Climate Feedback

This week in Nature

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Alex Witze

This week’s issue of Nature has several news stories related to climate change.

First up, we’ve got a look at the bill introduced recently in the US Congress by Senators Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico) and Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania). It’s the latest in a rush of climate bills that have been coming before Congress in recent months, spurred by the Democratic takeover in January. The Bingaman/Specter plan isn’t as stringent as other bills that would slash emissions more drastically, but has the backing – at least so far – of groups that don’t typically support emissions cuts, like utility companies and labor unions. So some observers think this new bill could form the backbone of an eventual compromise for US climate-change legislation.

It’s hard to keep track of all the bills that are out there these days. Some handy places to check for comparisons are a Senate website and the World Resources Institute chart. We might have put the latter chart into the news story this week, but it used old numbers for a draft version of the Bingaman/Specter bill, and is being updated now with the final version.

Another chart didn’t make the news section this week – that’s a figure appearing in the July 13 issue of Science, in a Perspectives piece by Peter Cox and David Stephenson of the University of Exeter. It’s a simple chart showing how uncertainties in model predictions change over time, with the total uncertainty being the least 30 to 50 years in the future. The Cox/Stephenson paper basically argues that climate model projections need to become more useful and relevant on this time scale; any changes for the next 30 years are essentially already ‘in the system’, and changes after about five decades out are too uncertain to say anything really meaningful about. Focus on that sweet spot, they say, and climate modelers are serving society’s needs better.

The original Science piece is here; our news piece, which also wraps in a tiny bit of the newly-released US Climate Change Science Program report on climate scenarios, is here.

Alex Witze

Senior News and Features Editor



  1. Report this comment

    Oliver K. Manuel said:

    I am pleased to see that Congress is looking into this matter.

    At least they have the authority to address the underlying problem, unlike participants at the recent World Conference on Research Integrity.

    Some participants had impressive titles, e.g., Dr. Christine C. Boesz is head of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at NSF,

    but none had the political clout to address the central problem:

    NAS (the National Academy of Sciences) — a private, self-perpetuating organization — recommends the budgets of federal research funding agencies like NSF, NIH, NASA, DOE, NOAA, etc., to Congress and uses that control over the purse strings to direct research that will support their favorite ideas.

    AGW (anthropologic global warming), the standard model of a hydrogen-filled Sun, oscillating solar neutrinos, the Higgs particle, an expanding universe, and the Big Bang are a few recent examples of this ill-designed science policy.

    NAS’s Golden Rule: “He who has the gold rules” is illustrated by continued adherence to the illusion that Earth’s heat source is a steady Hydrogen-fusion reactor at the core of a Hydrogen-filled Sun, despite

    a.) High-quality experimental data* from three independent measurements [See Figs. 11, 12, and 13 on pp. 11, 12, and 13] showing that the Sun sorts elements by mass, and

    b.) Solar images showing a rigid, Iron-rich structure* beneath the Sun’s fluid, Hydrogen-rich atmosphere [See Figs. 14 and 15, pp. 14 and 15].

    With kind regards,

    Oliver K. Manuel


    *AIP report, “Isotopes tell Sun’s origin and operation”

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