Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GISS: Southern Hemisphere is Warmest Ever

One reason last month's GISTEMP was so high is that the Southern Hemisphere was its warmest ever: +0.85°C above the 1951-1980 baseline.

That shattered the previous SH record of +0.79°C in August 1996.

By the way, 81% of the southern hemisphere's surface is ocean, whereas only 61% of the northern hemisphere is. So 57% of the world ocean surface lies in the southern hemisphere.

Only about 11% of the world's population lives in the southern hemisphere, meaning the NH has 8.1 times the population of the SH and 3.9 times the population density. You can see why the Nazis went there to hide.

Article: Climate Change Denial and Support for Geoengineering

I have an article up at the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media:
"Strange Bedfellows? Climate Change Denial and Support for Geoengineering."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

GISS: September Tied for Warmest

GISS measured a September global temperature anomaly of +0.74°C, tied with 2005 for the warmest September, and the 12th-warmest of any month going back to 1895.

17-year warming is 0.16°C. The 30-year change is 0.52°C.

The Polar Portal, and More

Some things I've noticed lately:

EOS has an article about the Polar Portal, a new site designed to give real-time changes in Arctic ice (which includes Greenland). This is a good idea that I hope to see more of; so much data is out there, but too often on obscure FTP sites with inadequate documentation.

David Keith has a book out titled A Case for Climate Engineering. (I've interviewed him for a couple of my articles; Eli Kintisch wrote a nice profile of Keith for a recent issue of Science.)

John von Neumann's dog was named "Inverse."

By 2018, more than 60% of all jobs in the United States will require at least some college education. (M. McNutt, Science, 10/25/13)

I missed this in September: a PNAS paper found that without the enhanced vegetation growth that has accompanied increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, atmospheric CO2 would be approximately 85 ppm higher than it is today. and the planet would have warmed by an additional 0.3°C.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Chelyabinsk Meteor as Seen from Space

A space satellite view of last February's Chelyabinsk meteor as (and after) it enters the Earth's atmosphere, from Miller et al, PNAS, Oct 21 2013:

Another view, downward, from other satellites:

Tony Abbott, Doubly Wrong

The new Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, came to a doubly wrong conclusion when he recently said, “Despite a carbon tax of $37 a ton by 2020, Australia’s domestic emissions were going up, not down. The carbon tax was basically socialism masquerading as environmentalism, and that’s why it’s going to get abolished.”

The socialism, of course, is that given to polluters who pollute for free, paying no damage costs for ruining the Commons now and far into the future while they pocket the profits.

Beyond this, Australia has seen GHG reductions. From this April:
"Australia's greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation have fallen to a 10-year low as coal-fired power slumped to its lowest level in a decade, a new report says..... At the same time, the share of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market (NEM) has soared beyond 12 per cent and looks set to continue rising..... In its latest quarterly emissions outlook, energy and carbon research firm RepuTex found coal power made up 74.8 per cent of the NEM in the three months ended in March - its lowest point in 10 years.... As a result, Australia's CO2 emissions were driven down to a ten-year low, he said."

China's Renewable Energy

Environmentally, China has to run hard just to stay in place:
China’s faltering progress on air quality resembles its record on carbon dioxide. Those emissions have risen by about 8 percent a year since 2007 and increased from nearly 14 percent of global emissions in 2000 to 27 percent in 2011.

This is in spite of China’s enormous investments to decarbonize its energy system. In less than 10 years it has built the world’s largest wind power capacity, with plans to triple it by 2020. Its hydropower capacity, also the largest in the world, is expected to triple from 2005 to 2020, and its nuclear capacity will multiply at least sixfold over that same period. And China is increasing imports and production of natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel.

