Saturday, October 3, 2009
- Chamber of Overstated Horrors
- Arts and Crafts go Green
- The American Enterprise Institute compares EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to Clint Eastwood and carbon polluters to criminals
- Great collection of Obama climate and clean energy quotes
Posted: 03 Oct 2009 06:03 AM PDT
So begins a great Boston Globe editorial, "Chamber of overstated horrors." These resignations really brought home the message of the Chamber's extremism to the broader media in a tangible way (see Chamber of Horrors: The incredible, shrinking industry group falsely claims "We've never questioned the science behind global warming").
The rest of editorial makes clear just how much the Chamber brought this on themselves with its Luddite call for "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" on global warming:
Posted: 03 Oct 2009 05:49 AM PDT
Durham, North Carolina-based The Scrap Exchange (above) is "a sustainable art supply store that takes unwanted materials and resells them as arts and crafts supplies," as explained in this CAP repost.
Is one person's trash really another's treasure? According to a Durham, North Carolina-based arts and crafts store it is.
The Scrap Exchange lets people explore their creativity while helping out the environment. The Scrap Exchange was founded in 1991 as a sustainable art supply store that takes unwanted materials from businesses and community members and resells them as arts and crafts supplies. Materials sell for 50 to 70 percent off their retail prices, and popular items include paper, fabric, office supplies, marble scraps, and CD cases. The idea is to promote environmental awareness and creativity by providing high-quality, low-cost materials for artists.
The Scrap Exchange also has an in-house art gallery to show off the local artists who turn recycled materials into crafts such as handmade bags, metal sculptures, and jewelry. Classes such as quilting and collage are available for people who may not have a natural creative streak. And the Scrap Exchange offers children's birthday parties that give kids a chance to create fun projects with their friends while teaching them about taking care of the planet.
The Resource Center in Chicago is another nonprofit organization that is encouraging creative re-use. Their Creative Reuse Warehouse finds rejects and by-products that local businesses treat as waste. The materials are donated to Chicago schools, service organizations, performance companies, and individual artists. It's a win-win situation for the CRW's donors and recipients—donors get a tax deduction, and recipients have materials to teach classes and present artwork that they may not have been able to afford otherwise.
Similar programs are available throughout the country. The Scroungers' Center for Reusable Art Parts has been in San Francisco since the 1970s, and it offers unique workshops where participants learn about different crafts and art techniques. And Creative Reuse Pittsburgh, a newcomer to creative re-use, collects reusable discards from businesses and other organizations in its region, offers hands-on creative arts programs, and hosts booths at local arts festivals.
A day at any creative re-use center might be a great way to become re-acquainted with the right side of your brain without the guilt of waste. Participating in the arts isn't just fun—it's beneficial. Art has been linked to developing critical thinking skills, persistence, and lightheartedness. Add that to the environmental benefits of places like The Scrap Exchange, and the lure of creative re-use centers is almost irresistible.
Posted: 02 Oct 2009 10:41 AM PDT
In a bizarre pop-culture flip-flop, Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute has compared the mild-mannered EPA administrator to Dirty Harry:
Let me get this straight, the right-wing is now saying it's bad to be like Clint, the quintessential tough guy hero lionized by conservatives because he'll do whatever is needed to save human life? That means Green is directly equating U.S. industry with the psychopathic serial killer and criminals that Clint fights in the iconic 1971 movie.
Well, logic was never a priority of Denier-Industrial-Complex Kooks (DICKs) like Green, who regularly spouts nonsense like, "We're back to the average temperatures that prevailed in 1978…. No matter what you've been told, the technology to significantly reduce emissions is decades away and extremely costly" — from a 2008 speech AEI later removed from their website (excerpts here).
In fact, Green's analogy makes no sense whatsoever since Jackson is simply obeying the command of the highest court in the land to regulate carbon pollution (see here). Green entirely omits the fact that in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases were pollutants and that the EPA would have to regulate them if they were found to endanger public health and welfare.
So the only part of the analogy that makes sense is that deniers and delayers like Green oppose the rule of law — while Jackson is trying to enforce it.
Ironically, in its zealous quest to kill climate action, AEI has done another flip-flop. Jackson proposes to start regulating only "large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year." Jackson explained, "This is a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources – those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources." She told the Governors Climate Summit in Los Angeles, "we can begin reducing emissions from the nation's largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy," adding, "The corner coffee shop is not a meaningful place to look for carbon reductions."
But Green doesn't believe in common sense — he urges big polluters to sue to make sure small businesses and farmers are regulated also:
Note that for Green and the American Enterprise Institute, obeying the Supreme Court is "insanity." You don't have to be Dirty Harry to realize which side of the law he is on.
Fundamentally, Green wants to use the legal system to pervert the process. And this scorched earth strategy is one the big polluters are threatening, too. I'll end this post with an analysis — "It's Hard To Hide An Oil Refinery Behind a Donut Shop" — from David Doniger, Policy Director at NRDC's Climate Center, and former "director of climate change policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and, before that, counsel to the head of the EPA's clean air program":
Well, the Chamber's call for a 'Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century' worked out so well for them (see "Nike runs fast and loud from the incredible, shrinking U.S. Chamber Board over its global warming denial"), that if they want to pursue this lawsuit, which I suspect will be equally popular with their members, I say, "Go ahead, make my day!"
Posted: 02 Oct 2009 10:30 AM PDT
For the source of this video — and for youth action — go here.
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- Energy and Global Warming News for October 2nd: Experts see Arctic warming decades faster than models predict; A plan to save rainforests gains international momentum
- Misleading 'energy sprawl' study pollutes climate debate. In fact, clean energy protects our land while dirty energy destroys it.
- Exclusive interview with Dr. Mojib Latif, the man who confused the NY Times and New Scientist, the man who moved George Will and math-challenged Morano to extreme disinformation
- A climate wish list on China's 60th birthday
- Memo to George Will, WashPost: When you quote someone who is wrong, even if it is the NYT's Andy Revkin, then you're wrong, too
Posted: 02 Oct 2009 10:27 AM PDT
Senate Democrats will initially devote 70 percent of the pollution allowances in their new climate measure to making it easier for people to pay their energy bills, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer said in an interview to be aired Sunday on C-SPAN.
Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced legislation this week with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) aimed at limiting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. It would force any facility emitting at least 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year to obtain pollution permits. The bill does not indicate how these pollution allowances would be allocated, but Boxer said on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program that Democrats are prepared to give away allowances to make carbon-intensive commodities such as electricity more affordable.
"The vast majority of allowances will go to consumers to keep them whole," Boxer said.
An aide to the senator said the panel was still working on the precise language of the bill, so it was too early to say whether all of those allowances would be given away free. It probably will be modeled on the House-passed bill, which aids consumers by providing free allowances to local electricity distribution companies as well as low income consumer rebates and tax credits and other measures.
Boxer also acknowledged that the climate bill does not have enough votes to pass right now in the Senate, adding that she will work to change that. "We're gaining ground, but at this point I can't count to 60," she said. "But you just do your job and move forward."
To win votes, Kerry and Boxer have said they are willing to make compromises, and Boxer reiterated that in her interview, suggesting that the current target of reducing U.S. greenhouse gases 20 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels could change.
"I can't predict the end game," she said, adding that she is confident her panel will produce an ambitious bill but that it might change as it moves through the Senate. "This is the environment committee, not the pollution committee. . . . This should be the high-water mark."
A freak tornado and floods last month may be a harbinger of a troubled future for Brazilian farmers, who worry that climate change could severely disrupt production in one of the world's breadbaskets.
Rising temperatures, a shift in seasons, and extreme weather in coming decades are likely to cut output in some areas and wipe out crops entirely in others, experts say.
"Brazil is vulnerable. If we don't do anything, food production is at risk," says Eduardo Assad, an agronomist at the government's agriculture research institute, Embrapa.
At stake is a $250 billion farm industry, food for millions of poor and supplies to world markets of Brazil's major export crops such as soybeans and coffee.
Brazil is seeking a leadership role in global climate talks and says it will adopt targets on greenhouse gas emissions, after agreeing last year to slash Amazon deforestation in half. But it has been slow to research climate change, its impact and how Brazilian agriculture can adapt to the changes.
In the poor northeast region, sparse rains will diminish further and temperatures will rise by 3-4 degrees Celsius (5.4-7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050, compared to a 2 degree Celsius national and global average rise, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Studies (INPE).
Higher temperatures threaten to wipe out staple foods, such as cassava, for millions of people in the region.
