The Heartland Institute, famous for misinforming on the Health effects of cigarettes, and the bogus science of climate denial, now promotes the views of the creationist Discovery Institute, in attacking Science education as “propaganda”.

Not a surprise to me, as, when I attended the Heartland “science” Conference in 2012, I sat thru a lecture where former astronaut “Jack” Schmitt expressed support for education bills passed in Tennessee and Louisiana, which essentially allow schools to teach religious tracts as part of the science curriculum – see above.

io9:

The Heartland Institute, a prominent, Chicago-based organization opposing climate science, has teamed up with the creationist Discovery Institute to launch a smear campaign against a group promoting the nationwide adoption of updated science education guidelines.

The guidelines in question are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), adopted so far by 11 states and the District of Columbia. The National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science—working with 26 state governments—developed the NGSS to update K-12 science education in schools for the first time since 1998.

But, because the NGSS includes material on evolution and how humans are causing climate change, it has faced opposition in some states. Most recently, the Wyoming legislature became the first in the U.S. to reject the NGSS. Lessons on climate change, lawmakers said, would brainwash kids against the state’s coal and oil industries.

The non-profit National Center for Science Education (NCSE)—whose members include thousands of teachers and scientists—provides information and advice to defend quality science education at local, state, and national levels. And its advocacy on behalf of the NGSS has made it a target for both young-earth creationists and climate change deniers.

And thus, a partnership is blossoming. Yesterday, the main article on the Heartland Institute website is written by the Discovery Institute’s Casey Luskin, whose ignorance of science is the stuff of legends.

His article is the first in a two-part column on “how the National Center for Science Education is targeting the nation’s schools to enforce a mythical consensus on global warming alarmism.”

The column trots out the popular young-earth creationist tropes, such as claims of censorship:

Critics believe that, by seeking to put a lid on scientific controversies, NCSE actually serves as an impediment to science education—such that many school systems and individual teachers refrain from teaching about the topics extensively, or avoid the topics entirely, in order to avoid the wrath of “consensus” enforcers. As a result, the nation’s schoolchildren learn neither the facts underlying the theories and counter-theories, nor the reasoning processes by which real science separates fact from fiction….NCSE has attempted not to promote good science education but to censor views with which it disagrees.

And, Luskin characterizes this as “propagandizing kids,” comparing the new education standards to racist beliefs:

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News about water shortages in the American West are usually illustrated with pictures like that above, showing the decline in surface reservoirs. Now, a science team has looked below the surface.

Turns out the news is worse than we thought.

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab:

A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.

The research team used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin, which are related to changes in water amount on and below the surface. Monthly measurements in the change in water mass from December 2004 to November 2013 revealed the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet (65 cubic kilometers) of freshwater. That’s almost double the volume of the nation’s largest reservoir, Nevada’s Lake Mead. More than three-quarters of the total — about 41 million acre feet (50 cubic kilometers) — was from groundwater. Read the rest of this entry »

DailyClimate:

The impacts are increasingly being felt everywhere – bigger storms in the Midwest, soggy summers in England, drought in Colorado. But nowhere on the planet are the impacts as dramatic as the Arctic, and the ice cap is a prime example.

If you’re sweltering in New York or Miami or Los Angeles, the only ice you’re probably thinking about is the stuff melting fast in your drink.

But up in the Arctic, the ice pack is on pace for another record low. Scientists won’t know for sure until mid-September, the end of the North’s melt season. But two snapshots, one from July 21, 1979, the other from July 21, 2014, show the change.

Below, time lapse of Antarctic September Sea ice extent from 1979.

And here, changes in Arctic (northern) sea ice during the same 1979 to 2012 period.

NSIDC graph current as of 07/24/14

nsidc0714

 

National Snow and Ice Data Center:

During the second half of June, the rate of sea ice loss in the Arctic was the second fastest in the satellite data record. As a result, by the beginning of July extent fell very close to two standard deviations below the long-term (1981 to 2010) average.

Below, Danish maps of Arctic Ice from observations, which date from the turn of the 1900s.

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I’ve reported on clashes between clean energy activists and Utilities in Georgia and Arizona. Other battlefield states emerging as the solar/renewable wave moves across the country.  What we’ve seen so far is that the overwhelming popularity of renewable energy has overcome big money and big clout from utilities and dirty energy advocates like ALEC and Americans for Prosperity.
Look for more in the Southwest and Southeast, gradually moving northward as solar prices continue to drop.
At some point, one or more states will create a solution that will become the template.
Below, review Skip Pruss on the “Value of Solar” initiative that Minnesota has created.

Cleantechnica:

North Carolina has become one of the hottest states in America for solar power, ranking third in the nation for new photovoltaic installations in fourth quarter 2013 and first quarter 2014. But a regulatory fight pitting solar industry against big utilities is underway, and it could effectively end new utility-scale solar additions.

Every two years, the North Carolina Utilities Commission reviews how it calculates the “avoided costs” (the amount utilities would have to pay to generate or buy electricity elsewhere) of clean energy.

This time though, regulators are reviewing both avoided costs and the maximum size of renewable generation systems eligible for standard pricing – a regulatory process that could “have the effect of significantly reducing, if not eliminating” new solar installations in North Carolina.

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Speaking of Rainforests, (see post on this page).. I guess it wasn’t enough for the Tobacco companies to perfect the anti-science movement template.

Turns out global deforestation is also business as usual.

These folks have a Kickstarter campaign, that runs thru next week. If you have already helped out with Dark Snow Project, and have some extra enthusiasm, check this out.

Rainforest Connection:

Rainforest Connection (RFCx) transforms recycled cell-phones into autonomous, solar-powered listening devices that can monitor and pinpoint chainsaw activity at great distance.

This changes the game by providing the world’s first real-time logging detection system, pinpointing deforestation activity as it occurs, and providing the data openly, freely, and immediately to anyone around the world.

For the first time on a scalable level, responsible agents can arrive on the scene in time to interrupt the perpetrators and stop the damage, and the world can listen in as it occurs.

Everyone that was alive can remember where they were when they heard of this.

From the Description:

Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20th, 1969, a little after 4:00in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time. The Lunar Module, nicknamed Eagle and flown by Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, touched down near the southern rim of the Sea of Tranquility, one of the large, dark basins that contribute to the Man in the Moon visible from Earth. Armstrong and Aldrin spent about two hours outside the LM setting up experiments and collecting samples. At one point, Armstrong ventured east of the LM to examine a small crater, dubbed Little West, that he’d flown over just before landing.

The trails of disturbed regolith created by the astronauts’ boots are still clearly visible in photographs of the landing site taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) narrow-angle camera (LROC) more than four decades later.

LROC imagery makes it possible to visit the landing site in a whole new way by flying around a three-dimensional model of the site. LROC scientists created the digital elevation model using a stereo pair of images. Each image in the pair shows the site from a slightly different angle, allowing sophisticated software to infer the shape of the terrain, similar to the way that left and right eye views are combined in the brain to produce the perception of depth.

Someone pointed me to the amusing tweet by the deranged blogger who goes by the name  “Steven Goddard”, fresh from the Heartland Climate Denial conference and feeling his oats apparently, @  Meteorologist Heidi Cullen.

cullen

Got me thinking there needs to be an Arctic ice Update. Fortunately Greg Laden has already given us one.

Yup, it’s melting.

Greg Laden’s Blog:

As it does every summer, the Arctic Sea ice is melting off. Over the last several years, the amount of sea ice that melts by the time it hits minimum in September has generally been increasing. So, how’s it doing now?

The graph above shows the 1981-2010 average plus or minus two standard deviations. Before going into more detail than that, you should look at the following graphic.

laden_ice1

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I have some good news and some bad news.

Slate:

The world’s average temperature is breaking records, and India’s monsoon is in shambles. Borderline El Niño conditions are already here. How much worse will it get?

New data released Thursday by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society—a climate forecasting partnership between Columbia University and NOAA—shows that while ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific are still above normal, the atmospheric response has so far been sluggish. After an impressive ramp upearlier this year, that means the coming El Niño is increasingly likely to fall a bit flat.

What’s going on is relatively straightforward: El Niño is a phenomenon that occurs simultaneously in the ocean and atmosphere, usually initiated by a subsea sloshing of warm water toward the typically cooler Eastern Pacific. That part has already happened. Since the Pacific is so huge, the gradual emergence of a big swath of warmer-than-normal water during an El Niño eventually prompts something else: a reversal in the local trade winds, which can shift weather patterns worldwide. That’s the part we’re still waiting on. This process needs a reinforcing shot of westerly winds (counter the trade winds’ typical direction) to help dampen the cold water thatnormally springs up from deep below the ocean’s surface in the East Pacific. So far, the westerly winds have not come, and cold water is beginning to eat away at the burgeoning El Niño.

According to the IRI, the most likely scenario now is a weak-to-moderate El Niño:

While forecasts of strength still have uncertainty, we think a weak or moderate event more likely than a strong one, and more likely than no event at all. A weak event now appears just slightly more likely than a moderate one.

Meanwhile, in California, new data on Thursday showed the state’s epic drought has continued to worsen. More than 80 percent of California is now classified as under “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. The prospect of a weaker El Niño bodes poorlyfor heavy drought-busting rains along the West Coast this winter.

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In closing my presentation at NetRoots last thursday, I summed up a number of simple things folks could do to fight climate change – one of the most important being, to vote for gosh sake.  I had spotted Congressional candidate Nancy Skinner in the back of the room and asked her to stand.
Fortunately, and this is the cool thing about NetRoots, a writer for Climate Progress, Katie Valentine, was in the room and taking notes.

ClimateProgress:

DETROIT, MICHIGAN — Congressional candidate Nancy Skinner is taking a novel approach when it comes to the issue of climate change: she’s running on it.

Skinner, a Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 11th district, is making climate change a central part of her campaign, hoping her focus on an issue that so many other politicians have shirked or denied will make her stand out in the race, whose primary election is August 5. She told ThinkProgress that taking action to address climate change is particularly pertinent in Michigan, due to the state’s history in and capacity for manufacturing.

The state could be a hub for the production of renewable energy, she said, and could help slow a warming trend that threatens crop reductions, heat waves, longer periods of drought and decreased health of the Great Lakes in the Michigan and the rest of the Midwest.

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