Sunday, December 31, 2017

Betting With Catastrophe Bonds

Betting on climate carries some risk for realists, not so much losing the bet but if, as  here and others there, a bunny bets that global temperature will increase, perhaps that is not a bet an ethical hare would care to win.

Bets do have their virtues because as Steve Schneider put it
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts.
and you can get tied up in knots trying to convince others that that last detail is not very likely.  The virtue of bets is they simplify things
On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place . . .
and win a few bucks.  Bill Foster, the only physicist in the US Congress put it another way
On the campaign trail, I learned that there is a long list of neurons that you have to deaden to convert a scientist's brain in to a politician's.  When you speak with voters, you must lead with conclusions rather than complex analysis of underlying evidence -- something that is very unnatural to a scientist. 
and even some of the most obdurate denialists recognize this virtue of bets, for example  Gosslein from the No Tricks Zone
If the 2011/20 decade averages to be warmer than 2001/10, then I will concede that the earth is indeed warming. But if the next decade turns out to be cooler or the same, then you will have to concede that the theory that CO2 is driving the climate is bunk. We can work out the details in the days and weeks ahead.
That, as Eli would say, looks like a losing bet

Now in some cases the losers bets pay to charity and in other cases, some bunnies simply are looking for a counter party and not finding any takers.

An interesting presentation at this year's AGU was by Mark Roulston from Winton Capital, a hedge fund that plans to set up a climate betting market in 2018 (not open to US inhabitants) in order to take advantage of the wisdom of crowds (they are familiar perhaps with the results of elections in the US and UK, maybe not).
 The initial market will allow bets to be placed on the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and the global mean temperature anomaly. It will thus produce implied forecasts of carbon dioxide concentration as well as global temperatures. If the initial market is successful, additional markets could be added which target other climate variables, such as regional temperatures or sea-level rise. These markets could be sponsored by organizations that are interested in predictions of the specific climate variables.
If Eli plays the IPCC chalk and wins, that leaves neither Eli nor the world in a good place.  So what could one do.

While thinking about the issue the Bunny came across Catastrophe Bonds, a high risk high interest investment where the issuer pays the buyer interest, but if catastrophe strikes the buyers don't get their capital back.  For example, the New York has issued catastrophe bonds to cover flooding in the subway tunnels, and there are lots of them in Florida covering hurricane damage.

Well, that is an investment for Roger P Jr, and he would have done well for the last seven years or so, and lost his shirt last, but what about Eli

Eli has an idea, a catastrophe bond market where the interest is split according to climate outcomes.  When a catastrophe occurs part of the capital is used for relief.  These bonds could be issued by governments, or perhaps organizations such as the World Bank which has issued catastrophe bonds covering hurricane and earthquake damage in Mexico.  The bonds could specify whether the capital would be used for amelioration, adaptation, conservation, substitution or mitigation.

A new ethical playground for financial engineering                         

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Taxpayers know that's not rain falling on their heads - any lessons for climate communications?

I've been interested in how poorly the Republicans have done in lying to the voters about the tax bill.

After all, most people will get a tax cut in the short term, with the tax increases and service cuts to come later. Why aren't they happy?

Politico thinks it's about relative deprivation - nobody likes being deprived relative to others, and the blatant skewing of this bill for the undeserving rich has lit a fire. Then DJW at LGM responds:

Of course for all this to work, the public needs to view the tax bill as primarily about upward redistribution. It is, of course, but getting that message through to the general public in a hyper-polarized information environment is itself quite remarkable; I’m a skeptic about the value of messaging, but the Democrats clearly did an impressive job here. But good, disciplined messaging alone shouldn’t be enough to break through the partisan divide....
One theory (I have little confidence I’m right about this; I’m just thinking out loud here): since 2009, we’ve moved further into what’s clearly an era of overwhelmingly negative polarization....In an election, you can mobilize your side effectively because it’s us vs. them; when pursuing a policy initiative, it’s us vs. nothing/status quo, which is harder to demonize, and draws greater attention to what you’re actually doing. If this is right, in a weird way high negative polarization makes the politics of elections worse–uglier and less substantive–but may make some features of politics outside of elections better–since voters are less in thrall of their preferred party, they take a closer look at what they’re trying to do. The fundamentally unpopular features of the Republicans’ plans was harder to hide behind the partisan veil.

Interesting theory. If right, then we'd expect more resistance to denialist policies as the public nominally on the Republican side becomes willing to evaluate climate denial more objectively when Republicans are in power. Doesn't provide a lot of guidance for climate communication in terms of what to do, however - losing elections in order to win public opinion isn't a way to get things done.

I'll just add that Democratic consistency over the years has helped - the Ds say for years, correctly, that Republican tax cuts are biased for the rich. So an especially bad tax cut by an exceptionally unpopular president and Congress gets slaughtered in public opinion (with the donor class crying their way to the bank).

Anyway, consistent messaging about denialist Republicans could also help blunt their lies.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fire Fire Burning Bright, How Many Acres Burned Last Night

Nick Stokes has extended the discussion on the number of forest acres burned in the US, which basically started in nothing is happening twitter and various blogs that deny climate change is upon us, with the appearance of the graph to the left trying to disprove concern about the current California blazes.  To be straightforward about it Nick don't believe the left hand side of the figure, and he quotes from the US Historical Statistics table which comments

"The source publication also presents information by regions and States on areas needing protection, areas protected and unprotected, and areas burned on both protected and unprotected forest land by type of ownership, and size of fires on protected areas. No field organizations are available to report fires on unprotected areas and the statistics for these areas are generally the best estimates available."

Eli is not going to exactly defend this either, but he will stick by the point he was trying to make that 1900 Galveston hurricane has damn all to do with deaths caused by hurricanes today especially with improved building codes, weather satellites and more.  Since forest fire fighting in the US really took hold in the middle 1930s when the federal government got serious about it the left hand side of the figures have not very much to do with the right hand side

However, Eli did come up with a way to look at this, by examining the number of acres burnt per fire.  One of the interesting things in the above graph which the Bunny did not comment on at the time was the surge about 1980 and the increased variability after that.  Nick points to the National Interagency Fire Center data which covers the period after 1960.  The data in the 1960 to 1970 period is the same as from the Historical Statistics.  The NIFC table at the bottom states that
The National Interagency Coordination Center at NIFC compiles annual wildland fire statistics for federal and state agencies. This information is provided through Situation Reports, which have been in use for several decades. Prior to 1983, sources of these figures are not known, or cannot be confirmed, and were not derived from the current situation reporting process. As a result the figures above prior to 1983 shouldn’t be compared to later data. 
Which explains that step, but it is not a huge one and it is an increase.  Using the data in the Historical Statistics of the United States one can compare the number of acres burnt per fire (apologies, were this an NSF grant Eli would be ethically and contractually bound to use hectares, but it is not) burnt on protected Federal, State and private lands compared to those burnt on unprotected lands about which Nick and others have great doubts.  In this picture the red line represents the number of acres burnt per fire on unprotected lands vs the blue line which is the number of acres burnt per fire on the protected lands.  The ratio is greater than 5 to 1. 

 For a further internal consistency check one can look at the total number of fires in the protected and unprotected categories bearing in mind that the amount of forested area in the US has essentially remained constant.  The number of fires remains roughly constant at 150 to 200K between 1926 and 1955 after which it declines to about 100K. 

The graph to the right shows that essentially all land is protected by 1970 because there are few fires ther, moreover from the graph immediately above by ~ 1940 burning in protected land had reached either a constant level or was slowly declining.  The National Interagency Fire Center table (see first two figures) shows that from about 1980 the amount of forest burnt has increased and the average size of each fire has increased.

Of course, since western and eastern US forests are very different beasts, we now need to look at data from both sides of the continent.

Monday, December 18, 2017

So What Climate Change Stories Would Sir Philip Sidney Tell

We here at Rabett Run might ask what Renaissance Literary Theory has to add to climate communications and, as it might occur, to the AGU Fall Meeting.  Turns out more than a bit.  While literary critics have the habit of not using Power Point presentations at their talk and writing out their talks (which has the advantage that they can be published immediately on Medium and elsewhere ), there is important content.  Dr. Genevieve Guenther talked in the Public Affairs session of the AGU meeting on the recommendations of Sir Philip Sidney, an Elizabethan poet, critic and soldier, for climate communication.

In @DoctorVive 's words, Sydney argues that 

. . . literature should be the most celebrated of all the human arts because it best teaches us how we should live. Sidney claims that teaching, by which he means the conveying of information, should not just impart knowledge, but serve to move people to what he calls the “ethic and politic consideration, with the end of well-doing and not of well-knowing only.” Indeed, Sidney thinks this moving is “well nigh the cause and the effect of teaching. For who will be taught, if he be not moved with desire to be taught? And what … good doth that teaching bring forth if it moveth one [not] to do that which it doth teach? For as Aristotle saith, it is not gnosis but praxis must be the fruit. And how praxis [can] be without being moved to practice, it is no hard matter to consider”
But, of course that leaves open what stories we should tell.  Just about all the discussions of climate communication have been operational.  Should there just be recitations of facts, inoculations, MOOCs, should only like proselytize to like to preserve cultural cognition?  Should there be more blockbuster films "showing women who look like Wonder Woman putting solar panels on their roofs? Well, not exactly -- or at least not only" as Doctor Vive says.

What would Sidney say?  Climate change as a tragedy as written by David Wallace Wells has limited appeal.  Why struggle in the second act when all die at the conclusion (Eli knows, yeah there was a line or two of hope at then end, but it basically was an environmental "On the Beach").  Should it be comedy, well no. . To quote again the message in a comedic framing would aim
not to scare people, but connect with them over shared values; next, show how climate change mitigation upholds those values; and, finally, end your message with hope. Thinking about this from a literary critical perspective, I wonder whether ending on a note of hope -- saying, for example, “but we can solve this crisis: we have the technology!” or “but there’s good news, the price of solar has dropped X percent in the past Y years” -- is actually to end your message with a comedic resolution, which is to say a relief of tension, a sort of exhale -- a “whew!,” if you will -- denaturing the driving irresolution that sustains ongoing action.
 In other words, it's all going to be fine at the end so why struggle. 

Which pretty much leaves the epic as the best form.  As Genevive points out, in an epic there is a heroic figure who struggles, motivates people who struggle and they all triumph at the end.  An epic is a journey, with a glowing conclusion of which all are proud. 

Go read the long form.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Been Looking For This To Happen

A minor amount of buzz happened a little over a month ago with headlines around California Assemblymember Phil Ting announcing he'd introduce a bill to ban the sale of new gas engine cars in 2040. China, France, India, Netherlands, and UK have similar plans with varying deadlines. Cal Gov Jerry Brown has asked why China can do this and California hasn't.

So one legislator saying he'll introduce a bill is a far cry from something actually happening. Still, he's on at least one of the relevant legislative committees, Committee on Utilities and Energy. We'll learn more when he actually has a bill. Even if it doesn't succeed, this could be the start.

This Newsweek article says that new gas cars from after 2040 won't be allowed to register in California, so if you buy a new one somewhere else and move here, you'll have to sell your car. That will affect their value outside California. After a few years, it'll be a lot harder to find places selling gas. It wouldn't make much sense to buy a gas car in California a few years before the deadline.

I think this is politically feasible in California, home of Tesla and with an actual acceptance of climate change science. I'm glad to see Phil Ting push this forward, but there are a lot of ambitious Democratic politicians who could show their vision by supporting this. And what about you, Jerry Brown?

What might even be possible is something sooner than 2040. Even 2035 would start to redirect long-term R&D planning by car manufacturers in the near future.

Forest Fires Burning Bright

As the fires burn in California the Dunning Krugar Prior crowd on Twitter, Curry and other places are featuring a graph showing the number of acres burned in the US

Now Eli has been busy pointing out that this is, as one might say, another example of the Pielke Paradox, you know the one where a certain wanna be sports columnist points out that if you divide hurricane damages by GDP why nothing happened.  Of course this neglects the fact that some of that GDP was invested into weather satellites, large computers for weather prediction, and hardening buildings in hurricane prone places.  

So Eli decided to put some labels on that graph, but before doing so he though that it would be useful to look at a couple of things. First at amount of forest land in the US which turns out to be pretty steady since 1920, about 750 million acres out of a total of 2,261.  If anything the amount of forest has increased from 721 to 766.  Next as a marker of the effort put into forest fire fighting, to look not at the forest area burnt but at the number of acres burnt (sorry you hectare fans) per fire as a mark of forest fire fighting.  

The observant will note the sharp decline at 1933 when out of work folk were given a government job in the Civilian Conservation Corp, a significant part of which was to fight forest fires, plant trees and more.  They also got health care, which turned out to be important when WWII broke out and healthy people were needed to fight Nazis and assorted fascists.

After the pause forest fire fighting became more professionalized with more and better equipment and the decline continues until about 1980.  Of course, everybunny knows that temperature anomalies started to rise at that point so that today the question is not so much whether warming contributed to the rise in the number of acres burnt but how much.  There has been considerable discussion about the how much including sessions at the just ended AGU Fall Meeting.

So what would Eli say about that 2017 one fifth of record on the first graph?  Nonsense would be the nice word, deceptive nonsense a bit more correct, and criminally deceptive bulls hit comes to mind.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Marginal Cost of Electricity

There has been, of course a lot of Clacking and Jacobsoning about and there are also long running issues about whether nuclear energy is needed or not.  Willard has pretty well disposed of the Breakdown nuclear guys, but they do have something of a point, which perhaps Eli can illuminate with a little model.  FWIW the discussions about fossil fuels, wind, solar and hydro and nuclear often come down to the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), which basically is what a watt or a megwatt or whateverwatt costs, and on that basis today, wind is the cheapest.

But that does not capture the complete picture because of intermittency, not that nuclear and coal plant don't go off line now and again, so Eli would suggest a second metric, the marginal cost of electricity.  As Enron taught California in the early part of the century, the marginal cost can be a lot higher than the levelized cost, which really is the cost of the first watt.

So here is a simple model.  Start with the maximum possible supply, call it M, then see what happens if the % useage is u.  To keep this simple let the MCE = 1/(M-u) which is not unreasonable.  If M=u you have a short in the market and the price zooms.  Looking at three case M = 150%, 125% and 100% you get a useful model

A bunny could do even more useful things with this model by increasing the cost as a function of maximum power for any sort of mix you want.  You can diddle with scaling, etc but the take home is that as long as costs scale linearly with capacity you don't want to skate close to the edge.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

"Believe the women" and Bayesian Priors

This is where I'll likely get schooled by someone who truly understands Bayesian stats, unlike my lawyer understanding, and that's okay. I think a statistical framework to the debate of "who do you believe" would be a useful contribution.

The prevailing feminist position is to believe the women when they accuse men of sexual harassment or assault. The reason for this position depends on the individual feminist but for many is derived from feminist ideology that not everyone else shares. When a non-feminist sees this and thinks why should I simply believe the woman instead of the man, and sees a reasoning based on ideology of female oppression the person doesn't agree with, then the non-feminist dismisses the argument as non-scientific (add a varying mix of bias to this as well). That's where you get the silly, anti-"Believe all women" backlash that the NYTimes enabled.

"'Believe All Women' Isn't a Thing" says Katie McDonough, and she has a point. I'd like to see any link to any feminist actually saying believe all women in spite of contrary evidence. (There's one exception where many feminists come close to saying that - in one-on-one conversation with women or girls that come to a friend or especially a counselor with an accusation of harassment or assault. It's appropriate in that case to not be impartial or fair because your role is to help her, so an almost-but-not-quite immovable belief in what she says is fine.*)

So what about the rest of us, considering the issue of who to believe as a general concept or a particular allegation you hear about? If we accept that we live in a world of probabilities and incomplete information rather than certainty, then we have options. Some non-feminists say why should we believe the woman rather than the man when we don't know either of them? The answer would be that we do have information in the media about not-powerful women accusing powerful men of harassment and assault, and it seems in the vast majority of cases they are telling the truth.

So that's your prior - believe the woman. More information can adjust your assessment of that particular allegation, or I suppose more information in general can adjust your prior. What seems to be happening now with the flood we're seeing is the prior is getting strengthened.

*Importing this attitude from college crisis counseling centers to college disciplinary proceedings is a huge mistake, however, and people are now realizing this. I'll stand up for lawyers, including feminist lawyers, for pushing on the issue of appropriate process.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Republican tax travesty does limited damage to renewables but more of a problem for EVs

Just one small example of what an undemocratic, corporate lobbyist semi-controlled (i.e. not even the lobbyists really know what's happening) clusterfreak the Senate tax bill is that it's not clear whether it removed the $7,500 tax credit for EVs so that billionaires wouldn't have to pay estate taxes on their "family farms". The Republicans took the worst that the Democrats did in terms of violating procedural norms and then cranked it up to 11, for the worst possible motives and outcomes.

Regarding the revocation of the EV tax credit, the revocation was in the House version, also in the original Senate version, then removed, then added back, and now it's not clear. There's a similar attack on tax benefits for renewable power. No reductions of tax benefits for fossil fuels, of course, let alone consideration of the subsidy fossil fuels get to pollute the air and cause climate change.

Regarding the effect on renewable power, the process for solar and wind becoming cheaper than fossil fuels is so far along that the Republicans can't stop it. EVs are another story - they'll still triumph eventually, but the market is in its infancy yet and crippling the American EV market would really slow things down. California and other blue states will do their best in response, but we need non-idiotic federal policies.

Might seem worthless to point this out now, but here's a quote for Republican Senator Jeff Flake's book, Conscience of a Conservative:

What happens if there is a tax bill which isn't getting any Democratic support, will we stand up and say no, we've got to be bipartisan, we've got to work for it and pick up the necessary votes? Or will we scrap the rules? I will not support any such effort to harm the Senate. It is a line I cannot cross.

Maybe this tax bill can still be stopped, and it could use Senator Flake's help.

As for the broader economic issue of whether tax cuts for the rich make everyone better off, try the lesson from Kansas.

UDATE:  just an interesting related discussion on how fast EVs will take over the market. The anti-EV guy seems to feel incentives and subsidies are somehow unfair and don't count, ignoring how they affect everything besides EVs. I'm sure he would've said the same thing about replacing leaded gas back in the 1970s. His concession that autonomous vehicles change the game is interesting though. I'm presuming the reason is that you maximize usage for autonomous fleets, and the ops and maintenance costs of EVs win out then.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

US Universities Might As Well Close Now

American universities have had a good run since 1945 powered by state and federal government support as well as donations from alumni, foundations and nice folk.  In rankings US research universities occupy the first four places and 13 of the first 25.  The decrease in state funding is already hammering state schools such as the University of Wisconsin, etc.

The US Congress has applied the killer blow.  By proposing to tax tuition remission, the House of Representatives has essentially made attending graduate school a Darwin test.  Eli's friend Andy Dessler has an op ed in the San Antonia Express-News which looks at what would happen if this bill passed.

This would be a terrible policy because it would hurt one of America’s most prized and valuable possessions: excellence in advanced university research. Graduate students form the backbone of research done at universities in the U.S. When professors proudly talk about the amazing work their lab is performing, the odds are that the critical contributions were made by an army of smart, hardworking grad students.
Andy points out the many benefits to the nation of this research, and why passing this tax would be a disaster. 
Our research universities are the envy of the world. Because U.S. research is so good, students come to us from all over the world. And the U.S. benefits from this because the smartest of these people often stay here after they graduate, adding to our professional research workforce.
Sadly, that horse is already out of the barn. Even if the tuition tax is not in the final bill, international students are already forgetting US universities as places to apply to because completing their degrees with Republicans in power, and even if they are defeated is a chancy game to play with your life.

Companies that provide a tuition benefit to their employees, can rip that sucker up since the benefit might come with a tax liability.  US student contemplating graduate school or taking a job now have a simple answer, take the job, who knows if they will be able to complete the degree. 

But it gets worse, STE grad students mostly have research assistantships.  Humanities, social science and math grad students have teaching assistantships which also have tuition remission.  Who is going to take a chance on starting a degree program with the tuition tax lurking?  And without them who is going to teach the myriad sections of English and Math as well as the Chem and Physics Labs.  Undergrad instruction is going to go full sage on the stage MOOCish.

Still, there is something interesting in the proposals from the Goth-Republican caucus, a tax on university endowments for the Harvard Yales.  Now this is really a dumb idea, but it does set the stage for a wealth tax when reality set in (usual if ever clause inserted here)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Biodiversity versus evangelical anti-environmentalism

Given that yesterday's holiday in the US was a spiritual time for many, I'm returning to Creation Care among the Christian right.

We'll need some serious ideological ferment to get to realism on climate change among evangelicals beyond the minority who currently acknowledge the science.* Not impossible - we see how evangelicals and many conservatives broke out of the "tough on crime" position that they were locked into 20 years ago, but still very difficult.

Dominion theology, with its argument that God placed the earth under the "dominion" of humanity as a justification to exploit the earth, is a clear setback. A good example of this nonsense is the Cornwall Alliance, shouting "dominion" at every opportunity as a reason to exploit natural resources. While there might be some sincerity by some few at Cornwall, there's no reason to trust them or their dark money funders.

And yet even these people can't completely deny environmental reality. I think I think the best shot on environmental issues with evangelicals isn't climate change, it's with biodiversity and species extinction. Even Cornwall has to say, after making up a bunch of nonsense about the slow pace of extinctions, that "None of this means that there are not particular species that are, in fact, endangered and that can benefit from careful conservation efforts." Among evangelicals that are less financially motivated for disingenuity than Cornwall, I think the argument could translate into real environmental protections.

One of the strangest places to see environmental issues handled in a nuanced way is the Creationist site, Answers In Genesis. They easily dismiss the idea that dominion is a blank check to destroy. They quote Psalm 24:1, "The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein" together with the standard verse on dominion at Genesis 1:28, "have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Dominion is stewardship with responsibilities over something that belongs to God, not authorization to destroy it. Evangelicals who believe this might have trouble with permanently destroying biodiversity.

If I were a rich environmentalist, this is an area where I'd spend some money developing the activists and message, in addition to the very active environmental movement among religious groups outside of the evangelical community.

*Important to acknowledge not all evangelicals are conservatives, and the climate science believers among evangelicals could just be the non-conservatives. This goes to the question of whether religious belief really drives opinion or if it's all just political tribalism. I think religious belief does have an effect, but it's complicated.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Vanity Press

Retraction Watch has a bombshell, an injunction against OMICS for deceptive business practices.  Now what pray tell are those.

In her decision granting the injunction Judge Gloria Navarro wrote

The evidence produced by the FTC demonstrates that Defendants engaged in probable misrepresentations regarding journal publishing. On the OMICS website, for example, OMICS makes numerous representations indicating that it follows standard peer-review practices. (See PX12 Att. L at 657, 773, 748, Ex. 12 to Mot. for Prelim Inj., ECF No. 9-12). 1 Under standard industry practice, the peer review process often takes several weeks or even months and involves multiple rounds of substantive feedback from experts in the related field. (See PX13 ¶¶ 9–10). In contrast, the FTC has provided evidence that Defendants’ peer review practices, in numerous instances, took a matter of days and contained no comments or substantive feedback
The Court found that the FTC would likely succeed in proving the merits of its claims. 
This inadequacy is further demonstrated by statements from purported “editors,” which indicate that they never received manuscripts to review or else even agreed to be listed as an editor. (See, e.g., PX03 ¶¶ 3–4; PX11 ¶ 7). In some instances, individuals listed as “editors” without permission requested removal from the website without success. (See, e.g., PX02 ¶ 4; PX08¶¶ 4–7; PX06 ¶ 11).
and the injunction is a doozy.  OMICS is enjoined from (among other things
making any representation, or assisting others in making any representation, expressly or by implication, that any journal or other publication is peer-reviewed unless any work product submitted to that journal or publication is reviewed by peers who are subject matter experts, who are not journal employees, and who evaluate the quality and credibility of the work product, and the representation is otherwise non-misleading;
Now whom does Eli know who publishes with OMICS?

Ned Nikolov, and amusingly what points does Ned make about his OMICS publication:
Ned also gives talks at OMICS conferences about which the judge had a few choice words.

For more on Nikolov see Eli and ATTP

Monday, November 20, 2017

Russian money connections paying for Trump's legal defense against illegal activities with Russians

Yes, I think it's a problem:

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Republican National Committee has paid more than $400,000 in personal legal fees for Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in connection with the investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. At least $12,000 of those funds came from a Ukrainian-born billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin.

It's a problem that any political party money provides direct financial benefits to electeds - that creates a pathway for anyone who's rich to put money in the pocket of the president.* Money with shadowy connections to a hostile government is even more disastrous. I'll concede that $12,000 isn't a lot, but that's just what we know about now.

Maybe this one money connection to Russia will be cut off - CNN says Trump is planning to stop taking RNC money for his own legal defense and may funnel his own money to his staff's defense. Of course when it comes to promises to spend his own money, what Trump says he'll do and what he actually does are different worlds. If it does come true though, it seems to be a sign of fear.

