A Melting Antarctica Could Sink The World’s Coastlines Faster Than Predicted

Source: HuffPost

Author: Nick Visser

Emphasis Mine

A new report nearly doubles previous predictions for sea level rise if global emissions continue unabated, portending a doomsday scenario for many of the world’s coastal cities.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, looks toward the ice sheets of Antarctica, which by themselves may contribute more than three feet to sea level rise by 2100. Taken with other melting regions, including Greenland, seas could rise more than six feet, or two meters, by the end of the century.

David Pollard of Penn State University and co-author Rob DeConto said the “dire” predictions are nearly double those recently used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a worst-case scenario if humanity fails to curb emissions.

Dozens of low-lying metropolises, including Hong Kong, New York and Sydney, would be vulnerable to these rising seas. The authors warn that places like Boston could be faced with a sea level rise of more than five feet in the next century alone. Pollard said other potential effects, similar to the damaging storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, could contribute to the ballooning estimates for future flood losses.

A study published last month found sea levels were rising at the fastest rate since the founding of ancient Rome 2,800 years ago, spurred by the burning of fossil fuels. The authors of that report noted without the impact of humans, seas would be rising less rapidly, or possibly falling.

In an interview with The Guardian, DeConto said global warming could force “retreat” from cities, rather than the “engineering of defenses” to avoid the worst effects of sea level rise.

But the new models cited in Pollard and DeConto’s study, which use historical data from 130,000 years ago and 3 million years ago, when temperatures were warmer and seas were higher, could make a fight against the tides all for naught. The authors expanded the sea level rise estimates to the year 2500, and found that Antarctica could cause more than 50 feet of sea level rise alone.

Despite the doomsday-esque prediction, the planet still holds some hope to address the growing concerns. DeConto noted in a statement that if humans are able to slash emissions, most of the Antarctic would remain frozen.

Last year’s landmark climate accord forged in Paris could provide the groundwork toward limiting greenhouse gas emissions. World leaders have pledged to keep global warming below a threshold of 2 degrees Celsius. But the world isn’t there yet, and global temperature records — including the one set in February, the warmest such month on record continue to be broken.


February continues streak of record low Arctic sea ice extent


Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for February 2016 was 14.22 million square kilometers (5.48 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image


Source: Arctic Sea News


Emphasis Mine

Arctic sea ice was at a satellite-record low for the second month in a row. The first three weeks of February saw little ice growth, but extent rose during the last week of the month. Arctic sea ice typically reaches its maximum extent for the year in mid to late March.

Arctic sea ice extent for February averaged 14.22 million square kilometers (5.48 million square miles), the lowest February extent in the satellite record. It is 1.16 million square kilometers (448,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average of 15.4 million square kilometers (5.94 million square miles) and is 200,000 square kilometers (77,000 square miles) below the previous record low for the month recorded in 2005.

The first three weeks of February saw little ice growth, but extent rose during the last week of the month primarily due to growth in the Sea of Okhotsk (180,000 square kilometers or 70,000 square miles) and to a lesser extent in Baffin Bay (35,000 square kilometers or 13,500 square miles). Extent is presently below average in the Barents and Kara seas, as well as the Bering Sea and the East Greenland Sea. Extent decreased in the Barents and East Greenland seas during the month of February. In other regions, such as the Sea of Okhotsk, Baffin Bay, and the Labrador Sea, ice conditions are near average to slightly above average for this time of year. An exception is the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which remains largely ice free. In the Antarctic, sea ice reached its minimum extent for the year on February 19, averaging 2.6 million square kilometers (1 million square miles). It is the ninth lowest Antarctic sea ice minimum extent in the satellite record.

NASA and NOAA announced that January 2016 was the ninth straight month of record-breaking high surface temperatures for the globe. In terms of regional patterns, the Arctic stands out, with surface temperatures more than 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1951 to 1980 average. These high temperatures were in part responsible for the record low sea ice extent observed for January. Persistent warmth has continued into February; air temperatures at the 925 hPa level were 6 to 8 degrees Celsius (11 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981 to 2010 average over the central Arctic Ocean near the pole. The rate of ice growth for February was near average at 19,700 square kilometers (7,600 square miles) per day, compared to 20,200 square kilometers (7,800 square miles) per day for the 1981 to 2010 average. Atmospheric circulation patterns have also favored low sea ice extent, particularly in the Barents and Kara seas. Ice motion drift data derived from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) satellite and provided by the Centre ERS d’Archivage et de Traitement (CERSAT) show that since January 1, there has been cyclonic, or counterclockwise, sea ice motion in the Barents Sea helping to keep sea ice from advancing south. During the second half of January, an anti-cyclonic, or clockwise, circulation pattern developed in the Beaufort Sea, which subsequently strengthened and expanded to include most of the Arctic Ocean. This, combined with high pressure over Greenland and low pressure over Spitsbergen, has favored enhanced ice export out of Fram Strait, helping to flush old, thick ice out of the Arctic Ocean, leaving behind thinner ice that is more apt to melt away in summer. Whether this circulation pattern will continue and set the stage for very low September sea ice extent remains to be seen. February 2016 sea ice extent was the lowest in the satellite record at 14.22 million square kilometers (5.48 million square miles). The linear rate of decline for February is now 3.0 percent per decade.

Figure3_0301-350x270Figure 3. Monthly February sea ice extent for 1979 to 2016 shows a decline of 3.0 percent per decade.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Since 2003, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) onboard the NASA Aqua satellite has collected daily temperature and humidity profiles globally. Although the record is fairly short, AIRS data can provide insight into recent changes in Arctic climate. February average air temperatures, measured by AIRS at 925 hPa, are around 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 2003 to 2015 average over the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and the central Arctic Ocean. Above-average temperatures are also the rule over the Kara Sea and Northern Siberia (6 degrees Celsius or 11 degrees Fahrenheit above average). Regions with especially higher than average temperatures correspond to regions of low sea ice, demonstrating the role played by heat fluxes from open water areas. For example, the Sea of Okhotsk experienced below-average air temperatures, and also had above-average sea ice extents, whereas the Kara, Barents, and Bering seas and the Gulf of St. Lawrence had higher air temperatures compared to average, which coincides with lower than average sea ice extent.

A similar relationship is seen in the total precipitable water for February 2016. Precipitable water is the amount of water vapor in the atmospheric column totaled from the surface to the top of the troposphere, expressed as kilograms of water per square meter (one kilogram per square meter equals 1 millimeter of water depth). In February, areas with precipitable water between 12 percent (Bering Sea) to 70 percent (Kara Sea) above the 2003 to 2015 February average corresponded to regions with below-average sea ice extent. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, and with more water vapor in the air, there is a stronger emission of longwave radiation to the surface. Conversely, the observation that above-average amounts of water vapor are found over areas of reduced sea ice extent points to a role of local evaporation, and evaporation is a cooling process that by itself will favor ice growth.

Sea ice reformed or refroze later than average throughout most of the Arctic, especially in the Kara and Barents seas where the freeze-up happened about two months later than average. Ice was also late to form in the Beaufort, Chukchi, East Siberian, and Laptev seas, between ten and forty days later than average. In contrast, the timing of freeze-up over the central Arctic Ocean near the pole was near average, as was also the case in Baffin Bay and parts of Hudson Bay. When freeze-up happens late, the ice has less time to thicken before the melt season starts, leading to a thinner ice cover that is more prone to melting out in summer.

Figure 5. This images shows freeze-up anomalies in the Arctic for 2015. Reds indicate areas where freeze-up began later than average and blues indicate freeze-up beginning earlier than average. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center, data provided by J. Miller/T. Markus, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center High-resolution imag
Figure 5. This images shows freeze-up anomalies in the Arctic for 2015. Reds indicate areas where freeze-up began later than average and blues indicate freeze-up beginning earlier than average.
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center, data provided by J. Miller/T. Markus, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
High-resolution imag




Bill Nye: Republicans Could Lose the Presidential Election Simply by Denying Climate Science

“Can a conservative win the national election for president and deny climate change and alienate millennials?” Nye asks.

Source: AlterNet

Author: David Edwards

Emphasis Mine

Science advocate Bill Nye explained on Tuesday that many parts of the United States were expected to see record temperatures over the Christmas holiday because of weather patterns associated with climate change and El Niño.

The month of December has already seen about 6,000 record-breaking warm temperatures across the United States, and experts predict that there could be dozens more before the end of the year.

But Nye pointed out during an interview with MSNBC that meteorologists were refusing to utter the words “climate change” to their viewers.

“We have a situation where no one in regular television will say the phrase ‘climate change,’” Nye declared, calling out MSNBC meteorologists by name.

Nobody will mention this phrase. But the world’s getting warmer so when there’s an El Niño event, which is where the surface of the Pacific Ocean gets a little warmer, yes, you get these two things here in North America. You get more moisture in the atmosphere out west, which generally leads to more snow, which is what we have.”

“And then you get the warm weather back east,” he continued. “Since there’s more heat energy in the atmosphere, these two phenomena are amplified.”

The term climate change was accurate because “the local climates are changing,” Nye said. “So why nobody will say anything about this is what I would call charming and also troubling.”

“I think it’s been discussed extensively,” insisted MSNBC guest anchor Luke Russert.

Considering the political impact, Nye asserted that the eventual Republican presidential nominee may have already lost the election because none of the remaining GOP candidates accept climate science. 

