Daily Archives: April 3, 2013

Climate Science Denier Leads House Science Subcommittee


By Rebecca Leber on Mar 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has named a climate science denier congressman as the new chairman of the subcommittee responsible for climate change issues. With Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) as subcommittee chair, House Science has no shortage of climate deniers making science their prime target.

Stewart uses familiar Republican tactics to argue against cutting our greenhouse gas pollution: He told Mother Jones he is unconvinced anthropogenic global warming is “based upon sound science” — despite 97 percent of climate scientists saying otherwise — “before we make any long-lasting policy decisions that could negatively affect our economy.”

Stewart also told The Salt Lake Tribune:

“I’m not as convinced as a lot of people are that man-made climate change is the threat they think it is. I think it is probably not as immediate as some people do.” […]

“What is the real threat? What are the economic impacts of those threats? And what are the economic impacts of those remedies?” he asked, explaining his approach. “Some of the remedies are more expensive to our economy than the threat may turn out to be.”

….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Has The Rate Of Sea Level Rise Tripled Since 2011?


By Climate Guest Blogger on Apr 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

You may recall a couple years ago the climate disinformers trumpeted the (very) short-term slowdown in sea level rise. We can hardly wait for their posts on the recent speed up — JR.

Figure 1: Mean sea level (in centimetres) since 1993 obtained by satellite altimetry observations. Annual and semi-annual signals have been removed to reveal the long-term trend. The glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) of 0.3mm per year is added to account for the slumping of ocean basins. Image from the AVISO website.

By Rob Painting, via Skeptical Science

The Earth is warming which is driving the ongoing thermal expansion of sea water and the melt of land-based ice. Both processes are raising sea level, but superimposed upon this long-term sea level rise are what scientists at NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) have coined, “potholes and speed bumps on the road to higher seas“. (See their follow-up paper – The 2011 La Niña: So strong, the oceans fell, Boening 2012).

Since mid-2011 a giant “speed bump” has been encountered. In roughly the last two years the global oceans have risen approximately 20 millimetres (mm), or 10 mm per year. This is over three times the rate of sea level rise during the time of satellite-based observations (currently 3.18 mm per year), from 1993 to the present.

So does this mean land-based ice is undergoing a remarkably abrupt period of disintegration? While possible, it’s probably not the reason for the giant speed bump.

Pot Holes and Speed Bumps
The largest contributor to the year-to-year (short-term) fluctuation in sea level is the temporary exchange of water mass between the land and ocean. This land-ocean exchange of water is coupled to the natural Pacific Ocean phenomenon called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) – which affects weather on a global scale. (See Ngo-Duc 2005, Nerem 2010, Llovel 2011, Cazenave 2012 & Boening 2012 – linked to above):

Figure 2 – Global sea level with the long-term rise (trend) removed. Sea level (blue line), compared to the Multivariate ENSO Index (a measure of the state and scale of ENSO) in red. Negative values represent the La Niña (cold) phase, and positive values the El Niño (warm) phase. Image adapted from the University of Colorado (CU) Sea Level Research Group.

The ocean, through strong evaporation in the tropics, is the source of the water that is being exchanged. Each occurrence of ENSO has its own unique set of characteristics, but La Niña is typically (although not always) associated with greater-than-normal rainfall and snow over land, and a consequent sharp, but temporary, fall in global sea level (pot holes) as the continents soak up the extra water. With El Niño we often see greater-than-normal rainfall and snow concentrated over the oceans. Combined with the drainage of water back into the oceans, this causes an abrupt, but temporary, rise in sea level (speed bumps)……(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

More Sandy-Style Superstorms Likely Headed For Europe, Thanks To Global Warming


By Jeff Spross on Apr 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Waves hit the sea wall in Wimereux, France. (Photo: Reuters)

According to new climate modeling carried out at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, global warming likely means Europe will see more Sandy-style superstorms by the end of this century.

The team ran a simulation from 2094 to 2098, building in future greenhouse gas emissions, and found that the yearly arrival of hurricanes in the Bay of Biscay — which sits on the east coast between Spain and France — would increase from one to six. Researcher Reindert Haarsma put the number as high as thirteen by the end of the century. Many of the storms will likely also feature the same hybrid make-up of Hurricane Sandy: a core of warm, moist tropical air forming a hurricane-force core, with drier and colder air wrapping around the exterior and driving gale-force winds hundreds of miles further out.

Currently, hurricane formation in the tropics usually occurs far enough west that most storms hit North America. A rare number are caught by the Atlantic jet stream and pulled into Europe. But global warming will increase those instances by expanding the area of tropical ocean over which hurricanes form:

The rise in Atlantic tropical [sea surface
temperatures] extends eastwards the breeding ground of tropical cyclones, yielding more frequent and intense hurricanes following pathways directed towards Europe.
En route they transform into extra-tropical depressions and re-intensify after merging with the mid-latitude baroclinic unstable flow. Our model simulations clearly show that future tropical cyclones are more prone to hit Western Europe, and do so earlier in the season, thereby increasing the frequency and impact of hurricane force winds.

….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Giant Swarm of Mormon Crickets

E120, e130,

Budget Cuts Hit US Foreign Aid Programs

E120, e145, e130,

Grow Some Spine – Chris Hedges

E120, e145,

Bob Doppelt: Sustainability and Resilience Require A Shift “From Me to We”

E120, e130, e145.

The Surge In African Elephant Slaughter

March 20, 2013 at 11:00 AM
The kill-off of elephants is getting worse. Humans are wiping them off the face of the earth, and scientists say the elephants know it.

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, elephants run towards water to drink and bathe at the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (AP)

Elephants appear to be not just grand but wise. Smart. Knowing. And right now they appear to know what the world is just not getting, despite all the bloody evidence: the elephants of Africa are being slaughtered on an epic scale.

A huge new study finds sixty-two percent vanished from the forests of Central Africa in the last decade. New industrial-strength poaching. Heavily-armed gangs mowing down and butchering these great, iconic, intelligent creatures for tusks and trinkets on an epic scale.

This hour, On Point: elephant genocide, and maybe – in our time – the end of elephants.

-Tom Ashbrook


Samantha Strindberg, biostatistician for the Wildlife Conservation Society and one of the co-authors of the newly-released study “Devastating Decline of Forest Elephants in Central Africa” in the online peer-reviewed journal PLOS One.

Bryan Christy, contributing writer for National Geographic. He spent more than two years investigating the international ivory trade and the surge in poaching, and his story “Blood Ivory” appeared in the October issue of National Geographic. (@bryanchristy)

Richard Ruggiero, chief of the Near East, South Asia, and Africa Branch in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of International Conservation.

Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Divest Harvard


To The Community:
We call upon Harvard to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded companies that own the majority of carbon reserves and reinvest in socially responsible funds.

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Divest “Harvard Crimson” Student

Chomsky: The Cruelty That Keeps Empires Alive

AlterNet / By Noam Chomsky

Like many other oppressive countries, Israel’s chief tools of control are through humiliation, degradation and terror.

April 2, 2013 |Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from the Edward W. Said lecture given by Noam Chomsky in London on March 18, 2013.

The Swedish novelist Henning Mankell tells of an experience in Mozambique during the civil war horrors there 25 years ago, when he saw a young man walking toward him in ragged clothes.

“I noticed something that I will never forget for as long as I live,” Mankell says. “I looked at his feet. He had no shoes. Instead he had painted shoes on his feet. He had used the colors in the ground and in the roots to replace his shoes. He had come up with a way to keep his dignity.”

Such scenes will evoke poignant memories among those who have witnessed cruelty and degradation, which are everywhere. One striking case, though only one of a great many, is Gaza, which I was able to visit for the first time last October.

There violence is met by the steady resistance of the “samidin” – those who endure, to borrow Raja Shehadeh’s evocative term in “The Third Way,” his memoir on Palestinians under occupation, 30 years ago…..(read more).

For lecture see:  http://wp.me/p2iDSG-2Gj
and for Q&A see: http://wp.me/p2iDSG-2Gk

Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120