Saturday, December 20, 2014

In the Free Market Everything Has a Price

Some are just cheaper than others.

Eli has shown before that tobacco is really the original sin, responsible for much seemingly unrelated evil in the world, created in an effort to distract others from the problems associated with smoking.

Jules' Klimaatblog has dredged another piece of reality out of the tobacco archive which he modestly calls (Ab)using Libertarians as Useful Idiots.  Eli holds there is useful debate about one of the last two words. The memo is from the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco aka FOREST, an astroturf group, still going today, set up in 1978 by the tobacco lobby to oppose tobacco regulation.  The memo is from 1996, when tobacco regulations started to bite.  They saw trouble on the horizon from the younger generation who were growing up knowing that smoking was dangerous, but

The world still abounds with reactionaries, and in many ways, the 'fogey' strand of public opinion is probably destined to become even more prominent in the next few years, as the baby boom becomes irretrievably middle aged and gives up trying to pretend oterhwise.  The spinsterish attck on smoking and the 'wicked uncle' defenders of it (and of sedentary self indulgence generall) are both likely to gain in prominence and to quarrel with one another ever more publically.  Already the health and fitness craze has abated considerably
But there was hope
However we do not believe that the industry should despair, that the struggle for the right to smoke is destined for eventual defeat.  There is one major opportunity that FOREST has neglected in recent years, and this is the intellectual (as opposed to fogey/reationary) defense of individual liberty that has been dragged into public prominence on the coat tails of the classicla liberal or libertarian critique of the welfare state.  However in the last few years the obvious commonality of interest between FOREST and the youth wing of the libertarian/classical liberal revival has not resulted in an great active cooperation in this area
A situation they sent out to change by coopting the young libertarian wing of the Conservative Party in the UK.  Why, because politics was their only way out
What other argument is there?  Although we can and do vigorously refute the passive smoking hysteria, the primary health argument has been lost.  There is no way any feasible public case can be argued in medical terms.  While there are clearly perceivable psychological benefits from smoking, the evidence of risk to personal health is difficult to challenge.  Further, since the general population recognize these dangers our argument that smokers do exercise and "informed choice" is much stronger.
Moreover the freedom case also proactively strengthens us if the worst should happen:  if it were conclusively, scientifically demonstrated that passive smoking constituted a major health threat in normal social circumstances.  The libertarian case already argues, to use the jargon of the economists, that "externalities" are best "internalized" by the voluntary means of property rights.  In other words it would be up to individual property owners to establish smoking rules on their own property, not for the state to set down an absolute law applicable to all places.
 Permayhap bunnies recognize the similarity to how libertarians have been coopted by fossil fuel interests.  Perhaps they might recognize the same on two recent discussion threads, one at ATTP, and the other at the Good Bishops.  Perhaps.

The Shy Pacific

James Acker, a friend from USENET days writes from the Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Center about some recent results

The Pacific Ocean has been remarkably shy about its intentions this year, as many of the watched indicators have for months hovered close to (but not over) the edge of definitive El Niño conditions. Despite this uncertainty, the generally warmer-than-average waters of the Pacific have contributed to record high global surface temperatures in several recent months.  These warm waters are a significant factor if 2014 ultimately becomes the warmest calendar year ever recorded (instrumentally).
While, for the most part,  El Niño or not El Niño conditions are monitored by following physical conditions, such as sea surface temperature and height differences between the western (near Asia) and eastern Pacific (near South America).  In general sea surface temperature will rise in the central and eastern Pacific during an El Niño.

There is also an noticeable biological change associated with El Nino, a change in the color of the surface due to decreased biological activity as upwelling is limited, and fewer nutrients are found at the surface.  This reduces the amount of chlorophyll.  The associated color change can be observed from space and tells a strange tale.  There has definitely been strong surface warming extending from the western to central (Niño 4) Pacific and from there to the eastern Pacific (Niño 3 and 3,4) but the region closest to the South American coast near Peru and Ecuador has not warmed at all (Nino 1,2) which is fine for those who fish in those waters and depend on the upwelling nutrients to feed the fish they seek to catch.

Niño 3

Nino 1,2

This looks much more like what has come to be called a warm pool, central Pacific or Modoki El Niño, perhaps extending a bit more towards South America than usual (or a bit less as compared to the El Niño that your grandmother knew).  In an El Niño Modoki, the west coast of the US is hotter and drier than normal, exactly the opposite from the traditional El Niño.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hot Times

NOAA, in their conference call to discuss weather in November, put down a pretty strong marker that 2014 is going to be the hottest year on record.   It's actually a proposition, and Eli is not one to want an ear full of cider, so the Bunny recommends going out there and putting a few cans of shinola on it with your friendly local climate change deniers, whom, as every lagomorph knows can't tell shit from shinola.

Anyhow, Jake Crouch from NOAA points out that right now we are at the 6th warmest land temperature anomaly of 1.71 oF (don't you just hate, hate customary units, but it is the US) for Jan - November and the record warmest ocean temperature anomaly of 1.03 oF.  This, since the oceans are about 2/3 of the surface, makes for the warmest Jan-Nov period with an anomaly of 1.22 oF.

About the only places that are cool are eastern North America and the tip of South America.

Based on the NOAA record, for 2014 NOT to be the warmest ever, December would have to be the 21st coolest December on file.

However, since the oceans have a ginourmous thermal inertia, and it is the warmth in the oceans that is driving the record temperatures, that is, not very likely, as in bet that it won't happen.

Another part of the briefing dealt with the issue of whether an El Nino is developing in the Pacific, and the answer was, who knows, driven mostly by the observation that the whole damn tropical Pacific is hot, there is no gradient between the western and eastern parts to drive the trade winds.  This may indeed be a Strange New Climate with the heat from the oceans just rising to the surface, not your fathers kid.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Purposeful Avoidance of the Truth Is Sufficient to Establish Actual Malice

So Eli hied hisself down the DC Court of Appeals and picked up a copy of the oral argument in CEI and National Review vs. Michael Mann.  Having a new toy, the Bunny is now pleased to present a piece from Michael Mann's attorney, John Williams, somewhat in response to what was written at National Review on line by Charles Cooke

Judge Easterly, meanwhile, wanted to know how the plaintiffs could demonstrate “actual malice” if the defendants “genuinely” believe that “[man-made] climate change is a hoax.” “We don’t have to get to the question of whether climate change is real to look at the accusations,” Williams shot back. This did not seem to convince. “You need clear and convincing evidence for malice,” Easterly said. Simply stating that your critics disagree with you is insufficient. 
This description has caused great rejoicing amongst the Steyn Simberg crowd, but maybe no


As to what Eli thinks is going to happen, well, as National Law Journal points out, the court has to figure out if they are going to allow immediate appeals of SLAPP suit rulings, 
In May, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that an anonymous Wikipedia editor could appeal a judge's order denying a special motion to quash a subpoena for his identity. In that case, local attorney Susan Burke sued the editor over information posted on her Wikipedia page that she argued was defamatory. Judge Catharine Easterly (at left), one of the judges hearing Mann's case, wrote the opinion.

Lawyers for the defendants sued by Mann pointed to Burke's case in arguing that the court should allow immediate appeals for denials of special motions to dismiss. The D.C. government has supported that interpretation of the law. 
As the federal and local courts sort out the practical realities of the anti-SLAPP statute, cases testing the law continue to trickle up. On the heels of the Mann case in the D.C. Court of Appeals is a defamation lawsuit filed by a local doctor against a former patient who wrote a negative review on Yelp. A judge partially granted a motion to dismiss under the anti-SLAPP law. The case is being briefed.
So probably yes, immediate appeals will be allowed, but to avoid being snowed under, they are going to have to define the grounds for dismissing under the SLAPP law in detail.  Given that, the court will, IEHO and EINAL, either affirm the ruling of the court below, or set out clear rules and toss it back.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Have Not Inherited the Earth From Our Ancestors, We Are Stealing It From Our Children

Kate Sheppard writes at the Huff Post about the destruction of Shishmaref

Eight years ago the bunnies  read about how this Alaskan village on the shores of the Chukchi Sea is being devoured by climate change.  Indeed, in 2007 the AAAS even made a video about how it was the canary in the coal mine, a precursor to the fate of nations and this was featured at their annual meeting

As early as 2002, it was clear that the village was doomed and plans were drawn up to move to the mainland, but alas, the plans required money, and as Kate Sheppard writes, they required a site that was also not subject to climate change
Within a couple of years, however, the plan to move to Tin Creek fell apart. Subsequent feasibility studies revealed problems with the site. It too sits on permafrost -- which, in a melting Arctic, likely means that its days as a suitable location are also numbered. The town had to select a different location.
and the plan also required a couple of hundred million dollars, for a small village, with a small population, in the middle of nowhere.

