Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Warmest June

You've probably heard by now that June 2019's global mean surface temperature (GMST) was the warmest June in the records, according to both Japan's JMA and NASA GISS.

GISS was especially notable, breaking the old record (2015) by a whopping 0.09°C.

According to GISS, the northern hemisphere had its warmest June in the records, at 1.17°C above the 1951-1980 baseline. That was a record by 0.08°C. That's 1.47°C above a baseline of 1880-1909. 2.64°F. Starting to seem warm....

The southern hemisphere saw only the 6th highest June.

Land-only was also a record high, at 1.07°C above the baseline.

These are notable temperatures, given how small the recent El Nino was compared to 2015-16. (The recent El Nino is now over.)

NOAA announces their GMST tomorrow.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

That Kauppinen and Malmi Paper is Junk

I am seeing lots of citations to the Kauppinen and Malmi preprint that came out two weeks ago:
"NO EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE FOR THE SIGNIFICANT ANTHROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE," Kauppinen and Malmi, June 29, 2019, https://arxiv.org/pdf/1907.00165.pdf.
(Yes, their title is in all caps.) Anthony Watts posted it but couldn't be bothered to read it ("I didn't vet this"). Infowars has an article with no skepticism whatsoever. Someone just sent me an email saying "this journal article by some Finnish scientists would change our entire understanding of global warming."

If you even glance through the article, you see that they assumed a CO2 climate sensitivity value of just 0.24°C (top of page 4). That's an absurdly low value, given that we've already had 1°C of warming and atmospheric CO2 hasn't even increased by 50% yet. Climate models put CO2's climate sensitivity at 2-4°C.

The authors themselves justify this claim by citing three articles of their own work(!) -- one which appeared in Energy and Environment (enough said), The International Review of Physics (clearly amateurish), and another unpublished preprint. They also made the Ed Berry Bullshit Error:
If we pay attention to the fact that only a small part of the increased CO2 concentration is anthropogenic....
In fact, all the CO2 increase in the atmosphere is anthropogenic (and the part that's due to the 1°C temperature rise is also anthropogenic because that warming is anthropogenic.)

They also assume that almost all temperature change is the result of low cloud cover changes:
In Figure 2 we see the observed global temperature anomaly (red) and global low cloud cover changes (blue). These experimental observations indicate that 1 % increase of the low cloud cover fraction decreases the temperature by 0.11°C.
and assume all that cloud cover change is "natural." And so on and so on.

Deniers: Don't believe everything you read. Especially when it supports your preconceived notions. Especially when it supports denialism. Especially when you haven't even read the paper.

(Triple this when it comes from WUWT or Infowars.)

Added 7/14: The scientists at Climate Feedback came to the same conclusion, with more detail. It's worth reading.

Friday, July 12, 2019

River Gauges in New Orleans

It's hard to believe that New Orleans could be inundated again just 14 years after Hurricane Katrina and subsequent fixes. If it's as bad it's going to raise questions of "when do you give up on a city," which might be the first city to face this of what will be many more this century. Surely New Orleans as a city won't be abandoned after this flood, but you have to wonder at what point another exodus occurs and at what point that feedbacks and causes more still people to leave. It's population doesn't seem to have yet fully recovered from Katrina, so clearly there was some feedback already:

This says 2014 population was down 7.7% post-Katrina.

I found two sites which are recording the level of the Mississippi River in New Orleans, from weather.gov and the US Army Corps of Engineers. These screenshots are of the most recent results:

And here's a nice storm track.

CNN says
Much of the area around New Orleans is now 1½ to 3 meters (4.92 to 9.84 feet) below mean sea level, according to a 2003 study by the US Geological Survey. Scientists found that the ground in the area was sinking at a rate of 1 centimeter a year.

That continual sinkage, combined with rising global sea levels due to the climate crisis, meant New Orleans would probably be between 2½ and 4 meters (8.2 to 13.12 feet) below sea level by 2100.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

9 ft of SLR by 2100??

Rosanna Xia wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
In the last 100 years, the sea rose less than 9 inches in California. By the end of this century, the surge could be greater than 9 feet.
Oh come on. The 21st century is almost 20% gone. There is no evidence that this scale of sea level rise is in the future.

Yes, sea level rise is accelerating. Yes, this acceleration can increase and probably is increasing. But enough to get 9 ft (2740 mm) of sea level rise in 81 years? I'm very skeptical.

Every year that doesn't see a big jump in SLR takes a bite from this century's remaining SLR budget and makes this more improbable.

Even the scientists who are studying Antarctic sea-flowing glaciers -- which definitely do seem to be a problem -- are barely sure of the order of magnitude of the SLR they'll cause.

I would like to see journalists like Rosanna Xia have some skepticism -- or any at all -- instead of writing down the most extreme upper limit that anyone mentions to them.

Pollution Controls and Economic Growth

Of course, we all know this, but it's good to see the Trump administration admit that cutting pollution is not incompatible with economic growth: 
"From 1970 to 2018, the combined emissions of the most common air pollutants fell 74 percent while the economy grew over 275 percent."

-- White House press release, 7/8/19.


Sunday, July 07, 2019

Eva Kor

This is a remarkable video of someone I found completely captivating. It speaks for itself.

Eva Kor just died at the age of 85.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

I Am Now Too Old to Use the Internet

I got my first programmable calculator, a TI-58c, when I was a sophomore in high school. We had to drive all the way to a Pittsburgh suburb to buy it, which in those days was like driving to Manhattan or Paris or the Moon. I think I paid about $120 then, which is like $500 now.

In the year before my mother was given a very basic calculator that she got for hosting a Tupperware party -- ten numbers, and x + - divide, and maybe a square root. I remember that I figured out that if you took a number like WXYZ and squared it (or something), and then subtracted WXYZ and divided by YZ and inverted that and then took the square root, or something, you'd get back the original number, or something like it. I figured that out numerically, by trial and error, but a couple of years later I was proud of myself for being able to prove it with algebra. But I spent a lot of time on my back looking up at the very simple calculator pressing buttons.

I programmed the hell out of my TI-58c. It only had something like 59 programming steps available, so I got very very good at streamlining code and making the most use of subroutines.

And damn, it was actually a very good way to learn programming. I remember I programmed up some kind of golf game where we used a small wad of paper on a sheet with a golf hole drawn on it, and the calculator would tell us, after we entered the "club," how far the "ball" went and at what angle, both chosen randomly within some bounds.

I forget the exact specifications of the program, but it doesn't matter -- I learned more about programming from that little calculator than I ever did in any subsequent programming classes. That still amazes me. That's what's amazing about being 16.

In high school I took, in 11th grade, a class in statistics, like all the other smart kids, where we had access to a class-wide computer, a desktop PC, I guess, to do some homework problems on. I remember the teacher kept it as his special pet, with his special programmer a kid named John who lived up the road from us a bit and got on at the same bus stop. But I never got to know him -- he seemed a little too insular and quiet, a little too weird, and back then as a dumb teenager I didn't respect the value of being different or nonconformist or great at math. (There was a girl in my home room class when we were in grades 10-12 who would not stand for the pledge of allegiance but kept sitting in her chair. Her hair wasn't neat and she wore plain print dresses that no other girls did and they did her no favors, but while I never bothered her about not standing -- none of us did -- I never tried to understand her, either, which now I regret.) John, this math-smart kid, about two classes younger than me, was a master on this high school computer, and a favorite of the teacher teaching us statistics, meaning he could program a given algorithm in fewer steps than anyone else. Just bringing a number up from memory required code like ↑() from all of about eight registers, one at a time, so brevity and cleverness mattered. We computed the future dates of Easter, I remember. Now John is probably a math professor at MIT with a Fields Medal, or driving for Uber.

Anyway, I want to point out that you can learn a lot when you're 15 and have just a simple tool and are ready to suck up knowledge from the forest floor.

Later in college I took a class in Pascal, which was mostly a class in understanding how to type out Hollerith cards then learning exactly how to submit your program to the university's big computer to have your results printed out on big green-and-white stripped paper, whether that meant your program produced something useful or it meant, usually, that your program failed and crashed and produced nothing. The guys back around the computer would gather up your printout 20 minutes later and place it in a coded wooden bin that was yours for the time being. It wasn't exactly quick turn-around computing, and I didn't learn anything in that class that I didn't learn back at home when I was 16.

And then blah blah. In grad school we could log on to a VAX and send emails to one another, but that was about it. Within a couple of years the ITP at Stony Brook got a pretty nice UNIX machine of its own where we theoretical students could really play around, and I got my degree by writing a couple of 2-3 thousand line programs on some QCD phenomenology about questions my advisor thought up.

Then I went to Bell Labs, used UNIX, etc etc, then when I joined a startup in Boulder, CO I got my very first PC in late 1991.

PCs did less in those days, but they seemed easier to use, IIRC. I mostly used mine for email, emailing several people (women mostly) I'd "met" on a fiction writing listserv. I even got involved with one of them, and we did a lot of backpacking together, for three years, living together in AZ and then VT. Then she ended it, but it was for the best.

But that was eons ago, in the nascent days of the Web, which I first encountered in 1994. Then it was called the "WWW." I discovered Yahoo then, but there wasn't a lot else -- though there was an entire treasure chest laid out then, but I didn't know enough to take advantage of any of it. Nor did anyone I know, not that I knew anyone then. I didn't even know how to gobble up domain names for the corporations that would soon pay nicely for them, like sex.com.

Anyway now it's 20+ years later, and often I feel like I can barely use a computer at all. Nothing seems to work seamlessly. My iPhone, mostly, but my laptop? No. There just seem to be endless problems. Right now I can't get my printer hooked up so that it prints, though it worked fine in my last place and I thought all I'd need to do what plug it in here. And Chrome does not allow me to ALT-TAB away from it, to another program -- I guess this is some bug in Chrome. I read this can be solved by using a Bluetooth mouse instead of a USB mouse, but that doesn't solve the problem for me. I have BiPaP machine that used to read out my nightly statistics to an app on my phone, but that stopped working 4 days ago and I have no idea why. There are a few more big problems that I've forgotten.

And when I try to solve these, by looking at manuals/help on the Web, nothing works. It's all out of date, or wrong to begin with, with no indications of anything current. Help sites say something like go to Settings | Options | My XXX | whatever | and whatever else, but my version of Windows -- just the latest version of Windows 10, I think, on my PC -- doesn't have those options, it has some other path. I think. Maybe some driver isn't updated. It says to click on "Content settings" but there is no Contents setting on the Settings page where they said it would be. The instructions, even those written in, say, late 2018, never work, and the people who wrote those instructions, probably freelancers getting paid $0.015 per word, poor saps with Brooklyn rents, clearly don't care about providing good instructions or updating them when they require changes.

So no instructions work. Endless Googling and trial and error. The software companies don't give a fuck once they get your money. Solving any of the string of problems take 2 or more hours each, and I just wonder why I have to do this anymore and why I am doing it. Is this really all PCs can do in 2019? Why do they need to much babysitting? Why are they getting worse? Why can't we just plug them in, connect wirelessly to a printer, and have it all work?


It happened with cars. In the beginning -- 1910s and 1920s -- you had to take delicate care of them, be sure they had water and the tyres had air and the spark plugs were adjusted to whatever length or firing capacity or explosion potential and you didn't know what else. Enrico Fermi decided that a good way to become an experimentalist was to drive a car across America and fix it as it broke down. (Really.)

Why do I have to be a software engineer to get my printer to work?? Why can't I just connect it via USB or wireless or whatever and have it print? Why do I have to be a computer engineer to understand why this isn't possible? Why, when I connect my phone to my PC, doesn't it delete the iPhone pictures after downloading them, as my settings tell it to? Another fucking bug, that's why. Why has it failed at this for 3+ years? Why can't Microsoft fix this? Why don't they care? Why can't Google fix its bug that prevents me from using ALT-TAB to go to other windows, which is actually a serious usability problem for me. Why don't THEY care??

A month ago I click on an email link and it opened in Gmail. Not it doesn't. What the fuck changed? It wasn't me? Do I have to rejigger this every month? Do you see why I am frustrated? And then in the end someone random happens to describe your exact problem -- but no one else's -- and you just change a "NO" button to "YES" and it all works. For you.

I really wish I could give up on all this crappy technology and just farm organic peas for a living. I would never log on to the Internet or even listen to the radio again.

Trump is Behind Obama in Job Gains

Job gains during Trump's first 28 months: 5.61 M.

During Obama's last 28 months: 6.42 M.


Medium: “‘Climategate’ Email Hacking was Carried out from Russia, in Effort to Undermine Action…”

This is interesting, but it's not really a surprise that shadowy Russians/Eastern Europeans would be the hackers. I hope the journalist, Iggy Ostanin, can eventually publish the name of the climate scientist he says in involved.

Exclusive: "Climategate" Email Hacking was Carried out from Russia, in Effort to Undermine Action… by Iggy Ostanin

Russian hacking, quote-unquote, seems to be more and more of a problem anymore. Is there really nothing that can be done?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

More #AbiSciCon19

Here's my second article for Physics World on the Astrobiology Science Conference 2019 in Bellevue:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

AbSciCon 2019

I'm at the 2019 Astrobiology science conference in Bellevue, Washington. I wrote about my first day and a half here for Physics World's blog.

Did you know there are now over 4,000 exoplanets discovered? That there's a portable genome sequencer that weighs 85 grams and fits in the palm of your hand? That 4% of the makeup of Omaha Beach consists of shrapnel?

Friday, June 21, 2019

Wrap-up of Today's Oregon Climate Craziness

End of the day wrap-up on actions surrounding Oregon's cap-and-trade bill, HB 2020.

The Oregon Republican senators are still hiding. The state police seem to be still out looking for them, though I don't know the degree of their vigor. They have been put in a very unfortunate and awkward position.

The Senate R's could not legally accept the GoFundMe money. How about they give it to baby immigrants stuck in a border jail cell? No? Thought not.... But the R's do have a PAC! Because you know there was surely someway to make money out of this somehow.

No shooting yet, but the Oregon Republicans did say they reject the support of right wing militias such as the Three Presenters Militia, who pledged to come to their aid. You'd have to call that a net positive. (Seems that to argue for gun rights, or to be a patriot of the highest order, you have to be against related to climate change.) (I guess I'll never be a 3%er.)

Time, and CO2 emissions, march on.


I'm taking time off. Maybe the whole summer.

Oregon Senator Tries Blaming the World's Poor

Naturally one of Oregon's state senators presented this argument:
After numerous unsuccessful attempts to kill the bill on Monday, House Republican leader Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) said in a statement, "Climate change is a global problem, not an Oregon problem. Oregon's workers should not be punished for the reckless environmental policies of China and India."
This is a desperate argument, and I think somewhat cowardly, because it seeks to put the blame on the poor of the world, and it arrogantly assumes that Americans have an inherent right to emit more carbon pollution than citizens of another country.

I've probably written about this before, but here are the numbers:

These numbers come from the World Resource Institute's CAIT database, which goes to 2014, and the BP annual reports for 2015-2017. And the data are for energy use only, no changes in land use or other greenhouse gases like methane.)

How can anyone look at those numbers and claim the problem is really China and India??

Of course climate change is a global problem. And the solution is for everyone to solve their share of the problem. Some here in Oregon have expressed concern this will drive industries outside the state to where there are no cap-and-trade limits. (Idaho seems to be the preferred choice.) Has that happened elsewhere? Oregon already has one of the lowest state corporate tax rates of any state (7th lowest). They're going to give that up, just because of CnT? 

Maybe we should divide the troposphere up into N blocks, where N is the world population, and let every person on Earth sell credits to allow CO2 pollution in their block. People could sell their credits to brokers who then trade a large number of blocks. It's reduce emissions and be a poverty relief program as well.

Oregon Fines and a GoFundMe Page

Oregon senators face a $500/day fine for not showing up to do their jobs. Naturally (these days) there is a GoFundMe page to help them out, currently up to $19,375 after one day. 11 senators need to stay away to prevent a quorum, so that's $5,500/day, with the fund already covers at least three days. I'll be surprised if, once the word on the page gets out nationally, there isn't enough to cover the entire time they'd need to be out of state, which goes to the end of the legislative session on June 30th. Though the governor is threatening to call a special session to start July 2.

The Climate Kerfuffle in Oregon

Big troubles in Oregon over the cap-and-trade bill in the Senate. Senate Republicans have fled the state to prevent a senate quorum. There's trouble busin' in from outta state, and the D.A. here can't get no relief. There are rumors of a rumble out on the promenade, and the gamblin' commission's hangin' on by the skin of its teeth.

OK. It's true that enough Senate Republicans have fled the state, mostly to Idaho I read, to prevent a quorum in the Senate so there can be no vote on HB 2020, a cap-and-trade bill. The 2019 legislative sessions ends on June 30th, and they're trying to hide that out.

But Oregon's constitution allows the governor to call on the state police to roost them out and bodily bring them back to the state capital, which she has now done. As if that's not bad enough, one state senator is threatening to shoot them if they show up, saying they should be "single and well-armed."

I see two major issues behind all this. One is the unwillingness of Republicans to do anything about climate change. But the second issue is more in play at the moment: the strange political makeup of Oregon.

Oregon is the 9th largest state in the union, and it really should be broken up into two states, divided roughly by the Cascade mountains. Portland is (generalizing) very liberal and backs liberal causes like cap-and-trade. And the county it's in, Multnomah, has about 20% of the state's population. The Portland metropolitan area has over 65% the state's population, though that includes Vancouver, Washington and other nearby towns across the Columbia River. The Willamette Valley, entirely in Oregon, contains about 70% of the state population.

So Portland is the state behemoth. As a result, Democrats have a 3/5ths supermajority in the state legislature and senate, and the governor is a Democrat. So even though the vast majority of the area of the state is red, the blues have a large upper hand. The figure to the right shows the results of the 2018 gubernatorial race, by county, won by Kate Brown, the Democrat.

The state even divides up geographically, with the Williamette Valley being lush terrain from all the rain, and the east, in the Cascade mountain rain shadow, being brown and scrubby high desert.

East of the Cascades and south of Eugene -- so, anywhere outside the Willamette Valley -- is very conservative. But with the supermajority they feel Democrats are ramming through legislation. Which they are. If the situation were reversed, Republicans would, of course, be doing exactly same thing.

So you can see the need for the state to be divided into two, or there will be perpetual political unhappiness on the right. The Democrats have been in power here for decades, and that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon, and maybe never.

Republicans say the cap-and-trade bill is unfair, in part because rural people drive more, with all the farmers and long distances between towns. The cap-and-trade bill is estimated to increase the price of gasoline by up to $0.23/gallon, which works out to $25 per metric ton of CO2. Not a lot. The carbon cap would periodically be lowered as time goes on.

Well, if you drive more and emit more carbon, you should, in fairnesspay more. But of course a lot of people don't want to hear it's time to start paying for their pollution.

I suspect the cap-and-trade bill here will pass in some form, perhaps by giving tax credits to farms and businesses in the red counties (or even statewide), or other legislative goodies. It's already a long and complex bill -- a simple carbon tax being obviously too simple (and, moreso, transparent).

Hopefully no state troopers will be shot. (They have guns of their own, you know.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Dead Leaf Butterfly

The Dead Leaf Butterfly
The other day a couple of religious canvassers came to my door. I forget what they said initially, but I gave my standard answer, "thanks, but I'm an atheist."

This usually sends them away, but not always, and this pair was an exception. She asked why I took that position. "No evidence," I said.

She said she recently saw a documentary with a butterfly that looked like a leaf. How could that have happened by itself, without being designed?

"Evolution by natural selection," I said.

What about this house, she said, pointing around her. Who designed it?

An architect, I said. Then I excused myself, said good luck on your efforts, but I was busy and had to go.

I wasn't really that busy, but afterward I thought that the butterfly in the shape of a leaf is about the best example of evolution by natural selection that is out there. I mean, it's perfect.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

No, Greener is Not Better

Just found this article by Carl Zimmer, who is always worth reading, but especially in this case:

"‘Global Greening’ Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It’s Terrible: Rising carbon dioxide levels are making the world greener. But that’s nothing to celebrate."
- Carl Zimmer, NY Times, July 30, 2018

Playing a Chernobyl Game

This article published yesterday in the Daily Beast, by Clive Irving, is in MHO excellent and well-worth reading, especially if you watched the Chernobyl series on HBO, especially the last episode:

Irving is right. The outright denial by liars in the Administration, from the very top (POTUS) down, who lack any capacity to even begin to engage with the scientific argument. Trump himself is so clueless that he thinks this is only about traditional air pollution and traditional water pollution. I don't think he's lying about this -- he just doesn't have the foggiest idea what climate change is about, just like he does not know what trade deficits are about.

It is no longer believable that the next decade won't be 0.2°C (0.3°F) warmer than this decade just ended, which was by that amount warmer than the one before it, and that warmer than one earlier.

Friday, June 14, 2019


I can easily see this photograph representing 9/11 in a history book 100 years from now.

China Has Twice the Environmental Taxes cp the US

This chart is from an interesting research document from the OECD, China's Progress Towards Green Growth: An International Perspective, October 2018. It shows that China has about twice the environmental taxes than does the US:

Personally I am very tired of claims that I see again and again that it's China and India who should be cutting back their use of fossil fuels, since they're the largest emitters.

First of all, the US emitted 2.2 times as much as does India in 2017, according to the 2018 BP report. Cumulatively, since 1850, the US has emitted 7.7 times what India has. So the India part of the assertion is just a dumb argument.

Cumulatively (since 1850), the US has emitted about 1.9 times more CO2 than has China, which I calculated from the World Resource Institute's CAIT database and the 2016-2018 BP reports.

And, I calculate that in 2017 the US emitted about 2.3 times that of China on a per capita basis.

The US has mucked up the atmosphere far more than China has, and continues to do so on an individual basis. It's not like an American newborn has an inherent, god-given right to emit twice as much CO2 as does a Chinese newborn.

The US is still the world's primary energy hog, and the US should be leading the fight to get rid of fossil fuels. Instead the Administration is going in the opposite direction, the future climate be damned.

1988: Climate Change VP Debate Question

In 1988 a question on climate change was presented to Dan Quayle and Lloyd Benson at their vice-presidential debate, by a smart reporter, Jon Margolis:

Lloyd Benson (a Democrat from Texas, no less) shows he has at least some handle on the question, suggesting a transition to natural gas. Dan Quayle (Republican) comes off as clueless, which was his trademark, providing the most generic, meaningless answer possible, all in that dullard countenance he was known for.

Of course, later in that debate Benson put Quayle to the canvas in perhaps the most famous debate response in US history:

Alas, Bush Sr and Quayle won the election. Then introduced the idea of cap-and-trade.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

What the Hell? (Solar Luminosity)

I found the following graph on Wikipedia, when I looked up solar luminosity.

It shows that solar luminosity was significantly lower in the past, which counters the denier argument that "well if CO2 was 6000 ppm back then, why wasn't there immense warming?") But I do not understand this graph. Why is temperature so constant? The Sun is the perfect example of a blackbody -- it absorbs all radiation incident upon it. (And everything else, too.) So why doesn't it follow the Stefan-Boltzmann law, where

luminosity = sigma*T4 ?

I'm confused. Can anyone help me?

River of Melted Permafrost

Not something you see every day -- a river of melted permafrost:

Friday, June 07, 2019

Michael Mann Wins a Court Case

Michael Mann and the The Frontier Centre for Public Policy Inc. have settled their case in the Canadian Supreme Court, with the Frontier Centre issuing a retraction & apology:

Mann sued Tim Ball and the Frontier Centre for libel. From Forbes 2012, where Larry Bell predicted the wrong outcome:
The first law suit was filed against Canadian climate scientist Timothy Ball who humorously commented  in an interview published by the Frontier Center for Public Policy, a Winnipeg think tank, that Penn State researcher Mann should, instead, be in the state pen.
Mann says he has not settled his claims against Tim Ball, who remains a defendant in the lawsuit. We'll see about that "humor."

Tim Ball's scientific reputation has already been shredded in a Canadian court, as it's been admitted in a court of law that he is not a climate science expert.

After the Calgary Herald published an op-ed by Ball on April 19, 2006, whom the newspaper identified as the first climatology PhD in Canada and a climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years, they published a letter on April 23, 2006 from Dr. Dan Johnson, a professor at the University of Lethbridge, who pointed out that neither of those descriptions is true; that Dr. Ball's credentials were being seriously overstated. Ball later threatened Johnson and the Herald and ultimately sued for defamation.

In their Statement of Defense filed in Court, the Calgary Herald submitted the following:

1. "...that the Plaintiff (Ball) never held a reputation in the scientific community as a noted climatologist and authority on global warming.

2. "The Plaintiff has never published any research in any peer-reviewed scientific journal which addressed the topic of human contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming

3. "The Plaintiff has published no papers on climatology in academically recognized peer-reviewed scientific journals since his retirement as a Professor in 1996;

4. "The Plaintiff's credentials and credibility as an expert on the issue of global warming have been repeatedly disparaged in the media; and

5. "The Plaintiff is viewed as a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist."

Ball dropped his lawsuit.....

Source: The Calgary Herald, Statement of Defense – paragraph 50, Dr Tim Ball v The Calgary Herald, In the Court of the Queen’s Bench of Alberta Judicial District of Calgary, Dec 7, 2006 (http://is.gd/brO4uO).

More at:

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Wind Power Now Surpassing Coal Power

From Quartz, about a month ago:

In March 2019, renewables generated more electricity than
coal for the first time in US history.

Quartz gives the chart below, but it clearly has problems, because a megawatt/day is not a unit of energy. Perhaps they meant megawatt-days. And renewables only out-generate coal in the projected part of their graph, not in March 2019, when it actually does. And they only show four data points a year, when they're writing about an individual month. Sloppy.

Not only this, but wind turbine technician is now the fastest growing occupation in the US, a job that pays a median of $51,000/yr. Wind generated about 5.5% of electricity in 2016. The wind industry employs over 100,000 people; solar about 260,000. The number of coal miners is now about 53,000.

By the way, the EIA's Electricity Monthly Update front page gives no mention to renewables at all. It's like they don't even exist. Or like they don't want them to exist.

Ladybugs On the Move

Too good not to blog:

Jobs By Energy Source

Here's a little chart I whipped up for the number of US jobs per unit energy for the major types of energy source*:

PJ = petajoule = 1015 joules (J)
EJ = exajoule = 1018 joules (J)
M = mega, B = billion, kWh = kilowatt-hour
pv = photovoltaic, h&c = heating and cooling

*Numbers in blue are data I looked up, numbers in black are calculated.

This isn't just for electricity, but all primary energy production. Of course, for solar and wind and coal it's almost all electricity, except for the occasional coal-powered vehicle. I did that calculation too; it's the last column in the chart.

There's a lot to quibble with here -- this is down and dirty. I'm not a professional analyst getting paid to do this perfectly. Most of concern to me is that I'm not sure "oil and gas extraction" includes any related management jobs, like in corporate headquarters. Same for coal. (And, for that matter, solar and wind.) It doesn't include the jobs in coal powered electricity plants (or solar plants). But the differences in jobs per energy are so large -- by one order of magnitude for wind, and two orders of magnitude for solar -- that one would have to do a whole lot of quibbling to make a difference in the conclusion that there are many more jobs in renewable energies than in fossil fuels, per unit of energy generated. (Why is this?)

And remember, despite the larger number of jobs, solar and wind power are now cheaper than coal in 3/4ths of the country.

Sources, jobs:
Renewable energy and jobs, Annual Review, IRENA
FRED for oil and gas and coal mining jobs

Source, energy:
EIA Energy Overview, Table 1.2

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

"Climate Denier" Is In the Dictionary


How About This for Calculating the 1-year Moving Average?

Update 6/10: A commenter got me thinking about this more, and I'm convinced now that there is no problem using the 365-day moving average for the 1-year moving average. See the comments for more explanation. Thanks Victor!

So I've been thinking more about how to calculate the 1-year moving average (MA) of daily data, which is complicated by leap years, which over several decades can leave you astray by several days, which affects the value of the 1-yr MA. (About 10 days over 4 decades, a third of a month.)

Any opinions on this proposal?

To me this seems the least arbitrary of anything I've seen so far. Thoughts?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Wind Turbines Cause Jobs, Not Cancer

"Now we have a president who claims that wind turbines cause cancer. He's wrong -- they cause jobs."

- Jay Inslee, today on NPR (National Public Radio)

Top Ten Theoretical Physicists of 20th Century?

After my post yesterday on Murray Gell-Mann, I started thinking about who are the top ten theoretical physicists of the 20th century. I've seen lists, but I wanted to come up with my own list without consulting them. Here is mine, in rough chronological order:

Albert Einstein
Werner Heisenberg
Paul Dirac
Richard Feynman
Murray Gell Mann
Chen Ning Yang
Steven Weinberg
Gerard 't Hooft
Kip Thorne
Edward Witten

People that almost made my list are, again in rough chronology order:

Emmy Noether
Niels Bohr
Wolfgang Pauli
Max Planck
Hans Bethe
Julian Schwinger
Sheldon Glashow
Stephen Hawking
Added 6/3: Erwin Schrodinger

I made this list based on accomplishments. Stephen Hawking would probably be first if it was due to accomplishments-despite-obstacles. (Well, second. No one can possibly best Einstein.)

Do you think I missed anyone or misplaced someone?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Murray Gell-Mann, RIP

Murray Gell-Mann
Murray Gell-Mann died on the 24th. He was a giant among physicists, and won the Nobel Prize in 1969. Sean Carroll has a very nice article about him in the New York Times.

One thing I never knew was that Gell-Mann came up with the sound "kwork" before he saw "quark" in Finnegans Wake, in the now famous line

"Three quarks for Muster Mark!"

Gell-Mann was lucky to be in his prime when experimental and theoretical physics was in chaos, because of all the elementary particles being discovered in the '60s that seemed to have no rhyme or reason. And he took full advantage of that luck. Gell-Mann tamed the "particle zoo" with his "Eightfold Way" classifications, which even predicted new particles that were then found. And he didn't do it via big calculations, but by being especially creative and insightful. It was about as... joyful as physics gets. It was by no means all that Gell-Mann did, as Carroll writes.

Gell-Mann is probably among the top ten theoretical physicists of the 20th century. More people should know his name.

The meson octet of the Eightfold Way

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Things I Have Noticed Today

The Energy Department called LNG "freedom gas" in a press release. Orwell smiles, while pinching himself to see if he is real. He isn't, but his ideas certainly are. CNN. The Guardian.

Al Franken refers to Michael Mann “the Meryl Streep of climatologists.”

Mueller: 'If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so'.

Germany proposes to give up coal...by 2038. Not helpful. The link has a graph of their electricity generation mixture. Coal is slowly declining, but still rules.

"Why natural cycles only play small role in rate of global warming," Karsten Haustein et al, CarbonBrief, 5/24/19.

Cato closes its climate shop; Pat Michaels is out.
The move came after Pat Michaels, a climate scientist who rejects mainstream researchers' concerns about rising temperatures, left Cato earlier this year amid disagreements with officials in the organization.

"They informed me that they didn't think their vision of a think tank was in the science business, and so I said, 'OK, bye,'" Michaels said in an interview yesterday. "There had been some controversy going around the building for some time, so things got to a situation where they didn't work out...."

Cato also is no longer affiliated with Richard Lindzen, an emeritus professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has long been critical of established climate science. Lindzen was a distinguished fellow at the think tank.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Ice on Fire, Trailer

Here's the latest climate film from Leonardo DiCaprio et al, Ice on Fire.

I don't know. I don't want to be pessimistic just for the sake of being a devil's advocate (or worse), which I can be prone to do. There is clearly good stuff in this film.

I don't agree that methane is such a big problem -- it's radiative forcing is only 1/4th that of CO2's -- it just seems easier to focus on than CO2.

