Friday, October 16, 2009
- Gawker: The Washington Post Has the Worst Opinion Section in America
- NOAA: Second hottest September on record and virtual tie for hottest in lower troposphere from satellite data
- EPA analysis for Feingold appears doubly flawed: Climate bill allocations are not unfair to the Midwest
- Santer, Jones, and Schneider respond to CEI's phony attack on the temperature record
Posted: 16 Oct 2009 09:36 AM PDT
Okay, this isn't news to CP readers:
But for the wider world, it's nice that the uber-popular website Gawker has weighed in with, "The Washington Post Has the Worst Opinion Section in America," which I reprint below:
Posted: 16 Oct 2009 07:59 AM PDT
NOAA's National Climatic Data Center has issued its latest monthly, "State of the Climate: Global Analysis," which found:
Significantly, September was only 0.04°C (0.07°F) off the 2005 record.
This near-record September comes fast on the heels of the second warmest August on record and warmest June-July-August for the oceans. I previously noted that NASA reported hottest June to September on record.
What is most interesting about this report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the temperature report from the lower troposphere ("the lowest 8 km (5 miles) of the atmosphere") — the satellite data that began in 1979 analyzed by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).
UAH and RSS say September was also the second warmest in their records — a mere 0.01°C off the 1998 record. NOAA reports that the lower troposphere warming trend for September is
So yes, the satellite data also shows that the lower atmosphere is warming, contrary to what you may have heard.
In fact, the mid-troposphere (about 2 to 6 miles above the Earth, which includes a portion of the lower stratosphere) is also warming, according to both UAH and RSS. It's not warming quite as fast because as the lower troposphere in part "because the stratosphere has cooled due to increasing greenhouse gases in the troposphere and losses of ozone in the stratosphere."
The global temperature anomaly for the month looked like this:
Although the United States as a whole was "1.0°F above the 20th Century average," with record-tying temperatures in California, as usual the deniers had a few seemingly cool places in the country on which to feast.
We are still seeing staggering warming in some of the worst places from the perspective of the planet as a whole, the land of the the permafrost permamelt, which currently contains contains more carbon than the atmosphere (see here).
Again, what makes these record temps especially impressive is that we're only in a weak El Niño, and we're at "the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century," according to NASA.
Stay tuned. The heat is on — or, rather, it's never been off.
Posted: 15 Oct 2009 03:00 PM PDT
Midwesterners are operating under the misimpression that the allocation formula in the House bill is unfair to them. It doesn't, although a new, flawed EPA "analysis" ("here") suggests otherwise.
Certainly the formula is a tad ambiguous and that will no doubt be fixed in the Senate. The figure above shows the results of analysis by MJ Bradley (click to enlarge, methodology here).
I would note that the Bradley analysis does not appear to include the energy efficiency provisions in the bill, which are projected by independent analysts and EPA to deliver major savings (see "Waxman-Markey could save $3,900 per household and create 650,000 jobs by 2030"). So even the small increase in bills that you see in 2012 would in reality be lower if the House bill became law. But I digress.
The analysis is tricky for two reasons that the EPA appears to get wrong:
The EPA offers a long explanation for why the prohibition against excess distributions would be tricky to implement in practice — and then it seems like they just ignore the provision entirely. So, as you can see, they claim California would get more allowances than it needs to cover its emissions. But preventing that outcome is precisely why that provision was put in the House bill in the first place.
So I just think EPA got this is doubly wrong in a way that happens to fit the misperception of the Midwesterners. I have also spoken to other independent utility modelers who say their results do not match EPA's.
Bottom Line: The allocation formula appears to be pretty fair, if a tad ambiguous. EPA needs to spell out exactly how they did their analysis, and explain if they made one or both of these two major analytical errors. The Senate needs to be clearer on how the prohibition-against-excess-distributions provision works.
For more background, here are some excerpts from Tuesday Climate Wire (subs. req'd) story:
Posted: 15 Oct 2009 02:33 PM PDT
When we last left the Competitive Enterprise Institute, they were going ape for the Scopes climate trial that the Chamber of Commerce had proposed for the EPA. The deniers just stick their fingers and their ears and scream whenever they hear any science-based finding that GHGs harm human health. What else can you expect from a group that which actually runs ad campaigns aimed at destroying the climate for centuries?
Now CEI is trying to go after the UK temperature record because the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, used by the Hadley/Met Office, has abandoned some bad data. Climate Science Watch (CSW) has the background, "CEI global warming denialists try another gambit seeking to derail EPA endangerment finding." Ironically, as Prof. Phil Jones, CRU's Director explains below:
A small amount of data, which could be easily reconstructed if one wanted to waste a lot of time, was abandoned for reasons such as the following:
Yes, for years the deniers have been claiming that the temperature record is corrupted by the urban heat island effect or bad locations. In fact, we know that it isn't (see Must-read NOAA paper smacks down the deniers: Q: "Is there any question that surface temperatures in the United States have been rising rapidly during the last 50 years?" A: "None at all.") But when CRU actually tries to abandon such data, the deniers cry foul.
CEI: Can't live with them, future generations could live with out them.
To compound the irony, the only meaningful hole in the Hadley data is the "hole in the Arctic," as RealClimate puts it (see here). The Hadley record simply excludes the part of the world "just where recent warming has been greatest." Because of that gap, the Hadley data almost certainly underestimates recent warming.
CSW asked three prominent scientists to comment on CEI's bogus data-shredding charge and posted them here and here. I'm reprinting them below, starting with Stanford's Stephen Schneider, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and author of Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate, coming out next month:
Here's Benjamin Santer, Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, winner of the Department of Energy Distinguished Scientist Fellowship, the E.O. Lawrence Award, and the "Genius Award" by the MacArthur Foundation:
Finaly, here's Jones:
As CSW Rick Piltz said last week
No amount of data will ever satisfy the deniers. They'll plug their ears and shout until the planet is reduced to Hell and High Water. The only question is how long the media and politicians will keep listening to their shrieks.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009
- The Biggest Loser: Incredible, shrinking Chamber of Commerce goes from 3 million members to just 300,000 in one day!
- New report finds 31 states have the renewable resources to be "energy self-reliant"
- Energy and Global Warming News for October 15: Arctic to be ice-free in summer in 20 years — scientist
- Entergy CEO: "We are virtually certain that climate change is occurring, and occurring because of man's activities. We're virtually certain the probability distribution curve is all bad."
- Error-riddled 'Superfreakonomics', Part 2: Who else have Nathan Myhrvold and the Groupthinkers at Intellectual Ventures duped and confused? Would you believe Bill Gates and Warren Buffett?
- Saudis redefine chutzpah: After decades of overpricing, and with trillions of dollars in future revenues, they want aid if world cuts oil use in climate deal
- Breaking: Murkowski praises Kerry-Graham climate plan. The Washington Times writes, "Her remarks signal the potential for a major turn in the climate change debate in Congress."
Posted: 15 Oct 2009 10:14 AM PDT
The exodus of leading companies from the Chamber has been downsizing the denial-pushing industry group (which most certainly does not speak for the business community). But Think Progress has the story (first posted here) of rapid weight loss that easily beats any of the winners of the reality show, "The Biggest Loser."
As Mother Jones reported yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce consistently says that its membership is 3 million, even though it's actually closer to 200,000. The reason for the artificial inflation is that the organization is counting the memberships of 2,800 state and local chambers around the country, even though many of these businesses have no relationship with the national organization. Some of these members are now protesting the Chamber's numbers game:
A day after this public scrutiny began, the Chamber is quietly backing down. At a press conference this morning, Chamber officials "repeatedly cited a membership of 300,000. That's a tenth as many members as the Chamber claimed a day earlier."
http://thinkprogress.org/ 2009/ 10/ 14/ chamber-membership/
Posted: 15 Oct 2009 09:59 AM PDT
A new report from the New Rules Project finds that over 60% of all U.S. states have the renewable energy resources to be "energy self-reliant." ("Energy self-reliance," as defined in the report, is a measure of how self-sufficient in energy generation a state could be if it relied entirely on its own renewable resources). The New Rules Project, a program of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, released its findings last week.
The report, "Energy Self-Reliant States: Second and Expanded Edition" describes how 31 states have the capacity to independently meet their states' electricity demands by using wholly renewable energy sources, already at their disposal. Several states, the report notes, could use their renewable energy resources to produce electricity that meets over ten times their statewide demands. An additional ten states could generate enough electricity to meet well over half of their annual demands—again, solely from renewable sources.
The report's analysis and projections only incorporates renewable energy resources that are currently commercially deployable:
These sources include geothermal, onshore and offshore wind, combined heat and power, traditional geothermal, rooftop solar PV, and micro hydro powers. Enhanced geothermal power, for example, is examined in the report yet not included in the final projections because the resource is considered an "immature renewable energy technology" in need of further improvement. With the development of such nascent technologies, an even greater amount of electricity demands could be met from renewable resources, especially in those states listed in the report as not energy self-reliant.
The New Rules Project's estimates are quite promising. The report is conservative—it excludes various budding energy technologies in reaching its estimates and it does not even anticipate any advances in energy storage or efficiency. Nonetheless, while the data are compelling, the authors of the report hastily conclude that their findings indicate the need for a decentralized renewable energy transmission network. They argue that such a system should be supplanted by state and local networks. This conclusion does not line up.
Rather than local networks, a comprehensive and robust national clean-energy smart grid has the potential to maximize the economics, efficiency, and reliability of a renewable energy system.
First, as seen in the report's estimates of state-by-state renewable energy production, most of the nation's renewable energy resources currently lie in more remote areas of the country. Many of the states identified as "energy self-reliant" earn that title because they have both vast renewable resources and lower electricity demands. With a national clean-energy smart grid, we can better harness the enormous renewable energy potential that exists in remote states and transmit that energy to major energy markets.
Second, a national smart grid with reliable and profuse sources of energy can reduce any problems that result from rising grid congestion in regional markets, such as blackouts and subsequent costs. The authors of the study argue for state and local transmission networks, ignoring technical difficulties that could arise. We cannot afford more New York City style blackouts, and we do not need to create that risk.
The report finds that there are many states that have the renewable energy potential to produce enough clean-electricity that exceeds their own demands. This finding only strengthens our need for a national clean-energy smart grid. We should put the full potential of the renewable resource-rich states to work. In doing so, we can create more jobs in those very states by letting them serve the national market through a national transmission network.
Though the authors of the report offer policy recommendations that might not be the most beneficial for a future clean-energy economy, the estimates from which they induce those recommendations indicate that the United States has ample renewable resource potential—one that must be harvested to its fullest capacity.
Posted: 15 Oct 2009 09:38 AM PDT
For more on declining Arctic ice volume, go here.
Posted: 15 Oct 2009 06:42 AM PDT
Last week I reported on the White House Clean Energy Economy Forum — see "Carol Browner says clean energy bill without carbon cap would be a 'big mistake'; Nobelist Chu agrees, warning we otherwise face catastrophe, with St. Louis above 90°F for 1/3 the year." In this repost, Wonk Room has a video and transcript of some key remarks.
Last week, over a hundred CEOs of American companies broke with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to lobby Congress to "pass comprehensive climate change and energy policy legislation this year." The U.S. Senate is now considering the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, which would set a market-based limit on global warming pollution. Participants in a Clean Energy Economy Forum at the White House included J. Wayne Leonard, the Chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation, the utility giant based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Speaking at the White House event, Leonard called for action on climate change and clean energy not just for economic reasons but starkly moral ones:
In a powerful speech, Leonard called a national system to cap carbon pollution "an investment that by all facts, figures and analysis pays back many times over," and warned that "history will judge us if we don't pass comprehensive climate and energy reform now" for "cheating [our children] out of their future."
Entergy serves "two-and-a-half million customers in the mid-South and the Gulf South portion of the country, some of the poorest people in the country," Leonard noted. These customers already suffered the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which global warming likely fueled.
Although Entergy's website warns that the "ramifications of global climate change, while uncertain, paint a devastating portrait of an unsustainable world" and that what "the United States does now is critical to eliminating or at least reducing the possibility of catastrophic outcomes for future generations," the corporation is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is spending millions of dollars to fight the regulation of climate pollution. Entergy plans to remain in the climate-denial organization in an attempt to "convince other members to agree to emissions limits."
Posted: 14 Oct 2009 04:54 PM PDT
This post will shock you.
The sheer illogic and "patent nonsense" of the new book Superfreakonomics discussed in Part 1 is just the tip of the iceberg. What's most worrisome is 1) who exactly has been peddling much of the nonsense and illogic to the authors — Nathan Myhrvold, the former CTO of Microsoft — and 2) who else may have been persuaded by his bullshit. The Myrhvold connection deserves special focus because it may help explain three puzzling things:
According to the Superfreaks, Gates and Buffett went to the visit the tar sands (and other energy producers) with Myrhvold, giving him plenty of time to spread his misinformation to them. Moreover, the idea Myrhvold came away is simply stunning.
And yes, one always needs the caveat, "according to Levitt and Dubner," because their reporting skills are so dreadful — they shoehorn everything they hear into whatever contrarian view they had decided to adopt. You shouldn't take anything they say at face value. As we've seen, the primary climatologist the book relies on, Ken Caldeira, says "it is an inaccurate portrayal of me" and is "misleading" in "many" places. But I have reason to believe Myrhvold was given a draft to comment on — and if so, he was a willing participant in the defamation of his own reputation and that of his company "Intellectual Ventures." Apparently, he really does push this piece of staggering illogic:
As I said in Part 1, not only is it not illogical, but I suspect most of the world's leading climate scientists believe that if you could curtail all new carbon emissions (including from deforestation) starting now (or even starting soon), you would indeed avoid apocaplyse. In fact, as Caldeira makes clear, the reverse of Myrhvold's final statement is true: ONLY if we make Herculean efforts to reduce our emissions, could geo-engineering possibly contribute to the solution.
