Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I am the object of people power at Change.org (all four of them)

The parallels between climate denial and fluoride opposition continue to intrigue, especially their mutual rejection of the importance of scientific consensus and their occasionally-sophisticated amateur understanding of the field.

Change.org put up a petition announcing I was personally legally responsible (news to me) for the damages and death caused by our decision to fluoridate our water. My response to the masses of four people* who've signed so far:

Thank you for caring about the quality of the public's water. This water is monitored and tested to a far greater extent than, for instance, bottled water, and is much safer as a result.

I have spent a great deal of time examining the health issues regarding fluoride. My conclusion is that I should not make my own conclusion, as there is too much conflicting information for me as a non-expert to make an adequate conclusion. Instead I look to see if there is a scientific consensus on this issue (and not just this issue but also climate change, evolution, or engineering issues). I think the scientific consensus is that water fluoridation does help prevent caries, and the prevention of caries can also prevent serious health complications from tooth decay. It also seems especially helpful for economically disadvantaged children. I do not think there is a scientific consensus that fluoride is harmless. At the present time, the risk from fluoride is only a potential risk, while the harm from not fluoridating is proven. In my opinion, that justifies fluoridation.

If you think the consensus is wrong, I suggest that you work to change the consensus.

I have written extensively on this at the links below:

http://rabett.blogspot.com/search?q=fluoride&max-results=20&by-date=true
http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2011/04/dupont-and-ozone-exxon-and-climate.html 
http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2011/03/fluoridating-water-or-funny-thing.html 
Finally, the petition severely overstates its arguments in several respects. Let's choose just one section:

"According to the National Research Council (NRC) and the 2012 Harvard University comprehensive review of the studies, fluoride in drinking water, even at low levels, damages the brain and significantly reduces intelligence. Animal studies conducted in the 1990s by EPA scientists found dementia-like effects at the same concentration (1 ppm) used to “fluoridate” water...."

That "Harvard" study, which I've read, was a study by several researchers affiliated with Harvard. I've no doubt you'll find other "Harvard" studies that support fluoridation. It also neglects the 2010 Health Canada analysis (a true consensus document, unlike the Harvard researchers) that found that most of the same Chinese studies used by the Harvard study were too unreliable and too poor quality to rely upon. The 2006 NRC report, which I've also read, reached the same conclusion that more research was needed. The petition's overstatement doesn't assist its goal.

I'm sorry I'm not in agreement with you. I do think certain issues like vulnerable individuals (guardians of infants reliant on milk formula, maybe others) could use separate education about the issues they face and possible advice to use other water sources. Meanwhile I will rely upon the consensus position, if one exists and as it changes over time. I urge you to go change it if you think that is that is the right approach.

*Not denigrating them at all, I'm glad they're involved, and I'm just recognizing that I swim in a small pond.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Where Has All the Sea Ice Gone


It has been a pretty warm Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and sea ice appear to be close to a record low for this time of year.  While IJIS is the Weasel's favorite, Cryosphere Today sea ice area is low, but not bottom of the chart, still sea ice growth has been slower than usual since September.  At first glance it looks like less ice in Baffin Bay and the Barents and Greenland Seas, and very little outside the Bering Strait.




A Wacky Vicuna With a Classical Degree Will Show the Way


Gavin shows where the boot is


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dissent blowback, or two cheers for Justice Scalia

I guess it's lawblogging day, so here's an idea I've been thinking about for years but haven't seen in the legal literature (maybe it's there somewhere):  when the dissent says the majority opinion could have massive legal implications, the dissent is helping making those implications happen.

Let's count down in reverse chronicological order, cheering for Justice Scalia and the anti-gay marriage lawyers:

Hooray!:  Judges in Utah and Ohio say Scalia in dissent was right in saying the Windsor decision requiring federal recognition of gay marriage requires those two states to give some recognition of gay marriage. 
Hip!:  Court majority refuses to respond to dissent's draft argument in a way that limits the potential legal implications of their conclusion. 
Hip!:  Dissent, following the initial vote that shows its opinion will be the dissent and not the majority, argues in a draft response to the draft majority opinion that it will have far-reaching (and by the dissent's perspective, negative) implications. 
Hooray!:  Lawyers/advocates opposing same-sex marriage, not yet knowing the outcome, argue that striking down DOMA could eventually strike down state laws prohibiting same sex marriage. 
Hip!:  Lawyers supporting same-sex marriage dance around implications of striking down DOMA 
Hip!:  Legal action against DOMA begins, but what are the broader legal implications of victory for either side?

I put in bold the two decision points where actors should have known that they were creating a risk of making things worse from their own perspective, but they went ahead and did it anyway. For a dissenting judge, I think the issue is that the judge has his own policy perspective, but he's also interested in being right. I bet Scalia may consider himself vindicated right now, even as he's also horrified at the prospect of loving gay couples being treated like real human beings.

The advocates OTOH might not want to be right about the broad negative implications of losing, but at the time they make their argument, they don't know they're going to lose, so they make the broad argument in hopes that it helps them win.

And while I think Scalia et al. are on the wrong side of history, the dissent blowback problem is value-neutral. If you're arguing for the good guys, you also have to consider what will happen when you say the other side's viewpoint will have huge implications, and the court goes with the other side anyway.

The Appeals Fairy Declines Jurisdiction

If you only read the comments and ignore the post, Volokh can get you through what happened in Mann vs. Steyn a week ago.  Briefly put, the Court of Appeals pointed out that the appeal against the original complaint was moot because there was an amended complaint, sent the whole thing back to the District Court, and told the District Court to allow a marginally allowed friend of the court brief from the ACLU to be considered.  For orientation, the original Judge, hearing the case was Judge Combs-Green, who retired transferring the case to Judge Weisberg.  There are a couple of good summaries, including this from Justin VC

The new trial court stated: "The only scenario likely to cause further delay of concern to Plaintiff is the possibility that the Court of Appeals will not rule on the jurisdictional issue or on the merits, but will dismiss the appeal as moot, concluding that the trial court should not have denied the motions to dismiss the first complaint after the Plaintiff had filed his amended complaint."
But that was not the basis of the Court's mootness ruling. It did not find that the appeal was moot because the trial court ruled on the motion to dismiss after the filing of the amended complaint. Rather, it found the appeal moot because the appealed complaint was not the operative complaint anymore, regardless of the timing of the trial court's decision. The distinction may elide the new trial court, but the appellate court's decision does not specify anything that should eradicate law of the case. Perhaps law of the case should not apply due to the judge's initial error anyway, but that wasn't the basis of the COA's decision.
Which goes back to not filing frivolous appeals. Knowing that they were not entitled to an interlocutory appeal, they filed one anyway. This was not good legal strategy. If the first decision was fortuitously not law of the case - because of the judge's decision to rule on the initial motion to dismiss - then that argument should have been made and decided at the trial level; exactly like it now should. At best, your argument that these lawyers are geniuses is that they set up a frivolous appeal to get a mootness ruling that could be used to confuse the trial court in order to issue a ruling they are probably entitled to anyway. That's simply a waste of resources.
And note that Judge Weisberg telegraphs that he understands Judge Combs-Green's ruling to be procedurally deficient. So defendants' attorneys didn't need to waste the Court of Appeals' time to explain that to Judge Weisberg. He's likely to do what he would have done absent the frivolous appeal in the first instance.
PS - If I was a judge, and someone filed an appeal with me that lacked jurisdiction due to mootness, and counsel admitted they knew it was moot when they filed it, I would sanction counsel for abuse of process. 
However, the thing about the VC comments which could potentially have repercussions was the appearance of one of the defendants, Rand Simberg, dissing Judge Combs-Green.  While she has taken retired status, it is never a good idea to mouth off about a colleague of the sitting judge.Jukeboxgrad put it pretty well
Number comments in this thread posted by Rand Simberg: 61.

Number comments in this thread posted by Rand Simberg that Rand Simberg's attorneys wish he hadn't posted: 61.
 Among them for sure
Exactly.

This has been a case run on luck so far. We've had bad luck by having the previous judge, but her incompetence has also been ultimately to our favor, and against Mann's.

That is why we are breaking out champagne.

UPDATE:  Eli has never been one to resist

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Something Romantic for the Snuggle Bunnies

Well Eli is  a combustion scientist.  As a hint this is pretty much the nerd version of a burning log.  You have to provide the action.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Wish They Were Here

Preventable things are happening where you would expect folk like Tony Watts, Steve McIntyre, Lucia, Steve Mosher, Judith Curry and others of that direction to lend a hand in alleviating the problems. 

 First, as Eli has been talking a bit about, the Keeling Curve is under threat and needs support.  If anyone cares about climate records, this is certainly a worthy project. 

Second, JPvan Yperselee tweets that Canada is dismantling libraries that contain a great deal of original material from research projects including seven key ones owned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  Much is irretrievably lost

As reported by The Tyee earlier this month, key libraries dismantled by the government included the famous Freshwater Institute library in Winnipeg; the historic St. Andrews Biological Station (SABS) in St. Andrews, New Brunswick (that's where famed environmental scientist Rachel Carson did some of her research for Silent Spring) and one of the world's finest ocean collections at Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland.

At the same time the government has killed research groups that depended on those libraries such as the Experimental Lakes Area, the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission and the DFO's entire contaminants research program. The Freshwater Institute as well as the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research (COOGER) has lost much of their funding and staff, too.
You could read this as a bit of snark, it is not.  Eli, really thinks this is the sort of thing where all sides could be on the same side.  Eli recalls reading about the need for data preservation.  Remind the others.

An Appeal from Ralph Keeling


Ralph Keeling has written a letter to the world, appealing for help in keeping the Scripps  CO2 and O2 programs going.  Those bunnies who have not contributed yet, might do so now.  Others could spread the word.  The big button on the left takes you directly to the donation page. 
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friends,

I am writing as the director of the Scripps CO2 and O2 programs, which keep track of how these vital gases are changing in the atmosphere over time.  The CO2 measurements include the iconic Mauna Loa record, now commonly known as the “Keeling Curve”, which was started by my father in the late 1950s.


The O2 measurements, carried out on samples from Mauna Loa and many other stations, also provide critical information about how the planet is changing.  The measurements show that the world’s O2 supply is slowly decreasing, and have helped prove that the CO2 increase is caused by fossil fuel burning, but offset by natural sinks of CO2 in the land and oceans.

The need to continue these measurements has not diminished. The planet is undergoing dramatic changes, unprecedented for millions of years.  This past year, our group reported that CO2 topped 400 parts per million at Mauna Loa for the first time. We also reported a shockingly large and unexpected increase in the seasonal swings in CO2 between summer and winter at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.  The boreal forests are evidently behaving very differently than 50 years ago.  Meanwhile, the oceans are acidifying, ice is melting, sea level is rising, the frequency of extreme storms seems to be increasing.  Scientists from around the world are scrambling to figure out what is going on and what the future holds, as CO2 continues to rise.  Others are working on ideas for adapting to these changes or mitigating their impacts on society.  While we urgently need solutions to cope with these challenges, we also can’t afford to take our eyes off the planet.

The Scripps CO2 and O2 measurements now face severe funding challenges.  The situation is most urgent for the O2 measurements.  These measurements have been supported for decades through proposals submitted every few years to the federal agencies.  The value of these measurements is not questioned, but federal funding for these programs has never been so tenuous.  This is the basis for this unusual appeal to the public at large.

So why is adequate federal support not available?   You might think that funding cutbacks are the main problem.  Actually, there are other factors that are probably more important.

One is that measurements with global scope tend to fall between the cracks of the different federal agencies. Our measurements provide insight into land and ocean processes, and into changes in the Arctic, Antarctic, tropics, and temperate latitudes.  Ironically, it’s less challenging at present to support smaller-scale observations, such as of a forest, coral reef, or city, than to support observations with holistic planetary importance.  In reality, of course, we need both kinds of measurements.

Another reason is that long-term observations of the environment continue to be viewed as outside the scope of normal scientific research.  After 20 or 30 years of proposals, the science agencies take the view that continued support ought to be someone else’s concern.   While the measurements gain importance with time, their longevity actually makes them harder, not easier, to support.

I have struggled throughout my career to cope with these challenges, and I will continue the struggle.

The quest for continued federal support will not end.

For now, I ask for your support so that we can keep up these activities and sustain our watch on the planet in this time of unprecedented global change.

Sincerely,

Ralph F. Keeling

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Who's Funding the Climate Change Deniers?

A recent article by a sociology professor at Drexel University, Robert Brulle, has uncovered the semi-secret network of funding for the climate change deniers. It's not just the Koch brothers and Exxon-Mobil any more. These two funders are now anonymous, as the climate change denier network has shifted to untraceable sources. Most of the funds are now laundered through trusts that give anonymity to both the donor and the recipient.

Prof. Brulle found 91 think-tanks and other organizations, handling $7B from 2003-2010. Nearly 80% of these organizations are incorporated as non-profit charities for tax purposes.

Many of the donors are from the fossil-fuels industry. Are you surprised? Me neither.

But I have to admit being surprise at the billion-dollar-a-year level of funding.

The article, published in Climatic Change, can be found along with the *excellent* news release from the Drexel University website, located here.

I found out about it from an article by Duncan Geere, on the UK edition of Wired., whose story was picked up by the David Packman show,which in turn was picked up by the Common Dreams news aggregator, where I picked it up.

It's an old story, which has gotten worse recently, since a Supreme Court decision in which the Supremes declared that corporations are people, with rights protected by the Constitution. Some of the right-wingers on the Supreme Court claim to be strict constructionists, holding to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, authors of the Constitution. Three questions for anyone believing this nonsense: where does the Constitution declare that corporations are people? Can a corporation be put in jail? Can a corporation be given the death penalty?

Earlier I reviewed a book by James Lawrence Powell, The Inquisition of Climate Science, in the May 2012 issue of Monthly Review magazine(which can be found on their website). The editor of MR said nice things about the article. And I advertised the article on Rabett Run for the gentle and (not-so-gentle) readers.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Art of the Grift


Eli had a giggle after reading Roger Sr.'s submission, but the Bunny's immediate concern was, of course,  finding enough calories for his feathered friend in the UK IPCC 5th Assessment Review.  After all, the winds have been strong,  up to 160 kph, but that's at ground level, up in the jet stream, where the Raptor flies it is a record 458 kph, with the low of the storm maybe at 930 mbar, enough even to blow the guy backwards. 

Not to worry, Ethon tweeted, while shining his beak, a Donna Laframboise for desert after an empty Pielkepie is tasty, if not nourishing.  A piece of  fruitcake after  thin gruel.  Well, Junior High School fruitcake, cause that is probably the place she last took a science course, and her understanding of what science is, is, let Eli be charitable in this season, lacking.

IS THIS SCIENCE?
she writes
"The IPCC is a scientific body," proclaims the IPCC's website. But is this true? Does the mere fact that scientists are involved make an entity a scientific body? Would we describe a chess club as a scientific body simply because members were scientists? 
 There is a name for this fallacy, actually several, but Eli prefers Logic Fail.  The trick is to get the reader going so fast that she floats right over the wait, this is not that.   Eli might not describe a chess club with scientists as members a scientific body, but, Donna, the Royal Society, is also composed of scientists, you wanna argue that it is a chess club?  Though Laframboise is no scientist, she is a master of the false analogy which Eli assigns as indirect prevarication, not really a straight out lie, but designed to mislead.  Of course, once the bait has been swallowed, the indirect prevaricator reels in the fish 

Now some, not Eli to be sure, have been putting out the rumor that Donna L will be giving oral testimony at the Parliament.  Were Eli a member of the committee, he would start by asking her, if she considered the Royal Society and friends to be scientific bodies.  It can only go downhill from there as the bunnies will see. The written submission then stretches this already broken analogy using a rather adolescent understanding of science. 
The IPCC website acknowledges that it "does not conduct any research." Its reports are massive literature reviews. IPCC personnel survey the scientific literature and, in the course of writing multi-thousand-page assessment report make thousands of judgment calls as to what that literature tells us about climate change, humanity, and the relationship between the two.

Judgment calls are not science They are influenced by an individual's assumptions, breadth and depth of experience, cultural and spiritual, economic and political analyses, and so forth.
On the other paw, some, like Lucia, would busy out looking at how many pages there are in the IPCC AR5 or AR4.  Eli is above that.  Still, were Eli Lucia or Steve Mosher, something Ms. Rabett forbids on pain of messy divorce, a fierce debate would ensue about whether less than 3000 pages is many thousand and how this is a major scientific issue fail.  This would be blamed on Michael Mann and Steve McIntyre would be thanked for his helpful contribution.  The bunny is bigger than that and there are tastier fish in this barrel

Let us start with that somehow, somehow, scientific education got left off and experience in the area under study got pushed under the rug, but to really understand where she is going, take a look at the next in Laframboise's little listie.
IPCC personnel can be compared to members of a jury. Evidence is evaluated. Decisions are made as to what conclusions are warranted. No one considers a jury a scientific body - even when forensic science provides much of the evidence
The good Junior High School Scientist now throws her ace down on the table.  After all, she is a scientifical person who watches CSI on TV.   Having established her indirect prevarication (weren't looking were you Bucky?) she now reels in the fish.  Except, well, except that a jury of laypeople selected from the community is not like an IPCC working group.  The useful mapping of the IPCC working groups is to National Academy of Science or Royal Society panels pulled together to investigate questions of national and international interest.  And, of course, there are multi-hundred page reports generated like

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change:-Anticipating Surprises (2013)
The Nexus of Biofuels, Climate Change, and Human Health:-Workshop Summary (2013)
Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices:-PDF Booklet (2012)
Ecological Impacts of Climate Change- (2008) Advancing the Science of Climate Change- (2010)
Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change- (2010)

and, again, were Eli to be on the Parliamentary Committee, the Bunny would have a few of these on hand to show Ms. Laframboise and ask her precisely what she meant.  Eli would also recommend a wearing a face covering safety shield and a bunny suit to block the word salad that will emerge, but the important point is not to accept the "just like", it ain't. 
FIT FOR JURY DUTY
Well, if you have a false analogy, push it to the limit, and the next section of Donna's rant tries to say that anyone who knows about anything and has an opinion on it is not fit to render judgement on the thing.  This ignores a lot, but it is designed to appeal to the legally trained whose job is to keep the jury ignorant about facts that are inconvenient to their case and another part of which is to confuse the jury.  DL hauls out the names of a few AR5 authors and reviewers she considers tainted.  Folk like Michael Oppenheimer who was chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.  Eli can see that, Haroon Kheshgi who works for Exxon Mobil Corportate Strategic Research, and raise Mustafa Babiker, from Saudi Aramco. 

Let us close for the day, perhaps more tomorrow, with Eli's Analogy, Donna Laframboise is like a crooked nail. Just as a crooked nail must be either be discarded, or straightened out so must Donna Laframboise,

or as Robert put it Donna Laframboise is an inspiration to self-published resume-padders everywhere.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pielkes All The Way Down


Eli came into the kitchen only to see Ethon tearing into what looked like some extremely dry and dessicated pemmican.  The Bird was peckish.  It's all there is, he tweeted, no food value in this stuff and your fridge is stuffed with useless carrots.  Eli, Ethon asked, have you read the written submissions to the British Parliament's IPCC 5th Assessment Review.     The Weasel had sort of started the job.  Knocked down some low hanging fruit.  Ethon noticing that Roger Sr. has submitted and flew over there in search of liver chunks, after all Roger Sr. is about the tastiest that the rejectionists have.  A sad waste of calories.  RP phoned it in.

Several years ago, Michael Tobis, pointed out that a paper by Roger Sr, Klotzbach, et al.., was pretty much Pielkes all the way down.  Each sequential step was based on a previous paper by Roger Sr.

It’s a slippery slope. Once you look into what is being proposed as contrary science, it’s hard to avoid Pielke-land. . . .

Note that we have a chain, Klotzbach Pielke Pielke Christy; McNider 2009 to Matsui; Pielke 2005 to Eastman Coghenour; Pielke 2001 to Mahrer; Pielke 1977.

You can’t fool me Mr. Feynmann. It’s Pielkes all the way down.
Somewhat modestly (if MT has one fault it is that he is overmodest) MT never attempted to generalize. Roger Sr's written submission is a new high.
Tin(sic) my testimony to you, there is a wide range of subjects on climate I could present, which were inadequately or not at all assessed in the 2013 WG1 IPCC Report. I present four themes here. They (sic) which are discussed in detail in the articles and books listed under each.
And the old guy proceeds to list four of five of his publications under each question with a few words at the end.  Starting with the first, because after that it is hard to not require an extra favorite food groups to keep up and revive the spirits, RP Sr. writes

  • The IPCC AR5 Physical Science assessment inadequately considered the spectrum of human and natural climate forcings and feedbacks. Changes in climate are not dominated by the human input of greenhouse gases.
after listing  five of his papers, Roger summarizes
In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, other first-order human climate forcings are important to understanding the future behavior of Earth’s climate. These forcings are spatially heterogeneous and include the effect of aerosols on clouds and associated precipitation [e.g., Rosenfeld et al., 2008], the influence of aerosol deposition (e.g., black carbon (soot) [Flanner et al. 2007] and reactive nitrogen [Galloway et al., 2004]), and the role of changes in land use/land cover [e.g., Takata et al., 2009].

Unfortunately, the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment did not sufficiently acknowledge the importance of these other human climate forcings in altering regional and global climate and their effects on predictability at the regional scale. It also placed too much emphasis on average global forcing from a limited set of human climate forcings.
As a start, just to show where RPSr. is coming from, take a look at Figure 8.17 (details at Real Climate).  Shameful how the IPCC WG1 never ever mentions, considers, or evaluates any of these things


even worse, as RP Sr. puts it, the IPCC completely neglects the heterogeneous nature of many forcings.  Well, Eli has been told not to cite, quote or distribute, but perhaps a couple of sentences will be allowed to show how the IPCC WG1 authors have again completely neglected their duty
Forcing agents such as aerosols, ozone and land albedo changes are highly heterogeneous spatially and temporally.
The pattern and spatial gradients of forcing affect global and regional temperature responses as well as other aspects of climate response such as the hydrologic cycle. [8.5.2; Figure 8.18, Figure 8.19, Figure 8.20]
Oh, yes, Chapter 8.6 is, wait for it, Geographic Distribution of Radiative Forcing which obviously is not considered in Chapter 14 Climate Phenomena and their Relevance for Future Regional Climate Chang.

Perhaps Roger Sr. would like to spend some quality time with Ethon actually reading the AR5 WG1.  And, well if his POV differs, he can always join the NIPCC.  Might improve that product.

A carbon-reduction tax credit is a carbon tax, and that's a good thing

Stoats of the world can take pleasure in this proposal by outgoing senator Max Baucus to simplify the approximately one billion Amercian clean energy tax incentives and to provide instead a tax credit based on how much carbon reduction (above a threshold) is produced per unit of electricity or unit of transportation fuel.

There's no economic difference between providing a tax credit that reduces from a higher baseline, versus imposing a tax that increases from a lower baseline, so long as they're equally comprehensive. That is a problem with Baucus' proposal in that it's not comprehensive (e.g., no incentive for conservation and no incentive for carbon savings below the threshold) but I expect a similar problem would result from an overt carbon tax that went through political processing. So I disagree with the article's distinction between this credit and a tax. What the credit also does is make it easier poltically to do a trade at some point - we'll give up this carbon reduction tax credit in return for (hopefully) a more comprehensive carbon tax.

There's also a problem in the failure to reward technological development that's too distant to be commercially rewarding, but that could be handled differently.

Just a proposal, but a good one.

Karl Doenitz on Adolf Hitler

From the Nuremberg Interviews:

[Hitler] always seemed reasonable and his demands seemed for the good of Germany. Now I see that he had too little consideration for the other peoples, such as the Jews....

Well, that's one way to put it.

Maybe he did deserve a ten-year sentence.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quantifying some of the deaths from sea level rise

The Gort comment thread produced this at one point:

No one can seem to point to any real harm [from climate change], certainly not currently.
So that's silly, as well as completely missing the point that you can attribute events to climate change if you conduct the thought experiment of removing all the increased greenhouse gases and ocean heat. It also shows the real motivation for lukewarmers tricking themselves on the issue of attributing severe events - they think that if you can't attribute any one injury with certainty to climate change, then no one anywhere has been injured by climate change.

A general solution to this is to educate people about statistics and probability, but a more specific response might be to look at the 6000-plus deaths from Typhoon Haiyan. Wiki says most of the damage and loss of life was from a storm surge of up to 19 feet. In that part of the world, sea level rise to date is even worse than normal. Let's say it's one foot, although you could plug in another number.

Now depending on how good the original data was or how well it could be reconstructed, you could figure out the death rate in an area at a certain level above sea level that was hit by a surge, compare it to death rates a foot higher and a foot lower in sea level and figure out the incremental mortality from sea level rise. For example an area 16 feet above sea level with a 19 foot surge might experiences one death while a similarly-dense bordering area 15 feet above sea level experiences 10 deaths, 14 feet elevation 30 deaths, and 13 feet with 60 deaths. Sea level rise is responsible for 9 deaths at 15 feet, 20 deaths at 14 feet, and 30 deaths at 13 feet. You could do the same calculation with property damage. My guess is the numbers keep going up until you reach areas where everything was flattened.

For people, an additional complication is that many evacuated, so the actual population density when the storm hit probably wasn't what a survey showed in normal times. Maybe you can account for this. I'd guess though that the lowest areas were the most likely to evacuate, so not accounting for evacuations would underestimate the effect of sea level rise.

And Haiyan was just one event.

Continuing a Rabett Run Tradition


Ms. Rabett claims that if you do it once, it is habit, twice tradition and three times, well who can remember that far back.   20122008, 2007,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yosemite

Then:




From National Geographic, via Buzzfeed. I wanted to see if that foreground tree is still there.



Now:



From Google Street View. Same stones (with a few patch jobs). The tree's scrawnier but definitely the same one 50+ years later. I wonder how long it's been there.


UPDATE:  I think I agree with the comments, the Street View should be a car length to the left. Still the right tree, though.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Where will the Fat Elf Go When the North Pole Starts to Melt

Peter Gleick has looked in his letter box to find a sad letter he had to send his grandchildren in 2020, which starts.



If you don't see the player your browser does not support the audio element. Listen here

 I'm sorry to have to tell you there will be no presents from Santa this year.
It's not that you've been bad. Rather the world's governments (sometimes run by bad boys and girls now grown up) have failed to address the long-worsening problem of climate change. Santa is the latest climate victim. As the last of the summer ice at the North Pole finally disappeared, Santa's workshop sank to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. When the insurance companies cancelled most flood insurance policies, and Canada claimed the North Pole, Santa lost everything and became the latest climate refugee.. . . .
James Titus, aka Captain Sea Level Rise, in another example of time travel provided the musical accompaniment in 1988.  It was a very good year for climate prognostication

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Christmas Gift


Gregory Thompson, an oceanographer,  has reduced the IPCC WG1 report to a series of 19 illustrated Haiku which can be reproduced as a booklet.  The perfect gift for bunnies who care, and, alas, do not.  The entire series is available at Sightline as a file from which a booklet can be printed or as slides.  There is a video, Eli imagines the phone app will soon appear.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Whitehouse on Wednesday

On magical thinking how God will tidy up after our follies


Elli Thought Better of the Bunnies

Radar O'Reilly has heard that the median twitter account has a following of one.  Eli is at 177, which as Ms. Rabett puts it is more that she expected from a stuffed bunny, but, you out there, sign up.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Please take 30 seconds to sign the Consensus For Action

Statement here and at the California Governor's office. IIRC, it originally just had scientist signers but is now open to the rest of us. While it leads with climate change, it includes biodiversity, loss of natural lands, pollution, and (brave for a politician) overpopulation.

I could see some quibbling with the one-page summary describing quality of life to suffer "substantial degradation by 2050" if problems aren't fixed, but not enough to avoid signing. For certain aspects of quality of life it's definitely true (four of those five challenges, mixed result for pollution) and the quality of life will be much worse than it would be if we don't address the challenges. A large number of people will die as a result of the failure to solve those challenges. Whether economic outcomes will be worse than present seems hard to justify, but that's not the only way to determine quality of life. The important thing is to do something about these challenges, and taking 30 seconds to endorse it seems reasonable.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gort upgrades the Climate Changeometer with Ocean Dethermalization

When Gort first visited in 1951, it spent little effort on climate change issues, focusing on other aspects of our planet instead:




Gort returned in 2012 to answer puny human climatologist questions about whether climate change caused particular weather phenomena by making an obvious point:  rather than struggle with theoretical analysis, you can simply use your Climate Changeometer to remove all the excess greenhouse gases and aerosols above natural levels and then measure the outcome. Comments at the link suggested temps on land would respond to Gort quickly, within a week or so, while temps above the oceans could take months and years.

Gort now brings us an upgrade.

The Climate Changeometer now comes with Ocean Dethermalization. The point is to think how current weather patterns are affected by anthropogenic climate change, so it's necessary to consider the vast majority of that heat accumulating in the oceans. Gort instantly removes that heat at the same time as it put the atmosphere back to 1860 levels. The Dethermalizer also depuffenates the oceans from the sea level rise caused by thermal expansion. I'm not sure how quickly the oceans would drop - if it's instantaneous, let's assume Gort will buffer any tsunami type effect.

I'd guess is that if you apply this experiment to a tropical storm a few days away from landfall, it would have a significant effect on that storm. I think this is a helpful way to communicate how we've changed our climate. It's probably more scientifically meaningful on a global and longer term level than about immediate weather phenomena, which might be why there's actual scholarship about it (thanks MMM). On the level of immediate weather, this combats the delayist/denialist dodge that attribution for individual weather events is impossible (allegedly), so there's no point in discussing climate change when we face weather tragedies that are made more likely by climate change.

One other point - I do like the argument that we're living in the Anthropocene such that but for climate change, the individual weather events we see wouldn't have happened. I made the argument a while back, glad to see it more prevalent now.

(And btw, credit to Aaron in the 2012 post for also thinking about ocean heat.)

Asimbonanga uMandela thina


We can no longer see him




Lyrics

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shaking the Cup for Science


This being the Christmas season, a time of good cheer, charity and thoughtfulness Eli would like to direct the bunnies attention towards support of a cultural icon and a vital climate data set, the Keeling curve.  As many are aware funding for long term data sets has always been a problem.  The new, the sexy, the different are things that funding agencies have always wanted.  Credit to Charles and now Ralph Keeling who have soldiered through tough times to provide us with a reliable, nay a painstakingly reliable record of carbon dioxide mixing ratios.

UPDATE:  Fergus Brown joins the campaign

Why should it matter? Because it is difficult enough to achieve public recognition of AGW without making a mess of the important work which lies at the heart of the science, as well as the public outreach. Because we need to know. Because the best science (and climate change projections) comes from the best observations.

If you understand the importance of us having datasets like this, and the importance of consistency and continuity, I follow Eli in suggesting that you may wish to make a small donation. This process has been shown to be effective and the 'cause' in this case is eminently worthy. Give if you can, and promote publically.
Spencer Weart describes the uncertainty of early days, with a telling paragraph
"Monitoring" a gas in the atmosphere seemed just dull plodding around a beaten track, calling to mind the discredited statistical climatology of an earlier generation. The NSF was supposed to fund pathbreaking science, and officials looked for striking new results, new ideas that could be published in leading scientific journals — not just that steady, relentless upward march of data points, year after year after year. A reviewer who grudgingly supported one of Keeling's proposals remarked in 1979, " CO2 monitoring is like motherhood.... It does appear, however, that the former is even more expensive."
and indeed there is a break in the records where the equipment went south and funds to repair it had to be begged, borrowed, and well, let Eli simply say that Charles David Keeling was, as Roger Revelle said
"Keeling's a peculiar guy.  He wants to measure CO2 in his belly... And he wants to measure it with the greatest precision and the greatest accuracy he possibly can." 
And he did and the results have served us well for understanding climate.

But, and there always is a but, hard times are upon Ralph Keeling and Scripps.  Funding is vanishing, and Scripps has launched an appeal.  Well, scientist like they buried their lede. 

Take a look at the Keeling Curve web site.  Where is the appeal?


 Up there on the left.  Eli OTOH, whatever the Rabett is, is not subtle.

So Ms. Rabett has taken it upon Eli to take up the challenge, and ask the bunnies to support the Keeling Curve.  Follow the link, then hit the small button at the bottom of the linked page and donate, a tax deduction, at least in the US.  Alternatively mash the large red GIVE button at the top of the blog and just below.   Let us get the ball rolling.



Eli would hope that other bloggers spread the word, not only the Friends of the Rabett, but maybe some of those who hold him not so dear.  This is an effort everyone should take part in.  Will this be necessary on an ongoing basis, it is difficult to say, but if bridge funding is not found quickly the measurements will not be continuous, and worse.

Fly Air Eli!

 Eli was on his way from his East Coast burrow to the AGU meeting in San Francisco, when winter weather wreaked ("wroke"?) havoc on air traffic. He had to make a unscheduled stop in Las Vegas.  He waved as he flew over my house. Fortunately, I had my camera ready. If you examine the photo very carefully, you can see Eli on board, and in First Class, too! Rumor has it that Eli is sitting in the same row as an Elvis Presley impersonator.
This raises important questions: Eli, is it true that in First Class you get unlimited carrots? Inquiring Minds want to know!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Whitehouse Monday on Tuesday

Thought that Eli forgot.  Nononono




Monday, December 09, 2013

The American Chemical Society on Climate Change

Nonono, not the policy statement, well there is that, but a bunch of resources that ACS has put out there a climate science tool kit for folks to learn from and use, put together by a top notch working group with support from ACS leadership.  As part of the effort ACS held a meeting to brief staff about how to approach climate communication

When a conversation turns to climate change, do you know the basic science to take part? Do you understand the far-reaching impacts of climate change and how it's affecting you today?  Learn the answers to these questions and more.

There are three professionally illustrated PowerPoint presentations which can be used in toto or from which slides can be select:  One for the public, one for educators and one for industry professionals (Powerpoint downloads).  And yes, a plug for Skeptical Science
This site is very helpful for a non-climate scientist who wants to stay current with the literature on global warming and climate change. As the description says, many of the posts take to task the published arguments of global warming skeptics and these rebuttals help to sharpen one’s climate science reasoning and logic. Sometimes the comments elicited by these posts also demonstrate the futility of getting into a “tis-taint” argument, if you are trying to engage someone or a group in a climate science conversation.
Eli would encourage everybunny to rummage about the site a bit, but to get started here is the part analogies for the greenhouse effect, which starts with the usual that the mechanism is not the same as a greenhouse.  Well, Eli has thought about this a bit, briefly put there are three methods of heat transfer, radiation, convection and conduction.  The atmosphere is a lousy conductor and so is glass, so that plays no role.  Greenhouses work by limiting convection, heat transfer by mass flow.  The greenhouse effect works by limiting radiation, heat transfer by photon flow, so there really is a way in which they are the same, the both limit the rate of heat transfer from a hotter to a colder place, but they just affect different mechanisms of heat transfer.  Be that as it may, it has become a bit of a distraction to make that analogy.
A different analogy is the atmosphere acting like a blanket. Think of yourself under a blanket in a cold room. You represent the Earth, a warm body giving off energy, what we usually call “heat”. The blanket represents the atmospheric layer of greenhouse gases. As the heat energy leaves your body it is absorbed by the innermost fibers of the blanket. As they give off some of that energy, they warm the next layer of fibers and so on and on until some energy leaves the outermost cold fiber layer and is lost to the room. Just as the sun continually warms the Earth, you continually produce energy through respiration. You will finally reach a balance where the energy leaving the blanket is equal to the energy you produce and your skin will remain at a constant temperature, just like the surface of the Earth.
Among the Earth’s blanket of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is the one you probably hear about most often, because it is increasing in the atmosphere as we burn a great deal of coal, oil, and gas for energy. Besides carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases include water vapor, methane (natural gas), nitrous oxide (from fertilizer use), and chlorine- and fluorine-containing gases used in air conditioning units and as solvents. Adding more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere increases the amount of absorption and release of heat energy required for the energy from the surface to reach the top of the atmosphere and go off into space.
In our blanket analogy, this is like putting on another blanket, so there are more layers of blanket fibers for the energy to pass through to reach the top. The old energy balance is upset and after a time a new one takes its place with you feeling warmer than before. This is what is occurring for the Earth as well. The increased amounts of greenhouse gases our activities are adding to the atmosphere have upset the balance that was in place since the end of the last ice age and the Earth is getting warmer than it was before we started burning large amounts of fossil fuels.
 Eli had that discussion a long time ago.  Atmoz is missed.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Lewandowsky helps Kahan look a little better

A newish Inquiring Minds podcast by Mooney and Viskontas features a good dialogue between Stephan Lewandowsky and Dan Kahan. Eli and yours truly haven't been all that persuaded with Kahan's interpretation of his own work, which is very critical of climate hawks and pretty silent about the denialists, but in Lewandowsky's presence he moderates it and comes off much more persuasively.


Kahan says he supports trying all approaches (not quite what he said earlier). He acknowledges communicating information can actually persuade people in the lab, which is good, but suggests it hasn't worked in the wild, somewhat contradicting his claimed preference for science over impression-based analysis

I think the framing analysis and group identitity analysis has a lot of value to it, and that's why communicating the 97% agreement among climatologists is so useful. The people who doubt climate science don't perceive themselves as 97% out of the mainstream (disregarding all the Galileos). When they understand where the consensus exists, that's their mental framework of where they belong and where the scientists who share their group identity also are found.

And that's ignoring the fence-sitters and those who are open to the science but don't know how strong it is, and by knowing that can give it a higher priority in their politics.

UPDATE:  thought I'd add that Kahan and later Viskontas assumed some unproven facts so I thought I'd do the same - if the climate hawks hadn't been out there all these years arguing the facts against the liars and misleaders, then we'd have an even worse public understanding than the present.

And just to be contrarian, I'll agree with Kahan on something and partially disagree with Lewandowsky. Kahan said we should watch for and attempt to prevent partisan group identity development where it has not yet occurred, like on GMOs and vaccinations. Sounds fine to me. Lewandowsky said politicians have not been pushing hard enough on climate - that sounds a bit like the bully pulpit argument that has not fared well among political scientists. I'm not sure the bully pulpit is so completely ineffective in the long term though, and Lewandowsky may have just been arguing that it's time to try out all their new techniques for science communication.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

My immature reaction to the allegedly-controversial use of the Hiroshima heat widget







Eli's post below refers.

