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Climate change fueled the Australia fires. Now those fires are fueling climate change.

Australia is in the midst of a devastating wildfire season that is being exacerbated by climate change. But the fires, which have been burning for months and could rage on for months to come, are also impacting the earth’s climate in several ways. Some of those impacts are well understood, while others lie at the frontiers of scientific research.

The most obvious climatic impact of the fires is that they’re spewing millions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to a vicious feedback loop of heat and flame. But the fires are also kicking up lots of soot, creating a smoke plume that’s circling the globe and could hasten the melting of any glaciers it comes in contact with. Preliminary evidence suggests some of that smoke has even made its way into an upper layer of the atmosphere called the stratosphere, buoyed aloft by rare, fire-induced thunderclouds. That, too, could have subtle but far-reaching climate impacts.

The fires, which started burning at the end of Australia’s winter, raged across the eastern half of the country throughout the spring and kicked into high gear in the country’s populous southeast over the last few weeks. They’re a disaster of an unprecedented nature.

Exceptionally hot, dry, gusty weather, brought on by recurring ocean and atmospheric dynamics and amplified by the warming and drying effects of human-caused climate change, has made it all too easy for an errant match or a lightning strike to explode into a raging inferno. Which is exactly what’s been happening. To date, the Guardian estimates that more than 26 million acres of land have burned nationwide — a region larger than Indiana. That includes over 12 million acres in New South Wales alone, a dubious new record for the state.

Much of the land that’s burning is covered in eucalyptus forest, although flames have also razed farmlands, grasslands, heathlands, and even some patches of Queensland’s subtropical rainforests, said Lesley Hughes, an ecologist and climate scientist at Macquarie University in Sydney. Whatever the fuel source, the net effect on the atmosphere is a massive release of ash, dust, and a cocktail of different gases, including carbon dioxide.

From the start of September through early January, the wildfires released around 400 million tons of CO2, which is roughly the same amount the UK emits in an entire year, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. That’s not a record, he said, noting that considerably more carbon was emitted in 2011 and 2012, when very large fires raged across Australia’s northern territory and out west. But in New South Wales, this year’s wildfire emissions are off the charts.

By any measure, 400 million tons is a significant chunk of heat-trapping gases that will get mixed into the atmosphere, fueling more global warming. “It’s a great example of a positive feedback of climate change,” Hughes said. “It all comes together, unfortunately.”

In addition to carbon pollution, the fires are producing, well, regular air pollution. Since early November, vast smoke plumes have been wafting from eastern Australia all the way across the Pacific to the shores of South America. Just this week, Parrington said, forecasts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service showed carbon monoxide from wildfire smoke creeping into the South Atlantic, a “really clear indicator of just how intense those fires have been.”

As the smoke circumnavigates the globe, some of it is passing over New Zealand’s alpine glaciers, turning them an eerie caramel color. Lauren Vargo, a glaciologist at Victoria University of Wellington who recently traveled through New Zealand’s Southern Alps, said that the soot is “really clear and obvious” and that “most of the ice on the South Island” is likely to have been impacted. Vargo is currently studying aerial photographs of New Zealand’s glaciers going back to the 1970s. In 40 years of records, she hasn’t seen anything comparable.

Soot on glaciers does more than spoil hiking photos. It reduces the reflectivity, or albedo, of ice, allowing it to absorb more sunlight, which can hasten its melt, said Marie Dumont, the deputy scientific director of the French Meteorological Service’s Snow Research Center. Exactly how much extra melt New Zealand’s browning glaciers will experience over the coming weeks and months is unclear, but the fact that the color change is occurring during the summer, when the sunlight is fiercer and there’s less chance of fresh snow falling, isn’t a good sign.

“It’s super likely that it will accelerate the melt” of these glaciers, Dumont said, “at least for this year.” She added that she wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar, albeit smaller effect on some Patagonian glaciers, given that the wildfire smoke is passing over South America.

