Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Prediction for the January UAH Temperature

My prediction for the UAH January lower troposphere global temperature anomaly is -0.14°C, which would be rather cold.

Basically all I did was take the daily AMSU Channel 5 temperatures from here (2002-2012), and compare the monthly averages to the announced values. It seems to be pretty linear for January, but not if you include all the months. I'm not going to put up a lot of pictures and plots -- if this works I'll try that next month, and if it doesn't I'll never mention this again.

The thinking on Spencer's blog, from him and commenters, is that the correlation isn't great.

No Apparent Legal Basis for IPCC Removal Requests

The IPCC has responded to Steve McIntyre's question for the legal basis of their request for him to remove any ZOD material and related discussions, and by their response it seems clear there isn't any. (Scroll down to his Jan 30th update.)
Dear Mr McIntyre

Thank you for your email of 26 January addressed to Dr. Midgley. As has been standard practice and is stated in the Procedures of IPCC, to which we have to adhere in our work for the WGI contribution to AR5, IPCC draft reports that are made available for expert review are done so under the conditions marked on every page: “Do Not Cite, Quote or Distribute”.

In order to be sure that the authors see, consider and respond to your valuable comments on these drafts, they must be submitted through the mechanism provided at the WGI web site. This site will be used by all expert reviewers, over 1500 of whom have duly registered.

Thank you for your attention and your interest in IPCC WGI AR5.

Yours sincerely,
IPCC WGI TSU

AR5 First Order Draft Available

An IPCC AR5 First Order Draft (FOD) is available here, for WG1 Chapter 5: Information from Paleoclimate Archives.

Figures 5.7a and some in Figure 13 are especially interesting.

The Scope of the Carbon Problem

The Worldwatch Institute has a report out that helps illustrate the scope of the world's energy & climate problem.

1.3 billion people in the world still have no electricity.

Another 1 billion lack reliable access.

Can you imagine trying to live without electricity? I only sort-of can because I once spent 5 months on a long-distance backpacking trip, and even then we took into a motel or lodge when the weather was nasty or we really needed a shower and real food. Life without electricity is completely different than life without it (obviously). The Worldwatch Institute also says

At least 2.7 billion people lack access to 
modern fuels for cooking and heating.

In good news, about 2 billion people gained electricity between 1990 and 2008.

So here's a better presentation of the point I clumsily tried to make a while back about how the energy problems and carbon problems are inversely related. This is an extremely simple model, but quickly illustrates the problem.

1) Assume that the world is divided into two groups: the OECD nations and the non-OECD nations, and that all future population growth occurs in the non-OECD sector.

2) Assume non-OECD nations ultimately live at some level proportional to OECD-nations, as measured by their carbon emissions.

3) Assume energy efficiency and/or renewable energy sources allow a reduction of carbon emissions for OECD-nations by some factor.

Then future carbon emissions will be, relative to today's emissions

r = A(1-e)(1 + Fp)

where

r = future emissions relative to today's
A = today's ratio of OECD carbon emissions relative to that of the world
e = the energy efficiency of the future, so per-capita emissions are (1-e) times that of today's.
F = ratio of the future non-OECD per-capita carbon emissions to the OECD's -- which is assumed to be the standard of living
p = the future ratio of non-OECD population to OECD-population

Today (from EIA data for 2009):

Population(OECD) = 1.225 billion
Population(non-OECD) = 5.536 billion

OECD emissions = 12.0 Bt CO2
World emission = 29.0 Bt CO2

(Emissions are for fuel consumption only.) So A = 0.42.

There may not be much choice about "p," but let's assume the world population tops out at 10 billion people -- remember, all population growth is assumed to be in the non-OECD countries. Then p = 7.16 . (Today p = 4.52)

You get to choose e and F, and you want r < 1. In fact, you want r ~ 0.2 if we need to drastically cut CO2 emissions as much as some say we need to. Ideally you want F=1 -- you want everyone in the world to live at the same (high and equal) standard of living. That will require

F=1 =>     e = 94%

You somehow need to reduce per-capita carbon emissions by 94%, through a combination of energy efficiency and renewable technologies. It's almost impossible to imagine that happening.

Today F = 0.29 -- the average non-OECD resident emits only 29% of the CO2 of an OECD resident. Let's say you hope to double that to 0.58 . That requires

F doubled from today =>     e = 91%

Which is still very difficult to see happening.

So I don't see how we can cut carbon emissions, while increasing affluence, through just efficiency and renewables. We have to have new technologies to fully solve the carbon problem (which might include geoengineering).

And until then, we better get busy on adaptation.

(If I made any mistakes here, please let me know.)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oregon Court Makes a Pro-Privacy Ruling

An Oregon court rules that it is a violation of Fourth Amendment rights for a policeman to search someone's digital camera without a warrant:

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2012/01/eugene_verdict_clarifies_law_p.html

I like this: "That's the electronic equivalent of police walking off with several file cabinets of private papers without benefit of a judge's signature, said Lauren Regan, Schlossberg's lawyer."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

John Houghton on IPCC Transparency

"The work of the IPCC illustrates the following five important features which I believe should characterize the scientific assessments that form an input to policy making....

"...Thirdly, all parts of the assessment process need to be completely open and transparent. IPCC documents including early drafts and review comments have been freely and widely available - adding much to the credibility of the process and its conclusions."

-- John Houghton, "An Overview of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Its Process of Science Assessment," Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, No. 17, Global Environmental Change (2002), p. 6.
Houghton, of course, was the lead editor of the first three IPCC Assessment Reports. (Via Bishop Hill) This policy was changed last May at the IPCC 33rd Meeting in Abu Dhabi (see section 8 of this IPCC document), writing only that "issues related to confidentiality of draft reports is important...."

The ATI's Outrageous Spin of the Mann Emails

Here's a good example of the lengths to which American Tradition Institute is spinning these emails to try to find something -- anything -- untoward: the circumstances surrounding the Soon & Baliunas paper. (A blast from the past.)

Maybe this is worth a little review: that 2003 paper published in Climate Research reviewed over 200 published papers and concluded "Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest or a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium."

Sounds definitive. Yet it contained such huge and elementary errors that it wouldn't have been acceptable as a first-year graduate student paper. As Malcolm Hughes said in Scientific American, "The Soon et al. paper is so fundamentally misconceived and contains so many egregious errors that it would take weeks to list and explain them all."

In short:
  • their work lacked a quantitative foundation (Soon: "I was stating outright that I'm not able to give too many quantitative details, especially in terms of aggregating all the results.")
  • they grouped 50-year periods by "wetness" and "dryness," but didn't even define those words. When asked they said they "referred to the standard usage in English."
  • what they did define was so broad as to include nearly any conclusion. Worst of all was defining "climate anomaly" as any 50+ year period that was wetter or dryer, or warmer (for the MWP) or cooler (for the LIA).

    So even if the temperature was completely constant in the period, it was considered an "anomaly."

    So a 50-year dry period anytime between 800 to 1300 AD, anywhere in the world, counted as evidence for the Medieval Warm Period. Regardless of temperature.
    So did a 50-year wet period. Regardless of temperature.

  • By choosing a 50-year window, they excluded anything that happened after 1950.
You can read more here in Scientific American.

