Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's the Dragons, No It's the Trolls, NO It's the Sun

Well, it's silly season again, and Nature has a good one and it is open

Emerging evidence indicates that dragons can no longer be dismissed as creatures of legend and fantasy, and that anthropogenic effects on the world's climate may inadvertently be paving the way for the resurgence of these beasts.
and another taste
Further work has revealed that the early medieval period was a veritable paradise for dragons. This can be attributed to the period's unusually warm temperatures Fig. 2 and an abundance of knights, the beasts' favourite combatant and food. It was also a time when wealth and status were measured in terms of gold and silver — the preferred nesting material for Western dragons. As a result, the major needs for living, feeding and, crucially, relaxation were readily available to dragons, allowing populations to flourish. The roasting of flesh and the indiscriminate demolition of hovels and castles became commonplace.
However, Fergus Brown points out that it's not the dragons but their grooms, the trolls who have time to get up to no good when their masters are busy burning down villages
But the new research is truly unbelievable. "According to the data gathered," we were told by lead scientist Arne Illbebaackersson, "we have historically vastly underestimated the volume of emissions generated by Trolls and other quasi-human entities. Once these new estimates are incorporated into climate models the correlation becomes obvious." 
And, as Lars Karlsson points out, this all was well known to Hubert Lamb, who, unfortunately was sworn to secrecy by the trolls after the dragons burned down his Stevenson screen.  Fortunately for John Mashey, Lars has uncovered the original which will be added to John's research results


With mounting evidence of the real cause of climate change, Fergus also points out the Guardian kicking off the silly season, also known as the British election campaign (Cameron should have known better than to set the first day of the campaign when he did).

Rabett Run eagerly awaits the response these bombshell papers by the Pastifarian Church

Yet mounting video coverage shows that it's the sun
At 8:02am today, SunCommon notified the Agency of Natural Resources of a massive solar spill. Attempts to limit this discharge have failed, and it appears that the spill will continue unabated. Unchecked, this incident is pouring solar radiation the equivalent of 3 billion gallons of gasoline across Vermont’s landscape – every day.

Eli is not adverse to adding other links and bits and pieces.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Technical and Esoteric and No Part of Chris Horner's Business

Following up on having their teeth kicked in by the Virginia Supreme Court in their quest for Mike Mann's Emails, Chris Horner and his sidekick David Schnare,  have filed a number of FOIA requests seeking Email from various climate scientists.  Strangely, nowhere can Eli find Roger Pielke Jr. or Bjorn Lomborg railing against that dynamic duo, now doing business as the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute.  Given the rapidity of how they change the name of their shells, Eli might think that business is not excellent.

Today the Union of Concerned Scientists brings word of the Arizona Superior Court handing another set of dentures to the gentlebunnies from E&E (as the Court labels them, perhaps accidental but quite appropriately) .  It was a remarkable decision.

The defendants, the Arizona Board of Reagents, had provided the Court a sample of 90 representative Emails from 1700.  The Court, kinda was like an undergrad with Spring Break reading assignments
The volume and complexity of the records at issue is daunting. Initially, AzBOR provided the Court a CD with approximately 90 emails described as representative of all those requested. While reviewing 90 emails may seem like a relatively easy task, such was not the case here. The emails ranged from one or two pages to multiple pages to at least one exceeding 800 pages in length. Further, to describe the content of the emails as technical and esoteric is an understatement. Many hours were spent reviewing the emails and, by no stretch, was the Court able to fully comprehend the substance of the emails.
At which point everybunny agreed that the 90 Emails were representative and that they did not need a special master or to spend their lives litigating each Email.  The question was, did the  Regents properly withhold the Emails from E&E's FOIA request.

The answer of the Court was comprehensively yes, but for interesting reasons.  Arizona law holds that
“ . . ., the law also recognizes that an unlimited right of inspection might lead to substantial and irreparable private or public harm; thus, where the countervailing interests of confidentiality, privacy or the best interests of the state should be appropriately invoked to prevent inspection, we hold that the officer or custodian may refuse inspection.” 141 Ariz. at 491.
In other words, using FOIA as harassment is not allowed if it causes public or private harm.  Among the categories that the Court held were not subject to inspection were Emails which contained student and personal information, correspondence with attorneys, information about on going research projects and information about prepublication peer review.

What is left are Emails about "prepublication critical analysis, unpublished data, analysis, research, results, drafts, and commentary".  The Court narrowed the question about this to whether the Regents withholding the documents was capricious or arbitrary and answered that
When the release of information would have an important and harmful effect on the duties of a State agency or officer, there is discretion not to release the requested documents. Arizona Board of Regents v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 167 Ariz. 254, 257-58, 806 P.2d 348, 351-52 (1991). After weighing the evidence presented in this matter, the Court cannot conclude that by withholding the remaining emails for the reasons stated, AzBOR abused its discretion or acted arbitrarily or capriciously.  
Schnare and Horner lose.

This is, IEHO, a very important statement that the government of the State of Arizona and its people have a vital interest in supporting the research of scientists at state universities and in state agencies and assuring that they cannot be harassed by those engaging in hackery for fun and profit that Rick Perlstein calls the long con.

And yet this stuff is as important to understanding the conservative ascendancy as are the internecine organizational and ideological struggles that make up its official history—if not, indeed, more so. The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The World Turned Upside Down

In the 1970s investment in renewable energy was killed dead by the realization that the Saudi's could drop the cost of oil to zero making any capital investment in wind and solar foolish, that and the relatively high cost of wind and solar at the time made it certain that the cost curve for renewables would not reach that of oil and coal within the investment horizon.

Fossil fuel energy sources have relatively low capital costs and high (cost of fuel) running costs. Today, no one has any idea of what the price of oil will be next month, let alone next year or the next decade.  Having seen a close to $(US)100/bbl swing within a year, planning is not possible.

The extraction cost of coal is low, but again, anybunny investing in fossil coal plants has to worry about pollution control costs and costs imposed in the future to pay for other externalities such as putting the top back on mountains and disposing of the ash and overburden.

Renewables are the reverse, high up front capital cost and low running costs with large recent cost drops driven by improved manufacturing.  With over half a decade of low interest rates behind us and no indication of any inflation at all in the developed world, capital costs todaydo not carry high interest, and investment in renewables looks attractive to any organization, even the ones in Texas.

Tom Dart in the Guardian reports that Georgetown, a town of 50,000 in Texas, is planning to go 100% wind and solar.

When its staff examined their options last year, they discovered something that seemed remarkable, especially in Texas: renewable energy was cheaper than non-renewable. And so last month city officials finalised a deal with SunEdison, a giant multinational solar energy company. It means that by January 2017, all electricity within the city’s service area will come from wind and solar power.
This is a 25 year deal.  Especially in Texas, wind and solar have strong advantages, guaranteed (and low) pricing amongst them
The region bordering New Mexico is one of the prime solar resource sites in the US and the wind whistles across the plains to such an extent that, as Scientific American pointed out last year, the state is America’s largest wind power producer – as well as leading the nation in the production of crude oil and the emission of greenhouse gases. 
Renewable energy also uses much less water than traditional power generation – a bonus in a state where half the land and more than nine million people are affected by drought conditions, though Briggs said that for Georgetown, water conservation was only a “side benefit”.
Today relatively expensive W. Texas crude is at more risk from Saudi petro-politics than wind and solar.  Indeed, many commentators thought that the Saudi's dropping the price of oil was directly aimed at killing off the frackers and further expansion of oil drilling in the oceans rather than renewables.

Have Another Drink

Continuing the story of Vlad and Est

Thursday, March 26, 2015

No SUVs on Mars, and no warming either

After reading recently that pits in the Mars polar CO2 ice caps were determined to be cyclical and not evidence of Martian climate change, I thought I'd do a cleanup post.

Time was that denialists relied on rather thinly-sourced evidence of potential warming on Mars to say it's proved, proved I tell you, that the warming that Earth has not even experienced came from the Sun. You saw and heard stuff like this:

I could've sworn that the SUV reference came from Michael Crichton originally, but digging around didn't confirm it.  Inhofe was into it, though. Here's the 'scientific' source of the claim:

Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun. 
"The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said.

So much for that.

To be sure, we don't necessarily know what's happening on Mars, we haven't studied it as long and as closely as Earth. Solar irradiance is well studied though and not the cause of the warming we're seeing on EArth. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pesticide drinks for thee but not for me

Patrick Moore, the climate denialist who falsely claims to have helped found Greenpeace (UPDATE: facts are unclear, see David Lewis' comments. Either the pre-2008 documents were wrong or someone did dubious editing at Greenpeace) most recently offered his expertise to deny any health risks associated with glyphosate. Embedding the video didn't work, so here's the link to it, and key dialog below:

Moore:  you can drink a whole quart of it [glyphosate] and it won't hurt you. 
Interviewer:  You want to drink some? We have some here. 
Moore:  I'd be happy to, actually. Not, not really, but... 
Interviewer:  Not really? 
Moore: I know it wouldn't hurt me. 
Interviewer:  If you say so I have some glyphosate... 
Moore:  I'm not stupid. 
Interviewer:  So it's dangerous, right? 
Moore:  People try to commit suicide with it and fail fairly regularly. 
Interviewer:  Let's tell the truth, it's dangerous. 
Moore:  It's not dangerous to humans, no it's not. 
Interviewer:  So you are ready to drink one glass of glyphosate? 
Moore:  No I'm not an idiot. 

Shortly afterwards, Moore cuts off the interview and walks away.

Funny but also sad that an old man like that is so ready to lie. Drinking glyphosate is something that's okay for other people, but he's not stupid enough to actually believe the things he's saying.

I wonder if he continues to use the "you can drink it" line in contexts where he can't be challenged with a glass.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ringberg 2015: Andy Dessler ECS > 2K and more

POSTSCRIPT:  The presentation slides for all the talks are now posted and Gavin has a post on Real Climate

Andy Dessler posted his Ringberg 2015 talk on climate sensitivity.


Eli is famous for finding simple solutions to complex problems, although also aware that while every complex problem has a simple solution it is often wrong.  Be that as it may, the recent post about indoor air pollution pointed out that the problem, and it is a big one, is not the cooking stove, but the exhaust, better put the lack of it, because it is real hard to ween anyone away from their accustomed way of fooding and because of that, introduction of fancy dancy cooking stoves has not worked.  Worse, although many are burning shit (dried shit, but shit none the less) or dead plants, and these are not ideal fuels, they are cheap fuels and there is no hope of weaning the poor away from them as long as they are poor.

Now the moral of the tale here is that Eli is perturbed, nay angry, that the following simple solution occurred to the bunny when egged on by Tom Fuller.  Angry?  Well it means that Eli can no longer think of Tom as useless, but here it is.   Tom ended a comment with

Your argument about the ventilation being the problem rather than the cooking is true, but really reminds me of what a SF comedian used to say--'Guns don't kill people. It's those darn bullets.' 
To which Eli replied off the tip of his ears
For venting, even a small fan run off solar electricity in the wall near the cooker could make a significant contribution.
But this is not such a bad solution, because moving the effluvia out of the house, while it would not completely solve the problem, would certainly minimize it and save much health and lives.  So, of course, there is always the google and the google found a solution, a small exhaust fan with an integrated solar cell panel that could easily be put into just about any house or hovel.  Turns out, and on reflection, no surprise, that such things are made for RVs.  Still probably too expensive, this one is $25.67, but in large quantities, maybe not made so well, it looks like it could make a difference.

Put a simple screen filter on it and it would be even better.  The fan units are designed to be mounted on RV roofs, on top of plumbing vents and come with a one year guarantee.  Just the sort of thing that people could donate to organizations like Heifer International or Oxfam or the Gates Foundation could buy by the millions.

Monday, March 23, 2015

On Cooking Steak

Since Rabett Run appears to be working on the culinary side, and the first steak has been thrown out opening the barbecue season in the Northern Hemisphere Eli thought he would share a useful trick.

The problem with cooking steaks or roasts is to get a nice crusty outside while leaving the center, well, unshoeleathered, or the inverse, with the center nice and the shade of red you like while the outside is pasty brown.

What the Bunny is about to betray is one of those utterly revolting secrets that works on the thickest steaks and roasts without the expense and time necessary for using a sous vide.

Build the hottest fire you can, or turn the broiler up to nuclear or heat the frying pan red hot  THEN toss the steak into the microwave for a minute to three or so minutes.  Season the steak with salt and pepper and a little olive oil.  The time for microwaving depends on how red you want the center, from blu to rare to medium rare.  That takes a bit of trial and error and the degree of doneness should be a bit less than you want to eat because of what follows. Another benefit is that even for thick cuts, the meat is evenly done inside.  A little more olive oil, maybe even butter and salt and pepper at this point is a good thing.

You then toss the steak onto the fire, into the oven, into the pan, in front of the blowtorch, into the pit of hell, whatever and crust the outside.  This procedure shortens the cooking time by separating cooking the inside and the outside.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

On Cooking

This started out to be a very very very very snarky take on why Bjorn Lomborg, Roger Jr. and assorted others are just dangerous when they go on about how coal electrification is needed to eliminate indoor pollution in Africa and Asia, but indoor pollution from cooking and heating using biomass or coal is a huge problem, killing many each year, and among many there is a dangerous naivety.

Further, this problem is no secret, and there is a considerable literature, easily found, but allow Eli a few moments to lay it out.

The first point is that the issue is not fuel, but ventilation.  Many bunnies have, or have prior experience with wood stoves and the older amongst us with coal stoves.  While there are issues with external air pollution, a good chimney moves the problem out of the house.  Of course, if your house is a hut or less, a good chimney is well beyond the cost of your house.

The second point is that the poor will always use the cheapest fuel, that is why they are called the poor, so substituting a more expensive fuel such as LPG or natural gas and certainly not fossil fuel generated electricity simply does not work.   It has been tried.  Further, in poor places, an entire infrastructure has been developed to provide biomass fuel of all types, if you forbid burning of biomass, many people who were making a bare living providing the fuel no longer have an income.

The third point is that a better, more efficient stove has value, the value is in lower pollution because the burning is more efficient, less fuel needed, e.g. less deforestation, etc., but the problem, of course is that better stoves are more expensive and unfamiliar.  There have been successes, but these involved subsidies for the stoves, creating local industries to manufacture the stoves, and careful attention that the stoves were not far removed from what people were used to cooking on so that there was no culture shock. Improved cookstoves designed in a laboratory for maximum efficiency and minimum pollution without consideration of convenience and how people cook simply are rejected even when handed out for nothing. Solar cookers run headlong into this problem.

OK?  Eli will turn the snark machine on again, but do go do some reading.  Here is a review article.

Majic Words

From Forecast the Facts a bit of interplay about FEMA's new rules on disaster planning in view of climate change.  Government employees in Rick Scott's Florida have a problem

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Arguing From Both Sides of Their Wallets

Bleating about the poors from the receiving end of one percenter funding is a sure marker that the debate is going badly for them.  They only pretend to care when they profit from the pretend.

Consider the response when bunnies point out that the first big losers from climate change are going to be the South Asians and the Africans:  Ain't happening, not our problem is what Eli hears from the Willard Tony crowd. The good Bishop blesses the happening. The Luckwarmers snipe from the sidelines, more into the game than the reality.  But reactionaries know that those seeking to limit damage from climate change and environmental degradation have a concern for others and the Earth which is why they try it on in an attempt to slow down progress

Allow Eli to step back to yesteryear, in some sense to yesterdays, or the days before, when Rabett Run pointed out the amoral use of the "hurting the poors" argument in the Spectator, which he found in a jeremiad by Fred Singer.  Singer, of course, is quite the amoral contortionist, but he outdoes himself, when on one page he berates those concerned with the ozone depletion for harming the poors

