Story of the Week... Opinion of the Week... Legal Matters... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...Story of the Week... Hurricanes like Michael show why we can’t ignore climate change
The deadly storm came just days after a report on global warmingPeople walk through rubble after Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., on Saturday (Oct 13, 2018). (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
This past week was a grim one in climate history, by any measure.
First, an international group of scientists released a long-anticipated report (IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C) detailing in excruciating detail the extra damages we can expect unless we slam our foot on the fossil fuel brakes right now. Then, just a few days later, record-breaking Hurricane Michael came barreling out of the Gulf of Mexico with a late-breaking intensification that transformed the Florida Panhandle into a landscape straight out of a horror movie.
The fact that both events occurred within a few days of each other is pure coincidence, of course. But it does leave the feeling that Nature just put one or more planetary-scale exclamation marks on the main takeaway from the IPCC report: Act now to reduce emissions, or suffer the consequences!
Hurricanes like Michael show why we can’t ignore climate change, Perspective by Kim Cobb, Post Everything, Washington Post, Oct 14, 2018
Note: For more details about the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C see:
- IPCC Special Report on 1.5ºC by Gavin Schmidt, Real Climate, Oct 7, 2018
- IPCC 1.5°C Report: Planet Nearing Tipping Point by Staff, Climate Nexus,Oct 8, 2018
- Experts React to Historic IPCC Report on Limiting Warming to 1.5°C by Staff, Climate Nexus, Oct 8, 2018
- In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s special report on climate change at 1.5C by Staff, Carbon Brief, Oct 8, 2018
- In-depth: Scientists discuss key findings of the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C by Staff, Carbon Brief, Oct 10, 2018
Links to additional article and opinion pieces about the IPCC's Special Report are included in the 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #41 posted on this site yesterday.Opinion of the Week... Climate is not just changing – it is breaking down
Danger and destruction of global warming must trigger real modification of behaviour
Climate change or climate breakdown? Growth or wellbeing? Growth as development? Degrowth? Prosperity without growth? Climate capitalism or ecosocialism?
It matters hugely how this week’s news from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is framed in public debate. The most authoritative scientists tell us that unless global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times, the world faces extreme weather events, food shortages, wildfires, dying coral reefs, droughts, floods and poverty for hundreds of millions.
To avoid this outcome, the world economy needs a transformation of unprecedented speed and scale, involving far-reaching changes in society. We have only 12 years, they say, to achieve it by making huge strides towards eliminating greenhouse gases arising from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. The report underlines the qualitative difference between the 1.5- and 2-degree reductions previously seen as less stark. The case for radical action is reinforced by its finding that on present trends we are heading for more than a 3-degree increase by 2100 – catastrophic territory.
Climate is not just changing – it is breaking down, Opinion by Paul Gillespie, Irish Times, Oct 13, 2018Legal Matters... Trump Administration Launches Third Legal ‘Hail Mary’ to Halt Youth Climate Case
The youth climate case Juliana v. United States has survived numerous Trump administration appeals to stop it from advancing to trial. Photo credit: Robin Loznak
The Trump administration has filed another extraordinary appeal in its attempt to avoid a trial in the landmark youth-led climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States.
The government filed its third writ of mandamus petition to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay district court proceedings pending the resolution of a separate petition it plans to file with the Supreme Court next week. The Ninth Circuit denied the first two requests for a writ of mandamus—a rarely used and even more rarely approved judicial appeal that asks a higher court to overrule a lower one before the conclusion of a case—and the Supreme Court has already once denied a request by the federal government to halt discovery.
A writ of mandamus is usually granted only under extraordinary circumstances and is considered a legal last resort. The Ninth Circuit said after the first two requests that the government has not shown it would be meaningfully burdened by discovery or a trial.
The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 29 at U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore.
Julia Olson, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said there is nothing new in the government’s latest petition.
“To suggest that our government suffers harm greater than its citizens by having to participate in a trial when its youngest citizens bring legitimate claims of constitutional harm before our Article III courts flies in the face of democratic principles,” said Olson.;
Trump Administration Launches Third Legal ‘Hail Mary’ to Halt Youth Climate Case by Karen Savage, Climate Liability News, Oct 12, 2018Toon of the Week
Coming Soon on SkS...
- There's one key takeaway point from the latest IPCC report (Dana)
- SkS Analogy 15 - Ice Tea and Temperature Rise (Evan)
- Climate change and compassion fatigue (Kate)
- 1.5 Degree Climate Limit: Small Number; Huge Consequences (Climate Adam)
- New research this week (Ari)
- 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #42 (John Hartz)
- 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Weekly Digest #42 (John Hartz)
[To be added.]SkS Week in Review...
- 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #41 by John Hartz
- New research, October 1-7, 2018 by Ari Jokimäki
- Victims of Hurricane Michael voted for climate deniers by John Abraham (Climate Consensus - the 97%, Environment, Guardian)
- SkS Analogy 14 - Inertia and Inevitability by Evan & jg
- Next self-paced run of Denial101x starts on October 16 by BaebelW
- The Trump administration has entered Stage 5 climate denial by Dana Nuccitelli (Climate Consensus - the 97%, Environment, Guardian)
- 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #40 by John Hartz
The former president of Ireland has a new raison d’être: saving the planet. Yet, despite the dire warnings of this week’s IPCC report, she is surprisingly upbeat
‘Human rights has always been a struggle’ ... Mary Robinson in her office in Dublin. Photograph: Johnny Savage/Guardian
On the morning that the world’s leading climate scientists warn that the planet has until 2030 to avert a global warming catastrophe, Mary Robinson appears suitably sombre. She wears black shoes, black trousers and a black sweater and perches at the end of a long table at her climate justice foundation, headquartered in an austere, imposing Georgian building opposite Trinity College Dublin. The only dash of brightness is a multicoloured brooch on her lapel. “It symbolises the sustainable development goals,” she says. “It’s the one good emblem that the United Nations has produced, so I like to wear it.”
There seems little reason for cheer on this Monday. The landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just warned that urgent, unprecedented changes are needed to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C; even half a degree beyond this will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Donald Trump, rejecter of the Paris climate agreement, is riding high on the back of Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the US supreme court. Britain and the EU are consumed by Brexit Brazil is on course to elect a president who wants to open the Amazon to agribusiness. Closer to home, the Irish government is flunking its climate policy goals. Now, climate scientists warn that the clock ticks ever closer to midnight.
“Governments are not responding at all adequately to the stark reality that the IPCC is pointing to: that we have about 11 years to make really significant change,” says Robinson, sitting ramrod straight, all business. “This report is extraordinarily important, because it’s telling us that 2 degrees is not safe. It’s beyond safe. Therefore, we have to work much, much harder to stay at 1.5 degrees. I’ve seen what 1 degree is doing in more vulnerable countries ... villages are having to move, there’s slippage, there’s seawater incursion.”
Robinson sips a glass of water and sighs. “We’re in a bumpy time. We’re in a bad political cycle, particularly because the United States is not only not giving leadership, but is being disruptive of multilateralism and is encouraging populism in other countries.”
This could be the start of a depressing interview that concludes we should hitch a ride on Virgin Galactic’s first trip to space and try to stay there. But it turns out to be surprisingly upbeat. Despite the headlines, Robinson, who served as the UN secretary general’s special envoy on climate change after serving as the president of Ireland and the UN high commission for human rights, is hopeful.
She has anticipated the IPCC report by writing a book-cum-manifesto, Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future, published this week. It tells stories of farmers and activists, mostly women, who tackle climate change in Africa, Asia and the Americas. They are examples of positive change that Robinson thinks can help turn the tide.
“I don’t think as a human race that we can be so stupid that we can’t face an existential threat together and find a common humanity and solidarity to respond to it. Because we do have the capacity and the means to do it – if we have the political will.”
Mary Robinson on climate change: ‘Feeling “This is too big for me” is no use to anybody’ by Rory Carroll, Science, Guardian, Oct 12, 2018Links posted on Facebook
Sun Oct 7, 2018
- To Act on Climate Change, Play on by Marlene Cimons, Nexus Media, Sep 27, 2018
- By the Numbers: The Value of Tropical Forests in the Climate Change Equation by David Gibbs, Nancy Harris & Frances Seymour, World Resources Institute, Oct 4, 2018
- No, Wind Farms Are Not Causing Global Warming by Michael Marshall, Forbes, Oct 5, 2018
- How Arctic lakes accelerate permafrost carbon losses, Guest post by Ingmar Nitze, Guido Grosse, Thomas Schneider von Deimling & Katey Walter Anthony, Carbon Brief, Sep 6, 2018
- Charge €30 a tonne for CO2 to avoid catastrophic 4C warming by Ottmar Edenhofer & Johan Rockström, Environment, Guardian, Oct 5, 2018
- Tropical Storm Michael Headed Into the Gulf of Mexico by Jeff Masters, Category 6, Weather Underground, Oct 7, 2018
- Q&A: How ‘integrated assessment models’ are used to study climate change by Simon Evans & Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief, Oct 2, 2018
- Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It., Opinion by Auden Schendler & Andrew P Jones, Sunday Review, New York Times, Oct 6, 2018
- Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040 by Coral Davenport, Climate, New York Times, Oct 7, 2018
Mon Oct 8, 2018
- Great Barrier Reef faces dire threat with 2C global warming, UN report says by Adam Morton, Environment, Guardian, Oct 7, 2018
- Cycling city Copenhagen sprints to become first carbon-neutral capital by Lin Taylor, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Oct 5, 2018
- B.C.'s climate targets mean major changes for ordinary citizens by Bob Shaw, Vancouver Sun, Oct 4, 2018
- Florida declares emergency in 26 counties as Tropical Storm Michael approaches by Susannah Cullinane, CNN, Oct 8, 2018
- Climate change impacts worse than expected, global report warns by Stephen Leahy, Environment, National Geographic, Oct 7, 2018
- The Trump administration has entered Stage 5 climate denial by Dana Nuccitelli, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Environment, Guardian, Oct 8, 2018
- Germany's Angela Merkel no longer leading the charge on climate change by Jens Thurau, Deutsche Welle, Oct 8, 2018
- "Catastrophic" Effect of Climate Change on Mental Health Found in New Study by Sarah Sloat, Inverse, Oct 8, 2018
- Hurricane warnings issued as Michael strengthens and aims for Florida by Jason Samenow & Brian McNoldy, Capital Weather Gang, Washington Post, Oct 8. 2018
Tue Oct 9, 2018
- Final call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe' by Matt McGrath, Science & Energy, BBC News, Oct 8, 2018
- IEA: Bioenergy to lead growth in renewables over next five years by Jocelyn Timperley, Carbon Brief by Jocelyn Timperley, Carbon Brief, Oct 8, 2018
- Hurricane Michael takes aim at 300-mile Gulf Coast target by Susannah Cullinane and Jason Hanna, CNN, Oct 9, 2018
- Dire Climate Warning Lands With a Thud on Trump’s Desk by Mike Landler & Coral Davenport, Politics. New York Times, Oct 8, 2018
- Australian government backs coal in defiance of IPCC climate warning by Paul Karp, Australian News, Guardian, Oct 8, 2018
- Dutch Court Upholds Urgenda, Says Government Must Reduce Emissions by Ucilia Wang, Climate Liability News, Oct 9, 2018
- IPCC 1.5°C Report: Planet Nearing Tipping Point by Staff, Climate Nexus,Oct 8, 2018
- Experts React to Historic IPCC Report on Limiting Warming to 1.5°C by Staff, Climate Nexus, Oct 8, 2018
- Hurricane Michael is now a Category 3 storm and a day from the Gulf Coast by Jason Hanna & Susannah Cullinane, CNN, Oct 9, 2018
- As Storms Keep Coming, FEMA Spends Billions in ‘Cycle’ of Damage and Repair by Kevin Sack & John Schwartz, US, New York Times, Oct 8, 2018
Wed Oct 10, 2018
- Bolsonaro has made grim threats to the Amazon and its people by Fabiano Maisonnave, Climate Home, Oct 8, 2018
- Response to the IPCC 1.5°C Special Report Opinion by Kevin Anderson, Manchester News, Oct 8, 2018
- The Environmental Voter Project is organizing people to vote on climate by Chavo Bart, Yale Climate Connections, Oct 9, 2018
- Tampa Bay local governments join to combat climate change effects by Graig Pitman, Tampa Bay Times, Oct 5, 2018
- 37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming by Megan Darby & Sara Stefanini, Climate Home News, Oct 10, 2018
- Coal Is Killing the Planet. Trump Loves It., Opinion by Editorial Board, New York Times, Oct 8, 2018
- Climate disasters cause global economic losses to soar - UN by Michael Taylor, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Oct 10, 2018
- How to talk about hurricanes now by John D Sutter, Health, CNN, Oct 10, 2018
Thu Oct 11, 2018
- What does climate change really cost society? This lab is trying to find out by Emily Holden, Science, Guardian, Oct 10, 2018
- Poor countries urge Australia to honour Green Climate Fund commitments by Graham Readfearn, Environment, Guardian, Oct 10, 2018
- How to Understand the UN’s Dire New Climate Report by Robinson Meyer, Science, The Atlantic, Oct 9, 2018
- Hurricane Michael Could Do Billions of Dollars of Damage by Daniel Cusick, E&E News/Scientific American, Oct 10, 2018
- Michael’s final phase: A Mid-Atlantic deluge, from Charlotte to near Washington by Jason Samenow, Capital Weather Gang, Washington Post, Oct 11, 2018
- Next self-paced run of Denial101x starts on October 16 by BaebelW, Skeptical Science, Oct 9, 2018
- Victims of Hurricane Michael voted for climate deniers by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Environment, Guardian, Oct 11, 2018
- In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s special report on climate change at 1.5C by Staff, Carbon Brief, Oct 8, 2018
- Hurricane Michael: The Damage in Pictures by Morrigan McCarthy, New York Times, Oct 11, 2018
- Individual action won’t achieve 1.5℃ warming – social change is needed, as history shows by Matthew Adams, The Conversation US, Oct 10, 2018
Fri Oct 12, 2018
- Catholics urge action as UN report forecasts climate crisis in coming decades by Brian Roewe & Chris Herlinger, Environment Catholic Reporter, Oct 10, 2018
- Ecosocialists Believe the Only Way to Stop Climate Change Is to Abandon Capitalism by Kaleigh Rogers, Motherboard, Oct 10, 2018
- Can we quit coal in time? IPCC warns world has just 12 years to avoid climate change catastrophe by Angela Lavoipierre and Stephen Smiley, ABC News, Australia, Oct 11, 2018
- Michael's not done yet — path of destruction stretches north from Florida by Holly Yan & Emanuella Grinberg, CNN, Oct 12, 2018
- UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That. by David Wallis-Wells, Intelligencer, New York Magazine, Oct 10, 2018
- GOP senators from hurricane-ravaged states mock UN’s climate change warning by Joe Romm, Think Progress, Oct 11, 2018
- Climate politicking isn't working. We need climate civil disobedience, Opinion by Bill McKibben, Los Angeles Times, Oct 10, 2018
- Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible – if there is political will by Christina Figueres, Environment, Guardian, Oct 8, 2018
- The Hurricanes, and Climate-Change Questions, Keep Coming. Yes, They’re Linked. by Henry Fountain, Climate, New York Times, Oct 10, 2018
Sat Oct 13, 2018
- 'No time to mess around': Reef Foundation starts $400m donation drive by Peter Hannam, environment, Sydney Morning Herald, Oct 12, 2018
- Capturing CO2 From Air: To Keep Global Warming Under 1.5°C, Emissions Must Go Negative, IPCC Says, by Sabrina Shankman, Inside Climate News, Oct 12, 2018
- 10 ways to accelerate progress against climate change by Eliza Barclay & Umair Irfan, Energy & Environment, Vox, Oct 11, 2018
- Mary Robinson on climate change: ‘Feeling “This is too big for me” is no use to anybody’ by Rory Carroll, Science, Guardian, Oct 12, 2018
- We need some fire': climate change activists issue call to arms for voters by Oliver Milman, Environment, Guardian, Oct 12, 2018
- In-depth: Scientists discuss key findings of the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C by Staff, Carbon Brief, Oct 10, 2018
- Clean up climate change? It’s just good for business. by Steven Mufson, Brady Dennis & Chris Mooney. Business, Washington Post, Oct 12. 2018
- New research, October 1-7, 2018 by Ari Jokimäki, Skeptical Science, Oct 12, 2018
A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.Climate change
Temperature, precipitation, wind
Forcings and feedbacks
Atmospheric and oceanic circulation
Carbon and nitrogen cycles
Climate and the Global Famine of 1876-78 (open access)
Climate change communication
Other environmental issues
We know that climate change is making these storms stronger. The storms feed off of warm ocean waters, and those waters are much warmer now because of climate change. I have written about the science in more detail here and here. But basically, Michael strengthened because it passed over really warm waters. Waters that were hotter because of human-caused warming.
Predictably, the hurricane strengthened as it hit shore. As I write this, Michael is coming ashore and the pressure is still falling (low pressures in a hurricane signify a stronger storm). It appears that Michael may have the third-lowest pressure for a hurricane hitting the USA.
It is a wonder that a state like Florida, which will get pummeled by Michael, could vote for someone that denies climate change. Think of how backwards the situation is – the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has reportedly been banned from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming”. This policy reportedly went into effect when Florida elected a science denier, Rick Scott, to governor.
Rick Scott has been condemned by people in Florida for his backward stance. It is climate denial like his that has contributed to the suffering of residents in the state.
It’s not that my colleagues haven’t tried to help Governor Scott understand how his policies hurt his state. A few years ago, scientists met with him and urged him to take climate change seriously. He remained silent.
It isn’t that the local media hasn’t tried. Major newspapers have called upon Rick Scott to take action on climate change. But to little avail. Maybe it’s because Rick Scott invests in companies that oppose climate change regulations?
It isn’t that his political opponents haven’t tried. Recently, Florida Democrats petitioned Rick Scott to acknowledge climate change.
Fortunately, while Rick Scott is now running for Senate, he’s being challenged by Democrat Bill Nelson. He understands science and believes in facts. Nelson writes,
Climate change is real, and we must take action to protect ourselves. Denial of this scientific reality is simply not an option, especially in Florida.
Rick Scott isn’t the only politician from the state of Florida to reject science and diminish climate change. Senator Marco Rubio has as well.
Florida voters could put an end to this nonsense. In the current race for state Governor to succeed Scott, Republican candidate Ron DeSantis is ignoring science. He recently claimed that climate change is not an issue for states to mitigate. Say what?
Let’s hope Ron DeSantis loses. His opponent is Andrew Gillum, who is clear as day when he says,
Climate change is real, it is impacting Floridians directly, and we will not be silenced on the matter. When I’m Governor, we will not just talk about climate change — we will put Floridians to work to make our state more energy independent and resilient and transform our state into the Solar Capital of the United States!
But it’s not just Florida; there are other states getting hit by Hurricane Michael that are also led by climate deniers. For instance, Georgia will be hit by Hurricane Michael. One of the senators there, David Perdue, congratulated President Trump when he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. Georgia’s other Senator, Johnny Isakson also denies the science. He too supported President Trump’s reckless actions.
At the congressional district level, the denial continues. Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk was pleased when President Trump walked away from the Paris Agreement. His opponent, Flynn Broady trusts and understands science, however. His position could not be any clearer as he writes,
We have the technology and knowledge to develop and place into practice renewable energy sources, reduce carbon emissions, and move our energy needs away from carbon fuels. We owe it to the world to participate in the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol. As the leading industrial nation we must lead the effort.
Inertia is your friend … until it isn’t.Elevator Statement
Inertia delays the response …
But for each CO2 level there is a guaranteed response …
Be patient, the response is coming …
And when it finally comes there’s no going back.
Tie a rubber band to a weight. Move your hand rapidly1 away from the weight,2 stop your hand,3 wait, and the slowly accelerating weight will eventually slam into your hand.4
Think of your hand as CO2 concentration and the weight as atmospheric temperature. Moving your hand quickly is like rapidly increasing CO2 concentration.5 The motion of the weight is like rising atmospheric temperature, where the position of the weight is an indication of atmospheric temperature. A heavy weight causes a large time delay between the motion of your hand and the motion of the weight, similar to the delay between GreenHouse-Gas (GHG) emissions and warming caused by the thermal inertia of the oceans.
So just like connecting your hand to a weight with a rubber band, moving your hand quickly does not guarantee that the weight will initially move quickly. But if you are patient, and if you experiment by moving your hand at different rates, you will find that the quicker and further you move your hand the faster and harder the weight will eventually slam into your hand. You just have to be patient to let the weight catch up.
For another example of the effect of inertia in a system with a small force moving a large weight we turn to NASA. NASA uses solar-powered ion thrusters to power its current generation of deep-space voyagers. Ion thrusters use electrical energy provided by solar panels to accelerate individual xenon atoms, ejecting them at high velocity out the back of the rocket engine. The beauty of ion thrusters is that they combine an essentially infinite energy source (i.e., the sun), together with on-board fuel (xenon) to provide high-efficiency propulsion. The down side is that the thrust/weight ratio is so low that it may take months to years for the probe to reach maximum velocity.
Noting that the heating effect of GHGs in Earth’s atmosphere is relatively low, and that the mass of the oceans is massive, just as ion-thrust engines require months to years to accelerate their payload up to maximum speed, GHGs in Earth’s atmosphere require years to decades to accelerate their “payload” up to maximum temperature, with a typical cause-and-effect time constant of about 30 years: the length of a typical house mortgage.
The reason for the disconnect between the doom and gloom climate scientists are forecasting and the relatively mild6 climate we still enjoy is that climate scientists have their eyes on the hand pulling the rubber band, realizing the climate we are locking in, whereas climate-change deniers have their eyes on the weight, preaching its perceived stability (i.e., “No warming in ??? years”7) and lack of movement above historical extremes (i.e., "It’s been warmer before" argument). While the world “enjoys” the climate we have (i.e., the current position of the weight in our rubber band analogy), climate scientists “see” the climate to which we are committing ourselves (i.e., the position of the hand pulling on the rubber band). The year-to-year increase of CO2 concentrations commit us to an increasingly more difficult future, with temperatures already committed to rise higher than they’ve been in ??? million years.8 The commitment has to do with how far we’re stretching the rubber band, and the delay is due to just how heavy a weight we are pulling. Oceans covering 75% of the surface of the Earth to an average depth of 2 miles represent a really big weight that imposes about a 30-year delay between GHG emissions and rising temperatures. So, how’s that house-building project coming along? Will your house withstand the climate we inherit at the end of your mortgage?
Increasing GHG concentrations is like stretching the rubber band: try to increase surface temperature but end up slow heating the oceans first. Because the temperatures (effect) lag the increased GHG concentrations (cause), some interpret this as meaning that GHGs do not cause global warming and that the scientific theories about the greenhouse effect are incorrect. Worse yet, because the actual system is much more complicated than a simple rubber band and a weight, natural fluctuations in the global weather patterns can mask the cause-effect relationship, making it difficult to relate observed warming to measured GHG concentrations. Waiting until the cause-effect relationship is obvious to non-scientists is waiting too long.
Figure 1 shows the temperature anomaly we expect for a given level of CO2 (left curve) as well as the observed temperature anomaly (right curve). The difference between the expected and observed temperatures is due to the thermal inertia of the oceans. Figure 1 indicates that we now clearly see the relationship between cause (increased GHG concentrations) and effect (rising temperatures) with an observed lag of about 30 years. The observed temperatures show much more year-to-year fluctuations than the expected temperature anomalies because
- The expected temperature anomalies are based only on the measured CO2 concentrations and assuming a climate sensitivity of 3°C/doubling CO2, whereas
- The observed temperature anomalies include natural variations such as El Nino/La Nina cycles, solar activity, temperature reduction due to air pollution and volcanic eruptions, etc.
But the average, overall trend of the measured anomalies is unmistakably following what we expect from measured CO2 concentrations, with a time lag of about 30 years, driven by the inertia of the oceans.
How Inertia Affects our View of Climate Science
Figure 1. The orange dots show the temperature anomaly we’re committed to based on CO2 concentrations and assuming a climate sensitivity of 3°C warming/doubling CO2. The blue dots show the measured temperature anomaly.
Deniers, optimists, and realists all accept (for the most part) that we have exceeded 410 ppm CO2 in 2018. However, the thermal inertia of the oceans may be part of the reason they differ in their interpretation of what 410 ppm CO2 means. Thinking of the rubber band analogy …
- Deniers preach based on the position of the weight (i.e., 1°C warming)
- Optimists preach based on the current position of the rubber band9 (i.e., 1.5°C warming corresponding to 400+ ppm CO2)
- Realists preach based on how long civilization will keep stretching the rubber band (i.e., 2+°C warming)
Nobody knows when civilization will stop stretching the rubber band, so it is wise to hope for the best (2°C warming) but prepare for the worst (3+°C warming).
Figure 2 shows 12-month averages of the measured CO2 concentrations, also known as the Keeling Curve, represented as gray circles. The data spans from the first measurements in 1958 to the present. That’s 60 years of data indicating a consistent, persistent upward acceleration. If we fit a quadratic function to this data and use it to extrapolate the rise forward,10 we can estimate where we’re headed. The reason for this exercise is that the Keeling Curve is actual, measured data of how the entire Atmosphere-Ocean-Biosphere-Human system is responding, and it accounts for all emissions, carbon sinks, positive feedbacks, and atmospheric accumulation, accounting for how humans have responded over the years. It is therefore a realistic assessment of where we’ve come from and where we’re heading in the absence of meaningful intervention. We say meaningful intervention, because even during 30 years of increasing awareness of climate change and the rapid rise in renewable energy of the last 10 years, the Keeling Curve continues its unabated upward acceleration. To interrupt the upward trend shown in Fig. 2, we must do everything we can to rapidly reduce our GHG emissions.
Figure 2. 12-month averages of the measured CO2 concentrations, known as the Keeling curve, shown as gray circles. The curve through the data is a quadratic fit, extrapolated to the year 2100, assuming the same overall behavior as during the 60 years of data currently comprising the Keeling curve (based on NOAA data). The dotted line to the right shows the temperature to which each CO2 level corresponds, and the date when this temperature can be expected to be realized, based on a 30-year time lag due to the thermal inertia of the oceans. The red circle represents what Climate-Change deniers focus on (i.e., the current temperature anomaly), the blue circle represents what optimists focus on (i.e., the temperature we’ve locked in), and the black circle represents what the realists focus on, where we’re heading under current policies.
To the right of the Keeling Curve is a curve that mirrors the Keeling Curve, but with an offset of 30 years. This line is a projection of the temperature response, assuming a 30-year delay due to the thermal inertia of the oceans and assuming a climate sensitivity of 3°C/doubling CO2. The green open circle marks when we locked in 1°C temperature rise, the red open circle marks when we realized 1°C temperature rise, the blue open circle marks when we locked in 1.5°C temperature rise, and the black open circle marks when we can expect to lock in 3°C warming, assuming that Figure 2 is representative of how CO2 will rise.
What this means is that at the point that we realized 1°C warming, we had already locked in 1.5°C warming. Looking ahead, if the Keeling Curve follows the same upward trajectory in the future as it has in the past, by the time we realize 2°C warming, we will have already locked in 3°C warming! This increasing spread between realized and lock-in temperature is due to the projected upward acceleration of the Keeling Curve.
Climate scientists and the IPCC still talk about a remaining budget to stay below 1.5°C warming, whereas Fig. 2 indicates we have already locked in 1.5°C. What's the difference between these viewpoints? Figure 2 shows what is happening, IPCC models talk about what needs to happen to stay below a given target. If we were to reduce net GHG emissions to near zero within a couple of decades, there is a chance we could keep warming to near 1.5°C. This is unlikely, but technically possible (whether it's politically possible is another matter). To meet IPCC targets requires action for which the world has shown a lack of appetite. Figure 2 shows where we are headed. Are you prepared to respond to the IPCC challenge to get us off the upward trajectory? Be thankful that inertia delays the response, giving us time to react. 1°C is here, and given the lack of appetite for responding to the challenge, we are likely out of time to stay below 1.5°C warming. Warming to an unsafe level (i.e., 2°C or higher) appears inevitable without rapid intervention. No matter what temperature we reach or stabilize at, it’s time to prepare. The good thing about the immense inertia in the system response is that it gives us time to prepare.From Fear to Hope for the Future ... and your Children
Inertia is your friend … until it isn’t.
Hope for the future lies in the fact that inertia slows the response. This slowed response gives us time to prepare and to mitigate. If we stabilize CO2 concentrations at some level, such as 450 ppm, then the temperature will slowly rise to a level corresponding to that GHG concentration, which is likely 2°C above preindustrial temperatures. However, if we were to somehow bring net GHG emissions to 0 (this is extremely unlikely and would require sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere), then Earth will reabsorb much of the CO2 already in the atmosphere, and CO2 concentrations would begin to decrease on their own. Therefore, the huge inertia in Earth's system gives us time not just to prepare for certain bad effects of climate change, but to mitigate to help Earth's natural systems partially restore balance. To bring net GHG emissions to 0 requires that we control GHG emissions from the following sources
- Electricity generation
- Car, trucks, buses, ships, planes, etc.
- Home and building heating/cooling systems
- GHG emissions from animals
as well as to pursue technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
What can you do to help?Additional reading
- Climate Change Commitments
- How Big is the Climate Change Deficit?
- A bit more about committed warming
1. Your hand represents GHG concentrations. Moving implies increasing GHG concentration. Moving it rapidly implies rapidly increasing GHGs.
2. The weight represents the thermal inertia of the oceans. The heavier the weight, the larger the implied inertia and the longer it takes for the weight to start to move. The position of the weight represents temperature, and speed of the weight represents the rate of increase of temperature.
3. Stopping our hand would represent successful implementation of the Paris Accord to successfully cap GHG emissions.
4. Slamming into your hand is comparable to the effect of rising temperature on storms and our climate. This is where this analogy breaks down, because if we keep stretching the rubber band negative climate effects will occur, whether or not the weight ever catches up with our hand.
5. For this analogy we assume there is no friction between the weight and the surface it sits on. Therefore, once the rubber band is pulled, the weight will move. It is just a question of quickly it responds to the stretched rubber band.
6. We mean no disrespect to the many people suffering the effects of more intense hurricanes, drought, floods, wildfires, and the like, which climate scientists are increasingly associating with climate change. For the average person, however, the climate has not yet affected them in a way that is readily distinguished from the climate to which they have become accustomed.
7. The number represented by the question marks changes from year to year, but a favorite benchmark is 1998, the year of a monster El Nino that caused larger than normal global warming.
8. The number represented by the question marks continues to change, partly due to the uncertainty of just how hot it was millions of years ago, and partly because each year that it gets hotter the further back we have to go to find a time when it was equally hot.
9. The additional assumption is that civilization will soon stop stretching the rubber band.
10. A quadratic function fits the 60 years of data with R2 = 0.99, indicating a very consistent trend over the 60 years of measurement.
11. We are not disputing their validity, just preferring to stick with the Keeling Curve.
Several years ago, I wrote about the five stages of climate denial. To date, the Trump administration has pinballed between Stages 1, 2, and 3, calling climate change a Chinese hoax, disputing the degree of human causation (100% since 1950), and claiming it’s not a threat. But the purpose of climate science denial is to obstruct climate policies, and science denial doesn’t hold up in court. Unlike in the political realm, judicial decisions are generally based on evidence.
The Trump administration wants to roll back the Obama administration’s increased vehicle fuel efficiency standards. But under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), “if a proposed major federal action is determined to significantly affect the quality of the human environment,” the agency has to publish an environmental impact statement (EIS).
And so, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was required to publish an EIS detailing how the proposed fuel efficiency rollbacks would impact the environment, including via climate change. Here, the Trump administration shifted to Stage 4 and 5 climate denial.We’re screwed anyway, what’s the big deal?
