Is global warming/climate change a problem? Get the facts

March 15, 2011

Want solid information on climate change (global warming) and the problems it poses?

Several opportunities present themselves, from the National Academies of Science, America’s premiere science advisory group:

America’s Climate Choices Final Report in Review

The final report of the America’s Climate Choices suite of studies is in the final stages of peer review and will be released this Spring.  An official release date will be announced as soon as possible.  The report is authored by the Committee on America’s Climate Choices, which was responsible for providing overall direction, coordination, and integration of the America’s Climate Choices activities.

Related Activities at The National Academies

warming_world_cover
Warming World, a publication from the National Academies of Science

“Warming World: Impacts by Degree” Explains Findings of NRC Report

Emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch, beginning to be called the Anthropocene, during which human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth’s climate. That’s one of the main conclusions from Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia (NRC, 2011) an expert consensus report released last July and published this year.  Now a new 36-page booklet based on the report, “Warming World: Impacts by Degree” is available to help policymakers, students, and the general public better understand the report’s important conclusions.

The report concludes that, because carbon dioxide is so long-lived in the atmosphere, increases in this gas can effectively lock the Earth and many future generations in a range of impacts, some of which could be severe. Therefore, emission reduction choices made today matter in determining impacts that will be experienced not just over the next few decades, but also into the coming centuries and millennia.  Policy choices can be informed by recent advances in climate science that show the relationships among increasing carbon dioxide, global warming, related physical changes, and resulting impacts. The report identifies (and quantifies when possible) expected impacts per degree of warming, including those on streamflow, wildfires, crop productivity, the frequency of very hot summers, and sea-level rise and its associated risks and vulnerabilities.

Order free copies of the booklet at http://dels.nas.edu/materials/booklets/warming-world.


Report Sets Research Agenda to Study Earth’s Past Climate

Without a reduction in emissions, by the end of this century atmospheric carbon dioxide could reach levels that Earth has not experienced for more than 30 million years. Critical insights into how Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and ecosystems would function in this high carbon dioxide environment are contained in the records of Earth’s geological past, concludes Understanding Earth’s Deep Past: Lessons for Our Climate Future, a National Research Council report from the Board on Earth Sciences that was released on March 1, 2011.

“Ancient rocks and sediments hold the only records of major, and at times rapid, transitions across climate states and offer the potential for a much better understanding of the long-term impact of climate change,” said Isabel Montañez, chair of the committee that wrote the report and a professor in the department of geology at the University of California, Davis. The research could also yield information on the tipping points for climate change–the threshold of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere at which abrupt climate change will occur.

The report sets out a research agenda for an improved understanding of Earth system processes during the transition to a warmer world. High-priority research initiatives include gaining a better understanding of the sensitivity of climate to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, the amount of sea-level rise as the ice sheets melt, and the resilience of ecosystems to climate change.


Webinar on Transportation and Climate Change

On Thursday, March 24 from 2:00-3:00 p.m., the National Academies Transportation Research Board will host the first of a 2-part webinar series that looks the threats of climate change to transportation facilities and operations and at resources for adapting. The cost of the webinar is $109 (the webinars are free to employees of TRB sponsors). To sign up and/or to learn more, please visit http://www.trb.org/ElectronicSessions/Blurbs/164935.aspx.

Also, you can always check out the website for the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC), a joint project of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council.


National Academies report, “America’s Climate Choices” – coming May 19, with webcast

May 14, 2010

I get e-mail from the good press people at the National Academies (of Science, Engineering, and Medicine):

America’s Climate Choices Reports to be Released May 19 at a Public Briefing

On May 19th, three reports in the America’s Climate Choices suite of studies will be released at a public briefing that begins at 10 a.m. EDT in the Lecture Room of the National Academy of Sciences building, 2100 C St., N.W., Washington. The reports are: Advancing the Science of Climate Change, which focuses on the scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change and future research needs; Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change, which assesses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and taking other actions to reduce the magnitude of climate change; and Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change, which focuses on options to improving the nation’s capacity to adapt to climate change impacts.

Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, will deliver opening remarks, and members of the panels that authored the reports will discuss the reports findings and take questions.

America’s Climate Choices also includes two additional reports that will be released later this year: Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change will examine how best to provide decision makers with information on climate change, and an overarching report that looks across the topics of the four panel reports to offer an integrated view of the challenges and opportunities in the nation’s efforts to confront climate change.

The public is invited to the briefing and should RSVP to attend at  americasclimatechoices.org. Those who cannot attend may watch a live video webcast and submit questions at http://www.national-academies.org.

This address works better for giving your RSVP to attend.  A fourth report pends:

Still upcoming is the fourth and final panel report, Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change.


NAS evolution book too technical?

January 20, 2008

Joe Lapp, from Austin, Texas, posted this review on Amazon.com of the National Academy of Science’s book Science, Evolution and Creationism. It’s worth reading, and repeating. Despite Joe’s criticism, the book is well worth your time to read; if you know about the example Joe uses, you’re ahead of the game.

Cover of NAS book, Science, Evolution and Creationism

Beneath the fold.

In addition to Amazon, the book is available for free download at the National Academy of Science’s site. It’s a great backgrounder for anyone interested in learning “what scientists say” about evolution and creationism, from our nation’s oldest and most trusted society of science advisors (Lincoln called on NAS for advice, and wise policy makers still do).

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Fisking “Junk Science’s” campaign for DDT: Point #6

August 9, 2007

Another in a continuing series, showing the errors in JunkScience.com’s list of “100 things you should know about DDT.” (No, these are not in order.)

Steven Milloy and the ghost of entomologist J. Gordon Edwards listed this as point six in their list of “100 things you should know about DDT “[did Edwards really have anything to do with the list before he died?]:

6. “To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT… In little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that otherwise would have been inevitable.”

[National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Research in the Life Sciences of the Committee on Science and Public Policy. 1970. The Life Sciences; Recent Progress and Application to Human Affairs; The World of Biological Research; Requirements for the Future.]

In contrast to their citation for the Sweeney hearing record, which leads one away from the actual hearing record, for this citation, the publication actually exists, though it is no longer available in print. It’s available on-line, in an easily searchable format. [I urge you to check these sources out for yourself; I won’t jive you, but you should see for yourself how the critics of Rachel Carson and WHO distort the data — I think you’ll be concerned, if not outraged.] The quote, though troubled by the tell-tale ellipses of the science liar, is accurately stated so far as it goes.

The problems? It’s only part of the story as told in that publication.  The National Academy of Science calls for DDT to be replaced in that book; NAS is NOT calling for a rollback of any ban, nor is NAS defending DDT against the claims of harm.  The book documents and agrees with the harms Rachel Carson wrote about eight years earlier.

Cover of the electronic version of Life Sciences, the 1970 book looking to future needs in biology and agriculture.

Cover of the electronic version of Life Sciences, the 1970 book looking to future needs in biology and agriculture.

Milloy (and Edwards, he claims), are trying to make a case that the National Academy of Sciences, one of the more reputable and authoritative groups of distinguished scientists in the world, thinks that DDT is just dandy, in contrast to the views of Rachel Carson and environmentalists (who are always cast as stupid and venal in Milloy’s accounts) who asked that DDT use be reduced to save eagles, robins and other songbirds, fish, and other wildlife, and to keep DDT useful against malaria.

First, there is no way that a ban on DDT could have been responsible for 500 million deaths due to malaria.  Calculate it yourself, the mathematics are simply impossible: At about 1 million deaths per year, if we assume DDT could have prevented all of the deaths (which is not so), and had we assumed usage started in 1939 instead of 1946 (a spot of 7 years and 7 million deaths), we would have 69 million deaths prevented by 2008. As best I can determine, the 500 million death figure is a misreading from an early WHO report that noted about 500 million people are annually exposed to malaria, I’m guessing a bit at that conclusion — that’s the nicest way to attribute it to simple error and not malicious lie. It was 500 million exposures to malaria, not 500 million deaths. It’s unfortunate that this erroneous figure found its way into a publication of the NAS — I suppose it’s the proof that anyone can err.

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