Boston Globe:

SALT LAKE CITY—Lawyers for an environmental activist convicted of disrupting a federal oil-and-gas auction say the man has been put into isolation at a federal prison because of an unidentified congressman’s complaint.

Tim DeChristopher was moved to an “isolation unit” March 9 at a federal prison in Herlong, Calif., where he gets little chance for exercise, writing or phone calls and has been let out only four times briefly in the past two weeks, his supporters at Peaceful Uprising said Wednesday.

The friends are organizing a protest in front of Salt Lake City’s federal courthouse for Thursday.

Peaceful Uprising:

On the evening of Friday March 9th, Tim DeChristopher (climate activist currently serving a 2-year prison sentence for outbidding oil and gas companies at an illegitimate BLM auction in 2008) was summarily removed from the minimum security camp where he has been held since September 2011, and moved into the FCI Herlong’s Special Housing Unit (SHU).
Tim was informed .. that he was being moved to the SHU because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington DC, complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend. Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his legal fund contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own.

According to Prison officials, Tim will continue to be held in isolated confinement pending an investigation. There is no definite timeline for inmates being held in the SHU — often times they await months for the conclusion of an investigation.

In the SHU, Tim’s movement and communications are severely restricted. In the past two weeks, he has been allowed out of his 8 X 10 cell (which he shares with one other inmate) four times, each time for less than an hour. The SHU could have been designed by Franz Kafka. Tim is allowed one book in his cell, and four in his property locker.  His writing means are restricted to a thin ink cartridge which makes correspondence extremely difficult.  He can still receive mail from the outside, but has no other form of communication other than 15 minutes of phone calls per month.


In the same March week that an unprecedented heat wave made even President Obama feel “a little nervous,” imprisoned climate change activist Tim DeChristopher languished mysteriously in isolation at the FCI Herlong’s Special Housing Unit in California.

According to a press release from DeChristopher’s Peaceful Uprising organization, an unidentified member of the US Congress possibly engineered the troubling transfer of the courageous “Bidder 70″–who brought national attention to reckless public land auctions in Utah and climate issues–due to personal correspondence between DeChristopher and a friend over a legal fund contributor.

According to Peaceful Uprising, the confinement to isolation limits DeChristopher’s outside telephone communication to 15 minutes per month, among other restrictions, and raises issues of cruel and unusual punishment, especially considering the long waiting list for similar measures:Tim will continue to be held in isolated confinement pending an investigation. There is no definite timeline for inmates being held in the SHU — often times they await months for the conclusion of an investigation.
Unanswered questions abound over DeChristopher’s extreme treatment and the role of Congressional members. He still faces nearly a year and a half of incarceration–potentially all of it to be served in isolation now.


Yesterday I reported that the newest bogus climate denial meme rocketing around the Foxis of Evil had been disavowed by Geochemist Zunli Lu. At first all I had was a short message indicating that the Daily Mail Newspaper, and reporter Ted Thornhill had deliberately decided to publish a piece that Dr. Lu told them contained the wrong ‘angle”.

Now we have Dr. Lu’s more complete statement.

Syracuse University:

Recently published climate research by Zunli Lu, a geochemist in the Department of Earth Sciences in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has gone viral across the Internet by bloggers. A number of media outlets, including theDaily Mail and The Register, which are published in the United Kingdom, claim this research supports arguments that human-induced global warming is a myth. The claims, Lu says, misrepresent his work and the conclusions in the study. The statement below is an effort to set the record straight. The original news story about the research is posted on Arts and Sciences News.

Zunli Lu:
“It is unfortunate that my research, “An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula,” recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets.

Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2
emissions.  We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study “throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming,” completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.”

Fake Science, Deliberate Distortions for Tea Party Yokels

In one of the clearest demonstrations in memory of the gullible and credulous nature of the the pathetic yokels that frequent such sites as Wattsupwiththat and Climatedepot, this obviously distorted meme was picked up and broadcast uncritically (remarkable, considering the source) around the world.

For more contextual information, see my post of yesterday.

If you are going to write about fiendishly difficult and involved matters of science and technology, it is not necessary to be an actual scientist, although that helps.  What IS necessary is to scrupulously refer back to real science, real scientists, and primary sources. I’ve built the reputation of this blog and  this video series on that premise, and that is my commitment to my readers.

Climate Crocks eviscerated a similarly bogus meme some time ago in a video entitled “Birth of a Climate Crock”. Watch that and compare to see how the technique works, and who the players are.

In this series of Landsat images of the outer edge of Pine Island Glacier from 1972 to 2011, you can see how the coastline (red line) advances seaward (to the left), then shifts back inland as large masses of ice calve off, and then starts the cycle over again. Meanwhile, the northern shear margin (above center), where the glacier clings to neighboring ice or rock, fractures and retreats. Produced by Joseph MacGregor and Ginny Catania, (Institute for Geophysics / University of Texas at Austin).

University of Texas Institute for Geophysics:

A new study examining nearly 40 years of satellite imagery has revealed that the floating ice shelves of a critical portion of West Antarctica are steadily losing their grip on adjacent bay walls, potentially amplifying an already accelerating loss of ice to the sea.

The most extensive record yet of the evolution of the floating ice shelves in the eastern Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica shows that their margins, where they grip onto rocky bay walls or slower ice masses, are fracturing and retreating inland. As that grip continues to loosen, these already-thinning ice shelves will be even less able to hold back grounded ice upstream, according to glaciologists at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics (UTIG).

Reporting in the Journal of Glaciology, the UTIG team found that the extent of ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea Embayment changed substantially between the beginning of the Landsat satellite record in 1972 and late 2011. These changes were especially rapid during the past decade. The affected ice shelves include the floating extensions of the rapidly thinning Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers.

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“The reporter of that Daily Mail article published it anyway, after we told him the angle  that he chose misrepresents our work. “

That’s the whole of the reply I received from Dr. Zunli Lu of Syracuse University after I queried him about the way his study was (mis)represented in the Daily Mail.

UPDATE: Dr. Lu’s full statement now available, discussed here.

The blaring headline “Is this finally proof we’re NOT causing global warming?” is catnip to the yokels of climate denial-dom, and guarantees the story will get linked by all the usual suspects. Then the Mail lures more hits with the cleavage and leg shots of models and actresses on the right side of the page. It’s classic form so familiar to Fox news watchers – boobies for boobs.

I’d been getting queries all day long from people who were confused by the article, and finally decided to check. ( gets tiresome asking these questions, especially when you already know the answer)

The gist is that there is a recent study out of Syracuse, that uses an interesting mineral as a new climate proxy, (an indirect method of indicating temperature from places and times where there were no thermometers)  and has found some comparable samples in Europe as well as in the West Antarctic peninsula.

Then, out comes the straw man – ”  the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the Medieval Warm Period was confined to Europe – therefore that the warming we’re experiencing now is a man-made phenomenon.”  The implication is that if there was anyplace on the planet that experienced temperatures close to 20th century warmth, anytime during that extended Medieval period, then by gum there ain’t no climate change, just like Rush said.

The truth is that the medieval period covers anywhere from 800 to 1400 CE, and within that period there were temperature fluctuations in all parts of the planet just as there are today. The IPCC points out that

“Local temperature fluctuations, even those over just a few decades, can be several degrees celsius, which is larger than the global warming signal of the past century of about 0.7°C.”

Because there are a number of records of these local temperature fluctuations, climate deniers often use this or that data set to obscure the more important global perspective.

That perspective was well stated by the National Academy of Science, in its 2006 evaluation of the paleo-temperature record

..the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on ice caps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.

and added, significantly –

Not all individual proxy records indicate that the recent warmth is unprecedented, although a larger fraction of geographically diverse sites experienced exceptional warmth during the late 20th century than during any other extended period from A.D. 900 onward

I have another message in to Dr. Lu, asking for a little more clarification. I would imagine he sensibly wants to keep his distance from the crazies on this, but I’m hoping he’ll provide some perspective.

So, the anwer, if anyone asks is, OF COURSE the story is wrong. It’s the Daily Mail. If you want to see how the Daily Mail interacts with the climate denial media, watch the video below, a perennial favorite.

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Not too long ago the “Wall Street 16”, a group of spokespeople for the fossil fuel industry, published a widely distributed piece in the Wall Street Journal, further confirming that once-great paper’s morph into just one more tentacle of Rupert Murdoch’s Foxis of Evil.

Now the leader of that group, the hapless Will Happer, (long time promoter of tobacco pseudo science,  climate killing greenhouse gases, and anything else right wing funders will task his Marshall Institute “think” tank to take on) is back again with another empty repetition of old climate denial saws, currently ricocheting around the denial-o-sphere.

Ben Santer took Happer to task in a recent lecture at Chico State University above, and Barry Bickmore takes it the current piece below.

Barry Bickmore:

A few months ago, I gave a talk at Utah Valley University entitled, “How to Avoid the Truth About Climate Change” (click here for video).  In the talk, I introduced the concept of “truth-challenged individuals”–people who are better than the rest of us at ignoring evidence that contradicts what we want to believe–and gave a few examples.  Well, it’s time to add another such individual to the list–Prof. Will Happer, a physicist at Princeton.

In 2010, Prof. Happer testified before a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, “Over the past ten years there has been no statistically [significant] global warming. This is not at all what was predicted by the IPCC computer models.”  The problem was that the IPCC models DO predict there will be whole decades of less rapid warming or even some cooling as the temperature gradually rises.  But since the weather is “chaotic” in the short term, exactly WHEN these short-term dips in the temperature trend will occur is hard to predict, so different models (or even the same models run with slightly different starting conditions) will project the dips at different times.  This FACT is clearly evident in the following graph, taken from Fig. 10.5 of the IPCC AR4 Working Group 1 Report.   It shows climate model temperature projections for the A2 emissions scenario, with the individual lines representing individual models or averaged groups of models.  Just look at some of the more squiggly lines, which represent individual models.  They go up for several years, then they go down for several years, but in the long term the trend is up.

IPCC AR4 model projections for the A2 scenario. Individual lines represent output from individual models or groups of models. The output is subjected to a 3-year running average.

Oh, I’m certainly not the first one to point this out about Happer’s false testimony.  Ben Santer and his colleagues published a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research last year, in which they showed, “Claims that minimal warming over a single decade undermine findings of a slowly-evolving externally-forced warming signal [e.g., as in Investor’s Business Daily, 2008; Happer, 2010] are simply incorrect.”  (Click here for a free pre-publication version of Santer’s paper.)

Well, now Happer has made the same claim again in the Wall Street Journal.

If anyone can point out where Prof. Happer has dealt with Santer’s refutation of his (obviously) false testimony, please do so in the comments.  To me, it looks like he’s simply ignoring it.

Mike MacCracken, who I recently showcased for his 1982 talk on climate change, has also taken Happer to task in some detail, in a piece that makes are fine primer on the well-worn myths of climate denial – here.

I normally ignore the inside baseball back-and-forth that occupies too many people’s time on the blog-o-sphere, but this is just too hilarious.

Readers may remember last week, His Esteemed Splendiforousness “Lord” Christopher Monckton was formally challenged to a point by point debate by the video blogger Potholer (Peter Hadfield), who had produced a series of videos (see example above) eviscerating one by one His Infallible Excellency’s talking points, and providing the primary source material in doing so.

Faced with real, checkable, online debate, where he would have to name his sources, put it in writing, and provide links for readers to fact check him (hmmm..sort of the way I do it in this video series) His CowardlyLion-ness decided to, well, run.

The host of the discussion, Pseudo-Science enthusiast Anthony Watts, told his faithful last weekend that, after I released a video of a Skype interview with Potholer discussing the situation, he would no longer provide a platform for discussion, since Potholer was “colluding” with that “hateful greenman”.

Monckton will hopefully find the time to come back to WUWT and be ready to debate his critics.
Looking forward to it.

REPLY: While I can’t hear what Hadfield is saying (he sounds like a British mumble to me) they seem totally infatuated with their manhunt, so much for Hadfield’s repeated claims of being “dispassionate and logical”. Thanks for posting this. When he starts colluding with that hateful “greenman”, all semblance of rational debate is destroyed.

This video then cements my decision not to provide any further space to Hadfield here. – Anthony

Although I let Potholer do most of the talking in the video, I will admit to an occasional smirk and raised eyebrow, which must have been too much for Watt’s delicately balanced psyche. For that I apologize.

I’ll say that I’m disappointed because I had laid in a 6 week supply of popcorn for the event.

Mike MacCracken was the first high level climate scientist that Al Gore introduced me to in Nashville, some 5 years ago. Although I knew something about the issue, and had some background reading and writing about energy and environment – Mike very quickly made me realize how much I had wrong,  and how much I had to learn. He has been a reliable and generous advisor and mentor ever since. I owe him a lot for his patience in answering questions and pointing me to people and resources I needed to be aware of.

A few months ago, I became aware of a video of Mike’s presentation on Climate Change at Sandia Labs in  August 1982. The contrast between what scientists already knew even 30 years ago, and the pathetically slow response to this gathering storm, prompted me to want to find out what Mike was thinking now, with three decades of perspective.

I interviewed Mike at the University of Michigan in February, where we both attended a climate conference at the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. (He was invited. I kind of crashed the party and was allowed to hang out..)

I’ve reported how the right kind of policies, like those being applied in Germany,  can open up a torrent of renewable energy. People like John Farrell, a researcher at the Institute for Local Self Reliance, are mapping the strategies to make it happen in America, and sooner than you think.

Minnesota Public Radio:

Most Americans think clean energy is futuristic — a good idea some day, but not practical now. But a new report from the Institute for Local Self Reliance suggests that within 10 years, 100 million Americans in the nation’s largest cities could get cheaper electricity from rooftop solar — without subsidies — than that provided by their utility.

For example, one-quarter of San Diego residents could power their homes with cost-effective solar by next year. Even in Boston, solar could cost-effectively power one-third of homes by 2020.

The current electricity system is ill-equipped for this surge in local rooftop solar — or even for the 21st century. It’s a relic of the last century, when utilities located dirty coal-powered plants far from population centers, connecting them via high-voltage transmission lines to customers hundreds or thousands of miles away.

An electricity system powered by local solar is fundamentally different. Wherever the sun shines, solar panels are right at the customer’s location, on a rural farm or an urban rooftop. And because solar power is modular, it lends itself to construction at a local scale.

Solar also lends itself to local ownership instead of utility conglomerates. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that locally owned renewable energy projects — like rooftop solar — can offer twice the jobs and more than three times the local economic impact of absentee-owned projects, because revenue from local projects stays in the local economy. Having an economic stake in energy ownership also gives citizens a sense of political ownership. Researchers in Germany found a 45 percentage-point increase in support for more local wind power when wind turbines were locally owned instead of absentee-owned.

The rooftop revolution doesn’t need more subsidies, but it does need new rules.

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The U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center will soon have a solar-powered microgrid to supply electricity to two laboratories and to power the Detroit Arsenal parking lot lights. This photo shows similar solar panels being installed at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego.

A lot of people are not even aware that the US military has been pioneering the technology that has built and sustained the US economy for the last 50 years, — from microchips, to personal computers, to jet engines and the internet. The tradition continues.

US Army:

The first solar-powered microgrid to provide energy to an Army installation is scheduled to be operational this spring. U.S. Army engineers will install the system at Detroit Arsenal.

“Smart microgrids are at the heart of what we’re doing to address energy security,” said Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense for Installations and Environment.

“It allows us to be more energy efficient on a day-to-day basis. It facilitates the adoption of renewable technology, and most important, if the [installation] grid is disrupted, it allows us to continue to operate critical functions,” Robyn said.

Engineers from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, will install the self-contained system of electrical generation that will use fuel cells, wind, solar and other energy sources said electrical engineer Jillian McDonald, who is leading the project.

“If we had a power outage, as TARDEC did over the Fourth of July weekend [in 2011], those [labs supported] would still be able to operate,” McDonald said.

The microgrid will power two System Integration Laboratories and lights for the the arsenal’s parking lot. Depending on installation energy demands, the microgrid could provide additional power to arsenal users.

“We did a power study and it looks as if the [labs] actually are less of a load than we thought, so we might be able to power more of [the building that houses the labs],” McDonald said.

Two other sustainability efforts included in this project will allow the bi-directional flow of energy. A 5 kilowatt mobile solar generator and charging station will be installed for a Smart Plug-in Hybrid-Electric Vehicle in addition to a 100 kilowatt Tactical Mobile Vehicle Charging System. This charging station will be used to charge up to four electric vehicles without requiring connection to the installation grid.

The Fossil Fuel industry and its wholly owned media subsidiary, the Foxis of Evil, have declared a fatwah on electric vehicles, and even General Motors is wondering just how much they are willing to lie to stamp out the threat to their business model. The bonehead me-too media has done its part to snuff out an emerging industry, as well. But the over-arching greed that defines the oil barons may yet be their undoing.

SF Gate:

To drivers, the high price of gasoline is a scourge. To the electric car industry, it could be a game-changer.

Nissan’s electric Leaf and the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid both hit dealer showrooms in late 2010, riding a wave of carefully cultivated hype. But first-year sales were lackluster at best, as consumers balked at the high sticker prices and unfamiliar engineering.

This year’s gas-price spike could change that.

Technology that looked like a gamble to many car buyers last year might look more like an insurance policy now.

“Every time it goes up, my phone rings a little more,” said Ron Coury, with the Northbay Nissan dealership in Petaluma. “It’s the ones who’ve been sitting back and watching, and now they’re sticking their feet in the water.”

“It gives us the opportunity to convert people, but it’s an opportunity we have to seize,” said Brendan Jones, director of electric vehicle marketing for Nissan North America.

General Motors has launched a new ad campaign that explains how the Volt works and emphasizes the car’s ability to evade the gas station. The Volt operates as an electric car for the first 25 to 50 miles of a trip, before a gasoline motor kicks in. Like the all-electric Leaf, the Volt recharges its batteries via a specialized power plug, with most owners recharging at night.

“I do think that it is probably forcing people to consider fuel-efficient transportation, and the Volt certainly is a gold-medal opportunity for a lot of customers,” said Dan Akerson, GM’s chief executive officer. He referred to the new ads as an effort to “relaunch” the Volt.

Forbes: Now’s the Time to Buy a Volt-

So, in 2010, when I moved back to the U.S. from my old São Paulo home, I bought a black, third-generation Prius II. It’s an updated model of the car Larry David drives in Curb Your Enthusiasm, and as a car goes, it’s got room for five, it’s got speed — I am constantly doing 80 in that thing and not realizing it — and it does what I want it to do most, reduces my gasoline expenses.  I”m saving the earth and screwing oil companies one mile at a time.

The Prius gets 50 mpg’s on average. It cost just $23,000. It’s okay looking. But the Chevy Volt is even better looking, sort of like a brand new girlfriend.

If gasoline is going to $6 a gallon, as libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul thinks, and as Steve Odland considered here at Forbes last week, then I want a car that doesn’t need any gasoline at all. Oil can go to $150 a barrel and my transportation expenses won’t rise a cent. I feel like I’m beating the market, and that feels pretty good; pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Inside, the first thing I notice are the interior door panels. They have circuit board imagery designed on them. This thing is so 21st Century. The dash board is all digital, and has a more futuristic feel to it than the Prius.  Keep in mind, I’m a layman. I’m not a Car & Driver guy out to test how much torque this thing has. I don’t even know what torque is. I just know it’s a word.  But I quickly learn that the Volt has no transmission, so it is all torque. No shifting gears. It’s just step on the pedal and watch it move.

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