Why not devote 15 minutes of your time to a good cause? John Cook of Skeptical Science, one of the regulars on The Climate Show, who just happens to be a research fellow in climate communication for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, is crowd-sourcing a survey of the climate literature to try and measure the extent of any consensus that might exist. Here’s the full story, in John’s own words:
I’m seeking your assistance in conducting a crowd-sourced online survey of peer-reviewed climate research. I have compiled a database of around 12,000 papers listed in the ‘Web Of Science’ between 1991 to 2011 matching the topic ‘global warming’ or ‘global climate change’. I am now inviting readers from a diverse range of climate blogs to peruse the abstracts of these climate papers with the purpose of estimating the level of consensus in the literature regarding the proposition that humans are causing global warming. If you’re interested in having your readers participate in this survey, please post the following link to the survey:
The survey involves rating 10 randomly selected abstracts and is expected to take 15 minutes. Participants may sign up to receive the final results of the survey (de-individuated so no individual’s data will be published). No other personal information is required (and email is optional). Participants may elect to discontinue the survey at any point and results are only recorded if the survey is completed. Participant ratings are confidential and all data will be de-individuated in the final results so no individual ratings will be published.
The analysis is being conducted by the University of Queensland in collaboration with contributing authors of the website Skeptical Science. The research project is headed by John , and adheres to the Guidelines of the ethical review process of The University of Queensland.
Give it a try — you’ll be helping with an interesting research project, and it might even be educational…
It’s a first! Glenn, Gareth and John manage to record a show that clocks in at under an hour — but it’s still packed with interesting stuff. We’ve got news about a new Australasian hockey stick — a paleoclimate reconstruction that demonstrates that the last three decades are the warmest in the last 1,000 years, a look under an Antarctic ice shelf, more methane research, and good news from Greenland. John Cook from Skeptical Science looks at the misuse of temperature records from the Sargasso Sea, and we look at electric planes and boats and the latest version of the solar “leaf”. And… Glenn announces his imminent move to the UK, but never fear, the show will go on — just as soon as he sets up his computer in London (which might be a couple of months).
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Scientists from the University of Melbourne used 27 natural climate records, including tree rings, corals and ice cores to create the first large-scale temperature reconstruction for the region over the past 1000 years.
Potential Instability in West Antarctic Ice Sheet from Newly Discovered Basin Size of New Jersey: Science Daily
The Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf fringing the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, may start to melt rapidly in this century and no longer act as a barrier for ice streams draining the Antarctic Ice Sheet: press release.
Sea-level rises ‘may not be as high as worst-case scenarios have predicted’: Guardian.
Store Glacier at Extreme Ice Survey. (Jason Box tells me that he will be posting images of his Greenland fieldwork to a public Picasa page when he gets somewhere with reasonable bandwidth).
Debunking the sceptic [37:15]
John Cook from skepticalscience.com talks about sceptic misuse of a Sargasso Sea temperature record, and Mark Boslough and Lloyd Keigwin debunking the cherries picked in the process…
This interesting new video by George Marshall from Talking Climate discusses how to talk to someone who doesn’t accept the reality of climate change or the need to act, and how best to start persuading them that they might be in error. From the Talking Climateblog post:
George emphasises that argument, conflict, and disrespectful language will make it more difficult to achieve the goals you are aiming for — that is, to encourage somebody who is sceptical about climate change to engage with the problem and possible solutions to it. Finding ‘common ground’ and being able to understand why people are sceptical about climate change in the first place is critical. It isn’t all that much to do with a lack of understanding of ‘the science’, but has a lot to do with the ‘personal journey’ that people go through when forming their beliefs about climate change and whether to engage in sustainable behaviour.
What this experiment illustrates, though, is that “belief” in climate change is very much what matters. Without belief in climate change, scientific evidence simply bounces off. And it is social views and cultural beliefs that predict climate change denial, not people’s level of knowledge about climate science.
There’s lots of interesting stuff in Marshall’s video, in Corner’s article and at the Talking Climate web site. I would like to think that I follow Marshall’s suggested approach in one-on-one conversations — I usually find it pretty easy to find common ground with my more sceptical neighbours, for instance — but even the best of intentions can break down in the face of an intractable relative, whether Uncle Bob or the sister-in-law from over the sea…
As the northern hemisphere starts to warm (rather rapidly in the USA), climate watchers’ thoughts turn to melting ice, and to tell us what happened last year and what might be in store this summer, Glenn and Gareth welcome back Greenland expert Jason Box from the Byrd Polar research Centre at Ohio State University. It’s a wide ranging and fascinating discussion, not to be missed. John Cook looks at the differences between sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, and we have news coverage of the new HadCRUT4 global temperature series, summertime in winter in the USA, worrying news about sea level from the Pliocene, a new report on climate change in the Pacific, and new developments in solar power and biofuels.
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International Falls, Minnesota hit 78°F yesterday, 42° above average, and the 2nd hottest March temperature on record in the Nation’s Icebox. The record of 79°F was set the previous day. Remarkably, the low temperature for International Falls bottomed out at 60°F yesterday, tying the previous record high for the date. I’ve never seen a station with a century-long data record have its low temperature for the date match the previous record high for the date. Yesterday was the seventh consecutive day that International Falls broke or tied a daily record. That is spectacularly hard to do for a station with a century-long weather record. The longest string of consecutive records being broken I’m aware of is nine days in a row, set June 2 – 10, 1911 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with weather records going back to 1905.) International Falls has a good chance of surpassing nine consecutive records this week.
“6th, 7th Consecutive Days of Record-Warmth Likely Updated: Monday, 19 Mar 2012, 12:37 PM CDT Published : Monday, 19 Mar 2012, 7:38 AM CDT Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago – In what meteorologists are calling a ’historic and unprecedented’ streak, the Chicago area should hit the sixth day in a row of record warm temperatures on Monday, even on the last day of winter.”
Even if humankind manages to limit global warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends, future generations will have to deal with sea levels 12 to 22 meters (40 to 70 feet) higher than at present, according to research published in the journal Geology.
…until recently there has been limited reliable detailed scientific information available to [Pacific Island] countries. A major new report recently released by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO is helping to fill this gap. It provides the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date of climate change in the Pacific region.
The 530 page, two-volume scientific report called ’Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research’ shows clear evidence of how the climate in the Pacific has changed and may change in the future.
Arctic average surface air temperature remained high in 2011, ~1.5 C above the 1981-2000 baseline
shift in the Arctic [Ocean] system since 2006
persistent decline in the thickness and extent of the summer sea ice cover, and a warmer, fresher upper ocean.
As a result of increased open water area, biological productivity at the base of the marine food chain has increased
sea ice-dependent marine mammals continue to lose habitat.
increases in the greenness of tundra vegetation
increases in permafrost temperature
more downward sensible heat and positive albedo feedback, reduced sea ice
loss of habit for walrus and polar bears.
less duration of solid platform for seal to ‘pup’
Possibly linked to recent changes in wind patterns, ozone concentrations in the Arctic stratosphere during March 2011 were the lowest ever recorded during the period beginning in 1979.
Higher temperatures in the Arctic and unusually lower temperatures in some low latitude regions are linked to global shifts in atmospheric wind patterns.
Links to ’Weird Weather’
While oceanic and atmospheric patterns such as El NiÃ±o, La NiÃ±a, and the North Atlantic Oscillation have been blamed for the spate of unusual weather recently, there’s now a new culprit in the wind: Arctic amplification…
new Arctic amplification (enhanced Arctic warming relative to that in mid-latitudes) news from: Francis and Vavrus (2012), Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000
a slower eastward progression of Rossby waves in the upper-level flow
1) weakened zonal winds,
2) increased wave amplitude.
may cause more persistent weather patterns in mid-latitude
A persistent and strong negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index was responsible for southerly air flow along the west of Greenland, which caused anomalously warm weather in winter 2010-11 and summer 2011.
Greenland ice sheet mass loss has accelerated in the past decade responding to combined glacier discharge and surface melt water runoff increases.
During summer, absorbed solar energy, modulated at the surface primarily by albedo, is the dominant factor governing surface melt variability in the ablation area.
Using satellite observations of albedo and melt extent with calibrated regional climate model output, we determine the spatial dependence and quantitative impact of the ice sheet albedo feedback in twelve summer periods beginning in 2000.
We find that while the albedo feedback is negative over 70 % of the ice sheet, concentrated in the accumulation area above 1500 m, positive feedback prevailing over the ablation area accounts for more than half of the overall increase in melting.
Over the ablation area, year 2010 and 2011 absorbed solar energy was more than twice as large as in years 2000—2004.
Anomalous anticyclonic circulation, associated with a persistent summer North Atlantic Oscillation extreme since 2007 enabled three amplifying mechanisms to maximize the albedo feedback:
(1) increased warm (south) air advection along the western ice sheet increased surface sensible heating that in turn enhanced snow grain metamorphic rates, further reducing albedo;
(2) increased surface downward solar irradiance, leading to more surface heating and further albedo reduction; and
(3) reduced snowfall rates sustained low albedo, maximizing surface solar heating, progressively lowering albedo over multiple years.
The summer net radiation for the high elevation accumulation area approached positive values during this period.
while negative feedback has been reducing impact of warming, the surface radiation budget has gotten more positive, seems a threshold is about to be crossed! All what is needed more is another decadal trend increase like the last decade, THIS IS LIKELY! It is reasonable to predict that we will observe mid summer (mid July) melting over 100% of the ice sheet surface. Max melt extent was ~65% in 2010.
The area and duration of melting at the surface of the ice sheet in summer 2011 were the third highest since 1979.
The area of marine-terminating glaciers continued to decrease, though at less than half the rate of the previous 10 years.
In situ measurements revealed near record-setting mass losses concentrated at higher elevations on the western slope of the ice sheet, and at an isolated glacier in southeastern Greenland.
Total ice sheet mass loss in 2011 was 70% larger than the 2003-09 average annual loss rate of -250 Gt y-1. According to satellite gravity data obtained since 2002, ice sheet mass loss is accelerating.
’holistic’ glacier study, Store Glacier, 70 N W Greenland…the idea is to observe the system not just make and analyze this or that measurement
in-situ crevasse widening measurements x 2
water filled crevasse depth measurements x 2
continuous GPS x 3
seismometers x 3
time lapse cameras
tidal modulation of flow dynamics
multi-beam swath sonar repeat survey of sub marine glacier front
hydrographic surveying (temperature, salinity, current; vs depth)
heat and water mass budget
acoustic doppler current profiler
aircraft and satellite remote sensing data
Debunking the sceptic [1:01:50]
John Cook from skepticalscience.com talks about Antarctic sea ice:
Bad news on carbon emissions balanced by good news on solar photovoltaics, a Medicane bringing dramatic flash flooding to Italy and France, a scientist who thinks the Arctic could be effectively ice free in late summer in only four years, and the inside story on what the New Zealand election might mean for climate policy down under. John Cook joins us to talk about the new BEST temperature record (great gifs, Dana!), and in the solutions section Gareth and Glenn talk about solar powered airships, China’s plans to ban incandescent light bulbs, and a continent spanning â‚¬400bn solar thermal power plan for North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. All this and more as The Climate Show comes of age with its 21st show…
Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold…
Arctic forecast: Peter Wadhams thinks there’s a good chance the Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2015:
“It is really showing the fall-off in ice volume is so fast that it is going to bring us to zero very quickly. 2015 is a very serious prediction and I think I am pretty much persuaded that that’s when it will happen.”
The National party’s climate change policy, which is being released today in Nelson by the prime minister, has appeared. The important bit is this, from Key’s statement: ’We intend to slow the phasing in of the emissions trading scheme from 2013 to 2015, at which point we will look to align our scheme with that adopted by Australia. Any change to our emissions trading scheme will be fiscally neutral.’ Fiscally neutral, maybe, but not environmentally neutral. The door to a teal deal creaks closer to shutting.
LABOUR TV 3 News: The Labour Party will not allow Solid Energy to mine for liquid fuels in Southland because of the increase to greenhouse gas emissions, it has been announced today.
Full Labour climate policy here.
The BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) of times…
“I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong’ Anthony Watts, March 2011
DENIAL STAGE 1: ’IT’S NOT HAPPENING’
’I consider the paper fatally flawed as it now stands, and thus I recommend it be removed from publication consideration by JGR until such time that it can be reworked….it appears they have circumvented the scientific process in favor of PR.’ Anthony Watts, October 2011
DENIAL STAGE 2: ’IT’S HAPPENING BUT IT’S NOT US’
“All sceptics believe in “global warming” (depending on what time scale you use); what they doubt to various degrees is the “man made” element.” James Delingpole
DENIAL STAGE 3: BACK TO ’IT’S NOT HAPPENING’
Daily Mail showed cooling from BEST data (animated GIF):
Animated GIF of cooling trends throughout warming period:
Our warm congratulations to John Cook, the creator of the widely respected SkepticalScience website, co-author of Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand, and a regular on The Climate Show with Gareth and Glenn. He has won the NSW Government Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge. Here’s the statement put out by the University of Queensland (UQ):
The prize is awarded to an Australian individual, group or organisation for work that motivates action to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Mr Cook is Research Fellow in Climate Change Communication at the GCI and won the Eureka Prize for his work in communicating science to an online audience.
In his new position at UQ, Mr Cook will focus on the effective communication of the science around climate change and, working with the GCI team, enhance the delivery and use of evidence-based information by business, government and the wider community.
A longer statement from the Australian Museum can be found here. I particularly liked this piece from a local newspaper which had interviewed John when he was shortlisted for the award:
The co-author of the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand said his interest in climate change was also motivated by ’social justice’.
’Once I started looking into the science about what climate change means I found the impacts of climate change has the greatest effect on the poorest developing countries, while they’re the countries that contribute to it the least,’ Mr Cook said.
’That’s what made me so interested and passionate about the subject, the social justice element to it.’
Joe Romm at Climate Progress has described the award as richly deserved. We couldn’t agree more.
John Cook’s website Skeptical Science is held in high regard for its patient examination of the arguments put up by climate change deniers and its marshalling of the answers mainstream climate science provides. The result is quietly devastating as the scientific inadequacy of the deniers’ arguments becomes apparent.
Cook has now collaborated with environmental scientist Haydn Washington in a book which puts denial in all its forms under the spotlight of reason and challenges readers to recognise it for the delusion it is. Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand not only focuses on the deniers who claim that the science is wrong but also, as the subtitle indicates, conducts a telling examination of the full range of societal denial. Some denial is active and aggressive, but the persistent refusal of society to adequately face up to the reality of climate change is also a form of denial, one which the book addresses with urgency.
The science is explained first. The chapter which covers the basics of climate science is a model of clarity, remarkably comprehensive within the space available to it. It shows why the increases in global temperature since 1960 cannot be explained without anthropogenic forcings. In describing the carbon cycle it acknowledges that the emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation may seem small in comparison to the other fluxes of carbon, but points out that it is as perturbations of an existing balance that they have such a powerful effect. A clear explanation of feedback mechanisms, Hansen’s ’guts of the climate problem’, is included. Runaway climate change, meaning becoming locked into accelerating temperature that may stabilize some 6-10 degrees higher than today, is the uncomfortable ultimate possibility that feedbacks and climate surprises open up. When it comes to defining dangerous climate change the chapter refers to Hansen’s view that the collapse of the ice sheets would be the critical event, with the subsequent coastal devastation and its economic impact making it very difficult for humanity to do much to reverse the changes. The authors finally note the new factors that are emerging in the science to suggest that the forecasts of the pace and impacts of climate change are understatements.
Moving on to climate change denial arguments, the book perceptively groups them under five headings which incidentally show how little most of them have to do with genuine science. Conspiracy theories form one group; they were exploited to the utmost in the Climategate affair. A second is the quoting of fake experts as opposing the consensus; any scientist will serve, no matter how far removed from climate study. Impossible expectations provide a third grouping; deniers reject models, for example, on the grounds that they do not provide certainty. Misrepresentations and logical fallacies characterise the fourth group of arguments, such as the claim that because climate has changed in the past current climate change must be natural. Finally comes cherry picking, both of data and of published papers; the claim that global warming is good falls in this category and the book provides devastating tables of the positives and negatives of global warming to show that such a claim is made against the enormous weight of evidence to the contrary.
Denial of consensus science has a long history. Climate science denial has antecedents in campaigns against the science relating to tobacco, acid rain and the ozone hole amongst others. The denial campaigns are always heavily funded by industries whose interests are threatened by the science. At this point the authors focus on one of the latest instalments of the climate change denial movement, Ian Plimer’s book Heaven and Earth. They respond to him with the mainstream science he rejects. The blustering confidence he displays makes it unlikely that he and his like will be disturbed by the calm statements of the science offered here, but hopefully those statements will help other readers see that a professorship in geology doesn’t add weight to claims that attract no support from those engaged in the real climate science.
At this point the book turns its attention away from the denial industry to address the more subtle denial which pervades society and prevents our engagement with the urgent task of addressing climate change. These chapters use sociologist Stanley Cohen’s illuminating categorisation of denial into three varieties. Literal denial is the argument of the climate deniers and the denial industry. Interpretive denial is what we see from governments who talk much but do little. Implicatory denial engages most of us — it’s not that we deny the knowledge, but we don’t incorporate it into everyday life or act on it. We evade the issue. There is an elephant in the room but we don’t want to notice it. Not only do we want to ignore it, but we don’t want to talk about ignoring it. Our ’self-interested sloth’ means we avoid the question and thus deny it.
Our avoidance is understandable, the book grants. Climate change is deeply disturbing. It threatens our confidence in the continuity of our self-identity and the constancy of our social and material environments. We fear change, somewhat ironically in this case since that fear ought to mobilise us to prevent a highly threatening change. We are fixated on growth economics and unable to give proper consideration to ecological sustainability. Indeed our ecological ignorance is profound and is compounded by our failure to understand exponential growth. We have an alarming readiness to gamble on the future. The media haven’t helped: they have failed to communicate clearly the causes of climate change and portrayed the science as controversial. Politicians have found it all too much to handle.
How do we roll back denial? First, we face reality. Yes it’s grim, but it’s not hopeless. The authors have no truck with despair. Literal denial is answered by science. The interpretive denial of the politicians can be changed by public pressure. But the implicatory denial in which we are mired requires a re-examination of our values and our ideologies. The consumerist society will no longer serve. The authors envisage a dream of the ‘great work’ of repairing the earth as propounded by Thomas Berry in his book of that title. Consumerism has failed. We need an eco-centric ethic, which considers the whole of nature. The writers discuss this at some length, putting in a plug for a steady state economy as one which makes sense in a climate change world.
They believe there are people — though by no means everyone yet — willing to break with delusion and denial and it is with such that the book seeks to communicate. Much detailed discussion follows as to what is involved, including a survey of the ’wealth of solutions’ which offer good grounds for optimism that large emission cuts can be achieved at moderate cost. Renewable energy is the key, going hand in hand with a reduction in consumerism, and the authors explain how they see it working out without recourse to nuclear power, to the questionable technology of carbon capture and storage or to geoengineering.
The book is compact and well referenced. It carries an eloquent foreword from Naomi Oreskes. It is lucid and compelling in its discussions. It adds a weighty voice to the summons to face the physical and ethical reality of climate change, to have done with denial and to set about the still achievable task of repair.