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Comments 151 to 200:

  1. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    Norris @23, I had a really good quick read of Pinkers book (I know the owners of the shop) and overall its a good book. I have also read his wikipedia page. Like I said he makes lots of good points, and he is a quality writer. You are mistaking a criticism or two of pinkers book, for a total rejection.

    He is right that human nature is complex, however human nature is not totally genetically determined, and is more of a combination of nature and nurture. Some of his views are a little too libertarian for me, but he talks more sense than many people.

    I'm a supporter of humanism in some respects, and science and I was already familiar with many of his ideas and the history of declining violence.

    I did some psychology at university and I'm familar with ideas about language aquisition. I really like psychology, but a lot of it's still speculative and contentious. Remember this.

    Read this article  Norris, just for the alternative point of view "The limitations of Steven Pinker’s optimism. Ian Goldin questions an oversimplified model for our complex era."

    Pinker and climate change. This is an interesting article: He does indeed push nuclear power, but windpower and battery technology has improved and reduced in price since his article was written. 

    Pinker also says "New fourth-generation nuclear designs, a decade away from deployment, will burn waste from today’s plants and run more cheaply and safely." Now a decade is a long time in terms of the goals of the Paris accord, and you can probably double fourth generation nuclear power to two decades away at least. It's been promised for ages now, and still hasn't materialised.

    However I agree with pinker that linking the climate issue to problems of corporate greed etc (still very serious problems I might add) is probably not the right approach. 

    So yeah it's interesting. Like I said, I'm reading a similar book by Shermer so Pinker will have to wait!

  2. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    nigelj @ 21 and eclectic @ 22

    If you actually want to read a book that makes you feel good about where we have come from (based upon factual statistics and charts) I suggest that you both buy Pinker's book rather than just skimming it at a bookstore. 

    Pinker is ranked by Times and Foreign Policy as one of the world's most influential thinkers.  His book the "The Blank Slate" was a very interesting but challenging book to read on an entirely different topic. 

    Pinker is not a climate scientist (he is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard conducting research on cognition, language and social relations) but has been writing and conducting research for this book for the last three years (this according to Sam Harris).  He clearly has a significant research staff behind him.  If you want backup for statements made in the book, you will get the references in dividends.

    I have now got past Chapter 10 of "Enlightenment Now" where he deals with the environment.  There is not anything in that chapter that I disagree with.  I appreciate on this website that this might not be the strongest incentive to read the book but sKs gets a positive footnote reference in the book.  He clearly is a strong proponent of the future potential of nuclear power as well as other possible solutions.  I do not think any of the main contributors to this website would disagree with his analysis of the problem of AGW.  They may disagree with his suggested direction for solutions, especially nuclear power and the (last ditch) possible solution of climate engineering. 

    But anyone who wants some perspective on where we have come in 250 years thanks largely to the Enlightenment he or she will be in for a very enjoyable and educational read.

    eclectic, I challenge you to read something that is not from some conservative think tank but from a highly intelligent person (clearly left of centre) who is dealing with many issues in this book that affect our world and not just the climate.  I trust you agree there are other issues in this world that we have to consider.  See if your views are not at least modified somewhat after reading this book.  My guess is that you will not take me up on my challenge.  However, I suspect that nigelj will be so tempted.

    To escape the danger of living in an echo chamber we have to challenge ourselves to read things that we might not like but whose thoughts are from rational persons (with no axe to grind) who also backup their factual statements with references.  

    You can disagree with what you take from the facts that Pinker lays out (I challenge you to disagree with his analysis of the facts) but see if you do not somewhat agree with his analysis of where we go from here on both climate change and other areas of human endeavour.

    I personally think that this book will have a major influence on political discourse in America and elsewhere in the world.  You are cheating yourself if you just stand at a bookstore and read Chapter 10.

  3. Digby Scorgie at 10:55 AM on 10 March 2018
    Jet fuel from sugarcane? It’s not a flight of fancy

    SirCharles @1

    I was wondering about that too.  One barrel equals 159 litres.

  4. There Will Be Consequences

    The drought in Syria has been linked to both climate change and their terrible civil war.

  5. How blogs convey and distort scientific information about polar bears and Arctic sea ice

    What Daniel Bailey said.

    FYI, Desmog UK has published another polar bear post, including discussion of Crockford and her credentials.

  6. There Will Be Consequences

    The article claims that the effects of ‘business as usual’ could result in reduction of the human global population. It is likely that this will arise as a result of a combination of factors associated with climate change and SLR including:

    • Increased spread of vectors resulting in more rapid spread of diseases, exacerbated by the effects of heat-waves
    • Reduced capacity to produce and distribute food due to loss of arable land and infrastructure caused by SLR and climate severity.
    • An increase in the incidence of famine and growing inability of the international community to respond.
    • Hostilities and warfare as communities and nations compete for increasingly scare essentials of survival, particularly food and shelter.

    Very early stages of these developments are already in evidence in parts of Africa (S. Sudan warfare, Sahel drought) producing famine conditions. Reduced food crop production due to heat waves, drought and scarcity of water essential for irrigated agriculture is also evident.

  7. Daniel Bailey at 07:32 AM on 10 March 2018
    How blogs convey and distort scientific information about polar bears and Arctic sea ice

    Probably because Crockford's "blog" isn't credible.  Nor, due to obvious entanglements with FF concerns, is she.

    If you care to bring research published in a peer-reviewed journal of some standing, doubtless your contributions would receive a bit more play.

  8. ImaginaryNumber at 06:55 AM on 10 March 2018
    How blogs convey and distort scientific information about polar bears and Arctic sea ice

    As a new poster (I made my first post two days ago, right above this one) I'm wondering if the reason there is no discussion about the recent polar bear studies I linked to is because no one is following this particular blog anymore, or because the issues raised by Susan Crockford are not of interest to this group?

  9. Southern sea ice is increasing

    Argus, you commented that the antarctic has only had low sea ice last year in 2017, and this doesn't constitute  a trend. Fair enough, however the drop in sea ice last year was so dramatic it should count for something, and could be the start of a trend. Only time will confrm this of course.

    Have a look at this graph.

    As you can see in the article above, there are theories on why antarctic sea ice has increased that are compatible with a generally warming climate. Its a sort of anomaly.

    Another example. We also see a few glaciers advancing while most are retreating globally, according to the IPPC. Sceptics somehow bizarely claim this means the climate isn't warming. Surely the obvious rational conclusion is the climate is generally warming, but local weather conditions in a few countries cause some glaciers to advance for a few years. And this is exactly what the science also says.

    Most things point to global warming such as melting ice in the arctic and antarctic continent, global sea level rise, and global temperatures. There are localised exceptions, but there are good explanations for these things.

    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please note that Argus has recused himself from further participation here, due to frequent violations of the Commenting Policy here and for running a sock puppet user here in addition to his own.

  10. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    Argus @43, the moderator said the antarctic is off topic on this page. I will post a response on the page below.

  11. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    nigelj #39:

    I did not "claim" – I quoted an exact statement from an article, as is evident from both the quotation marks, and from the link.

    You say my "reference is to old data". It is from 2016, and your reference is from 2017. So, in a year my reference is already too old? Is that really how fast the facts are changing? I thought it would take decades, before you could make completely different statements about climate.

  12. There Will Be Consequences

    Nigelj - you forgot the most compelling actual risk of all - unchecked population growty, which could fall under resource limits, but any biologist worth his salt will say then the collapes comes it will be very rapid.

    Still, that's no reason to ignore global warming, and other factors which surely make things worse.

  13. Jet fuel from sugarcane? It’s not a flight of fancy

    A European perspective: According to Index Mundi the worldwide jet fuel consumption in 2012 was 5,381,000 barrels/day. When we believe that sugarcane could yield 2,500 liters of bio-jet fuel per acre of land, then we would need an area of arable land which is at least as large as the whole country Spain to plant enough crops for the annual supply. And when demand for air travel is projected to double in the next 20 years, as the author stresses, we would need an area of arable land which is as large as Spain and France together.

  14. There Will Be Consequences

    However "humanity" faces so many potential risks, I do sometimes wonder if it has a long term future. Climate change, asteroids, resource limits, mad politicians, dangerous cosmic particles, krakatoa size volcanos. Humanity exists on a knife edge.

  15. There Will Be Consequences

    Driving By, interesting theory but maybe, maybe not. I can't see a large drop in population anytime soon. I can't see a global religious war. People don't want global wars as much as in the past,  and even ISIS is hated by most moslems.

    Most population trends have global population peaking at 10 billion around 2100 and then either remaining static or falling but very slowly. It will only fall if family size drops below 2.1 children so this will take time to become accepted I think. Look up population growth on wikipedia.

    So it doesn't look like small population will solve the climate problem. However population growth still has to fall 'eventually', or humanity will simply run out of resources. Its about timing, and I dont think population will start falling until well into next century. That means a long time to live with climate change.

    However humaity faces so many potential risks, I do sometimes wonder if it has a long term future.

  16. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    NorrisM @19 , we should not be too quick to believe that the problem of "extreme poverty" has been almost abolished.

    What has happened in many so-called Developing Nations, is that a large slice of the rural population previously existing as subsistence farmers (and/or hunter-gatherers) is now living in urban slums, in abominable conditions of housing & work-scrounging, yet earning more than the $2 per day (which saves them from being classified as "extremely poor").

    As subsistence farmers, they had zero official income (plus or minus some bartering in the unofficial black economy).

    But, now living in the slums, they have elevated their income from the previously impoverished zero dollars to a much wealthier $2+ per day, and they enjoy the benefits of work-insecurity / unhygienic & polluted working-living conditions / higher crime / and a rather different level of self-esteem.

    They have been lifted out of extreme poverty — according to the economists who like to measure Gross Domestic Product.

    As a society, we don't deserve many pats on the back or other self-congratulations, when it comes to real measures of poverty.

  17. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    NorrisM @19

    Interesting  that you mention Pinker. I happened to have a look through Pinkers book "Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress" just yesterday in my local bookshop. I confess this is the first time I had heard of the guy.

    I think he "makes some good points" on the case for reason and the decrease of violence etc, and its good to remind ourselves its not all doom and gloom out there, but I was not impressed by the way he dismissed the problem of inequality. But then its a strange world where we agree on absolutely everything.

    And we have to be careful of not congratulating ourselves too much on human progress, and becoming in denial about various problems.  I see  people excuse problems with silly general statements about how things are good in some other area of life. 

    I'm currently reading a similar book called the Moral Arc by Michael Shermer, that also argues violence has decreased and morality has improved (on the whole, some specific aspects have not), and argues very convincingly. And it's more founded in empirical evidence, and is less preachy than Pinker.

    You keep repeating how our progress was fuelled by the cheap energy of fossil fuels. Yes it was but 1) you need to look forwards and recognise the problems with that fuel and 2) wind power is now cheaper than coal and solar power is close. So if you are concerned about cheap electricity, there is your answer.You should at least be supporting that element of progress.

    Finding cheap substitutes for aviation fuel is more challenging, but todays article on this website shows even that is getting closer.

    And regardless of the climate issue, oil and coal is not a sustainable resource. British Petroleum calculates we only have 50 years supplies left, at current rates of use, not allowing for population growth. Global coal reserves are estimated at 150 years.There may be more, but when an oil company starts saying these things it is significant and theres probably not much more left.

    Instead of burning oil and coal, we should conserve whats left for plastics, fertiliser perhaps, and essential and critical uses. 

    I have long been a futurist sort of enthusiast, and read books like limits to growth and future shock when a young teenager over 30 years ago. 

  18. One Planet Only Forever at 16:11 PM on 9 March 2018
    Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures


    Any perceived achievement that is not truly Sustainable is not a Real achievement, it is just a perception, an illusion, a delusion.

