Posts Tagged ‘climate change’
The full statement has been signed by 520 global scientists from 44 countries.
Earth is rapidly approaching a tipping point. Human impacts are causing alarming levels of harm to our planet. As scientists who study the interaction of people with the rest of the biosphere using a wide range of approaches, we agree that the evidence that humans are damaging their ecological life-support systems is overwhelming.
We further agree that, based on the best scientific information available, human quality of life will suffer substantial degradation by the year 2050 if we continue on our current path.
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.
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.
Superstorm Sandy produced record storm surge levels for locations in and around the NY City metropolitan region. One way that global warming made Sandy worse is because global warming is causing sea levels to rise. Sea levels have risen more than a foot in the New York City region since the Industrial Revolution. So what difference did this extra foot make for the citizens of New York City? Quite a lot. 6,000 more people impacted for each inch of rise!
70,929 more people and 30,551 more homes flooded.
Last night, PBS Frontline premiered their expose of climate science denial’s key players titled Climate of Doubt. The show highlighted S. Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, Christopher Monckton, Chris Horner, Myron Ebell, and James Taylor, among several others. The episode also featured right-wing denier organization such as Heartland Institute, American Tradition Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute and others, who routinely attack climate science and its researchers. Climate of Doubt shows us how a handful of ideologues have hijacked Congress so that the most important issue facing humanity today is not even mentioned at any of the three presidential debates.
So what can you do to help our researchers who are being harassed by these Climate of Doubtmongers? A great way to do so is to support the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF). CSLDF was founded to protect the scientific endeavor by offering legal education resources to climate scientists as well as a “war chest” for scientists who are faced with expensive legal battles. The fossil fuel-funded ideologues have an almost unlimited amount of financial resources so CSLDF can use all the help it can get from concerned citizens and foundations.
Which of the $20 bills below is real and which is counterfeit?
What if I were to tell you that the one on the left was provided by a member of the United States Treasury and had the endorsement of virtually every currency expert on the planet? What if I told you that the one on the right was passed by a guy who has a history of deception and that virtually every currency expert thinks the one on the right is fake?
I am guessing that you think the one on the left is real and the one on the right is a fake because you considered the credibility of the people who passed that bill to you.
Now keep your “credibility eyes” open when Patrick Michaels tries to pass you a counterfeit document that is supposed to make you and our elected officials believe climate change is not a major concern for the United States.
Obama: “The first role of the federal government is to keep the American people safe.”
Romney: “We have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people, and that means a military second to none,” he said. “I do not believe in cutting our military. I believe in maintaining the strength of America’s military.”
Based on these two comments from the debate last night, one would conclude that President Obama would never avoid talking about a serious national security issue and that Mitt Romney respects the opinion of our military leaders. And, being a Republican, one might also assume Romney respects the opinions of our financial experts.
WRONG, and WRONG, and WRONG.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, made this point quite clearly in his recent statement:
Climate change is one of the most serious health threats facing our nation. Yet few Americans are aware of the very real consequences of climate change on the health of our communities, our families and our children.
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, made this point even more bluntly in stating:
We need to… convince the world that humanity really is the most important species endangered by climate change.
In a 2010 statement, 33 of the top generals and admirals in the United States stated:
Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place. It’s threatening America’s security. The Pentagon and security leaders of both parties consider climate disruption to be a “threat multiplier” – it exacerbates existing problems by decreasing stability, increasing conflict, and incubating the socioeconomic conditions that foster terrorist recruitment. The State Department, the National Intelligence Council and the CIA all agree, and all are planning for future climate-based threats. America’s billion-dollar-a-day dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to unstable and unfriendly regimes.
A 2010 statement from 268 investors representing assets of more than US$15 trillion:
Several leading studies indicate that the systemic shocks to regional and global economies from climate change will be substantial and will worsen the longer world governments wait to take sufficient policy action.
So clearly our health, military, and financial experts agree that human-caused climate change poses a very real threat to our health, safety, and financial security.
But here is what each candidate said about climate change:
Yep. Nothing at all.
PBS does not escape criticism either. More than 160,000 requests (including a letter from me) were sent to PBS asking them to include a climate change question but none were asked.
Shame on all of you.