Berkeley Earth was created to address potential biases in the land surface temperature record. We are now expanding our scientific explorations, educating and communicating about climate change, and evaluating mitigation efforts in developing and developed economies.
FURTHER SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION
Our main scientific effort continues to be the exploration and expansion of our database and the results of our temperature analysis.
We have begun a study of the variability of temperature, and the rate of occurrence of extreme events. Extreme events include heat waves, which are expected to become more frequent due both to global warming and to the urban heat island effects. Such an event occurred in Chicago in 1995 and led to an excess of about 750 heat-wave related deaths. Equally important may be the effects that global warming will have on cold waves. City planners need to understand what to expect at both extremes.
Although warming is expected to lead to more heat waves, it is not clear whether the variability – difference between high temperatures and low temperatures – will change. Although some prior studies have suggested that it does, our preliminary work shows that the range of temperature extremes (difference between hottest and coldest days) is remaining remarkably constant, even as the temperature rose over the past 50 years. Memos describing these preliminary results were posted on our website in early 2013. Additional analysis will test these initial conclusions and we expect to be able reduce the error uncertainties and reach stronger conclusions.
We will continue with exploratory data analysis (a statistical method developed by John Tukey), and we will share our results with the public in the forms of memos posted online and of papers submitted to peer reviewed journals.
EDUCATION & COMMUNICATION
Berkeley Earth has addressed the five major concerns raised by skeptics, and concluded that global warming is real and best explained by human greenhouse gas emissions. We will work to bring opposing sides together to agree on these core findings. In our experience, many of the proponents on both sides of global warming are indeed open-minded, but they have not heard compelling answers to their questions; sometimes their objections are dismissed as ignorant or biased, when in fact the issues they raise are (or were) valid. Our approach is to address all issues with respect and objectivity.
A similar objectivity is essential for mitigation proposals. Too often the technology proposed as a “solution” for global warming either won’t help or is too expensive to be implemented in the developing world, where most of the future greenhouse emissions will originate. It is important not to let ideology or an exaggerated optimism for a particular technology detract from solutions that have greater potential on a global scale. Berkeley Earth is well positioned to provide objective analysis of proposed mitigation efforts.
The mitigation efforts of Berkeley Earth are aimed at objective analysis of proposed programs to limit or reduce greenhouse missions. We emphasis the need to achieve clean energy within a realistic and affordable framework in the developing world, whereemissions are growing most rapidly. Natural gas, if produced cleanly, might be a practical and achievable bridging technology while we bring down the price of renewables to the point where they can be competitive with coal in the developing world. The Berkeley Earth vision for greenhouse gas mitigation centers on expediting theChinese transition away from coal to natural gas, but only if it can be done in a clean way. In particular, we need to guarantee that fugitive emissions (leaked natural gas) are kept below an acceptable level, perhaps 1%.