The Herald sends good sense on holiday

The silly season is obviously taking a toll on editorial judgement at the Herald. Yesterday they ran an astonishing column by Malcolm McPhee – Climate of fear starting to make my temperature rise – which is breathtakingly nonsensical, and also provided space for Jim Hopkins to take a (ritual for him, tired and boring for the rest of us) swipe at climate science in his column. Today, Fran O’Sullivan includes amongst her top ten stories for 2008 – at number three, no less – climate change science consensus breaks – basing her judgement on a list of 400 “scientists” issued by a Republican Senator and his team of tame climate deniers. McPhee and O’Sullivan deserve debunking (see below), but Hopkins’ taste in eyewear is so atrocious ( 😉 ) that I’ll take pity on him and leave him alone (for now).

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May all your (northern hemisphere, high latitude) Christmases be white (if we’re lucky)

Hot Topic is about to over-indulge. In a few hours, I will be elbow deep in a raw turkey, inserting stuffing. It will take hours to cook and minutes to eat, and then we’ll fall asleep in the sun and in the evening complain about sunburn and dehydration. In other words, climate matters will be (with luck) far from my mind. There will be peripatetic blogging over the holidays, but don’t expect too much. Thanks to all the regular readers for showing up diligently, and may all your Christmases be white (if appropriate to your circumstances).

Bali ha’i, Bali low?

The Bali conference ended with a cliffhanger, but as I was cocooned in a kayak paddling up the coast of the Abel Tasman it passed me by like a fur seal in the night. I did notice a fishy smell, but I don’t think it emanated from Nusa Dua. The big news, of course, was the US climbdown at the last minute, memorably blogged by David Sassoon at Solve Climate. He extensively quotes an eye witness account by Peter Riggs, Director of the Forum on Democracy and Trade:

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Bali roundup coming

But first… Viscount Monckton celebrates a successful conference.

The canary croaked

From AP (via CNN): “The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming,” said Zwally, who as a teenager hauled coal. “Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.” The annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco is bringing bad news about the Arctic – most of it listed in the foregoing linked article. One paragraph is particularly shocking:

Still to be released is NASA data showing the remaining Arctic sea ice to be unusually thin, another record. That makes it more likely to melt in future summers. Combining the shrinking area covered by sea ice with the new thinness of the remaining ice, scientists calculate that the overall volume of ice is half of 2004’s total.

In three years, half of the summer ice has gone. In Hot Topic I suggest that it might all be gone in my lifetime – and I thought I was being pretty daring, given that the IPCC talks about the end of the century. One ice modeller who has been predicting an early demise for the summer sea ice is the US Navy’s Wieslaw Maslowski. From the BBC:

“Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,” the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC. “So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.”

RealClimate is providing coverage of AGU highlights (here, here, here and (update – sea ice specific) here. The Herald runs with a very US-angled Reuters story. As I’ve pointed out before, the consequences of the loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic for northern hemisphere climate is not known, but I would expect that there’s some urgent work being done to find out. We’re into the land of the unknown unknowns, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.