Tag: global warming

Maybe It’s Time To Worry — Last Month Was the Hottest June on Record

Source: AlterNet

Author: AFP

Emphasis Mine

The planet just set another monthly climate record with the hottest June in 135 years, US government scientists said Monday. The first six months of the year also set a record for warmth, according to the monthly report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for June 2015 was the highest for the month of June since record keeping began in 1880,” said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

“The June average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.58 Fahrenheit (0.88 Celsius) above the 20th century average.” The previous high for the month of June was set in 2014, NOAA said. “The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.53 Fahrenheit (0.85 Celsius) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January-June in the 1880-2015 record,” said NOAA.For the first six months of the year, 2015 beat out 2010 for the hottest on record. The amount of Arctic sea ice was 350,000 square miles, or 7.7 percent below the 1981-2010 average. “This was the third smallest June extent since records began in 1979,” NOAA said.

See: http://www.alternet.org/maybe-its-time-worry-last-month-was-hottest-june-record?akid=13318.123424.OQVhzo&rd=1&src=newsletter1039669&t=3


Neil deGrasse Tyson Hit by Creationist Backlash for Explaining Universe Is Billions of Years Old

Source: AlterNet

Author: Dan Arel

Emphasis Mine

In the wake of the success of the “Cosmos” television series, which picked up four Emmy Awards earlier this week, Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed politics, religion and science in a recent interview with AlterNet.

When I asked if the success of “Cosmos” had surprised him, Tyson said he had not anticipated the kind of coverage the show would get by entertainment sites and blogs. Because of the show’s major network backing and primetime slot, he said, it was covered like any other television show. He said this forced many entertainment writers to write about all sorts of science topics not often covered in these publications, exposing the show to a new and possibly unintended audience.

Tyson was not as shocked by the backlash the show garnered from certain religious and political groups, mainly creationists who took issue with Tyson’s insistence on discussing evolution, the Big Bang theory and the history of scientific discovery. Their criticism of the show did not bother Tyson at all. “You have to ask yourself, what are the numbers behind the people making these claims? Someone like Ken Ham [owner of the Creation Museum] has beliefs that are even crazy to many Christians.”

Ken Ham’s criticisms came in the form of a weekly review on his website Answers in Genesis, a creationist organization. Ham’s comments gained some attention from the media and were often answered by science writers all over the Internet.

But Tyson wondered how Ham was even able to get anyone’s attention. He speculated it had something to do with Ham’s debate with Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

“Everyone knew Bill Nye, but almost no one had heard of Ken Ham,” Tyson said. “But after the debate [Ham] realized he had some media attention. You have to wonder—if that debate never happened if he would have even bothered covering the show at all?”

Tyson said he has no interest in addressing the claims AIG made against him or the show.

“What I say is not an opinion,” Tyson said. “Life is too short to debate people’s opinions. There is an old saying, if a debate lasts more than five minutes, both sides lost.”

This is the reason Tyson says he doesn’t debate. “My publicist wanted to set up a series of debates with me about Pluto, but I don’t care that much—call Pluto a planet, call it a planetoid, it doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “Just make sure that whatever you call it, you are doing so informed.”

Tyson said as an educator, his goal is not to tell people what to think, but to teach them how to think and provide them with scientific facts. It’s up to them to decide what to do with this knowledge. “I am not a totalitarian, I don’t want to tell you what to believe. I want to provide you with the tools and evidence to arrive at your position on your own, and if you disagree with me, that’s fine, as long as your disagreement does not harm others.”

Tyson was seemingly verging on a more political discussion, though he has stayed guarded on his political leanings. “I have opinions and I lean one way over another, but I am not here to share my opinion or tell someone how they should vote,” said the scientist. He also had a fear that his fans could adopt his opinions simply because Tyson had stated them and not because they arrived at the same conclusions on their own.

Tyson has a long history of not openly endorsing any political party. He believes that science is apolitical, and politicians should come to scientists for information when it is in regards to public policy. “One thing that brings me great sadness is when a scientific discovery that should be apolitical is politicized, and suddenly people are choosing sides on their own and not consulting with scientists.

He reminded me that the National Academy of Sciences was formed for this very purpose. If politicians needed to gather scientific information in order to write public policy, they would reach out to NAS, but today they choose sides that only seem to serve them personally.

When you cherry-pick information to serve a need, there is a problem,” he said, referring to politicians who ignore evidence that does not support their political position or religious beliefs.

