Sunday, December 31, 2006
Dr. John Feeney is someone who is a fiercely intelligent scholar, poker player, and author. He just opened up a blog which will cover exponential population grown and the implications it will have on our planet. He is a man who I have a deep admiration for and I hope to meet in person one day. Even though Feeney is passionate about this particular subject he has more emotional control than just about anyone I know. Unfortunately exponential growth is something I know very little about. And to be honest I am still very skeptical about the dangers. After all, many countries in Europe and Russia seem to be self regulating rather nicely. Despite this I will be reading his blog and covering any topic that there is a well documented consensus on. For all those that are willing to learn, feel free to take the jump at the link:
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees.The book store is selling a book called Grand Canyon: A Different View which claims the canyon is only 6,000 years old. The fight isn't just on the official level:
In a letter released today, PEER urged the new Director of the National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon. PEER is also asking Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive staff in making distinctions between science and religion when speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.And from Time Magazine:
Even more troubling, PEER charges that Grand Canyon National Park no longer offers an official estimate of the age of the canyon.... NPS has allowed the placing of bronze plaques bearing Psalm verses at Grand Canyon overlooks.More at peer. For all of those that have any doubt about the age of the grand canyon, I suggest you read up on radiometric dating.
Grand Canyon: A Different View (Hardcover) Tom Vail, ISBN 978-0890513736
PEER.org HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON? PARK SERVICE WON’T SAY — Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology, December 28, 2006, Carol Goldberg
TIME, Faith-Based Parks?, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004 LEON JAROFF
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
DeSmog is thoroughly investigating 61 signatories to an anti-climate-change petition sent in April, '06 to Canada's Prime Minister. Supporters claim it is signed by "60 leading scientists." We will report daily on their credentials and their connections (or their lack of connections) to the oil or tobacco industries.It's a good start. There will surely be leftovers. I know at least one regrets signing the petition and claims he was misled.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Apparently it's becoming damn near impossible to get electricity up in Iraq. This is from the NYT's:
Crews that arrive to repair the damage are often attacked and sometimes killed, ensuring that the government falls further and further behind as it attempts to repair the lines.And in a measure of the deep disunity and dysfunction of this nation, when the repair crews and security forces are slow to respond, skilled looters often arrive with heavy trucks that pull down more of the towers to steal as much of the valuable aluminum conducting material in the lines as possible. The aluminum is melted into ingots and sold.All of this means electricity is expensive both in monetary and human cost. To make matters even worse:
Electricity Ministry officials said they could think of no case in which saboteurs had been caught. Payments made to local tribes in exchange for security have been ineffective, electricity officials said.So what does this mean for Iraqi's?
The attacks have an immediate impact on the lives of ordinary Iraqis. Last week even the official United States State Department figures, which many Iraqis contend lean toward the optimistic side, said there was an average of 6.6 hours of electricity per day in Baghdad and 8.9 hours nationwide.And then there is this suggestion from Coeruleus:
Before the war, Baghdad had 16 to 24 hours of power and the rest of Iraq 4 to 8 hours, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent United States federal office.
Considering that natural gas bubbles up from underneath most every desert rock, the sun shines 300 days a year, and there's enough wind to whip up dust storms, why hasn't anyone ever troubled themselves to attempt to establish some distributed power generation other than diesel generators--the fuel for which itself requires power to refine--in Iraq? Years after we toppled Saddam's regime?Which if you think about it makes a lot of sense. If solar cells or wind turbines were on each roof top then it would be very difficult to take out the power. The terrorism resistance of alternative and distributed energy has been highlighted by several Nobel Laureates for some time. I have yet to see this tactic implemented.
New York Times, Iraq Insurgents Starve Capital of Electricity, JAMES GLANZ, December 19, 2006
Straight from the source:
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.I'm going to have to check up on this a little more. I remember reading a few journals discussing how very small sea level rises can destabilize land masses by saturating the soil which dramatically increases soil erosion. The current sea level rise is about 3 mm/yr which can add up to a lot for a low lying island when you consider the first industrial revolution began in 1789. A quick search on Dr Sugata Hazra shows that he has published in the proceedings of the Indian National Academy of Sciences. So he certainly has some credibility. The article doesn't reference a journal and a quick search on Lohachara via google scholar doesn't turn up anything by Hazra. So I have to take this news report with a grain of salt. This may or may not be a case of hype. Only time will tell.
As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.
*Disappearing world: Global warming claims tropical island For the first time, an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas. Environment Editor Geoffrey Lean reports 24 December 2006
*Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789–1848, Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd. ISBN 0-349-10484-0
*Development of grabens and associated fault-drags: an experimental study Sugata Hazra - Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences. Earth and …, 1995 - cat.inist.fr
Monday, December 25, 2006
The enzymes in the stomachs of termites may be the key to unlocking cellulosic ethanol. Termites turn cellulose into alcohol in their stomachs. If we can mimic this process it will be bye bye oil. Steven Chu, who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997, has begun studying termite guts. He left Stanford University to become Director of the Lawrence Berkeley Labs and kick-start the research effort.
PhysOrg 'Termite guts can save the planet', says Nobel laureate, Published: 11:01, April 13, 2005
Friday, December 22, 2006
Exxon CEO Rex Tilerson gave a speech at Boston College. Here he advocates taking a cautionary approach that mainstream scientists support:
While our scientific understanding of climate change continues to improve, it nonetheless remains today an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study. Having said that, the potential risks to society could prove to be significant, so despite the areas of uncertainties that do exist, it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the potential risks.He does the same here as well:
This is a global-wide, century-scale problem. 85% of the growth of CO2 emissions are associated with economic activity in the developing part of the world, with only 15% of the growth associated with developed countries. We should start on a path to reduce the likelihood of the worst outcomes… and understand the context of managing carbon emissions among other developing world priorities, such as economic development, poverty eradication and public health.Just when it sounds too good to be true, he leaves himself an out which I've highlighted in bold:
Consistent with this approach, we should take steps now to reduce emissions in effective and meaningful ways.
In my view, this means we should continue to fund ongoing scientific research without conditions or preconceived outcomes to increase our understanding of all of the forcings which are part of this very elegant, but very complex climate systems in which we live – including ongoing study of not only the possible forcing effects resulting from mankind's socioeconomic activity, but equally if not more important understanding of the natural forcing elements that are and have been apart of the climate system since the dawn of time.The National Academy of Sciences of 18 different countries say the recent warming is very unlikely to have been caused by natural forces. Exxon still seems to completely ignore this fact and the scientific consensus on climate change. Still, this seems to be a rather big shift in energy policy recommendations by Exxon. Has the beast grown a heart? Has the horned monster of misinformation raised a white flag? Will they cut off the funding to Astroturf organizations like the Royal Society asked? Or is this merely a green washing two-face maneuver?
Only time will tell.
Exxon's response to the Royal Society's letter:
The Royal Society's letter and public statements to the media inaccurately and unfairly described our company. Our views on climate change are clearly described in our company publications. We know that carbon emissions are one of the factors that contribute to climate change - we don't debate or dispute this.Well according to Exxon Secrets and Exxpose Exxon the Royal Society's letter was fair. Again, it will be interesting to see who they decide to fund in the future. I'm not terribly optimistic. But it is nice to see them acknowledging the greenhouse gas effect.
Environmental defense, Rex Tillerson Speech, Boston CEO Club, Boston, Massachusetts, November 30, 2006, Posted on: 12/06/2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
But these guys do. This article is a must read. Information suppression at it's finest. The list could be much longer. They skip a lot of the events described in Chris Mooney's book.
TPMuckraker, Bush Admin: What You Don't Know Can't Hurt Us
By Paul Kiel - December 18, 2006, 11:46 AM
Monday, December 18, 2006
Part of the: Common Arguments by Skeptics and Deniers series
One of the most common and damaging accusations by climate change skeptics and deniers is that the pillars of our intellectual societies have become corrupt. The skeptics and deniers say climate scientists are now motivated to skew the science in attempt to fabricate a disaster. The biggest doomsayers are promoted while the skeptics have their funding cut. In short, they are insinuating all of the scientists on this world-wide consensus are partaking in a fraud. A few of these arguments can be seen below.
From the website World Climate Report:
"Science has become as blatantly biased in the direction of tragedy as television. But, given the way we fund and reward science and scientists, it was inevitable."
David E. Wojick says the IPCC is:
"...an artfully constructed presentation of just the science that supports the fear of human-induced climate change. It is as one sided as a legal brief, which it resembles."
Then there are blanket condemnations such as:
"We know that one's career and income are closely related to one's position on global warming."
Dr. Bill Gray joins the foray with:
The minority of scientists who are skeptical that humans have had large influences on climate change have been purposely squeezed out of the climate research funding picture.
Now there are some real problems with this argument. And I've outlined a few of them on the non-blog version of this website. But the real development is that BBC has called upon these skeptics to show their cards. There have been lots of name-calling and barking but not a whole lot of bite. Many are saying it's time to show the evidence or shut up. The following is from the BBC:
If you have evidence of research grants turned down because of a clash with the prevailing consensus, of instances where journals or conference organisers or consensus bodies have rejected "inconvenient" findings, please send it to us;
Please read the full BBC article as to what constitutes evidence. And if you have any please e-mail it to them. After all, good climate science makes good climate policy. In the mean time we will be waiting for the evidence of the massive worldwide conspiracy.
BBC, Sceptics: Cards on the table please!, Richard Black, Friday, 1 December 2006, 17:14 GMT
World Climate Report, Proving Science Bias, December 22, 2005*
Hurricanes and Climate Change:Assessing the Linkages Following the 2006 Season, William M. Gray
John-Daily.comThe UN IPCC's Artful Bias, Glaring Omissions, False Confidence and Misleading Statistics in the Summary for Policymakers, David E. Wojick, Ph.D.
*unknown author, probably Pat Michaels or Robert Balling
Sunday, December 17, 2006
He Then Indirectly Admits a Consensus.
The global warming skeptic/denier and mining executive Stephen McIntyre that runs Climate Audit has some not so nice things to say about Al Gore's presentation at the fall American Geophysical Union conference:
Gore has gotten a little stout over the years and a little jowly, as though he was subconsciously morphing into a shape more suitable to lead a penguin army.Ladies and gentlemen, once again the Denier's have removed their gloves and are hitting below the belt. There is nothing like good old fashioned demagoguery. Yet in the comments McIntyre follows up:
.... try to be a little bit funny, not just juvenile. Gore’s a public figure and fair comment. If he chooses to comment on this blog, we will treat him politely as we expect you to treat other participants here.So calling someone fat and and comparing their looks to a penguin is polite? Ok. What I find most interesting is it seems as if he indirectly admits there's a consensus on global warming. For all of those that don't know, the fall AGU is the largest convention on the subject of climate change. And this is how McIntyre describes the meeting:
Al Gore was welcomed by a standing ovation from about 4,000 scientists from the AGU convention.....and here too:
Then Gore’s friend and mentor, Gore himself said, “Now is the time”, before leaving to a standing ovation.So if global warming is a hoax, why does the "penguin general" Al Gore get a standing ovation by 4,000 scientists? For all of those who are still unsure about the consensus please read this rather long list of quotes.
Please keep in mind I do not advocate personal attacks. I'm merely pointing out the hypocrisy in those that resort to non-scientific ad hominem attacks.
Climate Audit, Day Four - Al Gore, Steve McIntyre, Thursday, December 14th, 2006 at 11:47 pm
Ironically, Crichton's Autobiography Shows Toleration Towards Real Pedophiles.
Michael Crichton has been a very vocal global warming critic/denier. The professional climate scientists have spent a considerable amount of time rebutting Crichton's arguments. One of Crichton's most vocal critics is The New Republic's Senior Editor Michael Crowley. Crichton takes off the gloves in his new book and labels his fictionalizes critic as a child rapist:
Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. ...Crowley responds to this calumny:
It turned out Crowley's taste in love objects was well known in Washington, but [his lawyer]--as was his custom--tried the case vigorously in the press months before the trial, repeatedly characterizing Alex and the child's mother as "fantasizing feminist fundamentalists" who had made up the whole thing from "their sick, twisted imaginations." This, despite a well-documented hospital examination of the child. (Crowley's penis was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler's rectum.)
The next page contains fleeting references to Crowley as a "weasel" and a "dickhead," and, later, "that political reporter who likes little boys." But that's it--Crowley comes and goes without affecting the plot. He is not a character so much as a voodoo doll. Knowing that Crichton had used prior books to attack very real-seeming people, I was suspicious. Who was this Mick Crowley? A Google search turned up an Irish Workers Party politician in Knocknaheeny, Ireland. But Crowley's tireless advocacy for County Cork's disabled seemed to make him an unlikely target of Crichton's ire. And that's when it dawned on me: I happen to be a Washington political journalist. And, yes, I did attend Yale University. And, come to think of it, I had recently written a critical 3,700-word cover story about Crichton. In lieu of a letter to the editor, Crichton had fictionalized me as a child rapist.Ladies and gentlemen, not only have the Denier's removed their gloves, but they are hitting below the belt as well. Although it is a bit ironic that Crichton will fictionalize and libel someone as a child rapist but won't stop are real pedophile. The following is from a review of Crichton's apparently non-fiction book Travels:
Finally, after testing the waters, the journalist excitedly drops his bombshell and suggests a child whorehouse. Crichton doesn't dare to tell his companion what a loathsome creep he is or that he finds the suggestion repulsive and wants nothing more to do with him. Instead,he goes and checks the place out. He gives a description of tarted up six-year-old girls posing provocatively and being kept in line by geriatric prostitutes. Perhaps I'm just a prude but it seems to me that any normal decent young man would find the idea of sex with tots and grannies vile. I didn't expect Crichton to actually put a stop to all of this but he could have perhaps told the sickie to get some professional help or at least told him that kiddie sex wasn't his thing, instead he makes up some whiny complaint about a stomach ache and tells the guy to go ahead without him.For all of those interested in understanding the psychic, aura seeing, spoon bending, 6 year old whore house condoning mind of Crichton feel free to buy a used (no royalties) copy of his autobiography via amazon.
Please keep in mind I do not advocate personal attacks. I'm merely pointing out the hypocrisy in those that resort to non-scientific ad hominem attacks.
TPMuckraker, Global Warming Denier Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic as Child RapistBy Paul Kiel - December 14, 2006, 11:45 AM
The New Republic, MICHAEL CRICHTON'S SCARIEST CREATION. Jurassic President by Michael Crowley Post date 03.09.06 | Issue date 03.20.06
The New Republic, WASHINGTON DIARIST Cock and Bull by Michael Crowley Post date 12.14.06 | Issue date 12.25.06
Saturday, December 16, 2006
A new windpower device that is very quiet and can be integrated into homes and commercial buildings very easily. From the PDF:
The benefits of this device include:
* Fully utilizing variable and gusting winds running at speeds as low as 3 mph (low wind speed geometry)
* Low profile integrated support structures that safely enclose all turbines without noise or vibration within super-safe rotation that prevents machine runaways
* Safe high-torque/low speed rotation that prevents machine runaways
* High-integration and low-profile support structures that rarely produce TV shadowing
* Compatibility with current building code requirements governing rooftop signage, photovoltaic installations and cell phone tower applications in Chicago and other cities.
University of Illinois, Modular, building-integrated, and sustainable energy from aeroturbine systems, Bil Becker
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Admiral Lautenbacher was appointed by President Bush as the Under Secretary of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In the above video Senator John McCain yells at Lautenbacher for violating the law with his failure to provide reports on climate change. Dr. Judith Curry has seen him deny the existence of man made climate change twice. The most recent occurrence was at a Feb 25, 2005 talk given at Georgia Tech.1
Almost a year and a half later McCain says the Bush appointee continues to violate the law:
|"They're simply not complying with the law. It's incredible." Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) raised eyebrows yesterday with that comment regarding the Bush administration, made before a crowd of several hundred at a Washington, D.C. event.1|
Video is from US Senates Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Wed, June 8 2005
TPM Muckraker: McCain: Bush Admin Breaks Laws to Hide Global Warming Data By Justin Rood - November 17, 2006,
New extremely efficient lighting from Zled (Seoul Semiconductor) boasts an efficiency of 100 lumens per watt. These LED's are expected to approach 145 lumens per watt by first quarter of 2008. Flourescents only get less than half of that at 70 lumens/watt and incandescents get one tenth of that at 15 lumens/watt.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The Chinese dolphin pictured above has now been declared extinct. It's the first large mammal to go extinct in 50 years. The last one was the Caribbean monk seal which was hunted to extinction. Scientists expect many more animals to follow the same path due to global warming. And if you watch this Google Talk video by Stanford's Dr. Stephen H. Schneider, you will see that the polar bear and the Arctic Fox is expected to endure the same fate. Fast forward to 1:21:15 of the video for the exact quote. Much more on extinction in the future.
CNN China's white dolphin called extinct after 20 million years
9:59 a.m. EST, December 13, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Scientists at the Census of Marine Life are using a new device to track the migration pattern of Sooty Shearwaters via satellites. The above image is the result. Here is a video (linky) where you can watch the migratory patterns of 19 birds. Research like this shows the need for international cooperation when it comes to maintaining wildlife and fishing stocks. This is especially true in the fishing sector. Americans spent 27.9 billion dollars on recreational fishing in 1996 and I can only assume commercially sold fish is also very significant. So there is much at stake. If you think the ocean is too big to impact I suggest you watch this Jellyball Man video (linky) provided by the LA Times. I hope to have high resolution Albacore tuna tracks posted here in the future.
Back to the birds. Apparently these seabirds will make trips that are around 65,000 kilometers long. And they will transit at a rate of around 1,000 kilometers a day. Adding one amazing feat on top of another, these birds dive to a depth of 200 feet to grab fish. Such an unbelievable set of statistics I am forced to go for a direct quote. This is straight from the abstract:
Transit rates as high as 910 ± 186 km·day-1 were recorded, and shearwaters accessed prey resources in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere's most productive waters from the surface to 68.2 m depth.1Update:
Apparently these pigeons fly a 25,00 mile trip each year.
BBC News: In pictures: Year of marine wonders
TOPP: Sooty shearwater study is TOPP milestone 8/7/2006
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Shaffer et. al, Migratory shearwaters integrate oceanic resources across the Pacific Ocean in an endless summer, 8/16/2006
Science & Spirit, Billion Dollar Bugs, David Wolman
Here is an interesting quote taken from an open letter written by 60 leading economists to the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger.
We urge you to accelerate climate action policies that will demonstrate political leadership and create economic opportunities in California. The most expensive thing we can do is nothing.Source:
The Most Expensive Thing We Can Do is Nothing, An Open Letter from California Economists, August 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Large companies will often hire public relations experts to help them clean up their image. When Microsoft was confronted with an anti-trust lawsuit they hired Americans for Technology Leadership (ATL) and Citizens Against Government Waste to help their side of the battle. About 400 people wrote letters to Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch asking him to take it easy on Microsoft. It was a grassroots campaign, ordinary citizens trying to defend a company. Unfortunately some of those people were dead when they wrote their letters. This type of fake-movement is called "Astroturf" in honor of the real fake grass-(roots movement). This isn't particularly science related but it is a powerful example of just how far some of these public relations companies will go. And when large corporations and scientific evidence conflict, the Astroturfing public relations companies come out of the wood work. The response from government officials?
"It's sleazy," said Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch, whose office received about 300 pro-Microsoft letters. "This is not a company that appears to be bothered by ethical boundaries."I will be covering similar practices a lot more in the future.
Microsoft Supported by Dead People, August 23, 2001
The Associated Press Report: Microsoft funded 'grass roots' campaign
Friday, December 08, 2006
Part of the: Common Arguments by Skeptics and Deniers.
A lot of climate change deniers make the argument that climate scientists are unreliable because they are a close nit group. The deniers claim climate scientists are biased to protect each other and cover up each others mistakes. The deniers have even made this argument under oath in the halls of Congress. Well this is Eli Rabett's response as to the number of climate scientists:
12,301-14,305 scientists in the United Stats alone is not exactly what I would call a small group of self protecting butt buddies. Michael Mann also has a retort which he submitted to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The image he references is located at the top of this blog entry.
If we look at foreign members we get a total of 19340, which in the spirit of Iraq Body Count we can take as a lower limit, but certainly within a factor of 2.
- 1956 Atomspheric
- 1564 Biogeochemistry
- 334 Cryosphere
- 751 Global climate change
- 4736 Hydrology
- 2326 Ocean sciences
- 634 Paleoclimate
- 2004 Volcanology (you can argue here if you want)
(if you ain't a member of the AGU you ain't no damn climate scientist in the US, just like the AMA)
Let me next address Wegman’s equally specious and unsupported claim that scientists who work in a given field cannot objectively review the work of their colleagues and competitors in that field. By way of illustration, I have attached (as Attachment 1 to these Responses ) the famous 1927 photograph of attendees of the Solvay Physics meeting in Brussels. It shows a group of 29 physicists engaged in a collegial, small conference. Virtually every attendee was a driving figure behind our understanding of modern physics. Appearing in the photograph are Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, Fermi, Dirac, de Broglie, Born, Pauli, Langmuir, Planck, Curie, Compton, Ehrenfest, Lengevin, and others of equal prominence. The members of this group all knew each other, worked with each other, collaborated on research with one another, visited each other, went mountain-climbing together, and so forth. Familiarity did not compromise their contributions to science. While I do not claim that the group I collaborate with is likely to duplicate the feats of the scientists who gathered in Brussels 80 years ago, the point remains --- scientific collaboration does not turn scientists into timid lapdogs unwilling to criticize the work of their colleagues.Source:
Realcliate.org Followup to the ‘Hockeystick’ Hearings 31 Aug 2006
M. Mann Answers to Followup Questions and Supporting Materials Related to July 27 2006 Hearing of U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Rabett Run How many climate scientists are there mommy? Friday, November 10, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
A new project has been unleashed. According to the site:
Imagine the possibilities. Imagine if people all over the world mobilized to replace one billion standard incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. What would that mean? It would mean that those people would save money each month on their electricity bill. It would mean they would save enough energy to light tens of millions of homes for a year. It would mean the prevention of greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of millions of cars.Interesting how something so simple and painless could have such a drastic impact. I haven't done the math to double check their claims but I see very little risk in taking their word on it. There is an energy calculator on the front page of their website.