Monday, May 4, 2015

science funding slashed

source: turn up the heat on climate denial

This is why, and how, climate skepticism matters in 2015: The most storied science agency, NASA, of the biggest national carbon emitter, the USA (in per capita/annual and total/cumulative terms), just suffered a slash to its funding. The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology approved 2016 and 2017 NASA budgets that reduce science funding by $323 million.

One of NASA's missions is to understand how our planet works. Chief among this quest is keeping track of climate change. NASA's climate research is part of the agency's Earth science program. In the current fiscal year, this program is funded at $1.773 billion. President Obama requested $1.947 billion for 2016. But the new budget, just approved, is $ 1.450 billion under the 'if-all-goes-well' plan, the so-called aspirational scenario, or $1.199 billion under the 'if-we-need-to-tighten-our-belts' plan, the constrained scenario. Compared to 2015 funding, the aspirational scenario constitutes an 18% cut; compared to Obama's request, it's a 26% cut. The constrained scenario amounts to a 32% cut; compared to the request, it's a 38% cut.

Why is this happening? Because the members of the House Committee believe NASA should deal with outer space, not with mother Earth. As NASA Administrator Bolden rightly understands, this move is intended to gut NASA's Earth science & climate program.

And why the members of the House Science Committee wish to gut this program? Because the Committee Chair Lamar Smith (Republican) is a climate denier.  This is the logic of skepticism: since the skeptic would have to change his mind if he were scientifically literate, he uses his power to fight against scientific literacy.

Monday, April 27, 2015

impact on life

Since the exposure to a new kind of scientific illiteracy that doubts the negative consequences of climate change, news on such consequences catch my attention. Case in point is a recent paper by Mark Urban in Science 348 (May 2015): 571-573, which has been noted in the mainstream press (see here and here). Over impacts on biodiversity, this updates older estimates. A textbook summary (2009) on negative impacts was Michael E. Mann's and Lee R. Kump's Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming (a 2nd edition is currently in preparation), based on the 2007 AR-4. Here's a screenshot of Mann/Kump p. 108:

On p. 109 is a scale of impacts and temperature rise:

The pre-2010 estimates on the impact on life had been: if +2 C, then 9%-31% of species will go extinct; if +4 C, then 40%-70% of species will go extinct. Urban's 2015 paper corrects this estimate. The new finding is based on a data synthesis (a meta-analysis and model-averaging approach) of climate-and-extinction studies published over the past five years, with some clean-up (like getting rid of outliers). The Science editorial sums it up:
Biologists worry that the rapid rates of warming projected for the planet will doom many species to extinction. Species could face extinction with climate change if climatically suitable habitat disappears or is made inaccessible by geographic barriers or species' inability to disperse. Previous studies have provided region- or taxon-specific estimates of biodiversity loss with climate change that range from 0% to 54%, making it difficult to assess the seriousness of this problem. ... Urban provides a synthetic and sobering estimate of climate change–induced biodiversity loss by applying a model-averaging approach to 131 of these studies. The result is a projection that up to one-sixth of all species may go extinct if we follow “business as usual” trajectories of carbon emissions.
Older studies show a wide variation of estimated losses, which is no big mystery, since estimates vary with temperature rise as well as with region. South America will be hit hardest, Europe will be spared the worst, and how hard Asia is going to be hit needs further research. (That South America may lose a quarter of its species makes sense due to its huge diversity in the Amazon Basin.)  One factor that apparently does not create extra variability is taxonomic group. That's new. Conventional wisdom says that amphibians will suffer disproportionately, but the meta-analysis doesn't seem to bear this out. The upshot now (2015) is this:
Overall, 7.9% of species are predicted to become extinct from climate change; … Results were robust to model type, weighting scheme, statistical method, potential publication bias, and missing studies … The factor that best explained variation in extinction risk was the level of future climate change. The future global extinction risk from climate change is predicted not only to increase but to accelerate as global temperatures rise … Global extinction risks increase from 2.8% at present to 5.2% at the international policy target of a 2°C post-industrial rise, which most experts believe is no longer achievable. If the Earth warms to 3°C, the extinction risk rises to 8.5%. If we follow our current, business-as-usual trajectory [4.3°C rise], climate change threatens one in six species (16%). Results were robust to alternative data transformations and were bracketed by models with liberal and conservative extinction thresholds. (Emphasis mine. Condensed and with annotations deleted; cf. Mark Urban, loc. cit., 571).
Four points are noteworthy:
  • The 2 C target seems no longer achievable. (As source for this consensus, Urban cites S. Fuss et al., "Betting on negative emissions." Nature Clim. Change 4, 850–853 (2014).)
  • The 4 C trajectory is the now the likeliest track. On this track, one in six species will go extinct.
  • This is bad but better than the 2009 Mann/Kump estimate of 40%-70% losses on this track.
  • The conclusion of the negative impact of climate change on life remains unchanged.
That's it. Not trying to be too negative here, but other dark clouds are looming, too. One is a possible upwards correction of the probability of nonlinear changes--global warming may move faster than expected. Another is that we have now a one in ten chance that global warming will now shift on a new track: 6 C, not 4 C.

In either of these cases, Mann/Kump would be right on target.

Monday, April 6, 2015

the geography of denial

The Pulitzer-Prize-winning website Inside Climate News has an excellent post on the geographic differences in the understanding of climate change, titled "U.S. is Laggard Among Developed Nations in Understanding Climate Change". The source is given as "a 2010 Gallup poll on climate beliefs in 111 countries" and the data "was part of a 2015 analysis by Cardiff University (UK) researchers examining climate attitudes since the 1980s". The analyst is Stuart Capstick at Cardiff's School of Psychology. He is the lead author of "International trends in public perceptions of climate change over the past quarter century," an open access article in WIRE: Climate Change 6 (2015): 35-61. Inside Climate News cites a great graphic from this study:

Monday, March 30, 2015

climate update 2013-2014

September- November (Fall)

Megersa, B., A. Markemann, et al.. "Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Cattle
Production in Southern Ethiopia: Perceptions and Empirical Evidence." Agricultural
Systems. Sep 2013 Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
Qiu, J. "Tibetan Glaciers Are Shrinking at Their Summits." Nature. Nature Publishing Group, 17
Sept. 2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.
Das, B. "Climate Change Dries up India Tea Production." Al Jazeera English. 9 Sept 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

Longman, R., A. Fraizer, and C. Mora. "Study in Nature Reveals Urgent New Time Frame for
Climate Change." University of Hawaii. 9 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Brown, D. "Climate Change Affects Guyana's Coconut Farms."  Al Jazeera English. Al Jazeera,
15 Oct 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Estrada, Francisco, Pierre Perron, and Benjamín Martínez-López. "Statistically Derived
Contributions of Diverse Human Influences to Twentieth-century Temperature Changes."
Nature Geoscience. Nature Publishing Group. 10 Nov 2013. Web. 11 Feb 2015.
Krishnaswamy, J., R. John, and S. Joseph. "Consistent Response of Vegetation Dynamics to Recent Climate Change in Tropical Mountain Regions."Global Change Biology. 17 Nov.
2013. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
Yung-Jaan, L., and P. Li-Pei. "Taiwan's Ecological Footprint" Sustainability. 10 Sep. 2014. Web.
1 Feb. 2015
Kapnick, S, T. Delworth, S. Malyshev, et al., "Snowfall Less Sensitive to Warming in  
             Karakoram than in Himalayas Due to a Unique Seasonal Cycle." Nature Geoscience.   
             Nature Publishing Group. 12 Sep 2014. Web. 11 Jan. 2015.
LAUSTSEN, P., and C. Puckett. "Walruses Are Hauling out on Land Instead of Ice Because of
Climate-induced Warming." United States Geological Survey. 1 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Feb.
Durack, P., Gleckler P., et al., "Quantifying Underestimates of Long-term Upper-ocean
Warming." Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 5 Oct 2014. Web. 31 Dec 2014.
Romps, D., J. Seeley, D. Vallaro, and J. Molinari. "Projected Increase in Lightning Strikes in the
United States Due to Global Warming." Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.
Wines, Michael. "Climate Change Threatens to Strip the Identity of Glacier National Park." The
New York Times. 22 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

December - February (Winter)
Gillis, Justin. "Not Even Close: 2012 Was Hottest Ever in U.S." The New York Times. The New
York Times, 8 Jan 2013. Web. 31 Dec. 2014.
Gillis, Justin. "How High Could the Tide Go?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 21
Jan. 2013. Web. 31 Dec. 2014.
Narayanan. "Climate Change May Disrupt Monarch Butterfly Migration." Scientific American
Global RSS. 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Rosenzweig, C., and Peter Neofotis. "Detection and Attribution of Anthropogenic Climate
Change Impacts." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. Wiley and Sons. 26
Feb 2013. Web. 10 Jan. 2015.
Christidis, Nikolaos, and Peter A. Stott. "Change in the Odds of Warm Years and Seasons Due to
Anthropogenic Influence on the Climate." Journal of Climate. American Meteorological
Society. 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Visser, Nick. "Climate Change Worse Than We Thought, Likely To Be 'Catastrophic Rather
Than Simply Dangerous'" The Huffington Post. 31 Dec. 2013. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.
Cairns, John. "Ecological Overshoot Is Suicidal."  EcoRes Forum Online E-Conference #3,
Climate Change and You: Putting a Face on Global Warming, Virginia Tech University, posted at 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
Rana, Arun. Climate Change Effects On Rainfall And Management Of Urban Flooding. SwePub.
1 Jan 2013. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.
Kendon, E., N. Roberts, H. Fowler, M. Roberts, S. Chan, and C. Senior. "Heavier Summer
Downpours with Climate Change Revealed by Weather Forecast Resolution Model." Nature Climate Change. Nature Publishing Group. 7 Feb 2014. Web. 10 Feb 2015.
Cowtan, Kevin,  Robert G. Way. "Coverage Bias in the HadCRUT4 Temperature Series and Its
Impact on Recent Temperature Trends." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological
Society. 12 Feb 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Sheppard, Kate. "Climate Change Takes A Village-As The Planet Warms, A Remote Alaskan
Town Shows Just How Unprepared We Are." The Huffington Post. 14 Dec. 2014. Web.
18 Jan. 2015.
Lawrence, Deborah, and Karen Vandecar. "Effects of Tropical Deforestation on Climate and
Agriculture." Nature. Nature Publishing Group, 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.
Ray, D. Gerber, J. et al.. “Climate variation explains a third of global crop yield variability.”
Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group. 22 Jan 2015. Web. 2 April 2015.
Franchini, M. and Pier Mannuccio, M. "Impact On Human Health Of Climate Changes."
European Journal Of Internal Medicine. Jan 2015. Web. 5 Apr.
Princé, Karine, and Benjamin Zuckerberg. "Climate Change In Our Backyards: The Reshuffling
Of North America's Winter Bird Communities." Global Change Biology. Environment Index. 11 Feb 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.
Mauger, Guillaume1, et al. "Impacts Of Climate Change On Milk Production In The United
States." Professional Geographer. Taylor and Francis Ltd.. Feb 2015 Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
March - May (Spring)
Peñuelas, Sardans, Estiarte, et al."Evidence of Current Impact of Climate Change on Life: A
Walk from Genes to the Biosphere." Global Change Biology. 25 Mar 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
Smith, L., and S. Stephenson. "New Trans-Arctic Shipping Routes Navigable by Midcentury."
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 26 March 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015
Luo, Young, and Han Chen. "Observations from Old Forests Underestimate Climate Change
Effects on Tree Mortality." Nature. Nature Publishing Group, 3 Apr. 2013. Web. 31 Dec. 2014.
Slezak, M. "Australia Has No Choice but to Change with the Climate." New Scientist. New
Scientist, 3 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Vidal, J. "Climate Change: How a Warming World Is a Threat to Our Food Supplies." World
Food Programme. 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Staff. "Carbon Dioxide at Mauna Loa Observatory Reaches New Milestone: Tops 400 Ppm."
Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego, 9 May 2013. Web. 3 Jan. 2015.
Cheung, Watson, R., and Daniel P. et al., "Signature of Ocean Warming in Global
Fisheries Catch." Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 15 May 2013. Web. 5 Feb 2015.
Dasgupta, Susmita; Kamal, Farhana Akhter; et al.,” River Salinity and Climate Change :
