Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Man bites dog......

stories are beloved in the press. We also know that the denialists believe that CO2 is life. Well, in some cases life can bite....

Rising levels of carbon dioxide—a so-called greenhouse gas that traps heat within Earth's atmosphere—can fuel booming poison ivy growth, a new study reports.

Even worse, the rash-inducing vines may become more potent.
At ~600 ppm CO2 poison ivy growth is about 150% faster than in today's ambient atmosphere and the active compound undergoes a chemical transformation and becomes more potent.

Which leaves the question of how much worse the ivy itches today because of those global climate change denialists. (snark off)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Parsing greenhouse gas driven sea level rise.....

Is not trivial. We have seen the IPCC TAR predictions for sea level rise until 2100

where the dark band is the average of all of the GCM predictions over the 35 emission scenerios. This best estimate of 30 to 40 cm by 2100 is not very scary, although it is concerning. More concerning if you live in Florida than Colorado, but still it looks like it can be handled.

But wait, there is still more. If you look carefully (or read the text) you find that the rate of sea level rise increases in the second half of the 21st century by a factor of ~1.6 over that in the first. So, in the spirit of the second law of thermodynamics, it is going to get worse, before it gets better.

But there is STILL more, there is good evidence that there is a 50 - 100 year time lag for the global temperature due to the thermal inertia of the oceans, so, we are already committed to sea level rise, even if we stop emitting excess excess greenhouse gases today.

And since we are not going to stop emitting excess CO2 tomorrow, there is STILL MORE, if you look further out in time you get this prediction:

The top figure is the prediction for increasing CO2 by 1% a year for 70 years and then holding it constant, the bottom is for increasing CO2 by 1% a year for 140 years and then holding it constant. If the energy content of the atmosphere and ocean increases, it will take a long time to melt a lot of ice, and warm up the ocean, but melt and warm it will. That, is already a LOT of sea level rise. So it may not get better, but at least in a few hundred years it may not get worse.

BUT there MAY BE STILL MORE, we don't know a lot about the mechanics associated with ice sheets breaking apart. We assume that it will take millenia, but Hansen points out that it may only take centuries. That is a short enough time that if you hurry up and buy your Hummer now you may be able to screw your great grand kids. In Hansen's words:

A 20-meter sea level rise is not required to wreak havoc with civilization today. Three-quarters of a meter each from Greenland and Antarctica would do the job quite well.
Things may get a lot worse before they get better.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What the devil are they doing in the Virgin Islands....

Tim Lambert is discussing the question of how much CO2 Al Gore generates. Besides being an opportunity for bad jokes this cries out for a bit of data. Eli went to the United Nations Statistics Division for some comparative international values. You can look up how the average person in your particular flyspeck does, but here are some comparative values:

Country annual/capita per day per day

metric ton kg lbs
Australia 18.3 50.1 110.3
Brazil 1.8 4.9 10.8
China 2.7 7.4 16.3
France 6.2 17.0 37.4
Germany 9.8 26.8 59.1
India 1.2 3.3 7.2
UK 9.2 25.2 55.5
US 20.9 57.3 126.0
Virgin Isl. 91.9 251.8 553.9

Eli, pointed out to Ms. Eli that he only generates 60% of his weight in hot air. Ms. Rabett replied that he should do better in both regards. Be that as it may, the interesting point about these figures is the difference between the UK and Germany on one hand and France on the other. Nuclear electrical generation appears to reduce CO2 emissions/capita by about a third.

Achenbach does a Colbert on Bill Gray. . . . .

Dear readers, take yourself over to the Washington Post where Joel Achenbach does a demolition of Bill Gray and bystanders.

IT SHOULD BE GLORIOUS TO BE BILL GRAY, professor emeritus. He is often called the World's Most Famous Hurricane Expert. He's the guy who, every year, predicts the number of hurricanes that will form during the coming tropical storm season. He works on a country road leading into the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in the atmospheric science department of Colorado State University. He's mentored dozens of scientists. By rights, Bill Gray should be in deep clover, enjoying retirement, pausing only to collect the occasional lifetime achievement award......
He's loud. His laugh is gale force. His personality threatens to spill into the hallway and onto the chaparral. He can be very charming.
But he's also angry. He's outraged.
He recently had a public shouting match with one of his former students. It went on for 45 minutes.
He was supposed to debate another scientist at a weather conference, but the organizer found him to be too obstreperous, and disinvited him.
Much of his government funding has dried up. He has had to put his own money, more than $100,000, into keeping his research going. He feels intellectually abandoned. If none of his colleagues comes to his funeral, he says, that'll be evidence that he had the courage to say what they were afraid to admit.
Which is this: Global warming is a hoax.....
In just three, five, maybe eight years, he says, the world will begin to cool again.
We sit in his office for 2 1/2 hours, until the sun drops behind the mountains, and when we're done he offers to keep talking until midnight. He is almost desperate to be heard. His time is short. He is 76 years old. He is howling in a maelstrom.
and much more. Perhaps you need too much background to get it, but you can hear the teeth grinding over at CEI and out to Colorado.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Well a certain someone has threatened to cut Eli's ears off, and the NSA and all that is following everyone around, so, for the truly paranoid we recommend TOR an anonymouse net communication system from the Electronic Freedom Foundation. It does slow things up tho however some of the results are fun, for example, being rerouted to all the Googles in the world.

Did someone hear a seal bark?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Banned in Boulder....

UPDATE 1/2/2007: Sometimes circumstance is fell. It turns out that one of Roger Pielke's children has a similar name to the one I used in this post which is now replaced by XXXX. This explains his negative reaction. For that I sincerely apologize. There was no intent or knowledge on my part about the child's name - Eli Rabett
Something that Eli said has really bothered Roger P, so it was Banned in Boulder. Should anyone be interested it was a response to this trio of statements from Andrew Dressler

Let's go back to what I said: "I would argue that there is a strong consensus that most of the warming over the last 50 years is likely due to human activities."
At the stated level of precision/uncertainty, there is no argument that a strong scientific consensus supports this statement ... do you disagree with either the statement or that a consensus exists, Roger?
Jim Clarke

All studies that attempt to determine the percentage of the recent warming that is man-made, use GCMs to make that determination. There are a significant number of well-qualified scientists who dispute that the GCMs have any skill (whether you like it or not). Therefore, there is still a significant debate as to how much of the recent warming is man-made.

and Roger Pielke, Jr.

You write, "There is no reasonable definition of "significant" that would allow one to truthfully say that "significant debate" is occurring over this statement."
Well the IPCC is debating this statement right now and is changing key parts of it from "most" to "dominant" and "likely" to "very likely" --- all that seems pretty significant.
To which I replied that the discussion reminded me of an old story. Andrew and XXXX were walking along a park path. XXXX jumped with shock when she saw a woman lying motionless in a pool of blood. Andrew went over and felt for a pulse, finding none, he said: XXXX this woman is certainly dead.
In another version Jim and XXXX were walking along the same park path. XXXX jumped with shock when she saw a woman lying motionless in a pool of blood. Jim grabbed her elbow and said: That is red wine she spilled, obviously a drunk, sleeping it off, let's go.
Finally Roger and XXXX were walking along the same park path. XXXX jumped with shock when she saw a woman lying motionless in a pool of blood. Roger said, not very interesting, we all know she is dead, but the real question is whose policy is to blame. If you read my paper (link provided) you will learn that it is all the fault of the criminologists.

Solving the climate change and budget problem in one go....

The US has a large budget deficit and low auto mileage. There are two ways the later problem could be solved. The first would be to mandate fleet mileage limits, but as we have seen this is a game that the auto companies play, the second would be EU level taxes on gas. Since the latter are regressive that must be accompanied by equivalent cuts on payroll taxes which are regressive. The net effect would be neutral or slightly progressive. If accompanied by lifting of the maximum earnings on which Social Security taxes are levied the effect would be to make the total tax system much more progressive, increase revenues and solve the Social Security funding issue into the far future.

Prof. Rabett's handy dandy all purpose maxisolution.

An Inconvient Truth and the Conventional Wisdom

The most sensible comment I have seen on "An Inconvenient Truth"

Mr. Gore clearly intends the exercise as an unconventional way to set off a public-policy debate. In New York, he'll be participating in a kind of town-hall meeting on global warming that coincides with the film's opening there. After that, "he's going to be out speaking on this issue and continue communicating on this issue," says Michael Feldman, an aide and adviser to the former vice president. Many of the proceeds from the movie are going to a new organization fighting climate change.
from the Wall Street Journal, and the conventional wisdom from the same source
That inevitably will raise the question of whether Mr. Gore intends the exercise to revive his political career. When the movie was previewed at the National Geographic Society's headquarters in Washington, an official there noted that the widespread reaction among Geographic employees who had seen the film earlier was: "Do you think he'll run again for president?" Mr. Gore responded with a dismissive wave of his hand.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Quotes from Chairman Eli.....

I have a small suggestion for economists who want to see the effects of illegal immigration for themselves. Wherever you are find the local shape up, you know, the 7-11 where the landscaping and building contractors show up between 6 and 10 in the morning to pick up casual labor. Go down there and watch what happens. Then you can close your eyes and claim that these folks are not in your community, and yes, Virginia, they are depressing wages in that sector. Stick around and watch what the guys who don't get picked up do, it ain't pretty. The best way to handle the situation is to swallow deeply and set up a city/county run center with rules, but these are opposed by those who like having mown lawns and cheap kitchens. Like sausage, the populance has no stomach for seeing how it is made.

If you don't know where these places are in your city, then a) you have not been looking, b) just ask the guys who do your lawn or remodel your kitchen. If you can find a REAL old timer, ask him (and it will be a him in that case) how the ethnic identity of those doing casual labor has changed in the last 40-50 years.
Otherwise, don't bother talking to me about it. - Originally posted at Brad deLong's blog

And btw, if you are in a different country, the same rules apply.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sea-level Rise Central

James Titus was one of the first, if not the first to think about the implications of climate change for sea level rise and how to meet that challenge. His private web site is an extraordinary resource with links to many primary references on the subject and his expert evaluation of the work.

The most amusing is a recording of "When the North Pole Melts" from 1988, created at the Climate Institute's "Preparing for Climate Change" conference that Ian Castles quoted from in starting Rabett down this little hole. Eli is working through the references before posting again on that issue, however you can gain a good idea of the situation by starting at Titus' Captain Sea Level's Links reading his comments and going through the links. If you don't have much time start at what Titus calls the EPA's mea culpa for having over-estimated future sea level rise during the 1980s and go on to a recent talk by Jim Hansen (the parenthetical comments are priceless). Since the origin of the set-to was in Australia, it is worth quoting a stanza from "When the North Pole Melts"

The Australian Labor Party wants to see the economy grow;
So their platform says that we will tow Santa from the Equator to the South Pole.
If the Russians will get him through the Bering Strait,
The currents can do rest.
But the Conservatives would rather that we make him wait,
And put him to the market test.
But What Will Santa Do?


When the North Pole Starts to Melt?
What is gonna happen to his little elves?
Will they be too busy swimming to make the toys?
And what will Santa do?
If the North Pole melts too fast
Is this Christmas gonna be his last?
What will parents have to tell their girls and bays?
It sounds better than it reads. A classic in a capella science

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Always RTFR....

Always RTFR....

Ian Castles has responded.

You ask 'was the latter even printed?' Yes, the Director of the Office of Policy Analysis of the USEPA cited three multi-authored books that had appeared in 1983, 1985 and 1987. It is common for books to be printed.
The conference was sponsored by (among others) the Climate Institute, NOAA, the US Department of Energy, the US EPA, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the World Resources Institute and UNEP in cooperation with the Participating Agencies and Universities of the Canadian Climate Program. As might be expected, the Proceedings were printed.
In another presentation at the Conference, James Titus, Project Manager for Sea Level Rise at the EPA, presented a table showing that NASA's estimate of sea level rise was 70 cm by 2085 and that estimates by other authorieies of sea level rise to 2100 were: EPA, 56-345 cm; National Academy of Science, 50-200 cm.; and Hoffman et al, 57-368cm.
So the CONSENSUS view changed by a huge margin over a period of 13 years - it wasn't just one person's estimate
Eli's first thought was to point out that Castles was pointing to Morgenstern's impression of a consensus not a consensus. But then I remembered RTFR. Well, I don't have it, but I can probably get it tomorrow.

Still, Google is your friend, and you can find a lot of things if you know how to look. But before we do, let us remember that Castles claims the 1987 consensus (according to Morgenstern) was that by 2100 the global sea level will rise by 61-238 cm, while in 2000, the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) consensus rise was 9-88 cm.

And gee, guess what I found. From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 1990. Potential impacts of climate change. Report of Working Group 2, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 1-1 to 2. Geneva: World Meteorological Organization (WMO)/United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Global warming will cause a thermal expansion of the upper layers of the ocean and this expansion, together with the expected melting and movement into the ocean of some land-based glaciers, is expected to accelerate the current sea-level rise trend. A rise of 9-29 cm is expected over the next 40 years, or 28-98 cm by 2090 (Working Group I Report - Summary).
That's 1990 folks, from the First Assessment Report (FAR). Right in line with the "9-88" cm rise expected in the IPCC TAR ten years later and with the US National Academy report on Responding to Changes in Sea Level: Engineering Implications (1987) That's 1987 folks, the same time that Castles claims the consensus estimate is 61-238 cm. The second chapter of the report summarizes expert opinion on global temperature increases and the associated sea level rise. It concludes:
Apply these values to an estimated temperature change of 3.5 +/- 2 C due to a doubling of greenhouse gases over the next century, and the associate range in global mean sea level change is from 24 to 154 cm.
But there is more, let us go to the TAR, Figure 11.-2.

As the caption explains "The region in dark shading shows the range of the average of AOGCMs for all 35 SRES scenarios. The region in light shading shows the range of all AOGCMs for all 35 scenarios. The region delimited by the outermost lines shows the range of all AOGCMs and scenarios including uncertainty in land-ice changes, permafrost changes and sediment deposition" In other words, the dark shaded region (30-50 cm) is the most likely, the gray shaded region (20-70 cm) is somewhat least likely and the region between the two black lines (9-88 cm) encompasses the full range of possibilities. The core estimates are quite close to the FAR 28 - 98 cm. The high end estimate of 154 cm from the 1987 National Academy report has come down significantly, but then again the upper temperature limit from that report was 5.5 C as opposed to the 5.1 of the TAR.

You really do have to RTFR with these guys.

What should the IPCC do....

As many are aware, the US government has widely distributed the second order draft of the fourth IPCC climate change evaluation. This has opened the document up to sniping, both in an indirect (and CYA manner) and more directly (see the comment by Vincent Gray.

This raises the issue about what the IPCC should do.

The first is that the IPCC should refuse to respond to comments by anyone who has publicly broken their agreement to keep the draft confidential.

The second is that the IPCC should inform the US government that they have seriously damaged the process.

While it would be very difficult to implement, the IPCC should take over distribution of all future drafts in the US and not leave this to US government agencies.

RTFR (and the dictionary and the thesaurus, and don't forget Bartletts)

E has been out and a commenting in various places. Unfortunately he is not very impressed by the moral behavior of many posters. Being an old bunny, E is well aware that folk will utter absolute nonsense with perfectly straight faces, but he is shocked, I say shocked to have discovered that this behavior is common among the purveyors of Potemkin science (see the end of that post).

It is hard to know where to begin. Well we can start with two little libertarians at Deltoid. In defense of his pathological hatred of government Nanny Government Sucks used this quote:

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master" - George Washington
and if you google that little beauty you get about 46,000 hits, which shows that those of the libertarian persuasion at least know how to use the copy and paste function of their computers. One problem. No one can find the original source. George never said it

In the same thread, Jack Strocchi chimes in with another golden oldie
"Thomas "government is best which governs least" Jefferson
This one, it appears was originally adopted (there appears to be an earlier source) by Henry Thoreau who attributed it to Jefferson, but TJ never said or wrote it.

We now move on to E's favorite pinata, RPJr. himself. RPJr is a smart cookie. Although I would bet significant money that he has access to the second draft of the IPCC report on climate change (AR4), he knows that he cannot quote directly from it without exposing himself to significant censure. Therefore he used a quote from a Yahoo Asia report to launch the first of many attacks on the document. Roger has the Steve Colbert's to write:
A second key difference is the substitution of the phase "dominant cause" for the word "most." IPCC terms are not chosen arbitrarily and my reading of this is that as far as GHGs, it represents a step back from the statement in 2001. I equate "most" with a majority (>50%) and "dominant" with a plurality. I am sure commentators will have a field day with that. Were I a betting person I'd wager that "dominant" won't last until the end.
As Eli pointed out there is only one problem with this. The definition of dominant.

dom·i·nant http://www.m-w.com/
Function: adjective
1 : commanding, controlling, or prevailing over all others
2 : overlooking and commanding from a superior position
3 : of, relating to, or exerting ecological or genetic dominance
4 : being the one of a pair of bodily structures that is the more effective or predominant in action
synonyms DOMINANT, PREDOMINANT, PARAMOUNT, PREPONDERANT mean superior to all others in influence or importance. DOMINANT applies to something that is uppermost because ruling or controlling .

