Your moment of Zen.

How can you have a conversation on the solution to climate change if one side does not even believe it’s a problem?

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The scorching global temps of the first quarter of the year have a lot of scientists scratching their heads and using less-than-reticent language.  Whereas a couple months ago we were pretty sure the impending end of El Nino, and possible oncoming La Nina, might make 2016 temps a tough call till at least fall – now some scientists are saying we may already have seen enough to look for a new record.

Our best take on what to expect is that the current El Nino spike will taper off in coming months, but the boost has been so robust, that the course may already be set.

Gavin Schmidt of NASA tweeted a graph showing how the first three months of Land Ocean Temperature Index relate to end-of-year annual temps.

More Trenberth below:

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Kevin Trenberth in The Conversation:

According to a new report published in “Nature” on April 20, 2016 by Patrick Egan and Megan Mullin, weather conditions have “improved” for the vast majority of Americans over the past 40 years. This, they argue, explains why there has been little public demand so far for a policy response to climate change.

Egan and Mullin do note that this trend is projected to reverse over the course of the coming century, and that Americans will become more concerned about climate change as they perceive more negative impact from weather. However, they estimate that such a shift may not occur in time to spur policy responses that could avert catastrophic impacts.

However, when we consider what Americans “prefer” with respect to weather, it is important to consider all variations in the weather – across hours, days and especially the extremes – rather than simply looking at annual averages.

After all, no one experiences long-term average weather, but we do increasingly experience weather extremes and their impacts on our health, safety and well-being.

At the National Center for Atmospheric Research, my colleagues and I have conducted numerous studies analyzing how climate change is altering regional, national and global weather patterns.

Many of those studies focus on extreme events such as floods, hurricanes, heat waves and droughts because these are the weather phenomena that have major impacts and costs: they destroy crops, wreck infrastructure and threaten lives and property.

Analyzing the impact of climate change by focusing on average weather patterns greatly underplays climate change impacts and may make Americans dangerously complacent about how climate change is already affecting our lives.

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Impacts of climate extremes

Egan and Mullin claim that “80 percent of Americans live in counties that are experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago.” They attribute this change to rising winter temperatures paired with summers that have not become “markedly more uncomfortable.” The result, they conclude, is that weather has shifted toward a temperate year-round climate that Americans have been demonstrated to prefer.

For their investigation of temperature trends, the authors looked only at the average of temperatures reported in the months of January and July. For precipitation trends, the authors looked only at annual precipitation totals and the number of days on which precipitation occurs annually.

But people don’t live in annual or monthly averages!

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One state, at least, has a proposal to put a price on carbon.

The proposal in question is not the clean revenue-neutral proposal, as advocated by Citizen’s Climate Lobby and other groups. Under that idea, revenues would not go to the government, but would pass directly thru to taxpayers in the form of a rebate.
In Washington’s proposal, the revenues go to lower other taxes.

Perhaps due to the proposed allocation of revenues,  strange alliance of disparate groups has risen to  oppose the initiative.  In addition, can a “one state” solution have an impact in a 50 state economy, and a diverse international community?

The report above raises several questions about whether this is the right approach.

 

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Above, James Hansen’s recent statement to me re sea level rise.

No one is more deeply concerned about SLR than Hansen, and he has ventured some of the largest numbers we’ve seen for what the potential might be.  He does tell us that those numbers rest on certain assumptions:

“..Our record of precise knowledge of the changes in the mass of the ice sheets is rather short, it really began with the gravity satellite, which now has a record of only 12 years, but over that period the mass loss has increased rapidly …if it continues to double at the rate that it has in the last decade, then we could get, within 50  years, meter scale sea level rise, and you’d rapidly, within another one or  2 decades, get multimeter sea level rise. So that’s an enormous threat.”

So, multimeter sea level rise possible if his calculations are accurate, if his mechanism is real, and if the short record of accurate accounting is consistent decades into the future.
Those caveats should give us caution in assigning too much cred – yet – to the newest story on sea level being passed around.

Insurance Journal:

Think sea level rise will be moderate and something we can all plan for? Think again.

Sea levels could rise by much more than originally anticipated, and much faster, according to new data being collected by scientists studying the melting West Antarctic ice sheet – a massive sheet the size of Mexico.

Margaret Davidson, NOAA’s senior advisor for coastal inundation and resilience science and services, and Michael Angelina, executive director of the Academy of Risk Management and Insurance, offered their take on climate change data in a conference session titled “Environmental Intelligence: Quantifying the Risks of Climate Change.”

Davidson said recent data that has been collected but has yet to be made official indicates sea levels could rise by roughly 3 meters or 9 feet by 2050-2060, far higher and quicker than current projections. Until now most projections have warned of seal level rise of up to 4 feet by 2100.

These new findings will likely be released in the latest sets of reports on climate change due out in the next few years.

“The latest field data out of West Antarctic is kind of an OMG thing,” she said.

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Carbon Brief:

The passing of the winter peak signals the start of the melt season, where sea ice diminishes as temperatures rise through spring and into summer. Sea ice hits its lowest extent sometime in September or October. The record low for the summer minimum currently stands at 3.41m square kilometres, from 2012.

Speaking to Carbon Brief at EGU, Dr Marcel Nicolaus, a sea ice physicist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, says the 2016 summer could equal, or surpass, this record.

Sea ice conditions over the recent months are similar to those seen before the 2012 record, Nicolaus says. He identifies three main reasons why this year’s summer minimum could rival 2012:

“We did see a stronger melt last summer than usual, so we went into the winter in November with thinner ice than the previous years. We saw, due to the warming, less freezing and less build-up of ice mass [during winter]. And we do see a shift of secure ice towards the northern end of the Fram Strait of the Atlantic Ocean, where it’s very likely to be exported [away from the Arctic and into the North Atlantic] over the course of spring and summer.”

These reasons won’t guarantee a new record, Nicolaus adds, because sea ice melt also depends on the warmth and storminess of spring and summer – but they do boost the odds.

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CBS Evening News:

SAMSO, Denmark— It’s an out-of-the-way place that takes some getting to, but the little Danish island of Samso — a 20-mile-long squiggle of farms and tidy villages — is providing answers to some of the biggest questions facing our warming world.

Samso’s residents have already found ways to reduce their greenhouse gas output to effectively zero.

They haven’t done it using magical new technology, they’ve used what they have readily available; power from the wind, power from the sun and power from crop waste.

On Samso, it’s not just what they’ve done, it’s how they’ve done it that has caught the world’s attention.

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Sydney Morning Herald:

Scientists surveying the mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef say only 7 per cent of Australia’s environmental icon has been left untouched by the event.

The final results of plane and helicopter surveys by scientists involved in the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce has found that of the 911 reefs they observed, just 68 had escaped any sign of bleaching.

Overall, severe bleaching of between 60 and 100 per cent of coral was recorded on 316 reefs, almost all of them in the northern half of the barrier reef. Reefs in central and southern regions of the 2300 kilometre Great Barrier Reef have experienced more moderate to mild affects.

The mass bleaching event has been driven by significantly higher than average sea temperatures as a result of the current El Nino event, coupled with a long-term warming of the oceans due to climate change.

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