I've Got a Fever, But More Cowbell Isn't the Answer

“The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”
IPCC AR5 Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) last week. It’s a big enough document that most people around the world are unlikely to read it. There will be those like me who want to read and digest it in order to understand what the world’s best experts have come together in consensus to say about the state of our planet’s climate. And of course there will be the deniers and skeptics who will want to dissect it to try to come up with counterarguments to its conclusions.

Compared with earlier reports the IPCC has released, AR5 has ramped up its certainty that our human activities are the main culprit for the level of global warming we’re seeing to greater than 95 percent. To put that into perspective, that’s on a par with the certainty that scientists have that smoking causes cancer. Here are some of their other conclusions: Continue reading

The IPCC AR5 Report: Be Prepared for Attacks

“It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.”
—Bill Watterson

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is out. Well, at least the report from Working Group I is. (The reports from Working Groups II and III will be released over the coming year.) But you’d better be prepared for the inevitable backlash from sceptics and deniers the world over now that this report is public, the first in six years to come from the IPCC.

The document is rather large and will take some time to get through, but here are some of the highlights you can expect to find: Continue reading

Wind Turbine Syndrome: Not a Sound Argument

“Our environment has lots of infrasound already in it, the levels generated by wind farms from our point of view are quite low in comparison and they’re no higher than what is already out there in the natural environment.”
—Martti Warpenius, chairman of the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants

Wind turbines make sound, no doubt about it. But do they make enough sound to cause physiologic harm? That’s what people who claim the Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS) is real argue. That infrasound—the levels of sound below that which we can hear—has enough energy associated with it to injure tissues and cause all sorts of physical ailments such as sleep disturbance, headaches, mental health problems, vertigo, and even heart disease.

Much of the evidence used to support their claims is anecdotal: “A wind turbine went up and now I have all of these symptoms.” I’ve written before about WTS and how as a physician with a good appreciation of physiology, the evidence simply has not passed muster to prove it. As another bit of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, one series of complaints ended up occurring while the supposed offending turbine was down for repairs, generating no infrasound whatsoever.

A review of prior studies has filled in another piece of the puzzle. Continue reading

Reducing Emissions, Saving Lives

“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”
—Dan Quayle

When it comes to accepting that climate change is real and that we’re the main culprits for what our planet is currently experiencing, there’s a spectrum the skeptics and deniers can follow. First there’s “Global warming isn’t real;” then there’s “It’s real but not our fault;” the last bastion of for them to hold onto is “It’s real and it’s our fault, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

That third one is important to consider because it’s a way for skeptics and deniers to accept what we’ve been saying all along, but to still push their agenda of “business-as-usual.”  I mean, why bother changing if we can’t stop it, right? Continue reading

Does a Bigger Arctic Ice Cap Mean Global Warming Has Stopped?

“At the rate we’re observing this decline, it’s very likely that the Arctic’s summer sea ice will completely disappear within this century.”
—Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

It’s only a year ago that our planet’s ice cap at the North Pole reached its smallest size ever recorded since satellite data has been available. A shrinking ice cap is just one of the many pieces of evidence for global warming, although many skeptics and deniers prefer to ignore it and focus on surface temperatures which are much more chaotic and, as I’ve recently blogged about, are still climbing—just not as much as was predicted in the 1990s.

So the ice cap was smaller than ever last year, but what about this year? Well, the results are in and this year’s minimum which happened on September 13, 2013 was larger than last year. It was still the sixth smallest ice cap ever recorded, but chances are that any increase from last year will lead deniers and sceptics to loudly proclaim the ice cap is recovering, once again reiterating their mistaken belief that global warming isn’t even happening. Continue reading