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Climate Shifts » admin http://www.climateshifts.org Science, climate change, coral reefs and the environment Sun, 05 Oct 2014 04:16:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.24 Pesticides and the Great Barrier Reef: Extensive new data and analysis and increased concerns (a note from Jon Brodie) http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6919 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6919#comments Mon, 10 Oct 2011 01:54:49 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6919

As a result of an extensive research and monitoring program funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments over the last 5 years  a greatly better understanding of the risks to Great Barrier Reef ecosystems from pesticide residues is now available and in the process of being published in the scientific literature. Most of [...]]]>

As a result of an extensive research and monitoring program funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments over the last 5 years  a greatly better understanding of the risks to Great Barrier Reef ecosystems from pesticide residues is now available and in the process of being published in the scientific literature. Most of the papers are or will be published in special issues of Marine Pollution Bulletin and Agriculture Ecosystems and the Environment. Some of the MPB papers are already published online and the rest from both issues will follow over the next few months. While the complete set is still uncertain (due to reviewing still in progress) the following are already out:

  1. Davis, A.M., Lewis, S.E., Bainbridge, Z.T., Brodie, J.E., Glendenning, L., Turner, R. 2011 this volume. Dynamics of herbicide transport and partitioning under event flow conditions in the lower Burdekin region, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Online. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.08.025
  2. Smith, R., Middlebrook, R., Turner, R., Huggins, R., Vardy, S. and Warne, M. 2011. Large-scale pesticide monitoring across Great Barrier catchments – Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Online. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.08.010
  3. W. van Dam, Andrew P. Negri, Jochen F. Mueller, Sven Uthicke.  2011. Symbiont-specific responses in foraminifera to the herbicide diuron. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Online.

 

About another 8 papers are still to be published so readers can look out for these. Also out in 2011 were:

 

  1. Negri, A.P. Flores, F. Röthig, T. Uthicke, S. 2011. Herbicides increase the vulnerability of corals to rising sea surface temperature. Limnology and Oceanography 56, 471-485.

 

  1. van Dam, J.W., Negri, A.P., Uthicke, S., Mueller, J.F., 2011. Chemical pollution on coral reefs: exposure and ecological effects. In: Sanchez-Bayo, F., van den Brink, P.J., Mann, R.M. (Eds.), Ecological Impact of Toxic Chemicals. Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

 

We also have the pesticide results of this year’s extreme river discharge events coming out, both in rivers and in marine waters – initially in reports but in process of being written up for papers.

My conclusions from this body of work and previous results is that pesticides present a severe risk to coastal freshwater and estuarine systems along the GBR coast and a moderate risk to marine systems further offshore. There has already been press interest (Courier Mail 22 September 2011) regarding the Smith et al. paper which shows the large exceedance of Australian water quality guidelines for a range of pesticides along coastal waterways. The abstract from MPB is below.

 

The transport and potential toxicity of pesticides in Queensland (QLD) catchments from agricultural areas is a key concern for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). In 2009, a pesticide monitoring program was established as part of the Australian and QLD Governments’ Reef Plan (2009). Samples were collected at eight End of System sites (above the tidal zone) and three sub-catchment sites. At least two pesticides were detected at every site including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and the Reef Plan’s (2009) five priority photosystem II (PSII) herbicides (diuron, atrazine, hexazinone, tebuthiuron and ametryn). Diuron, atrazine and metolachlor exceeded Australian and New Zealand water quality guideline trigger values (TVs) at eight sites. Accounting for PSII herbicide mixtures increased the estimated toxicity and led to larger exceedances of the TVs at more sites. This study demonstrates the widespread contamination of pesticides, particularly PSII herbicides, across the GBR catchment area which discharges to the GBR.

 

All this is happening at the same time as the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) is considering the banning of diuron in Australia:

http://www.apvma.gov.au/products/review/current/diuron.php

 

 

Jon Brodie

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Bubbling sea signals severe coral damage this century http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6726 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6726#comments Mon, 30 May 2011 23:32:58 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6726 Dobu Island in Papua New Guinea has active underwater fumaroles (Jennifer Marohasy posted on it a few years back) that seep high concentrations of CO2 into the environment, in turn acidifying the surrounding ocean. These vents have been active for at least 50 years: according to village elders  these seeps have existed at that [...]]]> Dobu Island in Papua New Guinea has active underwater fumaroles (Jennifer Marohasy posted on it a few years back) that seep high concentrations of CO2 into the environment, in turn acidifying the surrounding ocean. These vents have been active for at least 50 years: according to village elders  these seeps have existed at that location throughout their life (the local traditional site name “Illi Illi Bua Bua” translates to “Blowing Bubbles”).

