Friday, August 31, 2012

Virtual Water

Export and import flows of water are inherent in the trade of food, since ag requires on average 85% of the freshwater supplies in a country.  An article by J. Carr, P. D'Odorico, F. Laio, L. Ridolfi, and D. Seekell in EOS has a stunning illustration of this

The green and yellow dots show the growth (green) and decrease (yellow) of exports/imports.  The analysis is more difficult because trade in food is itself ephemeral depending on local harvest conditions, which as Judy Dearest, would say, is naturally variable (except, of course when it is not).  Having said that some interesting points from the article are that only a few countries dominate the export market, The US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Australia, but the last has shown little change in the past twenty years.

Surprising to Eli was that the US exports virtual water (ie. food) to Mexico on net, and that the FSU is such a strong importer.  Less surprising is to see how China has become dependent on imports from Brazil, and not surprising at all is that money talks if you are going to need to import virtual water.

Why move icebergs around when you can transport ice cream?

Descent Into the Sambaworld

Many bunnies have Monday off

Raymond on Ryan and Romney

Raymond Pierrehumbert scores the top slot on Slate over Paul Ryan's climate denialism and general simplistic view on climate and the environment.  A great read in general but I'll focus on this:

One of the little fantasies that many of us progressives use to fend off the nightmare of a Romney win in November is the idea that he has flip-flopped so much on his way to a presidential candidacy that maybe once in office he'd flop back to the old Romney and give us a Nixon-in-China moment on climate change. There may have been fat chance of that, but with the choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate, even that illusory comfort is denied to us.
Yep.  I didn't really have that fantasy for a President Romney, but we have seen a small number of Republicans who started acknowledging climate reality once they're away from office.  A defeated candidate Romney, I thought, might make the switch.  I still wouldn't rule it out sometime for him, but it will take years.

The one I've wondered about is whether a President McCain would've done what candidate McCain promised.  While it wasn't as good as Obama's cap-and-trade, it would be better than what we've got.  OTOH we've already run a movie version of that with candidate Bush in 2000 promising to regulate CO2 as a pollutant if elected.

We'll never find out what McCain really would've done, but the contrast in this election could hardly be clearer.  One party has done something, if not enough, and the other is disastrous.

Still, we will have to have either a change to weaken the Senate filibuster, a climate disaster, or some sitting Republican senators willing to do the right thing before we can get a real national climate policy.  It won't be easy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monckton Will Help

Good while it lasts. Tip o the ears to the Rib Smoking Bunny

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Someone Noticed

Eli got this Email from Bill Foster, who is a former Democratic Representative from Illinois, running again and looking for support

One of the most difficult challenges for a scientist serving in the U.S. Congress is responding gracefully to the torrent of illogical and counterfactual arguments from the right wing message machine.

During my three years as a scientist in Congress, I had the pleasure of dealing with “Death Panel” attacks on health care reform, debates over the origin of herbicide-resistant weeds with Congressmen who did not accept evolution, and pronouncements by a right-wing colleague in Congress who believes the GPS system to be a shining example of the triumph of private enterprise.

Still, a new standard for ignorance seems to have been set by my former colleague Todd Akin, U.S. Representative from the Missouri 8th Congressional District and Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, when he said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

As a husband, a father, a scientist, an American and a human being, I was disturbed on many levels by Akin’s comments.  They are both offensive and factually wrong.  (How wrong? Estimates by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are that rape results in tens of thousands of pregnancies each year, even after many pregnancies are prevented by emergency contraception that Akin want to ban). It is discouraging to see how a person with those ideas could win elected office in our democracy, but it happens.

And then I remembered:  Todd Akin sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology
And bunnies thought the Arctic melt was scary?


The capchas are getting many bunnies cross and the others cross eyed.  RR gets some spam, but not much.  What say you to lifting the capchas for a while and seeing how it goes?  For everyone's amusement, a couple of the better spams Eli has gotten below

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anthony Watts Is Sad

Some, not Eli to be sure, have often suspected that without Papa Pielke to protect him, Tony Watts can dig some very deep holes for himself, and as one of the recent contretemps has shown, even Papa can fall into the bunny hole.   

Still, Tony (Eli can call you Tony. can't he Willard Anthony?), has outdone himself with his Antarctic Surface Station project.  This now features in the comments on Open Mind, but Big City Lib has a good precis.  Tony was trying to claim that weather stations in the Antarctic, and specifically on the Antarctic Peninsula which has had a huge amount of warming, were influenced by the presence conglomorations, even cities of people, and he posted the picture to the left.  In this case the crowing and attaboys of the usual suspects crowed, awakened the wrong beast, who wrote
August 26, 2012 at 2:49 am
I guess I owe the world a humble apology for personally contributing so much to the urban heat island in Antarctica, and hence to misinterpreted climate records.

The badly sited meteorological screen in your photo is at an Australian summer camp in the Northern Prince Charles Mountains, near Mt Jacklyn – in the background. Temperatures measured here were for local information of pilots and field parties only – it is useful to have an idea of how many layers of clothes to put on before exiting your Antarctic shelter. Temperatures here were only measured for less than 2 months over a couple of seasons and have NEVER been used for any climate record.

This photo was taken in the 1988/89 austral summer when I, and a colleague Andy, lived in the UNHEATED shelter nearest to the meteorological station. I didn’t realise that I was so hot that my body heat could influence temperatures measured on the Antarctic Peninsula, thousands of kilometres away. It must have been Andy!!!

The first rule of successful blogging is to know when to hold em and when to fold em, but you can always double down, and thus the bunnies have observed an new world record in the Gish Gallop.  As this faux pas was pointed to by several, Tony began to unravel
REPLY: It illustrates that weather stations in Antarctica and heat generating/using humanity are in proximity, the same thing happens in the Arctic, such as at the DEW line stations, where they’d “make up temperatures” rather than brave going outside at times.
Not hard to understand really, people don’t place the weather stations so far away from the huts that they have to risk death to get a reading in subzero temperatures and white out blizzards. – Anthony
REPLY: First you have to prove that temperature rise measured inland at the Peninsula is manifested in the sea water temperature or above the ice, and show that it in fact made them collapse. Air temperature > water temperature isn’t a strong transfer – Anthony
REPLY: No dumkopf, there is no UHI since there’s no “urban” in Antarctica. That’s your made up farce. I’m saying that weather stations, like the one shown, are almost always next to human habitation where it is warmer. Really how hard can it be to understand this, especially with a photo?- Anthony
at which point Nick Kermode appeared
Anthony says:
“How hard can it be to understand this, especially with a photo?”
That photo has been well and truly been proven inadmissible. Can you admit your mistake then provide us some information that proves your point? Cheers
REPLY: It illustrates that weather stations in Antarctica and heat generating/using humanity are in proximity, the same thing happens in the Arctic, such as at the DEW line stations, where they’d “make up temperatures” rather than brave going outside at times.
Not hard to understand really, people don’t place the weather stations so far away from the huts that they have to risk death to get a reading in subzero temperatures and white out blizzards. – Anthony
Eli knows you bunnies could go over there and read the stuff, but this is too good to leave to the Watts Up and it continued to death spiral
Nick Kermode says: August 27, 2012 at 10:41 pm
Anthony, Ian reported earlier in the thread that the thermometers housed near camps were used for local weather only, as information for pilots and how many layers of thermal underwear to don. The temperatures measurements used for climate information are automated and “use the ARGOS data relay system, carried by the NOAA series of near-polar orbiting satellites.” negating the need for what you suggest. Im sure Ian from above would have some excellent info for you given his position within the Australian Antarctic Division. Your photo does not support in any way what you are suggesting. Have attached a link to a good site that includes a link to a page that discusses the known possible problems with the types of thermometers and sensors used in Antactica. It hasn’t been updated for some time so you may have something to contribute/ some issues may have been resolved in further study. In any case creating a dialogue with Ian may be helpful as I don’t understand why you keep referencing that photo and hypothesising about poorly sited stations when an on the ground first hand scientist tells us that they are not even used for climate related data.
REPLY: “The temperatures measurements used for climate information are automated and “use the ARGOS data relay system, carried by the NOAA series of near-polar orbiting satellites.” negating the need for what you suggest. ”
Ummm, no. Argos didn’t come into being till the mid 2000′s, and nearly all climate data before that back to the first camps in Antarctica came from Stevenson Screen type stations. While there may have been some near term improvements the fact the the stations for decades prior were near human habitation because they were required to be manually read. For example:
And one of the oldest ones:
Meteorological screen used by Captain Scott’s expedition nearly a century ago – it stands about 65m behind the expedition base at Cape Evans and would have been used to capture some of the earliest information on weather on the continent.
And here’s a stamp showing a Stevenson Screen station in Antarctica:
Here’s one from 1935:
Here’s the longest record in Antarctica, at Mawson:
Still a screen there. Still inside the camp.
Many of the newer automated stations have their own problems, such as getting buried by snow, which makes them report warmer temperatures. Sorry, you kids just don’t know what you are talking about. – Anthony
Well, like Nick said, Ian was lurking
Ian says:
Anthony – I think you are confusing ARGO (robotic ocean buoys that measure temperature and salinity at depth) with ARGOS (satellite based data relay system). ARGOS has been around since at least the early 1980s: large scale ARGO deployments only really started in the early 2000s.
Most Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) in Antarctica use the ARGOS data relay system – since the satellites are near-polar orbiters, you gets lots of passes at high latitude and almost hourly measurements. Yes – snow accumulation does alter the height of the AWS surface above the surface if the stations are not maintained. But because of the persistent and strong surface temperature inversion over the ice sheet, this means that the measured temperatures get COLDER (not warner) as they get closer to the surface. (I question who does and who does not know what they are talking about).
The AWS are almost all in very remote sites (hundreds of kilometres from heated buildings). The record from AWS does only extend back about 30 years, and manned stations or proxies (ice cores, etc) are needed for longer records. But over the last 30 years or so, the trends from the AWS and the manned stations are consistent.
and after Nick twisted the knife, Tony galloped
Nick Kermode says: August 28, 2012 at 5:49 am
Ian is correct Anthony. ARGOS has been used in Antarctica since 1984. Your assertion that any measurements before 2000 were taken using Stevenson Screens is incorrect. A very quick google will tell you that.

Then show it. Don’t make me do your work for you. – Anthony
and Nick obliged only to get more chaff
Nick Kermode says: August 28, 2012 at 5:58 am …… add to above
REPLY: So? It doesn’t prove your point. See below. – Anthony
Eli will omit the rather long reply, only to provide the denoumont
Nick Kermode says August 28, 2012 at 2:29 pm
“Most Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) in Antarctica use the ARGOS data relay system”
I said “are automated and use the ARGOS data relay system.
Ians comment mentions AWS and both are very specific that it is the data relay system not a plural of the ARGO system. Please read things more carefully to avoid confusion.
Wait for it





Anthony Watts says: August 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm I don’t see every comment that gets posted on this blog we have a team of moderators so I never saw the original I only saw yours

The Arctic Ice Pack Gives Marc Morano the Finger

Eli has always been partial to the Uni Bremen sea ice maps, but in the last few days something truly scary has appeared.

Now Eli is not your average Neven, or sea ice expert, but that  thing in the circle looks a lot like a huge chunk ready to float away, break up and melt, which after the compaction of this month's cyclone is a huge change and not in a good direction.  BTW, it also looks as if the main channel in the Northwest Passage is finally opening.

It's going to be an interesting fall with all that ice gone it may take longer to refreeze the Arctic basin, leaving even thinner ice for next year's warm spell, which is what happened in 2011 and to a stronger extent in 2007. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

I'd seriously like to make a Wall Street Journal Daily LaughAlong App

This information on environmental stupidity in the Wall Street Journal editorial pages since 1976 should be expanded into a smartphone app.  Each day you could find out what obvious reality was denied on that day of the month in the WSJ in the past, as a balance to whatever new nonsense will be showing up.

LaughAlong at the Journal, though, not with the Journal.  Beats crying, anyway.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Non-climate related open thread

Open thread for anything not related to climate change.  An adjacent post is an open thread for anything about climate.

Climate change open thread

Open thread for anything climate-related.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rommin Rommin Rommin

Three things I learned listening to Chris Mooney's interview of Joe Romm about rhetoric:

1.  It's pronounced "Rome" and not the way I've been mentally pronouncing it for years.

2.  Are you a scientist or (in my case) a pseudo-wannabee who tries to think like one?  Joe's not writing for you.

3.  Bloggers should spend as much time formulating blog titles as they do on anything else the post (the one I did here took hours to craft).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm a carbon neutral delayist - until 2020

At Monday's Water District meeting, we revised our greenhouse gas/climate change policies.  The prior policy was to reduce emissions "when feasible".  Staff's new proposal was to "strive for carbon neutrality".  The Board Chair (and the other enviro on our board) wanted more.  She said she wanted to achieve carbon neutrality and to give a date, even though it was one she didn't expect to meet.  The date she gave was 2015.

I didn't know she was going to do any of that, so it was a pleasant surprise.  I thought having a date, or figuring out a date soon, was good but we need it to be defensible.  We're already pretty good on emissions, getting most of our power from carbon neutral hydro, but we still use a lot of other power, have a lot of vehicles, and a lot of construction.  I argued for either 2020 or for setting up the process now for establishing a date.  By 2020 I said we should be well along in San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration, which should absorb a huge amount of carbon emissions and make carbon neutrality possible.  The Board settled on that date.

Video below, or go here, click on August 20, and start watching at about 3 hours in.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

The reference to "purpa" is actually the Power and Water Resources Pooling Authority, a joint government agency that buys power directly from providers instead of going through utility companies, giving us a lot more control over our carbon emissions.  This is why we have a chance of achieving neutrality.

The truth is I'd be thrilled if we achieved carbon neutrality by 2020, but let's see how close we can get.  I need to start working on the planning for it.

Eli's Three Laws or Hansen Simply Explained

There is an interesting to and fro over at Real Climate about the recent Hansen, Ruedy and Sato paper on an increase in climate extremes.  Eli had a go at the preprint.  Tamino has entered a demurral, which Eli suspects has an answer in what is below.  Now some, not Eli to be sure, think the Rabett is on occasion cryptic.  So be it, but in this case he has not quite worked through all the implications and it is better to be thought mysterious than foolish.  Still the Bunny is somewhat skilled in boiling things down, and at RC pointed out that there are three simple points in the Hansen paper

First if there is an increasing/decreasing linear trend on a noisy series, the probability of reaching new maxima or minima increases with time

Second, if you put more energy into a system variability increases.

Third, if you put more energy into a system variability increases asymmetrically towards the direction favored by higher energy
 Hank added a codicil
Fourth, if you keep going in the direction you’re headed, you’ll get there.
 The first point has been a standard here at RR and also in various comments about the web in the recent discussions about why there are more temperature maxima than minima.  The second is related to the idea that if the parametric landscape affecting anything is not smooth, excursions from a stable state require additional energy to overcome "attractions".

For example, if you are in a low energy valley, as you add energy, the system moves higher up the sides and the range of motion becomes larger.  As examples consider potential energy surfaces for any process such as chemical reactions, protein unfolding, etc.  The third comes from the same general area, that if there are barriers to some excursions, you enhance the probability of exceeding them only with additional energy, e.g. you have to climb the mountain to get to the next valley, Hank's Law.

UPDATE:  Perhaps a hint of where the second and third law come from in answer to some questions

taken from protein folding paper.  The same arguments cover many situations including climate.  If we start at the bottom of the U(nfolded) well with only a small amount of energy available, the motion is roughly harmonic.  This is a logical consequence of the stability, because the point at the bottom of the well is where the system would come to rest if energy were zero and the first term in the Taylor series expansion of the potential would be quadratic  Small additional amounts of energy result in harmonic (symmetric) motion in first approximation (brown and red  line. 

As more energy is added you get pushed to the level of the green line, where there is more variation in the reaction coordinate as in the second law.  Finally if you reach the level of the red line, further areas of the parameter space become available and you can access the folded form.  The ability to access new  areas of the potential is what drives the asymmetry.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Catbird Seats

Cats as hunters  have raised considerable interest about breeding hunting out of house tabbies at Rabett Run, but the real problems are feral cats, and the real serious problem is feral cats on remote islands.  Birds, of course can fly, often considerable distances and over the eons have populated remote islands which mammals can't swim to.  OTOH, they can hitch rides with people in boats and they have done so with a vengeance, none more successfully than Brother Rat and Sister Cat, and to an extent Cousin Rabett. 

Birds on these islands have, again over the eons, have lost their native caution of hunting animals and protecting their nests and eggs from other beasts.  It is only relatively recently that eradication programs have started to rid some of these islands of the feline predators, but it is not a trivial thing.  Kill the cats, and you have the rats which are harder to get rid of and breed like crazy.  This is, also true of rabbits who leave the birds alone but eat the leaves down to the soil.

Feral cats do not seem to become well established in areas with “mesopredators” which
either compete with or prey upon cats. In New Zealand, Taylor (1984) suggests that stoats (Mustela erminea) outcompete feral cats, restricting their presence to larger islands and to areas either with rabbits or close to human habitation. Coyotes (Canis latrans) control cats in coastal southern California (Crooks and Soule 1999).
Coyotes, as Kevin Drum discovered to his dismay, like cat treats.  Since humans bond with cats this is often hard on the humans, but when too many cats disappear it does not go well for the coyotes.  There is a considerable literature on all this.

Cognitive Dissonance and Good Advice

Well the folks from west uberstanistan are attacking a bunch of blogs.  Planet 3.0 is being greeted, and Jo Nova and Benny's bunch got taken down, so Tony Watts

(Eli can call you Tony, can't he Tony, well at least on Rabett Run.  OTOH, were Eli so minded, he could call you Willard, Willard Tony being your full moniker, but Willard is already taken so Eli will call you Tony, or perhaps he should use Willard Tony, to distinguish Willard from Tony.  Where is Willard when the bunny needs him?)

has put up some reasonable advice for blogs who blog, the first, and most important being let someone else do the heavy lifting, e.g. wordpress or blogger.  Anyhow, it is probably the best post ever on Tony's blog, with some actually useful comments, but as usual, cognitive dissonance appears. 

Yep, people who hack right wing blogs are scum,

striptubes says:
The attacks on right-wing political sites and blogs in the US has also been trending substantially up lately. It’s a disturbing trend, to say the least.
pat says:
Liberals are the same everywhere,every occupation. Angry children.

but those folks who hacked the UEA server are employees if not heros, and, of course, Planet 3.0 thoroughly deserves what it gets
RC says:
” … Planet3.0 has had repeated hack attempts this week … ”
Your pal Frank Swifthack is vacationing in Drogobych and ran out of things to do?
and, of course, the usual claims of victory in several places quoting Ghandi, who has ascended, Eli imagines from left wing socialist to champion of outsourcing, bunnies know the line, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. 

Eli guesses that Rabett Run has ascended to stage two, with Tony suggesting use of a strong password such as Evil$narkBunny111709!  however, allow a correction from Eli, as in the image above, a better one would refer to Eli's evil cousin Happy$narkBunny 111708.  Now some, not Eli, to be sure, might wonder why Willard Tony has it in for Eli.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Girl from Nanaimo

The Girl from Rio

That cat won't hunt, hopefully

A short non-climate post here.  I've followed the outdoor-cats-are-killers issue for some years now, and as a local conservationist I've seen places where people are supporting large populations of feral cats by feeding them, usually places with lots of vulnerable wildlife nearby.  The capture-spay-and-return argument fails to realize that the non-spayed population will quickly increase to reach the area's carrying capacity.

More recently a non-peer reviewed study (what have you wrought, Muller and Watts?) put video cameras on 60 cats for a week and found nearly 30% hunted successfully in that week, killing 2 animals each.  If those numbers hold up, the figure translates into billions of animals killed by cats annually in the US.  This suggests that owned cats are significant problem as well as feral cats, and that well-fed feral cats will still hunt.

One obvious solution is to stop feeding feral cats and ultimately to ticket people who won't stop.  Another is to stop letting cats outdoors, although that encounters somewhat more reasonable resistance. A third solution I hadn't heard of before today is cat bibs that impede their pouncing. Might be a good thing to use on feral cats too, and a lot cheaper than neutering them.

Then there's my idea - if a majority of pet cats don't hunt for a week, a significant percent probably don't hunt at all, or hunt very little.  It should be possible to create a breed of cats with this temperament a fixed aspect of their personality.  While I'd normally encourage people to get pets from a shelter instead of a shop, if the intent is to have an outdoor cat then maybe a breed that's known not to hunt is a good idea.  And then give it a bib.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Arrhenius Dilemma - Better Models, the Same Predictions

The Weasel on occasion makes posts out of his comments, and who is Eli but not to follow the lead of the local meat eater.

Over at Judy's confusatorium the denizens were complaining about how bad climate models are, Adam, the mathematician put on the harumphing regalia

Judith, this thread seems weird to me.

I am a mathematician. Statistics and probability as I know it is derived from basic principles, as all math is.

Only from deriving it from basic principles can we know that it works and is true.

I don’t see how we can have a discussion on model projections without it being mostly math. It seems to me that anything else is mostly heuristic (at best).

Am I wrong? And if so, can someone please educate me as to why I am wrong?
 Per chance wandering by it fell to Eli to point out why Adam was wrong.
Mostly because you have to estimate the forcing scenarios and those have physical, biological, economic and political drivers. Even if you had a perfect global model, you would have a wide range of possible outcomes, and some of those drivers are not controllable.
Of course the wise assed answer is that mathematics and statistics are derived from sets of half assed assumptions, but to be a bit more serious while you might learn more about how the Earth system works from better models, for the purposes of prediction, you wouldn't learn much. Thus the Arrhenius Dilemma

CBS This Morning: Good Story, Muffled Conclusion

CBS This Morning (Friday Aug. 17) covered the melting glaciers in Glacier National Park.

Many decades ago, there were 150 glaciers. Now only 29 survive. Within 10-20 years all the glaciers will be gone. CBS painted a frightening story, complete with interviews with scientists and contrasting old and modern photographs of the disappearing glaciers.

It's a dramatic example of climate change, impossible for the deniers to explain. (CBS didn't say that. I said that.)

At the end of the piece, James Brown asked the important question: is there anything that can stop or slow down this process? At that point CBS muffled their conclusions, saying well, that's what they're looking into.

So I wrote a note to CBS, saying that James Brown asked a good question. The answer is that society has to convert to non-carbon sources of energy (solar, wind, and nuclear) while greatly improving energy efficiency.

CBS know that, of course. But they also know that they'll get complaints from the deniers if they say so.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hi Mom

Hi Mom (and thanks for letting me post this reply),

Yes, I am familiar with the term "watermelon" as applied to environmentalists (green on the outside, red communist on the inside), and have even used it myself.  Sarcastically.  I'm also familiar with James Delingpole, conservative blogger at the Telegraph.  I'm not directly familiar with Delingpole's book, "Watermelons:  the Green Movement's True Colors",* but I think I know what I need to know at this point.

Their watermelon "analysis" just proves the intellectual bankruptcy on the anti-environment right.  They can't think of anything relevant to say, so they fight dead battles of the past.  Communism, really?  And in the Western world?  If the right hasn't realized as the rest of the political spectrum has that the foreseeable future is a market economy with varying levels of government intervention,  then they're showing they haven't had an original thought since the 1980s.  No wonder they haven't liked a Republican president in a quarter-century.

As for Delingpole himself, I thought I'd written about him but can only find a comment I wrote about his self-introduction on his blog, "James Delingpole is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything."  It reminded me of something:

Al Franken coined the term “kidding on the square” for statements that a speaker knows he actually believes more than is publicly acceptable, so the speaker makes the statement in a jocular fashion.

I’ve never been able to read Dellingpole’s blog because I can’t get past the introductory statement that he’s “right about everything.” Just by reflex, my fingers hit the browser’s back button. 
That statement and other stuff by Dellingpole I’ve seen quoted are classic kidding on the square, and give a good idea of the uselessness of the writer.
My coblogger Eli has been able to push his way through Delingpole's work, though, and has a few thoughts about this video:

Eli also provides links to other analyses of Mr. Right About Everything.

I wish I could point you to a honest and scientific conservative who disagrees with action on climate change, but they're thin on the ground.  Even my betting opponent thinks we should take reasonable actions to reduce CO2 emissions.

The best I can do is this Point of Inquiry podcast by science writer Chris Mooney with the politically conservative climatologist Kerry Emanuel.  He doesn't deny the need for action, but just disagrees on the best form of action.  Unfortunately, the conservatives who understand climate seem to be active scientifically but not so much politically.  The famous climatologist Jim Hansen is supposed to be a Republican, maybe that explains his preference for a revenue-neutral carbon tax over more complicated solutions that may have (or at least, used to have) better political prospects.

One last thought - the "watermelon" insult is vacuous and wrong, but it's only 99% wrong.  People will fit potential solutions into their own political framework.  I think some on the left may resist carbon sequestration, large scale solar power plants, and even last-ditch ocean iron fertilization, not only because of the not-unreasonable arguments against those solutions but also because they do not help the left's political "side".  I just wouldn't forget the converse is equally true about the corporate right, and I think that side has a heck of a lot more power.

*Interesting that a Brit would spell "colors" that way.  I guess he knows which country he's targeting.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Guillotine Drops

A few weeks ago, before Joe Paterno's statue was removed, Eli wrote in a post entitled Death Penalty

Eli, as some have noted, is an ancient professor, an academic if you will.  He has followed the collapse of governance at Penn State with the interest of a bunny watching a disaster unveiled, and recently saw much back and forth about the NCAA (the folks who profit from and do the pompous on intercollegiate athletics in the US) imposing the death penalty on football at PSU.

Folks, that ain't the death penalty Penn State has to worry about.  Accreditation at US institutions of higher learning runs through cooperative associations of colleges and universities, who certify to the US Department of Education.  That ain't whiffle ball because all federal funding, student loans, research grants and more depend on that certification.
Today Middle States, Penn State's accrediting agency, started the guillotine moving. They notified Rodney Erikson, the President of Penn State, that
. . . . its accreditation is in jeopardy based on information contained in the institutionally commissioned Report of the Special Investigative Counsel (Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP, July 12, 2012) and the Binding Consent Decree Imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Accepted by the Pennsylvania State University (July 23, 2013) and insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with the Requirements of Affiliation 5 (compliance with all applicable government policies, regulations, and requirements) and 9 (institution's governing body responsibility for the quality and integrity of the institution, for ensuring that the institution's mission is being carried out, and for making freely available to the Commission accurate, fair, and complete information on all aspects of the institution and its operations) and with Standard 4 (Leadership and Governance) and Standard 6 (Integrity). To note that the institution remains accredited while on warning. To request a monitoring report due by September 30, 2012 documenting steps that have been taken and are planned to ensure the institution's full compliance with Requirements of Affiliation 5 and 9 as well as Accreditation Standards 4 and 6. In addition, to request that the monitoring report also address Accreditation Standard 3 (Institutional Resources) with regard to the institution's capacity and plans for addressing financial obligations that will or may result from the investigation and related settlements, etc.
Details of the action and its meaning can be found at the Middle States website as well as links describing the process and the range of actions and penalties.

Eli wrote earlier this offers the accrediting agencies the opportunity to get control of athletics if they dare.  The implications of this matter extend well beyond Penn State. 

As a codicil allow Eli to say that he knows well many faculty members at Penn State and men and women, they are all excellent scientists.  As for Integrity, he would park his last carrot with them.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Polar Bear Follies Act XXIV

PEER reports that a final report from the Interior IG (Inspectors Clouseau, Eric May and Richard Larrabee) is now circulating within the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management under double hush secret rules which means that neither Charles Monnett and Jeffrey Gleason has seen it.  The report is known to contain recommendations for administrative actions, but what those recommended actions are is unclear.  Supposedly a decision will be reached by December 4, but "extensions" are possible.  Eli and Rabett Run have been popcorning the farce for a while, and it looks like this will last at least until Christmas.

Important UPDATES at the end

NATURE has a follow up which reports that the IG has moved the cheese again
Documents obtained by Nature through the Freedom of Information Act do not reveal the investigators' conclusions but they suggest a more specific context for Monnett’s troubles: he assisted in the writing of a proposal from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that he was also responsible for reviewing for the BOEM. He also resisted a separate initiative by oil companies.

Over five years, the NOAA study would synthesize knowledge of different elements of the Arctic environment — from marine mammals to fish to zooplankton — and offer conclusions about the overall impact of oil-and-gas exploration there.  The NOAA team was awarded the contract last year.

Monnett exchanged e-mails with the NOAA researchers between February and May 2011, made edits to their draft proposal and talked on the phone with them about how to strengthen it. Nature has seen emails from within the BOEM showing that the reason for his suspension in 2011 was management concern about similar assistance being provided to a grant applicant on another contract, which Monnett was also responsible for reviewing.
PEER points out that cooperation among government agencies is not a crime.  Eli points out that it is often rare, and some bosses think this a firing offense

UPDATE:  Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think that bunnies read the comments, but then again there are often things in comments that are more important than the posts with higher added value.  Rabett Run has high class comments from knowledgeable hares and it is a smart bunny who steps out of the way and gives those with a clue their say.  There are at least a few such comments today, which the Rabett has added below.  First, from an anonobunny
The authority used for interagency agreements between BOEM and NOAA is the Fish and Wildlife Recovery Act which specifically encourages cooperative studies such as the synthesis in question. A negotiated agreement is drafted jointly and both agencies share costs and benefits of the work. It is not competitive but the study concept is reviewed by both NOAA scientists and the BOEM Committee of Scientific Advisors.

The synthesis (SOAR - see website) was specifically created to support an interdisciplinary scientific analysis of $50M BOEM research plus considerable other effort by other funders. The goal was for the study to be science based and somewhat immune from pressure from managers or industry to produce specific findings or exclude others. Industry was not excluded from participating - just required to openly share data and not block release of products. Monnett objected to the proposed study by industry because the SOAR study was ready to be awarded after 3 years of development when along came Shell and Connoco who independently tried to create an MOU with NOAA unbeknownst to the NOAA PI of SOAR. Folks involved in SOAR were concerned that the industry effort was on a faster track and would compete for researchers' time (and potentially data). When NOAA leadership realized they already had a synthesis in the bag they withdrew from the Shell MOU.

Shell then approached the North Slope Research Board with a bag of money and convinced them to sponsor the synthesis. The two efforts are very different. Industry wants what is essentially a literature review. The BOEM NOAA SOAR is an iterative process that is completely managed by scientists in which topics for cross disciplinary publications are identified and funds are provided for those researchers to come together and produce actual peer-review documents. 
 and Deech has some pointers about the process links here and here and here and others comments on this post
For grant applications, the interactions you write about are common and are encouraged (although conversations are more about generalities rather than application pre-review). (Speaking as a COR) contracts are a different ball game, however. I wrote a bunch of stuff when this first came up and I would have to read the Nature piece and go back to the earlier posts to see where this all fits in from a FAR perspective.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cold fusion and climate change

The obituary in the Los Angeles Times reads
Martin Fleischmann dies at 85; claimed cold-fusion success.

I can recall those exciting days back in 1989. Instead of the usual procedure for announcing a discovery - manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal with a press release - university research teams held press conferences to announce their findings.
On at least one occasion, a press conference was held to withdraw a claim that had been advanced at a previous press conference. Oh, yes, there were some red faces.
Bob Park of the American Physical Society scoffed at "sightings" of cold fusion, noting that they have "generated more confusion than cold fusion."

The local media called up my physics department, and got through to me. Was I willing to speak on camera? Yes. So they sent a camera crew to interview me. While they were on their way, I scratched my head to figure out what to say. I was skeptical because electrochemistry operates at a scale of electron volts, while nuclear reactions require millions of electron volts. In a recent phone conversation, a friend (and chemistry professor) made a helpful suggestion: "one possibility is that they (Pons and Fleischmann) are crazy".

I decided to formulate my answer, and give that answer no matter what the question was.
What I said was "don't count your chickens before they hatch."
What I meant was: I'm 99% sure this is baloney. But I'm giving myself some wiggle room in case it turns out to be real, against all odds. A century ago, some world-famous scientists scoffed at the possibility of nuclear power. I didn't want to join them.

Here's the interchange, as best I can recall:
TV newscaster: "Assuming that it is a real discovery, how long will it be before we see these devices in our everyday lives?"
My answer: "It's too early to say*. First we have verify that this effect is real. Don't count your chickens before they hatch."

*This is a useful phrase. It makes you sound wise, while you're really saying that you don't know.

Some months later, I spoke with a University of Utah faculty member about the cold fusion business. He identified himself as a personal friend of Pons, but thought the whole business was an example of pathological science.
The whole cold fusion uproar ended in a matter of months, at least for most scientists. During the brief time interval when it was considered a live possibility, a faculty member from a Big Name University (BNU) visited my university. He remarked that some BNU faculty were investigating, but hadn't found anything. The BNU administration clamped down and stopped the release of any information, even to announce that they didn't see anything. Perhaps the scientists resented the interference of the BNU bureaucrats, but when the dust settled, I hope the scientists were grateful.

When an academic screws up big time, it can make the papers, even decades later. When the prominent British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper died in 2003, his obituary in the Telegraph remembered that two decades earlier he "made an egregious ass of himself" when he proclaimed that the purported "Hitler diaries" to be genuine, while in fact they were forgeries.

How do you think the headlines will read when a prominent global warming denier dies?

(first name) (last name) dies at (years); claimed global warming a "hoax"

Remember: you read it first on Rabett Run!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Shaw makes that piece of ebony smoke like a cigar

Ultimately," she says, "I'm responsible for my own behavior."

Esquire has a long article about the Alberta Tar Sands which is a worthy weekend's reading.  As an introduction John Richardson, the author puts it rather plainly
In Canada, I learned that my entire approach to life is wrong. I tend to trust and believe in the responsible people who are fair-minded and try to see both sides of an issue. I disdain the Not-In-My-Backyard approach of people who only care about their own petty personal issues regardless of the larger good, and I harbored (from lots of reading and zero personal experience) a special secret disdain for Native Americans and First Canadians who try to stop oil trucks to defend some vanished Eden that ain't never coming back. I thought we should soberly consider all the facts — like the global need for oil to warm our houses, to drive to work — and find a reasonable balance.
I was wrong. Global warming turns all those assumptions on their heads. I thought about it throughout my reporting for "Keystone" — which I've been reflecting on all week here and which is now available online in full — from Fort McMurray in Alberta, where the pipeline begins and cannot be stopped, to Port Arthur, Texas, where the oilmen tell you the opposite of the scientists. And, turns out, the crazy people are the sane ones, and the sober, reasonable, responsible people are probably going to be the ones to destroy the world. If that's not the fking bitterest joke of all time, I don't know what is: The Great Destroyer isn't Hitler or Stalin or Mao; it's the Canadians — and all the sober little Canadians within us.
To save the world, we need to do a lot better than that. And get a lot crazier.

We've got enough problems without shooting ourselves in the foot

A somewhat depressing article in the NY Times about wasted money being spent on the waste gas HFC-23, so much so that it's been produced in order to be destroyed.  It looks like the problem is finally being brought under control, with the UN tightening down what qualifies and the Europeans finally rejecting outright doing any more future payments for this.  Still, the problem has been obvious for years.  Offsets can work, but only if they're done right.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Eunice Skates on Thin Ice

Eunice says

The waning ice is allowing the Arctic Ocean to cool off. Eunice thinks this will lead to more sea ice fairly soon.
Well yesm', after October, when the sun starts to set, but Eli points to where Neven does for a good guess about how thin the ice she is skating on is

That light blue stuff there is less than 2 meters, nothing much, the dark blue is water. Figures by Apocalypse4Real.  Yep

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Getting Romney's culture quote just right

There may have been some confusion about what Romney actually said about culture and economic success, so I thought I would document it:

I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things....As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Massachussetts, which is about $53,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the state of Mississippi managed by Governor Haley Barbour, which is more like $31,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality....If you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: culture makes all the difference.... I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place.
I think I got that right.  If not perfectly correct, then I'm certain it fits the spirit of what he was trying to say.

News report of quote is here, and economic info here.

Song of the Pielkesphere: Toujours Meh

Toujours Gai

Rabett Run has today's SSMIS map from Uni Bremen and is now taking bets that before the end of summer there will be no ice in the Arctic below 90N 80N.  A few more days of the cyclone and the Bunny may have to offer odds.  Neven as usual has the details

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Non Sequitur by way of Lotharsson

Over at Deltoid, in the comments, Lotharsson points to Wiley Miller's evaluation of Post Normal Science

Wiley has a couple of others

Some real progress on California renewable energy

The California Public Utilities Commission announced recently that our three major private utilities had already hit the legally-required 20% renewable power standard, 18 months before the end of 2013 deadline.  Next up is 25% by end of 2016, and 33% in 2020.

Will it happen?  The original legislation in 2001 set the 20% standard in 2010, which was then reset in 2009 to give more time and more ambitious goals.  So if history's a guide, some slippage is possible, but this is doable.

In other news, California legislators are debating Senate Bill 843, which would allow renters and homeowners with property badly situated for solar (like me) to buy solar power from facilities off of their property.  In other words, a type of carbon offset, and a good one.

UPDATE:  more on the history of the California program.  Target dates have fluctuated over time:

In 2002, California established its Renewables Portfolio Standard Program, with the goal of increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the state's electricity mix to 20 percent by 2017. The Energy Commission's 2003 Integrated Energy Policy Report recommended accelerating that goal to 2010, and the 2004 Energy Report Update urged increasing the target to 33 percent by 2020. Governor Schwarzenegger, the Energy Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) endorsed this enhanced goal for the state as a whole. Achieving these renewable energy goals became even more important with the enactment of AB 32 (Núñez, Chapter 488), the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. This legislation sets aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals for the state and its achievements will depend in part on the success of renewable energy programs.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Curiosity and the Rabett

For all you out there where it is daytime or the insomniacs, first the blurb

then the live stuff (that was last night here is the replay. Eli and the Night Owls never saw people so happy as after they knew it was on the surface and transmitting

Sunday, August 05, 2012

One Day in the Death of the Arctic

While the lala crowd over at Tony's has been going on about how its all right folks, the Arctic has been melting at an accelerating pace, and the melt has been pretty much all melt and little circulation.  The ice is broken to pieces and floating out there ready for the hammer.  Neven has a nice way of showing this by ratioing the sea ice area to the extent to the sea ice extent.  100% would be a compact ice mass with no little bits floating alone out there.

and, as he points out, a cyclone is passing through and wiping out a mess of what is left.  Readers of Rabett Run can get an idea of how fast things are happening by comparing the SSMIS maps from Uni Bremen yesterday and today shown above.  The Siberia-Alaska edge is simply vanishing.

Better hurry and get your bets in on when it reaches a new minimum

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Worse than we thought

James Hansen has an op-ed in the Washington Post, which might be thought of as a reply to Richard Muller, but is more an example of Alley's folks, you have the blue one over here, and the green one over there, but what you are not listening to are the people who study and really know about this stuff over there in the corner yelling bloody murder.

James E. Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988 , I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Tomato, Tomahto

The semantic part about what NOAA does is that  the “adjustments” are really inter-calibrations. Ask John Christy about the problems you can get into without inter-calibrations when you have different instruments or measurement devices that drift.

Updated for the weekend

Obama's tightrope on European airline emissions

Obama and the Senate Democrats are playing dangerous games, hopefully with care, with Europe's attempt to reduce carbon emissions from airlines.  The EU is applying cap-and-trade not just to internal flights but also flights to and from Europe.  For that, the US lines up with China and Russia saying the Europeans shouldn't care about emissions that start outside of their own borders.

This is important even if you don't like cap and trade and prefer a carbon tax.  How one area that's controlling its emissions interacts with other areas that aren't has to be resolved or the system will break down.  The key method is some kind of carbon emission tariff, and the EU system for airlines parallels that. A legitimate complaint could be made that the EU is keeping all the money for the carbon allocation emissions - it should instead divide up the money for carbon reductions with the outside countries.

I'm going to be optimistic that Obama hopes to use the crisis to push for a global framework on controlling airline emissions.  Using a crisis to achieve a resolution better than the status quo ante is a standard technique, but a risky one. A global airline emission framework has been in the works, for fourteen years.  The EU has every reason not to wait, but hopefully their push forward can move the rest of the world forward.

Airline emissions also aren't trivial and likely to increase substantially.  Anyone who's calculated their own carbon footprint can see that months of efforts to control emissions get ruined by a single cross-country flight.

Electricity from renewable energy can transform ground transport but can't do the same in the air.  Jet fuel from biofuels is barely getting started, so this is a serious problem.  Let's hope we don't stumble.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

One the KT diagram

Reposted more or less from Science of Doom where the usual suspects are trying to deny their way out of the box

There is no problem with the Kiehl-Trenberth diagram, there is a problem with those who try and use it as a strawman which they can attempt to trample. It is a simple description of net heat energy flows between the four major heat reservoirs, earth, air, fire and water (bunnies sense a classical theme emerging with the sun being fire) and does not show explicitly the flows interior to any of the three, thus the lack of layers in the atmosphere which capture much else of what is being talked about whenever this subject is raised.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Climate Zork

Scott Eric Kaufman at acephalous has perfected the game of Zork as an expression of the travails of life on the net.  The best of his scripts IEHO is DISBELIEF.  Zork is absolutely the perfect game to describe the adventures of the last few days which Eli has attempted below with many borrowings from Scott.  Oh yes, beware the grue.  In the spirit of such games, readers are invited to submit continuations of the story to bring it up to date.

Copyright (c) 1980, 1982, 1983, 2006 Rabett, Inc.  CLIMATE ZORK! is a registered trademark of Rabett, Inc.
Revision 28 / Serial number 55153379
West of Office Building

You are standing in an open field west of a white office building, with a boarded front door.  There is a small mailbox here.

> e

You are standing in an open field west of a white office building, with a boarded front door.  There is a small mailbox here.

> go inside

It is such a beautiful day out.  Why not explore awhile?

> I have to write a game changing paper

The paper will be nonsense and you will be a laughing stock 

> open mailbox

You have mail 

> open mail

This is a computer game and it's an email box

> turn on blackberry

This game no longer supports that device

> throw blackberry into the garbage can

There is no garbage can

> eat blackberry


> Turn on iPod

The tunes of Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians  fill the air 

> Turn off iPod

The neighbors thank you

> Turn on iPad

That's better

> Read first email header

FROM: Pielke, Roger, Sr.
SENT: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 7:59 AM
TO: Anthony Watts
SUBJECT:  Game changing paper

> Sent from?

Sorry privacy rules forbid revealing that information. 

> Read email


Get to work on the game changing paper I told you to write.  Menne, delanda est.  John Christy and Steve McIntyre have been detailed to help you.  Shut your blog down until it is done

> Computers speak Latin?

Chris taught me

> My blog is the worlds most viewed site on global warming

You have your orders

> What will my readers think?

Most don't

> Well a few do

Email was sent to both of them

>   Think of the disappointment?

The net will go wild with speculation.

> Anything I write will get shot down in a day

You will own the news cycle.

> Enter office

It's boarded up

> Stop crap moaning. Go inside and write

You reluctantly return to the white office complex and
The door is locked.  There is evidently no key.

> take key

I don't understand that.

> Pick up ax

I don't understand that.

> Kick in door

It is a steel door.  There is video surveillance.  Your rent doubled

> s

You are behind a white office building.  In one corner of the building there is a window which is slightly ajar.

> open window

With great effort, you open the window far enough to allow passage.

> climb in window

You are in the break room of the white office building.  A table seems to have been used recently for the preparation of food.  A passage leads to the west, and a dark staircase can be seen leading upward.  To the east is a small window which is open. On the table is an elongated brown sack, smelling of hot peppers. A clear glass bottle is here. The glass bottle contains: A quantity of water.

> open sack

Opening the brown sack reveals:

A clove of garlic.
A lunch.

> eat lunch

Taken.  Thank you very much.  It really hits the spot.

> w

You are an office.  A desk has recently been used to delete blog comments  A door leads to a closet.  To the east is a litter box which needs to be cleaned.  There is a day old brownie on the desk which smells of cat urine.  There is a Commodore 64 computer on the desk.  A web page is open in the Hyperlink 2.5e web browser

> read web page

Watts Up With That - The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change

> I built that!

You didn't build the internet

> Open window to post

C'mon, it's a Commodore 64

> Open app for posting


> Write

If you insist

> Something’s happened. From now until Sunday July 29th, around Noon PST, WUWT will be suspending publishing. At that time, there will be a major announcement that I’m sure will attract a broad global interest due to its controversial and unprecedented nature.

To give you an idea as to the magnitude of this event, I’m suspending my vacation plans. I weighed the issue, and decided (much to my dismay) this was more important. I can go on vacation trips another time, but this announcement is not something I can miss now and do later.

Media outlets be sure to check in to WUWT on Sunday around 12PM PST and check your emails.

If you wish to be automatically notified of the updates, click on the “Follow Blog via Email” button about midway down the right sidebar.

Comments are closed, and I will not be responding to emails until Sunday.

TO BE CONTINUED.  We all know what happened next, but Eli welcomes your contributions to Climate Zork.