Thursday, February 27, 2014

Climate Change in Our Times

In the previous post Eli noted the NBC News take on the NRC/RS Climate Change FAQ.  While short, copies of the report, printed or perhaps thumb drived would be a fine inclusion in some chocolate Easter eggs in the coming Spring, especially for those Thanksgiving uncles.

However, here, Eli would like to draw your focus to the obligatory Roger Pielke Jr. remark

"Ultimately, [it is] rather ho-hum, and pretty redundant to everything else that is out there," Roger Pielke Jr., a climate policy analyst and professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told NBC News in an email.
This is truly amazing for many reasons.  First, John Roach, who wrote the piece, framed the quote beautifully, with a subhead
'Ho-hum' but necessary
 a lead in (emphasis added in bold)
Outside experts asked to comment on the report noted that it lacks new information, but neatly packages mainstream climate science for a general audience.  "Ultimately, [it is] rather ho-hum, and pretty redundant to everything else that is out there," Roger Pielke Jr., a climate policy analyst and professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told NBC News in an email.
followed by the hammer
Ho-hummery aside, the National Academy of Sciences and Royal Society were compelled to make a statement, according to Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. "Sadly, in today's political environment, where climate change denial is pervasive at our highest levels of government, it seems that the message is not being heard," he told NBC News via email.
Roger, of course, is a policy analyst, something that Roach was careful to point out.  Is it not curious Ethon points out that Roger is not aware of the fact that the ho hommery does not appear to have penetrated some policy making skulls?  This, of course is part of his game.

Roger Jr. and Dan Kahan and their ilk have always pushed the idea that well everyone knows that the IPCC has it right, but so what, the people who count will never agree to taking action so dig your survival shelter and wait out the coming, either that or buy air conditioner futures and move to the mountains.   It actually works if, as Richard Alley says, the policy maker listens to the discussion between the guy on the blue side and the guy on the green side which is "certainly not both sides. If you want both sides, we would have to have somebody in here screaming a conniption fit on the red end, because you are hearing a very optimistic side."

But times they are a changing.  The somebunnies shouting bloody murder are sick of being triangulated and the green side has realized that things are much worse than they thought and too are starting to scream bloody murder, perhaps not as loud as necessary, but much louder and the journos are also listening and catching on.

Maybe not, but maybe things end better this time

"Uncertainty," Fung said, "does not challenge my certainty about the fact the planet will warm."

The US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society have issued a FAQ on climate change which is being covered by the media.

Some good coverage over at NBC where Inez Fung, one of the authors, no longer hides her inner snark.  The message is that yes Oklahoma, climate change is happening and it is not going to be a bowl of cherries.  This is apparently getting through to the journos in the way they handle the now obligatory message from Ethan's little liver pool, subheading and juxtaposing the solicited quotation from RPJ

'Ho-hum' but necessary

Outside experts asked to comment on the report noted that it lacks new information, but neatly packages mainstream climate science for a general audience. "Ultimately, [it is] rather ho-hum, and pretty redundant to everything else that is out there," Roger Pielke Jr., a climate policy analyst and professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told NBC News in an email.
Ho-hummery aside, the National Academy of Sciences and Royal Society were compelled to make a statement, according to Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. "Sadly, in today's political environment, where climate change denial is pervasive at our highest levels of government, it seems that the message is not being heard," he told NBC News via email.
and NBC puts the question raised by this report, all the IPCC reports, all the NRC reports and 97% of the published literature
Which option do we choose?
To move the debate forward on how to respond to climate change, the document describes available options, ranging from doing nothing and accepting the "losses, damage and suffering that arise," to a change in energy production and usage to limit greenhouse gas emissions or "geoengineering" of the climate to counteract some of the changes.
Which option — or portfolio of options — society ultimately chooses is up for debate. What's important for the scientific academies is that the debate occurs. Even as the scientific process evolves and raises new questions about climate change, the evidence is clear that human activity is forcing the climate to change, according to the report.
"Uncertainty," Fung said, "does not challenge my certainty about the fact the planet will warm."

IMPORTANT: Streaming video meeting now over, will post link to recording when available

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Eli Is Going To Be Rich

Eli received a reply to his 419 letter from Ken Johnson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium  Research Institute.  According to Dr. Johnson, the sharks are gathering to pursue the Wendy Davis X Prize for Oceanic pH,  Rumor has it that there are twenty teams formed already, so Judith Curry will have lots of data to estimate uncertainty.

Dr. Johnson sent along a little note that Eli can pass on that talks about the why of the X Prize and was a response to a journalist's inquity

2) The accuracy of the measurements of acidification is not good enough, so that X -Price has announced a high prize money for a better gauge. How large are the uncertainties of the measurements? How well can the level of pH be tracked?

The pH of seawater can be measured exceptionally accurately using laboratory measurements.  Perhaps better than 0.001 pH, which is a capability unparalleled in any other area of science (and thanks to the pioneering work of Bob Byrne).  It is good enough to detect the expected rate of acidification, which is about -0.002 pH/year.  But this requires repeated sampling by ships, a process that doesn't scale to large areas of the ocean (you need an island with a university to sustain open ocean measurements.  Not too many of those).  So we only have a few (perhaps fewer than a dozen) sites in the ocean with long-term, high quality pH measurements. These sites show a quite consistent pattern of acidification.

The X-Prize is really focused on extending this laboratory capability into the environment by challenging the community to make sensors that can be deployed on moorings, profiling floats, gliders etc., and which have that same high precision found in the laboratory.   But without requiring a ship and scientists to be present.  There are for example, few long-term records of pH on coral reefs and, given the potential impacts, one would like to know how pH is really changing in those environments.  Perhaps something is happening to mitigate change in such areas, or perhaps something is happening to make acidification worse in those areas.  We really need more, very high quality pH records to answer such questions and that will require the sensors that the X-Prize is trying to develop.

The real question is not whether acidification is occurring.  The simple chemistry of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere and that gas dissolving in seawater make this an inescapable result.  The real question is whether the rate is amplified or mitigated in various areas.  Overall, the pH of the ocean must be going down and we really should track the variability in that.  A possible amplification might be increasing winds that bring deep water with more CO2 to the surface, increasing the rate of pH decrease. This is not directly due to CO2 dissolving in the water, but would be due to more CO2 in the atmosphere changing the heat balance of the earth and overall wind patterns.  There are also clearly documented increased in wind speed in the Southern Ocean that are explained by the Southern Hemisphere ozone hole.  A completely unexpected, possible amplification of acidification rates.

A Tiny Puzzler

So between the Weasel, the Variable and the Physics there has been much discussion of the greenhouse effect, and, of course, a lot of confusion, much from the confused, which Eli has on occasion tried to unscramble, but Eli has a puzzler that probably has appeared on Watts in some form or other

Given a bounded (e.g. it stops), isothermal (Eli is in denial about gravity here, the Bunny knows, but this is a thoughtful experiment) will adding additional greenhouse gases cool or heat the system?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Lads From teh Burrow

Now some who are following the conversation under Brian's acid tasting contest may have noted that there remains considerable confusion about the capabilities of pH sensors and method, which are really quite good, as is clear to anybunny who reads Rabett Run or the scientific Google

As Eli noted, although the older spectrophotometric methods are quite precise and accurate, modern FET sensors have a lot of advantages

an ion selective field SeaFET, accurate uncalibrated to 0.01 pH units, with a precision of 0.005.  The SeaFET can be left alone to operate and read out later and here is something about a system under use on the California coast.  Basically they are comprised of an ion selective membrane (only lets certain ions pass) on top of an FET. 
The two guys leading this effort are Todd Martinez of Scripps and Kenneth Johnson of the Monterey Bay Acquarium.  Richard pointed out that there was serious money (the Wendy Davis X Prize) being offered for what was already available (the SeaFET) and the Rabett Run Organization (the Lads from the Burrow) decided to try and cut themselves in on the feed.
From: "Eli E Rabett"
To: Subject: Confidential Investment Proposal
Date: Wed, February 30 14:03:47 -0000
Normal X-Mailer:
Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3110.1
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft Mime
OLE V4.72.3110.3

ATTN: Dr. Kenneth Johnson, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)
Dr. Todd Martz of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography,



First, I must solicit your confidence in this transaction, this is by virtue of its nature as being utterly CONFIDENTIAL and TOP SECRET. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. We have decided to contact you by e-mail due to the urgency of this transaction.

Let me start by first introdusing myself properly to you. I am Eli R Rabett, a Manager at Rabett Run Enterprises, Big Burrow Bend, USA. I came to know of you in my private search for a reliable and reputable person to handle a very confidential transaction which involves the transfer of a huge sum of money as a consequence of a contest to produce a better oceanic pH sensor requiring maximum confidence.

I am not too really sure if you are my long lost contacts whom I am trying to reach, but in anyway, please do take this message with a good heart and report back to me if you are not the persons I think you are. I would explain more latter.

THE PROPOSITION: A foreigner, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis banked with us here at MT GOX PLC., is an American engineer, physician, and Intel entrepreneur best known for being the founder and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, the co-founder and chairman of Singularity University and the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. He is also the former CEO and co-founder of the Zero-Gravity Corporation, the co-founder and vice chairman of Space Adventures Ltd., the founder and chairman of the Rocket Racing League, the co-founder of the International Space University, the co-founder of Planetary Resources, and founder of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

He is also somewhat forgetful as eminent STEM people can be and after offering the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize and depositing the $2,000,000 in prize money with our bank, which has grown considerably after being converted to BitCoins and had a closing balance of USD$38.M ( Thirty Eight Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) which the bank now unquestionably expects to be claimed by one of the prizes available scientific supplicants or alternatively be donated to a discredited trust fund for climate change denial at a local school of oil drilling and chiropody studies.

Fervent valuable efforts are being made by the MT GOX Bank to get in touch with any scientific supplicants or relatives but all have proved to no avail. It is because of the perceived possibility of not going to be able to locate any of Engr. Diamandis lab mates (he had no known graduates) that the management under the influence of our Chairman, board of directors, Retired Director of Research S. Fred Singer, that an arrangement for the fund to be declared "UNCLAIMABLE" and then be subsequently donated to the Trust Fund for climate change denial, oil drilling and chiropody studies which will further enhance the courses of disaster in the world in general.

In order to avert this negative development, myself and some of my trusted colleagues here at the Rabett Run Enterprizes now seek for your permission to have you stand as an entrant for the Wendy Davis XPrize, with your SeaFET, the fund, USD$38.5M would be subsequently transferred and paid into your bank account as the beneficiary winners.

All documents and proves to enable you get this fund have been carefully worked out and we are assuring you a 100% risk free involvement. For your assistance, your commission would be 30%. 10% has been set aside for expenses while the rest would be for myself and my colleagues for investment purposes in your country.

 If this proposal is OK. by you and you do not wish to take advantage of the trust we hope to bestow on you and your company, then kindly get to me immediately via my e-mail furnishing me with your most confidential telephone, fax number and exclusive e-mail so that I can forward to you the relevant details of this transaction.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated co-operation.

 (Yes, Eli did not send this Email, but he did send one:)

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Blegging re human ability to taste the change in ocean acidity

Ocean acidification  has changed pH from about 8.2 to 8.1, so far.

My question - can we taste the difference? Might be an interesting factoid that we've altered the oceans so much that we can taste the difference, so imagine the effect on creatures whose biochemistry is dependent on that system.

I can't find the answer - anyone care to enlighten me? Please comment.

Reading around about acid manipulation in wine-making suggests this level of pH change is detectable to taste, but I'm not certain, and that's also starting at a very different level of acidity.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Unclear On the Concept

As many bunnies are aware, Mark Steyn is not only being sued by Michael Mann, but has decided to defend hisself.  This may be a landmark event for the popcorn industry.  Steyn has just filed an answer and counterclaim in the suit.  As somebunny remarked, if nothing else it establishes Steyn as a world class denialist (Roy SpencerTM) , cause half of the thing is given over to how he denies knowledge or information on this and that.  There are some goodies like

103. Denies the allegations in Paragraph One-Hundred-And-Three of the Amended Complaint, except admits that Dr Mann’s colleague Sandusky is presently serving a lengthy gaol sentence for child rape and multiple other sex crimes against children. 
Now some, not Eli to be sure, but certainly the head auditor we know would be out there busy denouncing this "improper statistics", given that Sandusky retired from his coaching position at Penn State in 1999, when Mike Mann had just started as an assistant prof at UVa.  Mann moved to Penn State in 2005.  A real head auditor could work up a mouthful of spit on that one.

But wait, there is more
30. Denies the allegations in Paragraph Thirty, especially the allegation that obscure unread losers at whatever “Discover Magazine” is are in any sense “respectable and well-regarded journalists”.
Egad, Steyn got something right!  Mercy Mom Rabett!!!

But, you knew there was another but, it is the counterclaims that have the World of Derpnial up in the rafters cheering on.  Well, except that Steyn pretty much shows that he needs a lawyer, very, very bad.

As Eli pointed out to Lucia and the assembled pickers of nits, the first counterclaim is
As a result of Plaintiff’s campaign to silence those who disagree with him on a highly controversial issue of great public importance, wrongful action and violation of the Anti-SLAPP Act, Steyn has been damaged and is entitled to damages, including but not limited to his costs and the attorneys’ fees he has incurred and will incur in the future in defending this action, all in an amount to be determined at trial, but in any event, not less than $5 million, plus punitive damages in the amount of $5 million.
Now some, not Eli to be sure, but maybe Mark Steyn, may have not noticed that the court has denied their special motion to dismiss under the DC Anti-SLAPP act.  Still pretending that nothing has happened Steyn’s first claim for damages, based on the DC Anti-SLAPP act appears to find something in that law that is not there, e.g. the possibility of an award for damages based on a violation of the anti-SLAPP act. Popcorn please.

The second is even better
Plaintiff’s wrongful interference with Defendant Steyn’s constitutionally protected rights of free speech and public expression and his engagement and use of the courts as an instrument of the government to carry out that wrongful interference violates the First Amendment and constitutes a constitutional tort for which Defendant Steyn is entitled to be compensated.
Eli is no lawyer, but the Rabett does remember the First Amendment.  Steyn appears to believe it reads
Michael Mann shall make no law suit respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise of my telling porkies about him. . .
Sadly for Canadian Marky, it really says that the Congress of the United States is the one in charge of not making such laws.  Popcorn bunnies, invest your last carrot in popcorn.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Like Lambs to the Slaughter

The American Physical Society had done it again.  In a surprisingly repetitive fit of Dunning Kruger they have assembled a subcommittee to guide the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) in a review of the APS statement on Climate Change which is composed of nuclear physicists and others who know nothing about climate relevant physics.

The chair of the subcommittee is  Steven E Koonin, former Undersecretary of Energy, now at the NYU Center for Urban Science and Policy, a theoretical nuclear physicist now having moved into the energy futures business.

Members of the subcommittee include

Robert Rosner, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago who was a big wheel at Argonne National Lab, who chairs both the subcommittee and the parent APS Panel on Public Affairs.  Rosner is an astrophysicist, who is the closest on this assembly of gibbering know it all physicists who comes closest to maybe renting a clue given his work on fluid dynamics in stars and galaxies.  Some of the solar issues might have swum by his eyes at some point.

Susan J Seestrom a neutron scatterer from Los Alamos who is now a lab co-director.

Philip Coyle, an arms control (read nuclear weapons) expert formerly at the Office of Scientific and Technology Policy, and not at a think tank, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, now ain't that just the right background.  Coyle is also a member of the APS Panel on Public Affairs

R. Scott Kemp, another refugee from the nuclear complex

No climate relevant stuff there unless you are interested in nuclear autumn.

 You might as well have picked a bunch of squeegee guys from off the street.  The tragedy is that APS, even in the other divisions such as Chemical Physics, does have a number of experts who have relevant experience and understanding, even if they are not climate scientists.  People who understand such things as spectroscopy, energy transfer, fluid dynamics and more.  Instead we (Eli is a member) get this bunch of Jason wanna bees who think that they are so bright they can understand complex stuff in 2.5 microseconds.  The world is about to relive the tragedy described by Myanna Lahsen

In some respects Nierenberg, Seitz and Jastrow are representative of broader categories of which they are partly part. They share common characteristics with other physicists and with a particular subgroup of physicists and governmental advisers in particular, an older generation of elite physicists shaped by nuclear physicists. The Marshall Institute trio has lived through dramatic changes in popular attitudes towards science and the environment. Their engagement in US climate politics can be understood in part as a struggle to preserve their particular culturally and historically charged understandings of scientific and environmental reality, and an associated, particular normative order. The trio has found support for important dimensions of their worldviews and policy preferences within the backlash and among Congressional Republicans, but they must continuously contend with challenges to the privilege to which they had grown accustomed in science and government.
In passing she records a conversation with a young physicist which explains the arrogance
this is a problem with physicists: they think they know everything, because they’re smart. What they don’t understand is that yes, it is true, actually meteorology is a branch of physics. And so you take a physicist, like me, and you can sit him down, and in 2 or 3 years, they could learn meteorology. But physicists confuse being smart and having the ability to learn everything with actually knowing stuff!
We lost time to those clowns when they opposed the Montreal Protocols, we lost time to those clowns when they opposed actions on climate change, and we are about to lose more time to them.

The Subcommittee called some witnesses

And, oh yes, who did this subcommittee chose to learn about climate science from?

John Christy
William Collins
Judy Curry
Isaac Held
Richard Lindzen
Benjamin Santer

The best false balance choices since, like forever.  Eli has the following question to the Nuclear Subcommittee:  Lindzen, Curry, and Christy are about the only three respectable (ok, semi- to vaguely respectable) scientists you could find to talk about denial.  Roy Spencer being occupied with shark jumping, but it would be pretty easy to come up with a couple of hundred others who would represent the IPCC consensus position, this should have told you something.

However, what the bunnies can do is look at the transcript of that meeting.  It is concerning, the naivety of the panel is not charming.  Let us fisk, let us fisk, let us fisk

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Juan Cole on Denial

Louis Gohmert, caribou wingman, is, without a doubt, several nails short of a sack, and one of the Princes of Denial in the US Congress.  Juan Cole hits home with a transcript of a debate between Gohmert and Bill Nye.  Now some, maybe Eli to be sure, think that Nye is engaged in a bout of self promotion, debating on this and that about things where there is no real debate, but Cole got that covered.  Eli gives you Bill Nye vs. Louis Gohmert on Gravity
Nye pointed out that Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity in the 17th century and it is settled science.
Gohmert challenged Nye’s certainty. “The cultists who tout science always speak as though we know for sure that scientific discoveries are true. Gravity has only been theorized for a couple hundred years. It’s too early to tell. How much money do they want us to waste on suspension bridges and other expensive technology aimed at keeping things from falling down, on the basis of a theory?”
Nye tore off his bow-tie and began chewing on it in frustration.
Go read the whole thing.

ELI RESERVING THE RIGHT TO EXPAND AND ENHANCE HIS POSTS CONTINUES:  The image is from predator haven which links to Bad Astronomy, which has a YouTube take on the debate from then Representative now Senator Markey

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to a bill that overturns the scientific finding that pollution is harming our people and our planet.
However, I won’t rise physically, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating around the room. 
I won’t call for the sunlight of additional hearings, for fear that Republicans might excommunicate the finding that the Earth revolves around the sun. 
Instead, we will embody Newton’s third law of motion and be an equal and opposing force against this attack on science and on laws that will reduce America’s importation of foreign oil. 
This bill will live in the House while simultaneously being dead in the Senate. It will be a legislative Schrödinger’s cat killed by the quantum mechanics of the legislative process!
Arbitrary rejection of scientific fact will not cause us to rise from our seats today. But with this bill, pollution levels will rise. Oil imports will rise. Temperatures will rise. 
And with that, I yield back the balance of my time. That is, unless a rejection of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is somewhere in the chair’s amendment pile.
Bunnies, hard as they try cannot keep up.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

As good as it gets: patriarchy and Mitt

Taking the sympathetic documentary Mitt at face value, it shows a patriarchal culture at its very best. The women in these men's lives are loved and respected, and their counsel taken as seriously as the men's, but they're not the deciders. I also thought it was interesting that the wives of the sons made it into the inner circle, as did some male outside staff, but no female outsiders. That's the one point I'll make that I haven't seen in other reviews. I don't know enough about Obama's campaign to know if a similar documentary would've looked different, but I hope so.

Beyond this, I'm not sure what to make of this portrait of a nice, self-aware, and unassuming man who lied and lied and lied and who, if he had been successful, would have semi-wittingly killed thousands through his actions on Obamacare and climate. It would be interesting to know more about the documentarian Whitely who filtered what we see, and why Romney's fellow Republican candidates in 2008 despised him so much.

Worth watching though!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Attack of the Weaponized Bunnies

These guys are on a Japanese island formerly used for chemical weapons development.  More carrots please, or else

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Very Strange

Well to start, it sure looks like the Arctic sea ice anomaly is about where it was this September according to Cryosphere Today

and if Eli goes to the IJIS sea ice extent, this winter's ice is pretty small, like record or close to it

but then you look at the AMSR2 maps from Uni Bremen and well, nothing in the Bering Sea, and the Greenland Sea and Barents Sea are relatively empty but the Gulf of St. Lawrence is nailed shut. 

and PIOMASS is up considerably up as is thickness.

Place your bets.

Hypocrisy: not the worst sin, but maybe the most amusing

Rand Paul on whether Hilary Clinton should be president:

“You know what’s funny about it is I tell people – they’re like, ‘Why did you bring up the Clintons? Why did you bring up Bill being such a predator and sexual harassment and what he did with an intern in the workplace?’” Paul said. “I said, ‘Well, because they asked me the question'....One of the things we have done that is a step forward, has been over the last couple of decades is women should be protected from predatory behavior of their bosses. And that’s what Bill Clinton’s affair, whatever you want to call it with an intern was, was sexual harassment.”
also here:
He added, “It’s not Hillary’s fault, but it is a factor in judging Bill Clinton in history.”
He added with Bill and Hillary Clinton, “Sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”

And then there's Rand Paul on people judging him over his long relationship to big ol' racist aide Jack Hunter:
“Why don’t we talk about Rand Paul, I’m the one doing the interview. You can go ahead and beat up on an ex-employee of mine, but why don’t we talk about Rand Paul and what I’m trying to do to grow the party, and then we might have an intelligent discussion,” the Kentucky Republican said.
also here:
He added that it was “unfair” to suggest that he should be painted with a “broad brush” because of the actions of his former aide.

Bonus quote from Paul: "hypocrisy defeats their whole argument." I wouldn't beat yourself up like that, but I agree it doesn't make you  look good.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Obama's political key for rejecting Keystone

Thought I'd take a break from checking Rabett Run every half hour for Eli's groundbreaking post on or after February 30, and write about something else.

Obama's in a bind on Keystone, with the State Department finding that it won't have much of a climate effect because the oil would otherwise just get out by rail and get burnt anyway. Keystone proponents will say his "own experts" are saying that it passes the test Obama set for it.

If Obama wanted to kill Keystone he could consider saying that outside experts and even some government experts disagree, but I'm not sure that limits the political damage that much. We could say, so what? Absorb the political hit and save the planet, but that's not a sustainable political strategy. You save it for special occasions.

I think the best messaging Obama could use if he struck down Keystone is that whether the tar sand oil stays in the ground is a political assessment - whether the other modes for moving oil will receive political approval, whether a delay might result in changed Canadian policies just as American policies have changed, and whether the uncertainty over future oil prices is reason enough to stop the approval. Combine that with Obama's message that while we need to use fossil fuels, we should only use the cleanest fuels and there's no question that this stuff doesn't qualify, and he might have a viable political message.

UPDATE:  two additional points. You think Keystone is bad for the climate? Here's what's somewhat worse - a slightly smaller amount of tar sand oil exported by rail. Enviros are betting on a significant decrease in tar sand oil exports in the absence of the pipeline, or else things become even worse than otherwise.

The other is that this issue will still be alive, regardless, for at least part of the 2016 presidential election. If Obama approves Keystone, then resolving inevitable litigation will take at least a year or two, plenty of time for candidates to be asked to weigh in on the litigation and what to do about it. If Obama kills it, some candidates in 2015 will say it's not too late to reverse his decision. I think in reality that January 2017 may be too late, but people might not realize that during the initial part of campaign season.

Instructions to Newbies and Oldies

By way of Small Pond Science   a primer on peer review and how to do it from the British Ecological Society.  All the bunnies would want to know.

Also a couple( 1, 2) of inside tips on grants writing from  xykademiqz.

