Opinion | Sliding Down the Climate Slope – By Gernot Wagner and Constantine Samaras – The New York Times

By Gernot Wagner and 

Drs. Wagner and Samaras are academics whose work focuses on climate change.

CreditCreditChase Dekker/Wild-Life Images, via Moment –Getty Images Plus

“Twelve years is at once an eternity and right around the corner. Just ask any parent watching their kids grow up. So it hits home when a growing chorus of often young voices — from proponents of the Green New Deal to the global Youth Climate Strike — says forcefully that the world has 12 years left to avoid disastrous climate change. This is just the latest dire warning about time running out issued over the past 20 years. But this deadline is different — it’s both entirely wrong, and oh so right.

The idea of a 12-year deadline arose last fall with the release of a special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The United Nations group of climate scientists from around the world said that if the planet’s governments want to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial temperatures, a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit above today’s levels, society will have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by about half by 2030, declining further to net zero by around midcentury. The “about” and “around” typically get dropped in translation, rendering the outcome falsely precise, especially in headlines about the report. The Guardian, for example, announced: “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns U.N.”

Now, of course, it would be 11 years.

Technically, this deadline is wrong, not least because it is much too precise. The world won’t end in 2030 if emissions don’t decline. The NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel summed it up perfectly: “Climate change isn’t a cliff we fall off, but a slope we slide down.”

That’s one of the many reasons climate change is such a difficult problem. There’s no obvious stop sign, no simple red line. The reverse is also true: There won’t be a superhero ending to this movie, a point when climate change will have been “solved.” Our children and grandchildren — and theirs — will be managing the impacts of climate change for decades and centuries to come.”

Opinion | Is Climate Change Inconvenient or Existential? Only Supercomputers Can Do the Math – By Sabine Hossenfelder – The New York Times

“Earth is warming, and we know why. Light is reflected and absorbed by clouds, air, oceans, ice and land. Greenhouse gases are released and adsorbed by organic and inorganic sources. Both exchanges depend on a variety of factors such as temperature, ocean acidity, the amount of vegetation and — yes — the burning of fossil fuels.

What’s less clear is what climate change means for our future. “It’s not like this is string theory,” said Timothy Palmer, professor of climate physics at the University of Oxford. “We know the equations.” But we don’t know how to solve them. The many factors that affect the climate interact with one another and give rise to interconnected feedback cycles. The mathematics is so complex, the only way scientists know to handle it is by feeding the problem into computers, which then approximately solve the equations.

The International Panel for Climate Change based its latest full report, in 2014, on predictions from about two dozen such computer models. These models were independently developed by institutions in multiple countries. While similar in methodology, the models arrive at somewhat different long-term predictions. They all agree that Earth will continue to warm, but disagree on how much and how quickly.”

Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr:

Everyone please look at the article above.

Amazing, heartbreaking. Caution: intelligent people should be warned that this story might cause depression and despair. The antidote, go see Al Gore’s second film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power. It is full of good news.

Here is my comment at the NYT.

Thank you Nathanial Rich and the NYT. There are real villains in this story. I was unaware that George H W Bush beat Michael Dukakis partly because Dukakis was pro Coal and a climate change denier, and George HW Bush was looking for a way to beat Dukakis in New Hamshire, where the former Governor, John Sununu recommended climate change was popular in his state. These two men are the villains. Sununu almost single handedly, according to this short history, derailed the climate change summit in 1988, that was headed to world action on carbon dioxide pollution. Sununu deserves our disgust and contempt, but he wasn’t the only villain. George HW Bush was an oil and gas man from Texas, and he put as his Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, another oil and gas executive. Both Bush presidents were intellectual light weights. According to this short history, HW Bush didn’t like or let scientist brief him. He preferred getting briefed by his political buddies. Billions of people will probably suffer, and many of them die, in the ugly centuries ahead, even if we get serious about climate change after the next election or two. There will be plenty of blood, on many hands, but there will be a specially hot place in the 9th ring of hell, for John Sununu, Dick Cheney, and the anti-science Bush presidents. Don’t quit, don’t despair. Get environmental patriots to the polls, and to run for office.

David Lindsay Jr. blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

 

 

Opinion | A Prophet of Doom Was Right About the Climate – by Justin Gillis – The New York Times

“June 23 turned out be a blistering day in Washington, and much of the nation was suffering through a drought and heat wave. Dr. Hansen took his seat in a Capitol Hill hearing room and laid out the scientific facts as best he understood them.He had thought up a good line the night before, during the Yankees game, but in the moment he forgot to deliver it.

When the hearing ended, though, reporters surrounded him, and he remembered.  “It is time to stop waffling so much,” he said, “and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.”

His near certainty that human emissions were already altering the climate caught the attention of a sweltering nation, catapulting Dr. Hansen to overnight fame. That year, 1988, would go on to be the hottest in a global temperature record stretching back to the 19th century.With the perspective of three decades, it is fair to ask: How right was his forecast?”

. . . .

“So while his temperature forecast was not flawless, in a larger sense, Dr. Hansen’s 1988 warning has turned out to be entirely on target. As emissions have soared, the planet has warmed relentlessly, just as he said it would; 1988 is not even in the top 20 warmest years now. Every year of this century has been hotter.

The ocean is rising, as Dr. Hansen predicted, and the pace seems to be accelerating. The great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are dumping ever-rising volumes of water into the sea. Coastal flooding is increasing rapidly in the United States. The Arctic Ocean ice cap has shrunk drastically.

If his warning in 1988 had been met with a national policy to reduce emissions, other countries might have followed, and the world would be in much better shape.  . . . . “

David Lindsay:  Thank you Justin Gillis. Here is one of my favorite comments at the NYT.com:

Steve
New Mexico 

Words don’t quite convey just how accurate Hansen’s predictions were. See
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2018/06/30-years-after-han…
for a graph comparing his three scenarios with what actually happened. How anyone can look at that graph and claim Hansen was “wrong” in his predictions, as several commenters here have already done, is beyond me. Science is not a matter of opinion. Human-caused climate change is as real and undeniable as gravity.

 

 

The Lost History of One of the World’s Strangest Science Experiments – by Carl Zimmer – The New York Times

“. . . The scientists Joel Cohen and David Tilman wrote, “No one yet knows how to engineer systems that provide humans with the life-supporting services that natural ecosystems produce for free.”

But it would be a mistake to dismiss Biosphere 2 out of hand. For two years, eight people grew papayas, beets, bananas, rice and a host of other crops in there. Except for a sliced finger, their health remained good. The water they drank didn’t poison them. Some species went extinct, but the ecosystems endured. Biosphere 2 did not turn to slime.

As a piece of scientific research, Biosphere 2 had its problems. Countless things were happening all at once inside its walls, making it hard to pinpoint causes and effects. And without any other biospheres to compare it to, there was no way to distinguish random flukes from significant patterns. The University of Arizona scientist Bob Fry summed it up well in a newspaper interview: “It’s an experiment, but only in the sense that life is an experiment.” “

Scientific Consensus | Facts – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet – climate.nasa.gov

“Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree*: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.

AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES
Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations
“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.”” (2009)2

Source: Scientific Consensus | Facts – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet

Opinion | Climate Denial Was the Crucible for Trumpism – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Many observers seem baffled by Republican fealty to Donald Trump — the party’s willingness to back him on all fronts, even after severe defeats in the midterm elections. What kind of party would show such support for a leader who is not only evidently corrupt and seemingly in the pocket of foreign dictators, but also routinely denies facts and tries to criminalize anyone who points them out?

The answer is, the kind of the party that, long before Trump came on the scene, committed itself to denying the facts on climate change and criminalizing the scientists reporting those facts.

The G.O.P. wasn’t always an anti-environment, anti-science party. George H.W. Bush introduced the cap-and-trade program that largely controlled the problem of acid rain. As late as 2008, John McCain called for a similar program to limit emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

But McCain’s party was already well along in the process of becoming what it is today — a party that is not only completely dominated by climate deniers, but is hostile to science in general, that demonizes and tries to destroy scientists who challenge its dogma.”

‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget | by Blaine Friedlander – Cornell Chronicle

“Here’s the scientific dirt: Soil can help reduce global warming.

While farm soil grows the world’s food and fiber, scientists are examining ways to use it to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.“We can substantially reduce atmospheric carbon by using soil. We have the technology now to begin employing good soil practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Johannes Lehmann, Cornell professor of soil and crop sciences, co-author of the Perspectives piece, “Climate-smart Soils,” published in Nature, April 6.Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that tighten the soil-nitrogen cycle can yield enhanced soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution. These practices also buffer crop and pasture systems against the impacts of climate change.

Currently, Earth’s atmosphere holds about 830 petagrams (1 trillion kilograms) of carbon and humans add about 10 petagrams of carbon to the atmosphere every year, because of industrial and agricultural waste, and fossil-fuel burning vehicles, according to Lehmann. Soils, however, hold about 4,800 petagrams of carbon to a depth of 2 meters, which is six times the amount of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere. The good news is that soils have the potential to hold even more, said the scientists.”

Source: ‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget | Cornell Chronicle

Harvey- the Storm That Humans Helped Cause – by David Leonhardt – NYT

Even before the devastation from Harvey, southeastern Texas was enduring a year unlike any before.The daily surface temperature of the Gulf of Mexico last winter never dropped below 73 degrees. You can probably guess how many previous times that had happened: Zero.

This sort of heat has a specific effect on storms: Warmer weather causes heavier rainfall. Why? When the seas warm, more moisture evaporates into the air, and when the air warms — which has also been happening in Texas — it can carry more moisture.The severity of Harvey, in other words, is almost certainly related to climate change.Yes, I know the sober warning that’s issued whenever an extreme weather disaster occurs: No individual storm can be definitively blamed on climate change. It’s true, too. Some version of Harvey probably would have happened without climate change, and we’ll never know the hypothetical truth.

But it’s time to shed some of the fussy over-precision about the relationship between climate change and weather. James Hansen, the eminent climate researcher, has used the term “scientific reticence” to describe this problem. Out of an abundance of academic caution — a caution that is in many ways admirable — scientists (and journalists) have obscured climate change’s true effects.”

Comments are great. such as,

Robin Rutherford

Hunterville New Zealand 9 hours ago

Every gallon of gasoline emits 20lb of CO2 which stays in the atmosphere and absorbs heat. So, in one year, one car uses 250 gallons gasoline and produces 2 tons of CO2. We need to begin to think of car trips not in terms of dollars but in terms of lb’s of CO2 emitted. There is no leadership in this area, we must do it ourselves and start limiting our vehicle use to save the world for our children and grandchildren.

The Relationship Between Hurricanes and Climate Change – by John Schwartz – NYT

“Temperatures have been rising, and theory and computer modeling suggest an increase in storm intensity in a warmer world, “and the models generally show an increase in the number of very intense” storms.And while the science of attributing weather events to climate change is advancing, “studies of individual events will typically contain caveats,” the report stated.”