RealClimate logo


Review of Spencer’s ‘Great Global Warming Blunder’

Filed under: — group @ 28 April 2011

Guest commentary from Steve Ghan

A good writer knows their audience, and Roy Spencer knows his. There are plenty of people who would love to hear a compelling argument for why no action is needed to mitigate global warming, and Spencer’s book “The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists” will give uncritical readers the argument they’ve been looking for. As Sarah Palin said, “while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather change”. That is really the essence of Roy’s argument.
More »

Steve Schneider’s first letter to the editor

Filed under: — gavin @ 25 April 2011

There was a time at NASA when writing a letter to the paper without your director’s permission could get you fired. And no, I’m not talking about the last Bush administration.
More »

Fracking methane

Filed under: — gavin @ 16 April 2011

The Howarth et al paper estimating the climatic impact of shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has provoked a number of responses across the media. Since the issue of natural gas vs. coal or oil, and the specifics of fracking itself are established and growing public issues, most commentary has served to bolster any particular commenter’s prior position on some aspect of this. So far, so unsurprising. However, one aspect of the Howarth study uses work that I’ve been involved in to better estimate the indirect effects of short-lived emissions (including methane, the dominant component of shale gas). Seeing how this specific piece of science is being brought into a policy debate is rather interesting.
More »

An Emerging View on Early Land Use

Filed under: — group @ 15 April 2011

Guest article by William Ruddiman

More than 20 years ago, analyses of greenhouse gas concentrations in ice cores showed that downward trends in CO2 and CH4 that had begun near 10,000 years ago subsequently reversed direction and rose steadily during the last several thousand years. Competing explanations for these increases have invoked either natural changes or anthropogenic emissions. Reasonably convincing evidence for and against both causes has been put forward, and the debate has continued for almost a decade. Figure 1 summarizes these different views.

More »

The warm beer chart

Filed under: — gavin @ 13 April 2011

Perhaps a way to connect with Joe Sixpack?

Tagline: If we can pay as much attention to the Earth as we do to our beer, we probably wouldn’t need to worry about global warming.

Design by S. Han, loosely based on IPCC (2007), courtesy of the “Artist as Citizen” initiative. (Full size pdf version)

Rescuing data…

Filed under: — group @ 7 April 2011

Guest commentary by Vicky Slonosky

One of the lesser-known branches of climatology is historical climatology, the study of past climates from historical records of instrumental observations and weather descriptions, with “historical” often loosely taken to mean “pre-government-organized-meteorological or weather service” observations. In the last ten years or so, with the development of digital imaging, increased storage and processing capabilities of computers, it’s become possible to think about analyzing these past records on a daily basis. Snowstorms, hurricanes, cold snaps or heat waves all happen on daily scales, and daily information over the past 200 years or more let us learn more about them. All over the world, efforts (many unfunded) are going on to try to find and preserve these historical data from personal weather diaries, scientific observatories and naval records. This is often described as “data archeology and rescue”, which has a nice ring to it, and even manages to make going through dusty boxes in dustier basements and typing in the original (often handwritten) observations sound glamorous and exciting. It’s not a simple task though:

“All my attention for recent years has been directed to that branch of meteorology connected with ascertaining the mean temperature of Lower Canada. I had not made up my mind as to the fact of the climate having materially altered but was impressed generally with the belief that the climate had improved, or become warmer, as it had increased in population and cultivation … I resolved to make diligent search for such records as might be found in the Province, in order to answer this interesting question. The difficulty of this experience was even greater than I had anticipated. Few individuals had turned their attention to this (even now) infant science, at a period sufficiently removed to bear comparison with the present, and of those which I was fortunate enough to discover, many were unsuitable from the irregular manner in which they were kept … None but the most zealous meteorologist knows how very difficult it is to obtain observations in this science which can be depended upon.”

John Samuel McCord, acc. 0882, McCord Museum of Canadian History Archives, circa 1838.

More »

Unforced variations: Apr 2011

Filed under: — group @ 1 April 2011

This months open thread. There are some Items of potential interest::

or whatever you like.