In the most recent rendition of their article “Communicating climate change: conduits, content, and consensus”, Pearce, Brown, Nerlich, and Koteyko discuss the importance of the way that people like scientists and policy makers are portraying global climate change. In order to be most effective, they must understand how the general population is receiving their information, how they are likely to react based on what is being said, and how likely it is that they will believe it. Continue reading →
The Inuit—the native inhabitants of Greenland’s northern coastal settlements—have for centuries depended on the ebb and flow of sea ice for sustenance, but with climate change contracting the winter season they find their food sources and their way of life under threat. Continue reading →
As climate change begins to transform the planet, those who inhabit it will subsequently need to change their practices and customs. Eichler (2015) focuses on changes in how children will be raised with the consequences of climate change on the horizon. She highlights the importance of teaching children to be resilient. To distinguish between those who are resilient and those who are not, she tells a personal story, about a time when a power outage hit her town and lasted for five days. She was out of the country during the outage but when she returned, she asked two friends about the experience. The first friend told her that she made the best of the outage by having a campfire and spending time with friends, a resilient response in Eichler’s view. When Eichler asked the second friend about the outage, she said that it was a “difficult” experience that took her a long time to recover from. Eichler points out that resilience, the ability to bounce back when faced with adversity, is lacking in many but will soon be necessary to withstand the hardships that climate change will bring. Continue reading →
In recent years there has been a variety of extreme weather events in the United States and around the globe. While the frequency and severity of these events cannot be conclusively linked to climate change, they have had a profound effect on public perceptions of the validity of climate change. In turn, politicians have used extreme weather events as means to bolster claims about the certainty and danger of climate change. In this study, researchers sought to see if, and how much, these events could sway public support of politicians who see climate issues as a top priority. If the events were shown to sway opinion, it would exemplify human tendency to have worldviews shaped by personal experience, and give hope to Green party politicians in the future. As shown in the study, these weather events did cause increased support for “green politicians,” though not necessarily more in populations personally affected by the storms (Rudman et al. 2013). Continue reading →
While conspiracy theories are relatively common and well-studied, very little research has been done investigating climate change conspiracy theories and their especially harmful nature. According to Douglas (2015), conspiracy theories tend to develop around global-scale events with enormous significance that individuals have trouble believing can be explained by mundane or ordinary details. Climate change fits this description perfectly, as science has shown that it is caused by small, common actions such as driving a car. Because of this, a number of climate change conspiracies have developed, such as that scientists have made up climate change for political reasons, to get research grants, or to help those who invested in green energy technology profit. Continue reading →
Camille Parmesan and Gary Yohe describe the reasoning and results of the IPCC’s method of measuring the fingerprint of climate change. Their goal was to “improve communication, provide common ground for discussion, and give a comprehensive summary of the evidence.” The IPCC’s method mitigates the result abnormality from the opposing methods and views of biologists and economists by implementing both of their techniques into IPCC’s. The need for the IPCC’s approach comes from both of the existing results being beneficial, but flawed to the point that citizens, readers and policy makers must remain dubious of the results. Economists focus on direct evidence, in the moment and apply time discounting in order to account for their lack of quality control. From this, they conclude that climate change is only important if it is responsible for the current biotic changes; which leads economists to the conclusion that climate change’s fingerprint is weak. Continue reading →
Our newest book, published on May 6, 2015 and available at Amazon.com for $19.95.
The focus of this book is the interactions between energy, ecology, and climate change, as well as a few of the responses of humanity to these interactions. It is not a textbook, but a series of chapters discussing subtopics in which the authors were interested and wished to write about. The basic material is cutting-edge science; technical journal articles published within the last year, selected for their relevance and interest. Each author selected eight or so technical papers representing his or her view of the most interesting current research in the field, and wrote summaries of them in a journalistic style that is free of scientific jargon and understandable by lay readers. This is the sort of science writing that you might encounter in the New York Times, but concentrated in a way intended to give as broad an overview of the chapter topics as possible. None of this research will appear in textbooks for a few years, so there are not many ways that readers without access to a university library can get access to this information.
This book is intended be browsed—choose a chapter topic you like and read the individual sections in any order; each is intended to be largely stand-alone. Reading all of them will give you considerable insight into what climate scientists concerned with energy, ecology, and human effects are up to, and the challenges they face in understanding one of the most disruptive—if not very rapid—event in human history; anthropogenic climate change. The Table of Contents follows: Continue reading →
William E. Bradshaw and Christina M. Holzapfel highlighted the unforeseen effects of climate change in an article posted by sciencemag.org. The two authors made a point of telling their audience how organisms are not directly reacting to the increased amount of heat on planet earth, but instead reacting to the resulting seasonal change due to the rising temperature. They also consistently mentioned examples of how organisms are capable of “phenotypic plasticity”, the ability of organisms to alter themselves in response to a change in environment. Continue reading →
Extreme weather events have major impacts on societies around the globe, and it is beneficial to have detailed climate data that show trends in extreme temperatures and precipitation. There are currently many areas with inadequate past research, such as the Arab regions in Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In order to help fill this gap, a meeting of several different climate research organizations was held so that data from all the necessary countries could be compiled. Many parts of the dry Arab region are particularly vulnerable to flooding in the case of extreme rain fall, making this an important area of study. Unlike past studies, this research did not collect data from within specific political borders, but grouped areas together based on similar climate characteristics. There were observed trends in overall warming throughout the region, as well as relationships between local temperature and multi-year climate cycles such as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) (Donat et al. 2013). Continue reading →
Atmospheric CO2 has risen substantially due to an increase in fossil fuel combustion and the clearance of land for agriculture, significantly affecting global climate. Climate models predict that there will be an increase in temperature, as well as a change in precipitation patterns in the future. Variations in climate are likely to modify soil respiration and the soil carbon cycle, causing soil organic carbon to increase or decrease, which will either lead to a positive or negative feedback for atmospheric CO2. Poll et al. (2013) investigated the manipulation of various climate change factors on soil respiration and soil carbon cycle in an arable soil at field-scale in a temperate agricultural ecosystem. The experiment was established on an arable field, where temperature, precipitation amount, and frequency were manipulated to simulate various climate change scenarios. For two years CO2 efflux was measured weekly. Additionally, plant and soil microbial biomass were determined to accurately assess the effects of climate change factors on soil respiration. The results underlined the importance of soil water content to the response of ecosystems to climate change. There was a negative effect of increased soil temperature on soil moisture, which led to water limitation. Soil respiration and microbial biomass under increased soil temperatures were limited by water in the first year, but not in the second year. Altered precipitation showed only minor effects during the entire experiment. The study showed that the soil moisture regime under increased temperatures could determine whether soils are carbon sinks or sources. Continue reading →