Evidence from Coastal Bangladesh. Data and Research Report.” World Bank. 1 March 2014. Web. 22 Feb 2015.
Gillis, Justin. "Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate." The New York Times. The New York Times,
17 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.
Christidis, Nikolaos, and Peter A. Stott. "Change in the Odds of Warm Years and Seasons Due to
Anthropogenic Influence on the Climate." Journal of Climate. April 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Mann, Michael E. "False Hope." Scientific American. April 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.
Garcia, Raquel,and Miguel Araújo, et al., "Multiple Dimensions of Climate Change and Their
Implications for Biodiversity." Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2 May 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2014
Shakil, S., N. Kuhu, R. Rahman, and I. Islam, et al.."Carbon Emission from Domestic Level
Consumption: Ecological Footprint Account of Dhanmondi Residential Area, Dhaka, Bangladesh – A Case Study." Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, Social Science Research Network. 10 May 2014. Web. 4 Jan. 2015.
Feldman, D., Collins, W.,et al.. “Observational determination of surface radiative forcing by CO2 from
 2000 to 2010.” Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 25 Feb 2015. Web. 2 April 2015.Rahmstorf, S., Box, J., et al.. “Exceptional twentieth-century slowdown in Atlantic Ocean overturningCirculation.” Nature Climate Change. Nature Publishing Group. 23 March 2015. Web. 2 April 2015.Tan, J., Jakob, C., et al.. “Increases in tropical rainfall driven by changes in frequency oforganized deep convection.” Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 25 March 2015. Web. 2 April 2015.
June - August (Summer)
Johnson, R. "Climate Change: New Milestone Has Been Set." ICSUSA. Institute of Climate
Studies, 1 June 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Staff. "University of Tokyo Study Warns of Increased Flood Risk Due to Global Warming." The
Japan Times. 9 June 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Panwar, S., and G. J. Chakrapani. "Climate Change And Its Influence On Groundwater
Resources." Current Science. Academic Search Premier. 10 July 2013. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.
Johnson, R. "Ocean Temperatures and Fisheries Tell Their Own Climate Change Story."
ICSUSA. Institute of Climate Studies, 1 July 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Braun, Joachim. "Climate Change Impacts on Global Food Security." Science. American
Association for the Advancement of Science, 2 Aug. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
Diffenbaugh, Noah, and Christopher Field. "Changes in Ecologically Critical Terrestrial Climate
Conditions." Science.  American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.
Kendon, E., N. Roberts, H. Fowler, M. Roberts, S. Chan, and C. Senior. "Heavier Summer
Downpours with Climate Change Revealed by Weather Forecast Resolution Model." Nature Climate Change. Nature Publishing Group. 1 June 2014. Web. 1 Feb 2015.
Horton, D., C. Skinner, D. Singh, and N. Diffenbaugh. "Occurrence and Persistence of Future
Atmospheric Stagnation Events." Nature Climate Change. Nature Publishing Group. 22 June 2014. Web. 8 Jan 2015.
Kapnick, S., T. Delworth, et al.. "Snowfall Less Sensitive to Warming in Karakoram than in
Himalayas Due to a Unique Seasonal Cycle." Nature Geoscience. Nature Publishing Group. 28 June 2014. Web. 11 Jan. 2015.
Boboltz, Sara. "21 Numbers That Explain Why The Time To Address Climate Change Is Right
Now, Or Maybe Yesterday." The Huffington Post. 10 July 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015
Rhodes, K., K. Warren-Rhodes, al.. "Marine Ecological Footprint Indicates Unsustainability
of the Pohnpei (Micronesia) Coral Reef Fishery." Foundation for Environmental Conservation. Cambridge Journals, 24 July 2014. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.
Hales, S. Kovats, S. et al.. "Quantitative Risk Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change on
Selected Causes of Death, 2030s and 2050s." WHO. World Health Organization. 1 Aug.
2014. Web. 7 Jan. 2015.
Chen, Xianyao, and Ka-Kit Tung. "Varying Planetary Heat Sink Led to Global-warming
Slowdown and Acceleration." Science.  American Association for the Advancement of Science, 22 Aug 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.
Staff. “Climate Impacts of Food Security and Nutrition.” World Food Programme. 2014. Web. 28 March 2015.