Monday, November 05, 2012

This Morning's Bad, Good and Ugly

Three weeks ago Bill McKibben was calling the weather "weird" because there weren't any storms:

On the other hand, the un-scienctism continues elsewhere:

At least some people are trying; Gavin Schmidt quoted in USA Today, last year:
Another outside climate scientist, Gavin Schmidt of Columbia University, said by email that public discussions of the role of climate change in extreme weather events, "oscillate between two equally unlikely extremes - that all weather events are caused by global warming or that global warming has no effect on weather at all." Too often, the discussion finally descends to name-calling ("alarmist" or "denier") between disagreeing sides, he adds:

"The facts of the matter are this: the planet's climate has changed over the last 30 years, chiefly because of human activities. This will impact the weather - in the trivial sense that the specific weather we are having is not the same as the weather that we would have had without human actions, but also in the non-trivial sense that probabilities of various outcomes will shift - sometimes towards more extremes and sometimes towards less. We have a great deal of difficulty characterizing these changes because of insufficient observations (not enough 100 year periods to properly estimate 100 year events), insufficient attention to extremes in modeling and theory, inaccessibility of model results for extremes, and the basic statistical difficulty in attributing infrequent occurrences.

"Nonetheless, the data are good enough to say some things about certain kinds of extremes (heat waves, rainfall intensity (both going up), cold snaps (going down) etc.). In far more cases however, the studies simply have not been done, or the data are simply not good enough to say much, and pundits are tending to extrapolate. That is something most scientists are loath to do."

For researchers, he adds, tracing the role of global warming in extreme weather presents an intriguing problem. "However, the portrayal of this nuanced field in public as either proving that global warming is bad, or that scientists are alarmists, is a travesty. The impact on extremes from human emissions is one of a myriad reasons why we probably don't want to continue to mess with the planetary energy balance."
From the same article:
"There's really no such thing as natural weather anymore," says climate scientist Donald Wuebbles of the University of Illinois, who was not involved with the report, but said he largely agreed with its conclusions. "Anything that takes place today in the weather system has been affected by the changes we've made to the climate system. That's just the background situation and it's good for people to know that," Wuebbles says. Although scientists cannot immediately tie what percentage of an extreme weather event relies on global warming to make it more severe, he says. "It's always a factor in today's world."
And while the IPCC has clarified who can and who can't called themself a Nobel Laureaute, this campus ad by National Review wasn't worthy of a magazine who seeks to have their ideas taken seriously:

Honoring Michael Mann’s Nobel Prize

To mark Michael Mann’s Nobel Prize, we bought this full-page ad that ran in today’s Penn State student newspaper. 

—Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. 

I guess they are trying to gin up a few donations for their legal fund.

I still think "Nobel Contributor" has just the right ring to it.

1 comment:

Peter Gleick said...

Thanks, David, for posting my retweet of Trump. I thought Donald Trump's tweet was pretty stunning for its ignorance, insensitivity, and weirdness -- even for Trump!