Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"He was a registered Republican... he would have been dismayed" - NYT on Keeling

A Scientist, His Work and a Climate Reckoning - today's New York Times front-page profile of Charles David Keeling, discoverer of the rising-CO2 Keeling curve.
Dr. Keeling’s widow, Louise, said that if her husband had lived to see the hardening of the political battle lines over climate change, he would have been dismayed.

“He was a registered Republican,” she said. “He just didn’t think of it as a political issue at all.”

"Climate Hawk" logo; plus other imagery

I've added a Climate Hawk logo to this blog's sidebar (though it makes the mouse a bit nervous) - David Smith of Stockbridge Green architects designed it, and Gail is making lapel pins.

As for other imagery, I'm working on a (Creative Commons-licensed) climate communication "salient climate imagery & quotes" page/poster; drafts of it are up & I'd welcome feedback on it from science-aligned folk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fox News boss to talent: Cast doubt on climate science

See Media Matters for the story (and Wonk Room for the leaked memo):
Fox boss ordered staff to cast doubt on climate science
"In the midst of global climate change talks last December, a top Fox News official sent an email questioning the "veracity of climate change data" and ordering the network's journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question." "


Also see this Howell Raines Washington Post op-ed from last spring, “Why don’t honest journalists take on Roger Ailes and Fox News?(h/t Climate Progress)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Infovore: Getting the most from the discourse of ideas

Someone recently pointed me to James Fallows's article in The Atlantic, Dirty Coal, Clean Future, noting "This is a very practical, realistic approach considering the world's need for fossil fuels and the super abundance of coal."

I wondered what others thought about Fallows' argument, so I did a Warming101 custom search for posts about this article; which brought up David Roberts's thought-provoking response at Grist, A question for James Fallows about coal and focus ...which was followed by Fallows' response, and Roberts' response to that.

Viola - a more well rounded understanding of the issue.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Re-lighting Nevada City

This morning's visual news:
That's Chris nestled in the lofty (and prickly!) boughs of the spruce tree in Calanan Park, replacing Christmas lights; Vern down below said no, Chris is not afraid of heights.



And the gaslight next to the Broad St. freeway offramp was having a glass pane replaced, as some doofus broke the old one with a rock.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Clay Shirky on Wikileaks

Wikileaks and the Long Haul - best take so far.

Cancun climate deal reached

The Guardian has the story.
In short, reputable sources say, it's a step forward but it's just one step: it saved the process, but isn't enough yet to save the habitability of the planet.

Drivers beware - Motorcycle Toy Run today, noon-?

Followup, at KNCO: Problems Suspend Toy Run for Next Year (throwing candy, candy mess on roads, bikers w/o helmets)

If you don't want to get stuck at an intersection for a half hour or so, you need to avoid travel in & between our towns starting at midday today - the toy run starts at noon in Nevada City & goes to the fairgrounds ("1:00-3:30 pm"), circuitously and without ever stopping to let motorists (or peds?) through.

I once asked a participant how long he thought was acceptable, to have motorists wait; he refused to answer.

I looked on the Toy Run website for a map of the run, to see what routes if any are still available to drivers while the run is in progress, but the only map they provide is one showing how to reach the [Rood Center] starting point.

Putting on my Keachie hat, what the organizers could do, if they wanted to avoid inconveniencing the community, is divide the bike traffic into 10-minute "slugs" at the outset, with 2 or 3 minutes in between; then the ride could still be nonstop for the bikers, but cars could still get through while the ride was in progress.
And providing a route map - ideally with estimated start/end time the bikers will pass through each segment - would be helpful too. (Does Google let you do animated route maps?)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Brain vs bluster" climate video, testimony

Dr. Richard Alley and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in action: Brain vs Bluster
(h/t Peter Sinclair)

As you watch it, remember: this official got more votes than any other contender in his district.



Alley is wonderful, as always. Money quote, circa 8:20: "If humans weren't here and we didn't care about anything that lives here, if this were a video game, I'd push the button and see what happens, because it'd be really exciting; but it's not a video game."

(The fellow who speaks after him is Pat Michaels.)

Friday, December 03, 2010

This week's climate news roundup...

...is the Climate Post from Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions; online here at Grist.

Most interesting - Sharon Begley's Newsweek article about using fractional risk attribution to pin the blame for extreme weather events on climate change.

Most disturbing - with high emissions and strong carbon cycle feedbacks, we could reach 7.2 degrees F as early as 2060 - when the toddler next door will still be younger than I am now.

She deserves better than that.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Speaking up as a citizen - Nov. NCAdvocate column

I've been remiss in [not] mentioning that I wrote a column for the Nevada City Advocate, that finally appeared in the November issue. If you still have a copy, please open it to page 12 and note the column prominently displayed near the bottom.

Accolades were received from [the] five or six people who read it.

It was about high-level tools for thought & judgment; how can and should we-as-citizens go about assessing what we hear about climate, and weighing action. (Kate's laudable credibility spectrum - from nonexperts, to experts, to groups of experts - was, in fact, lauded.)

Speaking up as a citizen - KVMR climate commentary tonight

There was an impassioned - but IMO misguided - commentary on KVMR's science show Soundings, day before yesterday. I asked to respond with a 3 minute commentary on KVMR News, and Paul Emery graciously consented and recorded it today; it will air tonight. You'll be entertained if you listen (live or later) - my lips don't behave well when chilly, so it has the distinct auditory aura of a mouthful of marbles. Or you can just read it, below.
Confessions:
1. I didn't credit Teresa Nielsen Hayden for her "extremely interesting ancient times" big picture, which is flat out wonderful, nor presidential science advisor John Holdren for his "car with bad brakes headed toward a cliff in the fog" metaphor - I was trying to keep it a) flowing and b) under 3 minutes w/o speaking like an auctioneer.
Update, upon listening: more like a Yugo trying to run at 40 below.
2. I don't know 100% that the Climate Science Rapid Response Team promises to provide information
and commentary to journalists, or just information; I'm 90% sure the former though.)
3. Pre-emptive apologies for disappointing a certain local contrarian; when I'd met him, I'd
(verbally) brandished my Harvard PhD in an attempt to convey that I might actually have some idea what I'm talking about. Let's just say it turned out to be a bad move, apparently never to be forgotten; I have learned from it.
4. Partial apologies to Mr. Stahler, whose commentary I was responding to, since I don't directly address most of his points here - IMO it was something of a Gish Gallop, not amenable to a substantive 3 minute rebuttal. AGU-related advice to same, based on last year: attend plenary sessions, which can be excellent for conveying the big picture.
The commentary:
This is Anna Haynes with a Free Speech message about climate science and climate action - and about the big picture.

Some people don't think the science on climate justifies urgent action - and don't want the scientists themselves to speak up about it.

This raises some basic questions.

Should we use science to inform climate policy? I'd say yes - to do otherwise is to act from ignorance.

Does climate science tell us exactly what the future holds, or even exactly what the current reality is?
No, never; science is about the weight of evidence and probabilities and getting ever closer to the truth - not about certainty.

Does the lack of certainty mean it has nothing useful to tell us? No, since it does give information on the severity and likelihood of the dangers we create for ourselves and generations to come, the longer we wait to curb our greenhouse gas emissions.

To wait for certainty is misguided - When you're "in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog" (*), with your children in the back seat, a good parent does not keep their foot on the gas.

Should scientists themselves go before the public and explain the risks we're running? I'd say yes - ideally they could stay in the lab & do their science & leave the communication to others, but with today's journalism of false balance, or worse yet, journalism snookered by industry public relations, as responsible citizens, scientists need to speak up. They have children too.

Do some actions pose their own risks? Yes, but they're much more tractable than global climate destabilization.

But why listen to me, I'm no climate expert - you need a reliable source. Ideally that'd be the media, but it hasn't covered climate well. This may improve, with the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, a group of working climate scientists who've gathered to fight back against misinformation - they're now a resource for journalists who want reliable climate information and commentary.

But what about for the public - for you and me, now? For us the Rapid Response Team recommends a website that uses science to assess dubious climate claims.
The site they recommend is SkepticalScience.com.

People can get caught up in details, so let's keep the big picture in mind:

We are "ancestral peoples"; "this is the very dawn of the world. We're hardly more than an eyeblink away from the fall of Troy - and scarcely an interglaciation removed from the Altamira cave painters. We live in extremely interesting ancient times." We need to be "earnest and ingenious and brave, as befits ancestral peoples" (link) ...

- and make our descendants proud.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

FYI, a new local climate communication experiment

2011 update: This experiment was not very productive.

In this blog I've critiqued past climate-related communication from KVMR science correspondent / The Union science columnist Al Stahler, but continuing this effort seems fruitless - he's got an audience of thousands, I don't. And since neither he nor I have any formal climate science expertise, it looks like the blind critiquing the blind, epistemologically speaking. So it just bounces off.

So, I want to try something different - I've asked Al if I can put up his latest Union column (it's not yet online AFAIK; it's titled "Climate is Complex", & conveys the themes & memes that you'd expect from that title) and ask those with climate science expertise to critique it.

Waiting forGot permission; stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Nevada-County's-a-small-world department

It turns out that the woman who's been coming in to help care for my relative is married to one of Nevada County's earliest bloggers.

He's a lucky man - his wife is attractive, warm, friendly, extremely patient and extremely attentive.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Maddow shows where delusions come from

Rachel Maddow - with examples, showing consequences - on how these folk make their own reality...






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See it.





One hundred thousand years

From Grist, The Climate Post: Earth will take 100,000 years to recover from the midterms’ effects on climate
...Nothing closes the window of opportunity on peaking greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 quite like a new of speaker of the House who once expressed outright disbelief about the veracity of scientists' claims regarding the threat of climate change
...
Geologists published a paper this week suggesting the Earth will take 100,000 years to recover from the effects of the global warming resulting from our current emissions trajectory.
When you vented your outrage at the ballot box, maybe wasn't The Man you were sticking it to.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Koch Network tie - via plane - to Tea Party Patriots

"Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin have been "flying for freedom" and "landing for liberty" across the country in a private jet they've dubbed "Patriot One"... which belongs to one "Raymon F. Thompson, and he's the founder and former CEO of Semitool"(*) ... who shows up (as Ray Thompson) on the list of attendees of the Kochtopus network gathering in Aspen last June.

(h/t Frank)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Judith Curry on our own Russ Steele: not a climate skeptic

It was Dr. Curry in haste, perhaps, but all the same, it does not evince an awareness of the glaringly obvious. Her words (reprinted here):
"Re the “Hockey Stick Illusion,” here are some blogospheric reviews, not from identified “skeptics (as far as i can tell):
Seth’s Blog
Klimazweibel
NC Media Watch
Facts Plus Logic
Discovery News"

Mother Jones on Meckler's TPP private jet trips

From yesterday, A Secret Tea Party Donor Revealed
("Movement leaders are jetting across the country in a donated plane to rally the tea party troops. Meet the deep-pocketed GOP donor who owns "Patriot One.")

(Said deep-pocketed donor is nonlocal, a fellow in Montana - or at least that's where the plane is registered.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"It’s going to be a terrible wake-up call" - Jeff Masters on climate change

Al Stahler on KVMR interviewed Weather Underground's Jeff Masters just now; and from what I heard, no Qs were asked about climate change, and Masters only briefly touched on it.

So you likely don't know his views - here they are, from a recent Yale Climate Media Forum profile:
"Masters considers himself different from most meteorologists, many of whom he says are unreasonably skeptical of climate change science. He says he thinks their skepticism stems in part from bachelors degree meteorology students’ not being required to study climatology or climate science as part of their formal degree requirements.

Masters says he believes that the conclusions of the IPCC report are “genuine, valid, and probably understated.” And he is critical of what he sees as well orchestrated and well funded climate misinformation campaigns.

“They’re able to persuade even intelligent people with a background in meteorology” that climate change isn’t occurring, he said. “It’s going to be a terrible wake-up call when the climate becomes unstable, and we’ll kick ourselves for being resistant to cutting our use of fossil fuels.

“The ignorance and greed that human society is showing in this matter will be to our ultimate detriment and possible destruction,” he says.

He urges his 14-year-old daughter to educate herself on climate change. “It will be the defining issue of their generation,” he says. ...
...
He plans to continue being “a spokesperson for the best science we have on what the planet is doing and where’s it is headed.”

(Sorry for the shouting; but how to reach resistant ears?)

Also, Al did ask about modeling, and Masters spoke about weather models' variability and uncertainty; but he didn't present the distinction between modeling for short-term prediction - weather - and modeling for long-term prediction - climate: the latter is *not* sensitive to initial conditions, so it doesn't suffer from the flakiness of weather predictions. Paging Jeff Masters - this is something a *lot* of people don't grasp.

I'll ask him to weigh in on this, and report back.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Film Shows How Corporate America is Faking a Grassroots Revolution

I'm looking forward to this one. Details here; trailer below.

Why won't CABPRO provide its Employer ID number? Who are its clients?

The executive director and at least two board members of the Nevada County group CABPRO - California Association of Business Property & Resource Owners - are remarkably cagey about giving out the most basic information about their group.

Executive director Martin Light and local attorney and ex-candidate Barry Pruett have said CABPRO's a 501(c)(4); but the IRS has no record of this. On Oct. 4 I mailed a request to inspect their "tax exempt status" documents, left a phone message, and taped a copy of my request to the office door; I've heard nothing back.

Of the multiple phone messages I've left with the CABPRO office, none have been returned. Of the ten times or more that I've stopped by the office during working hours, the Closed sign has always been up.

While executive director Light had invited the SBC's Steven Frisch to "drop by" the office when Frisch was in town, the office was closed - and locked, and dark - when Frisch arrived at the date and time he'd announced he was coming. Two times.

I asked CABPRO Report blogger Russ Steele who might have information about the group, since phone calls to the organization weren't returned and Steele himself professed ignorance.

He suggested the board of directors.

I was able to reach two of them, Chuck Shea and Kim Janousek (Ms. Janousek is also CABPRO's agent, according to Cal. Sec of State records ); but they expressed displeasure at being phoned, wouldn't provide information about the group, and didn't consider it any of their business that their executive director wasn't returning phone calls.

I've sent a letter to the IRS suggesting that they look into this group's status.

If CABPRO is in fact a for-profit group - as a former executive director has stated, and as the 1997 National Center for Public Policy Research "green pages" lists it - who are its clients?

If it doesn't have an Employer ID number, who pays its staff and management?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fact Checking CARB's Mary Nichols re “Nevada County worst (rural) ozone in the nation

In short: The lady - doubted by some (Steele, KPruett) - was correct.

In the aftermath to last month's CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols talk on AB32, Kim Pruett and Russ Steele wanted evidence for her assertion that Nevada County's air quality was the worst of any rural county in the U.S. and worse than any region nationally outside of California.

I offered to look into it, which entailed a) asking her office for the reference & b) getting stymied when looking into it myself, by not looking into the document that turned out to hold the rankings.

But CARB came through, in the person of a Mr. Chris Bowman:
"In recent years, the American Lung Association has ranked Nevada County as the most ozone-polluted rural area in the nation -- and smoggier than any city outside of California and Texas. The rankings come from the ALA's annual State of the Air reports...
In 2007, for example, you'll see (p. 24) that Nevada County ranked as the 13th most ozone-polluted county in the nation. This year, Nevada County ranked 8th (p. 16).
What's striking, of course, is that Nevada County has but a fraction of the population of every higher ranking county -- including El Dorado, Tulare and Kern, where the highest ozone readings are in urban areas such as El Dorado Hills, Placerville, Visalia and Bakersfield.
The disparity begs explanation. I went searching for answers seven years ago as a reporter for The Sacramento Bee and wrote a story on what I learned...
(Thank you Chris.)

From the aforementioned 2010 A.L.A. air quality report (pdf), p. 16, the nation's "worst ozone" county rankings are:
  1. San Bernardino
  2. Riverside
  3. Kern
  4. Tulare
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Fresno
  7. El Dorado
  8. Nevada
A couple of details: our county's population size is just over half of the least-populated "worse" county, El Dorado, with which we're almost tied for bad air at 45 vs 47 (weighted average of #unhealthy high ozone days, 2006-2008). And #1 San Bernardino, with 20x more people, had 3x more bad ozone days.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Perspective

it's 3:23 in the morning
and I'm awake
because my great great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?

what did you do
once
you
knew?
...

- Drew Dellinger, Hieroglyphic Stairway

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On goading; and The Clinton Test, for good and for ill

Three-word summary: beware of goading.

Some time back on this blog I brought up Joshua Marshall's Clinton Test, as a guide to one's judgment -
"When I come across something fishy from the [opposition], I try to use what I call the Clinton Test to keep myself honest and steer me right.... the Clinton Test is quite simply, how would I react to situation X if [the one doing it] was [of my tribe (or vice versa)]..."
As a personal guide to keep your inner tribalist in line, it's excellent; but as with any tool, a warped mind can turn it around and use it as a weapon - by sending out a decoy who's behaving outrageously, to goad people into a) making responses that feel justified by that outrageousness, and then into b) [explicitly, verbally] justifying those responses; then converting the justification to black & white, as it were, by filtering out the outrageousness & slapping a "Clinton Test" frame on it - then turning this end product against people who've been acting within the bounds of civil society.

That's awkwardly worded, and I don't want to give an example that'd make it clearer, but the take-home lesson is, try to recognize goading and be very, very careful how you react, because your reactions may have negative consequences - perhaps for you, perhaps for third parties.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

National Journal: today's GOP is, uh, "unique"

"The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones. ... It is difficult to identify another major political party in any democracy as thoroughly dismissive of climate science as is the GOP here."
- from Ronald Brownstein's Oct. 9 National Journal article GOP Gives Climate Science A Cold Shoulder
The Lysenkoists are alive and well.

"So quickly did [Lysenko] develop his prescriptions - from the cold treatment of grain, to the plucking of leaves from cotton plants, to the cluster planting of trees, to unusual fertilizer mixes - that academic biologists did not have time to demonstrate that one technique was valueless or harmful before a new one was adopted.

He used his position to denounce biologists as "fly-lovers and people haters," and to decry the "wreckers" in biology, whom he claimed were trying to purposely disable the Soviet economy and cause it to fail.

Lysenko's 'new' methods were seen as a way to make peasants feel positively involved in an 'agricultural revolution'. ..." (link)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Three questions for Al Stahler, The Union science columnist & host of KVMR's Soundings

No answers yet.
  1. Do you agree that it is possible for a speaker - for example, a public relations professional - to mislead their audience by presenting (or differentially stressing) selective truths?

  2. Do you agree that it is possible for a speaker to mislead their audience about science, by presenting (or differentially stressing) selective scientific information?

  3. Do you agree that science communicators have a responsibility to paint a basically accurate picture of science?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Junk science indeed - GMU investigating climate hockey stick critic Edward Wegman - plagiarism

Oct 13 correction&update in italics.
George Mason University is investigating leading climate changehockey stick "skeptic" Edward Wegman, whose Wegman Report was embraced by climate science doubters and was recently cited by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in his efforts to go after "hockey stick" climate researcher Michael Mann.

USA Today - University investigating prominent climate science critic
" 250-page report on the Deep Climate website (pdf) written by computer scientist John Mashey of Portola Valley, Calif....Mashey says his analysis shows that 35 of the 91 pages in the 2006 Wegman report are plagiarized...and contain erroneous citations of data, as well."
And it's not just plagiarism.

Michael Mann has a Washington Post op-ed today, Get the anti-science bent out of politics:
"...they want to continue a 20-year assault on climate research, questioning basic science and promoting doubt where there is none.
...
We have lived through the pseudo-science that questioned the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, and the false claims questioning the science of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. The same dynamics and many of the same players are still hard at work, questioning the reality of climate change.
...
the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science.

How can I assure young researchers in climate science that if they make a breakthrough in our understanding about how human activity is altering our climate that they, too, will not be dragged through a show trial at a congressional hearing?

America has led the world in science for decades. It has benefited our culture, our economy and our understanding of the world.

My fellow scientists and I must be ready to stand up to blatant abuse from politicians who seek to mislead and distract the public. They are hurting American science. And their failure to accept the reality of climate change will hurt our children and grandchildren, too. "

Clearing up climate confusion from today's Al Stahler Union column on Venus

If you perused today's The Union science column about Venus, "Many Ways To Shine"(no link), by Union columnist and KVMR science host Al Stahler, you might have come away thinking that the CO2 we're spewing into the air here on Planet Earth isn't so important.
- which is false, so in this post I'll explain how the column could mislead someone, and how the reality differs.

Here's the passage that could misdirect. Read it carefully, think about the message it sends:
"Orbiting closer to the sun than Earth, Venus long ago lost her oceans to evaporation, loading the air with a powerful greenhouse gas. Water vapor. Venus grew hot.

Without oceans, Venus was unable to sequester her carbon dioxide. If not as powerful as water vapor, carbon dioxide [CO2] is, too, a greenhouse gas.

Venus remains hot today, her surface averaging some 860 degrees Fahrenheit."
OK, quiz time. Based on this passage -

1. Which greenhouse gas makes Venus hellaciously hot - water vapor, or CO2?
2. Which greenhouse gas should we be more concerned about here on earth - water vapor, or CO2?


To me, the passage suggests both answers would be "water vapor" (not CO2) - which just ain't so.

From RealClimate's post Lessons from Venus -
"...the atmosphere of Venus has as much mass as about 100 Earth atmospheres, and it is almost pure CO2. This accounts for its very strong greenhouse effect."
How to reconcile this with the Union article passage above - which talks about the oceans of Venus evaporating into water vapor, and about water vapor being a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 - and each sentence of which, AFAIK, is accurate?

RealClimate explains the larger picture:
"Venus succumbed early to a "runaway water vapor greenhouse"...much of the ocean evaporated into the atmosphere.
[as the Union article mentions.]


Once this happens, it is easy for the water vapor to decompose in the upper atmosphere...
[as
the Union article mentions, but many paragraphs later, in an entirely different context.]

Once water is lost, the reaction that turns carbon dioxide into limestone can no longer take place,
[as the Union article mentions.]

so CO2 outgassing from volcanoes accumulates in the atmosphere instead of staying bound up in the rocks.
[as the Union article implies.]

The end state of this process is the current atmosphere of Venus... essentially no water in the atmosphere and essentially the planet’s whole inventory of carbon in the form of atmospheric CO2."
[ which the Union article does not mention at all.]
This omission would be fine - you can't convey every nuance in a column, after all - if there weren't an important lesson for us humans in the parallels between the atmosphere of Venus (packed to the gills with carbon dioxide) - and the changes we're making to the atmosphere of Earth (packing it with carbon dioxide).

Which is not to say that we're facing runaway global warming that'll yield another Venus, the RC hosts clarify:
"The runaway greenhouse that presumably led to the present Venus is an extreme form of the water vapor feedback that amplifies the effect of CO2 increases on Earth. Is there a risk that anthropogenic global warming could kick the Earth into a runaway greenhouse state? Almost certainly not. ..."

OK, on to our second quiz question, "Which greenhouse gas should we be more concerned about here on earth?"

The Union article's [untangled] statement, "Carbon dioxide [CO2] is not as powerful a greenhouse gas as water vapor", implies that the answer is "water vapor". But this is misdirection, since with water vapor vs. CO2, "more powerful" does not translate to "more important" (as the excellent SkepticalScience.com explains here). Even though CO2 is a less powerful greenhouse gas in and of itself, it's more important than water vapor because of the processes it drives.

So the reader's being misled if you just mention the "more/less powerful" relation; you're telling her something that's literally true but that paints a false picture; it's not the right metric for grasping the problem.

(It's kind of like the 1960s nuclear power PR folks telling us that the amount of nuclear waste per person per year would be equivalent - in mass - to a couple of aspirin in your medicine cabinet; really not a helpful metric, if these "aspirin" could sicken everyone in the neighborhood.
(And no, I don't want to discuss nuclear power here; I probably support it more than you do.)
)

The so-called skeptics (who aren't true skeptics) ignore the huge difference in how long extra water vapor vs. CO2 stays up in the atmosphere - added water vapor rains back out within days, while added CO2 takes centuries to come out. And CO2 is the climate change driver, the "control knob" of climate, that - by the warming it causes by itself - causes the atmosphere to *hold onto* more water vapor, which amplifies the just-CO2-only-caused warming.
(all of which the SkepticalScience.com article will explain better than I've done here.)

Did that help?
(Was it clear, or clear as mud?)


I want to keep doing these "corrective" posts, and I want them to be useful...

Nevada County nonprofits at risk - Oct 15 deadline

(no, this isn't about CABPRO...)

Come October 15, the roster of small Nevada County nonprofits is going to shrink, if the folks behind these groups don't hurry up and file an annual return - even just a 990-N - with the IRS.

It used to be that small nonprofits didn't have to file a yearly return; but in 2006 that changed, with passage of The Pension Protection Act. Now all tax-exempt organizations - except for churches and church-related organizations - have to file at least a simple 990-N, and if they don't do so for three consecutive years, their nonprofit status gets revoked.

The deadline was originally back in May, but there's a one-time extension to Oct 15.

From the Topeka Capital-Journal:
"since the law changed, every exempt organization has to file a 990 of some type," [IRS spokesman Michael] Devine said. "The important thing is that if you are an exempt organization, especially a small one, you have to file a 990 in order to stay in compliance with the law or your status is going to be revoked."
The IRS has each state's list of endangered nonprofits.
California's list: Excel, PDF

I browsed through it & came up with these Grass Valley and Nevada City nonprofits:
(there are many more - I just used Excel Viewer, which wouldn't sort by town, so missed some - and I didn't check for Penn Valley, Colfax, etc; and is it possible that even orgs not on the IRS list may be endangered?)
  • Air-Pac Of Nevada County
  • Alzheimer Family Support Group Of Western Nevada County
  • Blue Planet Discovery Incorporated
  • Canine Council
  • Cascade Shores Homeowners Association
  • Chris Harada Productions
  • Compassionate Action - Accion Compasivo
  • Disabled American Veterans
  • Friends Of Spenceville
  • Key Club (Bear River, Nevada Union)
  • Nevada City Business And Professional Womens Club
  • Nevada County Property Rights Committee
  • Nevada County Sheriffs Search & Rescue Inc
  • Nevada County Taxpayers Association
  • Sierra Jazz Society
  • Several fire district groups
If you know the people running these orgs, you might notify them, in case the IRS notification didn't reach them.

If your nonprofit is at risk, how do you make things right with the IRS?
FDL Reporter explains:
"Organizations required to file Form 990-N need only visit the IRS website, fill in the required information on the 990-N form and electronically file it. Tax-exempt groups eligible to file Form 990-EZ must file their delinquent annual information returns by Oct. 15 and pay a compliance fee."

The IRS page to visit:
IRS Announces One-Time Filing Relief for Small Exempt Organizations That Failed to File for Three Consecutive Years

Some Truckee groups (there are plenty) -
  • Barn Owls Unlimited
  • Tahoe Center for a Sustainable Future
  • Sierra Housing Development Corp.
  • Sierra Human Resources Association
  • Sierra Public Media Corp.
  • Truckee Babe Ruth Baseball League
  • Truckee Nordic Club
  • Truckee Sportsmen's Association
  • Truckee Tahoe Airmens Association

Thursday, October 07, 2010

KNCO quotes Steele on Prop 23, credulously

Next day update: KNCO's Rita Stevens told me that they are planning on running an opposing view, from APPLE's Tom Grundy. Thank you Rita, and KNCO.

Here's the SESF blurb, by Rita Stevens.
("S-E-S-F Executive Director Russell Steele says the [SESF] study took a scientific approach....")

um, right.

Ms. Stevens, may I recommend that you talk to Paul Emery...or better yet, Steve Frisch of the Sierra Business Council; Dr. Rebane and Mr. Steele - and CABPRO, parent of SESF - are in a spot of credibility trouble.

And if you have children, please take a look at this infographic (based on peer reviewed research) and consider what contribution you, as a member of the press, are making to their future.

Pelline - CABPRO drops "nonprofit" from membership form

Story here. Update - I should have looked further into this; it seems Steve Frisch should get the credit for having detected the change in the CABPRO membership form; after Todd Juvinall tried to pull the wool over our eyes with it.

Also, Rick Daysog of the Sac Bee has a new story out -
Green jobs rise in state, study finds
"...one key industrial sector is seeing robust job growth: the green economy.

In a study released Wednesday, Palo Alto-based nonprofit Next 10 and Collaborative Economics Inc. of Mountain View found that manufacturing jobs in the state's green sector grew by 19 percent between 1995 and 2008...."

The IRS weighs in, confusingly, on CABPRO

Today I called the IRS "verify a nonprofit" phone line (toll-free; 1-877-829-5500), spent half an hour on hold, then spoke with Cynthia, who said no, she couldn't find any record of the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners having tax exempt status.*

I asked, "are there any penalties for misrepresenting your group as a 501c4?" and this is where it got complicated. She said - and I'm repeating this from memory & somewhat fallible notes - that even though the group has no IRS Letter of Determination as a 501c4, it can still *call* itself a 501(c)(4) if it's organized and run in accordance with 501(c)(4) regulations.

"But how can anyone tell if they are?" I asked, and she answered that, well, if the IRS audits them, it can.

* Groups also legitimately wouldn't show up on the "tax exempt" list if they're "Subordinate units that are included in group exemption letters" (link) - so that's another Q to ask executive director Martin Light, if we can ever track him down. Was anyone able to stop by the CABPRO dinner at Penny's Diner last night (link)?

NCFocus posts labeled "CABPRO"

Rebane dances around CABPRO's legal status

Here.
The comments on that post by Enos, Frisch and Pelline do make the point - which isn't answered.

Rebane in short: CABPRO is a private corporation, and only its members know for sure whether it's a nonprofit or not. He says this even though CABPRO executive director Martin Light and attorney Barry Pruett have said it's a 501(c)(4); and apparently he thinks it's none of our business, whether Pruett and Light have misled us - or, somehow, been misled themselves.

From Pelline:

CABPRO's newsletter states:
"While CABPRO is a not-for-profit organization, we have deliberately declined the 501c3 status for two reasons."

So Barry Pruett said the group is 501c4 nonprofit, George said it is a "private California corporation," and the newsletter said it is a "not-for-profit" corporation.
Which is it? (link)

George Rebane responds:

JeffP - You unfortunately reason as if those descriptors are somehow mutually contradictory. (link)

Well, if they're not contradictory, it's a 501(c)(4), in which case either they'll be showing their paperwork very soon, else the IRS will come 'a'knockin'.

I wonder what the consequences are, for misrepresenting one's organization?

(It could be that CABPRO _is_ a 501(c)(4), but the secretiveness of those involved - failing to return phone calls or email, deleting comments from multiple parties asking for verification, dancing around the "is it or isn't it" question, inviting the SBC's Steve Frisch to "drop by" when the office is always closed, etc - doesn't indicate candor or trustworthiness.)
------
Also, KVMR news director Paul Emery comments to Rebane re last month's KVMR Steve Frisch-George Rebane Prop 23 debate:
"George...you completely disregarded the protocol that I established for the show. Hopefully it was your inexperience in media forums that led you to disregard my instructions. " (link)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Comments on the secretive CABPRO at Chez Pelline

Former The Union editor Jeff Pelline is a prolific blogger, and his comments section still hosts the most intelligent conversation in Nevada County - due to his frequent posting, his "real name" comment policy, and his blog's providing largely threaded comments.

But for a commenter, there's a downside, in that comments there get buried - both due to the commenting community's activity and also due to Gresham's Law kicking in, polluting the threads by the repeated raising and rehashing of the same old arguments.

One consequence of this burial is that parts of the narrative sometimes get lost.

So - this post will be a repository for comments I - and others? - have posted there related to the secretive folks at CABPRO, where global climate destabilization is "globull warming".
(Feel free to add your substantive CABPRO comments below.)

"...the CABPRO folk are afraid of [my] questions; which – for me at least – makes it hard to get answers. ... The org was founded in the early 1990s, during a recession, when money was tight." (July 29; link)

"All we have is Barry(*) saying CABPRO’s a 501(c)(4) on his blogpost. Journalism is a discipline of verification, so I’ve left Barry a comment asking how to see documentation." (Sept 22; link)

"Re CABPRO’s nonprofit status, I should also note that my comment asking about it did not survive moderation over at Barry Pruett’s blog. ..." - (Oct 2; link)

"fyi, re [my] "Steve, you need to ask Martin *when* the CABPRO office is open." - my comment at the CABPRO Report blog, making that point, did not survive moderation. Anyone know who that blog’s moderator is? Russ Steele – who posts there – claims not to know." (Oct 4; link)

"Fortunately, the IRS doesn’t care whether CABPRO finds the request interesting. Stay tuned…"
(Oct 4; link)

"[CABPRO’s the 2-story bldg] On the ground floor; the doors with the letter taped to them, officially requesting to see their Application for Tax Exemption and its last three Annual Information Returns.
:-)
The IRS (in Pub. 557) requires them to make the docs available for public inspection even if their office hours are nonexistent." (Oct 5; link)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Countering Climate Disinformation - Checklist

This post (URL: http://tinyurl.com/disinfo-checklist ) means to be a one-stop shop for dealing with contrarian commenters.
I'll add to & improve it over time; if you've got suggestions/complaints, submit a comment please.

If someone makes climate-contrarian claims repeatedly - where he sounds superficially like he knows what he's talking about, yet thinks the climate science community is wrong - the fellow is most likely a crank (read it please, to understand), so his scientific(?) arguments don't warrant serious consideration from non-expert folk like us.

But if he has an audience for his disinformation, you should counter it for the readers' sake.

Doing it as concisely as possible, e.g. just by providing a link to this post, helps keep the discussion thread from being hijacked, & so frees the on-topic discussion to continue.

For the contrarian commenter, here's a checklist to help you avoid saying things that'd make you look foolish.
  • Have you considered the big picture - are you so sure that you're right & the climate science community is wrong, that you're willing to bet *everything* on it?

  • Have you done due diligence in checking that your claim/argument is not already known to be faulty - did you first check Skeptical Science.com or Coby Beck's How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic (http://bit.ly/cobybeck) or the EPA “endangerment” "response to comments" ( http://tinyurl.com/EPA-response ), or search for science-aligned coverage of the claim at bit.ly/w101search ?
    (You'll probably look silly, if you don't run these checks first.)

  • If you cite a source for your claim, have you checked the source's standing on the Credibility Spectrum? Without being able to intelligently assess credibility, there’s no way someone can tell which end is up, climate-science-wise.
    (If your views *are* in line with what the highest credibility sources are saying, not a problem.)
    (FYI, one local fellow objects to this credibility spectrum since its author, Kate, is herself young and un-credentialed - but that's silly since "it does not require any technical expertise to come up with something like Kate's spectrum, it's just a progression from non-experts to experts to large groups of experts. And if the problem is that someone can't trust the large groups of experts because it's all a giant conspiracy, there's not much anyone can do to dissuade them." )

  • Remember that 97% of actively publishing climate scientists believe the world is warming and it's largely human-caused, and the the group that doesn't, has lower expertise - and is small enough to fit into the average American kitchen.
    (If you don't like the Doran 2009 survey that found the 97%, there's also Anderegg et al 2010, which classified the researchers by the petitions they'd signed, and got a similar result.)

  • Remember that if you're only learning from deviant views, you're probably going to be misled.
It's hard to change your mind, since humans are prone to "motivated cognition" (read Jonah Lehrer's book How We Decide for more). But we can minimize the damage wrong information causes, to the understanding of others - and when the stakes are this high, that's worth doing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Report: CARB chair Mary D. Nichols on AB32 in Nevada City

Update: other reports by Rebane, Steele; reaction by Pelline. If you run across others, could you please add them in the comments?

Tonight was the AB32 presentation at City Hall by California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols. It was informative, well attended, well-run and civil. Kudos to organizers Judy Kildow and Robert Bergman and speaker Nichols for the format, which limited the presentation to AB32 and called for questions to be written on an index card and passed to the aisle.

Practically everyone who was anyone was there.
(And if you missed it, some extremely welcome news - there are plans to bring other science and science-aligned policy experts to our community, to speak on issues like climate change and ocean acidification.)

Nichols spoke for about half an hour on AB32's aims and implementation, then answered audience questions. She stressed that she represented all of us and was not expected or permitted to advocate for or against the stop-AB32 initiative, Prop. 23.

She pointed out we're victims of Bay Area and Sacto-area emissions - our air quality is worse than any rural region in the country, and worse than any region outside of California. And global warming makes air pollution worse - for the same amount of pollution emitted, you get more ground-level ozone. Their study projected that in 40 years, with global warming we'll have an extra 30 "bad ozone" days a year.
"People don't want air that shortens their lives and makes their children sick."
What AB32 does -
Its goal is to get us off petroleum in 40 years, to increase efficiency & shift to more reliable & cleaner energy. It's "cost effective, common sense measures to ratchet down smog and greenhouse gases too."
CARB aims to manage the transition, to make it as seamless, painless and equitable as possible.

* Basically, AB32 reduces emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 - a 15% cut from today - and already we have in place over half the emission reductions needed to meet that goal, mostly via the Pavley bill (AB 1493?)
* By 2020, 1/3 of electricity generated in CA must be from renewables (this would be suspended under Prop 23)
* A low carbon fuel standard - oil cos. will have a choice on how to meet it, e.g. compressed natural gas, electric fueling stations... - for a 20% drop in oil consumption
* Reduce car usage, via land use and transportation planning - it'd be voluntary for communities, with the carrots being CEQA-free infill development and (presumably state) transportation funding.
* Cap & trade, a mechanism originally promoted by the business community - put a price on carbon, so people can choose to make money by cleaning it up. The cap steps down gradually.

There were a couple of good questions asking what to do when an AB32 regulation proves unworkable - e.g. diesel particulate filters on trucks causing them to run poorly and get worse mileage - she answered saying that yes, they do revisit such regulations - you contact their ombudsman, who's their small business point person, and they look at the situation and sometimes lift restrictions or temporarily stop enforcement until they can figure it out & come up with a fix.

Another question was about an L.A. study projecting a huge increase in electricity costs; Nichols responded saying that electricity rates are projected to increase considerably in future, AB32 or no AB32, and that one of the things AB32 will do is protect us from price increases, since - via renewables - it'll reduce our vulnerability to price spikes via outside interests; though she didn't explicitly mention our Enron summer.

For a historical analogy of an earlier transition, she used the example of vapor-retrieval gas nozzles at gas stations, reminding us how stinky refueling your car used to be, and how gas station owners were not happy about installing the new equipment; yet now we take it for granted.

She freely admitted that California wasn't going to stop global warming, since we produce just 2% of global emissions; but said the goal is for us to pioneer solutions, to let us demonstrate techniques & technologies for others to buy; and to reap the benefits of being early adopters.

Friday, September 24, 2010

KVMR climate commentary response to George Rebane

Last Friday KVMR ran a commentary from Dr. Rebane that described&named "camps" who hold various climate views, extolled Bjorn Lomborg, and argued for a Yes vote on Prop 23; and since I'd been told I could reply if Rebane started using his commentary for climate contrarianism, I was invited to respond to that one. My response airs tonight on KVMR's 6pm news.
(As I've said elsewhere, I'm uncomfortable being put in the position of advocating a particular vote - I'm a flashlight-wielder, not an arm-twister or persuader - so after countering Rebane's climate-delay talking points, for the "Prop 23" part I just cribbed from the recent NYTimes editorial.)

Here's the text , with references.


Last Friday, KVMR ran a commentary by retired engineer George Rebane, who cited author Bjorn Lomborg in arguing for Prop 23, the out-of-state-oil-funded initiative to roll back California's global warming law.

I thought about what to tell you in response. Should I point out it's a red flag when someone doesn't accept climate science and uses the term "true believers" to describe those who do? - including the 29 out of 30 active climate scientists who agree there's a consensus of evidence that global warming is happening and largely human-caused. (The small group of doubters has demonstrably lower expertise. )

Or perhaps I should note that Bjorn Lomborg, the fellow Rebane touted, has no expertise in climate science or environmental economics, his background's in poli sci and game theory. And while he's written several books that are loaded with footnotes and references, a review of the references found they're a sham, they don't support his claims.

Or I could share some pointers on judging who to trust - like, when there are two sides on an issue, if one side has the recycled tobacco PR flacks & the other has pretty much every major scientific organization on the planet, to treat the two sides equally is...unwise.

Or I could point out that Rebane's "there's no proof" argument' is a red herring - science deals in probabilities, not proof - by the time there's proof it'll be too late. If a mom sits back and lets her son play in traffic since there's no *proof* he'll get run over, we call it reckless endangerment.

Or I could share my prediction that the climate delay effort will turn out to be the most pervasive, effective and destructive commercial PR disinformation effort that the world has ever known. The fossil fuels industry is just as threatened as tobacco was; and we *know* what the tobacco folks were doing behind the scenes to confuse the public. This industry's 10 times bigger; you do the math.
(In his Prop 23 [KVMR] debate with Steve Frisch, in the context of climate science Rebane mentioned a scientist who'd lost his position at UCLA - but neglected to say that the guy's a tobacco researcher.)

No, what I should do for you is share some points from the Prop. 23 editorial in Monday's[?] New York Times; it's called The Brothers Koch and AB 32:
Note: I cut out a lot, & did a lot of paraphrasing for brevity/clarity; the link above goes to the original.
"Four years ago, bipartisan majorities in the California Legislature approved a landmark clean energy bill. Now a coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil & gas companies & climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill it.

The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.

The law they want to kill, AB32, aims to reduce] California’s emissions of co2 and other greenhouse gases. The prospect that it could reduce gas sales strikes terror into some energy companies. Much of the $8.2 million raised to stop the law came from just two Texas-based oil and gas companies, Valero and Tesoro. The Koch brothers gave another million, partly because they worry about damage to the Koch Industries bottom line, and also because they think climate change is a left-wing hoax.

Since the law was passed, there's been an enormous increase in investments in clean energy technologies — and the jobs that go with them. Overturning it would threaten that and the effort to fight climate change, since State and regional efforts are crucially important drivers — if California pulls back, other states that are trying to reduce emissions may do so as well.

The Kochs and their allies are disastrously wrong about the science... and wrong about the economics. So AB 32’s many friends — led by Schwarzenegger and another respected Republican, Nixon and Reagan cabinet member George Shultz — have mounted a spirited counterattack to defend the law, which Shultz credits for an unprecedented outburst of technological creativity and investment.

Who wins if Prop 23 passes and our global warming law is repudiated? The Koch brothers, maybe, but the biggest winners will be the Chinese, who are already moving briskly ahead in the clean tech race. And the losers? The people of California, surely. But the biggest loser will be the planet. "
Nobel economist Paul Krugman's New York Times piece Building a Green Economy is a great intro to environmental economics and climate policy.
He sums it up saying,
"We know how to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. We have a good sense of the costs — and they’re manageable. All we need now is the political will. "
Thank you.

Feedback for Poynter's online training site NewsU

Dear NewsU folks:

Friday, September 17, 2010

NASA's Climate Q&A

For those who think the EPA's Responses to Comments (a compendium of disinformation debunkings) aren't trustworthy since the EPA is "just a bunch of bureaucrats", and for those who don't like John Cook's SkepticalScience.com or Coby Beck's "How to Talk to a Climate [pseudo]Skeptic" compendia because neither Cook nor Beck is a climate scientist, and for those who don't like the climate scientists' blog RealClimate.org since the RC folk don't put up with foolishness, there's a fifth option:

NASA's Climate Q&A, with Qs like:
  • "Are there natural processes that can amplify or limit global warming?"
  • "What if global warming isn’t as severe as predicted?"
  • "Has the Sun been more active in recent decades, and could it be responsible for some global warming?"
In an ideal world, this resource would satisfy them.

I agree with Randy Olson though, that a separate institution is needed.
("virtually EVERYONE in the evolution science world knows the NCSE, has huge respect for them, and uses them for the services they provide. There is nothing like that for the defense of climate science.")

fixed link, 2010-09-18

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Your citizen journalism project: Dialing 9-1-1 in Nevada County

It appears that the Nevada County Sheriff's office - and perhaps also the city police office(s) - may be asking 9-1-1 callers for personal information in order to run warrant checks on them.

If you dial 9-1-1 in Nevada County to report an emergency, you may be asked for your name, address and date of birth even when the emergency you're reporting has nothing to do with you. When you ask why, you may get some awkward answers - "to make sure you're you", "to distinguish between you and someone else of the same name in the same household", and the like.

From an informal survey, it seems this isn't usual, & that other locales generally don't require this additional personal information - information which may then become public, since the 9-1-1 recordings have been held to be public.
(is this private information redacted from the public record?)

On at least one occasion, a 9-1-1 dispatcher has refused to accept relevant details about an incident after the caller refused to provide their personal information. And it's not clear whether the officers have been dispatched before the dispatcher asks for this information, or whether "all the boxes must be filled in first".

I don't have the time to nail this story down - but if you'd like to do so, the "police department report" section of the video of the Jul 28, 2010 July Nevada City City Council meeting would be a good starting point. You'll also want to talk to the Sheriff's Department spokesman, and ask direct and pointed questions. Nevada City councilmembers may also be helpful.

Detail: I'm told the Nevada City incident reported in the meeting occurred during regular business hours on a weekday, though you may want to confirm this.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Is Anthony Watts any relation to PR firm Russo, Watts and Rollins?

Does anyone know if Chico climate contrarian Anthony Watts is any relation to the Doug Watts who was with Sacramento political consulting firm Russo, Watts and Rollins?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Your citizen journalism project: Nevada City street paving

I'm trying to stick to climate change, but looking into & reporting on this would make a good project for someone.

This Nevada City street was paved last year, as part of the Measure S street resurfacing. It has already developed a pothole; a revealing one.




Is the asphalt supposed to be a quarter of an inch thick? What did the bid specs say?

Was this a one-spot problem, or is it thin like this in extensive areas & on the other Measure S-paved streets?

Does anyone check the contractor's work during the project, and if so, what process is followed?

Was the contractor local, or a Sacramento-area one?

Does the problem lie with the paving contractor, or with whoever prepared the street for paving, or are they the same entity?

What recourse do we-the-city have, if this turns out not to be an isolated problem?

Pothole location: Nile, just down from Clay.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Response by KVMR's Al Stahler, host of Soundings

This is a followup to two NCFocus posts from last month:

Here is his reply:
( I've taken the liberty of adding a few links where he's referred to outside information, so you can read for yourself if you choose.)

Friday, September 03, 2010

This week: Prop. 23 - Kochs give, KVMR/Frisch/Rebane; and McKibben

Prop 23 (essentially, "Paralyze California's Global Warming Solutions Act") news:

The Kansas-based Kochs have now weighed in, as it were, with a hefty million-dollar "Yes on 23" contribution from a Koch Industries subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources. Campaign finance data here.

KVMR hosted a Prop. 23 "discussion, not a debate" with Steve Frisch and George Rebane on Wed. eve; see Jeff Pelline's "before" and "after" posts for details and discussion.
No transcript available, but you can listen to the audio recording.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Girl Who Played With Fire, Del Oro tonight, 9pm only

...or at least, that's my understanding; it doesn't show up on the Sierra Cinemas website (but it was in the Prospector).

Descriptors (hearsay): Made for TV, not as good or as intense as Dragon Tattoo; last day/time to see it.

Update: it's a good thing you missed it, since even if you'd gone, you would have missed it. It turned out the website was correct, the Prospector and office were not.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Questions for the Tea Party

Here are some Qs for your local Tea Party Patriot:
( The first two are from Michael Gerson's Why the Tea Party is toxic for the GOP )
  • Do you believe that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional?

  • Do you believe that American identity is undermined by immigration?

  • Do you believe that corporations should have the same rights as citizens?

  • (added Sept 2)
    With the kind of (smaller & less powerful) government that the Tea Party folks are trying to bring about, how would we effectively go about fighting a global economic externality like climate change?
    (...hypothetically, if human-caused climate change turned out to be real, & as (& as serious a problem as) the climate science community sees it)

Feel free to ask other questions - or, if you're a TPP, to answer some - in the comments.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Contest - Steele's "What do you know about global warming?" quiz post

Local contrarian Russ Steele has a blog post up plugging a "What do you know about global warming?" quiz.

I went through the first few questions, and there's a hole in its logic that you can drive a Prius through.

Can you spot it? First person to do so gets a free coffee (from me) at Java John's.

(to make this one easy, here's a hint)

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Kochs and the Tea Party - and the Smithsonian, and global climate destabilization

"...this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires..."
- David Axelrod
There's a wonderful deep piece on Charles and David Koch and the Kochtopus by Jane Mayer in the latest New Yorker, Covert Operations - The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.

The TPP folk do seem blind to the difference between people and corporations; I've spoken with two locals, Stan Meckler being one, and when I asked whether the "people" who needed to take back the government would include corporations, they didn't see it as an issue.
(Stan and J., if I misunderstood, please set me straight.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Acolytes of the Church of Monckton, Nevada County Chapter

Outspoken British public speaker Christopher Monckton is a world-famous colorful character who holds - and holds forth on - eccentric climate and medical science views despite no apparent formal education in either field.

Recently (Utah, Republican, Mormon, science-aligned) BYU geochemistry professor Barry Bickmore, who's been maintaining Lord Monckton’s Rap Sheet to document Monckton's rather wild views and actions, has started a companion page - The Church of Monckton - to document which institutions and national figures appear to consider Monckton a credible source nonetheless.
(This is in anticipation of future furious backtracking.)
"Lord Monckton is a living symbol of the fact that many climate change contrarians will believe anything that seems to support their case, even if it’s coming from a ridiculous crackpot."
By and large, Nevada County folk aren't national figures & so aren't eligible for inclusion on Bickmore's compendium, so this NCFocus post is for listing acolytes of our own local "Church of Monckton" chapter.

Members include two from the Sierra Environmental Studies Foundation board:
  • Russ Steele
    ("When a wiser man than thee speaks, one should listen" (link) - "Viscount Monckton of Brenchley does a superb science based review...finds Obama misinformed on the science...")
  • and George Rebane
    ("Lord Christopher Monckton gave a recent talk...in which he warns Americans about the loss of our sovereignty. The leftwing promoters of our socialist future simply ignore all this..."(link)).

Do we have any other local Monckton admirers?

Friday, August 20, 2010

This week: Science opposes reckless-endangerment "CO2 is plant food" talking point

One common talking point from the antiscience folk is that spilling more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere must be good for plants. It seems like common sense, if you're unfamiliar with ecological principles - with ecological forces & constraints, with limiting factors, with predation - and, it appears likely, with reality.

The relevant ecology, in short:
* To the extent that a warming (or destabilized) world helps those who want to eat you (or compete with you), you won't thrive. A longer growing season allows more generations of bark beetles; a warmer winter lets more of them survive until spring. The resultant population flush can have nasty consequences for forests.

* To the extent that a warming (or destabilized) world reduces other resources you need when you need them - like, say, water - you won't thrive.

And today's news on that front - "Drought-Induced Reduction in Global Terrestrial Net Primary Production from 2000 Through 2009", published (link) in Science(*) - is not reassuring:
"Global plant productivity that once was on the rise with warming temperatures and a lengthened growing season is now on the decline because of regional drought according to a new study of NASA satellite data. "
- from the NASA press release, Drought Drives Decade-Long Decline in Plant Growth
The lesson:
"Without good science you have only ideology and public relations, and the disasters those lead to."

-----
For the global climate destabilization firehose, see H.E. Taylor's Another Week of Global Warming News.

Anyone who has a child - and anyone who's not now elderly - has a stake in the future.
And they will be choosing your nursing home...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

NCTV 6pm tonight - Oreskes, Sagan, Hawking, Powell

At 6pm tonight you can treat yourself to a Stanford seminar, 45 minutes of Naomi Oreskes on the history of the global warming denial effort; then 10 minutes of Jim Powell (Exec. Dir, National Physical Science Consortium) with a quick run-through of the evidence for human-caused global warming; and finally a couple of short commentaries on the greenhouse effect by Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan.

It aired yesterday at 7am, and will be shown again next Mon and Wed at 7am.

Admittedly, these 4 airings are a far cry from the 37 times the "Global Warming or Global Governance" crockumentary appeared on NCTV a couple years back, but it's a start.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

KVMR science and the climate threat - calibration

See Aug 20 update below, on meaningful vs. misleading assertions; and Aug 24 update below it, on what sensitivity can't tell us. Also see the Soundings host's response.

KVMR's biweekly science show Soundings has been extremely light on climate coverage, and what coverage it's done has skirted the all-important question, "how serious is climate change likely to get under Business As Usual, and how should we go about deciding what actions to take and when?"

In part this is by design; since the show avoids policy, it won't address the second part of this question.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This week: First it came for Moscow, Pakistan, the Arctic... - and our response

Global climate destabilization.


Closed mouths, thin skins at CABPRO

I have questions about Nevada County's antiregulation lobbying group CABPRO; I haven't been able to get answers via phone to the CABPRO office, via phone to executive director Martin Light, or via phone to founder Kim Janousek.

So I left a comment over on Russ Steele's Aug 10 post on the CABPRO blog:
Russ, how do I get in touch with someone from CABPRO, please?

Posted by: Anna Haynes August 12, 2010 at 12:24 PM
It didn't survive moderation.