-- Chris P. Nielsen and Mun S. Ho, "Clearing the Air in China," NY Times 10/25/13, who estimate that a $10/ton tax on carbon dioxide in China would prevent as many as 89,000 premature deaths a year from pollution by 2020 (because it would incent a shift from coal), and improve crop productivity.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What Everyone is Ignoring

Government’s hand has long shaped and subsidized health-care markets, for example, in Medicare and Medicaid (which dominate how medical care is organized and delivered in America, even for care that falls outside their reach), or the requirement that hospitals treat urgent care needs of indigents.

But perhaps the most consequential subsidy is rarely mentioned or even noticed: Government for decades has directly subsidized individuals’ costs of employer-based health care, to the tune of roughly $250 billion every year – sums far greater than the annual costs of the subsidized insurance coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

-- Edward Kleinbard, “The huge health-care subsidy everyone is ignoring,” Washington Post, October 15, 2013

The Price We Pay

Paul Krugman, Why is Obamacare so Complicated?:
So Konczal is right to say that the implementation problems aren’t revealing problems with the idea of social insurance; they’re revealing the price we pay for insisting on keeping insurance companies in the mix, when they serve little useful purpose.

So does this mean that liberals should have insisted on single-payer or nothing? No. Single-payer wasn’t going to happen — partly because of the insurance lobby’s power, partly because voters wouldn’t have gone for a system that took away their existing coverage and replaced it with the unknown. Yes, Obamacare is a somewhat awkward kludge, but if that’s what it took to cover the uninsured, so be it.

And although the botched rollout is infuriating — count me among those who believe that liberals best serve their own cause by admitting that, not trying to cover for the botch — the odds remain high that this will work, and make America a much better place.

Counting on the ACA

WaPo letter to the editor:
E.J. Dionne Jr. rightly urged us all to “Take a deep breath” [op-ed, Oct. 24] in the face of the “staggeringly complex task” of launching the Web site for the Affordable Care Act.

I’ve heard it said that, if all the battleships launched in World War II had waited until they were fully equipped for battle, none would have left port. Anyone who thinks a massive computer program can be launched without major glitches lives in a fantasy world. Every businessman knows that creating new Web sites, even modest ones, entails complex programming whose bugs take time to eliminate. It took years for Social Security and Medicare to run smoothly.

Despite all the political capital Republicans have spent trashing Obamacare, I fear that Republicans will be left with egg on their face once the administration applies its massive resources to getting the system up to speed.

Richard L. McCloud, Reston
I am counting dearly on the ACA. I am a self-employed person who cannot purchase insurance at any price due to pre-existing conditions.

I paid for my own health insurance for several years after I turned freelance, thanks to COBRA. By June 2002 it cost me $292/month, which didn't include prescription coverage.

In 2003 I moved to Ogunquit, Maine for the winter, and my premiums doubled overnight. I couldn't afford that, and dropped the coverage I had.

I haven't had insurance since, except for a few months in Oregon when I qualified for the Oregon Health Plan. Unless you are destitute, which I am not, you can't qualify. I've had the dreaded "pre-existing" conditions since I was 23, and stumbled backward onto my butt when I was playing squash. I broke my tailbone, and eventually had to have it removed surgercially, but it has hurt ever since. And that's just the start of it. I am too complicated to be profitable to any insurance company. Does that mean I'm supposed to go without health insurance for the rest of my life?

If Obamacare fails, I simply don't know what I will do. I have never felt more involved and dependent on a legislative effort than I have for the ACA.

It's not a perfect law. I could get ironed out, if the Republicans gave a shit. But they do not.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Another Big Earthquake off Japan

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 2013-10-25 17:10:16 UPDATED: (M7.3) OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN 37.2 144.7 (2b02a)
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 17:24:27 +0000 (UTC)
From: (USGS ENS)
Reply-To: <>

Globe with Earthquake Location


Preliminary Earthquake Report
Magnitude 7.3
  • 25 Oct 2013 17:10:16 UTC
  • 26 Oct 2013 03:10:17 near epicenter
  • 25 Oct 2013 09:10:16 standard time in your timezone
Location 37.194N 144.663E
Depth 10 km
  • 325 km (201 mi) ESE of Ishinomaki, Japan
  • 326 km (202 mi) E of Namie, Japan
  • 331 km (205 mi) SE of Ofunato, Japan
  • 333 km (206 mi) ESE of Yamoto, Japan
  • 475 km (294 mi) ENE of Tokyo, Japan
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 0.0 km; Vertical 1.9 km
Parameters Nph = 100; Dmin = 551.1 km; Rmss = 1.37 seconds; Gp = 36°
Version = 1
Event ID us c000kn4n ***This event supersedes event AT00mv8id4.

For updates, maps, and technical information, see: Event Page or USGS Earthquake Hazards Program
National Earthquake Information Center
U.S. Geological Survey

" alternative to continuing to struggle"

all the invisible events make the history of that time hard to write. And all the events continued to occur against the most intense resistance of time, material, and human recalcitrance—human fear, in fact, seizing with a desperate grip various imagined props out of the past that were somehow felt to hold the world together. Because of this, there is still and always the risk of utter failure and mad gibbering extinction. There is no alternative to continuing to struggle.

     - Kim Stanley Robinson, last paragraph, 2312

Singer: I Don't Like Saying They're Fraudulent, But...

Fred Singer, in an interview in the San Diego Union Tribune, says he doesn't like to call the IPCC "fraudulent," but they're "fraudulent":
Q: How are policy makers, journalists and the public, who are not scientists, supposed to filter out who’s right and who’s wrong?

Singer: The IPCC has a way of ignoring inconvenient facts. It’s actually fraudulent but we don’t like to use that term, not because we’re scared of being sued but because all it does it get the other side’s back up.
Singer also says "there has been no rise in temperature for some 17 years," which is downright false: HadCRUT4 shows 0.11 ± 0.06 °C of warming over the last 17.0 years (uncertainty is 2σ calculated via OLS). GISS data has it at 0.15 ± 0.06 °C.

Of course, it's also false because it ignores the strong ocean warming over that time.

There's also this bit of obfuscation:
Singer: Well, it depends on where you start. If you start from the last ice age, 18,000 years ago, it certainly is much warmer. If you start 1,000 years ago, from the medieval climate warming, then it’s slightly cooler. If you start from the (Middle) Ice Age or let’s say around 1700 or so, then it is definitely warmer. So it has been warming. The earth is warming, not steadily, but in jumps.
When historians of the year 2200 write the history of climate change, is anyone going to come out worse than Fred Singer?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Federal Spending, and Science

It's never a bad time to post a good graph, this one from this week's Science:

The budget approved last week sets discretionary spending at $986 B, with defense spending $518 B of that, leaving $468 B for civilian programs (which includes spending on science).

One interesting quote from the article:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cuccinelli Losing to a Hockey Stick

A Rasmussen Report polls for the Virginia Governor's race now has Terry McAuliffe up 50-33 over Ken Cuccinelli, the highest margin yet.

I couldn't find a completely up-to-date graph, but here is one from September. By now the blue line is even higher on the right.... Does McAuliffe's trend sorta look like a hockey stick to you? Isn't that ironic....

Virginia RCP VAGOV 96

"You are a creature of the sun"

Kim Stanley Robinson in 2312:
"Most of the sunwalkers [on Mercury] over time try all the various viewing filters, and then make choices to suit themselves. Particular filters or sequences of filters become forms of worship, rituals either personal or shared. It’s very easy to get lost in these rituals; as the sunwalkers stand on their points and watch, it’s not uncommon for devotees to become entranced by something in the sight, some pattern never seen before, something in the pulse and flow that snags the mind; suddenly the sizzle of the fiery cilia becomes audible, a turbulent roaring--that’s your own blood, rushing through your ears, but in those moments it sounds just like the sun burning. And so people stay too long. Some have their retinas burned; some are blinded; others are killed outright, betrayed by an overwhelmed spacesuit. Some are cooked in groups of a dozen or more.

"Do you imagine they must have been fools? Do you think you would never make such a mistake? Don’t you be so sure. Really you have no idea. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. You may think you are inured, that nothing outside the mind can really interest you anymore, as sophisticated and knowledgeable as you are. But you would be wrong. You are a creature of the sun. The beauty and terror of it seen from so close can empty any mind, thrust anyone into a trance. It’s like seeing the face of God, some people say, and it is true that the sun powers all living creatures in the solar system, and in that sense is our god. The sight of it can strike thought clean out of your head. People seek it out precisely for that."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Asian Pollution Causing Computer Failures

Here's how bad the air pollution is in some Chinese and Indian cities: it can occasionally corrode computer circuitry, causing them to fail:
Intel engineers in Oregon are now discovering that rotten air is also taking a toll on electronics in China and India, with sulfur corroding the copper circuitry that provides neural networks for PCs and servers and wrecking the motherboards that run whole systems.

“We got the board and it was pretty obvious. You open the chassis up and you see blackish material on every type of surface,” said Anil Kurella, the Hillsboro material scientist who’s leading Intel’s research effort.
Intel has been looking at the problem for a year, and investigating using some material other than copper for circuitry, but hasn't found an affordable solution yet.

I suppose the problem is self-limiting: at some pollution level no computer can operate, at which point the large power plants that require them can no longer exist, solving the problem by way by self-strangulation. Which sounds like a John Brunner novel.

Heavy smog in China

Incredible pictures of heavy smog in China:

Monday, October 21, 2013

U.S. 2012 CO2 Emissions Down 4% (But Never Enough)

The U.S. Energy Information Agency released its number for last year's energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide from the consumption of fossil fuels: 5.29 gigatons, down 3.8% from 2011.

That's an absolute decrease of 209 megatonnes CO2, from 2011 to 2012.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have declined in five of the last seven years and are the lowest they have been since 1994.

GDP was up 2.8% last year, and energy intensity -- energy use per unit of GDP -- dropped 5.1% in a single year.

The carbon intensity of the US is now 0.34 tonnes CO2 per 2009-dollar, down from 0.88 t CO2/$2009 in 1973, the earliest year I have statistics for.

The EIA writes,
With population growth of about 0.7 percent, per capita output rose by about 2 percent in 2012. The emissions decline was the largest in a year with positive growth in per capita output and the only year to show a decline where per capita output increased 2 percent or more. However, emissions would have increased by about 143 MMTCO2 if the energy and carbon intensities had not decreased at the rates they did.
and gives this chart for 2012:

Unfortunately, no matter what the annual decline, it never seems enough (because it isn't).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Numbers on China's Urbanization

From a letter to the editor titled "China's rapid urbanization" in last week's issue (sub required) of Science:
"Between 1980 and 2012, China's urbanization increased from 19.4 to 52.6%.

"By 2012, 262 million people had migrated to urban areas.

"The number of rural children left behind [by men migrating to cities to look for work] increased from 22 million in 2004 to 58 million in  2010, and the women and aging parents left behind have reached more than 47 million and 40 million, respectively.

"These three groups now account for more than 22% of China’s total rural population

"Of the 16,928 species that are threatened with extinction worldwide, almost 800 are in China; 25% of China’s species are endangered, and 233 vertebrate animal species are facing extinction."

Pitiless in Pink

How cool is this: yesterday the University of Oregon's football game wore pink helmets, socks and cleats in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

U of O 62, Washington State 38.

The Ducks are 7 and 0, and are still ranked #2 in the nation. The lowest number of points they scored in a game this year is 45.

Deniers Dropped from Merchant Networks

August: Credit card companies have decided they will no longer process payments from eight Holocause-denial organizations that were in their merchant networks.

October: The Los Angeles Times has decided it will no longer publish letters from climate change deniers.

So I wonder how this is going to evolve....

Joe Bastardi, a Bad Penny

Like a bad penny, Joe Bastardi keeps turning up, begging for attention.

This time it's on Judith Curry's blog, where Bastardi is reduced to ridiculing others because they aren't...wait for forecasters!

(He also comes across as rather intimidated by PhDs, by, of course, claiming he's not intimidated by PhDs.)

Bastardi runs around on Twitter nipping at the heels of (especially) Michael Mann, complaning others won't debate him. With elementary mistakes like this, and failed predictions like these, can you really blame them for not wanting to waste their time?

If Bastardi wants to be begin to be taken seriously, perhaps he should first focus on being published somewhere other than on Fox News (whose reputation just took another brutal body blow this past week). Or at least getting over his utterly wrong notion that, because CO2 is a "trace gas" -- which he repeats on Curry's blog -- it can't do much of anything to the climate. That doesn't even rise to the level of "amateurish."

Seriously though, how dispiriting is it that someone like this is taken seriously by our media -- any media?

Added: Here is some of Joe's work:

With more patience than I can muster, Skeptical Science dissects Joe's bad physics here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mark Steyn: Wrong on the Science, If Not More

Mark Steyn, who seems rather perturbed at having to defend his own slurs in court, still seems to be ignorant of the science he writes about.

If you're going to insult a climate scientist, wouldn't you at least try to get a bead on their work??

Steyn doesn't. He writes:
...I’m currently being sued in the District of Columbia by Dr. Michael Mann, the eminent global warm-monger, for mocking (in America’s National Review) his increasingly discredited climate-change “hockey stick.”
What planet does Steyn live on? What journals does he read? The hockey stick isn't discredited, at all -- and certainly not "increasingly" so. It seems to me that the Mann et al work has never been more confirmed, what with several confirmations over the years, including the independent mathematics of Tingley and Huybers, the Holocene-wide study of Marcott et al, and the vast PAGES 2k Consortium study in Nature Geosciences, which consisted of over 70 scientists.

I think Steyn's comparison of Mann to Jerry Sandusky was low, hardly accurate, and scurrilous. And most probably defamatory. (Steyn's claim that Mann and Sandusky were "colleagues" because they were employed by the same university isn't worthy of the intellectualism Steyn pretends to represent.)

But if Steyn wants to defend his right to free expression -- a right most of us also value, within its limits -- then he should stand forthright for that value, without repeating obviously false information about Mann's scientific work.

Simply put, it detracts from Steyn's case -- if he can't understand the work for what it is, and place it in its proper context, how can he possibly put his evaluation of Mann in a proper (and truthful) context?

He can't.

And no pretending, no false bravado, is going to change that. All of the abuse heaped on Michael Mann is only because too many people found his result inconvenient, and, having no legitimate scientific comeback, choose to demonize him instead.

It had been done before (Ben Santer), and it will be done again. (Indeed, Marc Morano has made an industry of it.)

But if Steyn thinks his right to insult Mann was proper and legal, then he should defend his right on its own terms and principles. Pretending Mann's science is bad detracts from Steyn's case -- and, I suspect, not only for those who do understand the science.

When Elephants Fight....

Current headline on the Huffington Post

"When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."

-- African proverb

New Steven Weinberg Essay

Steven Weinberg, whose essays in the New York Review of Books are always excellent, has another one, in the current issue: "Physics: What We Do and Don’t Know."

(Because there's more to life than climate change, you know.)

EPA Sued to Stop PacNW Ocean Acidification

The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the EPA -- again -- for failing to halt ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest.

CBD is a private, membership environmental organization (625,000 members) based in Tucson. They sued the EPA for the same thing back in 2009, and the EPA agreed with them and said it could address ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act.

But the EPA hasn't done much since, so CBD is going in again.

Why the Pacific Northwest? The CBD writes:
Since about 2005, shellfish hatcheries in Washington and Oregon have experienced massive die-offs of oyster larvae with losses of up to 80 percent of production. Oysters are failing to reproduce in Willapa Bay, Wash., and, elsewhere, corals are growing more sluggishly, while some plankton have thin, weak shells.
But why is this problem particularly bad off the coast of the Pacific Northwest? Mostly because of upwelling deeper water, as surface water gets pushed from shore. Chemical and Engineering News wrote recently:
In the Pacific Northwest, the problem of ocean acidification is especially bad for several reasons. One reason is that prevailing winds push surface waters away from the coast, causing a local upwelling of carbon-rich water from the deeper ocean to the surface. This upwelled water is naturally rich in nutrients, is high in CO2, and has low pH. But now, the upwelled waters are also carrying an ever-growing load of human-generated CO2 picked up from the atmosphere 30 to 50 years ago when the water was last in contact with the atmosphere. As a result, deep water today is more corrosive than ever to shell-building organisms such as oysters, clams, scallops, mussels, crabs, abalone, and pteropods (small sea snails eaten by fish and other marine life).

A separate acidification process is under way in the vast expanse of Puget Sound, just as in other estuaries along the world’s coastlines. Runoff from farms, storm sewers, and urban pollution flushes organic carbon and other nutrients into estuaries that are nurseries to growing shellfish. These nutrients fuel blooms of marine algae, which then die, fall to the bottom, and during decomposition result in more CO2 being released to the water. In the air, emissions of nitrogen and sulfur oxides from factories, cars, and power plants are yet another source of nutrients that cause blooms that lead to more acidic waters.

The chemical soup resulting from all of these acidification processes has made both Puget Sound and the Washington coastal area among the most acidic water­ways on the planet, according to Jan Newton, senior principal oceanographer at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory.
The Seattle Times had a nice multimedia presentation on OA last month, that looks at the whole food chain in the ocean.

Of course, there's only so much the EPA can do to curtail ocean acidification, since it can only regulate US emissions (which, let's face it, aren't going to zero anytime soon). So the CBD's lawsuit seems more to bring attention to the problem than anything else.

A press release sent out yesterday by Oregon State University was pretty blunt about it all: Study concludes climate change will wreak havoc on oceans by 2100
A new study looking at the impacts of climate change on the world’s ocean systems concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity – and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors.
Humans can -- will -- adapt to climate change, one way or the other, for better or worse. But how is the ocean and its creatures supposed to adapt to acidification?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Arctic Ice Refreeze Much Lower Than Last Year

33 days after their respective minima, the gain in Arctic sea ice is a full 20% behind last year's increase.

Is this the start of a new, rapid melting phase??

Hat tip: Hotwhopper, and watts-his-name?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Supercollider That Never Was

Image of a tunnel dug for the Superconducting Super ColliderI have an article up at Scientific American: "The Supercollider That Never Was," about problems that led to the demise of the Superconducting Supercollider project on the 20th anniversary of its cancellation.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Debate is Not About Scientific Facts

Sean Carroll has a post about what a recent study shows is driving the Republican extremists -- mostly, they're afraid of change. especially when it involves minorities (who are, of course, starting to become the new majority).

Basically, they resent that this no longer the 1950s.

He writes, about the major points of the study:
The scariest part of the report is that last bullet point, that “climate is next.” The Republican civil war is already bringing the US to the brink of financial disaster. It could end up causing the entire planet immeasurable harm. Scientists need to realize that the climate change debate, like the creationism-in-schools debate from a while a back, is actually not about scientific facts. It’s about culture, and that’s a much more difficult problem to address.
So what then are those concerned about climate change supposed to do, if facts have little effect and more of them will have less?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Various Interesting Things

Various things:
  • Sometimes they make it so easy. Joe the Plumber:
    "Wanting a white Republican president doesn’t make you racist, it just makes you American," Wurzelbacher wrote on his website Oct. 10. (Link)
  • This is insane, and should be considered criminal: Global wealth inequality: top 1% own 41%; top 10% own 86%; bottom half own just 1%. Someday it will be. 
  • The coastal exodus begins (as it should):
    Sharp increases in federal flood insurance rates are distressing coastal homeowners from Hawaii to New England and are starting to hurt property values and housing sales in areas just beginning to recover from the recession, according to residents and legislators.
    Oh sure, the affluent love their government subsidies (read the whole article).... Look, this will be going on for the next thousand years or so. You can't fight physics, and you can't tell it where to put its coastlines.... There is not going to be a trustworthy coastline for the next several centuries. Just imagine how society's psychology is going to be affected for the next N-hundred years as the seas keep rising and inundating coastal cities across the planet. You think Venice has troubles? You ain't seen a thing yet.... There will, in the not so far future, be drowned cities everywhere, half-submerged, sad pathetic places ruined by ignorance and greed, and trying to figure out what to do -- import gondolas, or move to the mountains?

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Clean tech came too late to save Earth"

Kim Stanley Robinson's book 2312 has humans (and all their advanced variations) zipping around the solar system, living nearly everywhere. But they have an expression: "All trouble comes from Earth."

Towards the middle of the book he has this transition:
 But clean tech came too late to save Earth from the catastrophes of the early Anthropocene. It was one of the ironies of their time that they could radically change the surfaces of the other planets, but not Earth. The methods they employed in space were almost too crude and violent. Only with the utmost caution could they tinker with anything on Earth, because everything there was so tightly balanced and interwoven. Anything done for good somewhere usually caused ill somewhere else.

This caution about terraforming Earth expressed itself in clots and gouts of sometimes military bickering. Political crosschop led to legal gridlock. Big geoengineering projects were all assumed to contain within them an accident like the Little Ice Age of the 2140’s, which was generally said to have caused the death of a billion people. Nothing now could overcome that fear.

Also, for many of Earth’s problems, there was simply nothing to be done. The heating and subsequent expansion of the ocean’s water – also its acidification – nothing could be done about these. There was no terraforming technique that would help. Some water had been pumped onto the dry basins of North Africa and central Asia, but the capacity was not there to hold very much of the ocean’s excess volume. Maintaining the one healthy ice cap remaining to them, high on East Antarctica, was a priority that meant no one was comfortable pumping salt water up there to freeze, as had sometimes been proposed, because if something went wrong and they lost the whole ice cap, it would raise sea level another fifty meters and deal humanity something very like a death blow. So caution was in order, and ultimately it had to be admitted, the new sea level could not be substantially altered. And it was much the same with many of their other problems. The many delicate physical, biological, and legal situations were so tightly knitted together that none of the cosmic engineering they were doing elsewhere in the solar system could be fitted to the needs of the place.

Despite this people tried things. So much more power than ever before was at their command that some felt they could at last begin to overturn Jevons Paradox, which states that the better human technology gets, the more harm we do with it. That painful paradox has never yet failed to manifest itself in human history, but perhaps now was the tipping point – Archimedes’ lever brought to bear at last – the moment when they could get something out of their growing powers besides redoubled destruction.

But no one could be sure. They still hung suspended between catastrophe and paradise, spinning bluely in space like some terrible telenovela. Scheherazade was Earth’s muse, it seemed; it was just one damn thing after another, always one more cliffhanger, clinging to life and sanity by the skin of one’s teeth; and so the spacers kept on coming home, home to home’s nightmares, with the Gordian knot tied in their guts.
Via The Brissioni Blog

Wanted: Climate-change Denier with a Lot of Money

From National Geographic's article "Rising Seas":
In a state exposed to hurricanes as well as rising seas, people like John Van Leer, an oceanographer at the University of Miami, worry that one day they will no longer be able to insure—or sell—their houses. “If buyers can’t insure it, they can’t get a mortgage on it. And if they can’t get a mortgage, you can only sell to cash buyers,” Van Leer says. “What I’m looking for is a climate-change denier with a lot of money.”
There should be opportunities for climate scoffers to clean up on cheap real estate, if they have the courage of their convictions.