricane Dorian is a powerful Category 4 hurricane — pummeling the Bahamas and heading "dangerously close" to Florida by Brian Resnick, Energy & Environment, Vox, Sep 2, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #34

Posted on 25 August 2019 by John Hartz

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Story of the Week...

G7 can’t turn a blind eye to ecocide in the Amazon

Leaders must ask themselves if Jair Bolsonaro’s destructive attitude to the forest and its peoples should be considered a crime

Amazon Fires 

The fires in the world’s largest rainforest have triggered a global outcry and are dominating the G7 meeting in Biarritz in southern France. Photograph: Victor Moriyama/Getty 

When G7 leaders sit in judgment on Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro this weekend, the question they should ask themselves is whether the rape of the natural world should finally be treated as a crime. The language of sexual violence will be familiar to the former army captain, who publicly admires the sadistic torturers of the dictatorship era and once said to a congresswoman, “I would never rape you because you are not worth it.” Last month, after Pope Francis and European leaders expressed concern about the Amazon, Bolsonaro lashed back by claiming: “Brazil is a virgin that every foreign pervert desires.”

As a nationalist, the president sees the Amazon in terms of ownership and sovereignty. As a chauvinist, he sees the region as a possession to be exploited and opened up, rather than cherished and nurtured.

Since taking power eight months ago, Bolsonaro has, layer by layer, stripped the rainforest of protections. First, he weakened the environment ministry and put it in the hands of a minister convicted of environmental fraud. Second, he undermined the agency responsible for monitoring the forest, Ibama. Third, he alienated Norway and Germany, the main donors to forest-protection causes. Fourth, he tried to hide what was happening by sacking the head of the space agency responsible for satellite data on destruction. Fifth, he accused environmental charities of starting fires and working for foreign interests. And sixth, he verbally attacked Amazon dwellers – the indigenous and Quilombola communities who depend on a healthy forest.

With these defences down, the president has encouraged outsiders from the mining, logging and farming industries to take advantage of economic opportunities. The results have been brutal. Last month, deforestation surged by 278%. This month is almost certain to be a record for August under the current monitoring system. The wounds are impossible to cover up. The Amazon’s fires are now burning on front pages, news broadcasts and social networks across the world.

G7 can’t turn a blind eye to ecocide in the Amazon by Jonathan Watts, Environment, Observer/Guardian, Aug 25, 2019 

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #34

Posted on 24 August 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Aug 18 through Sat, Aug 24, 2019

Editor's Pick

How teen Greta Thunberg shifted world's gaze to climate change

“Instead of worrying about how that future might turn out, I’m going to try to change that future while I still can,” the teen told NBC News.

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is the driving force behind a movement that has seen more than 2 million teens around the world take part in school strikes against climate change. Eleanor Taylor for NBC News

LAUSANNE, Switzerland ⁠— Staring through a swarm of photographers and television crews, self-described introvert Greta Thunberg took the stage at a Swiss university last week to pointedly reiterate a message that has captured the attention of leaders and like-minded young women around the globe: The world must take drastic action now to avert ecological and civilizational collapse.

“We know that our future is at risk,” the small, soft-spoken 16-year-old Swede tells journalists at the start of a weeklong youth summit at the University of Lausanne. “We would love to go back to school and continue with our everyday lives, but as crucial as this situation is, as serious as this situation is, we feel like we must do something about this now.”

Thunberg — whose central point is that humanity must immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions that have unrelentingly increased since the start of the industrial revolution, resulting in global warming — is the driving force behind a movement that has seen more than 2 million teens around the world take part in Fridays for Future school strikes against climate change.

On Wednesday, she set off from Britain’s shores on a monthslong journey — she is sailing to avoid flying — that will take her to a U.N. summit on climate change in New York in September, and the COP25 conference in Santiago, Chile, in December.

How teen Greta Thunberg shifted world's gaze to climate change by Linda Givetash, World, NBC News. Aug 17, 2019

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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #33

Posted on 18 August 2019 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review...

Story of the Week...

Assessing the Global Climate in July 2019

July was the warmest month on record for the globe

Kenya 

The global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average for July 2019 was the highest for the month of July, making it the warmest month overall in the 140-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date temperature for 2019 tied with 2017 as the second warmest January–July on record.

Global Significant Climate Events July 2019This monthly summary, developed by scientists at NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making.

Assessing the Global Climate in July 2019, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Aug 15, 2019 

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