So, Eli has a question.  How can our civilization adapt to climate change if we cannot even save a small village?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Shoving the Overton Window Towards Reality

Aaron Sorkin, creator and maybe most everything else of the HBO series Newsroom has groked Richard Alley, who of very anodyne hearings on climate change said:

This is certainly not both sides. If you want both sides, we would have to have somebody in here screaming a conniption fit on the red end, because you are hearing a very optimistic side
Sorkin has given use a useful reading of the red side, and yes the vision is deeply troubling. Improbable at this time, but not as improbable as the fantasies of climate change deniers.  Below  a small clip from the show


You can view the entire scene on YouTube

Randy Malamud at the Huff Post says we really are in the end times, Dave Roberts at Grist more or less concern trolls the show, and Eli, Eli is with Ugo Bardi, at Cassandra's Legacy who points out that
So, we have always been careful to follow the instructions: avoid scaring people, avoid looking like scaremongers, avoid even hinting that things may be worse, much worse than anyone could imagine. We have been careful to end all warnings with a list of solutions; saying that, sure, it looks bad, but the problem will go away if you just insulate your home, buy a smaller car, and turn off the lights when you leave a room. What we need is just a little bit of good will.

To no avail: the climate problem is still there, bigger and more fearsome everyday. Nothing changes, nothing moves, nothing. Nothing even remotely comparable to the scale of the threat. And, sometimes, you feel that you have had enough; you feel like screaming that this is NOT a problem you can solve with double-paned windows and smaller cars; it is NOT a problem for the next century; it is NOT a problem for another generation, It is here, it is now, it is big, it is damn big, and it is out of control. You feel like screaming that aloud.
Now the busy bunnies on the denial of climate change side, somehow, Eli notices, they never shrink from telling everybunny near and far that if we do something effective about climate change, well the world will collapse, the economy will die, the commies will take over and everyone will be screwed.

There is a certain asymmetry about this, and it is high time to make it clear that climate change ain't beanbag.

As Rick Perlstein has pointed out the long con is based on a theology of fear or better put, on arousal of fear in the audience, and based on recent voting, a successful one, Anybunny on the mailing list of the National Review, Mark Steyn, or any "conservative" think tank gets their fund raising emails each morning, designed to get the blood rising and the money flowing.

So tell again, why Sorkin's shot is futile?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Plenty of Trend at the Bottom

With all the talk about the pause, the plateau, new record surface temperatures and more, Eli was looking at something from his friend Rob Honeycutt which explained the world according to Judith Curry

when the Bunny noticed an interesting thing

Lots of trend at the bottom, and maybe even something to think about.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Ozone Photochemistry - Part 2

The purpose of this series of posts is to discuss the photochemistry leading to formation of tropospheric ozone and smog.

In Part 1 Eli discussed how tropospheric ozone forms and how photolysis of ozone leads to formation of HO radicals.  The story starts with the photodissociation of NO2 below 420 nm to form O atoms and NO.  The O atoms react with O2 molecules (plenty of them) to form ozone, O3.  Ozone it self is not the greatest thing in the world to breathe, and photolysis of ozone produces excited O(1D) atoms, which either react with water vapor to form HO radicals or are collisionally quenched back to O(3P), which, in turn reacts with O2 to reform ozone. 

Wither HO (or OH, depends on your age and field).  Let's start by not worrying about hydrocarbons.  In that case, in a really clean atmosphere the OH will react with carbon monoxide, CO  to form hydrogen atoms and CO2.  The carbon in CO2 is fully oxidized and that is the end of that.  The hydrogen atoms react with O2 to form hydroperoxyl radicals, HO2.  HO2 is a lot less reactive than HO, so as a general rule the atmosphere has a lot more HO2 than HO, but HO2 does react with NO and that reforms NO2

Eli is quite happy with the figure above, moving NO2 to the center emphasizes the intermingled NOx and HOx cycles.

There are a few things left out here.  The major one, of course, is reactions with volatile organic molecules including methane, CH4.  Eli has discussed that previously.  For another HO2 can react with ozone to form two molecules of O2 and HO, but that is roughly three orders of magnitude slower than the reaction with NO.  There are also some termination steps.  For example, the reaction of NO2 with HO yields nitric acid HNO3, which can rain out.  For another, HO + HO2 --> H2O + O2.  And then, of course, there is deposition.  Ozone hitting the ground will never rise.  Same for most of these other molecules.

Next we will discuss the implications of this chemistry for ozone in the unpolluted troposphere.

In the Beginning. . it was deja vue all over again

Jacquelyn Gill touched off a twitter storm of memories about climate blogging in the old days (11 years is old for a Bunny).  The Weasel has something, and so does David Appell.  It was more or less agreed that David's Quark Soup lead the way, if not then Tim Lambert @ Deltoid.  So Eli went to the science blogs and tried to find when Tim started blogging.

Not so simple.  He has moved his archive to science blogs when he moved Deltoid there.  Tim started writing for the net on gun and gun control.  There are articles there back to 1991 but it looks like they were posts or email exchanges with no comments.  The first commented posts appear in Fall 2003, and the first post about climate. . . . a keeper from March 2004, emerging from the nexus of tobacco control and climate change denial.  Tim had written about how The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition was an astroturfing operation of the tobacco industry (Steve Milloy, check) and Chris Mooney had an article in the Washington Post (told you nothing changes) on the sounds like science stuff.  Of course, the sounds like guys set one of them on Chris and somehow climate change got dragged in along with Richard Lindzen.  Tim, in his usual way just dug in.

I’ve been reluctant to write anything about the climate change debate because there is a daunting amount of material on the matter, and I don’t feel that I’ve read enough of it to make any kind of useful comment. However, the heart of Murray’s piece is the claim that Mooney misrepresented what the NAS report on climate change found. To see whether that claim is true you don’t have to read the entire literature, just the mercifully brief here. Lindzen (Richard Lindzen, check) writes: 
[I]t is quite wrong to say that our NAS study endorsed the credibility of the IPCC assessment report. We were asked to evaluate the IPCC “Summary for Policymakers” (SPM), the only part of the IPCC reports that is ever read or quoted by the media and politicians.
In fact, right in the very first paragraph of the report you find:
In particular, the written request (Appendix A) asked for the National Academies’ “assistance in identifying the areas in the science of climate change where there are the greatest certainties and uncertainties,” and “views on whether there are any substantive differences between the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Reports and the IPCC summaries.”
The panel was asked to look at the reports and the summary and give their views on whether their were differences. Section 7 of their report is devoted to this. Lindzen was one of the panel members. How could he possibly be unaware of what the panel was supposed to do?

Lindzen continues:
The SPM, which is seen as endorsing Kyoto, is commonly presented as the consensus of thousands of the world’s foremost climate scientists. In fact, it is no such thing. Largely for that reason, the NAS panel concluded that the SPM does not provide suitable guidance for the U.S. government . . .
This is pretty well the opposite of what the panel concluded. In section 7 they actually report:
After analysis, the committee finds that the conclusions presented in the SPM and the Technical Summary (TS) are consistent with the main body of the report.
Again, Lindzen is one of the authors of the report. How can he say that the report says the opposite of what it actually says?

Lindzen continues:
The full IPCC report, most of which is written by scientists about specific scientific topics in their areas of expertise, is an admirable description of research activities in climate science. It is not, however, directed at policy. The SPM is, of course, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives, rather than of scientists. As a consequence, the SPM has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.
Scary scenarios, where has Eli seen this recently
I suppose it is possible that this is true, but it is not what the NAS report says. The panel checked with the scientists and found “that no changes were made [to the SPM] without the consent of the convening lead authors”.

Lindzen continues:
Similarly, in the case of our NAS report, far too much attention was paid to the hastily prepared summary rather than to the body of the report. The summary claimed that greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Yet, the full text noted that 20 years was too short a period for estimating long term trends, a crucial point that the summary neglected to mention.
What? There are only 20 years of data for surface air temperatures? That doesn’t sound right. Let’s see what the full text really says:
Although warming at Earth’s surface has been quite pronounced during the past few decades, satellite measurements beginning in 1979 indicate relatively little warming of air temperature in the troposphere. The committee concurs with the findings of a recent National Research Council report, which concluded that the observed difference between surface and tropospheric temperature trends during the past 20 years is probably real, as well as its cautionary statement to the effect that temperature trends based on such short periods of record, with arbitrary start and end points, are not necessarily indicative of the long-term behavior of the climate system.
Wow. Global warming skeptics have been pointing at the satellite data and arguing that it shows that there is no warming going on. The NAS panel points out that 20 years of satellite data is probably not enough to judge long term trends, so it should be treated with caution.
And right they were
Lindzen then pretends that the caution about the satellite data was meant to apply to the panel’s statement that greenhouse gases were causing global warming. It clearly was not meant to apply to that statement and it doesn’t even make sense if you try to apply it to that statement, since surface temperature data goes back at least one hundred years. Again, Lindzen is one of the authors of the report. I can’t think of any excuse for what he wrote here, can you?

Lindzen goes on to claim:
Our primary conclusion was that despite some knowledge and agreement, the science is by no means settled.
Well, no. Their primary conclusion is expressed at the beginning of their summary:
Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-induced warming and associated sea level rises are expected to continue through the 21st century.
Natural variability, hmm. . . .
It is possible that their conclusion is wrong, but they certainly didn’t throw up their hands and say that the science wasn’t settled as Lindzen claims.

I find Lindzen’s systematic misrepresentation of the report that he helped author completely inexcusable. As for Murray, after endorsing Lindzen’s remarks, he very commendably offered a link to the report so that his readers could check for themselves, so I don’t know what to make of what he has done. Didn’t he read the report himself? To compound the problem he has used the same Lindzen quote to attack a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Murray wittily calls a group containing twenty Nobel Prize winners the “Union of Crackpot Scientists”.
Nothing new under the rug.