Friday, March 29, 2013

Grow your hair in a cold climate

John Vidal has a curious piece in the Guardian about the exceptionally cold winter. Unlike the taz (see Werner's separate post) he does not seek evidence for the link between climate change and record cold weather in March. He just affirms that 'the weather is behaving just as the climatologists predicted it would as the planet warmed: with extremes of weather.' Exceptional cold weather, just as exceptional warm weather, are instances of climatologists' predictions. Easy.

So what are the effects of such cold periods he asks and refers to climate determinism:

Die taz in der Klimafalle

Das Ausmaß der Krise der Klimadebatte kann man an der Titelstory der taz  "Globale Erwärmung lässt Europa zittern" vom letzten Mittwoch ermessen. Selbst kritische Klimazwiebelleser werden übereinstimmen, dass wenn überhaupt ein Presseorgan, dann die taz für den Kampf gegen den Klimawandel zuständig ist - schließlich verdankt sich die Existenz der taz zu guten Teilen der Umweltbewegung und umgekehrt. Doch diese Titelgeschichte und der dazu gehörende Kommentar "Alle reden vom Wetter. Na endlich!" liest sich für mich wie ein Abgesang auf die eigene Geschichte und den eigenen Anspruch: Die taz erweist sich wie die anderen Medien bei diesem Thema als eine Normalisierungsmaschine zur Aufrechterhaltung genau der Verhältnisse, die den Klimawandel erst verursachen.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Climate Zombies

In our book, "Die Klimafalle", we sustain the idea that science helps to create "Klimaerzählungen", climate narratives, which regularly run out of control; like magic, graphs turn into symbols and science into politics. The best example to illustrate this idea is the 2-degree-limit, which is a hybrid of science, culture and politics, to say the least. So we cannot leave the 2 degree limit to science alone, but have to analyze it as a symbol of relevance for the organization of our societies. The ethnographic method to "read culture like a text" and to analyze science as a cultural practice, has a long tradition of its own in cultural studies and serves well to shed new light on the climate debate and its symbols.
In the Guardian, Christopher Shaw deploys this method in his article, What zombie films tell us about climate change: there's no one happy ending. He argues that "Zombie films play havoc with traditional narratives – like the one that puts a mythical 2C limit at the heart of climate change".

Monday, March 25, 2013

Excitement around Climate of the Past

There seems to be some excitement surrounding the paper by Lüdecke et al , recently published in Climate of the Past. I was the handling editor, and here I would like to clarify some points. As handling editor, I cannot obviously reveal details about the review process itself, which is only accessible to the chief-editors of the journal.

Climate of the Past is an open review journal.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Historical climatology - was the European summer 2003 unprecendented?

Recently, I came across this paper, which after "hartem öffentlichen und anonymen" review has been published by Clim. Past, 9, 41–56, 2013 (see - open access! - doi:10.5194/cp-9-41-2013)

O. Wetter and C. Pfister: An underestimated record breaking event – why summer 1540 was likely warmer than 2003

Christian Pfister from U Bern is one of the leading environmental historians, with a profound knowledge about historical accounts of climate in  particular in Switzerland, southern Germany and other Central European areas. he works with, among many others, Jürg Luterbacher, Heinz Wanner, and I am proud to also be among his coauthors.Among his work, which I personally value very highly, is the analysis of the genesis of the Schweizer Waldpolizeigesetz in the 19th century - see Pfister, C., and D. Brändli,1999: Rodungen im Gebirge - Überschwemmungen im Vorland: Ein Deutungsmuster macht Karriere. In R.P. Sieferle and H. Greunigener (Hrsg.) Natur-Bilder. Wahrnehmungen von Natur und Umwelt in der Geschichte Campus Verlag Frankfurt/ New York, ISBN 3-593-36327-5, 371 pp, 9-1. I read this as a partial parable of the role of science in designing contemporary climate policy.

Now, the abstract of his article reprinted with Christian's permission:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Interview with Julia Hargreaves

The following interview with Julia Hargreaves was done be Hans von Storch for the Newsletter of the Atmospheric Science Section of the American Geophysical Union. Julia (Jules) Hargreaves took physics at Oxford University, where she received her BA in 1991; her PhD was in Astronomy and Astrophysics, 1995, from Cambridge University. From 1995-2001 she studied spectral wave modelling at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, UK. In 2001 she started research in climate change, in Yokohama Japan. Since then her lab has gone through several changes in identity; initially it was Frontier Research System for Global Change, and now it is the Research Institute for Global Change.

This interview is the latest in series of interesting personalities from atmospheric and climatic sciences, for a list refer to this web-page.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Will we know soon who 'Mr FOIA' is?

On 13 March several 'sceptical' climate related blogs posted a letter from a self-confessed Mr FOIA*, an anonymous person who claims to have released the emails from the Climate Research Unit.
*[reference to 'Freedom of Information Act]
He writes:
It's time to tie up loose ends and dispel some of the speculation surrounding the Climategate affair.
Indeed, it's singular "I" this time. After certain career developments I can no longer use the papal plural ;-)
I prepared CG1 & 2 alone. Even skimming through all 220.000 emails would have taken several more months of work in an increasingly unfavorable environment.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lennart Bengtsson: Global climate change and its relevance for a global energy policy.

Lennart Bengtsson sent me this manuscript and asked for publication. Maybe a few words about who Lennart Bengtsson is are in order. He is a trained meteorologist, was head-of-research and later director of the ECMWF, the European Center for Medium Weather Forecast. Later he became one of the three directors ol the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology in Hamburg, where he was responsible for the development of the global atmospheric model ECHAM (and other scientific issues). After retirement he is active in Bern as Director Earth Sciences at the International Space Science Institute and professor at the Environmental Systems Science Center at the University of Reading.

Lennart Bengtsson: Global climate change and its relevance for a global energy policy

Klimawandel und Kultur

Die Deutsche Welle präsentiert einen Beitrag zum Klimawandel, der zur einen Hälfte aus den Katastrophenszenarien besteht, die wir schon oft hier auf der Klimazwiebel diskutiert und auch kritisch hinterfragt haben. Doch nicht die Höhe der Schadensfälle in den USA etc ist an diesem Artikel interessant, sondern der Fokus auf den Schaden an kulturellem Wissen, der durch vom Klimawandel (mit) verursachte Umweltkatastrophen entsteht. Der Ethnologe Oliver Anthony Smith:
"Für Indigene und andere Naturvölker ist die Umwelt die Grundlage ihrer Identität, ihrer Religion, ihres Weltbildes. Wenn diese Völker durch plötzliche Umweltkatastrophen oder auch schleichende Umweltveränderungen vertrieben oder entwurzelt werden, hat das weitreichende Auswirkungen auf das kulturelle und soziale Leben."

Das Institut für Umwelt und menschliche Sicherheit (EHS) der UN-Universität in Bonn hat in neun Ländern in Afrika, Asien, dem Südpazifik und Lateinamerika untersucht, wie Menschen auf den Klimawandel reagieren – und vor allem, was passiert, wenn eine Anpassung an den Klimawandel und seine Folgen nicht mehr möglich ist.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What is the problem with science popularization?

People outside the UK may not know that there is a new star in science popularization: his name is Brian Cox, a professor of particle physics at Manchester University who works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. He is also presenter of various science programmes on the BBC, boosting the popularity of subjects such as astronomy, physics and biology. During the 1990s he also was keyboard player for the pop band D:Ream (top hit "Things can only get better", the hymn for New Labour).

Climate scientists on a learning curve

Greenwire's E&E has a very informative blog on the role of scientists as public communicators of science... and policy options. As some scientists are crossing the line from pure science to advocacy, several problems emerge. One is the expertise, another is the credibility. Both are linked. John Krosnick argues that the audience, especially poorer people, tend to discount the credibility of scientists if they include policy statements in their communications: