skullglasses

There is a cottage industry online of over-the-top predictions of imminent human extinction from climate change – something I always have pushed back on.

To those that warn of imminent human extinction, I say, “We’re not getting off that easy.”

Meaning, we’re actually going to have to deal with and solve this problem, and to a degree that we don’t – live with and adapt to the consequences.

A new piece in New York Magazine follows this playbook – which is unfortunate, because a sense of hopelessness is not what we need to solve this problem, and plays nicely into the hands of deniers like the Koch Brothers.

A sampling:

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

Michael Mann has a timely take this morning.

Michael Mann PhD on Facebook:

Since this New York Magazine article (“The Uninhabitable Earth”) is getting so much play this morning, I figured I should comment on it, especially as I was interviewed by the author (though not quoted or mentioned).

I have to say that I am not a fan of this sort of doomist framing. It is important to be up front about the risks of unmitigated climate change, and I frequently criticize those who understate the risks. But there is also a danger in overstating the science in a way that presents the problem as unsolvable, and feeds a sense of doom, inevitability and hopelessness.

The article argues that climate change will render the Earth uninhabitable by the end of this century. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The article fails to produce it.

The article paints an overly bleak picture by overstating some of the science. It exaggerates for example, the near-term threat of climate “feedbacks” involving the release of frozen methane (the science on this is much more nuanced and doesn’t support the notion of a game-changing, planet-melting methane bomb. It is unclear that much of this frozen methane can be readily mobilized by projected warming: http://www.realclimate.org/…/2012/01/much-ado-about-methane/).

Also, I was struck by erroneous statements like this one referencing “satellite data showing the globe warming, since 1998, more than twice as fast as scientists had thought.”

That’ just not true. The study in question simply showed that
one particular satellite temperature dataset that had tended to show *less* warming that the other datasets, has now been brought in line with the other temperature data after some problems with that dataset were dealt with.

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Or is it “tinkle down”?

Ben Santer is one of the world’s most accomplished atmospheric experts. His response to our current crisis – stand up and speak truth to power.  This recent piece in the Washington Post is a perfect example of his aggressive communication effort.

Washington Post:

I’ve been a mountaineer for most of my life. Mountains are in my blood. In my early 20s, while climbing in France, I fell into a crevasse on the Milieu Glacier, at the start of the normal route on the Aiguille d’Argentiere. Remarkably, I was unhurt. From the grip of the banded ice, I saw a thin slit of blue sky 120 feet above me. The math was simple: Climb 120 feet. If I reached that slit of blue sky, I would live. If I didn’t, I’d freeze to death in the cold and dark.

Now, more than 40 years later, it feels like I’m in a different kind of darkness — the darkness of the Trump administration’s scientific ignorance. This is just as real as the darkness of the Milieu Glacier’s interior and just as life-threatening. This time, I’m not alone. The consequences of this ignorance affect every person on the planet.

Imagine, if you will, that you spend your entire professional life trying to do one thing to the best of your ability. In my case, that one thing is to study the nature and causes of climate change. You put in a long apprenticeship. You spend years learning about the climate system, computer models of climate and climate observations. You start filling a tool kit with the statistical and mathematical methods you’ll need for analyzing complex data sets. You are taught how electrical engineers detect signals embedded in noisy data. You apply those engineering insights to the detection of a human-caused warming signal buried in the natural “noise” of Earth’s climate. Eventually, you learn that human activities are warming Earth’s surface, and you publish this finding in peer-reviewed literature.

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Have Drone, Will Travel

July 10, 2017

After a successful fundraiser this spring, I am off to Greenland, flying tomorrow.

Our “Windsled Project” is already completed, and I’ll be debriefing ice chemist Ross Edwards after I get back.  If all goes well, there may be further activity on that front in coming campaigns.

One great new addition to my kit this year will be a Mavic drone, which I’ve been test flying locally – see above footage from dunes near Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan.

My first stop will be Ilulissat, where I hope to get some good shots of the ice that pours off of the world’s fastest flowing ice stream. Then on to Kangerlussuaq, where I’ll stay at the International Science Support facility, and wait to catch up with Rutger’s Glacier Hydrologist Asa Rennermalm, who has kindly invited me to hang with her team at a very interesting place on the ice edge, called Camp 660.
This is an ideal setting for the drone, as there is a wide variety of terrain, and even wildlife in the area.

Fingers crossed I don’t dump the drone in the drink, or down a crevasse. In any case, hope to come back with some updated info from the Northern Hemisphere’s climate ground zero.

Still time to contribute if you missed it in May.
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“They” want us to believe the Earth is round. And Warming.
Thank God for the internet.

Consider parallels to the climate denial movement.

The video above has 42k+ views. Head vise warning.

Denver Post:

Every Tuesday at 6 p.m., three dozen Coloradans from every corner of the state assemble in the windowless back room of a small Fort Collins coffee shop. They have met 16 times since March, most nights talking through the ins and outs of their shared faith until the owners kick them out at closing.

They have no leaders, no formal hierarchy and no enforced ideology, save a common quest for answers to questions about the stars. Their membership has slowly swelled in the past three years, though persecution and widespread public derision keep them mostly underground. Many use pseudonyms, or only give first names.

“They just do not want to talk about it for fear of reprisals or ridicule from co-workers,” says John Vnuk, the group’s founder who lives in Fort Collins.

He is at the epicenter of a budding movement, one that’s coming for your books, movies, God and mind. They’re thousands strong — perhaps one in every 500 — and have proponents at the highest levels of science, sports, journalism and arts.

They call themselves Flat Earthers. Because they believe Earth — the blue, majestic, spinning orb of life — is as flat as a table.

And they want you to know. Because it’s 2017.

“This is a new awakening,” Vnuk says with a spark in his earth-blue eyes. “Some will accept it, some won’t. But love it or hate it, you can’t ignore Flat Earth.”

The Fort Collins group — mostly white and mostly male, college-age to septuagenarian — touts itself as the first community of Flat Earthers in the United States. Sister groups have since spawned in Boston, New York, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Chicago.

In Colorado, Ptolemaic-science revivalists have lofty ambitions: raising $6,000 to put up a billboard along Interstate 25 broadcasting their worldview. A GoFundMe site quickly raised more than $400 but has recently stalled. Anyone can contribute funds or submit billboard ideas, and the group has promised $100 to the winning submitter.

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From a June 6, 2017 talk.

The Verge:

Elon Musk said that the first production unit of the ultra-anticipated Tesla Model 3 would be coming this week, and here it is. The Tesla CEO posted two photos of the vehicle to Twitter late on Saturday night.

Musk has said that the first 30 Model 3 customers will receive their cars at a party on the 28th. Production is expected to grow to 100 cars in August, more than 1,500 by September, and then 20,000 by December.

It looks like this car is heading straight to Musk’s garage. Tesla board member Ira Ehrenpreis was the first to put down his deposit, but apparently gave the rights for the first production vehicle to Musk as a 46th birthday present.

Below, Amory Lovins on the impact of the EV revolution.

Raw Story:

Speaking to over 12,000 environmental activists in Hamburg, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced plans for a global environmental summit in San Francisco next year, telling the crowd that President Donald Trump “doesn’t speak” for America.

According to the LA Times, Brown spoke at the Global Citizen Festival Hamburg while Trump was in Poland on Thursday, prior to the G-20 Summit.

Noting Trump’s plans to withdraw from the Paris environmental accords, the California governor lashed out at the president, saying his state will take the lead in fighting climate change.

“It’s hard to grasp the mortal danger that climate change represents,” Brown explained. “I believe that California, New York, France and Germany and the other countries — we have to get our act together, strengthen our commitment and bring as many nations along as we can.”

In a video posted to YouTube, Brown took on Trump and said he does not speak for and reflect the desires on almost 70 percent of Americans who want the government to be more “aggressive” in taking on climate change — not roll back protections.

“It’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change,” Brown stated. “Yes, I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America. We in California and in states all across America believe it’s time to act, it’s time to join together and that’s why at this climate action summit we’re going to get it done.”

Governor Brown is one of many who, in the absence of courageous leadership at the top of the Free World, has taken up the mantle, and the gauntlet in defense of truth. See clip from his State of the State a few months ago. Read the rest of this entry »