I wanted to put in an even bigger plug for Richard Alley’s “How to Talk to an Ostrich”  youtube series, -that has been spun off from the “Earth: an Operator’s Manual” project – so I made it the subject of this week’s video, and wrapped one of my favorite “Ostrich” videos up in a climate crock package.

The piece I chose to highlight is a particularly good one about the military’s early involvement in developing the data which nailed the radiative properties of greenhouse gases. I’ve discussed this before, here, and even, long ago, here, but its amazing how many people still have no knowledge of that puzzle piece. I just returned from the Heartland Institute Denia-palooza conference in Chicago, more on that later, – maybe – but I was struck by the number of blank stares I got when discussing how far back the history of this science goes, even with people who were supposedly scientifically literate.

Newest video from the companion series I am producing for The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media. Intro by Bud Ward:

Peter Sinclair’s monthly Yale Forum video uses historical footage to debunk an assertion that the most well-known climate change ‘advocates’ are … ‘murderers, tyrants, and madmen.’

This month’s “This Is Not Cool” Yale Forum video explores a phrase popularized — or more likely made infamous — by the recent Heartland Institute Chicago highway poster featuring Unabomber Ted Kaczynski: “murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”

In a word-association game, it’s unlikely that many would bring up the names of Margaret Thatcher, or of Columbia University’s Wallace Broecker. Nor, for that matter, those of NASA scientist James Hansen; of the late biochemist and novelist Isaac Asimov; of theoretical physicist, author and cosmologist Stephen Hawking; of the late Cornell University astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan; of Microsoft’s Bill Gates; of Navy Admiral David Titley; or of Nobel Laureate, and now Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu.

Through an artful selection and piecing-together of some historical video and audio materials featuring each of those individuals expressing deep concerns about climate change, the video tees-off from a Heartland remark — defending its poster prank while at the same time ending the effort — that “the most prominent advocates of global warming are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”

That billboard campaign, the first featuring Kaczynski, initially had been intended to include subsequent posters featuring Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden, and one or two additional scalawags and scoundrels. Instead, it has led a number of large corporate funders to follow-up Heartland’s pulling of the plug with a pulling of the plug on their own part: A number of well-known corporate sponsors have announced they are ceasing their relationships with, and funding for, further Heartland efforts.

It’s been the year without a winter. Doesn’t look like we’ll miss out on summer, tho.
CBS managed the whole story without the phrase “climate change”.

For more, Climate Progress has an informative post by Jeff Masters on the end of La Nina, and potential for a new el nino this summer.

acquired 1970-1990


Temperatures are increasing on a global scale, but at the regional level, the story gets complicated. In the central and eastern United States, for example, warming has not kept pace with other parts of the world over much of the last century.

As shown in the lower map, which is based on data from NASA’s Surface Temperature Analysis(GISTEMP), parts of the United States even cooled between 1930 and 1990. Areas of the greatest cooling are blue; those that warmed are red. Climate scientists have taken to calling the large area of cooling a “warming hole” because the areas surrounding it have warmed at a faster rate.

For more than a decade, researchers have puzzled over what’s causing the warming hole over the United States. Previous research has suggested natural variations in sea surface temperatures might be responsible, but a new study puts the focus on sulfates, a type of aerosol produced by coal power plants that’s known for causing acid rain. Sulfates are light-colored, and they cause cooling byscattering and reflecting sunlight. They also lower temperatures indirectly by making clouds more reflective and long-lasting.

The researchers, led by Eric Leibensperger when he was at Harvard University, used global climate models to estimate the cooling effect sulfates have had on the climate of the United States since 1950. As seen in the top map, they found that between 1970 and 1990—the period when sulfates were at their highest levels—average temperatures were nearly 1°Celsius (1.8°Fahrenheit) cooler in a core area centered on Arkansas and Missouri and about 0.7°Celsius cooler in a larger tear-drop region throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. The cooling effect extended into the North Atlantic Ocean as well; sulfate pollution lowered sea surface temperatures there by 0.3°Celsius.

Leibensperger’s research also shows that the cooling effect from sulfates is diminishing. The amount of the pollutant in the atmosphere has declined significantly in the last few decades due to theClean Air Act. According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, the amount of sulfur dioxide (a precursor to sulfates) released into the atmosphere fell by 58 percent between 1980 and 2010. Satellites have confirmed the decrease; the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the Aquasatellite observed a sharp decline in sulfates over the eastern United States between 2005 and 2010.

As a response to the declining sulfate levels, Leibensperger’s modeling shows temperatures over the central and eastern United States have increased by 0.3°Celsius between 1980 and 2010. How much more warming can we expect as sulfate concentrations continue to decline? Not much, according to Leibensperger. Sulfate concentrations have declined so much already that the impact of future decreases won’t be nearly as substantial.

Ever been frustrated trying to make a reasoned, sensible, logical argument to a denier?

There’s a reason why it is so difficult. Let’s take a look at the Dunning/Kruger effect. Have you ever noticed that often times the most incompetent people have the highest opinions of themselves, especially when debating? This video explains why.

The brown centre of an apple blossom indicates a bloom that would not result in an apple being produced following this spring’s unusual weather.

Elsewhere on the blog, we are still hearing that “CO2 is good for Plants”. Meanwhile, here in the reality based community….

Windsor Star, May 5: 

A catastrophic freeze has wiped out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop and has the fruit industry looking at losses already estimated at more than $100 million.

“This is the worst disaster fruit growers have ever, ever experienced,” Harrow-area orchard owner Keith Wright said Friday. “We’ve been here for generations and I’ve never heard of this happening before.

“This is unheard of … all fruit growing areas in the Great Lakes area, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York State, Ontario, are all basically wiped out.”

Wright lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of apples and peaches Sunday morning when freezing temperatures killed the blossoms.

Warm temperatures caused fruit trees to bloom early and when temperatures plummeted Sunday morning it damaged or wiped out much of the $60-million apple crop and 20 to 30 per cent of Ontario’s $48-million tender fruit crop which includes peaches, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines.

Brian Gilroy, a Georgian Bay-area apple grower who is chairman of the Ontario Apple Growers, said the loss to fruit growers and the economy will easily be more than $100 million. On top of the lost yield or no crop at all, orchard workers and spinoff industries such as juice, packing, storage and farm supplies will be affected.

Gilroy said consumers will find locally grown apples pricey and difficult to find this fall. Some varieties of apples, such as Empire, will be very difficult to find.

Washington State has a good crop but consumers should expect apple prices to jump because all of northeastern North America was affected, he said.

Toronto Star: 

The early warm weather in March, followed by sudden flash freezes, has caused devastating losses to tender fruit and apple growers in a large part of southern Ontario.

Steve Smith says there are no blossoms on his apple trees in Port Elgin, about 40 kilometres southwest of Owen Sound, which means there will be no apples.

Agriculture specialist John Cline at the University of Guelph says the apple industry alone in Ontario is worth up to $400 million.

 Globe and Mail: 

Normally at this time of year, Steve Smith’s apple orchards would be awash in pink and white blossoms. But this spring, an unseasonably warm March followed by a series of freezing snaps have wiped out his entire crop.

“There’s nothing – not one blossom,” says Mr. Smith, owner of Smiths’ Apples and Farm Market in Port Elgin, Ont. Last year, his small farm, which generally does brisk business in pick-your-own apples, produced around 82,000 kilograms of apples. This year, he says he won’t likely produce a single apple.

“I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen anything like this,” he says.

Extreme weather over the past few months has had a devastating impact on fruit growers throughout Ontario, Quebec, and northeastern United States. Unusually warm temperatures in March coaxed fruit trees out of their winter dormancy early. Subsequent deep frosts, occurring as recently as late April, damaged the blossoms, crippling their ability to pollinate. In Ontario, the fruit industry is expecting to record tens of millions of dollars in losses, according to early estimates.

Detroit Free Press:

Fresh spinach in winter

Last July, Ann Arbor resident Jeff McCabe turned his passion for local foods into a business designing, selling and installing hoop houses, a type of greenhouse that extends the growing season and doesn’t use electricity.

Nifty Hoops expects to sell 50 hoop houses in Michigan this year.

McCabe, a former home remodeler with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Michigan, devised a hoop house that was easier to install than those currently on the market.

So far, McCabe, 52, runs the business by himself. But to install his hoop houses, a process that can take at least seven hours, he gets help from a small group of people that he pays by the hour.

Brendan Sinclair, 27, of Lansing navigates the top of the Hoop House structure as he helps to assemble the greenhouse on the small farm of Jim and Vickie Fackelman in Petersburg Sunday May 6, 2012.

Nifty Hoop’s standard-size hoop house is 3,000 square feet and sells for $12,000, which includes installation costs. The biggest hurdle McCabe encountered was obtaining financing for his business. Banks wouldn’t lend to him, so he borrowed money from his family. Nifty Hoops is now profitable though McCabe pays himself a modest salary.

“I’m working a lot of hours, but I love it,” he said. “Every time we build one, we think of something new.”

Forecast the Facts:

Less than two weeks after the Heartland Institute compared people who believe in global warming to the Unabomber on a Clear Channel Chicago (CCMO) digital billboard, Clear Channel has rejected an ad campaign highlighting corporate support for the controversial think tank on the eve of its annual climate-change-denial conference.

The proposed ads, which would be displayed on the exact same digital billboard the Heartland Institute used, point out that some of the world’s most prominent corporations “still support climate deniers” – and ask viewers if they do, too. The ads feature pharmaceutical maker Pfizer, software corporation Microsoft, and media giant Comcast. These corporations were chosen because they have significantly contributed to the Heartland Institute, but have thus far rejected calls to end their relationship with the controversial organization. The ads do not feature any known serial killers or terrorists.

Clear Channel Outdoors Chicago Branch President Par Ridder rejected the billboards in a telephone conversation with Forecast the Facts, explaining that Clear Channel “would not approve a billboard that criticized corporations.” When asked whether that was an official Clear Channel policy, Ridder declined to comment.

“Apparently Clear Channel thinks it’s fine to defame the millions of Americans who recognize the reality of climate change, but it’s not okay to hold accountable the corporations who make that kind of offensive propaganda possible,” said Brad Johnson, Campaign Manager for Forecast the Facts, the group leading the effort.

The rejected billboard was to be “crowd-funded” by contributions from the 150,000 people who have joined Forecast the Facts, SumofUs, 350.org, and others, to call on corporations to defund Heartland. The ad displays the Pfizer (PFE) logo and its $130,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2010. The text, “I still support Climate Deniers. Do you?” refers to the fact that pharmaceutical giant continues to defend its relationship with the anti-science group.

Yale 360:

These two false-color thermal images taken by NASA satellites depict the rapid retreat of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska over the past 25 years. The top image shows the glacier’s terminus just north of Heather Island in 1986. By 2011, the terminus had retreated 12 miles up the inlet, and is identifiable in the bottom image, just below the “Main Branch” label, where the striped glacier surface meets the inlet. The blue in the water below the 2011 terminus is floating ice that has calved off the leading edge of the Columbia Glacier. (NASA Earth Observatory)