*I might reluctantly have a different opinion if a non-rich person is ever again elected president, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tom's Trick Works and Things Are Worse Than They Seem

Some time ago Eli referred to the US Climate Reference Network as Tom Karl's Trick in that it offered an elegant way of evaluating the data and homogenization of the US Historical Climate Network and by extension the global networks of climate stations

 Its primary goal is to provide future long-term homogeneous observations of temperature and precipitation that can be coupled to long-term historical observations for the detection and attribution of present and future climate change. Data from the USCRN will be used in operational climate monitoring activities and for placing current climate anomalies into an historical perspective. The USCRN will also provide the United States with a reference network that meets the requirements of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).
The Bunny's take on this was here is a sensible way of checking the accuracy of older climate networks in the past and calibrating them in the future.  But there was a point that was missed, perhaps even by the designers.  They sensible paired USCRN stations with USHCN ones for evaluation.  Because of this it was implicit in the design that significantly less than the generic 30 climate data evaluation period would be needed to draw conclusions, and that those conclusions would extend back over the entire USHCN period.

Zeke Hausfather, Kevin Cowtan, Matthew J. Menne, and Claude N. Williams, Jr published a short paper on this, Evaluating the impact of U.S. Historical ClimatologyNetwork homogenization using the U.S. Climate Reference Network (open version) where they showed that the USHCN, the historical network, slightly UNDERESTIMATES the warming trend as measured by the USCRN, the optimal network, especially for maximum daily temperatures

Their conclusion was understated, as one would expect
During the period of overlap between the USHCN and USCRN networks, we can confidently conclude that the adjustments to the USHCN station records made them more similar to proximate homogenous USCRN station records, both in terms of trends and anomalies. There are no systematic trend biases introduced by adjustments during this period; if anything adjusted USHCN stations still underestimate maximum (and mean) temperature trends relative to USCRN stations. This residual maximum temperature bias warrants additional research to determine the exact cause.
 The paper also shows that homogenization narrows the distribution of raw data from USHCN stations while leaving the means unchanged which pretty much kills the loud claims of fake data from the peanuts' gallery, but the systematic difference between the USCRN and USHCN warrants further study and a bit more worry.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Manufactured Russia scandal is a nothing burger

My distinguished colleagues on this site, Eli Rabbet and Brian, are convinced that the ruling-class media (NY Times, Washington Post, MSNBC) is hot on the trail of a major scandal. According to the mainstream media, the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to smear Hillary Clinton’s campaign and allow Trump to win.

I respectfully dissent.

Allegation: A server holding a large collection of emails by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked by the Russians, which then leaked the emails to the US media, to the great embarrassment of the DNC and Hilary’s campaign.

Rebuttal: A group of retired spooks, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) has performed forensic investigations of the metadata. The VIPS determined the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceed an internet capacity for a remote hack. Forensics also shows that the copying was performed on the East coast of the US.

I readily admit that I have no expertise in this area. But the VIPS do have such expertise. I have not seen any coverage by the MSNBC, the NYTimes, or the Washington Post that addresses the claims made by the VIPS. Instead, the Establishment aims to drown out the opposition by dint of constant repetition. The summary of the VIPS study, entitled

Was the Russian Hack an Inside Job?

can be found at

Allegation: Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to subvert the democratic election.

Rebuttal: A recent book on the 2016 election, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. In the book’s final pages, the authors describe the utter shock experienced by the top campaigners, who never dreamed that Hillary could lose the election. At the same time, the top campaigners were staggered by the unflattering revelations of the leaked DNC emails. Allen and Barnes describe how Hillary successfully changed the subject: Instead of inquiring into the content of the emails, Hillary staffers asked, WHO hacked the DNC server. The answer of the Hillary campaign? Russians hacked the emails.

See link at

Gary Leupp, history professor at Tufts University, does not agree with the official line that

“Russia had rigged the election by providing stolen DNC emails to Wikileaks, using them to discredit Hillary. (It’s rarely mentioned how, precisely, they had done that, by showing that the DNC under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had rigged the primaries against Bernie Sanders.)”

See link at

Journalist Chris Floyd scoff at the anti-Russian hysteria.

Floyd has actually looked at some of the online advertisements that the Russian government (supposedly) bought.

“What did we see? Hillary Clinton in a devil costume boxing with Jesus. A Clinton-backing Satan arm-wrestling with Jesus. Pro-gun memes. Anti-immigrant memes. Memes about military-hating Democrats. Basically, the same sort of things your cranky uncle or Foxicated cousin has been sending around on email for the past 20 years. The idea that someone could be dissuaded from voting for Hillary Clinton because of something like this is absurd.” See link at

Consider the careful work by the journalist Robert Parry, cited by Norman Solomon.

Stripping the 25-page DNI (Director of National Intelligence) report down to its essence, Parry pointed out that it “contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks.” Parry added: “The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information — built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump. But the case, as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof.”

Solomon concludes that Democrats are playing with fire.

See link at

Aaron Mate writes in the Oct 6, 2017 issue of The Nation magazine that

Russiagate is More Fiction than Fact

From accusations of Trump campaign collusion to Russian Facebook ad buys, the media has substituted hype for evidence, Mate writes.

“Since Election Day, the controversy over alleged Russian meddling and Trump campaign collusion has consumed Washington and the national media. Yet nearly one year later there is still no concrete evidence of its central allegations.”

See link at

Journalist Max Blumenthal addresses a headline in The Washington Post on Sunday Nov 5, 2017. The scare headline reads

At least nine people in Trump’s orbit had contact with Russians during campaign and transition

Wow! Pretty scary! Until Max Blumenthal puts it in perspective.

“Many of these forbidden contacts consisted of meetings with Russian diplomats.”

The Wa Po story authored by Rosalind S. Heiderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig

Blumenthal goes on to comment sarcastically “Diplomacy must cede to brinksmanship if not all out war.”

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Green Plate Challenge

Izen has turned the Green Plate Effect and his animation into a video just in time for the bunnies to show it to their uncles at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Copy this onto your smart phone for future use

and Science of Doom has issued a challenge to the back radiation deniers.

