Connecting climate change to everyday life: Guest blogger Christine Shearer

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 1:30 AM GMT on December 31, 2010

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I regularly meet new people through this blog. Recently Christine Shearer contacted me to look over some paragraphs in her forthcoming book. Christine is a sociologist working on climate change. As my readers know, I believe that perspectives from many different fields are what we need to move our addressing climate change forward. I asked, and she agreed to write a guest blog.

Connecting climate change to everyday life by Christine Shearer

One of the interesting things, sociologically, about climate change science is just how political it has become. It is not, however, that people merely fall on different sides on the issue, depending upon their views concerning government regulation. In many ways this divide was socially engineered. In their research, sociologists Aaron McCright and Riley Dunlap track how those opposed to climate change regulations helped transform growing national understanding and concern over global warming into a “nonproblem”, creating a political climate conducive toward the US Congress rejecting the binding greenhouse gas limits of the Kyoto Protocol. Regulation opponents did this by borrowing tactics from Big Tobacco: demanding certainty as the only acceptable standard for action, while simultaneously funding research to deliberately create uncertainty. Historian Naomi Oreskes has traced how many of the same scientists that questioned the science on smoking also went on to question acid rain, ozone depletion, and climate change. These efforts are aided by the media, which too often confuse balanced journalism with presenting various views on an issue, ignoring the weight of scientific consensus.

After Kyoto, public perception of global warming as a problem shrank among U.S. Republicans, marking the beginning of a growing partisan divide concerning global warming and the need for action. Conservatives are arguably exposed to more media sources that question climate change, such as the recently leaked memo of a Fox News editor ordering its journalists to always state that climate change data has been called into question when discussing the topic. Gallup surveys also suggest there has been a measurable decrease since Kyoto in just how severe a problem much of the U.S. public – Republicans and Democrats – regard climate change.

This has been the brilliance of the climate change “doubt” campaign – to tame down the urgency with which people wanted action on climate change, and to create pockets of the US population that are absolutely convinced the entire issue is a hoax.

More concerning is that this is happening while the information on climate change is growing more alarming, with glaciers melting more rapidly than many models had predicted, with new studies suggesting carbon dioxide may stay in the atmosphere for longer than had been previously estimated, and with increasing signs that many of the world’s carbon sinks are growing stressed. The disconnect between scientific research and mainstream public opinion is huge, with many scientists quietly acquiescing that we should be performing small-scale experiments of geoengineering, since the social dynamics concerning climate change look so unlikely to change anytime soon.

That is why many organizations like 350.org have been calling for a social movement on this issue, to create the large-scale response needed to push social change. Activists have been trying to argue that action on climate change is a win-win-win: we clean up our environment, stimulate the economy with new technologies and jobs, and remove our dependence on unstable fuels.

What this movement needs, however, is some urgency. Research on climate change and risk perception show people think of climate change as a distant concern, not immediate to them, and not as pressing as other issues like the economic crisis. This is a problem, because the history of social movements and social change show that people often do not get active and involved in an issue until they can connect it to their daily lives, until it touches them personally. The economic crisis is touching people personally. Climate change, in the public mind - not so much.

This is where climate scientists could have a very important role to play: to begin shattering the taboo between weather and climate.

Right now, the conventional wisdom is that no specific weather event can be attributed to climate change. This is of course “true.” But it is the wrong question, and its persistence is having disastrous effects. First, it reinforces the public view that climate change is a remote, long-term concern not immediately affecting them. Second, it falls into the “uncertainty” argument - since you can't say that climate change “caused” a weather event, it ends up being an argument of doubt (and inaction) that plays into climate deniers' hands.

Again, the problem is it’s the wrong question, and we need to reframe the issue. Luckily, some are already doing this. In his paper “How Warm Was This Summer?” NASA scientist James Hansen suggests climate scientists reframe the question to: “Would these events have occurred if atmospheric carbon dioxide had remained at its pre-industrial level of 280 ppm?” To which he says: “An appropriate answer in that case is ‘almost certainly not.’”

Other scientists, for example, Ben Santer are using climate models as a “control experiment” for pre-industrial greenhouse gas levels, to determine how many times an extreme event of a given magnitude should have been observed in the absence of human interference, and compare that to present conditions, called “fractional attributable risk.

These are much needed advances, for both scientific and public understanding. The more people connect daily occurrences to increasing greenhouse gases, the more they’ll want to do something about it. Now.

The next step, of course, is getting the media and meteorologists to pay attention. But the more scientists discuss daily events, the more social scientists, activists, and other concerned people will demand attention be paid to it. And that will help raise the broader attention and concern we need around climate change. Because the best option, of course, is mitigation. And sadly it is an option we have yet to try.


Christine Shearer
Christine Shearer is a researcher for CoalSwarm, part of SourceWatch, and a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at UC Santa Barbara. She is managing editor of Conducive, and author of the forthcoming book, "Kivalina: A Climate Change Story" (Haymarket Books, 2011).



Figure 1: Conceptual framework showing (in the shaded area) the steps involved in planned adaptation to climate variability and change from Application of environmentally sound technologies for adaptation to climate change; United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, Bonn, Germany, Technical Paper FCCC/TP/2006/2, 107 p






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Michael, Me thinks thou doth protest too much.
it's getting colder, a lot colder.
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970
Getting Colder

Gosh, what ya gonna say when February numbers show the Earth colder than average?Yeah, whatcha gonna do when your baby leaves you, whatcha gonna do when she says goodbye?
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970
№ 64
Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
OMG! Watts was right! Surface station reports are unreliable ;) Courtesy of failblog.org



LOL...I wonder if that is a GISS station!
All kidding aside, that is pretty funny.


Member Since: February 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 580
Quoting jwh250:
Many point to Greenland melting, what if the North Pole has just shifted East, Ireland has been frigid as has much of Scandanavia, a town in Russia has like -90 for the low and -49 for the high yesterday.


Wouldn't there be more earthquakes,volcanoes and tsunamis.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
Why change from a 20 year baseline to a 30 year baseline sirmaelstrom?


I don't know. This is an excerpt of what Dr.Spencer says about it at the link:

"NEW 30-YEAR BASE PERIOD IMPLEMENTED!
Sorry for yelling like that, but if you have been following our global tropospheric temperature updates every month, you will have to re-calibrate your brains because we have just switched from a 20 year base period (1979 – 1998) to a more traditional 30 year base period (1981-2010) like that NOAA uses for climate “normals”.

This change from a 20 to a 30 year base period has 2 main impacts:

1) because the most recent decade averaged somewhat warmer than the previous two decades, the anomaly values will be about 0.1 deg. C lower than they used to be. This does NOT affect the long-term trend of the data…it only reflects a change in the zero-level, which is somewhat arbitrary.

2) the 30-year average annual cycle shape will be somewhat different, and more representative of “normal” of the satellite record than with 20 years; as a result, the month-to-month changes in the anomalies might be slightly less “erratic” in appearance. (Some enterprising person should check into that with the old versus new anomaly datasets).
"
Member Since: February 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 580
#58 Your point is?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
№ 55

Quoting MichaelSTL: After all, he just "readjusted" his UAH dataset again, such that last year appears much cooler, for example, September went from +0.60°C to +0.47°C).


The baseline is what was changed. The old baseline was 1979-1998; the new one, starting this month, is 1981-2010. It's explained in the link below.

Dec. 2010 UAH Global Temperature Update: +0.18 deg. C

Dr. Spencer also mentions the malfunctioning NOAA-15 satellite as well.
Member Since: February 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 580
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Houston we have a problem.

DenialSat in trouble.


LOTS of missing data there I guess it too is overheating. LOL!
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting martinitony:
Cyclone and Michael, you remind me of the a little wooden statue I had when I was a kid. It had three monkeys on it with each one covering it eyes ears or mouth. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
You refuse to directly respond to posts that suggest a cooling as though the post doesn't exist.
You only post what supports your position as though your position is the gospel. What those who are skeptical post is heresy, right?
How pathetic you become posting the same graphs over and over when the world around you is freezing over.


Well Martini it sure isn't the Northen Arctic ice that is freezing over is it? Still at record low levels I see. BTW where is your NOAA data showing different than what I am posting on these graphs?











PATHETIC ISN'T IT?

Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Uh, right:



Read the last line - the natural trend is a DECREASE of 1 ppm per 10,000 years - 20-30,000 times less than the human contribution, and in the other direction. Volcanic emissions are more or less in balance with sequestration and even the absolute emissions are 100-300 times lower than human emissions.

Also:

Has volcanic activity been increasing?

We don't think so.

A look at the number of volcanoes active per year, over the last few centuries, shows a dramatic increase, but one that is closely related to increases in the world's human population and communication. We believe that this represents an increased reporting of eruptions, rather than increased frequency of global volcanism: more observers, in wider geographic distribution, with better communication, and broader publication. The past 200 years (see plot below) show this generally increasing trend along with some major "peaks and valleys" which suggest global pulsations. A closer look at the two largest valleys, however, shows that they coincide with the two World Wars, when people (including editors) were preoccupied with other things. Many more eruptions were probably witnessed during those times, but reports do not survive in the scientific literature.





Absolutely no reason at all to think that ocean floor volcanism is increasing while surface volcanism isn't - except to deniers.


They could both be increasing in the future due to sea level rise caused by GHG global warming.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Cyclone and Michael, you remind me of the a little wooden statue I had when I was a kid. It had three monkeys on it with each one covering it eyes ears or mouth. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
You refuse to directly respond to posts that suggest a cooling as though the post doesn't exist.
You only post what supports your position as though your position is the gospel. What those who are skeptical post is heresy, right?
How pathetic you become posting the same graphs over and over when the world around you is freezing over.
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Jeeze... The extra heat is coming from greenhouse gasses trapping it!

And if you think volcanoes are responsible for ocean warming, then I guess we can emit CO2 to no end because it isn't causing global warming, or only 1-2%! Post some evidence that volcanic activity has massively increased worldwide in recent decades (and not just stuff about some newly discovered deep ocean vents - we know less about the ocean floor than Mars)! I suppose they are also causing CO2 levels to rise!


It could be attributed to some of the Co2 rise in the Oceans and atmosphere Michael since we know Volcanoes emit Co2. Not all of it but SOME of it. I would also guess that fossil fuel GHGs could also trap heat from Volcanoes just as easy as it traps heat from other sources like automobiles, planes, Nuclear power plants,Fossil Fuel plants and Shipping. Heat is heat the trapping mechanism doesn't care where it comes from. Northern Arctic Ice doesn't care where the heat comes from either.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Jeeze... The extra heat is coming from greenhouse gasses trapping it!

And if you think volcanoes are responsible for ocean warming, then I guess we can emit CO2 to no end because it isn't causing global warming, or only 1-2%! Post some evidence that volcanic activity has massively increased worldwide in recent decades (and not just stuff about some newly discovered deep ocean vents - we know less about the ocean floor than Mars)! I suppose they are also causing CO2 levels to rise!


That too Michael I agree with you GHGs from Fossil fuel trap heat.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Link

Since the 1680's, interesting what the buildup
of Bovine belching can produce!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting cyclonebuster:


Wrong Martini see what NOAA says? You are incorrect in every case.



















Jeez, with all the trouble they have down under you'd never think this would make the news, but here it is.

Link

If the oceans are so warm why is the ice breaker stuck?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MichaelSTL:


It comes from the polar oceans, where downwelling occurs and then circulates throughout the global oceans as the THC:



Thus, deep ocean temperatures are directly related to polar ocean temperatures because the water can't get any colder than what is downwelling, so as the polar regions warm, the deep oceans also warm:





We already know that Michael! What they can't explain is where the extra heat is coming from. I say it is from volcanic heat at the bottom of the ocean rising up to warm the other layers also.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting JFLORIDA:
CB I dont get that. The oceans hold huge amounts of heat.


Agreed but that heat has to come from somewhere????
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Whatever. I think you are just as bad as people like Martini when you make preposterous claims like that - global warming isn't caused by greenhouse gasses, it is caused by increasing volcanic activity (since the deep ocean is warming and of course heat ONLY rises, so it is also warming the surface)! And don't deny it!

And it isn't only. Most of the heat is transferred to the cooler water on the way up to the surface thus warming those lower layers also.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Whatever. I think you are just as bad as people like Martini when you make preposterous claims like that - global warming isn't caused by greenhouse gasses, it is caused by increasing volcanic activity (since the deep ocean is warming and of course heat ONLY rises, so it is also warming the surface)! And don't deny it!


It is caused by both Michael I never said it was just from the heat of volcanic activity.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting MichaelSTL:
Ever notice that Goddard is also the name of one of NASA's organizations? GISS - Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The one that deniers love to bash.

PS. I wonder what Martini is talking about, that nonsense about not warming like it was supposed to and such:





Even a climate change denier (you know, UAH) shows that it is warming like it is supposed to (and very oddly, more than any other dataset, at least recently)!

Of course, people like Martini get their knickers in a twist when a La Nina comes along and claim that it is much more than it really is. Perhaps they didn't know that during an El Nino, heat is removed from the ocean, which in turn causes global surface temperatures to rise out of equilibrium - so heat is lost to space. Yes:

El Nino May Slow Global Warming, Study Says

In contrast, during a La Nina, surface temperatures fall but heat accumulates in the ocean. As seen here (Indian Ocean-western Pacific, 20°C isotherm depth is related to heat content and depth of warmer water):



Of course, sooner of later the ocean will "boil over" and an El Nino will occur.

How significant is ocean warming relative to surface warming? Very:



Then add this, which isn't accounted for in the above figure (and explains where most, if not all, of the so-called "missing heat" is going):

Scientists Find 20 Years of Deep Water Warming Leading to Sea Level Rise

If this deep ocean heating were going into the atmosphere instead – a physical impossibility – it would be warming at a rate of about 3°C (over 5°F) per decade.


Three degrees per decade - over those 20 years, global temperatures could have risen by an astonishing SIX degrees - the higher end of the predicted warming by 2100 (of course, that isn't possible because the surface would go out of equilibrium with today's GHG levels, but that gives you an idea of how much heat is going into the oceans)!


The heat is coming from undiscovered volcanic vents on the sea floor. Like this one:Link It eventually makes it to the surface via convection currents where some of it warms the atmosphere and some of it is lost to space. Therefore,you can not get a increase rate of about 3°C (over 5°F) per decade in the atmosphere it has to be less than that.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
Interesting. There doesn't seem to be a real Steven Goddard meteorologist or climatologist. Who is he? Where did he graduate? What papers did he write? Where does he work?


Try the following link:

Link

Just goes to show don't believe everything you read on the internet...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting martinitony:


Florida, the oceans are colder than they are supposed to be. The ground surface temperatures are colder than they are supposed to be. There is more snow than there is supposed to be. The Earth's climate has not warmed as fast as it is supposed to do. supposed to according to models put forth by IPCC and those climatologists that you believe are so correct.

Hell, I hardly know anything about climatology. I have said that many time before, but I think I have a decent head for numbers and logic.

When someone such as Simon, or whatever alias he chooses to use, gets on here and perpetually tries to assassinate the messenger as opposed to debating the message, my logic says, something is amiss.

Now, you can say as often as you like that I don't post the science you accept as science and I really don't give a rat's butt. I have posted many things here that go unanswered far too often to not believe that some of it has stymied you and others here.

The science of AGW, Climate Change, Global Warming or Climate Disruption or any other term you want to call it is not settled science. You actually know this. If it was, you wouldn't be wasting your time here debating it.
Tell me whether or not cloud feedback is as settled as basic chemistry or physics. You know it isn't. So, I say quit BSing all of us and yourself.

Sorry I haven't quoted or sourced any peer reviewed papers tonight.


Wrong Martini see what NOAA says? You are incorrect in every case.

















Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20401
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Mart have you EVER posted related to clime here? And how is ENSO related to AGW specifically if you must defend that post.


Florida, the oceans are colder than they are supposed to be. The ground surface temperatures are colder than they are supposed to be. There is more snow than there is supposed to be. The Earth's climate has not warmed as fast as it is supposed to do. supposed to according to models put forth by IPCC and those climatologists that you believe are so correct.

Hell, I hardly know anything about climatology. I have said that many time before, but I think I have a decent head for numbers and logic.

When someone such as Simon, or whatever alias he chooses to use, gets on here and perpetually tries to assassinate the messenger as opposed to debating the message, my logic says, something is amiss.

Now, you can say as often as you like that I don't post the science you accept as science and I really don't give a rat's butt. I have posted many things here that go unanswered far too often to not believe that some of it has stymied you and others here.

The science of AGW, Climate Change, Global Warming or Climate Disruption or any other term you want to call it is not settled science. You actually know this. If it was, you wouldn't be wasting your time here debating it.
Tell me whether or not cloud feedback is as settled as basic chemistry or physics. You know it isn't. So, I say quit BSing all of us and yourself.

Sorry I haven't quoted or sourced any peer reviewed papers tonight.
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970
Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
Excuse me? Just seems that Steven Goddard doesn't exist. And no telling if he altered or faked the graphs--they don't come from an official or scientific source. Just something he put (or faked) on his page.

Martinitony, can you tell me who Steven Goddard is? Where he got his degree? Whether he is a meteorologist or climatologist? What papers he's published? Where he works?


Gosh. You sound so familiar. Addressing me by my moniker. That constant pursuit to get someone to answer your question. The character assassination style. Who do you sound like?
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970

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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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