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The Wall Street Journal vs. The Scientific Consensus

Filed under: — group @ 22 June 2005 - (Español)

We are disappointed that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has chosen to yet again distort the science behind human-caused climate change and global warming in their recent editorial “Kyoto By Degrees” (6/21/05) (subscription required).

Last week, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and 10 other leading world bodies expressed the consensus view that “there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring” and that “It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities”. And just last week, USA Today editorialized that “not only is the science in, it is also overwhelming”.

It is puzzling then that the WSJ editors could claim that “the scientific case….looks weaker all the time”.

While we resist commenting on policy matters (e.g. the relative merits of the Kyoto Protocol or the various bills before the US Senate), we will staunchly defend the science against distortions and misrepresentations, be they intentional or not. In this spirit, we respond here to the scientifically inaccurate or incorrect assertions made in the editorial.

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Make your own forecasts of future energy, carbon emissions, and climate

Filed under: — david @ 22 June 2005

Over the years, IPCC has issued numerous scenarios describing the trajectory of civilization and what they may mean for CO2 emissions and the like. The most famous of these is the “Business-as-Usual” scenario, also called IS92A, although this has been supplanted somewhat by the SRES familiy of storylines that have been discussed here often.

While the different storylines and assumptions can be a little confusing, the ingredients for making such a forecast can be fairly simple, and I have coded them up into an interactive web site which can be used to explore the world of possibilities. The prediction is based on an idea called the Kaya identity, using numbers published by Hoffert et al. in Nature 1998 [Hoffert et al., 1998]. You could just read the excellent Hoffert et al. paper, but you might also enjoy playing with your own “live” forecasting model, located here.

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New contributor

Filed under: — group @ 20 June 2005

We welcome David Archer of the University of Chicago to the RealClimate team. David adds to our expertise in ocean and carbon cycle modelling and has already contributed a guest post, with more on the way. RealClimate actively solicits contributions from the wider climate science community and so if you’d like to help out, drop us a line.

Some recent updates

Filed under: — gavin @ 17 June 2005

A couple of recent papers in Science this week relate to discussions we have had on RealClimate recently. The first by Curry and Mauritzen relates to the Gulf Stream Slowdown? post and describes the amount of fresh water that has been added to the North Atlantic over the last few decades (calculated from a database of salinity measurements) and what impact that has had on density and overturning circulations. There is a press release available at WHOI which is quite informative (hat tip to Joseph O’Sullivan for the link).

The second is related to the Storms and Climate Change post and is a perspective by Kevin Trenberth on the potential for a hurricanes and global warming link. The NCAR press release is available here.

These will undoubtedly not be the last word on the subject, and so we will probably be revisiting these topics at some point soon…

Betting on climate change

Filed under: — group @ 14 June 2005 - (Romanian) (Ukranian)

Guest contribution by James Annan of FRCGC/JAMSTEC.

“The more unpredictable the world, the more we rely on predictions” (Steve Rivkin). The uncertainty of an unknown future imposes costs and risks on us in many areas of life. A cereal-growing farmer risks a big financial loss if the price of grain is low at harvest time, and a livestock farmer may not be able to afford to feed his herd if the price of grain goes up. One way to reduce the risk is to hedge against it in a futures market. The two farmers can enter a forward contract, for one to deliver a set quantity of grain to the other for a fixed price at a future date. And indeed farmers do routinely use futures contracts to reduce their risks.

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How much of the recent CO2 increase is due to human activities?

Filed under: — group @ 7 June 2005 - (Français)

Contributed by Corinne Le Quéré, University of East Anglia.

This question keeps coming back, although we know the answer very well: all of the recent CO2 increase in the atmosphere is due to human activities, in spite of the fact that both the oceans and the land biosphere respond to global warming. There is a lot of evidence to support this statement which has been explained in a previous posting here and in a letter in Physics Today . However, the most convincing arguments for scientists (based on isotopes and oxygen decreases in the atmosphere) may be hard to understand for the general public because they require a high level of scientific knowledge. I present simpler evidence of the same statement based on ocean observations, and I explain how we know that not only part of the atmospheric CO2 increase is due to human activities, but all of it.

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