If we have merely delayed the next ice age, we will still be in the Quaternary Period – the last 2.58m years defined by the ice age cycles. But if we have stopped the ice ages, humans will have caused a much greater change and so have entered the Anthropocene period. [more]
John Nielsen-Gammon: “science doesn’t work by making predictions about future events, for the most part; it makes predictions about observable aspects of the world, things detectable in the present. The amount of trust scientists place in climate models, for example, depends on their ability to simulate relevant aspects of the past and present world. The amount of trust the public places in climate science should depend on the weight of evidence in the past and present world, which is enormous.” [more]
It is not widely understood that carbon dioxide persists in the atmosphere for centuries, so our future will depend on the total amount we humans put into it over the next several decades. This is the paramount fact that separates climate change from all other environmental problems.
– Clive Hamilton Utopias in the Anthropocene
Today is a red letter date in the history of the world, as the Paris Accord comes into effect. Or maybe it isn’t. The political and activist side of the climate community is portraying the accord as a breakthrough and the beginning of a turnaround in the world’s self-destructive path. But many of us who are scientific and technical professionals have a far less sanguine view of the whole thing. [more]
So, why is everyone so ecstatic about this latest xkcd cartoon?
It’s not as if it’s telling us much we didn’t know. [more]
Results suggest that even the observed short-term temperature sensitivity from the Arctic will have little impact on the global atmospheric methane budget.
In a worrisome development in the combat against climate change, renewables are helping to push nuclear power, the main source of zero-carbon electricity in the United States, into bankruptcy, writes Eduardo Porter in the New York Times [more]
Perhaps “scicomm” people need to get in touch with people actually in the business of changing people’s minds.
Here are three arguments in support of the proposition that renewables are not enough to solve our problem, and that nuclear power is necessary. [more]
“In the end it’s not about finding policies that work, it’s about forging consensus and fighting cynicism. Can we do this?”
There’s no Supreme Court of Truth, no supreme authority that affixes an imprimatur of “scientific fact”.
Yet we believe many things to be true which we could not have known about without science. It’s obvious that science can draw conclusions which are effectively certain, but it’s less than obvious how this happens. How does speculation turn into hypothesis, then established theory, then fact? It’s a social process more than a formal one. [more]
Because of its isolation, the isolated city of Fort McMurray faces a fire crisis the likes of which have not been seen before. [more]
Projecting a persuasive image of a desirable and practical future is extremely important to high morale, to dynamism, to consensus, and in general to help the wheels of society turn smoothly.
– Herman Kahn
When overused roads interfere with a city’s ambitions, well-meaning suggestions for more types of traffic that ride on those roads only make matters worse. We need new transit networks separate from the road system. [more]