Science: Global Warming May Cause Volcanic Activity


Now we have to cut emissions to slow down plate tectonics. Good luck with that:

New research on the effects of ice sheet melt in the Antarctic shows climate change is deforming the Earth’s crust, potentially prompting volcanic activity that could cause global sea-levels to rise much more than predicted.

Scientists led by Newcastle University in the UK studied the impact of the collapse of the giant Larsen B ice shelf in 2002, using Global Positioning System (GPS) stations to gauge how the Earth’s mantle responded to the relatively sudden loss of billions of tonnes of ice as glaciers accelerated.

As expected, the bedrock rose without the weight but at a pace – as much as 5 centimetres a year in places – that was about five times the rate that could be attributed by the loss of ice mass alone, said Matt King, now at the University of Tasmania (UTAS), who oversaw the work.

“It’s like the earth in 2002 was prodded by a stick, a very big stick, and we’ve been able to watch how it responded,” Professor King said. “We see the earth as being tremendously dynamic and always changing, responding to the forces.”  

Such dynamism – involving rocks hundreds of kilometres below the surface moving “like honey” – could have implications for volcanoes in the region, Professor King said.

“It’s one of the big unknowns: If something starts to happen with one of those volcanoes, our estimates of what sea levels might be like in the future may have a significant revision”, he said, adding “fire and ice generally don’t go well together”.

“It’s a big ‘if’ – but if a volcano erupted from underneath the ice sheet, it would dramatically accelerate the ice melt and the flows into the oceans.”

The rest here.


Hollywood Hypocrisy on Global Warming


Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who both starred in James Cameron’s alarmist documentary Years of Living Dangerously, showed up in Cannes to promote their new film Expendables 3 in two tanks. Yes, gas-guzzling, planet-killing, Soviet-era tanks (well, armored personnel carriers of some sort):

The Croisette is not the easiest street to negotiate during the Cannes film festival. The traffic crawls crossly between the long strip of grand hotels and the prom with beach beyond. Officials cordon off stretches for long periods, tourists hub around hotel doors in the hope of seeing a star, irate journalists and film-makers jostle and shove. Scooters, motorbikes, pedalos and segways add to the melee. Protesters, musicians, mime artists and a small motorised train don’t help.

So it was a measure of the affection that The Expendables cast are held in that when they rode slowly down the Croisette on two massive Soviet-era tanks, completely clogging the thoroughfare, festival-goers simply cheered them on and took out their smartphones to take a photo.

The stunt contributed to the estimated $2m bill for this weekend’s promotional push, and formed the filling in a day which began with a promo of clips from the movie, and concluded with a star-studded press conference at the Carlton hotel.

Some photos of the stunt:

And here you can see the second one in the background:

They just don’t get how hypocritical they are, do they? 




John Kerry Urges Boston College Graduates to Fight Global Warming


From the AP:

He also urged B.C.’s approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students to take part in the struggle against global warming.

“If we do nothing and it turns out the critics and the naysayers and the members of the Flat Earth Society, if it turns out that they’re wrong, it turns out we are risking nothing less than the future of our entire planet,” said Kerry, who spent a significant part of his 28 years as a U.S. Senator of Massachusetts fighting for clean energy.

He added that global warming could lead to food insecurity through longer droughts and more powerful storms, which hurt the poorest of the world’s population the most, something he witnessed firsthand while visiting the Philippines after last year’s typhoon.

“The solution,” he said, “is staring us in the face: the right energy policy,” he said.

And from Reuters:

“Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent. Why? Because if crops can’t grow, there will be food insecurity. If there are stronger more powerful storms, things will change in a hurry,” Kerry said at Boston College, where he received his law degree in 1976.

“Climate change is directly related to the potential of greater conflict and greater instability. I’m telling you that there are people in parts of the world, in Africa, today, they fight each other over water. They kill each other.”

Yes, there are conflicts over water in Africa, but it’s Kerry who’s in the Flat Earth Society if he truly believes that America’s energy policies are going to do anything to fix what’s going wrong in Africa.

What We’re Reading


James Taranto, WSJ: The case for skepticism about climate scientists.

Irwin Stelzer, The Weekly Standard: Let’s tax carbon.

Bloomberg Businessweek: China targets 70 gigawatts of solar power to cut coal reliance.

David Rose, reporter for the Daily Mail and Vanity FairWith Modi’s landslide victory in India, you can kiss a world [greenhouse gas] treaty in Paris 2015 goodbye. His government has one priority: growth.

Marc Morano, Climate DepotScientists in cover-up of research casting doubt on ‘global warming’ because it was ‘less than helpful’ to their cause.

Claire Carter, Telegraph U.K.: Global warming research suppressed due to intolerance of scepticism, claims scientist

Puneet Kollipara, Washington PostWhy society is failing to stop global warming, in one 90-second video.


Oops: Gov. Brown Issues a Correction on Global Warming and LAX Airport


As Anthony Watts pointed out hours after Brown made this ludicrous statement, Los Angeles International airport is not at risk of flooding from global warming. Not now, not in the near future, and not in the next few thousand years. Via the Los Angeles Times:

An  aide to Jerry Brown confirmed Wednesday that the governor was wrong when he said global warming would eventually cause rising seawater to inundate Los Angeles International Airport.

Citing new studies, Brown called attention to the global warming issue on Tuesday, saying a predicted 4-foot rise in sea level within the next 200 years could force the relocation of LAX at a cost of billions of dollars.

But various sources say that the nation’s third-busiest airport — bordered by the Pacific Ocean — has elevations ranging from 108 feet to 126 feet and is protected by higher coastal bluffs on the west side.

“The governor misspoke about LAX,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the Brown administration.

Environmental officials for Los Angeles World Airports, the operator of LAX, said the airport has an elevation of more than 120 feet. “A 4-foot rise in sea level,” they said, “should have minimal impact on airport operations.”

In addition, a recent study by USC’s Sea Grant Program did not identify LAX as one of the coastal areas in Los Angeles threatened by sea level rise.

Airport officials said, however, that any organization with coastal structures should be concerned about the potential adverse impact of climate change. They added that the airport department is part of a citywide effort to explore and plan ways to cope with predicted increases in sea level.

The rest here.

And here’s Watts on his uncredited role in getting the governor and the Los Angeles Times to correct the record. 




Columbia University Won’t Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies


Columbia Spectator:

The Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing announced on Wednesday that it voted not to support Barnard Columbia Divest’s proposal to divest from fossil fuel companies because the proposal did not meet the ACSRI’s criteria for divestment. 

The ACSRI said in its response to BCD that the decision was specifically in response to the Barnard Columbia Divest proposal, and not a general recommendation on fossil fuel divestment. The response also said that the ACSRI will establish a subcommittee to study student proposals for divestment and “pursue the optimal engagement model for the university.”

The response noted, however, that Columbia currently does not own stocks of any top-200 company in its directly managed portfolio. While Columbia does hold stocks of oil or gas companies that were donated or selected by donors, such securities are not controlled by the University’s Investment Management Company, which the ACSRI advises.

BCD proposed in November that the ACSRI recommend to trustees divestment from the top 200 publicly traded coal, oil, and gas companies, the imposition of a freeze on new fossil fuel investments, and divestment from all direct holdings and commingled funds within five years.

In the response, the ACSRI said that the BCD proposal did not meet the three basic criteria of the divestment being “a broad consensus within the University community regarding the issue at hand,” having merits of the dispute lying clearly on one side, and being “more viable and appropriate than ongoing communication and engagement with company management.”

Beware the Climate-Military-Industrial Complex


Next from John Kerry and the White House, global warming is a “national security threat.” Via the New York Times:

Climate Change Deemed Growing Security Threat by Military Researchers

The accelerating rate of climate change poses a severe risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global political conflict, a report published Tuesday by a leading government-funded military research organization concluded.

The CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees.

In addition, the report predicted that an increase in catastrophic weather events around the world will create more demand for American troops, even as flooding and extreme weather events at home could damage naval ports and military bases.

In an interview, Secretary of State John Kerry signaled that the report’s findings would influence American foreign policy.

“Tribes are killing each other over water today,” Mr. Kerry said. “Think of what happens if you have massive dislocation, or the drying up of the waters of the Nile, of the major rivers in China and India. The intelligence community takes it seriously, and it’s translated into action.”

Mr. Kerry, who plans to deliver a major speech this summer on the links between climate change and national security, said his remarks would also be aimed at building political support for President Obama’s climate change agenda, including a new regulation to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants that the administration will introduce in June.

“We’re going to try to lay out to people legitimate options for action that are not bank-breaking or negative,” Mr. Kerry said.

Pentagon officials said the report would affect military policy. “The department certainly agrees that climate change is having an impact on national security, whether by increasing global instability, by opening the Arctic or by increasing sea level and storm surge near our coastal installations,” John Conger, the Pentagon’s deputy under secretary of defense for installations and environment, said in a statement. “We are actively integrating climate considerations across the full spectrum of our activities to ensure a ready and resilient force.”

The rest from the Times here.

I’ve read the CNA report and, personally, don’t get what all the fuss is about.

For example, here’s the hype from the very first paragraph of the report:

To the reader:

The nature and pace of observed climate changes—and an emerging scientific consensus on their projected consequences—pose severe risks for our national security. During our decades of experience in the U.S. military, we have addressed many national security challenges, from containment and deterrence of the Soviet nuclear threat during the Cold War to political extremism and transnational terrorism
in recent years. The national security risks of projected climate change are as serious as any challenges we have faced.

But here are the recommendations:

1. To lower our national security risks, the United States should take a global leadership role in preparing for the projected impacts of climate change.

2. Supported by National Intelligence Estimates, the U.S. military’s Combatant Commanders (CCMDs) should factor in the impacts of projected climate change across their full spectrum of planning
and operations.

3. The United States should accelerate and consolidate its efforts to prepare for increased access and military operations in the Arctic.

4. Climate adaptation planning should consider the water-food-energy nexus to ensure comprehensive decision making.

5. The projected impacts of climate change should be integrated fully into the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and the Strategic National Risk Assessment.

6. In addition to DOD’s conducting comprehensive assessments of the impacts of climate change on mission and operational resilience, the Department should develop, fund, and implement plans to adapt, including developing metrics for measuring climate impacts and resilience. The Department should place a greater emphasis on the projected impacts of climate change on both DOD facilities and associated community infrastructures.

That’s it? The retired officers behind this report are comparing global warming to the Cold War and terrorism, and these are the recommendations? 

This report is being sold as some sort of action plan to win the war on global warming, but it’s not even close. It’s just another political document designed to help Secretary Kerry and the president sell their energy policies. Good luck with that. 




Cancel the Alarm Over the ‘Collapse’ of Antarctica’s Ice Sheets


And the alarm has been canceled by Andrew Revkin of the NYT, no less:

Consider Clashing Scientific and Societal Meanings of ‘Collapse’ When Reading Antarctic Ice News

For decades, the inevitability of many feet, even yards, of sea-level rise in a warming climate has been crystal clear. But society’s response, both in stemming heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to eroding coastlines, will always be more a function of the rate of change than the ultimate outcome.

That’s why it’s important to get beyond headlines — including the titles of papers — in considering new research pointing to the inevitable “collapse” of ice sheets in West Antarctica. To the public, collapse is a term applied to a heart attack victim on a street corner or a building stricken by an earthquake or bomb. To a glaciologist, it describes the transition to unavoidable loss of an ice sheet — a process that can take centuries to get into gear, and millenniums to complete.

[Insert, May 14, 6:45 a.m. | I encourage you to read two superb explanatory posts by Antarctic post-doctoral researcher Bethan Davies describing the research and glaciologists' use of "collapse."]

News articles by The TimesTime, the Associated Press and others capture the basics in two new papers, one on six West Antarctic glaciers that appear to have nothing holding back eventual disappearance, accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, and the other taking a closer look at one of those ice masses, the Thwaites Glacier, posted online today by the journal Science.

Some headlines are completely overwrought — as with this NBC offering: “West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s Collapse Triggers Sea Level Warning.” This kind of coverage could be interpreted to mean there’s an imminent crisis. It’s hard to justify that conclusion given the core findings in the studies. (Am I trying to maintain a hold on reality or am I a “scold”?)

The rest here.

Ben Affleck’s Batman Drives a Hybrid?


Via Naked DC:

Yesterday director Zack Snyder tweeted the above teaser picture of the next Batmobile, and later revealed a more complete look of Bat’s new ride from what looks like a movie still. Far from the military-styling of Christian Bale’s Batmobile, Affleck’s ride look lower, sleeker, and more, dare I say, comic book-y? Looks aside, more interesting is word that the functional movie prop might shun the traditional V8 engine of Batmobiles past in favor of a gas-electric hybrid setup, according to Jalopnik’s unnamed sources.

A functional Batmobile is necessary for filming, and Batmobiles of the past often went with the tried-and-true small-block Chevy V8, even though some of them were supposedly turbine-powered. A few private a Batmobile concepts have gone even further, embracing clean-burning hydrogen fuel cells.

If there’s some reason that a hybrid would make sense on the movie set, then that makes sense. A zero-emission electric vehicle, for example, would be ideal for shooting scenes in an enclosed space. But if it’s just a nod to Affleck’s environmentalism, then what a waste of money for absolutely no environmental benefit.

Al Gore: Kochs Are Behind GOP Climate Denialism


Via the HuffPo:

Speaking at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics on Monday, Gore noted that Republicans like John McCain and Mitt Romney had acknowledged and taken steps toward solving the issue before it became politicized by the right.

“I don’t think it’s particularly complicated why they have all cowed into abandoning that position,” Gore said. “They will face primary opponents financed by the Koch Brothers, and others who are part of their group, if they even breathe the slightest breath of sympathy for the truth about climate science. It’s not really that complicated.”

Gore continued: “And of course, Sen. Paul is from a coal state, but even if he were not, anyone who wants to set his or her aspirations on the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2016 already knows that they can’t possibly cross the Koch brothers and the others that are part of that group, the large carbon polluters and ideological anti-statists who are really terrified that the government will do anything new, so as Grover Norquist said famously years ago, they want to shrink the government to where it can be drowned in a bathtub.”


The Alarmists Love John Oliver’s Take on Global Warming


Much to the delight of the alarmist community, John Oliver brought media-darling Bill Nye to his HBO show on Sunday to illustrate what a cable-news debate on global warming would look like if it were based on the much cited 97-percent consensus that humans are contributing to global warming. Oliver comically had 97 people on one side of his desk arguing that humans are warming the planet with three people on the other side denying a link. 

The HuffPo declared that Oliver and Nye schooled the skeptics. Salon called it a “brilliant take down.” Talking Points Memo saw it as a “real” climate debate. Mother Jones wrote the segment showed why cable-news debates on global warming were “ridiculous.” 

The problem is, however, Oliver based the entire bit on a misrepresentation.

The segment started with Oliver asking why it’s still an “uphill climb” to get Americans to believe in the science of global warming. After showing a clip of MSNBC’s Alex Witt discussing this Gallup poll with the headline, “One in Four in U.S. Are Solidly Skeptical of Global Warming,” Oliver had this to say:

Who gives a s***. That doesn’t matter. You don’t need peoples’ opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll on which number is bigger, fifteen or five? Or do owls exist?

This makes for a funny line, but it’s not what Gallup polled. Oliver’s monologue made it seem that Gallup was asking about a belief in the science.

Here’s what viewers saw:

But Gallup actually asked how worried people were about global warming:

Asking how worried a person is about global warming is a much different question than asking if a person believes the science. This is an important distinction as there is a segment of the population that trusts science, but doesn’t agree on the threat. 

Now back to Oliver’s original question on why the alarmists face an “uphill climb.” The Gallup poll he cited answers it for him, but the missed it.

Here’s why: Gallup asked if  ”Global warming will pose a serious threat in your lifetime?”

Now let’s do some math. Gallup found of the ”Core Believers,” the 39-percent of Americans who “attribute global warming to human activities and are worried about it,” only 65-percent of that group think global warming will “pose a serious threat” in the near term. 

That equals about 25-percent of Americans who think we need to do something about global warming right away. 

I won’t go as far as saying that only 25 percent of respondents thought global warming was caused by man, worried about it, and were worried about it in the near term is as fact as incontrovertible as the existence of owls, but it’s a very good explanation of why the alarmists have an “uphill climb.” 

As far as switching the debate — as Oliver, Nye, and the rest of the alarmist community suggest — to one of “what to do about global warming,” I’m all for it. But they won’t like that debate very much either as Americans just don’t believe — even Americans who trust the science — that global warming is an imminent threat. 





Robert Samuelson: There’s No Solution For Climate Change Yet


This is a great column and an honest take on global warming by Samuelson in today’s Washington Post:

It would be healthy — in the sense of promoting honesty — if every report warning of global warming and climate change (the two terms are interchangeable) came with the following disclaimer:

Despite our belief that global warming poses catastrophic threats to many of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants, we acknowledge that we now lack the technologies to stop it. The purpose of our analysis and policy proposals is to create the political and economic conditions that foster the needed technologies. But there is no assurance that this will happen, and much time and money may be invested in futile and wasteful efforts.

I am not optimistic. Our climate-change debates confuse more than they clarify. They follow a ritualistic script that is now playing out again.

First came a downbeat report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international group of scientists set up by the United Nations. It found that global temperatures have warmed for decades, that man-made emissions are the main cause (atmospheric concentrations are said to be the highest in 800,000 years) and that the effects include rising sea levels, melting ice formations and more heat waves.

Next arrived the U.S. National Climate Assessment, a study by 300 U.S. experts that’s more alarming than the IPCC report. It begins: “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.” Americans already suffer from global warming. Floods are more frequent; wildfires are harder to control; rainstorms are more violent.

Naturally, climate skeptics (a.k.a. “deniers”) denounced the reports. The evidence was exaggerated, cherry-picked or both, said Paul Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Consider, they said, a contrasting study headed by a Harvard researcher. It found that heat-related deaths in 105 U.S. cities had declined since the late 1980s.

The rhetorical ping-pong — claim vs. counterclaim — suggests a struggle for public opinion. Not really. Right or wrong, the public already believes in global warming. A 2013 Pew poll found that 67 percent of Americans see “solid evidence” that the Earth is warming. Though that’s down from 77 percent in 2006, the margin is still large. Democrats are stronger believers than Republicans, but mainly because tea party support is low.

It’s useful for environmental groups to have global warming “deniers” (and, of course, behind them the sinister oil companies) as foils. The subliminal message is that once the views of these Neanderthals are swept away, we can adopt sensible policies to “do something” about global warming.

The reality is otherwise. The central truth for public policy is: We have no solution.

The rest here.

Porn-Watching EPA Employee Not Fired


The EPA in action: 

How much porn does it take to get fired at EPA?

As a U.S. House committee looked at allegations that a special homeland security unit within the Environmental Protection Agency was blocking investigations by the EPA’s Inspector General, lawmakers also veered into other internal probes at that agency, demanding to know why it is so difficult to get rid of federal workers involved in on-the-job misconduct.

“When we have an employee who is looking at over 600 porn sites in a four day period – and it’s there in black and white – fire them!” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

At the hearing, investigators detailed for lawmakers how a six figure EPA employee had admitted watching large amounts of porn on the job; he remains on the payroll, but his case has been referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.

“So this guy is making $125,000, spending two to six hours a day looking at porno,” said Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who was told by officials that the worker had been given performance awards – despite one time spending four straight hours on a website called, “Sadism is Beautiful.”

“How much pornography would it take for an EPA employee to lose their job?” asked a frustrated Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).

There was no concrete response from officials, given the lengthy process that it takes for the federal government to “separate” an employee from the civil service.

The rest here.

Stanford to Divest Endowment of Coal Companies


There’s a growing movement to get universities to divest from fossil-fuel companies, and although Stanford is not the first to do so, it is the biggest name so far. Via the Stanford Report:

Acting on a recommendation of Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing, the Board of Trustees announced that Stanford will not make direct investments in coal mining companies. The move reflects the availability of alternate energy sources with lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

Stanford University will not make direct investments of endowment funds in publicly traded companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy generation, the Stanford Board of Trustees decided today.

In taking the action, the trustees endorsed the recommendation of the university’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing (APIRL). This panel, which includes representatives of students, faculty, staff and alumni, conducted an extensive review over the last several months of the social and environmental implications of investment in fossil fuel companies.

Stanford, however, is divesting only from coal companies and not from the entire fossil-fuel industry. Why? Because they don’t see “green energy” as a viable solution yet:

In its review, the APIRL acknowledged the findings of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change regarding the role of fossil fuels in contributing to changes in the global climate system. The APIRL also noted that the use of coal for electricity production generates higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy generated than other fossil fuels, such as natural gas, and that alternatives to coal are sufficiently available.

Replacing other fossil fuels with renewable energy sources also is a desirable goal, the APIRL said, but fewer alternatives are readily available for these other energy sources on the massive scale that will be required to replace them broadly in the global economy.

In effect, Stanford is admitting the importance of fossil fuels while making a wholly symbolic move to divest from coal. Environmentalists shouldn’t cheer this move, but weep over it. As David Harsanyi notes today, and this move by Stanford confirms: ”The climate debate is over, and the environmentalists lost.”

Harvard was petitioned last year to make a similar move with their endowment, and rejected any sort of divestment from any energy company. Here’s the explanation of that decision by Harvard’s president, Drew Faust. Some excerpts:

Climate change represents one of the world’s most consequential challenges.  I very much respect the concern and commitment shown by the many members of our community who are working to confront this problem.  I, as well as members of our Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, have benefited from a number of conversations in recent months with students who advocate divestment from fossil fuel companies.  While I share their belief in the importance of addressing climate change, I do not believe, nor do my colleagues on the Corporation, that university divestment from the fossil fuel industry is warranted or wise.

And. . .

Because I am deeply concerned about climate change, I also feel compelled to ask whether a focus on divestment does not in fact distract us from more effective measures, better aligned with our institutional capacities.  Universities own a very small fraction of the market capitalization of fossil fuel companies.  If we and others were to sell our shares, those shares would no doubt find other willing buyers.  Divestment is likely to have negligible financial impact on the affected companies.  And such a strategy would diminish the influence or voice we might have with this industry.  Divestment pits concerned citizens and institutions against companies that have enormous capacity and responsibility to promote progress toward a more sustainable future. 

I also find a troubling inconsistency in the notion that, as an investor, we should boycott a whole class of companies at the same time that, as individuals and as a community, we are extensively relying on those companies’ products and services for so much of what we do every day.  Given our pervasive dependence on these companies for the energy to heat and light our buildings, to fuel our transportation, and to run our computers and appliances, it is hard for me to reconcile that reliance with a refusal to countenance any relationship with these companies through our investments.

Good for Harvard.

Stanford (kinda, sorta) avoided the hypocrisy argument by limiting its divestment to coal as California only gets 1 percent of electricity from coal compared with 12 percent in Massachusetts. But California and Massachusetts are remarkably similar — 59 percent and 63 percent, respectively — in regard to electricity from natural gas.

Of note, Stanford did not divest from any companies involved with fracking.

Maybe because one of its top academics, Dr. Mark Zoback, in an often-quoted expert on fracking who is a vocal, dedicated supporter of a “decarbonized energy future,” but sees fracking as necessary to accomplish this. For example, Zoback gave this interview to the Los Angeles Times

California is considering a moratorium on fracking.

I’m usually against such moratoriums. Many people believe that everything we do to impede oil and gas development will be a step toward a decarbonized energy future. I’m very committed to a decarbonized energy future, but you have to recognize our dependence on hydrocarbons.

We need a well-thought-out energy policy that allows a transition to a decarbonized energy future, that respects the need for economic growth not only in this country but around the world. We have to double the size of the energy system [and yet] reduce its impact on the environment; we have to respect national security.

That’s very daunting, and moratoria just say this is bad, let’s stop doing it. Moratoria tend to make a political statement, but I’m not sure we need political statements. We need good science, good engineering, good regulations and good enforcement.

And Zoback is the go-to guy to debunk alarmist claims that fracking causes earthquakes.

Fracking-related earthquakes were reported in Oklahoma, and Ohio now requires seismic monitoring. Does fracking cause earthquakes?

There have been well-documented cases around the country where wastewater injection [post-fracking] has triggered slip on preexisting geologic faults that would have produced an earthquake someday anyway. You need to avoid injection into potentially active faults. Pretty straightforward, but if you don’t think about this ahead of time, you won’t do it. There have been a handful of cases, mostly in northernmost British Columbia, where hydraulic fracking itself has triggered earthquakes. It does the oil and gas industry no benefit to pressurize a preexisting fault.

We can manage this risk. I don’t want to minimize the potential for things to go wrong, but you need [to] see what’s being proposed and draw a conclusion about what’s safe and what isn’t. In our Deepwater Horizon report, we refer to an engineering [risk] principle, ALARP, “as low as reasonably possible.” The fear of fracking is being used as a scare tactic. There are environmental impacts, and our job is to do everything possible to minimize them, not just scare the public.

It’s hard to argue that Stanford should acquiesce to alarmism and punish the entire fossil-fuel industry when the settled science generated at Stanford sees the fossil-fuel industry, including fracking, as necessary to acheive a reduction in world-wide carbon emissions. 



WaPost’s ‘Capital Weather Gang’ vs. the National Climate Assessment


The Washington Post’s weather blog points out some issues with the National Climate Assessment released today. An excerpt:

Yet, one could argue the report – in a few places – goes too far in attempting to stay-on message by glossing over some of the thornier issues in climate science and not sufficiently qualifying projections.

For example, the highlights report says: “…data records have grown longer and climate models have become more comprehensive, earlier predictions have largely been confirmed. The only real surprises have been that some changes, such as sea level rise and Arctic sea ice decline, have outpaced earlier projections.”

Legitimate climate scientists, who have published in the peer reviewed literature, could easily nit pick this sweeping statement. Countering the assertion “earlier predictions have largely been confirmed”, an August 2013 paper in Nature Climate Change concluded that computer models simulated over four times as much warming compared to reality since 1998 (note: the report does discuss the reason for this, i.e. a short-term slowdown in surface warming, in its “science supplement.”). And while the decline in Arctic sea ice has occurred faster than model projections, Antarctic sea ice has actually increased (for complicated reasons, which don’t refute global warming) while many models predicted the opposite.

Just as the report’s discussion of the success of past predictions could be better qualified or more complete, so could some of its predictions about the future.

For example, the chapter on the Northeast predicts a 60-day per year increase in the number of 90 degree or warmer days by mid-century in the northern Mid-Atlantic region. In Washington, D.C., for example, that would imply the current average of 36 90+ degree days would increase to 90 – or the equivalent of the entirety of June, July, and August.

[. . .]

While the number of 90+ degree days have trended upward in D.C. over time, a rather remarkable acceleration in the long-term trend would be required for this projection to become reality.

Oversimplified statements and projections that seem over the top can do damage to an otherwise outstanding body of work – which is beautifully and innovatively presented.  Over 300 excellent scientists contributed to this report.

So don’t let a few alarmist apples spoil the bunch?

The whole post here.

My Favorite Part of the ‘National Climate Assessment’ So Far


This is from page 9 of the section called “Overview and Report Findings.”

If we don’t cut emissions from fossil-fuels, our fossil-fuel industry will be negatively affected:

Or, in other words, we need to switch to higher cost alternative energy to replace oil and gas production in order to save oil and gas production from rising sea levels.



White House Releases New ‘National Climate Assessment’


Or it’s the script for a reboot of Mad Max. I’m not sure which. CNN has a summary of the report:

Flooded rail lines. Bigger, more frequent droughts. A rash of wildfires.

Those are some of the alarming predictions in a White House climate change report released Tuesday, part of President Barack Obama’s broader second-term effort to help the nation prepare for the effects of higher temperatures, rising sea levels and more erratic weather.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the National Climate Assessment says, adding that the evidence of man-made climate change “continues to strengthen” and that “impacts are increasing across the country.”

“Americans are noticing changes all around them,” the report says, echoing a draft version from last year. “Summers are longer and hotter. … Rain comes in heavier downpours.”

In a statement released to coincide with the report’s publication, the White House called for a rapid response.

“The findings in this National Climate Assessment underscore the need for urgent action to combat the threats from climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids,” the White House said.

You can download the almost 1,000-page document here.




Think Progress Warns of Sea Level Rise 2000 Years from Today. Again.


You can’t criticize Think Progress for not recycling. Here’s some familiar-sounding alarmism:

East Antarctic Melting Could Raise Sea Levels By 10 To 13 Feet, Study Finds

A region of East Antarctica is more vulnerable than previously thought to a massive thaw that could result in world sea levels rising for thousands of years, a study found Sunday.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked at the 600-mile Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica, which, if it melted, has enough ice to raise sea levels by 10 to 13 feet. Researchers found that the region was vulnerable to melting because it’s held in place by a small “ice plug” that may melt over the next few centuries, meaning East Antarctica could “become a large contributor to future sea-level rise on timescales beyond a century,” according to the article.

“East Antarctica’s Wilkes Basin is like a bottle on a slant. Once uncorked, it empties out,” Matthias Mengel, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

Which is a lot like this from March:

Sea Level Rise Threatens The Statue Of Liberty And Hundreds Of Other Cultural Heritage Sites

Almost 200 cultural heritage sites, including the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House, could be compromised if global warming reaches 3 degrees above pre-industrial levels, a new report in Environmental Research Letters shows.

The research released Tuesday from Austria and Germany used both sea-level estimates for the next 2000 years and high-resolution topography data to compute which of the more than 700 listed UNESCO World Heritage sites would be affected by sea-level rise at different levels of sustained future warming. The report found that if warming reaches 3 degrees Celsius, sea level would rise six feet in the next 2,000 years, and 170 of those sites would be drowned.

Oh, and by the way, we’ll probably be more worried about an ice age 2,000 years from now than Antarctica’s melting ice. Via MIT’s Technology Review:

But even that warming will not stave off the eventual return of huge glaciers, because ice ages last for millennia and fossil fuels will not.In about 300 years, all available fossil fuels may well have been consumed.Over the following centuries, excess carbon dioxide will naturally dissolve into the oceans or get trapped by the formation of carbonate minerals. Such processes won’t be offset by the industrial emissions we see today, and atmospheric carbon dioxide will slowly decline toward preindustrial levels. In about 2,000 years, when the types of planetary motions that can induce polar cooling start to coincide again, the current warming trend will be a distant memory.

I guess in 2,000 years, after humans have moved to Mars to avoid the ice age, Think Progress will bitch about how anthropogenic factors are messing up the terraformed atmosphere.

Global Warming Renamed Again: Now It’s ‘Global Climate Disruption’


President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren, thinks we should change the name of “climate change,” which was formerly known as “global warming,” to ”global climate disruption.” Via ScienceInsider:

First there was “global warming.” Then many researchers suggested “climate change” was a better term. Now, White House science adviser John Holdren is renewing his call for a new nomenclature to describe the end result of dumping vast quantities of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into Earth’s atmosphere: “global climate disruption.”

“I’ve always thought that the phrase ‘global warming’ was something of a misnomer because it suggests that the phenomenon is something that is uniform around the world, that it’s all about temperature, and that it’s gradual,” Holdren said yesterday at the annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy in Washington, D.C. (AAAS publishes ScienceInsider.) “What could be wrong with that?”

Instead, he said, “we should call it ‘global climate disruption.’ Although the rising average global surface temperature is an indicator of the degree of disruption that we have imposed on the global climate system, what’s actually happening involves changes in circulation patterns, changes in precipitation patterns, and changes in extremes. And those are very different in different places.”

Holdren has made similar calls before, apparently with limited effect on the public’s vocabulary. This time, the remarks came in the context of a brief preview Holdren gave of a new climate report that the Obama administration is scheduled to release next week. The document will, in part, spell out the potential disruptions the United States faces as a result of a changing climate, perhaps giving Holdren’s idea some currency.

Why not just defend “global warming?” In Holdren’s own definition of “global climate disruption” above, he cites “rising average global surface temperature.” Um, that’s called “global warming.” And the reason for the name change isn’t to clear up any “misnomers,” it’s an attempt to find language that will finally convince voters that the president’s environmental policies should be enacted. 

Well, to quote President Obama from 2008, “You know, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

Environmental loons can call warming hysteria and its associated apocalyptic predictions whatever they want. But it’s still a pig. 

Senator Schumer: Dems Support Fracking


But notice how he won’t criticize Gov. Cuomo over delays to bring fracking to New York state. Hat tip Energy in Depth:

I guess Senator Schumer spoke just a little too soon. A big win for the anti-fracking side in Colorado, led by Democratic Rep. Jared Polis:

Democrats fail to reach fracking deal

Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives announced Monday they had failed to reach a deal to give local government more control over fracking.

The effort, which was spearheaded by Re. Su Ryden (D-Aurora) would have taken some steam out of the issue in this year’s elections.

A statewide-ballot question to allow local governments to ban fracking is being promoted (and funded in large part) by congressman Jared Polis (D-Colorado.)

The idea was to strike a deal to avoid the ballot question.

Politco warned two weeks ago that Rep. Polis’s anti-fracking ballot measure could “break Colorado Democrats.” Failure to reach a deal today make’s Politco’s warning that much more likely. 



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