What do I think, What can I do?

Archive for the ‘skeptical about skeptics’ Category

2016 in climate change

I have been quite absent from this blog last years but not from Climate Change news, so I dare to give an opinion about 2016.  2016 was the hottest year on record, it was confirmed by all agencies, NASA, NOAA, WMO,… It is true that “el Niño” effect helped a lot but breaking global temperature records in 2015 and 2016 confirms that Climate is changing and it is changing now and fast. And this, although expected, is really bad news because it means that we have less time left to reduce our CO2 (and some other GHG) emissions.

2016 Hottest year on record, figure from NASA.org

 

 

 

Maybe a positive influence is that skeptics do not know what to say after loosing their hiatus argument, they will come back with it in some time. Nevertheless they are happy because one of them in in the White House and nobody really knows how much he can hinder Climate Change fight (some even consider he can be positive). I think that having a man that doubts about climate change ruling the most powerful economy in the world in years that are critical to get a real and serious global climate agreement is, definitively,  a problem.

To end positively, two important good news: a record new renewable energy capacity was added last year (with lower costs); and coal was passed by renewables worldwide. A good example is brexit UK coal use reduction, historical in the country that started industrial revolution with it.

IPCC 5th report in a tweet and two paragraphs

The tweet (more or less):

Climate change is real, induced by human emissions from fossil fuels and we have to act fast to avoid nightmare scenarios

Of course, this is a personal summary, far from the precise and scientific language of the report summary, but adapted to modern communication and fast to read. A very nice summary of the summary in 6 figures can be found in Carbon Brief. And with more or less extension or accuracy most newspapers mention it (some were even positively surprising for me). Skeptics employ several posts to counteract, in the last posts of WUWT, there are no less than 5 dedicated to that noble purpose, this shows its value.

However, with more or less coverage, my real worry is that I do not feel that the importance and urgency of the message has reach the world population, not in my close neighbourhood at least. And this is the 5th message in the same direction by an organization representing thousands of scientists. Or said in other words, even in many/most trust this scientific effort, it is not enough to act and make what can be done to reduce emissions drastically as needed.

Positive consequences of Climate Change? The northern route navigation

Northern route map from http://www.fni.no/

Many people in the maritime transport industry is thinking about the possibilities of using the shorter northern passage to go and come from Asia. Even the north pole could be reachable by 2050 with a small icebreaker. This can be considered a positive consequence? I think so, as it will make easier, shorter, cheaper and less carbon intensive to transport many goods in the northern hemisphere.For climate change itself the negative impact is much bigger than the positive as the albedo, or reflectiveness of the ice is greater so more sun energy will be absorbed.

But above all, in my opinion, it is agreat prove that something really important is changing in our planet in spite of all skeptics comments, because the ice shells are a first order displays of the heat content in our planet surface. The averages of the temperatures measured in many weather stations over the world are not so easy to see but a clear ocean in the north pole is something very very expressive. What will skeptics invent then? Will they still be skeptics then?

BBC Tomorrow’s World, were is Climate Change?

BBC  Tomorrow’s World predictions are as any other future prediction just an exercise. If anyone had the definitive crystall-ball he would do better than publish the results in a newspaper, and certainly nobody has one that works.

However, even knowing that fact, current predictions talk about the present thoughts, express the confidence level or uncertainty in many knowledge, technology or progress field. For this reason it is contradictory to see in 2016 prediction the Artic free of ice in the summer (very likely in the next decades just see the figures) and forecast a new ice age in 2090, even it the second is classified as unlikely. Certainly a huge monster of the CO2 would have to come to this planet to reverse the greenhouse effect of our fossil fuel emissions in just 75 years.

At the same time it is discouraging to read this in a media frequently criticized by the skeptics for being clear about climate change and its risks. My personal opinion after reading this, is that many times we think we are convinced that climate change is true but we haven’t really internalize the meaning it may have for future generations and the real dimension of the problem. In most of the world this is a greater problem than the skeptics.

