Layzej writes: It is easy for a non-expert to be swayed by a credible sounding narrative that claims to overthrow a scientific consensus. For a scientist it is generally clear which arguments are valid, but the general public can’t independently evaluate scientific evidence. Scientist Victor Venema provides answers to a number of concerns about climate science raised by cartoonist Scott Adams. His answers are accessible and illuminating, and hopefully helpful to the non-expert who would like to understand the truth behind certain contrarian talking points.
Layzej writes: An interview with Jestin Coler, CEO of a company called Disinfomedia, exposes the genesis of a fake news company. NPR reports: During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. "It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they're about to get served," Coler says.
At any given time, Coler says, he has between 20 and 25 writers. And it was one of them who wrote the story in the Denver Guardian that an FBI agent who leaked Clinton emails was killed. Coler says that over 10 days the site got 1.6 million views.
"The people wanted to hear this," he says. "So all it took was to write that story. Everything about it was fictional: the town, the people, the sheriff, the FBI guy. And then... our social media guys kind of go out and do a little dropping it throughout Trump groups and Trump forums and boy it spread like wildfire."
And as the stories spread, Coler makes money from the ads on his websites. He wouldn't give exact figures, but he says stories about other fake-news proprietors making between $10,000 and $30,000 a month apply to him.
Layzej writes: Science strives for coherence. For example, the findings from climate science form a highly coherent body of knowledge that is supported by many independent lines of evidence. Those who reject climate science often rely on several mutually contradictory ideas. Hence, claims that the globe “is cooling” can coexist with claims that the “observed warming is natural” and that “the human influence does not matter because warming is good for us.” A recent study examines this behavior at the aggregate level, but gives many examples where contradictory ideas are held by the same individual, and sometimes are presented within a single publication.
The common denominator among contrarian positions is the conviction that climate change either does not exist or is not human caused, and that either way it does not present a risk (or if it does, then adaptation will deal with the problem). In a nutshell, the opposition to GHG emission cuts is the unifying and coherent position underlying all manifestations of climate science denial. Climate science denial is therefore perhaps best understood as a rational activity that replaces a coherent body of science with an incoherent and conspiracist body of pseudo-science for political reasons and with considerable political coherence and effectiveness.
The winner of the bet, economist Chris Hope, also discussed the possibility of implementing climate betting markets, and noted: "they could offer a financial incentive for people who disagree about the likelihood of climate change to carefully assess the risks, instead of just shouting their disagreement across the void. If we do nothing, all the signs are that dangerous climate change is one of the safest bets around."
Layzej writes: Our planet’s pre-industrial climate may have been cloudier than presently thought, shows CERN’s CLOUD experiment in two papers published today in Nature. CLOUD shows that organic vapours emitted by trees produce lots of aerosol particles in the atmosphere when there’s no sulphuric acid – a main product of burning fossil fuels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) considers that the increase in aerosols and clouds since pre-industrial times represents one of the largest sources of uncertainty in climate change. The CLOUD experiment is designed to better understand such processes. CLOUD has also found that ions from galactic cosmic rays strongly enhance the production rate of pure biogenic particles – by a factor 10-100 compared with particles without ions. This suggests that cosmic rays may have played a more important role in aerosol and cloud formation in pre-industrial times than in today’s polluted atmosphere.
Layzej writes: Arctic sea ice was at a record low maximum extent for the second straight year, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA. This year’s maximum extent is 1.12 million square kilometers below the 1981 to 2010 average of 15.64 million square kilometers. Ice extent increases through autumn and winter, and the maximum typically occurs in mid March. Sea ice then retreats through spring and summer and shrinks to its smallest or minimum extent typically by mid September.
Reuters reports that British climate expert Chris Hope just won a 2,000 pound sterling ($2,830) wager made five years ago against two members of the Global Warming Policy Foundation who had bet Hope that the Earth would be cooling by now. They also highlight a $10,000 bet made in 2005 between British climate modeller James Annan and two Russian solar physicists. The solar physicists had counted on waning solar output to halt warming. Annan will win if average global temperatures from 2013-17 are warmer than 2003-07. "Things are looking good for my bet," Annan said.
Layzej writes: A colossal amount of man-made heat has been sucked up by the world's oceans in the past 18 years, and the rate at which that happens has been accelerating. The world's oceans absorbed approximately 150 zettajoules of energy in the 132 years between 1865 and 1997, and then another 150 in the next 18 years, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Layzej writes: With only a few stations left to report, 2015 is virtually certain to beat 2014's record as the planet's warmest year since record keeping began in 1880. The new record was caused by the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, combined with a extra bump in temperature due to the strongest El Niño event ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific. Record warm ocean temperatures in the tropics in 2015 led to a global coral bleaching event, which is expected to cause a loss of 10 — 20% of all coral worldwide. Weather Underground recounts several other records that accompanied the heat including the most intense hurricane ever observed in the Western Hemisphere, the ongoing agricultural fires in Indonesia — the most expensive disaster in Indonesia's history estimated at $16 billion in damages, flooding in America and India, and record central pacific hurricane activity.