The IPCC, Climate Change and Bad Faith Attacks on Science

Green – The Huffington Post
The IPCC, Climate Change and Bad Faith Attacks on Science
It happens every six years or so: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes its assessment of the current state of scientific understanding regarding human-caused climate change. That assessment is based on contributions from thousands of experts around the world through an exhaustive review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature and a rigorous, several-years-long review process. Meanwhile, in the lead-up to publication, fossil-fuel industry front groups and their paid advocates gear up to attack and malign the report, and to mislead and confuse the public about its sobering message.

So in the weeks leading up to the release of the IPCC Fifth Assessment scientific report, professional climate-change deniers and their willing abettors and enablers have done their best to distort what the report actually says about the genuine scientific evidence and the reality of the climate-change threat.

This time, however, climate-change deniers seem divided in their preferred contrarian narrative. Some would have us believe that the IPCC has downgraded the strength of the evidence and the degree of threat. Career fossil-fuel-industry apologist Bjorn Lomborg, in Rupert Murdoch’s “The Australian,” wrote on Sept. 16: “UN’s mild climate change message will be lost in alarmist translation.” On the other hand, serial climate disinformer Judith Curry, in a commentary for the same outlet five days later, announced, “Consensus distorts the climate picture.”

So, make up your mind, critics: Is it a “mild message” or a “distorted picture?” Consistency, they might well respond, is simply the “hobgoblin of little minds” after all — but in reality, that’s only if you ignore the foolishness.

Indeed, claims that members of the IPCC have downgraded their scientific confidence have been plentiful among the usual purveyors of climate-change misinformation: Fox News, the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and various conservative tabloids in the United States, Canada, Germany and Australia. Fox News even sought to mislead its viewers with a bait and switch, focusing attention instead on a deceptive, similarly named report that calls itself the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which simply regurgitates standard shopworn denialist myths and erroneous talking points. That non-peer-reviewed report was published by the discredited industry front group known as the Heartland Institute in the lead-up to the publication of the actual IPCC report, presumably to divert attention from the actual scientific evidence.

In reality, the IPCC has strengthened the degree of certainty that fossil-fuel burning and other human activities are responsible for the warming of the globe seen over the past half century, raising their confidence from “very likely” in the previous report to “extremely likely” in the current one. The IPCC expresses similar levels of certainty that the Earth is experiencing the impacts of that warming in the form of melting ice, rising global sea levels and various forms of extreme weather.

What about the converse claim, promoted by critics, that the IPCC has exaggerated the evidence?

Well, if anything, the opposite appears closer to the truth. In many respects, the IPCC has been overly conservative in its assessment of the science. The new report, for example, slightly reduces the lower end of the estimated uncertainty range for a quantity know as the equilibrium climate sensitivity — the amount of warming scientists expect in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations relative to preindustrial levels (concentrations that will be seen mid-century, given business-as-usual emissions).

The IPCC reports a likely range of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (roughly 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit) for this quantity, the lower end having been dropped from 2.0 degrees C in the fourth IPCC assessment. The lowering is based on one narrow line of evidence: the slowing of surface warming during the past decade.

Yet there are numerous explanations of the slowing of warming (unaccounted for effects of volcanic eruptions and natural variability in the amount of heat buried in the ocean) that do not imply a lower sensitivity of the climate to greenhouse gases. Moreover, other lines of evidence contradict an equilibrium climate sensitivity lower than 2 degrees C. It is incompatible, for example, with paleoclimate evidence from the past ice age, or the conditions that prevailed during the time of the dinosaurs. (See this piece I co-authored earlier this year for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. for a more detailed discussion of the matter.)

The IPCC’s treatment of global sea-level rise is similarly conservative — arguably, overly so. The report gives an upper limit of roughly 1 meter (3 feet) of sea-level rise by the end of the century under business-as-usual carbon emissions. However, there is credible peer-reviewed scientific work, based on so-called “semi-empirical” approaches that predict nearly twice that amount — i.e., nearly 6 feet (2 m) of global sea-level rise this century. These latter approaches are given short thrift in the new IPCC report; instead, the authors of the relevant chapter favor dynamical modeling approaches that have their own potential shortcomings (underestimating, for example, the potential contribution of ice-sheet melting to sea-level rise this century).

As some readers may know, the conclusion that modern warming is unique in a long-term context came to prominence with the temperature reconstruction that my co-authors and I published in the late 1990s. The resulting “Hockey Stick” curve, which demonstrates that the modern warming spike is without precedent for at least the past 1,000 years, took on iconic significance when it was prominently displayed in the “Summary for Policy Makers” of the 2001 Third IPCC Assessment report. Thus, the “Hockey Stick” curve, as I describe in my recent book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars,” became a focal point of the attacks by industry-funded climate-change deniers.

So, it might not come as a surprise that one of the most egregious misrepresentations of the IPCC’s latest report involves the Hockey Stick and conclusions about the uniqueness of modern warming.

An urban legend seems to be circulating around the echo chamber of climate-change denial, including contrarian blogs and fringe right-wing news sites. The claim is that the IPCC has “dropped” or “trashed” the Hockey Stick conclusion regarding the unprecedented nature of recent warmth.

A good rule of thumb is that the more insistent climate-change deniers are about any particular talking point, the greater the likelihood is that the opposite of what they are claiming actually holds. The IPCC has, in fact, actually strengthened its conclusions regarding the exceptional nature of modern warmth in the new report. A highlighted box in the “Summary for Policy Makers” states the following (emphasis mine):

In the northern Hemisphere, the period 1983-2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence).

The original 1999 Hockey Stick study (and the 2001 Third IPCC Assessment report) concluded that recent Northern Hemisphere average warmth was likely unprecedented for only the past 1,000 years. The 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment extended that conclusion back further, over the past 1,300 years (and it raised the confidence to “very likely” for the past 400 years). The new, Fifth IPCC Assessment has now extended the conclusion back over the past 1,400 years. By any honest reading, the IPCC has thus now substantially strengthened and extended the original 1999 Hockey Stick conclusions.

Only in the “up is down, black is white” bizarro world of climate-change denial could one pretend that the IPCC has failed to confirm the original Hockey Stick conclusions, let alone contradict them.

The stronger conclusions in the new IPCC report result from the fact that there is now a veritable hockey league of reconstructions that not only confirm, but extend, the original Hockey Stick conclusions. This recent RealClimate piece summarizes some of the relevant recent work in this area, including a study published by the international PAGES 2k team in the journal Nature Geoscience just months ago. This team of 78 regional experts from more than 60 institutions representing 24 countries, working with the most extensive paleoclimate data set yet, produced the most comprehensive Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction to date. One would be hard-pressed, however, to distinguish their new series from the decade-and-a-half-old Hockey Stick reconstruction of Mann, Bradley and Hughes.


Green dots show the 30-year average of the new PAGES 2k reconstruction. The red curve shows the global mean temperature, according HadCRUT4 data from 1850 onward. In blue is the original hockey stick of Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1999), with its uncertainty range (light blue). Graph by Klaus Bitterman. [Credit: Klaus Bitterman, Stefan Rahmstorf]

Conclusions about unprecedented recent warmth apply to the average temperature over the Northern Hemisphere. Individual regions typically depart substantially from the average. Thus, while most regions were cooler than present during the medieval era, some were as warm, or potentially even warmer, than the late-20th-century average. These regional anomalies result from changes in atmospheric wind patterns associated with phenomena such as El Niño and the so-called North Atlantic Oscillation.

Colleagues and I, quoting from the abstract of our own article in the journal Science a few years ago (emphasis mine), stated:

Global temperatures are known to have varied over the past 1,500 years, but the spatial patterns have remained poorly defined. We used a global climate proxy network to reconstruct surface-temperature patterns over this interval. The medieval period [A.D. 950-1250] is found to display warmth that matches or exceeds that of the past decade in some regions, but which falls well below recent levels globally.

These conclusions from our own recent work are accurately represented by the associated discussion in the “Summary for Policy Makers” of the new IPCC report (emphasis mine):

Continental-scale surface-temperature reconstructions show, with high confidence, multidecadal periods during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (year 950-1250) that were, in some regions, as warm as in the late 20th century. These regional warm periods did not occur as coherently across regions as the warming in the late 20th century (high confidence).

However, never underestimate the inventiveness of climate-change deniers. Where there’s a will, there is, indeed, a way: A meme now circulating throughout the denialosphere is that the IPCC’s conclusions about regional warmth contradict our findings, despite the fact that those conclusions are substantially based on our findings.

One could be excused for wondering if climate-change deniers have lost all sense of irony.

The most egregious example of this latest contortion of logic found its way into the purportedly “mainstream” Daily Mail, courtesy of columnist David Rose, who admittedly has a bit of a reputation for misrepresenting climate scientists and climate science. Rose wrote in his column on Sep. 14, “As recently as October 2012, in an earlier draft of this report, the IPCC was adamant that the world is warmer than at any time for at least 1,300 years. Their new inclusion of the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ — long before the Industrial Revolution and its associated fossil-fuel burning — is a concession that its earlier statement is highly questionable.”

The most charitable interpretation is that Rose simply didn’t actually read or even skim the final draft of the report, despite writing about it at length. For, if he had, he would be aware that the final draft of the report comes to the strongest conclusion yet about the unprecedented nature of recent warmth, extending the original Hockey Stick conclusion farther back than ever before — to the last 1,400 years.

Moreover, he would be aware that the existence of regional medieval warmth rivaling that of the late 20th century does not contradict that conclusion — indeed, it is the regional heterogeneity of that warmth, as established in ours and other studies, that leads the IPCC report to conclude that current levels of hemispheric average warmth are unprecedented for at least 1,400 years.

The lesson here, perhaps, is that no misrepresentation or smear is too egregious for professional climate-change deniers. No doubt, we will continue to see misdirection, cherry-picking, half truths and outright falsehoods from them in the months ahead as the various IPCC working groups report their conclusions.

Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors and the Rube Goldberg contraptions. The true take-home message of the latest IPCC report is crystal clear: Climate change is real and caused by humans, and it continues unabated. We will see far more dangerous and potentially irreversible impacts in the decades ahead if we do not choose to reduce global carbon emissions. There has never been a greater urgency to act than there is now.

The latest IPCC report is simply an exclamation mark on that already-clear conclusion.

Cross-posted with LiveScience

Michael Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (now available for pre-order in paperback with a new guest foreword by Bill Nye “The Science Guy”)

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
How Your iPhone Is Harming Your Health (INFOGRAPHIC)
Are you and your smartphone inseparable? If so, you’re not alone — plenty of research illustrates how increasingly addicted we’re becoming to our mobile devices, including one survey showing that 66 percent of people are actually afraid to lose or be separated from their cell phones. And if rising rates of sleep texting aren’t enough to signal our addiction to our cell phones, we don’t know what is.

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in America, and its latest incarnation, the iPhone 5s, was released in the U.S. on Friday to much frenzy and fanfare. But before you get too excited, keep in mind that excessive smartphone use could have negative effects on your health. Check out the infographic below for to find out how your iPhone (or Droid or Galaxy or any smartphone for that matter) could be messing with your physical and mental well-being.

Infographic by Jan Diehm for the Huffington Post.

I Lost Weight: Tim Bauer Cut Out Fast Food And Sugar And Lost 225 Pounds
Got a success story of your own? Send it to us at and you could be featured on the site!

