New Video: Climate 2013 – the View from AGU

December 19, 2012

Just published on the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media.

I talked to a whole lot of scientists at this year’s American Geophysical Union Conference, and a number of them took time for interviews.  I’ll be building videos around these in the coming year, but for now, here is a sampling of perspectives on what we know now, and what we’re looking for in 2013.

Included are Charles Miller of NASA JPL and Ben Abbott of U. of Alaska, on permafrost. Texas A&M’s Andrew Dessler on Extreme weather attributions, Eric Rignot of JPL on polar ice, Robert Rohde, lead scientists of Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, Ben Santer on IPCC models and the upcoming report,  Ted Scambos of National Snow and Ice Data Center – on Snow and Ice Data,  and Jason Box of Byrd Center on Greenland melt.

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36 Responses to “New Video: Climate 2013 – the View from AGU”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    Another worrisome trend.
    With each passing year of inaction, I have fewer and fewer regrets of not having chosen parenthood but more and more concerns about the years ahead for the children of my friends and relatives.

  2. rayduray Says:

    Bravo! Nice job Peter. :)


  3. [...] "I talked to a whole lot of scientists at this year’s American Geophysical Union Conference, and a number of them took time for interviews. I’ll be building videos around these in the coming year, but for now, here is a sampling of perspectives on what we know now, and what we’re looking for in 2013.Included are Charles Johnson of NASA JPL and Ben Abbott of U. of Alaska, on permafrost. Texas A&M’s Andrew Dessler on Extreme weather attributions, Eric Rignot of JPL on polar ice, Robert Rohde, lead scientists of Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, Ben Santer on IPCC models and the upcoming report, Ted Scambos of National Snow and Ice Data Center – on Snow and Ice Data, and Jason Box of Byrd Center on Greenland melt."  [...]


  4. Impressed by how defensive all the interviewees were, how a large part of what they had to say was in response to denialist tropes.

    It was not until the final ten seconds of testimony that we heard a scientist talking about what all this really means to mankind – and all he said was that he was “concerned”.

    It is time, I think, to stop feeling a need to defend the science – the science is overwhelming. It is time for qualified scientists to start telling the public what the public needs to know in terms that they can understand.

    And that is … that it is time to panic.

    It is time to really get scared, to worry about your children. Because, far sooner then 99.9% of people realize, civilization as we know it is going to come to a crashing halt. And a lot of people are going to die.

    Far sooner than people realize, it will too late to anything to stop this catastrophe from happening. And the one group of people on the planet that understand this better than anyone else… are not talking about it.

    These scientist’s kids are going to ask them why they did not do more to tell the world about what they knew.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      Scientists are by nature conservative. I believe that’s what makes their testimony all the more powerful. I have been impressed in a couple of cases by the difference between the way they talk on camera and off. Off camera, the language is much more blunt and vivid.
      I get it that their job description calls for careful precision, and few are willing, or professionally secure enough, to get out in front.
      I think that’s part of what I’m supposed to do – and I think they do appreciate someone who is a little blunt from time to time.


    • Roger,

      I shared the video with a few friends who’ve shrugged off climate change. They were alarmed by the scientists’ matter-of-fact statements vividly describing a transition to a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene – and possibly the threshold of a new geological period, a glacier free Earth (Quinternary?).

  5. Sherry Mayo Says:

    I get ‘ video not available’ – is that because I’m outside the US?

  6. Jean Mcmahon Says:

    Too bad the scientists have to be so professional…I am pulling my hair out and the use phrases like”I am concerned”I guess if a doctor tells you you have cancer and will die soon it is not helpful for the dr to pull her/his hair out but they are just too “professional” for me..

    • andrewfez Says:

      There’s a biologist getting as close as a biologist can get to pulling hair.

      • rayduray Says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for the Guy MacPherson video. He’s one of the smartest and most honest analysts of our self-destructive “civilization”.

        Recently Bill McKibben has been on tour with 350.org’s “Do The Math” seminars. Here he brilliantly proposes we rename our hurricanes after oil companies:

        • andrewfez Says:

          Ha, ha – Maybe once they get through the big names – BP, Shell, etc., they can start naming them after CEO’s, board of director members, and large stake holders in the fossil industry. Make it more personal, and less institutional.

          There were some folks joking about ‘how ridiculous it was that some people were taking the Mayan calender end (12/21/12) seriously’ on my facebook, so I posted that MacPherson video. As with all my climate postings on facebook, it was readily ignored. A picture of a puppy with sunglasses gets ten ‘likes’ on facebook, but a guy warning us that methane hydrate releases are out of control gets ‘crickets’.

