There’s good news and bad news..




The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that needs to pass this week to avert a government shutdown increases spending on clean energy and keeps the Environmental Protection Agency funded at current levels.

That’s despite the White House suggestion that Congress cut EPA’s budget by one-thirdand make drastic reductions in clean energy research.

Tarak Shah, a former chief of staff in the science and energy office at the US Department of Energy, told Vox the bill was an “utter repudiation of the Trump budget!”

The EPA will keep its $8.1 billion budget with a few changes, including $66 million allocated toward the Superfund program for cleaning up highly contaminated sites.

The Department of Energy’s high-risk, high-reward research incubator, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, can also breathe easy. Trump’s budget proposal recommended eliminating the popular program, but Congress gave it a $47 million boost up to $353 million.

The DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, which the White House wanted to gut by $1.3 billion, also got a 15 percent increase to a new total of $2.3 billion.

There are also a few strange energy-related riders: The bill declares biomass as a carbon-neutral energy source, though scientists are still debating whether that’s the case. Livestock producers are permanently exempted from the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, killing any efforts to keep them in check.

On balance, the spending bill (if it passes) signals that while the Trump administration is desperate to save American coal and eliminate environmental regulations, lawmakers from both parties still think that protecting the environment is a high priority and that clean energy is a worthwhile endeavor.

Federal agencies, however, have some discretion in how they spend the money Congress gives them, and some departments are dragging their feet when it comes to doing the work they’re supposed to do.

We’re already seeing grant applications and research programs being screened for references to climate change at the EPA, the DOE, and the Department of the Interior. The EPA has seen a decline in enforcement of rules against polluters, and lawmakers have complained that programs like ARPA-E have delayed or not issued the funding that they’re required to provide.

Washington Examiner:

Congress on Wednesday night released a fiscal 2018 spending bill that rejects Trump administration efforts to reduce funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department.

After President Trump threatened to make massive cuts to the EPA budget, Congress decided to keep funding levels the same from fiscal 2017, at $8.1 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

Above, CEO of Shell – “my next buy is and electric car”.

Below, an extraordinary “day in court” for climate science.


SAN FRANCISCO — There were no test tubes or Bunsen burners, but a courtroom turned into a science classroom Wednesday for a U.S. judge considering lawsuits that accuse big oil companies of lying about the role of fossil fuels in the Earth’s warming environment.

Leading researchers taught U.S. District Judge William Alsup the basic science of climate change at the unusual court hearing after he asked lawyers for two California cities and five of the world’s largest oil and gas companies to present “the best science now available on global warming.”

He cautioned at the start of the hearing against expecting “fireworks” and said he wanted to avoid politics and “stick to the science.”

“This is a serious proposition to try to educate the judge,” Alsup said.

What he got at the end of the nearly five-hour hearing was a primer on the history of climate change research, carbon dioxide’s role as a greenhouse gas, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and extreme weather.

His teachers included Myles Allen, a professor at the University of Oxford who studies human influences on climate, and Don Wuebbles, an expert in atmospheric science at the University of Illinois who co-authored a 2017 U.S. government report on climate change.

An attorney for Chevron, Theodore Boutrous, also presented, saying the oil giant does not dispute the findings of an international panel of scientists that it is extremely likely people are the dominant cause of global warming since the mid-1900s.

But he pointed out how thinking about global warming has evolved and said the company does not agree with all proposals in place to deal with it.

“The notion that we know today of a dynamic changing climate is relatively new in human understanding,” he said.

Dana Nuccitelli in the Guardian:

In a California court case this week, Judge William Alsup asked the two sides to provide him a climate science tutorial.

The plaintiffs are the coastal cities of San Francisco and Oakland. They’re suing five major oil companies (Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips and BP) to pay for the cities’ costs to cope with the sea level rise caused by global warming. Chevron’s lawyer presented the science for the defense, and most notably, began by explicitly accepting the expert consensus on human-caused global warming, saying:

From Chevron’s perspective, there is no debate about the science of climate change

Deniers filed briefs in support of the defense, but they contradicted Chevron’s tutorial. For example, one brief filed by a group led by Christopher Monckton and Willie Soon began by stating, “The “consensus” about global warming is 0.3%, not 97%” (this is obviously incorrect). Another brief filed by William Happer, Steve Koonin, and Richard Lindzen argued that “It is not possible to tell how much of the modest recent warming can be ascribed to human influences.” Chevron and the IPCC disagree.

While it’s normal for climate deniers to deny the 97% expert consensus that humans are driving global warming, those submitting briefs on behalf of Big Oil were clearly not on the same page as its lawyer. Perhaps the oil companies should have sent the deniers a memo to stay out of this case. Clearly these groups are accustomed to denying climate science on the oil industry’s behalf.

Two-faced oil companies

The judge mandated that those submitting briefs detail their funding sources, and they listed a litany of oil companies and fossil fuel-funded think tanks. Among those listed by Monckton and Soon’s group were ExxonMobil, the Heartland Institute, and the Charles G. Koch Foundation. Among those listed by Happer, Koonin, and Lindzen were the Heritage Foundation, Peabody Coal, the Cato Institute, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

It’s a perfect example of the oil industry’s two-faced behavior. For decades their own scientists quietly published peer-reviewed research concluding that humans are causing global warming. That was the face we saw from Chevron’s lawyer. But at the same time, oil companies were funding contrarian scientists and think tanks to spread denial and doubt about that same science. That was the face revealed in the denier briefs.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s 1962 again.


It’s winter, 2018, in Iowa, five months after the last of the nuclear bombs detonated across megacities in northeast Asia, from Seoul to Tokyo to Shanghai. Radioactive fallout was the initial concern, but now something else is going awry: the weather.

American farmers accustomed to snow and cold during the winter would be forgiven for mistaking their corn and wheat fields for the Arctic tundra, as temperatures dip well below zero at night, and barely recover above 10 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, under a milky, leaden sky.

Forecasters say the corn and wheat harvest may be significantly shortened this year, and for the next several years. In fact, fears of a famine on an international scale are settling in.

This is what our world could look like just a few months to years after a regional nuclear war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula and spreads to include China and possibly Russia.

Whether from a deliberate strategy or a terrifying miscalculation, such a war could trigger a global climate catastrophe, experts warn, that is not being factored into leaders’ planning.

Such a war could cause the planet to cool by up to 10 degrees Celsius, or 18 degrees Fahrenheit, with larger regional swings and extremes, according to Owen Brian Toon, a scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The amount of cooling could be far lower, depending on whether the conflict were more limited in scope.

It’s not just national security experts who are horrified by Trump’s words. Trump’s rhetoric, and history of openly considering using nuclear weapons, is also concerning to climate scientists.

Two researchers, in particular, are taking note of the North Korean threat: Alan Robock, of Rutgers University, and Toon. Robock and Toon are modern day Cassandras, having warned for decades about the potentially ruinous climate change consequences of a nuclear war, most recently focusing on regional conflicts.

Robock has conducted much of the research into the idea of a nuclear winter, whereby a global thermonuclear war vaults so much smoke into the upper atmosphere to block out the sun for years afterwards, causing temperatures to plunge and killing off vital crops and plant and animal species.

Unlike the character from Greek mythology, they don’t make prophesies so much as publishing peer-reviewed scientific studies. But, like the mythical character, few have paid attention to their warnings.

Right now, both Robock and Toon are focused on the mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula, where a nuclear-armed dictatorship threatens to strike the U.S. or its allies, potentially igniting a regional nuclear war.

Robock says most people, including high-ranking defense officials, are unaware that a nuclear war occurring halfway around the world from the U.S. could seriously harm the homeland, by altering the climate.

A new little ice age

Simulations in the 1980s, he said, found that temperatures would plunge so far after a U.S.-Soviet nuclear war that high temperatures in the summer temperatures would stay below freezing worldwide.

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I took some heat for the above video from some who questioned whether  the slowdown of the North Atlantic current, discussed here, was still a live issue in climate science.  My take evolved, having heard from heavy hitting scientists like J.P. Steffensen,(above) and  Mike Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf and Jason Box (below) that a persistent “cold spot” in the North Atlantic was suggestive of a slowdown in the Atlantic Meriodonal Overturning Circulation (AMOC).

A continued slowdown of that current would divert warm ocean water from Northern Europe, with potentially severe consequences for agricultural production, among other impacts.


Global floods and extreme rainfall events have surged by more than 50% this decade, and are now occurring at a rate four times higher than in 1980, according to a new report.

Other extreme climatological events such as storms, droughts and heatwaves have increased by more than a third this decade and are being recorded twice as frequently as in 1980, the paper by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (Easac) says.

The paper, based partly on figures compiled by the German insurance company Munich Re, also shows that climate-related loss and damage events have risen by 92% since 2010.

Prof Michael Norton, Easac’s environmental programme director, said that greenhouse gas emissions were “fundamentally responsible for driving these changes”.

“Trends towards extremes are continuing,” he said. “People have experienced extreme weather already – big switches [between] warm and cold winters – but the frequency of these shifts may be changing.”

“Some of the underlying drivers of extreme weather which were speculative four years ago are now looking less speculative and [more like] credible hypotheses. That is the weakening of the Gulf Stream and the meandering behaviour of the jet stream.”