Name: Tim Bauer

Age: 33

Height: 6’4″

Before Weight: 440 pounds

How I Gained It: I was obese for as long as I can remember. By fifth grade, I topped 100 pounds at below-average height. I ballooned up to 440 pounds after being married and getting comfortable with life and complacent about my health.

Food was my release. It was my dearest friend. It never judged me or laughed at me, and it was there for everything. When I was happy, I’d celebrate with pizza. Sad? Drown it in nacho cheese. Worried? The crunch of Doritos can cure that. Stressed? That’s nothing a pint or two of Ben & Jerry’s couldn’t cure. Angry? Take it out on a burrito.

By 2011, I had sleep apnea and GERD. I was borderline diabetic. Every male member of my family was obese and/or had suffered from heart disease. I came from a long line of lifestyle-related illnesses, and I was destined to repeat history.

I leave for work at about 5 a.m., and I used to stop by a Mexican drive-thru on the way to the freeway. I’d fuel up with a chicken burrito, chicken soft taco, large fries and a large soda. I’d hit a grocery store around mid-morning and grab two bagels and a Danish along with more soda. I’d get fast food for lunch and a snack before going home for dinner. I estimated my daily caloric intake to be between 5,000 and 6,000 calories. I was spiraling toward every obesity-related illness known to man.

I wondered if I would ever get to see my two beautiful daughters grow up, graduate, have children of their own.

Breaking Point: My marriage was rapidly deteriorating. I felt like losing weight would solve everything. Maybe she would be attracted to me, pay attention to me and maybe even love me again.

I stumbled across an inspiring story on Reddit that actually made me go out that morning and walk around the block I came back in and thought I was going to have a heart attack, that’s how out of shape I was. I felt like I almost died, but the most important fact was this one: I didn’t. I lived, and for me that proved that I could probably do it again tomorrow — and I wouldn’t die then either.

How I Lost It: I attempted to eat healthier as best I understood at the time. I tried to avoid sugary and fried foods and white carbs. It wasn’t scientific, but it was a little change to prime me for big changes. Eventually I consulted a friend who had a nutrition degree who helped write up a meal plan for me. My friend started building a dream in my mind. He told me: “If you stick with this, by Christmas next year, you could be down 100 pounds.”

I wish I’d known then that he was completely wrong. One year and nine days after I started, I found myself exactly 200 pounds lower than the day I’d started.

I ate egg white omelets for breakfast with spinach, spices, garlic, avocado — whatever I was in the mood for. Lunch was five to seven ounces of meat with steamed green vegetables of some sort. Dinner was usually the same. My snacks were raw veggies, almonds, pistachios, fruit and sweet potatoes, and I still allowed myself coffee, either black or sweetened with Stevia.

I brought my food with me everywhere. I always had a lunch box filled with raw celery and carrots to gnaw on if I found myself twitching with a craving for a bag of chips.

I started studying up on nutrition and fitness as much as I could online, and I adopted a mostly Paleo diet. My GERD disappeared almost overnight. I was sleeping better and my skin cleared up. I felt more confident.

I decided to join a gym about four weeks and 30 pounds into my journey. I was still over 400 pounds. The guy who sold me my membership probably thought he’d never see me again. I bought 15 sessions with a trainer and I started working out four or five times a week. When I worked out alone, it was mostly 45 minute elliptical sessions because I didn’t know what else to do.

I ran my first 5K on Thanksgiving 2011, a little over a year after I started this journey. I completed my first triathlon 18 months to the day after starting. I eat 95 percent Paleo (I still drink diet sodas and enjoy the occasional fermented good-time beverage). But I never have grains and I never touch sugar.

Today, my daughters can sit in my lap comfortably and wrap their arms completely around me. I can’t think of a single fitness metric that is more important than that one.

After Weight: 215 pounds


The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.

