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January 01 2014

19:14

World's climate warming faster than feared, scientists say

Scientists say the world's climate is warming faster than feared because previous predictions were too "optimistic" and overestimated the cooling impact of clouds
    




April 14 2012

10:00

Meditation on the Colors of Nature

A mother on a year's adventure in Maine living off the grid sees the seasons and the hues of nature in a whole new light.
Sponsored post
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February 08 2012

20:42

From 2 Satellites, the Big Picture on Ice Melt

Researchers calculate that from 2003 to 2010, the world's glaciers and ice caps lost about 150 billion tons of ice each year.

January 25 2012

19:24

Oil Supply as a Strategic Risk

In an opinion piece in the journal Nature, two professors argue that given the constraints on supply, smart governments ought to be pushing hard to move their citizens into more efficient cars, onto public transit and so forth.

December 30 2011

18:48

Musings of a Malcontent: The Earth in 2012 – Aye Carumba!


Musings of a Malcontent: Environmental Irony in an Imperfect (but humorous?) World“Musings of a Malcontent” is a weekly op-ed by GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Carlyle Coash

I am beginning to feel redundant.

I mean how many weeks in a row can I talk about oil spills? Seemingly forever at the rate we’re going. If you haven’t seen it yet, there is an absolutely fabulous spill off the coast of Nigeria. Shell Oil clearly put a lot of work into making it look amazing. Let’s put our hands together for them. It really accentuates all the wonderful features of Nigeria’s coastline marvelously. You would think it was made just for that purpose. Stunning!

I think Victoria’s Secret is doing a special fashion show on the slick itself just so we can all revel in the magic. The best designers are involved, showing how much they care for this important issue. The models will be dressed as oil workers just getting off work at the rig from a hard day of drilling. As they strut down their specially made flotilla runway, spray from the slick coats them with the alluring shimmer that only crude oil can create. Covered in oil now, they strip out of their overalls to reveal the new line of sexy hot undergarments made from the carcasses of birds killed by spills all over the world. Fashion at it’s most poignant!

I can dream can’t I?

Will we raise our consciousness about what we are doing to the Earth in 2012?This new spill gives me little optimism for 2012. It just feels like it’s not going to stop. Oil everywhere, huge amounts of methane gas escaping from the Arctic, extreme weather patterns, the start of Celebrity Wife Swap – what are we in for? I know the Mayan calendar is predicting a profound rise in consciousness in 2012, but I’m wondering if that’s because we’ll all be in flames from the massive oil spill-methane-fueled fireball that’s likely to be the Planet Earth.

It’s amazing how being on fire can elevate your consciousness.

If you can’t tell – I’m worried. Somehow I think I am not alone in this. The question is what will it take to slow things down? Do we need an Occupy the Oil Companies movement? Yeah, that would work. Groups can start camping out at gas stations. We can all begin to use alternative fuel sources – like used fry oil from fast food restaurants. Soon the Chevy Volt will be the car everyone craves and all the oil-producing countries will be begging for us to use their product again. Yet because of our Mayan induced surge of conscious awakening we will no longer even need motor vehicles – as we will simply travel through teleportation.

We are totally screwed aren’t we?

Those changes are not going to happen. Sorry Mayans. Why? Because instead of cleaning up the mess currently spanning the globe, these big companies want to add to it. They have all the sway in just the right places. I know this because for the most part nothing has really happened to them. Sure they have gotten fined, but they are still getting away with all sorts of shaky behavior. Just like nothing has really happened to the Wall Street companies that did a collective pistol shot to our femurs, leaving us to bleed out on the street while they sauntered away whistling a tune. The exchange rate is maintained in their favor. I don’t see Bernie Madoff getting a Gaddafi style treatment at the hands of those he screwed. Heck I would settle for a daylong carnival dunk tank opportunity with old Bernie as the star.

Just give us some payback – a little hint that the scales are not totally off balance.

I am not holding my breath. I do have some desire for self-preservation.

So we step into a new year. Hopefully it will not be full of continued disasters. Or scams and misdeeds. Or torture and killing. Or horrors done on each other for just no good reason (like the guy lighting a woman in his building on fire in a very un-consciousness heightening way). Or stories of how much the rich and famous are spending on Christmas gifts ($12,000 worth of gifts from one Twilight series star to the other. They are in love though).