“With ice, when we are seeing a color change, it means the change in albedo is about 10 percent,” Dumont said. “That’s already huge. Even a 2 to 3 percent change is a lot.”

Not all of the wildfire smoke is settling on the earth’s surface. More of it is lingering 3 to 4 miles up in the troposphere, Parrington said, scattering light and resulting in ominous reddish sunsets. Where the smoke is densest, it’s likely impacting the weather, said Robert Field, a climate and atmospheric scientist at Columbia University. Over hard-hit parts of Australia, Field said he wouldn’t be surprised if temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees F lower on dense smoke days as soot blocks incoming sunlight. He emphasized, however, that any such effects will be very temporary.

Where the smoke might have a more far-reaching impact is in the stratosphere, a very dry, very cold part of the atmosphere that starts around 6 miles up and is home to fast-flowing jet stream winds. Pollution from the earth’s surface doesn’t often reach the stratosphere, but recent satellite data shows that Australia’s wildfire smoke has hit this lofty mark, a fact that speaks to “the power and intensity of the fires,” according to Claire Ryder, a research fellow at Reading University’s meteorology department.

The most likely explanation, she said, is fire-induced thunderclouds.

Also known as pyrocumulonimbus clouds, these menacing-looking storms, which form when heat from intense wildfires creates a powerful updraft, can blast particles into the stratosphere in a manner similar to a volcanic eruption. Over the past few weeks, the wildfires in southeastern Australia have spawned a series of pyrocumulonimbus events that Neil Lareau, a fire weather researcher at the University of Nevada Reno, called “really superlative.”

The smoke that’s reached the stratosphere may linger there for weeks to months, Ryder said. But exactly what impact it’ll have is an open scientific question.

Volcanic eruptions, she said, shoot tiny sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere. These particles reflect sunlight and can trigger temporary cooling at the earth’s surface. By contrast, fire smoke contains carbon-rich organic matter, including particles that are brown, gray, and even black in color. Black carbon, in particular, is a potent absorber of sunlight, and whether its presence in stratospheric soot will ultimately have a warming or cooling effect on the planet is unknown.

It will likely be years before scientists have teased out the full impact of this year’s wildfire season on the climate — first, the fires need to end. But it’s clear the effects have rippled far beyond Australia’s borders. As fire seasons become longer and more intense across the world, understanding this complex web of planetary impacts will only become more urgent.


Climate change fueled the Australia fires. Now those fires are fueling climate change.

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Hold on to your buns, because fake burgers are going wild

The company that saw the most successful first day in U.S. IPO listings since the 2008 financial crisis? Fake meat. Last Thursday, when Beyond Meat hit the stock market, shares increased an incredible 163 percent in value to $65.75 by closing. The company’s skyrocketing success definitely made for some happy plant-based steakholders.

The company, which makes vegan beef and sausage substitutes, sold over 9.6 million shares and made $241 million on the first day alone. Although analysts expect shares to stabilize lower eventually, today, shares are still valued at around $72.

It’s a big year for meat substitutes. With celebrities like Katy Perry dressing as a vegan burger for the Met Gala, and Patriots star Tom Brady sustaining his Superbowl-winning athleticism on a mostly plant-based diet, it seems that meat is out, and fake meat is in. Although veganism and vegetarianism rates tend to stay steady, it seems more Americans are willing to put down the beef; younger generations in particular are more interested in plant-based diets.

Beyond Meat’s prices are expected to drop further in the coming months as other companies jump on board the meatless meat train. Fast food chains like Burger King and McDonald’s have already started selling veggie burgers, and Beyond Meat’s competitor Impossible Burger is selling burgers nearly faster than it can make them.

Even traditional animal-product businesses are responding to the growing plant-product protein trend. Meat giant Tyson Foods owned a 6.5 percent stake in Beyond Meat. and also backed startups Memphis Meats (read Grist’s coverage of CEO and co-founder Uma Valeti) and Future Meat Technologies Ltd. It only recently sold its Beyond Meat shares as it announced its own plans to begin production of a plant-based protein.

