16 March 2016

As planet burns hot, new report shows Paris a relic of historic failure

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Prof. Kevin Anderson of the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change is fond of quoting the twentieth century Nobel laureate quantum physicist Richard P. Feynman: “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

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We fool ourselves if we are not deeply alarmed by the recent news about the state of global warming. According to new data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii show that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations jumped by 3.05 parts per million (ppm) during 2015, the largest year-to-year increase in 56 years of research. 2015 was the fourth consecutive year that CO2 grew more than 2 ppm.

14 March 2016

Mind-blowing February 2016 temperature spike a "climate emergency" says scientist, as extreme events hit Vietnam, Fiji and Zimbabwe

by David Spratt

Where do you start when climate data comes out that scientists simply call "jaw dropping", "alarming", an "ominous milestone", "true shocker" and "quite stunning ... it's completely unprecedented"?

The jaw dropper is the global average temperature for February 2016, released on 11 March by the US government agency NASA. (The raw data is available here.)

11 March 2016

Beware the "fat tail": Climate risk and scientific reticence

by David Spratt

How should we respond to climate change, avoid catastrophe and get back to safer conditions?  The question is often posed in "risk-management" terms, but what does than mean in assessing the risks associated with climate change, the possible impacts and the speed of action required?

We have historically tended to underestimate the rate of climate change impacts.

Too often policy is based on consensus scientific projections that downplay what Prof. Ross Garnaut called the “bad possibilities”, that is, the relatively low-probability outcomes that have very high impacts. These events may be more likely than is often assumed, as Prof. Michael E. Mann explained in reviewing Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet:

03 March 2016

Public ideas leadership on climate? The truth rarely sees the light of day.

by David Spratt

One of the most disturbing aspects of the public discussion of the climate change is its delusional character. The truth rarely sees the light of day.

Propositions that are entirely scientifically valid — such as there being no risk-averse carbon budget remaining for limiting warming to two degrees Celsius, or that the world has already passed a tipping point for a civilisation-threatening sea-level rise of several metres from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet at less than one degree of warming — are rare to non-existent in public discourse in Australia.