sabato 5 giugno 2010


The Times Online published an article with the title “Rebel scientists force Royal Society to accept climate change scepticism”. Sir Alan Rudge is one of the leaders of the rebellion who gathered signatures on a petition sent to Lord Rees, the society president. The society has been accused by 43 (a very small number respect to the 1300 society Fellows) of its Fellows of refusing to accept different views on climate change. Sir Rudge, an electrical engineer, is a society Fellow and currently is a member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic organisation.
Let discuss about this issue with an open mind. The Sir Rudge remarks are methodological. He said “.. there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.”. Indeed, the science is always open to accept demonstrations and evidences that the current theories are wrong: Popper called that “the falsification of the science”. Nevertheless, no scientists would negate the Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity because the atomic clock measurements in the space have some measurement errors and therefore, in the future, the theory can be proven wrong. The position of Sir Rudge is equivalent to negate the Theory of Special Relativity because “there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements”. That position is a scientific non-sense. However, this discussion can not be restricted to the science philosophy, since the climate changes affect the life and the economy of entire populations while the regulation of the greenhouse gas (in particular CO2) emissions can affect the profits of some big corporations. Therefore, I would like to know who provides funds to the he Global Warming Policy Foundation, the foundation where Sir Rudge is an advisor. USA associations negating climate changes were discovered, by the Union of Concerned Scientists, to get funds from oil corporations, that are large emitters of CO2 (see here ). The conflict of interests, in that case, was evident.
IPCC, 33 Academies and more than 20 Professional Associations stated that the climate changes are due to the greenhouse emissions from human activities. There is a large scientific consensus on that issue. What does scientific consensus mean? The true experts of climate science totally agree on that (see [1] and [2]). The evidence of global warming and related effects are unequivocal. For example:
1. the global temperature is increasing ( see here)
2. the sea ice is decreasing (see here)
3. The glaciers are disappearing (see here)
4. The sea level is increasing(see here ), and entire islands are at risk to disappear in the future

All the evidences are based on measurements, not opinions. It would be nice to know the scientific point of view of the people signed that request, as Dr. Ward correctly pointed out. Otherwise, the entire story would be quite bizarre.
I posted, few days ago, a comment to the original article of Times Online,with the same contents of this post. They have not published it.

[1] Oreskes, N., 2004, Beyond the ivory tower: The scientific consensus on climate
change, Science, December.
[2] Doran P, Kendall Zimmermann M, Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, EOS, Volume 90 Number 3, 20 January 2009

lunedì 26 aprile 2010


Stuart Scott, the executive director of the Climate Summit, requested to me to be the National Coordinator for Italy of The Climate Summit. Of course, I accepted and I promptly created a group on facebook. The group is grown and, after one week, has 60 people. If you have some italian friend that is interested to the environmental problems, please, tell him to come here.

sabato 10 aprile 2010


An important event will occur on Friday ,April 16: the first on-line climate summit where will be possible to participate interactively from home!!! Rajendra Pachaur, Chair of the IPCC, the organisation received the Nobel Price for the Peace, will be there. Let's participate all of us!! To know more, go here

domenica 24 gennaio 2010


This is the first of posts dedicated to describe the main factors driving the warming and climate changes of the Earth. I wull start with the most intuitive of all: the albedo. The Earth and its atmosphere intercept the solar electromagnetic radiation (this radiation “transports” heat and the visible light is only a part of it) and reflect a fraction, called albedo, in the outer space. The Earth becomes colder if the albedo increases, since the quantity of absorbed radiation decreases. Viceversa, the Earth become warming if the albedo decreases: indeed, the absorbed solar radiation increases. In summary: the Earth become cooler if the albedo increases while the Earth become warmer if the albedo decreases. Let’s analyse some natural causes and after let see how the man actions can change the albedo, with consequences on the terrestial temperature and clime.
The snow reflects almost all the solar radiation. Therefore, when the snow melt the albedo decreases and, as a consequence, the temperature increases (remember that when the albedo decreases the temperature increases). The increase of temperature causes the melting of other snow, with further temperature increases. This phenomenon continues until termodynamic equilibrium is reached, but the consequence is an overall increase of the temperature and a further glacier melting. On the contrary, the clouds reflect the solar radiation, contributing to globally increase the albed and to cool the Earth. The aerosols (the particles in the atmposhere caused by natural events, like the volcan eruptions and the sandstorms, or by the man caused pollution) reflect the solar radation, increasing the albedo, also if the reflective power changes as function of it composition.
The antropogenic (i.e. due to the mankind) activities of disforest and agricolture can decrease the albed and, therefore, increase the global temperature. For instance, the trees of the tropical forests are cut and replaced by more black soil for cultivation purposes. In this case, the absorbed solar radiation increases (the darkest colors absorb it while the white reflect the solar radiation) and the temperature increases. The bad management and disforest of lands can contribute to the terrestrial temperature increases. Some satellite images show the city areas with dark building colour are hotter than city areas with gardes and trees, as for the dark soil of the forest. Therefore, the urbanistic policy and the architectural choices can influence the Earth warming. In the next post, I will discuss of this topic: the Urban Islands of Heat.

martedì 22 dicembre 2009


The agreement among the head of states and governments (the small capital letter is needed) reached at the Climate Change Conferenze in Copenagher is a no-agreement. I have never seen a usefuless document like that. The agreement is composed of 12 clauses, for a total of only 3 pages (the Kyoto protocol and the Montreal Agreement have respectively 18 and 45 pages plus annexes) and two annexes COMPLETELY VOIDS, without a single word !! If we would not speak about a planetary problem, we could joke by telling that there was more participating nations than the rows written in the document. Let perform a short analysis of the agreement.
In the first clause, the document underlines that the climate change is a challenge and that, to avoid anthropogenic problems, the long term cooperation among the nations shall be enhanced (an obvious recommendation). The document also recognizes (fortunately) the scientific point of vies that the temperature increasing should (please, not the conditional) be under 2 Celsius degree. What else? In the second clause, all agree (fortunately) that deep cuts in the emission are required, with a “ view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius”, but the nations “should cooperate in achieving the peaking of GLOBAL AND NATIONAL EMISSIONS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE” (the capital letters are mine). Two things are sure: the greenhouse gas emission will increase and we don’t know for how long time. Moreover, for the developing countries it is recognized that “the time frame for peaking will be longer “. The problem is that in the developing countries list there is also the China, the main CO2 emitter with the USA. And what about if Chine becomes a developed country? It would still be authorized to emit as a developing nations? This is a non-sense clause. In the third clause, the countries indicate that are required “Enhanced action and international cooperation on adaptation ….. to ensure the implementation of the Convention by enabling and supporting the implementation of adaptation actions aimed at reducing vulnerability and building resilience in developing countries, … especially least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa. “ This is a non sense either, at least for the islands. How can save the small islands from the sea level increasing? Building fortress around the islands and destroying their value? Anoter non-sense in the agreement is the division in nations that accept to cut the emissions, indicating the quantity of their 2020 emission reduction, and nations that, on the contrary, will implement some not well defined “mitigation actions”, not subject to international control: this nation will only notify (to who is not written) their emission. In other words, some nations would be induced to distort their data of the emission. The agreements end with same clauses dealing with the money to developing countries (30 billion of dollars in the time frame 2010-2012 with the goal to mobilize jointly 100 billion dollars per year by 2020. What we can say? The risk is that, with this agreement, nothing will happen. The scientific community via the l’International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assesment Report, indicates that the temperature trend, in the last 25 years, has been of a 0.17 Celsius degree increase. Therefore, in order to comply with the agreement, it would be sufficient to maintain the emission growth from 1993 to today. The developing countries (China first of all) could try to increase their emission in spite of the emission decrease of the developed countries. Moreover, the small islands asked to have a CO2 concentration of 350 ppm. The problem is that, with the current trends, the IPCC indicates an increase of CO2 emission equal to 1.4 ppm per year and, therefore, the CO2 concentration in 2020 will be largely more than 400 ppm, with problems of submersions of the small islands. The agreement is distressing, it was only a theater for the head of nations and governments. The only serious voice has been, for me, the California Governor Schwarzenegger (a right party exponent), who said that no agreement is possible without a bottom-up involvement: not only governments but also NGOs, Regions, People, Society. Those are words that would induce the world leader to re-think their role and their political view.

giovedì 17 dicembre 2009


Finally, something of official is known in Copenaghen. The USA proposes a cut of 17% of the greenhouse gas by 2020 and give 10 billion of dollars to the developing countries for the technologies. What would be the environmental impact of this data? Minimum. Let’s calculate the temperature reduction if a reduction of 17% of the CO2 only would occur: since the US proposal deal with the 17% of all the greenhouse gases, the temperature reduction will be less than the value that we will obtain for CO2. Let’s calculate the value. The emission of CO2 for 2020, if all the countries would follow the US in the 17% of reduction, would be 48464 millions of metric tons, while in 2006 the value was 58319 (see previous post). Figure 1 shows the emission breakdown and the difference between 2020 end 2006 emissions: the difference is so small that I will not show on the figure.

In the previous post, we have seen that with the hypothesis of of 40% (for rich countries) -30% (for emerging countries) CO2 emission reduction , the emission level would have been the same of 1984. With the scenario of 17% reduction, the value of emission are those of 1998. The concentration of CO2 for that year was 366.50 ppm, accordiong to the Mauna Loa data. Therefore , if we apply the same calculation of the first post(see box below) , we obtain a decrease of temperature in 2020 (w.r.t. 2006) of 0.17 celsius degree. But, since in the US proposal the 17% of emission is related to ALL THE GREENHOUSE GAS, the reduction of the CO2 will be lower than that value, and the temperature decrease will be lower of 0.17 degree. A POOR RESULT!!! This proposal is insufficient and is in contrast with the request of the small island state, wich required an emission of CO2 of 350 ppm by 2020: that request was satisfied with the scenario of 40% reduction of CO2 emission (see previous post). Mr Obama, please: cut the emission of the 40% percentage, and think to the future of your daughters (also).

domenica 13 dicembre 2009


Some news, reported in Italy by Sky Tg24, describes an UN draft agreement proposing the following: 1) the “rich countries” shall reduce the CO2 emissions in the range of 20-40 % by 2020; 2) the developing countries shall reduce the CO2 emission in the range of 15%-30%; 3) all the nations shall cooperate to decrease the CO2 emission of 75%-90% by 2050. In this blog, I will provide an emission analysis and an estimate of the temperature reduction in 2020 in case the UN proposal should be accepted. Elaborating the International Energy Annual 2006 data of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the total 2006 anthropic CO2 emission was 58391 metric tons. If we subdivide the emission for each continent, we obtain what is show in figure 1.

North America, Asia & Oceania contributes for more than 62% to the CO2 emission, while Europe and Eurasia contribute togheter for a little bit more than North America. The following table shows the relevant 2006 emissions. USA emits the 85% of its continent emission, while

China, India, Japan e South Korea emit more than 80% of the Asia & Oceania emission. Russia emits around 66% of the Eurasia emission. Europe performs better: the four main countries emit only the 49% of the Old Continent emissions. To calculate the temperature reduction in case of the best scenario (reduction of 40% for “rich” countries and 30% of developing countries) , let’s calculate first the emissions in this scenario. Let’s assume that the countries which will perform a 40% reduction are the following: all the European Countries, Japan, Russia and North America. With this hypothesys, we obtain the values in fig. 2.

The total value of the CO2 anthropomorphic emissions will be 37721 million of tons, with a reduction of near 35% w.r.t. the 2006 emissions. In this scenario, the pollution percentage are equal to the 2006 percentages. First of all, in ordert to estimate the temperature change, let’s note that the value in the 2020 CO2 emissions is near equal to the global emissions in 1984 (38338 million of metric tons, see figure 3).

Let assume that the CO2 distribution among ocean, atmosphere and biosphere is the same. In this way, we can assume that the percentage of CO2 in atmosphere in 2020 will be the same of 1984. The Mauna Loa data shows that the CO2 concentration values in the atmosphere in the 1984 and 2006 are 344.41 ppm and 381.85 ppm respectively. Therefore, for the hypothesis, the C2020 O2 concentration will be 344.41 ppm. After some calculations (see the box) , we obtain

that the temperature, due to the deacrease of the CO2 concentration, will deacreas of 0.44 degree (assuming, according to IPCC AR, that a double of the CO2 concentration will have the effect of increase the temperatore of 3 degree) . The temperature value is low: a decrease of near half degree in 14 years. However, since the temperature trend in the last year has been to increase of 0.117 degree per decade, the 0.44 decrease is a good change in the trend. Moreover, this results show that the scenario proposed by UN could reflect the value of 350 ppm that, according to some news, the Association for the Small Island States and some other countries have requested, and should also satisfy the rich or “potentially rich” countries, since they maintain their developing percentage. However, I see a lot of unknows: how to arrive to a decreas of 2 degree and, in particular, which plans will be used to reach that goal of a decrease of 90% of CO2 emissions by 2050? Moreover, the percentage of the CO2 emission in 2020 for each continent will be, according to our analysi, the same of 2006. This imply the same distribution of people, and the same energetic needs. What about in case of migration due to the current climate change? How the developing countries will obtain the technologies to decrease the CO2 emissions? Will they immediately decrease the CO2 emissions? If the countries do not act in this direction, the obtained values will be very optimistics. In other words, the definition of the agreement requirement is not sufficient: the countries shall undertake to act immediately, whitout wait long acting times that will nullify the positive effect of the choice.