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.