In modeling the proposal’s climate impact, the NHTSA assumed we will follow a scenario in which Earth’s average surface temperatures will warm 3.5°C (6.3°F) by 2100. That’s surprisingly realistic – it’s a scenario in which countries follow through with their current climate policies but don’t enact any more stringent ones in the future. The problem is that the NHTSA assessment then concluded the fuel efficiency rollbacks aren’t important because they won’t have a significant impact on those hotter global temperatures:
The impacts of the Proposed Action [freezing fuel efficiency standards] and alternatives on global mean surface temperature, precipitation, sea level, and ocean pH would be extremely small in relation to global emissions trajectories. This is because of the global and multi-sectoral nature of climate change. These effects would be small, would occur on a global scale, and would not disproportionately affect the United States.
This is true. The Trump administration proposal decreases vehicle fuel efficiency requirements in the United States for the years 2020–2025. Of course it won’t have a big global impact relative to all greenhouse gas emissions from two centuries of burning fossil fuels. The report continues:
The emissions reductions necessary to keep global emissions within this carbon budget could not be achieved solely with drastic reductions in emissions from the U.S. passenger car and light truck vehicle fleet but would also require drastic reductions in all U.S. sectors and from the rest of the developed and developing world.
We could make this argument about literally any and every individual climate policy. Just like a single step won’t move a person safely out of the path of an oncoming truck, no single climate policy will significantly change global temperatures eight decades from now. It will take a myriad of climate policies passed by countries all around the world. That’s precisely why virtually every country signed the Paris climate agreement. The report’s maddening illogic doesn’t stop there:
Calls to Action... Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... SkS Highlights... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... SkS in the News... Photo of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Video of the Week... Reports of Note... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...Calls to Action*
Something that flew under my radar screen when it was released earlier this year...
*The views expressed in this section are those of John Hartz and do not necessarily reflect consensus views of the SkS author team — it's virtually impossible to achieve consensus among a herd of cats.Story of the Week...
Editorial of the Week...
El Niño/La Niña Update...
Toon of the Week...
Quote of the Week...
Graphic of the Week...
SkS in the News...
Photo of the Week...
Video of the Week...
Reports of Note...
Coming Soon on SkS...
Climate Feedback Reviews...
SkS Week in Review...
Poster of the Week...
The administration cites the likelihood of catastrophic global temperature rise to justify gutting fuel-efficiency standards. Yes, you read that correctly.A firefighter works to control the Delta Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California, in September 2018. Noah Berger/AP
The Washington Post dove deep into a draft statement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week and found buried within it a startling admission.
Planet Earth, the agency’s analysts observed, is currently on track to warm by approximately 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But that’s not the startling thing I’m referring to. This is: The statement’s authors were passing along this bit of news in order to lend support to the administration’s decision to weaken fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020.
That’s right: The United States government is basically making the argument that reducing carbon pollution from cars can’t save us—so why bother?
This is, to put it mildly, a twist on the usual rules of engagement between those who advocate for climate action and those who don’t. We’re used to fighting skepticism. But outright nihilism? That’s a new one.
The Nihilism of Trump’s Climate Policy by Jeff Turrentine, On Earth, NRDC, Oct 5, 2018Links posted on Facebook
Sun Sep 30, 2018
- Hawai'i land impacted by sea level rise may be double previous estimates, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Phys.org, Sep 27, 2018
- The Amazon on the Brink, Opinion by Philip Fearnside and Richard Schiffman, New York Times, Sep 26, 2018
- Record 2017 hurricane season driven by warm Atlantic Ocean, study says by Daisy Dunne, Carbon Brief, Sep 27, 2018
- The US Is Ready For 100% Clean Energy — 10 Cities Model How To Get There by Carolyn Fortuna, Clean Technica, Sep 28, 2018
- Faith leaders want a moral voice to tackle climate change by Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News, Sep 27, 2018
- Editorial: Politicians will make flooding a priority when voters do. Opinion by Steve Bailey, Post & Courier (Charleston, SC), Sep 30, 2018
- Scorecard: Debate moderators should be asking climate change questions. Are they? by Elvondo Cooper, Media Matters for America, Sep 25, 2018
- Hurricane Florence Released Tons of Coal Ash in North Carolina. Now the Coal Industry Wants Less Regulation. by Sharon Lerner, The Intercept, Sep 28, 2018
Mon Oct 1, 2018
- Cheaper Battery Is Unveiled as a Step to a Carbon-Free Grid by Ivan Penn, New York Times, Sep 26, 2018
- Arctic sea ice summer minimum in 2018 is sixth lowest on record by Robert McSweeney, Carbon Brief, Sep 27, 2018
- Scientists Weigh Call for Much Deeper Cuts to Coal Pollution by Jeremy Hodges, Climate Changed, Bloomberg News, Sep 30, 2018
- Election 2018: Clean Energy’s Future Could Rise or Fall with These Governor’s Races by Marianne Lavelle & Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News, Oct 1, 2018
- Vanishing Joshua trees: climate change will ravage US national parks, study says by Emily Holden, Environment, Guardian, Sep 25, 2018
- As global warming continues, Trump wants to burn fossil fuels with an arsonist's glee, Opinion by Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, Sep 29, 2018
- New study finds incredibly high carbon pollution costs – especially for the US and India by Dana Nuccitelli, The Climate Consensus - 97%, Environment, Guardian, Oct 1, 2018
- Climate science comeback strategies: Al Gore said what? by Karin Kirk, Yale Climate Connections, Oct 1, 2018
Tue Oct 2, 2018
- Poland pushing forest agenda as climate host, leak shows by Natalie Sauer, Politics, Climate Home News, Sep 28, 2018
- Why Indonesia’s tsunami was so deadly by Umair Irfan, Energy & Environment, Vox, Oct 1, 2018
- Trump Administration Prepares a Major Weakening of Mercury Emissions Rules by Coral Davenport, Climate, New York Times, Sep 30, 2018
- Rosa Hitting SW U.S., Baja With Heavy Rains; Updates on Leslie, Kong-Rey, Trami, and Walaka by Bob Henson, Category 6, Weather Underground, Oct 1, 2018
- NAFTA replacement avoids 'climate change,' talks ozone, air and sea pollution by Carl Meyer, National Observer, Oct 1, 2018
- The speed of #MeToo gives me hope – we can still stop climate change, Opinion by Andrew Simms, Comment is Free, Guardian, Oct 1, 2018
- Floods. Wildfires. Yet Few Candidates Are Running on Climate Change. by Trip Gabriel, New York Times, US Politics, New York Times, Oct 2, 2018
- Not Your Expected Climate Impact: Arizona Flooded by a Tropical Storm by Ucilia Wang, Climate Liability News, Oct 2, 2018
Wed Oct 3, 2018
- Which cities will sink into the sea first? Maybe not the ones you expect, Opinion by Mark Miodownik, Comment is Free, Guardian, Oct 1, 2018
- Fighting climate change is too expensive because destroying the planet is cost-free, Opinion by Tom Toles, Washington Post, Oct 1, 2018
- The Trump administration knows the planet is going to boil. It doesn't care, Opinion by Bill McKibben, Comment is Free, Guardian, Oct 2, 2018
- A Pair of Monster Cyclones Have Exploded to Life in the Pacific by Brian Kahn, Earther, Oct 2, 2018
- IPCC: Climate scientists consider 'life changing' report by Matt Mcgrath, Science & Environment, BBC News, Oct 1, 2018
- ‘Guardians of the forest:’ Indigenous peoples come together to assert role in climate stability by Justin Catanoso, Mongabay, Oct 2, 2018
- Reasons to be hopeful' on 1.5C global temperature target by Matt Mcgrath, Science & Environment, BBC News, Oct 1, 2018
- How to show Trump you care about climate change, Opinion by Jay Inslee, CNN, Oct 2, 2018
- How Wildfires Are Polluting Rivers and Threatening Water Supplies by Ed Struzik, Yale Environment 360, Oct 2, 2018
Thu Oct 4, 2018
- Can Buddhism Help Fight Climate Change? by Lucia Graves, Pacific Standard, Oct
- Should I tell my Republican friend that her Florida mansion is doomed by sea-level rise? by Sara Peach, Climate Advice, Yale Climate Connections, Sep 24, 2018
- In Comments on New Climate Report, U.S. Plays Up Uncertainties, Fossil Fuels by Jean Chemnick, E&E News/Scientific American, Oct 3, 2018
- Climate scientists are struggling to find the right words for very bad news by Chris Mooney & Brady Dennis, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Oct 3, 2018
- An Atmospheric Rarity: Twin Cat 5s Prowl the Pacific by Jeff Master, Category 6, Weather Underground, Oct 2, 2018
- A Green New Deal is on the ballot in Washington state this year by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Sep 28, 2018
- The impacts of climate change at 1.5C, 2C and beyond: Interactive, Carbon Brief, Oct 4, 2018
- Utilities have a problem: the public wants 100% renewable energy, and quick by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Oct 2, 2018
Fri Oct 6, 2018
- Huh? Carbon Dioxide Emissions Raise Risk of Satellite Collisions by John Fialka, E&E News/Scientific American, Oct 4, 2018
- Red tide spreads to Florida's east coast, shuttering some Miami-Dade beaches by Paul P. Murphy, CNN, Oct 4, 2018
- From London to Shanghai, world's sinking cities face devastating floods by Fiona Harvey, Environment, Guardian, Oct 4, 2018
- Trump’s Wrong. We Can Still Stop Apocalyptic Global Warming by Victoria Albert, Daily Beast, Oct 5, 2018
- Industry Study Warns Airports: Climate Impacts Will Be Costly by Karen Savage, Climate Liability News, Oct 4, 2018
- Understanding the IPCC special report on 1.5°C global warming, Press Release, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Oct 1, 2018
- Trump’s men wage war on climate reality by Joydeep Gupta, thethirdpole.net, Oct 3, 2018
Sat Oct 7, 2018
- Storms drench Australia's parched interior, but won't break drought by Tom Westbrook, Reuters, Oct 4, 2018
- Do Chinese people care about climate change? by Li Jing, thethirdpole.net, Oct 4, 2018
- The Nihilism of Trump’s Climate Policy by Jeff Turrentine, On Earth, NRDC, Oct 5, 2018
- Rising use of plastics to drive oil demand to 2050 - IEA by Ahmad Ghaddar & Ron Bousso, Reuters, Oct 4, 2018
- A major climate report will slam the door on wishful thinking by Umair Irfan, Energy & Environment, Vox, Oct 5, 2018
- Three decades after nuclear disaster, Chernobyl goes solar by Pavel Polityuk, Reuters, Oct 5, 2018
- Why the next three months are crucial for the future of the planet by Fiona Harvey, Environment, Guardian, Oct 5, 2018
- Climate change apathy, not denial, is the biggest threat to our planet, Opinion by Leo Barasi, Comment is Free, Guardian, Oct 5, 2018
- New research, September 24-30, 2018 by Ari Jokimäki, Skeptical Science, Oct 5, 2018
A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.Climate change mitigation
Climate change communication
Altruism and Global Environmental Taxes (open access)
Temperature, precipitation, wind
Forcings and feedbacks
Recent Third Pole’s rapid warming accompanies cryospheric melt and water cycle intensification and interactions between monsoon and environment: multi-disciplinary approach with observation, modeling and analysis (open access)
Changing state of Arctic sea ice across all seasons (open access)
Atmospheric and oceanic circulation
Carbon and nitrogen cycles
General climate science
Other environmental issues
This is a re-post from Carbon Brief. Dr Ingmar Nitze is a postdoctoral researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI); Dr Guido Grosse is head of the Permafrost Research Section at AWI and professor of permafrost in the Earth system at the University of Potsdam; Dr Thomas Schneider von Deimling is a senior scientist at AWI; and Dr Katey Walter Anthony is an aquatic ecosystem ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
As the climate warms, there is increasing concern around thawing of carbon-rich permafrost across the Arctic. Carbon emissions from this perennially frozen land have the potential to reinforce global warming.
