PBS Newshour Paris Update

November 30, 2015


Below, a report on Asia’s choking fossil fuel smog.

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This post was written by Peter Sinclair and Greg Laden in response to a recent Wall Street Journal Op Ed piece by Matt Ridley and Benny Peiser.

In a recent Wall Street Journal commentary, “Your Complete Guide to the Climate Debate,” Matt Ridley and Benny Peiser ask what might make world leaders concerned about the security impacts of climate change. One answer might be the US Department of Defense.

In its 2010 Quadrennial Defense review, Pentagon experts wrote:

“…climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s today’s front page news. A 2014 Defense Department document underlined the message, calling climate warming “a threat multiplier.”

Ridley and Peiser ridicule President Obama over his “careless” statement that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism. Indeed, recent research indicates that the current Syrian refugee crisis is at least partly a result of climate change enhanced drought in the region.

Ridley and Peiser claim that global temperatures have risen only slowly. This is simply untrue. The upward march of global surface temperatures varies, as expected for any natural system such as this, but continues on an upward trend. Contrarian claims of an extended pause in global warming have been debunked over recent months by at least a half dozen studies. (See: this, this, this, this, and this.)

Ridley and Peiser also suggest that surface temperatures have risen less than earlier climate modeling had projected. This, again, is simply untrue. Global surface temperatures have risen at a pace of about 0.15 degrees C per decade since 1990, which is within the range of earlier IPCC projections.

Ridley/Peiser suggest that current record smashing weather events are due to El Nino, not climate change.

Wrong for two reasons.

First, many of the record breaking events we have experienced over recent years happened when there was no El Nino.

Second, records that are set during an El Nino period are, obviously, compared to all other prior El Nino periods as well. This year’s El Nino is exceeding earlier El Nino years in heat and tropical storm activities precisely because of a continued rise in planetary heat.

Ridley and Peiser claim that it has been warmer at times during the last 10,000 years. This statement is not supportable. While scientists know that orbitally caused warming occurred some 8000 years ago, the most current research suggests that today’s surface temperature exceed those values, or will shortly under current trends. Read the rest of this entry »

Looks like CBS is going to be focusing on this during Paris.

Listen to one of the scientists interviewed here talking about the tactics of “climate deniers”  – and catch the follow up discussion by the hosts – who are taking this seriously.


San Antonio Express News:

We’ve long disagreed with Smith in these pages about his views on the human impact on climate change. The debate is settled. The vast majority of scientists believe humans are contributing to the warming of the planet, a view clearly articulated in a unanimous online statement from faculty at the Texas A&M Atmospheric Sciences Department. Given the potential human and economic threats that climate change poses across the globe, and right here in Texas, the stakes are just too high to inject political doubt.

But today our concern with Smith’s chairmanship of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee is chiefly about governance.

His use of cumbersome, widespread records requests; threats of criminal charges if data isn’t released; allegations of political manipulation of data without any evidence; and attacks against well-respected scientists, such as Kathryn Sullivan, a former astronaut who now heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are Orwellian. The broadened subpoena powers are new and unfortunate. No longer does Smith have to consult with the ranking Democrat on the committee before launching an investigation like this.

Smith told Express-News reporter Bill Lambrecht that he has taken such an aggressive approach because the Obama administration hasn’t been honest with the public about climate change and is ostensibly using it as a wedge to force more regulations on industry. He has focused on an NOAA study that found the rate of global warming hasn’t slowed between 1998 and 2012, a finding that runs counter to other studies. Smith has requested emails and internal communications about the study, arguing it was politically manipulated, and has threatened Sullivan with criminal penalties if she doesn’t comply.


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Sonnenbatterie’s wall-mounted household-scale unit combines energy storage, regulator and smart-grid connectivity in a single rather elegant package

Deutshe Welle:

On Wednesday in Berlin, Sonnenbatterie co-founder and CEO Christoph Ostermann presented “SonnenCommunity,” a way for buyers of the company’s household-scale electricity storage batteries – most of whom also have solar photovoltaic panels mounted on their rooftops – to automatically buy and sell energy from each other directly through a shared online platform.

Launching in January, the platform will allow members who have more stored power than they need on a given day to sell electricity to others who are short of electricity.

Sonnen buyers who join SonnenCommunity will directly benefit in financial terms, the company said. For one thing, new Sonnen unit buyers will get a discount of 1,875 euros off the retail price of the battery, in exchange for having to pay a 20 euro per month members’ fee.

Members will also get 1,000 kWh of free electricity per year – power SonnenCommunity will acquire from grid operators at times when excess solar or wind power, due to bright sunshine or strong winds, is flooding Germany’s wholesale electricity market to such an extent that the spot price of electricity goes to zero. That’s an increasingly frequent event in a country where 30 percent of total electricity produced in 2015 was renewable electricity – much of that from wind and solar power.

Buying and selling

Under German law, the electricity grid operator must buy any solar power offered to it by anyone in the country, and pay a regulated “feed-in tariff” that sets a firm price for solar power sold over a 20-year contract period starting when the solar panels are first installed and connected to the grid. At the moment, the grid operator must pay about 11 cents per kWh for new solar power installations.

SonnenCommunity members who instead sell power to other members will get 0.25 euro cents more per kWh than they would get from the grid operator for solar-generated electricity.

A much more significant benefit will accrue to members of SonnenCommunity who are short power on a given day. They’ll pay a flat rate of 23 euro cents per kWh to buy electrictiy from other members of the Community, a much lower rate than the roughly 32 euro cents flat rate they pay to grid operators for electricity.

Meanwhile, the larger vision continues to gel.
Stanford Engineer Mark Jacobsen’s newest study on how to get to 100 percent renewable is out – and it’s a window on a sustainable future.

Let’s make it a door and go thru it.

Scientific American:

Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi have done it again. This time they’ve spelled out how 139 countries can each generate all the energy needed for homes, businesses, industry, transportation, agriculture—everything—from wind, solar and water power technologies, by 2050. Their national blueprints, released Nov. 18, follow similar plans they have published in the past few years to run each of the 50 U.S. states on renewables, as well as the entire world.

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Plot of N Hem major hurricanes by year since 1970. 2015 has 30, 7 more than the previous record of 23 (1997 & 2004).

Graph from Phil Klotzbach via Twitter.

Major Hurricanes, that is, Category 3 or stronger, since 1970.
Statistically, the season is not over yet.

I have questions about this record, about the measurement of hurricane strength, and whether the record is long enough to be meaningful – but this is certainly suggestive that Kerry Emanuel and others, who have warned about increasing incidence of strong storms with climate change, may be on to something.

CBS News coverage of today’s events in Paris.

Amory Lovins has the kind of track record that makes him always worth a listen.
Here, he expands the discussion around volatile oil and gas prices, in the context of an energy paradigm shift.

Below – a descriptive video about a cool game-changing-for-the developing-world-gadget that Lovins mentions above.

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Figure 1
Figure 1: New and old homogenized global land/ocean records from Karl et al, 2015.

The current (#lamarlysenko) climate denial witch hunt being conducted by Lamar Smith and the House Science Committee was triggered by the publication of several new papers which have put to rest one of denial-dom’s favorite nonsense memes – that “temperatures have not been rising” for x years.

In particular, the paper by Thomas Karl and colleagues at NOAA has been a target, so it’s worth reviewing what the NOAA group wrote about.  Nutshell, they tapped into some more reliable data.

Kevin C at SkepticalScience:

Significant recent media and political attention has been focused on the new NOAA temperature record, which shows considerably more warming than their prior record during the period from 1998 to present. The main factor behind these changes is the correction in ocean temperatures to account for the transition from ship engine room intake measurement to buoy-based measurements and a calibration of differences across ships using nighttime marine air temperatures (NMAT). Here we seek to evaluate the changes to the NOAA ocean temperature record by constructing a new buoy-only sea surface temperature record. We find that a record using only buoys (and requiring no adjustments) is effectively identical in trend to the new NOAA record and significantly higher than the old one.

The changes to the prior NOAA global land/ocean temperature series are shown in Figure 1. There are some large changes in the 1930s that are interesting but have little impact on century-scale trends. The new NOAA record also increases temperatures in recent years, resulting a in a record where the period subsequent to 1998 has a trend identical to the period from 1950-1997 (and giving rise to the common claim that the paper was “busting” the recent slowdown in warming).

The paper that presented the revised record, Karl et al, didn’t actually do much that was new. Rather, they put together two previously published records: an update to the NOAA sea surface temperature record (called ERSST) from version 3 to version 4, and the incorporation of a new land record from the International Surface Temperature Initiative (ISTI) that makes use of around 32,000 land stations rather than the 7,000 or so GHCN-Monthly stations previously utilized. The new land record is quite similar to that produced by Berkeley Earth, though it has relatively little impact on the temperature trend vis-à-vis the old land record, particularly during the recent 1998-present period.

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