Category Archives: Climate Change

99.999% certainty humans are driving global warming: new study

from The Conversation


A new study finds overwhelming odds that humans have contributed to higher global temperatures – so how much are we willing to gamble that it’s wrong? Kraevski Vitaly/Shutterstock

There is less than 1 chance in 100,000 that global average temperature over the past 60 years would have been as high without human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, our new research shows.

Published in the journal Climate Risk Management today, our research is the first to quantify the probability of historical changes in global temperatures and examines the links to greenhouse gas emissions using rigorous statistical techniques.

Our new CSIRO work provides an objective assessment linking global temperature increases to human activity, which points to a close to certain probability exceeding 99.999%.

Our work extends existing approaches undertaken internationally to detect climate change and attribute it to human or natural causes. The 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report provided an expert consensus that:

It is extremely likely [defined as 95-100% certainty] that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic [human-caused] increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.

Decades of extraordinary temperatures

July 2014 was the 353rd consecutive month in which global land and ocean average surface temperature exceeded the 20th-century monthly average. The last time the global average surface temperature fell below that 20th-century monthly average was in February 1985, as reported by the US-based National Climate Data Center.

This means that anyone born after February 1985 has not lived a single month where the global temperature was below the long-term average for that month.

We developed a statistical model that related global temperature to various well-known drivers of temperature variation, including El Niño, solar radiation, volcanic aerosols and greenhouse gas concentrations. We tested it to make sure it worked on the historical record and then re-ran it with and without the human influence of greenhouse gas emissions.

Our analysis showed that the probability of getting the same run of warmer-than-average months without the human influence was less than 1 chance in 100,000.

We do not use physical models of Earth’s climate, but observational data and rigorous statistical analysis, which has the advantage that it provides independent validation of the results.

Detecting and measuring human influence

Our research team also explored the chance of relatively short periods of declining global temperature. We found that rather than being an indicator that global warming is not occurring, the observed number of cooling periods in the past 60 years strongly reinforces the case for human influence.

We identified periods of declining temperature by using a moving 10-year window (1950 to 1959, 1951 to 1960, 1952 to 1961, etc.) through the entire 60-year record. We identified 11 such short time periods where global temperatures declined.

Our analysis showed that in the absence of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, there would have been more than twice as many periods of short-term cooling than are found in the observed data.

There was less than 1 chance in 100,000 of observing 11 or fewer such events without the effects of human greenhouse gas emissions.

CSIRO scientists Dr Steve Rintoul, Dr John Church and Dr Pep Canadell explain how and why the Earth’s climate is warming.

The problem and the solution

Why is this research important? For a start, it might help put to rest some common misunderstandings about there being no link between human activity and the observed, long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.

Our analysis – as well as the work of many others – shows beyond reasonable doubt that humans are contributing to significant changes in our climate.

Good risk management is all about identifying the most likely causes of a problem, and then acting to reduce those risks. Some of the projected impacts of climate change can be avoided, reduced or delayed by effective reduction in global net greenhouse gas emissions and by effective adaptation to the changing climate.

Ignoring the problem is no longer an option. If we are thinking about action to respond to climate change or doing nothing, with a probability exceeding 99.999% that the warming we are seeing is human-induced, we certainly shouldn’t be taking the chance of doing nothing.





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The BOM and data manipulation

All the right-wing nut jobs, unable to produce primary scientific data that disproves anthropogenic climate change and global warming, tend to resort to the time-honored but completely dishonorable tradition of attacking the messenger. The usual suspects have been attacking the Bureau of Meteorology because they don’t like the message that the globe is warming and humans are to blame. The BOM, faced with data that has discontinuities due to instrument changes, location changes and encroachment by urbanisation has had to homogenise their data to remove any factors in the temperature series that aren’t either natural or caused by anthropogenic climate change. Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Of course the idiots out there hear about it and automatically assume the BOM scientists are deliberately fudging data to “tell the global warming story”. I can only assume that none of those idiots have even a basic understanding of statistics, because if they did, they would surely leap at the chance to have their statistical take downs published in scientific journals and bathe in the glory of their statistical brilliance made legitimate?

From the Conversation

No, the Bureau of Meteorology is not fiddling its weather data

Australia’s weather records need careful analysis to correct any introduced errors. Photographic Collection from Australia/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Over the past week or so, the Bureau of Meteorology has stood accused of fudging its temperature data records to emphasise warming, in a series of articles in The Australian. The accusation hinges on the method that the Bureau uses to remove non-climate-related changes in its weather station data, referred to as “data homogenisation”.

If true, this would be very serious because these data sets underpin major climate research projects, including deducing how much Australia is warming. But it’s not true.

Crunching the numbers

Data homogenisation techniques are used to varying degrees by many national weather agencies and climate researchers around the world. Although the World Meteorological Organization has guidelines for data homogenisation, the methods used vary from country to country, and in some cases no data homogenisation is applied.

Homogenisation can be necessary for a range of reasons: sometimes stations move, instruments or reporting practices change, or surrounding trees or buildings at a site are altered. Changes can be sudden or gradual. These can all introduce artificial “jumps” (in either direction) in the resulting temperature records. If left uncorrected, these artifacts could leave the data appearing to show spurious warming or cooling trends.

There are many methods that can be used to detect these “inhomogeneities”, and there are other methods (although much harder to implement) that can adjust the data to make sure it is consistent through time. The Bureau uses such a technique to create its Australian Climate Observations Reference Network – Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) data set. These data are then used to monitor climate variability and change in Australia, to provide input for the State of the Climate reports, and for other purposes too.

In a statement about its climate records, the Bureau said:

The Bureau measures temperature at nearly 800 sites across Australia, chiefly for the purpose of weather forecasting. The ACORN-SAT is a subset of this network comprising 112 locations that are used for climate analysis. The ACORN-SAT stations have been chosen to maximise both length of record and network coverage across the continent. For several years, all of this data has been made publicly available on the Bureau’s web site.

Complex methods

Australia has played a leading role in developing this type of complex data-adjustment technique. In 2010, the Bureau’s Blair Trewin wrote a comprehensive article on the types of inhomogeneities that are found in land temperature records. As a result the International Surface Temperature Initiative (ISTI) has set up a working group to compare homogenisation methods.

Some of our own research at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science has tried, with the help of international colleagues, to assess the impacts that different choices can make when using these different homogenisation methods. Much of our work focuses on temperature extremes. We have studied the impacts on large-scale extreme temperature data of changing station networks, different statistical techniques, homogenised versus non-homogenised data, and other uncertainties that might arise.

Our data on extreme temperature trends show that the warming trend across the whole of Australia looks bigger when you don’t homogenise the data than when you do. For example, the adjusted data set (the lower image below) shows a cooling trend over parts of northwest Australia, which isn’t seen in the raw data.

Trends in the frequency of hot days over Australia – unadjusted data using all temperature stations that have at least 40 years of record available for Australia from the GHCN-Daily data set.

Click to enlarge
Trends in the frequency of hot days over Australia – adjusted ACORN-SAT data. The period of trend covers 1951-2010 when both datasets have overlapping data. All data used in figures are available from

Click to enlarge

High-quality data

Far from being a fudge to make warming look more severe than it is, most of the Bureau’s data manipulation has in fact had the effect of reducing the apparent extreme temperature trends across Australia. Cherrypicking weather stations where data have been corrected in a warming direction doesn’t mean the overall picture is wrong.

Data homogenisation is not aimed at producing a predetermined outcome, but rather is an essential process in improving weather data by spotting where temperature records need to be corrected, in either direction. If the Bureau didn’t do it, then we and our fellow climatologists wouldn’t use its data because it would be misleading. What we need are data from which spurious warming or cooling trends have been removed, so that we can see the actual trends.

Marshalling all of the data from the Bureau’s weather stations can be a complicated process, which is why it has been subjected to international peer-review. The Bureau has provided the details of how it is done, despite facing accusations that it has not been open enough.

Valid critiques of data homogenisation techniques are most welcome. But as in all areas of science, from medicine to astronomy, there is only one place that criticisms can legitimately be made. Anyone who thinks they have found fault with the Bureau’s methods should document them thoroughly and reproducibly in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. This allows others to test, evaluate, find errors or produce new methods.

This process has been the basis of all scientific advances in the past couple of centuries and has led to profoundly important advances in knowledge. Abandoning peer-reviewed journals in favour of newspaper articles when adjudicating on scientific methods would be profoundly misguided.


Original article here

UPDATE: Today the Conversation expanded on the BOM and data article, by giving advice on how to do your own simple calculations to track temperature changes over time using raw unadjusted data. So it shouldn’t be long before these wannabe right right-wing nut jobs start doing their own analyses and bombarding journals with their fantastic findings that show AGW isn’t happening and that its all a giant conspiracy implemented by the Jewish Bankers to bring in socialism masquerading as environmentalism so when the lizard people want to fake another moon landing they will be better able to control the masses with their global chemtrail program.




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The cost of man-made disasters

About once a week or so, I receive an email from random people/businesses wanting me to post something they think is relevant to my blog. More often than not they just want to generate traffic and/or get a bit of free advertising. So far, I am yet to post anything because I don’t wish to be used in that way and don’t wish to promote private businesses, that I know nothing about. Today I am making an exception because the infographic I was sent does two things.

First it highlights just how stupid we humans are in terms of how we treat our home. It shows oil spills, nuclear disasters, the great plastic garbage patch in the Pacific and a few others and it puts a price tag on them.

The second thing it does, is it fails to mention the cost of anthropogenic climate change, and I thought that was interesting, because the annual cost of that is orders of magnitude greater than the one-off costs of the disasters it lists. More on that in a moment.

Here is the infographic. Note: In no way do I endorse the educational courses this mob are promoting. I don’t know enough about them, if the courses are legitimate or value for money or whatever. I just like the picture.


Chernobyl is listed here as the most expensive man-made disaster at $235 Billion. I don’t know if that figure is a direct cost or if ongoing opportunity costs are factored in and I’m not going to bother checking, because it pales into insignificance against the cost of anthropogenic climate change.

In September, 2012 a large study, entitled Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet was published by the Europe based DARA group and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. Commissioned by 20 governments, it was written by more than 50 scientists, economists and policy experts. From the executive summary…

Climate change caused economic losses estimated close to 1% of global GDP for the year 2010, or 700 billion dollars (2010 PPP). The carbon-intensive economy cost the world another 0.7% of GDP in that year, independent of any climate change losses. Together,  carbon economy- and climate change-related losses amounted to over 1.2 trillion dollars in 2010.
The cost figure of 1.7% of global GDP is expected to rise to 3.2% annually by 2030. That’s a lot of money for a human caused disaster, but hey, it’s only money. The report also estimates that human deaths caused by climate change will reach 100 million by 2030. Sobering thought.
That report is here.
The infographic website is here.

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What the scientists really think about climate change.



Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s on a farm in a small town, I spent most of my spare time outside playing riding around on my bike with my friends, and also helping out in the family business. I never really watched a lot of television but when I did I loved to watch The Curiosity Show with Rob and Dean. For those unfamiliar, here is a random clip from one of their shows.

It was this show that really got me interested in Science. Rob and Dean had a way of making science exciting and they did this through effective communication. They could explain what they were doing and make it exciting and relevant. What young kid watching the above example wouldn’t get excited about blowing the lid off something? All that nitrogen gas was also cool and creepy.

The other show I never missed was Why is it So? with Professor Julius Sumner Miller. Here was a guy who could have been typecast into any Hollywood movie or television drama as a stereotypical nutty professor. He was brilliant, not so much because he could communicate effectively (which he obviously could) but because he was so passionate about science and self-assured and this really came through. I was left in no doubt about how he was feeling at any given moment. Recently I have become re-acquainted with Miller and have spent many hours on YouTube watching grainy copies of Demonstrations in Physics. One of my favourites was his lecture on Bernoulli. It is classic Sumner Miller and it will leave you in no doubt about his passion for physics and ability to effectively communicate. I particularly enjoy his language. His “common enchantment” is on show.

Fast forward 30 something years to today and one of my biggest laments in science is the unwillingness of scientists to really express their personal feelings about the science they are doing. Scientists are for some reason almost expected to maintain the dispassion they apply to the scientific method throughout all aspects of their life or at least to keep their personal feelings out of the public eye, especially if they are negative. Perhaps I’m generalising a bit here but it is the impression I have gotten over the years, especially where climate science is concerned. I’m not a climate scientist and I am really pissed off about the lack of action. I am really pissed off by the bullshit “arguments” put up by non-experts. I am pissed off with the media giving false balance to these morons. When I see charlatans from fossil fuel funded think-tanks on my television I want to throw something. I will throw my hands up in the air and wonder why the climate scientists are not being heard? Why aren’t they putting a human face on their findings? I know they are all passionate about their science and they have to be tearing their hair out at the prospect of what we are doing to our world.

Well, with our new dysfunctional, fossil fuel funded, climate change denying, anti-science, fossil-filled conservative government destroying renewable energy initiatives, dismantling key climate institutions, removing the only demonstrable method of reducing CO2 emissions, dishing out corporate welfare to billionaire miners and removing environmental impediments to their business interests, it seems some Australian climate experts are finally putting their thoughts in the public domain.  Joe Duggan, a master’s student in science communication at the Australian National University’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science has asked the experts to write down their thoughts and has put them on his blog. It makes for some sobering reading.

Check it out here.





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Ignorance is crippling Australia

and its wilful ignorance at that

Ignorance is crippling Australia.

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The climate change denial industry cops another blow

More and more, the climate change denial industry, and it is an industry, is becoming increasingly marginalised. Big business which is generally all about free market ideology and is usually dismissive of the science underpinning anthropogenic climate change.  Insurance companies however, do recognise the threat of human caused climate change and have started rumbling about a lack of government action. You won’t find too many insurance companies funneling money into right-wing anti-science conservative think-tanks. Now, the world’s largest PR firms are also taking a stand.

From the Guardian

World’s top PR companies rule out working with climate deniers

Ten firms say they will not represent clients that deny man-made climate change or seek to block emisson-reducing regulations.

Some of the world’s top PR companies have for the first time publicly ruled out working with climate change deniers, marking a fundamental shift in the multi-billion dollar industry that has grown up around the issue of global warming.

Public relations firms have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions – as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives.

Read the rest here

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If We Release a Small Fraction of Arctic Carbon, ‘We’re Fucked': Climatologist

from Brian Merchant at Motherboard

This week, scientists made a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean: They saw “vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor,” as the Stockholm University put it in a release disclosing the observations. The plume of methane—a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat more powerfully than carbon dioxide, the chief driver of climate change—was unsettling to the scientists.

But it was even more unnerving to Dr. Jason Box, a widely published climatologist who had been following the expedition. As I was digging into the new development,…. read the rest here.



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