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Recent blog posts
Posted on 27 March 2015 by dana1981 &
David Rose is a writer for the UK tabloid Mail on Sunday, and is known for his inaccurate and misleading climate change coverage. Rose is particularly fond of cherry picking data to hide the rapid decline in Arctic sea ice. In August 2014, he published a piece focusing on the fact that at the time, there was more sea ice in the Arctic than during the record-breaking summer of 2012. Rose’s misguided focus on noisy short-term data is underscored by the new record low winter Arctic sea ice extent we experienced this year, less than seven months after his piece was published.
, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, filed a complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso
) about Rose’s piece. Ipso is intended to police the UK print media. It replaced the Press Complaints Commission
(PCC) in this assignment after the latter was roundly criticised for failing to take action in the News of the World phone hacking affair
. Ipso describes itself as,
Posted on 18 March 2015 by dana1981 &
A new paper published in Climatic Change estimates that when we account for the pollution costs associated with our energy sources, gasoline costs an extra $3.80 per gallon, diesel an additional $4.80 per gallon, coal a further 24 cents per kilowatt-hour, and natural gas another 11 cents per kilowatt-hour that we don’t see in our fuel or energy bills.
Levelized generation costs for new US electricity generation and environmental damages by fuel type. Source: Climatic Change, Shindell (2015).
The study was done by Drew Shindell, formerly of Nasa, now professor of climate sciences at Duke University, and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel to theClimate and Clean Air Coalition. Shindell recently published research noting that aerosols and ozone have a bigger effect on the climate in the northern hemisphere, where humans produce more of those pollutants.
Posted on 10 March 2015 by dana1981 &
Everyone agrees that global warming has become a polarized issue. Liberals tend to view themselves as being on Team Human-Caused Global Warming is a Problem, and conservatives tend to view themselves on Team No It’s Not. Convincing people to change their beliefs and leave their cultural group is a challenge with any polarized subject.
When it comes to climate change, the scientific evidence falls squarely behind the first team, and so the question becomes how we reduce the polarization that makes so many people culturally identify with second team. That’s a question social scientists have been grappling with for years.
One suggested approach involves consensus messaging – telling people about the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming. People tend to badly underestimate the expert consensus on this issue, and research has shown that communicating the 97% consensus makes people more likely to accept the scientific reality of human-caused global warming and the need to do something about the threats it poses.
Expert Consensus is a Gateway Belief
A new study
by social scientists at Princeton, Yale, and George Mason universities goes further yet to suggest that perception of the expert consensus is a “gateway belief” that opens people to the acceptance of other important concepts.
increasing public perceptions of the scientific consensus causes a significant increase in the belief that climate change is (a) happening, (b) human-caused and (c) a worrisome problem. In turn, changes in these key beliefs lead to increased support for public action. In sum, these findings provide the strongest evidence to date that public understanding of the scientific consensus is consequential.
The study illustrates “the gateway belief model” in the following figure.
Posted on 2 March 2015 by dana1981 &
Last week, Willie Soon was caught failing to disclose conflicts of interest in his climate research and congressional testimony after having received over $1.2 million in funding from fossil fuel companies. This revelation raised alarms in Congress, with Rep. Grijalva sending letters to the universities of seven other scientists who have provided climate-related testimony, and Senators Markey, Boxer, and Whitehouse sending inquiries to 100 fossil fuel companies, trade groups, and NGOs. Senator Markey wrote,
For years we’ve known that fossil fuel interests have sought to block action on climate change and have denied the science. This investigation will help to determine who is funding these denial-for-hire operations and whether those who are funded by these fossil fuel interests are keeping their funders’ identities secret from the public and legislators
Soon’s funding and failure to disclose conflicts of interest raises red flags, and upon further investigation, the underlying problem is clear. Willie Soon does really bad science, and yet is treated as a climate expert and used by members of Congress to justify opposition to climate policies.
In a paper published last year with our colleagues, John Abraham and I discussed the disproportionate attention that poor-quality climate contrarian papers have received. And as I detailed in my just-published book, climate contrarians like Soon simply aren’t held accountable for their bad science and failed climate predictions. This lack of accountability and disproportionate attention are serious problems.
The reason Soon can be treated as an expert is that he’s been able to publish climate-related research in peer-reviewed journals. To get bad science published in peer-reviewed journals, Soon has followed the same strategies as other climate contrarians with flawed research. He has submitted papers to relatively obscure, non-climate science journals, and he’s exploited “pal review” with friendly journal editors.
Ways in which contrarians get shoddy science published.
Posted on 23 February 2015 by dana1981 &
I’ve just had a book published entitled Climatology versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics.
Climatology versus Pseudoscience cover
The book covers a wide range of climate-related topics, starting with a history of some key discoveries in the field of climate science beginning nearly 200 years ago. Along the way it debunks some common climate myths, progressing forward in time to the 1970s, when scientists’ ability to model the global climate began to advance rapidly. It examines the accuracy of a variety of global warming projections, starting with J.S. Sawyer in 1972, through the recent IPCC reports, as well as some predictions by contrarians like Richard Lindzen.