"The northeast will lose one-third of its economy if we do nothing," Environment Minister Carlos Minc told Reuters.
Big export crops are also likely to suffer, according to a study by Assad and Hilton Silveira Pinto, an agronomist at the University of Campinas in Sao Paulo state.
The report, completed in May, says by 2020 soy output will fall by 20 percent and coffee by 10 percent.
Brazil is the leading exporter of coffee, beef, soybeans, orange juice, and other farm products. Only one cash crop stands to gain: warmer temperatures will double the area suitable for sugar cane as early as 2020, Pinto and Assad say.
The U.S. solar energy industry hopes to persuade Customs officials to reverse a decision to impose a 2.5 percent tariff on solar panel imports after more than two decades of duty-free trade in the product, an industry official said on Thursday.
"We're taking it very seriously and we will be responding. … The industry is in the process of preparing a challenge," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, whose members include both U.S. and foreign solar energy companies.
In the worst case scenario, U.S. importers of solar panels could face some $70 million in tariffs and penalties for product already imported this year.
The tariff comes at a time when concern about global climate change has prompted the United States and the European Union to push for deal with other leading developed countries and China to eliminate duties on environmental goods.
As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, the U.S. Custom service ruled in January a panel made by Trina Solar of China was a generator because it contains a diode that allows electric current to pass around shaded areas of the panel.
That ruling was a surprise because "all solar panels contain bypass diodes and have forever. It's a safety issue not to have them," one industry official said.
Although the ruling only applies to the Trina panel, it has implications for other manufacturers, he said.
The industry hopes it can persuade officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Washington to overturn the ruling made by the New York office..
Posted: 02 Oct 2009 05:31 AM PDT
A massive shift to clean energy is needed to stop one third of the planet's habited land from turning into a permanent Dust bowl and to stop several meters of sea level rise (see "Hell and High Water"). And unrestricted fossil energy use is "capable of wrecking the marine ecosystem and depriving future generations of the harvest of the seas" and, at the same time, it is expected to sharply increase Western wildfire burn area — as much as 175% by the 2050s.
But that doesn't stop really bad analysis from suggesting dirty energy somehow protects our land better for than clean energy, with wind supposedly 8 times as destructive as coal! In fact, modern wind turbines are so tall that they take up very, very little land — allowing virtually all of the surrounding land to be used for other purposes, including farming.
Guest debunker Dr. Matthew Wasson, Director of Programs for Appalachian Voices, notes "the habitat impact of the Mount Storm Wind Farm in the first image [below left] is assumed to be 25% greater than the impact of the 12,000 acre Hobet mountaintop removal mine in the second image (images are taken from the same altitude and perspective; the bright connect-the-dots feature in the windfarm image is the actual area disturbed)":
"Renewable Energy Needs Land, Lots Of Land" was the headline of an August 28th story on NPR about the study.
"Renewable technologies increase energy sprawl," was the headline summary on the journal Nature's website.
[Anti-climate action] Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, in an Op/Ed published in the Wall Street Journal, summed up the message that was heard by legislators and the public from the news coverage of the study:
The interesting thing about the news coverage is that none of it addressed the actual analysis. The study didn't actually measure the impacts of different energy technologies, but rather compiled estimates from a smattering of reports, fact sheets and brochures from government and industry sources in order to arrive at an acre-per-unit of energy figure for each energy technology. Those figures were then applied to the Energy Information Administration's modeling of four climate policy scenarios under consideration by Congress.
So the coverage was generated not by the study's results, but entirely by the assumptions that went into it about the relative impacts of renewable versus conventional energy technologies. Looking at the counter-intuitive findings (wind is 8 times as destructive as coal), it's no wonder that the media took such an interest.
To put those assumptions in perspective, the habitat impact of the Mount Storm Wind Farm in the first image is assumed to be 25% greater than the impact of the 12,000 acre Hobet mountaintop removal mine in the second image (images are taken from the same altitude and perspective; the bright connect-the-dots feature in the windfarm image is the actual area disturbed) — [see figures above].
"Garbage in, garbage out" is a concept most people are familiar with, but the problems with the "energy sprawl" study go farther than that.
When I taught a course in ecological modeling, we used a hypothetical study on acts of violence in industrialized countries to examine how you could generate any result you desire simply by choosing how to define an "act of violence." For instance, if you wanted to show that the French are the most violent industrialized society, you might define rude treatment by waiters as an act of violence. The study does something very similar, but worse – it fails to define a consistent measure of land-use impact across the various energy technologies it purports to compare. It's as though we defined "acts of violence" to include rude treatment only by French waiters, but not by German, English or American waiters.
While I won't get into detail of the math and science (a full analysis and response is in preparation), here are just a few of the jaw-dropping errors and assumptions that went into the study:
It's obvious that the authors of this study don't spend a lot of time thinking about coal mining (the fact that they refer to underground or deep mines as "pit" mines is revealing). That could partly explain the distorted picture the study gives of the impacts of coal mining, but the assumptions are so consistently weighted against renewable energy that it gets hard to ignore. If the pattern of assumptions so consistently tilted against renewables and in favor of coal and nuclear doesn't raise a red flag, consider the language used in the study. The EIA's "No International Offsets/Limited Alternatives" scenario, which would emphasize rapid expansion of renewable energy technologies (and which purportedly creates the most "energy sprawl"), was renamed the "Few Options" scenario by the authors. A real gem of a PR strategy from the group that came up with "energy sprawl."
As for the policy options that the study's results (and assumptions) favor, the "Core" scenario from the EIA's analysis of the Warner-Lieberman climate bill was renamed the "CCS" scenario – shorthand for carbon capture and storage. This could also represent a real tipping of the hand as to the policy priorities at the Nature Conservancy. That, in turn, would go a long way toward explaining the blind spot the Nature Conservancy possesses regarding the wholesale destruction of the most biologically diverse forests and streams on the continent through mountaintop removal coal mining. The fact that plants installing CCS will need to consume at least 15-30% more coal to produce the same amount of electricity (if and when CCS becomes available), would cause a little cognitive dissonance in anyone concerned about the environment but supportive of widespread CCS deployment.
What the study didn't look at
From the perspective of communities impacted by coal mining, a study on energy impacts that looked no further than the land area affected by mining was never going to carry much weight anyway. EPA biologist Gregory Pond, who published a study in 2008 showing the loss of entire orders of insects downstream from mountaintop removal mines, told the news media when the study was released:
The most important factors in the "what the study doesn't look at" category, however, are the impacts of energy on people and communities. The thousands of people in Appalachia without access to clean and safe drinking water do not show up in the "energy sprawl" study's land impact estimates. The photo on the right of a child in Prenter, West Virginia, is the lead photo of a remarkable piece of reporting from the New York Times that provides a lot of insight into the awful tragedies faced daily by families in Appalachia who are forced to drink and bathe in water polluted with coal waste.
The authors of the "energy sprawl" study stated explicitly that aquatic and health issues are not what the study was about, and it wouldn't be fair to blame them for any failure to address those problems. It's the inevitable distortions of the study that do the most violence to those fighting for safe homes and clean drinking water in coal and uranium-bearing regions. The lead author addressed some of those distortions directly, shortly after Senator Alexander's "We're destroying the environment in the name of saving it" op-ed. Here are a few excerpts from his post on the Nature Conservancy's blog:
The Nature Conservancy's tireless efforts to support energy efficiency, build awareness of climate change, and bring climate policy to the table deserve both thanks and respect. But the concept of "energy sprawl," now that it has been associated with such a distorted picture of the impacts of wind, solar, coal and nuclear technologies, adds nothing but confusion and false impressions to the debate over climate.
The study also does a lot of harm to those working to reduce the impacts of mining and to promote green jobs in their communities. "Nature Conservancy says wind and solar are more harmful than coal" is a talking point that will be repeated in mine permit hearings, utilities commission proceedings, letters to the editor and at coal rallies across the country for years into the future.
There is no way to repair the concept of "energy sprawl" at this point. Environmental and climate advocates would do well to strike that buzzword from their lexicons and literature entirely.
Burn this blog post after reading.
cross-posted with iLoveMounains.org
Posted: 01 Oct 2009 05:19 PM PDT
Memo to media and deniers: If your "global cooling" piece revolves around Dr. Latif, you probably have the entire story backwards. But, at least for deniers, that is the goal.
In an interview today, Dr. Latif told me "we don't trust our forecast beyond 2015″ and "it is just as likely you'll see accelerated warming" after then. Indeed, in his published research, rapid warming is all-but-inevitable over the next two decades. He told me, "you can't miss the long-term warming trend" in the temperature record, which is "driven by the evolution of greenhouse gases." Finally, he pointed out "Our work does not allow one to make any inferences about global warming."
Latif's work can be baffling, but I mostly deciphered it on this blog in 2008 (see "Nature article on 'cooling' confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming"). Latif's Nature study is consistent with the following statements:
Here is his Nature "forecast" in green ("Each point represents a ten-year centred mean" — more discussion at the end):
Now, with the caveat that Latif claims no "skill" in any forecast after 2015 — a caveat the media and deniers never print — as you can see, their model suggests we'll see pretty damn rapid warming in the coming decade, just as the Hadley Center did in a 2007 Science piece and just as the US Naval Research Lab and NASA recently predicted (see "Another major study predicts rapid warming over next few years — nearly 0.3°F by 2014").
How badly have the media [and deniers] botched this reporting unintentionally [and intentionally]? Let's see:
Three mistakes in one New Scientist headline from last month — a record, I suspect. The headline would have been more accurate if it said, "World poised to see accelerated warming in the coming decade."
Then we have these multiply-misleading statements:
Those quotes from Revkin's recent piece are not what Latif's paper posited. Revkin's entire thesis is wrong, as I showed here. Global temperatures have been rising measurably for decades. My extended interview with Latif makes clear just how inappropriate it is to use his work to make the case we are headed into a decade or more of being "relatively cool." At the very least, we are going to stay relatively hot. But you could just as easily — and more accurately — use his work to make the case that we are headed into a decade or more of rapid warming. He models only "internal fluctuations" around the overall anthropogenic warming trend, so if warming seems to stall for a few years, it must catch up to the long-term trend, sometimes quite rapidly.
[And I just noticed Revkin's use of the word "linked." C'mon, status quo media! That would be like saying South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was "linked" to an Argentinian woman. They had a torrid affair, and heat-trapping gases cause global warming. That's why they're called "heat trapping gases"! But I digress.]
George Will quoted Revkin's error-riddled piece and then compounded the mistakes with a few outright falsehoods:
No, Latif does not "anticipate" maybe even two decades of cooling. He doesn't even predict it. Again, as Latif will happily tell anyone who asks, "my only forecast is to 2015."
The non-existent fact-checkers of the Washington Post could not even be bothered to click on the link they inserted, which doesn't even contain the phrase "maybe even two"! Will just made up the quote. And the link is to an editorial of Investors Business Daily [IBD] which is roughly equivalent to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal as a source for climate facts.
And then we have the outright lies of the Swift boat smearer. In his never ending quest to destroy both a livable climate and the English language, the uber-disinformer and self-acknoweldged performance artist Marc Morano actually wrote:
So now Latif is "predicting global cooling for several decades" although the link to that assertion goes to Morano's own screamingly inaccurate headline:
For Marc not-a-mathlete Morano, "one or even 2″ is the equivalent of "several." For Morano, even basic math and simple word choice is twisted beyond the bounds of reason. No doubt in the next version of the children's game of Telephone that Morano plays with himself, he'll claim that Latif is predicting a century of cooling.
But Morano's false headline — and Will's false statement — all derive from the link Morano provides to … yes, another New Scientist story — the origin of a lot of this confused Latif nonsense, which begins:
How is it possible that a scientist who says that he doesn't have faith in the skill or accuracy of his projections after 2015 can constantly be quoted as predicting the future over the next one or even two decades? Two reasons.
First, as "The Way Things Break" explained at length, "This was not an explicit prediction by Latif — it was a hypothetical scenario that is a real, if not necessarily likely, possibility."
Hypothetically, it could happen — hypothetically, monkeys could fly out of my butt — but Latif was most certainly not predicting it.
How do I know? I asked him, something that has gone out of fashion.
Again, Latif simply doesn't make predictions beyond 2015. As he told me, his model has "no skill" after that, which is to say it has no accuracy, and so "my only forecast is to 2015." Indeed, he told me "I can't really predict two decades in the future."
Their model has nothing whatsoever to do with anthropogenic global warming, and so it has no bearing whatsoever on the long-term temperature trend. They do model internal ocean-driven fluctuations around that trend, but if the temperature rise stalls for any length of time, the major impact is that subsequently, the temperature rise accelerates.
