Friday, February 28, 2014

Monckton, RSS, and no warming since September 1996

While browsing a climate change article on Huffington Post, I noticed a global warming denier using a Watts Up With That post by Lord Monckton as "evidence" that global temperatures haven't changed since September 1996.  In it, Monckton uses least squares regression to show that satellite data from RSS is flat (trend: -0.0001394ºC per year) between September 1996 and January 2014.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Charles Krauthammer and settled science

An op-ed in my local paper caught my eye yesterday.  By Charles Krauthammer, it's largely a fact-free repetition of talking points trying to dispute whether or not climate change is settled science.  While my hometown paper has the editorial paywalled, it's available at the Washington Post.  Some of his points are utterly unrelated, some are badly outdated, and some are out-right lies.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Republican Meteorologist on climate change

This one is too good not to share.  It's the response of Paul Douglas, a meteorologist who happens to be a registered Republican, to a question on why more climate scientists do not enter the public debate (full response found here).  His take-home line?
"To the heart of your question, why don’t more climate scientists enter into the public debate? Because the debate is over. It’s the moral and scientific equivalent of debating gravity."
As readers who peruse the archives of this blog know, I've spent quite a bit of time detailing why the scientific debate is over.  However, I have one quibble with Douglas' response: He fails to distinguish between the scientific debate and the public debate.  The question concerned the public debate—and the public debate is far from over.  Given the scientific illiteracy of many American voters (26% of whom don't even know that the Earth revolves around the sun), it's been easy for fossil fuel interests to spread misinformation.  And it's going to take scientists who understand both the science and how to communicate that science to set the public debate straight so we can solve the knotty issue of how to take the carbon out of our economy.  While debating climate change may be the moral and scientific equivalent of debating gravity, we need scientists willing to enter the fray so that Americans can understand why it's the equivalent of debating gravity.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

California's drought

California's drought has been in the news quite a bit lately, complete with dire predictions for agriculture and food prices across the US.  The one question I had after reading several articles is "Just how bad is it?"  The answer: Really bad.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Answering a Gish Galloping critic, part 2

In case you missed it, the original comments I'm answering are found at the end of my bibliography of hockey sticks found here.  Part 1 of my response is here.  Now on to the second comment.

Answering a Gish Galloping critic, Part 1

Apparently my post listing 36 publications that all show a "hockey-stick" has attracted some attention, including from a self-proclaimed paleogeneticist who claims that he's an expert in climate models.  I'm putting my response here, as responding to the Gish Gallop of BS he wrote would take far too much space in the comments section of that post.  If he doesn't like it?  Too bad.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2013 climate review

2013 was notable in several ways, from the record warmth in Australia to the polar vortex that gripped the Eastern US in November and December due to a weakened Arctic polar jet stream and record drought in the US state of California, along with numerous extreme weather events around the globe.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Keystone cops

After digging through the recent State Department Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Pipeline, I am quite disappointed.  While right-wingers are cheering the fact that the State Department found that building Keystone XL won't have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, that is the wrong conclusion.  In reality, the State Department found that the tar sand oil flowing through Keystone XL will generate the equivalent of 147 to 168 million metric tons of CO2 emission per year (Executive Summary, page 15).  That is a sizable contribution to greenhouse gas emission from one single project.  It's between 57% and 65% of the average total CO2 emissions from all the world's volcanoes combined (average combined volcanic emissions per year: 260 million metric tons, see Gerlach 2011) and enough to raise atmospheric CO2 levels by 0.021 ppmv per year.  And the State Department somehow thinks that isn't going to impact greenhouse gas emissions?

So, how could the State Department conclude that Keystone XL won't have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions?  Simple.  They assumed that the Canadian tar sands will get developed regardless of whether or not the pipeline is built, then compared expected emissions from transporting that oil via train versus transporting it via Keystone XL (ES page 28).  They didn't even consider the possibility that the tar sands won't be developed without the pipeline.  And that, IMO, is a mistake worthy of the Keystone Cops.


 The Carbon Tracker Initiative released a report today that questioned the State Department's assumption that rail and pipeline emissions would be the same.  They found that oil production could be 525,000 barrels per day higher with Keystone than without.  The reason for the difference?  Carbon Tracker found that transporting oil via the pipeline would be cheaper than via rail and calculated how that price difference would influence tar sands development.  The additional oil would result in up to 5.3 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions per year through AD 2050, far higher than the State Department's estimate that didn't account for the difference in transportation cost.  That amount of emissions is equivalent to what the entire US produces each year.  If the Carbon Tracker analysis is verified, then it appears that the State Department lowballed the impacts of Keystone XL.