Shadowy hackers, distorted, weaponized e-mails, veiled threats from White Supremacists, possible Russian connections, …insane Alex Jones rants…where have we seen this before?

Let me think…

I was reviewing the video below when it really hit me just how close the parallels are between 2010’s “Climate gate” nonsense and the current election cycle.

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“We need to make solar panels as appealing as electric cars have become.”

Another Al Gore impression from America’s most dynamic industrial leader.

Financial Times:

About 500,000 solar panels were installed every day last year as a record-shattering surge in green electricity saw renewables overtake coal as the world’s largest source of installed power capacity.

Two wind turbines went up every hour in countries such as China, according to International Energy Agency officials who have sharply upgraded their forecasts of how fast renewable energy sources will keep growing.

“We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the global energy advisory agency.

Part of the growth was caused by falls in the cost of solar and onshore wind power that Mr Birol said would have been “unthinkable” only five years ago.

Although coal and other fossil fuels remain the largest source of electricity generation, many conventional power utilities and energy groups have been confounded by the speed at which renewables have grown and the rapid drop in costs for the technologies.

Average global generation costs for new onshore wind farms fell by an estimated 30 per cent between 2010 and 2015 while those for big solar panel plants fell by an even steeper two-thirds, an IEA report published on Tuesday showed.

The Paris-based agency thinks costs are likely to fall even further over the next five years, by 15 per cent on average for wind and by a quarter for solar power.

Came back from Miami with some jaw dropping footage, that I’ve shared in 2 speaking gigs this week, that will be part of the next “This is Not Cool” vid.

Step one is to review my previous take on this, which is the most popular in the series.

If you remember the story about Florida Governor Rick Scott banning use of the phrase “Climate Change”?
If you were watching this series, you knew about it 4 months before the Miami Herald did.

One of the forgotten jewels of 90’s culture was the all too short lived Jim Henson creation Dinosaurs.
Watch this piece, and you’ll agree with me that the writers were seers speaking to our time, from theirs.

Wikipedia:

Dinosaurs is initially set in 60,000,003 BC in Pangaea. The show centers on the Sinclair family: Earl Sinclair (the father), Fran Sinclair (née Phillips), the mother and Earl’s wife, their three children—son Robbie, daughter Charlene, and Baby Sinclair—and Fran’s mother, Ethyl.

Earl’s job is to push over trees for the Wesayso Corporation with his friend and coworker Roy Hess where they work under the supervision of their boss Bradley P. Richfield.

One of the most perplexing, and maybe saddest, stories of the year – comes out of Washington state, where a carbon fee-and-dividend bill is on the ballot, yet climate activists can’t seem to unite and support it.

New York Times:

Carbon Washington, the initiative campaign, maintains that Initiative 732 would be revenue neutral and that, by reducing the state sales tax, the proposal would make taxation in Washington less regressive. (Washington does not have an income tax, so it relies heavily on state and local sales taxes, which can reach as high as 9.5 percent in some communities.) The state’s Office of Financial Management, however, says the proposal would reduce tax revenue overall.

Initiative 732 faces opposition from the usual sources, like the fossil fuel industry and manufacturers. What is more surprising is that many environmental, labor and minority groups have opposed or declined to support the proposal. The Sierra Club, the Washington Environmental Council and other groups have said that they support the aims of the initiative, but argue that it falls short because it won’t directly invest money in renewable energy, mass transit and other projects they argue are more important than cutting the sales tax. These criticisms have some merit, and a better-designed proposal would dedicate some money for programs designed to ease the adjustment to a low-carbon economy.

A recent poll showed that 42 percent of voters in Washington support Initiative 732, 37 percent oppose it and 21 percent are undecided. Most state lawmakers are opposed to the ballot measure, including Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat who is seeking re-election and previously proposed a cap-and-trade system. The Audubon Society’s Washington chapter and many climate scientists, however, are backing the proposal. Even if voters reject this particular initiative, the idea of putting a price on carbon is still one of the most straightforward, economy-friendly ways to deal with climate change.

Dave Roberts in Vox:

Here’s the situation. There’s a carbon tax on the ballot in Washington this November, meant not just to put the state on the path to its climate targets but to serve as an example to other states.

The measure, called Initiative 732, isn’t just any carbon tax, either. It’s a big one. It would be the first carbon tax in the US, the biggest in North America, and one of the most ambitious in the world.

And yet the left opposes it. The Democratic Party, community-of-color groups, organized labor, big liberal donors, and even most big environmental groups have come out against it.

Why on Earth would the left oppose the first and biggest carbon tax in the country? How has the climate community in Washington ended up in what one participant calls a “train wreck”? (Others have described it in more, er, colorful terms.)

That turns out to be a complex and ill-fated story, revealing divisions among climate hawks — over who pays, who benefits, and who decides — that will not long stay confined to the West Coast. The future of climate politics is playing out in Washington state, and it is not pretty.

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New computer is ordered – won’t be here till next week, and given my work/travel schedule, it will take a week or so to get set up. For now, limping along – but I was glad to  find this lecture and QA from Stefan Rahmstorf on the mysterious “cold blob” and impacts on the Gulf stream.  My video on the issue at bottom.

Stefan Rahmstorf in RealClimate:

What is the cause of the cold blob?

In principle, there can be two reasons for a change in ocean temperature: heat exchange through the surface or heat transports within the ocean. Halldór Björnsson of the Icelandic weather service showed in his lecture on Saturday that the short-term temperature fluctuations from year to year correlate with the heat exchange through the sea surface, but that this does not explain the longer-term development of the ‘cold blob’ over decades. He concluded that the latter is caused by changes in the North Atlantic ocean circulation, also called the Gulf Stream System. That’s exactly what one expects. Weather dominates the short-term fluctuations, but the ocean currents dominate the long-term development.

One suggestion that had been made some years ago – that the cooling may be caused by shading the sun by aerosol pollution – did not show up in the discussion on Saturday. In the scientific literature that idea was rapidly contradicted at the time, for good reasons (we discussed this in more detail in our paper).

What evidence speaks for a slowdown of the Gulf Stream System?

The basic problem is the lack of direct, continuous measurements of the key circulation in the Atlantic, the so-called AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation). Such measurements are only available since 2004 through a series of moorings at 26°N (RAPID project). For the longer term development, one must therefore use indirect indicators of the flow.

My colleagues Mihai Dima and Gerrit Lohmann of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany in a 2010 study analysed the patterns of changes in global sea surface temperatures. They were the first to conclude that the AMOC has been weakening since the 1930’s. The evidence for this is the trend towards cooling in the subpolar North Atlantic which anti-correlates with temperatures in the South Atlantic (suggesting reduced heat transport from the South Atlantic to the North Atlantic). In addition, Dima and Lohmann found an anti-correlation to the temperatures off the US East Coast, to the south-west of the ‘cold blob’. This is not seen in Fig. 1 above, since the NASA data use a smoothing radius of 1200 km, but you can see it, for example, in the currently high temperatures in Fig. 2.

The latest high resolution simulations of the GFDL in Princeton show precisely this pattern in response to a CO2 increase in the atmosphere (discussed more in this RealClimate post). In the model the cause is a slowdown of the Gulf Stream system. There are also coral data from the Gulf of Maine off the US coast, which indicate a similar time evolution of water mass changes there as the ‘cold blob’ (discussed further in the same post).

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Above, Eminem’s new “Campaign Speech”.  There is nothing wrong with your screen.
***NSFW*** Audio.

Robinson Meyer in the Atlantic:

Lately I’ve been thinking back to something that John Kerry told The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, earlier this year. Asked about the importance of the Middle East to the United States, Kerry answered entirely about the Islamic State.

“Imagine what would happen if we don’t stand and fight [ISIS],” he said:

If we didn’t do that, you could have allies and friends of ours fall. You could have a massive migration into Europe that destroys Europe, leads to the pure destruction of Europe, ends the European project, and everyone runs for cover and you’ve got the 1930s all over again, with nationalism and fascism and other things breaking out. Of course we have an interest in this, a huge interest in this.

The 1930s all over again—Kerry was laying out a prediction in April, but it soundsa little more like description now. Even if America’s current dunderheaded demagogue loses the presidential election, the European project already falters in the United Kingdom, and Russia rumbles with revanchism. Fueled now (as then) by an ailing global economy, far-right nationalism seems ascendant worldwide. It’s hard not to think of the 1930s as the catastrophe which presaged our contemporary tragicomedy.

I write and report on climate change, not a pursuit that usually encourages optimism, but watching all this unfold with the atmosphere in mind has been particularly bleak. For the past few months in particular, I’ve been thinking: Wow, this is all happening way earlier than I thought it would.Spend enough time with some of the worst-case climate scenarios, and you may start to assume, as I did, that a major demagogue would contest the presidency in the next century. I figured that the catastrophic consequences of planetary warming would all but ensure the necessary conditions for such a leader, and I imagined their support coming from a movement motivated by ethnonationalism, economic stagnation, and hatred of immigrants and refugees. I pictured, in other words, something not so far from Trump 2016.

I just assumed it wouldn’t pop up until 2040.

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I included interviews here with David Barber, one of the truly important experts in the area, that I conducted on the first leg of this year’s crowd funded Dark Snow Field work, at a meeting in Lund, Sweden.

You’ll also see Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center

Important points: although this year did not set a new record low for sea ice minimum, the kind of ice loss we did see, and the mechanism of that loss, show that, even in a year when the months of greatest insolation, july and august, were not particularly conducive to melt, we can still see dramatic losses.

Also, important fun fact – although we generally assume that since the ice is melting, it automatically makes human endeavors in polar regions easier and safer. Not so.
Barber points out some counterintuitive processes that make the arctic more unpredictable, and at least for now, just as challenging if not more so than in the past.

I included Andy Lee Robinson’s terrific 3-d graph of sea ice melt in passing, but did not have the most recent version in time for this piece, so am posting that below. Read the rest of this entry »

Actually, misnomer, it’s not the farts we worry about, its the burps.  In any case, they are an important source of greenhouse gases.

Could there be a solution from an unexpected source?

The Conversation:

When Canadian farmer Joe Dorgan noticed about 11 years ago that cattle in a paddock by the sea were more productive than his other cows, he didn’t just rediscover an Ancient Greek and Icelandic practice.

While the Ancient Greeks didn’t have to contend with global warming, it turns out that this practice could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 21st-century livestock farming.

Cows and sheep produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Despite misconceptions, most cow methane comes from burps (90%) rather than farts (10%). Livestock produce the equivalent of 5% of human-generated greenhouse gases each year, or five times Australia’s total emissions.

Dorgan’s cattle were eating storm-tossed seaweed. Canadian researchers Rob Kinley and Alan Fredeen have since found that seaweed not only helped improve the cows’ health and growth, but also reduced their methane production by about 20%.

This and other lines of evidence led Kinley, who by then had moved to CSIRO, to team up with other CSIRO scientists and marine algae specialists at James Cook University to test a wide range of seaweeds.

They tested 20 seaweed species and found that they reduce methane production in test-tube samples from cow stomachs by anything from zero to 50%. But to do this required high amounts of seaweed (20% by weight of the sample) which was likely to present digestion issues for animals.

But when the researchers tested a particular type of seaweed collected from Queensland’s coastal waters, they thought their instruments were broken and ran the tests again. It turns out that Asparagopsis taxiformis reduces methane production by more than 99% in the lab. And unlike other seaweeds where the effect diminishes at low doses, this species works at doses of less than 2%.

Asparagopsis produces a compound called bromoform (CHBr₃), which prevents methane production by reacting with vitamin B12 at the last step. This disrupts the enzymes used by gut microbes that produce methane gas as waste during digestion.

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