Site: Critical Angle

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Recent Articles

Critical Angle: March 2017, global temperature update

This is a quick update to my temperature graphs based on the latest NASA GISTEMP numbers. First, the monthly anomalies. The March anomaly was 1.12C, the second-warmest March and the fourth-warmest month ever. In the absence of an El Niño, this is quite exceptional. I’ll leave it to the experts to explain why. I have

2017-04-21 15:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: The Globe and Mail “clarifies” its misleading oil sands article

A bungled correction to a Globe and Mail article reveals that the intent was to publish a puff piece on the oil sands, not an objective analysis of the future of bitumen production in the face of serious climate change mitigation. Just over two weeks ago, I wrote a piece critical of an article in

2017-03-27 17:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Global temperature update: February 2017

NASA’s GISTEMP temperature estimates for February 2017 are now out.  February 2017 was the second-warmest February since records began (the first-warmest being in 2016) and was tied for the fourth-warmest monthly anomaly for any month. Here is a plot of all monthly anomalies since 1998. I have coloured the lines for the three recent record

2017-03-16 16:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Keeping oil sands in the ground is not a “charade”

If the world is successful in reducing emissions sufficiently to avoid dangerous climate change, there is a limited future for a prospering oil-sands sector in Canada. The conventional wisdom among the Canadian establishment is that growing the oil-sands business is compatible with meeting national and global emissions commitments. This is a myth that obscures government

2017-03-08 16:30   Click to comment

Critical Angle: 2016 was the warmest year ever measured

A graph that I included in my last monthly surface temperature blog post attracted a lot of attention thanks to a Tweet by Eric Holthaus. Nearly 4,000 retweets is a lot of attention for a blogger like me. The graph was also posted by Joe Romm at Climate Progress and tweeted by Bill McKibben. I

2017-01-18 18:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: In the bleak midwinter

‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s, Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks; The sun is spent, and now his flasks Send forth light squibs, no constant rays; The world’s whole sap is sunk; The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk, Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk, Dead

2016-12-21 20:34   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Global temperature anomalies, 2016 and 2017

I used to do regular monthly global surface temperature updates earlier this year, but I stopped a few months ago. I was getting bored with writing them and I noticed that readers weren’t reading them either. Also, Tamino and Sou do an excellent and timely job on this and I can add little to their

2016-12-20 15:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Justin Trudeau approves two big oil sands pipeline expansions

This piece was first published at Skeptical Science on December 1, 2016 In an announcement on November 29, 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved two new major pipeline expansions for Canadian bitumen. Altogether, the two projects will add over a million barrels per day to Canada’s export capacity. At the same press conference, Trudeau

2016-12-17 16:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Exaggerations in the pipeline

There are a lot of claims about the benefits that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Extension (TMX) pipeline project will supposedly have for BC, and Canada generally. Recently, I listened to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on the CBC the other day making her pitch, emphasizing the economic benefits for BC. Some of what she said made

2016-12-14 14:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: The looming irrelevance of big oil

This a long piece that would probably be better split up into several separate, focussed articles. Never mind, consider it as a rambling, idiosyncratic and opinionated mind-dump on the subject of the future of oil. I may later rewrite parts of it more coherently and rigorously for a wider readership. As I make my way through

2016-11-28 15:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Sensitivity training

This article was originally published online at Corporate Knights Magazine and will appear in the publication’s Fall 2016 hard-copy magazine. It was also previously republished, in part, at Skeptical Science. Climate scientists are certain that human-caused emissions have increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 44 per cent since the Industrial Revolution. Very few of them

2016-10-10 14:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Carbon sequestration in basalts

I have just had a piece published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: ‘We’d have to finish one new facility every working day for the next 70 years’—Why carbon capture is no panacea . I’m not allowed to repost the whole article here, but it is open access on the Bulletin website. I looked again at the

2016-10-05 19:51   Click to comment

Critical Angle: The Madhouse Effect, a review

Climate scientist Michael Mann has teamed up with cartoonist Tom Toles to write The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics and Driving Us Crazy. It’s an excellent book, well-written, authoritative on the science, revealing on the politics and laced with the wit of many superb cartoons. Buy a copy

2016-08-31 15:37   Click to comment

Critical Angle: On and against method and process

There has been a spate of blog articles in recent weeks by Michael Tobis, And Then There’s Physics Victor Venema and Eli Rabett. In part this was sparked by an article in the New York Times misleadingly titled There is no Scientific Method. I’m far from a philosopher of science, so what follows is not rigorous

2016-08-22 14:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Global temperatures anomalies July 2016: still warmer than than ever

The GISTEMP (NASA) data for July 2016 came out a few days ago and the records keep falling. July 2016 was warmer than any July on record by more than one-tenth of a degree.. That makes 10 months in a row of all-time monthly records, although June 2016 has now been revised down by one-hundredth

2016-08-20 02:36   Click to comment

Critical Angle: June 2016 surface temperatures break monthly record, but not by much

NASA has released its global surface temperature anomaly calculation for June 2016 and it sets a new record for June. June 2016 had an anomaly of 0.79°C, edging out the previous record from June 2015 (0.78°C) and the previous record from June 1998( 0.77°C). As the mighty El Niño of 2015/2016 has ended, no longer are

2016-07-20 23:43   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Brexit: Sad!

This a rather personal rant about the recent referendum in Britain on the EU. There’s really nothing to do here with climate change, energy or science, so this is off-topic for this blog. I really have little to add to the many excellent commentaries about what this means for the economy. Read Martin Wolf in

2016-06-25 21:16   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Carbon budgetting

Originally published online at Corporate Knights Magazine on May 18, 2016 and in the hardcopy magazine in June 2016. The Paris Agreement on mitigating climate change seeks to limit emissions with the goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 C above preindustrial levels while also pursuing efforts to

2016-06-18 17:43   Click to comment

Critical Angle: ¡Hasta la vista, el Niño! Surface temperature update for May 2016

The big El Niño goes away, temperature anomalies fall, but records continue to be set. An annual record for 2016 is very likely.

2016-06-14 00:46   Click to comment

Critical Angle: April 2016 temperature anomalies: El Niño starts to fade

The GISTEMP global temperature anomalies are now out for April 2016. The April 2016 anomaly fell by about 0.2 °C from the huge records set in February and March, but this was still this the warmest April on record by a whopping 0.24 °C, the previous record for the month having been set in 2010. The

2016-05-15 01:34   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Jimmy Kimmel does climate change and the 97%

It’s probably obvious from the weird eyes and barely coherent ramblings that Sarah Palin’s brainwashing in Skeptical Science’s secret prison has done some permanent damage. We’re sorry. Nevertheless, she did get one of  her programmed lines nearly right:  “…if 97% of scientists believe that man’s activities are creating changes in the weather then who am…

2016-05-03 19:22   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Consensus on Consensus

Originally published in Corporate Knights Magazine In 1998 and 1999, American scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes published two papers that reconstructed the average temperatures of the northern hemisphere back to the year 1000. The articles showed a temperature profile that gently declined from 1000 to 1850, fluctuating a little along the way,

2016-04-29 17:42   Click to comment

Critical Angle: No global warming since February 2016

Forgive the facetious, click-bait headline. The NASA GISTEMP global temperature anomalies for March are now available. March 2016 had by far the largest temperature anomaly (1.28°C) for any March on record and the second highest anomaly for any month ever, beaten only by February 2016 (1.34°C), hence the snarky headline. Here is the plot of month-by-month

2016-04-15 20:10   Click to comment

Critical Angle: James Powell is wrong about the 99.99% AGW consensus

In a recent article in Skeptical Inquirer, geologist and writer James Lawrence Powell, claims that there is a 99.99% scientific consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). You might think that after all of the harsh criticism that the 2013 Cook et al. paper (C13) has received from climate contrarians that we would be pleased to embrace

2016-04-04 14:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Temperature tantrums on the campaign trail

Originally published at Corporate Knights on March 17, 2016. Sorry Ted Cruz. There’s no conspiracy among scientists to exaggerate global warming by fudging the numbers. Last year was the warmest year recorded since the measurement of global surface temperatures began in the nineteenth century. The second-warmest year ever was 2014. Moreover, because of the persisting

2016-03-21 13:00   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Another startling monthly global temperature record: February 2016

It would be great to put these monthly global temperature updates on pause. After all, analyzing changes from month-to-month tends to  focus too much on weather, when what matters is the long term trend. I was hoping to take a hiatus from making monthly updates and instead just report quarterly. But then the February data

2016-03-13 02:23   Click to comment

Critical Angle: NASA January 2016 temperature update

The NASA GISTEMP global average surface temperature data have been updated to include January 2016, which had the largest monthly temperature anomaly ever recorded: 1.13°Celsius above the 1951-1980 baseline. This is slightly above the  December 2015 anomaly of 1.11°C. The graph shows month-by-month anomalies for selected warm years. In addition, I have added my guess for

2016-02-17 01:40   Click to comment

Critical Angle: Corrections, misties and anomalies

Apologies to all who came here earlier. I mistakenly published this yesterday before it was finished. I don’t read denialist blogs very often. Life is too short. And there are more interesting scientific and policy problems to grapple with than trying to figure out where some guy on Watt’s Up With That, with no background

2016-01-24 23:43   Click to comment

Critical Angle: On corrections, misties and anomalies

I don’t read denialist blogs very often. Life is too short. And there are more interesting scientific and policy problems to grapple with than to figure out where some guy on Watt’s Up With That?, with no background in climate science, gets his facts and reasoning all wrong. Luckily for me, dipping into Sou’s excellent

2016-01-24 01:50   Click to comment

Critical Angle: A global temperature record for 2015

The 2015 data are now in for Nasa’s GISTEMP surface temperature record. (News release, slides, data.) As expected, 2015 is the warmest year in the series. By far. The two warmest years in recorded global history were 2014 and 2015. Fifteen of the sixteen warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. December 2015 was the

2016-01-20 18:00   Click to comment


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