Sunday, July 31, 2011

Arctic scientist who exposed climate threat to polar bear is suspended

The Guardian:

8th Warmest June

The Hadley Center's number for June's temperature anomaly is +0.423°C, making it the 8th warmest June in their records (which are 162 yrs long).

Year-to-date 2011 is the 12th warmest YTD.

Housekeeping Re: Watts

  • Where is this "Anonymous" commenter? He owes me $10. I'm waiting for his email....
  • In an unprecedented double denial, Watts has denied that he denied the existence of Crater Lake, Oregon. As evidence he offers these pictures of what he claims are a weather station at Crater Lake. I don't believe him. These pictures could have been taken anywhere in the west, and all the snow could easily have been Photoshopped in. Notice that, conspiciuosly, there is no one in any of these pictures holding up a copy of that day's newspaper. And where is the proof he took these pictures? Also, notice how the year in the date on this photograph has been conveniently cropped off. This could have been taken by anyone in any year at any place. Did Watts or a microWatt create this document on a word processor? So I still see no real evidence that Watts has ever been to Crater Lake. How, then, can we believe his latest denial?
  • Where is the bottom 10 feet of this measuring stick? Does its numbering start at 9' 11"?  
  • Notice how Watts did not deny that he denies the existence of the rest of southern Oregon except those areas of the coastal region that are both less than 10 miles from the shoreline and greater than 10 feet in elevation. And if he denies that that region exists, how did he get to Crater Lake? Humm? 
  • Some people have written asking for Anthony Watts' email address. Try the Whois page for his domain. I'm sure that's him because someone from "IT Works" in Chico, California keeps visiting my Web site:


The Coming Total Solar Eclipse

This will be good: a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 that passes over much of the US:

The "GE" marker is the point of greatest eclipse -- essentially the point of greatest duration. Click here to zero in on the exact path, and to find the exact time and duration at any point:

But all of the US and Canada will see at least a partial eclipse:

It will be a quick eclipse: only 2 min 40 sec at the greatest eclipse (the theoretical maximum duration for a TSE is about 7 minutes). It's sure to get a lot of attention, because it will be total in places like Salem OR (but not Portland), Lincoln Nebraska, Kansas City, St Louis (barely), Nashville, and Charleston SC, and partial everywhere else in the US & Canada.

Can't wait.

PS: Is that a great site by NASA, or what?

Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

From the preface to a promising book I'm starting, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson:
"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

-- George Orwell (1946)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gavin Gives Good Quote

This is why Gavin Schmidt is a go-to guy for the media: he knows how to be quotable:
"If you want to do a story then write one pointing to the ridiculousness of people jumping onto every random press release as if well-established science gets dismissed on a dime," Schmidt said.
I wish more journalists knew this, and more of the public too. And if the dominant view of climate change ever does change, it's going to take years of hashing it out in the scientific literature and at conferences and pouring over past analysis. It won't come from out of the blue, and it's unlikely to come from someone like Spencer, who made a colossal mistake in the past and who instead of just doing science seems to only attempt science that would overthrow the consensus view of climate change one way or another.

And if some scientist on the consensus side ever wrote a political book like Spencer's or a blog post titled The Debt Crisis: Compromise is Not an Option, what do you think the bullies would do with that?

"Hard to Imagine a More Vulnerable Target"

Did you catch this clever piece from last year?
Received from Rabett Run's special Onion correspondent. Read at your own risk

NEW YORK—In a statement posted this morning on several Warmist websites (hereherehere, and here) comprising the Global Warming Network, IPCC, claimed responsibility for last Thursday's devastating personal attack on Northern California resident Anthony Watts.
The rest is here, and it's funny.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fred Singer Still Presenting False Information

Someone who was at Fred Singer's recent lecture at Colorado State University told me that Singer there again claimed that there has been no warming as measured by UAH (from satellite data). Even though this error was pointed out to him at his May lecture in Portland, and even though the very people who provide this data -- who are solid climate skeptics -- say the trend is 0.14°C/decade and put this number at the very bottom of their data page beside the word "Trend."

What can you say? What can you do? What can you call this other than a bald-faced lie?

By the way, it's not difficult to calculate the slope of the UAH anomaly data. Here is it, with uncertainties:

The Sewage End of Glenn Beck

Timothy Egan in the New York Times:
"In Italy, Mario Borghezio, a member of the European Parliament who belongs to the anti-immigrant Northern League, expressed open sympathy with many tenets of Breivik’s philosophy.

"'Some of the ideas he expressed are good — barring the violence,' Borghezio told Il Sole radio. 'Some of them are great.'

"We should not try to ban or overlook this kind of speech, whether it comes out the sewage end of Glenn Beck’s Web site, or from a member of the European Parliament. It needs examination, in the same way that sane people have to understand why a reading of the Koran could lead someone to strap on a suicide bomb."

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Tonight I was driving back from Portland and I saw a sign outside a automotive repair shop that read:


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Please Stop Misconstruing Poor Newt

Is Newt Gingrich running for President or Court Jester? It's difficult to tell anymore.

Has there ever been a more ridiculous presidential candidate? First there was the it-would-be-wrong-to-quote-what-I-said episode, then the mass resignation of all of his campaign advisers, and now this: Gingrich just said that his 2006 video where he urged action on climate change was "misconstrued."

That would be this video:

Here is what Gingrich said:
"...our country must take action to address climate change."
Let's expand that a little, enlarge the font, and put it in red so you read that clearly. If you wear glasses, please clean then first.
Nancy Pelosi: "We don't always see eye to eye, do we Newt?"
Newt Gingrich: "No, but we do agree, our country must take action to address climate change."
Now here's what Gingrich just told WGIR radio:
"I was trying to make a point that we shouldn't be afraid to debate the left, even on the environment. Obviously it was misconstrued, and it's probably one of those things I wouldn't do again."

To this the host, Paul Westcott, said simply "OK!" though, to be fair, he was running out of time, and laughing when he said it. Well, hopefully Gingrich's next interviewer will do better.

But you, you stupid viewer--you thought you heard what Gingrich said back then, in that simple way that he said it, but in your stupidity you misconstrued it! "Agree" doesn't mean "agree" and "action" doesn't mean "action." Shame on you.

Now that you know better, please reread one last time what Gingrich said and try to recognize its true meaning:

"...we do agree, our country must take action to address climate change."

Now, little viewer, please try to straighten up and fly right, and stop misconstruing poor Newt Gingrich, such as when he says he is a serious candidate for President and you take that to mean he is a pathetic tool.

Now It's My Congressman

Today it's my representative who is resigning due to a sex scandel: David Wu (D) of Oregon. It's a good thing. He was accused of an unwanted sexual encounter with the 18-yr old daughter of a friend last Thanksgiving. (Wu is 56 yrs old.) -- the woman left a distraught, emotional voice mail message at his Portland office. Wu hasn't directly admitted to anything, but something bad clearly happened -- this only came out last Friday.

I voted for Wu in the last two elections. He's a quiet congressman who doesn't seek much press or do many interviews, which was frustrating, but he voted in line with what I support. But he's seems to be having some serious personal issues in the last year or two and they have badly spilled into his office -- a divorce, erratic behavior, mass staff departures, etc. (In 2004 it came out that Wu was accused of aggressive sexual behavior towards his girlfriend when he was in college; it never was prosecuted or ever clearly explained, but troublesome.) I hope his resignation allows him to get his life back in order. But I think he had clearly lost any possible effectiveness, which is needed now more than ever, and resigning was the honorable thing to do, if you can use that word in such a circumstance.

{Sigh.} Anymore it seems like the whole world is fucked up.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Looks Like Watts Is Having Second Thoughts

WattsAnthony Watts must have at least a few functioning neurons, because he has a nerve cell somewhere that I clearly struck.


His kind of abject and loathesome denialism needs to be exposed for all to see. Refusing to publish the very evidence you asked for, after denying it exists, needs to be shown for what it is. Refusing to acknowledge what a distinguished newspaper quotes because "I can just as easily create a list of complaints" -- with the implication that the threatened scientists faked them -- is lunacy. In a few sentences in today's post -- far too few, alas-- Watts seems to sense what he has actually been doing. But he brushes that off and returns to form.

By the way, a death threat doesn't have to contain the words "I," "will," "kill,' or "you." It doesn't have to contain any words at all. Brandishing a noose in someone's face is certainly a threatening gesture, and the noose was chosen for a specific reason.

Most importantly, the person who was threatened, Hans Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and an IPCC member, considered it a death threat. Those were the exact words he used to describe it:
"I was confronted with a death threat when I gave my public lecture," Professor Schellnhuber said.
And as with all threats, and all abuse, the person receiving it is the one able to make its most accurate interpretation. Far too often people and families and communities and societies look away from such threats, calling them not real, not serious, not worth investigating. And far too often those threats do turn into action, or incite action, and people get seriously hurt or worse.

Denying these threats as Watts and his minions (microWatts?) do is despicable, and it is dangerous. They have taken this discussion into a very dangerous place, and innocent people are being targeted simply because they are doing their jobs as best they can and have come to a scientific conclusion with implications that some people do not like. It's craven, truly craven.

moncktonhitler.jpgI'm convinced more every day that the extremism that we've been seeing in the last year or two is strong evidence that everyone sees what's happening to the climate and the planet and all that is left is for people like Watts to do is to thrash madly about and, like a spoiled child who cannot now get their way, resort to causing as much damage as they possibly can. We see this all the time now -- from Anthony Watts, from Christopher Monckton, from bullies like Marc Morano, and several others. What they want -- let's be frank about this -- is for scientists to stop their work and to shut up. Keep quiet, is what they are really saying, or you will suffer. You will be hurt.

And you know what? It doesn't matter one iota if these scientists are wrong. The threats that have been received are unacceptable, period. Threats of violence for any reason directed to anybody are unacceptable.

This is darkly vile, very dangerous, and completely unacceptable, and now at a scale that is without precedent in history. It has to end. And those behaving this way and denying them or stroking such behavior need to be called out and denounced.

PS: Oh yeah, my earlier post -- it had nothing to do with Watts' mother. I wonder, though, how she would have felt about what her boy has been doing.

(Picture via The Beast and Alternet)

Crater Lake, Existence of

Aerial View of Crater Lake in WinterHere's something I didn't really know: before Oregon's Crater Lake was created 7,700 years ago by a volcanic eruption, there was a mountain 12,000 ft high there.

Actually, the eruption only blew a mile off the mountain, and the rest collapsed into the empty magma chamber.

Also, it's the deepest lake in the United States (1,943 ft) and the 7th deepest in the world.
(By the way, I read that Anthony Watts denies the existence of Crater Lake, 
as well as most of southern Oregon, except, oddly, those areas 
of the coastal  region that are both less than 10 miles from the 
shoreline and greater than 10 feet in elevation.)

Links for my OregonCatalyst Comments

Apologies to my regular blog readers; this post is for those at this OregonCatalyst post, which won't allow me to post hyperlinks.

1) Some plastic bags *are* made from petroleum. About 4% of the world’s oil production goes to making plastic bags, according to this source: S Muthu et al, “An Exploratory Comparative Study on Eco-Impact of Paper and Plastic Bags,” Textile Bioengineering and Informatics Society (, doi:10.3993/tbis200912,

2) There are an estimated one million tons of plastic in the northern Pacific Ocean, according to K Saido et al, “New contamination derived from marine debris plastics,” Presented at the 238th American Chemical Society National Meeting, August 22-26,2009, Washington DC

3) An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die each year from entanglement or ingestion of plastic, according to J. G. B. Derraik, Marine Polltn. Bull, 44, 842, 2002.

The Best of #FuckYouWashington (so far)

If you're catching up, here are some of the best tweets so far:

Re: #F**kYouWashington

David Weigel has more on where this is all coming from:


Suddenly a lot of anger is boiling up, spawned by the failure of the debt ceiling talks and, I think, the immense shirking of responsibility seen in the proposal of a 'Super Congress.' Plus the sense that the markets might well tank tomorrow (or tonight, starting in Asia).

Credit Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis). Follow hashtag #fuckyouwashington

Original Tweet:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

He Said, They Said

There was a climate change lecture at Colorado State University the other day.
  • Fred Singer said that worrying about climate change is a "psychosis."
  • William Gray said only that man-made climate change is "bunk" and "hokum."
  • Steve Goddard said that it was "suspicious" that the room where Singer spoke was not set up to display charts.
  • "Suspicious" is a good word for some of the charts Fred Singer has displayed in the past.
Scott Denning of CSU, who said there is nearly unanimous agreement among scientists in his department that human-emitted carbon dioxide will warm the planet, gave some interesting numbers I hadn't seen before:
  • the reduction in solar irradiance during the Little Ice Age was about 1 W/m2
  • the reduction during a Big Ice Age is about 7.5 W/m2
“So, the Earth’s climate is demonstrably sensitive to heat of a few watts per square meter that persist over a long period of time,” he said.
  • Anthony Watts denied that Colorado State University exists.

Norway's 9/11, Times 2

The terrorism in Norway is stunning on its own, but even more so when you realize it is a country of only 5 million people. An equivalent tragedy (if there even is such a calculas) in America would be over 5,700 deaths....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Anthony Watts Denies His Mother Ever Existed

How deeply is Anthony Watts invested in denialism? So deep that he won't even allow evidence of death threats against scientists to be posted in the comments of his blog, after asking for such evidence. Instead he repeatedly deletes it.

That's as deep as it gets, people.

He wrote that "I’ve yet to see any [death threats] that have been substantiated" and asked for substantiation. I provided this article, and Watts again asked for evidence. I gave this list, which ("snip") he refused to allow to be posted. Then I posted this recent video from Australia, the most obvious evidence of them all, and he still refused to allow it to be posted -- four times: "snip", "snip", "snip", "snip" -- the last time because I did not apologize for not providing evidence of the threats, which he did not allow to be posted!

He again asked for evidence on a later post. I offered all these articles, especially this article from The Guardian which directly quotes from some of the threatening emails. His reply would have made a birther proud:
I’m familiar with these, but none of them show anything to make me believe they are real. I can just as easily create a list of complaints without email headers of any kind and “claim” that I get death threats here at WUWT or that I had a dead animal dumped on my doorstep.... If somebody shows me actual emails, like in climategate, then that would be evidence.
Of course if such emails were made public (and what threatened person would do that anyway, with all kinds of private information in their headers?) his excuse would be that it's easy to type up a fake email message in a flat ASCII file.

So there really is no evidence you can provide. None. Even in principle. (For good measure they then again disallowed a link to the Australian video.)

You literally cannot even begin to reason with him. His denial has no bottom and is now maintained by outright refusal of facts.

Is there even a word for this level of craven depravity? It would be hilarious if it weren't so dangerous. But it is very, very dangerous.

Thank You, Cleopatra

From the Acknowledgments section of the Ph.D. thesis of Brian D. Baker of the University of Florida:
Last but not least, I would like to thank my cat Cleopatra. She was always willing to snuggle with me and keep me company during the long, lonely nights at home. She is a true friend, and I am excited at the prospects of where our lives will lead.

Don't Mess With Comedians Who Read Studies

Al Franken sticks it to Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery over untruths in his written testimony on the Defense of Marriage Act:

Via The Huffington Post

Someone At My Bank is Thinking

My bank just did a clever thing: introduced a feature where you can go online and set your ATM preferences for your language preference, a "Quick" amount to choose to withdraw, and whether you want a printed receipt or not.

Granted it is hardly an onerous burden to have to punch these few extra buttons every time you use an ATM. But since you can do this, why not? Who knows what other links are out there waiting to be conceived?

Anyway I'm glad (and impressed) that someone out there is thinking, and always a little jealous that this possibility never occurred to me before.

Bachmann's Brain

"Of all my issues with Michele Bachmann's brain, migraines aren't even top 20."

-- Jon Stewart

Brownouts in NYC

The heat wave caused brownouts last night in NY City. That's the kind of thing that starts to get people's attention.

Via @dbiello

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Portland bans plastic shopping bags

Portland, Oregon voted today for a ban on plastic shopping bags, effective Oct 15th.

It applies to major retailers and grocery stores. Naturally, the Randian right has been whining and complaining about big government, the nanny state, etc., believing freedom is the right to throw your shit wherever you damn well please. They never ask where it ends up:
Roughly 43 percent of all marine mammals, 86 percent of all sea turtles and 44 percent of sea bird species are found with plastics in or around their bodies,” Cummins said “Thirty-five percent of the samples of fish that we collected in the north Pacific had plastic in their stomachs.
I've been using clothe bags for about a year now, and even if they weren't banned I'd continue to use them. (I don't live in Portland anyway.) Clothe bags are sturdier and don't break, leaving your pickles scattered among shards of glass on your driveway. They cost 50 cents or a dollar.


"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."

-- Voltaire

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How Oliver Spends His Day

How America Just Lost One Million Jobs

Picture of Air France Airbus A320-211 F-GFKO - Free Pictures -
Airbus A320
Here's an example of how going green gets you jobs: American Airlines just announced that it will buy a majority of its new planes from Airbus, because their planes are 15% more fuel efficient than Boeing's. Glenn Hurowitz at Grist gives the details.... In an earlier article he notes that Airbus got 730 orders for new planes at the recent Paris Air Show, compared to Boeing's 142. That's $72 B vs $22 B and an estimated one million jobs Europe will be getting that America won't.

In America we can't even agree to make light bulbs more efficient. The rest of the world, meanwhile, has their eye on the future.

UPDATE: The New York Times has the story here, saying Boeing has been "chastened" by the world's response to the Airbus plane.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Victory for Religious Freedom

Niko Alm's original pictures.In the most uplifting news I have heard all week, and maybe all year, an Austrian man fought for three years to win the right to wear a pasta strainer on his head for his driver's license photo, claiming he as a "Pastafarian" in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Niko Alm blogged about his achievement here.

The best part is that he somehow kept a straight face when the flash went off.


"The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around."

"All economic activity is dependent upon that environment and its underlying resource base of forests, water, air, soil, and minerals. When the environment is finally forced to file for bankruptcy because its resource base has been polluted, degraded, dissipated, and irretrievably compromised, the economy goes into bankruptcy with it."

"We will not succeed in forging an economically and environmentally sustainable society until all key social, political, economic, and religious groups are on board. If labor, business, or any other major group is opposed to doing what is necessary to achieve sustainability, it probably will not happen."

“No one is pure. We all make compromises in different aspects of our lives where the environment is concerned, and it is self-defeating to draw rigid lines of purity when trying to build a political consensus.”

-- Gaylord Nelson, Governor, US senator (D-Wisconsin) and founder of Earth Day

Multiple Choice

Is this:
(A) an Arctic explorer, or
(B) a golfer in today's British Open?

Rickie Fowler, Round 3, 2011 Open Championship

Answer: B - Ricky Fowler

Friday, July 15, 2011

Death Threat Captured on Video

The speaker is Hans Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change member:

(Via Climate Progress.) Here the perpetrator actually brags about his threat:

(Via Deltoid.) Schellnhuber said he expects an actual murder in the future.

Does 2011 Have What it Takes?

It was only four years ago that the world witnessed the birth of a new type of champion.

Who could forget that time, that annum, that orbit of our sun? “2007” we called her, simply, as if a mere label could possibly capture such a thing, the thrill of her being, the glory of her quiet but determined pride?

That was the year where we learned just what Arctic sea ice could achieve, and what we all might eventually be able to achieve.

All sat in awe that  year, their mouths agape, astonished at what their eyes took in. Day after day we watched 2007 Arctic sea ice extent plunge deeper and deeper, shrinking faster all the time, down into regions no year had ever been in before.

Daily the numbers rolled in. Slowly the tension built. Many kept their own spreadsheets and graphs. Small boys took flashlights to bed, staring at the charts as they huddled under blankets. Old men sat awake with a glass of whiskey, staring into the night, feeling the stir kicked up in places they had long forgotten.

Over the weeks of that memorable summer, spectators everywhere realized that 2007 was a year with pluck, with determination, with something different deep in her heart. She tore away from the pack and then kept going, getting stronger as she went, discovering something even she did not of know beforehand. When she finished the race on September 24th she had dropped to 4.25 million square kilometers, a number that had until then been simply unimaginable, a value not of this realm, not even of this wonderful and infinite universe.

Some compared her to Secretariat, some to Gehrig, yet others to Michael Jordan. For me she compared to Roberto Clemente, the hero of my youth. But many came to believe she was incomparable, one of a kind, like the Hope Diamond, like Marilyn Monroe, something no one had seen and would ever see the likes of ever again.

The boys under the blankets grew and the old men passed on. The world moved on, changing, always changing, but the magic was gone.

Or so it seemed.

There were no hints even a month ago. Sure, 2011 was good, even better than most, but it was just another year in long list of them. Its sea ice extent was low, but others before her had been low too. No one believes anymore anyway. Now everyone expects the worst. If Hope is a thing with feathers, it had flow the coop long, long ago.

But 2011 was apparently not listening. It seems to have a mind of its own, to be driven by forces of which we are only dimly aware. Every day its ice extent quietly melted, doing the hard, unseen job of reacting to the climate. The arguments of others moved on. Some even said the entire argument was over, a thing of the past, something only children still played with. But 2011 stayed true to herself, even if no one else did.

Then, about two weeks ago, the sea ice broke. 2011’s ice extent took a little jog upward, and then, from out of nowhere, veered downward. Sharply downward, with not only grace but power, with heft, with muscle, and with even a type of courage.

Something shot through the masses, like the wave off a supernova. Could it be? Could it possibly be? Could 2011 be another 2007?

No way all the cynics snickered. Cut the crazy talk said the usual bullies, threatening to give another good thumping.

“2011, I served with 2007,” a wise old year said. “I knew 2007. 2007 was a friend of mine. 2011, you’re no 2007.”

But 2011 has continued to fight. Its sea ice extent has continued to plunge, all through this month. Day-after-day it goes up against the previous champion, and day-after-day it comes back bloodied but unbowed. Its negative slope now equals anything seen in that earlier year. Its correlation is strong. The numbers don't lie.

The rumblings are beginning again, low but building. Could this be another record-setter? And so soon? Does this year have what it takes--not just the warmth, not just the high pressure systems, but the bravery, the tenacity, the something special deep, deep within?

No one knows. No one can possibly predict. Least of all me.

Yet it makes you wonder. What have we really learned? All those neat answers to all those big questions. All the rows and columns. Who really knows?

But you know what?

Somewhere, I suspect, there is a young boy stocking up on double-A batteries. Somewhere an tired, old man stands before a store shelf, comparing expensive bottles of amber Irish whiskies. They have a sense, a feeling, a spark inside. Something here is different. They wonder what it is. For they know, they know, that in the nights to come the world may yet again seen a year unlike any other, a year even unimagined, a year that brings open water to closed minds and answers to questions we never even knew to ask.

A year that shows what is possible, and what might even create belief in the impossible.

2011. Keep your eye on this one folks, because she’s a comer. She's in the final turn, and the home stretch lies ahead. She has an eye on it, a bold, unshielded eye, and most of all she knows that the test that awaits there is unknowable. Still she does not blink. The best ones never do.

Something is different. Something here doesn't add up. Even the cynics know it, and they hardly know anything.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Anthropogenic Climate Hypocrisy

Unidentified CO2 Science staff member
CO2 Science talks up a new study that claims that the Russian heat wave last year was primarily natural. The study uses model simulations. Here is CO2 Science's long list of "Model Inadequacies." Here is their summary of one of them:
...there will be no way to know the climatic significance of either past or projected increases in the air's CO2 content via the use of climate models.
So surely someone's head at CO2 Science must have exploded from the pressure of this cognitive dissonance. I wonder whose it was.

Another of their learned tomes on the subject is titled "A Fundamental Failure of Current Climate Models." And here was their summary of a paper whose expressed purpose was to distinguish between natural and manmade impacts on surface temperature:
Because of what their analysis revealed, the two researchers concluded that "climate models may therefore lack -- or incorrectly parameterize -- fundamental processes by which surface temperatures respond to radiative forcings," which is a conclusion with which all of the world's "climate skeptics" would probably agree....
Naturally Anthony Watts considered CO2 Science's latest conclusion perfectly sound and worthy of being rerun on his blog. The inside of his head is a vacuum (that comes straight from observations, with no models involved), so there was no danger of another explosion.

Bachmann's Chutzpah

You've got to be kidding me....

Via: The Awl

"Why I Love Physics"

Brian Cox on "Why I Love Physics" from the BBC series Wonders of the Solar System (which is very good):

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Watts Still Denying the Death Threats

Incredibly, Anthony Watts is still denying that some climate scientists have received death threats:
...when will you be posting that list of death threats you took us to task over Appell? SO far you have not responded AFAIK and the offensive condescending holier than thou posts are still up on that little blog of yours. Man up. – Anthony
These threats and harassments have been widely acknowledged by several scientists and reported on by many journalists (see below). The Guardian, in particular, has seen them and excerpted them. One scientist had a dead animal dumped on their doorstep, according to ABC News. Some of the threats have been reported to the FBI.

These denials are pernicious, obnoxious, and dangerous. They are of a kind, and only a step from being complicit. Commenters here too have played the same game.

It's worse even than the birthers, because denying that the threats exist is itself a kind of threat.

And then, when you point this out to them and give the links below, they censor your comment because it used the word "deny" (not the word "denier," and not used as a label).

Americans Use Spam for Cheaper Prescription Drugs

Nice -- US customers who responded to spam email for no-prescription-necessary drugs were 4 times more likely to buy needed prescriptions (as opposed to "lifestyle" drugs like Viagra) than Canadians and Europeans.

The study concludes "...a subset of uninsured or underinsured customers in the U.S. may view spam-advertised, no-prescription-required pharmacies as a competitive market for meeting their medical needs."

At least they're not burdening the emergency rooms!

Isn't our health system wonderful?

Planting Trees in Cities Won't Stop Climate Change

This BBC article, "Urban plants' role as carbon sinks 'underestimated,'" is about a study showing that the amount of carbon stored in the vegetation in Leicester, UK has been underestimated. OK. But then they jump into fantasy land about ways to reduce the country's carbon footprint.

Leicester, UK
The study finds that vegetation (mostly trees) in the city holds 3.16 kg Carbon/m2, which is about 7 times that of Britain as a whole (the country being mostly grassland). But then the study, and the BBC article, suggests that it would be worthwhile to plant more trees in the cities as a reduce Britain's carbon footprint. (The UK has pledged to reduce its 1990 carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.)

The BBC writes,
"If just 10% of this was planted with trees, the existing carbon pool across the city could be increased by 12%"
quoting the lead author of the paper, Zoe Davies of the University of Kent. But they don't look at the actual numbers. The study says (pg 8):
"If community initiatives were put in place by policy makers to encourage tree planting, resulting in 10% of the existing 159 789 urban gardens containing one more tree, there would be 927 tonnes more carbon (assuming they grew to an average size for a garden tree) stored in above-ground vegetation across the city.
But the UK's total emissions are 685 megatonnes! (2005 est), or about 9 mt CO2 per person per year. (For urban residents it's usually a little less.) Or applying the famous 12/44 factor between carbon and carbon dioxide, about 2.5 mt C per person per year. Leicester has an urban population of about 450,000, so its total carbon emissions are roughly 1 megatonne per year.

So the study is talking about the possibility of reducing 1 kt, or 0.1% of these emissions. Even if you put one more tree in all the city's gardens, you're only reducing the city's emissions by 1%. Plus, you have to keep replanting the trees as they die. Then some idiot will come along with a leaf blower (I hate leaf blowers, especially in cities) and blow away all the leaves dropped by all these trees -- how much carbon is that going to emit?

This seems like starting a new exercise program and insisting that you keep track of the two steps on and off your porch. OK, but what's really matters is how many times you walk around the block.

I like trees, but we cannot stop climate change by planting more of them in cities. The focus needs to stay on the big picture and the big possible picture-changers.

So the conclusion is: leaf-blowers are indeed the work of the Devil.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

US Temperature Records Tool

Here's a neat tool I just learned of: NOAA's US Records lookup tool:

I'm not about to get into the game of "it's really hot today in Pittsburgh so global warming must be here," or its inverse (which is really only about manufacturing doubt, anyway). It's just a fun tool, OK?

It's hard for me to imagine that much of the country is so hot lately, because here in Oregon it's been an unseasonably cool summer. I think we've only had one day above 80 and no days above 90, and it feels like summer hasn't yet arrived. Today it even rained, which hardly ever happens here in the summer. Right now it's 62 F, and it's been too cold to sleep with the windows open.


Republicans Fail to Annul New Light Bulb Law

Their preference for energy inefficiency is defeated:


Neptune Was Discovered One "Year" Ago

Hubble images of Neptune
It's now been one year exactly -- one of Neptune's years -- since it was discovered in 1846.

Actually Galileo first observed Neptune in 1612, but he thought it was a star because he happened to see it exactly when it was turning retrograde (changing its apparent direction when seen from Earth). How's that for bad luck?

It was finally discovered after a couple of smart people did some impressive number crunching of Uranus's orbit and found that it was doing something wonky. They guessed that another planet was perturbing its orbit, and told people exactly where to look, but couldn't get any astronomers interested. It took three more years before Neptune was spotted, just about where it was predicted to be. The British and French then fought over who had the rightful claim to the discovered.

This is akin to how they find exoplanets -- planets circling other stars -- today, although they look for wobbles in a star's position, not another planet's. The perturbation predictions don't always pan out -- a planet named "Vulcan" was proposed to exist between the Sun and Mercury in order to account for the unexplained piece of Mercury's orbit, whose ellipse "precesses," or rotates, by 574 arcseconds per century. Astronomers could account for all but 43 of those arcseconds, but never did find Vulcan. Instead Einstein found the missing amount exactly from his theory of general relativity, showing it was due to the slight curvature of spacetime through which Mercury travels. Einstein experienced heart palpitations when he finished his arithmetic and got 43 arcseconds/century, and was "for several days beside myself with joyous excitement."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Is Gott Wrong?

Is Gott wrong with his longevity predictions? Is his entire method wrong?

After my previous post John Fleck wrote to tell me about a physicist at the University of New Mexico, Carl Caves, who says Gott is wrong. Here are two papers he wrote about it, and here's an article John wrote about Caves and his claims for the Albuquerque Journal.

I don't have time to read Cave's articles now, and probably won't for a few days, but I'll come back to this.

Are Humans Finished in Space?

The Space Shuttle is in orbit right now, on its last flight. The United States has no plan to replace it or build upon it, and isn't even talking about what's next. The Apollo program seems like ancient history. Other nations aren't making much progress either, despite their talk.

Is this the end of our space-faring days?

Every time I wonder this I think about a quirky 1993 paper by J.Richard Gott III of Princeton. Titled "Implications of the Copernican Principle for Our Future Prospects," it draws sweeping conclusions from seemingly nothing. In particular he predicted then that, to within 95%, the lifetime of the human spaceflight program (then 32 years old) was greater than 10 months but less than 1248 years. In 2006 he updated his prediction, stating that there is a 50% chance that the human spaceflight program will not last another 45 years.

Gott might be right. He's been right on some other interesting predictions.

All Gott did was apply the Temporal Copernican Principle -- there is nothing special about the time we live in -- and the obvious fact that there is a 95% chance that a random number in [0,1] lies between 0.025 and 0.975. That's it.

This method predicts, with 95% certainty, that humans have a future longevity of 5,100 - 7.8 million years. In 1993 he predicted that Canada would last between 3 and 4,914 years. (You update that using the latest figures -- that is, only that Canada still exists -- to predict, with 95% certainty, that Canada will  last another 4 to 5,616 years.)  He predicted the closure of many Broadway plays and musicals. Etc.

In 2006 he wrote:
If we fail to establish a self-supporting colony on Mars in the next 45 years while we have the chance, it would be a tragedy. The dimensions of that tragedy may not be apparent to us until such a time, perhaps many thousands of years from now, when we find ourselves trapped on earth with no space program and our extinction as a species looms near. If we spend on the human spaceflight program over the next 45 years as much money in real terms (and send as much weight into low earth orbit) as in the last 45 years and still fail to establish a self-supporting Mars colony, it would be a double tragedy. I do not say this would be easy, but it is what we should be doing. No project we could attempt in the next 45 years would be likely to be as challenging or as important for the future history and survival prospects of our species. Because the human spaceflight program is not very old relative to our species and because our species is not very old relative to the universe, and because our habitat is tiny relative to the universe, we should be colonizing off the earth as soon as possible, while we still can.
I can never figure out if Gott says these with tongue-in-cheek or if he's serious. Or both. Or something entirely else. In any case, he's quite interesting.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

High Melt Rate of US Working Class

Which is melting away fastest: Arctic sea ice or the American working class?

Since 1990:

  • US corporate profits: +200%
  • corporate employee compensation: +20%
  • median family income: +2%

Since 2000:

  • US corporate profits: +80%
  • corporate employee compensation: +8%
  • median family income: -5%

(All figures are inflation-adjusted.)

Source: Sacramento Bee

Friday, July 08, 2011

Slapping Back

A bold tell-it-like-it-is letter in the Oregonian:
In his July 2 letter, Karl Rohde opines that "to give gays unions and to call them 'marriages' is a slap in the face to billions of religious people around the world."

And who, I would ask Rohde, is more deserving of a resounding, global slap in the face than the billions of religious people around the world whose belief systems are the very cause of the intolerance, hatred and human rights abuses heaped upon gays (among many others they disapprove of) since their beginnings? America endured a bloody civil war to end biblically sanctioned human slavery. 
It seems to me a slap in the face to end marriage inequality is the least we can do.

Lake Oswego

An Astonishing Arctic Warming Rate

UAH published their value for the global June temperature anomaly: +0.314°C, which is rather warm for the end of a La Nina. This keeps the rate of warming for their entire record, going back to 1979, at 0.14 ± 0.1 °C/decade.

The really amazing number is the rate of warming at the North Pole, which they also measure. It comes out to 0.42 ± 0.03 °C/decade since 1979. (r2 = 0.28, but it is statistically significant.) That's one degree Fahrenheit every 13 years, though these temperatures too have been basically flat for the last several years.

Here is a nice paper that explains how to calculate slope uncertainties and statistical significance: "Statistical significance of trends and trend differences in layer-average atmospheric temperature time series," B. D. Santer et al, Journal of Geophysical Research (2000) v 105 n D6 pp 7337-7356. [PDF] You can accomplish it in Excel with the LINEST function.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The YikeBike

The YikeBike, made in New Zealand, is touted as a Segway Killer. But to me it looks too undignified to ride -- and maybe a bit too wobbly -- for such ambitions....

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Very Curious Statement By Roy Spencer

"I view my job a little like a legislator, 
supported by the taxpayer, to protect the 
interests of the taxpayer and to minimize 
the role of government."

-- Roy Spencer

This is what Roy Spencer wrote in a reply to a comment on his blog. Note what Spencer--a climatologist and Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, keeper of one of the world's four major temperature datasets, and a noted climate skeptic--did not say: that his job is to provide the best science he can for the taxpayers who pay his salary.

Spencer's scientific research is, ironically, supported solely by government. But it seems his motivation is something more than just science.

Arctic Ice is at a Record Low

PIOMASS has an updated figure for Arctic ice volume (from a new model version), and it continues to shrink rapidly:

Here's another way to look at it, which shows that even though ice extent is currently about the same as 2010 and the record-setting year 2007, ice volume is noticeably lower now:

The new model has a slightly lower anomaly trend: -2.9 ± 1.0 Kkm3/decade, although 2011 started the year about 2.3 Kkm3 lower than 2007 and has maintained that difference. At that rate, and using 7.0 Kkm3 for the 2007 minimum, the Arctic would be ice-free (at its lowest point in the yearly cycle) in just 12 years.

And it looks like the downward trend is accelerating in the last decade, so it could be ice-free before that.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Atheists Up Above

The group American Atheists is flying banners behind airplanes this holiday weekend (as if that's going to convince anyone). I don't understand how atheism is, or is not, patriotic per se, or how belief in a supreme being is patriotic either. Anyway, they had trouble just to find a pilot to fly the plane in conservative states:
Blair Scott, the group's communications director, tells Seattle Weekly that in larger cities and more liberal areas, he had no trouble finding pilots to take the banners to the sky. But in Southern states like Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas and other conservative states like Montana, Kansas, and Utah, there apparently wasn't a single pilot to be found who would fly a banner promoting atheism.

This strikes me as being more about annoying people than presenting an classy and intelligent image of the subject. But I guess that wouldn't have fit on an airplane banner.

One Angelic Dog

The best part is the sigh about 35 seconds in:

Saturday, July 02, 2011


Timothy Egan in the New York Times:
When pressed this week on her unique view of American origins — that “the very same founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more” — Bachmann doubled-down, citing as her only proof the abolitionist John Quincy Adams. Given that Adams was just 8 years old when the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, 10-year-old Sasha Obama should be remembered for killing the world’s top terrorist.

All of the above only fortifies Bachmann’s position with a Republican base that would eat dog food for breakfast if the government said you should not.

The rest, on Bachmann's shameless hypocrisy, is good too.

The Dangers of Wind Power

From, of course, The Onion:

In The Know: Coal Lobby Warns Wind Farms May Blow Earth Off Orbit

My favorite is the old guy on the right.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Did NOAA Exaggerate?

I think Steve Goddard did (sort of) catch NOAA in a mistake or (?) exaggeration on sea level, though it seems to have come from their Communications department and not the actual report. In their press release on the just-released 2010 State of the Climate report they write "...sea level continued to rise," and that's what made it into the Washington Post. (Though the Post reporter should have questioned that; if his beat is climate science, he should have been aware that sea-level has been flat, at best, for the last few years.) But nothing in the report or the media briefing says that, at least that I've found. On the contrary, the report contains this graph (Figure 3.29, pg S100), which clearly shows that overall sea level (mass + steric) has not risen for about three years:

As usual, though, people like Goddard allow no room for simple mistakes, immediately calling them "clowns or criminals?" Sometimes people just make mistakes (and if it is found to be more than that it'd be troubling) but this is a bad one because, as media people should know, one mistake like this can distract from the message of the big picture. I've written them to ask.

PS: "steric" sea-level rise is that due to thermal expansion of water; the mass component, called "eustatic," is from an increase in ocean mass from glacier and (nonfloating) ice melt, dam releases, etc.

Excel Bleg

In MS Excel, if you enter a formula like =A1/1e9 into a cell, Excel displays it in the formula bar as =A1/1000000000 . Is there a way to force Excel to keep the scientific notation in the formula bar? I haven't been able to find one, and the large amount of zeros make such things difficult to proofread. Thanks.

Note added 7/18/12: I have found a partial solution, as I explain here.