Monday, December 31, 2018

Who's Burning the Fossil Fuels?

Here's an admirable case of bookkeeping: "Global Carbon Budget 2018" in the journal Earth System Science Data by Le Quéré and about 80 other co-authors. They crunch a lot of numbers to present the trends in where carbon is coming from and where carbon is going. It's open access, so I'm only going to highlight a few things I found interesting about their Figure 5 on emissions:

Some things I noticed:
  • It's hard to see much hope that global emissions are coming to a peak, though the trend is lower this decade.
  • The US is still the carbon hog of the world. (It's not even close.)
  • Coal is still the predominant source of carbon, and its peak may be reversing.
  • China's per capita emissions seem to be flat throughout much of the 2010s. (Can that be right??)
  • About 10% of China's emissions are for products consumed in other countries.
  • Current per capita emissions for the globe is about 1.2 t/yr -- so the US emits as if it were an average country of 900 million people.
  • US per capita emissions peaked around 1975, and EU28's (the full European Union) around 1980. But US emissions rose again and almost reached a new peak around 2000, whereas the EU's have been on a steady decline since peaking. The decline for both is about 30%. Some fossil fuel advocates snicker than the US has decreased its carbon emissions more than any other country so we deserve a gold star on our forehead, but that's only because we started out with much higher emissions in the first place. Percentage wise it's the same between the US and EU. And it's a dumb argument anyway because we still emit far more per capita than anyone else, as if (they seem to think) Americans have some god-given right to do so.
  • It would be interesting to see the numbers for EU15. (Here's an explainer on the different EU subsets (at the moment!))
  • per capita emissions for the globe have stayed remarkably close to flat for 60 years. It's almost as if the increases from China and India have been offset by the US and EU and everyone else has stayed flat/impoverished.

See anything else?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Why I Get so Few Comments

Recently I realized why I don't get many comments on this blog -- I don't blog about open-ended issues.

I certainly appreciate the comments I do get. But here I tend to present graphs, papers, findings, which have little wiggle room. (And, I don't present them as if there's much wiggle room.) But blogs like And Then There's Physics and Stoat do more opinionated posts that leave lots of room for discussion and disagreements or other points of view. I'm not very good at that.

I'll admit, I'm not really a deep thinker and am more interested in the math and the data and the minutiae. That's just who I am. I find numbers more attractive than words or, even in some sense, ideas. Numbers make much more sense to me than words, even as a writer -- I can't diagram a sentence to save my life, barely know what an adverb is, let alone a preposition, and couldn't even do that when I was in 10th grade. I took a college summer class in linguistics after my junior year to fulfill an elective, and none of it made any sense to me at all, and I got a "C" that ruined the 4.0 grade point average I'd had up until then. I wish I was more versatile in big, deep picture thinking, but I've never really been so, even, I think now, when I was doing research in graduate school. Not happy to admit that.

It was probably a good thing that I didn't stay in physics -- though I might possibly perhaps have made it somewhere at a very small college teaching physics to pre-med majors -- but neither does science writing have a big calling for number geeks -- we're too slow, if nothing else, trying to figure out the units. I guess I'm not really fit for much of anything.

Arctic Warming, 1958 vs 2018

Here's a nice comparison of Arctic warming -- north of 80 deg north latitude -- comparing 1958's average temperature to 2018's. (Source.) The warming is obvious, and stark.

PS: The summers aren't warming because when the temperature gets above 0°C, the extra energy goes first into melting ice, and only after in raising the air temperature. (Recall the phase diagram for water.)

Angry Sea

"Two hours from his office, her car crests the cliff road and the church steeple juts into view. The rest of town follows, hunched in rucked hills sloping to the water. Smoke coils from the pub chimney. Fishing nets pile on the shore. In Newville you can watch the sea eat the ground, over and over, unstopping. Millions of abyssal thalassic acres. The sea does not ask permission or wait for instruction. It doesn’t suffer from not knowing what on earth, exactly, it is meant to do. Today its walls are high, white lather torn. 'Angry sea,' people say, but to the biographer the ascribing of human feeling to a body so inhumanly itself is wrong. The water heaves up for reasons they don’t have names for."

― Leni Zumas, Red Clocks

Monday, December 17, 2018

Four Minutes of Required Listening

Greta Thunberg of Sweden, 15-years old.

Latest Temperature Numbers

The Japanese Meteorological Association found the average global surface temperature for Nov 2018 to be the second-warmest November in their record, which goes back to 1891. 2018 is almost certainly going to come in as their 4th warmest year.

NASA GISS found Nov 2018 to be the 5th-warmest in their record (which starts in 1880), and 2018 will also be their 4th warmest year unless there's an humongous asteroid strike almost immediately.

GISS will also have the 4th-warmest year in the northern hempisphere, the 3rd-warmest in the southern hemisphere, and the 3rd-warmest land-only temperature. (This are all essentially guaranteed at this point, bounded both below and above.)

GISS's land-only annual average surface temperature is going to be at or greater than 1.0°C, which would make the third year in a row. The land is warming rapidly -- the 15-yr trend is +0.26°C/dec, and 30-yr trend is +0.24°C/dec.

We're approaching 1/2°F land-warming every decade. I don't think Americans really get that. If you're an American not well-versed in Celsius-thinking (and I'm not, completely; I mean I can do the conversions, but I don't have an intuitive feel for X°C; I have to think about it for a couple of seconds*), if you hear the IPCC or a climate scientist talk about a (say) 2°C warming, you should multiply that by 3 to get the land-only warming in Fahrenheit**.

*my basic scale is 10°C is a cool day, 20°C is a nice day, and 30°C is a hot day.

**First multiple the global average by 1.5 to get the land-only average warming, then by 9/5 to get the number in Fahrenheit. (1.5)(9/5)=27/10 = almost 3.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Banks Cash-on-Hand Spiked in Anticipation of Y2K Problems

This is interesting. Here's the amount of cash US banks keep/kept in their vaults, total nationwide, available for withdrawal. Note the amount spiked just prior to 1/1/2000, as people deposited extra cash in case there were Y2K problems:

Note: Y2K was an issue. There were few problems not because it was hyped or overestimated, but because business spent about $100 billion to fix potential software problems beforehand. It's really a great success story, but some people insist on saying it was all a hoax or unnecessary alarmism. Instead it was healthy alarmism, with a potential disaster avoided by a lot of hard work.

Added: I don't know why there was a jump step circa 1980. It doesn't necessarily represent anything social; it might have been some change in the amount of cash banks were required to keep on hand. Anyone know?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Exxon Scientist on Global Warming, 1978

This is old news, but I might want to refer to it later.

Exxon scientist J.F. Black, memo of June 6, 1978:
"What is considered the best presently available climate model for treating the Greenhouse Effect predicts that a doubling of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would produce a mean temperature increase of about 2 C to 3 C over most of the Earth. The model also predicts that the temperature increase near the poles may be two to three times this value.

- J.F. Black, Products Research Division, Exxon Research and Engineering Co.

Forecasts of Old Climate Models

Zeke Hausfather, now at Carbon Brief, shared the poster he's presenting today at the AGU Fall Meeting in DC.
Click on the image to get a fuller 
presentation of the Hansen graphs.

I assume he put the actual forcings that occurred into Hansen's projections, instead of what Hansen assumed.

I don't know what models Zeke's considering here, but there were only a few big models that cover that time period -- see the IPCC ARs of the period.

It will be interesting to see how much the observations of the 2010s bring the agreement back in line from the 'noughts. You can get a sense of that from Ed Hawkins' monthly update comparing observations to CMIP5 models; they've come back up after the lows around 2010:

Added about one hour later:

I asked ZekeH on Twitter how he corrected model projections for the actual emissions, instead of the assumed emissions. He wrote:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Hiatus in Sea Level Acceleration Looks to be Ending

So I was looking at the latest sea level data from AVISO in France. A recent publication found that sea level rise is accelerating, at 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/yr2 (In just the satellite era.) I get 0.061 ± 0.007 mm/yr2 when I fit the data to a second-order polynomial (the same method used by Nerem et al, the paper mentioned in the previous sentence.), but I'm sure my error bar (2σ) is too small because I didn't include autocorrelation. Anyway, I get about the same number they do.

The acceleration has been about constant for about two years, but maybe there's a little uptick at the end:

Two comments about this graph:

1) the missing error bars (white gaps) are, I'm pretty sure, due to a bug in Excel, and
2) again, the error bars here are without considering autocorrelation. (As I've written before, I don't know how to do the calculation of error bars for a 2nd-order (or higher) polynomial in the presence of autocorrelation. If anyone reading this knows, I'd appreciate a comment with more information.)

The acceleration changes relatively slowly, but once it starts changing it takes some time to stop. It has a lot of inertia, you might say. So its slight upturn now will probably continue into larger values,especially since we're entering an El Nino -- see the 2015-2016 period in the graph, with its monster El Nino.

I'm working on doing to 3rd-order polynomial fit. It's not obvious it will be better....

It Confounds the Science

Monday, December 10, 2018

India's Clean Energy Efforts are Very Impressive

This is impressive, and from a country whose per capita CO2 emissions are 11% of Americans'.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Oil Drilling Likely Caused Post-WW2 Los Angeles Earthquakes

A new study says 1940s and 1950s earthquakes in Los Angeles were likely caused by WW2-era oil extraction.
Six independent earthquakes and two aftershocks of magnitude 4.4 to 5.1 shook Los Angeles between 1935 and 1944, a rate of about one every two years. The area also experienced a higher rate of low-intensity earthquakes during that time frame. After 1945, the rate dropped to one moderate earthquake every seven years.
The article's link has an interesting picture of oil derricks right up next to Huntington Beach. Up to 9 billion barrels came out of the ground -- about what the US now produces in years.
Unlike recent earthquakes associated with hydraulic fracturing in Oklahoma, the mid-century events were not caused by deep fluid injection but were likely caused by taking oil out of the ground, according to the new study.
The article says the oil companies knew they were causing earthquakes, because of smaller and more frequent earthquakes in their oil fields. ('Course, they didn't pay for the damages they did. Maybe no one complained back then because "oil fueled the growth of Los Angeles from 50,000 people in 1890 to 1.5 million in 1940."

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

2018's CO2 Increase is 2.7% Over 2017's

So the big news of the day is that 2018's global CO2 emissions are projected to be 2.7% above 2017's number.

That is, indeed, not good news. It's a fairly big number. It will deflate a lot of hopes.

FRED says only that, strangely, 2015 World GDP was -5.6% lower than 2014's. I've seen this before and it mystified me then, too.

So I can't compare 2017's World GDP to 2016's.

WaPo plays coy with their source material, but it's this paper in Earth System Science Data. (Which is at least open access.)

Why the increase? Part of it is the increase in US CO2 emissions that I wrote about earlier, running about 1%. Part of it is about China's increased emissions. And then India's too. These Big-3 cover most of what's going on.... After a quick read, I don't see where they give the recent annual increases by country, but I might change my mind after a 2nd reading with fresh eyes.... I hope I'm wrong about this, but if not they've been irresponsible.

The problem is that from 2013-2015 global CO2 emissions seemed to be flat. People misattributed this (apparently) to a permanent decrease in global burning of fossil fuels, but that was clearly not true when the year-over-year increases in 2017 were 1.6% over 2016's value.

Then the yellow jackets in France are protesting higher fuel prices due to carbon taxes. I think a carbon tax-and-dividend would handle this nicely, and even alleviate poverty, but no politicians have enough foresight and bravery to offer one. So it's no surprise they are going to get pounded on such taxes.

How can these emissions be calculated so exactly? Because oil, natural gas and coal cost money!, and these billings from large companies are relatively easy to add up. And because carbon people have a pretty good idea of how land use changes -- like turning a forest into a field, or building in a city -- count towards carbon emissions. I'm sure it's not easy work, but it's not especially complicated, either.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Edward Teller's 1959 Warning about Global Warming

There was an even earlier, significant warning about carbon dioxide, than that in 1965 from the American Petroleum Institute. It came from Edward Teller in 1959.

That year, there were five invited speakers at a symposium at Columbia University. Teller talked about some wild applications for nuclear bombs, but he started his talk with these words about carbon dioxide:
"Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect in that it will allow the solar rays to enter, but it will to some extent impede the radiation from the earth into outer space. The result is that the earth will continue to heat up until a balance is re-established. Then the earth will be at a higher temperature and will radiate more. It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a l0 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe."
This comes from a book review of the symposium's talks on Amazon, and it's what The Guardian printed earlier this year. There was a question after the talk's end that offers more insight into Teller's thinking:
Dean Brown: Here is another clarifying question. Would you please summarize briefly the danger from increased carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere in this century?

Dr. Teller: At present the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 2 per cent over normal. By 1970, it will be perhaps 4 per cent, by 1980, 8 per cent, by 1990, 16 percent, if we keep on with our exponential rise in the use of purely conventional fuels. By that time, there will be a serious additional impediment for the radiation leaving the earth. Our planet will get a little warmer. It is hard to say whether it will be 2 degrees Fahrenheit or only one or 5. But when the temperature does rise by a few degrees over the whole globe, there is a possibility that the icecaps will start melting and the level of the oceans will begin to rise. Well, I don't know whether they will cover the Empire. State Building or not, but anyone can calculate it by looking at the map and noting that the icecaps over Greenland and over Antarctica are perhaps five thousand feet thick.
Teller wasn't pessimistic enough. In 1970 atmospheric CO2 was 16% above the preindustrial value, 21% in 1980, and by 1990 it was 27%.

This was almost six decades ago. Scientists knew. The oil industry knew. The Lyndon Johnson administration knew. A large research program should have been set up then, and something like the IPCC. Those denying a CO2 role should be ashamed of themselves.

Monday, November 26, 2018

1965: American Petroleum Institute President Admits CO2 Warming

Frank Ikard, American Petroleum Institute president, said this at API’s annual meeting in 1965:
"CO2 is being added to atmosphere by the burning of [fossil fuels] at such a rate that by 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or national efforts."
from: “Early oil industry knowledge of CO2 and global warming,” Benjamin Franta, Nature Climate Change (2018).

Right-wing vs Left-wing Domestic Terrorism

Apropos of this post, where the comment section turned into an argument discussion of domestic terrorism from the left versus the right, the Washington Post has a story today: "In the United States, right-wing violence is on the rise." They've summarized it in a nice chart; it speaks for itself.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Perfect Fit Between Observations and Climate Models

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Renewable Energy under Trump has Flatlined

Renewable energy use under Trump's watch has now flatlined:

PS: Blogger/blogspot just doesn't render images with much clarity. I'm sorry. If you click on the image it will be clearer, but that's not good enough.

Quote of the Day

From the NY Times:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Nic Lewis Owes Resplandy et al an Apology

Note added Nov 6th 2019: I regret this post and have given Nic Lewis an apology.

I'll assume you know by now the saga of the 10/31 Resplandy et al Nature paper that found a larger uptake of heat by the ocean.

Short story: Nic Lewis found an issue with the paper, but then couldn't refrain from acting unprofessionally.

Longer story via a timeline recap:

10/31 - Respandy et al publish a paper in Nature that uses a new method to calculate heat uptake by the ocean, finding that "the ocean gained 1.33 ± 0.20  × 1022 joules of heat per year between 1991 and 2016, equivalent to a planetary energy imbalance of 0.83 ± 0.11 watts per square metre of Earth’s surface."

10/31 - Media coverage, such as WaPo's "Over the past quarter-century, Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously had thought."

11/6 - Nic Lewis writes a blog post on Judith Curry's site with the title "A major problem with the Resplandy et al. ocean heat uptake paper" -- a big feather in his cap -- also saying he contacted Resplandy.

11/7 - Nic Lewis writes a second blog post, "Resplandy et al. Part 2: Regression in the presence of trend and scale systematic errors"

11/8 - An article in Reason magazine quotes Nic Lewis as saying,
Via email, Lewis responded: "I've had no substantive response from Professor Resplandy, just a non-committal reply saying that they were looking into the questions I had raised and if they found anything that needed correction they would address it. Unfortunately, they have every incentive to conclude that they don't need to take any action! So do Nature; journals don't like being made to look foolish."
(Emphasis mine.) This insult takes the feather out of Lewis's cap.

11/13 - media coverage of Resplandy et al's correction, for example, WaPo.

11/14 - a post on about their error and correction, by Ralph Keeling, a co-author on the paper, also writing "We would like to thank Nicholas Lewis for first bringing an apparent anomaly in the trend calculation to our attention."

So only two days after he pointed out what he thought was an error, Nic Lewis was already castigating Resplandy et al for not acknowledging his analysis. [Correction 11/21: Lewis says he email Resplandy on 11/1. So it was 5 days before his blog post. This doesn't change my opinion that his 11/8 comments to Reason were unprofessional.] He gave them no-to-little time for analysis, no time to figure out what he was saying or to address the subtleties involved -- Lewis was mostly interested in scoring points.

That's unprofessional.

This paper went from publication to correction in two weeks. (BTW, their results didn't change much; see below.) But that wasn't good enough -- Nic Lewis wanted to do a victory lap on their faces just TWO DAYS after his blog post, when he had no idea if Resplendy et al were considering his argument or not. In fact, they were considering it, carefully.

Nic Lewis owes Respendy et al an apology.

PS: The Resplandy et al results didn't get much lower after this correction, but do now have a much larger error bar: they went from an oceanic heat uptake of (1.33 ± 0.20) x 1022 J/yr from 1961-2016 to (1.21 ± 0.72) x 1022 J/yr, a decrease of 9%.

PPS: Come on, how about using zettajoules (1 ZJ = 1021 J)? Odd units are why spacecraft crash.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Friday, November 02, 2018

Have CO2 Emissions Declined Under Trump?


Yesterday, or the day before, I can't remember, an NPR story that I can't find now, about plastics and, instead, making bottles from paper, said that US CO2 emissions have declined under Trump.

That's false.

Here are the 12-month increases in US CO2 emissions since Trump took office in Jan 2017:

The last six months have shown a clear month/12months-earlier increase in US CO2 emissions. At a rate of about half of economic growth.

Enough to matter? I don't know, how much matters?

As always, click the image for a clear picture, since Blogger renders these images for shit.

Currently US CO2 emissions data go up to July 2018 -- there's about a 4-month lag between now and the latest data -- but already it shows CO2 emissions increasing compared to 12-months before.

I don't know if this is due to policy changes, weather or what. According to my downloads -- which I do in an neverending effort to try to understand what the hell is going on -- the average temperature of USA48 was -1.07°F for March-May (meteorological spring) compared to the same period 1-year before, and +0.47°F for June-July, so far (2/3rds of meteorological summer, so far). Somewhat colder

There is actually a negative correlation between annual US CO2 emissions and the average annual USA48 temperature:

(Sorry, too much trouble to include Alaska and Hawaii. I'm sure they're used to being overlooked.)

So on the basis of temperature we would expect US CO2 emissions to be somewhat higher this year.

PS: That story, which was about replacing plastics with paper bottles (etc), was also sloppy with other parts of the science, I thought.

They noted that plastic was "made from fossil fuels." Yeah, sure. But that oil is sequestered in the plastic (though it might leak out over time. I'm not getting paid enough to figure out how much or how fast).

As well, making bottles of paper requires cutting down trees, and trees sequester carbon. How much carbon is lost after being sequestered in paper bottles? Like making plastic bottles, paper bottles require energy to manufacture. 

So what's the complete carbon budget here? Is it enough to matter, considering the US already emits about 5 Gt CO2? As I wrote, it's above my pay grade, which is $0 per whatever unit of time you wish to choose.

But I thought the NPR article slid over these issues much too slickly....

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sea Level Rise Committment

I've heard of warming commitment -- how much more the surface will warm if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases immediately (it's about 0.5°C), but until this video titled "This is the scariest graph I've ever seen," I had missed this result for sea level rise commitment -- how much sea level rise is "baked in" to the climate system if we stopped emitting GHGs today.

This 2016 paper by Hardy and Nuse finds the following for sea level rise commitment (SLRC):

(Click for a clearer image.)

It's difficult to imagine we will stay on RCP 8.5 until 2100 -- business as usual. But RCP 4.5, which does look imaginable, still has about 3.5 m of SLR, which is 11.5 ft, which already will a huge amount of damage.

There's a lot more to say about this paper, which I hope to do in the near future.

By the way, this Levermann et al 2013 paper finds a SLRC of 2.3 m/°C over the next 2000 years. Smaller than I thought.

PS: The current first comment on that Youtube video is a good one:

Friday, October 26, 2018

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Various Stuff

Microplastics reach the top of the food chain. Tiny plastic particles (from 50 μm to 5 mm in diameter) have been found in human poop. That means we're eating or ingesting them from the air (as in the breakdown of synthetic fabrics, breakdown of larger debris like bottles, and from plastic beads in some cosmetics). The sample size was 8, all living in Europe or Asia. All of them produced contaminated poop. Obviously much more work is called for, such as figuring out how much of the plastic remains in the body, where it goes, if it's toxic, and if even smaller plastic particles are "able to penetrate the gut lining and enter the circulatory system and other organs, such as has been found to happen with other nanosize, man-made particles." Lovely. I'd like to think this might deter people from being irresponsible in disposing of plastics, but we all know that won't happen until we're shitting out gallon juice jugs into the toilet.

DeSmogBlog has an article listing many of the climate deniers running for office this November. Probably not all. Obviously all Republicans, except for one North Carolina Democrat who avoided the question in a debate. The question I wish the media would start asking is, "what is the cost of not addressing climate change?" Stop asking if they believe in it or not. That's like asking if they believe in gravity and hearing someone say "no." AGW is a given.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the author, in a discussion with someone, argues that gravity didn't exist until Isaac Newton. I took it he meant the concept of gravity, not the actual curvature of spacetime. That's a book I should put on my list to read again soon.

A 2003 paper by the physicist Brian Josephson (Nobel Laureate for work he did when he was 22 years old) has the title, "We Think That We Think Clearly, But That's Only Because We Don't Think Clearly."

Did Dinosaurs Sleep?

Last night I was reading Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall (it's good, not great), and suddenly wondered 'did the dinosaurs sleep?' It never occurred to me before to ask. After a little Googling I found this great picture of the dinosaur Mei long, discovered in 2004, in what sure looks like a sleeping position:

This is a juvenile, about 53 cm long. Another sleeping Mei long fossil was discovered in 2012, but it's not as clear as the above picture.

I'm not sure why, but seeing this picture was somehow soothing, realizing that some dinosaurs, at least, had some peace (maybe) in a red-in-tooth-and-claw world. Did the brontosaurus sleep? How, on its side? If so, how would it ever get up? Maybe it slept standing up, perhaps in water to relax its muscles some? What about Tyrannosaurus Rex? Did he lay down and, when he woke, did he push himself up with his tiny little arms? If he laid down, did his body mass nearly crush his torso? Elephants, who only sleep about 2 hours a day (because they need to find so much food every day) sleep both standing up and lying down. So their body mass, as least, doesn't crush them. There are too many interesting things to learn about.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Picture of a Human Tear Drop

Below is a picture of a pizza human tear drop, by Norm Barker of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Pathology & Art as Applied to Medicine, a winner in Nikon’s micro-photo competition, and published in the Washington Post.

The Post published several more winners, but most are of more complicated, biological lifeforms. As a physicist, this one appeals to me for its relative simplicity and symmetry. But I wonder what the patterned lengthy objects are -- salt crystals? Any ideas? Why aren't there many in the center?


Saturday, October 20, 2018

"The Expanse" Season 3 on Amazon Prime Nov. 15th

Yeah -- season three of The Expanse is coming to Amazon Prime (without extra fees) on November 15th.

This is IMO the best sci-fi show since Star Trek: Enterprise, and every bit as good as Firefly, so mark your calendar. And you might want to watch season two again to recall the plotline.

Friday, October 12, 2018

What Percentage of Arctic Sea Ice is Gone?

Over six years ago (omg) I wrote about the percentage loss of Arctic sea ice, by volume, and came up with a nice little formula to calculate it under the assumption of a linear trend.

It was, then, -39.0% gone since Jan 1979.

Now it's just over six years later, and I just wanted to note that, as of Sept 2018, the figure is now -47.3%. Arctic sea ice is disappearing at over 1% per year.

Using the linear trend of -306 km3/yr, the sea ice volume loss since Jan 1979 is now -12.2 Kkm3, or -10.6 trillion tonnes.

Using a quadratic fit (easily better, in the least-squares sense), the loss is accelerating at -11.2 km3/yr2.

By the way, this acceleration is down from a (negative) peak of -22.2 km3/yr2 in Nov 2012. Sea ice loss is stalling a bit. It's done this before, and is no big deal -- there is no scientific reason to expect it will continue forever.


William Nordhaus
I was happy to see that William Nordhaus won (half of) the Nobel Prize in economics this year.

First, because it highlighted the importance of the impacts of climate change, and also because (and no one I read mentioned this) it was kind of a slap across the face of Republicans.

Nordhaus was an architect of cap-n-trade, back when Republicans at least pretended to care about climate change, in the GHW Bush administration. Cap-n-trade was then seen as the free market solution to global warming. It didn't come to much, but is still often the preferred method of addressing climate change (as in Oregon), because, as far as I can tell, it allows politicians to put real caps on greenhouse emissions, and because it doesn't involve the word "tax," as in "carbon tax."

Nordhaus now thinks a carbon tax is superior. My impression is that now a carbon tax (revenue neutral, possibly with a dividend) is seen as the most efficient program. But it's still seen as a tax, and changing the wording to "carbon fee" doesn't seem to fool anyone.

Anyway, a few years ago I read Nordhaus's book The Climate Casino. I have to admit I didn't get a lot out of it. He didn't get into the guts of explaining his DICE model, which is what I was looking for, but maybe not the general reader.

I try to understand economics when I come across it, but a few things get in my way. I am terrible at understanding graphs like this one -- I don't know if I have a mental block or what, but I always have to think hard to puzzle my way through them.

What could be simpler, right? But by now I partly freeze-up when I see one, just due to anxiety from past anxieties, and have to overcome that to see what the graph says. Dumb.

But I do like collecting economics data from, and looking for trends and changes.

It bothers me that economists never put error bars or uncertainty bands on their results. I'm guessing that's because it's hard enough to just get a model -- in the case of environmental economics, just to come up with basic equations that relate economic observables to climate observables -- let alone to worry about the uncertainties. This seems, to me, to imply that env econ results are far more precise than they really are.

Also, I've always found the equations economists come up with to be exceptionally ugly. At least compared to those of physics. They're full of asterisks and twiddles (tildes) and hats (carets) and primes, and subscripts high and low. Even subscripts on subscripts. They're just a mess. Here's an example of what I mean, from a more-or-less random paper I found by Paul Krugman:

Really?? And there are worse. 

Anyway, I heard Nordhaus being interviewed on the radio the other day when I was driving somewhere, and he seemed like the nicest, most gentle guy anywhere. 

Monday, October 01, 2018

Tangier Island Again

This news story about Tangier Island's jetty approval has a accompanying video (I guess that's de rigueur now, for people who can't or won't read) that's shot from a helicopter, so it gives a good sense of the island and the homes and businesses there. It looks...flat.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Sharp SST Spike Upward to an El Nino State

Here's an unusual change -- a sharp increase in the sea surface temperature anomaly of the Nino34 region in the central Pacific Ocean -- the region taken to be most indicative of the ENSO state. The anomaly is now in El Niño territory, as it's above 0.5°C. (It takes 5 months being above this value to make an official El Niño, in the eyes of NOAA.)

So no El Niño yet, but still a impressive spike.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Novel Graphic on Arctic Sea Ice Extent

From "Changing state of Arctic sea ice across all seasons," Julienne Stroeve and Dirk Notz, Environmental Research Letters, Vol 13, N 10, 24 Sept 2018 (open access).

(click to enlarge). The world is now emitting about 40 Gt CO2 per year (including land use changes), so we'll get to the first threshold, about 700 Gt CO2 (RCP 2.6) relative to today, in about 18 years.

(Since 1850 the world has emitted about 2,200 Gt CO2, about 70% from burning fossil fuels and 30% from land use changes.)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

This is Mind-Blowing

If you follow the tinyurl link you can see how the breakoff point is derived: it's exp(99).

Thursday, September 20, 2018

About Time

"The darkness returns to Werner’s eyes, and he feels faint. Soon his legs will give out. A cat sits in the road licking a paw and smoothing it over its ears and watching him. He thinks of the old broken miners he’d see in Zollverein, sitting in chairs or on crates, not moving for hours, waiting to die. To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop."

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

NOAA Race Track Graph

Here's where 2018's year-to-date GMST* stands compared to recent years, with some scenarios to the end of the year. Via NOAA. It's possible the four warmest years on record will be the last four years.
* global mean surface temperature

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Leap Year Days in 365-day Moving Average of a Time Series?

Suppose you have a data time series that is taken every day. Say, like Arctic sea ice extent from NSIDC.

Let's say you want to calculate it's moving annual average -- over 1-yr, 12-mths, 365.25 days.

How, exactly, do you account for leap year days in such a moving average?

PS: I was born on a leap year day, February 29th -- the only baby in the hospital to have been delivered on that day -- but don't worry about upsetting me no matter whatever you propose. I've heard all the jokes, and I like being only a decade and a half old, more or less. It makes me feel just a bit special.

PPS: I also defended my PhD thesis on a Feb 29th. After my hour-long 4:00 pm presentation they voted me up just one hour before the hour I was born, so I can say I got my Phd when I was 27.


"The riskiest vaccine? The one that is not given."

I like this: "The riskiest vaccine? The one that is not given," Science 4/27/17. "Two of every three alleged injuries related to vaccines have been dismissed over the past 30 years by the US's vaccine court."

Did you even know we had a vaccine court? The video explains more about it.
Bret Stephens, the conservative columnist the NY Times took on a while back from the WSJ, got plenty of grief when he first came on because of his (rather mild, it turned out) position on anthropogenic global warming. But I think the people who judged him prematurely got it wrong -- Stephens has written a lot of good columns in recent months & weeks, about Trump, and including this one about China's heavy-handed oppression of Uighur Muslims. I'm finding that I agree with him more often than I disagree, and that he makes his points quite elegantly.

Certainly better than that immature idiot, Ross Douthat, who can't wait to turn the US into a theological state.
Antarctic sea ice is currently the lowest of any Sept 14th in the satellite era, going back to 1979.

Friday, September 14, 2018

An El Nino Watch is in Effect

The odds of an El Nino this winter have gone up slightly -- the September outlook for ENSO now has an El Nino Watch, according to the CPC/IRI* outlook, which calls for "a 50-55% chance of El Niño development during fall, rising to 65-70% for winter 2018-19. An El Niño watch is in effect."

*Climate Prediction Center/International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University

These back-to-back (-to-back-to-(maybe) back) nonneutral years aren't as uncommon as I thought. In fact, 47 of 68 (69%) ENSO seasons since 1950-51 (July-June) have been classified as a nonneutral year, according to the ONI index. NOAA considers a season to be an El Nino if there are 5 or more consecutive months of a +0.5°C Nino3.4 Index (the temperature anomaly in the Nino3.4 region), and a La Nina if there are 5 or more consecutive months with an anomaly of -0.5°C or less.

This page explains more, including how they classify weak, moderate and strong seasons.

There's basically no trend in the annual average Nino3.4 Index since 1950-51: it's -0.02°C/decade.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Broad Institute gets CRISPR patent (A Big Deal)

The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass has won the patent for CRISPR. This is a really big deal.
"The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed to uphold a patent filed by the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University on Crispr Cas-9 gene-editing in organisms with complex cells. The court ruled that the patent didn’t infringe on another Crispr patent filed two years prior by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley, which sought the licensing rights of using Crispr Cas-9 to work with loose DNA in test tubes. Both patents are therefore upheld, allowing both the Broad group and the Berkeley group to exclusively license their technologies." 
"Crispr-Cas9 is a gene-editing technology enabling scientists to cut and paste snippets of genetic information in strands of DNA. This ruling comes down to splitting the licensing rights on what the technique is used for."
I don't know enough to say this patent is fair, but I know enough to know it's as very big deal. Genetic manipulation may well be the dominant issue of the 21st century -- sorry, people, but climate change will probably be way down the line, after genetic engineering, after synthetic biology, and after water shortages & fights....


Roy Spencer tries to prove a hurricane isn't enhanced by global warming before it even gets here!


"The American humorist Will Rogers liked to call the Rio Grande “the only river I know of that is in need of irrigating."

from The Rio Grande Is Dying. Does Anyone Care? Drained by farmers and divided by treaty, America’s second-longest river is running dry," Richard Parker, NY Times, 9/8/18.

My sister used to live in Albuquerque, down in the valley about 1/4th mile from the Rio Grande, and once when I was staying there for a few weeks I used to go walking down to the Rio Grande Nature Center and walk along the Rio Grande everyday. It's hard to imagine that such a river could cease to exist. But then, it's hard to imagine that any river could cease to exist.

People, the country, the world, are not good about deciding they should not exhaust a resource. Any resource.


New Hampshire keeps electing women to their governmental positions -- horrah! -- now, Democrat Molly Kelly for the general election in November. Best! It's a very difficult state to understand. Like Oregon, which has a clear divide between west -- west of the Cascade Mountains -- and the east, NH divides into, roughly, the south, where people have moved to escape Massachusetts, and the north -- roughly north of Lake Winnepesaukee -- where people are more conservative.

Do you ever miss somewhere you lived 12, 15, 20, 30 years ago? I do, I always do, and it is just not a useful/helpful thing to do. I wish I could help it.
"Nostalgia locates desire in the past, where is suffers no active conflict and can be yearned toward pleasantly."
-- Robert Haas

I reminisce too much here. Sorry.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Tangier Island and Sea Level Rise

There's a little island in the Chesapeake Bay across from (to the west of) Chincoteague Island in Virginia. It's near where the wild horses swim. I could tell you a couple of good stories about going there as a kid with my family, and two other families, with tent trailers and Coleman stoves and experiencing, on night one, an intense midnight soaking that require a laundromat at 2-4 a.m., but I won't. It was one of the few vacations we ever took. But I'll just say that the place saw nightly clouds of DDT pouring out the back of jeeps and directly into the lane where us kids played.
Tangier Island, Virginia

Tangier Island sits in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, and it's going underwater from sea level rise (mostly) and erosion. About 450 people live there, on 1.3 square miles, and it seems to be a pretty closed, insular group. None of them seem willing to accept global warming or its consequent sea level rise.

They think their problem, which involves about 15 feet of lost beach per year, is all due to erosion. Trump has encouraged this view by stupidly telling them not to worry about sea level rise. The Island's mayor said, “He [Trump] said that ‘your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.’” 87% of the islanders voted for Trump in 2016, because he was "the Christian candidate." Fools.

But they're not going to be just fine. They're going to get shoved off their island, and in just a few decades, by the ever rising sea. Doubtless they still won't accept global warming and its sea level rise even at that point, but will, sadly, invent a way to blame Democrats and gays and progressives and liberals and queers.

They'll be in the earliest band of US climate refugees.

There's a book out in the last few months, Chesapeake Requiem by Earl Swift. He lived on Tangier Island for a year, talking to "cantankerous" people who, I'm guessing, didn't really want to see his face every day, reminding them of their predicament and their denialism. But this is an easy call.

Now the federal government, via the Island's Virginia Congressman, is giving them a half million dollars ($495,000) to build a jetty, whose ultimate cost will be $2.4 million. 

This would make sense if their problem really was just erosion. But most of it is not. Like a placebo, a jetty might do something for a couple of years or ten, but it won't cure the disease. 

I don't know where the others $1.9 million will come from -- US taxpayers, probably. Add it to the list.

Only about 450 people live on Tangier Island, so we're talking about a hefty $5,300 per person. All for a fix that won't last because people won't accept the science and the reality of carbon dioxide and anthropogenic climate change.

I can almost sympathize with these residents. Almost. I do wish the people who live on Tangier Island could stay there forever, catching fish and crabs and watching Orioles games in the evenings. It does seem they have a deep, wonderful (though insular) community. But it won't be, and there will be many more dispossessed after them. This business is just getting started. Ad it's going to break an enormous number of hearts before it is through, if it ever is.

Some Perspective on Jobs Gained

Job gains under Trump are actually slowing down....

US job gains in Trump's first 19 months: 3.59 M

In Obama's last 19 months: 3.95 M


#economy #JobsReport

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Statue of Einstein

12 feet high, bronze. Memorial to Albert Einstein at the entrance to the headquarters of the National Academy of Sciences. Built 1979.

"The 12-foot bronze figure is depicted seated on a granite bench holding a paper with mathematical equations summarizing three of his most important scientific contributions: the photoelectric effect, the theory of general relativity, and the equivalence of energy and matter."

I'm surprised I didn't know of this until now.

Sea Level Rise is Already Starting to Look Expensive ($14.8 B)

Miami Beach, Florida
Over the past few weeks I've been keeping track of costs of sea level rise when I've come across a number. They're starting to look real -- I'm up to $14.8 billion so far.

In Miami Beach, where only 20% of sea level rise is due to land subsistence, they’re spending $400 billion to address sea level rise, for seawalls, pumps and raising roads. Some of the money comes from all Florida taxpayers, and some of it comes from a $7/month increase in monthly stormwater fees for residents.

New Jersey is spending (federal money) $300M for their Blue Acres buyout program. The state has bought 600 homes in danger of repeated flooding, using money from FEMA and US Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

The Louisiana Office of Community Development was awarded $48.3M to move 99 residents off Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana

$14.1 billion in lost home values: Axios: "According to a new report by the nonprofit First Street Foundation, housing values in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut dropped $6.7 billion from 2005 to 2017 due to flooding related to sea level rise. Combined with their prior analysis of 5 southeastern coastal states with $7.4 billion in lost home value, the total loss in 8 states since 2005 has been $14.1 billion.”

I'm not counting this cost yet, but it's the very definition of chutzpah: The oil industry is asking for $12 B for for 60 miles of seawalls, flood gates etc. on the Texas Gulf Coast, to protect refineries from the effects of climate change. (Added: See this also.)


Some other good articles lately:

"Miami Will Be Underwater Soon. Its Drinking Water Could Go First," Christopher Flavel, Bloomberg, 8/29/18.

"Sea level rise is already costing property owners on the coast," Chris Mooney, Washington Post, 8/20/18.

"Surrendering to Rising Seas," Jen Schwartz, Scientific American, 8/1/18.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Various Stuff, 8/31/18

Montana climate denier Ed Berry is proud to be speaking next week at a conference at Porto University, Portugal. But as you can see here, it's just another pseudo conference of well known deniers, organized so they can hoorah themselves and regain a little of their self-esteem. Snowflakes who wouldn't dare present at a real scientific conference.
Zeeshan Aleem at Vice: Time Is Running Out, So Why Aren't Democrats Yelling About Climate Change? No, climate change doesn't work like that (as Chris Colose wrote the other day on Twitter.) There are no deadlines, no thresholds, no final countdown. It's a continuum -- what we prevent now, we won't have to live with (or prevent) later. That's the best than can be said, and done. How many people have looked foolish so far by saying we only have X years to address climate change? 
, Global ACE -- Accumulated Cyclone Energy -- in August ranked 2nd of Augusts since 1970.
Yes, it's a lousy metric, but no one seems to care too much. It's easy to calculate.
Q: Does "since 1970" include 1970, or not? Is "since 1969" more correct for data that begin in 1970?
This is a little curious....
Perhaps more later.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"American War" by Omar El Akkad

I just finished reading a novel that's worth reviewing here: American War by Omar El Akkad.

Published last year, it's a story about the second American civil war, which in teh book lasted from about 2070 to 2090. Climate change is mentioned often, in and amongst the story. The ocean is rising everywhere, and Florida is mostly submerged. There's a mention of the Bangladeshi isles. Augusta, Georgia becomes a shipping port, and the Mississippi Sea has been created.


The reason for the war is that several southern states (of course) refused to give up fossil fuels when they were made illegal by the US government -- Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina. Here's a map at the front of the book: The US is militarily organized; the South consists of several factions -- a somewhat organized military, various groups of freedom fighters, and men and boys who want to be where the action is.

In the beginning of the book, the US (what remains of the 50 states) intentionally introduces a very virulent virus into South Carolina. As a result, the state walled off from both the US and the Southern states.

The story begins by centering on a family in Louisiana. The father goes north to look for work and is killed by a suicide bomber. The rest -- mother, son and twin daughters -- go to live in a refugee camp, still in the South, and suffer the indignities present there.

The novel focuses on one of these sisters, who grows to be physically tall and large, confident, and brave. An undercover agent recruits and trains her to be a lone, stealth fighter for the south, and she goes to the border and kills a prominent general and becomes an folk hero. But she herself is imprisoned on a remote Florida island, tortured, and nearly broken. In the end she commits an abominable act of revenge.

I liked the novel for its science fiction -- how people reacted to climate change, and how it affected living conditions. It's told subtly, not overtly, but it's always looming in the background.
My problem with the book is that I didn't really like the protagonist. She's confident but a bit of a bully. She struck me as emotionally disconnected -- from the time she's eight to her 20s or 30s. There's not much mention of her (formal) education, there's not much interest in other people (besides her immediate family) for their own sake, no mention of any romantic interests. She seems to wander through the book alone and bitter. She shaves her head. Eventually, after prison, she is so broken she sleeps on a dirt floor in a shed, and utterly alone except for a nephew she only begins to connect with. To me she didn't seem three-dimensional.

But it's a book I'd recommend if you like reading about climate change in the future, and how the United States has gone to hell.