Friday, May 31, 2013

More Fun With Ice Spikes

Per this Caltech page on ice spikes, I tried freezing distilled water in an ice cube tray. I didn't get any of the impressive needles seen on this page, or anything like yesterday, but I did get a stubby little growth, seen here in the front right:

I also heard a rustling of ice a few minutes ago, and I think it was the cube seen above on the left, which had cracked and lifted out of its container. 

It has an interesting indentation on its top, about the size of your thumb from the base of your fingernail to the end of the thumb:


This ice cube tray is more rigid than the blue one I used yesterday (which still has its spiked cube); perhaps that makes a difference. I'll try distilled water in the blue one and see what happens.

U.S. Unlikely to Meet Obama's Copenhagen Pledge

In the Washington Post, Brad Plumer writes that "coal is making a comeback in 2013," and gives this just updated chart from the EIA:


It seems likely due to a recent, steady rise in natural gas prices:

1 Year Natural Gas Prices - Natural Gas Price Chart

and fracking looks unlikely to lead to much more reduction in CO2 emissions;


Note the small "X" in the chart, indicating the 17% emissions cut by 2020 (below 2005 levels) that President Obama pledged at Copenhagen. Doesn't look like we're going to be hitting that....

Right now US emissions for the past 12 months are at 5.304 Mt CO2/yr, down 732 Mt CO2/yr (12.1%) from their peak. Per capita emissions are at 16.9 t CO2/yr, down a whopping 25% from their December 1973 level of 22.3 t CO2/yr. (That's as far back as the EIA monthly data goes, though I'm sure there is annual data somewhere.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Please Explain This

Update: As William Connolley points out in the comments, these are a phenomena known as "ice spikes." More here and here.
Please, someone explain this to me: for the second time in a month, there is a strange growth on my ice cubes:

It's a near-verticle sliver extending upwards. I filled the ice cube tray with water (cold water, I think), and put it in the freezer about 2-3 hours ago. I happened to look in and found this, which is similar to one I saw a month ago, though that one wasn't as long.

Here's another view:

The only thing above the tray are some frozen pieces of chicken wrapped in aluminum foil -- well frozen, since I put them in about two days ago. I don't see any drips from them.

As you can see, there is another, smaller growth in the front left of the tray:

What the heck is going on?

Another Movie Gets Climate Change Wrong

Knowing the blogosphere, there will probaby a kerfuffle about the upcoming movie After Earth, or at least some shots at point-scoring.

Debuting June 7th, it stars Will Smith and his son Jaden, who play a father and son who crash land on Earth a thousand years after a diaspora that took place 60 years from now, because the planet had became uninhabitable. But it apparently includes some sketchy science, including about rapid climate shifts. Science magazine writes, this week:

So of the three movies I can think of that somehow involved climate change -- the abysmal The Day After Tomorrow, Waterworld (where somehow the planet contained enough ice that when global warming melted it all, the only land that remained was the tip of Mt. Everest), and now After Earth -- all have seriously perverted the science for the sake of story telling.

Well, Soylent Green mentions the greenhouse effect, but it wasn't central to the plot. I guess.

Maybe someday someone will make a real movie about a realistic scenario that centers around the future with a changed climate. Meanwhile, if you ignore its science, After Earth actually looks pretty good:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Joke of a Congressional Hearing

You would think that a Congressional hearing on climate change would include the best scientists the nation had to offer.

Alas, you would be a fool.

Instead, it includes a couple of them, with the rest a ragtag group of people you either never heard of, or, have heard of and laughed at.

Tomorrow, Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV) is to hold a hearing on climate change in Fairmont, West Virginia. (That's a location sure to garner a lot of media attention.)

He has a couple of good scientists on his panel:
  • Jim Hurrell, Director, NCAR Earth System Laboratory.
  • A. Scott Denning, Professor, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University.
  • Dr. John Christy, Distinguished Professors of atmospheric science, and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
although to be honest I am still concerned about John Christy, who in his last testimony hawked the ridiculous Anthony Watts "study" on US temperatures that was by no means real science -- it had been merely posted on a blog just a day or two earlier, and it hasn't been heard from since.

And then, the hearing includes a bunch of...activists, who have scant qualifications to be advising the nation on climate change, and whose response is already totally predicatable:
  • Annie Petsonk, International Counsel of Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Marc Morano, Executive Director and Chief Correspondent for; former senior advisor, speech-writer and climate researcher for Senator James Inhofe.
  • Myron Ebell, Director of Energy and Environment, Competitive Enterprise Institute.
  • Dennis Avery, Director, Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute and author of “Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years”.
  • Sarah Forbes, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute.

Morano is "Chief Correspondent" for his own Web site -- impressive! Very impressive.....

I am "Lord Correspondent" for my own blog -- surely that ought to get me a invitation or three, right?

What a fucking joke.

A Good Day for Science in America

No matter how bad your day was, at least there was this:

And it was a "+1" for science in America.... Remember this?
"There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design," she said.
Or this?
There was the time in 2011 when Bachmann interpreted Hurricane Irene and an earthquake felt along the East Coast as God's warnings to politicians. A year later, as Florida braced for Tropical Storm Isaac, she said, "We are looking at a spiritual hurricane in our land."
And, of course, this
“I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine that injection and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”
Not to mention, this:
“Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” 
Good riddance, Michele Bachmann. You were an embarassement to yourself, but even worse, to America. 

Now please, stay away. Far, far away.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Today's CBS "Face the Nation" Segment

Today's CBS Face the Nation segment on "Extreme weather patterns and the possible role of climate change" is actually pretty good -- measured, fair, not sensationalistic, and not dismissive (at all). The participants --  WFOR Chief Meteorologist David Bernard, Climate Central's Chief Climatologist Heidi Cullen, TIME Magazine's Jeffrey Kluger and American Meteorological Society President Marshall Shepherd -- did not go beyond the science and did not ignore it, either. In particular, the show did not attempt to present a 50-50 view as if it were a fair division of the scientific argument -- they made it clear these current weather events are taking place in a fundamentally different environment than they once did. Well worth watching. Kudos.

N.b.: Except the host, Bob Schieffer, could have asked better, less repetative questions. But then he knows hit audience better than me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"The Struggle for Dominion Over the Earth..."

"The time is coming when the struggle for dominion over the earth will be carried on. It will be carried on in the name of fundamental philosophical doctrines."

-- Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882
(From the frontispiece to Clive Hamilton's new book Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering (recommended))

A New Hurricane Metric

The huge amount of damage done by Hurricane Sandy -- about $75 billion, with 275 deaths along its path -- has been causing scientists to rethink how they classify storms. Now there's a paper out introducing "TIKE" -- Track Integrated Kinetic Energy.

From Wikipedia:
"On October 25, Sandy hit Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane, then weakened to a Category 1 hurricane. Early on October 26, Sandy moved through the Bahamas. On October 27, Sandy briefly weakened to a tropical storm and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane. Early on October 29, Sandy curved north-northwest and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds."
Technically it didn't count as a "major hurricane," a term which the National Hurricane Center reserves for hurricanes that reach maximum sustained 1-minute surface winds of at least 50 m/s (111 mph) -- equivalent of category 3, 4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Yet its size -- the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter) certainly contributed to it doing major damage. The size of a storm determines its surge, and for big storms damage from coastal flooding is often larger than wind damage.

The existing hurricane metrics -- Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Power Dissipation Index (PDI) don't take size into account, only wind speed:

\text{ACE} = 10^{-4} \sum v_\max^2

with the PDI being the same summation with with velocity cubed.

By contrast, TIKE, as defined by Misra et al,  is calculated by:

Of course, in practice the integral is going to be a summation, which Misra et al do every 6 hours (as for ACE and PDI), with wind speed and radii data from the Colorado State University Extended Best Track dataset.

Wunderground writes:
According to Misra, Hurricane Sandy had a higher TIKE value than any other tropical storm or hurricane in the North Atlantic Ocean Basin since 1990. Hurricane Lily, which occurred in 1996, was the runner-up, followed by 2010’s Igor, 1995’s Luis, 1997’s Erica, and Hurricane Olga, which occurred in 2001.
They obtain results since 1990:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Big Jump in Ocean Warming

Ocean heat content numbers are in for the first three months of 2013, and they show the 0-2000 meter layer increasing more than in any previous observed period (added 5/28: except one):

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present 0-2000 m

The total change in the top half of the ocean works out to 0.70 W/m2 over its 8.25 years of data (per area of the ocean).

And for the 0-700 meter layer:

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present 0-700 m

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Northern California shaken by 5.7-magnitude earthquake |

A fairly big quake.... but nothing here in Salem:

"Somewhat better than minimum adequacy..."

"In a 2010 evaluation, the group said the bridge is "somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is."

"However the bridge did not make the Washington Department of Transportation's list of "structurally deficient bridges."

"Functionally Obselete"

A report on this bridge: "functionally obselete":

This comes from a private citizen, who obtains the database from the Federal Highway Administration and converts it to a useable format.

Because apparently it's too much to ask that the FHA do this on their own.

Infrastructure Grade = D+

The first thing I think about for something like a bridge collapse over a major American highway-- which shouldn't happen anywhere, anytime -- is the many warnings given by the nation's engineers that our politicians have ignored over the years:

more bridge photos here

I-5 Bridge Collapse Over Skagit River in Washington Sends Cars, People Into Water - ABC News

PHOTO: A portion of the Interstate 5 freeway over the Skagit River in Skagit County, Wash., collapsed May 23, 2013, sending cars and people into the water, authorities said.

Bridge collapses in Washington state -

pic: I-5 bridge over Skagit River collapses, cars with people in water | Seattle

I-5 bridge collapses in NW Wash.; people in water

Interstate 5 bridge over Washington's Skagit River collapses; reports of vehicles, people in water |

This is hard to believe -- and major: a bridge on I-5 has collapsed:

This is north of Seattle.... I-5 is THE major north-south route on the West coast....

The Deniers New Tactic...

... outright lying:

(Climate Depot)

Yet I seem to remember a storm called Sandy....

Pope: Please Bugger-Off

Please tell the Pope that we atheists are fine, and to butt-out -- we don't need, or want, his help:

The Oklahoma Tornado and Global Warming

I know Barbara Boxer, Bill Nye, etc. are taking some flack for their comments about the Oklahoma tornado and global warming -- some of it deserved, since their comments tilt towards a definite attribution. Boxer said
“This is climate change. We were warned about extreme weather. Not just hot weather. But extreme weather." 
That's not a scientifically justifiable statement. But the fact remains that no one really knows the extent to which these storms are affected by climate change -- it's not something science can yet determine, which is very different from saying there is no influence.

Kevin Trenberth said a few years ago, "The environment in which all of these storms and the tornadoes are occurring has changed from human influences."

This is true, by the way, even if the number and types of storms were decreasing. A world with 40% more  carbon dioxide is simply not the same world our ancestors lived in.

Jeff Masters said the other day, on PRI:
Every weather event is substantially changed now by climate change. There is more heat in the atmosphere. There is more moisture. And something I've been seeing the last three years is the jet stream patterns have been getting very extreme. I've never seen, in my 30 years as a meteorologist, the sort of unusual sorts of jet stream patterns where we get these large loops, where they tend to get stuck in place, contributing to extreme weather. Whether we're going to be seeing more tornadoes because of that, I don't really know, because when you do change a jet stream like that, you are actually going to slow the winds down of the jet stream. And when you have slower winds, you get less of a twisting motion to get tornadoes spinning. So, in theory, that should decrease tornadoes. But on the other hand, when you have a warmer atmosphere, the air is more unstable, and that's the other key ingredient we need to make tornadoes. How those two factors are going to interplay in the future, we don't know. But I think Dr. Trenberth is right: We have to look at the changed environment that all these sorts of weather systems are in now to look forward to what we're going to see in coming decades.

Oregon Votes Anti-Science Stupid

Since you can't see me shaking my head as I write this, please reach out with both hands, grasp your monitor, and move it quickly back and forth.

What else can you think? Portland gave in to anti-science fearmongering and voted, yet again, to keep fluoride out of their water supply, 61% to 39%. The well-to-do liberals who pushed for this -- very hard -- will be fine -- they can afford dental care and daily fluoride pills for their kids. The ones who will suffer are the children of poor or ignorant parents who can't afford the supplements, or don't know what fluoride is or why it's so beneficial.

As Slate wrote:
Arguably most importantly, Healthy Kids and fluoridation have the endorsement of the massed forces of rationality and medical authority. Almost every credible national, state, and local health and science organization—private and public—gives its blessing to optimal levels of water fluoridation: The American Medical Association, the American Dental Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization, American Academy of Family Physicians, and  the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which named the measure one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. They all agree that fluoridated water is perfectly safe and extremely effective at preventing tooth decay.
The city likes to tout a motto of "Keep Portland Weird." To that let's add "Also, Toothless" -- almost one-fifth of Oregon's children 6-9 year olds had untreated decay. (Yes, this anti-fluoride sentiment reaches statewide.) A survey last year found "Oregon ranked 25th – or 7th from the bottom – in percentage of children with untreated decay compared to 32 other states with similar data."

In other stupidity in the state, two southern Oregon counties voted yet again not to raise property taxes, despite barely having any police presence left at all. (I wrote about Josephine County earlier.) That leads to idiocy like this:
In Grants Pass last month, officials locked down an elementary school while police searched for a burglar with a stolen rifle. Officers found the suspect with the loaded rifle hiding in a nearby shed, but cited and released him because the Josephine County jail didn't have room.
How niggardly are these counties? The Oregonian wrote: "Josephine County residents pay 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for county operations, the lowest rate in the state. Curry County follows just behind at 60 cents and Lane County's rate is $1.28, the seventh lowest."

In comparison, Multnomah County, where Portland is, has a rate is $4.34.

These counties are very conservative and in a snit because they no longer get much money from the federal government for timber logging on federal lands, which the counties lived off of for decades and think they're somehow entitled to. Which is all the fault of the communist environmentalists, don't ya know.

Because these counties refuse to take care of themselves, despite what many are calling a public emergency, the rest of the state will now have step up and pay for it, though there is talk of the governor pushing for a special income tax levy on these counties alone. I hope it goes through, or as least that the counties secede, maybe to Nevada.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More Thoughts on Otto

More thoughts on the Otto et al paper that finds a lower transient climate response:
  • they find a lower transient climate response -- the warming expected at the point where atmospheric CO2 has doubled -- but not a statistically signifcantly lower equilibrium climate response -- the ultimate amount of warming that will happen over a few centuries time.
  • The target of 2°C is still a lot of warming. That's the average global change for the surface. It will be more over land, more over the northern hemisphere, and more in the interior of continents.... Based on the observed ratios in the UAH lower troposphere data for the last 34 years, and converting to the unit that is more recognizable for U.S. readers, it means a total warming of (from pre-industrial temperatures):
    globe: 3.6°F
    global land: 4.5°F
    northern hemisphere land: 5.9°F
    continental US: 6.0°F
    north pole: 12°F
  • These are obviously nothing to dismiss lightly.
  • A lower transient climate response doesn't change anything about the level of ocean acidification, the other global warming problem.
  • if aerosols -- air pollution -- are holding down temperatures (I'm dubious), then we will see higher temperatures if the Chinese clean up their skies (and the rest of us keep doing so). On the other hand, changes in the Sun may help a little.
  • The Otto et al analysis ends in 2010, but that year's La Nina didn't influence tempertures until months later, so that factor shouldn't matter as much of an end point effect. (Globally, HadCRUT4 found 2011 to be 0.14 C cooler than 2010.)
  • Atmospheric methane levels didn't increase from about 1998 to 2008, but have begun trending back up. In the last few years the annual change in CH4 forcing has been about 10% of the annual change in CO2 forcing.
  • The IPCC 5th Assessment Report is going to be awkward, and maybe immediately dismissed by some, which would be very unfortunate. It doesn't include this work, but some of its authors are authors (and lead authors) on the AR5, so this work might influence their writings.
  • Why didn't the "team" suppress this paper via pal review? Hmm....? Why didn't the communists at Nature keep it out of their journal? The worldwide consipracy to enslave you must have slipped up on this one....

Monday, May 20, 2013

So How Much More Time Does Otto Give Us?

Given the lower estimates of climate sensitivity in the Otto et al paper in Nature Geosciences, how much more time does the world have to dilly-dally about cutting emissions?

Well, none really. The 2°C limit which has become the fallback position isn't something to take lightly -- after all it's about 1/4th-1/3th of an inverse ice age, which is hardly something to scoff at, and with the warming and melting it will ultimately raise sea level by 25-50 feet meters (over hundreds of years).

But let's play along. Let's assume atmospheric carbon levels are increasing exponentially (which they are, once you look beyond a 10-15 year window), with a doubling time of D.

And let's assume the radiative forcing (and hence temperature change) is proportional to the logarithm of the atmosphere's carbon-equivalent level.

Then just a little algebra shows that the time t to reach a certain temperature T is

t = DT/S

where S is climate sensitivity.

Using greenhouse gas forcings since 1979 from NOAA, I find that CO2 is increasing at an annual rate of 0.46%, but CO2-equivalent is increasing at 0.66%, which gives a doubling time of D = 105 years.

