Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

Climate Hustle

dana1981

Dana Nuccitelli is an environmental scientist at a private environmental consulting firm in the Sacramento, California area. He has a Bachelor's Degree in astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master's Degree in physics from the University of California at Davis.

Dana has been researching climate science, economics, and solutions since 2006, and has contributed to Skeptical Science since September, 2010.  He also blogs at The Guardian, and is the author of Climatology versus Pseudoscience.  He has published climate-related papers on various subjects, from the build-up of heat in the Earth's climate system to the expert consensus on human-caused global warming.

Follow him on Twitter.

Publications

Nuccitelli, D., Way, R., Painting, R., Church, J., & Cook, J. (2012). Comment on ocean heat content and Earth's radiation imbalance. II. Relation to climate shifts. Physics Letters A.

Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S.A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., Way, R., Jacobs, P., & Skuce, A. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2), 024024+. 

Cook, J., Oreskes, N., Doran, P. T., Anderegg, W. R., Verheggen, B., Maibach, E. W., Carlton, J. S., Lewandowsky, S., Skuce, A. G., Green, S. A., & Nuccitelli, D. (2016). Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming. Environmental Research Letters, 11(4), 048002.

Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Skuce, A., Way, R., Jacobs, P., Painting, R., Honeycutt, R., Green, S.A. (2014). Reply to Comment on ‘Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature: a Reanalysis’. Energy Policy. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2014.06.002

Nuccitelli, D. A., Abraham, J. P., Benestad, R. E., & Mandia, S. A. (2013). Comment on: Akasofu, S.-I. On the Present Halting of Global Warming. Climate 2013, 1, 4–11. Climate, 1(2), 76-83.

Abraham, J., Cook, J., Fasullo, J., Jacobs, P., Mandia, S., & Nuccitelli, D. (2014). Review of the consensus and asymmetric quality of research on human-induced climate changeCosmopolis2014(1), 3-18.

Benestad, R. E., Hygen, H. O., Dorland, R. V., Cook, J., & Nuccitelli, D. (2013). Agnotology: learning from mistakes. Earth System Dynamics Discussions, 4(1), 451-505.

Nuccitelli, D., Richter, M. J., & McCall, B. J. (2005). A search for interstellar carbon-60. In IAU Symposium (Vol. 235, p. 236P).

Encrenaz, T., Bézard, B., Greathouse, T., Holmes, S., Richter, M., Nuccitelli, D., & Forget, F. et al. (2006, February). Ground-based high-resolution IR spectroscopy of Mars: H2O and H2O2 mapping, search for CH4, and determination of CO2 isotopic ratios. In Second Workshop on Mars Atmosphere Modelling and Observations, held February.

 

Recent blog posts


Fake news tries to blame human-caused global warming on El Niño

Posted on 5 December 2016 by dana1981 &

Human carbon pollution is heating the Earth incredibly fast. On top of that long-term human-caused global warming trend, there are fluctuations caused by various natural factors. One of these is the El Niño/La Niña cycle. The combination of human-caused warming and a strong El Niño event are on the verge of causing an unprecedented three consecutive record-breaking hot years

Simply put, without global warming we would not be seeing record-breaking heat year after year. In fact, 2014 broke the temperature record without an El Niño assist, and then El Niño helped push 2015 over 2014, and 2016 over 2015.

Sadly, we live in a post-truth world dominated by fake news in which people increasingly seek information that confirms their ideological beliefs, rather than information that’s factually accurate from reliable sources. Because people have become incredibly polarized on the subject of climate change, those with a conservative worldview who prefer maintaining the status quo to the steps we need to take to prevent a climate catastrophe often seek out climate science-denying stories.

Into that environment step conservative columnists David Rose at the Mail on Sunday, parroted by Ross Clark in The Spectator and James Delingpole for Breitbart, all trying to blame the current record-shattering hot global temperatures entirely on El Niño. Perhaps saddest of all, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee tweeted the Breitbart piece, to which Senator Bernie Sanders appropriately responded:

An über cherry-picked argument

The conservative columnists made their case by claiming that, with the recent strong El Niño event ending, temperatures are “plummeting,” thus blaming the record heat on El Niño. There are several fatal flaws in their case.

First, the “plummet” they cite is not in global temperatures on the surface where we live, and where temperatures are easiest to measure accurately, but rather in satellite estimates of the temperature of the lower atmosphere above the portions of Earth’s surface covered by land masses. Second, although the satellite data extend as far back as 1979, and the global surface temperature data to 1880, they cherry pick the data by only showing the portion since 1997. Third, the argument is based entirely upon one relatively cool month (October 2016) that was only cool in that particularly cherry-picked data set.

The argument is easily debunked. While there was a strong El Niño event in 2015–2016, there was an equally strong event in 1997–1998. The two events had very similar short-term warming influences on global surface temperatures, but according to Nasa, 2016 will be about 0.35°C hotter than 1998. That difference is due to the long-term, human-caused global warming trend. In fact, according to Nasa, even October 2016 was hotter than every month on record prior to 1998. These “plummeting” post-El Niño temperatures are still as hot as the hottest month at the peak of the 1998 El Niño.

monthly temps

Read more...

5 comments


Trump and the GOP may be trying to kneecap climate research

Posted on 30 November 2016 by dana1981 &

Last week, Donald Trump’s space policy advisor Bob Walker made headlines by suggesting that the incoming administration might slash Nasa’s climate and earth science research to focus the agency on deep space exploration. This caused great concern in the scientific community, because Nasa does some of the best climate research in the world, and its Earth science program does much more. Walker suggested the earth science research could be shifted to other agencies, but climate scientist Michael Mann explained what would result:

It’s difficult enough for us to build and maintain the platforms that are necessary for measuring how the oceans are changing, how the atmosphere is changing, with the infrastructure that we have when we total up the contributions from all of the agencies ... we [could] lose forever the possibility of the continuous records that we need so that we can monitor this planet.

Walker’s comments set off alarm bells for another reason. Were it simply a matter of transferring Nasa’s climate and earth science programs to other agencies, what would be the point? Such a transfer would be logistically difficult, and if the research funding weren’t cut, it wouldn’t save any taxpayer money. And it’s not as though the branches doing Nasa’s climate research are distracting other branches of the agency from conducting deep space exploration.

The suggestion does however look a lot like a Trojan horse whose true purpose is to cut government-funded climate research, perhaps transferring some of Nasa’s programs and budget to other agencies and simply scrapping the rest.

Bob Walker’s politicized science

In an interview with The Guardian, Walker accused Nasa of “politically correct environmental monitoring” and “politicized science.” Carol Off from CBC’s program As It Happens conducted a follow-up interview with Walker and asked for examples to support his accusations. Walker cited the example of Nasa’s announcement that 2014 was the hottest year on record, claiming:

Read more...

20 comments


Groups working with Republicans on climate are discouraged, but see a glimmer of hope

Posted on 21 November 2016 by dana1981 &

Because America is entirely governed by two political parties, passage of legislation usually requires bipartisan support in US Congress. However, the Republican Party is the only major political party in the world that denies the need to tackle climate change. Therefore, for several years any hope of passing climate legislation hinged upon breaking through the near-universal opposition among Republican legislators. A number of groups have focused on doing just that.

In the wake of the 2016 US election results, I contacted these groups to assess their feelings about the prospects of US government action on climate change in the near future. The general sentiment was understandably one of discouraged pessimism, but each group identified glimmers of hope.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s success and growth

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is one of the leading grassroots climate organizations in America, and has also expanded rapidly internationally. The group has seen explosive growth in recent years, now hosting chapters in 356 of America’s 435 congressional districts (over 80%), with a membership approaching 50,000 strong.

Under the CCL proposal, carbon pollution is taxed at the source, and 100% of the revenue is returned to taxpayers via a regular rebate check. It’s a bipartisan solution – liberals get their desired carbon pollution tax, while conservatives get a free market policy that doesn’t grow the size of government. Moreover, modeling projects that the policy will have a net overall positive effect on the economy.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby has also achieved several significant successes. The group was involved in spearheading the Gibson Resolution, in which 15 Republican members of Congress called for action to tackle the risks posed by climate change. CCL was also the driving force behind the creation of the House Climate Solutions Caucus – a group currently comprised of 10 Republican and 10 Democratic members of Congress exploring bipartisan climate policy solutions. And CCL initiated the California state government’s Resolution urging the federal government to pass a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

Read more...

10 comments


On Trump and climate, America is split in two by these demographics

Posted on 14 November 2016 by dana1981 &

The world is shocked that America elected Donald Trump as its 45th president. Exit polls show that the country is sharply divided on Trump along the same lines as its sharp divisions on climate change.

Political ideology was the single strongest determining factor in the election. 90% of Republicans voted for Trump, while 89% of Democrats voted for Clinton. Ideology is also the primary factor associated with acceptance or denial of human-caused global warming, as climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe explained eloquently in this video:

Race was the second-clearest determining factor in the presidential election. Trump won white voters by 21 percentage points; Clinton won minorities by 53 points. Minorities are also far more likely to accept and be concerned about climate change than white Americans. As Samantha Bee explained, white Americans bear responsibility for electing Donald Trump:

The urban/rural divide was the third-strongest determining factor in the presidential election. Clinton won urban voters by 24 points; Trump won rural voters by 28 points. In many cases, cities are leading the way in taking action to curb global warming.

Fourth, voters younger than 45 went for Clinton by a 12-point margin, while older voters preferred Trump by 11 points. Voters under the age of 30 voted for Clinton by an 18-point margin. Similarly, young Americans are far more likely to be concerned about climate change than older Americans.

Finally, there is a gender gap, though it’s smaller than many expected. Despite accusations from 15 women that Trump groped, kissed, or assaulted them, and a recording of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, he only lost the female vote by 12 points – the same margin by which he won the male vote, and approximately the same margin by which Obama beat Romney and McCain among women. White women even favored Trump by 10 points, and white women without a college degree by an astonishing 28 points.

Read more...

15 comments


President Trump would Make America Deplorable Again

Posted on 7 November 2016 by dana1981 &

In September, Hillary Clinton came under fire for suggesting that half of Donald Trump’s supporters belonged in “a basket of deplorables” consisting of “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it.” 

Labeling people in such a disparaging manner is not a constructive approach. However, research has shown it’s true that Donald Trump brings out the worst characteristics in Americans. Only about half of Trump supporters think global warming is real, and twice as many Republicans are unsure about the evidence as they were a year ago. Hostility towards women and racial resentment correlate with Trump support almost as strongly as party affiliation. Xenophobiamisogyny, and denial of science and facts are the defining characteristics of Donald Trump’s candidacy.

How did we get here?

Journalists have struggled to treat Donald Trump as something other than a standard presidential candidate. Because he constantly spawns new scandals and is lacking in the policy department, to normalize Trump and abnormalize Clinton, network evening news programs have devoted three times more coverage to Hillary Clinton’s emails than all policies combined, as accurately satirized by Saturday Night Live:

The nightly news programs have devoted zero time to discussing the candidates’ climate plans. Media false balance has struck again.

Read more...

19 comments


Coal doesn’t help the poor; it makes them poorer

Posted on 31 October 2016 by dana1981 &

A dozen international poverty and development organizations published a report last week on the impact of building new coal power plants in countries where a large percentage of the population lacks access to electricity. The report’s conclusions are strikingly counter-intuitive: on the whole, building coal power plants does little to help the poor, and often it can actually make them poorer.

Delivering electricity to those in energy poverty is certainly important. For example, household air pollution killed 4.3 million people globally in 2012; many of those lives could be saved and health improved with the use of electric stoves to replace burning wood or charcoal. However, the question remains whether coal is the best way to deliver that electricity.

More coal doesn’t help people living close to the grid

The report notes that approximately 15% of people in energy poverty live close to existing electric grids, but there are a variety of barriers blocking their connection. For example, the poor consume relatively little electricity, so the costs of connecting them may exceed the resulting profits. The power lines used to connect them also result in high energy losses and power system instability. The poor also have little political influence in many developing countries. As the report concludes:

This means that for energy-poor families living close to the grid, building new power generation capacity – coalfired or otherwise – will not help them get connected. Instead, access will require financing the upfront costs of new connections, and rationalising tariffs to reflect the true costs of supplying power.

More coal also doesn’t help people in rural areas

Approximately 84% of energy-poor households live in rural areas further away from the grid. For this group, decentralized stand-alone and mini-grid solutions are much quicker than waiting to build a new centralized power plant and distribution lines. A single power plant can take a decade between planning and ultimate completion, while distributed wind turbines or solar panels can be deployed much more rapidly, as Elon Musk explained in Before the Flood:

Read more...

1 comments


'The atmosphere is being radicalized' by climate change

Posted on 24 October 2016 by dana1981 &

Climate change’s impacts on extreme weather and society are becoming increasingly clear and undeniable. While we are making progress in solving the problem, we’re still moving too slowly, and one of the two political parties governing the world’s strongest superpower continues to deny the science. This led astrophysicist Katie Mack to make the following suggestion, related to a common refrain from Donald Trump and Republican Party leaders:

Maybe governments will actually listen if we stop saying "extreme weather" & "climate change" & just say the atmosphere is being radicalized

Global warming intensified Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew set a number of records. Its record-breaking rainfall and storm surge caused historic flooding and destructive winds along the coasts of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Hillary Clinton touched upon the science linking global warming and hurricane impacts in a recent speech in Florida:

Read more...

10 comments


No longer taken seriously, we're seeing the last gasp of climate denial groups

Posted on 19 October 2016 by dana1981 &

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is an anti-climate policy advocacy group in the UK that often releases misleading scientific “reports.” The group also hosts annual lectures, and this year, they booked a room at the Royal Society. Many members of the Royal Society expressed concern that the GWPF would exploit the organization’s credibility, and asked that the event be cancelled

The Royal Society’s governing council met and decided to allow the event to proceed, for fear that cancellation would give it “an unwarranted higher profile.” As a spokesperson for the Royal Society told DeSmog UK:

The evidence shows us that the earth is warming and that recent warming is largely caused by human activities. Once that is accepted, there is scope for debate on the policy responses and that is the area that the GWPF claims to be interested in.

