A geoengineering flashforward

NASA’s James Hansen has few peers when it comes to the title of leading climatologist-turned-policy-wonk, but Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia (yes, that university) is giving him a run for his money. Hulme’s latest entry is a cautionary tale involving the challenges involved in geoengineering.

In Yale e360, Hulme argues that the technical obstacles to making the Earth’s climate do what we want aside, the politics of trying to change the radiative heat balance of the atmosphere are problematic in the extreme.
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The (not-so) Great Beeville Science Fair Hoax

There’s a small community of bloggers and activists who spent the weekend scratching their collective heads in hopes of figuring out what was behind a story that came out of a little place called Beeville, Texas. Last week word came from a local paper than a fourth-grader had won a “National Science Fair” prize by “Disproving Global Warming.”

The story immediately drew skeptical analysis, as there hasn’t been a “National Science Fair” for some time. More curious was the notion that a fourth-grader could manage to do what thousands of climatologists who make their living trying to find holes in each other’s research couldn’t.

Well, thanks to the diligence of “In it for the Gold’ blogger Michael Tobis, we are starting to get an idea what happened. As suspected the notion that Earth is not warming did not beat out “50,000 other projects submitted by students from all over the U.S.”

Believe it or not, it looks like someone faked a National Science Foundation letter, plaque, medal and trophy and sent them to the young student’s family, who then alerted the principal at their daughter’s school. The principal called the Beeville Bee-Picayune (yes, that’s the paper’s name), which assigned a rookie reporter to cover the news.

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Getting in on the ground floor of the U.S. Climate Service

Hard as it is for someone who isn’t familiar with intricacies of U.S. government-run climate science to believe, there is no climatology analog of the the immigration or revenue services, something responsible for overseeing the big picture. Sure, there’s NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, but that does a lot of things other than measure and model the climate. There’s NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, but it’s mostly a number-crunching lab, and not really set up to engage the public. That’s about to change, and the folks tasked with overseeing the creation of the new Climate Service are looking for advice.

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Same old same old in the denialsphere

ResearchBlogging.orgMuch has been written of late about the nature of denialism. New Scientist a couple of issues back produced a special report on the subject, for example, and the New Humanist explores the idea of “unreasonable doubt.”

There’s plenty more out there. The most provocative I’ve come across (thanks to Joss Garman via DeSmog Blog’s Brendan DeMelle) is a 2009 paper in the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics by Jeroen van Dongen of the Institute for History and Foundations of Science at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. His thesis is ideologically based denialism of science has a long pedigree, and he begins his paper with this quote from Albert Einstein:

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Matt Ridley and the Holocene Optimum

If the title of Matt Ridley’s new book, The Rational Optimist, sounds a little familiar, that’s because it borrows heavily from the world view of one Bjorn “The Skeptical Environmentalist” Lomborg. Both contrarians dismiss global warming as nothing to worry about, although Ridley seems even less convinced that the planet is actually experiencing anthropogenic global warming. I don’t have time to read it — but I did manage to take a look at the kind of thinking that Ridley uses at his blog.

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Back to the story of the hurricane

Today marks the official start of North Atlantic hurricane season. So…

One of the key differences between genuine climatology and anti-scientific denialism of anthropogenic climate change is the flexibility of the former and the stubbornness of the latter when it comes to our ever-evolving understanding of how the world works. The connection between hurricanes and climate is a perfect example.

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