Sunday, July 15, 2018

On Records


A distinguishing mark of a new record in a time series is that it exceeds all previous values another is that the first value in a time series is always a record. 

Given a stationary situation with nothing except chance, aka natural variation, the number of new records should decline to zero, or pretty close, as the series extends in time.

If governed by natural variation the rate at which it declines should be a marker of the nature of the wings, e.g. the distribution characterizing the climate from which the weather is sampled.

It’s pretty hot out there, with all sorts of new record highs being recorded. They are not declining to zero. This is strong and convincing evidence of increasing global temperatures.




That, and it being pretty hot out everywhere

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Betts Test

Having engaged himself in a worthy round of hole digging while trying to explain why he never used what he himself acknowledged as the excellent Skeptical Science’s explanations about climate issues, Richard Betts fell back on defending Ethon’s favorite, Roger Pielke Jr., against the Skepticals listing said Roger as a climate misinformer.

This too did not go so well until Richard came up with the Betts test, that there were nowhere to be found on said list those who were really out of their mind worried about the dangers of climate change (the name of Peter Wadhams came up in this regard and indeed Dana Nucetelli has a few words on this)

However Eli finds the Betts test a good one and would point to an interesting example previously discussed here on Rabett Run, specifically Roger Jr.’s Convenient Truthiness. Now at the time, Roger’s Prometheus had not yet been pecked to death by Ethon, and Rabett Run was but a small vanity blog, but Eli had asked over there why Roger reserved all his fire for Mike Mann, Al Gore and the IPCC. The answer came

Question: Why don’t I write about glaciers, solar variability, Fred Singer, or Pat Michaels?  
Answer: I don’t know anything special about glaciers, solar variability, or the issues which are often discussed by Fred Singer or Pat Michaels. By contrast, I do know something about disasters and climate change. In fact, I know a lot, perhaps as much as only a few dozen people.
Eli was not particularly impressed
Other than the fact that the Google turns up a mess of Singer / Michaels pronuncimientos about climate change and disasters, we here at the Rabettorium were under the impression that the good Prof. Pielke runs a SCIENCE POLICY INSTITUTE and is always telling us that he loves science policy and we don't.

S. Fred and Pat have been playing in the science policy patch like forever, and maybe before. I am morally certain that RPJr has never, ever read a single word of that stuff. On the other hand, I am a bunny, and you know about the morals of hares. In the words of Dorothy Parker about a particularly childish children's book, Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.
UPDATE: Well, it looks like Roger knows S. Fred well enough to invite him to lecture his classes. FWIW, Trenberth, Sawitz et al also came. Roger also knows Pat Michaels work well enough to cite it in his publications on hurricane damage and elsewhere, as well as the fact that his father and Michaels are co-authors and long term collaborators. In short, the deniability here is not even plausible.
You want the links bunnies, well go to the original

Then, not a single comment from the audience now, well, ATTP has gathered a few but he always does a better job of that than Eli, but none at the time.

As to Roger, the Betts test is a wonderful razor to tear apart the envelop of his latest and Richard might consider taking a Betts test hisself.  Eli will be back with the results.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Hansen 1988 Retrouvé

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1988 publication of Global climate changes as forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies three-dimensional model Hansen, J., I. Fung, A. Lacis, D. Rind, S. Lebedeff, R. Ruedy, G. Russell, and P. Stone Eli along with others (like Gavin Schmidt, Nick Stokes and others) Eli went back and took a look at what had been discussed in these parts as well as those.  There are a lot of very good people who contributed to that paper, so it henceforth hereabouts shall be known as HFLRLRRS.

One of the most important things is that the current discussion focuses on the predictions of forcing as well as outcomes.  The first is more or less ecomonics, the second physics.

That being the case, HFLRLRRS were pretty good on both.  Back in 1988 Hansen described the choice of scenarios
For the future, it is difficult to predict reliably how trace gases will continue to change. In face, it would be useful to know the climatic consequences of althernative scenerios. So we have considered three scenarios for future trace gas growth, shown on the next viewgraph. 
Scenerio A assumes the CO2 emissions will grow 1.5 percent per year and that CFC emissions will grow 3 percent per year. Scenerio B assumes constant future emissions. If populations increase, Scenerio B requires emissions per capita to decrease. 
Scenerio C has drastic cuts in emissions by the year 2000, with CFC emissions eliminated entirely and other trace gas emissions reduced to a level where they just balance their sinks. 
These scenarios are designed specifically to cover a very broad range of cases. If I were forced to choose one of these as most plausible, I would say Scenario B. My guess is that the world is now probably following a course that will take it somewhere between A and B
In 2006, Eli pointed out that the CO2 prediction was eerily accurate


It shows that many details in emission scenarios are unimportant, or rather that false estimates in one direction are most likely going to be cancelled by false estimates in the other for a different forcing agent, and that on average the scenarios should be useful for larger periods.
Which is what happened using the illustration from Real Climate


A neat thing in HFLRLRRS which has not been commented on much were the color coded maps of temperature anomalies by decade in the future which can be compared to measurements. Eli finds this much more interesting and informative about the early GISS model than the time one dimensional variation of averate global temperature change.  Comparing the result for the 2010s with measurements between 2014-2016 show that HFLRLRRS captured the broad picture but was not perfect


Arctic amplification is clear in the model and 30 years later in the observation.  Otoh, the Antarctic in the model is clearly too warm as is the Arctic south of Greenland. The third pole (the Tibetan Highland is too warm also. It would probably be better to map out more of the current decade wrt the El Nino - Southern Oscillation, 2016 being a monster El Nino, but the period also includes about a year of La Nina.
Another, not remarked much upon thing is that  HFLRLRRS calculated the temperature change compared to the interannual variabilty of their 100 year control run.  The change is everywhere (with the exception of the Indian Ocean off Perth) positive compared to the null of the control.  What would be interesting (to Eli) to compute would be the model interannual variability for the 2010s compared to that of the control run.  Indeed were Eli in charge, CIMP runs would include such a metric.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Democratic National Committee "quietly" bans fossil fuel company contributions

Some good news for a change:

The Democratic National Committee voted over the weekend to ban donations from fossil fuel companies, HuffPost has learned.

The resolution....bars the organization from accepting contributions from corporate political action committees tied to the oil, gas and coal industries....

“We talk about how climate change is real and climate change is a planetary emergency, what we need to do is stop taking money from the institutions that have created this crisis,” said RL Miller, president of the super PAC Climate Hawks Vote Political Action and a co-author of the resolution.

The DNC may consider a second resolution at a full board meeting in Chicago in August to ban contributions over $200 from individuals who work for the fossil fuel industry. Miller said the proposal ― which has not yet been submitted to the DNC ― will hopefully lead candidates to adopt similar policies....

The energy and natural resource sectors, including fossil fuel producers and mining firms, gave $2.6 million to the DNC in 2016, according to data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a pittance compared to the $56.1 million that came from the finance and real estate sectors, the DNC’s largest corporate donors that year. This year, the energy and natural resource sectors’ donations totaled $186,100 by the middle of May....
The coal mining industry gave 97 percent of its donations to Republicans in 2016 ― a figure that has dipped to 95 percent this year. 

While it's not a huge change in how the money is currently distributed, it will have a cascading effect as Democratic politicians find it increasingly hard to accept fossil fuel contributions, and then be influenced by those donations. I think it will be even more important at the state and local level, where we'll be seeing most of the climate action for the time being.

And at some point the Ds will have the same control in Washington that they had for six months of Obama's first term, and this will give them more freedom to act.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Physics is the Simplest Science

Physics is the simplest science, a hard won truth that Eli has reached after many years in many fields. A bunny can do a lot of physics with pencil and paper, maybe even without those if enough homework has been passed in and marked.

This may seem, perhaps, a bit simplistic to some and mistaken to your average physicist, but consider, science is done through a mix of observation and computation. Physicists in the 17th century didn’t have to observe very much before they could start generating computational theories using pen and paper and testing them against observation. Physics is simple enough that one only need observe a few things before starting to build theories and compute results that could be compared to observations.

Other areas, not so simple. Lavoisier put it well, you cannot have a science without an agreed nomenclature because without you cannot talk about anything.

“The impossibility of separating the nomenclature of a science from the science itself, is owing to this, that every branch of physical science must consist of three things; the series of facts which are the objects of the science, the ideas which represent these facts, and the words by which these ideas are expressed. Like three impressions of the same seal, the word ought to produce the idea, and the idea to be a picture of the fact. And, as ideas are preserved and communicated by means of words, it necessarily follows that we cannot improve the language of any science without at the same time improving the science itself; neither can we, on the other hand, improve a science, without improving the language or nomenclature which belongs to it. However certain the facts of any science may be, and, however just the ideas we may have formed of these facts, we can only communicate false impressions to others, while we want words by which these may be properly expressed”
A useful working definition of science, a well liquored and tasty combination of observation, ideas and discussio.

Just to pick the next simplest science chemistry, the nomenclature is voluminous, systematic though it might be, to occupy a huge database and committees of learned souls called together by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry to deal with new discoveries. Biology is worse. A lagomorph might argue that biology began with Linnaeus’ nomenclature for living organisms and for quite some time stayed there. And then we have geology and the rest of the alphabet soup of the geosciences each with their own dictionary that has to be mastered.

Eli conceptualizes this as the cladistic dimension. The physics dictionary is pretty thin by comparison except where physics meets materials and the other sciences bring their descriptive overload in.

Computationally a lot of physics can indeed be done with pen(cil) or paper depending on how many mistakes are to be made. You can do damn near no chemistry with pencil and paper beyond simple physics applications such as thermo or stat mech.

When Eli moved over to chemistry in the 1970s, theory was an object of derision and, as general chemistry today, required a series of rules, sequentially setting forth any number of simple models for chemical bonding and reaction following the historical development of the science. As each model was stacked on the next to extend them and handle myriad exceptions to each, students struggle. Why each of these simplifications works and their limits of applicability was not obvious, or at least not so until reaching the quantum basis of atomic and molecular structure. At that point, perhaps, when it became obvious how each of the historical models is an expression of quantum mechanics everyone, hopefully nods their heads and says "Oh yeah".

By the 1970s computational chemistry was a hungry beast posed to devour computer cycles. The formalism was prepared and a few brave souls had seen the future, working out relatively simple cases on several reams of paper, or with mainframe heat pumps filled with vacuum tubes.

The driving force is interesting. About twenty years ago it became clear that observation could never be complete enough to describe all the chemistry that was wanted. One could never measure any chemical process for all of the conditions possible and even if one could and could do a statistical parameterization of the results it would be flying blind because there would be no understanding of the underlying chemistry. It would all be handwaving, perhaps statistically valid handwaving but handwaving none the less, and worse, it would not be clear under what conditions the handwaving would fail.

Computational chemistry, validated against observational chemistry is today’s gold standard.

Eli would posit that atmospheric science has passed through this same progression enabled by computational forcing, but more so. Not only can we not make all the observations that would be needed to fully describe the Earth’s atmosphere, but absent a time machine and a large ensemble of Earth, or at least Earth like planets, we could never do so.

Thus Earth System Models, if you like Global Climate Models grown up.

Part II will add a few dimensions to the Kuhn Cycle and Part III will use all of this to illuminate the crisis in fundamental physics

Friday, June 01, 2018

Tobis' Rule

MT has come up with an interesting observation, which Eli has dubbed Tobis' Rule

 If a large data set speaks convincingly against you find a smaller and noisier one that you can huffily cite.
There are any number of wonderful examples of Tobis' Rule.  All the bunnies have observed that the mean global sea level rise since 1880 has accelerated in the last twenty years.  The record is built on tide gauges and in recent decades on satellite observations.  Tamino has been all over this one time and again

So Eli asks, what is the smaller and noisier one that our friends at denial central point to?  Hold the Bunny's beer:

 carefully selected from the NOAA tides and currents data base.

Who amongst us Eli asks has not observed that the global temperature anomaly is rising

Well there are a lot of Okies out there


This being the Stanley Cup final weeks, the classic hockey stick based on a large number of proxys

Of course, there are a lot more where that came from


 and if you get a cast of a thousand or so paleoclimate people out pops Pages 2K but what does Eli see without end on blogs, twitter and so forth, why a sketch from HH Lamb that appeared in the first IPCC report based on the Central England Temperature series
A bunny could make a hobby out of tracing down all the "enhanced" variations of this sketch which had it's origin in the 1960s, but that, of course is another story

Humble readers, in Eli's humble opinion Tobis' Rule ranks right up there with the Gish Gallop.  Make it so.  Make it so

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Quoted without comment, from "The Fortunes of Africa"

Page 581:

With relentless propaganda, the Nationalists played on the electorate's racial anxieties at every opportunity. They paid particular attention to working-class Afrikaners facing competition from cheap black labour. By 1948 about half of the white Afrikaans-speaking population lived in urban areas. A large proportion were miners, railwaymen, transport, factory and steel workers for whom the Nationalist slogan of apartheid, promising protection of white jobs, had a potent appeal....

The National Party won the 1948 election by a narrow margin. In his victory speech, Malan declared: 'Today South Africa belongs to us once more. For the first time since Union, South Africa is ours, and may God grant that it will always remain our own.'

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Kicking the gas engine scooters while they're down



Interesting article on Electrek, with small gas-engine scooter sales in Europe plunging:

New figures report that sales of gas-powered scooters and motorcycles dropped by 6.1% in the first quarter of 2018, as compared to the same period in 2017. The largest decline in sales has been attributed to smaller scooters and mopeds below 50cc.

Sales of scooters and mopeds under 50cc have dropped by 40.2% over the same period. In France, which is the largest moped market in Europe, sales dropped even further by 41.5%.

Electric scooters and motorcycles sales are rising rapidly but only account for about a quarter of the equivalent gas engine sales, so they're only part of the picture. The rest of the picture:

Electric bikes aren't registered so they don't have the same level of recent data, but their range, speed, convenience, and cost are eating into the small scooter market. (Side note: I can speak to this personally, the Ford GoBike program I use now has electric bikes and they make my commute even easier.)

So good news if not exactly the biggest news in the world, but is there a policy implication? Yep - the market is proving that right now that there are great substitutes for small gas engine scooters, so ban the sales of new ones. If that's too dirigiste for some, then ban the gas engines that don't pay for an equivalent amount of lifetime operational carbon emissions, or just require a hefty fee of the ones that don't - it'll have the same effect.

One might argue the effect, regardless, is zero because the market is probably going to eliminate these scooters within several years. My response is that probably doesn't mean certainly, and cutting off a long tail of dwindling sales is a good thing. Even more important though is the cultural and political precedent showing that gas engine vehicles are on their way out, and we're going to give them an additional push in that direction.

While these things barely exist in the US, maybe the mostly-dreaming legislative bills here in California to eventually ban gas-engine cars could take a baby step for now by banning these scooters.