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  • lonesome_polecatt lonesome_polecatt Jul 19, 2013 11:38 AM Flag

    Harvard is hardly a bastion of RW thinking so here is Harvard's take on global warming. An article from REAL scientists.

    HARVARD GAZETTE ARCHIVES

    Global warming is not so hot:

    1003 was worse, researchers find

    By William J. Cromie
    Gazette Staff

    The heat and droughts of 2001 and 2002, and the unending winter of 2002-2003 in the Northeast have people wondering what on Earth is happening to the weather. Is there anything natural about such variability?

    To answer that question, researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) - right in the heart of New England's bad weather - took a look at how things have changed in the past 1,000 years. They looked at studies of changes in glaciers, corals, stalagmites, and fossils. They checked investigations of cores drilled out of ice caps and sediments lying on the bottom of lakes, rivers, and seas. They examined research on pollen, tree rings, tree lines, and junk left over from old cultures and colonies. Their conclusion: We are not living either in the warmest years of the past millennium nor in a time with the most extreme weather.

    Sallie Baliunas
    Sallie Baliunas argues that an increasing brightness of the sun plays a large role in the present global warm-up. (Staff photo by Jon Chase)

    This review of changes in nature and culture during the past 1,000 years was published in the April 11 issue of the Journal of Energy and Environment. It puts subjective observations of climate change on a much firmer objective foundation. For example, tree-ring data show that temperatures were warmer than now in many far northern regions from 950 to 1100 A.D.

    From 800 to 1300 A.D., the Medieval Warm Period, many parts of the world were warmer than they have been in recent decades. But temperatures now (including last winter) are generally much milder than they were from 1300 to 1900, the Little Ice Age.

    To come to this coclusion, CfA researchers, along with colleagues from the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change in Tempe, Ariz., and the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware, reviewed more than 200 studies of climate done over the past 10 years. "Many research advances in reconstructing ancient climate have occurred over the past two decades, so we felt it was time to pull together a large sample of them and look for patterns of variability and change," says Willie Soon of CfA. "Clear patterns did emerge showing that regions worldwide experienced higher temperatures from 800 to 1300 and lower temperatures from 1300 to 1900 than we have felt during our lifetimes."

    Nature still rules

    Does this mean that the present global warming is more a product of natural changes than of carbon dioxide emissions and other industrial regurgitations? Soon won't go that far. But he does say "there's increasingly strong evidence that previous research conclusions, including those of the United Nations and the United States government concerning 20th century warming, may have been biased by underestimation of natural climate variations. The bottom line is that if these variations are indeed proven true, then, yes, natural climate fluctuations could be a dominant factor in the recent warming. [The year 1998 was the warmest year on record, followed by 2002, then 2001.] In other words, natural factors could be more important than previously assumed."

    Willie Soon
    Willie Soon describes changes in Earth's climate during the past 1,000 years, shifts that caused The Little Ice Age recently and a global warming in medieval times. (Staff photo by Jon Chase)

    Soon and colleagues believe their findings will contribute to computer models that simulate natural and human influences on climate more accurately. That should lead to better climate forecasts, including those on local and regional levels. Such forecasts, in turn, could help make it easier to reach international agreements on treaties to control emissions of industrial gases that contribute to global warming. One reason the administration of President Bush gives for not signing the international 1997 Kyoto Protocol to limit carbon dioxide emissions is that sufficient scientific information about the cause of global warming is lacking.

    Vikings enjoy Greenland beaches

    Plenty of anecdotal evidence exists for warmer times and decades of more frigid and extreme weather than we are now experiencing.

    Extended television and government forecasts didn't exist during the 16th to 18th centuries, but many Flemish and Dutch artists, like Pieter Brueghel and Hendrick Avercamp, depicted severe Little Ice Age winters in their paintings.

    CfA's Sallie Baliunas, a co-author of the study, refers to the medieval Viking sagas as examples of unusual warming around 1003 A.D. "The Vikings established colonies in Greenland at the beginning of the second millennium, but they died out several hundred years later when the climate turned colder," she notes. "And good evidence exists that vineyards flourished in Scotland and England during the medieval warmth."

    The evidence also shows that the warmer and colder times occurred not just in Europe, but in places all over the world. Entered into computer simulations that can send us backward and forward hundreds of years in a matter of days, the new information should make forecasts and hindcasts of climate much more accurate.

    Sentiment: Buy

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    • lonesome -

      The conclusion: 'We are not living either in the warmest years of the past millennium nor in a time with the most extreme weather' does not answer the question of whether 'global warming' presently is or is not, or, if 'global warming' is, whether which direction it is trending.

      Cheers,

    • Hi Bell,

      What is a bastion?.....Really......

      I have two friends from the Pyrenees mountain range that are traveling Basque of no known language descent.....Would they be considered bastions?

      Just curious my French amigo...

      J.....

      Sentiment: Strong Buy

    • List of scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming

      This is a list of notable scientists who have made statements that conflict with the mainstream scientific understanding of global warming as summarized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and endorsed by other scientific bodies.

      Establishing the mainstream scientific assessment, climate scientists agree that the global average surface temperature has risen over the last century. The scientific consensus and scientific opinion on climate change were summarized in the 2001 Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The main conclusions on global warming were as follows:

      1. The global average surface temperature has risen 0.6 ± 0.2 °C since the late 19th century, and 0.17 °C per decade in the last 30 years.[3]
      2. "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities", in particular emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.[4]
      3. If greenhouse gas emissions continue the warming will also continue, with temperatures projected to increase by 1.4 °C to 5.8 °C between 1990 and 2100.[A] Accompanying this temperature increase will be increases in some types of extreme weather and a projected sea level rise.[5] The balance of impacts of global warming become significantly negative at larger values of warming.[6]

      These findings are recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized nations.[7]

      Go to Wikipedia to get the list... Cromie is in the footnotes. At least one other professor from Harvard is listed.

