How Much Does It Cost: What Can I Do? (6)

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 5:18 AM GMT on May 09, 2013

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How Much Does It Cost: What Can I Do? (6)

This is the continuation of a series in response to the question, “What can I do about climate change?” Links to the previous entries are listed at the end.

Last week rather than taking the conventional view of looking at greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, I presented an accounting of the emissions associated with agriculture. My primary points were that agriculture was a major emitter of greenhouse gases, and, therefore, the choices we make individually and collectively about what we eat have large environmental consequences.

I want to explore more the impact of agriculture, particularly livestock. First, however, I want to remind folks of the series on calculating budgets. Last summer I did a series where I compared the basic methods of climate science to keeping a budget – just like a checking and savings accounts. One of the entries in that series looked specifically at complexity. The idea being that despite the fact that maintaining a budget is a relatively simple matter of addition and subtraction, if you consider all of the ways we get and spend money, then it can become remarkably complex.

I implied the complexity of accounting for the greenhouse gas emissions of agriculture in the previous entry. The amount of emissions from the direct use of fossil fuels is relatively small. Big sources of emissions come from removing trees and changing forests to agricultural lands and soil management. Many aspects of soil management influence how much carbon and nitrogen is stored in the soil. There is also the need to consider greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide: for example, methane associated with ruminates and solid waste from livestock and nitrous oxide associated with fertilizer. Emissions also depend on:

- what crops are grown and what animals are raised

- agricultural practice, for example, whether the land is plowed or no-till methods are used

- policy, for example, renewable energy policy provides incentives and disincentives on what to grow

- biological processes that are different from field to field, region to region, year to year, and that are not highly quantified

The calculation of the budget of emissions from agriculture is a difficult problem. We can say with certainty the emissions are large and they change based on many factors. We can also say that the impact of agriculture on the environment is more far reaching than climate change. Anecdotally, most people think of the impacts of pesticides and herbicides, the issues of genetically modified organisms, soil erosion and water quality before they think of how agriculture and climate change play together. Agriculture is also a major focus of those who think about sustainability.

I ended the previous entry with a relatively weak statement that what we chose to eat or not eat does make a difference. I stated that at the top of the list, perhaps, the easiest decision is to eat less meat. The issue of eating meat, of course, steps into a set of the more controversial subjects of our society. For example, there are the issues of personal choice and intrusion into individual's lives. Also, there are those who place high value on the ethics of raising and slaughtering animals. There is no doubt, however, that livestock production uses immense resources.

The source of much of the material in my previous entry was Livestock’s Long Shadow a 2006 publication of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In that report they conclude:

“Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency. Major reduction in impact could be achieved at reasonable cost.”

As strong as this statement is, there is a school of thought that Livestock’s Long Shadow is a significant underestimation of the emissions due to livestock. Most notably is an analysis by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, Livestock and Climate Change, which does a different accounting of the budget of emissions of greenhouse gases. In Livestock and Climate Change it is maintained that there is significant undercounting and misallocation in the United Nations budget calculation. A point that is particularly important is that the proliferation of livestock production is human-made just as much as any building, road or power plant. Therefore, for example, the carbon dioxide of respiration of the animals needs to be considered in the budget calculation. Taking all of the budget changes in Livestock and Climate Change, the conclusion is that livestock is responsible for 51 percent of the total emissions. With this number, a far larger intervention is needed than “eat less meat.”

In December 2009, I took a group of students to the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. When I got off the subway at the conference center, there were two loud groups of advocates. One was People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who had gone around Copenhagen and placed markers on utility poles and in trees where sea level would be if the Greenland ice sheet melted. Another group claimed that if we were all vegetarian, then we could reduce global warming by 70 percent.

The numbers in Livestock and Climate Change follow from a well-reasoned argument in the calculation of the budget of the emissions due to livestock. However, they are not without controversy. This controversy can be found in a number of places on the web: Columbia Journalism Review and Lifting Livestock's Long Shadow, Nature Climate Change and Measuring Livestock's Long Shadow, NYTimes. At the center of the controversy is another accounting of the impact of livestock, Cleaning the Air: Livestock's Contribution to Climate Change by Maurice Pitesky and others. This paper takes a vastly different accounting and concludes that impact of livestock is much smaller than in the United Nations Report, Livestock’s Long Shadow. An interesting aspect of its argument is that “The fact that land-use changes associated with livestock (i.e., forested land converted to pasture or cropland used for feed production) are a significant source of anthropogenic GHGs in Latin America and other parts of the developing world is apparent. However, it is likely that any kind of land-use change from the original forestland will lead to great increases in global warming.” The argument being that development in countries with growing population will lead to deforestation. Their argument is carried further “The United States and most other developed countries have not experienced significant land-use change practices around livestock production within the last few decades. Instead, over the last 25 years forestland has increased by approximately 25 percent in the United States and livestock production has been intensified (concentrated geographically), thus reducing its geographical footprint.”

The line of reasoning in Cleaning the Air: Livestock's Contribution to Climate Change contributes to the argument that concentration into highly efficient, mass producing farms is a more practical way forward than reducing consumption (Livestock production and the global environment: Consume less or produce better?, by Henning Steinfeld and Pierre Gerber).

In this food niche of strategies to mitigate climate change, we see the same arguments emerge as in the discussion of fossil fuels. We could be more efficient in our use of resources. With efficiency, however, in the face of a growing population and growing consumption, we are still faced with a growth of emissions of greenhouse gases. Therefore, if climate-change and broader environmental issues are given priority, then we must consume less of those products that are responsible for our largest greenhouse emissions. We can conceive of sources of renewable energy that are free of carbon dioxide emissions. However, it is more difficult to imagine how we raise livestock without the methane and nitrous oxide emissions, and these greenhouse gases cannot be dismissed.

My original list topper on diet was eat less meat. If we take the high emissions scenario as correct, then a climate priority calls for an intervention into our dietary practices that is comparable to the intervention required for reducing fossil fuels. This is a change in diet that I assert will be more difficult than the change in our energy system. Therefore, back to the original question, “What can I do about climate change?” – eat (a lot) less meat. Vegetarianism is good for the planet. This from a man who does eat a lot less meat than he used to, but has been, I maintain, overidentified with BBQ.

r

Some dietary resources: I have not checked these out too closely!

Environmental Working Group: Meat Eaters Guide (I do like this group’s approach to things.)

Climate Diet

Human Media: The Diet-Climate Connection


Previous Entries in the Series

Setting Up the Discussion Deciding to do something, definition of mitigation and adaptation, and a cost-benefit anchored framework for thinking about mitigation

Smoking, Marriage and Climate Behavioral changes and peer pressure

Organizing and Growing Individual Efforts A little detail on efficiency and thinking about how individuals can have more impact than just that of a single person

The Complete List Eight categories of things we can do to reduce greenhouse gases

We Are What We Eat Counting agriculture and its emissions of greenhouse gases


Moderation of comments: I have been getting more and more complaints about what is going on in the comments. WU and I will be addressing this. To start, here is a modified version of Dr. Master’s Blog Contents Rules.

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339. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting SouthernIllinois:

Can we Boycott NASA? Oh wait. You'll get thrown in the slammer if you don't pay your taxes.

Any idea the spin-off products that have come from NASA? Money spent on NASA ends up skyrocketing about everything from human health benefits to commercial profits. Much of the technologies & material we use in our everyday lives & medical industry are a direct result of money spent on NASA. Lets compare NASA's 2010 budget with the military's..which at least a part of, is currently defending our global oil interests..which I can't boycott either.



Monsanto's Genetically Modified crops have been linked to health problems as diverse as reproductive damage, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. You know about all corn & soy that isn't organic is sprayed with round up before you eat it right? That is why genetically modified crops are banned in so many countries.


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Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Crucial Carbon Dioxide Reading Revised Downward
Meanwhile, yesterday also clocked in at over 400ppm:

ml
(Source)

At any rate, this will all soon be rendered moot. Next year's CO2 will likely reside above 400 ppm for several days or weeks at a time--and in just a few years, even the annual minimum concentration will be over the imaginary 400 line.

And the heat goes on, and the heat goes on...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13556
Quoting JohnLonergan:
What a revolting development this is:
The legacy of Ayn Rand lives on - in Canada - GREED IS GOOD!!!!
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Quoting JohnLonergan:
What a revolting development this is:

Canada Sells Out Science


Over the past few years, the Canadian government has been lurching into antiscience territory. For example, they’ve been muzzling scientists, essentially censoring them from talking about their research. Scientists have fought back against this, though from what I hear with limited success.



But a new development makes the situation appear to be far worse. In a stunning announcement, the National Research Council—the Canadian scientific research and development agency—has now said that they will only perform research that has “social or economic gain”.


This is not a joke. I wish it were.


John MacDougal, President of the NRC, literally said, “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value”. Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology, also stated “There is [sic] only two reasons why we do science and technology. First is to create knowledge ... second is to use that knowledge for social and economic benefit. Unfortunately, all too often the knowledge gained is opportunity lost.”
I've been watching this in horror. Harper and his administration seem hellbent on not allowing their country to fall behind the US in the race to partisan myopia, ignorance, and plain idiocy. The sad/scary part is, of course, that many on the radical Right in the US look upon Harper as someone to be emulated.

At any rate, this just means that profit-uber-alles nations such as the US and Canada will continue falling further and further behind a progressing world which is soon going to be eating our lunch. But maybe that's for the best; any nation concerned only about the welfare of its richest citizens doesn't really deserve to be a player anyway...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13556
Southern Illinois, there's something about you I like, and I'm glad you have joined the regulars here. You appear to be a conservative, yet your skepticism seems to be open to logic. I leave you with this, and hope that whether you are a Republican or Independent, you support the new movement regarding AGW/CC within the Republican Party, although there will be a huge effort by fossil fuel interests to smack it down.

Quoting nationaljournal.com:
And a quiet, but growing, number of other Republicans fear the same thing. Already, deep fissures are emerging between, on one side, a base of ideological voters and lawmakers with strong ties to powerful tea-party groups and super PACs funded by the fossil-fuel industry who see climate change as a false threat concocted by liberals to justify greater government control; and on the other side, a quiet group of moderates, younger voters, and leading conservative intellectuals who fear that if Republicans continue to dismiss or deny climate change, the party will become irrelevant.

“There is a divide within the party,” says Samuel Thernstrom, who served on President George W. Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality and is now a scholar of environmental policy at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “The position that climate change is a hoax is untenable.”

A concerted push has begun within the party—in conservative think tanks and grassroots groups, and even in backroom, off-the-record conversations on Capitol Hill—to persuade Republicans to acknowledge and address climate change in their own terms. The effort will surely add heat to the deep internal conflict in the years ahead.

Republicans have been struggling with an identity crisis since the 2012 presidential election. In particular, the nation’s rapid demographic changes are forcing the GOP to come to terms with the newly powerful influence of Hispanic voters and to confront the issue of immigration. For now, climate change isn’t getting anywhere close to that kind of urgent scrutiny from Republicans, at least not in public. GOP strategists say that Republican candidates hoping to win primary races, where the electorate tends to be older and more ideologically driven, are still best served to deny, ignore, or dismiss climate change.

Today, a Republican candidate “wouldn’t be able to win a primary with a Jon Huntsman position on this,” says strategist Glen Bolger.

The problem is, as polling data and the changing demographics of the American electorate show, it’s likely that the position that can win voters in a primary will lose voters in a general election. Some day, though, the facts—both scientific and demographic—will force GOP candidates to confront climate change whether they want to or not. And that day will come sooner than they think.

Already, the numbers tell the story. Polls show that a majority of Americans, and a plurality of Republicans, believe global warming is a problem. Concern about the issue is higher among younger voters and independents, who Republicans will need to attract if they want to win elections.
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What a revolting development this is:

Canada Sells Out Science


Over the past few years, the Canadian government has been lurching into antiscience territory. For example, they’ve been muzzling scientists, essentially censoring them from talking about their research. Scientists have fought back against this, though from what I hear with limited success.



But a new development makes the situation appear to be far worse. In a stunning announcement, the National Research Council—the Canadian scientific research and development agency—has now said that they will only perform research that has “social or economic gain”.


This is not a joke. I wish it were.


John MacDougal, President of the NRC, literally said, “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value”. Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology, also stated “There is [sic] only two reasons why we do science and technology. First is to create knowledge ... second is to use that knowledge for social and economic benefit. Unfortunately, all too often the knowledge gained is opportunity lost.”
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3356
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Sulfate Aerosols Cool Climate Less Than Assumed
Interesting new research that shows likely errors in climate models. Denialists may jump on it and shout with glee yet once again that the models are useless.

However, intelligent folks and logical thinkers will stroke their chins and say "Interesting - I wonder how much this will affect models and future projections. Probably not enough to make a significant difference, but we'll have to wait and see."

Sulfate produced catalytically through transition metal ions are formed on relatively large mineral dust particles, making them bigger than those formed through the reaction with hydrogen peroxide. Due to their size, they fall from the air at a faster rate -- by force of gravity. The time frame for climate cooling by sulfate particles could therefore be shorter than has been believed.