    Achiving all of the Sustainable Development Goals is what is required, even if a portion of humanity who temporarily unsustainably won by over-developing in the wrong direction loses their undeserved perceptions of superiority and prosperity when the corrections to sustainably benefit the future of humanity are rapidly implemented as required to minimize the harm done to the future of humanity.

  19. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures


    On another post I indicated that I lugged Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now down to Mexico instead of the Saposky book.  So it was interesting to see Steven Pinker referenced in the Guardian article.  Other than waiting for one final "instalment" on sea level rise from another website before I reply to michael sweet, the other reason for my lack of participation on this website has been reading Pinker's book which is very, very uplifting.   I have not yet reached his discussion of climate change but when I read his descriptions of what we have achieved as a human race over the last 250 years since the beginning of the Enlightenment, I am very interested to see how he will prescribe a solution to our issues presented by AGW which does not "throw the baby out with the bath water" to use an expression I have used on other posts on this website.  I highly recommend the book.  Much easier read than Karl Popper.

    Although I did not get it from this source, this book confirms my reference earlier that in the last 200 years we have reversed the 90/10 ratio when it comes to what percentage of the world now lives in extreme poverty.  He does not specifically reference cheap energy as one of the main reasons but his positive description of the industrial revolution leaves no doubt that he understands that much of our progress has been because of cheap energy delivered by fossil fuels.    

  20. There Will Be Consequences

    Letseee heere. 

    2m of SLR could well put a brake on world population, due to the disruptions involved. There's vast capacity to produce more food, but give the choice, humans will usually create conflict over resources rather than optimizing them.   If some event breaks out which humanity is rather prone to, such as a worldwide holy war which fragments into competing holy wars, the result could be a population decline of {pick a number} %. If that number is 75 or greater, problem solved. 

    If not, the population will continue to increase until it eventually leads to more intense, more destructive wars. Then, problem solved. 

    Earth will be just fine. Humanity will continue to multiply, but perhaps for a while by a factor of less than one.  

  21. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    Alchemyst @40

    Thank's for the link on Britains weather trends.

    Firstly with respect its really hard understanding your points at times. Possibly english is your second language. 

    Secondly I want to clear one issue up. You said the article I quoted was misleading.  In hindsight, the title of the article "Arctic warming more than much of europe is a worrying sign of climate change" is not a great title, and is unclear. However that is typical of the media, as  they use clickbait deceptive, silly headlines all the time.

    More importantly, the body of the article was more nuanced and not misleading to me, because they said that the warming arctic was almost certainly a climate change process, and that this "could" be causing the cold weather in Europe. Please note they acknowledged it is simply a hypothesis, and we don't have enough time data yet on recent changes in the Jet stream and arctic oscillation to be sure. But personally I think its a good hypothesis.

    Thirdly regarding your link on Britains cold weather history. I dont dispute its possible that if anything cold snaps like the one in the early 1960's  have lessened over the last century. This is what is expected overall in a warming climate of course. Your linked article is however hard to follow and I'm just assuming its correct in its data.

    Its also entirely possible that sunspots have a relationship to winter weather.

    None of this is the real point. The phemomena in the arctic over the last decade appears to be a great deal of warming and changes to the jet stream and the behaviour of the polar vortex that is all quite recent. This may be now causing a new trend of colder weather periods to start in Europe, so is a recent thing. That was my understanding of the article. Clearly we need years more of data to be sure. It might not cause more cold periods either, and instead the effect may simply be longer ones that linger. 

    But one thing is for sure. The rate of warming in the arctic is very high any way you look at it, and we have seen a few individual years now with very high seasonal temps, and the consequences could be disastrous for the planet.

  22. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    Moderator thank you for your comment
    The graph indicates cold weather arriving in Britain, not jetsteram events.
    The tile says "Central England Winter mean temperature 1660- 2013"
    It says nothing of jetsreams so why do you imagine jetstreams.
    Now what it does say is that the knock on from polar warming that is supposedly happening according to the molelers is not happening to the any extent as it did before global warming happened.
    This is what I have been saying all along but somehow you and the bloggers do not seem to have understood it.
    Ah well horses to water is what I say

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] I "imagine jet streams", because that is the topic of this article, the topic the paper referenced and the substance of nigelj newspaper article. As I keep suggesting, you seem to be tilting at another windmill. Similarly, modellers are not much involved. The variability of jetstream is directly observed in recent times and inferred from proxies in past. What modellers do is look at why jet stream variability appears to be increasing. If you do not want to discuss jet stream variability, then you are offtopic.

    Sorry, I think I will make a longer comment to explain my lengthy moderation. It seems to me that if someone made the claim "We are having some extreme weather, and this is a sign of climate change", then your comments would make more sense. But that is not what is claimed. Instead, what has been observed is that jetstream "loopiness" has become more frequent, and incidentally, that brings some kinds of extreme weather (but it is not the only cause). Is this unusual and how do you tell when jetstreams havent been observed for that long? Well someone figured out how to extend the record by using paired tree ring data, and yes, it turns out to be unusual. Modellers meanwhile notice arctic changes give more loopiness in the models. Is this the cause? Well that bit is still uncertain science but what we observe is consistant with it. Discovering that unusual to have loopiness over a 300 year record is reason for concern.

  23. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    Nigelj  7:22 am 2 march 2011

    "The article I referenced took no liberties with the data. Climate scientists have apparently postulated that the current cold weather in Europe is related to current high arctic temperatures and jet stream changes thats all. Its quite a good theory. Are you saying they are not entitled to postulate a theory? Remember we have empirical evidence that the jet stream has changed.
    Nobody has claimed all storms in Europe are being caused by recent climate change. The recent warming trend in the artic is probably just making them more frequent or longer lasting, as the changed jet stream lets more cold air move south than normal. This may also have happened in the 1940s and 1960's, but its pretty obvious that higher temperatures in recent decades can only make it happen more frequently now."

    Nigel, please read page 2 of the ref

    In it there is a red graph that shows the 1962 incedent in context with historical events of which there were many at about 12 year intervals.  It also shows that there has been no further similar events in the UK since 1963 date. the graph also show a slight hockey stick. Compared with the pre 1963 events, the 2011 event hardly registered in the graph.

    The argument has not been that the arctic is getting warmer but that this  is affecting western europe. The graph shows clearly that the so called more frequent events are not materialising. this is not computer modelling papers but real measurements. This is not surprising since as the arctic is warming, there is less difference in the temperature between the arctic and europe.

    Please read the document fully as it predates all this new stuff by 4 years, we have seen documentaries about it 

    If you notice a set of headlines is given in another paper on this topic 7 march

    None of the British Papers did the same mistake of DW and linking the Beast from the East to Climate Change, because all of the Brits know that these storms were worse and more frequent before climate change. they have either lived through them or had their grandad/dad tell them and every so often theBBC will have a documentory.

    We have empirical evidence that since global warming these storms are less frequent and milder.

    Moderator Response:

    [PS]" The graph shows clearly that the so called more frequent events are not materialising"

    It does no such thing. You cant make any statement about jetstream variability from one set of temperature measurement.

  24. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    Argus  @38

    You claim theres been a steady increase in Antarctic sea ice. Your reference is to old data. The following national geographic article shows antarctic sea ice at record lows in 2017.

    Global temperatures and sea level rise have been incresing for decades, we have seen more heatwaves and heavy rainfall events and so on. The arctic has been warming now for decades, and its not guesswork or belief to suggest this has implications for regional weather.

    Scientists have a good explanation for the changes in agw climate change with over 12,000 scientific papers on the issue, but you  prefer to claim all this science is just a 'belief'. Do you not know the difference between a belief and massive scientific evidence?

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] please put any further discussion of Antarctica on an appropriate thread.

  25. Explainer: The polar vortex, climate change and the ‘Beast from the East’

    I have a different take on the situation or rather a different way of thinking about it.  When most of the Arctic is ice covered, as has been often stated, most of the solar energy is reflected back into space. The air over the arctic radiates heat into space, becomes heavy and sinks.  As it hits the ground it spreads south and coriolis veers the moving air to the right resulting in the Polar Easterlies (moving toward the SW).  Air, sucked in to the poles at high altitude is also veered to the right resulting in the mentioned counter clockwise circulation at high altitude.  The air moving along the ground rises again at about 60 degrees north and heads back north at high altitude, completing the circulation of the Polar Hadley cell.  Jet streams occur at the junction between Hadley cells and the northern jet stream occurs at the top of this rising wall of air between the Polar Hadley cell and the Ferrel Cell.  It is this wall of rising air that separates polar air from temperate air and shepherds wether systems around the world.

    As the Arctic Ocean warms due to more and more open water, we should see episodes of rising air over the Arctic.  This should occur when the surrounding land is colder than the ocean.  This will suck surface air northward and with Coriolis, will result in SW winds (flowing toward the North East).  This will suck warm air into the Arctic.  The climate zones which at present are creeping northward at about a mile per year can be expected to lurch northward.  Two results, particularly are of concern.  One is the disruption of our delicately poised grain growing belts in the Northern hemisphere.  The other is the melting of Greenland.  Latent heat from water to water vapor is roughly 6 times as large as from water to ice.  If we have a coupling of rising moist air over the Arctic with density currents over Greenland, every liter of water that condenses on to the ice from this moist air can melt 6 liters of ice.  Add to that the heating of the air as it flows down as much as 3km of slope and we could see some spectacular melting of Greenland in the not too distant future.

  26. One Planet Only Forever at 03:47 AM on 9 March 2018
    Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    A correction of my comment @16 which is an understanding I am still developing:

    "... the math would say that not even one person could live that way through the many millions of years that humanity could potentially thrive on this amazing planet."

    Should be "... the math would say that a sustainable population of humans could not live that way through the many millions of years that humanity could potentially thrive on this amazing planet."

  27. One Planet Only Forever at 03:43 AM on 9 March 2018
    Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    A point of clarification in my comment @16.

    The 'refereeing' I refer to can best be done by Peers effectively responsibly professionally monitoring and correcting each other's behaviour, based on the constantly improved awareness and understanding of climate science (and other important helpful fields of learning). When that professional system breaks down, Harmful Winning Peers can Unite to the significant detriment of Others. And history has proven that those Harmful United Groups of Undeserving Winners can cause significant harm before humanity collectively Revolts against the Winners and the Systems they Exploit.

    It is far better to have Good Effective Refereeing than to let things Devolve into Fighting. Hopefully helpful people will prevail and effectively disappoint the developed harmful perceived Winners. The sooner the better for everyone except the undeserving Winners.

  28. One Planet Only Forever at 03:29 AM on 9 March 2018
    Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    I agree that it is not helpful to use terms and scales like Liberal-Conservative or Left-Right when discussing the type of people denying climate science or the corrections of developed human activity that climate science indicates are required to develop a sustainable better future for humanity.

    The labelling of actions of people should be based on the scale 'Helpful-Harmful to Others, especially to the future generations of Humanity'. And the Sustainability of actions claimed to be Helpful is the way to rank the value of an action (how many people can sustainably live that way).
    On the Help-Harm scale a neutral action would be Zero-Value, Useless (but at least Benign which is better than Harmful). And of course Harmful by that evaluation is simply unacceptable, no matter what attempted justification is developed (no matter how Helpful people who benefit from Harmful or Unsustainable behaviour claim they are). Any activity understandably producing net-harm to others, as the others perceive it, is unacceptable.

    And if an activity is simply unsustainable, like the burning of fossil fuels, the math would say that not even one person could live that way through the many millions of years that humanity could potentially thrive on this amazing planet. Any activity like that is harmful to future generations because they cannot continue to live/benefit that way. And the ones attempting to benefit that unsustainable way owe the future generations the development of more sustainable ways of living and the rapid transition to those ways of living, especially the more fortunate, the ones perceived to be Winning more than others.

    The Sustainable Development Goals establish a robust framework for evaluating how valuable an activity truly is, how Helpful or Harmful the activity actually is.

    What can clearly be seen is that the competition to Win perceptions of superiority relative to others requires diligent refereeing to keep undeserving unsustainable or harmful activities from Winning power, popularity or profitability contests. People being freer to believe whatever they want to believe and doing as they please in pursuit of 'their happiness' can be seen to encourage the development of harmful Private Interest attitudes and desired actions.

    Those unacceptable actions include people with harmful Private Interests attempting to get people who simplistically identify themselves in the Left-Right or Liberal-Conservative scales to unjustifiably or unwittingly Unite in support of understandably harmful Private Interests, to the detriment of sustainably developing a better future for everyone.

  29. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    My summary as a layman of this whole post, with its attached discussion, is as follows:

    We have seen unusual winter weather in several areas this winter: in some places warmer, in other places colder. These variations in temperature, humidity, and wind used to be called weather, but are now increasingly blamed on climate change.

    I think Alchemyst summarized the topic post nicely in #13: "Warm air goes up Greenland - cold air comes through Europe - first law of thermodynamics". The recent cold winter weather is only interesting because it can be discussed in relation to global warming. Nobody writes reports about the unusually cold winters (in northern Europe) of 1867, 1871, 1881, 1888, and 1942, because those cannot be connected to global warming.

    The warmer Arctic is interesting because it rhymes with AGW theories. What about Antarctica then? Not interesting. Near the south pole it's now -45, and that is supposed to be their summer, with the sun up 24/7. "In stark contrast to the sharp decline in Arctic sea ice, there has been a steady increase in ice extent around Antarctica during the last three decades, especially in the Weddell and Ross seas." (

    I can sympathize with Alchemyst's reaction at the end of #37, but I think it is not that "no dissent is tolerated". More likely it is that most writers in this forum are so skilled in advocating the AGW theory that they immediately can jump on any aberrant opinion, fully equipped with diagrams and reports that support their belief.

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Alchemyst could rightly argue that the headline in nigelj newpaper article could mislead someone how only read headlines. However, the blog post, the science paper and the substance of the newpaper article were all about the increasing frequency of jetstream variability (climate) and statements that amount to "its been cold/warm before" do not address trend. By all means present dissenting views, but argue against the real premise, not some strawman and present evidence. Ie a real counterpoint is some evidence that similar frequencies of jetstream variability occurred when artic basin had more ice.

    Also note that try to say Arctic seaice loss is okay because something different is happening in antarctica (and you may want to check most recent data) is a logical non-sequitor. Look at what is causing the changes in both places, but argue in an appropriate place.

  30. michael sweet at 21:53 PM on 8 March 2018
    There Will Be Consequences

    According to this science direct article, the interior of Antarcticia receives about 2 inches (5 cm) of precipitation a year.  I presume that is 2 inches of water equivalent of snow.  Although that is not very  much precipitation, since Antarctia is so big it adds up.  This might be from the stratosphere but that is not mentioned.

  31. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    It seems to me life is indeed about change. Society needs to experiment and put change first, because without this we stagnate, nothing really improves, and humanity can become overwhelmed by change that is forced upon us by external circumstances.

    But we need the wisdom to not discard tradition without plenty of thought, because traditional values are obviously not always inherently wrong, and served a purpose appropriate to their time. 

    Its also an aging thing. I have always been symapthetic to new ideas, but become a bit resistant to change as I have become older.

    Moderate conservatism values tradition. But I think the Republican Party hierarchy has sadly essentially become ultraconservative for whatever reason. Unfortunately radicals and authoritarians are ruling America, no doubt driven by a complex confluence of factors. But unless the general public say stop, it will continue. 

    "Only Six Percent Of Scientists Are Republicans: Pew Poll"

    Factotum says "And it is why conservatives really are anti science. By definition they are anti new."

    There might be something in this. It's sad if thats the case, but its hard to argue against the data.

  32. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    The Republican / Conservative party is the party of DEATH!!

    But first a definition: CONSERVATIVE:
    adjective 1. holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.
    synonyms: traditionalist, traditional, conventional, orthodox, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool, hidebound, unadventurous, set in one's ways;

    noun 1. a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.
    synonyms: right-winger, reactionary, rightist, diehard;

    LIBERAL: tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition

    I have found that, almost without exception, stupid is a word that has almost no meaning other than being a bit mentally slow. But this does not include those who destroyed the space shuttle in the same way as they did the Columbia, or Donald Rumseld who got us involved in the ongoing expensive mess that is Iraq, thus showing that they learned exactly nothing from our adventures in Viet Nam. So I define STUPID as being unwilling or unable to learn new stuff. Note how this fits with the definition of Conservative above.

    As nouns the difference between conservative and conservation is that conservative is a person who favors maintenance of the status quo or reversion to some earlier status while conservation is the act of preserving, guarding, or protecting; the keeping (of a thing) in a safe or entire state; preservation.

    Life is all about change. Systems and people that can change and adapt to a changing environment thrive. The only things that do not learn and change are dead. In order to live and thrive in fast changing environments, like the one in which we live, requires the ability to quickly learn new stuff about the environment, like Anthropological Global Warming, as opposed to living in denial.

    I hope this makes it clear why getting conservatives to learn new stuff is so hard.  And why less than 10% of scientists identify as conservative or republican.   Scientists are people who spend their entire lives working with new stuff.  That is anathama to almost all conservatives.  And it is why conservatives really are anti science.  By definition they are anti new.

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Crossing the line.

  33. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    Point of clarification: we are allowing the misuse of the term "Conservative." Today's Republicans are anything but conservative, they are on the opposite end of the political spectrum- they are "radicals." (The opposite end of the spectrum for Liberalism is Authoritariansim. Republicans are working very hard to undo the gains achieved for fairness and equal treatment in our society. I think it just confuses the picture when discussing those who accept science vs. those who live by willful denial.

  34. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    my initial comment was against a newspaper article that nigelj quoted. and as you would have read my comments. 

    It has had nothing against the main article. So please do not try and divert the point of my comment.

    The headline is what people remember and it is misleading.

    It is extraordinary that to raise a sinle error on a websit has raised so much opposition.

    It would bring one to the conclusion that no dissent is tolerated.

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] And my second quote was also from the newspaper article that nigelj quoted which explained that it was about trend. My moderation though was about trying to get you to be more explicit about what point you were trying to make instead of having everyone guess because it appeared you were tilting at windmills.

    [JH] Moderation complaint snipped. 

  35. There Will Be Consequences

    Snowfall rates are low, but I think it reasonably likely that snow falls somewhere in Antarctica every day, especially on margins and especially on Antarctic Peninsula. Total ice discharge from Antarctica is well ahead of the estimates of mass loss so I think it is reasonable to assume the difference is snowfall.

  36. Explainer: The polar vortex, climate change and the ‘Beast from the East’

    Thank's for that explanation. While It probably needs more time to be 100% sure, I think it would be stupid to underestimate or dismiss the scale of changes we are seeing in the arctic, and the implications for weather events.

    A related thing is now happening in New Zealand but in reverse. NZ is currently experiencing what is likely to be its hottest summer on record. According to the article below this is due to a combination of climate change, a la nina weather event, and a positive phase of the SAM (southern annular mode) which is apparently a measure of the strength of the Antarctic polar vortex, and which tends to cause warm weather for NZ when in a positive phase.

    I'm not aware of the vortex splitting in two but the boundary winds are shifting and causing a warming effect.

    According to the article, climate scientists have singled out climate change as being a big driver of an increasingly positive SAM. I'm on a bit of a learning curve with the details of the SAM, but I thought it was worth mentioning as it mirrors events in the arctic in some ways. Like with the arctic it may need more time to be 100% sure, but it would be very foolish to be complacent or dismissive.

  37. There Will Be Consequences

    "It snows in Antarctica....every day...." Huh?? I was under the impression it rarely snows, Antarctica is the driest continent. Most of the 'snow' is supposedly ice crystals that drift down from the stratosphere. 

    Correct me if I'm wrong.

  38. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    James Wight @11

    Thanks for the comment, and I agree with much of what you say now that you have clarified it. It initially has some mixed messages on where you were going.

    I still think its important acknowledge Obama tried to do the right thing in many respects and was clearly doing better than the current administration. Remember he was up against a republican congress that was extoradinarily hostile to him.

    However I agree Obama fell short of the ideal on many things, and you make a good point that the situation can create a false sense of security that enough is being done. This includes the climate issue because the only substantive federal policy was really the EPA legislation and this was more their doing than Obamas. I pretty much said so myself above in saying that only when the Democrats take a stronger stand on the climate issue will things move forwards, and they will start to give the Republicans a scare on the issue and force them to move.

    The TPPA is far from dead. Its been given a slightly different name and approved in principle, and it only remains for individual countries to make a final decision on whether they join.

    I live in New Zealand, and I support such agreements like the TPPA in principle. As a small nation we benefit massively from free trade and I think America would have as well.

    Having said that, I was a vocal critic of the agreement in respect of the details and the investor tribunals precisely because they hamstrung governments, however my country was able to modify this provision to some extent. I can live with the TPPA in its revised form.

    And its important to ensure the benefits of free trade are spread widely, and not captured by the top 10% in society. But that sort of corporate capture does not make free trade wrong in principle, and the last thing the world needs is bringing back tariffs and trade wars.

    You say "The difference between Democrats and Republicans is at best quantitative, and at worst good-cop-bad-cop. I don't particularly blame Obama as an individual any more than I blame Trump for the policies being implemented now. I'm saying that voting for the other party won't solve the climate problem, because both parties are controlled by the same corporate interests including the fossil fuel lobby."

    I hear where you are coming from. I think the democrats need to face some realities and deserve some robust criticism. Hilary Clintons policies were just barely "ok" overall, and certainly almost non existant on climate change. However if you put the boot into the Democrats too much, it could have the reverse affect of what you want.

    And I disagree about Trump. He is the author of many of the policies now being implimented. People need to fight this sort of policy every way they legally can.

    How do you suggest the excessive power of the corporates over politics gets changed?

  39. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    Seth Borenstein's below article is chocked full of information about records that have been set in the Arcitic this winter. Here are the introductory paragraphs of his in-depth article.

    Winter at the top of the world wimped out this year.

    The Arctic just finished its warmest winter on record. And sea ice hit record lows for this time of year, with plenty of open water where ocean water normally freezes into thick sheets of ice, new U.S. weather data show.

    Scientists say what’s happening is unprecedented, part of a global warming-driven vicious cycle that likely plays a role in strong, icy storms in Europe and the U.S. Northeast.

    “It’s just crazy, crazy stuff,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who has been studying the Arctic since 1982. “These heat waves, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

    It’s been so unusually warm that the land weather station closest to the North Pole — at the tip of Greenland — spent more than 60 hours above freezing in February. Before this year, scientists had seen the temperature there rise above freezing in February only twice before, and only ever so briefly. Last month’s record-hot temperatures at Cape Morris Jesup have been more like those in May, said Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute.

    Science Says: Arctic not so chill this record warm winter by Seth Borenstein, AP News, Mar 6, 2018

  40. Philippe Chantreau at 03:49 AM on 8 March 2018
    What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    I don't understand what Alchemyst is talking about. My initial post makes it clear that my concern is about the Arctic and the changes taking place there. I am comparing apples to apples, namely the temperature north of 80 degrees lattitude during the first 55 days of the year in the DMI archive. So, it is definitely comparing a cold period of the year with another cold period of the year.

    There may have been a similar weather situation in 1962 as in  2018 but the temperature in the Arctic was nowhere close to what it has been since the beginning of this year, as is totally obvious from the graphs. As I stated above in another post, I looked at the entire archive and did not find a single year with temperatures looking like what was just recorded in 2018. I may have missed one, anyone is free to look for themselves, the archive is freely accessible. 

    I did not consider European weather, my comment was about the Arctic temperatures and state of the sea ice, which saw the lowest January extent on record, and retreating ice in the Bering sea. Sea ice extent shows no sign of improvement, barely exceeding 14 million at a time where the interdecile range is between 15 and 16 million It appears likely that we are going to see the lowest max winter extent on record for a given year.

  41. There Will Be Consequences

    This is a well done article. The only point I would make is the possibility that things can and often are happening much faster than discussed here.

    For some reason most of science is taking the position of not wanting to worry people too much until it is too late. This is insanity.

  42. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    nigelj @9

    I'm also on the outside looking in, so we are equal in that regard!

    #1 I don't dispute Obama's climate policies were less bad than Bush and Trump, but that's not saying much. They still fell far short of the phaseout of fossil fuels which is necessary to actually stop the rise of CO2, indeed Obama was still subsidizing fossil fuels. Despite his policies being less bad in a technical sense, I think there's a case to be made that Obama's net effect was worse than Bush and Trump, because Obama placated environmental concerns a bit. At least under the Republicans, everyone knows the government does not have climate change under control.

    #2 Yes, Trump's dismantling of climate and environmental policies is a total disaster and insane at a time when humanity's impact on the planet is far outstripping anything sustainable. But the fact remains that those policies were already woefully inadequate and served primarily to reassure the public that something was being done. It's come out that some American towns have lead poisoning in their water supply, so clearly Obama-era environmental regulations weren't doing a great job.

    #3 The fossil fuel industry has benefited from all kinds of government subsidies as well as other favorable rules. US fossil fuel subsidies increased by over a third under Obama: Also under Obama, the government worked with mining corporations to run psyops against anti-fracking movements.

    #4 You shouldn't assume the TPP is dead, because other countries are still developing it and Trump is now making noises that he might be open to getting back into it. Anyway, the TPP does not benefit the people of any country because it is inherently anti-democratic. Investor-state tribunals only benefit corporations and their shareholders, by allowing corporations to sue foreign governments for lost profits, hamstringing governments' ability to regulate corporate activities - such as pollution. So when you say it benefits "America" I think you mean it benefits American corporations. The TPP was negotiated under Obama's watch.

    #5 Well I've just explained how the TPP is bad for anyone who's not rich. The Obama administration also infiltrated and shut down the Occupy Wall Street protests among other things. But yes, I agree the Republicans are making it even worse. That doesn't mean the Democrats were making it better. And the excuse of "We can't do anything because of the Republicans" wears pretty thin after eight years, especially since the Democrats controlled Congress for the first two years.

    #6 I stand corrected on Obama's military spending. However, the Democrats voted in favor of Trump's massive increase in military spending, so my point still stands that the two parties are similar if not the same.

    The difference between Democrats and Republicans is at best quantitative, and at worst good-cop-bad-cop. I don't particularly blame Obama as an individual any more than I blame Trump for the policies being implemented now. I'm saying that voting for the other party won't solve the climate problem, because both parties are controlled by the same corporate interests including the fossil fuel lobby.

  43. There Will Be Consequences

    I can't see business as usual lasting much longer in regards to fossil fuel use.

    I live in British Columbia in the Okanagan valley, we are already seeing the impacts of much more chaotic weather here and across this province. Last summer we had record forest fires across BC, one fire alone was over 500,000 hectares. We are also being warned once again this spring to be prepared for spring flooding as the snow packs are not behaving as they have in the past.

    And while this is happening this province has been in conflict with another who's government resents even talking about stopping a massive increase in the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline which carries diluted bitumen from the Athabasca tar sands to shipping terminals in the Vancouver area. One of the least sustainable of fossil fuels and if spilled one of the most polluting. If the billions of dollars required to build the new pipeline capacity which is close to 1 million barrels a day, is allowed that would require many years to see a return. We are still planning on the commercial exploitation for decades of the worst possible energy sources in this country even as governments at all levels discuss the need to mitigate climtae change.

    We here in Canada live in the bizarre state of being told we need to use more fossil fuels to fight climate change.

    The same goes for gas fracking and LNG. This is a huge issue here with the "new" provincial government approving a dam in the middle of the Montney gas formation who's only real intent can be powering an explosion of fracking across NE BC. Something the federal government also supports. While natural gas has only about 50% of the carbon intensity of coal, fracking for it also releases large amounts of methane from leakage. Making it as bad as coal as a climate change forcer.

    BC has commit to spending at least $12 billion which will likely climb to $15 billion before the Site C dam is finished. We could be spending that money on alternative energy sources across the province that would make a real difference in carbon emissions and also drive innovation in sectors that need significant stimulation to replace fossil fuels. Instead the electricty from that dam will likely go to powering gas fracking operations across the Montney gas fields. The government here has stated that no matter what its own scientific studies on the issue say, a moratorium on fracking is "unthinkable".

    We are still going in the wrong direction in regards to fossil fuels and climate change in BC and in Canada. Do not listen to claims from our politicians that they are doing something about this growing catastrophe.

    As early as 1993 the federal government was claiming that Canada was planning for a fossil fuel free future and doing our part to mitigate climate change. And investment and exploitation of fossil fuels across the nation has only grown.

    As I said at the begining, I don't think this will last much longer. We have already lost a Canadian city to climate change induced heats waves, this one in April of 2016 in Northern Alberta where temperatures reached over +20 C when usual temperatures are often -20 C in that area at that time. And came very close to losing several BC cities to fires last summer.

    At some point there will also be a political tipping point where it is simply no longer possible to deny this growing catastrophe and pretend we can base our future on fossil fuels.

    Here in Canada and BC this will mean huge stranded assets, but the alternative is changes that happen so fast and are so significant that they could possible drive our species extinct.

    Before much longer I don't think we will be talking about even carbon neutral energy models, we will be talking about carbon negative models to at least try and mitigate some of the impacts that are predicted before long and some like extreme heat waves and massive forest fires are already happening here.

    A future such as James Hansen is discussing with superstorms strong enough to hurl 1,000 ton boulders on shore is not an option. Or the loss of sea coasts through greatly increased erosion and then inundation.

    How will Asian populations feed themselves as well with areas like the Mekong and Yangtze deltas where much of the rice is grown, going under the sea or made useless to agriculture by salt water intrusion.

    Any policy that relies on fossil fuels on the decade scale should be treated in the same way we would with crimes against humanity.

    Because that is exactly what it is.

  44. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    James wight @8, on second thoughts it appears you are wrong. Obama didn't increase military spending,  as per this graph.  

  45. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    James Wight @8

    I don't live in America, so here is a view from the outside loooking in. It does look like both Republicans and Democrats serve corporate interests, however theres clearly a difference in quite a few respects:

    1) The Democrats have provably had more powerful climate mitigation policies than Bush and the current Trump / Republican administration. This has been openly documented and is not seriously disputed.

    2) It appears Obama at least tried to regulate other environmental and business issues, (The Dodd Franks Act comes to mind). Trump and the Republican Congress has done his best to dismantle all this. Notice how this study below just released shows the benefits of these regulations outweighed the costs.

    "Trump White House quietly issues report vindicating Obama regulations. It was easy to miss, but OMB demolishes the GOP’s deregulatory claims."

    3) I dont know how you say Obama drove a boom in fracking. Didn't the free market drive that?

    4) Regarding the TPPA (trans pacific partnership agreement), this involved America and various pacific nations such as NZ, latin american countries, Japan etc. I like free trade agreements, but I agree the investor state dispute resolution process involves closed door hearings by lawyers, with arguably conflicts of interest that have been well discussed. It needs to be more open and transparent.

    However it's a simple fact (because I followed the negotiation process closely) that America was getting by far the best deal out of this TPPA agreement, so the fact Trump has pulled out makes me laugh at how little he comprehends these things. America is also one of the most litigious countries in trade disputes, and generally does ok in these disputes. So I'm not entirely sure why you are so upset and blaming Obama. America has also benefited a lot from free trade, according to economists.

    5) Saying Obama "oversaw a rise in wealth inequality" is rather general and meaningless. I dont think he personally caused it, unless you can show me some evidence. He certainly at least tried to help poor people with various programmes, but was defeated by a republican dominated congress.

    Perhaps you can explain to me how Trump and the Republicans attempts to cut taxes for the wealthy, cut death duty taxes,  and cut food stamps and welfare entitlements help reduce wealth or income inequality? Because it sure doesn't look like it will help.

    6) Obama increased the military spending. Can't disagree, however Trumps spending increases appear considerably more ambitious. I'm not a pacifist, but I would have thought America has enough nukes to last a million years.

    So there's actually a  very significant quantitative and qualitative difference between Democrats and Republicans, and it is in favour of the Democrats.

    And remember, the point of the article was related to differences in respect of climate mitigation and science between the parties.

  46. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    This article seems to conflate politicians with voters.

    The politicians all serve corporate interests, though the Democrats may tend to do it to a lesser degree or, I would argue, through sneakier strategies. A recent study from Princeton University found that US government policy is determined by economic elites with little or no independent influence from the grassroots:

    The Obama administration drove a boom in unconventional oil and gas, sabotaged the Copenhagen climate talks through NSA shenanigans, attempted to cede the sovereignty of democratic nations to unelected corporate litigators via the Trans-Pacific Partnership, expanded the military which is one of the world's biggest polluters, and oversaw a rise in the wealth inequality which gives power to corporate lobbies like fossil fuels.

    So when it comes to the politicians, "Both Siderism" is very much correct. The Democrats are barely better than the Republicans, and arguably worse because they pretend to be better by saying the right words about climate change.

    Republican voters are worse in large part because they have been subjected to decades of propaganda from the fossil fuel lobby. Democratic voters may be better informed, but they are likewise subject to the propaganda of the Democratic Party which is paving the road to hell. If you think voting Democrat will solve anything, you are in my view extremely misled and part of the problem.

  47. ImaginaryNumber at 15:11 PM on 7 March 2018
    How blogs convey and distort scientific information about polar bears and Arctic sea ice

    I  would appreciate your critique of these recent articles on Polar Bears by Pagano, vs a counter-article by Susan Crockford. To my non-scientific mind, it appears she has some valid points.

  48. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures

    Money in politics is a huge problem. And the answer is what exactly? The system resists change.

    The Democrats need to at least stop relying on the fossil fuel lobby and company donations. At least find some wealthy campaign donors sympathetic to environmental issues. Find your answer to the Koch Brothers.

  49. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    This was the headline that nigelj posted

    Arctic warmer than much of Europe is a worrying sign of climate change

    however we now have established that in 1962 that a similar excursion took place in which the arctic was warmer than europe. a couple of degrees lass possibly, But these temperature reversals have a long history, so how can they be sign of global warming.

    The headline is therfore misleading.

    The fact that the arctic is warmer than europe at times is a sign of weather.

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] But a change in trends is a sign of climate change, and that article went on to explain not the significance of one event but the underlying changes. As did the paper that is main focus of this blog article. Noone disputes that one event by itself is insignificant and just weather. Persistant changes to jetstream variability are another thing altogether.

    Quoting Nigelj article (did you read down that far)
    But such "intrusion events" are happening with increasing frequency, says Adamson. And they "are linked to increased temperatures and reduced sea ice cover."

    Global warming may be to blame.

    "There is now a large and strong body of evidence that the major changes we are seeing are linked to climate change," Adamson said. "Changes in one part of the ocean-atmosphere system can have major impacts on another."

    Note the "increasing frequency"?

  50. What role did climate change play in this winter’s US freezes, heat, and drought?

    M A Roger at 5:04 am 4 March

    thanks for the tables. You missed the excursion!

    please read that the highest winter peak was 261.33 K on  21 Nov 1962 not 252K in February.

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] And??? What point are you trying to make?

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