    • There are some people so self-destructive, yet oblivious, that they'd live in their own #$%$ if no one ever told them it wasn't nice.

    • ‘THE INQUISITION OF CLIMATE SCIENCE’ – A BOOK REVIEW

      July 13, 2013 Michael Ricciardi

      The Inquisition of Climate Science by James Lawrence Powell is an essential literary resource FOR UNDERSTANDING HOW MODERN CLIMATE SCIENCE IS CONDUCTED, AND EQUALLY, FOR UNDERSTANDING HOW CLIMATE CHANGE DENIALISM HAS EVOLVED AND CONTINUES TO UNDERMINE THE PUBLIC INTEREST, TO ITS GREAT PERIL.

      Powell’s title smartly preempts the spurious notion of a “fair and balanced” debate by positioning its material in a modern day version of Galileo’s “heretical” conflict with the Roman Church and its brutal enforcement program: The Holy Inquisition. It is doubly smart because, quite recently (in a debate just prior to the presidential election), a Republican candidate — in a remarkably ironic and non-self-aware moment — alluded to Galileo’s trials with the Church to paint his views (on climate matters and others) as being similar to Galileo’s situation (Galileo would ultimately be vindicated by history and by stronger scientific evidence).

      I recall that a few political pundits commented on this surprising statement after the 2012 debate, noting that Galileo was presenting a new scientific theory/model which directly opposed a rigid, theologically entrenched, human-centric, model of the universe. One could write an entire thesis on this ironic utterance, but suffice to say, that Powell, thankfully, restores this historical allusion to Galileo to its proper scientific context.

      To further preempt expected criticisms (presumably based upon the author’s qualifications to write on climate science), Powell offers his bona fides up front: he is not a climatologist or climate researcher (which he sees as an advantage in that he has “no axe to grind, no position to defend” in regards to vindicating climate science). However, Powell does hold a Ph.D. in geochemistry from MIT (a scientific discipline that has great utility for climate research in respects to the multiple chemical interactions between land, water, and, atmosphere) and was appointed to the National Science Board (a presidential advisory board) by presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, where he served for twelve years.

      A BRIEF HISTORY OF CLIMATE CHANGE

      Powell breezily brings us up to date through some two centuries of climate science — from the early 19th Century experiments by Joseph Fourier and John Tyndall to later work by Svante Arrhenius (who would later win the Nobel prize for chemistry and who was the first to calculate the ‘climate sensitivity’ metric that was remarkably close to modern estimates) and the early-mid 20th Century work by Guy Stewart Callendar (who first calculate the rise in annual global temperature and attributed this mainly to the 150,000 million tons of coal burned since the Industrial revolution). Callendar also first calculated the CO2 parts per million (ppm) by volume for the year 1900 at 290 ppm (again, remarkably close to modern estimates).

      Powell is not afraid to note the great irony of this early climate science, most notable of which is that all of these early climate science pioneers saw a warming planet as an advantageous happening (Arrhenius, being Norwegian, perhaps had some personal rationale at work). They saw warming as beneficial to plant growth, in general (the idea that heat-trapping gases like CO2 would alter precipitation cycles and oceanic chemistry would have to wait for later, deeper, research). Trains of this (somewhat naive) thought can still be found in some modern day (fringe) climate thinking.

      This historical overview then moves quickly (but adequately) through the mid to late 20th work by respected scientists Libby, Revelle, and Keeling (who gave us the first computer model/simulation of the Earth’s climate). This work became the foundation for modern climate science. And it is here that the earlier climate change naiveté gives way to more cautionary and foreboding predictions.

      And with that change in viewpoint, the author brings us to climate change (global warming) skepticism and “denialism”, which also has a history although one much less extensive and one of a more recent pedigree..

      BEFORE DISSECTING THE RELATIVELY RECENT CAST OF CLIMATE CHANGE SKEPTICS, POWELL IS QUICK TO POINT OUT THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN “HONEST SKEPTICISM” AND “DENIALISM”. Indeed, the book uses quotes that bestow honor and duty upon the very idea of skepticism, such as:

      “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” (Sir Francis Bacon)

      “[for the] improver of natural knowledge skepticism is the highest of duties, blind faith the one unpardonable sin.” (T.H. Huxley)

      These two quotes in particular (and there are many others) are well chosen; the first because it indicates a process of scientific discovery (that properly begins with doubt, but ends with “certainty’); the second because it highlights the “sin” of blind faith (Huxley was a revered scientific philosopher of his day), which, In the context of this current climate “debate”, can only refer to the continued holding to a belief unsupported by empirical findings.

      CLIMATE CHANGE SKEPTICISM AND DENIALISM: THE CAST OF CHARACTERS.

      Over the course of several chapters, Powell introduces us to the many names, organizations and artifacts behind the climate denialist movement; here are just a few notables:

      Richard Lindzen (a Ph.D and professor of meteorology at MIT, perhaps the one denialist with the highest, relevant, academic/scientific credentials, but whose research was/is not focused on global warming causes and impacts),

      Terry Dunleavy (a non-scientist, New Zealand wine grower, and executive vice chairman of the International Climate Science Coalition [ICSC], currently the most prominent denialist organization),

      John McLean (another member of the ICSC and major critic of the IPCC reports); his credentials are uncertain.

      Ross McKitrick (a Ph.D. and economics professor at the U. of Ontario, coordinator of the ‘Independent Summary for Policy Makers [ISPM] which is a critique/rebuttal of the IPCC’s fourth assessment report, and MAIN CRITIC OF THE SO-CALLED “HOCKEY STICK” GRAPH OF MILLENNIUM-LONG, GLOBAL TEMPERATURE CHANGES PUBLISHED BY MANN, BRADLEY, AND HUGHES),

      Dr. Arthur Robinson (a distinguished chemist, head of the Oregon institute of Science and Medicine [OISM], chief circulator of the OISM petition that boast over 30,000 signatures agreeing with the view that there is no scientific consensus on human-caused global warming/climate change),

      John Tierney (the noted New York Times columnist and director of his self-styled Tierney Lab, which routinely offers Libertarian to Conservative views on numerous subjects, including denial of scientific consensus on climate change)

      Bjorn Lomborg (political scientists and statistician, author of the popular 2001 climate change denialist book The Skeptical Environmentalist, which served as a rebuttal to the third IPCC assessment and whose main theorem is that global warming is “no catastrophe”),

      Viscount (Christopher) Monckton of Brenchley (non-scientist, former adviser to former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, erudite scholar of classics and frequent guest at denialist conferences; in 2007, he challenged Al Gore to a “duel” on climate change science {Gore chose not to accept the invitation to debate}; Monckton once described climate scientists as “war criminals”),

      and, Michael Crichton (the famed novelist, author of the oft-cited denialist novel State of Fear, and who before his death from lung cancer equated global warming predictions with #$%$ eugenics and the Soviet-era, pseudo-scientific, “evolution” theory Lysenkoism).

      AND THERE ARE, OF COURSE, MANY OTHER PLAYERS AND ORGANIZATIONS IN THE DENIALIST GAME; SOME WE WOULD RECOGNIZE (SUCH AS THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE and THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE CLIMATOLOGISTS) and others perhaps more obscure to us (such as the George C. Marshall Institute). These are discussed in greater detail in the chapter Toxic Tanks.

      Dismantling Anthropogenic Climate Change Denialism

      In reading Powell’s book, one quickly and increasingly grows aware of how extensive (and well-financed) is the campaign to discredit mainstream climate science and the researchers who engage in it (even Richard Lindzen, an MIT professor, for example, criticizes his own colleagues, claiming that their pro-anthropogenic climate change positions are motivated by desires for recognition, research money, and academic advancement).

      But Powell is never daunted, though the forces marshaled against legitimate climate science seem quite daunting. The author SYSTEMATICALLY AND SKILLFULLY ADDRESSES AND DISMANTLES THE DENIALISTS’ CLAIMS, PIECE BY PIECE.

      DRAWING UPON RESEARCH AND SCIENTIFIC OPINION FROM MEMBERS OF THE AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION, THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY, THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE (PUBLISHERS OF THE LEADING PEER-REVIEW JOURNAL SCIENCE), NOAA, NASA (FORMER CHIEF CLIMATE SCIENTIST JAMES HANSEN’S RESEARCH IS OFTEN REFERENCED), USGS, THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, THE EUROPEAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, AND MANY, MANY OTHERS (NOTING AT ONE POINT THE 33 SCIENTIFIC ACADEMIES AND OVER 70 INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE ORGANIZATIONS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD THAT ACCEPT HUMAN-INDUCED CLIMATE CHANGE AS A REALITY), POWELL PROGRESSIVELY TEARS DOWN THE WALL OF PROPAGANDA, MISINFORMATION, AND OUTRIGHT LIES (SUCH AS INVENTED “RESEARCH” PROVING THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS FALSE) PROMULGATED BY THE DENIALIST MOVEMENT.

      One of the prominent, recurring themes or points in the book is that of scientific consensus — both in general, and in regards to climate science specifically. POWELL KEENLY OBSERVES A (SEEMINGLY CONTRADICTORY) TWO-PRONGED ATTACK STRATEGY USED BY DENIALISTS: DENYING SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS, ON THE ONE HAND, AND, ON THE OTHER, SOMETIMES ADMITTING TO A CONSENSUS BUT THEN DENOUNCING THIS CONSENSUS AS “FALSE AND MALICIOUS.”

      IT BECOMES CLEAR THROUGH READING THAT WHILE CLIMATE DENIALISM MAY BE WELL-FUNDED, IT IS RATHER LESS THAN WELL-ORGANIZED — at least in terms of a consistent mode/method of attack. ONE WONDERS HOW LONG IT WILL BE BEFORE THE PUBLIC — NEARLY FIFTY PERCENT OF WHICH BELIEVE THERE IS SCIENTIFIC UNCERTAINTY AND DEBATE ABOUT THE CAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING — WILL CATCH ON TO THIS DISINGENUOUS, SAY-ANYTHING-AND-SEE-IF-IT-STICKS STRATEGY.

      In keeping with this main theme of consensus, the book also maintains A SECONDARY, CRITICAL THEME: THAT OF THE ABSURDITY (AND AUDACITY) OF ASSERTING THAT THOUSANDS OF CLIMATE SCIENTISTS THE WORLD OVER HAVE SOMEHOW COLLUDED IN A VAST CONSPIRACY OF LIES — ALL IN AN ATTEMPT TO SECURE MORE RESEARCH FUNDING (OR WORSE, AS PART OF SOME NEFARIOUS AGENDA TO DESTROY THE “WESTERN WAY”).

      THE RED-BAITING OF ENVIRONMENTALISTS IN THE EARLY 1970′S (WHERE YOUR WERE “PINKO” IF YOU ADVOCATED INDUSTRY CLEANING UP ANY OF ITS TOXIC MESS), IS STILL VERY MUCH ALIVE AND KICKING IN THE 21ST CENTURY.

      At times, Powell must resort to short history lessons in order to restore a misappropriated term or theory to its proper scientific context, as with the aforementioned Galileo example. This he does, deftly and seamlessly, with the philosophy of Lysenkoism (see the accusation by Crichton, above). Lysenko, like many modern denialists, was a non-scientist, but had powerful connections in the early Soviet government and successfully demonized the bulk of his scientist comrades who held to the “lies” of genetic inheritance and evolution by natural selection. Lysenko held to a form of Lamarkian evolution in which certain acquired (plant) traits could be inherited. The early embrace of this erroneous, anti-scientific theory lead to the near total ruin of the Soviet agricultural system. It is a cautionary, and valuable, history lesson.

      The book has many such history lessons. Throughout, one can not help but feel that one is reading (and participating in) a great historical narrative (or battle)  whose import and impact will be felt far beyond our lifetimes.

      Regarding the consistent criticism by denialists of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, Powell establishes a clear chronology in the evolution of the four IPCC reports (spanning the years from 1990 to 2007), showing how each successive report built on the previous one, moving from somewhat tentative assertions e.g., (evidence “suggests” a possible human cause) to progressively more positive assertions (evidence for a human influence on climate change is strong and unequivocal). This he does to demonstrate that consensus develops (typically) incrementally, and to counter the surprisingly absurd view by Tierney (and Crichton) that the “mere existence of scientific consensus is prima facie evidence of its falsity.”

      Powell further notes that one criticism of the 2007 IPCC climate assessment (made by Dunleavy) was that the summary of that report (i.e., the Summary for Policy Makers, not to be confused with the denialist version: the ISPM) had “only 51 authors”. Powell rips this one wide apart; noting how relatively rare it is to find a scientific paper with so many authors. Further, that such a large number of summary authors not only reflects well the broader consensus, but typically means that any such summary assessment will be fairly conservative in it assertions — reflecting this broader input from many minds.

      Powell’s criticisms of these denialists are seldom, pointedly, ad hominem; he sticks to attacking their anti-science claims and exposing their less than honest tactics and (often) non-existent research. but, of course, one must criticize credentials if those credentials are not relevant (to the science) or entirely lacking.
      Summing Up

      My only negative criticisms of the book are relatively minor, involving very specific points. ………

      The Inquisition of Climate Science is a rich source of crucially important climate science facts and research and an invaluable critique of the (sadly) numerous climate change denialist fallacies that have contributed to the mass misleading of nearly half the US public (many of which, were unknown to this writer, who is generally well-informed on such matters). The book is remarkable in its breadth of coverage considering it is but  230+ pages in length (and the last 30 pages of which are comprised of notes, references, and index).

      Overall, I strongly recommend The Inquisition of Climate Science to anyone and everyone desiring a clear and comprehensive understanding of where climate science is now and how the science got here.

      But I would go further: the book should be mandatory reading in every high school science class in the country. For, it is that generation — and its off-spring — which will live to see most of the myriad impacts of human-caused climate change and the consequences of so many wasted years of inaction due largely to the duping power of oil industry-backed, denialist propaganda and misinformation.

      I will end here where the book begins — with this prescient quote from Carl Sagan:

      “We have designed a civilization based upon science and technology and at the same time have arranged things so that almost no one understand anything at all about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster. We may for a while get away with the mix of ignorance and power but sooner or later it is bound to blow up in our face.”

      Sentiment: Strong Buy

    • ICE-FREE ARCTIC PINPOINTED 40 YEARS AHEAD

      Jul 22, 2013 | Tim Radford, Climate News Network

      LONDON—People have been warning about an ice-free Arctic ocean for years. But Jiping Liu, an atmospheric scientist at the State University of New York in Albany in the US and colleagues have gone one better.

      THEY PREDICT THAT THE ARCTIC OCEAN WILL BE EFFECTIVELY FREE OF ICE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER BETWEEN 2054 AND 2058.

      Once again, the prediction depends on climate models, and inevitably on the decisions governments take to control greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade. But the fact that a team of scientists can spread their bets over a span of four specific years is an indicator of how fast and how inexorable the Arctic melting has become.

      The polar icecap has been dwindling in area and losing its thickness for decades: the observations by satellite have been confirmed by submarine measurements and icebreaker journeys. An icecap that was, historically, impassable even in summer has for years given way each autumn to ever greater stretches of open water.

      From 1979 to 2001, the ice cap dwindled by more than 6% per decade, and in 2001 began melting twice as fast, The ice melt broke all previous records in 2007, and in 2012 did it again, reaching an all-time low.

      WIDESPREAD AND SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS

      On September 16 last year it stood at almost 49% below the long term average and the ice left floating on the sea had dwindled to an area of 3.4 million square kilometres.

      In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Liu and colleagues define “ice-free” as a mere million square kilometres, and propose that if greenhouse gas emissions stay at a high level, then in some September between 2054 and 2058, that’s all that will be left in the Arctic Ocean: a million square kilometres of floe and slush.

      This would, say the researchers, have “significant impacts” on Arctic ecosystems and maritime activities, biogeochemical feedbacks and extreme weather and climate in the high and mid-latitudes.

      In 2012, the extent of ice in September had almost halved: what interested the researchers was when it would halve again, falling to 1.7 million square kms. Precisely when this happened depended on which climate model they used, but it always happened at some point: in the 2060s, under one set of conjectured circumstances, and in the 2040s under others.

      And, they point out, with only 1.7million sq kms in their models the Arctic Ocean becomes a viable “open ocean” shipping route, with thick and multi-year ice found only in a tiny portion of the northern Canadian archipelago.

      Sentiment: Strong Buy

    • IF YOU’RE YOUNGER THAN 28, YOU’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED A MONTH OF BELOW AVERAGE GLOBAL TEMPERATURE

      By Lily Kuo

      If you were born after February 1985, you’ve never lived through a month of below average global temperatures. According to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, IN JUNE THE EARTH’S SURFACE WAS WARMER THAN THE 20TH CENTURY AVERAGE FOR THE MONTH FOR THE 340TH TIME IN A ROW. IT WAS THE FIFTH HOTTEST JUNE SINCE 1918, NOAA SAID. (AN ANALYSIS FROM NASA SAYS THE MONTH WAS THE SECOND HOTTEST SINCE 1880.)

      An entire generation has grown up during this streak of hot weather, which Philip Bump, who now writes for the Atlantic Wire, pointed out in the online environmental magazine Grist last year. The last time the global average of land and ocean temperatures was below long-term levels was in February 1985. The United Nations reported earlier in July that MORE COUNTRIES HAVE SEEN RECORD-BREAKING TEMPERATURES IN THE FIRST DECADE OF THIS CENTURY THAN EVER BEFORE. THIS MONTH, NORTHERN CANADA, NORTHWESTERN RUSSIA, SOUTHERN JAPAN, THE PHILIPPINES, SOUTHWESTERN CHINA, AND CENTRAL-SOUTHERN AFRICA ALL SAW UNPRECEDENTED TEMPERATURES FOR THE MONTH, ACCORDING TO NOAA.

      Still, it wasn’t hot everywhere. Spain saw its coolest June sine 1997. Temperatures in the UK were also lower, about 0.2 degrees celsius (0.4 degrees fahrenheit) below than the long-term average for the month. (A slew of retailers, including spanish clothing company Inditex, said rainy and cool summer weather in Europe was to blame for slower sales for the quarter.)

      We’ve already seen some of the effects of a warmer world. Since the early 20th century, the average world temperature has risen by about 0.8 degrees celsius, or 1.4 degrees fahrenheit. Researchers have recorded higher rates of hospitalization and crime. Thanks to melting ice caps in the Arctic, shipping has quadrupled just in the the last year. And last year, warmer temperatures and higher sea levels arguably turned a hurricane that hit the eastern US into a “frankenstorm.”

      The United Nations has warned that the average temperature could increase by 4 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, which some researchers say will wreak further havoc, causing extreme temperatures, lower crop yields, damage to ocean ecosystems and human health risks.

      Sentiment: Strong Buy

    • SCIENTISTS AGREE (AGAIN): CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING

      Tom Zeller Jr.,  The Huffington Post

      Public opinion on the topic of climate change is notoriously fickle, changing -- quite literally sometimes -- with the weather. The latest bit of evidence on this: Yale's April 2013 climate change survey, which found, among other things, that Americans' conviction that global warming is happening had dropped by seven points, to 63 percent, over the preceding six months. The decline, the authors surmised, was most likely due to "the cold winter of 2012-13 and an unusually cold March just before the survey was conducted."

      A far smaller percentage -- 49 percent -- understood that human activities are contributing to the problem.

      People and surveys being what they are, these numbers tend to jump around a bit from year to year. At the same time, 49 percent is nearly half the country, so it wouldn't be excessively cheerful (would it?) to note that half of the American public is more or less in harmony with basic science -- at least as it relates to climate change and the role carbon dioxide emissions play in exacerbating things. Given that roughly the same number of Americans flatly reject evolution, the climate numbers represent a comparative bounty of enlightenment.

      That's not something you hear very often when it comes to surveys of Americans. Delving deeper into the textbooks, for instance, another recent study showed that less than half of population was clear on whether atoms are smaller than electrons, or whether lasers work by focusing sound waves. In this light (ahem), the larger consensus on global warming is notable. (Answers on atoms and lasers appear at the end of this column.)

      IT'S ELEMENTARY: CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL.

      But a far more troubling metric from Yale's latest poll suggests that only 42 percent of Americans believe that most scientists think global warming is happening. A full 33 percent of respondents are convinced that there remains "widespread disagreement" among scientists on this question. This is a problem -- both because it is so at odds with reality, and because it likely helps prevent more Americans from recognizing and accepting some pretty straightforward scientific realities.

      It is this reason that PROMPTED A TEAM OF RESEARCHERS TO PAINSTAKINGLY COMB THROUGH THE ABSTRACTS OF MORE THAN 12,000 SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES PUBLISHED BETWEEN 1991 AND 2011 TO DETERMINE JUST HOW MUCH SCIENTIFIC AGREEMENT EXISTS ON THE SUBJECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE, AND HUMANITY'S ROLE IN DRIVING IT. The team was led by John Cook, a Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and the founder of the climate change education web site SkepticalSciencedotcom.

      THE RESULTS, PUBLISHED THURSDAY IN THE JOURNAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, WERE CLEAR: OF THE MORE THAN 4,000 ABSTRACTS THAT HAD ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT HUMAN-DRIVEN CLIMATE CHANGE, 97 PERCENT ENDORSED THE NOTION. A LITTLE LESS THAN 3 PERCENT EITHER REJECTED THE IDEA OR REMAINED UNDECIDED.

      "THERE IS A GAPING CHASM BETWEEN THE ACTUAL CONSENSUS AND THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION," Cook said in a statement accompanying the study's release. "It's staggering given the evidence for consensus that less than half of the general public think scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. This is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they're more likely to support policies that take action on it."
      In a follow-up email exchange, Cook said that the evidence for consensus on the topic among individual scientists was even stronger, given that more researchers were listed as co-authors on papers endorsing the idea of human-driven climate change -- technically called "anthropogenic global warming," or AGW for short -- than on papers that rejected it.

      "CONSEQUENTLY," COOK SAID, "AMONG THE 10,000 SCIENTISTS WHO HAD EXPRESSED A POSITION ON AGW IN THE PEER-REVIEWED LITERATURE, 98.4 PERCENT ENDORSED THE CONSENSUS."

      The study, which is also outlined in detail (and with colorful slides) at THE CONSENSUS PROJECT, IS THE LATEST IN A LONG LINE OF META-ANALYSES SEEKING TO DEBUNK THE RELENTLESS AND APPARENTLY POTENT TALKING POINTS OF NAYSAYERS WHO ARGUE THAT SCIENTISTS CONTINUE TO DISAGREE ON THE MATTER. LAST YEAR, THE FREE-MARKET AND RIGHT-LEANING HEARTLAND INSTITUTE FINANCED A SERIES OF BILLBOARDS IN CHICAGO COMPARING THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THE BASIC SCIENCE ON GLOBAL WARMING TO UNSAVORY CHARACTERS LIKE CONVICTED MURDERER CHARLES MANSON, CUBAN DICTATOR FIDEL CASTRO AND THE UNABOMBER, TED KACZYNSKI.
      "THE POINT IS THAT BELIEVING IN GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT 'MAINSTREAM,' SMART, OR SOPHISTICATED," THE ORGANIZATION WROTE AT THE TIME. "IN FACT, IT IS JUST THE OPPOSITE OF THOSE THINGS."

      STUDIES LIKE COOK'S, WHICH REVISITS A WELL KNOWN AND SIMILARLY CONDUCTED 2004 REVIEW OF THE SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE BY NAOMI ORESKES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO, PROVIDE CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT MESSAGES LIKE HEARTLAND'S -- BESIDES BEING RATHER BOORISH AND ODD -- ARE BUNKUM. SCIENTISTS ARE NO MORE DIVIDED ON THE BASIC MECHANICS OF THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT THAN THEY ARE ON QUESTIONS OF EVOLUTION (SORRY FOLKS) OR OTHER ELEMENTARY CONCEPTS.

      SURE, THERE'S AMPLE ROOM FOR DEBATE ON THE PARTICULARS: How hot will the planet get? How quickly? How will our various ecosystems, from forests and oceans to vast tracts of tundra and polar ice, respond to rising temperatures, and how will these responses feed, in turn, into the incredibly dynamic and interactive machinery of our climate? And then based on all this, what the hell should we do about it? These are all questions without precise answers, and they are providing rich and important territory for scientific investigation as well as social, political and economic soul searching.

      WHAT'S NOT A MATTER OF DEBATE, HOWEVER, is that HUMAN BEINGS ARE SATURATING THE ATMOSPHERE WITH VOLUMES OF CARBON DIOXIDE -- MOSTLY ARISING FROM THE BURNING OF FOSSIL FUELS -- AT AN UNPRECEDENTED RATE. THAT'S TRAPPING HEAT AND DRIVING UP AVERAGE SURFACE TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE PLANET, WHICH IN TURN IS SPURRING REGIONAL CHANGES THAT WE ARE ONLY NOW BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND. ON THESE POINTS, VIRTUALLY ALL CLIMATE SCIENTISTS AGREE.

      A FAMOUS 2009 STUDY PUBLISHED IN THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES CAME AT THE QUESTION OF SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS FROM AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ANGLE, BUT ARRIVED AT NEARLY IDENTICAL RESULTS. THAT STUDY REVIEWED PUBLIC STATEMENTS MADE BY SCIENTISTS OF ANY KIND ABOUT ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING, AND THEN IDENTIFIED WHICH OF THOSE SCIENTISTS HAD PUBLISHED PEER-REVIEWED CLIMATE RESEARCH -- THIS AS A WAY OF WEEDING OUT THOSE WHO PUBLICLY REJECT HUMAN-DRIVEN GLOBAL WARMING BUT HAVE NO FORMAL EXPERTISE OR TRAINING IN CLIMATE SCIENCE, LIKE THESE FOLKS.

      AMONG THE NEARLY 1,000 MOST ACTIVELY PUBLISHED CLIMATE SCIENTISTS, THAT ANALYSIS FOUND THAT BETWEEN 97 AND 98 PERCENT SUPPORTED THE BASIC TENETS OF HUMAN-DRIVEN CLIMATE CHANGE -- A VERY SIMILAR RESULT TO THE ONE PUBLISHED THURSDAY BY COOK AND HIS COLLEAGUES.

      "We want our scientists to answer questions for us, and there are lots of exciting questions in climate science," said one of Cook's co-authors, Mark Richardson of Britain's University of Reading, in a statement accompanying the release of the study. "WE FOUND OVER 4,000 STUDIES WRITTEN BY 10,000 SCIENTISTS THAT DISCUSSED WHETHER RECENT WARMING IS MOSTLY MAN-MADE," RICHARDSON SAID, "AND 97 PERCENT ANSWERED 'YES.'

