Breaking News Archive

Climate Discovery Chronicles

Note: When I first started keeping this journal it was meant to be a working source of reference material for myself. I quickly realized that this resource was valuable as an outreach tool and created this page. I have not spent a great deal of time writing this information, so please forgive the poor grammar. You might also note some strange formatting here and there. Gosh, I wish I could figure out what that was all about.  I fix one thing and anther pops up...


February 10, 2010 Thoreau's Walden Pond Significantly Impacted by Climate Change This was a very interesting study. Harvard University scientists have compared the meticulous notes kept by Thoreau's at Walden pond to the site today. Their results show that climate change has had a definite impact. In a prepared statement, one of the authors  (C. Davis) says "These results demonstrate for the first time that climate change likely plays a direct role in promoting non-native species success ... they highlight the importance of flowering time as a trait that may facilitate the success of non-native species. This kind of information could be very useful for predicting the success of future invaders." Thoreau's recordkeeping comes from 150 years ago, at a time when modern climate change had not begun to have any impacts on native landscapes and invasive species were relatively unknown. The average temperature around Walden Pond has increased by 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit, causing some plants to flowering time by as much as three weeks early. The study also found that 27 percent of all species Thoreau recorded from 1851 to 1858 have become locally extinct, and 36 percent are so rare that extinction could be imminent.

Eureka Alert Service:

Willis, et. al., Favorable climate change response explains non-native species success in Thoreau's woods, PLosOne, February 2010.

February 9, 2010 Northern forests soils emit twice the carbon as previously understood Northern forest soils, unlike tropical forest soils, are immense storehouses of carbon. It has always been understood that a warming planet will dry the forests of most of the world. This dryness will cause the liberation, or oxidation of much of the northern forests soils carbon. This carbon has been placed there over the millennia and even 10s of millennia as root material, decaying leaf and needle litter, peat in the form of partially decomposed plant material and carbon compounds incorporated into the soil through the many reactions and interactions of microorganisms.   Northern forest of the world in fact store almost twice as much carbon as tropical forests. And the big threat is that northern climates are affected by the polar amplification effect. Significant climate change is already happening in the north.  Climate models in the past have miscalculated the possible carbon response from northern forest soils as the world warms and dries. The authors say that their results suggest that there is an increased risk of a positive feedback to climate change related to the soil carbon cycle.

Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon fractions in boreal forest soil,” by Kristiina Karhu, Hannu Fritze, Kai Hämäläinen, Pekka Vanhala, Högne Jungner, Markku Oinonen, Eloni Sonninen, Mikko Tuomi, Peter Spetz, Veikko Kitunen, and Jari Liski, Ecology 91(2), February 2010.

February 5, 2010 Big Mistake in Arctic Sea Ice Calculations - Unexpected Arctic Melt Found to be Even Further Ahead of Projections than Recently Understood.  370 scientists from 27 countries around the world spent last winter on the first ship of its kind (research vessel) ever to remain mobile in the Arctic during the winter season. What they found was that Arctic sea ice is decaying "...much faster than their most pessimistic models predict". ( The Winnipeg Free Press Interview says this quote is from Dr. David Barber, University of Manitoba and lead Principle Investigator for the research mission.) In other words, their most pessimistic model is the  worst-case scenario, so Arctic sea ice is decaying much worse than the worst-case scenario. Our understanding of the polar amplification effect and the actual ongoing decay of Arctic sea ice has changed radically in the last five years. Just after the turn of the century, scientists still understood that it would likely be much closer to the year 2100 before we saw ice free conditions in the Arctic. The consensus position today is between 2013 and 2030 (see here and here and here). Snow and ice are very important temperature regulators on Earth. Snow reflects almost all of the sun's energy harmlessly back into space. Open water absorbs almost all of the suns energy and keeps it here on Earth as heat, where it can melt more ice, etc., etc. 

Another major find published in December in Geophysical Research Letters shows a big mistake in the Arctic sea ice melt. Satellites are not correctly reporting rotten multi-year ice. What was reported by the satellites as solid multi-year ice or thick first year ice was in fact rotten multi-year ice, with low strength and as much as 25% open water in between flows. The paper says that the satellites see the two similarly, but that is a little hard to understand and is obviously rooted in a much more complicated understanding of how the satellite works. What the authors say is that even though we have had a slight increase in summer sea ice extent for the last two years, giving the overall impression that Arctic sea ice is recovering, the new results show that the ice conditions in the Arctic are in fact still declining. The important thing to understand about Aortic sea ice is how much multi-year ice is there.  the mulit-year ice does not melt in summer. It is the open water in the summer time that contributes so highly to the feedback. The difference in reflectivity between ice and open water is nine times.  This is one of those unstoppable things. It is unstoppable once it starts, barring some fantastic effort by the people of this planet to reverse the warming trend to a point some amount cooler than when Arctic Sea ice was stable.  we can not just return conditions back to the stability point because we have all of this extra heat that has been added to the system that must be removed before stability can be regained.

Winnipeg Free Press

Barber, D. G., R. Galley, M. G. Aspin, R. De Abreu, K.-A. Warner, M. Pućko, M. Gupta, S. Prinsenberg, and S. Julien (2009), Perennial pack ice in the southern Beaufort Sea was not as it appeared in the summer of 2009, Geophys. Res. Lett.

February 5, 2010 Fred Pearce, The Guardian Puts EmailGate to Rest I am just going to quote Fred Pearce from the Guardian. "None of the 1,073 emails plus 3,587 files containing documents, raw data and computer code upsets the 200-year-old science behind the "greenhouse effect" of gases like carbon dioxide, which traps solar heat and warm the atmosphere. Nothing changes the fact that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere thanks to human emissions from burning carbon-based fuels like coal and oil. Nor the calculations of physicists that for every square meter of the earth's surface, 1.6 watts more energy now enters the atmosphere than leaves it. And we know the world is warming as a result. Thousands of thermometers in areas remote from any conceivable local urban influences tell us that."

February 5, 2010 Academic Board of Inquiry Absolves Dr. Michael Mann of any Wrong Doing in EmailGate Dr. Mann is the U.S. connection to Emailgate, No crimes here.  Will somebody stop the Groundhog Day movie now? Dr. Mann is one of the senior world climate scientists responsible for "The Hockey Stick" . He works at Penn State.

January 31, 2010 Do You Know How The Climatologists Correct for the Urban Heat Island Error? Climate models are made out of all of these cells. The are typically about 10 km on edge (62 miles). Temperature analysis is done on a gridded basis. The scientists do not use the obviously heat modified temperatures of urban weather stations unadjusted. That would be unintelligent. The weather stations in each grid are all averaged together to get a number for that grid, if there are none, or there is a metropolitan area in a grid - the individual stations are evaluated and the heat island effect is "adjusted" out of the warmer station.

January 30, 2010 Add Stratospheric Dryness to the List of Reasons Why We Hsfdave Not Set Year After Year of Hottest Ever Temperature Records:  It never ceases to amaze me  - the tenacity of the dedicated climate skeptics. Now they are leading a race to see how many people they can convince that climate change is not real because they say we are not setting a global temperature records every single year.  They do not understand that the chaos of weather makes it extremely unlikely that this will ever happen.  We can see how this chaos affects our global temperature from year to year by looking at the GISS and UK Met Office Temperature records. The UK Met's annual temperature graph is slightly different form the GISS dataset (The U.S. Government Record from NASA).  The Met office calculates global average temperature a shade different from GISS and consequently 1998 is the hottest year in the UK Met record, whereas 2005 is the hottest year in the GISS record. Neither GISS or the UK Met are wrong. Each has a different way of calculating a global average temperature from global records. But the skeptics will say otherwise. So, what really matters is the trend. The absolute temperature is not all that important, it is the trend that matters. 

The GISS record shows that it has been four years since we set the last high temperature record, before that it was five years. After 1990 it was six years before a new high temperature record was set. After the high in 1981 it was another six years.sdgf Then it was 37 years after the high set in 1943 until another global high temperature record was set. Earth's temperature has NOT cooled since the turn of the century. Remember when the climate scientists said, back in the early 1980s, that it would be twenty or thirty years before we new for sure if climate was changing or not?  Bingo!  It's the chaos that prevents the short term assumption. Before 2009, 2005 was the hottest year ever, Before 2005, it was 1998, etc.  the trend is still upwards. This is simply chaos, or noise in the data. It is completely normal and will continue to happen like this into the future. Call me back about this one in twenty or thirty years.

Solomon, et. al. Contributions of Stratospheric Water Vapor to Decadal Changes in the Rate of Global Warming, Scinece, January 2010.

January 29, 2010 IPCC Wrong Again: Methane is Responsible for a Third More Warming than we Previously Understood: 

This is about complex atmospheric chemistry.  Our previously simple understanding of the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere does not do justice to the complex atmospheric chemistry that goes on 24/7. The explanation is not so complex though. Methane reacts differently with different things in the atmosphere at different times. These different reactions tell us the strength of the greenhouse gas response.  For example, the methane decomposes after a dozen or so years, but the decomposition byproducts are CO2 and ozone, both greenhouse gases. The consequences are much more far reaching and include water vapor, volatile organic compounds sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, aerosols, etc. In the past our view was much more simple. We just compared the methane straight to carbon dioxide to get a Global Warming Potential (GWP) But it is not that simple. Methane was listed in the Fourth Assessment report of the IPCC as having a GWP of 25.  The new GWP is 34. All told, methane is much more powerful of a greenhouse gas than we once understood. 

Shindell, et. al. October 30, 2009, Improved Attribution of Climate Change Forcing to Emissions, Science

January 27, 2010 The scientists told us that the weather would become more variable - Extreme winter weather blamed on global warming: Well, they told us this would happen. Since the early 1980s. scientists have been saying that the weather would get more variable, that storms would get worse in a warmer planet.  A new report by the National Wildlife Federation reports that this is just what is happening.  The last couple of winters have been peculiarly active.  Warmer weather has kept the great lakes open and increased lake-effect snow. A cold snap across the south in Early April 2007 caused billions in agricultural damage because the warmer than normal march preceding the cold snap had caused orchards to bud. They were frozen by the cold snap. Warmer winters are responsible for the massive never-before-seen beetle outbreak in the Rockies. Warm weather will make normal snow belt areas experience more ice storms - which are immensely more damaging.

Odd-ball Winter Weather: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Northern United States, National Wildlife Federation, January 2010.

January 25, 2010 Pacific pH Rising Ocean Wide

January 24, 2010 The Rabid Radical Climate Skeptics Will Stop at Nothing. They Have No Morals, Ethics or Scruples - Cat 4 and Cat 5 Hurricanes Will Nearly Double in Frequency on a Warmer Planet Says NOAA  The RRCS will not stop until they die. There is another statement in the IPCC report that the RRCS have taken exception too. It concerns the increased frequency of hurricanes on a warmer planet. I don't know the details, but I can tell what likely happened. It was the same thing that happened with the Glaciergate deal.  The scientists know, they have an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence, that there will be catastrophic melting of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035. But it could not be proven according to peer review principles. Remember, peer review is more stringent than a murder trial.  In a murder trial,  the suspect can be convicted with circumstantial evidence so long as the evidence shows that the murder was committed "beyond a reasonable doubt".  The definition of "beyond a reasonable doubt" is a difficult one to come by, but in general it means " a moral certainty".

In a peer reviewed journal, facts are required. Reasonable doubt, circumstantial evidence,  moral certainties - none of these work.  But the scientists understand, they have enough circumstantial evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. there is a moral certainty - yet the rules of academia prevent this certainty from being published as fact.

So in this latest rabid radical climate skeptic propaganda, the frequency of stronger hurricanes caused by warming is in dispute. This has been an exceedingly difficult question to answer in academia and reports written prior to the 2007 IPCC report did not suggest that this frequency would increase - even though circumstantial evidence was beyond a reasonable doubt that they would. So the radical skeptics are making a big stink about it, like so many other ways that they have been designing propaganda to destroy our planet in their ignorance.  So yesterday, a paper was published in Science that has figured out how to model the problem. This paper proves that what the scientist said about frequency and strength of hurricanes on a warmer planet was true, only the statement was made before the "proof" was published. The study by Bender et. al., says that the number of Cat 4 and Cat 5 hurricanes will increase approximately 81% on a warmer planet.

Bender, et. al., Modeled Impact of anthropogenic warming on increased frequency of hurricanes, Science, January 2010.

January 22, 2010 Climate Summary for 2009 In the U.S., 2009 was 0.3 degrees F above the 20th century average. The solar minimum continues. The two year lag from the Pacific Decadal Oscillation continues. This is why it is not 1.3 degrees above normal or more. I have attached a view of Arctic sea ice extents from the National Snow and ice Data Center. This is an image not normally seen in the middle of winter. But look where sea ice is right now. It is following almost exactly along the record setting year 2006 - 2007,  There was an article that I looked at a few days ago, but didn't publish that said that there was some questions about last years measurements. The paper came from a polar scientists doing research in the Beaufort Sea up there north of Alaska.   The World temperature last year was the second warmest ever recorded. It was the warmest year ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. The last ten years was the hottest decade ever recorded.

January 21, 2010  Now it's Glaciergate - The Inability of Scientists to Convey Their Knowledge of the Climate Crisis is Almost as Astonishing as the Dangerous Climate Changes Taking Place Right Now - And I Am Not Talking About a Simple Error In An Incredibly Vast Report. Yes there was a mistake in the 2007 IPCC report, I am sure there were more than one. The biggest mistake is that the report does not go far enough in projecting future climate change. Virtually everything that the report has projected has been proven to be conservative. There are even a number of things that climate change has started to have impacts upon, that are not even considered in the report. Things like feedback from dying forests and accelerating undersea methane clathrate emissions. Not to mention numerous things that happened between the time that the IPCC quit taking papers ( in some cases as early as 2005), and the date of publishing in late 2007.  So it is not likely that the glaciers of the Himalaya will melt by 2035, those in Glacier National Park will melt by then. SDFThe claims that the 2035 date was off by 300 years are ludicrous. sure, it may be 300 years before every block of ice is melted, in the same light that it will be 2100 before Earth's temperature increases by 11.5 degrees. By the time it get's 11.5 degrees warmer - we will be toast. In 20 or 30 years, the glaciers catastrophes from the current melt lakes bursting and flooding in unprecedented ways will be passing and great famine from dwindling water supplies will be the great threat. Who cares if there was one paragraph in the report that was worded wrong. Millions will die, probably 10s of millions. Does this mean that Pauchuri should resign? That's preposterous.

The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting. Their melt has significantly accelerated in the very recent past, and the results will very likely end in huge catastrophes as these glacial melt lakes burst their frail moraine dams and flood the countryside below.  These melt lakes are forming by the hundreds. They are forming very quickly and the risks are enormous. The will ese lakes are very fragile and geologically unstable. A friend of mine actually just returned from a filming trip to the Bhutan to investigate. His movie can be seen at the Texas Spirit Theater of the Bob Bullock Museum. My friend is Pat Fries, Owner of Arrowhead Films here in Austin. His film Silent Tsunami can be seen here.

The image to the right is a satellite view of the area of the Himalayas around Mount Everest. You can see Mount Everest in the upper middle are of the image. The river-like looking structures are glaciers. Red means that melt has occurred. The analysis says about 40 cm per year (16 inches) on average since 1972. Of course we know from other studies that this rate has accelerated.

This image is from a backup material presentation given at a press conference by NASA in December 2009. This presentation includes 46 pages of information about the melting glaciers of the Himalaya. Like the rest of the world, there are some glaciers that are not melting, or whose fronts are surging (one can not say that these glaciers are not melting, but one can say, and this NASA presentation makes this clear, that determining a timeline for Himalayan glacier melt is very difficult given the state of knowledge today.  The mass balance solution for any individual glacier in this condition is very complicated.  Glaciers that are retreating as well as thinning though, are fairly easily identified as "melting". This is the state of the vast majority of glaciers across the world, and most of them are melting rapidly.

We are likely where we were in the analysis stage of the Himalayas as where we were with Greenland twenty years ago. The estimates of melt are likely conservative. Twenty years ago we understood that it could take thousands and maybe even 10,000 years for Greenland to melt. Today we know that it could likely happen in less than a thousand years and possibly even several hundreds of years. A link for NASA presentation is given below.

Kargel, et. al., Satellite era glacier changes in High Asia, Background support presentation for NASA “Black Carbon and Aerosols” press conference associated with Fall AGU, Dec. 14, 2009.

January 10, 2010 CO2 Climate Sensitivity was Significantly Higher When Climate was a Few Degrees Warmer This study from Yale, the University of Hong Kong and U of C Santa Cruz looked at climate between 3 and 5 million years ago, the point in the past when temperatures were as close to today as they have been  since.  Their goal was to find a stable warm climate state and evaluate the equilibrium conditions for climate sensitivity. You see, our climate today is far from equilibrium after 200 years of fossil fuel carbon emissions. One of the reasons is the great heat content of our oceans.  For our planet to be in equilibrium, the oceans have to absorb the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Surface ocean waters can only absorb so much CO2, but ocean currents allow for the surface waters to circulate to the deep ocean. Deep waters have lost much of their CO2 load by the time they are circulated back to the surface. This process takes about a thousand years and it is just one of the slow feedback processes that helps our climate return to equilibrium after some external 'force" pushes it "out" of equilibrium.

Normally the external forcing is one of the three solar cycles associated with Earths orbit around the sun. But today, mankind's civilization is forcing our climate with all of these extra greenhouse gases that we are putting into the atmosphere. So on a 'normal" planet, when climate is in equilibrium, or when CO2 is about 40% less than it is today with the same average planetary temperature, these scientists found a sensitivity to climate change that is somewhere between 40% again as much and twice what the current models show.  That is, the same forcing produces twice the warming.

Pagini et. al., High Earth-system climate system sensitivity from Pliocene carbon dioxide concentrations, Nature Geoscience, January 2010.


January 9, 2010 Methane Releases from Arctic Ocean Higher than Ever Recorded  It's the Laptev Sea again. This is the part of the Arctic Ocean tsadhat is just north of Siberia (see here). The springtime air temperature across the region in the period 2000-2007 was an average of 4C higher than during 1970-1999, likely the highest temperature rise on the planet. The estimate of carbon locked up under the Laptev and northern coast of Russia is up from last year to 1,600 gigatons.  The scientists are still not saying exactly how much methane is coming up from the ocean floor, they just can't tell yet. But what we have seen is that methane, which had stabilized in our atmosphere over about the last decade, is rising again. the stabilization was attributed to better agriculture practices across the world. (see here)


January 6, 2010 Arctic Sea ice may disappear by 2013  Arctic sea ice may disappear by 2013: Arctic sea ice is in trouble and the implications of the global feedback caused by the lack of sea ice are extreme. Open water absorbs eight times more heat than does ice. Ice reflects the heat harmlessly back to space. Water keeps the heat to melt more ice and to add heat to the atmosphere that then stays in the atmosphere because of the greenhouse effect. Polar ice is the Earth’s air conditioner. The warming feedback caused by melting polar ice, because of this unprecedented ice melt in the Arctic, is not represented in the global climate models. This is happening 70 years ahead of schedule (see here).



December 31, 2009 Antarctica melt / ice loss accelerates  Recent studies using the new GRACE gravity measuring satellites (see here) have shown startling new results for ice melt / ice loss from Antarctica.  As the dataset from the new satellites, put up in 2003, grows larger, the melt / ice loss continues to grow. Previous studies have shown the melt/loss coming tmainly from West Antarctica, but this recent analysis of the satellite data shows that in 2005/2006 east Antarctica's ice loss accelerated from near zero to 57 gigatons of ice per year. West Antarctica showed an acceleration of ice loss at about this same time as well.

Overall ice loss from Antarctica is now 220 gigatons per year.  Remember too, The IPCC 2001 report said that Antarctica would experience no negative volume changes (no ice loss greater than snowfall) for at least 100 years. The 2007 IPCC report actually reduced sea level rise from 2001 by about a foot to 22" max. They limited the contribution to sea level rise from melting ice sheets to the rate observed from 1993 to 2003.

Accelerated Antarctic ice loss from satellite gravity measurements, J. L. Chen, C. R. Wilson, D. Blankenship & B. D. Tapley, Nature Geoscience advance online publication Published online: 22 November 2009, doi:10.1038/ngeo694


December 28, 2009 A Strong Bout of Natural Cooling in 2008  The authors make it clear that 2008 was a year that reflected strong cooling across North America but not unusual in the least, at least from a climatological standpoint.  Many people out there, including many weather people on television seem to think there is something special about the relatively cold temperatures that we are having. What is special is that planetary warming has lifted our climate out of its old normals. Across much of the country it has been a decade since we have seen this kind of cold, but that doesn't mean that before a decade ago, this type of weather wasn't normal, because it was.  The great concern of the authors of this paper was that climate skeptics are using the cooling to declare that climate change is not real. The average contiguous U.S. temperature for 2008 was 0.2 degrees above the 1900 to 2000 average.  Globally, 2008 tied with 2001 for the eighth warmest year ever recorded. They repeatedly said that 2008 was completely within the natural variability of climate and that in a year or two the U.S. would return to record heat.

The study looked at several models and actual conditions. What they found was that La Nina and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation were responsible for the cooling in North America (see here).  Of course we all knew this all along, but Perlwitz et. al., proved it with models and statistics. The most amazing news however was that temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific were actually the w3e4coldest in the instrument record.. Here is a quote from the paper: "Our appraisal of the natural SST conditions in the Nino 4 region, with anomalies of about 1.1 K suggests a condition colder than any in the instrumental record since 1871. We illustrated that North America would have experienced considerably colder temperatures just due to the impact of such natural ocean variability alone, and that the simultaneous presence of anthropogenic warming reduced the severity of cooling."

The authors complete their publication with this caution: "This, and similar recent attribution studies of observed climate events [Stott et al., 2004; Hoerling et al., 2007; Easterling and Wehner, 2009] are important in ensuring that natural variability, when occurring, is not misunderstood to indicate that climate change is either not happening or that it is happening more intensely than the true human influence. In our diagnosis of 2008, the absence of North American warming was shown not to be evidence for an absence of anthropogenic forcing, but only that the impact of the latter was balanced by strong natural cooling. Considering the nature of both the 2008 NA temperature anomalies and the natural ocean variability that reflected a transitory interannual condition, we can expect that the 2008 coolness is unlikely to be part of a prolonged cooling trend in NA temperature in future years."

Perlwitz, et. al., A strong bout of natural cooling in 2008 Geophysical Research Letters, December 2009.pdf



December 2009

Meehl, et. al., Relative increase of record high temperatures compared to record low temperatures in the US, GEo Res Ltrs, December 2009.pdf

December 2009 Our Beaches Will be Gone Before My Kid Graduates From College, and She is a Junior in High School Now Remember those new, really fabulous gravity satellites called GRACE? (For more about Grace see the essay Antarctic Paradox on this site



Velicogna, Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed b y GRACE, Geophysical Research Letters, October 2009

December 2009

Tedesco, et. al., Pan arctic terrestrial snowmelt trends, 1979 to 2008, from spaceborne passive microwave data

December 24, 2009  Ecosystem shift 0.26 km per year

1100 miles to central Wisconsin

1350 miles to Central Pensylvania



December 15, 2009  Sea level rise of 24 feet on a planet two to three degrees warmer During the last interglacial warm period, this study says temps were 2 to 3 degrees warmer. There is considerable disagreement about this. James Hansen says a lot less.asd

Hmmm... Maybe we are already warmer than when sea level was 24 feet higher. There are numerous different estimates of paleotemperatures, especially the last interglacial. they mostly seem to focus on a degree or two warmer than today, but Hansen's paper shows that we are warmer today. His comparison of South Pacific Temperatures and Global temperatures is that they are sufficiently  similar to say that global temperatures follow South Pacific Temperatures. Another fact that Hansen has brought to life is that mankind is changing concentrations of CO2 in our atmosphere 20,000 times than at any time in the last 65 million years.

What I think is that all of these temperature and sea level analyses are correct. The problem is that CO2 levels are rising so fast that analyses are more or less correct, just the timing is off a wee bit. Twenty thousand times faster is astronomically fast relative to anything that has ever happened before.

It appears to me that if one averages all of the temperature interpretations from the last million years, they all turn out to be about the same. So in Nature Geoscience, Siddall, et. al., have looked at stranded beaches and coral reefs across the world and correlated ice loss from ice sheets to gravity changes (Greenland ice extends 11,000 feet above sea level, Antarctica is 13,000). When the ice sheets melt, they seriously affect the Earth's gravitational field. So much so that sea level in the north Atlantic and the north central Pacific rises by up to three feet.  

But overall, across the planet, there was a two out of three chance that we are in for 25 feet of sea level rise, if this was a normal climate change.  But since CO2 concentrations are rising more rapidly than at any time in 65 million years, and given that CO2 concentrations are as high as any time in the last 20 million years, we may be in for a bit more sea level rise is my guess. There is a pretty good consensus that says that about 35 million years ago was when Antarctica started building ice mass.

So since CO2 concentrations are rising faster than any time in the last 65 million years, would it make sense that sea level would rise a bit faster and or a bit more than it did 125,000 years ago when CO2 levels were changing quite normally? And since the rate of change (65 m year ago) and the CO2 concentration (20 m years ago) are a tad beyond the last 125,000 years, how far fetched is it that sea level rise will be greater than it was 125,000 years ago?

Siddall,, Constraints on future sea level rise from past sea level rise, nature Geoscience December 2009

Hansen, et. al., Global temperature change, PNAS, September 2006.pdf


December 12, 2009 The Annual Climate Summary for 2009  The global average looks to be the fifth warmest ever. The U.S. will likely come in 0.05 or so above average - even with all of the "bitter" cold recently, and the "summer that wasn't".  My trip to the Rockies this summer showed me what the public's collective memory was - about ten years.  Everywhere I went in the Rockies (filming my pine beetle movie) almost every single local I ran across thought that the last several years had been the coldest and wettest ever.  The reports of coldest and wettest in memory were, to me, exaggerated.  Fortunately, I was able to have the same discussion with a few true old timers.  They new the score.  The last several years, according to the old timers (and my memory) were maybe as cold and wet as average ( I have been camping in the Rockies in summer for 36 years)

So, what this tells me is that in general, the public has a memory that is no longer than about ten years. It has been the last ten years ( a few more) since we have seen anything near normal temperatures.  When we finally get normal temps and precip (we may never see these normals again btw) everyone thinks it is the coldest and wettest ever because their collective memories are only ten years long.

December 11, 2009  Bad News?  It is all too common these days that climate change is referred to as bad news. Why not? Climate change will be much worse than we were told in the 20th century.  If we are lucky it will only be really bad. Everything in science is pointing towards "worse than projected, faster and with greater impacts..."  Bad, very bad indeed.  If it's only bad we will be lucky. If you smoke all your life, you get cancer.

We have smoked CO2 for generations. the effects are that our Earth has cancer. We have found out in time for treatment to be effective. This is good news - extraordinarily good news. We can start treatment in time to possibly have an effect, it may not be too late.

A colleague in an advocacy group I work with puts it this way: Aren't alternative energy sources good things on their own, without even considering CO2?  When peak oil causes petroleum related costs to skyrocket, will it not be a good thing that we have already constructed a new alternative energy infrastructure? When gasoline become prohibitively expensive, even for the wealthy, will it not be good that we have invented an entire new fleet of automobiles that run on electricity?

What is bad about not emitting mercury into the atmosphere by burning coal?  What about the latest research into coal reserves that show that we only have a couple of decades before peak coal, not a couple of centuries? Won't it be a good thing to develop a new energy supply before the price of coal gets too high?  After all, it will take nearly a generation  to do this. If peak coal arrives as suddenly as peak oil, developing a new energy supply in time will indeed be problematic. What if one considers the hundreds of thousands of deaths each year that are related to the other air pollutants that come from burning fossil fuels? What is so bad about developing a newer, cleaner energy supply sooner?

The switch will have to be made sooner rather than later, and the longer we wait the more difficult the transition will be - we have all tried to switch to a new way of doing things at the last minute and I am fairly sure that most of us would have rather have had more time to prepare...

December 6, 2009 Missed story of the Decade! CO2 unleashes 50% more warming than thought. Climate change could be 1 1/2 times worse than previously anticipated   The long term warming will likely be about 50% greater than thought. A new study that looks at climate sensitivity three million years ago when CO2 was thought to be in equilibrium across the planet, polar ice was significantly reduced, sea level higher etc.

The long term ramifications of man-caused climate change have really not been looked at in much detail until now.  Those studies that did, used the more familiar short term techniques extended into the future.  These techniques poorly recreate the slow feedback processes. These slow feedback processes are difficult to model, at least until now. New modeling techniques are what this paper is all about. The new study takes a different approach and comes up with about half again as much warming as earlier thought.

So what  are the differences between fast and slow feedback processes? Fast feedback processes, are those that are used in all climate models. CO2 and other greenhouse gases are only responsible for a fraction of the warming. It's the feedback processes that really heat us up. The water vapor feedback alone is estimated to be twice that from just greenhouse gases. A little warming causes more evaporation, which captures more infrared radiation causing more warming and more evaporation, etc. Other "fast" feedback processes are the cloud process, albedo from ice and snow and aerosols. Slow feedbacks take a er, long time to happen. Vegetation changes and ice sheet changes, soil carbon changes from desertification or aforestation are all slow feedback processes.  When a forest grows up in a tundra ecosystem because of a warming climate, it takes a while. The forest soaks up more heat because winter snows can not easily cover every single bit of vegetation like can happen with a tundra plain.  The extra heat then combines with factors from the albedo feedback to compound warming and the vegetation and albedo feedback processes.

What does this mean for me and you? The authors of the paper are not saying, but it will not just automatically get 50% hotter when our climate catches up to the atmospheric CO2 concentration. The extra warming starts now.


Nature Geoscience Sequestration Special

December 7, 2009 The Psychology of Climate Crisis Denial  Irrefutable and unequivocally are two very exact words that have been used by the most authoritative bodies of science to qualify the validity, current impacts and dangerous planetary risks associated with the climate crisis. The debate over causation was over in the 20th Century. What is the deal?

There have been an increasing number of publications discussing this most extraordinary issue, and the pages of this journal of discovery have seen their own share of suggestions about why the disbelief and contrarianism continue under such a high degree of certainty as is shown in the climate science. Here are some explanations that I have gathered from several publications:

Anthony Grayling , a philosophy professor at the University of London.

Tim Kasser, a professor of psychology at Knox University in Galesburg, Illinois.

