Tuesday, January 30, 2007

House and Senate committee hearings

From realclimate:

There are two hearings today from the new congress that are of relevance for RealClimate readers:

The House Oversight Committee is having hearings on the possible suppression of climate change science by the administration (streaming from here). Witnesses include Drew Shindell (NASA GISS), Roger Pielke Jr. and R. Piltz.

The Senate EPW Committee is having an open forum for senators to discuss climate change legislation (streaming from here).

The above picture is dedicated to William Gray, Benny Peiser, and others to called 99% of the climate scientists "Nazis". More on that later, I'm so far behind on my posts. I have about 60 rough drafts waiting to be finished. :-p


Monday, January 22, 2007

QuietRevolution: Another Small Wind Design...
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A new design for small scale wind turbines. This turbine is made to be very quiet, usable around buildings, easily integrated into towers and the general urban environment. Their smallest model, the QR2.5 is 2.5m in diameter. It is expected to generate between 3,000 and 4,500kWh per annum on a site with a windspeed of 4m/s as a minimum annual mean.

The Bergey BWC XL.1 Wind Turbine, which is also 2.5m in diameter, is advertised to provide 1,898 kWh per annum. Bergey is a very well known wind turbine and many consider it to be the best available for home users. Despite this it only gets 1/2 the rating as the Quiet Revolution. It will be interesting to see some real world tests of these turbines on the exact same sites.

Don't Drink (Or Swim In) The Water
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Sex-changing chemicals found in Potomac River

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chemicals known to change the sexual characteristics of fish and other animals have been found in West Virginia tributaries of the Potomac River, which runs through Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Wednesday.

An investigation into fish that had both male and female characteristics turned up a range of chemicals including pesticides, flame retardants, and personal-care products, the USGS said.

The Potomac is fed by rivers and streams in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

"We analyzed samples of 30 smallmouth bass from six sites, including male and female fish without intersex and male fish with intersex," said Douglas Chambers, a USGS scientist who led the study.
"All samples contained detectable levels of at least one known endocrine-disrupting compound, including samples from fish without intersex."

Endocrine disrupters affect the animals' hormone systems. They can cause birth defects and sexual abnormalities called intersex in species ranging from frogs to alligators and perhaps humans as well.

"Antibiotics were detected in municipal wastewater, aquaculture, and poultry-processing effluent, with the highest number of antibiotics and the greatest concentrations found in municipal effluent," the USGS wrote in the report, published at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1393/.

The USGS said the sexual changes in the fish were discovered by accident in 2003, when scientists were investigating massive fish kills.

"Many potential sources of contaminants discharge to the South Branch of the Potomac and Cacapon Rivers. Chief among these are runoff from agricultural activities, municipal and domestic wastewater effluent (both treated and untreated), industrial wastewater, and gypsy moth control programs using dimilin (diflubenzuron)," the report reads.
Reuters, Sex-changing chemicals found in Potomac River,Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:25pm ET28

E/The Environmental Magazine, Drugging Our Water: We Flush It, Then We Drink It by Melissa Knopper, Volume XIV, Number 1 http://www.emagazine.com
Drugs in the Water, Story and photo by Leah Eisenstadt

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Free Inconvenient Truth DVDs for Teachers

Up to 50,000 US science teachers can receive a free copy of the Inconvenient Truth DVD by filling out a simple request form here . (link to FREE DVD) The deadline is January 18th so if you are a teacher please act promptly.

The Background:

The NSTA consists of 55,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives which are involved in science education. Membership is not free and typically costs a teacher $74 each year. In otherwords, the NSTA is not a lightweight organization. In fact their website self describes the NSTA as the "largest organization in the world committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. "

Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, has a environmentally conscious wife that decided to donate 50,000 DVDs of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). Despite the fact that the documentary received "five stars for accuracy" by scientists, the Washington Post is now reporting that the NSTA has refused to accept the DVDs:

In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other “special interests” might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn’t want to offer “political” endorsement of the film; and they saw “little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members” in accepting the free DVDs. …

[T]here was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.”

As it turns out those special interests include Exxon-Mobil, Shell Oil, and the American Petroleum Institute. To take matters one step farther the NSTA has distributed videos produced by the American Petroleum Institute. This video claims that one "can't be cool without fuel". In this case fuel is natural gas and oil.

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Feel free to spend a few minutes watching the video. (Link to video). The Washington post article continues:
An API memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 succinctly explains why the association is angling to infiltrate the classroom: "Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future."
Laurie David described her correspondence with the NSTA in a Washington Post Op-Ed, where she notes that an email sent to her by NSTA invoked not only the product endorsement issue, but also a fear that distributing the film would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters." David goes on to point out that one of these supporters is in fact ExxonMobil (whose efforts to spread confusion about climate change are described in a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.)

Doing a search on "Global Warming" on the NSTA site turns up only a paltry supply of useful educational material. It is also illuminating to go into their "recommendations" section and type in "global warming." That will turn up this recommended book by Kenneth Green, a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute whose article Clouds of Global-Warming Hysteria in the National Review endorsed Michael Crichton's view of global warming and called supporters of climate change action "One-worlders and other socialist sorts."

The information war knows no boundaries.

regurgitation hat tip: Thinkprogress & Real Climate
Washington Post, Science a la Joe Camel Sunday, November 26, 2006; B01

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Smog in Tehran:
9/11 in a Month


Pollution kills not only kills, but it is a serious threat. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. Straight from the BBC:
Air pollution is estimated to have killed nearly 10,000 people in Tehran over a one-year period, including 3,600 in a month, Iranian officials say.

