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This story was originally published by Fusion and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. When Derrick Crowe moved back to Texas after working on Capitol Hill for six years, he thought that he was done with national politics. “Having worked on the Hill extensively, you get a pretty good idea what life is like if you’re a member of Congress,” says Crowe, who served as congressional staffer for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA). “It’s a difficult life, and it’s difficult for your family.” Nevertheless, the 36-year-old native Texan and self-proclaimed “science nerd” now finds himself reentering the political stage, this time running for Congress himself in a climate-oriented campaign to unseat one of the most ardent climate change deniers in Washington, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). “Things have gone too far in this district and in this country for me to stand on the sidelines,” says Crowe in a statement announcing his bid for Texas’s 21st Congressional District — an area that includes parts of Austin, San Antonio, and a large swath of the Texas Hill Country. “We don’t have much time to avoid truly catastrophic impacts by changing our behavior and energy use here in the United States,” he says. “And Lamar Smith is blocking every single one of those efforts.” Far beyond simply rejecting the science surrounding climate change, Rep. Smith seems to have made it his personal mission to go after any scientist that disagrees with him — which is 97 percent of the scientific community when it comes to climate science. As chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Smith has used his nearly unlimited powers to subpoena — as well as the committee’s Twitter feed — to effectively “troll” and intimidate federal scientists, accusing many of rigging climate data. Since assuming the chairmanship, he has issued over 50 subpoenas and has also used his powers to shield ExxonMobil from investigations by New York and Massachusetts Attorney Generals over allegations that the company may have buried global warming data. Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, Michael Mann, calls Smith’s tactics “a McCarthy-like assault on science.” “Climate change is perhaps the greatest threat we now face as a civilization,” Mann says. “For politicians to intentionally confuse the public about the reality and threat of climate change is essentially an act of treason.” But for Smith, who believes that the greatest threat we face is a “liberal media bias,” scientists like Mann are not reliable sources of information. In fact, during one remarkable speech on the House floor, the Texas congressman went so far as to suggest that the “the only way to get the unvarnished truth” might be to get it from President Trump himself. Antics like these, combined with Trump’s overall efforts to roll back environmental protections, ultimately convinced Crowe to run for office against Smith. “Every indication shows that the planet is warming at an escalating rate, and instead of escalating alarm from our political system, we are seeing an escalating denialism,” says Crowe. “I just couldn’t tolerate it.” Born and raised in Sunray, a small town in the Texas panhandle, Crowe graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in political science. After working for six years in Washington, he returned to his former home in Austin with his wife Laurie to raise their newborn son. Today, Crowe serves as the communications director for the SAFE Alliance, a nonprofit that works with victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Describing himself as an “unabashed nerd and unapologetic advocate for science and reason,” Crowe has spent much of his free time over the past two years working as a climate organizer in Austin. He rattles global warming statistics off the top of his head, while offering some surprisingly specific policy solutions like implementing a carbon fee and dividend program and focusing on renewables. Voicing a sense of urgency lacking in Washington today, Crowe worries about what the future will be like for his 2-year-old son, Henry. “To cut right to the chase, if we don’t have carbon emissions slashed to nearly zero by the time my son graduates high school, we will virtually guarantee that we’ll see catastrophic climate changes in our lifetime,” he says. Crowe’s campaign comes amidst a nationwide movement to get scientists and climate advocates into office, a counterpoise to the Trump administration’s anti-science agenda. Several organizations such as 314 Action, Climate Hawk’s Vote, and the newly founded Lead Locally have sprung into action, recruiting, funding, and training scientists and environmentalists in the rigors of political campaigning. While the 2018 midterm elections are still 18 months away, a number of scientists have already responded to the widespread discontent visibly demonstrated across the country during last month’s marches for science and climate action. More than 400 people signed up on 314 Action’s recruitment form within the first two weeks of opening, including Jess Phoenix, a California volcanologist who plans to challenge one of Smith’s colleagues on the House science committee, Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA). “If not scientists, if not people who really understand what’s at stake, then who’s going to step up?” Phoenix said in an interview with The Washington Post. Rep. Knight, along with Rep. Smith and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), make up a trio of politicians specifically targeted by 314 Action for their climate views. Although Crowe is not a scientist, he believes his combination of political experience and environmental activism makes him the right man for the job. However, for a liberal progressive running in a traditionally conservative district that has voted Lamar Smith into office 16 times in a row, beating the longstanding incumbent will be challenging. “There’s no illusion that this will be easy,” Crowe admits, but as he points out there are signs that Rep. Smith’s hold on the district may be slipping. Last year, Smith’s hometown paper, The San Antonio News-Express, withdrew its longstanding endorsement of the congressman, over what the editors called an “abuse of his position as chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.” “Specifically, it is his bullying on the issue of climate change that should concern all Americans,” wrote the paper’s editorial board. Smith won the election without the paper’s endorsement, but with only 57 percent of the vote — the first time that he had dropped below 60 percent. This may mean that the race for Texas’s 21st district will be closer than ever before, and Crowe hopes that Trump’s radical policies will continue to energize progressive Democrats and perhaps even sway a few moderate conservatives to his cause. Nationwide, there have been some surprisingly close special elections in traditionally Republican districts that some say indicate this sort of anti-Trump backlash may already be taking form. “We are going to talk to every person we can find and convince people that the time is now to have some faith in the political system and drive these folks from office,” Crowe says, and unlike his opponent, he pledges not to take any contribution from corporate PACs. According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, Smith has received over $700,000 from oil and gas over the course of his political career. Unsurprisingly, he has consistently voted in favor of fossil fuel projects, supporting the expansion of offshore drilling and the opening of new oil refineries, while voting against tax cuts for renewable energy and blocking measures that would curtail the billions of dollars in government subsidies given to the fossil fuel industry. Rep. Smith could not be reached for comment on this article. “It shouldn’t be lost on anybody that he is serving other masters besides his constituents,” says Crowe, who  grew up next to a refinery in Sunray now owned by one of Smith’s big donors, Valero. He remembers how terrible it smelled, joking, “it smelled like money.” “I don’t expect to beat Lamar Smith ever in the fundraising race,” he says. “But we will be able to offer a much more compelling message and be able to motivate voters in a way that corporate money can’t.” Crowe isn’t the only one looking to take Smith down, and at least seven other Democratic candidates have announced their intention to run for the 21st district — an emergency physician Ryan Allen, entrepreneurs Joseph Kopser and Elliott McFadden, defense lawyer Chris Perri, political activist Rexi Melton, pastor Rev. Mary Wilson, and Thomas Wakely, who lost against Smith last October with 36 percent percent of the vote. With such a competitive field, Crowe knows it’s going to be a tough race, but he is encouraged by the support he has received already. Still, even if he doesn’t win, he admits it’s the effort that’s important. In the end, this race is a personal one. “I really see myself standing for a livable future for my kid,” Crowe says. “If the worst happens, I can’t be the person that doesn’t have a good answer when he asks me what I did.”


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

A recent scientific paper by a University of Maryland-led international team of distinguished scientists, including five members of the National Academies, argues that there are critical two-way feedbacks missing from current climate models that are used to inform environmental, climate, and economic policies. The most important inadequately-modeled variables are inequality, consumption, and population. In this research, the authors present extensive evidence of the need for a new paradigm of modeling that incorporates the feedbacks that the Earth system has on humans, and propose a framework for future modeling that would serve as a more realistic guide for policy making and sustainable development. The large, interdisciplinary team of 20 coauthors are from a number of universities (University of Maryland, Northeastern University, Columbia University, George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University, and Brown University) and other institutions (Joint Global Change Research Institute, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the Institute for Global Environment and Society, Japan’s RIKEN research institute, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center). The study explains that the Earth System (e.g., atmosphere, ocean, land, and biosphere) provides the Human System (e.g., humans and their production, distribution, and consumption) not only the sources of its inputs (e.g., water, energy, biomass, and materials) but also the sinks (e.g., atmosphere, oceans, rivers, lakes, and lands) that absorb and process its outputs (e.g., emissions, pollution, and other wastes). Titled "Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems", the article describes how the recent rapid growth in resource use, land-use change, emissions, and pollution has made humanity the dominant driver of change in most of the Earth’s natural systems, and how these changes, in turn, have critical feedback effects on humans with costly and serious consequences, including on human health and well-being, economic growth and development, and even human migration and societal conflict. However, the paper argues that these two-way interactions ("bidirectional coupling") are not included in the current models. The Oxford University Press's multidisciplinary journal National Science Review, which published the paper, also highlighted the paper in a separate "Research Highlight", pointing out that "the rate of change of atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4, and N2O [the primary greenhouse gases] increased by over 700, 1000, and 300 times (respectively) in the period after the Green Revolution when compared to pre-industrial rates." See attached figure. "Many datasets, for example, the data for the total concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, show that human population has been a strong driver of the total impact of humans on our planet Earth. This is seen particularly after the two major accelerating regime shifts: Industrial Revolution (~1750) and Green Revolution (~1950)" said Safa Motesharrei, UMD systems scientist and lead author of the paper. "For the most recent time, we show that the total impact has grown on average ~4 percent between 1950 and 2010, with almost equal contributions from population growth (~1.7 percent) and GDP per capita growth (~2.2 percent). This corresponds to a doubling of the total impact every ~17 years. This doubling of the impact is shockingly rapid." "However, these human impacts can only truly be understood within the context of economic inequality,” pointed out political scientist and co-author Jorge Rivas of the Institute for Global Environment and Society. "The average per capita resource use in wealthy countries is 5 to 10 times higher than in developing countries, and the developed countries are responsible for over three quarters of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from 1850 to 2000." "The disparity is even greater when inequality within countries is included," added University of Maryland geographer and coauthor Klaus Hubacek. "For example, about 50 percent of the world’s people live on less than $3 per day, 75 percent on less than $8.50, and 90 percent on less than $23. One effect of this inequality is that the top 10 percent produce almost as much total carbon emissions as the bottom 90 percent combined." The study explains that increases in economic inequality, consumption per capita, and total population are all driving this rapid growth in human impact, but that the major scientific models of Earth-Human System interaction do not bidirectionally couple Earth System Models with the primary Human System drivers of change such as demographics, inequality, economic growth, and migration. Instead of two-way coupling with these primary human drivers of change, the researchers argue that current models usually use independent, external projections of those drivers. "This lack of two-way coupling makes current models likely to miss critical feedbacks in the combined Earth-Human system", said National Academy of Engineering member and co-author Eugenia Kalnay, a Distinguished University Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland. "It would be like trying to predict El Niño with a sophisticated atmospheric model but with the Sea Surface Temperatures taken from external, independent projections by, for example, the United Nations. Without including the real feedbacks, predictions for coupled systems cannot work; the model will get away from reality very quickly," said Kalnay In this new scientific research, the authors present extensive evidence of the need for a new paradigm of modeling that incorporates the feedbacks that the Earth System has on humans, and propose a framework for future modeling that would serve as a more realistic guide for policymaking and sustainable development. "Ignoring this bidirectional coupling of the Earth and Human Systems can lead to missing something important, even decisive, for the fate of our planet and our species," said co-author Mark Cane, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who recently won the Vetlesen Prize for creating the first coupled ocean–atmosphere model with feedbacks that successfully predicted El Niño. "The result of not dynamically modeling these critical Human-Earth System feedbacks would be that the environmental challenges humanity faces may be significantly underestimated. Moreover, there’s no explicit role given to policies and investments to actively shape the course in which the dynamics unfold. Rather, as the models are designed now, any intervention — almost by definition — comes from the outside and is perceived as a cost," said co-author Matthias Ruth, Director and Professor at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University. "Such modeling, and the mindset that goes with it, leaves no room for creativity in solving some of the most pressing challenges." ''The paper correctly highlights that other human stressors, not only the climate ones, are very important for long-term sustainability, including the need to reduce inequality'', said Carlos Nobre (not a co-author), one of the world’s leading Earth System scientists, who recently won the prestigious Volvo Environment Prize in Sustainability for his role in understanding and protecting the Amazon. ''Social and economic equality empowers societies to engage in sustainable pathways, which includes, by the way, not only the sustainable use of natural resources but also slowing down population growth, to actively diminish the human footprint on the environment.'' Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, who is not a co-author of the paper, commented: "We cannot separate the issues of population growth, resource consumption, the burning of fossil fuels, and climate risk. They are part of a coupled dynamical system, and, as the authors show, this has dire potential consequences for societal collapse. The implications couldn’t be more profound." This work was supported by the University of Maryland Council on the Environment 2014 Seed Grant (1357928). The authors would like to acknowledge the following grants and institutions: SM, KF, and KH: National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)--US National Science Foundation (NSF) award DBI-1052875; JR: The Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES); GRA: Laboratory Directed Research and Development award by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is managed by the Battelle Memorial Institute for the US Department of Energy; MAC: Office of Naval Research, research grant MURI N00014-12-1-0911; FMW: NSF award CBET-1541642; VMY: The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET). "Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems" is available at: https://academic.oup.com/nsr/article/doi/10.1093/nsr/nww081/2669331/Modeling-Sustainability-Population-Inequality and https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nww081; or PDF https://academic.oup.com/nsr/article-pdf/3/4/470/10325470/nww081.pdf


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A new scientific paper by a University of Maryland-led international team of distinguished scientists, including five members of the National Academies, argues that there are critical two-way feedbacks missing from current climate models that are used to inform environmental, climate, and economic policies. The most important inadequately-modeled variables are inequality, consumption, and population. In this research, the authors present extensive evidence of the need for a new paradigm of modeling that incorporates the feedbacks that the Earth System has on humans, and propose a framework for future modeling that would serve as a more realistic guide for policymaking and sustainable development. Twelve of the interdisciplinary team of 20 coauthors are from the University of Maryland, with multiple other universities (Northeastern University, Columbia University, George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University, and Brown University) and other institutions (Joint Global Change Research Institute, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the Institute for Global Environment and Society, Japan's RIKEN research institute, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) also represented. The study explains that the Earth System (e.g., atmosphere, ocean, land, and biosphere) provides the Human System (e.g., humans and their production, distribution, and consumption) not only the sources of its inputs (e.g., water, energy, biomass, and materials) but also the sinks (e.g., atmosphere, oceans, rivers, lakes, and lands) that absorb and process its outputs (e.g., emissions, pollution, and other wastes). Titled "Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems", the paper describes how the rapid growth in resource use, land-use change, emissions, and pollution has made humanity the dominant driver of change in most of the Earth's natural systems, and how these changes, in turn, have critical feedback effects on humans with costly and serious consequences, including on human health and well-being, economic growth and development, and even human migration and societal conflict. However, the paper argues that these two-way interactions ("bidirectional coupling") are not included in the current models. The Oxford University Press's multidisciplinary journal National Science Review, which published the paper, has highlighted the work in its current issue, pointing out that "the rate of change of atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4, and N2O [the primary greenhouse gases] increased by over 700, 1000, and 300 times (respectively) in the period after the Green Revolution when compared to pre-industrial rates." See Figure 1 from the Highlights article, reproduced below. "Many datasets, for example, the data for the total concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, show that human population has been a strong driver of the total impact of humans on our planet Earth. This is seen particularly after the two major accelerating regime shifts: Industrial Revolution (~1750) and Green Revolution (~1950)" said Safa Motesharrei, UMD systems scientist and lead author of the paper. "For the most recent time, we show that the total impact has grown on average ~4 percent between 1950 and 2010, with almost equal contributions from population growth (~1.7 percent) and GDP per capita growth (~2.2 percent). This corresponds to a doubling of the total impact every ~17 years. This doubling of the impact is shockingly rapid." "However, these human impacts can only truly be understood within the context of economic inequality," pointed out political scientist and co-author Jorge Rivas of the Institute for Global Environment and Society. "The average per capita resource use in wealthy countries is 5 to 10 times higher than in developing countries, and the developed countries are responsible for over three quarters of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from 1850 to 2000." University of Maryland geographer and co-author Klaus Hubacek added: "The disparity is even greater when inequality within countries is included. For example, about 50 percent of the world's people live on less than $3 per day, 75 percent on less than $8.50, and 90 percent on less than $23. One effect of this inequality is that the top 10 percent produce almost as much total carbon emissions as the bottom 90 percent combined." The study explains that increases in economic inequality, consumption per capita, and total population are all driving this rapid growth in human impact, but that the major scientific models of Earth-Human System interaction do not bidirectionally (interactively) couple Earth System Models with the primary Human System drivers of change such as demographics, inequality, economic growth, and migration. The researchers argue that current models instead generally use independent, external projections of those drivers. "This lack of two-way coupling makes current models likely to miss critical feedbacks in the combined Earth-Human system," said National Academy of Engineering member and co-author Eugenia Kalnay, a Distinguished University Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland. "It would be like trying to predict El Niño with a sophisticated atmospheric model, but with the Sea Surface Temperatures taken from external, independent projections by, for example, the United Nations," said Kalnay. "Without including the real feedbacks, predictions for coupled systems cannot work; the model will get away from reality very quickly." "Ignoring this bidirectional coupling of the Earth and Human Systems can lead to missing something important, even decisive, for the fate of our planet and our species," said co-author Mark Cane, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who recently won the Vetlesen Prize for creating the first coupled ocean-atmosphere model with feedbacks that successfully predicted El Niño. Co-author Matthias Ruth, Director and Professor at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University, said: "The result of not dynamically modeling these critical Human-Earth System feedbacks would be that the environmental challenges humanity faces may be significantly underestimated. Moreover, there's no explicit role given to policies and investments to actively shape the course in which the dynamics unfold. Rather, as the models are designed now, any intervention -- almost by definition -- comes from the outside and is perceived as a cost. Such modeling, and the mindset that goes with it, leaves no room for creativity in solving some of the most pressing challenges." "The paper correctly highlights that other human stressors, not only the climate ones, are very important for long-term sustainability, including the need to reduce inequality'', said Carlos Nobre (not a co-author), one of the world's leading Earth System scientists, who recently won the prestigious Volvo Environment Prize in Sustainability for his role in understanding and protecting the Amazon. "Social and economic equality empowers societies to engage in sustainable pathways, which includes, by the way, not only the sustainable use of natural resources but also slowing down population growth, to actively diminish the human footprint on the environment." Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, who was not a co-author of the paper, commented: "We cannot separate the issues of population growth, resource consumption, the burning of fossil fuels, and climate risk. They are part of a coupled dynamical system, and, as the authors show, this has dire potential consequences for societal collapse. The implications couldn't be more profound." This work was supported by the University of Maryland Council on the Environment 2014 Seed Grant (1357928). The authors would like to acknowledge the following grants and institutions: SM, KF, and KH: National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)--US National Science Foundation (NSF) award DBI-1052875; JR: The Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES); GRA: Laboratory Directed Research and Development award by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is managed by the Battelle Memorial Institute for the US Department of Energy; MAC: Office of Naval Research, research grant MURI N00014-12-1-0911; FMW: NSF award CBET-1541642; VMY: The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET). "Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems" is available at: https:/ and https:/ or PDF https:/


News Article | January 6, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

The year 2016 has been adjudged as the warmest year in last 38 years, dislodging 1998 from the hottest year slot. This is based on close to four decades' worth of satellite temperature measurements. This was revealed by John Christy, the director of the University of Alabama's Earth System Science Center in Huntsville. According to him, 2016 was warmer by +0.02 degrees Celsius compared to 1998. Even after conceding an error margin to 0.10 degrees Celsius, which means a statistical tie with 1998, Christy said the last year may still qualify as warmest as the Northern Hemisphere was extra hot in 2016. Based on global average temperatures from 1981-2010, the atmosphere was warmer by +0.484 degrees Celsius in 1998, while it was +0.505 degrees Celsius hotter in 2016. Given that temperature trends from satellite data are a tad lower than those based on thermometer readings across the globe, other groups may also pronounce 2016 as the warmest year. "The question is, does 2016's record warmth mean anything scientifically?" Christy said. "I suppose the answer is, not really. Both 1998 and 2016 are anomalies, outliers, and in both cases, we have an easily identifiable cause for that anomaly: A powerful El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event." He said climate studies usually treat phenomena like El Niño as transient, as the focus is on long-term trends as far as temperature is concerned. The data noted instances of high and low temperatures. The warmest average temperature anomaly in December 2016 was recorded at south central China's Qamdo town, where the average temperatures during the month were 3.91 degrees Celsius hotter than seasonal trends. As for the the coolest average temperature, a place in Saskatchewan had December temperatures averaging 4.13 degrees Celsius cooler than seasonal norms. Christy, together with ESSC principal scientist Roy Spencer, was able to obtain precise temperature readings for various regions of the Earth including deserts, oceans, and rain forests through data collected by microwave sounding units on NASA and NOAA satellites. Meanwhile, the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a wing of the Copernicus earth observation program run by the European Union, also confirmed 2016 as the warmest year on record. Its figures showed temperatures of 2016 on a global scale crossed 14.8 degrees Celsius and were up by nearly 1.3 degrees Celsius. The C3S also said that 2016 was close to 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2015. One reason for the global temperatures soaring above average in the second half of 2016 was the disappearing sea ice cover in the Antarctic and Arctic. Predictions are also out on how 2017 will fare in terms of global temperature. It is expected to be among the hottest years in more than 130 years of record-keeping. According to the UK Met Office, El Niño might be over, but 2017 will be one of the hottest. According to forecasters, 2017 temperatures would decline between 0.63 and 0.87 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average. However, "the dip in 2017 is much smaller than the long-term increase," noted Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office. And because of the rising temperatures brought about by global warming, "each new year is basically predestined to be among the warmest on record," said Deke Arndt, who heads the climate monitoring division of the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | January 27, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

Mother Nature can't take the blame for this century's string of record-breaking heat waves, a new study finds. Fourteen of the 15 warmest years in recorded history occurred between 2000 and 2015 (and it was recently announced that 2015 was Earth's hottest year since record keeping began, in 1880). The odds are between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 170,000 that natural climate swings caused the sweltering-high temperatures around the world, researchers reported Monday (Jan. 25) in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. For 2014 alone, there's a one-in-a-million chance that the monster heat record occurred only from natural climate variability. "The risk of heat extremes has been multiplied due to human greenhouse-gas emissions, as our data analysis shows," study co-author Stefan Rahmstorf said in a statement. "The anomalous warmth has led to unprecedented local heat waves across the world, sadly resulting in loss of life and aggravating droughts and wildfires," said Rahmstorf, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. [Watch Earth Get Hotter — 135 Years of Temperature Changes Visualized] The scientists tested the influence of global warming by combining real-world climate data, such as global and Northern Hemisphere temperatures, with state-of-the-art climate models. The researchers' statistical analysis separated natural climate variability, such as El Niño-caused ocean warming, from climate change brought about by human activities. The scientists ran the analysis with different data sources and statistical approaches and found that, in all cases, the record-high temperatures required human intervention. The new analysis was spurred by news stories published soon after 2014, the researchers said. In those reports, scientists said the odds were extremely low that so many record-breaking hot years could occur without global warming. "The press reports last year about the unlikely nature of recent global temperature records raised some very interesting questions, but the scientists quoted hadn't done a rigorous calculation," said lead study author Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University in State College. "As a result, the probabilities reported for observing the recent runs of record temperature by chance alone were far lower than what we suspected the true probabilities are." The record temperatures seen since 2000 are roughly 600 to 130,000 times more likely to have occurred under human-caused conditions than in the absence of such conditions, the researchers report. "We can, in this sense, attribute the record warmth to human-caused climate change at a high level of confidence," Mann wrote in an op-ed published Monday at Live Science. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


News Article | December 2, 2016
Site: www.csmonitor.com

Climate models suggest that conditions for tornado outbreaks should be increasing with rising temperatures, but do the data agree? No more watching videos at work: Facebook will now default to audio This Monday, May 26, 2014 photo from video provided by Dan Yorgason shows a tornado in a worker's camp near Watford City, N.D. As global temperatures warm, climate scientists expect to see more tornadoes reaching their long, swirling bodies down to Earth. But the data isn't exactly cooperating in a straightforward manner. Scientists have reported that, over the last 50 years, the average number of tornadoes that touch down in the United States each year has not risen. But analysis of this data suggests that the most extreme outbreaks, when several twisters appear as part of a single weather event, are on the rise. Surely climate change is playing a role in the rise of those extreme events, a team of researchers at Columbia University expected. But when they analyzed the data they didn't find the signs they expected, they report in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science. No, that doesn't mean climate change isn't behind the rise of extreme tornado outbreaks across the country, study lead author Michael Tippett, a mathematician at Columbia University, tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview. "We're just saying that it's not playing the role that we expected." There are two ingredients that make for conditions conducive to tornadoes, Dr. Tippett explains. One is the propensity of air to rise, called the convective available potential energy (CAPE), and the other is vertical wind shear. Warmer, moist air near the surface of the Earth particularly tends to rise, so climate projections predicted an increased CAPE with climate change and therefore more of one of the key ingredients for tornadoes. As such, Tippett and his colleagues expected to see an increased CAPE in the environments where extreme tornado outbreaks were occurring. But when they dug into the data, that wasn't the case. In fact, wind shear seems to have increased. "The lack of a change in CAPE that correlates with the change in tornadoes is a significant result," Harold Brooks, a researcher at the National Severe Storms Laboratory who was not involved in the research, writes in an email to the Monitor. "Increases in CAPE are, in the convective storms world, the thing we’re most confident in as the planet warms. It’s a fairly direct connection between surface warming and higher CAPE. The fact that they can explain the tornado changes by storm relative helicity (related to shear) changes is, in one aspect, not surprising (it’s a much better predictor of whether a storm will make a tornado than CAPE is), but, in another aspect, difficult to explain. We don’t really have a good conceptual model for why high SRH values should increase as the planet warms." Tippett agrees that his research poses more questions than it answers, particularly when it comes to the role global warming may be playing in tornado trends. "One possibility is that there are aspects of climate change that we don't understand yet," Tippett says. "The other possibility is it's not climate change." The data Tippett and his colleagues are working off might not be the full story, Charles Konrad, director of the Southeast Regional Climate Center who was not involved in the study, points out. The methods and technologies for cataloguing tornado events greatly improved in the 1960s and 1970s, a few decades into the time period they focus on. "We don't have a clear grasp early in the period of tornado intensity or exactly how many tornadoes," he says in a phone interview with the Monitor. Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University who was also not involved in the research, disagrees. "The trend analysis in the tornado data seems sound, but not especially novel – the increase that is found is consistent with other previous work," he writes in an email to the Monitor. But, Dr. Mann says, "the climate change interpretation is fatally flawed." "We published an article in Science only last year showing that the simple procedures used by the current authors (assuming that the climate change component of a time series is reflected by a simple linear trend) are entirely unsound and produce profound artifacts when trying to separate anthropogenic trends from natural variability. In fact, we have published four articles demonstrating this, back to 2006," he writes. So could this mean Tippett and his colleagues' conclusions that the CAPE is not rising are flawed? "Yep," Mann says. One challenge with this data, Tippett says, is that climate trends are assessed on the scale of centuries, not decades. So 50 years is a relatively short period for looking at climate signals. "To do that only using the data is very challenging, so we would like to move to using numerical models which simulate the environment" and allow scientists to manipulate the data to include or exclude climate change or other variables, he explains, "so we can try to isolate what's going on."


News Article | December 2, 2016
Site: www.csmonitor.com

Climate models suggest that conditions for tornado outbreaks should be increasing with rising temperatures, but do the data agree? No more watching videos at work: Facebook will now default to audio This Monday, May 26, 2014 photo from video provided by Dan Yorgason shows a tornado in a worker's camp near Watford City, N.D. As global temperatures warm, climate scientists expect to see more tornadoes reaching their long, swirling bodies down to Earth. But the data isn't exactly cooperating in a straightforward manner. Scientists have reported that, over the last 50 years, the average number of tornadoes that touch down in the United States each year has not risen. But analysis of this data suggests that the most extreme outbreaks, when several twisters appear as part of a single weather event, are on the rise. Surely climate change is playing a role in the rise of those extreme events, a team of researchers at Columbia University expected. But when they analyzed the data they didn't find the signs they expected, they report in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science. No, that doesn't mean climate change isn't behind the rise of extreme tornado outbreaks across the country, study lead author Michael Tippett, a mathematician at Columbia University, tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview. "We're just saying that it's not playing the role that we expected." There are two ingredients that make for conditions conducive to tornadoes, Dr. Tippett explains. One is the propensity of air to rise, called the convective available potential energy (CAPE), and the other is vertical wind shear. Warmer, moist air near the surface of the Earth particularly tends to rise, so climate projections predicted an increased CAPE with climate change and therefore more of one of the key ingredients for tornadoes. As such, Tippett and his colleagues expected to see an increased CAPE in the environments where extreme tornado outbreaks were occurring. But when they dug into the data, that wasn't the case. In fact, wind shear seems to have increased. "The lack of a change in CAPE that correlates with the change in tornadoes is a significant result," Harold Brooks, a researcher at the National Severe Storms Laboratory who was not involved in the research, writes in an email to the Monitor. "Increases in CAPE are, in the convective storms world, the thing we’re most confident in as the planet warms. It’s a fairly direct connection between surface warming and higher CAPE. The fact that they can explain the tornado changes by storm relative helicity (related to shear) changes is, in one aspect, not surprising (it’s a much better predictor of whether a storm will make a tornado than CAPE is), but, in another aspect, difficult to explain. We don’t really have a good conceptual model for why high SRH values should increase as the planet warms." Tippett agrees that his research poses more questions than it answers, particularly when it comes to the role global warming may be playing in tornado trends. "One possibility is that there are aspects of climate change that we don't understand yet," Tippett says. "The other possibility is it's not climate change." The data Tippett and his colleagues are working off might not be the full story, Charles Konrad, director of the Southeast Regional Climate Center who was not involved in the study, points out. The methods and technologies for cataloguing tornado events greatly improved in the 1960s and 1970s, a few decades into the time period they focus on. "We don't have a clear grasp early in the period of tornado intensity or exactly how many tornadoes," he says in a phone interview with the Monitor. Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University who was also not involved in the research, disagrees. "The trend analysis in the tornado data seems sound, but not especially novel – the increase that is found is consistent with other previous work," he writes in an email to the Monitor. But, Dr. Mann says, "the climate change interpretation is fatally flawed." "We published an article in Science only last year showing that the simple procedures used by the current authors (assuming that the climate change component of a time series is reflected by a simple linear trend) are entirely unsound and produce profound artifacts when trying to separate anthropogenic trends from natural variability. In fact, we have published four articles demonstrating this, back to 2006," he writes. So could this mean Tippett and his colleagues' conclusions that the CAPE is not rising are flawed? "Yep," Mann says. One challenge with this data, Tippett says, is that climate trends are assessed on the scale of centuries, not decades. So 50 years is a relatively short period for looking at climate signals. "To do that only using the data is very challenging, so we would like to move to using numerical models which simulate the environment" and allow scientists to manipulate the data to include or exclude climate change or other variables, he explains, "so we can try to isolate what's going on."


News Article | December 2, 2016
Site: www.csmonitor.com

Climate models suggest that conditions for tornado outbreaks should be increasing with rising temperatures, but do the data agree? No more watching videos at work: Facebook will now default to audio This Monday, May 26, 2014 photo from video provided by Dan Yorgason shows a tornado in a worker's camp near Watford City, N.D. As global temperatures warm, climate scientists expect to see more tornadoes reaching their long, swirling bodies down to Earth. But the data isn't exactly cooperating in a straightforward manner. Scientists have reported that, over the last 50 years, the average number of tornadoes that touch down in the United States each year has not risen. But analysis of this data suggests that the most extreme outbreaks, when several twisters appear as part of a single weather event, are on the rise. Surely climate change is playing a role in the rise of those extreme events, a team of researchers at Columbia University expected. But when they analyzed the data they didn't find the signs they expected, they report in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science. No, that doesn't mean climate change isn't behind the rise of extreme tornado outbreaks across the country, study lead author Michael Tippett, a mathematician at Columbia University, tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview. "We're just saying that it's not playing the role that we expected." There are two ingredients that make for conditions conducive to tornadoes, Dr. Tippett explains. One is the propensity of air to rise, called the convective available potential energy (CAPE), and the other is vertical wind shear. Warmer, moist air near the surface of the Earth particularly tends to rise, so climate projections predicted an increased CAPE with climate change and therefore more of one of the key ingredients for tornadoes. As such, Tippett and his colleagues expected to see an increased CAPE in the environments where extreme tornado outbreaks were occurring. But when they dug into the data, that wasn't the case. In fact, wind shear seems to have increased. "The lack of a change in CAPE that correlates with the change in tornadoes is a significant result," Harold Brooks, a researcher at the National Severe Storms Laboratory who was not involved in the research, writes in an email to the Monitor. "Increases in CAPE are, in the convective storms world, the thing we’re most confident in as the planet warms. It’s a fairly direct connection between surface warming and higher CAPE. The fact that they can explain the tornado changes by storm relative helicity (related to shear) changes is, in one aspect, not surprising (it’s a much better predictor of whether a storm will make a tornado than CAPE is), but, in another aspect, difficult to explain. We don’t really have a good conceptual model for why high SRH values should increase as the planet warms." Tippett agrees that his research poses more questions than it answers, particularly when it comes to the role global warming may be playing in tornado trends. "One possibility is that there are aspects of climate change that we don't understand yet," Tippett says. "The other possibility is it's not climate change." The data Tippett and his colleagues are working off might not be the full story, Charles Konrad, director of the Southeast Regional Climate Center who was not involved in the study, points out. The methods and technologies for cataloguing tornado events greatly improved in the 1960s and 1970s, a few decades into the time period they focus on. "We don't have a clear grasp early in the period of tornado intensity or exactly how many tornadoes," he says in a phone interview with the Monitor. Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University who was also not involved in the research, disagrees. "The trend analysis in the tornado data seems sound, but not especially novel – the increase that is found is consistent with other previous work," he writes in an email to the Monitor. But, Dr. Mann says, "the climate change interpretation is fatally flawed." "We published an article in Science only last year showing that the simple procedures used by the current authors (assuming that the climate change component of a time series is reflected by a simple linear trend) are entirely unsound and produce profound artifacts when trying to separate anthropogenic trends from natural variability. In fact, we have published four articles demonstrating this, back to 2006," he writes. So could this mean Tippett and his colleagues' conclusions that the CAPE is not rising are flawed? "Yep," Mann says. One challenge with this data, Tippett says, is that climate trends are assessed on the scale of centuries, not decades. So 50 years is a relatively short period for looking at climate signals. "To do that only using the data is very challenging, so we would like to move to using numerical models which simulate the environment" and allow scientists to manipulate the data to include or exclude climate change or other variables, he explains, "so we can try to isolate what's going on."


News Article | January 10, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

For the United States, 2016 ranked second warmest in records dating back 1895, with every single state and city in the Lower 48 states warmer than usual last year. Average temperature in the nation during that time was 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit — almost 3 degrees more than long-term average. The warmest year for the country was 2012, which had an average temperature of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Last year was the 20th consecutive warmer-than-usual year, with an average warming rate of 0.15 degree Fahrenheit every decade, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. Dubbing 2016 “a year of temperature and precipitation extremes,” the NOAA said that every state registered one of their top 7 warmest years on record. “The breadth of the 2016 warmth is unparalleled in the nation's climate history,” the agency wrote. Thirty-four U.S. cities logged their warmest year on file, including New Orleans, Houston, Nashville, Atlanta, New York (La Guardia), El Paso, and Barrow (Alaska). Alaska registered its warmest year for the third time in as many years, with nearly 6 degrees above average in temperature, still climbing at a rate of 0.3 degrees each decade. The country also saw extreme rainfall, with a number of severe rainfall events adjudged as 1 in 1,000 year happenings, including torrential rains in northern Louisiana in March and eastern North Carolina in October brought about by Hurricane Matthew. “Catastrophic flooding” also hit Louisiana back in August, with losses from four inland flooding events in Texas, West Virginia, and Louisiana exceeding $15 billion. The United States, however, does not have a monopoly of unusually warm temperatures, as NOAA and NASA are poised to announce 2016 as the warmest year on record around the world for the third time in many years. Based on nearly four decades’ worth of satellite temperature measurements, the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama already hailed 2016 as the warmest year in the last 38 years, ousting the year 1998 from the said slot. It was warmer by +0.02 degrees Celsius compared to 1998. As temperature trends from satellite data are a bit lower than those reflected by temperature readings across the world, other groups are expected to pronounce 2016 as the warmest year. The question, said the science center’s director John Christy, is whether this means anything scientifically. “Both 1998 and 2016 are anomalies, outliers, and in both cases, we have an easily identifiable cause for that anomaly: A powerful El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event.” Not really, he believed. The focus, as far as temperature is concerned, is on long-term trends rather than phenomena such as El Niño, he added. Predictions for 2017, though, still remain glum, as this year is expected to be among the hottest in over 130 years’ worth of record. El Niño might be over, but this year will still continue to sizzle, the UK Met Office said. Every new year is practically poised to become the warmest on record based on the rising temperatures caused by global warming, warned the Deke Ardnt, head of the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information’s climate monitoring office. Scientists also recently urged everyone to forget about the so-called global warming pause, as oceans steadily warm and negate claims of a climate change hiatus. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 11, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

January 2016 was the most anomalously hot month on record, going by NASA’s temperature figures — with temperatures well above those recorded previously for the month. So, how long do we have to wait to see the record broken? No time at all, as it appears that February 2016 already beat the record — with an anomaly (over the pre-industrial average) of somewhere between 1.15° Celsius and 1.4° Celsius during the month, going by initial satellite measurements compiled by Eric Holthaus at Slate. NASA has yet to release the actual figures for February 2016. Considering that the agreement reached at the recent COP21 climate change talks in Paris called for limiting anthropogenic warming to under 1.5° Celsius, the early figures are quite notable. It looks like we’re already nearly there. “Even the lower part of that range is extraordinary,” commented Will Steffen, an emeritus professor of climate science at Australian National University and a councillor at Australia’s Climate Council. It appears that on Wednesday, the northern hemisphere even slipped above the milestone 2° C average for the first time in recorded history. This is the arbitrary limit above which scientists believe global temperature rise will be “dangerous”. The Arctic in particular experienced terrific warmth throughout the winter. Temperatures at the north pole approached 0° C (the freezing point) in late December — 30° C to 35° C above average. Mark Serreze, the director of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, described the conditions as “absurd”. …All this weirdness follows the record-smashing year of 2015, which was 0.9° C above the 20th century average. This beat the previous record warmth of 2014 by 0.16° C. These tumbling temperature records are often accomplished in media reports by the caveat that we are experiencing a particularly strong El Niño — perhaps the largest in history. But should El Niño and climate change be given equal billing? The noted Professor Michael Mann, the director of Penn State Earth System Science Center, commented on this in the following way: “A number of folks have done this, and come to the conclusion it was responsible for less than 0.1° Celsius of the anomalous warmth. In other words, we would have set an all-time global temperature record (in 2015) even without any help from El Niño.” To give some context to these statements, the El Niño phenomenon is a recurring (every 3–6 years) change in current patterns in the Pacific Ocean that sees warm water brought to the surface of the ocean — thereby warming the air, and triggering storms, wind pattern changes, droughts, etc.   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

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