by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week
Heat waves and politics
The political impact of the U.S. heat waves seems to be summarized by this WaPo headline: Washington’s hell week puts climate change back on the radar, with the following punchline: ”it’s a total PR score for the climate change community.“
ThinkProgress provides a summary of what 3 U.S. government officials have to say:
From Jane Lubchenco, Undersecretary of NOAA: “Many people around the world are beginning to appreciate that climate change is under way, that it’s having consequences that are playing out in real time and, in the United States at least, we are seeing more and more examples of extreme weather and extreme climate-related events.” “People’s perceptions in the United States, at least, are in many cases beginning to change as they experience something first-hand that they at least think is directly attributable to climate change.”
From Morris Sherman, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Resources and Natural Environment: “the climate is changing, and these fires are a very strong indicator of that.”
From Janet Napolitano, Secretary Homeland Security: “But when you see one after another after another then you can see, yeah, there’s a pattern here.”
Extreme event attribution debate
Leo Hickman of the Guardian poses the following question to climate scientists [link]:
So, can we now say, or not, that specific extreme weather events are caused, or at least exacerbated, by global warming? Has anything changed in climate scientists’ understanding of the attribution – or “anthropogenic fingerprint” – of such events? Are they now more confident about making such links?
The following scientists provided responses: Kerry Emanuel, Peter Stott, Michael Mann, Clare Goodess, Doug Smith, Michael Oppenheimer, Harold Brooks, Michael Wehner.
Nothing too surprising here, but kudos for interviewing some scientists that typically aren’t in reporters’ contact file. The responses are worth reading. The best response IMO is from Harold Brooks.
The big fires in the western U.S. have also spawned a debate on attribution. Andy Revkin has a superb articles on this entitled Blame-ologists and the Colorado fires. Here is the money quote: “But when there’s a disaster, if the goal is to limit chances of a new one, it’s best to examine causes and drivers of risk without ideological filters.”
Last April, we had a thread on Madrid 1995, referring to Part I at Enthusiasm, Skepticism and Science. The final two parts have now been posted. The links to the three parts are:
- Madrid 1995: Was this the tipping point in the corruption of climate science?
- Madrid 1995 and the quest for the mirror in the sky (Part II)
- Madrid 1995 and the quest for the mirror in the sky (Part III)
This series provides a fascinating look at the controversies surrounding the IPCC SAR.
NYTimes has a lengthy article on Lonnie Thompson entitled A climate scientist battles time and mortality. The big news is that Lonnie recently had a heart transplant (I had heard nothing of his health difficulties). He has been back in the office for a month, I’m glad to hear that he seems to be doing well. He is looking forward to going back into the field, particularly for an unexplored ice cap in China. I was struck by this statement:
Now those scientists are beginning to age out of the field. Many of them say they grapple with the question of how hard to keep pushing themselves. Could one more finding or one more expedition help turn the tide of public awareness?
Lonnie seems set to follow the path of Steve Schneider, who kept travelling and speaking even in the face of serious health problems. As I ponder my own eventual ‘winding down’, I think a far greater impact from senior scientists would be in the area of synthesis: assembling and integrating their data sets for posterity, linking of ideas in textbooks, etc. Avoiding the rigors of field work and international travel probably would extend life span and the integral of the scientist’s contribution. Lonnie could make a huge and lasting impact by archiving his ice core data.