So it wasn't that the paper was inconvenient to paleoclimatologists -- it was so appallingly bad anyone had to wonder how the hell it ever appeared in a so-called peer-reviewed journal, and what was going on there. And, in fact, later that year several scientists resigned from the journal's editorial board, including the newly on-board editor-in-chief Hans von Storch.

It's bad enough to get sucker punched, but when it's a low blow as well, what do you do? Clearly you avoid that person, and you recommend to everyone they do the same. Which is what Michael Mann wrote in PE-15:

From: "Michael E. Mann"
To: Phil Jones, Ray Bradley, Malcolm Hughes, Scott Rutherford, Thomas Crowley
Subject: Re: Fwd: Soon & Baliunas
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 08:14:49 -0500
Cc: [several]

The Soon & Baliunas paper couldn't have cleared a 'legitimate' peer review process anywhere. That leaves only one possibility--that the peer-review process at Climate Research has been hijacked by a few skeptics on the editorial board. And it isn't just De Frietas, unfortunately I think this group also includes a member of my own department...

So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering "Climate Research" as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board...

What do others think?
mike

Seems straightforward. Why would anyone who cares about science and their field want to encourage a journal that was publishing such atrocious stuff? And why wouldn't you want to minimize the threat of more sucker punches in the future?

Yet how did the American Tradition Institute characterize this?
The selected emails include graphic descriptions of the contempt a small circle of largely taxpayer-funded alarmists held for anyone who followed scientific principles and ended up disagreeing with them. For example, in the fifteenth Petitioners’ Exemplar (PE-15), Mann encourages a boycott of one climate journal and a direct appeal to his friends on the editorial board to have one of the journal’s editors fired for accepting papers that were carefully peer-reviewed and recommended for publication on the basis that the papers dispute Mann’s own work.
Which is a 180 degree spin-job, because whatever S&B was, it clearly was not "carefully peer-reviewed."

But, of course, an accurate portrayal is about the last thing the ATI is interested in, and there's nothing traditional about it, either.

--
Anyway, enough of that. I just thought it was important to accurately review what all the fuss was about while some people are trying to rewrite history.

The Cheesiness of John Stossel (No, not his Mustache)

The emails released by the court in the American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia seem pretty tame, so far. The ATI is clearly trying to spin them as hard as they can. Aside from that, they're interesting as gossip, such as this one (PE-3), about John Stossel of ABC, that is hardly surprising:

Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 13:50:49 -0500
From: John Christy <...>
To: "Michael E. Mann" <...>
Subject: Re: IPCC

Hi Mike:

Here's what happened. ABC News 20/20 with Stossel wanted me to be part of a segment that will air at the end of June on the climate change. Four of us were taped for almost 2 hours, and from this they will select about 8 minutes, so I doubt my remarks will make the show. When Stossel came back in after all was said and done, he said to me that I might be a good scientist but I didn't have the emotion and passion necessary to excite the audience. In one way, that is a compliment I suppose....

Good to hear from you.
John C.

So a scientist agrees to fly halfway across the country to be interviewed for Stossel's show, and Stossel calls him boring to his face. Nice.

At least he was clear about his priorities. (As if you really were.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Founding Fathers Who Weren't So Virtuous

I learned some interesting things from Richard Brookhiser's book James Madison -- mostly, that the "founding fathers" where hardly paragons of virtue, and the same shenanigans went on then as go on today. Did you know:
  • (Incidentally) It was Benjamin Franklin who came up with the terms "positive" and "negative" for electric charge?
  • Also, that he had a grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, who was a journalist referred to as "Lightning Rod Junior." Is that a great nickname or what?
  • Bache was jailed under the Alien and Sedition Act. A Vermont newspaper editor was convicted for writing that President John Adams "grasp[ed] for power" and exhibited "ridiculous pomp," and was fined $1000 and spent four months in a freezing, stinking jail cell. Journalist James Callendar was arrested and convicted for calling Adams a "hideous hermaphroditical character" and was sentenced for nine months in jail and fined $200. Torture then, torture now.
  • That journalists of the time were frequently beaten up by those angered by their rhetoric.
  • James Callendar, mentioned above, first wrote the story about Thomas Jefferson and his mistress Sally Hemings (his slave) after James Madison (who was then Jefferson's Secretary of State) turned him away when he came looking for a patronage job. Callendar was found drowned in a river only 10 months later, which the coroner ruled an accident (Callendar was, reportedly, bathing while drunk).
  • That George Washington and the Senate passed a treaty signed with Britain in 1794 and tried to keep it secret, partly because the treaty did not require that Britain return escaped slaves. Benjamin Franklin Bache printed the treaty and made it known by distributing it widely. 
  • George Washington advocated that a canal be built near where he owned land, because he knew the canal would open up the area, lead to development, and increase the value of his property.
  • Thomas Jefferson and James Madison did not know that the Louisiana Purchase did not include Florida. Then they paid France $2M to try and steal it away from Spain.
And more. It's a great book -- I recommend it.

Blogsam and Websam

Stuff I think is interesting and once probably thought about blogging more about but now it's too late:
  • The United States has more people in solitary confinement than any other country in the world. Read that again..... What a shameful statistic.... Now read this essay in the Washington Post by someone who spent a decade in such confinement in China, and somehow came out still able to communicate his experience and feelings. If you need more, read the Jonathan Turley piece from earlier this month, also in the Post, titled 10 Reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free.
  • What the hell is happening to us? Really? Does anyone have a clue??
  • I have a long news article in the January issue of Physics World about light field cameras -- digital cameras that take pictures you can focus after you snap them. Just might be the next big thing in photography -- there is certainly a lot of big Silicon Valley money behind the idea.
  • An op-ed in today's WSJ repeats the myth that there has been no warming "for well over 10 years." (I'm being kind by calling it a myth.) We've already seen that the ocean continues to warm, though I haven't calculated the trend yet. It's true that the surface isn't warming lately -- the linear trend of the last 120 months of HadCRUT3 surface data is -0.078 ± 0.027 C/decade (R2=0.07) -- but if you wanted to find temperature of some system, would you only measure the temperature on some boundary in its interior? Of course not! You'd measure many different parts of it. (The 10-yr trend of the UAH lower troposphere temperatures is +0.032 ± 0.097 C/decade, which is not statistically significant.) They seem not to even know about the recent Loeb paper in Nature Geosciences, despite writing,
    If elected officials feel compelled to "do something" about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data.
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Guess_His_Party-VA) actually said this about Warren Buffett's secretary, who was invited by Pres. Obama to attend his State of the Union address after Buffett wrote that he pays less taxes than his secretary (17.4% to 35.8%):
    "We want her to make more money, we want her to have more hope for the future. . . . [But] this notion that somehow the income that Warren Buffett makes is the same as a wage income for his secretary, we know that’s not the same."
    Clearly he thinks some people's money is better than other people's money. Unbelievable. And now the long knives are already after her.
  • This didn't seem to get much news time, but... the U.S. health insurance situation continues to fall to pieces: about 1% fewer workers are covered every year, for several years now. Since 2008 the uninsured rate has risen from 14.8% to 17.1%. That's about 2.3 million adults a year who have lost their insurance -- 189,000 per month. Have you heard any discussion of this at the Republican candidate debates? Any? Even Obama barely mentioned health care in his SOTU. The whole system is going to shit and it's like no one wants to talk about it until it hits them.

