What happens when cartoonists lose sight of their original inspiration?
Things get ugly.


I don’t normally read Dilbert — I’ve seen far too much of the benighted ignorant psyche of its creator — but this one was just laid out on a table at the coffee shop yesterday, and I knew I’d have to deal with it. In this one, Dilbert goes full climate science denialist. This might be fun, to dissect Dilbert, because even though it will kill what little humor is present in it, at least we’ll have a good time laughing at Scott Adams. Let’s dissect the shit out of this thing.

(setup above)


OK, this is sort of fine. I think it’s a good idea for companies to think about what impact climate change will have on them, and how they affect the environment. I’m at a green university, and we’ve had these sorts of discussions. Still do, all the time.

It is definitely true that human activity is warming the Earth. It will lead to a global catastrophe, depending on how you define catastrophe: it will cause acute economic disruption, resource wars, and the death of millions. Is that catastrophic enough for you?


By the way, I notice that the scientist is a goateed and balding white man in a lab coat. It’s either unconscious bias (that’s how scientists are supposed to look!), or, I can’t help but notice a weak resemblance to Michael Mann.

Next panel, Dilbert asks Scott Adams’ idea of a smart question.

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Funny thing about new technologies – once they become viable, cost effective, and compelling – keeping people from using them is pretty hard. No matter how much fossil fuel funding and propaganda is deployed.

So, while the Trump administration will do its best to sabotage American leadership in the renewable revolution (not a slam dunk at all) real people, who need to solve the real problems of the real world, are racing ahead with the best available technology solutions.


Here – some examples from the field.

Utility death spiral. Remember that phrase, because it’s going to be a big deal for the states, and the electric producers, who do not make room for a technological paradigm shift – happening now.


While California’s big three investor-owned utilities remain the provider of last resort for the state’s energy consumers, an increasing share of their customers are being lost to existing retail energy access programs, to city and county community-choice aggregators (CCAs), and of course, to the rising share of power generated by rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources.


Between rooftop solar, CCAs and large “direct access” customers that work with energy service providers, as much as 25 percent of retail electric load will be effectively unbundled and served by a source other than an investor-owned utility sometime later this year, the paper noted. And these trends are only accelerating. Over 85 percent of retail load could be served by sources other than the investor-owned utilities by the mid-2020s — effectively putting the state on a path toward a competitive market for consumer electric services.
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Summer is coming fast, and I got held up with last-minute edits on the recent Arctic council/SWIPA video – so I had to boogie to get this pulled together. Had Dr. Jason Box add some footage and voice overs.


And boy, that footage. This year, we are supporting a ground-breaking new Green Technology for Arctic Exploration – the WindSled.


One of the frustrations of arctic travel is the need for carbon intensive energy at every stage of getting in and out. One possible solution for scientists making measurements on the ice is a wind powered moving base station that can make traverses of the ice sheet with minimal carbon footprint.

sled5 Read the rest of this entry »

Followers of my early videos will remember how easy it was to take apart the
Crock – ICYMI, above. Ironically, given current events, the video opens with a shot of Richard Nixon.

So, fake science for the POTUS, as he passes real, deadly serious top secret intel to hostile foreign enemies. That’s where we are.

The Hill:

President’s Trump’s deputy national security adviser reportedly gave the president fake information, leading to a crackdown at the White House.

K.T. McFarland handed the president a printout of two covers of Time magazine, Politico reported, citing four White House officials familiar with the matter.

One of the covers appeared to be from 1970 and issued a warning of a coming ice age. The other cover was from 2008. That one was about surviving global warming.

But the cover from 1970 was fake and part of an internet hoax, according to Politico.

Washington Post:

In the Trump White House, “Good enough for government work” has developed a whole new meaning.

Politico’s Shane Goldmacher has outlined a remarkable scenario that unfolded recently in the West Wing. Deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland apparently provided President Trump with copies of two Time magazine covers depicting scientific concerns about a changing climate: Worries about a new ice age in the 1970s and then global warming in 2008. Trump fumed — until staff members poked around on the web and realized that the “ice age” cover was fake. A White House official defended McFarland’s raising the issue to Goldmacher: Although the cover was not real, “it is true there was a period in the ’70s when people were predicting an ice age.”

It’s worth running though all of the points of failure that occurred, leading to Trump raging against a hoax. Read the rest of this entry »

Defending, in an era of Defunding, Science – a scrappy team of advocates offers a shield to those who pursue the truth.

New York Times:

Lawyers and scientists do not always get along, but some are now finding common cause in an effort to defend the integrity of science — especially climate science — in government and academia.

Climate scientists are feeling the heat as Republicans cement control of the executive branch and Congress. The Trump administration has already rolled back about two dozen environmental laws and regulations, dismissed members of an important science panel and taken down web pages giving information on climate change. Republicans in Congress have also brought pressure to bear on climate scientists.


Now scientists and lawyers are fighting back, with well-attended public demonstrations and legal action. The push included a recent conference that brought law professors from across the United States to New York for training to protect scientists who come under scrutiny.

Scientists have found themselves the targets of investigations from those who deny the evidence of climate change — most notably in the 2009 scandal known as Climategate, when hackers stole and released internal research discussions. Global warming denialists took comments out of context to allege widespread scientific fraud.

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Seriously. Puppies. And other living things.

UPDATE May 15, 2017: Washington Post:

The Trump administration has removed or tucked away a wide variety of information that until recently was provided to the public, limiting access, for instance, to disclosures about workplace violations, energy efficiency, and animal welfare abuses.

Some of the information relates to enforcement actions taken by federal agencies against companies and other employers. By lessening access, the administration is sheltering them from the kind of “naming and shaming” that federal officials previously used to influence company behavior, according to digital experts, activists and former Obama administration officials.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for instance, has dramatically scaled back on publicizing its fines against firms. And the Agriculture Department has taken off-line animal welfare enforcement records, including abuses in dog breeding operations and horse farms that alter the gait of racehorses through the controversial practice of “soring” their legs.

Officials also removed websites run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department that provided scientific information about climate change, eliminating access. for instance, to documents evaluating the danger that the desert ecology in the Southwest could face from future warming. (On Friday, protesting against the disappearance of the EPA website, the city of Chicago posted the site online as it had existed under the Obama administration.)

Washington Post:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday abruptly removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities.

In a statement, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited court rulings and privacy laws for the decision, which it said was the result of a “comprehensive review” that took place over the past year. It said the removed documents, which also included records of enforcement actions against violators of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, would now be accessible only via Freedom of Information Act Requests. Those can take years to be approved.

“We remain equally committed to being transparent and responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals with whom we come in contact,” the statement said.

This, of course, will make it harder to bust puppy mills.

The records that had been available were frequently used by animal welfare advocates to monitor government regulation of animal treatment at circuses, scientific labs and zoos. Journalists have used the documents to expose violations at universities.

Members of the public could also use the department’s online database to search for information about dog breeders, as could pet stores. Seven states currently require pet stores to source puppies from breeders with clean USDA inspection reports, according to the Humane Society of the United States — a requirement that could now be impossible to meet.

Animal welfare organizations quickly condemned the removal of the information, which they called unexpected and said would allow animal abuse to go unchecked.

“The USDA action cloaks even the worst puppy mills in secrecy and allows abusers of Tennessee walking horses, zoo animals and lab animals to hide even the worst track records in animal welfare,” said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.

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Threat Multiplier. Remember that phrase.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B:

Indeed, recent changes in climatic conditions, particularly increased ambient temperature and fluctuations in rainfall amounts, contributed to the maintenance (endemization process) of WNV in various locations in southern Europe, western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, the Canadian Prairies, parts of the USA and Australia. As predictions show that the current trends are expected to continue, for better preparedness, any assessment of future transmission of WNV should take into consideration the impacts of climate change.


People living in the American Southwest have experienced a dramatic increase in windblown dust storms in the last two decades, likely driven by large-scale changes in sea surface temperature in the Pacific Ocean drying the region’s soil, according to new NOAA-led research.

With the increase in dust storms, scientists have also documented a spike in Valley fever, an infectious disease caught by inhaling a soil-dwelling fungus found primarily in the Southwest.

“We’ve known for some time that the Southwest U.S. is becoming drier,” said lead author Daniel Tong, a scientist at NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory and George Mason University. “Dust storms in the region have more than doubled between the 1990s and the 2000s. And we see that Valley fever is increasing in the same region.”

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