Since the 2016 election, there has been much discussion of "fake news" -- false stories propagated over social media, usually with a political slant. But climate researchers have been all too familiar with this phenomenon for much longer, pushing back against media reports that push unscientific claims and distorted portrayals of the climate change "debate." So it's no surprise that this same scientific community is leading the charge against unreliable science articles, with a new initiative that drafts researchers into volunteer fact-checking.
Last month, the Obama Administration and the EPA released a new plan to reduce carbon emissions from U.S. power plants in the hopes of ameliorating the effects of climate change. But the plan's call for increased use of natural gas stirred controversy in some environmental circles, given concerns about the consequences of fracking and the release of methane gas into the atmosphere from burning natural gas.
There's a new debate heating up in the world of climate modeling -- not the fictitious "debate" that plays out in the media over climate change and its causes, but a contest over the best methods to forecast how climate change will affect the planet. Until now, the dominant approach has been deterministic models, which use environmental variables and equations replicating physical laws to run numerical simulations of climate. But as these models seek higher and higher resolution, they become extremely expensive computationally, without much improvement in forecasting accuracy.
Under the specter of a warmer future, scientists must study the downstream effects of climate change on humans, including the impact on agriculture, the economy, and society. But the scale of global climate models and regional models of agriculture, hydrology, and other sectors may be orders of magnitude apart, forcing researchers to find novel methods of closing that gap.
Tonight, the Chicago Council on Science & Technology presents a panel called The Multiplication of Threats: Climate Change & the Risks to National Security, where military officers, political experts, and RDCEP co-director Elisabeth Moyer will discuss how global changes in climate might cause political instability, mass human migration, drought, famine, and other crises that could threaten the United States in addition to warmer temperatures and rising sea levels. To promote the event, Moyer appeared on WTTW's Chicago Tonight with retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, and Andrew Holland, senior fellow for Energy and Climate from the American Security Project.
A warmer world is expected to have severe consequences for global agriculture and food supply, reducing yields of major crops even as population and demand increases. Now, a new analysis combining climate, agricultural, and hydrological models finds that shortages of freshwater used for irrigation could double the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture.