Common Climate Misconceptions
Global temperatures have seemingly plateaued in the past 10 years. Those dubious about climate science or wary of the social implications of carbon regulations have seized on this point to argue that fears of global warming have been overblown.
However, a careful analysis of the data reveals that this decade has in fact been anomalously warm – the warmest in the history of recorded global temperatures by a fair margin – and the rate of warming is consistent with that over the prior few decades. The real question at hand is not whether warming is occurring, but rather whether the rate of warming is faster or slower than expected by climate scientists.
The e-mail blast bore all the signs of news, really big news, but the tell-tale all-caps “BREAKING” had the familiar breathlessness of just one more Marc Morano “news” flash.*
The back story here involves what blogger Morano called an “outpouring” of scientists’ complaints about a long-time Chemical & Engineering News
editor’s column. The offending column dealt with what most expert scientists recognize as the growing seriousness of climate change.
The G-8, eight Northern Hemisphere industrialized countries, last month produced its first firm target for curbing rising global temperatures: no more than 2 degrees Celsius, 3.6 Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels.
World headlines trumpeted the target. Long the maximum ceiling acceptable to many scientists and environmental advocates, “2 degrees” has now been semi-enshrined as the consensus “magic number” for avoiding dangerous climate change.
Leading NGOs as Seen Through Their Websites
Glance at the websites of major U.S.-based environmental NGOs and you’ll see a pattern. These bright and often busy websites frequently are stamped with a simple logo: a heron, an egret, a polar bear, or a leaf.
The contrast is instructive. These organizations founded in the ethics of 20th century conservation are trying to harness the power of 21st century media. The results are mixed.
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|Coauthors Mooney and Kirshenbaum at a Washington, D.C., bookstore event.
Scientific issues continue to play a larger and larger role in many important public policy issues. No news flash there.
Neither is it news that public understanding of science falls short, far short, of what many in the science and policy fields would like to see. New studies emerge practically monthly illustrating that the situation is getting worse, not better.
Important (?) Editor's Note
So, here’s the deal, and surely we digress:
We’re not going to spill a lot of ink here (spread a lot of bytes?) reporting on the snafu in which a D.C. Beltway public relations/advocacy firm forged letters to a Virginia congressman urging opposition to the recent House-passed Waxman-Markey bill.
It’s simply beneath us to grovel in this gruel (although it’s so danged unreal, and fun, that we retain the option to return to the subject later, perhaps even in a slow-news August moment).
One of the old-line, most vocal, and most influential voices on federal environmental matters may soon undergo changes generally associated with adolescents – a change in its voice. Or at least the impact its voice carries with Washington policymakers.
Whether that happens, and to what effect, may be an important back-story in coming months and years as domestic automakers, two of them only recently out of bankruptcy proceedings, define their new future in a changing Washington political environment … and in some cases have it redefined for them.