Ugh.

For the consciousness to shift it has to be about something else. Taking responsibility. Taking care of our world and each other. Practicing compassion. Practicing kindness. Practicing generosity. Speaking out when we see things that are unjust. Not tolerating violence. Calming our minds.

Can’t be that far fetched. If the Mayans thought it could happen, why not right?

So what if they died off.

Right.

————
Image sources: The Alopecian Muse, Astrological Musings

November 23 2011

22:29

Looking Way Back at the Rate of Arctic Melting

A new report on the rate of melting of Arctic sea ice shows the largest percentage of melting in well over 1,000 years.

November 09 2011

19:28

Combating the Culture of Climate Change Denial


Overcoming a culture that pits Man against natureThe failure to accept the anthropogenic origins of climate change may be partly attributable to a fallacy of modern culture. Popular culture pits us against nature which in turn undermines efforts to curtail climate change.

Man versus nature is one of seven conflicts in literary studies, it relates to the theme in literature that places a character against the forces of nature. Many disaster films and survival stories deal with the theme of man’s alienation from nature. As reflected in surveys on climate change about half of Americans are estranged from nature.

Americans are also dangerously divided on the urgency of climate change. According to a 2011 report from GfK and SC , even though the environment is an economic issue, a majority of Americans (52%) accept trading environmental protection for economic development to maintain their standard of living.

The human role in climate change is the most controversial subject of the 21st century even though the issue has been settled. Writing in WIREs Climate Change, Dr Kevin Trenberth, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is now so clear that the burden of proof should lie with research which seeks to disprove the human role. “Humans are changing our climate. There is no doubt whatsoever,” said Trenberth.

Almost 5 years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report indicated that global warming is “unequivocal”, and is “very likely” due to human activities. Since then, attempts at large scale climate regulation have failed at a number of levels.

Even the few scientists who previously resisted man-made climate change are increasingly being swayed by the overwhelming body of evidence. People like the Koch brothers work hard to resist the science supporting global warming, yet even scientists paid by this climate denying duo are finding it hard to ignore the findings of their own research.

At the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the concentration of the greenhouse gas CO2 was at 360 parts per million (ppm). In the 20 years since, it has risen to 390 ppm, and that number is continuing to grow with no end in sight.

We have not seen climate and energy legislation in the U.S. and the U.N. has failed to produce a binding emissions agreement. When combined with the imminent expiration of the Kyoto protocol at the end of 2012 it makes a bad situation worse.

Despite a sluggish global economy, the latest calculations from the U.S. Department of Energy indicate that CO2 emissions have risen sharply in 2009 and 2010.

Under these circumstances, Jochem Marotzke, the head of the German Climate Consortium, believes we are “on a course of development with CO2 emissions that makes the 2-degrees goal more and more illusory.” Politicians are not willing to face up to the realities and take action. “This reluctance will bring about fatal results,” Marotzke said.

Climate change denial is a major obstacle impeding action. According to a book written by Riley E. Dunlap, a sociology professor at Oklahoma State, and Aaron M. McCright of Michigan State, organized denial has succeeded in blocking domestic legislation. These authors have indicated that deniers make it nearly impossible to get responsible climate legislation in the U.S. This is the point they make in their book, “Climate Change Denial Machine” in a chapter titled, “Organized Climate Change Denial.”

“We have argued that because of the perceived threat posed by climate change to their interests, actors in the denial machine have strived to undermine scientific evidence documenting its reality and seriousness. Over the past two decades they have engaged in an escalating assault on climate science and scientists, and in recent years on core scientific practices, institutions and knowledge. Their success in these efforts not only threatens our capacity to understand and monitor human-induced ecological disruptions from the local to global levels (Hanson 2010), but it also weakens an essential component of societal reflexivity when the need for the latter is greater than ever.”

To succeed in auguring the major changes required it may not be enough to communicate the facts. One of the salient factors compounding climate change denial concerns the state of disconnection between humans and nature. Western culture opposes nature and is defined by consumerism and anthropocentrism. We have been brainwashed by the idea that the natural world is there for our exploitation. Pop culture reinforces the cleavage between people and the natural environment.

If we are to save the planet we need to better understand the overarching significance of nature. We need to review our propensity for over-consumption and we need to reevaluate our homocentric tendencies. In its simplest essence, we need to understand that the Earth is more than a reservoir of raw materials; it is the indispensable substrate of our lives.

We are under the illusion that man is not part of the fabric of the natural world and this is blinding people to the need for urgent action. Although we may be disconnected from nature, this detachment is a matter of choice, and connection can always be recovered.

Until we deal with the failings of a culture that pits man against nature, we will not marshal the support required to fully engage the battle against climate change.

——————-
Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, a leading sustainable business blog and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

Image credit: Facebook – Earth2100

September 19 2011

20:01

Counterpoint on Shale Gas and the Future of Fracking

Recently the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature published a ‘pros vs. cons’ piece on the production of unconventional gas from shale. The tête-à-tête, led by Terry Engelder on the pro side and Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea on the con side, weighs the risks and benefits of gas production as it relates to the economy and human and environmental health.

Howarth and Ingraffea, authors of the first peer-reviewed study on lifecycle emissions from unconventional gas production, are solemn in their assessment: “shale gas isn’t clean, and shouldn’t be used as a bridge fuel” to a clean energy future. Their recommendation is based on the risks involved with high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as it exists in its present form.
 
Although the industry claims to have performed over one million fracking operations since the 1940s, Howarth and Ingraffea counter that the current technology is still relatively new and has only been in operation for a decade. Modern fracking bears little resemblance to its historic counterpart and requires greater amounts of water and chemicals, deeper drilling and higher pressures. All these differences combine to make fracking an unavoidably dangerous process. Howarth and Ingraffea also claim that a switch to unconventional gas will not substantially alleviate global warming in the near future.
 
Unconventional gas drilling creates problematic waste, not only for the air, but also for land and water. And despite progress made in the regulatory structure surrounding gas drilling, if there is any to celebrate, the process is still inherently dangerous, secretive and exempt from the federal statutes designed to protect human and environmental health. 
 
Overall, when you consider the risks, there is little to prop up unconventional gas as the "clean" fuel of the future. Furthermore, the amount of time and resources devoted to shale gas development stifle the production and commitment to true alternatives.

For all of these reasons, Howarth and Ingraffea call for a moratorium on fracking “to allow for better study of the cumulative risks to water quality, air quality and global climate.”
 
“Only with such comprehensive knowledge,” they claim, “can appropriate regulatory frameworks be developed,” the Cornell University professors conclude.
 
But Terry Engelder, a geologist with years of experience working for the gas industry, poses a bold counter claim to Howarth and Ingraffea: “fracking is crucial to global economic stability” and “the economic benefits outweigh the environmental risks.”

Yet Engelder’s assessment rests on a number of assumptions that may prove unsupportable in the long run. 
 
Engelder’s first assumption is that America’s unconventional gas reserves are enough to uphold tremendously high projections of gas production. Such projections underpin the ‘energy security’ of turning to unconventional gas in the wake of oil’s decline. Some say we have about a century’s worth of domestic gas to carry us through to a clean energy future. This will give us energy and economic security as well as a high employment rates and standards of living. (Howarth and Ingraffea, however, point out that emerging data, from the Post Carbon Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey, find these projections to be greatly exaggerated.)
 
Engelder also presumes that public approval of fracking will support a steady increase in unconventional gas drilling across the country, the increase needed to achieve production projections. Unconventional wells only produce for a short amount of time so a steady increase in production means many new wells must be drilled. But an increase in fracking may have the consequence of increased resistance, which is something already happening across the nation. Opposition to fracking will certainly get in the way of uninhibited drilling, a point Engelder seems to overlook. In fact, Engelder seems to rely upon continued support from people in drilling regions where they are less likely to become anti-drilling activists.
 
The final assumption that Engelder makes surrounds the broad scope of human and environmental harm. Sounding much like an industry front man, Engelder downplays the risks associated with fracking, suggesting that water contamination has not and will not occur, that methane contamination is basically harmless and naturally occurring, that industry mistakes, like leaks and blowouts “are like all accidents caused by human error – an unpredictable risk with which society lives.” Engelder wants to at once suggest that there are no unmanageable problems associated with fracking and, where there are problems, call them a necessary evil.
 
In a post-Macondo world, the vague and nonchalant treatment of such serious risks is brazen and inexcusable.
 
Engelder writes that in the case of fracking “fear levels exceed the evidence.” But this statement holds none of the practical wisdom of Howarth and Ingraffea’s final words: “gas should remain safely in the shale, while society uses energy more efficiently and develops renewable energy sources more aggressively.”

June 21 2011

21:55

State of the Oceans Report: Sending Out An SOS


State of the Oceans report sends stark warning for health of marine ecosystemsA preliminary report released today by an international panel of interdisciplinary marine scientists on behalf of the International Programme on the State of the Oceans gives a stark warning that unless the combined threats facing the world’s ocean are not curbed soon, a marine mass extinction could occur on a scale unprecedented in human history.

“The findings are shocking,” said IPSO Scientific Director Alex Rogers. “As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean the implications become far worse that we had individually realized. This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”

The conclusions of the report are the product of a first-ever workshop bringing together marine experts and scientist from various disciplines to assess the latest ocean stresses and impacts, and to determine the effects of those multiple stresses on current and future ocean health. The workshop enabled these experts and scientists to engage a comprehensive, global view of the cumulative threats facing the ocean, and how they impact the future viability of ocean ecosystems.

From the report:

“This examination of synergistic threats leads to the conclusion that we have underestimated the overall risks and that the whole of marine degradation is greater tha thte sum of its parts, and that degradation is now happening at a faster rate than expected”

The preliminary report posits seven key points to “drive a common sense rethink”:

  • Human actions have resulted in warming and acidification of the ocean and are now causing increased hypoxia (low oxygen)
    Studies of the Earth’s past indicate these three symptoms (warming, acidification, hypoxia) indicate “disturbances of the carbon cycle” associated with all five previous mass extinctions on Earth. The rate of carbon absorption by the ocean is already far greater than what it was at the time of the last globally significant marine mass extinction when up to half of some marine deep-sea species where wiped out.
  • The speeds of many negative changes to the ocean are near to or are tracking the worst-case scenarios from the IPCC and other predictions. Some are as predicted, but many are faster than anticipated, and many are still accelerating
  • The magnitude of the cumulative impacts on the ocean is greater than previously understood
  • Timelines for action are shrinking
    The longer we take to get serious about reducing carbon emissions, the more it will cost and the harder it will be to effectively make meaningful reductions. In the meantime, environmental damage will accrue causing greater socioeconomic impacts. The problem isn’t going away.
  • Resilience of the ocean to climate change impacts is severely compromised by the other stressors from human activities, including fisheries, pollution, and habitat destruction
  • Ecosystem collapse is occurring as a result of both current and emerging stressors
    Among those stressors are chemical pollutants, overfishing, agricultural runoff, and sediment loads.
  • The extinction threat to marine species is rapidly increasing

The report cites a wholly inadequate approach to management of marine resources and activities that impact the ocean, all of which have led to “intense multiple stressors acting together in many marine ecosystems.” These impacted ecosystems lack the resilience to withstand increased pressures from expanding human populations and increasing rates of CO2 emissions.

A spate of other research supports the findings of the IPSO study, all showing an ocean under severe threat, including disappearing coral reefs, rapidly increasing acidification, and growing incidences of marine life extinctions.

The IPSO report urges a change of human interaction with the ocean and adoption of a “holistic approach to sustainable management of all activities that impinge marine ecosystems.”

“This has to be part of a wider re-evaluation of the core values of human society and its relationship to the natural world and the resources on which we all rely.”

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May 26 2011

16:58

Nature Scolds GMU over Wegman Inquiry

George Mason U dragging its feet on plagiarism complaint

An editorial in the current issue of Nature questions why George Mason University has taken more than 14 months - so far - in its review of the plagiarism complaint against Edward Wegman, even though GMU's own policy says that such a complaint should be dealt with in 12 weeks.

"Long misconduct investigations do not serve anyone, except perhaps university public-relations departments that might hope everyone will have forgotten about a case by the time it wraps up," the Nature editorial states.

The editors go on to say that this is as particularly pressing issue because Wegman's (purportedly) shoddy work has been used to prop up government policy, as well as to dilute the quality of climate science.<!--break-->

Finally Nature says this:

"Perhaps it should fall to accreditation agencies to push for speedy investigations. Tom Benberg, vice-president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — the agency that accredits George Mason University — says that his agency might investigate if the university repeatedly ignored its own policies on the timing of misconduct inquiries. To get the ball rolling, he says, someone would have to file a well-documented complaint."

Gee, that sounds exactly like an invitation ...

March 14 2011

10:47

Environmentalism’s myths are just another type of urban legend

I am currently chipping away at Celebrity and the Environment.  It was here that I learned about the lemming suicide hoax. Jeronimo!

Lemmings do not commit mass suicide as a form of adaptation to population explosion. They don’t! But the Disney crew sent to shoot that particular film genuinely believed lemmings did; when the little things failed to display the expected behaviour, the crew simply decided to give nature a hand. A special, constructed nature was patched up and displayed – with cinematic evidence! – the world over. The myth prevailed over reality. The urban myth became superseded fact as the new reality.

What happens when other myths – harder to debunk and more widely accepted – are vented and spread widely? Nature is reconstructed by means of the representations we have of it, as is people’s place in it. That is, in itself, natural; if you love nature, you’re representing the image of it in your mind. But where do those representations come form, and why?

Punchline: what do you mean when you say nature?


March 01 2011

23:12

Imperiled Coral Reefs, Gone by 2050?


 

A coral reef turned white by bleaching, a stress reaction to high ocean temperaturesEven now, three-quarters of all coral reefs around the world are threatened. By 2050 “nearly all” coral reefs will be gone unless something is done soon to stop it, according to a report released last week by the World Resources Institute.

Assaulted by warming temperatures, acidifying waters, pollution, and overfishing, coral reefs are aptly described as the “rainforest of the sea,” supporting a vast ecosystem that includes the livelihoods of a half billion people.

Saving the reefs. Think locally, act globally

Following on earlier studies, the new study, called “Reefs at Risk Revisited,” warns that 90 percent of coral reefs will be threatened by 2030, and at least 95 percent by 2050, if action is not taken now to stop it.

The immediate threat to coral is local pressures like pollution, overfishing, agricultural runoff, and coastal development – stresses converging in a “perfect storm of threats to reefs” according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator Jane Lubchenco.

Added to the immediate and local threat is the added stress of  rising temperatures from increased CO2 emissions, leading to widespread coral bleaching events and acidifying oceans.

“Ocean acidification reduces coral growth rates,” the report says, “… and, if unchecked, could reduce their ability to maintain their physical structure.”

Not committed to a world without coral reefs

A world with dead or dying reefs is “not a future we are committed to,” said Lauretta Burke, one of the study’s lead authors. But a commitment to save the reefs through immediate broad action is required to avoid such a future.

Burke urges policymakers to focus on implementing swift measures to ease local pressures on coral reefs – in particular overfishing – and take steps to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are quickly raising temperatures and acidifying ocean waters.

Absent such action, at least 500 million people will lose their means of survival along with the coral, much of those in the developing world, along the coasts southeast Asia and the Indian ocean, where last year saw a dramatic coral die-off due to a sudden spike in ocean temperatures.

Coral reefs provide important environmental and economic services, the loss of which is a devastating prospect. Reefs at Risk is, hopefully, a wake-up call for us to do something to avert such a fate.

Reefs at Risk Revisited:
Executive Summary (pdf)
Full Report (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

January 11 2011

22:47

Study: Climate Change Will Continue for 1,000 Years, Even with Zero Emissions

 

It's only early January, and already we're witnessing what could be the most devastating climate change story of the year.  A new study in Nature Geoscience this week shows that even if we go to zero emissions and completely halt our wholesale burning of fossil fuels, climate change will continue for the next 1,000 years. 

If only an "I told you so" directed toward climate change deniers and the fossil fuel lobby could somehow be gratifying in this situation.  Such accusations seem trite and insufficient when faced with the truth that we've had an irreversible impact on our environment. 

The study, conducted by University of Calgary and Environment Canada's climate centre at the University of Victoria is the first full climate model simulation to make predictions 1,000 years into the future.  Dr. Shawn Marshall and his team explore the question: "What if we completely stopped using fossil fuels and put no more CO2 in the atmosphere?  How long would it then take to reverse current climate change trends and will things first become worse?”  Using simulations with the Canadian Earth System Model, the research team explores zero-emissions scenarios if humans completely stop burning fossil fuels in 2010 and 2100 respectively.  

The article shows, devastatingly, that climate change will continue even if we stop our use of fossil fuels immediately.  We've had that much of an impact.<!--break-->

In addition to global temperatures rising by up to 5 degrees, the authors suggest that warming of the intermediate-depth ocean around Antarctica could lead to the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which would be associated with a rise in sea levels of at least 4 metres.  In addition, desertification in North Africa will cause drought and food shortages. 

As an Oxfam study previously demonstrated, it will be the Global South that will bear the brunt of devastating climate change impacts and costs.  To understand the discrepancies between the Global North and South, Gillett et al postulate that one reason is inertia of the global ocean and parts of the Southern Hemisphere.  Their inertia means that warming has tended to be slower and more gradual.  Those oceans are only now beginning to warm as a result of CO2 emissions from the last century.  Worryingly, that also means that we can expect warming to continue long into the future. 

In the Northern Hemisphere, Canada and Russia will fare better than the South in terms of the impacts of these cataclysmic changes.  Due to their geographic location, impacts will be less direct and less devastating.  This reality may diminish the urgency by which governments take action.  The authors caution that we should not be fooled, however.  We must act immediately.  We don't have time to be fed lies and propaganda by the fossil fuel lobby. 

An important take-away from the study is that the irreversible way that we have impacted the climate does not demonstrate that action is futile or helpless.  To the contrary, the benefits of immediate action mean that we can mitigate some of these longer term consequences of climate change. 

Read the full study here. The University of Calgary Press release can be found here

Photo credit: Ben Heine.

 

December 16 2010

18:49

A Grolar Bear? The Perils of Shrinking Arctic Ice

At least 22 species are at risk of hybridization, which could break down the defenses for survival, a study warns.

September 27 2010

19:22

WUWT: Just Enough Information to Mislead

You can't beat Anthony Watts' team at WUWT (either Watts Up With That or We Use Wishful Thinking, it's hard to tell) for the delicate selection and presentation of "evidence" to argue that climate isn't changing.

Here, for example, is an post that trumpets a Nature article on the climate effects of the Atalantic Mulitdecadel Oscilation. WUWT also credits the reputable German publication Der Spiegel as an intermediate source for this information and then posts the graph (left) as easy visual proof that what's happening in climate today is all part of a normal up and down.

But have a close look at that graph. First, it doesn't come from the Nature paper or from Der Spiegel. It was cobbled together on a denier site run by an engineer named Alan Cheetham.  Second, the yellow lines showing a downward resumption on the right side are based on - well, actually, on no data points whatever. While Cheetham may have a crystal ball, a touching optimism or a cavalier disregard for objective presentation, he has no evidence at all.

But he has a fan in Anthony Watts. Watt does that tell you?<!--break-->

I noticed this while reading another post in which Watts insults John Cook from the excellent blog, Skeptical Science (there is a link, incorrectly attributing the material above to New Scientist). Watt's quotes this passage from Sourcewatch:

John Cook, on his website Skeptical Science, states that “the usual suspects in natural climate change – solar variations, volcanoes, Milankovitch cycles – are all conspicuous in their absence over the past three decades of warming.

... and then he goes on to provide three links (1, 2, 3) that purport counter Cook's position.

Well, the whole post is dumb. Cook isn't saying that there NO were ocean oscillations, volcano effects or Milankovitch cycles in the last 30 years. It seems clear that he was saying that global temperatures have been rising regardless that these influences have been absent, irrelevant or (in the case of volcanoes) acting to counteract warming.

Beyond being obtuse, Watts also has a little hissy about Cook using the "ugly word 'denier'" in reference to people who, uh, manipulate or misrepresent scientific information to suggest that climate change is not happening, is natural or is nothing to worry about.

Watts the deal, Tony? Got a guilty conscience?<!--break-->

September 03 2010

17:57

Scientists Criticize System of Certifying Fisheries

A group of fisheries scientists argue that the Marine Stewardship Council, an influential body that ranks fish sources as sustainable, grants its seal of approval too easily. As a result, some fish populations may be more endangered than consumers believe.

May 28 2010

16:00

May 27 2010

11:58

Move Over, Polar Bear

A new study in this week's Nature reports that smaller mammals like gophers also face great risk as the planet warms.

May 14 2010

21:58

Nature Pens Scathing Editorial On Virginia A.G. Cuccinelli Witch Hunt of Michael Mann

In a scathing rebuke of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s witch hunt relating to the work of climatologist Michael Mann, the highly-regarded journal Nature this week published an editorial called “Science subpoenaed” that condemns the latest political attack on a climate scientist and calls into serious question Cuccinelli’s motives.

AG Cuccinelli, a former Republican state Senator, earlier this month launched a ridiculously over-the-top inquiry demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a massive number of documents and personal communications related to Professor Mann’s work and government contracts.  Cuccinelli demands to see eleven years’ worth of Mann’s emails and other correspondence with climate scientists, and all available documents, computer code and data relating to Mann's research on five different state and federal grants.

Echoing The Washington Post, which published a similar editorial lambasting Cuccinelli’s “witch hunt” of Professor Mann, the Nature editorial similarly slammed the AG.
<!--break-->
Nature notes that “Cuccinelli has lost no time in burnishing his credentials with far-right 'Tea Party' activists, many of whom hail him as a hero,” and suggests that:
Given the lack of any evidence of wrongdoing, it's hard to see Cuccinelli's subpoena — and similar threats of legal action against climate scientists in a February report by climate-change denier Senator James Inhofe (Republican, Oklahoma) — as anything more than an idealogically motivated inquisition that harasses and intimidates climate scientists.”

Not surprisingly, climate deniers are cheering on Cuccinelli’s effort, including the paid tobacco shill turned chemical industry apologist turned climate denier Steven “Junkman” Milloy.

Milloy penned a recent piece in the Washington Times saluting Cuccinelli’s witch hunt, a piece which he says on his website is “dedicated to those skeptics and libertarians who, confused about Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli’s investigation of Michael Mann, are aiding and abetting the enemy.”

Apparently Milloy is annoyed that fellow skeptics at ClimateChangeFraud.com didn’t fall in line to cheer Cuccinelli’s effort, and instead raised questions about the appropriateness of the AG’s focus on Michael Mann, noting that the “Washington Post has properly branded Cuccinelli's ploy as a witch hunt.”

Nature also mentions the fact that “even several climate sceptics who count themselves among Mann's fiercest critics have publicly condemned the attorney general's move.”

The Nature editorial concludes:
“Scientific organizations must respond quickly and forcefully any time political machinations threaten to undercut academic freedom. And, rather than complying, the University of Virginia should explore every avenue to challenge the subpoena.”

The Nature piece is highly recommended reading, as is the earlier Washington Post editorial, which stated:
“WE KNEW Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had declared war on reality. Now he has declared war on the freedom of academic inquiry as well. We hope that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the University of Virginia have the spine to repudiate Mr. Cuccinelli's abuse of the legal code. If they do not, the quality of Virginia's universities will suffer for years to come. In his ongoing campaign to wish away human-induced climate change, Mr. Cuccinelli has targeted Michael Mann…”

The Washington Post's editorial about the attack on Mann notes that, “Mr. Cuccinelli demonstrates a dangerous disregard for scientific method and academic freedom,” and concludes that “[Virginia Gov. Robert F.] McDonnell should condemn the attorney general and aid the university, making it clear that Mr. Cuccinelli speaks only for himself.”

It wasn’t the first time the Post had slammed Cuccinelli either.  In an October 2009 editorial titled "Mr. Cuccinelli's Bigotry," the Post Eds wrote that “given his bizarre ideas, he would very likely become an embarrassment for the commonwealth.”

It appears the Post was too generous with their conservative “very likely” qualifier, as Cuccinelli has proven on multiple occasions thus far in his short term to be a colossal embarrassment. 

Bravo to Nature for calling Cuccinelli out as well.

April 30 2010

18:35

A Snowball Effect Heats the Arctic

A destabilizing feedback loop driven by melting ice is at work in the Arctic.
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