Climate change, science and activism


This 23 May 2019 video from New Zealand says about itself:

Students skip school for climate change strike

Thousands of children called on adults to get real about climate change in mass protests around the country today

From Penn State university in the USA:

Marching [against] climate change may sway people’s beliefs and actions

May 23, 2019

Americans have a long tradition of taking to the streets to protest or to advocate for things they believe in. New research suggests that when it comes to climate change, these marches may indeed have a positive effect on the public.

A team including Penn State researchers found that people tended to be more optimistic about people’s ability to work together to address climate change and have better impressions of people who participated in marches after the March for Science and the People’s Climate March in the spring of 2017.

Janet Swim, professor of psychology at Penn State, said the findings suggest that climate change marches can have positive effects on bystanders.

“Marches serve two functions: to encourage people to join a movement and to enact change,” Swim said. “This study is consistent with the idea that people who participate in marches can gain public support, convince people that change can occur, and also normalize the participants themselves.”

Swim added that recent research has shown that marches are becoming more prevalent in the US, not just [against] climate change but for many issues. She and her coauthors, Nathaniel Geiger from Indiana University, and Michael Lengieza from Penn State, were interested in learning more about whether marches are effective at changing psychological predictors of joining movements.

“There are several measures that predict people engaging and taking action in the future,” Swim said. “One of those is collective efficacy — the belief that people can work together to enact change. People don’t want to do something if it’s not going to have an effect. We were interested in whether marches increased this sense of efficacy, that once you see other people do something, you might think yes, it’s possible.”

For the study, the researchers recruited 587 bystanders — people who did not participate in the march but observed it through the media. 302 participants completed a survey the day before the March for Science held on April 22, 2017, and 285 completed a survey several days after the People’s Climate March held on April 29, 2017.

The surveys asked participants how much they knew about the marches, their impressions of the people who participated in the marches, and whether they believed people could work together to reduce climate change, among other measures.

“Activists are often seen negatively — that they’re arrogant or eccentric or otherwise outside of the norm,” Swim said. “There’s a fine line between marchers and other activists expressing themselves and raising awareness of their cause, while also not confirming negative stereotypes. So, one of our questions was whether marches increase or decrease people’s negative impressions of marchers.”

Because the researchers were also interested in how media coverage contributed to outcomes, they also noted the participants’ preferred news sources and coded whether the sources were generally more conservative or liberal.

The researchers found that after the People’s Climate March, study participants were more optimistic about people’s ability to work together to address climate change — referred to as collective efficacy beliefs. They also found that study participants had less negative opinions of marchers after the march.

Additionally, the researchers found that participants who regularly consumed news from conservative media had more collective efficacy beliefs and intent to take action after the marches. Those who regularly got news from liberal media tended to have less negative impressions of marchers, particularly among those who reported having heard about the marches.

Swim said that because they controlled for such factors as political affiliation and beliefs, these changes were likely due to the way their preferred media sources portrayed the marches before and after the events.

“If conservative news sources only talk the march after the fact, that might be why their viewers have more efficacy afterwards, because they didn’t know about it before,” Swim said. “Additionally, a more liberal news source may portray marchers as more sympathetic, which may be why their viewers had more favorable impressions of marchers.”

In future, Swim said she would like to further study how news and other media sources contribute to people’s beliefs about climate change. For example, a content analysis that helps tease apart whether it is how much coverage a march gets that contributes to changes in beliefs or whether it is how the marches and marchers are portrayed that matters.

Nathaniel Geiger, Assistant Professor of Environmental Communications from Indiana University, Michael L. Lengieza, graduate student in Psychology from Penn State, and also participated in this work.

This video is called Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment. Documentary 2018 HD.

From the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center in the USA:

GRACE data contribute to understanding of climate change

Expanded investigation through 2021 to be highly dependent on TACC supercomputing systems

May 23, 2019

The University of Texas at Austin team that led a twin satellite system launched in 2002 to take detailed measurements of the Earth, called the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), reports in the most recent issue of the journal Nature Climate Change on the contributions that their nearly two decades of data have made to our understanding of global climate patterns.

Among the many contributions that GRACE has made:

  • GRACE recorded three times the mass of ice lost in the polar and mountainous regions since first beginning measurements — a consequence of global warming.
  • GRACE enabled a measure of the quantity of heat added to the ocean and the location for said heat that remains stored in the ocean. GRACE has provided detailed observations, confirming that the majority of the warming occurs in the upper 2,000 meters of the oceans.
  • GRACE has observed that of the 37 largest land-based aquifers, 13 have undergone critical mass loss. This loss, due to both a climate-related effect and an anthropogenic (human-induced) effect, documents the reduced availability of clean, fresh water supplies for human consumption.
  • The information gathered from GRACE provides vital data for the federal agency United States Drought Monitor and has shed light on the causes of drought and aquifer depletion in places worldwide, from India to California.

Intended to last just five years in orbit for a limited, experimental mission to measure small changes in the Earth’s gravitational fields, GRACE operated for more than 15 years and has provided unprecedented insight into our global water resources, from more accurate measurements of polar ice loss to a better view of the ocean currents, and the rise in global sea levels. The mission was a collaboration between NASA and the German Aerospace Centre and was led by researchers in the Center for Space Research (CSR) in UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering.

UT’s Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) has played a critical role in this international project over the last 15 years, according to Byron Tapley, the Clare Cockrell Williams Centennial Chair Emeritus in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics who established the Center for Space Research at UT in 1981 and who served as principal investigator of the GRACE mission.

“As the demand for the GRACE science deliverables have grown, TACC’s ability to support these demands have grown. It has been a seamless transition to a much richer reporting environment,” he said.

By measuring changes in mass that cause deviations in the strength of gravity’s pull on the Earth’s various systems — water systems, ice sheets, atmosphere, land movements, and more — the satellites can measure small changes in the Earth system interactions.

“By monitoring the physical components of the Earth’s dynamical system as a whole, GRACE provides a time variable and holistic overview of how our oceans, atmosphere and land surface topography interact,” Tapley said.

The data system for the mission is highly distributed and requires significant data storage and computation through an internationally distributed network. Although the final data products for the CSR solutions are generated at TACC, there is considerable effort in Germany by the Geophysics Center in Potsdam and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The final CSR analysis at TACC starts with a data downlink from the satellites to a raw data collection center in Germany. The data is then transmitted to JPL where the primary measurements are converted into the geophysical measurements consisting of GPS, accelerometer, attitude quaternions, and the high accuracy intersatellite ranging measurements collected by each satellite during a month-long observation span.

“The collection of information from this international community are brought together by the fundamental computing capability and the operational philosophy at TACC to undergo the challenging data analysis required to obtain the paradigm-shifting view of the Earth’s interactions,” Tapley said.

Despite being a risky venture operating on minimal funding, the GRACE mission surpassed all expectations and continues to provide a critical set of measurements.

“The concept of using the changing gravimetric patterns on Earth as a means to understanding major changes in the Earth system interactions had been proposed before,” Tapley said. “But we were the first to make it happen at a measurement level that supported the needs of the diverse Earth-science community.”

One of the remarkable benefits of working with TACC, according to Tapley, is the ability to pose questions whose solutions would have not been feasible prior to TACC and to find the capability to answer the questions.

“As an example, when we began the GRACE mission, our capability was looking at gravity models that were characterized by approximately 5,000 model parameters, whose solution was obtained at approximately yearly analysis intervals. The satellite-only GRACE models today are based on approximately 33,000 parameters that we have the ability to determine at a daily interval. In the final re-analysis of the GRACE data, we’re looking to expand this parameterization to 4,000,000 parameters for the mean model. The interaction with TACC has always been in the context of: ‘If the answer to a meaningful question requires extensive computations, let’s find a way to satisfy that requirement,'” Tapley said.

Now that the GRACE Follow-On mission, which the CSR will continue to play a role in, has launched successfully, the chance to continue the GRACE record for a second multi-decadal measurement of changes in mass across the Earth system is possible. Engineers and scientists anticipate that the longer data interval will allow them to see an even clearer picture of how the planet’s climate patterns behave over time.

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