Posts by: tim

Climate legislation: not dead yet

You'd think from the following quotes that comprehensive climate and energy policy in the Senate is dead as a doornail: > "I don't think that the House bill that passed will even be considered this year in the Senate." And: > "There is so much on the plates of politicians and regulators in the United States it is hard for… read more →

Is ozone the enemy of the climate?

The logic of the New York Times: the ozone hole is mending (good), but in doing so it is speeding warming in Antarctica (bad). This is lazy journalism. In the author's defense, the biggest problem is in the headline: "Ozone Hole Is Mending. Now For The 'But'" followed by "Scientists say averting one threat may add to another: warming." The… read more →

Some pollution can protect against other pollution

It's no great secret that humans are a significant source of many chemicals and nutrients used by other organisms throughout the world. For instance, plants breath in carbon dioxide, which we emit in gabs, and they also use nitrogen, which we distribute in fertilizer and fix in combustion engines. Both are essential for plant growth, but could it be that… read more →

Chemical reactions in the atmosphere

The relative greenhouse effect of different gases in the atmosphere are compared based on their annually averaged "radiative forcing," a measure of how much energy each gas emits or absorbs per unit area. This is well understood phenomena: laboratory tests of gas interactions with radiation are applied in radiative transfer models of the atmosphere to determine how much heating or… read more →

Hacked emails show some scientists are rude

I'm as disappointed as the next person in some of the conduct evident in the hacked emails of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Although I generally have some sympathy for a derogatory tone taken towards the so-called skeptics -- after all, deniers tend to be a community wholly devoted towards misrepresenting and misusing climate science… read more →

Native woodlands razed; native people left jobless

The recent financial collapse of a forestry plantation on an island in Northern Australia moved me for a number of reasons. For starters, the story, beautifully told by Verlyn Klinkenborg in the New York Times, serves as a timely reminder of the long-term loss that follows land cover change. More personally, the topic is close to my heart because my… read more →

G8 makes 2° commitment, misses the point

In early July at the Major Economies Forum in L'aquila, Italy, G8 leaders took a big step by publicly announcing a goal of limiting global warming to 2° C. Let us all acknowledge that it is a Big Deal that these countries -- the ones who created climate change to begin with -- are going to take steps to mitigate… read more →

The secret to preventing fishery decline: stop fishing so much

The concept of restoring ecosystems damaged by human exploitation has always interested me, so the recent edition of *Science* featuring Restoration Ecology sent my heart into a pitter-patter. There are a number of good news stories and perspectives in it, but the primary research article on "Rebuilding Global Fisheries" in particular deserves a few words. Global fish stocks have been… read more →

I drink your milkshake!

Perhaps the thing about climate change that worries me the most are "unknown unknowns" -- those feedback loops and unpredictable shifts in the way the biological and physical worlds function together that could potentially doom an entire ecosystem. The analogy of a plane has been used to describe biodiversity loss, for example, where each species represents a rivet in the… read more →

Desert dust helps lower ocean temps

Sea levels continue to rise, and not just because of melting ice caps, but also because warmer global temperatures cause thermal expansion. The rise in temperature would be even greater if not for dust and aerosols in the atmosphere that deflect some of the sun's heat. Scientists don't have a great understanding of exactly how important this dust effect is.… read more →
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