Climate – headlines

August 20, 2013

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New IPCC Report: Climatologists More Certain Global Warming Is Caused By Humans, Impacts Are Speeding Up

Joe Romm, Climate Progress
The Fifth — and hopefully final — Assessment Report (AR5) from the UN Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) is due next month. The leaks are already here:

Drafts seen by Reuters of the study by the UN panel of experts, due to be published next month, say it is at least 95 percent likely that human activities – chiefly the burning of fossil fuels – are the main cause of warming since the 1950s.

That is up from at least 90 percent in the last report in 2007, 66 percent in 2001, and just over 50 in 1995, steadily squeezing out the arguments by a small minority of scientists that natural variations in the climate might be to blame…

Of course, nothing in the report should be a surprise to readers of Climate Progress, since the AR5 is just a (partial) review of the scientific literature (see my 12/11 post, It’s “Extremely Likely That at Least 74% of Observed Warming Since 1950″ Was Manmade; It’s Highly Likely All of It Was). The draft AR5 confirms that natural forces played a very small role in warming since 1950, which again means that human activity is highly likely be a source of virtually all of the recent warming.

I say the AR5 is a “partial” review that is “hopefully” the last because, like every IPCC report, it is an instantly out-of-date snapshot that lowballs future warming because it continues to ignore large parts of the recent literature and omit what it can’t model. For instance, we have known for years that perhaps the single most important carbon-cycle feedback is the thawing of the northern permafrost. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment climate models completely ignore it, thereby lowballing likely warming this century.

No doubt some in the media will continue to focus on the largely irrelevant finding that the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) may be a tad lower than expected…
(18 August 2013)

European forests near ‘carbon saturation point’

Mark Kinver, BBC Online
European forests are showing signs of reaching a saturation point as carbon sinks, a study has suggested.

Since 2005, the amount of atmospheric CO2 absorbed by the continent’s trees has been slowing, researchers reported.

Writing in Nature Climate Change, they said this was a result of a declining volume of trees, deforestation and the impact of natural disturbances.

Carbon sinks play a key role in the global carbon cycle and are promoted as a way to offset rising emissions.

Many of Europe’s forests are reaching an age where growth, and carbon uptake, slows down Writing in their paper, the scientists said the continent’s forests had been recovering in recent times after centuries of stock decline and deforestation.

The growth had also provided a "persistent carbon sink", which was projected to continue for decades.

However, the team’s study observed three warnings that the carbon sink provided by Europe’s tree stands was nearing a saturation point…
(18 August 2013)
Link to report, behind paywall

Scientists have a moral obligation to take action on climate change

Dan Cass, The Guardian
Al Gore’s influential film about climate science was not called A Scientifically-Modelled Truth, or The Statistically Fairly Likely Truth, even though these would have been accurate titles. It was An Inconvenient Truth, because the key factor in the climate debate is not the truthfulness of the science, but the futile political war waged against that scientific truth. That war is still being waged by sections of the media, as well as think tanks and campaigns funded by the polluters.

It was surprising, then, to read respected climate scientist Tamsin Edwards recently bemoaning that it is environmentalists who undermine her work, because we put her “under pressure to be a political advocate”.

Those of us who accept climate science empathise with scientists doing the hard work, and do not want to be putting them under pressure. It is the polluters and denialists who are putting researchers under pressure, and potentially doing far far worse…
(15 August 2013)

Study: Watching Fox News Makes You Distrust Climate Scientists

Chris Mooney, Mother Jones
In the past several years, a number of polls have documented the huge gap between liberals and conservatives when it comes to their acceptance of the science of climate change…

And it wasn’t long before they homed in on the role of conservative media in particular…

Now, a new paper just out in the journal Public Understanding of Science takes this line of inquiry further, beginning to unpack precisely how conservative media work to undermine the public’s acceptance of science…
(6 August 2013)

Tags: climate change, IPCC, Media & Communications, science