Adding to this risk, the Arctic is also pockmarked by millions of small ponds and lakes, formed as the frozen soil thaws, collapses and fills with melted ice, snow and rain. These lakes accelerate thawing of the surrounding land, ramping up how much carbon the land emits.
In our recent study, published in Nature Communications, we have – for the first time – estimated the global carbon emissions from permafrost thaw beneath and around Arctic lakes.
And our findings suggest this rapid thaw has the potential to double how much permafrost carbon is released this century.Giant freezer
Permafrost covers around a quarter of the non-glaciated land in the northern hemisphere, including large parts of Siberia, Alaska, northern Canada and the Tibetan plateau.
Permafrost soils lock in old plant and animal remains like a giant freezer. This a carbon-rich combination of roots, leaves and peat that covered the vast tundra-steppe and interspersed wetlands of the last ice age. It also includes mammoths and other iconic animals of the time.
As its name suggests, permafrost is permanently frozen, However, during the short summer season, the uppermost part of the soil – known as the “active layer” – briefly thaws. This layer is, perhaps, just a few tens of centimetres deep.
However, a warming climate puts an increasing amount of permafrost at risk of thawing. And it is not only contending with the steady rise in global average temperatures, but also “Arctic amplification” – the rapid warming in the Earth’s northernmost latitudes in response to melting sea ice and declining snow cover.
This warming leads to a deepening of the active layer and thawing of previously frozen plant remains – containing old carbon that was deposited and frozen over the course of several thousand of years. Once thawed, microbes set about consuming the plant and animal remains, releasing CO2 in well-drained upland locations.
A deepening active layer also mobilises nutrients that stimulate growth of new plants. The CO2 uptake of these new plants will likely outweigh the losses of old permafrost carbon during this century. However, beyond 2100, deeper thaw of the active layer will become more important, leading to large net losses of soil carbon for at least the next two centuries.
Once soil carbon emissions exceed plant uptake, this self-reinforcing process – known as the “permafrost-carbon feedback” – will lead to further climate warming and make the monitoring of remote permafrost regions even more important.
However, gradual thaw alone does not tell the entire story.Thermokarst lakes
Among permafrost scientists and people living on permafrost, rapid thaw processes are a well-known phenomenon, but their impact on carbon emissions has historically not been quantified.
Rapid thaw of permafrost occurs when large volumes of ground-ice melt, the ground subsides and the resulting depression fills with meltwater, rain and snow. This process is known as “thermokarst”.
In water-logged and impermeable permafrost soils, the small ponds formed within these depressions may grow rapidly within a few years or decades to form larger lakes. As water has a greater capacity for holding heat than land does, these ponds and lakes take in summer warmth and become efficient thawing machines of the surrounding and underlying permafrost. As the graphic below illustrates, this eats away frozen soils and its organic remains.
The carbon that has accumulated for tens of thousands of years in the soil is, thus, turned into into liquid, smelly mud in oxygen-free lake bottoms, providing a feast for organic carbon-munching microbes. The process itself is irreversible.
In its early stages, permafrost thaw below and around ponds occurs only during summer and autumn, when the ponds are ice-free. During typical cold Arctic winters, land and lakes freeze over and lake-ice can grow to one or two meters deep, freezing the entire water body of shallow ponds.
However, this seasonal pattern is seriously affected by warming of the Arctic, where lake ice becomes thinner and ice cover duration is shortening dramatically. Ponds that no longer freeze to the bottom are known as “thermokarst lakes”. Thawing conditions on the lake bottom now prevails throughout the entire year, even during winter.Microbes and methane
In our study, we identified thermokarst lakes where sediments had thawed as much as 15 metres deep within only half a century. Remember, this is compared to a typical thaw in tundra soils of the order of tens of centimetres.
Thriving in above-freezing temperatures, microbes start to rework old previously frozen and well-preserved plant remains and produce CO2 and – the even more potent greenhouse gas – methane. Rising up from the bottom of thermokarst lakes, methane bubbles trapped in lake ice are a sign of year-round methane production and emissions.
It is worth noting that lakes will not necessarily just keep on growing. The landscape today is already densely carpeted with lakes, rivers, gullies and other topographic gradients so that growing lakes may also easily drain, merge or eventually dry out.
Similarly, new permafrost can form on the former lake bottom and new biomass can grow and get buried in wet and boggy conditions, leading to an uptake of of carbon from the atmosphere.
However, the carbon release from expanding lakes strongly outweighs carbon uptake from lake loss over decadal – and, thus, human-relevant – timescales.Global impact
So, what do thermokarst lakes mean for carbon emissions on global scales?
Lakes in permafrost regions come in bunches and occur anywhere with flat ground in the northern high latitudes. Many of them are glacial lakes, carved by glacial ice into bedrock basins where there is not much leeway for expansion by thawing.
However, millions of lakes across the ice-rich permafrost deposits of the Arctic lowlands are affected by rapid thermokarst development. Owing to their vast abundance and comparably small size, monitoring their dynamics and modelling their influence on the climate has been a major challenge.
For the first time – and in a large collaborative effort of teams from Alaska and Germany – we have quantified the impact of rapid thaw on global carbon emissions. Using a combination of field observations in Alaska and Siberia, remote sensing of lake dynamics and global-scale permafrost, and climate model simulations, we have drawn a more complete picture of how these lakes could affect greenhouse gas release and its impact on the climate.
For example, time series of satellite data collected over large parts of Alaska helped us to find and understand patterns of lake changes over large regions. While our model simulations of future permafrost degradation account for thermokarst lake formation and its dynamics in a warming world.Globally important
Our results show that rapid thaw matters.
Not only do our findings reveal that rapid thaw will have a strong impact on carbon emissions from permafrost this century, in a high warming, business-as-usual scenario (“RCP8.5”), it more than doubles the previously estimated carbon release from gradual thaw alone.
Even under moderate-emission scenarios with a reduction of human-caused carbon emissions (known as “RCP4.5”), rapid thaw will play a major role in permafrost-related carbon cycling, outpacing emissions from gradual thaw.
The majority of the carbon released through rapid thaw would be in the form of methane. Taking these emissions into account, the permafrost-carbon feedback by the end of the century could become as strong as the second strongest human-caused source of greenhouse gases today – land use change.
Our findings show that the lack of understanding of Arctic lake dynamics and the neglect of implementing these aspects into global climate models can result in strongly underestimating greenhouse gas emissions from degrading permafrost landscapes.
Formation and expansion of thermokarst lakes will accelerate the release of permafrost carbon. This means that the permafrost-carbon feedback will be globally important within several decades from now as opposed to centuries.
Our research was supported by NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (“ABoVE”) programme, the European Research Council “PETA-CARB” project, the European Space Agency’s “GlobPermafrost” initiative, the German government’s “PermaRisk” project, and the National Science Foundation ARCSS programme.
Walter Anthony, K. M., et al. (2018) 21st-century modeled permafrost carbon emissions accelerated by abrupt thaw beneath lakes, Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-05738-9
The social cost of carbon is a measure of the economic damages caused (via climate change) by each ton of carbon pollution that we produce today. It’s difficult to estimate because of physical, economic, and ethical uncertainties. For example, it’s difficult to predict exactly when various climate tipping points will be triggered, how much their damages will cost, and there’s also a question about how much we value the welfare of future generations (which is incorporated in the choice of ‘discount rate’).
In 2013, the Obama administration set the federal social cost of carbon estimate at $37 per ton of carbon dioxide (up from the previous estimate of $22). That was a conservative estimate – in recent years, research has pegged the value closer to $200 because recent research has shown that global warming slows economic growth, which makes it quite expensive. A majority of economists in a 2015 survey believed the federal estimate was too low, but Republicans have recently been trying to dramatically lower it anyway.
The Republican argument is twofold. First, that we should only consider domestic climate costs (the federal estimate is of global costs, because our carbon pollution doesn’t just hover in the air above America). Second, that instead of trying to stop climate change now, we should just save our money and let future generations pay for its costs (by using a high discount rate).The social cost of carbon is much higher yet
A new study led by UC San Diego’s Katharine Ricke published in Nature Climate Change found that not only is the global social cost of carbon dramatically higher than the federal estimate – probably between $177 and $805 per ton, most likely $417 – but that the cost to America is around $50 per ton. That’s the second-highest in the world behind India’s $90, and is also higher than the current federal estimate for the global social cost of carbon.
That’s a remarkable conclusion worth repeating. Ricke’s team found that the cost of carbon pollution to just the United States is probably higher than its government’s current estimate of costs to the entire world. And the actual global cost is more than 10 times higher than the federal estimate. And yet Republican politicians think that estimate should be much lower.The study
I asked Ricke to describe her team’s approach in this study:
To calculate social cost of carbon, you need to answer four questions in sequence:
1. How would the economy change with no climate change (including GHG emissions)?
2. How does the Earth system respond to emissions of carbon dioxide?
3. How does the economy respond to changes in the Earth system?
4. How should we value losses today vs. in (for example) 100 years?
The team answered these questions using four ‘modules’: a socio-economic module to answer the first question, a climate module to address the second, a damages module to investigate the third, and a discounting module to tackle the fourth.
Ricke further described the team’s approach in a ‘behind the paper’ article for Nature:
The idea was to combine an approach to analyzing the climate effect of a marginal emission of carbon dioxide that Ken Caldeira and I had recently developed, with a climate damages model described in what was then a working paper by Marshall Burke and collaborators. My co-author Massimo Tavoni pointed out that by combining these two tools, we could produce the first comprehensive, country-level estimates of the social cost of carbon.The US is at the ideal economic temperature
I wrote about the referenced Burke paper in 2015. That study detailed the relationship between a country’s average temperature and its per capita GDP, finding a sweet spot around 13°C (55°F). That’s the optimal temperature for human economic productivity. Economies in countries with lower average temperatures like Canada and Russia would benefit from additional warming, but it would slow economic growth for nations closer to the equator with hotter temperatures.
