30 October 2012

Climate of doubt as superstorm Sandy crosses US coast

by Graham Readfearn via Readfearn.com

A 30-year-old man has just become the first New Yorker to be killed by the destructive force of the super-charged storm Sandy which, as I type, is moving across the eastern side of the United States.
     The New York Times reported how the man died when a tree fell on his house in Queens. The former-Hurricane Sandy has already claimed more than 60 lives in Caribbean countries.
     There are something like 50 million Americans currently in the storm’s path. It seems inevitable that more people will lose their lives in the coming hours.
     Whatever transpires we no doubt all hope that the number of fatalities is low. But neither good fortune nor any god will decide. The death toll will be what it is, and families will grieve.
It seems insensitive to mention the billions of dollars of damage the storm will cause. It might, to some, seem insensitive to mention human-caused climate change at a time like this.

29 October 2012

Connecting the dots between 'Frankenstorm' and global warming as extreme weather becomes the new norm

Courtesy: AP
“It's a freakish and unprecedented monster,” says Associated Press science writer Seth Borenstein of a super storm heading towards the US east coast “threatening 60 million Americans in the eastern third of the nation in just a couple of days with high winds, drenching rains, extreme tides, flooding and probably snow.”
     As Hurricane Sandy heads towards the east coast, it is likely to merge with an Arctic jet steam cold front to transform into an “unprecedented” “super storm”, the likes of which has not been seen over the eastern US in many decades, with sea surges of 1 to 2 metres.
     This storm is dangerous and unusual because it comes at the tail end of hurricane season and beginning of winter storm season, "so it's kind of taking something from both — part hurricane, part nor'easter, all trouble," says Jeff Masters of Weather Underground.

Scientific consensus shifts public opinion on climate change

By Sunanda Creagh, 30 October 2012, via The Conversation

People are more likely to believe that humans cause global warming if they are told that 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that it does, a new study has found.
     Despite overwhelming evidence showing that human activity is causing the planet to overheat, public concern is on the wane, said the study, titled The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science and published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday.
     “One reason for this decline is the ‘manufacture of doubt’ by political and vested interests, which often challenge the existence of the scientific consensus. The role of perceived consensus in shaping public opinion is therefore of considerable interest,” the study’s authors said.

Climate News

Week ending 28 October 2012


'Frankenstorm': Worse than sum of its parts
Seth Borenstien, AP, 28 October 2012The storm that is threatening 60 million Americans in the eastern third of the nation in just a couple of days with high winds, drenching rains, extreme tides, flooding and probably snow is much more than just an ordinary weather system. It's a freakish and unprecedented monster.
Connecting the dots between 'Frankenstorm' and global warming as extreme weather becomes the new norm

Renewables: Australia's a land of plenty
Peter Hannam, the Age, 26 October 2012
When feisty UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres swept into Sydney this week, she mocked suggestions Australia is alone in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

26 October 2012

NASA climate chief demolishes denialist claims on sea levels

NASA climate chief James Hansen has three great attributes: his research is impeccable and pertinent, he is politically courageous, and he communicates with great clarity to lay audiences.
     Reading his presentation on 5 September — when he stepped in the deniers’ lion’s den at a meeting organised by the climate-denialist lobbyist Grover Norquist to rebut arguments previously presented by Pat Michaels — all three features of Hansen’s work were on display.
     Hansen shows how Michaels uses the denials’ favourite method – cherry-picking data over a particular range – to prove that black is white.
     Last week in Deniers cherry-pick in vain effort to prove up is down, we looked at how that technique had been used to falsely claim that “Global warming stopped 16 years ago”.

25 October 2012

After the Arctic big melt: (1) A hotter planet

by David Spratt

The Arctic is a place of seasonal climate extremes, and it will become more extreme as the planet warms. “In the most dramatic reconfiguration of the map of the world since the end of the last Ice Age”, wrote John Gibbons recently in the Irish Times, “the Arctic ice cap is now committed to accelerated collapse”. There are global consequences.
    In the first of a series, we look at how Arctic melting, in a self-perpetuating positive feedback, is leading to more global warming and a hotter future.
Day and night

For almost six months a year in winter, it is dark 24-hours-a-day at the North Pole as the Earth’s northern axis tips away from the sun. The sun sets around 25 September each year and does appear over the horizon again until 17 March, when it then stays in sight all day, every day, for the next six months. 
     Almost 2600 kilometres further south, around the Arctic Circle, there is sunlight 24-hours a day for a month around the summer solstice, but only two hours a day of sun at the December winter solstice.

21 October 2012

Climate News

Week ending 21 October 2012
Rank of hottest years to coldest. Courtesy UK Met Office

UN warns of looming worldwide food crisis in 2013
John Vidal, The Observer, 13 October 2012
Global grain reserves hit critically low levels; Extreme weather means climate 'is no longer reliable'; Rising food prices threaten disaster and unrest
Empty Promise
By George Monbiot, Guardian, 16 October 2012
Could scientists have got the impacts of climate change on food supply wildly wrong? I believe we might have made a mistake: a mistake whose consequences, if I am right, would be hard to overstate. I think the forecasts for world food production could be entirely wrong.

16 October 2012

Deniers cherry-pick in vain effort to prove up is down

It's spring, but today was cooler than yesterday. The trend is obvious, it's getting cooler and winter is coming?
     That's the cherry-picking method at the heart of climate denial, and it's at work again in a story by David Rose first published by the Mail on Sunday claiming that "Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released... and here is the chart to prove it".  It's doing the rounds.
   Whilst the UK Met Office was reported as the source of the figures, they were in fact quick to issue a rebuttal, noting that it is "the second article Mr Rose has written which contains some misleading information, after he wrote an article earlier this year on the same theme".

14 October 2012

Climate News

Week ending 14 October 2012

Extreme Weather Photo Contest Winner: Ormond Shelf, by Jason Weingart

Climate change behind rise in weather disasters
USA Today, 10 October 2012
The number of natural disasters per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but the trend is steepest for North America where countries have been battered by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought, a new report says. The study being released today by Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurance firm, sees climate change driving the increase and predicts those influences will continue in years ahead, though a number of experts question that conclusion.


The food security risk index – map
Guardian, 10 October 2012
The index has been developed by the risk analysis company Maplecroft for governments, NGOs and business to use as a barometer to identify those countries which may be susceptible to famine and societal unrest stemming from food shortages and price fluctuations. This map shows the results of evaluating the availability, access and stability of food supplies in 197 countries, as well as the nutritional and health status of populations
UN warns of rising food costs after year's extreme weather
John Vidal, Rebecca Smithers and Shiv Malik, Guardian, 10 October 2012
Warning comes as shops struggle to fill shelves and farmers' union reports wheat yields are at lowest level since 1980s.

08 October 2012

Antarctic sea ice and global warming

by Mark Robison, FactChecker, 6 October 2012

The claim
Record high amounts of Antarctic sea ice contradict global warming.

The background
Reno reader Judson Pierce contacted Fact Checker on Monday with a story from Newsmax headlined “Record Antarctica ice contradicts global warming trend”.
     He wanted to know whether it truly contradicts global warming and why the mainstream media seems to be ignoring this fact after widely reporting Arctic sea ice being at record lows.
    Pierce is right that, as of this writing, the mainstream media hasn’t reported much about the Antarctica ice. It’s likely they will, as the national data center for such statistics announced the news just this week with a story headlined “Arctic sea ice shatters previous low records; Antarctic sea ice edges to record high.”

07 October 2012

From Kermit to coal, book reveals how world's top brands greenwash the public

by Graham Readfearn, DeSmogBlog

"I guess it is easy being green," said Kermit the Frog as he bounced around a Ford Escape Hybrid in a 2006 television ad campaign.
    During the ad, Kermit displayed his innate talent for not blinking which, it has to be said, is due essentially to his congenital lack of eyelids.
    But had Kermit blinked, he would have missed the small print at the bottom of the ad which showed that at the time, this "green" vehicle had a fuel consumption slightly worse than the US average.
    But that seems to be the rule when it comes to claims of climate friendliness made by some of the world's biggest brands.
    Check the small print, and the responsible green hue soon fades to something resembling bullsh*t-brown (or whatever color denotes hypocrisy). At least that's the conclusion after reading Australian author and researcher Guy Pearse's latest book. Pearse spent close to four years immersing himself in some 3000 TV commercials and viewing about 4000 print and web adverts, all of which make claims of climate friendliness (I disclose here that I had a small paid role as a fact-checker on the book).

Climate News

Week ending 7 October 2012


Climate change may force evacuation of vulnerable island states within a decade
Jo Confino, Guardian, 4 October 2012
Leading climate scientist warns that vulnerable island nations may need to be evacuated within a decade as evidence shows polar ice is shrinking at greater speeds than models predicted


Calls for climate action as Great Barrier Reef suffers major coral loss
The Conversation interview, 2 October 2012
The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years, and it could halve again by 2022 say researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Great reef catastrophe
Nicky Phillips, SMH, 2 October 2012
Half the Great Barrier Reef's coral has disappeared in the past 27 years and less than a quarter could be left within a decade unless action is taken, a landmark study has found
Marine environments in Australia's southern waters under threat