Climate change associated with atmospheric warming and depletion of the earth’s protective ozone layer are two separate but interrelated problems, intersecting in complex ways that challenge easy comprehension and also efforts to address them. Recent developments related to chemicals commonly known as HFCs illustrate the situation.
Industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas produced through human activity and blamed for global warming, started long before the widespread use of refrigerant chemicals later discovered to be depleting stratospheric ozone.
|Shiprock, sans the brown haze that often envelopes it.
Shiprock rises like a massive cathedral 1,800 feet above Navaho country in New Mexico. The best photographs capture the rock formation in reddish hues, set against a pristine blue sky.
But the first time I saw Shiprock, which figures prominently in Navaho religion and mythology, it was mostly lost in a brown haze.
Undoing 'The Curse' of a Chain of Errors
See Editor’s Note Introducing this Feature
On the heels of the Copenhagen climate talks – whose scant accomplishments reveal that climate change science may be no match for international politics – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds itself in a scientific controversy of its own making.
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report’s malformed paragraph on Himalayan glacier melt has prompted intense, and warranted, criticism of the IPCC review process. This criticism has come not only from climate science skeptics or contrarians. It’s generally clear that the ungrammatical, internally contradictory two sentences – which reproduce errors found in improperly cited sources – shouldn’t have made it into the first draft of the report, much less the final.
Broadcast Charges Leveled at NOAA, NASA Labs
A San Diego TV station’s mid-January one-hour broadcast reporting that two key federal climate research centers deliberately manipulated temperature data appears to have been based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the key climatology network used in calculating global temperatures.
Independent TV news station KUSI in San Diego aired a story challenging current scientific understanding of climate science and offering “breaking news” of government wrongdoing based on work of Joseph D’Aleo, a meteorologist, and E.M. Smith, a computer programmer.
Common Climate Misconceptions
It’s no surprise that as much of the U.S. hit was with an unusual January cold spell, hyperbolic warnings of an impending ice age would be close behind.
The British tabloid The Daily Mail recently misrepresented the work of a prominent German climate scientist, Mojib Latif, to suggest that “The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years.”
|Will Outer Banks’ existing dunes withstand future sea level rise?
The concept of sea level rise for much of the public may suggest an image of the world’s oceans as something like a bathtub, with melting glaciers as the faucet.
“The media have this idea in mind that sea level due to climate change is a uniform, global thing,” says Glenn Milne, a geophysicist at the University of Ottawa and lead author for a recent review in the journal Nature Geoscience on the causes of sea level change.
“That’s the Waterworld kind of misconception, ” he says, “and in reality it’s going to be very different than that.”
When a Tree Falls
In Camille Feanny’s neighborhood workers busily repair homes and patch or reinstall roofs and windows after drenching storms last fall nailed the Southeast.
As she stares out her window, she’s dismayed: No rush to install new insulation, or solar panels, or double-paned windows.
“There are tax credits for installing and rebuilding your home in an energy-efficient way. The government is pouring billions into this,” Feanny said. “None of my neighbors knows anything about it.”
It’s a bitter irony for Feanny. She lives in Atlanta, home of CNN, where for nearly a decade she had worked on the network’s science and environment unit. That news unit was trimmed back for years and then unceremoniously dumped a little over a year ago, in what is the most prominent example of a science and environmental reporting team getting tossed aside as the traditional news industry sails stormy seas.