Above, CBS News has a series called Climate Diaries, which is a long overdue serious attempt at climate reporting. This installment covers antarctic ice as measured by NASA’s Icebridge project.
Installment one above is ok, but I have a problem with the takeaway at 2:55, which indicates ice is melting at x rate, and notes “…at that rate, Antarctica alone could cause as much as 6 inches of sea level rise this century..” — without pointing out that scientists aren’t concerned about 6 inches, they’re concerned because that rate is accelerating, and that the historical recored shows ice can move very quickly, and because studies can’t rule out a rise of 6 feet – or more – in that same amount of time.

Unfortunately, for much of the audience, the 6 inch number is all they’ll take away, and are then easy prey to the “climate scientists are alarmist” memes.
Journalists, even well intentioned ones, are often some of the least insightful about the dynamics of communication, and how their work is absorbed and integrated in the info-sphere.

Part 2 is a little better, at least mentions the acceleration, but not its implications.



Columbia Journalism Review:

THE FEROCITY OF HURRICANE MICHAEL came into view on Thursday as images of devastation filtered out of the Florida panhandle. Stories on the storm’s trail of ruin appear on the front pages of today’s New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. In a helicopter above Mexico City, Florida, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin captured footage of a city flattened by Michael’s powerful winds.

Reports on the immediate aftermath are vital to understanding the storm’s impact, but all of those mentioned above failed to include any mention of climate change. This is particularly disappointing because, just days before Michael made landfall, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report with a dismal assessment of current global conditions and a warning that the future, soon approaching, is much more dire than previously feared.

Climate scientists are cautious not to directly link rising sea levels and warming temperatures to any individual storm, but a basic theory holds: warmer water and air, along with rising sea levels, will lead to storms of greater intensity. Even though a straight line between climate change and Michael cannot yet be drawn (researchers will later be able to model the actual intensity of the storm compared to computer generated models), coverage of major storms that fails to address profound environmental problems fails to provide audiences with a full picture. Read the rest of this entry »

One of climate change’s most terrifying and heart breaking effects is species extinction.

Washington Post:

Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

In 2014, an international team of biologists estimated that, in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had decreased by 45 percent. In places where long-term insect data are available, mainly in Europe, insect numbers are plummeting. A study last year showed a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the past few decades in German nature preserves.

The latest report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that this startling loss of insect abundance extends to the Americas. The study’s authors implicate climate change in the loss of tropical invertebrates.

“This study in PNAS is a real wake-up call — a clarion call — that the phenomenon could be much, much bigger, and across many more ecosystems,” said David Wagner, an expert in invertebrate conservation at the University of Connecticut who was not involved with this research. He added: “This is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read.”

Bradford Lister, a biologist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, has been studying rain forest insects in Puerto Rico since the 1970s. If Puerto Rico is the island of enchantment — “la isla del encanto” — then its rain forest is “the enchanted forest on the enchanted isle,” he said. Birds and coqui frogs trill beneath a 50-foot-tall emerald canopy. The forest, named El Yunque, is well-protected. Spanish King Alfonso XII claimed the jungle as a 19th-century royal preserve. Decades later, Theodore Roosevelt made it a national reserve, and El Yunque remains the only tropical rain forest in the National Forest system.

“We went down in ’76, ’77 expressly to measure the resources: the insects and the insectivores in the rain forest, the birds, the frogs, the lizards,” Lister said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do we have to do this again? We do.

Due to high demand from journalists and others as to the “Sure, the climate is changing but how much is due to humans?” – talking point rolled out in back to back interviews from Donald Trump and Senator Marco Rubio – experts Stefan Rahmstorf and Andrew Dessler have offered some tweeted primers.

Stefan Rahmstorf:

How do we know global warming is human-caused? Because we know where the extra energy that heats our planet is coming from. Through changes in the energy budget of Earth – that’s how much radiation comes in, how much goes out. The change in this is called “radiative forcing”.

Possible causes of radiative forcing: changes in solar activity, in volcanic activity or greenhouse gases. The latest US Climate Assessment shows how much each of these contributed. See The human contribution is about 100%. That is: all of it.


How do we know the rising CO2 in the atmosphere is 100% human-caused? Because we’ve added about twice as much fossil CO2 to the atmosphere as is needed to explain the observed increase! The rest that’s not in the atmosphere was taken up by forests and the ocean.

Andrew Dessler:

We do know that the observed warming of the climate system is extremely likely to be caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Read the rest of this entry »


Nice tweet from Oceanographer Kris Karnauskas, showing how efficiently Michael sucked up and utilized excess ocean heat to rip up Florida.
Below, my video of Kevin Trenberth’s team, who analyzed that process during Harvey, last year.

UPDATE: From Twitter, Gulf is now back to bathwater warm, as of October 12.