Cargill Protein, another longtime meat company, has sunk nearly $1 million in the past few years to developing alternative meats, including investing in Memphis Meats. Many of these “Big Meat” companies are now stepping out of the shadows and outwardly rebranding themselves and their product lines to include meat alternatives as well — McDonald’s new veggie burger is a product of Nestle NA, and Kellogg is developing imitation chicken in addition to a veggie burger it already offers.

Since the first “Gardenburgers” were served up in 1981, meat alternatives have come a long way. But they’re not the only plant-based alternative with secret animal-product suitors.

Big Dairy, while outwardly attempting to censor how plant-based milks brand themselves, is slowly expanding its reach into the non-dairy world, as recently reported in Bloomberg. Good Karma Foods Flax Milk? The majority stake is owned by dairy company Dean Foods. Silk’s line of soy and nut milks? Owned by French dairy giant, Danone. While yogurt giant Chobani claimed in comments to the FDA last September that the use of dairy terminology on non-dairy products posed “a public health risk” and should be “illegal,” they, too, have launched a line of dairy alternative yogurts — labelled as non-dairy coconut blend, of course.

Part of this jumping on the plant-milk bandwagon may be a survival tactic for the dairy industry. Milk consumption has seen a 40 percent drop in about as many years.

For now, the meat industry still seems to have a solid stronghold in American diets. Will the fake meat hype just be a bubble or could meat be heading in a similar direction?

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Hold on to your buns, because fake burgers are going wild

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Mardi Gras floods New Orleans in plastic beads. One scientist has a gooey fix.

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A herd of dragons, followed by a brass band, and a float full of Star Wars characters rolled down St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans earlier this week, pelting onlookers with shiny beads. When it was over, misthrown necklaces dangled from tree branches and pooled in streetcar tracks.

It’s a scene that played out dozens of times across greater New Orleans over recent weeks. And boy does it make a mess. The Mardi Gras season came to a close on Tuesday, but beads remain scattered everywhere, clogging the city’s sewers. Last year, New Orleans vacuumed 93,000 pounds of plastic beads out of its storm drains.

Someday, historians may look back on our current fossil-fueled plastic era — the geological layer peppered with K-cups, water bottles, and straws — as one particularly bad Fat Tuesday binge.

But at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, molecular biologist Naohiro Kato is working to fix the local version of the plastic problem: Kato has figured out how to fashion biodegradable beads and doubloons out of algae.

Naohiro KatoPaige Jarreau, LSU

Kato isn’t exactly into plastics — his research is all about finding medicines in algae. But back in 2013, a student forgot to put a test tube of algae back in a freezer. The next morning, they found a layer of oil had separated from the warm scum and floated to the top of the tube. You need oil, usually pumped out of the ground, to make plastic beads. But the algae in the test tube had pumped this oil out of the air — weaving together carbon-dioxide and water to make the hydrocarbons.

Starting with algae grown in a kiddie pool, Kato then managed to make a few doubloons and beads.

Plastic beads and doubloons made from algae oil will break down over time, rather than clogging sewers for decades.Paige Jarreau, LSU.

This is just one example of an ongoing revolution to replace petroleum-based chemistry with biology. In the 1950s, scientists broke open the secrets of polymers and, in a frenzy of discovery, figured out how to turn oil into hundreds of different kinds of plastics. Plastics to insulate wires, package food, grease engines, form medical devices, and of course, to shape into a trillion colorful party novelties that drunk tourists would drop in the French Quarter. Now scientists have begun unlocking a new treasure of secrets — working with living cells this time, rather than organic chemistry.

“How big of a deal could bioplastics be? Yeah, I think it could be huge,” said John Cumbers, the founder of SynBioBeta, a network of researchers and inventors involved in this new frenzy of discovery.

Cumbers noted that one startup, Mango Materials, has been capturing methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) and feeding it to bacteria. The bacteria then transform it into bio-polymer molecules, which can be made into plastics.

This isn’t just an exciting frontier for startups. Big companies have already demonstrated that biomaterials make sense. In the 1990s, DuPont began a moonshot effort to get yeast to build 1-3 propanediol, a molecule that’s incredibly difficult to make from petroleum. They succeeded, and soon it was replacing petro-chemicals in cosmetics, soaps, and fabrics. It won a presidential green chemistry award in 2003. Most of this propanediol goes to make a fabric called Sorona, which is woven into denim, carpets, wrinkle-free suits, and underwear. Compared to similar textiles, Sonora produces 60 percent less greenhouse gases over its life cycle, according to DuPont.

This biomaterial performs better and is cheaper than the alternatives, and so “we’ve been growing like gangbusters,” said Mike Saltzberg, who directs DuPont’s biomaterials efforts.

But that’s not always the case. The more environmentally responsible option is often more expensive. “When people say, ‘I’m not just looking at performance and cost, I’m also looking at the environment,’ that really gives bioproducts the advantage,” Saltzberg said.

Take Kato’s bio-beads. Right now they’d cost about a dollar per necklace to mass produce, which is a lot more that the competition (a dollar can buy you a dozen). But if you captured the byproducts of the algal supplements he’s working on, you might be able to make it much more cheaply. For example, you can sell algal fucoxanthin, a compound with potential medical properties for $50,000 a pound. And after you take out the fucoxanthin, you still have 98 percent of the algae you started with.

“That means, we can produce biodegradable Mardi Gras beds from almost all of the microalgae we cultivate,” Kato said. “A football-field size of pond can produce 130,000 pounds of biodegradable Mardi Gras beads, which is more amount than that clogged in catch basins in New Orleans last year.”

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Mardi Gras floods New Orleans in plastic beads. One scientist has a gooey fix.

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U.N. climate report card: When it comes to cutting emissions, a dog ate the world’s homework

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On Tuesday, the U.N. released its annual report card on climate change. The bad news is we’re failing to address the biggest problem facing humanity. The good news? There’s so much room to improve! — and cities and businesses could help pick up the slack.

First, our failing marks: After a three-year plateau, global emissions are rising again “with no signs of peaking,” according to the report. Countries aren’t hitting their Paris goals. In fact, we’re failing at those goals to such a degree that we are making the climate problem worse at an accelerating rate.

And, even if we hit our current targets, it wouldn’t be enough. Factoring in the most ambitious stated climate goals of every nation on Earth, we are still on track for emissions to keep rising beyond 2030. If you’ll recall, the recent IPCC report found that global emissions need to be half their current levels by that year for a shot at keeping warming below catastrophic levels. The U.N. report found that the countries of the world would need to increase the carbon-cutting power of climate policies five-fold in order to meet that goal of 1.5 degrees C warming.

So yeah, the gap between what we’re actually doing and what we need to be doing is at its widest point in history (the report includes a truly stunning interactive visualization of this problem).

The report is sure to be on leaders’ minds as they gather in Katowice, Poland, next week for the 24th annual U.N. climate meeting. The U.N.’s chief climate official, Patricia Espinosa, called the crucial meetings “Paris 2.0” to emphasize the agenda of finalizing the rulebook that will govern commitments made three years ago in the French capital.

Taking a closer look at the report offers a few glimmers of hope. Cities and states could be the driving force to close the “ambition gap,” and there are clear signs that’s already underway, at least here in the United States. The report found that “non-state actors” — anyone besides national governments — could play an extremely important role, especially in countries with obstructionist national governments (cough, cough the U.S.).

An impressive 7,000 cities from 133 countries and 6,000 companies with at least $36 trillion in revenue have now vowed to take action on climate. But there’s so much more that could happen. Those impressive numbers represent just 20 percent of global population and only about 1 percent of all publicly traded companies.

“If international cooperative initiatives are scaled up to their fullest potential, the impact could be considerable” — and may alone be enough to prevent climate change beyond 2 degrees Celsius, according to one study the report cites.

“This year has seen some outstanding progress in the fight to protect the climate, with impressive commitments from cities, countries, and companies around the world,” the report concludes, “but the truth is, we need so much more.”

The report is the latest in a flurry of high-profile climate reports over the past several weeks which have helped re-establish the core message from scientists on our shared civilization-threatening challenge: We have no time to lose. This is a crucial time in history, and we only have one shot to get it right.


U.N. climate report card: When it comes to cutting emissions, a dog ate the world’s homework

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How the Ski Industry is Working to Save Winter

The outdoor industry is upping its sustainability game, and the ski industry is no exception. Downhill skiing is notoriously known for its environmental impact?anywhere large amounts of people flock is bound to be a recipe for excessive waste. But?hitting the slopes may arguably be the?most carbon-intensive outdoor sport.

In particular, ski slopes use incredible amounts of electricity, from slope-side lighting?and fuel-intensive snow-making to keeping things toasty inside for patrons drinking their apr?s hot cocoas. But?energy isn’t the only hungry environmental monster. In the French Alps, it is estimated that yearly artificial snow production requires the same amount of water as would be used by 1,500 people. That’s a lot of water waste for just a little fake snow. And that’s not to mention the impacts of fake snow on the natural environment, which requires immense energy to produce, causes water displacement, and melts 2 to 3 weeks later in the season than natural snow, which postpones snowmelt. Scientists are still unsure about the ramifications of this.

No one can argue that ski resorts have a lot to lose when it comes to climate change and warming global temperatures. They rely primarily on a cold, snowy winter season, so it is in the industry?s best interests to do all it can to thwart a complete environmental meltdown. And that?s why ski resorts nationwide are looking to seriously green up their acts.

Many ski areas have pledged to do all they can to keep up with Paris Climate Accord goals, even though the US government has pulled out. Green building policies are being implemented for new condominiums in order to protect nearby animal habitats. Ski California has already set goals for water conservation, land preservation, increased clean public transit options and general increased efficiency and sustainability all around.?There are?plenty of?ways to reduce?the skiing industry?s carbon footprint, and that’s great for both skiers and the industry at large.

But the ski industry is looking to?get even greener.

Resorts across the country are working to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and make the move towards renewable energy. Jiminy Peak in Western Massachusetts runs one third of its energy needs (two thirds in winter) off of wind power, and they are looking to reduce their carbon footprint more and more each year.

Even more impressive, California ski resort Squaw Valley has just released its plan to go 100 percent renewable by as early as December 2018. The move from fossils to renewables by the ski industry is hopefully the first step in a larger shift in outdoor recreation towards renewable energy. After all, in order to play outdoors you need a healthy, clean environment to do it in.

If you love skiing but have a green conscience, it is important to choose your resort destinations carefully. Factor in airline travel, the resort’s sustainability practices,?the gear and food you buy, weather and anything else to make sure you aren?t adding to the problem. And if your local slope isn?t greening it up, talk to the manager, show them what some other resorts are doing and discuss ways you think?cleaner practices?could increase their slope?s economic and environmental viability in tandem. Let’s be real: increased environmental consciousness will pay off for all of us?on the long run.

Do you love skiing? What do you think you could do on your own to make your season pass less carbon intensive? Share your best ideas below!? ??

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How the Ski Industry is Working to Save Winter

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Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, French President Emmanuel Macron made headlines for poking fun at his American counterpart’s well-documented history of climate change denial.

Now, remarks from President Donald Trump on the issue, which were also recorded in Davos but aired in Britain Sunday evening, are providing additional context to Macron’s spot-on mockery.

“There is a cooling and there’s a heating,” Trump told Piers Morgan in an interview with Britain’s ITV. “I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”

He then addressed the subject of polar ice cap melting. “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records,” Trump said. “They’re at a record level.”