CO2, our salvation? Do not save us too much

Ice Age

Ice Age in the North Hemisphere, image from http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/ClimateChanging/

In a recent study CO2 appears our particular hero against the next ice-age. The study is really about the peatlands capacity to sink carbon and its influence in last glacial periods, but it have been used to weaken climate change concept.  In fact, coming ice-age is a repeated subject in skeptic blogosphere, for example here .

I am not able to judge the scientific value of the study, or have not check where it has been published, this is not the question of this post, it can be really prominent scientific work, while explained this way it is like being in a flood and thanking the river for the water that quenches one’s thirst.  The study recognizes the role of CO2 in planet climate, the peatlands are carbon sinks and in absence of human actions a new ice age would come in some moment, so, conceptually, it is not skeptic at all, but it lacks a simple sentence explaining that we are currently far from a new ice age.  Actually, if we burnt all these fossil fuel for that purpose we are done and we can stop for now. And here comes an interesting question for me (not really related to the paper):

If we had known beforehand that sending to the atmosphere all those gigatons of CO2 we would stop next ice age, would this giant transformation be OK ethically?

I am not sure, my first simple and emotional answer is a yes with many doubts.

Unfortunately we didn’t know all this 50-100 years ago so the only possible question now is: Should we stop sending tons of CO2 before going to an barbecue-age?

This answer is much easier: Yes and without delay.

This way we can even allow a future question: Should we save some fossil fuels for allowing future generations to allow controlled emission patterns to avoid future ice ages?

Certainly, I do not know what will say the grandsons of my grandsons of my grandsons. It is easier to imagine the opinions of our grandchildren: Stop and leave at least two-thirds of fossil fuels in the ground and we will think the best way to use them in the future.

 

 

Coldest May on record, the last post

My last post about this funny issue mentioned two posts earlier. In spite of the hard blogging efforts in climaterealists, may did not seem to be cold at all as explained in the mentioned post. However , just in case, I am going to use the IR temperature data from  University of Alabama in Huntsville.  Those data are compiled among others by Roy Spencer and are somehow controversial but they are accepted, adopted and  frequently used among skeptics, but they are global and are published very fast online, so they are useful for the purpose of this post.  This data source confirms not only the quite hot global temperature (fourth hottest on its records) but also the world map distribution. In effect was colder than average in some parts of Australia, in a small part of Alaska and some parts of the oceans, but it was average or hotter than average elsewhere, concretely in USA and Europe, including Britain. It was really hot in some parts of Russia. The figure below displays nicely this world map of “the coldest may”.

The question is: Considering the very low-level of autocriticism in climaterealists with this issue, and how they have just forgot it except this partially justifying post, do the rest of the contents of that blog worth a reading? It this the standard of quality or scientific rigor in skeptic blogosphere? At least in some cases it is.

Image From University of Alabama in Hunstville satellite temperature record for May 2012

Image From University of Alabama in Hunstville satellite temperature record for May 2012

What happenend to the coldest May on record?

Coldest May was a repetitive title in one skeptic blog. I explained the hilarity I felt reading this by the mid or even beginning of May considering we were wearing T-shirts not so far but left for later comment the data.

Certainly the enthusiasm about this issue in climaterealists peaked in the mid of May and declined from then, as shown in next table. And there was even a slightly critics post, but not too explicit. Another confusing aspect was the geographical correspondence of the coldest may, where was it coldest? In some posts it was mentioned the UK, in others could have been the world and in the last one in June it was Australia, many choices indeed.

Date 25-30 April 1-5 May 5-10 May 10-15 May 15-20 May 20-25 May 25-30 May 0-5 June
Number of Posts 5 0 3 9 3 2 3 2

Lets look for the data now, at least for the fresh data collected in some official webs. May was not specially cold, it was hot in Greenland , it was above average in global temperature from satellites that skeptics love. Even UK and Australian temperature low records were not impressive as shown in figures below, it was hotter than average in UK and slightly cold in Australia. Although it is possible that there was a low temperature record somewhere in the world, but in that case this would be an example of extreme weather, wouldn’t it? Or maybe we can remember that weather and climate are not the same.

UK May temperatures from UK Met Office

UK May temperatures from UK Met Office

Australian May Temperatures from Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Australian May Temperatures from Australian Bureau of Meteorology