What do I think, What can I do?

Posts tagged ‘skeptics’

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.


Some images from the last storm in the Gulf of Biscay

Photo from Aizkorri beachclose to Bilbao

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, 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.

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

The coldest May

Photo in the train near Bilbao

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?

Extreme weather and skepticism

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.

Climate Wars: The war on books.

This battle is not a real battle as the stolen email case (climategates vs. Herathland institute). It is
a different fight mostly dialectic but a fight after all. It is about books. One month ago a german book was considered a great success in skeptic blogs: Die Kalte Sonne. Two were the main reasons for skeptic joy, one of the authors had been an important environmentalist in Germany and the book was quite successful in Amazon Germany, at least before selling. Climate Hawks did not mention this too much except the answer in SKS, explaining the links of the author with energy industry and the mistakes contained in the book.

A bit later the most mentioned climatologists Michael Mann published a book about climate science and its wars. This book was harshly criticized by most famous skeptic blog WUWT as it uses to be anything Mann does. But this campaign reached again Amazon (definitively a battlefield) following the WUWT recommendation to vote it negatively. The defense came from Joe Romm in a nice to read post thinking about Amazons review system but at the same time taking care about ethics limits. In my opinion contrary to the emails one, this was a victorious battle, at least in the weapon choice. I bought Mann’s book for Kindle (I hope to read it someday).

At the same time this kind of books are not only interesting for their readers, the presentation of the book is a great opportunity for general media to remember climate change and say something meaningful and more effective than the book itself (I really have to put it in this year full list). And maybe someone will be interested enough to read it and get more conscious of climate change challenges.

Climate Wars: stolen emails

War , source: libcom.org

The discussion about climate change has many fronts. Last week one of the main issues was the stolen emails from Heartland Institute. It was in fact a kind of answer to the previous climategate1 and climategate2. The climategates were a series of emails stolen to East Anglia University climate scientists that skeptic blogs considered were probing the climate change failure. They just show discussion and reasonable doubt about climatologists and all the ingestisgations have found them no-gilty of fraud. The responsible of the theft is unkonwn.

In this last case, the Heartland Institute is a skeptic institution and the stolen emails show what was easy to suppose, that they are founded by big companies close to fossil fuels. There is a strong arguing about the veracity of one of the documents but everybody accepts that most are real. However, one of the main differences was that in this case the author of the theft has revealed himself and it is a known scientists and climate activist, Gleick.

The skeptic blogs have not stopped to mention this issue once and again, to say they knew it, to show that this probes climate science is a fake, to say that many others are like him,… Just a simple data, in the 6 days from February the 20th to February 26th it is the main topic for 20 posts in WUWT. More than 3 per day, I would not be able to make even 3!!! Really prolific. The rest of skeptic blogosphere follows the same behavior of course. In climate hawks blogosphere it is mentioned and even source of discussions between David Appell and Joe Romm.

One curious aspect is that Heartland Institute was very active using climategate emails to criticize many scientists, while now it is claiming that stolen emails should not be used against themand even send strong emails to many bloggers. The letter of many of the climatologists explaining this contradiction in first person is one of the few positive things of all this issue.

Because stealing those emails has not revealed too many new things but has situated this war in the battlefield wanted by skeptics, because the question here is not who has done it more ethically or who has stronger ethical reasons in this war, the question is that credibility is one of the biggest treasures in this war and the one who owns it (the science) is the one who can loose it in this kind of battlefield. We can not forget that we are saying to our fellow citizens: we have a big problem and we will have to change many things in our lives to cope with it. The skeptics are saying: forget about it, they are trying to lie. For this reason this action of Gleick is not only ethically acceptable because this is a war, it has even lead to a lost battle in the battlefield of credibility.

This way, we are discussing about what email was stolen or who wrote a document instead of thinking about what can we do to reduce our emissions and mitigate climate change.

Why is peer review under suspiction?

Skeptical blogosphere shows a dual behavior regarding scientific results. The famous skeptical WUWT blog is a good example. This post is based on a peer reviewed paper (that I still do not know how is related with climate change apart from some confusing but meaningless semantic similarities) whereas, frequently criticizes peer reviewed scientific literature either by showing failure cases or simply proposing a Web 2.0 alternative to peer review.

Although I had the opportunity to publish a peer reviewed paper some time ago, I am not an expert about science publishing. But I know some active scientists and, of course, they recognize the limitations of the system. It is not perfect, science is not perfect, but it is very reasonable and it has been very successful, just think in the incredible discoveries of the last 100 years and it is not questioned regarding astronomy, particle physics, paleontology,… This another post refers to an astronomer explaining that his work  is not different from any other one from climatologists, the only difference is the public treatment he obtains; maybe because someone is afraid about implications. It is a very interesting reading. This last post for today makes a thorough analysis from the point of view of an active scientist.

And apart from the undeniable success of science peer-review has at least other two favorable arguments:

  1. It is widely accepted by scientists.
  2. There is no reasonable alternative ( the web 2.0 peer review in the first paragraph is not too serious)

OK, I am not neutral, I am pro-science. But I consider quite contradictory to question all the scientific publishing method because the result is not what I wish and at the same time use peer reviewed articles when they may seem to endorse my point of view. It looks like amateurs complaining about professionals but at the same time wanting to be them.