lakemeadSea Level rising, drinkable water disappearing as the West’s brutal prolonged drought continues.

Digital Journal:

Lake Mead’s source, the Colorado River has been suffering from a severe 14-year drought. The 79-year-old reservoir, created with the construction of the Hoover Dam outside Las Vegas, is expected to reach a low water level of 1,080 feet today.

The new record low will exceed the 1,080.19 feet reached in August last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Predictions are that by May 1 of this year, the water level in Lake Mead will dip to 1,075 feet, which is well below the record high level of 1,206 feet set in the 1980s,
Long range forecast is not good for Lake Mead

The 1,450 mile long Colorado River meanders through several smaller reservoirs on its way to Lake Mead. But as the river continues to be affected by the current drought, it has lost 45 percent of its capacity, a worrisome amount to lose. Lake Mead supplies water for agriculture and about 40 million people in Nevada, southern California, Arizona and northern Mexico.

The scarcity of snow from the mountains in the “upper basin” region that includes the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming has been the biggest factor in the lower water levels in the lake. At least 96 percent of Lake Mead’s water comes from melting snow.
The water level in the lake is reaching a critical “trigger point,” and when lake levels drop to a certain point, the federal government will step in and begin rationing water deliveries to Nevada, Arizona and California. The Bureau of Reclamation has already done extensive studies and the forecast is not good. They believe the drought will not be ending anytime soon.

More from our historic set of interviews at last year’s American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. In a tiny basement room, we set up cameras and recorded dozens of the most significant researchers from around the planet on the Story of the Millennium.

John Cook gave Michael Mann the chance to expand on the most famous of the widely distorted “climate gate” emails, containing the grossly distorted phrases “Mike’s Nature trick”, and “Hide the decline”.

This and all the other videos are now part of John Cook’s Climate Change MOOC, (Massive Online Open Course), a treasure for anyone who wishes to better understand climate science, and be able to persuade and educate others on the facts.  The course proceeds on the principle that better understanding the distortions of deniers actually is a good way for us to learn the facts, and “inoculate” others against similar disinformation.

The Conversation:

How then should scientists respond to science denial? The answer lies in a branch of psychology dating back to the 1960s known as “inoculation theory”. Inoculation is an idea that changed history: stop a virus from spreading by exposing people to a weak form of the virus. This simple concept has saved millions of lives.

In the psychological domain, inoculation theory applies the concept of inoculation to knowledge. When we teach science, we typically restrict ourselves to just explaining the science. This is like giving people vitamins. We’re providing the information required for a healthier understanding. But vitamins don’t necessarily grant immunity against a virus.

There is a similar dynamic with misinformation. You might have a healthy understanding of the science. But if you encounter a myth that distorts the science, you’re confronted with a conflict between the science and the myth. If you don’t understand the technique used to distort the science, you have no way to resolve that conflict.

Half a century of research into inoculation theory has found that the way to neutralise misinformation is to expose people to a weak form of the misinformation. The way to achieve this is to explain the fallacy employed by the myth. Once people understand the techniques used to distort the science, they can reconcile the myth with the fact.

Below, my own more detailed explanation, which I produced with Mike’s  input.

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Under climate change, avalanches, with or without earthquakes, have become more frequent and more lethal on Mt. Everest.

Business Insider:

A new video from Mount Everest base camp shows people fleeing from Saturday’s deadly avalanche that left at least 17 dead and 61 injured.

“The ground is shaking,” one man says as the avalanche approaches.

Nepal’s worst earthquake in 81 years — which has claimed at least 2,200 lives— triggered the avalanche.

The video was shot by German adventurer Jost Kobusch, according to ITV. He filmed the incoming wall of snow before diving into his tent for cover.

Telegraph – one year ago:

Climbing to the roof of the world is becoming less predictable and possibly more dangerous, scientists say, as climate change brings warmer temperatures that may eat through the ice and snow on Mount Everest.

Nepal was left reeling when a sudden ice avalanche slammed down onto a group of Sherpa guides on Friday and killed 16 in the deadliest single disaster on Everest. While it is impossible to link any single event to long-term changes in the global climate, scientists say the future will likely hold more such dangers in high-altitude regions.

Avalanches of snow, rock or ice could increase. Climbing and trekking terrains would become unsteady. Glaciers may be more unpredictable. Storms will become more erratic, and the Himalayas in particular could see more snow as warming oceans send more moisture into the air for the annual Indian monsoon that showers the 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) mountain range.

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If you saw the President’s as-always, pitch near-perfect and impeccably timed speech to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last, you saw his final bit with his “Anger Translator”, a brillant parody on the ‘angry  black man” so loved and feared by the Fox News Crowd.
But even the Anger Translator is taken aback by the President’s rage about climate deniers….

The use of humor to cut thru to the bone is rarely deployed like this by a Chief Executive.  Only John Oliver has done anything quite as skewering as this.

Below, the equally brilliant and effective piece from Oliver’s Last Week Tonight show.

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Vintage military documentary of mid-20th century research and technology at the South Pole.

Used some clips from this in my most recent “This is Not Cool” video.

Chris Mooney in the Washington Post:

“Change the world!” is probably Nye’s trademark line — it was written in a 1992 “rules of the road” memo, he says, that he delivered to all incoming staff on the set of the 1990s PBS show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” telling them modestly what their goals were.

With that TV series, Nye captivated kids with scientific showmanship and humor. In the last few years, though, he has not only recaptured that now-grown-up audience but won an even larger one, with something quite different.

He’s still a jokester — but he’s also become someone who acts a bit like a science gladiator, willing to debate anyone who expressed skepticism about the science of evolution and climate change. He’ll do it on TV — or even at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, where he famously debated creationist leader Ken Ham.

In the process, he’s become one of the nation’s leading spokespeople on the climate change issue. “It wasn’t conscious,” Nye say. “I was just playing the hand I was dealt. I take the complicated ideas and make them accessible to everybody.”

There is, admittedly, sometimes a tension involved in Nye’s newer and more politically charged role. His friend and fellow science celebrity Neil deGrasse Tyson declines to debate those who challenge science — sticking more with the role of an educator.

Nye feels different. “Bring it on,” he says.

burnethIn anticipation of the upcoming Papal encyclical (declaration) on climate change, the anti-science “think” tank Heartland Institute will be sending a delegation to the Vatican, they claim, to “educate” Pope Francis about climate change. Perhaps the famously pro-tobacco activists will educate him about the safety of tobacco products as well.


A US activist group that has received funding from energy companies and the foundation controlled by conservative activist Charles Koch is trying to persuade the Vatican that “there is no global warming crisis” ahead of an environmental statement by Pope Francis this summer that is expected to call for strong action to combat climate change.

Scripps Institute of Oceanography:

Scripps climate and atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan meets with Pope Francis on May 6 (2014). Ramanathan, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since 2004, co-convened a historic workshop of that academy and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, on society’s responsibility to preserve nature. Ramanathan said he used the opportunity to draw the Pope’s attention to the fact that the 3 billion of the world’s poorest people who do not use fossil fuels to meet their energy needs will nonetheless suffer the worst consequences of climate change. The encounter took place on the final day of the May 2-6 workshop.

popescientistHeadvise alert below.

Heartland Institute: (no I won’t give them a link):

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences of the Roman Catholic Church is holding a workshop on global warming on April 28, 2015 at the Vatican. This website provides articles and links about global warming and the workshop, so you can tell Pope Francis: Global warming is not a crisis!

Faith in Action

Many people of faith who are familiar with the science and economics of climate change are worried this event will become a platform for alarmism over a controversial scientific issue. Scientists are unsure how large the human impact on climate is and whether there is anything mankind can do to affect climate. There is no scientific “consensus” on whether there is any need to reduce mankind’s use of fossil fuels. But alarmists claim the “science is settled” and denounce anyone who disagrees as “deniers.” They call for drastic reductions in fossil fuel consumption, or even no consumption at all.

Most people agree that safeguarding creation – and being a good steward of the environment – is a high moral obligation. If human activity posed a genuine threat to the world’s climate, then some action would be appropriate. But global warming alarmists wave off any evidence that the threat is small or even nonexistent, and they call for policies that would shut down virtually all economic activity around the world. These unnecessary policies would cause the suffering and even death of billions of people. All people of faith should rise up in opposition to such policies.


Certain persons currently scheduled to speak at the workshop, including UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, are outspoken advocates of the man-made global warming hypothesis. They and other climate alarmists have misrepresented the facts, concocted false data, and tried to shut down a reasonable, scientific debate on the issue of climate change. This conduct violates the Eighth Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

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Dallas Morning News:

A little more than a year ago a $7 billion expansion of Texas’ power grid was completed to accommodate the flurry of new wind farms under construction.

But as wind power continues to boom across the plains of West Texas and the Panhandle, the system — named CREZ, or Competitive Renewable Energy Zones — could soon be nearing capacity again.

The state’s grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, is studying the transmission system in the Texas Panhandle, where at least 2,200 megawatts’ worth of new wind farms — enough to power more than 400,000 homes — are expected to begin operation before 2017.

Right now the region has about half that much wind capacity. And with an additional 3,600 megawatts planned, it might not be too long before the CREZ lines reach their limit, said ERCOT’s director of system planning, Warren Lasher.

“A lot has changed since the CREZ project was first established in 2006,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of interest in the Panhandle. And if additional wind farms [commit to construction], above a certain point we will need new transmission.”

After peeling my jaw off the floor from watching this series of stunning time lapses, first thing that came to mind.

Large volcanic eruptions can eject a enough aerosol particulates, sulfates especially, high into the atmosphere, to reflect significant amounts of sunlight, and cool the climate for a period of months, or longer.

After consulting with several experts, one early take is that it’s not the right time of year in the southern hemisphere for the particles to get entrained high enough to make a difference. More study needed.

UPDATE: Carbon Brief has a piece on this question:

Not all volcano eruptions are the same. Volcanic eruptions are rated from zero to eight on a scale of  explosivity, measured by the amount of ash and debris they produce.

Before Calbuco, the most recent significant volcano eruption was Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in June 1991. This was rated as a six, while the first of the Calbuco eruptions has been rated as a four or five,  according to a minister of the Chilean Government.

The characteristics of the ash cloud largely determine whether an volcanic eruption influences the climate or not.

One important factor is how high it reaches in the atmosphere, Prof Richard Allan, professor of climate science at the University of Reading, tells Carbon Brief:

“If a volcanic eruption is large enough to reach the stratosphere – above 8km in polar regions and above 15km in tropical regions – the absence of weather at these altitudes means that the injected aerosol particles can stick around for a number of years, reflecting sunlight back to space and cooling the planet.”

The Pinatubo ash cloud extended 35 kilometers into the atmosphere, cooling parts of the world by up to 0.4C for two years after the eruption.

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One of the frustrations for climate communicators over the years has been the unwillingness of TV weathercasters to come to grips with climate change.  That’s a big deal, because for a large majority of citizens, the weather guy or gal is the closest thing they ever see to an actual atmospheric scientist.
Most of them are not meteorologists, but rather communication specialists with (maybe) some met 101 courses in their transcript. Many are employed by extremely conservative media organizations, and are loathe to be seen as promoting a “liberal agenda” (science!).

For several years, there have been ongoing efforts by a number of top flight scientists and communicators to reach out and answer questions for this group.  It may be that these efforts, and the accelerated pounding by Mother Nature, are having an effect.

A new survey offers a glimmer of hope.

Below, Pippa the Weather Girl goes Rogue! Read the rest of this entry »