The United States is currently right near the peak temperature, whereas many European countries like Germany, the UK, and France are 3–5°C cooler, and a bit below the ideal economic temperature. So, continued global warming is worse for the US economy than Europe’s.
China’s social cost of carbon is lower despite a similar temperature and GDP to America’s because its economy is growing fast, meaning that it would benefit from investing its money now rather than spending it on cutting carbon pollution, at least relative to a more developed country like the US. But China’s social cost of carbon is still about $26 per ton. India’s $90 is the highest because of its combination of a hot climate, high GDP (6th in the world), and anticipated continued growth leading to large future damages.
Firefighters from Brea, Calif., inspect and cut fireline on Aug. 1, 2018, as the Ranch Fire burns near Upper Lake, Calif. A day earlier, it and the River Fire totaled more than 74,000 acres. (Stuart W. Palley/For The Washington Post)
Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century.
A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.
But the administration did not offer this dire forecast as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed.
Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 by Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis & Chri Mooney, Health & Science, Washington Post, Sep 28, 2018Links posted on Facebook
Sun Sep 23, 2018
- As sand mining grows, Asia’s deltas are sinking, water experts warn by Manipadma Jena, Thompson Reuters Foundation, Sep 21, 2018
- Research Shows Wind Farms Could Divert Hurricane Rains by Richard Kemeny, Hakai Magazine, Sep 21, 2018
- New Evidence That Climate Change Poses a Much Greater Threat to Humanity Than Recently Understood Because the IPCC has been Systematically Underestimating Climate Change Risks: An Ethical Analysis by Donald Brown, Ethics & Climate, Widener University, Sep 21, 2018
- Climate Mobilization plea: Cities must declare emergency by Sarah Wesseler, Yale Climate Connections, Sep 20, 2018
- The Energy 202: Trump's EPA is targeting rules for yet another greenhouse gas by Dino Grandoni, PowerPost, Washington Post, Sep 21, 2018
- The Unequal Burden of Climate Change by Emily Atkin, The New Republic, Sep 18, 2018
- Putting a dollar value on one of oil’s biggest subsidies: military protection by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Sep 21, 2018
- Climate change swells ranks of refugees as Trump administration retreats to the sidelines by Tracy Wilkinson, Nation, Los Angeles Times, Sep 23, 2018
Mon Sep 24, 2018
- Climate change must be dealt with before it unleashes millions of global-warming refugees, Opinion by Mike Rowse, Comment, South China Morning Post, Sep 23, 2018
- Watching Kirk, Leslie, and 98L in the Atlantic, Trami in the Pacific by Jeff Masters, Category 6, Weather Underground, Sep 23, 2018
- Climate study ‘pulls punches’ to keep polluters on board by Robin McKie, Observer/Guardian, Sep 23, 2018
- Prepare for 10 Feet of Sea Level Rise, California Commission Tells Coastal Cities by Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News/Scientific American, Sep 21, 2018
- Tackling climate change to be key talking point at UN summit, AP/ABC News, Sep 23, 2018
- Climate change will be high on next year’s G20 summit agenda, Abe says, JIJI/Japan Times, Sep 24, 2018
- New study reconciles a dispute about how fast global warming will happen by Dana Nuccitelli, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Environment, Guardian, Sep 24, 2018
- Super Typhoon Trami now a monster CAT 5 with 160 mph/260 km/h sustained winds!, Severe Weather Europe, Sep 24, 2018
Tue Sep 25, 2018
- Philippine farmers struggle to rebuild lives after typhoon decimates crops by Beh Lih Yi, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Sep 24, 2018
- Climate scientists reject ‘offensive’ claim of US, Saudi meddling in landmark report by Megan Darby, Climate Home News, Sep 24, 2018
- Climate Change Will Cost U.S. More in Economic Damage Than Any Other Country But One by Stacy Morford, InsideClimate News, Sep 24, 2018
- Where should you move to save yourself from climate change? by Oliver Milman, Environment, Guardian, Sep 24, 2018
- What’s Causing Antarctica’s Ocean to Heat Up? New Study Points to 2 Human Sources by Sabrina Shankman, InsideClimate News, Sep 24, 2018
- PM Jacinda Ardern's challenges other world leaders on climate change by Claire Trevett, New Zealand Herald Express, Sep 25, 2918
- Ryan Zinke to the oil and gas industry: “Our government should work for you” by Umair Irfan, Energy & Environment, Vox, Sep 22, 2018
- California urges Trump to drop plan for weaker fuel standard by Sudhin Thanawala, AP/CNBC, Sep 24, 2018
Wed Sep 26, 2018
- Germany's coastal lowlands under the shadow of climate change by Tamsin Walker, Deutsche Welle, Sep 24, 2018
- Adani plans to take 12.5b litres of water as farmer denied access in 'double standard' by Michael Slezak, ABC News (Australia), Sep 24, 2018
- You Are Not Alone With Your Concerns About Climate Change by Jesper Berggreen, CleanTechnica, Sep 25, 2018
- Google’s New Tool to Fight Climate Change by Robinson Meyer, Technology, The Atlantic, Sep 25, 2018
- Super Typhoon Trami: Images show storm from space as it heads for Japan by Euan McKirdy, CNN, Sep 26, 2018
- New research shows the world’s ice is doing something not seen before by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Environment, The Guardian, Sep 26, 2018
- Harbingers: Florence, Forest Fires, and the Future by John Atcheson, Climate Change, Common Dreams, Sep 26, 2018
- Climate gentrification: the rich can afford to move – what about the poor? by Oliver Milman, Environment, Guardian, Sep 25, 2018
Thu Sep 27, 2018
- Suing the United States for Climate Change Impacts by Stephen L. Kass, New York Law Journal, Sep 25, 2018
- The EU needs a stability and wellbeing pact, not more growth, Letter signed by 238 European academics, Business, Guardian, Sep 26, 2018
- The Climate-Change Debate Has Shifted, Not Ended by Eric Roston, Quicktake, Bloomberg News, Sep 26, 2018
- Climate change is a global injustice. A new study shows why. by Umair Irfan, Energy & Environment, Vox, Sep 26, 2018
- Morning update on the intense Medicane developing tonight: may hit Crete Island this weekend, Severe Weather Europe, Sep 27, 2018
- The Paris Accord Won’t Stop Global Warming on Its Own by Richard Samans, Foreign Policy, Sep 26, 2018
- World 'nowhere near on track' to avoid warming beyond 1.5C target by Oliver Milman, Guardian, Sep 27, 2018
- Kavanaugh Confirmation Fight Has Consequences for Climate Law by Mark K. Matthews, E&E News/Scientific American, Sep 27, 2018
Fri Sep 28, 2018
- Humans Contribute to Earth’s Wobble, Scientists Say by Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience/Scientific American, Sep 25, 2018
- Credible tracking of land-use emissions under the Paris, Guest by Giacomo Grassi, Jo House, Werner Kurz & Glen Peters, Carbon Brief, Sep 24, 2018
- Climate-related financial disclosure becoming more mainstream - G20 task force by Nina Chestney, Reuters, Sep 26, 2018
- Powerful Typhoon Trami to slam Japan with life-threatening impacts by Eric Leister, AccuWeather, Sep 28, 2018
- Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 by Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis & Chri Mooney, Health & Science, Washington Post, Sep 28, 2018
- E.P.A. to Eliminate Office That Advises Agency Chief on Science by Coral Davenport, Climate, New York Times, Sep 27, 2018
- Harvey, Florence, and the climate change connection by Amanda Paulson, Environment, Christian Science Monitor, Sep 27, 2018
- Trial Will Test New Weapon Against Climate Change: Necessity Defense by Seamus McGraw, Climate Liability News, Sep 25, 2018
Sat Sep 29, 2018
- Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions climb again amid climate policy vacuum by Lisa Cox, Environment, Guardian, Sep 28, 2018
- Northern Swedish cities see the effects of climate change more than anywhere else in Europe by Nele Schröder, The Local-Sweden, Sep 26. 2018
- Wetlands disappearing three times faster than forests, AFP/Channel News Asia, Sep 27, 2018
- Indonesia tsunami and earthquake kill 384, leave hundreds injured by Nicole Chavez & Mochammad Andri, CNN, Sep 29, 2018
- Witnessing the environmental horrors of Hurricane Florence by Sue Sturgis, Facing South, Sep 28, 2018
- Looking anew at plastics and climate change by Bruce Liberman, Yale Climate Communications, Sep 26, 2018
- Marine microbes: Small but mighty at capturing carbon by Devi Lockwood, Yale Climate Communications, Sep 27, 2018
- Courts Will Play Key Role in Addressing Climate Crisis, Experts Say by Dana Drugmand, Climate Liability News, Sep 27, 2018
- New research, September 17-23, 2018 by Ari Jokimäki, Skeptical Science, Sep 28, 2018
A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.Climate change impacts
How big is the energy efficiency resource? (open access)
Temperature, precipitation, wind
Forcings and feedbacks
Atmospheric and oceanic circulation
Carbon and nitrogen cycles
In this warming world, some parts of the planet are warming much faster than others. The warming is causing large ice bodies to start to melt and move rapidly, in some cases sliding into the ocean.
This movement is the topic of a very new scientific study that was just published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The Arctic is warming much faster than other parts of the planet and the ice there is showing the signs of rapid warming. This fact has serious consequences. First, melting ice can cause sea levels to rise and inundate coastal areas – it also makes storms like hurricanes and typhoons more destructive. Melting ice also causes a feedback loop, which can cause more future warming and then more ice loss.
It should be noted that there are different types of ice. Some ice floats on water and is called sea ice. When it melts, the ocean water level hardly budges because the ice is already in the sea displacing liquid water. But, sea ice is really important for this feedback loop I mentioned above.
Other ice is on land and may be a large ice sheet or a smaller glacier. These ice bodies sit atop the land and “rest” there. In some cases, they extend out off the land and into the ocean where they partly float on liquid water. When this land ice melts, the liquid flows into the oceans and can cause significant ocean level rising.
So, the importance of ice depends on what type it is, where it is located, and how fast it is melting. And this brings us to the new paper.
The researchers looked at a type of high latitude glacier in their study. These glaciers hold enough water to cause about 1 foot (about a third of a meter) in sea level rise. Typically, they exist in cold and dry areas, where snowfall is limited.
How do glaciers move? Well really by either sliding over the underlying bedrock or surface that they sit on, or by deforming and stretching under their weight. The colder glaciers tend to move by the deforming and stretching process. Glaciers that have wetter and more temperate regions involve more sliding. But regardless of how they move, these glaciers, particularly the glaciers that have both cold and temperate parts, experience surges in their motion. These surges are short duration times where the glacier moves a lot. During a surge, ice is redistributed from one part of the glacier to another region.
The authors in this study observed such a glacier surge. It happened at an outlet glacier that is mainly of the “cold” type in Russia. At the Vavilov Ice Cap on October Revolution Island, the authors find it “is undergoing extraordinary acceleration and thinning but displays no previous evidence of surging.” The authors write,
the 300-600 meter thick 1820 square kilometer Vavilov Ice Cap is frozen to its bed over the majority of its area, apart from a region along its western margin where basal sliding is potentially important for faster flow.
In 2010 the ice in the region began to accelerate and the next year, crevasses were observed that matched the patterns of ice acceleration. The researchers were able to watch this surge in ice motion in real-time using satellite images. They could track the motion and show the incredible speed of flow.
What caused the rapid motion? This is an important question because if the motion is caused by human warming, we can expect the behavior to be repeated elsewhere as temperatures rise. Importantly both air and ocean-water temperatures could be a factor. One potential cause is surface meltwater. The top of the ice can melt, and liquid water then can flow downwards, into the ice through cracks and holes. This flowing water can precondition the ice for rapid motion.
This fact may be a contributing cause to the motion. Basically, the melted water lubricated the ice/ground interface causing more sliding and more friction. The friction caused some of the bottom ice to melt and released more liquid water, and a cycle had begun.
The researchers also took measurements of elevation to better understand areas where ice was becoming thicker or thinner. In addition, they studied the forces that exist within the ice itself to help elucidate the cause of the increased speed. Obviously, this is an evolving area of study and all of the questions have not yet been answered. However, I was impressed when I read that even though these types of surges are becoming more common, what the researchers observed in Russia was still unique. They describe the rate of ice loss at Vavilov as “extreme.” The authors also point out,
About a year ago I wrote about my dealings with a paper by Florides et al. in a four part article here at SkS (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4). I had found out that the paper in question was largely created by copy/pasting passages of texts from various sources and that the paper contained a lot of false claims and other flaws.
I had communicated my findings to Elsevier, who originally had published the paper, but as I described in part four of the article series, Elsevier did not do anything about the paper.
Since publishing my article series there have been some developments, which I will describe briefly below, but the most recent development is that the paper got retracted three and a half years after I lodged a complaint.
First of all, there was an article on this in Retraction Watch. The article describes mainly the same issues as my article series, but there's also some new information, such as the mention that the Editor-in-Chief of the journal had been replaced.
The new Editor-in-Chief, Professor Aoife M. Foley, contacted me to let me know that they will have another look at the issue. After that I didn't hear from the journal again, but recently I noticed that the journal page for the paper in question now says that the paper has been retracted.
Apparently, the paper was retracted on August 23, 2018, or at least the retraction notice shows that date. The reason for the retraction is given as:This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief due to duplicate publication based on parts of the authors' own book chapter ‘Global Warming: CO2vs Sun,’ by Georgios Florides, Paul Christodoulides and Vassilios Messaritis, published: September 27th 2010, DOI: 10.5772/10283.
So the plagiarism was the reason the paper got retracted. However, the retraction notice only mentions Florides et al. own book chapter as a source for the plagiarism, while in reality they copied from many other sources as well, and the book chapter in question was also partly copied from other sources. The retraction notice goes on to describe that papers should be original works, and adds:As such this article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system.
There's also a brief Editor's note on this, but it is not open access. The note doesn't say much. It starts by mentioning that I started the process and a link is given to my article series. Next the note links to Florides et al.'s note regarding the retraction published on the website of their University, so it seems that the journal informed Florides et al. about the retraction prior to the publication of the retraction.
Retraction reaction from Florides et al.
Florides et al. note is similar to their original response in that they claim that they didn't do anything wrong, assume a role of a victim, and throw accusations at us.
They start by claiming that the real reason for the retraction was that the paper "challenges the norm that human beings and anthropogenic CO2 are responsible for global warming". They continue by attacking Skeptical Science and there they throw many false accusations. I won't bother with most of them, but among other things they raise a question about our funding. We find it rather strange, and borderline funny, that so many in the climate change denier community seem to think that one has to have funding in order to do things like we do at Skeptical Science. This is of course not true because you don't need funding if you have a large international volunteer team like Skeptical Science has. I certainly have never received any funding for the work I do for Skeptical Science.
Next Florides et al. claim that their paper has gone through proper peer-review, despite the numerous flaws we found in the paper. The paper was so bad that instead of showing the flaws in their main points, I decided to quantify their misinformation content. We found 42 different flaws from the first two chapters alone, a number that should speak for itself. In their retraction response, Florides et al. don't say anything else about this than call our paper "an insulting (to us and science) note". With this excuse they claim that they haven't received any scientific criticism for their paper.
As was shown above, the journal gave the plagiarism as the reason for retraction, and the unfortunate aspect was that only Florides et al. book chapter was named as the source for the plagiarism. In their response, Florides et al. use that as an excuse to claim that they didn't do anything wrong: "...the accusers finally succeeded their goal and the paper has been retracted for the trivial excuse that the authors repeated some of their ideas, which were presented in a book chapter; i.e. the authors stole their own thoughts." So they claim that they only re-used their own work, but as they well know, and as we showed in our plagiarism analysis, the book in question also contained copy/pasted passages, and in addition to copy/pasting from their own book chapter, they had also copied from other sources such as IPCC and Wikipedia.
We’re currently on pace to double the carbon dioxide-equivalent (including other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere by around mid-century. Since the late 1800s scientists have been trying to answer the question, how much global warming will that cause?
In 1979, top climate scientists led by Jule Charney published a reportestimating that if we double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm to 560 ppm, temperatures will warm by 3 ± 1.5°C. Four decades later, ‘climate sensitivity’ estimates remain virtually unchanged, but some climate contrarians have argued that the number is at the low end of that range, around 2°C or less.
It’s an important question because if the contrarians are right, the 2°C resulting global warming would represent significantly less severe climate change consequences than if mainstream climate scientists are right and temperatures rise by 3°C. It would also mean our remaining carbon budgetfor meeting the 2°C Paris target is about twice as large than if the mainstream consensus is right. If the consensus is correct, we’re on pace to blow through the remaining Paris carbon budget by around 2030.Another nail in the contrarian ‘low sensitivity’ coffin
Studies published in March 2014, May 2014, and December 2015 identified two critical flaws in the contrarians’ preferred so-called ‘energy balance model’ approach: it doesn’t account for the fact that Earth’s sensitivity can change over time, for example as large ice sheets continue to melt, or that the planet responds differently to different climate ‘forcings’.
Last week, the journal Earth’s Future published a study by the University of Southampton’s Philip Goodwin that took both of these factors into account. Goodwin ran climate model simulations treating every forcing separately, including changes in greenhouse gases, solar activity, particulates from volcanic eruptions, and from human fossil fuel combustion. For each, he included feedbacks from changes in factors like atmospheric water vapor, clouds, snow, and sea ice, including how these factors change over different timescales, as Goodwin explained:
I ran 10 million simulations with a relatively simple climate model. These 10 million simulations each used different climate feedback strengths, and so the way that climate sensitivity responded over time was different in each simulation. To check which of the 10 million simulations were most realistic, I checked each simulation against observations of warming in the atmosphere and ocean up to the present day. I kept only the simulations that agreed with the observations for the real world.
This left 4600 simulations, where the values of the climate sensitivity (and changes in climate sensitivity over different timescales) agree with the atmosphere and ocean warming observed so far. It is from these final 4600 simulations that evaluate how the climate sensitivity evolves over time.
Essentially, adding up all of the warming contributions from all of these factors at any given time tells us how sensitive the climate is on that timescale, whether it be a month, a year, a decade, or a century after atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have doubled.
Over the shortest timeframes of a year or less, Goodwin found that temperatures will rise by about 2°C once carbon dioxide levels have doubled, consistent with the conclusions of the contrarian studies. That makes sense because those studies applied current climate measurements into energy balance models, but since carbon pollution is still rising, the climate still has a large energy imbalance. Climate sensitivity, on the other hand, is usually evaluated at the point when the Earth reaches a new energy equilibrium, long after carbon dioxide levels have stopped rising.
Once our carbon pollution levels decline close to zero (hopefully by mid-to-late century), the planet will start to reach that new equilibrium. The slower feedbacks like melting ice will continue to kick in, and Goodwin found that on timescales close to a century thereafter, temperatures will rise by 1.9–4.6°C, most likely 2.9°C, consistent with mainstream climate science estimates since the 1979 Charney report.We need to hit the brakes or blow past Paris
In other words, we are indeed on track to burn through the remaining Paris carbon budget by 2030, and under current international climate policies, we’re most likely headed for about 3.4°C warming by 2100.
Faced with Hurricane Florence's powerful winds and record rainfall, North Carolina's solar farms held up with only minimal damage while other parts of the electricity system failed, an outcome that solar advocates hope will help to steer the broader energy debate.
North Carolina has more solar power than any state other than California, much of it built in the two years since Hurricane Matthew hit the region. Before last week, the state hadn't seen how its growing solar developments—providing about 4.6 percent of the state's electricity—would fare in the face of a hurricane.
Florence provided a test of how the systems stand up to severe weather as renewable energy use increases, particularly solar, which is growing faster in the Southeast than any other other region.
