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Is today's warming man-made?

Here’s why the scientific community thinks so

This is a "greatest hit" from my previous blog. It's a topic that comes up all the time, so I think it's worth a reprise. ----- As George Bush said at a recent press conference: "the globe is warming. The fundamental debate: Is it manmade or natural?" Why does the scientific community think humans are significantly contributing to today's warming? To understand why, first recognize that whenever the climate shifts, there's a reason for it. It does not wander around like a drunken sailor. Based on decades of research, we can identify the factors that have influenced climate in the …

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'Position statements hide debate'

‘Position statements hide debate’–True enough, but that is not the whole picture

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide) Objection: All those institutional position statements are fine, but by their very nature they paper over debate and obscure the variety of individual positions. The real debate is in the scientific journals. Answer: This is a fair point. Group position statements are designed to present a united front. The best indicator of what individual scientists think is in the current scientific literature, where new and different is the paramount value and scientists are free to express their own ideas, as long as they're supported by data and logic. …

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Making the government own up to its contribution to global warming

Climate change lawsuits under NEPA

As I mentioned in a post last week, frustration with the political process has led many global warming advocates to turn to the courts. While I'm skeptical that the judiciary can solve the problem, it may be an important part of the solution. While the Massachusetts case has dominated public attention to global warming litigation, it is only one of more than a dozen active cases seeking courts intervention. As outlined in a recent report by the Georgetown Environmental Law & Policy Institute (PDF), these cases roughly break down into four categories: Clean Air Act litigation (like the Massachusetts case), …

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No More McDonald’s For Them

French prime minister proposes an import tax on Kyoto-averse countries We'd like to preface this story on French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin with an amuse bouche: his name always makes us think of that Singing Nun tune from the '60s, which led us to a lyrics site today, which featured the offer, "Send the Singing Nun ringtones to your cell phone." What a world we live in. OK, on to the news: the French PM has proposed a European tax on imports from countries that don't play along with the Kyoto Protocol. Some see the idea -- which would …

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Herd It Through the Decline

Climate change ravages land and livelihoods of Kenya's nomadic herders As climate talks continue in Nairobi, Kenya, the world's climate-change canaries aren't far away. Severe floods in the country's northern and coastal regions have killed more than 20 people and forced 60,000 to relocate over the last few weeks, and a flood-drought cycle is disrupting a traditional way of life for 3 million nomadic herders in the north. "These kinds of extreme flooding are the kind of events that are consistent with scientific forecasts on climate change," says Nick Nuttall of the U.N. Environment Program. When the floods go, drought …

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‘There is no consensus’–If this is not consensus, what would consensus look like?

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide) Objection: Climate is complicated and there are lots of competing theories and unsolved mysteries. Until this is all worked out, one can't claim there is consensus on global warming theory. Until there is, we should not take any action. This is similar to the "global warming is a hoax" article, but at least here we can narrow down just what the consensus is about. Answer: Sure there are plenty of unsolved problems and active debates in climate science. But if you look at the research papers coming out …

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If global warming is an emergency, then let’s act like it

On a recent Monday morning, at exactly 8 a.m., a dozen global-warming activists converged in Washington, D.C., at the main entrance to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Will a D.C. protest get the ball rolling? Photo: climateemergency.org Two activists dressed as window washers -- painter's hats on, squeegees in hand -- carried a 32-foot extension ladder to the building's main entrance. They ascended the ladder and secured themselves atop a narrow ledge 25 feet above the ground. Within seconds they had unfurled a large banner that read: "Bush: Let NOAA Tell the Truth!" On the ground, the ladder disappeared …

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Direct-action protesters in the U.K. are focusing on climate change

A protester at England's Didcot power station contemplates the changing landscape. Photo: Kate Davison/Greenpeace It's half an hour or so after the end of Britain's biggest-ever protest against climate change, and I'm still hanging out in Trafalgar Square. A few groups of kids are milling around, and a couple of anarchists have set up a bicycle-powered disco. One or two old-timers are trying to get rid of their last remaining copies of the Socialist Worker. Most of the protesters have heeded the organizers' advice to reuse or recycle their placards, but the local cleaning crews are quick on the job, …

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‘Global warming is a hoax’–I wish James Inhofe were just a hoax …

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide) Objection: Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by environmental extremists and liberals who want an excuse for more big government (and/or world government via the U.N.). This is a common line, regardless of how ridiculous it is, so it should not go unanswered. Answer: Here is a list of organizations that accept anthropogenic global warming as real and scientifically well-supported: NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS): http://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/gwdebate/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm National Academy of Sciences (NAS): http://books.nap.edu/collections/global_warming/index.html

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‘Some sites show cooling’–But you can’t draw global conclusions from individual sites

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide) Objection: Some stations, in the U.S. for example, show cooling trends. If there were really global warming, it would be warming everywhere. Answer: Global warming is the long-term increase in globally and seasonally averaged surface temperatures. It is not the case, nor is it expected, that all regions on the planet, let alone all weather stations, will show the same changes in temperature or rainfall patterns. Many stations have shown cooling, and some small regions have shown modest cooling as well. This does not invalidate global warming theory; …

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