And I don't see that carbon sequestration is anywhere near economical enough to make sense doing.

So I guess I don't see solutions as at hand as this film -- at least the trailer -- is trying to imply.

Global Sea Ice Extent Still Pushing Record Lows

Here is global sea ice extent's year-to-date average as of May 25th:

Sorry about the blurry picture. It's due to the way Google portrays figures & pictures on blogger. I haven't found a fix, and I doubt they care enough about blogger anymore to do something about this.

Global_sea_ice_extent(t) = Arctic_sea_ice_extent(t) + Antarctic_sea_ice_ extent(t)

Climate Deniers Who Usurp the Tragedy of the Holocaust

I don't have a problem using the word "denier" to describe those who deny the science physics. But Eli Rabett has hit on the best response to their whinging that they're being compared to Holocaust deniers (when they aren't; the word "denier" had a perfectly appropriate definition before the Holocaust ever happened).

You can read his blog post, but it's worth producing the string of tweets, which make his argument clearly and succinctly:

Game, set and match.

Eli summarizes:
So here are Eli's suggestions the next time some anti-Vaxxer, climate change denier or whatever starts bleating about being accused of denying the Holocaust and how mean you are for pointing it out
  • Why are you stealing the sacrifice of those who died in the Holocaust? 
  • You use the sacrifice of others to deflect criticism of your duplicity 
  • Another bunch who wants to steal the suffering of the Holocaust victims for themselves. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

West Virginia's Economic Crisis

Median household income has declined 9% since its peak, and unlike the US as a whole, is not recovering.


Added: Here are two more indicators about West Virginia mining dollars, which looked to be on the upswing in the last couple of years:


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Pig's Face

I found this photo a while ago, and it's been sitting on my hard drive awaiting something.

I find the face of the pig on the right to be very intelligent (I guess) and definitely haunting. He seems knowing, and miserable, fully aware of his plight.

I eat meat. I've tried being a vegetarian, but after I few months I feel somewhat anemic, or at least low on energy. I think. It could well be psychosomatic, for all I know -- I wouldn't be surprised. The longest I've gone is four months. But in the last year or two I'm trying, imperfectly, not to eat pork, because they seem too intelligent, too aware. I hardly eat beef, too, because of the red meat thing. So mostly I eat chicken. Some fish and shrimp.

When I was a kid, maybe 10-11 years old, one evening my dad took me to a neighbors a few miles up the road. (Where I grew up, houses were far apart and you'd know you neighbors a mile or two in every direction.) The evening's task was to butcher a pig. They took one out back and shot it -- they didn't let me watch that. But after some draining they brought the carcass in and started cutting it up. My job was to take certain pieces and run them through a grinder to produce ground pork. I did it without complaining, or thinking twice about it, really. I was included. People just did this, as far as I knew. We ate a lot of butchered animals then. Every so often my grandfather would drive a couple of his steers down across the border into Maryland, tied in the back of his pickup, taking me and a cousin or two, and back his truck into a plant where they'd kill the cows and butcher them. After two hours or three, we'd back up again to the plant and they'd load big buckets of meat into the back of my pap's pickup. Then we'd drive the hour or so home, and spend the night wrapping up meat. My job was usually to label the packages taped in white paper with a black magic marker, because I could make the best block lettering. They'd go in the freezer. My grandparents took half the cow, and my parents would buy the other half. This was our meat for the winter. (We never ever went to a restaurant to eat. The first time ever I think was a Pizza Hut the day of my high school commencement.) It was almost always beef. I don't remember much pork, except that one time I was the grinder, and the chickens on my grandparent's gentleman's farm were just for eggs. Occasionally there was venison (never from my gun; I only went deer hunting once, and it was a disastrous experience that maybe I'll tell another time), and even once some black bear my grandparents got from someone, which tasted sweet and better than you might think.

Still, eating pork bothers me and I'm trying to cut back and refrain.

Some Numbers on US Health Care Costs

Once a month I try to look at the data on national health care expenditures from the Altarum Institute, who keep track of these things.

There might be a bit of progress relative to Gross Domestic Product.

The fuzziness of the graphs and figure I post -- not as apparent at the largest size offered, but otherwise it is -- is due to Google reformatting them after they're uploaded to Blogger,, to a lower resolution. Not much I can do about that, as far as I know. Google doesn't seem very interested in improving Blogger, or even maintaining it. But transitioning to another platform at this point, after about 13 or so years of blogging here, seems like it would be a nightmare.

(Maybe blogs are on their way out anyway?)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

USA48 Annualized Precipitation at a Record High

Something I didn't realize until I read it on Twitter is that average precipitation for the continental US over the last 12 months is at a record high:

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 https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/stdata/#form (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
“....in 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.