Archive for the ‘Climate Impacts’ Category

BPSDB The recent tornadoes in the United States have lead to a resurgence of articles talking about the link between extreme weather, natural disasters and climate change. If you are an interested member of the general public you are undoubtedly confused as the two sides of the debate seem to be making opposing claims, and both seem to have some science to back them up.

I’d like to talk a bit about why there is this confusion and what it means in practical terms for you and me. Then I’d like to discuss the opinion of the folks who take this issue very seriously indeed. No, I don’t mean the scientists, much more seriously than that – I am referring to the insurance industry.

The critical phrase is “seem to be making opposing claims“, because for the most part they are not. The climate change Deniers erroneously characterize the science based reports as ascribing the various tornadoes, storms and what have you as being caused by or linked to climate change. That is not what the ones I sampled were actually saying.

If you read the various reports they correctly note that given the current state of our knowledge it is impossible to directly link the recent extreme weather to climate change. It is also impossible to definitively say there is no link; that’s how uncertainty works.

Now from what I can gather it is probable that the influence of climate change on the most recent spate of tornadoes in the US south west was very small to none, but that’s not the end of the story.



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BPSDB As we hurtle into the catastrophe of the sixth great mass extinction that defines the Anthropocene, it is interesting to note just how recently we only just began to understand that which we are now annihilating, and why it is so important to preserve it.

(12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882)

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

On the Origin of Species, First edition


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BPSDB When I went to Google News this morning  the “Top Stories” are about some skiers and the beginning of the Federal election campaign.

Only much lower down do I find anything about floods in Australia and Sri Lanka, or mudslides in Brazil.

Apparently there is nothing new about climate change here in the Industrialized West. In the Anthropocene (era of human dominated biosphere) disasters of epic proportions are not “news.”

The cost of cutting back emissions is more than we estimated, but that is because the consequences of climate change are already here.”              Nicholas Stern

Just over one year ago Australian blogger MothIncarnate posted his first piece “Business as Usual; The Dead Horse and Juggernaut of Climate Change.”  An area of Queensland the size of France and Germany combined is flooded; the Juggernaut has arrived.

As people die or lose everything they have, the climate change Deniers want to quibble semantics. The flooding is exactly what was predicted and is completely consistent with climate science, but can we categorically say that it has been caused by climate change?


It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.”  Trenberth


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The Real BP Gulf Tragedy

BPSDB Grist reports that “Gulf oil spill panel urges overhaul of oil industry and safety practices.” Apparently a presidential panel in its final report stated that:

“The central lesson to be drawn from the catastrophe is that no less than an overhauling of both current industry practices and government oversight is now required,” the seven-member panel said in the report released after a six-month probe into the environmental and human disaster in the Gulf.”

That sounds positive, but then Kate Sheppard asks “Did we learn anything from the BP oil spill?” and walks us through some of the political realities of what the recommendations actually boil down to, and the political realities of getting them implemented. She summarizes with:


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BPSDB Double the CO2 – Half the literacy – 1/10th the coherence

‘Doubled CO2 means just 1.64 degrees of warming…’ or maybe not.

Potholer54 is back with another good one, this time debunking the “not much warming for two centuries” nonsense. Potholer pretty much covers it all, so I’ll leave it to him.

Half the literacy

Even before the Lewis Page version of this meme turned up Deniers were using a report on the NASA Press Release that had been posted at WUWT and echoed around the Denialosphere as the basis for claiming that climate change was not a problem.


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Another Top International Scientist Jumps off Global Warming ‘Titanic’” screams one headline, “New peer reviewed study: global warming lowers death rates” claims another.

Is it any shock that more accurate titles would be “Another Top International Scientist reaffirms basic, commonly known facts of accepted climate science!” and “Two year old study shows adaptation, not climate change, explains difference in death rates.“?

Yup, the climate change Deniers are outright, flagrantly lying again (shock, horror, disbelief … say it ain’t so!). So what are the facts behind this latest silliness? (more…)

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Seasons (Greetings)

(Posted by S2)BPSDBInspired by a comment by guthrie, I thought I’d take a look at the seasons here in Scotland. Are they changing as guthrie claims, or is this just natural variability being taken out of context?

It would seem that he is correct, according to the Scotland & Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (henceforth referred to as SNIFFER).


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Darth Vader


.Last week Ian Plimer seemed to be just another climate change Denier who apparently wouldn’t know real science if it chewed his leg off.

Now with the evolving debate with Monbiot it seems to me that there are three major aspects to the Plimer story, which like all good stories is really about meta-stories playing themselves out in small.

The Phantom Science

First there is the issue of the well documented lack of actual substance to Plimer’s “science” generally. A case in point is back in May when Deltoid very helpfully sourced one of Plimer’s graphs to that appalling piece of garbage “The Swindle” (Plimer claimed he couldn’t recall where he got it).  It’s worth going to Deltoid and playing with the graphic 😉 Three points to make, what kind of researcher:

  1. can’t recall/didn’t document the source for a significant piece of evidence for his main point?
  2. uses a source well known to be a fiction/fraud?
  3. lies about 1. to try and hide 2.

Seriously … this person is supposed to be a research scientist? for real?


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eclipse3oct_sombras-jpg BPSDBA little over a year ago one of the sites that I liked to go to for climate information suddenly went stagnant.

Instead of fresh postings there was just a link to a youtube video of Megadeath’s song “Countdown to Extinction”  that stayed up for some weeks.


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PSDBAnyone who imagines that with climate change we will simply shift agriculture towards the poles probably does not even have house plants, much less a garden, and certainly knows little or nothing about agriculture or climate change.

In an earlier post I discussed some of the impacts on existing agriculture as Understanding why climate change means global famine”. Now I’d like to discuss a couple of aspects of one of the stock answers “we’ll just move our food production north.”

The reason this will not work is shown very simply with a map.

source US Dept of Agriculture
source US Dept of Agriculture

Begining with the Southern Hemisphere and the obvious, there is less land area as you move towards the pole. South America narrows rapidly, Africa less rapidly but it still does, and Australia simply ends; there just isn’t the land available to sustain anything close to current levels of food production. (more…)

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flight-from-famineBPSDBOne of the unfortunate things about Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” is it led to the notion that the principle threat posed by climate change is coastal flooding.

One could watch the film and conclude that if you didn’t live near a coast climate change is problem that need not concern you directly.   NOT!

A few days ago New Scientist published “Billions could go hungry from global warming by 2100 and this seemed to surprise a lot of people.   Apparently they had no idea. Reality check. Far and away the most serious threat posed by climate change is famine, truly massive, global famine. (more…)

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