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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Increasing Temperatures of ENSO Seasons by Type

Awhile ago I posted about the temperatures of different types of ENSO seasons -- La Ninas, El Ninos, and neutral seasons -- and said I would put up a graph that showed these in a better context. Here it is:

There are the average NOAA surface temperatures for each ENSO season, which runs from July to the following June. (So 2007.0 is for the ENSO season July 2006 - June 2007). This differs from plotting ENSO temperatures versus year, which never made sense to me, especially when an ENSO goes from late in one year to early in another (like the La Nina of 2017-2018, or the El Nino of 1997-1998.)

I started in the climate business about 2018 (when, for about a year, I actually thought AGW was overblown -- until I actually learned something about it, starting with Ross Gelbspan's book), and I remember the talk then was about the "monster" El Nino of 1997-98. In just 20 years that record has been beaten three times. The most recent monster El Nino, 2015-2016, was about 0.4°C higher than the previous monster 1997-98, which itself was about 0.4°C higher than the 1982-83 monster El Nino season. Something is going on here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

CNBC - If the first men on the moon had become stranded, President Nixon would have given this speech

If the first men on the moon had become stranded, President Nixon would have given this speech

White House speechwriter Bill Safire penned the address "In event of moon disaster" on July 18, 1969.

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/18/president-nixons-speech-if-apollo-11-had-been-stranded-on-the-moon.html

Sent from the CNBC app.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Intense Fire Whirl Creates Water Spout on Colorado River

Here's a really interesting video from a fire in southern California, where the whirl intense fire creates a water spout in the neighboring Colorado River:

I came across this from an informative weekly video on (mostly) Pacific Northwest weather by Eric Snodgrass at Northwest Farm Credit Services.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Ice Loss Since 2002 Greater than Mass of Mars' Moon Phobos

While Arctic and Antarctic sea ice have increased compared to last year, the trends are still very much downward. Based on the data I've found, the ice loss since 2002 for Arctic sea ice volume, Greenland mass balance, and Antarctica mass balance is larger than the mass of Mars' moon Phobos.

Here then are the numbers (t=metric ton, G=109, T=1012):

where, as usual,


I haven't looked up the mass balance for land-based glaciers, but surely it's less than zero.

Mars' moon Phobos has a mass of 1.0659e16 kg, or 10.7 Tt.

So Earth has lost more ice than the mass of Phobos, and just since 2002. Amazing.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

70% Chance of an El Nino This Winter, Says IRI

The (take a deep breath) Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (exhale) still has the chance of an El Nino this fall at 65% and this winter at 70%. Which would be strange, I'm guessing -- that'd make four consecutive seasons with an ENSO. Here are their model forecasts:

An El Nino peaking at 1.0-1.5°C for the Nino3.4 region would be moderate. The 2015-16 El Nino peaked at 2.6°C and had four months of 2.4°C or higher. The 1997-98 El Nino peaked at 2.4°C (for two months), and the 1982-83 El Nino peaked at 2.2°C.

I wonder if El Ninos are getting stronger. A 2016 article from Columbia University's Earth Institute says "It's a tough question to answer."

It's certainly true that ENSO seasons (July-June) with an El Nino are getting warmer, by about (eyeballing since 1970) 0.2°C/decade. The same as the globe overall:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Is Salem, Oregon Warming?

There have been some discussions, but not much data, over at Roy Spencer's site about the trend in Pacific Northwest temperatures, and in particular the trend in Salem, Oregon's temperatures.

Chuck Wiese linked to a chart he said was compiled by Mark Albright, showing Salem's annual mean daily maximum temperature, 1932-2013. But he couldn't provide the underlying data, or explain why the chart ends in 2013.

The National Weather Service gives monthly temperatures for Salem from 1892-present -- Tmax, Tmin, Precipitation and Snow. Some data are missing, with an "M" for that month. I only took an annual average only if there were no missing months. Here's what I get for Tmax (all temperatures in Fahrenheit):

I don't know where Albright or Wiese got their data, but the data I obtained shows a trend in Tmax of +0.15°F/decade.

