Watch Us Do This Really Simple Science Experiment That Proves Donald Trump Wrong – —By Tim McDonnell | Fri May 13, 2016 6:00 AM EDT

And almost screw it up.

Climate change can be a hard thing to wrap your head around. It’s really scary! The Earth is really complicated! There are a lot of numbers!

But if you want to know whether global warming is real, there’s really only one thing you need to know: Does carbon dioxide trap heat in the atmosphere? Scientists have known the answer (yes) since at least 1895, when the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius did the first research on what came to be know as greenhouse gases. Some climate change questions are hard, like how to predict the movement of clouds in computer models. But the basic existence of the greenhouse effect is very straightforward and noncontroversial. Among scientists, that is. Donald Trump and some other prominent Republican politicians are still struggling.

In fact, the greenhouse effect is so basic that you can even prove its existence with a simple DIY experiment. We got the idea from the great science communicator Bill Nye, who talked about it when he appeared on a recent episode of our Inquiring Minds podcast. We decided to give it a try, and it worked…barely. We’re not scientists, okay?

Global Warming “Hiatus” Debate Flares Up Again – Jeff Tollefsen February 24, 2016.

Researchers now argue that the warming slowdown was real

Mordolff ©

The latest salvo in an ongoing row over global-warming trends claims that warming has indeed slowed down this century.

An apparent slowing in the rise of global temperatures at the beginning of the twenty-first century, which is not explained by climate models, was referred to as a “hiatus” or a “pause” when first observed several years ago. Climate-change sceptics have used this as evidence that global warming has stopped. But in June last year, a study in Science claimed that the hiatus was just an artefact which vanishes when biases in temperature data are corrected.

Now a prominent group of researchers is countering that claim, arguing in Nature Climate Change that even after correcting these biases the slowdown was real.

“There is this mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what the observations are showing,” says lead author John Fyfe, a climate modeller at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Victoria, British Columbia. “We can’t ignore it.”

Fyfe uses the term “slowdown” rather than “hiatus” and stresses that it does not in any way undermine global-warming theory.

Ups and downs

The debate revolves in part around statistics on temperature trends. The study that questioned the existence of the slowdown corrected known biases in the surface temperature record maintained by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), such as differences in temperature readings from ships and buoys. This effectively increased the warming recorded, and the researchers also extended the record to include 2014, which set a new record high for average temperatures.

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Let’s See What Happens When This Group Of Scientists Retests Studies That Contradict Climate Science


CREDIT: Shutterstock

The scientific consensus behind man-made global warming is overwhelming: multiple studies have noted a 97 percent consensus among climate scientists that the Earth is warming and human activities are primarily responsible. Scientists are as sure that global warming is real — and driven by human activity — as they are that smoking cigarettes leads to lung cancer.

But what if all of those scientists are wrong? What if the tiny sliver of scientists that don’t believe global warming is happening, or that human activities are causing it — that two to three percent of climate contrarians — are right?

That’s the hypothetical question that a new study, authored by Rasmus Benestad, Dana Nuccitelli, Stephan Lewandowsky, Katharine Hayhoe, Hans Olav Hygen, Rob van Dorland, and John Cook, sought to answer. Published last week in the journal Theoretical and Applied Climatology, the study examined 38 recent examples of contrarian climate research — published research that takes a position on anthropogenic climate change but doesn’t attribute it to human activity — and tried to replicate the results of those studies. The studies weren’t selected randomly — according to lead author Rasmus Benestad, the studies selected were highly visible contrarian studies that had all arrived at a different conclusion than consensus climate studies. The question the researchers wanted to know was — why?

“Our selection suited this purpose as it would be harder to spot flaws in papers following the mainstream ideas. The chance of finding errors among the outliers is higher than from more mainstream papers,” Benestad wrote at RealClimate. “Our hypothesis was that the chosen contrarian paper was valid, and our approach was to try to falsify this hypothesis by repeating the work with a critical eye.”

It didn’t go well for the contrarian studies.


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Donald Trump is even more of a monster than you think: Why his golf courses are environmental disasters

Filmmaker Anthony Baxter on how elitist billionaires are destroying the environment in the name of golf

Donald Trump is even more of a monster than you think: Why his golf courses are environmental disasters

Here in the United States, Donald Trump gets a lot of flak for the many, many things you can hardly believe he said: claiming that a cold day disproves the reality of global warming, for example, or, more recently, declaring that most Mexican immigrants are “rapists.”

Trump’s no less loathed in Scotland. There, however, the problem is less about what Trump says, and more about what he’s actually done — run roughshod over protected dunes to build an elite golf course, attack an offshore wind energy project because it “ruined” his view, cajole politicians into supporting his every whim. He’s also run into trouble for the promises he’s failed to keep — when the deal ultimately went sour, he flew off in his private jet, leaving behind none of the economic prosperity he’d sworn the project would create. His fate as one of the country’s top villains was sealed with Anthony Baxter’s 2011 documentary, “You’ve Been Trumped,” which documented a saga so egregious it inspired a folk song, and made such waves that Trump finally agreed to sit down with Baxter on camera.

That interview could be read as the climax of Baxter’s newest documentary, “A Dangerous Game,” which picks up where the last left off. But Trump knows how to hold his own against angry activists — or, at least, he knows how to deflect their questions. With no evidence to back himself up, he explains at one point that he himself is a “great environmentalist.” The film’s more alarming revelation is that it’s not just Trump: elitist billionaires, in Baxter’s telling, have co-opted golf, creating vast artificial environments for play that strain local resources and shut out all but the wealthy, and which all too often subvert democracy. This plays out as tragedy in Dubrovnik, Croatia — a World Heritage Site — where residents’ efforts to keep out a golf resort result in the passing of a local referendum with an 84 percent majority, only to see the project green-lighted anyway.

Salon spoke with Baxter about the golf industry’s need to embrace a more sustainable model, and about his continued pursuit of America’s would-be 45th president. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.


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EPA Report Puts a Staggering Price Tag on Climate Inaction – —By Luke Whelan| Mon Jun. 22, 2015 6:59 PM EDT


According to a report released Monday by the Obama administration, doing nothing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions would cost the United States billions of dollars and thousands lives.

The findings come as part of an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to quantify the human and economic benefits of cutting emissions in an effort to reduce global warming. The report is the latest piece of President Obama’s recent climate push and provides a tool that he hopes to use in negotiations at the UN climate talks in Paris later this year.

The report, which was peer-reviewed, estimates that if nothing is done to curb global warming, by 2100, the US will see an additional 12,000 annual deaths related to extreme temperatures in the 49 cities analyzed for the report. In addition, the report projects an increase of 57,000 premature deaths related to poor air quality, annually. The economic costs would be enormous, as well. By 2100, climate inaction will result in:

  • $4.2-$7.4 billion in additional road maintenance costs each year.
  • $3.1 billion annually in damages to coastal regions due to sea level rise and storm surges.
  • $6.6-$11 billion annually in agricultural damages.
  • A loss of 230,000-360,000 acres of cold water fish habitat.
  • A loss of 34 percent of the US oyster supply and 29 percent of the clam supply.
  • $110 billion annually in lost labor due to unsuitable working conditions.

The EPA also used a number of charts to illustrate the difference between taking action to stop (or “mitigate”) climate change and continuing with business as usual (which the charts refer to as the “reference” case.)

For example, if we don’t mitigate climate change, temperatures will continue to skyrocket:

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These Maps Show Why We Keep Electing Climate Change Deniers – —By Jeremy Schulman| Thu Apr. 9, 2015 5:45 AM EDT

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) uses a snowball to disprove global warming. Screenshot: Slate/CSPAN

One of the most significant obstacles to addressing climate change is the fact that huge numbers of US politicians reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet. Why does the situation persist? How can a senator who (literally) holds up a snowball as evidence that global warming is a hoax keep winning re-election? How can someone who declares himself a climate “skeptic” be a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination? As newly released research from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication makes painfully clear, GOP climate deniers actually hold views that are quite similar to those of the voters who elect them.

The Yale research is based on data from more than 13,000 survey responses since 2008. It estimates that nationwide, just 48 percent of people agree with the scientific consensus that global warming is caused “mostly” by humans. While other recent polls have found a somewhat higher percentage who say they believe humans are causing the planet to warm, Yale’s numbers are not a good sign for those—like billionaire activist Tom Steyer—who are trying to turn climate change denial into a disqualifying political position.

Things look even more discouraging when you use the researchers’ snazzy interactive maps to break down the estimates by congressional district. The blue districts on the map below are places where the researchers’ statistical model predicts that fewer than half of respondents believe that humans are primarily responsible for climate change. Yellow/orange districts are places where at least half of respondents accept the scientific consensus. As you can see, there’s an awful lot of blue—according to the data, 58 percent of US congressional districts have majorities that don’t accept the climate science.

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The bloody conflict in Syria —which enters its fifth year this month—has killed almost 200,000 people, created 3.2 million refugees, and given rise to the murderous extremist group known as the Islamic State. The roots of the civil war extend deep into Syria’s political and socioeconomic structures. But another cause turns out to be global warming.

Kurdish People’s Protection Units soldiers walk near the town entrance circle heading to their strongholds in Kobani, Syria, Nov. 19, 2014. Jake Simkin/AP

When violence erupted in Syria during the Arab Spring in 2011, the country had been mired in a three-year drought—its worst in recorded history. Government agricultural policies had led to an overreliance on rain, so desperate farmers had to turn to well water—and they ended up sucking most of the country’s groundwater reserves dry. What happened next upended the country. “A lot of these farmers picked up their families, abandoned their villages, and went en masse to urban areas,” says Colin Kelley, a climate scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of a new paper on the conflict. Add 1.5 million refugees fleeing the US-led invasion of Iraq, and the population of Syrian cities grew by 50 percent between 2002 and 2010. The influx led to illegal settlements, rampant unemployment, and inequality. But the government hardly did anything in response (corruption didn’t help, nor did the fact that the hardest-hit areas were populated by Kurdish minorities, who have long been discriminated against and ignored). Soon, frustrations boiled over.

The drought didn’t cause the violence—it just made Syria susceptible. But what’s more important here is that the drought, Kelley found, was severe likely because of human-caused global warming. It’s behind the drop in precipitation researchers have seen since 1930, the beginning of the data record. The researchers compared two climate models of the region: one that included the warming effects of greenhouse gases and one that didn’t. They found that in the model with global warming, severe, multiyear droughts like the one that preceded the Syrian uprising were two to three times more common than in the other model. A statistical analysis of the data also showed that the long-term trends of rising temperatures and drier climate make droughts more likely and severe. While it’s impossible to link global warming to this particular drought, climate change makes such droughts much more probable. “Climate change isn’t causing it by itself,” Kelley says. “But if you combine it with all the preexisting factors, it can multiply that threat.”

Researchers have linked abrupt changes in climate to the rise and fall of civilizations from the Roman Empire to the Khmer Empire that built Angkor Wat in Cambodia. In modern times, droughts or hotter temperatures have contributed to Hindu-Muslim riots in India, civil wars in Africa, and even violence and crime in the US. But the new study stands out, because it’s proof that the cause has a non-natural component. “This is a serious piece of work,” says Andrew Solow, a statistician at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “It’s certainly plausible that the drought increases the chance of civil conflict—you’re putting stress on a society and it’s plausible that that tends to lead to violence.” But, he cautions against making a direct connection between drought and war. Other geopolitical factors probably play a bigger role in causing conflict.

Kelley is now studying how global warming is influencing the climate of Yemen, which is on the verge of collapse after rebels seized power last month. Meanwhile, the normally dependable spring rains have been in steady decline since 1980. Yemen isn’t exactly a poster child for stability, but like in Syria, you might not want to ignore the climate.

Poll sheds light on Republicans’ changing global warming views – January 30, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at Jan 31, 2015 4.36

Nearly half of Republicans said they were more likely to support a political candidate who believes in human-caused global warming and who advocates action to stop its effects on the environment, a new poll released by Stanford University, The New York Times and environmental nonprofit Resources for the Future shows.

Asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who believed “global warming has been happening for the past 100 years,” primarily because of humans’ “burning fuels and putting out greenhouse gases,” some 48 percent of Republican respondents said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, compared with 24 percent who said they would be less likely to do so; 26 percent said it would have no effect.

While the poll surveyed a sampling of Americans across party lines, the finding about Republican voter preferences was called “the most powerful finding” of the entire survey by co-author and Stanford University professor Jon Krosnick, given that a New York Times poll conducted with CBS in September showed that 42 percent of Republicans said global warming was an environmental problem “that won’t have a serious impact.”

Thirty-five percent of Republicans also said that global warming would present a “somewhat serious” problem for the world if nothing is done to reduce its impacts in the future, while 26 percent said the consequences would be “very serious.”

As for what to do about global warming, Republicans overwhelmingly opposed increasing taxes on electricity and gasoline so that people use less, but favored giving tax breaks to companies to produce more electricity from water, wind and solar power as well as rewarding companies that burn coal to make electricity with tax breaks if they used new methods to reduce air pollution.

That sentiment was also shared by Americans across party lines, with 80 percent of people surveyed saying they favored giving tax breaks to produce more electricity from water, wind and solar power. Still, 74 percent of Americans said they opposed increasing taxes on electricity and on gasoline.

Among all Americans surveyed in the poll, 44 percent said that if nothing was done to combat global warming, it would become a “very serious” problem for the United States, while 57 percent said the consequences would be “very serious” for the world.

Meanwhile, the findings about Republican voter preferences show a marked contrast with the public record of many Republican politicians, many of whom have either denied the science of climate change or distanced themselves from it, saying in many cases that they do not have the expertise to issue an opinion.

The Republican-controlled Senate acknowledged in a vote earlier this month that climate change is real, but refused to say humans are to blame amid a series of votes that tested Republicans’ stance on global warming. In a surprise move, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma endorsed a measure drafted by Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse that read simply that, “Climate change is real and not a hoax.”  It passed 98-1.

But Inhofe quickly made clear that he still thought humans were not to blame.

“Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will. There is archaeological evidence of that, there is biblical evidence of that, there is historical evidence of that,” said Inhofe. But “there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate.”

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press 

2014 Was the Year We Finally Started to Do Something About Climate Change – By James West | Sat Dec. 27, 2014 12:35 PM EST

A year of extreme weather, climate denial, and some hope.

2014 was a big year for climate news, good and bad. In June, the Obama administration took its biggest step yet in the fight against global warming by introducing regulations to limit greenhouse gases from existing power plants. And while there was plenty of anti-science rhetoric and opposition to climate action (no, the polar vortex does not disprove climate change), the year came to a dramatic end with at least three landmark climate-related stories: In September, hundreds of thousands of protesters around the world marched to demand climate action. November’s historic deal between the US and China to curb greenhouse emissions breathed new life into international climate negotiations. And finally, after a series of last-minute compromises, leaders from nearly 200 countries produced the Lima Accord, which, for the first time, calls on all nations to develop plans to limit their emissions. All eyes are now on Paris, where next year world leaders will meet in an attempt to work out a major global warming deal.

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Jeb Bush on Climate Change: “I’m a Skeptic” – —By James West | Tue Dec. 16, 2014 6:25 PM EST

“I’m not a Scientist.”


Today, Jeb Bush, the former Republican Governor of Florida, announced that he would “actively explore” running for president in 2016. If elected, he’d have control over much of the US response to global warming. So how would Bush address the global climate crisis? With a mixture of skepticism, avoidance, and downright denial of the science—if his track record is anything to go by. Above is a quick sample of his views climate change.