Accountability was one of my prime motivating factors for writing this book. While contrarians often criticize the accuracy of climate models, their projections have actually been quite accurate
. Not only were climate scientists and their models correct to project global warming resulting from the increasing greenhouse effect, but they’ve been quite good at projecting the right amount of warming. Climate scientists don’t take nearly as much credit as they should for these accurate projections.
Posted on 16 February 2015 by dana1981 &
California is in the midst of its worst drought in over 1,200 years, exacerbated by record hot temperatures. A new study led by Benjamin Cook at Nasa GISS examines how drought intensity in North America will change in a hotter world, and finds that things will only get worse.
Global warming intensifies drought in several ways. In increases evaporation from soil and reservoirs. In increases water demand. It makes precipitation fall more as rain and less as snow, which is problematic for regions like California that rely on snowpack melt to refill reservoirs throughout the year. It also makes the snowpack melt earlier in the year. The record heat has intensified the current California drought by about 36%, and the planet will only continue to get hotter.
Posted on 11 February 2015 by dana1981 &
The latest zombie climate myth to rise from the dead involves the oldest form of global warming denial. It’s a conspiracy theory that the Earth isn’t really warming; rather, fraudulent climate scientists are “fiddling” with the data to introduce a false warming trend.
In The Telegraph, which is a mostly serious UK newspaper, Christopher Booker calls scientists’ adjustments to temperature data “the biggest science scandal ever.” These accusations have echoed through conservative media and online blogs, even being aired on Fox News (three times).
In reality climate scientists process the raw temperature data for very good reasons. Sometimes temperature monitoring station locations move. Sometimes the time of day at which they’re read changes. Sometimes changes are made to the instruments themselves. In each case, if adjustments aren’t made, then biases will be included in the data that don’t reflect actual changes in temperatures.
Richard Muller at UC Berkeley was skeptical that climate scientists were doing all these adjustments correctly, so he assembled the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) team to check the data for themselves. The biggest initial financial contribution to the project came from the Koch brothers.
As Muller discusses in the video below, his team confirmed that the Earth’s surface temperatures are warming. In fact, BEST finds that NASA, NOAA, and the UK Met Office have slightly underestimated the warming over the past 15 years.
Collin Maessen interview with Richard Muller in December 2014
Posted on 9 February 2015 by dana1981 &
A new paper published in Global Change Biology summarizes the results of a 23-year experiment monitoring how global warming is impacting certain ecosystems.
At the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, the scientists have monitored ten 30-square meter plots of meadowland since 1989. Above five of those plots, overhead infrared radiators have been on constantly since January 1991, while the other five were used as the controls for comparison. The study reports,
The microclimatic effect of experimental heating throughout the growing season has been to warm the top 15 cm of soil by ~2 °C and dry it by 10–20% (gravimetric basis) during the growing season, and to prolong the snow-free season at each end by an average of ~2 weeks.
Ecosystem Changes Amplifying Global Warming
The scientists monitored the type of vegetation growing in the meadows. In both the controlled and heated plots, they saw a shift away from flowering plants, towards woody plants like sagebrush, with a bigger change in the heated plots.
They also monitored the amount of carbon in the soil. In the heated plots, the amount of carbon stored in the soil decreased, but it later rebounded. In the control plots, the carbon storage decreased more slowly, and hasn’t yet rebounded after 23 years. Simulations suggest the soil carbon storage will continue to decline for about anther 40 years before it rebounds.
100-year simulation of soil carbon storage in mountain grasslands and meadows. Photograph: Harte et al. (2015), Global Change Biology.
Posted on 3 February 2015 by dana1981 &
The US Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of creating regulations on carbon pollution from power plants, and Republicans in Congress hate the idea. Surprisingly, a majority of Republican voters support these regulations, with Tea Party members being the only exception.
Results of a recent Yale/George Mason Universities poll of American political conservatives.
Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress badly want to kill those regulations. However, they’re pursuing the avenues with the lowest chances of achieving that goal.
It’s important to remember that the EPA carbon pollution regulations are legally mandated. In 2007, the US Supreme Court ruled that if it determined that carbon pollution poses a threat to public health or welfare, the EPA would be required to regulate emissions of that pollution under the Clean Air Act. In 2009, the EPA issued its endangerment finding, citing several comprehensive climate science reports, correctly concluding that carbon pollution poses a threat to public health and welfare and must therefore be regulated.
So while some Republicans in Congress have called the proposed carbon pollution regulations an “executive overreach,” in reality the EPA is simply implementing the law of the land.
Posted on 27 January 2015 by Kevin C & dana1981
In The Telegraph, Christopher Booker accused climate scientists of falsifying the global surface temperature data, claiming trends have been "falsified" through a "wholesale corruption of proper science." Booker's argument focuses on adjustments made to raw data from temperature stations in Paraguay. In the video below, Kevin Cowtan examines the data and explains why the adjustments in question are clearly justified and necessary, revealing the baselessness of Booker's conspiracy theory.
The video features a prototype tool for investigating the global temperature record. This tool will be made available with the upcoming MOOC, Making Sense of Climate Science Denial, where we will interactively debunk myths regarding surface temperature records.
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