While Tyson says he does not like to tell people what to believe, he has spoken out against many types of science denial, especially on episodes of “Cosmos” in which he addressed issues like climate change and discussed that you can really take it to climate deniers by hitting them where it hurts most, their wallets.  Tyson insisted he was providing the overwhelming evidence in support of the anthropogenic global warming theory, not simply by telling people it was true, but by showing them how we know it’s true and the significance of its impact. Tyson’s mission is to educate as many people as he can to think critically and to arrive at their conclusions and beliefs informed. He knows he cannot make everyone agree, but believes that if people are making informed decisions about science, we have a chance of making fewer bad decisions with the knowledge we have.

See: http://www.alternet.org/belief/neil-degrasse-tyson-hit-creationist-backlash-explaining-universe-billions-years-old?akid=12153.123424.6B9vC_&rd=1&src=newsletter1016414&t=4&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

Climate Change: If we pretend it isn’t happening, will it go away?

Source: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Author: Lawrence Krauss

I happened to be in Canberra last week as the Australian government repealed its tax on carbon emissions, which has required the country’s biggest emitters to pay as much as 25 Australian dollars (about $23.50, US) per metric ton of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere. With the vote in the Australian Senate, following a previous vote in the House of Representatives, Australia—one of the world’s largest per capita emitters of carbon—moved from being well ahead of the international curve to the back of the pack when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The climate change debate that has raged in the public forum in Australia—and, in similar form, in the United States—has unfortunately been governed more by politics, ideology, and money than by facts. For example, much to my dismay, after appearing on a television program in Australia, on which I ended up debating a senator from the governing Liberal Party on issues that included climate change, I offered to come to his office to show him data on climate trends, including sea level rise and ocean acidification, with the hope that the data might affect the policies he advocated. He told me that he wasn’t interested in such a discussion, because he had a constituency that supported his current opposition to carbon emission controls, and that is what mattered to him.

Of course, as a scientist, I feel particularly strongly that the public is ill served by politicians who ignore empirical evidence while making and speaking out on policy. But as the dramatic Australian vote made news worldwide, another, less-publicized set of legislative actions took place in the United States, and they could wind up being even more insidious than the Australian climate change retreat. Rather than ignore the science associated with climate change predictions, one house of the US Congress attempted to ensure that the appropriate science on climate change would simply be discontinued.

On July 10, the House approved the fiscal 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill on a 253-170 vote. In the bill, Congress unfortunately cut funding for such things as renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency; perhaps even more worrisome, however, were a series of amendments successfully attached to the bill. Each would, in its own way, specifically prohibit scientists at the Energy Department from doing precisely what Congress should mandate them to do—namely perform the best possible scientific research to illuminate, for policymakers, the likelihood and possible consequences of climate change.

Oklahoma Republican Congressman James Lankford’s amendment prohibited funding for “proposing or implementing any executive order related to the ‘social cost of carbon.'” In this way, the Energy Department would presumably be prohibited from embarking on studies that might calculate the possible benefits of legislation that limits carbon dioxide emissions or the economic risks associated with climate change.

A second amendment by Arizona Republican Paul Gosar prohibited funding for the Energy Department’s Climate Model Development and Validation program. One of the things that climate change deniers often pull out of their hats when arguing against acting to stem climate change is a claimed skepticism about the validity of existing climate models. I have recently countered one such skeptic on television here in Australia by accepting this skepticism—and then challenging him to present what his models predicted.  (Of course he didn’t have any).  The point was not merely rhetorical. If there is serious concern about the robustness of ongoing climate modeling, it is inconsistent with a desire to prohibit scientists from being able to improve their models.

A third science-defunding amendment, this time pushed by West Virginia Republican David McKinley, would prohibit the Energy Department from supporting climate change activities associated with the National Climate Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. 
That’s right: The Energy Department would be prohibited from responding to the two landmark reports that reflect the best international scientific scholarship available on climate modeling and the possible impacts of human greenhouse gas production, locally, nationally, and internationally.

It is one thing to decide, as the Australian government has sadly done, that short-term political expediency trumps long-term policy goals when it comes to reducing the impact of climate change. It is another, however, to decide that the very possibility of human-induced climate change is so contrary to what one would like to believe—that scientific activities capable of producing factual results running counter to this belief are so threatening—that any such science should be prohibited.

The House appropriations bill is not likely to become law in its current form. The White House has already signaled its intent to veto the bill; the Senate would undoubtedly require changes before the bill came anywhere close to the president’s signing desk. Still, the intent of these amendments, and the fact that they could pass a house of Congress, should concern everyone interested in the appropriate support of scientific research as a basis for sound public policy. The analogy of an ostrich burying its head in the sand to avoid danger is clichéd but, even so, particularly appropriate to this case. An ostrich that buried its head in the sand on an ocean beach would seem particularly poorly situated to avoid a possibly rising tide. Sillier still: The ostrich that, with its head underground, refused to allow others to keep watch, to see if the tide comes in.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://thebulletin.org/climate-change-if-we-pretend-it-isn%E2%80%99t-happening-will-it-go-away7333

Neil deGrasse Tyson: When the rich start losing money, they’ll take climate change seriously


Source: RawStory

Author: Arturo Garcia

(N.B.: Climate Change Denial is an example of what happens when we fail to separate church and state…)

“Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson characterized the nay saying surrounding climate change as par for the course in footage aired on Monday from his interview with MSNBC host Chris Hayes,

“The evidence will show up when they need more evidence,” deGrasse Tyson told Hayes. “More storms, more coastlines getting lost. People beginning to lose their wealth. People, if they begin to lose their wealth, they change their mind real fast, I’ve found — particularly in a capitalist culture.”

In the interview, which was filmed last week in New York City, the Cosmos host said that denial of scientific truths generally goes through three stages: First, skeptics say it can’t be true. Then, they say it contradicts the Bible. Finally, they admit the clues were there all along.

But regardless of how the world’s climate patterns evolve, deGrasse Tyson added, humanity would still carry on, though facing different temperatures than it has experienced for the past 1,000 years.

“Yes, there were storms,” deGrasse Tyson explained. “But in the mix of things, you had some assurances. It’s remarkably stable, given the fluctuations that had existed previously in the history of the world. When the dinosaurs were here, there were no polar ice caps. Talk about global warming — it was really warm when the dinosaurs were here.”

To “wake people,” he continued, he asks them how high the sea levels will be if the ice caps melt away, a scenario he said reminds him of the destruction Charleton Heston confronted in the original Planet of the Apes film series.

“[They say], ‘Oh, maybe a couple of feet,’” deGrasse Tyson told Hayes. “No, it would come up to the Statue of Liberty’s elbow — the one that’s holding the Declaration of Independence. That’s how high the water line will be.””

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/06/02/neil-degrasse-tyson-when-the-rich-start-losing-money-theyll-take-climate-change-seriously/

3 Reasons Science Deniers Are Freaking Out About Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Cosmos”

Source: AlterNet

Author: Chris Mooney

The following post first appeared on Mother Jones. For more great content, subscribe to Mother Jones here. 

If you think the first episode of the new Fox Cosmos series was  controversial (with its relatively minor mentions of climate change, evolution, and the Big Bang),  Sunday night’s show (16 March) threw down the gauntlet. Pretty much the entire episode was devoted to the topic of evolution, and the vast profusion of evidence (especially  genetic evidence) showing that it is indeed the explanation behind all life on Earth. At one point, host Neil deGrasse Tyson stated it as plainly as you possibly can: “The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact.” (You can watch the full episode  here.)

Not surprisingly, those who deny the theory of evolution were not happy with this. Indeed, the science denial crowd hasn’t been happy with Cosmos in general. Here are some principal lines of attack:

1. Denying the Big Bang: In the first episode of Cosmos, titled “Standing Up in the Milky Way,” Tyson dons shades just before witnessing the Big Bang. You know, the start of everything. Some creationists, though, don’t like the Big Bang; at Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis, a  critique of Cosmos asserts that “the big bang model is unable to explain many scientific observations, but this is of course not mentioned.”

Alas, this creationist critique seems very poorly timed: A  major new scientific discovery, just described in detail in the New York Times, has now provided  “smoking gun” evidence for ” inflation,” a crucial component of our understanding of the stunning happenings just after the Big Bang. Using a special telescope to examine the cosmic microwave background radiation (which has been dubbed the ” afterglow” of the Big Bang), researchers at the South Pole detected ” direct evidence” of the previously theoretical  gravitational waves that are believed to have originated in the Big Bang and caused an incredibly sudden and dramatic inflation of the universe. (For an easy to digest discussion, Phil Plait  has more.)

