by Judith Curry
So, during 2011, what was interesting and what “mattered” in the climate debate?
A few other blogs have put out top 10 lists of stories related science, climate, and/or energy.
Neil Wagner at Huffingtonpost has an article entitled “Climate Change 2011 Year in Review: Good News, Bad News.
Climate change news in 2011 played out like a “good news, bad news” joke. “Good news! This year wasn’t as warm as 2010!” “Good to hear.” “But it was history’s tenth warmest year.” “D-OH!”
We read that renewable energy has surpassed fossil fuel in new energy investment for the first time in history, but learned from the same article that the United Nations’ climate talks are going badly.
RealClearScience Top 10 Stories for 2011 includes a climate story as #8:
#8. Climategate 2.0 & BEST Study.
The son of Climategate returned as Climategate 2.0. Yet another batch of unflattering emails — around 5,000 — were leaked onto the Internet in mid-November. The emails showed an apparent attempt by prominent climate researchers to be less than transparent about the scientific evidence of anthropogenic global warming. In stark contrast to the scandal redux, a leading team of scientists released the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study in October. Analyzing temperature data from over 39,000 temperature stations worldwide, BEST found that global warming is indeed real, reporting, “reliable evidence of a rise in the average world land temperature of approximately 1 degree Celsius since the mid-1950s.”
10. Time Running Out on Global Warming
This was the year that dashed the hopes raised over the seeming slowdown in carbon dioxide emissions, now clearly seen as a brief pause caused by economic slowdown. Although global economies have not rebounded, fossil fuel emissions have. The World Meteorological Association confirmed late this year that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new post-industrial age high in 2010, and the rate of increase has accelerated.
Fueled largely by coal, in 2011 China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest energy user—one of many reasons that greenhouse gas emissions have broken new records, after a dip in 2009 following the economic crash. (Above, laborers in China look for usable coal at a cinder dump site.)
The International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that fossil fuel demand is growing so fast that the world now has only about five years to make a dramatic turnaround in policies to keep global warming below 3.6°F (2°C), a threshold many countries have pledged to stay below.
In many richer nations, economic woes had governments pulling back on policies to limit the burning of fossil fuel. Spain and the United Kingdom, among others, slashed their subsidies for renewable energy, and investment in wind and solar did not continue to soar as it had before the crash. Nonetheless, in 2011 investment in renewables surpassed that for fossil fuels for the first time.
The other big stor(ies) have been about weather/climate disasters, for a review see Yahoo’s Year in Review: Extreme Weather.
Climate Etc.’s greatest “hits”
- Scenarios: 2010-2040. Part III: Climate shifts
- Climate Change and Security
- Epistemology of Disagreement
- Spatiotemporal Chaos (Tomas Milanovic)
- Reasoning About Floods and Climate Change
- Talking Past Each Other?
- Hidden Knowledge
- Manufacturing(?) Consensus
- Can we make good decisions under ignorance?