Monday, August 24, 2020

The First Undeniable Climate Change Deaths

Undeniable?  Then how come I am denying it?

People in temperate climates regularly die in "heatwaves" -- temperatures that would be unremarkable in the tropics.

So the only thing of interest here is whether the temperatures concerned were unusual. And it does appear that they were.  But where do you go from there?

"Attribution science" was enlisted to show a link to global warming. I won't dwell on the impossible task that is attribution science. It defies logic.  But even if we accept its conclusions as correct, what was the cause of the global warming?  Was it the increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere?

 CO2 levels and temperature are poorly correlated so we need to use Occams razor here.  And in applying Occams razor we note that the earth has been slowly warming since the Little Ice Age -- long before the modern human activities that Warmists decry.  So the simple explanation for increased global temperatures is that they are a continuation of a natural process and have nothing to do with human emissions of CO2

So even if we accept that the deaths were caused by global warming, how do we know what caused global warming?  We cannot know that.  All we can do is guess.  And the influence of CO2 is an implausible guess

In 2018 in Japan, more than 1,000 people died during an unprecedented heat wave. In 2019, scientists proved it would have been impossible without global warming.

July 23, 2018, was a day unlike any seen before in Japan. It was the peak of a weekslong heat wave that smashed previous temperature records across the historically temperate nation. The heat started on July 9, on farms and in cities that only days earlier were fighting deadly rains, mudslides, and floods. As the waters receded, temperatures climbed. By July 15, 200 of the 927 weather stations in Japan recorded temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius, about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher. Food and electricity prices hit multiyear highs as the power grid and water resources were pushed to their limits. Tens of thousands of people were hospitalized due to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. On Monday, July 23, the heat wave reached its zenith. The large Tokyo suburb of Kumagaya was the epicenter, and around 3 p.m., the Kumagaya Meteorological Observatory measured a temperature of 41.1 degrees Celsius, or 106 F. It was the hottest temperature ever recorded in Japan, but the record was more than a statistic. It was a tragedy: Over the course of those few weeks, more than a thousand people died from heat-related illnesses.

On July 24, the day after the peak of the heat wave, the Japan Meteorological Agency declared it a natural disaster. A disaster it was. But a natural one? Not so much.

In early 2019, researchers at the Japan Meteorological Agency started looking into the circumstances that had caused the unprecedented, deadly heat wave. They wanted to consider it through a relatively new lens—through the young branch of meteorology called attribution science, which allows researchers to directly measure the impact of climate change on individual extreme weather events. Attribution science, at its most basic, calculates how likely an extreme weather event is in today’s climate-changed world and compares that with how likely a similar event would be in a world without anthropogenic warming. Any difference between those two probabilities can be attributed to climate change.

Attribution science was first conceived in the early 2000s, and since then, researchers have used it as a lens to understand the influence of climate change on everything from droughts to rainfall to coral bleaching. As scientists have long predicted, the vast majority of extreme weather events studied to date have been made more likely because of climate change. But the 2018 Japan heat wave is different. As people who lived in Japan knew at the time, the oppressive temperatures were more than unusual. They were unprecedented. In fact, without climate change, they would have been impossible.

These people are the first provable deaths of climate change.“We would never have experienced such an event without global warming,” says Yukiko Imada of the Japan Meteorological Agency.
On June 7, 2019, Imada, Masahiro Watanabe, and others published an attribution study of the 2018 Japan heat wave in the journal Scientific Online Letters on the Atmosphere. They found that the deadly event of the previous summer “could not have happened without human-induced global warming.”

This heat wave is not the first extreme event found to be only possible because of climate change. But it is the first short-lived event, and the first to have direct impacts on human health. Given that tens of thousands were hospitalized and more than a thousand died due to the heat wave, in a sense, these people are the first provable deaths of climate change.

For Watanabe, the result wasn’t unexpected. It was more of a grim inevitability. “It was not that surprising,” he says of his unprecedented result. An event like this was “naturally expected as global mean temperature continued to rise.” But for both Watanabe and Imada, it holds real historical significance. “It is very sensational for me because human activity has created a new phenomenon. Human activity has created a new phase of the climate,” says Imada.

You couldn’t live through this heat wave without realizing that something was unusual. Ayako Nomizu lives in Tokyo. “When I was growing up in the ’80s, if we had 31 or 32 degrees centigrade, that was hot,” she says. “We would say ‘Oh, my God, it’s gonna be really 32 degrees?’” Summers recently, and especially 2018’s, concern her. “Now we are seeing 37, 38 [degrees]. It’s crazy. We didn’t really have this kind of heat before.” Nomizu works for Climate Action 100+, a group that helps investors and companies transition to clean energy, so for her, the connection between climate change and the extreme heat in summers is obvious.

Kazuo Ogawa, a 65-year-old landlord who lives in Tokyo, says he has never experienced anything like the heat wave of 2018. His memories of the experience are visceral. “I was so uncomfortable. I took a shower three times a day, I changed my T-shirt three times a day,” he says.

This kind of heat, as the hospitalization numbers and death toll show, is dangerous. Especially so in Japan, where most people didn’t grow up with air conditioning because it was never needed, and where heat exhaustion was basically unknown until recently. To Ogawa and many Japanese, this is a new problem. “Heat exhaustion is called netsuchusho in Japanese. I never heard of this phrase, this illness, 30 years ago,” Ogawa said.

Heat exhaustion and its more deadly version, heatstroke, are simply the physiological changes that occur when someone has an extremely elevated body temperature. There are a lot of mechanisms humans have evolved to prevent dangerous overheating—sweating and other internal changes like increased heart rate and the transfer of blood from organs to the skin can usually keep the body at a safe temperature—but there is a limit to what the body can handle. If the outside temperature gets too intense or high humidity prevents sweat from evaporating and pulling warmth out of the skin, internal body temperature will start to rise. When this happens, blood vessels dilate in an attempt to get rid of more heat, causing a drop in blood pressure that leads to the first symptoms of heat stress—lightheadedness and nausea. As the body continues to heat up, organs swell, and cell-signaling processes, especially in the brain, are disrupted. At this point people begin to fall unconscious, and if their temperature is not lowered quickly, the damage can be fatal.


Recent global warming trends are inconsistent with very high climate sensitivity

The Warmists are dialing back their predictions of danger.  They think that more CO2 will produce less warming than they once did

Research published this week in Earth System Dynamics reports that the most sensitive climate models overestimate global warming during the last 50 years.

Three scientists from the University of Exeter studied the output of complex climate models and compared them to temperature observations since the 1970s.

Recent developments in cloud modeling have produced models that portray very large sensitivity to rising greenhouse gas concentrations.

A subset of models even showed that a doubling of CO2 could lead to over 5°C of warming, questioning whether the goals of the Paris agreement are achievable even if nations do everything they can.

The lead author of the study, Ph.D. candidate Femke Nijsse from the University of Exeter, said: "In evaluating the climate models we were able to exploit the fact that thanks to clean air regulation, air pollution in the form of climate-cooling aerosols have stopped increasing worldwide, allowing the greenhouse gas signal to dominate recent warming."

The amount of warming that occurs after CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are doubled is called the equilibrium climate sensitivity.

The study found that based on the latest generation of climate models the equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely between 1.9 and 3.4 °C.

Co-author Mark Williamson, of Exeter's Global Systems Institute, added: "Global warming since 1970 also provides even better guidance on the rate of climate change in the future.

"We find a likely range for the 'Transient Climate Response' of 1.3-2.1 °C, whether we use the latest models or the previous generation of models."

The new study is only one piece of the puzzle.

A recent review paper found that low estimates of climate sensitivity can be excluded because they are, in general, not consistent with climate changes in Earth's past.

Co-author Professor Peter Cox explains the significance of these findings: "It is good to see that studies are now converging on a range of equilibrium climate sensitivity, and that both high and low values can be excluded.


The naff symbolism of modern eco-protest

Earlier this month, activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) poured red paint on the steps of Trafalgar Square and threw luminous green ink into its fountains. The colours, representing ‘ecocide’ (green) and genocide (red), were intended to raise awareness about the impact of Covid-19 on indigenous Brazilian people.

Or perhaps the aim was merely to draw attention to XR themselves. After all, it’s not clear how pigment poured over the UK capital’s iconic landmarks is going to make a difference to indigenous people. What will Londoners do with their new-found ‘awareness’? And what kind of solidarity is created by acts that most people will see as nothing more than petty vandalism?

Moreover, XR’s latest stunt might have been better directed towards fellow environmental campaigners at the WWF. As has been exposed by indigenous-rights organisation Survival International, the massive green NGO stands accused of an endless list of human-rights abuses against indigenous people living – or trying to live – in the path of WWF’s conservation agenda. Such ‘solidarity’ ought to raise questions about the green movement. Instead, WWF continues to be given tens of millions from the UK taxpayer.

XR and WWF are not the only green NGOs to have developed a strange interest in indigenous peoples. In 2013, Greenpeace’s recruitment of Canada’s First Nations voices to their Save the Arctic campaign was frustrated by the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s rejection of the ‘questionable use of the Indigenous voice’.

It turns out that some indigenous people, living in very cold places, might find fossil fuels quite useful, and some might even aspire to work in the oil and gas industries. But greens take for granted the idea that indigenous peoples want to live ‘traditional’ lifestyles. This presupposition speaks to the green fetish for lifestyles which are closely dependent on nature. When they are not murdering and evicting indigenous people or using them as political puppets, greens celebrate indigenous people as symbols of pre-industrial authenticity. But not as people. When voiceless indigenous people come into opposition with Western NGOs, greens turn out to be as indifferent to them as any logging, mining or agricultural corporation.

The image of helpless, voiceless victims helps green NGOs to cast simple moral categories over the messy business of societies and their development. But Greenpeace and WWF let the cat out of the bag. This is how they want all humans to be: both literally and figuratively powerless, living pre-industrial lifestyles. As soon as indigenous people become politically independent – that is, able to assert themselves politically – or participate in the economy as producers and consumers, or simply stand in the way of green ambitions, their symbolic power fades.

Many have observed the recent trend of political protest’s convergence with performance art. Green NGOs and campaigners, unable to produce mass support for their political views, have had to turn protest into a different kind of spectacle than the one produced by demonstrations of the popular will through the weight of numbers. Every eco-protest today is sparsely populated, but rich with deeply naff symbolism, combined with seemingly transgressive performance – colours and vandalism – to attract attention.

This formula for protest probably reflects the full extent of the protesters’ understanding of the issues facing indigenous people (or people in the developing world more broadly). Indigenous people are just useful symbols to green campaigns: objects of both pity and aspiration. But eco-warriors’ grasp of the ‘environment’ is also entirely symbolic. Trees become lungs, nature becomes Gaia, and industry becomes sin. Greens claim that their perspective is grounded in science, but the logic of the symbolic order haunting green claims is much more often based on mystical mumbo-jumbo and allegories of fire and brimstone than on any attempt to understand society’s interactions with the natural world.

The problem for the ecological zealots that think nothing of inflicting themselves on the rest of society is that very few people speak their language, much less share their views. Most people don’t want to be the eco-serfs in the green lunatics’ designs for an eco-political order that will please Gaia. Most people don’t think their interests are going to be served, let alone understood, by people in fancy dress committing acts of vandalism against a nation’s monuments.

If you think environmentalists are champions of indigenous people’s – or any people’s – rights, you probably think Avatar was a documentary.


Revealed: how the Great Barrier Reef is really doing

Even the academics are finding it hard to moan about it

Is it dying or thriving? The state of the Great Barrier Reef has become a hot button topic, but a report out today gives the most complete picture of the state of our most valuable national icon.

Reports of the death of the Great Barrier Reef may have been exaggerated, with new research showing “encouraging” signs of coral growth in two-thirds of 86 monitored reefs.

The annual report of the health of the reef by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, published today, has been welcomed by tourism operators who say they are battling widespread perceptions the reef is already dead.

Today’s report shows modest increases in coral coverage in the reef’s central and southern zones, and a stabilisation in the north, after several years of hits from bleaching, cyclones and outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish.

Head researcher Dr Mike Emslie said the survey, which is now in its 35th year, showed “the reef is resilient, but this resilience has limits”.

Dr Emslie’s team conducted their assessment between September 2019 and June 2020 at reefs scattered from below Rockhampton to the very tip of Cape York. The work is done by means of a “manta tow”, in which a marine scientist is pulled along a section of the reef underwater for two minutes, and afterwards calculates the percentage of sea floor covered by coral.

“Out of the 86 reefs we surveyed this year, two thirds were low or moderate, with less than 30 per cent coral cover,” he said. “There were 23 reefs that had high coral cover, which is 30 to 50 per cent, and only five had very high coral cover, over 50 per cent.”

Comparing this year’s results to previous years of coral coverage gives a different perspective on the health of the reef.

In the northern reef, coral coverage in 2020 was just half of what it was at its recorded peak, and in the southern reef it was at 60 per cent of its best-ever result. The peaks in both areas were recorded in 1988.

Coral coverage in the central part of the reef reached its highest level ever recorded in 2016, Dr Emslie said, but this year the coverage had fallen back to 61 per cent of that peak.

“The reef is taking repeated hits from coral bleaching, cyclones and crown-of-thorns outbreaks. While we have seen the Great Barrier Reef’s ability to begin recovery from these pressures, the frequency and intensity of disturbances means less time for full recovery to take place,” Dr Emslie said.

The full effect of last summer’s mass bleaching event – the third in five years – would not be known for several months, he added.

“The 35-year data set we’ve got shows that the long term trajectory of hard coral cover is actually ratcheting down,” Dr Emslie said.

“There are lot of good reefs still out there, but there’s also lots of impacted reefs. People can still go out and see the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory but we really need to be aware of what the long term data is telling is.”

Gareth Phillips, CEO of the Association of Marine Park Tour Operators and himself a reef scientist, said people who worked on the reef were seeing its recovery day to day, but negative publicity about the condition of the reef had been affecting visitor numbers prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The overwhelming message is ‘Go now to see what’s left, and what you will probably see is this stark white reef that’s just on it’s last legs’. It’s just completely false,” he said.

“Marine operators do not deny that the reef has gone through some substantial pressures but as this report has shown, the reef has ability to recover,” Mr Phillips said. “It’s exactly in line with what the operators have been trying to say – that the reef is not dead and it is a beautiful place.”

Tourism operations on the reef were currently running at about 10-15 per cent of their pre-COVID capacity, Mr Phillips said, but he rejected popular suggestions this lack of activity could help the reef “heal”.

“Tourism actually has a positive impact on the reef,” he said. “With recent bleaching events, the tourism locations had very little impact because (operators) showed good stewardship. They monitor the reef. They’re a critical part of its management.”

The lack of commercial enterprise on the reef during the lockdown was also leading to an increase in illegal fishing in the area because the tourism boats provide surveillance, Mr Phillips said.

Cairns Tourism Industry Assocition president Kevin Byrne said operators were “continuously fighting against this over-egging of the decline of the Great Barrier Reef”.

The perception that the reef was dying was “fuelled by the contest of academics to try and paint the most gloomy picture,” he said. “The reef needs to be managed, it doesn’t at the moment need to be saved.”

According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, there were 2.1 million “visitor days” to the reef in 2019.



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