“I have a question for you, hard hitting political journalist,” Nye said to Russert. “Yes, a conservative can win the primaries without any millennial votes, right? Nobody in their 20s and early 30s is needed to win the primaries.”

“But can a conservative win the national election for president and deny climate change and alienate millennials?” he continued. “It’s a near-run thing. It’s a very close call.”

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bill-nye-republicans-could-lose-presidential-election-simply-denying-climate-science?akid=13811.123424.ZuV87n&rd=1&src=newsletter1047918&t=24

U.S. Leadership and the Historic Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change


Source: White House Press Secretary

Emphasis Mine


Today, more than 190 countries came together to adopt the most ambitious climate change agreement in history. The Paris Agreement establishes a long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review.

The Agreement provides strong assurance to developing countries that they will be supported as they pursue clean and climate resilient growth.  The deal builds on the unprecedented participation of 187 countries that submitted post-2020 climate action targets in advance of the meeting, and establishes a framework to ratchet up ambition by driving down global emissions in the decades to come.

This new global framework lays the foundation for countries to work together to put the world on a path to keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and sets an ambitious vision to go even farther than that. This Agreement sends a strong signal to the private sector that the global economy is moving towards clean energy, and that through innovation and ingenuity, we can achieve our climate objectives while creating new jobs, raising standards of living and lifting millions out of poverty.

The Paris Agreement is also the culmination of a broader effort by nations, businesses, cities, and citizens to reorient the global economy to a path of low-carbon growth – progress that will accelerate as a result of the Agreement’s provisions on mitigation ambition, transparency, and climate finance.

An Ambitious Agreement

The Paris Agreement sets forward an ambitious vision for tackling climate change globally. This includes:

  • Strengthening long-term ambition: The Agreement sets a goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and for the first time agrees to pursue efforts to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also acknowledges that in order to meet that target, countries should aim to peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
  • Establishing a universal approach for all countries: The Agreement moves beyond dividing the world into outdated categories of developed and developing countries and instead directs all parties to prepare, communicate and maintain successive and ambitious nationally determined climate targets. This approach – where countries set non-binding targets for themselves – paved the way for 187 mitigation contributions this year and will form the basis for a long-term, durable system to ratchet down emissions.
  • Locking in five year target cycles: Under the Agreement, all countries will communicate their climate targets every five years,
    • starting in 2020. Targets must be submitted 9-12 months before they are finalized, creating time for other countries and civil society to seek clarity about the targets submitted.
    • Ratcheting up ambition over time: Each target should reflect progress from the prior one, reflecting the highest possible ambition that each country can achieve. This durable, long term framework will drive greater climate ambition as technologies improve and circumstances change.
    • Rigorous assessment of global climate action: To help inform further domestic and global efforts, the Agreement puts in place a mechanism to assess collective progress on global mitigation action using the best available science. This process will begin in 2018 and occur every five years to help inform countries’ future targets and strategies.
    • Sending a market signal on innovation and technology: The mitigation components of the Agreement, combined with a broad push on innovation and technology, will help significantly scale up energy investments over the coming years – investments that will accelerate cost reductions for renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions.  This set of actions will create a mutually reinforcing cycle in which enhanced mitigation increases investment and enhanced investment allows additional mitigation by driving down costs.

    A Transparent and Accountable Agreement

    The Paris Agreement establishes a robust transparency system to help make sure that all countries are living up to their commitments

    This will send a market signal to the private sector and investors that countries are serious about meeting the targets they have set.  These steps include:

    • Putting in place an enhanced transparency system for all countries: A critical component of the Agreement, the transparency framework agreed to by parties ensures that all countries are on a level playing field with the United States with flexibility for those developing countries with less capacity.
    • Requiring countries to report on greenhouse gas inventories: For the first time, the Agreement requires all countries to report on national inventories of emissions by source. This breakthrough will give unprecedented clarity to the public’s understanding of emissions and pollution in countries throughout the world.
    • Requiring countries to report on mitigation progress: Also for the first time, countries are required to report on information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving the targets and strategies countries have put forward.
    • Establishing a technical review process with agreed upon standards: To help ensure countries are meeting transparency requirements, countries are subject to a comprehensive technical expert review process that analyzes whether reporting is in line with the standards adopted. Countries will also engage in a multilateral review with their peers to share their experiences and lessons learned.

    An Agreement for a Low-Carbon Future

    Tackling climate change will require shifting global investment flows towards clean energy, forest protection, and climate-resilient infrastructure.  Developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable, will need support from the global community as they pursue clean and resilient growth. The Paris Agreement makes real progress on this front by:

    • Providing a strong, long-term market signal that the world is locking in a low-carbon future: The submission of ambitious national targets in five-year cycles gives investors and technology innovators a clear signal that the world will demand clean power plants, energy efficient factories and buildings, and low-carbon transportation not just in the short-term but in the decades to come.  This will make it far easier to draw in the largest pools of capital that need long-term certainty in order to invest in clean technologies.
    • Giving confidence that existing financial commitments will be met: Many developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, came to Paris seeking reassurance that a global climate deal is not just about the big emitters but also supports their transition to a low-carbon growth path.  In this regard, we are already making strong progress towards meeting the existing goal to mobilize $100 billion from a wide variety of sources, including both public and private, by 2020. The Paris outcome provides further confidence that this goal will be met and that climate finance will continue to flow.  For the first time, the Agreement recognizes the reality that countries like China are already joining the base of donor countries contributing to climate finance and encourages developing countries to contribute to climate finance, while reaffirming that the United States and other developed economies should continue to take the lead.These components of the Agreement build on steps the United States took in Paris to demonstrate its commitment to mobilizing finance from public and private sources for both mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries. These steps include:
      • Launching Mission Innovation: On the first day of the conference, President Obama joined other world leaders to launch Mission Innovation, a landmark commitment to accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation, and dramatically expand the new technologies that will define a clean, affordable, and reliable global power mix.  Twenty countries representing around 80% of global clean energy research and development (R&D) funding base committed to double their R&D investments over five years.  In addition, a coalition of 28 global investors led by Bill Gates committed to support early-stage breakthrough energy technologies in countries that have joined Mission Innovation.
      • Doubling U.S. grant-based public finance for adaptation by 2020: Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States will double its grant-based, public climate finance for adaptation by 2020. As of 2014, the United States invested more than $400 million per year of grant-based resources for climate adaptation in developing countries. These investments provide vulnerable countries with support – through both bilateral and multilateral channels – to reduce climate risks in key areas, including infrastructure, agriculture, health and water services.
        An Agreement Complemented by Subnational, Private Sector and Citizen ActionBecause the Agreement should serve as a floor for future ambitious climate action, complementary actions outside of the Agreement by sub-national governments, enterprising businesses, investors and entrepreneurs, and an enlightened global public are important complements to the Paris Agreement. As part of these global efforts, Americans have demonstrated their dedication to climate action through a wide variety of commitments.

        • Compact of Mayors: 117 United States mayors have signed onto the Compact of Mayors pledge. The Compact establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities’ collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent, public reporting of their efforts.
        • Under-2 MOU: States including California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York have signed onto the Under-2 MOU.   The MOU commits signatories to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80-95% below 1990 levels, share technology and scientific research, expand zero-emission vehicles, improve air quality by reducing short-lived climate pollutants and assess projected impacts of climate change on communities.
          • American Business Act on Climate Pledge: 154 companies have signed the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge.  These companies have operations in all 50 states, employ nearly 11 million people, represent more than $4.2 trillion in annual revenue and have a combined market capitalization of over $7 trillion. As part of this initiative, each company expressed support for an ambitious Paris Agreement and announced significant pledges to reduce their emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses and tackle climate change.
          • American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge: 311 colleges and universities representing over 4 million students have demonstrated their commitment to climate action by joining the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge.


Big Oil Has Spent $62 Million To Buy Republican Silence On Climate Change

Source: OccupyDemocrats.com

Author:Shannon Argueta

Emphasis Mine 

It’s no secret that the Republican Party does not believe in climate change, over the last decade or so, they have made that abundantly clear. During President Obama’s tenure as Commander-and-Chief, he has actively fought to reduce our emissions in an effort to reduce our damage to the planet, but the GOP has fought him every step of the way. It’s also no secret that the right actively fights to against climate change legislation, because they are stuffing their pockets with money from Big Oil. Now we are learning that Republican presidential candidates are reaping huge benefits from their pro-pollution policies.

The Guardian released their findings today, from a study they conducted with Greenpeace and the Center for Media and Democracy, that was based on filings from the Federal Election Commission which proved that the GOP is receiving an astronomical amount of money from the fossil fuel industries. Eight out of 17 candidates have had at least $62 million pumped into their campaigns from just 17 ultra-rich families and business connected to non-renewable energy companies.

Three of the Republican candidates have received the most money from these companies and they are also three of the most anti-environment candidates: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry.

Former Texas governor, Rick Perry, is the third largest recipient of money from the fossil fuel industry. The biggest super PAC supporting his campaign, Opportunity and Freedom, has been given $6 million from just one perso-: Kelsy Warren. Not only has Warren donated the most money, but he employs Rick Perry on the board of his oil and natural gas company, Energy Transfer Partners. In return for his very generous campaign contributions, Perry hired Warren to work as his campaign finance chairman.

The former governor has a long history of denying the existence of climate change. During Perry’s 2012 failed bid for the White House, he claimed that scientists were lying about global warming when he said,”There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.” He has also said that he would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency if he were elected to the Oval Office. His solution for a destructive drought that hit his state when he was governor, was to issue an official proclamation praying for rain. His prayers went unanswered and his state stayed in a persistent drought for months after his “Days of Prayer.”

Former Florida governor and GOP presidential favorite, Jeb Bush, is the second largest receiver of money from the destructive industry. Bush’s super PACs have been given more than $13 million from just nine donors. One of his largest donors — $2 million — is Frank Rooney, of Rooney Holdings. Rooney serves on the boards of two oil and gas companies: Laredo Petroleum and Helmerich & Payne Inc. The latter is one of the world’s largest offshore drilling contractors. The Guardian explains who some of his other mega-rich donors are:

Richard Kinder, co-founder of Kinder Morgan, an energy infrastructure company that owns 84,000 miles of pipeline; the oil magnate Trevor Rees-Jones; and Dallas oil billionaire Ray Hunt.

Jeb Bush has said in the past that he believes that the climate is changing, but he doesn’t really know what is causing it. “The climate is changing, whether men are doing it or not,he said during his first campaign stop. So even though he tries to sound more reasonable than the other members of his party, he still ignores the fact that the vast majority of the world’s scientists are telling him that humans are causing the damage to the atmosphere.

Finally, the first biggest recipient of money from the industries causing the most destruction to the earth is Senator Ted Cruz. The Texas Senator is, perhaps, the biggest climate change-denier in the government, so it makes sense that he is also reaping the most from his denials.

Cruz has received $36.5 million from just FOUR wealthy donors from the industry; that’s more than half of all the given to all of the candidates. The elite Wilks family of Texas have given $15 million to his super PACs. The Wilks family founded, Frac Tech, a company that makes the equipment needed for fracking. Another donor gave Cruz $11 million:

Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund manager based in Long Island, has given a whopping $11m to Cruz Super Pacs. Mercer’s fund, Renaissance Technologies,has major financial interests in big oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron,Callon Petroleum and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.

Clearly Ted Cruz’s denial of climate change has been very, very profitable for him and deny he does. “Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers,according to the senator. He also said,”The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that – that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.” these are just two of a plethora of statements by Cruz.

The other Republican candidates receiving money are:

 “Carly Fiorina ($.2m), Lindsey Graham ($1m), Bobby Jindal ($1.2m), Donald Trump ($1.8m) and Scott Walker ($1.8m).”

Republicans are the sole receivers of donations from the pollution industry. They haven’t given money to the Democratic candidates, because they know our candidates are not going to damage our environment further, so they have no reason to spend money on Bernie Sander, Hillary Clinton or the other candidates on the left.

So the question becomes: What do these donors hope to receive in return for all of the money they are sending? David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, says nothing:

“way too much was read into numbers like these. Most people at this stage of the election cycle are giving because they believe in what the candidate stands for and their policies, rather than because they are trying to influence those policies.”

Connor Gibson, the Greenpeace researcher who oversaw the Greenpeace/Center for Media and Democracy study, does not agree:

“To see so much money flowing into the war chests of viable Republican candidates so early in the race from people linked to climate change pollution is very concerning...Will these candidates be expected to roll back federal oversight and regulation of fracking and methane leaks? Will they be more likely to allow drilling in the Arctic at a time when scientists are warning that fossil fuels must be kept in the ground?”

It’s very clear at this point that the donations are not for what the candidates believe in but to dictate what the candidates believe in. Denying climate change and disseminating ignorance among the voting base represents massive profits for the fossil fuel industry. They realize their time is running short, and will stop at nothing to milk the most that they can from our people and our land. It’s far beyond time we put a stop to the pernicious influence of dark money in our politics.



Three Things to Know About That Terrifying New Climate Study

Science and politics are both in play as scientists warn of dire sea-level rise.

from hurricane Sandy
from hurricane Sandy

Source: TakePart

Author: Emily Gertz

Emphasis Mine

James Hansen is one of the most respected and recognizable names in climate science.

When this ex-NASA researcher speaks, reasonable people listen.  That good reputation has made his latest research finding that much more frightening.

That good reputation has made his latest research finding that much more frightening.

According to a new paper by Hansen and 16 equally expert coauthors, seas could rise by 10 feet within 50 to 85 years, making coastal communities and cities worldwide uninhabitable.

Whether this is good or bad depends on what you think and believe about the intersection of science and climate change with politics. But this much is true: The international climate action process has not slowed global warming. And Hansen and colleagues have been transparent about their motivations.is one of the most respected and recognizable names in climate science. When this ex-NASA researcher speaks, reasonable people listen.

That good reputation has made his latest research finding that much more frightening.

According to a new paper by Hansen and 16 equally expert coauthors, seas could rise by 10 feet within 50 to 85 years, making coastal communities and cities worldwide uninhabitable.

So, Why Should You Care? That’s much sooner than the forecast of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the climate science group of the United Nations, which informs international climate treaty negotiations. IPCC scientists predict sea levels could rise to 2.6 feet by 2100, much lower and later than the Hansen report’s projections.

Hansen and colleagues concluded that to avoid this crisis, global temperature rise must be kept at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) or lower, rather than the informal international target of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).

RELATED: Sea-Level Rise Poses Hard Choice for Two Neighborhoods: Rebuild or Retreat?

To make that happen, nations would need to slash fossil fuel use nearly to zero within 30 years.

In June, the G-7 major industrialized nations, including the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany, committed to fully phasing out coal, oil, and gas-fueled energy by 2100.

Here are three things to keep in mind about Hansen’s worrying new study.

1. This research paper hasn’t been peer-reviewed—yet.

The peer-review process for traditional scientific journals is meant to weed out poor research from stronger. It’s not a perfect process, but it’s valuable, and it can take many months to play out.

So Hansen and colleagues intend to release their work this week in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion, an open-access journal where peer review happens after publication, in public.


Putting the findings out ahead of peer review isn’t traditional for scientists of Hansen’s stature and has increased the buzz around the paper and its conclusion about catastrophically high seas in less than a century.

2. A consensus among scientists regarding the study’s conclusions about ice melt and sea-level rise hasn’t been reached.

Scientists are still learning how to judge the speed at which the world’s land-bound ice is melting and will continue to melt in coming decades and centuries. We’re also still remarkably ignorant about the oceans, including how currents are affected by changing water conditions.  All these unknowns make melting glaciers and sea-level rise contested arenas in the research world, with significant disagreements among respectable experts over whose ideas are wrong and whose are right. That’s how science rolls.  To reach their conclusions, Hansen and colleagues looked at recent figures on the faster-than-anticipated rate at which the Greenlandic and Antarctic ice caps are melting. They also looked at modeling data and the prehistoric record for the last time Earth’s surface temperatures were as warm as they are now—and sea levels were 30 feet higher.

Based on what those data showed, the authors posit that if the world stays on its course of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature rise, contemporary ice caps could hit a tipping point and melt exponentially faster than the more linear rate projected by the IPCC.

This isn’t a conclusion that a majority of climate scientists and ice experts yet accept, but it’s an analysis that warrants consideration.

3. Hansen and colleagues stated plainly that they published their findings quickly, before peer review, to influence the outcome of the December international climate treaty conference in Paris.

Already some informed observers are suggesting that the unorthodox publishing approach may backfire.  Whether this is good or bad depends on what you think and believe about the intersection of science and climate change with politics. But this much is true: The international climate action process has not slowed global warming. And Hansen and colleagues have been transparent about their motivations.

See: http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/07/22/3-things-know-about-terrifying-new-climate-study?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2015-07-22

Rush Limbaugh’s Anti-Pope Freakout Proves That He Needs a Crash Course In Reading Comprehension

His distortions have stopped making sense altogether.

Source: Salon, via AlterNet

Author: Steve Neumann

Emphasis Mine

Shortly before beginning to write this, I read a transcript of a recent Rush Limbaugh show titled “The Pope’s ‘Science Advisor’ Is an Atheist Who Worships the Earth,” which begins:


“My friends, not one to let things go, I have dug deep, and I have found out practically everything there is to know about the science advisor to Pope Francis on this encyclical. And the main thing you need to know, the guy’s an atheist.”

Why is that the main thing we need to know? Because atheists are evil, of course, and therefore their judgment can’t be trusted. But then Limbaugh says “the word for it in the story that I found, one of the most credible stories, is a pantheist, which is a variation of atheist.” Really? An a-theist is someone who doesn’t believe in God, but a pan-theist is someone who believes that God is the universe, or that the universe is a manifestation of God. (You know, “pan” means “all” and “theos” means “God,” and all that.) But Limbaugh says that a “pantheist is somebody that believes the earth is a living organism that has the equivalent of a brain and reacts to horrible things done to it by humans,” and that in this view “the earth becomes the deity and there is no God.”

Limbaugh’s deep digging raises more questions than it answers. Does the Pope’s science advisor, Hans Schellnhuber, really believe that the Earth is a living organism like you or me — or God? And if he does, does it matter? Do only atheists believe in anthropogenic global warming? If so, how do you explain someone like Katharine Hayhoe, an Evangelical Christian who “believes her religious faith obligates her to spread the word about climate change”? Can we trust her judgment? Limbaugh should really worry more about her because, as member of their tribe, she has the power to change Christian minds. Christians certainly aren’t going to be swayed by an evil atheist pantheist.