Solar Energy Largely Unscathed by Hurricane Florence’s Wind and Rain by Dan Gearino, InsideClimate News, Sep 20, 2018Links posted on Facebook
Sun Sep 16, 2018
- Climate change: we need to start moving people away from some coastal areas, warns scientist by Luciana Esteves, The Conversation UK, Sep 13, 2018
- U.S. climate summit aims for a new carbon goal: zero by Sebastien Malo, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Sep 14, 2018
- Acid is dribbling out of the melting permafrost in the Arctic by Michael Marshall, New Scientist, Sep 14, 2018
- Typhoon Mangkhut hits mainland China, lashes Hong Kong, dozens dead in Philippines by Sheena McKenzie, CNN, Sep 16, 2018
- ‘Major shift’: Nations face bottom-up pressure to act on climate change by Karl Mathiesen, Climate Home News, Sep 14, 2018
- Hundreds are still trapped from Florence's flooding, and 'the worst is still yet to come by Holly Yan, Cassie Spodak & Hollie Silverman, CNN, Sep 16, 2018
- “Running Out Of Time” – Local Communities Mobilise for the Climate by Tharanga Yakupitiyage, Inter Press Service (IPS), Sep 12, 2018
- This is how the world ends: will we soon see category 6 hurricanes? by Jeff Nesbitt, Guardian, Sep 15, 2018
- What bison in South Dakota can teach us about fighting climate change by Umair Irfan, Energy & Environment, Vox, Sep 14, 2018
- California Had Its Own Climate Summit. Now What? by Brad Plumer, Climate, New York Times, Sep 15, 2018
Mon Sep 17, 2018
- Religion helps us understand the world': Season of Creation celebrated in Saskatoon by Darlene Polachic, Saskatoon Star Phoenix, Sep 15, 2018
- Recovery may take days as Hong Kong picks up the pieces after mauling by monster storm by Ernest Kao, Shirley Zhao, Naomi Ng & Sum Lok-ke, Health & Environment, South China Morning Post, Sep 16, 2018
- Democrats struggle to make voters care about climate change by David Siders, Energy & Environment, Politico, Sep 14, 2018
- Photos: The Aftermath of Hurricane Florence by Alan Taylor, In Focus, The Atlantic, Sep 16, 2018
- Extreme weather: The effects of climate change are already here, The Logic of Science, Sep 17, 2018
- Typhoon Mangkhut: Hong Kong in tatters; China evacuates millions by Euan McKirdy, Joshua Berlinger & Ben Westcott, CNN, Sep 17, 2018
- Hurricane Florence: Resources for Journalists, State of the Planet, Earth Institute, Columbia University, Sep 12, 2018
- USA Today op-ed ignores evidence to claim climate change had no role in Hurricane Florence, Edited by Scott Johnson, Climate Feedback, Sep 17, 2018
- California plans to show the world how to meet the Paris climate target by Dana Nuccitelli, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Environment, Guardian, Sep 17, 2018
- You can’t put America first if you put climate change last, Opinion by Brian Klaas, Democracy Post, Washington Post, Sep 13, 2018
Tue Sep 18, 2018
- Climate change, water and the spread of diseases: connecting the dots differently by Lenore Manderson, The Conversation Africa, Sep 16, 2018
- Tsunami' of new wind and solar projects drives renewables output to a record by Peter Hannam, Environment, Sydney Morning Herald, Sep 17, 2018
- Photos: Typhoon Mangkhut ravages Philippines, Hong Kong, and southern China by Jen Kirby, Vox, Sep 17, 2018
- Voters Are Ready for a Green New Deal. Are Democrats? by Eric Leventz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, Sep 18, 2018
- Flooding causes a hog lagoon to breach; others are at capacity by Will Doran, Raleigh News & Observer, Sep 18, 2018
- We Gotta Get a Better Battery. But How? by Jason Pontin, Ideas, Wired, Sep 17, 2018
- Fear near Cape Fear rises with the river, and the death toll from Florence keeps rising by Holly Yan , Amanda Watts Kaylee Hartung, CNN, Sep 18, 2018
- 'This one feels different': Hurricane Florence can start a new conversation, Opinion by Megan Mayhew Bergman, Comment is Free, Guardian, Sep 15, 2018
- Typhoon Mangkhut bill could set Hong Kong record of US$1 billion in insurance claims by Denise Tsang, Enoch Yiu & Tony Cheung, South China Morning Post, Sep 17, 2018
- The Divestment Movement to Combat Climate Change Is All Grown Up by Carolyn Kormann, Dispatch, The New Yorker, Sep 14, 2018
- 'Dumbest Policy in the World': Report Details How Canada's Massive Fossil Fuel Subsidies Undermine Climate Action by Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams, Sep 17, 2018
Wed Sep 19, 2018
- An Equator Full of Hurricanes Shows a Preview of End Times by Adam Rogers, Science, Wired, Sep 14, 2018
- USA Today publishes still more climate misinformation, denying a link between climate change and hurricanes by Lisa Hymas, Media Matters for America, Sep 14, 2018
- Humans Have Been Messing With the Climate for Thousands of Years by Marlene Cimons, Nexus Media, Sep 17, 2018
- Attributing the Impact of Climate Change on Florence In Near Real Time by Laura Snider, NCAR & UCAR News, Sep 18, 2018
- At the Edge of the World, Facing the End of the World by Matt Simon, Science, Wired, Sep 17, 2018
- Climate change is real. Welcome to the new normal., Opinion by Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, Sep 18, 2018
- Trump Administration Formally Rolls Back Rule Aimed at Limiting Methane Pollution by Lisa Friedman, Climate, New York Times, Sep 19, 2018
- Jerry Brown Made Climate Change His Issue. Now, He’s Not Sure How Much Politicians Can Do. by Somini Sengupta, Climate, New York Times, Sep 18, 2018
Thu Sep 20, 2018
- Why hurricanes are expected to dump more rain in a warming world by Umair Irfan & Eliza Barclay, Energy & Environment, Vox, Sep 14, 2018
- Q&A: Why cement emissions matter for climate change by Jocelyn Timperley, Carbon Brief, Sep 13, 2018
- Greenland and the hunt for better climate science by Alister Doyle, Elizabeth Culliford & Lucas Jackson, Reuters, Sep 19, 2018
- A groundbreaking Hurricane Florence study could change how we think about climate by Kate Yoder, Grist, Sep 18, 2018
- Shell and Exxon's secret 1980s climate change warnings by Benjamin Franta, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Environment, Guardian, Sep 19, 2018
- The Private Intelligence Firm Keeping Tabs on Environmentalists by Adam Federman, Mother Jones, Sep 14, 2018
- 2 storms, Florence and Mangkhut, different as water and wind by Seth Borenstein, AP News, Sep 16, 2018
- At this rate, Earth risks sea level rise of 20 to 30 feet, historical analysis shows by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Sep 20, 2018
Fri Sep 21, 2018
- Melting Arctic Permafrost Releases Acid that Dissolves Rocks by Mindy Weisberger, LiveScience, Sep 18, 2018
- Spotted at the Climate Summit: Republican Mayors by Liz Enochs, City Lab, Sep 19, 2018
- We can't fight climate change without national leadership, Opinion by Daniel Cohan, Gray Matters, Houston Chronicle, Sep 19, 2018
- How Arctic warming could have steered Hurricane Florence towards the US, Guest Post by Jennifer Francis, Carbon Brief, Sep 17, 2018
- 'It's hyped up': climate change skeptics in the path of Hurricane Florence by Adam Gabbatt (in Fayetteville, NC), Environment, Guardian, Sep 20, 2018
- Energy efficiency can address climate change, drive prosperity, and strengthen national security, Press Release, Rocky Mountain Institute, Sep 18, 2018
- Stewardship: a user’s manual, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sep 18, 2018
- Climate Change Made Florence a Monster—but Media Failed to Tell That Story by Jim Naureckas, FAIR, Sep 20, 2018
Sat Sep 22, 2018
- Limiting warming to 2C would prevent ‘worldwide increases’ in heat-related deaths by Daisy Dunne, Carbon Brief, Sep 13, 2018
- New Jersey Makes Way For 1.1 Gigawatt Offshore Wind by Joshua S Hill, CleanTechnica, Sep 21, 2018
- Crop losses to insects will accelerate as the globe warms: study by Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, Sep 18, 2018
- Solar Energy Largely Unscathed by Hurricane Florence’s Wind and Rain by Dan Gearino, InsideClimate News, Sep 20, 2018
- Climate Summit Highlights States’ Commitment to Combating Global Warming by Russell Fortmeyer, Architectural Record, Sep 20, 2018
- Florence’s Floods Reveal Exposure of Rural Areas to Climate Change by Adam Aton & Daniel Cusick, E&E News/Scientific American, Sep 18, 2018
- Dam breach sends toxic coal ash flowing into a major North Carolina river by Brady Dennis,Steven Mufson & Juliet Eilperin, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Sep 22, 2018
- 'There is still more of hurricane season to go': Expert warns another tropical threat may make US landfall by Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather, Sep 22, 2018
- New research, September 10-16, 2018 by Ari Jokimäki, Skeptical Science, Sep 21, 2018
A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.Climate change
State of the Climate in 2017 (open access)
Temperature, precipitation, wind
Forcings and feedbacks
Atmospheric and oceanic circulation
Carbon and nitrogen cycles
Climate change communication
General climate science
One day in 1961, an American economist named Daniel Ellsberg stumbled across a piece of paper with apocalyptic implications. Ellsberg, who was advising the US government on its secret nuclear war plans, had discovered a document that contained an official estimate of the death toll in a preemptive “first strike” on China and the Soviet Union: 300 million in those countries, and double that globally.
Ellsberg was troubled that such a plan existed; years later, he tried to leak the details of nuclear annihilation to the public. Although his attempt failed, Ellsberg would become famous instead for leaking what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers – the US government’s secret history of its military intervention in Vietnam.
America’s amoral military planning during the Cold War echoes the hubris exhibited by another cast of characters gambling with the fate of humanity. Recently, secret documents have been unearthed detailing what the energy industry knew about the links between their products and global warming. But, unlike the government’s nuclear plans, what the industry detailed was put into action.
In the 1980s, oil companies like Exxon and Shell carried out internal assessments of the carbon dioxide released by fossil fuels, and forecast the planetary consequences of these emissions. In 1982, for example, Exxon predicted that by about 2060, CO2 levels would reach around 560 parts per million – double the preindustrial level – and that this would push the planet’s average temperatures up by about 2°C over then-current levels (and even more compared to pre-industrial levels).
Later that decade, in 1988, an internal report by Shell projected similar effects but also found that CO2 could double even earlier, by 2030. Privately, these companies did not dispute the links between their products, global warming, and ecological calamity. On the contrary, their research confirmed the connections.
Shell’s assessment foresaw a one-meter sea-level rise, and noted that warming could also fuel disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, resulting in a worldwide rise in sea level of “five to six meters.” That would be enough to inundate entire low-lying countries.
Shell’s analysts also warned of the “disappearance of specific ecosystems or habitat destruction,” predicted an increase in “runoff, destructive floods, and inundation of low-lying farmland,” and said that “new sources of freshwater would be required” to compensate for changes in precipitation. Global changes in air temperature would also “drastically change the way people live and work.” All told, Shell concluded, “the changes may be the greatest in recorded history.”
For its part, Exxon warned of “potentially catastrophic events that must be considered.” Like Shell’s experts, Exxon’s scientists predicted devastating sea-level rise, and warned that the American Midwest and other parts of the world could become desert-like. Looking on the bright side, the company expressed its confidence that “this problem is not as significant to mankind as a nuclear holocaust or world famine.”
The documents make for frightening reading. And the effect is all the more chilling in view of the oil giants’ refusal to warn the public about the damage that their own researchers predicted. Shell’s report, marked “confidential,” was first disclosed by a Dutch news organization earlier this year. Exxon’s study was not intended for external distribution, either; it was leaked in 2015.
Nor did the companies ever take responsibility for their products. In Shell’s study, the firm argued that the “main burden” of addressing climate change rests not with the energy industry, but with governments and consumers. That argument might have made sense if oil executives, including those from Exxon and Shell, had not later lied about climate change and actively prevented governments from enacting clean-energy policies.
Although the details of global warming were foreign to most people in the 1980s, among the few who had a better idea than most were the companies contributing the most to it. Despite scientific uncertainties, the bottom line was this: oil firms recognized that their products added CO2 to the atmosphere, understood that this would lead to warming, and calculated the likely consequences. And then they chose to accept those risks on our behalf, at our expense, and without our knowledge.