Directory: Featured Bites
"Global warming will very probably unleash unstoppable planetary forces. And they will not be gradual. The history of our planet’s climate shows that it does not do gradual change. Under pressure, whether from sunspots or orbital wobbles or the depredations of humans, it lurches – virtually overnight." — Fred Pearce
Think of weather as a large die, with the number 6 signifying a violent storm. If you add dots to change the "1" to a "6," you've doubled your chances of a "6." But then when a "6" comes up, you can't tell: Is this the original, "natural" 6? Or the "new" 6 that you added? You can't be sure. But you can be sure that, over time, you'll get more sixes.Similarly, you can be sure that as the earth warms, we'll see more intense storms. Updated variation: "It is more like painting an extra spot on each face of one of the dice, so that it goes from 2 to 7 instead of 1 to 6. This increases the odds of rolling 11 or 12, but also makes it possible to roll 13." (Steve Sherwood) And a third variation from Jim Hansen: New Climate Dice
"Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That's all she is. You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate" "Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000" — Rob Watson
"When it comes to climate change, true skepticism is two-sided. One-sided skepticism is no skepticism at all." —Michael Mann."I will call people who deny the science 'deniers.' I won't be deterred by the fact that they don't like the use of that term and no doubt that just endears me to them further. It's frustrating of course because a lot of us would like to get past this nonsensical debate and on to the real debate to be had about what to do."
Since few people actually spend much time in greenhouses, perhaps we should call it 'The Parked Car Effect.' We all know what happens when you park your car in the hot sun with the windows closed. Light enters, hits the upholstery, which heats up and warms the interior air. But the heat can't escape, so the interior just gets hotter and hotter. Hot enough to kill.
"A wait and see policy may mean waiting until it is too late." — 1979 National Academy of Sciences report, Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment.
"Our children and grandchildren are going to be mad at us for burning all this oil. It took the Earth 500 million years to create the stuff we're burning in 200 years. Renewable energy sources are where we need to be headed." -- Prof. Jack Edwards
All scientists are skeptics. The motto of UK's 350-year-old Royal Society is 'Nullius in verba,' Latin for "On the words of no one" or "take nobody's word for it." It is "an expression of its enduring commitment to empirical evidence as the basis of knowledge about the natural world."
Claiming that 'Earth isn't warming, because 2008 was cooler than 1998' is like saying 'Spring isn't happening, because April 15th was cooler than April 1!' To see the long term trend, you have to look at all the data.
"the climate changed before so we aren't changing it" is like saying "beavers felled trees before mankind, so lumberjacks cannot exist." — Sebastian Sassi
"What’s more socialist than American taxpayers subsidizing the fossil industry while they fleece our wallets? Perhaps Exxon should be renamed The People’s Oil Company of America." — Richard Whiteford, Environmental Communications Consultant in Downingtown, Pa.
"When I was six years old, there were conflicting theories about how babies were born. Somebody said a stork brought them. Another guy said your parents bought them at the hospital. Another said girls had some kind of flap between their legs that babies came out of, and something about penises.The last one definitely seemed the least likely. But by time we reached 11, a consensus had been reached for the vagina-penis theory. Nobody was still going around talking about storks!"
"It is not right to destroy the world God has given us. He created everything; as the Bible says, 'The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven' (Acts 17:24). To drive to extinction something He has created is wrong, for He has a purpose in for everything...We Christians have a responsibility to take the lead in caring for the earth."
Think of CO2 in the atmosphere as water in a bathtub. If you partly open the drain and run the tap at the same rate, the water level stays level. If you open the tap a bit more, the water level rises until it overflows.As long as we keeping pouring CO2 into the air faster than nature drains it out, the CO2 level rises and the planet warms. Even a small imbalance, over time, makes a big difference.
If the Arctic is warming, why was the winter of 2010 so cold?The so-called Warm Arctic-Cold Continent Pattern is "kind of like leaving the refrigerator door ajar — the refrigerator warms up, but all the cold air spills out into the house." Variation: As the Arctic warms, so the northern continents at higher latitudes experience cold winters with heavy snow falls. It's rather like the fridge door being left open: warm air goes in at the top as cold air falls out into the room.
"Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations."
Who amongst us hasn't delayed opening a bill or bank statement, because we want to postpone reading the unpleasant news?
The Dinosaur Economy is an energy intense economy that relies primarily on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas that are derived from dinosaurs, plants and other prehistoric biota. The Dinosaur Economy is going extinct because these resources are running out.
"We're driving in a car with bad brakes in a fog and heaing for a cliff. We know for sure now that the cliff is out there, we just don't know exactly where it is. Prudence would suggest that we should start putting on the brakes."— John Holdren.
While it's hard to know how much global warming contributes to any single weather event, science tells us that we will see more and more extreme weather as the earth warms. Think of today's extreme weather as a "sneak preview" of what lies ahead on our current path.
Saying "climate change happened naturally in the past, and therefore human's can't cause it" is like saying "forest fires occurred naturally in the past. So there can't be arson."
Variation: Arson and camper carelessness can't cause fires, because forest fires often occurred naturally before people even existed!
"If you like buying oil from the Saudis, you'll love buying solar from the Chinese!"— Thomas Friedman
In climate communication, "We need to stop being Chicken Little and start being The Little Engine That Could." Less of 'the sky is falling' and more 'I think I can, I think I can.'
The climate system is like a rowboat. It has two stable states. "You can tip and then you’ll just go back. You tip it and just go back. And then you tip it and you get to the other stable state, which is upsihttp://www.climatebites.org/climate-communication-metaphors-and-soundbites/the-consequences-are-bad/abrupt-change/addde down."—Donald Perovich, Army Corps of Engineers.
The most credible sources are the "grunts" working on the front lines of research -- drilling the ice cores, taking the measurements, crunching the data, and publishing their findings. Their loudest critics are talking heads, desk jockeys and radio hosts who take "pot shots" at research but have never done it themselves.
"It's 3:23 in the morning, and I'm awake
because my great, great, grandchildren won't let me sleep.
My great, great, grandchildren ask me in dreams
what did you do, while the planet was plundered?
what did you do, when the earth was unravelling?
surely you did something when the seasons started failing
as the mammals, reptiles, and birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?
what did you do
"Over Earth’s history, ocean life has recovered from numerous sudden extinction episodes by adaptation and evolution of new species, but the time scales for extinction and re-population are millions of years, not a few hundred years. Human-driven ocean acidification is affecting the ocean far faster than the Earth’s natural recovery pace can accommodate. Today’s rate of acidification is 10 times faster than anything experienced since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago."
"Some say, 'Climate is always changing due to natural cycles. So it can't be us doing it.' That's like saying 'People die from natural causes. So there can't be murder!' Any good crime investigator must develop expertise on natural causes of death, so he can distinguish it from foul play. Same with climate scientists." — Dr. Richard Alley
"Just as steroids make the baseball player stronger and increase his chances of hitting home runs, greenhouse gases are the steroids of the climate system, they increase the chances of record breaking heat to occur compared to record breaking cold."—Dr. Gerald Meehl, UCARThis is our future if don't change course, and we're already getting a taste of it....
"Even small rises in sea level will have very big impact in some places, as storm surges hit coasts. If you raise the floor of a basketball court by just a few inches, you will see many more slam dunks." — Twila Moon, University of Washington
"...History will not judge us by how much economic growth we achieve in the immediate years ahead, nor by how much we expand material consumption, but by the legacy we leave for our children, grandchildren and their grandchildren. We are consuming what is rightfully theirs by sacrificing long-term progress on the altar of immediate satisfaction and convenience." — HRH The Prince of Wales
"If 98 doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say, 'No, he doesn't, he is fine,' I will go with the ninety-seven. It's common sense - the same with global warming. We go with the majority, the large majority." -- former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Some skeptics view climate science as a house of cards. You pull one card from the bottom and the whole thing collapses. But science is more like a jigsaw puzzle, assembled piece by piece over decades of research. Gradually, the overall picture emerges, until it's unmistakable. Remaining gaps or even a few misplaced pieces don't change the overall picture.
"The evidence for climate change is not a house of cards, where you take one piece out and the whole theory falls apart. It's more like a mountain. Scrape a handful of pebbles off the top, but the mountain is still there."
A hundred years from now, looking back, the only question that will appear important about the historical moment in which we now live is the question of whether or not we did anything to arrest climate change.
Everything else—the financial crisis, the life or death of the euro, authoritarianism or democracy in China and Russia, the Great Stagnation or the innovation renaissance, democratisation and/or political Islam in the Arab world, Newt or Mitt or another four years of Barack—all this will fade into insignificance beside the question of whether we managed to do anything about human industrial civilisation changing the climate of Planet Earth.
Just thermometers, indicating since the 1880 that the Earth is warming due to climate change.
A school bus goes up a hill, then down. The hilltop is the tipping point. Earth is the bus, but with no driver, just quarreling teenagers, called governments. And no brakes.
Mitigation costs too much? This is like saying 'fixing the dodgy brakes on my car costs too much, so I'm going to ignore the problem.' The consequence will likely be a wrecked car, and you in hospital, broke and suffering. Mitigation is expensive, but not doing it will be far more so.
Renewables too expensive? Navy Secy. Mabus: "Every new technology is more expensive. What if we hadn’t started using computers because they were more expensive than typewriters? What if we hadn't started using cell phones because they were more expensive than land lines? Where would we be?"
"I am a conservative Republican...I do not believe in wasting things...I do not believe in wasting natural resources or any resources that we might have." - attorney Robert Barlow interviewed on the 2006 HBO documentary "Too Hot to Handle."
"...Climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration."
The National Academy of Sciences is the "Supreme Court" for science. Honest Abe created it 150 years ago to summarize "state of the art" scientific knowledge and advise Congress and the White House. It's been doing this every year since, under every administration.
"It’s all a game of odds. We’ve never been here before. We just know two things: one, the CO2 we put into the atmosphere stays there for many years, so it is “irreversible” in real-time (barring some feat of geo-engineering); and two, that CO2 build-up has the potential to unleash “catastrophic” warming.
When I see a problem that has even a 1 percent probability of occurring and is 'irreversible' and potentially 'catastrophic,' I buy insurance. That is what taking climate change seriously is all about." —Thomas L. Friedman