Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

Contact: PPFA Media Office, 212-261-xxxx

Thinking About Having Sex with a Vampire This Halloween?

Planned Parenthood Is Here to Help

Let’s face it: vampires can rack up a lot of sexual partners over the years. Your vampire might be the same age as you, or she or he might be thousands of years old. But no matter how old you are, if you’re going to jump into bed with a vampire, you’re going to need more than a clove of garlic to protect your health.

Here are some things to think about before you enter into a sexual relationship with a vampire:

Vampires might be immortal, but you’re not. It’s important for both vampires and humans to get tested for STDs. Use this tool to find out if you should get tested for STDs.

Ladies, just because a vampire says he can’t get you pregnant*, it doesn’t mean he can’t give you an STD. And guys, just because a vampire says she’s on the pill, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get an STD. Use a condom correctly every time.

Don’t wait until you’re in the heat of the moment to bring up safer sex. Vampires have been known to “glamour” people to get their way, so play it safe and make it clear that you won’t have sex without protection right from the start.

Remember, a vampire who doesn’t care about protecting your health is not the kind of vampire that you want to get involved with. Not sure if you’re dating the right vampire? We can help you figure it out.

* Let’s not forget, Edward got Bella pregnant in the Twilight series, going against hundreds of years of vampire lore. So even if your vampire tells you he can’t get you pregnant, why risk it? Condoms are not only a great way to prevent STDs, they’re effective at preventing pregnancy. Even better, use a condom along with another birth control method.
Ms. Rabett says always use protection. The bunnies are. . .

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What's Going On Here?

Now Eli, to be sure, really doesn't know what is going on between Richard Muller and Judy Curry, but this he does know, Judy is listed as an author on all of the five Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature papers, and the papers have been submitted for review (given some of the comments at places like Tamino and Real Climate, they are going to be improved before published). La Curry is not exactly casting aspersions on the papers, but in Pielkespeak she is not not casting aspersions. Clearly she disagrees with some of El Muller's conclusions. Big showdown in Santa Fe this week.

But the Rabett has a question. Journals (Nature for example) have a policy about authors disagreeing

The Nature journals do not require all authors of a research paper to sign the letter of submission, nor do they impose an order on the list of authors. Submission to a Nature journal is taken by the journal to mean that all the listed authors have agreed all of the contents. The corresponding (submitting) author is responsible for having ensured that this agreement has been reached, and for managing all communication between the journal and all co-authors, before and after publication. Any changes to the author list after submission, such as a change in the order of the authors, or the deletion or addition of authors, needs to be approved by a letter signed by every author. (The letter should be scanned and uploaded to the journal's online tracking system by the corresponding author, or sent in one combined email.)
So does she agree to all of the contents of all of the papers? The nice part of this is lots of someones are going to go cliff jumping no matter what. Judy has a choice of whether to do a Little Nell, and throw herself off the cliff, or invite Richard to go jump. Let's see if the bunnies can raise some M&Ms over at the Curry Shack. Rev up the indignation.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Denial in Depth

Paul Krugman nails it in discussing US Republican tactics

Think about climate change. You have various right-wingers simultaneously (a) denying that global warming is happening (b) denying that anyone denies that global warming is happening, but denying that humans are responsible (c) denying that anyone denies that humans are causing global warming, insisting that the real argument is about the appropriate response.

I’m not sure there are three levels (yet) on inequality, but we definitely have (a) right-wingers denying that inequality is rising and (b) denying that anyone is denying the rise in inequality, but attacking any proposal to limit that rise.

You might ask, how is it possible to take such mutually contradictory positions? And the answer is, it’s very easy if confusing the debate is your job.

Remind the bunnies of anyone??

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Law of Climate Change Denial

Ethon has noticed some interesting stuff going on in Boulder, a formerly anonymous blogger, who turns out to be a University of Colorado law professor has outed the law school scam.

