Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"Physics is Not a Religion"

"Physics is not a religion. It it were, we'd have a much easier time raising money."

-- Leon Lederman

Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkeys Acting Weird

When I was searching for "turkeys" yesterday I came across this page. It sure looks weird:

This clip purports to answer the question of why turkeys do this, but I don't find it very convincing, let alone scientific.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Quite a Day for Schadenfreude

Days like this don't come along often, so enjoy them when they do.

1) Joe Barton, epic harasser of scientists Mann, Bradley and Hughes for their hockey stick, was caught sending a public dick pic to a woman on Twitter. Here's the picture, if you really have to see it. Always nice to see the sanctimonious suffer, especially by their own hand.

Barton says he's still trying to decide if he's going to resign.

Update 11/24 4:42 pm PST - Barton says he's a victim of "revenge porn" -- he says he sent his dick pic to someone, who released it, or aided its release, onto the Internet. That wasn't a very smart thing to do.... And, of course, Barton had no problem invading the privacy of Mann, Bradley and Hughes by expecting them to release all kinds of information pertaining to their research -- a clear fishing expedition. So I still find it hard to feel sorry for him. 

2) OMICS Publishing, publisher of that ridiculous paper by Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller claiming that surface temperatures are solely determined by surface pressures -- a paper that contained no physics whatsoever, but merely fits a curve with five free parameters to five data points -- received an injunction from a US court issued for deceptive business practices. Via Retraction Watch via Eli Rabbett.

Man, that's gotta sting....


Do forgive me. Tomorrow.

Monday, November 13, 2017

3rd Quarter Ocean Heat Content Drops

NOAA has released the 3rd quarter ocean heat content data (thanks JHC) -- the best measure of the planet's energy imbalance -- and there has been a lot of cooling, at least in the top half of the ocean, compared to three months ago.

where ZJ = zettajoule = 1021.

Clearly this means AGW is over. Perhaps this is why UAH and RSS both showed a record high for the lower troposphere for both September and October, and, for RSS, August as well. (UAH LT had the third warmest August.)

Here are the graphs.

(The graphs with error bars look...weird.)

Finally, the acceleration of the top half of the ocean (0-2000 m) is dropping, but still positive: 0.038 ± 0.019 W/m2/year. But my uncertainty doesn't include autocorrelation, which clearly the ocean has in abundance. Maybe I'll work on that later.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Zombie iPhone

So this is strange. My iPhone 5c failed about three weeks ago -- it wouldn't boot up, just, when I tried to recharge it, would only show the Apple logo, then fail and try to power cycle again, endlessly. My battery was 3 years old and failing fast, so I took it to Batteries & Bulbs, but a new battery did not work -- they said my phone was broken. What do I know. So I went to Sprint and bought an iPhone 7, which is more or less the same, but the camera is noticeably better. And it has this strange "taptic engine" -- you feel clicks and scrolls in the hand that's holding the phone -- which I don't like and could do without. (The iPhone 8 has it too. Don't know about the X.)

I didn't want to donate my old phone anywhere, since all my data are still in it, so tonight I took the plunge (...) and flooded it in a container of water.

Immediately the flashlight turned on, and it's been on now for about an hour, while completely underwater. I didn't hit any buttons, certainly not the power button, when I submerged it. It just turned on and has stayed on.

Can anyone explain that?

PS: I hope to get back to blogging about climate soon. Though my interests are necessarily expanding -- too many other people writing about climate these days.

Update: Two hours later, and the light is no more.

The Bloop

This is interesting -- the loudest noise ever recorded -- from The Atlantic:

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Country-by-Country CO2 Emissions

With #COP23 here, some deniers are trying to play number games with carbon emissions, claiming that US isn't the problem in the world because it has reduced CO2 more than anyone else.

First, let's note that by trying to diminish the US role regarding CO2, they're implicitly admitting that CO2 matters. I suspect they know that, but have to then  dismiss it (viz. lie) for the sake of their audience.

The fact is, the US has emitted more CO2 than any other nation, by a factor of over two. And that emitted CO2 is just as much of a factor as are today's emissions -- in fact, they're more, since CO2's forcing changes slower than linearly with concentration. For example, the atmosphere now has 45% more CO2 (406 ppm on an annualized basis, as of October) than in pre-industrial times (280 ppm), but CO2's radiative forcing is 54% of its value when doubled.

Here are the data, from WRI's CAIT database (which seems to be offline at the moment). Through 2014:

As you can see, the US has emitted over twice as much CO2 as has China, and almost nine times more than India.

And you can barely detect any US reductions, there near the end of its line.

Here's another way of looking at it: the top 10 cumulative emitters, and how they compare to the US:

And I'm not even talking about per capita emissions here, which is the fair way to talk about emissions. (Some people seem to think that only country emissions matter, as if an American citizen has an inherent right to emit more CO2 than an individual Chinese citizen. That's just not ethical thinking.)

This can be broken down even further, per capita, which Damon Matthews et al did a few years ago:

By my estimation, China's cumulative emissions by 2014 were 1.9 times its cumulative emissions of 2005; the US's were 1.16. I haven't worked out the updated numbers for this chart, but there's no way China's per capita cumulative emissions today are anywhere near the US's.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Guns and Mass Shootings

Yesterday, for the first time, I donated to a gun control group, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a group of 48 good organizations with a common goal I support.

And I will donate again, in a few months. We can whine and whinge all we want, and we do (me included), but the only thing that's going to stop these shootings is making craven, corrupt politicians more afraid of the gun control crowd than of the NRA.

At the very least, assault rifles have to be banned (again). With harsh penalties for anyone who owns one or sells one -- years in prison. These weapons are designed only to kill as many people as quickly as possible, and no citizen needs one or deserves one. Even the Second Amendment, like all rights, must have its limitations.

Ultimately the Second Amendment must be repealed, as Bret Stephens wrote about last month in the New York Times. It had a purpose at one time in this country's history, but that purpose is now long gone, and the judicial branch has badly misinterpreted it. And completely ignored the phrase "self-regulated."

Here's something I learned recently: while the term "militia" appears in the 2nd amendment (with the most disastrous comma splice in history)
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
the word "militia" also appears in several other places in the Constitution, and its use there makes it clear that the "militia" has a purpose, and its use clearly does not mean all citizens of the US. For example:

Under Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power To...

15. ...provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16: ...provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Under Section 2:
1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States....

Clearly "militia" means an 'organized, armed and disciplined' organization, and not just anyone.

The ownership and use of extreme firepower has unfortunately become a fetish, one of the ways some people make a statement about who they are, who they aren't, and who their people are. They're part of a tribe with certain attributes -- gun ownership of no matter what kind, climate denying, economically shut out and angry. Of course, I'm part of a (different) tribe, but I feel for their plight -- I grew up among them, in the mountains of rural Pennsylvania. Back then everyone on our ridge was a Democrat who belonged to a union. Then the steel industry collapsed. My dad, who had worked in a steel mill since his early 20s, moved our family 50 miles away to a different steel mill, and then 2000 miles to Albuquerque to yet another steel mill. My uncle lost a well-paying job in a mill near Pittsburgh, and became a bartender. Eventually everyone divorced.

But last November, 64% of Westmoreland County voted for Trump.

Unfortunately I don't see America solving its gun problem. The gun crowd is too useful to the GOP, whose votes that party wants but who then screw them over ever chance they get. But they got their guns! And we are too violent of a country -- led by the militarism and violence of our own government, home and abroad -- and too inured to that violence. Our educational system is failing to educate many, and entire classes of people are being left behind economically, with no one being seriously interested in addressing the problem. And the GOP's tax machinations will only make this worse.) Most of our politicians are cowards -- including Hillary, who bone-headedly called them "deplorable" -- and even they must know "thoughts and prayers" sounds ridiculous at this point. But everyone lies and is afraid to say what they're really thinking, because they might lose power or lose the next Supreme Court seat.

The US is in a long-term decline, and we all know it.

I'm not sure where exactly it falls from here, but guns will probably have something to do with it. It won't be pretty -- and isn't already.

I've been trying to drop hints to my nephew and niece -- now 13 and 10 -- that their world is changing (though I haven't gotten too much yet into how, or how bad), and that they should prepare themselves -- that in their lifetime they may well find more and better opportunities abroad, and a better, safer, more healthy life, and they should learn all they can about the rest of the world, about everything, and learn a language that will be useful -- perhaps Mandarin.

I'd also like to see the US split up -- really. I don't see why I, living in the blue part of Oregon, should be subject to the backward values (as I see them) of the south, of extreme so-called Christians, of politicians who pass more & more extreme gun rights laws, even in the face of mass shootings, as they did after Newtown. I am not going to live in a society where guns are as ubiquitous as the old West.

I believe that smaller is beautiful -- that we each have more power and influence in much smaller entities -- towns, states, countries -- instead of the huge country we live in now when one's vote feels useless and no federal politician care about our values and hopes and opinions. The only times I've ever felt remotely connected to my government was when I lived in New England, and received phone calls from my representatives in the small states of Vermont and New Hampshire. They really wanted to talk, or at least listen for 10 minutes. One guy in NH, who wasn't even my rep, talked with me for an hour about an email I sent him regarding his position on an arcane matter of where on the Piscataqua River the NH-Maine border lay -- in the middle, or on the northern bank. (I no longer remember my position on the matter.)

So let's split Washington and Oregon in two, bisected by the Cascade Mountains. Those on the left (in both senses) can join with northern Canada, and start the nation of Cascadia. Maybe British Columbia will join us, or maybe we can join them. Maybe I/we can have some hope for our country again.

Wouldn't that be nice.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Anomalies Relative to the Earliest Possible Baseline

A recent Facebook post from Stefan Rahmstorf showed temperature anomalies relative to the earliest period in a temperature record -- I think it was GISS, which starts in 1880. I can't find his link, but found it interesting and remembered it.

Here's how NOAA surface data looks in that scheme:

This makes it clear that we're at or above 1 deg C of global surface warming.

And 1880-1909 isn't really "pre-industrial," which is probably (?) before 1850. Maybe 1750. I think BEST goes back that far. I should probably look at that. Someday.

So why don't the various data groups use this for a baseline? I'm not sure. Perhaps because the data from back then have some relatively large uncertainties -- see HadCRUT 4.6, column 2 is the monthly anomaly, and columns 3 and 4 the upper and lower bounds (sigma or two sigma, I don't remember). These bounds get smaller as time trends to the present. But not exceedingly fast. I need to learn more here -- or maybe someone in the comments can correct me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

And the Award for the Most Diabolical Scheme Goes To....

If they gave an annual award for most diabolical policy maneuver of the year -- something spiky, black and oily, foul-smelling with stink rising off it like dirty steam, this year's prize would surely go to whoever in the EPA came up with this idea.

Scott Pruitt announced yesterday that scientists who get grants from the EPA cannot serve on EPA advisory committees. I doubt Priutt was smart enough to come up with this idea, so the award goes to whatever dark henchman thought of this while he was busily plucking the whiskers out of tiny kitten snouts.

It's diabolical because at first glance -- which is about all that most Americans give anymore, if that -- it seems pretty reasonable. Sure, scientists funded by the EPA shouldn't be advising the EPA, because they're only going they recommend they get more of the funding goodies!

They're biased, right. Therefore it follows (in Trumpville) that those who don't get EPA funding aren't biased, and so they obviously should be the ones serving on EPA advisory committees.

That's for the nonthinking. For the thinking, we realize it's absurd, but how do you make that clear given the diabolical reasoning above?

You could point out that the members of a company's board are often handsomely compensated, yet advise the company, and occasionally make big decisions about its direction.

You could point out that those who don't receive EPA funding -- usually those who work for or are funded by industries and companies -- have their own conflicts of interest. But they're not beholden to the EPA, right? They want to serve out of the good of their hearts.

This decision strikes me as a clever, neat and tidy way to remove all science from the EPA's decisions and give power back to the only people Trump and Pruitt clearly care about -- industry and corporations.

I thought Bush Jr was bad for the environment (and he was; he was bad for practically everything). But It's difficult for me to believe/accept that in 2017 politicians in this country are so brazen, so corrupt, so dismissive of the electorate, so obviously willing to play American citizens for fools -- plays us smart ones easily recognize, but they don't care in the least what we think -- they're openly and obviously and even cheerfully holding their middle fingers right in our faces.

Trump was obviously going to be a big, big problem, but he's turning out to be a far bigger destroyer than anyone imagined. He lied about everything. Everything. He doesn't care about the country at all -- even about his base.

Pruitt's EPA isn't going to significantly alter the world's ability to address climate change (but it could well increase air and water pollution in the US, killing people). The Paris Agreement is a first step only, just as Kyoto was a first step, and as the Copenhagen Agreement was supposed to be a first step. US emissions aren't going to double or anything, and might not increase at all. Maybe the rest of the world can go it without us. China will take the lead. And we'll be stuck with very dumb and corrupt politicians who want to destroy everything for the sake of a few dollars. How do you combat such heathens?

Piling Idea on Idea

“Our riches were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea.”

-- Deirdre N. McCloskey, Bourgeois Equality, University of Chicago Press (2017)

 Bourgeois Equality