This is a special opportunity to hear from our Congressman and to ask him questions. He has been asked to focus on five specific issues in his opening remarks, with follow-up questions from the audience on these issues, and others time permitting. The five issues are:
Evidence for human-made global warming hits ‘gold standard’: scientists
Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent, Feb 25, 2019 / 8:04 AM
OSLO (Reuters) – Evidence for human-made global warming has reached a “gold standard” level of certainty, adding pressure for cuts in greenhouse gases to limit rising temperatures, scientists said on Monday.
“Humanity cannot afford to ignore such clear signals,” the U.S.-led team wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change of satellite measurements of rising temperatures over the past 40 years.
They said confidence that human activities were raising the heat at the Earth’s surface had reached a “five-sigma” level, a statistical gauge meaning there is only a one-in-a-million chance that the signal would appear if there was no warming.
Such a “gold standard” was applied in 2012, for instance, to confirm the discovery of the Higgs boson subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe.
Benjamin Santer, lead author of Monday’s study at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, said he hoped the findings would win over skeptics and spur action.
“The narrative out there that scientists don’t know the cause of climate change is wrong,” he told Reuters. “We do.”
Mainstream scientists say the burning of fossil fuels is causing more floods, droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels.
U.S. President Donald Trump has often cast doubt on global warming and plans to pull out of the 197-nation Paris climate agreement which seeks to end the fossil fuel era this century by shifting to cleaner energies such as wind and solar power.
Sixty-two percent of Americans polled in 2018 believed that climate change has a human cause, up from 47 percent in 2013, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Monday’s findings, by researchers in the United States, Canada and Scotland, said evidence for global warming reached the five sigma level by 2005 in two of three sets of satellite data widely used by researchers, and in 2016 in the third.
Professor John Christy, of the University of Alabama in Huntsville which runs the third set of data, said there were still many gaps in understanding climate change. His data show a slower pace of warming than the other two sets.
“You may see a certain fingerprint that indicates human influence, but that the actual intensity of the influence is minor (as our satellite data indicate),” he told Reuters.
Separately in 2013, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that it is “extremely likely”, or at least 95 percent probable, that human activities have been the main cause of climate change since the 1950s.
Peter Stott of the British Met Office, who was among the scientists drawing that conclusion and was not involved in Monday’s study, said he would favor raising the probability one notch to “virtually certain”, or 99-100 percent.
“The alternative explanation of natural factors dominating has got even less likely,” he told Reuters.
The last four years have been the hottest since records began in the 19th century.
The IPCC will next publish a formal assessment of the probabilities in 2021.
“I would be reluctant to raise to 99-100 percent, but there is no doubt there is more evidence of change in the global signals over a wider suite of ocean indices and atmospheric indices,” said Professor Nathan Bindoff, a climate scientist at the University of Tasmania.
Reporting by Alister Doyle, editing by Ed Osmond and Angus MacSwan
After I read the United Nations’ new apocalyptic climate change report, I looked to see when my house was going to be underwater.
For this grim task, I set out to model different possibilities with an online sea level rise tool from Cal-Adapt, a public database for research from California scientists and researchers. (Isn’t the internet amazing? It provides those of us who believe in climate change with all the tools we need to find out when it’s going to swallow us whole, and those of us who aren’t willing to be convinced with all the conspiracy theories we need for political arguments.)
I zoomed in to my street and tried the tool’s first option, “no rise.”
My neighborhood remained gray and dry, untouched by the neon blues of inundation.
Comforted, I tried half a meter. That’s about 1.6 feet, which sounded like a lot until I remembered that the California Coastal Commission has told cities to be prepared for more than 10 feet of ocean rise by 2100.
My house wasn’t underwater yet, but suddenly I could no longer get downtown. Nearly 10 feet of water had inundated the area just north of Mission Bay. San Francisco had lost an Interstate 280 exit, and it’s pretty much assured that all of my Muni buses were getting re-routed as well.
I switched to 1 meter (about 3.3 feet).
My house was still OK, but the water was approaching fast.
Many buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods, including Mission Bay and the Dogpatch, were underwater at least some of the time. The Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods were receding into marshland. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors just approved the construction of a new community in India Basin this week that’s going to be soggy as soon as it’s built.
At 1.41 meters (4.6 feet), Hunters Point was half as large as it should have been, South Beach was surrounded by water on all sides, and Interstate 280 was swamped heading out of Potrero Hill.
Ten feet of ocean rise by 2100. I imagined myself standing on my roof and waving a white T-shirt for rescue. In fact, I should start practicing right now — according to that new U.N. climate report, the party starts in just 12 years. Given the level of anxiety I feel about all of this, it’s going to take me at least six years just to loosen up my spine.
Bad joke, I know. And the truth of the matter is that cynical humor — which is quite frankly the most natural human reaction to the news that the world is about to be flooded and there’s nothing you personally can do to stop it — is not going to get us out of this mess.
So what kind of attitude will get us out of this?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot, partially because I’m so terrified by all of the political inaction and partially because I’ve noticed so many otherwise indomitable people responding to the news on climate change with a sense of helplessness.
Like cynical humor, helplessness is a natural reaction. But it won’t work, and neither will telling other people to give up the benefits of modernity to save the Earth. (Everyone I meet in Berkeley is eager to tell me how climate change will evaporate if we all just stop flying on planes, eating meat and having children, but I have yet to see any of them take their own advice.)
What might work?
It’s hard to find optimism anywhere in America in October 2018, but I’m finding it in the lawsuit brought by 21 young people against the U.S. government for failing to tackle climate change.
It’s scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 29, and while the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to block it from happening, something about their action feels … antediluvian. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the children are unshaken by the size of the fight they’ve taken on.
“I believe that the momentum is on our side,” said one of the plaintiffs, then-17-year-old Nathan Baring, when the kids were presenting their lawsuit before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in December.
The youngest plaintiff, 11-year-old Levi Draheim of Florida, has said that if he doesn’t do this, he may not have a home when he’s older.
It’s the simplest reason to take on this fight, and it’s also the most inspiring one. It smacks of can-do spirit, a trait that used to be associated with American values. I think it’s time we brought it back again.
Why not make fighting climate change our next national challenge, like putting a man on the moon once was? Why not at least believe we can do that, and behave accordingly?
I can tell you this much: Optimistic action sounds like a lot more fun than clicking for your personal flood zone.
Caille Millner is an editorial writer and Datebook columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. She has worked at the paper since 2006. On the editorial board, she covers a wide range of topics including business, finance, technology, education and local politics. For Datebook, she writes a weekly column on culture.She is the recipient of the Scripps-Howard Foundation’s Walker Stone Award in Editorial Writing and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Editorial Writing Award.