2. Denying evolution: Sunday’s (16 March) episode of Cosmos was all about evolution. It closely followed the rhetorical strategy of Charles Darwin’s world-changing 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, beginning with an example of “artificial selection” by breeders (Darwin used pigeons, Cosmos used domestic dogs) to get us ready to appreciate the far vaster power of natural selection. It employed Darwin’s favorite metaphor: the “tree of life,” an analogy that helps us see how all organisms are living on different branches of the same hereditary tree. In the episode, Tyson also refuted one of the creationist’s  favorite canards: the idea that complex organs, like the eye, could not have been produced through evolution.

3. Denying climate change: Thus far, Cosmos has referred to climate change in each of its two opening episodes, but has not gone into any depth on the matter. Perhaps that’s for a later episode. But in the meantime, it seems some conservatives are already bashing Tyson as a global warming proponent.  Writing at the Media Research Center’s Newsbusters blog, Jeffrey Meyer critiques a recent Tyson appearance on Late Night With Seth Myers. “Meyers and deGrasse Tyson chose to take a cheap shot at religious people and claim they don’t believe in science i.e. liberal causes like global warming,” writes Meyer.  Over at the pro-“intelligent design” Discovery Institute, they’re not happy. Senior fellow David Klinghoffer  writes that the latest Cosmos episode “[extrapolated] shamelessly, promiscuously from artificial selection (dogs from wolves) to minor stuff like the color of a polar bear’s fur to the development of the human eye.” In a much more elaborate  attempted takedown, meanwhile, the institute’s Casey Luskin accuses Tyson and Cosmos of engaging in “attempts to persuade people of both evolutionary scientific views and larger materialistic evolutionary beliefs, not just by the force of the evidence, but by rhetoric and emotion, and especially by leaving out important contrary arguments and evidence.” Luskin goes on to contend that there is something wrong with the idea of the “tree of life.” Tell that to the scientists involved in the Open Tree of Life project, which plans to produce “the first online, comprehensive first-draft tree of all 1.8 million named species, accessible to both the public and scientific communities.” Precisely how to reconstruct every last evolutionary relationship may still be an open scientific question, but the idea of common ancestry, the core of evolution (represented conceptually by a tree of life), is not.

Actually, as Tyson explained on our  Inquiring Minds podcast, Cosmos is certainly not anti-religion. As for characterizing global warming as simply a “liberal cause”: In a  now famous study finding that 97 percent of scientific studies (that bother to take a position on the matter) agree with the idea of human-caused global warming, researchers reviewed 12,000 scientific abstracts published between the years 1991 and 2011. In other words, this is a field in which a very large volume of science is being published. That hardly sounds like an advocacy endeavor.

On our most recent episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast, Tyson explains why he doesn’t debate science deniers; you can listen here (interview starts around minute 13):

Emphasis Mine


Neil deGrasse Tyson on “Cosmos,” How Science Got Cool, and Why He Doesn’t Debate Deniers

tyson_on_cosmosSource: Mother Jones, via Portside

Author: Chris Mooney

“Last Sunday’s debut of Cosmos, the rebooted series from Fox and National Geographic, made television history. According to National Geographic, it was the largest global rollout of a TV series ever, appearing on 220 channels in 181 countries and 45 languages. And, yes, this is a science show we’re talking about. You will have to actively resist the force of gravity in order to lift up your dropped jaw and restore a sense of calm to your stunned face.

At the center of the show is the “heir apparent” to legendary science popularizer and original Cosmos host Carl Sagan: the impassioned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who appeared on this week’s episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast to talk about what it’s like to fill Sagan’s shoes (stream below). On the podcast, Tyson discussed topics ranging from what we know now about the cosmos that Sagan didn’t (top three answers: dark matter and dark energy, the profusion of discovered exoplanets, and the concept of parallel universes, or the “multiverse”) to why science seems to have gotten so supercool again. After all, not only has Cosmos garnered such a reach, but The Big Bang Theory is currently the No. 1 comedy on TV.

“I wake up every morning saying, ‘How did I get 1.7 million Twitter followers?'” Tyson joked while discussing science’s newfound popularity. “Should I remind them that I’m an astrophysicist? Maybe I should tell them, ‘Folks, I’m an astrophysicist. All right? Escape now.'”

Thanks in part to Cosmos, Tyson is arguably the single most visible public face of science in America today. And as such, he may have to walk a difficult line. Many science defenders want Cosmos to do nothing less than restore our national sanity by smiting all science denial, especially when it comes to the issues of evolution and global warming. It’s an impossible task, but the theme was nonetheless quite apparent at a November Library of Congress gala dedicating Carl Sagan’s papers, where Cosmos producer Seth MacFarlane denounced science’s “politicization on steroids,” and Cosmos writer Steven Soter remarked that Sagan would have been “appalled” by today’s attacks on climate scientists.