The Easac study, Extreme weather events in Europe: Preparing for climate change adaptation, looked at new data and models focused on a potential slowdown of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, due to an influx of freshwater from melted ice sheets in Greenland.

It was compiled by experts from 27 national science academies in the EU, Norway and Switzerland, although the data was not peer-reviewed.

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Above – “we’ve heard about cloud seeding, Chemtrails, these are all things”.
Well, actually only one of those is a thing, and probably not what crazy internet guy thinks.

There’s a “horseshoe theory” of politics, which states that the continuum of politics is not a straight line, but bent more like a horseshoe, meaning the two ends are closer to each other than they are to the center.
This was demonstrated again the other day when a DC City Council member blamed inclement weather on the machinations of Jewish Bankers.  Tongue and groove fit for crazy right, and crazy left.

None dare call it horseshit.

Washington Post:

A D.C. lawmaker responded to a brief snowfall Friday by publishing a video in which he espoused a conspiracy theory that Jewish financiers control the weather.

D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) posted the video to his official Facebook page at 7:21 a.m. as snow flurries were hitting the nation’s capital. The video, shot through the windshield of a car driving west on Interstate 695 through downtown Washington, shows snowy skies while White narrates.

“Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation,” he says. “And D.C. keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”


Horse what?

The Rothschilds are a famous European business dynasty descended from Mayer Amschel Rothschild, an 18th-century Jewish banker who lived in what is today Frankfurt, Germany. The family has repeatedly been subject over the years to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories alleging that they and other Jews clandestinely manipulate world events for their advantage.

In a video posted to YouTube this year titled “Kill Cities — Designed by Rothschild and Rockefeller: Resilient Cities Are Human Death Zones,” Internet commentator Deborah Tavares — a Northern California resident who argues, among other things, that climate change and wireless electricity meters are tools in a plot of global domination — calls the Resilient Cities program a “diabolical” effort to manipulate people.

“This a genocide program,” she says. “We are being moved now into what they call ‘resilient cities.’ And it’s important to get this word out, start looking it up: Resilient cities. Understand what this is: This is a plan brought in by Rothschild and Rockefeller.”

She adds, “We’re being categorized as lunatics, but we know that the weather is massively and completely, artificially controlled.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Above video outlines the problem.
I spend a lot of time pushing back on catastrophist notions that a “methane bomb” is going to wipe out humanity in coming decades.  Simply hard to find scientists who agree with that.

But we do have a problem, and it may be that the dimensions are poorly understood.
New study warns of possibly larger methane emissions from thawing permafrost. Important to caution not to fall in to the “one study syndrome” – science is a continuum, and in reading Chris Mooney’s Washpost piece, he makes it clear that current studies conflict on these issues.
Experts I have interviewed are stressing that the larger term of uncertainty in this equation is still the emissions decisions that humans make in coming years.

Washington Post:

For some time, scientists fearing the mass release of greenhouse gases from the carbon-rich, frozen soils of the Arctic have had at least one morsel of good news in their forecasts: They predicted most of the gas released would be carbon dioxide, which, though a greenhouse gas, drives warming more slowly than some other gases. Scientists obviously weren’t excited about more carbon dioxide emissions, but it was better than the alternative: methane, a shorter-lived but far harder-hitting gas that could cause faster bursts of warming.

Now even that silver lining is in doubt.

Research released Monday suggests that methane releases could be considerably more prevalent as Arctic permafrost thaws. The research finds that in waterlogged wetland soils, where oxygen is not prevalent, tiny microorganisms will produce a considerable volume of methane, a gas that doesn’t last in the air much more than a decade but has a warming effect many times that of carbon dioxide over a period of 100 years.

“What we can definitely say is that the importance of methane was underestimated until now in the carbon studies,” said Christian Knobloch, a researcher at Universität Hamburg in Germany and the lead author of the study, published in Nature Climate Change.

The divergent finding came after Knoblauch and his colleagues conducted a lengthy experiment, more than seven years long, monitoring patches of submerged and artificially warmed soil from Siberia in the laboratory, and gradually seeing sensitive methane-producing microorganisms become more prevalent over time.

Knoblauch contends that other studies have not examined waterlogged Arctic soils for as long, and he notes that in some cases it took three years or more for the methane-generating microorganisms to really get cranking.

“What we saw is that it takes a very long time until methane starts being produced, and the study that we did is really the first one which is so long,” Knoblauch said.

The research was conducted along with colleagues from several institutions in Germany, Sweden and Russia.

So much methane was produced in the experiment, the researchers calculated that the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from wet soils, or wetlands, will be higher than from drier soils, where carbon dioxide should indeed be the top gas released. This finding, if further confirmed, could reorient calculations of the overall potential of permafrost to worsen global warming over the coming century.

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