Law school is, in terms of educational credentials, the last stop for many people in a social game that they have been brought up to play ever since, 20 years ago, their yuppie overachiever parents agonized over how to get them into the "right" preschool. That game is very expensive, in terms of what it requires in both economic and cultural capital. . .
This blog has focused for the most part on what law schools do badly. This post has been about what they do supremely well, which is to replicate and reinforce class privilege, under the rubric of rewarding native intellectual ability and the capacity for hard work. And of course the skyrocketing cost of legal education has played a crucial role in intensifying these effects. When I started teaching at a good state law school in the early 1990s, tuition was $5000 per year in 2011 dollars. Now it's more than $30,000. Many of my best students from my early years of teaching -- people from relatively modest social backgrounds -- would never have gone to law school if it had cost what it costs now. What law school costs now ensures that a much higher percentage of students than ever before will either be children of the affluent, or people who have neither the necessary economic nor cultural capital available to them to figure out that borrowing $200,000 in non-dischargeable loans to go to law school is almost always a terrible idea. That too is a form of social sorting -- and we are beginning to see the consequences of it on a grand scale.
On his group blog yesterday Paul Campos investigated the ubiquity of denial, analogizing climate change denial to denial that law schools are pricing themselves out of existence.
First, you have your flat-out Deniers. These are people who simply deny there’s any crisis. . . . .The law school analogy is the professor (there is, I am reliably informed by one of his colleagues, at least one such law professor, who interestingly is middle-aged and doesn’t seem to be suffering from senile dementia) who denies that the cost of law school has risen relative to inflation.
The warmers are deniers of the second order
they’ll acknowledge the earth is warming, but they’ll claim this is a natural cyclical process, rather than a product of human activity. The law school analogy are faculty and administrators who acknowledge costs have gone up and the employment situation is bad at the moment, but who treat all this as a natural, cyclical, and most of all temporary situation,
The second category are
your Fatalists. The Fatalists acknowledge there’s a crisis, admit it’s to a significant extent human-caused and likely to get a lot worse, but argue that at this point there’s little or nothing we can do about it. . . . . .

The law school analogy are people who admit the employment situation is terrible, that it’s going to get worse, and that it’s been made worse by the collective behavior of law schools, but who argue that there’s not that much law schools can do to improve it
The third are the
Inconvenient Truthers. The ITs take the same basic view as the Fatalists, with the crucial difference that they believe that, with a combination of enough consciousness-raising and concerted political action, the collective action problems can be overcome, and many of the worst effects of human-caused climate change can be headed off, or at least ameliorated at an acceptable cost. The law school analogy consists of the people inside the system who believe that radical reform is both necessary and possible.
The fourth group consists of the Sleepers — the people who just aren’t paying much attention to this issue one way or another.
Occupy Wall Street. Wait, they have.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

China follows up India in committing to being better than US on per-capita emissions

As has been covered in a few places, China has committed not to "follow the path of the US" with its current level of per capita emissions. (I agree with Joe Romm, btw, that they're not otherwise likely to hit the US level by 2017. They were at one-third the US level three years ago, and it can't go up that fast.)

India made an even better commitment three years ago, not to exceed the average developed country's per capita emissions (significantly lower than US per capita). These two commitments significantly exceed anything developed countries have done, especially because of the legacy emissions from developed countries over past generations vastly dwarf that of developing nations.

The third line of defense for denialists and delayers is that India and China are the problem because their total emissions are increasing. They have yet to provide a convincing reason why Western nations deserve permanently higher per capita emission levels.

Sing Along with RayP

Ray Pierrehumbert has been teaching a course on the Climate Dynamics of the Earth and other Planets based on his textbook, the Principles of Planetary Climate. For those of you interested (pay attention you in the back), the course lectures are available via webcast with whiteboard, at the course site. To do the exercises the bunnies and the Rabetts will have to learn and install Python (guide here with courseware). So your (and Eli's) assignment is to get the book, install Python, and come up to speed.

Let's try to do this one lecture per week. RayP stops by RR on occasion, so Eli is sure he will help with any questions and there are any number of Python capable bunnies. Remember the only mark in this course is a W.

UPDATE: Good advice and discussion on installing the software below

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, and I have one-seventh of the vote over several hundred million dollars

My light-speed brain took over a month to put the two issues in the blog headline together. Santa Clara Valley Water District has several hundred million dollars in financial reserves. I wonder if there's anything financially responsible that the Water District can do with the voters' financial reserves, in light of the abuse of the financial system by Wall Street titans.

Just thinking, no answers yet....

UPDATE: I figured the bunnies would have some ideas.

UPDATE 2: KQED's California Report shows other people thinking about the same thing.

Polar Bear Undeath

Department of Interior Special Agent (Eli observes that special in this case is in the same sense as Special Education) Eric "Orange" May takes an additional dose of stupid pills as reported by PEER. In a second interview of Jeffrey Gleason about the dead polar bears floating paper, PEER reports the following new information about May's inquisition

• Stated that other observers claimed seeing two more polar bear carcasses in open water in early September 2004, just days before Drs. Monnett and Gleason made their sightings – but these two sightings were not recorded or otherwise reported.
Not noted dead polar bear sightings are scientific misconduct now?? and here Eli thought that reporting dead polar bears was scientific misconduct. May is trying to reinforce the conclusions of the original paper??
• Queried consistency of reporting for polar bears in the Bowhead Whale Aerial Program survey computerized database in prior decades. The main question was whether “death” was properly coded as a “behavior.”
See photo above
• Spent nearly a quarter of the two-hour Gleason interview discussing a misplaced routing slip on an internal agency poster regarding sea ice retreat that was ultimately approved by the agency. IG Agent Eric May, who claimed to have found the one-third page routing slip “in the trash” asked Dr. Gleason to take a polygraph test on whether he was trying to hide it.
We are paying for this farce?

UPDATE: Even better, the Independent has a neat little follow up
This week Mr Gleason was interviewed intensively by investigators and asked if he would take a polygraph (lie detector) test; he responded that he would only take such a test if the agent interviewing him took one as well.
It's excellent farce

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Say some good about the dead

John McCarthy of LISP fame died Sunday. Those of us who disputed (in the best sense of the word) with him on sci.environment will pause and doff our caps.

John, of course, is famous for writing LISP, but on USENET he was one of the original cornucopians, predicting that there was enough of everything because zero cost energy would be available.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

BEST outburst: another blow to global warming rejectionism

A former skeptic now agrees with the scientific consensus.
Richard Muller, UC Berkeley, has chaired a "BEST" (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) study, which examined the temperature records from around the world. BEST received its largest contribution (of $150K) from the Koch brothers. Muller said that he and his colleagues, including Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter, had suspected that the previous work had been tainted by the Urban Heat Island effect.

Its too bad Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter didn't ask me. If they had, I would have referred them to David Archer's excellent 2009 book, The Long Thaw. Archer is a professor of geophysical sciences (specializing in oceanography) at the University of Chicago. On page 32, Archer gives the scoop: if you throw out urban data, by picking them out by hand, you get the average temperature of the non-urban Earth. Studies show that is makes little difference to the global average whether urban areas are excluded or not. And the studies have been replicated. The urban heat island effect "turns out to be a non-issue", Archer concludes.

I suppose that it's ultimately a useful exercise: have a bunch of smart people, with no firm commitment either way, study the global warming issue. And they conclude that global warming is real. Duh.

[joke] In other late-breaking developments, the BEST group now concludes that evolution is a real effect. Even though some of the faithful think it contradicts Scripture. [/joke]

The Koch brothers were no doubt hoping that their contribution would foster the idea that scientists are deeply divided about whether global warming was happening or not. Now this has blown up in their faces.

Will Muller ask for more funding from the Koch brothers? And will the Koch brothers continue to support the BEST project? It certainly wouldn't be good PR for Koch to cut them off completely. So maybe a funding cutoff, but not right now. Stay tuned...

California creates second-largest cap and trade market, to start next year

Still looking around for the best writeup, but this seems pretty good:

The California Air Resources Board yesterday [Oct. 21] gave its final approval to the state’s cap-and-trade system, which sets limits on carbon emissions starting next year.

CARB unanimously approved details of the regulations over the objections of industry groups, the San Francisco Chroniclereported, with the board’s major actions focusing on the allocation of carbon allowances.

Under the plan approved yesterday, the state will limit carbon emissions from its 350 or so biggest emitters starting in 2012, with enforcement starting in 2013. The carbon cap will drop every year until 2020. Over this time, CARB expects the program to prevent 273 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

The regulations will cover electric utilities and large industrial plants first, later expanding to cover fuel distributors. Each company covered by the program will need to hold allowances for carbon that they emit over the cap, and companies will be able to trade these allowances in the marketplace. This will create the world’s second-largest carbon market behind that of the EU, with about $10 billion in allowances traded by 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Initially 90 percent of allowances will be free, with companies needing to buy the other 10 percent. From there some industries will see the percentage of free allowances drop to about 30 percent. Emitters will also be able to meet up to eight percent of their required emissions reductions through carbon offsets.

In a letter to the board, industry groups and the California Chamber of Commerce called the 10 percent purchase requirement an “unjustified, job-killing tax,” and they said California would lose business to other states and countries. Water agencies are also covered by the regulation, and they told the board that the program would increase water rates.


Environmental justice groups had argued that cap-and-trade would increase pollution in low-income neighborhoods near high-emitting facilities, because polluters could simply buy the right to increase pollution.

The board yesterday responded to these concerns by approving an adaptive management plan, which would monitor the air quality of neighborhoods near regulated facilities, the APreported. If pollution does increase, the CARB said it would respond.

Last week Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced it is entering the nascent California carbon trading market with an agreed option to buy several million tons of offsets from TerraPass, through 2020.

Just to add a few comments: limits in 2012 with no enforcement until 2013 sounds to me like the program really starts in 2013. OTOH, the market is already getting moving (see the last sentence from the article), so that's good.

I believe the free allowances are grandfathered from past emissions. That would also be anti-competitive, because new entrants would have to buy allowances. No wonder the Chamber wants them to be all free.

The part about water agencies complaining is news to me. Guess I should look that up.

The enviro justice groups' lawsuit is a huge mistake. This response is cutting it close to the law though - I hope it works out.

Together with Australia's carbon tax and the European Union's cap system finally getting beyond its intentionally-easy stage, we're seeing some incremental progress. We need far far more than incremental progress, but we shouldn't forget that it's happening, either.

Good writeup of the original California program here, by an offset critic who thinks California's system isn't too bad. I believe the finalized program is only marginally different.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Roger Sr. Takes a Bath

Speaking of Pielkesport, Roger Sr. is into it with Bart and Gavin at Our Changing Climate and Real Climate, not to say nothing about what is going on at Skeptical Science. FWIW, it's the old the Argo floats are the God experiment, all we need to do is look at heat transfer in the top 700 m story, but all this has caused the Bunny to think, a very dangerous thing. (Reader Rabett can go to Real Climate, or Skeptical Science to catch up and Bart has an excellent summary)

Everyone agrees that the great majority of the heat transfer from the surface to the deep ocean occurs in the small areas where there is down-welling because of overturning circulations, e.g. in the North Atlantic Deep Water east of Greenland and around Antarctica, driving by mixing of fresher water from melting ice with saltier water from the warmer direction.

If the heat transfer is concentrated in space in those areas where there is down-welling of the overturning circulations, then for the question of where the energy is going, 99% of the Argo floats are irrelevant, the energy is moving into the deep ocean only where the down-welling occurs.

The net effect could be that the 0-700 m layer warms from below, but not much because the relative size of the 0-700 layer is small compared to the deep ocean, but maybe enough to compensate for warming on the surface driven by climate change.

In this model the deep ocean equilibrates with the atmosphere before the 0-700 m level. In net, since both the top and the bottom are warming at (for the sake of argument) at the same rate there is no heat transport across the 0-700 m level. Looking for heat transport vertically in the 0-700m level is a Pielke errand. In fact, it would not be surprising if there were a little bit of heat transfer upwards as the heat sucked down at the poles spreads out below and warms the thermocline.

It's a bathtub with two drains, a jacuzzi as it were. Heat injected on the surface moves laterally to the drains where it is sucked down. There is no substantial movement of heat vertically except at for the down-welling drains.

Is this an original Rabett Run theory. Almost certainly not. It is too obvious.

My weeklong life as a Washington water lobbyist

I'm not sure how interested the bunnies are in my spectacularly exotic work at a local water district, but I guess I'll find out. I spent this week as one of two elected directors visiting Washington DC to talk about our local flood control and water supply projects, and to try and scare up some money for more. Some notes:

  • I can confirm the obvious statement that the budget process is broken. I respect the antipathy to earmarks and am open to replacing them with another process, but what we have instead is virtually no process to provide local input into federal decision-making about local projects. We had multiple meetings with Congressional offices where they often said they could do little to help, and just one with the Office of Management and Budget, which now has all the power.
  • There is real interest in the Obama Administration in the environment. We talked about environmental benefits to one relatively high-level official in the Department of Agriculture who'd been hired from an environmental organization. She raised Obama's Great Outdoors initiative that tries to reconnect Americans to our natural environment, including urban areas. So I pointed to a map that we brought. Here in south San Jose, wild elk will sometimes roam within city limits. In north San Jose where San Francisco Bay ends, leopard sharks swim. Connecting them is Coyote Creek, a major intact riparian system running through central San Jose with migrating, endangered steelhead, a bike/pedestrian pathway, great views of hawk nests. Our flood control project is a major tributary where we want to rip out concrete, replace it with vegetated-earth banks, and add riparian habitat next to an elementary school. She liked it.
  • We can at least take some actions to adapt to climate change. We're trying to restore 15,000 acres of abandoned salt-making ponds to tidal wetlands, but the pond levees form part of the antiquated levee system protecting urban land in the South Bay. We want to rebuild and strengthen the landward side of the multi-ring levee system, and only then can we breach the bayside of the salt pond levees and restore them to tidal flow and vegetation. This was our one meeting with OMB, and there I emphasized that we're sizing the levees to accommodate 50 years of sea level rise (based on Cal. Academy of Sciences 2006 report, using the high end of three scenarios), and sized so they can be built up higher if needed. The OMB people seemed interested, so we'll see.

I sure wish I knew politically-viable ways to make GHG emissions pay for our climate adaptation projects, either on a local, state, or national level, but it's not jumping out at me (don't forget that "politically-viable" requirement). Our riverine flood protection projects also have to be sized for sea level rise because they empty into the Bay, so the costs add up.

My one other observation is that a lot of people we met with sure are young. Our nation is in the hands of twenty-somethings, presumably because we can get away with paying them nothing and working them constantly. Let's hope it works out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Andy Lacis Meets the Train Wreck

Rattus points to a post by Andy Lacis at Curry's Train Wreck Shed, which has tied the usual suspects up in fluff and spawned 650 sputters and a second thread. The post itself is both sharp and informative reprise of Lacis, Schmidt, Rind and Ruedy's year old Science article on the greenhouse effect and climate change. Eli recommends reading both. Look for La Curry to try and bury this one. While the bunnies are about it, stirring up the natives might be enjoyable. They are rather off balance.

Lacis, is particularly fond of Bishop Hill's attempt to paint him as an IPCC critic of the good clergy's church, whereas Andy

. . .was irked by the persistent use of wishy-washy terminology such as ‘likely’ and ‘very likely’ that was totally uncalled for. One example: “It is likely that there has been a substantial anthropogenic contribution to surface temperature increases in every continent except Antarctica since the middle of the 20th century.

Such ‘social sciences’ terminology might be allowable if there was no other available evidence for global warming except for the statistical analysis of a relatively short global temperature time-series (on which there is superimposed a substantial natural variability component). But the physical evidence for global warming is quite overwhelming, and it is downright irresponsible (and stupid) not to make use of it.

More specifically: (1) precise measurements show atmospheric CO2 has increased from its 280 ppm pre-industrial value to the current ~390 ppm; (2) there is available an accurate HITRAN tabulation of line absorption coefficients for all of the atmospheric absorbing gases; (3) we have available accurate radiation modeling techniques as well as capable global climate models; and (4) that 9 Gigatons of carbon (coal, gas, oil) are being burned each year (by us humans).

Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and thus causing global warming to happen – all directly attributable to human industrial activity. To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change. Rather, using such under-whelming weasel words only adds to the deliberate public confusion regarding climate change. Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions.

Perhaps the only thing that Eli would emphasize more, is that given our continuing perturbation of the atmosphere, oceans and land, natural variation will be insignificant in the not too far away future.

And for those of you in Pielkesport, sKs has something

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The most perceptive pro-Palin comment ever written

In lieu of demonstrating new and independent thought, I've decided to occasionally re-post some stuff from my old blog. As we finally say farewell to Sarah Palin's overextended fifteen minutes, here's one:

Supporters of Palin say they're not using "rational theorizing"

Interesting comment in a post by a pro-Palin conservative:

I think Sarah Palin is indeed a Rorschach test for’s about what Conservativsm MEANS....

The core idea behind Conservatism is that most of human learning is done not by rational theorizing, but by pattern recognition....

This pattern recognition is called common sense, and over generations, it’s called traditions, conventions etc. Religion is usually a carrier meme for these evolved patterns. It’s sort of an evolutionary process, like a genetic algorithm....

Liberals, Lefties and even many Libertarians want to use only 10% of the human knowledge that’s rational.....

Conservatives are practical people who instinctively recognize the importance of evolved patterns in human learning: because our rational knowledge simply isn’t enough yet, these common sense patterns are our second best option to use. And to use these patterns effectively you don’t particularly have to be very smart i.e. very rational. You have to be _wise_ and you have to have a good character: you have to set hubris and pride aside and be able to accept traditions you don’t fully understand....

Anti-Palin Conservatives don’t understand it. They think Conservativism is about having different theories than the Left, they don’t understand that it’s that theories and rational knowledge isn’t so important.

What's especially interesting is the enthusiastic response following this idea of "going with your gut and calling it wisdom". I think the truth is a lot of what all of us consider reasoned analysis that reaches a conclusion is actually a gut response that's going through the motions, but to not even bother to fight for logic and knowledge is pretty striking.

B'rer Harper

From the comments and the far north, a letter from Katherine Cukier, who has, in her life had four parking tickets and an arrest for pointing out the obvious. More at the link and thanks to J Bowers for perking up Eli's ears. Oh yes, the image is for the weasel who thinks that things like mountain top removal leave the rest of the land peachy clean and anyhow if it screws up things for any of the bunnies, we can always sue. Here is a hint. These sort of things are owned by incorporated entities that are owned by conglomerates. When you sue and win the entities go bankrupt (they never really hold any money, but just pass it through) leaving the rest of us holding the bag.

Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

I am writing to you because I want to thank you for clarifying some things for me. According to you, I am an extremist. I think it would be amusing and even useful for you to understand the heart and mind of an extremist like me. Indeed, I suspect the country you have been entrusted to govern is full of them... I mean us.

I was arrested last week for participating in a civil disobedience action in Ottawa. We were protesting your government's indifference to the dangers of climate change. This indifference is communicated clearly by your determination to expand the use of bitumen, the tar sands, a high emission, unconventional, fossil fuel.

To begin the clarification of my new identity, I guess I would say that I am an extremist first and foremost because I am a mother. My children are the centre of my world -- I suspect it is the one thing you and I have in common, other than our need for clean water, air and soil. You, too, know intimately that powerful parental love; it feels like an ache and a blessing at the same time. Like all maternal mammals, any threat to the habitat rouses my protective instincts.

And because I am a human being, I use my brain to understand those threats. Not only do I worry about my children and their future being impacted by global warming; I am forced to consider how my children's children will be affected by runaway climate change driven by our unabated and expanding use of fossil fuels. In 50 years, unlike you and me, our children, or at least our grandchildren, will feel powerless to do anything to protect their kids from the instability and economic consequences of a fragile if not collapsing environment.

I am an extremist, Mr. Prime Minister, because I have paid close attention to the science of climate change. The graphs prepared by climatologists fill me with far more emotion than those prepared for you by Syncrude. I suspect your reason is impaired in its capacity for sound judgment when you see graphs showing ever-increasing profit margins and GDP increases to be squeezed out of the Tar Sands. But because I am an extremist, unlike you, I have looked to those ideologically suspect fields of physics, geography and biology to further my understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of climate change.

Much more at the link....

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Media finally listening to what Brian Schmidt has to say about climate change


Astrophysicist Brian Schmidt, 44, named in Sweden as one of three winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics, used his first day in the spotlight to appeal to "policy people" to listen to scientists on climate change.


"The science is science. Policy is policy. And I would really like the scientists to continue to debate what's right and what's wrong about everything, accelerating universe, climate," he told reporters in Canberra.

"And I'd really like the policy people to debate how to deal with what is coming in from the scientists, rather than an ill-formed scientific debate.

I even like astronomy. This guy is my overachieving alter-ego. He could at least have the common decency of getting old before receiving the Nobel Prize, but no.

New Planet on the Block

Some of the usual suspects have opened a new pop stand, Planet 3.0 soon to be added to the blogroll.

There is a bit of a twist here, any new venture is going to have growing pains, so for now it is an invite to write site, but the folks involved are high class, or at least reasonable, (unlike Eli, who is know for being a bit obstreperous), in no particular alphabetical order, Steve Easterbrook, Dan Moutal, Arthur Smith, Michael Tobis, and Bart Verheggen, so take a look and you can post your comments here. Eli may even mirror a few so that others can put in their two cents.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

From the Ground Up

While there is much meta going on and on and on and on, even at Rabett Run, Eli came across some interesting science in Science. As previously discussed here, the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere has remained constant, a bit of a shock as with the increasing injection of methane and various dirties (as in Asian brown cloud), somebunny might think that it would have fallen, as indeed the authors of the previously discussed paper did

However, a consistent, predictive understanding of the net response of [OH] on broad scales to such perturbations is lacking. For example, a range of negative [OH] feedbacks is calculated from changes in atmospheric methane abundance (3, 57).
Which is why a new paper by Su and a list of co authors long enough for CERN, Uli Poeschl being the last but not least, is so interesting. The experiment was simple enough, they put some dirt into a tube and blew air through it, analyzing what came out. they found that nitrite (NO2-) converts to nitrous acid, HNO2, in the soil which desorbs into the atmosphere as HONO (yes atmospheric science folk pronounce it that way).

At this point Eli has to commit some chemistry. The first point, which is NOT taught in General Chemistry, or at least most GChem courses, is that molecules that you can buy are not reactive.

They are stable. In the case of organic or molecules consisting of non-metals, each atom is surrounded by a shared outer shell of eight electrons which makes them think they are noble gases, much as Chris Monckton thinks he is a Nobel prize winner, and they don't want to know different or associate with non-peers.

However there are some molecules with an odd number of electrons in the outer shell (so they can't have eight) called free radicals, and free radicals are very reactive because that odd electron is looking for a partner. In the atmosphere HO is the most important free radical and the one responsible for cleaning out all the hydrocarbons such as methane (chemistry at link).

the question being where the HO comes from.

The generic answer is in water aerosols where nitrogen dioxide has dissolved
H2O(aq) + 2 NO2(aq)= HNO3(aq) + HONO (g)
HONO is THE source of HO in the atmosphere, because it is the only one which can absorb above the ozone cut off at 306 nm which blocks deep UV from reaching the troposphere

and the HONO absorbs a photon and falls apart into HO + NO but there is not enough of this process to explain the concentration of HO in the atmosphere, without significant ear waving. Su et al have added the red arrow below the line processes.

H+(aq) + NO2-(aq) = HNO2(aq) = HONO (g)

This appears to be catalyzed at low pH (acid conditions) and we know that agriculture is increasingly acidifying and fertilizing soils which is degrading water quality and increasing eutrophication. It may also have maintained the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere, leaving us lagomorphs with the choice of dirty air or dirty water

Spencer Weart and Never at War

1. Spencer Weart.

I've been interested for quite a while in the theory that democracies don't fight wars with other democracies, but only recently learned that Spencer Weart, the historian-god of climate change science, also wrote a book in 1998 called Never at War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another. (I'm shamefully cribbing off of wiki rather than his book, but I'll get around to the real thing sometime I swear).

Weart makes the maximalist argument, that any country sufficiently democratic to have let at least 2/3 of male adults to vote and control the government for at least three years will not go to war with a similar democracy. He includes many classic Greek city-states in this category. The book then discusses borderline cases and his theories about why democracies don't fight each other.

Wiki has a quite good general article on the democratic peace theory - as with any other field, you can find some expert who absolutely denies the consensus position, but it seems pretty clear that well-established democracies don't fight each other, and quite likely that even immature democracies are less likely to fight democracies. No consensus on why that's the case however.

My own view: I don't know enough about classical Greece to say anything relevant. I think democracy requires at least a certain level of organization and sophistication before the democratic peace kicks in. Hunter-gatherer and small-scale agricultural societies were reasonably democratic/anarchic and very often violent toward outgroups. Weart's maximalist position may or may not work - the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan that started a year after Weart's book is a contrary example. OTOH, Pakistan's elected parliament didn't really control its military which initiated that war.

That Weart could even plausibly maintain his position suggests the overall strength of the democratic peace theory.

2. Israel.

Israel's antipathy and fear of the Arab Spring is interesting in light of the fact that Israeli policymakers should know about democratic peace theory. Why Israelis thought their security was better protected by a hated 82-year old tyrant instead of a potential shot at Egyptian democratization isn't clear. I guess one response would be to look at how unpopular Israel is now with the average Egyptian, but I suspect that unpopularity itself could partially be a result of Israeli antipathy to Arab democracy.

I think the disinterest in Arab democracy in light of democratic peace theory suggests at least partially that Israel isn't all that worried about its security. It also suggests that Israel does not want democratically elected Arab leaders to be expressing grievances about West Bank and Gaza, because those leaders are much more persuasive that what Israel's had to deal with previously.

3. Labor unions.

Something of a tangent here, but one pithy statement I read somewhere about peace between democracies went to the effect of "yes it works in practice, but can you make it work in theory?" Weart isn't the only one who's tried to explain it, and no one's got a consensus theory for it.

I feel the same way about unions - the increasing inequality and declining middle class seems to be an effect of declining union power, but I don't think there's a good explanation about why unions benefit society generally, as opposed to just their members. I think the data is pretty good that they do benefit society, and there are plenty of theories why, but I'm not convinced as to why.

We'll just have to live with uncertainty.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

It Must Be The Neighborhood

Ethon flew in from Colorado with news from one of the bunnies. It appears that the Vail Valley Daily had published a now defunct letter from one Dr. Martin Hertzberg, who appears to live thereabouts. The article which, as the saying goes is no longer to be found, must have been a doozy, because Mike Mann responded, and oh yeah, there are now no Hertzberg liver bits to be found with the smell of lawyer letter on fire filling the air

An individual named Martin Hertzberg did a grave disservice to your readers by making false and defamatory statements about me and my climate scientist colleagues in his recent commentary in your paper.

It's hard to imagine anyone packing more lies and distortions into a single commentary. Mr. Hertzberg uses libelous language in characterizing the so-called “hockey stick” -- work of my own published more than a decade ago showing that recent warming is unusual over at least the past 1,000 years -- as “fraudulent,” and claiming that it “it was fabricated from carefully selected tree-ring measurements with a phony computer program.”

These are just lies, regurgitation of dishonest smears that have been manufactured by fossil fuel industry-funded climate change deniers, and those who do their bidding by lying to the public about the science.

The highest scientific body in the nation, the National Academy of Sciences affirmed my research findings in an exhaustive independent review published in June 2006 (see e.g. “Science Panel Backs Study on Warming Climate,” New York Times, June 22, 2006, among many others).

Dozens of independent groups of scientists have independently reproduced and confirmed our findings, and more recent work by several groups shows that recent warmth is unusual over an even longer time frame.

Mr. Hertzberg then continues the smear by lying again about my work, claiming that “when those same tree-ring data actually showed a decline in temperature for the past several decades, Mann and his co-authors simply ‘hid the decline' by grafting direct measurements (inadequately corrected for the urban heat island and other effects) to his flat tree-ring line.”

That is, once again, a string of lies tied together. This statement falsely equates my work, which was not based on tree rings but rather a diverse network of different types of “proxy” climate data, with tree-ring work by an entirely different scientist, Keith Briffa of the University of East Anglia.

And it is is a highly dishonest characterization of his Briffa's work, as well, since the “decline” was a well-known problem with those particular data that Briffa was the first to describe and attempt to deal with, in the scientific literature.

Mr. Hertzberg's lies are pernicious. Their intent appears to be to do convince you that there is no harm in our continued unfettered release of carbon into the atmosphere.
But whom, whom, the little ones ask is Martin Hertzberg. Well, Marty is one of the authors in the Judith Curry book club but one whom even Madam Uncertainty has some doubts.

As with Part I, I am not going to write a review here. But this one is much simpler than Claes Johnson’s chapter, the only equations are algebraic. And it has a painful misunderstanding of Kirchoff’s Law. But it was published, albeit in Energy & Environment, a journal that is quite erratic editorially (this isn’t to say that the don’t sometimes publish worthwhile papers). So lets give it some attention.

I dismissed reviewing Hertzberg’s chapter in the Dragon book, entitled “History of Encounters with the Sky Dragon.” The chapter stars with a rambling personal history of his encounters, with ample “fear mongering hysteria” etc. It goes on for 30 pages or so, no science.

Moderation note: this is a technical thread, moderated for relevance. Make your general comments on the Part III thread.

You can read the thread for giggles, and even Hertzberg's ramble, and he pops up occasionally at Curry's and elsewhere, but the bottom line is that he does not realize (or he does and won't admit it) that emissivity is a function of wavelength and has not very damn much to do with reflectivity. From sad experience with doctoral rejectionists (and Hertzberg has one, he has even published early on with Donald Rapp, how is that for a circle of self satisfied jerks) this knowledge appears to decline with age, and maybe Eli will go that way in a couple of years. If so, shoot him.

See also caerbannog