Carl Sagan himself often took strong stands on science-based political issues of the day. He clashed with the Reagan administration over arms control and the “Star Wars” program, and the debate over his ideas about “nuclear winter” served as a kind of preview of the current battle over global warming. Sagan also openly debated pseudoscientists like Immanuel Velikovsky, who posited that the planet Venus had started out as a comet ejected by Jupiter, and had caused various events described in the Bible on its way to its current position. Indeed, Sagan even took on Velikovsky in the fourth episode of the original Cosmos, explaining in depth why his ideas were wrong.

By contrast, Tyson made clear on Inquiring Minds that he does not plan to follow in Sagan’s footsteps in this respect (or for that matter, those of Bill Nye the Science Guy, who went straight into the creationists’ den to debate evolution last month, and was faulted by some for doing so). “Carl Sagan would debate people on all manner of issues,” said Tyson. “And I don’t have the time or the energy or the interest in doing so. As an educator, I’d rather just get people thinking straight in the first place, so I don’t have to then debate them later on.” (To be sure, Tyson has on occasion been drawn into such debates in the past.)

The deniers, of course, are already out in force over the new Cosmos, whose first episode brought up both evolution and global warming, and whose future episodes will tackle human evolution in greater depth. At the creationist website Answers in Genesis, one writer even goes so far as to dispute the show’s treatment of the Big Bang, writing, “The big bang model is unable to explain many scientific observations, but this is of course not mentioned.”

(N.B.: the announcement on 17 March –

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2014/03/a-scientific-breakthrough-lets-us-see-to-the-beginning-of-time.html , or –


solidify the Big Bang.)

Tyson certainly has plenty of criticism for those who would deny science. “I claim that all those who think they can cherry-pick science simply don’t understand how science works,” he explained on the podcast. “That’s what I claim. And if they did, they’d be less prone to just assert that somehow scientists are clueless.”

But at the same time, and unlike many science champions (such as the biologist Richard Dawkins), Tyson is quite careful not to pit science against religion. For instance, the first episode of the new Cosmos tells the story of Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk who was persecuted and ultimately burned at the stake by the Inquisition over his ideas about the universe, including the notion that there are an infinite number of suns and worlds beyond our own. Some have argued that to tell this story is in effect to pick a fight over science and religion, but Tyson counters that “Giordano Bruno himself was a deeply religious person. In fact, you could argue that he was more religious than the people prosecuting him.”

The stance of Cosmos, Tyson emphasizes, is not anti-religion but anti-dogma: “Any time you have a doctrine where that is the truth that you assert, and that what you call the truth is unassailable, you’ve got doctrine, you’ve got dogma on your hands. And so Cosmos is…an offering of science, and a reminder that dogma does not advance science; it actually regresses it.”

In other words, Tyson’s view appears to be that in an age rife with science denial, Cosmos rises above that fray by instilling in us wonder about the nature of the cosmos and our quest to understand it. And given the breathtaking quality and stunningly wide distribution of the show, there’s much to say for that approach. Every time you pick a fight, whether over climate change or over evolution or over religion, you lose some of the audience (even as you fire up another part of it).

In the end, however, scientific knowledge, and wanting to do something about the problems that science reveals, are inseparable. And as soon as you want to change something in the world because of science, you inevitably run up against interests, emotions, and denial.

Global warming is the case in point: Just as Carl Sagan worried about nuclear holocaust because of science, so we today worry about the planet’s steady warming. Indeed, that kind of thinking is central to the Cosmos legacy. Asked on the podcast about the warming of the planet, Tyson explained the ultimate message of Cosmos: “You are equipped and empowered with this cosmic perspective, achieved by the methods and tools of science, applied to the universe. And are you going to be a good shepherd, or a bad shepherd? Are you going to use your wisdom to protect civilization, or will you go at it in a shortsighted enough way to either destroy it, or be complicit in its destruction? If you can’t bring your scientific knowledge to bear on those kinds of decisions, then why even waste your time?”

So in the end, we should all thank Tyson—as well as Fox, National Geographic, and the show’s many writers and producers—for making the new Cosmos happen. It will contribute immeasurably to the appreciation of science in America and beyond. It will make kids think harder about pursuing science careers by showing them that the cosmos is intensely awesome, and the act of understanding it is downright heroic. But, can it ultimately stay above the political fray?

