October 30, 2014
Photos and video I took during an August 2014 south Greenland maintenance tour of promice.org climate stations and an extreme ice survey time lapse camera went viral, featuring a surprisingly (to me and others) dark surface of Greenland ice.
What we know, the southern Greenland ice sheet hit record low reflectivity in the period of satellite observations since 2000 due to a ~2 month drought affecting south Greenland…
October 30, 2014
You may have seen crotchity non-scientist John Coleman, whose greatest claim to fame is having been fired by the Weather Channel, on Fox News’ whatsername show, a few days ago. (Wasn’t she supposed to be the “smart one”? I guess all things are relative..)
It’s getting harder not to notice that climate deniers come from an increasingly distant generation, and prefer Fox News to actual respectable outlets. Coleman gave the predictable “al gore, liberal scientists, its not humans” performance, and the echo chamber did the rest.
I’m sure it’s a coincidence that, two days later, The Weather Channel released a statement on climate change:
More than a century’s worth of detailed climate observations shows a sharp increase in both carbon dioxide and temperature. These observations, together with computer model simulations and historical climate reconstructions from ice cores, ocean sediments and tree rings all provide strong evidence that the majority of the warming over the past century is a result of human activities. This is also the conclusion drawn, nearly unanimously, by climate scientists.
Humans are also changing the climate on a more localized level. The replacement of vegetation by buildings and roads is causing temperature increases through what’s known as the urban heat island effect. In addition, land use changes are affecting impacts from weather phenomena. For example, urbanization and deforestation can cause an increased tendency for flash floods and mudslides from heavy rain. Deforestation also produces a climate change “feedback” by depleting a source which absorbs carbon dioxide.
Potential outcomes range from moderate and manageable to extreme and catastrophic, depending on a number of factors including location and type of effect, and amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Not every location and its inhabitants will be affected equally, but the more the planet warms, the fewer “winners” and the more “losers” there will be as a result of the changes in climate. The potential exists for the climate to reach a “tipping point,” if it hasn’t already done so, beyond which radical and irreversible changes occur.
The bottom line is that with the rate of greenhouse gas emissions increasing, a significant warming trend is expected to also continue. This warming will manifest itself in a variety of ways, and shifts in climate could occur quickly, so while society needs to continue to wrestle with the difficult issues involved with mitigation of the causes of global warming, an increased focus should be placed on resiliency and adaptation to the effects of global warming given the sensitivity of civilizations and ecosystems to rapid climate change.
October 30, 2014
I responded that it’s OK to feel that, – its perfectly natural to feel that way. I know from many, many conversations with senior scientists, that there is a huge emotional toll to be constantly engaged in this area of research, while so little is actually being done on a policy level to address the onrushing freight train.
This past summer, when Dr. Jason Box and I returned from Greenland, we were surprised to find that Jason’s tweet about undersea carbon stores, expressing more than a bit of trepidation in somewhat plain language, had gone viral.
As a larger and larger fraction of the population at large “gets it” about the gravity of the situation – there is obviously a hunger for less happy talk or denial, and more gut reaction. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me up late at night.
…growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest that climate change will take a pretty heavy toll on the human psyche as storms become more destructive and droughts more prolonged. For your everyday environmentalist, the emotional stress suffered by a rapidly changing Earth can result in some pretty substantial anxieties.
As Naomi Klein writes in her most recent book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, “We probably shouldn’t be surprised that some climate scientists are a little spooked by the radical implications of their own research. Most of them were quietly measuring ice cores, running global climate models, and studying ocean acidification, only to discover, as Australian climate expert and author Clive Hamilton puts it, that in breaking the news of the depth of our collective climate failure, they were ‘unwittingly destabilizing the political and social order.’” Talk about a lot of pressure.
“I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.” “It’s gotten to be so depressing that I’m not sure I’m going to go back to this particular site again,” she says, referring to an ocean reef she has studied since 2002, “because I just know I’m going to see more and more of it dead, and bleached, and covered with brown algae.”
Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C. — and co-author of the National Wildlife Federation’s report — calls this emotional reaction “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” a term she coined to describe the mental anguish that results from preparing for the worst, before it actually happens.
“It’s an intense preoccupation with thoughts we cannot get out of our minds,” Van Susteren says. And for some, it’s a preoccupation that extends well outside of the office. “Everyday irritations as parents and spouses have their place, they’re legitimate,” she says. “But when you’re talking about thousands of years of impacts and species, giving a shit about whether you’re going to get the right soccer equipment or whether you forgot something at school is pretty tough.”
October 30, 2014
Of course you can change minds about climate. I know because I’ve produced a series of videos debunking climate denial, and continue to get feedback that they turn people around. There is however, a school of thought that maintains the workings of the brain are such that, once people are settled in their views, they are all but incapable of anything but robotic motivated reasoning, based on whatever their genetic programming might be.
Chris Mooney’s book “The Republican Brain” is sometimes cited as evidence for this view.
That’s why it’s interesting he has written this in his new Wash Post blog.
Chris Mooney in the Washington Post Wonkblog:
It’s no secret that certain political worldviews prevent people from accepting the science of global warming.
And it’s not just that conservative and pro-free market beliefs are strongly correlated with dismissal of climate science. Get this: Conservatives who are more scientifically literate, or better at math, are even less likely than their ideological compatriots to accept global warming. That’s how powerful ideology can be — and such findings have often been used to call into question whether educational initiatives can really make any difference when it comes to hot-button scientific issues like climate.
A new study just out in the journal Climatic Change, however, suggests education may work after all.
Kathryn Stevenson and her colleagues at North Carolina State University studied a sample of 378 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in North Carolina, administering questionnaires that assessed their level of scientific knowledge about climate change, their degree of acceptance of mainstream climate science (the idea that humans are causing global warming), and also how ideologically “individualistic” — a worldview that emphasizes freedom and free markets, and that is very skeptical of government regulation — they were.
And they produced a result that reversed prior findings: In middle school “individualists,” as their level of scientific knowledge about global warming increased, so did their acceptance of the idea that it is caused by humans. In fact, the knowledge-acceptance relationship was stronger in these young individualists than it was among kids who had a disposition toward communitarianism — an ideological view that is best captured in Hillary Clinton’s famous phrase “it takes a village,” and that emphasizes our co-dependency in society, rather than the importance of individual freedom and initiative.
October 29, 2014
Everywhere we look, we can see the hinge of history swinging away from climate denial, and a global wake up on where we are.
The “Talk Radio Industry” has been almost completely dominated by those angry loud voices who adamantly deny climate change, ranging from attacking the science itself, the scientists, the scientific consensus, and my favorite; the “global hoax” theory. These talk radio hosts read from the same script written by “Think Tanks” funded by Big Oil which launched a massive Media and PR campaign to “confuse the American public” on the science two decades ago. They succeeded and “talk radio” played a key role in their success.
Here’s the problem: until the American Public understands how high the stakes are, how small the window is, and that the solutions are “here and now” too, we are headed toward a future that is not fit for survival as we know it. It’s late, but it’s not too late. More extremes are on the way but we can avoid the nightmare scenerio!
The idea is ambitious, but if Nancy can generate adequate funding from this effort, there is an open door at a flagship station, WPWC 1480 AM located in Washington DC, and a 4 to 6 pm time slot — afternoon drive time, with the idea of eventually shooting for an XM radio slot.
I’ve contributed to Nancy’s effort with the “ask” video above, and, if the idea goes, may have some input into the day to day broadcasts – so I say, if not now, when?
Skinner also is concerned about increased heavy precipitation events and how they’re going to affect Michigan’s agriculture industry. If California continues on its path of extreme drought, she said, Michigan may have to ramp up its agricultural output. But with more extreme precipitation events, which the recent National Climate Assessment forecasts for the Midwest, topsoil could be eroded, making it difficult for Michigan to achieve greater agricultural production.
“We have to get with the scientists and think about how we deal with drainage … so that we are able to step up the production of agriculture to meet the needs of the country,” she said.
Skinner first became interested in environmental issues when her sister-in-law died of melanoma in the early 1990s at 32 years old. At that time, the hole in the ozone layer was growing rapidly, a factor her doctor said could have contributed to the cancer diagnosis. So, Skinner began to research the hole, eventually reading Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance in 1993.
After the Great Midwestern floods of 1993, Skinner worked with President Bill Clinton’s White House to develop a team of federal agencies and architects that rebuilt two communities affected by the floods in Missouri and Illinois on higher ground, so that they wouldn’t be destroyed if the kind of flooding seen in 1993 happened again.
Skinner ran for Senate in Illinois in 2004, but ended up losing to then state-senator Barack Obama.
October 29, 2014
New climate theme ad from Tom Steyer’s Next Gen group.
I’m told it was to appear on a world series broadcast. Not a baseball fan, so don’t know, but it’s getting a lot of traffic online,
Narrator, Woody Harrelson, Director, Darren Aronofsky.
I have a problem with the sound, where Harrelson says “..they tell us climate change is a hoax..” — it’s a bit muffled, and I lost the meaning on the first listening.
See what you think.
October 29, 2014
Technology leapfrog in progress.
A study of 55 nations — including China, Brazil, South Africa, Uruguay and Kenya — found that they’ve installed a combined 142 gigawatts from 2008 to 2013. The 143 percent growth in renewables in those markets compares with an 84 percent rate in wealthier nations, which installed 213 megawatts, according to a report released today by Climatescope.
The boom in renewables is often made for economic reasons, Ethan Zindler, a Washington-based Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst, said in an interview. An island nation like Jamaica, where wholesale power costs about $300 a megawatt-hour, could generate electricity from solar panels for about half as much. Similarly, wind power in Nicaragua may be half as expensive as traditional energy.
“Clean energy is the low-cost option in a lot of these countries,” Zindler said by telephone. “The technologies are cost-competitive right now. Not in the future, but right now.”
Even as more than 300 million people still wait for electricity in India, Dharnai in Bihar declared itself energy-independent today with the launch of Greenpeace’s solar-powered micro-grid. The 100 kilowatt (kW) micro-grid currently provides quality electricity to a population of more than 2200 in Dharnai village of Jehanabad district in Bihar.
“We had tried everything in the book to get electricity for the last 30 years. But we haven’t seen a single speck of hope. While India was growing leaps and bounds, we were stuck here with kerosene lamps and expensive diesel generators. But now I can proudly say that Dharnai is a leader in innovation. We have established our identity as an energy-self-sufficient village and can compete with the country in its race to growth,” said Kamal Kishore a resident of Dharnai.
The solar powered micro-grid is a comprehensive, first of its kind enterprise that provides electricity to more than 400 households and 50 commercial establishments. This includes 70 kW for electricity generation and 30 kW for 10 solar powered water pumping systems of three horsepower each. The 100 kW micro-grid also takes care of 60 street lights, energy requirements of two schools, one health centre, one Kisan Training Centre and 50 commercial establishments. It gives the village the mandate to not just a better life but also an ambition.