If the GWPF uses this opportunity to misrepresent the scientific evidence it would undermine the legitimacy of its views on policy responses to climate change.

The lecture was delivered by writer Matt Ridley, and predictably, as is the norm for Ridley, the first three-quarters of his talk indeed misrepresented the scientific evidence. While Ridley doesn’t deny the most basic aspects of human-caused global warming, he is a self-prescribed “lukewarmer;” a group that falls into the category of Stage 3 climate denial.

Ridley’s lecture is a 5,600-word Gish Gallop that would require a novel to fully debunk. However, he condensed his main arguments into four key points that are easily refuted:

Why do I think the risk from global warming is being exaggerated? For four principal reasons.

1. All environmental predictions of doom always are;
2. the models have been consistently wrong for more than 30 years;
3. the best evidence indicates that climate sensitivity is relatively low;
4. the climate science establishment has a vested interest in alarm.

We’ve solved previous environmental problems, so let’s not solve global warming?

Ridley’s first argument against the dangers of global warming is incredibly ironic. He claims that we have nothing to worry about because previous “environmental predictions of gloom” were wrong. But the reason his cited predictions of danger didn’t come to fruition, in most cases, is because we took action to stop them.

Read more...

8 comments


Pew survey: Republicans are rejecting reality on climate change

Posted on 6 October 2016 by dana1981 &

Climate scientists have 95% confidence that humans are the main cause of global warming over the past six decades. Their best estimate attributes 100% of global warming since 1950 to human activities90 to 100% of climate scientists and their research agree on this. Human-caused global warming is as settled as science gets.

Yet most Americans don’t realize it. Moreover, the more conservative a person’s ideology, the less likely they are to accept this scientific reality or to trust the scientific experts.

According to a new Pew Research Center poll, just 48% of Americans realize that the Earth is warming mostly due to human activity. Highlighting a vast partisan reality gap, 79% of liberal Democrats and just 15% of conservative Republicans answer the question correctly.

Science knowledge matters for Democrats, but not Republicans

Among social scientists, there’s an ongoing debate about whether facts can change peoples’ minds on scientific issues that have become politically polarized, like climate change. There’s some evidence that when conservatives have more scientific knowledge, it just gives them more tools to use in rejecting the scientific information that conflicts with their ideological beliefs.

Pew asked a variety of general science questions to test the correlation between scientific knowledge and acceptance of human-caused global warming. Overall, Democrats and Republicans got the same average score on these scientific questions, although liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans scored better than moderates in both parties. When it came to understanding that humans are causing global warming, Pew found that scientific knowledge makes a huge difference among Democrats, and no difference among Republicans.

pew

However, previous research has shown that conservatives with climate-specific knowledge are more likely to accept climate realities.

For Democrats, ideology isn’t a factor because the main solutions to the problem (e.g. regulations and pollution taxes) don’t conflict with their ideological beliefs. Thus scientific knowledge determines whether they understand that humans are causing global warming. For three-quarters of American conservatives, their ideology prevents them from accepting that reality, regardless of their scientific literacy.

Read more...

3 comments


DOE charts show why climate doom and gloom isn't needed

Posted on 4 October 2016 by dana1981 &

A new report from the US Department of Energy paints a bright picture for our prospects to cut carbon pollution and prevent the most dangerous levels of climate change. The report looked at recent changes in costs and deployment of five key clean energy technologies: wind, residential solar, utility-scale solar, batteries, and LED bulbs. For each technology, costs fell between 41% and 94% from 2008 to 2015.

costs

Cost reductions in five key clean technologies since 2008. Illustration: US Department of Energy

Good news for doom and gloom environmentalists 

Many who understand the realities and dangers of human-caused global warming are afraid that we’ll fail to avoid catastrophic climate change. Among this group, even positive climate stories are often viewed through a lens of pessimism, and we often see stories about the likelihood that we’ll miss climate targets.

However, it’s important to acknowledge the progress that’s being made, and retain a sense of hope and optimism that we can still avoid the worst climate consequences. This new DOE report highlights the fact that clean energy technology is quickly moving in the right direction, toward lower costs and higher deployment.

Read more...

20 comments



The Consensus Project Website

TEXTBOOK

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)

THE DEBUNKING HANDBOOK

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

The Scientific Guide to
Global Warming Skepticism

Smartphone Apps

iPhone
Android
Nokia

© Copyright 2016 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us