Sunday, May 19, 2019

How Much Had It Warmed by the 1940s?

Since some of you are discussing natural vs manmade warming in the comments, I whipped up this little chart that shows how much warming has occurred, when.

Click to enlarge
Blue dots are the decadal averages, and red dots are the cumulative sum of the decadal changes -- how a decade compares to the decade before it.

So about 30% of today's warming of almost 1°C happened by the 1940s, and, after a little cooling until the 1970s, about 80% of overall warming has happened since then.

What caused the warming before the '40s? I've actually asked a scientist or two about this over the years, and the answer I've gotten is
  1. some increase in solar irradiance from about 1910-1940
  2. greenhouse gases, especially CO2
  3. reversing of ice-albedo feedback initially caused by volcanic aerosols, which together caused the Little Ice Age
The increase in solar irradiance was maybe 1 W/m2, which is good for about 0.1°C of warming.

By 1945 atmospheric CO2 was about 310 ppm, compared to 1850's 285 ppm, which gives a forcing of about 0.45 W/m2. (Compared to today's value of about 2 W/m2. Remember, logarithms change fastest in the beginning.) If climate sensitivity is 3°C, that'd be a warming of about 0.35°C. But I should probably use the transient climate response here, which is the temperature change at the time of CO2 doubling, i.e. without the long-term feedbacks. If it's 1.5°C, that's a warming of about 0.15-0.2°C.

I don't know about the ice-albedo feedback, but anyway it's a feedback not a forcing. But it would have caused some warming.

So it's likely that 90% or more of warming-to-date is from man. This is at a time when, now, the climate should be naturally cooling, due to a slight decline in solar irradiance since the 1950s, and some slight Milankovitch cooling. (I don't have a numerical handle on the latter, but the cycles change so slowly (fastest is 40,000 years) it's gotta be tiny.) This is why some scientists I see say man is responsible for 110% of warming since 1850.

Does this sound about right?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Anomalies from GISS Are Looking Large

Today NASA GISS published their temperature measurements for April. I've been following them for a long time, and lately every month now I'm struck by how high they're getting. A temperature 1°C above the 1951-1980 baseline used to be almost unthinkable. Now they're showing up more and more. The land anomalies are lately about 1.3°C -- that's 2.3°F! -- since, basically, 1965 (average of the baseline limits). And there's no sign of the warming stopping.

Yes, temperatures are up because we're currently in an El Nino. Roy Spencer thinks half of all warming last century was due to El Ninos, even though the average MEI over that period is -0.03, which is just a tad La Nina-ish. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Exxon's 1982 Projections for CO2, Temperature Were Spot-on

This isn't new, but it bears highlighting yet again: an article on ThinkProgress gives this chart from an Internal Exxon document on the "CO2 Greenhouse Effect: A Technical Review" from 1982. It was obtained by InsideClimate News in 2015. Exxon's projections for the present were right on the nose:

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Warming In and Near Eugene, Oregon

This is to prove a point to the right wing talk show host Lars Larson and his acolytes, who say Eugene, Oregon is cooling. It isn't (first graph), and none of the stations near it are cooling either. 

The data are from NASA via (scroll down to the bottom).

As I showed last summer, very few of the rural stations I looked at in the Pacific Northwest show flat or cooling temperatures.

(And, to state the obvious, even if a few did show cooling, it hardly disproves manmade global warming or (!) means that locale need not cut its fossil fuel emissions.)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Mail I Get

No need to name the sender. I'm glad he wrote.

All I can say is that Einstein's special theory of relativity is supported by an enormous array of evidence, and special relativity's consequences are used every day in laboratories around the world. Special relativity (and general relativity as well) have never made a wrong prediction.

If special relativity wasn't true, accelerators like CERN and Fermilab would have been blown to smithereens immediately after they were turned on.

Time dilation, a logical consequence of Einstein's postulates, also has supporting evidence, including atmospheric muon decay that is taught to every undergraduate physics major.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Electric Vehicle Sales

Source: InsideEV. Note the consistent uptike in December sales. Purchases to get a tax credit, I presume.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

A Bad Assumption in Ed Berry's Model

Ed Berry's carbon model (top) vs US Global Change
Research Program's carbon model (bottom)
Ed Berry writes, "There is no such thing as a system being 'too simplistic.' A system should be a simple as possible to solve a problem."

But, alas, there is such a thing. The figure to the right compares Berry's model (top) to a physics-based model.

In the figure to the right, I've put Berry's model on top and that from the US Global Change Research Program's SOCCR-2 Report (Fig 1.2 pg 46) published in 2018. You can decide who's doing proper physics.

Berry's model's basic flaw is that it assumes that once a CO2 molecules leaves the atmosphere, it (or an identical one) cannot ever find its way back into the atmosphere, and that leaving/entering the atmosphere does not affect what is entering/leaving the atmosphere. Henry's Law is a simple example showing that it does.

For example, another unrealistic feature is that Berry assumes the flux of CO2 into the atmosphere -- natural + human -- is a constant. Equation 4 on Berry's preprint proposes
Lb = inflow * Te

where inflow is the net flux of CO2 into the system (= natural + anthropogenic), Lb is defined to be the "balance level, and Te is the "e-folding time" -- how long it takes for 1/e of atmospheric CO2 to leave. (And he assumes Te is independent of how much CO2 is in the atmosphere.)

Berry then restricts his model by assuming
“ the special case when Lb and Te are constant…”
He’s thus choosing

Inflow = constant

which is not what is happening in the real world -- it's certainly not true for the anthropogenic component, and I doubt that nature is giving off less CO2 as the temperature warms. (It isn't true for soil, not true for volcanoes, and not true for the ocean, which is acidifying and whose CO2 uptake is in fact increasing.)

It'd be a miracle if all three of those natural changes, plus others, just happened to cancel out the human emissions (and every year, as human emissions increase!) to leave inflow = constant.

Is there any data or evidence showing the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere is constant?

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Latest Numbers on Ocean Heat Content

We already know that ocean heat content is the best metric to detect a planetary energy imbalance, because the ocean is so vast and can hold so much more heat than the atmosphere (or soil, or biosphere). About 93% of the additional heat from the enhanced greenhouse effect goes there, plus or minus.

So, the latest quarterly numbers on ocean heat content came out the other day. I'm getting a little bored with writing about them -- tracking changes quarter-by-quarter isn't very meaningful if you're interested in climate change, which happens on decadal scales and longer. I guess for the moment I've lost my spreadsheet obsession. (It's worse than you know.)

So I'll just put up this little bit of news. Make of it what you will.

Maybe the weak (so far, anyway) El Nino is venting some heat to the atmosphere, out of the ocean. 

Of course, a quick little less amount of oceanic heat does not disprove AGW. (Give me a break.)

Graphs are here

Dino Asteroid Mitigation

Friday, May 03, 2019

Why Ed Berry is Full of Shit

Update 5/5: as a few people pointed out, there are actually two sources of 14C, the other one being nuclear bombs.

But it's obvious this doesn't affect my argument in any way. The two sources just add to make a bigger source, when Ed Berry's mistake is that he doesn't include any of the feedbacks in the carbon cycle.

And, yes, besides atmospheric CO2 going into the ocean and soil, it also goes into the biosphere. Again, that obviously doesn't go affect my argument.

Ed Berry claims humans have only contributed 18 ppm to the rise in CO2 since the start of the industrial era, when the concentration of atmospheric CO2 was about 280 ppm (by mole -- that is, by particle number. Before the industrial era, about 280 of a million air molecules were CO2 molecule. Now it's about 410 out of a million. This is sometimes noted as "ppmv.")

Ed Berry is full of shit. Here's his shitty model:

It's the bathtub model.

You don't even have to look at Ed's equations -- because this POS model is obviously wrong for CO2.

It's shitty because the real world of carbon dioxide isn't a bathtub. This is obvious and I just do not understand how a semi-intelligent person does not understand this.

Climate denialism turns the brains of semi-smart people to dog food.

Why is this model wrong? Because CO2 doesn't follow a simple in-out model. CO2 inputs come from burning fossil fuels, and from the ocean, and from the land, and from the biosphere as a result of warming. Even a bit, about 0.5-1%, from volcanoes.

Where does the CO2 go? It goes into the atmosphere and the ocean and the soil. Do you see any of these sinks in Ed Berry's model -- and that they also serve as sources of CO2?

No. NO. Of course not. Ed doesn't do real physics. Or care about it in any way. He's a denier who left science a long time ago.

Ed makes a big deal that his model works for 14C. Well, of course it does -- there is only a single source of atmospheric 14C (cosmic rays), and a single sink (radioactive decay):

Unlike CO2, where sources are burning fossil fuels, the ocean and land (soil), 14C has only one source.

It's perplexing how an intelligent person does not understand this.

Back to reality: in fact, humans are responsible for all of the excess carbon in today's atmosphere. And, in fact, nature still absorbs not only as much CO2 as it admits, but also about 50% more, of what humans emit -- the so-called airborne fraction.

Don't believe me? Consider this -- Ed has been trying to get his paper published for almost two years now. It has been rejected -- he won't say how many times. And he wonders why.... The answer is, because his claims are full of shit!

Some people just refuse to learn. Literally. Climate denialists, like Ed, most of all.

People: if your claim does not agree with the consensus claims honed over a century, the chances are overwhelming that you are mistaken and not thousands of scientists. You'd think someone who once did science would know that.

Climate denialism, and its associated shit, is really excessive egotism. Thinking you know more than everyone -- EVERYONE -- else.

PS: Humans have emitted about 1,600 Gt CO2 since 1850 (Source: WRI CAIT). I wonder where Ed PhD thinks it has all gone.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Softball Interview of Trump's Science Advisor

If you had the chance to interview Trump's science advisor, would you ask him about climate change? Seems obvious, but apparently not if you're Nature News.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Saturday, April 27, 2019

New Banksy

New Banksy graffiti found near the site of last week's climate change protests in London:

The words come from the Belgium writer Raoul Vaneigem in his 1967 book The Revolution of Everyday Life: "From this moment despair ends and tactics begin. Despair is the infantile disorder of the revolutionaries of everyday life."

Here's a wider view, from the BBC:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Related to CO2, One Way or Another

A new paper found that during the Holocene, Arctic warming is associated with drying over the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. That's potentially bad news:
If the patterns observed during the Holocene hold for current anthropogenically forced warming, the weaker latitudinal temperature gradient will lead to considerable reductions in mid-latitude water resources.
From the press release: "We found that when the Arctic warms, resulting in smaller temperature differences between the Equator and the pole, the jet stream gets weaker and less precipitation falls in the mid-latitudes."

* * *

Alaska's average temperature for March was 14.3°F (7.9°C) warmer than the 1981-2010 average. That was a record March and the fourth warmest (most anomalous) of any month since records began in 1925. (Data from NOAA.)

* * *

Meanwhile the continental US was 2.4°F (1.3°C) below the 1981-2010 average. Winter (DJF) was middling -- ranked 40th highest of 124 years. (Data from NOAA.)

* * *

An interesting graphic (Sorry, I don't know where it originated):

* * *

From @OceansClimateCU. Details here (RCP8.5, 2081–2099 vs. 1981–1999). Temperature change in °C.

* * * 

Finally, from

Monday, April 22, 2019

"...All We Love and All We Are"

In his daily NYT email, David Leonhardt observes Earth Day with this final paragraph of a new book by Nathaniel Rich titled Losing Earth: A Recent History.
“Everything is changing about the natural world and everything must change about the way we conduct our lives. It is easy to complain that the problem is too vast, and each of us is too small. But there is one thing that each of us can do ourselves, in our homes, at our own pace — something easier than taking out the recycling or turning down the thermostat, and something more valuable. We can call the threats to our future what they are. We can call the villains villains, the heroes heroes, the victims victims and ourselves complicit. We can realize that all this talk about the fate of Earth has nothing to do with the planet’s tolerance for higher temperatures and everything to do with our species’ tolerance for self-delusion. And we can understand that when we speak about things like fuel-efficiency standards or gasoline taxes or methane flaring, we are speaking about nothing less than all we love and all we are.”
Last year the NY Times Magazine had this article by Rich, based on his book:  Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change. It's about there period 1979-1989. I'm a little dubious, but it's an article worth reading.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Abdussamatov's Prediction of a Solar Irradiance Decline is Failing

Back in 2012, Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of a space research lab at the Pulkovo observatory in Russia, predicted a sharp decline in total solar irradiance (TSI), and "new Little Ice Age" soon in the future. It got the deniers all tingley (not thinking that cooling for a decline in solar irradiance is natural and wouldn't say a thing about anthropogenic warming).

How well did Abdussamtov's prediction do? Poorly:

The figure is from his 2012 paper; I added the black line to represent the present.

Abdussamtov was right that we'd now be in a sunspot minimum -- but that's a pretty easy prediction, given what's know about the length of the solar cycle. But his prediction for TSI is badly wrong, by a sizzling 2 W/m2.

He says he used PMOD data, but I couldn't reproduce his graph using the PMOD data I found, in particular the baseline prior to 2010 of 1365.5 W/m2.  (The baseline for the PMOD data linked above is more like 1360.5 W/m2. The difference isn't relevant here.) Here's a plot of my PMOD; the latest data only goes up to May 2, 2018:

No change in the baseline. But Abdussamtov's TSI prediction for the present can be easily discerned from his graph: a change in the baseline TSI (zero sunspots) from 1365.5 W/m2 to 1363.5 W/m2 -- a drop of 2.0 W/m2.

But the baseline change is zero. Here are TSI data from LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics) in Colorado, updated to April 2019:

So, again, a different baseline, but not a change in baseline.

(Like a lot of measurements, determining the absolute value of a parameter is much harder than determining changes in it.)

There's no sign, at least yet, of a new Little Ice Age, or another Maunder Minimum, or any of that. Yes, the peak of Solar Cycle 24 was about half that of earlier peaks. (So how can anyone claim the Sun is responsible for modern warming? TSI averaged over a solar cycle has been declining since the 1960s.)

By the way, Abdussamatov wrote another paper, in 2016, doubling down. (Clarification: it appeared in a (non-peer reviewed) book, not a journal). He claims the new Little Ice Age did start, in 2015. But he (of course he did) moved out the start of the grand decline by about 30 years:
The start of a solar grand minimum is anticipated in solar cycle 27 ± 1 in 2043 ± 11 and the beginning of phase of deep cooling in the new Little Ice Age in 2060 ± 11.
I wonder if he's taken into account his failed prediction of 2012....

PS: The question of the cooling consequences of a future Maunder Minimum has been studied. It was found that anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming easily swamps any cooling from a Maunder Minimum-like sun. Cooling by 2100 would only be, at most, 0.3 C below IPCC projections.

"On the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate on Earth," G. Fuelner and S. Rahmstorf,  Geo Res Lett vol. 37, L05707 2010.

"Increased greenhouse gases enhance regional climate response to a
Maunder Minimum," Song et al, Geo Res Lett vol. 37, L01703 (2010)

"What influence will future solar activity changes over the 21st century have on projected global near-surface temperature changes?" Gareth S. Jones, et al, JGR v 117, D05103 (2012) doi:10.1029/2011JD017013, 2012.

See also:

Friday, April 19, 2019

Your Creepy Video of the Day

Robotic dogs -- only 10 of them -- pull a large truck up a 1° slope. They're now coming off the production line. (Stick around until 0:48, when the machines rise.)

Maybe This is Why Republicans Fear AOC

She's different. From WaPo -- "Barr" is Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr (R-Ky.).

Worse yet, Barr was lying. " turns out there are no active coal mines in Barr’s district anyway, which underscores her point."

Thursday, April 18, 2019

NOAA March Anomaly: 1.30°C

NOAA's determination of March's global average surface temperature is +1.30°C relative to 1880-1909.

Because why not.

That's 2.34°F.

It's the 2nd warmest March in their records, and the 5th warmest month of any in their records

Several IPCC Models Showing 5°C Climate Sensitivity

This week's Science magazine is reporting that several (at least eight) climate models being used as input to the IPCC's 6th Assessment Report have an exceptionally high climate sensitivity of about 5°C.

(Climate sensitivity is how much the planet's surface will warm for a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, after incoming and outgoing energy are again in balance. It's currently thought to be in the 2 - 4.5°C range, and calculations have stayed in that range for almost three decades now.)

5°C (9°F) would, of course, be significant warming and a significant change from current scientific thinking.

The article, by Paul Voosen, says modelers are working to understand which of their recent refinements are responsible for the surge. Modelers note it's still too early to know for sure, and that it's out-of-line with sensitivity estimates taken from past periods of climate change.

