November 30, 2011
November 30, 2011
People of faith are key targets for anti-science disinformation. The formula that “God is in Control” is a powerful one.
I believe we are at our own “Copernican crisis”. Many people of faith find it blasphemous or even terrifying to believe that human beings have as much impact on the planet as science tells us we do. They want to believe that somehow everything that happens is beyond our control, part of a master plan.
They would not likely take that position on the micro scale, with their personal finances, or the health of their children, yet they seem to believe that it works on the macro scale.
So it seems that we have a climate denial machine that is ready to lie to achieve its aims, and a vulnerable population who are willing to be lied to. It’s been a sticky problem.
I posted Katherine Hayhoe’s first video, “Can a Christian be a Climate Scientist?”, last week. Here are further elaborations of what the science is telling a devout evangelical.
Andrew Farley, a linguistics professor and lead teaching pastor, is married to Katharine Hayhoe, research professor in geosciences at Texas Tech University. Together they wrote a book, “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.” Questions they hear from their flock are these:
Isn’t God in control?
Won’t it all work out?
How do we know this is not a natural cycle?
Farley reminds them, “You reap what you sow.” God doesn’t preserve us from poor lifestyle choices. Eat junk food, and you get fat. Pour warming gases into the air, and the planet heats up. God calls that free will, and it’s actually a gift.
November 30, 2011
Since I used some Ugly Duckling in a recent video, I’ve been looking for, and finally found, this one.
November 29, 2011
It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination. Look at the American cities that are considered the most dynamic, exciting, and alluring, especially to the talented young professionals that every region seeks to attract. They all have been working hard to create alternatives to auto-based transport, to grow pedestrian friendly, human scale neighborhoods, and downtowns that offer something of a refuge from the traffic-choked aggravation that we’ve associated with city centers for generations now.
Add in the tight social networking of a new generation raised on the internet, the increasing availability of hybrid/electric cars, and you can understand why Exxon now predicts that gasoline use in the US has already peaked.
Recent research suggests many young Americans prefer to spend their money and time chatting to their friends online, as opposed to the more traditional pastime of cruising around in cars.
But with money tight in many households, and the cost of gas and insurance soaring, some youngsters are having to choose between buying a car and owning the latest smartphone or tablet.
In a survey to be published later this year by Gartner, 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would choose internet access over owning their own car. The figure was 15% among the baby boom generation that grew up in the 1950s and 60s – seen as the golden age of American motoring.
November 29, 2011
Gasoline is not the only 19th century energy source that’s peaking right now…
Coal provides nearly one-quarter of the total energy consumed in the U.S., and by Mr. Warholic’s estimate, the country has enough in the ground to last about 240 years. A belief in this nearly boundless supply has led officials to dub the U.S. the “Saudi Arabia of Coal.”
But the estimate, recent findings show, may be wildly overconfident.
While there is almost certainly as much coal in the ground as Mr. Warholic’s Energy Information Administration believes, relatively little of it can be profitably extracted. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey completed an extensive analysis of Wyoming’s Gillette coal field, the nation’s largest and most productive, and determined that less than 6% of the coal in its biggest beds could be mined profitably, even at prices higher than today’s.
“We really can’t say we’re the Saudi Arabia of coal anymore,” says Brenda Pierce, head of the USGS team that conducted the study.
Longer presentation by Glustrom below.
November 29, 2011
Standing on the shores of Netarts Bay in Oregon on a sunny fall morning, it’s hard to imagine that the fate of the oysters being raised here at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery is being determined by what came out of smokestacks and tailpipes in the 1960s and ‘70s. But this rural coastal spot and the shellfish it has nurtured for centuries are a bellwether of one of the most palpable changes being caused by global carbon dioxide emissions —ocean acidification.
It was here, from 2006 to 2008, that oyster larvae began dying dramatically, with hatchery owners Mark Wiegardt and his wife, Sue Cudd, experiencing larvae losses of 70 to 80 percent. “Historically we’ve had larvae mortalities,” says Wiegardt, but those deaths were usually related to bacteria. After spending thousands of dollars to disinfect and filter out pathogens, the hatchery’s oyster larvae were still dying.
Finally, the couple enlisted the help of Burke Hales, a biogeochemist and ocean ecologist at Oregon State University. He soon homed in on the carbon chemistry of the water. “My wife sent a few samples in and Hales said someone had screwed up the samples because the [dissolved CO2 gas] level was so ridiculously high,” says Wiegardt, a fourth-generation oyster farmer. But the measurements were accurate. What the Whiskey Creek hatchery was experiencing was acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air.
Ocean acidification — which makes it difficult for shellfish, corals, sea urchins, and other creatures to form the shells or calcium-based structures they need to live — was supposed to be a problem of the future. But because of patterns of ocean circulation, Pacific Northwest shellfish are already on the front lines of these potentially devastating changes in ocean chemistry. Colder, more acidic waters are welling up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and streaming ashore in the fjords, bays, and estuaries of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, exacting an environmental and economic toll on the region’s famed oysters.
For the past six years, wild oysters in Willapa Bay, Washington, have failed to reproduce successfully because corrosive waters have prevented oyster larvae from forming shells. Wild oysters in Puget Sound and off the east coast of Vancouver Island also have experienced reproductive failure because of acidic waters. Other wild oyster beds in the Pacific Northwest have sustained losses in recent years at the same time that scientists have been measuring alarmingly corrosive water along the Pacific coast.
November 28, 2011
The end-Permian extinction occurred 252.2 million years ago, decimating 90 percent of marine and terrestrial species, from snails and small crustaceans to early forms of lizards and amphibians. “The Great Dying,” as it’s now known, was the most severe mass extinction in Earth’s history, and is probably the closest life has come to being completely extinguished. Possible causes include immense volcanic eruptions, rapid depletion of oxygen in the oceans, and — an unlikely option — an asteroid collision.
While the causes of this global catastrophe are unknown, an MIT-led team of researchers has now established that the end-Permian extinction was extremely rapid, triggering massive die-outs both in the oceans and on land in less than 20,000 years — the blink of an eye in geologic time. The researchers also found that this time period coincides with a massive buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which likely triggered the simultaneous collapse of species in the oceans and on land.
With further calculations, the group found that the average rate at which carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere during the end-Permian extinction was slightly below today’s rate of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel emissions. Over tens of thousands of years, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the Permian period likely triggered severe global warming, accelerating species extinctions.
The researchers also discovered evidence of simultaneous and widespread wildfires that may have added to end-Permian global warming, triggering what they deem “catastrophic” soil erosion and making environments extremely arid and inhospitable.
November 28, 2011
Several staff members and officials from Mount Pleasant traveled to Fond du Lac County on Fri., Nov. 11, 2011 to put wind turbines to the test. Residents were also invited, but were unable to make the trip.
They were interested in measuring the noise levels of wind turbines similar to those proposed by SC Johnson for their Waxdale plant. The Brownsville, WI, location features 86 wind turbines over 12 square miles, at least one of which sits less than 500 feet from a landowner who leases his land for the turbines.
According to Planning Director Ron Meyer, measurements were taken at 800 and 1,200 feet away from a geared turbine. The SCJ turbines would be gearless and probably quieter.
“At 800 feet, measurements came in at 46 – 47 decibels, and at 1,200 feet it was less than 40 decibels, ” he said. By comparison, Meyer said a passing car on the paved road came in at 62 decibels. “The readings could be on the higher side as the corn stubble and hedge row created ambient noise.”
Since Waxdale is located in a mixed use neighborhood of residential, commercial and industrial development, it’s not unreasonable to think most of the surrounding area would muffle the noise from the turning blades.
SCJ is proposing two or three wind turbines of between 300 and 400 feet tall to generate some of the electricity needed to power the Waxdale plant. Predicted to produce about 15 percent of the total energy needed, the turbines are part of SCJ’s plan to generate 100 percent of Waxdale’s energy needs on-site with 60 percent coming from renewable energy sources.
At a public hearing on Oct. 18, Mount Pleasant residents listened to a presentation from SC Johnson officials. Tom Joy from Mount Pleasant and Paul Kocourek from Sturtevant both expressed concerns about the turbines on several levels: noise, sun flicker, aesthetics, property values and deaths of flying wildlife.
