Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top ten climate science stories of the year

Well, actually nine climate stories and one biodiversity story with a climate link.

How many of these did you hear about? If you heard about them, how many did you hear through mainstream media sources? How can the mainstream media spend so long on trivia and fail to mention some of the most significant risks facing our society identified over the last twelve months? Is it because we don't want to know? Insert head (A) into sand (B). Repeat.

8 comments:

Sam Norton said...

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7226

Sam Norton said...

Sorry, meant to add a comment to that link! To the effect: I think that's just as significant a story.

byron smith said...

Thanks Sam. Yes, I saw that story (on peak coal) a while back and am still not quite sure what to make of it. Haven't had a chance to look through the responses to it or any of the references and so am not in a position to judge its merits. It may indeed be a very significant story, though it doesn't seem to have been picked up in many places.

Sam Norton said...

I think my 'take-away' point is that all the IPCC scenarios assume more carbon than is actually available (one corollary of which is that most of the harm has already been done). So somewhat positive news on the climate change side, rather negative news on the 'keeping warm in winter' side...

(On which subject, you must be pretty cold up there at the moment!)

byron smith said...

Yep, pretty chilly here (though not in pretty much everywhere else - looks like 2010 is going to set the calendar year record, after setting the meteorological record and three times setting the twelve month running record). But we're now running with 100% renewable power, so coal shortages are not directly relevant to our keeping warm (of course, they would have all kinds of indirectly devastation consequences should we suddenly find ourselves short of coal).

All the IPCC scenarios assume more than is actually available.
As comments on that Rutledge piece make clear, not all the scenarios require more coal consumption than Ruteldge claims is available. And there are still plenty of non-conventional fossil fuels to send us well into stupidly dangerous climate territory. Even our current levels are probably high enough to see off coral reefs (and with them, large swathes of marine ecosystems) and do some serious damage to global agriculture (especially one the lag has caught up in a couple of decades' time).

I also note your recent link to an alternative view at TOD on coal resources/reserves.

I fear that not even peak fossil fuels can make climate change irrelevant (though it could aid in mitigating against the extinction-of-homo-spaniens climate scenarios of >~1000ppm). Climate change and peak fossils turns into a double-whammy when we're chasing expensive energy security in Canada's dirty sands.

byron smith said...

*indirectly devastation --> indirectly devastating

Alan Wood said...

So, homo spaniens - that's the subspecies that has evolved in symbiosis with little dogs? But they still interbreed with the rest of the population, right (King Charles II apparently did)? So not quite a species yet?

More seriously, on the 'we don't want to know' front, you might like what John Quiggin noticed about The Australian:

...journalists were accused of presenting views on global warming that differed from those of ‘Middle Australia’ a term presumably used as code for “our readers” (the idea that journalists should report the facts, whether or not that’s what the readers [want] is obviously passe).

http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/12/20/total-core-meltdown/

byron smith said...

Mea culpa on my Latin typo.

The Australian is notoriously bad on climate reporting (though the opening few paragraphs of that particular piece quoted by Quiggin are cogent enough, it quickly goes off the rails around the middle). Tim Lambert has been cataloguing their "war on science" for the last few years and has scores of posts on this topic (including a few on the article in question in the Quiggin piece)