Atmospheric Scientist Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M has been doing a lot of important writing and speaking on the topic of climate sensitivity over the last several years.  His debate with Richard Lindzen, posted here a while ago, is  a good example of how he has managed to clearly explicate the major drivers of climate change.
He  assures me that he wishes this video was funnier and snappier. What it is, is, an  important first pass at pushback on the “climate sensitivity” meme, which is clearly shaping up as the initial pushback against the new IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), which will come out this fall.

I’ve since interviewed Andy by Skype, and am working on my own climate sensitivity piece, which I am sure will not be as precise and erudite, but, who knows, maybe I can include some Elmer Fudd clips to pump the levity content.

Bloomberg:

The crippled nuclear plant at Fukushima is losing its two-year battle to contain radioactive water leaks and its owner emphasized for the first time it needs overseas expertise to help contain the disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) is grappling with the worst spill of contaminated water since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. The call for help from Zengo Aizawa, a vice president at the utility, follows a leak of 300 metric tons of irradiated water. Japan’s nuclear regulator labeled the incident “serious” and questioned Tepco’s ability to deal with the crisis. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made similar comments earlier this month.

BBC:

A nuclear expert has told the BBC that he believes the current water leaks at Fukushima are much worse than the authorities have stated.

Mycle Schneider is an independent consultant who has previously advised the French and German governments.

He says water is leaking out all over the site and there are no accurate figures for radiation levels.

Meanwhile the chairman of Japan’s nuclear authority said that he feared there would be further leaks.

The ongoing problems at the Fukushima plant increased in recent days when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site.

The Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale that measures the severity of atomic accidents.

This was an acknowledgement that the power station was in its greatest crisis since the reactors melted down after the tsunami in 2011.

But some nuclear experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than either Tepco or the Japanese government are willing to admit.

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Music Break: Electric Feel

August 23, 2013

I know I’ve posted this before.
Don’t care.
Y’all needed this and didn’t even know it.

I’m on the shore of Lake Michigan in a magical place for the weekend, and it’s sort of just exactly like the video, minus the dancing hippy chicks, music track, motorcycles, Chucky Cheese puppets, Rock stars, Rainforest,  Ram’s horns, and psychedelic rainbow mud.

The moon is here though.
The moon is definitely here.

I was walking into my local Kroger store the other night, and, well, funny thing.
I’m not a car guy. Never have been. I hardly know one make from another, and don’t care a whole lot.
But I’m walking in the store, and I feel this, like, magnetic pull,…from this gleaming, jewel like, black thing in the parking space next to mine.. that makes me swing around like I’m pulled by strange tractor beam.  Stop. And look, and stare.
I’m thinking..
What is that? BMW? Infiniti? Lexus?

Nope. It’s a Tesla. And Dayuum – that is some kinda beautiful machine. All sleek, and black, and shiny, and polished, and curvy, and sleek, and well, just..wow.

So I go in and buy some fruit and hummus. And on the way out, I see this tall, distinguished looking gent approach the car and beep it with his keys.

“How do you like your Tesla?” says I.
He cracked a huge smile.

“It does exactly what they say it does. I’ve been to Detroit and back, Grand Rapids and back, with no recharge. I love it.”

Sorry Fox News. Electric and Hybrid Cars are taking over.

NYTimes:

In a welcome development for the planet, the cars on American streets are becoming much more climate-friendly much sooner than many had expected. Consumers are increasingly buying fuel-efficient hybrid and electric vehicles thanks to breakthrough innovations and supportive government policies.

The transportation sector accountsfor 28 percent of American greenhouse gas emissions, the most after power plants. Reducing those emissions will require many changes, including greater use of public transit. More efficient cars will almost certainly play a critical role, too; increased fuel efficiency helped reducecarbon dioxide emissions from passengers cars by 16 percent from 2005 to 2012.

Automakers sold more than 350,000 hybrid and electric cars in the first seven months of this year, up 30 percent from the same period in 2012. While these vehicles make up less than 4 percent of light vehicle sales, hybrids, which use electric motors and conventional engines, are now so mainstream that there are more than 40 models available. The most popular one, the Toyota Prius, is among the 10 best-sellingpassenger cars in the country.

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Well, in some cases, like His Excellent and Serene Highness Lord Monckton, birthers and climate deniers are the same people – see below.

What’s interesting about the video above, last night’s “Hardball” interview with Mike Mann, and a republican strategist, is the defensive tone the GOPer takes when challenged about republican science denial and climate denial in particular. For laughs, watch the slightly amused look on Mike Mann’s face about 6:35, where Mathew’s kind of stuffs the “only God can destroy the world” argument in fine, bulletproof style.  Not a huge Mathews fan, but he does well here.

In the piece below, E&E News fills in the details of an emerging strategy.

E&E News:

President Obama’s strongest supporters are executing a play that feels familiar after four years: Use humor and social media to marginalize Republicans as extreme and out of touch on all fronts, from substantive legislation on topics such as immigration to ephemera on the level of unfounded conservative suspicions that the commander in chief was not born in America.

This time, however, the fodder is climate change.

The nonprofit created to promote Obama’s priorities, Organizing for Action (OFA), put together a climate staff in May and last week launched a campaign that handed out unicorn trophies to 135 congressional Republicans who have raised doubts about humans’ role in climate change. These “Denier Awards” made a splashy stage for Obama backers to pre-empt GOP resistance to U.S. EPA emissions rules — while signaling that the president’s team sees a chance to build a national stage for an issue he was savaged as too silent on during his re-election run.

“You’re beginning to hear the Obama team say, ‘OK, you’re going to attack us? It doesn’t make sense for us to ignore it. Let’s heighten these distinctions, let’s expose these individuals,'” Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale University’s Project on Climate Change Communication, said in an interview. “It plays into a broader narrative about the distinctions between the two parties.”

“What they’re doing is socially and morally stigmatizing those political opponents who deny the science of climate change,” Nisbet said in an interview.

“So instead of leaving the middle-ground public to be caught in these cross-pressures as the issue gains more salience for them, instead of it just being a ‘he said, she said’-type echo chamber, they’re sending a very strong message: … Just like the birther claims were wrong and morally outrageous, and ‘death panels’ were wrong and morally outrageous, so are climate [deniers wrong] when people’s health and safety are at risk.”

The “high-end viral potential” of the unicorn-trophies strategy contrasts with the cap-and-trade era during Obama’s first term, when “the issue was discussed almost exclusively in technocratic terms,” Nisbet added. He and Leiserowitz of Yale University agreed that OFA’s new approach is well-suited to engage sectors of the public previously distant from the risks of greenhouse gas emissions, even if it does not pay off at the ballot box against Republicans.

“It’s fairly easy to make them a laughingstock,” DiMartino said of the 135 Republicans, “because most people believe that what 97 or 98 percent of scientists say is probably right.”

I’m particularly stoked about recent developments since the president’s speech in june, in that the term “climate denier” has become standard short-hand for the anti-science movement. When I started the “Climate Denial Crock” series years ago, it was considered somewhat politically incorrect and over the top to use the “D” word, with all the connotations – but in fact, we are dealing with actual clinically diagnosable denial here, as powerful as that in any alcoholic or drug addicted dysfunctional family.  My point has always been that, not to use the word “denial” – is to be in denial yourself.

Using the term “deniers” rather than the milder “skeptics” reinforces the dichotomy Obama supporters hope to create between defenders of national action on emissions and Republicans pushing to slash EPA funding. Chris Prandoni, federal affairs manager at the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform, argued that the D-word obscures some nuance in GOP views on the matter.

Below, His Esteemed and Omniscient Splendiferousness waxes eloquent for a wildly appreciative audience at the Heartland Institute – on Obama’s birth certificate –

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The hinge of history is turning. The climate communication community is gearing up for the assault on the new IPCC 5th Assessment Report, AR5, that will be released starting on September 27th. This time, it looks like the mass media, recognizing how it’s been punked by deniers over the past few years, will give much shorter shrift to the disinformers.

Chicago Sun-Times:

We did it.

And now we have to fix it.

It’s hard to imagine drawing any other conclusion from the latest news on global warming, this time from the preeminent body on the topic:

The odds are at least 95 percent that human activity is the cause of warming of the planet since the 1950s, a United Nations panel of experts has concluded in a draft report leaked to Reuters and the New York Times. The report, which may change slightly in its details but isn’t expected to deviate from its broad conclusions, will be finalized in late September.

That 95 percent figure is up from 90 percent in 2007, 66 percent in 2001 and about 50 percent in 1995. The report comes from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of several hundred scientists that survey and summarize scientific findings on climate change.

But as the latest — and most definitive — assessment on global warming makes clear, manmade global warming is here and already damaging local economies, livelihoods and the natural world we cherish. The only question now is how severe do we want that damage to be — for us today and the generations that will be forced to inhabit a hotter and less hospitable planet.

Justin Gillis in the NYTimes:

The coming report will be the fifth major assessment from the group, created in 1988. Each report has found greater certainty that the planet is warming and greater likelihood that humans are the primary cause.

The 2007 report found “unequivocal” evidence of warming, but hedged a little on responsibility, saying the chances were at least 90 percent that human activities were the cause. The language in the new draft is stronger, saying the odds are at least 95 percent that humans are the principal cause.
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Jason does a nice job in the interview here, which I believe was conducted several weeks before the Dark Snow Team began work in Greenland. NBC’s Ann Curry strikes the right tone.

The footage of scientists coring in the blowing snow was shot by Sara Penrhyn Jones during the Dark Snow sampling at Saddle, the topographical center of the southern Greenland Ice.

I’ll keep hammering on this. There is a train wreck coming in the utility industry, if we do not find the right regulatory structure to allow solar photovoltaics to grow harmoniously as part of the electrical mix. The moment of grid parity is here for sunny states like Arizona, and coming soon even in northern, cloudy areas like the midwest.  We can watch Arizona for lessons on how this will play out – and right now we are seeing the conservative movement fracture alone strange lines as the impulse toward taking control of power production spreads among electrical customers.

Formerly reliable foot-soldiers in the Tea Party/anti-renewable movement are bolting away from Koch funded astro turf groups, in favor of the greater economic freedom,  a more secure power supply, and ultimately, the more stable grid offered by renewables.

CleanTechnica:

Here’s yet another case of a prominent Republican politician joining in the fight for rooftop solar power, this time in the highly contentious and important solar battleground of Arizona. Thanks to Lucy Mason for providing us with this article.

By Former State Representative Lucy Mason

Arizona Public Service has been granted monopoly status to provide power in certain parts of Arizona. It’s also a publicly traded company and has a fiduciary obligation to maximize profits for shareholders. This may lead the company to pursue policies that are in its interests but not those of its ratepayers.

This dynamic is on clear display as APS now works on their response to the impacts created by the Arizona rooftop solar market. By its own admission, its customers’ adoption of rooftop solar is eating into its profits, and potentially its stock price.

As the public is exposed to a debate between APS and solar advocates, some historical perspective might be helpful.

While serving as a Republican in the Arizona State Legislature I believed that in the 21st Century Arizona’s economic future would benefit by harnessing its greatest natural resource – the sun – to become a national leader in the solar market. But APS nearly always opposed efforts to allow a vibrant solar industry because, the more energy efficient customers become, the harder it is for APS to reach its profit. The utility portrays itself as pro-solar because solar has broad public support. Nevertheless, they have only carried out projects required of them by law.

Their latest proposal that would undermine rooftop solar in Arizona would undoubtedly be detrimental to the livelihoods of the 10,000 individuals employed by the Arizona solar industry. So, a growing economically viable industry in Arizona is at risk, at a time when Arizona is trying to rebuild its economy and create healthy business competition. The key word here is “competition.”

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An informed observer writes me:

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) has placed the U.S. at the highest Preparedness Level: 5.  This means:  “Geographic Areas are experiencing major incidents which have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources. 80 percent of Type 1 and 2 IMTs and crews are committed, as well as the majority of other national resources.”  This is a nice way of saying that fires are increasingly likely to burn more acreage and potentially more structures (including homes and businesses) because we are running out of firefighters, rested pilots, equipment, etc. to deal with them.  For lack of a better word, we are at or near a tipping point where the fire season could rapidly become a lot more costly.  The decisions about who gets what resources under these circumstances can be very controversial.

National Interagency Fire Center:

To date, 31,986 wildfires have burned 3.4 million acres in the United States this year. While both of those figures roughly represent only about 60% of the ten-year average, wildfire activity has escalated in recent days after thunderstorms, many with little or no moisture, moved across parts of California, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, sparking hundreds of new fires. 

Climate Central:

With 51 large wildfires currently burning across the U.S., the nation’s firefighters have been placed on a war footing — known as “National Preparedness Level 5.” It’s the first time that step has been taken since 2008, according to Wildfire Today, and it reflects the combination of high fire activity, the large amounts of firefighting resources already committed to wildfires, and the expectation for more fires to erupt in the coming days as hot, dry weather continues across the West.
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Mother Jones environmental reporter Kate Shepherd, on how to communicate climate to someone who, well, does not “give a shit”.  I’m not sure of the event, but the crowd sounds like they are well lubricated.