- "Experts: Cold snap doesn't disprove global warming"
- Energy and Global Warming News for January 7th: EPA announces strict new health standards for smog; Clean tech funding outpaces every other VC sector
- Reports of Climate Bill Death are Greatly Exaggerated
- Graham won't bow to "political push back": "I have come to conclude that greenhouse gases and carbon pollution [are] not a good thing."
- Democratic majorities safe, for now
- Breaking: Salazar Gets Permission To Run For Gov
- Where on Earth is it unusually warm? Greenland and the Arctic Ocean, which is full of rotten ice
- Chris Matthews: Politico serves as the Drudge-Like "news conduit" for Dick Cheney
- Paul Allen, Sr. VP Constellation Energy on solving the "climate crisis": "I'm not a believer that we have to wait until some new technologies come along. We have ample technologies now."
- Waxman sees push for climate bill in 2010
Posted: 07 Jan 2010 09:19 AM PST
Leave it to the Associated Press to state the obvious starting with the blunt headline. They've been doing some of the best straight reporting on human-caused climate change (see AP analysis of stolen emails: An "exhaustive review" shows "the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.")
In fact, 2009 ranks among the 5 warmest on Earth, and the entire planet just keeps warming thanks to human emissions (see Must-read AP story: Statisticians reject global cooling; Caldeira — "To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous"). It's not just the surface that's warming, but we're also seeing it where climate science said more than 90% of the warming would end up — the oceans (see "Skeptical Science explains how we know global warming is happening: It's the oceans, stupid!")
Robert Henson, author of The Rough Guide to Climate Change also has a good piece in the UK's Guardian, "Snow, ice and the bigger picture": The cold snap tells us little about climate change, but if you want something to blame it on, try the Arctic oscillation," which notes:
I'd also note that the AP story begins:
And some in the media have also queried me about stories where people report non-record-breaking cold. It bears repeating, as I said on Fox, that global warming can't turn January into July. So merely reporting it's cold in January isn't news that has any relevancy to global warming.
If we see record-breaking extremes of a very certain kind — once-in-a-century type events — those I think can be evidentiary (see "Hell and High Water hits Georgia" and "Weather Channel expert on Georgia's record-smashing global-warming-type deluge"). But reading about near-record temps in a city or small country or part of a big country just doesn't cut it.
It's one thing to say, for instance, 2009 was one the five warmest years on record — or even Australia had its hottest decade ever, but to say, it was so cold yesterday in one city it didn't even break the record or we just had a once-in-30-years weather event, well, that's just not evidence of anything but boredom by the media.
The scientific literature now says "Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S." (the lead author is NCAR's Meehl, cited in the AP story). So it's only the statistical accumulation of record highs versus record lows over an extended period of time that tell us much about the state of the climate.
We've only had about 1°F warming in recent decades, which can't do much more than skew the odds — it certainly hasn't warmed anywhere near enough to have driven us outside the bounds of the much larger temperature swings that come from regional weather patterns, let alone the seasons. That's why one needs to do statistical analysis to draw conclusions like the one signed off on by Bush's Commerce Sec. Carlos Gutierrez, Energy Sec. Samuel Bodman, and Science Advisor John Marburger III (see "why the anti-science disinformers try to shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather"):
And they signed off on the conclusion that those "Extreme precipitation episodes" now "account for a larger percentage of total precipitation. The most significant changes have occurred in most of the United States."
And for some reason, it always bears repeating that precipitation isn't temperature — and record snowfall in places where it is normally cold enough in the winter to snow doesn't provide evidence against the theory of human-caused climate change. Quite the reverse (see Was the "Blizzard of 2009″ a "global warming type" of record snowfall — or an opportunity for the media to blow the extreme weather story (again)?).
It doesn't look like we'll have to put with these stories much longer:
And, of course, 2010 still remains likely to be the hottest year on record, given the moderate to strong El Niño we are still experiencing — more on that shortly.
Posted: 07 Jan 2010 08:58 AM PST
Posted: 07 Jan 2010 07:16 AM PST
No CEO Steve Jobs doesn't have a lot in common with the bipartisan climate and clean energy jobs bill — except perhaps that his company shuffled off the nano-Chamber of Commerce over its 'frustrating' global warming denialism. But the bill is still alive and kicking, as I've been saying (see here and here). Bradford Plumer, Assistant Editor at The New Republic has a must-read analysis, "Hold Off On Those Climate Bill Obituaries…." that makes the same point, which I reprint below.
Seems like the conventional wisdom in Washington right now is that there's no way the Senate passes a climate bill in 2010—especially after that long, gory health care battle we just saw.
Here's The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza: "No matter what Obama and his advisers said… there is now no chance that the Administration's climate-change proposal will come up for a vote in the Senate prior to the 2010 election. Politicians never like casting controversial votes, but they like doing so even less in an election year."
Cillizza posted that in late December, shortly after Politico published its own story on how "moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year." Now, there's slightly less to the Politico story than meets the eye, since the main cap-bashing quotes came from Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson, who have been surefire "no" votes since day one. (Nelson we're all familiar with, and Landrieu's a no because she relies on support from Louisiana's oil refiners, who seem to outweigh any concern that her state's particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and hurricanes.) But Politico's right that it'll be a tough slog.