And, just for fun, how about most

1 : greatest in quantity, extent, or degree
2 : the majority of
Let us be plain, Roger sucked in some pretty sharp characters with his little newspeak dictionary work. Andrew Dressler wrote

As far as "dominant" goes, I agree that this is not clear. I hope that they substitute this with a more transparent word when the final version comes out.
And after it was pointed out that dominant was totally clear and transparent to anyone with a dictionary and without an agenda he was not able to accept the idea that his friend Roger purposely mislead him
I think that what the writers intended for "dominant" was the meaning of "vast majority". But I agree w/ Roger that "dominant" is a poor word.
Eli had to hammer the point home
Andrew, what problem do you have accepting that if someone says dominant with respect to the influence of greenhouse gases they mean a commanding and controlling forcing prevailing over all others? They certainly do NOT MEAN MOST.
Unfortunately this caused Andrew to say
I have the document and the quote above is correct. I do not have a problem with "dominant" if that's what they mean. My point was that since this is a draft, I wonder if they really mean that. We'll see when the final version comes out.
Which, at least technically is a violation of the conditions he accepted for viewing the AR4 draft and I am sorry that he felt compelled to do that. Roger, of course, having set the trap, did not step into it. You do have to pass the definitions part of the SAT to be a professor at Colorado?

And finally in the analogy section of the test we have Ian Castles, who used this beaut:

I've seen a lot of consensuses evaporate in my time, but let's take an example from climate change science. In October 1987, Richard Morgenstern of the US EPA spoke on 'Implications of climate change for environmental policy making' at the conference 'Preparing for Climate Change' which was sponsored by the World Resource Institute, UNEP, the US National Science Foundation and 12 other US-based organisations.
He said that there was 'an emerging concensus that the global warming could result in a rise in sea level on the order of two to seven feet by 2100', and cited multi-authored books that had appeared in 1983, 1985 and 1987.
The 'two to seven feet' translates into 61-213 cm. Thirteen years later the IPCC concensus for the sea level rise between 1990 and 2100 was 9-88 cm - a decrease of 85% at the top of the range and nearly 60% at the bottom. Doesn't this mean that Paltridge may have a point when he says that 'Consensus on its own is not the sort of thing on which sensible people put their money?
The only problem being that he is comparing a 20 year old conference report by one person, expressing his seat of the pants impression of emerging science, representing at most one agency and one government, to a published report resulting from a structured consultative process involving international panels of experts.

And you know, people fell right into the hole that Ian Castles dug for them.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The cost of astroturf.....

If you are the Alexis de Toqueville Institution, it's for sale at $20K a pop and they will throw in an new front organization for free....

February 29, 1994
To: William P. Orzechowski
Tobacco Institute
Re: ETS Study
From: Cesar V. Conda

Per your memo, what follows is a proposed action plan by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution on the ETS issue
ETS is environmental tobacco smoke aka second hand smoke
1. Produce a research paper to assess the research and scientific methods used in the original ETS studies -- and EPA's most recent cost-benefit "analysis" of the impact of ETS. Possible authors include - Fred Singer, Kent Jeffreys (formerly djrector of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Environmental Studies Program). or another reputable economist (perhaps Bob Tollison).

2. Assemble an advisory board of economists and scientists who could endorse the findings in the report (perhaps call it the Commission on Environmental Science -- we envision that this would be used as framework to examine a variety of environmental science questions -- from endangered species to pesticides reform).

3. AdTI would release and distribute the report to press outlets nationwide and circulate widely on Capitol Hill.

The timetable for producing such a report will depend on the level of research that you believe is necessary. A baekgrounder length report by policy analysts like a Kent Jeffreys or Fred Singer would probably take 2-3 weeks; an original research paper by an academician could take several months.

My sense is that we could produce an efffective backgrounder report which reviews all of the known facts about the science used in the ETS ease. Moreover, the Commission on Environmental Science -- or whatever we choose to call it -- would give the issue added attention and prominence.

The cost of this project would be $20,000 which includes all costs (contracting, distribution, staff time, etc.)

As you know, we can move on this very quickly.
One stop shopping.