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Lysistrata Solution - Do not cite, do not quote, do not review

The latest is that Mark Jacobson has filed a lawsuit against the National Academy of Sciences, the Proceedings of same and Christopher Clack for badmouthing, mopery and no takebacks.  There are important issues at play, for example, can renewable energy get to 100% of what is needed (Jacobson) or only 80% (Clack) without nuclear, and a lot of talmudic stuff about how to interpret what was written by the various parties to justify their positions and whether the other parties interpreted what the parties of the first wrote correctly or cherry picked with malice and aforethought.

These are policy driving questions but both sides advocate strong and immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions starting twenty years ago and certainly now.

What is also clear is that Jacobson in filing this suit has pushed the norms out the Overton window in a way that could quickly lead to no good things and that many are concerned.

Eli, in his usual way has a simple solution.  Those who are troubled, indeed angered by this suit have a simple way of making their concern clear.

Publicly tell Mark Jacobson that they will no longer cite, quote or review his papers and grant proposals until the suit is withdrawn.

Beyond this it may be necessary to ask editors and program managers not to send their work to Jacobson for evaluation and review.

Oh yes, one other tell in this whole mess is the addendum to the initial order summoning the parties attached by the Chief Judge Robert Morin of the DC Court which makes the suit subject to the DC Medical Malpractice Proceedings Act

After an action is filed in the court against a healthcare provider alleging medical malpractice, the court shall require the parties to enter into mediation without discovery or, if all parties agree with only limited discovery which shall not interfere with the completion of mediation within 30 days of the Initial Scheduling and Settlement Conference (ISSC) prior to any further litigation in an effort to reach a settlement agreement.
A report has to be filed ten days after the mediation session.  Eli is holding tryouts for the mediator position.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eli Takes a Bow

While Eli is not the world's most accurate news source, allow the Bunny to take a bow.  Back in July 2016 the observant readers read

. . . . . .

These questions include why the US Congress is not mounting a full bore investigation into why the Russians are "helping" Mr. Trump out.  There is a good argument that without Russian money Trump is flat broke and two of the advisors closest to him, Paul Manafort and Carter Page, are mobbed up with Putin.  Eli uses the term mobbed up with intent.  Russia is not an autocracy, it is a kleptocracy.

Ms Rabett, who has some experience in such matters on the compliance side of the fence, points out that money laundering violations define the expensive real estate market in places like NY and SF, as brokers have accept money from peculiar sources.  It is certain that the Trump Organization has accepted the money.  What is not certain until law enforcement serves papers, is whether they did their due diligence and reporting.  Eli suspects not, and if systematically done, which Eli suspects so, that is a RICO violation.

Eli must also ask whether Wikileaks is a front for Russian intelligence. Julian Assange more or less admitted that with the usual, you can't prove it That puts a different twist on a whole bunch of things they have done in the last five years.  Or perhaps they are just stooges for the Russians, sort of like the dead end Bernie Bros.

This story is moving fast and the reaction of the Benghazi crazed Republicans in the US Congress will provide some interesting tales.  For example, Trump has conceded that his Russian "friends" were behind the hack.

Dear Lord.
. . . . . . .

Rabett Run where you read it before it happens

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Electric Buses Charging Ahead

Nice article by David Roberts on electric buses. A similar range of opinion that we see on passenger EVs - they're coming, and someday they'll take over, but medium terms predictions are all over the map.

Roberts is on the bullish end, saying electric will dominate by 2030. I agree with the fact that in the US, federal support for capital costs shifts the incentives strongly to cheap O&M for local governments, and that's where electric shines. Why should they buy non-electric?

I can give one reason - when I was on the board of a water district, I pushed for an internal EV mandate. Our O&M staff pushed back, saying our service bay already was too small and they couldn't service two types of vehicles (I think they've since added them). So inertia is a problem.

Roberts is putting a lot of his optimistic eggs in a single basket, the Proterra electric bus maker. Let's hope they and their competitors succeed in a revolution, but it's still early days.

My guess is that Roberts is likely right. Financial incentives and pollution incentives are strong. I think Roberts also underplayed the convenience factor. EV buses have more torque, so you can redesign and accelerate your routes and get your passengers to destinations faster, especially hilly routes or ones with lots of stops - but only if all the buses on the route are electric. Cities will be incentivized to switch to all-EV buses.

An early test of these predictions is whether bus manufacturers slow down on the R&D for ICE buses. We should see that in less than 10 years if EV buses really are going to be predominant-to-exclusive by 2030.

On a personal note, my wife and I are very slowly getting more used to buses. Going down to one car between us is a good incentive. The train is great, but I still tend to put my bike on the train or use GoBike rather than find a bus at the end of the train route. Despite that, there's a great bus route to San Francisco Airport that's far more convenient and cheaper than parking a car there, and another along the main drag here in San Mateo County that's also pretty good for shorter trips. Maybe faster EV buses would get us onboard more.

Here ya go Brian.  Already in service in Krakow Poland Solaris Urbino 8.9.  100 km range, 4 hour charge time - Eli

Friday, October 20, 2017

Why the Green Plate Effect Has Had an Effect

The Green Plate Effect (GPE) post is a gedanken experiment posed by your friendly bunny, which uses simplifications to think through the consequences of a proposition.  The proposition is that as several  have claimed, that the Greenhouse Effect (GHE) violates the second law of thermodynamics.

Discussion of the GPE has occupied more that a few places, including Rabett Run, Roy Spencer's bodega, and the Dragons Lair (be sure to wear protection when going there or better yet do not), but contrary to the Weasel, there does seem to have been an effect.  (BTW he has been tossed out of his condo and retreated to the original hovel)

The GPE post drove home two ideas:

1.  The GHE is not a statement about two bodies, a hot and a cold one, e.g. the surface and the atmosphere, but a statement about three bodies, a heat source, the absorber of energy from the heat source and the thermal shield, In the GPE these are the illumination source, the blue plate and the green plate. 

This idealization can be extended to the sun, surface atmosphere system at the cost of mathematical complication involving things such as geometry, viewing angles, emissivity, thermal conductivity, diurnal cycles, etc.

Were bunnies to go acaveating it might be mentioned that the blue plate would cool more quickly in the absence of the green plate when the light was turned off.  This, happens in real life.  Night time temperatures fall much more quickly in the desert than in Mississippi and yes, Betty, water vapor does absorb IR emissions from the surface and yes, something is needed to heat the surface first.

2.  Simple analysis shows that in the GPE the presence of the green plate makes the blue plate hotter.

The myriad attempts, some here, some there, involve changing the problem to something else or they break down into first or second law contradictions or they tie themselves up into algebraic knots.  Mathocists are invited to look at the comments at RR, Dr. Roys, or Postma's Pablum Palace.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The New Merry Minuet

In Eli's dotage the need to crouch under a young bunny's desk waiting for the nuclear end has returned.  While this never was much more than a hope, waking up every morning wondering whether one has indeed done so is not much fun.

Their was a song which captured this back in the day

But it needs updating, a task that Eli has taken on

They're rioting in Charlottsville
They're starving in San Juan
There's hurricanes in Florida
And Houston has floods

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
Bannon hates McConnell, Burmese hate Rohingyas
Suni hate the Shia, Brexiters hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much!!

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For Trump's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
The asshole will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away!!

They're rioting in Charlottsville
There's strife in Iraq
What nature doesn't so to us
Will be done by the Republicans

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New York Times misleads on Germany's "huge" investments in renewable energy

The NY Times ran a piece on Saturday Oct 7 by reporter Stanley Reed, headlined

Germany’s Shift to Green Power Stalls, Despite Huge Investments

The reporter is puzzled about the failure of Germany to reduce carbon dioxide emissions below the levels that obtained in 2009.

In the last decade or so, Germany has subsidized solar panels and wind turbines. The total bill since 2000 is 189 billion euros or $222 billion. At first glance, it looks like a huge investment. but to put that amount in perspective, realize that Germany has a population of 82 million. The annual per capita cost is…

(cue the sound effects as I reach for my calculator) $222 billion/(82 million X 17 years a mere $159 per person per year. Mathematically, the average German citizen pays $159 per year, or $13.25 a month or 44 cents a day. That doesn’t sound like “huge” investments.

Another calculation is to consider the German GDP which is $3.5 trillion. Divide by 82 million people to get the per capita GDP of $3.5 trillion/82 million = $43 thousand.

The annual per capita renewable subsidy as a fraction of the GDP is $159/$43,000 = 0.004, so the allegedly “huge” investments are 0.4% of the GDP.

Either way, the investments are not huge.

Reed quotes one 27-year old student who voted for the far-right “Alternative for Germany” party, who says that his family pays an additional 800 Euros ($936) every year for subsidies for the energy policy. (This number is in agreement with the calculation above if the student’s family has 6 members because 936/159 = 5.9). We don’t know the size of the student’s family, or whether or not that individual is typical.

In addition, not everybody pays taxes at the same rate. Germany has a lot of wealthy people with a strong aversion to paying taxes, who often succeed in shoving off the tax burden onto everybody else. Back in the USA, the hotel billionaire Leona Helmsley famously proclaimed that “only little people pay taxes” and she was accurate. Warren Buffett has remarked that his secretary pays taxes at a higher rate than he does.
To return to the NYT article….

It’s no great mystery why the carbon dioxide emissions have not decreased, Reed has answered the question in his article. Germany’s energy plan is not to phase out coal, but to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Nuclear power plants have very low carbon dioxide emissions, so closing nuclear power plants has meant that Germany has become “more reliant on its sizable fleet of coal-fired power stations, which account for the bulk of emissions from electricity generation.” (as Reed states)
In short, the decision to phase out nuclear power by itself would have caused carbon dioxide emissions to increase. Germany’s investments in wind turbines and solar panels have prevented the total carbon dioxide emissions from rising, but they have not been enough to cause emissions to decrease.

While the costs of the subsidies to wind power and solar panels do not seem “huge”, they may have run up against up a limit of political tolerance, given the lopsided distribution of income in Germany and the opposition of wealthy Germans to paying their fair share of taxes.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Killer Rabett of Caerbannog Has a Chew on Steve (Tony Heller) Goddard

Eli's friend, the Killer Rabett of Caerbannog noticed Eli's comment on Steve Tony Goddard's sense of misdirection, and had a few words on the Twitter.  There were more that a few clues to Steve Tony's methods and materials which, both of us agree, are worthy of gathering in one place for future use with a few expansions of Twitterisms and such.  Rabett of caerbannog T-shirts available at Shirtoid

In response to the usual cherry, pick with a topping of political agenda, Caerbannog. . . well let Eli go to the Twitter

Here, says Caerbannog pointing to Eli, is proof that Goddard aka Heller is a tinfoil-hat-wearing nutter

What else can be said about someone who works a construction project into a grand global conspiracy to manipulate temperatures? He's *nuts*.

As for the content of the message? I've addressed data adjustment issues many times here, but you fail to understand.

  • I have shown many times that adjustments are required to correct for the effects of station moves (i.e. 100s from city centers to airports). 
  • I have pointed you to information about data adjustmnts, including links to NOAA's adjustment package that includes all code
  • *and* full instructions on how to build/run it. The NOAA package includes a complete test-suite to make it easier for others to verify....
Bottom line -- when I post substance, you completely ignore it and blow it off.

Recap for others here: Heller focuses on USHCN instead of GHCN because USHCN covers only about 1.5% of the Earth's surface area. As a result, short term temp swings (aka "noise") are  highly correlated over temp stations. When averaged together, this results in less "noise cancellation".

That means a lower "warming" SNR. The US-only temperature trend is just emerging. A small local trend means adjustments can change slight cooling to slight warming. Also, there is more likely to be a temperature bias for localized regions, where many temperature stations may have had similar changes in equipment and procedures.

It turns out that for USHCN as well as GHCN, many stations were moved from city centers to airports. Many airport stations have data from before 1900.

When you see airport stations with data going back before there were airplanes, what does that tell you about those stations? Think hard.

Also warming has not been uniform over the continental USA. The West has warmed more than the South. That means area weighting is important.

Overall station density a bit less in the West than in other regions. So without area-weighting, the area with the most warming is underrepresented.

The problem can be worsened if you select a subset of stations. You must ensure reasonably uniform geographic weighting in your averaging. This is especially true if the warming is fairly weak relative to the year-to-year variation. This will often be true for small regions.

USHCN, because it covers only 1.5% of Earth area with annual temp variations large relative to warming, gives Heller opportunities to mislead. If Heller were to look at GHCN, where coverage is global and the warming trend is much larger than global year-to-year variations he wouldn't have any "wiggle room" to spin results and make accusations. The global temperature trend is huge relative to the noise and huge relative to adjustments.

