2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #7

Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict

The record rainfall and storm surges that have brought flooding across the UK are a clear sign that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.

Many commentators have suggested that we are suffering from unprecedented extreme weather. There are powerful grounds for arguing that this is part of a trend.

Four of the five wettest years recorded in the UK have occurred from the year 2000 onwards. Over that same period, we have also had the seven warmest years.

That is not a coincidence. There is an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, in line with what is expected from fundamental physics, as the Met Office pointed out earlier this week. 

Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict, Op-ed by Nicholas Stern, Comment is Free, The Guardian, Feb 13, 2014

Climate change means we will have to get used to flooding

The political blame-game is in full swing over who is at fault for the current flooding crisis. But ministers debating local dredging operations in Somerset is a sideshow.

It will be a miracle if the winter of 2013-14 does not go down as the wettest on record – and frankly, it is difficult to see what could have been done to prevent massive disruption given the rainfall. But why is this happening?

The immediate answer is that the UK is “stuck” in a weather pattern – a common feature of our climate. But what is uncommon is the exceptional intensity of the rain and waves.

Climate change means we will have to get used to flooding by Nigel Arnell The Independent, Feb 11, 2014 

Freezing out the bigger picture 

Scientists refer to global warming because it is about, well, the globe. It is also about the long run. It is really not about what happened yesterday in Poughkeepsie.

The entire United States, including Alaska, covers less than 2 percent of the surface of the earth. So if the whole country somehow froze solid one January, that would not move the needle on global temperatures much at all.

Freezing Out the Bigger Picture by Justin Gillis, By Degrees, New York Times, Feb 10, 2014

Greens call for clear-out of 'climate change deniers'

The Green Party of England and Wales has called for a purge of government advisers and ministers who do not share its views on climate change.

Any senior adviser refusing to accept "the scientific consensus on climate change" should be sacked, it said.

Party leader Natalie Bennett said the rule must apply to all senior advisers, including those with no responsibility for environmental issues.

Greens call for clear-out of 'climate change deniers' by Ross Hopkins, BBC News, Feb 14, 2014

Ice storm paradox: It's colder because the Earth is warmer 

With the American South locked in a deep freeze, you can be sure that plenty  of the folks suffering through the snow and ice storms are interpreting the big  chill as more proof that global warming is a hoax. “Warming?” they scoff. “How  can the planet be warming when it’s so darn cold?”

People in other parts of the world seem to have no great difficulty  understanding the science but, in the good old USA where quite a few people  consider science just another political opinion, it is going to take a lot  longer to get most people to accept the cold facts about a warmer  world.

Ice storm paradox: It's colder because the Earth is warmer by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times, Feb 13, 2014

Obama prepares plan for deeper greenhouse gas pollution cuts

The Obama administration is quietly working on new greenhouse gas emissions targets to deliver to the United Nations, even as it struggles to craft regulations that will enable the United States to meet its current carbon-cutting goals.

With Republicans striking out at President Obama's climate change agenda as part of an effort to unseat vulnerable Senate Democrats in November, the administration is hardly advertising its effort. But according to officials involved in the process, the treacherous political terrain has not stopped the administration from forging ahead with developing new emissions goals.

Obama Prepares Plan for Deeper Greenhouse Gas Pollution Cuts by By Lisa Friedman and ClimateWire, Scientific American, Feb 11, 2014

Scientists certain human activity causes climate change

The problem with the public conversation about climate change is that not everyone plays by the same rules.

The majority of scientists follow the scientific method — a systematic approach to building knowledge. Starting in the 1820s, scientists began accumulating evidence, through the slow process of hypothesis testing and data collection, that adding carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere would warm the planet.

Now, after almost two centuries of research, scientists are as certain that human activity causes climate change as doctors are that cigarette smoking causes cancer.

Scientists certain human activity causes climate change, Op-ed by Simon Donner, Vancouver Sun, Feb 11, 2014

Study sounds ‘El Niño Alarm’ for late this year

A new study shows that there is at least a 76 percent likelihood that an El Niño event will occur later this year, potentially reshaping global weather patterns for a year or more and raising the odds that 2015 will set a record for the warmest year since instrument records began in the late 19th century.

The study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, builds on research put forward in 2013 that first proposed a new long-range El Niño prediction method.  

Study Sounds ‘El Niño Alarm’ For Late This Year by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Feb 7, 2014

UK floods making climate sceptics hot under the collar

The UK floods are not just causing misery for thousands of people around the country whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted. They are also making a few climate change sceptics hot beneath the collar.

No doubt they are finding it an uncomfortable experience to realise that their misleading attempts to inform the public into believing that climate change poses no threat to the UK are now being undermined by the irrefutable evidence provided by the record rainfall and storm surges.

UK floods making climate sceptics hot under the collar by Bob Ward, The Guardioan, Feb 14, 204

The 'pause' in global warming is not even a thing

The idea that global warming has "paused" or is currently chillaxing in a comfy chair with the words "hiatus" written on it has been getting a good run in the media of late.

Much of this is down to a new study analysing why one single measure of climate change – the temperatures on the surface averaged out across the entire globe – might not have been rising quite so quickly as some thought they might.

The 'pause' in global warming is not even a thing by Graham, Readfearn, Plaen tOz, The Guardian, Feb 11, 2014

What Is Climate Geoengineering?

Climate geoengineering advocates have long argued over how to actually define the term "geoengineering." The precise details of that definition are important for various reasons, not the least of which is that it will determine what likely is to be subjected to the scrutiny and potentially complex and difficult legal governance processes that such a global scale climate-tweak effort would necessarily involve.

What Is Climate Geoengineering? Word Games in the Ongoing Debates Over a Definition by Richard Smolker, Truthout, Feb 12, 2014

Winter weirdness: Is Arctic warming to blame?

For Alaskans who have basked in record warmth, Atlantans who abandoned cars during a January snowstorm, or Californians enduring drought, this winter's extremes have been nothing if not memorable.

Drought or unusual warmth is in sync with the effects that climate scientists expect from global warming. But what about wintertime invasions of Arctic air into the US Deep South or into China, where, a new study indicates, record cold events became more frequent over the past 10 to 20 years?

For some climate scientists, January's extremes and the atmospheric patterns that nurtured and sustained them are fresh bits of information to apply to these intriguing questions: Has global warming's effect on the Arctic set the stage for persistent weather patterns that lead to extremes? If so, is the decline in Arctic sea ice the stage manager for the wintry events?

Winter weirdness: Is Arctic warming to blame? by Pete Spotts, The Christian Science Monitor, Feb  9, 2014

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 15 February, 2014

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