Note also that this certainty about something completely unproven (i.e. large-scale aerosol-based geo-engineering), comes from a guy who seriously questions the real science of human-caused climate change. The Superfreaks describe their visit to IV this way:
Good for them! So they think maybe human emissions cause some of the warming, but that it's illogical to believe Herculean efforts to reduce emissions can avoid catastrophe, while we can be certain that geo-engineering will work (if it's needed of course). How convenient.
As discussed in Part 1, however, absent the Herculean effort, geoengineering is all but hopeless and leads to "a dystopic world out of a science fiction story" as Caldeira described it to me. Myhrvold and the geniuses groupthinkers at IV, however, dismiss all of the solutions:
[Pause for laughter. Then for weeping.]
No, I'm not making this up. Go to the Amazon.com page for the book, and put "summarizes" in the search engine. This guy was the CTO at Microsoft, and IV "controls more than twenty thousand patents" and they just make up crap like this and tell it to really important people who apparently swallow eat it up like pudding. Has nobody in the room ever Googled? I can't waste time debunking all of that crap, but how about this is from EPA:
Globally "Transport accounts for around a quarter of total CO2 emissions." In fact, transport is the key sector, because reducing carbon emissions in electricity generation is so damn easy (see "An introduction to the core climate solutions").
That's why I call Myhrvold and his ilk, F.A.K.E.R.s — Famous "Authorities" whose Knowledge (of climate) is Extremely Rudimentary [Error-riddled?]. I can only conclude IV is filled with yes-men and -women who specialize in some bizarre form of contrarian groupthink, which in any other setting would be an oxymoron.
And, then we get this multi-whopper piece of nonsense:
As discussed in Part 1, this may set the FAKER record for howlers in one paragraph and for most orders of magnitude error in a single global warming calculation. But the crap goes on and on like a really bad case of dysentery:
[Pause to tighten vise around cranium so it does not explode.]
No. No. No. A thousand times no.
First off, the energy payback for building solar is currently only a few years and dropping steadily. Second, the carbon payback or "warming debt" of every solution drops steadily over time as you reduce the carbon intensity of the overall energy system. The point is that you do multiple solutions all at once, including a massive amount of energy efficiency, a massive amount of renewables (especially CSP, which the FAKERs seem unaware of), and even fuel switching from coal to gas. The U.S. could easily cut its CO2 emissions deepling in two decades while building out the most massive low carbon energy system. Finally, of course, if we don't build the low-carbon infrastructure, then we will be building carbon-producing infrastructure, which will generate even more staggeringly large amounts of carbon for Myhrvold's dystopia.
But the Superfreaks think the FAKERs are geniuses:
I'm going to it invent a new phrase for these FAKERs — idiotic savants.
If this guy has Gates' ear, no wonder the Gates Foundation mostly ignores global warming. And remember, Buffett is the other major contributor to the Gates Foundation. It's multi-billionaire Groupthink.
Now while the FAKERs are busy dissing all low-carbon technologies, which organizations as credible as the International Energy Agency, the National Academy of Sciences, the IPCC, and McKinsey say can be employed at scale and cost-effectively, their own solution is so risible even the media is starting to laugh at it. The Independent writes:
And they never acknowledge any of the major problems that I discussed in Part 1. Ironically, even though the Superfreaks rely heavily on Caldeira as a scientist who supposedly supports their geo-engineering strategy and even though they point out early on that Caldeira "coined the phrase 'ocean acidification," the process by which the seas absorb so much carbon dioxide the corals and other shallow-water organisms are threatened," Levitt and Dubner never mention it again, even though their geoengineering-only strategy would devastate the oceans for millennia (see "Imagine a World without Fish: Deadly ocean acidification — hard to deny, harder to geo-engineer, but not hard to stop — is subject of documentary").
As the UK's Guardian puts it:
But the Superfreaks say its all settled science:
Do these guys even have the most rudimentary notion of what "scientific evidence" is? Here's what Pinatubo did:
Yeah, it solved global warming.
The June 1991 eruption had a real, but very short-term impact. We have no "scientific evidence" of what the medium-term or long-term impact would be of creating the equivalent of multiple simultaneous Pinatubos every year for decades and decades.
It's like saying 2 aspirins cured my headache, so now that the doctors say I have a malignant brain tumor, the scientific evidence proves I can take 2000 aspirins every day for the rest of my life and be cured.
As Caldeira says:
For more, see Science on the Risks of Climate Engineering: "Optimism about a geoengineered 'easy way out' should be tempered by examination of currently observed climate changes" and British coal industry flack pushes geo-engineering "ploy" to give politicians "viable reason to do nothing" about global warming. Is that why Lomborg supports such a smoke-and-mirrors approach? which has an analysis by Robock I'll repost at the end.
But first, let me end with one final Myhrvold shocker, which may explain the answer to the questions I posed at the start. Where does he want to put the 18-mile-long hose to pump large quantities of sulphur dioxide into the Earth's stratosphere?
Memo to Superfreaks: They ain't "oil sands."
[Pause to clean up gray matter now scattered all over the vise.]
[Pause to think fondly about Myhrvold being around 100 years ago and not today -- then start worrying about the various unintended catastrophes we'd be dealing with now as a result.]
Lord knows how many people besides Gates and Buffett and Levitt and Dubner — and the hundreds of thousands of people who will read Superfreakonomics (currently #4 on Amazon's sales ranking) — will be duped by Myhrvold et al.
Since the Superfreaks don't report the work of any of the myriad climate scientists who have raised concerns about geo-engineering, since they have essentially adopted the exact same position as Bjorn Lomborg, let me end by reposting an outstanding response from RealClimate, "A biased economic analysis of geoengineering" by Prof. Alan Robock. Robock gave the best talk I ever heard on geo-engineering (here), and this post is an excellent primer with numerous links:
Posted: 14 Oct 2009 12:26 PM PDT
Let's call it The Audacity of hOPEC. AP reported last week:
The hypocritical chutzpah is staggering. The head of the Saudi delegation Mohammad S. Al Sabban said:
First off, for decades now, Saudi Arabia has led the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in using monopoly practices to keep oil prices higher than they would have been under strict market economics. This caused pain for developed countries like ours, but hardly as much, relatively speaking, as that suffered by the non-oil-producing developing (i.e. poor) countries. I don't remember Saudi Arabia commenting on the burden that cartel-driven oil prices created for other developing countries.
Second, the Saudi logic about the future impact of a climate deal is exactly backwards from the broad perspective of the burden of all developing countries. If the rich countries reduce their oil consumption, that will necessarily reduce the price of oil compared to what it would have otherwise been.
That is an old study by Charles River, which has done lots of dubious climate analysis for the fossil fuel industry.
In fact, the Saudis will probably be making $200+ billion a year in 2012 from oil sales, and a little climate will not have any noticeable impact on oil consumption by then. Moreover, peak oil is going to drive up prices and reduce demand faster than any climate deal (see World's top energy economist warns peak oil threatens recovery, urges immediate action: "We have to leave oil before oil leaves us").
Many inside and outside the Arab world were having none of the Saudis nonsensical, special pleading:
The NYT reports:
Posted: 14 Oct 2009 11:36 AM PDT
The climate train is leaving the station. It is becoming increasingly likely Congress will pass a comprehensive energy bill that includes a shrinking cap and a rising carbon price (with a price collar). Key swing Senators are moving away from obstructionism toward a bipartisan deal. Those who stand on the sidelines not only risk ending up on the wrong side of history for this momentous bill, but they risk the more tangible benefits of sitting at the negotiating table.
The Washington Times reported today:
In the op-ed, the two Senators asserted they have developed "a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution." The framework includes, among other things, more offshore drilling and incentives for nuclear power, neither of which should be deal breakers for progressives as I have explained.
Murkowski's office has now put out a press release reiterating her statements:
Silver himself has a column today "Can Offshore Drilling Save the Climate Bill?" on the subject. I actually think his analysis focuses too much on the wrong element of the deal — the proposed nuclear provisions are probably more important for securing the 60 votes than the drilling provisions. Indeed, you have no chance whatsoever of getting either Liebermann or Graham, let alone McCain and many others, without a strong nuclear title. Here is his bottom line:
I don't think it gets you any of the "more remote possibilities."
Again, I think he misses the point. The nuclear provisions are probably more important. Here, for instance, is a statement last month from the office of Senator Voinovich (R-OH):
The Kerry-Graham deal certainly puts his vote for the bill in the "gettable" column. And as the bill becomes more genuinely bipartisan, then Senators like Lugar (R-IN) become gettable too. I think the final bill will 5 or more Rs and 62 or more total votes.
Silver's finally sentence "I would not place money on the climate bill passing this year" is a tad too coy. I myself would not place money on the climate bill passing the Senate this year. But I would place money on it passing by next year, and I'd be interested to know whether Silver would, too.
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