I'll just add one response to this statement by Tom:  "if you consider yourself a skeptic of climate change science, think the risks have been overblown, and oppose intervention in the economy to mitigate climate change, you probably find the comparison outrageous, and maybe even offensive." My response is to ask Tom or anyone to point to a statement by denialists about the science that is both true and outrageous. If they can find something, then maybe they have a point. Otherwise, not so much.

The Pearl Clutchers Aghast

Eli brings you the Skeptical Science widget to calculate the number of Hiroshima bomb worth of heat that have accumulated in the atmosphere since 1970.  To Eli, the clever thing about the concept is that it is very hard for people to picture the size of a small effect spread over a large area or a long time.  This does it in a very forceful way.





But, of course, this has loosed the pearl clutchers upon the wailing wall known as Discover Magazine.  

In reply, a friend of the blog has observed that

 It's a frigging metaphor. Of course some scientists don't like it. That's why they're lousy communicators to those who aren't literal minded, which are 99% of the population.

The ankle-biters would've complained that there wasn't actually an Iron Curtain around the countries that the Soviet Union dominated,  or that there was no particular reason why a house divided against itself couldn't stand (it could've been a duplex townhouse for instance).
and somebunny else wondered what the equivalent would be terms of the energy content of Mars bars, but the bunnies get the point.

Monday, December 02, 2013

More Monday



Wither Academic Publishers

The American Chemical Society (ACS)  is defending its franchise against the challenge of Open Access in some creative ways.

Perhaps the most interesting idea is that ACS will provide the corresponding author of every article a credit of $1500 that can be used for any of their open access options.  Think of it as a frequent author program, but, alas, like frequent flyer points, the credit ages out after three years.  What is more the credits can be transferred.

What are the open access options? Well the immediate or 12 month embargoed options, but also a Creative Commons license so that authors can post the published article on their web site, or that of their institution, or in other open access repositories.  Costs are $4000/article for immediate open access and $2000/article for the 12 month version.  For members (a couple of hundred a year, but you gotta be a chemist), the costs are half that.  The Creative Commons licenses are $1000/$500 for non-members/members

If the university or laboratory subscribes to all the ACS journals, ACS will provide special pricing for open access publication.  That drops the immediate price down to $3000/article and the 12 month opening to $1500, with again 50% discounts for members..  ACS will also  manage the interface between funder, institution and governments to meet the requirements of the authors and their funders, institutions and guess what governments.


Details and more

For giggles Eli took a survey today about academic publishers in which he trashed Elsevier, and, glory be, it turned out to be sponsored by Elsevier.

As Elsevier says to the libraries:  Good Day! Are you prejudiced against former felons or would you rather subscribe to a magazine though me?

Whitehouse Monday - The Deniers Playbook


Monday, Monday, it just turns out that day

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Giving and maintaining emergency kits for the holiday gift season

My kind-of annual post below, with a few changes. I've found that emergency kits make highly-appreciated gifts for friends and relatives, one of those things that are on everyone's to-do list but often don't get done. If the entire kit's too expensive, you can just give a car kit, or get a part (I suggest water and water purification) and upgrade over time.

If people have had kits for a few years then it's also time to consider replacing out the food. If you or someone you know uses camping food, you might switch out the old with the new a year or two before expiration, so you can use the food before it expires.

Easy-but-not-cheap 72-hour emergency kits for home, with purchase links

There are nine members of my wife's family in the Bay Area, and when I found out no one had the 72-hour emergency kits we're supposed to have, I put them together as presents (in-laws loved the kits, too). My emphases were making them easy for me to put together, easy for people with no camping experience to use, and ones that would last as many years as possible without needing replacement or maintenance. In return I was willing to pay more, be more bulky than the minimum possible, and have limited control over food selection.

72-Hour Home kits:
The above is the absolute minimum. Meals can be eaten in their pouches, so no dishes are needed. Flameless heating kits eliminate the need for cooking stoves (water has to be purified, though). Emergency meals also can be eaten with cold (purified) water although they taste bad. The food and flameless kits should be good for at least 3 or 4 years, and probably more than twice that long.

In earthquake country, your kit should be stored outside your home in case you can't get inside. So in your yard, your car, or somewhere else. The only maintenance this requires is to simply look every six months to see if the water's leaked through the seams of the plastic jugs - it happens fairly often.

Additional useful items:
  • Cheap flashlight/headlamp
  • Spare batteries in clear plastic bag so you can see if they've become corroded over time
  • Plastic tarp and cord as a rain shelter
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Emergency shelter, 1 per adult
  • Cheap or expensive first aid kit (I went with cheap kits from the local drugstore)
  • Cheap rain gear, spare shoes and clothes
  • Hand-crank radio/flashlight combination
Don't let the extras delay you from putting together the minimum.

I also made better-than-nothing emergency kits for everyone's car, in case you're stuck on the road:

Car kits:
  • Liter water bottle per person (enough to keep you hydrated for a few hours until you can find a water source)
  • Water purification tablets (can disinfect murky water from ditches, and you might need to) 
  • Emergency shelter
  • Small amount of long-lasting food (I found tins of honey-roasted peanuts that were good for four years)
  • Cheap rain poncho
  • Emergency contact list
  • Shoes you can walk many miles in, if that's not what you normally wear
  • Cheap, tiny flashlight
  • wool blanket (additional warmth, or traction under a spinning wheel in the mud or snow)
You can do much better than this car kit, but it's something in case destroyed roads/bridges keep you from getting home for 12-24 hours.

Additional tricks for both kits: put the contact lists in their own ziplock plastic bags to reduce the chance that they'll mold/get wet over the years.

Hopefully this is all unnecessary.

Lots of great comments here, and a resource link at Making Light. UPDATE:  and see the comments below.