- Good news
- Denier Watch
- Arctic melt
- Senator Ko-Ko
‘gas 2.0′ announced “America’s Love Affair With Cars is Ending” which is a short description of a new report out of the Brookings Institute “The Road…Less Traveled: An Analysis of Vehicle Miles Traveled Trends in the U.S.”
According to ‘gas 2.0′ the report states that “the US is experiencing its longest and quickest decline in the amount of driving since World War Two — a decline which the report’s authors claim marks a permanent shift away from the automobile and towards other forms of transportation.“
I confess I skipped to the conclusions and that does indeed seem to be what it is saying. Let’s hope so.
Science Daily reports that “Cosmic Rays Do Not Explain Global Warming, Study Finds.” Add that to these two Climate Change Is Not Caused By Cosmic Rays, According To New Research Apr 2008, Cosmic Rays Are Not The Cause Of Climate Change, Scientists Say 2004 to your bookmarks for next time you encounter the ‘cosmic ray/space aliens’ meme.
When skeptics go bad
Lay Science has a wonderful post “When Skeptics Go Bad: From ClimateSkeptics to 9/11 Truthers” or “Eight Signs of Bad Skepticism.”
- Excessive/Narrow Pedantry:
- The Perfection Fallacy:
- Appeals to Idiocy
- “I’m just asking questions”
- Ignorance is Bliss
- Unappealing Authority
In addition to being a fun read the post is useful in two regards. First, knowing these Denier tactics helps you spot them when dealing with Deniers, and hence eases you in seeing exactly what is wrong with their argument.
Second, it is a fun place to refer them to when you point out a particular error; eg ‘You 3rd statement is an “Appeal to Idiocy” see LINK”
Reality, what a concept!
In response to my suggestion that we adopt Philip K. Dick as the climate realists official ‘dead science fiction writer’
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away”
Lostlyrics aka Daniel posted on a forum:
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein
I will note that within the acceptable limits of error “doesn’t go away” and “very persistent” are functionally synonyms.
The news and blogs are all reporting on the massive, accelerated Arctic melting. For helping people grasp the enormity of it I thought Twilight Earth did it best by stating “Imagine something almost 4 times the size of Texas.”
As Page van der Linden reports at DeSmogBlog, this is more than just another climate curiousity:
“According to a new study by scientists at the NSICD (National Snow and Ice Data Centre), there’s a good chance that Arctic sea ice has melted beyond the point of no return.”
The Arctic is considered one of the most sensitive regions in terms of climate change and its transition to another climatic state will have a direct impact on other parts of the northern hemisphere, as well more indirect effects around the world.”
Meandering around the net I came across variations of a question that appeared here as well, which I will loosely conflate and paraphrase as: ‘Why is the melt accelerating so much ahead of schedule? particularly since the last few years have been cooler?’
I thought perhaps one contribution I could make is provide an answer that people could be directed to. I am counting on my most excellent editors (aka informed readers) to catch me up if I am mistaken in any way, but as I understand it there is no one answer. The numerous factors involved include:
First: the ‘official prediction’ ie schedule is the IPCC 2007 report. For all the Denier hand waving and allegations of conspiracy the fact is the IPCC report was watered down to make it more politically acceptable. This was known by everyone who had any knowledge of the process, but there it is.
You can see the pre-edit version and descriptions of what happened here.
Second: scientists are inherently conservative. Yes, you make the best prediction you can, but given multiple choices that have approximately the same levels of probability a typical scientist will go for the more conservative choice. While the difference on any given study might be insignificant, the overall effect when compounded through all of the studies involved can become quite significant.
Third: in a complex system given many unknowns the probability that at least some of them will prove to be far more important than anyone imagined starts to become a certainty.
For example, up until recently estimates of the melt of glaciers and large ice sheets had essentially a simplistic model which regarded them as basically a huge block of ice. Rate of melt is related to surface area as much as many other factors, and the surface to volume ratios predicted certain rates of melt depending on temperature, air and water flows, etc.
What was not being considered was cracks. Cracks that allow water flow greatly increase the effective surface area and hence the rate of melt. Cracks change everything.
Fourth, change; ie as the system changes it tends to create a whole new set of circumstances that have different conditions than what the original predictions were based on. As was recently reported on this blog (and of course everywhere else) the recently documented changes in wind and current flow are having a huge impact.
What other things will change remains to be seen “The pace of change is starting to outstrip our ability to keep up with it, in terms of our understanding of it,” said Mark Serreze a co-author of the Arctic amplification study.
As for why the increased melt when we have had a few “cool” years:
First: “Cool” is relative, and in this case relative to the hottest decade in recorded history. 2008 was still the 10th hottest year since 1880 (probably much longer, just since 1880 that we know for sure). The question would not even occur if this had been 1997; that the ice would be melting during the hottest year in over a century would seem obvious.
Second: 2008 may have been “cooler” over all, but it is not uniform. As predicted the Poles heat much more than the rest of the planet, and this was true this year as well. Just have a look at the November anomaly for the Arctic (below).
Third: A reason the Poles heat more is arctic amplification ie the white snow and ice reflect 80-90% of the incident light, whereas dark water absorbs 80-90% and hence warms. The more ice melts the more the Arctic warms leading to even faster ice melt. It is one of the proverbial “tipping points” or “positive feedbacks.”
Fourth: One reason this period has been cooler is that a lot of the retained heat energy has been going into ice to water phase change rather than warming the air; ie the two are related in the sense that it would be hotter if so much ice weren’t melting.
Fifth: would be the same wind and current changes referred to above.
Did I miss anything? No doubt someone will let me know.
Oddly Watts and the Denialosphere who have been so obsessive about the Arctic these past 4 months have suddenly gone dead quiet on the subject … do you think maybe they missed the story?
Another question that came up here and elsewhere went along the lines of “Inhofe is an idiot, he has no influence, why get worked up about his lists?
It depends on what you think is “influential.” Do I imagine that Obama or most world leaders take this sort of nonsense seriously? Of course not, they are not stupid (excepting Stephen Harper and Vaclav Klaus apparently).
Inhofe’s report is such a transparent, ridiculous fraud that it has no influence at that level.
However, just google the fraud (eg Inhofe 650) and discover how many members of the public believe it verbatim (thankfully the sane links still appear first).
They in turn disseminate it to the broader public at every opportunity via the Denialosphere, forums etc. We can also expect that the usual suspects (Andrew Bolt, Chris Brooker, Lorne Gunter, etc) will report it as factual as soon as they can.
The general public quite understandably becomes confused about what is and isn’t true with respect to climate. And the public has huge influence with the leaders.
“Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.” Abraham Lincoln
So it does matter. Quite a lot actually.
More recent contributions to the public whipping of Inhofe include:
- More on Inhofe’s alleged list of 650 scientists, Deltoid, December 17, 2008
- How many on Inhofe’s list are IPCC authors? Deltoid, December 16, 2008
- Inhofe’s 650 “Dissenters” (Make That 649… 648…, The New Republic, December 16, 2008
- Senator James Inhofe Rehashed Skeptic Screed Getting Old, DeSmogBlog, December 16, 2008
- 650 List Ongoing
’650 List’ has begun working through the full list and verifying each person’s credential and stance on climate. He has published a complete list of the names for ease of debunking and keeping count. (thanks to Frankbi for spotting that one at Deltoid).
All of these links, those discussed previously, and any new ones all get added to the Inhofe 400 Club (aka NOT Sparta). Bookmark it, and please feel free to mirror the page often (hint – it helps those folks who have been doing the debunking to get more links).
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
Denier “Challenge” aka Deathwatch Update: Day 66 … still no evidence.