June, 2017

Much of my news comes from The Daily Climate, whose wonderful subscription service clues me in to what's going on each day. Another great source of stories (and commentaries) comes from my friend Jim Poyser, at Apocadocs.

2017

June, 2017

6/25/2017

  • Exxon, Stephen Hawking, greens, and Reagan’s advisors agree on a carbon tax: Nearly everyone other than science-denying Republican Party leaders understands the importance of a carbon pollution tax
  • Energy CEOs tell Pruitt they want carbon regulation: Dozens of power industry executives who flew to Washington for a Monday meeting with U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had three minutes apiece to tell him whether they want to replace the Clean Power Plan.
    • But Pruitt didn't seem convinced, according to one source with knowledge of the discussion. The EPA chief could instead forgo replacing the carbon rule and decide to challenge the agency's underlying endangerment finding, which requires it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Treading the Fine Line Between Climate Talk and Alarmism: As my talk came to its end, a quiet man in his mid-50s spoke up, slowly and measuredly. He told me, "You know, no one wants to be called an alarmist. But it is OK to sound the alarm on this."
    • As an example, the city of Seattle is planning for average annual temperatures to increase within a range of 1.5 to 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 to 3 degrees Celsius) by the 2040s, with summer temperatures increasing by as much as 7.9 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius), according to the Seattle Climate Action Plan. And neighboring Vancouver can expect summer temperatures by the 2050s to be somewhere between those of present-day Seattle and San Diego.
    • Like most scientists, the last thing that I want is to be called is an alarmist. To be an alarmist smacks of everything we are trained to avoid as academics — ideology, magical thinking, self-inflation, ego (to be sure, I am still working on all these pieces). This advice from a stranger in a church in Everett, Washington, vented a pressure valve in my mind — this impossible bind between communicating alarming information and deeply eschewing the "alarmist" public role. The late Steve Schneider wrote about the double ethical bind of communicating both effectively and honestly as a scientist, and described it as "no-win scenario." Based on my experience in the public eye, and specifically as a female academic, I agree.
    • What is our role in public leadership as scientists? I would suggest a few action items: Work to reduce risk and cost for the public; steward the public's interest in evidence; and be steady and committed to the scientific process of dissent, revision and discovery. This means communicating risk when necessary. We would never fault an oncologist for informing patients about the cancer risks that come with smoking. Why would we expect Earth scientists to be any different, when we're just as certain?
    • We are living through a crisis of trust between the American public and climate scientists, and we must extend ourselves, as scientists and public servants, to rebuild transparency and trust with the public. I will start: I want the global community to mitigate the extreme risk of the warmest future climate scenarios. And, I want my kid to eat salmon and ski with his grandkids in the future. I am invested in that cooler, safer, more sustainable future — for your kids and for mine. Just don't call me an alarmist.

6/20/2017

  • A huge part of Antarctica is melting and scientists say that's bad news: There's an area on the west side of the icy continent called the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and last January, scientists found a 300,000-square-mile portion of its perimeter was melting. That's an area roughly two times the size of California, covered in slush.
  • Rick Perry Denies Climate Change Role of CO2: The U.S. energy secretary acknowledged humans do have an effect on the changing climate. But he says ocean waters and the environment most likely control climate
    • Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions are the main driver of the earth's record-setting warming, a core finding of climate science. Instead, Perry said, the driver is most likely "the ocean waters and this environment that we live in."
    • Perry became the second of President Donald Trump's cabinet members to go on television to publicly dismiss the importance of CO2 in global warming, ignoring the scientific evidence. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected its role in answer to essentially the same question in March, also on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
    • His view comes at a time of record-setting temperatures around the world. The U.S. southwest is entering a brutal heat wave, parts of the Middle East are even hotter, and a fatal wildfire in Portugal punctuated a tremendous hot spell in that part of Europe. No part of the world has been immune from the damages of the warming climate in the past few years.

6/18/2017

  • Scientists stunned by Antarctic rainfall and a melt area bigger than Texas: Scientists have documented a recent, massive melt event on the surface of highly vulnerable West Antarctica that, they fear, could be a harbinger of future events as the planet continues to warm.
    • In the Antarctic summer of 2016, the surface of the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest floating ice platform on Earth, developed a sheet of meltwater that lasted for as long as 15 days in some places. The total area affected by melt was 300,000 square miles, or larger than the state of Texas, the scientists report.

What went on: 2016

What went on: 2015

What went on: 2014

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