by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
After the election, President Obama is now talking about climate change. He isn’t proposing any specific policies, but wants to have a ‘conversation.’ Huffington Post has an article on this:
“I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions,” Obama said. “And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.”
Responding to a question from The New York Times’ Mark Landler about calls to combat climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Obama cautioned, as others have, that no single weather event can be linked directly to climate change. But he said that the overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that the changing climate is contributing to extreme weather more generally.
“What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago,” Obama stated. “We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.”
Hmmmmm. . . I wonder what his source was on the bolded statement.
Some welcome climate caution from DailyClimate. Tread carefully linking extreme weather to climate crisis. An excerpt:
Many climate advocates hope that the recent bout of extreme weather will awaken Americans to the dangers of climate change. Advocates and scientists have pointed to superstorm Sandy and the Texas drought as clear and present signs of the climate crisis. Although the public does seem to be taking notice, I fear these efforts could backfire if we do not proceed cautiously with our framing around extreme weather and climate change. Our challenge to solve the climate crisis could become more difficult in the end.
How? Let’s consider where efforts to tie extreme weather to climate crisis might lead:
1. Could linking today’s extreme weather with the urgency of the climate crisis lead the public to support policies that reduce emissions?
Probably not. The link between today’s extreme weather and greenhouse gas policy is weak. Policy decisions made today are not going to eliminate or even significantly alter the patterns of these extreme weather events in the next few decades.
This is due to the long lifetime of the heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere coupled with the time it takes to change our societal infrastructure. Furthermore, over the near and medium term, there are more effective ways to respond to extreme weather, namely investing in infrastructure, planning, and institution-building to make communities more resilient.
Be persuasive, be brave, be arrested
Nature has published commentary by Jeremy Grantham entitled Be persuasive. Be brave. Be arrested (if necessary). Subtitle: A resource crisis exacerbated by global warming is looming, argues financier Jeremy Grantham. More scientists must speak out. His closing paragraph:
It is crucial that scientists take more career risks and sound a more realistic, more desperate, note on the global-warming problem. Younger scientists are obsessed by thoughts of tenure, so it is probably up to older, senior and retired scientists to do the heavy lifting. Be arrested if necessary. This is not only the crisis of your lives — it is also the crisis of our species’ existence. I implore you to be brave.
Well this is a different angle on ‘going emeritus.’
The Christian Science Monitor has a very good article Can the U.S. adapt in time to avert coastal damage?
In case you haven’t picked up on this from comments on the other threads, there is a new blog Climate Dialogue, which has a unique format. From the About page:
Climate Dialogue offers a platform for discussions between (climate) scientists on important climate topics that are of interest to both fellow scientists and the general public. The goal of the platform is to explore the full range of views that scientists have on these issues.
Each discussion will be kicked off by a short introduction written by the editorial staff, followed by a guest blog by two or more invited scientists. The scientists will start the discussion by reacting to each others’ arguments moderated by one of the members of the editorial staff. Once the discussion has reached the point where it is clear what the discussants agree or disagree on and why, the editioral staff will round off the discussion. The decision on when that point will have been reached is up to the editorial staff. It is not the goal of Climate Dialogue to reach a consensus, but to stimulate the discussion.
To round off the discussion on a particular topic, the Climate Dialogue editor will write a summary, describing the areas of agreement and disagreement between the discussants. The participants will be asked to approve this final article, the discussion between the experts on that topic will be closed and the editorial staff will open a new discussion on a different topic.
The public (including other climate scientists) is also free to comment, but for practical reasons these comments will be shown separately.
Based on the IAC recommendation that ‘the full range of views’ should be covered in the IPCC-reports, [Netherlands] Parliament asked the government ‘to also involve climate skeptics in future studies on climate change’.
As a result of this, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment announced a couple of projects that are aimed to increase this involvement. Climate Dialogue is one of these projects.
The first topic is the decline of Arctic sea ice. I am one of three invited experts (the other two are Walt Meiers and Ron Lindsay). The 3 experts and the moderators have one discussion thread, there is another thread for public comments, and third thread for off topic comments (interesting to see who has gotten relegated to the off topic comments).
The bottom line is that the 3 experts are not in major disagreement. This disappoints a number of people (from both sides). We pretty much agree on the relevant physical processes and the uncertainties. But how evidence gets weighted and the actual reasoning process leads to somewhat different conclusions about attribution. It will be very interesting to see the summary from the editorial staff.
Overall, a very good addition to the climate debate. Check it out if you haven’t already.