As I write I’m in London, in unseasonably warm weather (bar a cold snap over the weekend), nearly the end of November and there’s still green leaves on the trees.
The World Meteorological Organisation has now confirmed that 2010-2015 have been the hottest five year period in recorded history, and 2015 is shaping up to be the hottest ever. We’re heading into possibly the strongest El Niño ever recorded, with its full fury yet to really hit. Baton down the hatches people, it’s going to be a wild ride.
And it’s not just the weather that’s heating up. With just a few days until the Climate Summit begins in Paris, the meeting itself is now set to break a record, as negotiations will start on Sunday evening, an unprecedented move for a climate meeting.
The French Government is doing its best to avoid another Copenhagen, carefully placing the 130 World Leader event at the beginning of the summit, not the end, to avoid risking the “agree to anything and call it a groundbreaking deal” situation that happened in 2009. [now read on…]
It’s been a long time since a new post appeared at the top of Hot Topic’s front page. You might almost call it a hiatus — but like that other mythical pause it wasn’t brought about by any change in the underlying forcings. Climate change and the ever-increasing impacts of warming have not dropped out of the news, nor are they likely to as we approach the end of another record-breaking year for global temperatures. The denialati remain active, as one might expect, though I have tired of that particular game of whack-a-mole pending any upturn in the originality on display.
Nope. The truth is I’ve been busy tending trees and vines and catching up with work on our small farm, preparing for what looks all too likely to be a summer of drought. What passes for normal service will resume before Christmas — but in the meantime, keep an eye open for reports from the COP21 climate negotiations. HT’s roving correspondent Cindy Baxter will be on a bateau mouche beneath the bridges of Paris, keeping us up to date with events.
Meanwhile, consider this to be an invitation to discuss all matters climate related — an open thread, no less. Usual caveats apply.
Allow me to pose a question. Which fearless investigative reporter, magazine publisher and author could be bothered to attend a school showing of Thin Ice, the excellent climate documentary put together Simon Lamb and scientists from VUW and Oxford? And did he stand up at the end and make a fool of himself? Well, by his own admission he stood up and asked questions. Whether he made a fool of himself is another matter, but there’s some handy evidence we can look at…
Any New Zealand reader with a passing interest in climate issues will know that I’m talking about Ian Wishart, a writer with an extensive track record of misunderstanding climate science and a tendency to shout about it from the rooftops. Last week he published a “review” of Thin Ice at his Investigate Daily web site. It was also picked up at µWatts. In this “review” he provides all the evidence we need to decide on his expertise.
[now read on…]
Former ACT MP Muriel Newman — an extreme right-winger and no stranger to the wilder shores of climate denial — has waded into the debate about sea level rise and coastal hazards in Christchurch in a long-winded and unhelpful article at her NZ “Centre for Policy Research” web site. In many respects, her piece is par for the Hidebound course — full of misdirection, misrepresentation and schoolgirl errors of fact, motivated by a weird world view:
The reality is that unfortunately, carbon dioxide is being used as a political football. When radicals embraced the environmental movement in the seventies, driving out people like Dr Patrick Moore the founder of Greenpeace, they used the climate debate to conceal their real agenda – the global redistribution of wealth.
Newman takes as the text for her sermon a piece by Mike Kelly, a New Zealander who is a professor at the University of Cambridge in the UK. His offering is just as ill-informed as Newman’s — can it really be the case that a professor of technology, whose main expertise is in “advanced electronic devices for very high speed operation”, doesn’t understand the difference between weather forecasting and climate modelling? Perhaps Kelly should read a few introductory texts on climate modelling before pontificating so publicly — and so erroneously.
But what makes Newman and Kelly’s articles so unhelpful to coastal residents in Christchurch and elsewhere is not the parroting of climate denialist tropes, but the conclusion she reaches:
The Christchurch Council – and all other councils around New Zealand for that matter – should base their coastal hazard projections, on what has happened in the past. There is no perfect predictor of the future, but looking at what has actually happened in the past is better than seizing on unreliable models developed by those driving a political agenda.
Let’s do what Newman wants, and forget modelling future sea level rise. Let’s look at the past.
[now read on…]
Something for the weekend: US comedy team Girl Pants Productions with a commentary on denier arguments. John Cook will be particularly pleased with the condom consensus argument…
And a date for the diary of Wellingtonians: next Tuesday Steve Rintoul from CSIRO’s Oceans & Atmosphere Flagship and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart will be giving this year’s ST Lee Lecture on The Fate of the Antarctic Ice Sheet: Lessons from the Geological Past and How they are Informing Future Predictions at VUW. From the Royal Society alert:
This lecture will review recent progress in understanding the role of the Southern Ocean in the earth’s climate system, how the Southern Ocean is changing, and the consequences of those changes for climate, sea level and the future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Sounds fascinating. For more info, visit the lecture web page and get in touch today if you’d like to go along.
A quick heads up that the Royal Society of New Zealand’s panel discussion series on the theme of The Age Of Resilience starts tonight at the Auckland Museum at 6pm. French and NZ experts will consider the “economic conundrum” of transitioning to a low-carbon economy and at the same time deliver a “high and sustainable level of human well-being”. On the panel are Pierre Ducret (see the NZ Herald today), Dr Suzi Kerr, Professor Catherine Larrère and Fraser Whinerary. Kim Hill will be in the chair, and the evening is being recorded by Radio New Zealand for broadcast next month. More details at the RSNZ web site, and you can download a flyer here.
Two further sessions are being held in Wellington and Christchurch: in Wellington tomorrow night on Climate in-justice? and Christchurch next Tuesday on The Anthropocene Challenge. Details and flyers from the RSNZ here. An interesting series — and if you can’t make the live recordings, all three will be on Radio NZ National in September and October as part of the Talking Heads strand.