IPCC’s Leaked Report

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report is due to come out next year. But it looks like a sneak peak is already out in the open. A “leaked report” has been obtained by “some media,” the Globe and Mail reports. The report states “human activity as the largest factor behind rising global temperatures. That confidence level, quantified at 95 per cent, is the highest of any assessment to date….The report also puts a better than 90 per cent chance that continued emissions at or above current rates will produce changes in the global climate system not seen on Earth for hundreds of thousands of years.”

Where the leaked doc is vague is where such science is usually vague, and that is on the time-frames associated with the real, and most likely detrimental changes to the earth’s climate. “…the natural variability of the Earth’s climate over periods of a few decades still makes it difficult to know exactly how global warming will play out in the short term,” Dr. Shepherd told the Globe and Mail.

Will the 5th assessment have the clout to change the minds of those against the anthropogenic impact of the climate crisis? U of T’s Douglas Macdonald says that “What’s driving the debate now is that this is an incredibly complex, difficult issue which is going to impose costs on all kinds of people who have got the ability to resist.”

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Population Growth

It’s really refreshing, I’m sitting in class at the National University of Singapore in my economics class and a girl in my class who already has her BA in economics is talking about overpopulation in a way that’s not economical at all — and she’s totally against it, even with the economic benefits. I love it. Anyways, she showed us a short video about the effects overpopulation will have on the world and it makes a good little lesson video. Take a look, if you’re interested.

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So there’s this little map thing on the Guardian that sort of distorts the world map according to various criteria related to climate change/factors affecting climate change. If anyone is still checking out this blog, you should take a look 🙂

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The Denying Climate Denier

Quick Note: Sorry this post may seem a bit too long; that is because I planned it as such. It is difficult to make an effective rebuttal when certain parts of the initial argument are overlooked.

Upon reading this short article on the New York Post website (let me be clear, I do not read the New York Post, I found this from another source and the title appealed to me…), I was shocked at the amount of absurd statements that Mr. Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, makes on the deniability of climate science. Mr. Lowry cleverly titles his article “Meet the New Climate Deniers” in order to make the reader think he or she will receive a lesson from Lowry about those who deny the contributions of human activity to climate change, but no, that is not what Mr. Lowry wishes to argue. Mr. Lowry’s argument is that global warming has been stale for the last decade. I decide to give Mr. Lowry a chance, continuing to read his post:

“The new climate deniers are the liberals who, despite their obsession with climate change, have managed to miss the biggest story in climate science, which is that there hasn’t been any global warming for about a decade and a half.”

So, liberals deny climate change? Now, Mr, Lowry, you are obviously a self-acclaimed conservative and it seems to me as if you are simply using climate change as a method of criticizing liberals. I will not go on to discussing the lack of ethics in politicizing science, which is what Mr. Lowry seems to be doing.

He goes on quoting The Economist magazine, not exactly the best source for climate science reports:

“Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar…” and continues “…The world added roughly 100 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO2 put there by humanity since 1750.”

Lowry goes on to discuss how although this data is confirmed, there was no increase in global temperature throughout the 21st century, going on to attack Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address when President Obama urges Americans to reduce emissions. Lowry believes Obama did not mention “the latest trend in global warming”, no warming.

So, Mr. Lowry may be the “denier” here. Let’s take a closer look at the data (Thank you Steve for all the great information). As mentioned, Lowry uses a The Economist article to support his argument; hence, the Economist information must itself be analyzed. The article uses a University of Reading chart as its main visual feature.

The chart clearly outlines a long-term growth in change of global temperature, but it decreases to become nearly a constant by the beginning of the 21st century. Now, there are many causes to why atmospheric temperature has remained steady; even Mr. Lowry admits this himself:

“Why the stall in warming? According to The Economist, maybe we’ve overestimated the warming impact of clouds. Or maybe some clouds cool instead of warm the planet. Or maybe the oceans are absorbing heat from the atmosphere. Although the surface temperature of the oceans hasn’t been rising, perhaps the warming is happening deep down.”

Then let us discuss the warming impact of cloudsand the issue of ocean temperature

First off, Mr. Lowry argues that ocean temperatures have not been rising? Our friends from SkepticalScience, although a biased source, do not agree.

Now to answer Mr. Lowry’s comment on how “maybe clouds cool instead of warm the planet”. Clouds have a greater albedo than oceans and rain forests, so yes Rich, clouds do cool the Earth, but you would know that if you read the Economist article where this is explained.

Lowry concludes his Editorial:

“What is beginning to seem more likely is that the “sensitivity” of the global climate to carbon emissions has been overestimated. If so, the deniers will be the last to admit it.”

Well, it seems that Rich Lowry has been looking at the short-term consequences of global warming, not thinking about the intergenerational consequences that come with climate change.

I do admit however, that there is one thing I and Mr. Lowry agree on. Uncertainty still dominates climate science, models are not exactly accurate and there is a lot to discuss, but regardless of this, global warming is happening.

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Thought this was extremely relevant to today’s class:

So true!

So true!

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Water Footprint

I’m currently taking a course called ‘Assessing Global Change: Science and the Environment’ instructed by Karen Ing (very good, highly recommend taking a class taught by her if you get the opportunity). It’s a breadth requirement course aka a science course for non-science students just like this one! For a recent assignment we had to calculate our water footprint (mine was far below Canada’s average, woo!). We were given a site that showed the water footprint for different products which was startling to me. I have always known beef used a lot of water but I had no clue about the others! So next time you have a slice of pizza or pint of beer, think about how much water was used in order for you to have it! Or just have a few more pints of beer and you’ll forget it all! (Only if you’re over 19 of course)

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Essay Titles

Here’s a list of suggested titles for your final essay. Feel free to propose a title of your own if none of these grab you:

  1. Should we trust what a climate model tells us about the future?
  2. “The structure of a system determines its behaviour”. What does this mean, and how does it apply to tackling climate change?
  3. Why do climate scientists need computational models to help them understand the climate system?
  4. What is the single most important barrier preventing effective action on climate change?
  5. How would we determine whether geo-engineering proposals would work as effective solutions to climate change?
  6. “All models are wrong, but some are useful”. Discuss, with reference to the kinds of models used to reason about climate change.
  7. Would an understanding of feedback loops help in in the process of framing policies on tackling climate change?

Remember, in planning and writing your essay, think carefully about what the question is asking (and why it’s worded the way it is). There’s no right answer to any of these questions – you can choose to argue them from any viewpoint you like, but make sure to use concrete examples to illustrate your points, and try to avoid vague or over-general statements. As with any formal essay, make sure you cite the sources used.

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3 Jackets

This past week has been a whirlwind of weather. Within a 72 hour period the people of Toronto have faced a -2 degree Celsius Tuesday, 13 degree Celsius Wednesday, and a -10 degree Celsius Thursday. And not to mention multiple water main breaks, a crumbling DVP, winds that had the ability to sweep away a small child, a snow day at school (YIPEE) and fog denser than a sponge cake. Wake up call to the deniers of a changing climate, I think so. An inconvenient fashion change ever day this week, I know so. A time for immediate city action to create sound infrastructure for the new age of human influenced climate, always.

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Re-freezing Icebergs?

How to re-freeze the icebergs by the National Post

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From Doha


Sounds like things are bleaker than we thought. Here is a short article about the “new research” that was just presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha. ”It shows that, unless radical action is taken, we are on course for 4 to 6 degree warming by the end of the century.”

We’re we not talking about a 2 degree increase just last week?

What are we taking from this everyone, (Steve and Daniel included)?

Hope the holidays are treating everyone well. I miss our biweekly discussions.

See ya’ll in the New Year.


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