PBS Newshour interviews WeatherUnderground’s Jeff Masters on this year’s extreme events.

“Occupy Coal” in China

December 30, 2011

Tens of thousands of protesters block roads to protest construction of coal power plants.

This is not unrelated to the Keystone protests we have seen in America. Look for more of this as the planet’s  population continues to wake up to the realities of climate change.


Climate, Sun, and Cosmic Rays

December 22, 2011

Been working on this for a while, and got the final piece in an interview with Gavin Schmidt at the American Geophysical Union convention early this month. (see that whole  – brief – interview on this page)

The “cosmic ray – climate” connection is a perrenial favorite on the denial circuit.  It sounds cool, and there is some effect at the tiny level, too tiny to matter.

As far as effects on climate – it’s probably more likely that cosmic rays will make you super-strong, invisible, or really, really stretchy – than it is that they have a ruling effect on climate.

See full Gavin Schmidt interview, and  Potholer’s Useful take below…

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Don Shelby in the Minnesota Post:

One of the world’s most famous climate scientists, Dr. Michael Mann at the University of Pennsylvania, communicated often with Dr. Jones at East Anglia. In the original reporting, Mann was often quoted, misquoted and taken out of context. Though the investigations have found he did nothing wrong, climategate has nevertheless hurt him.

Mann told me that the people who can’t abide the idea of global warming being true “have no legitimate scientific leg to stand on.  So, they have turned to criminal acts in an attempt to distract the public and policymakers.” Dr. Mann is convinced that the criminal act shows the work of “industry-funded front groups and the individuals who do their bidding.”

The question is whether this can be characterized as a simple cybercrime — or are there elements of cyber-terrorism involved? Bombing a building is an act of terrorism, but it is not the goal.  The goal, according to experts, is to terrorize, immobilize and destroy one’s sense of security.

So I turned to one of the most respected cyber-terrorism experts in the country, Bruce Schneier.  Schneier has been called to testify before Congress. He is the author of eight books on the subjects of cryptography, warfare, crime and terrorism committed by cyber-criminals.

Schneier told me: “What I’ve been thinking about is whether the hack was intended to intimidate, threaten or bully. Then the crime becomes an effort to stop people from doing legitimate research. So, it is not just a data theft, but has a goal of creating a chilling effect, a threat, an intimidation.”

Schneier understands the cyber world, but also the law of unintended consequences. “We are moving into a world in which everything we do is persistent,” said Schneier.  By persistent, Schneier means it just doesn’t go away. “A phone conversation is actually archaic,” he said.  “Today the conversation is by email or social media and those conversations are persistent.”

If everything we say never goes away, it can be brought back and used to harm us. “Gotcha politics is a good example,” Schneier says. “Record everything a politician says and find the two sentences he or she uttered to destroy them.”

He quotes Cardinal Richelieu, “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”

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Spurred by the looming energy crisis, Nathan Lewis and Sossina Haile are working to invent a new kind of fuel that uses the sun to power the planet. They are attempting to produce a prototype for a truly alternative fuel source — an artificial leaf that emulates natural photosynthesis, converting solar energy into a usable, clean chemical fuel.


Nate Lewis, the George L. Argyros Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, works to develop new technologies to meet the immense energy needs of the future in a sustainable way. Lewis specializes in what’s called artificial photosynthesis. In nature, photosynthesis is the process plants use to make food from the sun’s energy. Dr. Lewis works to mimic that process. Using special materials, he builds tiny cells that – when hit by light, and surrounded by water – create hydrogen fuel. Hydrogen burns “clean.” That is, it doesn’t produce carbon dioxide (CO2) when it’s combusted. This podcast is part of the Thanks To Chemistry series, produced in cooperation with the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Generous sponsorship support was provided by the BASF Corporation. Additional production support was provided by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, DuPont, and ExxonMobil. Nate Lewis spoke with EarthSky’s Beth Lebwohl.

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What could possibly be new in bikes?

Well, there’s a revolution going on, but even if you listen to nothing else, skip to the bamboo bike at the end…

Washington Post:

On Friday night, the compact but deadly tropical storm Washi swept across the central and southern Philippines killing hundreds. According to CNN, death toll counts range from 713 to 927. In addition, scores of people are unaccounted for and thousands homeless.

Although Washi was not an especially intense storm with peak winds of just 45-55 mph, the torrential rains and resulting mudslides caught the especially vulnerable region offguard, as Wunderground’s Jeff Masters explains:

…since the rains fell on regions where the natural forest had been illegally logged or converted to pineapple plantations, the heavy rains were able to run off quickly on the relatively barren soils and create devastating flash floods. Since the storm hit in the middle of the night, and affected an unprepared population that had no flood warning system in place, the death toll was tragically high.

The Inquirer:

The tragedy that struck the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan was an event waiting to happen. It was foretold three years ago, but was dismissed by lawmakers as “too alarmist.”

Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, chief executive of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF), said Monday the events in Northern Mindanao over the weekend mirrored the prediction. “It was an exact fit,” Tan said.

Environmentalists said a simulation of the effects of extreme weather events from climate change such as saltwater intrusion, sea level rise and intense tropical cyclones, showed that major Philippine cities, including Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, were at risk of massive flooding.

The simulation of the effects of extreme weather phenomena was drafted in 2009 by the Philippine Imperative for Climate Change (PICC), WWF and Filipino scientists.

“At best, this might provide a very rough indicator of areas that may be more vulnerable to sea level rise, storm surge, saltwater intrusion or a combination thereof,” the group’s presentation said.

Nereus Acosta, who headed the PICC and currently serves as the presidential adviser for environment, said the simulation showed that the coastal cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in Northern Mindanao would be ravaged by massive floods from the overflow of river basins and sea level increase.

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Activist Crashes Petro-Party

December 21, 2011

Greenpeace USA:

Recently, Greenpeace got a rare look behind the curtain at how Big Oil stages citizen support for huge oil companies, when activists got inside a TV commercial shoot in Washington DC. TheAmerican Petroleum Institute (API), and their PR firm Edelman, were filming a new series of TV commercials that we learned API plans to air nationally on CNN starting in January. The ads, aimed at the 2012 elections, will aim to demonstrate authentic citizen support for the oil industry’s agenda.

Greenpeace disrupted API’s astroturf commercial plans by not following instructions and going off script, declaring support for a clean energy future and demanding an end political interference by the oil industry’s lobbyists and PR firms.

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Cameras vs Keystone

December 21, 2011

Wonder why Canada has pulled out of the international climate process and is heading toward global carbon pariah status?

Of course you don’t. It’s all about the Tar Sands.

A number of journalists and film makers have turned their lenses on this problem in the remote reaches of the northern boreal forest – now becoming the “new Saudi Arabia” – the mother of all exotic fossil fuel schemes.

Good mini-seminar on the problem.
You watch youtube, you learn something.

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