Check out more of our inspiring weight loss stories below:

For more on weight loss, click here.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
‘Mobile Storage’ Trucks Prove School Cell Phone Bans Really Aren’t Doing Much
Just like food trucks have become a staple of many New Yorker’s diets, a twice-daily visit to a local phone truck has become a ritual for most New York City public high schoolers. Unfortunately, these trucks aren’t serving up tacos or banh mi sandwiches. They’re for-hire phone lockers that charge students $1 a day to store their phones outside the school walls.

phone truck

This is because the NYC Department of Education under Mayor Bloomberg prohibited cell phones in schools, citing distraction and potential cheating as reasons for the ban. This forces students to spend $180 a year to store their phones, roughly the cost of an SAT prep course or a dozen new books.

The cheating argument feels flimsy: for as long as tests have existed, students have found a way to cheat on them. Sorry, math teachers everywhere. Though the ban may not have stopped cheaters in their tracks, it’s certainly had a negative impact on the relationship between students and their school.

One student I spoke to seemed frustrated with how much money the school’s allowing phone-truck operators to make at their expense, estimating that “this one truck is making more than a thousand dollars a day.”

Her friend acknowledged the ban’s rationale, but said many worried about leaving school to find that their phones had disappeared. “Phones are a distraction for every high school, but I know sometimes kids probably think what if the phone truck just drives away.”

Rather than making schools distraction-free, the cell phone ban merely adds a layer of distraction to a student’s life: paying for storage, spending time in line before and after school, and a case of severe nomophobia throughout the day.

When the Bloomberg administration enacted the phone ban, they must not have foreseen the unintended consequences that eventually trickled down to students. To their credit, the current mayoral candidates vow to lift the ban if elected, some of them on day one in office.

But what if completely repealing the ban isn’t the right decision either? Allowing phone use in schools with no strings attached may not promote cheating, but it will certainly be a distraction in the classroom.

Cell phone prohibition, on the other hand, makes an already tense relationship between school and student more adversarial. What I propose is a third way for dealing with smartphones in schools: using them as tools to interact positively with students, encouraging beneficial behaviors like paying attention in class.

Programs involving students, cell phones and incentives have a mixed history of success, with many of the failures coincidentally occurring in New York City public schools. A 2007 campaign, spearheaded by then-Chancellor Joel I. Klein, offered to provide students with cell phones in order to text them academic encouragement outside of school. From what I gather, that program never got very far off the ground before being shut down.

Likewise, a study that paid NYC students $1.5 million to boost standardized test scores over two school years proved to be ineffective. The problem, examined further by the program’s creator, Ronald G. Fry, was that students can be incentivized for educational inputs like reading books, but not outputs like test scores. He proved that, when presented with a clear step to take (read this book) rather than a goal (do better on this test!), students respond well to financial incentives.

Much like reading books, paying attention in class is a critical piece of academic success and an area ripe for student incentives. Why not reward students for their attention, with the smartphone as a measurement tool? I’m sure students would welcome saving $20 in phone-truck fees and hours in line every month. Teachers may even see boosts in grades from students no longer worried about their phone being surreptitiously driven away during third period chemistry. How about it, future mayors of NYC?

For more by David Krevitt, click here.

For more on unplugging and recharging, click here.

The Happiest Animals On Earth (PHOTOS)
The stress and strain of constantly being connected can sometimes take your life — and your well-being — off course. GPS For The Soul can help you find your way back to balance.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others’ stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing “secret weapons” that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony, or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to look at the GPS Guide below, visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

Happiness comes in many forms. Whether it’s staying balanced through meditation, spending time with loved ones, or appreciating life’s simple pleasures, we all have many habits that help us become more joyful. Sometimes, however, we need a reminder of what happiness can look like when the strain of a tough day overpowers our feelings of positivity. Enter these happy animals who just can’t seem to stop smiling. Scroll through the slideshow below of 9 jubilant animals that encourage us to embrace happiness — during the good and the bad days.

For more GPS Guides, click here.

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo


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