Monday, July 27, 2009

World Record Plunge

Some guy rides a kayak over a 186 foot waterfall. Wow.

102 F

Just hit 102°F here in northern Oregon. (The average daily high for today is 81°F.)

The last three months have been about 2°F above normal. The last 12 months have been about 1°F below normal.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Arctic sea ice update

By the way, Arctic sea ice extent is about 8% above the 2007 level (and 4% below last year's level), but in the last few weeks it has begun to decrease quite rapidly. A month ago I would have guessed it would not reach 2007's record low, but now I'm not so sure.

(Click to enlarge.)

June by Hadley

The Hadley Centre's June 09 global temperature anomaly is up: +0.494°C. That makes the month, by their measurement, the warmest June since 2005, and the third warmest June in their records (which go back to 1850).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Great Eclipse Photos

The Boston Globe's photo blog The Big Picture has a lot of great photos of yesterday's solar eclipse in Asia.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Today's Moon Landing

Television coverage of the moon landing if it was today, from Slate V:

Louis CK

Louis CK: "We live in an amazing, amazing world, and it's wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots."

via: Terry Gold

Friday, July 17, 2009

The World's Happiest Man

The New York Times has an article about the man who is purportedly the "world's happiest":
Daniel Goleman wonders if science can explain the good cheer of the “world's happiest man.”
These kind of article are really annoying. Of course science can't explain this man's good cheer. "Cheer" is a human, value-laden term that is completely subjective, not to mention exceedingly vague, and can't be scientifically defined.

So is the claim of "happiest."

Science is good with electrons and cells and even neutron stars. It's not applicable to made-up, undefined terms like "cheer." Can we stop this silliness?

Chris Mooney's latest bad idea

Chris Mooney continues to put forth bad ideas in the name of what he thinks is needed to solve the climate change problem, ideas that are actually dangerous. He (again) just doesn't understand what science is or how it works.

In an interview in Discover magazine blog hawking his book, Mooney says:
Q: Chris pointed out here that climate change denier extraordinaire Marc Morano may be dead wrong, but he’s articulate, well funded, and there’s no one on the science side that competes with him. What specifically can be done to change that?

A: It’s simple: Things won’t change until the world of science invests in creating counter-Moranos. There are many talented and extremely young intelligent people in science today who could fill that role, but there is little training available for them, and even less of a career trajectory for them to get there.

Note what he's suggesting: that the climate change community should emulate somehow who is "dead wrong."

This is so misguided it's hard to believe anyone would suggest it. It's also untrue, as things have "changed" in Europe and elsewhere without Morano-like spinning.

Look: science has one thing going for it -- just one thing. But it is everything. And that is intellectual integrity. That is its only strength, in this crappy world of hype and spin and media manipulation. But it is everything.

As soon as you abandon intellectual integrity, as Marc Morano has done, as Drudge has done, s soon are you start listing how cold it was in Timber Falls, Idaho or northeastern India yesterday, and all of that crap... you give away the whole game. You stoop to their level. You lose the only thing that science really has -- honestly.

Science has nothing else going for it. It isn't easy to understand. It takes a long time. It can be expensive.

But in the end it is always right.

Science has never lost one, not even one, intellectual argument, ever. Science always finds the answer, without spin, without hype, in any controversial subject: lead in gasoline, the ozone hole, the structure of the solar system, DDT, mercury in vaccinations, the purported ether, quantum mechanics, you name it.

Science always wins. Always.

Read you history and see how the scientists who called out the deleterious effects of lead in gasoline where treated by the industry. Or how Rachel Carson was harrassed by the chemical industry. What's happening now isn't anything different.

Rachel Carson didn't win by playing their game. Nor did Galileo. They won by sticking to science.

Yes, good science and its communication takes time. But it's not that slow, really. Look at where the world is today, compared to 10 years ago. Yes, that 10 years is a dangerous delay, but it's inevitable, and necessary, even in countries where scientific literacy is purportedly high. Europe hasn't exactly set any standards with how to deal with the climate problem.

The absolute worst thing science could do would be to emulate its opponents and submit to spin and hype and "reframing." These are terrible ideas, thought up by the unscientific. Reframing is just another word for spin, dolled-up.

The moment you abandon real science and resort to spinning and Morano-like tactics, you have admitted to losing the game. You might get a bill passed in the next Congress, but nothing permanent will come of it and the cause of science will be lost.

Scientists know this, which is why they stick to science. Activists don't know it, which is why they look foolish and no one listens to them except the choir.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Warmest Day Ever?

Roger Pielke Jr. presents the UAH chart showing that this past Tuesday was, globally, the warmest day since at least 1998. In fact, it was warmer than even that monster year.

But global temperatures declined on Wednesday, signifying the start of yet another global cooling phase.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What *is* up with this?

True to form, WUWT questions the June GISS temperature data because it's too high for their liking. When it's low, they accept the data without question. But when it's high, the data are wrong.

Meanwhile, ClimateDepot doesn't even mention the GISS data. But it was colder than usual in New York recently....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Palin's Op-Ed Against Cap-and-Trade

Sarah Palin's op-ed in the Washington Post is truly remarkable -- in an entire piece on cap-and-trade, she does not address at all the reason why cap-and-trade is being considered, let alone provide any alternatives. Not once does she admit that carbon buildup in a danger, or that global warming exists, or that there are costs to not restricting carbon buildup in the atmosphere and oceans. Not once.

The closest she comes is this sentence:
Just as important, we have more desire and ability to protect the environment than any foreign nation from which we purchase energy today.
That's it, a statement that is so general as to be useless, and probably not even true.


P.S.: Basic economics -- If we don't make carbon-based energy more expensive, people won't use less of it, and there will be no incentive for anyone to invest in noncarbon sources. The price of carbon-based energy must increase.

2nd Warmest June

NASA GISS says that last month was the second-warmest June in their records (after only 1998), +0.63°C above the baseline.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Arctic Sea Ice decreasing in Volume

Here's a paper people have been anticipating: the decrease in Arctic sea ice volume, and not just the 2-dimensional extent.
Kwok, R., G. F. Cunningham, M. Wensnahan, I. Rigor, H. J. Zwally, and D. Yi (2009), Thinning and volume loss of the Arctic Ocean sea ice cover: 2003–2008, J. Geophys. Res., 114, C07005, doi:10.1029/2009JC005312.
There's a lot of methodology and crosschecks to wade through in the paper, but basically they find that is getting thinner due to warmer temperatures. -- and, of course, volume is a better indicator than mere extent. They find the older ice has thinned by about 0.6 m over the last five years (the ice is about 2-3 m thick, depending on the time of year).
Along with a more than 42% decrease in multiyear (MY) ice coverage since 2005, there was a remarkable thinning of ~0.6 m in MY ice thickness over 4 years. In contrast, the average thickness of the seasonal ice in midwinter (~2 m), which covered more than two-thirds of the Arctic Ocean in 2007, exhibited a negligible trend. Average winter sea ice volume over the period, weighted by a loss of ~3000 km^3 between 2007 and 2008, was ~14,000 km^3. The total MY ice volume in the winter has experienced a net loss of 6300 km^3 (>40%) in the 4 years since 2005, while the first-year ice cover gained volume owing to increased overall area coverage. The overall decline in volume and thickness are explained almost entirely by changes in the MY ice cover. Combined with a large decline in MY ice coverage over this short record, there is a reversal in the volumetric and areal contributions of the two ice types to the total volume and area of the Arctic Ocean ice cover. Seasonal ice, having surpassed that of MY ice in winter area coverage and volume, became the dominant ice type. It seems that the near-zero replenishment of the MY ice cover after the summers of 2005 and 2007, an imbalance in the cycle of replenishment and ice export, has played a significant role in the loss of Arctic sea ice volume over the ICESat record.
From an AGU press release:
"Even in years when the overall extent of sea ice remains stable or grows slightly, the thickness and volume of the ice cover is continuing to decline, making the ice more vulnerable to continued shrinkage," says Ron Kwok, senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and leader of the study.
It will be interesting to see how this gets spun (around).

Interesting Stuff

Some interesting stuff (to me, at least) that I've come across lately:
  • UAH temperature anomaly for June: +0.01°C. It's up (0.12°C from last June)! It's down! There's something in it for everyone.
  • Could there be any relation between the relative flattening of methane concentrations in the atmosphere over the last several years and the relative flattening of global temperatures? Methane levels: For example, the A1B economic scenario assumes methane levels go from 1760 ppb in 2000 to 1845 ppb in 2008, whereas methane levels only made it to about 1780 ppb. Is that a significant difference?
  • A perfect example of how regulation spurs innovation.
  • Are we entering a new Little Ice Age? This whole mirrored climate science thing is getting weird. Each side has their own papers, their own conferences, their own (N)IPCC reports....
  • Everett Ruess tramped alone around the west when it was still wild, then disappeared at the age of 20. He has since become a legend... and now his skeleton has been found (after being murdered).
  • Great line: I watched The Long Riders over the weekend, and there's a great scene where, during a train robbery by the James/Younger gang, the outlaw Bob Younger runs atop a moving train and, with a pistol in each hand, leaps down into the locomotive. The engineers back looks at him kind of annoyingly and says, "What are you aimin' to do?" and Younger says "I ain't aimin' to do nothin' -- I'm doin' it!"

Friday, July 03, 2009

Palin in 2012

Ordinarily I might despair about the prospect of another dumb anti-intellectual, anti-science candidate running for President...but in any 2012 campaign, I'm quite sure Barack Obama will not only clean Sarah Palin's clock, he will rewire it, put on a fresh coat of paint, and promptly set it to back to the correct time.

Nothing to worry about here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

About Copenhagen

"No one I talk to thinks there is going to be anything significant to come out of Copenhagen. We are going to come out and recover the deckchairs in preparation for moving them as the Titanic sinks. We're not even at the stage of rearranging them."

--Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre, The Guardian, 23 June 2009

via: Benny Peiser (email)

Mary Oliver poem

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-- Mary Oliver

Cost of Waxman/Markey

There have been so many purported cost analyses of Waxman/Markey that any sane person has to be confused, suspect, and pissed off. I have seen numbers from $129/household/yr to $3900/household/yr.

As must be obvious from any analysis that gives numbers differing by a factor of 25, they are all probably bullshit. No one knows within a factor of N, where N ~2-5.

The bill itself is so fucking complicated that it's almost impossible to know what it means. Of course, we couldn't have just imposed a straight tax of X% on emitted carbon.

The argument was that a percentage carbon tax doesn't allow control of the maximum level of carbon emissions. But we calculate (via models) carbon emissions every year, to about four or five significant places, and so we must know, within 12-24 months, if a particular Y% carbon tax is working to reduce emissions by Z%. If not, adjust it.

And why in the hell are we giving away emission credits for free? That's my atmosphere, and yours, and the citizens in Uganda and France and Japan and Brazil. I have a right to an unpolluted atmosphere. If you want to pollute it, then reimburse me. The federal government shouldn't be handing out emission permits like candy, but instead charging for every ton, the revenue of which will go right back to every American, just like Alaskans receive a yearly payment for Alaskan oil. (Who said it's their oil anyway? Aren't we one country here?)

This is reminiscent of the giveaway of the digital spectrum about a decade ago -- a direct transfer of wealth from the public to corporate America worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And Republicans have the nerve to talk about "class warfare" against the rich.

But here's the question: you're driving in a car towards a cliff (think young James Kirk in the new Star Trek movie). Should you apply the breaks and pay the cost of losing a bit of your brake drum, or should you ignore it and drive over the cliff?

No analysis I've seen has yet considered the cost of not addressing climate change. And not addressing climate change means carbon dioxide keeps exponentially increasing at about 0.7% a year from now to...when?

And does that mean a 2°C increase in global temperatures? Almost all scientists now say, yes. They are now saying it's probably too late to prevent a warming of at least 2°C.

American's aren't up on metric units, so let's just note that that's 4°F. That's 2/3rds of an Ice Age.

So if we can't stop at 4°F, where can we stop? The frank truth is that we're doing essentially nothing to curtail worldwide increases in CO2, and Waxman/Markey will not have much effect on this trend, if any. It will get us in the habit of thinking about carbon, which is its best attribute, but if there has been this much fight about merely passing this bill, can you imagine the hallabaloo if Obama and Congress really tried to address climate change, i.e. get us off carbon completely?

It is politically impossible. And, with current technologies, technologically impossible.

The American public just doesn't realize this. They think if they buy a hybrid car and buy Energy Star appliances the climate change problem will go away. When in truth is will hardly even begin to be addressed at that point, as civilization is currently configured.

We are in for a world of hurt. I hope James Inhofe and Marc Morano are around in the year 2030. I'd really, really like to know what they have to say then. 'Course, Inhofe, Singer, Avery, D'Aleo, Michaels, McIntyre... will all be dead. Perhaps they could at least leave us a statement titled: "In Case I Was Wrong...."


I'm sorry, but I love everything about this song:

If I were choosing songs to go on a golden record on a space probe to the outer reaches of the galaxy, this would be my second song (right after Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto).

Sacha Baron Cohen

Is it just me, or does anyone else find Sacha Baron Cohen wholly unfunny and already a tiresome bore? As Ali G his mock interviews were very clever, and he was funny for maybe about 10 minutes as "Borat," and I even liked him when he portrayed an angel in Heaven in Curb Your Enthusiasm, but by now his whole shtick is worn and, worse, obviously calculated, and his movie hasn't even come out yet. Everything he does exudes a tincture of of insincerity, and he's just playing off offensive stereotypes anyway.

Maybe he is funny in Europe. Maybe he is funny if you're younger. I don't think he's funny at all.

Are the Oceans Warming?

On his blog yesterday Roger Pielke Sr. wrote that "Their has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003."

ClimateDepot picked that up, of course (strangely calling it an "article). In any case, I don't think it's true. Here's the most recent data I was able to find (click to enlarge):

Source: Levitus, S., J. I. Antonov, T. P. Boyer, R. A. Locarnini, H. E. Garcia, and A. V. Mishonov (2009), Global ocean heat content 1955–2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07608, doi:10.1029/2008GL037155.

On Climate Politics

Thomas Friedman on climate politics:
"Play hardball or don’t play at all."

Source: NY Times, July 1