Saturday, May 26, 2018

Guest Post: Fact-checking Duluth News Tribune

RE: Fact checking the May first, 2018, “other view,” titled “necessity or defense? That’s laughable.”

Good morning Chuck,

Today’s May 1st, 2018 opinion page in the Duluth News Tribune contains some grossly false information concerning Co2 and man’s role in climate change. So, because the Tribune never bothers to check such articles for accuracy, here is a little information from the latest IPCC report on Climate change.

As far as the legality of the act of civil disobedience committed by protesters in Clearwater Minnesota, I am not going to pretend to be a legal authority concerning the charges, except to say that If you have a beautiful fenced in back yard, and I decided I had a legal right to dump all my excess garbage all over your lawn, you might just become angry and might protest my actions if the police did nothing about your complaint. Perhaps you can also share this letter with the Tribune’s Citizen’s Advocates?

In the case of climate change however, unlike the letter’s author who is not mentioned except that he or she apparently writes for the Sentinel of Fairmont, Minn., unlike his or her many claims that “There is nothing proven about ‘climate change,’ and, “There is nothing proven about mankind’s contribution to it” or that, “There is nothing to indicate that Canada tar sands are the cause,” there are enormous amounts of scientific and observational evidence proving that global warming is happening, and that man is the primary cause. As far as the dangers caused by extracting tar sands oil, many climate scientists believe that if that is done completely, the impact on the environment from adding Co2 may be fatal—that is, it would place us beyond a “tipping point” where concentrations of Co2 become so great, it will literally be impossible to reduce Co2 back to safe levels. Here is some info from this scientifically valid website:

“The environmental impact of the oil sands is an issue that has been extremely divisive. As with the extraction and use of any fossil fuel, negative environmental effects arise as a result of the extraction, upgrading, and processing of bitumen from the oil sands. Although some steps are being taken to reduce the severity of these impacts - such as reclamation - there are still associated climate, air, and water effects. Since there are so many environmental impacts that can be discussed, the main concerns have been broken down into several core issues including:
Tailings Ponds Impacts: Tailings ponds are settling ponds that contain the waste byproduct of oil sands extraction and upgrading. They are a mix of water, sand, silt, clay, unrecovered hydrocarbons, and other contaminants.

Climate Impacts: The greenhouse gas emissions for oil sand extraction and processing are significantly larger than for conventional crude oil. These emissions contribute to global warming and the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Water Impacts: The extraction of bitumen from oil sands requires a large amount of water, and thus water use is a concern when looking at oil sands extraction. Water used in the oil sands can be recycled, but only small amounts of this water are returned to the natural cycle.

Air Quality Impacts: Along with greenhouse gases, other pollutants are released into the air during oil sands operations. These pollutants are harmful to the environment and human health and include gases such as NOx and SOx.

Reclamation: Reclamation is the attempt to return previously used land - whether it is old surface mines, or more frequently tailings ponds - to their natural state. The chemicals in the tailings are factors that can make reclamation difficult. And as far as what science knows about Co2 and man’s contributions to it, therefore global warming;”

Here are a few relevant findings from the 2014 Climate support summary for policy makers;

These important findings are highlighted in orange throughout the PDF

“Observed Changes and their Causes Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. {1}”

“Observed changes in the climate system Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen. {1.1}”

“Causes of climate change Anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since the pre-industrial era have driven large increases in the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) (Figure SPM.1c). Between 1750 and 2011, cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the atmosphere were 2040 ± 310 GtCO2. About 40% of these emissions have remained in the atmosphere (880 ± 35 GtCO2); the rest was removed from the atmosphere and stored on land (in plants and soils) and in the ocean. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic CO2, causing ocean acidification. About half of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2011 have occurred in the last 40 years (high confidence) (Figure SPM.1d). {1.2.1, 1.2.2} Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever. This has led to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. {1.2, 1.3.1}”

“Impacts of climate change in recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. Impacts are due to observed climate change, irrespective of its cause, indicating the sensitivity of natural and human systems to changing climate.”

