All posts in climate change science

  • wg1cover
    Peter Jones - March 3, 2014

    Global Warming doesn’t mean “no more winter”!

    The Polar Vortex (aka the Arctic Oscillation) has been the subject of comments in 4RG. Follow these links to see how 4RG has tracked changes in this generator of the cold weather North American has been experiencing this year.

    Go to last year’s commentary on the winter of 2013 - the blog was based on articles from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British Met Office.  Here is what we wrote:

     “. . . the Arctic Polar Jet Stream has gone “loopy”.  Usually the jet stream is a fast flowing high atmospheric air current found between air masses of significantly different temperature.  With the warming of the Arctic the temperature difference is less so the jet stream is weakening.   As it weakens, it starts to meander, looping to the South. The most recent atmospheric charts of the jet stream show significant loops.” [“Loopy”=1. full of loops. 2.Slang. a. eccentric; crazy; dotty . . . ]

    Speaking of “ crazy” is there anything crazier than the Southern California experience of no rain for months ending with extreme rainfall from thunderstorms that brought mudslides, impassable roads, sinkholes, flash floods, power outages . . . you name it.  But according to TIME Magazine no relief from the drought conditions!

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  • wellington-640x360
    Peter Jones - January 30, 2014

    Attacking credibility is easier than attacking Science

    Attacks on the credibility and integrity of scientists who were the authors of the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were without merit.  Yet the tag of “Climategate” stuck, and public support for measures against climate change dropped.

    A group of New Zealand Denialists with the fanciful title of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, attempted to use this technique of attacking credibility to undermine reports from Government scientists.

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  • CNSPhoto-DeSouza-Climate-Oilsands
    Peter Jones - January 16, 2014

    Fossil Fuel Executives on the Defensive

    Dave Collyer, the President of the Canadian Association Petroleum Producers, has criticized Neil Young for his “divisiveness”, a reference to Young’s comments on the exploitation of the tar sands. The head line for his article is what Collyer would like the Canadian public to believe:  the petroleum industry states the “oil-sands facts” while Young engages in “rock star rhetoric”.

    Collyer suggests that the “chorus to significantly slow or stop development . . . comes from anti-fossil fuel activists, not scientists, not regulators and definitely not consumers.”   Is this in itself not a tad rhetorical?  Numerous scientists have warned about the consequences of continued exploitation of reserves. Are the authors of scientific studies concerned about global warming not really scientists?

    And what about the comments of James Byrne, a Climate Scientist at the University of Lethbridge?   “High Stakes Climate Poker”,the title of his very recent article in the Manchester Guardian is a fair description of the political games in which the fossil fuel industry is engaged. In it he explains how the fossil fuel industry is betting that we’ll keep pumping it money instead of paying less to switch to renewable energy

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  • Peter Jones - January 6, 2014

    You must see this video!

    If you want a sobering video on the possible results of climate change, follow this link to Last Hours.  The video presents a chilling future – mass extinction of life on this planet that may happen if we don’t stop global warming now.

    Just after the Second World War I started to read “Flash Gordon”, then a popular comic strip. Flash was an interplanetary voyager who navigated his space ship to other planets, real and imaginary.  The comic strip was pure fantasy. Planetary travel was unthinkable except to impressionable kids.

    I mention Flash as an example of events that all but a very few regarded as children’s reading fodder.

    Mass extinction is surely unthinkable . . . but Last Hours explains how it could happen.

    As a denialist website points out, the scientific conclusions in the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describe the events presented in the video that could lead to mass extinction as very unlikely.  The authors of the report have high confidence in this conclusion.

    What people may not realize is that this conclusion is based on assumptions that could be wrong! Paragraph 12.1 of the introduction to the Report sets out these assumptions:

    “Projections of climate change are uncertain, firstly because they are primarily dependent on scenarios of future anthropogenic [Greenhouse Gases]  and natural forcings that are uncertain, secondly because of incomplete understanding and imprecise models of the climate system and finally because of the existence of internal climate variability.” (emphasis and insert added!)

    If we do restrict global warming to 2 degrees, or some other relatively low amount, the doomsday events presented by the video will not occur.

    But if the world continues to follow the “business as usual” approach, i.e. year by year increases in emissions of GreenHouse Gases, the possibility of an abrupt and irreversible extinction becomes more likely.

    The Last Hours video clearly presents the circumstances of that “unthinkable” possibility.

  • Peter Jones - November 15, 2013

    Climate Scientists – Doctors of the Climate

    The IPCC’s fifth assessment report strengthens the overwhelming majority opinion of scientists working in the area that humans are responsible for climate change.

    More than 97% of physicists, engineers, mathematicians, climatologists and geologists working on climate agree on two things: humans are generating large quantities of carbon dioxide and that this carbon dioxide traps heat in our atmosphere leading to global warming.

    If you polled physicians, biologists, geneticists and pharmacologists who study the effects of cholesterol there would be about a 97% consensus that elevated cholesterol causes heart disease. People generally tend to take these findings very seriously; changing their diet, increasing their daily exercise and even taking medications to lower cholesterol and mitigate against its harmful effects.

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  • Peter Jones - November 11, 2013

    Typhoon HAIYAN and Climate Change

    Today’s issue of the Globe & Mail carried lengthy commentary on the Philippines tragedy, the extraordinary devastation and high death toll caused by Typhoon Haiyan.  There was not one sentence linking Haiyan to climate change.

    The Toronto Star also carried numerous articles about Haiyan, in which there was a short reference to the remarks of Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the COP19 talks in Warsaw in which she referred to the “sobering reality” . . . of Typhoon Haiyan.

    The Star explained that scientists are unwilling to link a single storm to global warming, as the link between warming and hurricane activity is unclear. The Star also commented:

    “Even by the standards of the Philippines, however, Haiyan is an epic catastrophe. Its winds were among the strongest ever recorded, and it appears to have killed more people than the previous deadliest Philippine storm, Thelma, in which about 5,100 people died in the central Philippines in 1991.”

    The problem is that the Fifth Assessment Report released by the International Panel on Climate Change is very guarded in its attribution of extreme weather events to climate change.  This caution may be the wisest course in the long run.  However, as we explained in our commentary “Can Science be trusted”, the lack of a connection means that members of the public will continue to believe that science is not settled.

    Ecoearth, a climate change Website, set out the common sense conclusion to be drawn from Haiyan.

    “The Typhoon Haiyan super storm, coming in quick succession after Hurricane Sandy and widespread evident climate weirding, illustrates clearly that abrupt climate change intensified extreme weather is surging, and may already be runaway. We need to know the probability that such risks are growing exponentially and whether they can be stopped. “

    Ecoearth gives people a chance to pressure the IPCC by subscribing to a letter addressed to its Chairperson, Rajendra Pachauri.  The letter states:

    “Typhoon Haiyan – believed to be the biggest storm to make landfall on record – clearly demonstrates the risk posed by abrupt climate change intensified extreme super storms. Yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the United Nations science body that assesses the state of climate science – is failing to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment that takes into account amplifying positive feedbacks and worse case scenarios. Without such a transparent and comprehensive climate risk assessment, that is free of government interference – the world finds it difficult to assess climate risk – and is unlikely to embrace urgent emissions cuts, protect and restore ecosystems, and implement a global carbon tax. Please demand such reforms at the IPCC.”

    To subscribe to this letter go to this site, where the full text of the letter and the numerous intended recipients can be found.