A search for Katharine Hayhoe on Limbaugh’s site turned up only one mention of her name. In a 2011 show where he interviews Marc Morano, who runs the climate denier blogClimate Depot, Limbaugh brings up the fact that Hayhoe was slotted to have a chapter in an upcoming book by Newt Gingrich:

“This woman is writing Newt’s chapter on climate change in the new book. She says, ‘It is primarily laypeople like talk show hosts who are perpetuating the idea that there is no scientific consensus.’ Marc Morano, our man in Washington, claims that Newt’s new book has a chapter written by a babe named Hayhoe — no offense, Reverend Jackson — that man-made global warming is happening, caused by man.”

Limbaugh doesn’t try to understand how an Evangelical Christian could believe that “among climate scientists, people who spend their lives researching our world, there’s no debate regarding the reality of climate change and the fact that humans are the primary cause.” He doesn’t even mention the fact that she’s a Christian. It turns out that just mentioning her on his show was enough to discredit her, though; Gingrich subsequently cut her chapter out of his book completely.

But back to Schellnhuber. Does he really believe in her holiness, Mother Gaia? I’m not 100 percent sure, but I doubt that he believes the Earth is literally a god to be worshipped. In a Nature article from 1999, titled “‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican Revolution,” Schellnhuber argues that “sophisticated information-compression techniques including simulation modelling are now ushering in a second ‘Copernican’ revolution” that strives to understand the Earth holistically, hoping to develop concepts for global environmental management from that. A holistic approach is common in medicine, for example: the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease. A holistic approach to understanding the Earth seeks to take into account every relevant factor, too. Doesn’t seem too controversial.

Where people like Limbaugh really blow a gasket is when Schellnhuber writes that “ecosphere science is therefore coming of age, lending respectability to its romantic companion, Gaia theory.” To Limbaugh, this is an admission of allegiance to a pagan religion. But the “ecosphere” is just the biosphere of the earth, with emphasis on the interaction between its living and nonliving components. Gaia theory is a hypothesis formulated by the chemist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, that proposed that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

The philosopher Michael Ruse notes in 2013 that “as science, Gaia never really made it, but it has provoked important scientific work nonetheless. The world as a whole, its homeostasis or lack of it, is interesting, important, and worthy of investigation,” and that even if Gaia theory hasn’t been accepted by most scientists, he says that “‘Earth Systems Science’ flourishes.” A charitable reading of Schellnhuber would lead us to conclude that he’s not shilling for a new religion. Consider his use of the adjective “romantic” to describe Gaia theory. He’s not taking Gaia theory literally, he’s saying that it’s “suggestive of an idealized view of reality,” as my Oxford dictionary defines “romantic.”

In other words, he’s using it as a metaphor to help him understand the issue. Schellnhuber also says that this “hotly debated ‘geophysiological’ approach to Earth-system analysis argues that the biosphere contributes in an almost cognizant way to self-regulating feedback mechanisms that have kept the Earth’s surface environment stable and habitable for life.” Notice that he uses scare quotes to describe Lovelock’s idea of studying the Earth’s “body.” Schellnhuber also utilizes metaphorical language again when he says that the Earth acts in an almost cognizant manner. That is, almost but not really.

Science thrives on the use of metaphor and analogy, especially when trying to communicate complex ideas and processes. Think of Richard Dawkins’s concept of the “selfish gene,” or pretty much anything written on physics by Brian Greene. In an episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” Greene has a cameo appearance where he uses a metaphor to introduce a wacky quantum effect:

“You can think of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle much like the special order menu that you find in certain Chinese restaurants, where you have some dishes in column A and other dishes in column B, and if you order the first dish in column A you can’t order the corresponding dish in column B — that’s sort like the Uncertainty Principle.”

Does Greene really believe that quantum physics is like a Chinese menu? Do I really need to answer that question?

I don’t think these subtleties are lost on people like Limbaugh; I think they believe they’re used as subterfuge by what they consider to be evil, liberal secular fascists to control the world. But that still doesn’t explain people like Katharine Hayhoe, who recently commented on the Pope’s “Laudato Si” encyclical at fellow Evangelical and scientist Francis Collins’s BioLogos website. The title of her post is “Why All Christians Should Heed Pope Francis’ Call to ‘Care for Our Common Home,’” where she writes:

“This is why the Pope’s unprecedented encyclical on climate change matters so much. It makes a moral call for action based on the fundamental premises of the Christian faith – premises so fundamental that we can all, and must all, agree…In this world, there is only really one thing we Christians are called to do: to fearlessly express Christ’s love to others. In the case of climate change, how do we express this love? Through acknowledging the reality of the issue; supporting action to help others who are being harmed now, today, and in the future; and taking our responsibility to care for God’s creation seriously.”