Maybe in some universes.”

Chris Mooney is a science and political journalist, podcaster, and the host of Climate Desk Live. He is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science.

Emphasis Mine

See: https://portside.org/2014-03-18/neil-degrasse-tyson-cosmos-how-science-got-cool-and-why-he-doesnt-debate-deniers

What Motivates Rejection of (Climate) Science?

From: Via Portside


Researchers from The University of Western Australia
have examined what motivates people who are greatly
involved in the climate debate to reject scientific

The study Motivated Rejection of Science, to be
published in Psychological Science, was designed to
investigate what motivates the rejection of science in
visitors to climate blogs who choose to participate in
the ongoing public debate about climate change.

More than 1000 visitors to blogs dedicated to
discussions of climate science completed a questionnaire
that queried people’s belief in a number of scientific
questions and conspiracy theories, including: Princess
Diana’s death was not an accident; the Apollo moon
landings never happened; HIV causes AIDS; and smoking
causes lung cancer. The study also considered the
interplay of these responses with the acceptance of
climate science, free market ideology and the belief
that previous environmental problems have been resolved.

The results showed 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.

“Blogs have a huge impact on society and so it’s
important that we understand the motivations and the
reasoning of those who visit blogs to contribute to the
discussion. There has been much research pointing to
the role of free-market ideology in rejecting climate
science, but this is the first time it’s been shown that
other scientific facts, such as the link between HIV and
AIDS, are also subject to ideological rejection,”
Professor Lewandowsky said.

By contrast, a major determinant of the acceptance of
science was the perceived consensus among scientists.
The more agreement among scientists, the more people
were likely to accept the scientific findings.

“It is important to understand the role of perceived
consensus because it highlights how damaging the media’s
handling of climate issues can be when they create the
appearance of a scientific debate where there is none:
More than 90 in 100 climate researchers agree on the
basic fact that the globe is warming due to human
greenhouse gas emissions,” Professor Lewandowsky said.”

Media references

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky (UWA School of Psychology)
(+61 8) 6488 3231 / 7862
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8)
6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783

Emphasis Mine


Greenhouse Gases Hit Record Levels; Concentrations Exceed Scientists’ Worst-Case Scenarios

N.B.: If the religious right had not discredited science in the USA, we would have taken action years ago…


“GENEVA — Global warming gases have hit record levels in the world’s atmosphere, with concentrations of carbon dioxide up 39 percent since the start of the industrial era in 1750, the U.N. weather agency said Monday.

The new figures for 2010 from the World Meteorological Organization show that CO2 levels are now at 389 parts per million, up from about 280 parts per million a quarter-millenium ago. The levels are significant because the gases trap heat in the atmosphere.

WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jeremiah Lengoasa said CO2 emissions are to blame for about four-fifths of the rise. But he noted the lag between what gets pumped into the atmosphere and its effect on climate.

“With this picture in mind, even if emissions were stopped overnight globally, the atmospheric concentrations would continue for decades because of the long lifetime of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” he said.

Negotiators from virtually all the world’s nations will gather later this month in South Africa to try to agree on steps to head off the worst of the climate disruptions that researchers say will result if concentrations hit around 450 parts per million.

That could happen within several decades at the current rate, though some climate activists and vulnerable nations say the world has already passed the danger point of 350 parts per million and must somehow undo it.

The WMO said the increase of 2.3 parts per million in CO2 in the atmosphere between 2009 and 2010 shows an acceleration from the average 1.5 parts per million increase during the 1990s.

But there are seasonal fluctuations, too. During the summer growing season, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In winter, the concentration of C02 rises as vegetation and other biomass decompose.

Since 1750, WMO says, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen 39 percent, those of nitrous oxide have gone up 20 percent and concentrations of methane jumped 158 percent.

Its report Monday cites fossil fuel-burning, loss of forests that absorb CO2 and use of fertilizer as the main culprits.”

Emphasis Mine


Global Warming Fast Facts

From National Geographic see link below

N.B.: Global Climate Change is Real, is occurring in a location involving you, and no amount of prayer or denial will reverse it!

“Global warming, or climate change, is a subject that shows no sign of cooling down.

Here’s the lowdown on why it’s happening, what’s causing it, and how it might change the planet.

Is It Happening?

Yes. Earth is already showing many signs of worldwide climate change.

• Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

• The rate of warming is increasing. The 20th century’s last two decades were the hottest in 400 years and possibly the warmest for several millennia, according to a number of climate studies. And the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that 11 of the past 12 years are among the dozen warmest since 1850.

• The Arctic is feeling the effects the most. Average temperatures in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia have risen at twice the global average, according to the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report compiled between 2000 and 2004.

• Arctic ice is rapidly disappearing, and the region may have its first completely ice-free summer by 2040 or earlier. Polar bears and indigenous cultures are already suffering from the sea-ice loss.

• Glaciers and mountain snows are rapidly melting—for example, Montana’s Glacier National Park now has only 27 glaciers, versus 150 in 1910. In the Northern Hemisphere, thaws also come a week earlier in spring and freezes begin a week later.

• Coral reefs, which are highly sensitive to small changes in water temperature, suffered the worst bleaching—or die-off in response to stress—ever recorded in 1998, with some areas seeing bleach rates of 70 percent. Experts expect these sorts of events to increase in frequency and intensity in the next 50 years as sea temperatures rise.

An upsurge in the amount of extreme weather events, such as wildfires, heat waves, and strong tropical storms, is also attributed in part to climate change by some experts.

Are Humans Causing It?

“Very likely,” the IPCC said in a February 2007 report.

The report, based on the work of some 2,500 scientists in more than 130 countries, concluded that humans have caused all or most of the current planetary warming. Human-caused global warming is often called anthropogenic climate change.

• Industrialization, deforestation, and pollution have greatly increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all greenhouse gases that help trap heat near Earth’s surface. (See an interactive feature on how global warming works.)

• Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it.

• These gases persist in the atmosphere for years, meaning that even if such emissions were eliminated today, it would not immediately stop global warming.

• Some experts point out that natural cycles in Earth’s orbit can alter the planet’s exposure to sunlight, which may explain the current trend. Earth has indeed experienced warming and cooling cycles roughly every hundred thousand years due to these orbital shifts, but such changes have occurred over the span of several centuries. Today’s changes have taken place over the past hundred years or less.

• Other recent research has suggested that the effects of variations in the sun’s output are “negligible” as a factor in warming, but other, more complicated solar mechanisms could possibly play a role.

What’s Going to Happen?

A follow-up report by the IPCC released in April 2007 warned that global warming could lead to large-scale food and water shortages and have catastrophic effects on wildlife.

• Sea level could rise between 7 and 23 inches (18 to 59 centimeters) by century’s end, the IPCC’s February 2007 report projects. Rises of just 4 inches (10 centimeters) could flood many South Seas islands and swamp large parts of Southeast Asia.

• Some hundred million people live within 3 feet (1 meter) of mean sea level, and much of the world’s population is concentrated in vulnerable coastal cities. In the U.S., Louisiana and Florida are especially at risk.

• Glaciers around the world could melt, causing sea levels to rise while creating water shortages in regions dependent on runoff for fresh water.

• Strong hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and other natural disasters may become commonplace in many parts of the world. The growth of deserts may also cause food shortages in many places.

More than a million species face extinction from disappearing habitat, changing ecosystems, and acidifying oceans.

• The ocean’s circulation system, known as the ocean conveyor belt, could be permanently altered, causing a mini-ice age in Western Europe and other rapid changes.

• At some point in the future, warming could become uncontrollable by creating a so-called positive feedback effect. Rising temperatures could release additional greenhouse gases by unlocking methane in permafrost and undersea deposits, freeing carbon trapped in sea ice, and causing increased evaporation of water.

What is Climategate?

In late November 2009, hackers unearthed hundreds of emails at the U.K.’s University of East Anglia that exposed private conversations among top-level British and U.S. climate scientists discussing whether certain data should be released to the public. [Do we know who the hackers were? Were they skeptics? Might be worth noting]

The email exchanges also refer to statistical tricks used to illustrate climate change? trends, and call climate skeptics idiots, according to the New York Times.

One such trick was used to create the well-known hockey-stick graph, which shows a sharp uptick in temperature increases during the 20th century. Former U.S vice president Al Gore relied heavily on the graph as evidence of human-caused climate change in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

The data used for this graph come from two sources: thermostat readings and tree-ring samples.

While thermostat readings have consistently shown a temperature rise over the past hundred years, tree-ring samples show temperature increases stalling around 1960.

On the hockey-stick graph, thermostat-only data is grafted onto data that incorporates both thermostat and tree-ring readings, essentially presenting a seamless picture of two different data sets, the hacked emails revealed.

But scientists argue that dropping the tree-ring data was no secret and has been written about in the scientific literature for years.

Climate change skeptics have heralded the emails as an attempt to fool the public, according to the Times.

Yet climate scientists maintain that these controversial points are small blips that are inevitable in scientific research, and that the evidence for human-induced climate change is much broader and still widely accepted.

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Emphasis Mine


Political Reporters Start Reading Religious Right Books

N.B.: This is why the First Clause of The First Amendment is more important than ever!


From RD, by Sarah Posner

“There’s a somewhat refreshing development taking place in political reporting. Not only reporters are noticing that Republican candidates coalesce with religious right leaders, but they are also discovering a crucial truth about the movement: that its followers aren’t just motivated by opposition to abortion and LGBT rights. They are motivated by something more fundamental, a reimagined “truth” about what America is (and isn’t) and how a “biblical worldview” should guide politics and policymaking.

This is a good thing, of course, because as Joanna argued this morning, candidates should be asked tough questions about how their beliefs would impact their governing. Michele Bachmann thinks that God is trying to send a message through earthquakes and hurricanes, and that message is not (in her mind) that Republicans should stop obsessing about energy efficient lightbulbs being “tyranny,” or talking about closing down the Environmental Protection Agency.

Twitter lit up this morning after Jonathan Martin’s piece in Politico (“Is Rick Perry Dumb?”) noted that he was reading Charles Stanley’s book, Turning the Tide. Stanley is pastor of megachurch First Baptist Church of Atlanta and one-time Southern Baptist Convention president whose broadcasts through his In Touch ministry are seen and heard on radio and television across the country. Stanley, although widely known, is not without controversy: after years of marital trouble, his wife divorced him in 2000. Despite longstanding SBC denunciation of divorce, Stanley remained as pastor of his church despite an unwritten SBC prohibition on divorced men serving as pastors (the SBC prohibits ordination of women, but this resolution is not binding on local churches, who can decide otherwise). At the time, a church spokesperson said, “God has positioned Dr. Stanley in a place where his personal pain has validated his ability to minister to all of us.”

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, whose piece on Michele Bachmann brought dominionism to the forefront of the political conversation (even though reporters who cover the religious right have reported on it for years), started tweeting quotes from Stanley’s book, such as “Pray to help leaders ‘reaffirm our Christian heritage and reestablish Your biblical precepts as the basis of American society and law.'” He also observed, “Can’t remember another campaign bragging that candidate was reading a book that asked people to pray for conversion of all Jews and Muslims.”Perhaps Lizza can’t remember, and perhaps a campaign didn’t explicitly brag about reading a particular book, but considering that conversion of non-believers is a standard evangelical imperative, it shouldn’t be too terribly surprising that an evangelical candidate would brag about reading a book that contained such an exhortation. And as I’ve argued before, creating candidates like Perry (or Bachmann) has been years in the making. Doug Wead, in his 1985 memo to George H.W. Bush, named Stanley as one of the leading religious leaders in America whose support the candidate should cultivate. Stanley, then the president of the SBC, “is said to be ‘intrigued’ by the [Pat] Robertson candidacy but ‘leaning to George Bush.'” Oh, yeah, that guy, Pat Robertson! Remember when he ran for president?Wead continued: Dr. Stanley is the key to building relationships with the seven or eight pastors of the largest SBC churches. Like Stanley, these pastors will probably endorse someone for president. They will influence others through the use of their mailing lists, radio and television programs, and printed materials which get across their message without violating their government awarded 501 c3 status. They will even have voter registration booths in their church lobbies which will be open after a rather pointed sermon, “I don’t want to influence how you vote but . . . .” Let’s not forget how a mere four years ago Mike Huckabee (himself an SBC pastor considered a moderate by some in his denomination!) gave a Christmas sermon at John Hagee‘s church,said that the Constitution should be amended to conform with “God’s standards,” said that allowing “seculars” to govern America would lead to Nazism, rallied a church in New Hampshire to enlist in “God’s army” to be “soldiers for Christ,” appeared to be the anointed one of some religious right godfathers, and drew the wrath of the late Robert Novak, no less, because of his ties to Christian Reconstructionism. Or that John McCain wrapped his arms around Rod Parsley and Hagee, or that even Rudy Giuliani sought and gained Robertson’s blessing. And that was just ’08; it’s all been going on much longer than that.  While GOP candidates’ cultivation of conservative evangelicals is not a surprise, it is a good thing that it’s being discussed more. Perhaps, if nothing else, it will put the lid on the inevitable “is the religious right dead?” piece.

Emphasis Mine