Dr. Karen Cameron is a scientist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, and participated in this year’s Dark Snow Project encampment on the Greenland ice.

Dr. Cameron’s descriptions of the evolving melt season, together with Sara Penrhyn Jone’s stunning videos, are evocative of what scientists experience in the course of this research.

Cameron spent 47 days on the ice this summer, and was airlifted out with her team, on the same chopper that brought me in.

I’ll be presenting short clips of her observations over coming months.


Mark Ruffalo, better known as the actor who plays The Hulk in 2012’s mega-hit movie The Avengers has some powerful quotes in a new interview by Brian Merchant.

Basically, he’s getting off fossil fuels and wants the Avengers to do that as well.  Which should be easy with Tony Stark’s Arc Reactor. I need one of those.

The full article and interview are at MotherBoard:

Mark Ruffalo is not the kind of celebrity activist who shows up at a charity ball once a year, writes a check while the cameras roll, then extols the virtues of altruism. Mark Ruffalo is in the trenches. And he wants his friends and fellow Avengers in there with him.

I’ve seen him hit the pavement in DC, protesting the Keystone XL. He’s joined anti-fracking demonstrations in New York and Detroit. You can bet he’ll be at  this weekend’s People’s Climate March. Ruffalo is well-versed on climate and energy issues, and endorses a plan to move to 100 percent renewable energy, following a blueprint laid out by a Stanford professor.

He’s also officially joining the movement to dump fossil fuel investment.

“I’m in the process of divesting. I took the pledge,” Ruffalo told me, “between 3-5 years, to completely divest in any fossil fuels or anything climate change related and put it into renewable or clean tech.” Ruffalo had just been a guest on Al Gore’s fourth annual  24 Hours of Climate Reality program, and he was enthused.

“And that’s a pledge that I’m making here today to you. I’m asking all of my friends to do it. I’m going to ask Leo[nardo DiCaprio], I’m going to ask all The Avengers, I’m going to ask Robert, I’m going to do the ‘put your money where your mouth is’ challenge. And it’s going to be: divest and invest.”
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Scientific American:

Last month, General Electric (GE) consulting presented the results of a U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) sponsored study testing if wind turbines can be controlled to manage the stability of the electric grid. The authors found that wind turbines might actually be a valuable tool for controlling and stabilizing the grid in the future, disputing the conventional notion that wind energy doesn’t play well with the grid. To understand the source of this counterintuitive result—and its implications—let’s review the key aspect of power grid control at play here: frequency regulation.

Frequency regulation is the process through which the grid operator maintains the frequency of the grid’s alternating current at a precise, predetermined level. In the United States, for example, grids are strictly controlled to put out electric current with a frequency of 60 Hertz. To maintain this level of frequency, the grid operator must carefully ramp power plants up and down so that the total amount of electricity flowing into the grid is perfectly balanced with the total electricity being withdrawn by electricity customers.

The balance and frequency of the electric grid can be illustrated with the analogy of a spinning merry-go-round. The grid operator’s goal is to keep the grid’s electrical frequency constant, or to keep the merry-go-round in our analogy spinning at a constant speed. To increase the speed of the merry-go-round, the grid operator can order generators to increase their power output—or literally increase the torque on their spinning turbine shafts to “push” the grid up to speed. Electricity withdrawn from the grid by customers slows down the merry-go-round in our analogy, decreasing the grid’s electrical frequency. The inertia of the merry-go-round—or its tendency to stay in motion—is determined by the mass and momentum of all of the spinning turbines and generators feeding power into the grid. The job of the grid operator is to keep the whole system in balance by regulating the flow of power into the grid. The job of the grid operator is to keep the whole system in balance by regulating the flow of power into the grid so that it always matches electric load.

The grid’s alternating current varies like a sine wave. The frequency of this wave is controlled by all of the spinning generators feeding power into the grid. The grid operator controls the output of each generator to maintain a specified electrical frequency, e.g. 60 Hertz in the United States. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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Ok, I’m a little slow getting this together, but it seems to be getting some traction.
So I get this email from Jason Box, basically throwing down a gauntlet and challenging my all-around manliness if I don’t follow his example in doing something stupid.

Well, that wouldn’t be the first time. Ok, I’ll bite.

Jason challenged me, as well as Dana Nuccitelli of the Guardian and John Cook of Skeptical Science to dump icy water on our heads – while mumbling some weak Euro-trash excuse about why he doesn’t actually have any ice in his bucket.

