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.
Photo from Aizkorri beach close to Bilbao
One of the fastest consequences of climate change are the strong storms. The equation is simple: the more heat in the ocean the stronger the storms, helped by the small but noticeable increase of sea level rise. In fact, the first news of the sea level rise,
The beginning of the year has been particularly violent in the cost around here with many strong storms and one really impressive. This link
provides some pictures from the beautiful city of San Sebastian. The damage of last storm was important (even more in some other towns/cities) and economic impact is greater than direct repairing works in a city getting high income from tourism.
The media have not been extensive in the comments regarding climate change link, though it was mentioned in some cases. But I was quite happy to hear some clear words from some colleagues not involved in these discussions.
Of course, it is important to be cautious with attribution as climate and weather are not the same thing and being too emotional can enforce the type of discussion that helps skeptics. I think that wise comments accompanied by account of economic effects are much better in the crucial discussion of what is more expensive? To start carbon emission decrease (mitigation)? Or pay the effects?
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.
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
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.
|Number of Posts
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
Australian May Temperatures from Australian Bureau of Meteorology
I have taken this photo today in the train in Bilbao, the weather was quite hot and the discussions about air conditioning pasionate.
17 of the last posts in ClimateRealists refer to the “coldest may” for example in this one. I was surprised to read this forecasts about the whole month from April 25th?. But who knows, maybe they are starting to believe in models.
In some of those posts they make clear they refer to UK but not in all. So today, after suffering this hot weather during two days, I decided to take this photo to show that some parts of the world are not so cold, because when we talk about climate change, it refers to the planet climate, not to somewhere’s weather. If this is the coldest may, I don’t want to imagine the hottest one.
Anyway, we will know better at the end of the month, because data matter, don’t they?
Recently, IPCC launched a special report about extreme weather events (SREX). And the climate blogosphere has reacted, as it should.
Climate Hawks considered it correct but too soft in some senses. Joe Romm says it is a bit outdated regarding some articles, RealClimate does not agree with one interpretation of statistics.
In the other hand, some climate skeptics have welcomed it effusively ,for example this one in spanish considers it a victory of the science.
This author was based in Piekle Jr blog and has read a different report really, because he considers that the report denies the occurrence of more extreme events in last years due to climate change. It has been one of the most striking examples of cherry picking I have come across last times, and there are many of those (I love this word).
A last example is the vegan blog from which I took the photo. They consider the link established and the occurrence clear. Yes , reading the same report.
I haven’t read it thoroughly but I agree more with the vegans, the report is written in a scientific tone, not a journalist one, but clearly talks about the risks increment due of extreme events.
This is an important battlefield in climate change, extreme events are an important negative consequence of climate change but at the same time are a great driving force for public opinion. Average temperatures are not easy to notice whereas terrible floods or hurricanes or droughts are impossible to forget. Even when they are not scientifically considered a climate change consequence they exert a great effect. Sometimes the science come to us in unexpected ways. For these reasons we will continue to discuss about them.
And painfully to suffer them unless we change our emissions path fast.