Sunday, October 17, 2021

Joe Manchin's Excess Deaths

For some reason Tweets are no longer properly embedding in Blogger, so I have to cut and paste them. Blogger sucks more and more all the time.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

My Article on Technosignatures

I also have a feature article in this month's issue of Physics World magazine, on technosignatures:

“Scanning the cosmos for signs of technology,” Physics World, October 2021, pp 32-36.

At the moment it's only available to registered users of the site, but registration is free. In a week or so there'll be a publicly available link and I'll post that then. 

"Technosignatures" are any sign of technology on another planet. Examining the "technosphere" is a burgeoning field that astronomers and astrophysicists are starting to think about, especially as the James Webb Space Telescope is about to launch (December, they say now) and as even better telescopes might come online next decade if recommended by the forthcoming NASA Decadal Survey. 

For the last two decades astronomers and astrobiologists have been thinking about how they might detect life on exoplanets, via "biosignatures." These might be the detection of methane in a planet's light spectrum, large amounts of oxygen, and a host of other possibilities, due to microbes or plant life. If life is ever detected on another planet, it's likely it will be via some type of biosignature -- it could happen in the next couple of decades.

Just in the last couple of years scientists have also begun thinking about "technosignatures," signs of technology akin to how biosignatures are signs of life. If other planets have an advanced technological civilization, akin to ours or more advanced (since ours is rather nascent), there may be signs we can detect astronomically. These might be city lights on their nightside, industrial pollution in their atmosphere, solar panels on their surface or in orbit, or megastructures like a Dyson sphere* or swarm or ring, or who knows what. People are making calculations of what might be detectable by the Webb telescope or TESS, and by telescopes that are hopefully recommended like LUVOIR and HabEx. There will be an enormous amount of data to sift through, looking for anomalies. I tried to cover some of this rapidly expanding field in my artice. 

* As you may know, a Dyson sphere is a hypothetical structure that would completely surround a star, thereby capturing all of its energy output. (Such an structure around our Sun, at Earth's distance, would capture 2 billion times as much solar energy as falls atop Earth's atmosphere.) Except a Dyson sphere isn't mechanically stable -- they would likely break up due to any drift, as Dyson wrote about in 1960 when he first proposed this idea. (A Star Trek: The Next Generation features a Dyson sphere. [Video] Magically it was stable.) If it could exist, a Dyson sphere would heat up and radiate outwards. A Dyson sphere at Earth's orbital distance would radiate at Earth's brightness temperature, 255 K, so with a blackbody spectrum with a peak wavelength of about 10 microns, in the infrared. People have actually done searches for Dyson spheres in the galaxy. 

Instead, a civilization might construct a more stable Dyson configuration like a swarm or ring or bubble -- I've used the figure from my article below. Why? One idea is to capture solar energy on them and beam microwaves to the planet's surface. But who knows what an advanced civilization might do with them -- maybe live on them! These should have a radiative signature too, a technosignature. It's all hypothetical of course, but fun to think about.... It was a fun article to write.

Friday, October 08, 2021

My Wash Post Article

I have an article in today's Washington Post. It's accompanied by a nice piece of artwork, by Amy Ning

"The climate crisis is spawning weird ideas to fix it. They might be all we have."

"The Trick" Trailer by the BBC

Not a fan of the title.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

YouTube Bans Ads on Climate Denial Videos

 This is big; NYT:

Can't wait to hear all the whining.

Google also owns Blogger (blogspot blogs, like this one). Wonder if its climate denying blogs are next. I'd guess not.

Nb: corrected my original headline.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

A Trillion Dollar Coin

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Nobel Prizes for Climate Science

Today's Nobel Prizes in Physics goes to three men who played very important roles in the early development of climate science and the analysis of complex dynamical systems. Quanta magazine has a good summary

At first I was surprised, because it wasn't awarded to anyone in fundamental physics research, as usual. But then I realized it made perfect sense, and sends an important message as well, and just before COP26. 

I'm more familiar with Manabe's work than the other two. In fact, a few years ago I wanted to profile Manabe for Yale Climate Connections, but he wouldn't do an interview. Beforehand I had read some of his early papers with Richard Wetherald -- Manabe did the physics, Wetherald did the computer programming -- such as this famous 1967 paper, and they were remarkably well written and exceptionally clear. 

Here's a 1989 oral interview of Manabe by Spencer Weart of the American Institute of Physics.

And, let's say it: Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann, who also built climate models, were right in their predictions -- they correctly predicted the Earth's response to increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Here's a nice evaluation of Manabe and Wetherald's 1967 result: they predicted a CO2 climate sensitivity, when CO2 goes from 300 ppm to 600 ppm, of 2.4°C, which is in today's range of 1.5-4.5°C.  just shy of AR6's range of 2.5 - 4.5°C.

And, as that blog post notes, they made their prediction in 1967, at a time when the Earth's surface temperature was in a slight 20+ year cooling period. But they got a bit lucky -- if that cooling period was caused by atmospheric aerosols -- air pollution from vehicles, mostly -- they couldn't have known it would be cleaned up by the proliferation of clean air laws in the 1970s in the US and Europe. 

I don't know as much about the work of Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi, but am looking forward to learning more today.

A very thoughtful Prize.

Monday, October 04, 2021

It Doesn't Matter if You Believe In Climate Change....

WaPo story here.

Polar Sea Ice Extent Updates

 Just thought I'd post the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extents, through September 2021. These are the 12-month moving averages, so lag latest conditions a bit. It will be interesting to see where the Antarctic goes --  back on its old trend?

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Another 1970s Exxon Scientist

They knew.

This is from page 1 of Michael Mann's book The New Climate War.

The original source is Inside Climate News.

Michael Mann's book is excellent, and I heartily recommend it. He dissects the information war that has been going on for decades now, waged by the fossil fuel industry. But he also gives it to those who are all doom-and-gloom, the "Deep Adaptation" people who think all that's left is for us to prepare for the collapse of society. Mann's position is that we can still cut emissions enough by 2030 to prevent serious problems, with enough activism and political will, and that's his message in the book and in the talks he's giving seemingly everywhere.

I wish I were that optimistic but I can't say I am. I just can't see the world getting it together, primarily because of corruption driven by the multi-trillion dollar fossil fuel industry. (Just today I saw a tweet by Senator Elizabeth Warren about an army of Exxon lobbyists on Capitol Hill.) There's far too much money to be made for them to go quietly, or to transition into energy companies that produce renewable energy. They're making token efforts at best: 

But who cares about me--a lot of young people aren't very optimistic either:

which is incredibly sad. And infuriating. OK, I worried a lot about global nuclear war when I was younger, between about 25 to 35, and would occasionally jolt upright in the middle of the night yelling from a dream, scaring the hell out of girlfriends in the process. Maybe my subconscious thought humanity was "doomed," but I outgrew it (but am rather surprised there hasn't been a global nuclear war in my lifetime--I would have bet there would have been. There's still time for one, of course. but I no longer wake up screaming at night.). But climate change seems a different order of disaster, because it looks inevitable. No attempts at a solution have done anything to modify the exponential Keeling curve--not Kyoto, not Copenhagen, not the Paris Agreement--and it's difficult to believe it will happen now at COP26. 

Though there is just a touch of room for hope, as 2019's CO2 emissions were flat compared to 2018's. (2020's were much lower than 2019's, but that was due to the pandemic.) But through June 2021, global carbon emissions were 7% higher than June 2019's.

So why be optimistic? I don't see it yet. Does anyone?

Sea Level Rise Now 4.7 mm/year

The University of Colorado Sea Level Research Group recently released their latest data update, with data up to August 6, 2021. As the figure shows, there is now a clear acceleration, of 0.098 mm/yr2. I fit a quadratic function to their data, and got the same result. And while the average rate of sea level rise over their dataset is 3.3 mm/yr -- that's the linear trend -- the current rate of sea level rise, i.e. the first derivative of the quadratic fit, is 4.7 mm/yr.

Mind you, this is the global average, and local rates are never this due to local and regional particular conditions.

I'm not going to extrapolate this curve out to 2100, because I don't think that's a smart way to calculate future sea level rise, which depends on future ice sheet melt, which may not be linear or quadratic. So you need real models, not curve fitting.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Summer Land Temperatures Set A Record This Year

breaking last year's record.... Just FYI, 1.5°C = 2.7°F.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Blah Blah Blah

Why is it that only an 18-year old kid is saying this out loud??

Sunday, September 26, 2021

A Small Incident About Cars

The other day I was a local place here, Nancy Jo's Burger's and Fries, ordering a chicken salad to go. A guy came up to me and said my car was parked too close to his car's door, which was in the adjacent parking spot, and I would have to move my car. Like a good guy I immediately went out and moved my car so he'd have room to open his door and get into his car. But then I came back in and noticed he was sitting in a booth waiting for his food with his family, planning to eat in the restaurant, while I was getting takeout and would be gone in a couple of minutes. This kind of annoyed me, and as our orders were announced at same time I took the opportunity to say to him that my car had been between the lines, and I got a little aggressive and said next time he'd have to crawl in the passenger side to get into his car. He said something and I said something over him, I don't remember what. I noticed he had a Christian cross hanging from his rear view mirror. He didn't even say thank to me for moving my car. This has stuck with me ever since, even though it's been about five days now and I told myself I was going to forget it. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

5 Trillion Tons of Ice Lost from Greenland

Greenland ice sheet mass balance from Mankoff et al 2021.

Equivalent sea level rise is on the scale to the right; cumulative mass loss is on the scale to the left.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Another Bad Chuck Wiese Error

Earlier I pointed out the multiple errors of thinking in Oregon's Chuck Wiese's claim that the horrendous heat wave we had here in the Pacific NW at the end of June -- an unbelievable 117°F in Salem, Oregon, a maximum reading that was a full 39°F above the normal for that day (normal period = 1981-2010) -- was, he claimed, nothing special at all, just a regular heat wave with the sun in its sunlike position.

I found another huge error.

Needless to say, actual scientists concluded that anthropogenic climate change had a very significant role in such a huge heat wave anomaly. 

Chuck Wiese argued that it was just another heat wave but caused by orbital and solar parameters and a nominal increase in atmospheric CO2, calculated naively -- a claim easily shown to be B.S. by all the factors he chose to ignore.

But shortly after, as I was looking more closely at his claims, I saw a deeper error, which I haven't been able to write about since I was busy on an article. He considers atmospheric CO2 to be a blackbody, when it is anything but.

Recall, a "blackbody" is one that absorbs all radiation incident upon it. The Sun is a perfect example. The surface of the Earth is a pretty good example, in the infrared. But atmospheric CO2 does not meet that definition at all.

Let's get into the technical details of Wiese's error.

In his post on Ed Berry's site -- a place Wiese considers "publication," LOLz -- he presents this little argument:
What about atmospheric CO2? In 1981, the Mauna Loa CO2 level was given as 341 ppmv whereas today it is 416 ppmv. Calculating the change in radiative forcing from CO2 as a stand-alone constituent, the difference from 1981 to now is only 1.07 Wm-2. ( Watts per square meter ).

Next, I took the mean temperature of the daily temperature delta or deviation, which was about 90 deg F and plugged that into the derivative of the Stefan Boltzmann equation, dF/dT which gives 6.45 Wm-2K-1 or 6.45 Watts per square meter per degree Kelvin.

Using this relationship, if CO2 acts alone as permitted in this special case, we get 0.963 Wm-2 with a ground emissivity of 0.9 divided by the rate of change of flux with respect to temperature or the 6.45 Wm-2K-1 number which gives 0.15 deg C or a possible contribution of +0.27 deg F. to the heating total.
This is just comical as physics, and let me show you why -- again, Wiese thinks atmospheric CO2 is a blackbody, which it is certainly is not. Bear with me through a few elementary equations.

CO2's radiative forcing is, from the "Arrhenius equation"

where alpha is a constant = 5.35 W/m2. From this we can indeed verify that the change in forcing going from CO2=341 ppmv to CO2=416 ppmv is, from the above equation, 1.06 W/m2, just a slight rounding difference from CW's result. OK. 

where P is the power radiated by the blackbody per unit area per unit solid angle, epsilon its emissivity, sigma the Stefan-Boltzmann constant and T the blackbody's temperature, and differentiates this to get

He takes "the mean temperature of the daily temperature delta or deviation" [???], which he says was about 90 deg F (305 K), and using this third equation to get ΔP/ΔT = 6.46 W/m2. Let's call this "A."

Then here's where Wiese makes his big mistake. He wants to use this result to determine the change in temperature from atmospheric CO2. But atmospheric CO2 isn't a blackbody. A blackbody is defined as one which absorbs all electromagnetic radiation incident upon it. Again, the Sun is a perfect example. Atmospheric CO2 isn't. 

Here's an absorption chart from NASA. In regions that matter, CO2 strongly absorbs around 4.3 microns, 9.4 microns, 10.4 microns and 15 microns (not shown). It doesn't absorb much anywhere else.

[In truth the spectrum is a lot more complicated, with hundreds of thousands of absorption lines, but still CO2 does not absorb all outgoing radiation, not by a long shot.]

So atmospheric CO2 isn't a blackbody. Everything Wiese does after this point is junk science. He just proceeds blindly along, mashes a couple of different things together and uses this equation:

Oh boy. Besides the CO2-blackbody problem, here there's a ground emissivity when there should be an atmospheric emissivity, a rather mysterious (to me at least, as defined) 90 F entered into the problem per above, a radiative forcing (forcings are defined at the troposphere) used as the radiance of the CO2-blackbody, not to mention all the other problems I originally laid out about the value of CO2 on that particular day, the other GHGs, the urban heat island effect, dimming pollutants, and.... What a mess!

Of course experts did conclude that this monstrous heat wave did have an anthropogenic component to it. I'm not going to go over that again. It killed about a thousand people. That Chuck Wiese and Lars Larson are trying to downplay and confuse the issue is really shameful, but not really surprising given what we've seen of them in the past. 

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Wheat and Corn

If food looks expensive in the grocery store, maybe this is part of the reason: the price of wheat is up 82% in the last five years. Up 32% just in the last 12 months. 

Corn is up 46% in the last 12 months. I've read that here in Oregon the wheat crop this year has been ruined by the late June heat wave. I don't know about elsewhere. In May the Wall Street Journal wrote

"Corn has been one of the sharpest risers in the broad rally in raw materials that is prompting companies to boost prices for goods and fueling concern among investors that inflation could hobble the post-pandemic economic recovery." 

But it's paywalled. This May 31st article in a midwestern publication wrote (but also paywalled)

"The good news for farmers: Corn prices are on the rise, up nearly 70 cents in the past three weeks to their highest level in nearly three years. The bad news: That spike is largely because of heavy rain and flooding this spring that have hampered planting across the corn belt and stoked fears about a drop in production."

So it's only good news if you weren't flooded out.... Climate change's extreme weather? Of course, heavy spring rains and flooding have happened before -- it's the risk of farming. But these days you have to wonder.

Here's the chart for wheat:

Market price of wheat

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Boycotting Texas

I wonder how many other scientists, speakers, organizations, etc. will be taking this position:
Kudos for Mann.

When I was younger a woman I was heavily involved with and I decided to have an abortion. We were educated and well off and used birth control. But a doctor failed to tell her a medication she temporarily needed counteracted the pill, and she got pregnant. 

It wasn't easy, but I don't regret what we did. I am outraged at what Texas has done and what other state legislatures will no doubt do, and the lies Supreme Court justices have told in order to pass nomination hearings, and the senators (like Susan Collins) who believed them in spite of evidence that they should not have. Those who favor a woman's right to choose are in the majority in this country and we have to take back this issue and allow women full autonomy over their bodies and their lives -- you know, like the anti-vaxxers insist on. I want young women and future young women to have the same options my girlfriend and I had -- the option to struggle with an ambiguous issue and, with or without a partner, decide for themselves.

It's not just the ban -- it's the draconian, mediaeval way in which Texas has instituted the ban, making everyone a bounty hunter against pregnant women in Texas seeking an abortion. You can be sued and convicted merely for aiding and abetting someone seeking an abortion. This threadroll by a lawyer and legal writer lays it out and is astonishing:

And it's not just abortion in Texas, though effectively banning it is bad enough. It's guns, restrictions on voting, the lack of affordable health care, banning the discussion of certain ideas (like "critical race theory," at least as the legislature defines it), a safety net, and more. Dana Milbank put it pretty well in the Washington Post yesterday: 
Texas shows us what post-democracy America would look like. Thanks to a series of actions by the Texas legislature and governor, we now see exactly what the Trumpified Republican Party wants: to take us to an America where women cannot get abortions, even in cases of rape and incest; an America where almost everybody can openly carry a gun in public, without license, without permit, without safety training and without fingerprinting; and an America where law-abiding Black and Latino citizens are disproportionately denied the right to vote.

This is where Texas and other red states are going, or have already gone. It is where the rest of America will go, unless those targeted by these new laws — women, people of color and all small “d” democrats — rise up.
It still isn't clear that Trump, abetted by Mitch McConnell's theft of Supreme Court seats, won't yet destroy democracy in America, which effectively destroys America. The fascists smell blood. They are moral cowards who want more. They're determined to get it.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Clearing Up Human Extinction

"There is no evidence of climate change scenarios that would render human beings extinct," Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and author of "The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet" (PublicAffairs, 2021), told Live Science in an email.
cc: Extinction Rebellion, Jem Bendell

Heel-to-Heel and Other Crosby News

Hockey season is less than four weeks away... The National Hockey League, that is. The regular season starts on October 12th with my team, the Penguins, at the Stanley Cup winning (again) Tampa Bay Lightning. 

2022 also has hockey in the Winter Olympics, and it looks like Canada has made their choice for captain, as if there was ever going to be any choice: Sidney Crosby. (Of course, he's also captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.) Here's Crosby and his fellow hometowner (close enough) Nate MacKinnon wearing the Canadian sweaters, with Crosby sporting the captain's "C" on his left shoulder:
If you're a hockey fan (or, needless to say, Canadian), Sidney Crosby will forever be a national hero due to scoring one of the most famous goals in hockey history/Canadian history (is there any difference?) at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in Vancouver, defeating the United States to win the gold medal in overtime. Here's a nice look back from the CBC:

Here's the live version of the play. First Crosby takes the puck through most of the U.S. team. Then, he defeats another U.S player to pass the puck. Then -- I didn't learn this until recently -- is that at 0:08 in the video you can hear Crosby yell "Iggy." He's shouting at Jarome Iginla, who he (Crosby) had just tossed the puck to back in the corner, to feed him the puck back on his (Crosby's) way to the goal. Amazing to able to hear that over the sound of the crowd.

Anyway, before I found the tweet on top with Crosby wearing Canada's "C," I was just going to post the video below, about Crosby's edgework on his skates. Crosby does this thing that I don't know if anyone else does, and you can see in the video's screencap and several times in the video -- at times he puts his skates heel-to-heel, so his feet are splayed out at 180 degrees to one another, and he then circles around, usually from behind the goal. Not only does he seem to gather a lot of speed from this maneuver, he keeps his face in front of him the entire time, looking right at the puck, instead of having to look to the side as everyone else has to when they're skating sideways. It's really beautiful to watch when he does it and it seems very effective.

I really regret that I didn't start watching hockey seriously until 2018, after the Penguins won their back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and most of all that I missed watching Sidney Crosby in his glory days from 2005 to about 2017, when he was spectacular. He's still pretty good, especially as a 200-foot player and particularly as a leader, and many people put him as one of the best five players to ever play the game (along with Gretzy, Lemieux, Orr, and Howe). But the Penguins aren't serious contenders anymore -- they've lost in the first round of the playoffs for three years in a row now -- and their superstars -- Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang -- are all in their mid-30s -- and they're slowing down and the team don't have the size needed in today's NHL, it seems. It's unlikely Crosby can lead them to another Stanley Cup. But hey, he has three, which is a lot more than most. And he has the Golden Goal, and about every trophy that it's possible to win. And he's such a nice guy.

Thanks for allowing an indulgent post. I guess this blog has become one of whatever I find interesting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

"Foundation" Trailer

A television series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy is coming to Apple TV+ on September 24, and the trailer (below) looks pretty good. It has two actors I like a lot, Lee Pace (of Halt and Catch Fire) and Jared Harris (of Chernobyl, Mad Men, and a lot else I don't know about I'm sure). Fortunately, I received a free year of Apple TV+ when I bought a new iPhone 12 this past spring, though I might have subscribed just to watch this. (It's only $4.99/month.) 

Another scifi show this channel has coming is Invasion -- "Earth is visited by an alien species that threatens humanity's existence." Trailer below, from the producer of The Martian, coming October 22. Looks rather cliched, and not as good. How could it be?

I started reading Asimov's Foundation trilogy a long time ago, and only made it about a third of the way though. I wasn't as into scifi then as I am now, so I'm going to go back and give it another go. What I mainly remember is that the nuclear powered spaceships seemed rather out-of-date, scifi-speaking, compared to Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. (But maybe more realistic!) I once saw Asimov speak at a scifi convention when I was a graduate student at Stony Brook. But then I wasn't into scifi at all and I don't remember a thing he said. But I had read several of his nonfiction books when I was in high school and college, books with chapters where he would just riff about various planets and on comets and asteroids and the solar system and whatever came to his mind--and a lot always came to his mind!--which I always found interesting. So I wanted to see him in person.

Friday, August 20, 2021

The Quiet Rage of the Responsible

That was the title of Paul Krugman's NYT column today: The Quiet Rage of the Responsible. Some put it in other ways, as below. I'm starting to feel angry, too, feeling that it's time to hunker down again, stay at home, when I barely started going out. With colder weather coming and now this much more contagious variant I wonder if this fall and winter is going to get worse than last year. I felt lucky to be spared last year and now it's seems we have to run the gauntlet again, largely because of the irresponsible and stupid behavior of a minority (read: MAGA) of America.

One thing I'm very thankful for is that I live in a part of the country where people are smart enough to take this pandemic seriously. The governor here in Oregon reinstituted a mask mandate as of last Friday, and when I was in the grocery store on Monday everyone had a mask on. I didn't see a single exception. COVID is rising in my county, which does contains a lot of rural area, but at least here in the suburbs, people are taking masks seriously.    

A 25-year-old Over a Burrito

Lee Billings of Scientific American has a great, lengthy article on the "Decadal Survey," or Astro2020, the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey. This report, which comes out every ten years and is a year overdue but is now in final peer review and supposed to be coming out sometime soon, sets priorities for US astronomical projects for the next ten years. It's so important towards determining which megatelescopes get funded that, as someone in the article says, it's sometimes called "the voice of God." As I'm currently writing a long article about astrobiology, I found it very clarifying and insightful.

Anyway, in terms of the Decadal Survey's impact on funding priorities, there's this interesting and revealing quote near the end of the article. "Tremblay" is Grant Tremblay, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution, then there's this wonderful (in its way) quote from a "Beltway insider."

Or rather the New Great Observatories can only happen if astronomers become more savvy at what Gaudi has termed “astropolitics.” “I’m utterly convinced a ‘New Great Observatories’ program with Lynx, Origins, and LUVOIR or HabEx—a ‘LuvEx,’ so to speak—could be done with a single phone call to the right person,” Tremblay says. “Because on Capitol Hill, it’s not about total cost—it’s about annual appropriation. A couple hundred million dollars a year added to NASA’s astrophysics line would suffice.”

Such hopeful speculations are not necessarily just wishful thinking. “We’re talking a 1 or 2 percent increase in real dollars to NASA’s budget to enable another Great Observatories program,” says one Beltway insider. “These are the perturbations concerted advocacy can create. Only about 30 senators are really involved in appropriations, and the annual discretionary budget of the federal government is running at about $2 trillion. So divide $2 trillion by 30 and then factor in the staffers working for each of those senators. You’ll find, perhaps to your horror, that anything much below about half a billion dollars a year is essentially left to staffers and lost in the margins.” Tremblay puts it more bluntly. “NASA does not really work for the Executive Office of the President,” he says. “It works for the 25-year-olds a few years out of college who serve on appropriations committees. A flagship mission—or a whole new series of Great Observatories—could be green-lit over lunch by some low-level staffer while they’re eating a burrito.”

Monday, August 16, 2021

Milky Way Over Mt Hood

A stunning photograph, by Ben Jackman, an amateur photographer from Portland, Oregon, via Facebook. Posted with permission.

The Ice Mountains of Pluto

This is just amazing -- it looks like sci fi, but it's real. Having read books like The Search for Planet X as a boy, its a real delight to see something like this later in life:

Friday, August 13, 2021

July: Hottest Month Ever Recorded

NOAA found the anomaly for the global mean surface temperature to be 0.93°C; NASA found 0.92°C, both were records for July in their respective datasets. And since July is the warmest month of the year, that makes July 2021 the hottest month in recorded history -- since 1880. OK, it was warmest only by 0.01°C. But a record's a record. 0.01°C a year is 1°C a century, after all, nothing to disregard in itself. It was hot in many places, and at least warm almost everywhere, except in the US midwest and south and in southern Africa:

Monday, August 09, 2021

More on the Acceleration of Global Warming

Here's more on the acceleration of global warming according to the Copernicus database. Their measurements start only in 1979, but we can see that the globe has warmed about 0.8 °C in just over 40 years. And that the second-order fit (=> acceleration) is better than the linear fit). But their dataset doesn't give us the total warming since the pre-industrial era.

However, if we project these trendlines out, we see that, relative to 1979, we're on a path to have about 1.2°C of warming by 2030 and 2.0°C of warming by 2050. Not good at all.

The only way to get decent figures on this crappy blogging system is if you click on them.

Amazing Fire Scene from Greece

Looks like something from a virtual reality set, but it's the scene from a boat as it leaves an island in Greece:

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Global Warming is Accelerating

These days the Copernicus Climate Change Service in Europe is the first monthly with a measure of the global average surface temperature anomaly, usually only a few days into the month.
They give the global anomaly, and one for Europe; their dataset starts in January 1979.
There's only about 10 and a few years available where you can calculate the 30-year trend.

But during that time, that trend is definitely increasing:

In 2009 the 30-year trend was 0.15°C/decade.

