Archive for the ‘Gobal Warming’ Category

‘Climate dice’ now dangerously loaded: leading scientist

From Yahoo! News:

PARIS (AFP) – Evidence for global warming has mounted but public awareness of the threat has shrunk, due to a cold northern winter and finger-pointing at the UN’s climate experts, a top scientist warned Wednesday.

“That gap has increased substantially in the last year,” Hansen told a press conference during a visit to Paris.

“While the science was becoming clearer, the public’s perception became less clear, in part because of the unusually cold winter in both North America and Europe, and in part because of the inappropriate over-emphasis on small minor errors in IPCC documents and because of the so-called Climategate.”

Full article here:


Artic Heating Up in a Snowball Effect

From the New York Times:

Now climate researchers have detected such a feedback loop at work in the Arctic. It is well known that the region is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Yet scientists have yet to agree on why. Some have theorized that warmer air from the south was responsible, while others blame a change in cloud cover.

Read the full article here.

Climate Change and Climate Certainty

From the New York Times:

April 27, 2010, 2:05 pm

On Climate Certainty and Climate Credibility


In 2003, Judith Curry, a climate researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, wrote the following passage in a submission to a federal effort aimed at charting how to reduce uncertainties in the science pointing to a growing human influence on climate:

“Reducing uncertainty” is probably not the appropriate goal; we should instead focus on “increasing credibility.” (Read the rest.)

She weighed in on this issue long before she became embroiled in what has become an ongoing battle with many colleagues over how to get climate inquiry back on track following controversies involving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the unauthorized release of some climate researchers’ email messages and files. Curry alludes to her 2003 essay in  a remarkable exchange with the journalist Keith Kloor on his Collide-a-Scape blog. I urge you to explore his posts there over the last week or so involving Curry, along with the ongoing exchanges in the comment stream and on  other blogs.

If only more researchers had listened to her back in 2003, perhaps there might have been less turbulence in the discourse over global warming in the last year or so. Scientists always want to find ways to reduce the uncertainty in findings, but — in the heated arena where climate research meets climate decisions — they have not always been quick to state clearly when they are certain that some aspects of the climate challenge won’t be easily clarified any time soon. This is the arena of “ known unknowns” so awkwardly laid out, in the context of Iraq policy, by Donald Rumsfeld a few years back.

To my mind, the tendency by many climate campaigners and some scientists to downplay, run away from — or, at the very least, ignore — the real complexity and uncertainty surrounding many points of climate science gave easy ammunition to some of those I call “stasists” in their efforts to undermine public credibility even in the basics.

Any case for action that downplays the durable and (unmanufactured) uncertainty surrounding vital aspects of global warming science is bound to fail in the end.

Unfortunately for policymakers and the public, while the basic science pointing to a rising human influence on climate is clear, many of the most important questions will remain surrounded by deep complexity and uncertainty for a long time to come: the  pace at which seas will rise, the extent of warming from a certain buildup of greenhouse gases (climate sensitivity), the impact on hurricanes, the particular effects in particular places (what global warming means for Addis Ababa or Atlanta). Continue reading

Oil Companies and Climate Change

Why do the climate change skeptics always accuse climate scientists of being biased, either becasue they are liberal socialists who want to change the world or they are being funded by liberal socialists who want to change the world, and yet never mention the role oil companies are playing in influencing the science of climate change?

Dollars and Daggers in California’s Energy Battles


In California, where government-by-ballot-proposition has been raised to a high art, energy companies are pouring millions of dollars into efforts to protect their interests. The one that has gotten the most attention is a push to derail the state’s landmark 2006 law to combat global warming.

Three Texas oil companies have made donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to get the measure on the November ballot.

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used the occasion of a visit to Serious Materials, a Sunnyvale company that specializes in making buildings (like the Empire State Building) more energy-efficient, to lash out at this attempt to squelch one of the signature accomplishments of his term.

And The San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday that the League of California Cities rejected a call to undermine the law.

But the hundreds of thousands spent by the oil companies on the effort are dwarfed by the nearly $35 million spent by one of the state’s major utilities on a more obscure initiative known as Proposition 16, which California voters will consider in a ballot on June 8. The measure has been framed in wonderfully contradictory ways by the two opposing factions.

Filings at the California secretary of state’s office show that the measure’s supporters, led by Pacific Gas and Electric, the source of the $35 million, are arrayed under the banner “Yes on 16 /Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote.”

The opponents’ committee goes by the name No on Prop 16, Stop the P.G.&E. Power Grab.

The framing is important because the issue at stake is of the sort that makes voters roll their eyes and wonder why they should care: who gets to buy electricity for resale to consumers.

Proposition 16 would require the approval of two-thirds of the voters in any given jurisdiction for a power authority to be established in competition with the existing provider.

One way to grasp the stakes is to look at the experience of Marin County, a jurisdiction just north of the Golden Gate Bridge that has long prided itself on environmental consciousness.

In February, the Marin Energy Authority contracted with Royal Dutch Shell to buy renewable power that it could then resell, in competition with P.G.&E. But P.G.&E. threatened to cut off some power supplies to the authority and offered incentives to some of its Marin customers to stick with the electric utility, actions that earned it a rebuke from the state’s Public Utilities Commission.

San Francisco is also exploring the possibility of establishing its own power authority, and there is similar interest in the agricultural areas of the Central Valley, which spend a considerable portion of their electricity bills on pumping or redirecting water for their crops.

Lawsuits have been filed, and the anti-P.G.&E. oratory has escalated; a Facebook group has been formed by the No-on-16 partisans.

The utility, arguing that formation of local power authorities like Marin’s and one planned across the bay in San Francisco could burden taxpayers, has won support from the the California Chamber of Commerce and the state’s Taxpayer Association for passage of Proposition 16.

From The National Research Council: Oceans In Trouble

A new study from the NRC, one of the most prestigous, if not the most prestigous scientific association in the United States:

Study: Oceans’ Chemistry Changing Rapidly

AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON—The chemistry of the oceans is changing faster than it has in hundreds of thousands of years because of the carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere, the National Research Council reported Thursday.

Carbon dioxide and other industrial gases have been a concern for several years because of their impact on the air, raising global temperatures in a process called the greenhouse effect.

One factor easing that warmth has been the amount of CO2 taken up by the oceans, but that has also caused scientific concerns because the chemicals make the water more acidic, which can affect sea life.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the pH of ocean water has declined from 8.2 to 8.1 and a further decline of 0.2 to 0.3 units is expected by the end of this century, according to the Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Science.

The current rate of change “exceeds any known change in ocean chemistry for at least 800,000 years,” the report said.

As most folks will remember from school chemistry, pH is a measure of how alkaline or acidic something is. A pH of 7 is neutral, while higher numbers are more alkaline and lower numbers are more acidic.

As the ocean becomes more acidic scientists have raised concern about dissolving coral reefs and potential effects on fish and other sea life.

For example, studies have shown that increasing seawater acidity affects photosynthesis, nutrient acquisition, growth, reproduction and individual survival of certain sea life.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in March it will consider ways states can address rising acidity levels in the oceans.

The agency’s decision was announced in a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity. The environmental group sued the EPA last year for not requiring Washington state to list its coastal waters as impaired by rising acidity under the Clean Water Act.

The report noted that the federal government has taken initial steps with the development of the National Ocean Acidification Program.

It made the following recommendations:

– Create an ocean acidification observation network including new tools, methods and techniques to improve measurements.

– Research to fill critical information gaps.

– Set up a data management office to ensure data quality, access and archiving to assist managers, policymakers and the general public.

– Develop high-quality research and training of ocean acidification researchers.

– Set up an effective 10-year strategic plan for the program that will identify key goals, set priorities and allow for community input.

Climate vs. Weather

An exellent blog post from the New York Times.  Brief and to the point.

Pitfalls of a Blue Sky Perspective

April 22, 2010, 4:39 pm

<!– — Updated: 4:41 pm –>Pitfalls of a Blue-Skies Perspective


A lone plane flying low over central London on Tuesday. From the ground, there was no indication of the cloud of volcanic ash billowing  through the atmosphere.Getty Images A lone plane flying low over central London on Tuesday. From the ground, there was no indication that a cloud of volcanic ash was billowing through the atmosphere at higher altitudes.
Green Science

Living under a cloud of volcanic ash in Europe has driven home for me the disconnect between the chemical reactions that take place high in the atmosphere – the ones that create “climate” – and the immediate weather conditions that we experience on the ground.

For much of the past week, a dense layer of dark volcanic ash made of sharp particles and toxic chemicals streamed through the atmosphere at altitudes from 15,000 to 50,000 feet, making flying impossible. But, I swear, each day here in England and then France, where I traveled next, was more glorious than the last. In two countries known for terrible weather, I enjoyed bright sun, crystal clear skies, light breezes. An early spring sunburn was my unforeseen souvenir from a walk south of London on Saturday.

The point is that changes in atmospheric chemistry are often not perceivable on the ground on a day-to-day basis — whether it’s the floating ash or an accumulation of the greenhouse gases that scientists say are causing global warming.

While long-term temperature trends are of course telling and important, the weather on your street is not much of an indicator of whether or not climate change is happening. And that creates a political challenge.

This winter, as London and Beijing and Washington were buried in snow, many people – among them political pundits – concluded that global warming was a scam. How can climate change be a problem if there’s two feet of snow in Philadelphia in March, or earlier-than-ever skiing in the Italian Dolomites in November?

At a climate forum I attended last week in London, David Adam, an environment reporter for The Guardian newspaper, wisely noted that this past winter was in fact very, very cold in some of the cities where the most powerful global opinion-makers and policymakers live, helping to tilt the public’s view toward deeper skepticism.

Yet winter cold or no winter cold, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced that this was the warmest March ever and the fourth-warmest January-to-March period. The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature last month was 1.39 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average of 54.9, the agency said.

Weather is no stand-in for climate.

Brian Sussman-TV Meterologist and Author of Climategate

I’m sitting here now and listening to Crosstalk on VCY America.  Jim Schneider is interviewing a guy by the name of Brian Sussman.  He is a conservative TV weatherman who has written a book claiming that all of global warming science is a hoax.  I’ve been searching on the internet for information about him and there isn’t much other than the science denialists singing him the praises.  I did find an interesting article here.

Before Spencer Christian, a weather forecaster with KGO-TV Channel 7 in San Francisco, steps before the camera during the station’s 6 p.m. newscast, he scrutinizes a computer screen to analyze the latest forecasting data.

But unlike some of his counterparts, Christian doesn’t view his extensive knowledge of storm fronts and high-pressure systems on the week’s weather as credentials to assess the effects of greenhouse gases on the Earth’s climate in the coming decades.

“The climatologists are the experts in this field,” said Christian, who started weather reporting in 1975 and worked for 12 years as the weather anchor on “Good Morning America” in New York City before joining KGO-TV in 1999.

Christian is among the majority of TV weathercasters — but a slim majority, only 54 percent — who believe that the planet is warming, according to a new survey.

The article does mention Sussman later on and quotes other meteorologists and that are rather frustrated with him.  Is Spencer Christian correct?  Do meteorologists not have the expertise to analyze climate change science?  One thing I can tell you.  As I am listening to him on the radio, he so far hasn’t said anything that I haven’t heard before so I’m not sure what is so great about his new book.