Joke Too Good Not to Post

Did you hear about the homeopath who forgot to take his medicine?
He died of an overdose.


Via Tallbloke (where they are busy constructing an alternate scientific reality. Really.)

New Ocean Heat Data (And Yes, the Trend is Up)

NOAA has updated their upper ocean heat content data to Dec 2011, and it doesn't look like much cooling is going on. (Tamino deconstructs those who are trying to spin it otherwise.)

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present

Here is a nice chart that explains why ocean heating is a much better indicator of warming than atmospheric temperatures -- let alone atmospheric temperatures measured where we happen to live, on the surface -- about 90% of the heat being added to the planet ends up in the oceans. (Also known as, why you can stick your hand in a 200°F oven but not 200°F water.)

Energy content change of oceans

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hadley's December Temperature

The Hadley Centre publishes their December '11 temperature anomaly: +0.262 C.

http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3vgl.txt

At least by my records, that makes 2011 the 11th warmest year in their records (which go back to 1850), and last month the 16th warmest December -- ignoring subtleties of uncertainties and all that. I'm on a deadline.

Another IPCC Demand for Secrecy « Climate Audit

Steve McIntyre has received another request from the IPCC to remove text and a figure from the AR5 ZODS (Zero Order Drafts) that appear on his site:

http://climateaudit.org/2012/01/26/another-ipcc-demand-for-secrecy/

He responded with a request for the legal basis behind their request; it will be interesting to read the response, if any.

I haven't responded to the IPCC request I received, and as of now don't plan to. I continue to strongly believe the documents are of public and journalistic interest (especially those of WG2), and have been working on a piece with more on this. As a journalist I believe I have every right to publish this material, which I did not obtain by illicit means. (And, as far as that goes, I also have that right as a US citizen.) Nor do I see how I can possibly be bound by any IPCC strictures.

I honestly don't know enough about Canadian law to know Steve's position -- he writes that he knows of nothing that legally binds him, either. And I certainly think his long record of investigation and blogging demonstrates he should qualify under any freedoms of the press (while recognizing that courts both here and there are still sorting this out). He said that he registered as an IPCC reviewer of the FODs but never received any documents, and didn't (and wouldn't) agree to confidentiality agreements.

In any case, the documents are now mirrored at Cryptome, as well as Wikispooks.

I think the IPCC is making a mountain out of molehill on this, and fanning what were barely warm embers. It makes me wonder if they aren't pressing this issue just because they can.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cool Pic of a Dust Cloud Over the Atlantic

Here's a great image of a a dust plume from the western Sahara making its way across the Atlantic Ocean. (Taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite, on January 19th.)

Dust over the Atlantic Ocean

Greedy Lying Bastards

This looks like it will be provocative (to say the least) -- an upcoming documentary on the oil industry called Greedy Lying Bastards, by Craig Rosebraugh. Here's the trailer:



Via PRNewswire:
How can you right the wrongs when the fossil field industry wields so much influence over energy and environmental policies? "Greedy Lying Bastards" details the people and organizations casting doubt on climate science and claiming that greenhouse gases are not affected by human behavior and includes interviews with scientists, industry experts, international political delegates, climate change victims as well as deniers, and people affected by the practices of the fossil fuel industry. Among them: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon; Rep. Henry Waxman; former EPA head Christine Todd Whitman; leading climate science skeptics Myron Ebell, Christopher Lord Monckton, and Jay Lehr; Ken Wiwa, the son of the slain Nigerian environmentalist; farmers in Peru and Uganda; and Mike Robichaux, one of the few doctors willing to treat Gulf residents sick with chemical poisoning from the BP spill, Republican Presidential candidates, Texas governor Rick Perry and Minnesota representative Michele Bachman, as well as other prominent politicians like Senator James Inhofe, from oil-rich Oklahoma.

"This film is an investigation into an industry that is simply out of control," Rosebraugh contends. "The fossil fuel industry has shown that it will stop at nothing to maximize profits for shareholders, whether it's cutting corners on safety, employing highly paid lobbyists to impact the political process, giving huge amounts to climate change deniers to ensure that no legislation is passed that would impact the bottom line, or complicity in the murder of individuals who speak up against environmental degradation."
No release date yet.

IPCC Writes to Request Removal of the ZODS

I received an email from Sophie Schlingemann, the IPCC Legal and Outreach Officer, requesting removal of the Zero Order Drafts from my site. The wording is nearly identical to the letter received by Gallopingcamel. I believe these documents are of public and journalistic interest, and that I have a right to publish them, and plan to decline.

Also, I've put up a Zipped file (71 MB) of all the ZOD documents here, and an RAR-compressed file (77 MB) here. The latter is also mirrored at Cryptome.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Trenberth Response to Today's Loeb et al Paper on Missing Energy

I asked Kevin Trenberth for his thoughts on today's Loeb et al paper in Nature Geosciences, since he and John Fasullo have been doing a lot of work on determining and identifying the missing energy. It's interesting:
"It seems to have its main point that our earlier paper was wrong. I will certainly disagree with that. In our earlier papers (refs 2,8 and 27) we pointed out that there were major discrepancies between the inventory of energy uptake in the climate system, mainly in the oceans, and the top-of-atmosphere observed changes. The period of "missing energy" was 2008-2009 which was a La Nina period and their Fig 2 shows indeed that there was a large input of energy into the climate system at that time. But 2008 was the coldest year this century and so where did the heat go?

We did not make a big deal about the uncertainties in the observations which are highlighted in this paper. But we were well aware of them. The main point of our paper was that yes, perhaps the observations are consistent within the error bars but if so, the error bars (uncertainties) are so large as to make the values useless. A key purpose of our paper was to challenge both the ocean heat content community and the CERES (atmospheric radiation) communities to do better. Both have responded and the situation has improved somewhat. The latest CERES data as reported here has corrected their data and found about 20% of the problem. In addition the OHC communities have improved their estimates and some of the problem has gone away from that standpoint too. But there remain some major problems. As they note on p 3: the correlation with two of the OHC data sets is only 0.05, and they choose to use the one that is correlated 0.46. Even that is not very good and is not significant for so few values.

Moreover, the uncertainties computed by Loeb et al for CERES appear to be wrong. They included the systematic error in the interannual error bar, so the real error bar on the change is less than shown and in fact it seems likely the agreement is not within the uncertainty.

So while their conclusions may be valid: yes there is no evidence of a discrepancy, given their uncertainties, and yes there is no "statistically significant" decline in OHC rates of change, but the uncertainties are so large that neither dataset is useful to know what is really going on, and that is the key point. The discrepancies among OHC data sets remain huge. We MUST do better. So the key point in their title is "within uncertainty". It should add: "but the uncertainty is too large."
The necessity and difficulty of combining all these datasets is a good reminder that all the people building sensors and launching satellites and transmitting data and slaving away at their computers all day long to make the data compatible, consistent, and usable are doing really important work. I hope their office has a window.

New Paper Says No Missing Climate Energy

There's a new paper just out in Nature Geosciences that seems important: it says there is no "missing energy" in the climate system after all, and that the Earth continues to accumulate energy [as expected with AGW]. Here's the abstract:
Global climate change results from a small yet persistent imbalance between the amount of sunlight absorbed by Earth and the thermal radiation emitted back to space. An apparent inconsistency has been diagnosed between interannual variations in the net radiation imbalance inferred from satellite measurements and upper-ocean heating rate from in situ measurements, and this inconsistency has been interpreted as ‘missing energy’ in the system. Here we present a revised analysis of net radiation at the top of the atmosphere from satellite data, and we estimate ocean heat content, based on three independent sources. We find that the difference between the heat balance at the top of the atmosphere and upper-ocean heat content change is not statistically significant when accounting for observational uncertainties in ocean measurements, given transitions in instrumentation and sampling. Furthermore, variability in Earth’s energy imbalance relating to El Niño-Southern Oscillation is found to be consistent within observational uncertainties among the satellite measurements, a reanalysis model simulation and one of the ocean heat content records. We combine satellite data with ocean measurements to depths of 1,800 m, and show that between January 2001 and December 2010, Earth has been steadily accumulating energy at a rate of 0.50 ± 0.43 W/m2 (uncertainties at the 90% confidence level). We conclude that energy storage is continuing to increase in the sub-surface ocean.
The reference is "Observed changes in top-of-the-atmosphere radiation and upper-ocean heating consistent within uncertainty," Norman G. Loeb et al, Nature Geosciences, Jan 22, 2012, doi:10.1038/NGEO1375.

Granted, that is a rather large uncertainty. (But hey, this is a really difficult analysis.) ENSO plays a large part in the radiation budgeting:

The Future's Name for Our Great Carbon Event?

I came across this really interesting thought:
"As seen by paleoclimatologists 10 million years in the future, whatever species they may be, the present era of catastrophic release of fossil fuel carbon will appear as an enigmatic event which will have a name of its own, much as paleoclimatologists and paleobiologists refer today to the PETM or the K-T boundary event. The fossil carbon release will show up in 13C proxies of the carbon cycle, in dissolution of ocean carbonates through acidification of the ocean, through mass extinctions arising from rapid warming, and through the moraine record left by retreating mountain glaciers and land-based ice sheets."

-- Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, Principles of Planetary Climate (2010), Ch 1 
I wonder what these future beings will call this event. The "Anthropocene" might be OK for now and the hundreds of thousands of years following it, but it doesn't seem right for the event itself, will appear to them as a sudden carbon event of only 200-300 years duration -- a veritable spike. So maybe "The Great Burning," or for the more scientific-minded "The Pleistocide," since it will end the Pleistocene with its characteristic repeated glaciations.

Pierrehumbert's is an absolutely fantastic textbook, if you really want to drill down deep into climate science. (There was a free PDF on his Web site, but it appears to be gone.) He continues:
"As an event, it is unlikely to permanently destroy the habitabilty of our planet, any more than did the K-T event or the PETM. Still, a hundred generations or more of our descendants will be condemned to live in a planetary climate far different from that which nurtured humanity, and in the company of a greatly impoverished biodiversity. Biodiversity does recover over millions of years, but that is a long time to wait, if indeed there are any of our species left around at the time to do the waiting. Extinction may not be precisely forever, but it is close enough."
By the way, did you know it was Andrew Revkin who came up with the word "Anthrocene," in his 1992 book Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, which evolved (perhaps independently) to "Anthropocene." Brilliant.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Canada's Cost from Climate Change

By the way, a study published last September estimates that climate change will cost Canada C$5 B/yr by 2015 and C$21-43 B/yr by 2050. With an estimated 5% chance the costs then are a least C$ 91 B.

All that oil ought to be able to pay for that.

They estimate Canadian GDP in 2050 will be C$5000 B in 2008 C-dollars. So C$43 B will be about 1% of GDP (sounds low compared to the Stern Report), and up to about 2%.

So while Canada will make trillions from selling their oil, and pay up to $100 billion a year to combat climate change. And they'll pay almost that much if they don't sell their oil. I'd say that pencils out, for them at least.

Steven Harper on Canadian Oil Sands

Here's an interview of Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper, done a day or two (I think) before President Obama's decision to deny the application of the Keystone XL pipeline. He doesn't sound like somehow who will be deterred by that denial.

And remember, Obama's denial wasn't on the merits of the application, but, he said, because the State Department couldn't meet the deadline Congress had imposed. At least, that's their story. Clever.



Friday, January 20, 2012

Climate Winner of the Week

I suppose Bill McKibben has to be named the Climate Winner of the Week, for spearheading the effort to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

But it's hard to see him and the environmental lobby winning the war. There's just too much money at stake. Who do these people think they are, corporations?

That oil is too valuable not to be sold. Period. That simple factor will swamp all other considerations: of CO2 and environmental destruction in Alberta and the fear of pipeline breaks. You'd have to be a saint not to rip that oil out and sell it, and there are very few saints among us.

After Obama's decision earlier this week Canada's Minister of Natural Resources issued a statement that said, basically: That's unfortunate. But this is going to happen.

Sure, there will be some jobs created if the pipeline were built: about 20,000 man-years worth, said TransCanada. That's not very many, really: the US worker force grows by roughly 100,000 people per month.

So the jobs created would be a drop in the bucket. The big factor is the profit -- for oil companies, and the Canadian government.

There's an estimated 175 B barrels of oil to be recovered from the Canadian tar sands, at current prices and with current technologies. That's worth about $17.5 trillion on today's market -- 10 times Canada's 2011 GDP of $1.7 B/yr (US$ or CAN$ -- they're almost equal now).

In 2006, Royal Dutch Shell said they made an after-tax profit of $21.75 per barrel from their Canadian oil sands unit. Canada wants to get production up to 4.4 Mb/d within this decade, so that's $35 B/yr in profit to be had. They will mumble something about carbon capture and sequestration and the Canadian government will do away with some more tax incentives in the name of "environmentalism" and they will find a way to get it.

CO2? Author David Strahan estimates that CO2 emissions from the tar sands are 20% higher than average emissions from oil (mostly from production), and that a barrel of oil, with production and refining and consumption, emits about 500 kg CO2e per barrel.

So the Canadian oil sands will put about 0.8 Bmt CO2e/yr into the atmosphere. If all that's recoverable eventually gets burned, it would put about 90 Bmt CO2e into the atmosphere, or 24 GtC using the famous 44/12 ratio.

Worldwide emissions in 2010 were 9139 Tg C, or 9.1 GtC. (Maybe it's weird, but I actually enjoy doing these numbers.)

So the entire recoverable Canadian tar 
sands represents about 3 years 
of current worldwide CO2 emissions.

Is that so bad? I don't have the exact numbers, but looking at this chart and calculating the area of the triangle it seems the world has emitted about (1/2)*(70 yrs)*(9000 MmtC/yr), or ~ 300 GtC. (Here Myles Allen said 500 GtC, and we'll probably emit another 250-500 GtC before we're finished.)

So the Canadian tar sands will increase "expected" "conventional" emissions about about 5-10%.

Instead of adding a total of about 800 GtC 
to the atmosphere, burning the Canadian tar sands 
will increase this to about 825 GtC.

If what we've burned so far (~500 GtC) has resulted in a ~1°C increase in temperature, and (throwing in some feedbacks) what we'll burn before we're through (~350 GtC) will add another ~ 1°C, then using all the Canadian tar sands (~25 GtC) we can get our hands on will add another ~0.1 °C.
Canadian tar sands = another 0.1 °C of warming

Is that so bad if, it makes the Canadians and a whole bunch of other people rich (~$15-20 T)?

I guess I'm just too cynical to think 350.org and the environmental lobby is going to stay in the way of $15-20 trillion worth of money sitting under the Canadian wilderness.

Most IPCC AR5 ZOD files Are Up

I've uploaded most of the IPCC AR5 Zero Order Drafts (ZODs) to here.

If you have any of the remaining chapters (WG1 Ch6 and Ch7) and are willing to share, you can write me here. Confidence guaranteed.

Incidentally, the site where the ZOD files were first leaked, Megaupload.com, was shut down yesterday.

Oh, Come On!

Now this is completely ridiculous, from the Irish Times (via Bishop Hill):
As climate issues intensify the media, incredibly, throws in the towel
JOHN GIBBONS

OPINION: GLOBALLY, 2010 was a year of weather-related disasters on an almost unprecedented scale. Last year was worse, with a record $380 billion in economic losses attributed to “natural” disasters, many climate-related, according to insurance giant Munich Re.

Few experts expect to see any break in this upward trend this year, or any time soon. Instead, as record emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated, the climate system is now behaving precisely as scientists have been projecting for decades. The rapid build-up of energy in the system is the “engine” that is fuelling extremes, from storms and floods to severe droughts.
Actually the facts are (as Scientific American explains) that 2/3rds of the amount was not due to climate change, but to the Japanese tsunami and the New Zealand earthquake.
Natural disasters around the world last year caused a record $380 billion in economic losses. That's more than twice the tally for 2010, and about $115 billion more than in the previous record year of 2005, according to a report from Munich Re, a reinsurance group in Germany. But other work emphasizes that it is too soon to blame the economic devastation on climate change.

Almost two-thirds of 2011's exceptionally high costs are attributable to two disasters unrelated to climate and weather: the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March, and February's comparatively small but unusually destructive magnitude-6.3 quake in New Zealand.
It's probably good to be on the watch for this sort of thing.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another Bastardi Failed Prediction

This is like shooting fish in a barrel, but.... In November 2010 Joe Bastardi made a prediction about 2011 Arctic sea ice -- that it would reach a low of "5.5" Mkm2, and be back to 2005 levels:


So how did he do? Guess.

NSIDC's Arctic sea ice data is here. In 2011 the Arctic sea ice extent reached a monthly low of 4.61 Mkm2, 16% below Bastardi's prediction.

For the year 2011's average was 10.66 Mkm2 (average of the monthly averages). 2005's average was 11.11 Mkm2.

In fact, 2011's average Arctic sea ice extent was the lowest in their records (which go back to Nov 1978). It's true that the low point of 2011 was higher than the low point of 2007 (4.61 Mkm2 in Sept 2011 compared to 4.30 Mkm2 in Sept 2007), but for the year the average was the lowest.

Bastardi concluded with "The ice is coming back, will do so in forward and back steps, with forward defeating the back steps."

For more such Bastardiness, see today's WUWT, where Joe thinks CO2 can't mix in the atmosphere because it has a higher molecular weight than air.
Nor am I going to question them as to why they believe a trace gas like CO2 (needed for life on the planet) with a specific gravity of 1.5 as compared to the atmospheres 1.0, was going to mix with air in a way to affect the earth’s temperatures.
Which is, of course, pure bunk, and demonstrably false.

Soggy Oregon

It's been miserably wet here this week -- snow (about 8"), rain, melting, more rain, and then, still more rain, and now flooding. I noticed moss has been growing around the edges of my car windows. They don't really try to plow the side streets here, but luckily I didn't need to go anywhere. It's easy to understand why Lewis & Clark and their men were completely miserable in the winter they spent on the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805. They were there for 105 days -- only 12 of them were without rain, and there were only 6 days of sunshine.
"...the men suffered from colds, influenza, rheumatism, and other ailments that the captains treated. Clothing rotted, and fleas infested the blankets and hides of the bedding to such a degree that a full night’s sleep was often impossible."
Hydrograph plot for SHNO3They left to head back east 8 days before they had planned to. Whatever the pioneer equivalent of "fuck this shit" was, I'm sure it was said when they finally decided to bail.

Anyway, John Fleck told me about this nifty NOAA site that shows river conditions in the Pacific NW. Next to my town, the Columbia River has risen about 5 feet in 3 days and is forecast to rise another 3 ft before peaking.

Oliver doesn't seem to mind cold or wet or snow or rain -- he goes out no matter what the weather. Lately he has found a way onto the crest of the roof, where he sits and meows loudly at the neighborhood.

But Sophie is particular and has spent the last three days in one spot, except to get up to eat or go the box. I've had to work at the kitchen table.

NASA PR Sorta Spins 2011 Temperature, Says It's 9th-Warmest

Line plots of global temperature anomaly 1880-2011NASA public relations says 2011 was the 9th-warmest year in their records, but that's not really true.

The scientists at NASA GISS have summarized 2011 here, and it's much more nuanced presentation than from NASA HQ. It reports they finds an average global temperature of

2011:   +0.51 ± 0.05 °C 

compared to the 1951-1980 baseline. (The uncertainty is 2 standard deviations.) That's statistically cooler than last year:

2010:   +0.63 ± 0.05 °C

which is the warmest year in their records.