And for those of you out in NIH land, a book from the author of Medical Writing Editing and Grantsmanship, Michelle Kienholz and the former director of the NIH NIGMS, Jeremy Berg on How the NIH Can Help You Get a Grant.  The general advice is good for all agencies here and there.

Eli has some comments at the xy links that may help.  Might expand them into a post

Friday, February 14, 2014


So, the bunnies ask, amongst them Barry Bickmore, Lucia, winger sites galore, what is with that clown Mark Steyn who keeps digging in deeper and deeper in his set to with Mike Mann.   Besides, anybunny can see that Steyn is, shall one say, not in good doo doo with the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Eli will hazard a guess.  Steyn is judgement proof and he knows it. Raising money for his "defense" has given him a good income stream, that now, since he is without representation, is just pure profit.  Living off the stream with probably no substantial real assets, hey, what's not to like :) especially when his "brave" replies to the court and in public win him plaudits from the crazies.

This is a huge problem for his former friends at National Review and the CEI.  They gotta cut him loose but they can't.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Sceptic or the Skeptic

In the last couple of weeks Eli has been toe-nailling about one of those incestuous ideas that creep into a bunny's mind.  Something potentially very important, unnoticed, but upsetting to the normal way of thinking about the greenhouse effect.  Now, let his Bunnyship get this out at the front, the idea, as the imminent readers will see, has nothing to do with the global effect, that is absolutely nailed by radiative transfer codes matched against emissions to space.  And no, it is not Viscount Rabett's maundering about how there is no such thing as nasty hominids warming the planet, but to continue

Now, for some, not Eli to be sure, but maybe, Willard Tony,, the title of this post would be

Rabett Run publishing suspended – major announcement coming

Something’s happened. From now until Sunday February 30th, around Noon RRST, Rabett Run will be suspending publishing except for what Brian says and maybe John. 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.

Media outlets be sure to check in to Rabett Run every half hour.  Hits are needed
 But, then again, all remember the resulting damp squib.  That and the fact that Ms. Rabett has put Eli on a carrot free diet till he loses some have perhaps deepened the hallucination.

On the other hand were Eli Tamino he would think about his thoughts and ask others for their take
That’s what scientists do. When we don’t agree on what’s happening, we try to understand it. If a lot of different possibilities are investigated, well that’s the way it always happens. Eventually, we’ll sort through which arguments are most persuasive and reach at least some measure of agreement. That’s how science works. And it works, bitches.
As discussed above, bun fun, at least Eli's, and he is a very dull and old bunny indeed, sometimes includes thinking about usual things in different ways.  About a week ago the Rabett got into it with someotherbunny who knows what he is blathering about, who uttered the usual idea that the greenhouse effect works, because emission from greenhouse molecules is isotropic, not unidirectional, certainly not in the upwards direction and stuck there

OK, let's think about this a bit Eli thought.  Hmm, when you think about it the hallmark of emission and absorption from greenhouse gases is that locally (key word that) they really don't connect with each other.  Absorption is driven by radiation in the right wavelength region from the ground or other greenhouse gas molecules.  Emission is a function of local thermal collisional excitation.  Molecules excited by absorbing a photon, thermalize that energy within a few microseconds so we need to think about where the heat energy released from collisional vibrational de-excitation flows.  If the energy is localized, for example if transport is limited to diffusion which is quite slow at atmospheric pressures, then we can model emission and absorption of photons as coming from the same point in space.  On the other hand, if the energy is transported a great distance before it excites a molecule which emits or hits the ground, then the process is transport limited and the direction of the emission really does not matter much.

One of the interesting things is that at say 280 ppm, the distance at which the absorption is 1/e ~ 37%, in the R branch (the bunch of lines to higher frequency, which represent transitions from rotational levels with quantum numbers j" of the ground state to those with quantum number j'=j"+1)of the CO2 absorption is about 2 m.  For the Q branch (the structure in the middle, where j"=j') the 1/e distance is about 35 cm
At 400 ppm, the 1/e distance in the R/Q branch is ~ 1.3/0.2 m and at 600 ppm R/Q 1/e is ~0.9/0.15 m.

For one thing this shows that the level from which emission from greenhouse gases reaches the surface is about zilch.  But wait, there is more. We now have a scale for absorption height and emission rate, the inverse of the radiative lifetime of 1.1 sec for the bending mode of CO2 at 670 cm-1.  That gives a rate of 0.9 sec-1, call it 1 Hz.  The ratio of the rate to the mixing rate is equivalent to a set of parameters called Damkohler numbers.

Damkohler numbers are ratios of reaction rates to mixing rates, handy things for ChemEs  If the Damkohler number is greater than unity it means that reactions are faster than the ability to mix, and the reaction is mixing/flow controlled, and if it is less than one, then conversely the reaction is kinetically limited.  To decide which is the case, we need a rate or characteristic time for thermal transport on both calm and windy days, specifically for vertical mixing.

Finding this actually turns out to be harder than you would think because folks who do fluid dynamics don't really measure this, and if they do it is as ratios to various scale lengths that are obscurely buried in obscure equations as functions of things that are obscure constants but never clearly stated.  Even my modeler friend can't give a simple answer, but it is clear that a few m/s for eddy diffusion is not unreasonable near the ground and in urban canyons, which implies that the greenhouse effect in the boundary layer and maybe higher up in those huge up and downdrafts that bump planes is driven by atmospheric flow, not radiation, and that it is only in the limit of the Damkohler number going to zero (high up) that the process becomes completely radiative.

Given how good the radiative transfer codes are at predicting emission it is unlikely that this mechanism makes a global difference at the TOA, but the implications especially for high/low CO2 situations with major eddies, like urban canyons and tree canopies, are Eli thinks potentially interesting.

Consider this a provocation.

Kerry Emanuel is doing a Reddet IAMA

Kerry Emanuel is doing a Reddet on line interview (called I am a. . climate Scientist).  Eli would like to point out one interesting exchange for the Andy Revkins of the world

[–]sinenox Grad Student|Paleoclimatology 6 points ago
Hi Kerry,

Nice to see you here! Many of us in climate science or paleoclimate, even as grad students, receive unsolicited messages ranging from admonishment to death threats. I was sad to read your op-ed about such messages targeting your family. I know that Michael Mann and others who have been forced in to the spot light in the American media circus can expect this, but for those of us who are just students, can you offer any advice?

Also, what do you think our role is when it comes to educating the public? Where does our obligation to the media end?

[–]kerryemanuel Professor of Atmospheric Science|MIT[S] 5 points ago
I think (and hope) that the worst of the threats etc. are over for climate scientists, and you should not let such threats discourage you from engaging in the very vibrant curiosity-driven research in our field.

As far as communication goes, in my view we are most effective when we talk directly to people about our work. Where possible, avoid going through the media who often have agendas that have little to do with truth finding.
Sow, reap, etc.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Figure of the day

Regional temp and precipitation changes for two scenarios in 2100, from Week 2 of the Climate MOOC:

Being a water guy, I'm focusing on the precip. Central America is screwed. And sell any farmland you own in the eastern Mediterranean basin.

If that increased precip in the western Pacific is from storms instead of steady rain, that could be unpleasant. Something China might want to consider.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Lawyers, scientists, and Woody Allen

Not sure what our scientist readers will think of this, but I expect lawyers and scientists might get grouped together and distinguishable from the general public when thinking about the Woody Allen allegations (latest here, good summary of the evidence here).

I'd say a reasonable conclusion based on available evidence is "probably guilty". Lawyers and scientists can stop there, but I think much of the public can't, at least those who care about it. They have to think he's guilty or he's innocent - it's not acceptable to believe there's a 90% chance he's guilty, a 9% chance his daughter was manipulated into a false memory, and a 1% chance she's outright lying.

Lawyers and scientists may reach this outcome differently - lawyers think about process and advocacy more than an objective truth that's separate from process, and modern scientists think about models rather than truth - but get to the same result. At least that's my purely anecdotal sense.

One good aspect of this recent publicity is it helps rebut the concept that a legal presumption of innocence has to apply to how individuals think of these issues. A welcome further step would be dropping any presumptions and live in doubt.

Not that doubt has to be blind. There's nothing to doubt about the child-rapist Roman Polanski, and multiple independent allegations against Bill Cosby don't leave much room for doubt.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Grist for Mashey

Mother Jones has been gifted with the attendance list from the latest Koch fest out in California.

FWIW not many names jumped out at Eli, but this is just metastasizing and has been picked up by the Washington Post, who has created an interesting graphic that John may wish to add to.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Whitehouse on Wednesday

On how Congress is surrounded by a barricade of lies, the payroll scientists and more.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Warming up to the Warming World MOOC

I thought I'd try out the World Bank's Warming World MOOC and it's going well. As a four-week course I thought it might be too basic, even for a non-scientist, but Week 1 had some new-to-me items as well as fine tuning what I generally knew (e.g., current CO2 are the highest not in 3-5 million years as I thought, but 15 million years).

In the new-to-me category, food production in both India and Africa can be strongly, adversely affected by high heat - I thought the food-security issue was primarily about precipitation changes. Climate change can kill a lot of poor children in yet another way that I didn't know.

Other new thing - what the heck's the matter with Luxembourg?

Its 2009 and 2010 per capita emissions are worse than  Canada, Australia, and the US. That's just embarassing. Get a grip!

Anyway, the course seems worth checking out. I'm too lazy to do the essay portion though so no certificate for me.

Profit Motive

Eli has been remarking about the Keystone Pipeline environmental report from the US State Department that people, except chemical kineticists, are very bad at rate problems. Tar sand oil is expensive. Building the pipeline will decrease the cost of mining the tar sand oil, which will make it more competitive. If the pipeline is NOT built then investment into tar sand mining will be lower as the profit would be smaller. QED the effect of building or not building the pipeline will be substantial.

In short, that means that sand in the gears that raise cost discourages investment, especially investment into things with small profit margins and long payouts.  On Jan 30, the Wall Street Journal reported on a splendid example thereof.  Royal Dutch Shell Oil's new president, Ben van Beurden, is repositioning the company, to guess what, make more money.  As part of this

Shell will suspend plans to drill in the Alaskan Arctic after a federal appeals court ruled last week that the U.S. government improperly relied on "inadequate information" in the process of awarding licenses for exploration there. The Arctic plan—which has cost Shell about $5 billion in permits, personnel and equipment since 2008—has faced delays due to sea ice and a drilling rig that ran aground. The government fined Shell $1.1 million for Clean Air Act violations by rigs during the 2012 drilling effort. "The lack of a clear path forward means that I am not prepared to commit further resources for  drilling in Alaska in 2014".
Shell has been very agressive about long term capital investments, not only in Alaska, but in Louisiana (a gas to diesel plant), Kazakhstan, Canada and world wide.  Within the company this set up a tension between those who thought that salvation lay in new sources and new investments and those whose focus was on the bottom line.  The problem with big bets is that they lose, and when they do, they lose a lot of money.  The hit to the bottom line has been huge (no, Shell is not losing money yet but profits are down last year from to 16 billion U$ from 27 in the year before.

Attentive bunnies may recall a few posts about the DOI, Charles Monnett and what turned out to be leaking of information to those opposing drilling in the Arctic, throwing sand in the gears.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Five-year average temps and a betting update

That's the GISS 5-year average. It may look somewhat stuck, although it's important to remember that the now-measly-looking 2002 5-year average was at the time, the highest in the instrumental record. The 1998 5-year average was 0.44 C above the 1951-1980 mean.

The 1979-1986 period was similar to the 2003-2011 time. 

The .06 C drop from 1982 to 1984 is interesting - it's the biggest in the instrumental record since the warming restarted in the 1970s. It's a safe bet (as in, I'm willing to bet) that we will never ever get back together with a 5-year average lower than 2002's.

And speaking of betting, while that upstart antipodean Brian Schmidt hogs all the attention, my own 2007 bets plod along to their 10-year through 20-year finish lines. My bet with David Evans wasn't as generous to my side, comparing five year averages to 0.1/decade and 0.15/decade increases (details here from my 2007 post). Last year, fortunately, I was getting creamed with slightly declining average, -0.06/decade. Unfortunately that's now changed to straight zero, which still means I'm getting creamed (temps have to warm substantially or I pay out). If you compare even noisier data of 2012 to 2011, that's a warming rate of 0.2/decade, and I win.

I think the real lesson is not to worry about year-on-year changes. I said in 2007 that my worst-case personal outcome was to lose one bet, void some others, and win most. If the 2017 average is 0.68 or less, then I lose two bets. An increase of 0.09 in six years or less has happened plenty of times in the last 40 years. The warming we've been sticking in the ocean is going to come out at some point, and I think China and India will start to wrestle with their particle emissions soon.

I no longer think I'm safe from losing more than one bet, but unfortunately I feel pretty good about the ultimate outcome.

Is the message getting through

About two years ago John Nielsen Gammon pointed out that if you separately plot global temperature anomalies for El Nino, Neutral and La Nina conditions the increase is roughly the same in each and the linear trends continue. For all Eli knows John was or was not the first to point this out, but it fairly screams at you when you plot the data

Stefan Rahmstorf at Real Climate, expands the scale a bit, bringing it up to date

The Washington Post picked this up in an article entitled Behind the present pause in global warming. 

Stefan also had made an earlier prediction when discussing ocean heating and its role in a slowdown of atmospheric warming
The next El Niño event (whenever it comes – that is a stochastic process);is likely to produce a new global mean temperature record (as happened in 2010). 
Eli being a very old Rabett, was sitting in the waiting room at the physician's office (Mom Rabett pointed out one's social life becomes such in old age) reading Time Magazine (where else does a bunny read Time Magazine) and found an article by Bryan Walsh (pay wall) who evidently reads Real Climate saying
... the chances are good that 2014 will be even hotter, perhaps the hottest year since records have been kept.  That's because scientists are predicting 2014 will be an El Nino year.
A bit ahead of the game, the  National Weather Center consensus forecast is
The majority of models predict that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5oC and 0.5oC) will persist into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2014 (Fig. 6). While current forecast probabilities are still greatest for ENSO-neutral during summer, there is an increasing chance for the development of El Niño. The consensus forecast is for ENSO-neutral to continue into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2014 (see CPC/IRI consensus forecast). 
Clear if you look at how the things have been changing,

Walsh continues a bit further on
Chances are an El Nino in 2014 won't lead to guillotinings in the streets of Paris, but it would cause hotter weather globally.  The three warmest years on record, 1998, 2005 and 2010  were all El Nino years.  In fact 2013 was unusual because it was so hot despite the fact that there was no El Nino - a sign of just how much global warming has increased.  Should the southern Pacific heat up enough for climatologists to declare and El Nino in effect - and that requires three months of ocean temperatures at least 0.9 F  higher than average - expect 2014 to be a record breaker on many fronts.