Saturday, August 18, 2018

Powerful magnitude 8.2 earthquakes strikes near Fiji, no tsunami triggered -

M8.2 EQ near Fiji.: 2018-08-19 00:19:37 UPDATED: (M8.2) Fiji region -18.2 -178.1 (2b02a)

Near Fiji. An M8.2 EQ is pretty big. An M > 8 happens only about one and a fraction times per year....

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 2018-08-19 00:19:37 UPDATED: (M8.2) Fiji region -18.2 -178.1 (2b02a)
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 00:38:39 +0000
From: USGS ENS <>

M8.2 Earthquake - Fiji region

Preliminary Report
Magnitude 8.2
  • 19 Aug 2018 00:19:37 UTC
  • 19 Aug 2018 12:19:37 near epicenter
  • 18 Aug 2018 16:19:37 standard time in your timezone
Location 18.165S 178.144W
Depth 559 km
  • 269.0 km (166.8 mi) E of Levuka, Fiji
  • 326.9 km (202.7 mi) SE of Labasa, Fiji
  • 361.3 km (224.0 mi) E of Suva, Fiji
  • 448.7 km (278.2 mi) E of Ba, Fiji
  • 451.3 km (279.8 mi) NW of Nuku�alofa, Tonga
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 9.2 km; Vertical 6.4 km
Parameters Nph = 102; Dmin = 405.2 km; Rmss = 1.01 seconds; Gp = 24°
Version =
Event ID us 1000gcii ***This event supersedes event AT00PDOM8Q,PT18231000.
For updates, maps, and technical information
see: Event Page or USGS Earthquake Hazards Program
National Earthquake Information Center
U.S. Geological Survey



Thursday, August 16, 2018

U.S. Drought

Drought is starting to look serious.  This is the first time I've seen "extreme drought" pop up in Oregon this year. In Salem there's been no recordable rainfall since May.

49.5% of the country (USA50) is at least abnormally dry -- 17% is at least in a moderate drought. A year ago that latter number was only 4%.

John Fleck has an interesting post about how the ongoing drought in the southwest is forecasted to affect water supplies there. (Though the monsoon has delivered more rainfall there than usual.)Water cutbacks for Arizona and Nevada are expected by January 2020.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


I don't believe evil is some universal substance or essence that infects certain people and causes them to do "evil" things. I think it's actually scarier than that -- it's ideas in all of us that most of us successfully suppress. How do some people fail? Evil behavior seems to be an absolute lack of concern for others, an insistence that one be free to act on anything they want, need or imagine. Robert Louis Stevenson said "we all have thoughts that would shame hell." But why do some people, those who do "evil" things, fail to suppress those ideas and instead act on them? It's an immensely complex question, of course, to which I don't have the slightest answer, as no one does. Perhaps that's why it's imagined as some black nebulous energy field that pervades the universe and, from time to time, invades certain people -- it's the best sense we can make of something so astonishingly senseless. We all wonder what we would have done as a German citizen during the Third Reich. It's easy to say in hindsight, but if we were in that time it's not be so straightforward and easy. Almost all Americans witnessed "evil" (in my opinion) in the separation of parents and children at southern border crossings recently, people we wanted to apply for asylum, meaning they weren't illegal immigrants. The situation drew outrage, but most of us (I mean Americans) watched the situation and did nothing. We assumed someone else would act to defeat this pop-up of evil.

But if anything the report on the behavior of some Pennsylvania Catholic priests is so shocking that its seems evil was widely running amuck. The behaviors are absolutely shocking. These excerpts are all from the NY Times:

These evil acts were committed by men supposedly of God, not by wild-eyed psychopaths or suave operators. (Note: we need better psychopath detectors.) If it happened in any other organization than a church, that group would be shamed and disbanded, the perpetrators (and those who covered for them) frog-marched into police stations and given long prison sentences.

Most of these barbarities happened in the 1960s and '70s, in towns around where I was growing up, such as Greensburg and Pittsburgh. My mother was Catholic who won a scholarship to attend an all-girls Catholic school in Pittsburgh (actually, I think she saw this as the best time of her life), and before she was married thought seriously about becoming a nun. We attended a Catholic church in the nearest town -- not Greensburg, but not far away -- up until I was maybe six or seven. I was baptised in the Catholic church, but never confirmed. I was never an alter boy. I didn't know the priest of our church besides briefly meeting him on the way out. Now I wonder. My father was a Methodist and apparently didn't like Catholicism, so we went to a Methodist church for awhile, which my mother didn't like. By the time I was 10 or so we stopped going to church altogether, which was fine with me. I attended a Bible study class once for a week, which mostly involved long bus rides through hill and dale and me thinking alot about boobs. But I still like going into a quiet, beautiful Catholic church, the way the thick doors and walls block out all street noise, creating a new universe inside with the votive candles alight, an organ playing softly, and voices echoing off the high ceiling and walls. I've attended and appreciated a few Catholic masses on Christmas Eve over the years (and some Protestant services too). But I'm completely irreligious now and don't believe in any of that. How could anyone stay a Catholic after all the abuse scandals over recent decades -- I simply cannot understand that. (Some can't.) The Church has been as immoral as anyone, for decades now -- the utter opposite of what it pretends to be. But you know, I'll probably again sit in a Catholic church for a while and absorb its environment, if the situation arises.

I once saw this in a Steven Weinberg book I was reading -- I forget which -- but it never struck me as much as during the last few days:

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Interesting Things, August 8 2018

California has it highest average July temperature since records started in 1895, and also its hottest month ever. In the last 30 years it has warmed at an incredible +0.35 °C/decade (+0.64 °F/decade).

(Granted, California is large and has several different climate zones. If I get to it I'll look at some specific weather stations.) (But I probably won't get to it.)

Overall the continental US had its 11th warmest July (NOAA). Its 30-year warming trend is +0.28 °C/dec (+0.51 °F/dec).
NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) has been cancelled, assumedly by the White House. But it hadn't been funded by Congress. It cost $10 M/yr. A scientist said, "If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the [Paris] agreement." But how accurately can emissions be measured from space? I'm dubious.
Climate Researchers Warn Only Hope For Humanity Now Lies In Possibility They Making All Of This Up (The Onion)
A satellite picture of smoke over USA48, via the HERR model. Via Eric Snodgrass's weekly discussion of Pacific NW weather. (I don't know what the units of the scale are.)

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Is There a Plan B?

Naomi: "Is there a plan B?"

Holden: "Yeah, make sure Plan A works."

- The Expanse, S2 E13, "Caliban's War"

Still no date for The Expanse to appear on Amazon Prime without an extra charge. This fall, is what I've read. You maybe have heard that SyFy cancelled The Expanse in May 2018, after three seasons. But Amazon picked it up a few weeks later and is funding Season 4. 

The Expanse gets the top award, in my opinion, for making life in space as compatible with real physics and engineering as any sci-fi show I've ever seen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Supreme Court Rules on Kid's Climate Lawsuit

Yesterday: "The Supreme Court Refuses to Halt a Climate Change Lawsuit Brought by Children and Teenages." (Pacific Standard)

Rejecting a Trump administration request, the high court let the case proceed toward a trial that’s scheduled for later this year. The administration sought to block further progress on the three-year-old Oregon case until a federal trial judge acts on the government’s bid to throw out the lawsuit.
Good for letting it proceed. This gets more interesting the higher up it goes, and as attorneys for the US opine ever more inanities about climate change.

But this sounds more promising than it probably is. What the Supremes ruled is that the US government's attempt to squash the suit yet has no merit, and the case should proceed in the lower courts. That's hardly saying the Supreme Court would rule in these kids' favor; their response was about procedures.
The justices’ order said the administration’s request was premature. The court added that breadth of the lawsuit’s claims was "striking" and the question of whether they can be decided by a court "presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion." The justices said the trial judge should take those matters into account in considering whether to make a "prompt ruling" on other government efforts to end the lawsuit.
Still, certainly better than nothing. I do hope this case does go all the way to the Supreme Court. I think there's little chance they wouldn't rule against it -- especially once Kavanaugh is confirmed -- but it would bring the cause to national attention in a new and unique way. And it won't be the last legal complaint, by far.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Should Facebook Censor Videos by Climate Deniers?

Bill Nye. Marc Morano.

There is a censorship trend starting up that I really hope doesn't catch on, but I'm afraid it might in this day and age.

I started noticing it in the last two weeks with regard to Facebook's problems regarding Alex Jones and Infowars. There were some mentions of climate denial in that argument too.

But for me it came front and center with Dana Nuccitelli's article in The Guardian, "Facebook video spreads climate denial misinformation to 5 million users."

As I tweeted to him, this wasn't a "Facebook video," it was a video by a Facebook user. Big difference. No reply from him. That's OK. I'm small fry.

But once you start telling us who should be getting censored (and, therefore, who shouldn't be), don't be surprised when fortunes change and YOU'RE the one getting censored.


I don't want Dana Nuccitelli and the SkS boys telling us who should be censored for their views on climate change.

Or Mark Zuckerberg and his boys.

I'm not in favor of anyone getting censored for their views. Should the phone companies -- AT&T, Verizon, Sprint -- start denying climate skeptics ("skeptics") the right to talk on the phone to other climate skeptics?

Should the Heartland Institute not be allowed to host a conference call with the press -- whichever press wishes to dial in -- to spout their stupid climate change denial?

Not be allowed to put up a billboard, if they wish? PLEASE, let them do it again. Did anything do more to ruin their reputation. (No, I don't think so.)

Once you start telling us should be censored, by Facebook or whoever, don't come back and complain when later you're the one getting censored, when fortunes change.

Can't happen, right? You're on the side of good and they're on the side of evil.


This is, to be blunt, an arrogance that I see in the Skeptical Science people that I've never been able to quite shake. 97%! We run classes! We don't have time for you and your silliness.

THAT'S what worries me about these new attempts to censor inconvenient ideas.

Not that I think those ideas are right -- I think Marc Morano is a well-paid propagandist and a climate criminal -- but don't tell me who you think we should be censoring.

Free speech is inconvenient, but necessary.

The only thing worse than allowing Marc Morano's videos to be seen by 5 million people is censoring him in the first place.

US Wildfire Numbers

With all the news of fires in the West, especially the Carr Fire in northern California, I thought I'd look at the statistics. This year-to-date is a little worse than average (3.7 M acres) for the last 11 years. The trend line is positive, but I'm not going to draw it because with only 11 years of data it's not very statistically significant.

However, the annual data go back much further:

The trend is +65,000 acres/yr, about 1.5% per year.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Oregon's Lead Climate Denier Gets Respiration Wrong

Here's a hoot: Oregon's leading climate change denier, Gordon Fulks, thinks the CO2 from human respiration contributes to climate change.

Here's Fulks' comment on a 7/26 article at Capital Press -- "The West's Ag Weekly Since 1928," titled "Editorial: Avoiding Portland traffic at all costs."

Note the highlighted portion. Fulks thinks human respiration is a sizable portion of human emissions.

Let's just cut to the chase: respiration is carbon neutral. Our bodies don't create carbon atoms, they just recycle them. The CO2 we exhale comes from (1) the CO2 we inhale, (2) the C-O2 joining of molecules where the carbon atom comes from the plants we eat, who themselves inhale carbon, and (3) from the carbon atoms in the meat we eat, which come from the plants eaten by cows, chickens, and pigs (etc), who inhaled CO2.

Respiration -- of ALL living things -- doesn't create carbon or CO2. We just recycle it.

If we (and the other breathing animals going back to 200 Myrs ago or before -- did create CO2, it would have been, with trillions of animals breathing (if not more), building up in the atmosphere and ocean at this time.

Of course, it was not.

It's hard to understand why anyone, denier or not, could get this so wrong.

Especially Fulks, who always makes a point of signing his name with his PhD, and who has more than once pointed out that he has the same education from the same alma mater (U Chicago) as James Hansen -- as if that gives him the same right to an opinion.


But let's play along a little bit. Global CO2 emissions in 2015 were about 38 Gt CO2 -- about 34 Gt CO2 from burning fossil fuels, and the rest from changes in land use.

Oregon's 2015 CO2 emissions, at least from burning fossil fuels, was 38 Mt CO2. That is indeed about 0.1% of global emissions.

Gordon thinks human respiration emits 60 times that, or about 2.3 Gt CO2. Divided by 7 billion people, that's 325 kg CO2/person/yr, or 0.9 kg CO2/person/day.

Which is indeed what I've seen referenced before.

Except none of it is new CO2. It's just recycled carbon atoms attaching to, when they get the chance, oxygen atoms.