Eliza Harris assumes that the models have overestimated the climate cooling effect of sulfate aerosols. So far it is not quantifiable to what degree Harris' discovery will impact climate prognoses. However, future models should consider the TMI catalysis reaction as an important pathway for the oxidation of sulfur dioxide, says the scientist. She thinks that the impact on climate models of European regions might probably be low, as mineral dust concentrations in the air are small and sulfur dioxide (SO2)emissions are declining. "In India and China, however, where sulfur dioxide emissions are expected to rise in the near future, combined with significantly higher concentrations of mineral dust in the air, the effect could be stronger," assumes Harris. Future studies will show.

The study, which has been published in the journal Science (Vol…), was conducted in collaboration with the following institutes: the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research in Leipzig, the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, the Earth System Science Research Centre at the Institute of Geosciences at the University of Mainz, and the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Mainz.
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Climate Scientist Andrew Weaver wins the first ever Green party seat in BC election



"The British Columbia Green Party just made history, voters in the riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head elected Andrew Weaver, Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria, and a lead author for a chapter of the IPCC AR4, to the Legislative Assembly.

Andrew Weaver is the first Green party member ever to be elected to the legislative Assembly; his election continues the trend started by Elizabeth May, who was the first ever federal Green party member to be elected to the Canadian Parliament in the 2011 election."
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3356
329. Skyepony (Mod)
New App Lets You Boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto And More By Scanning Your Shopping Cart
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The Greenland Melt Extent has been below normal so far, according to the recent dataset from NSIDC:



And we shouldn't see any dramatic melting over the next several days or so, as heights remain near normal or below normal over the next several days:

Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting ScottLincoln:

Although coming from a model with varying degrees of input data depending on the date/time, don't let that fool you. A re-analysis is still typically based upon directly measured physical characteristics.
See page 5, the section called "Observations"


I agree that the CFS Reanalysis appears to be a good temperature indicator, given that there is now a very good correlation between GISS Temperature Anomalies and the CFS Temperature Anomalies. We should see an anomaly this month of around 0.5-0.55 Degrees C on GISS if the correlation continues.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
A Change in Temperature



I think that the brief discusion of climate sensitivity should had more empasis because many climate change deniers have been jumping on a recent paper by Annan and Hargeaves as supporting their claim that climate sensitivity is much lower than the commonly accepted estimates, as claimed by Pierre Gosselin in the 2nd paragraph below.

"James Annan, a mainstream climate scientist working at a Japanese institute, offers a best estimate of four and a half degrees Fahrenheit. When he wrote recently that he thought some of the highest temperature projections could be rejected, skeptics could not contain their enthusiasm.

“That is what we call a landmark change of course — by one of climatology’s most renowned warmist scientists,” declared a blogger named Pierre L. Gosselin. “If even Annan can see it, then the writing is truly emblazoned on the wall.” (emphasis added)

But does this sort of claim — that we can all breathe a sigh of relief about climate change — really hold up?

Dr. Annan said in an e-mail that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a mainstream body that periodically summarizes climate science, should be bolder about ruling out extreme temperature scenarios, but he still believes global warming is a sufficient threat to warrant changes in human behavior.


He noted that climate skeptics “are desperate to claim that the I.P.C.C. is being unreasonably alarmist, but on the other hand they don’t really want to agree with me either, because my views are close enough to the mainstream as to be unacceptable to them.” He added that he finds it “amusing to watch their gyrations as they try to square the circle.”" (emphasis added)


This statement by Dr. Annan clearly puts that claim to rest.


Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3356
Quoting SouthernIllinois:

The effects will be felt greater at polar regions than equatorial latitudes.
Indeed, SI! I am aware of that, and it was one of the factors that influenced my decision to retire here in Panama.

However, I am also aware that the polar changes due to AGW/CC will heavily influence mid-latitude weather - the U.S., Europe, and parts of Asia, where the jet stream controls much of the frontal weather systems that dominate weather in those latitudes.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Why do you consider the results if the reanalysis "questionable"? I've seen nothing whatsoever to indicate that the project was performed under anything less that the strictest adherence to scientific principles and practices. ((Read about it here.)

Heck, that's not the question I'd ask. I'd ask... if you are just going to reiterate everything that was already said, and you are posting to agree with the person who replied to you, why even post at all?
Quoting Snowlover123:


What I said was that because it's a reanalysis, means that it's temperature output is questionable, since temperatures are not being measured directly. However, given that there is a good correlation between the GISS Temperature Anomaly and the CFS Reanalysis Global Temperature Anomaly gives the reanalysis more credence.

Thanks for the link by the way.

Although coming from a model with varying degrees of input data depending on the date/time, don't let that fool you. A re-analysis is still typically based upon directly measured physical characteristics.
See page 5, the section called "Observations"
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Crucial Carbon Dioxide Reading Revised Downward
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
Law & Order: Endangered Species Unit
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
'It's time Germany got over its speed fetish'
Published: 14 May 13 14:58 CET

Suggesting speed limits for the autobahn is as politically toxic in Germany as gun control is in America. But it's time to hit the brakes on the country's reckless driving culture, comments The Local's Ben Knight.

Read the whole article on The Local; and that's true; Germany too has it's very irrational sides concerning environmental duties. We've got very close german familiy friends, living already for decades in Seattle (where I've once had the chance to visit them - very beautiful), who wouldn't dare to drive on a german "autobahn", when they make holiday in Germany. It's like on a race course and you need some steely nerves to survive, lol.

Edit: But to be true, when I'm in good mood, I would easily hit 100 mph too. But there are others who exceed 125 mph and much more, and Germany is very densly populated and doesn't have so much vast space as the US has.
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Could Carbon Dioxide Be Injected in Sandstone? Would It Stay There?
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
Interesting that the Arctic surface temperatures have been one of the cooler spots in the world in May so far, where typically they would be very warm:

Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting Neapolitan:
Why do you consider the results if the reanalysis "questionable"? I've seen nothing whatsoever to indicate that the project was performed under anything less that the strictest adherence to scientific principles and practices. ((Read about it here.)


What I said was that because it's a reanalysis, means that it's temperature output is questionable, since temperatures are not being measured directly, I believe. However, given that there is a good correlation between the GISS Temperature Anomaly and the CFS Reanalysis Global Temperature Anomaly gives the reanalysis more credence.

Thanks for the link by the way.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Learning to Recycle: Does Political Ideology Matter?


From that article:

In another interesting study, consumers were asked about their intentions to recycle, purchase CFL light bulbs, and conserve water after reading persuasive appeals. Consumers who call themselves conservatives showed greater commitment to sustainable behaviors when the appeals were accompanied by patriotic images, while appeals displaying a well-known charity (Habitat for Humanity) had a greater influence on consumers who call themselves liberals.

Maybe someone should create a more patriotic CC-blog in here, lol ("for the glory and the progress of our nation" or similar) ...
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Learning to Recycle: Does Political Ideology Matter?
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
Making Gold Green: New Non-Toxic Method for Mining Gold
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
Scientists Use Crowd-Sourcing to Help Map Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
Sulfate Aerosols Cool Climate Less Than Assumed
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
A Change in Temperature
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
Quoting Snowlover123:
The CFS doesn't actually measure temperatures, it's a reanalysis of temperatures, as you've pointed out. Thus it's data output is questionable.
Why do you consider the results if the reanalysis "questionable"? I've seen nothing whatsoever to indicate that the project was performed under anything less that the strictest adherence to scientific principles and practices. ((Read about it here.)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13556
This chart from Fastrup et al. 2000, gives us a good indicator with the level of scientific understanding that we have with the Indirect Solar Forcing. It's virtually zero. More research needs to be enacted to quantify and constrain the indirect solar radiative forcing on Climate Change over the last 100 years.

Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting AlwaysThinkin:


C3 plants typically respond better to atmospheric CO2 enrichment than do C4 plants in terms of increasing their rates of photosynthesis and biomass production [see C4 Plants (Biomass and Photosynthesis)].

Cowpeas are a C3 plant

Hopefully they will point out that while yes c3 plants benefit from higher co2 levels c4 plants largely don't. We mainly grow c4 plants here in the midwest (e.g. corn).


Thanks for the link.

I wonder how much of an enhancement would occur with C4 plants, and CAM Plants?
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Quoting ScottLincoln:

The CFS model temperature anomalies use 1980-2010 as their base period. GISTemp uses 1951-1980 as their base period. That ~0.55C difference is basically the global warming of the near-surface air temperature that occurred over those 30 years, roughly 0.18C/decade, not including possible interpolation differences and measurement uncertainties.

You really aren't "predicting" anything, it's more that you are just converting baselines to make them directly comparable.


The CFS doesn't actually measure temperatures, it's a reanalysis of temperatures, as you've pointed out. Thus it's data output is questionable. However, there appears to be a good correlation between GISS temperature anomalies and the CFS Global Temperatures when the baseline is adjusted.

The GISS temperature anomalies come out in the middle of the month, whereas the CFS temperature anomalies update immediately. We can get a good idea of how this month will shape up on GISS in about a couple weeks or so.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
Scientists Find Extensive Glacial Retreat in Mount Everest Region

May 13, 2013 — Researchers taking a new look at the snow and ice covering Mount Everest and the national park that surrounds it are finding abundant evidence that the world's tallest peak is shedding its frozen cloak. The scientists have also been studying temperature and precipitation trends in the area and found that the Everest region has been warming while snowfall has been declining since the early 1990s.