In 2005, some climate deniers made a 10k bet with a climate modeler that “solar cooling” would lower Earth’s temperature in the decade now passed.

Newsflash: Climate deniers also deadbeats.

See above for my latest debunker on the “Sun is cooling” bunkum.

Nature, 17 August, 2005:

Solar physicists make $10,000 wager with climate modeller.

A British climate modeller has finally persuaded global-warming sceptics to wager money on their contrarian predictions about climate change.

James Annan, who is based at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Yokohama, has agreed a US$10,000 bet with Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev, two solar physicists who argue that global temperatures are driven by changes in the Sun’s activity and will fall over the next decade. The bet, which both sides say they are willing to formalize in a legal document, came after other climate sceptics refused to wager money.


Annan began his quest last winter after hearing Richard Lindzen, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who questions the extent to which human activities are influencing climate, say he was willing to bet that global temperatures will drop over the next 20 years. “A pay-off at retirement age would be a nice top-up to my pension,” says Annan.

But no wager was ever agreed. Annan says that Lindzen wanted odds of 50-to-1 against falling temperatures: this meant that Annan would pay out $10,000 if temperatures dropped, but receive only $200 if they rose. In total, Annan says he tried and failed to agree terms with seven sceptics.

Other potential climate gamblers have drawn a blank with their attempts to enter similar bets with climate-change sceptics. In May, environmental activist George Monbiot challenged climate sceptic Myron Ebell to a £5,000 (US$9,000) wager live on BBC radio. Ebell, a global-warming specialist at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think-tank in Washington DC, declined, saying he has four children to put through university and so does not “want to take risks”.

But Annan’s search ended with Mashnich and Bashkirtsev, who are based at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics in Irkutsk, Russia. They say that global surface air temperatures closely correlate with the size and number of sunspots. Sunspot levels follow regular patterns and the Sun is expected to be in a less active phase over the next few decades, leading Mashnich and Bashkirtsev to predict a drop in temperature.

Both sides have agreed to compare the average global surface temperature between 1998 and 2003 with that between 2012 and 2017, as defined by the records of the US National Climatic Data Center. If the temperature drops, Annan will pay Mashnich and Bashkirtsev $10,000 in 2018, with the same sum going the other way if the temperature rises.

Guardian, 18 August, 2005:

Two climate change sceptics, who believe the dangers of global warming are overstated, have put their money where their mouth is and bet $10,000 that the planet will cool over the next decade.

The Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev have agreed the wager with a British climate expert, James Annan.

The pair, based in Irkutsk, at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics, believe that global temperatures are driven more by changes in the sun’s activity than by the emission of greenhouse gases. They say the Earth warms and cools in response to changes in the number and size of sunspots. Most mainstream scientists dismiss the idea, but as the sun is expected to enter a less active phase over the next few decades the Russian duo are confident they will see a drop in global temperatures.

James Annan’s blog – October 15, 2018:

You may be wondering what had happened with this. As you will recall, some time ago I arranged a bet with two Russian solar scientists who had predicted that the world was going to cool down. The terms of the bet were very simple, we would compare the global mean average surface temperature between 1998-2003 and 2012-17 (according to NCDC), and if the latter period was warmer, I would win $10,000 from them, and if it was cooler, they would win the same amount. See (above) for some of the news coverage at the time. Read the rest of this entry »

As I mentioned last week, ballooning climate disasters are putting pressure on the Insurance industry.
And, it turns out, ballooning the deficit, as well.

The Hill:

“Disasters aren’t anomalies — they are unfortunately a sure thing, and they are getting more costly every year,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

She says funding to pay for the disasters should be part of a regular budget process, or the nation will unsustainably add to its debt.

Congress approved $15 billion last September to help pay for the damages from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The following month, after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, it approved another $36.5 billion. It went on to approve about $90 billion of aid in additional aid in February.

The total of $140 billion over a six-month period is nearly triple the amount appropriated for the Department of Homeland Security, and about double the Education Department’s budget.

It also amounts to 18 percent of the total deficit for fiscal year 2018.

Conservatives have long argued that disaster relief should be offset with spending cuts.

“Hurricane aid shouldn’t be added to the debt. That’s akin to going to the Emergency Room after an injury, putting the charges on a credit card, and then pretending that the Visa bill is never going to arrive,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the subject.

But there are several reasons that the problem is likely to only get worse.

The first is that natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Harvey, Irma and Maria were three of the top five most costly hurricanes in the nation’s history, and all of them occurred in just one year.

From 1980 to 2017, there were an average of 6 events each year that wreaked over $1 billion in damage, adjusted for inflation. But from 2013 to 2017, the average was 11.6 events per year. As of last week, 2018 already saw 11 weather events that cost over $1 billion.