“Evidence of observed climate change impacts is strongest and most comprehensive for natural systems. In many regions, changing precipitation or melting snow and ice are altering hydrological systems, affecting water resources in terms of quantity and quality (medium confidence). Many terrestrial, freshwater and marine species have shifted their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances and species interactions in response to ongoing climate change (high confidence). Some impacts on human systems have also been attributed to climate change, with a major or minor contribution of climate change distinguishable from other influences (Figure SPM.4). Assessment of many studies covering a wide range of regions and crops shows that negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts (high confidence). Some impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms have been attributed to human influence (medium confidence). {1.3.2}”

“Extreme event Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. Some of these changes have been linked to human influences, including a decrease in cold temperature extremes, an increase in warm temperature extremes, an increase in extreme high sea levels and an increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions. {1.4}”

“Future Climate Changes, Risks and Impacts Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks. {2} SPM 2.1 Key drivers of future climate Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Projections of greenhouse gas emissions vary over a wide range, depending on both socio-economic development and climate policy. {2.1}”

“Projected changes in the climate’s system surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century under all assessed emission scenarios. It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions. The ocean will continue to warm and acidify, and global mean sea level to rise. {2.2}”

Here is some info about planned future reports done by the IPCC:

Sixth Assessment Cycle

“In March 2017, the IPCC approved the outlines of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. The two reports are expected to be finalized in September 2019.”

In September 2018 the IPCC will also finalize Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. The IPCC will also refine the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories for delivery in 2019.”

Despite all of the evidence above, many deniers continue to push the idea that there is no proof that human caused global warming exists, or that worldwide temperature averages have even risen? However, science has known for more than 150 years that concentrations of Co2 can, and do, affect the heat from infrared solar radiation. This means that when certain kinds of Co2 isotopes collect naturally in the atmosphere they prevent much of the infrared radiation that would normally enter space and be gone, from leaving. And the Co2 disperses or scatters more infrared back into the atmosphere, meaning it accumulates and the warming cycle will continue rising due to that accumulation.

There are also tons of observational evidence that prove just how much warming is caused by greenhouse gases, which are also causing worldwide temperature averages to rise. One of which is the melting ice in the Arctic. When the snow cover is present across the arctic, the white snow reflects greater amounts of solar radiation, but with warming less and less of that snow and sea ice is present year-round. We are already at a point where we have almost no sea ice during the summer seasons in the Arctic. And when the land snow melts it runs into the ocean and has gradually been increasing water levels there. Currently they amount to relatively small amounts each decade, but, are expected to accelerate in the future, and could result in releasing methane gas from ancient organic material under the snow—which could greatly accelerate sea rise. And although methane is another powerful greenhouse gas, overall the greatest danger is from Co2, since it stays in the atmosphere much longer than methane or water vapor and can take hundreds of years to be completely absorbed by natural buffers in the environment—so daily Co2 emissions continue to accumulate.

The arctic snow cover and sea ice are just one factor among dozens of others that provide powerful evidence that human caused global warming does exist and is primarily caused by greenhouse gases. And you can look them up on many well-established sites that are scientifically reliable sources, such as NASA and NOAA.

Here is a great video put out by NASA of sea ice diminishing from the 1980s to 2016:

Deniers like to pick at various aspects of warming and trying to deny they prove that global warming is happening--often by cherry picking data, or by emphasizing honest statements from scientists who have readily admitted that not enough data is available to determine the extent of some of global warming’s specific aspects. How many deniers have written letters to the Tribune admitting they were wrong about anything they said in their letters, or that they have no other proven ideas about why global warming is happening?

Here also is a link to a rebuttal at the website below that explains why deniers’ claims that the earth has not been warming is dead wrong! It makes perfect sense to me and is certainly backed up by pertinent and verifiable data—scientists do not just make up the temperature readings from around the world in order to prove that we have continued to warm for a long period of time! In reality, all of those readings ARE added together and used to determine their global mean values. If you go to the link below, you will see about 200 other rebuttals that debunk many other common talking points used by deniers. Most of the letters sent to the Tribune by deniers, will probably use some false information which has been circulated, and which is drawn from such bogus myths! So Please just try consulting this link, or simply contact a knowledgeable professor from the UMD Earth sciences department, if you should ever decide to actually check the letters from deniers or “skeptics” to determine if their info is real or is just flat out wrong.

Sincerely, Peter W. Johnson

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