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 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 (scroll down to the bottom).

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

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

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Mail I Get

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Electric Vehicle Sales

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

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

A Bad Assumption in Ed Berry's Model

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inflow = constant

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

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

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

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Latest Numbers on Ocean Heat Content

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

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

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

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

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

Graphs are here

Dino Asteroid Mitigation

Friday, May 03, 2019

Why Ed Berry is Full of Shit

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

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

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

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

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

It's the bathtub model.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Softball Interview of Trump's Science Advisor

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