Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hadley's March temperature

The Hadley Centre pegs last month as the 2nd warmest March in their 160-yr records, after only 2002. In third place is March 1998.

Unlike NASA GISS, Hadley does not put the last 12 months as the warmest 12-mth period ever. In fact, they do not even put the last 10-yr moving average as the warmest ever -- that peaked in August 2007 by their records, though right now the 10-yr MA is only 0.006°C below that number....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Sleeping Alone" by Amy Miller

Sleeping Alone

to the neighbor’s dog
and bark.
He must
be very big,
his mouth as big
as my head,
as big
as a Macy’s Day float,
his corridor throat
commanding me
to hear:
I am one
in the lonely bowl
of night
and there
is so

-- Amy Miller

(Apologies to Ms. Miller, but I no longer recall where I obtained this poem.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Earth vs Lindsey Graham

NY Times: Graham Pulls Support for Major Senate Climate Bill

alternative headline: Senator Lindsey Graham has a snit, decides his feelings are more important than the future of the human race.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Save the Poles

Climate change contrarians (cozily ensconced behind their computers) relish stories of those North Pole explorers who for some reason don't make it, as if that somehow disproves the science of climate change. But they never seem to cover the ones who do make it.... and on Earth Day, too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Anthony Watts' Ignorance

Anthony Watts writes:
Here’s a headline I thought I’d never see.

Why cleaner air could speed global warming

Now we hear that may be a good thing. Make up your minds!

This is an amazing admission of ignorance. It's been known for years that air pollution (SO2) is a negative climate forcing. This was detailed in the 3AR. I'm sure it's been known since before that. To act like it's now some new revelation is simply stupid.

And he's the science blog of the year? What a joke....

Is This the Story of Your Life, or What?


Reopening European Airspace

From the News:
(LONDON): Despite lingering ash in the skies from the Icelandic volcano, aviation authorities said that gaps in the cloud of grit in some places would allow for some movement in the air.
This smells like pure bullshit, pushed by a bunch of airlines who dislike losing millions of Euros a day. Gaps in the grit?? Come one, is that the best excuse they can conjure?

The Upside of the Airspace Shutdown

I know it's costing a lot of companies a lot of money (they can afford it), but there's something very uplifting about the shutdown of Europe's air space due to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. As they say, Nature always bats last.

I predict that in a few years this will be looked upon with nostalgia. It's like the eastern seaboard blackout of 2003 -- Oh My God, some people had to walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn!

I bet now they look back on that as a magical time. I hope so. All I know is that whenever things have not gone the way I expected, I more than not remember that time as especially vivid, a time I felt very alive, a time different from the countless days when you just do your work, eat dinner, and go to bed. Snow days as a kid, car breakdowns, places you end up sleeping that you would never have guessed at the beginning of the day.... They can suck when you're in them, but after awhile you learn that things always somehow work out and you end up back in equilibrium -- a little wiser, a little more jaded maybe, but a little happier too. And with a few more stories to tell, which you know you will.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NOAA Confirms: Warmest March

NOAA confirms that last month was the warmest March in the records:

NOAA: Global Temps Push Last Month to Hottest March on Record
April 15, 2010
The world’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made last month the warmest March on record, according to NOAA. Taken separately, average ocean temperatures were the warmest for any March and the global land surface was the fourth warmest for any March on record. Additionally, the planet has seen the fourth warmest January – March period on record.

Jonah Goldberg's Ignorance

Jonah Goldberg, who allegedly displays what the LA Times calls "hard-hitting insight," completely misunderstands the implications of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. He believes that it warms the planet:
Question for the Planet Gore Guys   [Jonah Goldberg]

So, how many more Priuses will the world have to buy to offset this Icelandic volcano?

Of course, every freshman knows that volcanoes cool the planet, temporarily, and do not emit nearly enough carbon dioxide to counter that.

Yet Goldberg has been allowed to publish several columns on global warming. This is the state of punditry in America.

PS: Here's a graphic that says the Eyjafjallajokull volcano has emitted about 15 Kmt/day CO2 so far, whereas the European aviation industry emits 344.109 Kmt/day CO2. I'm skeptical of any calculation that specifies six significant figures, so take this with a grain of salt.

PPS: A post on a Google group on geoengineering by Alan Robock says Eyjafjallajokull has emitted only about 0.004 Mmt of SO2 (a cooling agent), whereas 1991's Pinatubo eruption emitted 20 Mmt. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull Won't Influence Climate

It doesn't look like Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano will influence climate. So far its VEI (Volcano Explosivity Index) is about a three. By contrast, Mt St Helens was about a 4, and 1991's Pinutabo (which did influence climate, by about -1°F for a year) was about a 5. (The VEI is logarithmic.)

But it might cause a tiny bit of cooling at this rate, if it keeps enough planes out of the air! (Aviation contributes about 2-3% of worldwide CO2 emissions.)

(Figure via

Friday, April 16, 2010

Temperature Change as a Stock Price

Chris Guan:
"I think if temperature change was a stock price then the Chamber of Commerce would be buying in."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"I don't know who they think they are/
 smashing a perfectly good guitar."

Ecotopia Excerpt

Bert got to ridiculing the old Dupont slogan, Better Things for Better Living through Chemistry. "All that meant,' he proclaimed, "was nylon, orlon, and the total prostitution of the state of Delaware. We want better living through biology. We don't think in terns of 'things," there's no such thing as a thing -- there are only systems.'

-- Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston (1975)

12-month Temperature Record

I was playing with the GISS temperature anomaly data, and it turns out that the last 12 months (April 2009- March 2010) have been the warmest 12-month period in their records.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wow: GISS March Temperature

NASA GISS says March 2010 was +0.84°C above their baseline -- a very high number and second only to 2002's +0.85°C. (It dwarfs 1998's +0.56°C.)

This is surprising, given that the recent El Nino already appears to be waning.

Moreover, NASA GISS's records peg 2009's climatological winter (Dec 09 - Feb 10) as the second warmest, after only 2007's.

Carbon Emissions in 2050?

Kevin Drum writes about carbon emissions:
Are we likely to meet our goal of cutting carbon emissions 83%? Probably not. I imagine Stuart is right about that. But is that cause for despair? Hardly. If we aim for 83%, maybe we'll get to 60% instead. And perhaps that will turn out to be enough. Or, if it isn't, perhaps some modest geoengineering will get us the rest of the way. And if that's not enoughand geoengineering isn't acceptable even on a modest scale — well, at least we've only got 23% to go. Any way you look at it, we're better off than if we shoot for a more "reasonable" goal of 60% and only make it to 40%.
Personally, I think carbon emissions will be higher in 2050 than they are today. Here's why:

  1. As Nate Lewis of Caltech pointed out at conference I attended last year, the planning/construction/production lifetime of a major power plant -- or just about any major construction project -- is about 40 years. So we'd have to be seriously planning carbon-free energy production right now. We're not -- we're hardly even on the dance floor. The rest of the world isn't any better.
  2. our insistence on ever more economic growth
  3. China
  4. India
  5. the rest of the developing world who, rightly, all want to live like we do.
  6. an increase of 2B more people on the Earth by 2050.
  7. lack of political will
  8. dedicated and nefarious interests influencing #5 as best they can
  9. existing carbon-free technologies are not sufficient to produce all the energy we'll need to 2050, except solar. And more solar, and more solar.
  10. human greed, selfishness, and stupidity.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mt St Helens, Saturday evening

Review of Climate Model Evaluation

Here's an interesting paper on the present-day evaluation of climate models:

"How Well Do Coupled Models Simulate Today’s Climate?" Thomas Reichler and Junsu Kimm, BAMS, March 2008, p. 303-311 (American Meteorological Society)

Their conclusion?
CONCLUSION. Using a composite measure of model performance, we objectively determined the ability of three generations of models to simulate present-day mean climate. Current models are certainly not perfect, but we found that they are much more realistic than their predecessors. This is mostly related to the enormous progress in model development that took place over the last decade, which is partly due to more sophisticated model parameterizations, but also to the general increase in computational resources, which allows for more thorough model testing and higher model resolution. Most of the current models not only perform better, they are also no longer flux corrected. Both improved performance and more physical formulation suggest that an increasing level of confidence can be placed in model-based predictions of climate. This, however, is only true to the extent that the performance of a model in simulating present mean climate is related to the ability to make reliable forecasts of long-term trends. It is hoped that these advancements will enhance the public credibility of model predictions and help to justify the development of even better models.

(Emphasis mine.)

James McMurtry - Cheney's Toy

Friday, April 09, 2010

Krugman on Climate Economics

Paul Krugman has a long, beautiful article on the economics of the climate change problem in this weekend's New York Times Magazine, and you really ought to read it. (Really.) He has a wonderful way of cutting through all the crap that is out there and getting to the heart of the matter, and explaining his ideas concisely and forcefully.

For example, here is his summary of the science:
But before we get to the economics, it’s worth establishing three things about the state of the scientific debate. The first is that the planet is indeed warming. Weather fluctuates, and as a consequence it’s easy enough to point to an unusually warm year in the recent past, note that it’s cooler now and claim, “See, the planet is getting cooler, not warmer!” But if you look at the evidence the right way — taking averages over periods long enough to smooth out the fluctuations — the upward trend is unmistakable: each successive decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the one before.

Second, climate models predicted this well in advance, even getting the magnitude of the temperature rise roughly right. While it’s relatively easy to cook up an analysis that matches known data, it is much harder to create a model that accurately forecasts the future. So the fact that climate modelers more than 20 years ago successfully predicted the subsequent global warming gives them enormous credibility.

Yet that’s not the conclusion you might draw from the many media reports that have focused on matters like hacked e-mail and climate scientists’ talking about a “trick” to “hide” an anomalous decline in one data series or expressing their wish to see papers by climate skeptics kept out of research reviews. The truth, however, is that the supposed scandals evaporate on closer examination, revealing only that climate researchers are human beings, too. Yes, scientists try to make their results stand out, but no data were suppressed. Yes, scientists dislike it when work that they think deliberately obfuscates the issues gets published. What else is new? Nothing suggests that there should not continue to be strong support for climate research.

And this brings me to my third point: models based on this research indicate that if we continue adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as we have, we will eventually face drastic changes in the climate. Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about a few more hot days in the summer and a bit less snow in the winter; we’re talking about massively disruptive events, like the transformation of the Southwestern United States into a permanent dust bowl over the next few decades.

Now, despite the high credibility of climate modelers, there is still tremendous uncertainty in their long-term forecasts. But as we will see shortly, uncertainty makes the case for action stronger, not weaker. So climate change demands action.

Who has ever said this better in as many words?

In terms of the economics, Krugman favors a cap-and-trade system augmented with strong restrictions on the usage of coal. He's not in favor of a carbon tax because he thinks it offers too little incentive to individuals -- but I wish he had considered Hansen's idea of a "green check" returned to individuals and households every month (quarterly would probably be better). Personally I think that would be a real winner -- Hansen says most American's (and especially the right ones) would receive more in green checks than they would pay in carbon taxes.

The other major point Krugman makes is that regulating a resource market to control temperature is no different than a market's response to a dwindling supply of that resource.

Plus, let's not forget that the conservative's method choice to control acid rain was a cap-and-trade on SO2. There's little basis for objecting to its as a solution to the CO2(e) problem. (Hence their need to deny reality.)

Anyway, be sure to read the entire article.

A Typing Speed Test

A (free) typing speed test:

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Interesting Recent Numbers

Some interesting recent numbers:
  • RSS's global temperature anomaly for March: +0.652°C -- a record. It's significantly higher than any other March in their 31-yr old satellite record. (Next highest was March 1998, at +0.586°C.)
  • The SOI (Southern Oscillation Index) actually rose in March. Maybe the current El Nino has peaked? If so, it'd be about an average ENSO and significantly weaker than 1998's, which makes the recent high global temperatures all the more interesting.
  • The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has a really nice carbon footprint calculator, that lets you be specific about your lifestyle and expenditures. My results:
Me: 5.7 mt CO2e/yr
Similar household: 9.3 mt CO2e/yr
Oregon average: 21.7 mt CO2/yr
US average: 21 mt CO2e/yr

I  come in low mostly because I don't fly more than about once a year, and I don't buy much except food. I surely would if I could, but I can't. (And I did when I could.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hansen on Pricing Carbon

James Hansen:
The fundamental requirement for solving our fossil fuel addiction and moving to a clean energy future is a rising price on carbon emissions. Otherwise, if we refuse to make fossil fuels pay for their damage to human health, the environment, and our children's future, fossil fuels will remain the cheapest energy and we will squeeze every drop from tar sands, oil shale, pristine lands, and offshore areas.
An essential corollary to the rising carbon price is 100 percent redistribution of collected fees to the public -- otherwise the public will never allow the fee to be high enough to affect lifestyles and energy choices. The fee must be collected from fossil fuel companies across-the-board at the mine, wellhead, or port of entry. Revenues should be divided equally among all legal adult residents, with half-shares for children up to two per family, distributed monthly as a "green check". Part of the revenue could be used to reduce taxes, provided the tax reduction is transparent and verifiable.
The rising carbon price will affect almost everything. People's purchases will reflect a desire to minimize their costs. Food from nearby farms will benefit; imports from halfway around the world will decline. Renewable energies, other carbon-free energies, and energy efficiency will grow; fossil fuels will decline.
The fee-and-green-check approach is transparent, fair and effective. Congressman John Larson defined an appropriate rising fee. $15 per ton of carbon dioxide the first year and $10 more per ton each year. Economic modeling shows that carbon emissions would decline 30 percent by 2020. The annual dividend then would be $2000-3000 per legal adult resident, $6000-9000 per family with two or more children.
About sixty percent of the public would receive more in the green check than they pay in added energy costs.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Look in His Eyes

Austin Nichols as Morgan Earp, in Deadwood:

Evidence of Climate Fraud!!!

Now here's absolutely breathtaking evidence of fraud by climate scientists by someone named Ron House -- climate scientists must have committed fraud, because just as the daily graph of 2010 sea ice extent was approaching the "normal" line, it turned away and went downward! No other proof needed!

House writes:
As someone with expertise in computer science, I cannot see any way this can be an outcome of an automated algorithm of any reasonable design.

Of course, it couldn't simply be... that this was what the actual data showed! No, someone has to be lying to him.


Sometimes I lament the invention of the Internet. There is so much just play shitty information going around, like House's, that truth and decency no longer has any meaning. And it could conceivably affect the existence of mankind, if enough people believe this kind of thing.

Personally, I'd like to see the NSIDC sue House for libel. I'd like to see any climate scientist sue the next yahoo who calls them a liar or fraud or worse. That would be interesting, and long overdue.

Another Grand Solar Minimum Would Hardly Matter

While AGW skeptics are currently obsessed with the relatively high Arctic sea ice extent, a year or so ago they were obsessed with the low solar activity. Solar activity has since picked up, so I guess they have shelved that idea for the next 11 years.

In any case, what if the Sun were headed into another grand minimum, like the Maunder Minimum that spawned the Little Ice Age? It wouldn't matter much, says a new paper by Feulner and Rahmstorf -- a future temperature offset of just -0.3°C in the year 2100:

On the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate on Earth

Georg Feulner
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
Stefan Rahmstorf
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
The current exceptionally long minimum of solar activity has led to the suggestion that the Sun might experience a new grand minimum in the next decades, a prolonged period of low activity similar to the Maunder minimum in the late 17th century. The Maunder minimum is connected to the Little Ice Age, a time of markedly lower temperatures, in particular in the Northern hemisphere. Here we use a coupled climate model to explore the effect of a 21st-century grand minimum on future global temperatures, finding a moderate temperature offset of no more than −0.3°C in the year 2100 relative to a scenario with solar activity similar to recent decades. This temperature decrease is much smaller than the warming expected from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century.
Citation: Feulner, G., and S. Rahmstorf (2010), On the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate on EarthGeophys. Res. Lett.37, L05707, doi:10.1029/2010GL042710.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Animation of Decreasing Arctic Ice

Peter Sinclair has nice animation of the decreasing amount of Arctic sea ice over the years -- and how 2008 was a record low year even though its extent was larger than 2007's. (It's about 2:30 into the video.)

Anthony Watts, who is surely smart enough to understand the difference between extent and volume (and the relevance of the latter), continues to play dumb in order to retain his preconceived notions/raison-d'etre.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Baseball Truths

When a reporter asked Gaylord Perry's 5-year-old daughter if her father threw a spitball, she replied, "It's a hard slider."

-- George Will, "Plumbing the etiquette of baseball," Washington Post, April 3, 2010


When the Yankees' Deion ("Neon Deion") Sanders barely moved toward first after popping up to short, White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, 42, a keeper of the codes, screamed: "Run the [expletive] ball out, you piece of [expletive] -- that's not the way we do things up here!" Were Fisk and his standards out of date? As has been said, standards are always out of date -- that is why we call them standards.

-- George Will, "Plumbing the etiquette of baseball," Washington Post, April 3, 2010

What "Peer Review" Means

Stephan Lewandowsky succinctly describes the meaning of "peer review":

...peer reviewed science is not indiscriminate: not all opinions are equal and one cannot choose what to believe on the basis of whim or ideology. What counts are evidence, logic, and competence.

Peer reviewed science is egalitarian but not indiscriminate.

Science carries with it responsibilities such as accountability and subsequent scrutiny—peer review is a spam filter, which works well but not perfectly. The true value of a peer reviewed article lies in whether or not it survives scrutiny upon publication.

If it does not, then peer reviewed science is self-correcting and eventually cleanses the occasional junk that penetrated the spam filter.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Pathetic Media Coverage of the Off-Shore Drilling Decision

Jason Linkins has a post on the Huffington Post about media coverage of Obama's offshore drilling decision, and it's right on:
Media Drills Vapidity On Drilling Into Our Faces
So, as most of you know by now, President Barack Obama came straight out of the blue this week with a decision to start up some crazy new offshore drilling campaign. I thought the decision was pretty strange myself -- but, hey, it's an opportunity to ask some pretty substantive questions.
For example: What changes can we expect in terms of our oil imports from the Middle East? Has the technology of drilling gotten better--are we less likely to experience the devastation of another oil spill? How is this decision going to affect the bottom line of oil companies? Will they reinvest this money back into America's devastated communities? Will they reinvest in energy solutions that are sustainable? In solutions that promote further independence from foreign oil? Is this going to increase jobs.

When I read these media stories -- primarily in the NY Times, the LA Times, and on Yahoo News -- I primarily wanted to know how much oil there is estimated to be offshore, and how will this affect our supply.

NOT ONE of these articles told me. Without this basic bit of information it's impossible to make a judgement about whether this is a good idea or not.

I finally has to resort to Wikipedia, which suggests offshore drilling will contribute an additional 1.6% to US domestic oil supply and that this will only happen after 2017, and not affect gasoline prices at all. And why should I believe Wikipedia?

Scientific American in 2008 has a much, much better article on it all.

The canonical news sources were useless, and only seemed to be rewriting govt press releases. This is abysmal and embarrassing and angering, and if that's the best the LA Times can do then, yes, they deserve to go out of business, because frankly, many specialized journalists and bloggers can do it much, much better.

Rant over.

The late Peak in Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Arctic Sea Ice extent is peaking very late this year. Why?

The Japanese satellite IJIS has it peaking yesterday -- though, of course, this might well change in the next few days. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder has it still going up as of latest data:

If the world is so warm, how can this be?

Of course, you have to look at the details, something Clingons prefer not to do. I asked Julienne Stroeve, a researcher at NSIDC who specializes in just this area:
Yes the extent has peaked up, mostly driven by increases in the Bering Sea related to winds pushing the ice out in that region and also cold temperatures. Elsewhere in the Arctic it has been unseasonably warm.
Although the winter ice extent is now around normal, I wouldn't make too much of it. The trends in the winter ice cover have been small and we would expect them to be because temperatures in winter will still be cold enough for a long time to come to form ice. The main issue that should be looked at (which the extent doesn't show), is how thick the ice is. We know this year we have even less of the oldest and thickest ice than we've had during the satellite data record, so the overall 'volume' of the Arctic ice pack is still likely anomalously low.
Places like the Bering Sea are seasonally ice covered and melt out every summer, so more ice there than normal this winter doesn't have much impact on the summer ice cover.

So, once again we need to emphasize that "extent" is not "volume," and it's the latter that is really important, and that global conditions are not local conditions.

Dr Stroeve says they will be writing about this in their April 6th update.

No Right Not to Be Offended

Author Philip Pullman talks about the title of his new book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (review here):

Pullman seems to have been quite ready for the question.

Via: Andrew Sullivan


"I bargained for salvation
and they gave me a lethal dose."

-- Bob Dylan, "Shelter from the Storm"

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Why No Drilling off the Pacific Northwest Coast?

I thought it was interesting that among the (relatively few) places excluded from Obama's decision to ramp up offshore drilling was the coast off of northern California, Oregon, and Washington.

Why was that? I don't have any inside information, but I wonder how much the Pacific Northwest's strong environmental ethos played a part. Unlike anywhere I've ever lived, there is a strong concern here for the environment and sustainability, as witnessed by the environmental attitudes of Seattle, Portland, and many smaller cites here. In fact, you should read the 1975 novel Ecotopia, descibing a breakaway state based on environmental sustainability. It was based in the Pacific Northwest, and it's difficult for me to imagine it set anywhere else.

Is there oil and gas here worth pursuing? Not much oil, but a lot of gas in the form of methane hydrates:
One other critical question, of course, is whether there are resources off of the Oregon Coast that would attract oil and gas interests. It was, in fact interest in mining the sands in Southern Oregon for oil that prompted Oregon's earlier moratorium. Offshore reserves of oil and gas in their traditional form are relatively small but not insignificant. The most recent numbers available from the Minerals Management Service indicate oil and gas deposits totaling $200 million in net value (after accounting for the costs of production). That figure was calculated at oil prices of $48 per barrel and as the price of oil rises, so will interest in our coast.
In addition, just off the Oregon Coast is one of the few places in North America where there are large stores of gas in form called methane hydrate. Methane hydrate is essentially a crystalline form of gas trapped in ice. It forms under unique environmental conditions that happen to exist where the two tectonic plates off the Oregon Coast meet. The energy potential of methane hydrate is estimated at 200 times the conventional natural gas resources in the country. These resources cannot currently be extracted commercially, but research and development is proceeding quickly in Japan, and one estimate has it that the first domestic production could happen off of Alaska within 10 years.
Perhaps the real story is that there just isn't much here that would be worth drilling. On the other other hand, it's hard to see the citizens of Oregon standing for it against what really is one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world.

March 2010 Also a Record Warm Month

UAH's computer is no doubt crunching the numbers right now, but the nifty daily graph available from Roy Spencer shows that March was also a record warm month:

(Click to enlarge.)

March 2010 (the top, orangish line here) is significantly above any month back to (and including) 1998. In fact, every day in March set a daily record. The same was also true in February 2010, and in the last half of January.

And, just to clarify, the current El Nino is not (yet, at least) nearly as strong as 1998's.

Disclaimer: Global warming is, of course, just a myth propagated by liars, thieves, and goat fuckers. Pay no attention to the actual data, which is secretly and shamelessly altered daily by the top scientists in the world. (Changing "2s" to "8s" is their favorite ploy. Changing them to "9s" would, of course, be too suspicious. Don't worry, these guys know what they're doing.)