[Artwork by SHEPARD FAIREY]
HUFFINGTON POST: A few weeks ago, hackers broke into the emails of one of the Climate Research Unit of The University of East Anglia, and climate skeptics have been having a field day making mountains out of molehills about what the emails contain. The verdict on global warming is in — it’s caused by humans and it is happening and nothing in the emails challenges that. However, with the internet abuzz about what has been labeled “ClimateGate,” we thought we should set the record straight about the rumors, lies and insinuations about what the emails actually contain — and what they “prove” about climate change. “ClimateGate” itself is a misnomer. Perhaps the nickname should be “SwiftHack” for the way people with political agendas have “swiftboated” the global warming reality. As world attention turns to the climate conference in Copenhagen this December, this email hack acts as a distraction from the huge task at hand of getting world leaders to commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As professor Richard Somerville says, “We’re facing an effort by special interests who are trying to confuse the public.” MORE
RELATED: This is how it begins: Proponents of a fringe or non-mainstream scientific viewpoint seek added credibility. They’re sick of being taunted for having few (if any) peer reviewed publications in their favor. Fed up, they decide to do something about it. These “skeptics” find what they consider to be a weak point in the mainstream theory and critique it. Not by conducting original research; they simply review previous work. Then they find a little-known, not particularly influential journal where an editor sympathetic to their viewpoint hangs his hat.
They get their paper through the peer review process and into print. They publicize the hell out of it. Activists get excited by the study, which has considerable political implications. Before long, mainstream scientists catch on to what’s happening. They shake their heads. Some slam the article and the journal that published it, questioning the review process and the editor’s ideological leanings. In published critiques, they tear the paper to scientific shreds.
Embarrassed, the journal’s publisher backs away from the work. But it’s too late for that. The press has gotten involved, and though the work in question has been discredited in the world of science, partisans who favor its conclusions for ideological reasons will champion it for years to come. The scientific waters are muddied. The damage is done. MORE
BBC: A team of environmental researchers in the US has warned many effects of climate change are irreversible. The scientists concluded global temperatures could remain high for 1,000 years, even if carbon emissions can somehow be halted. Their report was sponsored by the US Department of Energy and comes as President Obama announces a review of vehicle emission standards. It appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
JAMES LOVELOCK: I think it’s wrong to assume we’ll survive 2 °C of warming: there are already too many people on Earth. At 4 °C we could not survive with even one-tenth of our current population. The reason is we would not find enough food, unless we synthesised it. Because of this, the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 percent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less. It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It’s happening again. I don’t think humans react fast enough or are clever enough to handle what’s coming up. Kyoto was 11 years ago. Virtually nothing’s been done except endless talk and meetings. MORE
NEW SCIENTIST: There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste – which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering – into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast…The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes of carbon yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won’t do it. MORE