Another nail has been driven into the anti-science coffin of global warming deniers. A peer-reviewed nail. Tomorrow a study will be published by the United States National Academy of Sciences.
James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, describes the findings in "Climate change is here -- and worse than we thought."
In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.
This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.
The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.
These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.
Hansen uses a dice metaphor to communicate what human-caused global warming is doing to the odds of extreme weather events happening.
Twenty-four years ago, I introduced the concept of “climate dice” to help distinguish the long-term trend of climate change from the natural variability of day-to-day weather. Some summers are hot, some cool. Some winters brutal, some mild. That’s natural variability.
But as the climate warms, natural variability is altered, too. In a normal climate without global warming, two sides of the die would represent cooler-than-normal weather, two sides would be normal weather, and two sides would be warmer-than-normal weather. Rolling the die again and again, or season after season, you would get an equal variation of weather over time.
But loading the die with a warming climate changes the odds. You end up with only one side cooler than normal, one side average, and four sides warmer than normal. Even with climate change, you will occasionally see cooler-than-normal summers or a typically cold winter. Don’t let that fool you.
Our new peer-reviewed study, published by the National Academy of Sciences, makes clear that while average global temperature has been steadily rising due to a warming climate (up about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century), the extremes are actually becoming much more frequent and more intense worldwide.
When we plotted the world’s changing temperatures on a bell curve, the extremes of unusually cool and, even more, the extremes of unusually hot are being altered so they are becoming both more common and more severe.
The change is so dramatic that one face of the die must now represent extreme weather to illustrate the greater frequency of extremely hot weather events.
Last year the National Academy of Sciences reviewed the state of global warming science in response to a request from Congress. A Washington Post editorial written after the study was released said "Climate change denial becomes harder to justify."
That's even more true, given Hansen's study. Here's some excerpts from the editorial.
“CLIMATE CHANGE is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”
So says — in response to a request from Congress — the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the country’s preeminent institution chartered to provide scientific advice to lawmakers.
...None of this should come as a surprise. None of this is news. But it is newsworthy, sadly, because the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved so far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change.
Seizing on inevitable points of uncertainty in something as complex as climate science, and on misreported pseudo-scandals among a few scientists, Republican members of Congress, presidential candidates and other leaders pretend that the dangers of climate change are hypothetical and unproven and the causes uncertain.
Not so, says the National Research Council. “Although the scientific process is always open to new ideas and results, the fundamental causes and consequences of climate change have been established by many years of scientific research, are supported by many different lines of evidence, and have stood firm in the face of careful examination, repeated testing, and the rigorous evaluation of alternative theories and explanation.”
Climate-change deniers, in other words, are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three. And their recalcitrance is dangerous, the report makes clear, because the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be — and the more drastic the needed response.
[DJ, your comment hasn't been published because once again you've forgotten this blog's comment policy for anti-science global warming deniers like yourself.
If you want to challenge a peer-reviewed scientific study that supports the science of global warming, you need to "sign" your skepticism with your real identity. Send me your Facebook profile or other proof of your name, background, etc. I'll then include that with each of your comments.
James Hansen and other scientists do this. They put their name and credibility behind their positions. So do I, when I write a post. I don't hide behind an acronym like "DJ" or "Big Oil."
Also, a peer-reviewed study needs to be criticized by reference to another peer-reviewed study. Solid research can't be refuted by crap opinions.
So I await proof of your real identity and citations to peer-reviewed scientific research. Otherwise I'm not interested in having my blog be used as a platform for disseminating lies and disinformation about global warming.
Suggestion: head to Blogger and start your own blog if you really want to post whatever untruths you want to on the Internet. Then let the "market" tell you how popular your views are.
My blogs get thousands of page views a day because I've done my best over almost a decade to write stuff that is factual, interesting, and entertaining. Try it yourself. Particularly the factual part.]
Posted by: DJ | August 05, 2012 at 12:57 PM
OK, the scientific community generally agrees we are wrecking the planet. There will be storms, droughts and crop failures. New diseases will flourish as will the old ones. Many millions and perhaps billions will die. Miami will be a sunken wreckage. Bangladesh will be gone. New York will be a city of canals like Venice with cabbies wearing striped shirts pushing boats around with long poles, and Venice won't even exist. Even so, nothing of substance is being done about this impending disaster. Why do you suppose this is so?
I mean, if a giant asteroid was heading for the Earth at 25,000 mph I'm sure there would be an international body of scientists and engineers trying to figure out how to deflect or blow the thing up. Everybody would be on board because the threat of annihilation would be clear.
So, even though there is this consensus there does not seem to be much cohesive urgency. This leads me to think that global warming is still a theory in the minds of scientists even though many agree with it.
See what I mean?
Posted by: tucson | August 06, 2012 at 11:09 AM
tucson, I do see what you mean. You could be right about scientists being almost as unable as everybody else to really emotionally FEEL the need to act now and fast on the dangers of global warming.