It's not fossil carbon, buried for a few hundred million years.

It's carbon already in the atmosphere-land-ocean system, cycling around as carbo does. That's all.

Fulks is flat out wrong.

I wonder if the denier groups he's "affiliated" with -- once the Cascade Policy Institute in Oregon, and, still it appears, and the Heartland Institute -- care that one of their people is making freshman-level errors.

OR maybe they're used to it.

Local Fire North of Sublimity, Oregon

Update next day: Turns out this was a permitted, controlled burn of 389 acres. (Permits for lung protection must be applied for separately.)
This summer it again seems like half of Oregon is on fire. There's a fire burning about five miles north of here. I saw the big plume of smoke when I went out to the store, and drove out a few miles past Sublimity to have a look. I think it's just a grass fire, but it's putting up a lot of smoke. Of course I took some pictures.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

US Attorneys: The US Isn't Contributing to Climate Change

You may have heard of the lawsuit filed by 21 children in 2015, many of them from Oregon, alleging that climate change violates the rights of future generations. (Specifically rights granted under the  9th Amendment, which says that the rights granted in the Bill of Rights are not necessarily the only rights retained by the people.) The case been winding its way through this court and that, and I haven't really kept up with all the details except to know the case still hasn't been spiked.

The U.S. government wants, of course, to have the case dismissed, and has tried various arguments to accomplish that. Their latest attempt, presented in the District Court in Eugene, Oregon, is interesting: that the climate change problem is real, but it's global and so outside of the hands of the U.S. From the Courthouse News Service:
"In oral arguments on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Frank Singer acknowledged that some of the injuries the kids claimed they have suffered, like the flooding of their homes during hurricanes or asthma from polluted air, may indeed be traceable to climate change and could give the kids standing to bring their lawsuit.

"But Singer claimed that the government couldn’t possibly manage to resolve what amounts to a global problem, saying U.S. action alone can’t return the planet to the 350 parts per million of dissolved carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists have deemed to be the safe threshold."
I wonder if the White House knows its own lawyers are admitting that climate change is real and serious.

The US attorney actually went farther than that:
“The United States government doesn’t force people to drive their cars or command them to ride in planes,” Singer said. “It’s a matter of arithmetic. It is really third parties that are contributing to this. It is not the United States. And so this case fails.”
That doesn't strike me as a very intelligent argument; in fact, it's obviously wrong, as the US has contributed more than any other nation to the problem, in terms of cumulative CO2 emissions.

Maybe lawyers just throw arguments against the wall and see what sticks.

I doubt these kids (many now college-aged) will win this suit, in the end. Some judge will find a way to throw it out, and the Supreme Court finally will, if necessary.

But it's interesting because you to have to think there are going to be a great many lawsuits coming in the next half-century, as coastal cities start to go underwater and people start to lose homes on the coast. Such losses won't be so theoretical and will have actual dollar values attached to them. Homeowners and the banks who finance their mortgages aren't going to just walk away from, say, a million dollar home on the beach -- they're going to argue climate change isn't their fault and they want reimbursed for their real, tangible loss. Who's going to get stuck holding the bag? It'll be a game of climate musical chairs. I doubt taxpayers will fare well in those attempts to seek justice.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Increasing Temperatures of ENSO Seasons by Type

Awhile ago I posted about the temperatures of different types of ENSO seasons -- La Ninas, El Ninos, and neutral seasons -- and said I would put up a graph that showed these in a better context. Here it is:

There are the average NOAA surface temperatures for each ENSO season, which runs from July to the following June. (So 2007.0 is for the ENSO season July 2006 - June 2007). This differs from plotting ENSO temperatures versus year, which never made sense to me, especially when an ENSO goes from late in one year to early in another (like the La Nina of 2017-2018, or the El Nino of 1997-1998.)

I started in the climate business about 2018 (when, for about a year, I actually thought AGW was overblown -- until I actually learned something about it, starting with Ross Gelbspan's book), and I remember the talk then was about the "monster" El Nino of 1997-98. In just 20 years that record has been beaten three times. The most recent monster El Nino, 2015-2016, was about 0.4°C higher than the previous monster 1997-98, which itself was about 0.4°C higher than the 1982-83 monster El Nino season. Something is going on here.