Below, former conspiracy nut wakes up. Read the rest of this entry »

Heading into an election year that will be marked by wild weather and record heat.

NYTimes:

More than 40 of the nation’s leading environmental and social justice groups demanded a federal investigation of Exxon Mobil on Friday, accusing the huge oil and gas company of deceiving the American public about the risks of climate change to protect its profits.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the groups, citing recent news reports, suggested that Exxon Mobil might be guilty of the same kind of fraud that the tobacco companies were found to have perpetrated when they hid the risks of smoking. Those violations ultimately cost the companies tens of billions of dollars in penalties.

The call for an investigation echoes demands made in recent days by three Democratic presidential candidates, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and by several Democrats in Congress.

Exxon Mobil rejected the comparison to the tobacco industry, declaring that it had helped to finance accurate scientific research about climate change and that it had made its research public from the 1970s to the present.

“There is a definite risk from climate change,” the company’s vice president for public affairs, Kenneth P. Cohen, said on Friday in an interview. “We have an unbroken record of participation in significant and serious scientific inquiry into this problem.”

A spokesman for the Justice Department, Wyn Hornbuckle, said the department was reviewing the letter from the advocacy groups, but had no additional comment on it.

I’ve been seeing the Ad spot above at our local cinema the last few months.
Strikes me as somehow touching on the realization that’s creeping up on a lot of people.

We might be in a little trouble…

KXAN Austin:

ALL-TIME 24 HR RAIN RECORD SMASHED AT ABIA (Austin Bergstrom International Airport): 14.54” today. Previous record: 8.70” on 11/23/1974.

WETTEST MONTH ON RECORD AT ABIA: 22.08″ this month. Previous record: 15.59 in June, 1981.

*Record daily rainfall at Camp Mabry: 4.92”. Now 52.33” in 2015—3rd wettest on record since 1891, with 2 months remaining in the year. Record is 64.68” in 1919.

*Record daily rainall at ABIA: 14.54”. Now 55.26” in 2015—2nd wettest year on record since 1942, with 2 months remaining in year. Record is 55.74” in 1957.

The stranded motorist was rescued.

This isn’t from Hurricane Patricia. That was last week.

Weather.com:

Severe weather is expected to continue in the Southern Plains throughout the weekend.

“The threats are two-fold. First, warm and very humid air coupled with an approaching southward dip in the jet stream will spawn severe thunderstorms, some of which may spawn tornadoes, in Texas and the Deep South through Saturday,” said weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. “Secondly, areas of slow-moving, heavy rain will trigger flash flooding in Texas and Oklahoma through early Saturday, then spread into the Lower Mississippi Valley and Deep South later Saturday. This flood threat includes San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston.”

Read the rest of this entry »

noaa_analysis

In summary, newly corrected and updated global surface temperature data from NOAA’s NCEI do not support the notion of a global warming “hiatus.”

Karl et al Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus

For a better understanding of the paper at the center of the House Science Committee/NOAA kerfuffle – no better person than Dana Nuccitelli at Skeptical Science, followed by John Abraham in the Guardian.

Last week, a paper out of NOAA concluded that contrary to the popular myth, there’s been no pause in global warming. The study made headlines across the world, including widely-read Guardian stories by John Abraham and Karl Mathiesen. In fact, there may have been information overload associated with the paper, but the key points are relatively straightforward and important.

1. Rapid Global Warming Continues

Arguments about short-term temperature changes only deal with the Earth’s surface temperatures, which account for just 1–2% of the overall warming of the planet. More than 90% of that heat goes into the oceans, and as my colleagues and I noted in a paper published 3 years ago, if anything that warming is accelerating, building up heat at a rate faster than 4 atomic bomb detonations per second.

If you carefully cherry pick start and end dates, you can find a period around 1998–2012 during which the warming of surface temperatures slowed a bit due to temporary natural cooling factors (like more La Niñas), just like it sped up a bit during the 1990s due to temporary natural warming factors (like more El Niños). But these are just wiggles on top of the long-term human-caused global warming trend. As Michael Mann put it,

there never was any “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming. There is evidence, however, for a modest, temporary slowdown in surface warming through the early part of this decade.

2. The Surface Warming Slowdown is Probably Over

This is a tough pill to swallow for those who have misused the short-term slowdown in global surface warming to argue against climate policies, but it’s likely over. 2014 was the hottest year on record, and 2015 looks likely to break the record again.

These slowdown-based anti-policy arguments have been made by everyone fromRepublican presidential candidates to political think tanks to science-denying blogs. It’s a simple argument – if we pretend the surface warming slowdown can continue indefinitely, then global warming is less of a concern and we don’t need policies to stop it.

Since we’ve always known the slowdown was temporary, these were never credible arguments, but they nevertheless helped to delay efforts to curb global warming. After the publication of this NOAA paper, and possibly two consecutive record hot years, it seems unlikely that these arguments will be considered credible any longer.

3. The Most Common Denial Response: Conspiracy Theories

Social science research has shown that conspiracy theorists are more likely to reject scientists’ conclusions about climate change. It’s a logical connection – given that 97% of climate scientists and their research agree on human-caused global warming, the easiest way to deny that reality is to accuse all those scientists of being part of a vast conspiracy. Otherwise it’s difficult to justify rejecting the conclusions of 97% of experts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Washington Post:

China, the world’s biggest user of coal, is suddenly burning less of it, a change with enormous implications for the state of the atmosphere and the potential course of global climate change.

The shift has been both abrupt and unexpected, bringing fresh credibility to China’s pledge to rein in its greenhouse gas emissions, now also the highest level in the world. Blamed in the West for the failure of the last global climate change talks, in Copenhagen in 2009, China is setting itself up to play a constructive role at the next round of discussions, in Paris later this year.

As recently as 2010, China added as much coal-fired electricity generation capacity in a single year as exists in all of Germany. It took China’s slowing economy, a slump in heavy industry and unprecedented moves by the Communist Party to curb choking levels of air pollution to produce the drop-off in coal consumption, which began in 2014 and has continued this year.

Still, the idea that China might be transformed from the world’s smoke-belching factory into a cleaner, more high-tech place remains a distant prospect — even with the advent of a new cap-and-trade system that President Xi Jinping has promised to put in place by 2017.

“I was traditionally, honestly extraordinarily pessimistic about all this, if you had asked me two or three years ago,” said Mikkal Herberg, director of the Energy Security Program at the Seattle-based National Bureau of Asian Research. “It is only in the last year or two that I have actually begun to believe they can do some of the things they are promising to do.”

Charleston Gazette (W. Virginia):

ROANOKE — Coal consumption is not likely to increase, regardless of whether new federal regulations on power plants go into effect, and, from coal’s perspective, the national debate on coal and climate change has largely been lost, the president of West Virginia’s largest electric utility told a roomful of energy executives Tuesday.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Hill:

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who is facing a tough reelection contest next year, is touting her support for the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants.

In a web video released by her campaign on Wednesday, Ayotte highlighted her support for the Clean Power Plan, saying it “will help address climate change” in the years ahead.

“As your atorney general, I fought to protect New Hampshire from out of state polluters, and I’ve done the same in the Senate, crossing the aisle to protect New Hampshire’s clean air and water,” Ayotte said in the 30-second video.

“Now, I’m supporting the Clean Power Plan, which will help address climate change with clean energy solutions that preserve our environment.”

Ayotte’s support for the climate rule — and her willingness to publicize it — is in sharp contrast to many other Republicans in the Senate.

A group led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a series of resolutions to undo President Obama’s power plant rules this week, and the Senate is expected to vote on them later this fall.

In a floor speech on Tuesday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he expects a vote against the resolutions to be a political problem for some senators, saying the votes will “[force] accountability by people who are answerable to the public.”

But in New Hampshire, circumstances might be different. Ayotte faces a stiff challenge next year from Gov. Maggie Hassan, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the Senate race and has already attacked the senator on climate issues.

Miami New Times:

The science is conclusive. Vast swaths of Miami-Dade will someday be underwater thanks to rising sea levels caused by carbon emissions. How much of Miami-Dade ends up underwater, however, may depend on what we do now to curb carbon emissions.

So it’s quite odd that Attorney General Pam Bondi announced on Friday she’s joining a lawsuit with the attorney generals of 23 other states against the Obama administration’s requirements to curb those carbon emissions.

Bondi doesn’t really want to talk about it, though. Read the rest of this entry »

A hidden camera recording of the US House Science Committee has come to light, thanks to an intrepid whistle blower.

custerThe outlines are now clear.
The major play by climate deniers to derail an agreement on climate action in coming months will be Rep. Lamar Smith’s initiative to intimidate climate scientists at NOAA, one of the world’s most respected research agencies, and to surveil and intrude on scientists personal conversations in hopes of finding quotes that can be cherry picked or distorted to suit the science denial agenda.

There are a lot of reasons why this might not turn out so well for the Committee.

Inside Climate News:

Citing confidentiality and the integrity of the scientific process, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chose not to turn over all the documents demanded in a subpoena from the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

“Because the confidentiality of these communications among scientists is essential to frank discourse among scientists, those documents were not provided to the Committee,” NOAA said in a statement. “It is the end product of exchanges between scientists – the detailed publication of scientific work and the data that underpins the authors’ findings– that are key to understanding the conclusions reached.”
smithyoulie

Lauren Kurtz, executive director of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, said Smith’s request for NOAA emails is another example of a politically-motivated attack that aims to take scientists’ words out of context. Many climate researchers at public universities, for example, have been subject to extensive Freedom of Information requests for the contents of their inboxes.

“When you have the data, there’s no need to look at a scientist’s email correspondence,” Kurtz said. Her organization provides legal support for climate scientists who face harassment and lawsuits. “A lot of what science is is batting around ideas. You could suggest something kind of zany in an email…and to have it taken out of context publicly is very disturbing.”

The subpoena prompted Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), the ranking minority member on the committee, to send Smith a letter calling his actions “a fishing expedition” and “a serious misuse of Congressional oversight powers.”

(Climate Scientist Ben) Santer had even stronger words for it. “This is not a fishing expedition—this is a trawling expedition,” he said. They’re “looking for an unfortunate phrasing in emails to cast doubt on an entire scientific endeavor.”

Johnson and Santer also questioned whether the committee has the expertise to analyze NOAA’s data.

“I don’t think this is the kind of issue a congressional staffer with little or no scientific training can adjudicate on,” Santer said. “I don’t think that’s credible at all.”

Let’s review: We’ve just come off 2014, the warmest year in the modern record, we are in the closing months of an even warmer year, fueled by a gigantic El Nino event that is, crucially, jacking up temperatures over the most populated and electorally critically areas of the US going into an election year.  (I know it’s not rational and should not be important but research and experience show that it is…)

weatherforcast2016, at least the first few critical months, looks to continue the accelerated warming. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch closely. We’re all going to learn something.

Rep. Lamar Smith is Chairman of what has become the Anti-Science Committee in Congress. He’s unhappy that the most recent NOAA research has shown one of denier-dom’s most closely held fictions, the so-called “pause” in global surface temperature, is an illusion.  Rep. Smith has now accused the nation’s most respected and credible scientists of lying.

The standard congressional science denial pathway, laid down when “Smokey Joe” Barton first started an intimidation campaign on behalf of the tobacco industry, starts with “demand the data”.  Which is kind of lame, since, in this era of online science, Data, methods, and all relevant findings are available instantly online.

dldataOops.

Ok, plan B is to issue a subpoena for “communications between or among employees” involved in the study.  Even the stupidest committee staffer knows there will be no “Yes comrades, we will now bring down the capitalist running dogs and their fossil fuels, and implement world government” quotes in the emails. What they are hoping for is to fish for quotes that can be lifted out of context, blown up in the right wing media, and create a new “Climategate” circus on the eve of the important climate negotiations that will begin in Paris in the coming month. Remember “Climategate”?   Almost nobody outside of the wonk community does – but it was a major media kerfuffle timed precisely to interfere with 2009’s climate negotiations in Copenhagen, which ultimately failed.

One powerful result of that fiasco was an awakened and galvanized science community has upped their communication game, started talking to media, and through media, and cultivating new channels for educating the public – so successfully, that subsequent attempts to whip up more email madness have landed with very dull thuds.

If you’ve been wondering what the ginned-up sideshow would be this time around, now we know. Read the rest of this entry »

Angela Fritz for Capital Weather Gang:

Ocean water surged into neighborhoods on the Southeast coast on Tuesday morning during high tide, pushing gauges well beyond predicted levels. Seemingly overnight, spurred by sea level rise, we’ve entered an era where king tides compete with hurricanes in the water level record books.

Tuesday morning’s high tide peaked at 8.69 feet in Charleston, over a foot and a half higher than the predicted level. The highest crest on record in Charleston was 12.56 feet on Sept. 21, 1989 — the day that Hurricane Hugo made landfall in South Carolina.

coastalfloodtweet

The water level near Savannah, Ga., reached 10.43 feet, which was the third highest on record for the station. The top two records are 10.47 feet on Aug. 11, 1940, when a Category 2 hurricane made landfall on the Georgia and South Carolina coast, and 10.87 on Oct. 15, 1947, when Hurricane Nine made landfall in the same location.

Residents are saying Tuesday’s high tide was worse than South Carolina’s “1,000-year flood” in early October.

savannah1

Read the rest of this entry »