Recommended Video: Climate Science Rundown by John Schellnhuber

I this week attended the European Commission’s stakeholder conference on the 2015 climate agreement. It didn’t yield much news on the 2015 issue, but got kicked off with an excellent overview of the current state of climate science by Prof. Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, a little preview of the IPCC’s next assessment report that will come out this year and next. The whole event can be watched on video here, Schellnhuber starts a few minutes into the video, his presentation is about half an hour long. Below are some notes I took.

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Harsh Winter Was Predicted By Climate Scientists, Seems Connected to Arctic Sea Ice Loss

Last summer, I saved this Guardian article for future use. It reported that climate scientists were predicting harsh winters due to the decreasing Arctic sea ice. 2012 saw a record low in Arctic sea ice area, 50% below the long-term average. Sea ice volume had even decreased by 80%. This winter’s annual maximum extent of Arctic sea ice was the sixth-lowest on record.

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Must-Watch: TV Weather Presenter Turns Forecast Into Climate Change Talk

Apparently, a TV weather presenter recently went off script and put the current extreme weather events into their climate change context (which many media reports are failing to do). Some excerpts:

We’re heading into the 329th consecutive month with the global temperature above the 20th century average.

This week, satellites measured the smallest area of Arctic sea ice coverage in recorded history. That’s 4,000,000 square kilometres of ice missing since the 1980s. Where did it go? That’s bigger than India! And it’s happening so quickly, some researchers are now forecasting a summer with no Arctic ice in the ocean within ten years. So instead of a bright white sheet reflecting sunlight back into space that means dark water sucking up even more heat, making it melt faster and faster.

Incidentally, the BBC just quoted ice scientist Peter Wadhams as saying that the increased absorption of the sun’s rays is “the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man”.

The US National Snow and Ice Data Center has daily updates on the ongoing meltdown and some rather illustrative graphics.

Talk about Stark Contrast – American Meteorological Society and Paul Ryan on Climate Change

I saw two interesting statements on climate change from the USA today. The first one is brand new, an update of the American Meteorological Society’s information statement on climate change, “based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and … consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding”. I excerpt some of the highlights below, adding some headlines and comments.

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New California Government Website Takes on Climate Deniers

As so often on environmental issues, California is far ahead of most of the USA in combating climate change. The state has done what the federal government has failed to do, legislated a legally binding emission reduction target for 2020 and introduced a raft of measures to achieve it. As part of its efforts it has now launched a new website, “Climate Change. Just the Facts”. Most of the texts are very short, just pointing out some key facts and giving references for further reading, which hopefully means that more people are going to read them.

Climate change facts include:

  • 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and human-caused.
  • Many of those who publicly doubt climate change have actually little or no expertise in climate science.
  • Many of them are funded by fossil fuel companies, just as the tobacco industry funded people who claimed that second-hand smoke was safe. As a leaked tobacco industry memo from the 1960s said, “Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public.”

The website also debunks some of the most common claims of climate deniers. And it’s not just some government website, according to the LA Times governor Jerry Brown himself is publicly putting his weight behind this effort. And this whole effort is in stark contrast to something I read just yesterday in Joe Romm’s new book. Apparently the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy wanted to launch a robust public defence of the science of climate change. But the proposal was swiped off the desk by the communications people. Instead, the White House tried to get a climate change bill adopted without actually talking very much about climate change.

Related Posts:

The Real Climate Hoax

Monty Python, Shakespeare and Climate Science

Bill McKibben Urges Anti-Apartheid-Style Divestment Campaign Against Fossil Fuel Industry

“We are not built to memorise lists, or unrelated facts. We are built to remember narrative.”

This is a great TEDx video on how to communicate effectively.

TEDxMosesBrownSchool – Bill Harley – Stories Out Loud

Stories is how we make sense of our lives… Stories is how we assign meaning.

If something doesn’t make sense to us, it means, we don’t see the story in it. We don’t see a pattern.

I’m not talking just about literature and English.   I’m talking about history and astrophysics and biochemistry and law and mathematics.

All of those things are best explained through story. Because “story” is how we are reminded, and how we remember.   If we want it to be memorable, it must be a story.

We are not built to memorise lists, or unrelated facts. We are built to remember narrative. So try this the next time you are giving a lecture or a talk or standing in front of a bunch of people: Stop in the middle of your offering of facts or your closely-reasoned argument, and say “Let me tell you a little story.”

And here’s a great example how to tell stories about climate change: geoscientist Richard Alley turns the “escalator” into a story of how the planet has been getting cooler all his life.

How to talk to an OSTRICH: “Global Warming Stopped in 1998!”

A 1981 Temperature Projection Has Turned Out to Have Been A Good Prediction

One of climate skeptics’ favourite arguments is that climate models are unreliable and that you can’t really predict what’s going to happen. Two of RealClimate’s contributors have now dug up a projection by James Hansen et al. from 1981 and compared it to what actually happened. The result: the agreement is quite good, and it actually underestimated the actual warming.

To conclude, a projection from 1981 for rising temperatures in a major science journal, at a time that the temperature rise was not yet obvious in the observations, has been found to agree well with the observations since then, underestimating the observed trend by about 30%, and easily beating naive predictions of no-change or a linear continuation of trends. It is also a nice example of a statement based on theory that could be falsified and up to now has withstood the test. The “global warming hypothesis” has been developed according to the principles of sound science.

Carbon map infographic: a new way to see the Earth move

This is a really handy tool to visualise some of the conundrums of international climate policy.

How can you map the world to show global data in an immediately clear way? How can you show two datasets at once to see how they compare? Kiln, a partnership of Guardian writer Duncan Clark and developer Robin Houston has come up with this beautiful new take on the globe. Watch the animated intro or click on the topics and see the map move before your eyes. Adding shading lets you compare two datasets to see how they relate – so you can see clearly how poorest countries have the fastest growing populations but the lowest emissions.

via Carbon map infographic: a new way to see the Earth move | News | guardian.co.uk.

The Real Climate Hoax

The Sacramento Bee recently ran an eloquent op-ed on what the real climate change hoax is and who is being fooled that is worth quoting at length.

We are scientists who agree with critics such as Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., that there is a climate change “hoax” being perpetrated on the American people.

We just don’t agree on what the hoax is and who is being fooled.

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Klimafakten.de: Vahrenholt zitiert falsch

Klimafakten.de, eine deutsche Website, die den “Argumenten” der Klimaskeptiker den Sachstand der Wissenschaft gegenüber stellt, hat Vahrenholts Medienschlager “Die kalte Sonne” unter die Lupe genommen. Dass das Buch nichts mit dem Stand der Wissenschaft zu tun hat und Rosinenpickerei betreibt, war von Anfang an klar. Laut Klimafakten.de kommt aber noch hinzu, dass oft die zitierten Forscher und die Fußnoten, die zum Beleg angegeben sind, überhaupt nicht Vahrenholts Thesen stützen:

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