“I wish residents could have made the trip,” said Trustee Gary Feest. “I think a lot of their fears would have been put to rest.”
November 27, 2011
November 25, 2011
Worth going to the original to take a look. This is the evolving template for how the mainstream media is approaching the new climate science emails posted on an obscure Russian server this week – that is, handling this demonstrated bogus meme with rubber gloves, hazard precautions, and nose clothespins.
Following the publication this week of 5,000 hacked climate emails, we look at what was happening in those exchanges.
(Stolen email snippets in italics – PS)
“Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous.”
• Peter Thorne, research scientist, Met Office Hadley Centre, to Phil Jones, UEA, 4 February 2005 (email 1939)
Thorne’s email repeatedly criticises the then-current draft of a report for the US Climate Change Science Programme (CCSP, now the Global Change Research Program) for over-simplifying or even dismissing the uncertainty about temperature rises in the atmosphere. This reflects badly on the authors, but also demonstrates that there are climate scientists who are critical of ignoring contradictory evidence and are not afraid to speak their minds. As urged by Thorne, the final report said: “The new evidence in this Report – model-to-model consistency of amplification results, the large uncertainties in observed tropospheric temperature trends, and independent physical evidence supporting substantial tropospheric warming (such as the increasing height of the tropopause) – favors the second explanation. However, the large observational uncertainties that currently exist make it difficult to determine whether or not models still have significant errors. Resolution of this issue requires reducing these uncertainties.”
“Getting people we know and trust [into the IPCC report team] is vital.”
• Phil Jones, UEA, to Kevin Trenberth, NCAR, 15 September 2004 (email 714)
In an earlier email in the thread, Jones refers to two scientists he does not “trust”. He does not say why, but does not say because he does not agree with them. He and Trenberth discuss a huge range of names as possible contributors, from several countries, and are keen to widen the net.
“Mike, the figure you sent is very deceptive … there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC.”
• Tom Wigley, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, US, to Michael Mann, Penn State University, US, and others, 14 October 2009 (email 2884)
Wigley is referring to a graph on the Real Climate blog by climate scientist Gavin Schmidt. On Wednesday Schmidt responded, again on the blog, saying he “disagreed (and disagree) with Wigley”, and replied at the time to say so. The general allegation about dishonest presentations is uncomfortable, but these are often scientifically difficult judgements, and are being argued out.
“The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guide what’s included and what is left out.”
• Jonathan Overpeck, University of Arizona, to Ricardo Villalba, IANIGLA-CONICET, Argentina, 16 December 2004 (email 4755)
Overpeck is advising Villalba on how to edit something down to a half-page summary, in which context his advice looks less conspiratorial. Notably, he goes on immediately to say: “For the IPCC, we need to know what is relevant and useful for assessing recent and future climate change. Moreover, we have to have solid data – not inconclusive information.”
“I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro-greenhouse zealot here!”
• Keith Briffa, UEA, to Edward Cook (probably Edward R Cook at the Earth Institute, Columbia University), 20 January 2005 (email 2009)
Briffa explained to the Guardian: “I am trying to reinforce the request to my co-author to provide a strongly critical review of the draft text. I believed that I had taken account of the considerable uncertainties in the evidence when producing the draft and still came to the conclusion that the late 20th century was unusually warm.” This explanation is backed up by the email thread, in which he writes: “Really happy to get critical comment here.” Not in keeping with the idea that the scientists were only interested in opinions that agreed with theirs.
Waspishly, Briffa does also suggest however that another climate scientist, Kevin Trenberth, is “extremely defensive and combative when ever criticized about anything because he figures that he is smarter than everyone else and virtually infallible.” That does not make Trenberth unique!
There’s more here – and there will eventually be a point by point contextualizing of the most widely bandied missives. The most important take away on this is that the press, still peeling egg off its face for the embarrassing performance last time around, is taking a much more measured, even bored, approach with this new scam.
“Climategate” has become the “WMD” of the climate denial movement. There will always be the die hards that insist there really was something there. The rest of us have moved on.