Katherina Fabricius and a collaboration of scientists have published an amazing article in the journal Nature Climate Change looking at a gradient across these seeps and the impacts on coral reef ecosystems. The results are striking:

Seascapes at a, control site (‘low pCO2’: pH~8.1), b, moderate seeps (‘high pCO2’: pH 7.8–8.0), and c, the most intense vents (pH<7.7), showing progressive loss of diversity and structural complexity with increasing pCO2. d, Map of the main seep site along the western shore of Upa-Upasina (marked as grey; map: Supplementary Fig. S1). Colour contours indicate seawater pH, and the letters indicate the approximate locations of seascapes as shown in a–c.

“The implications of the observed ecological changes for the future of coral reefs are severe. The decline in structurally complex framework-forming corals at lowered pH is likely to reduce habitat availability and quality for juvenile fish and many invertebrates. The low coral juvenile densities (including those of Porites) probably slows coral recovery after disturbance, suggesting reduced community resilience. The loss of crustose coralline algae that serve as settlement substratum for coral larvae probably impedes larval recruitment, and the doubling of non-calcareous macroalgae reduces the available space for larvae to settle. Susceptibility to storm breakage would also increase, if internal macrobioeroder densities in massive Porites are indicative of borer densities in other coral taxa and reef substrata.”

Bearing in mind these caveats, our data nevertheless suggest that tropical coral reefs with high coral cover can still exist at seawater pH of 7.8 (750 ppm pCO2), albeit with severe losses in biodiversity, structural complexity and resilience. As pH declines from 8.1 to 7.8 units, the loss of the stenotopic fast-growing structurally complex corals progressively shifts reef communities to those dominated by slow-growing, long-lived and structurally simple eurytopic massive Porites (Fig. 1a,b).

Reef development ceases at 7.7 pH units (980 ppm pCO2), suggesting these values are terminal thresholds for any form of coral reef development.  T

The big question that remains is how elevated sea temperatures will interact with the effects of acidification.  So far, it doesn’t look hopeful (Anthony et al. 2008). More from the BBC and Sciencedaily. Unsurprisingly, no word from Andrew Bolt, Anthony Watts or Jennifer Marohasy.

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Ever wondered how Andrew Bolt ended up with his own TV show? The answer: Gina Reinhart http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6663 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6663#comments Wed, 11 May 2011 03:46:47 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6663

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BBC Four: meet the climate skeptics http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6599 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6599#comments Sat, 07 May 2011 03:04:05 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6599

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Horizon: Science Under Attack http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6570 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6570#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2011 00:41:49 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6570  

Here’s a great video from BBC’s “Horizon” – fascinating watch that puts Delingpole firmly in his place.

 

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Here’s a great video from BBC’s “Horizon” – fascinating watch that puts Delingpole firmly in his place.

 

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The latest from the ‘Redneck-Wonderland’. http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6564 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6564#comments Mon, 18 Apr 2011 21:53:35 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6564 The following was recently posted by shock jock Andrew Bolt who has just been given his own TV program by Australia’s richest person, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart. For those overseas – Greg Combet is our Federal Minister for Climate Change.  For those wondering why the reference to “Redneck Wonderland” go here and here.

Note that [...]]]> The following was recently posted by shock jock Andrew Bolt who has just been given his own TV program by Australia’s richest person, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart. For those overseas – Greg Combet is our Federal Minister for Climate Change.  For those wondering why the reference to “Redneck Wonderland” go here and here.

Note that the ‘experts’ that he refers to are unqualified and unpublished in the peer-reviewed literature associated with the majority of expert areas behind their claims.  Good choice Andrew – I guess they match your expertise on climate change and  its impacts.  Wouldn’t want to have a real expert disagree with you!

————————————————————

Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth identify 10 errors in Climate Change Greg Combet’s big speech last week on his carbon dioxide tax.

Go here for their explanations, but these are the 10 falsehoods Combet uttered:


1. The evidence of atmospheric warming is very strong, and the potential for dangerous climate impacts is high. The scientific advice is that carbon (sic) pollution (sic) is the cause.


2. Globally, 2010 was the warmest year on record, with 2001 to 2010 the warmest decade. 2010 is the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th-century average.

3. In Australia, each decade since the 1940s has been warmer than the preceding decade. With rising temperatures we can expect to see more extreme weather events, including more frequent and intense droughts, floods and bushfires.

4. The environmental consequences translate readily into economic costs – as well as potential negative impacts on water security, coastal development, infrastructure, agriculture, and health.

5. Professor Will Steffen, a leading expert in the climate science, has advised the Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change that there is 100% certainty that the earth is warming, and that there is a very high level of certainty it will continue to warm unless efforts are made to reduce the levels of carbon (sic) pollution (sic) being sent into the atmosphere.

6. It is in our national interest to take action on climate change. The national interest case is clear.

7. Climate change is an environmental problem with an economic solution.

8. Just as the 1980s reforms laid down the bedrock of our current prosperity, pricing carbon (sic) will ensure that the Australian economy of the 21st century remains globally competitive.

9. Intergenerational equity is a key determinant of long-term economic policy making. Our obligation is to leave the world a better place, not to pass on the problems we found too difficult to deal with to our grandchildren and to their grandchildren.

10. Australia is one of the world’s top 20 polluters and we release more pollution per person than any other country in the developed world – more than the US. Not only is it in our national interest to act, we have a responsibility to do so.

 

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/combets_10_big_errors/

UPDATE:

Someone has claimed that Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth have published in the peer-reviewed literature and that I should therefore apologise or issue a correction.

I will do neither.  But here is a clarification and some evidence.

Bob Carter, Dave Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth have not published their scientific propositions (that underpin the 10 putative ‘errors’ Bolt has pointed to) in the peer-reviewed literature.  This is crucial if we are to separate fact from opinion.

Let’s take the first allegation.  According to these individuals, they say that Minister Combet was wrong to have said the following:

The evidence of atmospheric warming is very strong, and the potential for dangerous climate impacts is high. The scientific advice is that carbon (sic) pollution (sic) is the cause.

According to Carter et al., however:

Atmospheric warming and cooling happen the whole time naturally, and global temperature has been level or cooling gently for the last ten years; and that despite the fact that a quarter of all human emissions of carbon dioxide, over all of history, have occurred since 1998.

And so on … anthropogenic climate change is not happening … read the rest here.

Given such strong opinions, you would expect that the 4 experts would have published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature extensively on subjects like climate change, presenting data from their own expertise that support arguments that climate change is or is not happening.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Let us go and explore the Gold standard for collecting and collating peer-reviewed scientific information, Thomson Reuters Institute for Scientific Information, and see how many times that these four ‘experts’ have published in the expert literature since 1999.  If they were bone fide experts then they would be listed in the ISI Web of Knowledge many times under papers in which they have tested their ideas with the expert scientific community.

This is what you find when you explore the data for real experts.  For example, Prof David Karoly of the University of Melbourne (lead author within the IPCC) has had over 10 publications since 1999 that directly address his conclusions regarding climate change and atmospheric physics.  Prof Lesley Hughes, who is an expert on the impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems in Australia, has 32 peer-reviewed publications since 1999. And these individuals have gone through the very stringent reviewing process of the IPCC several times over. This process helps ensure scientific rigour within the evidence collected and the conclusions drawn. It also ensures that the general conclusions drawn reflect the scientific community and not a gut feeling or unsubstantiated opinion.

Here it is what happens when you search for peer-reviewed papers by the ‘experts’ listed by Bolt on climate change in the ISI Web of knowledge database.

  1. 1. Searching for articles by ‘R M Carter’ since 1999: One publication on climate variability which later found to be seriously flawed and misleading.  Full details, go here and here. So – the number of peer-reviewed articles that have passed scientific muster in the relevant field of climate change since 1999 is 0.
  2. Searching for articles by Evans, D (apparently a past consultant to the Greenhouse Office).  Searching was complicated by his name being rather universal, so I restricted the field to in peer-reviewed paper by Evans that mentioned the word ‘climate’.  Number of articles since 1999 in the peer-reviewed literature on climate change is 0.
  3. I had to also restrict the field for Franks S (a hydrological engineer at the University of Newcastle).  Searching for articles by Franks with the word ‘climate’ yielded one article “Regional hydrological impacts of climate change – hydroclimatic variability” which doesn’t present or test the idea that climate change is or is not happening or any of the other of the notions from the list of 10 errors.  So, the number of articles by Assoc Prof Franks since 1999 that involve peer review of his claims that climate change is not happening is 0.
  4. Searching for articles by Kininmonth W was a lot easier given the more unique nature of his name and yielded no peer-reviewed research literature. Again, however, the number of peer-reviewed papers generated by Kininmonth since 1999 that test his claims that climate change is not happening is 0.

That makes 0, 0, 0 and 0.

So, on issues like atmospheric physics or impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems, Minister Combet is correct in listening closely to David Karoly and not Bob Carter, and listening closely to Lesley Hughes and not Stewart Franks.

 

 

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First-time Bleaching in Ningaloo, Western Australia http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6556 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6556#comments Tue, 12 Apr 2011 10:26:14 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6556 Posted on 01 March 2011

SEE UPDATE here.

[...]]]>
Bleaching in Ningaloo?  I believe this is a first for high temperature-related coral bleaching. People have wondered why these reefs have not suffered from mass coral bleaching.  Unfortunately, that is no longer true. Here is a report by coral biologist, Dr Tyrone Ridgway (Australian Institute of Marine Science)

Coral bleaching has been reported on Ningaloo – a reef system that has not experienced widespread bleaching to date.  Coral bleaching likelihood is largely determined by sea temperatures, and during the 2010/2011 summer, sea surface temperatures across Ningaloo were anomalously warm.

Coral bleaching events are usually caused by long periods (usually 4 to 8 weeks) of warmer than average summer sea surface temperatures (SSTs), and SST estimates from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch Program show that 2010/2011 summer SSTs around Ningaloo have been about 1°C to 3°C warmer than the long-term averages for the region.  As a result, Ningaloo was on Bleaching Watch for much of the summer and reached 4 Degree Heating Weeks (DHW)1 in mid-January 2011 (Figure 1A).  In situ temperature loggers (~ 6 m depth) at Bundegi in the Exmouth Gulf and 14-Mile Beach on Ningaloo (Figure 1B) confirmed that actual water temperatures had been above seasonal averages since mid October 2010.

Figure 1.  Temperature data for Ningaloo during 2010/2011 summer.  A. NOAA Coral Reef Watch forecasts for Ningaloo.  B. In situ temperature logger data for Bundegi and 14-Mile Beach.  The black dotted line is the NOAA seasonal averages from Fig. 1A overlaid on the temperature logger data.
Reef surveys by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) confirmed coral bleaching (Figure 2) at multiple sites during February 2011.  Initial shallow water surveys suggest low level bleaching (< 5 % of total coral cover) is wide spread, but areas such as Bundegi and Coral Bay have higher levels of bleaching of up to 80 % of total coral cover.

Figure 2.  Coral bleaching at Coral Bay (10 February 2011).  A. Acropora and Favia; B. Seriatopora;
C. Echinopora.  (Photo credits: Tyrone Ridgway, AIMS).
As of 24 February 2011, Ningaloo was at 6 DHW and the Predictive Ocean Atmosphere Model for Australia (POAMA) forecast anomalous SSTs to continue through March 2011.  The fact that the temperatures are forecast to remain above seasonal averages through till the end of the 2010/2011 summer is of concern because the risk of coral mortality is increased if the thermal stress persists once the corals have bleached (Figure 3).  As such, AIMS and DEC will continue to monitor the sea surface temperatures and reef health at Ningaloo over the coming months.  Depending on the magnitude of the 2010/2011 bleaching event, the need for follow up post-bleaching surveys to estimate mortality rates will be assessed.
Figure 3.  Bleaching does not necessarily lead to corals dying (mortality).  Bleached corals can recover and survive if water temperatures return to normal.  Mortality normally occurs if the temperatures remain warm for an extended time period after bleaching occurs.
The bleaching reports at Ningaloo follow on from multiple observations of mass bleaching from Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the central Indian Ocean between May and July 2010 – where sea temperatures were up to 4°C above summer seasonal averages.
1 Degree Heating Weeks (DHW) is an accumulation of any temperature HotSpots greater than 1°C over a 12-week window, which shows how stressful conditions have been for corals in the last three months. DHW is therefore a cumulative measurement of the intensity and duration of thermal stress, and is expressed in the unit °C-weeks. Based on previous bleaching observations worldwide, evidence suggest that 4°C-weeks (4 DHW) results in bleaching and that 8°C-weeks (8 DHW) and above result in widespread bleaching. For example, Scott Reef in West Australia and the Maldives in the central Indian Ocean suffered significant bleaching mortality in 1998, with 13 DHW and 10 DHW respectively.  For more detailed information see Coral Reef Watch.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Frazer McGregor (Murdoch University), Kim Friedman, Heather Taylor, Tom Holmes, Shaun Wilson (DEC), and Martial Depczynski, Ben Radford, Tyrone Ridgway, Paul Tinkler (AIMS) for data and information.
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Do the numbers: gas emits as much CO2 as coal. http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6549 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6549#comments Sat, 09 Apr 2011 22:30:04 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6549 Natural gas is widely advertised and promoted as a clean burning fuel that produces less greenhouse gas emissions than coal when burned. While it is true that less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than from burning coal per unit of energy generated, the combustion emissions are only part of story and the [...]]]> Natural gas is widely advertised and promoted as a clean burning fuel that produces less greenhouse gas emissions than coal when burned. While it is true that less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than from burning coal per unit of energy generated, the combustion emissions are only part of story and the comparison is quite misleading.

With funding from the Park Foundation, my colleagues Renee Santoro, Tony Ingraffea, and I have assessed the likely footprint from natural gas in comparison to coal. We submitted a draft of our work to a peer-reviewed journal in November, and now have a revised manuscript under consideration by the journal. The revision is improved with input from reviewers and also uses new information from a November 2010 report from the EPA. The EPA report is the first significant update by the agency on natural gas emission factors since 1996, and concludes that emissions – particularly for shale gas – are larger than previously believed. Our research further supports this conclusion.

 

Assessment of the Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations Obtained by High-Volume, Slick-Water Hydraulic Fracturing

Robert W. Howarth

David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology, Cornell University

(Revised January 26, 2011)

 

A summary figure from our revised submission is shown here. The figure compares shale gas with two estimates of methane emissions to the atmosphere (low and high, two bars to the left), conventional natural gas with two estimates of methane emissions (high and low estimates, next two bars), coal from surface mines (3rd bar from right), coal from deep mines (2nd bar from right) and diesel oil. Please note this should be treated tentatively, as further changes or refinements in response to reviewer comments are possible. We nonetheless post the update now due to the tremendous interest in the topic, and its importance in deciding the wisdom of viewing natural gas as a transitional fuel over the coming decades.

Natural gas is composed largely of methane, and 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks. This is 1.3- to 2.1-times greater methane emissions than from conventional gas. The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured — as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids — and during drill out following the fracturing. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide, particularly over time periods of a couple of decades following emission. Methane contributes substantially to the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas on shorter time scales, dominating it on a 20-year time frame. The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time frame, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is 1.2- to 2.1-fold greater on the 20-year time frame and is comparable when compared over 100-years.

We urge caution in viewing natural gas as good fuel choice for the future. Note that both the National Academy of Sciences and the Council of Scientific Society Presidents have urged great caution before proceeding with the development of diffuse natural gas from shale formations using unconventional technology.

See:

National Research Council (2009). Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use. National Academy of Sciences Press.

Letter to President Obama and senior administration officials, May 4, 2009, from the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.

EPA (2010). Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting from the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry. Background Technical Support Document.

 

 

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Anthony Watts, Richard Muller and the GOP three ring circus. http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6544 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6544#comments Sat, 09 Apr 2011 00:12:21 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6544 You just have to love them.  Here is a fascinating insight from Paul Krugman in the Opinion pages of the New York Times.  You have to admit, the GOP and their antics really do take the cake!

By PAUL KRUGMAN

So the joke begins like this: An economist, a lawyer [...]]]> You just have to love them.  Here is a fascinating insight from Paul Krugman in the Opinion pages of the New York Times.  You have to admit, the GOP and their antics really do take the cake!

By PAUL KRUGMAN

So the joke begins like this: An economist, a lawyer and a professor of marketing walk into a room. What’s the punch line? They were three of the five “expert witnesses” Republicans called for last week’s Congressional hearing on climate science.

But the joke actually ended up being on the Republicans, when one of the two actual scientists they invited to testify went off script.

Prof. Richard Muller of Berkeley, a physicist who has gotten into the climate skeptic game, has been leading the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, an effort partially financed by none other than the Koch foundation. And climate deniers — who claim that researchers at NASA and other groups analyzing climate trends have massaged and distorted the data — had been hoping that the Berkeley project would conclude that global warming is a myth.

Instead, however, Professor Muller reported that his group’s preliminary results find a global warming trend “very similar to that reported by the prior groups.”

The deniers’ response was both predictable and revealing; more on that shortly. But first, let’s talk a bit more about that list of witnesses, which raised the same question I and others have had about a number of committee hearings held since the G.O.P. retook control of the House — namely, where do they find these people?

My favorite, still, was Ron Paul’s first hearing on monetary policy, in which the lead witness was someone best known for writing a book denouncing Abraham Lincoln as a “horrific tyrant” — and for advocating a new secessionist movement as the appropriate response to the “new American fascialistic state.”

The ringers (i.e., nonscientists) at last week’s hearing weren’t of quite the same caliber, but their prepared testimony still had some memorable moments. One was the lawyer’s declaration that the E.P.A. can’t declare that greenhouse gas emissions are a health threat, because these emissions have been rising for a century, but public health has improved over the same period. I am not making this up.

Oh, and the marketing professor, in providing a list of past cases of “analogies to the alarm over dangerous manmade global warming” — presumably intended to show why we should ignore the worriers — included problems such as acid rain and the ozone hole that have been contained precisely thanks to environmental regulation.

But back to Professor Muller. His climate-skeptic credentials are pretty strong: he has denounced both Al Gore and my colleague Tom Friedman as “exaggerators,” and he has participated in a number of attacks on climate research, including the witch hunt over innocuous e-mails from British climate researchers. Not surprisingly, then, climate deniers had high hopes that his new project would support their case.

You can guess what happened when those hopes were dashed.

Just a few weeks ago Anthony Watts, who runs a prominent climate denialist Web site, praised the Berkeley project and piously declared himself “prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.” But never mind: once he knew that Professor Muller was going to present those preliminary results, Mr. Watts dismissed the hearing as “post normal science political theater.” And one of the regular contributors on his site dismissed Professor Muller as “a man driven by a very serious agenda.”

Of course, it’s actually the climate deniers who have the agenda, and nobody who’s been following this discussion believed for a moment that they would accept a result confirming global warming. But it’s worth stepping back for a moment and thinking not just about the science here, but about the morality.

For years now, large numbers of prominent scientists have been warning, with increasing urgency, that if we continue with business as usual, the results will be very bad, perhaps catastrophic. They could be wrong. But if you’re going to assert that they are in fact wrong, you have a moral responsibility to approach the topic with high seriousness and an open mind. After all, if the scientists are right, you’ll be doing a great deal of damage.

But what we had, instead of high seriousness, was a farce: a supposedly crucial hearing stacked with people who had no business being there and instant ostracism for a climate skeptic who was actually willing to change his mind in the face of evidence. As I said, no surprise: as Upton Sinclair pointed out long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

But it’s terrifying to realize that this kind of cynical careerism — for that’s what it is — has probably ensured that we won’t do anything about climate change until catastrophe is already upon us.

So on second thought, I was wrong when I said that the joke was on the G.O.P.; actually, the joke is on the human race.

 

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Mann in Court http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6539 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6539#comments Fri, 08 Apr 2011 21:59:35 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6539 Courthouse News Service.  After the abuse that this internationally recognized scientist has received from the anti-science movement, this seems (if anything) a little overdue! VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A Pennsylvania State University professor claims climate-change denier Timothy Ball defamed him in an interview published by the Frontier [...]]]>
Here is something I came across recently in the  Courthouse News Service.  After the abuse that this internationally recognized scientist has received from the anti-science movement, this seems (if anything) a little overdue!
VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A Pennsylvania State University professor claims climate-change denier Timothy Ball defamed him in an interview published by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a Winnipeg-based think tank.

Michael Mann, a professor in Penn State’s meteorology department and director of the university’s Earth Systems Science Center, claims that Ball defamed him when he said that Mann “should be in the State Pen, not Penn State,” for his alleged role in the so-called climate gate email tussle.

Mann says that Ball and the Centre refused to issue an apology and published the words with the “purpose of harming the plaintiff and exposing him to hatred, ridicule and contempt, lowering the plaintiff in the estimation of others, and causing him to be shunned and avoided.”

It’s not the first time Ball’s been sued by a climate scientist for defamation.

In February, Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria sued Ball over an article published by the Canada Free Press, in which Ball allegedly accused Weaver of cherry-picking scientific data in his work with the UN’s intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Mann seeks punitive damages and wants the article removed from its electronic database. He is represented in B.C. Supreme Court by Roger McConchie.

 

 

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