Thursday, May 31, 2012

USA: We Can't Even Keep Our Plants Straight

Yet one more way in which the U.S. has gone astray:
"The tomato, though a fruit to botanists, has been decreed a vegetable by the United States Supreme Court."
      -- Nicholas Wade, New York Times
Is there anything lawyers haven't ruined?

Global Warming Isn't Global

When thinking about something like 3°C warming by 2050, one thing to keep in mind (as I reminded myself today) is that that's the global average. But most people live on land, and average warming there will greater than warming over the oceans. And most people (90%) live in the northern hemisphere, where the trend is warmer still.

Here are the lower troposphere trends of different regions* as measured by UAH. (Uncertainties are statistical uncertainties, at the 95% confidence level; NH = Northern Hemisphere)

region UAH LT trend
ratio to
Global trend
0.13 ± 0.02
Land 0.17 ± 0.02
1.3 ± 0.2
Ocean 0.11 ± 0.02
0.8 ± 0.1
NH Land 0.19 ± 0.02
1.4 ± 0.1

So perhaps as warming increases people will tend to move not just away from the equator, but to to small isolated islands, where (I suspect) the warming trend is more like that of their surrounding ocean than of land. Unfortunately, some of those islands will be underwater.

Perhaps really rich people will live on ships, and invite others in order to set them up as small independent countries of their own, a la Blueseed.

(*Of course, there will still be significant regional differences on smaller scales, too.)

My Guess for UAH's May LT Anomaly: +0.23 C

My estimate for UAH's May LT global anomaly, based on simple-minded assumptions of linearity, is +0.23°C, which would make it the 4th-warmest May (in 34 years) and the 56-warmest month (among 402 months).

Not close to perfect
Here's my record since I started guessing:

Note that I'm not even perfect on-average. (I was told that once, right before she slammed the door.)

And then my guess for GISS's May anomaly is +0.54°C, which would be the 7th-warmest May in their 133-yr record of Mays.

It definitely seems like things are heating up now that the La Nina is over. Or maybe that's just confirmation bias.

"The Eskimo and the Oil Man" is Excellent

So last night I started reading The Eskimo and The Oil Man, and it's excellent -- definitely in the hard-to-put-down category. Bob Reiss's style is very engaging, smoothly combining exposition and narration, which is even more impressive given the complexities of the topic.

Reiss tells the story of climate change and oil exploration in the Arctic, beginning just after the 2010 oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. His two main characters are the mayor of North Slope, Alaska--an Iñupiat Eskimo whose town is heavily dependent on oil revenue--and an executive from Shell Oil who wants to secure drilling opportunities in the Arctic in the face of opposition from environmental groups, the White House, and the mayor's conflicts between his town's funding and his concern for preserving his backyard and the culture of his people.

Here's an excerpt:
As [Mayor] Itta left his house, his concerns were shared by most residents of the region. Subsistence hunting was not only the basis of Iñupiat culture but it provided the food that people ate. In the last census 61 percent of residents who worked full time and 89 percent of the unemployed reported getting over half their nourishment from hunting and fishing.

What do do? Fight Shell or not? The whale hunter--in his political capacity--was one of the most influential rural mayors in the United States. At his orders borough lawyers had challenged Shell in court in 2007, charging the federal agency responsible for permitting any offshore drilling with failing to conduct underlying science, failing to show whether the drill plan would do hard to the areas offshore.

"Too much, too fast, too soon," Itta had said then, and the court had agreed with him.

A Shell spokesman said that year, "That we failed I lay directly at the feet of Edward Itta."

But now Shall had changed the plan--made it smaller, and promised to stay away longer during hunting weeks--so Itta had refused to join national environmental groups--and a few Eskimo ones--still trying to bar Shell in court. His problem was not that he wished to halt all oil development. It was far trickier. It as a microcosm of energy issues facing the world.
What's so attractive about Reiss's presentation is that he presents the story via his characters, which adds real zing to his writing. And these characters are fully dimensional, pushed and pulled by many forces, struggling to do what's best for them, and what's best for the world from their points of view, fully cognizant of all the many issues at play, modern men with modern responsibilities.

I'm finding it a very attractive account of an issue that, too often, to too many of us, appears black-and-white, as if its a Yankees/Red Sox game and we're all calling up talk radio as Pete-from-Dorchester or Louie-from-the Bronx. In every paragraph Reiss makes it clear that it's not like that at all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reuters: Correction on 11 F by 2050

Reuters tells me they issued a correction this afternoon (after I wrote them, but they didn't say that part) to their article where Fatih Tirol said emissions were on track to cause an 11°F warming by 2050; the story now reads:
"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (towards the end of this century), which would have devastating consequences for the planet," Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist told Reuters.
This now make sense. Using the same chart I gave earlier, projecting using the linear trend from 1950-2012 [the slope of the log of emissions, in GtC, is 0.0098] out to 2100, cumulative emissions in 2100 would be 4,000 GtC, for a warming of 6.1°C (11°F).

[Note, though, that the simple carbon-climate response function does not hold above 2000 GtC.]

However, that would mean 2100 emissions are about 90 GtC, or 330 Gt CO2 -- over 10 times today's. Is that conceivable? If world population then is 10 billion people, per-capita emissions would be 33 Gt CO2 per year -- twice what current US per-capita emissions are.

That strikes me as unlikely, though perhaps no inconceivable. But if humans are really so stupid as to not take some drastic action by at least 2050, when total warming would be 3.0°C -- if even after that we continue to burn fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate, well then we are clearly too stupid to deserve to continue as a species, and the Universe would best be rid of us.

(Unfortunately we would take a lot of other species down with us. (I don't suppose "we're sorry" would help much?) But some species will survive -- extremophiles, if no one else -- and they'd get a chance to start over.)

Eli and others: I still fault Romm for extremism, such as originally passing the 11 F story on without questioning it. [His "Update" came after -- note that he altered the post's title from its original.] But, I was not able to keep up with all the comments as they came in on my post. Sorry for falling behind.

The Eskimo and the Oil Man

I get sent a fair number of books for possible review, and since I can't always place reviews for them all (the market is sadly moribund, and the payment even worse) I'm going to start noting them here, in the hope some readers will find them attractive.

The first is The Eskimo and The Oil Man: The Battle at the Top of the World for America's Future by Bob Reiss.

As an entree to exploring the issues of the melting Arctic, Reiss examines the lives of two of the men deeply involved in that region's troubles and opportunities: Edward Itta, the Eskimo mayor of the North Slope of Alaska, and Pete Slaiby, an executive from Shell. The narrative "depicts the struggle to reach a drilling decision that will benefit Shell while protecting the native Iñupiat community's way of life."

It strikes me as very well written, smoothly working the particulars in the story. I plan to read this even if I don't get the opportunity to review it somewhere.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Visualizing Last Year's Emissions of Carbon Dioxide

I was working on something today and came up with the following:

So, in 2011 the world's humans emitted 31.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels (and probably another 5 Gt or so from land use changes, but I'll ignore that for now).

That's 8.6 billion metric tons of carbon, and it were all in the form of diamond, it would be a cube 1.4 km on a side.

That diamond would weigh over 40,000 trillion carats -- it would take 330 million years to mine that amount, at current mining rates.

It would be worth about $3,000,000 trillion dollars, or over 42,000 times the GDP of the entire world.

It would be a sizeable mountain: as a pyramid whose base is a square, with each side equal to its height, it would be 1,900 meters tall (6,400 ft).

It would be the 1,459 times the size of one of the largest of the World Trade Centers. With the same base area of one of the towers, it would reach 378 miles high, or almost twice as high as the International Space Station.

If it were a rod that reached to the moon, it would have a diameter of over 9 feet.

In other words, it's a lot of CO2! (But if it were all at the surface of the Earth, at sea-level temperature and pressure, it would be a layer only 3.3 cm thick.)

Note: Corrections cheerfully accepted.

Added: Lest these numbers seem too surprising, remember that the Earth's atmosphere weighs about 5 million gigatons (to first-order it's simply PsAs/gs, where Ps is the surface atmospheric pressure, As the area of the Earth's surface, and gs the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface). And 2,000 Gt of that is CO2 (if the CO2 level is 395 ppm).

von Storch on 11 F: "I consider this pure alarmism"

Hans von Storch agrees: No way 11°F by 2050.

About that Reuters article he writes:
"...the 2 degree goal is repeated as a need established by scientists.

"...A forth interesting issue is that climate science has become irrelevant; it shows up in passing, when "limit devastating climate effects like crop failure and melting glaciers" is mentioned, and the quote "the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050)" is made.This is a pretty bold prediction, given that we have so far less than 1 degree warming since pre-industrial times, so that the warming must be more than 5 degrees/38 years, i.e., about 0.7-0.8 deg/decade. I consider this pure alarmism, which is related to the timing, and a misuse of scientific analysis for creating some unsustainable short term drama for the Bonn-negotiations. I wonder if this 6-degrees claim is really from IEA, or just an addition by Fatih Birol, because is no not mentioned in the IEA's announcement."
I've written to Birol asking about his carbon-climate response function, but haven't heard back yet.

H/T: Tom Nelson

Monday, May 28, 2012

11 F Warming by 2050?? No way.

Note added 5/31/12: Reuters has issued a correction to the article this post was based on. Click here for details.
The new Romm Record of 11°F apparently comes from a Reuters article where Faith Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the IEA, says we are on track for that amount of warming by 2050:
"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet," Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist told Reuters.
That seems preposterous to me, on its face and on further analysis, which seems to me implies an additional warming (from now) of about 1.5 to 2°F by 2050. Here's why.

The carbon-climate response (CCR) is about 1.5°C per trillion metric tons of carbon emitted. That's the number given in the recent Swart and Weaver Nature Climate Change paper analyzing expected from the Alberta tar sands, with a range of 1.0–2.1 °C per Tt C (5th–95th percentile). That result comes from a 2009 Nature paper by Matthews et al., and this function includes feedbacks.

So let's add up the emissions.

Fossil fuels and cement production: 
Here is historical carbon emissions data from CDIAC; it includes fossil fuel combustion and cement production, and comes to 347 GtC as of 2008. Add in the recent IEA figures -- which are for fossil fuel consumption only -- and using the CDIAC data to estimate cement-carbon for the last few years, and the total emissions in that sector are about 375 GtC.

Land use changes:
Here is CDIAC's estimates of carbon emissions from land use changes. It the 1800s it was several times combustion emissions, but since 1933 it has been less and is now about 16% of combustion emissions. Add these up and this sector's total emissions (since 1850) are about 165 GtC.

Total Emissions:
So total emissions since 1850 are about 540 GtC, for which the CCR gives an expected warming of 0.81°C , which is what's been observed. Here's the plot:

So cumulative emissions by 2050 look to be around 2000 GtC, give or take. [That's the upper limit of applicability of this CCR.] That gives an expected [total] warming of about about 3°C (2.2°C more than today), or a total of 5.4°F, half of Birol's number.

Even that seems large. It means the next 38 years will see an average temperature increase of 0.58°C/decade, which is three and a half times the GISS warming rate of the last 30 years. Be honest: does that seem likely to you?

Even taking the upper bound of the CCR range, 2.1°C (which, let's note, overestimates the warming that's taken place so far by over 30%), gives a total warming of 7.6°F -- an additional warming of 0.9°C/decade from now until 2050.

I just don't see how anyone can get 11°F out of these numbers. 2050 cumulative emissions would need to be about 3,500 GtC for that to happen, which seems very unlikely. (At the CCR's upper bound it would be 2,500 GtC, which seems unlikely, though perhaps not "very" unlikely.)

Conclusion: Romm is rong -- in this case, the "alarmist" label definitely applies.

Note added: On second thought, 2050 cumulative emissions could be much less than I assumed -- projecting the line in the plot above, starting at 1950, gives cumulative emissions of 1300 GtC in 2050, not 2000 as I guessed. That gives a total warming of only 3.5°F (2.0°C) by 2050.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Daily Arctic Sea Ice Extent Back Online

Datafreaks: The daily IARC-JAXA Arctic sea ice extent is back online.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent

They've filled in the data since the AMSR-E instrument went dead last October, and brought it all into calibration with previous sensors and the current sensor (WindSat).

Already 2012 is melting a little faster than average, which has been the case since 2002 (due, probably, to thinner ice).

Via: Climate and Stuff (who has more plots).

New Romm Record: 11 F

I believe Joe Romm has hit a new record: 11°F

That breaks his previous record of "10°F," set on December 24, 2007. It must be getting harder to get oneself on Fox News.

Do I hear 12°F?

Reminder: Romm's employer refuses to reveal its funding sources. Perhaps one of them manufacture thermometers?

New Emissions Data: BAU

The just IEA released last year's CO2 emissions data, and it's the usual story -- 2011 emissions from burning fossil fuels are up 1.0 gigatons, or 3.2%. (In 2010 they were up 5.5% from the year before).

  • The breakdown in emission sources is: coal 45%, oil 35%, natural gas 20%.
  • China's per-capita emissions are rising fast: from 52% of the OECD average to 63% in just two years. (Rearrange the letters in OECD and it spells "r-i-c-h." That means most of those reading this. You -- yes, you, pal -- you live in a society in the top 18%. That's pretty lucky, and you had nothing whatsoever to do with it. So stop whining.)
  • The press release goes out of its way to marvel at China's decrease in energy intensity: 
    "What China has done over such a short period of time to improve energy efficiency and deploy clean energy is already paying major dividends to the global environment”, said Dr. Birol. China’s carbon intensity — the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GDP — fell by 15% between 2005 and 2011. Had these gains not been made, China’s CO2 emissions in 2011 would have been higher by 1.5 Gt.
    OK... (I really can't stand this kind of diplomatic dancing that you always see in anything the UN, IEA, etc. put out.) Sure, Chinese citizens deserve to use just as much energy as citizens in the OECD countries. (Again, that's you and me.) And their per-capita coal consumption is still only 82% of the US's. But their coal-burning is increasing very, very fast, and they now burn half the world's coal, and no statistical shuffling of the feet is going to hide that this is a problem for the world's climate.
  • [By the way, 2010 US per-capita coal consumption was 6,800 lbs/person/yr, 2.9 times the world average. How exactly are you Americans using 19 pounds of coal a day?]
  • US CO2 emissions are down 430 Mt since 2006, or 7.7%. Except we still emit 17% of the world's CO2 (from fossil fuels), and only have 4.5% of the world's population. One factor is simply that people are driving less -- gasoline has finally gotten expensive enough for people to care, and perhaps the road congestion reached the tipping point -- as per-capita gas consumption is at levels seen 20 years ago:

  • For some reason the IEA thinks they can specify warming as a function of emissions to within 3% (or so) accuracy:
    "The 450 Scenario of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2011, which sets out an energy pathway consistent with a 50% chance of limiting the increase in the average global temperature to 2°C, requires CO2 emissions to peak at 32.6 Gt no later than 2017, i.e. just 1.0 Gt above 2011 levels. The 450 Scenario sees a decoupling of CO2 emissions from global GDP, but much still needs to be done to reach that goal as the rate of growth in CO2 emissions in 2011 exceeded that of global GDP. “The new data provide further evidence that the door to a 2°C trajectory is about to close,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol."
    I don't get that -- climate models have no where near that level of accuracy. So what are they doing by giving the world the impression that future warming can be precisely determined by how much fossil fuel we burn?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The '70s Cooling Meme vs. Knowledge

I have never really understood deniers' fascination with "1970s global cooling," or that it would mean much of anything even if it were true.

This has come up again with the discovery of a (purported) CIA report on the subject. As William Connelley says, CIA reports aren't scientific research and do no represent an objective look at the status of science.

Nor would a consensus in the popular media of that time mean much either, though I think that notion was well refuted by the 2008 Peterson, Connelley and Fleck paper in BAMS.

Whenever I see someone advancing the idea of 1970's global cooling, it tells me they don't really understand how science works and what it means -- and so they are grasping at straws.

Were some people in the 1970s thinking about global cooling? Yes -- given the temperature data, anyone would have. But "thinking about" something and publishing claims that it's happening are two very different things, and people like Callendar, Plass, Gilbert, had already been thinking about an enhanced greenhouse effect for decades. [Warning note added: Tom Nelson purposely distorts what I'm saying here by quoting only part of what I wrote.] And there were reports on that as well.
  • The 1965 report to the Johnson Administration has a chapter on CO2’s potential to cause warming: “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment,” Report of the Environmental Pollution Panel, President’s Science Advisory Committee (1965), pp 111-133
  • A 1969 memo from President Nixon’s Democratic adviser, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, wrote about concerns over CO2’s impact.
  • In 1967 Syukuro Manabe and Richard Wetherald had a model that found a climate sensitivity of 2.3 C. 
  • Wallace Broecker's 1975 article in Science was directly worried about CO2: "Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?", Wallace S. Broecker, Science Vol. 189 no. 4201 pp. 460-463, August 8, 1975 
So Connelley is right -- the CIA hardly had a handle on all of the work going on.

Besides, science advances. New discoveries are made and new ideas come into prominence(*). Here is a partial list of fundamental properties about the universe that weren't known in 1970:

And this is just physics. Biology and genetics have changed even more, as has medicine. Computers (or models) aren't in the same universe....

The state of scientific knowledge in 2012 is far better than it was in the 1970s. What happened then is no more relevant than if someone said quantum chromodynamics (the theory of the strong force) is in doubt today because in the 1970s science wasn't sure how many quarks there were.

(*) Note that these discoveries are extensions of existing knowledge, not replacements for them. (Yes, they replaced ideas -- but those ideas weren't knowledge, but hypotheses.) At this point, the scientific idea of an enhanced greenhouse effect from fossil fuel emissions will not be overthrown, ever. It is established fact, with long line of theoretical and experimental evidence that goes back to Fourier. It's here to stay, and its baseline sensitivity of ~1.2°C for a CO2e-doubling will not change much. (The magnitude of eedbacks, though, are a different matter -- it's a difficult calculation.)

There may be discoveries about properties of clouds in a warming world, or perhaps a closing of the open (viz. unproven) steps in the Svensmark Hypothesis, or some other complicating factors discovered. Better models may find a slightly lower climate sensitivity (a la Schmitter et al last year). But the enhanced greenhouse effect is here to stay -- that's never going away as a proven idea or as an observation, and all the CIA reports ever written won't change that.

(And if the enhanced GHE ever did cease to exist, I would, literally, turn off all my electronics, lock my doors, and probably sit quaking in a dark corner of the room, because it means some fundamental alteration of natural laws has taken place, or been caused to take place, that is so far outside our ken that our very existence is in immediate danger.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Anonymous Comments Are Meaningless

I'm getting "Anonymous" comments on my post about the Pacific Institute's investigation of Peter Gleick....

You know what? Anonymous comments are meaningless. I immediately disregard any information in them.

I'm a journalist. I respect sources who have something to say but wish to remain off-the-record.... If you're such a person, you can write me at If you'd prefer, you can even check with me first to ensure I'll respect you anonymity.... I've never revealed a source in my life.

But I put absolutely no credence in anything that is written in public by someone who won't reveal their name. I don't trust that it's real, and I don't trust that it's fake. It's a waste of your time, and of my time. So please, don't even bother.

The Lesson of SpaceX's Dragon

dragon-msnbcWilliam Connelley's post on SpaceX's Dragon launch to the ISS is a good opportunity to point out what we're seeing -- the birth of a private space industry made possible only by 50 years of government investment in space science and technology, financed by the collective investment of a few generations of U.S. taxpayers (and, being fair, the work of many scientists around the world before and since, mostly supported by their home governments).

Innovation and progress like this doesn't just happen. It happens only because governments lay the foundation for it -- a story we have seen again and again.

Sadly, this bears emphasizing, at a time when many in the U.S. are no longer able to grasp the fundamental role government plays in progress.

Gleick Review Not Finalized, Pacific Institute Says

Last week Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian reported:
"A review has cleared the scientist Peter Gleick of forging any documents in his expose of the rightwing Heartland Institute's strategy and finances, the Guardian has learned."
But the Pacific Institute is telling me that no such clearing has occurred:
"The Pacific Institute Board of Directors has not finalized its review of the investigation or announced any decisions at this point."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Arthur C. Clarke Never Would Have Predicted

"That we would have gone to the moon and stopped."

-- Arthur C. Clarke, when asked what development of the 20th-century he never would have predicted.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just a Great Picture

Isn't this a great picture?

It's of the rocket that launched yesterday from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, carrying the AMSR2 instrument on the Japanese satellite Shizuku that will measure sea surface temperatures, water vapor, and more over the oceans. (Roy Spencer has more; that's where I found this picture.)

Watching Sunday's Solar Eclipse

There's a solar eclipse on Sunday, with great viewing if you're in the western U.S. but still partial in almost all of the continental US, and much of Canada and Mexico. It will start about 5 pm PDT on the west coast.

It won't be total, but "annular" -- the moon is relatively far from the Earth, so it won't completely cover the Sun. Instead there will be the "ring of fire" (but only if you're in the west).

Here are some tools I've found that let you zero in on the time for your location:
  • NASA has a Javascript calculator that gives the start, maximum, and end times for major cities -- or you can enter any latitude and longitude.
  • This site lets you find a latitude and longitude for any street address.
Here are some viewing tips for safe watching (problems are rare, but nonzero):

Other good sites:

NASA Eclipse Page
NASA's description of Sunday's eclipse
More than you wanted to know
How to convert from Universal Time, if you need to

I still remember my first solar eclipse -- I must have been 7 or 8, and just as it was starting my mother asked me to run over to my grandmother's to borrow a cup of sugar or something. I was terrified of looking up at the sun because of all the warnings not to look straight at it, and ran the whole way staring at the ground as best I could.

By the way, we are very lucky beings, because a solar eclipse is a rare thing for any planet. We just happen to living at a time and place when one of our moons and the Sun have the same apparent size as seen by us: both are now at a distance where they subtend the same angle:

dmoon/Dmoon ≈ dsun/Dsun ≈ 0.5 degrees

where d is the diameter of each body, and D its distance from the Earth. More details here, since the actual value of the ratio varies slightly depending on the Earth's distance from the Sun and the Moon's distance from the Earth, since both travel in ellipses.

Some people think this coincidence proves the existence of God, but they are people who already believe in God in the first place.

Because of tidal friction the moon is moving away from the Earth -- about 1.5 inches per year. NASA says:
When the Moon's mean distance from Earth has increased an additional 14,600 miles, it will be too far away to completely cover the Sun. This is true even at perigee when its disk will be smaller than the Sun's disk even at perihelion. At the current rate that the Moon's orbit is increasing, it will take over 600 million years for the last total eclipse to occur. A complicating factor is that the size of the Sun itself will grow slightly during this time, which will act to make the time of "no more total eclipses" a bit sooner than 600 million years.
If for some reason you miss this one (but why would you), there will be another solar eclipse, this one total, on August 21, 2017. that will be seen across much of the U.S.

Another Billboard

This time from the Climate Reality Project, the organization founded by Al Gore. It's in Chicago, and 8 others will go up as well.

About them: "The Climate Reality Project has more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide."

A smart move, I would say.

Note added: More on this story, including this billboard that was rejected, here.

A group that campaigns against climate change skepticism says that Clear Channel rejected its billboard ad, an ironic play on an ad from the conservative Heartland Institute.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oregon County Decides to Go Native

Many of the rural counties in Oregon have been hurt economically by restrictions on logging timber. I haven't lived here long enough to fully understand the issues, let alone to have a dog in the fight, but any discussion of it quickly involves the spotted owl.

Since 2000 these counties have been getting payments from the federal government, on the theory that if they can't cut (or harvest, depending on your point of view) their timber, and if the land is federal and hence not taxed, the county deserves compensation. With the federal fiscal difficulties these payments have ended, or will very soon, so many of the counties are in dire straits, and with the Great Recession many of them can't find other economic opportunities (or haven't tried hard enough, depending on your point of view).

Josephine County (pop: 83,000), in southwestern Oregon, has just thrown in the towel.

Tuesday their citizens voted 2-to-1 against a levy that would have raised their lowest-in-the-state property taxes (58 cents per $1000 of assessed value) to $1.99, to make up a $12 million annual shortfall. (In Portland, mill-rates are $15-$20 per $1000.)

So yesterday county officials started cutting. The Sheriff's office staff will go from 98 to 28 employees, and the sheriff will be the only officer available around-the-clock. (This county is larger than Long Island.) 90 out of 120 inmates will be released from the county jail. 4 of 9 county prosecutors are being released. The district attorney will ignore all but serious crimes:
Most misdemeanors will not be prosecuted, which includes minor assaults, such as from domestic disputes, and minor thefts. Domestic abuse rises to a felony if it is done in front of the kids. Resisting arrest will still be prosecuted, as will some drunken driving. But reckless driving, menacing, driving while suspended, probably not. Even some felonies won’t go to court.

“The list is pretty long,” Campbell said. “I have been telling the budget committee for years now that I can’t carry out my mandate as it is. There is a segment of cases that are declared violations, which we don’t prosecute, that are prosecuted in most counties of the state. That has already been happening. This is even worse.”
Not surprisingly, the last few months have seen a spike in gun purchases in the county. At a recent county meeting there were more questions about when deadly force can be used than about the sheriff's office budget, and the office is giving people advice on when they can and can't pull a weapon on someone. (Oregon has no "Stand Your Ground" law.)

Essentially, this county has voted themselves back into the third world. (I would call it the "developing world," but it's difficult to see any development taking place somewhere that can't even enforce their laws.) You should probably stay clear, as I suppose any business will who was ever contemplating moving there. That's what they call a negative feedback loop.

It's difficult not to think this is what a certain fraction of Americans want for the entire country. Sad.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why It's OK to Use the Word "Denier"

The Heartland Institute puts up a post of others behaving badly, as if (a) that justifies their own bad behavior, and (b) they can't tell the difference between a freeway billboard and a Web page.

Meanwhile, those leaving the Heartland Institute have written a more Heartfelt Apology than their former bosses ever did:
"On a more personal note, I am sorry about the billboard that Heartland ran. It was an experiment. It was short lived.  I didn’t create it and didn’t know about it until about five minutes before it launched. Nonetheless, I still work for the Heartland Institute through May 31 and, as such, I feel I owe everyone an apology.  I’ll say it again: I’m sorry. The billboard just isn’t my style or a message that I particularly agree with." -- Eli Lehrer
Marc Morano told HI:
“This is so silly. Every day now, skeptics are compared to Holocaust deniers and the media yawns. But Heartland does an edgy billboard accurately reflecting the views of those featured in it and the media acts as though they are offended?
One reason I don't get upset about using the word "denier" is that it's a perfectly good word for their position that is not, and should not be, immediately burdened by association to Holocaust deniers, even if a few idiots say that's why they use it. I'm not going to let my vocabulary be dictated by rude and thoughtless people.

The other reason is that even some deniers use the word "deny." This, for example, is from the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming from the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation:

If they use the word "deny," especially as in point #1, why can't anyone else? It's the most accurate word for their position.

BTW, the Cornwall Alliance, too, won't say who funds them. Thinkprogress, while hypocritically refusing to reveal their own funding sources, says this.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Would You Believe Bill McKibben Doesn't Know Who Funds

Would you believe that Bill McKibben doesn't know who funds his organization, No, I wouldn't either. But here he is on video, about a year ago (jump to the 13:15 mark), saying -- not very convincingly -- that he doesn't know, even though he says they have 7 full-time employees.

McKibben is President and Co-Founder of He's in charge. Presidents of nonprofits usually know who funds them. He doesn't seem to want to say. To her credit, Karyn Strickler, the interviewer, presses him on it and expresses her incredulity, even though she is sympathetic to's mission.

What is with these environmental organizations (Center for American Progress is another one) who expect transparency from their foes but won't provide it themselves?

I'm not sure exactly when the interview was shot -- the video's stats start the week of 12/7/10.

Monday, May 14, 2012

That Sharp Dip in Arctic Sea Ice Extent....

I asked DMI about that downward spike in Arctic sea ice extent, which I mentioned here the other day. (Since it was hotlinked, it no longer shows up on my blog post.) It was due to data fallout over the Hudson Bay, which you can see that here is you step back to 5/8/12. They've fixed it now, as well as two others from February.


Australian Threats, Yet Again

I am reluctant to wade back into the issue of death threats against Australian climate scientists, because these are real people we're talking about, and who am I do judge what they find threatening or not, and in what way? As I've said before, threats are in the eye of the threatened.

Nor do I know the full context in which email are received and what has happened beforehand to the recipient, his or her department, or in Australia.

And I find people using it as points for their cause, and the taunting, to be puerile -- and it further encourages those who send abuse and threats.

But, one last time: this commenter asked, where is the evidence of the threats?

One was captured on video.


If you still need more proof, there are the email seen by Australian journalist Graham Readfern, which I excerpted here. These are outside the scope of the ANU FOI request, but no less troubling. It's convenient, but dishonest, for deniers to pretend these don't exist just because they're outside the FOI.

As part of the FOI, there is Document 5, which contains this:

Given that kind of death threat, spoken out loud, it's no wonder that anyone who received a hostile email (such as Docs 2 (especially), 7, and 8) would consider it threatening and look for reassurances of their safety.

You and I might be used to the rude and obscene rhetoric that now routinely appears on blogs and Web forums, but that doesn't mean everyone is, especially scientists suddenly caught in an angry national debate. If they feel threatened and request protection, who are any of us to question their motives or that of a department chair who moved them to safety?

Debating those circumstances from half a world away is not fair or objective.

Nor is it worthwhile to repeatedly respond to juveniles and bullies who do nothing but taunt and mock others, pollute the debate over important issues as a way of getting attention and wealth, and encourage the very extremism they then deny. They are, literally, poisoning and sickening our world, as will be the anonymous (hence cowardly) commenters who will now no doubt flock here to post their insults.

Now I'm going to go take a shower.

Harry Reid: "So what's a semiconductor?"

"The SIA [Semiconductor Industry Association] had also become increasingly concerned about Washington's ignorance of semiconductors, a fact that continues to shock senior executives. At a meeting with Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, and twenty semiconductor chief executives before the SIA's move, Reid started off by asking , "So what's a semiconductor?" according to one of the executives present. After having it politely explained, Reid kept referring to the "supercollider," which has as little to do with the computer chip as french fries."

-- Edward Luce, Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent
[The "move" referred to is the SIA's move of headquarters from Silicon Valley to Washington DC in 2010.]

Luce is the Washington columnist for the Financial Times. I recommend this book for a non-American's perspective on what's ailing the United States, and how its increasing ignorance and dysfunction is quickly removing the U.S. from the playing field of the twenty-first century. David Frum has a short interview with Luce here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

More Proof the 1970s Weren't About Global Cooling

As you know, global cooling wasn't the dominant climate theme of the 1970s. Here's more proof, from 1973's Soylent Green (set in the year 2020):

(To be fair, the movie did imagine that New York City's population in 2020 was 40 million, which looks unlikely. And people aren't being made into crackers. That we know of.)

Interesting AGU Papers

Some interesting papers (to me) from this week's batch of AGU TOCs:
  • Wada et al, GRL: "Past and future contribution of global groundwater depletion to sea-level rise"

    Taking water from the ground sends it on its way to the oceans, but putting up dams in rivers keeps it from reaching the sea. Humans are doing more of the former, and the dams are about at capacity. So whatever rise is sea level has been suppressed will start to show up again eventually, and this paper says that time is soon:

    "Our results show that the contribution of groundwater depletion to sea-level increased from 0.035 (±0.009) mm yr−1 in 1900 to 0.57 (±0.09) mm yr−1 in 2000, and is projected to increase to 0.82 (±0.13) mm yr−1 by the year 2050. We estimate the net contribution of terrestrial sources to be negative of order −0.15 (±0.09) mm yr−1 over 1970–1990 as a result of dam impoundment. However, we estimate this to become positive of order +0.25 (±0.09) mm yr−1 over 1990–2000 due to increased groundwater depletion and decreased dam building. We project the net terrestrial contribution to increase to +0.87 (±0.14) mm yr−1 by 2050. As a result, the cumulative contribution will become positive by 2015, offsetting dam impoundment (maximum −31 ± 3.1 mm in 2010), and resulting in a total rise of +31 (±11) mm by 2050."

  • Orsi et al, GRL: The Little Ice Age shows up in Antarctica too, though about half the cooling of Greenland.
  • Weijer et al, GRL: A more realistic ocean model than of IPCC-class suggests any decline in the Atlantic Meriodional Current -- that's the one that sends heat to northern Europe -- would be more gradual but more persistent.
  • Wakelin et al, JGR: The amount of carbon going from the atmosphere into the northeastern Atlantic Ocean (the North Sea, etc.) is ∼6 ± 1 × 1012 mol C yr−1. (I just love that they can determine such things.) By way of comparison, there are now about 7 × 1016 mol C in the atmosphere, and humans emit about 4 × 1014 mol C yr−1. (Most of the carbon being absorbed by the oceans happens where the water is cold, at the high latitudes.)
  • Chakrabarty et al, GRL: Black carbon in northeastern India is increasing daily temperatures in the lower atmosphere by about 2 C

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Heartland Institute Tries Apologizing

The Heartland Institute finally tries apologizing. It is, to say the least, underwhelming:
Russell Cook notes over at The American Thinker how The Heartland Institute’s one-day Unabomber billboard along a highway near Chicago “was a gift to alarmists on a silver platter.”

Noted. It was a mistake on our part. Sorry about that.
Then Jim Lakely immediately goes back on the offensive, demonstrating they aren't really contrite at all:
Cook faults Heartland for allowing climate alarmists to continue playing their “shell games” that “keep the public from fully comprehending the enormous faults in the idea of man-caused global warming.” Again: Guilty as charged.

But the larger story here, writes Cook, is that “alarmists have failed for nearly 20 years to prove the science is settled or that skeptics are unworthy of public trust, but they’ve only accomplished this by avoiding any debate about those assertions.”
Every other Google Alert I get now refers to them as the "radical Heartland Institute," and with "apologies" like this it's not looking like a label they are going to shake off. Character always outs in the end.

"Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the 
life of an individual and of nations alike."
-- Theodore Roosevelt

Plotting the Monthly Rank of Temperatures

A comment about the relevance of the monthly rank of temperature anomalies motivated this graph. It shows the rank of each month in the entire 401-month UAH dataset for the lower troposphere:

The warmest month is still a tie between February 1998 and April 1998 (+0.66°C). April 2012 ranks 39th.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Morning Data Perusal

According to NOAA, the last 12 months in the continental US have been the warmest since their records began:

The trend of the entire record is 0.12°F/decade, for a total change of 1.42°F (0.79°C).

What the heck is going on with Arctic sea ice?

Neven covers Arctic sea ice better than anyone, so you can read this about PIOMAS for April. He also has an interesting post about a study that says only the enhanced greenhouse effect can explain the decline of Arctic ice. And here's their concise explanation of why Antarctica is different:
In the Antarctic, the situation is different. Here, the sea-ice cover is slightly increasing. This increase is clearly incompatible with greenhouse gas concentration being the main driver for the sea-ice evolution down South. The major reason for this discrepancy lies in the different land-mass distributions, the scientists find. In the Arctic Ocean, the ice is virtually locked by the surrounding land masses, and its extent is primarily governed by its melting and freezing. Therefore, greenhouse gases play such an important role up in the high North. In the Antarctic, by contrast, the sea ice is free to drift around in the open Southern Ocean. Hence, the ice extent there is primarily governed by the prevailing wind patterns. "Our results show that greenhouse gas concentration is currently not a major driver for sea-ice extent in the Southern Ocean, where winds and currents clearly are more important," explains Marotzke. "In the land-locked Arctic Ocean, however, greenhouse gas concentration appears to play the dominating role for the observed sea-ice evolution."
The GRL paper is here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Figure from Po-Chedley & Fu's Correction to UAH Trend

Update 4:25 pm PDT: John Christy and Roy Spencer has a response here. 

Update 3:04 pm PDT: John Christy tells me they are preparing a response to the Po-Chedley & Fu paper and will post it soon:
I have a not-final version of the Po-Chedley & Fu paper claiming an error in UAH middle troposphere temperatures. Here's their figure that shows a difference in how UAH handled the NOAA-9 satellite, which was used from about 1985-1987 (Change 2:54 pm PDT: new, corrected version of the figure):

The "warm target" calibration corrects for the effect of the satellite body that the instrument resides in. The authors write:
We find that the difference between any two teams’ TMT anomaly series is significantly correlated (95% confidence) with the global mean NOAA-9 warm target temperature from January 1985 to February 1987 (26 months). For example, the correlation coefficient (r) for UAH–NOAA and UAH–RSS versus TTARGET is -0.90 and -0.83, respectively. This implies that the warm target calibration does explain some of the differences betweenthe MSU datasets. As a result of the warm target temperature drift during NOAA-9’s operational life, these differences will also affect the merged TMT trends. In this study, we utilize radiosondes as references to find biases in the warm target factor αi.
(Edit 3:00 pm PDT - correlation coefficients corrected from a cut-and-paste error that had them displayed as "20.90" and "20.83".)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

UAH LT April Temperature: +0.295 C

I received a note that the UAH LT anomaly for April 2012 is +0.295°C, which I assume will be posted soon.

That's the 4th-warmest April in their 34-year record.

Also, that RSS uses a different base reference (1979-1988) than UAH (1981-2010, the WMO standard), which I didn't note here. In the UAH base, RSS's April anomaly is +0.211.

Heartland Bleeding Badly

Scott Mandia gets things done! In the wake of his letter, State Farm is pulling their support for the Heartland Institute. They're the biggest donor yet: "...between 2010 and 2011 State Farm and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance gave the Heartland Institute $464,200. The company was expected to give the think thank $155,000 this year."

This may be turning into a watershed moment for the climate cause -- or at least, against the denier cause.

Anthony Watts jumps on Climate Progress for withdrawing their Web page "Norway Terrorist is a Global Warming Denier," but as of right now, the page is present.

Jo Nova has her mind made up about the Australian death threats, and apparently nothing will change it: "Appell has merely dug up the same old rude emails that were scraped together last time this came out. They were not death threats then, and still aren’t now. His big breakthrough is that the privacy commissioner did not consider some other non-death threats? So? Is 20 rude emails that different from 11? Check my index for “death threats”, I’ve already written about these exact emails. This only shows how desperate they are. At the time they made the claims about deaths threats so assertively and repetitively, there was nothing to base it on. How exactly are rude emails, made to people outside the ANU, a good reason to shift ANU scientists to new offices? – Jo"

In the real world, writing "Just do your science or you will end up collateral damage in the war, GET IT" is certainly a death threat, as is showing someone a hangman's noose. Minimizing and denying these things is Heartland-level ugly.

AddedStephan Lewandowsky:
"What will become of climate denial?

"Much is known about what passes for cognition among those who deny overwhelming scientific evidence by resorting to conspiracy theories and scurrilous accusations against actual scientists.

"The overwhelming tenor of this psychological knowledge is that, by definition, such denial will remain impervious to evidence as it is based on ideology and frantic defence of worldviews rather than the rational scepticism of actual science.

"As the evidence for climate change continues to pile up, and as the frequency of severe weather events continues to skyrocket, we can therefore be fairly certain that climate denial will take ever more scurrilous forms.

"That much is certain, but given that even the conservative American commentator Andrew Sullivan has described the current American Right as “close to insane as well as depraved” over the Heartland billboard, exact predictions of this forthcoming maelstrom must elude rational grasp at the moment."

Monday, May 07, 2012

Does Peter Gleick Get Credit for Heartland's Self-Destruction?

Is the Heartland Institute imploding -- and if it is, does Peter Gleick get the credit?

Climatewire reports (via Keith Kloor) that
"The Heartland Institute's failed billboard campaign attacking the existence of climate change is driving a surge of corporate donors to abandon the group and prompting a mutiny among its Washington-based staff, which is decamping for less volatile surroundings, according to sources.

"At the center of the retreat is a contingent of insurance companies and trade groups that donated more than $1 million over the last two years to the libertarian group's Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate in Washington, D.C., for programs related to federal insurance reform.

"The center's efforts, which are often entwined with environmental policies, were damaged beyond repair by the increasingly strident campaign against climate change science coming from Heartland's Chicago headquarters, according to industry sources."
It's hard not to think that the now-notorious billboards weren't put up by the Heartland Institute in part due to an excess of confidence in the wake of the Peter Gleick affair. They thought they were dealt a strong hand, but seriously overplayed it. Then Joe Bast's refusal to apologize compounded the error:
"We know that our billboard angered and disappointed many of Heartland’s friends and supporters, but we hope they understand what we were trying to do with this experiment. We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate."
If they go bust, Gleick, in a back-handed way, may deserve some of the credit. Maybe he was playing the long game the entire time (but I doubt it).

Added: The Heartland Institute ran this just the week before. Looks like someone didn't get the memo....

Crazy Parents Opposed to Teaching Climate Science

This clip from PBS Newshour, about the challenges teachers face teaching about climate change, includes a mother who says (1:12), "My biggest concern is that my kids are going to come home from high school and say, the world is warming up, we're too industrialized, we have too many people, and human nature is polluting the world."

Her biggest fear is that someone says that, not that it might be true.

The poor teacher then recounts how she faced upset parents who said that peer-reviewed science is "the Kool-Aid of the left wing liberal consipracy."

Such terrible ignorance. Perhaps those parents should be left to live without all the items they use every day that resulted from "peer-reviewed science" -- as a start they could lose anything to do with thermodynamics (internal combustion engines, refrigerator, air conditioning), anything with an integrated chip (computers -- and hence all digital communication: cable TV, Internet, cell phones), pharmaceuticals (based on chemistry), anything with a laser (DVD players, supermarket checkout scanners, cataract removal), radio, electricity, anything obtained by a satellite (weather forecasts, GPS, phone calls), vaccinations, and antibiotics.

Just for a start. Then let's talk again about Kool-aid.

The Director who speaks (5:10) about teaching science from fundamental principles has it right -- teaching about climate change is an ideal opportunity to dig into how scientific truth is established, including what the data implies, what it doesn't imply, how its collected, and its limitations. The topic is relevant, topical, easy to relate to and relatively easy to understand, and has hoards of data freely available that students can easily access and analyze in relatively simple ways. The topic is tailor-made for teaching science. If only the crazy parents would let them.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Getting Hit by the LHC Beam

This post has a video asking what would happen if you were hit by the beam of the Large Hadron Collider. It wouldn't be good, and as this commenter noted, there is the example of someone who was hit by a beam, albeit of much lower energy: Russian scientist Anatoli Bugorski.

In 1978 Bugorski was struck in the head by the U-70 synchrotron. It didn't kill him, but it did mess him up pretty good:
"The left half of Bugorski's face swelled up beyond recognition, and over the next several days, started peeling off, revealing the path that the proton beam (moving near the speed of light) had burned through parts of his face, his bone, and the brain tissue underneath. As it was believed that he had received far in excess of the radiation dose that would normally kill a person, Bugorski was taken to a clinic in Moscow where the doctors could observe his expected demise. However, Bugorski survived and even completed his Ph.D. There was virtually no damage to his intellectual capacity, but the fatigue of mental work increased markedly. Bugorski completely lost hearing in the left ear and only a constant, unpleasant internal noise remained. The left half of his face was paralyzed, due to the destruction of nerves. He was able to function well, except for the fact that he had occasional complex partial seizures and rare tonic-clonic seizures."
That synchrotron was a child compared to the LHC: its maximum proton energy was 76 GeV, with 17 trillion protons per pulse and a pulse repetition frequency of 0.11 Hz.

Put that all together, and the beam has 23 kilowatts of power.

But the LHC is much larger beast: 8 TeV protons with 110 billion proton per bunch and 2808 bunches circulating in the 27-km circumference ring. That means, if I did the math correctly, the beam contains 396 megajoules and a power of 4.4 trillion watts.

That would definitely sting. As CERN notes (pg 57), the energy in the beam is about the same as a  high-speed French train of 400 tonnes traveling at 150 km/hr, or enough to melt 500 kg of copper.

Sure, it's concentrated in a tiny beam of a few millimeters wide (constricted to 16 microns at the collision points (pg 34), 1/3rd the thickness of a human hair), so perhaps it just burns a small hole in your hand. (Any scattering of the protons in the beam off the protons and neutrons in your hand would, I would think, be at very small angles due to their immense energy -- that's what happened to Bugorski with much less energetic protons.) But the beam is essentially continuous, so when you pull your hand (or head) away from it you will be irradiated during all the time it takes you to do that, which would burn your hand or head over the entire path. But if it shredded (say) your hand, might you still live? I don't know.

Note that the beam that struck Bugorski was (if I understand it correctly) more of a one-shot deal: the synchroton has a pulse frequency of only 0.11 Hz, so there were 9 seconds between pulses -- plenty of time for him to pull (or collapse) out of the way of the next bunch.

The effect of the Moon
One thing I didn't realize is that gravity has to be taken in account when analyzing LHC collisions -- specifically, the effect of lunar tides on the surrounding landform:
"The phenomenon of tides in the ocean due to the influence of the Moon (and to a lesser extent that of the Sun) is well known. They cause the level of water on the edge of the sea to rise and fall with a cycle of some 12 hours. The ground is also subject to the effect of lunar attraction because the rocks that make it up are elastic. At the new Moon and when the Moon is full, the Earth’s crust rises by some 25 cm in the Geneva area under the effect of these ‘ground tides’. This movement causes a variation of 1 mm in the circumference of the LHC (for a total circumference of 26.6 km) and this produces changes in beam energy. Thus, physicists must take the Moon into account in their measurements." (pg 31)
And all physics students are taught that you can ignore gravity in microscopic physics since (say) the gravitational force between two electrons is about 10-43 times smaller than the electromagnetic force (and smaller still for particles subject to the strong force). Not the full story!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Interesting New Stuff

A few interesting items from this week's batch of new AGU journal papers:
  • Evidence that anthropogenic global warming driven by greenhouse gases is likely responsible for the weakening of the East Asia summer monsoon.
  • Brazil's carbon emissions from land use change are about 11 times larger than its emissions from fossil fuel burning, but they are losing land due to agricultural expansion at about the global average rate. Carbon emissons from these changes in Brazil reached at high as 0.47 gigatonnes of carbon per year. [By comparison, total worldwide emissions from fossil fuels are now about 8 GtC/yr.] Three-fourths of these land use emissions came from land other than the Amazon rainforest. And they calculate that current carbon stored in remaining native vegetation of Brazil is not greater than 91.8 ± 27.5 GtC.
  • A new forecasting system may have foreseen the 2011 heat wave in the central U.S.
Also, Jeff McMasters writes about an "unprecedented" April heat wave in eastern and central Europe. Moscow reached 28.6°C (84°F) on Sunday April 29th, "the hottest April reading in the city since record keeping began 130 years ago."

And, what would happen if you put your hand in the CERN Large Hadron Collider?

Threats in Australia - More to the Story

Australian journalist Graham Readfern writes that the recent report from the Australian Privacy Commissioner covers only a subset of the threats received by climate scientists:
Climate sceptic commentators and bloggers have taken this decision to mean that climate scientists have not received death threats and, on the face of it, that might seem like a fair conclusion.

Except they’ve ignored two key facts which undermine their conclusion.

The first, is that the FOI request only asked for correspondence covering a six month period from January to June 2011. What’s more, the request only asked for correspondence regarding six ANU academics. The report from the Privacy Commissioner made this clear.

Secondly, the original investigation which sparked the FOI request, published in The Canberra Times, found more than 30 climate scientists had received threats or abuse of one kind or another at universities across Australia and that this campaign had been going on for years. It wasn’t news to some of us. None of the emails I published on my blog were from scientists at ANU.
Readfern gives excerpts from some of the emails he's seen, which are brutal and whose intent is unmistakable:

Readfern has more threats here.

Yet people like Anthony WattsJo Nova and their minions have exploited the Privacy Commissioner's report and used it only as another opportunity to distort and deny the dangerous situation, and to insult, harass and intimidate even those who call attention to this ugliness -- going so far as to pretend these threats don't exist even though one has been captured on video.

Readfern concludes:
"In my view, the campaign of abuse is designed to intimidate climate scientists, discourage them from engaging with the public and discourage them from carrying out their research. Failing to condemn it shows just how low the climate change debate has become."

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Heartland Institute Bounces Off the Bottom

It seems there is a bottom:
From Joe Bast via email:
We will stop running it at 4:00 p.m. CST today. (It’s a digital billboard, so a simple phone call is all it takes.)
Keith Kloor, earlier: "The thing about the climate wars is that each side can always count on their opponent to shoot itself in the foot."

Charles Pierce at Esquire makes the best point:  “This is not the ‘mainstream.’ Both sides do not do this. There is no ‘other side’ to this argument.”

Curry: "Heartland has unambigously seized the moral low ground"

Judith Curry on the Heartland Institute billboards:
"On a previous Gleick post, Why Target Heartland?, I provided an argument for why I thought Gleick wasted his bullet. This latest billboard escapade reinforces my original impression, since the billboard escapade will discredit the organization much more than anything Gleick did.

"After the Gleick episode, it seemed that Heartland had temporarily seized the moral high ground in the climate ‘wars’.  The billboards and the blog post are on an intellectual and moral par with Joe Romm’s article Norway Terrorist is a Global Warming Denier, although Romm didn’t post his on a billboard. Heartland has unambigously seized the moral low ground with this stunt.

"For better or worse, such episodes arguably have little impact on the larger scientific and policy debates. It will be interesting to see how the list of speakers at the forthcoming Heartland Conference reacts to this."

Now Anthony Watts Is Calling Me!

Anthony Watts left me a saccharin voice mail complaining that I published his email address on my blog.

Hey, if you send me an abusive unsolicited email, it's my perogative what I do with it.

Besides, his email address is a matter of public records.

Perhaps he should pay more attention to his science than to harassing people. And leave me alone.

Protesting the Heartland Institute's Shocking Billboards

If you want to protest the atrocious billboards of the Heartless Heartland Institute, one way to do so is by writing their funders. Scott Mandia has links to the contact pages of many of these corporations, which include Bayer, Comcast, Nationwide Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Time Warner Cable, Pepisco, and Verizon.

Some companies have issued recent statements about their donations to the Heartland Institute, but as far as I know none have ceased their financial support. But their new "campaign" paints them in a whole new light, and it's worth letting these companies know it.

Heartland Institute Takes the Low Road

Wow. The Heartland Institute just veered onto a very low and dark road:

Other billboards have pictures of Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. The HI writes:
"Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).

"These rogues and villains were chosen because they made public statements about how man-made global warming is a crisis and how mankind must take immediate and drastic actions to stop it."
Then this:
Because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the “mainstream” media, and liberal politicians say about global warming.
This is truly contemptible. And extremely poor strategy -- whatever the Heartland Institute thinks they're doing, this kind of hateful approach can not possibly win anything in the end. I don't even see how it can win anything in the moment -- it repels people.

These kind of tactics are very troubling. As we've seen even here, these people seem to believe insults and hatred can change people's minds about the science. And now they travel in packs, unleashed by Watts and Morano and the like, and go around snarling at whomever speaks of things they don't like, trying to intimidate everyone into silence.

I will be surprised if at least some of the speakers at the upcoming Heartland Conference don't cancel based on these billboards. Indeed, not to will be to give tacit approval to these tactics.