I’ve been pretty busy, but managed finally to put a response together, and here it is.

So, while I’ve been putting this together, Dana responded smartly, a few days ago, himself challenging Mike Mann, Katharine Hayhoe, and Kevin Cowtan to take up the bucket.

John Cook is still MIA, citing his being in England, where its much too cold for an Aussie to engage in chilly activities. I think he’ll come around.


And now we have a response to Dana from Scientist Kevin Cowtan – below Read the rest of this entry »

Above – reposting, first Greenland 2014 piece from last week.

After unpacking a few clean clothes, grabbing long showers, and sharing a few moderate adult beverages, Jason Box and I eased back into the media sphere, after almost 2 weeks on the Greenland sheet. Robin Williams was dead. That hit us both at the same time. I checked email. Jason checked twitter. And took on a startled look.

An unusually blunt statement from usually soft spoken Box had gone viral.

Brian Merchant had a piece on Motherboard, here’s part of it:

This week, scientists made a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean: They saw “vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor,” as the Stockholm University put it in a release disclosing the observations. The plume of methane—a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat more powerfully than carbon dioxide, the chief driver of climate change—was unsettling to the scientists.

But it was even more unnerving to Dr. Jason Box, a widely published climatologist who had been following the expedition. As I was digging into the new development, I stumbled upon his tweet, which, coming from a scientist, was downright chilling:


Box, who is currently a professor of glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, has been studying the Arctic for decades. His accolade-packed Wikipedia page notes that he’s made some 20 expeditions to the Arctic since 1994, and served as the lead author on the Greenland section of NOAA’s State of the Climate report from 2008-2012. He also runs the Dark Snow project and writes about the latest findings in the field at his blog, Meltfactor.

In other words, Box knows the Arctic, and he knows climate change—and the methane plumes had him blitzed enough to bring out the F bombs.

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One of the tasks of the Texas State Board of Education is to update curriculum standards and textbooks for Texas schoolchildren. The Texas school system is so large — 4.8 million textbook-reading schoolchildren as of 2011 — that revisions made by the board are often included in school books across the country, though digital technology has lessened this effect in recent years. In 2010, the board got a lot of attention when it approved over 100 amendments — many of which had a very clear conservative political agenda — to the social studies and economics curriculum standards. Here are some of the more pointed proposals.

Thomas Who?
Thomas Jefferson, the Founding Father considered by many to be the author of the Declaration of Independence, is also credited with coining the phrase “separation of church and state.” According to The New York Times, that coinage didn’t make him very popular with the conservative members of the board. They removed Jefferson from a list of great Enlightenment philosophers — including John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu and Jean Jacques Rousseau — who inspired political revolutions from the 1700s to today. They also removed the word “Enlightenment” and added Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. After much criticism, they added Jefferson back, but left out “Enlightenment” resulting in a standard very different from the original.

National Journal:

 Texas Board of Education member David Bradley wants to set the record straight on global warming.

“Whether global warming is a myth or whether it’s actually happening, that’s very much up for debate,” Bradley said. “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.”

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What does Elon Musk know that others don’t?


Last week, Tesla released sketches of the future plant. It’s powered by renewable energy andshaped like a diamond. So why has Musk designed a gigafactory to produce batteries for half a million cars a year (twice the number that’s been put on the road by all companies combined)? Because it’s increasingly looking necessary.

Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache last month increased his estimate for sales of the Model S and Model X to 129,000 units in 2017, from a previously estimated 83,000. Tesla can reach its 500,000 annual run rate before the end of the decade, Lache said, in time to put the gigafactory to full use.

Tesla’s growth will be “much steeper, their mix will be much richer, and their costs will ultimately be much lower than we previously assumed,” Lache wrote in a report on Aug. 11.

This doesn’t mean you should rush out and buy Tesla stock. Just 11 out of 20 analysts tracked by Bloomberg give the company a “buy” rating, and the stock price is 261 times estimated earnings, compared with a 12.5 estimated P/E for Ford Motor Co. Even Musk admitted last week that the stock price is “kind of high” right now.

Still, it’s easy to get caught up in Musk’s vision for the future of cars. Defying skeptics, Musk has established the biggest U.S. solar company by market value, built a private space companythat’s making deliveries to the International Space Station, and has conjured a $35 billion car company out of thin air.

Now the dude’s got diamonds in his eyes.


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