by Judith Curry
Here are a few things that caught my eye this past week.
Brown University’s Climate and Development lab has in interesting post entitled “Running from climate change: Obama administration’s changing rhetoric.”
The phrases “climate change” and “global warming” have become all but taboo on Capital Hill. These terms are stunningly absent from the political arena, and have been since 2010. As Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) SAID on October 13th, “It has become no longer politically correct in certain circles in Washington to speak about climate change or carbon pollution or how carbon pollution is causing our climate to change.” Why?
The ratio of the administration’s usage of “climate change” versus “energy” has changed significantly since Obama’s 2008 campaign days. “Climate change” rhetoric saw its brief heyday in 2009, thanks to the popularity of the President, the streamlined message of unified party government, and the hope for legislative action before the United Nations climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. Climate change rhetoric was most prominent during 2009, when it was mentioned 246 times and the months with highest frequency were April and November. Interestingly, the only point at which these two levels were equivalent was in November of 2009–the month the Copenhagen Conference began. Since then, the ratio of energy to climate rhetoric has steadily increased, and the phrase “climate change” is routinely omitted in favor of clean energy-related diction.
JC comment: the changepoint at Nov 2009 is telling.
Andy Revkin has two interesting posts:
I believe it’s time for Rajendra K. Pachauri to take a new approach to discussing climate change or leave the chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change after nearly a decade in that position. There is an unavoidable and counterproductive blurriness to the line between his personal advocacy for climate action — which is his right as an individual — and his stature as the leader of the panel, which was established in 1988 as “a policy relevant but policy neutral organization.”
Pachauri joked that [Richard] Branson could give climate deniers tickets on the aviation mogul’s planned flights into outer space. “Perhaps it could be a one-way ticket,” Pachauri said, smiling, “though I’m not sure space deserves them.”
In an e-mail message, Kenneth Caldeira, who studies climate for the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University (and who is a participant in some of the panel’s assessments), used the post as an opportunity to examine a broader question about the panel’s role and future. Here’s his “Your Dot” contribution (JC excerpts):
Clearly, at the outset, the early IPCC reports played an important role showing that there was a high degree of consensus around the reality and basic science of human-induced climate change.
But can anybody point to any important positive outcomes resulting from the IPCC AR4 process? Is there reason to expect a greater positive impact from the IPCC AR5 process?
Again, I think the IPCC has been extremely useful in the past, and I believe the IPCC could be extremely useful in the future. But, if the IPCC is to be extremely useful, it must re-invent itself, so that it efficiently supplies decision-makers with the most important and reliable scientific information while placing a minimum of additional burden on the scientific community.
(As an aside, I recently resigned as a lead author of an IPCC AR5 chapter simply because I felt I had more effective ways of using the limited amount of time that I have to engage in scientific activities.
An important question is: How can the IPCC be made into a more efficient and effective vehicle for scientific communication? It would be good to have this discussion before the AR6 train leaves the station.
China has warned the European Union to abandon its controversial carbon tax on airlines or risk provoking a global trade war. Adding weight to the warning, an industry insider told the Financial Times that the Chinese government was seriously considering measures to hit back at the EU if it insists on charging international airlines for their carbon emissions.
Bill Gray and Phil Klotzbach have ceased making forecasts in December for the following hurricane season, because they say there is no skill in the December forecasts. That is what many of us have been saying for a long time.
Chris Landsea has written an essay on hurricanes and global warming. Its a pretty good article, gives a good overview. For reference, my blog post on hurricanes and global warming is here. Surprisingly, Landsea seems to trust the climate models more than I do.
Environmentalism and freedom
Ben Pile has an interesting essay entitled Environmentalism and freedom that describes a recent debate between George Monbiot and Fiona Fox.
Monbiot: Do you accept that some people’s freedoms intrude upon other people’s freedoms?
This leads to a very interesting discussion between Monbiot and Fox, with provocative commentary from Pile. Well worth reading (comments are interesting also).
I would like to extend my very best wishes for the holidays to all. I will be spending a quiet week with family. I will have time to prepare new blog material, but will probably be posting new material relatively slowly (depending on traffic).