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[Episode #40] – Climate Science Part 2 – Taking Planetary Temperatures

In this second episode of our mini-series on climate science, we begin to dive a bit deeper on narrower subjects, starting with a look at how we take the Earth’s temperature, on land, on the sea surface, and deeper in the ocean depths. Along the way, we discuss temperature measurements at the heart of the “Climategate” nothingburger, the 2013 “Pausebuster” paper proving the supposed “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming trends didn’t actually happen, and a recent kerfuffle over that paper. We also find out if the melting of permafrost and undersea methane clathrates could lead the planet into runaway global warming, and discuss some research on the net emissions effect of switching from coal to gas in power generation, including the thorny issue of fugitive emissions from natural gas production and distribution. And finally, we’ll take another look at the question of decoupling economic growth from energy consumption, and how emissions are counted in the first place. After listening to this interview, you’ll be well-equipped to listen critically to both the latest scientific findings on global temperatures, and to the arguments of global warming skeptics. Plus, we’ll talk about the implications of Trump’s proposed budget, which would gut the very agencies that deliver these crucial scientific measurements.

Geek rating: 6

Guest: Zeke Hausfather is a research scientist at Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit research group, and a PhD student with the Energy and Resources Group at U.C. Berkeley. He was previously the VP of Energy Science at Essess, Inc, an energy efficiency startup that develops vehicle mounted thermal imaging systems, the senior climate analyst at Project Drawdown, the chief scientist at C3 Energy, and the cofounder and chief scientist of Efficiency 2.0, a behavior-based energy efficiency company. His research focuses on improving observational estimates of global temperatures, climate model/observation comparisons, and climate impacts of energy systems.

On Twitter: @hausfath

On the Web:

Zeke Hausfather’s Google Scholar page

Zeke Hausfather’s page at Berkeley Earth

Recording date: March 17, 2017

Air date: April 5, 2017


Zeke Hausfather, “Guest post: On Baselines and Buoys,”...and Then There's Physics blog. (Feb 12, 2017)

David Rose, “Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data,” The Daily Mail. (February 4, 2017)

Zeke Hausfather, et al., “Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature records,” Science Advances, Vol. 3, no. 1, January 2017. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601207

Zeke Hausfather, “Factcheck: Mail on Sunday’s ‘astonishing evidence’ about global temperature rise,” Carbon Brief. (Feb 5, 2017)

Robert Sanders, “Global warming hiatus disproved—again,” UC Berkeley News. (Jan 4, 2017)

Zeke Hausfather, “Bounding the climate viability of natural gas as a bridge fuel to displace coal,” Energy Policy, Volume 86, November 2015, Pages 286-294, ISSN 0301-4215.

Morgan Lee, “Regulator links Southwest methane cloud to natural seeps,” Associated Press.  (Mar 8, 2017)

Sen. Tom Udall press release, “Udall Responds to EPA Halting Data Collection on Methane Emissions.” (Mar 3, 2017)

Zeke Hausfather, “Explaining and Understanding Declines in U.S. CO2 Emissions,” Berkeley Earth. (Jul 2013)

Brad Plumer, "A closer look at how rich countries 'outsource' their CO2 emissions to poorer ones," Vox. (Apr 18, 2017)

Chelsea Harvey, “The world’s oceans are storing up staggering amounts of heat — and it’s even more than we thought,” The Washington Post. (Mar 10, 2017)

International Energy Agency, “IEA finds CO2 emissions flat for third straight year even as global economy grew in 2016.” (Mar 17, 2017)

Brad Plumer, “5 ways to think about the remarkable slowdown in global CO2 emissions,” Vox. (Mar 21, 2017), “European Transmission System Operators to Develop North Sea Wind Power Hub,” State of Green. (Mar 9, 2017)

Gerard Wynn, “UK’s French Connection shows: cross-border links are the way to go,” Energy Post. (Mar 16, 2017)

Charlie Brennan, “Trump budget cuts could be 'devastating' for NOAA scientists in Boulder,”

Glenn Thrush and Coral Davenport, “Donald Trump Budget Slashes Funds for E.P.A. and State Department,” New York Times. (Mar 15, 2017)