Saturday, June 30, 2007

"The CO2 will fertilize the plants and increase food production."
Part of the Common Arguments from Climate Change/Global Warming Skeptics and Deniers Series

A common argument among global warming skeptics is that the extra CO2 will boost food production and be good for environment. While this argument has plenty of support from experiments taken place in controlled chambers it tends to fall apart in the outdoors. How do we know? Well CO2 emitters (pictured below) have been build in various forests and farmlands around the globe to test the CO2 fertilization hypothesis and scientists have found that it simply doesn't hold water. For a more detailed analysis and plenty of photos please visit the article on our main site.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pic of the day

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

From Ripley's believe it or not, a snake swallows two light bulbs.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium Thursday, June 21, 2007 in New York's Times Squar

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bob Carter
Part of the A Rundown of the Skeptics & Deniers series

Bob Carter claims that global warming stopped in 1998. Find out what he's not telling you by reading his profile at our main website.
Pat Michaels
Part of the A Rundown of the Skeptics & Deniers series

Pat Michaels' testified in front of Congress about climate change. In reference to that testimony climate blogger Coby Beck claims Pat Michaels "lied by omission". Professor Tim Lambert prefers to use stronger words "fraud, pure and simple" on his blog. Michaels received well over a hundred thousand dollars from oil and coal interests before 1995. Find out why so many call this man a fraud by reading his profile at our main website.
Claude Allegre
Part of the A Rundown of the Skeptics & Deniers series

Claude Allegre is a member of both of the French and US National Academy of Sciences. He is also a climate change skeptic that blames global warming on the mountains. He also claims that the climate models are wrong because Antarctica isn't melting. The problem is that the models don't predict Antarctic melting for another 100 years! For a full writeup on this pillar of the French community and his political connections please go to our main site.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pic/Wallpaper of the Day
A wallpaper guaranteed to give you a case of depression. Lots of free (and more upbeat) wallpapers here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

EasyJet cuts CO2 by 50%

From live science:

EasyJet said its design—which it dubbed the “easyJet ecoJet”— would be 25 percent quieter and would emit 50 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) and 75 percent less nitrous oxide (NOx) than today’s newest short-haul airliners.

“The aircraft example we have unveiled today represents the next major step forward in airframe and engine technology,” said Andy Harrison, easyJet’s chief executive.

“The lightweight structure and open-rotor engines are based on technologies that are being developed right now by the major manufacturers. The easyJet ecoJet is realistic and it is achievable,” he added.

While the numbers are pretty amazing I just can't stop looking at these engines:


Environmentally Friendly New Jet Planned, Chris Kjelgaard, Senior Editor, 15 June 2007 11:50 am ET
Al Gore was too late!!!!!!!!!!!

For everyone that says global warming is a "recent theory" here is video proof from 1958 that the science has been around for a long time.

The Unchained Goddess, 1958

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

To Slay the Vampire:
A cost that is borne by customers

Would you believe me if I said your microwave uses more electricity just sitting there as an expensive clock than when it's actually cooking food? No? Well get ready to be shocked. When you turn off electrical devices they don't always go off. Many of them go into standby mode and continue to burn electricity. Some devices can burn as much as 20 watts when in standby. Sometimes the standby mode is to provide you with a "quick start", run a little clock, or wait for a signal from a remote. And many electrical devices will use far more energy than what is needed to perform these functions. Other times it's simply cheaper for the company to force you to burn electricity than to invest a few more pennies and add a proper off switch. One prime example is a cellphone charger. According to Treehugger only 5% of the electricity used by a cellphone charger is from actually charging the phone. The other 95% of the electricity is being burned when the charger is just sitting there attached to the wall with no cellphone. Basically there is a ratio of 19:1 for waste versus actual use of electricity. The Economist has even jumped on this story and interviewed Dr. Alan Meier, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley:
"The worst offenders consume more than 20 watts in standby mode. But nearly all standby functions, Dr Meier insists, can be performed with a power consumption on standby of one watt or less."

Equipment-makers do not have any incentive to use more efficient components, after all, since the cost (in higher power consumption) is borne by their customers.