For example, the latest model from the GFDL in Princeton...
...incorporated a host of improvements in their next-generation model. It mimics the ocean in fine enough detail to directly simulate eddies, honing its representation of heat-carrying currents like the Gulf Stream. Its rendering of the El Niño cycle, the periodic warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, looks “dead on,” says Michael Winton, a GFDL oceanographer who helped lead the model's development. But for some reason, the world warms up faster with these improvements. Why? “We're kind of mystified,” Winton says. Right now, he says, the model's equilibrium sensitivity looks to be 5°C.
Models from ETH Zurich, CCCM in Canada, GFDL and NCAR are all running hot. CMIP6, the Climate Model Intercomparison Model, where models all run the same scenarios and compare results, may sort out the issues, but it's running late, impacting deadlines for the first drafts of the 6AR.

And this is interesting:
In assessing how fast climate may change, the next IPCC report probably won't lean as heavily on models as past reports did, says Thorsten Mauritsen, a climate scientist at Stockholm University and an IPCC author. It will look to other evidence as well, in particular a large study in preparation that will use ancient climates and observations of recent climate change to constrain sensitivity. IPCC is also not likely to give projections from all the models equal weight, Fyfe adds, instead weighing results by each model's credibility.
The IPCC 6AR is scheduled to come out in 2021.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Relative Health Care Spending is Declining

Data from The Altarum Institute:

Since Trump has done zero on health care, you have to wonder if this is due to Obamacare.... I don't know.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

There are No Hard Deadlines in Future Climate Change

Image result for There are No Hard Deadlines in Future Climate ChangeIt's disappointing that an editor at Discover magazine would write this:
"If you’ve been following climate news, you’ve probably heard about an approaching “tipping point” toward climate change — the point of no return after enough small changes brought us to certain disaster."
The truth is, there is no such tipping point!

Climate change doesn't work that way. It's incremental -- some change in temperature for a change in emitted CO2 (about 2/3°F per trillion short tons of CO2 emitted, in fact).

(1 short ton = dumb English unit = 2,000 lbs = 907 kg (at Earth's surface.))

In smart units, that's 1.5°C/TtC (trillion tonnes carbon emitted). From Matthews+ Nature 2009.

This is a rather amazing equation, because it doesn't need to know how much CO2 goes into the ocean vs soil vs stays in the atmosphere. It doesn't explicitly need to know equilibrium climate sensitivity (the equilibrium temperature change after atmo CO2 doubles). These things cancel out (see the Matthews+ paper.) AFAIK, this is the relationship planners and policy makers use to determine how the world will stay below 1.5°C or 2.0°C or whatever.

Back to the quote. There may be tipping points in the future, but it is not nearly as clear cut as the author writes. No one knows. They are very uncertain. (No, that's not a good thing.) In fact, I've already heard (good) scientists say that Arctic sea ice has probably already passed a tipping point in its melting -- that it's not going to recover.

But there is no hard deadline by which we must solve climate change. It's not 12 years or 2030 or, now I'm seeing, 11.75 years. That's just not how climate change works. The sooner we cut emissions, the better. The later the worse. Partial cuts are better than none.

I (mostly) blame AOC.

Monday, April 15, 2019

It's Getting Warm Again

March 2019, NASA GISS
Perhaps it's the (not-quite-there-yet) El Nino, but global temperatures are heading back up.

GISS found March to be the 3rd warmest March in their records, and the 6th warmest of any month since their records began in 1880. The land-only anomaly of 1.39°C relative to 1951-1980 was the 2nd highest for March, and the 4th highest of all month.

Year-to-date 2019 is +0.12°C compared to last-year-to-date.

The land-only 30-year trend is 0.24°C/decade, meaning the warming over the last three decades is 0.73°C (1.32°F). That's over 0.4°F each decade.

The Japanese Meteorological Association also found the globe to be the 3rd warmest March (since 1890), and the 12th warmest of all months.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

"Religious Nones" Now Leading Religion Group in US

This is an amazing graph: those who say they follow no religion are now the leading "religious group" in the US.

My guesses for the reasons behind this trend:

  1. the freedom from social norms unleashed in the '60s.
  2. more education over the decades.
  3. Catholic sex abuse scandals.
  4. Overly political, hypocritical behavior of Christian evangelicals.
  5. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, etc.
  6. Longer working hours = less time for traditional social activities such as church, mass or synagogue.
  7. Internet offers a sense of community and connection to the atheists and agnostics.
Anything else?

Now, when will politicians start catering to the Religious Nones in the same way they cater to Christians?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Another Perspective on That Black Hole

A zoomed out image of yesterday's black hole in galaxy Messier 87, 54 million light-years away. Via Reddit.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Some Perspective on That Black Hole

From XKCD:

"We're de-evolving the fish."

This documentary looks to be good. (Hopefully it will be widely available). From the press release:
Film finds hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars are wasted on an industry that causes more harm than good; an exposé on the high cost of fish hatcheries, fish farms, and human ignorance. 

Monday, April 01, 2019

An Airplane's Contrail

Looking down at an airplane producing its contrail. Looks like a scene from Firefly.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Is Atheism Consistent With Science?

Is atheism consistent with science?

I've been thinking about this since last week, when the winner of the 2019 Templeton Prize said it wasn't.

The John Templeton Foundation's goal is to show that religion and science can ideologically co-exist, and their $1.5M Prize
...recognizes an individual “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.”
The winner, theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser, "a 60-year-old Brazil-born theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College," told SciAm's Lee Billings
I honestly think atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. What I mean by that is, what is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. “I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe.” Period. It’s a declaration. But in science we don’t really do declarations. We say, “Okay, you can have a hypothesis, you have to have some evidence against or for that.” And so an agnostic would say, look, I have no evidence for God or any kind of god (What god, first of all? The Maori gods, or the Jewish or Christian or Muslim God? Which god is that?) But on the other hand, an agnostic would acknowledge no right to make a final statement about something he or she doesn’t know about. “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” and all that. This positions me very much against all of the “New Atheist” guys—even though I want my message to be respectful of people’s beliefs and reasoning, which might be community-based, or dignity-based, and so on. And I think obviously the Templeton Foundation likes all of this, because this is part of an emerging conversation. It’s not just me; it’s also my colleague the astrophysicist Adam Frank, and a bunch of others, talking more and more about the relation between science and spirituality.
I just don't get this. I wonder if Gleiser is agnostic about the existence of thousand-legged purple elephants? Billion-legged? Purple elephants with 105846 legs?

Is there a scientific reason why elephants can't have 1000 legs? Maybe too much body mass to eat for...or maybe we just haven't discovered the ninth force that makes 1000 legs possible but rules out any more or less as impossible.... What about 120 legs, then? Polka-dotted pachyderms? Does Gleiser think somewhere on Earth there may be a (natural) polka-dotted elephant with a head the size of a dump truck? With antlers? That can play Beatles songs on the guitar? Does he keep an open mind or does he say, no, those don't exist.

I think (s)he -- or anyone -- would say such a creature doesn't exist. (S)he wouldn't equivocate about it -- 'jee, we just don't know, ya know?' -- they'd make a definitive statement. Because leaving your mind open to all such possibilities is impossible -- otherwise we'd never have evolved to this stage, we'd never get anything done. If a writer thought he had to worry about the possibility of all the air in his room suddenly gathering in the top northward corner -- a possibility calculated by (I think it was) George Gamow in One, Two, Three Infinity -- he'd never get anything on the page screen. Our minds have to be atheistic on many possibilities in order to get just from one day to the next.

Sure, you could say you're agnostic about that possibility -- jee, we just don't know -- but what's the point of that? To me it seems just a (too) cute rhetorical device to say we ought to be open to a god's existence (a god which no one ever describes in enough detail to seriously envision), the god John Templeton wants you to accept, so read your Bible and say your prayers and tithe to his church. Which is just a way to defend one's belief in a supernatural something even when there is no evidence whatsoever, to have your wafer [and wine] and eat it too. To me that seems to preclude serious thought, not encourage it.

I have no problem, of course, if someone is religious. But I think it's going too far to tell me I ought to be religious because jee, we just don't know. There are too many amazing things in this world that I want to see and learn about for me to spend time on something I've concluded I shouldn't spend any more time on because there's no evidence for it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not a mind so open it can make no sense of the world. Personally I think this world would make more sense and be kinder and more peaceful if religion and its intense belief in things without evidence -- beliefs that lead some of its adherents to violence and wars and horrific, premeditated violations of others -- didn't exist.

People who are kind will be kind whether God exists or not. But people who are not kind too often use religion to hide their unkindness. I think that's what Gleiser's philosophy leads to -- excuses. In other words I don't think his argument is morally neutral. He wants us to ignore arguments -- ignore our way of successfully navigating the world and discovering its workings -- about thousand-legged purple elephants when, and only when, it comes to God.

Anyway, I got that off my chest. What do you think?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Nifty Little Math Equation

Here's a nifty little math problem: evaluate

This video shows one way to do it.

The answer is surprising; scroll down for it:

Added next day: Using a spreadsheet, I calculated this up to n=143 (after which nn gets to large for Excel 365), when the left-hand term is 0.376 734, which differs from 1/e by 2.4%. A pinned comment below the video has a clever way to do the limit:

though the proof of Stirling's approximation is very similar to the method used in the video.

Friday, March 15, 2019

20th Anniversary of the Hockey Stick

Today is the 20th anniversary of the hockey stick paper by Michael Mann, Ray Bradley and Malcolm Hughes that reached back to 1,000 BP.

Jerry Mahlman, a climatologist at GFDL of NOAA, came up with the term "hockey stick graph." Their first graph was for the last 600 years of the northern hemisphere; today's anniversary is for the paper on the last millennium, then Mann and Phil Jones later reconstructed temperatures back to 2000 years BP.

Their work has been attacked like few others in science, but it has held up just fine. No one expected Mann to be the pugilist he turned out to be, who tirelessly fought off everyone at every turn -- auditors, congressman, lawyers and trolls. Sure, it wasn't the last word in temperature reconstruction, but first papers rarely -- for example, the Bohr Model, pre-Einstein papers on Lorentz transformations, the parton model of hadrons, and many many others in science. (I just happen to know the history of physics better than that of any other field.)

Many papers did their part in backing up the HS result by bringing in new data and improving the methodology. Here's a comparison of MBH98 to the PAGES 2k results of a couple years ago, from Stefan Rahmstorf's Facebook page:

One of the particular advancements of MBH was the inclusion of an uncertainty band around the temperatures.

I don't feel like relitigating any of the particulars of a case against the hockey stick, unless someone wants to bring something up in the comments. As I've written before, the hockey stick is required by basic physics, in particular radiative forcing's logarithmic dependence on CO2, which goes back to Arrhenius in 1896. Given that, it's a short argument to the hockey stick, one that can be condensed into a single tweet:
The hockey stick is required by basic physics:
1. temperature change is proportional to forcing change.
2. CO2 forcing change is proportional to log(CO2).
3. CO2 has been increasing exponentially.
=> hockey stick.
(209 characters.) Before the industrial era, the atmospheric CO2 concentration changed little during the Holocene, which implies the flat shaft of the HS. CO2 is increasing exponentially in the industrial era, which implies a linear increase in temperature, which is the blade of the hockey stick.

It'd be far more surprising if there wasn't a hockey stick in the data.

It's been interesting to follow all the twists and turns over the years of the effort to defeat this graph. It would have been interesting to have had social media during some of the big debates in science, such as the debates over the wave or corpuscular view of light, or the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, or the establishment of evolution by natural selection. (Here's a good book on some notable feuds in science.) I'd glad all that mischief is over. Science always wins. 

Thoreau With a Machine Gun

The New Zealand shooting suspect, Brenton Tarrant, apparently said he is introverted, a racist, and an "eco-fascist by nature."

What is an "eco-fascist?" It's not what you might guess at first, which for me was some kind of right-wing climate denier who's sure green policies will be the death of the modern world. (No, that'd be a US Republican congressman.)

Apparently, eco-fascism advocates using the power of the state to enforce green policies, even if that power isn't based in popular elections and democratic processes. Naturally there's nationalism, racism and genocide involved.

Eco-fascists are "the nature-obsessed, anti-Semitic, white supremacists who argue that racial purity is the only way to save the planet."

Which would almost be funny if one of its adherents didn't just kill 49 people in a mosque.

Eco-fascism hardly seems a consistent ideology, but then consistency is about the last thing you can expect with the banality of evil. A few quotes the Reddit forum r/DebateFascism given by journalist Sarah Manavis last year:
"I believe that both the state and the state’s citizens have the right to use all means necessary to save the environment, including murder and sabotage,” one user wrote. “Murder is okay in this case, as combating climate change is sure to save more lives than it could ever hypothetically destroy.”
“To be fair, the Third Reich was one of the earliest governments to make conservationism a major focus,” wrote another.
“What really pisses me off is how everyone associates deep ecology with Communism and far left ideologies, which are deeply rooted in industrialization. It was Nazi Germany that was environmentally aware not Soviet Russia, with the rabid industrialisation,” one said.
“[Eco-fascists] have put the wellbeing of our earth, nature and animal on the forefront of their ideology.... It’s someone who has also turned away from industrial and urbanite society, seeking a more close to earth way of life.”
So, eco-fascists desire to turn away from industrial society, but only after its war engines have punched out the machine gun you need for your terrorism.

We can probably expect the usual cretins to jump on this eco-fascist angle to ensure us that, see, as we've been saying all along, climate change is just a ploy from those who hate humans, hate civilization, and hate themselves, quote unquote.

And see, one of them has gone there already! So banal.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Greta Nominated

Ha! What did I say earlier? Via HuffPost:

Maybe she doesn't have enough accomplishments and experience yet to win. On the other hand, Malala Yousafzai won the Peace Prize when she was 17, just two years after surviving the assassination attempt against her.

From the article:
“I think we have reached a tipping point where enough scientists are telling it like it is and not being so afraid of being alarmist,” Thunberg told New Scientist on Wednesday, adding it’s been frustrating that many people are paying more attention to her age than the issue at hand.

“They talk about our age, our looks and so on,” she continued. “The emissions are still rising and that is all that matters. Nothing has happened, that is crucial to remember.”
She's right about this, too.

Friday, March 08, 2019

All Things Greta

Photo from
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who speaks truth to power, has been named "Women of the Year" by Expressen ("The Express"), one of two nationwide evening newspapers in Sweden. She has an interesting back story (perhaps required nowadays for this kind of celebrity), such as major depression starting when she was five eleven, Asperger's and OCD. (She can also talk backwards.) From their interview of her (via Google's translation, which isn't perfect):
When I was five [should be 11], I went into depression. I felt very bad, cried every rest of the toiletand [sic] went home and finally there was no point at all going to school because I would still have to go home. I also stopped talking and eating. One big reason I was depressed was that I was worried about the climate and the environment. I felt that there was no point in everything when the system was so wrong and I didn't see that I could do anything about it.
Wow, these are very unfair thoughts for any child to have, let alone a 5-year old. Aren't kids being scared unnecessarily? A while back I saw someone on Twitter write that his 9-year old was looking up his life expectancy, and in the process came across some climate catastrophism and started crying. This (false) "we have 12 years to stop climate change" stuff isn't helping.

She also said:
I really do not like attention and being at the center, but one must take that if that is what is required for the media to start reporting on the climate and people should get their eyes up. Then it's a shame to complain. I myself have put myself in this situation.
I predict his girl is either going to become Secretary-General of the United Nations or a shark of a hedge fund manager.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Bloggable Stuff

More Nuclear: Andrew Sullivan has an article about nuclear power in New York Magazine. (He's for it.) I just noticed it and having read it yet.... But I see that he repeated the claim that the cost of the New Green Deal is estimated to be $93 trillion, which is crap ridiculous. (Most of that estimate is due to the costs of the social changes it advocates -- job guarantees, livable wage, etc. But still.)
Cold and wet: NOAA says the average USA48 temperature for February was in the lowest third of Februarys in their 125-year period. It had the second highest February precipitation, only 1/10th of an inch below 1998's record.

Here, Salem, Oregon had the coldest February in 30 years and the 7th-coldest February on record (since 1893). Eight days with snow, which is very unusual. 
Record electricity: US electricity use set a record in 2018, was up 4% compared to the year earlier, largely because, the EIA says, a colder winter and a warmer summer. Cooling degree-days and heating degree-days both show signs of a warming temperature trend:

Here's another interesting graph. I'm guessing (?) the peak in industrial electricity, and the transition around 1980, is mostly due to the transition to a service economy:

Another hockey stick: In Greenland, from an article by Carbon Brief that also debunks an old Don Easterbrook graph that has wormed it's way through the Web. (I'm sure there will be a retraction any time now.)