Thursday, November 15, 2018

Nic Lewis Owes Resplandy et al 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. 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:

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.

Saturday, August 25, 2018


Are there butterflies who flap their wings and so prevent storms and hurricanes?

Drop in Ocean Heat Content

OHC numbers for the second quarter of 2018 are in, and they show some significant (but not seriously anomalous) drops:

Numbers indicate exponents.

Reminder - the data are here: 0-700 meters, 0-2000 meters, and I calculate the global means per the area of the Earth (not per the ocean area only), since most (> 90%) of the "trapped heat" goes into the ocean.

Big drops. These have happened before, so it's not a big deal. But where did the heat go? (I know, it's a complicated question without any simple answer.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Flat Earthers....

A Scientific American article says,
Just 66 percent of millennials firmly believe that the Earth is round,” read the summary from the pollster YouGov. 
I just don't find that believable. It might be a fashionable meme to say. It might be people goofing on the poll. SciAm asked YouGov for the data, and found reasons to doubt the result; although their reading of the data brings the number only up to 82.5% of millenials, and 81.8% for the 25-34 crowd. But then, even though they found problems with the data, they conclude
Clearly, despite the discrepancy between the results, younger people are less likely to agree with the scientifically established view of the shape of the Earth.
They give more reasons for doubt, but still seem to think some fraction of millenials, ~20%, think the Earth is flat. Even 1/5th of them can't be that stupid, right?

PS: Go to the top of Sandia Peak in New Mexico, outside Albuquerque, and look south, west and north. You can see the curvature.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Powerful magnitude 8.2 earthquakes strikes near Fiji, no tsunami triggered -

M8.2 EQ near Fiji.: 2018-08-19 00:19:37 UPDATED: (M8.2) Fiji region -18.2 -178.1 (2b02a)

Near Fiji. An M8.2 EQ is pretty big. An M > 8 happens only about one and a fraction times per year....

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 2018-08-19 00:19:37 UPDATED: (M8.2) Fiji region -18.2 -178.1 (2b02a)
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 00:38:39 +0000
From: USGS ENS <>

M8.2 Earthquake - Fiji region

Preliminary Report
Magnitude 8.2
  • 19 Aug 2018 00:19:37 UTC
  • 19 Aug 2018 12:19:37 near epicenter
  • 18 Aug 2018 16:19:37 standard time in your timezone
Location 18.165S 178.144W
Depth 559 km
  • 269.0 km (166.8 mi) E of Levuka, Fiji
  • 326.9 km (202.7 mi) SE of Labasa, Fiji
  • 361.3 km (224.0 mi) E of Suva, Fiji
  • 448.7 km (278.2 mi) E of Ba, Fiji
  • 451.3 km (279.8 mi) NW of Nuku�alofa, Tonga
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 9.2 km; Vertical 6.4 km
Parameters Nph = 102; Dmin = 405.2 km; Rmss = 1.01 seconds; Gp = 24°
Version =
Event ID us 1000gcii ***This event supersedes event AT00PDOM8Q,PT18231000.
For updates, maps, and technical information
see: Event Page or USGS Earthquake Hazards Program
National Earthquake Information Center
U.S. Geological Survey



Thursday, August 16, 2018

U.S. Drought

Drought is starting to look serious.  This is the first time I've seen "extreme drought" pop up in Oregon this year. In Salem there's been no recordable rainfall since May.

49.5% of the country (USA50) is at least abnormally dry -- 17% is at least in a moderate drought. A year ago that latter number was only 4%.

John Fleck has an interesting post about how the ongoing drought in the southwest is forecasted to affect water supplies there. (Though the monsoon has delivered more rainfall there than usual.)Water cutbacks for Arizona and Nevada are expected by January 2020.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


I don't believe evil is some universal substance or essence that infects certain people and causes them to do "evil" things. I think it's actually scarier than that -- it's ideas in all of us that most of us successfully suppress. How do some people fail? Evil behavior seems to be an absolute lack of concern for others, an insistence that one be free to act on anything they want, need or imagine. Robert Louis Stevenson said "we all have thoughts that would shame hell." But why do some people, those who do "evil" things, fail to suppress those ideas and instead act on them? It's an immensely complex question, of course, to which I don't have the slightest answer, as no one does. Perhaps that's why it's imagined as some black nebulous energy field that pervades the universe and, from time to time, invades certain people -- it's the best sense we can make of something so astonishingly senseless. We all wonder what we would have done as a German citizen during the Third Reich. It's easy to say in hindsight, but if we were in that time it's not be so straightforward and easy. Almost all Americans witnessed "evil" (in my opinion) in the separation of parents and children at southern border crossings recently, people we wanted to apply for asylum, meaning they weren't illegal immigrants. The situation drew outrage, but most of us (I mean Americans) watched the situation and did nothing. We assumed someone else would act to defeat this pop-up of evil.

But if anything the report on the behavior of some Pennsylvania Catholic priests is so shocking that its seems evil was widely running amuck. The behaviors are absolutely shocking. These excerpts are all from the NY Times:

These evil acts were committed by men supposedly of God, not by wild-eyed psychopaths or suave operators. (Note: we need better psychopath detectors.) If it happened in any other organization than a church, that group would be shamed and disbanded, the perpetrators (and those who covered for them) frog-marched into police stations and given long prison sentences.

Most of these barbarities happened in the 1960s and '70s, in towns around where I was growing up, such as Greensburg and Pittsburgh. My mother was Catholic who won a scholarship to attend an all-girls Catholic school in Pittsburgh (actually, I think she saw this as the best time of her life), and before she was married thought seriously about becoming a nun. We attended a Catholic church in the nearest town -- not Greensburg, but not far away -- up until I was maybe six or seven. I was baptised in the Catholic church, but never confirmed. I was never an alter boy. I didn't know the priest of our church besides briefly meeting him on the way out. Now I wonder. My father was a Methodist and apparently didn't like Catholicism, so we went to a Methodist church for awhile, which my mother didn't like. By the time I was 10 or so we stopped going to church altogether, which was fine with me. I attended a Bible study class once for a week, which mostly involved long bus rides through hill and dale and me thinking alot about boobs. But I still like going into a quiet, beautiful Catholic church, the way the thick doors and walls block out all street noise, creating a new universe inside with the votive candles alight, an organ playing softly, and voices echoing off the high ceiling and walls. I've attended and appreciated a few Catholic masses on Christmas Eve over the years (and some Protestant services too). But I'm completely irreligious now and don't believe in any of that. How could anyone stay a Catholic after all the abuse scandals over recent decades -- I simply cannot understand that. (Some can't.) The Church has been as immoral as anyone, for decades now -- the utter opposite of what it pretends to be. But you know, I'll probably again sit in a Catholic church for a while and absorb its environment, if the situation arises.

I once saw this in a Steven Weinberg book I was reading -- I forget which -- but it never struck me as much as during the last few days:

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Interesting Things, August 8 2018

California has it highest average July temperature since records started in 1895, and also its hottest month ever. In the last 30 years it has warmed at an incredible +0.35 °C/decade (+0.64 °F/decade).

(Granted, California is large and has several different climate zones. If I get to it I'll look at some specific weather stations.) (But I probably won't get to it.)

Overall the continental US had its 11th warmest July (NOAA). Its 30-year warming trend is +0.28 °C/dec (+0.51 °F/dec).
NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) has been cancelled, assumedly by the White House. But it hadn't been funded by Congress. It cost $10 M/yr. A scientist said, "If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the [Paris] agreement." But how accurately can emissions be measured from space? I'm dubious.
Climate Researchers Warn Only Hope For Humanity Now Lies In Possibility They Making All Of This Up (The Onion)
A satellite picture of smoke over USA48, via the HERR model. Via Eric Snodgrass's weekly discussion of Pacific NW weather. (I don't know what the units of the scale are.)

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Is There a Plan B?

Naomi: "Is there a plan B?"

Holden: "Yeah, make sure Plan A works."

- The Expanse, S2 E13, "Caliban's War"

Still no date for The Expanse to appear on Amazon Prime without an extra charge. This fall, is what I've read. You maybe have heard that SyFy cancelled The Expanse in May 2018, after three seasons. But Amazon picked it up a few weeks later and is funding Season 4. 

The Expanse gets the top award, in my opinion, for making life in space as compatible with real physics and engineering as any sci-fi show I've ever seen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Supreme Court Rules on Kid's Climate Lawsuit

Yesterday: "The Supreme Court Refuses to Halt a Climate Change Lawsuit Brought by Children and Teenages." (Pacific Standard)

Rejecting a Trump administration request, the high court let the case proceed toward a trial that’s scheduled for later this year. The administration sought to block further progress on the three-year-old Oregon case until a federal trial judge acts on the government’s bid to throw out the lawsuit.
Good for letting it proceed. This gets more interesting the higher up it goes, and as attorneys for the US opine ever more inanities about climate change.

But this sounds more promising than it probably is. What the Supremes ruled is that the US government's attempt to squash the suit yet has no merit, and the case should proceed in the lower courts. That's hardly saying the Supreme Court would rule in these kids' favor; their response was about procedures.
The justices’ order said the administration’s request was premature. The court added that breadth of the lawsuit’s claims was "striking" and the question of whether they can be decided by a court "presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion." The justices said the trial judge should take those matters into account in considering whether to make a "prompt ruling" on other government efforts to end the lawsuit.
Still, certainly better than nothing. I do hope this case does go all the way to the Supreme Court. I think there's little chance they wouldn't rule against it -- especially once Kavanaugh is confirmed -- but it would bring the cause to national attention in a new and unique way. And it won't be the last legal complaint, by far.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Should Facebook Censor Videos by Climate Deniers?

Bill Nye. Marc Morano.

There is a censorship trend starting up that I really hope doesn't catch on, but I'm afraid it might in this day and age.

I started noticing it in the last two weeks with regard to Facebook's problems regarding Alex Jones and Infowars. There were some mentions of climate denial in that argument too.

But for me it came front and center with Dana Nuccitelli's article in The Guardian, "Facebook video spreads climate denial misinformation to 5 million users."

As I tweeted to him, this wasn't a "Facebook video," it was a video by a Facebook user. Big difference. No reply from him. That's OK. I'm small fry.

But once you start telling us who should be getting censored (and, therefore, who shouldn't be), don't be surprised when fortunes change and YOU'RE the one getting censored.


I don't want Dana Nuccitelli and the SkS boys telling us who should be censored for their views on climate change.

Or Mark Zuckerberg and his boys.

I'm not in favor of anyone getting censored for their views. Should the phone companies -- AT&T, Verizon, Sprint -- start denying climate skeptics ("skeptics") the right to talk on the phone to other climate skeptics?

Should the Heartland Institute not be allowed to host a conference call with the press -- whichever press wishes to dial in -- to spout their stupid climate change denial?

Not be allowed to put up a billboard, if they wish? PLEASE, let them do it again. Did anything do more to ruin their reputation. (No, I don't think so.)

Once you start telling us should be censored, by Facebook or whoever, don't come back and complain when later you're the one getting censored, when fortunes change.

Can't happen, right? You're on the side of good and they're on the side of evil.


This is, to be blunt, an arrogance that I see in the Skeptical Science people that I've never been able to quite shake. 97%! We run classes! We don't have time for you and your silliness.

THAT'S what worries me about these new attempts to censor inconvenient ideas.

Not that I think those ideas are right -- I think Marc Morano is a well-paid propagandist and a climate criminal -- but don't tell me who you think we should be censoring.

Free speech is inconvenient, but necessary.

The only thing worse than allowing Marc Morano's videos to be seen by 5 million people is censoring him in the first place.

US Wildfire Numbers

With all the news of fires in the West, especially the Carr Fire in northern California, I thought I'd look at the statistics. This year-to-date is a little worse than average (3.7 M acres) for the last 11 years. The trend line is positive, but I'm not going to draw it because with only 11 years of data it's not very statistically significant.

However, the annual data go back much further:

The trend is +65,000 acres/yr, about 1.5% per year.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Oregon's Lead Climate Denier Gets Respiration Wrong

Here's a hoot: Oregon's leading climate change denier, Gordon Fulks, thinks the CO2 from human respiration contributes to climate change.

Here's Fulks' comment on a 7/26 article at Capital Press -- "The West's Ag Weekly Since 1928," titled "Editorial: Avoiding Portland traffic at all costs."

Note the highlighted portion. Fulks thinks human respiration is a sizable portion of human emissions.

Let's just cut to the chase: respiration is carbon neutral. Our bodies don't create carbon atoms, they just recycle them. The CO2 we exhale comes from (1) the CO2 we inhale, (2) the C-O2 joining of molecules where the carbon atom comes from the plants we eat, who themselves inhale carbon, and (3) from the carbon atoms in the meat we eat, which come from the plants eaten by cows, chickens, and pigs (etc), who inhaled CO2.

Respiration -- of ALL living things -- doesn't create carbon or CO2. We just recycle it.

If we (and the other breathing animals going back to 200 Myrs ago or before -- did create CO2, it would have been, with trillions of animals breathing (if not more), building up in the atmosphere and ocean at this time.

Of course, it was not.

It's hard to understand why anyone, denier or not, could get this so wrong.

Especially Fulks, who always makes a point of signing his name with his PhD, and who has more than once pointed out that he has the same education from the same alma mater (U Chicago) as James Hansen -- as if that gives him the same right to an opinion.


But let's play along a little bit. Global CO2 emissions in 2015 were about 38 Gt CO2 -- about 34 Gt CO2 from burning fossil fuels, and the rest from changes in land use.

Oregon's 2015 CO2 emissions, at least from burning fossil fuels, was 38 Mt CO2. That is indeed about 0.1% of global emissions.

Gordon thinks human respiration emits 60 times that, or about 2.3 Gt CO2. Divided by 7 billion people, that's 325 kg CO2/person/yr, or 0.9 kg CO2/person/day.

Which is indeed what I've seen referenced before.

Except none of it is new CO2. It's just recycled carbon atoms attaching to, when they get the chance, oxygen atoms.

It's not fossil carbon, buried for a few hundred million years.

It's carbon already in the atmosphere-land-ocean system, cycling around as carbo does. That's all.

Fulks is flat out wrong.

I wonder if the denier groups he's "affiliated" with -- once the Cascade Policy Institute in Oregon, and, still it appears, and the Heartland Institute -- care that one of their people is making freshman-level errors.

OR maybe they're used to it.

Local Fire North of Sublimity, Oregon

Update next day: Turns out this was a permitted, controlled burn of 389 acres. (Permits for lung protection must be applied for separately.)
This summer it again seems like half of Oregon is on fire. There's a fire burning about five miles north of here. I saw the big plume of smoke when I went out to the store, and drove out a few miles past Sublimity to have a look. I think it's just a grass fire, but it's putting up a lot of smoke. Of course I took some pictures.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

US Attorneys: The US Isn't Contributing to Climate Change

You may have heard of the lawsuit filed by 21 children in 2015, many of them from Oregon, alleging that climate change violates the rights of future generations. (Specifically rights granted under the  9th Amendment, which says that the rights granted in the Bill of Rights are not necessarily the only rights retained by the people.) The case been winding its way through this court and that, and I haven't really kept up with all the details except to know the case still hasn't been spiked.

The U.S. government wants, of course, to have the case dismissed, and has tried various arguments to accomplish that. Their latest attempt, presented in the District Court in Eugene, Oregon, is interesting: that the climate change problem is real, but it's global and so outside of the hands of the U.S. From the Courthouse News Service:
"In oral arguments on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Frank Singer acknowledged that some of the injuries the kids claimed they have suffered, like the flooding of their homes during hurricanes or asthma from polluted air, may indeed be traceable to climate change and could give the kids standing to bring their lawsuit.

"But Singer claimed that the government couldn’t possibly manage to resolve what amounts to a global problem, saying U.S. action alone can’t return the planet to the 350 parts per million of dissolved carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists have deemed to be the safe threshold."
I wonder if the White House knows its own lawyers are admitting that climate change is real and serious.

The US attorney actually went farther than that:
“The United States government doesn’t force people to drive their cars or command them to ride in planes,” Singer said. “It’s a matter of arithmetic. It is really third parties that are contributing to this. It is not the United States. And so this case fails.”
That doesn't strike me as a very intelligent argument; in fact, it's obviously wrong, as the US has contributed more than any other nation to the problem, in terms of cumulative CO2 emissions.

Maybe lawyers just throw arguments against the wall and see what sticks.

I doubt these kids (many now college-aged) will win this suit, in the end. Some judge will find a way to throw it out, and the Supreme Court finally will, if necessary.

But it's interesting because you to have to think there are going to be a great many lawsuits coming in the next half-century, as coastal cities start to go underwater and people start to lose homes on the coast. Such losses won't be so theoretical and will have actual dollar values attached to them. Homeowners and the banks who finance their mortgages aren't going to just walk away from, say, a million dollar home on the beach -- they're going to argue climate change isn't their fault and they want reimbursed for their real, tangible loss. Who's going to get stuck holding the bag? It'll be a game of climate musical chairs. I doubt taxpayers will fare well in those attempts to seek justice.