Jean-Pierre Dupuy, professor of social philosophy at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris.

Scientific American, November 30, 2009

December 6, 2009 Thanks to the Radical Climate Skeptics The latest Pew Center poll shows an extraordinary change in public understanding.  It's like two decades of climate science has been flushed down the toilet.  All of a sudden, 14% of Americans have decided that what they understood last spring is now hooey. Those in the U.S. who choose not to believe in science are virtually in a dead heat with those who understand the climate crisis.xzcv

I find this a little hard to believe, It must just be that Letterman attracts a very progressive audience.  Every time Dave makes a point about climate change he gets a resounding positive reaction from the audience. Not a reaction from a third of the audience - a resounding reaction.  So how is this poll valid?

It's valid because what I said about Letterman's audiences is likely very true.  The vast majority of Americans would never get close to the Ed Sullivan theater.  It is likely that the audience is skewed towards the progressives.  Unfortunately.

America is being fooled by the contrarian propaganda - for too many reasons to count in anything short of four chapters. The results, as you have seen from the recent scientific findings highlighted in this journal of discovery, will only make mitigating the climate crisis even more profoundly difficult.

The forest of our planet are showing frightening symptoms of a changing climate. And what the scientists are not telling us that when our climate warms by ten degrees, most forests will not survive, and most will not grow back in any form that is anywhere similar to what was there before. The warming in the mountains will be greater and the forests of the Rocky Mountains will likely disappear altogether. At least they will not survive in the timeframes that are given.  It takes centuries for ecosystems to shift without trouble. 

100 degree days in Texas will increase by five times.  Summer heat across much of Texas will 30% more extreme than the Sonoran desert.  No trees grow in the Sonoran desert, the trees of Texas will die a frightful death.

Minnesota  and New York State will have extreme summer heat similar to what happens in Texas today. The forests in Minnesota and New York State will not survive the Texas Heat.

Fifty two million acres of trees are dead in North America because of climate change enhanced insect infestation. This is somewhere between 21 billion and 26 billion trees. Last year alone, 8 billion trees died (18 million acres). The previous record breaking insect infestation was 3 million acres and it took the beetles ten years to kill that many trees. The scientists say there is not reason for the infestation to stop as it takes extremely cold weather to kill the bugs - cold like we have not seen in more than a decade and like we may never see again.

The number of animals that have died because of this infestation is at least equal to the the 21 billion to 26 billion trees that have been killed. The forest of our planet will become carbon sources instead of carbon sinks. A solid one-third of the CO2 on this plate is naturally sequestered by trees.  The airborne fraction of CO2 that causes warming will increase by an amount equal to the emissions from over 2 billion people.

The USGS says our barrier islands and coastal wetlands will begin permanently disappearing when sea level rise reaches 7 mm per year. At the current rate it is rising, it will reach 7 mm per year somewhere between 2015 and 2020. Between 2004 and 2006 alone sea level rise increased from 3.3 mm to 3.7 mm per year.  This a 6% annual increase.

There are 405 barrier islands on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the US totaling over 3,000 miles in length. There are 5.3 million acres of coastal wetlands. The USGS does not know how long it will take sea level rise to destroy the barrier islands and wetlands, but given the high risk from hurricanes, once the destruction begins, it will likely not take long for it to be complete.  The loss of life in these massive ecosystems will be uncountable.

The risk to you and me from just these few globally important climate events is extreme beyond ex more of America that the hard won scientific findings are hooey.

I fear I must return to debunking the same moldy contrarian myths. There is little enough time.

Pew Center Report

December 5, 2009 The Great Climate Change Hoax and Email Theft and Fraud Prime Minister Brown is quite upset at the hysteria being caused by the theft and fraud committed and being committed by and because of the East Anglia University email theft and ensuing fraud. Here is his quote on the subject from the Guardian on the 4th: "With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn't be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate skeptics… We know the science. We know what we must do. We must now act and close the 5bn-tonne gap. That will seal the deal."  (This is quite a colorful statement to have come from Prime Minister Brown…)

I continue to see this one quote in the media hype about the email theft and fraud.  It talks about the "trick" that Michael Mann used to demonstrate the temperature relationship that he is famous for in the climate science world.  I am an engineer most of the time, at least in the past, and us engineers have lots of “tricks” that we use in our professional work. These "tricks" are nothing more than interesting and effective ways to reveal information  They have nothing to do with deceit or treachery, they are simply novel ways of doing something.

I new that this was what was being referred to in the media hype and was immediately appalled at the deceit of, not only the perpetrators of this illegally inspired negative propaganda, but of the guile of the media to honor the accusation with ink and air time. Worse, in the several dozen popular media pieces I have read since the theft, I have never seen a single explanation of what the "trick" was.  The media once again, through appalling ignorance and what appears to be premeditated sensationalism, has helped to perpetrate the Great Climate Change Hoax in their frighteningly broad show of ignorance of basic investigative journalism.

The game these contrarians are playing with science is astonishingly dangerous. The lack of basic investigational skills portrayed by virtually the entire media industry is nothing short of journalistic manslaughter.

What Dr. Mann did was to leave out a portion of the data that he used from one data source (numerous data sources were used in his temperature analysis). The reason that he did not use this data was because, in a later publication, the scientists responsible for publishing the original data recommended that the data in question not be used in any future analysis.  It is not uncommon for a dataset to be revised in this manner. To use the data – after the data’s responsible authors had said that the data should not be used, would be completely irresponsible on the part of Dr. Mann.  Because of the lack of investigational skills of the media, the fraud being perpetrated by the climate contrarian froth and  fervor, remains unchecked.

The following is a detailed academic explanation of the "trick" that Mike made (Dr. Michael Mann, director of Earth Sciences at Penn State). I lifted this paragraph from Real Climate and their first post about the email theft.

"No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

December 2, 2009 Antarctic Melt Increases While the Ozone Hole Keeps it Cool What was once widely regarded as being stable for at least the next century has already started to melt and at the least will contribute 4.5 feet to the IPCC sea level rise prediction.  The 22 inches from the IPCC and additional melting identified as coming from Greenland put us up in the ten foot zone now (here and here).  And these sea level rise guys always, and I mean always say "at the minimum". The sea level rise scientists are some of the most conservative of the climate scientists that I have read. This is an immense report that summarizes the last decade's research on sdfAntarctica. One of the new findings they highlight is a new analysis of why temperatures have remained relatively the same in Antarctica while the rest of the planet sees continued warming.

And by the way, the reason why Antarctic has started melting 100 years ahead of schedule, when temperatures have only slightly warmed and remain far below freezing across the vast majority of the continent - is a warming ocean. Much of the ice in Antarctica comes in direct contact with the Great Southern Ocean along the margins of the great ice sheet, and this is where much of the melt is taking place. The ocean is warming, but more than that, ocean currents in the far south are changing, bringing even warmer water into contact with some areas of Antarctica.

The reason why Antarctica has escaped much of the warming that has happened across the rest of the planet is the ozone hole. There are numerous reports that show that the Montreal Protocol is working, that we are gaining control over our stratospheric ozone depletion problem. But the Antarctic ozone hole remains.

The chart on the right shows thirty years of ozone holes, beginning when there was no ozone hole. What happened is an abrupt environmental change occurred, much like what is happening with greenhouse gases now. Our Earth's environment can take only so much abuse, then, like any environment pushed to the edge, it leaps to a new equilibrium.

Mankind almost lost the ozone dfglayer, the consequences of which would have been catastrophic for the planet. At the time, scientists were reporting a gradual 50% decline in stratospheric ozone over the next hundred or more years if nothing was done to stop ozone depletion.  But an ugly surprise popped up in the mid 80s. An unexpected runaway chemical reaction in the atmosphere ( a positive feedback...) created a massive ozone depletion zone over Antarctica. By 1987 the inhabitants of this planet had come to understand the grave danger and the Montreal Protocol was drafted, regulating ozone depleting substances.

Twenty two years later the ozone hole is as big as ever. There are many signs that ozone depleting chemicals are under control, yet the hole remains. The NASA image on the right shows the record largest hole from 2006.

Why is this happening?  It is a process that has been anticipated in the climate models at some point in the distant future. The way the ozone hole forms is that these crazy nitric acid clouds (natural) form in the ultra cold Antarctic winter at elevations way, way above any clouds found on the planet. The nitric acid combines with ozone depleting chemicals and when the sun returns in the spring, ultraviolet light triggers a chain reaction that zaps the extra oxygen off of the ozone molecule turning it into plain old oxygen.

The nitric acid clouds, called necreotic clouds, are natural, and have been around since time began, but these man-made ozone depleting chemicals have not been around - they are entirely foreign to our natural world.

What the climate models say about the future of stratospheric ozone is that global warming will cool the stratosphere - this is already happening.  the blanket of greenhouse gases does not allow as much heat from the earth to radiate back into space where some can be trapped in the stratosphere, so the stratosphere gets cooler, even as the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) gets warmer.  The necreotic clouds can only form at the very coldest part of the Antarctic winter. One of the things that makes polar winters so cold is the atmosphere is thinner over the poles. In the winter, the cold air at the surface of the poles contracts and allows the atmosphere to thin even more. This means that the stratosphere gets closer to the surface. This allows a greater mixing between the lower stratosphere and the upper troposphere, that makes it even colder in the upper atmosphere of the polar regions. Which means more nitric acid clouds, and more ozone depleting chemical reactions with any of the other ozone depleting chemicals, doesn't matter.

But recent papers have shown the Montreal protocol is a success and stratospheric ozone depleting chemicals are declining.  It is the natural nitrous oxide ozone depleting reaction that is keeping ozone levels low.  The man-made chemicals are on the wane, but ozone depletion because of nitrous oxide is increasing.  Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that, because of man, has increased 16% since the industrial revolution. It is a product mainly of agriculture, and it is the third most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and methane.

So, once again, our climate is ahead of the computer models, climate change is happening faster, or the computers are too conservative or both.

 Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (555 pages)

December 2, 2009  West Antarctic Ice Sheet May Have Begun Its Collapse

Institute of Theoretical Geophysics, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge CB3 0WA, UK

Abstract: Recent observations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet document rapid changes in the mass balance of its component glaciers. These observations raise the question of whether changing climatic conditions have triggered a dynamical instability in the ice-sheet–iceshelf system. The dynamics of marine ice sheets are sensitive to grounding-line position and variation, characteristics that are poorly captured by most current models. We present a theory for grounding-line dynamics in three spatial dimensions and time. Our theory is based on a balance of forces across the grounding line; it is expressed as a differential equation that is analogous to the canonical Stefan condition. We apply this theory to the question of grounding-line stability under conditions of retrograde bed slope in a suite of calculations with different basal topography. A subset of these have basal topography inspired by the Pine Island glacier, where basal depth varies in both the along-flow and across-flow directions. Our results indicate that unstable retreat of the grounding line over retrograde beds is a robust feature of models that evolve based on force balance at the grounding line. We conclude, based on our simplified model, that unstable grounding-line recession may already be occurring at the Pine Island glacier. (emphasis added)

Katz and Worster, Stability of ice sheet grounding lines, Proceedings of the Royal Society, January 2010.

November 26, 2009 Airborne Fraction of CO2 Concentration vs. Load  The Airborne Faction Discussion:  This topic is controversial only in the minds of radical climate skeptics. Actually there is controversy, but it is totally different from what the radical climate skeptics (RCS) is saying. What RCS propaganda says is that because the airborne fraction is not increasing, there is no basis for climate change. What the scientists are talking about is completely different. The scientists are talking about the "fraction" of CO2 in the sky relative to everything else is staying the same. The RCS are saying that CO2 is not increasing and there for there is no basis for global warming - a totally irrelevant statement compared to the topic and investigation of this study.  The RCS does not understand what "airborne fraction" means.

Let me splain Lucy:

Pre- industrial atmosphere had 10 bazillion units of  atmosphere and 3 bazillion units of CO2 = 3% airborne fraction.
Today's atmosphere has 103.3 bazillion units of atmosphere and 4 bazillion units of CO2 = 3% airborne fraction. EXCEPT - there's more stuff in the atmosphere, there is more CO2 there, approximately 38% more than preindustrial times - greater density. The atmosphere is thicker. There is more CO2 here to warm the planet. The greenhouse affect is not controlled by the airborne fraction, it is controlled by the amount of greenhouse gases present.

The RCS is confusing CO2 ratio with CO2 load.  It is a very common misunderstanding that I have to deal with all of the time in water quality discussions. So because the public doesn't know jack, they get fooled. It certainly "looks like" the scientists are saysing that there is no basis for climate change.  I think that the RCS is intentionally misleading in order to further their agenda - or they are just plain old stupid, irresponsible and unethical for not understanding the propaganda that they are distributing.

Folks tend to try and relate concentration with load all the time, but there is a huge difference. The airborne fraction doesn't really mean anything by itself. It is used to define other things.

The study suggests that something is absorbing more CO2 than expected, the researchers know not  what. It could be little green men from space. There is a significant unknown factor in natural sequestration that is +/- 20% of the total load (natural and anthropogenic combined - nature is not picky). These guys see 40% remaining in the atmosphere. That is the bottom end of hte discussion, the high end, that I have seen is 64% stays in the atmosphere.  And BTW - This is a really, really good thing for us because it keeps the atmospheric load of CO2 from increasing even more rapidly.

This group of studies is one that looks at the atmosphere. There are other studies that also look at the atmosphere that say the airborne fraction IS increasing, which means that the sinks ARE slowing.  But the most telling part of the new discoveries is that the studies that look specifically at the sink are seeing that they ARE slowing. This is a disconnect between scientists - one the the RCS likes to mention so disdainly. Actually it's a disconnect between about how the public understands science. These papers are very specific and don't explain inter-relatedness very well. Other studies are just as certain about the facts, very robust and up-to-date facts about CO2 sinks decreasing in their capacity to absorb, they are just as correct as this paper (see below). What this paper does not do, and never intended to do was to say why the airborne fraction is staying the same even though emissions are different. It very specifically analyzed the question "Is the fraction constant or changing?".  

Those other papers that say it isn't? Well now you have to understand how the scientists measure how much of anything is in the sky. It's a big guess. We aren't smart enough yet to weigh the atmosphere. We do have records of how much fossil fuel has been burned, how much of our forests have been turned into CO2, how much CO2 has been emitted to the atmosphere from agricultural practices and loss of C from soils, etc. but we can't weigh the atmosphere (very well).What is happening is that the atmospheric scientists are tying down the portion of the fraction that goes to different places better with the help of the scientists who are studying the specific sinks. Exactly how much will still be an estimate until we can weigh the sky, or weigh theCO2 lost be farming practices, or weigh the oceans to see how much carbon they have absorbed, etc.

Knorr, Is airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions increasing, Geophysical Research Letters, November 2009.pdf

November 25, 2009 Oceans are Absorbing Three times less CO2 than 20 Years Ago  This is some serious news. The study revised work that was done 20 years ago that showed the lag between atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global temperature. The previous study showed that there was a five month lag between CO2 concentrations and temperature. This new study has concluded that this lag has tripled from five months to fifteen months. What this means is that the oceans are absorbing CO2 three times more slowly today than they did twenty years ago.

AA quote from's interview with the author, Jeffrey Park at Yale University, is revealing.

"No one had updated the analysis from 20 years ago," Park said. "I expected to find some change in the lag time, but the shift was surprisingly large. This is a big change.

