I teach MET103 – Global Climate Change to first and second year community college students. MET103 is a three credit lecture course that serves as a science elective for the general student population. Basic high school algebra is the only prerequisite. (See the course outline.)
I used John Cook’s SkepticalScience.com as the student resource for this semester’s research papers. As you will see from the three example papers highlighted on this blog, information found at SkepticalScience.com is accessible to the typical college student and thus, to the general public.
Each student chose a topic from Skeptic Arguments & What The Science Says. Students were asked to carefully study all the information appearing in the Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced tabs. Students were required to summarize, in their own words, the information learned from researching the topic. Students were also encouraged to use other resources, especially course notes, to help them complete the paper.
Now, armed with a basic understanding of how the Sun’s energy affects Earth and a basic understanding of the Greenhouse Effect, it is possible to dissect the argument made by those who deny climate change using the argument “It is the Sun.” The first evidence we can examine is temperature versus solar activity. According to Cook, Leahy, and Russell, “Over the last 35 years the Sun has shown a slight cooling trend. However global temperatures have been increasing. Since the Sun and climate are going in opposite directions, scientists have concluded that the Sun “cannot be the cause of recent global warming” (Cook, Leahy, & Russell, 2010). The available evidence lends credibility to the authors statement. There are several independent studies of solar activity that have shown that since 1960 the Sun has been in a slight cooling trend while the global average temperature has skyrocketed over that same time period.
In a warming world, frequency is not the only issue many coastal areas have to deal with. As waters warm, the intensity and size of these storms is increased considerably. This is mentioned in the Skeptical Science article when John Cook states, “Hurricane intensity is also highly correlated with sea surface temperature. This suggests that future warming will lead to an increase in the destructive potential of tropical hurricanes.” (Cook, 2010). In 2008, James B. Elsner published an article in Nature which revealed something disturbing that he discovered in measuring wind speed trends. “Elsner found weaker hurricanes showed little to no trend while stronger hurricanes showed a greater upward trend. In other words, stronger hurricanes are getting stronger. This means that as sea temperatures continue to rise, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes hitting land will inevitably increase.” (Cook, 2010). Warmer sea surface temperatures also add to the already severe issue of sea level rise as warmer water takes up more space. The issue of melting glaciers and ice sheets compounded with the rising temperatures are raising sea levels every day. With more intense storms pushing to the coast, the increased risk of storm surge damage becomes an issue. Hurricane Sandy showed record sea levels due to a “perfect storm” of high tide, rising sea levels, and storm surge. If storms of this strength or higher become a common occurrence in a world where sea levels are rising, it may soon become impossible to live by the coast at all. Increased moisture levels in the atmosphere also brought about by the warmer climate of today helps to increase the rainfall during tropical storms, which only adds to the flooding already caused by the storm surge. Soaked ground and weakened root systems also become a danger to inland residents as well at this point. Many large trees reside in suburban and rural areas likely to be hit by tropical storms and this danger to life and property is just another downfall of increased power in these storms.
For years, global warming deniers have proclaimed that in the 1970s, climate change was predicted to go in the opposite direction it is currently projected to head toward; taking the Earth into a global cooling trend, rather than the sharp spike in warming that is happening and is predicted to continue. This argument is not only a pointless squabble, but is incorrect and nitpicking small suggestions made in popular magazines that are not peer reviewed or accredited by the scientific community.
The reason for the argument’s continued use is that, from the deniers perspective, if scientists predicted global cooling in the 1970s and were wrong, then we cannot trust the scientific warnings now, that global warming is real and getting worse. However, glaring problems exist in that line of thought. Most of the climate deniers cite two articles from the 1970s as the basis of their argument; a Time article from 1974, and a Newsweek article from 1975. Both discuss at length the possibility of a cooling trend that could have an impact on the Earth’s climate.
Note: All three students gave me permission to post their papers wit names included.
One would think that the image above would be enough to say NO. Really, how can anybody with a conscience think ramping this up is a good idea?
This is the environmental disaster called Alberta Tar Sands that will be at the north end of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. I encourage all of my followers to read Dr. John Abraham’s excellent piece in The Guardian titled: Keystone XL decision will define Barack Obama’s legacy on climate change.
The money quote:
“If his administration cannot say “no” to Keystone – the dirtiest of the dirty – can it say no to anything?”
It is no contest. Dr. Peter Gleick continues to advance science and offer tremendous public service while Heartland Institute is busy shooting itself in the foot trying to misinform the public and disparage our experts.
Sigh. Once again, the Wall Street Journal has published a nonsense op-ed that has the climate denialosphere all in a tizzy. The author of the op-ed, Matt Ridley, tries to convince us that global warming won’t be so bad. The track record of correct climate science in WSJ op-eds leaves much to be desired. In Wall Street Journal: Selectively Pro-Science, I showed that WSJ op-eds fail to properly inform 93% of the time. In another study, The Union of Concerned Scientists found that WSJ op-eds mislead 81% of the time.