      We can't possibly expect to agree on everything. Should there be subsidies for cleaner forms of energy, or a stiff tax on carbon pollution, or both? Or do we simply wait it out in the hopes that necessity -- in the form of rising seas, more destructive storms, choking droughts and other climate-related freakishness -- will drive invention and save the day? For my money, an ounce of early prevention would seem worth a ton of cure further down the line, but I understand the differing opinions.

      WHAT'S NOT A MATTER OF DEBATE -- AND INDEED, WHAT IS A VIRTUAL CERTAINTY AMONG SCIENTISTS -- IS THAT WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM ON OUR HANDS, AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT SOONER OR LATER.

      SO IF YOU COUNT YOURSELF AMONG THE 49 PERCENT OF AMERICANS WHO BELIEVE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING, AND THAT WE'RE PLAYING A KEY ROLE IN IT, GIVE YOURSELF A GOLD STAR. THE PLANET'S BEST AND BRIGHTEST SCIENTIFIC MINDS AGREE WITH YOU.

      And if you weren't sure whether electrons were smaller than atoms (they are), or that lasers work by focusing light, not sound, well, take heart: Scientists have got your back. See the science and technology survey published last month by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine for more.

      Sentiment: Strong Buy

    • POLAR ICE SHEETS SHRINKING WORLDWIDE, STUDY CONFIRMS

      Rapid loss already contributing to sea level rise.

      Christine Dell'Amore | National Geographic News | November 29, 2012

      THE POLAR ICE SHEETS ARE INDEED SHRINKING—AND FAST, ACCORDING TO A COMPREHENSIVE NEW STUDY ON CLIMATE CHANGE.

      AND THE EFFECTS, ACCORDING TO AN INTERNATIONAL TEAM, ARE EQUALLY CLEAR—SEA LEVELS ARE RISING FASTER THAN PREDICTED, WHICH COULD BRING ABOUT DISASTROUS EFFECTS FOR PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE.

      RISING SEAS WOULD INCREASE THE RISK OF CATASTROPHIC FLOODING LIKE THAT CAUSED BY HURRICANE SANDY LAST MONTH IN NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY.

      ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE MAY INCLUDE WIDESPREAD EROSION, CONTAMINATION OF AQUIFERS AND CROPS, AND HARM TO MARINE LIFE. AND IN THE LONG TERM, RISING SEAS MAY FORCE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO LIVE ALONG THE COAST TO ABANDON THEIR HOMES.

      By reconciling nearly two decades of often conflicting satellite data into one format—in other words, comparing apples to apples—the new study, published in the journal Science, made a more confident estimate of what's called ice sheet mass balance.

      That refers to how much snow is deposited on an ice sheet versus how much is lost, either due to surface melting or ice breaking off glaciers.
      Between 1992—when polar satellite measurements began—and 2011, the results show that all of the polar regions except for East Antarctica are losing ice, said study leader Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds in the U.K.

      IN THAT 20-YEAR SPAN, GREENLAND LOST 152 BILLION TONS A YEAR OF ICE, WEST ANTARCTICA LOST 65 BILLION TONS A YEAR, THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA LOST 20 BILLION TONS A YEAR, AND EAST ANTARCTICA GAINED 14 BILLION TONS A YEAR.

      "When we did the experiments properly using the same time periods and same maps, the riddles did all agree," Shepherd said.

      According to glaciologist Alexander Robinson, "We've had a good idea of what the ice sheets are doing, but it seems this study really brings it all together in one data set that gives a much clearer picture.

      "It's one more piece of supporting evidence that shows there are some dramatic changes happening, and we know that's being driven mainly by a warmer climate and warmer ocean—but there's still a lot we don't know about these regions and how they're changing," said Robinson, of the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain, who was not involved in the research.

      SHRINKING ICE CONSISTENT WITH WARMING

      FOR THE STUDY, SHEPHERD AND HIS TEAM TOOK DATA FROM THREE FIELDS OF SATELLITE RESEARCH: ALTIMETRY, WHICH MEASURES THE SHAPES OF ICE SHEETS AND HOW THEY CHANGE OVER TIME; INTERFEROMETRY, WHICH TRACKS THE SPEED OF ICE SHEETS; AND GRAVIMETRY, WHICH CALCULATES THE WEIGHT OF ICE SHEETS BY MEASURING EARTH'S GRAVITATIONAL FIELD.

      "UP UNTIL NOW THERE HAVE BEEN MORE THAN 30 STUDIES THAT HAVE EACH PRODUCED THEIR OWN ESTIMATES OF CHANGES IN ICE SHEETS," SHEPHERD SAID.

      "WHAT WE DID WAS TRY TO TAKE THE STRENGTHS OF EACH APPROACH AND COMBINED ALL THE SATELLITE TECHNOLOGY TOGETHER TO GET A BETTER ESTIMATE OF HOW ICE SHEETS ARE CHANGING," HE SAID.

      THE RESULTS ARE ALSO CONSISTENT WITH OBSERVATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AT THE POLES, SHEPHERD NOTED.

      For instance, Greenland is shedding five times as much ice as 20 years ago, which fits with a trend of rising air temperatures in the Arctic.

      In West Antarctica, glacier loss is accelerating in an area where the ocean is getting warmer. East Antarctica is experiencing a slight increase in the amount of ice stored there, but that dovetails with higher rates of snowfall expected with climate change.

      However, the growth isn't enough to compensate for the larger losses in the rest of Antarctica, the researchers say.

      "The fact that Antarctica is definitely losing ice is a novel conclusion when we compare it to the last IPCC report in 2007, when scientists WEREN'T SURE IF ANTARCTICA WAS GROWING OR SHRINKING," SHEPHERD SAID.
      "OUR DATA ARE NOW TWO TO THREE TIMES AS ACCURATE AS THOSE THAT WERE AVAILABLE AT THE TIME OF THE LAST IPCC REPORT." The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is the leading international body for the study of climate change.

      RISING SEAS

      KEVIN TRENBERTH, A SENIOR SCIENTIST AT THE BOULDER, COLORADO-BASED NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH, WHO WAS NOT INVOLVED IN THE STUDY, SAID THE NEW STUDY'S "EVIDENCE IS VERY COMPELLING THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS PLAYING A ROLE IN MASSIVE ICE LOSSES ON LAND THAT CONTRIBUTE TO SEA LEVEL RISE."

      Overall, polar ice loss has contributed about 11.1 millimeters to global sea level since 1992—roughly 20 percent of the total global sea level rise during that period, according to the study.

      What's more, A STUDY PUBLISHED EARLIER THIS WEEK IN ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS SHOWS THAT SEA LEVELS ARE RISING AT A RATE OF 3.2 MILLIMETERS A YEAR. THAT'S 60 PERCENT FASTER THAN THE LATEST ESTIMATE OF 2 MILLIMETERS A YEAR PROJECTED BY THE IPCC.

      "THESE RESULTS SHOULD BE A MAJOR CONCERN FOR POLITICIANS AND CLIMATE TALKS IN DOHA, AS THEY SHOW THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL AND HAVING MAJOR CONSEQUENCES THAT WILL ONLY GET BIGGER OVER TIME," Trenberth said by email.

      AS THE WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION PUT IT IN A REPORT RELEASED WEDNESDAY DURING THIS WEEK'S UN CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS IN DOHA, QATAR, "CLIMATE CHANGE IS TAKING PLACE BEFORE OUR EYES."

      IN ADDITION TO DISPLACING MILLIONS, SEA LEVEL RISE MAY ALSO SUPERCHARGE LARGE STORMS. FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN A STORM LIKE HURRICANE SANDY MAKES LANDFALL, HIGHER SEAS MAY BOOST STORM SURGES THAT CAN STRIP AWAY EVERYTHING IN THEIR PATH AND CREATE DAMAGING FLOODS.

      Sandy left at least 157 people dead and caused up to $80 billion in damage in hard-hit New York and New Jersey alone.

      PREDICTING FUTURE CLIMATE CHANGE

      STUDY LEADER SHEPHERD HOPES THAT CLIMATE MODELERS WILL BE ABLE TO USE THIS NEW DATA TO BETTER PREDICT THESE CONSEQUENCES.

      UNTIL NOW, A MODELER HAD TO "CHOOSE AN ESTIMATE OF SEA LEVEL RISE FROM A POT OF 40 ONES WITH SOME UNCERTAINTY," HE SAID.

      SUCH A RECONCILED DATA SET HAS BEEN SORELY NEEDED, AGREED WALT MEIER, OF THE NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER IN BOULDER, COLORADO.
      "YOU HAVE THIS HUGE RANGE OF ESTIMATES OF ICE MASS LOSS FROM ANTARCTICA AND GREENLAND—THEY'RE SUCH A LARGE RANGE THAT YOU GET TO THE POINT OF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO TRUST," SAID MEIER, WHO WAS NOT INVOLVED IN THE NEW STUDY.

      THE NEW STUDY IS IN "A MUCH MORE MANAGEABLE RANGE, AND PROVIDES MUCH BETTER GUIDANCE IN TERMS OF FUTURE PROJECTIONS."

      WHAT'S MORE, THE STUDY MAY EVEN USHER IN A STRONGER MODEL OF ANOTHER KIND—SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION, MEIER NOTED.

      Instead of myriad groups working quasi-independently, the new study's co-authors "came together and sat down—at least figuratively—and came to a consensus for the best estimate that they can," he said.
      "It's a great example," he said, "that in climate science and science in general, you can't do these kind of big things on your own anymore."

      Sentiment: Strong Buy

    • SARAH PALIN: IT SNOWED IN ALASKA IN MAY, SO THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING

      The Huffington Post  |  By Nick Wing
      Posted: 05/20/2013

      Global warming isn't happening, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) argued over the weekend, pointing to the fact that it was snowing in Alaska in May.

      "Global warming my gluteus maximus,"she wrote in a post on her Facebook page, adding a small dose of politics to a picture of her youngest daughter Piper in the snow after graduation. "This is what 'Grad Blast' means in Alaska! We'll move our graduation b-b-q indoors and watch the mini-blizzard from 'round the fireplace."
      Palin has been a reliable denier of climate science in the past.

      She's referred to studies supporting climate change models as "snake oil," and as a vice presidential candidate in 2008, she argued that humans haven't influenced changes in climate.

      IN HER FACEBOOK ARGUMENT, PALIN CONFUSES WEATHER WITH CLIMATE, A MISTAKE FREQUENTLY MADE BY CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS. PALIN HAS MADE THIS BLUNDER IN THE PAST, SUGGESTING THAT LOCAL ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS OVER SHORT PERIODS OF TIME AND SMALL AREAS HAVE BEARING ON LARGER TRENDS AVERAGED OVER LONG TIME PERIODS AND GREATER AREAS. ….

      Sentiment: Strong Buy

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