General Science and Climate Change

SOCAN Science Summaries developed by SOCAN Scientists

Ocean Acidification, Climate Change’s Equally Evil Twin; Bill Gorham

The most commonly cited and largest volume of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) is carbon dioxide (CO2). Its capacity for retaining heat radiating from the planet back into space resulting in the greenhouse effect is well known and has allowed the earth to have a stable average temperature suitable for the development of civilization. Less widely known is the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 on our oceans. While approximately 93% of the heat trapped by GHGs since the 1850’s has been absorbed into the oceans limiting the warming of the atmosphere, it has resulted in marine heatwaves.  Yet, that’s only half of the impact of GHGs to the oceans. Roughly 30% of that extra CO2 that has been released into the atmosphere has dissolved into the oceans resulting in more acidic ocean water. That increase in acidity is already impacting marine life and has the potential to substantially increase the negative effects in the future substantially impacting humanity as well. For a more complete discussion of this consequence of Carbon dioxide emissions visit Ocean Acidification.

The Climate Science Consensus in brief; Alan Journet

Unlike the cadre of skeptics who have a wide array of views on what is happening to our climate (if anything) and whether it is harmful or beneficial, the consensus among climate scientists is quite clear. The Twelve Step Climate Consensus identifies the key elements of this consensus with a brief on the implications for natural systems. This could be used not only to challenge skeptics to identify with exactly what element in the consensus they find disagreement, but can also be used as a refresher of the basics of climate science. The Basics of Global Warming – Notes on the Twelve Step Consensus summary (until copyright issues are resolved, this is only available from Alan Journet) offers an expanded discussion of these twelve steps.

The Carbon Mistake; Alan Journet

Discussions of how we should address the global warming – climate change problem mistakenly focus of carbon emissions or carbon pricing as though carbon is the problem rather than greenhouse gases.  Although our focus should be on greenhouse gas emissions, there are times when it is appropriate to refer to carbon.  In The Carbon Mistake, this distinction is clarified.

The Cap versus Tax/Fee approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions; Alan Journet

The two main approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions are the cap and the tax or fee approach. Although the discussion often implies that there are just two approaches – the cap,trade, invest approach and the fee and dividend approach, these confuse two questions: (1) how do we reduce emissions, and (2) what do we do with the funds if the mechanism involves pricing emissions which generates revenue. In this discussion of the Cap versus the Tax/Fee Approach to limiting Greenhouse Gas emissions the distinctions between cap and tax/fee are discussed, along with the options for dealing with funds raised.

Where’s the Forest Carbon?; Alan Journet

A discussion of the distribution of carbon among and within forest ecosystems.   While Tropical forests have been identified often as the major repositories of carbon, this isn’t the case.  To explore the conundrum, visit  Where’s the forest carbon?

Science and Proof; Alan Journet

It is often argued that we should not accept scientific recommendations on an issue because some ’cause and effect’ relationship has not been ‘proven.’ This demand  illustrates a failure to understand how science works. ‘Proof,’ if we mean certainty, does not exist in science. Certainty is not what science offers. This discussion explains why proof (certainty) does not exist in science.

The Natural Gas Conundrum; Alan Journet

Fossil (Natural) gas is claimed by proponents to be ‘the clean fossil fuel. Years ago, this could have passed muster, but no longer. For a discussion of this issue, visit Fossil (Natural) Gas: A Bridge to Nowhere.

What’s Up with RNG (Renewable Natural Gas); Alan Journet

Having spent years trying to convince us that Fossil Gas is ‘the Clean Fossil Fuel’ by ignoring the fugitive emissions of methane throughout the gas life cycle, gas companies are now promoting what they have dubbed Renewable Natural Gas (RNG).  But, is it really the panacea they claim? Visit RNG.

Leading Climate Scientists Blog

RealClimate –  a blog written by leading climate scientists addresses scientific issues.

Tools to Track Trends

U.S. Geological Survey Climate Change Viewer  – An interactive website that allows the visitor to obtain climate change trends and projections of major climate indicators for counties in the contiguous United States. (This is a great site, but doesn’t work because Adobe Flashplayer is no longer available. They are updating it so it functions again.) In the meantime, try NOAA Climate Explorer

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) Climate at a Glance tracker allows a search for historic trends in major climate patterns for locations within the United States from national down to states, counties, and individual cities where data are collected.

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication – Offers information on the Six Americas, describing and depicting how U.S. opinion has shifted regarding the six categories or opinion revealed by their studies: Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged, Doubtful, Dismissive. There are also tips on how to discuss issues with folks in these categories.

Capitalism

This Changes Everything:  Capitalism Vs the Climate, by Naomi Klein, Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 2014. If Global Warming is a world wide wake up call we are all heavy sleepers we haven’t made significant progress, Klein argues, because we have been expecting solutions from the very same institutions that created the problem in the first place. Klein’s sharp analysis makes a compelling case that a mass awakening is part of the answer.  (Chicago Tribune comment)

Geoengineering

Geoengineering often arises in discussions about climate change. This is a confusing arena with some elements that are pure nonsense, some which are obvious and promising, and yet others which raise great concern. For a brief introduction to the subject, try Geoengineering