That said, there don't seem to be any signs that Democrats are planning to relent just yet. A few days ago, Ben Geman of The Hill reported that most of the caucus wants to move on a climate bill, and that includes coal-staters like Arlen Specter. True, a few conservative Dems would rather drop the carbon cap and just pass a standalone energy bill—money for renewables, money for the grid and electric vehicles, etc.—but that's still a minority view. And the White House insists it won't stand for "slicing and dicing." They want the full cap.
Granted, just because Democrats are moving ahead doesn't mean they have the votes. And if Landrieu and Nelson are opposed, they'll need some Republican support. But optimists should note that Lindsey Graham is still huddling with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman on a "tripartisan" climate bill. Graham keeps getting abused by the South Carolina GOP, but he's calling for a "meaningful control" on pollution. Also, Susan Collins is co-sponsoring a cap-and-dividend bill—read about the pros and cons of that approach here. So that's at least two Republicans. Not a slam-dunk, but not sheer fantasy, either. (And for those who love tea leaves, two more Republicans, Richard Lugar and Lisa Murkowski, were saying positive things about the Copenhagen accord.)
So what about Cillizza's argument that politicians "never like casting controversial votes in an election year"? That depends how controversial you think a climate bill will be. Many pundits (and Democrats) think it's poison. But curbing carbon pollution does surprisingly well in the polls—and support has held steady for some time now, despite Climategate, GOP attacks on the House bill, etc. (Last I checked, swing Dems in the House weren't suffering for their Waxman-Markey votes, either.) Mind you, health care's been hogging all the oxygen lately, and once the spotlight's on climate, support could shrivel—especially if the economy's still flopping and everyone's furious at Obama. But, for now, it's not clear that climate/clean energy's a toxic issue.
What's more, as Tom Daschle has pointed out, it's not even true that Congress shies away from controversial bills in election years. Welfare reform passed in the summer of 1996, and the most recent Clean Air Act amendments—including a cap-and-trade system for sulfur-dioxide—passed the Senate in April of 1990. Both big election years. (If anything, you'd think that House members would be more skittish about passing election-year bills; senators were given six-year terms precisely so their chamber didn't have to freak out over every little midterm.)
Then there's the biggest reason climate change isn't likely to slink away in 2010—the EPA, remember, is still preparing to regulate carbon-dioxide on its own if Congress doesn't step in. That's already prompted a few swing senators, like Mark Pryor, to reconsider their stance on cap-and-trade. The Senate doesn't have a choice between doing nothing and doing something. It's a choice between doing something or having the EPA do it for them and making a lot of businesses angry. (One caveat: As Kate Sheppard reports, on January 20th, the Senate will vote on a Murkowski amendment to strip the EPA's CO2 authority. It's unlikely this gets 60 votes, but if it does pass, that obviously makes a huge difference.)
Anyway, I'm not wholly confident a climate bill will pass in 2010—it's the Senate, after all, and lots can go awry. But none of the early obituaries for cap-and-trade sound very persuasive. What's more, it's worth considering what would happen if Dems did abandon climate change this year. The party's expected to lose seats in both the House and the Senate this fall, and there aren't a whole lot of green Republicans on the ballot (especially now that Charlie Crist could get snuffed out in Florida). So how will tackling carbon emissions get any easier in 2011 or 2012? It feels a little extreme to say, "It's now or never," but on this issue, that's a real possibility…
JR: I certainly agree it would be harder in 2011 or 2012, since the Dems are likely to lose some two dozen House seats and possibly a few Senate seats (albeit some to "moderates"). If you want a bill, this is the year to pull out all the stops.
Posted: 07 Jan 2010 06:32 AM PST
When we last left Lindsey Graham, the conservative Senator from South Carolina was being censured again (!) by a SC county party for trying to create clean energy jobs in the state, clean its air and reduce the nearly $1 billion a day we ship overseas to buy oil, "some of which finds its way to extremist or terrorist organizations."
On Tuesday, he pushed back:
He dismissed his censure as the 'misplaced priorities' of narrow interests within the larger Republican Party, asserting, "The man who authored the resolution has never voted for a Republican nominee for president in the history of his life," and is "the head of the Ron Paul movement in this part of South Carolina."
Then Graham went on to make a very strong pitch for climate action, while "speaking to more than 100 people at a climate change conference in Columbia":
He also explained reiterated the national security argument for his bipartisan climate and clean energy jobs bill:
What a minute? Graham is "convinced that reason, logic and good business sense, and good environmental policy, will trump the status quo"? And you all think I'm an optimist! Let's hope he's right.
Photo from Rich Glicksteinfirstname.lastname@example.org /The State.
Posted: 07 Jan 2010 06:13 AM PST
That's the Politico's headline today in a story that concludes, "it doesn't yet appear that the party's congressional majorities are threatened." Anyway, it's a good piece if you want to know the conventional center-right "establishment" wisdom these days.
