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Posts tagged "reader mail"
Asker cazalis Asks:
First. You ASK is spelled AKS. Might want to check it. Two, what did you think of Al Gore's article in Rolling Stone about the turning point for new hope (star wars pun?) on climate.
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey cazalis,

Thanks for following me all this time. The article is here.

Everyone makes mistakes. I think Gore is trying to be helpful and hopeful. He’s trying to support and celebrate, I believe, recent policy changes to limit emissions from power plants, federal procurement, vehicle MPGs, etc. He also points to several disruptive changes to economies around the world, such as Germany’s aggressive investments in solar and renewables.

Several left-leaning commentators think Gore’s piece was equivalent to the word of God - dozens of high-profile blogs fell over themselves after they read his article (see blatherings at DailyKos, Grist, ecowatch).

From my point of view - which reflects the scientific consensus - Gore is spouting nonsense. The IPCC aggregates climate science from every perspective. Their recent report made it clear that even with maximum policy changes, the earth is on track for up to 4.8c degrees of warming. The policy changes mentioned by Gore do nothing to lower global emissions:

[T]he IPCC assesses a large number of scenarios from different experts. For its third report into greenhouse gas emissions, the IPCC assessed 1200 different pathways, created by different modelling teams around the world….

As a result of its own modelling and the different scenarios it assessed, the IPCC concludes that avoiding the two degrees rise means reducing global emissions by at least two fifths by 2050, and tripling or quadrupling the share of energy the world gets from low-carbon energy by the same date. It probably also means using new, untested technologies to reduce the level of carbon in the atmosphere… Via

I think it’s dangerous to say there is “hope” to reduce emissions based on a few tweaks to the American economy. Every indicator (even conservative economists) shows that emissions are going to rise for decades.



Asker Anonymous Asks:
I was just wondering if you had any advice on how to combat the "but in the 70s everybody was worried about global cooling, the world just goes through phases" argument when talking to someone about the current state of the environment? No matter what I say to certain people this seems to come up and I'm not sure my responses are sufficient.
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi anon,

Thanks for your question. I’d send you here, but I take issue with your approach. The burden of proof is always on the person making a claim. If I may, I advise applying the Socratic Method and have a nice discussion (Note: Always apply the Socratic Method with their consent, don’t trick them!).

It is not your responsibility to “convince” them of their err, instead it is *their* responsibility to convince you of their claims. If I say the sky is red, it is my responsibility to show that the sky is indeed red  - it is not your responsibility to disprove it. If you both agree to discuss the matter, proceed without getting emotionally panty-bunched. Hell, you could hold a long dialog that could take days, or even months.

If you are an environmentalist, you have to learn this humble, very effective, and quite easy to apply communication skill. It will serve you well through life.

Once they agree to discuss the issue, define the terms and stay hyper-focused on those things. Every once in a while paraphrase and recap the discussion  - this helps clarify definitions, and it ensures that the other person feels comfortable that you are listening. So, if I’m talking about the sky being red, I’m not able to start talking about my opinion of Obama. Stay on point.

In this case, you’re discussing cycles. So, have them define it. What is a cycle? Is there evidence for cycles? Why do they believe in the science of cycles, but reject that cycles can be changed by human forcings? In other words, can natural cycles be disturbed by heavy influxes of CO2? Why or why not? Where is their evidence? Remember, they are making the claim; you are trying to learn from them. Are they choosing some scientific evidence while rejecting other scientific evidence? How is this possible? By which methodologies are they able to accept the science of cycles, yet reject the science that shows how cycles are influenced? After all, they have to point to science as their evidence for cycles. Interesting, right?

Know that you will experience breakdowns and failures while having these dialogs. That’s OK! Take a breather. Shake hands. Come back to the discussion later. It’s part of the process of learning. Try not to allow emotions to enter the discussion. Don’t get heated. Passion is a good thing, but getting angry and walking away all frustrated is a problem. Face these dips head on!

So, apply the Socratic Method when someone makes a claim. Just have fun with it. No need to be rivals.

Good luck,


Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hello, I'm an avid reader of your posts on Tumblr :) I was just speculating on the validity of the North Korean "hydro-meteorological service". In the picture, it depicts an image which could've only been taken if they had satellite. Seeing that they were unsuccessful with launching there rocket, where exactly do they get these readings? I think for the first time... Kim Jong Un could be saying something worthy of questioning
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi anon!

Thanks for reading and following me! You’re referring to this article, on North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, criticized weather forecasters in his country. 

Actually, North Korea has a space program called KCost. They have satellites in orbit, and Kwangmyongsong 3 is the country’s official weather satellite.

Still, weather data is free and readily available on the internet. It’s a matter of having well trained and educated meteorologists, not really a matter of having a satellite in orbit.



Hey! We really love your blog! It is great that you are so passionate about climate changes! We would love it if you could check our blog out and follow us! Thanks!
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Interesting and done! From the America’s Amazing Teens website:

The AAT Project is an online competition that will identify, honor and mentor exceptional teens with innovative ideas that will change the world.…and check out our zine “Discovering Brilliance”.

Guys, check out teen-inventor Katherine Bomkamp. She invented a prosthetic device for amputees that helps reduce “phantom limb” pain. Really inspiring!



Asker Anonymous Asks:
I'm so excited to see a climate change professional on tumblr! Do you follow any more environmental science related blogs or recommend any? Thank you!
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey Anon,

Thanks for the kindness. For the best list of climate blogs, go to Real Climate, locate “Highlights” in the right column.

My list of climate reads, here.



Asker kimmehcat Asks:
Dear Mr, cote, this is extremely important..Louie Psihoyos, (founder of the Oceanic Preservation Society) made another documentary called 6, the trailer was just released and it’s clear it will be life changing. Just from the trailer alone it’s clear this documentary is different, I just know it’s going to change the way even non-believers see climate change, and so I wanted to ask you if you had time to watch and share the trailer? I can't include it here, asks don't allow me to include links
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:
Asker Anonymous Asks:
this may be a silly question to ask, but I've always been curious - with all of the changing focus that people have had, though not everybody obviously, in education and changing practices, adoption of renewable energy and increasingly eco-friendly technologies.. is there no proof anywhere that we've been making at least a little difference? have things just seriously been skyrocketing so badly despite these little changes we see here and there?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey Anon,

Little to no proof. In fact, based on the evidence, the opposite is true - countries are using more resources than ever before. New technologies have barely made a difference. See here: World Energy Outlook.

US government observations agree there’s been no difference (Source):


See also here, where the IEA states emissions will rise exponetinally regardless of efforts to switch.



Asker Anonymous Asks:
What is your personal opinion on The Nature Conservancy? Seems like an ideal environmental non-profit to work for.
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey Anon,

TNC has a great reputation. They have high-turn over though, so they act more as a stepping stone for experienced and mid-level environmental careerists (any readers at TNC? Is this perspective accurate??). I’m also not clear on how successful they are at meeting their mission or campaign goals - though I’m sure this information is readily available on their website.



Asker xtanti Asks:
Hi Michael, Greetings from Indonesia. I enjoy your blog because I'm interested to learn about environment. As you might heard recently there're two big volcano eruptions in our country. Do you think they can influence the global weather? I've read in a journal that Krakatoa and Tambora eruptions in 19th century created global wheather changes then. Or the two recent eruptions are not significant enough for global weather? (I'm sorry if my English is not well structured) Yeni
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi xtanti,

Your English is just great! Yes, the gas and soot from erupting volcanoes do influence the climate for short periods of time. The volcanoes erupting in Indonesia right now are not getting the media coverage they deserve. Nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated, airports are closed, and the images of ash covering everything are amazing.

View image on Twitter

Image via.

Mike Gunson, atmospheric chemist and director of the Global Change project at NASA has a better answer:

Can one blast from a volcano affect readings over most of the globe for an extended time?

Overall, volcanoes release about 5 percent of the equivalent amount of CO2 released by humans. Quite small. However, about once every 20 years there is a volcanic eruption (e.g., Mt. Pinatubo, El Chichon) which throws out a tremendous amount of particles and other gases. These will effectively shield us enough from the sun to lead to a period of global cooling. They typically dissipate after about two years, but the effect is nearly global.

That said, I’m not sure where to find the estimates of how these two big volcanoes will affect climate. Climate “forcings” are not my area. Maybe JAXA?



Asker 80lemons Asks:
Hi Michael, You have an excellent blog, and what sounds like a really cool job! How did you end up in your field and what sort of advice could you offer to someone interested in your line of work? Thank you!
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi CardinalPearl,

I’ve been meaning to add a background blurb to my FAQs page. I suppose I should do that soon… Basically, I worked for a newspaper in Providence Rhode Island and wanted to be a Pulitzer Prize winning environmental journalist. This was back in the early 2000s. Then, with the rise of the internet, newspapers collapsed and I didn’t see a future in enviro-journalism.  So, I went back to school and got two masters degrees, one in environmental law, the other in urban planning. Both focused on aspects of climate adaptation. I consulted governments during school to pay the bills, wrote and published in climate change journals, and positioned myself basically for the (rather humblamazing) job I have now. A bit more background here, and my Reader Mail tag covers this a little if you’re into digging around

Thanks a lot for your nice note!


Asker Anonymous Asks:
I am a man-caused-Climate Change (Global Warming) skeptic. Where should I start looking for evidence?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi Anon,

Thanks for the question. Skepticism is the basis of science, so I somewhat* respect your point of view.

Note: I’m an adaptation specialist and I manage parts of USAID’s climate adaptation program in over 25 countries. This means I help governments around the world with policies that deal with inevitable impacts from climate change. Basically, I help with natural disaster planning using a bit of climate science, city planning, and environmental law. So, if a city is going to flood, I help a government plan to prevent the flood. If a country’s farming economy is going crash due to drought, I help the government shape a response to prevent crop losses. See what I do, here. Thus, I do not work on carbon or energy policy. I am not an activist. I do not advocate for emissions policies. I’m about as interested in “preventing climate change” as I am interested in becoming the next Dali Lama. That said, this is a very rare instance where I answer a question about carbon, GHGs, and energy. Ok, on to anon’s nice question:

The short answer, anon, is to go here, and probably here. The long (and basic) answer is that you have to contemplate the reason why the earth is warm (vs, say, the moon). The reason is that greenhouse gases (GHGs, e.g., carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor, etc.) hold a good amount of the sun’s radiation, thus keeping the earth nice and cozy.

Without these gases, the earth would be like the moon - a dead rock that’s freezing and boiling at the same time: +253F (+123C) during the day; -387F (-233C) at night.

There is no disputing this (deniers [unwittingly] admit this when they make arguments about cycles). When there are more gases in the atmosphere, more of the sun’s radiation is held within the atmosphere, creating a warming effect (and very strange changes in weather events).

The vast majority of climate denial arguments have been debunked years ago. For example, here’s a list of common arguments still used today, but answered back in 2004.

In sum, your starting point is: Why is the earth warm? It’s warm due to GHGs in the atmosphere. And humans are adding a never before seen amount of carbon into the atmosphere, which in turn will wreak unbelievable havoc. Deniers bear the rather obscene burden of showing that GHGs do not keep the earth warm, and that increases in carbon do not influence climate. 

I hope those links above help.

All the best,


*A legitimate skeptic applies critical thinking to systematically pick apart arguments. Skeptics do this by analyzing evidence. No one disagrees that GHGs cause warming (even all oil companies on earth admit this, and are searching for solutions to lower GHG emissions). The burden is on you and other deniers to show that greenhouse gases do not influence the earth’s atmosphere. Frankly, in my opinion, this is a rather boring subject. The more interesting subject is that deniers actually do not comprehend their own arguments. In fact, they’re really arguing against *the solutions* to reducing or preventing climate change, which are to raise the costs of fuels and not pay for environmental harm. This gets into societal ethics, personal responsibility, and market capitalism, which are far more (well, marginally) interesting topics.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Not sure if this is something up your alley that you've ever had experienced with or even think positively of, but I was looking for websites and places that allow you to "buy an acre of the rainforest", save trees etc etc. Do you know of any trustworthy and respectable organizations that foster something like this?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi anon,

Interesting question and I’m embarrassed I don’t completely know the answer. I’d investigate conservation land trusts that work internationally - stick to organizations that conserve and protect land in a variety of contexts, not just rainforests. World Land Trust looks excellent, but honestly I do not know this organization. The Nature Conservancy has a rainforest program, but knowing what I know about the NC, there are organizations who would use your donation much more effectively.

I am biased toward smaller, leaner, non-profits with a clear mission and a long track record.

My favorite charity/org is the Turtle Survival Alliance. It’s a small organization with very big impact. They help conserve and protect land for turtles, influence conservation policy, help stop illegal turtle trading, and they have a phenomenal turtle breeding program.

You may want to consider The Smile Train (have a tissue nearby) or Doctors Without Borders.

Follow up with me, I’m curious what you decide…


I work for a government contractor. We service USAID, mostly in the environment, energy, and agriculture sectors. Work is international, and you have to have donor experience. Most positions are senior, but some are mid to junior. Good salaries, good people.

Let me know if you apply so I can put in the good word!

Home office positions:











Project based openings:







Positions for proposals (looking for candidates to bid):





2013-5033  JORDAN TOURISM - CHIEF OF PARTY (COP)        JO-*City Not Listed




2013-3962   PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER               US-DC-Washington

2013-3964   GRANTS/AGREEMENT SUPERVISOR       US-DC-Washington


Asker Anonymous Asks:
How did they know the global average temperature in 1880? -a curious science follower
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey anon,

Great question! Simplest answer: thermometers. Simple instruments such as thermometers and barometers have been used for centuries. Governments began to collect data from these instruments beginning in the early 1700s. (There are early data sets, but these focused on local or route specific locations rather than globally. For example, shipping companies collected ocean temperatures during the 1600s along specific routes to report conditions to insurance companies.).

The old-school instruments were placed in locations all around the world (locations ranged from trees, church steeples and clocks, tall poles, cliff faces, to just stuck in the ground). Governments collected the temperatures typically for military, farming, and shipping purposes.

The U.S. Weather Bureau, established in 1735, was sporadically managed by a few individual states (rather than the Federal Government). The bureau collected local information - not global.

In 1814, the U.S. Federal Government established the U.S.’s first nation wide weather service. Army doctors and ‘war’ hospitals were instructed to keep diaries of local weather. But, again, this was not a global system.

In 1870, President Ulysses Grant established the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS):

The beginning of the National Weather Service we know today started on February 9th, 1870, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed a joint resolution of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to establish a national weather service. This resolution required the Secretary of War:

to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories…and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms

After much thought and consideration, it was decided that this agency would be placed under the Secretary of War because military discipline would probably secure the greatest promptness, regularity, and accuracy in the required observations. Via NOAA

The NWS worked internationally. It collected data from its own instruments, and also from data shared by other countries, such as Denmark, France, India, and the U.K.

The NWS’s information was collected over time, and digitized into big data sets. These sets are used today!

The chart below shows temperature data over 1,000 years. (NOTE: This chart is from wikipedia entry “Temperature record of the past 1,000 years." I do not endorse this chart. I’m posting for illustrative purposes to help answer anon’s question about records from 1880).

Note the black line (far right). It shows collected instrument data from 1850 to 2004. Data prior to 1850 is collected by climate proxies.


Finally, if you’re interested, you can read about the weather data sets collected in the 1850s. This paper, Uncertainty estimates in regional and global observed temperature changes: a new dataset from 1850, covers the history of that data, as well as issues with using it in modern climate models.

Hope that helps!



Do you know of key journal articles, open access or not, for getting a science inclined person acquainted with the climate change response field? i.e. not focused on super technical details but also not hand waving?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi unstable-equilibria!

Sorry for the epic delay and happy 2014! Go with these three:

  1. Bookmark and read often. It’s written by some of the top climate scientists in the world, and there is nearly zero hand-waving or advocacy. Just the facts.
  2. IPCC Fifth Assessment. Hands down the best climate science on the planet.
  3. U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Little known, the USGCRP is the US government’s climate science program. It’s was established by law in 1990. They publish tons of climate science that’s easy to read. Their reports contain great bibliographies, too.

These are the best of the best. There are a ton of rabbit holes to get lost in on the above sites, so I advise taking a gentle-but-steady approach - focus on reading one report per month rather than click click clicking your way around… 

Keep in touch and let me know how it goes over the next year…