The Norwegian Meteorological institute has celebrated its 150th anniversary this year. It was founded to provide weather data and tentative warnings to farmers, sailors, and fishermen. The inception of Norwegian climatology in the mid-1800s started with studies of geographical climatic variations to adapt important infrastructure to the ambient climate. The purpose of the meteorology and climatology was to protect lives and properties.
Archives for 2016
Where would we be without science? Today, we live longer than ever before according to the Royal Geographical Society, thanks to pharmaceutical, medical, and health science. Vaccines saves many lives. Physics and electronics have given us satellites, telecommunications, and the Internet. You would not read this blog without them. Chemistry and biology have provided use with all sorts of products, food, and enabled the agricultural (“green”) revolution enhancing our crop yields. The science of evolution and natural selection explains the character of ecosystems, and modern meteorology saves lives and help us safeguard our properties.
It’s that time of year again. Fall AGU is the biggest gathering of geophysical scientists in the world (~24,000 attendees) and while it includes planetary science, seismology and magnetophysics, it is swamped by earth scientists, whose work covers the atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere, climate, natural hazards and paleoclimate.
As in previous years, many sessions and most of the keynotes will be available On-Demand (which is free but you do need to register) and there is a E-poster facility that lets non-attendees view some of the posters.
Some interesting sessions related to discussions at RealClimate will be the “Betting on Climate Change” (Mon, posters), “El Niño: Global Anomalies and Societal Impacts at Regional Scale” (Wed, Union Channel On-demand), and “The Up‐Goer Five Challenge: A Fun and Radical Way to Distill Your Science” (Fri). Of course, there are always the usual paleo-climate (e.g. Climate of the Common Era), model evaluation, and observational sessions to follow.
Keynotes from Isaac Held, Christine Hulbe, Nathalie Cabrol, Daniel Jacob and Bette Otto-Bleisner all sound promising, covering tropical cyclones, the last glacial maximum, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, air quality and astrobiology (though probably not all at once).
If there are any other specific sessions or talks, you’d like to advertise or comment on, put them in the comments. Discussion on Twitter is using the #AGU16 hashtag. If anyone wants to write up some sessions or highlights, send them along and we’ll post them.
Guest commentary from Lauren Kurtz
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) was founded in September 2011 to defend climate scientists from harassing and invasive attacks via the legal system. Five years in, we’re expanding our efforts to reflect the new challenges scientists face, including increasing education and outreach work. Now more than ever, it’s important that scientists prepare themselves for how best to deal with political harassment or legal intimidation. Below are 10 things that every scientist should consider.
In addition, for those in San Francisco next week for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, please consider attending one of our events. We’re hosting a symposium on how open records laws have been used to attack scientists on the morning of Wednesday, December 14, which includes a talk from Michael Mann. Our booth in the Exhibit Hall (booth 1523) will also have free legal education materials, including our new Pocket Guide to Handling Political Harassment & Legal Intimidation. And as in years past, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free in-person consultation with a lawyer at AGU.
1 – Take a deep breath & remember other scientists have gone through this before
First remember that other scientists have been through this before and come out the other side. And while being the target of an attack is frustrating and intimidating, you are not alone. Groups like CSLDF exist to help defend, connect scientists under attack to other researchers who have been through this before, and ensure that scientists can keep their focus on their work.
2 – Call a lawyer if in doubt
If you’re worried that you’re becoming the target of harassment or intimidation, including receiving a request that seems politically motivated, seek counsel before you respond. Your institution likely retains legal counsel that you can contact, but it is important to remember that your institution’s counsel represents the institution’s legal interests, which may differ from your own.
You can always contact CSLDF, where our mission is to provide free legal counsel to climate scientists facing attacks as a result of their work. Call (646) 801-0853 or email email@example.com
3 – Understand whether state and/and federal open records laws may apply to you
One common legal attack on scientists has been through open records laws—the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or state equivalents. Intended (and mostly used) to promote transparency by allowing citizens to request copies of government records, these laws have also become a tool used to harass scientists. Publicly funded scientists have received open records requests for reams of documents, including emails, peer review correspondence, and preliminary drafts. Scientists employed by the government or by public universities, or who have received government grants—including National Science Foundation (NSF) grants—should recognize that open records laws may apply to them.
Understand whether state and/or federal open records laws are applicable to you. Reach out to your institutional counsel, the staff in your institutional records office, or a legal group like CSLDF who can help you understand the laws that may affect you.
4 – Separate personal and professional emails
Do not use professional email accounts for personal emails and vice versa. Separating personal and professional emails reduces the likelihood that personal correspondence will be affected by an open records request (which only applies to public records) or other legal action related to your work. Similarly, avoid any temptation to use your personal email account for professional correspondence. If it can be shown that your personal email contains professional records, this may result in you needing to turn over your personal email account to legal review. (Editor’s note: This is really important to minimizing time and effort that need to be devoted to dealing with requests or legal actions. Do it now.)
5 – Remember that emails are not always private
Emails may be disclosed due to open records requests or legal actions, or can be hacked. Be sure to conduct professional correspondence in a professional manner. If you are discussing a sensitive issue, consider having an in-person or telephone conversation instead of emailing.
6 – Understand record-keeping requirements
Employees and consultants at public institutions, including government scientists and public university researchers, should retain all public records. The precise definition will vary by state, but generally, these are documents relating to public business.
Be aware that grants may require that you follow specific record-keeping rules: for example, NSF grants stipulate that research data, including databases, must be shared.
Even if no strict document retention requirements apply to your situation, we recommend that you keep files for a few years, as anyone can be made to look bad when things are missing.
7 – Exercise discretion when talking to a journalist
Before agreeing to speak to a reporter or interviewer, research their work. Think carefully about how or whether to speak with a hostile journalist, as you are unlikely to change their opinions, and you may instead provide more fodder for an attack. (Also understand your institution’s rules for speaking to the press and otherwise communicating your research to the public, and when clearance requirements may apply.) If you do choose to speak to a reporter, come to the interview well prepared. Consider the questions you are likely to be asked and outline draft answers. For higher-profile situations, your institution’s public relations office or scientific society may be able to assist you with preparing your message. (Editor’s note: See also the UCS guide to talking to the media for scientists.)
8 – If you receive harassing messages, do not respond and do not delete
Do not respond to messages you feel were sent in bad faith – instead archive or save, in case you ever need evidence to prove that it happened, which is especially important if the situation escalates. Look for signs that the sender is wasting your time or seeking to provoke you, as a correspondent may be seeking to rattle you, use your response to malign you publicly, and/or use your response as a launchpad for further harassment. If you do respond to a seemingly valid inquiry, remember that any response you write may be forwarded or published online, and be cognizant of the time lost by caught up in endless back-and-forth arguments. (Editor’s note: See also the UCS guide to responding to criticism or personal attacks.)
9 – If you receive threatening messages, contact your employer / law enforcement
Report the threats to your institution (your supervisor and the human resources staff are probably the best starting points) as well as law enforcement. Contact a legal group such as CSLDF, especially if law enforcement becomes involved. A lawyer can help you navigate the situation.
10 – For more information on particular legal situations, check out our new Pocket Guide to Handling Political Harassment & Legal Intimidation
Our 16 page guide has more specific advice on how to protect yourself against and/or respond to political or legal attacks. As mentioned above, free copies will be available at our climate science & law symposium on the morning of Wednesday, December 14, and at our booth in the AGU Exhibit Hall (booth 1523). You can also join our email mailing list to be notified as soon as electronic copies are available on our website, as well as stay updated on other CSLDF developments.
This month’s open thread. Roll on 2017…
The recent US election has prompted cries that the decision on Earth’s climate has now been irrevocably made, that the US has unilaterally decided to scrap the peak warming target from the Paris agreement of 1.5 oC. What do the numbers say? Is Earth’s climate now irrevocably fracked?
Global temperature goes from heat record to heat record, yet the sun is at its dimmest for half a century.
For a while, 2010 was the hottest year on record globally. But then it got overtopped by 2014. And 2014 was beaten again by 2015. And now 2016 is so warm that it is certain to be once again a record year. Three record years in a row – that is unprecedented even in all those decades of global warming.
