Readers may be aware that there is a case making its way through the court system, brought by climate scientist Michael Mann, who has sued the National Review Online, and the tobacco/oil funded snakepit Competitive Enterprise Institute for slander.

Quick recap from the Guardian:

Michael Mann, a scientist at the centre of the “climate wars”, has sued a rightwing thinktank and a magazine for comparing him to the convicted sex offender and disgraced football coach Jerry Sandusky and accusing him of academic fraud.

Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, announced the defamation lawsuit against the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the National Review in a posting on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

The 37-page complaint arises from blog posts published last July, and accuses National Review and CEI of recycling “false and defamatory statements” about Mann’s research.

Mann, the author of the iconic hockey stick graph showing a sharp uptick in global temperatures after 1900, has come under repeated attack from climate contrarians.

He has been cleared of academic wrongdoing by seven separate investigations, but the attacks have persisted – culminating in last July’s blogs which likened Mann to Sandusky.

A post on the CEI blog referred to Mann as “the other scandal” at Penn State and accused the scientist of “molesting data” about climate change. The sentences likening Mann to Sandusky were later removed.

National Review later picked up the post, although the writer added a minor caveat.

Climate Science Watch:

“The Court finds that there is sufficient evidence in the record to demonstrate that Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits,” said a DC Superior Court judge in her latest procedural ruling in the defamation case of Michael Mann v. National Review, et al. “The evidence before the Court indicates the likelihood that ‘actual malice’ is present in the [National Review’s] conduct.”

On August 30 the Court denied the Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration of the Court’s July 19 order, which had affirmed Prof. Mann’s right to proceed in his defamation lawsuit. The text of the August 30 Court Order is here in PDF.

Some excerpts from the Court Order denying Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration:


… The Court finds that there is sufficient evidence in the record to demonstrate that Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits. As the Court stated in its previous Order, the NR Defendants’ reference to Plaintiff “as the man behind the fraudulent climate change ‘hockey stick’ graph” was essentially an allegation of fraud by Plaintiff. …

The Court clearly recognizes that some members involved in the climate-change discussions and debates employ harsh words. The NR Defendants are reputed to use this manner of speech; however there is a line between rhetorical hyperbole and defamation. In this case, the evidence before the Court demonstrates that something more than mere rhetorical hyperbole is, at least at this stage present. Accusations of fraud, especially where such accusations are made frequently through the continuous usage of words such as “whitewashed,” “intellectually bogus,” “ringmaster of the tree-ring circus” and “cover-up” amount to more than rhetorical hyperbole. …

The evidence before the Court indicates the likelihood that “actual malice” is present in the NR Defendants’ conduct. …

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (“IIED”)

… The Court finds that Plaintiff’s claim for IIED is similar to that for defamation. There is sufficient evidence before the Court to indicate “actual malice.” The NR Defendants have frequently accused Plaintiff of academic fraud regardless of their awareness that Plaintiff has been investigated by several bodies and his work found to be proper. The NR Defendant’s persistence despite the findings of the investigative bodies could be likened to a witch hunt. In fact, Plaintiff had nothing to do with the Sandusky case yet the NR Defendants seized upon that criminal act by a pedophile and did more, this Court finds, than simply comment on another article.

The Court agrees with the arguments advanced by Plaintiff. To place Plaintiff’s name in the same sentence with Sandusky (a convicted pedophile) is clearly outrageous.

Stay tuned.

Just for fun – review of the case so far:

August 19: Michael Mann v. National Review et al. defamation lawsuit – new Plaintiff’s briefs

July 19: DC Court affirms Michael Mann’s right to proceed in defamation lawsuit against National Review and CEI

Oct. 23, 2012: Bam! Mike Mann files Suit Against Defamatory Denialists, National Review, CEI


I was aware that there were new efforts ongoing to map the bedrock beneath the Greenland Ice sheet, and this video describes part of that effort and the results.

One issue that glaciologists are trying to sort out is, with much of the interior of Greenland below sea level, what is the vulnerability of those areas to inflow by seawater that might gradually undermine the ice sheet?


Forget about exploring other planets — it looks like Earth has a few surprises left. How about a massive canyon buried underneath an ice sheet?

Researchers announced Thursday, in the journal Science, the discovery of a massive canyon below an ice sheet that covers Greenland. The canyon is at least 750 kilometers long and 800 meters deep, in some parts. Its scale is being compared to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Scientists believe the canyon predates the ice sheet that has kept it hidden from the world, which is estimated to be a few million years old. The researchers are in awe that a discovery of this scope can still be made on Earth.

“With Google Streetview available for many cities around the world and digital maps for everything from population density to happiness one might assume that the landscape of the Earth has been fully explored and mapped. Our research shows there’s still a lot left to discover,” Jonathan Bamber, professor at Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences and lead author of the study said in a press release.

University of Bristol:

The scientists used thousands of kilometres of airborne radar data, collected mainly by NASA and researchers from the UK and Germany over several decades, to piece together the landscape lying beneath the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland and obscures it from view.

At certain frequencies, ice is transparent to radio waves which can travel through the ice and bounce off the bedrock underneath. By analysing all the radar data in a consistent way the team discovered a continuous bedrock canyon that extends from almost the centre of the island and ends at its northern extremity in a deep fjord connecting to the Arctic ocean.

They believe the canyon plays an important role in transporting sub-glacial meltwater produced at the bed from the interior to the edge of the ice sheet and ultimately into the ocean. Even before the presence of the ice sheet, going back at least four million years, the evidence suggests the canyon provided a pathway for water from the interior to the coast and was a major fluvial system.

Both Jason Box and Mike MacCracken have mentioned the issue to me – and I included it in the “Ring of Mountains” video last spring.

It’s passed on. This Grid is no more. It’s ceased to be. This is an ex grid.

Don’t believe me?


There are 3,200 utilities that make up the U.S. electrical grid, the largest machine in the world. These power companies sell $400 billion worth of electricity a year, mostly derived from burning fossil fuels in centralized stations and distributed over 2.7 million miles of power lines. Regulators set rates; utilities get guaranteed returns; investors get sure-thing dividends. It’s a model that hasn’t changed much since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. And it’s doomed to obsolescence.

That’s the opinion of David Crane, chief executive officer of NRG Energy, a wholesale power company based in Princeton, N.J. What’s afoot is a confluence of green energy and computer technology, deregulation, cheap natural gas, and political pressure that, as Crane starkly frames it, poses “a mortal threat to the existing utility system.” He says that in about the time it has taken cell phones to supplant land lines in most U.S. homes, the grid will become increasingly irrelevant as customers move toward decentralized homegrown green energy. Rooftop solar, in particular, is turning tens of thousands of businesses and households into power producers. Such distributed generation, to use the industry’s term for power produced outside the grid, is certain to grow.

Crane, 54, a Harvard-educated father of five, drives himself to work every day in his electric Tesla Model S. He gave his college-age son an electric Nissan Leaf. He worries about the impact of warming on the earth his grandchildren will inherit. And he seems to relish his role as utility industry gadfly, framing its future in Cassandra-like terms. As Crane sees it, some utilities will get trapped in an economic death spiral as distributed generation eats into their regulated revenue stream and forces them to raise rates, thereby driving more customers off the grid. Some customers, particularly in the sunny West and high-cost Northeast, already realize that “they don’t need the power industry at all,” Crane says.

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Need more evidence that we are in a new ball game?


If anybody doubts that federal energy regulators are aware of the rapidly changing electricity landscape, they should talk to Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“Solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything,” Wellinghoff told GTM last week in a sideline conversation at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.

If a single drop of water on the pitcher’s mound at Dodger Stadium is doubled every minute, Wellinghoff said, a person chained to the highest seat would be in danger of drowning in an hour.

“That’s what is happening in solar. It could double every two years,” he said.

Indeed, as GTM Research’s MJ Shiao recently pointed out, in the next 2 1/2 years the U.S. will double its entire cumulative capacity of distributed solar — repeating in the span of a few short years what it originally took four decades to deploy.

Geothermal, wind, and other resources will supplement solar, Wellinghoff said. “But at its present growth rate, solar will overtake wind in about ten years. It is going to be the dominant player. Everybody’s roof is out there.”

And those other resources have not seen declining prices like solar has. “Solar PV is $0.70 or $0.80 per watt to manufacture. Residential rooftop is $4 to $5 per watt. But they are going to drive that down to $2 and then to $1 per watt.”

Advanced storage technologies also promise lower costs, he said. “Once it is more cost-effective to build solar with storage than to build a combustion turbine or wind for power at night, that is ‘game over.’ At that point, it will be all about consumer-driven markets.”

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UPDATE: Well that didn’t take long.
Guess what. His Exuberant Excellence decided to cut and run, but not shut up. (see bottom of post)

Well, here’s the biggest open secret of this little exercise.

Climate realists don’t really want His Glorious Eminence to shut up. In fact, we want him to continue to be what he is –  the leading proponent of science denial,  the perfect, truest face of the anti-science community, the full-on, Barack-Obama-was-born-in-Kenya I-have-found-a-cure-for-AIDS-and-the-common-cold-its-all-a-NASA-plot-and-I’m-a-member-of-the-House-of-Lords-don’t-listen-to-those-people-at-the-actual-House-of-Lords-who-say-I’m-not-and-I-advised-Maggie Thatcher-and-won-a-Nobel-prize shining, raving, epitome of all those values that the anti-science, Fox-impaired, reality-challenged community hold dear to their hearts.


John Abraham, a Professor of Thermal Sciences at the University of St. Thomas and a Guardian Environment blogger, has challenged the loud-mouthed potty peer,Lord Christopher Monckton, to put his money where his mouth is. Abraham offers Monckton two bets to provide proof of his outlandish and wrong claims about global warming, with all proceeds headed for a “charity that deals with climate issues.”

Read Abraham’s challenge letter below:

Dear Mr. Monckton,

I understand that you’ve claimed Earth’s temperatures will likely decrease by 0.5oC in two years, but most certainly by 2020.  Specifically, you stated this on a website:

“Meanwhile, enjoy what warmth you can get. A math geek with a track-record of getting stuff right tells me we are in for 0.5 Cº of global cooling. It could happen in two years, but is very likely by 2020. His prediction is based on the behavior of the most obvious culprit in temperature change here on Earth – the Sun.”

Here is the link:

I am calling your claim.  I challenge you to a $1000 bet on both.  Specifically,

1.     I challenge you to a $1000 bet that the Earth temperature will not drop 0.5 C in two years

2.     I challenge you to a second $1000 bet that the Earth temperature will not drop 0.5 C by 2020

Let’s keep stipulations as few as possible.  My only requirement is that any major volcanic eruptions would make the bet void.  I will let you choose the temperature dataset (NASA GISTEMP, NOAA, HADCRUT4).  Any reputable data set of land-ocean surface temperatures.  I will let you choose the starting year of 2012 or 2013.  Obligations to pay can be based off our word and the publicity of this challenge.  If you require payment to be sent to a third party ahead of time, I will gladly oblige.

Please respond at your earliest convenience, I am anxious to finalize this agreement.  Please be assured that if you decline this wager, I will make your declination public.

Can we agree to donate the money to a charity that deals with climate issues.  Selected by winner of the wager.

Cheers, As Always

Dr. John Abraham


University of St. Thomas


His Gracious and Benevolent Grandiosity, of course, has been challenged before, and managed, with the help of his enablers, to run for the hills.

I’ll confess it might be that I gave His Most Exquisite and Infundibulous Luminosity the loophole he was looking for.

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Fracking Fraying at Edges

August 28, 2013

The little-questioned assumptions at the heart of the Business-as-usual model for energy development, are that “we are the Saudi Arabia of coal”, and there are “hundreds of years of natural gas” available for us to exploit.  I’ve posted recently on the slow fade of the coal industry,  and the “cheap natural gas” myth – but the story continues.
The realization is slowly dawning that we need to develop greater efficiency and renewables, not because it would be nice and “green”, but because that is the only way to maintain our civilization.


Oil companies are hitting the brakes on a U.S. shale land grab that produced an abundance of cheap natural gas — and troubles for the industry.

The spending slowdown by international companies including BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) comes amid a series of write-downs of oil and gas shale assets, caused by plunging prices and disappointing wells. The companies are turning instead to developing current projects, unable to justify buying more property while fields bought during the 2009-2012 flurry remain below their purchase price, according to analysts.

The deal-making slump, which may last for years, threatens to slow oil and gas production growth as companies that built up debt during the rush for shale acreage can’t depend on asset sales to fund drilling programs. The decline has pushed acquisitions of North American energy assets in the first-half of the year to the lowest since 2004.

“Their appetite has slowed,” said Stephen Trauber, Citigroup Inc.’s vice chairman and global head of energy investment banking, who specializes in large oil and gas acquisitions. “It hasn’t stopped, but it has slowed.”

North American oil and gas deals, including shale assets, plunged 52 percent to $26 billion in the first six months from $54 billion in the year-ago period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. During the drilling frenzy of 2009 through 2012, energy companies spent more than $461 billion buying North American oil and gas properties, the data show.
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Climate Crock fans are familiar with Dr. Art Robinson, originator of the famous “Oregon Petition” of 30+ thousand “scientists” of various flavors (engineers, chiropractors, dentists, etc..) who disagree with mainstream thought on climate change. (Dr. Robinson is a chemist himself..)

You may not be aware that Robinson is active in politics, a failed one-time congressional candidate, and an afficianado of Fringe science. In fact, Dr Robinson not only knows more than the collective climate scientists of the world, he also is a medical expert, who says that nuclear waste might best be sprinkled over the American landscape, and maybe AIDS is not so big a deal either.  He would no doubt have a lot to talk about with His Most Serene Highness “Lord” Christopher Monckton, who claims to have Cured the disease .

A brilliant and iconoclastic company, these climate deniers.

Now Dr. Robinson is chair of the Oregon Republican Party.

Mother Jones:

Robinson, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry, has marketed himself for the last three decades as an expert on everything from nuclear fallout to AIDS to climate science in the pages of a monthly newsletter, Access to Energy, which he published from his compound in the small town of Cave Junction. A quick glance at his writings, which were publicized during his ill-fated challenges to DeFazio, suggest that whatever the failings of the previous party leadership—Democrats now hold all statewide elected offices and control both houses of the state Legislature—Robinson brings with him a new set of challenges entirely.

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Coal Fading to Black?

August 27, 2013


I’ve posted before about Coal’s death spiral from the viewpoint of utilities, and  the warnings from the US Geological Survey about the illusion of “200 years of coal”.

In the last week I’ve been getting a stream of notes from anti-coal activist Leslie Glustrom about what may be signs of the inevitable collapse of the market for coal in the US. She writes

Producing coal in the US is now like scraping the bottom of the peanut butter jar–it is getting harder (and therefore more expensive) to produce the coal–which is one of the reasons coal costs are generally rising on average about 7% per year around the country….

Now she’s fleshed it out in a piece for the Boulder Daily Camera:

What was true about coal that was mined in the last century is no longer true; coal deposits that are being mined now are buried deeper and are more expensive to mine. Coal company profit margins are narrowing or even turning negative and the major U.S. coal companies are reporting billions of dollars of losses.

The major U.S. coal companies have lost over 80 percent of their stock value since 2008 and are borrowing money at interest rates of 8-10 percent in order to pay off their staggering debts. Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy in mid-2012 and other large U.S. coal companies have been put on bankruptcy watch.

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The big utilities in California like Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric are heavily lobbying Latino leaders in the State Legislature. The utilities are trying to get Latino leaders to support efforts to obstruct California’s rooftop solar growth. California Latino voters support rooftop solar by wide margins. Latino leaders in the state legislature should listen to Latino voters instead of siding with the big utilities.


..a recent bill introduced by Fresno-area Assembly member Henry T. Perea, AB 327, which would penalize ratepayers who have net-metered rooftop solar, reflecting a repeatedly-countered utility talking point that people who generate their own electricity aren’t paying their fair share of the state’s grid operation cost. Perea’s bill would allow utilities to charge a monthly $10 fee for access to the grid, though that could be reduced to $5 a month for households making under 200 percent the state poverty line. points out that families asked to provide an additional $120 a year to the electric company might find that a disincentive to going solar. The group has teamed up with the Sierra Club’s My Generation campaign and the economic democracy group The Other 98%to oppose bills like Perea’s, and the coalition created an online petition along those lines.

Utility Dive:

Southern California Edison (SCE) “hates rooftop solar.” That’s the premise of a fake, satirical commercial (see below) made by, a Latino activist organization. teamed up with the Sierra Club and The Other 98% for its “Save Rooftop Solar” campaign, which seeks to fight big utilities’ antagonism towards rooftop solar.

The organization argues that California utilities such as SCE, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) “are heavily lobbying Latino leaders” to get them to “support efforts to obstruct California’s rooftop solar growth” even though “California Latino voters support rooftop solar by wide margins,” according to Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of

The big utilities like Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric have traditionally relied on the big profits they make from bloated dirty energy projects. Dirty energy projects – like natural gas plants – are often built in poor communities, polluting our air and guzzling up water resources at a time of record droughts.

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The full court press against climate denying politicians continues.  To those who say this can’t possibly make a difference, I would say, think of all the ridiculous right wing memes that gained currency simply by repetition from the Fox/Limbaugh echo chamber.  (gore invented the internet,  death panels, kenyan birth certificate, weapons of mass destruction,….)

“Climate denier” is now shorthand for those that do not accept mainstream science of the atmosphere – and that’s primarily because a few stubborn folks just kept saying it, and saying it…


New York ad agency Barton F. Graf 9000 has turned its roguish attention to the issue of climate change, and helped activist group 350 Action with the amusing video below. According to the YouTube description: “Since 1954, the World Meteorological Organization has been naming extreme storms after people. But we propose a new naming system. One that names extreme storms caused by climate change, after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy. If you agree, sign the petition at” The snarky tone preaches to the choir, but it’s hard to resist lines like, “If you value your life, please seek shelter from Michele Bachmann.”

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