The latest climate scientist to come under fire from the climate denial extreme is Katharine Hayhoe, Atmospheric Scientist at Texas Tech University.

After coming into the public eye as the author of proposed chapter on climate change for GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s forthcoming book, Hayhoe had her name and email contact published by the ever-cuddly Marc “climate scientists should be flogged” Morano, grand Wazir of the Sharia school of Climate denial.

Steve Valk, HuffingtonPost: 

The climate deniers are kicking puppies now.

That was my reaction when I heard that Katharine Hayhoe was being deluged with hate mail after stories surfaced that she had written a chapter on climate change for Newt Gingrich’s upcoming book, a chapter quickly dropped when conservative commentators began making a big fuss about it. Similar attacks have been leveled against MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel following his speech at a forum for Republicans concerned about climate change. The “frenzy of hate” he’s received include threats to his wife.

Anyone who has ever listened to Hayhoe would be as sickened as I was over the vitriolic attacks she has endured in the past week. Being both a climate scientist and an evangelical Christian, Hayhoe speaks to faith communities, explaining the science of climate change in easy-to-understand language and also offering the spiritual perspective on global warming: What would Jesus do about climate change?

I had the privilege to interview Dr. Hayhoe this past weekend at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, where the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise was conducting a workshop and Town Hall meeting entitled “Cures for Climate Confusion”. (web video of the public Town Hall meeting here)

I wish to thank the organizers, Andy Hoffman of the Erb Institute, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, for graciously, and inexplicably, welcoming me when I arrived somewhat, uhm, unexpectedly, to the gathering.

More on Medieval enthusiast Marc Morano below:

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Nine of the top ten warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000. Last year was another one of them, coming in at 9th warmest since 1880.

The map above shows temperature anomalies, or changes, by region in 2011; it does not depict absolute temperature. Essentially, the map shows how much warmer or cooler each region was in 2011 compared with an averaged “base period” from 1951–1980. The line plot shows yearly temperature variations (from the base period average) for every year from 1880 to now. (For more explanation of how the analysis works, read World of Change: Global Temperatures.)

On January 19, 2012, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released their annual analysis of global temperatures, noting that Earth’s land and ocean surfaces continue to experience higher temperatures than several decades ago. The global average temperature for 2011 was 0.92 degrees Fahrenheit (0.51 Celsius) higher than the mid-20th century baseline.

“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting,” said GISS director James Hansen. “So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Niña influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the ten warmest years on record.”

It is important to note that during La Nina years like the current one, although the planet continues to absorb more heat than it emits, cool waters upwelling in the Pacific suck a lot of that heat out of the atmosphere – affecting weather around the globe, and causing thermometer readings to dip.  This year was, however, the warmest la nina year in the record, as the graph below (from NOAA) shows.


Despite a strong La Nina event cooling the Pacific Ocean, 2011 was about the 10th hottest year on record, scientists have found. “It’s clear over time the El Niño years tend to be the warmer years and the La Niña years tend to be the cooler years,” said Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. “This year the La Niña-related temperatures for 2011 were as warm as anything we’ve seen in the past, very close to the year 2008.” Every year since 1976 has been warmer than average, according to NOAA. While 2011 was the coolest year in the 21st century, it was tied with the second-warmest year of the 20th century, notes Climate Central’s Andrew Freedman.

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The Storms of January

January 23, 2012

Last night we enjoyed once again a new sign of the season in the upper midwest, the January thunderstorm. It used to be that we could rely on snow in the winter, with our annual spring flood in March as the melt water surged down rivers and streams. In recent years, the flooding comes 2, 3, 4 times a year, as snowfall is followed by repeated midwinter thaws and melts.

Changes in rainfall and the hydrological cycle are, of course, one of the most well documented and noticeable effects of global climate change, as the graph above from NOAA indicates.

A corollary of this change is the increase, as documented by giant insurance companies like Munich Re, in damaging extreme events. The graph below shows the increase in such events in China.

See Below for an analogous trend documented for India.

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I know, its early in the week for break, but this is worth the time. Warm up your coffee.


Alabama blues musician Doctor G B Burt began his career at the age of 71, when he was discovered by a music producer whose van he was fixing.

Since then, Mr Burt has performed in prestigious venues such as the Lincoln Center in New York City, and abroad in Australia, France and Germany.

Before playing on stage he spent time as a golden glove boxer, a Ford auto line worker, an auto mechanic and a civil rights activist.

During the 1960s the 7ft-tall guitarist was shot five times while walking along a railroad track. He says it was he who ended up spending five years in jail because his assailant was white.

Still, Mr Burt plays a gentle guitar and explains why the “rough side, not the slick side of the mountain” is actually the best one in life.

The Plum Line  – Washington Post:

Republicans are already blasting Obama for failing to stand up to his base — environmentalists had organized aggressively against the decision, and deserve tremendous credit for helping to make this outcome happen. Whether or not a fear of the base drove this decision, Obama did stand up to his Republican opponents.

When Congressional GOP leaders initially tied the Keystone approval decision to the debate over whether to extend the payroll tax cut, Republicans — and some neutral commentators, too — confidently predicted that Obama would not be able to oppose the pipeline, because he would be nixing jobs heading into an election year. It didn’t matter that an independent study cast doubt on how many jobs the probject would create; this was seen as a sure loser for the president.

But even some proponents of the project say that by attempting to box Obama in, Republicans ended up making it more likely that the Presient would call the GOP bluff and shoot down the project, the political consequences be damned. As John Engler, a pipeline backer and former Michigan governor who is now head of the Business Roundtable, put it last week: “No chief executive likes to be painted into a corner by anybody.”

The politics of this going forward are murky. Republicans will hammer Obama relentlessly as a “job killer” who puts the whims of pointy-headed greenies before the interests of the American worker. One question is whether the media will uncritically report on the GOP’s argument without pointing to doubts about the number of jobs the pipeline would have created, and without noting the larger context, which is that Republicans have opposed virtually every job-creation policy Obama has proposed in the last year. Also: Will the fact that the state department warned that it could be forced to reject the pipeline if Republicans insisted on an expedited decision vanish down the memory hole?

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John DeCicco, Professor of Practice at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and Research Professor at the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute at University of Michigan, is a nationally known expert on green cars. He visited the North American Auto Show in Detroit in January 2012 and evaluated various alternative fuel vehicles, recommending the “greenest” choices for consumers.

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There is no doubt in the mind of major reinsurance company Munich Re that climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of extreme weather events and that this will have a major impact on the insurance industry.

And just maybe, where the science has not been able to make an impact on the world taking action on climate change, just maybe money and insurance premiums ( or lack thereof ) might get the point across.

One of my little life rules is to listen to people who are smarter than I am.
Insurers employ some of the world’s smartest people to figure out what bets to make on what’s going to happen, or not happen, in the future. They have to get it right, because, if they don’t, they make a lot of bad bets, and go out of business.
Early on, in the 1990s, larger insurance companies, re-insurer giants like Munich Re, – the insurance companies that insure insurance companies – recognized that climate change was an existential threat to their business model.

The standard climate denier response is that

a) disasters are costing more because more people live in desirable areas where disasters occur, so individual events are more costly.

b) Greedy insurance companies are using the nonexistent threat of climate change to overcharge hapless consumers. (funny how free market tea baggers can turn on a dime and blame the damn capitalists)

The  problem with “a” is – if true, we should be seeing an increase in disaster costs across the board, as much from say, earthquakes, as from extreme weather – – as noted below.
But that’s not what we see. It is extreme weather events that are exacting the rising toll, exactly as predicted by scientists.

Moreover, the fact is, I believe in markets, and what they tell us. I believe in markets much more than the climate denialists who claim to revere the market system. If evil companies want to charge you more for nonexistent threats to your beach house – the market will soon bring us groups of equally smart actuarial experts who will come in and undercut those prices — and make billions by charging only for “real” risks – ignoring phony climate change – because it doesn’t exist, right?

Except, we don’t see that, either.

LA Times:

Insurance companies don’t care if you believe in climate change or not: Your premiums are going up anyhow.

NPR reported Monday that home insurance premiums are going up across the board in response to the record number of tornadoes, floods, fires, blizzards and other heavy weather that hit the country in 2011.

The piece features insurance executives at major firms such as Allstate and State Farm saying they are raising rates as much as 10%.

The president of the Insurance Information Institute, a New York-based industry association, says the weather caused about $35 billion of insured damages last year in the U.S. in events that caused a total of $70 billion in economic losses.

Climate change is not mentioned in the piece, but scientists who have been studying the climate and atmospheric conditions for decades say global warming may be contributing to more severe drought, bigger storms and increased precipitation.

The insurance execs interviewed allude to this by noting that in the past certain areas of the U.S. were targeted for higher rates because of earthquakes or frequent hurricanes or flooding. Now? There are so many disasters year upon year that the whole country is being reassessed for risk.

Transcript excerpt below

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