That is why regulators around the world have started to introduce rules designed to encourage manufacturers to make their products less power-hungry. Most of these rules are voluntary: examples include the international Energy Star programme, the European Union's codes of conduct agreed with electronics manufacturers, and the standards laid down by the Australian Greenhouse Office.
The Economist continues on: "Strange though it seems, a typical microwave oven consumes more electricity powering its digital clock than it does heating food." Dr. Meier claims $3 billion is wasted from electrical devices sitting in standby. As Meier said before this problem has an easy solution. One such solution is commonly referred to as a vampire slayer. These are devices that use one watt or less of energy per hour when in standby mode. Dr. Meiers says that simply adding a vampire slayer (or meeting vampire slayer standards) would have the same carbon-dioxide emission reducing effect as removing 18 million cars from the roads. As far back as June 2001 president Bush made public statements addressing the problem. In 2002 Bush signed an executive order requiring government agencies to purchase "low-standby-power devices as long as it’s practical and economical for them to do so". That's a good start. However, that was five years ago and little to nothing has been done since then. Although the average American citizen can get tax credits to improve the efficiency of their home there's no real incentive to encourage companies to make more efficient products. The only only encouragement they get is the ability to put the energy star sticker on products that meet the EPA's standards.

Treehugger Treehugger Homework: Unplug Your Cellphone Charger November 26, 2005 2:28 PM
Economist: Pulling the plug on standby power Mar 9th 2006
Digg: Pulling the plug
Free version of the Economist at Lawrence Berkeley Labs
Whitehouse: Bush Administration Takes the Lead on Energy Conservation
Al Gore: Unplug your charger
GCN, As promised, Bush orders less standby power use, Patricia Daukantas, August 27, 2001 issue
Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Standby Power Usage
Pic(s) of the Day

Snagged from A Thrilling Wonder

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Grow Me Some Petri Meat

Livestock has a major impact on the environment. Raising livestock takes up 26 percent of the Earth's terrestrial surface and feed crop uses about 1/3 of all the arable land. The expansion of grazing land for livestock is a major driver of deforestation. This is especially true in Latin America as it's suffering from rapid deforestation. 70% of the deforested land is being used as pasture and most of what is left is taken up by feed crops. Not only does livestock use up 8% of the worlds water supply but it is also the largest source of water pollution. I will address the often spun out of proportion CO2 problem behind livestock later. (not all tractors and not all fertilizer plants burn fossil fuels)

The good news is that Dutch researchers and NASA are competing to find a way to grow meat in the lab. They've already broken the first milestone by growing thin films of meat on a dish. The next step is to grow thick slabs and add fat for taste. If the technology pans out there are could be a lot of ethical, environmental and energy benefits from this process.

FAO, Spotlight / 2006, Livestock impacts on the environment
Reuters, Dutch try to grow enviro-friendly meat in lab, Fri Jun 1, 2007 1:14PM EDT, Reed Stevenson

Monday, June 11, 2007

Alexander Cockburn

Living in upside down land

Alexander Cockburn writes for Counterpunch, The Nation, and the Los Angeles Times. He is a climate change skeptic and some of his claims are the complete opposite of reality. Cockburn wrote the following in a recent article:
Geologists are particularly skeptical. Peter Sciaky, a retired geologist, writes to me thus:

"No environmental conference, such as Kyoto, has ever invited a geologist, a paleontologist, a paleoclimatologist. It would seem beneficial for any scientific investigatory to include such scientific disciplines.
....*snip* ....
I do not know a single geologist who believes that it is a man-made phenomenon."
No geologists, paleontologist or peleoclimatologist believe in man-made global warming!??!? Well the two biggest geological societies are the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the 45,000+ member strong American Geophysical Union (AGU). The USGS claims that the IPCC is the "The most authoritative report on this issue". And it might be hard to imagine why a USGS geologist would be excluded from environmental meetings when their Earth Surface Dynamics Program "focuses on understanding the likely consequences of climate change, especially by studying how climate has changed in the past." The AGU released an official statement in 2003 saying that:
Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth's history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.
It looks like Cockburns expert witness is in upside down land. But just in case the society representing 45,000+ people (and all of the papers published by the AGU) aren't good enough lets look at how many geos and paleos there are at the blog
  • Michael E. Mann Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University
  • Caspar Ammann Ph.D. Paleoclimatology
  • Eric Steig PhD in Geological Sciences at the University of Washington
  • Thibault de Garidel Ph.D. in Geosciences at CEREGE, UniversitĂ© Paul CĂ©zanne (a.k.a. Aix-Marseille III)
  • Raymond S. Bradley is Director of the Climate System Research Center ( at the University of Massachusetts. Ph.D paleoclimatology
No shortage of paleos and geos there. In fact they are in the majority and not the minority. Lets take a sample at one more place. One February 2, 2007 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution made a group of scientists available to comment on many of the subjects covered in the summary report issued by the International Panel on Climate Change on February 2, 2007. Their name and department is listed below:
Dr. Scott Doney, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
Dr. Sarah Das, Geology & Geophysics
Dr. Andrey Proshutinsky, Physical Oceanography
Dr. Peter Winsor, Physical Oceanography
Dr. Karen Bice, Geology & Geophysics
Dr. Scott Doney, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
Dr. Dan McCorkle, Geology & Geophysics
Dr. William Curry, Geology & Geophysics
Dr. Lloyd Keigwin, Geology & Geophysics
Dr. Jerry McManus, Geology & Geophysics
Dr. Delia Oppo, Geology & Geophysics
Ruth Curry, Physical Oceanography
Dr. Terry Joyce, Director, WHOI Ocean & Climate Change Institute
Dr. Ray Schmitt, Physical Oceanography
Dr. Jeff Donnelly, Geology & Geophysics
Dr. Olivier Marchal, Geology & Geophysics
It looks like once again Cockburn is living in upside down land. Seriously, could these skeptics get any worse?

Update #1: Special thanks to N. Johnson for notifying me that some of the names were repeated on the official WHOI roster due to expertise in multiple fields. The duplicate names have been removed.

Update #2: And lets not forget chapter 6 of the IPCC's fourth assessment report which is titled "Palaeoclimate" that has over 50 authors. There are two lead coordinating authors and they are Eystein Jansen and Jonathan Overpeck. Jansen is a professor in the Dept. of Geology at University of Bergen. His Ph.D. is in marine geology. The other lead coordinating author Jonathan Overpeck is a Professor of Geosciences who specializes in paleoclimatology. Again it would seem that Cockburns key witness is in upside down land. I think I'll let the readers analyze the rest.

Counterpunch, June 9 / 10, 2007, Sources and Authorities, Dissidents Against Dogma, ALEXANDER COCKBURN
WHOI media release Scientific Experts Available to Respond to International Climate Report

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Testing the Water:
Oil Companies Don't Always Clean Up Their Mess

"A crude high-five: Actress Daryl Hannah tests the "water" in a pit in the oil-producing region of Ecuador's Amazon jungle. Indians and settlers are suing Chevron for allegedly failing to clean up billions of gallons of oily wastewater. Hannah planned to discuss the lawsuit with Ecuador's president."

Source:, Day in Pictures

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Wall Street Journal's
Op-Eds are distorting the science
Part of the Common Arguments by Skeptics and Deniers series

The authors of, Scientific American, and Seed Magazine's Tim Lambert have frequently stated that while the paper itself is of good quality the WSJ editorials are of extremely poor quality and distort science. Scientific American has even challenged the editorial board to meet with top climate scientists so they can get a free lesson. The editorial board has not answered Scientific American's call.

WSJ libel
One of the most obvious distortions of science is the WSJ's claim that the hockey stick was removed from the IPCC's fourth assessment report due to being "widely rebutted":
"All this appears to be resulting in a more cautious scientific approach, which is largely good news. We're told that the upcoming report is also missing any reference to the infamous "hockey stick," a study by Michael Mann that purported to show 900 years of minor fluctuations in temperature, followed by a dramatic spike over the past century. The IPCC featured the graph in 2001, but it has since been widely rebutted."
The Present:
The Hockey Stick is Still There

So did the IPCC really drop the hockey stick? Well if you go to page 35 of this PDF you will see the symbol for the Mann's hockeystick (MBH1999) in the top left hand corner of figure 6.10.

What's more is that if you do a case sensitive search on the IPPC report (PDF) for "Mann" you will see that he is referenced 63 times in chapter 6 alone. A good portion of those are referencing Mann's 1999 hockey stick. And if you do a search on "hockey stick" you will get a hit on page 34 in the middle of a series of paragraphs dedicated solely to defending the Mann's hockey stick. The WSJ's claim that the fourth assessment report is "missing any reference to the infamous hockey stick" simply couldn't be further from the truth.

The Past Evidence:
No Excuse for the Wall Street Journal

Some of you may be thinking that since this opinion journal was published before the official report was released maybe they just had some bad information. The problem with this argument is that the working draft of the IPCC's fourth assessment report was freely available on the internet. One of the biggest critics of the IPCC is the tobacco and oil funded website And not only was junkscience able to get a copy of the draft, but they were hosting the working drafts for anyone to download. The service was even free of charge. And if you go to chapter 6 of the working draft (PDF) you will see a very similar graph on page 14. Again, the symbol for the hockeystick (MBH1999) is in the top left hand corner.

If you search this PDF you will find that "Mann" was referenced 66 times in chapter 6 of the working draft. Again, if you do a search on "hockey stick" you will get a hit on page 28 in the middle of a series of paragraphs dedicated to defending the hockey stick from it's critics. It would appear that the author of this paper has no excuse for screwing up like this.

The Rebuttals:
It's Upside Down Land at the WSJ
So what about the "widely rebutted"? Well there was one paper in a peer review journal written by Ross McKitrick that claimed the hockey stick was flawed. But peer review is only a first filter and reproducibility is what counts. So who's work was reproduced? McKitrick's or Mann's? Well Wahl and Amman managed to reproduce the hockey stick. The results can be seen below:

This was published in the very same journal that McKitrick's paper was published. A press release subsequently said that the McKitrick's criticisms of Mann's hockey stick were "unfounded". After defending the hockey stick, Wahl and Amman challenged the public to download their code and check their work. The hockey stick was yet again defended by the National Academy of Sciences, Nature, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the American Meteorological Society. More on the reproducibility can be found here. So where was this 'wide rebuttal' that the WSJ op-ed talks about? Well, it certainly doesn't appear to be in peer review journals. In peer review the complete opposite is going on. The hockey stick is being widely defended. With work this sloppy one has to wonder if the WSJ editorial board has avoided Scientific Americans invitation because they already know the truth but they refuse to admit it.

*MBH1999 stands for Mann, Bradley, and Hughes with a publication date of 1999.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Solar Power at 1/2, 1/4, 1/8.... the Cost?

From MiT's technology review:
Soliant has designed a solar concentrator that tracks the sun throughout the day but is lighter and not pole-mounted. The system fits in a rectangular frame and is mounted to the roof with the same hardware that's used for conventional flat solar panels. Yet the devices will likely cost half as much as a conventional solar panel, says Hines. A second-generation design, which concentrates light more and uses better photovoltaics, could cost a quarter as much.
Possibly 1/4th the price? It would be interesting to see what would happen if these concentrators are joined with the recently developed solar cells that have a 40.7% efficiency and show promise of a whopping 58% efficiency.

Thanks to a shortage of polysilicon plants the cost of silicon has gone up from $9 in 2001 to a current price of $60. Once more plants are built and the solar industry becomes established we will likely see another drop in solar prices. What this means in dollars and cents will be covered in more depth in the future. But there is certainly lots of potential in the solar industry.

So how much land would be required to power the world with solar? The squares in the map below is the amount of land that would be required to produce 20 terawatts. That's enough to give 10 billion people all the power they need.

What is more is that these squares represent solar cells at 10% efficiency. If we are converting at 58% efficiency then that means these squares are nearly six times the amount of land needed to power the planet.

MiT's Technology Review, Solar Power at Half the Cost, A new roof-mounted system that concentrates sunlight could cut the price of photovoltaics., Kevin Bullis, Friday, May 11, 2007, 40% efficient solar cells to be used for solar electricity, Lisa Zyga
King, R. R., Law, D. C., Edmondson, K. M., Fetzer, C. M., Kinsey, G. S., Yoon, H., Sherif, R. A., and Karam, N. H. “40% efficient metamorphic GaInP/GaInAs/Ge multijunction solar cells.” Applied Physics Letters 90, 183516 (2007).
Silicon Shortage Stalls Solar John Gartner, Wired News, 28 March 2005. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
Shining a light on solar-power costs
Cnet, Solar systems don't come cheap, so HelioVolt is teaming with Exceltech to cut back on the installation costs., Michael Kanellos
Richard E. Smalley, Future Global Energy Prosperity: The Terawatt Challenge
Silicon shortage sends solar sky-high, SOLAR POWER — by Nick Rosen, 02 Nov 2006
Department of Energy, New World Record Achieved in Solar Cell Technology, December 5, 2006