Tomorrow night, February 5, at the St. Louis Zoo, three scientists will be giving a talk on the Science Behind Climate Change. The talk is free. Hope to see you there!
According to this article, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson “acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt.” Quoting him, the article said “We'll adapt. It's an engineering problem and there will be an engineering solution.” It's good that he's acknowledged his industry's contribution to the problem, but unfortunate that he's not willing to do something meaningful about it. A Patch commenter paraphrased his remarks as: “Sure we're doing it, deal with it, we have a profit to make.” Did Tillerson never learn that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?
An AP article published in the Post-Dispatch reports that predictions regarding the climate, made years ago, have come true. Here are some examples:
Record melting of the ice in the Arctic Ocean. U.S. cities baking at 95 degrees or hotter. Widespread drought. Flooding. Storm surge inundating swaths of New York City...All of that was predicted years ago by climate scientists and all of that happened in 2012.
In 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen, sometimes called the godfather of global warming science, ran computer models that predicted the decade of the 2010s would see many more 95-degree or hotter days and much fewer subfreezing days. This year made Hansen's predictions seemed like underestimates. For example, he predicted that in the 2010s Memphis would have on average 26 days of more than 95 degrees. This year there were 47.
Scientists – both those studying global warming and those studying hurricanes – have warned for more than a decade about a hurricane with big storm surge hitting New York City and flooding the subways. That happened with [Superstorm] Sandy.
For decades, scientists have predicted extensive droughts from global warming. This year, the drought of 2012 was so extensive that nearly 2,300 counties – in almost every state – were declared agriculture disasters. At one point this summer more than 65 percent of the Lower 48 was suffering from drought.
But still there are those who deny it's happening and our responsibility for it. This led the Climate Reality Project to create a website, RealityDrop.org, that lists and counters with science, the common arguments deniers use. Particularly illuminating is SkepticalScience's (another science-based site) description of what motivates skeptics, which is quoted by RealityDrop:
The vast majority of vocal skeptics are not engaged in climate research. The common bond uniting them, observers note, is an ideological belief system: Government regulation is bad, so problems that may require regulation must be resisted. From there, they search for ways to cast doubt on the science. Unlike Galileo and modern scientists, they do not change their view when presented with new evidence, because their position derives not from open-ended scientific inquiry, but from strongly-held ideological convictions.
What's being described is epistemic closure.
Journalist Bill Moyers has had two recent interviews with experts, and I recommend them. One was with Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, and the other, was with photographer James Balog, whose soon-to-be-released film, Chasing Ice, is an account of climate change in action.