Now it's almost 0.25 C/decade.

The trend is increasing. A lot. In just over a decade.

The rate of global warming is increasing. That is, global warming is accelerating.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Email Notifications Going Away?

I received this notification from Blogger:

I honestly don't know much about this.... I guess some of your are getting a notification about new posts to this blog via email via this Feedburner? Now it's going away I guess.

I don't know how to fix that, I'm sorry.

But this blog must have an RSS feed (?), so hopefully you can get an email notification via that. I really don't understand RSS, so I'm sorry, I can't help you. But I hope you keep reading somehow....

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Steven Weinberg 1933-2021

Word is that the amazing physicist Steven Weinberg passed away yesterday at the age of 88. 

Peter Woit has more.

Weinberg was a giant in the field of theoretical physics, making fundamental contributions in unifying the weak and electromagnetic interactions. He also wrote a few textbooks, one, on general relativity and cosmology, which I once learned a lot from, and still look in occasionally to verify something. (It's rather dated now.) During graduate school I went into Manhattan with a couple of friends to see him speak, probably it was at Columbia University, but I don't remember what he talked about now. We just wanted to see Weinberg. 

Notably, Weinberg left Harvard in 1982 to go to the University of Texas at Austin. He must have gotten a very good deal, because it wasn't the kind of move you typically saw then, leaving such a prestigious university to go out west to a state school. 

Weinberg is well known for a quote from his very popular book The First Three Minutes about the Big Bang:

“The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”


Friday, July 23, 2021

Summary Judgment for CEI In Michael Mann Defamation Suit

Haven't digested this yet and won't get to it until later, but I'll put this here now. Comments welcome. DC Court Grants Summary Judgment for CEI In Michael Mann Defamation Suit

Trailer for "Dune" Remake

Here's the trailer for the remake of Dune. Looks really good. I wasn't into sci-fi when the book came out, although I bought it and had it on my bookshelf for years -- it's either permanently in some box, now too smelly to read, or I donated it before some move or another. And I just could never get into the original movie by David Lynch, though I tried more than once. But this looks like it has potential. In theatres and on HBO Max in the US October 22nd.

There was an earlier trailer last September:


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Fires in Siberia

One million hectares = 2.47 million acres = 3,861 sq miles = (62 miles)2.

By contrast Oregon has so far lost about 400,000 acres to fires this year. And yet it's already the 4th-worst year on record.

Cloud Feedback Amplifies Global Warming, and a Few More Things

Just a few things I noticed today: 
  • "Invitation to ETI" is a Web site inviting extraterrestrial intelligence to establish communication with a group of 100 scientists: . Nothing yet but many hoaxes.
  • This is important and once more reinforces that the cloud feedback to climate change is positive, that is to say, causes more warming:
"Global satellite data shows clouds will amplify global heating," 7/19/21 

The paper is:

"Observational evidence that cloud feedback amplifies global warming," Paulo Ceppi and Peer Nowack, PNAS July 27, 2021 118 (30) e2026290118; 

from the abstract: 
"We show that global cloud feedback is dominated by the sensitivity of clouds to surface temperature and tropospheric stability. Considering changes in just these two factors, we are able to constrain global cloud feedback to 0.43 ± 0.35 W⋅m−2K−1 (90% confidence), implying a robustly amplifying effect of clouds on global warming and only a 0.5% chance of ECS below 2 K."
  • Finally:

Monday, July 19, 2021

'Freedom Day' for the Virus or for People?

Here's how COVID looks on England's "Freedom Day." Looks more like freedom for the virus instead of for the people. It's exerting its rights in the US as well, which aren't even spelled out in the Constitution! Who says freedom isn't free?

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Chuck Wiese Explains It All

Well, of course he doesn't, but he does try to explain the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave without, of course, invoking manmade climate change, which he doesn't buy, but it's a hilarious case of numerology, so let's have a laugh.

In this case, over on Ed Berry's blog Chuck pulls numbers in from all over the solar system to figure that Portland's monster hot day in 2021 of 116°F wasn't really any worse than previous high temperatures in 1965 and 1981, writing,

On August 8th, the total surface radiation is 2.0920000 x 10^7 Jm-2 and likewise, over a 14-hour solar day gives an average surface solar insolation of 415 Wm-2. The difference between these two numbers is substantial at a whopping 46 Wm-2!

But this difference is mitigated some due to the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun which between June 27th and August 8th adds an additional 8 Wm-2 of solar insolation to TOA or 6 Wm-2 to the surface at the perpendicular angle to the atmosphere. With the noon solar angle of the sun calculated at 60.49 degrees above azimuth on August 8th, that reduces those values further at Portland’s latitude to 5.2 Wm-2, with the final difference in solar radiation being 40.8 Wm-2 further reduced to 36.72 Wm-2 with a surface emissivity of .9. This is still quite substantial.

If we divide this difference into the rate of change of flux with respect to temperature of 6.45 Wm-2K-1 given above, we get a surplus temperature of 5.69 deg C or 10.2 deg F compared to the earlier heatwaves of record on July 30, 1965, and on August 8h and 10th of 1981. Add this to these old records of 107 deg F and you get 117.2 deg F. That comes within 1.2 degF of what the new all-time high-temperature record is that was just set for Portland at 116 deg F yesterday.
Even though some of these numbers are given to only one significant figure, like 8 Wm-2, Chuck somehow comes up with a temperature good to four significant figures, 117.2 F.

But let's overlook that for a moment. While Chuck is carefully (kinda, sometimes, sort of, maybe, well not really) keeping track of forcings to an accuracy of 0.01 Wm-2, let's look at all the Wm-2 he's not keeping track of:
  • differences in CO2 concentrations above Portland itself, which he assumes are just the annual difference in the global number ("What about atmospheric CO2? In 1981, the Mauna Loa CO2 level was given as 341 ppmv whereas today it is 416 ppmv."), but of course we know it's much more complicated than that, varying by time of year, day of year, hour of the day, etc. A difference far larger than his 0.01 Wm-2, and even much higher than this.
  • What about the other greenhouse gases too -- methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, all the dozen other or so? Chuck says they don't matter, even 40 years later.
  • Any difference in total solar irradiance, where the Sun is in its solar cycle? Not according to Chuck.
  • What about pollution over Portland's temperature sensors, aerosols that can lead to cooling? Completely ignored.
  • The urban heat island effect? Has it increased in the decades since the earlier records in Portland? Not according to Chuck. Or perhaps he didn't even think about it.
  • Anything I haven't though of? Probably.
In other words, Chuck came up with an answer that was close enough for his purposes, and then ignored all other factors that might get in the way of the conclusion he wanted to reach, which was that global warming had nothing to do with Portland's heat wave -- a conclusion experts (which Chuck is most assuredly not) from World Weather Attribution have concluded.

Actually, this phenomenon, where scientists stop working on a problem when they reach the conclusion they had in mind, is a real, existing problem, for both theoreticians and experimentalists. It probably has a name, which philosophers and such might know about but scientists, who actually work in the field and are actually guilty of the problem, don't (as is usually the way). 

Except Chuck Wiese isn't a scientist, and never has been.

But here he's guilty of the problem nonetheless. Very guilty. 

Punishment: Read and work-through all of Pierrehumbert's textbook, or Dessler's, from cover to cover, to learn about all the many forcings. By the new year. Write a book report no shorter than 5,000 words. Publish on Ed Berry's blog.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

An Obviously False Claim from Cliff Mass

In his blog post supposedly showing that the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave had no relation to global warming, Cliff Mass displayed this chart of "Average number of days with temperatures above 99F in" Washington or Oregon and claims it has "no trend":

Yeah, right. Do you think maybe the rest of his post might suffer from such sloppy thinking? You have to wonder.

Gavin Schmidt caught Cliff on this on a comment on the RealClimate blog here. Tamino also gives it to Cliff here. After that Cliff gives up. Clearly there was some pretty sloppy thinking in his blog post.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

The Destruction of Lytton, British Columbia

Here's a overhead photograph of the destruction from the wildfire that swept through Lytton, British Columbia, Canada on June 30th, the day after it reached 49.6°C (121.3°F), the hottest temperature recorded in the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave. Almost like there was some cosmic plan. Via The Guardian.

What a lovely little town. Was.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

"Virtually Impossible Without Human-Caused Climate Change"

Here's the press release from World Weather Attribution about their study just out showing that the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave "was virtually impossible without human-caused climate change." 

There's a link to the study on that page as well.

Here's the NY Times article about it. 

They estimate this was about a 1 in 1,000 year event, but say it was so rare it's difficult to say for sure. 

This is where it gets interesting:

There are two possible sources of this extreme jump in peak temperatures. The first is that this is a very low probability event, even in the current climate which already includes about 1.2°C of global warming — the statistical equivalent of really bad luck, albeit aggravated by climate change. The second option is that nonlinear interactions in the climate have substantially increased the probability of such extreme heat, much beyond the gradual increase in heat extremes that has been observed up to now. We need to investigate the second possibility further, although we note the climate models do not show it. All numbers below assume that the heatwave was a very low probability event that was not caused by new nonlinearities.

[First, I wish scientists would stop using the word "nonlinear" when communicating with the public or journalists, because I wonder if either of them understands what it means. But that's a subject for another time.] 

The second possibility -- which I take to mean that the climate system may have passed some tipping point -- is most intriguing. Because if so, it means we don't know for sure what might be ahead. More events like the recent heat wave? Deep cold events? I don't know, heavier precipitation events, does anybody know? I think that's what's so worrisome, that this Pac NW event blew the records away by such large jumps it simply looks too strange and suspicious. 


Also, this heatwave was about 2°C hotter than it would have been if it had occurred at the beginning of the industrial revolution (when global mean temperatures were 1.2°C cooler than today).

That's 3.6°F, meaning 117°F would have been 113.4°F. Still pretty bad and still a record.

Looking into the future, in a world with 2°C of global warming (0.8°C warmer than today which at current emission levels would be reached as early as the 2040s), this event would have been another degree hotter. An event like this – currently estimated to occur only once every 1000 years, would occur roughly every 5 to 10 years in that future world with 2°C of global warming.

So 117°F would be 118.8°F. In the Pac NW. Every 5 to 10 years. Does this include the possibility such a heat wave might happen in Arizona or Saudi Arabia or India? What would be the maximum temperature there. Because that sounds scarier.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Names and Addresses

"The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses."

-- Utah Phillips, labor organizer, folk singer, story teller, poet (1935-2008)

COVID19 In US and Blogger's Ineptitude

I was going to put up a post about an increase in COVID19 cases in the US, with an accompanying graph, but Blogger's rendition of the graph is so ridiculously lousy it's almost useless. Look at this piece of crap:

How embarrassing, Google. Just to save a little space on your servers? Embarrassing to me as well. If you're not going to allow presentation of decent illustrations, what's the point of having a blogging platform at all?

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Pac NW Heat Wave Deaths Up to 604

This article from the Associated Press provides new information:

The Ocean Was On Fire

Perhaps you saw that yesterday the ocean was on fire:
Actually it was in the Gulf of Mexico near the Yucatan peninsula, and a ruptured gas well owned by Pemex, a state oil company of Mexico. They put it out a few hours later.

Nothing is getting very surprising anymore.

Here's a closeup:

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Overwhelming Empathy

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Don Jr. High as a Kite

Yeesh. Didn't this guy have presidential aspirations, and don't some Republicans support him? This was originally posted to Rumble on June 19th.

Monday, June 28, 2021


Beyond ridiculous. An all-time record, beating yesterday's 113°F. However
But a major cooldown is coming, and Salem residents should be able to feel it by this evening. By 8 p.m. Salem’s temperature is forecast to be in the 80 degree range and by Tuesday morning temperatures could be as cool as the low 60s.

Wet Bulb 35

"Wet Bulb 35" was what Kim Stanley Robinson labeled it in The Ministry of the Future, where his book opens with an episode of such temperatures killing millions of people, setting the stage for the climate crisis finally creating deep anger and a commitment to drastic action in many people.

Here's more from The Telegraph's article:

Here the humidity has been in the 20-25% range and wet bulb temperatures have only been around 70°F (21-22°C).

Wanting to Get Wobbly

I like this, from an article about the third-place finisher, Alicia Monson, at the Women's 10,000 meter run to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, held in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday in searing heat. (The top three finishers go to the Olympics.)

Sunday, June 27, 2021

43°C at 7 pm

43°C here where I live at 7 pm.

Heat as the Present Natural Calamity

This morning as I was leaving the window at the my drive-through coffee shop, the girl said, "Good luck today," which was new.

There's a feeling like a hurricane or other natural disaster is bearing down.

At 3:18 pm it's now 111°F. Supposed to go to 113°F.

This is really crazy. I've only ever see such temperatures in Tempe, Arizona, where I lived for a year and a half in the 1990s. Not even in New Mexico. And I don't have air conditioning here. So far I'm surviving with cold showers and fans, but it's still not pleasant. But it doesn't feel dangerous indoors. Right now the relative humidity is only 19%, so the wet bulb temperature is only 71°F (22°F), far below the death threshold of 35°C. I haven't heard of any deaths yet, but that was of yesterday -- today it's 6-7°F higher, but a little less humid. And residences/apartment buildings here aren't made of brick, which I believe was a big factor in the Chicago heat wave of 1995 that killed 739 people, because the buildings didn't cool well down at night.

Perhaps it's time the government subsidized air conditing units for the poor, and the electricity to pay for them.

Here's an interesting map of the degree of the heat dome over southern Canada and northern western US. You can notice the jaggly coast of British Columbia on the left edge of the 4-sigma bubble, and the straight US-Canadian border is right near the bottom of the same bubble. So it says Oregon is only in the 2-sigma range, which surprises me because our normal high for today is 78°F, and we're going to be 35°F above that. (?)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Think the Insurrection is Done? Not by a Long Shot

A call for the execution of those who honestly counted the vote in the 2020 presidential election. No kidding:


It's supposed to be 108 deg F here in Salem, Oregon on Sunday. It would be a record for June. I don't have air conditioning -- I read somewhere today that 1/3rd of residences in Portland don't -- and so far have gotten along OK with fans, even when it's been above 90 F for a few days (though it was a bit tough in the late afternoons). But 100+ F is going to be difficult, no doubt about it. My Weatherbug app is calling for 105 F on Saturday and 107 F on Sunday.

Wow, look at this piece of pure fascism:
TALLAHASSEE — In his continued push against the “indoctrination” of students, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed legislation that will require public universities and colleges to survey students, faculty and staff about their beliefs and viewpoints to support “intellectual diversity.”

The survey will discern “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented” in public universities and colleges, and seeks to find whether students, faculty and staff “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom,” according to the bill.
Republicans are the most dangerous group in America right now. And DeSantis is considered a leading candidate for the 2024 Republican candidate for president, even, I just read somewhere, polling above Trump.

Hockey: One thing I've noticed is that crowds at the NHL semifinal playoffs have been loudly singing the national anthem, in both the US and Canada. But especially in New York where the Islanders play. (US crowds are much larger than the Canadian crowds, due to greated pandemic restrictions still in Canada.) Somehow I think it's related to the pandemic ending.

Everyone says it, but it's true: there is nothing like playoff hockey. Every second of the game is such a battle. The puck is battled for no matter where it goes -- every movement results in a real fight for possession. I don't know of any other sport where every second of the game is such a battle between players. The intensity is an order of magnitude (in some units) above regular season play. The referees call almost no penalties, so it's often a free-for-all. All the playoff series are best of seven, so there's plenty of time for the development of team and personal animosities. Plenty of bad blood gets developed. Half the players have scraps or stitches on their face, and who knows what other injuries they're playing with. (Yet there are surprisingly few of the classic drop-the-gloves fights.) It's really something else.

I haven't confirmed this: