Other than the climate change and science stories we’ve already covered this week, here’s a roundup of some of the top climate change (especially climate science) stories I’ve seen around the interwebs:
According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the annual mean surface temperature (land and air) for the region north of 64oN (the Arctic Circle is at 66° 33’N) in 2011 was 2.28oC above that which characterized the 1951-1980 period. Temperatures in the region have been rising rapidly since the late 1970s and have not dropped below the long term mean since 1992 — nearly 20 years. This year’s annual mean temperature broke the record that was just set in 2010, when the temperature was 2.11oC above 1951-1980 levels….
The 2012 USDA plant hardiness zone map has been released. The niftiest thing about this latest release is the interactive online aspect.
The USDA plant hardiness zone map shows the average lowest temperature in an area over time and is mainly used by gardeners and growers to determine which plants will be able to survive a winter. It’s also used to set crop insurance standards and model the spread of exotic weeds and insects.
Zones have shifted north a little due to warmer average annual temperatures. Two zones have also been added on the warmer end of the scale – 12 and 13, both of which occur only in Hawaii and Puerto Rico….
Twenty-two years after its last revision, the U. S. Department of Agriculture finally released an update to the Plant Hardiness Zone map, which serves as a kind of detailed road map for gardeners, farmers, foresters, nurseries, or just about anyone who works with plants.
Last published in 1990, the new map illustrates the effects of global warming across the country, and in a less abstract vein, how increases in temperature are impacting what people can plant, harvest or grow in their backyards.
The new color-coded map, which is online, interactive, and downloadable — will surely be a welcome update to the estimated 80 million home gardeners in the U.S., in addition to those individuals and industries that rely on the data for their business. The map is used to set national crop insurance standards and predict locations at risk for weeds and troublesome invasive plants that can cause large economic and ecological impacts. The map divides the U.S. into 26 zones — each in a 5-degree Fahrenheit temperature range — to reflect growing conditions….
A study just out from the University of Kent inquires into the nature of conspiracy theorists, and comes out with this interesting or maybe obvious conclusion: It’s not that they really believe what they’re saying. It’s more that they don’t trust authority figures on the matter.
As Eric Barker noted when he flagged this study,
Apparently the logic is something like “It’s not about whether my theory is right but what they are telling us is definitely wrong.”
So, for example, as explained in the abstract of the paper,
The more participants believed that Osama Bin Laden was already dead when U.S. special forces raided his compound in Pakistan, the more they believed he is still alive. Hierarchical regression models showed that mutually incompatible conspiracy theories are positively associated because both are associated with the view that the authorities are engaged in a cover-up.
Which potentially explains why so many climate deniers are full of heaps and heaps of self-contradictory baloney. Sure, a few have created an internally consistent model of the universe that by definition violates some fairly basic physical law, but the rest are just looking for something to sputter when challenged with the brutal logic of climate change….
When we published the Debunking Handbook, I have to admit, we completely underestimated the impact it would make. A few days after the launch, it suddenly went viral with over 150,000 downloads in a single day. This week, it just ticked over 400,000 downloads. We always planned that the Handbook would be useful not just for climate myths but for communicators having to deal with any type of misinformation. Nevertheless, it was surprising to see the Handbook featured on websites as diverse as Richard Dawkins and Silobreaker. A website devoted to debunking MLM myths saw it as “useful when debating with brainwashed members of MLM organizations”. A Muslim forum speculated that it “Should be useful when engaging people who believe lies about Islam”. Currently, several educators are looking to integrate it into their curriculum….
Scientists know that Co2 emissions are not always good. In the marine department, the common thought was that the creatures hit hardest by CO2 emissions were plankton, coral, and other shell fish that are composed as CaCO3. Now a new scientific experiment posted in Nature Climate Change has shown that fish also face severe negative side effects of CO2 emissions.
Fish experienced birth defects, a high death rate, and freakish behavioral changes – actual affects on the brain, when exposed to high levels of CO2. The study consisted of several experiments. In the first experiment clown fish larva, (like Nemo) were raised in two tanks. One tank had an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450 parts per million (ppm). The second tank had an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 900 ppm. To put things into perspective the current atmospheric CO2 concentration is about 390 ppm, however that figure in the world’s oceans varies from region to region.
America’s television meteorologists are the primary source of climate information for most Americans, and are second only to scientists — who have much less access to the general public — in the level of trust they are given. Yet more than half of TV weather reporters don’t believe in human-induced climate change, even as our poisoned weather grows more extreme.
Forecast the Facts, a new campaign of 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters, and the new Citizen Engagement Lab, aims to turn the tide. The first call to action challenges the American Meteorological Society to vote next week for a strong climate change statement that rejects science denial….
We recently examined three examples of Patrick Michaels deleting inconvenient data in his presentations of other scientists’ research. The first and most egregious of these examples occurred in 1998, when Michaels testified before Congress and deleted two of the three global warming projections from Hansen et al. (1988). Rather than admit and apologize for this blatant distortion of the work of Hansen and colleagues, Michaels has responded by attempting to defend the indefensible. However, his excuses for deleting Hansen’s Scenarios B and C are based on erroneous assumptions as detailed below. Consequently, his presentation to Congress remains a distortion of Hansen’s actual results….
The next time a climate scientist gets sued by a think tank, state attorney general, or fossil fuel industry front group, they’ll have a fund to tap into in order to support their defense. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is now officially affiliated with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) to aid environmental scientists.
In recent years, an increasing number of lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed against prominent climate scientists, such as Pennsylvania State professor Michael Mann, seeking details about their email correspondence, funding, and research activities funded with taxpayer dollars. These lawsuits and information requests have taken climate scientists away from their labs and into the courtroom, and cost them thousands in legal fees. To date, none of efforts have turned up any evidence of wrongdoing.
Mann, for example, has been the target of a probe by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, who has been seeking to determine whether he violated Virginia’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act while conducting state-funded research. Other researchers, including Gavin Schmidt of NASA, have also been the subjects of Freedom of Information requests to release certain email correspondence. Scientists have denounced such legal actions as fishing expeditions that set dangerous precedents for curtailing academic freedom.
The defense fund will be used for helping researchers defray their legal bills, educating researchers about their rights and responsibilities, and recruiting a cadre of lawyers to represent climate scientists….
EVER heard the one about climate scientists being a bunch of rent-seekers just out to chase taxpayers money, or the one where climate change scientists are just part of an elite left-wing conspiracy out to trample on the heretics?
How about your nearest conservative columnist telling you that “green is the new red” or how climate science and environmentalism has become a new religion?
Where do these rhetorical tricks and debating points actually come from? How does the echo chamber work?
In Australia, a new study has found these themes often don’t spring forth from the minds of insightful and thoughtful newspaper columnists and bloggers.
Rather, many have emerged from the free-market think-tankery of Australia’s The Institute of Public Affairs, which has been muddying the waters of climate science for more than 20 years.K
Published in the international peer-reviewed journal Journalism Studies, the author, University of Technology Sydney PhD candidate Elaine McKewon, reveals how popular rhetorical “fantasy themes” which aim to create controversy around climate science are conceived at the IPA before being repeated, magnified, endorsed and legitimised in the opinion pages of Australian newspapers….
The latest climate scientist to come under fire from the climate denial extreme is Katharine Hayhoe, Atmospheric Scientist at Texas Tech University.
After coming into the public eye as the author of proposed chapter on climate change for GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s forthcoming book, Hayhoe had her name and email contact published by the ever-cuddly Marc “climate scientists should be flogged” Morano, grand Wazir of the Sharia school of Climate denial.
The climate deniers are kicking puppies now.
That was my reaction when I heard that Katharine Hayhoe was being deluged with hate mail after stories surfaced that she had written a chapter on climate change for Newt Gingrich’s upcoming book, a chapter quickly dropped when conservative commentators began making a big fuss about it. Similar attacks have been leveled against MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel following his speech at a forum for Republicans concerned about climate change. The “frenzy of hate” he’s received include threats to his wife.
Anyone who has ever listened to Hayhoe would be as sickened as I was over the vitriolic attacks she has endured in the past week. Being both a climate scientist and an evangelical Christian, Hayhoe speaks to faith communities, explaining the science of climate change in easy-to-understand language and also offering the spiritual perspective on global warming: What would Jesus do about climate change?
I had the privilege to interview Dr. Hayhoe this past weekend at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, where the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise was conducting a workshop and Town Hall meeting entitled “Cures for Climate Confusion”. (web video of the public Town Hall meeting here)
I wish to thank the organizers, Andy Hoffman of the Erb Institute, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, for graciously, and inexplicably, welcoming me when I arrived somewhat, uhm, unexpectedly, to the gathering.
More on Medieval enthusiast Marc Morano below: