Layzej writes "A new paper shows that global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. The reason is that the weather station network covers only about 85% of the planet. Satellite data shows that the parts of the Earth that are not covered by the surface station network, especially the arctic, have warmed exceptionally fast over the last 15 years. Most temperature reconstructions simply omit any region not covered. A temperature reconstruction developed by NASA somewhat addresses the gaps by filling in missing data using temperatures from the nearest available observations. Now Kevin Cowtan (University of York) and Robert Way (University of Ottawa) have developed a new method to fill the data gaps using satellite data.
The researchers describe their methods and findings in this youtube video. "The most important part of our work was testing the skill of each of these approaches in reconstructing unobserved temperatures. To do this we took the observed data and further reduced the coverage by setting aside some of the observations. We then reconstructed the global temperatures using each method in turn. Finally, we compared the reconstructed temperatures to the observed temperatures where they are available... While infilling works well over the oceans, the hybrid model works particularly well at restoring temperatures in the vicinity of the unobserved regions."
The authors note that "While short term trends are generally treated with a suitable level of caution by specialists in the field, they feature significantly in the public discourse on climate change.""
Layzej writes "A recent Slashdot story noted a 1981 paper that predicted a rise in global mean temperatures and turned out to be surprisingly accurate — if a bit conservative. The guardian reports on a new paper that explores the performance of a forecast published in 1999. The new study predicted that the decade ending in December 2012 would be a quarter of degree warmer than the decade ending in August 1996 – and this proved correct to within a few hundredths of a degree. Compared to the forecast, the early years of the new millennium were somewhat warmer than expected. More recently the temperature has matched the level forecasted very closely" This relative slowdown has caused some journalists to speculate that global warming may have stopped. This paper shows that this is not the case. The author of the paper, Myles Allen, notes: "Of course, we should expect fluctuations around the overall warming trend in global mean temperatures (and even more so in British weather!), but the success of these early forecasts suggests the basic understanding of human-induced climate change on which they were based is supported by subsequent observations.""Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "Last summer a paper investigating the link between conspiratorial thinking and the rejection of climate science provoked a response on blogs skeptical of the scientific consensus that appeared to illustrate the very cognitive processes at the center of the research. This generated data for a new paper titled "Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation" The researchers reviewed the reactions for evidence of conspirational thinking including the presumption of nefarious intent, perception of persecution, the tendency to detect meaning in random events, and the ability to interpret contrary evidence as evidence that the conspiracy is even greater in scope that was originally believed. Some of the hypotheses promoted to dismiss the findings of the original paper ultimately grew in scope to include actors beyond the authors, such as university executives, a media organization, and the Australian government. It is not clear whether the response to this paper will itself provide data for further research, or how far down this recursion could progress. I fear the answer may be "all the way""Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "Fox News reports: In 2012 many of the warnings scientists have made about global warming went from dry studies in scientific journals to real-life video played before our eyes. As 2012 began, winter in the U.S. went AWOL. Spring and summer arrived early with wildfires, blistering heat and drought. And fall hit the eastern third of the country with the ferocity of Superstorm Sandy. Globally, five countries this year set heat records, but none set cold records. 2012 is on track to be the warmest year on record in the United States. Worldwide, the average through November suggests it will be the eighth warmest since global record-keeping began in 1880 and will likely beat 2011 as the hottest La Nina year on record. America's heartland lurched from one extreme to the other without stopping at "normal." Historic flooding in 2011 gave way to devastating drought in 2012. But the most troubling climate development this year was the melting at the top of the world. Summer sea ice in the Arctic shrank to 18 percent below the previous record low.
These are "clearly not freak events," but "systemic changes," said climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute in Germany. "With all the extremes that, really, every year in the last 10 years have struck different parts of the globe, more and more people absolutely realize that climate change is here and already hitting us.""Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "A new report by reinsurance company Munich Re finds that North America has been most affected by weather-related extreme events in recent decades. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America. Anthropogenic climate change is believed to contribute to this trend, though it influences various perils in different ways. Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity. Even after adjusting for population spread and increased property values, Munich Re still says there were significant increases in the costs of weather disasters. At the same time non-climatic events (earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis) have hardly changed. Some have cautioned that thirty years is not an appropriate length of time for a climate analysis, however the findings are consistent with expectations set out in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as in the special report on weather extremes and disasters (SREX)."Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "New research to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found that that those who subscribed to one or more conspiracy theories or who strongly supported a free market economy were more likely to reject the findings from climate science as well as other sciences. The researchers, led by UWA School of Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, found that free-market ideology was an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the rejection of climate science. It also predicted the rejection of the link between tobacco and lung cancer and between HIV and AIDS. Conspiratorial thinking was a lesser but still significant determinant of the rejection of all scientific propositions examined, from climate to lung cancer. Curiously, public response to the paper has provided a perfect real-life illustration of the very cognitive processes at the center of the research."Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "Law professor Jonathan H. Adler writes that even if the contrarians are right, and global warming ends up on the lower end of the projections, it will still produce property rights violations — an idea that is antithetical to Libertarian philosophy. Critical of the current EPA regulations and of cap and trade legislation, Adler proposes four conservative approaches to combating climate change including technology inducement prizes, reducing procedural barriers to the development and deployment of alternative technologies, and adopting a revenue-neutral carbon tax. This last point is gaining traction among republican thought leaders who feel that we have a fundamentally backward system in the United States that imposes taxes on things people want more of: income and jobs. At the same time, the U.S. allows something we want less of — carbon dioxide pollution — to be emitted without penalty."Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "Prior to the International Polar Year 2012 conference in Montreal, Canadian government scientists were warned not to talk to the media without governmental supervision. The message sent to scientists was clear: Big Brother is watching you. This is one of several recent examples where the Canadian government attempted to intimidate scientists into not saying anything that might be considered “off-message”. But worrying about what might or might not be off-message is not the responsibility of a scientist. Scientists should only worry about being honest about their data and how to best communicate their findings. If those findings happen to go against government policy, that should never be a scientist’s problem."Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "The New York Times reports: "For decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong." Initially they claimed that weather stations exaggerated the warming trend. This was disproven by satellite data which shows a similar warming trend. Next solar activity was blamed for much of the warming. This looked like a promising theory until the 80's when solar output started to diverge from global temperatures. Now, climate contrarians are convinced that changes in cloud cover will largely mitigate the warming caused by increased CO2. The New York Times examines how even this last bastion for dissenters is crumbling. Over the past few years, Several papers have shown that rather than being a mitigating factor, changes in cloud cover due to warming may actually enhance further warming."Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "Last week a fellow at the Heartland Institute, a group now notorious for their plan to subvert public science education, gathered a coalition of 49 ex-NASA employees to sign a petition urging NASA to reconsider its position on climate change. For perspective, NASA currently employes over 18,000 people, and there are likely tens of thousands of ex-employees. In their letter the group requested that NASA refrain from publishing unproven remarks. Since no theory can ever be considered proven, this appears to be an attempt to silence discussion. NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati has since responded: "Our Earth science programs provide many unique space-based observations and research capabilities to the scientific community to inform investigations into climate change... After these studies have met the appropriate standards of scientific peer-review, we strongly encourage scientists to communicate these results to the public. If the authors of this letter disagree with specific scientific conclusions made public by NASA scientists, we encourage them to join the debate in the scientific literature or public forums rather than restrict any discourse.""
Layzej writes "The Register reports on a 30 year old paper published in Science in 1981 that projected global mean temperatures up to the year 2100. "When the 1981 paper was written, temperatures in the northern hemispheres were declining, and global mean temperatures were below their 1940 levels. Despite those facts, the paper's authors confidently predicted a rise in temperature due to increasing CO2 emissions." The prediction turns out to be remarkably accurate — even a bit optimistic. The article concludes that the 1981 paper is "a nice example of a statement based on theory that could be falsified and up to now has withstood the test.""Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill that allows teachers to "teach the controversy" on evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects. Critics have called it a "monkey bill" that promotes creationism in classrooms. In a statement sent to legislators, eight members of the National Academy of Science said that, in practice, the bill will likely lead to "scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution." and that "By undermining the teaching of evolution in Tennessee's public schools, HB368 and SB893 would miseducate students, harm the state's national reputation, and weaken its efforts to compete in a science-driven global economy,""Link to Original Source
Layzej writes ""IF VIRGINIA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) needs examples of official waste and abuse as he runs for governor, he could cite the harassment that he conducted against climate scientist Michael E. Mann, a costly episode of government overreach that is finally over.
The state’s highest court wrote in an opinion that Cuccinelli lacked the authority to subpoena records — including e-mails, drafts and handwritten notes — from the University of Virginia involving well-known climate scientist Michael Mann’s research. Now that the Supreme Court has shut Mr. Cuccinelli down, what’s left is a range of consequences that can only hurt the commonwealth. The university had to raise nearly $600,000 for legal fees — money the cash-strapped university should have been able to use for something productive. On top of that are the public resources of the attorney general’s office that Mr. Cuccinelli wasted. Scientists in Virginia now have reason to wonder whether they will suffer similar pressure if they publish research government officials don’t like."Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "Nina Fedoroff, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), recently confessed at an 8000 member strong meeting that she is scared to death "we are sliding back into a dark era." She stated that she is "profoundly depressed at just how difficult it has become merely to get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms." Her remarks are backed by a recently published Union of Concerned Scientists report, that chronicles the methods used by corporate businesses to harass individual scientists, ghost-write scientific articles to raise doubts about government research, and undermine the use of science to form government policy. Discover Magazine gives specific examples such as the Heartland Institute's recently revealed plan to subvert public science education, as well as the offer by the the American Enterprise Institute of $10,000 a pop to each scientists or economists who was willing to write op-eds or essays critiquing the IPCC climate report — before it was even published. The AAAS meeting was "set against a background of an entire intellectual discipline that realises that it, and its practitioners, are now under sustained attack.""Link to Original Source
Layzej writes "Scientist and journalist Peter Gleik has has admitted to leaking documents that reveal the internal strategies of the Heartland Institute.. In his statement he writes "At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute's climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute's apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.
Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else's name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues."
The Guardian writes "while acts of deception cannot be condoned, it is also important to note that the documents obtained by Gleick provide an insight into how some of those groups that are fundamentally opposed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases attempt to convey the impression that their arguments are founded on science rather than on ideology.""Link to Original Source