The bitter irony, not mentioned in the article is that even if the CFC-ozone theory were correct in all respects, darker skinned people living in the tropics would get none of the alleged benefits of "protecting" the ozone layer.  The depletion of ozone is calculated to occur mainly at middle and high latitudes, and skin cancers are confined almost exclusively to fair-skinned people.  What then is the incentive for tropical nations to phase out CFCs?  And if they don't go along, will it be worthwhile for the developed countries to impose high costs on their citizens for a negligible return, in the absence of full international participation
forgetting (even then Fred was very old and very deviously delusional and very well paid to write such stuff) that a page back he had accused the developing countries of extorting the developed world
Of course, the key to the CFC content of the atmosphere is eventually in the hands of the developing countries that make up the bulk of the world's population.  These countries have asked for side payments, properly referred to as bribes, in order to accede to the Protocol. . . . 
To the developing countries the Protocol is simply a means to advance their concept of "international equity" which began nearly 25 years ago with the New International Economic Order.  "China and India threatened to increase their uses of CFCs, thereby breaking the Montreal Protocol if the fund were not approved.  Harris then recounts how the United States finally gave in to blackmail by "the major international donors joined with the developing states and the World Bank"
Substitute Agenda 21 for the New International Economic Order, coal for CFCs and the same nonsense can be found in every James Inhofe wanna be speak.  It really gets quite old.  Fred, of course, is not one to miss a trick, and after accusing the developing world of extorting payments, goes on to moan about how loss of CFC's would hurt the people of the developing nations, which, of course, assumes no benefit from those "bribes".

This is really quite spectacular, first S. Fred argues that the developing nations want financial help for adopting the Montreal Protocols and phasing out CFCs, and this is greedy of them.  Then he argues that the developing nations and their people would not be hurt by ozone depletion so they should not adopt the Montreal Protocols.  A new high for convenient cognitive dissonance.

Eli inquires:  Has Bjorn Lomborg hired Fred Singer as chief ghost writer?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Rashomon update on climate betting

So 2015 is coming in hot, .75C in January and .79C above base period in February, and nothing indicating that March is cooling. The rest of the year can be slightly colder than 2014 and still end up a record, the first time since 1998 that we had record years back-to-back.

While short term data on climate isn't especially meaningful, I have a particular interest in this - in addition to the minor issue of human and environmental welfare, I've got $9,000 riding on it. David Evans and I made a series of bets in 2007, and 2015 is the first year that starts counting against the baseline. David has the details here, but to sum up it's comparing 5-year averages, and we're betting both on temps warming either somewhat less than IPCC projected for the next few decades or much less (David acknowledges some warming is possible). I need temps to increase .13C/decade over the 2005-2009 baseline to win one bet and not lose/void the other one, and .18C/decade to win both.

The Rashomon aspect comes from whether the bet looks like good news or bad news depending on your focus. I'm winning the first two months of the five year period from 2015 to 2019, which is good for me but not all that definitive. Prior to 2015, comparing years that didn't count, I was losing the bets, and prior to 2014 I was losing them badly.

One way to view it:  if you focus just on the stats and forget all your priors about the science, and if you ignore the stats for the many years preceding the baseline period, then I think you'd rather be in David's shoes than mine, despite my little head start. If 2015 stays warm at the end of this year then you might feel differently, even retaining this constrained viewpoint.

I think it's a reasonable perspective, but too constrained. If you look at a longer period and consider reasonable scientific priors about what you expect to happen, then I think I still have good bets. There's also what I said in 2007 that I "at worst lose one bet, win most of them, and void the rest." I also said I had the best chance of losing the early 10-year bets as opposed to the longer 15 and 20 year bets. Not so different from my expectation.

The other interesting bet to look at is James Annan's, where he's over halfway through the determining period for his bet. He's coy about it but he's trouncing his betting partners who thought temps would actually decline compared to 1998-2003.

A perspective I think would be interesting to hear from is the two men he's betting with. While their economic interest would be to wait and hope for a miraculous change, they have other reputational interests. Rather than continuing to be wrong this year and for the next two years and then finally paying up, I'd end the period of being wrong now if I were them, write James a check, and start being right.

The Future for Popcorn Is Bright

Some time ago, back at the beginning of time, Eli pointed out that the Obama administration was offering Republicans in Congress a choice between the lady and the tyger on passing laws regulating CO2 emissions, and of course, as everyone knows, the Republicans chose the tiger. 

About a week ago, Mitch McConnell told Republican governors to blow off the EPA and not bother to file a state plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

Today, the Federal Emergency Management Administration named the price

 Starting next year, the agency will approve disaster preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that address climate change.
and as the song goes,
There's hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain.
Takes money to plan for that.
If you don't want it, don't complain
This takes effect in March of 2016, before the next general election in the US.  The thing that Mitch and his friends don't appreciate is that Obama does not get mad, ask Osama.  Oh wait. . .

Planning Your Winter Ski and Skate Party

The winter is over, none too soon for some, and ho-hum for others.  Naturally when something is over, the Rabett household turns to planning for the next.  Where shall we have our ski and skate party next winter, Ms. Rabett inquires in that start saving for the expedition voice of hers.  Ms. Rabett is quite fond of travel which she regards as the only up side, besides plumbing, of Eli's vocation.

What about visiting your sister in the far north of New England Eli replies in the fond hope of perhaps coming in under budget.  Too much snow she says and besides it is cold.  Well, the Rabett points out, we hear that that is not too much of a problem in Sweden.  Eli's friend RayP writes that Vasaloppet week is on life support with the 15,800 cross country skiers hot on the trail of  King Gustave Vasa dependent on artificial snow being trucked in, and it is getting too warm to make the snow.
Last year the race was nearly canceled because key parts of the track were too boggy to allow passage of the equipment used to deliver snow and maintain the track. The race was rescued only at the last minute through rescued only by artificial snow.
I was not one of those 15,800 lucky ones to get a bib and doubt if I could have finished the race if I did, but I did ski a considerable portion of the track back in February. 
It was a vacation—a quaint idea that still exists in Europe—and I was prompted to think of what the future holds for the course just as the temperature crept past the upper range of my “universal” silver  ski wax and I started sliding backward down the hills. By the time I was heading home, things were pushing the 12-degree C top range of the KR70 Aqua klister ski wax. (Any warmer than that and you’re not skiing, your waterskiing.)
Sounds good she said, Swedes are rich, they can afford the snow, but wait, I hear that Canada is the place to go.  Well, maybe Eli said, it's so warm there these winters (places in Eastern Canada may demur) that they took the outdoor skating rink off the fiver.  Future Canadians will say of the long winters that they lived in the school, the church and the indoor rink.  Outdoor rinks are disappearing earlier and earlier and in some cases never appearing.  Where will you skate young Wayne Gretsky is the question on all frozen lips? But the backyard rink ain't one of the places given current trends unless granddad is some sort of mining investor with big pockets for the cooler and a blog.

Simon Donner knows, and he is not happy.

in an understated Canadian sort of way.  Andy Skuce on Skeptical Science has a more complete discussion with a link to a Globe and Mail article on bill redesign with leaked documents.  In the discussion is a statement from the design consultants that anything with snow would be risky because global warming.  So they got the robot arm on the space station.

Well, Ms. Rabett said, there is always Alaska.  Bad news Eli said, Alaska is so warm that the Iditerod has to move considerably north to find enough snow and you can practically go out in shorts most populated places this January (Rabetts are tough beasts but maybe not that tough).

We could go to California said the apple of Eli's eye.  Well, if you want to broil in LA with nothing to drink that would be a good place.

The South Sea, the Antipodes, Ms. Rabett offered.  Big cyclones downered Eli

Ms. Rabett played here last card?  Well where can we go, Antarctica?  Stay away from the coast said Eli

Monday, March 16, 2015

If Not the Fire Then the Freezer

Some bunnies have noticed that Matt King Cole, Bjorn Lomborg and the ignorati from the Breakthrough Institute and yet others are crocadiling about how Africa needs coal to generate electricity, never mind that right now the majority of the countryside and small villages would do better with solar or wind.  As Eli has pointed out, this is mostly because the costs of building out the distribution network is not zero, far from it, and small village based solar powered grids are less expensive.

Of course, none of these folks figure in the costs and difficulties of maintaining an electrical, gas or electric transmission network in these countries, where people have the habit of borrowing power, power lines and gas.  There is a reason that the Niger delta lights up at night and it ain't LEDs.  There is a reason why even in rapidly developing countries, that everybunny has a diesel generator and the generator cuts in more than now and again.

Most frustratingly to Eli is the fact that the cost of solar is a capital cost, which once paid, does not require buying fuel, the major cost of fossil energy

Any bunny serious, rather than self serving, would look at this and figure out that developed societies, if they wished to help the underdeveloped, would help them set up solar, wind, or hydro on minigrids.  Better, faster and even cheaper.

But no, listen to Matt King Cole
Still, more than a billion people on the planet have yet to get access to electricity and to experience the leap in living standards that abundant energy brings. This is not just an inconvenience for them: Indoor air pollution from wood fires kills four million people a year. The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren, show her a picture of an African child dying today from inhaling the dense muck of a smoky fire.
Of course, bunnies could always look at pictures of Lagos in the Smog, or Mumbai, or Shanghai.  Coal is so tasty when burnt.   Or we have Bjorn Bunny in the New York Times,
they should not stand in the way of poorer nations as they turn to coal and other fossil fuels. This approach will get our priorities right. And perhaps then, people will be able to cook in their own homes without slowly killing themselves.
Anyhow, this reminded Eli of something, but he could not remember quite what, until while writing yesterday's post on how the Montreal Protocol Insurance Co was working out to the benefit of all, he kind of remembered and went looking for Fred Singer's rants on how the Montreal Protocols were the devil incarnate and he came across Fred quoting from  The Spectator, March 12, 1994.
"..the consequences of banning CFCs will certainly be disastrous./. The proposed replacements are less efficient and some of them are toxic, endangering the health of fridge workers and people nearby.  In Afria, refrigeration saves lives, not only by protecting food against decay and disease, but by preserving medicines, notably vaccines.  Anything that makes refrigeration more expensive or more difficult will cost lives in Africa and add to poverty, and anything that adds to poverty in Africa increases the destruction of the African environment. . .Somehow it is all right for people in the West to benefit from modern technology but wrong for poor people in Africa and Asia.  It is more wholesome for black Africans to die in infancy of "natural" agents such as maleria and food poisoning than to be safeguarded into healthy old age by unnatural agents such as pesticides and CFCs.  The outstanding feature of their victims is that they are poor.
Just a perfect rant, and perfectly wrong on all points.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

In the Beginning

Old timers will remember sci.environment back in the days when it was all strat and polar ozone.  A rather simple tweet from Judith Curry today

and a reply from Turcano

brought Eli back to days of yesteryear, so he went and looked at the latest data on the area of the  Antarctic ozone hole

A minor historical note.  Gavin and Tim Osborne had a side discussion about whether this was absolute or an anomaly.  It is absolute.  The first TOMS was launched in late 1978.  The ozone hole was first noticed from ground observations in 1984 by Farman, Gardiner and Shanklin of the British Antarctic Survey, at which point the TOMS team went back and looked at the data from 1979 on.  As can be seen in the figure, the first three years, 1979, 1980 and 1981 are pretty consistent, it is only in 1982 that the hole appears for the first time.

The ozone column depth shows the same story.  As Tim Osborne points out, this leads to the definition of a "normal" Antarctic Spring ozone column being 220 DU (Doppler Dobson units, another story).

showing that the polar ozone is recovering.

Eli, being Eli, pointed out that this meant that the Montreal Protocol Insurance Co. was doing a fine job.

Well, in for a penny and in for a pound, so the Bunny also went and read parts of the 2014 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion and it appears that the overall decline in stratospheric ozone has also been arrested.  While it is not quite ironclad, it sure looks like the recovery has begun, and the year when the healing begun was also roughly 1997, as with the Antarctic ozone hole

The Montreal Protocols have lead to a decrease of chlorine and bromine species in the atmosphere which has in turn lead to an increase in stratospheric ozone, but in addition, the increase in greenhouse gases, principally CO2 is cooling the stratosphere and this slows up the catalytic conversion of ozone by chlorine and bromine, also resulting in higher ozone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Eli's Government At Work

Eli was driving today listening to CSPAN radio when he heard something that almost made him cough up his teeth (Eli is an old bunny).  It was at a hearing on medical innovation of the US Senate Education Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander who was questioning Francis Collins, head of the NIH, when this occurred.

Collins wins the support of every scientist and engineer in the US government who has had to endure endless paperwork justifying trips to the bathroom, and oh yes, grant agency panel members who can't even get a donut and coffee at meetings.  Drug Monkey sends love.

No doubts about Merchants of Doubt

I saw a sneak preview of Merchants of Doubt on Saturday - it's very good and very professionally made. Incredible how many of the merchants of doubt were willing to speak on camera about what they're doing, Marc Morano in particular. I knew only some of the tobacco issues and very little about flame retardant, so how that ties to climate is definitely worth watching.

I remember that a Stoat had issues with the book that inspired the movie, but this is footage and interviews, so while I haven't read the book I think the movie's pretty different.

Good piece in the trailer where Morano says "we're the negative force, we're just trying to stop stuff." He's right. Remember that's a good position to be in, when you can get it, like with Keystone.

It's scoring 83% at Rottentomatoes, you can check there for availability but is opening this weekend in some cities.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Okay, how about "global warm-hugging" or "climatic kitten snuggles"?

Florida is making use of the power of positive thinking by banning governmental use of the terms "global warming" and "climate change". Not quite as direct as North Carolina's banning the ocean from rising faster than a certain rate, but still innovative. Governor Rick Scott is apparently a big fan of The Secret.

All they need is another, more positive term. I kind of like global warm-hugging, but maybe something else works. "Planetary Florida-doesn't-need-all-that-land-anyway Effect" is a little long.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Analysis: Soon's disclosure of non-controversial funding supports the conclusion that he deliberately omitted fossil fuel disclosures

In the storm of controversy surrounding Willie Soon's failure to disclose that his academic papers were funded by fossil fuel companies, the background question is whether Soon deliberately concealed the funding. The fact that Soon and his co-authors did publish their noncontroversial and prestigious funders while consistently omitting the fossil fuel funder supports the conclusion that omission was deliberate.

Lisa Song from InsideClimate News has reported details about 11 papers funded by Southern Company, a massive corporate utility with more carbon dioxide emissions than any other American utility, and Donors Trust, a shadowy charitable foundation that allows donors to climate denying efforts to conceal their identities by giving money to the foundation that they can count on giving grants for climate denialism.

InsideClimate News summarizes the 11 papers, including whatever financial disclosure information was included, and in 5 of the papers the non-controversial funders that add prestige to the paper were listed, while Southern and Donors were not. No explanation has been offered by Soon or anyone else for this discrepancy in disclosure.

The 5 papers where the funders other than Southern and Donors were disclosed are (full list at InsideClimate):

1. "Centennial Variations of the Global Monsoon Precipitation in the Last Millennium: Results from ECHO-G Mode," Journal of Climate (2008) 
Disclosures omit Southern Company while listing Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Basic Research Program of China, National Natural Science Foundation of China, US National Science Foundation and NOAA/OGP.  
2. "Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit," Interfaces (2008) 
Disclosures omit Southern Company while listing funding from the State of Alaska. 
3. "Multiple and changing cycles of active stars", Astronomy & Astrophysics (2009)
Disclosures omit Southern Company while listing multiple funding agencies related to astronomy. InsideClimate notes the paper does not discuss climate change on earth. This raises the possibility that Soon "padded" the deliverables he provided to Southern. 
4. "Temporal derivative of total solar irradiance and anomalous Indian Summer Monsoon: An empirical evidence for a sun-climate connection", Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (2011) 
Disclosures omit Southern Company and Donors Trust while listing National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi and the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa. 
5. "Indian summer monsoon rainfall: dancing with the tunes of the sun", New Astronomy (2015) 
Disclosures omit Southern Company while listing Indian Space Research Organization, Government of India.
Soon was a co-author in all of the 11 publications. One possibility in these cases of partial disclosure is that his co-authors disclosed their funding while he did not. Regardless of whether that was the case, the issue of deliberately failing to disclose is emphasized especially by these cases. The remaining 6 publications where no disclosures were included at all include some co-authors whose institutions have been asked by Representative Raul Grijalva to provide information about them potentially receiving fossil fuel funding.

Following exposure in the news media, Soon made a statement via the climate-denying Heartland Institute that asserts "In submitting my academic writings I have always complied with what I have understood to be disclosure practices in my field generally...." Smithsonian has promised an investigation of Soon's behavior - it is unclear whether this statement's accuracy itself should be considered when Smithsonian decides whether his behavior meets acceptable standards.  Soon goes on to indicate that unless disclosure standards will somehow change from what they currently are, then he need do no greater disclosure than he had in the past. In other words, his past behavior on disclosure will be his future level of disclosure.

Dr. Donald Prothero at Skeptic.com draws the following conclusion about Soon's general omission of disclosure:
This is not a simple slip but a deliberate effort to not reveal the obscene amounts of money he was getting paid, and where it came from.
To only reveal non-controversial funding while consistently failing to reveal his fossil fuel funders further reinforces the conclusion that the omission was deliberate.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Defend to the Death and Use the Toilet Brush

Recent giggles in the blogs and news releases include the defend to the death posturing of various bags of wind, such as Rich Lowry, Richard Lindzen and Joe Bast.  Don Prothro at Skeptic has a useful take on what Willie Soon is and has done.

Much of the attempted push back on Soon and the Grijalva seven or eight, who remembers, has been meta (it's cruel, it's McCarthy) and according to John Fleck, Eli is all about meta.  In this case allow the Bunny to outsource to  Roy Ederoso's take on Steven Hayward, one of the seven or eight, but it will do for all of them and Willie Soon

I'm constantly being asked if I hold the Voltaire defend-to-the-death position on people I disagree with, but I am seldom offered a for-instance where the subject isn't just entirely full of shit.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

April 22, 1915

April 22, 1915 was the day when gas weapons were first used in WWI.  Chemical and Engineering News has unflinching articles written by Sarah Everts, as the editor says, not to celebrate but to remember, for it is easier to repeat mistakes if they are forgotten.  There is no paywall.  The testimony of two eyewitnesses is available and enough.  Willi Siebert, one of the German infantry who opened the gas cylinders, left this account for his son and us
Finally, we decided to release the gas. The weatherman was right. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining. Where there was grass, it was blazing green. We should have been going on a picnic, not doing what we were going to do. …

We sent the infantry back and opened the valves with the strings. About supper time, the gas started toward the French; everything was stone quiet. We all wondered what was going to happen.

As this great cloud of green grey gas was forming in front of us, we suddenly heard the French yelling. In less than a minute they started with the most rifle and machine gun fire that I had ever heard. Every field artillery gun, every machine gun, every rifle that the French had, must have been firing. I had never heard such a noise.

The hail of bullets going over our heads was unbelievable, but it was not stopping the gas. The wind kept moving the gas towards the French lines. We heard the cows bawling, and the horses screaming. The French kept on shooting.

They couldn’t possibly see what they were shooting at. In about 15 minutes the gun fire started to quit. After a half hour, only occasional shots. Then everything was quiet again. In a while it had cleared and we walked past the empty gas bottles.

What we saw was total death. Nothing was alive.

All of the animals had come out of their holes to die. Dead rabbits, moles, and rats and mice were everywhere. The smell of the gas was still in the air. It hung on the few bushes which were left.

When we got to the French lines the trenches were empty but in a half mile the bodies of French soldiers were everywhere. It was unbelievable. Then we saw there were some English. You could see where men had clawed at their faces, and throats, trying to get breath.

Some had shot themselves. The horses, still in the stables, cows, chickens, everything, all were dead. Everything, even the insects were dead.
The account from the other side, from a Canadian soldier, A.T. Hunter, is equally searing.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Why Willie Soongata May Be But the Start

With Willie Soongata going great gums Eli turns to his friend Jules, nonono, not the photosnapping Jules (Eli has some suspicions about what she has been up to) but Jules of the Klimaat Blog who has been tip toeing through the Legacy Tobacco Archives where he has discovered the source of all astroturf.

Of course, that is the tobacco industry, but in light of what has come to light in the last weeks it is eerily like the tip of today's iceberg, except that Jules has explored the underwater bulk, not completely, but enough to explain the current push back.

This is a long story, the short version that Jules has published takes fifteen pages with more to come, and there is supplementary material.  Oh my, there is supplementary material, but let us simply look at the summary
The recent case showing how climate skeptic Wei-Hook 'Willie' Soon was heavily funded by the fossil-fuel industry has once again drawn attention to the 'tobacco strategy' of casting pseudoscientific doubt on a scientific topic.

The tobacco industry used a series of scientists in so-called 'truth squads' to deny the harmfulness of second-hand smoking.

Lesser known is how the industry handed out well over 1 million dollars to a secret network of over 100 American economics professors, known as the "economists network".

The aim of the network was preventing the government imposing higher excise taxes on tobacco to cover social costs related to smoking. The economists were hired to spread economic doubt on the effectiveness of social cost related actions by the government.

The network, lead by George Mason University professor Robert D. Tollison and tobacco consultant James Savarese, engaged in different activities.

This paper will prove how the economists were:

-Targetting the media in well organized op-ed campaigns.
All op-eds had to be cleared by the tobacco industry's lawyers before publication The economists earned up to $3,000 per op-ed they managed to get published in newspapers

Testifying at political hearings
The economists earned up to $10.000 per hearing Some economists defended arguments they knew were flawed

Producing 'scientific' papers that were approved by the tobacco industry.
The economists earned up to $40.000 per scientific paper they published Some economists "authored" reports actually written by the tobacco industry Every single scientific paper was cleared - corrected by the tobacco industry's lawyers

Producing pro-tobacco books 
Robert D. Tollison and Richard E. Wagner wrote/edited at least 5 pro-tobacco books
The books were promoted in well organized media-tours funded by the industry all over the USA, the authors receiving media training organized by the tobacco lobby on how to deal with tricky questions Positive book review were sent to newspapers by other members of the network 

The economists consistently forgot to mention they were paid by the Tobacco Institute.
Details at the Klimaat Blog

A member of the US Congress,  Rep. Raul Grijalva sent letters to a number of universities asking for information on Prof Utonium 

Prof. Utonium being one of  David Legates at UDel, John Christy at UAlabama Huntsville, Judith Curry at Georgia Tech, Richard Lindzen at MIT, Robert Balling at ASU, Roger Pielke Jr. at UColorado Boulder and Steven Hayward at Pepperdine.

In light of this it is perhaps, well really clear instead of perhaps, why Rep. Raul Grijalva thought there might be fire under the smoke that some have covered his committee with.  Many, including the AMS and AGU and some who comment at Rabett Run have had problems with these letters as being intrusive and discouraging free interchange amongst scientists and between scientists and the public.

Eli submits that given the history of these folk, remembering that Heartland at the core of the opposition to climate change legislation was one of the public relations operations that the Tobacco Lobby used to oppose regulation of tobacco and, of course that Heartland did budget to fund at least one Utonium, Prof. Balling perhaps, Rep. Grijalva was not operating right off the wall.

The letters inquired, not too politely about
1. What is your university's policy on employee financial disclosure? Please provide a full copy of all applicable policies, including but not limited to those applying to Prof.Utonium.
The letter was sent to the president's of the universities and this information is public.  however, Grijlava went too far, as he himself now admits, when he asked for
2. For those instances already mentioned and others that apply, please provide:
a. all drafts of Utonium's testimony before any government body or agency or that which, to your knowledge, he helped prepare for others;
b. communications regarding testimony preparation.
However, in light of what we know about the tobacco and other industrial astroturf operations it certainly was reasonable to ask for
3. Please provide information on Prof. Utonium’s sources of external funding. “External funding” refers to consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation and other monies given to Prof. Utonium that did not originate from the institution itself Please include:

a. The source of funding;
b. The amount of funding;
c. The reason for receiving the funding;
d. For grants, a description of the research proposal and copy of the funded grant;
e. Communications regarding the funding. 
4. Please provide all financial disclosure forms filed by Prof Utonium in which MIT is listed as his professional affiliation, even if it is only stated for purposes of identification.  
5. Please provide Prof Utonium’s total annual compensation for each year covered here.
 and these are all documents that are in the possession of the University.

Photo from Climate Social on Twitter

Under the Dome

Crowd sourced English subtitles for Chai Jing's Under the Dome. The video starts off in the middle, it can be reset to the beginning simply by moving the slider bar at the bottom

A valentine to those pushing coal

The silence of the Roberts

Brief excursion into law-blogging here, following the morning Supreme Court hearing of the ridiculous challenge against Obamacare. Good summary, as usual, at SCOTUSblog.

The only reason the Court granted the appeal was because at least four justices thought they at least might want to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Four is enough to get a case heard, and you need to five to win. As SCOTUSblog notes, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas are almost certain votes to destroy health care for millions of people, while Kennedy asked questions critical of both sides (I'd guess he's leaning in favor of nonidiocy, he takes his federalism seriously).

The normally inquisitive Roberts wasn't inquisitive. Judges other than Thomas like to ask questions. If they've pretty much decided their view already, they still like to ask questions partly based on the self-delusion that they'd change their minds if given a good enough response, and partly to start jousting and convincing their fellow judges. If they haven't decided because they have unanswered questions, then they also tend to want to ask their questions.

One possibility for Roberts' silence was that he hasn't decided and hasn't even figured what questions he'd like to ask. I think that's unlikely. More likely was that he does have a viewpoint or questions but other justices were expressing them adequately, so he saw no need to pipe up. Seems most likely that Kennedy would be his doppelganger. If Roberts is going to tick off his side yet again over Obamacare, maybe he'd prefer to see Kennedy be more visible.

I'm guessing a 6-3 ruling in favor of sanity. I could be off by two votes though.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Where is Horatio When Eli Needs Him

Eli has been searching for the right song for Soongate and he thinks he has found it

The lyrics just scream out for a rewrite by Horatio Algeranon, but Eli will not go there.  No indeed, the Bunny has been a lot harder in this mess on the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics than on the good Dr. Soon, who, as Eli has pointed out and Dr. Soon has said, has had a hard time keeping body and soul together since his mainline grant funding disappeared before the end of the last century.

Now Eli is not going to link to the many, many comments, posts, and newspaper articles on this issue, nor is he going to discuss much who and why Rep. Raul Grijalva sent letters to various worthies' institutions.  That is been best left to others, but a few words on Rep Grijalva's motivation.

From many sources, it is well known that science obfustication has been well funded by industries who have found research conclusions uncomfortable.  As shown by the Tobacco Legacy Archive, this funding has been both direct and indirect.  Astroturf was invented by those guys well before the Astrodome opened.  For such issues as lead, tobacco, asbestos and of course tobacco, advertising agencies, public relations companies, think tanks and various other pass throughs have been used.  There is no doubt that the hiding of such connections has become more professional, the latest variation being Donor's Trust,

So one may ask, who has been paying the academics testifying before Congress, state legislatures, and local government organizations on these issues and what have they bought?  Further, what are the ethical issues about accepting the Exxon's shilling?  What about other writings designed to influence public opinion such as op-eds or reviews, should a conflict of interest be declared when the writer has been monetarily encouraged?

Based on past history, Rep Grijalva is right to ask these questions. Did he ask for too much?  He agrees
The communications back-and-forth is honestly secondary, and I would even on my own say that that was an overreach in that letter," Grijalva, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, told National Journal on Monday. "I want the disclosure [of funding sources]. Then people can draw their own conclusions.
Does the funding of testimony given by academics have value?  The funders think so.