That's why Heller won't touch GHCN. The warming signal to noise ratio for the entire Earth is much stronger than the warming signal to noise ratio for just the USA.

There's no way that Heller could "cherry pick" the GHCN warming trend away. The warming signal too strong. So Heller will never touch GHCN.

So Heller will never touch GHCN. That is, Heller will *never* show adjusted vs. unadjusted *global* temp averages from GHCN data. The results would destroy his message.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Green Plate Effect

An evergreen of denial is that a colder object can never make a warmer object hotter.  That's the Second Law of Thermodynamics, so according to the Agendaists, the Greenhouse Effect, with greenhouse gases playing the role of the colder object, is rubbish.  They neglect the fact that heating and cooling are dynamic processes and thermodynamics is not.

Eli, of course, is a dynamic bunny and knows how to add and subtract. Divide is also possible.  What is happening is that one does not have just a hot body and a cold body, but a really hot body, the sun, constantly heating a colder (much), but still warm body the Earth, which then radiates the same amount of energy to space.

In elevator speak, Tyndall put it

[T]he atmosphere admits of the entrance of the solar heat, but checks its exit; and the result is a tendency to accumulate heat at the surface of the planet.
Eli had a different but not as elegant elevator tweet

Today on twitter, Eli stepped through the simple math and he thought it would be a good thing to put the thread on this blog for future reference.  We start with a simple case, imagine the Earth is just a plate in space with sunlight shining on it.   Maybe 400 W/m^2

The sun warms the plate, but as the plate warms it radiates until the radiated heat matches the heat being absorbed from the sun

Using the Stefan Boltzman Law you can calculate the temperature of the plate when it reaches equilibrium (400 W/m2) = 2 σ Teq4   where  σ is the Stefan Boltzmann constant 5.67 x 10-8 W/(m2 K4), factor of 2 for a two sided plate per m2. Run the numbers Teq=244 K.

Now lets add another plate. We'll color this plate green for greenhouse. It is heated by the first at a rate of 200 W/m2

But after a while, it too has to heat up and reach an equilibrium temperature. . . so as a first guess something like

That's wrong though because there are 400 W/m^2 going into the two plate system and 300 coming out.  At equilibrium an equal amount of energy has to be going in as coming out  So what happens??

The entire system has to heat up to reach the equilibrium condition.  T1 and T2 are the equilibrium temps of the plates.

Looking at the two plate system, the energy going in is 400  W/m2 and the energy going out is  σT14 +  σT24    Since these will be equal at equilibrium

400  W/m2  = σ T14 +  σ T24 

And there also has to be an equilibrium for the energy going in and out of the green plate

σ T14 =  2 σ T24

The bunnies can rearrange the second equation to get

σ T24 =  1/2 σ T14

and substitute for σ T2 back into the first equation 

400  W/m2  = σ T14 +  1/2 σ T14
400  W/m2  = 3/2 σ T14 

Solving for T1 the answer is T1 = 262 K.

Without the greenhouse plate it was 244 K.  

Introduction of the second plate raised the equilibrium temperature of the first by 18 K. 

The Green Plate Effect

Show this to the next fool with an agenda who thinks that the Green Plate Effect violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Steve Goddard Needs to Visit Suburban Washington

The unwary amongst the bunnies might, given provocation, search Beltsville Laurel USHCN.  Were a bunny so foolish the bunny would quickly run into some spit flecked harumphing from Steve Goddard, aka Tony Heller, or visa versa.  Unlike Eli Steve Tony can't keep his selfs strait, but no, never mind.  The title of the piece is Extreme UHI fraud at NOAA and, like most of Willard Tony's dastardly discoveries, the answer is nu?. (By the way, Surface Stations could use a spring cleaning).

Eli became aware of this via some of the usual agendaists** who pointed to it as evidence of perfidy but since the Rabett lives only a few miles away from the locale of extreme UHI fraud, he though he would actually take a bit of a closer look

Steve Tony's claim has two parts.  First that NOAA closed a perfectly good long running station in Laurel Maryland.  Laurel is roughly half way between Baltimore and DC, about 20 miles from each. As an older suburban area, it is pretty well developed.

NOAA has 16 USHCN stations in Maryland, but they have stopped collecting data from all but four of them. One of the disappearing stations is at Laurel, which has been collecting since 1895 – but no data reported since August 2015. 
The really interesting thing about this is that down in the comments, Mark Albright pointed out that
The Laurel USHCN station was closed in August 2015. According to the Historical Observing Metadata Repository (HOMR) the reason for closing Laurel 3 W was due to construction at the site:

However, no agendaist** took notice of this.  The construction was a large shopping center to the north and work in the highway interchange surrounding the site.  Blowing the picture up shows a bunch of serious power lines going through the top end and pictures from Google Maps in 2012 show serious earth movers pushing stuff around in the interchange

The USHCN station was over to the left (west) side of the D interchange.

So what about Greenbelt.  Well what does Steve Tony have to say about that
Beltsville (at I-95 and The Beltway) is five miles closer to Washington DC and shows two degrees warming during that period as the city has expanded. Beltsville is one of the four stations still reporting.
and he shows a map

with a red dot right on I-95 where Beltsville is.  However, as anybunny who lives in the DC area knows, that is not I-95, but US 1.  And, again, as DC folk know, Beltsville is where the USDA has its experimental farms.  The Beltsville station has moved about.  There have been nine locations on the various farms, starting to the east of US 1 in 1931 and now sitting to the west (nearer to 95, but not nearly as close as the Laurel site was right in an interchange.

The dot shows the current location.  The metadata shows that the station has always been located on farmland.

So much for Steve Tony.

 ** New Rabett Run name for those who deny global warming to advance a political agenda.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Noted for the Record

By way of Marc Morano

On a more serious note the discussion about sea level rise making it necessary to abandon Pacific Islands may have been less pressing than one about continued settlement on islands exposed to tropical cyclones.  Barbuda has been abandoned at least temporarily.  Other islands in the Leewards are, well not so well off, and the US and British Virgin Islands have been hit as hard as Puerto Rico. At what point does it become necessary to abandon smaller Caribbean islands like Barbuda, at what time to abandon Puerto Rico?

Would another hurricane season such as this in the next 10 years make rebuilding impossible.  What level of rebuilding would be necessary to shelter the island population from continued tropical cyclone threats.

PBS has a list of places to donate to for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  Eli would be happy to post other suggestions for other island hit by the storms

Another tidbit