Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Dogs, Nature’s Supreme Suck-ups

Nick Greene, at Slate, beginning to answer the reader question "I Want a Dog, but My Husband Refuses. Should I Just Do It?"
Humans didn’t always like dogs. According to one widely believed theory, history’s greatest friendship began thousands of years ago when packs of relatively docile wolves began loitering near hunter-gatherer camps to nosh on the leftovers and trash. These proto-pups realized this strategy was far easier than hunting, and so the species began its millennia-long effort to enter our good graces. Wolves evolved into dogs, and nature’s supreme suck-ups now live inside our houses and eat specially formulated food that we invented just for them. Playing the long game worked.

Nevertheless, some Homo sapiens, like your husband, have managed to resist dogs’ charm offensive. You may find it annoying, but you should be happy he’s doing this now and not thousands of years ago. If he had been one of those hunter-gatherers hanging around the campfire, he might have chased away those affable wolves and changed the course of human and canine history forever. Who knows, we could all be snuggling with our domesticated possums right now.
Nick Greene usually cover sports at Slate, and he's an interesting, funny, off-kilter writer who I always read.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Trump on Wind (Oy Vey)

On Saturday impeached President Trump gave a speech to the conservative student group Turning Point USA. He talked about wind power, and it went like most things do with Trump:
“I never understood wind,” Trump said, according to Mediaite. “I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous — if you are into this — tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right?”
Suddenly Trump is the world's expert on wind. Suddenly he notices we have a world. Apparently doesn't connect that to his administration's policies on the environment.
“So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, is going into the air,” the president added.
Suddenly Trump cares about something's carbon footprint.
“A windmill will kill many bald eagles,” he said, according to Mediate. “After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?”
Suddenly Trump cares about birds.

As The Hill pointed out, wind turbines kill about 1/6th the number of birds that cats do. And coal and oil and gas kill many millions.

PS: That first sentence, "I know windmills very much" -- sounds like something a 3rd grader would say. Help us.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Reading of the Urgenda Verdict

Here's an abbreviated reading of the Urgenda case in the Netherlands, with English subtitles. It's only 18 minutes long, and clearly stated (as far as legal language goes). It's a dream for anyone wanting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions -- the court took the science into account (which the two parties did not dispute), explained why it has jurisdiction, then gave the verdict, ruling the government must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). (Court costs are to be paid by the Dutch government, but they didn't look too high.) I don't yet know the numbers or how onerous and difficult these cuts will be.

Update: According to the BP Statistical Review 2019, the Netherlands emitted 196 Mt CO2 in 1990 and 203 Mt CO2 in 2018. So they have their work cut out for them. A 25% drop from 1990 would be 2020 emissions of 147 Mt CO2, so it's actually a 28% drop from 2018. That seems near impossible.

Watching this, it seems to me that the ruling was made on the basis of Dutch civil law, not on their adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights. But I'm not lawyer and would be happy to hear from anyone who is, or others here who followed the verdict better than I did.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Historic Urgenda climate ruling upheld by Dutch Supreme Court

"The Netherlands' Supreme Court upheld the landmark ruling in Urgenda v. the Netherlands, announcing its decision on Friday that governments have a human rights duty to protect their citizens from climate change."


Stoat has more, and some opinions.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


Oh yeah, and Australia had its warmest day on record -- a national average of 40.9°C. Beat the old record by 0.6°C, which was set in 2013.

For nonmetricians, that's 105.6°F and an old record of 104.5°F.

Forecasters say it may be broken today or tomorrow.

"Extreme heat is the number one weather-related killer in Australia."

+drought +wildfires. Good think global warming is a hoax.

Sperm Whale Sockets and Other Interesting Things

Nature lists its "ten people who mattered in science in 2019" (with interesting stories for each one). The only two I recognize are Great Thunberg and Sandra Díaz, a co-chair on the big biodiversity report that came out this year.

A climate donnybrook in Congress involving familiar names. Soon they're going to have to ban swords, hatchets and axes.

From 2015: "New analysis of records stretching back 400 years to the observations of Renaissance scientist Galileo shows that global warming is not the result of solar activity."

This NY Times photo-essay on clouds photographed by members of the Cloud Appreciation Society is interesting and even moving.

A economics textbook by Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw sells for $280. He may have made as much as $42 million from sales of this book.

Did you know that sperm whales don't have upper teeth, but sockets for their lower teeth?

Monday, December 16, 2019

November Temperatures

November surface temperatures are in. NOAA, GISS and JMA all found November 2019 to be the 2nd warmest in their records, after the big El Nino season in 2015.

2019 will be the 2nd warmest year in the records. The last five years have been the last five warmest years.

Of note: the GISS land-only temperature anomaly for November is +1.78°C relative to 1880-1909 (= +3.20°F). It smashed the old November record by a whopping 0.18°C.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Expanse Season 4

The Expanse season 4 is now on Amazon Prime. I watched a lot of it last night. It's very good -- humans have started to go through to Ring Gates to the many solar systems (1,700 it said somewhere) on the other side. Much of S4 takes place on an alien planet called "Ilus." The planet is too jacked-up to be representative of hard science fiction, which I prefer, but there are market considerations to be made.

At this point a lot has gone on in the previous three seasons -- you might want to watch a recap, which I didn't do but wish I had. By now there's a lot to remember and a lot of alliances and enemies to keep track of. I think the problem is, for me, that binging on a show's season in a day or two doesn't register the details inside me as does a week-by-week show where everything is doled out more slowly (it seems). Maybe it's the I'm just a dumb boomer (but only by a few years!) and will never quite think on Internet time. Maybe I just have a bad memory.

All the main characters are back, including my favorite, Camina Drummer, played by Cara Gee. She's now an OPA (Outer Planets Alliance) leader, who seems to have gotten a promotion this season to a central position. The Roci's Amos is as big a loveable, muscular, dead-eye golute as ever, who takes ever more responsibilities but never disappoints. At least not yet. (The Expanse is much less quick to kill off characters than Game of Thrones, for sure. Even some -- well, one -- of those who die, didn't really.)

Also, props to Bobbie, an alert, aware, hard-core cool marine to her core. Maybe.

Events move pretty fast through the S4 episodes, and if you can watch only one episode at a time you're a better person than I am.

To finish, I'll comment finally on some of the quick transitional screenshots shown between scenes -- the large seawall around Manhattan (to the right), the even larger seawalls around Denmark, and a very quick shot of the southeastern US at night, showing Florida broken up into several islands. Is saving Manhattan really going to be as simple as erecting humongous steel walls along all its coasts and rivers, going up, for the Hudson, many miles I'm guessing? (Dozens of miles?) Alas, I'll likely never get to know.

PS: I miss Naomi's S1 haircut.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Bigots and Misogynists Come Out in Force Against Thunberg

Sure enough, the bigots showed up to denigrate and smear Greta Thunberg for being chosen as Time magazine's Person of the Year. Here's Eric Worrall at WUWT:

with a picture of Thunberg mocked up to show a halo around her. Of course there are vile comments from vile commenters, whom 99% are cocksure global warming is false, is a hoax, is about to end, has ended, etc (despite the fact that it keeps getting warmer).

This guy thinks he knows just what's wrong with her:

This guy thinks the real problem is that she's...talking. He just wants her to shut up:

Here's a real women-hater:

And finally, there's this inevitable, unoriginal comparison:

The misogynists at Gateway Pundit gang up to denigrate her, and for good measure Chelsea Clinton too:

and of course the Misogynist-in-Chief can't handle losing to a 16-year old girl, gives her advice that he himself should take:

This is about all the hate I can handle right now....

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Greta Thunberg Time's Person of the Year

Time magazine just made Greta Thunberg their Person of the Year.

Excellent choice, which brings attention not just to her but to the climate change problem in general.

And it ought to infuriate even more all the middle-aged white climate denying men who can't abide someone speaking their mind -- especially when it's a female. They'll only look more foolish (than they already have) attacking a 16-year old girl. They're turning from climate change deniers to bigots -- or more likely, their bigotry was there all along, but it's now coming out their every pore.


Added: And she was chosen over Trump, who was one of three finalists not chosen. Other two were Nancy Pelosi and the U.S. whistleblower. Whatcha wanna bet he can't simply congratulate her sincerely?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Help Me Understand the AMOC

I'm confused about the AMOC, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. I thought it carried heat from the Gulf of Mexico northward to Europe, like this:

But now I see this University of Washington press release about a Nature paper, and the press release gives this view of the AMOC:

The directions seem reversed. So which is it??

The Problem of Space Debris

I like this quote. Read about the Kessler Syndrome if you don't know about it. I wrote about it for Yale Climate Connections several years ago, as an example of a big problem that was long foreseen but ignored until (perhaps) it's too late.

Image from Nature Briefing.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Castigating Greta

On Watts' blog Eric Worrall calls Greta Thunberg a "climate messiah."

Delingpole calls her a "climate puppet" and a "Marxist." Earlier he called her St Greta of Thunberg."

In August Aaron Banks in England wrote "Freak yachting accidents do happen in August..."

And of course there have been many insults about her mental health, simply because she is on the autism spectrum and has been open about it.

Sometimes I think these hard core deniers are just worse people human beings.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

US Coal Production Under Trump

It's not going up:

When he campaigned in 2016, Trump said:
On Thursday, Trump drew wild applause in Charleston, W.Va., by telling miners in hard hats and reflective stripes to get ready to be "working your asses off" in reopened mines if he's elected. Some people waved signs saying, "Trump digs coal," and the business tycoon joked about needing a spritz of hair spray after trying on a miner's helmet, the gift of an industry group.

"I'm thinking about the miners all over this country," Trump said. "We're gonna put the miners back to work. We're gonna put the miners back to work. We're gonna get those mines open."
It was another lie.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

2019 Global CO2 Emissions, Up 0.6%

The Global Carbon Project says 2019's global CO2 emissions will be 0.6% higher than 2018's. An increase, but less of an increase than for the last two years.

The Way It Is, December Third, Two-Thousand Nineteen

UAH modeled November 2019 to be the warmest November in the lower troposphere in their records. UAH.

AVISO's latest global sea level number is the highest in their records. This is with "near real-time" data analysis. We'll see after it gets fully processed.

The reading and math scores of 15-year old US students have not improved in two decades. Their latest scores were "slightly above average in terms of reading ability but below the math skills level of peer nations." Which country's students came in first? Do you really have to ask?

I can't think of a better way to win the future than to have your 15-year olds lead the world in reading and math scores. Whatever your system of government.

A dead whale was found to have 220 pounds (100 kg) of debris in its stomach. How terribly sad.

Trump's tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports have cost about 62,000 US jobs. That's more than the entire employment of the coal industry here.

World per capita coal consumption is flat-to-declining again, after increasing about 30% last decade:

Data from BP's 2019 Statistical Review. Coal mass is converted to energy units using their value of 1 toe = 4.187e10 J for modern power plants. "toe" = ton of oil equivalent. 

PS: Apologies for the headline to Walter Cronkite.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Subsidized Rebuilding and Subsided Insurance

Bay St Louis, Mississippi:

But some people are being forced to leave. Read this great article from CityLab, which also includes this table:

This is the highest value I've yet seen for lost property value.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Ronald Bailey Still Gets It Wrong!

I see that Ronald Bailey of Reason tried to correct his recent long article on climate change, after what I wrote here. But he still gets it wrong, and still shows he doesn't understand the basics.

His correction says:

The problem isn't with the thickness number! It's with the whole concept of acceleration!

His correction is very fuzzy and doesn't address the problem in any way.

The problem is that acceleration isn't measured in millimeters, or feet, or any unit of length. It's measured in units of length per time-squared (say, mm per year-squared).

Did Bailey take basic physics? Or did he forget it all?

How come people who don't know science get jobs writing for a place for decades, and I'm still struggling as a freelancer? Must be my noxious personality.

The First Big Pollution Event

I like this cartoon from Stoat:

If you don't get it, it refers to the "Great Oxidation Event" of about 2.3 B years ago, a situation sort of like 'your terrorist is my freedom fighter.'

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Key West's Sea Level Rise

Perhaps you read the NYT article on sea level rise in Key West, Florida. (Or, as Esquire put it, "The Great Chinese Climate Hoax Is Recreating Venice in the Florida Key.") People there have been dealing with sea level for almost three months now. I looked for the sea level data for Key West, and October had the highest value ever.

click to enlarge

Sea level there is about 210 mm (8 inches) higher than last October. Another view is

click to enlarge

Right now I'm not in the mood to calculate the error bars. Calculation of error bars is left as an exercise for the reader.

Residents there want their roads raised:
Monroe County, Florida
Elevating a third of the county’s 300 miles of roads could cost $1 billion, Ms. Haag said. “We are the most vulnerable county in the state, if not the nation.”
That works out to $1,900 per foot. Monroe County, Florida has about 78,000 residents, but Key West is only 25,000. So a billion dollars to raise roads is $40,000 per resident. It seems to me difficult to justify that, for a place that is going under anyway. (If the roads don't, beaches and yards and parking lots will. What about freshwater? What about insurance? Who would write a mortgage on any building there put up for sale?) But I don't expect that would stop the federal government, who is going to face a lot of these situations and will want to look like they're doing something, at least to stop the clamor. And there'll be a lot of sympathy for vulnerable residents -- at least until the costs get too high. It's a difficult situation and will be ever more dire. In a hundred years the thing most remembered about Trump will be his idiocy and (by then) criminality on climate change.

What do you think?

PS: In 2016 Monroe County voted 51.0% for Trump, 44.1% for HClinton.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Mann Lawsuit Update: Supreme Court Declines to Hear

From Bloomberg Environment:
The Supreme Court won’t step into a legal dispute between a prominent climate scientist and a pair of conservative organizations that questioned his work and compared him to a convicted child molester.

The justices on Nov. 25 declined to review an appeal from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Review, which want to stop climate scientist Michael E. Mann from pursuing defamation claims against them.
Mann is quoted:
“We are pleased with this nearly unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to deny the appeal” in the defamation case, he said in an email. “We are looking forward to the trial.”
From here:
The case goes back to the local-level Superior Court of the District of Columbia... The proceedings are currently in the discovery phase, with both sides collecting documents to support their arguments.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

One Ton of TNT

100 t TNT
Did you know that "one ton of TNT" = 1 billion calories, by definition?

I just stumbled on this when I used the Hiroshima bomb strength of 63 TJ = 15 kt TNT and found 1 t TNT = 4,184,000,000 J and I recognized the "4184" from converting joules to calories. Sure enough it's true.

And it seems this is a metric ton -- I always thought "ton of TNT" meant a British ton (2000 lbs).

Also, 1 t TNT = 1,162 kWh. I would have guessed it was a lot bigger. I used 0.75 t TNT of electricity last month. (Electric heat, unfortunately.)


Friday, November 22, 2019

Ronald Bailey Can't Get the Simple Stuff Right

Ron Bailey at Reason wrote a long essay about global warming in which he saw fit to cite Tony Heller (aka Steve Goddard), the Washington Examiner and other drips who have no intersection with the scientific realm. Maybe he's been a denier at-heart so long he just can't help it.

Even still he couldn't get the most simple part of the science right:
A February 2018 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences based on satellite altimeter data reported that sea-level rise at 3 millimeters per year has accelerated at a rate of +0.084 millimeters (about half the thickness of a penny) since 1993.
This isn't just a typo -- Bailey clearly does not understand what acceleration means. (It's not a length, i.e. acceleration isn't measured in units of length [millimeters]. It can't be compared to a penny, anymore than a quart can be compared to an hour.)

I'm a firm believer that if a science writer (or anyone) can't understand the most basic parts of the science, he/she gets no say on the more complicated stuff -- regardless of his/her ultimate conclusion.

The 9s Math Wall Clock

You can order here. (I don't get any money if you do -- just through this was a cool idea.) All 9s in base 10. All square roots taken as positive.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Another Community Grappling with Sea Level Rise

I think the press has caught on, because I'm seeing more and more stories about east coast towns and cities dealing with sea level rise. The other day was this NYT story about Virginia Beach saying no to developers that wanted to build new homes in more frequently flooding wetlands. Today is this well crafted story and video by Tom Horton at Yale e360 about a community, Money Island, on the Delaware Bay in southern New Jersey.

The video isn't embeddable, so you'll have to go there to watch it. But it's worth the 15 minutes. It's a very visceral portrait of real people dealing with the economic and emotional consequences of the rising sea level that is slowly drowning their much loved community. Trump should watch it.

New Jersey's Blue Acres program has been buying out homes there, about 300 of 1500 in five years, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This is going to happen along coasts everywhere -- it will be taxpayers who make home owners whole, because the homeowners can't be expected to just write off the value of their largest asset. It also shows how the demise of these communities will accelerate once it begins, as their tax base erodes as people begin leaving and the land left behind turns into tax-exempt open spaces. (Money Island has lost $15 million off their tax base so far.) That leaves less money to deal with the effects of rising tides on roads and other infrastructure. It's a downward spiral.

The operative word is "undevelopment." We're going to be seeing a lot more of that as time goes by.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What If You Removed All Greenhouse Gases*

This animation by Chris Colose of NASA GISS shows what would happen to the Earth if all noncondensing greenhouse gases* (CO2, CH4, N2O...but not water vapor) were removed from the atmosphere: most of the planet would freeze over:

Raymond Pierrehumbert has a nice paragraph in his textbook that explains more:
"One sometimes hears it remarked cavalierly that water vapor is the 'most important' greenhouse gas in the Earth's atmosphere. The misleading nature of such statements can be inferred directly from Fig 4.31.... If water vapor were the only greenhouse gas in the Earth's atmosphere, the temperature would be a chilly 268 K [< 0°C], and that's even before taking ice-albedo feedback into account, which would most likely cause the Earth to fall into a frigid Snowball state.... With regard to Earth's habitability, it takes two [water vapor and CO2] to tango."

- Raymond Pierrehumbert, Principles of Planetary Climate, (2011) p. 271

Monday, November 18, 2019

What Bothered Serge Lang

Serge Lang.jpgBesides being a great mathematician in (but not limited to) number theory, Serge Lang was an activist who spoke out on a great many topics. For example, in 1971 he resigned his position at Columbia University to protest their treatment of anti-war protestors without having another job lined up. (A year later Yale offered him a position). He also disliked the use of sloppy mathematics in the social sciences -- for example, he successfully lobbied (twice) against a membership in the National Academy of Scientists for Harvard political scientist Samuel P Huntington, who used pseudo-mathematical arguments to prove that 1960s South Africa was a "satisfied society." In an earlier protest (1981) of the 1979 book The 1977 Survey of the American Professoriate, he wrote this, which is not just very elegant but unfortunately seems exponentially more relevant today in all areas of society:
I don't like the nonsense that passes for rational discourse so often in our society. I am very much bothered by the inaccuracies, ambiguities, code words, slogans, catch phrases, public relation devices, sweeping generalizations, and stereotypes, which are used (consciously or otherwise) to influence people.

I am bothered by the inability of many to recognize these for what they are. I am bothered by the way people fudge issues, or are unable to clarify them, sometimes because they are inhibited by "collegiality" and other forms of intimidation (sometimes subtle, sometimes not). Most people put up with the nonsense without doing anything about it (unable or unwilling, for whatever reason - inertia, lack, of energy, lack of interest, lack of time, etc.), often falling into cynicism and despair.

I am bothered by the misinformation which gets disseminated uncritically through the media and by the obstructions which prevent correct information from being disseminated. These obstructions come about in many ways - personal, institutional, through self-imposed inhibitions, through external inhibitions, through outright dishonesty, through incompetence - the list is a long one.

I am bothered by the way misinformation, disguised as scholarship, is used in social, political, and educational contexts to affect policy decisions.

I am bothered by the way misinformation is accepted uncritically, and by the way people are unable to recognize it or reject it.

Friday, November 15, 2019

GISS: Temperature Rise Accelerating?

NASA GISS reported their surface temperature numbers for October.
globally: 2nd warmest October (1.04°C)
Northern Hemisphere: warmest October (1.34°C)
Southern Hemisphere: 3rd warmest October (0.75°C)
land-only: warmest October (1.34°C)
The graphs are looking alarming. For the globe:

That sure looks like an acceleration.... So does this, also for the globe:

Land-only warming is now 1.33°C (2.39°F). It's 30-yr trend is +0.28°C. It also looks to be accelerating:

Climategate Retrospective

Tempus fugit. It's been 10 years since the hacked emails of Climategate were released. (Wikileaks has the files.)

It was an interesting chapter, and it may have scuttled anything meaningful coming out of the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, which was held only a few weeks after the hack, which was its apparent goal. IFIRC there was a lot of hope going into that conference, and maybe the world was ready then to follow Al Gore and do something meaningful to address climate change. Would it have mattered? I don't know, but given that it's 10 years later and we're still struggling to do anything meaningful about climate might indicate a solid agreement at Copenhagen wouldn't have mattered much -- or, at least, not more than the Kyoto Protocol, whose targets were blown right past. I think the world would still be doing as little as it is today to address climate change even if the hacked emails hadn't been released -- the people making the big decisions aren't motivated by the science or what scientists wrote to each other about the science, they're motivated by (it seems to me) keeping the fossil fuel industry happy. (Even Obama, who wanted it both ways.) But maybe I'm wrong.

I was mentioned four times, I think, in the Climategate emails. They were very minor and I'm not going to pretend I mattered and I only got a couple of harassing emails from it. (Who know what it would be like if it happened in today's Internet environment.)
From: "Chris de Freitas" <c.defreitas@auckland.ac.nz>
To: Inter-Research Science Publisher <ir@int-res.com>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 13:45:56 +1200
Subject: Re: Climate Research
Reply-to: c.defreitas@auckland.ac.nz
CC: m.hulme@uea.ac.uk
Priority: normal
X-mailer: Pegasus Mail for Win32 (v3.12c)
Otto (and copied to Mike Hulme)
I have spent a considerable amount of my time on this matter and had my integrity attacked in the process. I want to emphasize that the people leading this attack are hardly impartial observers. Mike himself refers to "politics" and political incitement involved. Both Hulme and Goodess are from the Climate Research Unit of UEA that is not particularly well known for impartial views on the climate change; The CRU has a large stake in climate change research funding as I understand it pays the salaries of most of its staff.  I understand too the journalist David Appell was leaked information to fuel a public attack.
Presumably this pertains to an article I was reporting for Scientific American about the 2003 Soon and Baliunas paper that came out 6 days after De Freitas's email. But his claim was untrue -- I was never leaked any information. (If only I was so fortunate.) Any information I had I received by simple reporting -- making phone calls and sending emails. I don't consider that article an "attack," just journalism. You can see that in another email, by Ross McKitrick:
From: Tim Osborn <t.osborn@uea.ac.uk>
To: "Phil Jones" <p.jones@uea.ac.uk>,"Keith Briffa" <k.briffa@uea.ac.uk>
Subject: Fwd: Re: McIntyre-McKitrick and Mann-Bradley-Hughes
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 2003 16:12:53 +0000
>From: "Sonja.B-C" <Sonja.B-C@hull.ac.uk>
>Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2003 15:58:06 +0000
>To: Steve McIntyre <smcintyre@cgxenergy.com>
>Subject: Re: McIntyre-McKitrick and Mann-Bradley-Hughes
>Cc: L.A.Love@hull.ac.uk, Tim Osborn <t.osborn@uea.ac.uk>,
>         Ross McKitrick <rmckitri@uoguelph.ca>
>Priority: NORMAL
>X-Mailer: Execmail for Win32 5.1.1 Build (10)
>Dear Steve
>Please send your material for comment direct to Tim, Osborne.I
>would like to publish the whole debate early next year, but
>'respectful' comments in the meantime can only help and the CRU people
>seem genuinely interested and have integrity. I have never heard of
>such bad behaviour here as appears to have been the case between
>Sallie and Soon and the rest..the US adversarial system and too many
>As you know ,the  contact is Tim Osborn <t.osborn@uea.ac.uk> and I take
>the liberty to forward this to him now. You seem to suggest that this
>is welcome and are making make direct comments on his remarks to me
>concerning your paper.
>We shall get the printed proof, as a  single electronic file today, and
>shall look through it early next week. I am sure you do not want to see
>your paper again?  I think that adding anymore now (the exchanges
>between you and Mann/Bradley and perhaps now Tim as well)  is  premature
>and we shall wait until the next issue. Mann is said to be writing
>something, but he has not yet contacted me, though I just hang up on
>that journalist Appell who keeps on ringing. I told him that I will
>deal only directly with Mann. What cheek, after threatening me with
>litigation...Just keep me in the loop. Thanks.
The other mention was something I'm proud of:
From: Keith Briffa To: "Michael E. Mann" , Tom Wigley , Phil Jones
, rbradley@geo.umass.edu
Subject: Re: Soon et al. paper
Date: Tue May 20 16:07:41 2003
Cc: Jerry Meehl
, Caspar Ammann , mann@virginia.edu

Mike and Tom and others
My silence to do with the specific issue of the Soon and Baliunas conveys general strong agreement with all the general remarks (and restatement of many in various forms ) by Tom Crowley, Mike Mann, Neville Nichols and now Tom Wigley regarding the scientific value of the paper and its obvious methodological flaws. I have to say that I tended towards the "who cares" camp , in as much as those who are concerned about the science should see through it anyway . I also admit to thinking that some of you seem a little paranoid (especially in the implication that Climate Research is a pro sceptic journal) but I am changing my mind regarding the way the "meaning" of the BS paper is being presented to the wider public - in response to some very poor recent reporting in the British press and several requests from the US that indicate that those of you who work there can not simply rely on the weight of good science eventually showing through as regards the public perception . As Tom W. states , there are uncertainties and "difficulties" with our current knowledge of Hemispheric temperature histories and valid criticisms or shortcomings in much of our work. This is the nature of the beast - and I have been loathe to become embroiled in polarised debates that force too simplistic a presentation of the state of the art or "consensus view". Having read Tom W's and Mike's latest statements I now agree about the need to make some public comment on BS . (I too have given my personal view of the work to David Appell who I assume is writing a balanced view of this paper for Scientific American).
I'm proud that a good scientist like Briffa assumed I would be writing a balanced article, because that's what I always try to do. ("Balanced" doesn't mean a 50-50, he-said she-said article type.)


Finally, when Climategate v2.0 broke in November 2011, I wrote some things that were way wrong and I don't mind admitting it. I regret not taking more time to think about things. I wrote:
On a second reading of the stolen UAE UEA emails leaked today, and just reading the README file emails, these sound worse than I thought at first – their impact will be devastating.
Their impact wasn't anything like "devastating." I should have known better.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Andrew Yang's Statistics(?)

Andrew Yang isn't going to win the Democratic presidential primary and probably not even be asked to be run as vice-president on the ticket. (Alas.) But he is doing a good job of pointing out the risks of automation.

But I can't follow some of his statistics. In an opinion piece in today's NY Times he wrote
Our economic numbers need to measure what matters. We know stock market prices don’t mean much to the 78 percent of workers in this country who are living paycheck to paycheck or the 40 percent of workers who are a $400 bill away from financial crisis.
But if 40% of workers are $400 away from a bill that will put them in a financial crisis, then 60% of workers aren't in that position -- they apparently have at least $400 in savings, so are not living paycheck to paycheck.

How then can 78% of workers be living paycheck to paycheck, if 60% of workers aren't?

Am I missing something?

PS: I sympathize greatly with anyone who can't afford the health care they need. This is just a technical question.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Movie Recommendations

I watched a couple of good sci-fi movies recently that are worth recommending.

Anymore it seems like sci-fi movies are the only movies I'm interested in. (But not books, so far.) I'm not sure why, since I didn't grow up steeped in sci-fi. I watched and liked Star Trek (the original series), and read books like 1984 and Animal Farm and Brave New World, but not Asimov's fiction or Heinlein or pulp sci fi. (I did read a lot of Asimov's nonfiction during my teens.) I never got into comic books or superheroes or such. I still can't get into them. The harder the sci-fi, the more I like it.

I did read a lot of Heinlein's fiction later in my 20s. Saw Asimov at a sci-fi con in Stony Brook. Looked kinda like a sad gig for him.

The two films I saw recently that I'll recommend are Apollo 18 and Automata.

Apollo 18 (2011) is about a last, secret Apollo mission to the Moon -- "found footage" (like the Blair Witch Trial) -- that tells the story of one last Moon landing on behalf of the Department of Defense. It's a little cliched in terms of (...spoiler alert...) what the astronauts find there, which are extraterrestrials but not an especially interesting kind. (They creep and crawl, and can exist in a vacuum. Boo.) But it's a good story with a great deal of verisimilitude, which is what these recovered footage films live or die on. This one lives. 7.5 of 10.

Automata (2014) is a film I saw a while back but forgot about, so watching it again was a pleasant surprise. It's really quite innovative with a hard, realistic edge, about (...spoiler alert...) an insurance adjuster who must find out why a robot in his dystopian era of manmade robots has started to self-repair. Such repairs and improvements are a violation of the "second protocol" of the robot's programming (similar to Asimov's laws of robotics, but with only two). But the automata have been learning and growing and evolving and getting rather creepy, with, in the end, nothing humans can do to stop them. Antonio Banderas is really excellent in this movie, and so unlike what I remember seeing of him in the '90s. He carries the entire movie, which is set in a novel environment, with some great minor characters played by pre lip job Melanie Griffith and by Dylan McDermott from The Practice. 8.5 out of 10.

Other than these, you can always watch another episode of Firefly. They never get old. Afterward you can cry (again) that so few episodes were ever made.

Ocean Acidification is Accelerating...

...in the western north Pacific. Not a surprise:
In the Subtropical Frontal zone, we found that the mean rate of acidification tracked the acceleration of the atmospheric CO2 increase; during 2008–2017 the rate of acidification was 30% faster than during 1983–2017.
However, using the monthly Mauna Loa CO2 readings, I find its average from 2008-2017 was 395.5 ppm, while its average from 1983-2017 was 371.6 ppm. An increase of only 6.4%.


Thursday, November 07, 2019

An El Nino This Winter?

It was a very cold October here in Oregon -- the statewide average was 4th-lowest since 1895, according to NOAA's data. 2019's average temperature will very likely be below the 1980-2010 baseline, which hasn't happened since 2011.

In other news, German organizations are forecasting an El Nino this winter by the end of 2020 and spring. This is the first I've seen of such a call.
Early warning: Physicists from Giessen, Potsdam and Tel Aviv forecast "El Niño" for 2020

Researchers at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, find that there will probably be another "El Niño" by the end of 2020. The prediction models commonly used do not yet see any signs of this.
Take that for what it's worth. The NINO 3.4 region has been all over the place in recent months, but not above 0.5 C, the threshold for El Nino events:

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

My Apology to Nic Lewis

Today I sent the following email to Nicolas (Nic) Lewis. I'm posting it here with his permission. Also, I've amended my Nov 15th post of last year to note this apology.
Dear Mr. Lewis,

I'd like to apologize to you for a comment I made after you critiqued Resplandy et al. I wrote a blog post on Nov 15th titled "Nic Lewis Owes Resplandy et al an Apology." I thought you were quick to criticize them for a lack of a quick response, and somewhat still do, but that now seems minor in light of their retraction. I regret my blog post and extend an apology to you.

With your permission I'll post this email to on my blog, and also point to it right under the title of my Nov 15th post, so Google searches see it.


He has kindly accepted my apology.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Ocean Heat Content and a Lost Island in Chesapeake Bay

The 3rd quarter numbers for ocean heat content are in. Needless to say, the trend continues.

Both the 0-700 m region and the 0-2000 m region will very likely set records for the year, which is usually the case these days.

Also, an educational center on Fox Island in the Chesapeake Bay is closing due to sea level rise. The Fox Island Environmental Education Center run by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been on the island for 40 years, but due to "sea level rise and erosion" protective salt marshes have washed away; they had reduced the impact of wind and waves on the center. "Over the past 50 years, more than 70 percent of the island’s land area washed away."

Fox Island is only about 5 miles from Tangier Island, which is also being lost despite strong denialism there and the promises of President Trump.

Here's a 25-year comparison:

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Carbon Savings From the Internet

This is a little interesting: a plot of real US GDP (in 2012 dollars) versus miles driven by all Americans:

It shows a clear shift around 1995, just when the Internet came up -- US GDP took off relative to the miles driven by Americans.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Oops on Older Comments

I have to apologize -- I failed to sort through the comments here that were flagged as possible spam, and found several that were real comments. I just approved them. I only moderate comments that are > 14 days old, to reduce spam, but get about 2-4 flagged comments a day, 90+% of which are spam. But I neglected to look for a few months. There were over 900 there, so I might have missed a few from several months back. Sorry.

I'll try to do better.

Guest Post: Climate Implications of the Canadian Election

Guest post by: Layzej

In a recent episode of "Patriot Act", Hassan Minhaj took Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to task for the Liberal government's apparently inconsistent position on climate change.

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Trudeau proclaimed "There is no country on the planet that can walk away from the challenge and reality of climate change."

But Minhaj pointed out that just months earlier at an energy conference in Texas he said, "No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there."

"Does he think you can just do both of those things?" Minhaj asked "Because we did the math and there is no overlap."

On policy the Liberal government appears just as conflicted. On the one hand they have implemented a revenue neutral carbon tax to curb demand for fossil fuels. The tax would encourage consumers to adopt alternatives to fossil fuels and stimulate the development of alternative technologies. Since the tax is revenue neutral, all profits generated would be returned to the taxpayer in the form of rebates. Economists largely agree that a carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary.

But at the same time the Trudeau government is working aggressively on an oil pipeline expansion that would triple the existing pipeline's capacity to 890,000 barrels a day and bring Alberta's oil to an international market. This effort included nationalizing the pipeline project at a cost of $4.5 billion, after the company that owned the pipeline threatened to cancel the project in the face of mounting opposition.

Canada's oil sands are the third largest oil reserves in the world -- they account for 10% of the world's oil reserves. Some have argued that fully exploiting the Canadian reserves would mean "game over" for the climate. According to Prof James Hansen, "We are getting close to the dangerous level of carbon in the atmosphere and if we add on to that unconventional fossil fuels, which have a tremendous amount of carbon, then the climate problem becomes unsolvable."

In the “Patriot Act” interview, Trudeau justified the apparent contradiction by claiming that the intent was not to increase production, but only to ship the product more efficiently. While it is true that a pipeline is a more efficient means of delivery than tuck or rail, it is not true that tripling pipeline capacity would not result in increased production. Trudeau did not provide a coherent defense of his government’s position.

But the position is defensible. Canada is doing its part to curb its own fossil fuel demand. If every country followed Canada’s lead and implemented a carbon tax, we could start to move more aggressively towards the new energy economy. It is true that Canada could diminish the global supply of oil by leaving its resources in the ground, but eliminating 10% of the world’s oil would not go far in diminishing the global appetite for fossil fuels.

It seems unreasonable for Americans Hansen and Minhaj to ask Canadians to not only address their own fossil fuel consumption, but to bear the burden of reducing global consumption as well. The United States is a country without a national climate strategy. Canada has demonstrated a strategy that can work. It’s time for America, and the world, to catch up.

Layzej is a long-time commenter on this site.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Annual Increases in CO2 Emissions

BP has released its Statistical Review of World Energy 2019, which always looks authoritative because there are many pages of numbers all neatly aligned in rows and columns, and that's what counts, right.

They give lots of data on energy generation, such as
  •  renewable energy generation in 2018 was up 14.5% compared to 2017, but that's only 1/3rd of the total power increase.
  • Coal consumption was up 1.4%.
  • "Global energy demand grew by 2.9% and carbon emissions grew by 2.0% in 2018, faster than at any time since 2010-11." 
  • "The United States recorded the largest-ever annual production increases by any country for both oil and natural gas, the vast majority of increases coming from onshore shale plays."
Here are some CO2 emission numbers. The US annual increase was greater than both China's and the world's. For energy we were even hoggier than we were before.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Mess in California

The power outage in California is making a mess of some people's lives.

  • a woman had to spend the night in her wheelchair because her special air mattress with circulating air to avoid pressure wounds deflated. She thought the outage wasn't going to happen to the next day.
  • a man with COPD who relies on an oxygen generator was feeling congested and short of breath.
  • a paraplegic with a bone disease that requires a powered wheelchair, and a pump to keep blood circulating in his legs, said he won't be able to withstand a few hours without power. “I can’t be moving around too much because my wheelchair will die within a couple hours.”
This seems especially believable:
Napa resident Gina Biter-Mundt said that’s a common problem among people who have health issues — they lack the mobility or the money to prepare appropriately, even if they are well informed.
But the article does say "there had been no reports of individuals in immediate danger due to the outages."

Cost estimates range from $65 M to $2.5 B, though some economists say it's not calculable. PG&E has no plans to reimburse anyone.

To the extent climate change is involved in this -- deeper drought perhaps, hotter temperatures and hotter win -- this might open some eyes. Perhaps Hurricane Katrina did as well, and maybe Hurricane Maria and this year's Hurricane Humberto in the Bermudas and 40 inches of rain dumped onto Houston -- twice in three years. This is an interesting thought:
“It’s not worth the risk to them,” Alan Scheller-Wolf said about PG&E’s decision to preemptively shut off power. He said the utility “might be signaling to the powers that be that the business environment of providing power to people is fundamentally changing and they need help adjusting to it.”

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

CA Blackout: "Another version of the problem"

An article in Slate by April Glaser, a Californian, gives a good picture of the blackout situation in California and failures of the power company, PG&E.
It’s true that the lights can go off at any time due to a storm. This happens to all of us at some point in our lives. But this feels different. It usually happens because of a natural disaster, like a snow or thunderstorm. This is primarily an unnatural disaster, a disaster of neglected maintenance of power lines owned by PG&E. It feels like the company doesn’t want to be blamed for another tragedy, so it’s just shutting the whole thing down. It also feels like the company doesn’t realize that real people are trying to live here—that this is not a solution, but another version of the problem.

California Shutting off Power!

If it comes to a dystopia this will seem one early step down the road. Power companies in California are shutting off power to 800,000 people in 31 counties because of the potential for wildfires in the current windy, dry conditions.

That's difficult to believe, but it started today at midnight -- about 513,000 customers without power in 22 counties. A second phase starts at noon today for another 234,000 customers, and the remainder later. Officials don't know how long it will last -- it could be several days, as they inspect every inch centimeter of their power lines .

There have actually been two previous shutoffs this year, one iSeptember and last weekend, but on a much smaller scale (just three counties). I haven't read about what the impacts might have happened for those.

But this seems kind of crazy. Just imagine: no hot showers. No hot food. Everything in your refrigerator could spoil. No easy way to charge your cell phone (you can always do it in your car, assuming you have one). No use of medical equipment like CPAP machines and ventilators. No Internet, unless perhaps if cell towers are still working. Street lights? Presumably hospitals already have generators, but what about grocery stores and gas stations? How many businesses will this close temporarily? It could well have an effect on California's GDP. Schools are closed in the Bay area.

I realize big wildfires are dangerous (especially when power companies aren't properly trimming the conditions around their lines), with winds tonight in the Bay Area expected at up to 65 mph. but cutting power like this seems almost as dangerous.

Anyone in California affected by this? (DiC?) Does it seem as difficult, even scary, as it looks to me?

PS: And there's this:
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. diverted more than $100 million in gas safety and operations money collected from customers over a 15-year period and spent it for other purposes, including profit for stockholders and bonuses for executives, according to a pair of state-ordered reports released Thursday.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Friday, October 04, 2019

Greta for Peace Prize, and More Record Warmth

(I'll probably add to this post as the day goes by.)
If you're looking for the latest PDO data (Pacific Decadal Oscillation), it moved here.
Some European (and British!) bookies are putting Greta Thunberg as the favorite to win this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The winner will be announced early next Friday. Announcements start on Monday, with the Physics prize announced on Tuesday.
Of the 607 Nobel prizes awarded for science, only 20 have gone to women, says today's Nature Briefing (email).

I know of at least two thefts: Rosalind Franklin for the discovery of the structure of DNA, and Jocelyn Bell for the discovery of pulsars. Bell is still alive -- at least half this year's prize should be hers. But, sadly, won't be.
Probably you know by now, but both UAH and RSS calculated the lower troposphere to have the warmest September in their records, which start in 1979. Roy Spencer did some analysis and says it was Mother Nature, not an instrument problem. So did Carl Mears of RSS. RSS also found the troposphere as a whole to be the warmest September. Here are RSS's September anomalies for the total troposphere:

The Copernicus Climate Service in the EU finds that September was the warmest September for surface temperatures, too, 1.02°C above the 1981-2010 baseline. Since the world had already warmed by the time of this baseline, global warming is now moving past 1.0°C.