Posted: 07 Jan 2010 05:48 AM PST
That Hotline story, if true, would certainly be a loss for clean energy advocates because Salazar has been one of the administration's superstars in this area (see "Interior Secretary Salazar, Senator Reid announce 'Fast-Track' initiatives for up to 100,000 MW of solar energy development on Western lands").
The story is a tad confusing, though, since they provide no evidence or quotes confirming in the body of the story:
The WashPost story opens:
So far I can't find a story confirming The Hotline. Please post any news/links if you find them
Posted: 06 Jan 2010 01:48 PM PST
Map of air temperature anomalies for December 2009, at roughly 3,000 feet above surface, Areas in orange and red are warm anomalies, areas in blue and purple are cool.
It's cold here and in northern Eurasia, but it's been positively toasty ar0und the Arctic circle — thanks to an extreme negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, as the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) explained in their online report yesterday.
The temperatures reported by NSIDC show some Arctic anomalies exceeding 7°C (13°F)! That's not good news for the kind of re-freezing one wants to see in the otherwise rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet (see Nature: "Dynamic thinning of Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheet ocean margins is more sensitive, pervasive, enduring and important than previously realized"). It's also one reason "December 2009 had the fourth-lowest average ice extent for the month since the beginning of satellite records, falling just above the extent for 2007. The linear rate of decline for December is now 3.3% per decade."
Significantly, a new study, "Perennial pack ice in the southern Beaufort Sea was not as it appeared in the summer of 2009" by Barber et al. finds that all the crowing by the anti-science crowd about the supposed "recovery" of Arctic sea ice was quite premature:
Yes, satellite (and other) measurements of Arctic sea ice extent were apparently deceived. You might even say that an unfortunate trick of Nature helped hide the decline of Arctic ice:
I had blogged on Barber's work when it was first reported by Reuters in November (see "Arctic ice reaches historic seasonal low; "We are almost out of multiyear sea ice in the northern hemisphere"):
Barber and his team thought they'd find "a huge multiyear ice pack that should have been in the Beaufort Sea" but
And now we have the Geophysical Research Letters paper by Barber et al., which concludes:
This study suggests that the Arctic continues to lose area — and, more importantly, volume — at a much more rapid pace than any major climate models had suggested. I'll end with this figure of mean monthly Ice Volume for the Arctic Ocean from a release by several scientific institutions:
I still like my odds on a 90% ice free Arctic by 2020 (see "Another big climate be t — Of Ice and Men"). By then, I assume they'll have figured out how to deal with Nature's sea-ice-decline-hiding trick — or there will simply be too little ice for anybody to be fooled.
For more, see "Looking for Above Normal Temperatures? They are in the Arctic."
Posted: 06 Jan 2010 01:08 PM PST
I am less and less a fan of the more and more center-right Politico (see "Memo to Politico: Do you really aspire to being nothing more than a new media version of the MSM — stenographers of the status quo?") This TP repost has some blunt comments from a leading TV journalist:
Last month, Politico conducted an "interview" with former Vice President Dick Cheney. As ThinkProgress noted at the time, the paper's top reporters — Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen — transcribed Cheney's attacks on Obama without challenge, criticism, or rebuttal.
Indeed, Cheney has been using Politico as his print version of Fox News. In May, Politico's Allen was leaked an "exclusive" preview of Cheney's attacks on Obama's decision to close Guantanamo. Again in October, Allen "broke news" that Cheney was attacking Obama's Afghanistan policy. And just last week, Allen again reported a Cheney attack on Obama's handling of the Christmas Day terrorist incident that was released "in a statement to Politico."
Does Cheney "have a thing with Politico?" MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Politico's Jonathan Martin today on Hardball. "He uses you like he'd use Drudge or somebody," Matthews charged. A stunned Martin had no response for why Cheney has been so willing to give Politico "exclusives." "You'd have to ask the Vice President, Chris," Martin responded, "I'm not sure." Matthews kept pressing the issue:
Posted: 06 Jan 2010 10:21 AM PST
I have some more videos taken while waiting in line to try to get into the Bella Center in Copenhagen (for background, see "Welcome to Disneyland in Denmark — plus one reason Europe's been eating our lunch on renewables, creating hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs").
Here is Paul Allen, Senior VP and Chief Environmental Officer, Constellation Energy, a Fortune 500 company with 7,100 megawatts of generating capacity, on why the company is a "big supporter of climate legislation, cap-and-trade":
Constellation is the largest wholesale power seller and largest retail power seller in the country. In Part 2, Allen explains Constellation's view of natural gas and energy efficiency and why we don't need to wait for new technologies to address climate change now:
And yes, these (F)lip videos are too close. I wanted to make sure I got the audio in the noisy crowded line. Sadly, the Flip camera does not take the microphone attachment.
Posted: 06 Jan 2010 10:18 AM PST
So E&E News PM (subs. req'd) reported last night. E&E feels obliged to quote Sen. Inhofe saying the bill is dead, but Waxman notes:
As for those who think the bill is a political liability, Waxman explains:
I have a bunch of videos from Copenhagen I haven't posted yet. Here's Waxman and Markey together speaking at the BlueGreen Alliance reception about the climate and clean energy jobs bill:
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