Links for the Week Ending 8 December

  • The rapid release of methane over northern latitudes has been identified as a major source of climate change risk. David Archer, over at realclimate.org, reviews a couple of major recent papers on the subject. His conclusion from the findings of these papers is that methane releases remains a concern but should not usher in the apocalypse (at least for a few hundred years or so yet).
  • The cover of The New Scientist last week was “Climate Slowdown: Is It Time to Stop Worrying about Global Warming?” (Hint: the answer given was “No”, sort of.) Unfortunately, the lead editorial and main article is behind a paywall, but 350.org has a synopsis here. The main explanation for the current warming hiatus is the transfer of heat to the deep ocean, but we still haven’t pinned down the contribution of sulphur aerosols (I really don’t understand why satellites can’t calculate the solar radiation reflected by aerosols back into space and thus the earth system energy balance more accurately). For how long heat could be transferred down from the earth’s surface to the deep ocean in sufficient quantities to maintain the hiatus also appears to be a known unknown—could this go on for years more, or even decades? Obviously, eventually a change in temperature gradient would stop this heat transfer, but my guess would be that the aggregate heat transfer required to do this would be vast given the size of the deep ocean. So the determining factor is ocean current variability (which we don’t know much about)?
  • By the way, the UK’s Met Office also tackled the some subject, the deceleration in rising temperatures, in a series of reports back in July; here, here and here.
  • Regardless of the science, society (and politics) has made climate change almost a taboo subject. The Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) has a paper out on the subject of climate silence and how to tackle it here
  • Last week I did a post on income inequality. One of the leading US scholars working on this problem is Lane Kenworthy. Here is an article he did back in July on how governments can tackle the problem.
  • I talk a lot on the secular-stagnation-of-the-West thesis (Tyler Cowen, Robert Gordon, etc). But here is an alternative explanation by Daniel Davies at Crooked Timber for our travails based on a policy decision to accommodate globalisation and the rise of China. Interesting.

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