          See ya -

          • rayduray Says:

            Hey Andrew,

            Re: ” A picture of a puppy with sunglasses gets ten ‘likes’ on facebook, but a guy warning us that methane hydrate releases are out of control gets ‘crickets’. ”

            The young generation have been abused by the Internet culture to the point that they have the short attention span of a cricket. It’s even happening to me. I can barely get through a long documentary or text without ten interruptions for email, using wikipedia to learn more in depth about a topic or consulting a dictionary for a definition at best and at worst simply opening up a second video to watch simultaneously.

            ***
            BTW, NASA has just announced some new research on methane hydrates venting off the Delmarva Coast. The PhysOrg article I read was tantalizingly vague as to whether the vents were new or merely newly discovered. I’m starting to get a sixth sense about the plumes mentioned here and up in the East Siberian Sea. Some prime researchers are plenty worried too. We seem to be entering a new climate state with methane clathrates across the planet starting to break down and release CH4, most of which is so far being absorbed by seawater and thus contributing to the acidification problem in the most prolific phytoplankton production regions. So we can either worry about running out of oxygen to breath or food to eat. Take your pick, eh? :)

      • ontspan Says:

        Re. the video from Guy McPherson.

        Wow, talking about alarmist, well THAT is alarmist. It scares the hell out of me!

        • rayduray Says:

          Hi ontspan,

          Re: “Wow, talking about alarmist, well THAT is alarmist. It scares the hell out of me!”

          I see MacPherson’s contribution differently. Let’s start with a definition of “alarmist”. http://www.onelook.com/?w=alarmist&ls=a

          Adj.: causing unnecessary fear or worry

          Is MacPherson causing unneccesary fear or worry? I certainly do not see him as being anything other than a man with the courage to tell willing listeners the truth.

          Let’s talk about reality, shall we? What has the human species wrought since we crossed the threshold of the Industrial Revolution.

          1) World human populations have exploded 1,000% in 300 years.
          2) We now have available about 3% of the harvestable commercial seafood that existed in the wild 100 years ago.
          3) Exploitable virgin growth timber in North America has decreased 95% in 150 years.
          4) Half of the theoretically exploitable petroleum on the planet has been burned up in the last 50 years.
          5) Virgin soils in Kansas that yielded wheat with a valuable protein content of 24% when ground was broken in the 1910s were reduced to a protein content of 3% within a decade and have never recovered.
          6) The Central Valley of California is the most valuable farmland in this nation. In many districts in California 60 feet of topsoil have been lost since cultivation began. In these and other districts massive subsidence of up to 40 feet have occurred due to the overpumping of groundwater for inappropriate crops like cotton.
          7) The Ogallala Aquifer, the greatest store of fossil water in North America is on track to be effectively depleted in no more than 30 years, resulting in the loss of thousands of square miles of irrigated farmland in six states.
          8) On present trends, the American Southwest where 40 million people are dependent upon the Colorado River for much or all of their water is expected to enter a permanent desertification for the foreseeable future due to climate change.
          9) Of the remaining forest in western North America, at least half are expected to be lost in the next century due to climate change.

          Is Guy MacPherson being alarmist? I’d say that if anything, he’s too sanguine about the future. He thinks he and his children can survive in their permaculture enclave.

          • ontspan Says:

            Well, I can’t help it but I find the presentation to be very alarming. Your figures about the US are alarming too, although, tbh, I give a rat’s ass about US simply because the other 97.5% of this world is more important ;)

          • rayduray Says:

            Re: ” I give a rat’s ass about US simply because the other 97.5% of this world is more important ;)”

            As a USan, I agree with you. The U.S. is becoming the most obnoxious bully nation on the planet, bar none.

            It is turning into a fascistic, oligarchic police state that is eating its own citizens as it plunders the planet and wrecks the environment for short term profits. There’s little left of this nation to be proud of. Crony criminal capitalism has ruined it.

            Aside: You are a tad bit off on your 97.5% figure. It’s actually about 95.6% with the U.S. at 314 Million coming in at 4.4% of the world’s population while maintaining fully 1/2 of the war aggression budget on the planet. What a sick society.

            Calculation: 314/7060 = 0.04447592067


    • As a rule of thumb, calm experts are convincing experts.

      • rayduray Says:

        Charles,

        You’re probably right, but several counter-examples come to mind…

        Re: “As a rule of thumb, calm experts are convincing experts.”

        Yet as regards the portends for climate catastrophes easily predicted and now ominously manifesting, yelling “FIRE!” in the human theatre seems to me to be totally appropriate.

        Viewed another way, the thought leaders of the Jewish masses urged calm as their people were put into the boxcars to Treblinka. Was that the wise and prudent thing or would it have been better to show some emotive and aggressive resistance?

        I can assure you the calmest experts we’ll be hearing from in the next month will be those trotted out by the NRA and the gun lobby to convince the American public that “really, there’s no need to panic about guns”. I’d rather see us quite agitated about coming to our senses in this nation about our maniac gun nut problem and our totally toxic violence besotted culture.

        Maybe if Captain Smith had been less calm about iceberg reports on April, 14, 1912 he wouldn’t have had to be so calm going down with the Titanic on the 15th. Maybe he hadn’t been so calm after striking the iceberg, he’d have filled the liferafts instead of the death roles in the newspapers.

        As you can tell, I believe “calm”ness to be a bit inappropriate at crux times. :)


        • I think public agitation about gun control is the WORST thing we can do – for the environment.

          Talking about gun control – right after the Supremes have guaranteed the rights of individuals to carry and use semiautomatics – is like giving Karl Rove a blow job. He gets an orgasm every time he sees another liberal commentator talking about banning guns or bullets, because he knows that means more Republicans will be elected.

          Maniacs on a rampage shooting people kills fewer people in the U.S. than the number of people who die by bee stings. AGW will kill billions. Better we all STFU about gun control even if we could pass meaningful legislation – which we can’t.

          • rayduray Says:

            OFF TOPIC

            Roger,

            Re: “Maniacs on a rampage shooting people kills fewer people in the U.S. than the number of people who die by bee stings.”

            WTF??

            You are welcome to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

            This may not be a pristine source, but it’s accurate enough for this example:

            Deaths per 100,000 in the U.S. from bee and wasp stings: 50 persons annually

            Deaths per 100,000 in hte U.S. due to violent gun assault: ~15,000 p/a

            Deaths per 100,000 in the U.S. due to gun-induced suicide: ~30,000 p/a

            See: http://www.arthurhu.com/index/health/death.htm


          • Ray – I specifically said “maniacs on a rampage”, not how many people are killed by guns. Sandy Hook, which has engendered thousands of breathless and completely futile calls for elimination of all guns, was caused by a maniac with a semiautomatic weapon, which are protected by 2nd amendment.

            Maniacs on a rampage – as horrible a category as it is – account for very few deaths per year.

          • rayduray Says:

            VERY MUCH OFF TOPIC

            Roger,

            Re: “Maniacs on a rampage – as horrible a category as it is – account for very few deaths per year.”

            Your effort to strangle fact and logic is appalling. Shame on you.

            By your warped and pathological logic we could also argue that the 50,000,000 deaths in World War II were no problem because essentially none of them died at the hands of “maniacs on a rampage”.

            What kind of a special class of idiot are you?


          • wtf, ray?

            I guess I’m the special kind of idiot who thinks it is important to not help elect more Republicans so that we can actually do something about global warming.

            I’m the kind of idiot who sees that calling for gun control directly on the heels of the Supreme Court affirming that is is a Constitutional right of individuals to own and carry and use firearms is not the brightest thing in the world to do. Emotionally satisfying, yes – smart – no.

            I’m the kind of idiot who doesn’t go around telling people who have a different opinion than I do that “they are not allowed to have their own facts or that they “are idiots”.

            I am the kind of idiot who does have limits, however. So, on this lovely Christmas day, with the new snow a white blanket on the landscape, let me with you a hearty “Go fuck your self, Rayduray!” :)

          • rayduray Says:

            TOTALLY OFF TOPIC

            Re: ” So, on this lovely Christmas day, with the new snow a white blanket on the landscape, let me with you a hearty…. ”

            I detect only two issues. grammar management and anger control.

            Have a lovely day doing something else Roger, this isn’t working for either of us.

            Enjoy this bit of pleasantry:

            http://tinyurl.com/ctmx4dj

            Peace on Earth! Goodwill toward man…

      • prokaryotes Says:

        To be calm doesn’t mean to be silent on our course of worst case climate scenarios.


  7. [...] New Video: Climate 2013 – the View from AGU: “I talked to a whole lot of scientists at this year’s American Geophysical Union Conference, and a number of them took time for interviews.  I’ll be building videos around these in the coming year, but for now, here is a sampling of perspectives on what we know now, and what we’re looking for in 2013.” [...]

  8. James Pavitt Says:

    Thank you Peter – this is a wonderful piece of communication.


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