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Climate Hustle

Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that purports to refute global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?

 


2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #7

Posted on 18 February 2017 by John Hartz

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

Sun Feb 12, 2017

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Elevator Pitches - Chapter 01 - Ancient Sunlight

Posted on 17 February 2017 by Rob Honeycutt

Below is an excerpted chapter from my book, Twenty-eight Climate Change Elevator Pitches.

The purpose of this book is to deliver basic climate science information to the public in a simple and time efficient manner. Even when people have an interest in climate and accept that we face a critical challenge, they still have busy lives. They have responsibilities at home and work that keep them fully occupied. Climate science is a big complex issue that requires considerable effort to understand. I find that there are large numbers of people out there who only have a limited understanding of climate change and have limited time to dig into the details. Ultimately, I think this potentially limits how engaged they become. So, for those people, I've written up these "elevator pitches" to try to get the most information possible across in under 2-minutes per topic. 

Many of the regulars at Skeptical Science already know this information. All of you have friends who don't. All of you know people who want to understand more about this issue. You probably already refer them to SkS for reliable information on climate change. And while SkS is a great way to dispel climate myths and keep up with topical events, many people need a comprehensive primer course that fits into a busy professional schedule.

I've written 28 chapters and self-published them on Blurb.com, on iBooks and Kindle. I also have a long list of other chapters that I hope to add to these. All the graphics I've created myself with the hopes of bringing some life and visual engagement into the equation. 

Following this I will try to post one chapter a month while I continue to work on new chapters.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chapter 01 - Ancient Sunlight

[View full-sized image]

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Scientists study ocean absorption of human carbon pollution

Posted on 16 February 2017 by John Abraham

As humans burn fossil fuels and release greenhouse gases, those gases enter the atmosphere where they cause increases in global temperatures and climate consequences such as more frequent and severe heat waves, droughts, changes to rainfall patterns, and rising seas. But for many years scientists have known that not all of the carbon dioxide we emit ends up in the atmosphere. About 40% actually gets absorbed in the ocean waters.

I like to use an analogy from everyday experience: the ocean is a little like a soda. When we shake soda, it fizzes. That fizz is the carbon dioxide coming out of the liquid (that is why sodas are called “carbonated beverages”). We’re doing the reverse process in the climate. Our carbon dioxide is actually going into the oceans. 

The process of absorption is not simple – the amount of carbon dioxide that the ocean can hold depends on the ocean temperatures. Colder waters can absorb more carbon; warmer waters can absorb less. So, a prevailing scientific view is that as the oceans warm, they will become less and less capable of taking up carbon dioxide. As a result, more of our carbon pollution will stay in the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming. But it’s clear that at least for now, the oceans are doing us a tremendous favor by absorbing large amounts of carbon pollution.

How much carbon dioxide is being absorbed by the oceans is an active area of research. In particular, scientists are closely watching the oceans to see if their ability to absorb is changing over time. Such a study is the topic of a very recent paper published in the journal Nature. The authors studied recent ocean carbon dioxide uptake and in particular the mystery of why it appears the oceans are actually becoming more absorbing.

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Is anything wrong with Forbes Climate Reporting?

Posted on 15 February 2017 by Sarah

Forbes has trotted out another entirely ignorant piece on climate change, "Is Anything Wrong With Natural, Non-Man-Made Climate Change?" this time by fake expert Mario Loyola, a lawyer with a background in European history. I guess Forbes considers those credentials give him the expertise to communicate the complexities of climate change. Presumably Forbes would hire a physicist as counsel for a lawsuit concerning corporate governance (Loyola's actual area of formal disciplinary expertise)

Loyola first invents a straw man in the form of a mythical ‘environmentalist’. This fantastical creature thinks climate change is bad only because it is caused by humans and would not object to catastrophic climate change if it was natural. Loyola goes on to claim that some people “flatly deny that temperatures and sea levels could be rising partly for natural reasons”. If such people exist, I have never met one. Most of us learn about natural climate change in elementary school when we first read that the climate of the dinosaurs was much different than our current one. 

And most of us are able to recognize that multiple drivers combine to give an observed outcome. A car moves from the combined effects of the engine, the slope of the road, and the wind. Climate change is not either human-caused or natural; it is both. We also know that one driver can be much more important than others. The fact that your cat adds heat to your house doesn’t mean your furnace is irrelevant. According to Loyola logic, because natural volcanoes have caused catastrophic devastation in the past we shouldn’t try to prevent humans from releasing a nuclear bomb.

Loyola diligently searched the IPCC AR5 Summary for Policymakers to find a quote to bolster his claims that current climate change could be caused by something other than humans. He chose this one for his misinterpretation: ”It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together." If he had read and understood the report, he would know that his chosen quote about surface air temperatures doesn’t include heating of the oceans, which are absorbing 90% of the excess energy that is warming the planet.

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Why claiming that climate scientists are in it for the money is absurd

Posted on 14 February 2017 by BaerbelW

If you are reading the comments on basically any climate change related article, it won't take long to get to one (or more!) commenters boldly claiming that "climate scientists are only in it for the money". This will often be accompanied by outrageously high $ amounts to really get anybody's hackles up but without any real evidence for their statement.

This article is intended to be a repository listing resources you can use to counter this unsubstantiated claim whenever it crops up somewhere. Some are blog posts, some are videos while others come from social media postings.

Videos

One of the best explanations of why the claim is just absurd comes from Richard Alley in this interview snippet:

Many of the scientists interviewed for Denial101x also explain why they do what they do and it doesn't have anything to do with money (big surprise!). All those expert interviews are available in the Wakelet-collection Denial101x Expert Interviews

Blog Posts

John Timmer in ArsTechnica (May 2012) - Accusations that climate science is money-driven reveal ignorance of how science is done

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This is why conservative media outlets like the Daily Mail are 'unreliable'

Posted on 13 February 2017 by dana1981

Wikipedia editors recently voted to ban the Daily Mail tabloid as a source for their website after deeming it “generally unreliable.” To put the severity of this decision in context, Wikipedia still allows references to Russia Today and Fox News, both of which display a clear bias toward the ruling parties of their respective countries.

It thus may seem like a remarkable decision for Wikipedia to ban the Daily Mail, but fake news stories by David Rose in two consecutive editions of the Mail on Sunday – which echoed throughout the international conservative media – provide perfect examples of why the decision was justified and wise.

Debunked David Rose doubles down, goes full Trump

I knew people would misuse this. But you can’t control other people.

Most importantly, the scientific integrity of the NOAA data is indisputable. The organization’s global temperature data is nearly identical to that of other scientific groups like NASA, the Hadley Centre, and Berkeley Earth.

View image on Twitter

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2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #6

Posted on 12 February 2017 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... SkS in the News... Photo of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces

Researchers behind ‘Anthropocene equation’ say impact of people’s intense activity on Earth far exceeds that of natural events spread across millennia

Earth photo via ISSS-NASA 

Photograph: ISS/NASA

For the first time, researchers have developed a mathematical equation to describe the impact of human activity on the earth, finding people are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces.

The equation was developed in conjunction with Professor Will Steffen, a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, and was published in the journal The Anthropocene Review.

The authors of the paper wrote that for the past 4.5bn years astronomical and geophysical factors have been the dominating influences on the Earth system. The Earth system is defined by the researchers as the biosphere, including interactions and feedbacks with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and upper lithosphere.

But over the past six decades human forces “have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth system,” the authors wrote, giving rise to a period known as the Anthropocene.

“Human activities now rival the great forces of nature in driving changes to the Earth system,” the paper said.

Steffen and his co-researcher, Owen Gaffney, from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, came up with an “Anthropocene Equation” to determine the impact of this period of intense human activity on the earth

Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces by Melissa Davey, Guardian, Feb 12, 2017

Journal reference: The Anthropocene Review, doi: 10.1177/2053019616688022

Also see:

Simple equation shows how human activity is trashing the planet by Owen Gaffney, New Scientist, Feb 10, 2017

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6 comments


2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #6

Posted on 12 February 2017 by John Hartz

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

Sun Feb 5, 2017

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What do gorilla suits and blowfish fallacies have to do with climate change?

Posted on 10 February 2017 by John Cook

The ConversationThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

A famous psychology experiment instructed participants to watch a short video, counting the number of times players in white shirts passed the ball. If you haven’t seen it before, I encourage you to give the following short video your full attention and follow the instructions:

 

At the end, participants discovered the point of the video when asked if they had observed the gorilla walking through the players. Half the participants didn’t notice the gorilla at all. The lesson? When we laser-focus on specific details (like players in white shirts), we can miss the gorilla in the room.

What does this have to do with climate change? I’m a cognitive psychologist interested in better understanding and countering the techniques used to distort the science of climate change. I’ve found that understanding why some people reject climate science offers insight into how they deny science. By better understanding the techniques employed, you can counter misinformation more effectively.

Every movement that has rejected a scientific consensus, whether it be on evolution, climate change or the link between smoking and cancer, exhibits the same five characteristics of science denial (concisely summarized by the acronym FLICC). These are fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations, cherry picking and conspiracy theories. When someone wants to cast doubt on a scientific finding, FLICC is an integral part of the misinformation toolbox.

The five characteristics of science denial. Skeptical Science, CC BY-ND

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Whistleblower: ‘I knew people would misuse this.’ They did - to attack climate science

Posted on 9 February 2017 by dana1981

This weekend, conservative media outlets launched an attack on climate scientists with a manufactured scandal. The fake news originated from an accusation made by former NOAA scientist John Bates about a 2015 paper by some of his NOAA colleagues. The technical term to describe the accusation is ‘a giant nothingburger’ (in this case, a NOAA-thing burger) as Bates clarified in an interview with E&E News:

The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data, but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was.

Bates later told Science Insider that he was concerned that climate science deniers would misuse his complaints, but proceeded anyway because he felt it was important to start a conversation about data integrity:

I knew people would misuse this. But you can’t control other people.

“Misuse” is the understatement of the year

Misuse it people did – and how! Bates’ complaints boiled down to the fact that the paper didn’t have “a disclaimer at the bottom saying that it was citing research, not operational, data for its land-surface temperatures.” The Mail on Sunday (just banned by Wikipedia as an unreliable source) warped that minor procedural criticism into the sensationalist headline “Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data.” 

The story then spread through the international conservative media like a global warming-intensified wildfire - to Breitbart, Fox News, Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, and more. Scott Johnson summed up the fake news story perfectly in an article at Ars Technica:

At its core, though, it’s not much more substantial than claiming the Apollo 11 astronauts failed to file some paperwork and pretending this casts doubt on the veracity of the Moon landing.

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Correcting Warren Meyer on Forbes

Posted on 8 February 2017 by Rob Honeycutt

In an online discussion last week I was directed to a 2012 article on the Forbes website written by businessman named Warren Meyer, titled Understanding the Global Warming Debate. The article contains a wide range of misleading and misinformed assumptions ostensibly to explain why there is a debate on climate change. I always see dissecting articles like these as a great opportunity to better understand the actual science over the perceived controversy of climate contrarians. Though the reference is somewhat dated now, this is the internet, so it lives in virtual perpetuity relative to how much traffic it receives. Over the past 5 years this article has received 186,000 views. That, in itself, makes this article worthy of addressing as an example of how motivated non-scientists get the science wrong.

Errors Straight Out of the Box

Mr. Meyer opens with a misleading attempt to frame the issue as a debate on "catastrophic man-man global warming theory." This approach conflates two very distinct elements of the science on anthropogenic climate change. Nowhere in the published scientific literature can you find the phrase he uses. When I did a search on this term in Google Scholar, what did I find? Mr. Meyer's Forbes article. Also searching "catastrophic man-made climate change" I get a smattering of non-research related materials coming from people who rejecting human influence on climate. Meyer has formed a completely irrelevant and fabricated framing of the issue for the basis of his discussion. 

In Mr. Meyer's article he claims this is the "core theory" and states that he will use the IPCC as the primary source for this, even though there is no place where the IPCC frames climate change in this manner. 

Compounding His Errors

In explaining "how this works" Mr. Meyer connects greenhouse gas effects, to warming, to impacts, but he immediately begins to demonstrate a lack of understanding about the science.

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Mail on Sunday launches the first salvo in the latest war against climate scientists

Posted on 7 February 2017 by John Abraham

In this new political era, climate scientists and their science are under attack. The attack is from multiple fronts, from threats to pull funding of the important instruments they use to measure climate change, to slashing their salaries and jobs. But there is a real fear of renewed personal attacks, and it appears those fears are now being realized. What the attackers do is identify and isolate scientists – a process termed the “Serengeti Strategy” by well-known and respected scientist Michael Mann who suffered these types of attacks for years.

The author of the recent attack piece, David Rose in the UK, has a history of denying the well-established science of climate change. He has a long history of making incorrect climate change statements. In the attack, Mr. Rose claims that scientists used misleading data in a recent (2015) paper that studied the rate of temperature change across the globe. He reportedly obtained information from someone who works at NOAA to imply that internal review procedures were not followed as the paper was prepared for publication. What Mr. Rose omitted however, is incredibly telling and he does a disservice to his readers.

First, he neglects to mention that the work from the 2015 paper authored by Dr. Thomas Karl and others at NOAA has already been independently verified by other researchers.

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Repeal without replace: a dangerous GOP strategy on Obamacare and climate

Posted on 6 February 2017 by dana1981

House Republicans have introduced a bill to rewrite the Clean Air Act. The bill, which has 114 co-sponsors (all Republicans), would revise the Clean Air Act such that:

The term ‘air pollutant’ does not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride.

This change would kill the EPA regulation of carbon pollution that’s a key component of the Clean Power Plan.

The background story

The history behind these regulations is an interesting story. During the George W. Bush Administration, Americans were becoming increasingly concerned about the threats posed by human-caused global warming, and by the Administration’s actions to censor and silence climate scientists instead of taking action to address the problem.

So 12 states led by Massachusetts, in coordination with a number of cities, territories, and environmental and scientific groups, sued the Bush EPA. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 2007. The key was that Massachusetts had to demonstrate it had legal standing to sue, which meant proving that the state was being directly harmed by climate change and EPA’s refusal to address it.

The Massachusetts Attorney General made a smart argument. As a coastal state, Massachusetts is harmed by sea level rise encroaching on its valuable shoreline property. Sea level rise is indisputably caused by global warming via the melting of land ice and the expansion of warmer water. The Supreme Court ruled in their favor in a 5-4 decision split along partisan lines, with Anthony Kennedy casting the deciding vote on the side of science. Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts dissented, basically arguing that the link between a lack of EPA carbon regulations and the state’s lost coastal property was too hypothetical, but they were outvoted.

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2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #5

Posted on 5 February 2017 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... Photo of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

AMICUS GROUPS FILE BRIEF TO PROTECT CLIMATE SCIENTISTS

New York, N.Y. — The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) has asked the District of Columbia federal District Court to safeguard roughly 8,000 pages of privileged correspondence between nine climate scientists.

CSLDF Logo

Under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Judicial Watch, a conservative group, has sued for emails of scientists employed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who authored a June 2015 study published in Science.

The study, which has since been replicated by other researchers, found that global temperatures are increasing faster than previously thought. The paper addresses and refutes prior claims about a so-called slowdown in global warming since the late 1990s.

Judicial Watch’s lawsuit is not the first attempt to obtain these researchers’ emails. In October 2015, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who disputes the scientific consensus on climate change, tried to use congressional subpoena powers to obtain the NOAA emails. At that time, NOAA released hundreds of pages of documents to Rep. Smith, but steadfastly refused to produce the scientists’ email correspondence.

CSLDF filed the new brief on Friday, January 27 in partnership with the American Meteorological Society (AMS)  and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The brief urges the court to protect scientific correspondence and preliminary drafts of publications from indiscriminate disclosure.

“Now more than ever, it is critical that we defend climate scientists and their research,” Lauren Kurtz, Executive Director of CSLDF, said. “Forcing the disclosure of scientists’ private emails is invasive, unnecessary, and hugely detrimental to the scientific method.”

Organizations across the political spectrum increasingly use public records laws to attack research findings and fields of study they dislike. As in this case, the records requests typically do not seek the data, methodology, or funding sources of completed studies. The requests instead seek privileged prepublication materials, such as preliminary drafts, private critiques from other scientists, and researchers’ personal documents and correspondence.

These types of records are generally protected from disclosure by the deliberative process privilege — as courts have repeatedly recognized in cases similar to this one. Government scientists’ correspondence, preliminary drafts, and peer review materials are quintessential deliberative, pre-decisional records safeguarded by Exemption 5 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5).

“Providing free and open access to all data and methodologies used to conduct scientific research is central to science and to scientific advancement,” Keith Seitter, Executive Director of AMS, said. “However, internal communications leading up to publication in the peer-reviewed literature should remain confidential so scientists can feel free to debate and resolve issues candidly without fear of their remarks being taken out of context.”

The brief explains that releasing privileged prepublication materials — generally treated as confidential within the scientific community — could significantly damage government scientists’ ability and willingness to conduct research into vitally important but politically charged subjects like climate change.

“Scientists, whether in government or academia, need to freely exchange and discuss ideas without constantly looking over their shoulders or worrying about legal action,” said Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the UCS.

###

About CSLDF: The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was founded in 2011 in response to the increasing incidence of legal attacks against climate scientists. Its mission is to protect the scientific endeavor in general — and climate science and climate scientists in particular — from assaults being launched through the legal system, including intrusive public records requests.

About AMSAmerican Meteorological Society was founded in 1919 and is dedicated to advancing the atmospheric and related sciences for the benefit of society. AMS is committed to strengthening scientific work across the public, private, and academic sectors, and believes that collaboration and information sharing are critical to ensuring that society benefits from the best, most current scientific knowledge and understanding available.

About UCS: Union of Concerned Scientists was founded in 1969 and combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative and practical solutions to pressing environmental and security problems. UCS believes that a crucial ingredient in achieving these goals is maintaining research institutions within the federal government that foster an environment of independent and rigorous scientific inquiry free from political interference. 

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2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #5

Posted on 4 February 2017 by John Hartz

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

Sun Jan 29, 2017

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A Message to Trump from Climate Scientists

Posted on 3 February 2017 by CollinMaessen

Before the AGU meeting I read John Abraham's article 'Trump begins filling environmental posts with clowns' in which he made the following point:

Or Trump could attend the world’s largest geophysics meeting, which occurs in just a few weeks (American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting). He could walk around with a TV camera and a clipboard. Ask any random 10 scientists any question on climate change. Let’s see how their answers compare to the information he is going to get from his handpicked insiders.

Trump most likely would never do this. Nor can I possibly know what kind of questions he would ask if he did visit the AGU Fall Meeting. But I can ask scientists what their message to Trump would be if they had a chance to speak to him. That one paragraph from Abraham's article inspired me to do just that. During the Fall Meeting I asked several scientists what their message would be and compiled their responses into this video.

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23 comments


A punchy climate book from a citizen scientist

Posted on 2 February 2017 by John Abraham, Rob Honeycutt

We know the climate is changing, the Earth is warming, and humans are the cause. As a scientist who studies this daily, I know the evidence is compelling and mutually reinforcing. In fact, the evidence is so compelling that it’s almost impossible to find scientists who disagree.

We also know that it’s possible to solve this problem using today’s technology. We don’t need to wait for fairy dust or cold fusion. Using energy more wisely, increasing renewable energy, modernizing nuclear power, and other actions are all things we can do right now to make the future better. 

But we also know that there are many groups and companies that are trying to stop meaningful action on climate change. Sure, many are fossil fuel companies that want to continue to sell their product. Others are ideological groups and people that for various reasons reject the compelling science. They cannot bring themselves to understand the facts because it conflicts with their belief system. These groups and people spread misinformation and purposely try to muddy the waters by creating a “fake news” environment of sorts.

For the rest of us who are interested in making this world better but not experts on climate change, it’s a real challenge to separate the science from the baloney. Not only do you have to know the science, but you may have to communicate it in a very concise situation. We scientists are trained to bloviate, not to persuade.

Fortunately, there is help. For anyone who wants easy to access, short elevator-speech responses to the most common questions and myths about climate change, a new resource is available. Interestingly, it was authored not by a climate scientist but by a citizen scientist. I’ve read the text and can vouch for its scientific accuracy.

The book is entitled Twenty-eight Climate Change Elevator Pitches written by Rob Honeycutt - a contributor to Skeptical Science. This book covers topics typically in 2-3 pages. Really short, really concise, always on point. Rob uses analogies to help describe climate science in ways that the rest of us can relate. He includes both basic science chapters as well as myth debunking. For instance, he relates geological climate change to a boxing match

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8 comments


Global warming hiatus claims prebunked in 1980s and 1990s

Posted on 1 February 2017 by Ari Jokimäki

The recent global warming hiatus has been a subject of intensive studies during the last ten years. But it seems that there already was some research relating to the global warming hiatus during 1980s and 1990s (the earliest studies on the issue were actually back in the 1940s-1970s). This seems to have gone largely unnoticed in the scientific literature of current global warming hiatus, and it certainly seems to have gone unnoticed by climate mitigation opponents who have made claims on the global warming hiatus since at least 2006 and still continue to do so.

Some time ago I stumbled on a few old papers which discussed the temperature evolution of the 1940s to the 1970s. In the early 20th century there had been warming which seemed to have stopped around 1940 until it resumed again in the turn of 1970s and 1980s. Here I will use "global warming moratorium" to describe this early hiatus (the reason for this can be found below). Below I'll go through some of the papers in question.

Early studies on the 1940s-1970s global warming moratorium

Global surface temperature increased during the first half of the 20th century. In 1940s, this warming apparently stopped. Possibly the first to notice this was Kincer (1946):

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22 comments


Trump is copying the Bush censorship playbook. Scientists aren't standing for it

Posted on 31 January 2017 by dana1981

As President George W. Bush said, “Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me ... You can’t get fooled again!”

During the his Administration, political appointees censored climate science reports from government agencies, and mostly got away with it by gagging the scientists. A survey found that nearly half of 1,600 government scientists at seven agencies ranging from NASA to the EPA had been warned against using terms like “global warming” in reports or speeches, throughout Bush’s eight-year presidency.

Unaccustomed to being strong-armed by their own administrators, some government scientists reacted with what former US Climate Change Science Program senior associate Rick Piltz called “an anticipatory kind of self-censorship.” As a result, the Bush Administration’s efforts to smother scientific findings concerning global warming in government reports were remarkably effective.

Trump is dusting off the Bush censorship playbook

Perhaps assuming those tactics would work again, the Trump Administration has copied the Bush scientific censorship playbook. They issued de facto gag orders to government science agencies like the EPA and USDA, ordered that the EPA take down its climate webpage, and have mandated that any studies or data from EPA scientists must undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

However, the Trump Administration is quickly realizing that scientists learned from the Bush scandal. This time around they’re not trying to appease the political appointees by staying quiet and allowing the censorship to happen.

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2 comments


Fact Check: Trump's Cabinet Picks on Human-Caused Global Warming

Posted on 30 January 2017 by dana1981

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – which summarizes the latest and greatest climate science research – was quite clear that humans are responsible for global warming:

It is extremely likely [95 percent confidence] more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together … The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period … The contribution from natural forcings is likely to be in the range of −0.1°C to 0.1°C, and from internal variability is likely to be in the range of −0.1°C to 0.1°C.

In fact, the report’s best estimate was that humans are responsible for all of the global warming since 1951, and greenhouse gases for about 140%. That’s because natural factors have had roughly zero net effect on temperatures during that time, and other human pollutants have had a significant cooling effect.

In other words, the Earth’s surface warmed about 0.65°C between 1951 and 2010. Human greenhouse gas emissions caused temperatures to be about 0.9°C hotter than they would have otherwise been. But other human pollutants caused about 0.25°C cooling, and natural factors had a very small effect.

contributions

Contributions to the 1951–2010 global surface warming. Illustration: IPCC Fifth Assessment Report

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