The reasons why this change has occurred are still a bit unclear, but a warmer ocean definitely creates an ocean that has less capacity to absorb CO2, and our oceans today are at all time record temperatures (here). But it is likely that this is not the only reason. Changes in what the author calls "ocean dynamics" which are basically the way water circulates in the oceans are also implicated.  The dynamics in this case are the circulation that takes surface waters with more CO2 and sinks them,  so that they are replaced by deeper water that has lost some of its CO2 load due to normal ocean carbon sequestration processes.  When this circulation slows, the ability of the ocean to absorb CO2 slows because water with less CO2 in it can absorb more CO2 faster than if it is saturated or near saturation.

Another quote from the interview give us a stark warning of what has only previously been projected to happen in the future:

"Researchers have used climate models that suggest the oceans have been absorbing less CO2, but this is the first study to quantify the change directly using observations," Park said. "It strengthens the projection that the oceans will not absorb as much of our future CO2 emissions, and that the pace of future climate change will quicken."

Park, A re-evaluation of the coherence between global-average atmospheric CO2 and temperatures at interannual time scales, Geophysical Research Letters, November 2009

November 21, 2009 US Government OMG Climate Report - - - Extreme Beyond Imagining - - -  The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordisdnates and integrates federal research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society. The USGCRP began as a presidential initiative in 1989 (Reagan - Bus) and was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-606), which called for "a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change."

This report itself is written in typical science outreach style. There is no alarm and very little risk presented. The wording is subdued with little descriptive value. Little thought appears to have been given to allowing for an understanding of the implications for the facts reported. This is a predictable and lamentable characteristic of climate science reporting.  But the risks are immense, unprecedented and something that society has never experienced.

The reason that it appears that little thought has been given to the description of the meaning of the impacts of the results in the report, or one of the most important reasons, is that describing a future experience, that has never before been encountered, is anything but an easy task. Simply reporting the facts is straightforward and without much risk of error.  One of the riskiest statements in the entire report is  "Some of the changes have been faster than previous assessments have projected."

So to help with the understanding of the implications of the facts presented in this report, consider the image on the right. This image was produced on page 91 of the report, but there was no text directly relating to the image, only a related discussion of the health related effects of a warming climate.  However, the reference for this image was 240 words and included three major papers and three major modeling groups. If you pay attention to the authority given by references, the information shown in this image has its own gravity.

The implications of this image are beyond extreme. Austin, Texas is located in the middle of Central Texas. This is my hometown, so to me, this is personal. To those who are not local, impacts relative to what will happen in Austin will be widespread across the U.S. 

In Austin, we normally have 12 days of 100 degree plus heat per summer based on temperature records that go back to 1854 (for reference, Dallas has 18). Because of climate change, Austin is projected to have, on average, between 90 and 120 days of 100 degree plus heat every year and 180 days (graph not shown) of over 90 degree heat.  This is more 100 degree days than Phoenix, Arizona. Their average is 89 days. This is an astonishing thing see in a report, but maybe what is more astonishing is the lack of description of the implications of such a change.

Phoenix is located in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. This is a traditional cactus and gravel desert with little to no water, blistering temperatures and no trees or grass to speak of. Austin has our beautiful Hill Country streams and magnificent live oak forests. If these temperature projections are correct, and there is no reason to believe that temperatures will be any lower than depicted, Austin's summers will be a third more extreme than those of Phoenix Arizona and about ten times more extreme than Austin summers are on average.

This is an incredible statement to make.  What it means is that all life, outside of air conditioners, as we know it, will simply cease to exist in Austin. There is absolutely no way that the vast majority of native plants and animals around Austin could endure a summer that is a third again hotter than an average Phoenix summer. What I have just told you is what is implicitly assumed from the information in this image.  Now let me add a complicating science concept into the understanding of the impacts of this "warming" (I said complicating, not complicated).  Consider this: this concept is very simple. Science is conservative by nature (the industry of science). A scientist must be absolutely certain about the results of his or her discoveries or they will not be able to publish their papers in the academic journals. The old saying about "publish or perish" is absolutely true. If a scientist is wrong, the journals will not publish his or her work. If the scientist can not publish his or her work, the scientist will perish - there is no point in practicing science without being able to publish scientific discoveries.

There is a quote from the report in the third paragraph of this paper that states the obvious "Some of the changes have been faster than previous assessments have projected."  Our climate could also be changing faster now, it could have crossed through a climate threshold and likely has, but the principle of conservative science is still valid.  Because scientists are conservative by nature, their results, their publications, their discoveries and their computer projections - area all conservative. This means that the projections of 100 degree days is also likely to be conservative.


The graph above comes from USGCR. It is a combination of several sources (another weighty reference) and shows the atmospheric load of greenhouse gases measured as carbon (carbon dioxide and methane mostly) from the burning of fossil fuels. The black line with the circles represents the actual atmospheric gas measurements, the purple line is the A1F1 supercomputer climate model projection, more commonly known as the worst-case scenario from the IPCC 2007 Report. What the actual measurements (black line) show, is that atmospheric carbon loading is increasing faster than the worst-case scenario from the climate models. So our climate, right now, is changing faster than the worst scenario that the climate scientists can calculate.

Temper this understanding with the realization that scientists publications are conservative. Are their models so conservative that the actual carbon emissions are greater than the models show, or are our emissions rising at a rate that is even greater than expected?  It matters little really. What matters is that climate science projections are conservative. Whether they are conservative because feedback mechanisms are increasing the speed at which our climate is changing, or that scientists are just darned careful with what they say is not really important. The results are the same for you and me.

At the end of the 21st century (2090 to 2100), my grandkids (if I ever get any) will still be alive, and maybe even my 16 year old. At that time, Austin is projected to have on average, of between 90 and 120 days (conservatively) of 100 degree plus heat every year. This kind of heat is something that very few on this planet have ever experienced. What will happen is complete and utter devastation.

The environment in Austin will simply disappear; the trees, grass, wildflowers insects, mammals and reptiles; very few if any will remain. The desert is occupied by a different set of animals. A desert as hot as one that is a third hotter again than the Sonoran has very few life forms at all. Some desert animals will move into the the devastated Hill Country, but not many. There will be no slow transition. This takes centuries. The desertification here will happen in only decades.  There will be no more water, no more live oak forests,  just like Phoenix, Arizona. ont> The streams and the river and the deer and the raccoons and possum will disappear.   This will happen, not in a hundred years, but far before then. 

Even half of this increase is far more than the Central Texas environment can deal with as an average number of 100 degree days in the summer. But some may say - we had 68 days of 100 degree heat last year in the summer of 2009. Yes that is true, but it was the second highest number of 100 degree days ever to occur and the old record is likely suspect. There were a few years in Austin when the weather station was on the university campus, situated too close to a building. At this time (in 1923 and 1925) there were 67 and 69 days of 100 degree heat. The third  place record was 42 days. The hottest year since was 2008. This year saw the third ranked most number of 100 degree days at 50 - breaking the previous record by 20%. It is little less than statistically absurd to say that the 1923 and 1925 records are valid when the third place record is 27 days less. So in all likelihood, 2009 shattered the all time 100 degree day record by 17 days.

Now you may be thinking that this record breaking is statistically absurd as well, and you would not be wrong except for one little thing. The dataset is changing. The scientists have said that our climate has changed beyond its normal variation. The "change" in climate change has already begun. We have crossed a threshold and have entered into a new era of climate.

In August I returned from two and a half weeks filming some of the 52 million acres of dead trees in the Rockies. The trees have been killed by a warming climate. Stress due to warming has created a natural beetle infestation that is 20 times larger than the largest beetle infestation ever recorded. These are mountain pine beetles and they kill trees in order to reproduce. Just two and half degrees of warming in the Rocky Mountain West, approximately twice as much as the average global increase, has caused this catastrophe that increased 18 million acres between 2007 and 2008. It is completely out of control and is not expected to stop until all of the beetle's food is dead (they only eat live trees).  The forest professionals are now concerned that the infestation will turn into a continent wide event, in the not to distant future.

So I come home from this trip and I find trees dying in Austin. They were dying because of the greatest drought ever recorded in Austin. Greater than the Dust Bowl and greater than the drought of the 1950s. There were elm, hackberry and oak, creek plum and ash juniper as well as several species of shrubs that were dead.  Some of these may come back next spring, The elm is one that can stand a few drought induced defoliations, but not likely much of the rest of this list. Fortunately there were only thousands of individual trees dead, not millions of acres like what is happening in the Rockies. And we have had some rain now, so the immediate threat is over, for now.

This climate change thing is so much bigger than people realize, and it will happen a lot sooner than the end of the century. This date is simply a calendar time frame. We are already feeling the effects now - 18 million acres of trees dead last year in the Rockies. That would be nearly eight trillion trees, in just one year.

The squirrels, cicadias, crickets, toads, crawfish and snakes, salamanders and bats - they all will disappear. They will not just move on, there will be mass extinctions, or at least mass death. They will not be able to move on because there will be no place for them to go. Ecosystems do not just reproduce themselves at the drop of a hat. An environment is something that takes centuries to become established. Our climate is out of control now, we do not have decades much less centuries to reestablish ecosystems anywhere. Even if we did - many of the animals that live here now are not migratory animals. Some would survive through what is called range expansion. This is basically random animal movements that serve to spread an animals population into an area that is hospitable for them. But most animals around here would not move if they had the chance - they do not know how.

Plants would not migrate either, at least not in time periods as short as decades. Plants do migrate,  but not to far-northern Wisconsin or upstate New York in less than a century, at least not most plants.  This is the scale of this temperature change - Wisconsin and New York will have Texas-like temperatures at the end of the century. It is 1300 miles from Austin to northern Wisconsin and 1500 to New York City.  Can these places take the Texas heat? Likely, they will be able to take it no better than Austin takes heat a third more intense than the Sonoran Desert.

To put this into perspective, so that you can better understand why there will be mass death of plants and animals in the relatively near future in the Austin area, the actual warming will be even greater than the 90 to 120 days of 100 degree plus heat per year, because our climate change is already faster than the worst-case scenario.

I HAVE TO REPEAT THIS ONE MORE TIME BECAUSE IT IS SO IMPORTANT. It will be greater than ten times hotter than normal, greater than twice as hot as last year's record shattering heat wave and a third hotter than Phoenix, Arizona in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. These will be the average temperatures. The extremes will be even hotter.  Last year's likely record setting 68 days of 100 degree heat was about six times hotter than average.  So when we have a heat wave in the year 2090 like we did last year when we experienced 100 degree days six times more than normal, we will see six times greater than the normal 2090 average days of 100 plus degree heat, or some 600 days per year... Get the picture?

Read the Executive Summary of Global Research Change Program. No read the whole report. This is extremely serious, and deserves your full and undivided attention. The two Issues I have spoken o fin this discussion are just row of several hundred that are equally as impelling. the report says what I have been trying to get across here for the last two years. Can the Earth support the kind of changes that have already begun with impacts that are worse than expected, that will only intensify, that will happen still faster than expected with impacts that will be ever worse than expected? No, absolutely not, nothing near so.  The Rockies are showing us that just a few degrees can kill a forest. The scientists say that forests across the continent will likely die. The foresters say that it will take one hundred years to grow back, but in a hundred years, the average temperature in the Rockies will be 13 degrees warmer than it is now.  This beetle pandemic and great tree death in the Rockies has been caused by 2.5 degrees of warming.

Global Change Research Program

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, A State of Knowledge Report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2009, page 90.

November 16, 2009 New Pine Beetle Outbreak in Alberta, Canada is Worst-Case Scenario It was hoped that the last several years of wet and cold in the Rockies would put a damper on the great pine beetle infestation ongoing. In 2008, the infestation increased 18 million acres.  The last record breaking pine beetle infestation in North America was three million acres in ten years. This event ended about the turn of the century in Alaska.

In-fact, northern Alberta did experience a significant die-off of pine beetle last winter says a report by the Canadian Forest service. This was the only place in North America to see a die-off of any extent because of the cold.  But this summer, northern Alberta saw a mass inflight of beetles from British Columbia that rivaled or was even larger than the flight in 2003 that started this infestation. At the timer, there was a quote from a Ranger then that said the beetles "fell like rain".

Northern Alberta is on the edge of the great boreal forest. The beetle has never before been seen in northern British Columbia. The forest professionals are now saying that the black and jack pines that dominate the boreal forest are at great risk from beetle attack, and that this is likely the primary pathway that the beetle will choose to infest what the scientists fear may be the rest of the continent.

November 15, 2009 Great Britain public "beliefs" about climate change are as uninformed as those in the U.S.  In a poll for the London Times, "Only 41 percent accept as an established scientific fact that global warming is taking place and is largely man-made. Thirty two percent, believe that the link is not yet proved; eight percent say it is environmentalist propaganda to blame man and 15 percent believe the world is not warming. Only slightly more than a quarter (28 percent) think climate change is the most serious problem that the world faces."  (see here)

Climate change is the greatest counter-intuitive philosophical problem of all time. The science is so complicated, the vested interests so powerful, the climate lag so long, the amount of change required to produce critical impacts is so unexpectedly small - and the ability of society and our leaders to understand sophisticated science so limited - it is a wonder that there is as much comprehension as there is.

Right now, major ecosystems around the world are failing, some catastrophically, yet the public is grossly unaware. Caribou herds are collapsing, there is pine beetle pandemic 20 times larger than ever recorded before and it will likely not stop until it encompasses all of North America and primary productivity in the Great Southern Ocean has begun a decline that will likely see the extinction of a major component of primary productivity on earth. (here, here and here)

November 7, 2009 Al Gore joins James Hansen in advocating civil disobedience to force action on climate change Why are these two very prominent and very important national and international leaders advocating breaking the law to force action on climate change?  Because without extreme measures, we are virtually guaranteed of dangerous climate change. The following are three quotes from the guardian's interview of Al Gore:

"Civil disobedience has an honorable history. When urgency and moral clarity cross a certain threshold, then I think that civil disobedience is quite understandable and it has a role to play," he said. "And I expect that it will increase, no question about it."  

Mr. Gore recognized the increased fervor of the contrarians as being attributable to "the sunset phenomenon, where there's a spectacle just before the subsiding". The phenomenon would see the remaining climate contrarians, moneyed interests, and the like mounting one last campaign to forestall the inevitable climate change prevention and mitigation regulations. Gore says "This self-interest on the part of some of the carbon polluters, who are becoming a bit intense in their efforts, reflects their awareness that public opinion has been shifting very significantly. We have a tendency as human beings to confuse the unprecedented with the improbable. If something has never happened before, we tend to assume it will not happen in the future. [But] throughout history, there have been examples of human societies confronting dire threats, and finding, in their response, that they were capable of more than they thought they were capable of."

We are on the brink of and may have indeed passed into a phase of dangerous climate change. But what exactly is this thing called "dangerous climate change". It is something mankind has never experienced, and that even in ancient pre history, the Earth has never experienced. Sure, it has been warmer on Earth than it is today, but this heat has occurred when the Earth was a vastly different place. Our atmospheric gas composition (oxygen, nitrogen, etc.) was entirely different back then, so was the distribution of the continents across the planet that created an entirely different ocean circulation heat budget.  The most important supercomputer modeling climate scientist in the world says that 20 to 40 degrees of warming, given today's continental configuration and atmospheric gas composition, will evaporate the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. We have 9 to 12 degrees lined up in the conservative IPCC report already in the next 100 years (here) and it is more likely than not that even more will occur beyond the turn of the 22nd century. A long time before we evaporate our atmosphere and oceans into space, our planet will become uninhabitable. This is dangerous climate change.. What are we gonna do?

November 6, 2009 Ecological consequences of a warming planet - Earth's Caribou population has collapsed - Foreshadowing ecological trends across the rest of the planet The International Polar Year resulted in this study by a team of 25 Arctic researchers. Seven degrees of warming in some parts of the Arctic have changed more than just the average temperature. The Arctic biosphere is collapsing. Arctic sea ice is projected to disappear like it has not done in 14 million years (here). As the permafrost melts it is replaced by lakes. The lakes then drain or evaporate and leave a wasteland of huge potholes that do not support the ecosystem that once flourished on top of the ice. Nine of Canada's eleven caribou herds are in decline.

The Bluenose West herd in the Northwest Territories had a population of 80,000 at the turn of the century; it was under 20,000 animals in 2006.

Northwest territory biologists say that the Bathurst herd of the central barrens had fallen from over 120,000 animals in 2006 to 32,000. This is a  loss of nearly 90,000 caribou in three years.

An aerial survey could not even find enough of the Beverely herd to get statistically valid data for a cow / calf count. This herd of 280,000 in 1995 has almost completely disappeared..

Warmer temperatures in the winter mean more and wetter snow. This makes it more difficult for the caribou to find food as the snow is much more difficult to fling aside with flick of the caribou hoof. Warmer temperatures in winter also mean more chances of ice storms which coat everything in ice making it even more difficult for the caribou to break through to find food. Warmer temperatures in summer mean more insect pest. The caribou spend much of their time trying to evade these pests, running about in fits and starts to get ahead of the slow flying bugs and shaking incessantly.  The results are that they feed less in this time of plenty and expend more energy than normal, weakening the animals already over weakened by the extra exertions and diminished food intake from the winter.  Caribou herds have fluctuated wildly in the historic past, but this is not the historic past. Climate change has moved our planet's climate out of the range of historic natural variability - beyond what we have experienced in recorded history. Our climate has changed.

Polar amplification has multiplied the change in the Arctic. (More warmth means less snow. Less snow reflects less heat back into space, so there is more warming, which melts even more snow, even sooner, etc.) The environment where Arctic ecology evolved has now abruptly changed. One can not create an organism through evolution, and then abruptly move that organism to a different environment and expect it to thrive, or even expect it to survive in many cases. We are experiencing an abrupt climate change. When abrupt climate changes have happened in ancient prehistory, fossil records have shown us that great extinctions have taken place.  We have come to understand that abrupt climate changes are much more numerous than ever imagined in the past and happen every few thousand years.

The most dire foreshadowing of this journal article however is that the collapse of Earth's Caribou herds is only one of the first of many. The report warns that the Arctic, because of the polar amplification effect, leads the rest of the world in the impacts of climate change. What occurs in the Arctic today can be expected to occur across the rest of the planet in the future. and if the recent past is any predictor of the future, the changes will happen faster wand with greater impact than we are expecting.

Vors and Boyce, Global declines of caribou and reindeer, Global Change Biology, May 2009

Post, et. al., Ecological dynamics across the Arctic associated with recent climate change, Science, September 2009.

October 24, 2009 2,000 year-long Arctic cooling reversed in the last 100 years Scientists have known for a long time that our Earth has been cooling naturally since the last thermal maximum about 7,000 years ago. At least intuitively, from all of their paleoclimate knowledge, our climate should be following the normal pattern of astronomical cycles. These natural cycles say that Earth should have been cooling for quite some time now.

But something that most people do not understand about the industry of science, is that scientific proof is more difficult to come by than a murder conviction.  That's right. A murder conviction can be handed down by a judge and jury based on evidence that  is  "beyond a reasonable doubt". This is called circumstantial evidence, and many a murderer has been sentenced to prison and even death because of circumstantial evidence.  But science doesn't really accept circumstantial evidence as valid. There are certainly some instances where a strong enough case can be made for circumstantial evidence in science, but these instances are the exception rather than the rule. Scientific fact is based on certainty, not circumstantial evidence. So proving something that happened before written records is often extremely difficult.

This is one reason why science literature is littered with descriptors such as "could be" "likely" "possible", "may", "might" and "could" instead of "is", "are", "did", "was", "actual", "absolute" and exact". The general public doesn't understand this and when they see the ambiguous wording in reporting of new discoveries, they are skeptical about the validity of the science.  Before this study, only bits and pieces of facts existed that showed what scientists have know "circumstantially" for more than a century.

This rigorous new study of Arctic temperature research has assembled enough facts to go beyond circumstantial evidence in the understanding of Arctic temperatures over the last 2,000 years. It looks at algae concentrations, pollen counts and species distribution in lake sediments, sediment thickness and composition and glacial ice and tree rings in the Arctic. The results of the study confirm a widespread disruption of a 1900 year-long cooling trend in the Arctic that has happened since 1900. (The cooling trend obviously goes back to the thermal maximum 7,000 years ago, but this particular science ca not say that without invoking circumstantial evidence, so it goes unsaid.) Natural orbital cycles should have caused a gradual cooling of Earth since about 7,000 years ago at the last celestial thermal maximum. This was when the earth was closest to the sun and the tilt of the earth's axis was such that the northern hemisphere was closest to the sun. These situations on occur every 21,000 years and when they do, Heating on Earth it's greatest point in that 21,000 year-long cycle.

  safWe did see this happen in reality and then for 7,000 years Earth cooled. This cooling of about 0.2 degrees C  per 1,000 years continued up until about 1900 when there was an abrupt warming of 1.4 degrees C (2.5 degrees F). This is the average warmth across the Arctic, some places have warmed much more like northwestern Canada and north central Siberia.

The authors identify the warming as being entirely man-caused  from increased greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise our planet would be cooling now because of the 21,000 year solar astronomical cycles.

Kaufman, et. al., Recent warming reverses long term Arctic cooling, Science, September 2009.pdf

October 17, 2009 Television is not the place to learn about climate change A study released today from George Mason University says that the place where America spends the most time outside of work, is doing virtually nothing to educate the public about the climate crisis.

The study analyzed a hypothesis called "reinforcing spirals framework". The reinforcing spiral in this case is that knowledge of climate change tends to increase the amount of continued learning activities centered around climate change, for any given individual, and the more knowledge one has about climate change, the more likely one is to continue to seek additional knowledge concerning the subject.

This is a good description of the general state of public knowledge about climate change from Dr. Zhao's report: "The phrase global warming first entered public discourse in 1988, when National Aeronautics and Space Administration climatologist James Hansen stated before Congress “with 99 percent confidence” that global warming had already begun (Dilling & Moser, 2007). Today, polls show that most of the American public is aware of global warming. Most Americans also believe that global warming is real, and that human activity is a contributing factor in global warming. Despite these perceptions, however, the American people still think of global warming as an issue of low priority. Furthermore, they believe that the ill effects of global warming are not likely to affect themselves, but people in remote regions of the world and nonhuman nature (Leiserowitz, 2005, 2007)." It is also important to note that 60% of Americans, according a Gallup poll, believe that climate change will not be a problem for them in their lifetimes (see here). Professor Xiaoquan Zhao's report says that the average person get's no significant knowledge about climate change from television. Zhao found that perceived knowledge of climate change (vs. real knowledge) increased the more one reads the newspaper or uses the internet. Perceived knowledge is that knowledge learned from any source that may or may not be accurate, reliable, true, factual, etc. The effect of television viewing on perceived knowledge was not significant; nor was is significant on perceived scientific agreement or concern over global warming.

Male respondents reported less knowledge about global warming than female respondents White respondents reported greater concern over global warming than non-white respondents. People with more education had a greater perceived knowledge and political party affiliation  negatively predicted perceived scientific agreement and concern over global warming. That is, Republicans were much less likely than Democrats Party to perceive scientific consensus and feel concerned over the effects of global warming in the polar regions.

The public’s concern over the effects of global warming is an important driver of individual action and public policy. Research on global warming has shown that melting polar ice, sea-level rise, and the extinction of polar animals are some of the important images American people have about global warming (Leiserowitz, 2005, 2007).

AA parallel line of research shows that the U.S. media have adhered to the convention of balanced reporting when covering global warming (ykoff, 2008; Boykoff & Boykoff, 2004). This concept emerged in the 1970s with the inception of the "Fairness Doctrine" by Congress. The Reagan administration repealed the Fairness Doctrine, but the principles, which are exceedingly valid for political or issue based reporting, are no less valid.  The big problem however, is that the media can not tell the difference between factual based topics and issue or belief based topics. What happens is that the media gives equal time to science based topics where contrary views of the science are submitted to the public as factually based different opinions.  This works just fine when beliefs are involved, but the concept breaks down terribly when facts are presented as being either believable or unbelievable based on the opinion of the person being interviewed.  Hence the reason why this study looked at "perceived knowledge" instead of actual knowledge.

Zhao, Media Use and Global Warming Perceptions_A Snapshot of the Reinforcing Spirals, Communications Research, October 2009

October 15, 2009 Director Pachauri says CO2 must peak by 2015  In an interview with the AFP Pachauri said that the emphasis for emissions reductions for 2050 needed to be place on 2020 because of the unanticipated acceleration of climate change. "Strong and urgent action is needed" said Pachauri in a meeting of the ministers of the International Energy Agency in Paris.

Pauchauri is chairman of the Noble Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Pachauri said the talks in Copenhagen in December should focus on the far more important target of 2020 instead of mid century. "It is not enough to set any aspirational goal for 2050, it is critically important that we bring about a commitment to reduce emissions effectively by 2020," he said. "If this path of mitigation is to be embarked on, to ensure stabilization of temperatures at the level that I mentioned (2 C, 3.6 F), then global emissions must peak by 2015," he said.

The Chairman also opened the door to a follow up meeting to Copenhagen in case the US can not get their climate change ducks in a row before December. PARIS (AFP) - The UN's top climate scientist on Thursday urged a key conference on global warming to set tough mid-term goals and warned carbon emissions had to peak by 2015 to meet a widely-shared vision.


October 10, 2009 CO2 higher than any time in the last 15 million years  A A paper in the journal Science last week, published by a UCLA scientist (Dr. Tripati), shows that CO2 is higher today than at any time in the last 15 million years. The study looked at fossilized foraminifera, those tiny sea creatures that make up a large part of ocean primary productivity, algae, plankton and the like.

The study of these creatures involves the analysis of their tiny shells, made up of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is basically limestone formed on the ocean floor as countless numbers of these microscopic and near microscopic creatures die and their empty shells accumulate. Limestone has carbon in it, the carbon comes from carbon dioxide. The method used to figure the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere in this case is one of the most complicate. I am going to try and walk you through it because it demonstrates one of the primary reasons why climate change is so difficult to understand - that is because it is so complicated!  Stay with me now:

Dr. Tripati and her team determined the boron to calcium and magnesium to calcium ratios of the their fossil shells taken from sea cores drilled into the floor of the Pacific Ocean using a mass spectrometer. From these ratios they were able to determine the hydrogen ion concentration of the sea water at the time the foraminifera created their shells. The hydrogen ion concentration was able to tell them the pH or acidity of the ocean water, and ocean acidity has a direct relationship with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The actual experiment was hundreds of times more complicated than this, I could only wish that I was smart enough to understand everything in the report, much less the supplemental information.

An interesting note in the Tripati paper: Sea level was 80 to 130 feet higher 15 million years ago, when CO2 was the same concentration or a little higher than it is today.  One of the most obvious things that the scientists say about our current CO2 levels when compared to prehistoric sea levels is that we have raised CO2 so high so fast that ice melt has had nowhere near enough time to catch up. What this means is that the climate today, because of the great distance between the normal relationship between CO2, temperature and sea level, is far, far from anything ever experienced on this planet in time frames that matter.

Tripati, et. al., Coupling of CO2 and Ice Sheet Stability Over Major Climate Transitions of the Last 20 million years, Science Express ,October 8, 2009.


September 15, 2009 Contrarian Logic is Irreversible Anthony Watts, a 25 year broadcast meteorologist, has published an essay with the Heartland Institute. I have heard about the Heartland Institute, their Exxon ties and contrarian climate change propaganda, but I have never visited their website.  So I made a quick trip. I noticed Tobacco on a prominent tab at the top of the site and clicked. Within 30 seconds I found this quote "11 out of 12 life-long smokers don’t die before the age of 75 from a smoking-related disease."  Wow! This is fantastic!

This is the opening sentence of the websites discussion of climate change "Global warming is a prime example of the alarmism that characterizes much of the environmental movement." Their disdain of the environmental movement is obvious, too bad they have never read Silent Spring. So I clicked on alarmism just to see what would happen and within less than 8 seconds I found this article on the websites policybot, or some such. Hansen Still Embarrassing NASA After 2 Decades  So, if Hansen is still embarrassing NASA after 2 (sic) decades, why is he still the director of GISS?

But I appear to have digressed. I made it about half way through Mr. Watts essay and found that it fairly well confirmed my fears of sloth in technological pursuits across the land. I do feel that much of the information he has presented is misleading or irrelevant, but none the less, I do not doubt that there are many problems with the U.S. temperature record. One thing in particular that I could not understand in Mr. Watts essay however is the mechanism by which Stevensen screen paint (thermometer shelter - latex or whitewash) can affect minimum temperatures.  There was a Weather Service policy change in 1979 that changed the Stevensen Screen paint specification  from whitewash to latex. Latex has different thermal properties than whitewash. The essay says that the latex paint causes maximum temps to be 0.3 degrees C warm and minimum temps to be 0.8 degrees warm. No data, plots, graphs or supporting material is supplied with the essay. I do not understand how any coating or paint can cause minimum temperatures to be in error. Heat gain from additional infrared absorption during the day by latex paint is understandable and mentioned in the essay, but no explanation of how the minimum temperatures (at night) are increased by the latex paint.

The balance of this essay was consumed with the details of incorrect and out of scope screen location, installation and operation of official weather stations.  Shocking yes, and I do not doubt the perceived validity of the claims, but important to the discussion? If a warming temperature was all that climate change was about, we would have no problems. All that would be needed would be, well nothing... The air conditioner thermostat would take care of everything. 

But of course this is not about running the A/C a little longer at every cycle to keep the girls cool. This is about changing the environment of our planet. This Earth has evolved in a given range of temperatures; every piece of life on this planet. Mankind is the only organism that can control his own environment. Everything else must adapt of perish.

What we are finding, with greater rapidity and more robust certainty every year, is that changes are happening more rapidly than were expected and the impacts are greater than expected.  It matters not if these changes are happening because of a 1.2 degree warming or a 0.6 degree warming.  Environments are changing and organisms are perishing. Our Earth scientists are learning more and more about the risks and dangers to our Earth systems that are already happening and they are finding that the feedbacks are likely more sensitive and less reversible than previously assumed.

The two things that these contrarians are proving by wasting our time with these trite arguements is that they do not understand the overall ramifications of climate change, regardless of how much the thermometers says the climate is changing, and that they disregard the risks of irreversible climate change completely.

Watts Essay href=""> htt

August 14, 2009, Warmest Oceans Ever Recorded NOAA's global temperature report shows that our Earth's oceans are now warmer than they have been since record keeping began in the 1880s. The combined land /ocean temperature for July 2009 was 1.03 degrees above the 20th century average of 60.4 degrees F or the fifth warmest ever recorded. The global ocean temperature was 1.06 degrees F above the 20th century average of 61.5 and beats the previous record set during the last super-El Nino of 1998. The global land surface temperature for July 2009 was 0.92 degrees above the 20th century average and tied with 2003 as the ninth-warmest July on record. The January through

For the year to date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 57.9° F tied with 2004 for the sixth-warmest on record.  July 2009 was the 33rd consecutive July with an average global land and ocean surface temperature above the 20th century average. The last July for the temperature to be below average was in 1976.


NOAA State of the Climate Global Analysis July 2009


July 28, 2009 How will Earth's temperature change in the coming decades?  I try not to present too many summaries of climate models in this journal, but a trend is emerging in academia that I need to speak about this review is about an article in Geophysical Research letters by Judith Lynn and David Rind from the Naval Research Lab and NASA GISS. What is going on is that the academics are recognizing, in their publications, the reasons why global warming has slowed in the last six or seven years and and that these things, these naturally cyclical and recognized climate variables, are changing to conditions that will no longer mask the warming that has been occurring right along.

These masks are: the relatively long period where La Nina dominate the southern oscillation, the cool phase of the pacific decadal oscillation and the solar minimum. El Nino is back and he will probably be here more often than not for quite some time.  The recent string of La Ninas and weak El Ninos will likely not be repeated until the next cycle


The Pacific Decadal Oscillation has just moved out of a cool phase and into a new warm phase.


The solar minimum has been at its greatest in over 96 years. The minimum cycle is ending now and the effects of the cooling caused by the solar minimum will soon be gone.


These cycles are ending or have ended now. There is some lag between the cause and effect. For instance, I found a reference to an approximate two year lag involved with the solar minimum.  Once the climate lag has run its course, the warming that these mask have been hiding will return. This is what Lean and Rind talk about in their paper.

What these two scientists did was to look at the past and project short term climate forcing patterns into the future based on the history of these short term climate forcings (sunspots, ENSO, PDO, etc.)These researchers have identified these patterns and their specific cooling impact on our climate since 2002.

Their specific modeling of the return to normal conditions  shows that warming will be 50% greater than anticipated by the IPCC.

This type of thinking seems to be spreading across academia. James Hansen is another that I can lay my hands on a reference, who says that  in another year or two or three, when the warming signal comes out from behind the temporary masks, we will see successive years where global average temperature is the warmest ever experienced, year after year, for many years.

Lean and Rind, How will Earths temperature change in the coming decades, Geophysical Research Letters, August 2009

June 25, 2009 James Hansen arrested for Civil Disobedience Dr. Hansen is practicing what he preaches. In September 2008, at the Kingsnorth Six trial in Great Britain, where six protesters were on trial for painting graffiti on a smokestack at a coal fired power plant, Dr. Hansen made his policy on public disobedience public. Dr. Hansen says that, because our society appears that it is not willing to stop using coal in time to save our planet from dangerous climate change, we must resort to civil disobedience to raise awareness of the climate crisis to a point where society will take appropriate action.

He was arrested today at the Goals Coal plant in Sundial West Virginia for protesting mountain top removal coal mining. class="style40"> Dr. James Hansen is the Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies which is the primary U.S. Government climate modeling agency.

The implications of Dr. Hansen's actions are profound.

June 18, 2009 UK Met, New Mega Report for Great Britain - Four degrees F by 2040, even with strong mitigation measures. Summers will be drier and winters wetter with about the same total rainfall. this will create a greater chance of flooding. Total warming for England by 2100 is 7.2 degrees F. above 1990. (The consensus understanding is that 3.6 degrees above pre industrial levels is the maximum limit for the onset of dangerous climate change. The twentieth century saw 1.0 degrees of warming which leaves us with only 2.6 degrees to reach the limit.

For the first time a sea level rise was assumed for a worse case scenario, the new number is 6.2 feet. The UK Met reports that achieving this sea level rise is highly unlikely, but they go on to explain how they derived the estimate. Their reference comes from a paper by Rholing et. al. in 2008 that describes sea level rise during the last interglacial peaked at 1.6 +/- 0.8 meters per century. This means that worst case scenario is 7.9 feet. The last interglacial period was the last time the Earth was in-between ice ages like we are today, and the Earth was as warm, or close to as warm is it is today. Different however, is that the Earth is already as warm or within one or two degrees F as warm as it has been in the last 3 million years. By 2100, the Earth will be warmer than at any time in the last 20 million years.

June 17, 2009 United States Global Change Research Program New mega report - Climate Change is her now and getting worse.

June 12, 2009 "We've lost 80 per cent of the living coral cover in the Caribbean over the last four decades" says Dr. Nicholas Dulvy of the Simon Fraser University.  The study reviewed nearly 500 surveys of 200 different reefs all cross the Caribbean between 1969 and 2008. The causes are varied and all are directly attributable to climate change. This discovery is devastating beyond belief. We new this could happen on a warmer planet, and we new that our coral reefs were being impacted presently, but this was not supposed to happen until some point in the impersonal distant future.


The marine biologist who study reefs define their complexity by their rugosity, or how wrinkled or rough the reef is. A more complex reef is more wrinkled than a less complex reef, and the greater the complexity, the greater is the amount of and number of species a reef can support.  What this team of scientists have found is that structural complex reefs have been nearly completely wiped out across the Caribbean in the last 40 years. In 1979, complex reefs accounted for 48% of the total number off reefs, in 2008 they accounted for just 2%.

Alvarez-Filip et. al., Flattening of Caribbean coral reefs: region-wide declines in Architectural complexity, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, June 2009.

Press Release University of East Angliaa>

Dr. Nicholas Dulvy Interview Toronto Globe and Mail

June 2, 2009  "Ocean acidification, one of the world’s most important climate change challenges, may be left off the agenda at the United Nations Copenhagen conference." Says the National Science Academies of 70 nations.      The science academies of 70 nations addressed the opening of the climate talks in Bonn today concerning the seriousness of emission cuts required to keep ocean acidity under control. From the statement:

Ocean acidification is irreversible on timescales of at least tens of thousands of years; At current emission rates models suggest that all coral reefs and polar ecosystems will be severely affected by 2050 or potentially even earlier;

Carbonate saturation, or the basics chemistry allowing primary productivity to survive as at it lowest level in 800,000 years.  If current trends continue ocean acidity will be higher than at any time in the last 10 million years. (By current trends, they mean those trends established over the last 30 or more years. since the turn of the century, trends have been accelerating beyond those of the last 30 years.) The statement says: "The current rate of change is much more rapid than at any time in the last 65 million years."

Ocean acidity changes are happening now across the globe and have already begun to affect coral growth. In the Antarctic and parts of the North Sea, it has already begun to affect primary productivity and mass extinctions are projected between 2030 and 2050. (See here and here)

Even with stabilization of atmospheric CO2 at 450 ppm, ocean acidification will have profound impacts on many marine systems. Large and rapid reductions of global CO2 emissions are needed globally by at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. The highest emission reductions proposed to date are by the European Union at 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. The U.S was (last month) proposing 20% below 2005 levels, which is about 7% below 1990 levels.  Now the U.S proposal is down to 17% or below 2005.

Cuts under Kyoto look like they will now be realized in the European Union, but almost nowhere else.  Worldwide, CO2 keeps rising at an accelerating rate.

Most developed countries today, including the U.S. are proposing cuts of 50% to 80% by 2050, or what it's worth.

Statement: Interacademy Panel on International Issues: A Global Network of Science Academies

May 27, 2009 New USGS Study Documents Rapid Disappearance of Antarctica’s Ice Shelves  This mega effort by the US Geologic survey created a map of the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Shelves and their retreat during the study period. The report summary quotes "The map portrays one of the most rapidly changing areas on Earth, and the changes in the map area are widely regarded as among the most profound, unambiguous examples of the effects of global warming on Earth." The map is shown to the right and can be seen in great detail following the links at the bottom of this discussion. Insets are shown from a few of the retreating ice shelves below.


The USGS map shows the central part of the peninsula, centered on the Larson Ice Shelf. The general map below shows the Antarctic Peninsula in relationship to the rest of the continent. 


Over 7,200 individual measurements of ice-front location were made on 174 glaciers during the study period. The study showed a general and widespread advance between 1940 and about 1960 followed by a general retreat in the 1960s and 70s. The retreat became more pronounced in the 1990s and accelerated further in the late 1990s. of the 174 coastlines that were measured, 82 percent or 142 showed retreat. The following image is an enlarged crop of the USGS map. The Larson is on the right, the Wordie is in the square box on the left.


The different colored lines in the darker blue shaded areas show the ice edge on a given date. The darker blue shading is the missing portion of the ice shelves. The Larsen in the above map is actually the Larsen C Ice Shelf. The Larsen A and B, both to the north, in areas that have warmed the most, have already disappeared. The Larsen B, which disappeared in 2002, is shown below as the last  crop of this discussion. About 25% of the Larsen C (above) has disappeared since the 1940s.

The retreat of the Wordie Ice Shelf was the focal point of intense interest in excessive warming on the Antarctic Peninsula in the 1980s and 1990s.  This ice shelf completely filled Wordie Bay in the 1930s, retreat and expansion occurred until the 1960s when this ice shelf set the trend for ice shelf retreat on the Antarctica Peninsula.  The ice shelf is almost completely gone today.


The Larson A, the smallest of the three Larsen Ice Shelves, disappeared in 1995. Larsen B, the size of Rhode Island, disintegrated, literally, in 28 days in 2002. Meltwater had filled the thousands of crevasses in the ice shelf and the weight of the water in the crevasses acted like wedges to force the cracks through the 700 foot thick floating ice sheet.

 The area of the rapid disintegration in 2002 is shown between the 2000 and 2002 mapping lines.


The Larsen C is now starting to show melt on the surface in summer, and the bottom is melting from warming ocean temperatures.  It is anticipated that the the Larsen C may last another decade. It is the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

See the discussion of the disintegration of the Wilkins Ice Sheet (the size of Connecticut), not far from the Wordie to the south west at the April 25, 2009 discussion.


Report: Ferigno, et. al., Coastal Change and Glaciological Map of the Larson Ice Shelf Areas of Antarctica: 1940 to 2005, US Geologic Survey 2008.


May 25, 2009 Spring dust storms, earlier snow melt - USGS scientist asks "Is this the new normal?" Twelve dust storms this spring have coated the southwestern Rockies with dust speeding snowmelt by 35 days earlier than average. The faster snowmelt will lead to decreased runoff later in the season, a climate change prediction that is being realized all too soon. The dust storm frequency was a bit unexpected however. 

In the entire year of 2003, four dust storms hit the Rockies.  Eight have occurred in each of the last three years, and 12 just this spring alone. The increased snowmelt  is caused by the dust heating up as it soaks up the sun light energy.  Snow reflects up to 90% of the sun's energy, dust absorbs over 70% of the sun's energy and turns it to heat.


Outside of Fillmore, Utah, March 4, 2009.

The amount of dust in the Rockies recently has been five times greater than the pre 1900 normal.  The dust bowl of the 1930's saw dust levels seven times the pre 1900 normal. Climate prediction models show the south western U.S. seeing permanent dust bowl conditions by 2050. Like most other climate model predictions, are we beginning to see dust bowl conditions a bit ahead of schedule?


LA Times,0,1077488.story

May 21, 2008 MIT Study: Twice as hot as predicted 6 years ago. We have come to understand an enormous amount about our climate since the turn of the Century.  the latest and most accurate super computer models are now predicting climate change far worse than was predicted with the IPCC Fourth Assessment.

The MIT News release begins: "The most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth's climate will get in this century shows that without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago - and could be even worse than that."

The study sees 5.2 degrees C (9.4 F) warming by 2100 under an average scenario with that considers the business as usual scenario. The range is 6.3 to 13.3 F, just by 2100. Beyond 2100 the temperature continues to increase.

The model DOES NOT take into consideration many of the better known but poorly understood feedback mechanisms such as methane release from permafrost melt.

MIT News - Climate change odds much worse than thought

Sokolov, et. al., Probabilistic forecast for 21st century climate based on uncertainties in emissions (without policy) and climate parameters. Journal of Climate, May 2009


May 15, 2009  Met Hadley UK says "Even with drastic cuts in emissions in the next 10 years, our results project that there will only be around a 50%chance of keeping global temperatures rises below 2 °C."

The report says: "This idealized emissions scenario is based on emissions peaking in 2015 and quickly changing from an increase of 2–3% per year to a decrease of 3% per year. For every 10 years we delay action another 0.5 °C will be added to the most likely temperature rise."


May 13, 2009 The Catlin Arctic Survey: "Our science advisors had told us to expect thicker, older ice on at least part of the route, so it is something of a mystery where that older ice has gone. It'll be interesting to see what scientists think about this."

A woman and two men pulling sledges nearly 300 miles across the Arctic sea ice in the dead of winter; temperatures between 0 and -50F, 1,500 sea ice thickness measurements. A short trip by polar standards, unless the sea ice thickness measurements are taken into consideration.  Although I have hiked around a bit in the snow - gee whiz. What a great trip. But the sea ice thickness measurements are disconcerting.

They found first-year sea ice on almost their entire  route. the scientists had told them they would see multi-year ice on at least part of their route.

May 10, 2009 Aerosols: Complicated atmospheric chemistry responsible for 45% of warming in the Arctic. The major aerosols are black carbon (see May 7), sulfates and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). They come from combustion. Black carbon comes mostly from the burning of most fuels in developing and third world nations where pollution controls are not as stringent as in the developing world.  Sulfates and NOx comes mostly from coal and oil and again, less in the developed world because of more stringent pollution controls.

We have found in the last few years that aerosols are nearly comparable to greenhouse gases when understanding how our atmosphere responds to warming energy from the sun. NASA scientists have published research findings in the journal Nature Geoscience that show that aerosols, including black carbon, have now been shown to account for 45% of recent warming in the Arctic.


It all started with the industrial revolution. Greenhouse gases and aerosols from coal and oil burning started to warm the planet. The warming was amplified then, as it is now, by the polar amplification effect. World War I put a stop to the warming; likely the complicated effects of aerosol pollution were responsible. After World War I industrialization went into overdrive. Greenhouse gasses and aerosols combined to warm the planet again. Then about the time that World War II began, temperatures across the Arctic started to decline.

So how can increasing greenhouse gasses and aerosols cool the planet? Black carbon has a net warming effect, but sulfates and NOx have a net cooling effect. Atmospheric scientist now understand that our climate may be even more significantly affected by aerosols  than carbon dioxide for the next couple of decades. The understanding is imperfect, but it has been widely acknowledged for some time now that air pollution caused global temperatures to dip between World War II and the early 1970s.

Then came clean air regulations. In 1963 the first Clean Air Act in the U.S. set  air quality standards for power plants and industry. In 1966 California enacted air quality regulations for vehicles. In 1968, amendments to the Clean Air Act went into effect to regulate transportation nationwide and strengthen regulations for industry. In 1970 the Clean Air Act was completely overhauled and strengthened again. The Arctic started its warming trend once more as the skies cleared.

Now, air pollution in developing countries, with significantly less air quality regulations than the developed countries, is complicating climate change. Most of the knowledge about how developing nation's air pollution is affecting climate has been centered around cooling. But just recently, several projects have shown the opposite and the latest knowledge sees more warming than cooling.

The story is so complicated because sulfates and NOx do cool the planet by reflecting sunlight back into space, but black carbon warms, mostly in the middle and upper atmosphere. Sulfates and NOx however, create brighter clouds that are less efficient at releasing their moisture as precipitation, which warms the planet as it dries, but the clouds also reflect sunlight back into space cooling the planet.  Black carbon also dims the planet, creating less clouds and less precipitation. 

Stay tuned.

Shindell and Faluvegi, Climate response to regional radiative forcing during the twentieth century, nature Geoscience, March 2009.

 NASA Press Release:


May 7, 2009  Black carbon (soot) has 60% of the warming potential of CO2 and is a problem three to four times greater than previously assumed.

Black soot comes from and biofuels such as wood and organic fuel in cooking fires, diesel and fuel oil emissions, wildfires, agricultural burning, etc. The problem is most severe in developing and third world countries. New studies have shown that black carbon is far more significant at warming than previously assumed. It is a major part of the Asian Brown Cloud or ABCs that nearly constantly cloak much of Asia. It combines with other air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides (NOx) to form a sort of super smog (ABCs).

Black carbon traps heat on earth a little differently from greenhouse gasses. When the suns energy (light) hits the black carbon the energy turns into heat energy (infrared energy) just like when sunlight hits the Earth. Black carbon also captures heat when sunlight reflects off of the earth and bounces back to hit the black carbon in the atmosphere. The black carbon, in both cases, heats up and transfers it heat to the atmosphere. Greenhouses gases works by capturing that energy from the sun that has already been converted to heat when it hits the Earth's surface by forming a gaseous "blanket" that prevents the heat from escaping to space.

The new studies show that black carbon is 60% as effective at warming the atmosphere as CO2. This makes it the second most important contributor, behind CO2, in warming the planet. 2008

Shindell and Faluvegi, Climate response to regional radiative forcing during the twentieth century, nature Geoscience, March 2009.


May 5, 2009 "There's been a super-rapid decline in the glaciers of the region"  This quote is from "Ice, Snow, and Water: Impacts of Climate Change on Himalayan Asia & California", University of California, San Diego, Sustainability Solutions Institute.

Glacier National Park will not be the only place that is glacierless in 20 to 30 years. The scientists at this forum At UC San Diego are not optimistic about most of the ice on this planet outside of polar regions. These high mountain zones where glaciers once ruled have a changing climate that is amplified with the same effect that causes polar amplification of climate change, mostly the ice albedo feedback mechanism. This effect works much like defrosting an old fashioned refrigerator freezer. It take a long time to get the ice to start melting much, but once it does, it all melts pretty fast.

These glaciated regions contain the water that supplies between one and two and a half billion people. The water is stored in snow pack each winter and slowly melts through the summer to fill reservoirs. Earlier melt does a number of negative things to the water budget. As the glaciers melt, the winter snows will melt much faster and earlier in the spring. To capture the runoff more quickly, much larger reservoirs are needed.  As the annual snowmelt finishes earlier every year, the mountains will warm more in the summer, delaying the onset of snow in the fall, diminishing the annual snow pack. Less snowmelt and moisture in the summer will feedback to create even drier conditions that cause less rain in summer and delay the onset and quantity of winter precipitation which speeds the melt even further in the spring.



Charles Kennel, is a UCSD researcher who served as director of Scripps from 1998 to 2006; he says “We are trying to make it known that the Himalayas are to the issue of the world’s water supply problem what the Amazon rain forest is to the issue of deforestation,”

UCSD News h

April 30, 2009 New Articles in the journal Nature say climate change is worse than thought, is happening faster with greater impacts and is going to be more difficult to control  To limit warming to 2 degrees C by 2050, the world must limit greenhouse gas emissions to 275 gigatons between 2000 and 2050.  Considering that we have already emitted nearly one third of this 275 giga tons in nine years, this is going to be "extremely difficult" says the author of the report (Meinhausen). The research findings from a new super computer climate model were reported today in the journal Nature.

Meinshausen et. al., Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2 °C, Nature April 30, 2009.

April 30, 2009 "Profound ecological changes are occurring on coral reefs throughout the tropics" quotes study team A team of 32 scientists have released a report that summarized 48 research project covering 318 reefs and 273 reef fish species during the period 1955-2007. The decline started about 1995. The scientists say the half of the fish species groups studied are decreasing at 2.6 to 6% loss per year.  This loss rate is equal to 22 to 43 percent over 10 years. Because the species groups span game and commercial fish species as well as non commercial and non game fish species, over fishing is not the problem.

What is happening is a result of coral reef decline due to climate change, put more succinctly, "...drastic recent degradation of reef habitats... indicate that Caribbean fishes have begun to respond negatively to habitat degradation." Corals cover has been reduced "drastically" across the Caribbean region since the mid-1970s. The reduction is estimated to be 80% (Gardener 2003).

The reason that the team believe that the fish decline did not coincide with the reef decline is that coral skeletons persist for decades. It is the structure of the reef that provides much of the benefits of the reef habitat. After several decades, this  structure starts to disintegrate an so goes the fish population.

Paddack, et. al., Recent Region-wide Declines in Caribbean Reef Fish Abuncance Curent Biology, April 2009.

April 28, 2009 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program study tells of profound changes in the Arctic One of the quotes in the report states "There continues to be widespread and, in some cases, dramatic evidence of an overall warming of the Arctic system."

zsdgThe Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program is one of five Working Groups of the Arctic Council. The primary function of AMAP is to advise the governments of the eight Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States). Four Indigenous Peoples Organizations and twenty three observing countries and cooperating international organizations are a part of AMAP.

Warming in the Arctic is greater than ever recorded and is occurring faster than anticipated. Sea ice has decreased sharply, faster than expected, and the Northeast and Northwest passages were open for the first time ever in 2007 and 2008. Most of the ice in the Arctic is now single year ice, that is very easy to melt every year and shrubberies have started to grow in the tundra.

Many of these things may sound innocuous, but they have hidden and unexpected impacts. Take the growth of shrubs in tundra country for instance. Snow reflects 90% of the suns energy completely back into space. Winter snow easily covers tundra, but when shrubs start to grow, the snow depth must be much greater to cover the greenery.  This greenery can capture 70 to 80% of the suns energy and change it into heat where it stays on the planet unlike that energy that is reflected back into space by snow. So there is a difference of 8 or 9 times the amount of heat generated between snow covered tundra, and shrubs that extend above the snow cover. This is an immense amount of heat to add to an Arctic ecosystem.

Permafrost is warming and melting. Snow cover is decreasing by 1% to 2% per year (by half in 30 years). Ice free areas in the Arctic Ocean were as much as much as 9 degrees warmer than their long term average. While growth in tundra areas has increase, growth in boreal forests has declined.

Melt on the Greenland ice Sheet was the largest ever recorded in 2007 and 60% greater than the last record year of 1998. Bird nesting and insect emergence occur two weeks earlier and the active growing season has extended by one month. Eurasian and North American runoff into the Arctic have both increased.

April 27, 2009  The Potential for Catastrophic Sea-level Rise in the Near-future is Confirmed: 6.5 to 10 feet in 10 to 24 years Teams from the Institute of Marine & Limnological Sciences, at the University of Mexico and the Institute of Marine Science in Germany published a report in the April 9 scientific journal Nature that shows a sea level rise of six and a half to ten feet in 10 to 24 years because of a catastrophic ice sheet disintegration. This sea level jump compares similarly to those seen during the rapid warming out of the ice ages only this one was right in the middle of the Penultimate Interglacial - the last time Earth was as warm as it is today. This abrupt sea level rise happened about 120,000 years ago. The temperature then was likely several degrees warmer than today, similar to what the latest computer models say we sill see 2030 or 2050.

The one big difference however is that today we are pushing climate much harder than it has been pushed during the most unstable periods in the last dozens of millions of years.  During the last interglacial, the climate forcing was relatively calm compared to those during the unstable periods coming out the ice ages.  It is these unstable periods where most of these abrupt sea level jumps occur. The most widely known are the 16 to 20 feet jumps recorded in Barbados 18,000 years ago (16 to 20 feet) that occurred as a result of the end of the last ice age./span>

NNow the scientists have discovered that this sort of thing happens in between ice ages, in the "interglacial warm periods" between ice ages. This research was done at a place called Xcaret on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

The most likely culprit is the West Antarctic Ice sheet. In a world similar to our world today, which is what the world was like 120,000 years ago, it is likely that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, like today, was the only marine ice sheet in existence.  It is these marine ice sheets that are unstable and capable of catastrophic disintegration. What makes them so unstable is that they rest on bedrock a thousand or more feet below sea level with ice towering thousands of feet above sea level. As a warming ocean melts ice below sea level the buoyancy of the ice is changed causing the instability. The dynamics are poorly understood, but the results are not./span>

TThis team of scientists discovered these prehistoric sea level jumps the same way that those in Barbados and other parts of the world were found – by looking at coral reefs. The reefs are cored to see what their hidden growth layers reveal. These layers show growth over time and are very similar to tree growth rings. The scientists looked at the continuousness of the growth record and they looked at physical things like sediment deposition, mass die-offs and algae buildup.

When a reef is suddenly submerged by a rapid sea level jump caused by disintegrating ice sheets or land subsidence from volcanic actions or earthquakes, etc., the shallow water corals often die. Algal mats form on the dead corals and sand and sediment becomes trapped in these new layers. Then, as ecological time moves forward, new corals grow that are more at home at greater depths. This series of events forms a very distinctive pattern in the coral cores that were recovered by the research team at Xcaret.

What they found was there was one to two generations of coral missing from the record, there was a mass die off and a layer of sediment typical of that formed in other areas by abrupt sea level rises. The particular species of coral that was missing was the elk horn coral with an average life span of 10 to 12 years.

The implications, like so many other newly discovered impacts of climate change on a slightly warmer planet from melting permafrost to ocean acidification, if left unchecked, are going to create dire consequences for the planet.

TThe lead scientist from the Mexico/Germany research team (Dr. Paul Blanchon) says in his report: "In our warming world, the implications of a rapid, meter-scale sea level jump late during the last interglacial are clear for both future ice sheet stability and reef development.  Given the dramatic disintegration of ice shelves and discovery of rapid ice loss from both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, the potential for sustained rapid ice loss and catastrophic sea-level rise in the near future is confirmed by our discovery of sea-level instability at the close of the last interglacial."



Blanchon et. al., Rapid sea-level rise and reef back-stepping at the close of the last interglacial highstand, Nature, April 2009.

 Fairbanks, A 17,000 year glacio-eustatic sea level record: influence of glacial melting rates on the Younger Dryas event and deep ocean circulation. Nature, 342, 1989.


xzcApril 26, 2009  CO2 Climb Continues to Accelerate Despite Economic Crisis  Well it did not happen, at least not yet.  the economic crisis has not affected CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. They continue to rise at an even faster rate than just a few years ago.   The graphic on the right is probably familiar to most. This is the Keeling Curve, developed by Dr. Keeling at Muana Loa in Hawaii. He started measuring CO2 when everyone thought he was nuts back in the late 50s. Well, Dr. Keeling turned out to be the sane one...

His graph of course is the telltale signature of climate change: that every increasing curve trending off of the top of the chart. But this graph has always left me a little underwhelmed.  I took Dr. Keeling's data - the computed annual CO2 concentration change donefont FACE="ArialMT" SIZE="3"> by NOAA's Earth Systems Research Lab (ESRL) and plotted them instead.

The blue line connects the part per million (ppm) change every year, which is quite variable, but the black line is the trend, or the "smoothed" average.  About 1960 the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere was between 0.7 and 0.8 ppm. Last year, it was almost 2.1 ppm.

While the increase in the Keeling Curve graph at the top (from less that 315 to 386 ppm) is about 23%, the increase of the rate that CO2 is increasing (bottom graph) is nearly 300%!  Why don't the scientists show us this image instead of the one that has a 23% increase since 1960?

I have to repeat this it is so important: CO2 has increased 23% since 1960. But more importantly, CO2 is increasing three 300% faster than it was in 1960. The importance of the difference can not be understated.

April 25, 2009 The Wilkins Ice Shelf Continues its Collapse  5,000 square miles - an area large than the state of Connecticut. It started in February 2008 (the end of the Antarctic Summer). It continued through the Antarctic winter sdgwhich was a big surprise to scientists. That sort of thing had never happened before. Last month the slender remaining ice bridge collapsed and the breakup has accelerated.

This is the tenth ice shelf collapse on the Antarctic Peninsula in two decades. Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey say that this breakup, like the rest is caused by global warming.  This collapse however came from melting ice on the bottom of the ice sheet - a foreshadowing of bigger things to come, beginning already on the West Antarctic ice Sheet.

We still have a few ice shelves to go before the West Antarctic gets involved. The Larson C for instance, is  larger than Vermont and new Hampshire put together.  It is melting from beneath as well. Small changes in ocean temperatures can do a lot of melting because of the great thermal capacity of water. 

Current thinking is that the Larson C has maybe 10 years left. The Larson B, the size of Rhode Island, broke up in 2002 in 28 days because surface melt water drained into thousands of crevasses and wedged them apart. The Larson C surface is melting in summer now, that wasn't happening a decade ago.

Wilkins Feb 27, 2009

April 21, 2009 This is Just Funny (and sad) It's from an article on Yahoo. "Ask 15 Republicans the same questions about climate change and you get 20 different answers!" The author, Lisa Lerer says: in March, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told a national conservative radio program that the Earth is “cooling,” not warming.

After the EPA CO2 Endangerment Ruling, the article says: Republican leader John Boehner dismissed as “almost comical” the idea that carbon dioxide is “a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment”.

And finally, the New York times reports that the same guy, Congressman John Boehner, Republican Leader in the House, thinks that cows fart CO2.

You can see for yourself, the interview with Ohio Republican Congressman John Boehner and George Staphanopholus:


April 21, 2009 EPA CO2 Endangerment Ruling Press Release "...Climate change is an enormous problem.." Delayed for nearly a decade by the Bush Administration, as soon as Obama came into office the EPA went back to work. 

The Ruling states:    rd

“This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations... In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem." The press release goes on to state:

"In addition to threatening human health, the analysis finds that climate change also has serious national security implications. Consistent with this proposed finding, in 2007, 11 retired U.S. generals and admirals signed a report from the Center for a New American Security stating that climate change “presents significant national security challenges for the United States.” Escalating violence in destabilized regions can be incited and fomented by an increasing scarcity of resources – including water. This lack of resources, driven by climate change patterns, then drives massive migration to more stabilized regions of the world."

There are no regulations connected to the "Endangerment Finding". It is the initial action that leads to regulation. This is the same procedure that happens, or happened with other dangerous byproducts of our human existence like lead and ozone depleting chemicals. The EPA has stated that they would rather control greenhouse gasses through legislation, which is likely not a good idea. What this action has done however, is to allow science to rule our lives. If the forthcoming legislation is as weak as it appears it is going to be, the EPA will now have the tools available to appropriately regulate greenhouse gasses.

Press Release:

EPA Endangerment Summary Page:

Endangerment Finding:

EPA Technical Support: This is a great document (171 pages) about the current state of our climate:


April 16, 2009 World's forests to become carbon sources instead of carbon sinks within a few decades. A new mega report by the  International Union of Forest Research Organizations states the obvious. Persistent drought, insect infestations and disease have increased just as the scientists predicted they would over 20 years ago. These problems have already had enormous impacts on the forests of the world and those impacts are increasing in severity and the accelerating patterns are expected to only worsen.  IUFRO is "the" global network for forest science cooperation. It unites more than 15,000 scientists in almost 700 Member Organizations in over 110 countries.


Most people have never heard that our forests are in trouble. Most folks have never heard of the great pine beetle pandemic in the North American Rockies.(see here) It has killed 40 million acres of trees in a little more than a decade, or that this outbreak is ten times larger than the last biggest outbreak that occurred just ten years ago on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska that was 3 million acres.  The photo above is from the Steamboat Springs, Colorado area in 2008. Over 2.5 million acres have been killed in Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, The Colorado State Forest Service, the US Forest Service says that all of the mature lodgepole pine forests in the U.S. Rocky Mountains will be dead by 2012 to 2015. These forests represent 18% of all of the forests in the U.S. Rocky Mountains. The forests of Canada are in even worse trouble. This is where the bulk of the tree mortality has come from. In British Columbia alone, 30 million acres of trees are dead. In the next decade, another 10 million trees will be killed at which time all of the food for the mountain pine beetle in BC will be dead. The infestation has rapidly spread beyond BC in the last few years.

Risto Seppälä, Alexander Buck, & Pia Katila (Editors). ADAPTATION OF FORESTS AND PEOPLE TO CLIMATE CHANGE – A Global Assessment Report. Prepared by the Global Forest Expert Panel on Adaptation of Forests to Climate Change. International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). World Series Volume 22, April 2009.

April 15, 2009 The Problem is so Much Bigger... What James Hansen, the most important climate modeler in the world, has said about CO2 concentrations: that we need to reduce our CO2 levels to 350 ppm. How are we going to do that with CO2 reductions?  With a CO2 tax? With cap and trade?   Taxes, caps and trades, increasing efficiency, using less energy to start with - all of these things reduce the rate at which we are putting CO2 into the air.

We need to be taking CO2 out of the air. This is a true emergency. We need to e defending our country like this was a world war because it is. this is a war for the survival of our world.

Today's CO2 concentration is 387 ppm and increasing at 3% per year, and this increase has accelerated markedly since the turn of the century. To get to 350 ppm from 387 ppm we have to take CO2 out of the air. We cannot decrease the amount of CO2 that we are putting into the air unless we take more out than we are putting in. It is simple math.

Sure, natural processes take CO2 out of the air, but that takes a long time. CO2 has a half life of 300 years (not 200 years). this means that after 300 years, half of the cCO2 put into the air on a given day is still there.  Half of that CO2 that was left will stay in the air another 20,000 years, and the rest will stay there, basically until the end of time.

The reason that CO2 has a half life of 300 years instead of the 200 years that we understood at the end of the 20th century, among other things is that our oceans are warmer. They absorb less CO2 as they warm.  Our forests have passed the CO2 fertilizer effect and their absorption of CO2 is slowing. Our land masses are drying out under persistent drought conditions, they absorb less CO2 if they are drier.

As our oceans continue to warm, our forest continue to decline and our land masses continue to dry, CO2 become even more difficult to be removed from our atmosphere naturally.

Hansen 350 PPM see here

April 13, 2009 Total loss of Arctic sea ice, winter and summer, because of irreversible non-linear feedback

We don't know more about our climate than we do know. I just read a paper about the Arctic in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that says that basically the albedo feedback and an ice free summer in the Arctic could and eventually will lead to an ice free winter too. The implications for climate are immense. The Arctic is part of the Earth's refrigeration system. The ice up there has been there for 14 million years without a break. See here

Apparently, the ice covered Arctic Ocean is stable and a seasonally ice covered Artic Ocean is not stable.  We are transitioning to this seasonably covered state now. It may be just a few years or a few decades, but it is close at hand, and it is happening 50 to 70 years ahead of schedule.

Next, the authors do not know when, but they do understand that the change from a seasonally ice covered Arctic Ocean to a completely ice free Arctic Ocean, summer and winter, will occur unexpectedly and irreversibly at some point.  It's called a bifurcation response, or tipping point or threshold. 

Because ice reflects 93 percent of the sun's energy harmlessly back to space and open water absorbs 90 percent of the sun's energy and turns it into heat that hangs around, the warming differential is huge.  More water means a lot more warming, which melts more ice, etc. Finally, at the bifurcation point, the water gets so warm that ice will not form in winter.

This is all part of the polar amplification effect that we see happening today. The new discovery is that a winter ice free condition will happen abruptly and unexpectedly.  And if this occurrence is like most any other climate change related event in the last decade, it will happen much sooner than expected.

Eisenman and Wettlaufer, Nonlinear threshold behavior during the loss of Arctic sea ice, PNAS, January 2009.

April 7 Arctic Sea Ice Thinnest Ever xfgjnOnly 10% of Arctic Sea ice is is older than two years old. The maximum coverage of sea ice this winter was the fifth lowest ever recorded (The six lowest winter ice coverage totals have all occurred in the last six years.) First year ice, ice that melts every summer, makes up 70% of Arctic sea ice.

The albedo feedback effect may have taken over the Arctic. Albedo is the term scientists use for the reflectivity of a surface. Ice reflects up to 93% of the suns energy harmlessly back into space. Water absorbs over 90% of the suns energy where it stays on Earth as heat.

Some of the heat absorbed as more ice melts stays in the ocean and causes the winter freeze to create thinner ice. At some point, enough heat is absorbed during the summer so that no ice forms in winter - the water is just too warm. There are no scientists that are yet predicting the loss of winter ice in the arctic, but it has been just recently that science has discovered that summer sea ice in the arctic has been present for over 14 million years.  (see here)

US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Loss of sea ice in the Arctic -


April 5, 2009 The Only Thing Worse Than Climate Change is the American Publics' Perception of Climate Change Over 97% of climate scientists understand that humankind has been a significant contributor to rising temperatures across the planet yet 42% of Americans believe there is a lot of disagreement between climate scientists. 

Polls and surveys tell us a lot of things. They all do not tell us the same things, but they often do not ask the same things either. We learn generalities as well as specifics from polls and surveys. We start to understand just what it is that the public is thinking and in some cases we even begin to understand why the public is thinking the way that the polls suggest. We understand that for an individual, reality is what that individual is thinking.

Across all countries, an average 90 percent say that “climate change or global warming due to the greenhouse effect” is a serious problem, but 60% believe that climate change will NOT pose a serious threat to them in their lifetime and 41% of Americans believe that the press is exaggerating the issue of climate change. (See here)

Almost 60% of Americans believe they have a "fairly good" understanding of climate change, but  69% believe that reduction of atmospheric ozone is a major cause of global warming. *

Global warming ranked 8th out of 8 environmental issues with Americans and 20th out of 20 top issues in America.


* Ozone: This confusion was created because the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica and general atmospheric ozone depletion occurred coincidentally with the popular understanding of global warming. Ozone is a greenhouse gas and one of the more unstable of the atmospheric gasses. Because it is a greenhouse gas, reduction of ozone actually cools the atmosphere. It is the other complex relationships between ozone and other gasses in the atmosphere as well as other environmental processes that create warming from a reduction of ozone. The cooling and warming effects tend to somewhat cancel each other out although there is not yet a thorough understanding of ozone in our atmosphere. Overall we know it is a minor contributor to global warming, not a major contributor as is suggested by the polling.

Increased Number Think Global Warming Is “Exaggerated”

Doran and Zimmerman Examining the Scientific Consensus, EOS Jan 2009.

30-Country Poll Finds Worldwide Consensus that Climate Change is a Serious Problem

UN Human Development Report 2007 / 2008, Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World, Executive Summary. UN Human Development Report 20072008 Fighting Climate Change Human Solidarity in a Divided World_summary_english.

Rutgers CSP Poll November 9, 2008.

Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Policy Priorities In 2009.


April 3, 2009 Sunspots at 96 Year Low We are at the bottom of the 11 year sunspot cycle and this is the longest period that we have seen with the fewest sunspots in 96 years. Sunspots are hotter than the rest of the sun - somewhat counter intuitively, they look black, but they give off more energy. That energy warms the Earth. The amount of reduction is 0.02 to 6% less depending on the wavelength - which does not appear to be much either. The sunspot minimum cools the Earth by about a half a degree F. on average, because this one is a little stronger, the cooling may be a little stronger too. But remember, a little goes a long way with the Earth's climate.


Radio energy emission (the sun emits radio waves too) are at a 55 year low. Another thing that happens is that less solar winds are created during these periods. Solar wind energy is at a 50 year low. Less solar wind actually shrinks our atmosphere because it doesn't blow away as much of the cosmic rays from deep space that act to swell our atmosphere in some way. This is still foreign to my understanding nevertheless, our atmosphere shrinks. Could this be one of the reasons why our climate cools during sunspot minima? Outer space is closer? our Earth's insulation blanket is thinner?

We have also likely just entered the "Cool Phase" of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. This is 20 to 30 years cycle in the Pacific that is understood about as well as the rest of climate science; at least we know more today than yesterday. The "Cool Phase" however, is not called a "cool phase" because it is warmer than normal. And, La Nina continues in the Pacific as well. It is gradually weakening and is supposed to go neutral by early summer.

So the blizzards across the Plains in the U.S. continue and the public's understanding of global warming is obfuscated by natural climate variations. I am working on a piece about public viewpoints about climate change.  Nearly half of the U.S. population (42%) believes that that the media is exaggerating, but the media is asleep for goodness sakes. Stay tuned, the piece will be up in a  few days.

On a similar subject, I read another paper yesterday about global warming causing persistent La Nina conditions instead of the well accepted persistent El Nino hypothesis. This would be a flipping mechanism where the warmer global temperatures force the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) to jump to a cool state. Don't hold your breath.

Space Weather at NASA:

April 2, 2009 U.S. GHG Reduction Bill (Waxman-Markey) is a Shadow of Kyoto Kyoto Required the U.S. to reduce GHGs by 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. Since the Clinton Administration did not ratify Kyoto, the task has become harder, not easier. Climate is changing faster, the impacts are greater, the warming in the pipeline is greater and future impacts will be greater and last much, much longer than understood during the Clinton Administration. (See NOAA's Solomon here)

The first reading of the new climate legislation requires U.S. reductions of greenhouse gases (equivalent to CO2) of 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. GHG emissions in 2005 were 7130 gtons (gigatons = billion tons). this is the same target as Kyoto had for the U.S. of 7% below 1990 levels (5,718 gtons). What kind of progress is this? Much of the rest of the world - Most of the rest of the world - is seeking reductions that are five to seven times greater than Kyoto - not the same as...

The U.S. is far, far behind. Our 2007 emissions in the were 7,125 gtons.

China?  No... CO2 hardly matters from year to year. It has a half life of 300 years.  Half of the CO2 emitted by the US has been emitted since 1960, so virtually all of it is still in the air. We have emitted 30% of all of the CO2 emitted by every country on Earth since the beginning of the industrial revolution.  China is second at 8%, and it will be many decades before they catch up to the US.

Of the remaining half of CO2 in the atmosphere after 300 years, not 100 or 200 years like we thought in the 20th Century. Those numbers were relatively correct back then, but warming decreases the capacity of our CO2 sinks to suck up CO2. Scientists are finding that the sinks are decreasing in efficiency faster than expected, so the half life of CO2 has increased, as well as its 3/4 life and its whole life. Half of the CO2 that remains in our atmosphere longer than 300 years will stay there for 1,000 years, the other half will stay there 20,000 to 30,000 years.

CO2 emissions -

CO2 half life - Archer, Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time, Journal of Geophysical Research, 2005.


April 1, 2009  No Jokes Today: Arctic Sea Ice has not been absent from the Arctic Ocean in The summer in 14 million years So much going on...  A great paper slipped past in February - It has been 14 million years since the Arctic has been ice free in summer. The National Snow and Ice Data Center has declared the arctic sea ice maximum for the winter.  It is the 5th lowest on record, and the lowest 6 years ever recorded have all occurred in the last 6 years.

The current Arctic sea ice projections are that we will see ice free conditions in the Arctic sometimes starting between 2013 and 2020.  With the sunspot cycle and La Nina waning, it will be just a few years until the ocean oscillations re-align themselves so that the warming mask is removed. The anticipated continuance of accelerated warming coinciding with accelerated CO2 emissions and greenhouse gas feedback reactions is universal among climate scientists.

The implications of an ice free Arctic Ocean are significant while in reality being quite unknown. Fourteen million years is  along to time to hind cast. What is known is that open ocean absorbs 93% of the suns heat while snow absorbs 7%.  So an ice free Arctic will retain 13 times more heat than we have seen retained in 14 million years. It is understood that this heat is easily transferred to adjoining land masses and this could be one of the reasons that drive the polar amplification process that sees climate change happening first in the arctic and happening with much greater impacts.

Loss of Sea Ice in the Arctic, US Army Engineering Research Center Cold Regions Research and Engineering, 2009

April 1, 2009  Dr. Katey Walter back from Siberia - Melt Lakes are 5 times the size were just two years ago Part of Dr. Walters research involves winter time excursions to frozen over permafrost melt lakes to measure the trapped methane beneath the ice. She recently returned from her Siberia project and reported that the size of the melt lakes had increased five times in her two years absence.  Make sure to see her research videos. This is real survivorwoman climate research - she blows things up!  I have also put together a string of fantastic Artcic climate change related videos here. Polar Videos.swf

March 31, 2009 More Quotes from Lord Stern - "Recklessness is the only word..."

From the Guardian, the UKs third largest daily, the Sunday edition of the Guardian is called the Observer and is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper. (March 30, 2009)

Lord Stern's background can be found here. The following quote references Lord Sterns report in October 2006:

"When it came out, people thought I'd over- egged the omelet. But all the things people were looking at turned out to be worse than they thought. Doing nothing looks even more reckless than it did even a few years ago."  (The Guardian article says) He pauses, as if uneasy with such an intemperate word, but keeps going. "Recklessness is the only word. I mean, we have to recognize the scale of the risk. If we go on at anything like business as usual, we'll be at concentration levels by the end of this century which will give us around a 50-50 chance of being above five degrees centigrade relative to, say, the 19th century. We humans are only 100,000 years old. We haven't seen that for 30 to 50 million years. We haven't seen three degrees centigrade for three million years. The idea that humans can easily adapt to conditions like these ..."

(The Guardian continues) He lets the proposition tail away, too foolish even for words. "What will we do? We'll move. People will move. Why? Because much of southern Europe will be desert. Other places will become underwater. Others will be hit by such severe storms with such frequency that they become almost uninhabitable. So hundreds of millions of people will move. You're already seeing people moving in Darfur, where droughts devastated the grazing land of pastoralist people, and they moved, and come into conflict with people in the places they're moving to. We're seeing that already on just a 0.8 degree rise. We're the first generation that has the power to destroy the planet. You're re-writing the planet. So you can only describe as reckless ignoring risks like that."

Sterns analysis is based on a simple idea. If the science is correct, the costs of mitigation would be a fraction of the cost of not preparing and reacting to the impacts. If the science is wrong, the new low carbon costs would be "very far from disastrous", and the world would be better off "because we will have a world that is more energy efficient, with new and cleaner technologies, and is more biodiverse as a result of protecting the forests". When Stern was asked if the science could be wrong the reply was "It's very, very remote," when asked if it would be less than one in 100 "Oh, much, much less."


Breaking News Archive March 29, 2009

Breaking News Archive December 11, 2008