Sunday, January 17, 2010

Laugh and be Merry!

It's a dismal, cold drizzling afternoon, which means it's time to look on the bright side, to the extent possible. Now that the days are getting just a little longer, my chickens have started laying eggs again! And here come some funnies, the first speaks for itself:

Next is an exchange from a thread at the Environmental Defense Fund. This delights me for a number of reasons, not least because after my last comment when I looked up David Wojick Ph.D., I discovered he is a long-time professional denier with deep financial ties to energy industries, which makes my reference to tobacco whores utterly hysterically (if somewhat inadvertently) on point.

Comment from
David Wojick Ph.D.
January 16th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Part of the problem is that skeptics and warmers look at the same evidence and see different things, just like a hung jury. I am reminded of a scene in “Patterns of Discovery” by Norwood Russell Hanson, which has Tycho Brahe and Copernicus sitting on a hill watching the sunrise. Tycho sees the sun moving but Copernicus sees the earth moving. The data is the same for both, but each interprets it differently, based on their theoretical beliefs.

For example, the surface temperature record for the last 70 years shows a 20 year period of warming, from roughly 1978 to 1998. For the remaining 50 years the temperature is steady to cooling, both before and after this period of warming. CO2 levels rise steadily during the entire 70 year period. That is the data.

Skeptics see little evidence for CO2 induced warming in this record. Warmers have responded by constructing elaborate computer models, to try to show why the warming that should have occurred as CO2 levels rose, was masked by other factors. Skeptics are skeptical of these models, especially since they disagree with one another. Some of the models project extreme warming in the future, which skeptics see as a weakness in the models and warmers see as a warning. And so it goes.

The point is that this is not a failure of communication; rather it is a difference of opinion. Rational people of good will can look at the same evidence and come to opposing views. Warmers and skeptics know the science equally well; they just see it differently.

Comment from Gail January 16th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

David Wojick, that is just demonstrably false, it is not a difference of opinion – the science is clear that we have been warming since 1998. Here is just one graph among so many other debunkings of that tired canard.

Comment from David Wojick Ph.D. January 17th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Gail, the graph you reference shows 5 year and 11 year running means. Both mask recent trends, especially the 11 year mean, which takes a long time to respond. The 5 year mean is already showing the non-warming that began after the 1998-2000 ENSO cycle; note the hook on the end. Note too that the GISS estimate is the hottest of the three surface measures. The other two estimates, as well as the satellite readings, show no warming after the 1998-2000 cycle. Temperatures are clearly steady, not rising.

It gets even more interesting if one argues that these surface temperature estimates are inferior to the satellite readings. The surface estimate is based on a large number of poorly maintained stations, with sparse, unrepresentative global coverage. What is interesting is that the only warming in the satellite record is a step-up during the ENSO cycle. That is, temperatures are steady from 1978-1997, and steady again after 2000, but at a higher level. Looked at this way, the only warming in the last 70 years occurred during the 1998-2000 ENSO cycle. There is then no evidence whatever of GHG warming.

You may not accept the skeptics' arguments, but they are very real. The evidence cuts both ways, depending on how you look at it.

Comment from Gail January 17th, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Wrong, David. That's about as sophisticated as claiming the evidence cuts both ways on the theories of gravity, plate tectonics, or evolution.

Try this one on for size:

Furthermore, lets just look at this without considering skeptics arguments or physics or chemistry. Let's just look at it from the point of view of people who are not scientists – cause I'm not, and you're not, either, right?

So what should we do? Probably, listen to what the experts are saying. If a neurosurgeon told you that you had a tumor in your brain that had to be removed, would you keep shopping around for opinions until you found some chiropractor who was going to treat your chronic dizziness with homeopathic remedies? Oops I didn't think so.

So, in the case of diagnosing what is wrong with the planet, I think we should listen to the people who know something about it, don't you? And what do they tell us?

Simply put, ALL major science organizations and academies agree that humans are causing global warming that will lead to an uninhabitable climate if we don't stop pouring fuel emissions into the atmosphere, and soon. See this letter to the US Senate, endorsed by the following:

American Association for the Advancement of Science American Chemical Society American Geophysical Union American Institute of Biological Sciences American Meteorological Society American Society of Agronomy American Society of Plant Biologists American Statistical Association Association of Ecosystem Research Centers Botanical Society of America Crop Science Society of America Ecological Society of America Natural Science Collections Alliance Organization of Biological Field Stations Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Society of Systematic Biologists Soil Science Society of America University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

here’s the link to the letter:

which says, among other things:

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.”


“For the United States, climate change impacts include sea level rise for coastal states, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, urban heat waves, western wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems throughout the country. The severity of climate change impacts is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades.”


“If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced.”

And that is just a list of organizations from the US. Every international scientific group also endorses reducing emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change.

It's comparable to the situation where every reputable medical authority advises that smoking is dangerous to your health, and a few corrupt charlatans, funded by the tobacco industry, testified that the link is too uncertain for government regulation, thus sowing confusion amongst the pubic and legislators, delaying action and causing untold illness and death. But of course that didn't happen, did it? Oh, wait…

Now, can you come up with a list of scientific organizations that claim the jury is out on climate change? How about ONE? And the US Chamber of Commerce doesn't count…

I thought not.

Okay agree, wasn't that just delish!? And lastly on our humor roster today, is an email forwarded to me from the ever vigilant R.Pauli, which originated with the California Parks Dept. It's rather astonishing, if true, and is followed by a marvelous graph. Here goes:

> >Currently, the strong El Nino is reaching its peak in the Eastern
Pacific, and now finally appears to be exerting an influence on our
weather. The strong jet has been apparent for quite some time out over
the open water, but the persistent block had prevented it from reaching
the coast. Now that the block has dissolved completely, a 200+ kt [this
means approximately 230 miles per hour] jet is barreling towards us.
Multiple large and powerful storm systems are expected to slam into CA
from the west and northwest over the coming two weeks, all riding this
extremely powerful jet stream directly into the state.
> >
> >The jet will itself provide tremendous dynamic lift, in addition to
directing numerous disturbances right at the state and supplying them
with an ample oceanic moisture source. The jet will be at quite a low
latitude over much of the Pacific, so these storms will be quite cold,
at least initially. Very heavy rainfall and strong to potentially very
strong winds will impact the lower elevations beginning late Sunday and
continuing through at least the following Sunday.. This will be the case
for the entire state, from (and south of) the Mexican border all the way
up to Oregon. Above 3000-4000 feet, precipitation will be all snow, and
since temperatures will be unusually cold for a precipitation event of
this magnitude, a truly prodigious amount of snowfall is likely to occur
in the mountains, possibly measured in the tens of feet in the Sierra
after it’s all said and done.
> >
> >But there’s a big and rather threatening caveat to that (discussed
below).Individual storm events are going to be hard to time for at least
few more days, since this jet is just about as powerful as they come (on
this planet, anyway). Between this Sunday and the following Sunday, I
expect categorical statewide rainfall totals in excess of 3-4 inches.
That is likely to be a huge underestimate for most areas. Much of NorCal
is likely to see 5-10 inches in the lowlands, with 10-20 inches in
orographically-favored areas. Most of SoCal will see 3-6 inches at lower
elevations, with perhaps triple that amount in favored areas.
> >
> >This is where things get even more interesting, though. The models
are virtually unanimous in “reloading” the powerful jet stream and
forming an additional persistent kink 2000-3000 miles to our southwest
after next Sunday. This is a truly ominous pattern, because it implies
the potential for a strong Pineapple-type connection to develop. Indeed,
the 12z GFS now shows copious warm rains falling between days 12 and 16
across the entire state. Normally, such as scenario out beyond day seven
would be dubious at best. Since the models are in such truly remarkable
agreement, however, and because of the extremely high potential impact
of such an event, it’s worth mentioning now. Since there will be a
massive volume of freshly-fallen snow (even at relatively low elevations
between 3000-5000 feet), even a moderately warm storm event would cause
very serious flooding. This situation will have to monitored closely.
Even if the tropical connection does not develop, expected rains in the
coming 7-10 days will likely be sufficient to cause flooding in and of
themselves (even in spite of dry antecedent conditions).
> >
> >In addition to very heavy precipitation, powerful winds may result
from very steep pressure gradients associated with the large and deep
low pressure centers expected to begin approaching the coast by early
next week. Though it’s not clear at the moment just how powerful these
winds may be, there is certainly the potential for a widespread damaging
wind event at some point, and the high Sierra peaks are likely to see
gusts in the 100-200 mph range (since the 200kt jet at 200-300 mb will
essentially run directly into the mountains at some point). The details
of this will have to be hashed out as the event(s) draw closer.
> >
> >In short, the next 2-3 weeks (at least) are likely to be more active
across California than any other 2-3 week period in recent memory. The
potential exists for a dangerous flood scenario to arise at some point
during this interval, especially with the possibility of a heavy
rain-on-snow event during late week 2. In some parts of Southern
, a whole season’s worth of rain could fall over the course of
5-10 days. This is likely to be a rather memorable event. Stay tuned.

Euro computer wx model depiction of 200mb jet stream on next Wednesday. Storm track AIMED on southern Calif.My response to RPauli after seeing this was "Is that storm warning as bizarre as it looks? The picture is like the sword of Damocles aimed at San Francisco. Oh wait. Aren't there a lot of teh gehs there?

(don't know why the picture keeps vanishing!)


  1. Humanity on Earth, thirteen billion years in the making and I get to witness the beginning of the end.

  2. Isn't it just maddening to attempt to pound some sense into the heads of the denialists?

    Good for you, I give up on doing this, their minds are made up and nothing, not even proof will awaken them from their slumber. ~Survival Acres~

  3. Survival, I only engage denialists when I'm looking for a source of amusement. Of course, you've been at this much longer than I so maybe after a while they just aren't funny anymore. Sarah Palin isn't so funny anymore, come to think of it - the Wasillabilly has become just, sordid.

    Dion, how long do you give us till most of the earth looks like Haiti?

  4. Hi Gail, I'd give it several generations. The world's poorest will naturally succumb first. During the many catastrophes brought on by man made climate change, man made war will be very prevalent.

  5. Ah Dion, something to look forwards to!

  6. The first really big encounter between denial and reality seems likely to be a consequence of the disappearence of glacial meltwater from the Himalayas. That will involve China, India, and Pakistan, among others. Three nuclear nations, each with a recent history of less-than-rational behavior. What's the over and under on cooler heads prevailing?


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