Second, there is another source of confusion. Let's look in more detail at the paper's key figure, the one that looks at past and (forecast) future global temperatures, "Hindcast/forecast decadal variations in global mean temperature, as compared with observations and standard climate model projections" (click to enlarge)
Let me once again try to explain this complicated figure.
The first thing to know about the figure — indeed, one major source of confusion — is that "each point represents a ten-year centred mean." That is, each point represents the average temperature of the decade starting 5 years before that point and ending 5 years after that point.
Second, the red line is the actual global temperature data from the UK's Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research. Why does the red line stop in 1998 and not 2007? Again, it is a running 10-year mean, and the authors use data from a Hadley paper that ends around 2003 (I believe), so they can't do a ten-year centered mean after 1998.
Third, the black line is one of the IPCC scenarios, A1B. It is a relatively high-CO2-growth model — but actual carbon emissions since 2000 have wildly outpaced it (see here).
Fourth, the solid green line is the "hindcast" of the authors — how well their model compares to actual data (and the A1B scenario). It is then extended (in dashes) through 2010 and finally to 2025, where it meets up with A1B, since their model only imposes decadal variability on the inexorable climb of human-caused global warming.
[Fifth, the short purple line is with radiative forcing (i.e greenhouse gas concentrations) frozen at 2000 levels, which, of course, didn't happen.]
So you can clearly see that the green line rises and then plateaus, repeatedly, until it really starts to take off in the decade of the 2010s. Perhaps the source of much of the media's confusion is that the authors describe their results in the final line of the abstract this way:
But what they mean by that statement is not what a simple reading of that sentence would suggest: They do not mean that "the global surface temperature may not increase over the next ten years starting now." What they mean is what the lead author, Dr. Noel Keenlyside, wrote me [in 2008] when I asked for a clarification:
They are predicting no increase in average temperature of the "next decade" (2005 to 2015) over the previous decade, which, for them, is 2000 to 2010! And that's in fact precisely what the figure shows — that the 10-year mean global temperature centered around 2010 is the roughly the same as the mean global temperature centered around 2005.
The authors have not predicted the next 10 years won't see any warming. They have, however, offered an explanation for why temperatures have not risen very much in recent years, and, perhaps, why ocean temperatures have also not risen very much in the past few years (see here). Dr. Keenlyside continues:
Again, at that point, Dr. Keenlyside reiterates the disclaimer that this analysis can't be used for year-by year predictions. Indeed, he notes that his main conclusion is not really quantitative, but qualitative:
I would add two points. First, as you can clearly see in the figure — the actual observed runnning average temperatures from the Hadley Center since 1995 have been between the IPCC scenario projection and Dr. Keenlyside's forecast, which does suggest that his model may be underestimating warming. Indeed, the lack of agreement between the model's "hindcast" and actual temperatures since 1995 should remind us again to view this only as a very preliminary analysis with predictive ability that is much more qualitative than quantitative.
Second, this general prediction — internal variability leading to slower than expected warming in recent years through 2010, followed by accelerated warming — is almost exactly the same prediction that the Hadley Center made last summer in Science (see here). They concluded:
Similarly, the US Naval Research Lab and NASA just predicted in a new Geophysical Research Letters study (see "here"):
So I take all three of these admittedly preliminary short-term forecasts to suggest that warming is going to be a roller coaster ride, with much short-term variation, but we are probably going to get quite hot quite fast early in the 2010s.
One final caveat: After reading my first draft of the 2008 post (which I subsequently revised), Dr. Keenlyside wrote me, "All our figures are decadal means, and it is hard to say (due to high frequency internal variability) at which point [after 2010] a rapid increase will occur." That is, his study does not necessarily predict the rapid warming will actually start, in say, 2011, though his results are not inconsistent with that possibility. He reiterates that his paper is not designed to make such detailed year-by-year predictions. Indeed, the paper was designed to show that any such predictions are complicated by decadal-scale climate factors.
So I think it is quite safe to say that:
Latif told me that at the request of the NYT, he submitted an op-ed to clarify his work. That will clear things up once and for all. Or not.
As a great sage once said, "Anyone who isn't confused here doesn't really know what's going on."
UPDATE: More from Deep Climate: anatomy-of-a-lie-how-morano-and-gunter-spun-latif-out-of-control and here.
Posted: 01 Oct 2009 01:47 PM PDT
Today's guest reposting is by CAP's Julian L. Wong author of "Peaking Duck: Beijing's Growing Appetite for Climate Action." In the photo, Chinese workers prepare decorations ahead of the 60th National Day celebrations in Beijing, China.
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. The first 30-year phase was one of revolution, marked by one bloody internal purge after another, but the next 30-year phase was one of pragmatism, which underpinned economic and social reform leading to unrivaled rates of economic growth.
China now finds itself at a crossroads. As the country struggles to come to terms with its imminent status as a global superpower, it is staring in the face of vast, systemic resource challenges. China faces a triple threat to its energy, water, and food security, and there is one common thread: climate change.
In the case of energy, an overexploitation of coal—and increasingly oil—to fuel its economic expansion is the root cause of rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions. The resulting change in climate is in turn altering precipitation patterns, leading to flash floods in some areas but exacerbating droughts in large parts of others, an urgent predicament for a many land-locked regions that are already water-scarce. Such water scarcity, together with noxious acid rain caused by fossil fuel combustions, will in turn choke off agricultural productivity, threatening future food supplies.
This food-water-energy "trilemma" will threaten physical security and disrupt economic and social stability, which is the very foundation of the China Communist Party's authority. Beijing fully grasps these implications and has turned its stance from one of climate denier to that of an emerging frontrunner in climate action in just a few years. Few noticed in 2007 when President Hu Jintao espoused the goal of creating an "ecological civilization" that strikes harmony between man and nature. It would be easy to chalk this up as just another example of the central government's colorful slogans. Yet, action has followed rhetoric.
China has embarked on some of the world's most aggressive energy efficiency, renewable energy development and reforestation programs through its landmark National Climate Change Program of 2007. Over the five-year period ending 2010, it plans to reduce its energy consumption per unit of its gross domestic product by 20 percent, obtain 10 percent of its primary energy from non-fossil fuel sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower, and bulk up its carbon sinks by increasing forest cover to 20 percent.
What's more, President Hu has just announced intentions for China to reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP from 2005 levels by a "notable margin" by 2020. Recognizing the strategic job-creating opportunities of innovating, manufacturing, deploying and disseminating the clean-energy technologies of the future, President Hu also pledged to transform China into a "green economy, low-carbon economy and circular economy."
China's tide of Western-style development will still be difficult to stem. When I visited Beijing earlier this month with a delegation from the Center for American Progress, both State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua of the National Reform and Development Commission assured us that China would not take the traditional energy-intensive development path. Yet even with its lofty green goals, it is difficult to imagine how it has not already.
China is already the world's biggest market for building construction and automobile sales.. This situation is unlikely to change. China is witnessing the largest scale of human migration in the history of civilization, with 350 million rural residents moving to the city by 2030. And this urbanization is coming with a shift in emphasis from exports to domestic consumption as an engine of future economic growth.
China will have to take at least three major steps to truly develop a green, low-carbon and circular economy:
1. Show bold, visionary leadership to set China on a long-term path to reduce absolute emissions, not just emissions per unit of GDP.
China believes that the West needs to take the lead to solve the problem that it created when it comes to climate change and emissions reductions. This position is understandable, but China must acknowledge that in reality it cannot wait for others to look out for what is in its own interests. World leaders continue to work out the complex structures for international climate financing and technology transfer, while the science urgently requires a collective reduction in emissions as soon as possible. If China is serious about its July commitment to limit global temperature rise to 2°C, it has to follow up on recent indications of willingness to act by accordingly fixing a future date and level at which its carbon emissions peak and subsequently decline.
2. Develop tools to help the country achieve this bold new vision.
China needs to continue to strengthen its accountability mechanisms and create channels for increased information flow to ensure that its national plans are implemented locally. The government can meaningfully engage and mobilize civil society groups as partners, rather than treat them as annoyances, to facilitate the measurable, reportable, and verifiable implementation of government actions. Such partnerships might include crafting purposeful campaigns targeted at the business community and citizens to educate them about the comprehensive benefits of creating a clean energy economy. The central government has already demonstrated progress in these areas by, for instance, increasing penalties for false statistical reporting and enacting a law on open government information, but it can do more.
