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10 Important Climate Change Facts: Untangling Bob Hinnrich’s Climate Denial

We have nothing against free speech, but we do have a problem with dangerous misinformation being presented as fact. This was the case on December 19, 2013, when against the objections of many, Chair Jim Richardson invited climate change denier Bob Hinnrichs to present what he called, “a scientific look at global warming data” to the Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District Board — the entity responsible for regulating emissions in our county.

Many unbiased scientific experts on climate change are living and working in our area who could advise the board, but Chair Richardson who is also Mayor of Solvang, chose to invite a denier with no background in climate science. Mr. Hinnrichs also did not disclose his ties to the fossil fuel industry.  He is co-founder of a gas detection company (Pacific Advanced Technology) that sells to the oil and gas industry.

There is a lack of logical consistency in Mr. Hinnrichs’ arguments. (It is both getting warmer and not getting warmer. CO2 both is and is not a greenhouse gas.) His goal seems to be to confuse the issue and cast doubt on all facets of climate science. Below we clarify some of the outrageous and misleading information presented to the APCD Board on December 19.

For a quick overview of main indicators of climate change, please review the NASA website.

Below are 10 important facts to know about climate change.

1. 97 out of 100 climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. 

From NASA blog: http://climate.nasa.gov/blog/938

Several independent surveys find 97% of climate scientists who are actively publishing peer-reviewed climate research agree that humans are causing global warming. On top of this overwhelming consensus, all National Academies of Science around the world endorse the consensus view of human caused global warming, as expressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).Movements that deny a scientific consensus seek to cast doubt on the fact that a consensus exists. One technique is the use of fake experts, citing scientists who have little to no expertise in the particular field of science. The OISM Petition Project cited by Mr. Hinnrichs claims 31,000 scientists disagree with the scientific consensus on global warming. However, around 99.9% of the scientists listed in the Petition Project are not climate scientists. The petition is open to anyone with a Bachelor of Science or higher and includes medical doctors, mechanical engineers and computer scientists.

2. The principle finding represented by Mann’s “hockey stick” – that the warming trend and temperatures over the last few decades are unprecedented over at least the last 600 years – has been verified and strengthened over time.

An independent assessment of Mann’s hockey stick was conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (Wahl 2007). They reconstructed temperatures employing a variety of statistical techniques (with and without principal components analysis). Their results found slightly different temperatures in the early 15th Century. However, they confirmed the principal results of the original hockey stick – that the warming trend and temperatures over the last few decades are unprecedented over at least the last 600 years.

Since 1999, there have been many independent reconstructions of past temperatures, using a variety of proxy data and a number of different methodologies. All find the same result – that the last few decades are the hottest in the last 500 to 2000 years (depending on how far back the reconstruction goes).

 3. Scientists have ruled out solar radiation as the cause of recent global temperature changes. The sun has actually contributed a cooling influence in recent decades.

It’s true that solar radiation has caused temperature changes in the past as we moved from ice ages to warmer periods, but this is not going on right now.  Mr. Hinnrichs’ claim that the sun is the cause of recent warming has been debunked so many times that one geophysicist  (Ray Pierrehumbert) said the solar argument is, “a coffin with so many nails in it already that the hard part is finding a place to hammer in a new one.” 

The charts Mr. Hinnrichs uses are from Willie Soon who has received over $1,000,000 from petroleum and coal interests since 2001 and frequently speaks at climate change denial events.

In reality, over the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been moving in opposite directions. The sun has actually contributed a slight cooling influence in recent decades (Lockwood 2008).

Annual global temperature change (thin light red) with 11 year moving average of temperature (thick dark red). Temperature from NASA GISS. Annual Total Solar Irradiance (thin light blue) with 11 year moving average of TSI (thick dark blue). TSI from 1880 to 1978 from Krivova et al 2007 (data). TSI from 1979 to 2009 from PMOD.

4. Sea level rise is accelerating and poses a direct and imminent threat to Santa Barbara

Mr. Hinnrich’s claim that sea level increase has been constant is demonstrably false as sea level rise is accelerating. The deliberately misleading chart he used was also from Willie Soon.

From 1880 to the early 1900’s, sea level was rising at around 1mm per year. Throughout most of the 20th century, sea levels have been rising at around 2mm per year. In the latter 20th century, it’s reached 3mm per year. (Skeptical science)

Projections for our area is that we could see up to 5 feet of sea level rise this century. We would lose our beaches – critical for our tourist economy. Bluffs would retreat 270-525 feet; cliff-side housing and amenities like Shoreline park would be gone, and our airport would be under water. (City of Santa Barbara Sea-Level Rise Vulnerability Study)

Global mean sea level from 1870 to 2006 with one standard deviation error estimates (Church 2008).

 5. Arguing that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas is like arguing about gravity. This is settled science.  

Mr. Hinnrichs presents a red herring in arguing that carbon increase follows a temperature rise. Of course in past natural cycles when the sun caused warming, that warming happened first – by definition. The sun warmed the oceans which then released CO2, which then caused more warming. However, even in that case, such as during the last glacial-interglacial transition, about 90% of the global warming occurred after the CO2 increase. (Skeptical science)

Regardless, that’s not what’s happening today.  Temperature increase is following the increase in CO2. CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is increasing at a frightening rate. It’s now at a level (400 parts per million) higher than it’s been in 800,000 years.

We’ve only begun to see the temperature increase that is the inevitable result of that level of CO2 in the atmosphere. We’ve only begun to see the disasters – the floods, fires, droughts, crop failures and species extinctions that will be the result of the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Waiting to see how catastrophic it will get before we act is insane.

image

This shows carbon dioxide concentration and temperature over past 800,000 years. We’re now at 400 ppm, unprecedented in human history. We’ve only begun to see the temperature impacts of the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere as it takes time for the radiative forcing to heat the oceans. If we do not reduce emissions over the next couple of decades, we’ll reach 600 or more ppm and face the risk of run-away global warming that we will not be able to contain.

 6. It is getting warmer. It is NOT getting cooler. 13 of the hottest years ever recorded have occurred in the past 15 years.

Mr. Hinnrichs’ claim of a recent “cooling trend” is a dead giveaway that he is not interested in presenting facts.

The 2000 to 2010 period was the warmest decade on record so far. All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and 2013 continues the underlying, long-term warming trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998. (World Meteorological Society)

According to NOAA, the globally-averaged temperature for November 2013 was the highest for November since record keeping began in 1880. November 2013 also marks the 37th consecutive November and 345th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The first 11 months of 2013 tied with 2002 as the fourth warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature of 1.12°F (0.62°C) above the 20th century average of 57.0°F (13.9°C). The margin of error is ±0.18°F (0.10°C). (NOAA)

Scientists have drawn direct connections between extreme  weather events around the world and global warming. For instance, researchers at the University of Melbourne calculated that the devastating heat wave and fires in Australia last summer were 5 times more likely because of global warming. (Livescience)

image (1)

To show a “cooling trend”, you have to cherry-pick your data like crazy.

7. Climate models have already predicted many of the phenomena for which we now have empirical evidence. Climate models form a reliable guide to potential climate change.

Mr. Hinnrichs’ claims that it’s hard to model the climate, the UNEP was wrong about climate refugees and that global cooling would be more serious than warming are all beside the point.

According to the World Health Organization, although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative. Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. (WHO)

We are seeing the impacts of climate change in increased deaths from disease and disaster now. For instance, 4 million people were displaced recently by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippians. (NY Times)

The climate models, far from being melodramatic, may be conservative in the predictions they produce. For example, here’s a graph of sea level rise:

image (2)

Sea level change. Tide gauge data are indicated in red and satellite data in blue. The grey band shows the projections of the IPCC Third Assessment report (Copenhagen Diagnosis 2009). Here, the models have understated the problem. In reality the events are all within the upper range of the model’s predictions. All models have limits – uncertainties – for they are modeling chaotic systems. However, all models improve over time, and with increasing sources of real-world information such as satellites, the output of climate models can be constantly refined to increase their power and usefulness.

8. 90% of glaciers are in retreat. Arctic sea ice is at record lows.  

The answer is not only clear but it is definitive and based on the scientific literature. Globally glaciers are losing ice at an extensive rate (Figure 1). There are still situations in which glaciers gain or lose ice more than typical for one region or another but the long term trends are all the same, and about 90% of glaciers are shrinking worldwide (Figure 2). (Skeptical science)

Figure 1: Long-term changes in glacier volume adapted from Cogley 2009

 

Figure 2:  Percentage of shrinking and growing glaciers in 2008–2009, from the 2011 WGMSreport

Arctic sea ice grows and shrinks seasonally, with an annual minimum in September. In 1979, when satellites first measured it, September Arctic sea ice extent was roughly equivalent to the area of Australia. Since then it has declined by about a third, equivalent to losing Western Australia – outstripping all projections. (Skeptical science)

 

(Image sourceCopenhagen Diagnosis.)

(Image sourceNational Snow and Ice Data Center.)

9. Warmer air holds more moisture. There is 4% more moisture in the air over the oceans than there was 30 years ago. This means both more rain AND MORE SNOW.

Mr. Hinnrichs claim that record snowfall is inconsistent with a warming world betrays a lack of understanding of the link between global warming and extreme precipitation. Warming causes more moisture in the air which leads to more extreme precipitation events. This includes more heavy snowstorms in regions where snowfall conditions are favourable. Far from contradicting global warming, record snowfall is predicted by climate models and consistent with our expectation of more extreme precipitation events. (Skeptical science)

 

10. Climate change is increasing the intensity of hurricanes, causing more floods and extreme precipitation events, increasing the severity of droughts and fires, acidifying the ocean and putting entire ecosystems at risk. This is the standard consensus view.

All areas of the United States are being affected. Just read the 2013 Federal Climate Assessment report for a summary of the extreme impacts of climate change.

No one has claimed that there are more lightening deaths due to climate change and consensus is that impact of climate change on tornadoes is unknown so Mr. Hinnrichs irrelevant graphs of these are beside the point.

In Santa Barbara County, climate change poses a direct threat to our economy. Our largest crops, strawberries and wine, are temperature sensitive and could be wiped out. (Mercury News)

Our businesses and homes are at risk from fire. We are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and drought, and our freeway can be cut off by flooding.

Even if there was much less certainty about human-caused global warming than there is, the existential threat is so great that it would make sense to reduce emissions simply as insurance.

That change needs to happen now. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.

Santa Barbara County’s Global Warming Hall of Shame

Santa Maria Energy has been placing full-page ads in local papers objecting to the fact that County Supervisors required them to offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions. They think it’s “unfair” they don’t get an unlimited license to pollute for free and pass along the costs to the rest of us.

We are experiencing the impacts of climate change now. We are seeing more intense and deadly storms, record-breaking fires and droughts, spreading tropical diseases, heat waves and rising seas. The oceans are more acidic affecting the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest and people’s livelihoods. Our local agricultural economy and our children’s future are at risk.

What is “unfair” is that people are suffering and dying today from the impacts of global warming, including 5600+ people from one of the largest storms ever recorded in the Philippines, and Santa Maria Energy is quibbling about a sixty cent per barrel cut in their profits.

What is “unfair” is that Santa Maria Energy is threatening politicians for taking a modest step to limit greenhouse gas emissions, even though according to polling by the Public Policy Institute of California, 81% of Californians want oil companies to reduce emissions.

The Santa Maria Energy project will be one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the County, generating over 87,000 tons of emissions per year, or the equivalent of adding 17,000+ cars to our roads. The recent decision by County Supervisors requires the company reduce or purchase offsets for emissions above a 10,000 ton per year threshold. The cost for them will be peanuts, an estimated half-a-million bucks a year out of $110 million a year in revenues.

The politicians who should be “judged in the court of public opinion” are not the Supervisors whose decision Santa Maria Energy doesn’t like, but the politicians who went out of their way to advocate for Santa Maria Energy’s right to pollute for free — some even outright denying global warming.

That dubious list includes:

Steve Lavagnino, County Supervisor
Peter Adam, County Supervisor
Michael Bennett, Mayor Pro Tempore Goleta
Jim Richardson, Mayor of Solvang
John Linn, Mayor of Lompoc
DeWayne Holmdahl, City Council of Lompoc
Frances Romero, Mayor City of Guadalupe
Alice Patino, Mayor Santa Maria

The majority of County residents want our Supervisors to ensure oil companies are operating safely, paying for their pollution, and held accountable. They do not want politicians who are in the pocket of the oil companies. Santa Maria Energy’s call to action is a blatant attempt to buy our elections and will be resisted.

Climate Group 350 Santa Barbara Holds Candlelight Vigil for Typhoon Victims in Philippines

IMG_6933IMG_6891

Published in Noozhawk:

Climate group 350 Santa Barbara held a candlelight vigil on Nov. 26 at De la Guerra Plaza followed by a silent walk to Stearns Wharf to honor victims of Typhoon Haiyan, a category 5 “super storm” that struck the Philippines last month.
The slightly out-of-season and unusually intense storm is estimated to have killed 10,000 people and displaced 14 million people.

Climate change educator Katie Davis played a recording of the speech that Yeb Saño, lead climate negotiator from the Philippines, delivered to the United Nations climate talks. He called Haiyan a “climate nightmare” and urged international leaders to take drastic actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last week, MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel and colleagues ran a computer model they use to forecast the wind speeds in a storm like Haiyan and ran it with the climate conditions that were present in the 1980s, before the warming of the last few decades. They concluded that the thermal conditions of 30 years ago would have produced a typhoon 30 to 40 percent less destructive.

Currently the world has an atmospheric concentration of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide — the primary gas responsible for the global trend in warming since the industrial revolution. Scientists agree that 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide. In order for us to prevent more intense wildfires, droughts and storms like Haiyan, Katrina and Sandy, we we must cut carbon emissions down to this level.

350 Santa Barbara is a volunteer organized, autonomous local chapter of 350.org. Click here for more information.

Candlelit Vigil for Philippines

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When: Tuesday 6pm
Where: De La Guerra Plaza then silent walk to harbor
Bring: Candles and signs if possible

Join us as we gather in memory of the thousands dead and millions displaced by Typhoon Haiyan. We will gather at De La Guerra Plaza then walk silently with candles down State Street then to the harbor holding signs calling attention to the need for drastic, international climate action.

Superstorm Haiyan is a climate nightmare — carbon pollution is driving more frequent and intense storms which are devastating vulnerable communities. New realities require new politics, I urge you to stop the sad tradition of feet-dragging on commitments to cut pollution, and breaking promises on finance.” — Yeb Sano, Climate Commissioner for the Philippines addressing leaders at the Warsaw COP19 UN Climate Talks last week

We Won! (Thank you)

We won!

Friends,

On November 12, 2013 the Santa Barbara County Supervisors voted to require a massive, energy-intensive oil project (the Santa Maria Energy project) to offset the majority of their greenhouse gas emissions. They cited the large number of petitions and letters they received opposing the project as a factor.

If you contacted your district supervisor or signed our petitions, thank you. You made a difference.

If applied to future projects and made into local law, the impact of this decision in a shale oil region like ours would be monumental.

Please thank Doreen Farr, Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal for their vote and ask them to do two things:

1. Make the 10,000 mtCO2 mitigation standard county law so that all future projects are subject to it – not just Santa Maria Energy.
2. Set up a local carbon offsets program to keep the money used for these programs within our local economy.

You can find their email contacts here:
http://www.countyofsb.org/bos/default.aspx?id=404

Keep up the good work.

350 Santa Barbara Team

Santa Maria Energy: Big Oil’s 15.4 Billion Barrel Floodgate…

cyclic-steam

In Alberta, Canada, Cyclic Steam Stimulation (CSS) has caused a six-month leak contaminating drinking water. Engineers have no idea how to stop it. This is what Santa Maria Energy wants to do in our region.


Why To Oppose The Santa Maria Energy Project

This project is of national and global significance because it is the beginning of Big Oil’s attempts to unlock massive reserves of unconventional oil in CA (e.g., mentioned in Wall Street Journal). Like Canadian tarsands, CA heavy oil is some of the most energy-intensive, high emissions oil in the world.

Our County Supervisors will make a decision on the project on November 12 and it’s close. Mark the date and follow the steps below if you want to make maximum impact against the project.

What you can do:

1. Sign and share this petition opposing it.
2. Find out who your County Supervisor is by going here.
3. Call and/or email your Supervisor and voice your opposition and concern. Get 5-10 others to do the same. Get organizations you’re affiliated with to sign a letter of opposition and send it to county supervisors.

The message is pretty simple

The Santa Maria Energy project would be one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Santa Barbara County, equivalent to adding 17,000+ cars to our roads. We need to protect our area from risky enhanced techniques like fracking, acidization and steam injection. Any new project like this should at the very least be required to offset their emissions.

Extra Credit

4. Write a letter to the editor of any local paper opposing the project, then forward an online publication of the letter to your local supervisor. This will amplify the power and influence of your voice.

Numbers Are CRITICAL!

5. Show up in person on November 12 for public comment. These hearings can be grueling to get through and can take several hours, but the consequences of us having a low turnout could be catastrophic for the world. Let us know if you can come: 350santabarbara@gmail.com

The 350 Santa Barbara Team

 

HIGHLY BIASED JOURNALISM: 85 Percent of Santa Barbara News-Press Opinions Favor Fossil Fuel Industry

Santa Barbara, October 20, 2013 –

On her website, Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McGraw says, “To do our job right covering local issues and regional governments, we must report without bias and we must be balanced in our coverage. We must uphold the truth; it is essential to the integrity of the News-Press. That is our unalienable right under the First Amendment; it is also our moral duty.”

Climate Group 350 Santa Barbara analyzed three months of syndicated and guest opinion pieces published in the Santa Barbara News-Press regarding energy issues. The group discovered that 85 percent of syndicated or guest opinion pieces printed in the last three months regarding the fossil fuel industry presented arguments in favor of expanded drilling, fracking, a California “shale boom,” the Santa Maria Energy project, or expressed opposition to increased taxation of oil companies. During the same period, 80 percent of published opinions about the renewable energy industry were negative

News-Press Favors The Fossil Fuel Industry.

News-Press Favors The Fossil Fuel Industry.

News-Press Opposes Renewable Energy Industry.

News-Press Opposes Renewable Energy Industry.

 

New Video: Keystone: Why Should I Care?

One of our members Stan Roden made this awesome video mostly in context of our September 21 Draw The Line Action. In the video he asks several people (and a costumed character named Darth Fracker…) why as Santa Barbarans they should care about a pipeline hundreds of miles away.