I've read several articles about why it's tough for people to get as alarmed about global warming as they would be if an asteroid was about to hit Earth. Some of this has to do with the gradual approach of global warming, compared to the evident speed of an asteroid.
Beth Gardiner wrote about this in "We're All Idiots About Global Warming."
CLIMATE CHANGE is staring us in the face. The science is clear, and the need to reduce planet-warming emissions has grown urgent. So why, collectively, are we doing so little about it?
Yes, there are political and economic barriers, as well as some strong ideological opposition, to going green. But researchers in the burgeoning field of climate psychology have identified another obstacle, one rooted in the very ways our brains work. The mental habits that help us navigate the local, practical demands of day-to-day life, they say, make it difficult to engage with the more abstract, global dangers posed by climate change.
Robert Gifford, a psychologist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia who studies the behavioral barriers to combating climate change, calls these habits of mind “dragons of inaction.” We have trouble imagining a future drastically different from the present. We block out complex problems that lack simple solutions. We dislike delayed benefits and so are reluctant to sacrifice today for future gains. And we find it harder to confront problems that creep up on us than emergencies that hit quickly.
“You almost couldn’t design a problem that is a worse fit with our underlying psychology,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
Posted by: Brian Hines | August 06, 2012 at 11:39 AM
In line with my explanation above about why "DJ's" anti-science comments aren't being published, Today I was listening to what I like to call Intelligent Talk Radio on Sirius XM's POTUS.
The host was asked why he doesn't have scientists on his show who don't believe in human-caused global warming. His response made a lot a sense. Basically it was:
"Of course I wouldn't have them on. Why would I? 97 or 98% of the world's leading climate scientists agree that global warming is happening, and humans are the cause because of greenhouse gas emissions.
This is too important for the world to give airtime to a few people who don't believe in the scientific consensus. I wouldn't have a scientist on who didn't believe in evolution, or in gravity."
Excellent! Anyone who doesn't accept the facts about global warming either is innocently or willfully ignorant. In either case, nobody has the right to make up their own facts about reality. Opinions, yes. Facts, no.
So I'm willing to publish comments with links to peer-reviewed scientific literature dealing with global climate change. But disinformation and right-wing propaganda, no way.
Posted by: Brian Hines | August 06, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Any serious attempt to get the problem of climate change under control will necessarily involve mandated sacrifice and legislated deprivation of goods and resources critical to economic growth. Incremental changes in pollution credits and asset allocation (in general) will accomplish nothing.
A lot of people will have to die, and not be replaced, before there is any hope of acceptable adaptation to the evolving environment. A starting point number will have 9 zeros following the most significant digit.
Posted by: Willie R | August 07, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I think Willie R is right. So, we can talk about global warming all we want but nothing is going to be done about it. Nature will do it for us.
Posted by: tucson | August 08, 2012 at 09:36 AM
OK, Brian, then I’ll shift gears away from the science and address the mechanics of the debate instead. By all accounts the consensus climate science community should have this one in the bag, but for the following.
The Sirius XM host said, “This is too important for the world to give airtime to a few people who don't believe in the scientific consensus. I wouldn't have a scientist on who didn't believe in evolution, or in gravity."
Why not, Mr. host? Isn’t live radio the perfect medium for an expert guest to shame a naysayer guest? If a majority of the public doubted evolution, evolutionary biologists would be getting in line to accept public debate invitations from the theory’s few detractors. And if a few charlatans were to convince the scientifically illiterate masses that the UN could turn off gravity with the flip of a switch, physicists would be climbing over each other to publicly shame these unqualified quacks on the biggest debate stage they could find. In both cases today’s viral media world would see public perception quickly and measurably correct.
But the 98% strong catastrophic AGW community? How, for years, have they increasingly tried to win in the arena of public perception? Declare an overwhelming and undeniable ‘expert majority’ then refuse live debate with the unqualified ‘expert minority.’ Not only does that make no sense strategically, it’s proven to be anything BUT a winning approach: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/9192494/Climate-scientists-are-losing-the-public-debate-on-global-warming.html
You don’t need to read that link to realize Hansen understands public perception is THE pivotal factor preventing effective coordinated action on climate. It’s right there in the title of his new study: “Public Perception of Climate Change and the New Climate Dice.” http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1204/1204.1286.pdf
So ask yourself, how can a movement that has issued hundreds of studies expect with one more study to win over a public with a short attention span? Why is a movement that’s underpinned by science – a movement with the goal of saving future generations – why is that movement unwilling to battle for public perception on a live stage? With an army 98% strong equipped with overwhelming scientific fact, is there no one chomping at the bit to visibly silence these propagandists? Where is the organized campaign to go on the offensive – to publicly and repeatedly come face to face with the detractors of science and take them down? The truth is on your side, Warmists, yet you’re unwilling to come out of your cubicles. You can save the world by doing so. What have you to fear?
In exchange for their vote, Brian, today’s indecisive public demands live public debate. Unwillingness to do so merely heightens suspicion and turns away support. Call it another “dragon of inaction” (to steal a phrase from the Beth Gardiner NYT piece you posted). Until then it’ll be business as usual.
Posted by: DJ | August 08, 2012 at 12:19 PM
DJ, you keep retreating onto even less defensible ground. So now you want scientists to spend much, or most, of their time debating anti-science zealots. When would they have time to do their science, if this happened?
Global warming deniers are well funded by the fossil fuel industry and Big Oil, a name you wear proudly, yet should be ashamed of. One of Skeptical Science's debunkings describes what is going on:
Critics of climate science, backed by the alarmed fossil fuel industry, sprang into action in the late 1980s, when the mounting evidence led to calls for international action to limit CO2 emissions. They did not argue, like Galileo, for a revolutionary hypothesis based on new evidence, because they could not agree on one among themselves. They produced little new evidence. Instead, they searched for flaws in others’ research, and launched a public relations campaign to sow public doubt.
Unlike Galileo, climate skeptics were not trying to overturn an ancient view. Their goal was the opposite: to restore the age-old conventional wisdom, that, by itself, “human activity was too feeble to sway natural systems”. In clinging to this old view, the skeptics' stance more closely resembles that of the Catholic Church, which fought Galileo’s views for another 100 years after the scientific establishment had embraced him.
4. Climate scientists, not skeptics, are being dragged into court Armed with ideological certainty, backed by powerful financial and political interests, skeptics have sought to not only discredit the science but impugn the researchers’ honesty. Unfounded accusations of deception and conspiracy fly freely, and some climate scientists even receive death threats. These attacks, according Dr. Naomi Oreskes, “have had a chilling effect... Intimidation works.”
In April 2011, personal attacks on scientists took a more ominous turn, when Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a fierce climate skeptic, launched a criminal fraud investigation of a prominent climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann. Multiple investigations by independent scientific bodies have found no trace of wrongdoing in Mann’s work, and a Virginia judge dismissed Attorney General’s subpoena request for lack of evidence. Yet, as of September 2011, Cuccinellis’ crusade continues.
Posted by: Brian Hines | August 08, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Climate scientists don’t have time to market their product? Who in their right mind would pour all their resources into ground breaking R&D – then refuse to effectively market superior results? Like it or not, with public perception being the linchpin, any movement on climate initiatives will hinge squarely on successful marketing. Al Gore and his AIT slide show army know this to be true, but their ineffectual results (public perception trends) reveal that one-sided lectures create few converts. Why? Because such events largely attract those who already believe.
Climate scientists – by and large government and/or university employees – already spend a good deal of their time doing public lectures, radio and TV interviews, Al Gore’s slide show, book tours, writing editorials, and blogging/twittering. They do all of it on friendly ground on the condition of not sharing the stage with a credentialed opposing view – and with all the persuasive power of the phrase, “I’m a climate scientist and I approve this message.”
Pepsi knows that to win converts you don’t just offer Pepsi to Pepsi drinkers. You lure in the Coke drinkers with a taste of Coke too. The confident don’t avoid their competition, they challenge them live in front of a mixed voting audience. Failure to do so under the guise “we don’t have the time” just doesn’t cut it.
(BTW, Brian, if you’d like to escape the shame of modernity and a lifestyle made possible by a fossil fuel economy I could recommend a long list of third world countries that go without).
Posted by: DJ | August 09, 2012 at 12:08 PM
DJ, you don't understand the scientific method, because you're so anti-science. I, on the other hand, completed the course requirements for a Ph.D. in Systems Science (didn't do the dissertation, because I moved out of Portland after getting a job in Salem).
Scientific theories are confirmed through an open process of research, dissemination of results, peer review of findings before being published, and such. Debating on a stage with a global warming denier who hasn't done any original peer-reviewed research isn't how science advances.
That may be how politics advances, how social change advances, but it isn't how scientific facts are discovered, debated, confirmed. I recommend that you learn a lot more about science and the scientific method before you leave any more uninformed comments on this blog, or elsewhere on the Internet.
Posted by: Brian Hines | August 09, 2012 at 12:56 PM
The disconnect between human individual's opinions and our fate as a species could not be clearer. Public opinion concerning what to do about global warming is completely irrelevant. Always will be.
We are not visitors on this planet. We are a symptom of it's very existence. Circumstances dictating our continued survival are forever out of our control. Rather, we are controlled by those circumstances, and so are our opinions.
Global warming may be a fact as laid out against our imaginary intellectual latticework, but there will never be a single thing we can do about it.
Just my own opinion, of course. Meanwhile, I am maintaining my carbon footprint by stubbornly insisting that I remain as comfortable as I can.
Posted by: Willie R | August 10, 2012 at 09:58 AM
Take a look at this essay:
This is what's wrong with the way climate science is presented!!! These fools are advocating PoMo as a way to get people to do something about climate change. That is exactly the wrong approach; PoMo is the reason climate change is being ignored and denied. Do climate psychologists really not realize what they're doing, or are they deniers in disguise?
Posted by: Collin Merenoff | May 27, 2013 at 05:01 AM