Tuesday, August 04, 2015

1 Samuel 17:46, Two Miracles and a Trampoline

Rud Istvan, playing the arrogant physicist par excellance at Curry's Climate Stand and DotEarth sent his "devastating critique" on the new Hansen, et al paper off to Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions stepping right into Dsquared's parlor on the nature of "devastating critiques"

Istvan's comment at ACPD denigrates both the Hansen et al paper and David Archer's requested review on the grounds of there being no evidence for abrupt sea level rise in the Eemian, but rather than a dry recitation of the gist, allow Eli to simply quote Istvan
Archer’s comment shows how lax the climate science community has become about it’s ’Facts’. Archer, a Hansen paper reviewer, says the Eemian showed abrupt SLR the way Hansen models for the Holocene with CAGW, which gives the paper strong support. And then goes on about further support from WAIS observations such as Hansen co-author Rignot’s recent findings.  
Archer is sadly and quite provably mistaken on both counts. 
In particular Istvan does the rant on about a paper by Michal O'Leary, et al on "Ice sheet collapse following a prolonged period ofstable sea level during the last interglacial"
The two papers finding abrupt Eemian SLR are both geologically flawed. The Australian (O’Leary et.al.) paper that Archer refers to and which Hansen discusses extensively is so flawed it comprises a fairly clear case of academic misconduct. The flaws and the probable misconduct in the misrepresentation of its figure 3 are exposed in illustrated detail with references in essay By Land or By Sea in ebook Blowing Smoke. Incorporated herein by reference 
Along the Western Australian coast O'Leary, et al measure a sudden (like 100 yrs or less) ~5 m sea level rise roughly 118 kYr ago based on coral deposits.  They attribute this to a collapse of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.  The issue of rapid Eemian rise is of continuing interest not only for Hansen et al. but, for example, Pollard, deConto and Alley who model sea level rises of 5 m in 100 years from disappearance of Antarctic ice shelves alone.  However, as the stormy night in Scotland, this is not what interests us

Some, not Eli to be sure, might ask the bunnies to invest $7.99 in Rud's self published book but he has provided the argument on a certain blog.  After significant heavy breathing Istvan's Argument (IA below) is that tectonic activity could have pushed the land down to account for the apparent rise.  Indeed there was one location where this appeared to have happened, although nothing like the rapid sea level rise of 5 m that O'Leary found, and a considerable part of the O'Leary paper is spent dealing with this issue
The observed difference in the elevation of the lower shore platform compared with the upper marine units along the Western Australia coast has been variously attributed to localized tectonic uplift (13–15), isostatic deformation(16), or changes in ice volume (17,18) . We have demonstrated, based on the near-uniform elevation of the lower palaeo MSL datum, that there seems to have been minimal tectonic uplift or subsidence along the Western Australia coast since the last interglacial (Cape Cuvier being an exception). Although an early MIS 5e age [130 -115 kYr ago - ER] for the upper marine units would be indicative of a peak early isostatic highstand (plus a component of ESL rise), a late MIS 5e age can be indicative only of a eustatic jump in sea level. Therefore determining the age of the higher marine MIS 5e units relative to the age of the lower shore platform is critical to our understanding of sea-level variability and ice sheet sensitivity during MIS 5e.
So what is the shorter IA?
A single New Madrid like ‘event’ in the vicinity sometime between then and now could suffice
Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think that this would leave some trace in the geological record, but wait, it is not that alone, as Richard Telford contemporaneously pointed out at Quantpaleo
The authors write that the higher late last-interglacial shoreline is found across the southwest coast, but it is best represented along the 150-km-long Miocene Quobba Ridge, and it is here that all their dated corals are from. Istvar argues that an intra-plate earthquake analogous to the the 1811 New Madrid event could have displaced the shoreline on the Quobba Ridge. Istvar forgets the obvious. Firstly, this shoreline can be found across the region, not just in this one area. Secondly, if we invoke a large earthquake to lower the land at Quobba Ridge in the middle of 5e by 6m, this will disrupt the early 5e shoreline by 6m. As this shoreline is now approximately level, we need to invoke a second earthquake after stage 5e to raise the land back up again by 6m. 
What is Western Australia, a giant trampoline?
and in same vein at the last (and unanswered) comment at Climate Etc.
If you argue that tectonic activity at 119ka BP displaced the land by 6m, you need a second bout of tectonic activity after stage 5e to raise the land again so that the early stage 5e shoreline is ~flat. 
One massive intra-plate tectonic event is unlikely (it would need to be much larger than the New Madrid event). To have a second event that reverses the effects of the first event is implausible. The first event would have release all the stress, how could stress with the opposite sense have accumulated (and not overshot)?

A Speculation

John Quiggin at Crooked Timber discusses the increasing number of people who do not have a religious belief.  Eli speculates:

In the last 50 years, the ability of humans (well at least some humans) to explain and manipulate our planet and particularly the biosphere which supports us has grown to the point where as a practical matter religion is irrelevant or confounding to that understanding. In the last 20 years the availability of that information has grown to the point where that knowledge is available to most. What remains for religion is ethics, but even ethics does not require religion although for many it is useful.

Monday, August 03, 2015

A familiar legal faceplant

Rabett Run remembers David Schnare and the currently-monikered Free Market Environmental Law Clinic. At Legal Planet (good lawblog btw), I read about a 10th Circuit opinion that in no uncertain terms killed off a far-fetched attempt to say Colorado can't require some in-state use of renewable power because it buys power out of state and that would constitute governmental regulation across state boundaries. I went to the read the unanimous court opinion and only then found out who was involved.

Interestingly, the opinion was written by a Bush appointee who is the son of Ann Gorsuch, not someone likely to be a knee-jerk enviro. He was not amused by the arguments, writing the following:

Yes, the district court rejected all three arguments. But for reasons known only to it, [appellant] EELI has appealed just the district court’s disposition under Baldwin. So whether Colorado’s law survives the Pike or Philadelphia tests may be interesting questions, but they are ones that will have to await resolution in some other case some other day.
EELI’s contrary position would also risk serious problems of overinclusion. After all, if any state regulation that “control[s] . . . conduct” out of state is per se unconstitutional, wouldn’t we have to strike down state health and safety regulations that require out-of-state manufacturers to alter their designs or labels? See supra at 9. Certainly EELI offers no limiting principle that might prevent that possibility or others like it. Instead, it seems to embrace such results and, in this way, it seems to call on us not merely to respect the actual holdings of the most dormant authorities in all of dormant commerce clause jurisprudence but to revive and rebuild them on the basis of dicta into a weapon far more powerful than Pike or Philadelphia. That’s an audacious invitation we think the Court unlikely to take up, especially given its remarks about the limits of Baldwin doctrine in Walsh, and it’s a novel lawmaking project we decline to take up on our own.

That second issue in particular is telling. If you're going to try to get courts to extend the law in a new direction, you're more likely to win if you can tell the court that it's just a wee extension, almost perfectly justified by precedent, and clearly limited from making a hash of prior decisions. If instead you have visions of grandeur, you can take a different route, but it didn't work so well here.

I went to the Schnare's web page to look at their litigation victories, and I guess we can say they've been industrious about filing FOIA requests.

One other thing:  this type of litigation based on the dormant commerce clause is making use of classic judicial activism, but apparently that's no big deal.

Another look at Merchants of Doubt

Writing on the CounterPunch website, Louis Proyect reviews the 2010 book and the 2014 documentary film, Merchants of Doubt. Even though you may think the subject is exhausted by now, Louis Proyect's review has new insights. The two Freds (Fred Seitz and Fred Singer) play important roles, of course. But did you know that Fred Singer was once funded by the Unification Church and Rev. Sun Moon?? I didn't know that and I suspect many Rabett Run readers didn't know that, either.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Supplemental Materials

Eli is happy to present some supplemental materials expanding on a previous post and more

Shortly after coming across these, via a tweet from MT, now back at the old Only in it for the Gold stand, the Bunny happened on a post by Jeff Rouner in the Houston Press,  "No its not your opinion, you are just wrong".  It begins with a quote from Mick Cullen
I have had so many conversations or email exchanges with students in the last few years wherein I anger them by indicating that simply saying, "This is my opinion" does not preclude a connected statement from being dead wrong. It still baffles me that some feel those four words somehow give them carte blanche to spout batshit oratory or prose. And it really scares me that some of those students think education that challenges their ideas is equivalent to an attack on their beliefs. -Mick Cullen
Rouner points out that many things people claim as their opinion are actually statements about facts, and facts are not opinions.  Some things are opinions, such as Eli believing that carrots are the most superior food stuff.
There’s nothing wrong with an opinion on those things. The problem comes from people whose opinions are actually misconceptions. If you think vaccines cause autism you are expressing something factually wrong, not an opinion. The fact that you may still believe that vaccines cause autism does not move your misconception into the realm of valid opinion. Nor does the fact that many others share this opinion give it any more validity.
He continues
And yes, sometimes scientific or historical data is wrong or unclear or in need of further examination. Everyone knows water expands when it freezes. Do you know why it does that? when literally nothing else in the world does? Nope, and neither does science.[ *See correction below and related article] Or hey, here’s a question; what was the racial heritage of the Ancient Egyptians because historians can’t come to a consensus;and Egyptian art is too stylized to accurately judge.
Eli and several others pointed out that yes, science and a lot of people know why water expands when it freezes, and Jeff added a correction.  A very important correction, not for what it said about water, but for what it said about how misconceptions can and should be corrected.
* Correction:  I did get something wrong in the article. I said that science didn’t know why water was the only substance that expands when it cools. Turns out water is one of the few substances that expands while it cools, not the only one, and that we do know the reason it expands. I took finding this out with chagrin and further proof of my point that we all have much to learn. My opinion was based on bad data. Now it’s not.
This, to Eli is a major point, that one has to recognize one's own limits.  This is so unusual that one can only point to the title of Michael's most recent post:  They concede nothing, they can't

A Matter of Ethics

The open review of the Hansen, et al  paper on sea level rise has, as they say, gone nuclear, with the arrival of Andy Revkin and the local Dragon Slayer rep.  In that context Eli sees little difference between the two.

Reviewing papers is a matter of ethics.  First you don't review papers if you have any conflicts of interest with the authors.  Second you don't review papers if you are not an expert in the field.  In both cases you send the papers back to the editor with a polite note indicating the reason. 

The first is a question of fairness, the second a question of not making a fool of yourself and wasting everyone's time.  In either case you may have an opinion, but that's it.  It is YOUR opinion

As dsquared said on Twitter:  "devastating critique" is my word for when half-bright self-appointed science police get on the case of actual researchers.

Turn in your badge Andy.

Friday, July 31, 2015

What Fish Need is Bicycles - BPL

Title changed from Choking the Fish

While there has been considerable discussion of desorbing carbon dioxide from the warming oceans, less, to literally none, has been paid to the stuff that sea life breaths.  This, it turns out, could be of even more importance because oxygen concentrations in the ocean are not buffered in the same way that CO2 is as part of a complex series of chemical equilibria.

Oxygen behaves as a nearly ideal gas, whose concentration is controlled by Henry's Law and currents, the currents determining how well mixed it is, and among other things the depth profile.  For those who forgot, Henry's Law says that the concentration of gas well mixed into a liquid, C, is proportional to the partial pressure of the gas above the liquid, p,

C = k(T) p

where k(T) is a function of the temperature and the molecular identity of the gas.  For the purpose of this post, all one needs to know is that as temperature increases k(T) decreases, so the concentration of the gas in the liquid decreases also.  The van't Hoff equation can be used to calculate k(T).

ADDED: To provide an idea of how the maximum concentration of oxygen in water varies with temperature, the figure to the right shows the non-linear nature of the van't Hoff equation

In Science Deutsch, Ferrel, Seibel, Poertner and Huey, work out the consequences of a warming ocean on the ability of fish to breathe.
Warming of the oceans and consequent loss of dissolved oxygen (O2) will alter marine ecosystems, but a mechanistic framework to predict the impact of multiple stressors on viable habitat is lacking. Here, we integrate physiological, climatic, and biogeographic data to calibrate and then map a key metabolic index—the ratio of O2 supply to resting metabolic O2 demand—across geographic ranges of several marine ectotherms. These species differ in thermal and hypoxic tolerances, but their contemporary distributions are all bounded at the equatorward edge by a minimum metabolic index of ~2 to 5, indicative of a critical energetic requirement for organismal activity. The combined effects of warming and O2 loss this century are projected to reduce the upper ocean’s metabolic index by ~20% globally and by ~50% in northern high-latitude regions, forcing poleward and vertical contraction of metabolically viable habitats and species ranges.
There is an editor's summary which puts this a bit more forcefully
It is well known that climate change will warm ocean waters, but dissolved oxygen levels also decrease as water warms. Deutsch et al. combined data on metabolism, temperature, and demographics to determine the impact of marine deoxygenation on a variety of fish and crustacean species (see the Perspective by Kleypas). Predicted climate and oxygen conditions can be expected to contract the distribution of marine fish poleward, as equatorward waters become too low in oxygen to support their energy needs. Furthermore, even the more-poleward waters will have reduced oxygen levels.
Deutsch and co. looked at how the oxygen content would shift populations of cod, seabream, eelpout and rock crab.  They define a metabolic index Φ as the ratio of the available partial pressure of oxygen to the oxygen needed by a resting sea critter. When Φ = 1, about all a fish can do is float.  OTOH, for Φ < 1 the fish has to go somewhere else to be able to survive.  The figure below shows how this shifts under RCP 8.5 in 100 years from the generic 2000 to 2100.

To concentrate the mind, this is just a map of what happens because of a decreasing concentration of oxygen in the oceans, not changes in pH, pollution and other things.  This is also for the oceans, where there is a place to go.  Aquatic life in lakes and rivers can't for the most part pull up the moving van, and there are indications that the same sort of deoxygenation is happening there.  Consider the implications of "Globally significant greenhouse gas emissions from African inland waters" by Borges, et al.

ADDED:  Victor V at Variable Variability has more on how lakes are warming worldwide.  The implications for the things that live in them are not good unless fish are planning to grow legs.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Play it again Uncle Sam - climate action for the next president without Congressional approval

I was going to write about Clinton's initial climate plan and still will, but I got distracted with a plagiarism proposal I want to suggest. Much of her plan requires Congressional approval, and we all now how problematic that will be. What can be done without it?

I think the answer is a lot - just by doing more of what we're already doing, by plagiarizing Obama's Clean Power and making it stricter. More specifically, wait until the Clean Power Plan has cleared all its legal hurdles, and then set up the sequel.

It's not all the easy to find the guts of the CPP, but it's here (starting on page 8). A modified version of each state's predicted baseline carbon emission rate per MWh is established, and here (page 34837, assuming I've read it correctly) each plant has to meet that average rate or find a way to offset the excess, possibly through some state-established system. If all the above-average emission facilities have to get to average levels in some form, then the total emissions go down.

CPP tries not to be arbitrary, so making it tougher in a non-arbitrary way presents a challenge. OTOH, one factor in determining the predicted baseline rate is each state's future Renewable Portfolio Standard (see first link, page 15). If instead of using the individual RPS, the EPA applies the best-in-class RPS from a similarly-situated state, then that could significantly knock down the baseline average emission that plants would have to match.

Figuring out the best-in-class is somewhat flexible, but you could look at every state with a similar or worse level of existing percentage of renewables, take the one that has the highest RPS for the future, and determine that to be the best-in-class. This wouldn't force each state to match the toughest RPS, because they could find other ways to reduce carbon emissions.

This is my version of the "if ain't broke, do it some more" rule. Regardless, serious presidential candidates need to say what they will do on climate change if Congress doesn't cooperate with reality.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Search for Terrestrial Intelligence

ATTP points to another pontification by the good Roger Pielke Jr., which as usual misses the point,
however, in fairness ATTP hisself also whiffs a bit.

Today a self proclaimed expert on football and FIFA (it is corrupt, something that Eli agrees with), Roger wanders into the SETI world.  However, there too, Ethon's food group betrays his lacks with the Pielke like set-up
Upon hearing of the new project, called Breakthrough Listen
Eli thought about this a bit.  Does anybunny associated with the Breakthrough Institute take time out from ceaseless self promotion to listen?  Sadly no, but it turns out that the Listeners are another bunch what has snagged them a rich Russian to fund a SETI project to the dismay of Shellenberger, Nordhaus the Lesser and Pielke the Jr. fudraising being the major industry of the Breakthrough types.

Jr. continues
I was reminded, of all things, of a recent prison break. Last month two convicted murders escaped from a New York prison. They had spent months carefully planning and executing their escape, which involved cutting and digging their way through walls, pipes and concrete. Remarkably, however, the pair gave little thought to what they would do if they actually succeeded in their plans. The consequence of the lack of planning was a short effort to flee from authorities followed by the death of one prisoner and re-capture of the other by authorities.
Well, no.  They suborned a prison worker to be waiting there on the outside with an automobile which would whisk them away.  Unfortunately for them, she got cold feet and was not waiting outside the manhole cover they popped out of.

Having taken literary license, Roger then draws the ill logical conclusion
The search for extra-terrestrial life shares some similarities. We are investing considerable attention and resources into the search, but little into thinking about the consequences of success.
But, of course, in the scheme of things relatively little resources have been spent on SETI, much of which has been analyzing astronomical radio telescope signals taken for and funded by astronomers for their purposes while bootlegging time on personal computers. And yes, people have thought of the consequences from early times as any reader of science fiction or the scientific literature would know. Tailoring of reality to fit one's needs is good sport in Boulder

Roger Jr. uses his fabrication view of the world as an introduction to a puff piece on an old science fiction theme, e.g. we should not shout out into the universe because things like Willard Anthony and Mark Morano, e.g. the deeply evil looking for an opportunity to take the fish, might be listening.

ATTP takes this up.  Discussion ensues about how to do SETI, is there a risk in listening, etc.

However all parties appear (Eli has not read all the comments) not to have noticed that in the last few years the SETI game has changed.  We no longer have to search everywhere.  Planet finding technology will allow those SETI bucks to be burned listening to or beaming out to stars that have earth like planets, today in the sense of being in the habitable zone and being rocky, and coming real soon having an atmosphere, even an oxygen rich one.  Maybe more.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fraud via proxy still seems fraudy.

A puzzled Stoat asks what's the big deal and what's new about revelations that Exxon picked up on climate change issues back in 1981 while funding climate deniers for many years after.

I'll note by response that first those are two separate questions - even if you think it's not particularly news, that doesn't eliminate the problem for Exxon

The real issue as I see it is if Exxon has been trying to spread messages it knows aren't true - that's called fraud, and that's what got the tobacco companies in trouble. Paying someone to commit your fraud for you is no magic shield from liability.

There's this quote at Stoat (but not by Stoat):
Exxon NEVER denied the potential for humans to impact the climate system. It did question ‐ legitimately, in my opinion ‐ the validity of some of the science…
Well, I'm not sure that's an accurate statement, but again it doesn't matter too much if you're using someone else to do your denial for you.

Proving to a judge and jury that's what Exxon did isn't necessarily simple though. It's not Exxon speaking directly, so you'd have to show that Exxon is promoting that speech. Funding climate-denying politicians could just be because Exxon likes their bold stances in favor of motherhood and apple pie. Climate-denying non-profits that exist to do little else could be more problematic. Being able to subpoena documents could really clear this stuff up in terms of nailing down what the motivation was.

Via the Ubiquitous John Mashey, I see Scripps did a forum on the tobacco/climate connection from a few years back. I'm going to have to look at it in depth, but there's this:
A key breakthrough in the public and legal case for tobacco control came when internal documents came to light showing the tobacco industry had knowingly misled the public. Similar documents may well exist in the vaults of the fossil fuel industry and their trade associations and front groups, and there are many possible approaches to unearthing them.
We might have the first stage of this internal documentation with the latest info on what Exxon knew in 1981. Maybe we'll find out more.