Most of the deaths were caused by heart attacks and respiratory illnesses brought on by smog, they said.
BBC, Iran smog 'kills 3,600 in month', Tuesday, 9 January 2007, 16:52 GMT
Cost of Iraq? $2 Trillion?
Joseph Stiglitz, the Columbia University Professor and Nobel Prize winner in Economics, joined forces with Harvards Linda Bilmes to calculate the cost of Iraq. Stiglitz expounds:
"Our estimates are very conservative, and it could be that the final costs will be much higher. And it should be noted they do not include the costs of the conflict to either Iraq or the UK."
His paper is available on his website (http://josephstiglitz.com/). Oil is expected to increase in cost in the future. Because of this the Army Core of Engineers says "oil wars are certainly not out of the question". The cost of a future oil war could very easily surpass the estimated cost $5-10 billion a year over 10 years for developing an alternative to oil and all know fossil fuels. And lets not forget our nuclear loving Iran. Just giving another reason to fight global warming.

Guardian Unlimited, Iraq war could cost US over $2 trillion, says Nobel prize-winning economist, Jamie Wilson in Washington, Saturday January 7, 2006
The Vancouver Sun: Get ready for oil supplies to dwindle, experts warn, Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Slate, Did We Just Declare War on Iran?Decoding this week's sound bites., Shmuel Rosner, Friday, Jan. 12, 2007, at 1:33 PM ET

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Rabett Meet Bambi

Tons more of the real life Bambi & Thumper here.
Images located in German photographer Tanja Askani's portfolio

Found via Digg
Worldwide Consensus on Climate Change

Looking at the chart above, the worldwide consensus on climate change appears to be 90% for laymen. And the scientific consensus among those actually working in the field appears to be about as uniform on this topic as it is on the dangers of tobacco. (Likely of no small coincidence) Unfortunately the policy of our current administration is still "deny, suppress, and do nothing".

World Public Opinion.org 30-Country Poll Finds Worldwide Consensus that Climate Change is a Serious Problem, Saturday January 06th, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Cars Amount to Only 6% of Man-Made CO2"
Part of the: Common Arguments by Skeptics and Deniers series
This argument has been made on digg, among a few other places. Nobody ever provides a source but I see this stat pop up somewhat often. If you find out who the initial source of this little factoid is please post in the comments section. Now it's time for us to R.T.F.R. Straight from the Department of Energy's report:
Although transportation is a vital part of the economy and is essential for everyday activities, it is also a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2003, the transportation sector accounted for about 27 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, up from 24.8 percent in 1990.
And now for a little fun with math. Lets see how big his/her goof was.
27 (DOE stat) / 6 (Denialist/Skeptic stat) * 100 = 450%
Which basically means this denialist/skeptic has error bars 450% larger then his facts. And to be honest his/her error bars are even larger than that because:
Estimates of GHG emissions do not include additional "lifecycle" emissions related to transportation, such as the extraction and refining of fuel and the manufacture of vehicles, which are also a significant source of domestic and international GHG emissions.
The simple act of driving around in America released a total of 1,958.6 million metric tons of CO2 in 2005. And transportation energy use is expected to increase 48 percent between 2003 and 2025. All of these statistics are for America. There are 6 billion rapidly developing people on the planet. It is quite a stretch to even imply that fossil fuel powered cars are not a threat to the environment. Again, if you know where this myth originated please post a link.

Update for clarification:
In 2003 the US emitted 1,848.8 Tg of CO2. Only 4.3 Tg of that is from electrical sources. Since almost all of our transportation (about 99.76%) comes is powered by oil I thought it was prudent to lump all oil powered forms of transportation together. If you want to limit the discussion to passenger vehicles I would suggest we change our number from 27% of total emissions to 17% of our total emissions. It's still a sizable sum. Still, if we can remove oil from privately owned light trucks (Ford F150's, Dodge Rams, etc) and passenger vehicles then we should be able to do the same with heavy duty vehicles. At that point 'cars' are responsible for 22.14% of our yearly CO2 emissions. The only question remaining is whether or not we can power our aircraft with some form of biofuel.


EPA, Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the U.S. Transportation Sector
, pg 18
1990 – 2005
, pg 29

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Quote for the New Year

“What keeps me going is my belief that there is still a chance of avoiding catastrophe.” -Dr. John P. Holdren, Harvard professor, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

NYT's, Middle Stance Emerges in Debate Over Climate, ANDREW C. REVKIN, January 1, 2007

Monday, January 01, 2007

Insurance Companies Stop Offering Hurricane Coverage:
Reason? Global Warming.


Straight from the post:

Allstate plans to stop offering property insurance in nearly a dozen counties along the Chesapeake Bay starting in February.

The reason: the increased risk of hurricane damage due to rising ocean temperatures, possibly caused by global warming.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Allstate is part of a growing number of insurance companies that are refusing to cover hurricane-prone areas. The trend started in Florida, which sustained millions of dollars in damage from Hurricane Andrew, and is now moving up to our neck of the woods.

Washington Post, Global Warming Ate My Insurance Policy, Annys Shin | December 22, 2006; 7:50 AM ET
Ever wonder where the 2006 hurricanes went?
Part of the: Common Arguments by Skeptics and Deniers series

The quick and dirty answer is that a dust storm called Calima (pictured above via satellite) killed off all of the hurricanes in the Atlantic. There was no comparable dust storm on the other side of the globe so the Pacific has been rip snorting hurricanes just as expected. A total of 30 tropical depressions and Typhoons (Asian term for hurricane) hit Asia. There were 25 in the east Pacific and 11 near Australia. This brings the 2006 Pacific tropical depression/typhoon count to a total of 66.

For lots more info on hurricanes and their possible connection to global warming, feel free to visit the non-blog version of this website at: