I get some of my best compliments from climate deniers, actually.

Last year it was Neo-nazi not-so Breitbart, taking exception to my vid that fried Senator Cruz’s climate denial.  Writer James Delingpole allowed  “..The video is well produced and cleverly constructed – designed to look measured and reasonable”-
I couldn’t have said it better myself. That is my process, Jimmy.

Now comes the right-wing fossil fuel shill Cato Institute, who apparently thought it made sense to leap to the defense of a cartoon with a comically bad piece by long discredited denialist for hire Ross McKitrick, a right wing boob and purported economist with no climate science background. Good choice!

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On the plus side, Mckitrick gives the devil (me) his due:
“The video is full of impressive-looking scientists talking about charts and data and whatnot. It probably cost a lot to make and certainly involved a lot of time and effort.”

Well, I’ll just say, cleverly designed to look like it cost a lot.

If you haven’t seen the video, the very first line, from atmospheric expert Andrew Dessler, is “….the people who know the least about climate science are the ones most fixated on models.”  Cato/McKitrick set about to prove just that, once again.

Ross McKitrick for Cato Institute:

Fine, let’s go to the 2:38 mark and watch someone named Sarah Myhre tell us what this inarguable science says.

“It’s irrefutable evidence that there are major consequences that come with climate warming, and that we take these Earth systems to be very stable, we take them for granted, and they’re not stable, they’re deeply unstable when you perturb the carbon system in the atmosphere.”

How does she know this? From models of course.

Well, yeah, that, and 200 years of physics, plus 4 billion years of earth history that tells us most of what we know about how the earth responds to greenhouse gases.

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By the way, “..someone named Sarah Myhre” is a PhD paleoecologist/paleoclimatologist
– in other words, someone with a PhD’s worth more training in the field than Mr. McKitrick, but who, because she’s a woman, he feels he can diss. Classy.

Mckitrick’s point seems to be that saying deniers are overly fixated on models is a “straw man”. He then goes on paragraph after paragraph fixating on … models.

Key point of the video comes when Ben Santer explains that the observations we now have are unexplainable by natural causes.  Most notably, tho not in the scope of this vid due to time constraints, are the changes in the vertical structure of the atmosphere, i.e. warming low down, cooling up high, which are ONLY possible in a world where human released greenhouse gases are changing the atmospheres radiative profile.

(Anyone with any doubts about how well the models have performed should watch another piece from a few months ago.) Read the rest of this entry »

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First phase of Field season 2017 is already underway.
Dark Snow Project is supporting Snow Chemist Ross Edwards in an ice sheet transit via the amazing Wind Sled – a new initiative in Green Science in the arctic.
Fundraiser is still going on, almost to our goal – see post elsewhere on this page.

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Phase 2 will be when I go to Greenland in July, more on that as plans gel.

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Jason Box has been tweeting out Ross’s updates from the ice.

 

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Classic DC gaffe is to speak the truth.

CNN Money:

“Coal doesn’t even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock,” Gary Cohn said, aboard Air Force One on Thursday, referring to raw materials that get converted into a fuel.
Cohn, who serves as director of the White House National Economic Council, instead praised natural gas as “such a cleaner fuel” — and one that America has become an “abundant producer of.”

While Trump rarely talks up the potential of renewable energy, Cohn sounds like a fan.

“If you think about how solar and how much wind power we’ve created in the United States, we can be a manufacturing powerhouse and still be environmentally friendly,” Cohn said.

Cohn’s comments stand out, but not because they are inaccurate. They jive with what energy experts have been saying for some time. It’s just that Cohn’s comments sound like ones that were written by President Obama’s speechwriters, not Trump’s.

The White House didn’t respond to questions about whether Cohn’s remarks signal a shift in Trump’s energy and environmental policies.

Traditionally we’ve been told about the “hundreds of years worth of coal” supplies. I’ve posted before about the serious flaws in that notion.

Bloomberg:

Ritchie, a Ph.D. candidate in resources and the environment at the University of British Columbia, was working as a teaching assistant in 2013 and trying to come up with assignments for his students. Looking through “business as usual” and worst-case scenarios for the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, he saw that reliance on coal for energy started ramping up around 2040.

“Why is that?” he remembers asking himself.

The question evolved into his dissertation work—and to the most provocative conclusion of his study, published last month to little fanfare in the journal Energy Economics. Inflated coal estimates had become at some point “a virtually unlimited backstop supply [that] has misinformed a generation of long-term energy scenarios,” Ritchie and his co-author, UBC professor Hadi Dowlatabadi, write in their paper. The estimates reflected all geologically identified coal, not the fraction it may be possible to dig out.

In other words, Ritchie and Dowlatabadi found, there may not be enough accessible coal to fuel the worst-case scenario of global warming.

“For the past quarter-century, high emission baselines have been the focus of research, explicitly or implicitly shaping national policy benchmarks, such as estimates for the social cost of carbon,” the paper says, referring to the dollars-per-ton measure used by government and business to factor future climate damage into today’s spending.

That sentence flies pretty close to the white-hot center of the climate policy debate in Washington. Quantifying the “social cost of carbon” is an arduous process that has become a highly politicized issue. Steep costs from capping coal emissions have been baked into policy for years, “and realistically I don’t know if that can hold up anymore, if you take the ‘coal backstop’ out,” said Ritchie, who is doing his Ph.D. work at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

Read the rest of this entry »

I have been fortunate, several times,  to interview Kerry Emanuel of MIT, probably the foremost hurricane expert in the world, above.  In a nutshell, here’s what he tells me.

Long term trends for hurricanes are not completely clear, but models indicate that stronger storms could be an outcome of continued climate change.  Very early indications are that the number of stronger storms, Category 3 and higher, are increasing in the Atlantic, and possibly in the Pacific as well.

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This year, above average predictions – watch for possible El Nino – which might depress hurricanes, but brings a whole raft of other concerns.

Bloomberg:

The Atlantic hurricane season will likely churn out an above-average 11 to 17 named storms, in part due to fading odds than an El Nino will form in the Pacific.

Of storms that emerge during the six-month season that begins June 1, five to nine will reach hurricane strength with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. Two to four may become major systems reaching Category 3 or stronger on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

The Earth’s most powerful storms can threaten lives, destroy property and move global energy and agricultural markets. An estimated $28.3 trillion worth of homes, businesses and infrastructure is vulnerable to hurricane strikes in the 18 U.S. Atlantic coastal states, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

“There is a potential for a lot of Atlantic storm activity this year, ” Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator, said on a conference call. “We cannot stop hurricanes but we can prepare for them.”

The U.S. hasn’t been struck by a major system since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. In September, Hurricane Matthew killed at least 585 people, most of them on Haiti, making it the deadliest storm since Wilma. Matthew went on to graze the U.S. East Coast, causing widespread flooding across the South before making landfall in South Carolina.

In an average season, the Atlantic spins off 12 storm systems. A year ago, the U.S. predicted 10 to 16 would form while the season eventually saw 15 storms.

 

 

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Moving toward our goal for this year’s field season. Still a couple weeks to go on this campaign – help Citizen Science push back against Dark Side.

 

Above, newly confirmed EPA Director Scott Pruitt makes the claim that the Paris Climate agreement makes no demands on China and India before 2030.  He can’t be this stupid, so we just have to call that a lie.

In planning for electrical production, 10 years from now is today. Utility planners know this. So it is that China, for instance, is already moving on promises to level out emissions by 2030 – and in fact, may already have done so.

Forbes:

One of China’s top climate scientists says that China is on track to see carbon dioxide emissions peak between 2020 and 2022, almost a decade earlier than the Chinese leadership has promised, and to make its economy far more energy-efficient than expected. Beijing’s Energy Research Institute’s Senior Researcher Jiang Kejun also confirmed that China’s coal use peaked in 2014, a full decade before most observers thought that it would be possible; the seeming decline since that peak has been regarded by some analysts as a temporary blip due to factors such as a weak economy and increased hydropower in a rainy year, but Jiang says that coal use is on a permanent decline.

Jiang’s comments, although not official policy, are the most authoritative senior-level statement on an expected early peak in China’s greenhouse gas emissions (which are mostly CO2). China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, accounting for around 30% of the annual global total.

The analysis that Jiang presented at a Department of Energy (EIA) conference in Washington, D.C. in mid-July was significant as his projections are far more ambitious than China’s promises at the Paris climate talks last December. In Paris, and in an earlier agreement with the U.S. China has only promised to see emissions peak “around 2030.”

Scientific American:

Emissions declined in both the United States and China, and stayed level in Europe. That’s because of increased natural gas usage and a reduction in coal usage in the United States and China. Dangerous smog levels in major cities have also forced the Chinese government to crack down on air pollution.

In the United States, emissions dropped 3 percent, to the lowest level since 1992, as the economy grew 1.6 percent. In China, emissions declined 1 percent, while the economy grew 6.7 percent. The country also expanded the reliance of its electrical grid on hydro and wind sources as well as nuclear.

In the United States, current utility planning is already building in compliance with the Paris Accords, as markets dictate increasing use of cheap gas and renewable energy.

Pruitt has elsewhere shown himself to be rather unimaginatively hewing to the climate denial talking point playbook.

Here, Pruitt’s answers to written questions from Senator Ben Cardin, (D-Maryland) Read the rest of this entry »

Remember that time when security experts warned the Bush administration about the dire, imminent threat of a terrorist attack?
Those are some of the same experts warning about the security impact of climate change.  And some of the same people are not listening again.

Washington Post, March 25, 2004:

President Bush’s top counterterrorism adviser warned seven days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks that hundreds of people could die in a strike by the al Qaeda network and that the administration was not doing enough to combat the threat, the commission investigating the attacks disclosed yesterday.

Richard A. Clarke, who served as a senior White House counterterrorism official under three successive presidents, wrote to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Sept. 4, 2001, urging “policymakers to imagine a day after a terrorist attack, with hundreds of Americans dead at home and abroad, and ask themselves what they could have done earlier,” according to a summary of the letter included in a commission staff report. Clarke also cites the same plea in his new book.

Clarke told the commission in testimony yesterday afternoon that whereas the Clinton administration treated terrorism as its highest priority, the Bush administration did not consider it to be an urgent issue before the attacks.

“I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue but not an urgent issue,” Clarke told the 10-member panel. “. . . There was a process underway to address al Qaeda. But although I continued to say it was an urgent problem, I don’t think it was ever treated that way.”

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KQED:

Charges of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, cybersecurity and terrorism are topics that have recently dominated the national security conversation. Read the rest of this entry »