Strangely, one aspect of this gets barely mentioned: all those heat records occur despite a cold sun (Figs. 1 and 2). The last solar minimum (2008-2010) was the lowest since at least 1950, while the last solar maximum (2013-2015) can hardly be described as such. This is shown, among others, by the sunspot data (Fig. 1) as well as measurements of the solar luminosity from satellites (Fig. 2). Other indicators of solar activity indicate cooling as well (Lockwood and Fröhlich, Proc. Royal Society 2007).
Fig. 1 Time evolution of global temperature, CO2 concentration and solar activity. Temperature and CO2 are scaled relative to each other according to the physically expected CO2 effect on climate (i.e. the best estimate of transient climate sensitivity). The amplitude of the solar curve is scaled to correspond to the observed correlation of solar and temperature data. (Details are explained here.) You can generate and adapt this graph to your taste here, where you can also copy a code with which the graph can be embedded as a widget on your own website (as on my home page). Thus it will be automatically updated each year with the latest data. Thanks to our reader Bernd Herd who programmed this. [Read more…] about Record heat despite a cold sun
This month’s open thread. Usual rules apply…
Dear US voters,
the world is holding its breath. The stakes are high in the upcoming US elections. At stake is a million times more than which email server one candidate used, or how another treated women. The future of humanity will be profoundly affected by your choice, for many generations to come.
The coming four years is the last term during which a US government still has the chance, jointly with the rest of the world, to do what is needed to stop global warming well below 2°C and closer to 1.5°C, as was unanimously decided by 195 nations in the Paris Agreement last December. The total amount of carbon dioxide the world can still emit in order to have at least a 50% chance to stop warming at 1.5 °C will, at the current rate of emissions, be all used up in under ten years! This time can only be stretched out by making emissions fall rapidly.
Even 2°C of global warming is very likely to spell the end of most coral reefs on Earth. 2°C would mean a largely ice-free Arctic ocean in summer, right up to the North Pole. Even 2°C of warming is likely to destabilize continental ice sheets and commit the world to many meters of sea-level rise, lasting for millennia. Further global warming will likely lead to increasing extreme weather, droughts, harvest failures, and the risk of armed conflict and mass migration.
Meltwater on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Photo with kind permission by Ragnar Axelsson.
In case you have any doubts about the science: in the scientific community there is a long-standing consensus that humans are causing dangerous global warming, reflected in the clear statements of many scientific academies and societies from around the world. None of the 195 governments that signed the Paris Agreement saw any reasons for doubting the underlying scientific facts; doubts about the science that you see in some media are largely manufactured by interest groups trying to fool you.
You have a fateful choice to make. The policies of candidates and parties on climate change could hardly be more different. Hillary Clinton would continue to work with the international community to tackle the global warming crisis and help the transition to modern clean and renewable energies. Donald Trump denies that the problem even exists and has promised to go back to coal and to undo the Paris Agreement, which comes into force today, the 4th of November 2016, as culmination of over twenty years of negotiations.
Please consider this carefully. This is not an election about personalities, it is about policies that will determine our future for a long time to come. While the presidential race has gotten the most attention, voters should consider climate not just at the ‘top of the ticket’, but all the way down the ballot. Don’t make a choice that you, your children and your children’s children will regret forever.
David Archer, Rasmus Benestad, Ray Bradley, Michael Mann, Ray Pierrehumbert, Stefan Rahmstorf and Eric Steig
Guest post by John Crusius, Richard Gammon, and Steve Emerson
The scientific community is almost universally in agreement that climate change (and ocean acidification) are severe threats that demand a rapid response, with putting a price on fossil fuel CO2 emissions being a top priority. Far and away the single biggest contributor to climate change is CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Indeed, global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel emissions in recent years have been roughly ten times higher than emissions from the next largest global source, land use change, including deforestation (Le Quéré et al., 2015). Despite the small size of carbon fluxes from forests, enhancing carbon storage in forests is often discussed in WA state as a tool to fight climate change. There was one such claim in the Seattle Times OpEd from October 21 by Mathew Randazzo. We challenge these claims that forest carbon sequestration in WA state can significantly help solve climate change. Randazzo does not spell out in any detail what he means. As always, details matter in such discussions, as the science is complex. We focus here on some of the best available science on the climate and carbon storage impacts of forests, and provide references at the bottom of this article from some of the premier scientific journals in the world.