The Otto paper reduces transient climate sensitivity (TCR) from a value of 1.6°C (based on data through the 1990s) to 1.3°C (based on data up through 2009).

So if we want to limit T to 2°C, the difference between these two TCRs gives us an additional 30 years.

3 decades. That's a fair bit of time.

Will we use those 30 years wisely and take climate change seriously, to finally do something about carbon dioxide, to build a clean, sustainable, noncarbon world for the many future generations who will live after us?


N.b. a lower climate sensitivity doesn't change the ocean acidification problem.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Australia: Power from Coal Down Sharply

News from Australia:
A government analysis on Thursday showed that electricity generated by highly polluting coal-fired power plants had fallen 14 per cent since the introduction of the tax, while renewable power had soared.
Here's a graph from the Australian government's latest quarterly report (issued April 15th); the year-over-year reductions are 4.7%:

and by sector:

The report says, "Generation  from other renewables continues to grow, increasing by 10.1%, from a proportionately small base."

Of course the Australian carbon tax is still very contentious, with the opposition committed to doing away with it. In it place they are apparently proposing magic:
The most contentious feature of the Coalition's climate policy is its reliance on using soils to store carbon for about 60 per cent of emissions reductions. It is mocked as ''soil magic'' by some. Members of the independent Climate Commission have warned that soil sequestration will not solve the climate change problem.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Climate Candy: The Proof

Here's a good indication of how much the SkS study means: just a day after being at the top of HuffPo's front page, it no longer appears anywhere that page or anywhere on their "Science" page.

Easy come, easy go.

Just another result that doesn't change anything.

Obama's Bull Market

And by the way, why hasn't Obama gotten any credit at all for the amazing bull market in stocks that has occurred during his administrations?

I mean, the value of all stocks, as measured by the Wilshire 5000, is up $9.2 trillion since Obama's first inaugural.

And up an amazing $2.7 trillion (18%) just since his reelection.

Many people are making huge amounts of money. If this happened under a Republican president we'd hear no end of it. So what's going on?

(By the way, stock market capitalization minus US debt has increased by $2.9 trillion since Obama first took office.)

So What Will Change Their Minds?

A long-time commenter here writes:
"David, you should explain for everyone how it should be done. It is easy to criticize, but what's the solution for the communication?"
I don't think it's really a problem of communication....

100 years of consensus on evolution hasn't changed half of Americans' minds.

So why will a decade or two of climate data?

I don't like this, but it's a fact. I really wish everyone was amenable to data and scientific papers, but in America many people are not. They aren't.

Perhaps it's because our education system is mediocre. I also suspect there is some failing in our national character, something about being independent and revolutionary and adventurous and skeptical of institutions.

Why will global warming be any different? For whatever reason, a lot of Americans simply don't care what scientists think, and this problem is getting worse, not better.

And if not worse, not clearly better.

So what will change their minds?

More warming, more heat waves, more droughts, more storms.

When grandfathers say to their grandchildren, when I was a kid it was a lot colder and snowier, and it seems like all that is gone now.... When midwestern farmers accept the seriousness of the drought they are in, and when they leave the business because of it. When snowpacks diminish enough that people actually leave the American southwest because its water can't support them any longer.

Like I said, I don't like this. But I think it's the case.

Fallout from the SkS Study

As is often the case, the hullabaloo following a paper about climate is more enlightening than the paper itself.

I've noticed two things since Cook et al Environ Res Lett.:
1. Everyone is expected to be on one side of the other.
2. People are very confused about embargoes.
Let's take the second point first: Unless you agree to accept and respect embargoed materials, you are not held to an embargo.

An arbitrary sender can't just send out material willy nilly, stamp an embargo time atop it, and expect anyone to be bound by that embargo time. So Steve Milloy and Anthony Watts did nothing unethical by publishing on the material early.

Some people are confused about this, but it's not that difficult. Journalists and writers who receive embargoed material from journals and institutions have already agreed beforehand to receive such materials before the embargo date in exchange for respecting the embargo. It's an ethical obligation, and if you violate it you will get cut off from further material. (Whether there should be an embargo system for science news is an entirely different matter.)

But if someone sends you something you didn't solicit, it's fair game, and it doesn't matter if it says it's embargoed or not. It's naive to think otherwise.

Moral: if you don't want something published before a certain time, don't send it until that time unless you have a prior agreement with the recipient.

The first issue is more troubling. I get the distinct impression that certain people are expected to accept this study without question, and accept it as important and newsworthy, just because, well, because they're seen as on a certain team, because they think carbon emissions and climate change are big problems.

