Kevin  Trenberth has a new paper, measuring the change in ocean heat content in the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Harvey passed over.  Turns out the heat-loss just matches the energy of precipitation that made Harvey an unprecedented catastrophe.

Dr. Trenberth’s co-authors Lijing Cheng of China’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics, and Peter Jacobs of George Mason University round out this explainer. Short and powerful demonstration of how scientists more and more understand the link between a warming planet and specific extreme events.


I hope to post more soon from the brilliant interviews I captured for this piece – Lijing Cheng and Peter Jacobs are climate comms stars.

Hurricane season starts tomorrow.

National Center for Atmospheric Research:

BOULDER, Colo. — In the weeks before Hurricane Harvey tore across the Gulf of Mexico and plowed into the Texas coast in August 2017, the Gulf’s waters were warmer than any time on record, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

These hotter-than-normal conditions supercharged the storm, fueling it with vast stores of moisture, the authors found. When it stalled near the Houston area, the resulting rains broke precipitation records and caused devastating flooding.

“We show, for the first time, that the volume of rain over land corresponds to the amount of water evaporated from the unusually warm ocean,” said lead author Kevin Trenberth, an NCAR senior scientist. “As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey.”

Despite a busy 2017 hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey was more or less isolated in location and time, traveling solo over relatively undisturbed waters in the Gulf of Mexico. This gave Trenberth and his colleagues an opportunity to study in detail how the storm fed off the heat stored in that 930-mile wide ocean basin.

The team compared temperatures in the upper 160 meters (525 feet) of the Gulf before and after the storm using data collected by Argo, a network of autonomous floats that measure temperature as they move up and down in the water. To measure rainfall over land, the scientists took advantage of a new NASA-based international satellite mission, dubbed Global Precipitation Measurement.

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Not saying mainstream media is racist.
But how would it be different if they were?

Lazy reporting focused on clickbait and celebrity trash news is not just making us stupider, it’s killing us.

Media Matters:

On Tuesday, Harvard researchers published a study estimating that approximately 5,000 deaths can be linked to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The same day, ABC canceled Roseanne Barr’s eponymous show Roseanne after Barr sent a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former President Barack Obama. Cable news covered Barr’s tweet and her show’s cancellation 16 times as much as the deaths of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.

While the official death toll remains at just 64, the Harvard study, written up in The Washington Post, “indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared with 2016, or 4,645 ‘excess deaths.’” BuzzFeed News, which also reported on the study, further explained that the researchers adjusted their estimate up to 5,740 hurricane-related deaths to account for “people who lived alone and died as a result of the storm” and were thus not reported in the study’s survey.

Cable news barely covered the report. The May 29 broadcasts of MSNBC combined with the network’s flagship morning show the next day spent 21 minutes discussing the findings. CNN followed with just under 10 minutes of coverage, and Fox covered the report for just 48 seconds.

By contrast, cable news spent over 8 and a half hours discussing a tweet from Barr describing Jarrett, a Black woman, as the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes and the subsequent cancellation of her show.

Washington Post:

Miliana Montanez cradled her mother’s head as she lay dying on the floor of her bedroom here, gasping for air and pleading for help.

There was nothing her family could do. It took 20 minutes to find cellular reception to make a 911 call. Inoperative traffic signals slowed down the ambulance struggling to reach their neighborhood through crippling congestion.

Ivette Leon’s eyes bulged in terror as she described to her daughter the tiny points of light that appeared before her. She took one last desperate gulp of air just as paramedics arrived. Far too late.

More than eight months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s slow recovery has been marked by a persistent lack of water, a faltering power grid and a lack of essential services — all imperiling the lives of many residents, especially the infirm and those in remote areas hardest hit in September.

A new Harvard study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that at least 4,645 deaths can be linked to the hurricane and its immediate aftermath, making the storm far deadlier than previously thought. Official estimates have placed the number of dead at 64, a count that has drawn sharp criticism from experts and local residents and spurred the government to order an independent review that has yet to be completed.

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“A cold spring is kindly, and fills the barn finely” – weather proverb

My new video will be posted in hours – it’s about climate impacts on ocean heat and hurricanes like Harvey.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the outer bands of a tropical cyclone to hit us in the upper Midwest…
fortunately have my garden in.

Capital Weather Gang:

The upper Midwest and Great Lakes have essentially skipped spring this year, leaping from winter to summer.

Only a few weeks ago, ice finally finished melting on Minnesota’s lakes. Now the state is witnessing 100-degree heat. Minneapolis surged to the century mark on Memorial Day, the earliest instance in recorded history. It hit at least 90 degrees on six straight days, a May record.

The experience in Twin Cities, which had its fourth coldest April on record, has been repeated all over the upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Historic heat has followed historic cold.

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First the teapot brouhaha of Musk brushing off journalists.

Bottom: GM’s Mary Barra bullish on EVs.


Talking to Elon Musk on the phone does not seem like a pleasant experience. The billionaire reportedly hung up on the head of the National Transportation Safety Board during a tense conversation regarding an investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla earlier this year, marking Musk’s second major blow up during a phone call this year.

According to Bloomberg, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt spoke on his interactions with Musk during a Thursday dinner with members of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators’ Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter. “Best I remember, he hung up on us,” Sumwalt said of the exchange.

Below, pop Stock analyst Jim Cramer defends the call.

Read the rest of this entry »

Meanwhile, in Oman

May 28, 2018

Most powerful cyclone to strike the area in recorded history.

Here in mid-Michigan we spent yesterday without power following unusually violent, (for this area) thunderstorms on Saturday night.  Other parts of the Eastern US got pounded as well. More on the way.

As soon as I saw the images coming out of Ellicott City, Maryland last night, I flashed on the opening to this two year old video, above, which is footage from that city’s last “1000 Year Flood”.


In the first 30 seconds, you’ll hear horrified customers in an upper floor eatery gasping at the unfolding disaster in the street, and a blood curdling emergency buzzer going off.

In the tweeted vids below from yesterday, you hear the same alarm going off in the background.
Pretty good metaphor, as the planet’s warning bell continues to sound, unheeded.

Important subtext.
This kind of flooding is not just about climate change, although clearly the record breaking rains were what set the disaster off.
Importantly, arrogance and ignorance in land management upstream was an amplifier, and will continue to be, until local officials and developers recognize that water has no political agenda, it just flows down hill – and wetlands are not just nice things for flora and fauna – they are critical natural buffers against just this kind of event.
More below: Read the rest of this entry »

Washington Post:

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

The Hill:

Former “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander is teaming up with Democratic congressional hopeful Harley Rouda in a new video depicting a mock debate between Rouda and his Republican opponent, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.).

Alexander plays the moderator in the mock face-off, introducing himself as a “star of stage, screen and a McDonald’s commercial from 1986.”

On the debate stage is Rouda and a screen displaying Rohrabacher, whom Alexander describes as “joining us via a secure server from Moscow” — a jab at the GOP congressman’s often friendly posture toward Russia.

Alexander then proceeds to pose a series of questions to the two men, with Rohrabacher’s answers coming from past news clips. Read the rest of this entry »

UPDATED for Roger Stone conviction:


The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.   -W. B. Yeats

Above, Lee Atwater, famously ruthless political strategist for Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush. He perfectly encapsulates the “Southern Strategy” – a 50 year campaign by the Republican Party to take advantage of white resentment, enflamed by the civil rights and voting rights movement, – mainly in the south, but effective among whites everywhere – to draw support to the GOP.


Effectively, the effort has been to weaponize the lowest and worst drives of humanity – Atwater et al hoped, to gain power for their clients.

We see the results today. Perhaps its less surprising now to see who Atwater was in business with.


Manafort, Stone, Atwater, 1986 – Click for Larger

Time Magazine, 1986:

The Slickest Shop in Town

Legally, there are two firms. Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, a lobbying operation, represents Bethlehem Steel, the Tobacco Institute, Herbalife, Angolan “Freedom Fighter” Jonas Savimbi and the governments of the Bahamas and the Philippines. Black, Manafort, Stone & Atwater, a political-consulting firm, has helped elect such powerful Republican politicians as Senator Phil Gramm of Texas and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Jesse Helms.


The political credentials of the partners are imposing. Charles Black, 38, was a top aide to Senator Robert Dole and the senior strategist for President Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984. Paul Manafort, 36, was the political director of the 1984 G.O.P. national convention. Roger Stone, 33, was the Eastern regional campaign director for Reagan in 1984 and is now one of Congressman Jack Kemp’s chief political advisers. Peter Kelly, 48, was finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1981 to 1985. Lee Atwater, 34, was Reagan’s deputy campaign manager in 1984 and is now Vice President George Bush’s chief political adviser. Alone among the firm’s partners, Atwater sticks to advising electoral candidates and does not lobby.

Environmental Politics:

The relationship between racial attitudes and public opinion about climate
change is examined. Public opinion data from Pew and American National Election Studies surveys are used to show that racial identification and prejudices are increasingly correlated with opinions about climate change during the Obama presidency. Results show that racial identification became a significant predictor of climate change concern following Obama’s election in 2008, and that high levels of racial resentment are strongly correlated with reduced agreement with the scientific consensus on climate change. These results offer evidence for an effect termed the spillover of racialization. This helps further explain why the public remains so polarized on climate change, given the extent to which racial grievances and identities have become entangled with elite communication about climate change and its related policies today.


Washington Post:

White racial resentment has stayed roughly the same

The figure (above) shows the average level of racial resentment among white respondents over time, from 1988 to 2016. A score of 0 reflects the lowest possible level of racial resentment, and a score of 1 reflects the highest.

This graph shows that racial resentment hasn’t fluctuated much over time. White Americans today are, on average, no more racially resentful than they were in 1988. 

But racial resentment now more closely predicts all other political opinions

But that doesn’t necessarily tell us whether racial resentment has become more or less politically powerful or influential. Racial resentment can remain the same — and yet at different times it could be more effectively defused or more potently channeled.

The next figure shows the correlation between racial resentment and several political orientations, attitudes and behaviors, including partisanship, ideological self-identification, voting for the Republican Party candidate, and attitudes about issues such as general government spending or favoring private or publicly subsidized health insurance.

Nexus Media:

What began as a way of trolling Prius drivers became a signature protest against America’s first black president — rolling coal. Drivers spend hundreds or thousands of dollars retrofitting their trucks so they can blanket cyclists, motorists and pedestrians with thick, black clouds of exhaust. “I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all,” one seller of coal-rolling equipment toldSlate. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that.” In some instances, the practice has taken on an explicitly racial tone, as drivers publish videos of themselves rollingcoalon Black Lives Matters protestors.

Why would anyone spend so much money to do something so hostile and self-defeating? New research offers some insight. Read the rest of this entry »


WASHINGTON — Since Donald J. Trump began dominating American politics more than two years ago, Democrats concerned about his policies and behavior have taken solace in a group of influential Republicans who have consistently assailed the president as anathema to the values of their party, and the country more broadly.

In the past year, however, influential liberal donors and operatives have gone from cheering these so-called Never Trump Republicans to quietly working with — and even funding — them. Through invitation-only emails and private, off-the-record meetings, they have formed a loose network of cross-partisan alliances aimed at helping neutralize President Trump, and preventing others from capitalizing on weaknesses in the political system that they say he has exploited.

“If you’re a Republican who is concerned about the health of the liberal order and alarmed over the destruction of the norms of American democracy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be willing to work with a Democrat who is equally concerned about those same matters,” said Jerry Taylor, a Republican who is president of the Niskanen Center, a moderate think tank that grew out of the libertarian Cato Institute.

While a slew of initiatives raised big money for cross-partisan bridge-building and even presidential campaigns in 2012, the current effort is different. It involves more players who are more actively involved in politics from across the spectrum, many of whom bring their own constituencies, making it less centralized and, in some ways, less organized.

Yet they are arguably more united than past efforts by their concern over threats to democracy they contend are embodied by a single politician: Mr. Trump.

It’s an amorphous, somewhat secretive effort, partly because some participants fear Mr. Trump and his allies would brand Never Trump Republicans as pawns of Democrats. Meeting locations, agendas and attendees are mostly kept quiet, while political intelligence is privately shared between participants on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

But some of the collaboration is becoming more overt.

Over the last couple of months, network members filed amicus briefs accusing Mr. Trump of overstepping his authority on matters ranging from immigration to his administration’s efforts to block a mergerbetween AT&T and Time Warner. And last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill to protect the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, for which network members had lobbied.


I inform people that other states or countries are adopting some pretty aggressive renewable and efficiency standards.
My follow up question is: “Your competitors are gearing up to run their economy on fuel that is free. What’s your response?”


California’s recently approved solar roof mandate for all new homes came as a surprise to many people — even though stakeholders have been working on the rule change for roughly two years.

That’s likely because the California Energy Commission (CEC) passed the requirement earlier this month as an update to the state’s 2019 Title 24, Part 6, Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Not quite everyday reading.


“Building codes are a sleeper issue,” joked Kelly Knutsen, director of technology advancement at California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA). “But if you get them right, you can do some pretty cool stuff.”

The latest round of standards, which take effect in 2020, do enable some pretty groundbreaking developments in the advancement of clean energy. Besides the requirement that all new homes under three stories install solar panels — a first for the nation — the codes help to incentivize energy storage and include a host of energy efficiency upgrades that will collectively slash energy use in new homes by more than 50 percent.


A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones must be partially covered in either plants or solar panels.

Green roofs are already very popular in Germany and Australia, as well as Canada’s city of Toronto, where a similar law has been in force since 2009. Planting the rooftops of urbanized areas brings many benefits to public, private, economic and social sectors, as well as to the local and global environments.

Here are the top 5 reasons to chose a green roof.

1. Green roofs reduce stormwater runoff. Green roofs increase water retention and can reduce water run-off by 50–90 %. Stormwater that leaves the roof is therefore delayed and reduced in volumes. Outlets, pipes and drains can thus be reduced in capacity, thereby saving construction costs. Finally, retention and delay of runoff eases stress on stormwater infrastructure and sewers.

2. Green roofs are energy efficient. In summer, the green roof protects the building from direct solar heat, while in winter it minimizes heat loss thanks to its added insulation. Energy conservation translates into fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Green roofs also improve air quality, as plants leave trap dust particles from the air, and evapotranspiration cools ambient temperatures.

3. Green roofs can serve as habitat. Low maintenance green roofs can be designed to serve as refuge for species such as ground-nesting birds. Vegetated rooftop habitats can also serve as stepping stones, to create corridors connecting other patches (roofscape or at grade) across an urban sea to natural habitats beyond the city.

4. Green roofs last longer. Green roofs cover the waterproofing membrane, protecting it from UV rays and extreme daily temperature fluctuations. This protection extends the lifespan of the waterproofing twice as long as conventional roofing, meaning that membranes under green roofs last twice as long as those on traditional roofs.

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