But

the numbers depend on a lot of factors, which the GISS technical page rightly discusses, even if HQ doesn't (and most journalists probably won't either).
  1. The resolution of the underlying virtual network -- that is, as I understand it, GISS (and the Hadley center) take into account the fact that temperature stations aren't evenly distributed around the globe (or evenly distributed in time). There are regions with a higher density of stations than others. You don't want to just average all the stations across the world, because that would over-represent regions with many stations (like, say, the northeastern US) and under-represent regions with few stations (like, say, the Arctic, or undeveloped countries, or places were few people live, like the Sahara Desert). So they construct a virtual, even-spaced grid, and then average all the stations within a grid, and then average all the grids. That way all regions get an equal weighting. So the final number is going to depend on the chosen grid size; as they write, the 2011 average global surface temperature anomaly was +0.51 °C for a resolution of 1200 km, but +0.44 °C for a 250 km resolution (both are ± 0.05 °C). Which is better? It's a judgement call -- do you ignore regions where there's no data, or try to estimate them by interpolating across them? GISS believes the first is preferable, and give their reasoning in a footnote.
  2. Each year has a statistical uncertainty, which GISS calculates to be 2σ = 0.05 °C. But being good scientists they say comparing years depends on how close the years are, and go on to say
    "The size of this uncertainty and the small temperature differences among different years (Fig. 2) is one reason that alternative analyses yield different rankings for the warmest years. However, the magnitude of global temperature change of the past century is in good agreement among the GISS, NCDC (NOAA National Climatic Data Center), and HadCRUT (UK Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit) temperature analyses."
  3. Statistically speaking, you can't say one year is warmer than another if their difference is not statistically significant. It's like asking if Romney is ahead of Obama if a poll shows their support levels at 51% - 49%. It depends. If the uncertainty of the numbers if ± 3%, you can't make a statistically significant about them (i.e. one that holds to a certainty of p% -- usually in climate science 95), but you can make statements about the probability that Romney is ahead of Obama (you'd have to calculate the overlap of the Bell curves that surround each number, and it depends on the objectivity of the questions, the randomness of the poll participants, yadda yadda. So 2011 was "statistical significantly" cooler than 2010 by the statistical standards of climate science. That doesn't mean that you can rank it as "warmer" or "cooler" than an earlier year if the difference in their anomalies is less than 0.10 °C.
  4. They also, to their credit (and perhaps anticipating criticisms), elaborate on the nuances of whether the rate of warming has changed in the last several years, etc:
    The 12-month running mean (Fig. 3a) provides a useful alternative measure of temperature change on the annual time scale, and 60-month (5-year) and 132-month (11-year) running means (Fig. 3b) reduce the variability caused by the Southern Oscillation (El Niño-La Niña cycle) and the solar cycle. The current status of these running means (Fig. 3) adds some weak evidence for the frequent assertion that the rate of global warming has been less in the 21st century than in the last two decades of the 20th century. However, that impression is dependent on the end point, which is heavily influenced by the strong La Niñas in the past three years. If an El Niño occurs in the next few years, which is likely as we discuss below, the mean warming rate will probably exhibit no slowdown on the decadal time scale.
They then go on to summarize by saying, basically, Yes, warming has been slowing down lately, due to a strong La Nina (the one in 2010-2011, not the current one) and a solar minimum, but
We conclude that the slowdown of warming is likely to prove illusory, with more rapid warming appearing over the next few years.
Anyway
  1. the NASA HQ press release is simplistic
  2. NASA GISS did a great job of presenting all the nuances
  3. there's certainly no reason to think global warming is "over" 
  4. you can be sure contrarian bloggers will try to say that it is, and
  5. later, when/if it does get warmer, these same bloggers will revert back to claims that the data is junk because someone, somewhere near a temperature station, once grilled a piece of chicken.

More Hulme

"There is an increasing appreciation, both among scientists and among the public, of the contingent factors of personal belief, cultural context and institutional arrangements, which influence the way scientific knowledge is established. Somewhere in between science as the sublime discovery of absolute truth -- a purely positivist reading of science -- and science as a hopelessly subjective activity  -- a purely constructivist mentality -- is a more nuanced understanding of what science can do and what it can't do and a deeper understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge. Essential to this new understanding is an appreciation of scientific uncertainty. Far from being able to eliminate uncertainty, science -- especially climate science -- is more useful to society with it finds good ways of recognizing, managing and communicating uncertainty."

-- Mike Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change (2009), Ch. 3

First ZOD is Up

I've put one IPCC AR5 Zero Order Draft (ZOD) here: Chapter 4 - Observations: Cryosphere.

Still looking looking for the others....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where to find the ZODs?

Does anyone know where to find copies of the IPCC AR5 Zero Order Drafts? I've only found one, WG1 CH4, which I will put up soon on a separate site. If you don't wish to leave a comment, you can write me confidentially. (UPDATE 1/19: First ZOD is here.)

Judith Curry also believes the ZODs should be made public:
Steve McIntyre has a must read post Stocker’s Earmarks. It addresses efforts by IPCC WG1 to circumvent the transparency objectives recommended by the IAC by inhibiting distribution of draft reports. The justification is “These could prematurely circulate in the public domain, creating confusion, and that would be a bad service of IPCC to society.” It seems that the only people interested in looking at the ZOD and FOD drafts are people that are interested in auditing the process of the IPCC assessment. I don’t encourage any participating in the IPCC as an author or reviewer to break their agreement with the IPCC. However, all of these drafts should be made public and if they are made available by whoever and however, I see no problem with discussing them publicly.

More on the IPCC Takedown Notices

After writing about the IPCC notices to remove the Zero Order Drafts and discussion about them, I came across this relevant thought:
"Because the stakes about climate change are high, science must recognise that the process whereby knowledge is created must be open to public scrutiny and engagement. And since policy decisions about climate change are being made now, and being made continuously, the ways in which knowledge is condensed, packaged and brought into social discourse also need to be re-thought."

-- Mike Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change (2009), Ch. 3
Bingo.

What harm does the IPCC see if the public does read the ZODs and, say, later notices that the final version of the Fifth Assessment Report is different? That it lacks some kind of consensus? That someone will have to explain why the change was made? What would be wrong with that, anyway? Isn't it an opportunity to explain the process and the evidence and the thinking? Is that a terrible thing? The IPCC seems to think so. I don't.

Their apparent notion that the 5AR is just going to be handed down as if from on-high, written in stone, and all the world's technocrats can work off that is troubling. Imperious. Arrogant. Yes, there are people who would use any such changes for less than admirable (IMO) purposes. But they will do it anyway with some other aspects of the report or process, and already have in the past. That's the way things things are. That's life. Invoking secrecy to try to combat that, which the notices seems to be, just compounds the problem.

UPDATE: It seems Steve McIntyre hasn't yet come to any decision about his IPCC notice.

2011's Arctic Sea Ice Volume, Down Big Again

Sea ice volume is a better indicator of the planet's energy imbalance than area or extent. PIOMAS recently released their estimates for Arctic sea ice volume through December, so it's possible to compare last calendar year to those going back to 1979.


Daily Ice Volume

The 2011 daily average volume dropped to 12.92 Mkm2, down 5.7% from last year. It's dropped 49% since 1979 (the first full-year of data), and has dropped 35% in just the last 10 years.

You can slice it up lots of ways -- I've chosen to look at each year in relation to the volume 10 years earlier:
You could fit several different curves to that, but the trend is obvious.

By the way, PIOMAS recently published a paper in JGR about their model calibration and uncertainties. The preprint is here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Don't Remove the ZODs

It seems some blogs have received formal notices from the IPCC to remove documents and discussions of leaked 5AR drafts. I hope these bloggers choose not to do so.

On December 12, 2011 documents titled "Zero Order Draft" (ZOD), purportedly from the IPCC 1st Working Group (they're the ones who summarize the science) appeared on the Web. On Jan 4th a site named Galloping Camel received a request from the IPCC to remove them (link here):
The Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has learnt that a number of chapters of its interim draft reports, the so-called Zero Order Draft (ZOD) of the IPCC Working Group I and Working Group II reports, have been posted on your website. These interim reports were sent for review to invited experts for their comments. The ZOD is a preliminary, draft report, not meant to be cited, quoted or distributed as specifically indicated on the document itself. This draft was provided to a number of expert reviewers under the condition that they did not disseminate it.

It is likely that these preliminary drafts will undergo many changes during the IPCC's revision process. It could, therefore, be misleading to draw conclusions from these versions -- which is why they are not widely circulated.

