Tag Archives: climate change

Interest in science, not ability, builds trust in climate science

Enlarge (credit: Carrie Martin/LLNL)

Studies of how people perceive climate science paint a depressing picture—one in which ideology overwhelms evidence. Not only does opinion about the science break down along ideological lines, but knowledge of science seems to make matters worse, accentuating the partisan divide.

Those studies have always been somewhat dissatisfying, though, as they leave little room for anyone to dispassionately evaluate the evidence or voice trust in the researchers who have. And, in fact, they don’t explain how exceptions come to exist—the significant conservative voices that are calling for action on climate change.

A study done by Matthew Motta of the University of Minnesota delves into how people might escape ideological blinders. Motta found that people with a long-term interest in science tend

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Chain Reaction: How a Soviet A-Bomb Test Led the U.S. Into Climate Science

In 1971, the USSR tried to use nuclear blasts to change the course of rivers. The scheme failed. But it had another consequence, all but forgotten until now: It set in motion the first U.S. government research on climate change — a far-reaching project that has continued into this decade. … Read the rest

Massive bleaching event may be permanently changing the Great Barrier Reef

Enlarge / Although these corals are colored, they’ve been bleached, in that they have lost their photosynthetic symbiotes. (credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies / Gergely Torda)

The intense El Niño event that started in 2015 drove global air temperatures to new records, helped by the long trend of human-driven warming. But the air wasn’t the only thing affected. El Niño is fundamentally about Pacific Ocean temperatures, and those were exceptionally hot as well. One of the unfortunate results of this was a massive bleaching of the corals of the Great Barrier Reef.

While the damage to corals looked dramatic at the time, appearances aren’t the same as data, and they don’t give a comprehensive view of the damage, much less the

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A Remedy for Broken Science, Or an Attempt to Undercut It?

The report offers a lucid overview of the reproducibility debate in modern science. But it also raises concerns — particularly as it relates to mainstream climate science, which one of its co-authors described as “a farrago of unreliable statistics, arbitrary research techniques, and politicized groupthink.” … Read the rest

Yes, sea level rise really is accelerating

Enlarge / A family of sea-level-measuring satellites. (credit: NASA)

Some people have eyeballed satellite measurements of sea level rise and claimed that there is no sign of acceleration—just a linear increase. Then, ignoring the physics of melting glacial ice and the expansion of warming water, they declare that future sea level rise won’t be a big deal. Many studies have demonstrated accelerating rates of sea level rise over the past millennia, as well as the tide gauge record spanning the 20th century. But the short satellite record—which only started in 1993—is a slightly different question.

While the global satellite record is in many ways cleaner than coastal measurements that can be affected by processes that raise or lower the ground that the tide gauge sits

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Can we zero-in on Earth’s sensitivity to CO₂?

Enlarge (credit: Kristin Andrus)

If it were easy to pin down the exact value for our planet’s sensitivity to greenhouse gas emission, it would have been done a long time ago—and you wouldn’t be reading yet another news story about it. It’s not like we have no idea how sensitive the climate is. The range of possible values that scientists have been able to narrow it down to only spans from “climate change is very bad news” to “climate change is extremely bad news.”

But the difference between “very bad” and “extremely bad” is pretty important, so climate scientists aren’t throwing up their hands any time soon—as two new studies published this week show.

There are several basic strategies available for calculating the climate’s sensitivity.

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As climates cool, adaptation heats up

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images / DEA Picture Library)

While natural selection is a big part of evolution, the theory now embraces much more than that. One of the big concepts that explains a lot of the pattern of evolution throughout history is called “adaptive radiation.” Adaptive radiation is a process in which environmental changes create new resources, challenges, and environmental niches, enabling rapid diversification of organisms from a single ancestral species.

Adaptive radiation provides a sound explanation that captures the effects of the interactions among organisms on species diversification. However, non-biological effects—the details of how environmental changes interact with species—are not easy to incorporate into this model and have not been extensively explored.

In a recent investigation published in PNAS, a team of scientists

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How globalised agriculture is ruining lives in South America

Not much remains of Guayaqui Cuá in southeastern Paraguay. As fires continue to smoulder, wisps of smoke float over the charred slats of a wooden bed, burnt personal possessions and a few sombre peasants living under makeshift plastic tents, which are all that’s left of this small rural community.

Two days ago, security men from the nearby cattle ranch and local police officers, under orders of a large estate owner, moved in without notice to evict the community and raze their properties to the ground, explains a tearful María Lina Estorales. Sitting despondently on the dirt floor and wiping rivers of tears from her face, she’s trying to work out what to do next – surrounded by members of the other 21 families who lost their … Read the rest

If you live inland, don’t think sea level rise won’t affect you

Enlarge (credit: flickr user: Richard)

There has been a lot of talk about the millions of people worldwide whose homes will be at the mercy of rising sea levels. Within the US, a 1.8-meter rise in the oceans by 2100 could displace as many as 13.1 million people. Worldwide, up to 180 million people could be at risk.

There has been less talk about where exactly those people will go when they leave their homes. Research on climate migration has painted sea level rise as “primarily a coastal issue,” writes Mathew E. Hauer in Nature Climate Change this week. But the inland regions that absorb climate change migrants will need to have sufficient transport, housing, and infrastructure to absorb the migrants.

To get a picture

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