I supposedly have a “programmable thermostat” – but I still run around shifting it up and down, because I can no more program it than I could my old VCR. Kind of a sticking point for energy efficiency.

Washington Post Wonkblog:

Residential thermostats account for a staggering nine percent of all U.S. energy use. No wonder that according to the Department of Energy, leaving your thermostat set too high can lead to a much higher power bill — and conversely, setting it back when you’re away or asleep can lead to major savings. “You can save 5 percent to 15 percent a year on your heating bill — a savings of as much as 1 percent for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long,” reports the agency.

Given figures like these, energy gurus have long offered some seemingly simple advice: Get yourself a programmablethermostat, which lets you enter multiple timed heat settings, and so ought to make lowering your thermostat at the right time a cinch. It sounds like an energy saving dream — right?

Wrong. Much research suggests that many people just don’t understand how to use their thermostats — programmable or otherwise. Indeed, it has been estimated that only about 30 percent of homes actually have thermostats that can be programmed, despite the fact that this technology has been around for more than three decades. “Residential energy use (and savings) still depends largely on the settings of manual thermostats by the owners,” notes a recent study.

And even among the programmable thermostat owners, there’s reason to think that many or even most people aren’t using them correctly. A 2003 study conducted by thermostat-maker Carrier found that just 47 percent of programmable thermostats were actually in the “program” mode — in which, you know, they can actually be programmed.

Another video on new, no, really new, thermostat tech.

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Word getting around in the heartland. This is not going to stop any time soon.

Buffalo (NY) News:

While last week’s winter blast appears to be the freak offspring of a typhoon-blasted jet stream and a warm Lake Erie, it’s also part of a long-term pattern that shows no sign of changing.

Meteorologists and geographers say that lake-effect snows have increased as temperatures have warmed in recent decades. That means more bizarre early-season storms, though not necessarily as bad as last week’s, are likely in the future as the warming trend continues.

“The general notion is that, as the climate warms and the lakes hold their warmth longer into the fall, you’re going to see a lot more lake-effect snow until it’s too warm to have much snow,” said Mark Monmonier, distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University and the author of the 2012 book “Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows.”

Keep your shovels handy, though, because that breaking point – when lake-effect snow is replaced by lake-effect rain – likely won’t come until mid-century, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority said in its updated report on climate change in the state earlier this year.

For the next few decades, then, conditions will be increasingly ripe for the creation of winter white-outs, although meteorologists said most won’t be as bad as the one that buried South Buffalo and the Southtowns with snow piles that in some places were taller (or deeper) than many teen-age boys.


The Buffalo area waits for the floodwaters to rise.

They’re coming, that’s for certain.

But how high and how widespread, that’s another matter.

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Music Break: Tumbao Bravo

November 23, 2014

Cold and wet outside. This might help.
Detroit Jazzman Paul Vornhagen and his hot Afro-Cuban group. Saw these guys last night – Paul is an old friend. They are about as tight and professional group as you’ll find.

Oceans are the focus as warming seems to be in an accelerated phase, at least in terms of surface temperatures. Any claims about “slowdown” or “pause” no longer operative.


​Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the warmth along the North Pacific coast is very unusual.

“We’ve never seen this before. It’s beyond anyone’s experience and this is why it’s puzzling,” he said.


Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA’s ERSST dataset.

To further complicate the picture, Peterson says an El Niño warm water ocean current should arrive in about a month.

“We’ll have what we call a double whammy,” he said. “It’s already very warm up north, up here. If we get an extra push of super warm water from the tropics, we could possibly have a big disaster on our hands, ecologically speaking.”

Science Daily:

“The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands,” explains Timmermann.

He describes the events leading up to this upswing as follows: Sea-surface temperatures started to rise unusually quickly in the extratropical North Pacific already in January 2014. A few months later, in April and May, westerly winds pushed a huge amount of very warm water usually stored in the western Pacific along the equator to the eastern Pacific. This warm water has spread along the North American Pacific coast, releasing into the atmosphere enormous amounts of heat–heat that had been locked up in the Western tropical Pacific for nearly a decade.

“Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska,” says Timmermann.

The current record-breaking temperatures indicate that the 14-year-long pause in ocean warming has come to an end.

And, it’s not just the Pacific. Read the rest of this entry »

Bill Nye on SnowVember

November 22, 2014

I interviewed Marc Morano, one of the country’s most visible climate denial operatives, at the 2012 Heartland Institute Denia Palooza conference in Chicago.

Might be worth reviewing, as Morano was formerly a key operative and associate of Senator James Inhofe, who will be taking control of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in a few weeks.

Morano was amazingly forthcoming in the interview. In fact, I could hardly shut him up.  I’ve heard that there will be some pretty revealing footage of Mr. Morano in the upcoming “Merchants of Doubt”, which will focus on the parallels between fossil funded climate denial, and tobacco science denial. Clip here.

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Been reading about this all week, someone sent it to me yesterday, and, damn – it’s pretty hypnotic. In a terra-frying sort of way.


An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe.

Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.

The carbon dioxide visualization was produced by a computer model called GEOS-5, created by scientists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.

The visualization is a product of a simulation called a “Nature Run.” The Nature Run ingests real data on atmospheric conditions and the emission of greenhouse gases and both natural and man-made particulates. The model is then left to run on its own and simulate the natural behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere. This Nature Run simulates January 2006 through December 2006.

While Goddard scientists worked with a “beta” version of the Nature Run internally for several years, they released this updated, improved version to the scientific community for the first time in the fall of 2014.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11719

Meanwhile, progress being made on climate modeling as well.


High-resolution simulations of the global climate can now perform much closer to actual observations, and they perform far better at reproducing extreme weather events, a new Berkeley Lab study has found. Lead author Michael Wehner heralds this news as evidence of a golden age in climate modeling, as not only did the simulation closer match reality but it also took a fraction as long to complete as it would have in recent history – just three months compared to several years.

“These kinds of calculations have gone from basically intractable to heroic to now doable,” Wehner said. “I’ve literally waited my entire career to be able to do these simulations.”

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