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‘There Is No Climate Emergency’: Scientists Call for Reasoned Debate

An iceberg behind houses and buildings outside the village of Innarsuit, an island settlement in the Avannaata municipality in northwestern Greenland. (Magnus Kristensen/AFP/Getty Images)
An iceberg behind houses and buildings outside the village of Innarsuit, an island settlement in the Avannaata municipality in northwestern Greenland. (Magnus Kristensen/AFP/Getty Images)

‘There Is No Climate Emergency’: Scientists Call for Reasoned Debate

The message was clear: “There is no climate emergency.”

With those five simple words, a global network of scientists and professionals attempted to inject reasonableness and decorum into what should be a robust discussion about a complex scientific and public policy issue, but has instead degenerated into an ever more intense mud-slinging contest over the years.

People on one side of the argument dismiss their opponents as wild-eyed socialists attempting to leverage public fear and ignorance to further their political agenda. On the opposite side, people dismiss those who disagree with their supposedly settled scientific conclusions as nothing more than knowing shills or ignorant dupes of evil energy interests.

In between those extremes that are so popular with armies of public relations professionals, who shape the messages of public interest groups and professional politicians to maximum effect, are a not-so-quiet silent majority of scientists and professionals who take a more measured, reasoned view of the science when considering the supposed climate emergency some say we’re facing.

A group of 500-some scientists and professionals signed on to the “European Climate Declaration” that was released last week. This simple, short, and understandable statement proposed how analysis of any public policy issue involving complex science should be approached from a reasoned, fact-based perspective.

Statements such as “97 percent of climatologists agree that anthropogenic climate change is occurring” isn’t a statement of fact, it’s an opinion twice removed. It’s an opinion that involves evaluation of the legitimacy of how the results of the poll in question were sorted to dismiss some answers and allow others, and it’s an opinion in terms of how representative the sample size is with respect to all climate professionals.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The 19th-Century Tumult Over Climate Change – And Why It Matters Today

One European forester remarked in 1901 that few questions had “been debated and addressed from so many sides and so relentlessly” as that of the climatic effect of deforestation. Recalling this crowded, noisy and wide-ranging conflict – a “hurly-burly” over the “climate question,” as the scientist Eduard Brückner called it at the time – reminds us that climate science has not always been the elite, well-mannered pursuit that it is today.

Might this popular, participatory approach have been an advantage? Given the ongoing rise in global greenhouse gas emissions five years after a U.N. report found that humans are “the dominant cause” of global warming, it’s a question worth asking.

The science of climatology is born

As I write about in my book about the history of climate science in the 19th century, the possibility that human actions might wreak havoc with the climate became a widespread concern for ordinary people across Europe, North Africa and the Americas.

Farmers knew intuitively that even a small change in baseline climate greatly increased the risk of extremes, and a single drought could ruin a farming community, even if followed by years of good weather. As one farmer in Central Europe put it in a letter to a local paper, you couldn’t rightly grasp the import of climate change unless you were “dependent on the yield of a few small plots of land,” and until you had “kept a lookout for a hearty rainfall day by day throughout the dry summer for several years, in vain…You must have seen your favorite fruit trees mourning with wilting leaves.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global warming: how much heat, exactly?

Global warming: how much heat, exactly?

It is often difficult to visualize what we are doing to our planet. But a simple calculation shows that the greenhouse effect generated by fossil fuels can be seen as the equivalent of turning on more than a hundred 1 kW electric heaters for each human being on the earth. And we can’t turn them off!


If you look at the way climatologists describe global warming, you’ll see that they use a lot the term “forcing”; that is, the additional effect of human activities to the natural heating from sunlight. Not all forcings increase temperatures, some tend to reduce it; for instance, atmospheric particulate. The overall result is called “imbalance” or “net forcing.” You can think of a forcing in terms of someone trying to budge a person who doesn’t want to move. If the person pushing is stronger, the net force will cause the person being pushed to move. In the case of climate, the warmingforcings are stronger than the cooling forcings, and the net result is a rise in temperature.

As we keep emitting CO2 and other gases, the greenhouse forcing effect increases, as you see in the figure below (Hansen 2011).

In this figure, forcings are measured in terms of W/m2 (watts per square meter), as it is generally done in climate science. Unfortunately, it is a kind of unit that doesn’t convey a feeling of the magnitude of what we are doing to our planet. A few watts per square meter are approximately equivalent to a single Christmas light, and that doesn’t look worrisome. But, if you take into account the effect on the whole planet (510 million km2), then the overall forcing is gigantic: from Hansen’s figure you obtain something like 1500 TW (terawatts, or trillions of watts) for greenhouse gas forcing and around 500 TW for the net forcing. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

‘Biggest El Niño of our generation’ may be tempered by The Blob

‘Biggest El Niño of our generation’ may be tempered by The Blob

Climatologists unsure of outcome of battle of ‘Godzilla’ El Niño vs. the Pacific Blob

For many drought-weary Californians, it has become the ‘Great Wet Hope.’ Bill Patzert, a climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, has given it a less enthusiastic nickname.

“This is the Godzilla El Niño,” Patzert says. “This potentially could be the El Niño of our generation.”

El Niño is the term for a massive patch of warm water that appears in the the Equatorial Pacific every few years, affecting weather patterns across the world. Typically, its appearance means more rain on the Pacific coast and a milder winter west of the Rockies.

“Places that are normally dry get extremely wet, and of course that would include the American west,” Patzert says. “So we’re kayaking down the street in Los Angeles, and they’re playing golf in February in Minneapolis.”

Climatologists suspected El Niño was coming. Now they’re predicting it’ll be even bigger than they thought.

el nino

Sea surface temperature anomalies for May 2014. Warmer colours indicate warm temperatures. (NOAA)

el nino

Sea surface temperature anomalies for May 2015. Warmer colours indicate warm temperatures, and are particularly noticeable around the equator and South America. (NOAA)

“A large El Niño like we saw in 1997 and 1982 has a big impact not only on the U.S. and Canada, but (also) all over the planet,” Patzert says. “The signal that we see in the Pacific from space is actually larger than it was in August of 1997.”

In 1997, a massive El Niño brought floods, mudslides and hurricanes. In California it killed 17 people and caused half a billion dollars of damage.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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