Wiese explained why Albright began his plot in 1938:
Mark Albright chose 1938 as a starting point because before this time, Salem, OR was not a first order station. The conversion took place in 1937 and before this time, there were months of records missing from the station.
Starting at 1938, my data show a linear trend of +0.09°F/decade.

By the way, the trend of Tmax since 1970 is +0.31°F/decade.

I do find the trend from 1938-2013 to be zero. These last four years were very warm here, and make a significant difference.

So the fraud trick to Chuck Wiese's claim is: don't include all the data. Especially when they're warm.

PS: To be clear, I'm not faulting Mark Albright. He made a graph and it stands on its own. I'm calling out Chuck Wiese for trying to push data that aren't up-to-date.

Friday, July 06, 2018

We Just Had the 2nd-warmest La Nina Season

The ENSO season runs from July-June, so it just ended.

There was a weak La Nina this season, just as there was last. This one was a little weaker, and the temperature records went accordingly.

2016-2017 is still the warmest La Nina season, with 2017-18 a close second.

The 2017-2018 season saw a weak La Nina from October to March, according to the Oceanic Nino Index (ONI), as did 2016-2017. [ONI is the 3-month running mean of ERSST.v5 SST anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region (5°N-5°S, 120°-170°W)]

The La Nina waters for 2017-18 were slightly colder than the 2016-17 La Nina temperatures, going by the average ONI. And the global temperature was slightly colder too, according to UAH for the lower troposphere and NOAA for the surface.

I've only looked at the temperatures for NOAA (surface) and UAH (lower troposphere). Going by UAH's temperature for the global lower troposphere, including, now, June's, 2017-8 was the second-warmest La Nina year since UAH records begin in late 1978.

The UAH LT's ENSO's season's average for 2017-8, +0.33 C, was just slightly behind the 2016-7 average of +0.36 C.

La Nina seasons keep getting warmer (except, barely, this year, but then the La Nina, while weak, was stronger than 2016-2017). So do El Nino seasons. So do neutral seasons.

I should put up a pretty graphic here, but instead I'll link to this one, which is slightly out-of-date but communicates the essence.

Warming Trend and Effects of El Niño/La Niña

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Pacific Northwest Rural Warming

The person I debated on the Lars Larson show last week said that there's been no warming in Oregon except for the urban heat island effect. He just claimed it again on a blog, though, as always, presented no data to support his claim.

So I'll present some data for him, showing that many rural sites in Oregon do in fact show warming. Not all, but most:

Adding some more, from around Oregon, Washington and Idaho:

Monday, July 02, 2018

Lars Larson Video Kerfuffle Update

7/2 11:10 am - The Larson show's content producer and I have spoken, and he apologized and said he would never have done that (posted the after-show video), that it was done by someone beneath him in the organization, and when I brought it to his attention he had it removed immediately. I appreciated that very much and told him so, and reiterated that I had no problem with the show itself being posted anywhere.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

How Anthony Watts Operates

Here is Anthony Watts' excuse for his false insinuation that I threatened a legal action to get a post-debate video removed from Lars Larson's Youtube channel:

Why did he offer any opinions at all? Why not get the facts first? Why didn't he contact me to ask what actually transpired? And wait until he knew.

I even left him a voice mail yesterday to ask him to stop it. I gave him my phone number. He never returned my call.

Because that's not how Anthony Watts operates. Instead he thinks it just fine to make false insinuations and broadcast them to the world and then let them hang out there forever, maybe letting is victim respond (maybe) to defend himself. By then, of course the damage is already done. Watts knows that. He knows what game he's playing.

And you can only defend yourself only if Watts allows you to reply to comments. Otherwise he "punishes" someone by moderating them or deleting them. He lets people lie, claiming I used sock puppets on his blog. Completely false. Another lie he hasn't let me respond to. Now I'm moderated there and little gets through, and I have no way to defend myself there amongst a mountain of impolite, rude, false and vile insults against me.

(Of course, none of them have the balls to come over here and say anything, let alone using their real names. They stay in their dark corner, where it's safe and all insults about me are allowed. Chuck Wiese too. Deniers never try to read the blogs that are presenting real science, or engage there. They need constant reassurance, comment after endless comment, that someone, somewhere, agrees with their conspiracies and hatred. No one who understands the science and knows the evidence needs that kind of endless reassurance -- they know what they know and want to learn more. There are interesting and important topics in climate science that are open, uncertain, and are worthy of discussion. As someone once said, climate science needs a far better class of skeptics -- real skeptics.)

And Watts wonders why the science community completely ignores him and scoffs at the mention of his name. It's a reputation he's thoroughly earned.

Here's what actually happened on Thursday. In the weeks leading up to the debate, the Executive Producer of the show said in an email that I would be asked to sign a waiver for them to use the audio and video. I was never offered any waiver when I was there, and frankly never even thought it about, since I was pretty busy with, you know, thinking about what I was going to say and then saying it.

I didn't have, and still don't, any problem with them airing the audio/video of the debate itself. And I've told them that. But I was very surprised to learn that they kept their camera rolling after the show ended. I never expected that. Maybe I'm naive, and maybe I made a mistake by trusting a conservative to play fair. I think it was sneaky. I think they wanted a controversy to draw attention to their show. (Isn't that how all conservative talk show hosts and conservative pundits  operate? Rush Limbaugh is more responsible than any other single person for the polarity that divides the US today. And how did he do that? By making false insinuations, just like Watts, and being purposely outrageous, like, to cite just one example, coining the word "feminazi.")

Update 7/2 11:10 am - The Larson show's content producer and I have spoken, and he apologized and said he would never have done that (posted the after-show video), that it was done by someone beneath him in the organization, and when I brought it to his attention he had it removed immediately. I appreciated that very much and told him so, and reiterated that I had no problem with the show itself being posted anywhere. 

So after I got home and learned that an after-the-debate video appeared, I pointed out to the exec producer and Lars that no waiver was offered and so none was signed. I told them I had no problems with them using the debate audio and video, but would they "please remove" the after-debate video. I haven't even watched it yet -- I only saw what was the front page of the video itself. But I know what transpired. I think it was sneaky to still record after the debate ended and I (and everyone else, for that matter) had let my guard down.

But Watts' asked me about none of this -- he just dangled a lie, which he thinks is just an "opinion."

I hate this shit too but I gotta defend myself.

More of how Anthony Watts operates: he's still trying to claim that I insulted his dead mother! This one scraps the ground pretty low. See, I once made a joke about his hefty denialism, writing somethink like "Anthony Watts Denies His Mother Exists." Did I know the first thing about his mother? Of course not. Clearly I was trying to illustrate his extreme denialism by choosing something that would be impossible to deny -- the existence of one's own mother. After all, you wouldn't be here without a mother.

But Watts saw another opportunity to twist someone's words into something that smeared them and let him again play the victim. Because, you know, those poor poor deniers. Seeing another chance to go low, Watts took it of course. It's how the science deniers operate, and I've gotten one-millionth of the invective of people like Ben Santer, Michael Mann, Phil Jones and William Connelley and Tamino others have received.

If you can't win the science, swing for their knees. Heartland (who has paid Watts money) does it, goons like Chris Horner and Steve Milloy do it, Joe Barton and Louie Gohmert have done it. That's why it's so satisfying that Michael Mann took all of them on, gave as good as he got and more, and has emerged as one of the most prolific, honored and quoted climate scientists in the world. (And I knew him before he was famous!)

Remember, Watts also lied about agreeing to accept the results of Richard Mueller's BEST project. "I'm prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong," Watts said. Then he refused.

Deniers. You can't trust 'em. Watts' blog is  like an open sewer, and those things ooze from the top and take the most negative gradient downhill.

PS: And, yes, I still think Anthony Watts will apologize for his blog before he dies.

Was the Medieval Warm Period Global? (No)

One of the set-up questions I got from Lars Larson on Thursday was "Did you ever hear of the Medieval Warm Period?" Of course I have, and my reply was that of course I did, but it was global. It wasn't a global warming, which, like everything I said on Thursday, was met with incredulity.

So what's the evidence? This is all old stuff, but I'm going to go through it again.

Before I get to the evidence, it's necessary to point out that deniers don't understand the significance of this question. They think that aha, I got you, if was warmer back then before there were SUVs then you can't blame modern warming on fossil fuels! Which is just a bad logical error.

Yes, the climate changes, but not always for the same reason. There isn't only one reason why climate changes -- CO2 -- and nothing else can ever change it. There are many factors that cause climate change besides greater atmospheric CO2 -- orbital (Milankovitch) cycles, changes in solar output, significant volcanic aerosols that lead to cooling (with enough emitted aerosols the cooling can be enhanced by the ice-albedo feedback, which is probably what caused the Little Ice Age (also not global)), an asteroid or comet strike, meltwater from ice sheets, some reasons I've probably forgotten, and then that one damn butterfly in China who alone seems responsible for a great deal of the trouble and strife in this sordid, chaotic world.

Most "contrarians" (cough cough) seem to think the Sun caused a global Medieval Warm Period (MWP). What's the data?

Recently Judith Lean wrote a paper giving the reconstructed solar output from 850 C.E. onward; plot to the right. (Click to enlarge).

Looking at the top graph, for TSI, there doesn't seem to be much of a global MWP there, does there?

But let's play along with the deniers and assume a 1 W/m2 increase in solar irradiance, at the top of the atmosphere. How much temperature change might that cause?

The IPCC 5AR puts solar forcing at about 0.1°C per W/m2. So does this rough calculation: the zero-dimensional energy balance, no atmosphere model:

(For its derivation, see Pierrehumbert's textbook, equation 3.6, pp 114-115) where S is solar irradiance = 1365 W/m2. This gives T = 255°C, Earth's "brightness temperature" -- the global average surface temperature if Earth had no atmosphere, or as it is seen from outside the atmosphere. Then

So how is the sun going to cause a warm period? It's not. Deniers think the climate is much more sensitive to solar radiance than it really is.

If the climate was so sensitive to solar forcing -- say, 1°C per W/m2 -- then the forcing from CO2 doubling = α*ln(2) = (5.35 W/m2)*ln(2) = 3.7 degC, before feedbacks.

So then we'd have even more to worry about from anthropogenic GHGs.

None of this is new, as I wrote. But I wanted to make this point again.

So, was the MWP global, like Lars Larson suggested? The data say no.

First, here are the results from the PAGES 2k Consortium published a few years ago -- using proxies like tree rings and pollen grains to reconstruct the last 2000 years of regional temperatures. It's a huge study done worldwide by about six dozen scientists. This is from their abstract:
"There were no globally synchronous multi-decadal warm or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age, but all reconstructions show generally cold conditions between AD 1580 and 1880, punctuated in some regions by warm decades during the eighteenth century."
They produced a beautiful grid of temperatures by 30-year intervals by continent -- it's from their Supplementary Material:

So around 1000 CE is was quite warm in North America -- I think on the show I mentioned sand dunes in Kansas, but what I was thinking of was the Sandhills in Nebraska, which formed around then. It was warm in Antarctica and the Arctic. It wasn't warm in South America or Australasia or much in Asia, and only some bins in Europe show special warmth then.

So nothing global, but yes, certainly some reasons experienced warmth for a period of 30 years to, in North America, about 200 years.


What about the ocean surface? Nothing much of anything happened their either, according to the Ocean 2k study:

If the ocean surface wasn't warmer -- it covers 70% of the globe -- and only some land regions were warmer, then the MWP
1) wasn't global, and
2) would be bad news for us if it had been global with warming, and
3) wasn't global.