Matt Ridley bases his left field claim on the “expertise” of Nicholas Lewis who Ridley claims is “A semiretired successful financier from Bath, England, with a strong mathematics and physics background, Mr. Lewis has made significant contributions to the subject of climate change.” Using two journal database search tools, I could only locate one paper from Lewis. Just one. I guess WSJ and Ridley think Lewis’ one peer-reviewed science paper qualifies as “significant contributions to the subject of climate change” and he is qualified to overturn the many thousands of experts (including health officials, military officials, and insurers) who are very concerned about the expected planetary warming.
Please consider adding climate scientists to your holiday gift-giving by making a tax-deductible donation to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF). Your gift will help CSLDF to continue to educate researchers about their legal rights and responsibilities on issues surrounding their work; serve as a clearinghouse for information related to legal actions taken against scientists; and to recruit and assist lawyers representing these scientists, while also defraying legal fees scientists may incur.
Here is what several noted climate scientists have said about CSLDF:
As a scientist who is on the front lines in the battle to communicate the reality and implications of climate change to the public, I am greatly indebted to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF). Not only have they helped me in my own legal battles to defend myself from legal attacks by fossil fuel industry front groups, but through their webinars, AGU legal workshops, and greater outreach and communication efforts, they have literally assisted the entire scientific community in its efforts to defend itself from dishonest attacks by vested interests. It is essential that the CSLDF continue to receive the support necessary to continue its work. – Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor of Meteorology, Director, of Earth System Science Center at The Pennsylvania State University
When I had my emails FOIAed, Scott Mandia was the first person I contacted for advice. Through the CSLDF, he provided advice, support, as well as a network of people to talk to. It would be impossible for me to overstate how grateful I am that Scott and the CSLDF were there. – Dr. Andrew Dessler, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University
CSLDF provided me with information and resources that proved invaluable in dealing with requests for access to my emails under Freedom of Information Act that are rapidly becoming the norm for anyone in the climate science community. I recommend their workshops and webinars to any of my colleagues who are involved in public outreach on climate change. – Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor, Director of Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University
Thanks for CSLDFs efforts to educate scientists on legal matters, which are of great value. – Dr. Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at The Pennsylvania State University
Kit was extremely helpful. She answered and explored with me my particular questions, and also helped me develop a much wider view of the overall situation facing climate scientists in terms of how legal issues and defense interact with attempts to discredit climate science. I was glad to be able to talk to an attorney who deeply cared about the integrity of the science and helping individual scientists. I am very grateful to the CSLDF for arranging for these sessions. – Anonymous Scientist from One-on-One Availability with an Attorney at AGU
In addition to directly assisting individual scientists in need, this past year CSLDF coordinated with American Geophysical Union (AGU) to offer three legal education webinars leading up to the AGU 2012 Fall Meeting. At this year’s 2012 Fall Meeting, CSLDF coordinated with AGU to offer three legal education workshops (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), one-on-one availability with an attorney on four separate days, and an exhibit hall booth where information about the CSLDF mission was provided to scientists over a four day period.
Please consider supporting Climate Science Legal Defense Fund so that we may expand our legal education efforts thus protecting the scientific endeavor.
Scott Mandia & Joshua Wolfe, co-founders and co-managers of Climate Science Legal Defense Fund
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) has a large presence this year at the American Geophysical Union’s 2012 Fall Meeting. Please mark your calendars:
Legal Duties to Preserve and Disclose Scientific Data and Personal Communications
Mon Dec. 3 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
San Francisco Marriott Marquis – Salon 10
Join us for a brown bag lunch with Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.
Michael will discuss the increasing number of Freedom of Information Act requests and subpoenas that scientists are facing, and what kinds of documents scientists are required to disclose and to whom. Special attention will be devoted to e-mail and social media. Michael will leave ample time to answer your questions at this event.
The Law for Government Scientists
Tuesday Dec. 4 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
San Francisco Marriott Marquis – Salon 1055
Please join us for this brown bag lunch with Kathryn (Kit) Douglass, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) staff counsel. PEER is a nonprofit service organization assisting public agency scientists, attorneys, and other specialists working on environmental issues.
Everyday PEER helps government scientists with a wide range of legal issues. Learn about legal provisions that affect you as a government scientist at this event. Kit will leave ample time to answer your questions.
An Inside Look at the Michael Mann Case
5 December 2012 from 12:30 – 1:30PM
Moscone South: Mezzanine – Room 226
Join us for a brown bag lunch with Peter Fontaine, counsel to Michael Mann and a leader of Cozen O’Connor’s Brownfield Development and Climate Change practices.
Peter will use examples from recent Freedom of Information Act litigation American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia to discuss the application of state public records acts to researcher electronic correspondence, the interplay between the Federal FOIA and state laws, practical issues related to document review, potential exemptions to protect correspondence from disclosure, and other legal theories for the protection of correspondence, such as the First Amendment and Academic Freedom, and emerging trends in this dynamic intersection between science and the law.
One-On-One Time With a Lawyer (Have a question? Talk to a lawyer in private – no fees.)
Moscone South: Mezzanine – Room 264
Exhibit Hall Booth #140 Tuesday-Friday (Come visit the CSLDF booth and learn more about our mission.)
I travel once again to one of my favorite cities in the world, San Francisco, California to take part in the American Geophysical Union’s 2012 Fall Meeting. This year I will be presenting two oral talks and one poster. Please consider stopping by if you are attending AGU.