Like you're part of some team and can't think for yourself.

One blogger wrote -- well, he/she is anonymous, so it doesn't count for much, but anyway, they wrote

It's hard to say which is the more fundamental fail here: that Kloor doesn't understand that replicating results is critical to science, or that he thinks that he has somehow become a scientist, whose responsibility it is to follow and critique the bleeding edge of climate science, rather than his actual role as a science journalist helping the public grasp the critical core of the field, a job that evidently has to be done by scientists, who have pulled off a massive coup of science communication, only to be sneered at by the people who are paid to perform that function themselves.
Let's be clear: journalists and writers aren't stenographers who are bound to pass on information without questioning it, without analyzing it, and without providing context. 

Nor am I "sneering." I just don't think a number like "97%" is important to the debate. It's made for cupcake sites who do cupcake journalism, and to no one's surprise the Huffington Post immediately made it their top headline. 

It's a cudgel meant to end debate, not aid it. 

And it doesn't convince anyone. Answer me this: if Oreskes' 97% number still left some unconvinced, why will another 97% number?

It's nothing personal. As far as I can tell the authors did a fine job. I just don't think it's an important result.
Finally, a commenter here asked

"Do you think that your opinion of this paper is supported by experts on communication science who work on the issue of climate?" 
Frankly, I don't care what experts on communication science think. To be honest I don't even think what they do is a "science," let alone that they have valuable insights into the process of communicating science. I'm the one communicating science, not them.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Running *Into* Fossil Fuels

“The world has been running into fossil fuels, not away from them.”

-- Vaclav Smil, University of Manitoba environmental scientist, quoted in a Time article about the death of Peak Oil

Not Surprisingly, HuffPo Eats Up SkS Study

Like I said, the Skeptical Science study is made for people who want their science dished out plain and simple:

No thinking allowed, just get in the damn line.

The Big Stumbling Block

Keith Kloor has some pertinent and insightful thoughts on the Skeptical Science survey published in Environmental Research Letters. He links to a report showing that many Americans view global warming as a problem of the future, or for other places or species, and writes
"That. Is. The. Stumbling. Block.

"Getting past that is going to require a frank debate about future uncertainties, risks, and scenarios, and the reconciliation of competing values."
None of the latter come from putting forward a single number like "97%."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

About the SkS Study That Finds a 97% Consensus

Skeptical Science has a study that greatly extends Oreskes 2004 study on consensus in the scientific literature, and find
A new survey of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers by our citizen science team at Skeptical Science has found a 97% consensus in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are causing global warming.
That's all well and good (and not surprising), and you can examine their methodology if you want to.

I'm not very keen on these kinds of numbers -- they are made for lazy journalists who don't want to examine the complexity of the science, reporters who just want a number that quickly and easily supports their position.

You'd never hear a scientist use such a number, because they know there is a wide spectrum of opinions about the statement "humans are causing global warming." Some find some parts of the science more convincing than other parts. They may see parts that aren't known well at all, and parts that are very well known. They know that some papers are good and some not so good and they aren't all weighted equally, nor are authors. (About physics, Luis Alvarez said, "There is no democracy in physics. We can't say that some second-rate guy has as much right to opinion as Fermi.")

The simple statement doesn't address questions like how much warming? What kind of warming (where)? How much are humans causing? How are they causing it? How well is this knowledge known? How good is the data? What are the consequences?

People using these kinds of numbers aren't so much interested in these kinds of questions or these kinds of debates as they are in avoiding questions and ending debates. They're for activists, not for those who want to really understand what's going on.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pity the Poor Marina Owner on Lake Powell

This does not look to be a good time to own a marina on Lake Powell:

Lake Powell Low Despite Spring Snow

And this chart of the Lake's inflows and storage isn't encouraging:

Lake Powell Low Despite Spring Snow

If you look carefully you can see a tiny blip for 2012.

Here's one more view, no less astonishing:

Here's a local view of impacts from someone who regularly uses the Lake.

Monday, May 13, 2013

America's First Climate Refugees

Deny this:

Live By Hype, Die By Hype

This is (partly) why the 400 ppm hype was misplaced from the very beginning:

People: Forest -- not the trees.

Desperate Lies from ClimateDepot

Of course, I don't think Marc Morano has any honor (if he ever did), so I know he doesn't care who catches him in his lies.

But normal people might. Like this one:

Lubos Motl is no more of a "Harvard physicist" than you or I are -- he was drummed out of the department, forced to resign many years ago, in the prime of his career, because he couldn't keep from insulting everyone in his presence. He has the personality of a thornbush.

Climate Depot is lying about his affiliation, plain and simple.

PS: You might remember Motl from this kind of buffonery. Though I hope not.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

David Bowie's "The Next Day"

Sometimes I think the world is simply too stupid to even go to hell.

David Bowie creates a very bad song, and to hype his moribund career he makes a video with -- what else? -- lots of easy, trivial references to religious icons, being sure to insult every one of them in the process, though not in a clever way like he would have in his youth but in the crudest way possible.

And the insulted religions, who aren't the true religious people at all, completely fall for this stupidity -- because the only thing worse than being insulted is being ignored -- so they dutifully spout out their completely expected statements that serve their needs as well as Bowie's.

And we're all aupposed to be left aghast and stupid, beaten around the head, one of our eyes black, one ear swollen, our nose a little out of place but not far enough to justify surgey, left shaking our pitiful heads at these pitiful people who only want to sell a few more pitiful records and get a few more pitiful hits.

But the truth is we don't care at all, because this is the world these days, too stupid to get worked up about, but too boring for us to really care -- and we can't afford the surgery on our nose anyway.

And you wonder why the world is going to hell.

Blame these people.

A pox on all their houses.

Another Coal Export Project Bites the Dust

There may not be much coal exported to China after all.

The Oregonian:
"Terminal developer Kinder Morgan on Wednesday dropped its proposal to export coal to Asia from a Columbia River port near Clatskanie.

"The company's decision means three of the six coal export terminals originally proposed in Oregon and Washington have gone by the wayside. It also significantly reduces the potential for coal train traffic through Portland."
The company blamed it on logistics, not the protests, but of course they would say that, so who really knows.

If the other three proposals pull out, this would be a real victory for the many environmental groups here that have been opposing these.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Did You Know Greenland Is An Atoll?

I didn't....

 Here's another great video from Peter Sinclair, produced for the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media:

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

My Article on the Temperature Hiatus

I have an article on the temperature hiatus at the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.

A few quotes:

Kevin Trenberth:
“One of the things emerging from several lines is that the IPCC has not paid enough attention to natural variability, on several time scales,” he says, especially El Niños and La Niñas, the Pacific Ocean phenomena that are not yet captured by climate models, and the longer term Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) which have cycle lengths of about 60 years.

From about 1975, when global warming resumed sharply, until the 1997-98 El Niño, the PDO was in its positive, warm phase, and heat did not penetrate as deeply into the ocean. The PDO has since changed to its negative, cooler phase.

“It was a time when natural variability and global warming were going in the same direction, so it was much easier to find global warming,” Trenberth says. “Now the PDO has gone in the other direction, so some counter-effects are masking some of the global warming manifestations right at the surface.”
Ben Santer:
The bottom line, Santer says, is “there are multiple, not mutually exclusive interpretations of modeled versus observed differences, and claiming that there is only one explanation is not scientifically accurate.”

“We study the signal. If others want to study the noise, let them.”
Ray Pierrehumbert:
“There’s really nothing in this that changes our estimates of climate sensitivity.” Calculation of that all-important number from the 20th century record is not possible, because the aerosol forcing is not well known, nor are the data for ocean warming up to the task.

“Any estimate of sensitivity requires all of the record and not just the last 20 years of it,” Pierrehumbert says. “The smaller the piece of it you take, the less certainty you have in your result.” Nonetheless, he agrees that earlier warming may have been deceiving.

“I think it’s true that some rather sloppy discussion of the rapid warming from the 20th century has given people unrealistic expectations about the future course of warming.”
The complete article is here.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Carbon Bubbles -- Who's Kidding Who?

This talk going around about carbon bubbles and overpriced assets -- come one, who's kidding who??

Do you live in the real world, or not?

In the real world, assets worth (at least) hundreds of trillions of dollars don't get held out of the market just because it makes Bill McKibben happy.

The left is living in a dream world if they think so.

The world is going to burn its oil and gas and a fair piece of its coal. Granted, it's going to cause a lot of climate change, but we're going to burn it anyway.

Because you and me don't want to ride our bikes to the store under the hot sun, and we want to fly to Albuquerque when we want to, on the exact day we want to.

No renewables are anywhere near providing the lifestyle we want, and it's far from clear than any can.

The world has done nothing to eliminate fossil fuels, not even the US (we're only moving towards natural gas because it's cheaper, not because it's better for the environment).

And we won't -- serious climate change is always too far away, too expensive to stop, too easy to ignore.

Like every other problem humans have ever dealth with, we will get serious about it only when it is too late.

In the real world, people with lots of money get their way. That means the oil companies and gas companies and coal companies will get their way, and you and I will let them, because the stakes aren't high enough, for us, to do otherwise.

So Bill McKibben can organize all he wants -- while, of course, flying anywhere he needs to fly to at a moment's notice -- and there's no point pretending otherwise.

4°C here we come.

In fact, we'll be lucky to stop there.

The only salvation I can see is sucking CO2 out of the air and burying it somewhere. Let's fund R&D into that, and get the price down to maybe $100/tonne, and pay a couple three percent of our income to keep living like we do now.

WUWT, Going Gently Into That Good Night

From Variable Variability:

And that's not all:

Hype from Pullitzer Prize Winners

I know Inside Climate News won a Pullitzer Prize, and good for them, but is this the kind of hype it takes to come out on top?

I'm sure that not a single scientist was actually "anxious" about CO2 levels crossing above 400 ppm.

(And by the way, that should be "ppmv" and not "ppm.")

Of anyone, scientists know that atmospheric CO2 content is a smoothly varying function, and so crossing a value based only on how many toes we have is utterly meaningless.

It's a number for activists only, not for scientists.

Re: The great David Rose con no. 9234

Someone -- James Annan -- finally got a correction out of David Rose of the Daily Mail:

The great David Rose con no. 9234: The hard proof that finally shows that he makes stuff up.

It only too a month and a half.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

For a Different Take....

Via Jules Klimaatblog:

An Asteroid Warning is Now Considered "Advocacy??"

This is hard to believe but...last week, for an article (on a different topic) I'm working on, I was talking to someone in management at a national lab, and they told me on the QT that there is a white paper going around high-levels in Washington, written by a space scientist (unnamed) at another national lab (also unnamed), that warns of a 99+% chance of an 240-meter asteroid strike on Earth in 2029.

(That's 10-12 times the estimated diameter of the recent Chelyabinsk meteor in Russia, which had 20-30 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb.)

This space scientist is quite sure of his calculations and has been trying to warn everyone in his management, but he was recently fired for "advocacy" -- if you can believe it -- because his paper includes policy prescriptions to address the threat, which he estimated could cost up to $800 billion, a number no one in Washington wants to hear.

Even worse (yes, it gets worse), there is a sealed court-imposed gag order on him brought by a House committee, whose Republican chairman insists more research is needed, and with the sequester there's no money in the budget to address the problem anyway and he'd prefer it just go away.


Of course, I made this story up. It's not true.

I made it up after reading a quote in Eli Kintisch's article about the retirement of James Hansen in this week's Science magazine, which includes this quote:
"It's disheartening that he has to [now] remove himself from a federal position to advocate on climate change. Government exists, in theory at least, to serve the public's best interests," says Emmy Burns, a student activist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
I recently found these letters (below) from Science of 20 years ago, written by Carl Sagan and E.O. Wilson, about being "blacklisted" by a science journalist named Christopher Anderson because of their "advocacy" on the threat of nuclear winter and species extinction, respectively.

Sagan wrote:
"Suppose you had found that the global consequences of nuclear war were much worse than had been generally understood and that military establishments worldwide had overlooked those consequences, especially in a time of a swiftly proliferating strategic arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union and when allegedly responsible officials were talking about nuclear war being "survivable" and "winnable." Wouldn't you be concerned? Would you think it your responsibility to keep quiet about this because the results were not absolutely certain, or because the full-scale experimental verification had not yet been obtained?

"Or would you consider it your obligation to your children and the children of everyone else to speak up? Keeping quiet under such circumstances seems bizarre and reprehensible to me.

"Because our technology has achieved formidable powers, and because we sometimes can be careless in its application, this issue is of broad importance. If scientists will not speak out when they see such a danger to the human species, who will?
Or, as E.O. Wilson put it succinctly:
"It is reasonable then to ask what scientists are expected to do when they hit upon a serious environmental problem. Whisper in the ear of a journalist? Entirely and chastely refrain from publishing outside technical journals, hoping the results will be discovered by nonscientists?"

Wednesday, May 01, 2013