Whole article on Science Daily
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Wahooo! Passed 400!

Over 400ppm Global CO2 levels.

Silly environmentalists said it Couldn't be done~

oh wait, that was Shouldn't.
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From Carbon Brief, intersting discussion of deep ocean measurments;

How scientists take earth%u2019s temperature: an interview with climate expert Richard Allan


For more than a hundred years, scientists have known greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere. But despite trapping more and more heat, earth's surface temperature over the past decade and a half has risen slowly. And understanding where the extra heat ends up can be more complicated.

We talk to Dr Richard Allan, lead researcher on a new project called Deep-C, about how the tools to take earth's temperature have changed - and how new measurements can help scientists investigate what's behind the surface warming slowdown.

Allan is a climate science researcher at the University of Reading's department of meteorology. His career has focussed on combining measurements with climate models to understand changes in earth's climate.

Heat sink

When we talk about the earth's temperature, we usually mean the temperature of the air above the land and ocean, or surface temperature, as it's what humans experience most directly. But surface temperature is only a small part of the climate system. In fact, most of the extra heat the planet absorbs goes into the oceans below the surface. Allan tells us:

"The vast ocean has a huge capacity to store heat %u2026 There's a very good relationship between the extra radiative energy entering the top of Earth's atmosphere - due to increases in greenhouse gases - and ocean heating."



Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb and re-emit infrared radiation, causing the climate system to warm. Source: Okanagan university college in Canada.

Some heat also goes into melting earth's bodies of ice: the Arctic, the ice sheets and mountain glaciers. But compared to the oceans, it's not much:

"[T]he amount of energy that goes into melting that ice is very small compared to the amount of energy that goes into heating the ocean."

These heat flows mean that understanding how climate change is affecting the planet means you need to understand more than how surface temperatures are changing, Allan says.

"To balance the books you need to be measuring the energy coming in at the top of the atmosphere and all the places where it's going to really understand how the climate is heating."

Improving temperature measurements

Allen tells us that scientists have a wealth of data documenting how air temperatures have changed, dating back from the first thermometers in the 17th century:

"[W]e still use the methods for measuring air temperature over land that we used hundreds of years ago but global coverage increased during the 19th and 20th centuries."



18th century Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius, who founded the temperature scale which bears his name.

Although the area covered by temperature data has expanded over the centuries, some parts of the world, like the Arctic and Antarctic, still aren't very well sampled. Data from satellites has helped fill in gaps in temperature measurement, although it can't take the place of direct measurements just yet. Allan says:

"[W]e're not really at the stage of accurately measuring temperature over land from satellites only, we still need to use meteorological instruments. With satellites you're indirectly measuring temperature, so you have to be careful about other factors that can influence what the satellite sees."

To draw robust conclusions about how the climate is changing, Allan says scientists need data that covers at least 100 years. This means historic thermometer data is still needed to give a full picture:

"[There are] slow natural fluctuations in the ocean ... if you're measuring for a period of ten, 20 or even 30 years, you might just be measuring part of that natural cycle. You need to have a longer term perspective so you can put these bumps and troughs in context of longer timescale changes."

Ocean warming

So is new data telling scientists new things about recent warming? Despite greenhouse gas concentrations continuing to rise at a fairly steady pace, earth's surface hasn't actually warmed very much in the last decade and half.

Scientists think the most likely reason for this surface warming slowdown is because natural climate cycles are causing heat to enter the deep oceans instead of staying in the atmosphere.

In the past, it's been difficult to test this theory. But there have been huge advances recently in how scientists monitor ocean temperature.

It used to be that scientists sent instruments over the side of ships to measure temperature to a depth of about 700 m. But that has changed in the past decade with the ARGO project - a network of free-floating buoys traversing the world's oceans to measure temperatures. Allan explains:

"[ARGO buoys] float freely with the ocean current, sinking down to a depth of 1,800 m then coming back up again to transmit their data to satellites, then sinking back down again, and so on."
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ARGO floats repeatedly sink to a depth of about 1,800 metres then come back up to transmit temperature data via satellite. The lifetime of each float is about four years. Source: Met Office

ARGO floats first started sending temperature data in 2000, but Allan says that coverage has been more or less global since about 2005:

"We now have almost the whole global ocean sampled down to nearly 2,000 metres with these ARGO floats %u2026 There's going to be some even deeper ARGO buoys in the future which will go down to below 2,000 m, which will help us understand where the heat is going in the oceans."
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Argo floats have been deployed since 2000 and have now near global coverage of the world's oceans. Source: Met Office

Scientists tackle surface warming slowdown

The Deep-C project brings climate scientists from across the UK together to investigate the root cause of the recent slowdown in surface warming. Allan says the Walker Institute at the University of Reading is collaborating with several other partners on the project:

"We are linking up with NASA's Langley research centre, who are world leading experts in measuring how much heat is coming into earth's system. We're collaborating with the UK National Oceanography Centre who are the leading expertise in the oceans. And we've got leading climate modellers down at the Met Office and experts in ocean processes."

Allan tells us the way climate models and temperature data have matured in the last decade or so means scientists are now well equipped to tackle this fundamental question of recent warming. He says:

"I think we're very well-placed to be able to tackle the mechanisms of where heat is being [transported] into the ocean %u2026 We now have the tools and expertise available to do this."

While many seek rapid answers to the question of what's causing slower surface temperature rise, scientists know it's likely to be a complicated one to unravel - and one that may take longer than the four-years of the DeepC project.

But Allan is confident the lifetime of DeepC will see key questions starting to be answered and beyond that, drawing together the wealth of data available will be a lasting legacy in terms of how scientists continue to tackle fundamental climate questions in the future.


Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3356
Quoting AlwaysThinkin:


What a great problem to have! It sounds like your neighbors to the east want to help you out with that problem


Thank you for the link; I didn't know that. And in some way really great news (if you forget that it's a bit weird to transport organic food from so far away when there are enough fields just around you).
And yeah, I don't miss the iron curtain, too.
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Quoting barbamz:
As I've already said: It's really difficult to shop with good conscience ...

German farmers can't keep up with organic boom

Organic produce is a given in a lot of shops in Germany. But while demand is increasing, cultivation is lagging behind. Since Germany is failing to turn out enough organic products on its own, many of the products must be imported.

Read the whole article on Deutsche Welle English (May 14th)


What a great problem to have! It sounds like your neighbors to the east want to help you out with that problem

Russia wants to feed Europe with organic food

Read the rest of the article at Pravda (isn't it weird that we can now link to Pravda without worrying that it's all Soviet propaganda?)

Here's a small pdf assesment on the opportunites and challenges of increasing the Russian organic market for domestic and international consumers.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 394
OUCH!!



Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Amid Rapid Arctic Warming, U.S. Releases New Strategy

By Andrew Freedman, published: May 14th, 2013 , Last Updated: May 14th, 2013

With ministers from the eight Arctic states meeting Wednesday in Kiruna, Sweden, for the 2013 ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council, the Obama administration has laid out a broad new U.S. Arctic policy that sets strategic goals for how the U.S. will cope with the rapidly changing region. The %u201CNational Strategy for the Arctic Region%u201D features the conflicting goals of accessing some of the Arctic%u2019s potentially abundant natural resources %u2014 such as oil, gas, and minerals %u2014 and the need to protect the once pristine environment of a region that is only becoming more accessible because of global warming.

Whole article on ClimateCentral

BTW, can't wait to see how the big crack in the artic ice has developed since yesterday.

Edit: Wait, Aqua/Modis already caught a glimpse:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
As I've already said: It's really difficult to shop with good conscience ...

German farmers can't keep up with organic boom

Organic produce is a given in a lot of shops in Germany. But while demand is increasing, cultivation is lagging behind. Since Germany is failing to turn out enough organic products on its own, many of the products must be imported.

Read the whole article on Deutsche Welle English (May 14th)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Fewer Rain Forests Mean Less Energy for Developing Nations, Study Finds

"The loss of tropical rain forests is likely to reduce the energy output of hydroelectric projects in countries like Brazil that are investing billions of dollars to create power to support economic growth.


That is the conclusion of a group of experts whose findings, released Monday, run counter to the conventional understanding of deforestation’s impact on watersheds.

For years, scientists and engineers have noted an increase in river flows when the trees along streams are removed. The water in the soil, which would otherwise have been taken up by the tree roots and sent into the atmosphere, instead moves directly into streams and rivers.

At the same time, large areas of tropical forest actually create rain clouds as moisture from their leaves evaporates. So the elimination of swaths of these forests decreases rainfall. Cut down enough trees, the scientists argue, and the indirect impact of lost rainfall outweighs the direct impact of removing trees.

The study, published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts that extensive deforestation will leave less water in the rivers to generate hydropower from projects like Belo Monte, which is under construction on the Xingu River in Brazil and will be the world’s third largest hydropower complex.

The Belo Monte project, whose massive scope and impact on the landscape have led to opposition, is expected to generate at least 4,400 megawatts of electricity, the study said. The project’s overall capacity would be more than 11,000 megawatts; because of wide variations in seasonal flows of the Xingu River, the lower output is what developers guarantee.

But the study warns that by 2050 as much as 40 percent of this power could be lost because of the reduced rainfall caused by regional deforestation.

Loss of tropical rain forests in the Amazon basin, Central Africa, Indonesia and other parts of the world has been a pressing environmental issue for two decades, but the debate has been framed largely in two ways. First, that the loss of the forests accelerates worldwide climate change be removing a large carbon sink that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Second, that the deforestation destroys the livelihoods of indigenous communities.

The idea that deforestation could reduce rainfall and thus economically harm a country like Brazil, which gets more than 80 percent of its energy from hydropower, is less familiar news.

Noting the established connection between the loss of trees and an increase in river flow, Claudia M. Stickler, the paper’s lead author, said researchers in the Amazon basin “saw effects where the conventional wisdom did not hold true.”

“They removed so much forest that it reduced rainfall and reduced the stream flow,” she added.

A co-author, Daniel C. Nepstad, who like Dr. Stickler works at the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research in Brasília, said rain forests create rain because they “are in the equatorial sun, evaporating a huge amount of water that goes up through the stems and into the leaves and out into the atmosphere.” That moisture feeds rain clouds.

In some eastern and southern tributaries of the Amazon, he added, “the cycle has changed.” The Xingu River, he said, is already near a tipping point where the increased flows caused by the loss of tree roots will be nullified by the overall loss of rainfall.

The authors concluded that “as tropical rain forest nations turn increasingly to hydropower to meet growing demands for ‘green’ electricity, it is important” that planners take into account the links between forest cover and stream flows."
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3356
Quoting DirxqueWx:


Paramedics... They never drive hybrids.


Probably for the better I'm sure you and other willful people would turn them away unless they drove up in an Excursion. I get that you don't like science, but why are you so angry at people who do?
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 394
Quoting DirxqueWx:
If you listen closely, you can actually hear the sound of my eyes rolling as it echoes through the universe.

Yeah, see, that shouldn't be happening. A trip to the doctor might be in order. Somethin' ain't right in there. Your bearing most likely.
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5469
Quoting no1der:
Increased leaf damage from chewing and mining insects is well-documented from the PETM atmospheric Carbon excursion, ca. 56Ma.

Currano et al.'Sharply increased insect herbivory during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum' PNAS 105 no. 6 (2008)

http://www.pnas.org/content/105/6/1960.long


We've seen some of that with pine beetles in the western U.S. They are able to get two broods in areas where they used to only get one. Also, they are affecting areas where the winter temps aren't cold enough anymore to control their populations. Forests destroyed by pine beetles become sources of carbon as the trees decay, and the land warms more from the sun without the live trees.
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Quoting AlwaysThinkin:


Have fun with your heart attack then. I'm sure the paramedics will be thrilled with your decision.


Paramedics... They never drive hybrids.
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Quoting DirxqueWx:
In honor of this ridiculous blog, I'm going to eat a steak the size of a toilet seat


Have fun with your heart attack then. I'm sure the paramedics will be thrilled with your decision.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 394
ignorant, stupid and spiteful is no way to go through life, son.

Quoting DirxqueWx:
If you listen closely, you can actually hear the sound of my eyes rolling as it echoes through the universe.

Tell you what, eat animals, don't eat animals, do whatever you want to do. We'd have less toxic emissions if whiners would quit whining.

In honor of this ridiculous blog, I'm going to eat a steak the size of a toilet seat, and leave my car running the entire time it takes to grill it. (Using old growth hardwood brought in on a barely loaded truck with an exhaust issue)
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 680
Quoting DirxqueWx:
If you listen closely, you can actually hear the sound of my eyes rolling as it echoes through the universe.

Tell you what, eat animals, don't eat animals, do whatever you want to do. We'd have less toxic emissions if whiners would quit whining.

In honor of this ridiculous blog, I'm going to eat a steak the size of a toilet seat, and leave my car running the entire time it takes to grill it. (Using old growth hardwood brought in on a barely loaded truck with an exhaust issue)

Thanks for stopping by to provide that constructive comment.
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Quoting SouthernIllinois:


Not too surprised to see this. I live in Southern Wisconsin and it seems several of them are popping up in my back yard almost like an invasive species. Too bad buckeyes aren't edible.

Or if these fell off of them yummie!

Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 394

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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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