3. Collaborate with the international community in a comprehensive manner.
Cooperation with the international community should not focus merely on joint research, development, and deployment on important carbon abatement technologies. China and the United States, for instance, can enhance trading relationships and unlock vast, lucrative markets for technology commercialization in both countries by coordinating on reducing barriers to market access, such as high tariffs on clean-energy technologies and restrictive foreign investment policies. Jointly building capacity for real-time emissions, monitoring and reporting, and enhancing efforts in energy modeling and simulation can greatly inform energy and climate policymakers. Climate collaboration opportunities exist even on the military-to-military level—coordination in disaster relief activities and in addressing other non-traditional security threats posed by climate change can yield mutually beneficial learning and capacity-building results.
Addressing climate change will be the fundamental challenge for China over its next 60 years. It will give China an opportunity to combine central elements of its historical development—a new low-carbon vision that is revolutionary in its transformation, but also pragmatic in its approach to enable a real and measurable low-carbon reform. The best birthday gift the international community can give to China is to walk with it hand-in-hand down this low-carbon path through the adoption of robust domestic climate measures and by forging ahead to build consensus on a sound global climate deal at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen and beyond.
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This article was originally published in China Dialogue.
Posted: 01 Oct 2009 10:57 AM PDT
The reason why big league journalists have to try much harder than they have been to get the climate story right is that when they get it wrong, it opens the door for the deniers to quote them and glom on to their (supposed) higher credibility, dragging the journalists down to their level in the process.
The latest media version of the children's game Telephone is uber-denier George Will quoting Andy Revkin. I and others thoroughly debunked the latest piece of misanalysis from the one-time paper of record — NYT's Revkin pushes global cooling myth (again!) and repeats outright misinformation. In particular, I showed that Revkin's primary source, the UK's Met Office found "the past 10 years has seen only a 0.07°C increase in global average temperature" — a 0.13°F increase — more than 10 times the rate of warming Revkin asserted in the original version of his piece and around which he based almost his entire argument that temperatures had plateaued.
In fact, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which I have argued is a better temperature record, finds a 0.19°C (0.34°F) warming over the past decade (see Deep Climate for details). Indeed, the GISS data shows that the 2000s, easily the hottest decade in recorded history by far, warmed much faster than the 1990s (which had been the hottest decade in recorded history).
That is not a plateau — and it certainly isn't cooling. Temperatures are, if anything, accelerating — but not in a monotonic fashion. The facts, however, have never gotten in the way of George Will and the fact-checkers fib-approvers of the Washington Post (see "Memo to Post: If George Will quotes a lie, it's still a lie" and "The Post, abandoning any journalistic standards, lets George Will publish a third time global warming lies debunked on its own pages"), who published yet another mistake-riddled, disinformation-pushing piece, "Cooling Down the Cassandras," which opens by quoting the erroneous NYT headline and lede:
As one of my physics professors at MIT used to say of such nonsense, "Precise, but inaccurate."
I am not going to debunk this again, although I am going to return to this cooling nonsense later today. I wrote above that Revkin "based his entire argument that temperatures had plateaued" around the original misquoting of the Met Office. Revkin did rely on one other source, Mojib Latif, a scientist that Will also quotes — and misquotes. I interviewed Dr. Latif today, and he confirmed my interpretation of his work — and made some very strong statements about the misuse of his findings — which is to say that Revkin didn't get it right and Will got it very, very wrong.
For now let me note two other inanities in Will's piece:
Yes, the new delayer two-step, dancing straight from denying the problem to saying it can't be solved.
I wonder what the per capita use of slide rules is today — probably well below 1910 levels. And what is the average U.S. household's horse ownership per capita? I'm guessing that would be pre-Columbian levels.
In fact, the United States is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 levels either proactively starting with the passage of a climate bill in the next several months or desperately starting some time after that.
This is the same as the luddite U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeking "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" on global warming — except Will is smart enough not to ape the Chamber by bringing up Scopes.
In fact, back in 2001, Bush tried this commission trick as a delaying tactic. He asked for a report by the National Research Council (NRC), which reported:
Now it's eight years later, and the evidence is even stronger. As the Union of Concerned Scientists writes today:
Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase. The amount and rate of future climate change depend primarily on current and future human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases and airborne particles.
But Will only reads the New York Times, not actual scientific reports — and that is not much better than playing the children's game of Telephone.
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