Monday, September 22, 2014

A Dog's Dinner

There is considerable unhoppiness about the APS.  The arrogance of physicists was the obvious driver in setting the stage for the now appearing Steve Koonin cluster fuck.  As Eli pointed out the members of the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) drafting sub-committee were several courses short of a clue on climate science, even the physics parts of it.  Ankh commented on how life imitates xkcd.

One would think that since the review of the APS statement on climate change was scheduled for this year, that the APS would appoint at least one or two physicists who specialized in climate science and could leaven the nuclear complex refugees who were on it.  But no.  That would not be physicist like.

When Eli suggested that what has been drafted was almost certainly a dog's dinner, Ethon's friend who had seen it replied that "while not at liberty to say anything about the statement as drafted, but let's just say I had to change my socks because Rover is drooling so much in anticipation of supper."

Ethon has read some letters to the APS and the Wall Street Journal and various blog comments. It turns out that Koonin lobbied to be in charge of the process, got input from climate scientists and then refused to acknowledge what he had been given, simply walking away.  Eli has it now from three sources (although they may overlap) that he has resigned from POPA.  Given that he was/is still listed the chair elect, take this as it is, but the WSJ article is a sure sign that the statement he ramrodded through has met considerable opposition.  The APS response will be indicative.

Ben Santer, who was one of those talking with the sub-committee is unhappy about the outcome, the waste of time and the possibility that he was simply set up by someone with an agenda and no intent to learn.  By permission Eli quotes him

Another source of real frustration is that Dr. Koonin had a real opportunity to listen. To consult experts in many different aspects of climate science. To do a deep dive into the science. To seek understanding of complex scientific issues. He did not make use of this opportunity. His op-Ed is not a deep dive - it is a superficial toe-dip into a shallow puddle, rehashing the same tired memes (the "warming hiatus" points toward fundamental model errors, climate scientists suppress uncertainties, there's a lack of transparency in the IPCC process, climate always varies naturally, etc.) 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

We don't know everything, but we know enough!

In his recent WSJ piece, Steven Koonin makes the following claim:

Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.

What are the facts?

In the period 1870-1924, the rate of sea-level rise was 0.8 mm/yr.

In 1925-1992, the rate was 1.9 mm/yr, and in 1993 -2014 the rate was 3.2 mm/y. So the rate has quadrupled in the last century, from 0.8 mm/yr to 3.2 mm/yr.

The rate data can be found here, from Sato and Hansen. (Data were last updated in May 2014).

Basic climate really is settled. While we don't know everything, we know enough. The rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing problems now,and will cause bigger problems in the future.

Koonin doesn't think we know enough to set good climate policy.

He's wrong: policy should be on the supply side, phase out fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas) and substitute solar, wind, hydro and nuclear instead.

On the demand side, greater energy efficiency.

We don't know everything, but we know enough.

Sea-level rise was important in the $65B damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy on the tri-state NY metro area (NY, NJ, CT) in 2012. Koonin is now at NYU, whose whose Langone Medical Center sustained $1.13B in damages, and the patients had to be evacuated.

Before NYU, Koonin was chief scientist at the oil company BP.

Words

Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, without whose approval not a dime gets spent by Washington.  Today he gave a speech at the Center for American Progress.  It was. . .interesting and not aimed to please the Inhofes, Lonborgs, and Currys of the world but the actions not being taken suit them perfectly.  Speech took about 20 minutes, followed by an interview by former Senator Ted Strickland.

Climate action is tremendously important to me. As OMB Director, due to the wide-ranging effects that climate change is having – and will continue to have – it’s critical to our ability to operate and fund the government in a responsible manner.

From where I sit, climate action is a must do; climate inaction is a can’t do; and climate denial scores – and I don’t mean scoring points on the board. I mean that it scores in the budget – climate denial will cost us billions of dollars. The failure to invest in climate solutions and climate preparedness doesn’t get you membership in a Fiscal Conservatives’ Caucus – it makes you a member of the Flat Earth Society. Climate denial doesn’t just fly in the face of the overwhelming judgment of science – it is fiscally foolish. And while we cannot say with certainty that any individual event is caused by climate change, it is clearly increasing the frequency and intensity of several kinds of extreme weather events. The costs of climate change add up and ignoring the problem only makes it worse.
 and as we all know, no hurricane has hit the US in like thousands of days
But it’s also personal – as a native New Yorker, Superstorm Sandy brought home the impact of extreme weather. New York is where I grew up. It’s where I got married. And it’s where my children were born and raised for most of their lives.

But after Superstorm Sandy, it was where hundreds of homes were turned into piles of debris; mom and pop businesses were left submerged in water; and roads – including the one I had taken my driving test on – were wiped out. One hundred sixty people lost their lives. One of them was a daughter of a family friend. She was just 24 years old.<

As we all know, the storm also carried a hefty price tag: it caused $65 billion in damages and economic losses. Nine million homes and businesses lost power. Over 650,000 homes were damaged or completely destroyed. To help recover and rebuild, the Federal Government provided over $60 billion in much needed relief funding to affected areas.
and Aunt Judy tells us that the pause is in the stadium wave pudding
But, let’s get some facts straight about the continued costs if we don’t act.

Thirteen of the 14 warmest years since good records became available in the late 19th century have occurred since 2000.
Still, the future is bright
Looking ahead, leading estimates suggest that if we see warming of 3° Celsius above preindustrial levels, instead of 2°, we could see additional economic damages of approximately 0.9 percent of global output per. Our Council of Economic Advisers puts this figure into perspective – 0.9 percent of estimated 2014 U.S. GDP is approximately $150 billion.

Within the next 15 years, higher sea levels combined with storm surge and potential changes in hurricane activity are projected to increase the average annual cost of coastal storms along the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico by $7 billion, bringing the total price tag for coastal storms to $35 billion each year.

According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change has made the fire season in the United States longer, and on average, more intense. Funding needed for federal wildland fire management has tripled since 1999—averaging over $3 billion annually. In a world of finite budgets, greater fire suppression costs have left less money available for forest management and fire preparedness. So we spend what we have to in order to put out the fires, and underinvest in the tools that can help mitigate them – only leading to higher costs in the future.

And then there’s the devastating impact of drought in recent years. In 2012, we experienced what NOAA has called the country’s most extensive drought in more than 50 years, racking up $30 billion in damages. This year, California has been facing its third worst drought in recorded history, with a projected cost to the State’s economy of $2.2 billion and more than 17,000 jobs.

The bill to all of us, as taxpayers, is going up too: For example, in January, when the 2014 Farm Bill passed, CBO estimated that agricultural disaster assistance payments would total just under $900 million this year. But due to the severity of the drought, USDA has already spent $2.6 billion this year—three times what the CBO estimated would occur in a more typical year. And crop insurance payouts in the aftermath of the 2012 drought totaled more than $17 billion.

Now, when you consider the impact of climate change on the Federal Budget, it’s bad news for everyone. Even a small reduction in real GDP growth can dramatically reduce Federal revenue, drive up our deficits, and impact the government’s ability to serve the public.

Now, I’ve painted a pretty grim picture. But we are not powerless.
Well, Shaun, you could cut the pipeline off at the knees.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Koonin Hits the Fan

Eli, not a long time ago, posted on the utter cluelessness of the sub-committee putting together a new APS statement on climate change. Like lambs to the slaughter he said, but sadly, one of the lambs was not a sheep but a wolf, lying in wait.  Steve Koonin, the former (Ethon reports) chair of the subcommittee has outed himself in the Wall Street Journal.  

He reprises the expected

  • No such thing as settled science.
  • Scientific and policy discussions have been inhibited
  • I am a physicist and I know
  • It could be bad, but you can't prove it will be bad in my backyard.
  • People are itty bitty things, how could they affect the Earth
  • Climate models are not to be trusted
  • The Pause, The Pause
  • and the models missed The Pause.
Well, if you want more go read Rupert's Rag but sadly damage may have been done.  Ethon has heard that having steered the APS committee in the direction he intended Koonin has resigned in the Hal Lewis manner.  Noisily and nastily.  Confirmation awaited, but there should be blood on the floor. 

The APS has been arrogantly negligent in  its handling of the coming Climate Change position statement.

This sucks.


On Current Affairs Past and Future



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Eli Explains It All

ATTP is talking a pause, from blogging that is.  He is depressed by the futility of it all, trying to have a discussion with people, who are blathering from bad faith or ignorance
Here’s maybe the crucial point : if you think what the other person says is absurd, just stop. There’s no way you can have a good faith discussion with someone who you think is talking nonsense.
No one said it better than Barney Frank

 

Still Eli will miss the conversations over there with the likes of Steve Bloom, Pekka and some (not all) of the regulars to be dissed later.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nevada gambles on Tesla gigafactory

Electric vehicles, if they are charged by green electricity, can reduce carbon emissions. Battery technology is a key factor holding back electric cars. Physics Nobel laureate Burton Richter in his admirable 2010 book, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate change and Energy in the 21st Century, recommends more research into battery technology.

Accordingly, there were national as well as local issues at stake this week, when the Nevada Legislature met in special session. They voted unanimously to give the Tesla company $1.3 B in tax breaks as incentive to build a $5B Gigafactory (battery factory) near Reno. Tesla claims the factory will create 6,500 new jobs, which works out to $200,000 per job.

I hope they got some of that in writing, because verbal promises are worthless. If Tesla ends up creating only half the number of jobs that it touted, are the tax breaks cut in half also?

Nevada's governor, Brian Sandoval, kept the legislature in the dark until the special session met, and presented it to the legislature as a take-it-or-leave-it deal.

Tesla was negotiating with other states besides Nevada, and was in a position to drive a hard bargain. It took a stupendous mount of bribery ($1.3 B works out to $471 per Nevada resident) to get the factory in Nevada.

Skeptics think that Tesla stock is the latest bubble stock. Insiders at Panasonic, VW, and Daimler have expressed skepticism. Analysts say that the factory will only be profitable if it can reduce battery manufacturing costs by 30% from present levels, and must sell 500,000 cars per year. Last year, Tesla sold under 25,000 cars. The company is not currently profitable.

Critics of the deal came from the right and left. The right was represented by the NPRI , Nevada Policy Research Institute, which claims it supports government "transparency". However, NPRI refuses to disclose its funders, so their funding sources remain officially secret (but widely viewed as a front group for at least one big casino.) NPRI thought the governor's calculations of the benefits of the factor were too optimistic. The left was represented by the NPLA, Nevada Progressive Leadership Alliance, which was concerned with funding vital government services. In the short run at least, the result will be a demand for government services for schools, police, fire, roads, etc, but without any additional tax revenues.

Governor Sandoval claims that Nevada will benefit by $100 Billion over the next 20 years, even after the tax breaks. Even if it doesn't happen, he'll still be OK. The factory won't be running before 2017 at the earliest, and Sandoval is widely touted as a potential vice-presidential Republican candidate for the 2016 election cycle.

I wrote to my state legislators, pointing out the price tag of $200,000 per job. I asked politely if I form a company and create five jobs, do I get a million dollars in tax breaks? I will let my faithful readers at Rabett Run when and if I hear anything. Don't hold your breath.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Note About Roger Revelle, Justin Lancaster and Fred Singer

As somebunnies may remember, S. Fred Singer is quite proud of an article in the magazine of the Cosmos Club (a club for movers and shakers in DC) written by Fred Singer and Chauncey Starr that had Roger Revelle's name on it. How Revelle's name got there beyond the fact that Fred Singer put it there is a matter of interest that is explained by Justin Lancaster, Revelle's student and last assistant. Lancaster, to put it softly, was quite skeptical that Revelle was in any meaningful sense an author of that paper and said so.  Singer SLAPPED and got a statement from Lancaster as a settlement

Eli has written about this where you can get up to speed on the whole thing. Of course since Al Gore learned about climate change from Roger Revelle, this has become a stick to beat Gore with. 

Today, Justin Lancaster left a note at Rabett Run, that needs to be repeated
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I would have skipped weighing in further on this topic, except (1) it seems to never recede into history (it's surfacing in Climate Change discussions on Facebook in September 2014), and (2) my dear cousin Walter, for whom I hold sincere respect, clearly needs an update (I wish he'd contacted me directly before adding to this slog).

So let's be clear:

1. Fred Singer is the most unethical scientist, in my opinion, that I have ever met. I said so in the early 1990s, publicly, and I am still confident in the truth of this statement.

2. The worst decision I ever made in my life was to provide a retraction of my statements in the early 1990s about Singer's nastiness. The retraction was coerced. It was required to stop the SLAPP suit brought against me by a conservative think-tank in Washington that wanted to keep Fred Singer in action.

3. I was 95% certain that I would win my case in court. But my wife was terrified. In fact, she was terrorized by this lawsuit. We had three young children. I was a Harvard postdoc now needing to find a next academic posting. She was a graduate student at Harvard. My wife was worried about that 5% risk. She was scared we could lose our house and all our assets. We new it would be a 2-3 year ordeal that would drain our resources and attention. The folks at NRDC and EDF chose to not step in; we couldn't afford the $100k+ that the lawsuit would cost. Defending for a year took an enormous amount of my time. That is the meanness and force of a SLAPP suit.

4. Singer distorted my words in his legal complaint and then even more so in his publication in the Hoover Institution volume. Singer flat out lied in that text about my role (and his wife, Candace Crandall contributed to this smear campaign). This chapter is not a sworn statement.

5. My testimony about what happened is sworn under oath, under penalty of perjury. I am an officer of the courts of VT, MA, CA and CO.

6. Everything I said was true. In my negotiations with the 8 lawyers from two national law firms, in which we scripted the retraction, I refused to state that anything I said was untrue. I never admitted to lying, because I never lied.

7. In the coerced retraction, I allowed that my remarks were "unwarranted," because my mother had commonly used that word when conveying to us that we need not have behaved the way we did. I realized that I could have proceeded more carefully and privately with Singer (which I initially had tried to do) and that I need not have made the issue so public. I also realized that because I was not in Revelle's office during the key session between Singer and Revelle, that I could have let Christa's affidavit and the galley proofs themselves speak the story. (Of course that was already hindsight, as Singer would not provide the galley proofs; I only got them from the Scripps archivist the night before my deposition of Singer).

8. I regret allowing the word "unwarranted" in the coerced retraction, because in fact my charges were fully justified when made. It was a three-hour negotiation, because Singer's lawyers wanted me to admit that I made false statements, but I refused. When my lawyer and I stood to quit the negotiation, saying "We'll be happy to see you in court in MA," there was a flurry of "Wait, wait," across the table. Eventually we settled on the word "unwarranted."

9. I never worked for Al Gore, I was not in any way involved in his political campaign and I had nothing to do with Gore's office other than getting a clip from him for a film on Roger's career that was shown in a film at the Rio Earth Summit. My entire focus was on a wrong being done to Roger Revelle's career and Roger's concern for the Earth environment and for humanity.

10. I had formed, in 1987, a non-profit named: "Environmental Science & Policy Institute (ESPI)," ESPI was the only non-governmental organization presenting scientific results at the 2nd World Climate Conference in Geneva, where I served on the Synthesis Committee. ESPI was an NGO registered at the Earth Summit. I was speaking widely at Dartmouth, Harvard, UC and other fora on the science and policy related to the carbon dioxide problem. I served on the NOAA Citizen Advisory Panel and was the first Chair of the Global Change Working Group within the Society for Risk Assessment.

11. Fred Singer started his "Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)" in the early 1990s, practically in direct opposition to ESPI.

12. Singer was associated with an energy-industry-backed cabal, comprising of at least Patrick Michaels and Robert Balling, and loosely coupling Hugh Ellsaesser, Richard Lindzen and some others. I was known to most or all of these folks through face-to-face encounters academically and in governmental meetings.

13. I had hoped that, after having been found with his hand in the cookie jar, Singer would have the good grace to leave this sordid issue in the historical dust bin. Giving him the retraction and apology I hoped would be sufficient. But it was not and he did not put it down. Instead he raised this issue prominently in the public eye, publishing my retraction in newspapers and blatantly misrepresenting the history in the Hoover chapter. And his cabal echoed it all widely to their key blogging network. And that has continued to cascade through many blogging layers, for now more than twenty years!

14. In 2006, when Gore has published his "An Inconvenient Truth," this all erupted again, and I determined that enough is enough. I publicly and unequivocally repudiated and retracted the earlier "Retraction" that had been coerced, and I published the court documents and supporting affidavits and documentation so that people could read it for themselves.

15. The documentation is available online at Cosmos Myth

16. Singer and his supporters did not respond to my 2006 publication because they have no case. AGW is an issue of public concern. Singer is a celebrity in this field, perhaps the leading contrarian, skeptic, denier at the head of the pack for almost two decades. There are no objective canons of ethics in science (unlike for lawyers), so my charge of unethical can only mean "in my opinion" and "based on my standards." Not only do I believe my statements to be true, I have substantial evidence backing them up. And, we now have anti-SLAPP legislation in Massachusetts.

17. This entire episode has been investigated by journalists, described in chapters in two books, become the subject of a play and other media. Despite the bloggers who seem to continue to enjoy piling on the smear while ignoring the factual evidence, I'm comfortable with the outcome of the former more careful and thorough inspections.
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Eli is grateful for Justin Lancaster's courage and setting the record straight. 

Willard Tony Plays Dr. Who

One of the advantages of the Tardis is that it allows going back in time and ignoring the present or even the more recent past.  This really is an advantage when you are pretending that the last word on proxy reconstructions of climate is Mann, Bradley and Hughes 1998 like Aunt Judy in the Climate Etc attic or Steve McIntyre reliving past cherry picks.  Willard Tony does a nice jig on ozone republishing on Watts Up what he bleated over at PJMedia (are they still alive?).  There is much to giggle about in WT's attempt to appear profound, Sou is on the case, but allow Eli to start from near the end.

Eli, being a fair bunny, can quote WT

Or does it? Adding to the madness, now there is scientific uncertainty about the actual extent of the ozone problem as it relates to CFCs. More recent science has shown that the sensitivity of the Earth’s ozone layer might very well be 10 times less than was originally believed back in the 1980s when the alarm was first sounded. As reported in the prestigious science journal Nature, Markus Rex, an atmospheric scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, found that the breakdown rate of a crucial CFC-related molecule, dichlorine peroxide (Cl2O2), is almost an order of magnitude lower than the currently accepted rate:
“This must have far-reaching consequences,” Rex says. “If the measurements are correct we can basically no longer say we understand how ozone holes come into being.” What effect the results have on projections of the speed or extent of ozone depletion remains unclear.
before, well, before.  That link goes back to 2007, almost a pause ago, and is not to a scientific paper, but a news report, one which quotes Rex.  What this is all about is a claim by Pope et al from JPL that the absorption cross-section of ClO-OCl (aka the ClO dimer or Cl2O2) was much smaller than had previously been measured.  This would mean that the rate at which broke apart (photolyzed or photodissociated) after absorbing a UV photon was much slower.  Thus there would be much less ClO and Cl available to participate in the catalytic destruction of ozone.
ClOOCl + hv --> Cl + ClOO
ClOO + M --> Cl + O2+M
and two of the Cl atoms react with two ozone molecules
Cl + O3 --> ClO + O2
To understand how blogscience works just read some of the comments in that Nature news item
Other groups have yet to confirm the new photolysis rate, but the conundrum is already causing much debate and uncertainty in the ozone research community. “Our understanding of chloride chemistry has really been blown apart,” says John Crowley, an ozone researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany.
and of course, some of the debate and uncertainty lead to new experimental measurement, but that takes a while, and a short while longer to get published.  In 2009, Eli commented on a paper from the Academica Sinica in Taiwan that conclusively showed Pope et al to be wrong.  Of course there was more, most importantly a paper by Burkholder's group (Papanastasiou, et al) at the NOAA Boulder lab (open version sort of).
The UV photolysis of Cl2O2 (dichlorineperoxide) is a key step in the catalytic destruction of polar stratospheric ozone. In this study, the gas-phase UV absorption spectrum of Cl2O2 was measured using diode array spectroscopy and absolute cross sections, σ, are reported for the wavelength range 200-420 nm. Pulsed laser photolysis of Cl2O at 248 nm or Cl2/Cl2O mixtures at 351 nm at low temperature (200-228 K) and high pressure (∼700 Torr, He) was used to produce ClO radicals and subsequently Cl2O2 via the termolecular ClO self-reaction. The Cl2O2 spectrum was obtained from spectra recorded following the completion of the gas phase ClO radical chemistry. The spectral analysis used observed isosbestic points at 271, 312.9, and 408.5 nm combined with reaction stoichiometry and chlorine mass balance to determine the Cl2O2 spectrum. The where the quoted error limits are 2σ and include estimated systematic errors. The Cl2O2 absorption cross sections obtained for wavelengths in the range 300-420 nm are in good agreement with the Cl2O2 spectrum reported previously by Burkholder et al. (J. Phys. Chem. A 1990, 94, 687) and significantly higher than the values reported by Pope et al. (J. Phys. Chem. A 2007, 1, 4322). A possible explanation for the discrepancy in the Cl2O cross section values with the Pope et al. study is discussed. Representative,atmospheric photolysis rate coefficients are calculated and a range of uncertainty estimated based on the determination of σCl2O2(λ) in this work. Although improvements in our fundamental understanding of the photochemistry of Cl2O2 are still desired, this work indicates that major revisions in current atmospheric chemical mechanisms are not required to simulate observed polar ozone depletion.
And what is the possible problem with the Pope study, well, turns out that they were measuring the absorption of ClO dimer in the same region where Cl2 absorbs (btw 300 and 400 nm, kind of bell shaped).  As the abstract discusses, the method of production ClO dimer also produces Cl2 as a by product, and thus you have to know how much Cl2 there is in the mixture you are measuring. Papanastasiou, et al think that Pope et al got this slightly wrong (4.5%).

Also in 2009, there was a nice paper by the Anderson group at Harvard showing that the amount of Cl produced in the photolysis of ClOOCl was exactly what had been pre-Pope expected.

And finally, Pope, now at the University of Birmingham has a new paper (2013) extending the spectral measurements into the visible using cavity ring-down.  Perhaps another post

Eli tried to be nice, pointing this out to WT's fans, but you know. . .

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A Kaya Festival


Somebunny has pointed Eli to a presentation on the Kaya identity from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.  Not that Eli agrees with everything said, but it provides a basis for discussion, and as several have pointed (Dikran, palindrome and Marion) out this draws out the usefulness of such things.  Anyhow, you can go to the Pacific Institute  site and see the presentation full screen.  You can move through the sections using the menu on the left, or of course, as Eli recommends, you can alternate listening to Wynton Marsalas with the Kaya identity.

Oh yeah, the thing needs a minute or so to load and is set to start at the discussion of the identity, so just click yes. Take your time and beverage of pleasure. Eli will have a Carrot Cola.

Not that Eli Was Ever A Wynton Marsalas Fan


but this is good stuff to listen to before or during the serious in life . . . .