In reality, human-made global warming has far outpaced any short-term cooling. Nevertheless, climate change skeptics regularly cherry-pick such data points that fail to account for long-term trends, which consistently show that the planet’s temperature is rising.

Like Trump’s past musings on global warming, his latest observations fly in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. They also recall a May Politico report in which Trump fell for a hoax Time magazine cover that supposedly warned about a coming ice age. K.T. McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, reportedly snuck the fake cover onto Trump’s desk with the intention of irritating Trump on the topic of climate change.

A White House official defended McFarland, saying that the cover was “fake but accurate.” Whatever that means.


Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

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Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?

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Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?

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In Which I Waste a Lot of Time on Climate Change Yahooism

Mother Jones

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Boy did I waste some time yesterday. It started with this post from David French:

The Environmentalist Left Has to Grapple with Its Failed, Alarmist Predictions

I’m pasting below one of my favorite videos, from a Good Morning America report in 2008….Truly, it’s a stunning piece of work, depicting the deadly dystopia that awaited Americans in . . . 2015. Manhattan is disappearing under rising seas, milk is almost $13 per “carton,” and gas prices skyrocketed to more than $9 per gallon. But if you’re familiar at all with environmentalist predictions, there’s nothing all that unusual about the GMA’s report (except for its vivid visuals).

….As I wrote in early 2016 — after the world allegedly passed Al Gore’s “point of no return” — environmentalist predictions are a target-rich environment. There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe. Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry keeps his list of “18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions” made around the original Earth Day in 1970. Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has a nice list of “Seven big failed environmentalist predictions.” The Daily Caller’s “25 years of predicting the global warming ‘tipping point’” makes for amusing reading, including one declaration that we had mere “hours to act” to “avert a slow-motion tsunami.”

….Is the environmental movement interested in explaining rather than hectoring? Then explain why you’ve been wrong before. Own your mistakes.

I would be a lot more impressed with complaints like this if conservatives had spent the past decade loudly insisting that although climate change was important and needed to be addressed, we shouldn’t panic over it. That would be defensible. Needless to say, that’s not what they’ve done. Instead, for purely partisan reasons, we’ve gone from lots of Republicans supporting cap-and-trade to a nearly unanimous rejection in 2010 of what they now fatuously call cap-and-tax, followed in 2016 by the election of a man who’s called climate change a hoax.

Still, alarmism from activists is nothing new, so I was ready to believe plenty of them had gone overboard. At the same time, I was suspicious because the GMA video was rather oddly cropped. It was a hyperactive promo for a forgettable ABC program called Earth 2100 that aired eight years ago, so I wasted some time watching it. Here it is, so you can watch it too if you want to make sure I describe it accurately:

The program is very clear at the beginning that it’s dramatizing a worst-case dystopia of climate change if we do nothing. That said, the show’s actual depiction of 2015 includes these vignettes: an oil shortage spikes gasoline prices to $5 per gallon; higher oil prices make suburbs less desirable places to live; eating meat uses a lot more oil than eating grain; Congress approves 40 new coal-fired power plants; a huge storm hits Miami; a huge cyclone hits Bangladesh; a drought in China causes wheat shortages; and world leaders fail to reach agreement on greenhouse gas reductions.

That’s…not at all what French describes. And it’s not especially alarmist, either. The big drought was (is) in South Sudan, not China, and the most intense cyclone ever was in the eastern Pacific, not Bangladesh or Miami. It was the Lima conference that produced no climate agreement (that would have to wait for Paris at the tail end of 2015), and for pretty much the reasons described in the program. Extreme weather events have increased and wildfire damage in the western US has intensified. But the show did get a couple of things wrong: there was no oil shortage and no new coal-fired plants.

After I finished my vintage TV watching, I trudged through each of French’s catalogs of ridiculous environmental predictions. First up was Mark Perry’s list of bad prediction from the first Earth Day. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care about a random assortment of stuff from 50 years ago, but whatever. Perry has a list of 18 items, and of them, (a) six were from Paul Ehrlich, (b) two were vague warnings about humans destroying the planet, which we were certainly doing in 1970, and (c) four were dire predictions of things that might happen if we did nothing. But of course, we didn’t do nothing. That leaves six: two predictions of famine, two predictions of resource shortages, one prediction of mass extinction, and one prediction of an impending ice age. I can’t find any backup for the mass extinction thing, but the guy who allegedly predicted it got a Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan, so how bad could he be? Nor could I find any backup for the supposed prediction of a coming ice age, and the data it’s based on makes it seem unlikely.

So if we agree that Paul Ehrlich was just way off base, we’re left with four guys who got some stuff wrong. If this is the best we can find from the entire maelstrom of the environmental movement of 1970, it doesn’t sound like those guys did so badly after all.

Next up was the Federalist list, but it was pretty much the same stuff.

Finally there’s the Daily Caller’s list of bad predictions about a global “tipping point.” I had to trudge through each one and click through to see what it really said, and it turns out the first five cases were all routine statements about how much time we had left until the next climate conference, where we really had to get something done. The sixth was from Prince Charles, so who cares? The seventh was a claim that we needed to do something by 2012 in order to keep climate change from getting out of control. The eighth was a piece about the unsustainability of eating lots of meat. And the ninth was a 1989 prediction that we needed to get moving on climate change by 2000 to avoid catastrophe.

So we have a grand total of two people saying that we need to act fast or else it will be impossible to keep future climate change under 2°C. This is a pretty mainstream view since there’s a lot of inertia built into climate change, so I’m not sure why this list is supposed to be so scandalous in the first place. We do need to act quickly if we want global warming to peak at 2°C or less. What’s wrong with saying that at every opportunity?

When you get done with all this, there’s virtually nothing of substance left. Sure, some people got some stuff wrong. That’s always the case. The whole point of science is not to get everything right, but to have a mechanism for correcting its errors. And if you look at consensus views, instead of cherry picking individuals, I think environmental scientists have as good a track record as anyone. Aside from creating listicles that get passed around forever on the internet by ignorant yahoos, what’s the point of pretending that they’ve been epically wrong for decades and need to offer up abject apologies before we ever listen to them again?

There’s no need to answer that. I think we all know exactly what the point is.

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In Which I Waste a Lot of Time on Climate Change Yahooism

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French Election Will Be Between Macron and Le Pen

Mother Jones

I suppose this isn’t a big surprise, but it sure is discouraging—especially after Donald Trump’s disgusting “I’m not endorsing Le Pen, mind you, but she sure is great!” twaddle. The only good news is that Macron is a decent candidate and will almost certainly crush Marine “I promise we’re not racists anymore” Le Pen.

Of course, that’s what we thought about Hillary Clinton too, so….


French Election Will Be Between Macron and Le Pen

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John Oliver Issues a Stark Warning to France Ahead of Presidential Election

Mother Jones

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Ahead of next week’s first round of the French presidential election, John Oliver on Sunday implored voters not to go down the road of the United States by electing head of the far-right National Front group, Marine Le Pen.

Similar to Donald Trump, Le Pen has attracted voters by touting a France-first message that promises to create jobs for the unemployed youth. But “beneath her slick presentation, Le Pen’s message is vicious,” the Last Week Tonight host explained. Like Trump, the far-right French candidate runs an extremely anti-immigration campaign, and she’s been accused of using her platform to promote racist policies against Muslims.

“One of the frustrating things about watching this unfold from America is this feels a little like deja vu,” Oliver said. “A potentially destabilizing populist campaigning on anti-immigrant rhetoric who rages against the elites, despite having a popular father and inherited wealth—even as all the experts reassure us that there is no way this could possibly happen.”

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John Oliver Issues a Stark Warning to France Ahead of Presidential Election

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