I think it’s clear that the Earth system science that people like Schellnhuber and others engage in makes generous use of metaphors to both understand the issue of global climate change and to communicate that understanding to the rest of us. Whether it’s called “Gaia” or “God’s creation,” it’s a poetic metaphor that has the power to motivate us to make the necessary changes because it shows how much we’re actually invested in it.

Speaking of poetic metaphors, the late poet Denise levertov, a former agnostic who converted to Catholicism in her sixties, combines Schellnhuber’s Gaia and Hayhoe’s Creation in her poem “Tragic Error” from her 1992 book Evening Train:

Surely we were to have been
earth’s mind, mirror, reflective source.
Surely our task
was to have been
to love the earth,
to dress and keep it like Eden’s garden. 

That would have been our dominion:
to be those cells of the earth’s body that could
perceive and imagine, could bring the planet
into the haven it is to be known. 

But as is usual for Limbaugh and others like FoxNews hosts and pundits, the invocation of an atheist who believes in Gaia is meant to instill fear in the GOP base, motivating them to vote against the Democratic Devil.


See: http://www.alternet.org/rush-limbaughs-anti-pope-freakout-proves-he-needs-crash-course-reading-comprehension?akid=13253.123424.Drd92x&rd=1&src=newsletter1038524&t=3

“One Nation, Under Sputnik” – what If Sputnik occurred today …


October 1957

The Soviet Union announced Oct 4 that they – as part of the International Geophysical Year – had successfully launched an artificial satellite into earth orbit.  This creates a difficult situation for the USA, as:

1) If true, this means the Soviets have rockets which have the capability to deliver nuclear bombs to any location in North America.

2) The USSR gains substantial international prestige from the achievement.

 Sputnik ( meaning satellite) transmits a radio signal which has been monitored on earth.

The event has created great concern and anxiety in this country, and there has even been discussion of expanding our own satellite program.  Some members of Congress are reluctant to spend money on it, however, and some even question that Sputnik actually exists.  “This is just more Russian propaganda.  How could the Godless Communists have made such a technological achievement?”, asks a member of the House.  Another source critics of an expanded US space effort believe is an amateur astronomer who states the radio signals are not man made but emanate from a distant star.  “Why spend our tax dollars on something that isn’t even real?”

Spokespersons from the clergy question that God would have allowed such a thing to occur, and object to any new program.  To embark on such a mission would give more credibility to science and less to religion, they observe, and might even lead to the teaching of evolution in public schools.  What we need is more prayer, not more science and engineering they plead.  We must pray that the satellite is not real, and if it is, then for the safety of our country.

Post Scriptum: It has been observed that the launch of Sputnik came just a few years after the words “Under God” were inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and “In God We Trust” adopted  as the national motto.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sputnik_1

Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit Their Highest Point In 800,000 Years

never in the history of the planet have humans altered the atmosphere as radically as we are doing so now.”

shutterstock_72953344-638x514Source: Think progress

Author: Kiley Kroh

The concentration of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that drives climate change, hit 402 parts per million this week — the highest level recorded in at least 800,000 years.

The recordings came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which marked another ominous milestone last May when the 400 ppm threshold was crossed for the first time in recorded history.

402 ppm

Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels spike every spring but this year the threshold was crossed in March, two months earlier than last year. In fact, it’s happening “at faster rates virtually every decade,” according to James Butler, Director of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division, a trend that “is consistent with rising fossil fuel emissions.”

400 ppm was long considered a very serious measurement but it isn’t the end — it’s just a marker on the road to ever-increasing carbon pollution levels, Butler explained in an interview on NOAA’s website. “It is a milestone, marking the fact that humans have caused carbon dioxide concentrations to rise 120 ppm since pre-industrial times, with over 90 percent of that in the past century alone. We don’t know where the tipping points are.”

When asked if the 400 ppm will be reached even earlier next year, Butler responded simply, “Yes. Every year going forward for a long time.”

While atmospheric CO2 levels never approached 400 ppm in the 800,000 years of detailed records scientists have, there is evidence that the last time the Earth experienced such high concentrations was actually several million years ago. Writing about the 400 ppm recording last year, climatologist Peter Gleick pointed to UCLA research “that suggested we would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels approaching today’s levels” and another article in the journal Paleoceanography “on paleoclimatic records that suggest CO2 concentrations (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) may have been around 400 ppm between 2 and 4.6 million years ago.”

But whether it’s 800,000 years ago or 15 million years ago, Gleick emphasizes that “the more important point to remember is that never in the history of the planet have humans altered the atmosphere as radically as we are doing so now.”

And this uncharted territory is something humans will have to navigate for quite some time because once its emitted, carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere. In fact, Andrew Freedman explains, “a single molecule of carbon dioxide can remain aloft for hundreds of years, which means that the effects of today’s industrial activities will be felt for the next several centuries, if not thousands of years.”

Emphasis Mine

See: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/09/3424704/carbon-dioxide-highest-level/