The IPCC Procedures in Article 4.2 of the Principles Governing IPCC Work state that "The IPCC considers its draft reports, prior to acceptance, to be pre-decisional, provided in confidence to reviewers, and not for public distribution, quotation or citation." (http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles-appendix-a-final.pdf). We therefore request the immediate removal of the ZOD chapters from your website.

In accordance with the IPCC Procedures, subsequent drafts, the so-called First Order and Second Order Drafts, will be made available for review by experts and by governments and experts, respectively. After finalization of the report, these drafts together with review comments and responses by authors will be made available on the IPCC website.

Please note that the First Order Drafts (FOD) of the Working Group contributions to AR5 will be made available for open, expert review according to the schedule posted on the IPCC web sites, and the Working Groups welcome comments that are submitted through the appropriate channels. For Working Group I, the review period has already begun and is open until 10 February 2012. Information for experts interested in registering to review the WGI AR5 FOD can be found on the web site www.ipcc.unibe.ch. Registration to serve as an expert reviewer of the WGII AR5 FOD will open in June 2012. One of the conditions of the review, to which reviewers must agree in order to access the chapters of the WGI AR5 FOD, is that the drafts may not be cited, quoted or distributed.

Yours sincerely,
--
IPCC Secretariat
WMO
7bis, Avenue de la Paix
P.O. Box 2300
1211 Geneva 2
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 730 8208/8254/8284
Fax: +41 22 730 8025/8013
Email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int
Website: http://www.ipcc.ch
The owner of Gallopingcamel, Peter Morcombe, seemed a little too happy to be in such a position of leverage, but removed the documents and sent back this reply:
Subject: Zero Order Draft (ZOD) of IPCC Reports
To: IPCC-Sec IPCC-Sec (Add as Preferred Sender)
Date: Sunday, Jan 08, 2012
From: Peter Morcombe

Gentlemen,

Your request that certain files be removed from my website was done in a non threatening way so it may be possible to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. Please be assured that my intentions are entirely constructive.

As a gesture of good faith, access to the files posted on the Gallopingcamel website will be restricted by the time you receive this email. The files will only be available to the team that is reviewing the documents.

I am the owner of the web site in question and therefore can make binding agreements relating to it. If the IPCC is prepared to enter into discussions I will need to know what authority their representative has.

You may be wondering how the ZODs came into my possession. All I can tell you is that there are insiders who believe that the deliberations of government working groups should be open to the public unless matters of national security are involved. It follows that you can no longer count on maintaining secrecy, especially given the huge financial implications of your work.

It is clear that the IPCC's review procedures have some shortcomings given the large number of serious errors that were found in AR4. Many of these embarrassments would have been avoided if early drafts had been open to the public.

If you agree to allow my team to receive updates of the Working Group drafts we will undertake to send you our comments without making them public. None of us will be applying for registration as “Expert” reviewers as that might compromise our independence.
Sincerely,
Peter Morcombe
I think he should have just ignored the request. He has not obligations to the IPCC, whose request strikes me as breathtakingly imperious.

A few days later Steve McIntyre received a similar notice. As is usually the case with him, following the story is like reading a 1903 Hungarian engineering document for the plot (Michael Tobias said something like whatever Steve writes, you can be sure there is less to it than there seems), but it seems he's still mulling it over. I hope he, too, declines to remove any ZOD discussions.

The thought that everyone is just supposed to wait until the IPCC Kingdom hands down its findings, on a problem of this magnitude, complexity, and consequence, is very rich. (Tone deaf, too.) They have no authority to impose such requests, and if they don't like leaks they should plug them. (They've given no indication that the ZODs were obtained via illegal means.) They -- and the UN in general (and for that matter, all governments around the world, including mine) are already too much of a closed book. This issue affects everyone, and the more information we have about it the better off we are. Yes, I know that's inconvenient for the IPCC. But the IPCC's lack of transparency has its problems too. Just not for them.

I think what I find most galling was asking McIntyre to remove discussions of the ZODs. As if the climate problem is people talking about it too much. As I said, extremely imperious.

The Latest Cyberterrorism

Late (I've was very under the weather), but worth linking to still -- Morano's Minions have been busy threatening yet another climate scientist, Kerry Emanuel of MIT, after he appeared in this video about conservatives in New Hampshire who believe in climate change. This time they dragged his family into it. The section with Emanuel starts at about the 4:00 mark, and apparently what he said wrong was "it makes me feel, to some extent, disgusted with politics and, to some extent, ashamed to be an American."



But that wasn't enough, Morano saw fit to write that "His wife, the Boston-born Susan Boyd-Bowman, actually surrendered her U.S. citizenship to become a UK citizen...Though she lists her primary residence as Lexington, MA, she only has a U.S. resident visa."

That came from Steve Milloy at Junkscience.com, which elicited this priceless pair of comments from someone named Frank Dias:

Hey, who cares, as long as Frank got to rant, right? (At least one of Milloy's commenters spoke up for decency.) The Third Horseman of Science Hatred, Lubos Motl, made sure to get in while the getting was good. Then Morano came back for more.

By the time they were done, there was plenty of evidence making it clear why Emanuel might feel (to some extent) the way he did. Or why others witnessing this sorry episode might now feel the same way. Way to go, guys.

It's clear now that this is an accepted strategy by these people to terrorize -- yes, it's a form of terrorism -- scientists who speak up on climate science. It's deliberate, it's purposeful, and it's cyberterrorism.

I wonder if Anthony Watts has denied these threats?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Steven Weinberg on The Beginning

“We don’t know if the universe is infinitely old or if there was a first moment; but neither view is absurd, and the choice between them will not be made by intuition, or by philosophy or theology, but by the ordinary methods of science.”

-- Steven Weinberg

Too Good


I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one of them (Occupy DC)

We are not camping (Occupy DC)

Via Flickr.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

An Apology to President Obama

A woman in Los Angeles who had felt that President Obama had let down the middle class -- she changed her party registration from Democrat to Independent and had blacked out the top of the "h" on her Obama bumper sticker, so that it read, "Got nope" instead of "got hope" -- wrote an open letter of apology to President Obama because she was able to obtain health insurance under the federal government's Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (part of President Obama's healthcare plan) after she got cancer.
So this is my public apology. I'm sorry I didn't do enough of my own research to find out what promises the president has made good on. I'm sorry I didn't realize that he really has stood up for me and my family, and for so many others like us. I'm getting a new bumper sticker to cover the one that says "Got nope." It will say "ObamaCares."
Funny how that stuff works, isn't it?

And allow me to take this opportunity to say that Rick Santorum is a disgusting piece of puke who isn't even worthy of his Google link. Not just for his pure hatred of GLBTs and absurd arguments in defense of his bigotry. Here is what he said to a woman in Keene, New Hampshire yesterday:
Earlier, at a town hall meeting in the basement of the public library in Keene, Santorum was gently confronted about health insurance by an emergency room nurse who had just worked an overnight shift and apologized for being tired.

She said her son, who recently graduated from college, had been diagnosed with cancer at age 5. Why, she wanted to know, should her son pay more for health insurance as an adult when he had done nothing wrong and had not caused his own health woes.

“You believe that someone with a healthcare issue should pay the same amount as a healthy person?” he asked.

The nurse replied that she did.

“That’s not how it works,” said Santorum, comparing health insurance to auto insurance. “People with higher risk should pay more. Why should we charge more to people who have done everything right?”
That's right, Santorum thinks a 5-year old child did something 'wrong' and that's why he got cancer. And it's fine if the guy now is priced out of buying health insurance, or can't buy it at any price because of his health history. Santorum thinks people should be treated like cars.

Rick Perry Science Fail

Rick Perry at tonight's New Hampshire debate:
"We're going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in at literally
the speed of light."
(Plus, you can't see something coming at you at the speed of light because light is how you see.)

The 2nd Battle of the Carbon Tax War

Things are getting hot with the European airline carbon tax. China says it won't pay it, and U.S. is complaining too, and Europe is sticking to its guns.

Here is the basic idea, via the BBC:
Under the scheme...a pot of carbon credits will be created, set at 97% of the aviation industry's 2004-6 emissions.

These will be divided up between carriers according to how much pollution their flights caused in 2010.

Airlines will get 85% of their permits free, with the remaining 15% being auctioned.

Because so many are given away, the EU says the whole scheme will add just over £2 to a London-to-New York flight.

If airlines want more, they have to buy them, but equally if they have too many, they can sell them to other carriers.

"For example, British Airways, if they emit less than the cap, they have extra allowances which they can sell to make a profit," said Mr Valero.
They go on:
The aviation industry does not think this outcome will be very common. The latest figures from IATA show air passenger traffic grew by 8.2% in 2010.

"Our estimates are that it would add close to one billion euros ($1.4bn, £862m) in the first year on to the industry's costs and this is an the industry running on a margin of 0.7%," said Mr Goater from IATA.
So how much carbon dioxide does the airline industry emit (in the name of its passengers)? About 2-3% of worldwide emissions (half of that comes from US airlines). Wikipedia says there has been an 87% increase in airline emissions from 1990 to 2006.

But it's complicated by (1) other emissions, and (2) the altitude at which planes fly, and the total forcing from aviation may be as much as 5% of net anthropogenic forcing. A source in Wikipedia says
...per passenger a typical economy-class New York to Los Angeles round trip produces about 715 kg (1574 lb) of CO2, but is equivalent to 1,917 kg (4,230 lb) of CO2 when the high altitude “climatic forcing” effect is taken into account.
That's a lot--"more than nine times the annual emissions of an average denizen of Haiti." The average American now emits about 19,000 kg CO2 per year, so one round trip flight across the country is about 10% of that.

Delta Air Lines has already started a $3 surcharge to flights between the US and Europe (which is cheap for 2 metric tons of CO2). Singapore Airlines says they're going to try to reduce their emissions via better fuel efficiency (but might impose a surcharge later). Hey, that's just what a Pigovian tax is supposed to do!

So what's going to happen? I sure don't know, but my guess is that China and the US will continue to piss and moan about it, Europe will stick to their guns, and then the airlines will start quietly paying the fees and in time everyone will find something else to be outraged about. That worked with the Australian carbon tax, didn't it?

Brad Johnson Does It Again

Brad Johnson of Think Progress Green has done it again:
July 25, 2011: "As the Arctic ice collapses, global weather patterns are changing in unpredictable ways. The jet stream is being pushed 'further south and bringing arctic cold to much of Eurasia and Japan' and 'increased precipitation and colder temperatures in the winter' in North America...."
January 6, 2012: "Fueled by billions of tons of greenhouse pollution, a surge of record warmth has flooded the United States, shattering records from southern California to North Dakota."
Reminder: The think tank who runs Think Progress refuses to reveal its funders. You can be sure Consistency Inc. isn't one of them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Steve Goddard Bullshit Alert

Steve Goddard tells us there has been no warming in the Arctic in the last 7 years according to RSS data. And why might he have chosen the number "7"?

As if anyone has to ask anymore:



Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Entertaining Roy Spencer's Fit to His Temperature Data

The UAH temperature anomaly for the lower troposphere is +0.127°C, the 12th-warmest December in the 33 years of their records. The year 2011 is the 9th-warmest year, and the coldest year since 2004.

The last 10 years (120 months) are 0.21°C warmer than the preceding 10 years (120 months).

As he does every month, Roy Spencer includes a 3rd-order polynomial fit for the data, "for entertainment purposes only":



Why 3rd-order? Perhaps because here's what the 6th-order fit looks like:


Notice that little hike upward there at the end.... And actually a 6th-order fit has a better correlation coefficient than does the 3rd-order fit:
R(3rd-order fit) = 0.3901
R(6th-order fit) = 0.3951

What does Spencer's fit "predict" for the future?

Jan 2050: -5.8°C
Jan 2100: -50.2°C

Those are some entertaining "predictions" -- the "planet" at the end of this century "will have" an average temperature of "-33°F." Naturally the commenters at WUWT are excited about Spencer's fit because they think it's starting to show a downward trend.

By the way, the 10-year slope of the UAH global LT data is 0.032 ± 0.049 °C/decade. Notice it's not negative.

Aren't statistics fun? They can say so many different things, all at the same time....

Monday, January 02, 2012

Two More Iraq War Deaths

Shouldn't this count as Iraq War carnage? An Iraq veteran with probable PTSD fired shots at a house party in Seattle on New Year's day, then shot a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park, and then apparently took his own life by dying of exposure in a snowfield.

Wars don't end just because the troops pull out.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Presenting One of the Iowa Idiots Who Will Determine Our Next President

I like to keep my rhetoric to a polite level here, so I'll only say that here is the kind of unthinking, blinkered, know-nothing idiot whose vote in Iowa will have an grossly disproportionate influence on who our next President is: Douglas Sarver of Oskaloose, Iowa. He's a serious conservative who's in favor of shrinking government because, he says, "I think government gets in the way too much, they get their hands in too many things and that's not what they were designed by our forefathers to do," while working at a wind farm owned by TIP Composites Inc that has received tax credits championed by the Obama administration.



TPI Composites is an Arizona-based company, and was so proud of being mentioned in President Obama's announcement of $2.3 billion in tax credits to American manufacturers of clean energy that they put a video of it on their Web site. In fact, Iowa companies have received $160 million in subsidies from the Department of Energy, and in August six Republican candidates for president made a show of signing their names to a wind turbine produced by TPI. Seems Iowa voters like wind power -- a poll last year found that 85 percent had a favorable image of wind energy companies, higher than companies in solar (76 percent), natural gas (68 percent), nuclear power (51 percent), coal (48 percent) and oil (30 percent) -- and Iowa gets 20% of its electricity from wind.

A GOP rep in Iowa said the tax credit generated 700 jobs at TPI. I wonder if Douglas Sarver's job is one of them.... I almost hope Sarver casts the winning vote for a small-government conservative who goes on to be elected President and passes a budget that reduces our big, nasty, bloated government and in so-doing eliminates this tax credit so that Sarver loses his job and he can sit downwind of a coal power plant and whine and bitch about the gummint without a single fucking clue what went on or how his own stupidity drew the across his own throat. Almost.

Really, let's stop playing around and just hand the keys to the Douglas Sarvers of our nation, so we can get our demise over with and reboot this place, OK?